“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)





13 July 2017


My old mate Chris Cust visited today. He has just clicked seventy laps of the Sun. He painted that portrait of my dead brother Andrew looking out from the back of his hat. I think he's still the only westerner to be invited to paint backdrops for the Noh Theatre, which has run since the 14th century in Japan. 

Chris is a TPI Vietnam veteran whose current artwork is the settlers' cottage and garden he constantly retunes. 

Like Andrew and me, Chris is colourblind. He has to get help from a whatever you call em person with a Pantone chart to mix his colours. Andrew collected sheep ear tags from many stations he worked on and got a person who could do it to rank them in the colours of the rainbow, in order, to help with a reference should he have to talk colour in the bush. 

He was a bushman wise well beyond his years at nineteen. Here he is at the tailings dumps at Radium Hill, beside Devonborough Downs, the station he managed. He was always out there somewhere a day's drive north in the bush, ready to save me when society collapsed.

Andrew could survive in the desert. He had learned to find water.

He never came to town without a bag full of special snakes for the zoo and a whole mob of undescribed mosses for the Botanic Gardens and the Museum. He spent a lot of time lying on his stomach looking into cracks in the rocks with his pocket microscope.

He could always find a place in some little ordinary-looking gully where a cannabis plant would grow. He had a pet wedgie called Wolfgang. Wolfgang could come and go at will through the bedroom window.

This is the time of year when I remember Andrew's death with my beloved cousin Jennifer in a car crash on their way to our grandmother's funeral. Holy gothic fucking shit that was.

Two of my brothers, Stephen and Paul, somehow survived that prang. 

They got t-boned at Edenhope. Terry Plane helped me.

And here is the Chris, contemplating. Many have much to remember.

1 comment:

Sam Powrie said...

Phillip, Many thanks this reminder of a few hours one summer afternoon I spent in the Mannahill Hotel bar with Andrew. Talking rabbits, sheep and diamond prospecting I think. Only song on the jukebox (that would play) was 'Because the Night' by Patty Smith. Geophysics all day and rabbit stew every night for 6 or 7 weeks 'cause of the drought. Must have been close to the end of '78 maybe. I remember the hat and the coloured ear tags very clearly! And Andrew's cheery face and conversation. Didn't know of his (or your) chromatic otherness. Humans are mysteries eh, especially to ourselves. I suspect that we are all very blessed to be here despite travails and the memories of youth. In fact youth seems to be when we are truly wisest, so remembering it all - despite the pains of experience - seems something to be thankful for too. It's a beautiful painting! love, Sam.