Now it’s dawning on me that we really are into a brand new year and I’m coming to terms with all the hope and expectation and mental exhaustion that goes along with it, and then after the five days of almost-forty-degree temperatures that we’ve had in this Australian part of the world (weather we’ve always had, it has to be said, but it doesn’t get easier, in fact it seems to get harder), and now with everything that’s happening in Haiti – what can I say about that disaster without sounding vacuous? – I’m afraid that the dear old brain has quite simply run aground.  Already.

So what better (read: easier) thing to do than post a handful of photographs, all of which were taken during the Christmas and New Year just gone in the small town an hour east of here where my father lives.  It’s essentially a nineteenth-century cattle-grazing joint, but the mainstreet is remarkably intact.  I took these shots while walking around after lunch one day, as all about me half of the city I live in was passing through the town on their way to the coast to escape…pretty well everything they know.

So there’s a picture of one of the strangest (and possibly most evil) Christmas shop-window displays imaginable.  There’s a soldier in the sky and under a streetlight, the soldier, of course, actually being the main part of the town’s beloved war memorial.  There’s the remnant of what must have been quite a session for a few bored local teenagers, or a few bored local hippies, or, let’s not pick on the usual suspects, maybe the local town priest who just needed a bit of time out, and who’d blame him for that?  And there’s someone else in the sky, this time a cemetery angel.  And, finally, another thing from the local cemetery: plastic flowers on a grave, which has always struck me as odd, the plastic, though at a time when someone so cherished has been lost just a little bit of colourful permanence wouldn’t go astray, surely.

Permanence. Now that’s something worth thinking about over the coming days (though I already know intransience is something us human types can never really have).

POSTCRIPT: while I’ve been getting this post together I’ve been listening to Unmap by Volcano Choir, a collaboration between Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and Collections of Colonies of Bees.  I won’t write at length about the album right now because I want to let it percolate for a few days so I can fully get my head around what the album’s trying to do, but let me say that mostly it’s a cracker.  For anyone interested in Bon Iver it’s certainly worth a listen to, particularly ‘Still’, which is a stunning reworking of ‘Woods’ off the Blood Bank EP.  I’m not going to upload that song here, because somehow it’d feel like gutting a great piece of music, but it’s worth purchasing Unmap just for this – talk about something wonderful to fall asleep to, which is exactly what I’ll be doing in a couple of minutes.  Until I write something a little bit more intelligent on this, check out the band’s website at http://www.volcanochoir.com.

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