I wrote and contributed this experiential essay then although not immediate to the 17th. What definition I wonder did we choose, the ed. and me … to move on to something else instead.
The hubbub of children oscillated like a drone in the hall. Fashionable ladies with smiling grey-haired, white-headed and bald men gathered near the vinyl/leather lounge where I was sitting. Hardly an individual voice could be heard. I was lost on the second/third floor of –perhaps – an outlier of a department of the NGV for all the sense I could make of foyer areas of bare walls and stretches of carpet with scrambles of schoolchildren pets accompanied by their teacher-owners walking them. Wherever I walked. Some carrying chairs and so far I hadn’t seen any art much. It is a big place to feel adrift. Feeling very much a loose cannon, might I cut and run. Escape the noise setting up its one all mighty gig in my head. As if off the end of a water slide whooshed. Barely treading water was I considering the carpet a stretch of a hard sea. I had decided to walk to meet with the thrill of discovery of a random piece that would transport me to heaven. An intrigue of an oil painting by an abstract artist. The solid of a sculpture by a realist. I began wending my way across a loch inside a castle on the island in its moat. I could not be far. I reached a lift door hidden in a blank wall. Art was in the air as a bespectacled youth with another bespectacled youth met the lift when I stepped out. The young people spoke to the silent lift as they stepped in. Their words whisked into the drone of words, laughter, giggling, sneezing, coughing, talking, whispering, rustling, but no footsteps. A spy could get a spy with polonium-210 in that place. People maintained their distances, walked singly and flitted with chairs.
Harrall Fletcher’s exhibition appealed to me for its title: The sound we make together (Melbourne). I did not attach to it thoughts about the initial cacophony of nothing and everything going on in my head and space as I defined it in the interior’s conclusions of edges of blocks of shadow and light and unlit corners. “Soundscapes” (an assumption) had lept out of a flame of interest to the forefront of my narrowing mind and I turned to looking for locational plans, a wall directory, signs. A sign after choosing the traffic of attendees going somewhere to trail after was obscure that appeared in a dark (I am sure) wallplate: ‘Harrall Fletcher’ I discerned and details. I chose the modest door and felt blocked by a screen with hanging on it a dark (I swear it) photograph that didn’t appeal as I wondered if it was lit or I unlit. ‘Collaboration and Participation’ was not what I was after and yet I chose a community-based project. I was more and more engaged in interest in the individual.
When I walked around the screen and saw the sea of floor, felt an immense separation of feelings I noticed stirring in instinct to bond them, from where I stood thus I undertook an honorary inspection of the room empty other than for its exhibits and decided…to leave the NGV for another visit to Melbourne. Outside, I saw a couple of enterprising men using the synthetic grass space next to the gallery to stretch and discuss the dynamics of their musculature. They waved their hands at each other. I thought that looked interesting. A thin young man in an ill-fitting suit sat on one of the clustered bales provided on the lawn. He lifted a pamphlet to read it and discretely scratched his top lip with his free hand. I recognized a Movember moustache as I did another and another inclusive of the same self-conscious gesture wherever I had walked through the streets of Melbourne that day. Art abounds in Melbourne city in the street, that seeming to be wherever it can be fitted and adorning its architecture.
Somewhere alongside the Yarra River I sat at a bus stop, changed into the Crocs I unpacked out of my possessions in my rucksack off my back and found a rubbish bin for my sneakers. I had over the course of two days walked my sneakers to ribbons and as well I needed to repack my belongings ready to catch my plane in the early morning.
Emmjay and I met at First Dog on the Moon’s book launch of FDotMs Christmas Book of totally scratchy (hilariously funny) text and cartooning, which is why I was in Melbourne and on that day we both were on invitation to attend. We had a delightful meeting. Emmjay (he mistook me for the woman in the grey dress) I learned was holed up somewhere earlier enjoying a pre-launch vino. I was sorting myself at my digs at the backpackers across the way from where the early evening event was held at the Trades Hall.
Although Emm had to leave to catch a plane home I could stay on for an evening of side splitting comedy of one after another stand-ups who followed the launch on a separate billing. The talent of the performers every one particularly the lack of pointless profanity I recall as a breeze on a summer’s day. I explored the corridors of the Trades Hall after the show.
Victorian workers won the first 8 hour day in the world in 1856. An original address for the Victorian Trades Hall was built in 1859 and the present building is result of upgrades between 1874 and 1925 (Wikipedia). The structure is magnificent from an architectural viewpoint of a monolith. The commodious space where the launch was held was comfortably filled later by the large audience that enjoyed the evening’s performance comedy and when I had arrived before the launch, I took a wrong turn and found myself in a series of meeting rooms.
I photographed the display of the image of Gough Whitlam on the landing of the magnificent Trades Hall staircase that has accommodated the tramping up and down its sweep of who can imagine how many workers.
Story by Big M
Foodge leaned back against the smudged, stained wall behind him. He had been awake for over a day and a half, watching the ‘medical practice’ across the road from the Pig’s Arms. He was, a self confessed, master of disguise and had been through over twelve changes of clobber during the shift. He was now wearing his green and gold tracksuit that he had kept from his tilt at the disabled Olympics, but the tan leather brogues and white tennis socks had let the entire outfit down. He locked himself into a Bishopesque fixed stare with the small, tanned face across the round, laminex table. “Manne, thanks for taking over. No reports of malfeasance, and, more importantly, no sight of the target.” The target being Vinh Ordinaire Rouge, missing pleece inspector.
Foodge reached out to shake hands, but caught his sleeve on a stray screw sticking out of the aluminium edging on the table. Table, coffees and half a pie ‘n’ sauce ended up in Manne’s lap. “Err…sorry, old chum…must dash.” Foodge made good his egress through the multiple strips across the entrance to ‘Con’s café’, and hotfooted it to the Pigs.
It was, literally, a few minutes before sparra’s fart, and the sky had the slightest hint of colour, but the stars and the moon still shone brightly. The façade of the pub was dark, except for a narrow beam that escaped the crack between the doors of the Main Bar. Foodge sprinted (wandered) across the road, pulled back one of the heavy timber and glass doors, and let himself in. Unfortunately the door closer was so powerful it knocked him halfway into the Gentleman’s Bar, where a weary Merv stood, absent-mindedly polishing pint glasses with a dirty rag. “Ah, Merv, my good man, there wouldn’t be a pint of Best there for your old mate?”
Merv shook himself from his reverie. “Granny, ‘e’s here!” As he slopped a canoe across the timber bar.
Granny appeared out of nowhere, and Foodge, being a great student of human behaviour, thought there was something wrong. Was she sick? No. There was something about her face. Had she been bitten? A rash, perhaps? No. Granny didn’t wander over and slap a plate of bacon, eggs and wedges in front of him. She seemed to just loiter in the doorway. Foodge squinted over the top of his glass. ‘Oh, shit.’ He thought. ‘She wearing a dress, and worse, she’s wearing lipstick…why the…’
“How’s our favourite crime fighter?” Granny seemed to wiggle her hips a little, as she spoke. “How about Granny rustles up some breakfast?” With that she disappeared into the kitchen.
“Merv, what the hells going on with Granny?” Foodge was so gob smacked that his pint hadn’t been touched.
“Uh, another pint?”
“No, what’s wrong with Granny?”
Merv shook his head. “Granny, there’s nothin’ wrong with Granny, in fact she looks mighty fine.” A broad grin creased his lumpy face. “It must be you!”
‘Me…what” Foodge was getting worried.
“Don’t worry, Granny gets a sort of romantic fixation on some younger bloke…let’s face it, we’re all younger blokes.” Merv laughed. “She tarts herself up, makes eyes, at her intended, then, just like that.” Merv clicked his fingers. “She’s back to her ole self.”
Their conversation was interrupted by Granny sashaying in with a plate of eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, tomato, and toast made from Turkish bread. “Here you are young man, a crime fighter’s breakfast.” She paused to lay out the cutlery on the bar, complete with a real paper napkin. “Now Foodge, you are not driving home in that state, there’s a bed made up for you upstairs, where you will be undisturbed,” With that she sashayed off.
Merv was still grinning as he poured a second pint for our Foodge. “Fern rang last night.”
“Oh, good, was there a message?”
“Not sure…something about ‘making contact’…I dunno, guess she’ll catch up later.” Merv clicked the remote to the mega-plasma to watch the start of the Mourning Show.
“Pleece still have no idea about the whereabouts of Detectives ordinaire Rouge and O’Hoo…” the anchorwoman droned on.
Foodge had finished his breakfast and skulled his second pint, placing the glass down on the bar with great aplomb. “Well, Merv, looks like I’m off to bed, nighty night.”
Will Merv remember the message?
Will Foodge meet DCI Ordinaire Rouge in the car park of the Pigs Arms at five p.m?
More importantly, will Granny continue her crush on our favourite Private Dick?
Friends of the Pig’s Arms and Doggonauts
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For days, it seems, we’ve lost our dog
We wander round in hazy fog
Our fear, it seems, – he’s run away
He’s spat the bone,
No more Dog play.
We wouldn’t give him up for quids
Sad old Crikey runs his good dog vids
We want him back, and make it soon.
Return to us, First Dog on Moon.
But where’s he gone ?
Is it unsound ?
Has anyone looked down the pound ?
Has he gone for good ?
Will he be found ?
But hark, to all, he will prevail
Return to us with waggy tail
I bet he has an iron-clad reason
He’s been chasin’ chicks in doggy season.