The bus is empty with everything stashed in my cabins and put away “ship-shape and Bristol fashion” and she drives like a young colt now a couple of hundred books have been removed, along with clothes and tools and camping gear and Gawd knows what else.
Even living in a bus the urge to accumulate weaves its insidious black magic. I was astounded to discover that I had eleven pairs of trousers, forty-one T-shirts, nine towels, eight pairs of shoes, knives and forks sufficient for a banquet, two compasses, three large torches, and eighteen shirts! Add to that a black suit, a dinner suit, four jackets, a down jacket, a cashmere overcoat, umpteen socks scarves and pairs of gloves, and seven hats and you get the picture. Every item of clothing is black and I have enough clothes until the day I die. I can be the best dressed man at my own funeral !
With an empty bus, frisky and ready to tear up the road like a sports car, I headed for Byron Bay, ten minutes away down highways which have seen better days. The road upon which my place is located is an amalgam of repairs that have inexorably joined together so that the whole surface is corrugated with more lumps and bumps than the face of a fighting Saturday night drunk. It’s more a narrow rutted path than a road and in a bus one drives in such places without due care and attention at one’s peril.
Proceeding cautiously I was amazed at the manic velocity of the people who passed me on the road. The local plumber in his truck rattling all his pipes and fittings in the back as he fish tailed it past me in a cloud of dust and gravel; a postman on the smallest motor-cycle in the world; a grim looking woman with two kids who were (I assume) late for school as she drove like a formula one maniac and hurtled round a blind bend without a care in the world.
I let them pass me by as I am now letting the world pass me by, for I have no desire to overtake anything or anyone. I’m still working out whether I’m overtaking or catching up with myself ! As an editor once told me, and it’s now a sign that you see on the highways in Australia: “don’t die for a deadline”. Well I have no dead lines, only “live lines” and in the year ahead thousands of them will be cajoled into some kind of coherent order! That’s the speed I’ll be traveling.
In Byron I sent some post-cards and got on the internet and was astounded to discover that I had well wishes from some two hundred people on Face book. I like Face book. It keeps me in touch with people all over the world. As I sat in the café clicking ‘like’ for the umpteenth time my friend from London whom I have known since India days, called me from his holiday home in Norway and we spoke face to face on Skype. It was wonderful to see his smiling face and to know that life was treating him kind.
At the moment there is no internet where I live and that’s cool - an hour a day in a café is enough for me. The rest of my time I have books to read and my writings to attend to – more than enough to keep me occupied. Here where I live, solitude my sacred friend, accompanies me as I hunt contentedly in the forests of language and do my work. The austerities of the soul are blessed with breath taking views of the surrounding countryside and assuaged by the melody of the rains. I am freed from the simple prejudice of my eyes and ears and can feel afresh all that surrounds me. As Burroughs would mordantly observe of life on this planet, “the only applause is from hysterical Geiger counters”.
© Sam Cutler 2012