Wednesday, 28 March 2007


Mr Patrick Williams, who is head of a top bank and is quietly trying to find a reliable foreign partner to help him steal fifteen million British Pounds from the heirs of poor Gerald Stone (Gerry fell off a cliff, I am told...but what if he was pushed? Or maybe he just rolled) addressed me thus: wasn't that nice of him?

More people should follow his fine example, especially on the internet where it is so very easy to reveal yourself as a complete arse. What we need is a great big melting pot, etc.

I am presently enjoying my teaching a great deal. The usual administrative catastrophes and crises apply, but it's very easy not to care too much just now. It's that golden honeymoon period before either the students or I have to face up to their essays and we are very much liking just reading interesting books and discussing them. My new first-year class has a lot of articulate, clever and experienced people in it. They quite liked Mansfield Park and were well able to take it in the proper spirit. And the 2/3 people were valiant with The Sound and the Fury.

Since I last posted we have put up curtains in the bedroom (every time I look at them I think of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, cripes that had better wear off soon) and wallpapered a different wall in a different room (with different wallpaper). It looks goddamn brilliant. Again, take note of the fact that it is voluntary wallpaper, especially if you're planning on coming over for a visit. If I knew where my copy of The Australian Ugliness has landed I would like to reread the discussion in it of what Robin Boyd sees as the great Australian aesthetic blight, Featurism. I am very fond of Features myself (my thesis is stuffed with them), and I think if you can get enough together in the one environment they cancel each other out. Another good technique is installing features which themselves have features.

On the other hand, all the home improvementing is getting fairly monotonous. What to do instead? I am writing a lot and reading a lot, in particular catching up on recent criticism of the texts I'm teaching. Last Thursday night I accidentally watched a show on the ABC called 'The Obsessive-Compulsive House.' As the name suggests this was a kind of hybrid constructed out of documentaries about people living with horrible and fascinating impediments and reality tv shows where people are thrown together and the cameras record what happens. It could easily have been the very worst kind of exploitation but the premise is perhaps not as cheaply sensational as you'd think: getting them together (there were only three obssessive compulsives) seems to have helped each one strongly believe in the possibility of life without the obsession. One woman is so petrified of getting glitter on her that she hasn't touched another person for three years, another washes compulsively, and the man can't be near any writing materials as he's afraid he might write a false confession for a crime he didn't commit. The really frightening thing is the thinness and flimsiness of the line between this sort of existence and the kinds of habits supposedly healthy people get dependent on.


M-H said...

I found the program frightening for this reason also. When hanging out clothes I like to have all the pegs on a garment/sheet/towel colour-matched. Why? I don't know. I don't think I'm afraid of *not* doing it, but I go to some length to ensure that it happens. I don't know why.

sophie said...

I would like to see pictures of the wallpaper please.

elsewhere said...

Perhaps you could develop a literary approach to house decorating and furnish each room according to a different phase of Austn lit or maybe just a different novel -- the Aunt's Story living room, the Don's Party rumpus room, the My Brother Jack bar, etc. (I remember when the inclusion of a Spanish-style bar was a popular touch in suburban houses.)
But I'm not sure how Monty Python would fit in with this.

lucy tartan said...

All right then, wallpaper photographs forthcoming.

El, why didn't you suggest that before? It's too late now! the Tax Inspector basement, the Gould's Book of Fish punishment room, Seven Little Australians woodshed, The Watcher on the Cast Iron Balcony balcony, etc. I reckon there would be many worthy contenders for the bar. The Jeriderie Letter Bar?

I'm looking forward to seeing the next episode tonight M-H. And I really hope it's not as disastrous as the previews made it appear.

kate said...

I didn't watch that show (I've lived with enough crazy housemates in real life) but a friend did, she's a music therapist and was appalled at the treatment. They spent one week with people who've been sick for years, and they moved too quickly for them to have sustainable recoveries.

m-h my grandfather also insisted on matching pegs, but I think it was more to do with being a clever person looking for entertainment when life was boring & ugly. A quiet game with himself, if you will.

Francis Xavier Holden said...

If you can get paid for it - it isn't OCD.

lucy tartan said...

That's the spirit.

Mindy said...

I too sometimes match pegs, to make the monotony of hanging out the washing more fun. Or I try to hang out what's left in the basket with the all one colour pegs. It beats worrying about what the 4yr old is doing to the baby (unless there is screaming, then I run). (to the kids, not away)

David said...

I have experimented in the past with sectioning off each part of the hills hoist into a different colour. Luckily there are only four colours in the world. But I had not considered the pegs, and now of course will.

GoAwayPlease said...

oh the peg thing!
such a relief to read above comments.
I avoided the TV program specifically because I did not want to be faced with some really bad view of The Peg Thing.

and yes Miss Lucy, it is a fine line ... and most activities are manifestations of a fear of one type or another:
Our Nic makes 3 films a year = fear;
chicks who wear 'full slap' = fear;
rich guys who go on waiting lists for new car models = fear;
vandals who trash stuff = fear;
storming Target for Stella's new crap = fear; etc etc.

'Featurism' is cool though. he must have been drawing on the Boyd book when Barry/Edna (at Tears Before Bedtime) cajoled an audience member into revealing the colour (white) of EVERYTHING in their bathroom, and then said "and what colour is your sinkplug?"
when they said "black", B/E shreiked at the theatre " A FEATURE PLUG POSSUMS!"

and we all clutched our tummies from laughing ourselves mad.

lucy tartan said...

That is a good one Brownie.

I've enjoyed reading various people's reactions to the Stella McCartney Target thing. And sorry to say it, but I've seen three different women on the street wearing an apricot silk shirt from that batch, and all I thought was "she got her shirt from Target and paid seventy dollars for it, and it looks like the maternity dress from a bank's uniform."

GoAwayPlease said...

I think she is a crap 'designer' as well as a sulky looking sook.

Like her father. nasty piece of work with that 'lovely young Beatle' false image.
I bought a book today - A Big Life - and Jenny Kee, while describing an after-gig Beatles evening in Sydney 1964 shows Paul in a very ugly light.
Team Heather.

Zoe said...

Cool featurism benefits from some restraint. I have the misfortune to live in a rented house where every wall in the main living area is a feature wall. This is too many features.

love.boxes said...

Everyone in my family is a bit OCD or CDO.. we like it alphabetized. ;) Anyway, I think most people, when you get to know them, have their little twitches, it's just if they can be managable and if you can still function as a normal person and be kind, good and productive.

I studied lit. in college and how I would have loved to sit in on a discussion of Mansfield Park. I read, or I should say I re-read a little Jane every year. She's my fave. :)

love.boxes said...

Fun post. I meant to say that and then forgot to. :)

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