One time I was at this cafe in Newtown and I saw the writer. The one with the lovely voice that can sound gentle and caring but can also sound like he’s taking the piss a bit. I like him for how he goes through the world, an ex-Catholic with a lot of rage and compassion. He makes affectionate fun of Australian men, and champions thinkers and people who hold their sorrows quietly and get on, just keep going. I think of him as a Dad figure but he’s not that much older than me really. I imagine him standing behind me with his hand on my shoulder, a gesture of affection and reassurance. I sit not so far from him. He’s reading the paper and finishing his coffee with a smoke that smells a lot like pot. OK so I’m not sure whose smoke that was, but it could have been his. The writer would get away with it because who would suspect him? He’s so respectable in his black t-shirt and jeans with his genteel manners and humble way with the cafe staff.

Yesterday I heard him being interviewed on the radio about his new play. He talked about caring for his father through eight years of decline into dementia. I wanted to thank him for this, to tell him that it affected me, that I felt his sadness and anger and I admired his forbearing and strength. I didn’t though. I watched him pay and thank his waitress, and walk up towards King Street with his Herald under one arm. If he had turned around I would have blown him a kiss, but he didn’t, so I missed my chance.

Cannylass

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