Paratalk? or Torque

Suzie Eisfelder

This week Paratalk? or Torque comes to you from The Big Issue. A weekly magazine with really fabulous articles or stories. This publication supports many people who may be homeless, marginalised or disadvantaged. When you buy a copy of The Big Issue from a street seller fifty percent of your purchase goes directly to the seller. Knowing that I do something I wouldn’t do in a regular shop and I round the purchase price up so I don’t need to get change. I figure that’s an extra dollar in their pocket and they’ll put that to good use. I know I’m not the only one to do this and each dollar adds up. Although when I check their website I notice some of the sellers might have contactless payment facilities.

Today’s paragraph comes from The Big Issue Fiction Edition published on the 9th August 2019. It has 14 wonderful short stories by some really talented authors. Reading the list I realise I’ve met and spoken with one of them…I just had a fan girl moment.

I’ve chosen my paragraph at random. It’s the first one I saw when I opened the magazine just now. And it’s from a story called ‘Cloud Brawls’ by Greg Foyster.

The winds blow from the west and the heat is like a constant roar behind their ears. The kiln of inland Australia blasts red dust across the plains and there’s no point hanging out the washing; everything comes back dirtier. The dust sifts through their flyscreen and leaves a fine powder on the kitchen floor.

This one paragraph embodies much of what I know about the Red Centre, or the centre of Australia. We were there one year during the first week of December. It was hot, dry and dusty. The colour of the soil has to be seen to be believed. Such a deep, rich colour. If you see photos you need to believe the colour you’re seeing, truly.

And the heat is incredible. 40°C (104°F) from about midmorning. I remember it going up to 42°C. I’m not a summer person and to experience that temperature day in and day out was really sapping. We had excellent air conditioning in our hotel and in the bus. I can’t imagine living there if you didn’t, I suspect some of the inhabitants may not have air conditioning. Where the author talks about the ‘kiln’ and how it ‘blasts’, well, that’s exactly how it feels to walk around outside.

We like to hang our washing on the line to dry. It feels nice and doesn’t use up any extra electricity. Last summer we really had to choose our days. The bushfires brought so much smoke to Melbourne that there were some days we hung everything up inside. The words ‘everything comes back dirtier’ illustrates our problem perfectly although Foyster is talking about dust rather than smoke. Both dust and smoke can be really pervasive when you’ve hung washing on the line.

I loved this story. It highlighted some of the problems with the lack of rain that farmers have today. And also some potential problems they might have in the future should the scientists figure out a way to get rain when there is none.

If you’d like to get a subscription to The Big Issue because there are no sellers near you just click here. Buying a subscription helps support the women who pack the magazine ready for sending.

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