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Small man this fellow, small-faced and with an oddly pigmented skin

Fit, but underfed. Wiry fella.

Competent, but not pretty to watch in the water.

The other day at South Avalon, that day when the southwester was shining up those loopy lefts that poked their glassy ends all the way into the pool, that day when the local lads were burying everybody else in their spray, regardless of rights,

– when the mob was tight – and feisty, as usual –

this small man emerged from the shorebreak and jogged up he beach towards me, he’s in a bit of a hurry.

I’m just watching the surf from the apron of the surf-club.

Dead-set respectable is me, no threat. Peace on earth.

We don’t know each other and I’m happy with that.

So he stops at the life-buoy stand that is set in front of the club and he leans his board up against it.

Now he’s in no hurry, very relaxed.

He flicks a glance at me and after a little while starts to root around in the sand with his right foot. Bloke is still wet, not looking at what he’s doing, being cool.

Takes a minute or two here doing this quiet little thing. He’s watching the waves and there goes his his foot, digging away like a bandicoot after a grub.

Then he moves over to the other side of the stand and roots around there with his other foot, flicks the odd glance my way a couple of times.

Takes a minute or two here doing this other quiet little thing. I’m looking for the bloke in the white coat by now.

Then he stops his routine, and stops dead. If you could paint him it would be a Still Life.

He stays put for a little while, then he limps off towards the club like he’s just been shot through the foot.

Limps? He wasn’t limping when he arrived up here,  ^ that was a jog.

Then when he gets to the concrete slab up there I see him bend down and pick up the set of keys that he has gripped with his toes,

Then he opens the club’s First-Aid door,

– and he slips into the building.


The header image is a painting by Roman Opalka (1931 – 2011) He was a conceptual artist who, beginning with the number 1 in 1965, methodically painted consecutive numbers on canvas in a march to infinity. (SMH 16 Aug 2011)

Last year three of his paintings sold for $1.3 mill (all three)

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Love the way you tell a story..It’s really about nothing.BUT,it makes for great reading..Are you sure we did not go to the same school..
    Scott Dillon.

    August 16, 2011
    • We both went to the south bondi school of hard knocks Scott, you were about 20 years in front of me though – we didn’t know what we liked doing more back then – watching you paddling into big sets or watching Cochran ripping off the bikini bottoms of any babe silly enough to go tandem with him .. asamatteroffact there’s a story in there somewhere.

      August 16, 2011
  2. …about nothing, but also about something, or anything, or everything. That’s why I like so much the way you write.

    August 16, 2011
    • words are like breath bh, you know that, like I do ..

      August 16, 2011
  3. I see I didn’t start drinking soon enough, you Peter Bowes are one hell of an Australian and a true patriot who is always doing good work with the pen and spreading the word in whatever bar/hotel/club/gay mixer you might happen to be at. I love you man. Well maybe I have started drinking soon enough. Okay, I haven’t stopped. I have been up all night. I am now posting drunken comments at 9am human time in America. Okeedokee. Bye bye.

    August 17, 2011
    • love you too rotto – like a brother – a yank brother, which is a new experience to me, my real brother is of course an aussie but he looks like a greek – so I should be ok – and good luck with the h’over, should be a rinky one.

      August 17, 2011
  4. way to write about nothing Pete

    August 17, 2011
  5. Davo's Liver #

    Hiding and retrieving your keys (or whatever is gonna get you through the rest of the morning) is not about nothing, it’s a time honored tradition to out fox the arseholes waiting in the shade to lighten up your load.

    August 17, 2011

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