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Podlike: Paper radio & a prawn

The big prawn

a bank of lights

shining a light on the Paper Radio podcast

Paper Radio is an Aussie/NZ podcast. Their last podcast was end 2015, but more episodes are on the way. Paper Radio recently snuck back into my consciousness when they were made a Radiotopia Podquest semi-finalist. And for whatever reason, it seems that crayfish are everywhere right now too. So when Paper Radio came back into view, their big prawn story crawled right along with it.

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and yet somehow that big prawn episode has always stayed with me. I thought that maybe the theme of big things would not carry overseas. But I discovered recently that Katia Pase’s tale was rebroadcast as part of an episode of The Truth (and on Radio Tonic).

There’s something timeless here. It’s not only the tale, but the way the tale has been edited and mixed. It sings and it stays with you. It left a haunting little place in my heart.

We could see the creature a mile away. Dad pulled in at the servo and I got out of the car and looked at the Big Prawn from across the road. It wasn’t pink at all. It was a faded white colour and it’s eyes were all googly and weird.

The big prawn is, for me, a story about searching for something you can’t really hope to find. And that’s a message that can be shared anywhere in the world.


 

I REMEMBER

a book signed by terry pratchettI remember the day I met Sir Terry Pratchett.

He wasn’t a sir then, but he was already popular. I live on the wrong side of the turtle, so I’d been reading him for many years before I had the chance to meet him in the flesh.

I can still see his face, the room, the books.

Terry had been signing those books all day. He was short-tempered because his hand hurt. He should have been furious. We ask so much of authors like him. Terry looked at me suspiciously when I told him my name. He wrote it down, but seemed certain I’d made it up in some way. I’d been in an accident the night before, so I can imagine how I looked. The staff of the bookshop had kindly given me a chair to sit on as I waited in the queue and I was sleepy from the painkillers. I remember the eyebrow he raised as I approached. I remember it and I treasure it.

It wasn’t a very long wait as book-signings go, but it didn’t matter. I would have waited an eternity.

When I heard of his death this morning, I found I couldn’t move. It wasn’t a surprise, but it was devastating all the same.

I thought all day about when to write this post. I thought it might be better if I left it until I’m less angry. Less lost. And then I re-read Neil Gaiman’s article on the angry man that was Terry Pratchett.

‘I rage at the imminent loss of my friend. And I think, “What would Terry do with this anger?” Then I pick up my pen, and I start to write.’
Neil Gaiman

I also read Scott Lynch’s furious There is no Past Tense of Terry Pratchett. So, anger and sadness be damned – here I am.

I’m not angry that Terry has left the world so soon. If there was anyone that could fight Death, it was him. I doubt he left quietly.

I’m not angry that the Discworld has stopped at Raising Steam. What a gift it was. The finest of books in the finest of series. How can I be angry in the face of such of riches.

I could never be angry for the words he left behind. There are so damned many. And they can never be erased. If they burnt every book and tried to erase him from the libraries, the orangutangs and I would still hold his memory. Perhaps not every word – not exactly as it spilled across the page – but the way of his words, his way of seeing things, and the way he could shine a light upon an otherwise upside-down world.

His works don’t stop here. They can’t stop. His words and his worlds live on. His fans, to who he was so giving and so generous, will carry them always.

We will be forever grateful.

So, why am I angry? I’m angry for the way that we lost him. That we had to lose him at all. What I want to say here, falls apart. I stare at this paragraph and the screen blurs. It is futile and it is anger. It is loss.

Since my teenage years, Terry has been a constant thread in my life, from the first word to the last. When the internet came along, he was there with it. When The L-Space web and afp were built, if you lurked and were patient, you would find traces of his presence.

His constancy has been his words. His words and his vivid, insightful, incredible imagination.

I was asked recently about authors that have influenced me. Without notice, it’s an unfair question and, while I came up with some good authors at the time, Isaac Asimov included, I left out so many. Including Sir Terry. Because he wasn’t an influence. He was bigger and wilder than that. His words were everywhere. He was a flood. A constant, bright and shining wonder.

I have more than once taken the time to try and tell him what he meant to me. By email, in person, in dedications. And, if only the once and only briefly, I think that he heard. I still have his reply. What I told him wasn’t enough. It couldn’t be. How could I ever find words big enough to pay back the incredible debt of gratitude I owe him?

I was a stranger to him, but he resided deep in my heart and mind. And, although he is gone, it is there I will forever find him. There and in the pages of his books.

Farewell, Sir Terry.

In your words you live on.

‘Up on the mountains, as the blizzards closed in, there was a red glow in the snow. It was there all winter, and when the spring gales blew, the rubies glittered in the sunshine.

No one remembers the singer. The song remains.’

— Terry Pratchett, The Last Hero

 

Creative photography in the vanishing north

The last few months have seen me spending more time writing for other people’s projects and not so much for the little Bibelots. As well, I’ve been getting ready for a group photographic exhibition as part of completing my creative photography studies at the Centre for Creative Photography.

Our exhibition launches Friday the 7th of March at the National Wine Centre. I hope you can come along.

What follows is my artist’s statement for that endeavour. Enjoy.


Artist’s Statement: The Vanishing North

landscape with telegraph poles and a creek“…all land, no matter what has happened to it, has over it a grace, an absolutely persistent beauty.” from the artist’s statement for ‘The New West’, by Robert Adams, 1974

The world is changing. It always has been, even when we were so young we thought it would stay the same forever. The landscape, unlike the continent beneath it, changes so rapidly and so thoroughly that if you don’t pay attention you won’t see it happen. These changes are at times beautiful, but more often they are ordinary and urbane, if not ugly. 
Too often, they are irreversible.

As houses fill in the horizon, what space is left for contemplation? And is what remains beautiful or is it scarred? Look to the landscape that I grew up with. The landscape of memory can sometimes purify how things really were. It wasn’t pristine, but it was productive. It wasn’t grandiose or heroic. It was a place that people worked and lived. It was as diverse as the stories of the people that lived there.

The memory of this place is still there, out North and North-West, but it’s vanishing. And to find it, the whole story of it, I had to go beyond my own backyard.

It was only a short journey, but it was a long way back in time.


Find out more

www.hatpeople.com.au/exhibitions/

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