The Big Issue : Edition 501
12 THE BIG ISSUE 26 DEC 2015 – 7 JAN 2016 whenever I’m invited to a book launch. Sorry, kiddo, you’re on your own. I’ve been to Tasmania before. It was a good time. I was probably there last time you snidely enquired, “Are you on holiday again?” It’s a place that suits me just fine. It’s empty. It’s scary. No-one knows what to do with it. It reminds me of home, New Zealand: monstrous wilderness, minimum-wage towns, dashing across the street in the rain, badly dressed locals enjoying unfashionable beer and swearing softly in a darkened pub. For the real-deal Tassie you need to head west, to Queenstown, which is nothing like New Zealand’s gaudy Queenstown – and let’s be grateful for that. I’m looking forward to caravan parks with squeaky swings, feeding coins into communal washing machines, taking the football for a walk down a wide, ancient street with a lumpy mountain blocking the sun. We might even splash out on a room above a pub, and I’ll make foolish threats to drink the locals under the table. In reality I’ll feel self-conscious, paranoid I’ll be exposed as a tourist, accused of taking pity on a depressed community, here for a gawk. When master travel writer Paul Theroux goes overseas, the first thing he does is head down to the local market and buy the same clothes as the locals. His genius is conducted undercover. Chances are I already own the clothes of rural Tasmania. I look forward to fitting in like a glove, a pair of which I’ll bring, just in case a freak southerly blast whips up. Yesterday I received a much too long email from a stranger, tediously talking about Tasmania. The jackass included the line, “Unfortunately a large percentage of the Tasmanian population falls into two categories: welfare dependent and/or uneducated bogans”, which he pompously inset, with dot points, as if handing down findings from a royal commission. It sounds like my kind of place, and I say that truthfully. I want to go somewhere real on my holiday. New year, new people, maybe even some new clothes. To market, to market... “Summer holidays are great for family bonding. Well, they better be.” PHOTOGRAPHSBYJAMESBRAUND PEOPLE CAN BE so cruel. I often get asked the same, mildly pointed question: “Are you on holiday again?” This is usually followed by that already implied pearler, “Weren’t you just on holiday?” Surely it’s rude to ask someone if they lead a life of constant privilege? Oh, please, come live my life. A window seat to a boring street. A scrap of unproductive dirt and lawn. The arse- end of a 1989 Nissan Pulsar in the driveway. Too right I sometimes nick off to what some people frivolously call a “holiday”. I’m sorry if I’m putting a dampener on your holiday, because let’s face it, right now the country is on one big collective holiday camp. CBDs are as silent as space. Vendor spruiks bounce off glass doors, drift down empty streets. It’s a tough time to be self- employed. Tell me about it. For a week or so over New Year, families of all levels of dysfunction are compelled to spend time together, to find out what life would be like if work and school was permanently cancelled. There’s a photo I like. My aunty and uncle and their two teenage daughters, sitting at a train station in some dusty town in the middle of summer. They’re on holiday. The girls are scowling, sitting as far from their parents as possible. My aunty said, “That was our last family holiday.” It wasn’t. They just had to wait a few years until the girls stopped being bitches. But it was the end of something. Summer holidays are great for family bonding. Well, they better be. I’m about to face two weeks alone with my two dearest humans. One of them is an only child, only he’s not only a child. He’s a constant force of activity. He demands answers to every question that flashes through his already bloated mind, including, “Will there be any kids to play with?” and “Will I be bored?” Strangely, they are the same questions I ask myself » Ricky French (@frenchricky) is a musician and writer, whose life is just one uninterrupted holiday. RICKY If We Took a Holiday ...