Welcome to the jungle

chester-cheetahI have never really been in a jungle. Not a real one where you can get attacked by an anaconda or chewed by a crocodile with a penchant for wilful writers.

While this statement of fact is correct, over the past week I have realised this might not be entirely true from a metaphorical point of view. That’s because the city I live in – any big city for that matter – can be jungle enough for anyone. In a city, nasty creatures can lurk behind every corner ready to pounce upon you if your eyes aren’t open and your wits finely-tuned.

The original title of this blog was Welcome to Loserville, but I thought that sounded a tad harsh and I must admit that even though I was stood up most brutally a week ago, within a few days all I felt was lucky to have dodged what was obviously a venomous reptile masquerading as a panda.

You see in some jungles, there are sloths, cheetahs and hyenas. In the city, those three creatures can actually be found in one single person who is also handily a chameleon known to impersonate a unicorn or at the very least something non-offensive like a llama.

But every animal has the ability to attack. I was once head-butted by a sheep so I know this maxim to be true. It’s just that we often get lulled, albeit briefly, into a false sense of security by their colourful feathers, their shiny coats, or their apparent eagerness to please. I have learned – once again it seems – that these are merely the standard guises one adopts when trying to pull the wool over someone’s eyes.

The funniest thing about the whole sad and sorry episode was that the charade that took place was completely and utterly unnecessary. If all that the hybrid creature of woe mentioned above wanted to do was get into my knickers, well, no one normally needs to put in that much effort nor adopt so many different disguises in what was obviously just an elaborate sexual subterfuge.

I have learned again that there is nothing quite like that moment when dreaded realisation smacks you right between the eye-balls. And so it was that I sat here last Sunday waiting for Beelzebub to show for a date that he had organised. It never crossed my mind that he wouldn’t turn up.  But as the minutes ticked further and further past the allotted hour, I muttered: “What the?” to a silence that was deafening.

But there would be no explanation for me. Not for nearly 24 hours. And when it came – via text – it was the most lame-arsed bullshit I had ever read in my life. A hairy-nosed wombat could have crafted something more intelligent.

I showed one of my mates the contents of the “apology” which he helpfully interpreted as a bald-faced lie to hide the fact that the devil-incarnate mentioned above was off shagging someone else when he was supposed to be shagging me. My friend also said: “Darling, if you’re going to be stood up by a musician, make sure it’s a famous one not one who’s only regular gig is down at the RSL”. I admitted he had a very good point.

My reply to the formerly bewitching, bat out of hell mentioned above was succinct and may well have included references to what is usual practice amongst decent human beings as well as a thank you for the excellent blog material and then I said goodbye. I deleted everything, including after this blog, him from my brain.

So it seems that even after all these years living in the jungle I still haven’t quite worked out how to successfully survive here, let alone how to recognise a poisonous soul from a harmless one.  The whole saga, however, did remind me that a leopard has many devilish spots; it always pays to be on your guard, especially in the beginning; and to never again fall for weapons of mass-delusion.

Dear John


I don’t know exactly when it was that I fell in love with John. I think it was sometime around 1999 – about the same moment that he met his wife who I recently fell in love with, too.

Back then, though, long before I accidentally met the love of his life at a Blues Fest show, I lived in the same place as he did. I can’t remember if I saw him on the streets of Fremantle or not. My memory says that I did, but I also am aware that my memories can be deviously deceptive and I also am prone to fits of gross exaggeration.

Whether I saw him on the street or not, it didn’t take long before I was telling everyone who would listen about him, which for someone like me was a very odd turn of events. You see, I didn’t consider myself to be a big fan of anyone. Not even my boyfriend at the time.

Over the course of my adult life, I could give and take almost anything. The All Blacks? I have to admit (I know it is sacrilege to admit this as a Kiwi) but I could never truly understand what the fuss was all about. Well unless Richie McCaw was playing but that attraction has to do with a very different set of balls. Ditto cricket or pretty much any sport whatsoever. I didn’t even have a favourite movie or author (until I was introduced to Hunter S Thompson that is) back then. And then I was introduced to John and I finally became a fan of someone other than myself.

Nearly 15 years later I still can’t put my finger on why it was him out of all the people that I had encountered in my life that turned me into a fan. I’m sure part of it was because he was rebelliously independent and I could appreciate such a mindset.  I’d always been much more Sex Pistols than Duran Duran after all.

I’m also fairly confident that part of the attraction was his hair. I used to have hair like him and at that point in time I missed it very much. Back then it had only been two years since I’d chopped off my dreadlocks in a fit of weary heatstroke in north-western Western Australia and I’d regretted it almost every day since. When drunk – which was often – I used to accost dread-locked individuals and embarrassingly tell them that I also used to have dreadies, as if that exposition would somehow automatically make me part of their hippie club. It didn’t. It just made me look like a knob.

But I think the main reason why I loved John was because he sang about social justice. He sang about inequality. And, to me, that meant he sang about the truth. Back then, I was so left it really is a miracle that I didn’t perpetually walk around in anti-clockwise circles, so him singing about minority groups, mining companies and the madness of love was like a divine sign from revolution heaven that here was a man who believed in, and was worried about, the same stuff that I was.

From that moment to this, as we have both grown older and changed, my admiration for him has remained unmoved. As happens to us all, we have both mellowed over the years and we are probably not as angry as once we were. For him, he admits it was his children that made him see the world in a happier light and over recent years his music has reflected that positivity.

For me, while my social justice leanings remain as strong as ever they were, I now recognise that you can’t save everyone and all you can do is be true to yourself and give back where you can. While I wouldn’t say my days of protest are over, today I’d rather contribute in other less public ways when there is a cause I truly believe in.

Tomorrow, I will attend my 20th John Butler Trio concert (UPDATE: 24 in early 2016). From those days when he busked on the streets of Fremantle, I have bought every album and been to as many concerts as I could. I have seen him play in Brisbane and Byron Bay numerous times. I’ve caught his shows in Tasmania, Fremantle, Christchurch, and even in Dublin, too. I’ve attended by myself, with my best friend who was pregnant with my godson at the time, my brother, and once with the person who I thought was the love of life at that moment in time.

Tomorrow it will be just me and not too many other lucky souls who managed to score one of the few tickets available.  Each one of us will be there because in our own way we love John and everything that he – and we – have always collectively stood for. In some people’s eyes, tomorrow might be the equivalent of a bleeding hearts club but it’s a club, even after all these years, that I’ve always understood the best, even if my love for John is now less about loins and politics, and more about musicality and perhaps just a small touch of nostalgia.

Confessions of a 40-year-old lunatic


As I hung upside, my thighs balanced on the soles of someone’s feet, while also performing a semi-decent v-shape formation with my legs, I wondered: Is this what a 40-year-old woman needs to do to get a date in this town?

Riverside acrobatics was not what I had ever considered to be a remote possibility for a second date, but this was what I found myself doing a few weeks ago. The owner of the feet above – a very earnest Swede with a fondness for contortionism it seemed – professed to me that since I used to be a gymnast, I would have no problem putting my legs above my head while also balancing on his head with just one of my hands.

Alas, as I tried to tell him while clad in fetchingly tight gym-gear that accentuated my lady lumps and minimised any bulges, I gave gymnastics up in the late 80s and the closest I’d got to any acrobatics since then was usually the result of one too many ciders.

So it was at that very moment, well perhaps a few hours later when I had a monster headache from hanging upside for longer than is ever necessary and certainly advisable, that I decided that dating in your 40s is a ridiculous past-time best reserved for people who actually want a boyfriend.

You see as I head into my final few days as a 40-year-old, I have realised that I, in fact, do not. I thought I’d been single for nearly four years because I was no longer desirable or because I was being more selective that I ever had before. But over recent days, I have realised that that is not true at all. The simple truth is that I have been single for so long because I want to be single.

During the first year of my 40s, I remember this time last year, making a pact with myself to say “yes” more often in a optimistic bid to meet my “person”. So I did. I went bushwalking, learned to love Latin dancing, joined a book club, went to New Zealand, went to Bali, went to NIDA, went to the Blues Fest, had a fling with an Irish man and had a fling with a New Zealand man too.

I went to my first-ever V8 supercar race and watched a man who I am in love with just a little as he speed around the track again and again. I learned that even though I have some killer curves, and have been known to get up quite some speed in certain circumstances, I would never want to compete with the passion he has for racing. I respect that. And I admire and love him for it too.

I wrote blogs about spiders, pet cemeteries and politicians. I wrote about my dentist, my teeth, my hair and giving myself an enema on my birthday. I pontificated about fame, disaster porn and the potential of having sex with a New Zealand man while on holiday there in April (big tick). I wrote about friends who broke their backs, their knees and those who were only ever my friends in cyberspace. But mainly I wrote about love and my search for it. Thanks for sticking with me.

On Thursday, I will never be 40 again. I’m neither happy nor sad about it. I guess you could say I am ambivalent. Over the past year, there have been some wins, and some losses. I’ve achieved some stuff I wanted to, and had shit sandwiches smack me in the face at the most inopportune moments. That’s life innit? I’ve turned down dates with younger men because I didn’t want history to repeat even though my brain was screaming at me to not be such a silly old mole. But this year, my search for love will not be my main focus. No, I have just made just one – potentially two – promises to myself.

After two years of feeling sorry for myself because no one wanted to publish my first book, next week I start writing a fresh one. I know it will be better than the first and, who knows, maybe it will be the one that piques a publisher’s interest. It will again be a black comedy, and no doubt I will be in there too, but I learned this morning when talking to my sister that that is the type of writer I am. And I am finally cool with it. If it was good enough for Hunter it’s bloody good enough for me.

And secondly, since it seems I have finally made peace with this single life I have chosen, if a young man crosses my path on the dance floor (or anywhere really) again, then I will take him up on his offer with graciousness and without fear. But I do suspect that a swapping of names will probably not be necessary.