Boom! Excursions in fantasy land

Featured in

  • Published 20070306
  • ISBN: 9780733320569
  • Extent: 280 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

MIDLAND: RECENTLY I watched a small group of drunks on the pavement across from the Midland library swinging punches at each other. There were four of them standing in a circle, each giving voice to slurred phrases that I understood to be insults only because of the gruff musicality with which they flew from the mouth. One, a fellow in his sixties and too well-dressed to be a street-dweller, drew my attention. He had a certain dignity about him. I admired him as he stood tall, tilted his chin and challenged the man opposite. But then he swung his fist in a fast, wide arc, and the passionate force of it was all too much for him. He lost his balance and landed with a loud slap, flat on the grey cement pavement. The punch hadn’t come within an inch of the other man, who stood tottering and looking as if he might fall over of his own accord at any moment. I wanted to laugh at this impromptu, weekday-afternoon slapstick: the grand, proud swing of the empty punch, the comical self-inflicted damage done by the fall. Part of me wanted to stay and watch the rest of the show, but my initial smile passed quickly.

There was suddenly something about the scene that was not at all funny. I bowed my head to climb into the car. As I started the engine, I took one last look at my man, still spreadeagled on the ground and moaning. No doubt he’d hurt himself. All that pride and energy in the swing, I thought, and for what? The street rang out with the futility of it.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

More from author

Asking the relevant questions

Essay THE FIRST QUESTION. Why European thinking – again? My exchange with Europe goes back to the beginning: my father fled the country of his birth – the...

More from this edition

Destination: Adelaide

EssayIN THE DAYS when seatbelts were optional and parents smoked in the car without a second thought, Adelaide was a destination. We visited my...

The fence

MemoirI AM SITTING on the white wooden-frame and wire fence that runs along one side of our house and separates us from our neighbours...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.