Monday, 28 May 2012

Less Than Normal

I guess I quite like prostitutes. Strictly speaking I’ve nothing against them. I met one in London once just after I moved there. I was limping my first London hangover from my flat to the Kings Cross McDonalds when a girl came up and took my arm.

I was confused and sore headed.

Uhm – Hi
You look good today.

I was quite proud of myself for moving to London, it seemed like the place to make something of myself even if that something was a confused Himmler lookalike with alcoholic pretensions and a fried chicken bloodlust. So when she said I looked good my first thought was
Well damn, maybe I do.

So I said simply Thanks.

She smiled at me, a slightly wan smile that pushed the dark smudges under her eyes up a little.

So, you want to go somewhere?

I frowned.
She smiled again but it was fading now.
Somewhere -  just you and I.
Reality came into view and my mouth lost its self control.
Wait a minute, you’re a prostitute.
She hushed me.
So - do you want to go somewhere or not?
I shook my head but said thank you very politely and wished her a nice day. Before I had finished she had already turned away and slipped her hand into another chaps arm.
I met more in Cambodia. One lady was working in Cambodia to send money back to raise her son in Thailand. She cut hair, bedded English backpackers and in between time she chatted with my wife and I at the bar.  She also told us when we’d been there too long, waving us off and pointing out it was 2am and we were due to leave the next day. She had a huge smile and lovely eyes.
Last Friday night Toes wouldn’t go to sleep. She decided to change out of her pyjamas and into a purple dress she had for ballet. She found some make up and plastered her cheeks and lips in rouge and scarlet. She found some high heels that an aunt had given her and she strutted into the lounge and struck a pose.
What are you doing?
I need someone to pretend to be the customer.
She stuck one leg out again and pouted at me.
I need someone to pretend to be the customer.
What does the customer do?
She smiled
Knock at the door and I answer it. Will you be the customer Dad?
I stood, not knowing how to play this game.
C’mon Dad, knock on the door and be the customer.
Uhm – bed time darling. C’mon off to bed now.
She shouted in protest but it seemed easier than finding out what my 4 year old thought the customer did. I have since figured that she was emulating a neighbour of ours who wears bright lip stick, dresses in the style listed only as fabulous and works at the markets selling vintage clothes but on Friday night that explanation hadn’t occurred to me.
I don’t mind what the kids grow up to be though Toes Friday night career path was a shock. There are things I’d rather they weren’t of course – religious, working in real estate, loveless, addicted, bored, but beyond that? In my ideal world Bear would be a fireman (who owns a restaurant). Currently he is determined to grow up to be Thor, Iron Man and Hulk (Thors head and hammer, Hulks arms and legs and Iron Mans rocket feet and weapons). Toes would become a talented guitar playing Goth (who also owns a restaurant). The Goth side of it is to combat the deluge of pink she wears at the moment. Currently she wants to be either a mother with 2 babies, 3 on Sunday and she has a list of potential boyfriends.  
Neither the fireman or the guitar Goth are likely to happen, so here’s hoping on the restaurant. I saw an older couple in a restaurant once. The waitress asked if they had a reservation and the chap said My son owns the restaurant. He asked us to come down.
Damn I thought, that would be cool. A table was cleared and a parade of food bought out along with wine. With this image in mind I hope. Every day I hope.
Wouldn’t you be disappointed if Bear grew up gay?
The question came up with some folk over dinner not long ago and our answer was immediate.
Of course not.
But it’s such a hard life. Don’t you want them to be – well - normal?
We just want them to be happy. Anywhere, anyhow. Just happy.
Normal? An IT worker I used to know liked to be peed on by married women.  Finn, a woman I despaired working with, judged potential partners on how much they knew about Harry Potter – if you knew enough you might get to bed with her.  I never got my head around the Q&A session she must hold in the lounge – What was the name of Harry’s school? If the chap says Hogwarts he gets a flash of thigh, a kiss on the cheek. What shape scar does Harry have? If he answers a Triangle then the buttons are fastened and he’s shown the door.
It must be so hard to not be normal.
It must be harder to spend time worrying about what’s not normal. Bear and Toes have no idea about normal. There is not a whisper of racism in them (though Toes is fascinated with darker skin), there is not a hint of homophobia (though Toes and Bear both agree that adults kissing is gross be it men and men or men and women – amusingly Bear, when considering the idea of girls kissing girls said That would be cool Dad) and the only violence they have is towards beetles – Toes loves them to death, stroking the legs off of them and Bear, if you’re not watching him, likes to stamp on them. They've not been told anything is abnormal so nothing is.
My daughter is a 4 year old in heels and make up looking for a customer. Bear made a Thors Hammer out of a tissue box and tin foil at the weekend and then sat down and watched a Barbie movie with his sister.
A fireman (with a restaurant) and a Goth indie singer with a guitar (and a restaurant). That’s my ideal. It won’t happen, I know that. But the less normal they turn out the more delighted I think I’ll be – well, as long as they don’t become real estate agents.

(written while listening to the new Sigur Ros album - damn it's beautiful. Like, love, share the blog, reassuring man hugs for all)

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Story of Joe

(He’s not really called Joe, just so you know)

Joe was a very happy man, which made me wary of him. He greeted me each morning in the 2 years we worked in the same office with a wide perfect smile and a pat on the shoulder. This continued even after I told him he was a prick.

Joe was younger than me by 5 years. He was married when I was still staggering my way from bar to bra. He was healthy when I was living off of Kentucky Fried Chicken wraps. He smelt of fabric softener when I washed my clothes with dish liquid and my hair with hand soap. His hair had a wave to it, mine was Grade 1 short and, given I wore little round glasses, I looked like Heinrich Himmler. Joe looked like an Aryan poster boy.

Looking like Heinrich Himmler meant I also had a passing resemblance to Ben Elton. I bumped into Ben one night in London. I was on the shocking side of seven pints and had just been ejected from a girls lavatory where I had been doing nothing more than admiring the fact they had 2 sofas in their bathroom whereas the blokes had chipped mirrors and a homeless smell. I wove back through the bar and 3 seconds before I was firmly asked to leave I saw Ben and shouted Oi Ben, I look nothing like you you tw – . This wasn’t the Ben who wrote The Young Ones, this was the Ben who was working on We Will Rock You - the Queen musical.

Joe though, every day there he was wreathed with a smile, punctuating with back slaps and advice about finance management. He was the anti-me and I’m sad to say he made it look good. He had muscles so those back slaps hurt. He had sparkles in his eyes. He had a smile that made waitresses beam. Scowling though I knew each cigarette, each downed Guinness and each weekend lost to chemicals, orange hair and PVC trousers meant me that sooner or later I’d be something whereas he’d be just – just – good looking and fragrant.

One day Joe e mailed me. This was unusual as his part of the office had little to do with mine. I was running an IT system; he was doing filing and stationary orders. I opened the e mail through my hangover

You look down today

I mailed - Nah not really. Hangover. Nothing I can’t cough and coffee my way through.

Another mail - Do you think this is working out for you?

I squinted more than usual. I liked squinting. It’s a spaghetti western thing - What?

This lifestyle? Do you think it is working out for you?

It wasn’t really. But it was fun. I was living in London, single, earning a fortune, and the world was oyster shaped - I’m having fun, works getting done, come tonight I’ll drink another one.

Then he stopped me in my rhyming tracks.

All you do is drink and insult people. You make no one happy. This makes me sad.

I didn’t respond. I hadn't been told that before, though I have since. At the time I was genuinely shocked. My hand kept reaching toward the keyboard but I couldn’t think what to say.

Another mail - Instead of the pub why don’t you come with me tonight? My church would welcome you.

I didn’t write back. I walked down to his office and called him a prick. He smiled at me. I repeated.


A few days later the Twin Towers fell. We watched it live on television; all of us huddled in the cafeteria. Joe frowned and commented quietly that the lord’s plan is often hard to see. Some were crying. Some were praying. Some looked terrified. The print room chap looked quite pleased. The 55 year old man I worked with ran from the room shouting We’re at war. Joe was calm. The lord had chosen for the towers to fall, it was part of the plan.

I guess this is the same as my kids being content when our car broke down just before Christmas. We pulled over and sat them on blankets in grass that likely had a snake or two red bellying its way about. Tankers and holiday makers blew past us as we waited for the tow truck. The car was dead but the kids thought it was all OK because their parents were there and they would somehow make it all OK. They’d have somewhere to sleep, they’d have dinner, and they’d be safe - we would make them safe.

The way Bear and Toes felt about us is the way Joe felt about his God. God had it all planned out, Joe just had to be a good boy and he’d be tucked up and given milk and biscuits in heaven. OK, Bear and Toes just wanted Christmas presents and Toes has never yet gone to bed on time but the correlation works to my mind.

Mother is the name for God on every child’s lips. The movie the line is from has my favourite joke - Jesus Christ walks into a hotel, he hands the innkeeper three nails and asks - Can you put me up for the night?

Joe had bottomless faith. He still has bottomless faith. He Facebook’d me years later and I accepted. I admit I wanted to see he’d gotten fat, become single and taken up drinking cheap wine. He hadn’t. The Lords Plan was working out in his favour. I removed him from friends as soon as I had determined all of that. I had gotten a layer of fat but I wasn’t single and I did have my kids– and I do like cask wine. Before I removed him he sent me a message - Glad you are making someone happy now. God bless.

I know not all of the religious believe in The Plan; some dilute it down to just believing in a benevolent father who leaves it up to you and just waits to give you hugs and cookies when you come home. Others in a tree loving Earth Mother who likes women with hairy armpits. It’s belief itself that leaves me staggered.

There’s a moment I’ve had several times now that makes me think of the Degrassi Junior High theme song –

Wake up in the morning, feeling shy and lonely,
gee, I gotta go to school. 
I don't think I can make it, don't think I can take it,
I wonder what I'm gonna do. 
But when I look around and see,
that someone is smiling right at me,
wait, someone’s talkin' to me, hey, I gotta new friend. 

A new friend is a great moment. It’s akin to falling in love, well just a little bit. In the moments I’m referring to it becomes apparent that the new friend (who I'm planning dinners with, planning play dates with our kids, planning a car key fruit bowl party) believes in God. In these moments I silently scream Noooooooo and fall to my metaphorical knees. I like you, you're smart and cool and you like John Carpenter films and old techno music and you've read Ulysseys - say the Jesus thing ain't so?

Having faith must be fantastic. It has to be. Joe was one of the calmest, happiest folk I ever knew. Nothing fazed him. It was Gods plan that he ask me to his church. It was Gods plan I'd say no, so I guess it was also Gods plan I call Joe a Prick. The faith folk have I don’t understand but I can’t begrudge it. As strongly as Joe believes in The Plan I believe in Bill Hicks – I am in steadfast agreement with him that you, me, we - even my Bear and Toes – we’re a virus with shoes. 

Not Joe though. Even after all this time and wine – to me Joe remains a Prick.

(If you're liking the blog please share, forward, read to folk on the bus, or whisper to loved ones)

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Beautifully or irreparably bruised

(The following people are all real, names changed.)

Jack had a plan to skin a rat and wrap the skin around his penis. He would then assault a cat. He had it mapped in detail. He hated cats and to his mind the cat would understand the indignity of being assaulted by a rat wrapped penis. He had a list of cats he wanted to get.

Wanda wet herself at work. Every day she would shout I’m leaking and run, gold droplets falling between her shoes. She’d return, sodden underwear in hand that she’d stuff in her handbag. She ate butter by the spoonful. She described childbirth as pointless agony and parenthood as the worst mistake of my life. She hated her daughter and husband, would refer to them as parasites and cancers. She showered in her clothes and hang them to dry over night. She’d put them on, wet or dry, in the morning. Saves me hours on laundry.

The Scotsman in the pub was an IRA sympathiser. He terrified a drink out of us and we sat and listened. He used to smear Vaseline on broken glass and skim it under the riot shields of the police.

Albert would buy a pre packaged sandwich and then dissect it at his desk, weighing each ingredient on scales he had in his drawer. He entered details in a book before binning the sandwich. It had started as an effort to launch a law suit against the sandwich company but had become something more. His log book was filled with scrawled entries on chicken salad sandwiches going back years.

Graham and Rupert were my housemates for about a year. Both were Etonions, from the confused dilluted sediment of the Upper Class. Graham planned his holidays around a website that rated Eastern European countries for the hygiene and prices of their prostitutes. He targeted countries that had recently been at war. Rupert was afraid of his own urine. Each morning he would let out screams from the bathroom and emerge shaking. He described the English aristocracy, of which he was a member, as the most persecuted ethnic minority in history. He had hundreds of issues of Readers Wives pornography under his bed.

Chris loved the Princess of Wales. He wrote to her every day, declaring his love or threatening her for not responding. His desk was covered in her pictures. When she died he fell apart and went on stress leave. He came in after the funeral and sent a company wide mail about how beautiful the funeral had been, how he’d been close enough to feel the beautiful Princes in their grief before the police pushed him back. When he returned to work he pulled down his pictures of Diana and replaced them with pictures of a television presenter called Jill Dandao. Two weeks later Jill was shot on the front door step of her house. Chris went on stress leave again.

Caitlin was obsessed with kudos. After the Sydney Tower stair climb one year she watched co-workers being back slapped for running up and raising money for kids. She talked about how she would do the run next year. She would quit the smokes, loose the weight and run for the kiddies. Team members said that sounded great, they’d totally sponsor her to do the run. A manager came down late that afternoon and asked Caitlin if she had done the run, they’d heard she’d been in the race today. She puffed out her cheeks and stood up with a wince.- Did my bit for the kiddie bless ‘em. No one said a word, no one mentioned that during the race she'd been downstairs taking several cigarette breaks in a row and had eaten 2 Mars bars upon her return. She accepted a donation from the manager and sat back down.

The Barman in Cambodia told us about a woman he used to live with who’d let her brain fry a little too much on one substance or another. The walls of their place ran with little geckos each evening. Joe came home one day to find his housemate eating a bag of cheese balls, flicking them on the floor for the geckos. He came home another night to find the geckos closer to her as she flicked more on the floor in a barely lit room. Several weeks later he came home to find her sat nude pouring balls in her lap as the geckos scampered up her legs.

Greg was blind in one eye but hadn’t told his doctor. He’d lost the sight after a lengthy binge on vodka and cider, but wasn’t sure which binge it had been. He was in a Business Admin class with me and we paired up for smoke breaks. He was in debt. He’d been unemployed for a long time; hence he was on the course. I’d been out of work for 9 months, aside from glue gun jobs and warehouse work. He told me about his eye. The one thing I do have is insurance. Do you know what an eye is worth? He laid out his plan, showed me the nail he kept in his pocket. He was looking for uneven paving slabs, trip hazards. When he found a good one he was going to have a fall, land badly on a discarded nail, loose an eye, cash in.

I watched as a guy wandered into our courtyard and stole underwear from the line. I chased him, though it wasn’t my underwear it seemed the right thing to do. Run for the honour of someone else’s underwear shouting OI at the top of my voice. He ran, stuffing them in his pocket to take home for whatever purpose they may serve.

An ex told me about a partner she’d had who would drink the contents of his condom after sex.

I hang (in a buffalo stance) for the bus each morning and am aware that though I’ve met a large amount of seemingly unhinged people there must be many more I haven’t encountered. Normal folk with a dungeon full of distressed cats, a wardrobe full of unwashed girls’ gym socks, an overwhelming fear of cheese or an earnest intent to kidnap a royal. Everyone of these people had parents or carers – with these folks somewhere along the line they skewed to an extreme that they don't consider extreme, for them it is just life. They are a rat skinner, an incontinent butter eater, a Royal obsessive.

Or worse, an underwear theif.

Everyone somehow ends up beautifully or irreparably bruised. No one grows up untarnished. Somehow, at sometime, in some way underwear theft must seem like a good idea.

Toes told me recently – Next year is my last birthday. Five is enough.

Bear told me – When the zombies come I am ready Dad, I know I need to shoot them in the head with an arrow. Or hit them and pop their head.

I’m a parent; I like photos of empty car parks and unlit tunnels. I like music that sounds like broken bus engines. I spent one year eating nothing but KFC, drinking only Guinness and coffee. I enjoy flashing myself at Jehovah’s Witnesses when they come knocking and telling them my wife is dead when they ask to speak with her. Between that and my red wine habit – what kind of people am I raising?

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Bus Ride

I took the kids into the city this morning. Me wife suggested I drive but knowing I would get lost I elected for the bus. The kids love the bus, I don't, but its driven by someone who knows the way. The kids love it as they bump and roll on the back seat and wave at the cars behind. I don't like it as it's full of people - I don't really like people.

Two parents and their child got on and sat in front of us. Both adults were wearing yellow jumpers and blue jeans. The son was wearing a yellow tee shirt and blue jeans. He was around the age  as Toes. As soon as he sat down he started to howl and was given his mothers iPhone which immediately started chirping and bleeping. Bear glanced at it and gave me a doleful why don't I have one of those glance. The kid howled again and was handed a piece of cheese.

He howled again and was given a banana.

Again - a lemon iced biscuit.

With each new food item he spat out the old one and his father scouped it and handed the masticated clump to his wife who looked furtively around and then ate it. Several times she seemed to gag.

Toes pointed up the bus at a man.

Dad, he's wearing your shirt

I saw a shirt similar to mine and whispered in her ear

You're right darlin', but I make it look good.

A mother and seven year old got on. The child sat and was also handed an iPhone and started hacking into the FBI database while her mother spoke

When I was young there was no internet.

The child rolled her eyes and carried on tapping.

No Angry Birds, no e mail. Do you know what that was like?

She stole account details from Amazon and hacked WOPR to play tick tack toe with Joshua (it's a War Games joke). The mother wasn't looking at her daughter and her daughter wasn't looking at her. The mothers eyes were off gazing into some pre internet Angry Birds era.

It was boring. It was horrible.You don't know how lucky you are. We only had the real world.

I remember the real world. It smelt of cut grass and was soundtracked by lawnmowers and motorcycle engines. There were blackberries in it. One morning when I was 7 we snuck off to the railway bridge to see the remains of a Labrador that had been hit by a train. Had the internet existed back then we would have uploaded the images. It looked disgusting but we all said it looked cool.

The boy ahead of us was chewing custard creams before spitting them out so his mother could swallow them. Bear asked for a piece of chocolate and I handed it to him, Toes told me I was the best Daddy so she got a piece as well. Cheese banana custard boy stared at them and shot out a snapping hand. His mother pulled it away and seemed to hiss

No no, that's dirty

before handing him some corn on the cob. Every piece of food had been yellow. I wondered if this was a constant theme or if they changed each day, if tomorrow would be a blue food day, Monday a striped day.

When we got off in the city we walked past the man in my shirt. Toes looked at him and shouted

Dad, you're right you do make the shirt look better than that man.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

It's Hard To Believe When You're The Grandson of Jesus

 My grandfather was the next Christ.

He was certain of this, the lines on his palm formd a cross which was evidence enough for him. I've always viewed crosses the way Bill Hicks summed them up, d'you think Jesus ever wants to see a cross again?

My Grandfather had been through the Second World War and written up his life story which ended with the words and then I married and had two children. The End..

Later in life he found he could heal by laying on his hands and rinsing the wound in blue spirit water. When I was 13 he phoned and told me I wasn't me, I was his deceasd brother. A picture I had given to him had fallen from his wall 3 times and landed beside a picture of his brother which had lead him to conclude that I was his dead brother reborn.

You're Eddie

I said nothing.

You're Eddie.

I continued saying nothing.

You should change your name to Eddie.

I said Uhm.

He continued on this theme for a while. I didn't need to be scared, but I was the reincarnation of Eddie who'd died at 13 after a bit of bad diagnosis by a doctor. It would make sense for me to change my name to Eddie, and change my surname to his surname. My deceased relatives wanted me to do it, he wanted me to do it. When was I going to do it?

On around the 4th phone call of being told I was Eddie I had my James Dean moment of teenage rebellion and shouted into the phone


I ran off in slow motion and played Def Leppard on my headphones standing under my Bruce Willis poster.

The Eddie situation was dropped and was replaced with advice along the lines of -

Don't every get drunk, if you are ever want to know what being drunk is like I will tell you.

A few years later I ignored this advice, drank a bottle of Thunderbird Apple Wine and vomited in someones sleeping bag. I forgot to confess this and 2 hours later woke up to see my mate step into his sleeping bag, then leap out of it covered in my half digested Pringles. I got drunk and vomited in many more places after that – graveyards, bathrooms, out of windows, on motorbikes. I had a fair degree of fun getting to the vomiting stage and damn I looked cool smoking.

Use your powers, learn to travel astrally.

Years later I had an out of body moment. I found myself floating above my body drifting towards the ceiling. I drifted along seeing in extreme close up how badly the ceiling was painted and looking down on the cockroaches that shared the apartment with us. I drifted through the lounge toward the air vent above the front door. I knew I could float anywhere, I could travel back to London and see what my friends were doing, I could fly across the oceans and watch whales breach and freighters freight. I could sit and wait to see Monkey be born from an egg on a mountain top. Then I became very aware of how quick I get lost. I can turn left out of my street and loose my bearings and I have lived her for 7 years. I get lost on the far side of the office from my desk. I even get confused going for a pee in the night. With the world laid out ahead of me on the other side of an air vent as I nudged against the ceiling I panicked. I didn't want to get lost in Tibet and be late for work. I didn't want to get stuck in Milton Keynes trying to figure which roundabout would point me back to Australia via the astral plane. This panic caused me to snap back and tumble back into my body and since then I've never drifted ceiling-ward again – which isn't really something I mind.

You can heal if you love absolutely.

He was a faith healer who – in his own words – even healed a black woman once. My daughter had an accident and one bereft clutch at anything night I thought what harm could it do to try? I loved my daughter absolutely, so surely if I could do this, if he had been right about powers then this would be the time to discover it. I held her bandages while my wife and my son slept. I pictured the burns falling away, washed with the same blue spirit liquid he'd told me about, and I hoped. A few days later the dressings were removed - and the burns were still there.

I went to a church of his once. The room was full of folding chairs and folk in winter coats. The air smelt of tea, nicotene and wet socks. A man stood on stage reasurring the audience that their loved ones were on the other side in the light. My grandfather introduced me and the crowd made happy sounds. I was asked up on stage to read auras and I stood there blushing as a woman stood, pink scarf, aged face, wide smile.

What coloours do you see?

I saw the colour Uhm. The colour Hmm. The colour Err.

Just say what you see.

I squinted.


Excellent, and where do you see that?

Around her – head?


The man clapped and explained that she had yellow around her head as she was a bright, sunny person.

What else?

I had hoped to get away with one colour but they wanted more.



Around her – hips?


She nodded fiercly.

My hips are sore come winter and I've had some stomach flu.

What else?

I had an urge to sing a rainbow.

Red – around her – her – her – hands.

I thought of Lady Macbeth.

Around her hands?


Are you sure?


I – I can't see that. Are you sure about red.

They were all staring a me so I frowned.

Maybe it is pink?

YES. Pink. Because she has loving hands, giving hands, generous hands.

I finally got to sit down and have some lemon squash. The old lady hugged me and stroked my face with her ethereal pink and generous hands, then handed me a Rich Tea biscuit and kept the Chocolate Hob Nobs for herself.

My Grandfather died, and he hasn't come back yet. Maybe he's biding his time. Standing on stage though, picking random colours that I couldn't see, was one of the first moments I thought Hold up lads, this faith business is a load of old nonsense isn't it?

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Demonic Mummy Incident

An after life makes no sense. I can’t fathom a life of dead skin, blocked noses, bad diet and regrettable fashion choices being followed by clouds, harps and ambrosia. Given I am making parenting up as I go the main lesson in life is seemingly how to win at Angry Birds. Unless there are evil pigs in heaven I am not sure what the point is. I can’t believe I’ll open my eyes and see deceased relatives and pets gathered around me. My grandfather (who assured me that he was the next Christ) told me pets don’t go to heaven as God doesn’t love animals so on the off chance I’m wrong I won’t have to front up to the hamster that died in a marijuana related incident back in ’97

The issue with not believing in an after life, for a comfortable cotton underwear Goth like me, is Ghosts. I would love to believe in them. I want to believe in them. I want a GhostBuster outfit, I want my wife to dress as a shorter version of Dana Barrett and maybe make devil dog noises, I love creepy old houses and legends of crewless boats adrift on the ocean. If screams come curdling in the night from wraiths must there be something after death?

I’ve had two “ghost” encounters.

The first was at a girlfriend’s house in ‘98. Only the bedroom and the bathroom were open; every other door was locked due to her father renovating the place. As I was falling asleep she told me not to worry if I heard a knock on the bedroom door during the night.

The place is haunted, some nights around 3am something knocks at the door. Don’t worry about it.

I worried. I woke up that night at 2.58am in need of the bathroom. I stumbled in the dark and stood at the toilet, bathroom door open behind me, the stairs beyond that. I heard a creak behind me that sounded like the bottom stair. I tried to think nothing of it but then heard another, higher. I looked down the stairs, the moonlight from the bathroom window showing the staircase to halfway down. Another creak came from the pitch black below, somewhere around the third stair.

I should have turned on the light to see what was there, but it was 3am when all things have teeth, ill will and huge stature. I bolted back to bed and dove under the covers as I heard another step, and then another. I had left the door open and reached out one hand and flailed to find it, pushing it closed as I heard the steps reach the landing. The door clicked shut and immediately there came three knocks. I held the duvet over my head as my girlfriend lay fast asleep.

Three more knocks came, louder this time. My girlfriend rolled over in her sleep and said

Not tonight.

The steps did not retreat but there were no more knocks. I lay cold, clammy and a bit upset and realised I needed the bathroom again. I stayed that way for the rest of the night, still under the covers. Quite what my girlfriend meant by Not tonight I never asked.

The other encounter was at a hotel outside of Canberra. The kids loved the place as it was creaky and creepy. Our room was in the attic. Every vacant room had its door wide open so as we walked to our room we passed dark doorways full of shapes. The landlady told us, after my wife commented on the creaky stairs and headless mannequin in the pool room that

Oh yes, we have a few ghosts here.

She told us about a bushranger shooting a policeman in the bar where we were sat and Bear found the place less exciting. He couldn’t get his head around the idea of 100 years ago and believed that the shooting had been within the last few days. We tucked up for bed, tramping up and down the stairs to use the bathroom past open dark doorways, and slept.

Sometime in the night my wife got up. I considered creeping up on her in the darkness but realised she would scream the place down. She returned and immediately fell asleep and I rolled over and closed my eyes.

Right in my ear an incredibly deep voice growled. I’d love to say it growled that Satan was coming or that blood would run but instead it growled


Not exactly the most terrifying of words but it still scared me and again left me in the needing the bathroom but unwilling to move state.

It didn’t speak again and I didn’t sleep again. My wife woke at a little while later and I pitched the idea that we leave as soon as possible, like now, straight away, get an early start, get home. I told her about the demonic Mummy incident and she told me I was an idiot. I’ve stuck to the story since and she’s stuck with her reaction.

With both incidents I am happy to say that I did hear something but both incidents came with the suggestion that I might hear something. Given my overactive imagination I can see that I likely conjured the rest from my head, though if there are ghosts then they seem determined to make me lay in bed needing to pee once every 14 years. Come the year 2026 I’ll wear an adult sized nappy to bed ready for an encounter from beyond.

There will come an afternoon where I’m sat hairy, wise and flatulent. My wife, dressed as Dana from Ghostbusters, will be telling me there is a pie in the oven. My great grandkids will be singing about my many adventures. The waitresses of Sydney will all be smiling at the thought of my custom. My eyes will flicker closed and the light in my consciousness will simply snuff out. It’s will not be a cold black eternity, it will be simply be nothing,

Since doing nothing is one of my favourite past times, becoming nothing seems idyllic to me.