Thursday, March 15, 2012
My alter ego lives in a tent. In a forest. By a river. With a waterfall for showering and a lovely warm pool of spring water for relaxing in. Not far from the sea. Which is every wonderful shade of aqua and azure you can imagine. She spends her days reading books she borrows from the library, just a short train ride away. That is, after she has foraged for delicious fruits and fresh herbs. On weekends she embroiders works of arts which sell for just enough to keep her in the style to which she is accustomed and to have a reserve for any, as yet unwarranted medical expenses and the occasional holiday to somewhere new and different. She doesnt quite know what to make of the real me who lives surrounded by books and fabric and art supplies. Who watches way too much TV - albeit recorded or on DVD so that she doesnt have to watch the adds. Who lives in the city trying very hard to grow delicious veggies and herbs in her back garden. Wishing she had a swimming pool. Occasionally the real me is reminded of my alter ego. Like when she reads about women who live in tents. Like the character in Cloudstreet. Or like Kathryn Carroll in "Spirit of Progress". That is when she remembers who she would like to be... just sometimes.
My alter ego would not get cold and die from pneumonia like Miss Carroll does. Nor would she make the newspaper, or be the subject of a painting. Even one that wasn't famous. She would also have lots of friends. Four legged and two legged. And she would not turn away from the kind Mr Skinner who brings her fresh milk, cream and butter. She would be feisty though, just like Miss Carroll, and self sufficient, and free. She too would have a light in her tent at night, casting a soft yellow glow of hope for those few who might chance to see it, and who might find comfort in it. Just like Miss Carroll, she has a lovely nephew named Michael but unlike Miss Carroll, she also has a lovely nephew named Jack. And she likes visiting art galleries.
The Spirit of Progress, a work of fiction by Steven Carroll, is inspired by Carroll's great aunt Kathryn who was the subject of Sidney Nolan's 1946 painting Woman and Tent, housed in the Nolan Gallery, Canberra, a copy of which is shown above.