Launched

I thought I was blase about last night’s book launch until I actually got to Jabberwocky, saw all the posters all over the window, and couldn’t extricate myself fast enough from the taxi driver who was offering to distribute my books in India (he’s very versatile – also a dairy farmer in his spare time).
It’s a bit like having a 40th birthday, except you don’t have to clean up afterwards. All about me. I’m not very good at that.
It’ll be more extreme in Melbourne, my home town, next month, since my entire family will be there (except my brother who will be at Mount Everest, which is the best excuse I’ve ever heard), Mum will cry (don’t pretend you won’t, I know you), and half the people I’ve ever known in my life will be staring at me.
I think I’ve changed my mind.
Nevertheless it’s at Readings in Bay Street on October 18. That’s the old Port Melbourne post office.
I was born in Port. Well, technically I was born at the Royal Women’s, but the Borough is my spiritual home, which is why I wanted to have the next launch there. Many major points in my life have occurred in Bay Street: weddings, christenings, funerals, and my debut at the age of three, in hot pink shantung, as a flower girl. I was forced to wear a prosthetic hair bun, which looked a little like a furry cinnamon doughnut and was supposed to make me look like I wasn’t a ratbag little tomboy.
That was the last time anyone succeeded in that endeavour.
When my grandfather was a kid, he could have stood in the middle of Bay Street and looked towards the beach and seen a forest of masts. And when I was a kid, he’d take us to see the ships at Station Pier. He was a warfie, and back then it was all still nets and crates and ropes and hooks. Small cranes, but no containers, so when a ship was in, the wharf looked alive – not like the Legoland you see on a modern wharf. Streamers from the passenger ships. Baggage sitting out in the open. Blokes shouting, unloading bikes and brown cardboard suitcases with labels all over them, or hessian sacks and wooden boxes.
One day, there was a huge sail training ship, probably the Argentinian Navy’s Libertad. Everything was white: the officers’ uniforms and dazzling teeth, the holystoned decks, the hull. It was covered in gold trim and bright brass fittings.
That’s the day I fell in love with sailing ships. So it’s only fitting that The Pirate’s Revenge be launched upon the briny in Bay Street.

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