long, lost, weekend
took me by surprise. I had worked till 3 a.m. on Friday phoning my banking
contacts in Europe but after several hours of fruitless leads I was
no closer to Alan Bond's secret stash. I was still brooding about the
dog doping case and I slept badly and dreamed horrible dreams of death
woke at eleven and went down to the café in a bleak mood. There
was a notice on the door saying it was closed for renovations until
Anzac Day and then I remembered I'd forgotten this and that Joadja had
taken off on the bus to visit friends.
climbed back up the stairs and shuffled to the kitchenette. There was
not much to eat ... three mealy apples, some half-desiccated leftover
vegetarian focaccia, three fridge-dried tomatoes and two slabs of cider.
Oh yes, two slabs of dry cider. Why not, I thought, I'll have a little
party by myself. And so I did.
woke up on the bean bag early on Saturday morning. My mouth felt like
I'd licked the Oxford Street pavement from Whitlam Square to Gilligan's
Island. There was a terrible thump, thump, thumping inside my head.
sort of serene panic overcame me. Make haste slowly. The bathroom ...
the light seemed incredibly bright ... and then I was on my knees ...
a heave of vomit and an instant relief ... no ... another wave of nausea
... another heave ... a sense of shame and relief. Green flecks of apple
and red flecks of chilli crusted the side of the toilet bowl.
coldness and clarity. The fur on my chest was splattered with vomit.
I eased myself down against the cold tiles and tried to breath deeply
in. Ignored the warning signs. Stupid. So long since the last time I'd
forgotten. Far too old to be making mistakes like that.
Brushtail Café opened again on Anzac Day with a new cappuccino
machine. It was a clear, quiet, desolate morning and I sat outside in
the weak autumn sunlight with a black Timor Arabica and the faraway
sound of bagpipes and Bruce the PR wanker.
trying to figure out what the market will do tomorrow", Bruce said
with a gloomy and anxious air.
He had talked about little except his wretched share portfolio for a
year. If we all followed his example, he had once insisted, we would
all be rich. That was before he got out of south.seas just before the
Nasdaq disaster and only 20 cents ahead. Since then he had watched his
Eisa shares go south and had gone somewhat silent.
to classical economic theory everybody who participates in the market
makes rational decisions in their own best interest. But in a real crisis,
just before the big stock market crash, there are few rational decisions,
except perhaps to decide that you should have got out months ago.
the reality is that everybody can't be rich", I said "It's
a myth of capitalism that gains currency just before the market goes
down. The more people who try to become rich and live an idle rentier
lifestyle, the less possible it becomes for anybody to do it. Unless
most people work hard and live a relatively frugal life, the system
of this is new, Bruce. The stock market boom was never creating new
value, it was just driving the price of a future benefit through the
roof. Trouble is, it's been 70 years since anybody saw a real market
crash, and there are three whole generations who know nothing of these
things ... people are gunna get burned".
sat in silence for a couple of minutes. "So you think the market
will go down further?" Bruce asked. The weekend had gone on too
long. It had been four days since he had had his fix of market news.
Cold Turkey. He was so desperate he was trying to guess whether a possum
might have guessed what the other punters were thinking the market would
do on the morrow.
in Whispers from the mean streets
-- Best of 2000