Friday, 14 August 2015

When and If - About Time

When you’ve written a book and done final edits you will find yourself doing final final edits. At the same time you will most likely develop INSOMNIA. Well, a version of. You can go to sleep, but you will wake any time from 1, 2, 3 or 4am onwards. Worrying about any number of things, like how to organize a book launch, what to wear to a book launch and what to SAY at a book launch. As well as how to fix that re-worked sentence that just doesn’t seem quite right. Yet.  Moreover, WILL THIS BOOK EVER BE FINISHED.

No matter, because when you’re awake in the middle-of-the-night it’s the perfect time to take your iPhone under the covers and check your emails from your illustrator, going about his arty day in Barcelona. However, when an hour and a half has passed you might find yourself looking at your facebook, twitter and Instagram feeds hoping your eyes will get really tired and send a message through to your brain along the lines of - go the fuck to sleep.

If you are the nominated Supper Monitor in your home, sometimes you wish this wasn’t so. Times when you are frazzled, knackered, anxious, oh and preoccupied with finishing that exciting thing which has paper and a spine and YOUR name on the front. You might say out loud at 5.30pm, “I’m going to school interviews, we’re having steak and potatoes,” and nod towards the bucket of freshly dug early potatoes. The ones the seed suppliers stated were not keepers, but have been preserved for months deep in the potato patch under a crust of frozen earth. At the same time, you’ll send a telepathic message, ‘roasted would be nice, garden salad also.’ Upon your return at 6.55pm you might be greeted with a cheery, “What would you like me to do with the potatoes?”

WTH. No mind, The H is on overdrive too. Organizing an event. A series of events in fact, ultimately celebrating a friend and a hero. Youth and life. You sip a black ale. Peel and chop and microwave those Murphy’s for 4 minutes, mop up all the ju ju they expel, drizzle them with olive oil and rolled rosemary and blast them for 20 mins in your preheated oven. Fry the steak, toss the salad and serve. Because YOU are the Supper Monitor.

When  you’re trying to get out the door, the following night to the main event, which starts at 4pm and it’s 3.45pm (and you’ve just got home) you might ask daughter 16, to put the chickens away. ‘Don’t get chook poo on your Docs though,’ you warn, as she strides off. Chances are, on her return, she races through every carpeted portion of the house with a fresh avian turd squidged into the tread of her left boot. No mind. After promptly abandoning the house and letting it dry for 14 hours approximately you take the hoover pipe to these khaki heel prints and they come clean away; without having to employ Cavalier Bremworth Dry Stain Remover. (BTW this stuff is brilliant and is marketed by this really nice guy called, Murray.)

If the following day, you find yourself trying to get the next event on time, 20 minutes before departure you naturally decide the time is right to experience the, Dr Lewinn’s Private Formula – Line Smoothing Complex High Potency Mask. The mask that has been waiting patiently beside your basin for well over two weeks. You apply the hydrogel sheets to your face correctly. You allow the potent ingredients to activate as you RELAX. Hurriedly getting dressed and drying your hair. Realizing you must remove the mask in order to draw in the sparse prairie of your eyebrow etc, you whip it off and gasp at the ‘instant smoothing radiance’ your $20 has achieved. You make note to self: will buy again! And apply more carefully so’s not to make MORE creases.

Thankfully the eucalyptus and freesia wreath you felt moved to make for the commemoration service is complete. You grab it and run out the door. Drawing a lipstick line into the fading points of your cupid’s bow in the car mirror as you zip down the road, praying as you do when you pass the mad cat lady’s house (only 46 furry residents at last count) that none of them cross the road at point of passing.

When you reach the quiet gathering of friends and family beside the 20 year old rata tree, the massive rock and the brass ice axe sculpture that marks the climber friend and hero, you’re early. You place the wreath, you’d planned to be small and discreet and which turned out 40cm across, upon that rock alongside the spring posies wrapped in tinfoil. You stand square footed and listen to the tributes, try to imagine that mountain summit. K2. You see a smiling face, a strong chin. You only lean on The H when the Cold Play chorus sings about skin and bone. But for the first time in 14 years you don’t think of your own lost brother. You think only of theirs.

The family plant a kowhai tree. Friends plant daffodil bulbs.

Time moves on. If and when.


  1. Oh Jane, I am so sorry about the loss of your brother. Your letter to him is beautifully written and heart rending. And this post too. Much love to you...

    1. Thank you Melinda. It's strange to think 14 years have gone by now. Too many good young men have gone. Love them all...


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