AFL GRAND FINAL DAY – The girls are out of the house and I have a chance for some solitary creation time. How I love having the house to myself, a cuppa on my desk and my guitar or computer keyboard in (or under) my hand, bending responsively to my creative will, as my imagination ploughs into unknown territory.

Unfortunately our normally benign next door neighbour has other plans. It is grand final day after all, when the inner-lad in any man is given permission to emerge, and emerge it does – quite vocally. The laddish chatter comes quick and fast over the fence, as does the smell of burnt sausages and beer, as two teams of highly trained men, devoted to skilfully manipulating an inflated piece of pig-leather, take centre stage.

Once I would have been overjoyed by this day – when I was 10 years old that is. But right now I want to spend a bit of time learning Adobe CS4 in order to get my website up and running, some time before the next decade.

Of course there is house work to be done, and procrastination is an able seducer, so I leave my studio begrudgingly. Dishes need washing, the rugs need vacuuming and music needs cranking up to 11 so as to drown out the boyish laughter and the hooligan antics next door. And what more fitting trip down memory lane, than a journey to the sound track of my disenfranchised adolescence – I blast the brutal strains of Hatred from that seminal (what a fitting word) Conan-metal album, Manowar’s Into Glory Ride. This is my distorted echo to the harsh vocalisation of the excitable football fans over the fence.

ManowaR in fine fur fashion

ManowaR in fine fur fashion

When I was a lad of 14 or so, going to an all boys Catholic collage and lacking the wit, looks or courage to talk to girls – the obvious outlet for my throbbing hormones became music, particularly Heavy Metal. Not just any Metal – those glammy L.A. posers like Poison who hijacked the beef and marinated it with sexual lubricant didn’t rate in my world. I’m talking the sword carrying, fur wearing, tough guy strain of Metal – guitarists whose distortion settings sent parents on vacation; vocalists whose tonsils could slay dragons, or summon demons from the dankest pits of Hell – lyricists who were not afraid to pen letters of hate to no one in particular, but rather to the world in general. This was my baptism of fire into the power of music to capture the mood of one’s existence and direct it with spit, venom and a touch of the ridiculous out into the world.

I spent many a happy evening taping the Heavy Metal show on 3PBS and then heading to the city to scour the racks of LPs at Metal for Melbourne or Pipe Imported for the album that contained the tracks I gravitated towards. Albums like Queensryche’s The Warning, and bands like Fates Warning, Savatage, Celtic Frost, Rush and S.O.D. (aka Stormtroopers Of Death) an eclectic mixture I grant you. Back then Heavy Metal was a music choice of the pimply and disaffected, and an outsider pose that involved long hair, studded armbands, armless jean jackets and patches – I don’t think much has changed in that regard.

Of course those glory days had to come to an end. My farewell to the power of metal was a fitting one for a Catholic boy straying from the flock. In an act of defiant vandalism, your now older and wiser blogger decided to pen the words “Repent – turn to Satan” on a bench in the main quadrangle at his illustrious Catholic college. An event that led to a weeks suspension and a new reputation that reverberated through every year level of the school – I was marked by the sign of the goat and the moniker of devil-worshiper.

Had I the strength of my convictions I would have stood tall and borne these slanders with the spiritual fortitude of Jesus on his way to Golgotha. But my heart wasn’t truly in it and I shamefully battered a few of the more overtly satanic albums to death, namely Mercyful Fate’s Don’t Break the Oath and Bathory’s eponymous debut – an act I now look back on sadly, as those LP’s were a milestone in my growth from boy to man –  mementos of the rebellious spirit that adolescence epitomises. Whats more they would have been great to play at times like this, either for a laugh or when the defiant spirit of my boyhood wishes to thumb its nose at the sports loving Australian public. Manowar escaped unscathed though, so now I can fondly crank it loud as the first quarter siren blows and the vacuum cleaner emits its maudlin whine.

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