Wednesday, 22 February 2017


There is a lot of scope for imagination in some aspects of my job. This week I am working on developing an education program for lower primary school kids. It’s about the everyday lives of Melbourne children during the second world war. I collected stories from people who were there, did a lot of research, now I’m having fun turning memories of rationing and blackouts and air raid preparations into things that seven and eight year olds who visit us on school trips can actually do, as opposed to be told about, to come to grips with the concepts of wartime and of what it means to talk about something having happened 75 years ago. (I took an executive decision to leave out the many stories I was told about what mothers were ready to do to their children and themselves if/when the Japanese invaded, along with some heartbreaking stories about poverty, deprivation, and rotten, ruined family dynamics.) 

This is the kind of work I love doing. But it was doing my head in today. I’m kind of tired this week, people have been really hard to make sense of (people including myself, but that’s the same as usual - but also including my doctor who I paranoidly suspect might reading my blog and entertaining some very strange notions that she isn’t telling me about - look, if I ever start to darkly hint that I think Morrissey is reading my blog, just put me in the van please) and after a couple of hours of walking through various options for a sort of game that I can dimly envisage where kids pretend to dig an air raid trench outside in the gardens, I began to be a bit puzzled myself about the relationship between past and present, which according to the Victorian Curriculum for History I should have mastered in years 3-4.

So in the interests of comprehending the relationship between past and present I am going to revisit a meme from 2006. Am I different? Am I older or younger, or have I stayed exactly the same age? Like almost everything else in the world, have I become indefinably yet undeniably worse?

1. What shirt are you wearing?

I am wearing a shirt I made myself at last year’s Labour Day weekend Craft Camp. It is almost the perfect shirt. Fine ecru cotton voile with navy polka dots, steel grey buttons, flat-felled and french seams, great collar, excellent fit. I had a great run at that craft camp and this was the last thing I made. Unfortunately I think I got complacent, because I did one of those epic fuckups that only people who sew will be able to properly appreciate. The fabric is so fine that the print looks the same from both sides, and I made up one sleeve right side out and the other sleeve wrong side out. What this means is the sleeve placket is in the right place on my right arm, but on my left arm it’s on the top of the wrist rather than underneath. It looks, and is, incredibly spaz. I tell myself it’s like some sort of deconstruction-inspired fashion gesture a la the Antwerp Six, but it’s actually just spaz. Still, I'm wearing it. Embracing the inner loser, wearing her on my sleeve!

The other things I am wearing are also home made. Grey tropical wool trousers from this pattern, by a Melbourne pattern maker: I have a hate/love relationship with this pattern, which I’ve made at least eight different versions of. It’s one of the worst-drafted patterns I’ve ever had the misery of working with, and the fly front as drafted is an unmitigated disaster. But the overall shape is amazing. I always feel like I might possibly be David Bowie in these pants, which, let me tell you, is a pretty alright feeling to get from pants. I’m going to make two more pairs at the next craft camp. 

It’s cold in some parts of the building and for most of the day I was also wearing the 1940s jacket from this reprinted Vogue set, which I made up, in muted bottle green wool faille, around about the last time I did this meme. On the feet, khaki socks and white oxfords. Plus imitation horn glasses, lightning-bolt earrings and a red badge that says SERIOUSLY. I think I have made some pretty awesome fashion choices today, and not at all like a person who knew she was going to be spending the day playing with Melbourne in the forties.

2. Name the brand of your shoes you're currently wearing?

Jeffrey Campbell

3. Bright or Dark Room?

Dark, up to a point. Well, depends what for I suppose. Dark for bed, dark for sitting in silence, bright for examining one’s flaws or trying to sew something that is black.

4. What do you think about the last person who took this survey?

That was past life me. I think she was doing the best she could, mostly. I don’t blame her for being a bit of a dick. But she probably could have gotten her shit together a bit sooner, I think.

5. Where is your nearest 7-11?

The 7-11 on the corner of Glenlyn Road and Nicholson Street is four minutes away by bicycle, ten minutes by car, twenty minutes by public transportation, and a twenty-five minute stroll. I don’t recommend visiting it by any mode of travel however. And it's still not mine.

6. Who told you he/she loved you last?

That would be my sweet little boy Lenny, when I was putting him to bed a couple of hours ago. I was scratching his arm.  He said, I love you infinity mama. I said, I love you infinity too my darling. He said, I love you even more. I said, it’s not a competition.

The volunteers sometimes address me using terms of endearment; I honestly don’t mind this, as a rule, although I often feel like I should really be pulling them up on it, because it’s not the sort of thing that’s supposed to happen in the workplace. The 92 year old who worked on Catalina flying boats in WWII always calls me ‘Lassie’, which, of course, I really love - he is a pretty wonderful old bloke - and lots of them call me ‘love’ or ‘sometimes ‘Darl’. It’s partly a generational thing, and partly just people taking liberties because they know they can get way with it under cover of it being shrugged off as a generational thing.

7. How many drugs have you done in the last three days?

This question is just as hilarious as it was eleven years ago, and the answer is interestingly similar and different. In 2006 it was a few glasses of white wine, and some tea. In 2017 I have drunk too much coffee in the mornings, and ended each day with a very stiff drink. 

10. Are you touchy feely?

Yes I am. I like touching people. Gosh, I feel like such a perv writing that! This was different in 2006. I know how the difference came about: it’s partly because I had a child and got used to being touched all the time, and partly because about the turn of the decade I consciously set out to develop a capacity to enjoy being kissed / hugged / patted on the arm etc in a casual social context. I just got tired of flinching and being awkward. And it turns out that I like touching people, much to my surprise. Put the lotion in the basket please.

11. Name three things that you have on you at all times?

Well: freckles, my wedding rings, and a science lab worth of serums, acids and suspensions from the Ordinary.

12. What was the last thing you paid for with cash?

A two hour yoga class, about 35 minutes of which I an almost certain I slept through.

13. Does anything hurt on your body right now?

Nothing. This is also different from last time. Yes I whine a lot, but I suppose I should acknowledge that I’m fantastically well at the moment, with no physical problems or ailments, no aches and pains, and a great general sense of bodily exuberance and wellbeing. If I could only sleep a bit better and stop thinking all the time about eating cheese, I’d be unstoppable.

14. How much cash do you have on you?

I have no cash on me as such, and no real idea how much there might be in the various pockets of my bag, jacket etc. I ruined my wallet by getting it wet a few weeks ago and I haven’t been able to summon up the willpower to replace it yet. So I’m going around with my credit card and few random scraps of cash knotted up in a hanky. TRUE STORY.

15. What's a word that rhymes with “DOOR?”

MORE. There is no more, what a huge relief! Future blogging goal: to write less.

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