RIP, TB-T: SOMEBODY CALLED

One of the things that has been highly noticeable about the spread of Covid-19 is that it is no respecter of rank, position, or privilege. Like a true plague, it has struck indiscriminately, from Prince Charles, to Boris the Bastard, to Kenny Dalglish, to fathers and mothers and siblings and offspring less famous, but just as necessary to the wellbeing of the world.

Sadly, for everyone who contracts the virus and recovers, we suffer a painful loss: at the time of writing, over 144,000 lives have been lost worldwide, and the number grows daily. And while it could be argued that some figures might improve the world immeasurably by no longer being in it*, we’re also seeing the loss of people who have enriched our experiences through their work and their legacies. Gita Ramjee has died. Lorena Borjas. Terrence McNally. And last night, as Luscious and I were heading to bed, news broke that brought us both to tears.

British comic actor, writer, and absolute pillar of my childhood memories, Tim Brooke-Taylor, succumbed to the virus at the age of 79.

Continue reading “RIP, TB-T: SOMEBODY CALLED”

EXIT, WITHOUT SO MUCH AS KNOCKING

Sad news this week, with the passing of Australian poet Bruce Dawe.

Like many Australians of my generation, Dawe was my first taste of contemporary poetry. His collection Sometime Gladness was a school staple in the 1980s. Unlike many of my peers, for whom using two forms of cutlery in the same meal was considered forensic proof of poofterdom (1980s. Rockingham. Because homosexuality was something to be feared and beaten, often with cricket stumps or boots, based on nothing more than a certain level of intelligence and perhaps not liking AC/DC that much. At least in my case.*), I fell in love with both Dawe’s work and poetry in general. It’s a love that has never left me: in my day I’ve been reader, writer, and performer of poetry, with a handful of sales here and there to salve my somewhat notions of credibility.

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HOW SWEET TO BE AN IDIOT: RIP, NEIL INNES

To paraphrase the immortal Tom Lehrer, I have been a fan of Neil Innes since conception. At least, I have been a rabid convert to the Innes way of thinking since my first introduction to Monty Python, via Live at the Hollywood Bowl on video early in 1984. Amongst the madness, surrealism, shouting, and general lunacy, a small, sweet-voiced man slowed proceedings down to sing two songs: after an umpty-million play-rewind-plays over the course of a week, I have been able to sing I’m The Urban Spaceman and How Sweet to be an Idiot in my sleep since the age of 13.

 

Sadly, Neil Innes left us this week, dying unexpectedly at the age of 76.

It was about eleven seconds from that first exposure to discovering The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and another life-long obsession. Albums, DVD copies of Do Not Adjust Your Set, and learning every lyric I could cope with followed: my copy of their brilliant album Gorilla was the only LP I kept when Blake moved out and I gifted him my collection because he was so in love with his record player. My love of Python led me to the rest of their movies, and,to The Rutles, and to Innes’ solo work. At every stage, interest became love became an integral part of my comic and musical sensibilities.

 

 

After 35 years, I still have reams of Bonzo and Innes on my playlist, through LPs, to CDs, to, currently, my iPod and iTunes player. Whatever technological advancement is made over the next 10-40 years of my remaining life, they’ll make that journey with me. I’ve come across very few songwriters who can be so funny, sweet, mournful, whimsical, and touching, usually simultaneously. Innes is at the forefront of those I’ve found, and I shan’t be letting go of his work for anything.

 

 

Neil Innes was an important member of my karass, and always will be. RIP. Thank to you, it will always be sweet to be an idiot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

YEAR IN REVIEW: 2019, THE YEAR THAT LITERALLY SEEMS TO BE DYING IN A FIRE.

Time for me to review the year that was. Let’s be honest: this isn’t going to be a cheery gagapalooza of cheeriness. 2019 was a terrible year, where everything was overshadowed by one moment so deeply traumatic that we will be struggling with its aftermath and connotations for years to come.

But bad should be recorded with good. That is why we journal. To lay down our own truths, and share our lives, no matter where they take us. I mean, that and nob gags, obviously.

So, read on if you wish, forewarned and foreskinned  forearmed:  this year contains more on the truths side and less on the usual level of nob gags. And let the wind grip the ashes of 2019 and blow them into the ocean.

Continue reading “YEAR IN REVIEW: 2019, THE YEAR THAT LITERALLY SEEMS TO BE DYING IN A FIRE.”

BREAKING A SPINE WAS EASIER

Today marks twelve weeks since our son Blake took his life.

There are few, if any, physical signs of our ongoing pain. My weight has ballooned again. Luscious wears a tiny urn, filled with perhaps 1/16th of a teaspoon of Blake’s ashes, on a chain. Connor’s attitude, work, and marks at school have plummeted. Erin has become focussed on her approaching move away from home to an obsessive extent. As a family, as individuals, we are… fractious. If you glance, you might think we’re coping quite well, actually.

But nobody else in our town, outside of our family unit of four, is counting our time for us. Nobody else compares what is to what was. For them, time blurs and smudges. The cause is easily forgotten, or overlooked. Only the symptoms remain. From past experience, I know the phase of “Oh, how terrible” is passing. The phase of “Still?”will soon begin.

I suffered a serious car accident in 2001, as a result of which, I fractured several vertebrae in my spine, along with several injuries that still affect me to this day. If they flare up, they alter the way I walk; my capacity to lift, carry, stand and sit; my mood; and even my ability to hold a decent conversation. If anyone asks, I can simply tell them– car accident, cracked spine, flaring up, bad day.

Oh, dear. Poor thing. So sorry.

We don’t get that with grief. There’s an expectation that, at some time — always unspecified, but always soon or by now — you will get over it, move past it, move on. As if a broken place in the Universe is a simpler fix than a broken bone. I took four months away from work when my first wife died, and even then, it wasn’t enough to cope with the stress of returning. It was several years before I was even fully functional, never mind coping and ready to turn my thoughts to being a completely rational member of my community. There are still members of the Australian SF world who will leave a room when I enter, because I was in no fit state to interact properly when they last saw me, and that gulf between the way I was and the way I ‘should’ have been resulted in too much bad karma and too great a hit to their perception of me. I have destroyed entire blocs of relationships through nothing more than the effortless feat of helplessly drowning in public.

Blake killed himself in the last week of the school term. We had one week away from work, and then the two weeks of the holidays. We were back on the job shortly after term four started. That was as much time as the Education Department could give us, and even then, we were ‘lucky’ to have the holidays in there as well.

It’s not enough. Nothing could, realistically, be enough. We won’t be whole again for an uncountable period of time, and even when we are, we won’t be the people you knew. The shape of us will have changed, forever. It will affect the way we walk; our capacity to lift, carry, stand and sit; our mood; our ability to hold a decent conversation.

And, still, we will be subject to “Still?”, as if a broken place in the Universe should be healed by time and some sort of psychic cast. Like a broken bone.

A broken back was easier.

It’s only been twelve weeks.

 

28 DAYS LATER, or ON COPING, or NOT.

Jeff Lacy walked to the ring as the hottest prospect in boxing. he’d been compared to a rampant Mike Tyson, to Apollo Creed, to everything young and brash and good-looking about American sports. He’d been anointed the next big thing, and was almost un-backable in the betting room. Joe Calzaghe was older, slower, past it. Eight years as champion had taken their toll. His hands, never tools of one-punch knockout power, were brittle shells, particularly his left, which he’d broken in his last bout and was convinced hadn’t healed properly. You couldn’t find anyone in the American press, and few in the British, who gave him a ghost’s chance against a fighter predicted to dominate the super-middleweight landscape for the next decade or more.

12 rounds later, Calzaghe was elevated to the legendary status he would never relinquish. Lacy was a hollow shell. Hypnotised by the nearly 1000 punches Calzaghe had thrown, concussed by the 350+ that had landed, the victim of one of the rarest feats in boxing– a perfect shut out round, in which he landed exactly zero blows to his opponent– Lacy was forever beaten. Gone. Destroyed. More than his body was broken that night in 2006. His spirit was ruined. He was never the same boxer again, never the same man. The abyss had not only stared back, it had bitten his soul in two. It was one of the greatest beatings in boxing history, and the man who lost it was forever lessened.

What does this have to do with Blake? Continue reading “28 DAYS LATER, or ON COPING, or NOT.”

PAREIDOLIA: BLAKE

Cattle die and kinsmen die,
thyself too soon must die,
but one thing never, I ween, will die, —
fair fame of one who has earned.
Havamal 76, from ‘The Poetic Edda’

 

Blake tribute dim16.9 (1)_Moment

 

The kids and I flew back from his funeral yesterday. Luscious is in Perth until Thursday, when she will return to us. Perhaps it’s time to talk about it.

On September 21st, my bonus son Blake lost the battle, and took his own life. He was a week past having turned 25 years of age.

Continue reading “PAREIDOLIA: BLAKE”