Winter Solstice Name Day 25

Photograph of Stilgherrian, taken March 1981 “Oh, no mate, I wasn’t Stilgherrian until after that was taken. For my student card, so that’d be… March, maybe February. Stilgherrian wasn’t until Winter Solstice…”

25 years ago today!

Daggy photo, eh? Am I scared or was I trying for cool and moody, somehow? Scared, I reckon. I was too nerdy to even know how to look moody, let alone actually achieve a significant level of floppy-haired angst. Now Stephen… now he pulls that off so well. But then he lives in Melbourne, it’s “of the place”.

Sydney doesn’t have the sandstone Victorian for a fully grey, Londonesque, Londonangstridden pout, 30% eye shadow and 70% the precisely-edited slow-motion curl of a designer black trench coat. Not with any genuine sense of ennui, anyway.

In the words of Ultravox:

A cool empty silence
The warmth of your hand and a cold grey sky
It fades to the distance…

Ah yes!

This means nothing to me
This means nothing to me
Oh, Vienna

Melbourne did the “faded grand city” thing a century ago. The richest city on the planet except London, thanks to a handy gold rush. But Imperial Glory fades when the cash runs out. After the high, the comedown must’ve been harsh.

But they’ve recovered.

Melbourne is self-confident, assured of its place in history. They hosted the Commonwealth Games knowing they’d hosted them before and they’ll host them again. They are not troubled by noisome fools.

Eddie Maguire is as the piss-stains of a mouse to this Grand Old Dame. He, too, shall pass. Dame Edna will be remembered, Bert will be remembered, Eddie shall not.

But Sydney!

Ah, Sydney is an amateur peroxide hooker at the end of a long, long night. The booze and pills have long since run out. The ashtrays are overflowing and soggy, the sun’s coming up and the dawn light reveals unpleasant things on the linoleum. Only some of which are clothed, and none of which know the names of any of the others, or how they got there.

But Sydney, she’s still dancin’.

Fuck I love Sydney!

I used to dance, you know, back when I wrote about dance music and played it on the radio. A decade and more ago, a decade and more after the photo. But I never had dress sense.

Some poorly-repressed memory reminds me that shirt was pale yellow. Calling it “repressed lemon” won’t save it.

“I never had dress sense,” that’s a laugh! Of course I didn’t. In 1981 I was busily getting distinctions in Computing Science III, you can’t get nerdier.

But, nerdy or not, I became Stilgherrian. And committed myself to two and half decades of explaining “No, I don’t have a surname” and “Yes, that is unusual” and “Good heavens, two plus two does equal four, I’ve never thought of it that way before.”

Two and a half decades of people not being able to spell.

Photograph of pharmacist's medicine label, reading 'Mr. Stelgternia' [sic], dated 14 July 1982

24 Replies to “Winter Solstice Name Day 25”

  1. I think I once saw a National Geographic doco about the cold, volcanic tundra of Stelgternia and its hardy, subsistence-fishing inhabitants.

  2. And of course I’m just jealous of your bootiful curls, being a victim of male pattern baldness who sports a #1 crop in the mistaken belief that it makes people think I’m bald by choice. (There you go, I pre-empted smart-alecs like yourself and Mr Deadly Bloody Serious. Yah!)

  3. “They hosted the Commonwealth Games knowing they’d hosted them before and they’ll host them again.”

    Am I imagining things, or was that a very Sydney-like catty “compliment”?

  4. You must be imagining it, Mr Platypus — or may I call you Insane? The flavour I was intending to convey was confidence. “This is just the Commonwealth Games, we know how to do this, we’re Melbourne.”

  5. What is it with Adelaide people moving to Newtown? I shift city. Next thing I know a load of the bastards decide it’s a good idea, moving into the next suburb, cluttering up the cafes, shops and, before we realise it, “the web”. Ugh! Naturally, coming from Adelaide, they are also all personally acquainted, constantly self-referencing in their inane chatterings, confusing the few real locals with their silly way of saying “little”.

    Despite the years, I remember that visage. The filth some people will post on the web …

  6. Stilgherrian,

    I just stumbled across your WWW site… I don’t really mind your old “dorky” photographs… We all have to start somewhere… 😉

    Of course, you and I go so far back that I can remember what your name was, *before* it was Stilgherrian…

    Please do drop me a line at time stage.. Unfortunately, my WWW site is nowhere near as elaborate as yours … 🙁

    Please do drop me a line if you are ever planning to come to Adelaide.

    Warmest regards

    Andrew A.

  7. I’ve only just had this post pop up in my reader for some reason…

    Never mind, it’s there now and that’s what counds.

    You make people register just to leave comments? Interesting…

    Anyway, my points are two:

    1) in 1981, I was busy polishing off the messy business of being born.
    2) I’ve often thought about changing my name to “Zhasper”… it’s good (although unsurprising, really) to hear that I would’t be the first to ditch the habit of many names. What triggered the change for you? What made you pick Stilgherrian? How do I pronounce Stilgherrian? I need to know because I’m going to end up meeting you one day…

  8. Hey Zhasper,

    The post probably only just appeared because I re-generated RSS while migrating to WordPress last night. Buggered if I know why you didn’t see it before.

    That covers register-to-comment too — I’m still fiddling with settings, and was conscious of the spam levels under Movable Type. But enough of geekiness!

    “Stilgherrian” was coined by a friend in our nest of fantasy role-playing gamers — yes, I’ve come out as a former gamer, deal with it. I don’t recall his creative process.

    The Change happened as part of a “new beginnings” process, putting some difficult times behind me. Carving out my own path, instead of following a path — a “wrong” path — that others seem to have mapped out before me.

    That sounds vague, I know, but it is a long time ago and I can’t remember the details of how I felt. I do know that making the change part of a Winter Solstice ceremony was important for me. Yes, very much “new beginnings”.

    It’s pronounced with a hard “g” and the emphasis on the second syllable, a short “e” sound like “get”. The “h” is kind of silent, so it ends up being “still-GE-ree-un”.

    If you do make the change yourself, and have no surname, be aware that you’ll end up turning every bureaucratic transaction into a explanation. Medicare and the passport office cope without a blink. Most others will have to figure out how to work around “surname is a required field”.

    So when are we meeting, exactly?

  9. Well, I was only winding you and Adelaide up… plus some reactive amazement at the affront of someone from ausfa in the pre-stilgherrian era being located so close…again… it’s a long story. Mind you, I was expecting a rant in response so that’s a disappointment. Standards of derangement are declining.

  10. Dear Stil,

    I’ll concede I’ve got some measured vanity going on…but “floppy-haired angst”?? As if it’s not frustrating enough having adolescent/twenty-something friends point and snicker at my apparent emo-ness. Is there something I’ve missed here? I’m a generally happy, friendly lad who loves to laugh and see the best in people…aren’t I?

    Perhaps you refer to that black outfit I was wearing in those photos I’ve used on that adult dating site in the last 2 years. Fair enough. But I’ve never painted my face white, harboured a death fetish or blamed the rest of the world for my common insecurities.

    And anyway.
    I’ve had a haircut since then.

  11. @Stephen Stockwell: What makes you think I was talking about you? Then again — I do seem to recall a fair amount of eye shadow at one point, and something about exchanging clothes with a woman in a bar… remember that night? But yes, you have had a haircut.

  12. Hey everyone, Happy Fool’s Day!!

    My wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to our six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?”
    “I wouldn’t know what to say,” she replied.
    “Just say what you hear Mommy say,” my wife said.
    Our daughter bowed her head and said: “Dear Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”

    Happy April Fool’s Day!

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