There is NO WAY IN HELL I’m staying with Dad anymore! How can a mature, sophisticated, scholarly, political woman spend her life embarrassingly living with her conservative father? He doesn’t want me anyway. Told me to go back to Brisbane until I stopped being a communist. I showed him. Told him Jesus was an anarchist.
“But this was Queensland. And wherever three or four were gathered together in one spot, it was probably against the law.” (327)
Back to Brisbane again. Just post-Fitzgerald. The place that uni kids and a radio station embraced rebellion. A swampie sneering without fear of arrest in a recently “cleaned” corrupt police state of several decades.
“The crowd, a gathering of the tribes. Dreaded folk, Mohicans, trad punks and goths mingled with indie kids, suburban surfies, skate boys, old hippies and ravers.” (316)
Who the hell chooses to live in T’bar, anyway? No interest in sports or farming? There is a vast array of narcotics and awesome views to choose from! See that guy? He’s a speed dealer. See him. I went to school with him. His freedom was in Sydney getting fucked up on heroin and watching his flatmate die. I drive him and her to the methadone clinic once a week. Him? Went to school with his brother. In jail now when he blew up his back yard meth shed. Them? They’re dead. Those girls? They are from the Catholic School down the road from the Angels Trumpets that killed their classmates.
So what to do in a city with first hand view of the results of illegal drugs? A city still wary of nightclubs. A group of youth used to hiding. Get a car and get the hell out.
“We split into three groups for our trip to Surfers. Elroy took the T-Bird and Jabba in his badly scorched but still functional milk van, Olufsen in the back. Stacey drove myself, Missy and Taylor in the cab. (Taylor was incapable of controlling a vehicle.) And Flinthart ferried down Leonard, Gay Phil and the Decoy in his old purple Charger.” (350)
I bought a car and piled my friends into it. We drove and drove. Out west to watch a meteor shower; east to sleep on the beach. All the way to Sydney and back.To the all night service station to buy snacks.
No money. Living in a house with a hole in the floor requiring a jump and no back wall, but chess games and good conversation until the small hours.
“The house was a nice enough dump, a slumping, tired old Queenslander with all of the verandahs walled in for extra bedrooms and there were…let’s see, ten of us living there to begin with.” (2)
Schemes failed and pulled off. Swimming in the park fountain on a hot night. Playing tennis at the local “psychiatric hospital” and telling Victorianesque horror stories about the supposed criminal inmates.
“Police are still investigating the bizarre death of a man in Red Hill earlier today…The room erupted into a raucous mix of cheers and whistles and disgusted shouts as the station cut to background vision of two giant tanks of compressed air being carried away from the scene by detectives.” (329)
My life in a rural town sans drugs was rubber stamped by a book riddled with them. In The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco by John Birmingham, I read about events I knew from going to university in Brisbane and a lifestyle I lived out bored in a country town. My first experience with the glorious gonzos.
Never before had I realised that books could tell stories about uni students. Stories that were both truth and lies. Lies enough to make the truth seem like an adventure and truth enough to deny the lies exist. I heard the stories. Believed them. Retold them with embellishments. That was sharehouse living.
“He was arrested for trying to cash cheques he had written in disappearing ink. He thought they would turn blank by the time the bank got them. But he was foolish with the amphetamines then. He used cheques pre-printed with his own name and account number on them.” (127)
Even better, I recognised nearly every scene. I laughed hard at the “string vest guy” who lived up the road in the “Marxist sharehouse”. He sold the Socialist Alliance Magazine at QUT, I’m sure. I understood cleaning your house madly with the naive belief in returning bond money. I knew the crazy all night parties that became legends spoken about in hushed tones. Everything done with the motivating fear of getting found out and commitment to rebellion.
This is the second book in my blog series on the books which have made me who I am.