Come over to the window, my little darling . . .

It is 4:44.

The balconies of the beach houses across the road are splashed with gold, gold, gold;
‘giving it up, giving it up, giving it up, for Sunset Dreaming’.

Rio. Week 1. My last Olympiad? Surely. I had thought London in 2012 my last. Still here, like ex pat writer and fellow COPD sufferer Clive James. He hoped, he said, to have enough puff to see a Japanese Maple flower in his daughter’s English garden in spring. He has lived on another year while others have hurried by and disappeared into that long, long silence.


Midget Farrelly, 1944-2016.

He was, in 1964, the first ever Australian world surfing champion, and, until his death last week aged 71, Midget (Bernard) Farrelly was a fixture on Sydney’s northern beaches where surfers stood sentinel at news of his passing. Locals like veteran journalist Mike Carlton say they can’t imagine the beach without Midget. He was still riding big old 16 foot hollow boards, till he fell off the earth.  Well played.

My lungs are officially 90 so I’m retired and Frances has stopped working in her mid 50s to have as much time together as we can.  We are living the lives we might have lived in our 70s had we both stayed well. Who knows?


We always wanted to binge watch the Olympics while everybody else went to work and school.

I realise with a jolt  (my God that  Netherlands runner Dafne Schippers [pictured] is an Amazon) that every four long years is the only time we see women’s sport treated on a par with men’s sport. It is liberating and disorientating, maddening and heady. Every female body type, briefly celebrated, disappears for another 1500 days. The artistic gymnast, the trap shooter, the volleyball and water polo sides,  the pole vaulters,  divers, cyclists,  the soccer and rugby players, the equestrians, weightlifters, discus throwers, high jumpers, sprinters, walkers and riders—poof—all gone.  Wallpapered over by footy players.

And the world doesn’t do stuff much, as a world, does it?  In Sci Fi, the star nations are always holding big glitzy space-wide conventions. We Earthlings usually just get together for War. The first Olympics I remember watching were the 1972 Munich Games. The crack and split of hate that announced itself  in a massacre of athletes all this time along, still a shocking recollection. ‘Die Heiteren Spiele’ or ‘the Cheerful Games’  as was the Munich motto!  End of an innocence of sorts for me.  Also the year I started smoking.

Counting off the big world things that have happened in my life, in no particular order,  I think of the Berlin Wall coming down, JFK, Martin Luther King and Bobby  getting shot, Janis Joplin dying, Feminism, the Titanic giving up her secret hiding place, the freeing of Nelson Mandela, the moon landing,  the Australian government’s apology to Aborigines,  Obama’s election,  and Peace in Ireland after the Troubles.

I can’t quote chapter and verse but I once found evidence the peace process in Ireland was assisted by  a lack of testosterone  among the main power brokers, who were grandparents as well as stakeholders. And of course a big impetus for peace had come from Irish women themselves who were fed up  with burying their menfolk and watching their kids pick up rocks instead of books.



So long . . . Leonard Cohen and his muse,  the late Marianne Ihlen and her son on Hydra in the 1960s.

‘Come over to the window, my little darling, / I’d like to try to read your palm. / I used to think I was some kind of Gypsy boy / before I let you take me home.’

Leonard Cohen wrote a goodbye letter to his muse and one-time lover Marianne Ihlen shortly before her death from leukemia on July 29. The lovers met in Greece in the 1960s and lived together for nearly a decade, with Marianne  inspiring the songs, ‘So Long Marianne’, ‘Bird On a Wire’ and ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’.

On her deathbed last month in Norway, Marianne received the following letter from 81 year-old Leonard Cohen:

“Well Marianne, it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon. Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine. And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and for your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that. But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey. Goodbye old friend. Endless love, see you down the road.”


6 thoughts on “Come over to the window, my little darling . . .

  1. Some rich people-memories and respects there, Barb. Wound up with the raincoat’s fine saxophone and ironies and flawed / elevated humanity and Jennifer’s appropriately contemplative beautiful voice.
    Leonard’s a long favourite poet-songster – i hear his ‘follow you soon’ to Marianne can be taken literally. Your voice, his, humanity’s voice poignant with impending news – while you / we savour the days and each’s waking mornings. Holding the tension, like a water boatman skating the surface of that pond. Thank you. You Olympic-binger, truth-teller, fond rememberer, jazz connoiseur, saxophonist of soul … You! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • ‘Holding the tension, like a water boatman skating the surface of that pond.’


      The birds they sang
      at the break of day
      Start again
      I heard them say
      Don’t dwell on what
      has passed away
      or what is yet to be.

      Ah the wars they will
      be fought again
      The holy dove
      She will be caught again
      bought and sold
      and bought again
      the dove is never free.

      Ring the bells that still can ring
      Forget your perfect offering
      There is a crack in everything
      That’s how the light gets in.

      Thank you, Tim.


  2. ‘Endless love, see you down the road …’

    I did not know that she had died, and the letter you have posted here from Cohen brought tears to my eyes.

    I am going South to Melbourne in a couple of weeks, to spend a little time with my old lover who has suffered a few blows of late, and whose time – like mine – is now no longer endless Summer.

    In no particular order, the music room at LaTrobe University, my old sheepskin coat covering us both on a cold, cold beach, the clifftop at Cape Paterson, a dingy Chinese Cafe in Little Bourke Street, the magnificent old Citroen with the gear lever in the dashboard that kept breaking down, a Mary Quant lipstick in rude pink that I still have …

    Thank you, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You probably know that expat writers George Johnston and Chairman Clift sweetened Leonard’s nights on Hydra. He wrote of the pair, that they were his best friends and that, “the Australians drank more than other people, they wrote more, they got sick more, they got well more, they cursed more, they blessed more, and they helped a great deal more. They were an inspiration.”

      The red headed baby girl Chairman left behind blossomed into a marvellous woman, a teacher who was also a very decent painter. She only found out she was the daughter of a famous Australian writer when she was able to search adoption records as an adult.

      She liked pink lipstick.

      Imagine finding out your Mum hung out with Leonard Cohen on Hydra in the 60s while he strummed those immortal bars before singing, ‘Suzanne takes you down to her place by the river . . .’

      Bring us back a story from Melbourne, Glow.

      It has started well: An old lover. A beaker or two. Nice nosh. The smell of leather and the beat of the wipers as the car’s heater warms you . . . Kindness. Memories. Laughter. You will take him those gifts.


    • Am moved to comment on the sublime opening….
      “I am going South to Melbourne in a couple of weeks, to spend a little time with my old lover…”.

      If that’s not a proem then I don’t know what is…and as if that were not enough I then saw your delicate inventory of memories….gathered like the stones in the pocket of a boy, retrieved and placed before us, a bejeweled midden, an endeared index, of all that once was.

      I turned my eyes and was traveled back to a grey wet afternoon in the backseat of a hopelessly rusted navy VW fastback, soundtracked by the dull cadence of Barbara’s “beat[ing]…wipers”.

      Geeeez I liked her.
      I thought myself in love.
      She looked like this…..and to me so much more beautiful…
      so much more.

      It ended, as they all do, badly.
      But boy o boy, what memories!
      Thank you both, again, for this mid morn hallucination.
      “take him those gifts”
      Indeed ’99, indeed.

      Best wishes Glow, safe and elegant travels.


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