Red vineyard - Hives

Hives

The very thought of it made him all itchy. The doctors told him it was all in his mind. Just drink a glass of wine and forget it. Stress most likely. The life of a struggling virtuoso is not all its cranked up to be, they told him. Why not take up a real trade?

But only Gian knew how on hot summer nights when the wind blew in south-easterly through his window, ripping up the sea, he would roll from side to side on top of his sheets as if he himself were out in the waves.

When Andrea told him she worked in the vineyard, Gian broke down in a sweat. He had always hoped he would meet an introvert, someone like him, who might hide in their attic like Emily Dickinson and they could both have someone hoist up their food in a basket to their window. They would then never need to open the front door again. But Andrea loved the good things in life. “La Dolce Vita” as they call it in Italy. She had often said life is too short to not enjoy good food, good company, and good music. In another life she might have said good sex too, but this was 1908.

Gian might not have been the most social man, and Andrea conceded to her family that he was a hermit, but the music. That music. She would sacrifice everything for his music. In his melodies, she felt everything she had ever feared dissolve. And on the odd occasion he would actually play, when a travelling bard came through town accordion in tow, she would dance, and everyone would sing, and laugh, and drink. Except Gian.

Gian never drank.

Most of the time, Andrea was one of those people that never thought too much about anything, not in the sense that she was foolish or never paaid attention. Rather, she simply enjoyed everything for what it was. No more, no less.

When she raked the grapes from their vines, placing the deep reddish-purple ones into her basket on her arm, and casting the duds to the ground, she felt the music of the leaves in her ears, and the cool sea-breeze on her cheek. On clear days she could see out far enough to the islands and the pink evening sunset that would drape them.

She knew it was Heaven there and she often said that she wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“I’m home,” said Andrea, walking in the door. Still in her dress, covered in dried up globs of blue and purple and red, she walked up the steps and found Gian at the attic window, sitting in a small wooden chair with his elbows up on his knees, his hands around his ears, looking out over the vine-covered hills.

He turned to see Andrea, as if he had forgotten he no longer lived alone. His eyes were red and he seemed dazed.

“What’s wrong?” asked Andrea, as she put her basket down on top of the piano.

“Nothing,” replied Gian.

“You were up all night again, last night.”

“Yes, I was working on something.” He tapped his fingers unknowingly on his thigh.

“Our song?” asked Andrea, smiling.

“No,” replied Gian, blankly. He stood up and for a moment looked lost staring intently at the carpet. For a moment the thought occurred to Andrea that perhaps he was going to tell her something awful, but the thought was so fleeting it was just that, a half-composed feeling.

Gian slowly walked to her in the middle of the room. “Our song goes like this …” He slipped his arm around her waist and they begun an impromptu waltz as Gian sang, “Da, da, da, dee da, da da …” and Andrea laughed as he spun her around in a blur of blue and purple.

 

Image:

The Red Vineyard

Vincent van Gogh

Arles, 

(The only painting Vincent van Gogh is certainly known to have sold during his lifetime.)

 

peopleworshippingmoney SM - Journey To The Dollar Of The Earth

Journey To The Dollar Of The Earth

EXT. WIDE OPEN DESERT – DAY

[A CROWD OF MEN AND WOMEN SHUFFLE FORWARDS ON THEIR KNEES THROUGH THE SAND. SOME ARE WEARING TOPHATS AND MONOCLES AS IF THEY JUST STEPPED OUT OF 1892, WHILE OTHERS LOOK MORE MODERN, IN SUITS OR EVEN JUST A TOP AND JEANS. AHEAD OF THEM A GIANT YELLOW DOLLAR SIGN SITS IN WHAT APPEARS TO BE A SUN, GLOWING THROUGH A HAZE OF CLOUD.]

[A MAN AT THE VERY FRONT OF THE PACK, TAKES OFF HIS TOPHAT AND PUTS UP HIS HAND TO SIGNAL THE OTHERS TO STOP. HE PROSTRATES HIMSELF BEFORE THE GIANT DOLLAR.]

PROSTRATING MAN: Great dollar in the sky! We have travelled for many miles seeking the great truth. Oh, great dollar! Great ruler of our lives. Bringer of happiness. Measure of virtue and vice. We, the leaders of business from all the nations of Earth have gathered, to ask for your guidance. The world is in chaos, as you predicted. We have filled our pockets with the rewards from the divide. But still, our charts indicate a time of slight disturbance for our margins. We ask how can we make more? Oh great one, what can we do to further appease you, to satiate your hunger so that we too may reap more of what you sow? You, the bearer of all our good fortune!

[THE GIANT DOLLAR GLOWS MORE BRIGHTLY AND HUMS, A KIND OF ELECTROSTATIC NOISE USUALLY CAUSED BY TWO ELECTRIC WIRES CROSSING.]

DOLLAR: Did you do what I asked?

PROSTRATING MAN: Yes, my Lord. We have made sure that everyone must worship you, whether they want to or not. From birth, people are now forced to use you, and only you. We’ve almost cleared the Amazon of all its potential cures now. We’ve forced people to pay for insurance for health, assets, even their lives. And we made sure people no longer make shelters in a matter of weeks but are forced instead to spend their lives paying off land they convince themselves they own.

[THE DOLLAR HUMS AGAIN.]

DOLLAR: [IMPATIENTLY] Yes, yes, yes, all very good, but did you invest in BitCoin?

PROSTRATING MAN: My Lord? Err …

DOLLAR: Don’t tell me you didn’t invest in BitCoin? I told you years ago, there will come a time when the people will band together, using technology to remove the need for banks. This will potentially lead to people getting ideas, realising they can take the power back, creating a barter system. And we all know what that would mean. You can’t have Joe Biggs paying Jane Smith for a pile of corn with a cow can you? Then the banks won’t get their money. Because you can’t charge interest on cows. And we need to keep the people down. KEEP. THE. PEOPLE. DOWN. What part of that did you not understand?

[A FEW MURMURS IN THE CROWD OF KNEELING PEOPLE.]

PROSTRATING MAN: [SWEAT POURING OFF HIS BROW, HE PULLS HIS COLLAR FROM HIS NECK] Ha! Oh, great dollar! Of course we invested in BitCoin. We’ll sell everything before we sink it, right? Wasn’t that the plan? … My Lord?

DOLLAR: Excellent.

[A LIGHTNING BOLT STREAMS OUT OF THE DOLLAR AND HITS THE PROSTRATING MAN TURNING HIM INTO A HUMAN LIGHTNING ROD AS A SHOWER OF COINS SPILLS OUT FROM HIM AS IF HE IS SUPER MARIO AND THE REST OF THE CROWD JUMP UP AND DOWN IN GLEE.]

THE END.

g shepherd - The Good Shepherd

The Good Shepherd

INT. CORPORATE OFFICE – DAY

[RACHAEL, dressed in a smart black suit, with her hair neatly tied back into a bun, sits in a large leather chair behind a large mahogany desk on which sits a name plaque: “RACHAEL CHARLSTON, CEO”. A timid knock at the door. PATRICK, a young somewhat scrawny man, walks into the office and after a nod from RACHAEL, takes his seat in front of her desk.]

RACHAEL: I’m glad you could come in today Patrick. Now, Patrick. I need to talk to you about your behaviour in the office. There have been several complaints from the female staff, and even a couple of the male staff mind you, about sexual harassment.

PATRICK: But I didn’t. I would never. I really never …

RACHAEL: No, no Patrick. You see, that’s the problem. You’re a good looking man. Everyone sees it. You have a lot going for you. You’re smart, driven, healthy … glowing skin, and yet you haven’t attempted a single sexual advance on another colleague. Now, explain yourself.

PATRICK: I … I thought it would be inappropriate.

RACHAEL: Define inappropriate.

PATRICK: The unwanted social behaviour distinguished by …

RACHAEL: There are several women who have come into my office in tears saying that you won’t even slap them on the arse as they walk by through the hall.

PATRICK: It’s politically incorrect.

RACHAEL: You have so much to learn. So much to learn. Dear, dear Patrick. The second issue is that I don’t have your pay check this week. In fact, I might never have it. But Patrick, maybe there’s another way, the chief executive officer, in other words me, can pay you for all your hard work.

PATRICK: Oh, but, I … Ms. Charlston.

[Rachael gets up from her desk and slowly moves around it over to Patrick’s side like a lioness stalking her prey.]

RACHAEL: Remember that visualisation seminar I paid for last month, for the staff? Remember that? How to take visual holidays, in your mind, to help you relax. To free yourself of stress. To improve productivity … [NOW BEHIND HIM, MASSAGING HIS SHOULDERS SEDUCTIVELY] Imagine a field, a Welsh field. Yes, close your eyes now Patrick. You’re in a field in Wales. The sky is dark and grey, but slowly clearing up. The sun is poking through a hole. In the sky. You are a shepherd, Patrick. Imagine! Yes, there you are, a Welsh shepherd. Yes I’m here too. I can see you now. With your staff, upright. And I’m a little wooly lamb in the meadow. Baaaaa … Baaaaa … We can’t help ourselves Patrick. We’re just animals aren’t we?

[Rachael moves around in front of Patrick now, and crawls onto his lap.]

PATRICK: Oh Rachael! Yes! Yes! Yes!

[They kiss passionately. Hands going everywhere.]

RACHAEL: Call me your dirty little lambchop!

PATRICK: Oh, Rachael! My dirty little lambchop!

[Rachael suddenly stops, stands up in front of Patrick, realigns her suit and straightens her hair.]

RACHAEL: [STERN, COMPOSED] Right. That’s quite enough.

[She returns to her seat behind the desk as Patrick watches confused.]

RACHAEL: I’m afraid you have failed the sexual harassment in the work place test. I had such high hopes for you Patrick. Such high hopes.

[Patrick exits the room, his head hung low.]

THE END.

An illustration of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, hand in hand.

Think About The Kids

[EXT. COUNTRY ESTATE, LATE 1700s ENGLAND – DAY]

MR. DARCY: Oh, Elizabeth, I do ever so much look forward to spending our days together.

ELIZABETH: Yes, I too feel a sense of general anticipation, Mr. Darcy.

MR. DARCY: And to think, it nearly didn’t come to be. With you fraternising with that horrid Mr. Wickham.

ELIZABETH: Horrid man.

MR. DARCY: Yes, horrid. He was only after one thing. What I’m saying is, I’m very glad indeed that we found each other. Two pure-hearted souls on this road together, in life.

ELIZABETH: Quite the poet aren’t you, Mr. Darcy?

MR. DARCY: I am now. Now that I’ve met you Elizabeth. The stars shine brighter, the grass smells grassier, the … clouds appear … cloudier?

ELIZABETH: Practice makes good work of it, doesn’t it?

MR. DARCY: I feel like I’m a poet, when I’m with you. To think that you have accepted my hand in marriage, it sends shivers of excitement down my spine.

ELIZABETH: Yes, Mr. Darcy.

MR. DARCY: Yes? How do I say this, Elizabeth? I am feeling quite encouraged. By your … femininity.

ELIZABETH: Mr. Darcy, there is something I need to tell you.

MR. DARCY: What is it, my love?

ELIZABETH: Promise me you won’t get terribly angry.

MR. DARCY: I will certainly try, but may I also be candid with you? This exchange is unexpected. Elizabeth, whatever could be wrong?

ELIZABETH: I have five kids.

MR. DARCY: What? Already? But we haven’t even …? That’s what I was getting at! Oh God, not that darsted Wickham was it? He got to you didn’t he? Couldn’t keep his grubby mitts off? But five kids! And out of wedlock I can only presume? There was never any talk of a divorce! I never saw you with a belly?

ELIZABETH: Well, it’s true. I have five kids. I wanted to tell you, I really did. Oh, Mr. Darcy, I do hope there won’t be any talk of divorce now. My kids mean so much to me. I was just afraid to bring them up in case you wouldn’t, you know, accept them. And me. When we are so much in love. In time I know that you will grow to love them all: Ringy, Nosey, Jonathan, Mabel, and Toey.

MR. DARCY: Forgive me if I step out of line Elizabeth, but those names. It sounds like Mr. Wickham was involved.

ELIZABETH: He wasn’t.

MR. DARCY: Then who and where is the man responsible for these kids?!

ELIZABETH: I got them off the farmer at the market.

MR. DARCY: Got them? Off the farmer? At the market? Is that how you speak of the sacred union between man and woman? Wickham did get to you! I don’t know of anyone else cunning enough. He dressed up as a farmer! Yes, yes, I see it in now! That swine! Fraternising with women, and fraternising with pigs. I should have known. I’ll find him I will. No eloping this time. I’ll force him to marry you too! Monogamy be damned! But dear Elizabeth, is this the end for us?

ELIZABETH: You assume too much, Mr. Darcy. I got them just last week.

MR. DARCY: Got them? You mean you adopted your young? Oh Highest Heaven, you mean you have quadruplets? With Mr. Wickham dressed as a blasted pig herder! You’ve named them before they’re even born? But why am I only hearing about this now?

ELIZABETH: Mr. Darcy, I have five goats.

MR. DARCY: Five goats!

ELIZABETH: Yes, Mr. Darcy. Five kids. Five goats.

MR. DARCY: You’ve already bought a goat for each one? Wickham, you peasant dog!

ELIZABETH: Five kids that are goats!

MR. DARCY: Elizabeth, this is all sounding very pagan.

ELIZABETH: I don’t have children, Mr. Darcy. It was a joke. I bought five goats at the market. I thought we could start a little hobby farm. You have an adequate sized estate, don’t you?

MR. DARCY: Of course. Please, forgive my tempestuousness. Seriously Elizabeth, this wry sense of humour of yours is sometimes just too much. I’ll end up with an aneurism.

ELIZABETH: Let’s make love in the barn.

MR. DARCY: I didn’t know we had one.

[THE END.]

Get Well Carp

Get Well Soon Carp

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM – DAY

[A WOMAN, MOTHER, LAYS BACK IN BED, BOTH HER ARMS AND ONE LEG SUSPENDED AND IN CASTS. A VASE OF FLOWERS SIT ON A BEDSIDE TABLE AS WELL AS AN ASSORTMENT OF COLOURFUL BALLOONS AND CARDS. THERE IS JUST ENOUGH SPACE FOR HER ORANGE JUICE IN A LITTLE PLASTIC MUG. THE SLOW BEEP OF HOSPITAL MACHINES AND THE DISTANT CHIT-CHAT OF NURSES TALKING TO PATIENTS CAN BE HEARD IN THE BACKGROUND. A KNOCK AT THE DOOR AND IT OPENS TO REVEAL A YOUNG, BRIGHT-FACED, WELL-DRESSED MAN, JIM, HOLDING A CARP IN AN OPEN BUNDLE OF NEWSPAPER. THE THING IS SO HUGE HE NEEDS TWO HANDS. IT’S STILL DRIPPING. IT LOOKS REMARKABLY FRESH. PERHAPS HE HAS JUST CAUGHT IT? HE KICKS THE DOOR CLOSED WITH HIS FOOT.]

JIM: Mum?

MOTHER: Jimmy! There’s my boy!

JIM: [STILL WITH THE FISH AWKWARDLY IN HIS HANDS, HE APPROACHES THE BED] I’m so glad you’re okay! When I heard of the accident, well, I came here as soon as I could. I told you mother, that bloody motor scooter would do you in!

MOTHER: Oh Jim, it’ll take more than a four-wheel drive to do me in! The doctors say the surgery went perfectly. I’ll have the pins out in less than two years. Honestly, I’m fine.

JIM: Oh mum, I’m so relieved.I couldn’t bare to think … [HE SEEMS TO ONLY JUST REMEMBER THAT HE IS HOLDING SOMETHING] Oh here, I got you this.

[AS THE BEDSIDE TABLE IS FULL, HE PLACES THE CARP BESIDE HIS MOTHER ON THE BED.]

MOTHER: [LOOKING DOWN AT THE CARP, SHE FROWNS] Oh, you didn’t need to, but Jim… what is it?

JIM: It’s a carp. you know? The fish?

MOTHER: Yes … but why are you giving it to me? Here? Now?

JIM: Well, it’s a get well soon … [A LOOK OF SUDDEN REALISATION. HE TAKES ANOTHER LOOK AT THE BEDSIDE TABLE. CLOSE UP ON THE CARDS] car … p.

[THE END]

Mother's Resolution

Mother’s Resolution

INT. DARK LIVING ROOM – EVENING.

[NORMAN BATES SITS ON A SOFA BY HIS “MOTHER”, A SKELETON WEARING A GREY WIG, WHO SITS IN A ROCKING CHAIR IN THE CORNER OF THE ROOM. NORMAN SLOWLY ROCKS HER ROCKING CHAIR WITH HIS HAND. HE SIGHS. PUSHING CARS INTO SWAMPS TAKES A LOT OF WORK!]

NORMAN: What is your new year’s resolution, mother?

[SILENCE.]

NORMAN: Mother?

[A MOMENT.]

MOTHER [IN A MUMBLED VOICE, ALMOST LIKE SOMEONE IS TALKING OUT THE SIDE OF THEIR MOUTH]: To get six pack abs.

[NORMAN INSTANTLY RECOILS, TAKES HIS HAND OFF THE ROCKING CHAIR, AND SITS UP STRAIGHT.]

NORMAN: Mother? Are you okay? You don’t sound yourself.

MOTHER: Sure I do, son. I’ve decided to get fit, I have. Yes, starting today I’m going to start going to the gym. I’m going to do pushups every morning, and smoothies. Yes, smoothies! I’m going to make lots of mango smoothies and run around the block, I am. Yes, just you watch! Mother isn’t quite done yet! …

[NORMAN GETS UP AND LOOKS BEHIND THE ROCKING CHAIR WHERE HE SEES HIS CLEANING LADY TALKING INTO HER CUPPED HANDS, HUDDLED IN THE DARK.]

MOTHER [NOW SIMONE]: … I’m gonna get fit ’n’ healthy! Yes! Yes! Just you wait and see!

NORMAN: Simone?

SIMONE: [LOOKING UP TO SEE NORMAN] Oh. Hi, Norman.

NORMAN: I thought you were all finished with the cleaning?

SIMONE: I was. Came back to get my broom. Gave mother here a bit of a polish while I was at it. Hope you don’t mind?

[NORMAN DOESN’T QUITE KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH HIS HANDS. HE PUTS THEM IN HIS POCKET AND SHYLY TAKES A STEP BACK.]

NORMAN: Um … I guess, not. No. I mean, not at all.

[SIMONE STANDS UP, EDGES HER WAY AROUND THE ROCKING CHAIR AND OUT OF THE CORNER OF THE ROOM, AND BRUSHES HERSELF OFF.]

SIMONE: See you Monday then?

NORMAN: Yes. I suppose so.

SIMONE: Good.

[SIMONE TAKES HER BROOM AND BACKS OUT OF THE DARK ROOM.]

[NORMAN SITS BACK DOWN AND TAPS HIS FINGERS NERVOUSLY ON THE ARM OF HIS SOFA. HE TURNS TO MOTHER TO SAY SOMETHING BUT DECIDES NOT TO.]

THE END.

Happy You Near!

Happy You Near!

EXT. VERANDAH, OVERLOOKING FARM – NIGHT

[An old man sits in a large cane armchair. At the railing, stand an old woman, a woman, and a young girl, looking out over a city skyline hemmed by gum trees and a snaking river.]

[In the quiet, a bug zapper cracks gently.]

[The old man grabs the hand of the old woman and gently tugs her back into the chair with him, folding her in his arms.]

OLD MAN: Happy You Near.

[He rocks the old woman in his arms back and forth as they both laugh.]

OLD WOMAN: Oh, Ken!

[Fireworks spark in the distance.]

[The small girl looks up at her mother and smiles. The mother smiles back and puts her arms around the young girl to pull her close as they look out at the now sparkling skyline.]

THE END.

An illustration of a caramel sweet in its wrapper.

Bits Of Caramel

[A YOUNG MAN WALKS DOWN THE AISLE OF A LARGE COMMERCIAL SUPERMARKET. REACHING THE END OF IT, HE STOPS TO LOOK AT THE YOGHURTS IN THE REFRIGERATED SECTION. THERE ARE SO MANY BRANDS TO CHOOSE FROM. HE SCRATCHES HIS CHIN.]

WOMAN: Hello, would you like a caramel?

[THE MAN TURNS AROUND TO SEE YOU A YOUNG WOMAN STANDING AT A SMALL MAKESHIFT COUNTER, SELLING SAMPLES OF CARAMELS IN CELLOPHANE WRAPPERS ON A LARGE PLASTIC PLATTER. SHE IS GORGEOUS AND BEAMS A PERFECT SMILE. IT’S HARD TO IMAGINE ANYONE WOULD EVER REJECT HER.]

MAN [POLITELY]: No thanks.

[THE MAN TURNS BACK TO THE YOGHURT. HE STILL CAN’T MAKE A DECISION.]

WOMAN: They’re free.

MAN: No thanks.

WOMAN: Completely free.

MAN: No.

WOMAN: Do you not feel like a caramel?

MAN: No.

WOMAN: Why?

MAN: I don’t want a caramel.

WOMAN: Do you not like caramel?

MAN: No.

WOMAN: Go on. Have one. [WHISPERING] You know what, I’ll let you have two. They’re free.

MAN: No.

WOMAN: I promise I won’t tell.

MAN: No, thank you.

WOMAN: Come on, just one little caramel? One itsy-bitsy caramel? They’re really good. Everyone’s been saying how good they are. Really, this is the best caramel ever. I was skeptical at first but then I had one and I was like, this is the best caramel EV-UH! Just try it.

MAN [STILL POLITE]: No. Really. No.

[HE CONCENTRATES HARD ON THE YOGHURTS YET AGAIN.]

WOMAN: Just one though?

MAN: No.

WOMAN: Look, I’ve unwrapped one. Looks a bit like fudge doesn’t it? [DOING A SILLY VOICE TO PORTRAY THE CARAMEL] But I’m not fudge. I’m a caramel. I’m the best caramel you’ll ever have. Go on.

MAN [STILL POLITE]: Please, no.

WOMAN: Free samples.

MAN: [FINALLY HE SNAPS, STERN] NO. THANK. YOU.

FADE OUT.

 

FADE IN.

[A POLICEMAN AS WELL AS A RATHER TUBBY OLD MAN WEARING A WHITE SHIRT WITH A NAME TAG SAYING “MANAGER”, STAND NEXT TO THE YOUNG MAN WHO IS NOW SITTING ON THE EDGE OF THE DAIRY SECTION WITH HIS HEAD IN HIS HANDS. A FEW CURIOUS SHOPPERS STOP AND STARE.]

POLICEMAN: The young lady is quite upset.

MAN: All I said was I don’t want a caramel.

[THE POLICEMAN TAKES HIS HAT OFF AND SCRATCHES HIS HEAD. HE LOOKS AT THE MANAGER WHO LOOKS BACK AT HIM AND SHAKES HIS HEAD AS IF TO SAY, “SOME PEOPLE”.]

POLICEMAN: Are you aware that the caramel is free?

MAN: I don’t want a caramel.

POLICEMAN: Why?

MAN: I just don’t want a caramel.

POLICEMAN: You don’t like caramel?

MAN: I don’t want one.

POLICEMAN: I’m not following your drift here, mate. Sounds to me like you like caramel. Listen, how about you just take one of the caramels? Be done with it. Obviously the young lady is quite upset. She wants you to take a caramel.

MAN: Am I under arrest?

POLICEMAN: No.

MAN: Then I’m free to go?

[THE POLICEMAN PUTS HIS HANDS ON HIS HIPS. IT SEEMS HE HAS NO INTENTION OF LETTING THE YOUNG MAN GO.

POLICEMAN: What is it about caramel that you don’t like?

MAN: I like caramel.

POLICEMAN: Aha, you’re on a diet.

MAN: No.

POLICEMAN: Then take a caramel.

MAN: No.

POLICEMAN: It’s free.

WOMAN: [WAVING HER ARMS EMPATHICALLY] He just refuses to take a caramel! [SHE KNOCKS OVER HER PLATTER OF SAMPLES AND STARTS TO PICK THEM UP, CRYING] I tried. I’m no good at anything. Mother told me I was no good. She was right. All these years she was right! I’m hopeless! I’ll never amount to anything! [PEOPLE STOP TO HELP OUT. A CROWD IS GATHERING.]

POLICEMAN: I have half a mind to call this a public disturbance.

MAN: Please don’t.

POLICEMAN: Take a caramel.

MAN: No.

POLICEMAN: [SIGHING] Then tell us WHY.

[A BIGGER CROWD HAS NOW GATHERED.]

CROWD MEMBER #1: Go on son, take a caramel.

CROWD MEMBER #2: Come on lad, don’t be difficult.

CROWD MEMBER #3: Take a caramel will ye!

CROWD MEMBER #4: Look what you’ve done to this pretty young girl!

CROWD MEMBER #5: Some people.

CROWD MEMBER #6: The nerve!

POLICEMAN: Look, just take a caramel. Take it home. You don’t have to eat it here. Just take one. You’re causing a scene.

[THE CRYING WOMAN AGAIN LOOKS AT THE MAN HELPLESSLY, WITH THE PLATTER OF CARAMELS BACK IN HER HANDS, AS IF PLEADING FOR HIM TO FINALLY TAKE ONE.]

MAN [FLIPPING OUT]: NO. I WON’T TAKE A SINGLE BLASTED CARAMEL! SUGAR, SUGAR, SUGAR. IF IT’S NOT CANDY, IT’S THE CONFECTIONARY OF THE MIND, IT’S TELEVISON SOAPS, AND GOSSIP MAGAZINES. I’VE HAD ENOUGH OF IT! YES, I LIKE CARAMEL! I LOVE CARAMEL! I BLOODY LOVE IT! I LOVE IT I DO! I LOVE IT SO MUCH I’D EAT IT ALL DAY. I’D POUR IT ALL OVER MY BITS IF I COULD AND MAKE SWEET LOVE TO IT. BUT I DON’T WANT CARAMEL! I DON’T WANT YOUR STUFF ANYMORE! I DON’T WANT YOUR THINGS CLOGGING UP MY BRAIN AND CLOGGING UP MY LIFE! I’M A MAN! I’M A MAN WITH FEELINGS, WITH AN IDENTITY, WITH A PURPOSE. I’M A MAN WHO REFUSES TO BE DISTRACTED BY YOUR STUFF, STUFF, STUFF! I’M A MAN WHO REFUSES TO BE BOUGHT BY YOUR BRANDS AND YOUR COMMERCE AND YOUR ADVERTISING GIMMICKS, YOUR CUTE LITTLE PICTURES OF COWS ON CHEESES, AND TWO-FOR-ONES, AND OLYMPIC MASCOTS ON CEREAL PACKETS. I WANT TO LIVE FREE OF CORPORATE MANIPULATION! I MEAN, HAVEN’T WE LOST THE WAY? [HE GETS UP ON THE EDGE MILK SECTION TO STAND TALL ABOVE THE NOW MASSIVE CROWD] WHAT HAS THE WORLD REALLY COME TO, WHERE A MAN CANNOT WALK INTO A SUPERMARKET WITHOUT BEING BADGERED ABOUT WHY HE DOESN’T WANT SOMETHING? A CARAMEL! WHEN WILL YOU REALISE THAT JUST BECAUSE YOU LIKE SOMETHING DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO WANT IT. I DON’T NEED CARAMEL AND I DON’T WANT CARAMEL! I WANT TRUTH. I WANT PEACE AND TRANQUILITY AND PEACE OF MIND. I WANT A LOVE OF LIFE AND NOT A MINUTE SPENT FEARING DEATH. I WANT MOMENTS. I WANT BEAUTY. I WANT FAMILY AND FRIENDSHIP AND COMMUNITY. I WANT HEART. I WANT LOVE. I WANT ESSENCE. I WANT SPIRIT. WHAT IS IT ABOUT A MAN’S INTEGRITY THAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND? WHY, WHEN A PERSON CREATES SOME SPACE IN HIS LIFE, SOME BREATHING SPACE FOR JUST ONE MOMENT, SOME SPACE TO ACTUALLY BE FREE, DO YOU SEEK TO FILL IT WITH STUFF? NO, LIFE IS MORE THAN SOME TETRIS GAME AND I AM MORE THAN THE SUM OF MY BITS. TASTY CARAMEL OR NOT. I DON’T WANT YOUR CARAMELS. I REJECT YOUR CARAMELS! I WILL LIVE A LIFE WITHOUT YOUR CARAMELS. FREE FROM THE TYRANNY OF CONFECTIONARY AND MASS CONSUMPTION. HERE AND NOW I MAKE A STAND! WHO’S WITH ME?! BREAK FREE! BREAK FREE ALL YOU WHO SEE SOME SENSE IN MY WORDS! LEAVE THIS CULT OF STUFF WHILE YOU CAN! AND WE WILL START A NEW WORLD WHERE WE WILL LOVE AND RESPECT ONE ANOTHER! A NEW WORLD WHERE WE WILL FINALLY BE WHOLE AGAIN! ELSE LET ME BE. AND I SHALL WALK THIS LONELY PATH ALONE.

POLICEMAN: Alright, alright, no need to get emotional.

[THE CROWD SLOWLY DISPERSES.]

CROWD MEMBER #3: You’d pour caramel over your bits mate?

CROWD MEMBER #4: What a wanker.

[DEJECTED, THE MAN JUMPS OFF THE DAIRY SECTION AND PICKS UP A STRAY CARAMEL THAT WAS NOT PICKED UP FROM BEFORE. IT’S THE ONE THE YOUNG WOMAN UNWRAPPED. HE PUTS IT IN HIS MOUTH. HE RAISES AN EYEBROW. IT SEEMS IT’S PRETTY GOOD AFTER ALL.

WOMAN [DISDAIN]: Gross.

THE END.

An illustration of a typewriter.

Writer’s frenzy – meet the evil cousin of writer’s block

If I’m not a Bohemian I don’t know who is. Not only am I a playwright, but I spent several years living in the capital of Bohemia, Prague. I live and breathe my art, and anyone who knows me well will attest to me being a little socially unconventional at times. I don’t drive a car, I put my faith in philosophy not religion (unheard of right?), I often wake up in the middle of the night with crazy ideas for flash mobs with helium balloons and board games made of felt, and I’ve pretty much dabbled in every artistic medium there is.

True to the Bohemian stereotype though, especially in the years I lived in Czechia, I also spent a lot of time feeling miserable. I know, I know. Creating art isn’t always passion and bonfires. I get that. Totally. Creating art is sometimes suffering. And I get too, that some people might say, “Stu, you lived in Prague, the city of a thousand spires, are you really going to tell me you were unhappy?” You’re right. I wasn’t unhappy all the time. There were times, especially when I was working on my plays, or backpacking across Europe, and making friends and catching up with friends, when I was ridiculously happy. I’m a pretty optimistic person by nature, and my time overseas was absolutely amazing. But inevitably, even in a city so rich with culture and art, and living my dream, I still sank at times into depression. There were times when I felt like I was flying. I wasn’t just riding a magic carpet, I was the magic carpet, capable of doing anything and going anywhere, but there were also times when I felt myself unravelling at the seams at full speed, my creatives threads tangled around a thousand different things and places at once. I still fell apart, and I think a lot of that has to do with writing too much.

I’ve never suffered from writer’s block. Really. Never. I always find that faced with a blank page I can always write something. Whether that something is drivel or a masterpiece is another matter, but I can always write. Yet, there is another side to that coin. It’s writing too much. It’s sacrificing your health for the sake of your craft. It’s jeopardising the happiness you might have now for the misguided hope of finding more happiness in the future.

That’s like a fishermen throwing back his freshly-caught fish in the hope of catching a marlin. It doesn’t make sense.

Here’s what I’ve learnt: there is a difference between suffering within the creative process as part of your artistic journey and suffering outside of that creative process and using your artistic path as an excuse to feel miserable.

Unfortunately, lacking balance between work and personal life has consequences. For years I’ve neglected my back, sitting at my desk for hours on end at times and not getting up to stretch my arms and legs, and failing to even rest my eyes. There was a time when I drank like a fish (hey, I lived in Prague, the beer there is like some kind of golden nectar made by the gods, it’s 2AUD for a pint, could I be blamed?) I ate deep fried cheese for lunch and those freezer pizzas that taste like cardboard for dinner (washed down with another pint of beer of course). I’m lucky to have the metabolism of a gazelle so luckily, none of it really showed. Still, my gut suffered the onslaught.

Picture me in Prague, sitting in a dingy smoke-filled pub, a pint in each hand (yes, a pint in each hand) a joint in each hand (yes, a joint in each hand), jumping on tables (yes, actually jumping on tables), and kissing pretty girls in pretty beer gardens. It was a lot of fun. But there were also nights when I punched holes in walls, and wandered through the streets at 3AM so blind drunk I only know where I got to not how I got there, and sat in cliched piles of scrunched up papers while the world and the universe beckoned me outside to play. To me, Prague was the Wild West. I could do things in Prague that I couldn’t do in Australia, because I could be free to be another me, free from the baggage of family and past habits. I could be reckless in my personal life and my career.

In many ways, I’m glad I was reckless. There is a time to be reckless in life and through recklessness we often learn great life lessons. More often though, I neglected my social and love life for my other lover, my novel. My friends were often in awe of me, and told me so. Not so much for how many pints I knocked back but because I was so industrious. When I told them I felt like a hamster in a wheel, working on my novel for hours on end each day, my friends clapped their hands and told me “nonsense”, I was living the dream, I was doing something they weren’t. I have the metabolism of a gazelle remember? I looked good. I looked healthy. And I was “going for it”. I was doing the “right thing”. I certainly wasn’t suffering from writer’s block.

No. Of course I wasn’t. I was seduced by something else – the evil cousin of writer’s block, that more discrete, more consuming, more addictive muse who gets you up at 2AM to write poems and philosophical essays for her, who gets jealous of you meeting your friends even for just one beer, who tells you she wants you to love her and only her. She is dangerous. Like some kind of deranged junky, she doesn’t care that your fridge is bare, she doesn’t care that you’re tired or dissatisfied, she only cares that she has you and you have her. In your veins. She is the tenth muse never spoken of, the black sheep of the gods, and the most dangerous muse you’re ever likely to meet – she is what I call “writer’s frenzy”. You might call her creative obsession, or the patron saint of “workaholicism”.

Writer’s frenzy isn’t something many people talk about. I doubt you’ll find it any “how to” writing ebooks. Actually, I’m pretty sure I made the term up. Indeed, some writer’s have never had it (whether that’s good fortune or not, I’ll let you decide). So let me further explain. Writer’s frenzy is the opposite of writer’s block. It’s writing for the sake of writing. It’s spinning the wheels on the bicycle when you’re already losing control down the mountain and the pedals are only turning air. To some degree, writer’s frenzy is great. We should all write a Jerry McGuire manifesto at least once in our lives. I’m sure writer’s frenzy is what a lot of writers might even strive for. But what’s that old saying? Too much of a good thing is sometimes not such a good thing.

Writer’s frenzy is not flow. Though it might start off as flow, it’s not destined to be a zen state. It’s mania. It’s the other extreme edge of the seesaw. Writer’s frenzy doesn’t just make Jerry McGuire write a manifesto one night, she makes him write one every night. It’s not healthy, and though it often disguises itself as intense productivity connecting you with the world and your passion, writer’s frenzy can lead us to misery and disconnection. And this doesn’t just apply to writers or even just artists. We all write our lives in this world whether we are merchant bankers or circus clowns. Writer’s frenzy keeps us toiling away only as a means of ignoring our real world problems. It comes down to this: are you using your work as an excuse to alienate yourself from the world?

I know I’m guilty of doing just that, especially in the years I lived in Bohemia. Sure, I’ve had success. I wrote four sell-out theatre plays in Prague and loved every minute of the journey. But I also at times disconnected myself from the world. Whether I was washing away my inner problems with beer and unhealthy habits, or spinning the wheels of my novel for the sake of spinning the wheels, I spent a lot of time running away. From a lot of things actually, maybe even success. It was probably a good thing to not always have two pints and two joints in hand. But sometimes the writing has to wait because health should never be sacrificed. Everything must be in balance.

The tenth muse must be put in her place.

Lately, I’ve been taking care of myself again. I refuse to be a struggling, miserable artist drowning my sorrows like any another stereotypical “Bohemian” artist. Because I’ve decided that no longer will art be my heroin. No. Art will be my heroine.

I’ve bought a back brace for my back. I’m doing yoga in the mornings. I’m drinking chamomile tea instead of endless coffee. I’m teaching myself to get up early again (I’m pushing for 5AM). I’m being a healthy writer. I’m going to be a happy artist. I can still be a Bohemian, I just choose to be a Bohemian who lives life to the fullest wherever I am.

The important thing is to be healthy, because by being healthy you can walk the creative path for longer and eventually, who knows, you might even realise where it is you’re really heading to.

 

Wanna join me? …


 


An illustration of a bowl of gruel.

MOOOORE?

[ORPHANAGE EATING AREA. COLD, STERILE, NO LOVE HERE. OLIVER TWIST TIMIDLY WALKS UP TO A BIG, FAT, GRUMPY OLD MAN AT THE END OF THE ROOM STANDING OVER A BIG POT OF GRUEL.]

OLIVER TWIST [HOLDING OUT HIS EMPTY BOWL]: Please sir, can I have some more?

CHEF [BOOMING VOICE]: MOOOORE?

OLIVER TWIST: Nah, seriously though.

[THE CHEF LOOKS OLIVER TWIST UP AND DOWN AGAIN.]

CHEF: Alright then.

[THE CHEF LADLES OUT ANOTHER PORTION OF GRUEL INTO OLIVER TWIST’S BOWL.]

THE END.