Cheap Wine and a Three Day Book, Cheap Wine and a Three Day Book, come on!
That was how I always heard the lyrics to Cold Chisel’s classic ‘Cheap Wine’, until one day I listened more closely and realised that it did not present the singer as a literary recluse, but rather as an anti-social drunk (it actually says ‘three-day growth’). Boy, was I disappointed!
I found myself singing the song during a recent trip to Savo with the kiddywinks. It’s school holidays and they were bored so I decided a change of location for a few nights would do them good. Anyway, we’re in the middle of a major La Nina monsoon at present and it rained continuously while we were there. The sea was also the roughest I’ve ever seen it here so my planned canooeing and snorkelling came to nothing. I read my book the whole time.
It’s called Life on the Ledge: Reflections of a New York City Window Cleaner from Three Dollar Radio press, and it’s by an American guy called Ivor Hanson, who is now living in Honiara and is becoming a friend of mine. It tells the story of Ivor’s time in New York about ten years ago while he played in punk rock bands with the likes of Henry Rollins and Ian MacKaye (if you were into American hardcore, you’d know that that’s the equivalent of playing with Barnsey, or Peter Garret). The bands eventually faded away, as bands do, leaving the window cleaning as a main career rather than a money earner while he played music. So eventually he did journalism, and became a writer. More recently he’s been travelling around the world with his wife, who works for the UN. Lucky devil.
There’s a few similarities with my own life, including the fact that he used to work as a life model for easy cash, and also that he is now a stay-at-home dad. The difference is that while I was pursuing my PhD, he was cleaning Tom Hank’s tilt-in windows, or clambering about on a fourtieth floor window ledge outside Frances McDormand’s East Avenue pad. And also that I never played with Peter Garrett.
I’m set to interview Ivor in the next few weeks for Love Bunni Press. I’ll be asking about his hatred of nicknacks, which he calls ‘tchatches’ whether Tom Hanks really made him wear hospital booties so he wouldn’t scuff the floor, and what he’s writing next. Should be fun.
Anyway the book saved the trip, which would have sucked otherwise. I did drink cheap wine, but I did shave, and I did not sit on the beach drinking rocket fuel (oh yeah), because it was too pebbly and uncomfortable. I lay on my balcony and watched the rain fall, while the kids pretended to be pirates, and learned how to make kastom pillows out of kapok fluff.
I’m sure Barnsey would have done too, that if he could.