Lismore. Wednesday, 8.30pm:
Some people say that as men get older they get more emotional; something about female hormones kicking in. Then again, some people say that CSG mining in the Northern Rivers is a good idea.
I don't know about these CSG-mining people. Maybe they need to mature, get a bit of female hormone in their brain (they are mostly men) and wise up.
Emotion is not an inferior cousin to rationality but is mother to truth; is the very basis of all understanding. Love is not rational, it's true.
Anyway, whatever. (I can do young talk despite the hormonal onset.)
I'm emotional because it's the 'S is Leaving The Echo Dinner' at one of my favourite restaurants. Colleagues and friends have gathered to send me off into the non-Echo void. (Okay, some people might question that if I've left, then who the hell is writing this column. Well, I am. 'Here & Now' stumbles on because I am addicted to talking with you, dear readers.)
There's a knot in my chest. The Echo has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. Actually, it's been much longer than that. Memory is not one of my strengths. I can't remember my last haircut - and I have short hair.
It's been eight-and-a-half years since I got a gig at this venerable rag writing the entertainment news. I have also written a column every week and done non-
entertainment news stories as well. And I've had so many coffees I've developed a sort of permanent, low-level, free-trade anxiety.
A sizzle of prawns on a hot griddle arrives in a cloud of steam. Spontaneous murmurs of appreciation greet its arrival. Smiles waft through the garlic-infused fog like happy aromas.
I love the people at this big round table with its hard-working lazy Susan laden with Chinese delicacies that incorporate the flesh of most common animals. Some of the people at this table no longer work at The Echo. Such is the nature of the modern world. Everything changes. Our newspaper has changed, and is changing.
I respect the contribution these people have made to The Echo and consequently to our community.
On a seat near the window is something large and rectangular wrapped in brown paper. It has a coloured ribbon tied at its top. It must be a gift. Aw.
Some people say newspapers are dead. Some people also said the radio would be killed by television and television would be killed by video. Some people will say anything. Some people only keep silent when the emotional truth conflicts with the perverted rationality of making a buck. Like with climate change.
Newspapers still have a role in our community. Unfortunately, the corporate rationality that rules everything can fail to see this truth. The local newspaper should balance the weird, non-hormonal rationalities that give us CSG mining, fluoridated water and motorised street sweepers, with the real truths that only emotion provides; like caring for each other and for the land upon which the community depends.
"Go on. Open it," a woman says.
I rip away the brown paper and there, in a protective wooden frame, is a Buddha head.
I will miss The Echo; and all who sail in her. I will miss going out into the community, proud to be an Echo reporter, to write about community events.
A Buddha head with its neatly cropped hair.
The head will take pride of place at my shack under the cliffs at the end of the world.
Oh, now I remember when my last haircut was: two months ago, in Mandalay, Burma.
Thank you Echo people. Love.