Last Monday I had to call my friend Boris and tell him that I couldn't attend his band practice because I was sick again. No sooner had I recovered from a bout of influenza, another sickness overtook me. This time it affected my stomach and it made me dizzy. I couldn't eat for a while, because the thought of food made me nauseous.
"Why do I have to get sick so often?" I thought. "Maybe it's just bad luck. Or maybe it's something to do with the fact that I live in filth and squalor and I haven't cleaned my apartment in the past nine months."
I looked around and sure enough, there was an awful lot of garbage and tissues. But the problem was just too big for a sick man to do anything about. I decided I'd have to tidy up my home as soon as I got well.
I was feeling a bit better on Wednesday, when my friend Ben the bass-player invited me to come to the recording studio to witness the finishing of the demo-CD which had been started the week before – I had helped out with the keyboard playing and singing with the band. The musical parts had been recorded, and now it was time for the mixing stage – I didn't need to bring anything. Ben said he would pick me up at Mentone station at five o'clock in the afternoon.
On the way, there was a bit of a tram-delay. At least fifteen trams were stuck in St Kilda Road – it was like a traffic jam. I had to wait for the tram drivers to sort it out so that we could move again. It didn't take very long, but it made me late enough that I missed my train from the city. That meant that I didn't arrive at Mentone station until about half-past five. While I was on the late train I wondered, "Will Ben wait for me at the station, or will he get impatient and leave? If only I could contact him somehow –"
Well you can guess what happened – when I arrived at the Mentone station, no one was there to meet me. I waited for a few minutes to see if Ben would show up, but he didn't. So I thought, "I could get a taxi to the recording studio, but it's probably not that important. Maybe I should just go home. But it seems a shame to go straight home when I've come all this way, and the sun is still shining in the sky."
I had a vague notion that Mentone was somewhere near the beach. I didn't have a map but I walked and walked for about half an hour and eventually I reached the sea-side. The sun had gone behind the clouds. It was cold and windy and the beach was almost deserted.
click to enlarge
It was good that there was no one there, because I like to be alone, whether it be in a house or in wide-open spaces. I'm a bit of a loner. A lot of people don't know what it's like to be a loner – they like to be with people and they associate solitude with loneliness. But sometimes when I see a place empty of people, it makes me wish that the whole world were unpopulated.
I don't like human beings – I'll explain to you what wrong with them, by describing the world as I'd like it to be. I wish all the cars in this city would drive far, far away, leaving the roads and garages empty. Then, I could walk or skate or ride a bike on the roads without worrying about the dangers of traffic.
I do like trams, but I don't like the fact that they're full of people and it's sometimes hard to find a seat. And I don't like the way they stop along the way to pick up other passengers – in my ideal world, the tram would only stop to pick up me and it would take me straight to my destination without pause. It wouldn't need a driver – it could be automatic because there would be no traffic to avoid. You see? Having no people in the city would eliminate all problems.
"Ah, but Stephen," you say, "If there were no people, then the city would not have been built in the first place. And where would the electricity come from, to power the trams?" Well, yes, humans provide numerous benefits to me, in indirect, hidden ways – I would like them to continue to provide those benefits in the background, without being seen.
But even that is not always true. When it's a sunny day and I'm at the beach, I like to see lots and lots of people – it's often very pleasant and entertaining to watch humans at leisure. The problem is that when there's just a small number, scattered across the beach, they intrude upon my solitude without providing adequate entertainment. And that's how it was, on Wednesday afternoon at Mentone, as I walked along the path beside the beach – whenever there were humans on the scene, I wished they would go away.
Flash animation – move your mouse over it to interact with the
dance of the spinning circles.
By and by it started to rain. But I didn't get very wet because I sheltered under the Mentone Life Saving Club pavilion. That was deserted – they had these toilets with changing rooms and showers, but I didn't stay in there much because it was cold and dark and I couldn't find a light-switch. So I sat on the ground outside the building and watched the rain-drops in the puddles until they eased off. Then I walked back up the beach. It had been a different sort of day, with unexpected adventures. I walked three kilometres through the gathering twilight to the railway station. There was a man asleep on the train when I got into the carriage – I took a photo of him.
Today I tidied up my flat. I threw away the rubbish and the tissues and put things away in their proper places – it took all day. I didn't get around to dusting or vacuuming, but on the weekend I will. I'm no longer sick, but I still have the after effects like coughing and sneezing. This week I worked on my painting and started doing the surface of the moonscape on the extreme left of the picture.
I saw this show on Friday night called Noise On Screen – it's an arts programme, but it's not boring because it's sort of "youth oriented". It has interviews with young australian artists who are working with new media, plus examples of their work. The best thing about it is the style and the graphics they use in the titles and the links between segments – it looks modern and edgy. Anyway, one of the young people interviewed was a guy I went to school with last year – he was talking about the short film that he made. I'm just glad no one is interviewing me for a television show – it must be so hard, to appear interesting and give the right answers.
This Wednesday I went to the karaoke and sang a song called "Californication" by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I didn't sing as well as usual and it was not as much fun as usual. In some ways, this was a good night – the singers often had a lot of talent and they picked non-mainstream songs that I liked. But there was no dancing so it didn't put me in a higher state of happiness.
Last Friday I went out to the Evelyn Hotel. I saw this cool rock band called Shoot The Genie which was all female and they played some vaguely catchy rock tunes. Then I saw this funk band called Baron Samadhi – the thing about them was, they had a high standard of musicianship and they were tight, with fast paced funk grooves in every song – and that singer out front, he was the "life of the party". In one song they even did synchronized steps while they played. And the third band were called The Grand Silent System, they're my favourite band and I had a very good time listening to them. The rest of the audience liked them too.
When I came out of the Evelyn Hotel, it was too late to catch the late late tram like I normally do, so I had to catch the Night Rider Bus. At first it was just your typical bus-ride. But then, around the Crown Casino area, a bunch of drunken party-girls got on and they were loud. They were singing and shouting and telling the driver to turn up the radio, and sometimes they just let out these ear-piercing squeals. I was sitting forward of them so for a while I just pretended to ignore everything. Then, halfway through the bus-ride, one girl whose hair was extra straight and clean came up to me and started singing in my face, it was that song about a mockingbird. She was wild. I didn't know whether to smile at her or just ignore her. Her friends were laughing heartily at the situation. Then she said to me, "Your lips are moving like this, as if you're not sure whether to laugh or cry – well, I say you should laugh. Come on! Where's the love?" That phrase "where's the love" was a catchphrase that she had been shouting repeatedly throughout the bus-ride. But when she said it to me, it sounded like an insult. So I looked at her face without smiling. By this time her friends were not laughing any more, they were telling her to stop, like it wasn't fun because I refused to enter into the spirit of things. So she stopped talking to me and returned to the fun with her friends.