I was seventeen when Kaz Cooke first told me that a breast could look like a ferret's nose and be nonetheless a perfectly sensible breast. Given that ferrets' noses are exactly what my breasts looked like - whiskers and everything - I figured at this point that Kaz Cooke was my own personal oracle. I read Real Gorgeous front to back, pausing only to plait my armpit hair, and when she scored her column in Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald, I took to writing out her name with TimTam crumbs on our kitchen table.
But over time, as the pong of a person who refuses to use deodorant on the grounds that its aluminium content might cause Alzheimer's doth dissipate in a field of violets, so too did my devotion. Thing was, those columns in the Saturday Sydney Morning Herald weren't even dogs' breakfasts. Dogs' breakfasts, in my experience, consist of only one or two ingredients, or where there are several ingredients, they're reconstituted in roughly equisized and monochromatic pellets. Kaz's articles were more like my breakfasts - fifteen different constituents before you even boil the kettle. There she'd begin, with an amusing anecdote about abseiling in cheerleader gear, and before you knew it she'd be ending on a recipe for Baked Alaska. Or she'd kick off with something punchy about workplace harassment, then meander her way to the pressing matter of basset hound grooming. It was like being invited to the beach, only to find yourself eating dim sims in the bus shelter.
But that's life, really, isn't it? Your day doesn't tend to unfold according to neatly taxonomised thematic principles. You don't generally remember only things starting with the letter Q, and few of us arise from writing 800 words about the criminal justice system in Bolivia without having squandered a thought or two on the itchy spot just west of our left nostril. Well might you reply that the difference between what's going on in your mind as you're writing 800 words about the criminal justice system in Bolivia and what ends up on the page is a good solid edit, either of the as-you-go school or the retrospective, and to that I would say: yes. Indeed. Too right. Strewth. But I might also say, that just for a change, in the privacy of our own homes, maybe just on Sundays, a bit of an unstructured pootle down the avenues of thought can be a pleasantish thing. I said that my devotion to Kaz waned, but I didn't stop reading her column. She said funny things. In no apparent order, true, but still - funny, and sometimes wise.
Here is a picture of a spooky cactus: