I’ve been working my way through this enormous book for the past ten months called The Assassin’s Cloak. It sounds like a badass historical thriller, but is actually an anthology of badass diary entries. From the 1660s to the 1990s, grouped together for every day of the year. There’s all kinds of shit going down – 25 January 1851 Leo Tolstoy wakes up hung over and realises he’s drunk-bought a horse. 2 September 1666 Samuel Pepys is woken at 3am by the maids because London is burning down. 3 October 1896 Queen Victoria makes her first home movie. There’s historically significant entries and mundane entries and entries that dribble shit, but when it’s dribble penned by H.D. Thoreau or Simone de Beauvoir or Virginia Woolf, that shit’s poetic.
My dribble, on the other hand…
The journal continues…
We’re still in 1988, and I’m teetering on the threshold of teenagerhood. I can tell you nothing much happens for a while as I am a late bloomer (still waiting) and a tomboy – I got really pissed off at Mum for getting me my first bra for Christmas. Sorry Mum!
Here are some highlights… if you want to call them that.
(Please note: spelling mistakes are for some unfathomable reason intentional. Like “dum”, “bluddy”, “4” for for… AARRGGHH WHY am I doing this to myself?? Er, and you. At least you’re spared my handwriting, which is so messed up my eyes are bleeding.)
21st May AT8.
D.D., Hi! Gess wot? This morning we had a cyclone. It woke me up at 4.00am and a bin bounced down the road at 70kmph!!
27th May AT8
Hi again! Tonight we went to the St. Mary’s P&F Quiz Night. We (Juliette, Juz & I) were the youngest table there. We were also the dumbest table there.
21st August AT8
I’m listening to Take 40 and Mim is comin over at 1pm. (Now it’s 12:37pm.) Gotta get my jaffle. Seeya v. soon.
Hi! I’m back. It’s 12:46pm and I am eating my jaffles and ‘Pink Cadillac’ is number 32.
*POUNDS HEAD AGAINST DESK*
There are literally dozens of entries like the last one, written solely for something to do – like an 80s version of Bookface. And about as productive! Would it classify as ‘stream of consciousness’ do you think? It seems I was barely conscious when I wrote it… I was probably just sitting staring into space with a bit of drool coming out the side of my mouth.
I keep saying everything’s boring… my childhood was so not boring! We did heaps of cool stuff and I remember my youth fondly; but I apparently sucked at writing about it. I guess I was hoping for some perfectly preserved little gem of brilliantly evoked memory, or meaningful insights, or observations on life or something, but… nup. Just page after page of stinky word vomit.
Well not all the entries in The Assassin’s Cloak are all that ‘worthy’ either. For example, New Year’s Day 1662 Sam Pepys awoke with a start and elbowed his wife in the face. And then he recorded that fact for posterity. (Though I doubt he really needed to; the wife would hardly have let him forget it.) But because it was written over 350 years ago it’s more important somehow. Husbands do dumb shit and have been doing dumb shit for centuries; it’s the human condition. To paraphrase a certain dodgy French archaeologist, who knows? In a thousand years, even my diary might be worth something.
Hey you know what? I can do my own version of The Assassin’s Cloak!
Needs a new name though. The Assistant’s Cardigan. For this day, the 24th of October.
Tuesday 24th October AT9 (Age 14)
This is boring. I don’t even know WHY I write in here. Even if I do come back after 20 years or so, what will I find even VAGUELY INTERESTING.
Word of the Day: Metoposcopy – reading someone’s character from their forehead wrinkles.
I wonder if you can also read someones character from their forehead zits? If you can, some of the boys at school must be very complicated. Quite a variety there – yellows, a few half squeezed ones, big ones, medium sized and small, and blackheads with so much in them they are blue. I’m a bit jealous.
Thursday 31-10-91 (Age 16)
(Stella Maris College boarding house in Geraldton)
Now I’m back and very behind.
Tonite’s the Yr 12’s last night! They didn’t come down to study, because they were trashing the boarding house. Debbie made the blipper on the phone to upstairs go off to the tune of “shave & a haircut” which was really funny. They wrote messages with shoe polish and lipstick on all the mirrors, short-sheeted Anna’s bed and shoe polished all the bottles on her dresser white. The Assumption Hall has toilet paper chucked all over it and wrapped around everything, and sheets hanging from the fans, and we could hardly walk there were chairs turned over and shelves emptied all over the floor.
Thursday 29-10-92 (Age 17) (Boarding school)
“Hit me with your coupe-de-poing… hit me, hit me”
Yoooo! It is the second last day of school For EVER!
And I am really getting so tense! But it’s been really fun, this past week – pigtail day on Monday, and band-aid and tie day yesterday, and muck up day tomorrow. I think someone’s bringing a slip’n’slide! Having so many feeds it’s unfunny. Hardly studying at all, and TEE is one week & ONE half away! AAAGH! Gotta run! Bye!
6-10-94 (Age 19) (In Perth shortly before my first trip overseas)
5 weeks to go!
Yo, Red Book;
It is Thursdy morning & I am seriously considering not bothering with Uni. What do you think?
I guess I’d better. One thing is for sure I won’t get any work done here!
Thursday 24.10.96 (Age 21) (in Kobe, Japan)
OKAY! It’s official! Orix Blue Wave Baseball Team IS the BEST IN JAPAN!!
Went with Maddy and her host mum and boyfriend to Harbourland along with a few thousand other people to watch the final 2 innings on two little TVs – it was the top of the 9th, Tokyo needed 4 runs to win and they had 2 out already. And their batter got caught out! Everyone went ballistic!! We fought our way to the pier and had a kampai with everyone, got interviewed by a camera crew twice (shit myself and forgot all of my Japanese) and were accosted by a group of high schoolers wanting to take photos with us. It was great! Took about 20 photos then came home and took photos of the highlights on TV. They had a huge beer/mitsuya cider spraying fight, Oshima was running around with full bottles in his back pockets, and Neel carried Ichiro off to dump him in a sake barrel. Fujii poured bottle after bottle over Taguchi, who then teamed up with DJ to soak the reporter who was trying to interview them. He’d come prepared and was interviewing them wearing a raincoat and swimming goggles. Hilarious!
Tues 24/10/98 (Age 23)
(Bibbulmun Track WA, Day 14 of 17 day bushwalk)
Nullaki to West Cape Howe (17km)
Another easy day. Lotsa roos. Hut right on the coast, amazing views of Torbay Head. Was walking back from the long drop at 3.30am, looked up and the stars literally took my breath away – the Milky Way was so clear and bright and SO MANY stars! Lay on the camp table for half an hour stargazing before I went back to bed. I’ll never forget it.
TUES 24 OCT 2000 (Age 25) (Sydney during the Paralympics)
Yankee at Olympic Village turned into Yankee at Pontage Link – ripped off big time! The cops there were brilliant though, especially Sgt ‘Alex’ – fluent in at least 3 languages! Italian, French & Spanish speaking cars came through & he chatted away to them.
Went to tea & tripped over the little chain fence and pulled it all down. Was sooo embarrassed until Alex made a smartarse comment but then promptly did exactly the same thing himself. Took the attention off me alright – he got twice the shit I was getting!
Thomo asked if he could show us his gun and Alex said he only took it out if he was going to shoot someone. We volunteered Thomo.
Got into the stadium, saw the men’s final of the prosthetic leg classification in the 100m – they had FOUR false starts! Maybe the foot gets stuck easy.
Friday 25 October 2002 (Age 27) (Perth, WA)
Had a few at the Subiaco Hotel with Din, Paul, Luci and Sarah in honour of her triumphant return to Oz after 2 1/2 years in London! She looks heaps different but is still the same old Wersa! Paul is even taller, and is the consummate bushie next to Sarah’s worldly party girl. They are heading up to Carnarvon tomorrow – it’d be so cool if we could ALL go and go camping and get pissed somewhere at Boolathana like we used to! Maybe we’ll go again…
Wed 27 Oct 2004 (Age 29) (Four months after moving to Queensland)
Riding home from work saw a car half off the canal bank & hanging in the water – must’ve taken the kerb, gone through the gate, crossed the lawn then over the low wall to drop 2m straight down.
This is why I don’t drive – I’m positive I’d do some stupid bloody thing like that.
Monday 24 October 2005 (Age 30) (Gold Coast)
I’m lying here in torchlight with near-continuous lightning flashes strobing my room. Awesome! Best lightning I’ve ever seen, massive great forked bolts streaking across the sky, exploding out of the south east. I thought it’d eased, then it returned and blew the power out. Eventually a shitstorm of rain hit as well, & even with a massive Couran golf umbrella, running around outside I still got wet. Found out the Q1 got hit 8 times! Total was about 10,000 bolts in 2 hours! Wish I had a digital camera already…
Wednesday 24 October 2007 (Age 32)
(Climb Leader on the Story Bridge in Brisbane)
Got to work for my 1600 climb and Spanner asked if I’d do the 1700 instead so LM could do mine and be back for the crossover. And do you know what? That 1700 climb was my 100th! Not including tails, only ones where I’ve taken climbers. Woohoo!
Thursday 23 & Friday 24 October, 2008 (Age 33)
(At home in Brisbane, very pregnant)
8.30pm: Settled down to watch The Amazing Race and when I went to the loo I made a rather unexpected discovery… “the show”! Rang the hospital to give them the heads up, & they said don’t worry, labour could still be a week off yet. Well I am only 37 weeks! But Bob’s on his way! Got quite emotional when I realised that.
11.30pm. My waters broke. Like a fucking tidal wave. Good thing I prepped the bed! Off to the Mater.
12.30am: Hospital said to go home and try to get some sleep – on the way home contractions got suddenly holyshit more painful, and only about 4 minutes apart. Sleeping was … nup.
Five or six hours later: You know that stage of being drunk when you’ve got a slightly floaty head, your mouth is a bit slow & you lose all track of time? Nitrous oxide does it too. I remember everything, like J holding me up in the shower for ages and my feet getting all swelled up and killing me, but I just felt slightly removed from events so later the news we’d been in there for THREE HOURS came as a bit of a shock!
Another 8 hours after that: After what seemed like hours of pushing I suddenly realised there were all these people in the room – besides me and J there were four doctors and three midwives! They explained what was happening but J had to fill me in again later cos I wasn’t really listening, all I remember was them asking if I wanted to just keep pushing or did I want help. Nothing was happening so we went the vacuum. J told me later I’d been pushing to no avail for over an hour and a half. It usually takes about 20 minutes. No wonder I was fucked.
(A short while later, after suction and an episiotomy and even more pushing omg get this thing out)
Suddenly this wild-eyed, slippery little bundle was unceremoniously dumped on my stomach. I distinctly remember thinking, “who the hell are you?” Well what the hell kind of reaction is that to meeting your firstborn?! It took a while to reconcile the bump I’d been lugging around for 8 months with this brand new little human, suddenly here! Then J goes “Bob’s a boy!” Omigod, we have a son! And he’s perfect. And we’ve named him Finn. Finn Gabriel, because J has relented over my favourite for his middle name. Do you think he sounds Irish enough?
I’ve had some fantastic October 24ths but up until seven years ago it was just another day. Now it’ll always be the incredible day our firstborn came into the world, full of memories I’ll never forget.