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S O A P - B OX

THE NAKED LUNCH

‘My arse is on fire.’ That’s the line that keeps going through my head. I think it’s a Bruce Springsteen song. I don’t care. It’s three in the morning and my arse ACTUALLY IS on fire. Well my butt cheeks to be more specific. I have 23 individual bites. Bed bugs have bit my butt. What a joyous fleshy target. I imagine them on their late-night Grecian feeding frenzy, drunk on the blood of a stupid Aussie traveller. I am in Athens at the airport when I first start to scratch and it occurs to me that perhaps the bites all over our bodies are something more sinister. This is how it ends. With my hideously itchy end. It’s unbecoming for a lady to scratch her arse but I don’t care. But don’t think it’s their only feeding site. The bed bug, or Cimex lectularius as the blood-sucking parasite is also known, also popped round the front and bit me on the vagina a few times for good measure. Kind of evened out the itch. And when they were done they tiptoed up my spine, savaging me here and there until they feasted on the double vesuvius of my breasts. Bed Bug Bingo. They did the same thing to my husband with pretty much the same bite pattern – sans vagina of course. And my poor wee child… I counted well over 100 swollen bites on her back and stomach. We’ve been bugged! I’ve just returned from a month overseas – London, Edinburgh, Paris, Munich (shit, was my booking schedule inspired by the 1979 newwave synth hit Pop Muzic?) Shooby Dooby Doo Wap! And of course our favourite destination, the beautiful island of Rhodes in Greece. It was here where my family and I were so brutally and unknowingly molested. In our sleep. I can’t stop thinking about them blanketing our bodies. They move like lightning when seen so you generally don’t see them. But if you had a camera with night vision, then you’d capture them – in a blood frenzy. All over your body. It’s disgusting. When I think about it I feel violated. I was as Burrows would have described it their ‘naked lunch’. Bed bugs pretty well live exclusively on human blood. And these little fellas are hungry. We were staying at a friend’s house in Greece and there hasn’t been a bloodfilled human there for over a year. That kind of fast would kill most species. But not these resilient flea-like freaks. They go dormant. They lie and wait. I imagine the thrill in the colony when we turned up. ‘Tonight we feast’ they would have screamed! Bed bug leaders yelling, ‘head for the torso. Let’s bite the fat bitch on the arse.’ But they would have said it in Greek: ‘dankósei to lípos skýla sto kólo!’ Kritters on my kolo. The sneaky little fuckers. Who needs holiday snaps when you have a bed bug infestation? It’s the ultimate memory maker! It’s no-one’s fault. Bed bugs are part of the great circle of life. Almost eradicated in the 40s, the flea-like insects have made a comeback. On my butt. Apparently thanks to the overuse of pesticides and world travellers like me bringing them home to re-establish domain in bedrooms all over the world, they’re at plague proportions. In retrospect now I’ve consulted my good friend Mr Google I realise there was a strange sweet odour in the room where we stayed. I assumed it the musty smell houses get when they are locked up, but bed bug infestations give off a smell not dissimilar to coriander. It smells a lot like mouldy clothes or shoes. That’s a tip for anyone planning to travel. Our poor hosts were mortified that we had become ‘hosts’ for their unseen residents. We were itchy while we stayed, but the bites can take up to 14 days to manifest. Ivy went first. We assumed it was a local critter. Then John showed signs. My arse attack didn’t turn up until the night when I was battling jet lag. I awoke from my first easy slumber with a ferociously itchy bum. You don’t usually see bed bugs on you, but one had relocated in Ivy’s bag and I spied what looked like a large flea on her neck and the horror descended. It wasn’t just three little Aussies leaving Athens that day. We were bringing friends.

North Coast news daily: www.echonetdaily.net.au

THE BIGGEST LITTLE TOWN CHOIR

BIGGEST LITTLE CHOIR IN PAPUA! The Biggest Little Town Choir has been raising their voices for eight years in Mullumbimby. It’s a long way from Papua New Guinea, where they have been invited to share songs with the people of Korogu on the Sepik River. They will be accompanied by documentary filmmaker Jimmy Malecki, who will record their stay in PNG and document a valuable cultural exchange. They will perform at Korogu and other villages along the river, participate in the Crocodile Festival, visit schools and cultural sites, and learn much about our neighbours as they share the lives of our Sepik hosts for two weeks. The difference between our lives and those of the villagers is enormous. The vast majority of Papua New Guineans are subsistence farmers. By all accounts the women have a pretty tough time – are still regarded as the possessions of their husbands and are the beasts of burden who collect the firewood, tend the vegetable gardens, bear the children, mind the pigs etc, etc. Life expectancy in rural areas is low – under 60 years of age. Infant mortality is high as is maternal death around childbirth. Literacy and attendance at school are also low. Education and health facilities are limited in rural areas. To contribute to the people who are hosting the dozen or so people going to

PNG, direct aid will be given in the form of exercise books and pencils for schoolage children, and towels, kitchen knives, and basic medications such as analgesics for the adults. Although it is only a threehour flight from Australia, PNG is not a mass tourist destination so is expensive. The choir members will finance all their own transport and expenses but need help to provide these donated goods and to buy food to share with hosts. You can help by having a great night’s entertainment. Stars Ilona Harker and her gal pal Mae Wilde like to keep their public careers very separate, so how have The Biggest Little Town Choir managed to coax them onto the same stage on the same night? Mae Wilde is just back from Caracas, where she’s been intercepting violence in the world’s most dangerous city. Ilona Harker Music is heading into deep dark lush country where her voodoo consumes you. This is the first and only time the two have appeared together on the same program, and it’s for a good cause! The choir perform and provide backing led by Peter Lehner.

MUSIC IN A SCURRY Susie Scurry is a singer/songwriter from Melbourne. Her style and sound have been described by the press as ‘nostalgic, dreamy folk’ that lies ‘somewhere between the jazz club and the barnyard’. She is back from England with a lush new six-track, with the gorgeous first single The Elvis Hour. It is an homage to the iconic legend and the lonely existence of The King of rock’n’roll. Brunswick Picture House on Saturday at 7pm | Tix $5–20 | www.brunswickpicturehouse.com.

Fundraiser held at Mullumbimby Uniting Church, corner of Dalley and Whian Streets, Mullumbimby, 6pm Tuesday 26 July. $10 ticket or $25 with dinner

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The Byron Shire Echo July 11, 2018 39

The Byron Shire Echo – Issue 33.05 – July 11, 2018  

Free, independent weekly newspaper from the Byron Shire in northern NSW, Australia.

The Byron Shire Echo – Issue 33.05 – July 11, 2018  

Free, independent weekly newspaper from the Byron Shire in northern NSW, Australia.