Archive of ‘Life’ category

Yuk

I just saw a mouse skitter across the back shelf near the sink and the kitchen compost bin.

It looked like something in a movie, its silhouette dark against the morning grey of sky through my back window. Where were the cats my first thought and then the realisation my heart was thumping as if I’d seen something far worse than a mouse.

I’ve been trained from early days to look upon mice roaming free in my kitchen as a health hazard.

I know we have mice but I figured they live in the back garden or under the house, not bold and obvious to see in my kitchen.

Mice bring in the ‘yuk’ factor, as if I’ve been contaminated by something. I imagine its little mice feet riddled with germs which get scattered across my bench top or was it worse?

Was it a rat?

Albeit a small rat but still a plague carrying monster from the bowels of some underground sewer?

I reckon the yuk factor must signal something primitive inside, something of the first words we hear from our parents when we have failed the cleanliness test, most probably in the toilet when we’ve made a mess or in our nappies or even when as my daughters used to do when they were little, though I have no such memories of doing this myself, put together as many different ingredients they could find from the bathroom cabinet.

The sorbolene cream mixed with shampoo and then a visit to the kitchen to add flour and rice for texture then a visit to the garden to throw in a few rose petals and leaves, then a visit back to the bathroom to add a little colour in the form of whatever hair products might have existed in our cupboards in those days.

Stir the lot with a big stick and there you have it: Yuk.

 

I went yesterday to my second book launch in Brisbane, a combined event where several people show cased – that’s the word they use these days – show cased their boks.

We were meant to do some sort of reading to impress people, even strangers enough to want to read our work. I managed to sell a couple of copies to strangers, the rest to family who are always the best buyers of your book.

Family have an investment in your words in a way that strangers do not.

I also met a lovely Facebook friend, Fiona Robertson, only newly arrived in my life through another Facebook friend, Louise Allan, and Fiona told me I should go over to Twitter.

‘Twitter is where the writers hang out,’ she said.

I have a twitter account but I use it so rarely I can’t even remember my password.

Must I travel to this land where you are restricted to such a short word count it might challenge me rather like the mouse or rat that ran across my kitchen bench challenges me?

Must I introduce something else into my life, the likes of which I do not understand at present, though I once felt this way about Facebook and now I enjoy my time there in a way I once partied in the blog world?

Now my visits to blogdom are weekly, while I visit Facebook several times a day.

If Twitter is a shorter form then I am likely to go to Twitter even more often and then…

This is the reason I have elected to stay away from online worlds when I am away from home. If I need to escape temptation I can leave the house.

I’m not the first to complain of an online addiction, the first writer to say, it takes up too much time.

But I have found I enjoy these addictions, these distractions, these seductions that lure me away temporarily but then after I have had my fill, they leave me free to go back to the pleasures of writing.

That is, until I see a rat in my kitchen and my heart heaves.

The worst is over

I did not freeze up at my book launch, as I had feared I might.

From the moment I walked through the double doors of Readings book shop and down towards the section where they had pushed aside the CD stands to make room for people, and thereby created an open space, with a row of chairs to one side around a central pillar and to the other side a mock bar from which they served wine, I felt at ease.

From the moment I walked past three women seated to one side, one of whom I recognised as an old school friend from over forty years ago and the other two, also old school friends, the atmosphere became one of fun, family and friendship.

Photo Lee Zelda Hunt

Mike, event organiser from Readings, when I had met him earlier in the week to discuss logistics, told me Readings look upon book launches as a reason to party and that was the spirit he aimed to inculcate.

Photo Russell Davis

And so it was: one jolly party interrupted by two speeches only, my own and that of Gerald Murnane, who as Mike quipped to me later, gave us all a short Master Class on literature.

Photo Nada Lane

To me it was Gerald Murnane at his best, witty, oratorical and sincere.

His talk set the mood and made it easy for me to have my five minutes worth and then my dear friend, Nada Lane, whom I had asked – or had she offered – to be master of ceremonies even managed to stoke a few questions from the audience before we went onto that strangest of strange experiences, the book signing.

I signed Gerald’s copy first and he said something to me about how the tables had turned. Usually, it was he seated there at the black table cloth covered signing table looked over by the person – me –  who had just bought his book and was eager for him to sign.

Now it was my turn.

I had dreaded this part of proceedings.

My handwriting tends to the illegible and I imagined myself fumbling for names but it went well and one person even remarked on my beautiful handwriting.

Never, not even in childhood when I tried hard, has anyone ever told me my handwriting is beautiful and I lapped up that moment along with many others.

Photo Russell Davis

For now, I’m relieved to know it’s over till the next time, next weekend when I join another four people among others at a Gala book launch in Brisbane to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Interactive Publications, my publisher.

This will be easier.

Usually, I prefer to share the limelight, to dip in and out of the glare.  To take my turn and then hurry back behind the scenes.

Always, I prefer to be here behind the scenes writing to you out there, the words on the page, the actual stars.  When I can get them right.

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