Buying a minute’s peace from Prince

Out the back, courtyard, 68 Cleveland Street. Ten to five in the evening, fading light, unseasonally warm. Someone next door is hacking something with a saw. Thrum – shush – of cars on Cleveland Street. Buying a minute from Prince – a minute’s peace – by doling out a drop of my tea milk. I poured it into his light blue plastic bowl. I have just bought him a royal purple collar and bell. “That’s going to drive you nuts,” I said. But 20 minutes into the experience he’s not all that perturbed. I’m very happy to see him. He looks very fat. He has a lot of people feeding him. Laneway Richard, who I haven’t met, knows Prince. Now we are sitting side by side on the outdoor furniture.

First stop Blues Cafe and there’s Julia in a corner. We tore ourselves from the instant D&M (that’s Deep and Meaningful) to watch the Winter Magic parade from time to time from the doorway of the cafe. Promenading up adn down the main drag, stalls, hippie clothing … I’ll know how to dress next year. Met up with Julia’s friend Ray in his 1970s nylon suit, met up with Michelle who announced her name is now Tyswan. Later in the evening, soup back at Julia’s. Before that, The Godmen. I took a photo of the pink-clad lead singer. I danced, Julia sat it out to one side on a milk crate. Drumming in the evening, African drumming, costumes, dance, all by middle-class white people. Julia and I danced and danced to the drummers along with everyone else including small children on fathers’ shoulders. Met up with Bob and Billy for a moment.

Cold at Julia’s overnight. The quilt slid off overnight.

Back to Blues again for breakfast. Bacon and eggs, huge meal. Capuccino. That’s two capuccinos over that weekend, a real violation of my no-coffee rule.

Then a walk down to 11 Sherman Street to A and M’s place. A walk to the landslide. Julia had bought one dollar Disney bubbles from teh two dollar shop. She blew them all the way on the walk. Bubbles against blue sky. Bubbles floating down to be burst on leaves and twigs. Bubbles against picture-postcard views of mountains. Bubbles to greet other bushwalkers, some delighted, some slightly irritated by the invasion. Back up those stairs. Really, really hard work. Falling behind. Tea and freshly made bread and Shiva the cat back at the house. We read Neruda aloud. We’d say: “Anudder Neruda.” A poem about cats, about a panther, about socks (my fave) and watermelon.

To bed early.

Silence. Deep, deep, deep utter silence. Itchy from being so sweaty and dirty, hadn’t had a shower. Took all my clothes off, hoping this would be less itchy. Trying to sleep in the absolute dark and silence. It was like being suspended in outer space, no reference points. Hard to sleep without the city thrum. Like it must be in a floatation tank. Brought right up against oneself. Too much. Could I live in Katoomba and go to bed in such blackness and silence?

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