My Eurostar Affair by Noel Anderson

My brief encounter started innocently enough on the way to Paris, business class, naturally. I had two suitcases full of clothes with me, and I’d just settled into my seat on the Eurostar when someone, hopelessly good looking, accidentally tipped a long black down my front, soaking me to the skin. I was ropable. I didn’t know if I should cry or hurl abuse. So, I shouted, farrkkk! Heaven knows what the other women on board thought, me screaming like a banshee, dressed to the nines in an outfit from Printemps.

“What do you call that?” I yelled, hitting my head on the overhead luggage compartment.

“A very badly stained blouse. Watch your head, sweetie. It was a cold long black, thankfully. What I’m saying is, at least I didn’t burn you. However, it’s damn annoying. I was saving that coffee for the trip, to sip while I work. Best laid plans, eh? My name is Adam, like the apple”

“What are you talking about you idiot?” I snarled back, mopping up spillage.

“You know, the bible. The story of Adam and Eve, temptation and the apple. I don’t suppose your name is Eve?” he smiled. It was a cocky smile. I don’t know why, given half the chance again I probably wouldn’t…but I decided to lie about my real name. This prick was too good looking to get an honest answer.

“As a matter of fact, it is. Eve… Joanna…Printemps. How on earth did you know my name?”

“Englishmen know a lot,” he assured me.

“Well, you know ‘a lot’ about cricket and spilling coffee,” I insisted, flirting.

“Here, you’re not getting anywhere with that blouse…Eve? Can I call you that?” I nodded, raising an eyebrow. “Please Eve, use my hanky. I’d be honoured,” Adam added, twitching his nose just a little. Was this idiot fucking kidding me? I’m a mess. But, damn he’s hot, so I took the bloody hanky. Adam looked at me for the longest time, and I him. Finally I broke the ice…

“Thanks, Adam, your ‘accident’ has made my journey…l’original. Work trips can drag. You see, I’m transporting the latest in English fashion to Paris. My suitcases are bigger than my aunt Jessica’s belly. She’s expecting, twins. I’m in Paris just for the weekend. I was just planning to sit here alone, uninterrupted, and read my book. Best laid plans, eh?”

“Becoming Michelle Obama? Interesting!” Adam motioned, the book cover peeking out from the top of my handbag. Ignoring him, I continued, “But, this…accident, has brightened my day. So, thanks, Adam …Apple!” I beamed. I cleaned up the spilt coffee as best I could, with a little help from Adam, when he suddenly announced…

“Now, do mind moving, I’ve got the window. I book the same seat every trip. I’m seat 1- row 41, carriage 14, you must be seat 2. It’s marked quite clearly.” Adam raised his left eyebrow in a F.U kinda way. It pissed me off. But, he was right, it was marked very clearly, above my head. I quickly changed seats, all sorted.

“Eve? Do you mind if I call you that?” he asked for the second time. “No I don’t mind Adam, after all it’s my name.” I am such a God damn liar, I thought. “I like you,” he smiled then got on with his work. Nothing remarkable happened for the next half hour, Eurostar raced along, and I got on with reading my book on Michelle Obama and Adam read an insurance report. Well, that’s what I assumed, as I couldn’t quite make out exactly what he was reading from my aisle seat position. The tension was palpable between us. Finally, I could take it no longer, I put down my book…

“Adam? Do you speak French?” I asked politely, falling hopelessly into his brooding grey eyes.

“No. I speak the international language only,” he grinned, magically producing a new hanky from his coat pocket. Gently, he wiped his brow.

“Oh really. And what language would that be?” I said, curling the end of my hair around my fingers.

“Oh, sweet darling Eve, it is the language of love”.

Our conversation had reached its climax, I remember thinking. There was no where for me to hide. So I said nothing. Thankfully a Eurostar announcement broke the silence. “Mesdames et hommes gentils. Bienvenue à Paris. Nous arriverons au Gard De Nord dans quelques minutes. Assurez-vous de récupérer vos affaires avant de partir. Bonne journée” I gathered my belongings, readying myself to exit at Gard De Nord.

“Do you know the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, very well?” I asked. Adam nodded tucking his hanky into his pocket. “You know, God fashioned Adam from dust. He told him to eat freely from all the trees in the garden except the Tree of Knowledge.”

“Did he? Fancy that,” Adam smirked.

“Of course, Adam didn’t listen, most men don’t, ” I smirked back.

“Eve was created from one of Adam’s ribs, wasn’t she? And, didn’t she offer Adam the apple from the forbidden tree?” Adam corrected.

“Yes. But, Eve was searching for something. She didn’t know shame or temptation until she met Adam”.

“So, Adam is the root of all evil?” he whispered. “What about the serpent that offered Eve the apple in the first place? Maybe He is really, a She?” he added, tucking his laptop away. At this point of the conversation, I decided Adam Apple was a dick of biblical proportions, so I politely said goodbye and left the train.

In the taxi on the way Printemps, I glanced out the window at Sacre Coeur in the distance and thought of him, Adam. God, works in mysterious ways doesn’t he I thought, looking down at my stained blouse. Then, I banished him from my mind forever, and got on with my working day in Paris. Perhaps I’ll have dinner out tonight, alone, I thought, as the taxi sped down Boulevard Haussmann.

About the author – Noel Anderson has worked in film and theatre and is currently adapting his play Sammy & Dave into a film. Noel has directed over 50 theatrical productions. Checkout Noel’s new Podcast ‘Email To My 17-Year-Old Self‘ on Podbean and on iTunes Channel ‘Noel Anderson’s 15 Minutes of Fame.

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Dumbstruck by Noel Anderson

Dumbstruck by Noel AndersonWOW! I stood dumbstruck, surrounded by thousands of books and boxes of all shapes and sizes. For some strange reason, I’d wandered off track, found myself in darkness back-of-house at the State Library of Victoria, standing smack bang in the middle of the WG Alma Conjuring Collection. I twitched as if someone walked over my grave, and magically the lights switched on. Quickly my eyes adjusted to the white light. To my left, somewhat inconspicuously placed, a framed photo of a gentleman I thought I recognised from TV, a man of mystery, Will Alma. Above the picture of Mr Alma (holding a razor blade to his lips) a pair of white nylon gloves. How quaint I thought, slipping the gloves on, one finger at a time, wriggling them about under the fluorescent light.  My gloved hands miraculously took on a life of their own, ferreting through the collection, lingering lovingly over 2000 shelved books on magicians, tricks and the art of conjuring. My fingers stopped dead in front of a bound book titled, ‘Battling Demons’. I lifted the book off the shelf, pushing aside any evil thoughts I had. I turned to the first page and was immediately interrupted by a man’s booming theatrical voice.

“Don’t touch that! I think you’ll find ‘Deceptive Conceptions in Magic’ more to your personal taste.” Oh, I thought, closing the book out of respect for the gentleman’s authoritarian tone. “Let me introduce myself, dear friend. I am the Great Raymond…man of magic, illusion and disguise. You’ll find a book about my adventures somewhere on those shelves. Have you heard of me?” l shook my head, startled by the man standing before me in a bow tie, black top hat and tails. “Oh, well, some haven’t. My last gig was 1993 in fact! What brings you here, may I ask?”

“Looking for inspiration I suppose. You look familiar? Have you been on the ABC?” I enquired. The Great Raymond raised an eyebrow, dismissing my question. “Well, you’ve stumbled into the right place,” he assured me. “We’ve every trick in the book here. There’s one on conjuring up ‘inspiration’ somewhere, I’m sure. I’ll perform it, a private show. That’s why I’m the Great Raymond! I can conjure up anything, even a little ‘inspiration’. Now, ask me something else, while I hunt about for that book”.

I thought for a moment. “Okay. Have you ever guillotined a Librarian?”

“Anyone I’m in par-tic-ular?” the Great Raymond prompted, smiling wickedly.

“I’d rather not say.  But, have you performed the trick inside the State Library?”

“Of course. Hundreds of times. But, those librarians get my goat. I get on their goat. They hate my guillotine trick. But, occasionally,” he confided, “when I shout ‘off with their heads’ randomly at the top of my lungs in the Cowan Gallery, one brave little family historian has a damn good chuckle. Anything else? Ask me anything. I’m the Great Raymond!”

I pondered, then asked, “Raymond? Can you make problem patrons disappear?” The Great Raymond screamed with glee, unable to control his excitement. “That’s my specialty actually” he gloated, tipping his top hat. “Once, I made a group of grumpy old aged pensioners, retirees, vanish while on the Changing Face of Victoria tour. They were from Geelong. Poor things. Oh, it’s a marvelous trick. The security guard Bob, is still looking for that Probus club I believe. Oh, I found the book I was looking for…Inspirational Tricks for a Restless Soul”.

“But, I’m not a restless soul?” I said defensively.  The Great Raymond snapped his fingers and opened the book up on page thirteen.

alma“Dear friend,” he winked, “Don’t lie. I know everything. That’s why I’m the Great Raymond.” He did a twirl, the room went black, Raymond was gone. I stood in darkness, then suddenly twitched, the lights flickered on-off-on. The room was empty, except for the WG Alma Conjuring Collection, and me. Beside the picture of Will Alma, the book ‘Inspirational Tricks for a Restless Soul’. I took off the white gloves, and opened the book at page thirteen. At the top, written in bright red ink, the words, ‘magic for dummies’ – WG Alma. It was then, at that very moment, I felt a presence, someone’s breath, close to my ear. He whispered, “For your in-for-mation, old friend, I have been on ABC TV.” Then, before I could say, abracadabra, he was gone.

Will Alma, (Born Oswald George William Bishop;  4 November, 1904 – 6 May, 1993) was an Australian stage magician, illusionist, maker of conjuring apparatus and magic historian. He is best known for his donation of the ‘WG Alma Conjuring Collection’ to State Library Victoria.

Dumbstruck by Noel Anderson was first published on 14th December 2018 in The Goat Zine by the State Library of Victoria.

An Imperfect Christmas by Noel Anderson

December 24th 2015 – It’s been 38 years since the full moon last appeared on Christmas Day, 1977 in fact.
The young waitress drops a fork, kicks it under a nearby table and totally breaks my train of thought. I look up from my cup and I think. The restaurant is full and the day warmish. I’m sipping coffee dressed in shorts and T-shirt, Melbourne colours of black and grey, while happy Queenslanders all around me dressed in flowery clothing, chat away over large serves of pancakes, bacon and eggs.
I flick through the Courier Mail, a terrorist arrested in Sydney, another mindless shooting in Melbourne, is it really Christmas Eve 2015 I wonder? I’m not sure judging by the headlines so I check the date on front of the paper, wishing the toothache that’s troubled me since arriving at Brisbane airport several days ago would just bugger off. But, the toothache is not going anywhere despite the antibiotics I swallowed an hour ago.
Back to my thoughts…
I bet everyone in this restaurant has their own idea of what makes ‘A Perfect Christmas’ I casually think to myself! Christmas – A time spent with loved ones, family, friends or whomever. I think a little bit more, stirring an extra sugar into my coffee as I run my tongue over my sore tooth. I’m not sure I ever really thought about Christmas in a perfect way before or any event for that matter, I mean what is perfect? I’ve always been attracted to things less than perfect I recall. I remember birthday parties I’ve had only because of what’s gone wrong during the night, dinners that I have totally burnt and ruined beyond salvation, and of course blind dates that I’ve had that have gone horribly pear-shaped.
In fact, thinking way too much once again, it’s these imperfect events and days have ruled my life, invaded my memories and (I swear I believe this) have made me a much better person, stronger man. I mean you can’t enjoy a perfect Christmas without first experiencing several imperfect ones, right?
Yes, it’s the imperfect days and events that rule us, teach us valuable life lessons, help us grow and that we talk endlessly about years later, and will continue to do so until the end of time probably, or the end of the last Christmas drink. Whatever comes first!
I shuffle in my chair, someone with bleached blonde hair orders a hot chocolate and I shift back to thoughts of ‘imperfection’ and Christmas.
One imperfect Christmas I clearly remember was when I was living in Docklands and I got a very bad gastric bug and spent almost three days sitting on the toilet, alone. I remember the only thing I wanted was Kentucky Fried Chicken while I squatted, God knows why but I had a mad craving for a juicy fried leg or thigh, I didn’t care really what piece of chicken I ate, I just wanted it. I sat in the bathroom for hours daydreaming about bloody fried chicken, and those eleven special herbs and spices. Once I was feeling better, I bolted from my flat, crossed the Yarra River and headed straight to the Kentucky Fried Chicken shop in Crown Casino and I ordered the biggest bucket of fried chicken I could buy. I found a nice place in the sun and I spent all Boxing Day by the Yarra snuggled up to my bucket of fried chicken, daydreaming.
It turned out to be the one Christmas I’d never forget! Why? Because it was imperfect and you just can’t plan Christmas days like that.
I close the newspaper and put it back on the magazine stand and make my way down the street to my sister’s house listening to the song Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas on my iPhone. As I walk up the driveway I think to myself this will be the first full moon in 38 years, fancy that, and I open the front door…then I think really fast, I should go inside and write something.

About the author – Noel Anderson has worked in film and theatre and is currently adapting his play Sammy & Dave into a film. Noel has directed over 50 theatrical productions. Checkout Noel’s new Podcast ‘Email To My 17-Year-Old Self‘ on Podbean and on iTunes Channel ‘Noel Anderson’s 15 Minutes of Fame

Email To My 17-Year-Old Self

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-6zxxm-a09fb9

Is youth wasted on the young? Imagine, if you wrote an email and sent it to yourself as a 17-year-old teenager, what advice would you offer? Would you tell yourself to do things any differently? Would you warn of all the difficulties yet to be lived? More importantly, would teenage you listen to advice from your much-older self.  This is the dilemma in my new podcast Email to My 17-Year-Old SELF. I hope you enjoy it – Noel Anderson

Email To My 17-Year-Old Self – A Podcast

Guys, what if you found yourself having a conversation by email with yourself at the ripe old age of seventeen? What advice would you offer the much younger you? Would you warn of life’s turning points, caution against future problems to come? Would you tell teenage you, stories of how love goes horribly wrong? Maybe not, perhaps you’ll let 17 year-old-you alone without interference from older more experienced you?

This is the dilemma I found myself struggling with as I sat down to write and record my brand new podcast, Email To My 17-Year-Old Self. I hope you enjoy my dilemma.  Life was much easier when you were 17-years-old? Wasn’t it?

Email To My 17-Year-Old Self on YouTube

Email To My 17 -Year-Old Self on Podbean

About the author – Noel Anderson has worked in film and theatre and is currently adapting his play Sammy and Dave into a film, about two bisexual-married men who rendezvous for a one night stand. Based on a true story.

Flying Solo by Noel Anderson

If you could change the choices you’ve made, would you want to keep them or upgrade them for something else?

I am on my way to London, in transit at Abu Dhabi airport. It’s a long flight and I’m flying solo. So, I’ve got time to mull over things, stuff like my life choices mostly. I shuffle, sip coffee, think back and stare out the window, waiting for the 380 airbus and my final leg. As I wait, my mind begins to revisit ‘turning points’ from my past. “What if I didn’t make that decision, then? What if I ‘did this’ instead of ‘doing that?’ Would I still be flying solo?

‘Believin’ is the answer to all your fears’

It’s been several decades since I studied directing and lived in London. This is my first trip back, not sure why I took so long to return to the UK. I guess shit happens.

On the way to Melbourne airport, I listened to Lisa Stansfield’s song ‘Change‘ on the tram. Lisa sings, if I could change the way I live my life today, I wouldn’t change a single thing. It might be the 3 sleeping pills I knocked back on the first leg of my plane trip, but thinking about Lisa’s words over coffee, I’m not sure I feel the same way.

They say change is as good as a holiday. But, is it? I’ve had a lot of change forced upon me. There’s been breakups, several deaths and missed opportunities, like most people I guess. Of course, a lot ‘choices’ I’ve made have worked out spectacularly well, while other ‘changes’ have been hopeless. But, what if I could take all my mistakes, the lemons of my life, and miraculously turn them into jugs of fresh lemonade, would I be happier than I am now? Would I still be flying solo to London? Would my life be more rewarding?

I’ll always be there and I’ll always care’

The truth is my spectacular failures made me the person I am, they’re ‘original’ and all mine. No one else in the world has them as back catalogue, except me. I guess that’s okay, then?

I finish my coffee, check my boarding time and switch on my iPhone. I open my Facebook app and reread the entry I posted 14 hours earlier in Melbourne.

Lisa and I have been through a lot over the years including breakups, bad hair and no hair. And, more recently a shocking bout of ‘high anxiety’ just before I left for London, alone. A glass of wine at the airport, Lisa singing about ‘Change’ on my iPhone, and I’m now feelin’ funky and ready for the next big chapter? Change? Bring it on!

About the author – Noel Anderson has worked in film and theatre and is currently adapting his play Sammy & Dave into a film, about two bisexual-married men who rendezvous for a one night stand. Based on a true story.

Breaking the Code – A Writer’s Life

‘I let my imagination carry me’ – Noel Anderson

I can’t remember when I started writing exactly. I recall sitting on the floor at home watching TV and bashing away on an old typewriter that I loved. Writing always felt like an adventure. A trek into my subconscious mind. Once inside, the mission should I decide to take it, is often dreaming up things unobtainable in real life. As a boy, these dreams consisted of movie terrors from outer space.  Black and white monsters from the 1950’s were on high rotation most afternoons. On a secret mission, breaking the code to life itself, I imagined I worked tirelessly with a group of American scientists at an isolated outpost. In my imagination, I discover, ‘monsters that time forgot,’ frozen in a clump under the Arctic ice. Naturally I save the day, destroy the creatures and the world is safer place, thanks to my fertile imagination. In my backyard-fantasies, I let my imagination carry me. I play with wooden pegs, turning them into astronauts, painting on space helmets. Surrounded by washing drying on a Hills Hoist, I stir up a storm in a tea cup… and I write. This habit of putting down words day and night, is going to be a lifetime problem, I decide.

But, puberty changes things, and the years fly by. Friends once thought precious have gone, family passed over. Values held dear to my heart as a younger man, feel wasted, like second hand clothes, so I wash them away. Writing feeds me when I am lost in the dark.

“Hey you. Your a writer aren’t you?” I look at the timetable, pretending not to hear. “Hey, you. I know your work. I read your story online about the death your father.”

“Do I know you?” I ask, waiting for the tram.

“Brave. I wish I could be like that. Put stuff out there, my feelings, to the universe. Just say fuck it! Seriously I want that. I do…You know, if I had time to be a writer, like you…I’d be better than you. I’d be something else, I know.” He leaves. I don’t remember his face.

I breathe freely and miss my tram. I wait. In those minutes, nothing mattered. Time stopped. Gradually my mind turns white, like a blank sheet of paper. Then, holding my imagination tightly, I write… if only I was a real person, like him. But, I’m not. Oh, well…fuck it!

About the author – Noel Anderson has worked in film and theatre and is featured in Breaking the Code a two day symposium for writers/authors, 6-7th Oct 2018. Noel is currently adapting his play Sammy & Dave into a film, about two bisexual-married men who rendezvous for a one night stand. Based on a true story.

Sammy and Dave – Promo Trailer