Sunday, July 4, 2010


"If you were an Archibald prize entry, you'd be a perfect portrait of middle class guilt."

Jason, like me, is extra snarky when he's not being paid attention to. I figured this out about three minutes after I met him, and he probably worked out the same about me. The problem today is that I'm trying to make my bed, listen to his griping/advice, learn the entire Camera Obscura discography and re-read Moll Flanders.

It's the latter that's causing me the most grief. I've read it before, sure, but it's the first book we're supposed to read for the ominously titled "The Novel" course, and I want to make sure I've got a decent grasp on it. The fact that the book is currently lying on the floor under my phone suggests that there is no grasping. I got distracted by Jase and his rude comment about my hypothetical Archibald painting. Surely my hair's not that bad, I responded, and would his be any better? We're both from similar backgrounds, both irritated that we're hampered by class in a supposedly classless world, and are both attracted to prints over pastels.

Australia can be surprisingly class-centric. Currently our media is fixated on our new PM, a 10pound Pom (like my grandparents?) from Wales. The words "working class background" are tossed around like some sort of exotic salad. What does it mean? What if Gillard was a toff? Isn't she a toff anyway, being our PM and all? Can we say we're a classless society when we're turning people away from our country and always talking about those wretched baby boomers, who have ruined everything? How am I supposed to feel in all of that, when I'm the picture of the problem with our generation, unemployed and unrepentant? It gets under my skin and I can't express how I feel about my spot in life, except to say that I'm worried, probably for all the wrong reasons.

When I was thinking all of this, I got so worked up that I had to sit upside down for a bit. And then when I stopped being dizzy, I tried Moll Flanders again. The problem with Defoe is that he writes in first person, and I've never fully reconciled with first person, because there's always an annoying part of me that says "this isn't you. you wouldn't be doing this." The last book I can think of that was written in the first person that really grabbed me was The Elegance of the Hedgehog (I am looking forward, in my own anxious way, to seeing the movie)....oh! and A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr, which I read last week. It's a lovely little book about English summertime. But other than those two, I just don't 'get' first person. It's probably a middle class failing. I hope that my Archibald artist can capture that when they paint my portrait.

And that I can decline all telephone conversations until after midday.

When I'm not reading books, then I'm looking at them.

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