Possibly the most embarrassing moment of my life

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Many readers of this blog would no doubt believe I am inured to embarrassment. I am of the school of thought that a writer has to either join the Hell’s Angels or go off to fight in the Spanish Civil War, fundamentally because the things of greatest interest in life are discovered at its extremes.

Consequently, many of my first-world adventures are of the ludicrous sort, as danger in Australia is in comparatively short supply.

Experience transcends time through meaningful witness. This is true of both fighting and art. The true difference between fighting and sparring is not a matter of intensity, as anyone who has been knocked down at training will know. The real difference is the crowd.

The spectacle they take away with them, that becomes a feature of their memory, or their opinion of fighting generally, is something else. The same is true of a story. Once it has been read and understood by another person, it transcends scribble and becomes communication.

A similar thing can be said of the seemingly impassive eye of the camera. Since the advent of the smart phone, I have taken photos whenever possible. Consequently, I diligently back up my computer’s hard drive at home.

One good selfie deserves another

One good selfie deserves another

Before leaving for my six-month trip overseas, I sat down a few hours before my flight and plugged in the external hard drive to back everything up, but nothing happened.

Not knowing a lot about computers other than how to switch them on and off and plug in the USB cable, I was forced to sling the Macbook in a bag before stepping out the front door to catch my plane.

Upon arrival in Sydney, I wandered down to the local Good Guys and bought a hard drive to perform the necessary backup. I took it home to where I was staying, plugged it in and… nothing happened. So I went back to consult the middle-aged Chinese salesman who had been so helpful.

I explained my predicament to the salesman, who opened the Macbook and then the ‘Photos’ application. I was a little nervous, but all the recent photos were of training with Peter Graham at IMC Blacktown and Sydney City’s Boxing Works, so I thought I’d be okay.

Until the salesman hit one of the ‘display’ buttons, and up came a photo of one of my ex-girlfriends in her underwear.

“Don’t worry,” he said, “Everybody’s computer has it. I’m not looking.”

Unfortunately, I’m not so sure everybody else’s computer has the same volume, or degree of variety.

One of the features of ‘Photo’ on the Mac is that it recognizes faces, and sorts its images accordingly. There were quite a number of young women who appeared under that tab, in a similar – and occasionally even more revealing – state of intimacy.

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In addition, there were photos of me with some of these women at some fairly ridiculous costume parties.

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I have also participated in two Mardi Gras parades, once dressed as a sea-urchin, resplendent with giant flashing wings…

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and then a second time as an alien in gold Perspex armour.

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The designers of the Mardi Gras costumes, Housewives on Fire, are a bespoke fetish fashion house who were kind enough to ask me to model a number of their outfits; once for a catalogue and once for a catwalk parade.

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There was no response from the salesman at all. I felt the blood climb into my head. I wanted to liquefy and soak into the carpet.

“Did you take all these with your iPhone?”

“Some,” I said.

“Some of these are of very professional quality,” he observed.

I could see that his imagination was fabricating some way of relating all my photos that was a hell of a lot more interesting than the fairly prosaic explanation I have provided here.

“What do you do for work?” he asked.

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“I’m a personal trainer. And a writer.”

“Oh?” he said, and gave his first clearly discernible expression – surprise.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I went to the hairdresser the other day, and he said, ‘Here, have a look at my new house.’ He handed me his iPhone – iPhone 6 with a big screen – and I’m scrolling through all the photos of this beautiful big house.

“I’m flicking, flicking, and then, three or four photos in, there’s this woman, front-on, completely nude. And I look around, and there she is, working in the salon.”

Having completed the backup, he closed my computer and ruefully shook his head.

“Chinese women are not so open, unfortunately,” he said, handing me the hard drive.

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