Down & under – Explanations and excuses

“Never apologise, never explain”. Or so they say…but I’m sorry, I feel that without a small introduction, what follows may read like the rantings of a man slowly going mad on the other side of the world. Actually maybe that’s a better title for this whole saga.

Let me at least set the scene…
I was in Melbourne Australia and I decided that a break from the world of music and musicians would be a good thing for the soul, so I dug out an old sous-chef CV and, blissfully unaware of the world I was about to drop into, I signed up, to what exactly I wasn’t sure, but I was given a hat and some knives so it was probably quite cool. It took me about 5 minutes on the job to realise that I was far from home in all senses of the word.

I cooked and slaved for fashion victims, for festival goers, for sports fans, for dead people (never explain), for horsey types, celebrities with a cheese fixation and for Japanese school children.
It didn’t take long for my sanity to start unraveling so to keep a vague handle on things I decided to justify the whole escapade by telling myself that I was getting material for books, for songs; I was eavesdropping, collecting anecdotes, building up a stock of stories. Yeah that’s what I was doing! Just like George Orwell had done nearly a hundred years earlier. They said this was 21st century Australia but they weren’t fooling anyone. There was still squalor, cockroaches, mouse shit in the peppercorns, unidentified thickening agents in the mushroom soup, a rat called Basil in the fridge unit and people who’d been shouted at for so long they passed the abuse on down the line.

But I am most definitely not the centre of these tales; that place is taken up by the colourful cast of characters I met along the way, most of them just as lost and in need of a good reason why they were doing this as I was. And then there were those who were just utter bastards. I watched and listened long enough to figure out that much.

So yes, I admit it. I was a spy. If you’ve worked in hospitality in Melbourne over the last few years, you should be sweating. Remember me? I was the new recruit. I was the sous-chef quietly chopping parsley in the corner, I was the recently arrived wine waiter with the foreign accent, I was the person you told your hard-luck story to on the coach back to the city after a day cooking lamb kebabs for festival goers. I was listening to every word you said. You all became characters in stories and lines in my songs.

Welcome to my kitchen drama.

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