Dark Ages

Tomorrow, I’m leaving for a week away in Newcastle. It’s where I grew up and most of my family is still there so I try to go back at least once or twice a year to visit. It’s always strange. It doesn’t feel like going back home – it hasn’t been my home for well over a decade now, and I don’t have any particularly fond memories tied too closely to place or locale – but there is a certain inevitable nostalgia about any time spent there. Stuff that’s changed, stuff that hasn’t. Stuff about me that’s changed, and stuff that really hasn’t. For better or worse.

Anyway. For practical purposes, a visit to Newcastle for me means very limited internet access. This is primarily because I’m staying with my mother and she does not have an internet account at home (“I can do anything I need to from work, Kirstyn.”) She also lives in Maitland (about 40 minutes further up the Hunter River from Newcastle) and at last check there is still no local internet cafe. Five billion and one “antique” shops, but no bloody public broadband. So I take my laptop with its cruddy 56K inbuilt modem that only gets used in desperate times such as these, and dial up every couple of days to check my email which is about all my patience can stand.

Usually, I try to view the whole thing as one of those fabled retreats from technology which are meant to be so good for the soul. Usually it sort of works. I realise that I don’t actually *need* to have the internet at my beck and call, and I do feel a little clearer of mind after being unplugged for a week or so.

But right now, for various reasons, I do not want to leave the internet behind. I’m dreading being cut off from certain things, certain people. I’m already having withdrawal symptoms and minor pangs of anxiety. It’s not good. Last week, I seriously considered buying an iPhone. Cause, you know, I need to have 24/7 access. To everything. And everyone. Need it.


Welcome to the 21st Century, McDermott. Now, when do we get those implants?


You know you read too much True Crime when …

… you’re walking through an underground shopping centre car park and a guy in a wheelchair, his left leg right angled and bristling with one of those metal pins-and-braces deals they put on for really bad injuries, calls out to you as you approach and asks if you can help him get his chair into the back of his station wagon, and you find yourself keeping a subtle but minimum safe distance while surreptitiously inspecting said pins to make sure they actually do go all the way into his leg, and that the awful knee-to-ankle scar is real and not made from latex, before saying, "Sure, no problem at all."

Just in case, you know, he’s trying to pull a Ted Bundy on your arse.

So you help him with his crutches and fold away his chair and close the back of his station wagon for him, learning all the while how he was down from far north Queensland on holidays, only he had a motorcycle accident, and now there is a bone infection, and so he’s stuck here in Melbourne for at least three more months with the stupid wheelchair that’s too heavy for him to get in and out of his car easily on his own.

And he thanks you and says, "It good to know there are still nice people in the world." And you smile and wish him as speedy a recovery as possible, and walk away feeling good but still mentally tallying up the good samaritan points (which surely must offset some of the wicked things you’ve done, or are planning to do), andrealise that here you are all dressed in black in the height of Melbourne summer, wearing your I Killed Amanda Palmer t-shirt no less, stalking through an underground car park in your sunglasses and boots, and maybe the poor helpless guy in the wheelchair was just a little trepidatious about asking for your help.

Just in case, you know, you mugged him for his groceries or something instead.

But yes, it is good to know there are still nice people in the world. Get well soon, broken leg dude. Hope you make it back home before winter.