Standard Issue writers are penning a letter to their hometown. In hers, comedian Celia Pacquola takes the high ground – literally.
Well. I wasn’t born there, but it’s where I lived from two days old until moving out at the moving out age of 18 and one day.
Our house and the hill underneath it overlooked a small town in the Yarra Valley in the state of Victoria in the country known as Australia. ‘Overlooked’ sounds nicer than ‘looked down on’ though they mean much the same thing and neither seems particularly flattering.
From our breakfast table you could see the whole town and the whole town could see us. Well, they could see the white fence that formed a ring to separate our house from the paddock down the hill, like the hairline around the bald spot on a monk’s head.
Not that I felt superior to the inhabitants of the town, if anything I was jealous. To be able to walk, or ride a bike, to a friend’s house?! I could only dream. To an isolated hill child, the town was my idea of big city bliss. Indeed, most of my childhood was spent yearning for company and/or flat pavement.
But no, when I wasn’t at school, I was a child of rocks, grass and uneven surfaces. If you exited our house from any door, the only direction was down. I grew up with a sturdy footing that would challenge any mountain goat in an earthquake and left me with an over-confidence regarding floods. It also meant I wasn’t allowed to get my own roller-skates.
“The most cutting-edge technology was the Tamagotchi and even that was something we’d only heard rumours about. There was nothing to do except go for walks and wait for your pets to die.”
However, it was beautiful. Stunning. It was the bush. Peaceful, save for the native birds like rosellas and galahs that my mum loved so much. I remember life at that time as a being very sensory. Smells and sounds. A bonfire in the distance, fresh rain, the snap of sticks, a falling branch that somehow sounded like a wave crashing on a beach, the unmistakable shriek of someone nearby walking through a spider web. Gorgeous. It was quiet and serene and idyllic and BORING. OH MY GOD IT WAS SO BORING!
This was also PRE INTERNET, I’m showing my age but, yes, there was such a time. The most cutting-edge technology was the Tamagotchi and even that was something we’d only heard rumours about. There was nothing to do except go for walks and wait for your pets to die.
If I had a drop of water for every time I said “I’m bored” and my mum replied with “Why don’t you go for a walk?” I could have filled a swimming pool that we didn’t have, even though I offered to dig a hole for one. Because I was so bored.
If necessity is the mother of invention, boredom is the father. Thinking about it, I suspect my current career in comedy can be attributed almost entirely to being bored as a child.
Calendar highlights included screaming at the wind to see if I could control it or throwing rotten eggs against a tree.
But I believe the boredom forced my hand creatively. I read and made up stories. Played A LOT of pretends. When all you have is a stick, the stick can become anything – a wand, a key to a portal, a chopstick on a quest for its other half. But it’s really hard to imagine that an X-Box is a stick.
So, I’d like to say thank you to my hometown. And I hope, with all my heart, that you stay boring. That you don’t get a cinema or a monorail or a theme park. That the children who live there now are so mind-numbingly bored out of their skulls that they learn to think for themselves and create worlds from nothing. They’ve got their whole lives to discover how much stuff is actually going on in the world. I think, like me, one day they’ll look back and find themselves really missing having absolutely nothing to do.1858 Views
Celia Pacquola is an award winning stand-up comedian, actor and writer in Australia and the UK, across television, the live stage and radio.