Speaker by Various Artists

Simple pleasures

by Mark Graham

Deadline looms on the mag, so my day consists of chasing up ads booked, chasing up ads yet to be booked, chasing along editorial in the studio being laid up, chasing up editorial yet to be written, cleaning up the mailing list, co-ordinating with the printer, terrorising the sales team, conducting PC skills seminars with techno-illiterate staff, avoiding the database as much as possible and trying to find time to get some exercise in, walk my dog and spend time with my wife loving her.

In short -- like most people’s day. Things disappear into banal routine while I try to sort out outstanding events from the past couple of days -- without whingeing. I’ve discovered it’s incredibly difficult to remember specifics that have a positive feel to them.

There’s my ‘treat from Trinity’ Monday afternoon (Trinity is the Parnell café I frequent) -- lemon tart: unexpected, free and delightful (thanks Kimberly!). There’s the night I spent with Shelley Monday night. Zipping home with a 10kg bag of pine offcuts balanced precariously and dangerously on my lap on the Vespa, groceries and vino hanging off the carry hook on the front of the seat, cursing at meandering drivers along Jervois Rd (all the while pretending to be Italian), early for a change, and in time to cook dinner -- baked snapper fillet with oven roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic and onions liberally splashed with olive oil -- first fire of the season roaring, glass of wine ready, foot rubs and canoodling on the couch watching TV and the latest episode of 24. Perfect.

We bumped into Sue, our elderly next door neighbour, as we walked up to the dairy to get milk for coffee the next morning. Her husband of 40-odd years died recently of cancer. She’s selling up, moving on. Going to the Gold Coast to live her last days in the warmth amongst fat, bad-taste Australians (isn’t it all Sylvania Waters up there?). As we continued on, both Shelley and I had a flash into a future where one of us was left lingering after the other had gone. We stopped and held each other, our eyes welling with tears, and resolved to die within minutes of each other, holding hands. It was an intensely and pleasurably melancholic moment.

There’s Scooter, my dog, my second-best girl, though number one won’t chase sticks like Scoot (so-named before the Vespa arrived). There’s such unadulterated joy in being welcomed home by your dog, watching her skipping in unrestrained happiness. She chases sticks with enthusiasm -- literally bouncing like Tigger as she reaches them, pounds over the mudflats at Garnet Rd with abandon -- tide in or out.

The conversation on favourite movies this afternoon was another dose of pleasure. Finding another soul who enjoys film and can compare notes on Peter Greenaway, the Coen Brothers, et al. This, I believe, goes to the heart of the human condition. Not talking about movies but finding common ground with another being -- taking us out of our solipsistic perspective.

I must admit, ironically after the previous paragraph, to being thoroughly pleased with getting the Star Trek joke thrown out into the meeting and riffing off it while almost everyone else looked lost and bemused. Nothing like being in on the joke (boosts my natural feeling of superiority -- at least until I become the butt of something I’m NOT a part of... Hubris always swings into an ego-slam), but of course, is completely at odds with the shared experience thing. Go figure.

There’s the smell of fresh coffee wafting into the bathroom as I step out of the shower in the morning. The brief thrill of pretending with Shelley that we could call in sick and play in the city all day, visiting art galleries, going to the movies, shopping and drinking... coffee, wines, beers... whatever’s going.

But, no. We look at each other and laugh and kiss and say our goodbyes. Till the fire, the sofa, Scooter and home tonight.