Friday, April 04, 2008


A letter came today to tell me my stuff had arrived. By ‘stuff’ I mean the contents of House of Pants, late of Hackney, East London. In the nearly four months we have been adrift from each other, I was able to fantasise that I lived the life of a traveller, free of encumbering chattels and burdens. Staying at HOP Snr requires no sacrifices as Ma Pants has at least three of everything you could ever imagine needing. My sojourn without familiar possessions has hardly been the life of Isabelle Eberhardt. Now, in a lonely storage facility somewhere near Melbourne, sit the items that make up my London life. But I am still in Noosa. Problem.

The planned road trip did not eventuate and the exchange rate remains doggedly inopportune. I am even further from discovering a purpose in life than I was when I first set out. In short I have no idea what to do. I have made no efforts towards establishing myself as a citizen of this country and, what’s more, I can’t even imagine where to start. I have done nothing beyond write 45,000 words of a new novel, which although worthy by most people’s accounting, is not really getting the job of securing my physical and emotional future done.

Australia is full of stuff and the population is obsessed with getting more of it. As in Britain, there are television shows devoted to having too much of it, storing great quantities of it, buying it cheaper, going into therapy because of it and, like the dog who drops the bone in the river, losing it all because you can’t stop help coveting it. The HOP Snr letterbox collects so much literature advertising all manner of it on a daily basis, I almost missed the important letter telling me my stuff was looking for me. Above is today’s selection. I hauled it in with my last morsel of remaining strength after completing my early morning run down to the river and back. It is a measure of my total resistance to acclimatisation that this morning I realised I had been saluting pee wees for weeks. What is to become of me?

Clive Hamilton, the Australian economist, has been banging on for years about a thing he calls affluenza, a chronic illness afflicting the Americanised western world. It’s a brain degenerating disease that causes blindness to the fact that a great many people are succeeding in persuading you to part with money you don’t have for goods you neither want nor need. He says the way we live now is a triumph of marketing over morals, or words to that effect. I don’t have Growth Fetish, his excellent treatise on the subject, to hand as it is nestling somewhere amongst the eighty boxes of books that comprise the overwhelming bulk of my stuff. In all there are one hundred and ten boxes and packages. Two of them are clothes, one is shoes, one kitchen bits and bobs and one bedding and towels. Also there is the Dyson vacuum cleaner I sentimentally purchased in the Argos sale because I wanted one iconic British product as a keepsake and I’ve already had a mini and a red telephone box. I have about ten boxes of diaries and drafts of various projects and another four of DVDs and CDs. The rest of the packages are batches of paintings.

I don’t think I’m in any danger of succumbing to affluenza. However, I may not entirely escape the remarkable range and versatility of the marketing phenomenon. You see, I suspect I may fall into a category of people for whom there is just as fierce competition between those insidious little people who try to sell us things. Much as I am loath to think of myself as such, I am probably one of these work/life balance fanatics they call a sea-changer or simple-lifer. These are people who, fed up with being stuck on the highway to hypertension, decide to move their protesting families to windswept islands and teach them all how to spin llama wool. Although I have no wish whatever to spend entire days hand pressing enough olive oil to drizzle on my home grown basil and tomato salad, I fear that not only will I be competing with these crazies for a quiet and picturesque residence, I will very likely end up with them as neighbours. If not now, eventually. The trick will be to find somewhere that’s too naff ever to be a candidate for a grey nomad makeover.

So now my new life must begin. Any ideas on where to start will be gratefully received, especially if they involve me getting paid a great deal of money for doing little else but think for a bit and then type for a bit…


Andrew said...

I know where your container will be Pants. I go along and have a sticky.

Quink said...

It could be said that you were used to having crazies for neighbours, but I think the olive oil pressers may be a step too far.

I've no idea where you could start - but good luck!

Wisewebwoman said...

Lots of meditation, Pants, the answers will come, they always do.
Open up your arms to the sky, empty your thoughts. Imagine a clean slate.

Reading the Signs said...

I haven't any ideas, Pants. But didn't you once say that what you wanted to do was just be somewhere and get on with writing? So maybe that's just what you need to do for a bit.

phil said...

45,000 words on how you taught llamas to press olive oil. I guarantee the Age will print it.

Ms Baroque said...

Darling Ms P, I think you should just stay with Ma P for a while and type. Then again, I can understand that you want to get going with the next bit!

However, good news: there are some wonderful people known to both me and a certain Ms J Bros who are currrently in Melbourne: so if you did venture thataway, you'd be sure of a fun chat about London at the very least...

Note my new URL, by the way. Wordpress. No idea why.

And PS - Sorry! I thought I'd left a comment on here ages ago, but I think it might have been the night I fell asleep over the laptop... must have forgotten to click send... hopeless.

BlissHill said...

Maybe Noosa is not the place to escape 'affluenza'. I wouldn't dream of hanging out there because it's full of wannabees and nouveau riche.

Put your stuff in storage and get out on the highway and go look around. There are plenty of great spots in a huge country, and terrific people (we're fabulous!).

Life is what you make it.

That's So Pants said...

Hi guys

Thanks. Some excellent ideas, mostly of the do nothing variety - my kind of action!



dysthymiac said...

Noosa is the natural habitat of graduates of Affluenza University!!

Australian TV-viewers embraced those mall-worshipping hunter-gatherers 'Kath and Kim'.

Leave your stuff packed up.
Join then live out of one shoulder bag, as I have successfully done for more than a year now.

god it's funny.