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Peter Bibby and his Bottles of Confidence at Mojos and Some More Reflections on Dirt

The Amber Fresh Chronicles

Peter Bibby and his Bottles of Confidence at Mojos and Some More Reflections on Dirt

Andrew Ryan

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bibby was back again. but that’s not a miracle. this is a miracle: on tuesday night at the soup kitchen a man came in, right at the end of the night. he had a shirt and a vest and washed hair and nice pants and nice shoes and a big fat smile on his face and A JOB. everything has changed, his body said. how many times has this happened the year we’ve been going there? only once.

saturday night: mei and matt and i were walking to mei’s show. we saw a man on the pavement, very scab-ridden and very dirty and very smelly. ‘hiiii amber’ he says. ‘hiiiii jason!’ i say. yes, i take pride in my friendships, especially with the dirtiest people on the crust of the earth, because people only become dirty if they had some big lack of love. if someone pushed them into the dirt as a child. or they had some loose bit in their brain that made them annoying to love. when they get dirty and scabby and full of drug holes they need more and more love to make up for the lack, but they get less and less because they’re covered in a layer of ‘go away’. jason met mei and matt a few weeks before when we were all on the street with my mum too, and everyone did hugging both times. human touch. that’s what we learned in first aid is the thing that actually starts the healing process. the teacher was talking about head injuries and car accidents and heart attacks but she was a legend and reminded us all: human touch is the thing.

jason told us good information too. “all the old men out here are hurt and don’t trust anyone because they’ve learned not to.” it was simple information, the kind that he lives inside every day. who turns to alcohol and drugs? all my friends. who gets turned to dirt by alcohol and drugs? mainly people who learned that the world is mean from when they were tiny.

anyway, you want to hear about a rock show? it was pete’s album launch. at mojos of course. me and sam were running late, because of my indecisions about everything, but we got there, and me, he, and nicholas played one of those very enjoyable sets where you don’t mind if no-one liked it cos you all liked it. it felt special. we played ‘hot date’ because it’s about pete, and some new songs pete hadn’t heard yet, and one of his songs ‘cordial’ where i changed the melody and changed the words but kept ‘mother fucking’ in it for comic effect. it was mainly all for him, cos it was his show and we love him. the set took a little dive at the end, but it didn’t matter.

hamjam were next. i saw them play as a two piece once at bar 459 and it was one of those times when you see people that never do anything wrong play not as perfectly as usual. but that place is hard to play unless you’re doctopus or borty torty (ed: aborted tortoise). 2 piece hamjam is more contemplative. more smooth. anyway, this was the 2-version as perfection. the crowd was pleased, the connoisseurs were pleased. like, it was special. there was a row of beautiful girls dancing at the front, so beautiful i was looking around at all the mens faces to see if they understood that this was one of the greatest sights that could accidentally be before their eyes. (apologies for heteronormativity.) sometimes one of the beautiful girls would turn to me and i’d be overwhelmed. but yes, these two: hamish’s songs which i’ve always loved, and just james ireland, who everyone knows is musically untouchable, effortless. he reminds me of the bboy from jandakot who i loved and went ice skating with once at the rink at cockburn, where no-one i know has ever gone, where it’s all dark and rough and a nice place to hold hands with someone in a tracksuit. this is what instruments they had: guitar, keyboards, drum machines, pedals. everyone in the crowd was turning to one another during the songs and saying ‘this is sooooooo good’, and everyone turned to one another at the end of the show and said ‘that was sooooooo good.’ hamjam, play forever.

hmm. then i got bored and nearly went home. then i went in the bandroom and did ridiculously silly dancing with nick to a whole song, being wild with our limbs each and cracking up laughing at ourselves and one another. i was glad i didn’t leave. i was glad to see my friend be free.

but back to that saturday night for a moment… we were still on our way to mei’s show, when we saw brandon who comes to soup kitchen. he hardly said hello and looked very very sad. he was sitting on the ground with a group of people and one lady said with her hand to come close and sit, so we did. brandon was crying! he said he wanted to kill himself and run out in front of a car. all his things had been stolen earlier in the week. all his good clothes and his bad clothes. ‘come see my friend play at the bird,’ i said, even though i knew it would be too hard. ‘i don’t have any good clothes’ he said, and he was in a dirty tracksuit which is perfectly reasonable clothes to wear at the bird. but i didn’t insist because of the divide. he is used to being outside, asking for money, hanging his head low, and we are used to going into the bird with our heads high and having money for whatever we want. ew. me matt and mei were going to have pasta at a place i’d never been before. ‘it’s not fair!’ my brains insisted.

well, the lady who had become brandon’s mum for the moment offered mei and matt a blanket. they didn’t know what to do with it, neither did i, and then we all realised she was offering it to sit on instead of the ground, because i guess we didn’t look like people that sit on the ground and also because she is used to sharing. she had a snaplock bag of lollies and made sure they went all the way around the circle. this sharing is a special thing that happens with people who have less things, and it’s a very good thing that also sometimes comes to bite them when the sharing is not just lollies. or maybe sharing can never bite you. i dunno.

anyway, we went and had our food at the nice slightly posh place. brandon and his ‘mum’ were just around the corner, at the back door of another bar. every now and then brandon would come past and make a funny joke to us, or pretend to scare me by grabbing my shoulders and all the other clean people would look at him a bit askance because what was he doing round here? and i felt the ‘it’s not fair!’ the most strongly it can be felt, when you are eating a big bowl of delicious pasta in a chair and have a bed to go back to after a glass of wine at the show, and just around the corner is someone who cries just the same as you, has the same feelings but maybe from different experiences and is going home to ~~ NOWHERE ~~ with no bed and now NO BAG because someone stole it.

i always write about the same thing. but it’s just a brief moment in time, and it’s fine. and these are the things i’m trying to work out.

so, pete, nick and johnny played. pete was completely mesmerising. he’s still surprised that strangers know the words to his songs but he writes classics and has “it”. usually whenever pete plays with others i wish he was on his own – this time, no way. they as a three piece were perfect, and when lyndon joined as a four-piece, were perfect. people were talking some of the time, but mainly all the eyes were just on pete. and yeah, people know the words to the songs, people call out the songs they want to hear. “red xf falcon!” they demanded. “cunt!” they demanded. last year in october pete had never been overseas. he talked to me about being scared to go on the plane such a very long way. but now he’s been to america twice and as i write this he’s in that little england place. travelling round with his shirt undone on the back of a flying body of songs which in my imagination looks like the body of falcor from neverending story. he goes country to country now, holding on tight to falcor’s fur, and then sings out the songs. through this process falcor goes to visit many people in many countries in their rooms at night after the show, half-sleeping by their beds (they all have beds) and warming up the room with his big white body. pete was captivating, the other boys held him up. at the end of the night for the last kylie minogue cover hamish joined pete to sing and i juggled heavy whisky glasses behind them on stage til the glasses broke and i had to use emu bitter cans. i’d promised pete i’d juggle, so it had to be done.

my drummer sam had just been to see sufjan stevens play at the opera house in sydney the night before. he was still all aglow and said it had been the most incredible musical experience of his life. this mojos show wasn’t that, but it was very special and very fun and i watched faces of pete’s fans enraptured from the moment he started til the moment he sung the last la-la-la by kylie with ham at his side. blah blah. much love. hope you get a visit by a falcor, and some extra miracle happens so someone has enough money to have a soft place to rest their head.