I have always sung; I am a singer. There is a song in my head for every occasion, and for this I am eternally grateful. Blame long church services, and me; restless with youth and the itch to run and do and play, I would gladly burst into hearty hymns led by the booming voice of my father, an Anglican Priest in Rockhampton.
In our small street, there were three churches. The Methodists, who always looked so sad; the Seventh Day Adventists; who had recorded bell chimes, and us, the small, rowdy and dirt poor community of St Barnabas. I’d swing off the single church bell at 6.30 am, after a quick shake awake from dad. That man had so much energy; it exhausts me to recall it, even now. Thirty-three rings Patty, no more, no less, remember? Yes dad, you tell me every Sunday morning, and off I’d go; getting a good hard pull, enough to raise my skinny brown legs off the ground to my own hilarity. I am a clown, and together our black cocker spaniel and I would bay and howl together, totally forgetting to count the pulls and chimes.
As I became older, visiting the teenage years of sulk and flounce, my weight kept me grounded. The bells simply rang, and our dear old cocker would lay on the dirt nearby, one eye open to watch me yank the cord crossly in exasperation.
The singing, however continued; and I discovered the amazing world of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.
In the stinking heat of Rockhampton, where the gasping sparrows found refuge under the eaves of the old Rectory, I would listen to each word, noting every guitar chord and sweet, melancholy utterance. They became my dearest friends, teaching me so much about the world, and making sense of the insensible.
They sang me of love, (Kathy's Song) sex (Cecilia) crime, (Somewhere They Can't Find Me) self belief (I am a rock) death (Richard Cory) architecture (So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright) light-heartedness (Feeling Groovy) graffiti (A Poem on the Underground Wall) and so on. I will always be eternally grateful to their music.
And so today I drive down from the coast, listening to their album in my car, singing with each, sweet note. I vibrate energy inside, in my heart. It’s my gift to myself, leaning on the old familiar strains and chords, lifting my voice to swell with delight to a favourite song. Driving back towards the steadying horror, which seems to have peaked and is now ebbing - each day fading the Brisbane floods from my memory.
Today the engineers arrive to inspect the house. Their report will decide the future of my mother-in-law. To bulldoze and rebuild? To buy an apartment? To sell the land?
In the silence between the music tracks, I am reminded of the Mormons Helping Hands, and their familiar catch-cry: “Good job!” Each thankless task, greeted with a cheery call.
“Good job Josh!”
“Good job Steven.”
Good job Brisbane! We have shaken off the much lauded big city title, and have reverted back to a 'big country town', where neighbours help each other, and are involved in each others lives. Real people matter once again, and communities are re-born.
Good job Brisbane. Love your work!
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