Happiness is the opposite of thinking.
- Art Director.
I wake with a start and realise i have lost my writing mojo. I realise, suddenly, that i simply can't write. Woah. Woah woah woahdiddly woe. Now i'm in trouble. I realise i have been unable to write for some weeks now. I bury my head in the pillow. I hear the kookaburras outside the window, laughing. I raise my head to shout at them. A dim glow over Mount Clarence tells me it is just before dawn. It is always darkest before the dawn. If you're going to steal your neighbour's newspaper, this is the time to do it. But i have more pressing problems at hand.
It is because i am no longer miserable. Misery is a writer's best friend, saving, as it does, his or her readers the trouble of being miserable for their own selves. Misery is a blessing in a disguise, a bit like Nastassja Kinski in that bear suit in The Hotel New Hampshire.
For a writer, happiness equals death. Happiness freezes the brain into a kind of Zen blancmange from which nothing can emerge but fatuous tautologies, and the occasional recipe for Thai chilli mussels.
After shouting at the kookaburras i pass the day cutting copy from one of our North West newspapers, periodically picking up the phone to berate the mindless, rum-snorting party animals that pass for journalists in that part of the world. Martine comes in to grab a camera. "Did you know the collective noun for subeditors is a whinge of subeditors?" she asks as she passes my desk. How edifying. She pauses, Nikon in hand. "Hmm. I wonder what the collective noun is for journalists?"
I stare at her. "An affront of journalists would be quite apt," i suggest.
So. The mojo. I feel i must return to first principles. This means consuming vast quanitities of either wine or beer. Excessive consumption of alcohol is guaranteed to bring on a dose of the abjects. So i take Miss Polly out to dinner. Halfway there - i say halfway there as if there were some destination in mind, which there never is, because going out for dinner in Albany always involves driving up and down the same desultory streets ruling out the same desultory restaurants, before eventually throwing culinary caution to the wind and choosing a place that is at least consistently mediocre - halfway there, Dewse calls from somewhere up the highway.
"Hey A.D," he says. "I'm in Kojonup."
"What are you doing there," i ask. "Come to Albany. And bring a tuna."
"Why," he asks.
"I want to cook sashimi," i say.
"You don't cook sashimi," Dewse says.
"Just find a tuna and get down here. Jesus, man, don't argue with me."
“I was going to camp in the Porongorups and climb a mountain,” he says.
“Fuck you.” I say. “How about you come to Miss Polly’s instead and we get pissed and write a joint blog.” The mere mention of the word 'joint' has Dewse pulling up his metaphorical tent pegs.
He turns up after the chicken parmigiana, all hair and attitude, smiling like a poor man's jesus, a new copy of On The Road stuffed into his backpack. The desserts look dubious, so the muse and i decide to pay up and head back to base. I whip out my bank card to pay for our meal. It is, after all, the day after payday.
“Sorry sir, but it is declined," says the buxom waitress.
It’s always embarrassing when you have to ask your date to pay for your food. And yet, as Dewse so kindly points out, this is expected - like next week's pay cheque.
Miss Polly produces her credit card.
“What else am i supposed to do?” asks Miss Polly. “Regurgitate?”
The waitress stares at us, no doubt hoping this is a rhetorical question.
“So what are we going to do?” asks Dewse, once we have escaped the very real prospect of criminal charges.
“I have ideas,” I say. “That don't involve night clubs. And besides, Miss Polly has a credit card, so I suggest we stick with her.”
We head for Spencer Park. Dewse gets a tour of Miss Polly's house.
"I never got a tour of the house," i complain.
“Maybe that's because you headed straight for the bedroom,” Miss Polly says.
She points us to some pre-Party cartons of warm beer on the kitchen floor, then peels off her stockings. "Good night boys," she says.
Sleeping is one of her favourite activities. But then, how else is she going to find her dream house?
The guitar, the blues harmonica and the cartons of warm beer are but a prelude to drunken computerising. The writing becomes somewhat turvy. But Dewse did not come all this way in search of a qwerty merely to fall asleep on some chased lozenge. No fear. We need tuna. Perhaps we can buy some online? "Shut up," says Dewse, and directs my aspirations toward the further consumption of warm beer. He takes over the keyboard, foaming bottle at his side.
"Party." It’s a profound and familiar voice that resonates down the blower, one I met some time ago down at Oyster Creek. His deluded pitch is frightening. We used to get away with it then, up that way. The booze, the hash, and useless days without a hint of tit. Long odious days where the red earth ends, veering off into the ocean sea. A dangerous place, where a man finds no companionship other than that of a loaf of stale bread. Where the desert will fry the brain, if you give it half the chance.
“You think we are pissed now, just wait till the Party," the Art Director says.
"Lets hit some clubs up,” i declare, with a certain insanity that will see a good man do time.
With that, the Dewse abandons the keyboard and heads for the fridge.
I look at what the Dewse has written, and decide i should leave stories from beyond the edge to the younger generation.
So, i've lost my mojo, i complain to Sarah Toa from under my hangover. Sarah is my rock, my touchstone, and my warrior princess. She is not afraid to tell me when i am being a princess because, as we all know, it takes one to know one.
Try looking under the bed, she says.
Sage advice. This girl knows her bream from her mullet. She gives me a jar of fig jam and a dozen eggs from her chook pen. On the way home i buy some bread. Gluten free, says the label. Glutens are great, i think. They should glue body and soul together for a while longer.
And it's even better if they are free.