In which Burgher Russ and company finally leave old Melbourne Town
Russell Degnan

Perhaps, you might say, to this humble narrator, that Berwick is already outside the confines of Melbourne proper, and therefore, this hastily arranged title is perhaps somewhat inaccurate. But you, my dear reader, are wise not to do so, as this narrator is both long-winded and overly knowledgable on the subject.

If only the same were true of his knowledge of the humours that face one and all as we traverse the path of life.

It were but several days before it became apparent that Don Quixote's relative silence and off colour was neither resentment at the imposition of so many uninvited guests -- no, as a chivalrous knight to even suggest such would be an affront -- nor a response to the uninhibited drinking that has accompanied the quest to date, and afflicted many of the party, strewn as they now are across the virtual paths of the blogosphere.

Apparently, indeed, most unfortunately, the good Hildago was in fact, quite unwell. The sickness was unable to quench his great spirit however, even as it left him feverish and bed ridden, Don Quixote bid his guests on their path, and they, particularly those with weak constitutions, hurried out the door, lest the catching of such a fever interrupt their hedonism.

Virtual walks being unnaturally short compared to the physical distance covered, the home of nailpolishblues was not so far away from Don Quixote's. Hidden behind a tall hedge, the house -- with its attractive green roof -- was set at the end of a long pathway covered in an elaborately tiled mosaic of dreams and personal thoughts. Burgher Russ was still looking at them intently when he walked into the side of the house, somewhat inconveniently placed where a door should be.

"I'm renovating", nailpolishblues offered.

"And I'm not watching where I'm going", Burgher Russ replied, before introducing himself properly...

...after which we were made entirely more, though gratefully, very gratefully, welcome than we no doubt deserve...

A Burgher in Absentia 17th August, 2006 13:29:58   [#] [0 comments] 

In which Burgher Russ pretends like nothing has happened
Russell Degnan

With most of the party deep in their cups, and the rest floundering under the table of their generous host, Monsieur de Armagnac Esq., Burgher Russell de Hotham Esq. realised he had a rather pressing matter to attend to elsewhere, and nicked off.

While the others came to, nursed their swollen hangovers, and pondered what fate had befallen there previously reliable -- albeit over such a short period as to be statistically insignificant -- guide.

Monsieur Armagnac, being a rather generous sort, and remarkably polite, spent the time attempting to find a genial place for their next visit, with remarkably little success. That he may really have just wanted to remove the unsightly uninvited rabble from his doorstop was possible, but he showed no sign of it.

Fortunately for the quest, our Burgher was blissfully unaware when he returned, and happy to take his leave for the first halfway decent suggestion, and set off for the home of his literary muse, Don Quixote.

Needless to say, he didn't expect their coming either. But after a week spent drowning themselves in any liquor that came to hand, only the indomitable, procrastinating Madame Hooch of the Heath was still chirping as they made their way to the pleasant rolling hills beyond Monsieur Armagnac's home on the mud-flats.

Burgher Russ was troubled as he headed towards the house. Unlike at the other places they'd been, he'd not met Don Quixote before. The brothers Sterne are much meaner than they look, (or the opposite perhaps), TimT and he went back so far, almost a year even, and the Monsieur, he was a good sort. But Don Quixote?

He knew he was from Berwick, a town he'd circled round on the freeway, or run express through on the train many a time. He knew he liked music (good music even), blurry photography (were his eyes bad like the Burgher's? or his hands merely unsteady), and many other things besides.

Such diversity could only help their quest, couldn't it? Burgher Russ followed Madame Hooch in to find out...

A Burgher in Absentia 11th August, 2006 00:33:27   [#] [3 comments] 

In which Burgher Russ gets all political and stuff
Russell Degnan

It was a sore-throated company that woke and readied to leave the next morning. Burgher Russ in particular, having been conned (again) into donning a major general's costume at some point during the verse and song [1] that accompanied their visit to TimT's humble lodgings.

Upon setting off to visit Armaniac it almost immediately began to rain; the road quickly turning muddy, clogging their boots, and making even the smallest progress forward difficult.

Oddly though, on the hill above them the sun shone brightly, the gentle soft grass giving way to a little village. A somewhat familiar village. The village of Burgher Russell de Hotham Esq.

"Is that not your house, Russ?", Erica Starling asked, "and does that not mean we are walking in circles?"

"Yes it is, and yes we are." he replied, "'tis hardly my fault our acquaintances all know each other. I have high hopes we shall soon leave my own circle for other places yet unseen. Though I don't mind."

"Well I mind, my red shoes are getting muddy. Where did all this mud come from anyway? There was hardly any at the other places we've been."

"Mostly from other people. Armaniac likes to talk about things the rest of us try and avoid. See the sign?", he said pointing at the post on which, in bold letters, was written Godwin's Law:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

"Are you sure we want to visit here? It might be unpleasant", Erica asked.

"Oh no, Armaniac is great value.", Burgher Russ replied. "See! Here we are". And there they were, outside a well kept little house, with a front porch that exhibited signs of extensive scrubbing. "Everyone remember to wipe your feet too, Armaniac has already had a couple of houses swallowed by the mud. It is best not to bring more inside."

Armaniac knew they were coming, but he knew not what for, Burgher Russ poked his head in to say hello...

...and was promptly moved to a more, indeed very, hospitable location...

[1] Hey, read the song, it took forever to find a rhyme for "procrastinate"

A Burgher in Absentia 28th July, 2006 01:37:45   [#] [2 comments] 

In which, Burgher Russ, lyricises, with great care, yet no style
Russell Degnan

After a little early confusion over whether their party was merely visiting or looting, pillaging and in the case of the brothers Sterne's prize-winning lawn, scuffing, Burgher Russ and his companions had a very congenial stay at the castle. Jon Sterne was easily placated by their mulled wine and VIRtual GIN. In his typically congenial manner, while drunk, he promised to accompany them on the next part of their journey to visit the enigmatic Timothy Train.

Fearing that Jon's next suggestion may be some virtual karaoke, and knowing the consequences of that kind of indiscretion, Burgher Russ made his apologies and led their ever expanding party out onto the open road again.

And quite a journey it was too.

TimT was rarely in the same place. He is as likely preaching politics from the town square, as poetry from the nearest tree. Sometimes securing his supper from bemused passers-by, sometimes weaving his words in exchange for a book or two to satisfy his insatiable hunger for literary crack.

Like an atomic particle, noone could ever say where TimT was, or if they could, where he was going. Yet one could easily trace his passage by following the trail of books in his wake.

Scouring the landscape, the party found a well thumbed copy of Ovid's Metamorphoses by a lake. And from there picking up the trail: a partially burnt copy of Ulysses in a road-side ditch; a copy of Alice in Wonderland in a public house; an annotated copy of the screenplay to Springtime for Hitler; a conveniently, and somewhat suspiciously, placed copy of Wealth of Nations next to a Student Union building; and finally, intently studying the poetry on the wall of a railway siding, Timothy Train himself.

Tim gave an grin and raised an exaggerated eyebrow at the sudden intrusion of so many people on his reverie. Burgher Russell de Hotham Esq. tipped his cap and nodded in response...

A Burgher in Absentia 20th July, 2006 12:43:22   [#] [3 comments] 

In which Burgher Russ and company visit the brothers Sterne
Russell Degnan

They tarried over-long at the rabbit hole; Burgher Russ's commitment to the Col du Tourmalet being somewhat higher than his commitment to the quest. But as Friday dawned, he was underway again.

It was a much expanded company that, by common consent, left the congenial home of Erica Starling of the East and her copious supply of tea, scones and chocolate, for the lands of Sterne. Burgher Russell de Hotham Esq. and the minstrel Erica Starling were accompanied on the road by the wise humourist hooch, the mysteriously named Bridgegirl, the exotic northerner Ennye Doth Yoth Ye Olde Penne; and ranging ahead, seeking danger and disaster -- though finding none, there had been neither troll nor kook in these parts in living memory -- the warrior-nerd Robert Merkel of Benambra.

The Sterne brothers lived on a vast estate not so far from Burgher Russell's knotted village. Reknowned throughout the land for its vast library of books and music and for its collection of 17th century paintings, the Castle Sterne was an imposing edifice, and an inspiration for erudite scholars everywhere.

Our party found the inhabitants in a rickety stable in the courtyard, perusing gossip magazines, playing video games, and rocking out to late 80s metal. They hailed their greetings over the din...

A Burgher in Absentia 14th July, 2006 12:46:03   [#] [6 comments] 

In which Burgher Russ decides to go on a quest to find something.
Russell Degnan

One fine, but cold, winter day, Burgher Russell Degnan de Hotham Esq. looked away from his computer screen and stared out his window at the pale blue sky.

Then, to noone in particular, exclaimed:

"What am I doing anyway?"

He received no response. There was noone, let alone someone particular, to hear him. But that was not so important.

For you see, he had spent three years looking at that screen, and typing on the keyboard attached to it. He had written about cricket, and Melbourne, and pubs, and cricket, and music, and Melbourne, and travel, and random things, and Melbourne, and cricket.

But on this particular day he couldn't remember why he wrote about all those things, except that, at the time, it seemed like that was what he should be doing.

And so, on this particular day he turned away from his screen, and picked a random novel off of his bookshelf. It was dusty. Undeterred, he brushed the dust off, and read it, cover to cover.

Then he read another.

And another.

And another.

When he'd finished all the books on his shelf, Burgher Russ felt much lighter of spirit, and not just because he'd managed to shed some of his overwrought nomenclature. For he realised that not only did he not not know what he was doing on his humble blogging abode, he didn't particularly know what he was doing in any of his other abodes, real or otherwise. But having read so many books he knew there was but one sure fire way to fix that.

He must leave his room.

Perhaps he read the wrong books, but as no story confined itself to the here, but boated up and steamed down rivers, walked up mountains and parachuted down glaciers, marooned itself on islands and sundered itself under earthquakes, sought fortune in faraway places and found destitution in nearby ones, not to mention constantly, yet unexpectedly, ambiguating amorously, he thought, nor should I.

And so he didn't. That is to say, he virtually didn't.

"Travelling properly is so expensive.", he thought, "And travelling a long way virtually such a bother, in the absence of a good map. Instead, I will visit my neighbours. And their neighbours, and their neighbours' neighbours. And perhaps they can help me find what it is I am doing."

Which is exactly what he did.

Burgher Russell Degnan de Hotham Esq. put on his long coat and his cap -- of which he had but one, and a cricket one at that, but it seemed important to have good head gear for such an important journey; took some chocolate for sustenance, left his room, and headed towards the rabbit hole.

Erica couldn't have named her own little place better. Part Alice, 'tis true, but also as likely to be rushing like the Rabbit, mad like the Hatter, smiling like the Cheshire, and, the Burgher suspected, to tantrum like the Red Queen. But he hadn't seen her temper yet, so she seemed a useful person to go a-questing with. Not least, because she was a minstrel of some renown, a chef -- or at least a collector of recipes, and can knit warm things, if required. Logistics were important in a quest, he thought.

He found her sipping a hot chocolate with soy milk, chatting about her current day and her past days, and some of the days in between. She was big on reminiscing he'd found.

Burgher Russ sauntered over and doffed his cap, marvelling at what a good idea it had been to bring it, given he'd have looked a right fool doffing nothing, and said his good mornings...

A Burgher in Absentia 6th July, 2006 13:27:06   [#] [8 comments] 

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