Today was another interesting day full of the usual highs and lows all clambouring for predominance. Glenice is writing an epistolary novel and we had arranged to attend the Trades Hall to see a Marieke Hardy 'production' where a number of famous/celebrity women read their letters to an audience. The first 'performance' was looking at the role of letter-writing in women's lives. Glenice had queued for ages but it sold out before she was even up the stairs. With recognition that this was indeed a popular event she had the foresight to pre-book for the second performance. Today. I was very much looking forward to accompanying her to the Sunday show... but hold on. TODAY???
Anzac Day. It was less the fact that it was ANZAC day and the commemorative aspects that disquieted me, but it would be the first time I had not spent the afternoon glued to the TV screen watching my beloved Collingwood FC meeting Essendon FC on the hallowed turf of the MCG. This day for me has all the theatricality and drama of an epic stage play. The veterans being driven around, the massive cheer squad banners listing the AFL players lost to wars, the last post and revelle played by the bugler in the catafalque party, the RAAF fly-overs. The most dramatic moment is the respectful silence from the 90 plus thousand spectators then the insane roar reverberating around the G at the siren and bounce. Pure theatre all the way... How would I cope without feeling a part of this special day?
Well, dear reader I coped remarkedly well. I didn't even rue the fact I did not have a small portable radio (or iphone with TV coverage) to get score updates throughout the readings and after. Driving up Eastbourne Road, Rosebud I did have a moment of regret as I saw the small groups of Peninsula Magpie Fans waiting for the McCrae bus to take them directly to their reserved seats in town.
But I am nothing if not resourceful. Knowing that Glenice's husband (Al) would be home I cheekily asked if he could record the match for me? The wonderful man said "yes". Next would be the hard part travelling to the city BY TRAIN amongst Collingwood and Essendon supporters and returning home (AGAIN ON PUBLIC TRANSPORT) after the game and trying to not discern the result and score.
So with my system in total shock that Glenice was against my driving to town, despite the torrential rain for at least 30 kilometres, I acquiessed to sit on the Frankston line train.... the express which skips all of three of the twenty-eight stations... WOW such speed and 'expressness'. Add to this the new PT operator has decided that the Frankston line patrons deserve the dirtiest, most graffitied, gloomy, run down train I have ever had the misfortune to use. This in the middle of the day with a crowded train headed off to a big occasion.
Gee do the Mount Waverly line people get trains like this? I think not.
Give the working class suburbs such shit PT because they'll trash it anyway.
Could it possibly be that if you give these same passengers a clean and comfortable modern train in bright colours, they might not feel the alienation and hostility and might just not WISH to trash the service?
Glenice could not understand how I could become so worked up over this perceived social slight and injustice. It got me onto my left-wing political hobby horse before even arriving at the Trades Hall.
Then I began to decry the fact that the AFL clubs had lost the pivotal role they played within their working class communities in the old days, and how the corporatisation and professionalism has taken something deeply spiritual and special away. I feel that we need more sociological studies into the role of the VFL teams in days gone by.
This brought me to my admiration for my colleague and fellow PhDer writing her artefact as autoethnography and exploring three generations of women and their relationship with their beloved footy team... yep, my team. Then I becme a tad sad that I no longer had such a passionate (and yes obsessive) realtionship with this team. I had once lived and breated from one Saturday to the next for the 'Pies... and here I was not paying my membership again this year, nor attending the games but watching from the comfort of my lounge room to delayed telecasts and terrible commercial network commentators. At least I do this with a glass of wine in hand.
Feeling like yet another part of my life was disconnected we arrived at the Trades Hall.
Typically, my mind swung in the opposite direction. Nothing but connections, from the days when I worked as a researcher at the Teacher's Federation of Victoria and was a member of the Kew East Labor branch.
It was comforting to sit on the (somewhat chilly) bluestone steps (finally)in the sunshine. Now if only they would open the doors so we could use the toilets! Silly me, why open the auditorium doors and sell heaps of alcohol when you can keep the audience outside with the hands in their pockets and not contributing to the day's takings? Only at Trades Hall would it be so slack in a business sense.
Well, the performance today was umbrella'd by the idea of letters to pin-ups. The oldest women reading was Age columnist, sometime ABC radio guest and stand-up, Catherine Deveney. (Oldest, gees... only in her forties). She was so honest and self-revelatory I knew we were in for a fun afternoon... but how would this work for Glenice's research?
I can say that I recognised some of the 'reader-performers'. Along with Catherine, there was Claire Bowditchan, another [pop] singer (I should remember her name but can't), Age journo Anna Krien and editor of J mag, Jenny Valentish. Unfortunately, Marieke Hardy was not present due to being stuck in Iceland.... yep the very place causing such air traffic chaos!
The letters took me back to my own pre-pubescent self with crushes on pop singers, movie stars and the like. But at interval when we were able to reflect on what we had heard, Glenice and I felt that these letters were somehow different, more like journal entries.
They did speak to us audience members as 'dear reader' but mostly they spoke from the reader herself to her younger self... a reassuring touch, saying hey you were normal after all.
The difference also, was that there was no 'intention' that the letters would draw a response, in written form. These letters remained performative communication.
What was staggering was how easily a group of women suddenly felt comfortable with each other, including an audience of virtual strangers, and for the letters to verge on the confessional. No areas were 'no-go zones'. Oh I forgot there were a couple of halts to discussion when it was pointed out that the perforamce was being video'd which could bring the threat of defamation should excess sway the day!
It was like one great big sleep over. And yes, there were guys in the audience, but it remained a very feminised space and process.
Entertaining? Most certainly.
And at interval when we were encouraged to write to someone (they provided pens, paper, stamps and aerograms), I knew immediately I had to write to my dear friend Sue in her Mauritian jail cell. Another of those more introspective moods swung into motion again.
The whole day could be summed up as bitter sweet; swinging between highs and lows as my thoughts (rational and ranting) ebbed and flowed with the tempo of the city and people around me.
I assured Glenice that despite my shaking hands and re-entering the PT nigtmare home, it was really very good for me to face down my demons; that excess of emotion and sensory overload on all fronts.
How enjoyable also that on the train home were six effervescent 16-20 year olds full of all the vivacity of youth. After the show we had just attended I was swept back in time to my own youth. How exciting to have the world laid out ahead with all the possibilities on offer. These were the wonderful positive young people to make anyone proud. The taller older young men, wished elderly ladies "have a nice day" and generally radiated joie de vivre.
After soaking up their energy, I felt in party mode. Pity I always have to temper these reactions like a good grown up should rather than act like a typical DSP (deeply sensitive person)... but also how I miss the excesses, the raves and bright glowing highs a night in town could offer.