Australia, Beach & Coastal Walking, Urban Walking
Comments 4

So That Was Christmas, and What Did I Do?

Nothing too thrilling. How about you?

My stupid brain woke me at 3:55,

And I stomped up the dark street…

More dead than alive…


I was going to attempt to tell the (really rather threadbare) tale of my Christmas in verse ala a certain Lennon tune, but this is supposed to be the Season of Sloth, and anyway I hate that bloody song. So a few pictures and a smattering of prose will have to suffice.

I’d like to say it was excitement that lurched me into consciousness, but Christmas stopped being exciting for me around 1977. Nope, it was insomnia. Restlessness. I’m speeding towards a dramatic detour in my life, a prospect at once exhilarating and daunting, and my spirit is more restless than ever.

Here’s a 400-year-old sentence that sums up my headspace right now better than any cliched Xmas jingle:

In this mortal frame of mine, which is made of a hundred bones and nine orifices, there is something, and this something can be called, for lack of a better name, a windswept spirit, for it is much like thin drapery that is torn and swept away by the slightest stirring of the wind ~ Matsuo Basho

(Nine orifices? I checked and the Master was right — if you don’t count nipples, sweat glands or navel, and if you’re male. He was way off with the bones.)

Anyway, that drapery has been flapping like crazy of late, and it’s not just the La Niña weather pattern. She was behaving herself on Sunday, as I slunk up the road, past the sleeping houses and the odd blinking Christmas light, towards the water.

The sky promised “nicer” weather beyond the dozing Town Hall…

..where I paused, rocking on my heels, fighting the urge to double back to the 7-11 for a $1 coffee.

Yes: $1. You get what you pay for, but there’s nothing else open at 4:30am. I nearly cracked, but held firm. With my sleeping patterns recently, caffeine wasn’t doing me any favours. I was going to try to get through this day sans caffeine.

That’s right. I was going to celebrate Christmas BY PUNISHING MYSELF.

The tide was creeping in as I crept out…

..and the world took on an entirely appropriate shade of blue.

I’ve been enjoying the 16mm pancake lens on my new camera, which means I have to get physically closer to my subject if I want more detail. These gulls were absorbed in ambushing a hapless school of fish, and let me get closer than normal…

..but suddenly enough was enough and I was alone again.

Salty arteries were forming round my feet; the tide would stall a minute, then suddenly, its strength restored, roll in another metre or two in one hungry surge. They’ve been pretty high lately, these tides, and we’ve had water over the road near my place.

A hint of dawn round the headland… I set my sights on a pair of pelicans, but they were having none of it:

This crab was more cooperative. Well, it was dead:

Pincered between tide and seawall, I climbed up onto the path and strolled to the Shorncliffe Pier. It was encouraging to observe that I wasn’t the only loser out for some pre-dawn exercise on Christmas morning:

Those two dots on the breakwater are photographers with tripods and much bigger equipment than mine, but we all know size isn’t everything:

I contemplated a walk to the end of the pier…

..but my last excursion out there had led to an unpleasant encounter with a pair of drunk, high, loudmouth “fishermen” who had a half-collapsed tent set up amid a pile of rubbish. One placed a dirty hand on my shoulder, led me to the rail, gestured theatrically at the bank of distant black cloud and proclaimed, as though it were the result of years of study:

“See that? ‘S gonna rain. Huh? See? See that? ‘S gonna RAIN!”

(It didn’t rain.)

I stayed where I was, while the sun broke through…

..enjoying its healing caress, even as my very soul ached for caffeine.

Not yet, Goat, you haven’t suffered enough.

I climbed the steps to the road, looking down, with a desolate sigh, upon the picnic shelter where I’d once breakfasted with a girlfriend, a few years ago, in the halcyon days of new romance, before she got to know me well enough to dump me:

I’m saving to have a plaque installed there.

Actually, I could just about install plaques in every corner of this neighbourhood. You know, I know I’m lucky to live in such a beautiful place, but walk the same area, daily, over and over for several years, and you start to feel like you’re strolling through a museum of yourself. I feel like I know every crack in the footpath. Remember, I covered almost a thousand miles of it just in the last few months…

On along the cliff-top I walked, thinking about Christmas, and what a wretched time it is to be a miserable, world-weary sod. Then again, maybe atheists don’t deserve a merry Christmas?

Past another local landmark I slumped…

..pausing to check my bearings…

..and deciding I’d rather head home- and bed-ward than delay the inevitable with a $1 latte anyway.

Past another favourite local landmark I strode…

..and was soon home to a nice Christmas-morning nap.

I made it through the afternoon unscathed by any further gloom — I was much too busy to be gloomy. But I wasn’t myself. I felt off-balance; the world was unfocused and grey. Then I remembered.

I went back up the street just before dusk, but this time I pulled into a certain establishment…

..and found my Christmas surging into long-overdue colour while I savoured $1 worth of Christmas cheer, amid the flapping death throes of  deflating balloons:

One more thing. Sorry about the ankle socks.


~ And that’s all the Goat wrote



  1. I’m quite liking the ‘burnt out Goat’ as it’s very entertaining. It makes me feel like I’m not the only one who’s feeling mentally spent! Are you sure the episode on the pier actually happened or was it some sort of sighting of your future as an exhausted drunk? A sort of ‘Fight Club’ alter ego thing?! You do realise that if you end up happily married your posts are going to plummet in interest!

    By the way, I do like the look of the photos you’re getting with your new Sony. It looks like a winner of a purchase and it’s captured those socks in fantastic clarity.

    • Haha, glad you’re enjoying my very public breakdown, Greg. I live to entertain. Thanks re the photos. I confess the camera is doing most of the work at the moment – I’m still trying to absorb the 150-page manual! As for “happily married” – isn’t that an oxymoron? APOLOGIES, MARRIED READERS 😉

  2. Oh, I liked the description of your masochistic Christmas, and I liked the phrase ‘museum of yourself’ — I might nick it one day when you’re not looking! And I didn’t even mind the socks.

    • You are very forgiving indeed. I hate the bloody things but they were free when I bought some shoes.

      As for “museum of myself”, I half-suspect I subconsciously stole it from either Robyn Hitchcock’s ‘Museum of Sex’ song, or his website which was (last time I looked, a long while back) called ‘The Museum of Robyn Hitchcock’. So feel free to re-steal!

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