A Strange Life

As a fellow given to prolonged bouts of melancholy – indeed it could be argued that my life has been one long stretch of lugubrious and sentimental navel gazing – it is occasionally helpful to remind myself of the advantages I have and have had. This is a simple process, easily understood, and it amounts to recognising that there are people in the world worse off than I am. True, of course – I have decent health, financial security, and political freedom. There is enough to eat. Government agents will not come to my house and arrest me for no good reason. No-one is going to be killed as a punishment, for anything. Some people on this planet are living right now as slaves, some are in refugee camps, some are the victims of the worst kinds of ill-luck – their house burned down or their son contracted a terminal illness or they never had any educational advantages. Of course I would like to own a house with some property, and a better job, paying decent money, would be vastly preferable to what I have, but it’s OK. I’m OK.

This train of thought isn’t always helpful. Even the thought that some people in the world don’t have time to be depressed or down in the dumps – they need to work hard every day so that their family can eat – doesn’t help sometimes. It brings perspective, a sense of proportion, though. And that can be useful.

While entertaining this sort of notion the other day, it occurred to me that I have done a lot of things which, considered in isolation, would be highly unusual in the average person, but considered as a group of experiences it’s remarkable that an individual could say these things all happened to him. Remarkable, that is, in an ordinary person, a person with no fame, no profile. If Michael Parkinson or Andrew Denton or David Letterman says they have met a Hollywood star that is not unusual, their jobs have entailed meeting famous people, and famous people often know famous people, so some contacts are made professionally or as the result of some professional engagement for men like these. But for a person with no profile to be able to say she met George Clooney, well, that’s pretty special.

Here’s a list of some of the things I have done. A piece of my writing has been published in a book – it was part of the UTS writers’ anthology from a few years ago, and while that’s all it was, just part of a collection of good students’ writing, and while I would like to be published with other work I have done, in other places, not many people can say they have been published. For about a year I had a weekly column in a free street magazine named Last – the publication has since passed away – and my page was completely left up to me, in terms of content: any subject was fine. The column was called ‘Space To Phil’ and it was fun to do. This didn’t pay anything but I feel like I learned quite a lot from the experience. I have acted in a film, as an extra. The film is Footy Legends, from a few years ago, and my name even appears in the credits. I was only in this as my friend who was making the thing wanted me to be in it. That was fascinating and tiring and I’m not keen to do it again. I have also featured in a consumer advice film, made for the website of Stadium Australia (then Telstra Stadium, now ANZ Stadium). Also internet-related was the video of John Stamos drunk or stoned or somehow inebriated on Kerri-Anne’s show from a few years ago. Footage of this on YouTube and elsewhere is all pilfered and re-used from my initial edit, which I posted and watched go through the roof. Eventually it got over 1.25 million hits and there were so many comments people started using the comments section as a message board, to advertise their own YouTube channel, to argue with each other, and in a couple of cases to plead with whoever would listen that they were living in a shitty Third World country and just wanted someone to agree to adopt them. I have met the Puppetry of the Penis guys and been close to Fatty and Sterlo and Sam Kekovich without quite meeting them. Incidentally, when I was thrown out of The Blue Eagle nightclub in Sisaket, a rural town in Thailand, about 10 years ago I was the first and only Caucasian to have done so. Not sure if this record still stands.

Is that all? I suspect it isn’t, but I can’t think of anything else now. I have been lucky and unlucky in probably no more pronounced way than most people, but some remarkable things have happened to me. I was a YouTube friend of Bob Downe briefly. The point, I suppose, is I never tried to engineer any of these things. They happened, sometimes as a surprise, sometimes as the unintentional consequence of doing something else. I let them happen. In many cases when they were happening I took little real notice or didn’t perceive them as being different or special or outside the experience of the average schmo. None of these have been engineered. But they are strange and memorable and I can’t quite believe that I did them or that they happened to me.

Published in: on August 10, 2010 at 8:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

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