Tuesday, September 1, 2009


New challenges, new disciplines.

Change is never easy, but it is always welcome. I find myself in the odd situation, at age 57, of starting a completely new career. I said to Jenny a couple of weeks ago that I really didn't want to write another advertisement in my life: that what I had said inmy interview for the job at the Library was right. I told them that I'd more or less slipped into the business by accident, and soon found myself trapped by it. The fact that I was good at what I did was, I suppose, a benefit for my clients and my various employers. But I simply have no heart for the business any more. In fact, I have become hyper-critical of its products.

AN ASIDE: What in the hell were GJ Gardner Homes thinking when they got the shaven-headed 55-year-old-going-on-12 gay scamp to work as their co-huckster? It wouldn't be so bad if he - or the talent-free zone they have put beside him - was funny. He's not, she's not, they're not. And they don't seem to be able to find an all-Kiwi couple who've built a Gardner home, either. They're either from the RSA or the USA.

Back on topic, now. I'm nervous. I'll be stepping into a new environment, learning an entirely new job, and be expected to perform from day one. Well, I'll expect that: they probably won't.

But damn it all - I'm excited, too. The job's what I want. Working with books: check. Working with book-loving people: check. Talking to people about books: check. All I have to do is learn new stuff, and keep on learning new stuff. And if there's one thing I've always striven to do, no matter where I've been,or who I've been with - I have always tried to learn new stuff. That's why our Pub Quiz team worked so well. That, and the fact that the ever-glorious Fiona Murray filled in the gaps in my knowledge. She could Pub Quiz for the nation, that woman.

AN OTHER ASIDE: INTERESTING BITS. There are about 73 TV commercials on air that are using this vaguely irritating phrase. Guess what, folks? It was mildly amusing, and almost ane, the first time it was used. The second commercial to use it was inane. The bloody breakfast cereal that's pounding my forebrain with "interesting bits" at the moment is driving me into a homicidal rage. It weren't my fault I slaughtered my neighbours, yer onner. It were that bloody TV commercial's interesting bits....

So, back to discipline. I'll need it, over the next few weeks. New job to learn, new blogs to write. I'll be posting my blogs at a different time in the future: at some time in the New Zealand evening. This post, written and put up on Tuesday evening, is going to be counted as tomorrow's... see you Thursday evening.

Kia kaha, fine and gentle folks.

LISTENING TO: Weezer, "Red Album". Nice work.

READING: Jim DeFelice,"Leopards Kill". Hmmm. Don't know yet.

TODAY'S WORD: Tomorrow. It all starts then... on the second day of Spring.


Henry’s bed is a lake of pain. Not, you understand, from the brain tumour. From the lung cancer, which had, by now metastasised through his body. His every nerve dried out for relief, and the small amount of morphine his sneaky wife and sneaky doctor were sneaking into his veins couldn’t cope.
“I am here, mein friend.”
“Can I ask you to stand by Adam for me? Just don’t teach him to smoke those cigars of yours.”
“So, now you wish conditions? It seems to me that you are in no position to bargain.”
“Good on you, mate.”
And Wolf was blessed.
Q: It’ll be soon, I think, Mary.
A: Yes. It’ll be soon.
Henry has been taken from the hospital to the Ugglesworth Hospice. He has a room to himself, and Mary sleeps on a spare bed beside him. Their visitor is with them constantly now, asking his questions, demanding they find their own answers. They both know the voice, they both know the insistence.
“Henry, how are you?”
“Box of fluffy ducks, John, box of birds.”
“Yeah, sorry. Dumb question. Look, there’s something I’ve got to tell you.”
“Don’t tell me you’ve pranged your car again.”
“No, mate. No. Listen - I’m in love.”
“Good on you, brother. Who’s the lucky man?”
Silence. Then: “You know?”
“One of my very best friends was gay, John. It never stopped me loving him. Mary and I have always suspected that you were, but it was something you had to come to terms with.”
“We’re talking about marriage. Well, Civil Union.”
“I only hope you’ll be as happy as I always have been, John-John. Can you adopt? You’d make a great Dad.”
“His name’s Greg.”
“Greg Trelawney?”
“You know him?”
“Not well. But he’s a good person, John.”
Then Henry slept again.
Q: Henry?
A: I’m asleep. Can’t you leave me alone?
Q: Spot’s cool with you.
A: Thanks.
Mary has lost weight. She’s haggard and tired, and Asdam’s worried about her health. Joe Know takes her from Henry’s room, and speaks to her. She flares up and slaps at him, once twice bastard it’s all your fault. And she weeps and sobs, and Adam takes her away for an hour, but she only picks at the food he puts in front of her.
“I can’t do this, Mum. I can’t watch you die too.” And he walks away from her, tears streaking his face.
Q: Mary.
A: Leave me alone, just leave me alone!
The Sybling and Micah are at Henry’s bedside. She is dressed in a wild Hawaiian shirt, and bright yellow slacks. In her shirt pocket is a twisted cheroot, and in her mind is the hug that Wolf gave her.
“Hey, bro’,” says Micah. “Sybil and I are going to do our big trip too.”
“Hope I’m not holding you up,” says Henry, with a grin. “If you want to play cowboy, give my friend Walter Cochrane a call.”
“You reckon he’ll teach me how to fire a six-shooter?” asks Sybil.
“And look at you, Sis! What’s up? You’ve even had a hairdo.”
Sybil’s hair is now an even one centimetre long.
“I guess we’ve learned there’s never enough time,” she confesses.
“Bit of a tyrant, that time, eh.”
Q: How’s the pain?
A: You know something? It’s so intense now I can’t even feel it.
Q: That happens.
A: Wish you could have arranged for it to happen sooner.
Mary is shocked by Adam’s behaviour. And she knows that he’s right. She picks up the giant milkshake, and drinks it, and walks back to the hospice. Adam’s waiting there, in the foyer. She crosses the floor to him, and hugs him.
“Sorry, sweetheart.”
“S’orright, Mum.”
Mary, Adam, and Charlie are with Henry. It’s early evening, and Henry’s lying quietly, apparently asleep. He’s dreadfully thin, having lost at least half his body weight. Mary tells Adam and Charlie about the visitor, and they both come to believe that she’s cracked. But Henry surprises them by speaking up. “She’s right. I don’t know whether we’re sharing some kind of spiritual thing, but I doubt it. I think we’re just asking ourselves if our life together’s been worth while. Whether we’ve done anything right.”
“Yes,’ whispers Charlie. “Yes, it has. And yes. You have.”
And, in room twenty-three, Henry is surprised that the pain has left him, and then, just for the hell of it, and because he can, he stops breathing.
Q: ?
A: !

1 comment:

  1. Bwahhaaaaaaawhaaaaaawhawhawhaw! Tears in eyes! That bastard! I did grow to love him... and even though it's perfect, a gorgeous way to end, I am sad.
    Well done, Allan. Henry's quite a bit of you really, and given the scare of last week, I can't help picturing you as Henry (although you obviously haven't lost half your body weight - only a wee bit of it). And I just wanna cry! But I'm still smiling, which is the best way to be crying.
    Bloody marvelous, Allan. Hooray Henry.