Victor Charlie Fox Trot Ovah Under Outer Inner Send More Whiskey, Vermouth and Cigs Totty Fox Bravo Ovah?
Greetings from Flood City and in particular The Thoroughly Modern Colin Emergency Centre of Kenmore where I am accepting refugees from my work and their families. I currently have a colleague William and his girlfriend and his parents and his best friend and his cat called Jet. I love Jet. We’re hanging out smoking and drinking martinis. I’m not giving him back.
Will’s house at Figtreepocket went under Wednesday morning. Figtreepocket is just down the road from Kenmore which is located in Brisbane’s inner west. Will’s parents live in Mogill which is further out west and cut off from the rest of Brisbane. We are lucky that my parents’ house is on top of a hill at Kenmore and has a fully stocked bar. We are safe then from rising waters and being thirsty. We do however literally have no yeast left in the city. The last loaf of bread was collected Tuesday afternoon as the whole city went into a 1970s disaster pic hissy fit as everyone purchased 50 loaves of bread each. There was actually a riot at the Kenmore Village Coles New World yesterday as psychotic Kenmorians attempted to put the entire store into their SUVs. The police had to be called in to shut down the store. All ironic really...considering that most of Kenmore is on a hill away from the floods.
The disaster started unfolding when I walked into the office on Tuesday morning at 9.32 and I heard Will explaining to his father on the phone that sandbags require sand. I put down my toasted ham and cheese sanger looked out the window and saw half of the eagle street pier floating down the river. I wondered then if I would have to cancel lunch at the pier that day. This upset me but I coped by drinking my iced coffee. The Senior Manager then announced that the BCP Business Plan was being enacted. I thought...how on earth could we think of accounting at a time like this? I finished my iced coffee, rearranged my Epsom files, ignored my manager's phonecalls and read my Vanity Fair. Another colleague then drew my attention to the fact that the BCP Business Plan was indeed an emergency evacuation procedure and that we had to leave. I told her I had to finish my sandwich first.
When I finally left CP1 (my work building) I was confronted by a barrage of people with umbrellas fighting to get on buses, cabs , trains, horses and wayward cows. Anything to get out of Tsunami City. Where was Batman? Where was Spiderman? Where was someone in something tight to save us? No one but there was my father in the University of Queensland Mail Van to save me. Pushing his way through the chaos, Dad picked me up along with my mother all seated snuggled in the only seat...the front bench seat. Together we looked like the Kenmore Hillbillies.
It took us two hours to get home to Kenmore (the same distanc e to Dulwich Hill from Sydney CBD) and half of that driving next to a Brisbane River which was rising quickly. And it kept raining and raining and raining. And all through the night. Will brought over his three cars to put in our front yard. He said he was worried they would float away if he kept them at home. I looked at him as if he had a crack habit. Flood figtreepocket? Are you nuts? Calm down Will, I thought.
9 o’clock the next morning Will called panicked saying we needed to take all his food, frozen and in between. Yet again, I had a similar reaction going....what? You're over-reacting. I then drove down to his house to find it resembling a lake. I then realised this was no dress rehearsal. We rescued all we could as quickly as we could, the water encroaching on us minute by minute. The ground was impossible to walk on resembling mud cake unfortunately not smelling like it. Residents looked frightened ...really frightened.
Dad and I drove past suburbs like Chappell Hill, Toowoong, Auchenflower, St Lucia ...all under water and we hadn’t even hit the peak yet. The Jindalee Bridge was almost under water and the Brisbane River was half way up the hill that protected our house. It wouldn’t get any further but that was enough for me.
We’ve been lucky in Kenmore. We have had power all the time and most of that time phone coverage...although today I lost coverage with the 3 network. It’s back tonight. I have so many friends who have not had power since Tuesday and dying phone coverage.
The disaster was harrowing and heart breaking but at least Brisbane had warning. The poor people in Toowoomba and the Lockyer Valley had none and I fear that death toll is going to rise dramatically.
But as I said, at least The Colin Compound has a fully stocked bar and I am whipping up Sweet Manhattans as we speak. So please send more vermouth and whiskey.
Greetings from Queensland which has recently been renamed Wetland as the monsoons breaking the 100 year drought continue to pour down. I’m sitting here in my clogs sipping on mum’s special punch contemplating the year that was and wondering where I put those plans for an ark. Upstairs I can hear my mother reading Xmas cards to my father and brother from people they haven’t seen since the fall of the Berlin Wall whilst supervising my father and his apparent inability to make ham sandwiches. Soon we will be putting on our raincoats and jumping on boats to go to my cousins’ place in Caboolture for Xmas lunch. A Very Caboolture Xmas.....ah the serenity.
So here we are
Even Mike Leigh (of Secrets and Lies and Happy Go Lucky fame) has made a film about this process aptly titled Another Year, the title itself evoking a resignation of a slow plummet to the end, rather than a celebration.
Twenty Ten officially marked my move into the 'do you remember when?' phaze of life which from what I've observed of my parents and their parents before them, will last until I actually can't remember anything at all. The process involves continual exchanges with people you haven't seen since the advent of social networking reminiscing about a particular event, fashion item, band, movie or song. Did I really wear that? Who sang that? Remember that club? Remember that weekend? Who are you? I now find myself continually claiming to be around the first time for just about the first version of anything. As a kid it infuriated me that every song I adored my mother would say, " I remember when that first came out. ' 'That's an old song.' 'Everything old is new again.' 'Oh Little Eva's version was much better.' I was miffed for weeks when I realised that Little Eva did the Locomotion before La Minogue. Now I find myself doing the same thing.At Splendour in the Grass (festival) in July I corrected a girl for saying that the band Passion Pitt had written the song, Dreams, which they had just performed on the main stage. Myself and the flock of Triple J fearing lesbians I was attending the festival with, launched on said Gen Y girl in a governess style fashion and attempted to put her right .
Me: "Passion Pitt did not write that song' Y: 'Who did?' Me: 'The Cranberries.' Y : 'Who are they?' Lesbians gasped Me: 'Dolores O'Riordan' Y: 'Never heard of her.' Lesbians attempted lynch. Me:'Oh my god she was huge.'
I found myself gesticulating as if on fire in attempt to indicate the 'hugeness' of Dolores and her Cranberries while the girl looked at me as if I belonged in one of Bert Newton's 20 to 1 specials. I then knew how my mother felt when I asked if Petula Clarke was a brand of jam.
In February, I returned to Brisbane after being away 9 years. 8 1/2 of those years in Sydney and roughly the remaining half in London. After not being able to find work in London, I decided to spend money like I had tonnes of it and travel through Europe and the States and come home broke to my parents. Which is exactly where one expects to be at the age of 35.
I actually quite like it. Living at home is like living in a serviced apartment. Mum and Dad do everything for me. My laundry, my cooking, my cleaning ....my bills. They drive me to work. They drive me to parties. They pick me up from parties. They pick me up from work. They even let me ignore them. I listen to my ipod. I surf the net. I watch DVDs. I’ve almost completed reading the entire Twilight series and by the end of next week I fully expect to be a 14 year old girl.
Mum and Dad live in the suburb of Kenmore where I am the only resident who cannot access his superannuation. They live in a run down Spanish Hacienda House which apparently was built by Miss Australia 1971....although not literally I believe. Am told she had some help. We found her sash near the hot water system when Mum and Dad first moved in 12 years ago along with a box of old pennys; perhaps she was trying to create a time capsule. Anyway as you walk through the Spanish Revival (what does that mean?) front door of Mum and Dad's, you are confronted by a six foot portrait of Jesus Christ. So think Majorca on the outside, Bethlehem on the inside. My mother has so many religious ornaments in the house that I am constantly in fear of being nailed to something. Everywhere I look there is a painting of Jesus looking sad. Why didn't that guy ever smile?
Mum and Dad don’t like renovations. The kitchen is one of those asbestos installed kitchens which can only be removed by astronauts. The pool is the same. It's one of those fibreglass pools from the 80s which look like they were installed by Barbie. Except ours now looks like it was installed by Baghdad Barbie. Mum and Dad don't understand mood lighting. There are fluorescent lights everywhere in the house. A lamp to them is the beta video of lighting.Why have warm subtle lighting when you can light your house like a solarium? I have received so much fluorescent light since I moved back that I am about to change race. Dad keeps my brother’s broken down corolla in the front yard to keep away burglars. It also keeps away capital gains. Mum and Dad are excited though. We have new neighbours. They're young, have two kids, two dogs and an international porn distribution business. I found this out when I questioned ’Ron’ as to why there were 400 dildos in his front yard. Dad thought they were garden gnomes. Mum is still upset that they didn't come to xmas drinks.
I started back at work in my old job but in my work’s Brisbane office. They are a great team but drink a little and generally are loud all the time forcing me not to work at all. I spend most of my lunch hours being confronted by declarations of ‘Oh my god it’s John Cahill’, ‘John Cahill it’s been a long time.’, ‘John Cahill you haven’t changed at all.’ from people I’ve never seen before in my life but claim to have gone to school and/or university or a darkened alley with me. It appears that everyone has come back to Brisbane to have babies or a good lie down and generally both. I love Brisbane. I’ve missed its storms, its smiles and its inability to merge. Brisbane drivers are still not familiar with the concept. And catching a cab on a Saturday night is still like waiting for Whitney Houston to arrive. To think that the last time I lived in Brisbane, I wanted to rule the world, now I just want a cab.
This year I also commenced my Masters of Creative Writing at Queensland University of Technology which has been great. I've been surrounded by people who were born after the release date of Pretty Woman in 1990; Post Pretty Womans I like to call them or PPWs. PPWs are actually quite fun and once you get them away from their iphones and angst, they actually talk. I've made some great friends although sometimes I fear I maybe turning into that annoying mature age student I remember from my uni days who had a sweating problem and still smoked ....and lived with his mother. All this aside, I’ve been having a great time doing the course with a chapter of my book being selected by the Brisbane Writers’ Festival for a meeting with publishers from the UK. They had lovely scones.
I’ve also started doing stand up comedy. Yes.....I’m having a mid-life crisis, come sit next to me. I started in October making my debut at the Paddo Tavern Sit Down Comedy Club in Brisbane after completing a six week course. It’s more terrifying than a Whitney Houston concert and you often find yourself performing to about as many people who are left remaining at the end of a Whitney Houston concert. But it’s tonnes fun and I’m enjoying it immensely. Most of the time, I’m the only guy on stage who doesn’t refer to masturbation and/or sex with his pets whilst smoking his bong. I like to think I am refreshing.
I now have to sign off as my mother is screaming at my father for more ham sandwiches and at me to get ready for the journey to Caboolture (where Keith Urban is from...am wondering if I will bump into Nicole at the pokies). To think this time last year I was snowed in at a cute village in Frenchiland with my Mrs Van Trap drinking mulled vodka. Still....it’s nice to be home. Merry Exmus and the best of New Year’s to all.
Me: Hello Caller: Is that Colin speaking? Me: Yes Caller: Is that Colin Modern? Me: Aha Caller: It's Carmen Jones Me: Carmen who? Caller: You know who I am Me: Do I? Caller: Yes you do. Me: How? Caller: You wrote to me this time last year regarding the Afrika Central Bank Me: Oh yes I do remember you. You gave the $200K to the African you met in a bar. Caller: Yes that's me. Me: Am gathering you haven't found him. Caller: No I haven't. I have your letter. Me: That's nice Caller: It's not very nice. Me: How so? Caller: You should be investigating this matter. Me: As I explained to you when I met with you, your complaint is a matter of Fraud and as such you should report it to the police. Caller: You did not meet with me Me: Yes I did; with my colleague Sharon. Caller: Are the young man who met with me? Me: Stop it ya big flirt.
Old friend: Oh my god....I thought you were dead! Me: I thought I was too. Old Friend: Get out. How the fuck are you? Me: Ya ya.....am good. Back living with the folks at the Thoroughly Modern Compound Old Friend: How are u coping with Brisbane? Me: Strangely: Am loving it. London wasn't for me and I don't think I want to go back to Sydney. Old Friend: What are u doing this weekend? Me: I can't. I am absolutely flatstrapped. Am doing post grad in Creative Writing at the moment....my mid life crisis.... and I have five thousand things due on Monday; maybe next Friday night? Old Friend: Oh my god where are u doing that? Me: QUT Old Friend: Stuart Jones Me: Yes....he's one of my tutors. Old Friend: That's the Stuart I used to talk to you about Me: Are you serious? That Stuart? Old Friend: Yes Me: Oh gosh now I remember. Old Friend: You did meet him once. Me: I wondered where I knew him from Old Friend: I think I took him to your 30th. Me: He wore a leather overcoat in November. Old Friend: Yup that's him Me: How could I forget? Old Friend: Don't mention my name. Me: Really? Old Friend: He kept calling my mother for ages asking for my number. Me: Well you did kind of end it abruptly. Old Friend: I met that engineer Me: He was hot. Old Friend: I know Me: What happened to him? Old Friend: I turned 40.
Hello everyone...unfortunately I have been laptopless this last month as my old faithful blew up a week before xmas. And because I am a hopeless shopper, I cannot make up my mind as to which laptop to purchase. So I haven't been writing much...which is driving me nuts. Find below my xmas email to friends all over the place. Am currently sitting in the coldest internet cafe in Britain attempting to type with my iceblock fingers. Never again am I doing winter in the UK! NEVA!
.......Seasons Greetings from the land of transport chaos. Yes one flake of snow and this whole nation falls apart. Airports are turned into refugee camps, train stations into soup kitchens and roads into spaghetti. It's Armageddon The Musical!!!!! Come and bring a bucket of panic!!!!
Ok there has been slightly more than one flake of snow but everyone seems to react with an absolute aghast that this may happen.....that it may snow .....like lots...in this country! As if it has never happened before. The mother country is certainly one hell of an old woman. Ques for instance. This country invented the que when the ration was invented in World War 1 and they literally have not looked back since; never. They will que for anything without protest....for hours. Never question; never investigate; simply stand there turn on their facial screensavers and wait. The number of ques I have seen with people waiting for either something that is broken down or not even in existance is quite harrowing. Any wonder they lost the Empire, they were too busy queing.
Enuff moaning........ update as to life of mwa.
Well I arrived on the 14th of September.
For the first 7 weeks, I stayed with my friend Matt in the town of Reading which is about an hour's north of London. Reading is kinder like the Blue Mountains minus the Mountains and the Blue. A town of quaint cottages, third rate universities and pregnant 13 year olds. Matt's place was right on the river and had a terraced garden leading down to it. Twas lovely although as much as it was Jane Austen out the back, it was more like Trainspotting in the front. There was a pub on the corner formerly run by the IRA and now run as a drug front by the local Nigerian Mafia. Navigating one's way to the train station was often spent negotiating with wired bogans (or chavs as they like to call them here) or Nigerian godfathers dressed like Liberace. Needless to say I spent alot of time in the terraced garden or in London.
The first couple of months was spent doing countless interviews with recruitment officers who promise you everything from sets of steak knives to walking on water and then never call you again. In London they all speak so quickly and jump and down so much, you begin to think you're being interviewed by a human breed of chiwawa. To cope with that, I spent most of my time in one of the five thousand pubs in London and then a few more thousand in Berlin and Paris. I also managed to sit four interviews with the FSA (equivalent of my work in Oz); they managed to reject me four times as well which was awfully generous of them; every time I came into an interview I felt like that nerd who continually comes back to Australian or American Idol and re-auditions and re-auditions and they eventually get him to release a single to make him go away; so am hoping the FSA will offer me a recording contract soon.
Since November I have been working at Camden Borough Council as a lawyer in their child protection team; not ideally what I wanted to do but for the time being, it's a job and it allows me to continue to look around for something better. I always said after my time at DOCS, that I would never do child protection again and I now remember why....I used to always think it was because of the subject matter but it's actually dealing with the nutty social workers which drive you to the edge. Having said that, the group of lawyers I work with are very nice; out of ten lawyers, I'm the only male lawyer....so not much different to MBR!
I am living a ten minute walk away from work having become the Demi Moore of flatmates moving in with a 23 yr old guy in Kings Cross...... mind you I still can't get into work before 9.30. I had my first sitting at my desk "oh my it's snowing" experience last week. Snow is only good for one thing.....sitting in ur office looking at it; nothing else. Suddenly roads turn to slush, footpaths turn into surprise skating rinks and ur boots turn into clogs. Not a great look. And it has a tendancy to shut down airports which can be a bit of a pain when you have booked a weekend escape to Barcelona and can't leave because the airport is iced over. Was not happy last Friday Jan! Still London does xmas really well with Oxford and Regent streets amassed with Xmas lights and decorations. Strangely having grown up with summer xmas's, it seems a bit strange not to be sweating this time of year and looking forward to that storm coming over the horizon.
I was in Berlin the weekend before last and it was seriously "call the f'ing police' cold. -8 with -20 wind chill factor and all these crazy Berlinas out at the xmas markets drinking mald wine and eating their bratwursts. At one stage I thought it was hailing, then I realised it was snow and consequently ordered more bratwurts to put in my shoes to revive my blackened frost bitten tootsies. Berlinas are such lovely people.....almost too lovely.....anywhere we went someone would always talk to us ....it was almost like they were constantly trying to say "Hey...we're not Hitler!...Have a drink!". Which I guess is understandable.
We went to the world's best nightclub called Berghanhauff (am actually making that name up...I can't remember the name...it was huge) located in an abandoned factory in East Berlin. It was so underground, I thought perhaps we were being put in jail. We qued for two hours (yes Berlinas que as well) to get in and the door bitches were trully terrifying throwing people out who didn't have "the look". I wasn't quite sure what "the" look was as it varied from mad max to Julie Andrews on crack. Considering my friend and i were dressed as two yetties wearing our wearing parker dounas, I was concerned we would be cast out into the anti Berhanhauff abyss. But thankfully we were not. We must have been two hot looking yetties. And i must say what an amzing club. 7 different levels; arena after arena with varying music and electic group of people. It was fantastic. Not to mention am crossing the dancefloor and bump into two people from Brisbance. You can take the guy out of Brisbane.....
Anyway peeps, I've babbled enough. Am off to Switzerland for xmas and then driving to the Black Forest....fingers crossed....it's not snowed in so we can fly. Miss you all more than bricks. Have a merry xmas and a super new years. Please keep in touch.
PS: laptop blew up on the weekend. have crazy indian dude try to perform some sort of mircale on fried mother board.....I've got to remember not keep the laptop on the bed under a quilt....it kinder stuff things. So am facebookless for the forseeable future. I may die.