Ephemera and whimsy
"When I get called a poetess, it makes me feel like becoming a terroristess" (Adrienne Rich, allegedly)
I wrote this, jetlagged and home sick, a few days after I moved to the UK. Today is again labour day in Melbourne, or Moomba as we thought the day was called.
It's the beginning of time, sometime in the mid to late 60s, early Autumn in Melbourne Australia. It is Moomba, a parade of floats and marching bands and drum majorettes and clowns. A Melbourne tradition. It is a hot day and, like previous Moombas, I have thrown up. A family tradition.
But I am feeling better now. My father takes me back out to see the parade, which remarkably is still going. My brothers are with my mother somewhere. My long hair is probably tied into two pigtails. I'd be wearing a pretty dress, I guess, with perhaps a cardigan, ankle socks and black patent shoes. I am definitely wearing a hat, with a ribbon hanging down the back and a brim failing in its duty to keep the sun off my head. An image of chubby legged innocence.
My father holds me at his shoulder, as we wait in the shade for the rest of the family. We are back from the road, but my vantage point gives me a good view of the parade. I watch the floats go by.
Then I see them. My favourites. I wave, furiously. Maybe I take my hat off and wave with that. One of them sees me, and nudges the other. They are both smiling and waving. At me. "We'll have to tell the boys about this," says my father.
A quintessence of childhood, preserved in amber. Last night I watched that golden ball of memories - of me - slip from my hands and tumble slowly towards the ground. It hasn't quite struck yet, but when it does, it will disintegrate. For my favourites were Zig and Zag the icecream clowns, and last night l was told that they won't be at Moomba this year, because Zig has a conviction for sexually molesting a child, his granddaughter. Her pain I cannot imagine, but even my sense of loss is palpable.
12 months ago the Prof and I were in Melbourne for 5 days and watched the labour day parade. We were horribly jet lagged (like you) but enjoyed the floats as we stood by Hamer Hall (I think) on the Yarra River bank.
I hope this photo (taken a couple of days later) doesn't make you feel homesick
Ha ha - yes we are enjoying it. She’s mumbling something about hitting you over the head with her zimmer frame. She also sends a big thanks (in anticipation of receiving your present). For some reason she’s blowing you a kiss.