Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sisters in Crime and a Stitch in Time

I am a pretty uncoordinated person. Never ask me to dance. In fact, discovering aqua-aerobics was a huge boon. No longer condemned to hide in the back row of the gym, stumbling my way through another series of complicated moves, always a beat or two behind the music. Oh the joy, of thrashing away in the pool where no one can see you moving below the neck.

My uncoordinated approach to movement often sees me shoulder charge into doorways rather than moving gracefully through them, pinball off the edges of tables and somehow be able to trip over a dust mote. So on Friday night, battling the wind, the driving rain and a thick layer of treacherous slippery foliage that had been stripped from the trees by day of vicious weather, I was tiptoeing very cautiously from my hotel to the edge of the road to try to flag down a cab to attend my first Melbourne writing event. 

Sisters in Crime, a meal at Bell's Hotel to be followed by a good chat about crime with two wonderful writers Sulari Gentill and Angela Savage, with Robin Bowles on hand to steer the conversation and keep us on our toes.

I was feeling pretty good, the terrible weather at least providing the excuse to give the black winter coat that goes swoosh a final trot before summer, make-up was in place, hair not looking too weird, all I had to do was find a cab. Miraculously one appeared creeping up Fitzroy Street and pulling in as I waved my hand. 

Ever so carefully I stepped off the curb, my leather soled cowboy boots, a souvenir from a ski holiday in Steamboat Colorado, have a tendency to feel like they're skating on ice when its wet, but I remained upright and advanced on the cab, steadied myself on it before opening the door, leaning down to speak to the cab driver. Unfortunately, as I performed both actions simultaneously I ended up clobbering my face with the edge of the door.

Reeling back, I kept hold of the door, cabs on a wet Friday night in Melbourne were not to be given up so easily. I bent down to talk to the driver, to tell him where I wanted to go and noticed he was shrinking away from me.

"There is a little blood," he said just a little nervously. 

I reached up, touched my forehead, which it was true did now feel a trifle lumpy. My fingers came away bright red and wet.

It was a similar moment, to the way I felt as I sailed through the air two days before the Joss Whedon event at the Sydney Opera House - oh nooooooooooo. But, whereas that fall had seemed to take forever as I flailed and fell through the air prior to crashing in an ungainly pile on the ground, this one seemed to have happened before I'd even realised it. 

Reluctantly I released my cab back into the wilds of Friday night and ever so carefully retraced my wet slippery steps back into the Tolarno Hotel, digging a crumpled tissue out of the handbag to press against my forehead. A quick check in the mirror of the ladies room by reception was enough to convince me that a Band-Aid at least was going to be required if I was to speak at my event without blinking through blood.

At the reception desk Amanda had just started her shift, she looked up and sprinted out from the office, insisting politely that I should sit down and she would get something. I retrieved my running list for the night and managed to punch in the number of my soon-to-be-equally-marvellous-under-pressure publicist from Penguin, Dianne Biviano, and leave a message, at which point Amanda returned wearing latex gloves and bearing a fairly large dressing which she pressed against my head and started talking stitches. 

At this point my natural instincts to not-feel-very-well-at-the-thought-of-blood-kicked-in and I slumped back in the lounge, feeling just a bit too warm and murmuring things like, "but I have to give a talk".  Amanda took over my phone and my now slightly blood spattered running list -

and in short order Amanda had organised Dianne to collect me, had been in contact with Carmel Shute who supplied the location of the closest doctor's clinic, for which Amanda then printed up a Google map, whilst supplying me with water and a lolly. 

By the time Dianne arrived to take over and ferry me to the Acland Street St Kilda super clinic, I'd rallied to the point that I ooohed and ahhhed at my first glimpse of The Palais from the Coles Supermarket carpark. The clinic was doing brisk business but thanks to Amanda's preparatory call, we found that walking in with a head wound is a good way of getting a bed and a good lie down. There, the lovely Sara cleaned the wound and provided me with an ice pack which felt so good I didn't want to give it back and the equally wonderful Doctor Bert who, in between treating a bustling waiting room, managed to pop in an injection of anaesthetic along with a few neat stitches, and a classy little dressing to cover it up.

Thank you again, Amanda, Dianne, Carmel, Sarah and Dr. Bert.

And so it came to pass that on a wild and wet and stormy night in Melbourne, I was only a little bit late to my first big adventure and had an excellent night, in fine company, sharing some great conversations about crime.

Of which more later .......


  1. Uncoordinated or no, I still say you were just trying to upstage us Pam!

    Still, it was great to meet you last Friday, attention seeking stitches and all, for one of the most fun panels I've ever done. Here's to catching up again in the near future.


  2. I know, I'm a shameful upstager from way back.

    I was a great night, I reckon we could have gasbagged on for ages. I'd have loved to have talked more about the problems of realism, depicting the negative with nuance: corruption in Thailand, corruption in the cops etc.

    Look forward to resuming the conversation sometime & place in the future.

    Thanks for swinging by the blog, Angela.



  3. Here's my take on the night Pam:

    I like your idea of a conversation about the problems of realism, depicting the negative with nuance, writing about corruption beyond corrupt cop stereotypes. Suggest it to anyone you know who's organising writers and panels and I'll do likewise and let's see if we can conspire to get together again soon.


  4. Damn fine Idea, Angela. Might try and blog up a few ideas about it and see if we can get some interest.