Tuesday, April 18, 2006

da vinci code, donnelly river, dogs on a big rock

The Da Vinci Code is a book I had long wanted to read because it has obviously had such an impact on everybody, including whoever it was who wrote the article about American Christianity in Saturday’s Age A2 section (well actually it was Friday’s A2 section, because they put the section back a day for Easter). It is, I have to say, a page turner full of great twists and no-one is really who they say they are or think they are, in fact I think everyone does the twist at some point.

I know it’s sour grapes to say I don’t think it’s massively well written, because I couldn’t write a book like that, and if I could I think I probably would, even if it wasn’t a million seller; I’d just like to write a gripping fictional narrative. But I do think that the lack of realism of the whole thing, I mean in terms of dialogue rather than action, is a bit of a let down. For instance, the scenes where reporters and tv interviewers go in for obtuse interviews and react to everything said, which never happens on tv. I hate that stuff. One thing I do like about it is the way that almost all the action takes place ‘in real time’ so to speak. There’s no break until the last 50 pages or so, even then there may not be a break, it’s hard to tell. As for the central ancient mystery, I am pretty cool on it; I don’t greatly care about the Mary Magdalene stuff except in the abstract. I think Brown falls down on the question of the importance of the MM element. He mentions that it has implications for the perception of Jesus as holy or more than human but as with so many of these things I always feel that if you’re going to have faith you must surely believe that God can make anything happen; the ins and outs of Mary Magdalene are surely a side-story to the central issue.

My airport novel on the way back is going to be Christos Tsiolkas’ Dead Europe (later: it wasn't. It was Ian McEwan's marvellous Atonement. I couldn't find Tsiolkas). For some reason I have suddenly got the big idea I really want to read this book. I am not sure why but I seriously do.

I love staying at Mia’s parents’ house, for many reasons including the fact that I really like them, and also the fact that they feed us very well and make us very welcome, and give us a lot of wine and so on, including the very nice South Australian one I’m drinking right now. They have a great house. It’s about twenty five years old, and on at least three levels – the front entrance is a long way down from the road, and there’s a kitchen/dining room. Then there’s another level, with a kind of sitting room arrangement. Then there’s a level below that, with a study. All of these levels are under the one ceiling. There are verandahs to one side and you can see Perth airport from the sitting room window. Out the back there is a creek which I don’t think I have ever seen running though I believe it does, in the colder months. And you can see the other side of the creek valley from the windows at the back. There are huge rocks everywhere.

This morning I woke very early (well, 6ish which is actually later than I usually wake on a weekday) to the sound of what I was later told was a telephone bird. Millie and Charlie had been completely quiet all night so I went down to see them. I also had a strong coffee. I felt wide awake so I spent some time clarifying various bits of crap on the study guide which I seem to have been working on my entire adult life and which was due a month ago. Or was it two months ago. I also had some muesli. Then everyone else got up and I had a second breakfast. We drove out to Mundaring Weir and looked at it from a distance, from something called I think the Golden View or Golden Lookout or something. It was tops. Then we went to Gidgiegannup Bakery where Laura and Greg were on duty. There was a big misunderstanding between Greg, Laura and an Ian Rilen type at a table there, who had ordered a pie of some sort and had been told that it was just about to come out of the oven. It was hard to gauge, from listening in from another table, what exactly had happened but the point was they hadn’t given him what he wanted and could not establish exactly what he did want. They said they had blueberry pies and he asked if they had a strawberry pie.

Donnelly River (April 21)

We have spent four days at Donnelly River Holiday Village in southern WA. It was built by Bunnings in the early 50s as a settlement for workers at a timber mill on the banks of the Donnelly, a river which doesn’t seem to flow. The town itself was known as Wheatley but it has since been changed to something a little more descriptive. There is no mobile phone coverage and certainly no internet. What there is is loads of kangaroos and emus who like to be fed and will come right up to you with this in mind. Some of the kangaroos are more docile than others and still the very tame ones will get a bit shirty – fair enough. Typing this I realise I have forgotten how to type. Anyway, so basically it is 39 houses that look very 1930s but are actually 1950s, all apparently on the same floorplan entirely, and every time you come back from being away somewhere for a short time they are full of lazy blowflies, but it is really pretty great. Presumably the houses once had fences around them but in the spirit of community and of letting the kangaroos get around, these have been taken down and the houses all just float in the dirt. Most of them are arranged around a central wooded park area. There is a ‘general store’ area and a few other huts including a tv room where a children’s film is shown every night. I did as much research as I could on this area when we were at the Nannup Historical Society the other day and I found that, when the place stopped being a mill (in 1978) it was either sold or let briefly to HomesWest, then it was taken over by a private developer, and by the early 80s it was a thriving holiday camp place. And as well as the general store building there was a shop called Crazee Ladies which sadly is no longer.

I feel now fairly familiar with the surrounding towns, the aforementioned Nannup, Manjimup where I got a way cool jumper yesterday which boasts of my support for the football team the Manjimup Imperials – you’ll be seeing me wearing this a lot – and two shirts, one of which purports to be a Pierre Cardin, and a TransPerth jacket. Another town is Bridgetown which is preparing itself to become the new Margaret River when Margaret River prices itself out of existence. We have spent a bit of time in all of these. Also, yesterday (which incidentally was also my birthday) we went to Pemberton and rode the tram which I believe runs on what was once a logging railway. Very scenic and the tram driver’s commentary ranged the full gamut from bottom humour to risqué front parts of a man humour. He looked a bit like Robin Williams the actor/comedian. He was also an apiarist and sold honey out of the boot of his car when we got back to Pemberton. Mia’s father had once lived in Pemberton in the early 1960s when he worked for the forestry department, he lived in a one-bedroom hut in the forest and chose a particular kind of wood to be used in the construction of the ceiling of Parliament House. He also went out on a few dates with the butcher’s daughter.

For my birthday I was given the first four books of the Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. My sister lent me the first of these some time ago and I read it quickly but never got round to reading any of the others, so I was very up for it and in fact am close to finishing the fourth. Excellent holiday reading. I don’t know what I am going to do when I finish it but I suppose there won’t be much more holiday anyway, so that’s OK. Back to the grind which includes shepherding a few sleepy and miserable students along to the dawn service on Anzac Day at sparrow fart, myself having had four hours’ sleep. I am sincerely not looking forward to this.

I am such a fan of WA. I don’t know if I would be as much of a fan if I lived here rather than came every year or so but I do really love being here. There is a lot to complain about I suppose not least the ghastly attitudes to race, etc one encounters all the time but you could hardly say that Victoria was exempt from that or anywhere else in the world. In that regard I suppose WA gets a bad rap and in fact got one from me just a few sentences ago. I love the way WA looks, the guppy spark attitude which needs a special word which doesn’t exist, the way you sometimes feel like you’re in another country, and so on. I am right into it.


Gilmore said...

gosh I do love your dog narratives/pix. perhaps I should come to Australia just to visit la belle Millie.

boy said...

You're like the paparazzi of the dog world