A town like Alice...called Bright.
So on the other side of the world I’m lucky enough to be sitting in Wandiligong in the alpine region of Victoria, Australia staring back at the valley that leads to Bright, where we’re staying.
Although we don’t have the money or time to get to Alice Springs, I’m reading the book that sat on almost every parents’ shelves in the 60s - Nevil Shute’s ‘classic’ of the war in the pacific and the hardships endured in Malaya under the rule of the Japanese. It’s a strange book - oddly compelling yet stilted & distant, a sort of metaphor for the bridge between the old world of convention and class, and the modern world of classless love and the bland meaningless nature of man’s inhumanity to man.
Reading it, I felt closer to the world of my late father and fading mother, and at the same time wandering these disarmingly beautiful valleys thousands of miles away, listening to the chaos of Brexit on the radio, the stark racism of Australia’s One Nation and the ‘Shooters parties, wondering if we are about to enter a new age of unreason and conflict.
Yet the friendship and kindness of people here (both family and the public) on an individual level, perhaps echoing that of Jean and Joe in Shute’s novel, leaves some room for optimism.
Bright itself has the wide avenues & tree-lined vistas that Shute ascribes to Alice Springs. In the slow unfolding of autumn it’s difficult to imagine a darker world but of course I know it’s there. But it’s good to embrace this illumination for the time being.