The Birthday Party

“Com’on everbody, be there is five minutes,” is the first indication that something is afoot. The Birthday Party.
Out of monk-like cells they emerge onto the fawn stained carpeted hallway.
“Who’s birthday is it anyway?”
“You don’t look a day over twenty one says another.
“Yeah I hold my age well” she responds with a giggle.
“Well I’d say that any way, wouldn’t I.”
There’s a bare laminate table, a few yet to be stale sandwiches lining its edges, waiting for their eaters.
“So who’s sitting there then,” comes a faint query.
“Must be the boss I think,” says another.
A knot of folk gather sliding into the room eventually filling all the seats. The cake in it’s box is presented, passed over heads of the seated and lands on the table with a yummy thud.
“What is it?” the larger lady asks.
“Whatever it is it’ll be yummy, they always are. I would buy the shop full if I could.”
It’s at the edge of my imaginings, a shop full of cheesecakes. The thought of the eating process fills me with panic.
We slide int our seats haphardously arranged round the table now, mixing lunch eaters with none eaters. When the box is opened the obligatory ‘ohs’ and ‘ahs’ fill the smallish room. As if noone has ever seen a commercially bought cheese cake before, this example was hailed as if the Shroud of Turin.
Then the cake slicing, carefully staged to ensure each receives a segment in line with their wish, small portions forced on to the unwilling, somehow all have to participate. Before the passing around, and around and around there is a muted rendition of “Happy Birthday to You”, with barely raised voices.
As the chairs are backed out of their spots and the attendees shuffle away the Birthday girl is left to clean up, retuning the remaining white mud cake to the fridge.
Is that all there is? Its a scene repeated across crib rooms in the land girt by sea.


Fields Scene

Wordsworth wandered on golden fields of daffodils. They danced as he gazed. Aimless lonely wandering over a countryside perhaps well known.
A scene of wonderment.
Acreages of tulips rising and falling in ranks across the hills and dale. Every bloom majestic in its singular beauty. What is the collective word for massed beauty? A jawdropping experience, and through the open mouth of which the soul is revived.
A scene of tranquility.
He’d worn a flanelette shirt, faded check squares followed to the torn ragged collar. He was no longer there, he was long gone.
We trudged weariliy through different fields, some three or four lush hectares surrounding several pond like mud enclosures. We followed the paths in no particular order. The dilapated direction signs were unecessary and illegible.
Small chipped plaques inidcated that here or there some atroocity had been perpertrated. Thank God the body of the text was in Khmer. Chillingly the titles were bilingual Khmer/English.
“Baby Pit”
“Baby Pit” I murmered, and wondered “What’s a baby pit,” momentarily but in the context of the drying ground and dust it was obvious. I stood and wondered. A gnarled tree stood alongside, stark and twisted this way and that, its shade cast deep ragged shadows over the shallowness of the pit. Leaves had wept into the pit, leaves rusted, twisted and crackling. The bark wrinkled like an old persons skin, telling its age, a part of its life. And in that life of long ago it held the brutal impacts of smashing skulls, broken bodies and dripping blood, from which its roots drew succour. The blood of babies smashed against its trunk.
I could barely read the sign through tears coursing down my burning cheeks. Such a scene now of tranquillity, from night’s screaming past. I stood transfixed. This wasn’t the time to talk, remark or move on.
A scene of obscenity.

I knew It Would Happen

“I knew that would happen”.  A well chosen topic for an impromptu speech at a Toastmasters Contest.. Purposely drawing on individual experience, not news related, where general knowledge might be an advantage.

There’s all sorts of takes on this, as multitudinous as grains of sand on a beach.

We heard of the the country childhood and its asssociated stage fright. A personal tale, well told.

But most tales came to this.

What happened in the morning of the Contest.

Variants on this theme abounded, the lost preparation, the drive to the venue and so on. All most interesting , all very recent, all telling something of the teller.

And then it happened, what I was hoping for and  totally out of left field. Something to which I could mumble, 

“I knew that would happen”.

A student speaks of her early life with family in China, and the dreams which were fulfilled on coming to Australia. A tale of a life targeted to a year away from China, in aforeign land where communism once held sway in eastern Europe. Then following the archetypical route of improvement through education, study in Australia as an electrical engineering under graduate.

She says “She knew it would happen.”

But did she really?

I knew when she rose timidly to speak that her mind set was different from the others speakers.

We should expect the unexpected, we should never be in awe of the differences that folk bring, we all come from different experiences.

“I knew it would happen”, is a post mortem on reflection. Good or bad we can wrap up the past in the present as an emblem for our future.

A collection of these parcels sits in the memory of us all.