I’m snorkelling in the salty soft water of a coral island in the Great Barrier Reef. All morning: sea turtles, an eel, a million fish of all different colours. In the deep water off the edge of the reef a mother humpback whale and her calf. I’m suntanned, soaked through with sea water for days. I dive down, following a giant brain of coral, it’s own microcosmic world of predators and the pursued, of a million years of evolution polished into this moment when I’m flying and the world is sheer beauty. My head spins from holding my breath and I glide upwards. I’m in the middle of a school of tiny blue fish, sparkling like fragments of water, I’m flying through light.
Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth‘s series Eyes as Big as Plates is super quirky and strangely, strikingly beautiful. “Ritta writes “Inspired by the romantics’ belief that folklore is the clearest reflection of the soul of a people, Eyes as Big as Plates started out as a play on characters and protagonists from Norwegian folklore” The series is a collaboration with “sailors, farmers, professors, artisans, psychologists, teachers, parachuters and senior citizens.”
I hope when I’m old I get to dress up in natural materials and pose in a river. The lady above is so lovely. I think she’s going to be my beauty icon from now on.
I like my legs. I have a gammy knee that means I’m extra good friends with the physio, and a propensity towards a sore ankle (I first injured it when I was so engrossed in a magazine I feel down a flight of stairs at the station, and it’s never been quite the same. Thanks for nothing, Vogue Living). But other than that, my legs get me around ok, they don’t mind going for the odd run, and they’re nice and bendy for yoga. I have no illusions about them. I don’t imagine people are saying “gosh that lady over there has nice legs.”
My favourite ever pair of jeans was a stretchy, high waisted Sass and Bide pair that held everything in in a reassuring kind of way way. I used to wear them every day. I was waiting at the station once and saw a pair of legs reflected in the window of the incoming train: not overly long, not necessarily skinny, but definitely nice. “Gosh that lady has nice legs,” I thought. Then I realised it was me. Sadly, the entire seat wore out of those jeans. They’re beyond hope. I haven’t been able to find a replacement. They’re still sitting in my cupboard though, I’m not quite ready to get rid of them.
It’s no replacement for the best pair of jeans in the world, but the Sass and Bide website has a handy little workshop at the moment where you can assemble some pretty pictures into a christmas card and send it to whoever you’d like. I made some, it’s quite fun. Also, for every one sent they’re donating $1 to Barnardos Australia.
At first, briefly, Africa dismayed me: a whole new continent. The familiar contours of my anxiety.
Nairobi, Kenya. The highway from the airport to our hotel. Light through dust and throngs of people walking along the side of the road. There is a very well dressed lady standing in the middle of a huge pile of dead chickens, groups of men are playing checkers with bottle caps on the side of the road. Tiny, run down houses and muddy stalls.
My dad spent his childhood in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. My grandfather was a missionary. He wasn’t born religious, one day in the 1950s he was watching a film about the crucifixion, and the actor playing Jesus had looked directly into his eyes, and although his lips didn’t move he said I did this for you. So the hard labouring, ex-serviceman young husband retrained as a minister, and he and his wife took their young family, including an ill, paraplegic son and and a three year old, to Africa.
I’ve always felt slightly embarrassed whenever I’ve had to own up to my family’s stake in the sheer arrogance of white colonial imperialism. When grandpa died, I went to the nursing home in Haberfield to collect his things. They had stripped the mattress but I could still rest my hand in the dent where his body had been. I collected his clothes, his wedding photo, his battered bible. He left Mum and Dad some money and instead of letting it be subsumed in the endless grocery/credit card payments cycle, they decided to spend on a holiday, of sorts – a family trip to Africa. Continue reading
I was once talking to a guy in a bar. He said he was the editor of Zoo. I don’t know if he was or not. We were arguing over the origin of the word cock – as you would expect from the editor of Zoo. “Trust me,” he said “I know a lot about entomology.” Then he asked me if I wanted to go on a ride on his motorbike and I said no. Continue reading