This post is not about Kevin Rudd, Kevin Spacey, the kid from that book ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ or Kevin Bloody Wilson.
“ The secret of a full life is to live and relate to others as if they might not be there tomorrow, as if you might not be there tomorrow. It eliminates the vice of procrastination, the sin of postponement, failed communications, failed communions….we believe we are in touch with a greater amount of people, more people, more countries. This is the illusion which might cheat us of being in touch deeply with the one breathing next to us” The Diary of Anais Nin Vol 4
It is sunrise of what’s going to be one of the hottest days on record and I am resolved to go running before it gets too hot. I’m not alone. There are many people already running and striding along the footpath outside my cheap rented flat in Gordons Bay, near Coogee.
There are no shops around here to gaze into, only the grim determination on the faces of those running, and the golden cliffs which curve in and out of the pacific coast of Sydney, and the smell of wet grass and briney ocean. The usual white cockatoos screech and play in the updraft of the cliffs.
I start running – it’s an easy start, downhill, but people run pass me still, including a girl I think I know, but then I remember at the same time that it can’t be the girl I think it is because I’m going to her funeral in 3 hours, and that reminds me of Kevin.
In 1929 Frigyes Karinthy wrote a book of short stories called “Everything is Different”. In it he suggested that the world was shrinking due to an ever-increasing connectedness of human beings – he called them ‘chain-links’ in the story of the same name. In this story the characters play a game based on the idea that using no more than five individuals one of whom he knew, he could contact any other individual in the world using the five people.
John Guare popularised the notion calling it ‘Six Degrees of Separation” in his play and in 1993 the movie starring Will Smith and Donald Sutherland.
Later, four students watching the film ‘Foot Loose’ devised a game called ‘Six degrees of Kevin Bacon’ on the idea that any actor on the planet could be linked to Kevin Bacon through not more than 6 connections.**
So now when I think about the interconnectedness of everyone and everything, – it is Kevin Bacon’s face that hovers around. And the other way around – when I think about Kevin, I think about the how we are so connected.
When I think about Kevin, I feel comforted that we are so connected. I feel especially more powerful and popular since I’ve got a smartphone – not a minute is wasted now – I can read what other people and organisations have to say, listen to music and watch videos, and I can take action – post my own photos and updates, tell people what I’m reading or listening to, like someone’s comment, start a blog – all sorts of stuff that staves off the loser loneliness.
And all without looking anyone in the eye.
Gordons bay or, Thommos bay as it’s also known, is the wild west of the Eastern Suburb beaches of Sydney. Excellent for the intrepid swimmer, the bay features high rugged cliffs and fishermen with knives. The fisher boats are too ratty to look picturesque, and the small beach at the pointy end is covered with stinky seaweed and plastic bits.
Sometime in the 80’s the council put an ‘underwater trail’ in the bay, as an area popular with divers. I asked a guy once what it looked like – he said – it’s just a long piece of steel chain – there’s nothing much to look at really – not many fish, lots of weed and that big clunking chain.
Well, the water’s deep and blue, and at least one fish, old Bluey the Groper, hangs around. He’s very tame, so if you see him, please don’t stab him with a spear gun.
My favourite thing to do is to swim across the bay with Dave. Dave has a tattoo on his back with the words ‘Birrong’ on it, which he says is an aboriginal word meaning ‘fibro’ as all the houses in the suburb where he was born are made of fibro. Dave can still beat me across the bay even when I am wearing super fast fins.
I continue running past the rickety wooden stairs to the beach bit and see a skinny dalmation chasing sticks in the water – the owner frolics and takes photos of the dog – it has an awkward vertical robot swimming style.
The fisherman’s hut near the stairs is still in use – they store their bait, hooks and secret business in there – older blokes go out in their tinnies past the bay and return to fiercely gut their catch on the fish table.
Gordon’s Bay is also something of a vortex to another world. Friends who stay here report dreaming of bodies, shipwrecks, tortured ghosts. I did too when I first moved here. One friend spent several hours looking on the internet convinced there must have been a major shipwreck here in the 1800’s.
There are stories of deaths in Gordon’s Bay, of bodies found – but the most bizarre is of a policeman who in the 1990’s tied himself , in scuba gear, to a concrete pylon underwater and waited for his air to run out. He changed his mind while down there and managed to untie himself and escape. On his second attempt he was successful after chaining himself with a padlock to the pylon this time. More chains.
My own personal thought is that the cliffs and geography and the wind blow in lost souls from the cliff side Waverley cemetery two bays up. But that’s just my opinion. We’ll get to the cemetery soon enough.
To be continued..