Close to the Bone – chapter 3

Chapter 3 of Suzy’s autobiography Close to the Bone is now formatted and uploaded. I’ve broken each of the three chapters to date into smaller, bite-sized chunks so they’re much more manageable for Internet reading.

I suspect I won’t be blogging much myself until I finish loading Suzy’s book, because the correcting and formatting is taking up all my blogging time. But it’s worth it I think, as I hope you’ll agree if you take the time to read it. Here’s a short sample from chapter 3:

Des is doing well at work, and now that he’s held down the same job for nearly a year, reckons he has his manic depression beat. I hope he’s right. It’s true that Des is usually in a good mood and always keen to get ahead. That’s why he’s put together a dance band to play at the R.S.L. Club of a Saturday night.

The club house is a building left after the war, one of the few not bombed to smithereens – apart from the Darwin hotel which the Japs planned to use as their headquarter for North Australia. The club is set up high on dozens of concrete pillars with beer bottles and cans strewn about underneath in the mud. Inside the floors are splintery and rusty fans clank noisily above our heads. Louvres run right to the floor so the music flows out into the night, while the screech of car tyres, shrieks of laugher from Aboriginal girls, and the swearing of the town drunks wafts in.

Des’s musicians are a married couple.

Linda, the wife, comes from the Torres Straits, a little island somewhere on the way to New Guinea. She’s large and cheerful with a mop of fussy hair tamed, with the help of dozens of bobby pins, into a bee-hive. Linda stands, centre stage, swaying to the rhythm in some odd version of the hoola – grinning, all perfect white teeth in her coal black face. A tent sized mu-mu – hot orange and pink, accenting the contours of her big, round belly. Linda is great on the Hawaiian guitar, but when her tuneless, high-pitched voice soars over Des’s nasal one in songs about wedding bands, faithless women and broken hearts it’s torture to our ears.

Linda’s husband, a swarthy-looking Czechoslovakian with an amazing flair for the electric base, hides back in the shadows. This suits Des because his leadership of the band is never questioned.

The band strikes up and I’m left to the mercy of roving drunks. One by one they stagger over to claim me for a dance. Bored, I give in to a man who looks to be holding his liquor better than most. We whirl around and around, with me gripped tight against his middle-aged beer-belly, so it’s hard to take a glimpse at Des.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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