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An albatross swan song – Verse 8: Back to a Weird Dairy lunch ...

By Justin Obodie
Created 12/07/2009 - 20:19

An albatross swan song
Verse 8: Back to a Weird Dairy lunch…


It got lonely in the dunny and last time I got “locked” in a cubicle thingy I needed Geoff to help me escape; so I thought it would be best to get out while I could still remember where the door was and what a door actually did.

On the way back to the feast I bumped into Polly Bush who was recording the event for her satire about a fairy tale: Club Der.

By the time I got back to the table Craig Rowley, dear Father Park and Jacob Stam were discussing ancient history and battles fought; the crew were spellbound. We all listened in silence as Father Park ended the discussion by succinctly describing the inevitable consequences of warfare:

Blood mixed freely with faeces and urine as the salt dust drank.

At that point the entire gig became silent, very silent indeed and we no longer felt particularly hungry. We were all hoping David Roffery would call the half time score but no, nothing.

I suddenly realised that I knew fuck all about dialectics, dialectical materialism, negation, negation of the negation or what goes on inside a live lobster’s head as it looks at you while getting ripped apart and eaten.

By now there were no borders, real, metaphysical or otherwise. It felt like being in all dimensions and one dimension at the same time. Our lunch became some type of weird explosion of all things that have happened, all things that could happen. It was if the dialectics of chaos had taken over. The complexities were infinite and quantum at the same time.

It would be easier to describe the colour blue.

Nothing was happening; we were locked into an eternal stillness. Was this the end or was it a beginning. We all held our breath. Andrew Glikson and John Pratt were grinning from ear to ear.

And then something happened: softly and silently a wee puff of smoke appeared from a tea pot upon the table and like Aladdin that wee puff of smoke took shape and form; it grew larger. I could hear everybody thinking out loud: three wishes yipee. But who would get the three wishes, who would Aladdin favour most of all?

The mood quickly changed from one of companionship to one of competition. Our personal agendas took over and a very dark mood descended upon a wonderful feast. The smoke snaked around and around and slowly took on a human form. But to the disappointment of a few and the relief of most it was not Aladdin; it was dear Margo.

The mood changed in a quantum; even the disappointed ones soon got carried away with the pleasure of seeing Margo Kingston again.

By now everybody had started breathing again but not a word was whispered. Everyone was waiting for Margo to speak her words of wisdom and common sense; or preferably crack a joke.

But Margo had nothing to say; rather, she pulled out a big fat joint from nowhere and in silence lit up. Nobody said a word as they watched.

Margo inhaled for what seemed like forever then she stopped and broke the silence, a sound; a single note could be heard echoing from the beginning of time.

And with that solitary note Margo slowly exhaled clouds of rainbow serpents which encompassed the past, present and the future; all that was; all that is and all that will ever be; infinity – everything. Both the internal (subjective) infinity that lies within our bodies and souls and the external infinity that lies beyond the heavens above.

Dual infinities, separated only by that fragile window: thyself, yet intimately and forever interconnected in ways known and unknown – enigmatic and formless infinities that will inevitably end up as one, in life or in death.

Soon Margo’s AUM resonated through all of us. Her colourful clouds became transparent and drifted silently about us and through us. It looked and felt truly magical.

Then we all turned into silk worms.

Matter, sound and colour became one as we turned philosophy into science and science into art to weave silken tapestries of humanity stretching through the open ceiling to the heavens above; tapestries of beauty and truth; companionship and cooperation. It felt and looked glorious; bridges to heaven.

All of a sudden I was standing in front of Mr. Tang with my camera and had no idea how I got there…….

“If you take my picture I will show you something unusual.” said Mr Tang. “Go to its home, identify the sign, then go to The Square, I’ll make sure your Ghost is there.” He continued.

Pumpkin and Mona were standing beside me and told me to go ahead a take his photograph. So I did.



Mr Tang was a bit pissed about not being warned of the flash but he did enjoy seeing the playback of his image. He thought he was the ant’s pants in fact and told me about his colourful adventures in many a forbidden place. In the meantime the girls cleaned him out and started looking for something unusual.

We had a pile of stuff, papers, photos and odds and ends but amongst the paraphernalia was something unique, something out of place. Pumpkin immediately recognised it; it once belonged to her Ghost.

It was a book by Mark Twain, the only thing written in English, Pumpkin said she smelt something unforgettable as she opened the book. The book had words underlined, neat little characters in the margins written in pencil – it had been studied by a man who wanted to understand, a thoughtful man.

And then Pumpkin noticed a sentence underlined with a thin grey line:

Why you simple creatures, the weakest of all weak things is a virtue which has not been tested by fire.

She pressed the book to her face and remembered, a smell triggered a long forgotten memory of a place the Ghost loved – “I know where to go – the Library.”



We were there in a flash. The Library had that musty familiar smell of books. “This is one of his places.” she said as we entered. She knew the smell; Mark Twain’s book once lived in this Library. Pumpkin knew she would find her sign somewhere in this building.

We wandered up and down corridors into dead ends and back again. It was a huge labyrinth and we were totally lost. At least I was so Pumpkin led me to a sunny courtyard and told me to watch the flowers while she carried on with the search.



I sat amongst the flowers while they chattered amongst themselves talking about such things as free will, determinism, how to cook snails and where to buy the best fertiliser. It was all very peaceful and I needed the rest.

I was only with the flowers for a short while before Pumpkin returned and whispered, “I found it.” She took me by the hand and led me to an atrium where she told me to look. I did but couldn’t see anything other than lots of pretty colours and light.



“Look closer up there,” she said…



“Look, he was a naughty little Ghost,” said Pumpkin with a cute giggle, that western giggle. “He must have snuck that one in as a subtle challenge to tradition – that was so typical of him. At the time you would never see those in a public place in China, still don’t really.”

I had absolutely no idea what Pumpkin was talking about as I had been the product of a western baby boomer upbringing. Anyway I was peaking on those double sided goldenelephants so nothing made any sense except Pumpkin’s lovely smile. It was all good.

“Quick, let’s get down to The Square,”. Pumpkin said. I flew, Pumpkin walked, she arrived at The Square a few minutes before me and appeared very excited when I arrived.



“Look look look,” Pumpkin cried out. I did but all I could see were 227 old blokes dressed in $49 dollar Lowes suits. “Wrong way, over here,” Pumpkin said. “Turn around and stop jumping up and down on one leg.”

I turned around and observed a building from Greece (I thought), and loads of people wandering about The Polygon like rubbery figures. Pumpkin became very quiet but she was wearing an enormous smile. She said in a whisper, “Look, over there.”

I looked “over there”, and bloody hell I got great big chill down the back of my neck and my feathers stood on end. I immediately swallowed my stash, spun around, but no cops, only 227 old blokes in Lowes suits.



I looked back and there it was: a beautiful Flying Dragon Ghost hovering like an icon about that solemn and stately design.

And then the Flying Dragon Ghost in an offbeat sort of way told me his name.

As a ghost of China’s living past lay in fading silence I could see my Pumpkin had reconnected with someone she loved and a country they both cared for. It was wonderful to see Pumpkin get her wish and meet her special Ghost who in spite of everything stood the fiery test of virtues held true. He was a good Ghost, a humble Ghost who worked as one of the team and did good things for the people he loved.

The Flying Dragon Ghost reminded me of my Dad, a public servant who saw himself as a servant of the people and behaved as such with honesty and integrity. Sadly they never quite got to meet in the mortal world, but I’m sure if they did they would have felt very comfortable together.

Six degrees of separation they say. Nah, we are all a lot closer than that; maybe it’s nil degrees and we separate ourselves by our own delusions: delusions of self, of absolute individuality and self importance. It’s all too hard, I suppose, but I sense a feeling; a universal feeling, that we need each other, now more than ever.

We need good people, trustworthy people who care, who simply care.

As Pumpkin led me away from The Square my head was spinning like ghosts; Justin, Audrey, Walter, Dragon Ghost, Albatross Obodie, Mitty had solved another unsolvable mystery; all on my own. Pumpkin’s wish came true and she was already making plans to follow her Flying Dragon Ghost around the globe. I felt like a drink and a smoke but I don’t drink or smoke – honest.



Instead I decided to fly to the nearest Starbucks for a very strong cup of coffee (Pumpkin walked), but not before dropping in at the Goldenelephantpharmacy. I had a clever and cunning plan to make a motza and simultaneously liquidate ALL (trust me) my Royal Bank of Scotland script.

I walked in to find Kurt KerBANG standing behind the counter.

I said, “Let’s make a deal.” He grinned and replied, “You mean – sale of the century”. He was on to me this time.

The kid consulted his trusty abacus and a deal was done including a nice little discount for shipping. He also gave me 42 complimentary doublesidedgoldenelephants for good cheer.

In a flash I arrived at Starbucks, Pumpkin was still walking.



Unfortunately Starbucks had run out of coffee by the time I arrived, but they did give me a room and bed. They also relieved me of my fine white powder, wallet, phone and ID for reasons unknown. I reckon they were just taking care of the stuff while I rested – the customer service was excellent but I was still dying for a cup of coffee.

I waited patiently on my cot for coffee and then overheard a Starbucks guy call Pumpkin on her mobile; she turned up a little later. When she did it was not pretty – Pumpkin gave it to them big time – for about three seconds – then they all laughed their heads off. They were into my goldenelephants I thought – but it was a promising sign, business will boom I thought.

The guys from Starbucks promptly showed us to the door then bid us farewell. I was right – the service was wonderful, they gave me my stuff back. Pumpkin and I wandered off hand in hand down the lane, and everything was almost good. Pumpkin was still laughing her head off. So were the Starbucks guys. It wasn’t funny – I never got my cup of coffee. The dialectics of customer service – something I have yet to understand.

Coming up: going home, my Psych/o, and Audrey has her final say.

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