I thought I should expand on my last message. You see I was on my way out to a country town I’d never been to before to hopefully finish a song I was wrestling with. I called ahead and rented a caravan in a park two miles from town.
I walk in each day along the highway on the steady downward gradient past the motel strip. Out of all the neon signs my favourite is the bright red Mathew Flinders Motor Inn complete with a cartoon illustration of the ship Investigator he circumnavigated Australia in. The town holds a lot of promise from this angle, all the buildings bunched up like that, snug in the lap of the surrounding range.
There are so many flies you can catch one in a swat without even trying. The giant half-court sized Australian flag next to the Chinese Restaurant gives the main street a sense of majesty, that is when it can find ample breeze to lift it. The mini clock tower at the furthest end of the Main street is another stately feature until you get close and find it’s hands have long been amputated, just a blank timeless face.
I’m starting to recognize other faces around town though, like characters in a play. The librarian runs the projector at the film night in the Centerlink Hall. The jolly cafe owner and his pregnant wife prefer a burger from the fish shop down the road than their own fare. I keep seeing the same cab driver doing laps of the town block, the car doors displaying the company logo Satellite Taxis. The plural isn’t fooling anyone.
I eat lunch in the old-fashioned tearooms. It’s all lace doilies, dark oak wood and white bread. I like listening to the people talk, the way their conversations are as stark and honest as the architecture. Whilst having a coffee, I overhear a table of ladies engage with the expectant co-owner as she tends their table.
”How’s the baby coming along?”
”We were just all saying you look a little pale. Is everything okay?”
”The doctor says everything is normal. I’m feeling good.”
”Are you sure? You could be anaemic?”
Last night it was minus 1 in the caravan. I put on as many clothes as I could and huddled under the thin blanket shivering like a car that won’t start, but slept nonetheless.
In the morning the teenaged son brings me another two blankets and asks if he can come in. He’s home on holidays and I’m guessing prolifically bored by the way he’s been riding his BMX round and round my van for the past few days. He’s spotted me playing guitar and wants to talk about it.
”I’m trying to start a band,” he tells me, “My best friend is the drummer. You might have seen him, he slept over last night.”
“No, I missed him,” I confess, which led to a tiny bit of uncomfortable silence. But then I add, “Do you have your own songs?”
”Yeah, that’s what I wanted to ask you,” he stared earnestly, ”How do you make up words? I tried a few times but not much luck.”
I thought about it, about my days staring at the wall, others frustratingly procrastinating, with no learned tools or methods available to employ. It’s all still a mystery.
”When you know please come and tell me,” I was telling the truth, “Lyrics are the hardest thing.”
There is wood-grained laminex covering most surfaces so I like to imagine I’m living in a room carved inside a tree. I’ll stay here now and hope the song I’ve been waiting for will find me. And if not I’ll try and look for it in my own way, the only way I know. How will I do this? By daydreaming.
And that is also the reason I’ve never been good at cricket. It is not a game for daydreamers.
See you back in Sydney next week.