Saturday, November 6, 2010

classification of the giraffe

All of my spare time this week has been taken up with packing. I've barely opened a book. I've barely read a thing. Instead I turn on the television. Almost without fail I end up with Rolf Harris telling me about dying penguins. His latest dying penguin is named Tilda. Tilda is a chick too young to swim or feed herself. She still has her fluffy grey waistcoat of down. Tilda screams for food. She is starving. "She makes her unique call," says Rolf. Her father is discovered by the camera some way distant, hunched over in a drainpipe. He has forgotten her. Barely fledged, she risks the ocean. We confidently expect to see her drowned by the next show.

I'm in the middle of Ephemera, which is, oh, boxes and boxes of papers: programmes for old plays, a bus ticket to Narita airport, a paper mask covered with dry mud, a postcard from Chloride, Arizona, a thesis titled Subspecies classification of the giraffe using DNA analysis with particular reference to the Melbourne Zoo population by Rachel Hawkin, and a doggerel poem written years ago while I was playing the aunt in an amateur production of Hedda Gabler.

Hedda Gabler
Wilful gorgon
Went and married
Tesman, Jørgen.

Hedda Gabler
Won't be fair
Hates poor Thea
For her hair.

Hedda Gabler
Hates his aunt.
He says, "Love her."
She says, "Can't."

Hedda Gabler
Winks at Brack
Ruins Løvborg
(He loves back.)

Hedda Gabler
Babe impending
Shoots herself
And that's the ending.

Jørgen Tesman's
Got some brains
In arrear ...

He gets with Thea.

There are ribbons, stickers, pencil sharpeners, a volunteer worker's badge from the Zoo, a letter from L. who is dead (seeing his name I thought, "I haven't talked to him in years. I should --" and then I remembered why), a tight green pincushion surrounded by Chinese figures holding hands, a ball of red wool, a rubber monster that lights up within when you squeeze its stomach, a smiling yellow dinosaur, a paper doll, and a photograph of someone else's cat.


  1. "She makes her unique call," says Rolf. Her father is discovered by the camera some way distant, hunched over in a drainpipe. He has forgotten her." Are you sure they were penguins - it sounds so very like my childhood.

  2. The penguin was wearing a little jumper with zmkc knitted into the front. I forgot to mention that.

  3. Gasp, not only the drudgery of packing but Rolf Harris too. You poor thing!

  4. At least I can switch off Rolf Harris. The packing doesn't go away so easily.

    On the positive side, I've reacquainted myself with Rage, and I've seen Liam Neeson in Kinsey, which was such a cleanly constructed script that I put the packing aside for a while to watch it.

  5. Damn, I meant to keep the fact that I'm a penguin a secret.

  6. That's the wonderful thing about the internet. Nobody knows if you're male or female, black or white, ugly or pretty, or beating at the keyboard with a flipper and screaming, "Auk!"