One of my favourite writers, Bill Bryson was starting his weekly column when his wife happened past and noted the beginnings on his screen.
"Bitch, bitch, bitch", she said.
"What was that my dewy English rose?", Bill replied.
"All you do in that column is complain", she said.
"Well", said Bill, "I'm a columnist, that's what I do."
Is that what we columnists do?
I have checked my previous three posts and it does indeed seem that all I do is complain, so I have included this picture of me checking the surf at the Pass this morn to remind myself as much as anyone that it's not all bad up here.
Now on to the complaining.
A few years back I was between dwellings and in desperation took a room in a share house here in Byron.
It wasn't the standard setup I remembered from my uni days where all those living there would get together and interview prospective housemates.
This place was a run by a manager and he would just plonk people in as he saw fit.
Thus I would come home and there would be some bogan sitting on the couch shooting his mouth off before I'd even sat down and I realised with a sinking heart that I was sharing my living space with them for the forseeable future.
I did my writing in a school exercise book at this time and one evening one of his friends asked me why I was always writing in this book.
"I want to be a writer", I said.
"WHY?!", he responded.
I think, like Bridget Jones and almost everyone else who wished to be a writer, I was in love with the perceived lifestyle.
Writing for a couple of hours each day in a sunlit studio with terracotta pot plants on my desk, leaving each lunchtime to be feted at literary lunches whilst consuming vast quantities of red wine and delivering rapier-sharp bon mots to an audience breathlessly grateful that I allowed my countenance to shine on them from on high.
Of course the reality is somewhat at variance.
The first thing you've got to do is WRITE SOMETHING.
I once completed a manuscript, 220 odd pages, 60,000 odd words.
When finished I thought in my massive, massive ignorance that the hard part was done.
I contacted a publishing house in Sydney and they told me they only take manuscripts from literary agents, unknown authors can fuck off.
Actually they didn't say that but the message was implicit.
So I got out the Yellow Pages and found there were three literary agents in Sydney.
I rang the first and they said "we don't take manuscripts unless you've already been published."
So I gave up on the idea and have only begun to revisit it here in the new fangled age of electronic publishing.
So the question remains 'Why do I want to be a writer?', and I think the answer is that I want a forum to complain loudly and longly about the fucking wankers that tick me off on a regular basis.
First cab off the rank is a cyclist I almost ran over on Monday this week.
Those who recall a previous post of mine, "Please don't walk on the f@#*ing road", may be getting apprehensive, but I can assure you that testy though I get, deliberately running someone down is not on my agenda.
Anyway, I wasn't having a good day, I was quite depressed for no reason I could nail down.
I haven't had alcohol since New Year, I haven't had pot for nearly five years and Monday was my day off, even then my main work is as a gardener which I enjoy, so there was no logical reason to be down.
Yet I was, and I think this is probably the best sign of clinical depression.
When there is a reason, e.g a death of someone close, a sad book or movie, trouble at work, then feeling down is logical.
This amorphous black cloud that descends has no logic to it at all.Anyway, I went for a surf and it was as I was looking for a parking spot afterward that this eternal nob end entered my life.
I spotted a park and ducked in and as I was ferreting about getting my stuff together to go to the shops, I noticed a cyclist staring fixedly through the windshield at me.
I got my wallet, phone and shopping bags, then stepped out of the car.
"Why don't you watch where you're going?", said the cyclist, "you almost ran me over".
Now all my life I've felt I was a coward, this largely stems from the abuse I suffered at the hands of my parents, I won't go into that here, but thanks to good therapy, I am getting over it and these days I am learning to assert myself.
"Oh yeah", I replied, "well you're not wearing a helmet you fucking wanker, so don't talk to me about road rules."
He was shocked.
I feel the essence of road rage is that each person believes they are 100% right and cannot believe for a fleeting nanosecond that the other person can possibly believe, on this or any other planet, that there is the remotest possibility that THEY ARE IN THE RIGHT!
Anyway, he then began edging away from me and left.
I gathered my stuff went shopping and then home to read and relax.
My heart was racing, my hands were shaking and the adrenalin coursed through my system for some time, but I was glad I asserted myself and didn't back down mumbling and stewed on it for days.
What's more, I think he sensed I did a blog with literally tens of readers and so I would get to tell the net my side of the story and he would just go home and continue to give himself RSI of the right hand.
So I'll close by bringing the 'Only in Byron' part in.
My friend Bodhi (real name Colin) pointed out that if you see a car with a 'Peace and Love' sticker on it, steer clear of it because they will be the most aggressive driver on the road.
And likewise, nowhere in this country will you meet so many aggressive, impatient road users than here in the heart of hippy country.