Colin Birtles is stuck in traffic, or more to the point, stuck in his car, in a queue, at a service station, idling his engine, with other unfortunates, in traffic, victims all of a garish advertising sign offering a fuel price discount, pock marked on the side of the road, with all the other pock marks, blathering the health benefits of Gatorade, the communication benefits of a mobile phone, or the freedom offered by the latest Jeep.
It was a woman at the checkout buying coconut oil. She had put it in her bag, with all the other groceries she was purchasing when she noticed that the seal on the bottle underneath the screw top lid containing the coconut oil had come lose.
I was approaching, in my car, some months ago, one of those ubiquitous discount fuel outlets that have become symbolic of our consumer age. As I had a voucher handy I decided that I should probably refuel.
Am I happy? It doesn’t matter, it’s not relevant, I accept my fate. Thoreau was right, the mass of men really do lead lives of quiet desperation
Caravan Parks. Classes don’t so much merge, as congregate there. Images of atmospheric smoke induced fellowship. Joy in green cans and littered superlatives. Smirks between crooked weathered tram lines suggesting paradise is at my doorstep.
There is not much to recommend Ballarat. It’s flat and it’s flatulent. Its people walk slowly along grey bleached streets with grey gold smiles on orange wrinkled faces. To drive through it, to the other side, is to celebrate restrained liberty.
Floyd Collins sat on the hood of his Dodge putting on his walking shoes. The “hood” – a much more appropriate name to describe the flap that opens up to the engine than what the English would refer to as the “bonnet”, which is what you put on the head of a one year old English girl who’ll grow up to marry a gentleman of the aristocracy.
One wet, cold September night some years ago now, a boy was born. It was late, his father, a veterinary surgeon, was out tending to another birth, a cow, in a time when it was hardly expected that a father would be in attendance for the birth of his child, he would be much more likely to be asleep, or having drinks with friends, than with his wife about to give birth.
Patrick Allen bent down, the brown paper bag lay on the ground in full view. He picked it up and he looked inside. It was money, a lot of money, crisp new notes. Someone’s betting money Patrick thought. Maybe it’s ill gotten gains, he had no way of knowing, it was a racetrack after all and gains were there to be had, both ill gotten and legitimate.
Webber and King were walking towards the one cafe on the main road of Grey’s River, it offered what appeared to be the best chance of a decent breakfast.
Lulu sat on the edge of her bed and contemplated it, before she started slashing. And so the violence began, controlled violence though it was, down the arms, across the chest, down the back of legs; none of it designed to inflict real damage but enough to draw attention to the inalienable fact that Lulu wanted someone to listen to her.
What was meant to be an evening of conviviality amongst friends and acquaintances amidst the deep furnishings, large squashy cushions, paintings and dark woollen wall hangings from Turkey in the living room lined by book shelves containing manuscripts and novels, texts and biographies of those who pleaded to have their stories told…