Monday, December 20, 2004

I have cold climate genes. I was born in a town where the only ways out were the railway tunnel that ran under the mountains & a road pass through the mountains that was often snowed shut. I began school in another town where I refused to wear shoes so that I could break the ice on the puddles with my bare feet. The town after that was far enough south to be able to see the Aurora Australis. Strangely enough I have never lived anywhere where snow was commonplace.

I remember coal-fired trains, coal stoves, no ice-boxes but a cupboard, called a safe, that was on the outside of the house, with zinc mesh so that the wind could breathe through but the flies couldn't enter. The milk was delivered, tipped out into billy-cans from a churn. The bread was delivered, unwrapped, tasty, loaves that broke in half & which I used to love eating the insides out of. There is a Henry Miller piece I have always liked called the Staff of Life in which he bemoaned the trend in the U.S. towards tasteless bread. Which has now conquered the world, & bred niche markets for bread the way it used to be. At one hundred times the price.

There were outside toilets, "dunnies", that would be emptied by the night-soil man. I do not remember, but my parents have told me of, the night-soil collecter who was prosecuted because he also used to deliver the milk. At the same time.

All this prompted by the fact that it's hot & humid & uncomfortable at present, & I'm reading volume one of Bob Dylan's Chronicles. "The sound of trains off in the distance more or less made me feel at home." Not an autobiography, more of a memoir. Large chunks left out that I would rather have been put in. Though maybe that's how the ongoing volumes are going to be, collated like a game of leapfrog or a knight's moves in chess, each part jumping about, so that you need to read the volume after to discover what happened halfway through the one before.

& historic events as almost throwaway sentences.
"As for me, what I did to break away was to take simple folk changes and put new imagery and attitude to them, use catchphrases and metaphor combined with a new set of ordinances that evolved into something different that had not been heard before."

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