Tarago Diaries #22 – Mannum

Reflections prior to the Mannum Hunters and Collectors concert.

Author:  Mark Seymour.

Date: 24 January 2020.

Original URL: https://www.facebook.com/MarkSeymourOfficial/


Article Text

‘Twitching’ is the art of appearing relaxed when you aren’t. It happens on the long haul. Airports and other assorted holding rooms.

Something big’s coming but try not to think about it. Pretend you don’t care.

Hurry slowly.

It gets critical just before the gig.

In theatre, the actors ‘prepare’. They make strange noises. Like wounded animals. Climb things, roll on the floor. Hug each other. Or whatever. The action starts well before the bounce.

“It’s ok lovees. We’re already there. Chookas.”

In rock, they twitch.

Action cleverly disguised as something else which can be literally anything.

You name it. I’ve seen it.

You’re about to play really loud music in front of thousands of people whose expectations are off the dial.

Everyone starts behaving as though the gig isn’t actually going to happen. Makes perfect sense.

What we’re really here for is a bush picnic in a house boat on the banks of the Murray River..

Like any life skill, twitching comes naturally to some and not to others. Sort of like ‘light conversation.’ You’re either good at it or you’re not.

I find twitching difficult. So I hide.

Just a quiet moment with me. It’s hard to explain. Maybe it’s the scale of the thing. The big theatrical head line.. Toes on the line. The starter’s gun raised to the sky. Then the sudden urge to throw up. A bit anti-social you’d have to say. Who wants to see that? But hey, they’re just feelings really. Entirely mine. Not need to share. I can have them on my own.

But not sharing requires practice.

A plastic chair in the middle of a footy oval. Steel the chair. Walk.. Go. Find somewhere socially inconvenient. The promoter’s office. Under the stage. Hmm. There’s a thought.

But on a house boat? It’s a first. See, like all boats there’s limited movement. In any given direction. Surrounded by water and an oversupply of men. H&C is like a very friendly road gang. Let’s sing! What? Anything. Which isn’t a bad idea.. but I’m not quite ready.

Hide first.

I manage it though. Albeit briefly. There’s a bedroom. Ha! In fact there are several. This house boat is more than that. In fact it’s a rort. There are secret places all over. You could turn it into a casino and no one out board would even notice. Other bands have paid a visit. Even James Reyne gasped.

The action was so intense no one saw me leave.

Fifteen minutes before the bounce, reclining on a king-size bed, water lapping the deck. Mental rehearsal. First riff. D minor. Fifth fret. Hard. Fast. No. why are you thinking about that? Think of something else. Something benign. Fishing maybe. Cricket. What? I hate cricket.

Directly outside the bedroom door, the twitching’s well underway. Men sledging. Raucous laughter, the clash of glass. Things coming unstuck.

What is this?

There’s a window to the right. Glass from floor to ceiling. Another boat up moored up-river. A paddle steamer named ‘Marion.’

Seems to be leaning to one side. Punters are lined up on one side watching the action coming from the stage. About to fall off. Others are seated at tables trying to eat but with difficulty. They’ve paid for the privilege. To rock and eat. On a boat. Nice one.

And from somewhere beyond the gums, a high tenor, delicate ringing guitar, wandering softly on the air, a hymn to eternal sadness

“Meet me down by the jetty landing
Where the pontoons bump and spray
I see others reading, standing
As the Manly Ferry cuts its way to Circular Quay”