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Bonjour encore de Paris

I am in Paris, again.

Here sorting out last minute visa stuff.

I’m so utterly seduced by this place. Not in a teenage crush way either. I’d like to think it’s a more mature love. I know its flaws. But I love the city inside. I’m ready for her to grow old and fat and I will still see the face I love.

I just missed hawker being here last week. Its a shame, we would have been perfect, sitting around cafes, looking at the people. The obvious tourists, the girls who look so cool and would never talk to us, the baffled locals, the dodgy scamsters.

But I’ve always loved a sense of place. It seems every part of my life is pretty tied to a location. Be it King St, Newtown or Portobello Rd, I like going somewhere and feeling I’m FROM somewhere.

Paris has that is spades. How could you not feel pride if you are from here? It seems even in Barcelona, the street performers could be from anywhere, performing anywhere. Here, its a dude with a beret, a hot tall french woman, dancing to accordians. Being French is in everything they do.

I almost want to scream out my window and ask them to turn the french down. Let’s take these buildings and make them look less interesting. Let’s turn the cobblestones to asphalt. Widen the streets and put up more McDonalds. Replace the scattered rooftops with metal and glass skyscrapers.

Thank god they don’t.

They could make the place more friendly to the disabled though. Its been a semi struggle today. I’m going to relax all night. Leah found me the best hotel, high in Monmartre. I can see everything from my window. I could just stare at it, listen to the street noise and practise my french.

Most importantly, after this trip, I’ll finally know where I’ll be next year. Fingers crossed.


Chapter 26

It’s been an amazing year. On my birthday last year I had a day off. I remember a phone call I got at Belfield train station, from a great friend, laughing there on the platform, early evening in the impending Sydney summer.

It was one of my last rehearsals with the Reservations that day, and then I ran off to spend the night with someone lovely. I wrapped up my life, spent good times with my best friends, said goodbye to my family and got on a plane.

26 has been about moving. Moving country, moving on and just moving in general.

To Paris! And others…but it’s Paris that lives in my heart still. Walking around Monmartre, meeting great people. Beef bourguignon and beaujolais. Napping in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. The friends I met here who I don’t think I’ll ever get rid off.

Running in all directions in Europe, seeing Alicia is 5 different countries. Countless loss beanies, boarding passes and public transport day passes. That jumper from Barcelona I lost and I’m still heartbroken about.

Regina Spektor’s Begin to Hope has been the soundtrack to all this. Easily my most listened to record this year. Anything that my life threw up just stuck on her songs. But also a year of rediscovering rock. Arctic Monkeys. Fratellis. The Killers. Muse. Been a long time since I’ve listened to so many guitar bands.

A beautiful Christmas and a snowy London was my home. I walked through Hyde Park almost every weekend. I read The Virgin Suicides, awash with romance. Managed to borrow a copy of Leviathan, but also trying to read and see British things. And god knows how many hours I spent with my head buried in Lonely Planet guides.

Also managed to see a few gigs. My first Fountains Of Wayne experience. London Live Earth at Wembley. Muse, Wilco, the Shins, REM, Amy Rigby, Prince…even managed to see Bob Evans. But really not been doing that too much. Missed all the festivals but I’m promising myself a couple next year.

I am also so happy. I’ve met hundreds of people this year. I got a great job which I love, and the people there are fantastic. I’ve managed any challenge that came my way. Sorted out the red tape, and even survived a nasty accident. I found a great house to live in, and met many a lifelong friend.

Now I have some close friends here, both old and new. And a steady stream of foreign visitors. And also still managing to get away from London a bit too. In fact, I’m back in Paris in 3 days.

It’s amazing how I got here. I wonder what the next year will hold. I don’t feel like I’ve even found my stride in London sometimes. And next year I will go to America. I just have to. There are changes coming. People coming. People going. The cast is changing.

It’s been the best year of my life, easily. Not only have I done so many things I dreamt of doing, I’m actually struggling to think of unhappy moments. Maybe there are none. And that is amazing. Thank you everyone who shared any of it with me. Whether a few days drunk in a strange city, every weekday at a cubicle, or old friends from home who keep in touch and keep me grounded…and all in between and outside and more.

London has dialled up a rare sunny day in October. Happy birthday indeed.


You Send Me

I know I’m not the only one has ever made the bold claim that I could be happy in a country house in the middle of nowhere. As long as I had access to Amazon and the like. Being homebound, I have been putting that to the test.

The most important of which is ordering groceries online. What a world this is. Click on some sausages, some milk, some eggs. Then, select a delivery time, usually the next day, specific to the hour. Then there’s a dude knocking on the door, with all of it in shopping bags. So easy. You can even save your order. No need to remember to buy more detergent. Just save it from days before. You can even get Mojo Magazine home delivered! God bless Sainsburys.

Amazon UK has also been my friend. I’ve spent a lot of time on Amazon in the past, but it’s always been this faraway thing. Not anymore. I blew £200 before I knew it. It’s just like shopping in a store. You just browse around and pick stuff up. And again, before I knew it, a knock on the door and there you go. It’s not just CDs, but DVDs and books too. Being housebound and crippled doesn’t stop me spending (all moneys spent is justified by me not going out).

I also managed to spend a lot of money on that new iPod. Delivered straight to my door. It was so great. And I do that thing where some guy hands me a clipboard and I sign it. Very professional-like. I also like when they give you a tracking number, and you can look online at where your order is.

I’m now looking at Argos. The behemoth of Argos. You can get ANYTHING from Argos. I have my eye on some more CD shelves, a DVD player and an electric piano. How crazy is that? Can’t afford it, but I can save it to my cart.

All this made me very disappointed by the service offered by Forbidden Planet, the main sci-fi/comic book shop in London. You figured they have their home ordering sorted. But no, orders could take two weeks according to the site.

Bloody amateurs. It would take me an hour to get there on a bus. If I could get on a bus.

Although, this short lived love affair with courier deliveries may soon be over, as I am getting so much better every day. Pretty soon I’ll be hobbling around HMV in person. I can go get those comics on my own. I’m able to get by okay without the crutches. The foot is getting better. There is little strength in my legs though. Muscles need to warm up again.

Very exciting is that I have friendly visitors helping me out in the last few weeks and for the next couple of weeks. It’s been quite a ride but I know the ride is coming to an end. It’s been a good practise run for when I buy that house in Dapford, Victoria, but that little glimpse into the future is fading like the end of a movie flashback.

Goodbye to being housebound and window shopping on the web. Hello world.

Can’t hardly wait.


Computers and the new rock and roll…

I got a new iPod. Silver, lovely 160GB. And it’s finally time to retire my old one.

I was very late to the iPod. Checking my memory, I think I bought a girlfriend an iPod before I ever got one for myself. I got one just over two years ago. I’m trying to remember how I would listen to music before then. I basically carried around 20 or so CDs with me everywhere I went.

Needless to say, I’m not going back.

I like how the iPod can track what you’ve listened to over the years. It’s a pretty interesting snapshot of my listening habits.

Here are some interesting* statistics

Number of songs on it – 11,390.

That’s a hell of a lot. And I had to start culling when I ran out of room a year ago.

Number of plays since August 2005 – 54,897

Again, not counting tracks that I have since deleted off the ipod, and of course, listening to CDs and stuff which I still do.

It’s pretty much dead on two years that I’ve had this iPod so check this shit out:

Average number of songs played a day in the last two years – 75


Number of songs that have ZERO plays – 742

These are songs that have sat on the iPod that I just never got to. Or kept skipping. Poor ‘Sunday Girl’ by Blondie was added to my iPod on 16th August 2005, and has still not been able to get one little play out of me. Nothing. It’s only 3:06 long. Still, no love. Sorry Debbie.

Top Twenty Songs

Pretty easy this one. The songs that got the most plays in the last two years.

1. Romeo and Juliet – Dire Straits (42)
2. Fluorescent Adolescent – Arctic Monkeys (41)
3. Sentimental Guy – Ben Folds (41)
4. Thunder Road – Bruce Springsteen (41)
5. Don’t You Think It’s Time – Bob Evans (40)
6. Girl Sailor – The Shins (40)
7. Phantom Limb – The Shins (39)
8. Turn On Me – The Shins (38)
9. Time – Ben Folds (37)
10. Rattlesnakes – Lloyd Cole And the Commotions (37)
11. Teddy Picker – Arctic Monkeys (36)
12. Sadness & Whiskey – Bob Evans (36)
13. Read My Mind – The Killers (35)
14. No Quick Fix – Nada Surf (35)
15. Sleeping Lessons – The Shins (34)
16. Let It Go – Youth Group (33)
17. Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying – Belle And Sebastian (32)
18. Don’t Change Your Plans – Ben Folds Five (32)
19. Hey Julie – Fountains Of Wayne (32)
20. Mystifies Me – Son Volt (32)

Good to see how much new music is there. I’m not still listening to Big Star and Gram Parsons.

And I totally love every single one of those songs. Especially Romeo And Juliet. And Thunder Road. Corner me somewhere and ask me about those songs. And be ready to lose several hours of your life.

So I have my new iPod now. I’m putting the old girl away. I’m trying to think, and it’s the only thing I’ve carried with me every day for he last two years (I changed wallets this year).

It will be interesting* to see what happens in another two years.


* any claims of anything interesting is ambitious at best.

Injury (and the Blockheads)

When I decided to go travelling, this intensely personal, spiritual journey, it seemed like everyone and their dog had a travel story. Especially the great Australia to London odessey. My sister did that. My friend did that. My dog did that.

And I’m not knocking it. I loved those stories. It lead to what Casey calls Place-Dropping. We would practise imaginary Place-Dropping back home. You lost a lighter? I remember one time I was in Vienna and I lost a lighter. It’s cold? Yes, reminds me of autumns in Madrid…

You get the idea.

So the new thing is accident stories. And again I love them. Although some are painful. It seems quite a frightening amount of people I know have seriously hurt themselves in their lives. Tales of collar bones, hips, broken thumbs, broken jaws, flying over the handle bars and in one case, getting hit by a taxi, this time in New York. The recovery stories are also lovely. 3 months in bed. 3 months in hospital. 3 months hanging in the water tank Luke Skywalker was in at the end of the Empire Strikes Back.

Everyone I know has suddenly become experts in medicine. In particular, orthopedic experts. I’m hearing (and reading) perfectly normal friends of mine use words like ‘femur’ in conversation. Apparently, all bones take 5-6 weeks to heal, regardless of which one. But according to another expert, foot bones heal quite fast. Maybe I need a 22nd opinion…

So the new game now is Body-Dropping. As Debbie told me, when her uncle got sick, he decided it was from then on completely OK to talk endlessly about his body. Quite inappropriately intimately too. It’s stopped hurting to urinate. The scabs on my legs have started to peel off. There’s still heaps of dead skin from where the cast was. Want to hold my glass eye?

So for me, my hip is fine, but when I cough or sneeze, my muslces in that area naturally seize up, and it hurts like hell. Laughing is also not as fun as it used to be. I’m getting pins and needles in my left foot a lot. And yes, most of the large cuts and stuff have now scabbed off and odd, innocent-looking, new pink skin has revealed themselves.

(Body Dropping, like Place Dropping and Name Dropping, is only fun for the Dropper. But it’s so much fun.)

Which all goes to show

a) how unextraordinary my situation is, really.

b) how much sickness and injury touches our lives. I’ve spent a bit of time in hospitals, both for myself and to support friends. And none of them have been good times! And…

c) how amazing the human body really is. It really is.


Homeward Bound

I like the fact that this blog, started almost a year ago now, has gone from a travel blog, a loose philosophy blog, the inevitable music blog, a few poems and will now be an accident recovery blog.

So I’m home after my accident. I’m doing fine.

It’s day one and I’m pretty much living in my room. Nathan found a disused wheelchair in the street (we live near a hospital) and decided to bring it home. Some people questioned why, but it’s come in mighty handy today. I’m been on it, bouncing around the room. Going from the toilet (I have an ensuite, thank god), to my desk, my CD racks, my tall boy and my bed. Quite efficient really. Also, the keyboard stands Josh Pyke left at my house to look after make good handles. One sits either side of the toilet, and I can climb on them. Brilliant.

The only thing I cannot do quite right is stairs. Which means I can’t get downstairs, to the front door or the kitchen. So food is a challenge. As is opening the door for people.So I can’t even recieve couriers or mail. It’s something I hope to look at conquering this week.

But it is so good to be home. Did some work today. Replied to some emails but I’m still behind. Caught up on the news and cleaned the room a bit to give myelf more room. Talked to my folks. It’s all going to work out I think.

Me in Emergency

Above is me barrely two hours after the accident. I healthy reminder to look left and look right. And lets not forget look left again.


Such nice things

They say such nice things about people at funerals that it makes me sad to realise that I’m going to miss mine by just a few days.

– Garrison Keillor

Everyone has been so nice.

Having watched far too much Scrubs, or indeed, just pop culture, it’s weird to step into a hospital and feel cliche. You think of flowers as dorky, cards as tacky.

But they aren’t. I love everything I’ve gotten. I don’t know when I last needed my friends to show me they love me, but they certainly came through. I don’t know how to react.

It made me think of the quote above, which I only learnt two weeks ago from a girl in Krakow. And I’m glad I didn’t have to die before my friends said some nice things to me.

The medical update is as follows. I have gone from dead, to not being able to use my spine, to a fractured hip, a foot and a torn muscle in my shoulder. That leaves one limb unharmed – my right arm. Insert jokes here.

They’ve checked everything and that’s all they’ve found. They’ve looked at those three areas quite a bit and still haven’t decided on a course of action. I’m comfy and all, but I really want to know. I’m mentally preparing to kick up a stink today.

I’ve spent so much time in hospitals, but never as an adult, staying in a long period. Funny to watch the schedule. Breakfast at 8. Sheets at 9. Rounds at 10. Lunch at 1. Visitors at 3. Dinner at 6. Lights out at 10.

My parents are doing fine with everything. I have friends here and Australia helping me in all ways. Lots of people have dropped by. My nurse kids that I have a small library and chocolate shop here.

Talked to many people over the last few days. I’m feeling loved, which is the bottom line. One of the last people I talked to was Bec, my dear muffin. And it took me ages to find her, so by the time I got through to her, it felt like I was calling for the first time.

I’m good, emotionally. I’m optimistic physically. More news soon.


I got hit by a car

At 11:30pm on September 4, I was leaving work after a couple of drinks with colleagues. I walked out, a little woozy, yes, and saw my bus across the road.

The bus was blocking both lanes of northbound traffic, so when there was a break in the southbound traffic, I made a dash for it.

Unfortunately, a taxi decided to do an overtake of the bus. I smashed right into the middle of the taxi, going at 30 miles an hour, and ended up almost 10 metres from the point of impact.

I remember seeing the taxi. Just the split second before it hit me. And I had so many thoughts. How do I get out of this? This is what a car crash is going to be like. This could be the big one.

I did not black out according to others, but I can’t remember anything but being on the floor next.

Right in the middle of Kensington Church St. I was in shock. When my mind started to clear a little, I screamed. I could not move. I didn’t know where my guts were. My legs could have been in Holland Park for all I knew.

Then the pain hit. And I screamed again.

I owe it all to Gary, another cabbie and a volunteer firefighter. He made sure I kept still, got my details off me before I became totally incoherent, checked my spine and neck quickly and most importantly, he held my hand and told me it was going to be ok.

The Police and the ambulance are a blur. I remember being put in the stretcher and being taken away. I remember thinking of Batman being in an ambulance in a comic I have.

The Ambulance people later told me that they were called in for a fatal. They brought body bags.

I remember them cutting through my jeans thinking, those are good scissors to cut through denim. Even delirious, I took off my leather jacket so they wouldn’t cut that.

I was taken to St Mary’s hospital, and was strapped down hard so I could not damage anything further. My Doctor, Will, and my nurse, Lizzie, could not have treated me better.

We had to do several Xrays at the base of my spine and my neck. It looked as if there may have been fractures there. And as much as I could feel someone squeezing my foot when asked, all I could really feel was pins and needles. I totally thought I would lose my legs.

The Xrays gave me the all clear in the neck and spine department. They did find fractures in my left hip. It hurts like nothing I’ve ever felt before.

Later they discovered I broke some bones in my right foot. They put me on pain killers, and after 7 painful hours, let me out of my neck brace. I have been napping all day and in my drowsy state it feels like the neck brace is still there.

I was taken away from Emergency then and put in a bed. Today, I have been doing further Xrays before they decide on a course of action.

The problem is the hip, which destroys my motor functions below the waste. I can’t even get into a wheelchair. Also, if the damage is significant enough, they may have to operate.

I hope not. I was very silly, but I’ve been lucky so far. Very lucky. Being hit by a car front on? And no permanent scars and maybe a funny hip forever. That’s nothing.

Even my bag with my laptop, camera, glasses, ipod and all survived. Well the bag is wrecked but the insides are ok.

All my London friends have really stepped up and looked after me. I have a fresh set of pyjamas for tonight, bunch of mags, and plenty of emails wishing me the best.

I am going to be ok. Which is nothing short of extraordinary.


This Is Not A Blog Entry

I love this painting very much.

It’s by the Belgium painter René Magritte, and it’s called the Treachery Of Images. The french writing translates to ‘This Is Not A Pipe.’

We live in information overloaded times, and it’s interesting how someone like me can come across someone like René Magritte. There are two really obvious ones – The Beatles Apple logo is based on an apple from a Magritte painting, and Paul Simon wrote a wonderful song called René And Georgette Magritte And Their Dog After the War.

I love the Simon song. It is one of my favourite Paul Simon songs – and that says a lot. Just like Magritte’s work, Simon’s song is a surreal thing, but somehow very tender and sympathetic. It’s basically an imaginary story of René Magritte and his wife and dog, living in New York, dancing in hotel rooms, listening to 50s Doo Wop. Bizarre and lovely.

But the real way I cam across Magritte is this painting is used in a comic. Scott McCloud’s Reinventing Comics. In it, he uses this painting as a larger talk about art.

And that’s why I love this painting. It reminds me to not get too up my own arse when I fall in love with a song, a painting, a movie, a book, a whatever.

I mean – This Is Not A Pipe?

It’s most clearly a pipe, right?

It has many pipe like features.

Actually, it doesn’t. It’s a painting. Wikipedia tells me it’s Oil on Canvas.

Well, it’s not even Oil on Canvas. It’s a jpeg. Pixelated little lights on a computer screen. My Dad would find it hard to smoke out of this pipe. It’s pretty much light. So, ok, Magritte is right. This is most definitely not a pipe.


I like it because art is about trying to capture something. People painted huge elaborate scenes to try and capture a moment. Or a place. Or a portrait. But at the end of the day, it’s not the same. And for hundreds of years of painters saying, hey, this is what this actually looks like…well Magritte gave all that the finger.

Treachery Of Images is like someone in a movie turning to the audience and going ‘This is all a bit of bullshit, isn’t it?”

And it is. All art is bullshit. And you have to question what you learn from it. You don’t really know someone just because you listen to their songs. You don’t know an object just because you read a book on it. It’s the great lie of art. To make you think the art can represent something else.

I tried to buy a print of this when I was in Brussels. But everything is closed there on Mondays. They are also building a Magritte Museum that opens next year. So maybe they’ll buy this painting back and I’ll actually get to see it.



Its my last night of the trip. Everything is done, and as I walked back to the hotel I wandered slightly into a courtyard with pretty lights. I walked down it, via pond side resturaunts and turned back to see Ste Catherine’s Cathedral at night. I took one last photo and went home.

Kind of funny, just when I thought nothing else would happen, someone drops this scene in my lap.

In the last few days I have seen paintings, buildings, bands, comics, performers, castles, rivers, etc…all food for the soul.

I thought once that maybe I could be a great artist of some sort. Might still happen I guess, but its not for now. Right now I’m happy with the inspiration. I’m happy to be a consumer.

Talking to Brian in Prague, we discussed High Fidelity, and what a great tribute it was to guys like us. The ones without talent, but the ones that get the most out of what talent can provide. We’re the middle masses.

Back at work tomorrow. Will be posting lots of photos very soon.