I've just this last hour or so returned from a few days at a beach house in a secluded town in Victoria's south-east. The house receives no mobile phone signal and has no internet connection. I'd wake up in the morning, throw on some shorts, grab a towel and walk over the road. The path from there was kinda creepy, weaving through the tea-trees, ribbonned with spiderwebs, but eventually it broke out on to the expanse of 90-mile beach. I'd bob around in the water for a bit, swim against the undertow for a couple of minutes, then hike back up to the house.
I hadn't wanted to take a bike at all, but threw in my beater at the last minute, and it was this bike that I'd jump on immediately after drying off. I'd ride the four or five kilometres to Marl's Foodarama (actual name), which, as well as selling newspapers, was the only place in town to receive mobile reception. I'd buy the papers and spend a few minutes checking my emails, answering texts, and generally interacting with the outside world. When that was done I'd ride back to the house, make some cereal and coffee, and spend the next hour or two reading the paper.
My Scottish friend KA Nicholson once asked me if Australian kids, when they're trying to make difficult life choices, really do go down to the beach and stare out at the water, like they do on Home and Away. I was honest with her, of course, and said that they actually do. I didn't do any staring out at the water while I was away, so I guess I didn't have any difficult life choices to make. I did, however, have a number of minor epiphanies while reading Boy Racer, but those were more along the lines of, "Man, as well as being a decent bike racer, Mark Cavendish sure knows how to pick a ghost writer!" and, immediately after finishing, "I'm not going to buy any more books by bike racers whose careers are not yet over. " With the Cav book it was kinda ok, because he'd done a fair bit by the time it came out, and he's definitely a character, but for some reason Nicholas Roche also has a book out, and his career hasn't even really started yet. Just what the hell does he have to write about?
I also borrowed Blakey's copy of Russell Mockridge: The Man In Front, but it was so fucking godawful that I couldn't finish it. And that's really saying something. I mean, I'm pretty tolerant of bad writing - sometimes I can even finish columns written by Anthony Tan. But this book was pretty much the worst biography I've ever read, sporting or otherwise. Part of the problem is the subject matter - while Mockridge was definitely an interesting character, his relatively short life doesn't leave much to write about. However, instead of milking the stories, the interviews and the tall tales, most of this book concentrates on his death and the subsequent coronial inquests. Which, incidentally, is not interesting reading. Nor is it what I want to be reading about while I'm lazing on the beach trying to eliminate my lycra tan.
I also finally finished the Woody Guthrie book. It was pretty good, even if it did result in me having 'Takes A Worried Man' in my head for the entire trip. For the past few days I most certainly have not been a worried man, but apparently not even that can stop me from singing a worried song.