Image: English novelist Evelyn Waugh by Henry Lamb, 1930
Ian C Smith’s work has appeared in Antipodes, Australian Poetry Journal, Critical Survey, Live Encounters, Prole, The Stony Thursday Book, & Two-Thirds North. His seventh book is ‘wonder sadness madness joy’, Ginninderra (Port Adelaide). He writes in the Gippsland Lakesarea of Victoria, and on Flinders Island, Tasmania.
The Cast as Conga Line
We signed up for Cinema Studies: Losing the Plot, attracted by the American teacher, a guru-like figure to impressionables who aspired to the avant-garde, but he got the heave-ho after clashing with the director of The Visual Arts Department, another guru-type, from a high-achieving Melbourne family, whose stutter enhanced his panache when he later became an art gallery curator with a flair for P.R.; so we were stuck with the replacement, a pain-in-the-arts conducting an obvious affair with a needle who would explode in rage when asked reasonable questions like, Er, sorry to bother you, but have you marked our papers yet? who we took turns approaching, ‘we’ being our tutorial group, the main players from my point-of-view starting with the son of a playwright/theatre critic for the only Melbourne newspaper anyone marginally intellectual would read, its front pages in later years to feature that stuttering gallery curator and a Picasso believed stolen (temporarily) by radical students; a boy gauche around women with ideas to make his own film, who received belated Cs from the junkie, furious about this upstart; also, an Englishwoman whose skirts swished across leather boots, wife of a football coach, her posh accent irritating some, a fact she was unaware of, but who knew that both the paroxysmal lecturer and the protégé fancied her; and me, the dumbest, older yet abysmally ignorant, hair grown longer, who the Englishwoman fancied, and told her husband about, and followed everywhere – ‘stalked’ in today’s climate – while she in turn was followed by the lad whose father wrote and critiqued drama, a cinematic aspect of which we all studied when I waited until the last minute before slipping into a seat in a corner of the lecture theatre only for her to swish in next to me seconds later as the lights dimmed, followed by our lovesick tyro seconds after that, and we all settled back in the dark to watch film, trying to grasp an intimate understanding of plot devices.