Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pants in shorts



It’s been a frightening time for too many reasons so I’m immensely relieved to find that I still have feet. That’s one less thing I have to develop crippling anxiety about. I haven’t actually seen my feet for some time as they’ve been concealed in Boots the Chemist flight socks for the better part of the year. To die of deep vein thrombosis when I hadn’t taken a long-haul flight would have been too depressing and embarrassing so I thought it better not to take the risk. Today I emerged from the four layers of clothing and the same of bedding in which I have been permanently sequestered to find that spring has arrived in western Victoria. Admittedly it was well after midday. I was beginning to think I’d landed in a climate-free weather zone. As the sun roared down confidently, I dug out the peddle-pushing puddle-jumpers and Bob was my red, red robin-loving uncle. I discovered that the farm’s trampoline makes an excellent sun lounger and was able to read by natural light for the first time this year.

I also ventured out into the adjoining woodland to find the lovely frisky horses next door brimming with seasonal joy and eager to pop over for a chat and large clumps of well-watered grass from my side of the fence. Some things don’t change. My mission for this year has been to get over myself, a project that has had more downs than ups. I blame the lack of sun, amongst other things. There wasn’t much sun in England either but neither did I expect it and it was a situation that was easily remedied by devoting a tea break to lastminute.com. I nearly always went in search of places where clouds aren’t a measurable contributor to GDP in September and October after the inevitable abysmal excuse for a London summer had finally acquired the decency to slink away. But now I believe I might be in for something approaching seasonal clemency. You could forgive England for its climactic caprice but not Australia. What else is there?

I knew when I came to live here that I would sacrifice my instant access to mainstream culture and my easy proximity to the rest of the globe. There’d be no meeting friends in the bar at the Tate Britain and popping downstairs to see the Frida Kahlo exhibition, no flying into town on the No. 26 bus on the last Sunday afternoon of the El Greco. No Damien Hirst. No Tracey Emin. No Turner Prize. I knew I wouldn’t be able to flit off to Calais for a spot of shopping or take the Eurostar to Paris just to have lunch in Montmartre and stroll along the Boulevard Saint-Michel. There’d be no long weekends in New York, Vienna or Prague. No getaways to Cuba, Cyprus, Croatia. I still think I’ll be okay with all that if I can just get some sunny sodding weather.

When I knew I was leaving London for good, I spent a year on a solemn pilgrimage around all my oldest favourite places. I had pasta at the Pollo Bar which had been recently gutted and remodelled to look exactly as it had always, only slightly cleaner. I ate Tandoori chicken in Brick Lane which had thirty-five million quid thrown at it in the nineties and came out dirtier. I ordered the superb şiş kebab at the Mangal II in Dalston which also pissed away thirty-five million squids with the nonchalance of a gambler who’d hit the triple rollover on Euromillions. I once saw a tramp sauntering down Dalston Lane carrying two Armani suit bags full of grubby plastic Costcutter carriers and vintage copies of News of the World. Says it all really. Gilbert and George were at the Mangal II, as they have been every evening for several years. I used to think it was because they fancied the waiters, who by and large are pretty yummy – I know someone who married one of them. They don’t make very good husbands. One evening when I was having dinner with an art historian in seats recently vacated by G&G, she told me it’s because they have that ongoing project where they use their faeces as the raw material. Cheaper than oils I guess. They have to eat the same thing every day to guarantee consistency of quality. It’s this attention to detail that makes them world class I suppose but it was probably not the right time to be considering that particular piece of information. I was very glad I hadn't ordered the kofte.

I’d passed two tranquil months in the British Library typing out all five published works by my G-G-Grandfather who was transported to Australia in 1819. You can’t photocopy rare books so I undertook this as a labour of love and with the intention of some day using it as the basis for a novel about him. I was satisfied I’d spent ample time in the BL but even so, on the last day as I walked to Euston Road to take the No. 30 bus back to Hackney Wick, I knew that I would really miss it and I do. Every summer day last year that clawed its way into the double figures, I took a tuna sandwich and a couple of cans of Stella Artois over to Hampstead Heath to spend the day sunbaking topless at the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond, my absolutely favourite place in all of Britain. Once or twice I even dived into the freezing natural pond to swim about with the ducks and coots and watch the kingfishers and dragonflies hover about at the far end. On a really sunny day, there’s no lovelier place to be.

I’ve never in my life been as cold as I’ve been these past four months in western Victoria. I have never before worn all my clothes to bed and still been cold, not even in Russia in the middle of winter. The Russians may not have much else but they have heating and vodka. The mountains of Japan run a close second, the difference being that with all my clothes and four futons on top of me I did actually warm up eventually, after lots of hot sake. But now I might have something to look forward to. Where there is sun, there may be more sun and… and… Ms O’Dyne and I have been offered free accommodation in a fabulous seaside mansion and, with luck, the two phenomena might coincide. Is there a God? Name Ra by any chance?

35 comments:

Andrew said...

Sounds like you home is London Pants. What are you doing here?

Ann O'Dyne said...

Yep - RA is The God.

2. many people think that Gilbert and George are 2 heaps of crap, and now we know for sure.

3. all one's clothes on, plus 4 doonas and still with chattering teeth is what happens when one is coming off a drug addiction. it's not funny.

4. Oh I do hope to be beside the seaside,
Oh I do hope to be beside the sea ...
Ah yes, the ebb and flow of the tide and the Tonic water. Roll on!

R.H. said...

It was 28C here yesterday, do you get those temperatures in London first month of Spring?
You're talking nonsense, really. Utter rubbish.

R.H. said...

And why would you want culture when you can have a pie and sauce?

R.H. said...

Move to the inner-suburbs here and you'll be in Hackney again. -No difference, none whatsover, posuers are the same all over the world.

That's So Pants said...

Hi Andrew

Yes - I'm a moaning minnie. What was I thinking?

Hello Ms O'Dyne

Okay - I'll give up the Tim Tams. What's the methodone equivalent, Iced Vo Vo?

Hello RH

I think the general idea was a Hackney antidote rather than substitute. I'm working on it.

xxx

Pants

Brian Hughes said...

"You could forgive England for its climactic caprice but not Australia. What else is there?"

The wombats are cute.

That's So Pants said...

Hi Brian

Yes they are and I'm going to be living in wombat country so that's a plus but as Barney and I discovered to our great sorrow, they aren't great crossers of highways. Bit like hedgehogs in that respect.

xxx

Pants

J said...

Hi Pants,

It's been a rubbish summer in London... you haven't missed much! It's a nice sunny day today though.

Ms Melancholy said...

I do believe you get deported back to the UK for being a moaning Minnie, so be warned Ms Pants. Things here have only gone downhill since you left, and given that the bar wasn't very high to start with you can imagine what that means.

(So bad, it seems, I am forced into mixing metaphors.)

I do hope you find some sunshine soon...please send it on to Yorkshire once you have done with it. Thank you so much.

BlissHill said...

It has been a cold winter this year Pants. More like the ones we used to have.

I would miss the culture of Europe/UK too, but not having access to much in Gippsland for the past 25 years, my brain has shrunk down nicely so I barely notice it. That might happen to you and give you some relief.

That's So Pants said...

Hi J

Thanks, I feel much better now.

Hi Ms M

Sun in Yorkshire? Is that actually legal?

Hi Blissie

At last, something to look forward to. I'll order a smaller beanie, shall I?

xxx

Pants

phil said...

Simple really, you're in the wrong part of the country.

Reading the Signs said...

There is a God, Pants, but we both know He is called Harold and is unpredictable. Wishing you a fabulous summer even so.

bruce said...

Never give up the Tim Tams! Just reading those words brings me out in a cold sweat...

Caroline said...

I loved that. Thanks. Sorry you were cold.

Yes I know its not my fault, but I'm just sorry she had to suffer. Geezus just go away would you

Hello Pants. I miss the BL now too. But you didn't go there. Yes I know. But I miss it now

That's So Pants said...

Hi Phil

I know but I just couldn't live in QLD again - too much history.

Hey Signs

You mean that dirty bugger from the Kingdom of Cum?

Yo Bruce

Almighty? See above.

Hi Caroline

Is Barney there with you or are you just bipolar? Bipolar would be preferrable obviously.

xxx

Pants

Reading the Signs said...

Pants, wash your mouth out! (Sorry God, but it was her being dirty not me and, while I have Thy ear, I'm a bit skint at the moment and would appreciate Thy attentions thereto, thanking in anticipation).

That's So Pants said...

Hi Signs

As always, please feel free to channel - everyone else does.

xxx

Pants

Wisewebwoman said...

Well the upside, Pants, is that your life was spared, you were merely deported to from whence you came.
As to the chill, I thought you whenced from sturdier stock but you mention the writing ggfather and it explains a lot. Thin, artistic blood.
Spring should defrost you and the Barnmeister and perhaps we shall read more of the enceinte novel?
XO
WWW

That's So Pants said...

Hi WWW

Sorry, softened by central heating. Barney is fine, he's 99.5% fur.

xxx

Pants

zhisou said...

When did you move to Australia?

R.H. said...

Why isn't this blog on local time?

Fix it, I can't do arithmetic!

-ROBBBERT!

R.H. said...

Wake up to yourself!

ROBBBERT!!!

That's So Pants said...

Hi Zhisou

How lovely to hear from you. I tried to subscribe to your blog but the difficulty factor was too high for me I'm afraid. Can you get in touch and let me know how please. The move to OZ happened via India earlier this year.

Hi RH

Buy a watch?

And again...

Wake up to myself? I would be the person snoring would I?

xxx

Pants

Minx said...

Complaining about the weather is a Brit thing - you can let it go now.

That's So Pants said...

Hi Minxie

How nice to hear from you too. Can't let go, I'm afraid. It's all too entrenched now. I dream about Loose Women too.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Loose women are my life.

zhisou said...

pants, my blog wasn´t subscription only, I just stopped blogging so made it private.

I have a new one now: zhisou.wordpress.com but the old one is now open to the public again too.

How was India? How are you finding Australia after so many years away? What made you leave London town - was it Gordon Brown - or, heaven forbid, Boris?

That's So Pants said...

Hi RH

Gwon!

Hey Zhisou

Good news. Consider yourself blogrolled.

India was great - scan back over January and you'll find a post or two on the grand tour.

Leaving England? It was my time I guess you could say. I was over Gordon but Boris was not yet on the horizon. I still have fond memories of nearly running him down in my car in the back streets of Islington. I have had enormous adjustment problems and have blogged of nothing else for months. Don't bother scrolling back, it's all the same.

xxx

Pants

Minx said...

I dream about loose men!

That's So Pants said...

Minxie, why didn't you say earlier. I was just in town, although the men there strike me as more 'escaped' than 'loose'. How fussy are you?


xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

How could they escape, when they're all on a leash! Poodles. Lapdogs. Balding shaven-headers! ha ha ha! Pomeranians, golly, it's a wonder they don't drink out of the dog's dish.
Just remember the RH Dictum, here it is: Men do what women want -to get what they want, from women!

That's it. And no joke. It's a fact.

That's So Pants said...

Hi RH

Well, I guess being a bit of a loner has its benefits. It all sounds a little too complicated to me. Usually, all I want is read a book and, thankfully I don't yet need any help with that.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

xxx