Tuesday, 11 July 2017

I've forgotten what I was going to say

How could I not forget? A huge, unexpected, and very good change has occurred in my workplace, removing stress, anxiety and bad feelings in one fell swoop, leaving an immense sense of relief and also a feeling of windfall. A rotten situation which I knew was never going to be mended and could only be endured is now entirely over. 

How great it will be to just go to work, at my excellent workplace, and just work on doing as good a job as possible, free of needless drama. I was dealing with it pretty well - I'd stood up for myself effectively and I'd planned how I was going to handle the situation into the future. But now it's finished and I have survived. Obviously I'm very happy that my working life is going to get easier and happier now. But it also matters to me that, as my doctor pointed out, this turn of events confirms that the problem really wasn't of my own making. Not so much because that would give me the high moral ground - even after all the nonsense that prospect just does not appeal to me - but because I am trying to learn to think about my life in a way that doesn't involve the default position of me being the original flawed element in any given scenario. It's not easy I tells ya. I'm a long way off being where she is, that's for sure. 

Why isn't Ivy Litvinov better known? the stories in this collection are very, very good. Also that cover painting is something else. Don't you just feel compelled to mansplain her? You can't though. She can't hear you. Why shouldn't a woman look like that? A proper challenge.  (Portrait of Odette Frizac by Maurice Denis)
 So to mark the occasion I am finishing off a cask of semillon that has been in the fridge for two and a half months. And from now on I will be back here much more often with half-digested chunks of bloguerie to stockpile for my own uneasy future entertainment. 

I've tried a little to remember what I was trying to say a couple of weeks ago. It was something like this:

  • the Patrick Pound exhibition gave me so much pleasure because it thought so interestingly about interesting things from the past, and it did this thinking with interesting things from the past
  • the Phuong Ngo exhibition reminded me of travelling in Vietnam and also other places, where you go somewhere that something momentous happened and the site is completely opaque, even boring. This can sometimes be really upsetting if you have hitherto felt a strong emotional connection to the place. I think historical battlefield tourism might be particularly prone to this experience. Geoff Dyer's book The Missing of the Somme is partly about this. Many people i've met through work in the last couple of years have talked about feeling intense disappointment at Dunkirk or Port Moresby or Fromelles. Ngo's show also reminded me that cultural capital and privilege have a deep overlap. The work in the show had no labels at all and I was acutely conscious that for Vietnamese-Australian viewers it probably needed none.
  • I love old shite. It means the world to me. Literally. Here is a random example, here is probably the greatest old shite find of mine or anyone's life. It is hard for me to form a working relationship with a brand new object that comes trailing no past adventures to be guessed at.  
  • I did not grow up in a house full of old shite, my parents had nice simple modern faintly Scandinavian 1970s stuff and not very much of it. My maternal grandparents' house also seems to have been amazingly free of clutter and I know it was full of beautiful things. But we only went there for shortish visits not conducive to deep exploration. 
  • The big important house in my early life, which was indeed full of old shite of all descriptions, was my paternal grandparents' place, a farmhouse in Warrion which is not far from Colac in Western Victoria. From when I was about seven to about twelve we went there often for weekends and I got to know intimately the entire contents of the entire house. This shaped my sense of the past and defined my mode of relating to it. The provenances of the objects that littered every flat surface in the living areas, filled all the cupboards, sideboards, chests, boxes, shelves and wardrobes, and were crammed into suitcases stacked up to the ceiling of the sleepout in the orchard, were as follows:
    • Early 20th century Ireland, Liverpool, London, Catholic missions to Africa, Catholic chaplains in both world wars, nurses in both world wars and in rural Victoria
    • Late nineteenth century Western Victoria, sport, farming
    • 1920s and 1930s the girls (my great-aunts) did a lot of needlework and went to dances. Some of them wore furs. They all wore gloves.
    • 1940s farming, marriage and setting up a house, lots of children and very little money, aspirations, investment in education and culture, globetrotting aunts and uncles, 1940s decor, carpet, heating, insulation and plumbing
    • 1950s childhoods, all sorts of reading matter - books, comics, annuals, magazines - music, clothes, educational pursuits and hobbies, going to church very frequently and in many horrid hats, and deep domesticity
    • 1960s adolescences (five), 1960s virulent Catholicism, 1960s push-button domestic gadgetry, some crap redecoration of the house
    • 1970s young people leaving home, some by going 'back' to Ireland, all fairly spectacularly one way or another, and all of them storing their stuff at The Farm.
  • I was recently talking about the farm with someone of my exact age who also spent formative childhood time at a family farm in rural Victoria but for him the farm meant being outside. I spent a lot of time outside too but it was the relics inside the house that I learned from. We found some common ground in the memory of the sleepout. The one at my grandparents' farm had originally been built to house two Italian POWs. I slept in it myself for most of one summer in about 1981. 
I'm going to do a post collecting things that I remember were in the house, but not now. I've already spent much longer here than I meant to and what I planned to do this evening was watch another episode of The Handmaid's Tale. Goodnight.


Anonymous said...

My grandparents had a sleep out in the back yard in Ascot Vale, three rooms. Various family members lived in it then "show people" would come every year during the Royal Melbourne Show. I'm glad your work situation has sorted itself out. Gill.

Ann ODyne said...

oh 'blogeurie' - how good is that?
Reading Marina Hyde, she used another instantly lovable word - the arseoisie'.

Very happy for your workplace improvement. Very happy with you and for you.
Every office has someone who buggers it up for everyone else, usually the "Can't talk now Mum, it's tea break".
Vent your angst on the sewing machine, running up a frock.
x x