What I did on my holidays – New Year’s Eve in Melbourne

Wednesday 31 December 2008

Yes, well, here I am. I arrived late Tuesday afternoon and I’ve already had my first hangover. Damn that Vincent; he will be the death of me, or at least my liver. 

It is so good of Vincent to put me up for the rest of my trip but my biggest dread is to be a burden during my stay. He’s got his own things to do and, well, I’ve a list of places to go and sights to see too. Art galleries don’t visit themselves. I am so grateful to Vincent for inviting – nay – allowing me into his home, but I don’t want to seem like I’m treating him like a hotel – which is exactly what I planned to do – but somehow I don’t think he will have much of a problem with that. 

There are a few things I need to be wary of while I’m here, some basic house rules of doors that stay open and others that must remain closed, but they are all because of one thing – the cats. Vincent’s cats are, well, they don’t really look like cats; they’re more like pillows with eyes. They remind me of showground gonks… large showground gonks. There are three of the fluffy felines but there is so much cat hair covering the living room that I think there might have been a fourth that exploded. After spending time in Bendigo with four incredibly affectionate cats that enjoyed nothing more than lying on your tummy and obstructing your view of the telly, it’s a bit of a disappointment to now be with three – how does Vincent describe them? – “disturbed creatures” who scurry at my presence. If I’m lucky by the end of my trip I’ll be allowed to tickle one behind its ears.

Blake, Vincent’s partner of many years, and I are getting on far better than ever before. Not that we never didn’t get on but this trip we’re casually chatting and enjoying each other’s company. This is probably because he’s bought a Mac and so I at least understand some of the technogabble that comes out of his mouth. Blake knows – and I mean – knows computers, and I think he finds it difficult to understand that other people don’t. He reminds me of a Flanders and Swan routine about how to talk to scientists. You can’t say “hello” and “how are you?” and things like that; you have to talk in their language. So: “H2SO4, Professor. Don’t synthesise anything I wouldn’t synthesise! And the reciprocal of Pi to your good wife.” Blake’s a bit like that. 

Tonight I am watching the fireworks from a room at the Hilton. The boys are already there but I didn’t want to start too early in the afternoon as it would mean that I would then be ending too early in the night. I have hopes to head for the Laird Hotel (men’s bar) after the fireworks, so I don’t want to be too messy, just happy. It’s now nearly 6.30; I’ll have a shower, put on a ravishing shirt, and walk out the door by 7. I’ll be at the party well before 8.

Happy New Year’s, everyone.

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What I did on my holidays – Christmas in Bendigo

Friday 26 December 2008

Well, I have to say the trip began fucking horrendously. Got home from work and went to close the bedroom window when – CRACK! – and down went the window’s glass onto the street far below… SMASH!

I did what any red blooded man would do – I panicked.

Quick call to a friend to help put some sense to the whole thing, and so I staple gunned ( I knew I bought that thing for a reason) an old canvas over the hole. Over the canvas I shoved an old cardboard box, then stapled as much of that as I could to the canvas, and then stapled the venetian blind to the box, THEN stapled the curtain to the window sill. There was a lot of stapling.

A quick shower (and a stress release cry) later, I was packed and heading out the door, but as I put my hand on the door knob I heard SMASH! Another piece of glass fell. Always the good moral citizen, I ignored it and left the building by the back door.

At the bus station (bus station!) I lent against a shop front and watched the rain (rain!) settle in while listening to my ipod. An elderly Chinese gentleman asked me which was the correct bus to Melbourne and as I took the ipod speaker from my ear there was a SNAP! – and the speaker bit came off the body of the head phone. Great, I thought, two down, bring on Number Three.

The trip, all near 12 hours of it, was happily not an unpleasant one. For its remarkable price ($60 compared to $125 for the train or $250+ to fly) don’t think I’d hesitate to do it again, but let me complete the return fare before committing myself to that.

Bendigo is incredibly hot, around the 34-37 mark, so I’ll probably spend most of the time inside the cinema watching the Boxing Day films, or wandering the newly extended mall, which looked very nice the little bit I saw. Only complaint so far was the difficultly in finding pure cream to make the Delia Smith chocolate bread and Butter pudding for Christmas dinner. I could find every different combination of thickened and brandy-flavoured, but just the plain untreated stuff that gets squirted straight from the cow, impossible. After walking back into the city I found the last three remaining 200ml containers each being price marked up to $17.64 each. Christmas robbery!

Incidentally, do you ever wonder how big Santas’ carbon footprint is?

The blow-up mattress I got the Pares a Christmas or two ago holds up very well and is very comfortable, much better than the old mouse house mattresses they used to have. I had been warned that it does slowly go down (giggedy) and in the morning I woke to find myself resting on the floor surrounded by two big blown up sides. I finally understand what a hotdog must feel like.

Christmas was an enjoyable affair at one of my sister and her girlfriend’s place. Present giving was fun with another sister making some of the yummiest little biscuits I have had – her gingerbread house, though a little bland on the ginger, also looked lovely. We all sat around drinking and playing Trivial Pursuit, then, when the Pares went home, the siblings bonded over childhood memories.  A nice time.

Didn’t feel too chipper this morning (there wasn’t much left of the cask, especially if you consider the bottle of bubbles drunk before) so napped the day away. All those new movies going to waste. Might go into the city tomorrow and have a little wander around.

I hope it’s sunny weather in Sydney…


The Adventures of Wombat, Swans Supporter – A Radio Play

Sunday 21 December 2008

To celebrate the Christmas period I present a radio script for you to print out and perform. One of my stronger childhood memories is of wrangling my sisters and nieces (there were no nephews) into performing little shows for the adults at family gatherings. The shows were always Music Hall fare that I must have memorised from school – the one that sits strongly is of a journalist doing a scoop on a group of people committing suicide, it’s still a great routine. I should note that I was something like 10 when I was doing this. 

So here’s a jolly piece that involves the whole family: some get to be actors, some get to be sound effect makers, and the rest get to be the audience who plays a just as important role. Make up large signs for the audience to call out their lines.

This was written for a competition to have your radio play performed live from the Sydney Opera House. Needless to say I didn’t win, but I still think this is most possibly the funniest thing I have ever written. It is highly influenced by the work of Marty Feldmen and Barry Took, who wrote Round the Horne, and it makes me laugh out loud every time I read it.

So on that, Merry Christmas and please enjoy!

Clyde

 

The Adventures of Wombat, Swans Supporter


Characters, in order of appearance

NAR: Narrator

SYD 1: Grumpy Sydney Commuter 

SYD 2: Another Grumpy Sydney Commuter

GUIDE: Taronga Zoo Tour Guide

WOM: Brian the Wombat. The Hero

CRAIG: Brian’s Zoo Keeper

FERRY: Sydney Harbour Ferry Ticket Collector (sounds just like Guide)

INSPECT: City Rail Ticket Inspector

TAXI: Indian Taxi Driver

PARTY: Party Girl at a Nightclub

Also…

SFX: A collection of buzzes, whistles, boinks and dings, with the occasional bit of music thrown in for good measure.

AUD: Everything from a lion to an entire football stadium, and even sometimes a studio audience.

 

Casting

Excluding the Audience and SFX Operator, this play could be staged with a minimum of 3 men and 1 woman.

M1: NAR, TAXI

M2: SYD 1, CRAIG, INSPECT

M3: WOM

W: SYD2, GUIDE, FERRY, PARTY

 

The Play

NAR: It was a typical Sydney day. The sun was shining…

SFX: TRIANGLE DING

NAR: The birds were singing…

SFX: BIRD WHISTLE

NAR: And the people of Sydney were their usual happy selves…

SYD 1: Get out the way!

SYD 2: Watch where ya going!

NAR: It was also a beautiful day at Taronga Zoo, where the daily tour was taking place. Please note that due to budget restraints the animal population has been replaced with a studio audience with too much time on a Sunday afternoon.

GUIDE: Hello, welcome to Taronga Zoo, I’m your tour guide. As we move along, on our left the exotic birds…

AUD: SQUARK!

GUIDE: On our right, the lion’s den…

AUD: ROAR!

GUIDE: and up ahead the wombat enclosure… (PAUSE) He’s asleep at the moment.

NAR: But, dear listeners, our hero wasn’t asleep but out the back with his keeper Craig.

WOM: OK Craig, what’ll it be?

CRAIG: Don’t rush me Brian, don’t rush me!

WOM: Come on Craig, it’s only a friendly.

CRAIG: All right, I think it was Professor Green in the Library with the Candlestick.

WOM: (PAUSE) Craig, this is ten stud poker.

CRAIG: I knew I shouldn’t let you watch late night television.

WOM: New game. Your deal Craig.

SFX: CARDS FLYING EVERYWHERE DUE TO A VERY BAD ATTEMPT TO SHOOT CARDS FROM ONE HAND TO ANOTHER.

WOM: You never could hold your cards, could you Craig.

CRAIG: Sorry Brian.

WOM: So Craig, any plans tonight?

CRAIG: Yeah, I’m off to see the Sydney Swans play –

SFX: BIZARRE HONK

CRAIG: – at Olympic Park Stadium.

WOM: The Swans! I love the Swans! I was president of their fan club, marsupial division, back in uni. Can I come?

CRAIG: Now Brian, you know you can’t leave the zoo. Besides I’ve only got this one ticket.

WOM: Ah, but Craig, I’m their number one fan!

CRAIG: (TEASING) I’ll tell you what, If you can get your hands on a ticket, you can go to the game. Deal?

WOM: Deal! Craig, hand me that ticket.

CRAIG: Hah! You don’t get me that easy!

WOM: Sorry Craig, you’re much too smart for that, but could you pass me that shovel?

CRAIG: Here ya go.

WOM: Thanks Craig. Now, turn around.

CRAIG: (WITH BACK TO MICROPHONE) Like this?

WOM: Perfect.

SFX: BOINK!

SFX: THUD!

WOM: Sometimes it’s that easy.

SFX: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE THEME TYPE MUSIC

WOM: And so, dear listeners, I began my escape. Pausing briefly to roll the unconscious Craig in a brown blanket to look like a sleeping me, I grabbed his keys, unlocked the door…

SFX: RATTLE OF KEYS, UNLOCKING AND CREAKY DOOR OPENING

WOM: …and started on my way, wearing Craig’s keeper’s cap as a disguise.

GUIDE: Hi Keeper Craig, You’re working back late.

WOM: Hi Taronga Zoo Tour Guide, you have a good day now. (Aside) The disguise was a success! So on I went: to my left the lion’s den…

AUD: ROAR!

WOM: On my right, the exotic birds…

AUD: SQUARK!

WOM: And up ahead the gates, the Harbour and the Swannies! With one heave of the rope and hook, which I always kept about my person for moments like these…

SFX: ROPE GOING UP

SFX: CLANK! OF THE HOOK TAKING HOLD

WOM: I pulled myself up over the wall and to Freedom! I could almost taste the meat pies!

NAR: But, dear listeners, fate had chosen otherwise…

SFX: BACKGROUND – SLOSHING WATER

FERRY: (APPROACHING) Ferry Tickets please.

SFX: HOLE PUNCHER

FERRY: Thank you. Ferry Tickets please.

SFX: HOLE PUNCHER

FERRY: Thank you. (TO WOM) Hey mister, ferry tickets please.

WOM: Sorry?

FERRY: Ferry tickets please. You got to have a ticket to ride this ferry.

WOM: Hey, you sound just like the Taronga Zoo Tour Guide.

FERRY: She’s my cousin.

WOM: Small world.

FERRY: Hey, aren’t you a wombat?

WOM: How can you tell?

FERRY: I’ve been on the tour. Ferry tickets please!

WOM: Look, I haven’t got any money.

FERRY: Why not, cos you’re a wombat?

WOM: Na, cos I left me wallet in me other pants.

FERRY: Sorry, you got to have a ticket to ride this ferry.

WOM: Ah, come on. I’ve got a ticket to see the Sydney Swans play –

SFX: BIZARRE HONK

WOM: – at Olympic Park Stadium.

FERRY: What? The Swans are playing –

SFX: BIZARRE HONK

FERRY: – ? I hate the –

SFX: BIZARRE HONK

FERRY: – s. ‘Carn the Swannies. On you get Mr Wombat, you’re travelling first class with me.

WOM: Call me Brian.

SFX: FERRY TAKING OFF

SFX: FADE BACKGROUND SLOSHING WATER

NAR: And so, dear listeners, our hero Brian finds himself at Circular Quay trying to catch a train to Olympic Park.

AUD: HANG ON!

NAR: All right studio audience, the writers are well aware that you can’t catch a train to Olympic Park from Circular Quay, but please go with it for now so we can keep the story moving. OK?

AUD: OK!

SFX: TRAIN WHISTLE

WOM: Is this the train to Olympic Park?

INSPECT: Just a minute. What are you, a wombat?

WOM: A northern hairy nosed wombat to be precise, but my friend’s call me Brian.

INSPECT: Well listen Brian –

WOM: That’s MR Wombat to you mate!

INSPECT: Look, you can’t get on this train.

WOM: Ahh, lemme on, please!

INSPECT: What’s that sign say over there?

WOM: “At night rave near the guard’s compartment naked with a blue light”?

INSPECT: I mean the one under it.

WOM: Looks like a picture of a wombat with a red line through it.

INSPECT: That’s right – No Wombats Allowed. And that means you, MR Wombat! (NASTY LAUGH)

SFX: DOOR CLOSING, TRAIN LEAVES

WOM: Oh woe is me! Oh Studio Audience, what am I to do?

AUD: (HAIL TAXI WHISTLE)

SFX: SCREECH OF BRAKES

TAXI: You call for a taxi Mister?

WOM: No, the Studio Audience did.

TAXI: Sorry, I’m only licensed to carry four passengers.

WOM: Look, I’m a wombat with no money that needs to get Olympic Park to watch the Sydney Swans play –

SFX: BIZARRE HONK

WOM: Can you help me?

TAXI: Hop on board. As luck would have it today is Feel Sorry for Wombats Day. It’s a great Indian holiday.

WOM: I didn’t know India had wombats.

TAXI: It doesn’t. We ate them all, that’s why we feel sorry for them.

SFX: TAXI TAKES OFF

NAR: So our hero reached the Swannies’ game where…

SFX: SOFT THUD OF BALL BEING KICKED

SFX: WHISTLE OF BALL FLYING THROUGH AIR

SFX: UMPIRE WHISTLE

AUD: (GOES WILD!)

NAR: …the Swans’ win!

AUD: (GOES WILDER!!)

SFX: FINAL SIREN

SFX: SWANS’ THEME SONG – CHEER CHEER THE RED AND THE WHITE – FADE OUT

NAR: And finally, dear listeners, Brian the Wombat, through many further adventures, made it back to Circular Quay, only to find he had missed the last ferry home…

AUD: (SAD AHH)

NAR: (ELATED) So he went to a night club instead!

SFX: NIGHT CLUB SOUNDS – HEAVY BEAT MUSIC, GLASSES CLINKING

WOM: Hey little lady, wanna come back to my burrow and see my scratchings?

PARTY: (GIGGLES) Wow! Either a wombat is trying to pick me up or that wasn’t a Panadol I took earlier. Hey Mr Wombat, You’re on!

WOM: Call me Brian.

SFX: CLOSING MUSIC

NAR: That was The Adventures of Wombat, Swans Supporter, starring etc…


Bush.

Tuesday 16 December 2008

This was one of my university pieces for the year. I got an HD.

It seemed a good idea at the time but now, on the way, on the train, I’m having second thoughts. Who are these people? Where is this place? Will I really be sleeping in a tent?

At least I don’t have to worry about what to pack.

My suitcase, though, is remarkably heavy but that’s because of the two casks of red and three towels. I’ve also packed a magnum tube of sunscreen and a large brimmed hat. In my new shirt and newer haircut I think I look rather handsome, but it dawns on me, considering what lies ahead, I needn’t have made the effort.

At Blackheath I meet Joe who is to drive me the 75 minutes to John and Tony’s home – and my home for the next two nights – in the Capertee Valley. “We’ve got another passenger – Adam,” Joe says. “He’s a little… how can I put it… he’s a little strange.”

On cue Adam strolls around the corner. Dark hair with a neat beard, he moves and talks if possessed by Snagglepuss. “Mmmm… homosexuals… disgusting,” he minces more than once over the next few days. He doesn’t make friends easily.

As we drive along, Joe prepares me for what’s to come: relax, don’t worry and enjoy yourself. “You’ll be fine,” he says. Joe’s lending me the tent.

We pass a sign: Capertee Valley – The Widest Canyon in the World. Capertee is also the world’s second largest canyon, as while Capertee is one kilometre longer than the Grand Canyon, it’s not as deep. The road we travel dissects the Valley’s grassland floor, the fields stretching far away to the rocky walls where bushland takes over, only because it’s now too steep for cattle. I “moo” at a cow lazing by a fence; it ignores me. We pass another sign: The Lord’s return is near. I realise how isolated I am from everything I know.

The heatwave that had smothered the city cracked last night and it has rained off and on ever since. As we drive down the track on John and Tony’s property it is drizzling gently, not promising a comfortable weekend. Indeed, of the dozen men already arrived, none have yet gotten into the spirit of things – I’d expected it would be go-go-go from pistol shot to ribbon. It’s another hour before people start “changing over”. With some Dutch courage from the first of my wines, I join in…

It was remarkably easy. This weekend might not be that disconcerting after all. By the time we sit for lunch, and my fourth glass of plonk, I’ve completely forgotten my lack of… inhibition. It’s helped that the rain’s stopped too.

In the afternoon, John takes us for an impromptu bush walk. The property, a 100-acre block smack in the middle of the Valley, is surrounded by remarkable views, with in one direction Mount Canobola and in the other Pantoney’s Crown, which from this angle looks like one of Mavis Bramston’s hats. Still exhibiting his Aryan good looks from his modelling days (he had a bit part in 1966’s “They’re a Weird Mob”), our host stops at a little rock ledge. “All the way to the tree line is my property,” he says. The tree line is pretty far and I am well impressed, though I may have been a bit tipsy and focussing on the wrong spot.

Did you know that Capertee Valley is home to more species of birds than anywhere else in the Southern Hemisphere, with more than 235 species recorded, including 18 threatened? Tony tells me that. Alas, over the entire weekend I never spot more than a small honeyeater and handful of kookaburras. But I hear them constantly.

Heading back, between throwing the dog toy and yabbering on about how lovely it was to be out of Sydney, I pit-stop for a wee. Mid-stream, Mick, large in both height and frame, appears, camera snapping away gleefully. Lovely. Like me, Mick joined the Yahoo website group but took a while before attending in person. It’s not uncommon; while there are 150 paid up members, there are over 300 on the Yahoo mailing list. These weekends away give Mick the perfect opportunity to combine his three favourite things: camping, male company and photography. It’s the last one that I’m concerned about…

John offers me a guided tour of his house, telling the story behind each memento and trinket. The tour ends in the walk-in wardrobe off his Japanese inspired bedroom, where he proudly displays his vast collection of porn. “What should we put on?” he tempts me. I’m spoilt for choice.

I regret to say I’m not exactly sure what happened the rest of the night. I remember squeezing out the last few drops of wine – one cask down, one to go; and I know I was out by the bonfire (hazy, wary memories here); and I’m pretty sure it was around 10.30 when Joe took me by the hand and escorted me to the tents; and I’m certain it was me that suggested we share the one tent (not that Joe declined) as, well, I thought Joe was a bit of orright; but what I had for dinner… gone for good. I think it was chicken.

I wake in the night with the mouth of a dead rat. Water bottle empty, I get up to look for some more, disturbing poor Joe as I struggle out. At first it is pitch black – impossibly black – and then the sky explodes with stars. For a moment I regret leaving my glasses in the tent but my desire for refreshment wins over and I tentatively make my way to the house. Everyone has gone to bed – how they are sleeping I’ve no idea as it sounds as if an adenoidal grizzly bear is roaring a chainsaw. Originally I was supposed to be staying inside; many blessings to Joe. Still, I can’t find any water, or a hose, or a tap, and there are blow-up mattresses blocking the doors. Beaten, I pick my way back to the tents.

Not that I sleep. Soon it starts to sprinkle, then pour, then pelt. Listening to the rain, I try to relax and control the wine-induced thumping against my brain.

As the sun rises, the rain eases and the birds begin their morning chorus. I know there is no hope of getting any sleep now. I get up and leave Joe to some proper rest. With the empty water bottle and some Nurofen from my suitcase, I finally find a tap, guzzle a litre of water and wait for the drugs to kick in.

Remarkably, in spite of the rain, the bonfire is still burning, the coals that phosphorous orange when they are at their very hottest. In the crisp morning air, in the warmth of the fire, watching the clouds tumble over the valley ranges, I feel perfectly tranquil. Even the bloody great big orange tractor in the middle of the view looks magical. It’s also now, looking down, I realise just how well I’ve adapted to the weekend. In the middle of nature, I’m as Nature intended.

Eventually Andrew appears from the back of his car and, soon after, Adam staggers from inside the house. “Mmmm…,” he whimpers. He looks impossibly bad, so I fetch him some Nurofen. Together the three of us stand around the fire, occasionally prodding at it in that way that smoothers the heat more than encourages it, and try to piece together the night before.

“Ah, that’s right,” I say to Andrew, “We had sex, didn’t we?” His eyebrow arches; I take this as a “yes”.

Desperate for coffee, the three of us finally force our way indoors. “Excuse me,“ I say as I step over a couple enjoying oral sex in the path to the kitchen. They don’t seem to mind.

After breakfast, our host John claps his hands. “Who’s for an outing?” he asks. We’re to go kayaking at a nearby reserve. An hour later, I’m dressed and waiting by Joe’s car, but the kayak still hasn’t been attached to the trailer. It’s another hour before we set out – a five-car caravan daring the sodden roads.

First, we stop at Rylstone for petrol and provisions. Rylstone is one of those small towns that survives by being incredibly pretty, complete with wide tree-lined streets and an old-fashion lolly shop. My dad always said you can tell a country town by its meat pies and, considering it’s now past one, I’m starving. Unfortunately I can only find a milkbar that does sandwiches, but I make do with the most wonderful lime milkshake I have ever had.

We finally make it to Dunns Swamp, once the water source for the neighbouring towns and now a popular family retreat. Being a long weekend, the place is packed with mums and dads lounging in front of twelve-man tents and kids making mayhem with bikes, balls and boats. At the information stand, the ranger points us where to park. “What sort of group are you then?” he asks. “We’re an outdoor men’s support network,” Joe says without missing a beat. “Ah nice,” says the ranger, and waves us on.

We lunch on sandwiches, bananas and grapes. While the others dither with the kayak, Joe and I head off to attempt the Weir Walk.

Not far into the walk we detour to the Pagoda Lookout. Pagodas, abundant in this area, are volcanic rock formations that resemble the tiered roofs of ancient Chinese temples. These natural creations are just as beautiful and thousands of years older, so I feel slightly guilty as we bound like mountain goats from one platform to the next – millenniums to make tramped smooth by footfall. At the top I have a feeling of elation – I’ve achieved! – and marvel at the view. We are smack in the middle of the Wollemi National Park and are surrounded by untouched forestry in every direction. On the river far below, I spy hired kayaks gliding along, their captains’ laughter faint but crystal on the breeze. I can’t see our party but I never expected anyone to actually get in the water. But I’m enjoying the weekend, and Joe and I chat about maybe future bushwalks as we hike our way to Kandos Weir.

When we return, the others are ready to leave. “We know what you’ve been doing,” they slyly wink. Of course they don’t believe us, and they don’t stop teasing until we cede: Yes, we tell them, we’ve been busy fucking our brains out in full view. That keeps them happy; it’s what they wanted to hear. Turns out two cars have already made for home. Andrew was one of them. “I didn’t come away this weekend to be surrounded by families,” he said later.

On the drive back I count the wildlife. Kangaroos loll in the late sun. Kookaburras dart across the road, sometimes alarmingly close. There are even two wombats sleeping by the side of the road… at least I think they are sleeping…

At least I hope they are sleeping…

At the house, we get back into (or is that “out of”?) uniform and I unkeg my second cask. Considering last night, I’m planning on pacing myself – What is it they say about the road to Hell?

After dinner it’s time for speeches. John thanks everyone for coming, then Greg the treasurer takes the floor. “Thanks everyone for turning up and a special big big thanks to John and Tony for having us here (clapping). A special welcome also to the new people here today (more clapping).” It is an efficient speech that hints at Greg’s past life as a schoolteacher. A portly fellow, Greg has been involved from the start – 1999. “People are more accepting, even though you may be a bit fatter and older. They don’t judge here.” I nod.

“I’ve something to show you,” says John. Not more porn, I think, but instead it’s a documentary on the Wollemi pine. As fascinating as this is, I’d have preferred the porn, so I go start the bonfire. Eventually more join me and we end the evening chatting, drinking and poking at the fire.

It’s late in the night, second cask empty, when I make tentwards and the sleeping Joe. Well, he was sleeping till an amorous bunyip tumbled in. Joe tells me that I tasted like a cheap winery. All talk, I soon pass out. When I wake, both the sun and Joe are up.

Like Doctor Who opening the door of his TARDIS, I crawl out the tent to the splendour of an unknown world. All I can see are grasses and trees and mountains and sky. I have a minor revelation. It is a quiet, yet ecstatic, moment, and I finally understand why people go camping, or travelling for that matter: to have their comfortable mindsets dazzled by that first waking realisation that you are somewhere else. I could get to enjoy this. Perhaps I might invest in a tent?

I’m in no hurry, I’m spending Monday night at Joe’s, and it’s past lunch when the two of us head for Blackheath. Driving along we discuss the weekend. Joe’s enjoyed his time. I’ve had a good weekend too, nowhere near as scary as I’d thought – freeing, in fact.

And, as a bonus, no dirty laundry.

 

For more information about Gay Sydney Nudists, visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gay_sydney_nudists/

Since writing this I have joined the Group for their annual Christmas Sydney Harbour cruise and experienced one of the more surreal moments of my life. There I was standing on the boat, on the roof platform bit, wearing only an unbuttoned shirt (it was cold), hanging on for dear life, feeling completely queazy, sipping on lemonade and trying not to throw up, while a motley crew of fully naked men dance animatedly to a disco mix of ABBA numbers, when four military helicopters fly fast and low over us. And then they flew over again, and again. With one hand firmly held to the railing, I did the only thing I could think of to do – I waved with the other.


Poem – Page 236

Friday 12 December 2008

A quarter an hour of martini-ettes,
The sommelier armoured for more;
But soon all the cages had evaporated.
With sore feet we left through the door.

And there leered above us a vast chandelier,
Our souls leapt up to the Heavens.
Against the brass banister we rested our chests,
The carpet below six and sevens.

We dined on mouse droppings and tranquillisers,
Preparations of lamb served pretentious,
Owl fresh from the village, and served without greens
But with Panda no longer ferocious.

Oh, pour out the oysters my charming new friend,
We’ll discuss the loan of your baby.
Quit in an instant the woman and man.
Don’t question the gent and the lady.

Our meal has now ended, but burgers still rain,
Poured by travellers with love for the vine.
So question the forces you salient pair
And attend to whose thoughts now to mine.


The Thirst Always Wins

Saturday 6 December 2008

I went to a gay sauna last night. I’ve been planning this for weeks – it takes me that long to develop the fortitude. I was originally going last week, but the electricity bill came in and, well, I just couldn’t face the experience.

It’s not as if I haven’t been before; I even used to work at one. When D and I broke up and still in that horrible living together but in separate rooms phase, I went to my first Sex On Premises (SOP) as an excuse one night to not go home. I had a pretty fun time (I was much younger and the shoulders hadn’t started to sprout like alfalfa on damp cotton-wool) and as I was leaving I noticed a sign for staff wanted. I was still very raw on the Scene, and I felt that I needed to challenge myself, to learn more. I saw working in a sex club as possibly the platform I needed to launch myself into the seedy – enticing – underworld of Gay Life. Also (ever practical) it would get me out of the flat and away from D. So I applied and got the job. 

On my first day I followed another feller around to learn the ropes. Baptism by fire, in the first room we went to clean the vinyl mattress was splattered with blood. I was pretty shocked by this but my supervisor just gave a shrug. Someone pulled too tight and tore a foreskin, he said. An hour later, on the next round, I discovered another mattress pooled with blood. I’m not sure what disturbed me the most – that there was someone bleeding from their dick or that they thought it was a good idea to continue having sex after the first time. 

I never told D about the job, of course he knew, but I came to enjoy it. It also taught me the greatest lesson on Gaydom – gay men look like everyone else. Sure you would get your handsome 30-something musclemen and you slight femme Asians (actually, we got a lot of these – they were sort of the speciality of the house), and you would also see bearish blokes and the tight T-shirt brigade, but I’d also hand out towels to men who looked like, well, accountants. It was an eye-opener, while tea-towelling the coffee cups, to watch the menagerie sitting on the old sofas in the common room, reading the papers or watching whatever late film was on the telly; they all looked so… normal. Perhaps Gay Life isn’t a special club after all, I thought, but just another part of life, with a small “l”. Through the labor of shoving damp towels into laundry bags, stocking condoms and topping up lube dispensers I learnt a good deal.

There’s a story of a friend bumping into D at a bus stop. “Poor Clyde,” lamented D, “How tragic his life has become. How poorly he is coping with our breakup. He’s taken it so hard that – shudder – he’s stooped to a job mopping up cum!” “Actually, I’ve never seen him happier,” said the friend.

Still, I only last eight weeks. The manager who did the roster liked me but he quit. The other manager wasn’t that favourable and so I didn’t appear on the next sheet. I didn’t mind at all. 

Clyde the Penguin lives in Sydney, Australia. In his time he has worked at a number of jobs, including a waiter, a designer, a clerk, and as the person who hands out the towels in gay saunas. This is his first novel.

Mostly, 90% of the time, a visit to an SOP is pretty much a routine affair. You’ve got a need, you go in, you do the biz, then you go home. The rest of the 10% falls into the extremes. Either you have such an amazingly good time, with such amazingly beautiful men, that you wonder why you don’t come more often; or the visit is one that is absolutely soul destroying. You wander the halls endlessly looking, yearning, but no one wants you, and you feel ugly, and unwanted, and like spit. On these rare occasions some people just lock themselves in one of the little rooms, have a quick wank and write the experience off as a loss; but I’m not as strong as that. It would always upset me.

So I stopped going.

Many years after D, and a couple of other letters, here’s me now. Thanks to my new friend Mort* I can’t afford to go out and meet people in pubs like I used to, yet frankly there is only so much cask red you can drink to numb the desire. There’s a line in the third Blade film, Blade Trinity, that goes: Sooner or later, the thirst always wins. So, to loop back to the beginning, I went to a gay sauna last night.

The night fell firmly in the 90% category. The first person I hooked up with was more than likely a straight who uses SOPs as a means to an end: all he wants is his cock sucked. He did mange a couple of quick tugs on my own willy, but it was under duress. He didn’t last for two minutes before he had to excuse himself to visit the loo. 

The next was a handsome wog in the steam room, but he left to go have a shower… he was feeling a little sticky. But the third – and the one that turned me off the whole night adventure – was one of those loud moaners. Keep it down, there are people trying to have sex in the next room; I had to shove my cock in his mouth to shut him up! And he called me “Baby” which always makes me uncomfortable. Anyway, he came, I came, so I gave him a quick peck on the lips and high-tailed it to the showers. 

Upstairs I read the pink press for a while as others laid on towels and watched episodes of Sex and the City. I haggled over going back for another round or going home. I went home, tapped the cask and watched Joey Stefano do what he does best.

That will have to do for now.

 

* His last name is Gage.


2008 Movember – Day 31 (The End)

Monday 1 December 2008

Movember 2008 Before

Movember 2008 After

Post it Note

We return you now to your regular scheduled program.

Remember:

  • Depression affects 1 in 6 men….most don’t seek help. Untreated depression is a leading risk factor for suicide.
  • Last year in Australia 18,700 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer and more than 2,900 died of prostate cancer – equivalent to the number of women who will die from breast cancer annually.

To see the great impact that Movember has had, check out the details here.

Movember is proudly grown by Holden and Schick.

Movember is proud partners with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and beyondblue – the national depression initiative.