Sunday, 24 June 2012

Coffee and Country.


The Skink with the think in his head.

Once there was a skink, and I’m tempted to think,
That this skink had a think in his head.
He flew far away, travelled night and travelled day,
Till he sat by a river, and said:

“I am a skink, and skinks like to think,
Though it sometimes doesn’t do us much good.
We think all the time (and because skinks like to rhyme),
We think much much more than we should!”

“The problem with thought”, said the skink who was thinking,
“Is that it often distracts us from life”.
But he continued to think that thought in his head,
Till that thought in his head caused him strife.

He thought it longways and upwards, and leftwise and right.
He thought it under and over with all of his might.
He thought it forwards and backwards, and down to the ground.
Then back up to the top, and d’you know what he found?

The thought that he’d thunk wouldn’t leave him alone!
The skink was trapped thinking, and was all on his own.
This thought that he’d thunk wouldn’t do him much good,
And besides which, I’ve said, he thought it more than he should.

So this thought in question that’s the think of our skink,
Why’d he think it so much, and why’d his heart sink?
Well, this thought was sad and made our skink blue,
And he couldn’t stop thinking, so what more could he do?

He knew if he thought it, it could ruin his day,
But skinks like to think, what more can I say?
“Well, I need a plan”, our little skink said,
“That’ll help me not to think such thinks in my head!”

So, the skink sat to think, low down by that river,
And as the hot sun set our little skink shivered,
But he stayed there till night, to think of a plan,
And think hard he did, as only skinks can!

So after hours of thought, sat there by that river,
He cried, “I’ve got a plan, I just need think BIGGER”.
“I need to smile and grin!” he said,
“To help me not to think these thinks in my head!”

Really, in truth, the skink wanted to be happy.
He wanted to forget and be a normal skink chappy.
So he started pretending in order to smile.
Our little skink thought happy! (If just for a while).

But the problem with the skink, as I’ve already said,
Is that he just couldn’t help think that think in his head.
Though he tried and he tried to shove it right out,
In his dreams it crept back and he’d let out a shout.

“Can I ever forget?” our little skink cried!
“Am I destined to always have this sadness inside?
Can I really let go?” our little skink said,
“Will I always have this awful think in my head?”

And d’you know, often that think was still there.
In the odd word, a look or occasional nightmare.
Often that think did rear its sorry head,
But the skink could try to think another think instead.

So little by little, and bit by bit,
Perhaps the skink would get rid of it.
Perhaps in time he’d be all right,
Perhaps he wouldn’t lay wide-awake at night.

Perhaps on a sunny day he’d feel OK,
Perhaps eventually he’d just find a way,
Perhaps some time he’d feel really glad,
To let go of that think and the life he’d once had.

And that’s where we leave that lonesome low skink,
The one with the head filled right up with think.
He’ll probably just keep thinking, sat where he’s sat,
Until realises he could be better that.

But…..much later…..

(There’s one more thing about our skink left unsaid,
Eventually he forgot that awful think in his head,
One day he smiled, but a real smile instead,
And he went off happy and thoughtless, home to bed.)


This week has been a sleeves up affair, except for a few sleeves down setbacks.  I’ve been pushing on and trying to find fun and distraction in such places as it might be found. I’ve spent my last week (for the time being) in Melbourne, partied lots and tried to make plans for what happens next. I have begun to see a pattern emerging.

Other than posting photos of my trip so far and ‘liking’ a few bits and kibbles, i’ve found that the “internet” and Facebook in particular (being the omi-present harbinger that it is) is the place that I connect most with being made to feel shit. Of course it’s my fault for using it in a manner that leads to my grumbling sorrow. This week I’ve realised that however false I feel when I say “Ignorence is indeed bliss”, it is indeed true, and I’m better off staying away from things that I know are gonna fuck me up… as the old saying goes.

I’ve begun to feel a begrudging numbness. I feel a kind of exsistance that is possible through lying to oneself, consistantly. You can’t see me because my hands are over my face.
Some things that I’ve felt shift this week have lead me to believe that the choice to be happier is mine, and some things I’ve noticed have been circumstantial and an imagining of what can happen depending entirely on how I see a situation in the immediacy of the moment.

My ridiculous schoolboy nightmares have nearly passed and are now more sad and confusing than excruciating and hellish. Not to say I haven’t had dreams that have been gut-wrenchingly beautiful in their masterfully engineered sorrow, but thankfully I no longer wake sweating and with a lust for revenge and compensation.

In a way I was sad to say goodbye to Melbourne for a month. I was so extremely lucky to find a group of friends I would genuinely say are friends (despite me knowing them all a very short amount of time). Hancock, Albert, Maddog, Nina, Shaylie, Siena, Liam, Lewis, Ruby, Dave, Dave and Kyle, I’m talking to you. Thanks for being brilliant, understanding, funny and drunk with me. I’ll see you all before I go back to the UK I’m sure.

My top 5 places that I drank too much coffee in Fitzroy:

1) The Provenance (simply bitchin’ coffee and service…thanks Stew and Knives x)
2) Atomica (Awesome and tasty, not too hot and not too cold...Goldilocks coffee)
3) The Black Cat (I drank here lots..... Cheers Nina x)
4) ICI (great food too, but deep dark coffee goodness at its best)
5) The Convent (beautifully made coffee and amazing surroundings)

Coffee is mad here. I’m only going to say this. It means something and is very important to the area… and I might not drink it upon my return to the UK!

I got very much into country music during my time at the house in Napier Street. Thanks, for the most part must go to Alby and Nina. Their unrelenting Deep South accents and unstoppable enthusiasm for showing me new music did the job great. Sometimes you just need an ‘in’ for some genres of music. Plenty of people (though really only a notable few with any level of success) have tried to initiate me into the world of country music. Most have failed mainly because they actually only played me country and western music, which not only is a whole other ballpark, but as it turns out, is something I actually am not into no matter how hard I try.

I found however that given the right introduction and back story I didn’t need to try to get into country. Mournful stories of heartache and despair, told with a touching simplicity made me think again and listen in a whole new way. “These things also make me sad….you understand!” I said to myself.  It was remarkable how plainly and obviously I was able to feel part of the music and the singers intentions, and moreover how many country singers were singing of the same woes that I bitch at you about here in this rambling narrative of unfocused prose.

Since my last blog, which admittedly has been a few days longer than normal in coming, I’ve been up to a fair bit…. Tell you what, I’ll let you know using my words eh? What about that? Lets get growing!!!

Last Friday I journied the meagre few yards to Chris and Kyles house where upon we began the first proper rehearsal with our new band, ‘Redbone Dead’. Possibly together for one gig only, we are basically based around Alberts soulful yet manic country guitar pickings and vocal howlings, Hancocks tech-death snare accompaniment and my all too obvious but hopefully acceptable mariachi trumpet screeching. Later we added m’boy Doug on the wrench and chain and Lewis (Kyles little bro and Nick Cave look-a-like) on lead guitar. We basically got drunk and jammed away at the three riffs we know. Well it seemed to work. I’m pretty sure none of us would say we were the best band around, or for that matter, even that we were a band at all, but music is the most powerful and intense universal language there is and connections were made that can now not be broken. As with all music, good or bad (of the sort, that is played or produced with at least an amount of soul, integrity and passion) we expressed our own feelings through our instruments, out into the air and into the ears of those unlucky enough to be there…. mostly we expressed drunk feelings. But, man, what fun. We hope to make a demo, for posterity more than anything in August!

On Saturday I dragged myself loathsome and bedraggled (and far too late) from my sleeping hole and began the preparations for Kyle and Rubys ‘Onsie’ party! Oh, and what an affair it was to be!

Doug had on a onsie that made him look like the house dog, Major. Mine was an altogether more practical offering and I went in Alberts spare welding overalls. I thought I looked quite dashing. Every made the effort and we piled into our local ‘The Prov’ to drink, drink and drink some more. Redbone Dead kicked off, drinks went flying, tales were wailed and dances were flailed. Our first gig was memorable, in that it definitely happened, and I’ve seen photos that prove I was there, but musically we’ve got a bit of growing to do… that's all I’m saying…. All hail the Redbone Dead!
Redbone Dead. Mariachi-thrash-country-bluegrass-punkcore pioneers.

Once again, Sunday didn’t happen.

On Monday I did something, that as lame as it sounds I’ve never done before. I went to the cinema on my own. I watched Prometheus. Much fun I thought! I wanted more answers however and was bummed that although in a linear sense it was an impossibility for Riply to have shown up, if the writers had tried hard enough I’m sure she could have popped in for a one liner or two! In the evening the whole house of people landed in a pile on Alberts bed to watch the first Terminator movie. Fiiiiiiiiilllllllllllmmmmm! Dush Dush Dush Dush Dush!!!!! All this and I was gifted a new and deeply moving nickname. Simmo Dobbo….. great!

On Tuesday I got my hair cut…. $28 with a free beer. I’m in! I got this weird mullety mohowky thing that I think looks at the very least, interesting if not altogether conventionally cool. I thought I’d got a hip buzz but Doug thought I looked like a creepy teacher. Albert on the other hand was overwhelmed with redneck sympathy and loved it!

Wednesday meant tourist time (not sure why) and so I packed all my things being that I was in my last day in the city before flying to warmer climbs in Brisbane. I walked out in near gale force winds and headed to the Melbourne museum where I enjoyed a whole variety of stuffed animals, geodes, exhibitions and interactive gubbins before finding out that my weight in gold would mean that I was worth $3,701,899. Not bad eh…. anyone wanna start some kind of scam with me?

I also found out that when you are on your own people aren’t constantly judging you on why you are on your own. They are not, despite what my head would have me believe, whispering that I am some kind of idiot loner who can’t tie his own shoelaces or find his way out of the complex at the end of the day. I have discovered that of the three or four times that I have genuinely felt happy since I’ve been in Australia, three or four of those times have been when I’ve been entirely alone and of some kind of mission. Telling. I think my next four weeks are going to be a great and exciting learning curve. I feel like child learning all over again. You’re never really alone. There’s always music, imagined or otherwise.

On Wednesday night I gathered a few friends at ‘The Cat’ and got stuck in. I drank far too much cider, but had a lovely night with Doug, Siena, Janita, Albert, Dave and Nina, culminating in drunken story telling, reassurance and more country music. I went to bed with a list of albums to upload as long as my arm.

So, Thursday arrived and I blag a taxi to the airport $20 cheaper than normal. Sweet. I have an ipod full of country and happy making bluegrass and fly to Brisbane to meet my old school friend Andrew, who I haven’t seen since 2007. We drink and smoke and stay up way too late. It’s like no time has passed and both relish the idea that we have five years of musical conversation to catch up on! Never have so many albums been shown to so few people in so little time. Just how I like it!

this thing wot I found.
The next morning Brisbane is baking hot. It is literally amazing what a bit of vitamin D can do for the lightness of ones soul. I walked all the way into the city following the river and drink in the suns every last ray. Brisbane (or at least the most watery parts) are service by the CityCat, a super fast catamaran that shoots up and down the river ferrying commuters and tourist alike around the main business district of the town. It felt really good not knowing where I was going but following my nose regardless. I spent half the day whizzing up and down the great river and all for the cost of fuck all. I also must have walked a good 5 miles between stops and through town and soon I came to the botanical gardens and the South Bank. In the early afternoon light this place was stunning. Terraces in a fire of bloom and studious types relaxing in the warmth. I chose my spot. Inhaled. Exhaled. Felt good. Drank a beer. Felt better. Started writing a poem. Felt purged and proud.

Eventually when the rays had exited my personal field of coverage I walked back across the goodwill bridge, stopping half way to see the sun set and drink (another) coffee. I walked through the botanical gardens an put the new PJP band album as loud as it would go into my cans. Oh how my spirits began to fly. Happiness? Abandon? So this is how it felt! By the end of my 30 minute walk and having listened to ‘I am a Racer’ on repeat I was very nearly dancing my way through the balmy heat of the evening kick out rush hour and feeling so good I was almost high. And it was free! I met my friend Andrew, sunk a few beers and after heading home to change we trekked to a joint called ‘The HiFi”. Very cool. Except that you always need ID in Oz. I’d forgotten. Well, an annoying but unavoidable $40 cab journey later and we get into the show. The crowd reminds me of the crowd in the club in ‘Buffy’. What was that called….I cant remember. Trendies, hipsters, throwbacks, bogans, goths, dreads, 90’s freaks and punks mingled to hear a thumping bunch of reggae bands skank away the night. We lose our minds and float away.

Andrew, his gal Jess and I.
On Sunday morning, groggily it must be said, we got out of bed and put on our glad rags and met Andrews girlfriend for another first for me. A day at the races. Wow! Like, really? Uh huh, a day at the races. The poshest thing ever. I had a shirt, tie and hat, but no shoes or trousers. I borrowed them, and although not my normal cut (I’ve been in skinnies for years now) we hit the track. Madness and too much white wine, but very fun, and it was only after the champange started to flow that I realised that I looked for all the world like Charlie Chaplin (minus the Hitler tash and cane). Too funny! The race was on to find a cane. No luck, but fun trying. I even placed a bet. We went simply on the funniest horses names. I chose 'Gay Deceiver'. Who wouldn’t? Obviously it came in last, and I lost $2! Later we bet $6 either way between us on a horse called 'Ginga Dude' and we won $50… Swings and roundabouts eh?! Oh an we blagged our way into the poshest marque ever and drank as much free wine as we could before feeling so lowly and out of place that we legged it and rejoined the collective.

Now its today and we’ve taken it easy. We’re gonna stay up real late and watch the England v Italy football match, not that either of us is into football, but it seems a funny thing to do. The beers are in the fridge.

We plan to make a road trip to the jungle on Tuesday, and on Wednesday I get another tattoo. Not telling what of yet. All that and I still gotta see my friends Deano and Claire yet! Phew.

Upon leaving Melbourne I felt a sense of foreboding and adventure in the air. I feel it now even as I type these pretentious words. I cannot wait to get off on my own to see how I do. I’m gonna head to Byron Bay to chill for a few days before trying to find adventure up north where the rocks steam and the ocean boils.

I’ll try to ensure that the blogs continue while I’m off adventuring, but without my laptop they may be much more basic. Its all about the lyrics though right?
Much much love to my home tribe in Plymouth. May the gin soaked carriages and blood ivory tower see you through the night and deliver you warm home to your loved ones and friends.

Keep in touch y’all. Email is ever so easy. I wont be offended if any of you fancy keeping me up to speed with whats happening in the state of this… (thanks Rach btw x)

Until next time, Oh my brothers and sisters,

…And So it Goes


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