Friday, August 20, 2004

Hazelblackberry: Mr Marbles comes to town

Dear Nick,

It is late at night and I am sitting at home as a wild squall passes over. The wind certainly has some oomph to it tonight. There are lots of weird noises coming from outside. But I've checked the gate and it isn't banging and I've checked other stuff in the backyard and that all seems to be behaving itself so I don't know what is making these sounds. They shall have to remain a mystery. In the daytime noises seem to make so much more sense.

At least the house is quiet. I appreciate a quiet house. Staying down with Bloody Ern & Bez, whenever I was by myself, I'd be constantly freaked out by some strange, unidentifiable noise. And being in good old semi-rural location, I was pitifully aware of how my shrieks of terror would echo out into an empty unresponsive night.

Isn't it strange how a weird noise so often happens just when you are moving around making a bit of noise yourself. A new, unfamiliar half-heard sound.

"What the hell was that?" you think to yourself. So you stay still for a few minutes to see if it happens again and then, thinking it's gone away, you start moving around once more and there's that noise again. Only with something more to it.

"What the hell was THAT?!"

Then all the lights in the house go on and you're up all night watching 'Samurai Jack' (a real must-see) and 'Enjoying Everyday Life with Joyce Meyer'. She's one crazy laydeee.

But this house doesn't make a peep. It's had 60-odd years to settle on its foundations so one would hope it had stopped grumbling by now. Nonetheless, Grumpy is sensitive to my small, manageable fear of the dark and has purchased a night light for those evenings when I'm by myself. It's a friendly little chap, beaming out into the shadows, keeping fear and dread at bay.

I wasn't born afraid of the dark and it wasn't until I was about 6 or 7 that I developed a respectful terror of the shadows lurking in the corner of my room. The painfully ironic thing is that when I go to sleep I like everything to be ultra-quiet and ultra-dark.

Ern was always good about the fear-of-the-dark thing. He never tolerated sea-sickness or car-sickness. Thank God I never suffered from either, because he doesn't believe they exist. "Balderdash!" he'd bellow as some poor kid along for a bumpy ride out over the spinifex scrub vomited ham and beetroot all over the show. And I was never allowed to have training wheels on my bike or learn to swim with floaties. I've still got scars on my knees...and on my lungs, from all the inhaled water. But he understood about the dark. He would sit beside my bed night after night; one gnarled fist grasping a Camel Plain, the other holding my hand while I went to sleep.

Ern has never confessed to any fear. He isn't even particularly afraid of drowning - which would at least be practical, since he spends so much of his life out on the open water and he can't swim. But he did tell me once that he had a dream there was something wrong with him and he kept going to hospital to have bits cut off until all that was left was his head on a pillow.

I guess that occasionally even the fearless Ern gets the night shudders, just like the rest of us.

Until next time, Nick.


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