Sunday, January 31, 2010

31. St Kilda early

As the menu approaches, I motion the negative with open palms, “No no - may I just have a flat white and a plain croissant, please?” The dim light within Il Fornaio sustained the mood created by my morning dawdle along the St Kilda pier, industrial chic morphing into French bakehouse. My mornings, being infused with burnished light, would struggle to embrace braised ox-cheek on parsnip mash. Just keep it minimalist.

Tearing the swirl of pastry and extracting its steaming insides, my nose twitches to the aroma of brewed coffee, my ears prick to the rustle of newspapers, and the soft murmurs of couplings, the morning after. Folding the broadsheet into the convenience of a tabloid, I scan the pages for snippets to tease my imagination. Failing, I replace the crumpled paper, glaze my eyes so they cannot be seen seeing, and take in life through other uncommonly aroused senses.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

30. Missing you already

A fine gossamer ache stretched across the divide, fine yet with a purity of strength.

“But it’s not forever,” she breathed haltingly, a more complex thought jostling, “She’s not going to the dying place. Is she?” Her round brown eyes as dark as a newly turned sod; dark, yet sparkling with a vivid intelligence.

“She’s going to Benalla, lovey. Where she lives.” came the reply, trying not to be gruff, reaching deep for the tenderness of the growing seed, for the truthfulness of the straight furrow, a strange land.

Imperceptibly, she leant back into his shoulder, as the guard’s arm waved along the platform, the air filling with the groaning of the carriage and the grating of wheel on rail. The ghostly figure within the cabin raised a tentative hand, as she was eased along the platform and out of sight.

The girl, shoulders slumped, entered a patch of silence.

Friday, January 29, 2010

29. Between the tracks

Chaos reigned as the semi-finals out at Laver Arena clashed with the Australia Day parade down Swanson Street, necessitating a mad dash through the crowds, mass sarcasm drooling. No-one messes with riled sports fans on the streets of Melbourne.

“Damn, my water has spilt and now it's all wet down there”, complained the plumpish 30-something. “Half your luck!” retorted her mate, as they both chortled.

“Have you gotcha ticket?”

“Yes, yes. I’m organised. Not that it matters. There’s always empty seats in the first coupla rows.”

“What? You wouldn’t, would you? I couldn’t. Just not right. I buy m’ticket and that is where I sit, no matter what.”

“But – some seats are empty all day ....”

“Doesn’t matter. Social order, that's what I believe in. Otherwise ... otherwise ... that is how ... something started ... trying to think of some war as an analogy.”

“With tennis ... ?”

Thursday, January 28, 2010

28. Touching

They paid her no heed, she melted into the greyscape, past her prime, an unremarkable figure swallowed by the horde of shoppers on pension day.

Alice eagerly anticipated her regular appointment with Antoine. Just a simple cut. Scissors, please, no razor. As always, the pleasure was in the process. Deep within her frail spine she came alive as he swathed her head with water, then shampoo, then conditioner. His were the only hands her body still knew. Raising his palms, his fingertips massaged insistently into her scalp, as he murmured the everyday in his fractured English. Then, with a brusque flick as the towel turbaned her head, it was complete, with just a hint of vanilla to waft with her through the afternoon.

Afterwards, a thing of beauty being a joy forever, she sunk deep within the velvet plushness of the cinema to experience the bittersweet loss of “Bright Star”.

Here follows the version I wrote before going to Melbourne. Originally, the title was "Past her prime", then followed "Across the divide" as I struggled to determine the subject of the Riff. However, as I reread the previous few Riffs, together with your comments, I knew the topic was isolation.

Across the divide

They did not acknowledge each other. There was no need. They were simply waiting for the lights to change before crossing Newland Street and being swallowed up in the Thursday shoppers in the mall.

Alice looked forward to her regular appointment with Antoine at Hair Tamers, just off the mall in the arcade that ran through to Spring Street. Just a simple cut. Scissors, please, no razor. She adored having him wash her hair and massage her head. Deep within her spine, she could feel herself relaxing. His hands were the only ones that ever touched her nowadays. He would raise his palms and rotate his fingertips deep into her scalp. Then all too soon, and brusquely, it was over. The smell of vanilla and coconut butter from the shampoo would waft around her head taking her to another space.

Afterwards, she would see “Bright Star” at the Greater Union.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

27. Now see here

“You can’t just come down here every day.”

He was at a loss to know what to say or do. She was not even his child. He had come along when she was eight and already a handful. She was obsessed with fame, with being famous, with making it into television. Every morning she would leave home with her school pack slung over her shoulder, dressed in the blue-checked uniform that so disgusted her. And sure as eggs, every morning the call would come informing them that she had not arrived.

“But why would they pick you, love?”

She knew it was her destiny, if only she believed. That is what the palm reader down at the markets had told her. Everything would then transform: the puppy fat would dissolve, the stoop would straighten, the stutter would correct.

“It is my destiny”, she whispered, staring at the line of ants.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

26. Doing lunch

Every Tuesday for the last thirty four years, since Eileen lost her Johnny, they had lunched together at the brasserie on the first floor of the RSL in Spring Street. Regular as clockwork they were. Eileen would hop the 352 over from Enmore and Pat would hail the 380 as it chugged up the hill from the beach. It was only a few blocks, but even that was more than she could bear nowadays.

Being widowed so young was a great shock for Eileen, and having two littlies to feed and clothe was a tough road to hoe. It was alright for Pat, her Harry was still pottering around down the back shed doing God knows what. And no matter how long Pat moaned, he had been a good provider. Doing lunch was the glue in their friendship. Yes, they were sisters, but what they had was more than that.

Monday, January 25, 2010

25. Wrong pond

Colin lived with his parents behind Arthur Shilling’s Holydene store, on the right just over Wybong creek, where the tar gives way to corrugated dust. It is an isolating existence, for a soft boy buried in astronomy books rather than covered in monkey grease, like his father.

Old Alf is a hard task master with strangled parenting skills. Their conversations were physical: a hand would shoot out, and Colin would slap in the correct spanner, whether it be ratchet, plier or stilson.

Edna, however, was a vision in pink, known around the traps as Martindale’s Barbra Cartland. Not to her face, of course. Edna would give you the shirt off her back. She served for ten years as President of the Martindale Country Women’s Association. Edna believed in the Church of the Casserole.

Colin has enrolled in Physics and Maths at Sydney, boarding close by with friends of his mother.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

24. Endgame

Deep within the central chamber, they found relief from the baking sun and the biting sand, released their sodden back-packs onto the marbled floor, and mopped their brow with an already damp towel. Being in the tour party challenged their very being. Assembling by the appointed time was not a problem for them, but waiting whilst others dawdled to their own internal clock was a rude awakening; as was the patent lack of interest in the ruins of ancient civilizations and the way of life of its peoples. If you don’t care about Incas, then don’t trek to Machu Picchu. If the Alhambra does not take your breath away, then stay clear of Granada. Take a vacation in Harrods, or Galeries Lafayette, or Macys. Anywhere but here.

They leaned back against the chalk covered column, gulping in the silence, gasping for an out to an intolerable situation, past breaking point.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

23. Mornng smoko

For the life of her, Marie could not work out the attraction. What did Helen hope to gain from her acquaintance? Yes, she may just be a lovely, friendly woman who treated all folks equally. But this was ridiculous – they were in different stratospheres. How did the song go, “I say tom-ay-toes” and you say “tom-ah-toes”. Andrea went to Ascham, followed by Arts/Law at Sydney, then into Blake Dawson with the offer of a partnership in her early thirties. Whereas Marie slugged through Retail Sales 101 at the local TAFE to spend the next seventeen years helping women like Helen choose the latest silk-linen ¾ sleeve number off the rack at David Lawrence.

And here she was in the lane, puffing away to calm her nerves. Each day another poster sloshed up and others tagged. Riff raff. That was her station in life. Gym partner or no, this must stop.

Friday, January 22, 2010

22. Qualms

He could look out for his dogs. That was never an issue.

Up with the sun, stubbies, tee, retrieve the tatty Dunlop volleys, grab the leads from the hall-stand and wince to the grind of the front gate, all within ten minutes. The dogs knew the pack drill. Enthusiasm was all, bounding, drooling, wrestling, barking, not only allowed, but mandatory. Just he and his shadows.

This morning was no different, the pattern was ingrained. Legs a-tangle, bound the hedgerow, slow trot down the lane, round the old tram curve into The Cascades, over the dual-carriageway, dodging the pats that litter the cobblestones from the Mounted Police horses each morning and, within fifteen minutes, into the bliss of the park. His dogs obeyed his every command. Stop. Sit. Wait. Chase. What he wanted suited them just fine.

Dogs were a known quantity, but a child grew a mind of its own.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

21. Ships in the night

Gracie lengthened her stride, “Well, I have worked like hell on my friend, Robert, but I can't bring him to his senses!“ Her tone was an amalgam of exasperation and hubris. Having been on her own for so long, there was a brittleness to her need that was readily apparent, possibly to Robert.

In response, Jan ran the glass-half-full argument, “You'll just have to accept that, and try to be grateful for his terrific friendship. It’s futile laying siege and battering the castle keep. You will lose more than there is to gain.” Jan had a sneaking suspicion that Gracie aimed high deliberately, recalling the list that she had peeled off just the previous Saturday over a fruity white, watching Jack Lemmon steal the show for the umpteenth time as Daphne: young is good, must be sporty, a tasteful dresser, a professional, preferably finance. It was never going to happen.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

20. The green fuse

Come stand with me at sunrise on the naked cliff and know the minuteness of man, the immensity of his planet. Look up, down, out, and you will see the green fuse, but not the force - which is unknowable.

Come turn with me toward mammon and catch the full blast of our drive to fashion, to harness, reflected back at us through the myriad of burnished windows stretching far along the sandstone ridges and the green gullies, now overrun with years of our toil and our abandon.

Come lean toward the east and catch the updraft from the pounding seas below, the spray of salt and the warmth of the rays rising up into the heavens from the distant horizon. Sense the power of the waters, the energy of the winds and luxuriate in the warmth of the sun, as you ponder your place.

Come walk with me toward mammon.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

19. Clashing plates

Desperation, immense weariness, and lost hope, made her faltering spech inane. Drowning in the despair of others, she tottered on the brink of her own.

“But the shops would not even open. If they had opened, we might have been able to get the children water. That would have been a start, water. But they didn’t open ... “, her once confident voice trailed off. Her shoulders slumped, her facial muscles lost their usual vibrancy. Her eyes glazed over.

A bloodied leg dangled from the end of the pickup truck next to her, still encased in Nikes with the tag ‘Saigon’, a smeared beach towel emblazoned with a board-rider and ‘ Cap Haitien’ wrapped around its crushed head. She no longer noticed the stench in the air, the buzzing of flies.

Her brow fractured, “The wall still topples. I close my eyes and it topples again!” She stops mid sentence.

Monday, January 18, 2010

18. Try not to be obvious

Harry hesitated as the pair brushed past him heading for the corner with Underwood Street.

Hang on a tick, let’s have a look at this menu, Amz.

But, I don’t want just any old place, Harry, you promised somewhere special!

Shh ... keep it low, and don’t turn around too quick. Just get a gander at those two sorts down the alley. Try not to be obvious! ... Geez, Amz.

Aimee pivoted, catching the full force of a withering stare from a lanky, brunette, right put out, at the end of her tether, and itching to rumble.

Soo ... who you lookin’ at? Bloody toffee-noses, think youse own the world. Come down here and I’ll give ya what for.

Aimee retreated in embarrassment and confusion, not wanting nor knowing how to deal with confrontation. Harry winked,blew the banshee an index-finger kiss, and, chuckling, escorted Aimee into the cramped cafe.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

17. Let's do breakfast

Geez, look at that, all fellas - on a Sunday morning before eight!

Huh. I read the other day that the most rapidly growing household demographic is single and male and over 50. Maybe they come down here for the company.

And for someone to cook for them ...

Well, maybe there is some truth to that. But, it is also just a cynical, throwaway line. Go on, admit it.

Hah! Never ...

You know, I reckon that if society keeps evolving as it is, the concept of a house will alter. We will need blocks of dormitories, motels – a double bed, a bathroom, and a jug. Human society is evolving into a bee hive. Males are courted until they produce offspring and then they are put out to pasture because they are more trouble than they are worth.

Get out of here! What the hell are you on about?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

16. A world of their own

The sound wafts across the still waters gathering intruders into a private world. It bounces as an accompaniment to a shared joy, friends gathered together in a strange land, for the start of a new journey. The couple gathered in a loving embrace before being released dove-like into the stilled air.

A flitting vision in white, supping the nectar opened in supplication from the hands of her chosen few. Silent laughter peals across the glade as a head is thrown back with delight. The throng mills and sashays in continual slow motion, a dance of happiness and sharing between people in a quiet place, a place for contemplation rather than intrusion.

I maintain the line between us as I walk, me on my side, they on theirs. Privacy has a readily shattered fragility. The natural ease of the unaware records a spontaneous beauty, that being furtively obtained, seeks to intensify.

Friday, January 15, 2010

15. The way of the Triffetts

Journey up into the central highlands of Tasmania, take the Maryborough turn off the Lyell Highway, veer left cresting the ridge where Big Jim Lake hogs the horizon, then head in the general direction of Pine Tier Lagoon and, excepting for breakdowns and consequent misadventures, Bronte Park, home to bizarre doings, will manifest from the mist. Suspend all city sensibilities upon entering the town limits.

Cutting an imposing figure, you may luck upon clan matriarch Ellen Hazel, glaring suspiciously into the spotlight, her fine head of hair, ablaze with friction, streaming into the open light. Her boys were just a few ridges away down in Half Moon Marsh, the word having already been relayed to cousins, large lads with overgrown beards and ponytails, from Collinsvale to Glenlusk. She knew how to muster support. She also knew that something had to be done, and where that good-for-nothing Mick kept the crossbow.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

14. Doing a run

The route was perfect, uphill all the way, but circuitous and secluded.

Kings Lane scurried between Riley and Thompson Streets. Honens’ Stairs was the final heft up from Kings Lane to Bourke Street, across this and through the narrowest part of the alley and you were hidden in behind the northern rampart of Darlinghurst Gaol. Dingy during the day, the rat runners diced with death with each evening sortie along Kings Lane. The ladies of the night were the least of their worries, they were all screech and too full of liquor to be a danger. No, it was the young ‘uns milling beside the high sandstone wall facing the grey hospital workings. Once they twigged to the illicit trade between the soldiers in the park barracks and the inmates at Darlinghurst, the young ‘uns wanted in.

However, the coppers from the Taylor Square nick, caught a whiff early on.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

13. Moving out

But he doesn't even listen. I don't have to finish sentences anymore because he's already made up his mind. Pure prejudice. I don't bother tellin’ him anymore what actually happened. Just cut straight to what he wants to hear. Don't even think of it as lying just gettin’ to the crux as quick as possible, before the criticism starts.

Well, why don’t ...

No matter what I do, it’s never good enough. How the hell does he know what’s good enough? He never got past the Intermediate! He comes out with all this gobbledygook about how far I can go, how much talent I have, and how I am wasting it. Wasting what he slaved his guts out to provide for me. The entire lecture, I can just about give it to you verbatim.

Yeah, I know my ...

I reckon what it’s about is choice, my choice, not his.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

12. The road from Damascus

She was oblivious to the passers-by, to the dappled sunlight, to the gathering afternoon. Hunched forward, she swayed imperceptibly to the rhythm of her internalised metronome. In generations that went before, the physical defrocking symbolised the spiritual defrocking that had been admitted. But, what hairshirt now lay before her? What rough beast slouched beside her? Would there was a scarlet letter to pin to her garment. D for Denier.

As much as she told herself no-one was looking, that no-one knew, she was unconvinced. She knew! It oozed out of every pore, it drowned innocence. All that was required was to stand, and put one foot after the other. That was it. One after the other. But which first? And how many steps? And then what? Left or right. Fast or slow. North. South. East. West.

She had thought her love would last forever. With faith gone, sensibility remained - alone.

Monday, January 11, 2010

11. Simply messing about

Using his elbow to keep the tiller heading the ferry in the necessary direction, Len stuck a Tally-ho to the saliva on his cracked bottom lip. Being used to being busy, what city slickers referred to as multitasking, he continued his chat with the deck hand about the number of cartons to offload at Little Wobbly, as he shook the ready rubbed from the red Drum tin into the crook of his palm, caressing it into shape with the seat of his thumb and his index finger. Upending the shaped tabac onto the moistened paper now beside the tiller, he twizzled the paper until satisfied, rolled, licked, sealed and drooped it out the corner of his mouth. Reaching for the Redheads by feel, he slashed the head against the phosphorous, lit the fag, and dragged deep.

He squinted as the ferry churned into the glare. On course, and all fine.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

10. The journey

The call came in the dark of the night. With three children one answers the phone, no matter the time. Tomorrow, this rush of energy in response, will be paid for, bones will ache and muscles will refuse to respond. Apparent calm reigns now, but externally only, as the blood pressure increases and the heart thumps in its cavity.

This is not the first rude awakening. That was forty year ago now, the call coming to the shop in the middle of a very nice sale of the latest Frigidaire (“better than ever before”). All followed by a pathetic journey to Holdsworthy, and the tugging of the forelock to Fairhall - bitter chipping away at the concept of self as a pillar of the establishment.

Would parenting never cease? Would this journey ever end? But to end might be more than the heavy heart can bear, and continuation mere blessing.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

9. White man's midden

Sydney Exhibition Centre and Centrepoint Tower, from the William Henry Street Bridge
What would Arthur and his sailors make of this? Where are the bony fingers of ridge easing on down to join the water in ragged bays, ridges layered with eucalypts and rocky outcrops, housing mythical animals, with dark rounded eyes peering from web-encrusted caves. Where is the stream, their precious water source?

All of it hidden deep within the layers of lives lived. Layers of sandstone picked and blasted, layers of trees felled and burned, layers of mud squelched, faeces deposited and waters fouled. Layers deposited as the lean-to gave way to the daub and wattle, gave way to the terrace, gave way to the high-rise.

Lives lived and lives ended and deposited beneath Arthur’s landing. The marrow leaching from the bones in the Devonshire Street graveyard fertilise the bony finger of ridge, and feed other Arthurs as they march over the precious stream encased within this white man’s midden.

Friday, January 8, 2010

8. The roar of the crowd

Circus Oz tents erected in Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour for the 2010 Sydney Festival season

From the moment they alighted to Platform 22 at Central, the die was cast. The hole in Dave’s pocket was becoming deep enough to drown in. He usually eased this with a light ale or three, but today he was stone cold sober. His face had that granite foreboding recognisable when a life was in free-fall.

They were now waiting in the queue, with Raelene stunning as usual in the flimsy polyester print her mother created for her last summer, her peroxided hair whispy in the breeze and her Ed Hardy flip-flops looking like a million bucks.

He loved those kids, he really did. But all he had was an apprentice sparky’s wage. The back row of the circus alone was over $100, the train $22 and you could betcha there would be hot-dogs and cokes and popcorn as the afternoon wore on. So, where was the rent coming from?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

7. Catching up

"But why should I go? I've already had way much caffeine today." He was grumpy from the previous night. He flounced into the next room, scrunching his slippers in his haste. She found him bent over the sofa, reading the paper from the floor. A partly drunk espresso formed a ring in the mug beside him.

“Just bring the Herald with you and join in when you wish”, anything to break the mood. Robert got like this every-so-often; precious, bordering on precocious. He grunted, running one hand mindlessly through his hair and incessantly drumming the fingers of the other on the arm rest.

As they swung into Hargreave Street they could see Miffy sniffing around, waiting for the inevitable scraps. They were a good bunch of friends. Not to live with: Sonia was too brittle, and Will too full of his own importance. But breakfast most Sundays was eminently doable.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

6. Journeyman

Leading with my chin, I ventured, “What a place to spend Eternity!” Spread out before us was nature at its most triumphant. Breakers from the Pacific hustled upon the rocks below, as the weak sun struggled to disperse the banks of cloud encroaching the Sydney basin from the south-west.

The twinkle in those genial eyes deepened. He was balanced on the edge of the bench , sweating profusely from that cherubic Buddha-like body. Catching his breath, he responded, “That is just the body, the vessel for this journey”. He came to this land from Vietnam nearly forty years ago, first to Melbourne, then Armidale, before perching on this eastern rim of the city.

The Buddhist philosophy tumbled out of him (“Our life force has departed so it does not matter where the body rests”) as we paid homage to the warmth of the sun with the energy of our interaction.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

5. Out the back

The gate would not take much more of this. Slap. Slap. Slam. The near naked form, chortling from deep within, rocketed out the gate, onto the bicycle, down Myrtle Lane, executed a massive skid round the crimson bougainvillea at the corner with Olive Street and disappeared from sight - but not from hearing.

Hotly in pursuit, came two smaller human forms, naked save for navy full-briefs, fawn ankle socks encased in sad-grey Dunlops and the obligatory backwards cap emblazoned with a tricolour Rooster. Tears, more of frustration than anger, brimmed and spilt as they cried for him to wait up.

The landscape of Myrtle Lane had changed little since first it serviced the terraces of the mercantile class. Rough hewn bush rock had made way for bitumen, open gutter-drains for connection to the subterranean terracotta network, and, the choko vine and passionfruit vine were now overwhelmed by wisteria and bougainvillea.

Monday, January 4, 2010

4. Nuts and bolts

Cleveland Street, Surry Hills, opposite the SH Shopping Centre
Scrubbed beyond moisture, the grey tongue-and-groove boards panelled the dingy room, the solitary light falling through the grimy louvre window high to the rear. Burnished rosewood cabinets lined each wall, while across the rear stretched banks of gun-metal-grey shelving overflowing with ladders and trestles, hinges, and angle irons.

Broaching forty, Dickie Harris was one of the unfortunates on whom fate bestowed a baby face. His soft pink flesh reinforced the apparent immaturity, as did the rose-bud flush that caroused his face when social inadequacy called. However, Dickie was master of all he surveyed on the shop floor.

Set into the rear of each cabinet were banks of drawers. Dickie eased each drawer over its felt runner and checked that screws lay beside screws, slotted with slotted and Phillips Head with Phillips Head, each to his own kind, before moving to the next drawer. In Dickie’s domain, everything had a place.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

3. Seeing is not perceiving

Chandeliers, New South Head Road, Edgecliff

The image is a blur that sways into and out of focus
While my eye dances to the mesmerising rhythm
Of its extended lens, endeavouring to transmit
Data to my addled brain to discern
The actual from the pretend, the real from the reflected .
To be able to fully see, sight becomes inadequate
My brain requires powers of thought to aid perception.

But to which facet do I direct my eye, and seeing such confusion
Is the flash of white brilliance sufficient to discriminate
The reflected image from the original, or
Does light in all its colours and minute rays
Deceive my sight and preclude my brain
From knowing its full form.
My mind from perceiving its true nature?

Are there scrambled images
That cannot be known through sight alone?
Arrayed hieroglyphs that defeat our eyes
Demanding more perception than mere sight?
Is a picture worth a thousand words?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2. Preoccupied

Most people paid him no heed. He was just one of many taking the clean air, the salt waters, early one morning between Christmas and New Year. The dog-end of the year; marrow-less for the lonely, the depressed, and those living under sentence. He was promenading not on the friable sands that splint the shins, yet neither on the smooth compact sands where the foam hisses.

Attired from the men’s aisle of Target, gaunt and swathed, with no concessions made for place: t-shirt and slacks rather than swimmers, sneakers rather than thongs, the reversed cane fitting awkwardly into the palm of his hand. The fawn slacks hanging from gaunt buttocks.

The sun ever-rising in front and the shadow of nimbus painting the cloud behind, he stepped in a measured manner until, without so much as a by-your-leave, clumsily about-faced and returned – somewhere.

He moved in the no-man’s-land of the preoccupied.

Friday, January 1, 2010

1. Through the years

Where did those years go? That carefree young man confronted by a headstrong gal with a twinkle in her eye in the summer of '60. Pig Iron Bob ruling in a benign dictatorship at home. Camelot in its infancy across the waters. Sputniks whizzing overhead. Information coming in telegrams, not electrical impulses. My, how time passes.

Where did those years go? They were svelte of figure, horizons stretching into the mists. Emboldened by dreams and aspirations. Planning the great European coming-of-age holiday before taking up a job offer with that solid establishment firm in Bridge Street. Negotiating a favourable price for a dilapidated Californian bungalow set back from the Rose Bay waterfront, with the help of the folks. Time passes.

Grandchildren and weary children bluster through a house littered with e-gadgets bringing love and decibels. All is now quiet and calm. So, here they go blundering into another year. Together.