Tuesday, June 16, 2015


6.20 am. Went into the bathroom. Spent half an hour hennaing my hair. Came out with my hair piled into a cone of henna mud. Selkie the pup looked at me horrified, and fled out the front door, pissing the whole way along the carpet. So I chased her. I believe I was still wearing my rubber gloves and towel cape at the time.

9.50 am. Deposited a cheque via the ATM. First time ever. Very proud of myself. Wet hair.
10 am. Attended an obligatory interview with the local labour hire mob. I got there fifteen minutes early, sat on the couch to read the No Idea. A man walked in who was 'having a crisis' with a labour hire mob who'd just shut down and so he wanted to be transferred to another agency or he'd be cut off his unemployment benefits.
He spoke with an Irish accent as he scanned the noticeboard and said to the receptionist, "There's a job going for a butcher here. I've had some butchering experience. Can you give me the details?"
"Have you had any experience butchering kangaroos?"
"No. But isn't any animal the same when it's dead, now? Kangaroo tails are just bigger."

10.30 am. Took this picture outside the supermarket:

10.40 am. Had a quick interactive learning session with the council gardeners about pruning the Peace roses at the war nurses memorial garden.
11 am. Moved into a table at my favourite haunt to edit my thesis.
11.30 am. Went out for a smoke. Checked my phone. A message from my best mate saying she couldn't have lunch with me today as she was having a 'procedure' at 11.45 am to check her left boob for cancer. She'd told me about that lump weeks ago. She didn't tell me it was today. That is her way, anyway.
11.45 am. Go back to the thesis. Think about lumps. Try to organise the footnotes. Try to straighten up my arguments.
11.45 - 12 pm. Try to organise my thoughts.
12.30 pm. An old friend limps up to my table. When I ask him why he is limping, I realise his words are slurred and not as precise as when I'd last talked to him, and he's always been a clever, physical sort. "I've been in hospital for a whole month," he told me. "This part of my brain [he points to the base of his skull] just broke one day." His eyes were clear, healthy and bright. I always thought he was a grumpy sort but he seemed almost obscenely happy today, after his encounter with death.


1pm. Wait for academic mate. Order chips and more coffee. Ask for more aioli to eat chips with. Consume it all. Feel a bit sick. Continue editing. The woman sitting at the table next to me is wearing black jeans and stilettos. She stands and puts on her fake leopard fur coat to leave. She is fucking indomitably impressive in that moment.
1.30pm. Wait for said academic mate. Continue editing.
1.45pm. A journo who I have a lot of time for sits down at my table.
2pm. Academic mate shows up with a bandaged pruning thumb.
2pm. She sends a text message saying that according to the powers that be, her left breast looks like it has been in a massacre. I try to ring her and get to the voice mail.
2.15pm. Academic mate recounts how he saw bone and got ten stitches when he damaged his hand yesterday pruning vines. (Because that is what we do by the way, you non-academics. You may think we are posh but in the off-season when we are laid off teaching, we prune vines or clean people's gutters or pick fruit.)
2.45 pm. She sends a text message. She can't talk right now. She'll ring tonight.
2.50 pm. We talk about narrative non fiction, the journalist, the academic vine pruner and I. We talk about sharks and guns and history and culture and spark on the value of long reads. We talk about sleep deprivation, raising children and wilderness writing. The conversation gets exciting and I know I have an appointment at 4pm, so I keep looking at my phone.
3pm. There's no new messages from my best friend, so I think she must be sleeping.
3.45pm. I walk through the back blocks to my next appointment. Out the back of the Royal George Hotel they are throwing out the fittings of a disreputable establishment. Tradies have stopped for a fag. They are gutting the front bar and cleaning out the whole hotel to make it, I dunno, more respectable. I'd be happy if they owned their whaler, sealer past ... ahh stop it Sarah ... I walk up the hill to my next appointment with my therapist.

5pm. My car is covered in red flowers because I parked it under a flame tree and the birds are having a rather obscene ball with it all day. I drive five kilometres, fast, to blow their mating rituals away. When I got home the pup is so glad to see me that she literally turns somersaults.


  1. Gets me every time, now I'm older.


  2. Wow, what a day you've had. It started out like one of John Gray's adventures in Trelawynd what with the henna on your hair and the dog running and peeing the whole way!

    I sure hope your friend is ok.

    The tree with the red flowers is beautiful. I've never seen one like it.

    1. That is a true honour Jennifer, to be compared with John Gray of Trelawnyd. I shall bask in that for a mo ...

      *wakes up*

      Ok. the tree I write of is not the Illarwarra Flame tree but of the Eithrina species. speciosa perhaps.

      I hope my friend is okay too :)

  3. Love this piece Sarah - the interaction of the daily routine and the bigger health/mortality issues. And the language and content of all your writing is just so darn Australian I love it!
    btw my mum had a word to the local library about a visit from you. she is staying with me at the moment and said she will have to follow up with them, sometimes they need a reminder (or two). it may work out yet so stay tuned. xx ps. lets make it at a time when i'm home visiting too ;-)

    1. Hi Rellie, that sounds great. I will be out that way during August too!

    2. You're coming to Melbs?!? that would be cool

    3. Oh no, far more cosmopolitan ... Manjimup

    4. Aww, bummer for me (I won't be home until December) but yay for Manji :-) I'll tell Mum x

  4. That dog's getting a bit old now to be pissing herself from just that, isn't she?

    Cancer, stroke, heart-attack; I'm getting to resent how these bastards keep poking their noses further and further into your life as you get older.

    I hope your mate's doing all right.

    Also, well done with the cheque. I've never done that either.

    1. Thanks Michelle.
      Alex I reckon if she can still turn somersaults she can still piss herself out of sheer terror!

  5. Loved this Sarah, you could write 80K of this and I'd read it all. Just sayin'.
    Thinking of your friend, hope that is all ok.
    And this: fucking indomitably impressive. I wish I could be like that.

    1. Thanks love. Yes, I would like to be that too. If I could get out of my ugg boots.

  6. Love your day Sarah. Me, I'm struggling in paradise here in Marsala. Only five days left

    1. Oh, poor you Mr Hat.
      I've been enjoying your posts. Hope you make a meal of your last days.