Five Bells

When homesickness eats at me I listen to podcasts. I listen to news broadcasts, talk shows, shows about sport, science, design, culture. I don’t care just as long as I’m hearing voices from home.

One of the my favourites is The Book Show1. Ramona Koval’s voice and sense of humour soothe me and the range of coverage is excellent: old books, new books, local books, o.s. books, books in translation, poetry, essays etc. etc.2

Last week was all poetry. They looked at five classic Oz poems. Beginning with one of my favourites, “Five Bells” By Kenneth Slessor:

    Time that is moved by little fidget wheels
    Is not my time, the flood that does not flow.
    Between the double and the single bell
    Of a ship’s hour, between a round of bells
    From the dark warship riding there below,
    I have lived many lives, and this one life
    Of Joe, long dead, who lives between five bells.

The reading by Robert Menzies was gorgeous and the people commenting on it were smart and insightful. I first read “Five Bells” in high school, but I feel like I never really understood it until I listened to that show. Beautiful.

Made me wish I was back home because the Sydney he describes, the harbour he describes, I know it well and I miss it so much:

I looked out my window in the dark
At waves with diamond quills and combs of light
That arched their mackerel-backs and smacked the sand
In the moon’s drench, that straight enormous glaze,
And ships far off asleep, and Harbour-buoys
Tossing their fireballs wearily each to each,
And tried to hear your voice, but all I heard
Was a boat’s whistle, and the scraping squeal
Of seabirds’ voices far away, and bells,
Five bells. Five bells coldly ringing out.
Five bells.

Someone asked me what was the last thing I read that made me cry? At the time I couldn’t think of anything but I have an answer now: “Five Bells.”

  1. Which I can’t help thinking of by it’s old name,”Books & Writing” []
  2. Though it’d be nice if there was more YA coverage. I keep waiting for the show devoted to all the Oz YA writers storming the world: Sonya Hartnett, Margo Lanagan, Jaclyn Moriarty, Garth Nix, Marcus Zusak and so on and so forth. We are hot overseas, Book Show, honestly we are. Between us we’ve sold in more than thirty countries! Won prizes all over the place. You need to notice this world domination! []

Back in Sydney town

My dad continues to send me photos from home. These two are taken from Bicentennial Park which is just round the corner from my parents’ house:

Yes, that’s the Harbour Bridge in the background there—that teeny arch.

I loves me some Rozelle and Blackwattle Bay . . .

Homesick, me? Don’t be ridiculous.

Polls (Updated a lot)

So that I can better get to know what you, the reader, thinks, I have added a poll thingie to the sidebar.1

The first poll is about winter because I need to know if the total darkness before 5PM and constant cold and the only decent fruit & veg being apples and pumpkin is bumming out anyone other than me.2 Tell me I am not alone!

That it’s December and I’m still stuck in the Northern hemisphere fills my soul with despair.

Here have some more quokkas:

Lucky quokkas living far away in sunshine and warmth. Oh, how I envy them!

More sunshine & quokkas. Look what the peoples wear! Lucky, lucky bastards.

Okay, that didn’t make it warmer or lighter or less depressing here . . .

Update: I have just learned that creating a new poll instantly replaces the old one. I’d planned to leave the winter poll up for awhile but I done killed it. Thus there is a new poll, which I will not tinker with until next Sunday. This is my punishment for futzing about with the blog3 when I should be nosegrinding towards my deadline. I am bad.

Update 2: I don’t even know how I broke the poll this time. I am turning the internets off and stapling myself to the grindstone.

Update 3: Stupid poll software. I kick it.

  1. This was in no way a work avoidance measure. It is serious research! []
  2. I should be clear: it’s only Northern hemisphere winters I hate. Sydney winters are lovely. []
  3. I also added blog stats (Look! I done writed almost 250,000 words of posts! Fortunately that is still less than my published words. Phew!) and a tag cloud []

Not home

I so wish I was back home right now. I’d get to follow the cricket and the election. It would be warm. The sun wouldn’t be setting just a few hours after it rose. No one would be asking me about my accent. People would know that Errol Flynn is Australian. I’m sick of being a foreignor. Back home I don’t have to explain myself nearly so often. I can’t tell you how tiring it gets.

If I was in Sydney right now I would go for a long walk. I’d hear flying foxes in the trees. I’d smell all the night flowering plants. I’d watch the light sparkling on the harbour. I’d be HOME. And I’d go to Forbes & Burton for breakfast. I miss you, Adrian! I miss all my friends and family back home.

Where do you wish you were right now?