Monday, December 24, 2012


Arguably, the most exhilarating hangover from adolescence is Christmas Eve. Namely, the appearance of TAFKATC at Christmas Eve. He'd call my mother's best friend to say he was coming round for dinner and every even-numbered year, I would actually manage to see him and it would be the greatest thing, ever.

I would swoon quite visibly. I would blush quite consciously. Due to the infrequency of our encounters, I would stockpile musical anecdotes throughout the year for the Christmas Eve unwrapping. I had all year to imagine his responses to my stories, but my imaginings had the tendency to be fanciful and inaccurate.

There are things you'd always predict, the low-light and the panettone, the delicate glassware and the lengthy glances. There would always be a flirtatious wit and ambiguous regard. What I couldn't predict was his actual character, quite distinct from my whimsical daydream of a musical obsessive.

I know there's no need to wait for that one night to gush about music. Not any more, at least. Yet, he will always command an impossibly high level of consequence. In spite of my claims that his appeal exists solely in an imagining, his presence manages to indulge that perennial suspicion that something once existed... and it was real.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


The writing amnesty has come as a surprise. I figured I'd always write, whether it'd take the form of morning pages, essays, scripts, emails, tweets or text messages. Lately, I've refrained from words, from inkstained hands and repetitious thoughts. The amnesty has come as a surprise, because I had always believed that to write was to feel normal. Even the most meaningless, mindless, pointless thoughts - get it down and you will siphon your heart.

I daydream a lot, I nightwalk a lot, I process very little. My existence is vague but I never seem to shake that tyrannical sense of obligation, that feeling like I should be getting it all down. I should be committing to my past and my present, I should be writing to connect, to make sense of the love and the loss. I try to convince myself that the writing amnesty is some perverse therapy, that the undefined will obscure the grief.

I'll have to start again somehow, but I'm not exactly sure when it will happen. I'm still convinced that to write is to feel normal, but I'm not inclined to rush back to that sense of normality. I'll keep dwelling upon the reconstructive power of creative inaction. I would never recommend it to anyone, but I'll think of its function, during those daydreams and nightwalks. I'll marvel at how it can be so easy and so difficult, all at the same time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I remember that moment of vague consciousness, when our bus steadily wound round the steep cliffs of Como. It was night and I could no longer see the lake or the mountains, only darkness and distant pin-pricks of light. We weren't saying anything to each other, we were just listening to random selections from the folder, Italo Disco.

I put on Lost in the Night by Costas Charitodiplomenos. I had been singing it constantly in Milan, especially, much like I had sung Roxette's Fading Like a Flower in Stockholm. He would never tell me to shut up, in fact he'd often join in, perhaps in an attempt to create some future musical association.

In spite of my singing its lyrics over and over, I had never paused to consider its poetics: lost in the night, walking alone, lost in the night, left on my own, lost in the night, looking for love, lost in the night, drifting I'm looking for your love...

All of a sudden, I became inexplicably captivated by the tragedy of Lost in the Night. I fell in love with the idea of wandering through a city's back streets, disorientated by grief. There was something beautiful about his desperate and relentless imaginings, hearing her voice, seeking her ghost.

I would soon drift off, but I would later revisit those lyrics, again and again. I doubt I can ever faithfully identify why I am so drawn to it, especially since it had taken so long to develop that personal resonance. It somehow means more now.

He is condemned, forever haunted. Never to find his way back.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I don't understand how, but I felt my feet bleed tonight. It was a sensation I am familiar with, the sting of a raw heel, the mesh of school tights stuck fast. But I haven't touched my feet in days, I promised myself I wouldn't. I convinced myself I could.

The truth is I really don't care to stop, I really don't want to. I'm comforted when I pick, rip and cut my feet. It isn't particularly painful, not like it was when I was much younger. I'd whince and hobble as I'd walk, but I would never say why. They knew why I'd walk like that and I knew I deserved no sympathy.

I'm unclear when the habit even started Maybe I was 12 or 13 or maybe even 11? I started ripping my toenails and over the course of many years, I lost my nails in their entirety. They don't even grow now, but I could hardly care less. I paint nail polish over the barren, uneven skin and no one seems to care.

It's neat to think up some super compelling, wildly cohesive explanation as to why I do this to myself. I could be destroying my feet in an attempt to attain a kind of smoothness, an unattainable raw perfection that could be confused with normality. Yeah. Whatever. Why should it matter? Why should I stop? Why should you care, anyway?

I will try for the week though, as I've promised myself that I'd refrain from this and other bad habits: excessive sleep, painful photographs, Mint Slices and Google Analytics. I'm not convinced that any of it will help with very much, but I'm willing to see what it might feel like to heal a little bit... if only it is for a few days.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I once realised that you only need a sentence to survive. A succinct statement of the sadness and brutality, enough to push you forth into rational thought. It would always take several notebooks to work out its construction and strangely enough, I would always forget the exact articulation upon later reflection.

It's come far sooner than I ever thought it would. I didn't need to write reams of pages to work out the sentence I must live out, I managed to exhaust every word in excessive thought. It makes me idle with nauseousness: he convinced you of my meaninglessness, like he convinced me of your meaninglessness.

I think of it purposefully and wait for the arrival of indifference. It was meant to come much sooner than this.

Jiving at the Long Bar by Kevin Lear

Monday, November 5, 2012


He would turn to me for absolution. He would email from internet cafés and text as soon as they'd get off stage. He would confess every debauched antic, temptation in Leeds, lust in Edinburgh. He admitted everything, even his fears that he would cheat on his girlfriend and ultimately transform into the rock star cliché he most vehemently detested.

I was in the studio when I received his text. He had just landed in London: "I'm in love and everything's totally seismic. I haven't told anyone else, I don't know what to do..." He was always terribly dramatic, but even then I wasn't aware of the gravity of the situation. I didn't respond with comfort, as I had done in the past, I responded with anger. He had never told me about her.

He largely withdrew from contact, knowing of my disapproval. He'd sometimes call when he got really desperate. He bemoaned endlessly about the implausibility of the affair, she lived in New York City with her husband and he lived in London with his girlfriend. I let him talk for as long as he needed to, but I still felt his detachment increase. When I suggested we meet in London, he said, "I'll only see you if it means more to me than it would to you."

Needless to say, we never met.

He messaged me to say that it was happening. She was to come over for the week. The affair was to start. My jealousy resulted in a long week of silence. His band had their first appearance on Jools Holland that Friday and on Sunday, they filmed a promo clip, wandering through high-rise commission flats. He looked weak and sallow, tired and despondent. I always felt like I knew why.

I received my last email from him when I was in Hull, explaining that I would never hear from him again. They were together at last and it was time to grow up, it was time to stop knocking about like a child and giving bits of himself to lots of different people. I grieved as I saw him perform, only metres away from me. He never would have recognised me.

He never bothered to know who I was.

Disappointed Love by Francis Danby

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I had hoped not to attract any attention. I skirted the trestle table and I watched him concentrate on examining records and patting turntables. He was my first boyfriend and he had broken my heart six months prior, when he sat on my bed and said he didn't miss me when I wasn't around. I grieved and recovered. With glazed eyes, I looked on blankly, recalling his insistence that one couldn't just learn how to mix beats.

He suddenly swept up beside me, leaving his decks unattended. "Can I talk to you?" I shrugged and he pulled my hand towards the dilapidated back stairs. We sat close together and he smelt of cloves, still. Dizzy, I paid little attention to his apology, ignoring the questionable levels of sincerity. I flipped my hand dismissively and reassured him that it was fine and I was fine and it was really all nothing.

I'm unsure whether it was the dismissive reassurances or my staring at his glowing straight teeth which made him ask: "Do you want to take me home?" I smiled, shook my head and took his hand, leading him to the side of the crumbling weatherboard house. "I only want you for a moment." They were soft and ineffectual kisses, yet nothing had ever made me feel more empowered. I commanded it, all of it. It would be the last time I would ever see him.

Missy Laur and I have always discussed the notion of confrontation or rather, how we can ever expect to cope with seeing those we've lost. I've have dealt with it to varying degrees: I've approached, I've ignored, I've been visibly upset, I've been visibly indifferent. I have dreams where I am composed and untouchable and I can handle everything, even the most meaningless of passing contact. I have dreams where I am woken up to the buzz of my phone and a lost name on screen.

"You'll always want more, you'll always want them to love you again." She warns me. I sip my mocha and dismissively flip my hand. "I think I can handle it."

Thursday, October 25, 2012


It was one Wednesday morning in London town, when Sharron and I were sipping rose lemonade in a vintage camera coffee house. We took photographs of old cameras with new cameras and I took a photograph of myself (or "a naked selfie", as Andrew would call it). My complexion was pallid, my eyelids smeared with Kohl, my overgrown fringe slightly parted. The fatigue is clear, the resignation obvious, the grief apparent.

I didn't delete that photograph, as I should have. It didn't go with the rest of the online travel propaganda, all those check-ins and photographs which would suggest endless days of fun-filled adventure. Then again, perhaps that's why I kept it. Inasmuch as the photograph reveals something grim and truthful, I know its meaning will transform itself in time. One day, I'll look and I won't see his damage. I'll look and I'll see something else.

Monday, September 17, 2012


I wish I hadn't been so aware of every moment, falling away, but you couldn't stop checking your phone. She was coming to get you and she was due at any moment. I was not in a place to say anything, I had neither your time or attention. What could I have said? You promised me this wouldn't happen, you promised me you wouldn't go back to her?

I accidentally touched the rough edge of the table with my right hand and I got a splinter in the side of my middle finger. You examined my hand closely and tried to squeeze out the tiny wooden shard. You couldn't and you didn't but for that moment, you weren't checking your phone, you weren't writing frantic text messages. You weren't even attributing all of this to my temper.

For just a second, you tried to get rid of my pain.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Itou Kittou

When I was young, I'd write stories in notebooks. I'd write even though I knew he'd seek out my writing and read it out loud, stopping to cackle loudly in my face. It was humiliating, but I would never stop. I never really could.

I would never finish a single story, but it never really mattered because all the stories were the same. Every story was about best friends running off to Europe together. They'd be so unspeakably gleeful - they would secretly gush to each other in French.

I dreamt of this mythical friendship endlessly. As a six year old, I'd look at my dual reflection in a pair of sunglasses and wish for another one of me. I'd pray for her arrival, next week, next term... but it never really eventuated.

I now find myself sitting across from my best friend, describing how we will fill our forthcoming days in Paris. We anticipate how we'll drink fishbowls of coffee and describe every detail in our notebooks. We share elaborate daydreams and use French slang to supplement our meanings.

It's weird to see how close it is to how dreamt it. For all my prayers and loneliness, I can't believe I've actually found her.


It was a birthday present Noreen delivered on the night of Eurovision, a bottle of MOR perfume called Sorbet. I sniff it occasionally but it's a bit too strong to wear. Its smell reminds me of my 16th birthday, when I received a great influx of candles and a blue glitter lava lamp. My Dad gave me The Freddie Mercury Collection and I listened to it, obsessively.

For my 16th, a great swathe of friends gathered to watch Ross Noble perform at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. He was still young and nubile, his hair was bright red and his comedy electric. We all sat in the front row, taking up all the seats. I hid the bouquet of tulips I received from Spiro under my chair and Ross mocked both Laur and I at length for holding our bags on our laps.

Andrew took this photo of all of us after the show, many of us with Slurpees in hand. It was perfectly configured, with many of us in complementary magentas, light purples and dark denim skirts. We grinned and hugged each other as if we were friends who really loved one another. I couldn't believe I managed to stage that photograph. It was as if I really belonged.

Those candles have lost their scent. Mr Bad Guy has since been ripped of its associations. I take a shot of Sorbet occasionally. It's similar, but not quite the same. It's like how I'd sometimes pass women in the street who have the same smell as that discontinued St Ives' moisturiser. It is the smell of reading my first Queen biography as a 13 year old.

I wish I could just accost them and ask what they're wearing. I might become reacquainted with that moment when I became so captivated... and everything became so completely messed up.

Monday, August 20, 2012


My days are filled with silence. It's strange, because on some level, they're filled with lyrics and conversation. They're filled with ink stains and cursive print. I deal with this silence constantly, but I never seem to cope with it adequately enough.

I fill the silence with irrational thought, mantras I know to be untrue. I think of the silence and its meanings and motivations. I pair everything up with a brutal explanation and a debilitating scenario. I imagine it will make me stronger.

I long for your voice, but I know it will be hollow and devoid of warmth. I hope that tomorrow I can convince myself of some kind of fundamental untruth. I hope I can convince myself that the silence ain't half bad.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Presence and Precedence

I harbour this unfortunate tendency to assume that I'm being victimised pretty much all of the time. I came up with this insight a week or so ago, in a conversation with someone who only knew me from my writing. It was unbearably succinct, in that it summed up my fears and anxieties, my personality and my past.

I only regret the way that I constructed that sentence. At that point in time, I jostled with the prospect that the paranoia was completely unjustified. The prospect of an aggressive confrontation was this allegedly mythical thing. But then, I was fortunate in that I had managed to whittle down my existence so I was safe from harm.

It only occurred to me this afternoon that I've spent so much of my life convincing people to be nice to me. I've never had such a vivid recollection of such a feeble and ineffectual desire, recurring over and over again. It seems stupid to convince someone to be nice to you when they've just stomped on your neck.

I suppose I'm lucky, in that I once thought the victimisation was justified. I'd string all the incidents together, as if they were in this absurd press kit with all these unlikely characters. I don't think that way anymore. I never deserved what happened. It's just unfortunate that things transpired as they did.

I developed this sensitivity and this consciousness. I was determined never to succumb to that dynamic, I was determined not to believe the hype, as I'd so often joke. Yet, as I write this, I know that I'm back there at this precise moment. Convincing him, unconvincingly, to try to be nice to me.

I've never been able to convince anyone, although. I suppose my arguments have never been that compelling...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Glamourous Glue

Some months ago, I abandoned a piece about the ambiguity of glamour. At the time, I had immersed myself in cautionary pop-tales about pretty teenage girls falling headlong into drug addiction. I tried to make sense of why alarming messages were so frequently accompanied with beautiful imagery. I returned to the glorious scene of Christiane F., the scene of junkie-friends, shrieking and running down the tiled hallways of Berlin's Bahnhof Zoo, occasionally tumbling but never stopping. They were running feverishly, with David Bowie's Heroes playing in the background. It's like they were rushing forth like the heroin running through their veins.

It's an allegory that's been sitting at the pit of my stomach for some time now. Never digesting, never making sense. I was reminded of it, when I saw a picture I'd saved of Gia Carangi, a model and heroin addict who succumbed to HIV/AIDS in 1986. Her beauty and her antics are commonly discussed, in tones of reverence and horror. Stories circulate, such as the legend of the November 1980 Vogue spread, that contained (arguably) visible track-marks on her arms. The tragedy of it is exacerbated by her youth, her femininity, her alluring sense of glamour. She somehow obliterated that traditional preconception: a pretty young girl shouldn't be mixed up with that sort of thing!

I suppose it will be some time before I work out what it all means; what is the function of the cautionary tale in teen literature, what is the importance of veracity in the retelling of the drug tale, what is the role of glamour in making that very warning believable. When I saw Gia's photograph just before, I was instantly reminded of that Frou Frou lyric: there's beauty in the breakdown. I can only assume that I'm turning to that perversely romantic notion that we can unravel and we can deteriorate and no one need stop us. We can self-destruct and yet, it can still be beautiful.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


It was a bizarre ritual I had devised some years before. Often, while waiting to get into a club, I'd hand over one of the pennies that lined my rucksack. It seemed to be overflowing with pennies since my 2005 English adventure and although it was never a big deal to hand one over, I'd closely examine how they'd react. Some would be confused, unable to understand why I would hand over something so fiscally worthless. Others, namely the important one, the one who ruined me, seemed to get it. I was bemused to see him closely examining the brass coin, grinning. He would soon boast proudly that he affixed the penny to his wall in order to hold up a poster of Johnny Marr. He would later attempt to return the penny to me, at the end of one of our many epic break ups. I was just about to get out of his car when he slipped the penny into my hand and I wanted to die.

I had never really felt the need to articulate the consequence of the penny, especially since it had been so long since my rucksack had been lined with them. I found myself talking about it with you, for some reason. I had only just met you for the first time a few days before, but we felt content and comfortable enough to talk for hours and hours at Sousou. Even then, you marvelled at how alike we were, often proclaiming that we were separated at birth. I remember your retelling of G. K. Chesterton's short story, What I Found In My Pocket and I can only assume that it inspired me to tell you about the ritual I once practised. I came up with some very vague analysis, suggesting that it was a kind of innocuous test, something to do with the heart. I wanted to see how they would treat something with so little value.

Months later, we met upstairs at Bimbo's and you proudly boasted that you had a present for me. It was a book wrapped in crinkled and faded Florentia paper, allegedly found in an abandoned cupboard. I was thrilled to find it was an alarmingly new-looking copy of Anthony Thornton's Libertines book that you allegedly found in an op shop. More poignantly, you had attached a 10p coin to the back cover with masking tape. We never really spoke about what it all meant, in fact it was probably the first time that we had ever stopped talking for more than a few moments. I suppose when I think about it now, it was the first time that I ever felt like I was on the back foot. Where I had assumed that I was always in the position of the sincere and vulnerable, I was being asked if I was for real.

As it stands, I'm unsure whether I'd ever want to voluntarily hand over trust like a worthless penny. I once thought I was impervious to harm, after the damage sustained from the important one. I imagined I had perfected an almost undetectable level of detachment and that's the reason why I stopped myself from practising this ritual. I never trusted you with a penny, as such, but I made the mistake of handing over more trust than I ever would have consciously permitted. If only I had been smarter, if only I had been more stealthy, if only I had been more sensible, I would have known. I would have known not to bother.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Hypocritical Headband

Missy Laur and I would often preface advice with the expression, "please excuse the hypocritical headband". It was a reference to the large 1960s headbands I used to wear. Like the headband, the hypocrisy of the scenario was so dramatic that it could never be avoided and instead of being sensible and attempting to take our own advice, we would use the hypocritical headband as a mechanism to deliver lectures, guidance and comfort.

We wore the headband in good faith, we did. We were deathly aware of our mutual propensity to obsess, in spite of our reassurances that there would come a time when we wouldn't. She told me repeatedly that things would get better and after a very long time, they actually did. I would reassure others too, sitting across from dear friends at Sousou. I would tell them that no matter how painful it is now, everything will eventually numb out in time.

Those reassurances now seem so wildly insincere, so desperately hypocritical. I can't believe I ever forgot how painful it could be, but then I find it hard to believe I ever managed to endure it all before. I know on some fundamental level that it will be their words, the words of Missy Laur and Louise Sucre that will ultimately cure me. I have no idea what words could make for any immediate cure but I will try and listen. I will try and get better.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Confetti & Acorns

The path to Holy Trinity is strewn with confetti and acorns. It reminds me of our weekend adventures in England, when we would all pack into the dark red Volvo station wagon and go to churches and castles. If we happened to pass a fancy car tied up with a white satin ribbon, I'd emphatically insist we stop. In spite of my present resentment of weddings, I was once obsessed.

Up until a few days ago, the path to Holy Trinity led to my favourite op shop. It's tucked away from our High Street, only moments from the haberdashery store that resembles a leftover set from Are You Being Served? and the uniform shop that mends the school blazers of the rich and bullied. I'd walk that path alone after writing class and look for ages and ages.

I found amazing things in that op shop: books for 33.333 recurring cents, 7" records for 50 cents, Alannah Hill blazers for $20. You did need patience to wade through it all, there were times when there was nothing of particular interest or value. You'd see the same things in the racks for months and months, a Honky Tonk record or that taunting electric blue leather jacket. Could I get away with it?

I'll miss that ritual, the records and books, the jewellery and jackets, the confetti and acorns. There was a kind of warm solidarity associated with it: writing and looking at records, instead of marrying and being a lawyer. I doubt I'll ever shed that sense of expectation, but I enjoyed those moments alone when I did.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


I don't remember much from that night. It was upstairs at Pony and we were there for a show. Some acquaintances were on stage and an unlikely pair of friends were hooking up in a corner. I'd occasionally see glimpses of someone I thought knew, but I was hopeful and mistaken.

For some reason, I think it must have been the second time we met. You bound up to me, breathlessly with a trademark enthusiasm. I don't remember what I was wearing, but you were wearing your AMIENS WHATEVER tshirt. It was a in-joke and I never understood what it meant.

We somehow got onto the topic of the words we weren't allowed to say. I told you about how, as a ten year old, my best friend told me off for referring to movies as films. It was in exactly the same way that my estranged brother told me off for using the term genre. Saying a word like that was just so embarrassing.

You met me with a similar anecdote, of how you casually and accidentally referred to cordial as concentrate and consequently, kids taunted you endlessly with that term for years and years. It riled you up and upset you, in the same way it upset me. It was baffling how an ordinary word could come across as nerdy or pompous.

My details of that night are sketchy at best, but I often contemplate that youthful compulsion to say a dumber word in order to convey a dumber image. I think of it more and more, now I am allowed to be as open and gregarious as I want. I live now without bullies and censors and I can speak, free of reproach and ridicule.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I could see his face flush with panic whenever he saw me. It was only a subtle sign, but I could see it, behind his thick-rimmed glasses, behind his tar-coloured eyes. He knew my after-hours appearance at the front desk typically indicated that something was wrong and it so happened that every other hour, something was wrong. My door key had been deactivated.

However, on this occasion, I had to insist that nothing was actually wrong. I had been sitting across the room, curled up on a beanbag. I was concentrating upon writing about the potency of particularly perfect pop songs, the subtle but ever-relentless snobbery of once-trusted friends and Sydney's ever-irritating influx of one-way-streets and prams.

I had just started writing in my new, navy-blue Semikolon notebook that I received for Valentine's Day. My Parker pen was bleeding stolen red ink everywhere... and even now, I cannot remove its ink from my fingers. It's as if my fingers and palms were wounded by Cadbury's great stationery cull of 2011. But I have to remind myself, they were going to throw away that ink anyway.

When the requisite pages were filled, I approached the desk and started a conversation with the handsome doorman. He spoke of his double life. Long days, wearing suits and carrying himself with the utmost formality. Taking on the work of his superiors and receiving absolutely no credit. He told me of lonely nights behind the desk of the hostel, struggling to stay awake.

I suppose if we were talking strictly in the terms of pick-up parlance, I responded with a DLV. I said I struggled with notions of professionalism. I gush and I flirt and I laugh and carry on. I refuse to pin my fringe back and I always wear drainpipe jeans. Yet, I feel as if the quality of my work is excellent and I have (the arguably misguided) faith my employers will see that.

Ever since that night, I've been thinking about how he managed to articulate his attraction to professionalism. He spoke of his unequivocal desire to be a part of that corporate environment. Just as I once had faith that volunteering would lead to a paid job in broadcasting or even the music industry, he believes that being a corporate lackey will lead him somewhere... and that with professionalism, comes respect.

"You don't seem like a lawyer..." He said, I never even caught his name. "Well, it happened." I muttered apologetically. I told him about C&CM, about the music essays and the podcasts and the documentary I had been working on... but I couldn't help but feel a little embarrassed that I couldn't share his enthusiasm to step up, to change and adapt to meet the expectations of the rat-race.

The conversation halted suddenly when a dishevelled Dutch back-packer stepped in off the streets. I didn't think to wait, I didn't even think to appear distracted until he was free again. He was lovely and pristine and together. I don't see how he could have understood my inability to do as he does. To save face, I thanked him and said goodbye.

By friend, Norbi

Weeks later, I found myself with a film crew in the back alleys of Melbourne. Hands still ink-stained, legs still in drain pipes. It seemed like an accident to me, but after months of discussing, planning and writing we were finally filming this thing, this fashion segment I had once imagined. At no point did I hesitate, neither in my direction or guidance to cameraman, presenter or contributor... and much like in my days of producing radio, I had the utmost clarity about what I wanted this to become.

"I've just never seen you like that!" My Louise gushed after the shoot. "It was crazy for me to see you take control of everything..." She paused a moment. "You were just so professional!" I couldn't help but recoil slightly at the mention of that word. Yet I felt a some kind of unearthly gratitude that although I have no burning desire to become a corporate lawyer, I won't always be a complete shambolic mess. Quite incidentally, and quite accidentally, I still have that capacity to possess a quality I never thought I'd have.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


My hair was short when we were last friends. It was so short that the hairdresser had to shave the back of my head to mend the botchjob I had done to myself, one night when I had been left alone with the scissors.

It was a chic style, a 1920s bob, not unlike Louise Brooks or Edita Vilkevičiūtė as Chanel for Lagerfield. It was the closest I could ever get to shaving my head, the true cultural signifier of being hopelessly depressed.

As I was complimented for the boldness of the cut by strangers at parties, I could only think: "You don't know..." When I left his Jolimont apartment at 4 o'clock in the morning, I could only think: "You don't want to know..."

My dark hair now reaches far, far down my back, in thick cascades of incidental waves. I describe its length as cinematic and I revel in how it somehow illustrates that time has passed and things have changed.

But when he glances at me vacantly, with his new frames and unfamiliar beard, I know nothing of what he thinks. To ease the threat of self-reproach, I imagine he is looking at my hair.

I imagine he is looking, not only to survey its excessive length, but to recall its similarity to a style I once had. The style I had when we would hang out together and laugh endlessly... and I would actually be happy.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I have an attachment to the night. I love its stillness, how time becomes vague. There is a comfort in being alone with the thoughts and notebooks, it's as if I am lost and unaccounted for. There's no threat of aggression or confrontation and the possibility of ever having to defend myself is removed. I can be alone.

I've used my love of the night to my benefit, my job is at night. I can do what I do when the office is empty. I'm not subjected to the silliness typically associated with office politics. That, and my tendency to flirt and argue can be quashed. Instead, I sit alone and listen to my documentaries, plays and ripped episodes of Heartbreak High.

I emerge when it becomes light, when men in suits walk purposefully down Bourke Street, nursing their take-away soy lattes. I love the sunrise too, even though it signals the end of another wasted evening. The horizon glows with ever-changing pinks and flossy yellows, there are creamy clouds and unfamiliar hues.

Stephen Fry says that people who stay up to see dawn perceive it differently from those who awake early to hear birds frantically chirping. He described the phenomenon in some degree of detail, however, I'm not sure if I quite believe him.

Alexandre Cabanel's Phèdre

When I get home, I go to bed after many hours of distraction. It's mid-morning and I sleep deeply, for too many hours. My dreams are highly involved, typically including detailed scenes of fantastical foreign cities I'm yet to visit. There is often kindness and redemption as I meet the people I so keenly miss and admire. All is calm and blissful.

Dreams are interrupted by the vibration of my phone. Another call, another text. In that moment of disorientation, I fool myself in thinking it had all really happened. It all passed as I dreamt it, with Johnny Marr in that Indian marketplace. I see the daytime dreams as another aspect of that addictive attachment I have to the night, my conscious imagination could never be as compelling as the subconscious.

As much as I love it, I have decided to give up the night for the month of March, the month of my birthday. While I feel safe and autonomous in the indefinite hours of darkness, I know that I forgo the possibility of a real existence. That is, doing things that I really want to do in the hours of daylight.

Perhaps if my hood had a 24 hour gym or even a coffee house, perhaps if I produced more essays or podcasts, I could have kept this up forever. The truth is that I'm just too curious to see what life could be like on the other side of dawn.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Once when Smile came to Cornwall, we went to St Agnes with Brian, Roger and Tim. We went to the Driftwood pub and then walked along the cliffs there. I'm sure Freddie was there too. And we found a cave down from the beach and sang inside it, and did this 5 of 6 part harmony of Earth which was Tim's song. Then we walked up on the headland and the whole place was completely covered in glow worms. It was amazing. The sky was so clear and every star was out, and of course Brian, because of his expertise in astronomy, could name them all. He named all the individual stars and constellations...

Sue Johnstone, excerpt from Rupert White's book, Queen in Cornwall

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


They were all there for one reason. If you were attentive enough, you could capture momentary glimpses of them posing, smudging, adjusting themselves. They did so in the vast hall of gilded mirrors that were somehow reminiscent of the opulent halls of Versailles. They did look beautiful, with their tightly fitted tails, bespoke top hats and brass-topped wooden canes. The men opened their snuff boxes and secretly admired the women, dancing feverishly in their silk night dresses, the cream-coloured folds undulating in the dim candle-light. I could only look at their reflection in the mirror, for I was too embarrassed to partake in such decadent revelry.

Madam suddenly piped up, "I want to go home."

Flashes at the Café Royal, London

Monday, January 30, 2012

Love Saves the Day

We spent forever anticipating the antics of this night. Yet no matter how long we spent discussing the intricacies of how it could all transpire, the music, the lights and atmosphere, it always seemed to exist in a fantastical realm. For its breadth and grandeur, we often stopped momentarily to giggle at the idea of even discussing it. After all, it would be the celebration of Billy's 30th birthday... and Billy was only 28.

Billy and I had imagined the party in many different places: we imagined surveying Melbourne's skyline from an inner-city rooftop, we discussed the prospect of dancing in a former industrial space. We contemplated the idea of projecting videos on the walls, clips of Deee-lite mucking about in their dressing room or else Grace Jones getting her hair cut. We thought about how we could possibly re-interpret the fairy-light portraiture of Laura Adel Johnson with the help of a projector and some double-sided sticky tape.

As discussions progressed, I became more devoted to this night and what I had imagined of it. I became engrossed with the idea of a heavily populated dancefloor. Sequins, strobe lights, sweat. The more we discussed it, the more I realised that I, too, wanted to have this night of unbridled Italo Disco decadence. Yet, somehow there was always this implicit acknowledgement between us that the night we truly wanted had passed many years before us. If only we could have danced at New York City's Paradise Garage, thirty odd years before?

Even as we stood against the white-washed brick walls of South Melbourne's Smart Artz Gallery, eyeing off the particularly inviting grand piano in the corner of the room, I always thought it would be in the far future. Perhaps it was something in the way Billy spoke about his plans. He had invested so much love, thought and attention in the philosophy of it all. Every aspect of it was full of personal and political significance. It was no longer just a birthday party, it was Love Saves the Day, an exploration of black and gay rights within the context of disco culture.

It became all the more significant when Billy insisted I dj for the early part of the evening. My mind reeled, considering the hundreds, nay, thousands of raging Italo anthems I wanted to blast out, compelling every person to move without contemplation. It would have been the first time in two years that I'd been behind the decks. Were it not for his invitation, I would still be silent and curious, imagining how it would have all gone down, if only I had the courage. In some strange way, his dream of this night made me think of the possibility of orchestrating something so perfect, something so synonymous with love, honour and expectation.

It's strange that it's all over now. What was once a fanciful imagining is now a mere memory. Disco balls hang from the rafters and brick walls are awash with a red glow. Floor to ceiling black and white wall hangings flank the DJ: to one side, Martin Luther King Jr emphatically addresses the masses, on the other, thousands of disco-haters charge towards a pile of burning disco records on Disco Demolition Night. The images are loaded, the message is clear. Suddenly, the politics of disco become apparent: if people can dance together, they can live together.

There are many things I want to take away from Love Saves the Day: how we screeched in mutual recognition of our anthems, how we surveyed the expansive nightscape of a 1972 New York City skyline, how our jaws dropped when a Mr Whippy van suddenly appeared from behind the shutters. Its startling similarity to Billy's original vision makes me want to retain this feeling of gratitude, hope and possibility. It makes me realise that anything could be as perfect and harmonious as one can ever imagine it to be.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I'm not a great believer in fate, as such, but lately I've been noticing this feeling of alignment. This feeling that as one important person steps back, another important person steps forward. That every sense of loss is duly compensated by this overwhelming confrontation: I know we've just met, but I have this feeling we're going to be friends forever.

I feel great safety residing with my crew. Mini, Andrew, Missy Laur, Louise, Noreen and even OC at times. Even my exes, the greatest source of lost communication, have become supplementary members of my crew. They contact me when they witness a passing mention of the Smiths. Andrew says it is as if I have set them all onto Google Alerts and now they feel compelled to contact me, as I once felt compelled to contact them.

My crew are unrivalled in their patience, they are unrivalled in their compassion. They are more than familiar with my bullshit excuses, why I don't do radio, why I don't sing, why I don't write. I don't need to explain any of it anymore, because as we sip at our mochas at Madame Sousou, they understand exactly why I don't do it. Just as they understand why the hating gets as severe as it does.

I don't need to answer to my crew when I fall into a pattern of destructive behaviour. The levels of sympathy vary from friend to friend, but I ultimately return to the perennial advice of Mini: You are doing the wrong thing. You know what you need to do. Of course, it's true. I need to eat better, I need to sleep at night, I need to write essays every day. Unfortunately, it's advice I often ignore.

Inspiration, care of Pika Pika

I don't believe in fate, as such, but this alignment has come about from the rare inclusion of new friends in my crew. Strangers, sidling up to me, blinding me with enthusiasm and encouragement. Why isn't C&CM on radio? Why don't you make those documentaries? Why don't we start a band! My established crew have said exactly the same things to me millions of times before. Yet, I get off on the baffling selflessness of the gesture: hearing the same words from unfamiliar lips.

We may not be friends forever, sure. We may not even last the month. But I don't wish to forget this feeling I have now: People don't need to listen, but they do. People don't need to read, but they do. People don't need to care, but they do. Take responsibility for your art and start creating again. It's a miracle that they still care, long after you've stopped.