The dark clouds have wafted by and the wind has dropped and I’ve taken off my beanie to release some heat through my dome and put on my sunglasses to combat the sun reflecting from the frost covered nature strips.

I’m sipping strong coffee from my travel mug and glancing into the rear vision mirror as we fang our way towards primary school listening to Gold 104FM and I’m buzzed, to be honest, though I don’t know why because if the past fortnight has proved anything it’s that I’m an insomniac, and to peer deep into the rear of the Tarago I first have to ignore the reflection of my eyes which look like shiny red marbles falling into dark pits of doom.

Archie’s sitting between Maki and Tyson in the middle row and in the backest of the back seats is Lewis staring outside the car, smiling to himself in a way that I recognise. He’s inherited the ‘dreamer’ and ‘drama’ tags from his old man. Right now he’s locked in a scene that has friends and fun in it and it’s affirming his place in the world and I feel happy for him at the same time that I know that he’s in for the regular dose of melancholy that comes to those with a tendency to drift inward.

‘Dad, I really want to learn the drums,’ Archie says, as we pass the music studio that sits right next to our regular Pizza shop.

‘I’ll check it out, Arch,’ I say, turning my hands into drum sticks and whacking the centre of the steering wheel so that I trigger the horn. ‘Shit.’

‘Shit,’ Tyson says.

‘That’s an adult word, Tyson,’ I say.

‘And I want to learn the guitar,’ Lewis yells out.

‘Okay,’ I say. ‘Hey, how’s the band going? Have you found any other members?’

‘Christopher wants to play the guitar as well,’ Archie says. ‘And Aden wants to sing.’

‘You guys are gunna rock this planet!’ I say, before hearing a familiar tune and turning up the volume on the radio. ‘Oh my God, this isn’t… old music. What’re these guys doing on Gold 104? Jesus, what are they called…’

‘The Yah-Yah Band,’ Archie says, with just enough snake-stare into the rear vision mirror to let me know he’s being sarcastic.

‘The Yah-Yah Bears? I like it,’ I say, laughing, before the name comes to me. ‘This is The Cranberries. The song is called Linger.’

‘I want berries,’ Maki yells, wiggling his arms out of his restraints and reaching forward until I hand him back a small container of sliced strawberries.

‘You know, when I first started listening to Gold 104,’ I say, raising my voice. ‘They played Boney M and Fleetwood Mac and The Rolling Stones and even The Beatles and now they’re playing The Cranberries and Alanis Morisset and The Beastie Boys which is crazy because they’re not that old. These are the bands I was listening to when I was in High School and Uni, when I was partying and living in share houses in Warrnambool and when I first started going out with your Mum…’

‘I said Yah-Yah Band,’ Archie says, stalling me from my own reminiscing.

‘You should call your band The Yah-Yah Bears,’ I say. ‘That would be so cute!’

‘We’re not calling our band that,’ Archie says, frowning.

‘All the girls would love it,’ I say. ‘You could dress up in little furry suits and have great names like…’

‘No,’ Archie says.

‘Like you could be called Little Paws… on the drums!’ I say, adopting the role of concert convener. ‘And put your hands together for guitarists Growl and Fish Breath and, Ladies and Gentlemen, vocalist… um… Honey Lips!’

‘God!’ Archie says, putting a hand over his smile. ‘We’re not going to be the Yah-Yah Bears.’

Bear-cubs-dancingI pull-up to a T-intersection and a truck idling through the streets with a load of building materials allows me a moment to see that Lewis is glazed and smiling again, but he’s leaning forward now, and I know the band’s in his head . ‘What do you think of the Yah-Yah Bears, Lewy?’

He frowns a little before saying. ‘Why will the girls like it?’

‘Girls generally like furry little animals,’ I shrug as we turn left, only a few streets away from school and suddenly there’s crowd before us. I’m off stage squinting into the high-powered spotlights and thousands of heads are rising and falling in waves like Styrofoam balls on an oil slick in the ocean on a moonlit night. When I turn away I hold up my hand and there goes the Yah-Yah Bears charging centre stage and the noise of the fans affects me in such a way that I can hardly breath.

‘Oh my God,’ I say again. ‘I think I’ve got your first hit song.’

‘Oh my Dod,’ Maki says, spraying berry spittle.

After counting down a silent one, two, three, four, I sing…


We’re cute little fellas wearing suits of hair

We’re the Yah-Yah Bears and we just don’t care!

Duh-duh-duh-duh-DUH, Duh-duh-duh-duh-DUH


‘Stop it Dad!’ Archie says, as Lewis falls forward, laughing, and then sits up again, laughing.


We take the elevator cause we don’t like stairs

We’re the Yah-Yah Bears and we just don’t care!

Duh-duh-duh-duh-DUH, Duh-duh-duh-duh-DUH


We’ve got mixed lollies but we ain’t gunna share

We’re the Yah-Yah Bears and we just don’t care!

Duh-duh-duh-duh-DUH, Duh-duh-duh-duh-DUH


As we pull up out front of school I say, ‘Arch, before you forget the song, go straight to the rest of the band and sing it to them.’

‘We’re not the Yah-Yah Bears!’ Archie says, jumping to the curb and looking back at me with just enough humour in his eye-roll to make me certain I haven’t traumatised him towards self-harm.

‘You’ve gone coconuts Dad,’ Lewis says as he follows Arch outside.

‘Fish Breath and Honey Lips are going to love that song!’ I shout, as he slams the door shut and takes off.

I’m on the way home with Tyson and Maki who are screaming out behind for another chorus from the Yah-Yah Bears’ first hit single but I’m humming The Cranberries Linger and I lose a moment to the soft crooning of lead singer Dolores O’Riordan and there’s my mates Garry and Scratcha and Ben sitting on a beaten up couch in a rental house in Warrnambool and we’re listening to The Doors and laughing and carrying on and drinking hard before a night on the town and then Reservoir Mum and I are standing at Thunder Point on a stormy morning hearing a wave thump against the cliff face, tasting the ocean in resultant mist and as I turn my back towards it to cover her she’s smiling up at me, her chin beneath the zipped-up collar of her thick coat, her ears protected by her woollen beanie.

When I lean in for a kiss her cheeks are shocks of cold but her breath is hot and her lips are warm and there are more images piling in on that memory; I can smell her in the pillows where she smells me during our lingering mornings in bed together as we wrestle and laugh and have sex beneath our dog and cat patterned doona, and in and around those images now is all the wonderful we’ve discovered between those moments and this one, and I do want to sing another chorus from the Yah-Yah Bears, for Tyson and Maki, but I’m glazed over and smiling right now, choked on a dose of melancholy and – holy shit – that kiss at Thunder Point happened twenty years ago and, yes, it comes as a sad kind of triumph but this song is golden old.