Friday 1 June 2012

Paddock Paradise

The Crushed team have asked a few of our close friends to guest blog a response to our play. Our final guest blogger was slated to be posted last Monday. The post was written by the gorgeous, talented, creative, writer and Crushed dramaturg Erin Thomas, who unexpectedly passed away on Sunday the 27th of May. Her family and friends have requested that we go ahead and post her blog as planned. Erin was excited about writing this piece and sent me a multiple emails full of ideas and scribblings. The last time I saw her, she delighted in showing me photos of her sixteen-year-old self. She particularly loved the one of her in her torn jeans and cherry red docs reading Crime and Punishment (I think… I was too busy enjoying the image of her reading European literature in the middle of the bush.) Erin’s blog is a response to the themes in the play of growing up in the country, (Erin was from Tamworth), and having a place like the scablands to hang out in as a teenager…

‘I was dragged kicking and screaming to the school dance. It was at the local All Boys Agricultural School and my girlfriends were desperate to go.

I was a little dubious as I knew some of the boys from the Agricultural School… Actually, I was convinced it was going to be awful and that there would most likely be some minor sexual harassment on the dance floor.

And then we walked in… There were hay bales placed in decorative piles, the boys were wearing school uniforms and worse, worst of all, country music was playing.

That was the beginning and the end of our indoor group socialising. From then on in – we took it outside.

Cut to later that year…

I’m at a ‘house’ party, (and by house I mean I am standing in a paddock). I am standing around with the same boys from said Agricultural School and the potential for minor sexual harassment has now crossed over into reality.

There is nothing quite so romantic as getting felt up in a paddock behind a cow shed while the temperature hits an extreme high of four degrees.  

When people think of growing up in the country, I am sure they imagine horse riding, milking cows and breathing a lot of fresh air, but for me, I look back and think of riding illegally in cars, getting drunk in paddocks, smoking weed in public parks and sleeping in (or getting felt up behind) shearing sheds.

For someone who grew up ‘in town,’ I sure did spend a lot of time in the great outdoors (well… paddocks). We camped without a tent, lay by fires, wrapped ourselves up in sleeping bags or sat around drinking goon when we’d told our parents we’d gone to the movies.

During Year 12, my entire year camped out on the Sports Captain’s paddock. Think ninety teenagers, several utes, a few tents, bolts of tarpaulin and me trying desperately to keep warm in a sleeping bag on the wet ground.

Even though we constantly complained that living in the country was boring and there was nothing to do, we entertained ourselves by wandering through the bush or sitting by campfires watching shooting stars or kissing that cute boy we fancied.

Despite all that time spent freezing my proverbial off in paddocks, I wouldn’t trade any of it. Paddocks became something of a place for us, our place. A place to explore, to conquer, to escape into…

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