Growing up in Ballarat: a beginners guide to sodomy.
It was only through dint of sheer cunning that I managed to stow away in a small hatbox my mother had put aside for her collection of art deco cuckoo clocks. The long and perilous journey down the Western highway was for me a dark and lonely affair, punctuated only by the winsome callings of wooden birds circa 1932 and the groans of a badly injured hitchhiker Father had elected to run down and tie to the roof rack to protect the ski gear.
Upon arrival in the Great Western Mullock Heap, my appearance in the hatbox was a cause of initial confusion and dismay, though this mainly due to my mother’s insistence that I reside on top of the piano and call the hours. I feared this was to be my fate in perpetuity, until Mother relented when she realised I did not match the curtains. A lucky escape for me indeed, though an unfortunate turn of events for my more colour appropriate sister.
So myself, my sister and parents, together with Jahn the hitchhiker, (who Father had had made into a fetching summer lounge and decreed was now very much a part of the furniture,) settled in to our new life in the country.[1. Jahn was to spend many joyful years with us until an Ikea catalogue sealed his destiny in the coming hard rubbish collection. His swarthy Germanic hide however is still the talk of the chalet each snow season.]
I myself was overjoyed to be finally accepted into our loving nuclear family, as the various attempts by my parents to abandon me were well documented in both the family history and the Family Court. At age two I had been left to fend for myself in a National Park (ParkSafe on Swanston to be precise: $5.00 early bird rate Mon – Fri), and even upon being delivered into this world my mother stamped ‘Not at this Address’ on my forehead and placed me back in the mailbox. I only avoided a life in the Dead Letter Office by posing as a ‘Winners Circle’ envelope from Readers’ Digest, and signing them up to a lifetime of exclusive timeshare offers.
And so life in contemporary Deadwood began: ice on the horse trough, snow glistening on the homeless, those early summers in Ballarat were a delight. I would read homoerotic fairy stories devised by my Grandfather in his youth (or youths, if he got really lucky), carving my initials into Jahn’s broad (and now posturepaedic) back. My father would enter the room on a litter of puppies, swathed in whale meat and banjos and declare ‘I am your Lord God and Master, ruler of worlds, destroyer of kings, and lecturer in Physics at the local University!’ without a trace of hubris. Indeed hubris was rare and difficult to obtain at that time. When I was at school you could only get hubris every second weekend and then only if ‘Jimmy the Knuckle’ was in town. My parents would save their hubris each year and portion it out on Christmas day with cries of ‘God bless you Tiny Tim’, and ‘Michael! Get back under the table’. Childhood was hard, and particularly humiliating for my sister whose name wasn’t Tim. My parents were good people, according to their lawyer. Just unprepared for the harsh realities of mind boggling wealth and privilege and so kept their children in a state of unrelenting poverty in order to learn the value of poverty. (Which from bitter experience is worth precisely $3.48 (+GST) it having been devalued during the ’80’s in order to raise the value of wealth.) Despite this deprivation my family was rich in laughter, which unfortunately will not support a two hundred dollar a week smack habit as my father found out much to the loss of his fingers.
Ahh Father. A wonderful man, with the heart of an innocent child, as well as the kidneys (my sister having called dibs on the rest). He had made good money from his job in the Royal bank of Nigeria and my mother was highly sought after in the childcare industry as a paedophile. Happy together, even happier apart, ours was a family knit close by love and court orders. The future however, had a darker design ready to release as part of destiny’s winter collection…
To be continued.
© Michael Wannenmacher 2011