Sunday, October 07, 2007


It's Friday night, i'm drunk, and i have just bought me some spurs.

Well, it's one way to kick off a big night out. Whilst buying spurs could be interpreted as a sure sign that i have been in the North West way too long, it may also be a natural, reflexive reaction to drinking too much rum. Now drinking too much rum is definitely a sure sign of being in the North West way too long. Either way, it is touch-and-go for a while, bidding against two hardcore, spur-craving cowboys - Macka and Dustyboy - on eBay. But i think West Coast time may have helped me in the end, because by the time i place my final, desperate, spur-driven bid at eight o'clock on this Friday night, those Eastern States cowboys are already full of Bundy, with Dustyboy no doubt getting all the Dustier doing circle work in a ute in a drought-ravaged paddock somewhere north-west of the Murray-Darling basin. A pair of stainless steel offset spurs, with brass rowels and leather straps with brass buckles, direct from the USA via Salisbury Plains in South Australia, will soon arrive in my mailbox out here in the wild west frontier town of Carnarvon. And they will go straight onto the back of the black, hand-tooled, Cuban-heeled leather cowboy boots i got from the dear old ladies at the op shop last week for five dollars. With a copy of Georges Perec's Life: A User's Manual thrown in for good measure.

Carnarvon style.

This is an expression which, understandably, has gained immense traction in the Mickey T household, after Mickey T and Cowgirl Chelsea won a ludicrously glam ballroom dancing competition called Dancing With The Stars - Carnarvon Style at the Civic Centre, Carnarvon's former woolshed turned culture-and-the-arts barn in the high street.

Whilst it was indeed a night of salubrious dancing splendour, what with a panel of judges, finger food, actual trophies (the miniature version Mickey T is holding here was given him by Richard the Oyster Farmer in a doomed attempt to bring him down to earth) and the beautiful, long-legged Latin dance teacher Kerry Lavell (yes, we had it all), its lasting value was its addition of that gloriously descriptive, all-encompassing phrase to the local vernacular, with the two words Carnarvon style now being randomly applied to anything vaguely cultural (in the postmodern, critical sense of that word) within the shire boundaries - be it design, cooking, turning up late, turning up early, interiors, gardens, drinking, driving, drinking and driving, hairstyles, apparel (the premier women's clothing store here is called Pimping Beauty - that's a very Carnarvon-style name), surfing, playing guitar, or generally tooling around - it's all now done Carnarvon style.

Mickey T is expressing an interest in buying a road bike, now that my Yamaha XS650 is nearing completion. There's a Honda CB250 advertised on the community notice board outside Woolies, a bargain at $700, so Mickey T tears off one of the paper tabs, with the mobile phone number, and rings it up. Nothing. He tries again. Nothing. Mick, look, it's only got nine digits, it's not a complete mobile phone number, i say. We look at each other, say the same thing. "Carnarvon style."

So, Friday night, and i have placed my highest possible bid on eBay for the spurs. An amount still considerably less than the cost of the bottle of Bundaberg rum i will buy from the Gassy as a traveller later that the evening, shortly after i ask Abi - the beautiful young barmaid from London, who looks after us at the Gassy with awe-inspiring reserves of equanimity and aplomb - to accompany yours truly for a magazine shoot in Coral Bay (yes, we just get drunker and drunker as the town gets redder and redder). But i am ahead of myself, and a linear narrative is a much underrated literary style. Colby, Mickey T and i are on our way to that waterfront bar, the Carnarvon, to party with the doyen of the Gascoyne arts scene, Sarah, and celebrate her thirty-somethingth birthday. So our evening starts out on quite a civilised, if slightly intoxicated, note, with the Three Amigos drinking champagne, and toasting Sarah amongst the hoi polloi of the Carnarvon social scene. But, as avid readers of The Nerve know, such social niceties will quite rapidly degenerate into a wild, drunken rampage across the town that will leave a trail of tarnished reputations, burned bridges and blood in its wake.

We turn up to the culture-and-arts barn to see a play, Educating Rita, already quite soused, with a bottle of plonk from the Carnarvon secreted in my camera bag. Mickey T and the brutally unsophisticated Colby accompany me to the theatre foyer. I will civilise this place, i mutter, quoting the sadistic oath offered up by Ray Winstone's policeman's character in Nick Cave's classic of sun-scorched Australian savagery, The Proposition. I will civilise this place. I am already in possession of a complimentary ticket to the theatre, thanks to a half-hearted offer to write a review the production, but Mickey T and Colby are queued at the ticketing counter. It is then i notice that Colby is wearing, atop his work clothes, a pink scarf, which i last saw lying on the back seat of the Newspaper vehicle.

Colby tosses the pink scarf casually over his shoulder, and in his normally loud voice, made inordinately louder by the effects of red wine, rum and champagne, calls to me across the crowded foyer, "Marky Mark, you gorgeous hunk of man, i just can't wait to be exposed to some theatre." I stare down at my cowboy boots. But, mercifully, it does not take long for Colby's pent-up affections to be transferred to the brash, shrill, fishnet-stockinged and PVC-clad actress playing Rita, and the evening's thespian entertainments quickly become peppered with vivid comments and lurid descriptions of what Colby would like to do with Rita, be it on the desk, the chair, or the carpeted floor.

"Alas I came to this beleaguered land and the God in me evaporated," says John Hurt's bounty hunter character in Cave's screenplay. We need a theatrical production of The Proposition here, Carnarvon style. Stuff this stilted, dated, oh-so-English Educating Rita. We need more rape, fraticide, torture and mayhem. And a good moral quandary. "Alas I came to this beleaguered land and the God in me evaporated." Carnarvon style.

One a.m. at the Sandhurst, and we are scanned for weapons before we are allowed in. Mickey T has picked up a lovely Scottish barmaid somewhere along the way. The Sandhurst looks exactly like the kind of venue where they would have cage fighting, without the cages. The Three Amigos and the barmaid - whom i shall call Desdemona for reasons which are not entirely clear - enter the Sandhurst, famous for the brutal and almost fatal bashing of an off-duty policeman in the carpark by a crowd of people armed with baseball bats late last year. There are some mean looking motherfuckers standing around in the bar. I order a round of strawberry daquiris, and Colby and i take it to the dance floor like couple of whomoes.

What's life without adrenalin?

Later that night, as Colby runs about the house in his underwear, shouting desperate appeals for a threesome with Mickey T and Desdemona, i stab myself severely in the back of the middle finger of my left hand, trying the jab-the-big-sharp-knife-hard-between-the-fingers-in-quite-rapid-succession trick. I stare down at the bloody wound, momentarily confused. How odd. Normally i can perform that trick exceedingly well, with some degree of precision. Something has gone horribly wrong.

Perhaps it was the daquiris.

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