Outlawing The Moon.

I first heard of Hugh MacLeod late one evening on my front terrace in North Melbourne.

A wheelchair bound man had been struggling to mount his chair up and in to the Town Hall Hotel late one night on Errol Street. My friends Tim and Finn (funny, I know) had lurched out of their chairs to help the man up and in to the pub.

It was then that he asked if he could join our table.

We became fast friends the four of us and I was intrigued to learn that his life as a seated man had only began some 18 months prior as a result of the sudden onset of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

He was often in a lot of pain and as such liked to drink a lot of scotch and smoke a lot of dope. He worked in advertising and had a great belly full of stories and anecdotes about the world of words and the corporate sector.

I’d often invite he and The Boys around for dinner and we all took delightful advantage of his maxi-taxi cab charge from time to time. Tim liked souping up his chair. Taking it a part and then reassembling it. I liked serving things on big white platters.

Late one evening, on my  front terrace, Tim, Finn and I were serenading he and the bushy tailed possums with guitars and song when he asked me if I’d ever heard of Hugh MacLeod and his gapingvoid website.

I hadn’t.

He explained the concept to me and returned the following day with a print out of MacLeod’s free online book about retaining ones creativity within the corporate canopy, i.e. How to make a living — and– write books.

I read the entire print out that evening in the bath tub and have been a devoted convert ever since.

He and I spent a large part of my remaining time in Melbourne hanging out together.

A small collective of what we liked to think of as highbrow-underground-super-intelligence would gather regularly in cafes and pubs to argue, complete crosswords (in entirety) and make a certain kind of magic we were convinced was just ours to keep.

He’d often ask me why I wasn’t famous and I’d often laugh. We’d talk endlessly about the various bullshit fucking treatments he had to undergo to keep all his medical conditions in check: Blood letting, injections in to eyeballs, transfusions, knee surgeries and a miriad of alternative therapies to soften the blow.

I’d line his tummy with ginger anytime he had a transfusion and sometime we’d just sit silently for hours, listening to music, he, waiting for the feeling to pass.

I lost count of the times Tim, Finn and I would carry him up flights of stairs so he could have a better view. He used to tell me I was pretty strong for a girl. I used to tell him to refill my glass.

I began writing my own little quips and sketching infant-like comics on the back of business cards. This pleased him. I was working on my novel as a Masters in Creative Media at the time and used Hugh MacLeod as an example of greatness in my Writer & Publication tutorial.

I was also working as a Forensic Report Writer for a Psychiatrist on Collins Street  and found myself churning out these little cards with an automated frequency that was surprising even me.

I think the nature of the work was getting me down, as the nature of a lot of the work I have done over the years often does. It was depressing writing about paedophiles and domestic violence cases all day, every day. The cards were an escape. A comedic reprieve. Something I was really proud of at the end of the day. I’d often swing by Tim’s place and present him with my daily sweats. He often seemed entertained and would steal them while I wasn’t looking. Which is pretty cute, come to think of it.

Things turned pear-shaped however when his drinking got to be a little bit more than recreational. We’d often have to chaperone him home, pick up his up-turned chair that he’d tip over after a few too many. I was beginning to wonder if I was The Friend or The Babysitter. I expressed as much to him and he admitted that he wasn’t coping with this whole caged-bird arrangement life had thrown him. I suggested he see my therapist. I recommended coming along to Bikram with me. I began inviting him over for sober dinners. I’d read him excerpts of my novel, detailing the specifics of my own struggles with my health over the years. Still, the chaos reined supreme and I began to wonder how things would inevitably climax.

And climax they did.

It was late one night when I was wheeling him home after a rather messy evening (on his part) at The Townie. I’d wished him a good nights sleep when he grabbed my arm and insisted that he would pay me for sex.


We never hung out again after that. The whole fucking trajectory had left me feeling pretty naive and a lot like old, chewed gum.

We bumped in to each other on the street a couple of times before I left Melbourne and I was always cordial and he was always aware of how much the distance was continuing to grow.

That was three or so years ago now. And recently I’ve begun thinking about him a lot more. Wondering where he is. How he’s doing. If he’s still in his chair.

I keep a text message saved in to my phone that he wrote me years ago. I read it any time I’m feeling like I’m not very good at life. It’s a beautiful text message, personal and gracious. It makes me sad to think of my sexuality as some sort of currency though and I still feel stupid every time I remember that night.

Anyway, my sister emailed me this morning, thanking me for having her stay last night and felt, in light of what we’d spent the evening discussing, that this Hugh MacLeod comic was a perfect fit for me right now:

And it is.

Which reminds me… I might and try and track him down again. See if he’s on Facebook or sumfink.


“In dreams

the truth is learned

that all good works

are done

in the absence of a caress.”

Leonard Cohen.


All images c. Hugh MacLeod: http://www.gapingvoid.com

with the exception of all the other shit, which is mine.

2 Responses to “Outlawing The Moon.”
  1. Nova says:

    oh luv. i felt sad reading this…for you, and him. him, because i wondered if he thought that might be the only way you’d be “interested”…and you…well, that part is obvious. N xx

  2. Leanne Moffat says:

    Lady, you have moved me. What a beautiful, well written, thoughtful essay. Thank you. I too, have been in a similar position. You have expressed it very well.

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