I have not lived in share accommodation since the squats of university days, but I must say that our time sharing a house with other flood affected individuals over the past couple of weeks bears little resemblance to my memories of those days in squalid Uni terrace houses.
There have been up to twelve of us staying with our amazingly wonderful and long suffering friends about 15 minutes out of town. We're a disparate lot, ranging in age from 22-92. There is the student, the farmer, the teacher, the grandmother, the brother, the doctor, the girlfriend, the nurse, the computer expert and more. Some of us are victims; others are volunteers. All of us have been deeply affected by the devastation that affected our peaceful country town only a couple of short weeks ago.
We don't spend much time together. Most of us are up and about pretty early each morning. The farmers are busy repairing flood damaged fences and treating fly-blown stock. They have ruined crops to strip and damaged machinery to repair. The townies are busy ripping up carpets and floor boards, washing water damaged clothes and disinfecting floors and walls. When we do see each other emotions run high. Some days are good; some are terrible. We tready-tready carefully with each other, and try hard not to jump down each other's throats.
When you have so many people living so closely together under these emotionally fraught conditions, personality traits and habits - good and bad - are heightened. One of us is exceptionally polite, and I have been taken to task a number of times for my sloppy etiquette and poor posture. Some of us are organised; others less so. Some of us leave the bathroom in a neat condition; others...um...don't.
One of us is a closet bathroom reader. Who can it be? Is it the teacher? The farmer? The student? What I do know is that our secret reader is a man.
In my opinion there is nothing wrong with reading in the loo. We have a bookshelf in the ensuite bathroom of our peaceful home, and I often dip into the latest Asian art magazine or literary journal. Our mystery reader reads man-lit. Now this is a genre that I know nothing about, but I must say I have been really enjoying my foray into books-that-blokes-read each time I visit the little room in our home away from home.
His first choice was Dicky Bird's autobiography. Dicky Bird, I now know is an incredibly well known and much loved cricket umpire. I don't like cricket, and I had never heard of Mr Bird, although he did look vaguely familiar in his cover pic. Anyhow, it turns out that he happens to be a strong Christian and he had a particular interesting life. He also happens to be an excellent writer. Thanks to my closet reader I know that. I enjoyed his first literature selection very much.
Barry Dickins', What the Dickins! A symposium of pieces from the low life, was his next choice. Barry is an Australian author, artist and playwright, although the only thing of his that I'd ever heard of before discovering this book in the loo, was his play, Remember Ronald Ryan, which won him the Victorian Premier's Literary Award back in 1995. What the Dickins is a real Aussie bloke's book. It is very amusing and very well written. Whodathunk man-lit could be so much fun?
There was a new offering in the bathroom this morning. Something about things white men hate. I can't remember the title, but it looks awful. Then again, so did Dicky Bird and What the Dickins, and they were actually quite good. I'll give it a go. My closet reader hasn't let me down yet.
We're hoping that we'll shortly be able to move back into our own home, and I can't say I'll be too sad about that. Being with friends has been a great blessing, but there's something special about your own space, isn't there? Even if it is nothing like the peaceful home we knew and loved.
I'll looking forward to sleeping in my own room and listening to my own music. I'm looking forward to having Jemimah back where she belongs. I'm looking forward to cooking my own meals and getting back into some serious crochet. I'm looking forward to having broadband Internet and being able to read my email and keep up with your lives through your blogs. I'm looking forward to having my own books back.
I'll miss my (water) closet reader though. I've enjoyed his book choices and my foray into man-lit. It's been fun. I can't say that I'm a convert, but my introduction into the world of books-that-blokes-read has been quite an eye-opening experience. Thanks, Secret Reader. These terrible days have been the nicer for knowing you.