Oh, the hoops you have to jump through just to get five minutes writing time. Work on this, project that, pick up this, clean up that. Lordy me…
Is it any wonder then that from time to time a gal retrospects on simpler (?), happier (?) times?
Hence my delving back into the pre-kid, pre-career, pre-thirty something days of 90s share-housing, with all its wild characters and foul odours. And how better to get there than via John Birmingham’s He Died with a Felafel in his Hand. For those who’ve not picked this one up (or who have forgotten reading it, in a bucket-bong haze) John’s novel recalls a range of houses, housemates and various misadventures when sharing-housing in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. It is darkly funny and very entertaining.
I’ve got to admit I’d forgotten a lot my own stories about hairy house-matery (my own and others) and this collection of tales is a hilarious reminder. If like me, you’ve let those trainee pharmacists, gamers, market-researchers, English-language students, and guitarists slip your mind – this will bring it all flooding back.
One of the most intriguing things about this book is that although the various characters; the goths, the junkies, the writers – are of course fascinating, it’s the accessories to the tales that resonate the most with me; the pets, the food and the furniture. Share-house cats bring to mind my first time out of home, living in a house full of kittens and everything covered in fur and cat poo (i.e. not so keen on the kitty now). The repeated ‘theme’ of fish fingers and meat pies seems fitting, as let’s face it, we’d have all starved without the ready availability of this kind of fare. I myself survived on scrambled eggs for six months. Even the title of the book reminds me of many a night spent wandering (weaving?) up and down Chapel Street deliberately passing by the felafal store a few extra times to cop the free samples being handed out by some poor minimum-wager.
And who’d think mention of the old brown couch would bring back such a cascade of memories? My own couch was brown, and was ingeniously held up with milk-crates and phonebooks. This was only topped by my on-floor mattress, hand-me-down fridge with no freezer door, and my op-shop cooking pot (yes, singular).
So, John, thanks…Felafel gave me cause to remember all those crazy chicks, dirty boys, kitty-cats and crappy food. Fondly. It also highlighted quite nicely just how much more comfortable my new corner lounge suite is, and how nice my current housemates are (a husband, two boy-kids and a dog)… even if they do still leave dirty socks pretty much everywhere.