I volunteered some time to help out at the Sydney Writer’s Fest this year. It may have been a completely mental thing to do – I’m still undecided. SWF always falls in one of the busier of my work weeks; it’s always been hard for me to get there. But this year it was also the week before I started my six weeks’ leave (!). Not only are my feet still recovering from being stood on for six hours at a stretch, but it was almost impossible to get all my work affairs in order so I could finish up with peace of mind. Wtf was I thinking!
So. I’d always wanted to, but never have been, an attendee (I know). I thought volunteering was such a smart way to make sure I finally got there one year: someone was expecting me to Be There, someone was relying on me to do Some Thing, so by volunteering, I gave myself No Choice. I scored four shifts: a publishing forum including Rosie Waterland; a Primary School Day at the Joan; an evening with Tom and Meg Keneally; and book signings duty, again with Rosie W, but also others like Frank Moorhouse, Andrew Fowler, and Rosalie Ham. Oh, and I made a borderline-spectacular gaffe involving Magda Szubanski – but maybe you want to jump ahead to the prompt – come back to this later.
I have loved Magda for so long. I was working the queue for Rosalie Ham, and watching as only a few people wandered Magda’s way. In my opinion, the camera, the boom mic, and whoever that stray guy was, scared potential book-signing-seekers away from her end of the table. I could see plenty of people were buying the book, but then doing a runner. It was all I could do to restrain myself from tearing around the foyer, herding all the reluctants, shouting words of encouragement to Magda all the while. The long line to Rosalie dwindled, and I saw an opportunity to make Magda feel wanted: I raced to the bookshelf, plucked a Reckoning from the table, handed over my money, then up I rush to Magda. I gave her my name. She began writing. And, seeing probably my only ever chance to talk to one of my heroes rapidly winding up, I gushed, “I came over as soon as that other line was…”
My gaffes could have a blog of their own. I could even do a section on, “My Gaffe On This Day in [pick a year]. I could. I have given away movie-endings, I have botched tennis points, and wedding arrangements – ! Wow, wedding arrangements are my specialty. The colour of the dress, the location of the wedding night, who the best man will be, before he’s even been asked – I can just give it away. Blurt, blurt, blurt, blah, blah, that’s me.
Magda, I know it’s unlikely you will ever come across my blog, but if you do, I hope you forgot that twit-volunteer on Saturday, 21 May at the Main Stage signings, and if you are unfortunate enough to remember me, please accept my apology – !!!!
Writing Prompt #143
He stood in the driveway watching the van turn round down in the cul de sac and start labouring up the hill. The local rag was flying out the side door, periodically, a dull thud on each driveway. Except when it got to his driveway. It landed with a metallic ‘whack’, on the bonnet of the Kia. A mute, he shook his fist as the van kept on, watching as it topped the rise and tipped down the other side. Then it began to pick up speed. Fist hanging in mid-air, he realised something was wrong. The van hurtled to the bottom of the hill. At the last second, the van veered hard to the left. The 670 came round the bend, and lurched out of the van’s way, ploughing into Frank’s and Bob’s parked cars, churning to a stop in Nancy’s rosebed. Everything slowed to a standstill, the van teetering on its two right wheels.
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