Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Close Encounter With Bon Scott

Just up the road from two of the schools I attended as a kid, Burwood Heights Primary and High Schools respectively, were the Nunawading studios of Channel 10. Sir Reginald Ansett's helicopter used to buzz our playground regularly en route to his private landing pad. The dreadful soapie "Neighbours" used to be filmed there. Ramsay Street was somewhere in nearby Vermont South. Of course, prior to 1980 Channel 10 was known as Channel 0, and they used to frequently visit my Primary school to film segments for such shows as "Architecture Today", in which my 10 year old self could be seen being interviewed, babbling incoherently  about building domed cities under the sea. Channel 0 also filmed a lame station promo in our Grade 6 classroom, where the teacher is writing on the blackboard and accidentally mis-spells Melbourne with two O's. At which point, little Johnny pumps up his hand and says, "Sir, sir. There's only one O in Melbourne".
Great gag huh?
Many shows were taped live before a studio audience at Channel 0, and the security surrounding the ticketing for these events was pretty lax. Once a show had been taped, the producers would just dump hundreds of used tickets in gallon drums out the back of the building. So after school, my mates would forage them out of the bins, hand them out in class the next day, and we'd simply change the dates (which were just stamped on with a purple ink stamp) using our textas. Then we'd surreptitiously front up to the next taping of whatever show we'd scored.
Okay, so the appeal of  Fred Bear (Humphrey B. Bear's equally retarded cousin) was limited even to an eleven year old. Except for the fact that every kid who attended the taping scored a free show bag full of chocolate bars, chips, comics, lollies, and other goodies.
Anyway, this underhanded method of sneaking into live tapings was still going on a few years later when we all graduated to the nearby High School. So it was that, as a 14 year old in 1975, I found myself in the studio audience for the taping of a short-lived music show called "Rock'n'Roll Circus", where a relatively new band called AC/DC, fronted by Bon Scott, were set to play. I can't remember which song it was they performed, or more likely mimed. Though I'm guessing it must have been one of their earlier hits like their cover of Big Joe Williams' "Baby Please Don't Go", or maybe 'High Voltage Rock and Roll". But what I do remember is that Angus Young was already doing his schoolboy shtick, and that Bon Scott came out shirtless, but with a black leather vest and tight black leather pants, which the Sharpie girls that surrounded the stage tried their damndest to pull down.
These girls were not your shrinking violet little Roller Stroller-wearing knicker wetters that you might find collapsing in a blubbering heap in the presence of their heroes at a Bay City Rollers gig. They were full-on demented rock chicks who wanted a piece of Bon by whatever means necessary. I couldn't help thinking to myself as I watched him calmly negotiate his way through the song and their clothes-tearing fervour, "now there's a good job." 

Monday, September 26, 2011


T This one was deleted because it wandered too far from the narrative. But it would have appeared in Chapter 36, Page 245:
"The only thing that took me out of my thoughts was our weekly stoned pool competitions at the Green Cloth in Swan Street Richmond. After we'd finished playing  and the place was closing up for the night, the three of us would often smoke dope with the owner, a well-known comedic radio horse-racing identity, whose grassy nomenclature might not necessarily have been a reference to track conditions.
On one particular night though, there were a couple of changes to our routine. Firstly, Ritzy pulled a late shift at work and was unable to join us. Secondly, the Green Cloth was temporarily closed for renovations, so Shane and I decided to head to the grimy ambience of Players on Camberwell Junction instead.
Usually we would fire up a couple of joints before driving down to the pool hall. But this time, Shane insisted on us having freshly buzzing heads as we clambered up the creaky staircase to the foyer, to be greeted by the creepy mural of Eddie Charlton and Ray Reardon staring down on us judgementally.
So it was on that cold, wet and wintry night, that we found ourselves passing a joint around in the darkened Camberwell carpark, opposite the deserted lumberyard, as Shane's car filled up with thick plumes of acrid, pungent smoke. Big mistake. For just at that moment, a pair of blinding headlights flooded our car, we heard a short, sharp siren, and immediately my eyes darted to the rear view mirror, where I saw the tell-tale flashing of a blue light. "Oh No", I groaned. Futilely I stamped out the joint butt, and slipped it under the floor mat. Equally futilely, Shane rolled down his window, and tried to waft the thick blanket of fog away with several frantic sweeps of his arm. The two cops were stony-faced and emotionless as they asked us, rather rhetorically I thought, what we were doing. Then they spun us round, and subjected us to the humiliating ordeal of a frisk.
Once they were satisfied that we weren't carrying any concealed weapons, they stopped patting us down. But the one frisking me, perhaps because I was wearing a leather biker's jacket, gave me a cursory squeeze on the bum. I don't know if he was a bender and thought I was similarly inclined, or if he was trying to provoke me into taking a swing at him. In those days of "Frankie Goes To Hollywood", people made a lot of assumptions about someone wearing a leather jacket. Either way, there was no way I was going to react. If I'd been the type to resort to violence, I would have decked Shane years ago.
All the other cop found on Shane was the little gram bag of kiff, which he promptly upended into the gutter, and let the  steady rain wash it away.
'Look boys, we don't care if you have a smoke', he said in a way that suggested he might even indulge himself when he was off duty. "But next time, just do it in the privacy of your own home okay"? He said, as I glowered bullets at Shane, because that's what I'd tried  without any luck to convince him to do all along. And with that, they climbed into their divvy van and rolled slowly out of the carpark, leaving us standing bedraggled in the rain.    

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Generation X

One thing that's a key element to "Catch a Falling Star", is the fact that Nick and his friends are all members of  that lost and self-obsessed bunch known collectively as Generation X. Although there are no hard and fast rules as to exactly when one generation ends and another begins, the United States Census Bureau considers that the post-war Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. Nicky Nova disputes this vigorously. Firstly, as he sees it, any soldier still returning from the war in 1961, when Nicky came into the world,would have to have crawled home from the Western Front on his hands and knees. Secondly, Nicky would be disgusted to be associated whatsoever with any generation which believed that they could, like, make the world a groovier place by wearing flowers in their hair. Nicky feels more of a kinship with Generation X, a term that was first coined in a study of British youth by Jane Deverson, who revealed a generation of teenagers who, "sleep together before they are married, were not taught to believe in God, dislike the Queen, and don't respect parents." Throw in a deep cynicism towards all politicians whether they be left or right, and you have Nicky Nova in a nutshell. As the Psychedelic Furs sang in NO TEARS,
"Don't believe in anything."   

Thursday, August 11, 2011

One Tree Hill

Chapter One - Page10
...Situated on the far side of Springvale Road (in Donvale), One Tree Hill's name was something of a misnomer. It was actually a whole clump of trees huddled together on a lone hill, as if in defiance of the encroaching wave of development below. A stark vista, it almost looked as if it had been pinned against the sky. There, Shane, Ritzy and I would hang out together on wintry days, when the wind ran silent fingers through the long grass, and talk about our lives and our dreams. "I want to be a famous rock'n'roll star one day", I said. "You can keep the fame", Shane replied. "Just give me the money".

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Friday On My Mind

There's nothing more thrilling for a teenager than when their pop idols manage to sneak a coded message to them past parents, teachers, radio programmers and other assorted authority figures and arbiters of good taste. I remember back in second form (or year 8), one teacher would let us play a bit of rock music in class as a reward for being well behaved. A song that was chosen one particular day was the Skyhooks track, "Smut", an ode to the joys of having one off the wrist in the darkness of a movie theatre, while using a Twisties bag as a tissue.
So there we all were, sitting around at our desks sniggering like -er- well adolescents, when the dimwitted teacher finally started to twig that something was up. "What's this song called"? He asked nobody in particular. "Surfie Joe", lied Mark King quick as a flash, amidst more stifled chuckles from his classmates.
Another prime example was David Bowie's cover of the Easybeats classic "Friday On My Mind", which used to get a lot of airplay on 3XY  when it was released in 1973. Back then, dropping the F-Bomb on the airwaves was a big no-no, and perhaps if the producers had listened to the backing vocals a little more closely after the line, "Gonna'have fun in the city", they'd have heard David singing, "Feel like Fucking you".
For the first two verses the line is buried deep in the mix, audible only to the discerning ear. But at the end of the song the profanity is pushed right to the forefront where it's heard as clear as day. It's amazing how many people missed that one. I don't know what was more thrilling to my twelve year old ears: Getting away with this bit of naughtiness, or the fact that my idol was covering an Aussie classic by Vanda and Young, and was actually aware that there was life stirring down at this end of the world. 

Monday, July 18, 2011


The blue, late Autumn moon watched me with its' impassive, unblinking eye as I shuffled my way down the dusty road, and out past the straggly orchards. Arriving at the Era School, I scrambled over the wooden gate, and made my way past the slumbering bus, towards the main buildings.
I had come to the outskirts of Donvale because my go-between Ritzy had told me that Shane, who'd been avoiding me like the plague since he'd  bravely left Jemma to break the news to me of their romance, finally wanted to talk.
Shane was already sitting on the railings of the science block, staring out into the shadowy bushland, as I clambered up onto the decking. "Hello Nick", he said sheepishly. "Listen, I just wanted to say that I'm really sorry about what happened".
"Never mind sorry. It's not too late to stop this", I insisted. "I just want her back".
"Even if I could stop it, she doesn't want you back Nick".
This much I knew. I had tried futilely to reason with Jemma, even confronting her backstage in her dressing room after her performance in an amateur production of "The Rose".
"You know, I tried to help you , and this is how you repay me"? I shouted, stepping right up into Shane's face."You're a fucking swine for doing what you did". Angered, Shane grabbed me forcefully by the scruff of the collar. As I swiped his fist away, breaking his grip, I felt the small silver chain around my neck snap. I reached out and managed to catch it before it flew over the balcony. The chain, which comprised of two little silver tragic/comic masks representing the theatre since ancient Greek times, had been a Christmas gift from Jemma. But when I looked down at the snapped chain in the palm of my hand, I noticed that the happy mask was gone.
"Now look what you did", I screamed at Shane as I vaulted down the stairs to the ground below. The two of us sifted through the grass and leaves for ages beneath the pale moonlight. But we never found that happy mask.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Stop It Or You'll go Blind!

Pope John Paul II was set to visit Australia in 1986. To commemorate the event "Writers Press", a small publishing house in Diamond Creek put out a cheeky, irreverant book of cartoons titled, "101 USES FOR POPES" by 101 Australian & New Zealand cartoonists, and I was asked to contribute. My cartoon depicted a Challenger astronaut using the pontiff as a stepladder as he bowed down to kiss the surface of the moon. The book was going to be launched in Sydney by none other than that great papal impersonator himself Max Gillies, man of a thousand faces. I was really excited about going up to Sydney, and Ritzy, who had wrangled a week off work was coming with me. But first we were going to spend a few days in Queensland visiting his rellies, as well as various theme parks along the way. Naturally this necessitated scoring a couple of grams of head. It was imperative that we experience the sensation of riding the double loop de loop roller coaster at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast stoned out of our brains. Once in Queensland we stayed at Ritzy's Grampa's house, who like us, was off being a gadabout somewhere. I have to say that cleanliness wasn't high on the old fella's agenda though, because after spending the first night sleeping on his cot I woke up itchy'n'scratchy, and covered from head to toe in flea bites. From that night onwards I slept on a banana lounge, a single thin sheet providing sufficient coverage in the clammy Queensland climate. 
On the second night the high humidity finally got the better of Ritzy, who with his asthma suddenly skyrocketing from mild to chronic, had been struggling for breath the entire trip. It was frightening watching him spluttering, wheezing, and frantically drawing futilely on his ventolin pump with no relief. I remembered how a girl I'd gone to school with had died from an extreme asthma attack. Finally we had to call an ambulance, and he was rushed off to hospital for emergency treatment. He was okay by the next day though, and after doing the rounds of various uncles and aunts we were glad to finally say our goodbyes and fly down to the more temperate climes of Sydney. We did all the tourist-y stuff in the harbour city, checking out the opera house, centrepoint tower,and riding the ferries and stuff. We'd organised it so that the book launch was on the last day of our trip, then we'd fly home. But not everything went according to plan. On our last day in town we ran out of money, and we ran out of drugs. At my insistence we took my ghetto blaster to a pawn shop in King's Cross and managed to trade it for twenty dollars. It was a monster sound system with detachable sub-woofer speakers that I'd bought at JB Hi-Fi in 1983 when they'd opened their first store out of the back of a garage in Keilor. I planned to redeem it later. I suddenly felt like a real Rock'n'Roll outlaw, like I was (kind of) living that line in Dee Dee Ramone and Johnny Thunders' ode to heroin addiction "Chinese Rocks" about all my best things being in hock. In a way I was right. Without knowing it, like the characters in the song, I had taken the first step towards being a slave to my drug habit. 
Our dealer radar was obviously finely tuned by then, because the first sleazy-looking character we approached in the Cross hooked us up with a gram of hash, with enough dosh left over for the eventual munchie attack that would inevitably follow. By the time the two of us lobbed at the book launch we were both flying approximately eight miles high, at nine to the Universe. Being full of bravado I sashayed straight up to "His Holiness" with book and pen in hand, gushing about what a big fan of "The Gillies Report" I was. Gillies, in costume and in character, imperiously proffered a pudgy hand adorned with what could have been a chunky Captain Marvel signet decoder ring, and said, "Kiss my ring" in a Polish accent. The double entendre sailed straight over my saluting platform in my stoned state, and I continued to nervously hold out my book and pen until he took it, scribbled "Stop it,or you'll go blind", signed his name, and returned it to my grasp. The dope paranoia kicked in. Had he simply scrawled his "Gillies Report" catchphrase? Or had he twigged the nature of my dishevelled state and made some kind of pointed comment? For the next hour or so I flitted around the room like a wild-eyed fanboy, collecting autographs from the more famous of the assembled cartoonists, like WEG,Jeff Hook and Mark Knight. We flew home the next day. I never did redeem my ghetto blaster. I figured it would have cost me far more than it was worth to fly all the way up from Melbourne to re-claim it. Things were beginning to spiral out of control. I had a little mobile suspended on a string, that dangled from my bedroom ceiling, swinging lazily in the limpid breeze that wafted occasionally through my window. It was a frowning cartoon image of the Pope by Leigh Hobbs that had adorned the cover of the book. Sometimes in the dead of a fitful night, when the moonlight flashed across its' slowly twirling arc illuminating the Pope's stern features, I found it curiously comforting in my increasingly frazzled state. It was as if a guardian Angel was somehow hovering above me, glowing re-assuringly through the dark times that were slowly descending.              

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Catch a Falling Star is available online at:


For those living in Melbourne, it's also available in the following stores:

Basement Discs
24 Block Place
Melbourne Vic 3000

Polyester Books
330 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy Vic 3065

Metropolis Book Shop
Level 3, Curtin House
252 Swanston Street
Melbourne Vic 3000

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Honey, I Forgot To Duck

My train pulled into Blackburn Station at about 4:30pm. Every evening at around the same time, Shane, Dad and I converged on this spot from our daily routines, and Dad would drive us home: Me from my studies at Melbourne State College, Shane from screwing together tricycles in the stockroom at Toyworld, Camberwell and Dad from on the road, arriving from whichever factory he was fixing machinery at on that particular day.
I sat on the platform and watched Shane's train arrive. He suddenly appeared through the disembarking throng as the doors hissed open, looking as uncomfortable as ever in slacks with an ironed crease, and a pressed white shirt as he made his way towards me.
'Hello, how was your day?' I screeched in a high-pitched feminine trill, ignoring the disapproving looks of the shuffling commuters as I slipped into our "Mavis and Ethel" routine.
'Good, good how was your day?' Shane screeched back, joining in our well-worn game.
'Oh, great, great', I replied in my regular voice.'I had this child psychology class today, the lecturer was droning on and on about Noam Chomski's "Acquisition of Language" theory or something, it was dead boring, and my mind started to wander'.
'So what happened?'
'That Eno song "The True Wheel" started going round in my head, and I tuned back into the lecture just in time to hear the Professor ask what I should do to get the kids' attention if the class was being unruly. And without thinking, I said I'd jump up on the desk and shout, "oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-here we go." (A line from the song.)
'That would've gone down well', laughed Shane.
'You're not kidding', I replied.'The guy looked at me like I'd taken a piss on the Bible'.
'Yeah, well do you remember me telling you the other day how my idiot manager was organising a promotional tie-in for the store with the Camberwell Football Club?' Shane asked rhetorically, as we headed for the underpass.
'Hey kids,come and follow the players into the store for autographs, prizes and giveaways', he chortled, suddenly becoming animated as he mocked the details on the poster in a "Golly-Gee" voice.
 'Well, it was today'.
'So, how did it go'? I asked.
'It was bloody hilarious. The manager sticks the players in a trailer on the back of a Ute, tows them down Riversdale Road, and drives them into the store, and not one single kid follows them in. So they're all standing around for half an hour, pens in hand, looking at each other, really embarrassed, it was excruciating. Then they all just leave'.
'God, what did he expect'? I laughed.'They're just a second division VFA side. It's not like they're Collingwood or anything'.
'I know. My manager is so clueless', said Shane.
As we emerged from the tunnel, blinking into the daylight I saw Dad's car parked up ahead. He had the radio turned up really loud to compensate for his failing hearing, that had been ruined by the constant ear-shredding grinding of the metallic cutting lathes he worked around all day long. A big news story was breaking as we slid into the car and said hello.
'U.S. President Ronald Reagan has been shot', the newsreader was saying.'The President has been rushed to hospital in a critical condition after being shot by a lone gunman who sprayed several bullets into the Presidential entourage'.
We sat in stunned silence as we drove home to Donvale. America seemed to be going slowly insane at the moment, I thought. I was still just getting over the senseless slaying of John Lennon just a few monthe ago, and now another nut with a gun had gone on a shooting spree.           

Sunday, March 6, 2011

John Morrow's Pick Of The Week

This is a review of "Catch a Falling Star" in John Morrow's "Pick Of The Week".

From an early age, shy Nicholas Walpole wanted to be a rock star. Although he couldn't play the guitar like the now deceased Jimi Hendrix, at the age of 12 he became entranced by David Bowie.
David Bowie's thin figure, draped in shiny jumpsuits, with bizarre make-up entranced the world, and no-one became more entranced than young Nicholas. David Bowie became Nicholas's fantasy figure and even started a new trend in hairstyles at Nicholas's school - rat tails and feathery cuts were mandatory for those kids who were cool.
Like Bowie and Marc Bolan, Nicholas craved stardom. Forget about those who hated Bowie's style and called his music and appearance gimmicky, to Nicholas, he Bolan and others of that ilk were heroes.
Nicholas lived in Donvale, a satellite suburb during the late 70s and 80s. It was here that he first met Shane and Phillip. Nicholas's parents were ten pound Poms who had migrated to Oz, while Shane's parents were from New Zealand. Shane was 15, two years younger than Nicholas. His parents were whiners, often referring to NZ as the only place to be, but Shane was okay.
Phillip's parents were from PNG and his father had re-settled in Australia to get the family away from the political turmoil and unrest his country was going through. Phillip, known as Ritzy, was 13 years old and the youngest of the three mates. In those days, the three boys were into The Police, Cheap Trick and Led Zeppelin.
As the years moved on, life changed for Nicholas when he met the beautiful and eccentric Jemma, who was determined to become an actress, even though she had missed out on a place at NIDA.
By this time, Shane was into film-making, and Nicholas was contemplating dropping out of Uni where he was studying a Bachelor of Education. It was on one of their nightly explorations that they came upon the idea of filming a rock video, with Nicholas miming songs, Ritzy doing something strange with make-believe model guns, Jemma spread-eagled over her VW and Shane playing imaginary air guitar.
When Jemma showed Shane's video to "someone important", Shane decided to chuck his job at Toyworld and pursue his big dream.
To find out if Nicholas really did become a rock star, if Shane did become a highly regarded film director, if Jemma did become a world class actress and if Ritzy went on to bigger and better things, you will just have to read the book.
By the way, the book is a great read - smooth, flowing and entertaining. With Peter Haywood's background and talent, it's no wonder this is a novel that is well worth a read.

"Rock stars, fame and fortune - this is the story of some Aussie kids who wanted to live the dream."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bonzo Dog Dadaists

Long before Major Tom switched off his radio circuit to a blue planet earth, and drifted blissfully off into the stratosphere, a young Nicky Nova was fascinated by another rock'n'roll astronaut: the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band's "Urban Spaceman". The Bonzo's were a wacky art-rock ensemble comprising Neil Innes and the late Vivian Stanshall, and in many ways were the missing link between the Beatles and Monty Python.
They appeared in the Magical Mystery Tour film, and their biggest hit, 1968's "I'm the Urban Spaceman", was anonymously produced by future "Space Oddity" producer Gus Dudgeon, and Paul McCartney, under the collective pseudonym of "Apollo. C. Vermouth".
Neil Innes later scored and appeared as the Lennon-esque "Ron Nasty" in Eric Idle's Beatles spoof "The Rutles - All You Need Is Cash". The film was bankrolled by George Harrison , who also had a cameo role as a roving reporter, interviewing Michael Palin as a steady stream of looters pilfer the Rutles "Grapefruit - Corps." building. Innes also performed an acoustic version of "Urban Spaceman" in Monty Python's "Live at the Hollywood Bowl".
The song's lyric deals humourously with issues of surface vs substance, with lines like, "I'm a glossy magazine, an advert in the tube", and ends with the existential twist, "I don't exist". You can't help but wonder if Bowie was taking notes....

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wasted Youth

This is a song written by Nicky Nova, called "Wasted Youth". Any similarities between it and
"Dum Dum Boys" by Iggy Pop is purely coincidental (yeah, right)..

Well I used to hang around with the wasted youth,
Wasting all our lives away.
We'd hang out every night above the old bottle shop,
And sleep in half of the day.
Well hey there, you spoilt-ass middle class boys,
Your mummies put you through private school.
But all you do is sit around smoking hash all day,
And enforce the ten commandments of cool.

And I sing wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa wasted youth,
My-oh-my-oh ramma-lamma hey
wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa wasted youth,
All of the livelong day.

The years roll by in the blink of an eye,
And I think about those little wasted boys.
The wheels on the vice are turning too tight,
And I need to hear some more of their noise.
But wasted Ed's a trolley jockey at the local Supa-Mart,
Wasted Joe works on a construction site,
And they still look down their noses like they split the atom,
Never call me on a Saturday night.

And I sing wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa wasted youth'
My-oh-my-oh ramma-lamma hey
wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa wasted youth,
All of the livelong day.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Deleted Excerpt Four

This one is from Chapter 42, page 284:

"Have you seen Shane lately"? asked Jemma, her eyes lighting up expectantly.
"No. But I have been seeing a fair bit of his mum since I moved back home. Did you know that she and Shane's dad have split up"?
"No, I didn't hear about that", Jemma replied, sounding genuinely surprised. "That's a shame. I really liked them".
"I like her...he's a PIG", I snapped. "What happened was, he was screwing around with some student at the Uni where he lectures, and Shane's mum got wind of it and kicked him out of the house. Now she's living there in that big place all alone".
I could see that Jemma was taking this all in with great interest, so I continued.
"I've been writing a screenplay, and I go down there every day and read her updates that I've written. It's about a high-profile footy player who gets discovered by a big, cigar-chomping Hollywood producer stroke impresario,who takes him to L.A. to be a movie star, and a rock'n'roll singer", I gushed rapidly, winding myself up so that the words were spilling off my tongue almost too fast for me to keep up with them, as they always do when I get excited.
"Whoa, steady on there Nick old kid", Jemma said, swaying backwards out of line of the verbal barrage, and holding up her arm like a boom gate.
"What's the matter? Don't you like my idea"?? I asked, a little hurt.
"It's not that. Geez, why do you take everything so personally"? She replied.
"It's just that I'm sure Pam has a lot on her plate right now, what with the breakup and everything. And she probably doesn't appreciate you wandering down there and regailing her with the Mark Jackson story on a daily basis".

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Woo-Hoo Herald-Sun Review

This is a review of "Catch a Falling Star" written by Cheryl Critchley that appeared in the Weekend liftout of the Herald-Sun on Saturday January 22, 2011:

...Many 40-somethings will see themselves in this gritty tale about 1980s life in Melbourne's inner suburbs.
Nick Walpole is a largely rudderless young muso who grew up in the suburbs and dreams of rock stardom.
But much of his young adulthood is spent chasing broken dreams in rundown share houses with several failed relationships and even less successful attempts to get his rock band off the ground.
The many pop culture references will have readers reminiscing, but also squirming if they made similar mistakes in their 20s. Notable for its absence of technology,"Catch a Falling Star" also shows just how much Melbourne's youth culture has changed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Deleted Excerpt - 3

This lengthy excerpt was deleted as it would have deviated too far from the narrative flow But had it appeared it would have been in Chapter 36, page 244:

..Although the signs were very subtle, I had begun to notice that the others were beginning to very tellingly pull away from my influence and assert their own tastes (for want of a better word). The first clue was the sudden proliferation of dull, uninspired and uninspiring bogan musical clods who started dominating our lounge room stereo.
Everyone from that bore from the USA, Broooooce Springsteen, to Bryan Adams with his hideous anthems "Run To You" and "Summer Of '69", and even Mark "Jacko" Jackson with his stupid "Indi-bloody-vidual" novelty hit. Then there was that ridiculous corporate punk Billy Idol, whose lip-curling sneer, and fist-pumping gestures were being aped ad-infinitum by Ritzy, despite my admonishments that a true punk like Johnny Rotten wouldn't even deign to spit in his eye.
Even more irritatingly revelatory though, was the absolute relish with which Ritzy would sing the line about the injustice of "the little faggot with the earring and the makeup" having his own jet airplane in "Money For Nothing (and Chicks For Free)" by the appropriately named "dire straights". The contempt for Bowie and his legion of '80's clones in that dreadful song was palpable.
An album that I did like to play a lot, which also came out that year was "Aural Sculpture" by The Stranglers. Its' big hit single "Skin Deep" contained a lyric that was chillingly prescient to the shifting of the power base that the sharehouse at Longmore Street had undergone.
"Many people tell you that they're your friends", warned Hugh Cornwall, but I wasn't listening."Believe them, heed them, but watch round the river bend. Make sure that you're receiving the signals they send".
There was no misreading the signals my friends sent me the night that a case of the screaming munchies drove the three of us to the local 7-11 for some junk food though. As we piled out of the car and through the front door, Mister "Indi-bloody-vidual" himself, Mark "Jacko" Jackson was exiting the store. Immediately, Ritzy and Shane's eyes lit up.
"Hi-yer Jacko", they both cooed in unison, completely starstruck like a couple of giddy schoolgirls.
"G'day boys", Jacko replied. Then, noting their bloodshot eyes, he added, "Got a case of the munchies have yer"? With a knowing grin. But his grin quickly turned into a disapproving frown when he looked me up and down as I lagged in behind the others.This was because I was wearing smudged eyeliner, and chipped black fingernail polish.
"Geezus", spat Ritzy after his hero had departed."Couldn't you have dived your hands into your pockets, and put your head down"?
"What do you care what Jacko thinks"? I spluttered. "The guy thinks blowing kisses to his opponent, and putting lit cigarettes in club officials pockets at parties is the height of humour. He's a moron".
"Yeah, well moron or not, it's embarrassing to be seen out with you all dolled up like that", added Shane, weighing into the debate.
The three of us argued about it all the way back home.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Federation Square

This Saturday - JANUARY 15th - I'll be at Federation Square signing and selling copies of
"Catch a Falling Star".
And again on Australia Day, Wednesday - JANUARY 26th - Please feel free to come along and say hello.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Deleted Excerpt Two

This latest deleted excerpt occurs when Nick first meets Jemma at a party , and would have appeared in Chapter 2 on page 17:

'Jemma is going to be a famous actress', Tom said, grinning a little patronisingly.
'Is that right'? I replied, suitably impressed.
'Well, I've starred in a lot of local amateur theatre', she said.
'Are you working on anything at the moment'? I asked.
'Yesss Dohlink, I'm starring as vulgar Olga from the Volga', she replied, dropping her voice down to a husky baritone, and slipping seamlessly into an Eastern European accent.
'Who's that'? I asked.
Meeting my slightly bemused expression with her smouldering gaze, she replied,
'Olga is a man-eating femme fatale who is Superman's nemesis in "Man of Steel". It's a comedy version of Superman, a children's pantomime'.
'Oh,so you like performing in pants'? I said cheekily.
'Or out of them', she fired back immediately, without even the slightest trace of embarrassment.
'Vulgar Olga sounds pretty funny', I complimented her, becoming more and more intrigued by the allure of this confident woman.
'Well, amateur theatre's fine, but one day I'm hoping to break into television and film'. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

RAGE - By Julie Mac

There's a bit in my book where one of the characters lifts his sister's diary, hoping to treat his mates to a treasure trove of salacious stories, but is disappointed to only find a few study details.
There would have been no such disappointment if his sister's tome had been more like Julie Mac's
"Rage - A Sharpie's Journal Melbourne 1974 to 1980".
Rage - which is based on Julie's own teenage diary, is a hilarious, rough-as-guts account of pashing, punching on, rooting, scrag-fighting, fingering,shit-stirring, riding in "shaggin'wagons" and hanging out at Iceland, BoxHill Bowl, Croydon Drive-In, 21 Flavours and Macca's, all set to a soundtrack of Countdown, Rose Tattoo, The Angels, La Femme, Akker-Dakker, Hush and Skyhooks. Definitely no Sherbet though - ugh!
It's as '70's as wobbling about in platform shoes and shouting,"Hey Charger".
At the back of the book there are remembrances of their own Sharpie youth or run-ins from the likes of Angry Anderson, Les Twentyman, Keith Lamb and - er - Michelle's mum.
Of course I too remember the Sharpie's from my own high school daze.
 There was a time from about '74 to '76 when it seemed like everybody was wearing those two-tone skintight cardies, and chunks of steel-belted radials with strips of woven suede top shoes.
People say that Sharpies were violent, but although I was bullied mercilessly in school because of my shy disposition, I never had a problem with the Sharps. It was your longhairs and garden variety thugs who made my teen years a misery. Besides, the toughest Sharpie in my form, Bruce, who everyone just called "Bowie", had a haircut just like Ziggy Stardust. So that made him pretty cool in my books.

....And speaking of Ziggy Stardust - Happy Birthday to David Bowie, who turns 64 today!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Catch a Falling Star

Catch a Falling Star

Here's an abridged version of Clare-Allan Kamil's original assesment of "Catch a Falling Star" for Sid Harta publishers:
'Peter Haywood's Catch a Falling Star is from the title out, an account of how it is to deal with a life dream that is being slowly strangled and stymied. Overall this is an entirely brave and generous look at the ebb and flow of friendships and what they are based on. The author's attention to detail in unpacking how these alliances are formed, how they deliver us from and to new vista's, how they float and dam and force us through the stages that lead to self recognition and the kind of acceptance required to allow love to form and develop us as people is highly developed and engaging. In parts this is a grim book because it considers and examines the paths to and dangers of disconnection. What happens to Nick as he slowly loses control of his life is a parable of that saying that 'The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.' This novel connects the reader to an often colourful, regularly bleak and consistently darkly humorous recounting of how we reach out and struggle with and accomplish and lose and come to understand the lives we live. The whole thing is anchored to a narrative about growing up in the awakening of an otherwise creatively arid Australia in the late 70's and 80's.
In the end there is something of the deeply spiritual in what happens to Nicky Nova. He epitomizes that truth that in our destruction we may find our greatest source of light - like the stars really. I sincerely wish the author well with this his first novel which is interesting, layered, erudite and entirely entertaining.'

I'd just like to close this post by saying that I notice this blog is getting a fair few hits, but no comments. Please feel free to post a comment, or ask a question. I'm only happy to reply. Please don't be shy. Though some might say that I suck, I don't bite.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Deleted Excerpt One

Here's the first in a series of "deleted excerpts" which are in fact, more like afterthoughts. This one would have belonged in Chapter One, page 12:

...Then there was the time that Ritzy, Shane and I were trudging down Springvale Road on the way to one of our nightly deposit bottle-salvaging expeditions. It was a chilly winter's evening, and we were all wearing matching grey, knee-length overcoats, a fashion item that I had recently introduced to our little group. In the early '80's the knee-length overcoat, dirty mac or "flasher coat" as the mocking straights liked to call them, were worn by pasty, depressive young men in bedsits across the length and breadth of England, having been popularised by miserabilist bands such as The Teardrop Explodes, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Smiths. But, as ever, my source of copycat inspiration had come from Bowie, who bizarrely, had worn one in the arid desert heat of New Mexico in my favourite movie "The Man Who Fell To Earth".
So anyway, we were all walking single-file along the road, when I suddenly suggested, 'Hey, wouldn't it be a hoot if we all simultaneously flash the next car that drives past'? Seconds later we heard the steady hum of a vehicle coming up fast behind us, and on the count of three we all turned around, thrust our hands deeply into our pockets, leaned back, and laughing uproariously, waggled our overcoats at the startled motorist.
We were not literally flashing him of course, as we were all fully clothed underneath the oversized coats. A fact that was lost on the three plain-clothed officers in the unmarked police car who failed to see the funny side of our little prank when they pulled over to the side of the road to give us a proper telling off.