You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio

Artwork: Trish Jean

Pride of place overlooking the goings on in the music corner at The Writer Wrest is Dad's old transistor radio
Pride of place overlooking the goings on in the music corner at The Writer Wrest is Dad’s old transistor radio

When I was kid, hot summers were in part caught in a public service office, up a long flight of external stairs, down which my father would sometimes come to meet our anticipation as we waited in the kombi van in the late afternoon. Part of summer played through the transistor radio. My Dad would buy me little white transistor radios, and like most things truly precious to me, I would take it everywhere, I would lose or break it and my parents would replace it. There was an ulterior motive, which took the summer to the interior…my Dad would borrow the radio to take to work so he could listen to the cricket.

He also had a black transistor radio which he carted into the bathroom every morning so he could listen to the news in peace. I came to love hearing the ABC  music theme. I still have that transistor radio, and though it doesn’t work any more, I like having it on the shelf. You can hear that theme music, called  Majestic Fanfare by clicking here where you’ll find the short and long versions. Doesn’t music carry memories well?

Tonight I’m tidying up my itunes…yes a truly inane exercise, but I am trying to improve my electronic storage habits and also create more space – loving the de-cluttering! It was easy to sit and do in front of Fishing for Salmon in the Yemen, and now that my sisters, who are here visiting at The Writers Wrest have gone to bed, I’m listening to k.d. lang singing Joni Mitchell and Joni Mitchell singing Joni Mitchell. It’s her song You Turn Me On, I’m A Radio that made me think of transistors…my Dad’s black one, my white ones, and the one that I recently created as part of an artwork entitled The Customary Conversations of the Heart.

It’s also reminded me of the time I decided spontaneously at 4pm on a Friday to drive from Canberra to Red Cliffs (near Mildura in Victoria) for the weekend to stay with my Grandmother. It’s over 800 kms (around 9 hours driving) I hadn’t really counted on how tired I’d be after a full week of work, and I hadn’t counted on my cassette players (there were two in the old celica) not working.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 11.19.17 pm

So I was stuck with the radio. And as I got further into the middle of nowhere and into the middle of the night it was only ABC’s Radio National that I could tune into. That was okay…until I ended up switching from New South Wales to South Australia…which is half an hour behind…which means I had to listen to the same program twice over. Fortunately it was about Joni Mitchell and I went from knowing Big Yellow Taxi to knowing a lot more and becoming a big fan!

It’s a busy time at The Writers Wrest. My sisters are visiting until Tuesday, I have a friend who’s staying for a few months (though he’s home in Canberra for the weekend) and my friend Rach is a sometimes housemate and is likely to turn up Sunday or Monday night. So I’ve given up my bedroom to the girls, Darren has the Library and I’ve bunked in with the cat in the Cabin. The Cabin is where the bunks are that cater to my godsons when they visit, to nieces and nephews, to friends on girls weekends and to Rachel when she comes by. It’s kind of nice tucked up with a trundle bed below me and the top bunk above. It is like my childhood (there are 8 kids in my family…that required bunk beds) but I’m like Gulliver. It’s also making me think about journeys.

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 11.32.10 pmThere’s the journeys into our own stories, like my transistor times. And there’s the stories of others and tonight the Cabin is making me think of boats. I’m remembering He Went With Vasco Da Gama, a favourite tale of discovery that also makes me think of maps, which I also love! A child’s perspective of discovery and for me it planted the seed of voyaging to Portugal, (Da Gama was a Portugese explorer), something I’d still like to do. I’m also in mind of the occupants of other cabins on ships of discovery. So many stories…some of which await me on my bookshelves.

I’m actually doing Acumen’s Storytelling for Change free online course at the moment. It’s part of the way in which I’m supporting a friend’s citizen led adventure, The 10 City Bridge Run, part of which is putting together a book called Life Bridges. Some friends have joined us in doing the course and we’ve all really enjoyed pondering the role of storytelling for ourselves in our lives and for what purpose we use stories, and how others use them for change. It’s quite empowering for people to be able to tell their story. Sometimes it’s about being able to support others to make their story a reality or to share that story.

Which kind of brings me back around full circle to transistor radios and the picture at the top of this blog post…The Customary Conversations of the Heart is an instillation art work that invites people to contribute to the conversations by writing on a postcard and lodging it in the “heart vessel” (the set of draws you can see below). It’s at the Peacock Gallery until September 5th and I know there’s some events around the Gallery between now and then so I hope it gets lots of engagement, though at the launch people didn’t look convinced that they were invited to touch the art work and contribute to it! At any rate I’ve got lots of requests for copies of the 6 different postcards and people are suggesting I find a way to continue to engage people, perhaps through social media, so we’ll see what emerges.

heart vessel

The cat’s crawled out of the Cabin…probably wondering why we are sleeping on a bunk bed and wondering what other options there are with other slumbering bodies…or is she chasing the obligatory rats on our ship (I don’t really have rats, or even mice…probably more due to the dogs than the cat, she’s good at catching things that don’t move)? At any rate, I should try and catch more of that elusive sleep.

In the meantime,  enjoy the lyrics of You Turn Me On, I’m A Radio…and when you’ve finished, can I recommend a loud rendition of k.d. singing Joni’s A Case of You?! A fave road trip song!

Happy weekend….kick off the sand flies, honey..tune on in, life’s on offer.

You Turn Me On, I’m A Radio

(Joni Mitchell)

If you’re driving into town
With a dark cloud above you
Dial in the number
Who’s bound to love you
Oh honey you turn me on

I’m a radio
I’m a country station
I’m a little bit corny
I’m a wild wood flower

Waving for you
Broadcasting tower
Waving for you
And I’m sending you out
This signal here
I hope you can pick it up
Loud and clear
I know you don’t like weak women

You get bored so easily
And you don’t like strong women
‘Cause they’re hip to your tricks
It’s been dirty for dirty
Down the line
But you know

I come when you whistle
When you’re loving and kind
But if you’ve got too many doubts
If there’s no good reception for me
Then tune me out, ’cause honey

Who needs the static
It hurts the head
And you wind up cracking
And the day goes dismal
From “Breakfast Barney”
To the sign-off prayer

What a sorry face you get to wear
I’m going to tell you again now
If you’re still listening there
If you’ve driving into town
With a dark cloud above you

Dial in the number
Who’s bound to love you
If you’re lying on the beach
With the transistor going
Kick off the sand flies honey
The love’s still flowing
If your head says forget it
But you’re heart’s still smoking
Call me at the station
The lines are open


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