Saturday, 3 November 2012 - 4:48pm

Error message

  • Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in _menu_load_objects() (line 579 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/
  • Deprecated function: implode(): Passing glue string after array is deprecated. Swap the parameters in drupal_get_feeds() (line 394 of /var/www/drupal-7.x/includes/
Published by Matthew Davidson on Sat, 03/11/2012 - 4:48pm in

It was early 1992, and the most important issue in the world was the recent sacking of charismatic London Irish punk icon Shane MacGowan by his band, the Pogues. Actually, in the grand scheme of things, this was probably one of the more insignificant events, but it was what Tim Curlis chose to obsess about in order to keep other, less comfortable thoughts at bay. On his northbound country train he pored through the NME, enthusiastically imbibing the celebration of the limitless artistic potential of raggle-taggle and Madchester, and cursing pale, lanky, earnest wall-of-distortion shoe-gazers and Fucking Nick Kent, with a savage determination to ignore the real personal significance of this day.

As the view from his window changed from the sandstone and eucalyptus of the Sydney basin to the hills of the Hunter Valley - as rolling and green as hills come - he distracted himself further with a sausage roll from the dining car and some Interesting Facts from the New Scientist magazine purchased at Central station that morning. Apparently dogs may avoid lung cancer from passive smoking due to the remarkably effective air filtration bestowed by their long snouts. Seems only fair. Hard luck for the Pekingese, though.

The train swung from side to side in long, lazy arcs around the aforementioned hills until at last it appeared to tire of such exuberant frivolity, and settled down to the serious business of plowing straight through the swamps and occasional granite cutting that signalled it's entry to the north coast of New South Wales. By this time Tim had consumed a curried egg sandwich, a packet of chips and another sausage roll. He'd read a handful of pages of each of three books and a couple of magazines. He'd mused about the possible evolutionary advantages of asexual reproduction. He'd noticed that all the trees in the fields looked as though they'd been uniformly trimmed from underneath by some very sophisticated machinery to exactly the maximum height attainable by the mouths of the animals grazing there. He'd raised and lowered his footrest countless times and ultimately judged it to be of dubious utility. He'd rummaged through the dozen or so audio cassettes in his satchel, selected one, used a biro to wind the spools tight so as not to have the machine mangle the tape and, thus prepared, he fed it to his walkman, which consumed it with a satisfying snap.

Billy Connolly once ventured that to the Queen, the world must smell like fresh paint. To Tim Curlis, the world sounded like tape hiss. He'd not set foot outdoors without a personal stereo since 1983. It was perhaps the most valuable tool in his kit of techniques for avoiding thinking unwelcome thoughts. On this occasion however, it backfired. A particularly malicious inner demon reminded him that the LP dubbed onto this casette was currently sitting in a cardboard box in the garage of Serious Girlfriend Number Two.

It must have been that same demon who then made him realise that, at the age of 25, with an extensive record collection, he had never personally owned a record player. His parents owned a record player; they were also currently in possession of the majority of his record collection, as well as a sizeable number of books, periodicals, and VHS tapes, all stored in cardboard boxes in the family's former outside lavatory/laundry (turned into a storage shed when the sewer was connected and indoor plumbing became de rigeur for the 1970s householder).

Serious Girlfriend Number One and Serious Girlfriend Number Two also owned record players, and both had likewise been enlisted as part-archivists of the Curlis Collection as a de-facto condition of release from Serious Girlfriend status.

And this morning Tim left a note on the kitchen bench of Serious Girlfriend Number Three, another fine, upstanding, record-player-owning citizen, asking if it would be alright if he came back at some indeterminate point in the future to pick up a few things he'd left in the spare room; in cardboard boxes. There was of course no way for her to answer in the negative. What mattered to him at the time was that he was taking a calculated risk over the survival of priceless cultural assets accumulated during the course of Serious Relationship Three. She could throw them out in a fit of pique, though it was more likely she wouldn't.

What mattered to him now, however briefly, was that all the evidence pointed towards his being a serial parasite, leaving behind cardboard boxes as a mosquito leaves behind red welts after moving onto the next host. This most unwelcome of unwelcome thoughts assaulted his sense of himself as the quintessential rational human. He does not behave unjustly; only in error. He is not moved, nor does he move others, by emotion. To fracture this bedrock is to allow that, perhaps, he was just a thoughtless, selfish little shit.

"Tailors Creek, next stop."

Hallelujah! Thoughts must now be directed to getting self, satchel, big bag of clothes, other big bag of clothes, off the train, then onto the bus to Port Dalston and into new digs before nightfall.