Friday, 30 November 2007

Do you remember Geelong when…?

By Dennis Ogden

(This question was posed as a theme for the 2007 Geelong Seniors short story writing competition. My short story response was selected for publication, the second year in a row.)

Geelong? Yes of course I remember Geelong! When? What do you mean, when…all the time, well, I mean not every waking minute, I don’t go walking along the street with my head in the mystic clouds of Geelong data, why would I? Nor do I stroll along the beach ignoring the warmth of the sun, the gentle roll of the waves over the soft sand under feet to ponder all aspects of Victoria’s second largest city, though I must admit to the odd slumbering dream about Geelong. But, yeh, I remember it…I mean it’s not lost or anything, is it? No, I’m sure it’s not. I mean I’ve just read something recently about a big win…or maybe I’m wrong and it was really a dream. Then again, maybe it wasn’t Geelong at all but some other team called the Cats! No, only joking, I know they’re one and the same. But hang on, that happened after this question was raised, so I guess it doesn’t really count, right?

But maybe I’m taking this the wrong way? Maybe I’m reading too much into the question? Why not just take it as read “I remember Geelong when…” Yeh, okay, but when what? I’m sure there are more than one or two things that have happened to make Geelong memorable, I mean winning the Grand Final is worth remembering, right? But because it doesn’t count, when was the last time they won? Humm, was it…no, okay then was it…umm, no again. So it most be so far back it’s really testing my failing memory or there have been so many bad memories since the last big win there was nothing to remember. Oh well then, there most be something else. How about…ummm, no that’s something I want to forget too and not remember. Well then there’s the time when…no I want to forget that too. How come it’s easier to remember the things you want to forget, you know, like pain, losing your job, breaking a tooth, things like that, but when it come to remembering good things the mind goes into some sort of fuzzy clouded mush when seeing a clear picture of something you want to remember gets mixed up and you start having arguments about the timing, or whether it was raining or not, or what you were wearing, or did we meet here or there? So many arguments are started because this confused mess of things we want to remember befuddles the recollection process.

But, sitting here contemplating this tempting question under my nose, maybe it is lost! Nah, couldn’t be. I mean Geelong was a big place. Not something you’d lose overnight. Well, not without a natural disaster at least.

Then maybe it’s gone to live with its sister. You know, the one in Lianyungan, China or if not, the other sister in Izumiotsu, Japan, maybe that’s were it’s gone and why we must remember it, after all how many Australians have now chosen distant destinations to reside, plenty, so why not Geelong?

So were am I? The clearest memory I have of Geelong happened after the question was raised and doesn’t count. All other memories are either ones I want to forget, or if not, they are in the befuddled cloud of all memories I wish to keep.

I know, I’ll look through my photo albums, that usually helps to stir the memory bank. Won’t be a moment.


Sorry, that took a lot longer than I thought it would. It’s amazing how you get sidetracked going through photo albums. I found myself back in Bali way before Bali was Bali as we now know it. Then the time I camped with the cattlemen in the high country and just avoided being run over by a battered old ute chasing a doomed Dingo down a dirt track. Then I came across photos of my trip to New York and trying to avoid eye contact with everyone. But what really took me back to my long passed by youth and giving me heart palpitations, was coming across an old photo of a girl I had a crush on at school. That took a while to ponder over, first kiss and all. Yeh, photo albums certainly help the memory. Excuse me for a minute as I just want to have another quick glance at her photo again…I wonder what she’s doing now?

Sorry, I digress. What was the question again? Oh yeh, Geelong…wouldn’t it be funny if she now lives in Geelong…sorry, Geelong! Oh, yeh, no nothing in the albums helped there. Funny about that, not one photo of Geelong, though maybe I wouldn’t recognise it anyway if there were one! I mean I’m not denigrating Geelong, far from it. It’s just that I live on the peninsula. I mean how would I get here if I didn’t need to take that long, crossroad infested drive through Geelong on my regular trip to Melbourne and back. Whoops, sorry that was something I try to forget.

Hang on, hang on, that’s stirred something in my memory cloud. Yeh, something is coming through the mist. Is it? Yeh, I think so…a memory. Not sure what it is just yet, but it’s getting clearer. Yeh, I’m starting to see some detail now, it’s big, a big red brick building and it’s got a large sign out the front, hang on it’s nearly clear. Yeh, large blue and white sign, of course, there it is, I’ve got it, I’ve finally managed a memory of Geelong…it’s the Ford factory, there finally!

Whoops, hang, hang on it seems to be fading. No, wait, don’t go, don’t go! Damn it! Looks like it’s just become another fading memory of Geelong!

© Dennis Ogden 2007