Me: Explained

20 09 2013

A quick review of what has happened/is happening since last I posted:

The Sharks beat the table-topping Roosters 32-22 (after leading 26-0 at halftime). They beat the Cowboys in week one of the finals 20-18 and were awarded the controversial 7-tackle try to Beau Ryan in the first half. And we now meet the Sea-Eagles in tonight’s do-or-die clash and will unfortunately be without key playmaker Todd Carney.

On the music scene, not much has changed. Still haven’t been to a concert since I saw the Mentals at New Years. Although tomorrow night I am going up to Sydney to see Steve Kilbey and the Sydney University Symphony Orchestra.

On the academic front though, things have never been so grim. Having struggled through my first year (which was actually all second year subjects) of journalism, I dropped back to Media and Communication (BCM) thinking “well I developed a bit of a foot hold in that last year and it still leaves me open to a few options, so I’ll slide on back to that”. Boy was I in for a shock.

Having been told upon my transfer from Shoalhaven Uni that I only needed to do well at the subjects I was told (which in scoring an average of 70% across all the said subjects, I was told that I was doing well) and then could apply to transfer straight to second year journalism.

I did that. But when I struggled with journalism, I was told I should’ve done the 1st years subjects, but some of the important ones weren’t running again until the next autumn session (i.e. – 12 months away). So I went back to BCM.

Upon my return to BCM, it dawned on me how messed up my situation was. One of my tutors asked me if I had or was currently undertaking any DIGC classes. I said ‘no’, as I was not told about them when transferring. The tutor then stressed the importance of these classes which meant that I was now both behind in journalism and BCM, and to start either again would mean another 3 years at uni, taking my total to 6 years at uni and only 1 degree. And I’d also be about 3 years older than those who were good enough to make the grade straight out of high school, but with the same or less experience. Not to mention that I wouldn’t be guaranteed a job when I left.

So is it worth starting again and staying on wasting even more money that I don’t yet have?

Which is why I can now say “I’m a uni drop-out”. And because I don’t have any foresight at all, I’m now screwed.

I am saw an ad a while back now for care workers, and since I’ve seen it, I’ve never ruled it out as a possibility. I have friends (even friends of friends) in aged care and they all tell me they love it (which is kind of encouraging for me).

But knowing my dad, he won’t be happy (as you may guess I haven’t told him yet), citing that I should’ve got a trade in the first place. Before I found myself in this situation, I’d have argued that he never really pushed me in any particular direction, but slowly and surely, some memories of him trying to do so are coming back. So I can’t use that argument when I get round to telling him.

What I might be able to do though, maybe, is say that he kept telling me things were/are easy and expected perfection on the first attempt at anything. I don’t think he quite grasps the concept of ‘this is my first time, I’m a learner’. Because I’m not the most practical person, I take a little bit longer to do things right. But that extra time and caution doesn’t cut it with my dad, so I shy away from many practical tasks around the house.

So I don’t know if a trade is right for me. What if a similar thing happens that happened at uni? About the only trade that I could see myself doing is becoming a painter (I haven’t researched it yet so this is just based on brief outside observations). You don’t have to worry about constructing anything (“Oh no! I got the angle wrong! And the planks aren’t long enough”, said no painter ever. “I forget. What do the different colours on the capacitor mean again?”, said no painter ever).

Not only that, I did get some brief experience painting a wall back in high school. We didn’t have the best brushes for the job, but I will admit, it was kind of fun. So maybe I’ll have to do some research, because I don’t know how in demand the painting profession is these days.

To sum up: this could very well be my last post, as I have deleted my twitter account and the next step is this. So thank you for reading.





Ooooohhhhhhhh Crap

4 06 2013

My cover might have been blown!

If you don’t already know, I plan to quit uni. And I haven’t been to a class in a few weeks. But apparently that’s not enough for the bigwigs to notice.

Today I got a text message and two calls (which I ignored because I didn’t know the number) from uni. And if that wasn’t bad enough, they also rang my home phone. But the worse bit is who picked up; no prizes for guessing who I’m talking about. Good thing he was at work when I got home so it was my sister who ended up telling me.

I was planning to tell my parents in my own time, but that opportunity may have gone. Nuts.

I also gained a slightly better understanding as to why some people put on a lot of weight or are struggling in terms of money. Because we say “just once more won’t hurt. Will it? Nah, I’ll just start fresh tomorrow”. Either that or it’s just me, I hope it’s not though.

So if you see a slightly flabby man short of breath and running as fast as he can down a hill within the next 48 hours, chances are it’ll be me. And if you do see me, you can be a total cruel person and smile and wave. I promise I want hurt you if you do.





*Grumble Grumble Grumble*

3 06 2013

I’ve just figured out why I’m putting on weight (you’re eating food. Yes, well done – ed.) But why am I eating more food than normal then smart ass?

It’s because my perspectives have all changed. Before, I used to look at things long term. Now though, I can’t see beyond tomorrow, so I’m only seeking short term pleasure; thus I’m eating more junk because it’s enjoyable and tasty now. That and I’ve given up caring.

It’s interesting to see how different people react to different situations though. Someone that I know asks me how I feel when they sense something wrong. Another simply states the obvious to which I feel compelled to scream out “No shit?! Really?! You don’t fucking say.” He doesn’t ask me anything though, just makes his statement and is done with it. And a 3rd ‘friend’ just goes all awkward and tries to change the subject every time my name gets mentioned; that’s what I’m told anyway.

But I’m just going around in circles these days. Get up, go to uni, spend money, eat/drink, go home, sleep, prey for the weekend.

I’ve still got 4 hours to blow and this laptop is due back at 1:08. I’d text someone, but it’s Monday. And I don’t have much credit left. And I left my card at home to prevent wasteful spending.

Seance by The Church turns 30 in 10 days time. The cool bit is I’m Facebook friends with all three founding members of the band, the guy who played harmonica on the album and the woman who took the photo for the front cover. I’m also friends with the guy who makes all the unofficial videos for the band.

Knowing my luck they probably will, but I so hope work doesn’t ring on Wednesday night. Go NSW!





And It’s Goneeeee

30 05 2013

“Dearest Log….”

Sorry, but that’s kind of what it’s been like this last month. This is my 13th post this month, 4 more than my second most prolific month.

I’ve always held the belief that journals, or diaries, are for poofs and that I’d never have one. I had some in high school, but they were supplied by the school and I never used them. Even though I still haven’t bought a journal/dairy, the way that I’ve been blogging has been like owning one. So does that mean I’m a poof?

I don’t know what is causing me more stress at the moment. Not being able to handle/get motivated for uni, the fear of having to tell my parents in time or finding something that will act as my ‘final chance hotel’, because, well, it will be. I’m guessing that there will be some smartass out there who will read this and say “well, it’s actually a combination of all of those things and…”

One thing that being in this constant state of dismay has allowed me to do is reflect better than I ever have. And become even more depressed. I’m struggling with what I’m doing because it clearly isn’t my strong point in life, no matter how much I kid myself.

But when I think about my life, I can see that I could have done heaps of things. I remember a few years ago when someone who used to be my friend (you know who you are) played football (or rugby league for those of you who might’ve thought soccer) and his team was spruiking for wingers. He asked me if I was interested. For those of you who can remember one of my first posts from nearly 15 months ago, you’ll know that I’m not great at any particular sport, but I’m willing to get in and have a go at most things.

For some reason, I didn’t take up his offer. I got all the details (costs, where/when registrations was etc.), but I didn’t follow through (good thing I never verbally agreed). But when I look back now, I should have done it. I know it means absolutely nothing, but I can remember a time at school when we played tackle footy and I somehow managed to hop along on one foot with three blokes trying to stop me. I was only taken down when a forth came up behind and gave me a mighty big shove.

And another time at a coaching clinic when I was pitted up against the local team’s (Berkeley Eagles if anyone was interested) fastest play in my age group. Him being a player, he was kitted out to the max; uniform, mouthguard, studs, you name it. But this was just a foot race remember. Because I rocked up on spur of the moment because there was nothing else doing, I wore my worn out old sandals that had no tread left. But I won. And naturally everyone who watched started hounding me to join the team.

There was also the time that I was asked to play cricket. I’m not the fastest bowler you’ll ever see, but I was a consistent bowler. And I could mix it up if needed. I remember one time when playing PSSA for my primary school (BWPS), I got about 5 wickets in one game against Cringila and was one of the key reasons that we were able to dismiss them for just 11. As it transpired though, I was a slightly better indoor cricket player than I was traditional. Even when there was a crowd of hot chicks calling out my name I was able to hold my nerve (the chicks knew my name because when I bowled, I left my hat near the net and they read my name that was on the inside of the beak).

My interpretation of a Dodge Viper at speed

My interpretation of a Dodge Viper at speed

Even in my HSC I could have gotten into the health sector (which I now wish I had). My final mark in PD/H/PE was actually 81% (and this was supposedly one of the hardest courses on offer because there was so much content to cover). I also did SLR (‘Sports, Lifestyle, Recreation’, not a fancy Mercedes sports car) and topped the class every time (but only because the rest of the class was filled with total idiots who were good at the sport bit, but not the theory).

Then there is when I used to play basketball. At the time, because I was so short then, I wasn’t the best when it came to scoring hoops, but I was fast. So every team I played for always had the same game plan: if I got the ball, my speed would get us up the other end and all the others had to do was get up near the hoop for me to pass to them to score. Simple, yet effective.

Since then, I’ve grown, so my technique has changed; and for the better. I can now sink with a little better consistency and from more places (I can shoot from halfway and get the distance with ease, just not the hoop). This became apparent on Wednesday when I played a full court game and scored numerous goals; both from lay-ups (which I seem to have mastered) and regulation shot. When my team made a break, because I was hanging back, I got passed the ball, but the opposition’s fastest player was looming fast and there was no one else from my team in a better position than me. I don’t know why, but my legs refused to move, so I pivoted and took a shot, from the intersection of the quarter way line and the side line. If this were scripted, it would’ve gone in. But it’s not and it didn’t. However, if I’d been one step closer to the net, it would’ve.

The one time I attempted a wheel and it wasn't even on a car

The one time I attempted a wheel and it wasn’t even on a car

And how could I forget the time that I made the cross-country team 3 years running and was the only person that whole time who wasn’t in TSP? A bit of explaining: I went to a sports high school where there were teams for a number of different sports (mainly the aforementioned rugby league) and if you lived outside the whatever km radius, you only got into the school if you played sport for a team and were willing to represent the school in TSP, which stands for ‘Targeted Sports Program’. So to not be in TSP and make cross-country 3 years running is no mean feat.

I could also have become a musician. Even though I never mastered chords in my time, I was chosen for extracurricular guitar lessons provided free of charge by the high school. And I did love playing the guitar. And naturally I do wish I carried on with it, but clearly I didn’t. Not only that, I also picked up the bass as well for a group performance. And keyboard. I was even chosen as the bass in a vocal group because I have a voice that was the equivalent of about 3-4 keys on the piano deeper than any other guys in the class. And I nearly forgot that I was offered a few classes for trumpet as well.

Quite a few people commented how I was a good public speaker as well; even though I could barely reach the microphone for lack of height. One time, a girl that was considered quite hot by a fair number of people told me how she found my voice calming after I gave a 10 minute speech. Shame she’s lesbian.

And even though I was never a fan of art in year 7 or anything, people tell me that I could’ve made a decent drawer if I’d stuck at it; because I did fill the male stereotype by drawing in the back of my maths book in class. My gravatar thing-o for this is hand drawn. I also have a folder of other things (pretty much all cars though, but I could never get the wheels right so I just left them off) I’ve drawn. And some of them aren’t that bad, if I do say so myself.

Whipped this one up in under 2 minutes. Even surprised myself

Whipped this one up in under 2 minutes. Even surprised myself

So as you can see, I’ve thrown a hell of a lot of good opportunities away because I thought I wanted to be a writer. About the only thing I’m qualified to do now is comment on The Church and all associated material. But that won’t get me far. Although, their on-line moderator did step down from her position the other month, so if I was any good with computers…..

Fuck.

*I would like to apologize if I offended anyone by calling them ‘chicks’ or ‘girls’. It’s just that I have no idea what to call them without being disrespectful, as I said a few posts ago.





Down In The Lucky Country

7 05 2013

This is something that I typed over my recent ‘study’ break from uni. I don’t know how I am going to pitch the idea to get the go ahead to submit it. I am 99.999% sure it will be deemed too ofensive and subjective to be published, but to hell with regulations I say. After one of my posts here last year caused a bit of a stir, I’m kind of expecting a similar thing with this. But bring it on I say; even though I don’t have pictures here, I do on a thumb drive at home somewhere. I hope you enjoy reading it and you take something out of it at the end.

R U OK? Well, are you?

I don’t know anyone who has ever had depression, but I do know someone who told me that they had ‘depression’. They claimed that they had depression “for over a year now, and was avoiding all human contact. Ask Dallas or Jaiden”. This coming from a person, who only a few short weeks earlier, told me that they held backyard parties at their place every fortnight or so. Their Facebook page also showed that they were out clubbing on a regular basis. Not to mention their graduation from high school about 4 months prior.

Factor in their recent holiday to Queensland and taking up of a second job and it’s quite clear that they had ‘depression’ and were ‘avoiding all human contact’. To add to this, they claimed that due to this ‘depression’ they were not able to be held accountable for anything that they may have said or done;thus dodging apologising for offending my deceased grandfather.

Before this occurred a few years back, I was aware of depression, but wasn’t exactly informed about it. The extent of my knowledge was that it could occur to anyone at any time.

But I became curious as to whether or not depression led to unaccountability for your actions, so I contacted Professor David Horgan. He told me that this person was not above normal people due to their ‘condition’ and that they are accountable for what they have done and that depression is not a cause of lying, so I had every right to be upset with them.

Even though I was smug with this small victory, I still did research into the condition.

Did you know that depression affects about one in seven people in Australia? To put that into perspective, that’s 3 million people. 3 million, that’s a big number. Now consider that these numbers are just based on those who were brave enough to seek help.

In Australia, the stereotypical mentality that we all have is one of ‘she’ll be right mate’, especially among men. This is a long held belief that may not be as relevant nowadays, but imagine if it still is, because the rate of depression in men is nearly a third lower than in women. I’m not saying these figures are inaccurate, but just think about it for a moment.

Those of us who are fortunate to live in our own home have little reason to be depressed compared to others, but that doesn’t mean it can’t occur. While individual circumstances (your football team losing the grand final) may cause momentary depression, it is usually a combination of things that leads to what is called Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). So the passing of a family member, the failing of a major exam/important interview and significant damage to personal property in the space of a short time framemay lead to extended periods of depression.

Depression is not a new thing though. It is not something that is just associated with the 20th century and the possession of material objects (though it could be argued that these things have increased its prevalence). In ancient Greece, Empedocles (490-430 BC) developed the humoral theory, based on what he regarded as the four basic elements and each was characterised by a quality and a corresponding body humor. These humors were blood, phlegm and black and yellow bile. Disease was said to be caused by an imbalance in these humors and the cure was to administer a drug with an opposite quality to the one(s) out of balance.Seems logical.

However, modern science has no known cure for depression, meaning that Empedocles theory was just that; a theory. Everything sounds good in theory. In theory, the Hindenburg was a good idea. In practise though…..

Dr Steve Ilardi argues that the brain mistakenly interprets the pain of depression as an infection. Thinking that isolation is needed, it sends messages to the sufferer to “crawl into a hole and wait for it all to go away”. This can be disastrous because what depressed people really need is the opposite: more human contact. One cause of depression might be what is colloquially referred to as FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). And what gave rise to this? Facebook and other social media.

With the ability to upload and share photos at any time from (almost) any place, there is no such thing as a night out with ‘just a few’ friends without upsetting someone anymore. The internet hides no secrets, so word will get around; and fast. It has always been possible to exclude people from group activities, but now it’s not as easy. Especially if someone other than yourself uploads photos without thinking.

This is why ‘ignorance is bliss’ and ‘what I don’t know won’t kill me’. Or is it? These days it’s just assumed that people, especially school age and university students particularly, have Facebook. I haven’t had a ‘normally’ functioning account (long story) for nearly a year now, and if I’m honest, it has been awesome. I haven’t had to worry about signing in and responding to, let alone riffling through, all the crap that people post.

As a result of this ‘not being connected’ though(I still have a mobile, an email and a twitter account) I’ve noticed some people have stopped talking to me for no fathomable reason. This is only annoying because the people who do keep in touch suddenly forget things about you. For example, I went right though High School without a Facebook account and people knew when my birthday was. But this year they didn’t. Why? “Because you’re not on Facebook, nobody knows anything about you”.

Really? Is this what the world has come too? Or is Facebook just becoming a tool for sifting out who you do and don’t want to be associated with. Most people fill in their details honestly on Facebook without giving it a second thought, but with Facebookhas come a new wave of ‘stalkers’. We can now sit at home and find out about people who we think we may know.

This can be both a blessing and a curse. Struggling to find a birthday gift for someone? Just check out what pages they have ‘liked’. Or, conversely, see what pages they’ve ‘liked’ and find out what they are really into and what their views of the world are.

But if you do the latter, how do you act the next time you see them? Do you act as if you’re none the wiser about them from your last encounter? Or do you let them know what you’ve found out? Maybe this is why anxiety rates and depression among teenagers is on the rise. With all this additional information on people, could it be that what is being found out is becoming harder and harder to digest?

Furthermore, 34% of people in a healthy weight range feel that they are overweight. So how would they feel every time they log in to see a skimpily clad ‘selfie’ of someone with more than 50 ‘likes’? It’s surprisingly easy to find loads of pictures of this nature on Facebook as there are pages dedicated to the things.

But stories about people and their appearance are not just constrained to the online world. Just recently, three men in Saudi Arabia were ejected from the country after being deemed ‘so good looking that the local women might fall for them’. Imagine how this must make someone who is already riddled with self-doubt feel. Not to mention all the modelling competitions that take place around the world.

It might even come back on the parents who are unaware of what they are doing. We’ve all heard the story that starts, “Back in my day, we never…”, and usually contains the line “But nothing” somewhere.  With a natural desire to impress parents, children can find it hard to conform to expectations. “My father always contradicts himself”, says Isaac*. “One minute he’s like ‘why don’t you let your hair grow a bit?’ The next he’ll be ‘so when are you getting a hair cut?’ And it’s not even that long”.

So maybe I was wrong. Maybe that person had anxiety for some reason but thought they had depression and never sought help. Maybe, just maybe, I owe them an apology after all.

*Name withheld





It’s in the Constitution

5 05 2013

This is a work in progress for one of my uni assignments. I have to pick an issue that has been discussed throughout the session and write 1500 word about my opinion and stance on the issue. I then have to find 8-10 photos using the creative commons website and write captions for them. The issue I have chosen to look at is whether or not Facebook needs a constitution. There will be references, but this is still just a work in progress, remember that while reading

There are laws surrounding drinking before a certain age that you can be punished for if found to be flaunting the rules. And even though you are entitled to vote at elections, you’re not allowed to vote until you are 18. Why then, aren’t there rules and regulations surrounding the enforcement of age restrictions on Facebook.

Given the current climate and extent of Facebook usage around the world (if it were a nation, it would be the third biggest in the world with 1 billion users), if it were to be shut down and launched again, there is an easy way of restricting minors from having accounts.

To enrol to vote, we have to go to the local post office and hand over sufficient proof of age. Could it not be as simple as this to ‘enrol’ for Facebook membership? You provide proof of age, show an interest in becoming a ‘member’ of Facebook and your application of interest is sent off to be assessed.

The government wouldn’t want just anyone having an account, so to minimise risk of abusive behaviour taking place, assessment of those interested people should help this side of the issue. Once the government is happy that the applicant is suitable for ‘membership’, they would have to agree to a ‘constitution’ of Facebook. This could act like a contract for a job. “If you are caught posting obscene pictures ….. your account will be terminated immediately”.

This course of action could also see the number of altercations with vicious intent drop. I personally have had it happen on more than one occasion where messages exchanged have resulted in people turning their backs on me because of a ‘dispute’. This wasn’t a pleasant feeling as I didn’t initiate either of them.

The other reason that this was annoying was the fact that I could’ve lost my job over my involvement in one. Even though neither of us dragged work into the issue, because of my partaking, I was able to be held accountable. This resulted in me abandoning Facebook altogether. I’m almost certain that I’m not the only one who’d have been unaware of the circumstances if such a thing were to happen to them.

As we know, there have been judges disciplined due to ‘friending’ jurors of the same trial, and prison guards stood down for the same with in-mates. Maybe if they had been forced to read a ‘constitution’ before hand, maybe they would have had second thoughts before sending or accepting the request.

This would benefit society in numerous ways. By the time most people turn 18, they are generally in their final year of schooling or have already graduated. So if the government deems that they are mature enough to vote, then surely they are mature enough to become a ‘member’ of an online community.

One of the potential benefits of enforcing the age at which people can ‘enrol’ for Facebook is common courtesy will (hopefully) increase. While not all teenagers have an ‘attitude’ problem, it is becoming increasingly apparent. Facebook is a place where egos can be developed and crushed without much effort. By restricting access to social media, such as Facebook, maybe another level or degree of respect will be learnt by the minority that ruin the image for everyone.

With new government enforcements stipulating that students aren’t allowed to leave school at the end of year 10 except for certain conditions, most people that use Facebook are still in school, so have no real need to have a Facebook account as they will almost certainly see their friends on a regular basis.

Once people turn 18 and are ready to leave school, they will have a legitimate reason to have an account. Work quickly takes over life and tertiary study is not universities for everyone, so Facebook is an ideal way to keep in touch.

While some people might complain at this, there are alternatives. For example, instead of ‘messaging’ a person like Facebook allows, why not email them? You can still send images and links via email and you can also message more than one person at a time.





A Pure Drop Chasing the Fortunate

22 04 2013

Jeff Apter is an Australian writer who has written biographies on people including Marc Hunter, Kasey Chamber, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and the Finn brother. He also has a fortnightly spot on ABC radio. I was lucky enough to catch up with him recently.

Jeff Apter’s story starts in Sydney some time ago and sounds a little something like this: “Born in Sydney suburbs, raised in Sydney suburbs. Travelled a bit; has two children; married; lives in Wollongong. The End”, Jeff proclaims, crushing any chances of a future autobiography. You have to admit though, for someone who spends his time researching and writing 80-90000 words about other people’s lives, he clearly doesn’t value his as much as other’s would.

The man sitting across the small table from me in the corner of this slightly sensual red room is Jeff Apter. He has been described by the Sydney Morning Herald as ‘Australia’s most prolific writer of music biographies’. “I’m one of about only 10 people in the country who do this you know” he says, very matter of factly. O, very prestigious.

One of the first things that you can’t help but notice about Jeff is his appearance. ‘Googling’ him, you see on the screen a man that looks like someone that your mother might have warned you to avoid when you were young. He has unavoidably thick, angular eyebrows; but these may be accentuated by his minimal hair north of that.

file.ashx

Yet pictures and the internet – “how can I double check and confirm that?” – can be very deceptive. Because sitting before me now is a man with an inviting smile and a glowing personality it feels like talking to an old friend after years of separation.

Despite knowing that he wanted to be a writer from a young age, life didn’t have the same plans for Jeff. “[I took on other jobs] out of necessity. I worked for the public service for a few years, which was horrible. I was in a factory for a year; airlines for a few years. But they were all really frustrating, dead end jobs. It took me 15 years of work experience to realise I work best on my own”, he says offering a glimmer of hope to those still struggling with career uncertainty.

By working on his own, Jeff kind of means it. “Sometimes I do preliminary run throughs”, says Diana, Jeff’s wife. “I did more before the kids came along, and I also have university commitments too. We sometimes discuss the direction of his work if he’s floundering”, she adds. “I’m not always able to add much though, as I didn’t grow up Australian, so I’m not as immersed in local popular culture”, she laments. “But talking things through seems to help.”

Jeff did an apprenticeship at Rolling Stone magazine for five years and acquired some skills that are paying off now he’s left. “I don’t just write the words you know. I’ve got a budget for the photos used which I then write the captions for. Sometimes you have to be able to say as much in one sentence as you can in 5000 words. I also write the text for the back cover. I’m involved in every stage.” So 80000 words plus captions and blurb means you really need to know your stuff.

We’ve all heard about the Rolling Stone and the high esteem in which it is held but, “the notion of Rolling Stone being the glamorous, big budget magazine is false is Australia. Here it’s just the redhead stepchild of the American magazine”. But it’s still a big name around the county, so why did Jeff leave? “It really is very intense. Back when I worked for them, it was just one guy who owned the business and it was just three of us trying to recreate the quality of the American magazine. We had to do 13 magazines a year. You’d finish one, breath in for a day then start on the next one; where as if I finish a book, I tend to get a period of time to enjoy the fact that I finished something. I can go ‘that was good. What’s next’?”

Even with years of practice, Jeff still gets a case of the nerves at the start of every assignment undertaken. “You’re given this name that you know about, but you just sit there thinking ‘how am I going to do this’?”, a believable sense of fear enters his voice. “It’s not until I’ve given what I have to someone else and they come back with more of what they liked about it than what they didn’t that I can relax a little”, his shoulders suddenly slump.

The relentless groan of the traffic outside and the buzz of the coffee machines are almost tidal in their intensity. The setting of a cafe lines up with why Jeff writes about whom he does. “I’m really interested in kind of demystifying of public figures. Not denouncing them, but showing them to be real people with kids, commitments and trying to make money. I try to break down barriers and draw a real picture of these people”, he says with plenty of hand gestures. So despite having had “really great offices with sweeping views”, here we are, in a coffee shop on the main drag on a Monday morning.

—————————————————————————————————————

The deadline is approaching fast. The clock strikes 2 a.m. The pressure causes sweat to bead up on his forehead….. This is a situation that you’ll never find Jeff in. “For some reason I work better in the mornings. It might be because I have a couple of kids, but I’ve learnt to focus all my energy into constant bursts. It’s all the result of 3 to 6 months of research beforehand though. I believe that people who work 8 hours a day are only good for 2 hours, so I try to filter that into my own writing in that 2 to 3 hours. When it comes 3 o’clock, I save what I’ve got and that’s it for the day”, he says with his children clearly in mind.

And could you blame him? Despite having an ‘office’ that is open and airy with a large window, it’s what lays beyond that ruins the room: it’s a red brick wall. “[It’s] really starting to bother me now that I think about it”, he says running an analysing eye over it. Taking a step back, the office could be described as slightly self-indulgent with constant reminders of Jeff’s previous works being ever present. A small bookcase full of Jeff’s previous work sits below the window. In front of which sits a box of “mini-Shirls” only recently delivered.

But why does Jeff like writing about musicians and their work? “I like writing about someone whose work I understand, not necessarily love, but I know their history. I know and am drawn to their story.  Elements of the story that I haven’t been told before, or told inaccurately make for a really good read.” He recalls a time when he was told by one of his interview subjects to just make it a good read and a page turner, “it took me about five books to learn that though”, he admits with a smile.

How about knowing what songs mean though? “No”, he laughs, “I’m not looking for a deeper explanation of the song. I’m not really intrigued by lyrical analysis or anything. I figure if you were all about the words, you’d write poetry. Music is more than that, its mood and emotion and volume. Frankly, you can sing ‘la la la la’ in a certain way for five minutes and you could still break hearts.”

It’s only when you look at the material Jeff has collated for past and present projects that you really understand why so few people in the country do it. Sitting beneath his work desk is a black box full of stuff from his research for his book on Graeme ‘Shirley’ Strachan. “This is a folder that can have everything from DVDs to notes and scrapbooks from the 1950s. It’s just full of stuff that you’re not going to find online, which is why the internet is only a good launching pad depending on who you’re writing about”, he tells me, referring to an earlier question. This is just one folder remember, because as Diana reminds us “he’s usually working on more than one project at a time”.

What’s next for Jeff? Well he has just finished another book on an Australian rock icon which he hopes will hit stores in August, just in time for Father’s Day. And after that? He might just well be putting his feet up pondering quietly to himself ‘what’s next?’