My reactionary ex-partners

For a greenie feminist socialist type, I have picked up some really reactionary partners over the years. They must hide their right-wing leanings initially. Or maybe I have been drunk too often during the courtship stage.

My first lover inherited, I can only assume, the worse traits from a British mother (think the Raj, colonialism, and a most unEdward Said like view of the empire) and an apartheit-raised South African father. The man with whom I spent the first half of my twenties can now be found on facebook blasting Islam in populist bad spelling, and shocked me yesterday by commenting on my asylum seeker welcoming status with a badly-thought out rationale that intimated that all men from developing nations are rapists and wife-beaters. I suddenly realised why his mother, my main regretful loss at the end of the relationship, might have unfriended him.

There was the partner of Indian extraction who had strong views on Fijians, and the farm-worker who thought that the ALP consists largely of communists. The Canadian seemed ok until we nearly came to blows about whether or not our (imaginary) gay son would be allowed to bring home his partner. When I calmed down, I remembered that he had submitted to The Operation, and that I had never intended to have children, let alone a gay son.

The Owl, a Melbourne man of a certain age and socio-economic background, harbours a wistful longing for the days when the unions actually meant something, but he is also aware of the strong possibility that if he votes Labor this time, he will probably lose custody of the menagerie, so he sensibly holds his peace.


The flying wolf

There is a long tradition of dramatic moving-house stories in my world. My brother and his long-suffering partner moved house with six water buffalo and a tonne of river rocks in 2003. S. wrote a song about the experience, which owed a lot to ‘A boy named Sue’ and ‘Hot-rod Lincoln’, and boasted the chorus ‘buffalooo-ooo’. They haven’t moved since.

My late best friend moved from Townsville to Stanthorpe in 2005, in a van containing two cats (loose) and a blue cattle dog with emotional problems. No animals were injured during the making of that move. A. and I then moved again, a year later, to Wylandra. The whole two day marathon was fuelled by fruit-loops eaten directly from the packet and black coffee, and all our friends disappeared when it became obvious that heavy lifting would be required.

My sister and her partner took the circuitous route to house moving, opting for two years on bikes, living in a small tent, so that they would be exhausted enough to enjoy setting up house at the end. This does not strike me as at all excessive, but you be the judge. See

However, it is the episode of the flying wolf that reminded me most recently why house-moving is a bad idea. The episode of the flying wolf also reminds me why racial profiling can be wildly inaccurate, and why I should interview potential friends to ensure that they won’t be moving to the other side of the world any time soon.

My German friends, upon discovering they were pregnant (and probably after too long in the Australian rural sector to still have any kind of judgement), decided to move back to Germany for good at the end of May. M. was still able to fly until mid-June, and D. had work that would finish around then too, so it was an obvious time to rent space in a shipping container, rabies-proof the Flying Wolf and haul arse.

Before reading on, you need to drop any ideas you may have about German efficiency and Teutonic organisation and punctuality. I love M & D dearly, but after working with them on and off for most of their Australian sojourn, I should have been aware that they have never been on time for anything. On the coldest day of the year so far, the Owl and I waited with coffee in hand for the rendezvous at a local bakery where I would meet them to navigate them to the vet in Brisbane that would give the Flying Wolf rabies-clearance and a sweet-smelling flea-bath. And we waited. And we waited. We were late getting into Brisbane. My attempts at cheering small talk all came back to unpleasant things. Cunningham’s Gap looked more than ever like nature was winning, the edges of the cliff fraying under the weight of destabilised vegetation. We had to stop at the public toilet at Aratula, forever associated for me with a twenty minute vomiting extravaganza en route to Andrew’s funeral.

We found the vet in a suburb of Brisbane I’d never heard of (it turns out there are quite a lot of suburbs in Brisbane I have never heard of) with three minutes to spare, only because a postie on one of those little step-through bikes stopped and used his GPS to show D., who is visual, the way so he could relate it to F., who is verbal, so she could write it down (and if you are confused because I am now talking about myself in the third person, you are not as confused as I was by that point.)

We sat in the park and I wished I still smoked and I understood entirely why M. wouldn’t let anyone except her hold the Flying Wolf’s lead, because if the dog disappeared at this point, we were all screwed (not to mention about $3000 poorer.) The Flying Wolf could have gone business class for the amount it costs to fly a dog.

The following morning we were, amazingly, twenty minutes early for our meet- up with the dog-flying woman from Thai air, reassuringly called Kylie and possessed of the flat affectless tones of a rural Queensland girl who knows one end of a beast from another. It doesn’t pay to be early. First were accosted, for no particular reason, by an over-zealous airport employee, who claimed that our perambulations along the fenceline were ‘making people nervous’, and then by three of Queenslands’s finest, all quite enthusiastically listing the things that were wrong with the Green Creature and coming up with a series of reasons why I should not attempt to drive it anywhere, despite the huge pile of impedimenta in the back which obviously needed to be taken somewhere. Just as I was wondering if I was going to have to cry, or if M. could be persuaded to do so for the sympathy vote, they lost interest and left, making me promise not to drive in the rain.

M & D, we miss you terribly. Life is duller without you.