The Punctuation of Performance: A Guide to Clapping

FOOLPROOF

You’d think clapping would be a pretty straight-forward, intuitive behaviour that’s pretty much foolproof. After all, every human being on the planet has done it for as long as they can remember. Along with things like waving and pointing, it’s one of the very first social interactions you get taught as a child.

But there’s a complexity to this punctuation of performance – and a bunch of situations where it all goes wrong.

So you are up the front watching the coolest new band in town and you’ve been swaggering around in your concrete undies and then the song ends and you start clapping – maybe a little too enthusiastically – but then BANG! it’s just a false ending which everyone else in the room is wise to and you have to suddenly quit your clapping, awkwardly find something else for your arms to do and quietly, slink off into the shadows.

And there’s plenty a band with a song that just suddenly finishes and there’s this awkward, pregnant pause as the audience tries to work out if the song really has actually ended.

CLAPPING INJURY

And I may not be the best person to talk about this subject because I may be one of the only people on the planet to suffer a “clapping injury”. And regrettably, I have witnesses to prove this. I’d been to the football the night before and got a bit excited. The next day I was riding with some mates and noticed my hands were hurting and there were these distinct bruises on both my palms.

THREE TYPES OF CLAPPERS

There are usually three types of clappers in an audience, and by “audience” I mean enough people you might call a “crowd”. So there’s: 1) Hyper-clappers 2) average-clappers and 3) lazy clappers.

Hyper-clappers are always the first to break into a clap. They clap long and they clap hard. They’re leaders – or at least they want/think to be. They know the subject. They APPROVE. They almost want to demonstrate there’s not much difference between whomever’s up there on stage and themselves. In the audience of a speech – sometimes hyper-clappers will attempt to “raise an applause”.  In an effort to sway the rest of audience to (the speaker’s) and their agenda – or perhaps just cause they thought whatever was just said – really quite funny – they will go into hysterics and launch an impromptu clap. But beware – sometimes the only ones who follow are the ones who aren’t paying attention and just instinctively clap as well.

Average clappers are just there for the ride. They dutifully – well, do their duty. They make up the numbers and don’t think much more about it.

Lazy clappers get a bit annoyed at clapping and just make the motions. They manage a few barely audible slaps – or sometimes just make a show to look like they’re clapping – but they’re generating no sound whatsoever. There might be more complexity to this reason that means they are not actually “lazy” but just not really approving but just willing to engage to the point of appearing social and pleasant.

WEIRD CLAPPING

At school we’d have this weird ritual which can only be described as “endurance clapping”. The idea was to clap in our new prefects and we’d just stand around clapping for what seemed like hours – but maybe closer to 10 minutes – and periodically someone would start up a big fat heavy slow clap which everyone would join – smacking their palms together as hard as you could. And then that slow clap would get faster and faster until it was indistinguishable from ordinary clapping. And then the slow clap would start again. By the end of this ritual you’d look at your hands and they would be swollen and throbbing red and your arms would feel like they wanted to drop off.

EFFORTS TO MANIPULATE CLAPPING BY PERFORMERS

We all know performers will give cues for applause. Indeed sometimes there are big signs above the stage saying “APPLAUSE”. But there are subtle cues. The cues to clap are obvious. You take a swig of your beer, you say thank-you, you walk off stage. But in the stop-start song, the performer actually might want to save the audience a bit of embarrassment by trying to avoid premature applause.

Another weirdness with clapping I have found was the various performances by the Fiery Furnaces i have seen over the years. The band deliberately strung all their songs together so there was no gaps. There was no opportunity for clapping. It was relentless music. Kinda like a James Joyce sentence or a Jack Kerouac stream of consciousness. And so I am not instinctively a hyper-clapper, but I found myself desperately wanting  to demonstrate my gratitude at this amazing display. But in the end I had to suck it up. This was ART I was experiencing and I was grateful.

SOME PEOPLE CAN’T ACTUALLY CLAP – INCLUDING MUSICIANS

I know this seems ridiculous but some people can’t actually clap. I have learned this by once having to record hand claps for my band in a recording studio. A girlfriend of a bandmember had come to visit and after hours and hours – was looking distinctively bored. Perhaps even more bored than we were – because recording is perhaps THE most boring activity ever. Parliament Question Time looks like it’s on speed compared to recording.

So I wanted to include her. But it became an effort. Initially she had trouble with the timing, but then I realised it’s not just the rhythm people get wrong. They bring their hands together but don’t make any credible “clapping noise” or the noise they make sounds like slapping a wet pillow. To make a nice sounding clap – you need to clap like you are putting your hands together to pray – but have your hands parallel to the ground. And even those instructions might not get the job done.

Sometimes a tiny bit of moisture on your palms will help. And then make sure the distance your hands move to make the clap is always about the same and then obviously try to make the force of the clap about equal too. Others may have more to say on this subject. I guess I am essentially saying, clpping is a musical instrument – one of the very first – and it takes practice and skill. Some people I know who are drummers, who have been a a billion bands and who are sober and willing just FAIL. Some are even infinite musicians but they still have trouble fucking clapping. It is insane! As a musical skill – many of us take for granted and don’t train. And training is the key to any endeavour – be it artistic or physical.

ENCORES

I really don’t want to get into this subject cause it is so appallingly contrived and old-school. So I will leave it at that.

APPLAUSE!

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The first and only time I have been on the TV news

It was a Saturday night about a decade ago and Liesl and I were watching The Bill – which is not very rock n roll, but in those days apart from actually being in a rock n roll band – we were definitely NOT rock n roll. So I was just lounging around, already just in boxer shorts, cause you can be pretty daggy in the safety of your own home.

Anyway. There was this dinner party going on across the road. They were a bit rowdy, but no big deal. This particular house was in the process of being renovated and they had this new deck which had previously been enclosed. And this was their very first party. In many ways, after years of building – this was their opening night. But then something unusual happened. It was loud enough to draw our attention away from some crucial scene in the Bill. It was like someone dropping a pile of wood. “Why would someone be carting wood around at this hour?” I thought. And then there was this shouting. Maybe it was screaming. We weren’t sure. For a second I thought maybe the party was getting a bit “excited” by fireworks but something else said I should investigate.

So I grabbed a pair of trousers and a shirt and hurriedly dressed. From outside the door I knew the screaming was actual “screaming” so I told Liesl to call 000. I ran across the road jumping across another neighbour’s fences and then I was right there – the first person not involved in the chaos – on the scene. It became quite ridiculously apparent that the brand new deck had collapsed. About 4 people were on the ground tangled up in planks of timber, the dinner table (which remained whole) and what was left of the drinks, plates, cutlery and meal.

Immediately I saw an old woman was stuck up on what was left of the deck. She was being protected from falling by a man behind her – gripping her in a bear-hug.

Another woman on the remaining portion of the deck was hysterically talking to what I assumed was 000. She was going nuts and perhaps exaggerating how dire the situation was – but I did not complain. So I went up to this old guy, obviously in pain, closest to me and I ripped a cushion off a chair to put under his head.

And here is where it gets surreal – I then noticed him looking at my pants and I looked down and my fly was undone. So I smiled and said. “Whoops – sorry about that.” And I fixed myself up. He looked at me like I was dirt, didn’t say anything at that point – nor at any point later. It was like he was appalled that his rescuers were such goobs.

About 60 seconds later the whole neighbourhood was flashing with firetrucks, cop cars and ambulances.

A fireman was first. He assessed the situation and said…and this is verbatim. I cannot make this shit up:

“Has anyone got a ladder”.

I would have LOL’d if it wasn’t such a serious situation.

So feeling I should do something I went searching for a ladder. I instinctively chose my neighbour’s house (who wasn’t home) and just guessed they might have a ladder underneath.

I grabbed this dusty wooden structure which was at least two metres high and literally seconds later presented it to the fireman. I felt like Face from the A-Team. (Who had this uncanny ability to conjure up anything the team required in the most ridiculous of situations)

So the Fireman rescued the old woman just as this dude from down the road arrived shouting “I got a ladder!” And it was a three step ladder. Totally useless.

The next day in the paper this dude was quoted as saying he got the ladder that rescued the woman. NONSENSE!

So later I was on the news cause nothing much happened that day (in the news). Just for train spotters – I was wearing a Custard t-shirt. Cause that was the style at the time.

Life on an Island (Shipwrecks, Cyclones and Lighthouses)

Stay with me here dear readers. This is a big story which needs some context and has some more relevance now I have got hold of my Poppa’s photos and records:

One of my earliest, earliest memories was visiting my aunt, uncle and cousins on Lady Elliot Island – which was an island at the very lowest point of the Great Barrier Reef. Actually, Lady Elliot isn’t even an island – it’s a coral cay. If I knew this at the age I was – 4 I think – I might have been even more impressed.

See my aunt and uncle were professional lighthouse keepers – just in the twilight of that career before the job was automated and relegated to a romantic history of times gone by.

They managed lighthouses on Booby Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Pine Islet, and Dent Island in the Whitsundays.

So as a kid visiting an ISLAND meant I wasn’t just “impressed” – it was actually pretty profound. And this is not an exaggeration cause these events have stuck with me all these years later. Even smells of the island have travelled with me and brought me back over the years.

The trip there was supervised by my Aunt Em and it involved my very first plane flight (to Bundaberg), then a wait for a tiny 5 or 6 person carrying Cessner to complete the journey. I remember the pilot showing me the ocean around the island and saying the sea melted away and all this I could see was land at low tide. I didn’t believe him. It was too fantastic. At that age it was perhaps the only time an adult told me stuff I dismissed as ridiculous. And this was said by a pilot. I must have had a pretty healthy sense that adults lie. (Even though as it turns out he was telling the truth).

So we landed on the Island. And I was a 4 year old mind you and don’t remember very much. But I will tell you what I can. I met my cousins – Steve (8 months older) and Coralie (12 months younger) and immediately I was introduced to the wilds of island life. Us three kids jumped on the tractor’s trailer. It was just a flat bunch of planks with no rails. My uncle Phil was at the tractor’s helms. Suddenly it was bumping along at an incredible speed. I screamed in protest. I was buffeted around so much, and no one seemed to care about my distress, I dove against the wood – lying completely flat, prone, and I desperately stuck my tiny fingers into the grooves between the planks in some vain attempt to hold on lest I be thrown off. Meanwhile my two cousins laughed at me in uncontrollable fits, managing to stay on this ridiculous contraption effortlessly.

After that there was a trip to the top of the lighthouse. After the many steps was suddenly a ladder to the top. I baulked. It was only a one storey ladder. Maybe 10 steps. But we were so high and I just lost it. My cousins just did it without any fear and I was left behind. Meanwhile I was just a puddle of patheticness stranded below while they all made it clear they were having the best time upstairs.

I KICKED MYSELF for ages after. I can remember back at kindy a few weeks later and seeing a ladder and deliberately climbing up it and thinking, “That was so easy – what were you thinking before?” UGH!

The other incredible thing about that visit was that there was a real-life SHIP-WRECK on the island. We went for a walk one day around the beach to visit it and although I wasn’t allowed near it – I was still gobsmacked.

And finally, thanks to my Poppa keeping all my Aunt’s correspondence – here is some insight into life on the island.

It was tough going there. As a lighthouse keeper you often shared the island with other keepers and often they weren’t such good neighbours. There was no phones, just radio. All water was by tanks – so shortages were common. Mail was sometimes lost in delivery and sometimes lost in outbound transit. Ships to deliver supplies sometimes didn’t arrive on time or not at all.

The kids needed to be taught a curriculum by their parents, and later there was a “school of the air”. So “school” was never quite regimented.

Isolation was pretty profound. My aunt sent lists of incredibly basic goods for my poppa to buy and send to her. Just news we take for granted with the internet or daily tv news was never a given.

So here is an extract from one of my aunt’s letters about a cyclone and subsequent shipwreck.

Dear Granma,

I think that you may have been worrying about us the last few days so I am writing this to assure you that all is well with us…You have no doubt heard of the arrival of the missing yacht here yesterday morning on the news.

At 8:30am one of the tourists noticed the yacht off-shore heading for the island and came over to let Gordon know. Phil (my uncle) then went over to the other side of the island while Gordon stayed at the radio to keep in tough with the rest of the world. Phil had his 2-way radio with him so there was no need to run back and forth with messages. It was still fairly high tide when we got there, but quickly dropped enough for Phil to walk, or wade, or swim, he did all 3, to get out to the yacht. The main problem was that it was shallow out there, but the men did not know that and someone had to go out and show them as we couldn’t talk to them on the radio. As soon as they saw that they could walk to shore, they jumped overboard and made their way in. They are now safely rested, fed and bathed, and sleeping at Robyn’s place. They were at sea without sails or motor for 34 hours, in a cyclonic sea, so little wonder they kissed the ground first thing.

As far as the cyclone went, it was scary for a while, I’ll admit, but then we went through as bad at Booby (Island), just sounded worse here because of the noise of the wind in the trees. The cyclone actually passed within a mile or so of the island…unfortunately when morning came and we could see the damage, it made me cry. There were trees uprooted, branches broken off everywhere, big ones too, and so much general damage, it was heart-breaking to see. 

One of my fave music blogs

This is it:

http://www.nevver.com/

I can’t really describe it other than it marries a scene (in HD wide-screen) from a movie with a song. Most of the time the song and the scene have no relevance – to me at least. But I’m pretty stupid. Often the music is old school – but the new stuff is pretty spot-on. The old stuff is worth understanding, but just doesn’t always grab me. One song that defied that was this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwa56zDSJLg

enjoy!

Frida Hyvönen

I just spent quite a bit of time trying to make an umlaut for the “o”. Anyway. This is Frida’s new song!

http://youtu.be/Eb7U-umL5L4

If you are new to Frida, I think “Enemy Within” is a good start – a song that sends shivers up my spine.

Hype Machine or YouTube that shit.

Frida is a tough pop-Scandinavian in a sea of not-so-tough-pop-Scandinavians. I know that might not be true – but I said it.

History – Part 1

I was born in a place called Ipswich in 1975 which later became famous for being the place that spawned a few football stars like Alfie Langer and the one-time Liberal Party member – Pauline Hanson.

My mum (also born in Ipswich) and my dad (born in the UK, but immigrated as a child) met on a train to Brisbane and were married to fleece a government student subsidy that somehow advantaged married couples. My mother wore black to the wedding, the wedding cake was chocolate and my grandfather (dad’s dad) answered when the registrar asked for “Mr Hannah” – so almost married my mother instead. There is only one scratchy photo of the occasion.

ROMANCE

The most romantic part of their short relationship seemed to be the fact that during the 1974 floods my dad (who lived in North Ipswich) purposely stranded himself at my mum’s house (in Eastern Heights), much to Nanna’s chagrin.

When I was 2 we moved to Brisbane and mum worked at the student union at the University of Queensland and apparently organised the Go-Between’s first paid gig. I excitedly told this to Grant McLennan once and he tried his hardest to look interested and completely failed at attempting to look impressed.

As a child I liked Lego and Dr Who and Monkey Magic, but I hated going on long slow drives with my Nanna and watching impatient drivers build up behind her car as she tottered along doing 60 in a 100km/hr zone. I think this was the beginning of my hyper-appreciation for shame.

She would also drive round and around shopping centre car parks looking for a spot where she could drive straight through one car bay and front first into another. This was so she could avoid having to reverse at any stage in the car-parking process. Bizarrely this activity seared itself into my brain and I found myself doing it unconsciously during my driving licence test many years later. The tester, obviously annoyed said, “Why did you do that?” I blamed Nanna and maybe I hit a nerve because he said nothing else and silently ticked a few boxes that let me pass.

STAR WARS

My sister was born in 1979 when we lived at a house in St Lucia on Sir Fred Schonell Drive. Even though for almost as long as I can remember I have liked Star Wars, I was in fact one of THE only children WORLDWIDE to actually walk out of their first viewing of Star Wars at the movie theatre. In my defence I was quite small and made it about 15 minutes in where Obi Wan cuts off some alien’s arm. But then I begged my dad to let me out. I must have known the enormity of what I was doing cause I remember everything about that moment.

Anyway – luckily that initial bad experience didn’t have any effect on me and I found myself one morning not long after picking up an old recorder that was lying around the bbackyard and I shoved it in my underpants (cause in those days you literally jumped out of bed in you dacks and spent the majority of the day in that state) like it was a lightsaber and like I was Luke Skywalker. I quickly realised that the recorder was not a lightsaber but in fact home to a large family of very pissed off ants. My screams woke my dad who met me at the back door and proceeded to pull down my underpants and sprayed me (and my shame) with a full can of fly spray.

If one day I discover I cannot reproduce, I will know who to blame.

I started school in 1981. So I was in grade 1 in 1981, 2 in 1982 and so on. I thought this was the most amazing thing ever and that myself and my fellow grade 1ers were somehow chosen-ones in a “scholastic” sense.

PISSING MY PANTS

I loved school ’cause you no longer had to have a midday nap like at kindy. Despite this I only peed my pants once in grade 1 but no one ever found out. To this very day. You actually might be the first ones I have confessed this to.

The principal – Mr Blanchard – came to visit and I must have just lost it. Authority can do that to you. But as I said, and inexplicably, no one ever found out.

The only other time I almost pee’d myself at school was when I hadn’t finished some assignment – as far as grade 1ers can get “assignments” and the teacher (as punishment) had sent the rest of the class off to the pool for swimming class. I was so upset at being left behind I remember feverishly scratching away at my workbook while this overwhelming sense that my bladder was about to explode invaded me. Luckily I got it all done and was released so I could empty my bladder in the school pool instead of the floor of the classroom.

I went to a variety of schools as I grew up including Oakleigh State School in Enogerra, Eagle Junction, Mt Austin Primary in Wagga Wagga, Central School in Ipswich, New Farm Primary and Glenmore Road in Sydney.

In class I was the kid with his hand up all the time, but often getting the answers wrong. At Wagga Wagga I was top of the class, because there was not much competition. I still have a merit certificate which was awarded for “very good work and excellent manners” dated 29 November 1982. I may have had “excellent manners” but I had very messy handwriting – something I was always getting in trouble for. Arguably, you are all lucky they invented computers so you could read this in 12 point Helvetica.

My mother moved to Sydney when I was about 5 and eventually my sister would move down there too. It wasn’t my ideal homelife but I grew to appreciate having two homes in two different cities and parents that were too far away from each other to fight all the time.

Being a student, dad wasn’t too flush with cash, but naturally we never did without, except if you count Atari game consoles, Velcro sneakers and A-Team action figures as essential items.

MY FIRST AND ONLY PUNCH

In 1983, after a brief stint doing ballet as an extra-curricular hobby, Dad signed me up to a local soccer club and I turned up and just ran onto the big field where a proper game was taking place and started joining in. No one was very impressed. It got worse. Later that day, on a field only one quarter the size of the proper field, I tackled one of my own team’s players because he was hogging the ball and had refused to pass. I then went on to score my very first goal. I was all smiles and full of glory but then suddenly utterly appalled when no one congratulated me. My lack of team skills was frowned upon despite my protestations. This was the world’s “justice” I learned.

A few years later – also at soccer, I managed my first and only proper punch. And in the process I almost broke a kid’s nose. A few day’s earlier dad had taught me about “self-defence”. He told me to grab a kid’s collar with your left hand and pull it towards you while simultaneously punching with your right.

This leads to both power and accuracy of the blow he explained. While demonstrating the lethal nature of this move he managed to give *me* a nose bleed! I was impressed. So impressed that at soccer training when this kid was mucking around and playing silly buggers – I tried it out. There was blood everywhere.

The whole team, including the coach, was in shock. Some kids just stood there. Others rushed around like doctors on ER trying to stop the bleeding. The kid was a mess, crying and carrying on. It was like a war zone. Training was over for the night. The coach had a few words with my dad but bizarrely – I wasn’t punished. And from then on I commanded a whole lotta respect. For years if anyone was giving me grief I’d remind them about what I’d done to poor “Timmy” (I don’t remember his name and he never came back I might add) and they would back off.

VOMIT

And now I shall bring this story to my life-long wedded-ness to vomit.

For as long as I can remember I have been a vomiter. I get car-sick, i get sea sick, I get sick on escalators. My dad was on a date and we were driving up to Mt Glorious for a bushwalk but just at the top I went nuts and dad had to turn the car around. My dad got so frustrated with my car vomiting he once hit me after I got sick all over the front door after a car trip back from Ipswich. TRUE STORY. Try and explain that away dad.

So when my vomitness got kinda acute was in year seven when my school organised a trip to New Zealand.  On our first day we went on a bus trip around the hills behind Christchurch. I felt sick about 3 quarters the way through and they made me stand up next to the driver near the door (cause apparently that would make me feel better.) Just to prove them wrong I barfed all over the bus’s entrance and everyone had to step over it squeezing their eyes closed and holding their noses as they rushed to get out.

POVERTY

So we never had it easy growing up. We were poor – there’s no getting around that. Luckily I have never experienced such conditions since – and i have lived on $10 an hour with a mortgage. The thing that sticks with me about those years was the was indignity. From 8-12 I went to a school (Eagle Junction) in a fairly well-off area and I was forever embarrassed by how little we had. I look back now and realise having a black and white tv wasn’t all that bad.

Having no glad-warp in the house and having to use ex-breadloaf plastic for sandwich bags wouldn’t kill me and was good for the environment

Wearing my former school’s uniform instead of the current school’s uniform could have been my own little exclusiveness.

And never having any cool stuff in your lunchbox didn’t mean you went hungry. But instead, at the time, I felt pathetic.

SYDNEY

My clever, and “ordained” system of 1981- grade 1, 1982 – grade 2 got mucked up when Dad and I moved to Sydney in 1987 and I had to move down a grade cause the NSW education system is so weird. So I went from grade 6 to grade 7, to year 6 and then to year 7 again. So it was that in 1988 – I started high school at Sydney Boys’ High School (who’s alumni included Gough Whitlam, Rene Rivkin, and Russell Crowe)

Then dad realised he hated his new Sydney job and he hated Sydney and moved back to Brisbane to concentrate on an idea for a business he had – which would later make him a millionaire. But more on that later.

I hated Sydney too for a while but I adapted more easily then he did so I decided to stay and live with my mum and my sister in downtown Darlinghurst with prostitutes, drugs, grime, transvestites and for the first time in my life: homeless people. It was an eye-opener for a small-town kid from Ipswich. Next door was a 2 metre fence with broken glass cemented along its top. Every night (and day) there was screams and police sirens and you had to dodge syringes as you walked home from school. But I grew to like big-city living and from my bedroom window in Burton Street it seemed the whole world walked by every few hours.

When the Mardi Gras came around I walked the 150 metres up to Taylors Square to see what the commotion was all about. Immediately some yobbo who was swinging off a traffic light dropped a bottle of beer which bounced off my shoulder and smashed on the ground covering me in stinky, sticky beer.

“Right! I’ve had enough,” I said.

And then I went home and watched what I could from my bedroom window.

At school I liked Art and history and I played saxophone in the school band ’cause it was the closest thing to a rock instrument apart from drums. I was heavily into INXS at the time and was a BIG fan of their saxophonist – Kirk Pengelly. When I was 15 I started playing the guitar because I had started listening to all those guitar heroes like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton and because I hoped it would get me laid. (It didn’t.)

I was not very good at school work but managed to fit somewhere in between the dullards and the brainiacs (and somewhere between the ugly and the tragic).

TOKEN SHIT STORY

Sydney High was very sport orientated. I despised organised sport and I never had a blazer but I loved playing tip footy or soccer or cricket at recess and lunch. In year 11, when I arrived back at class a little early after one such lunch-time soccer game I discovered I had stepped in dog poo. Because the bell had only just rung I was alone in the classroom so I set about trying to scrape the poo off my shoes on the legs of the desks. I worked my way around the room as there was a significant amount of poo to decamp. Eventually I gave up and went off to wash my shoe.

Matthew Ware had just arrived and he managed to half-witness what I was doing but said nothing. When I had returned it had been a few minutes since the bell and I walked into the class to find everyone hugged up against the windows on the far side of the room – all with seriously pained looks on their faces. It was then I noticed the overwhelming stench that invaded every inch of the room. Our teacher was even trying to interest the class in the Peloponesian War without much success. I remember poor, nerdy Josh Kay who was especially put out because he had to sit up the back of the room instead of his usual seat in the front row. Some boys even refused to enter the room and demanded the teacher find us a new classroom. Matthew Ware dobbed me in and the teacher made me clean every desk. I can remember laughing the whole time. It is quite a bizarre experience to simultaneously clean shit and laugh uncontrollably while you worked.

FIRST KISS

The first girl I kissed was called Els. She was a “family friend”. There was no way I could have ever met a girl on my own volition. I was 15 – but looked no more than 12. She might have been 14 – I can’t remember. But my extra age and maturity didn’t help with my kissing technique. I was woeful. I pressed too hard, was all sloppy and just thought kissing was like a marathon – in other words, keep going until dehydration or lack of blood-sugar put an end to proceedings. But, regardless, I thought it was utterly fantastic and I will forever remember that buzzing in my lips – lasting for days later – which meant my life had changed forever.

MORE VOMIT

Around this time another watershed happened in my life. I was on a plane to Brisbane and there was heaps of turbulence and I was feeling ill, but not vomitacious. I think I even sung ‘Alright Now’ to calm myself down.

But then Bang! I started projectile vomiting. It went everywhere. I was soaked, the guy next to me was splattered and the seat in front of me and the aisle now resembled a Pro Hart painting. The whole plane had been buzzing with conversation but now it was deathly silent. Suddenly flight attendants swarmed over me and tried their best to clean me up. They wouldn’t let me out of my seat because of the turbulence. It was at that moment I had an out-of-body experience. It was as if my brain was so appalled it wanted to ditch my useless, vomit-soaked, good-for-nothing body. I looked down at myself and shook my head. It was surreal. Suffice it to say I had trouble flying for a few years later – and this undoubtedly contributed to the fact it took me another 14 years before I eventually travelled overseas.

The day the wind changed

“The day the wind changed” is a documentary conceived, narrated and filmed – I assume – by a resident of Strathewen where dozens and dozens of people died. Perhaps over a hundred if yopu include the surrounding districts. I watched half this documentary during my lunch break today, and the rest just then.

It opens with some pretty compelling footage. It’s told from a local perspective. It’s a human story rather than a traditional history. It has a lot of tears and a lot of conflicting opinions about what this all means.

At the time I was really angry that so many people died in cars. And there is a guy that wants to cut a million trees down just to prevent some idiots dying trying to out-run fire at the last minute. But then there is an awesome dude who says that the trees in fact protected a lot of people and it was paddocks that gave the fire more impetus. But at the end of the day, I am not really sure if there is an answer. The bush is the bush.

I don’t know if this link works – but here it is. Worth seeing.

http://www.abc.net.au/iview/#/view/889059