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My brother at his very best

“It is difficult to describe my brother’s comic riffs without his understated expression, metronome nods, and low, wry voice. That and a bus ticket, he would drawl, will get you to Neutral Bay. Where my laugh is an octave played by Chopin, his was remarkable: from this solid, heavy-jawed man, laughter like a pumping garden hose suddenly freed from the sprinkler – undulating, wildly glittering through the bluest air. My brother’s laugh was unexpected, sheer, and ravishing and in it, he was liberated. Just watch me fly! The properties of his laugh were magical, but also used to disguise truth. My brother used laughter as a kind of insulation or substitute for emotional revelation. Like that last email he sent his friend, it was part of a greater insistence that all was fine when it was not. I pressed him to acknowledge hurts. Sometimes he allowed pain to surface. In razor-grabs, he expressed feelings denied him. The speed and compression of these admissions suggested a fear of judgment.”

- from The Eclipse, A Memoir of Suicide

This photograph of Gianluca in the old Macquarie Bank headquarters on Bond Street just arrived in my inbox from an old workmate of his. It is the most adorable picture of him ever taken – on the cusp of giggling, the very soul of mischief.

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“In this country of billboards covered in tits”

Disgust / arousal triggered by breastfeeding is one of the byproducts of living in a culture in which every part of a woman’s body is sexualised commodified fetishised. The ferocity of Hollie McNish‘s Embarrassed brought me to tears because I experienced all of it when breastfeeding. Heavily pregnant and with a hammering heart, I also remember being catcalled – pornographic terms – by men in a slowing truck on an isolated road. That fear of being raped – the vulnerability – was unlike anything I’d ever known: I was shaking. On my return home, I wept.

Male suicide in Britain / grief

“One of the things that made me angry after my brother’s death was the insistent perception of him as ‘mentally ill’ on the basis of his final choice. My brother was philosophically impaired, emotionally paralysed and stubborn, but he was not mentally ill. Mental illness suggests some kind of biological maladjustment such as that caused by injury or drug-induced chemical imbalances, whereas my brother, like many male suicides I have known, reacted normally to an abnormal situation. My brother felt he could not show the suffering that revealed him as sensitive; to do so would have threatened his gender status. It was easier for him to die.”

- from my piece about my brother’s suicide in today’s Telegraph (UK)

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