Wednesday, December 24, 2008

When Santa Came To Nippers

To all who pass this way from near and far,
this fish wishes
a wonderful christmas to you all,
may you all feel blessed
and happy,
and if you don't,
I shall send blessings and happiness your way.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

in which the sea reveals a memory of reading

You seem in a better mood today, I said to the sea.
That was an uncommonly bad tantrum you were throwing yesterday.

You shouldn’t have been here, said the sea. Come in now. I’m being very nice.

I was shocked. So shocked, that I slid straight in before thinking too much.

Lie back, said the sea. Trust me.

So I lay there. Only my nose poked out, my head tipped back.
I could sleep here, I thought. I spun myself in the direction of the morning sun and pointed my toes at it. My hair fanned out beneath. I thought about Jane Eyre, almost finished, lying on the sofa at home.

You’ve read that book before, said the sea.

I jumped.

You remember that? Me reading Jane Eyre? I was so young! How different I read it now!

and I thought briefly how strange the sea should know of such things, but then again, how not?

Yes, you lay in the sun, by Cabbage Tree Bay with practically nought on yourself, and dipped youself in every twenty pages or so. You were skiving off school.

I had indeed. I remembered thinking that the moorlands, in their colour and texture may have looked somehow like the surface of weedy rocks around Fairy Bower, but the Yorkshire light, back then, was something I could not imagine. I remembered my little bikini in all shades of blue, and the damp corners of each page of the book, the sand in the spine. Then I began to think of all the strange contexts in which I had read such books, in the sun, under the blue, with my hair in long pale strings dripping salt onto the covers. I used to think I had lived my life in books as much as in the real.

I put my head back again, and lay awhile: the sun poured up my nose and into my brain. I would have slept awhile, but that the sea saw fit to tip a little seawater up there too, so I swam back, all the way to the shallow.

I asked the sea, ( since it was being so loquacious)
Yesterday, Did you think I wouldn’t come in? With you behaving like that?

Of course not, it hissed, laughing seaishly.

I return home: Eucalyptus branches are my Christmas tree, lashed to one of the millions of guitar stands found around the house. It looks quite funny, but pretty enough, and now there is a present underneath.

Monday, December 15, 2008

the fish, the sea, and the saga of the tree

I am finding it hard to muster up any kind of festive spirit right now, no matter how much I try. Life whirls on around me.

I have been in some kind of paralysed state: I couldn't bring myself to buy a Christmas tree this year, because if I buy a live one it will die, a dead one will make me sad, and a fake one will go the way of the last one: rusted and unfoldable within a very short time.

Yesterday I hit upon a brilliant idea: out the front I have a eucalypt in need of trimming. Why not use the large branch as a tree? Festive and environmentally friendly all at once! I hastened out with my secaturs and returned up the stairs brandishing two huge branches.

I’m not sure whether using an Angophora was really a clever idea, since they are known for their curving branches. I lured the children in with suitably festive phrases and bade them to stand by armed with decorations. Disturbingly, neither was particularly interested, and the thought occurred to me that were I to avoid putting up a tree at all, no one would even care very much. For me, as a child, tree time was akin to witnessing a religious miracle, but I had far less in my life than these two do.

I dragged up the big, heavy vase and thrust the recalcitrant sticks into it. To make them less like a willow tree I bound a stray stick to them with ribbon, which made them straighter. We trimmed the tips of so they didn’t touch the floor, and began to attach sparkly things, which was rather hard as the branches were so droopy.

It was decided that we would fetch the large heavy riverstone which props open my door against the wind, and place it in the vase to keep the branches still. I placed it into the vase, where it sat wedging the bottom of the branches. It all looked a bit comic, with one branch containing a row of four baubles in a row, looking like a row of eggs. We all remark about the missing decorations from when the cats stripped the tree last year, pulling down branches and smashing all the pretty decorations. Right on cue, Babby comes and sits by, ready to create destruction.

It was just then that we heard a very nasty crack.

The riverstone had shifted and hit the bottom of the vase.
Both children looked at it, then at each other, and took off. 
I stood, horrified: the entire base of the vase was severed from the top.

It didn’t start out life as a vase: it was some old item from a power station: heavy old industrial glass which weighed a ton, performing some industrial function originally, and having been in my possession longer than I have had children. It was one of those finds from an antique shop somewhere, back in the day when the mister and I used to haunt such places, in another lifetime, when such things seemed to make everything alright. When the finding of such treasures with which to decorate my nest was enough for me, when domestic life still seemed like a bit of a game, when I still felt I was in possession of such powers to control what went on around me.

I think the year has tired me out. I did what anyone would do, and retreated to the sofa with Jane Eyre till midnight, glass sparkling there on the floor. Outside the summer wind picked up.

This morning, feeling defeated, I left the pile of branches where they lay, the broken vase sitting on the balcony like a dead thing, and noted that the sea had risen wildly in huge swells. It had played nasty tricks on me on the weekend, the sea, surging against the soles of my feet when I was on a particularly deserted stretch of Saturday’s Ocean Race and giving me the horrors. Right there at Butterbox, where the large creatures dwell, the sea poked at me, and I was frightened momentarily. Today an impossible swell marched northwards.

The waves hurled themselves as far up as they could, flailing at the grassy sandhills. It was the devil’s own work to run the beach. The lifeguards closed the beach so I stood a moment, and stared at the yowling sea.


You have never once defeated me, or kept me out, I said.
I shan't return home dry.

I ran as fast as I could through the foam, and the sea sent me a cracker: I held my ground and shot down and through at the last moment: no fish anywhere here, I thought, and hung on, before shooting up and through the weight of water, tumbling back and hitting the sand with a bang. Again, I thought, you old beast, and took off again, flying over the next at full stretch and landing on a moving wall of water which carried me down and along at a frightening pace.

Then the water disappeared, every last bit of it, as the sea inhaled, and sucked up every drop into a huge thick dripping cave which seemed to hover above my head.
I was on my feet and running up the runnelled slope in a second, before the whole lot crashed down behind me and pulled my feet backwards. Thank God that wasn’t my neck. The lifeguards were on their feet, and I unable to adopt any disguises in which to hide.

You can’t have me today it’s not my day you old snash of an ocean old beast of a water I shout at the sea.

Don’t push your luck, old girl. No fish tricks for you, today, the sea replies to me.

And indeed this was so: for each time I tried to melt into the water it hurled me around like a mad stick. I ran across the surface of the water at the next yawning wave, and shouted into the curve of the wave which rose up to take me: water fountained upwards off my shins as I ran
not today, old thing, not today.

I returned, covered in sand and detritus, heart thumping. Past all the old blokes, who laughed, and shook their heads. We saw that, you mad thing, they said.

Back home the gum leaves are already curling, laid on the floor still covered in sparkles. From where I sit I can look at the sea through the glass of the broken vase, lying on its side, the words “Power Station” barely visible.

So much to do before Christmas: so I shall do what any sensible person might do, fortify myself with a few chapters of Jane Eyre.
 Despite my vow to remain in the here, a quick visit to Yorkshire won’t hurt, while I pick the sand from my hair, and eat a few nectarines, and not think about broken glass, or Christmas trees, or presents, just for the minute.

 There's always tomorrow.

I have swept up the glass, and stood up the branches: for all their silliness, they look quite pretty.
Now , some presents to put beneath.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

in which the fish tries to avoid dreaming too much

Queensland was wondrous. It was burning hot, tropical, and satisfyingly filled with unexpected wildlife.
The architecture was very majestic and colossal.

Gallery  of Modern Art, Queensland

One night in Brisbane I met Jelly. She was brave enough to come to drinks at GOMA.
May I assure all those concerned that she is slim and lovely as well as clever! Don't believe a word about cellulite: she has none that I could see.
Meeting a blogfriend is interesting because you already know the person quite well, so you don't have to indulge in all that explorarory smalltalk, which can be tedious. It's also confronting to have someone looking you in the face, your real face, and seeing the real person rather than the bitsy online version.
Jelly even took me on a tour across the bridge! Then we had lots of late night chatting about life, the universe and axolotls.

Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Queensland

I am home again. Feeling more than ever like I have made myself up, and thus am trying to firmly plant myself in the here and now.
Difficult, sometimes.
In fact I spent all of Tuesday in some strange imaginary place, dreaming and wafting. Having lived a life in words for a month, I am eager to drift back into the Nest of Fish, for some picture making. I'm rather worn out, on Monday I gave a very strange impromptu paper, in which I took rather a large risk and talked about a load of nonsense. I am not able to gauge a completely accurate response, as four people came and requested copies, one complimented my on my mesmerising voice , but one lady sat the entire time staring at me with a look of utter disdain, or perhaps disgust: frowning with one eyebrow raised. Pft, I say.
I talked about falling into things, I talked about pretending to be Ariadne.
I remembered my synaesthesia, which seemed to disappear in my twenties. I was reminded of it, I was reminded of trying to articulate it and having no idea how.

I talked about smelling things, of feeling things. Of looking and hearing.
Some of you out there know what I mean.

Resident of the Garden at Griffith University.

Self Portrait with Bill Henson Image

This morning I was surprised that the ocean was so warm. I thought it may have been the sea welcoming me home, and said as much. But the sea merely told me, very curtly, not to get too comfortable, and pinned me by the head to the sand.

Ahh. Home.

Now I must try to be here in the here. I must anchor myself to the present, I must not dream of the faraway.
I am here, this is now. I am here. Now.

But just for a minute, if I close my eyes,

I am still here

and elsewhere.

Monday, December 1, 2008

in which the fish talks and talks and talks

It’s late, and the evening hanging outside my window is hot and salty.

I have had a lovely, wild, wonderful week. Full of strange coincidences and fabulous things, of terror and bliss, of words, and thoughts, of peach-coloured thunderstorms and clear blue skies.

I wish I could put it all into words, perhaps another time. It has been one of those moments which seem more significant than designated “moments”, or measurings of time and endings and startings, such as New Year, or the end of winter.

But I will tell you this, as a small part of the story.

I woke up having had a hideous nightmare last week: in it, I had found myself having to give a paper, and was reading the program.

A writers’ conference, it was.
I read the list of presenters….Helen Garner, Delia Falconer, Gabrielle Carey….me….

What would I know about writing? What on earth am I doing at a writer’s conference?

I had a sudden vision of Pavlov’s Cat sitting in the audience, shaking her head at my awful grammar. Made note to self: remember to take rusty stapler, That way if I spot Mme Cat in audience, I can shoot myself in the temple and claim lockjaw.

You know the end of this dream: where it goes really well, so well in fact that it really is a lovely dream after all, with fine things said, beautiful friends made. I talk about unknowing, and creative process, and show my lovely film, and watch the faces watching it, and oh, their expressions something to behold.
And still, though it seemed dreamt, I am sure I was awake at some point.

But I digress. I was going to respond to an invitation from this beautiful girl in Maryland, who shows me ponies and hills and woods, and her most charming and fetching little daughter dressed up as a Scottish girl. Her blog is called spruce hill, and she is one of the birds who came to visit from the lovely Alice's place

Ten Honest Things About Me.

I used to hang out with Hugh Jackman.
I started every day with a dose of Hugh after my run and gym class. He worked at the gym, and I would spend almost half an hour chatting and having coffee. He was the sort of person who was so interested in people that he always asked me things, enquiring about work, my art, whatever. He talked little about what he as up to. He was completely adorable.
I hadn’t realised just how little I had poked into HIS business until a few months later I saw his name in some promotion for a blockbuster production, and said:
“That can’t be MY Hugh! He’d never do a thing like that!”
It was my Hugh. And he would have, apparently, and still does.

Sometimes I think I am not real and that I have made myself up.
Actually, that’s not entirely true: I always think that.

Many of the other fish in the sea regard me with suspicion and hostility, because I am not a pure breed of fish.
Firstly, fish are not known for their acceptance and understanding towards fish who might seem different. Secondly, I suspect that they may know I told Roy-the-fisherman where the whiting were hiding because he had not caught anything for six months. Roy is nearly ninety, and I only did it the once, I swear.

I very much dislike those large green caterpillars, the ones which have nasty little horns which shoot out and spray you with stinky stuff. Actually, I hate them. They horrify me.

Often I do not brush my hair for days and have things sticking out of it. One day I am sure to find some family of wildlife taking up residence in it, and will therefore be able to charge rent: I just hope it isn’t those whiting that hang out in the deep hole just past the sandbar. That could be awkward, because everyone knows whitings never honour their debts.

When my cats jump up on the table I pretend I can’t see them.

I have very large feet.

I dream of going to Heron Island, Yorkshire, Broome, Nova Scotia, Norfolk, Rome,
The Blue Mountains to see Mary, The English Coastline, Maryland, Courcheval, Azay-le-Rideau, Scotland….
I am going to Brisbane on Thursday. It’s an Art History conference. I imagine I will be taken many places by the many things I will hear.

Sometimes the best place in the world is my sofa, curled up and looking at the sea, thinking about far places.

I have had the experience of opening a novel and reading all about myself and certain characteristics I display when undertaking certain activities. Very detailed, accurate and unmistakeable. It is a curious thing, to read about a fictionalised self, a peculiar feeling, and one, which I am not sure I can articulate. It was an award-winning book, but thankfully now out of print.
I used to feel very sensitive about this, but now, having recognised that it is only in stories that one can endure, frozen in a moment like that, I am happy enough. At the time I was horrified, but now if I do get my copy out and have a read, I can recognise, between the lines, something a little bit like love. Shining, pale, contained and far away.

All of this is true.

I would like to tag you all to do this. I am going to tag whomsoever feels like telling us things about themselves.

Monday, November 24, 2008

swimming with my girl

“You know Ellie”,

asked my girl, though it wasn’t really a question

“her mother has had a boob job.”

I looked at her, a little dismayed, already right out of things in the yummy mummy stakes as it is, and I automatically covered mine protectively, lest she suggest I have a 'boob job' too.


“She came to pick up Ellie, and she came across the playground in her little pink top”

My heart is sinking already.

“And a brand new Prada bag.”

I am about to launch into one of my usual tirades about materialism and labels and whatawasteoftimeandmoneyhowvacuousapradabagismeaningless

“then I thought of last time you came and picked me up and came right into the school to find me and I watched YOU come across the playground in your little black smock and those long striped socks”

I am feeling weaker by the minute.

“…pulled up and your tights tucked into them. You had your usual face covered in charcoal and a green painty moustache. And blue paint up both arms.”

Ah, I think to myself. At the end of the day, those pretty, silly, safe, clean, slice-baking mothers with pert bosoms are the winners. Are affirmed. Not us filthy weirdo ones.

And then she continued.

“and I was thinking, I’m so glad that I have you as a mother, rather than an airhead with a boob job.”

She has sold her surfboard and bought a camera. She has made some lovely photos, and she does very much like comments on them. You might like to have a look.

Originally uploaded by bella2096

Monday, November 17, 2008

in which the fish accounts for speaking up

I didn’t realise until the last minute, on the way home, that he was taking me to meet his mother.

It had already been a day of small humiliations, the kind that arise from the fact of being so entirely in love with someone that any slip-up causes the enormous fear of rejection. And it hadn’t been so long, either, and I had been out of my depth all day, worrying about how I looked, and looking at him out of the corner of my eye. Still at a loss as to what he saw in me, really, because , quite honestly, he was the most beautiful creature that ever walked the earth. That’s a fact I still maintain as a truth: he was. I felt like such a peahen beside him.

He hadn’t said anything, he just turned into the gate of a small modest house. I followed him up the path, and onto the porch, where he opened the screen door and disappeared inside. I heard him call his mother, and felt sudden sharp waves of self consciousness numb my face. I stopped, paralysed.
I don’t think he noticed I hadn’t followed him in.

I couldn’t move.

He had disappeared into the darkness, and when I hesitated, I lost him. I didn’t know whether to open up the door and go in, to look around in unknown corridors, walk into a strange bedroom by mistake, or even worse, an unknown bathroom.
He didn’t come back out to fetch me, so I stood there, realising how rude this must look. My heart cracked and thumped, and stole my voice away with its hammering. Minutes passed. My face prickled and I stared down at the ground, with no way I could go in now, it would look too awkward, and by now he would be angry, or embarrassed. Perhaps he had told her I was coming, and now I had refused to enter the house.

I waited woefully on the porch until he reemerged, unable to speak. I was like that, sometimes. As a child I was quite shy, and hated speaking in public. In class I shuffled and whispered when it was time to give my speech. But this was far worse: I wasn’t a child, and I had humiliated myself in front of the one I wished to impress the most, and was left completely mute by the experience. I couldn’t have cared less had it been anyone else.
We walked out the gate. It was some time before my voice returned.

She never liked me much, his mum. I tried for years to make her like me. Years later, I asked him why she didn’t.
He reminded me of the summer holiday we had joined his family, in a beach house, of the night we had been overtaken by passion on the sofa and had rolled off onto the floor.
His mother had wandered in to see what the noise was, and he had looked into her startled face over my shoulder. I was completely oblivious.
“She made a little squeaking noise when she saw your bare bottom” he explained, helpfully.
Naturally, I was mortified. Thank God I hadn’t known at the time.

It may not have been my most humiliating moment, that paralysis on the porch, but it’s the only memory I have, of being speechless with embarrassment, that actually still bothers me. It still makes the shame flare up in my cheeks: I was just so self-conscious then. That afternoon retains the power to make me feel shamed, but has informed the way I have conducted myself ever since.

I’ve not really been in my current job that long, this will be my fourth year: most people my age have spent lifetimes writing and researching and lecturing, and have much more fancy curriculum vitae than me. But it’s what I wanted to do, and where I wanted to be, despite the fact that I have lost a decade, and am so far behind. So when good things happen, which is rare, I celebrate them with myself. Nobody knows the dramas I have to go through to do anything, the fighting for time and the endless stepping around the huge domestic elephants that sit in my house, the late hours I spend at my books, the research that gets tossed aside due to some unannounced activity, or a blown-up car, or whatever hundred and one obstacles are placed in my path as I struggle to do things. If I am successful, I have had to work twice as hard as anyone else for the success.
I cannot say any of this, of course. I just have to get ON with it. So when it comes together, I am wildly pleased.

Last week when I spoke at the conference, I knew I would present well: I always do.
I just hate the lack of thorough preparation that circumstances present, or the thought that I have not done my best.
It’s a point of honour, you see, a vow I made to myself, a long time ago, that no matter what, I would never be mute again. I would always speak up and never be silenced, not ever.

And so, as always, there were two persons in that lecture theatre who always come when I am speaking. That blond girl in the front row, with the smiling, unlined face, that girl on the cliffedge of a serious daydream, but listening now, to my every word. I suspect she doesn’t recognise me.
How can you DO that? She asks, and I tell her,
it’s just practice, it’s just breathing.
She has no idea how sweet and hopeful she looks, with her shiny hair and untroubled face. No idea, silly thing.

The other sits closer to the back, smiling that smile, the one he tries to suppress, but can’t. He was the most beautiful boy in the world, once, long ago. He’s still pretty gorgeous.
Look at you, he says, Look at you.
He certainly remembers that fair haired girl in the front row, even though she can’t see him, up the back in the dark: she’s busily squinting at me, with her head to one side.

I speak to him. He listens, to my clearspoken words, as he always does, and disappears when I am done, as he always does, fading then into darkness.

And that young me in the front row? She disappears too, selfconsciously standing now, shaking back her bright hair, moving towards the door, already becoming taller, thinking, dreaming, looking out for her beautiful boy, who is surely waiting for her just outside, holding out his arm, to go together somewhere, finding her voice, speaking up.
Softly at first, then a little more boldly, bit by bit, as best she can.

After a moment, when they are gone, the sound returns,  the chair is fielding questions, and I am back in the moment, answering them.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Five Tales from a Fish in Western Australia


The sun is at my back as I look towards the horizon: so strange, like afternoon, and yet it isn’t.
Despite the evening atmosphere, it's morning, and I am on the other side of the world, where the sun sets into the sea, rather than rising from it.
The Indian Ocean is turquoise and the sand almost ultraviolet in its whiteness. Small branches of flowery seaweed lie in bouquets on the shoreline.

I swim out and along, the currents are at odds with one another. On the surface the sea rolls in, underneath it pulls outwards to the deep, rolling and tossing.

It’s a different colour, this water, and softer.
Strange pale rock platforms rise from beneath as I pass over. I’m swimming northerly, when suddenly the swell lifts me and deposits me gently upon a rock shelf.

I swear, I can hear the watery laughter: I find myself standing in the sea, ankle deep. It's shallow, and I am forced to pick my way back out to the deep.

Fish swim in hollow circles as the fronds of weed whip this way, then that. The light is beautiful. When I returm to the south end I catch a wave all the way in, belly first on the sand. I leave the indian ocean in my hair and finger the tips when it dries: the salt seems soft.

Back home when I return, the sea wears its sparkling morning mantle, and Is perfumed like my dreams. As I gaze, the sea tells me:

That was me, you know. Tossing you like that, that was the other me, in all watery places. It was the other side of me.

The waves hissed to my feet.

And the other side of you, too.


You know it’s not quite ready: there is editing to do, and a run once through.
You receive a text message:

Can you present your paper on Wednesday instead of Thursday ?

You know it’s not a question.
You reach your hotel at 3am Sydney time, having finished a full day of lectures and packing and leaving clean clothes for the children not to mention food, flown through a time zone and half a day,

And you arrive and listen in a bit of a fug and wonder if you will be able to see the words on the page your eyes are so tired.

At lunchtime in a sudden moment of clarity,
You edit your paper, drawing arrows, running lines here and there. Quieting yourself in parts with the slash of a pen.

It’s like the last sprint to the finish.

Unusually, lots of people come.
You smile to yourself and begin,
falling into the storytelling zone, watching your words float around the lecture theatre, settling on peoples shoulders, into their ears.

You don’t miss a beat. Not a scratch not an arrow not a crooked paragraph. Leaping over newmade ditches from one side to the other: The words have made a web now.

As you speak you look at each and every person, into their eyes. Try not to miss anyone, except your friend, who may cause you to smile too broadly.

Questions. Much attention and compliments, a marine biologist rushes up: we have to talk, pushes her card into your hand
A poetess comes and touches your arm and smiles.
A person says, matter of fact:
I am not being sycophantic, but that is the best thing I have heard all day.
A singer says: 
you have a lovely voice.

And if you weren’t so tired you would run outside and dance, because this is all so unexpected, and you so happy.
The best thing is, it goes on for days.

The best thing is, you were pleased with yourself.


In Fremantle, I have a very important assignation: the finding of the Red Hen.
Don't worry, I'll recognise her straight away, I whisper to my friend.
She has red hair, and flowers around her neck

Lucky for me, she spotted me first: her hair was not at all red, but there were flowers around her neck.
What a delight to meet a friend, a lovely girl.
There being no cake, we ate Thai prawns instead.
I'm afraid I was in a state of lunacy
and laughed all my makeup off.
I'd like to say, Red Hen, I'm not usually like that
only that I am.


The boat finds me, in a way. Then I fall into it.

I no longer dream of boats: this is far longer than a dream. I sit with it inside my head, and allow myself to be transported.

I take this space and make things in it and listen to the words of the people who share this space.

The boat rocks eternally, ploughing through an endless sea. I need to close my eyes several times: hundreds of years and millions of tides sweep past.

I make pictures. I share them.
The boat sleeps on.


I travel from the edges of the known universe, past names which are unfamiliar and yet known, the sand in the scrub is from some forgotten childhood. Banksias along the road proffer startling candles.delightful.

Fremantle, Pinjarra, Bunbury, Mandurah.

A snake dashes across the hot highway like a squiggle of black lightening.
We talk  kilometres away in the landcruiser, looking at bright sea and endless landscapes. Our words wind around and out the windows, over the lit paddocks and beyond.

Hours later the farm swings into view: corrugated iron, as silver as the moon.
There are roses, which smell so edible I wish I could eat them, growing near the eucalypts.

Who is waiting for me here?


I love her.
Her tiny fingernail hooves, her pointed pixie ears.
Her curly hair makes me think
Of tough samoan boys with their Mohawk hairstyles in Sydney streets.
Her legs mere twigs.

At the secret signal,
Sarah and Iona run, and transform into the most noble and beautiful pair, sprinting like arabs with their tails up high, a queen and princess.

Back up the paddock, Iona gallops fastest,
Past her mother in an impossible burst of speed.

She is twenty-eight-days-old.

Monday, November 3, 2008

three random thoughts from a tired fish

Today I loaded up my car with 20 large scale charcoal drawings, 4 heavy drawing boards
12 oil paintings (2 tied to roof, very huge), 3 crates art suppiles, a box of tools,
books , a roll of paper.

and my car died.
I sat in paddington in a heat wave wondering how the heck I was going to manage.

I did manage to get it going, but almost passed out driving all the way over bridge to the studio space in brookvale, and hence to the mechanic.

Tomorrow night I fly to Perth!
I won a little grant and I am heading to Western Australia.
Naturally I am going to be speaking about the sea and such things. I shall watch the sun set into the sea, into the Indian Ocean: imagine! here i watch it rise from the water.

I am going to see these two gals, here we are having a photo with Neil MacGregor in Melbourne. Woo Hoo. It was a posh reception at which this fish was rather excited, because this fish saves her excitements for seeing British Museum Directors.

Yes, he is the director of the BRITISH MUSEUM, and one of those girlies knew him in Scotland as a young girlie, so I of course was all overcome and insisted on an introduction. I'd wish I had studied harder at Charm School.
(And the HAIR looks even better than usual hahahah)

I am also going to see the Red Hen too.
It will be fun. I hope we eat cake.

A week ago i severed a bond which was driving me insane: I feel so different, like a trapped honeybee finally flew out of my skull.
It's strange when you have felt a particular way for such a long time and then suddenly you are set free of it. I feel stronger, although there are still places in which I feel sad, here i walk with my head up, smiling, thanking the universe for delivering me thus far.

When you feel your worst, try to love and send the love somewhere. I cannot articulate properly this odd sentiment: I must get some sleep. I have a plane to catch, a life to live, a world to negotiate.

love from the fish.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

in which the fish is visited by the whole world.


Even though I had much to be getting on with, I distracted myself last week with the writing of two stories. Just tidying them up a bit. Fixing their shape.
Sometimes things just form in your head and insist upon attention, until you give them some kind of form. Two stories they were, beginning wih a true event.

Each had reference to a faraway place: one was Maryland, a character had come from rural Maryland,
In the other, a large town in Lancashire was featured: Preston, its museum and railway station. Not random, but especially chosen. Everything I write about begins with a truth.

During that week, I stayed up late each night, writing my papers and marking student assessments. I am getting a little hysterical, realising that there is so much in my life to impinge upon any academic train of thought: and that I cannot preface things with excuses as to why I had so little time.

studio wall

As I sat up one night, a curious thing occurred: my friend Alice spoke of me on her blog, and made reference to one of my posts. As I sat up, it was like a flock of birds flew silently overhead. Alongside my regular friends came a silent constant stream of visitors, shadowy, but certainly present. Such an interesting phenomenon, since their ghostly presence was not apparent to anyone but me.

I watched as the British Isles paid me a visit. Bedfordshire, Sussex, Kent, London, York, Leeds. I watched the list grow: feeling strangely connected with these places, places of which I dream. As England went to bed, America woke up, and from all part came visitors, from California, Oregon, Massachusetts, New York.

The rest of the world joined in this steady flow: Nova Scotia, Tipperary Ireland, France, Japan, Hungary. I stayed up late, accompanied by this enormous silent flock passing, feeling a strange and comforting presence as their wings beat past me at my work, allowing my self a peek at the stats list every half hour or so.

A couple of these lovely birds stopped in and left a message.

One was from Preston, Lancashire. The other, Maryland. These were the two folks who left me a message. I am still marvelling at this wonderful, ephemeral synchronicity.

Thank You, Alice.

Now, since I have been displacing my real responsibilities, I am having a seizure. i have run out of runway and will need to spend the next 48 hours on some serious high powered writing. and not story writing, either.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Two Fish: In Which The Fish Has Company

After a lifetime of rising at dawn
for solitary communion
with the sea and the sky and the other sea creatures

having company takes a little getting used to.

I really don't mind so much that my child has taken to tagging along:

It halves the chances of being eaten by a predator.

(not, of course, that the above creature is predatory in the slightest.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

fish music

It's unusually quiet, out here in the deep today. All I can hear is the sound of my own heart and the ocean breathing.

The chatter in my head has quietened, just for a moment. Other things float up: that quieter music.
I let the waves rock me, and realise
I will never, never, disentangle myself
from the long strings of melody, the arpeggios and trills,
that echo on, and sing to me your voice.

Like a note which resonates forever, I hear it.

Even here.
Even now.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In which the fish is swimming in spring

It is late. Not too late, but the sun is out of bed, and so am I,

Perhaps one might like to accompany the fish, on her sea-ritual this spring day.

It is bright and colourful, the flowers bloom from the salty headland, like a field of stars, not timid and soft, mind.
Brave flowers, which turn their faces to the horizon and drink in this incredible light until they shine with it,

In showers of gold and silver.

Perhaps one might to look along this stretch of sand on this spring day?

Where the girls are going dancing in the sea,

where the cliff rises solemn, and blue wrens weave the heath with the scribbling of their song.

let's go out now. I see the flags are going up, but i don't know these lifegaurds,
they are new.
let's be gone now, slipping under this wave, all fishiness called forth in the green.

out out out.
till there is nothing but us,
and the sky
and the cliff looking on,
of course.

all things forgotten, the time of day just bright enough to send
all pale eyed predators home to their lair
deep below. It's just
us out here, and the sound of the ocean breathing, listen.
If your heart is hurting
sometimes this sound will hurt it more,
sometimes not.

Lets head back to shore: dig deep through this part, the sea might want us longer. Be firm. We cannot stay forever.

No matter how much the sea might wish it.