“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





23 December 2016


Professor Marcia Langton ... photo National Portrait Gallery

Dreams to end a total bastard of a year with a glimmer of some vital ethical intellectual revival

Having woken to the news that Marcia Langton and Dave Graney were the new chairholder and managing director installed to save and restore what had degraded to become The Australian's Bogan Commission and that all the refugees tortured in our Gulags were coming to live here, with love, pronto, I would bung on some Thomas Bloch playing Benjamin Franklin's glass armonica: music as magical and ice-pure as the snow in the Exmess myth. 

Dave Graney, from his blog

I'd start with Bloch, or even better, William Zeitler playing his arrangement of Tchaikowsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy on the glasses with a bass clarinet and a harp massaging the silences: it eases its dainty calm into the mind like a real slow sunrise. 

In the fridge would be the big bowl of ripe clingstone peaches I'd peeled and sliced the night before and left to soak in a whole bottle of Oakridge Blanc de Blanc 2012 fizz with half a cup of kirsch. I would take from the freezer the sorbet I'd made from Jansz methode Tasmanoise Rosé and put a goodly scoop of that atop a serve of said peaches and deliver them back to Sheba still a-slumber in the royal cot with a bloody great tumbler of Krug Clos Du Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 2003.

this bed or that; doesn't really matter ... you waste a lot less space in this one on the veranda at George's seven star in the Flinders ... late correction: make that seventy skrillion stars

All the caffeine required would be an espresso castrato - smaller and even more concentrated than a ristretto: all you get is the squeak. 

Then I'd nuzzle in there and have another wee snooze until that soupçon of coffee kicked in.

You know that precious piece of downy neck just below the ear? I'd put my greedy hooter in that blessed scented hollow and breath myself to heaven.

About elevenish it'd be one thin slice of rye toast with a fold of smoked salmon and some tiny capers in sour cream and a sprig of fennel. 

Before we moved to some Vivaldi Glorias in the sonic division I'd  bang on a dash of news on the new ABC to hear that the Abturn Bullbott mob has resigned and Pat Dodson is the Governor-general of the new republic. 

To hear Senator Pat Dodson's maiden speech in the Australian parliament click here

They will have dumped the dumb old bully-boy two party adversarial system in favour of a place where there's no goddam fence to keep us out and people actually discuss and debate the tricky issues at hand.

Just like grown-ups.

The Langton-Graney regime by then will have adapted the new ABC factchecker division to monitor every word our representatives utter in search of your actual, well, truth, the results of which anybody will get on their cobweb devices, like as immediate as can be.

Tractor drivers growing and harvesting the nation's food would hear this live on the renewed Radio National AM and shortwave wireless show without downloading fucking podcast nonsense or carrying a great TV screen around on their shoulders on the harvester to hear the digital ones and zeroes.

The parliament will have been moved to Alice Springs, the fresh national capital.

We'd have a new flag: deep blue sky with the Seven Sisters replacing the Crux Australis in the top half; red Uluru smack-bang in the middle and a bottom half of a colour somebody who can see colour chooses, maybe with some speckles to reflect the lively desert. I'd leave that to the Papunya ladies. The graphics on the new nanofibre flag will change according to one's location, mood or direction.

A cherry or two would fit nicely in there before the godchildren and nephews and nieces and all their kids arrive to fill the joint with chaotic glee and laughter.

Speaking of joints, I'd roll a racehorse special and share it with Her Maj somewhere out the back. Then lunch would be cool crudites and some cold smoked leveret and a glass of my landlord's Yangarra Roussanne, after which the kids would peel open their gifts: a ukelele with a Snark tuner, a Lee Oskar blues harp and a good book for each of em.

You'd turn the other music off about now while they learn how the Snark works. Don't let em unwrap the harmonicas til they all get home.

As the arvo creeps across it'd be thin slices of pink steak and horseradish with a '71 St Henri from a magnum so there's enough for all the peerie bairns to have a wee educative sip and a nice lie down.

Auntie Tilly would then produce her proper Exmess cake and I'd use that as the best possible excuse to open that '27 Warre's vintage port that's been winking at me for 45 years and put it up with a ripe Stilton or Blue Wensleydale and a spoon.

By then it'd be time to pull out the old Gibson and set back on the randa with Kelly Menhenett, Mick Wordley, Joe Manning and The Yearlings and work our way through stuff we'd all written: take it in turns; one song at a time while we finish that magnum. If it's done, it'd be the perfect opportunity to pop the cap on that last bottle of the Wendouree Cabernet 2013, the most mind-blowing Australian red of recent years. Which I daren't review, on account of presenting Lita and Tony Brady a gift on the occasion of their Wendouree temple's 100th vintage nearly seventeen years ago.

photo Doug Govan

The gift? I promised never ever to mention Wendouree again in the newspaper. Their response was perhaps the most gratifying I've ever had in exchange for giving something away. No other winemakers short of abject criminals have shown such savour at a guarantee of privacy and a future of no grovelling nonsense in the press.

Years later, when the dying newspapers were bearing their dry ribs to the final desert sun, I asked Brady if it were appropriate to mention his business on the new gadget called The Internet.

He drew a breath, cast his keen gaze at an horizon only he could see, and said "Well Philip, you would be the best man to make that decision."

Tony Brady at the door of the meditation/retreat/slumber chamber in the new toilet block he built at Wendouree ... photo Philip White 

A snooze would then be appropriate while the guests and rug rabbits wended  their way through the roos and koalas back down the old dirt track to what they call civilisation.

That next calm slumber would fall heavy but soft and velvet, like a musk and lavendar-scented proscenium curtain.

Ooooh. Eeeew.

A lazy olive might be the thing to savour if wakefulness intrudes: a bowl of those tiny Koroneiki jobs that Coriole grows. You'd hardly be hungry for more substantial solids.

Proby nothing else would be needed then but a little more cot. Lie back and hear that the powers that were had banned forever the manufacture and sale of all war machinery and equipment, weapons and whatnot. All that lucrative evil.

Anybody in a uniform or a business suit with a haircut goes to settle Mars. Leaving the rest of us to fix this vile mess they left us.

I'm sure we can do it. We must do it. 

Mars will deal with them in his own sweet way.

from our book Evidence of Vineyards on Mars 

So have a very merry thing youse lovelies. You are my brethren. Folks who can read your actual language are a precious and increasingly scarce treasure. 

Thankyou for the gift of your attention for another troubled twelvemonth.

What an utter bastard it's been.

A year of exceptionally lucky encounters and friendships, standing in sharp and awful contrast to what's happening everywhere else.

On the condition that you never ever drive with a gutful I promise to continue writing sentences long enough to require a comma or two, especially if you also guarantee you'll read something bright to a littley every day of your life.

And I'll dream forever of a paycheck with least one comma in it.

Which leaves me to get outa here and go looking for the Sheba. There must be one out there somewhere. I can hear her breathing.

this page is from a real old notepad but it seems a fair summary of that year this old Earth just endured ... photo Philip White 

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