… and his men get all the crooks they’re after.

by Gethin A. Lynes

I‘m a great one for working in cafés. I’d hardly be unique in that amongst my writerly brethren (and sistren, ok, Jones?). There’s just nothing to induce the vomitous spread of words across the page like the mass-consumption of caffeine – or the consumption of mass-caffeine? – and watching people intently without them having any clue they’re on display. It’s easier to be surreptitious about this in the pub, of course, what with the narrow field of vision provided by beer goggles, but it’s easier also to go from healthily indulging my voyeurism, to become a leering, slobbering specimen of some of the finer tendencies of the male species.

Note to self: Don’t sit in the pub on your Tod, and think that you’re being subtle.

Anyway, people-watching aside, the anonymity of public spaces is great for ignoring and being ignored, for hammering out a few thousand words. It’s an interesting contrast to working at home, where a single other person in the house… at the far end of the house… making no more noise than a fart in someone else’s spacesuit, will wreak absolute destruction on your ability to concentrate… to say nothing of a single other person in the house who cannot work out that it’s fucking impossible to pay attention to the television when they insist on standing by and talking incessantly, let alone a piece of fiction you are attempting to work on.

Thus I have, of late, in my confinement to the summery land of pizza, firecrackers and better, cheaper beer – it’s fucking tough, I know – taken to escaping the interjections and the constantly running diatribe of Fox “News” and working in a particular café. It is usually (as above) a perfect environment in which to get shit done. Unfortunately, that environment has suffered some degree of degradation over the last few days.

In fear of the massive increase in bigoted epithets that surely afflicted Fox on 4th of July, I made my escape nice and early. I’ve been in the US for the national birthday before… once… I knew what to expect… flags and tears and well wishing and all that…

– Insert something about the mother of all fuck ups here –

Jesus Christ! I’m all for patriotism, and even American patriotism – it tends to be a little overt and flag-wavy for my tastes, though fuck, at least it’s a little less exclusionary than Arsetralia Day’s flag fascination tends to be – I’m even all good with patriotic songs, though my preference would be for jumbucks and billabongs rather than Yankee Doodles, but this was like being run over by a fucking ticker tape parade.

I should have taken the hint, I should have just turned around, abandoned any hope of work, of people watching, of subtlety, and gone straight for the ample supply of distilled and fermented grains. I did not. I was stubborn enough to sit through well over two hours of rampant, high volume, musical Americana – and not that most excellent, deep south, twangy, bluesy Americana neither.

Subsequently, I’ve spent the last three days with the theme song for Roger Ramjet stuck in my fucking head.

And down at the café things haven’t really improved. There must have been something of an ebb, prior to the 4th, in the flood of teenagers with nothing better to do with their summer than hang out in the café and simulate Ramjet’s Proton Energy Pills with hefty doses of caffeine their underdeveloped little bodies neither need nor are able to cope with, because the tide-line is way above my ears, and doesn’t look to be going down any time soon. What ever happened to trying to find some dodgy old Noodles Romanoff to buy some booze for you, or raiding the older sibling’s stash of ganja and fucking off somewhere where the adults wouldn’t find you?

I begin to wonder if Australia’s various civil-liberty-suppression groups introduced all those anti-loitering/crowd-dispersal laws, not to fuck with perfectly legal and legitimate protest groups, or get rid of all those unsightly people wearing hoodies in our public spaces, but to allow for a little peace and quiet in places where little people like to hang out in groups of more than one.