Living with Tribes

ADRIAN_GUERIN

Dinner with the tribe. Couscous. I don’t mind Couscous, but usually when it’s served with some flavouring and texture. This was more ‘monolithic-mound-of-stuff’ than it was couscous. It was a solid unit. Very solid. Mmmm, it’s, um – delicious. It was just as well we all sat there in complete darkness, as that meant they couldn’t see my face wince after each mouthful. After 10 minutes it felt like I’d been working on the bowl for 4 days. I used my phone flashlight to see how much more there was to go. Oh shit, there’s a lot. A hell of a lot. In fact, I think there’s actually more than before.

To be fair, as their guest, I probably should have bought them a goat. There was talk of this. But the more I get to know goats, the more fond of them I become. And the thought of seeing a goat killed in front of me gave me nightmares. So I think the extremely dry, bitter and generally unagreeable pile of Couscous was their way of saying, ‘We don’t mind bleeding animals, but we don’t care for your bleeding heart’. Point taken, as I gnaw at another slow, painful handful, waiting 5 minutes before I’ve chewed each mouthful down to my incredulous stomach.

My stomach would cry, ‘what’s going on up there?! We want food?!’. I’d say, ‘So do I mate, so do I. We need to work together on this one’. Stomach unimpressed: ‘Groan. Groan. Groan. I’m going to fuck you up later in the week’. He was true to his word, I had a serious session of projectile vomiting a few days later. Very satisfying though. The tribe turned on a flashlight to see who I was talking to. I was gesturing to my stomach in an animated manner, yapping away. ‘Oh, it’s just me going insane. Just ignore it guys. I always go a little ‘cuckoo-cuckoo’ when I travel. I kinda like it though’. Another handful. Another handful. And then, another what? Another handful.

Then there was the coffee. I love coffee, but I don’t think this was coffee. It was more… raw earth. It was very very thick, ‘Um, is this liquid or matter?’. Incredibly potent too. Since the first bowl, I still haven’t slept. The doctor says I’ll probably never sleep again. Oh well, at least the nightmares have stopped.

Posted in Travel Post Comment

An Encounter with Some Mini Shepherds

01

I was enjoying another finely brewed Bedouin coffee when I noticed signs of movement on a mountain far away into the distance. My pals told me they were goats. Ok, I’m going to go and see them then.

After a trek that took much longer than expected, I finally made it to the goats. To say they were stunned by my arrival is an understatement. Who. The. Hell. Is. This. Guy.

Relax guys, I’m just here to look around and take a few pics. I’m just seeing what the vibe’s like up here, don’t be alarmed. They were alarmed. When I moved, they moved. They all just stared. And stared. And stared. You guys are very highly strung. And you’re killing my vibe.

Except for one goat. The Maverick. The Peacekeeper. She defied everyone to calmly stroll down and say hello. She came so close that she even bumped the lens of my camera. We had a moment.

 

02

Then, without warning, the goats all starting running down the mountain. Shit, she’s started a riot. Manners were non-existent. They jostled, shoved and shouted as they all tumbled down the mountain. I asked them to relax and to please not run on my account. I’m just taking pictures. I’m happy to leave if it means that much to you. Maverick goat, tell them to relax! 

 

03

Turns out they were running towards a group of mini Shepherds who were walking up the mountain, one of whom was this guy (he wants to rock). The goats respected him. They trusted him. I felt like saying, ‘Guys, you know this kid is going to kill you all. And then eat you’.

 

04

We all walked down the mountain to their home.

 

05

I soon discovered why they were in such a rush to get home. And why they trust the mini Shepherds. Dinner. What a shame that soon you guys will soon be just that, dinner. I didn’t want to ruin their vibe, even though they’d ruined mine, so I kept it to myself.

Posted in Anecdote, Travel Post Comment

Farewell home, it’s time to head home

For the past 5 months I’ve been in a self-imposed exile in a cabin near the beach in Australia. These are my stories.

I met many new creatures during my time in the cabin; here is a brief profile of my new friends.

The Ducks
Very popular amongst the human population of Rosebud. Ducks lack grace, quack and waddle, but they are not pretentious, ‘We’ll mix with anyone, as long as they don’t try to eat us’. They clumsily waddle through the caravan park requesting handouts, often heard quacking and talking amongst themselves as they explore the hot spots. While their discussions are usually jovial and good-natured, they are also prone to rabid infighting and sectarianism, often seen jabbing at each other with their beaks. However, the ducks are largely placid towards the humans (despite the extremism of those who eat them) due to the 1998 Rosebud Peace Agreement, decreeing that no ducks on the Peninsula be eaten for dinner.

Magpies
Obnoxious. They are often drunk and have been known to harass locals by perching on the windowsill and shouting, ‘Give us some of your dinner ya c***!’.
‘Fuck you ya black and white bastard, learn some manners, like the ducks!’
‘No fuck you. When you come out of the cabin I’m ganna swoop ya!’.
‘Oh yeah, well I have a cricket bat!’.
They are known to congregate in gangs and are prone to violence. Police don’t know how to control them such is their complete lack of fear. Much like the cat, they have a superiority complex and will push the limits of the human-animal dynamic as far as possible. They create a hostile atmosphere.

Purple Swamp-hen
Menacing in appearance, though this is largely a deception. In reality they are quite warm and friendly, if a little paranoid and highly strung. They snoop around the caravan park searching for food, always checking to see if the coast is clear. The Swamp-hen will be very startled by your presence if you don’t announce your approach.

Black Swans
Superficial. Vain. Narcissistic. Black Swans do yoga and pose for photos at the beach during sunset. They are supermodels. The ducks are in love with them but are too short and fat to ever stand a chance. Sometimes the ducks show off by flying above the Black Swans, ‘Look, we can fly!’. However, the swans ignore, too busy looking at their own reflection in the water.

Kookaburras
The glitterati of the local animal population. They are a world-renowned national icon with a great sense of humour. They rarely mix with humans, instead opting to mock them from the trees above, ‘Look at that one, he’s a midget! LOL! Ok, I’m off for a photo shoot, see yaz at dusk’. They are elite birds who live off royalties and will not hesitate in reminding you as such, ‘I’m an Australian icon, bit of respect, please!’. They gather at dusk to laugh over a few drinks. It’s usually an A-list event and the laughter is sometimes excessive, often audible from many kilometers away. They adhere to no noise restrictions though locals don’t seem to mind, ‘The kookies are out tonight, must be pay day from royalties’. The Purple Swamp-hen think they’re laughing at them, one of the many reasons why they’re so paranoid. The ducks offer them counseling in learning to accept their appearance.

Crows
You thought the Magpies were obnoxious? Try a crow. Wow. These guys are hardcore. They scavenge. They torment. They yell and scream with a harrowing sound that sounds like an old man being slaughtered. They have been known to make children cry. At dusk all the crows in Rosebud descend onto the local plaza. They sit atop the power lines, loitering and yelling at passers by. The atmosphere is hostile.
‘Holy shit. Something’s going down tonight, I can feel it. Look up, they’re everywhere. What’s going on?!’.
‘I’m not sure, but those crows are fired up about something. I’m scared’.
‘They’re taunting us. Shit, now there’s a whole gang approaching from the beach’.
‘Mummy I’m scared, what’s happening?’.
‘I don’t know, just get in the car’.
‘But the birds are yelling at me’.
‘For God’s sake get in the car!!’.
The car skids away, chased by an unruly gang of crows.

Ants
My cabin had a few ants. My Mum would try and kill ants during her daily visits. ‘Hey, wtf! How dare you!’. The ants and I had an agreement: they were granted asylum and/or a protection visa, the only condition being that they did not remain in the same location for extended periods and refrained from congregating in large groups.
‘Mum, you have just cast this policy into disarray!’
‘You’re going insane in this cabin, Adrian’.
‘Aaaahh, I’ve always been insane. I’ve just never been around long enough for you to notice’.
Check. Mate.

Posted in Fiction, I Love Animals Post Comment

The Greatest Show on Earth

Each morning I’d make my way to the dunes to see a live performance from a world-renowned icon. I’d arrive while it was still dark to ensure I didn’t miss the opening sequence, which was often the most impressive. Despite the enormity of the show, the crowd was usually pretty sparse. The animals, however, were always front row and centre. They probably have a deeper connection with the show; they even join in and sing along.

The anticipation begins to build around an hour before she enters the stage. This is usually a period when dark silence and hypnotic calm cede to what will be a colourful and noisy show. As the colour of the sky slowly begins to transform, the animals voice their excitement, ‘She’s almost here; I can feel it!’ The birds know it. The moon knows it. The stage is set.

When she finally enters, the singing amongst the birds can be heard throughout the entire hemisphere. They are ecstatic, ‘Suns up suns up. Everybody, wake up and make some noise!!’. They are her biggest fans. The humans just sit back in silent awe.

The moon, who had enjoyed all of the attention overnight, slowly concedes defeat, ‘I can’t do it. She’s just too powerful. No one can compete with that! I’m off to light up the north, See ya tonight.’ ‘No worries, you had a great set last night, sad to see you go’.

Hello sun. It’s the reason we’re all here. If there is a God, she is it.

Posted in Fiction Post Comment

The Albatross

At dawn, the Albatross likes to stake out a position on the pier and stand defiantly against the wind, feeling it rush through her. For hours on end they would stand staring into the wind, looking very content with life. No matter how cold, or how windy, this was their favourite part of the day. This was their favourite part of the world.

Albatross are a bit like the Magpie; they don’t really believe in altering their position for a human. They will either remain where they are (eyeballing you as you pass), or they’ll say, ‘Nup, you got too close’, and reluctantly fly to another position.

My morning walk would often cause great disruption to the many Albatross’ meditating on their pier. I could feel the resentment. As I entered the pier, I’d see them ahead, all with their backs to me staring into the wind. As I inched closer, I’d notice their heads start to tilt ever so slightly towards me, as if to say, ‘What’s this guy up to? Is he coming out to the pier? No-one comes out here when it’s like this!’. They’d go back to meditating, assuming I’d eventually turn back. Then their heads would tilt again, as if to suggest, ‘Sigh. He’s coming all the way. Ok guys, better move ahead, he’s coming’. Collective sigh. Onwards they would move to the next set of poles.

I heard a rumour that the land birds thought the sea birds were weird. I once heard a chick being berated by his mother for flying down to the sea at dawn during a storm.
‘What are you doing hanging around with those birds?! They sit there in that wind all day, in that cold, it’s weird! You should be nestled into your nest during inclement weather!’.
‘It’s not weird, just different! You don’t understand. They are connected to the sea and the elements in a way you’ll never understand. You’re just a tree bird’.
‘It’s a cult. All they do is squawk, they can’t even sing. What sort of bird doesn’t sing?! You will not be hanging out at the pier with the seabirds anymore. They’re queer. End of discussion!’.
‘You’re not a bird, you’re a dinosaur!’.
‘Very well, find your own worms then. And wait till a crow gets his eye on you. It’s a jungle out there; I’m just trying to prepare you for life when I’m not around. Our entire purpose in life is preservation of the species. You’ll understand one day’.

Posted in Fiction, I Love Animals Post Comment

My Political illustrations

Talking to birds and worshipping the sun were not the only things I did during my Australian retreat, I also created a set of political illustrations. There were 10 in total, all now on the site in the ‘Illustration’ section. I wrote some mini-essays about a few of them, too long to be captions or Facebook posts, so they’re natural home is here where no one will read them. ISIS, the American Empire, burqas, benefit sanctions, Tony Blair, indigenous relations, offshore detention, Iran, Israel and Iraq… it’s all pretty light and easy. Still, don’t try and approach them all at once. Viola…

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Irony Alert

TONY_BLAIR

The irony of Tony Blair warning about the danger of Jeremy Corbyn. This is the guy whose love-in with W Bush resulted in the deaths of 179 Brits in Iraq. This is the guy who implicated the UK in an invasion that destroyed an entire country, and paved the way for a dystopian caliphate.

While African and Serbian war criminals go the The Hague, the Anglos retreat to their mansions, and without a trace of irony, offer their expert view on politics and international relations.

Corbyn, dangerous? No. Treating the Middle East like it’s your playground is dangerous. Not understanding the first thing about the countries we invade: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya – that’s dangerous. Not having a plan beyond a military crusade, that’s dangerous. Not understating the consequences of creating death camps such as Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, that’s dangerous. Spending £30b on nuclear weapons while lecturing the rest of the world about how dangerous they are? Dangerous. The fictional ‘centre ground’ is dangerous. Cosying up with extremely radical and violent countries such as Saudi Arabia, Israel and Sisi’s Egypt, that’s dangerous.

But most of all, if Corbyn were ever to become PM, he would be savagely ruthless towards Blair and his New Labour clique. And if you’re Tony Blair, that is very, very dangerous.

The illustration:

The illustration shows Blair giving one of his many, well-publicised speeches about Jeremy Corbyn during the Labour leadership contest of 2015. The coffins of the 179 British casualties of Iraq lie behind him, a reminder that despite all the rhetoric and hyperbole, it was Balir who proved to be one of the most disastrous PMs this country has ever seen. His toxic legacy will haunt the Labour Party, the UK and the Middle East for years to come. And without a hint of shame, he proudly wears the Remembrance poppy on his left lapel.

Posted in Illustration, Politics Post Comment

THE PRINCIPLED AXE MURDERER

IAIN_DUNCAN_SMITH

During his reign as Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith introduced a series of benefit sanctions that led to an unprecedented surge in food banks, suicides and deaths among the UK’s disabled and most vulnerable citizens. He twisted and misrepresented statistics, ignored independent advice and dogmatically pressed on with his cuts.

So When I heard about Iain Duncan Smith’s ‘principled’ resignation in response to his government’s savage welfare cuts, the image of a magnanimous axe murderer sprang to mind.

After ruthlessly hacking at the limbs of every cripple in the country, he stands above the last remaining survivor and looks down in disgust. Nothing can irate a conservative like an unemployed cripple gobbling up taxes, ‘You vile miscreant. It’s about self-empowerment. Walk damn you!’. Then, he has an idea – a conscience! He lowers his axe, turns to the nation’s media and proudly announces that he will not kill any more plebs. For this selfless act of morality, the nation’s media offer a rousing round of applause. Even the grateful cripple claps (with one arm of course).

Wow. What a guy.

Posted in Illustration, Politics Post Comment

The Boat People

BOAT_PEOPLE

Australians rejoice, WE STOPPED THE BOATS! But we sold our souls.

A young female refugee suffers an epileptic fit and briefly loses consciousness. She wakes to discover she’s been raped, the give-away being the blood and semen that’s dripping out of her. A three-year-old boy is molested by a guard, the mother is too scared to report it until she’s been medevacked to Australia for a medical emergency. Six boys, separated from their parents, try to kill themselves en masse, using the same razor blade.

Welcome to Australia’s treatment of maritime refugees. Actually, that’s the PC term. We like to call them The Boat People. The Liberal party describes it as ‘Restoring the integrity of Australia’s borders and stopping the boats’. Labor supports it. In reality it means paying off poor countries to oversee rape, suicide and child incarceration on our behalf. Y’see, we’re signatories of things human rights and refugee conventions. We believe in things like democracy and justice. So it’s kinda difficult to ignore the abuse of these values when your whole political ideology is about protecting them. That’s the genius of the outsourcing our problems to poor countries. They don’t have the institutions to uphold basic rights. So if we send them all there, it’s no longer our problem. Get it?

While the policy and has been a political success, in real terms it has been an abject failure. Yes, the boats did stop. But what the Liberal party and their ravenous media never really acknowledge, is the depths to which we have sunk in order to achieve this goal. Stopping the boats led to a deterrent policy so extreme that even Iran has lectured us on it. But because so much fear and loathing has been roused about these horrible vermin, there is no turning back. It would be political suicide to try a humane solution. It would be ‘weak’. History is lined with ‘how could they let that happen’ moments. Future generations will ask how a rich, prosperous and friendly nation allowed itself to reduce human life to a political slogan.

Posted in Illustration, Politics Post Comment

Lest We Forget

LEST_WE_FORGET

About the illustration:
The illustration depicts an indigenous child observing a field of remembrance in the Australian desert, drawing attention to the scale of suffering endured by the indigenous communities killed during the Australian Frontier Wars. The headline ‘Lest We Forget’ is used in an ironic sense, highlighting how these victims of war have been all but erased from our memory. These first Australians fought and died for their land, however there are no statues, parades, or any tangible recognition of their feats.

Some food for thought:
As any westerner will know, paying respects to those who lost their lives in war occupies a large part of the cultural landscape. Whether it’s a statue, military parade, a documentary or a national day of mourning, the importance of remembering is instilled in citizens from primary school. But what about the indigenous Australians who fought for their country? Unable to thwart the invasion, they were killed en masse, eventually losing the land on which they’d thrived for at least 50,000 years. Surely this is a catastrophic tragedy worthy of remembrance and recognition? A minute’s silence, at least?

Here’s where it gets awkward. We, the European Australians, have benefited pretty handsomely from this tragedy. And we don’t like being reminded about it. Just leave the past in the past (except when it’s ‘our’ past). We inherited a European system of governance and trade that’s served us pretty well. And no one wants to be an unpatriotic, self-hating stick in the mud, so it’s best to just ignore that little glitch in ‘our’ story. That’s why we have a modified version of history that’s taught in schools, much like they teach in states like China. Australia was ‘settled’. It was an amicable handover which was mutually beneficial to the indigenous population as well as the settlers who sought to exploit them. If you believe that, you should probably check your sources.

I know I’m now delving into risky territory here, because in Australia, there’s 4 crucial rules you need to abide by:

1) Don’t question our military history
2) Don’t humanise refugees or asylum seekers
3) Don’t question Australia Day
4) And for fucks sake, don’t harp on too much about the abbos! (FYI, Abbos is a still widely-used word. The politically correct term is ‘Aboriginals’).

Rule 4? Check. Now rules 1-3:

The whitewashing of history is a little odd, especially when you consider the people whose history we’re whitewashing are actually still with us. Yet it tends to be European Australians who are most sensitive about it all. It gets a lot weirder when you learn that our national holiday – Australia Day, is the same day that the British Empire invaded. This is an empire that carved up most of the world in its own interests, creating catastrophic legacies from the British mandate in Israel/Palestine, to the arbitrary borders imposed on countries like Iraq to continents like Africa. This is an empire that sent thousands of young Australians to their deaths in world war 1, in an imperial war that created more problems than it solved. But none of this means we shouldn’t have a national holiday to celebrate all that’s great about our country, it just seems a little backward to have it on the same day as a mass slaughter.

‘Ah FFS, get over it, cunt!’

This is when the flag waving patriots start to hark up. Because of all the rules about being Australian, perhaps rule 3 is most crucial: never, ever question Australia Day. So by breaking both rules 3 and 4 in one hit, this article is probably now subject to sighing, tutting, lamentations of how political correctness has gone mad, how the Greens hate Australia and how Sharia Law is now being taught in Australian schools. Or something. What? Not sure. I just know that European Australians have a low tolerance threshold, and are very, very sensitive.

There’s a lot more I could say. Like why do so many Australians believe WW1 was about freedom, democracy and values? It wasn’t. Why do we hate families fleeing war and persecution so much? Why do I always get penalised for daring to question the cultural landscape in which I was raised? Am I not allowed to love and be grateful for my country, and question its blind spots at the same time? Apparently not. From this point, if the debate goes any further, I’m likely to get death threats and be done for treason. I’ll be told to go and live in Sharia Law if I love it so much. I’ve broken all 4 rules in one hit – I’m dangerous. Or I’m a peace-loving, feel good hippy. Not sure which one yet, Andrew Bolt generally decides.

Posted in Illustration, Politics Post Comment