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In The Third Person

THE WRITER sits down in front of his keyboard and muses over what subject to weave words around. He temporarily comes up blank. He stands up, goes to the kitchen, and makes a coffee. Sipping it he stares out the window and looks down the valley to the ocean in the far distance. He imagines diving into the cold surf. In the background the presenters on ABC News Breakfast explore the poorly handled vaccination rollout. The phone rings.

Thirty kilometres away, within earshot of the surf, Denise holds the phone to her ear with one hand and kneads a sourdough loaf with the other. She wonders if Keith is home and whether he is in hermit or open-to-chat mode. She wonders how his psychotherapy is progressing.

The writer accepts the call on his smartphone.

As old friends do they chat happily for twenty minutes. They disconnect from the call.

The writer rolls a cigarette. He lights it and puffs contentedly away and thinks how stupid it is to fill his lungs with cancerous tar. He reminds himself to buy another packet of tobacco next time he goes shopping. He thinks how nice it was to be called.

Upstairs the landlady fires up her new toy, a Dyson Vacuum that emits a banshee howl. The writer wonders if the Virgin Hyperloop would make a similar sound as it scoots up the tube.

Meanwhile, Scott Morrison pops up on the television. He says nothing new which is nothing new. The writer blocks out the PM’s droning.

Unknown to the writer, at that exact moment the early-morning Mapleton Bus starts to descend the very steep range road to the coast. Two aged men on the bus joke warmly with each other about how dementia is starting to noticeably affect their memories. They laugh at the fact that they both regularly forget what it is that they are meant to be doing. One of the men relates a little story about when he was meant to go to the kitchen and get a band aid for his wife who had cut her toe. He happily went to the kitchen, forgot why he was there, so made himself a vegemite sandwich and sat on the back stairs in the sun. The other man said that he was equally forgetful. The passengers on the bus smiled at the way the men gently supported each other, they looked out of the window at the steep drop-off on the left side of the road, and also wished that one of the men, the bus driver, did not forget that he was meant to put his foot on the brake now and then.

The writer had a coffee with a friend two days later. The friend was on the early-morning bus. They all got safely to their destinations. As he stands staring out of the window, second coffee in hand and third fag in gob, the writer is not thinking about the story. He hasn’t heard it yet.

What he does think about is ‘Muse, Muse, where art thou, Muse?’

He considers writing about Coal Workers. About how long will it take before those workers turn with a vengeance on Conservative Governments who continue to sell them the lie of a rosy future for their industry for endless decades to come simply to secure their vote? Will it take another decade before the Coal Workers realise that all the transition jobs into renewables, which should have been rightfully theirs, were snapped up a decade earlier by other workers who did not swallow the grand lie? He wonders why the Government is not scheduling the construction of vast solar farms right now in coal mining areas. But he lets that idea slip away … he needs to do more research on that subject matter.

The thought of the Hyperloop sound upstairs comes back to him. He thinks about how if the Hyperloop does become an eventual reality it will kill off any desire for Very Fast Trains, and withdraw from Australian politicians at least one promise that they have never had any intention of delivering on, and how the Hyperloop may well lead to the demise of domestic air travel (if you could get from Brisbane to Townsville in one hour then why on earth would you bother to fly?) and how, multiple technical difficulties aside, how the Hyperloop could possibly lead to the eventual creation of a workable Space Elevator. He pushes that idea aside too … do that one next week perhaps?

He thinks about how the Conservatives treat the unemployed. About how they demean and demonise the unemployed. He considers the old 80/20 unemployment rule which says that 80% of the unemployed desperately want a job and 20% are a bit diffident about it all so why are we wasting billions of dollars annually on profit-taking JobNetwork orgs who gleefully graze on the federal dollar (our dollars) and dismally fail to place people in meaningful and lasting jobs? He thinks about the Private Training Orgs who shower useless Cert 111’s on all comers while our world class TAFEs and Universities are continually dud-funded by our Governments. Nah … I’ve written about that before he thinks.

The thought of psychotherapy enters his head. There’s much going on there. Bob Dylan comes to mind. That crusty old sage once remarked that the point of life is not to find oneself, the point of life is to create oneself. The writer thinks about sitting on a mountain top deep in meditative contemplation of self … he realises that the best that can come out of that sort of navel gazing in his own case is a pointless understanding of the amount of lint that has gathered in his belly button. Psychotherapy is a good thing he thinks … it is teaching him to trust other human beings. Maybe he will write about the experience of psychotherapy one day he thinks … but not today.

He thinks about Denise’s sourdough bread and how good it is.

The writer puffs away. The Muse does not alight. No writing today. He decides to catch the late-morning bus down to the coast, visit Denise, and go for a swim in the surf. On the bus he enjoys all of the precipitous scenery. There’s only one old bloke on the bus this trip. No gentle stories are told about dementia. Nobody has a reason to create a gentle smile, nobody has a reason to shat their pants either, the writer will not know about such things for two days yet.

Even though he wrote nothing at all this day the writer ended up having a wonderful time. The surf was cold and bracing … it cleared his head … he thought about a couple of things to possibly write about!

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  1. RomeoCharlie29

    I like that you write about not writing,
    A favourite trick of

    Also I think it is time a 2014 post
    Titled ‘sloppy journalism from Laura Tingle’ was gracefully retired. Those who
    appreciate the work she is doing now dont want or need to be reminded of a less stellar period.

  2. Harry Lime

    Thanks Keith,made me think of the good side of humanity.I know your country,been up there many times.Also made me think of all those shitkickers in government and other organisations that for all their scheming and rorting,have to turn into dust again.

  3. Michael Taylor

    Good point, RC29.

    The post has now been retired though I see the link is still showing up. I clicked on the link and at least it says the article can’t be found. Hopefully, in given time, the link will disappear too.

  4. DrakeN

    Nice one, Keith.
    Most of what I’m reading in the daily outpourings of the various news sources which I access seem to be repetitions of repeated repetitions.
    Opinions change over time, but slowly, and analyses are based on factors often no longer relevant.
    Naturally, the commercial mainstream media, with the possible exception of the Guardian which is not really ‘mainstream’, is not part of my reading – I got to know my enemy in that field many decades ago and in any case, cross references to those purveyors of hate and mis- and dis-information are sufficiently ubiquitous to indicate that they remain much the same as ever.
    So, when you find that what you think to write about is either not fully researched, previously considered or actually put into words before, then you are simply avoiding the processes which make for ‘successful’ journalism.
    Whilst the means of distribution is changing rapidly, the muck that is being spread is much the same kind of bullshit as ever.
    Your kind of intellectual fertilisation remains as wholesome as ever, so please do continue nourishing us with your ruminations.

  5. leefe

    It’s a waste of a good mountain to contemplate oneself there. That can be done anywhere. Mountains are better for contemplating others things, mainly the mountain itself.

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