Good Reading : May 2008
enjoyed striding out with it in one hand, my pipe in the other. In the cooler months I wore a cardigan, which completed the picture. I probably looked a little like PG Wodehouse out for a stroll. I have always experienced a certain level of infir mity too, which has given me the premature feeling of seniority. I’ve had a funny tummy since boyhood and have often had to modulate my diet, eating bland food, the way an older person might. In a sense this has prepared me better for the onset of middle age, when most people first begin to feel such infirmity. I have lived with it for years, however, so it’s really no bother at all. I have been mistaken for a maturer person at times too.When I was twenty-three I did, indeed, look twenty-three but was often mistaken for a much older man by the readers of the provincial newspaper I worked for at the time. I remember meeting someone who often read my articles only to find they were quite taken aback by my apparent youth. ‘I thought you would be much older,’ I was told. ‘You write like a much older man.’ I was unsure whether this was a compliment or not. Looking back, I think the tone of my work at that time may have had something to do with the fact that I was dabbling in Anglicanism, a denomination for the aged if ever there was one. But toying with decrepitude when young is just something poets do naturally because, let’s face it, many haven’t actually made it to an advanced age. Raging against the dying of the light, many were snuffed out before their time. As a poet I appreciate that it is necessary to pre-empt old age and to anticipate it for literary purposes. Now that I am almost in sight of it though, I find I am a little taken aback by the prospect. Being old before my time was all well and good when I was young, but the prospect of actually reaching an advanced age is less appealing. At least I am prepared for it. I have been rehearsing for a lifetime for my role as a crusty old guy. Bah, humbug. Phil Brown was born in Maitland, New South Wales, on 9 October 1956. He lived a peripatetic existence as a child, due to his father’s work as a civil engineering contractor. In 1963 the Brown family moved to Hong Kong where they lived until 1970. Phil has lived most of his adult life in Queensland and now resides in Brisbane with his wife, Sandra McLean, and son, Hamish. He has produced two books of poetry: Plastic Parables and An Accident in the Evening; and two humorous memoirs: Travels with My Angst and Any Guru Will Do, both published by UQP. He’s not getting any younger. This is an extract from Growing Old (Dis)gracefully, edited by Ross Fitzgerald and Lyndal Moor, published by ABC Books, rrp $35.00. DOROTHY HEARST’S new Wolf Chronicles You’ve been conned! Great Literary Hoaxes WRITING LIFE A personal journey to Prague Read about Debra Adelaide’s new novel NEXT ISSUE ON SALE 30 MAY ORDER YOUR COPY NOW!