you are on a belgrave train. the next station is ringwood, change here for services to lilydale. the lights outside rush past so you know the train is moving, but it has been three hours since you left flinders st. the sun starts to rise. the next station is ringwood. change here for services to lilydale. the sun sets. the man sitting across from you was just a boy when you first sat down.
you are driving home and you slow down for the car in front. they are going thirty kilometres under the speed limit. they are going forty kilometres under the speed limit. they are going fifty kilometres below the speed limit. they stop. they get out of the car and approach you. they open their mouth to ask a question but there are so many teeth, so sharp, you can’t make sense of the words.
the woman beside you comments on the wasp problem this year. you nod and swat away the wasp circling your head. another wasp appears, and another. soon, there are too many to count. you turn to the woman but
there is a cloud of wasps where she was. the dress she was wearing has
crumpled to the ground.
puffing billy crosses the bridge as you stand and watch. the steam spells out the letters there isn’t much time left. you blink, and the steam is just steam again.
there are roadworks on monbulk road. we just need to clear some trees, the man holding the stop sign says to you. he says something into his handheld radio. the cars pile up behind you. you comment that this is the reason for the roadworks last week. and the week before. the man only smiles. when he eventually lets you pass, you hear his pockets are buzzing.
the farmers market is a hive of activity. everyone buzzes as they move about. organic berries? a woman says, offering you a punnet of small stones. they’re half price, she says. you shake your head no and continue on your way. the buzzing gets louder with each step.
you are trying to sleep. there is a possum somewhere outside. the screaming gets closer, the possum’s breathing is louder. soon the possum is right outside your window. it whispers to you secrets you have told no one.
there is a bus. it is not the right one. you wait an hour and there is another bus. it is not the right one. five days pass and as many buses. eventually, you get on the bus, although it is still not the right one. they have been waiting for you.
15 shows, 11 states, 17 hotel rooms, 1 stately home, and a jazillion miles in a white dodge mini van - from Nashville to Vicksburg, MI to Tampa, FL and back. You can really milk a spring by heading north in May.
Sometimes the drives are long and it’s interstate and truck stops all the way. Other times we’re able to get off the interstate and stop at a road side farm stands, local restaurants and parks - see a bit of the country you miss out on blasting down the highway. That’s my favorite way to travel.
We met a lot of good folks this trip and played two of my most favorite house concerts. First came Live @ Drew’s in Ringwood, NJ ( a very cool cabin on the lake - the same lake where they filmed Dirty Dancing - true story) and Our Kind of Folk in Tarpon Springs, FL ( hosted by Eddie and Barb in their beautiful home, designed by Eddie looking out over the water). This was my fifth time at Drew’s and my first time for Our Kind of Folk. Both involved incredible food and dream audiences. If you live in these areas, check them out. I guarantee you will hear some great music, be presented with delicious food and quite possibly make some new good friends - we did.
I will head back to Nashville tomorrow and start working on a new record - finally. We’ll keep you posted on the progress and try and share some of the behind the scenes working.
To all of you that came out to see us - you are always much appreciated and never taken for granted. Thanks for showing up.
It was raining all day yesterday, and I’m plagued by memories of the
little wooden house in Ringwood that I wanted to rent, just before I got a job in NYC. A
quiet, sleeping street in a mountain and lake region, heavy woods
everywhere. It had rained when I visited, and the smell clung to everything. Soft
watercolor blues, deep greens and damp earth, the land of moss and
mushrooms secreted away by tree roots. Tiny droplets of rain clinging to
the shells of snails.
Rough cement slabs descended to the house
in question, with its smell of wooden boards, a childhood chill in the
bones. Time for tea and the first autumn coat of the year.
patrolling security guard stopped me on my way to the house, not because
this was some gated community hiding casual wealth. Plenty of houses by
the side of the road were ramshackle, even kitschy. Homemade wind
chimes and overgrown gardens with Charming™ decorations prevailed. I
was stopped, rather, because the street was so sleepy and remote and I
was so awake and lost. I was a stranger disturbing its slumber with my poor
sense of directions.
I wonder what difference it would have made
in my life if I had defied everyone, then, and rented the downstairs
apartment in the little wooden house with its smell of damp earth and
its sylvan solitude (note: I kinda want to shoot myself for “sylvan
solitude” but it alliterates so nicely!). If I ignored everyone who told
me to go to the city. Would the tranquility cushion and ground me,
would it prevent the decline that awaited me in New York?
I find that all I had done was place my sorry self in the midst of
beauty, my own borders still impermeable, a vessel of self-pity, a
localized rot? Would I have died there just the same, the oaks and
maples of my childhood uncomprehending outside my window, demanding to
know why they weren’t enough? It’s just that nothing is enough, not
really. It’s just that I am always myself. Sometimes I think about
tapping my eyeball with a fingernail, to see if it will meet the plastic
of fake doll eyes. Do not actually do this. You will damage your
Those who favour legalising prostitution often argue that their proposals would ensure better treatment for the women by removing their need for protection, by abolishing the need for police payments and by introducing trade union arrangements for working hours, working conditions, wages etc. But in fact these arguments are designed to make conditions better for the patrons of prostitutes … The only honourable alternative to the present prostitution scene is its total abolition and that can only come about when women are well paid for jobs which do not involve commercialising their sex. To enable this to happen men must cease seeing women as sex objects.
Anne Summers, 1994 . Damned Whores and God’s Police, Ringwood VIC: Penguin, pp. 202-203
Irony, or: the joys of being placed upon the pedestal of liberal media attention by people who don’t read your book.