All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…


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Ten places I’d love to visit…

~1~
Newfoundland, Canada

Newfoundland

Sadly, I didn’t have the opportunity to visit Newfoundland during my Canadian odyssey in 2000. But no matter, it gives me an excuse to return to this magical land to explore this rugged, inspirational province in greater depth and detail.

~2~
Rome, Italy

Rome

I’m jealous of Louise, my first girlfriend, because she’s been to Rome. Grace, too, has spent time in the Italian capital. Up until this point in my life I haven’t had the opportunity. But I’m damn sure that at some point in my life I will. I’m determined of that fact.

~3~
Shetland Islands, Scotland

Shetland Islands

During my month-long sabbatical in Scotland in 1999 I wanted to go to Shetland, but couldn’t afford the ferry cost, given I was a poverty-stricken backpacker. One day, I’m determined to visit these far-flung isles, especially after seeing them light up the screen in the television series Shetland.

~4~
Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu

Like Rome, I have long wished to walk the grounds of Machu Picchu. One day I will make it to Peru to do so. And I will take in the majestic table mountains whilst I’m there! :)

~5~
Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona

During my hospital stay earlier this year my support worker brought me the Lonely Planet guide to Spain to keep me entertained. She knows how important it is for me to visit this cultural, gastronomical, mecca. And like all the other places in this list, I’m sure one day I will!

~6~
Grand Teton National Park, USA

Grand Teton National Park

Sare, a blogging friend, sent me a postcard from this location when she visited it a few years ago. Said postcard takes up pride of place on my fridge, beckoning me to visit every time I go to get some milk. One day I shall.

~7~
Isle of Barra, Scotland

Barra

One of the few islands in the chain that makes up the Outer Hebrides that I haven’t visited. I’ve always wanted to.

~8~
Antarctica

Antarctica

I’ve been fascinated with Antarctica since I was a young wee thing. I think because I’m pathologically drawn to cold, desolate locations.

~9~
Paris

Paris

A city I’ve wanted to visit since it featured prominently in the Doctor Who story City of Death. When Highlander also filmed in this magical city, I was determined to visit it one day. Something I probably should have done whilst living in the UK, as it’s quite a journey from Australia! :)

and

~10~
Shakespeare and Company, Paris

Shakespeare and Company, Paris

And whilst in Paris I would have to visit this quaint, beautiful bookshop. Which is, without question, the only bookshop I have dreamt of visiting.

What about you? What places on Earth would you most like to visit? And why do they burn so bright in your mind?


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Behind the Lens #6: Light (Abstract)

This week’s theme ‘Behind the Lens’ is a combination of photography and memory. Each day a random image will be plucked from my archive and – regardless of how good it is – showcased on the blog along with the story behind the image. Today, an abstract; Light [4].

Light [4] (Port Fairy, February 2006) © Addy

“Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong.
No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first,
and is waiting for it.”
~ Terry Pratchett ~

It should come as no surprise that after arriving in Australia I found myself succumbing to the occasional bout of homesickness. Being thousands of miles from my home, my family and the culture I grew up in was a lot more difficult than I’d imagined. At times I would lose myself in Scottish music; allowing the haunting melodies of fiddle and bodhrán to soothe my aching soul. On other occasions I would transport myself to my homeland though the literature of MacKay Brown, Gray, Stevenson or Burns. Occasionally neither of these strategies would work, so I would head to my home from home, the wee town of Port Fairy on the south-western coast of Victoria.

From the moment I first visited this town in November 2004 it felt like home. The proximity of the ocean reminded me of Inverness, the air recalled Portree, the calming nature transporting my soul to the distant West Coast villages I’d fallen in love with during my backpacking years. Over a number of visits I began to be known around the town; in the hotel I always stayed at I was the writer-photographer working on an urban fantasy novel, in the pub I was the whisky (with no ‘e’) drinker, in the milk bar I was the apple and blackcurrant juice drinker and to everyone else, I was just another citysider who had succumbed to the beauty of their town.

In February 2006 I was in a dark place. Months of depression and stress had taken their toll and the discovery of the affair my girlfriend had been lying about for three years hadn’t helped. I was lost, alone, confused, teetering toward suicide and desperate for home. For five days I retreated to this magical town. One day spent cycling around the local area, another spent staring out to the ocean, across them all throwing myself into the healing power of literature. As I cycled and stared, as I read and pondered, I would take photographs in an effort to pull myself from the abyss. To lift my spirits so I could once again soar toward happiness.

One night, following a nasty panic attack, I took my camera onto the darkened streets and took a series of abstract photographs focussing on light. Perhaps my intention was to distract myself from my thoughts, perhaps it was to focus on something I needed to guide me from the darkness, either way, for a moment it worked.

Of the six photographs that comprise this series, this is my favourite, perfectly capturing the delicate balance of my soul at the time; the light bleeding into the dark, the confusing, interconnected maze of light battling for prominence mirrored the battle my soul fought between life and death.

 


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Behind the Lens #2: Hope

This week’s theme ‘Behind the Lens’ is a combination of photography and memory. Each day a random image will be plucked from my archive and – regardless of how good it is – showcased on the blog along with the story behind the image. Today, the image called hope that marked the end of my photography hobby.

Hope (Port Fairy, November 2005) © Addy

“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”

Alfred Tennyson

This photograph was once described by my girlfriend as boring, uninspiring, monotonous, lacking in any aesthetic value, a complete waste of time and one of the many reasons she believed I should waste no more time on my photography hobby.

She may have been right. There are no curvaceous women, no point of reference, a somewhat obscure composition and little to hold people’s interest other than the seemingly endless sky as it plunges into the ocean below.

But when I look upon this image I see other things.

I see myself sitting on a beach in pitch darkness, a knife held to my wrist, as I contemplated slitting my wrists before wandering into the very section of ocean depicted here.

I see myself picking a stick from a crudely made fire and placing the flames against my skin in a vain attempt to feel something following a breakdown.

I see myself screaming into the night as I realized my life was over. That nothing would ever be the same again, no matter how hard I fought.

Photography is more than capturing a moment in time, space or place. It is a recording of emotion; of memory, dreams and life. When I took this photograph in late 2005 I was beautiful. I had a wonderful girlfriend, the beginnings of a social network, a job I was proud of and a whole life stretched out before me. Had I known what nightmares this beach would hold I doubt I would ever have taken the photograph, for no matter how many times I gaze upon it those hells have eclipsed the original emotion I was trying to record,

The emotion of hope; for my life, my mind and most importantly, for my soul.

A hope that was stolen by the winds of time and a few ill-timed words when I was most vulnerable.


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Behind the Lens #1: Punk Queen Pelican

This week’s theme ‘Behind the Lens’ is a combination of photography and memory. Each day a random image will be plucked from my archive and – regardless of how good it is – showcased on the blog along with the story behind the image. Today, a personal favourite titled Punk Queen Pelican.

Punk Queen Pelican (Philip Island, November 2004) © Addy

“King and Queen of the Pelicans we;
No other Birds so grand we see!
None but we have feet like fins!
With lovely leathery throats and chins!”
Edward Lear

In November 2004 my parents visited Australia for the first time. Having been down under for over two years, my then girlfriend and I put together a comprehensive program of events that would showcase as much of the country as we could. Given my mother’s love of penguins, a trip to Philip Island and their infamous penguin parade was a no brainer.

After two days of exploring Philip Island we were heading back to Melbourne when we came across a number of pelicans being fed. Although not as cute as penguins, there is something majestic about a pelican, so we pulled over to take a closer look.

It was whilst randomly snapping photos of the pelicans that I noticed the woman held in hypnotic rapture by the beautiful avians before her. Immediately my attention was drawn to her hair; the vibrant colours, the spectacular layers, the contrast against the subdued colours of the overcast day. In all honesty I think I wanted to photograph this more than the pelicans!

After lining up the shot, I waited for the pelicans to position themselves into the frame and fired off a few images.

As I was sans-digital at the time, the image was shot on slide film and then processed weeks later. It was only when I was studying each image in my flat did I notice the unfortunate positioning of a pelican’s beak which, given the text emblazoned across the woman’s posterior, gave the image its name for the rest of time.


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101 Things I Want to Do Before I Die

I first wrote this on a beautiful summer’s day just before Christmas 2005 and recently came across it buried in the dregs of the internet. After re-reading it – and remembering the fact I was topless in Edinburgh Gardens whilst writing it (oh, how things change!) – I decided to post it for all to see.

Technically, I can’t call it a Bucket List as it was compiled long before I became aware of that term. So it’s just a list of things I want to do before I head off to explore the undiscovered country.

Note I: Aside from the first five items, the list is in no real order.

Note II: Those crossed out have already been completed!

Note III: Some of the items have been amended or altered given the changes in circumstances between then and now. For example, item (2) was written referencing my then partner – and it would seem a little odd now to have fathering her child as an item on my bucket list.

If anyone feels like giving me a hand with any of the uncompleted items, I’ll reciprocate however/whenever you wish…especially if that item is (1) Anyone who helps me with that will receive infinite thanks and an eternity of favors :p


  1. I know what this is but I can’t write about it here. It’s not illegal in any way, shape or form and is something most people have experienced at some point in time. It’s ridiculously simple, something I’ve wanted for over two decades and no matter how hard I’ve tried to cross this item off the list it still eludes me…and yes, it’s bloody annoying I still haven’t crossed this off!
  2. Become a father
  3. Visit Uluru
  4. Go to university
  5. Be able to talk to people about who I am, what I believe and the things I feel without suffering crippling panic attacks.
  6. See a fictional story I wrote published
    Note: Completed in 2009 when I had a short story published in a magazine.
  7. Write The Ghosts That Haunt Me
    Note: Completed in 2007 (initial first draft) to 2009 (final draft)
  8. Be able to walk into a bookstore and purchase a copy of The Ghosts That Haunt Me and say to the cashier “I wrote that” with a stupid grin on my face!
  9. Write and direct a film version of The Ghosts That Haunt Me.
  10. Visit the Shetland Islands
  11. Do a nudie run
    Note: Completed in 2007 courtesy of a manic fuelled desire to win a bet Sammi posed.
  12. To be able to say I have a best friend
  13. Visit Tasmania
  14. Read Jane Eyre
    Note: Completed in 2008, back when I had the ability to focus on reading.
  15. Create a time-machine and travel back in time to hang out on Glenelg Beach 26 January 1966, so I can discover what happened to the Beaumont Children.
  16. Perform one of my public renditions of Shakespeare with someone else reading a role.
  17. Become a citizen of Australia.
  18. Again, I apologise for the mystery, but I can’t talk about this one as it’s a companion to item (1)
  19. Adapt and direct a film version of Macbeth.
  20. Have a pet turtle, whom I shall name Magnus
  21. Visit South America (specifically the Incan Pyramids)
  22. Star in an episode of Doctor Who
  23. See a live Runrig concert.
  24. Reconnect with my Canadian friends.
  25. Once more, I can’t talk about this one either as it’s (once more) connected to item (1)
    Note: Completed in Adelaide, 2007 and Glasgow, 2008.
  26. Visit Tasmania
  27. See my sister again
    Note: Completed in July 2007 when my sister came to Melbourne following a suicide attempt. Probably the worst thing that could have happened to me given all I was going through at the time!
  28. See my sister reach a healthy, stable state where she can live a ‘normal’ life and achieve all her dreams.
  29. Visit Antarctica
  30. Meet Colin Hay (at the time my favourite singer, now, my second favourite singer)
    Note: Completed in March 2006 at the Port Fairy Folk Festivalwhen he signed my favourite album of his (Company of Strangers) and then again a few weeks later when he played a gig in Melbourne.

    Item 30…Completed 2006!

  31. Cuddle a wombat
    Note: Completed sometime in 2010 whilst homeless. There was a mini Aussie animal petting zoo set up in Federation Square so I stole the opportunity.
  32. Live for a year in the Outer Hebrides, writing a book about my experience. Possibly with my pet turtle (a la Ring of Bright Water)
  33. Have an exhibition showcasing my photography in a gallery.
  34. Create a time machine and journey back to Scotland, 1745.
  35. Obtain a doctorate so I can officially (and somewhat arrogantly) nickname myself ‘The Doctor’ :p
  36. Spend the day on a nude beach!
  37. Hike the West Highland Way.
  38. Karaoke Holding Out For a Hero with a group of friends
  39. Definitively prove the existence of the Loch Ness Monster.
  40. Become Grace’s friend.
    Note: Completed 2006. Then I royally screwed up in 2008. Closest I ever came to item (59).
  41. Learn how to drive.
  42. Travel the Trans-Siberian Railway
  43. Travel the Gahn Railway (Adelaide to Darwin)
  44. Travel the Indian Pacific Railway  (Sydney to Perth)
  45. Again, this one is connected to item (1). Sorry.
  46. As is this one! Bigger apology!
  47. Visit every state in Australia.
  48. Overcome my mental health issues so I can live a normal, productive life.
  49. Be a member of a regular Pub Trivia Team
  50. Undertake a ‘silly boy’s project’ and then write a book about my adventure!
  51. Be the recipient of a surprise birthday party
  52. Cycle the Bay in a Day
  53. Climb Ben Nevis
  54. Visit Sydney
    Note: Completed in June 2008. Seeing the Opera House and Harbor Bridge was awesome. As was the National Gallery. Aside from this, I’m not a huge fan of this city.

    Item 54… Completed 2008

  55. Attend a High School Reunion and not be seen as a pointless failure in life!
  56. Cycle across the Nullabor
  57. Hug Toni Pearen.
  58. Live to see the day when same-sex couples can marry legally in Australia
  59. Be someone’s “friend” for at least three years!
  60. Write a non-fictional book about Scottish folk and folklore.
  61. Learn how to play the fiddle
  62. See an Otter in the wild
    Note: Completed in April 2008 when I saw one casually swimming down the river Ness. I immediately thought of my first girlfriend, who always wanted to see an otter in the wild.

    Item 62…Completed 2008

  63. Create a time machine and journey back to Caldicot, 1993 and give myself a good beating for being such a shy, anxiety prone pillock!
  64. Have my own radio show on 3RRR
  65. Write, produce and direct a feature film and then have it featured at the MIFF.
  66. Establish the website I’ve had in mind for three years relating to item (1)
  67. Karaoke Paradise by the Dashboard Light with a friend.
  68. Fly around the world on the back of a Dragon.
  69. Live to see the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who!
    Note: Completed November 2013 when I watched ‘The Day of the Doctor’ worldwide simulcast.
  70. Read a Patrick White novel
    Note: Completed April/May 2012 when I borrowed Voss and A Fringe of Leaves from the library.
  71. Create, write and edit a fanzine style publication featuring fiction, poetry, non-fiction and photography.
  72. Hug David Tennant!
  73. Spend some time lurking around that bookstore in Paris you’ve always dreamed about!
  74. Visit Spain and learn how to salsa whilst there.
  75. Write travel book(s) about my time backpacking, calling them “A Shy Guy in…[country]”
  76. Learn how to tango
    Note: Completed in Adelaide, 2007 whilst manic. And yes, I was pretty darned awesome at it!
  77. See the musical Spamalot
    Note: Completed in April 2008 when I spent a couple of nights in London. Alan Dale played King Arthur!
  78. Adapt and direct a version of the book The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty
  79. Become owner of my own Backpacker Hostel.
  80. Meet Charles De Lint.
  81. Slap Louise’s brother for being an arrogant, self-absorbed, pretentious prick.
  82. Visit Luxembourg. Just so I can say I’ve been there!
  83. Swim with sea turtles
  84. Be able to look at myself in the mirror and not vomit (curse my body image issues!)
  85. Read Death in Brunswick
  86. Establish my own independent publishing company.
  87. Realize my business plan for the café/bar/shop business you’ve been working on for years!
  88. Publish a photography book celebrating the female form (tasteful and creative a la Bernadine, not cheesy soft-core)
  89. Write a short story collection related to item (1) and have it published for people to enjoy!
  90. See my name published in a newspaper
    Note: Completed in 2002 when I had a letter published, and then on several occasions until 2009.
  91. Run the London Marathon
  92. Introduce Australia to the joys (if not health benefits) of sausages in batter!
  93. Chill out in Rome
  94. Watch a live snooker match
    Note: Completed in February 2008 when I spent a day at the Welsh Open in Newport, South Wales. First match watched was the brilliant Ronnie O’Sullivan. Second match, Mark Williams. Great fun!

    Item 94…Completed 2008

  95. Take my daughter – upon completion of (2) – on a trip around Scotland to show her how beautiful, varied and amazing the country and its history really are!
  96. Visit Newfoundland
  97. Ride an elephant whilst dressed as Indiana Jones circa Temple of Doom
  98. Learn how to swim with my eyes open.
  99. Hug Audrey Hepburn (may have to utilize the time-machine for this one!)
  100. Make a positive difference to someone’s life.
    Note: Completed in March 2015 when I received an email from someone who wishes to remain anonymous asking me to tick this item off the list. Plus, I believe I’ve helped a number of people by writing this blog, thus making a positive different to their lives. If you disagree, please contact me and let me know! :p
  101. Wear a kilt (in the traditional fashion) to a public event!
    Note: Completed in April 2008 when my brother and sister-in-law allowed me to wear one at their wedding. Not sure if they knew I was ‘traditional’ beneath the kilt though…ahh well, they do now!