Sunday, March 29, 2015

To ride the cushioned waves

Going to bed. This, I think it is safe to say, is something of which I am a fan. I have signed up to its newsletter, I have clicked 'like' on its facebook page, I often think wistfully of it during the day.

And of course, when it happens, it has its little rituals and rules, things that must be done right if I am to sleep right. For instance, there must be a certain amount of tucked-in-ness for sleep to occur in a satisfying nature; and the bed must be suitably geometrical, with the corners of the blankets square with the corner of the bed itself. This is non-negotiable: the results otherwise could include limbs falling out into the cold night air. There should be around two pillows - three strike one as being decadent, and could result in the head being propped up in awkward positions - and most importantly, a certain amount of wriggle time should be factored in before going to sleep. You surely know the deal: the body requires some wriggle before it can truly feel ready for the hard yards of sleeping it is going to do. I don't quite know why this is, but the wriggle really lets you put yourself in all the right positions before sleeping, and test them out, one by one - and sometimes test them out several times over. Of course, some times the wriggle continues for the duration of the whole night, but these are thankfully few and far between.

Sleeping, I am fond of saying, is hard work, and I am a little surprised that people don't acknowledge this truth more often. Why else do we often wake up from sleeping much more tired than when we have begun sleeping? Staying awake before sleeping - you could do that for hours, sometimes even days if need be (air travel is built on this concept); but staying awake after sleeping is much more difficult. It is not just fatigue, either: sometimes you can wake up with black eyes (what on earth...?) or toothaches, or arm-aches - not to mention the fact that you always seem to wake into those dreadful one- or two- or three-day lurgies that lay you out.

This morning I seem to have awoken to a trifecta of afflictions: a kind of scrape on my heel, a sprain in my other leg, and a bad back. I have no idea how, or why, I could have somehow procured these complaints during a protracted bout of sleeping, but it just goes back to what I was saying before: sleeping is hard work, man!

In fact, it's so difficult that I think I might have a little lie on the couch now. You may call me petal and bestow other such epithets of sympathy on me, if you wish.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Telling your yeah, nahs from your nah, yeahs

As the poet says (and he, irritatingly, has a habit of saying such things): "Yeah, nah".

But what does the poet really mean when they say, "Yeah, nah"? Are there situations in life when "Yeah, nah", actually means "Yeah, yeah"? What of the feminist claim that "No means no"? Applying the logic to the current equation, and carrying across the positive to the negative and reversing the neutron flow of the universe, not to mention vice versa, does "Yeah, nah", actually mean, "Yeah, nah", no matter what we think it's meaning might mean?

And what does this meaning mean for "Yeah, yeah", which in actuality means "No"; or "No no", which doesn't (though it doesn't mean, "Yes", either). Come to think of it, what does this mean for "Yes, yes", or the rare specimen of "Yeah, nah.... yeah" which we may still find in the wild? Is this to be a case of letting the eyes have it, or (taking it from the horse's mouth), will it be a neigh rather than a yay? Just what is the poet on, anyway? We'd ask him, but he strangely seems on leave at the moment, so we'll just have to ask the footballer instead. Let's give it a go.

Q: So, how do you think you'll go in the game on Saturday? 

A: Yeah, nah.

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Straight from the horse's mouth. (Horse? What horse?)

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tragedy is when you cut your finger...

"There was a young lady from Ryde", begins the fairy tale, as so many fairy tales begin...

...Who ate some green apples and died
The apples fermented
Inside the lamented
And made cider inside her inside. 

From that heartwarming tale of a successful fermentation completed in the most unlikely of circumstances, we move to a sorrowful tale of tears, trauma, and tragedy. While I was making cider today, I cut my finger. And then, proving that life has a way of finding situations that cannot get any worse, and then making them so, I cut the the other one.

When you have dried your eyes and ceased shaking at my horrifying tale, you will be happy to know I now have 4.5 litres of apple cider in my study about to start fermenting away. When that cider is ready, I shall drink it. And if I should happen to die after drinking it, I'll be sure to let you know. What else are blogs for?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


VICTORIA, MONDAY  - Labor has decided to go ahead with the controversial East West Link project, with the  entrance of the new road being built through former Premier Denis Napthine's bedroom.

"Building a gigantic fucking big road right through Denis Napthine's bedroom is a really important infrastructure project for this state," said Premier Daniel Andrew's yesterday, "And Labor will be delivering this project on time, and on budget."

In answer to questions about the possible legality of such a move, Premier Andrews replied that the East West Link would have a 'sound wall' and that an environmental impact study would be performed "or some shit like that".

The office of Victorian Liberal leader, Matthew Guy, has responded to queries that he is "happy Andrews has decided to proceed with the project". However, Guy's office has indicated the Coalition would also like to see progress on their alternative suggestion, "Building a Doncaster Rail Link with a big arse station right in the middle of Daniel Andrews dunny".

"That way, when he wanted to catch the train, he could just hop off the loo and jump on the train", offered one Coalition minister, helpfully. "Why aren't Labor considering this sensible and reasonable suggestion to help ease Victoria's traffic congestion problems?"

POLL: Which project do YOU support? 

a) Building a gigantic fucking big road through Denis Napthine's bedroom
b) Whacking a big arse station right in the middle of Daniel Andrew's dunny.

All responses are welcome. Just place a tick beside the appropriate answer with your texta or something like that.

Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, looking all evil and Machiavellian and shit.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Food for poets #1: what to eat when you write about nothing.

As a poet, at some point you will of course have to tackle the subject of nothing, writing about the fundamental nothingness of existence, or the basic nothingness of something (or something), and what to do when that horrible event comes along that we've all been dreading and nothing much happens. Obviously it is very important for you to take this all incredibly seriously, and wear black, scowl gloomily, and sit about doing.... well, nothing. Good.

So, writing about nothing is the most important thing you can do as a poet. Basically, nothing is really something, or should I say, you should be able to make something out of nothing, or maybe writing something about nothing should make you really feel.... something. I don't know, you're a poet, I'm sure you'll be able to get round to it. Point is, writing about nothing is so incredibly urgently mindblowingly important, that you shouldn't be on an empty stomach when you start. You need to get some food into you. But what?

1. Donuts. Donuts are an excellent food to eat when writing about nothing. You need to take those donuts out of the bag, one by one, and admire their wonderful shape, their smooth curves.... and most importantly, the little empty hole of meaninglessness at their centre that makes them look like a zero. You really need to get those donuts into you, straight away, so you can have that little empty hole of meaninglessness at your centre and you can start writing about nothing. But make sure they're hot, fresh out of the fryer and dusted with cinnamon sugar! Otherwise it won't work.

This food is so important for poets that I'd go so far as to say that you should eat it every day.

2. Also good: Cheezels, Toobs, Burger Rings, and those types of breakfast cereals that have holes in them. You could even try a little DIY project at home and make pancakes with a hole in the middle, but this subject is so incredibly technical and complex that I wouldn't bother if I were you.

3. Some poets, when thinking of writing about nothing, have ventured into a Wholefoods store on false premises. Poets, never do this. This is based on a fundamental misunderstanding and in years to come dieticians will write about this as one of the short-lived food fads of the early 21st century. Sometimes you will be lucky to find even one foodstuff in these stores with a hole in it.

4. Acceptable: foods like KFC, the sort that of food that you at once compulsively eat, and and leave you wanting less.

5. Controversial, but still acceptable: foods such as crinkle cut chips. Do the crinkles actually add more to the chip, or are they actually cut out of the chip? The crinkle cut chip is therefore a fundamental study in somethingness or nothingness, or something like that.

That's all for this episode of 'Food for poets'! I hope you all have a lovely time contemplating the bleak nothingness of everything, or how to live up to the legacy of other poets and do nothing at all with the rest of your day!

Fig 1. An important food group for poets.

Fun activities to try for yourself #2,000,001

Burst loudly into a room where a philosopher is sitting doing some serious thinking about a difficult philosophical conundrum, and immediately shout, "Stop thinking so loud! I can hardly hear myself talk!"

"I think it's time I gave the car another paint job"

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Nice places to have drinks in

I like a drink or two and I have been drinking on and off for many years now. But I wonder if I would have ever got into the healthy and enervating practice of drinking if it hadn't been for pubs? I like a pub, too. They look like a nice place to do things, to drink things in, to be in. They're attractive. Sometimes when I'm in a pub I half think I'm actually there to appreciate the place rather than the drinks. And maybe I half am.

There's a couple of iconic artworks of Australian pubs out there that have stuck in my memory ever since I was a kid, such as this -
Moody's Pub, by Russell Drysdale. Now that, it seems to me, is what a good pub looks like. There are elegant windows and there is a door where a door should be, but just as importantly, it has a balcony (with tres fashionable iron lace), so you can stand upon it and take in the evening air while you converse pleasantly with your elegant and strangely elongated companions in the quiet country town. The less said about the Ettamogah Pub the better, but while we're on the subject, even it has a balcony. Do you know how hard it is to find a proper pub with a balcony still in use? Did previous mischievous patrons tip half-pints of fermented beverages onto unfortunate passers-by?

I can't actually recall the first Melbourne pub I drank in; it was one of the numerous Fitzroy backstreet pubs, perhaps the solefully-titled Marquis of Lorne on a long afternoon early in the year. If it was the Marquis, it's had several paint jobs since then, but I recall it having a pleasant dusty wooden atmosphere, like all the best pubs. It had a rickety wooden stair leading to an uninhabited second storey, and a small shabby pool room where you could retire and sit around on these voluminous couches.

Melbourne was something of a stronghold for temperance politicians - as you can see in the slightly desperate names for some of our early 20th century pubs, such as The Perseverance Hotel. Perhaps reflecting this, a lot of our early wealth from the gold rushes was spent on extravagances such as the Victoria Markets - market stalls being literally blocked in permanently to the rest of the city. Pubs and bars haven't had the same privilege, so it is reassuring to come across the occasional bar that seems to have become one with the city. Two come to mind; the Charles Dickens Tavern and the cosy Sherlock Holmes Inn, both bars where you have to walk below street level. I especially like the Sherlock Holmes Inn, with a variety of British brews on tap and cosy little ingles to cosily mingle in.

My favoured watering hole is the Dan O'Connell Hotel, not so much for my drinking habit, or my architecture habit, but for my slightly less reputable poetry habit. When I first started going there it was a solidly Carlton and Guinness pub, with one weird cider on tap (actually, it was probably Bulmers). It had a nice bar along the middle of the room and comfortable big red chairs, with a painting of their namesake on the wall. The chairs have, alas, since been refurbished, and the bar has been relocated allowing for free movement between the pool room and the main room, but the painting has stayed. It's an Irish pub but has never, thank heavens, succumbed to the full horror of green paint, four leaf clover images, and - *shudder* - backpackers. In fact they do have a four leaf clover stainglass above a door behind the bar, but it looks oddly incongruous with the rest of the surroundings and, consequently, is rather charming. And just look at their lovely turret, the fancy font with which they announce their name, and the - what do you call that sort of decoration? I'll guess I'll just go with 'decoration' - above the name.

I have also noticed a peculiar characteristic when sitting within this pub and drinking and admiring its noble edifices. Though situated on the corner of the quiet Canning Street and the noisy Alexandra Parade, the noise of the Parade never seems to irritate you while you listen to the poetry or the music or the bubbles in the beer singing their own soft melodious song. Perhaps it is just the magic of the building. Or the drinking. Or possibly soundproof lining on the windows and doors, though I'm going with the magic. It is a wholly lovely place to have a drink in.

Here ends my succession of ponderings about nice looking Melbourne pubs. Perhaps one of these days I could organise a little tour to admire the architecture of many Melbourne pubs in one day. And perhaps have a drink in them to admire their architecture more. It could be called a pub.... a pub.... give me a second, I'm sure a good name will come to me....
Email: timhtrain - at -

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