Wordsworth v Chandler (reposted)

It rained on my Chrysler all day long

as I sat high up in the Hollywood Hills,

peering through my binoculars

past a soggy clump of daffodils;

beside the lake, beneath the trees,

till I was hit and fell on my knees.

 

Things went black for a little while

and when I woke I smelled of gin,

– not casually as though I’d sipped,

but reeking, as if I’d had a swim –

Framed, I realised at a glance,

a hasty departure my only chance.

 

A dame beside me, fairly dead,

and on the floor my bloodied gun;

a pounding in my aching head,

once again I’m on the run.

To clear my name my only hope

And catch that Stinky McFlintoff, the dope.

 

And oft, when on my couch I lie

and tell this story to my shrink,

I wonder why I didn’t try

the window high above the sink;

instead of making for the door

and ending up here in the clink.

Noir detective with daffodils

Humphrey Bogart, wandering as lonely as a cloud, o’er Hollywood Hills.

 

With apologies to William Wordsworth and Raymond Chandler.

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*First posted in 2014. Today I had a (very frivolous) conversation (over here) about combining totally unrelated styles, or genres, of writing – chicklit and dada, & this made me think of my previous attempt to merge romantic poetry and hard-boiled detective fiction – another two deliberately incongruous genres – together. I think you’ll agree it’s quite ground-breaking. Of course, I don’t expect academics to discover its subtle complexities and put it on their  Post-Truth-Era Australian Literature reading lists for another 10 years or so.

PS – how do others repost old posts? I can’t see any simple way to do it so I copied and pasted the text into a new post, which means the old one also still exists separately. I can’t work out how to repost any other way. If you know, please share!

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A few words from our sponsors

A Few Words From Our Sponsors is a new quarterly segment brought to you by our local business sponsor,  Moustaches Are Us, suppliers of quality moustaches to existentialists and philosophers for over 150 years. Below are our favourite words for Spring.

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Posthumous

the state of despair arrived at when you have eaten all your hummus* and have none left to dip that last bit of pita bread into. (*some spell it humus or humous – a tasty dip of Lebanese origin, made from chickpeas.) Some believe that this state can lead to questioning the very meaning of existence and that it may have been a hummus shortage that triggered the beginnings of the existentialist movement in the late 19th Century.

 

Rejected cover art for the biography of Friedrich Nietzsche

A rejected submission for the cover of a biography of Friedrich Nietzsche

Phosphorescence

a word designed for the sole purpose of having a softly soothing word to whisper quietly to yourself in the dead of night when you cannot sleep. Try it tonight! For certain success, drink a large glass of brandy and swallow a valium before you crawl into bed to begin. As a cure for insomnia, the Phosphorescence method is highly recommended by Lady Macbeth, and endorsed by Dorothy Parker.

rhythm

a word that will forever feel incomplete, because of the oversight of the powers-that-be, who did not include a silent n at the end of this word when they built the original. This author bravely attempted, back in Grade 6, when taking part in the combined primary schools spelling bee, to bring this scandalous oversight to light, but her efforts to highlight the need for an n on the end of rhythm did not get the swell of community support hoped for, so rhythm continues to always seem one (silent) letter short of its full potential.

unrequited (by request from the Department of Speculation)

A word brimming with possibilities, but mainly only if you are playing the game where you locate other words hidden within it. This author put her timer on for 3.25 minutes and located the following:

quite

quiet

quieted

it

queer

tied

diet

die

tired

tried

ride

If you can find other words, please leave these in the comments below, to go into the draw to win one of our Existential Moustaches for October.

billious

this word is the result of a dysfunctional union between two already icky words: bile and ill, but that second syllable in billious adds a whole other dimension to it, making this writer imagine a sickly, yellow hue, and think of movement in a circular direction, all of which seems to suggest very clearly the vomit that is probably churning ferociously up your intestines as you read this.

orangutang

Nietzsche famously remarked that it’s a myriad of pleasure just to pronounce the word orangutang, let alone to visit the obligingly zany creature at the zoo. (I believe Nietzsche actually confided to a friend that in fact he got even greater enjoyment from the phrase, Hubba Bubba, and had spent many delightful evenings engaged in smoking his pipe on the verandah and repeating that diverting phrase to himself, but conceded that orangutang was a strong second choice and gave him a chuckle every now and then.) The burning question is, why has no-one named a tangy orange drink Orang-u-tang? Red bulls have a drink named after them, why not orangutangs? You heard it here first.

ferocious

While we are making predictions, this word has so much presence all by itself that it is just begging to be the startling, one-word title of the next Man Booker Prize winning novel, and following that, the Hollywood film based on the novel, starring Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and Maggie Smith. (I really wanted Jake Gyllenhaal but he just wasn’t quite right for the part.)

ricochet

ricochet is fun to say. We like words that are fun to say, but we also like it when, in our imaginations at least, the word seems to convey the concept. Ric-o-chet sounds to us like the pinballs bouncing from one corner to another inside a pinball machine.

And that’s it for our words for this quarter. Stay tuned for summer when we will bring you another round, courtesy of Moustaches Are Us.

 

It’s fun to multi-task: how to keep busy while watching TV.

Welcome back, it’s good to see you again!

You may recall that just the other week, we discussed how excited we all are, in the advent of streaming services like Netflix™ and Stan™, because we can now deposit ourselves on the couch and watch series 1 through to 27 of our favourite show in one hit, with almost no need to even move off the couch for a week unless the chips run out.

After our little chat, many of you wrote in with questions. I’m sorry that I can’t answer them all personally, due to a lack of postage stamps, but I will answer the most common question here on this blog. That question was, could I suggest any activities suitable for undertaking while bingeing on television?

Now, at first I was puzzled by this request, but then the penny dropped. See, as I’m a Generation X-er, the kind of activities I’ll do while watching TV are those that require very little concentration. For example – eating, drinking and chatting to other people. But to the younger generation, this is a huge waste of potential multi-tasking time! Surely (thinks the younger TV viewer) I, or any other viewer, could be increasing the productivity of our time spent watching TV, by doing something else at the same time – such as undertaking a personal training session, buying and selling shares on the stock exchange, or notching up some part-time hours as an air-traffic controller.

Bearing this in mind, I’ve come up with some activities that you could easily do while watching TV. The usefulness of these activities is dubious but at least you’ll be multi-tasking.

Run on a Treadmill – activity best suited to viewing House of Cards

This activity is good for those with an interest in health and fitness, or equally, for those interested in anger management techniques.

Not an episode goes by without a scene of Claire Underwood furiously jogging on the treadmill, often while her caring husband Frank angrily pumps away on the rowing machine in the next room. As a pair of conniving sociopaths, I guess this is a harmless way for them to vent their pent up anger and frustration when there is a temporary set back in their plans to walk all over everyone else in their quest for power. The bonus for you is that the physical activity will nicely balance out all that time spent watching TV – at least you weren’t sitting on your arse for the whole series. It’s a great way to watch a whole series in one sitting, without sitting.

One hitch with this activity is that it is probably not practical for those living in small studio apartments, or those without a lot of spare space in their house; but if you can afford to have an extra room built on to accommodate the treadmill then away you go!

Other thematic activities that can easily be done while watching House of Cards could be: cyber-bullying your friends or colleagues, or drumming up support for a cause that you don’t believe in, in order to undermine a rival.

 

Make your own methamphetamine – activity best suited to viewing Breaking Bad

This activity is useful for those with an interest in chemistry or thinking of starting up a small business.

It may surprise some readers to hear that I have no experience whatsoever with making methamphetamine, but it’s true. The closest I’ve ever come was when I made some smelling salts, using a recipe from an Aromatherapy book. They were meant to be therapeutic, and counter the symptoms of hay fever. I’m not quite sure how successful they were in that endeavour, but I’m fairly sure that they didn’t make the hay fever symptoms any worse.

So I’m afraid I’m not qualified to provide a recipe or suggested procedure for making your own methamphetamine at home, but I’m sure that you could do a quick search on the amazing interwebs and educate yourself on the correct process fairly quickly, if you wish to take up this activity.

The benefit is that you could set up your TV or computer screen in your Meth lab, however, based on my memory of high-school chemistry, be mindful that concentration on the task at hand will be required at certain points in the process. I seem to recall that precision is important in chemistry, so you may need to switch your concentration from your favourite show for a moment when measuring out the various chemical components, as well as when timing steps of the process, and when checking temperatures. Chemistry is all a little bit pedantic that way, and that’s probably why I did not pursue it as a career.

 

Mix up cocktails for yourself and your friends – activity best suited to watching Mad Men 

If there was an episode of Mad Men that did not feature at least one scene where someone, in a bar, by the side of a pool, in their lounge room, or, most often, in their office, poured a bourbon on the rocks, or mixed a cocktail for themselves and their friend/lover/wife/husband or new client, I must have missed it.

Again, this activity is ideally suited to doing while watching TV, since in most homes it’s not hard to find a way to bring the television and the cocktail-making paraphernalia into the same general location. If for some reason you are having trouble with this, a trip to IKEA will probably solve the problem, as you are sure to find some kind of mobile bar/entire miniature kitchen that you can wheel into your lounge room when needed; or alternatively, an entire miniature lounge room including TV, that you can wheel into the kitchen.

Gather together a variety of different types of liquor, a few mixers (eg. soda water), some stylish drinking glasses, and a small ice bucket, preferably filled with ice. Try experimenting with some of the cocktails from the era – look up the recipes for an Old-Fashioned, or a Manhattan, for example. I found these two cocktails here but I’m sure there are heaps of places you could look.

The beauty of this activity for many of us is that, unlike making methamphetamine, precision is not very important. So if, while laughing your head off at Roger’s wisecracks, you slosh an extra few shots of bourbon into the drink you’re about to pass your friend, and forget to add the soda water, I doubt that anyone will complain.

Other thematic activities that could be done while watching Mad Men could be: smoking. This can be done even if you’re watching TV from your bed.

Cocktail photo (Cuba Libre) by Richard Aufreiter

 

Inputting coordinates into your device – activity best suited to viewing Dr Who

This activity is good for increasing mathematical skills and understanding of astronomy, as well as developing the capacity of your imagination.

For this activity to be any fun, you should input galactic coordinates if possible, for the exact location of where in the universe you would like to go. You can input these into any device you have at hand – an iPad, iPhone, android or even a good scientific calculator, but best results will be had if you input them into a GPS device or into an online map. One thing is for certain, that is, no matter what device you use, the result will be similar; that is, you won’t suddenly be whisked to that point in the universe, but you can have a lot of fun pretending that you are in the Tardis and now on your way to Gallifrey – or Mars, if that’s your preference, and watching TV on your way there.

With this activity, precision is only important if you are the sort of person who really cares about whether or not you would really reach your imaginary destination. Remember, when we are talking about the distances covered in space travel, one small miscalculation at the start could result in you accidentally travelling light years out of your way and ending up in some totally wrong part of the universe. But if you’re the kind of person who likes surprises, then by all means, type in the coordinates absent-mindedly while you are engrossed in a particularly scary episode of Dr Who, and away you go!

input your galactic coordinates into your calculator

    You can input your galactic coordinates into your calculator if that’s the only device handy

 

Eat so much food that you almost explode – activity best suited to viewing Scooby Doo or The Simpsons

This activity is good for people with an interest in food and nutrition.

If it’s hard to find an episode of House of Cards where Claire does not go running on a treadmill, it’s damned near impossible to find an episode of Scooby Doo where Shaggy and Scooby don’t eat their own body weight, and then some more, in hamburgers, hot dogs or maybe, if they are in Mexico, tacos, until they are almost comatosed. They’ve been steadfastly eating their way through mountains of fast food since the 1970s, but these days, when asked who is most likely to eat until they explode, 9 out of ten viewers nominate Homer Simpson, which just goes to show our short memories. Or perhaps that’s because Homer doesn’t run off the extra calories later on as Shaggy and Scooby always did.

Either way, this activity takes some pre-preparation. Of course, as always, if you have a TV in your kitchen, all the preparation could be done while watching TV as well. Simply make up enough hamburgers/hot dogs/sandwiches/(fill in the blank) to fill the back of a large moving van, and then somehow get them all into the room where you will be watching TV. That part is important, because once you’ve eaten about half way through that truckload of hamburgers, you won’t be capable of walking to get the rest. Then, once you and your food is all ready to go, simply sit down and start watching TV. Easy!

Other thematic activities you could do while watching Scooby Doo include: creeping around the room on tippy-toe, hiding behind the couch. Keep in mind however that if you were really in Scooby Doo, that is where the bad guy would also be hiding. Doh!

Just a small entree to start with.

                                            Just a small entree to start with.

 

Pics:

Cocktail: Richard Aufreiter via a Creative Commons Licence

Calculator: Josueth Acevedo via a Creative Commons licence

Scooby Doo: Pintrest

 

My day: as reviewed by Dorothy Parker

8am: read a book while eating breakfast

God, the bitter misery that reading works in this world! Everybody knows that – everybody who is everybody. All the best minds have been off reading for years. I wish I’d never learned to read. Still, if I must review the damn thing…..well, thankfully, it’s witty in parts, but it’s also frightfully dull at times. Some people are sad, others are awkward – it’s nothing more than depressing, and precisely why reading makes me nervous. In fact, I feel so nauseated I could yip.

Reading: 2/10

Dorothy Parker - The Collected Stories

11am: started (but terminated) an online credit card application 

That whole process was awfully boring! It was bad enough having to fill out anything at all, (especially when the applicant is already a customer of the bank in question – Ed.) but it asked simply sheaves of questions! By page three of the online form, the applicant was asked for a long and tedious list of the most tiresome things – income, monthly mortgage repayments, and average contribution to household expenses (weekly/fortnightly/monthly) – just for starters.

It was enough to put me to sleep. I’d rather count sheep, and I hate sheep.

Online credit card application process: 2/10

 

1pm: started (and completed) an online application to set up a Mygov online account (as of July 1, this is required in Australia before you can get a refund through Medicare for a visit to a doctor.)

From everything I’ve heard about dealing with Australian Government departments, or websites, I’m actually rather thrilled at how smoothly this went. The only glitch was on creating a password – the applicant filled out all her details, created the password, and after hitting “submit,” received one of those frightfully dull error messages. In a rather frightful fire-engine red message, she was informed that she had entered an Invalid Password. No other information to guide us as to why it was invalid. How utterly tiresome!

I was scandalised at this, especially when the applicant explained that technology exists which will alert people, as they create a password, as to whether it fulfils the security requirements of the site. I’m told it would also be easy to include instructions stating what is required in the password – for example, a mix of uppercase and lower case? Numerals, characters, dots, dashes, your favourite Gin – who knows?

However, the applicant herself, clearly used to these kinds of glitches, retained her equanimity admirably. I was assured quite calmly that as far as errors on government websites go, this instance was so tiny, it was not worth stopping to think about. She took a guess, added a few more characters to her password – and sure enough, it went through. The rest of the process went smoothly and took about 15-20 minutes.

For an Australian government website, I’m reliably told, that is the smoothest user experience you could possibly imagine.

Based on this being an Australian Government website: 10/10  because there was only 1 glitch.

If this was a commercial business: 8/10 because of the glitch and lack of support with solving it.

2pm: baked a cake

I never bake. I can’t sit still long enough for that. Baking makes me nervous. And I never seem to get good household help. But this cake is delightful, I can’t believe you made it yourself, aren’t you clever! What’s that about the centre? Undercooked? Oh, no, I didn’t think so. Gooey? Well, I hardly noticed. I mean, I thought it was some terribly clever sauce in the middle. Yes, honestly. And the other part of the cake is delicious, so it really doesn’t matter. Flavour – why…is it….lemon? Oh, orange, you say? Why, now that you mention it, I can taste that quite clearly, I don’t know what I was thinking. Goodness, it’s very filling, I must say…I don’t think I can finish off that last little bit.

Cake: 5/10

 

3pm: cleaned the bath

My dear, the bathroom looks divine, although I don’t know why you don’t hire someone to clean for you. Still, it’s nice to know that apparently your bath is white after all. It was becoming hard to tell, wasn’t it? Dust really can accumulate in a bathroom! Extra points for moving all of your teenage daughter’s hair products and soaps out of the way to do around the edges of the bath/shower and then putting them all so neatly back again. I wouldn’t have been so patient!

A bonus point, too, because you obviously hurt your back while cleaning – based on the fact that you are now lying flat on the wooden floor while I’m talking to you.

What’s that? It’s really not that bad? It really doesn’t look like you’re having much fun down there. Oh, no, don’t try to get up…..oh dear! It looks as though you are in pain. This is what comes of cleaning. Perhaps you should have been writing and left the silly old bath to its own devices.

Shall I make you a gin and tonic dear?

Bathroom: 11/10

Cleaning: 1/10

 

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The above includes direct quotes from Dorothy Parker’s Collected Stories.

Days Of Our Lives, or, SEO for beginners

If you are a blogger, raise your hand. Now raise the other one. Now turn around once and jump to the left. Then sit down and take a few deep breaths, because if you’re a blogger, that’s probably more exercise than you’ve had all week. Oh, and you can put your hands down now.

All of that activity leads me to paragraph 2, and if you’re still here at this point, that means that your curiosity was raised by the title of this post, so I surmise that you feel as if you should read about techniques for gaining more readers, even though secretly, you know that you prefer to read silly stories.

But don’t be discouraged, dear blogger with less-than-adequate understanding of technical terms! Speaking for myself, I sometimes feel as if I could, and should, be doing more to maximise readership of my blog (this thought usually only occurs when I’m really happy with a post I’ve just published, ie, only occasionally) but if I attempt to read a guide to increasing readership, my eyes immediately start to glaze over and I find myself wondering if it’s too soon to put the kettle on for another coffee, or whether I really should clean the shower after all.

Until now, the trouble with all those posts full of tips for gaining more readers is twofold. 1: they are instructional, and 2. they utilise technical terminology. I mean, what even is SEO, right? Right!

So in order to help myself and any other bloggers who is unable to read and follow a list of instructions, I’ve turned the relevant terms into characters from a daytime TV soap opera.

Behold:

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Sitemap: Sitemap is the town where our soap opera unfolds. It’s just an ordinary little every-town that you’d find in any Westernised country, with a quiet, suburban, middle-class feel to it. There’s not much to make it stand out, apart from an unnaturally high amount of organised crime, supernatural incidents, and the large number of multi-national corporations run by corrupt bosses that are headquartered in it.

SEO: SEO is the patriarch of the family at the heart of our story. His nickname, SEO, (pronounced to rhyme with Theo) is derived from the fact that he is the Senior Executive Officer at some shady business that is never described in more than the vaguest terms as some kind of import/export business. Like the Godfather, you don’t mess with SEO, and if you do, you may find yourself in the river with a brick tied to your person. However, don’t feel despondent – there’s always a chance that if you were popular with viewers, you will make a comeback when it’s  discovered that it wasn’t really you who was thrown in the river after all, but your previously-never-heard-of twin brother.

SEO, the patriarch at the head of all the drama set in Sitemap.

SEO, the patriarch at the head of all the drama set in Sitemap.

Site Rankings a swarthy hero in a black leather bikie jacket, Site is a bit of a dark horse, and in season 1, we just can’t tell if he’s a tough guy with no feelings, or whether there’s a heart of gold  beating underneath all that black leather.

Page Rankings Fiery and pretty, Page Ranking’s true identity as Site’s younger sister is only revealed in Season 4, at which point a series of flashbacks helpfully remind the viewer, and the troubled Site, of scenes from Seasons 1, 2 and 3, when the two found themselves forced together in compromising situations. For example, they first meet in Season 1, when they are the sole survivors of a shipwreck, and are forced to live together for weeks on a tiny desert island, in a small cabin with nothing but a small bar fridge and one large four-poster bed.

Webmaster:  A mysterious bearded gentleman in a long robe, rumoured to have come from “the East.” True to the genre of Western daytime soap operas, his exact origins are never made any clearer than that, and his dark skin and mysterious unnamed place of origin serve to make the character seem exotic and slightly “other-worldly” within the insular world our characters inhabit. To enhance this image, the Webmaster lives in a little hut in the forest a few miles out of town, keeps owls, and takes an interest in all sorts of mysterious practices, including Pilates and astrology. Thus his appearances in the storyline occur when it’s necessary to save a character who can’t be taken to a conventional hospital for some complicated reason, or to give the viewer a hint of some disaster that is about to befall one of the characters.

Webmaster tools the crystal ball used by the Webmaster as an aid to fortelling the future. Other tools include astrological charts, the weather report, Yahoo Answers, and Siri.

 

A crystal ball - one of the Webmaster's tools for predicting the future

A crystal ball – one of the Webmaster’s tools for predicting the future

Algorithms: Algorithms is the chilled-out bar where the main characters frequently hang out, grab a few drinks, and hatch their plans. Algorithms has been the site of a number of significant moments in the show, for example, the engagement party for Site and Page, where Site’s third cousin-once-removed, Hierarchical Link, drank one too many Bacardi and Cokes and tells Site that she is not really Page’s mother, as everyone has believed to that point, leaving Site to work out for himself who Page’s mother really is, an investigation that is the main focus for the next 2 seasons of high-rating episodes. One of the most popular storylines so far was in Season 2, when Site and Page Rankings were holed up in the Algorithms bar for a month, living on nothing but peanuts and ouzo, while a gang of bikies held the bar under seige. (see below.)

Crawlers: a gang of bikies who have connections with some unsavoury characters living in Sitemap. They hold a grudge against SEO and the entire Rankings family, for reasons yet to be revealed, and feature in some of the most popular story lines, for example in Season 3, when they kidnap Page Rankings and keep her locked in an old deserted schoolhouse for weeks, while Site Rankings and the local police chief follow false leads in their attempt to rescue her, and in Season 2, when they take over Algorithms and hold Page and Site hostage inside it for more than a month. (see above.)

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Well dear readers, that is where our lesson in SEO for beginners ends for today. I hope this will help next time you come across any of the terms above. Hopefully now, you will be able to read with more interest, rather than tuning out, because as you read, you will be wondering, who really is Page Rankings mother, and what is real secret behind the grudge the Crawlers hold against the Rankings family?

To find out all of this and more you will have to stay tuned until Season 17.

 

Pics:

Al Capone: Pinterest

Crystal ball: Phoenix Orion

 

The (pop-eyed) Lady with the Ermine

This post is inspired by the Daily Post weekly photography challenge: Eye Spy

The Mona Lisa, taken while shopping in downtown Florence, 2013

The Lady With The Ermine, spotted shopping in downtown Florence, 2013

 

She was so bummed out. For years, centuries in fact, she’d done nothing but hang on the walls of the  Czartoryski Museum,  and seen nothing but the people that would take tours through the museum, stopping to gape at her as they went by.  A bunch of sycophants, they were, ogling and taking photos, sometimes even leaving the flash on their camera on, despite the warning signs written in Polish, French and English. A girl had no privacy, being gawked at 24/7.

She felt trapped by the smallness of her surroundings. She was bored with her company, all of whom were early Renaissance characters like herself, trapped in paintings on the walls around her. There were also a few statues from the same period, and some ceramic vases, but that was not enough to keep things interesting after all this time. She wanted to get out to the wider world, travel, see other places, meet other people, do what normal people of her age do. At the very least, it would be a thrill to get to the next room, which held the allure of modernity because of the Rembrandts that resided there. She was intensely curious to see if those guys were as cool as she’d heard.

To top it all off, she’d always felt a bit homesick in Poland. She’d been created in Italy, by none other than Leonardo da Vinci himself, and the status of her lofty provenance did not escape her attention. She felt that it was below her station to be stuck in Krakow, where the gallery attendants and curators spoke a language that sounded harsh to her ears. She longed to once again see the cobble-stoned streets of Florence, hear the bells ring in the tower of the Duomo, and hear the people around her speaking in her beloved Italian.

So when a whisper went around the gallery about a new product on the blackmarket that a painting could use to teleport themselves out of the Museum, she was one of the first to sign up for it. There were a lot of risks involved, she heard – the product was still in the Beta testing stage, and it was a one-use-only device, so wherever you landed you’d be staying – but she was not one to let caution get in the way. This might be her only chance, and hesitation could sentence her to another couple of hundred years stuck on the walls in Krakow.

When her teleporter arrived, she had no hesitation. Take me to Florence, she demanded of the voice-controlled device.

Well, it did indeed teleport her straight to Florence, to an outdoor setting with a view of a street market – but it was not the Florence she had been imagining. It looked alien to her. Women were walking freely in the streets, unaccompanied by men, their heads uncovered, and wearing garb somewhat like the hosiery worn by men in her memory. Both men and women wore the same kind of pantaloons, which were plain and drab, cut straight with no adornment, and mostly made of a thick, blue material that she could not identify. Some women even walked about the street with their hair cut short and no wig to disguise it! There were no horses on the streets, but some frightening compartments that carried one or two people, sometimes more, and moved past on wheels, making a loud noise.

She noticed that everywhere they went, men, women and even children all carried little devices with them, which they frequently consulted, stared into, or talked into. She could not place what these devices were but surmised that perhaps they were a variety of teleporter, that the users were staring into, in the hopes of getting away from this place.

People spoke mostly Italian, but their use of Italian was vastly different to the language as she was familiar with it. When she caught snippets of conversation from passers-by, many of the words made no sense to her at all – she could not contexualise the strange use of words like spread-sheet, search engine optimisation, twenty four seven, or brand loyalty.

She had gained her longed-for freedom, but she found that it was not all what she had expected. Being hung on an outdoor wall in a street meant that she was just part of the incidental scenery, not something people came on tours to see. People took less notice of her, indeed many took no notice of her at all, which afforded her more privacy, but caused a dent in her self-esteem. She started to feel isolated in quite a different way, and found herself questioning the value of her existence in the world as an artwork. As an artwork, she was created to be looked at, admired and pondered over, and if no-one was looking at her, then she performed no function at all. Her life began to feel meaningless.

All in all, she was more miserable with the surroundings that she found herself in now. What version of Florence this was, she did not know, but if she ever got the chance to get another teleporter, she would leave this place quick smart.

She mused over this desire frequently, and was musing over it again one afternoon when a group of young people came right up to her, laughing and joking amongst themselves, and jostling one another around. They were carrying equipment that she could not identify, and suddenly one of them – she could not tell whether male or female – glued two orange circles on the glass panel right over where her eyes were. They all laughed heartily at this, and stood back to admire her persecutor’s handywork, and then they all went merrily on their way.

Now on top of everything else, she couldn’t see anything except at the peripheries of her vision.

She thought about her previous view, a clear view, from a position high on the walls of the museum, over the adoring crowds below her. She even thought fondly of the little signs everywhere, warning visitors not to touch the art. Tears welled in her eyes, but they were hidden from view by the orange circles. No-one was looking at her anyway.

Laundering at night (a poem)

Standing on a chair outside

hanging laundry in the dark

pillowcases fall like snowflakes

 into the succulents below.

*

Reaching down to retrieve them

I think to myself:

“drinking wine and then standing on a chair in the dark to peg out laundry

is really a little bit silly.”

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(The incriminating pillowcase was quickly removed from the succulents and hung on the line.)

 

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