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Friday, 10 November 2017


Our tame globetrotting poet does it again - David Farnsworth in full flight:


 Out of the Window

Hi, my name's Fernando. I'm a fruit fly. I live with David.
He lives with me. Whatever. The alcohol here is unlimited, and
such good quality. You might have noticed we fruit flies love our

David has given me the task of writing this piece. He has told me
to write fast, don't stop and be as trivial as you like. I like the
last one.

I am writing this perched on the rim of a glass containing
a stiff gin and tonic and a slice of lemon. While I write, David is
reading "Bleak House" by Charles Dickens. The poor man is up to
page 587. Only another 413 pages to go. And there is much
 housework and gardening waiting for him!

On the nature strip opposite, a couple of magpies have taken
possession, hunting off a couple of blackbirds, who were there first.
I feel sorry for the worms. It's been a wet year. Luckily here, the
pickings for the spiders  have been so poor, they have decamped, so I
don't have a worry in the world.

The red car opposite has just moved off. People in this street come and go
all day. There's always something to notice. The red car people are
all female and always, in the weekends, filling the car with beach
equipment. Oh, that we could be so lucky. David tells me we are off
to Maryborough tomorrow. "Can you manage four hours without
alcohol?" he asks. "I guess we will make up for it on our return."
I reply.

Green-haired Bob's roses need pruning. He's such a busy man. David's
roses need pruning too.

My technical name is Drysophila. (The red car has just returned and
is disgorging passengers) David tells me that he and a few mature-
aged students (teachers) were attempting to pass a diploma studying something
called Biology as part of a Social Sciences course. They were studying the
mating habits of the Drysophila. He and a friend failed the subject four
times.  I often worry about the intellect of David. To get him and his friend to graduate, they deleted the subject.

David has refilled his glass. I just managed to avoid the bubbles from
the tonic water smudging this page.

The pink flowering-gum overhanging this window is festooned with gum nuts.
The new flower buds are swelling. Two weeks ago, four spotted pardolates
were feeding on insects, which were feeding on the leaves. They improved
the tree's health. One good turn deserves another.

After a -2C morning (8C in the house), the sun shone, the sky
was a deep blue and as I write, the sun is sinking, as it does, in
the West.

South-west at night, you get the lights from the trotting track.
David says I would love it there. There is so much alcohol in the
Flying Horse Bistro.

Maryborough  01/ 09/ 17


I did such a good job on the last piece of writing, David has asked to do the hard work on this one. In case you've forgotten, my name's Fernando and I'm a fruit fly. I live with David. He lives with me. Whatever.

Happiness for me will be when a female fruit fly flies in through an open window or down a chimney. Now the weather is warming up, the chances are greater. I have known unhappiness in my life. I lost 16 wives and 326 children when someone sprayed my home with insect repellent. My family were dropping like flies!  I am still in mourning.

David is going to tell me what to write. Here he goes... his head still in his wine glass.

"When I was a young child I would ride my bike around Ballarat pretending I was visiting foreign countries. I loved atlasses; knew the names of all the world's countries and their capital cities. I loved the shapes and colours of Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Austria.

I started travelling abroad when I was about 37. (So many wasted years)  Maybe then overseas travel was more expensive? The sheer bliss of foreign travel.

In young days, when I didn't need to go to the toilet so often, I would ask for a window seat.
The world would be set out below you. The subsistance farming up the volcanic peaks of Papua New Guinea ... flying over the Himalayas at night in moonlight... flying over the Arctic Circle ... all pink and icy.

Maybe unhappiness was when I couldn't afford to travel?

Happiness was teaching at a well-run school with dedicated staff. Unhapiness was the opposite. I experienced both. Happiness is being part of a friendly group like writers in Maryborough. Believe me, not all writing groups are as friendly as this one is.

Happiness was looking at the Tian Shan Mountains in China for the first time, maybe ten years ago. As a youth I had drawn maps which featured the Central Asian mountain chains.

The sheer joy of floating in a hot spring heated pool in Tibet, looking at the Himalayas in the background or in a glassed in heated pool in the Rocky Mountains, near Jasper in Canada.

So many happy moments."

David has just rescued me from my small glass of gin. I'd fallen asleep. His story is so boring and repetitious. He picked me out with a tea-spoon. My wings should dry quite soon.

"Happy moments also included many memorable meals and wines, mainly in foreign climes.
Roasted meats and heavy red wine in Beograd, Beijing Duck in Beijing, Dumplings in Weifang,
the salads in California, the oysters in the Oyster Bar underneath Grand Central station New York, the clam chowder on Alaskan Airlines, the French food and wine in Noumea. The memories linger.

Happiness is a state of mind which has to be developed. One needs to monitor one's state of mind and keep it fresh and in good humour. I spent 30 years running huge distances which I suspect reduced my stress levels. At least stress levels let us know we are alive. Many of the best things and times are free. With my 'new' eyesight I can now see the beauty and details of cloud formations, the details of the natural world.  Walking and identifying the local birds.

Happiness closer to home? Skiing in fresh snow at Falls Creek, performing in plays , maybe over a hundred over a thirty year period. Snorkelling at Coral Bay and on the Great Barrier Reef, climbing Ayers Rock, driving my car at 185kph in the Northern Territory when it was legal.

Fernando is starting to totter. I should stop while I am still ahead.

Centre Stage

In my twenties, and to my fifties, I spent much of my time on stage, especially in Ballarat.

When I was a child and even later, I was a nervous soul, who stammered .It took until I was about 14 for this to disappear. Strangely, when I sang in Church and school choirs, I didn't stammer.

At the Anglican Cathedral, as a boy soprano, I was chief chorister. I wore a medal on a thick blue ribbon around my neck, over my surplice and cassock.

At Secondary School, I performed in a couple of plays in the chorus. At Teachers' College I was in the debating team. All of these things gave me confidence. When I went to Mt Beauty, in North East Victoria, the local garage owner told me to join the local Drama Group and to not have my hair cut in town. (The barber was an alcoholic!)

I remember playing the villain and the Dame in a pantomime. One of my lines was,  "And my baby, my poor baby was torn from my breast." Cast member in ad lib, "Did it leave a hole?"
We had so much fun. I remember a play reading of The Deep Blue Sea in front of a small audience, where the cast followed the stage instructions and drank real alcohol. It was chaotic.

When I got to Ballarat I joined Wendouree Arts Council and Ballarat National Theatre and played in Lyric Theatre's productions of Kiss Me Kate and The Pajama Game. At an audition I was asked whether I wanted a main role or a chorus role. (I had been drinking.)

I said, "A main role or nothing!"  I got nothing. I probably appeared in hundred productions in thirty years. I was on stage somewhere most days.

At Sebastopol Technical School, I usually made announcements during the assembly in front of 1200 people. This did wonders for your confidence as well. All of this is Centre Stage.
For one assembly I organized Gough Whitlam and Margaret to attend and speak at assembly.
 We also had famous Australian sprinter, Peter Norman.

Of course, teaching is an activity where you take centre stage. Classrooms even had a platform (stage) to stand on.

In China, I took Centre stage, part of a 30 minute advertisement on commercial TV for the school I was employed at. My 15 seconds of fame. When I was riding my bike, people in buses would point at me. I wrote a poem in English in the playground and a photo of the poem appeared on the front of a school newspaper, distributed to 6,000,000 children.

Was it Shakespeare who said the whole world's a stage? We are acting most of the time.  In my declining years, I am now happy to occupy stage left or right. The time is coming when I won't be on stage at all.

Read David's Travel Poetry anthology Middle Kingdom