This time last year The Wah and I were chillaxing across Morocco - a wonderful, unforgettable three-week component of our rocking five months abroad.
I wrote at the time of my visit to a local hammam (bathhouse) in Fez, the ancient capital of the country and to most still its spiritual heart. It was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life; and it obviously struck a chord with others. Now regular Clumsy-reader Rastas passed word on to writers, journalists, photographers and all-round creative wunderkids Sandy McCutcheon and Suzanna Clarke - who run the informative and entertaining blog The View From Fez - and they posted links to my site.
This couple's story is inspiring - after a visit to Morocco in 2002, during which they fell in love with the country, they decided to buy an old house in the Fez medina and restore it to its former glory. This was by no means an easy feat; getting the skills and equipment necessary to rebuild a riad that was basically falling to pieces took them many years and dollars. But it is now all but complete, and Suzanna has written a marvellous book entitled "A House in Fez", which details not only the renovation, but the life in the ancient city itself.
Suzanne came into 4BC a few Saturdays ago to talk about the book; however I was busy in the newsroom and missed a chance to say hello. However Tahn, the afternoon show producer, asked if I wanted to go to the official "A House in Fez" book launch this Friday just gone. I was delighted; and we agreed to meet up. I figured being featured on their blog site might give me a good excuse to introduce myself. I even took along the green sparkly scarf I bought in the Fez medina to use as a potential talking point.
I rocked up to the gallery on Arthur Street in the Valley to meet Tahn, and was confronted by a groovy exotic space full of artefacts both Australian and from abroad. Luscious silk scarves, hand-carved wooden furniture, jewellery etc. Susanna's photographs of their riad and the Fez medina itself adorned the walls, and looked stunning.
I had a suspicion Rastas might be there, and he arrived not long after I arrived. He actually introduced me to Sandy McCutheon, who's a great character and raconteur. I did make a typical Clumsy-esque mistake though; I knew Sandy was a published author but I'm afraid to say I hadn't fully done my research and didn't know the exact volume of Sandy's output. I made a comment along the lines of "What is your book called?", which met the reply of "Which one?". Oops. Turns out Sandy's written seven novels, a memoir, a children's book, 22 plays, and all manner of literary articles. Yikes. Still, better to be thought a hopeless amateur from the start!
Sandy gave a lovely speech introducing Suzanna's book, then threw to (of all people) Judge Ian Dearden, who sang a sweet folk song for Suzanna. Who would've thought - one of the state's most prominent Civil Liberties proponents and a respected District Court judge - a crooning, guitar-playing balladeer? I love finding stuff like that out about people. Suzanna then launched the book, regaling the crowd with more stories of the trials of getting things done in a country so completely different than your own.
Unfortunately I didn't get to meet Suzanna, as she was caught up signing books, and I thought shoving my scarf under her nose might be a tad intrusive. But Sandy is now a Facebook friend, so hopefully I will get to meet he and Suzanna again soon.
I'd never been to a book launch before, and it really was a fun experience. It's lovely to find these pockets of interesting, creative, vibrant people - who most certainly exist in Brisbane but are sometimes forgotten while the rugby league's on or the weather's good for swimming. It's a reminder I should get out there and meet more people, expand my circle of contacts and draw on the knowledge and experience to enrich my own life and creative endeavours.
Thanks to Tahn for the invite, Rastas for being good company, Sandy for being so charming, and most of all Suzanna for writing a gorgeous book (complete with beautiful photographs), that took
me back to that crazy city I first saw, ironically, one year ago.
I highly recommend you read it!