Thursday, September 04, 2008
The blue bird of haplessness
Suicidal Fairy Wren by Pants
I am crawling out from under a deep murky fog, both literally and figuratively. As spring teases frozen Victoria with frost-resistant daffodils that are no doubt some sort of insidious agri-mutant, we the demented optimistically rip ourselves from our cocoons of gloom into a consciousness of sorts. At least that’s how I like to see the seasonal behaviour of this fairy wren whose disturbing daily head-banging ritual is doing nothing for my tenuous adhesion to the tentacles of reality.
Every morning I shuffle into the drawing room, hair dryer trailing a long extension cord and blasting the icicles from my eyebrows. I open the fridge to savour a gust of warm air, (any port in a storm), before stoking up the sad excuse for a fire for one more valiant but ultimately futile battle with the cruel elements and non-existent roof insulation. And when is this country going to wake up to the virtues of heated towel rails pray? Oh, and did I mention the bog’s out on the back verandah? It might as well be in Newfoundland.
So, while I’m pointlessly sacrificing logs, da liddle boid bowls up and starts battering its funny fauny self against the defiantly un-double-glazed windows as sure as night is followed by something that looks very like night but is not quite as dark and a little more wet. What’s this all about nature lovers? Maybe he thinks we’re the only two beings left alive. Of course there’s Barney but surprisingly few natural creatures regard him as a living entity. Most of them are pretty sure they’ve seen things that look like Barney in the bargain bins of The Reject Shop.
Unlike my old Nikon, the Kodak doesn’t have motor drive so it took more effort than four seasons of Bill Oddie stalking badgers on Springwatch for me to get this shot. Then again, the Kodak doesn’t use up half my baggage allowance on budget airlines which is why the Nikon is parked in a storage shed in Laverton North and the Kodak is parked in my jeans. Is it certifiable to admit you miss Springwatch? Good Goddie I hope so. I also intuited that the people I’m house-sitting for in the wildest wests of Victoria may not appreciate me building a twitcher’s bunker in their drawing room. Although they might have been pleasantly surprised at how warm they can be and I naturally would have kitted it out with a Baby Belling, a Teasmade and four tonnes of recently killed whale’s blubber for which I would even prostitute myself to Japanese enviro-vandals. Yes I have been that cold.
I have never before experienced a requirement for a long-sleeved woollen vest. Now I have four of them and I wear them all at once. Electric blanket? Haven’t seen one since I was a child growing up in Sydney, a city so in denial of its appalling climate it should have its own support group. Now I break down weeping uncontrollably if I find an unelectrified bed. Staying in Melbourne with friends who had inexpensive and efficient gas heating that they reluctantly switched on and set to 15 degrees only after one of them contracted pneumonia was instructive. I was roundly pilloried for not having enough warm clothing. In my own defence I submit that this is the very same clothing that survived a London winter without me even having to wear more than a couple of pieces of it at any one time. Then again, I wasn’t sitting at a bus stop 24/7. In Melbourne, I might as well have been.
Tempting as it was, I have not yet been reduced to re-configuring the repatriated Barnster into a stole. Barney arrived back from Britain disguised as my long awaited e-Bay purchase of a 1970s special edition Bay City Rollers Tartan Bagpuss Deluxe still in its box. I couldn’t resist the cheerful thought that a child had received this for Christmas, was immediately told to register it as a pensionable investment and promptly decided to liquidate. Barney knows me too well. I have to say I admire him for knitting those duds himself and I know for a certain fact that he fooled at least two acknowledged experts from the Antiques Roadshow.
Reunited, we headed off to survey innocent and unsuspecting towns along the length of the Victorian coastline for possible locations in which to launch our joint initiative aimed at influencing civic well-being that we have dubbed Lowering The Tone. It’s early days but we think we may have found the perfect victim for our future activities. I can’t say anything yet as we don’t want to alert the law although the temptation to spook the market with our interest is enormous. Hackney has never recovered from our prolonged occupation. We could make a killing if only our homicidal knowledge extended beyond how to kill each other, which even we are smart enough to realise is counter-productive.
The Subaroo, which for some reason Barney has taken to smoking pot with and speaking gangsta to late at night, has conveyed us across the country with suspicious calm. It is disquieting to have a car select your music for you, particularly if it constantly reheats Coldplay which must be very unhealthy. I suspect a conspiracy. I’ve seen I Robot - more than once. Barney has at least made an effort to mingle, insisting that we stop to congratulate a wombat who made it across the Princess Highway intact. We had certainly seen many of the fallen so even we knew that this was a feat for the somewhat less than fleet wombat. All was going well until Barney asked the exhausted marsupial how he managed to keep his hat on while sleeping hanging upside down. It's a long story and one that involves an ill-conceived economy with the truth on my part. Will I never learn? I was grateful for the Subaroo’s central locking system and custom Barney cage at that point.
I know the bible talks about there being a purpose to every season yadda, yadda, yadda but that was before this whole global warming palaver thing happened and all bets are obviously off. I’m more inclined towards the sentiments of the great jazz lyricist Fran Landesman who said spring can really hang you up the most...