Patrick Lenton

Patrick Lenton is here to spice up your Sunday Night with his comic musings. Patrick Lenton is a writer of theatre, prose and comedy. He has just finished up his show 100 Years of Lizards as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival. For more of Patrick’s musing check out his blog The Spontaneity Review.

Skynet’s terrifying caterpillar-horses, AKA the train.

From time immemorial, people have looked at that blue concave temptress known as the horizon and become daunted. It is not a small world, despite that moment when you meet your year eight maths teacher in the same brothel in Thailand. The world is large and notoriously difficult to circumnavigate. Distance, which the Latino’s named ‘Tyrannosaurus Rex’, is a cruel overlord. Despite desiring to go to Finland, you probably cannot go to Finland all because of the tyranny of distance.

In mankind’s endless war against Distance, one of the deadliest blows struck was the
invention of trains. Trains ate up the landscape with all the ferocity of a dog licking peanut butter. Trains swallowed up people and bore them uncomplainingly to work, the beach and even Finland. Historians, if drunk, will sometimes admit that the success of trains led to other such triumphs as planes, hot air balloons and whales.

But much like that legless veteran outside of the liquor store, rich people avoid trains. Trains have become the domain of the stinking working masses. Packed into the carriages like cabbages in a cabbage-box, the despair and hatred of the passengers seeps into the trains. And now, these once noble industrial steeds are twisted, graffitied wrecks of what they once were. Chugging along painfully like arthritis-ridden snakes on a fun run, they manifest their pain by being constantly late, stinky and full of drunks. They cover themselves in graffiti and honk loudly at night. In the early hours of the morning they rest uneasily in large depots, plotting revenge.

Illustration by Patrick Lenton

On a train in Vietnam I once spent nine hours playing the card game ’500′ with five other
people. It was a filthy sleeper train, with hard bunks along the wall where this was supposed to take place. The first two hours slipped by easily, filled with learning the game, drinking beer and general banter. After the third hour, the game had taken on a competitive edge, the conversation turned to quips and jibes. By the fourth hour, there were already call backs to earlier jokes. There was a strange feeling of timelessness, of endless hands of cards, the never ending rattle of the train.

Around the fifth hour, confidences were being shared. We were told of lost loves and past
mistakes. A story shared between three of our fellow card players turned into a dispute, and we lost a player, storming off into the rickety train. A brief lull followed. I made my way again to the swaying stench bucket that passed for a toilet and sang loudly as I urinated. It felt right.

The sixth hour was sad, filled with silence and terse commands. Looking around the room,
at these people we’d only met a day earlier, I began inventing a scenario where I would fight them on a battlefield. Charging across trenches in France perhaps, I wanted nothing more than to bayonet them directly in the face and have them realise it was that guy they beat in Vietnam in that stupid, interminable card game. Oh yeah, and I’d been losing for many, many rounds.

The seventh hour was filled with a reckless mania, an enthusiasm that was as directionless
as it was annoying. The conversation consisted of repeated Simpson’s quotes and then cackling wildly. I began to win, buoyed on by a rising tide of absurdity. I saw my foes begin to falter under the deranged onslaught of my ability to draw connections between two, three and even four completely separate pop cultural references. I began amusing nobody but myself, but I was happy.

In the eighth hour, we had an enforced ten minutes of silence. Most of us giggled all the
way through it. The game was close to being won, and our patience all but gone. But I think we wanted to do it – we wanted to be able to say we finished the game. And it was around this time that I realised this card game, this nine hour long monstrous train ride was an analogy for life. But I was too tired to think it through. I think in some ways I’m still too tired to think it through, but I do know this. I have no memory of who won that game.

Illustration by Patrick Lenton

Wayne Tunks

 

Wayne Tunk’s play ‘His Room’ was staged as part of the Riverside Theatre’s True West season from the 13-22 of September. He took time out of his busy schedule to write us a blog post. 

It was 1993 and the moment I had long been waiting for had finally arrived, Madonna was touring Australia. I was going to Uni in Wagga and was first in line to get tickets. I had good tickets and the day was finally here. Now anyone who knows me, knows the love I feel for the Queen of Pop, this was a big day. The biggest day of the year. It was Uni holidays and I was working in a call centre in Parramatta, yes, I was that guy who interrupted your dinner. I had worked the morning shift and was heading to meet my Uni friends who were coming to Sydney just for the concert. As we left work, it started to rain. This couldn’t be happening to me, it was an outdoor gig at the SCG and I needed it to
go ahead. There was a chance I could go postal if it didn’t.

So there we were waiting at the train station (Harris Park, the station before Parramatta) and somehow convinced myself that if I could stand in the rain and not need shelter, it was only a light shower and it would stop in time for me to see the gig. My friend was hiding under the shelter, but I refused. My Madonna shirt was getting saturated and I hate water at the best of times (seriously, I don’t get swimming), but I refused to get under shelter. Of course the train was late but I stood there. Thunder, some lightening. Nope, I stayed there until the train arrived, determined it meant that night I’d see Madonna.

Picked up my friends and the rain continued to fall, but my naïve hope had me still believing the gig was going to happen. It had to, it just had to. So we hopped on the train at Blacktown, rain intermittedly falling, with thunder teasing me every few stops. Finally we arrived at Central, with loads of other Madge fans, still clinging to hope. Then it happened, a guard asked us if we were going to Madonna. I think my shirt answered the question, but I did as well. She answered quickly, “Haven’t you heard, the show’s been postponed for 2 weeks”. Devo, absolutely devo. I stood in that rain for nothing.

We turned around and hopped straight back on the train with a whole bunch of other Madonna fans, me close to a nervous breakdown. Suddenly someone in our carriage started singing, I’m pretty sure it was Like a Prayer, and we all joined in. So did several others on the train. It was like a flash mob before they were popular and then unpopular again. It made me feel better as we took the train to Parramatta in a club where a DJ played us Madonna all night.

Two weeks later I took the same trip in again, this time with success. The gig was everything I wanted and more.

Pollyanna Kasia Nowicki

We have our first fan video for A View From Moving Windows! Pollyanna Kasia Nowicki is a very talented photographer, actor and best of all our poster girl (she’s the one in the red coat)!

 

Jess Bellamy

We are thrilled to have our first guest post from the ever lovely Jess Bellamy!!

I am writing this blog from Verona, because Fresh Ink Australia have very kindly sent me to Italy to see my film Bat Eyes be screened at the Venice Film Festival, as part of the YouTube Your Film Festival.

I’m on a Trenitalia train, and I am not sitting in the same direction as the train is going.

Trenitalia trains are not like City Rail trains, where you can grab a handle,
swing the chair up and over, and move it to face the direction you want.

No. I am stuck facing the city I am leaving, rather than the city I am getting
closer to, and I’m not sure how this is going to go down.

If I vomit on the guy across from me, who’s just trying to eat his crust-free
sandwich and read the newspaper in peace, this will not be a pleasant trip.

So I focus on what’s around me instead.

And I think, what is different about this train to the ones I’ve been travelling on
between Central and Parramatta lately?

But also, what is the same?

I can tell you that the sounds are the same. The same squeaks and sighs
of carriages rubbing against each other as they whirl around corners of
countryside. There’s the same odd silence, for a carriage full of people,
punctuated by occasional flurries of movement when the train stops at a
station and a new bunch of people move around finding seats and settling in
for the journey.

There are a few noticeable differences too. There are multilingual
announcements of train rules and upcoming stops, reflective of the huge
number of tourists and multicultural clientele. Is this multilingualism defined
by tourism, or just more openness to non-Italians? I think about the ride out to
Parramatta; so many different voices, different faces, different stories, and yet
a mono-language for announcements.

Most interesting to me are the beggars, two different women, who walk down
my carriage dropping off dark photocopies of their plea for charity. Again
multilingual, these are printed in English and Italian, and punctuated with a
picture of Jesus or the Virgin Mary. These slips of paper sit untouched on the
edges of each bank of seats, before the beggar returns to collect the papers,
and any returns she might have made.

The same quiet disinterest and disengagement is on display here as a night
of commuting home from the City to Parramatta. No one clocks her presence.
No one’s feathers are ruffled. It is different, and yet also oddly familiar.

But then, in any culture, we can always rely on the freeing presence of the
older woman who doesn’t give a crap. I love these people. She waltzes
onto the carriage, she holds up the line to put her bag away, she trills out
an “arrivederci!” at her friend on the platform, who can’t hear her through the
double-glazed glass. And, my favourite of all her quirks, she unashamedly
checks out the entire carriage, not shying away from her analysis when she
catches our eye. No shame or embarrassment at her interest in us.

Because interest is good. Engagement is good. Alive is good.

If you’d like to read more about her experience in Venice check out it out here.