Observations From Isolation: Ch.27 – Untitled…

Some of the spiders are still here.

Fat and long-limbed golden orbs stringing their thick webs from wattle to decking post, laden with slung bugs and wayfaring Jacaranda stems.

Most of them are up high, hanging off the teev aerial, shooting yellow-ish strands to the palms against the fence. Some come down low and thread across the path to the clothes line, across access through the back gate. They get dissuaded quickly though, and so we’ve come to an easy impasse.

In the dark, on Thursday or Friday nights, when there’s footy on and I’m drinking beer though, it’s a crapshoot as to whether or not I’ll tangle on my way to piss in the garden. No one wants eight legs on their shoulder when their business is out. Ain’t that the truth.

The news is all the Same. And yet it’s news you can’t do without. I’ve got people down south, as do many, and I read and talk and listen and try to understand.

At the bottle shop, life goes on and then some, the constant human flow rarely abating. People need a drink, and I am not one to judge; Don’t Judge, is my watchword. It’s hard to abide. To be honest, I judge constantly. And not as you’d think, not judging people by how much they drink – I could not possibly care less.

But I do judge by character, by how people carry themselves, how they interact with other people.

I don’t like people. Not really.

People need to follow the rules. At least in this day and age.

I’d not give a shit in hell if not for the fact I work in retail. If I didn’t, if I didn’t constantly come into contact with people who do things the Wrong Way, why would I care, really? But I do, and it grates, and just because we’re not in Victoria, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look at the floor and follow the arrow directions marked on same.

I’m wearing a mask. So, it’s fine right?

Some people thank me. Others don’t bat an eyelid. I don’t care. I don’t judge.

The front garden is a blank canvas, one which Claire and I have started to paint upon, at least in theory. It’s coming to fruition though, slowly, a labour of love that will pay dividends. Once we get down to Ballina and load the truck with gravel, bring it back, scrape it out, spread and compact it – plus red-clay dirt, solid turf, expert paving courtesy of yours truly, who’s never paved a square foot in his life.

But you do it, right? You pave the squares, you make it level, you lay the stone and fill the gaps. You pave it.

Tonight, my plan was to watch football and drink beer. A simple, inelegant-yet-fulfilling evening; well spent, to my mind. I executed it well.

Around halftime – during a match in which I had no skin in the game, and so was watching for pure enjoyment – a round of phone-tag matched up and so I spent the second half, and then some, speaking with an old mate from Melbourne.

Where before we used to talk about rock ‘n’ roll and smoking weed, now we talk about where our kids are at. We talk about politics and the pandemic, about our work and our wife’s works, what we’re doing and what we want to be doing.

And we talk about rock ‘n’ roll and smoking weed.

For the two go, undoubtedly, hand in hand.

A few years ago, at Bluesfest in Byron, I walked over to watch Iggy Pop with nothing in hand other than a can of beer, and emerged half an hour later high as a kite. And so I walked back to where I’d started, where Claire was, perched in the back of someone’s ute on the raised road between the two major stages, and watched the rest of Robert Plant’s set as he took time-honoured Zeppelin songs and reworked them in his own way.

Purists hated that set, but it was one of the best we’d ever seen.

At one point, before I left to see a bit of Iggy, a photographer walked past and, glancing towards us, stopped in his tracks and took a shot of Claire, sitting on a milk crate in the back of that ute. She had tears running down her face as she listened to Plant do ‘Whole Lotta Love’, in his re-worked way, a song she’d grown up with. In the foreground, elbow on the truck’s side tray, was me with my mouth open, listening to the same song I’d heard since I was maybe five, done in such a fashion as to render me gobsmacked.

Would have been a cool photo. I wish I’d seen it.

Now, Claire is asleep. Addy is asleep too. I’ve finished my phone call, but not my bourbon. The air is moving in such a way as to amplify the highway, as opposed to the surf, and so there’s B-Double noise, not crashing waves.

It’s still. The wind, blustery all afternoon, has gone. It’s just airflow now, just the way the air is moving, that moves the sound. No one else in the neighbourhood is up. Just the trucks and the odd bilby (our local guy), and the tapping of black keys onto a white screen.

Which is nice.

The air is cold. There’s a last-ditch wintery cold snap on the way. I’m wearing jeans and boots, but could do with a jumper.

But I like how crisp it is.

And just occasionally, just every now and then, there’s a gap in highway traffic.

And it’s quiet. Perfectly quiet. Like nothing is happening and everything is fine. And that’s nice too.