Jammin with the Clivester

At last, my chance to become immersed within a world of unabashed arts-wankerdom. The pair of fat, black-rimmed specs I purchased last month would enter their prime – my ticket to blend chameleon-style in with the highest of the brow, the leftest of the wing, the bookfest literati at the annual Melbourne Writers Festival. I would schmooze and survey, eye off proceedings and breathe in literature, poetry, and intellect on tap. I would drink verses and prose up like aged wine and rich port.
Oh the virtues of a highbrow existence.

It would come via a catch - somehow I was to be a technical go-to man for the venue’s sound requirements. I would be riding the sound desk and thrusting microphones in front of assorted notable literari so that their words of deep thought and reflection might be heard by all. Despite my experience amidst the shadiest of rock pubs and live music venues over the years, I could not be deemed a sound engineer. I have not a tat, a piercing nor a single pair of cheekhugging black jeans; I wash daily, I shave occasionally, and I yet to suffer the wrath of tinnitus. On top of all this, I am partial to a loss of bowel when I glance an eye over a sound desk, wondering deeply what all the little knobs do, like an overexcited twelve year old boy visiting the cockpit of a jumbo jet for the very first time. Visually, characteristically and vocationally, I am an ambitious choice to be put in charge of acoustic logistics for this highbrow event.

I stare on behind the sound desk in a halogen lit, wooden floored Malthouse theatre bagging room. It hits me how I regularly seem to find myself in the most unlikely of situations. At first seeming like any other moment, chameleons in their own right, blending seamlessly with the continual video reel of my life narrative. Then the mind adjusts, punctuates the video reel and comes to its senses. The scene before me deserves recognition as something out of the ordinary. In this otherwise empty room I watch on as Clive James and a sensual, sequined ring-in called Kathy dance the tango before my eyes, the two of them swirling and smoothing ever so sultrily together in sync across a gleaming dance floor. As I tweak the sound desk knobs to enhance their latin soundtrack, my mind is forced to admit the true bizarreness of the situation before me. I am engineering sound. For Clive James. So he can dance the tango with a gorgeous exotic woman. I drink the moment up. A trickle of festival punters crawl silently into the theatre to witness the impromptu performance. He frowns deep in concentration, momentarily displaying glimmers of a Sydney-born lad that had not yet breathed the soot of London, gently manhandling about the room this intoxicating minx at least half his age. He divulges that Kathy is akin to driving a Porsche 9/11. Kathy informs Clive that he is an excellent driver. There is the return of a familiar, perhaps distant quiver of life for Clive down south.

I continue looking the part in my fat rimmed specs and pretend to know what I am doing. I am no sound man, and have much to learn in the ways of arts wankerdom.
I am the multitasking chameleon.
Oh the vitues of a highbrow existence.

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