Lib Campbell

Lib Campell has written a blog post for us! Lib is a TV Presenter, actor, choccy lover and a human. 

Photo Credit: Felicity Pickering

I catch at least 2 trains a day. Bear in mind that a mild 2-train-day is as rare as me having a boyfriend. On my average trackin’ day the Fat Controller surrenders his top hat and gives me a massage of commuter commiseration. Though sometimes it’s just a reiki sesh – cause’ that’s more consistent with his image…
Naturally I could fill a hippo with the horror. Hours of boob bouncing bus rides have made my scones doughy and my eyelashes brittle. I fear the next delay I see shall see me split in two just like it did Gollum. Poor Gollum –he’s had it up to HERE with track work. Do you really think he CHOSE to WALK to Mordor?
ANYWAY… I shall now share the most radiant thing I’ve witnessed on a train recently.

Setting the scene…

7:06am train - Its effing freezing and my Tinkerbelle earrings keep getting caught on my scarf.
City via Airport Line. – Every carriage is crammed with
A) Starchy suits scrolling ipad spreadsheets with tangible contempt.
B) Click-clacking pencil skirts with platinum foils as thick as Darrell Lea soft eating liquorice. (RIP Darrell)
C) Douche bags on their way to Helsinki or Buenos Ares or wherever, with their dumb suitcases and chubby dumb duffel bags.

(This is what I turn into when I’m cold and irritated. Not even clever mean, just, ‘get out of my way, you’re dumb’mean)

I burrow my way to one of those seats near the door, the ones like park benches where you spend 40 minutes making snap judgments about the #parkbenchpplopposite. Amid this heavy mist of negative morning minutiae, a lady with a mauve scrunchie marches brazenly on to our carriage carrying a dirty great BIKE. Our yolky eyes pop and sizzle as she pushes herself and the bike in to our twisted mess of limbs and luggage. The #parkbenchpplopposite look just as goaded as my bench.

BUT THEN…with whimsical dexterity Mauve Scrunchie bends and buckles and seriously folds that bike so that it is no bigger in size and consequence than an obedient beagle. It’s a freaking collapsible bike! The #parkbenchpplopposite gape in shock. But none more so than an anceint little lady who is clearly Little Red Riding Hoods grandma-ma. I dub her Hood Ma-ma. In response to the bike wizardry before her Hood Ma-ma lets out an audible gasp – not dissimilar from the one she would have made when she saw the big bad wolf. She continues to stare and shake her head until she spills some words right into Mauve Scrunchie’s lap.
“I never learnt to ride”. 
“Sorry?” replies Mauve Scrunchie.
“My mother couldn’t afford to buy me a bike, so now I love to walk. But I never did learn”.
Mauve Scrunchie puts away her phone and turns to Hood Ma-ma; staring her straight in the bonnet. Mauve Scrunchie then goes on to establish where Hood Ma-ma lives (Holsworthy), where she is going (the doctor) and which day will best suit for Mauve Scrunchie to drive over and teach her to ride. (Wednesday). By the time we are at Wolli Creek the two are deep in conversation, planning their upcoming joy ride.

It was perfect. Perfect and overwhelming. I suck at bike riding – if I was a better person I would have piped up and joined them the following Wednesday. But I didn’t. I just thought wow - it’s really not that hard to look after one another.

Eileen McILwain

Why should the train fun stop? We’ve got some more blog posts we’d love to share with you! Here is a story from writer Eileen ILwain.

Photo Credit: Felicity Pickering

I hate trains. I can’t think of anything worse than being stuck in a big metal box with the sort of people you’d avoid on the street. But when you’re sixteen and your boyfriend lives in Parramatta you don’t have much choice. So here I am. On a train.

It’s a scorching summer’s day, the kind that saps all your energy as soon as you step outside. I’m dressed to kill in a black mini skirt and midriff top. Lolita, eat your heart out. Heads turn as I totter down the aisle in my skyscraper heels. I can see the judgement in their eyes –slut, bitch, trash – but

I ignore them, finding an empty seat at the back of the carriage. A middle-aged woman in a hideous green hat glares at me like I am solely responsible for the moral decline of today’s youth. Whatever. I bet she hasn’t been laid in over a year.

The train reeks of BO and vomit, with a hint of stale piss. There’s a round smudge on the window where someone with greasy hair must’ve fallen asleep against the glass. The humidity is stifling. Within seconds my legs are stuck the blue vinyl seat. As I squirm around I catch a man who’s old enough to be my father trying to peer up my skirt. Gross. I briefly wonder what his wife would think before deciding he probably doesn’t have one. Who’d marry a pervert like that? Definitely not the woman in the ugly hat judging by look of disgust she’s aiming at him.

At the next stop a few more people shuffle onto the train, like so many cattle at the sale yards. Everyone looks cranky and hot. I know how they feel. The only thing keeping me sane is the thought of my gorgeous Brazilian boyfriend waiting for me at the other end. His name’s Carlos and we’ve been together for three blissful weeks. I’m pretty sure he’s ‘The One.’ I can’t wait until I get my P’s so I can drive to his house instead of catching the train. Carlos doesn’t have a license, but he’s so sexy I don’t care.

My phone vibrates, making me jump. I rummage around in my little silver bag. Shit, where is it? I finally find my phone at the bottom of my bag and glance at the name flashing on the screen. It’s him! I swear it’s like he knows when I’m thinking about him.

I’m grinning like an idiot as I press the answer button. “Hey babe, what’s up?”
An unfamiliar female voice crackles in my ear. “Is that Michelle?”
“Yes,” I bristle. “Who the fuck is this?”
“This is Bianca, Carlos’s new girlfriend. Carlos asked me to tell you that he doesn’t want to see you anymore.”
“Excuse me?”
“I said Carlos doesn’t want to see you anymore. Got that?” she snaps.
Now I’m really pissed off. “Listen, I don’t care who the you are, I want to speak to Carlos. Right now.”
I hear her mutter “She says she wants to talk to you.” A few seconds later Carlos comes on the “Hello?” he purrs in his smooth Brazilian accent.
“What the hell, Carlos? Who was that girl? Is she your girlfriend?”
“Look, I’m sorry, baby. This isn’t working for me anymore.”
“But why?” I wail, hating how desperate I sound.
“I never get to see you. You live too far away.”
“But I’m getting my license next month!” I’m hysterical now and people are starting to stare. I wish they’d all go away. I wish I’d never gotten on this train.

Carlos sighs. “Don’t get upset, baby. We can still be friends.”
“Friends? You want to be friends? As if I’d want to be friends with a guy who gets his new girlfriend to dump me. Stuff you, Carlos. I hope she gives you herpes!”

I mash the call button with my thumb and shove my phone back in my bag. Unbelievable. What a prick! I can’t believe he broke up with me like that. He could’ve at least had the courtesy to dump me before I got on the train.

This is the worst day of my entire life. To make matters worse, my mascara is running and I don’t have a single tissue to my name. Just when I’m about to start blubbing everywhere someone hands me a pristine white handkerchief. It’s the woman in the awful green hat.

“Here. You look like you could use this,” she says with a sympathetic smile.
“Um, thanks.” I take the hanky, dabbing at my eyes.
“Better?” I nod, too stunned to do anything else.
This seems to satisfy her. “Good. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. Was that your boyfriend on the phone?”

“Yes,” I reply, feeling wretched. “At least, he was.”

She tsks and shakes her head. “Well, it sounds like you’re better off without him if you don’t mind me saying. My son would never dream of treating a girl that way. He’s a good boy, my Matthew. You’d be about the same age. He’s meeting me at the train station and then we’re going to see a movie. Would you like to come?”

I teeter on the brink of saying no, only to change my mind at the last second. I’ve got nothing better to do with my afternoon and I’m not looking forward to the long train ride home.

“Sure,” I grin. “What the hell?”
“Watch your language, dear,” she says, but her eyes are crinkled with amusement. “Come on then. I’m getting off at the next stop.”

I follow after her as she weaves through the crowd towards a guy in a light blue t-shirt. No way. That’s her son? He’s to die for!
“Hi Mum,” he says, giving the woman a peck on the cheek. “Who’s this you’ve got with you?”

She beams at him and it’s obvious how much she loves her son. “Matthew, I’d like you to meet this lovely young lady. I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”
“It’s Michelle,” I mumble, staring at my feet.
“Michelle,” she repeats. “What a pretty name. I invited her to come see the movie with us. You don’t mind, do you Matthew?”

Matthew looks at me and I feel my cheeks grow hot. He has the most adorable puppy-dog eyes. I’ve ever seen and a cute little dimple near the corner of his mouth. “I don’t mind,” he says with a shy smile.

And despite everything that’s happened to me today, I find myself thinking… maybe trains aren’t so bad after all.

Writers Q and A

Writers Q and A went fantastically! After the performance the writers came to stage and talked about writing for a multiplaywright production, their process, casting and more.

All photos are by Felicity Pickering.

Bronte Kelso-Marsh

Bronte Kelso-Marsh has ever so kindly written a blog post for A View From Moving Windows. Bronte Kelso-Marsh is a journalist, photo journalist and writer of Bronte Roams.

Photo Credit: Bronte Kelso-Marsh

It is generally not socially acceptable to press your body against that of a perfect stranger. But on a train these social values are not usually upheld. People step onto the busy carriage and push their way against the bustle of busy people, all in a hurry, going places. Like a gladiator, the people entering the carriage battle their way through the throng of people, only to find their back pressed against the train door, begging silently that they won’t open up behind them, throwing them out again.

When the train takes off with an almighty whoosh, the inhabitants are thrown forward, suddenly falling, proof of Newton’s laws and gravity. Help is sought by grabbing the shoulder of whoever stands next to them, suddenly rendering the stranger an accidental hero, a Good Samaritan, a saviour from a world of embarrassment. And suddenly they’re bonded, comrades in the battle against the throng of people, all battling to get to work, dear friends if only for a minute.

The carriage is a plethora of smells. The lady in the lacy dress smells of flowers, on her way to man the expensive stores in the city. Young girls in tight clothes still smell of vodka and cigarettes, the evidence of the habits of the youth. Women with young children on their hips still smell of coffee and sleep, milk stains still visible on their shirt collars from a morning spent making lunches and managing households. The minutes taken to get to the station are their only respite in the day.

The teenage couple in the aisle kiss, unabashed despite their large audience. Their intertwined bodies are cumbersome to the aisles and the people around them. But their kisses soon break, if only for the young Romeo to offer his Juliette the lone train seat that has become available.

As the train zooms by the world quickly becomes a moving blur. Young children stare out the windows in wonder as their concrete world becomes a moving kaleidoscope of colour. Their knees are balanced carefully on the coloured seats; their mother’s begging them to just sit down properly. But their pleas fall deaf on the ears of a delighted child who stares at wonder at the world which passes them by.

Alison Rooke

Today’s blog post is by Alison Rooke! Alison wrote ‘In the key of E’ for A View From Moving Windows. There is the opportunity to talk to Alison, and other A View From Moving Windows writers, at the Writers Q and A. This will be held tomorrow after the performance. Make sure you’ve booked your tickets!

We were all about trains.

Separate tracks carried us toward a city lit up by beauty and shameless self-promotion. Locked in silver carriages hurtling though places I would never visit, I’d primp and preen as if a hair out of place or a skirt not sitting perfectly on a hip would be the deciding factor in whether you loved me or not, noticed me or not.

In a class at the end of the tracks, I’d sit behind you, staring… that neck, the brown and white striped jumper you’d wear when it rained, the way you played with your hair, curly, twisting and pulling. I’d wish we could board a train and go to all the places in my head, where I was different and you loved me.

That Thursday. My mind a bubble of you, the sound of you laughing at a joke I’d made in class. You’d turned, nodded once. I smiled, looked away. You saw me.

That Thursday I caught the wrong train.

I was thinking about all the different platforms and suburbs that your train carried you past everyday and before I knew it, there I was, sitting in a carriage, on a train drifting past all those same stations. Your train.

My cheeks burned, my head buzzed. Your train smelt like coffee and burnt sugar.

Sydenham station. Sitting on the platform waiting for my train to arrive, to transport me back to where I belonged. Your face, your face, your face.

Your face in front of me. On the train, in front of me. You looking out the window. Looking at me on the platform. You right there.  A sign. You saw me. You smiled and

raised a hand as the carriage eased out of the platform headed for beachside suburbs. I nodded once. You saw me.

You first kissed me on a train.  A kiss so startling I laughed out loud into your mouth. You took the laugh in. Absorbed it, covered it with belonging. Your eyes opened a little wider and I loved you.

A row of carriages took you away. A thick and heavy summer night. The interstate rail line at Central, tracks nestled beneath a canopy of goodbyes. You, bouncing on your heels in excitement … me, gulping down fragments of empty.

The train sat, watching our farewell, quietly aware that it was about to carry you off to new stations, new experiences. Places you didn’t want to see with me.

You kissed me quick. You took none of me in. You nodded once and then you were gone.

We were all about trains.

Melissa Werry

Today’s blog post is from Melissa Werry. Melissa is writing all the way from Paris where she is trying to turn herself French, one stripy shirt at a time. Read more about it on her blog: Turn Me French.

Mind The Gap

Melissa Werry on a train in Florence.

Australians like to think of ourselves as a patriotic country. We enjoy our own national holiday, we boast our own breakfast spread in the colour and consistency of tar, and many of our citizens sport large Southern Cross tattoos in places that the nationals of other countries would describe as obnoxious or more simply, unattractive.

But compared with its European aunts and uncles, Australia is still in swaddling clothes. With its relatively brief lifespan, modern Australian society has not developed a sense of national identity as strong as those who trail ancient histories. To define “Australian” is a difficult thing to do, because we do not have the benefit of the tens of centuries that some other countries have to develop our understanding of self.

Some would argue – though probably not the residents of Villawoood – that this youthfulness and ultimate lack of defining culture allows us to spread our arms wide to accept change and difference in a way that those with more deeply entrenched national identities cannot. But with all my depth of experience after one week in France, I am beginning to think that the reality is quite the inverse: perhaps the stronger a national identity, the more shock absorbent it will be. Perhaps an older nation will experience less identity insecurity, and engage more authentically with others.

How did I reach this conclusion? By catching the train every day. In the carriages of the RER from Thorigny to Paris L’Est I see Arabic women with glittering hair veils smiling at little white babies in the seats opposite them. And old ladies in pink tweed who offer handkerchiefs to young black men in basketball caps and chains who worked up a sweat to make it through the automatic doors just as they were closing. And African men in suits who leave their cards with young white students in search of a job. And teenaged girls sporting leopard print pants and bright pink hair who allow gray haired women to laugh at them as they overhear their phone calls to their mothers asking them to turn on the washing machine.

I won’t pretend I haven’t seen the pictures in newspapers of young Maghrébins setting cars alight in the street, or heard the debates on the laws against the burqa or the future survival of the French language. But that is not the France I have seen first hand. The French I see in the carriages of the RER are not scared of the gap. They don’t mind the gap. In fact they seem not to notice it.

Pip Smith

The amazing Pip Smith, founder of Penguin Plays Rough, has written us a blog entry!

Photo Credit: Felicity Pickering

About three hours ago I was on the train coming back from the airport. At central, this guy in a suit sat next to me and started talking just as I was punching out a text. He said, “I have just realised my job doesn’t make me happy.” His eyes were slightly yellow, and i wondered if he had been drinking. I said, “what do you do?” “I look at discrepancies between shipping lists. Logistics. I work for a Korean company. I want to work for an Australian company. In Korea we have it all wrong. In Australia the emphasis is on being happy and relaxing. In Korea the emphasis is on being strong.” I said, “I’m not sure you got that right – about Australia.” At Wynyard, an elderly businessman sat next to us, so we had to squeeze right up against the window. I asked the Korean man, “When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?” He leaned in towards me and whispered, “a monk”, I said “sorry, what?” he said “a monk.” He lifted up his wrist and showed me the bracelet he was wearing. “I’m Buddhist. When I was younger, I visited a temple and saw Buddha’s face. It made me so calm. His face – it wasn’t warm or cold.” “It was neutral?” “Yes. Are you a Buddhist?” I said, “No. I’ve never really understood the whole ‘letting go of desire’ thing. It’s always struck me that desire can sometimes be a beautiful thing. Desire can motivate you. And attachment. Attachment to your children, surely that’s a good thing.” He said, “I see what you mean, but I think you’re confusing desire and compassion. Love and attachment. You can watch your friend die and you feel a great amount of distress. You watch a beggar die and…” He shrugged “maybe you feel bad only for a little while. You think your friend belongs to you, but he doesn’t.” I was stunned. How did he know Tim had just died? “So, what’s your major?” He asked “I’m sorry?” “What do you study?” “How did you know I’m a student?” “I can just tell.” The businessman sitting next to us shifted his newspaper, pretending to read it, but he hadn’t turned the page in some time. After a pause I asked, “Well, can you quit when you go back to Korea? Can you become a monk?” He said, “No. My family.” “Ah, I see.” “My family cause me distress.” “Distress??” “They want me to have babies. But I don’t want to marry.” I said, “Oh yes! I know about that.” And we sat in silence. At North Sydney the aisle of people re-configured itself with muted apologies. As we passed the next stations, he told me about the moon, that at the full moon you can attend tea ceremonies in temples in Japan – and that when you drain a cup, you clear your mind. He told me he’d studied martial arts in Hong Kong because he loved Bruce Lee and that he’d visited India and learned that they came up with the number 0. He told me that a mango grows the way it grows by a chance meeting of sun and rain and other things, and that it also starts from zero. That everything is a product of its context. We were standing by the pond at St Leonards station for about 5 minutes while he started telling me that we are cheated by the world because we can’t see the stars during the day, even though they are there the whole time. I’m not sure what he meant by this, but he was so illuminated by what he was saying I decided to walk with him in the direction of the place he was staying. Turns out he was also staying in Greenwich. He told me that heaven is right here, and that you shouldn’t turn the past into a cliche, and that our minds are full of the future so we miss out on the present. He turned and asked me, ‘do you believe in platonic love?’ And I said, ‘yes.’ And he laughed and said, “Ah! You understand!” When we reached the intersection of Greenwich Rd and the Pacific Hwy I had to leave him. We shook hands. He asked me my name, I said “Pip” He said, “I am Rocky. Rocky Mountain,” and he walked down Greenwich Road.

Rocky Mountain, thanks for the excellent conversation.

Teik Kim Pok

Theatre-maker, performance artist and A View From Moving Windows writer Teik Kim Pok  has written a poem for the blog!

*Lucerne not Lausanne*

Où venez-vous ?
*Kuala Lumpur via Hackney *

Où allez-vous ?
*Leh…uh…loo..Lake Loo San*

This platform, s’il vous plaît
*Mercy thankyouverymuch*

*…8 hours later…*

嗨呀!* How come no lake one?*

‘My folks, my sis and I on a train bound for Switzerland from Paris in
1986′ -Teik Kim Pok

If you like his style then why not come to Pop-up Bride (Looking for Insta-Groom)? Pop up- Bride is an immersive performance project taking place at Marrickville Festival on Sunday October 21st that will surely generate discussions about the role of marriage today!

Miles Merrill

Miles Merrill is the creative director of the literary arts organisation, Word Travels. He is also a writer, performer, facilitator and event co-ordinator who combines poetry with theatre, experimental audio, hip-hop beats, stand-up and, occasionally, political confrontation. This is an extract from a three part group poem that was performed at The Riverside Theatre as part of a Sydney Festival show in 2005.

Train Wars

Photo Credit: Felicity Pickering

Part I

(Imagine us all crushed together on a train moving through the crowd as a clump, leaning when we turn.)

Every morning we form a multi-screen sightseeing machine.

From Home – (All repeating the following line together to a crescendo until Miles turns an imaginary nob) 

To Bossland- where the grey pigs play, living another man’s dream.  (All chanting like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory oohowee oh oooh oh)

In between is a network of clogged veins with a CBD heart.

I am a cell living in a vessel. Pump through the circulatory city on a peak hour vein.

My name stuck in the tracks

Written in the cracks

Rolling in the gap

Sea to city

Wombarra to Bondi

Parramatta to Kuring-gai

past Blue Mountains

I bust from a finger

a spray of blood into the bush. 

(Miles runs from the group as they spread in straight lines throughout the crowd.)

Every morning you ride a serpent

over the bones of buried people

their foreign words float in your ear


Next Stop.

Ghosts haunt you through familiar suburbs

(Chanting) Baramada Baramada Next Stop.

Don’t these trains chanting place names

mock you?

If sorry is your only reply, guilt is implied.

Every morning a new trial to sleep through.

And here come the grey pigs (I sit and close my eyes)

Want more? Go to Follow That Sound next Friday ( if you can’t come to A View From Moving Windows opening night). Follow That Sound is a tour through the wild lanes and ancient gutters of The Rocks. Spoken-wordsmiths perform and magic happens!