Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Southern Continent - Part 1

Christ, Australia is big. It's the sixth largest country in the world, nearly the size of Europe and has about half the population of the UK in it. That might be because there's this whole massive bit in the middle in which pretty much nothing can live.

This blog took a bit of a rest when I landed in Sydney just over a year ago. Whilst on my previously detailed adventures with Mr. Furious throughout South East Asia, there were many adventures, much madness and, therefore, many updates. Since arriving in Australia, there's been a fair share of adventure and wonderful times, but in between those adventures there's been way more time to lounge around and indulge in my natural laziness. Another excuse for not updating this blog is that it was all a bit moment to moment in Australia, constantly extending my stay, before I bit the bullet and decided to stay for a second year. 

There's been a fair bit of hitching. Australia's expanse is perfect for hitchhiking. Wherever you're dropped off on the highway, you're pretty much guaranteed to be in some kind of glorious expanse. Much more pleasant than hitchhiking in, say, the UK, where the nicest view you'll have is a massive pile of concrete. Anyway. For hitchers I do recommend hitching in Oz, as Australians are generally very generous and welcoming to strangers and travellers. This can be lovely ("Help yourself to food, I always pack lunch for two in case I pick up a hitcher") or unnerving ("You should've had me pick you up ten minutes up the road, then you could've had a hit of my meth"). As always with hitching, you meet a ludicrous range of people, and Australia certainly has its fair share of strange folk from isolated areas. One particularly memorable experience is a guy in Tasmania telling me about his girlfriend and his family. He was 21 and his girlfriend was 16 ("I won't go any lower - I'm very careful about that"), and also shared with me the delightful story of the last time he saw his estranged brother. Him and his Mum came in to the front room to find his brother having sex with the family dog. The brother yelped, stood up, and (understandably) legged it. His neighbours at his place reported later they heard loads of crashing around, screaming, then him getting in the car and driving off. No one's seen him in four years. Insane.

I've been indulging in a bit of spoken word here and there, having performed in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, in the desert north of Roxby Downs and Byron Bay. The performance poetry community here is pretty tight, but growing, and there's plenty of amazing talent on offer. Fortunately, no one really had a monopoly on screaming obscenities at audiences yet, so I've happily filled that role. The gigs have uniformally been extremely well run with a dedicated spoken word audience. Performers and promoters in different cities have very tight connections despite the huge distances, and the whole thing seem to function rather well as a community of artists, a lot of whom are doing some really interesting stuff.  I was very proud to run Australia's first Anti-Slam with my friend Tim (aka Stackhat - irritatingly good performer, writer and musician) in March this year. We ran it as a benefit for Sydney anarchist spaces Dust Monster and Black Rose and it went down a storm. We raised a fair bit of money for both spaces, got extremely drunk and I got to yell at some hipsters. A fine evening all round.

To make ends meet this year I've mainly been helping out with some after school projects as a casual assistant, and on weekends busking with huge bubbles, which has been awesome. Everyone loves the wholesome joy of a massive bubble. And kids go ape shit for them. Honestly, I've never seen anything like it. When there's loads of them, screaming for bubbles, running around in a kind of chaotic ecstacy, I feel like Simon in Lord of the Flies before he gets beaten to death by a hysterical, tribe of mini-psychos. But, despite the ever present danger of being murdered by children, I brave it, and it usually ends up being a jolly good time had by all.

Presently I'm staying in the Blue Mountains, and in forty minutes I've got to catch a train back to Sydney and stay there for a bit. Free Hari Krishna food, cheap coffee and warm weather await.

I promise you grubby lot I will update this blog more often.