If you had to choose a new name for yourself, which name would you pick?
Oh wow – I guess this is where we fess up to some childhood fantasy we had.
I'll have to split mine into parts.
The first part is that my middle name is Madeliene. When I was a kid, NO ONE was called anything like Madeliene. I know these days that every second girl and her dog is called Madeliene, or something much more exotic, but back in the early seventies, living in a very small NSW country town, I may as well have bought a texta and written FREAK on my forehead.
The second part is that I had an afghan dog called Cleo. If you knew where I lived, you would realise how ridiculous this was. I grew up in central NSW. If you've seen the movie Australia it could look similar. Except Hugh Jackman wasn't shearing our sheep and my mother didn't look much like Nicole Kidman (thank god). The only dogs for hundreds of miles were australian sheep dogs. Kelpies. Tied to logs at night and used to round up hundreds of sheep through the day. But one day my father was driving home from town and he saw this dog running along the side of the road. So he stopped and opened the door to have a look at her and apparently she jumped in the passenger seat, sat up and looked at him, and said, so, where are we going. Dad.
This was our front driveway.
So of course we kept her. Because when it comes to animals my parents are pretty soft. And I loved her. We called her Cleo because she looked like she was always wearing freshly applied eye liner. But no amount of brushing was ever going to get her tangles out. I had to use scissors for that. Don't know how long she'd been lost but she was not a puppy when we found her.
And then we moved.
We moved from flat red earth to green hilly earth. I'd never seen so many hills. When we moved our cattle there, they wouldn't walk up the hills. They'd get to the base of the hill, look up at it, look at us, and say… are you fucking kidding me. You expect me to walk up that!
Now this was my driveway.
And the third part is that I was a runner. I was one of those people who just run. For no reason. I just loved running. And every afternoon I used to take my mangy stray afghan dog called Cleo, and I'd run over the hills. I used to run barefoot in the wind and the cold and the rain. And we'd run for hours.
And when we were a long way from home and it was getting dark, I'd imagine that we lived with a band of gypsies. And that they were back camped somewhere in their caravans doing gypsy type things, while we ran the hills.
And it was at that time that I would imagine that my name really was Madeliene. Because that was the only way I could ever imagine being able to be Madeliene. By being a gypsy and a bit exotic.
Of course now I'd never want to be Madeliene – too common.
Which doesn't really answer the question.