narrator MAGAZINE Quarterly showcase of your regionâ€™s creative writing talent
This issue featuring contributions from: Peter Adams Linda Campbell Greg North and more ...
Spring 2010 Writer-in-Residence: Paris Portingale
About ... What Narrator Magazine is a new, quarterly, Blue Mountains magazine from MoshPit Publishing. It has been designed as a vehicle to provide an outlet for local writers and their short stories, poems and essays of less than 5,000 words. When The magazine is printed quarterly and distributed for sale through local newsagents and booksellers, as well as local accommodation houses and other interested businesses such as coffee shops etc. During the eight weeks following publication, readers are encouraged to go online and vote for their favourite story, poem or essay. Prizes The people’s chosen winners are then awarded small cash prizes of $200, $100 or $50, for first, second and third most appreciated works and their ‘wins’ publicised in the next issue of Narrator. Other than people’s choice prizes, all contributions are unpaid. The magazine is an opportunity for writers and artists to gain exposure for their previously unpublished works. Readers vote via the website for best contribution of the quarter. Only one vote per email address is allowed. Winners names are published in the next issue and awarded sponsored prizes – $200, $100 and $50. Copyright All contributors (writers and artists) retain full copyright in and ownership of their contributions. Advertising Advertisers must reside in or service the Blue Mountains. The cost of the magazine is subsided by advertising. Each page is available for sponsorship, and a maximum of 10% of each page is reserved for advertising. The remaining 90% of each page will be dedicated to content. Advertisers are ‘first come first serve’ – the sooner an advertiser reserves and pays for space, the closer to the front of the magazine their ad will appear. Advertisements will only appear on content pages. In the downloadable PDFs, advertisers’ websites will be hyperlinked to their ads if requested. Opportunities for Blue Mountains artists
Contributors must reside in the Blue Mountains, and sign a statement to that effect. Advertisers must deliver goods or services to that region, but can be located outside of it. Contributors must be aged 18 or over. Contributors must sign a statement confirming that the submission is their original work, that it has never been published before, that they are a resident of the region and that they are 18 years of age or over. All writing and artistic contributors must provide full contact details including home address. These details will be suppressed from publication. All contributors may choose how to have their entry credited, but will be required to offer a name and village/ town e.g. Jenny, Hazelbrook or a pseudonym and village/ town e.g. MoshPit, Hazelbrook. Contributions will not be edited, save for a light spelling, grammar and punctuation check. The publisher retains the right to refuse publication of any submission without explanation. Items deemed offensive or potentially offensive, or items deemed to be propaganda will not be published. No correspondence will be entered into. After publication Once each issue is released in print, the prior issue will be posted to the website for free downloading. With the establishment of other regional Narrator magazines, a ‘best of the best’ will be published annually showcasing the overall winners. Winners have the right to refuse permission to for their submission to be included in this compilation. There will be no payment for inclusion in the annual compilation. How to submit Email your story, poem or essay in Word or other MS Word -compatible format to: firstname.lastname@example.org (Printed submissions will not be used.) Scan and email your signed Declaration with your submission, or post the hard copy to: MoshPit Publishing, PO Box 147Hazelbrook NSW 2779. You will require one Declaration for each submission.
VOTING Local artists are invited to submit images to appear on the Voting will open on 1 October 2010 at cover. These will not be paid for, but MoshPit Publishing will www.moshpitpublishing.com.au/narrator.html provide a vehicle for readers to purchase A3 prints of the artists’ images. MoshPit Publishing will print and despatch Voting will close on 15 November 2010. the poster and pay the artist 40% of the gross payment received for each poster. The remaining 60% will cover Only one entry per email address allowed. MoshPit Publishing’s printing, package and postage costs and GST. Visit the MoshShop at www.moshers.com.au/moshshop/ to Prizes will be awarded to the three entries (across all categories) which receive the most votes as follows: order prints. 1st prize—$200 Writing contributors may also submit an artwork (theirs or 2nd prize—$100 another regional resident’s) to accompany their submission 3rd prize—$50 when published. The publisher reserves the right to print the Winners’ details will be published in the following issue and on submission without the accompanying artwork. the website at www.moshpitpublishing.com.au/narrator.html (or Restrictions substitute). Contributions must be no more than 5,000 words each.
Welcome to the First Edition of Narrator MAGAZINE
BLUE MOUNTAINS that I did—an opportunity to help residents get samples of their work out there, without some corporate boffin ‗being the judge‘. Thank you for your interest But with all due respect to corporate boffins, in this new initiative! the businesses which have advertised in this We‘ve had a fantastic magazine have also made it possible—so if you response to three little have a need and one of these wonderful advertisements which we ran businesses can help, then please consider using in the Blue Mountains them first! Gazette in late July/early August and are very This first collection is uncensored* and pleased to bring you this great collection of virtually unedited, save for a basic spelling, poems, essays and short stories from your grammar and punctuation check. Our aim is to fellow residents. bring out your work and then sit back and let As well as literary contributions, we also have a the people speak. So don‘t forget to vote! few contributions from local artists and If you‘ve ever had a piece of your writing agreement from Paris Portingale (known to published, or enjoyed the thrill of a picture you most as the author of very many amusing letters painted being hung in an exhibition, then you to the Gazette) to be our ‗writer-in-residence‘ would also know the tummy-churning feeling for the first three issues. of ‗putting your work out there‘—it‘s like We live in a great area—not just from an standing naked in front of crowd. environmental point of view—but from a social So to all those contributors who have taken the point of view. Since moving here 19 years ago, brave step of ‗standing naked‘ in front of their I have been constantly delighted with how fellow residents—I thank you for your trust and supportive Mountains residents are of each other and their efforts to lead better lives. This goodwill. Enough from me! Please, start turning the little magazine is one fine example of that. pages, and enjoy this collection in the spirit Although the seed of an idea was only planted with which it was made. in July, it has sprouted and borne fruit much more quickly than I would have thought possible a year or so ago. And that‘s thanks to Jenny Mosher the people who have seen the same opportunity September 2010
A few words from the publisher ...
* Please note that as contributors are aged 18 and over, some contributions contain language and concepts that may be considered offensive. Cover: This issue‘s cover image is courtesy of local Dungatti artist Blake McHugh. Blake‘s ‗Art Stops‘ is a most confronting, yet honest, artwork. It featured recently in his exhibition at the Olde Block Factory Gallery (OBFG), Faulconbridge. For more information about Blake, please contact Robyn Caughlan, curator at the OBFG on 0413 231 831 or via email@example.com
A3 posters on 220gsm paper of Blake‘s image are available for $20 + P&P from the MoshShop at www.moshers.com.au/moshshop Caricature: Jenny Mosher‘s caricature (above) by local artist Todd Sharp. For your own caricature or more info visit www.toddasharp.com
Prominence in the News: The Age of the Celebrity
The Main Event is the Country‘s
Poetry 2 Bright Spark 3 The Liberation of Ted Farmer 10 Saturday Glory 14 My Ancestors 18 A Descent 19 The Good Politician 29 Save Catho 29 Hanging Rock, Blackheath 30 Fatality at Warrimoo 31 Black Future 33 All Mine 33 Out of the Mist
Stories 2 Carving 8 The Playground 9 Fresh Milk 10 God‘s Shout 12 Yes Mum, Why? 13 Journal Extract: The Red Rattler 14 Canine Wisdom 19 The End? 20 Lifewreck 22 What Have you Lost, Old Man? 23 Gathering at Unaminka 28 The Spirit and Ghosts of ‗Catho‘ 30 Beyond the Oak Door 35 Aunt Agnes 36 Everything Seems to be Broken 40 Jules and Aime
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hat should we carve?‖ thought a man in a long dark brown hessian cloak, as he looked upon the mass of jagged rock. A woman dressed the same way, smiled next to him and cocked her head. Her light hair blew in the gentle breeze in time and in the same direction as the light green grass blades. The man and woman both looked down at their belts of chisels, mallets and gourd water bottles. The bright azure sky hung over the green fields, stretching out for miles around them and the light green grass swayed in the wind, changing direction with every breath. The man walked out ahead and moved around the large rock feeling its rough pale grey surface. He reached into his belt and took out a mallet and large wide chisel. He hesitated, looking along the
Jordan Russo Bullaburra huge uneven rocky wall. Then he locked his eyes on a random spot and placed his chisel. Clouds overhead moved along their unhurried endless journeys and the sun began to gleam through the big trees behind the rock mass. All the while, the scraping, the ringing and the beating echoed throughout the day. ―I‘ll start here‖ he called around the corner. He began chipping across the rock smoothing and shaping its ragged surface. The woman stuck her head around the corner. The man looked across the long tall grey wall of rock at the woman as she smiled at him, ―I love you,‖ she whispered. The man smiled and went back to his work. ―You big muscular boofhead,‖ she said, and disappeared back around the corner as the man
snapped his attention from the rock to where she had just been. The man scowled and then broke into a silent chuckle. ―I will start on the opposite side to you and then we shall carve our way to meet up,‖ she called from around the corner. He worked tirelessly all day. Between each placement of the chisel he could hear the strong soothing chipping of the woman - and feel her passion.
occasion he and the woman went together to the market to buy new chisel sizes. On many occasions they would shop for food together and help take care of their sick family members. The busy city streets were filled with people, the tapping of their steps sounding on the cobble stones, carts grating their wooden wheels across bridges over human made waterways and sellers yelling out over ―I love you,‖ she whispered. the murmur of people wearing all The man smiled and went sorts of garb. Some people sat back to his work. on fences staring into space. Others played lively His feet rustled the grass as he tunes on their flutes while adjusted his footing throughout sitting on the streets for hours. the work. At the end of the day as twilight seeped in, he and the The smell of tobacco smoke woman would leave for home. mixed with hot spices, filled his nose. In the mornings on one
Zoya Kraus, Blackheath
“This poem is something I wrote for my son after he/we lost his little sister Lila. I wrote it in support for him but, a creative outlet for myself through grief, and as a way of reaching out to other people in grief. It feels pure and innocent and real to us. I’d LOVE to share it.” - Zoya Kraus, Blackheath Hello White Cockatoo I‘ve Been waiting for you. My night was long, lonely and dark Now here you are, Bright Spark. I feel warm, joyful and light When I see flashes of your yellow and white. You have come to me every single day Since the moment my sister passed away. I KNOW you are her, she is you That‘s why I love you White Cockatoo. Artwork © Zoya Kraus
One day her heart stopped beating Her time with life was brief and fleeting. I feel scared and sad, that‘s the truth But then show up and give me proof A fallen feather, a mighty screech A smile creeps in, you‘re both in reach. My sister is free and with you now Look after her, look after me somehow. Now that I can see her in you I KNOW she lives on, White Cockatoo.
Whenever the man left the city you boofhead‖ she would say, fixed that, but funny enough the and stepped once again onto the whenever she saw him. Heat woman seemed to prefer the spacious plains, the powerfully rippled the air and the man heat when he preferred the fresh air charged into him and pulled his sleeves up. The man cold. then freedom set in The man switched to a with that. Months It was the man and woman‘s finer pointed chisel to circled by as the fine details. The interpretation of the good side inscribe man chipped into stone was smoothed out the rock wall and entirely. It was a stone of humanity, the good in then smoothed out that now looked like a its undulations. He individuals using their minds as man and woman. With moved from the their arms around each now smooth wall to much as their hearts. other, their faces looked the top and began triumphant with bright chiselling that. He opened a bag had to keep drinking from his smiles. They wore simple of small granite stones onto the water and decided they had best robes. The carving‘s muscular surface and ran a big finish for the day. The next day arms showed even the veins rectangular sander across the he got exactly what he wished and scratches that could only be top smoothing it out. for, cooler weather, so cool it so meticulously crafted by Sometimes he leant over the rained for a few days. It passion and skill. It was the edge on his stomach and smiled became uncomfortably cold. man and woman‘s at the woman. ―Get to work Then warmer weather finally
The Liberation of Ted Farmer Charlie was sitting on the Royal‘s verandah With his old mates, Pete and Bill When they saw Ted Farmer‘s trusty ute Come chugging over the hill.
As the ute drove away they returned To the world‘s problems and the drought They forgot all about Ted and his guest And the fact he‘d driven north, not south.
‗Well stone the flamin‘ crows,‘ said Charlie ‗That‘s an unfamiliar sight His missus must have let him out, and I bet not without a fight.‘
Five days went past and the three old mates Were having their daily ‗good oil‘ When they saw the town‘s only police car Pull into the front of the Royal.
Ted‘s wife was notoriously bossy And ruled Ted with an iron hand To see him in town in the middle of the day Meant he‘d finally made a stand.
The passenger door opened and a woman appeared And they recognised Ted Farmer‘s wife She seemed a shadow of her former self As her face registered worry and strife.
interpretation of the good side of humanity, the good in individuals using their minds as much as their hearts. The man was aware that some people believed what they thought were undeniable facts. So their experience was to them, the way of the world - a lack of intellectual faith. The man turned around and saw their home city engulfed in an angry orange blaze. Jordan Russo Bullaburra
Robyn Nance Valley Heights Dan Roberts, the cop approached the three And asked if they‘d seen Ted Farmer ‗Not for a coupla days,‘ they said Then mentioned the beautiful charmer. ‗Just as I feared,‘ Ted‘s wife cried out ‗It‘s that bloody internet – He said he was looking for a new house dog But picked a different kind of pet!‘ As the months went by there was no word Of Ted – he‘d simply disappeared The three old mates called it ―the great escape‖ Drank their beers and quietly cheered.
Just as the weekly bus pulled in The ute came to a shuddering stop Out of the bus stepped a beautiful girl You could almost hear the jaws drop. They watched as Ted stepped forward And whispered in the stranger‘s ear He escorted her over to the ute Dropping her bags into the rear. He pointed out the three watchers – Charlie, Bill and Pete And the girl waved gaily and blew a kiss As she climbed into the ute‘s front seat. Lifting their glasses of amber The three wondered who she could be They all came up with suggestions But no answer could they see.
Prominence in the News: The Age of the Celebrity ―Andy Warhol predicted that the time was nigh when everyone would be famous for 15 minutes‖ - Roger Kimball 2007
urray Masterton (1998) conducted surveys with journalists to ascertain what the essential elements are to make a story newsworthy. Results from the surveys revealed that the three main elements to making a story newsworthy are interest, timeliness and clarity, followed by (in order): consequence (the level of impact on the audience, eg. how interest rate increases will affect home owners), proximity (nearness), conflict, human interest, novelty/unusualness and prominence (best described as any news concerning wellknown or powerful people such as politicians, business leaders and celebrities). When examining today‘s news mediums, it is now ostensibly clear that prominence would rank higher in the newsworthy stakes. Twelve years postMasterton surveys, we have undoubtedly entered not only a new millennium but the Age of the Celebrity. It is the age whereby a chef can become as famous as the movie stars of Hollywood, and the public are educated on every event within their lives. It is an age where
news serves far more than a aware that ―they are dealing in exciting career and you get to conversation piece by serving dreams and fears‖ so they can meet interesting people, 16% as a form of entertainment. certainly capitalise on this said they had an interest in Sally White argues that the notion (White 1996, p.7). What news and current affairs (!), and public ―watch television are the reasons that celebrity 4% wanted to expose wrong bulletins or read daily papers to news acquired so much doing and corruption (Study fill in time and peek into other currency in the media? What Guide CMM29 2009, p.1). people‘s lives, much as they about ethics? Has the adage The survey reveals that almost would read a novel or watch a ―names make news‖ been taken half of the respondents were soap opera‖ (White 1996, p.6). too literally and what are the simply good writers and it was A thorough examination of the consequences of the influx of a glamorous job. Twenty percent became journalists influx of celebrity news across celebrity news? (White 1996, because they get to meet all mediums will argue the case p.14). for modern day society‘s interesting people (undoubtedly It is important to note the insatiability for celebrity ‗goss‘. outcome of John referring to famous people), There will be discussion on the Hemmingham‘s (1998: 335) therefore 20% of journalists are positive, negative, didactic and series of surveys during the guaranteed to advocate psychological aspects of 1990s where he asked investigation of a celebrity celebrity news which will offer journalists why they entered story over a story concerning insight into how prominence their profession, because it is something of more news significance. Cause became so It is the age whereby a chef can befor concern? prominent John Hurst argues in the news. come as famous as the movie stars of that the Australian Firstly Journalists‘ Hollywood, and the public are eduhowever, Association‘s Code cated on every event within their lives. of Ethics stipulates it‘s important to the way ―news one of the contributing factors should be reported‖, but says discuss the journalistic little about what ―kinds of news involvement on the above said as to why prominence stories are so prevalent in the news. topic. Are journalists and the they should or should not John discovered that 27% said report‖ (Hurst 1991, p.23). He editorial department to blame they became journalists for the onset of such also argues that important and prominence? They are certainly because they were good at significant news is often writing, 20% because it is an
overlooked by ―interesting‖ or own political issues. A simple party‖ (Franklin). advertised. ―entertaining‖ news (Hurst click onto So whilst this statement makes Many will argue that celebrity www.ninemsn.com.au (any 1991, p.24). one ascertain that celebrity news is needed for the news time of day) will reiterate the An example is the Prince news is a social tool for industries to survive otherwise Charles story that Sally White influx of celebrity news in bringing people together, ratings and circulation will conjunction with polls on refers to whereby Prince Franklin argues ―however, it flounder (Franklin). The most whether Brad and Angelina Charles broke his arm and should be noted that Fuller‘s fundamental function of a news should adopt another child, achieved a 22 centimetre career depends on the validity organisation is to make a profit blogs on what you think of coverage in Melbourne‘s The and as John Hurst argues ―for of celebrity news‖ (Franklin). Jennifer Aniston‘s hairstyle and Sun News-Pictorial (White unless it can do that or can There are several problems 1996, p.15). Journalists and the a comments board for every depend on some other means of posed by news mediums support (such as private or news-deciding teams are guilty celebrity story. curtailing to the polls and of not asking themselves what Marcy Franklin, author of the providing for market demands government subsidy) it will be is significant about the event. paper America’s obsession with such as celebrity news. As John unable to perform other Sally White argues ―they celebrities and celebrity news: Hurst argues, decisions about important functions‖ (Hurst become seduced by the when is it too much? reveals 1991, p.25). what news name‖ (White stories should However, there should be 1996, p.15). 40% said celebrity news and Hollywood be provided greater weight given to There would be important issues. Journalists gossip had the most coverage, 12% said could have been based on (a) and editorial teams have a thousands of the Iraq war and 5% said politics. responsibility to inform the broken arms public of important news yet psychologist researchers in throughout the world yet a misinterpretation of market the trend in celebrity news is America have argued in royal broken arm has survey data (b) whilst the steadily increasing. There is defence of celebrity news, significantly more credence audience may be more fear that if prominence news ―Celebrity worshippers who do interested in celebrity news, it stories acquire too much than anything else. There are many other examples so for entertainment-social doesn‘t mean they will be prominence in the news than reason are extraverted, seek like the Prince Charles story. ―satisfied if ownership of the we are ―more likely to think information and support, and media is concentrated in a few about celebrities rather than the The most trivial of events can are able to display hands and the dwindling media issues that are pertinent to our become news and thus news emotions‖ (Franklin). outlets present an increasingly democracy‖ (Franklin). mediums tend to concentrate Psychologists in America have narrowing range of news and favourably on prominence Franklin continues her stories to the exclusion of confirmed that the public views‖ and (c) advertisers will argument by citing the words of others. White argues that this obsession with celebrity news take advantage of the media famed journalist Edward R. imbalance in fairness of stems from high school days outlets whose audiences ―have Murrow who in 1958 told the reporting ―perpetuates existing where Radiopower structures and denies a everyone … ―celebrities give us a whole world of Television voice to minorities, the poor follows each News and the weak‖ (White 1996, other‘s Directors people in common – people to gossip romantic p.14-5). about at work over the water cooler or at Association ―going-ons‖ Yes, celebrities provide more Convention, ―grist to the news mill than the and other ―For surely we a dinner party‖ issues person in the street‖ and yes, shall pay for the majority of the public have (Franklin). using the most powerful Adults are deprived of that the purchasing power to buy an abounding interest in instrument of communications social interaction once they their products‖ (Hurst 1991, [television] to insulate the celebrity news but it doesn‘t enter the workforce so p.25). citizenry from the hard and necessarily mean the public discussing who is dating who in It is interesting to note that demanding realities which must should be inundated with it the movie star realm offers many of those advertised be faced if we are to survive. I (White 1996, p.15). some compensation. products are represented by mean the word survive In 2007, researchers at the Pew Franklin questioned Bonnie celebrities and even owned by literally‖ (Franklin). To Research Centre in America Fuller, the chief editorial celebrities as part of their surmise, ―journalists cannot asked the public what news director for America Media branding campaign. An insulate citizens with celebrity stories they considered had the Inc., ―the tabloid conglomerate example is Kylie Minogue: gossip, for it will be detrimental most coverage. 40% said that publishes the Star, the singing sensation plus director to society‖ (Franklin). celebrity news and Hollywood National Enquirer, and the of her own lingerie and Some media outlets are aware gossip had the most coverage, perfume lines. Her products are of this trend and are fighting 12% said the Iraq war and 5% Globe”, about why the public are so infatuated with gossip sold in Myer and David Jones back with huge success. said politics. Australia is news (Franklin). Bonnie‘s who are major advertisers in Frankie Magazine editor Jo renowned for following American trends and there is a answer is ―celebrities give us a the online and print news Walker is proud to admit their whole world of people in mediums. There is a higher significant similarity between rising success in magazine common – people to gossip tendency to run a story on these circulation is due to ―divesting our news coverage of celebrities if their product is of celeb goss‖ and replacing celebrities compared to the war about at work over the water cooler or at a dinner also paying large sums to be with ―scone recipes, articles on in Afghanistan and some of our
indie artists, DIY tips‖ (Wells of Princess Diana to get a close about a third of us have it in 2010). Walker quotes in The -up of their in-demand target. some form or other. Age, ―I think last year, with the Grahame Griffin argues in Researchers believe a reason GFC, people started looking for agreeance to the question of for this syndrome is that things that were a bit more invasion of privacy, ―This celebrities offer a diversion or genuine and real. That‘s something we‘ve also Celebrity Worship Syndrome, a term tapped into, this whole new craft movement with a lot coined by psychiatrists to diagnose indiof emphasis on handmade and DIY, which people are viduals who have an unhealthy interest in loving right now‖ (Wells the lives of the rich and famous 2010). This is evidence that audiences event [Princess Diana tragedy] escape from reading about highlights once again the depressing or negative news are still just as amused, if not ethical question that continually (Lagorio 2006). more, by reading down-to-earth subjects. The fact that Frankie dogs more professional and Researchers also believe that sensitive press photographers – many positives, didactic Magazine covers exhibit the question of invasion of unknown, fresh faces is also positives, can come out of the privacy‖ (Griffin 1998, p.301). syndrome. For example, if evidence that profit can be made without a famous name Whilst there is a demand for celebrities are attached to an these photo‘s for tabloid organisation promoting a health attached to it. magazines there should issue (eg. Asthma awareness), Other issues that arise with an certainly be a there will more publicity and an increase of celebrity news protocol set increased awareness that include invasion of privacy in wouldn‘t achieve the same and Celebrity Worship results if the celebrity name Syndrome, a term coined wasn‘t attached by psychiatrists to (Lagorio diagnose individuals who have an unhealthy interest in the lives of the rich and famous (Gray). Invasion of privacy is one of the ethical issues still standing in today‘s society whilst a high demand of celebrity stories and photo galleries exists. The place greatest case to spark the to protect ethical debate is the case of famous Princess Diana and her tragic personalities from end in the Paris tunnel. Sally a tragedy White argues that whilst many synonymous to famous personalities ―actively Princess Diana, court publicity‖, questions will irregardless of arise about the ―degree to whether the celebrity which all parts of a person‘s courts the publicity 2006). life and the lives of their This awareness themselves. families or intimates should increases consumer Celebrity Worship become public education. Society will Syndrome is another property‖ (White 1996, p.15). contributing factor to the influx understand more about an When there‘s demand there‘s a of celebrity news. According to important topic and thus lives market so it‘s no surprise that researchers at Southern Illinois can be saved in the cases of the paparazzi will go to University School of Medicine, awareness for health issues. It‘s extremes such as the tailgating no wonder that organisations
actively seek a ‗face‘ or ambassador for their campaign. Another positive aspect is that celebrity news can convey important political issues that normally achieve less coverage. For example, the actor George Clooney is a political activist for the United Nations and raised considerable awareness about the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. Many people who are categorised as Generation Y would have been hard pressed to have known who Robert Mugabe is, let alone what was occurring in Zimbabwe. But they all know who George Clooney is and it is this prominence in the news which can really be of benefit. Matthew A. Baum, Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of California argues that those who are oriented moreso with the soft news or celebrity media can be ―exposed to information about high-profile political issues, most prominently foreign policy crises, as an incidental by -product of seeking
entertainment‖ (Baum 2002, p.91). In other words, these ―politically inattentive individuals‖ are learning whilst they think they are zoning in to yet another, entertaining, George Clooney story (Baum 2002, p.91). We are inundated with stories concerning celebrities and their
various charities or positions sometimes do not, so we to the other news mediums that Syndrome which apparently within organisations such as the welcome this occasion and look down-to-earth and significant one in three people suffers UN, and whilst the celebrities forward to a very lively and news is back in fashion. from. themselves agree that they have interesting In conclusion, the most With every negative there is a a high profile in the media, they exchange‖ (www.un.org). important point that can be positive and prominence are simply using their star What can we expect to happen made is that a balance needs to certainly provides positive power to focus people‘s in the future with prominence be sought with the amount of outcomes such as utilising star attention to important matters, a in the news? If Frankie prominence news versus power to promote a good cause positive that comes out of over- Magazine editor Jo Walker is significant and important news. and inadvertently educate soft exposure and exactly the point anything to go by, prominence It will always remain a fact that news readers on political that Professor Matthew Baum will back down to where it used names do make news but the issues. Prominence can be makes above concerning soft to belong in the issue with names making too utilised to provide impact, both news readers being exposed to newsworthiness stakes. The much news is that people are good and bad. Sally White political information fact that the existence of influenced to believe that argues how some stories may inadvertently. research surveys and news prominence stories are the most appear to be a prominence story George Clooney, one of the stories scorning the celebrity important issues. John Hurst but are really an impact story. most recent An example recipients of the White gives George Clooney, one of the most recent recipients of the Messenger of is when Peace title by the Messenger of Peace title by the United Nations told ABC Kerry Packer United Nations told a News, ―I think what they‘re looking to gain from [awarding suffered ABC News, ―I heart attack think what they‘re me] is cameras following me to places that they‘re trying to while looking to gain a get attention to and that‘s fine. That‘s a good use of celebrity playing from [awarding polo match. me] is cameras According to if you ask me‖ following me to statistics places that they‘re trying to get news influx serves as a argues ―If particular kinds of from the National Heart attention to and that‘s fine. reminder that prominence in the issues or events are given Foundation, ―One Australian That‘s a good use of celebrity if news really does concern a lot generous air time or newspaper dies every 10 minutes from you ask me‖ (Willoughby of people, both the public and space, they may be easily cardiovascular disease‖ (White academics alike. There is more considered by the audience as 2008). 1996, p.15-6). Kerry Packer‘s Angelina Jolie, also famous for to life than reading about Paris particularly important‖ (Hurst collapse made front page news her contributions to the UN as Hilton‘s pet Chihuahua‘s new 1991, p.24). the next day under bold wardrobe. Goodwill Ambassador, told It‘s not to say celebrities aren‘t headings such as The Age’s ABC News a similar reason for Erica Bartle argues in her necessarily important or ―Kerry Packer critical after celebrity involvement in media blog Girl with a Satchel, significant. Entertainment and heart attack‖ and The political activism, ―[Activism] "Paris Hilton is a product that the Arts are an extremely Australian Financial Reviews gives celebrity some reason. evolved with the boom. She important and functional ―Packer heart attack: TV in Celebrity is very weird … So symbolised all the excesses of structure of society. Journalists turmoil‖ (White 1996, p.15-16). when you‘re doing something the boom: slim, blonde, and editorial teams simply need Whilst some will argue ‗why is good and can bring attention to ostensibly a bimbo, obsessed to prioritise news stories to the story about Kerry when that or discuss that, then it feels with the here and now and serve the public interests better. many people die from heart like you have some sense in living for the moment. Paris‘ There are many issues of attacks?‘, it‘s actually a corruption, politics, health, your life‖ (Willoughby 2008). star may fade during the credible way of alerting readers recession because she finance, to name but a few, Gillian M. Sorensen, the to the affects of a deadly Assistant Secretary-General for symbolises all the frivolity and which are overlooked in the disease. If Kerry dies and emptiness of rampant name of celebrity news. External Relations voiced the television is in turmoil, it‘s all consumerism. She‘s the wrong What we‘ve discovered is that because of a heart attack – advantage of celebrity product for the time" (Bartle involvement in the UN at a whilst many citizens are in something that affects one in 2009). New York meeting organised favour of prominence in the ten Australians. for celebrity advocates of UN Thankfully the GFC, as news, there are many negatives causes, ―We think this is a very abysmal as it has been for many entailed such as the lack of Albany Dighton special gathering – we know individuals, is ironing out importance given to news that Faulconbridge that [celebrities] reach excesses of superfluous matters, invasion of privacy audiences and younger people information. Lets hope Frankie issues and the almost unheard that our own speakers Magazine can send an example of Celebrity Worship
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The Playground I t had been one year since she had seen her son. She could still feel his soft skin. His arms slightly hairier than they had been in the last few years. He had grown tall over the summer. Long, lanky. His thick dark hair, slightly over his eyes. Never brushing it as he rushed to get to school in the morning. He had started high school this year. He felt older, proud. That morning he had packed his own lunch. A ham sandwich. He was running late, she offered to drive him. He declined. He ran for the bus, a piece of toast in his hand. He forgot his maths text book. It was left on the kitchen table together with his half finished Milo. She waved goodbye as she did every morning from the door. He no longer wanted to be kissed goodbye. He was ‗too
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hour later. She rang her husband. It was difficult to talk. She was in shock. One of the staff came to pick her up and drove her to the hospital. In the car, she couldn‘t speak. Her heart beat fast; she felt a cold sweat all over her body. Mrs. Davies, the School Counsellor, kept telling her, the ambulance got there very quickly. She couldn‘t even cry. Her face felt frozen, paralysed. Her mind fuzzy. They got there before her husband. He had to drive through city traffic. He was strong for her. He spoke to the doctors. He asked questions. She couldn‘t even cry. She still couldn‘t speak. Her face felt frozen, para- He asked to see They held lyzed. Her mind fuzzy. him. him and cried and cried. She old for that‘. ―Have a good couldn‘t let him go. Her day‖ she said to him. husband had to pull her away. She cleared the breakfast She cried. She couldn‘t stop. dishes, and then went to have a Her chest was still tight. Grief shower. She had a bit of had invaded her, inside and out. shopping to do before work. Tonight‘s dinner? His favourite She could feel nothing else. Her husband was angry. He was meatballs with spaghetti. drove fast. He shouted. He ate She would surprise him with this. He had been doing so well quickly and he watched television whenever he was at school. She was proud of home. He didn‘t talk about it. him. Her daughter would complain. Why didn‘t she cook After a few months she wanted to talk to him about it but he her favourite? still could not. She rushed her daughter and She went to a grief counsellor. kissed her goodbye. She She was afraid but the pain watched her as she walked to inside was so big it was eating the bus stop. They were every part of her. growing up fast. He didn‘t want to meet the The call had come about an boy‘s parents. What for? There
Alejandra, Martinez Springwood was no point to it. The Counsellor said it could help. She had agreed. It had taken her a long time to say yes she would meet them. But only the mother. The boy‘s parents had wanted to meet just after it happened. She couldn‘t. The boy‘s parents sent flowers and a card. Three months later she refused again. She
dress was walking towards her. It must be her; she had told her she would wear a blue dress. ‗Are you Renee?‘ the woman asked as she faced her. She looked like she was in her mid forties. Her hair was discolored and the grey was showing. ‗Yes, I am.‘ The woman sat down next to her. ‗I‘m Amy. Thank you so much for meeting me.‘ They looked at each other. She the victim‘s mother. The other,
the attacker‘s. barely left the house. Amy looked at her. Today she was meeting her. They had Her chest was still tight. arranged a park nearby. The park Grief had invaded her. had a pond with ducks. She liked ‗Everyday I hate myself for it there. what my son has done.‘ She She didn‘t tell her husband or spoke softly. her daughter. ‗I don‘t just blame myself, I She got there early, she wanted despise myself.‘ Her eyes were to prepare herself. It was a moist. They were a very clear warm day. The pond was full blue. with ducks. A brood of ‗Don‘t‘, she found herself ducklings followed their saying. mother in a line. For a minute, the mothers of Se watched the ducks feed. A boys killed in wars and the woman wearing a navy blue
mothers of sons who had killed flooded her mind. She didn‘t feel pity for this woman, or anger. She didn‘t feel anything. ‗I didn‘t know he had a knife. He had bought it with his own money. He carried it in his schoolbag. I never looked in his bag. I didn‘t want to snoop, or invade his privacy. I thought he might have notes in there from a girl he liked. Or empty chip packets. I was always at him not to eat junk food. He was getting fat. He didn‘t like sports much.‘ The woman spoke quickly. Her words tripping over each other. ‗I don‘t want to know. I don‘t want to know your son or anything about him. It‘s too late. I don‘t know why he killed my son and I don‘t want to know.‘ The woman began to cry. The words ‗killed my son‘ piercing
through her. ‗Then why did you agree to meet me?‘ she managed to get out through her sobs.
He‘s not here.‘ ‗I‘m so sorry‘. ‗I take valium everyday to dull the pain. I don‘t want to get up, but I have to ‗I don‘t just blame myself, I for my daughter.‘ despise myself.‘ ‗Sometimes I drive past the ‗I don‘t know. I thought it school and I stop and look at it. might help.‘ You think your children will be ‗This has destroyed my life and safe in the playground. I see my family‘s. I have two him there, standing with his bag younger children who have over his shoulder, smiling and I suffered deeply because of this. just want to die. Some days it I‘m not saying this to take away doesn‘t feel real.‘ from your pain. I don‘t know She looked at the ducks as she why my son did what he did. spoke. He was a normal boy. He had ‗I don‘t feel angry at your son friends. They were arguing or at you. I just feel pain and about a ball.‘ loss. I feel the loss of ‗Please don‘t tell me. I have childhood, of innocence. You read all the reports. I know you know it‘s strange, but I don‘t have a need to tell me, but I just feel my loss but a greater don‘t want to hear it. Every loss, a collective loss. I want to morning when I wake up it‘s cry for every mother that has the first thing I think about. lost a child. It‘s almost like I‘m
carrying the pain of all those mothers.‘ Amy reached over to take her hand. She quickly took it away. She didn‘t want this woman‘s sympathy. The woman was crying. Lives that will never be lived. They haunted her. Both women sat there looking at the ducks. She looked at the distraught mother. She knew that this woman was wounded too. The playground would never be a place of dreams again. Alejandra Martinez Springwood
John Egan Leura This is a story about myself.
When I was about 10 years old, I was taken by my parents on holidays to Tuggerah, a seaside town on the Central Coast. I remember that the name of the cottage that my Father rented was ―Tomani‖. The first morning after arriving, and before breakfast, I was told to take the billy can and go across the ploughed paddock at the rear of the cottage, for milk from the local dairy. I was told to ask if the milk is fresh. Experience told me to follow instructions to the letter, so dutifully I asked ―Is the milk fresh?‖ The farmer looked up from what he was doing and said, ―Can‘t you see, it‘s coming from the bloody cow?‖ ―Yes,‖ I said, ―I can. But the cow may not have been milked for months!‖
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Saturday Glory I‘m here right now, the wind blowing strong. Way up high, and coming down to greet me on a whim. It‘s fresh, it‘s crisp and enticing. The light sound of a clarinet comes to greet me and fades, A light aircraft passes on with a jet up high in harmony. I stare around my garden, very sparse in a square formation. The place I bought is just that, the place I bought. My roobis tea keeps me company as the morning moves into noon. Neighbours stirring, traffic and noises collaborating. The wind still stirs my soul, it‘s something ancient And strong in amongst these modern dreams. The wind it stirs louder, the trees they sound like the ocean waves, Then it dies down to silence, the sun rays are light on my face And the sound of the clarinet comes floating back, While the wind takes a short break. I feel I am right here, right now. Margaret Dighton, Woodford
David Berger Lawson
Ian, Mark and I met God at the front of the pub on Saturday afternoon ...
an, Mark and I met God at the front of the pub on Saturday afternoon. We went inside and sat on four stools at the corner of the bar. I was going to order our first round of beers, ―What‘ll You have?‖ I asked God. ―Make it the same as yours,‖ He said, ―I like to try different brands.‖ No one else knew He was God, only us. He just looked like an old bloke wearing a red checked shirt and a pair of dark blue overalls. Each of us had a hundred questions to ask Him, but we sat patiently until the beer arrived. I paid for it, then we all watched as God sipped His first mouthful of Aussie beer. He gave out a great sigh of pleasure and put His glass down on the bar. We grinned
at each other. Mark smiled at God and asked, ―Is it better than American beer?‖ ―Oh, I‘m afraid the Americans don‘t ask Me to have a beer with them,‖ He said mournfully, ―so I can‘t say I‘ve really tasted it ...‖ We were keen to get onto the really deep theological questions. ―So, what do You do at Christmas?‖ Ian asked. ―Oh, I love listening to the carols, especially the outdoor Carols by Candlelight that you Aussies are able to have... As a matter of fact last year I was just sitting in my little singularity listening to the carols from Rooty Hill, and I was thoroughly enjoying them, until Gabriel came in and told Me there was a storm front rapidly approaching Rooty Hill
from the south and it was due to wash out the show. ‗Can‘t we do anything?‘ I asked him, ‗No,‘ he said, ‗it was that butterfly flapping its wings again in Brazil, last Friday.‘ I got a bit annoyed about this, so I said to Gabriel, ‗Run it all
God had the same brand as Mark this time. ―Tell us a joke, God,‖ Ian said, ―Got any good political or sexy jokes?‖ ―Yes, perhaps,‖ He said, ―but do you know, I could never understand your ‗Knock,
It was God‘s shout, His turn to buy the beer. We put our empty glasses on the bar and looked at Him expectantly. backwards quickly and get the butterfly to flap its wings on Saturday. He started to protest, but I had to shoosh him because ‗We Three Kings of Orient Are’ was just beginning.‖ ―You‘ve got to be kidding,‖ I said. We finished our beers and Mark ordered another round.
Knock, who‘s there?‘ jokes... All right, umm, let Me see... what is green in the morning, yellow in the afternoon and blue at night?‖ We all shook our heads and said, ―Don‘t know.‖ He laughed loudly, then said with a great merry hoot, ―Seventeen!‖ He roared with laughter while
we looked at each other like ―Yeah, END,‖ Ian repeated. It was God‘s shout, His turn to idiots. But a pretty girl sitting buy the beer. We put our ―End, finish, kaput.‖ further along the bar had heard ―Yeah ,‖ I added, ― You know, empty glasses on the bar and God‘s joke and giggled so looked at Him expectantly. He Armageddon, Oblivion, no much that she had to squeeze patted his pockets, ―My more Earth.‖ round?‖ He asked with an her legs together. ―You mean, ‗end‘?... upward inflection, raising His ―How come she gets Your joke eyebrows in and we don‘t?‖ I I like Big Bangs, Worm-Holes between a painful, asked. apologetic ―Eh? ... Oh ... She‘s universes ... and designing flowers ... way that an angel,‖ He said, suggested ―Today‘s her day He was broke. END?????‖ God said, ―Now off.‖ ―Yes,‖ we said in unison and We stared at her; she smiled a you‘ve got to be kidding... watched him. watching the Earth and the ‗hello‘ and returned to her antics you lot get up to is My ―I couldn‘t bless myself with a chardonnay. We hadn‘t seen second favourite past-time! It‘s dollar ... I didn‘t come her before. She looked ... not going to end soon ... if at prepared ...‖ ordinary ... blue jeans and a all.‖ yellow shirt, brownish hair, no He smiled at us regretfully, and make-up ... maybe early ―Is there really life after death,‖ He knew we were disappointed. thirties, give or take a I asked, ―and if so what However, He took on a serious expression and called the barmillennium. happens?‖ ―Okay, God, let‘s cut to the ―Do you think that death is part maid over and asked for four chase,‖ I said, ―Which religion of life, or life is part of death?‖ glasses of water, which were He asked. Then He sipped His free. Ian scowled. Mark stuck is true?‖ out his lower lip. I just shook beer and said ―Just remember He winked at me and then my head and thought to myself, that life is a continuity, it looked at Mark and Ian, then ‗This is Australia, mate. You always is. It had a beginning me again. He had a huge smile can‘t welch on a shout.‘ on His face and said, ―The one which had no beginning and an end which has no ending. It just God looked at us for a moment practised by the animals ...‖ is, and you‘re all in the loop. and grinned, then lightly ―Animals?‖ But, to put it in a nutshell, read touched each glass of water and ―Yes, you know, dogs, cats, the poems of Emily Dickinson it instantly turned into beer. birds, and all that.‖ if you really want to understand ―Wow! Where‘d Y‘learn that ―Do you mean,‖ Mark asked, it all.‖ trick?‖ Mark asked with his ―that despite all the wars, We looked at each other. It face lighting up into a smile. persecutions and arguments seemed that most of our ―My young bloke... My son... none of our religions are true preconceived ideas were going he picked it up in, um... San … not even a bit?‖ out the window. Here we were Francisco? Or was it New with the greatest opportunity God chuckled loudly and York? Anyway, somewhere in anyone could have asked for merrily. The angel let out an America. I love those Yanks, uncontrollable shriek of and we were left floundering. they‘re always doing the amusement. They both sat Then Mark said, ―Ah... You ‗Lord‘s Work‘ for Me. I know there swaying on their barsaid before that watching us they try their best, but look how stools. God couldn‘t stop was Your second favourite past they stuffed up Greenland!‖ laughing and had to hold His -time?‖ ―Greenland?‖ we all said at the sides. He almost fell of His The angel was just coming same time. chair. The angel had to leap up back from the Ladies‘. ―Oh, sorry about that. No, that and run to the Ladies‘ Loo. ―What‘s Your favourite activity hasn‘t happened yet, has it?‖ ―Ho,‖ He said, amid big gasps He turned to the angel for then?‖ Mark continued. of air. ―That‘s a great joke – confirmation and she shook her God drew in a breath and didn‘t see that one coming!‖ head with what seemed to be a surreptitiously glanced over We mere mortals could only toward the angel. She glared at look of exasperation on her look at each other stupidly. face. Like a mother would do Him. God actually seemed to Better change the subject. It squirm. He smiled at the angel, with an errant son. was Ian‘s shout and he bought then turned to us, ―My ―That water to beer trick ... You four more beers. favourite activity is, ah, how sure it didn‘t come from Cana ―When will this world end?‖ can I put this... I like Big or Galilee, or somewhere over God looked at Ian, cocked His Bangs, Worm-Holes between there?‖ I asked. head over to one side and raised universes... and designing ―No, that was wine,‖ He said. an eyebrow, ―End?‖ He asked, flowers... ahem.‖ He glanced Of course! seeming not to understand. at the angel. She coughed loudly.
We kept drinking and the horse races were droning away continuously on the pub TV screens. We were all feeling merry and the angel was getting tipsy. I thought she was starting to look very attractive and considered chatting her up, then the devil walked in through the open door. ―Hi Dad!‖ he called. God turned to him and smiled. ―Hi Nick! You should try some of this Aussie beer, it‘s a bit like that stuff pharaoh gave you a few years back.‖ Nick pulled up a stool and bought himself a beer with real money. He was dressed very neatly in casual clothes. He had black hair and a black goatee beard. We stared at him, then at each other. ―Is this the son who taught You the water into beer trick?‖ I asked. ―No, that was the other one, he should be here shortly ...‖ Two sons? ―Well,‖ I fumbled, ―how does that fit in with the trinity bit? We‘ve tried for centuries to work out how the trinity operates, but if You‘ve got two sons ...?‖ ―Heh, heh, heh ... yes, I know,‖ God said, ―I‘ve had a few chuckles over that one. But, do you know what? It never was trinity it was always trilogy. You lot got it all terribly wrong. It should be TRILOGY.‖ I could imagine a few theologians pulling their hair out over that one. Suddenly it all seemed much simpler ... we should have listened to the Jews. ―Well, what trilogy?‖ Ian asked. ―Hi Dad!‖ someone called as he approached from the door, ensuring that Ian was not going to get a quick answer. The other son had arrived and pulled up a bar-stool. Jeans, sandals, white tee-shirt, long hair and a wispy beard. The angel walked over and sat beside him with two new glasses of chardonnay. He took a sip,
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―Hmm ... nice ... Rosemount condescension, it was more like 2004?‖ he asked the angel. She sympathy. smiled and nodded. He turned ―Hey Jess,‖ God said, ―what to Nick, time‘s the bus coming?‖ ―How‘ve you been, Nick?‖ ―About five minutes, I think. ―Not bad, Jess, except for that Depends on the traffic.‖ damned Faust. Look, he‘s the ―What traffic? What bus? only customer I‘ve got. You What ... what trilogy?‖ I asked, couldn‘t take him off my hands, feeling the frustration rising in could you?‖ my body. Jess laughed, ―That original price he paid, with inflation, would be God finished His beer and higher than a signalled to the barmaid for Sydney mortgage three glasses of water. by now, but I‘ll think about it.‖ ―What were you saying, Ian?‖ God looked at me in a really beautiful, kindly way, ―We‘ve God asked respectfully. got to get home soon and the ―Oh it doesn‘t matter!‖ Ian bus is picking us up. It has to said, letting his shoulders slump. This was all getting too come down from Andromeda and the traffic has more to do much for us. Mark started to whistle softly and tunelessly. I with the magnetic lines of this looked at the four visitors and solar system. It should be here in a few minutes. What was the wondered if it would be other thing? Oh yes, the appropriate to take a photo of trilogy ... or more officially, them with my mobile phone. ‗The Doctrine of the Whole ―It wouldn‘t turn out,‖ the Trilogy‘... it‘s based on the angel said. Wow! She had read equilateral triangle, as my mind! ―Nor would your deciphered by Pythagoras and earlier ideas...‖ she added with rendered comprehensibly a smile. It wasn‘t with perspicuous to humanity by the
Yes Mum, Why?
recondite work of Hermes Trismegistus, these three arcana were the lacunae before the Big Bang, written by black fire on white fire bringing the letters of the alphabet into existence so that the universe could be created, through the tomes of existence, silence and lucidity, each rendered from the perspective of a sixty degree angle, the cosine of which, when multiplied by the geodetic constant, gives the prime integer for analysing string theory‘s measurement of the Theory Of Everything, or TOE ...‖ ―Bus is here!‖ the angel said, picking up her purse. She gave us a wave goodbye, and kissed me on the cheek. Jess and Nick walked with her out through the door. God finished His beer and signalled to the barmaid for three glasses of water. He turned them into beer and said, ―I‘ve really enjoyed myself this afternoon, gents, thanks for the experience. Do you think we could do it again some time? No, probably not ... I‘m very busy. Oh well ... if you get the
chance to drop in and see me, I‘ll try to organise something.‖ ―Do you think we‘ll meet again?‖ Ian asked, in such a sad but longing way. ―Yeah,‖ God said, ―don‘t see why not!‖ He got up and walked to the door, then He paused and came back to us. He bent over towards us in a conspiratorial manner, we leaned our heads in close to Him, ―Number eight in the next race at Flemington,‖ He whispered, winked, then went out with a loud ―Mazel Tov!‖ We sat there without a word for two or three minutes. Mark picked up the racing ‗form guide‘ and looked for the next race at Flemington. ―The next race is in ten minutes, and number eight is called ... Tipsy Angel!‖ We were stunned. Then we jumped up as one and made a rush to the TAB betting window … David Berger Lawson
John Egan Leura
he room was bright and cheery. I sat with a man I knew very well, a man senior to me. I asked him if he would mind telling me what it was like growing up when he was a boy; was there anything that he could recall in relationship to his Mother that he will remember for the rest of his life? I saw before me a gentleman, sitting quietly, looking straight ahead, his hands clasped together and resting on a walking stick. He did not move, except to turn his head towards me and say: When I was twelve years old, I remember, we had a cat. Being the only boy in the family it was my job to feed the cat whom I recall liked sardines. Mum bought them often. There came a day when I decided to sample the sardines. I liked what I tasted so the cat got one, and I got two, until there were no more left. Some time later, I was asked, had I fed the cat? I answered, ―Yes, Mum, why?‖ ―Because,‖ Mum said, ―the cat is very noisy and will not let me out of sight. There is only one thing left to do.‖ When I went to take the cat‘s bowl of sardines from Mum, Mum gave me a clip over the ears, with the comment ―I can smell your fishy breath!‖ I listened attentively to all that was said. I smiled the smile of understanding, which was acknowledged. I left the room happy in the thought that my father was being well cared for.
Journal Extract: The Red Rattler was the Easter weekend. We were supposed to say ‗until death does part us‘. He dumped me I tinstead. He said that he couldn‘t bear to watch me dying, so the bastard left me crying. In hindsight I see that Easter as a watershed, my personal independence day. Cancer became my strength, eventually. And now, looking through the window of the old ‗red rattler‘ (the Hawkesbury train) I tried to enjoy the sight of the cows and horses casually grazing in stupendously green paddocks. I tried to enjoy the sight of hills, something I‘d sorely missed while living on the Hay Plain which I had so recently left. The Hay Plain is mostly flat, dull and brown. Our house by the Sturt Highway was on the only hill I knew of on the Plain. We were surrounded by Paterson‘s curse which my ex hated, as any horticulturalist hates noxious weeds. I didn‘t mind it, I could look out through the windows of our house on the hill past the orange orchard, and see a veritable ocean of purple. Now that I was back with the hills, the valleys, the trees and streams, I missed that piece of semi-desert. Even the promise of the Blue Mountains that I loved so much and could see in the distance couldn‘t ease my mind. So there I sat, on the red rattler with the bell on my faithful blue leather travelling bag jingling merrily. Don‘t you just despise a cheery companion when you‘re in the throes of utter depression? But I loved that bag with its bell, we‘d travelled many places together through many adventures … so I didn‘t throw it out the window. Unlike modern trains, the red rattler, which ran between Riverstone (the end of the electric line) to Richmond, had windows that opened. If that wasn‘t enough air conditioning there was a fan in each carriage. In winter you shut the windows … and there was a heater in each carriage. Anyway, I sat on that train cursing men and fate for having to be on the train. It never occurred to me at the time to curse myself for being there. I had a thought the other day and said to my sister Di, ‗I could probably smile again if I could live out of the boot of a car.‘ Preferably the new Laser that my ex was driving while I mused on the train. ‗Don‘t be stupid,‘ Di said, taking my wistful comment far too seriously. ‗I‘ve done that and it‘s nothing to smile about.‘ I‘d done it myself several times and it had never bothered me, but I kept that thought to myself. ‗You have to get well and start a new life,‘ she went on, ‗don‘t even think about a car until you can afford a decent one.‘ Oh crap, I thought, that‘s eons away and my poor blue bag is terminally ill from years of use and abuse. I hated public transport then. I spent a lot of time, between tests and treatments, travelling from one sister‘s home to another. I needed to regain some sort of control over my life and by moving around, I didn‘t feel like I was intruding so much on my sisters lives. I had to carry assorted timetables for buses and trains. My sisters all lived in convenient spots … when I had a car. They lived in different directions and the Mountains/Penrith and Richmond trains were on different lines and buses were few and far between, except for Lower Portland (outside of Richmond), which has no buses at all, in school holidays that is. I was forever trying to organise connections and timetables. But worse than the inconvenience of public transport was having to pull out my battered concession card which told the world that I was unemployed. It didn‘t tell anyone that I was thrust homeless into a world of sickness benefits. It didn‘t state that my pride would prefer that I didn‘t use the card but my financial state dictated that I had to. No, my card simply stated my name, age, address and expiry date. Every time I said ‗half please‘, to a bus driver I could see the thought flicker in his eyes that here was another half fare that his job was dependent on. Why was he dependent on us? Because all the full fares were driving cars! I sat on the train thinking over and over about my ex. I thought of all the warning signs that I had ignored. We have an inbuilt radar system to help us avoid emotional disasters in relationships. It‘s called a ‗gut feeling‘, which is simply a mix of intuition and rational thinking. But it‘s a faulty system. If you‘ve been in a bad relationship, you know how it works. Something he says or does gives you a feeling that things don‘t quite ‗gel‘. These warning bells ring now and then in your head, but your heart makes excuses. And then one day you get a real clangourn, so you bury your thoughts the way an ostrich buries its head. So, the relationship goes on and you become more dependent as you desperately cling on to it. Then you end up somewhere like the Windsor train wishing that someone would put your mind in a straight jacket, turn the taps off behind your eyes and give you one coherent thought that didn‘t involve the words why, if, how, bastard, it‘s over, it‘s over … That‘s one of natures little quirks encumbering a speedy recovery from heartbreak … reiteration. I can laugh at this now. I was like the heroine in one of those old silent movies, ‗The perils of …‘ Except that I always had to save myself. There was never a white knight, a cowboy with a white hat or a new age sensitive man on hand. So I was finally forced to find my independence, and for that I am grateful. Nana J Woodford
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My Ancestors The rivers are my Ancestors They give me fish to feed, With the wisdom of the ages Deep within a planted seed. Passed by Elders to the young Sound knowledge and values taught, Our place within this natural world The answers to questions sought. My lyrebird she comes to me And sings her clever song, She shares with me her qualities To show that I belong. She sings me up a rainbow And lets my dreams take air, But all the while reminding me That I love, I listen and I care. When in times I feel alone My Ancestors lost from me, I remind myself they live again In the stars, the land, the sea. Karen Maber Woodford
Canine Wisdom M
ew had placed my mat in front of the Aga stove, a most considerate action, as although it wasn‘t that cold, being late summer I preferred being inside. This inbetween weather was miserable, overcast with showers of rain: grey and bleak. So I didn't really mind that Few* (his wife) had not unlatched the doggy door to enable me to go about my usual inspection of the property boundaries. I sighed contentedly and stretched my four legs as far as I could thus doubling my length
Janet Richardson Leura
as the smell of lamb roast muddy puddles to splash and ―Niggy stop that,‖ ―Niggy permeated the air. If I kept out roll in. I would take perverse come here,‖ Few would shout of Few‘s way I would most delight in ignoring Few‘s as I happily splashed and slid. I certainly be rewarded with shouts at me to stop the muddy always feigned innocence and some tasty deafness at such leftovers. A I sighed contentedly and stretched my times and it was happy gentle especially groan escaped four legs as far as I could. fulfilling to hear from my lips at the humans shriek the thought and I retracted my romp and I particularly loved with laughter, they were extended limbs and curled into the admiring stares from the enjoying my muddy romp too! a tight ball and, with another When I finally conceded to other dogs; I was their hero! I gentle groan happily slipped knew they wanted to join in the Few‘s commands and ran to the back into my world of pleasant fun but were fearful of the attentive group of onlookers I‘d thoughts of sunny afternoons stop just short and shake myself consequences, but at least my running free in the dog park. actions had a cathartic effect on vigorously. Fat droplets of mud Especially pleasing were those them and I happily surrendered would spray out from my coat to their veiled joy at my blatant in a wide brown arc splattering days in the dog park when a clothing and turning them into disobedience. previous evening‘s rain left
*Mew and Few are corrupted abbreviations of “male human” i.e. m.hu and “female human” i.e. f.hu.
works of art which the humans household presented a thoroughly enjoyed judging by wonderful learning opportunity their shrieks of laughter as they for all the non-human animals ran around in dizzying circles. that lived there. After all it is well known that humans have Oh what bliss. peculiar and contradictory Akrat, with whom I share the habits that often defy rational duties of protector of the household and who I might add thinking, which is strange particularly as they regularly holds a wide-ranging mixture use the phrase ―rational of canine breeds in her genes thinking‖ as an argument to do (some of which are Kelpie- a irrational things. My mother dog generated by convicts!) said humans are often very was piss-weak at such times. dishonest. She would sit at Few‘s feet looking up at her The subject of human sex was of ―mistress‖ particular interest to my mother adoringly, as a slave might. She‘d For example their eating habits occasionally throw a spring to mind. My mother told disapproving glance my way me that often when she was then, as though her meeting my stretched out under the table at eyes may risk her being dinner parties she would hear infected by my happiness, Few and Mew‘s guests politely she‘d quickly look back to Few refusing extra helpings when with a dispirited half-wag of they really wanted more, or her tail and a concerned conversely guests would often expression which said ―I am accept more when they didn't not part of Niggy‘s infantile really want any. No matter behaviour‖. Yes Akrat‘s what, they would always leave approval seeking was truly a small portion on their plates pathetic but I shouldn‘t be too as this was seen to be polite judgemental. We go back a rather than the wasteful act it long way Akrat and I. truly is. During the course of such evenings my mother would watch the humans discreetly In The Beginning undoing their belts and sometimes even their zippers and they would often make My mother was a pure black more space in their bellies by Labrador and had won many shifting their weight onto one medals and ribbons at various dog shows including Sydney‘s buttock and noiselessly farting. Royal Easter Show. She shared If their farts were detected by her household with Sir Blackie, the foul odour they never claimed ownership; my mother supposedly my father, also a pure black Labrador with a few always got the blame instead and was quickly banished from medals to his name. Their the room, which left her feeling charges were five humans. The humans were a bit odd; the confused and unsettled. male human leader was called My mother said that she and Sir Oscar, the female Susie (Susie Blackie thought farting was good for the body and she was also the pack leader) and their offspring Simon, Sara and always encouraged us to fart as often as possible. In fact my Sassafras (which my mother noted was an aromatic tree with brothers and sisters used to have competitions as to who dark blue fruits from North America, and which she and Sir could fart for the longest time. Blackie saw as a harmful name Unfortunately we missed the best of our farts according to to give a child). our mother as she said that the Simon, Sara and the longest and best farts usually unfortunate Sassafras were happened when we were young teens at the time of my asleep. Then, she said, the air birth and so the human
became combustible with all the expelled gas. On such occasions Sir Blackie worried that the male human would light his cigar and blow us all to smithereens. Apart from their confusing and dishonest habits involving their digestive systems humans are equally bewildering when it comes to sex. They have rituals, which are not only time consuming but also unnecessarily confusing and exhausting for all involved. My mother happily mates with a huge variety of handsome beaux when she comes ―on heat‖- the great fun being that she never knows which one is the father of the ensuing litter. When she gave birth to my brothers and sisters, in total eight healthy black puppies, the human family assumed Sir Blackie to be our father. However as we grew, our expanding paws and ears were decidedly larger than was decent for potential holders of ribbons from the Royal Easter Show. It was obvious we had a father other than Sir Blackie. To the eternal shame of the household my brothers and sisters and I were identified by the veterinarian as being somewhat less than noble stock and as a consequence were sold at "a discount". The subject of human sex was of particular interest to my mother and when, in our company, mother discussed human sex with Sir Blackie it usually lead to paroxysms of giggles that rendered them helpless and unable to do the smallest of tasks like to give me my licking bath. Their distorted facial grimaces with lips pulled up tight under their nostrils highlighted their large white teeth, lolling tongues and swathes of drool and these were not the kindly and soothing expressions of love and security emotionally tender offspring need at bath-time. My mother said that humans have sex when they feel like it and usually male humans feel like it all the time and never
think of the consequences and female humans hardly ever feel like it because the consequences are all they think about! However when female humans desire conception, if they tell male humans of the reason behind their sudden warmth and neediness, male humans suddenly develop an aversion to sex. My mother and Sir Blackie thought this all to be quite odd because Sir Blackie only felt like sex when my mother did and this seems to make good sense. Of course when my mother felt like it there were many other male friends and acquaintances in the neighbourhood who also felt like it too so my mother let them all have a go which seems a fair and sharing gesture. My mother said that you could always judge an honest individual by the way they accepted basic bodily functions as normal processes, because that is what they are. This worried me a lot because it seemed to me to mean (even in my short lifetime) humans were not honest and yet I would be living with humans for my whole life, so was I doomed to spend my life in a state of unrelenting confusion? I remember watching my mother and Sir Blackie watching their humans a lot and this was most likely because they didn't know what was expected of them; and they always wanted to please. My mother said that child humans had more common sense than adult humans and that she would try to ensure that when the time came for us to go to homes of our own we would go to households with children. She would do this by behaving very, very badly to childless couples when they came to view us. She would bite, snarl and if the opportunity presented itself grab a handbag or other item belonging to the pair and run off with it or bury it or toss it in the pool. This behaviour always resulted in the childless pair discussing some complex subject called "genetics". There would be a great deal of heated
whispering debate – which of course my mother with her acute hearing would hear every word – and they would take their leave soon after, politely acknowledging our beauty but stating that they should perhaps reassess their position with respect to owning a pet. The reason my mother knew that human children were more rational that adult humans was because of discussions she had overheard when Sir Blackie was introduced into the household. Simon, Sara and the unfortunate Sassafras chose his name soon after his arrival and only after a great deal of arguing with their parents. "Sir Blackie" was considered by the children to be a most appropriate name because he was of aristocratic stock and had a shiny black coat; however the adults thought it totally inappropriate – and this is where the logic gets really hard. The adult humans said that there was "nothing wrong with being black" but you shouldn't call a living thing black because this ―might be offensive to some people‖. They actually thought this answer to be a suitable explanation as to why Sir Blackie was an inappropriate name. Fortunately the children shook their heads in dismay and continued to call him by that name. We knew our mother was relating this example truthfully because one day we overhead another conversation which made us all sit up and listen because we thought it might enlighten us to the human way of thinking and therefore we would be of greater service to them in the future. Oscar and Susie were arguing with the children about the inappropriateness of Sir Blackie's name and cited the example of a plant that used to be called a "black boy" which
is now called a "grass tree" because to call something "black" as well as "boy" was twice as offensive. Simon said that he didn't know that being a boy was offensive and wondered if his parents thought he should try to hide the fact that he was a boy in the future. His parents said of course not and to stop being silly which left the children even more puzzled and us so perplexed we thought it easier to just go back to sleep.
The journey to Few and Mew's home was uneventful and long and I spent most of it curled up on the soft travelling blanket on Few's lap. Remembering my mother's words, I relieved myself of unwanted gases and urine as necessary. This appeared to cause Few and Mew some consternation however, as whenever I felt the urge Few would cry out and Mew's driving would become downright dangerous causing Few to yelp again. Few seemed uncomfortable at these times and would adjust her ample My New Home frame accordingly. Perhaps it was the weight of me on her lap I couldn't think of any other When Few and Mew read the reason and being mindful of my "puppies for sale" advertisement in a local paper, I mother's sound advice, was in fact the only one of our "Humans never get upset with a sleeping puppy so if in doubt, litter left. Throughout their "inspection" I was stretched out sleep", I decided on this course in the sun on the flagging near of action. the pool, snoring deeply and Few stroked me a lot and gave blissfully satisfied with my life me little kisses on the forehead, with my mother and Sir which I quite enjoyed. Blackie. I felt safe in the Mew knowledge that my parents unfortunately was would protect me from human the patting type irrationality. However my and I viewed his situation was about to change outstretched arm forever. with apprehension Because I was the last of my litter to find a home my mother as it darted towards my and I had a lot of time to head with discuss the peculiarities and inconsistencies of the world and this stood me in good stead during my adolescence and is still valuable in my adult life. Even in those early days it didn't take me long to understand the wisdom of my mother's words. These humans hovering over me were monotonous obviously suffering from the regularity. My same mental confusion my mother had mother and Sir Blackie always told us that our skulls attributed to most humans. They were saying nice things to were quite delicate and I was very worried that my brain was me but their faces were being pulverised by Mew‘s frowning and their mouths pulled into a snarl, yes I could kindness. Just thinking about it made me feel a bit off colour clearly see the confusion in but this was quickly relieved their expressions. after I vomited the entire Unfortunately Few and Mew contents of my stomach onto decided to buy me.
the blanket and onto Few's now exposed damp and rumpled tweed skirt. I was very pleased when the journey ended and I was carried from the car to the lawn of my new home. (The home was referred to as "Emoh" by Few and Mew, which highlighted their bleak lack of creativity – I wondered if I would have to spend the rest of my days asleep in order to escape the comments that leaked from their pedestrian brains.) I heard a commotion and looked up to see two huge dogs running towards me. The big black one looked like a rug in full flight but turned out to be a female Newfoundland with a long black coat of hair that swung from side to side in harmony with the strings of drool cascading from her mouth. The big golden one, a Labrador like my mother and Sir Blackie, waddled more than ran due to his overgenerous proportions. He seemed to have a friendly disposition – a common trait of the obese according to Sir Blackie. Few, fearing my imminent demise, quickly picked me up and lowered me just enough for the two to sniff me from head to toe. It seemed I passed the test as the black one registered as Dame Esmeduna and called Set, walked back to the house slowly, almost at a snail‘s pace as though to emphasise her boredom. The golden one, named Iznof licked my face and ears – a sure sign of welcome. I later learned that because Iznof was difficult to say, he was sometimes called the Great White Fart or the Stinging Eye Dog due to the frequent and uncontrolled emissions of sulphurous fumes erupting from his backside. I knew that
he and I would be the best of friends. I was carried into the big house and there met the pack leader, a cat with the official name of Persephones Vishnu but referred to as Lord Dup. Lord Dup looked as though he had run into a brick wall at high speed; his tiny nose was flattened against his moon face, the greater part of which was made up of two huge yellow eyes; from his lower jaw a large tooth broke surface and jutted menacingly skyward. He had an almost spherical body swathed in a long brown coat of fur and a bushy tail that danced and flicked through the air – a stamp of his superiority over the rest of the household. He was a Kashmir, a distinctive breed created by careful genetic manipulation involving crossing the Persian breed with the Burmese breed and other peculiar crossings until a suitable mutant animal was created. My mother had said that humans not only like to control things like the look of their animal companions but have a compelling urge to do so, the twist being that they are only satisfied when the outcome of all their controlling results in them being controlled and Sir Blackie said that this was a perfect example of how confused the human mind really is. I found this all so difficult to understand at the time Sir Blackie and my mother first explained it to me but now here was Lord Dup, a perfect example of the wisdom of their words. Few and Mew were happy they were controlled by Lord Dup, he being a carefully designed mutant who did what he liked when he liked and as a reward for his exerting his authority was given everything he needed and wanted.
of green lawns interspersed with orange, apple and mulberry trees. At the front of the property there is a very long fence that runs alongside a bridle path and this offers wonderful opportunities to chase stupid pampered horses along the fence line from the safety of the other side. What fun! Dozing horses would suddenly rear up threatening the safety of their riders who would shriek and cry out, Few would yell and along with whistles from Mew the whole thing would be calamitous fun as they tried to bring Set, the Great White Fart and me to heel. It is good for the soul to have a loud gutsy bark and run at full pace. At other times, particularly in the summer, we would sleep under the fruit trees occasionally rising to chase ducks dropping in for a swim in the pool. But by far the best part of every day was the large meal at the end of it and I grew rapidly in the ensuing months to be only a few centimetres shorter than Set. I don‘t feel it is vain to say that I was a handsome adolescent with a shiny blue-black coat, long silken ears, smallish brown eyes and an aristocratic nose that was used extensively in my never-ending search for food. As I grew into strong healthy adulthood I watched Set shrink in size and sprout grey hairs around her mouth and temples. She walked with great difficulty due to hip problems caused by inbreeding compounded by severe arthritis. The Great White Fart didn't age in appearance but he succumbed to dementia and used to wander off as if in a dream or lie in the blinding rain - a habit most unusual. I realised Few and Mew's security would soon be my responsibility although I would need to be vigilant to Lord Settling In Dup‘s reactions on matters of importance. I soon adjusted to life at the big A great sadness descended on house. There are wide-open the household when Set didn't spaces to run as the property‘s wake up one morning. She had grounds are large with expanses suffered a severe heart attack
during the night caused in part from running and barking at horses the previous day. To make matters worse soon after Set's death the Great White Fart was found happily wandering the streets totally oblivious to his surroundings- he didn't even recognise Few and Mew. By this time he had also become incontinent and Few and Mew decided to have him "put down" for "his own good" which Few saw to one bleak Monday morning. Both my companion dogs were buried wrapped in their favourite blankets in the orchard between the vegetable garden and the big apple tree. It was a time of great sadness for me. I didn't understand how killing the Great White Fart was good for him and I tried very hard to remember if my mother had any words of wisdom about this bizarre human behaviour. I do remember her saying once humans tend to rid themselves of things that are outdated and no longer of any use to them. This can be seen in their state of excitement following a trip to the local municipal garbage tip where everything from household appliances to nourishing food can be discarded without conscience. In fact I well remember many visits to the local tip with a joyous Mew whose happiness I found puzzling- it would be displayed in bursts of deafening and tuneless whistling all the way home. I would have thought that a living thing was a bit different to other things though, particularly if they were a "member of the family". I wondered if humans "put down" their older folk for "their own good" when they become no longer useful. I felt decidedly uncomfortable about this particularly when I realised it could be my fate also. I decided then and there that I would faithfully follow the ancient tradition of wandering off into the bush to die - which was most likely what the Great White Fart was attempting to do, the problem was that with his dementia he lost his way.
The new arrival Following the demise of Set and the Great White Fart, Few and Mew decided to look for another canine of similar appearance to me because I had ―turned out so well‖, although both thought a female would be more complementary to the household. Mew, who was a bit of a snob, liked the idea of a pedigree black Labrador until it was pointed out that the better the pedigree of animal the higher the veterinary bills, as they had clearly discovered with Set, the Great White Fart and Lord Dup. It wasn't long before Mew saw reason and, tempted by the thought of reduced financial outgoings, warmed to the idea of a crossbreed or even a mongrel of unidentifiable parentage! Daily papers were scanned each weekend until an advertisement appeared which perfectly fitted a suitable addition to the household. Akrat was born of poor mixed stock, her mother's background so appalling her owner had attempted to drown the litter in the local dam. Her father's appearance was notable for its lack of uniqueness and pointed to such a mixture of breeds he was simply described as big and black. Few and Mew thought the offspring looked like little black otters. After stretching their limited imaginations and in a state of agitated excitement at their combined cleverness, they gushed that the chosen one would be named Akrat after an otter in a popular book. I found their attempt at quaintness – which even a 10 year old would find embarrassing – appalling. Now I share my duties with Akrat and love her very much in a brotherly sort of way. I think she‘s slightly silly although she can also be condescending and sometimes she slips into slyness. Being fully aware of her slight size and thus vulnerability she is alert to opportunities that might
4782 3809 Level 2 98 Bathurst Road KATOOMBA ingratiate her with the female human. I acknowledge I do this too sometimes, but for different reasons. Akrat is quite happy to receive praise alone but I, although praise is happily received, am only deeply satisfied if some material reward like a bone is forthcoming. Like now for instance, here I am within easy reach of food stretched out in front of the Aga and Akrat is nowhere to be seen. This is not to say that I only love my human charges because they feed me. That is certainly not the case, I love them with a passion; I really do. I know that Few and Mew are my responsibility and I have to always be there for them as is my duty. However I sense things are changing. My life for the most part is exceptionally happy but I am becoming seriously concerned
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about the relationship between Few and Mew, which has deteriorated since the passing of Set and the Great White Fart. I hope they try to sort things out otherwise they may decide to discard each other and then what would become of Akrat, Lord Dup and me? Would we be discarded too? I remember back to when Few and Mew came to pick me up from my first home and Sir Blackie remarked to my mother and me that sometimes humans of opposite traits are attracted to each other. He said Few and Mew were an example of this. He judged Few to be outgoing and opinionated while Mew was more the retiring, quiet type. He said that the effect of a union between such a pair is negative and this can clearly be seen if numbers are assigned to traits. For example if you assign -1 to the extravert and
+1 to the quiet retiring type, basic mathematics of multiplying (-1) x (+1) proves the union to be negative that is -1. (Fortunately my mother and Sir Blackie were similar types in all respects hence the outcome of their union was always positive be it with their negative traits (–1) x (–1) or with their positive traits (+1) x (+1), the result is always a positive +1.) Sir Blackie was therefore slightly concerned that with my going to Few and Mew I could well end up in a household surrounded by considerable tension. So I now live in apprehension about my future. When I think back to Sir Blackie‘s careful education of my siblings and me there is one piece of philosophy I find particularly thought provoking. He used to say that it has been shown that the human world is
stupefyingly consistent in its inability to understand the simple laws of nature and most of this understanding could be achieved through communication. His favourite line used to be ―the paradox is that there are millions of species in the world yet because of their dulled senses humans can‘t communicate with any of them‖. I wish I could ask Lord Dup what ―paradox‖ means. That lamb roast smells particularly good.
Janet Richardson Leura
Frances Sherlock Leura
Sun and sum held out over a brutal cast, cracked sky as I get dragged down with you. At dawn the light seemed pink and hued with soft subtleties I could hold in my hands; but this is a timely thing, and whitherswhisped away with each gentle breath.
Side by side, unmoved by words that turn to drowned out criesimpossible to comprehend over the rushing, tilting horizon as it warps and rotates in unnatural distortions. You are blind to the small, hinted shadow
Your hands are bigger than mine in ways that are important and indelicate. Ways I can never touch seem to electrify the air and stands my soul on end painfully. As if a bright, flaring filament to some forgotten, uncared for deposit; lost to abandoned memory and demanding attention.
that is me.
Those mirrored, clouded (broken) sheets of paper line the sky. As if small paper planes; once screwn up, were now desperately pressed flat against the sound. The wind too disturbing to gain any permanence in their half decayed flights.
I have an emotion tumultuous as the ripped out heart of ground. You stand; I shake. Like fallen debris, strewn unmeasured but seeming carefully stacked; I am another misplaced object of curiosity not defined by sexuality, or any other coarse, carnal delight. Just a sorrow, bent double with the grief. At last light; a finality, which quietens all noise. The crazed rush of reason is a grapplinglike of sand. The product of violence and destruction! Of erosion; of wearing all streaming through regretful fingers. These of my smaller hands, that would only be held in yours.
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The End? P
enelope was a successful have checked on the directions sole parent. She had been before this? Her initial impulse abandoned by her husband ten was to get up and leave. years before and had been However, she didn‘t want to raising Brian, Mary and Max waste the effort she had already on her own ever since. made. When the time was … she was horrified when she right she saw him through her sober eyes. started to date. It was a very bad shock for Penelope. One hour late, a very She was a little princess before unattractive, unpleasant and rude man finally arrived. she married her husband. Penelope‘s heart was sick. She Boys, money, travel, friends and freedom. Marriage changed couldn‘t wait to get away. She cried all the way home. all that. Not completely deterred, She was in her late thirties, fighting bitterness and craving Penelope agreed to meet her next prospect. This next one the life she used to live. She had moved in to look after his tried the singles ads in the mother. ‗Nice guy‘ thought newspaper. She got a lot of Penelope, until he said that this replies and spent a lot of time responding and narrowing the was nine years ago. Her tongue burned from gulping down her list down. decaf. The first man she met insisted that she pay for her own coffee; Her friend Cath was having her she had thought he was joking fortieth party at a local and had laughed. It was a cold nightclub. Penelope was rainy night but she still sought determined to get back out there. She was bored until respite from her home duties 10pm when the alcohol started and ventured out for an to kick in. She danced gaily adventure. with some blonde guy. She was He was late. He rang Penelope a princess once again and he, a 30 minutes after he was prince? supposed to arrive. He was lost. Penelope felt the first of many When he arrived the next disappointments. Shouldn‘t he weekend to take her on a date, she was horrified when she saw
Robina Cranston Glenbrook him through her sober eyes. Did he just come from St Vinnie‘s? Couldn‘t he have made an effort? Out to dinner in a cab as he explained he wanted to drink. Penelope tried to fight off the disappointment. During dinner he drank the first bottle of wine after pouring her half a glass. Noted. He bragged about hiding his income so he didn‘t have to pay child support. ―You‘re telling the wrong person, you swine‖ she thought. Awaking the next morning she resolved to stay hopeful. New Years Eve at a local 70s disco. There he was. Handsome. Nice shoes. They
Answering an ad online, Penelope connected with a man her age, from her neighbourhood and he seemed to be able to spell. They met for a coffee and although he was a bit older than she expected, they had a reasonably good chat. Spending Saturday doing the chores and driving the kids to the Grandparents‘ house an hour away, Penelope felt a little bit of hope as she dolled herself up. She could smell the alcohol on his breath when he arrived. He couldn‘t help being late, he said, his mates were over and they were watching TV. As they walked to his she changed her His conversation was not as car mind. A voice sparkling as his shoes ... within took over and told him to take a hike. danced and sang the daggy old songs to each other. He brought He looked like Mr Big. Red tie. her champagne until the bar ran Suit. Penelope‘s eyes rested happily on this vision. A dry. A perfect evening. swanky bar in the city. She felt When he came to pick her up for their first date, he arrived by like Carrie. They chatted and he actually sprang for a drink for bus! She had to drive them to her and then offered Penelope dinner. His conversation was and her friends a lift home. not as sparkling as his shoes. Penelope was trying to keep Now, this was starting to feel that look of disdain from her like it should, thought face. Try as she might, the Penelope. They walked towards a fancy black car. Finally! she night was a fizzer. thought, a man who has some
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A great range of secondhand books! Shop C, 11 Ross St, Glenbrook NSW 2773 Ph : 4739 2466 Open : Monday to Saturday success in his life. But, he kept Date number 567,843. Again. walking past this car and Late again. Forgiven, but noted. started fumbling for his keys at Dinner arrived just as he a little red bomb. Truth be told, Penelope was Date number 567,843. embarrassed for him. Late again. Forgiven, Choking back another crushing disappointment, but noted. she agreed to a date next Saturday. He said he‘d bring accepted his first phone call. some drinks and they could order in pizza? Her inner dater Penelope covered her annoyance by eating and was screaming now. She gulping down the wine before suppressed her instincts and he got to it. He answered the convinced herself that this second phone call 10 minutes might not be so bad ... later. Still no apologies. After He arrived with two cans of he bade goodbye to his third premixed drinks and told caller, Penelope‘s temper Penelope that this was his erupted. She told him how rude contribution and she could pay he was and that too much of her for the pizza. Not that she precious time had been wasted minded paying her share but that night waiting for him! Penelope thought this extremely rude for a first date. She will never forget the confused look on his face as Or make that ‗only date‘.
he chirping of the always the worst with the long sparrows, a salute to the hours of darkness. Orange winter dawn, joined the street lights blinked out as the growing noise of the cars on the sky gradually lightened. nearby road. Her sleep Motionless, Aggie let the disturbed, Aggie groaned and Her blanket of damp newsextended a bony hand to pluck at paper crumpled as she her covering, swung her swollen feet off pulling it up over her face to shut the wooden park bench. out the thin light. She tried to hold on to her dizziness of the new day wash dream but the cold Edinburgh through her before digging into morning chased it away. the pocket of her torn, ‗I c‘d sleep forever‘, she threadbare coat, groping for a grumbled. ‗There‘s nothin‘ t‘ cigarette end. The tiny, wake up for‘. Opening her flickering flame of the match faded blue eyes, she rolled over barely warmed her dirty hands. onto her side, feeling the The smells of the phosphorous stiffness of every muscle. Her and the stale tobacco made her blanket of damp newspaper wrinkle her nose, red and crumpled as she swung her swollen with a myriad of swollen feet off the wooden broken veins. Wisps of white park bench. Coughing jerked hair escaped from the knitted her into cruel consciousness hat, jammed askew on her and she spat on the frosthead. They surrounded a tired, covered ground. Winters were wizened face with haunted
she stood up and wished him well, and went to pay half the bill, and leave. Then there‘s her young admirer. He also was late but Penelope forgave him as he had to catch the train and he didn‘t know where her suburb was. And no car. Again. There was at least an effort made on his part so she felt she should do the same. Although she still had to drive him back to the train. Things looked promising until he started getting angry with her if she didn‘t answer the phone. Yet, when she did answer they had nothing much to say. She loved to read; he said he could barely get through the latest ―Zoo‖ weekly before the next one came out. This was both sweet and disgusting at the same time.
So Penelope poised over her laptop, about to log onto her brand new online dating profile, fingers reluctant to tap the keys. Should she keep going and suffer more disappointment? Is there a time in life when you get the message? Or is Mr Right just around the corner? Penelope took it as a sign that she remembered her new password and clicked her way to her future. Just as she was about to read she thought ―Maybe I‘ll write a short story instead‖ ... The End? Robina Cranston Glenbrook
Linda Campbell Warrimoo eyes. Clutching the butt in brokennailed fingers, Aggie spluttered through her first smoke of the day. Pigeons were stirring in the wan light of the dawn. A bird with a twisted foot lingered nearby, its feathers bedraggled, one wing drooping. The others pecked at it whenever it came close enough. Aggie searched in her pocket until she found a tiny crumb. She shooed the other birds away and then tossed it to the lame pigeon. ‗There you go, my beauty‘, she said as it jabbed its beak at the tiny piece of bread. ‗We‘re the
the palest white etched the bushes while the naked arms of the trees threw themselves up to hail the grey sky. The wind chased litter down the path. She had had a garden of her own once. Well, an allotment really; a small parcel of ground among rows of other parcels, near the railway line. She had been lucky to get one. Not all the people who lived in the tenements had a space of earth to call their own. A thin smile played along her lips as she remembered the feeling of the rich loamy soil running through her fingers (trails of chocolate dust on her
She pushed her memories back. They had no place, no point in the present. same, you and me. A fine pair, we are!‘ Aggie surveyed her patch of park. A fragile mist stole from the grass; gossamer threads of
hands), and watching the worms scurry away from the sun. All sweat and aching muscles she would pause to watch the smoke-chugging
trains, with women and men and children, each with their own histories and futures, sharing a brief moment of her life. The cabbages and carrots, peas and potatoes that she had grown there, the soups and stews that she had made, had helped to fill out the scraggy, rationed war years. She pushed her memories back. They had no place, no point in the present. Aggie
sharp eyes had spotted many cigarette ends (doups, she called them), a bit squashed but good enough to roll into new ciggies, after buying a packet of papers. She had even managed to save a few strands of tobacco for this morning. Eyes down, forever
scavenging, Aggie trudged to the bus station where the cafe was open and where she was known. The steamy heat of the room swirled Memories, like stills from an old over her as she movie, jerked in her mind shivered and shuffled on numb feet staggered upright, stamping her through the wrinkle-nosed feet and chafing her arms. Time to get going – it was only a few customers to the counter. The days to Christmas and she had a smells of the frying sausages and eggs started the saliva plan! A warm bed and good food, a blether with her friends; flowing in her mouth and she swallowed noisily, feeling the that was what she wanted. gaps in her teeth with her She picked up her pillow – a tongue. No words were spoken plastic bag containing all that but a polystyrene cup of sweet was left of her life – and, tea and a bacon sandwich were adjusting her coat collar about slapped down in front of her. her neck, went in search of Mumbling her thanks, she breakfast. A soft rustling, like extended a hand clad in an old, mock taffeta, betrayed her dirty fingerless glove to pick up thermal underwear of the sandwich which she shoved newspaper. in her pocket and then, grasping People hurrying to work saw the tea, made her way back only another tramp, an old outside to the cold. woman with a dirty beanie, Sitting on a bench, hands wearing a torn coat two sizes wrapped around the warmth of too big and ragged shoes two the cup, thawing her nose over sizes too small. Unthinkingly the steam, she drank quickly they moved away from her. Just before the heat was swept away another piece of human jetsam by the wind. Across from her, cast adrift; a lifewreck. the buses spewed diesel fumes Yesterday had been a good day. as the drivers warmed their Lunch had been an abandoned engines, the heaters running to hamburger, still warm, with clear the film of condensation only a bite or two out of it; her from the windows. The salt
bacon taste watered her eyes as she chewed slowly, peering at the passers-by, wondering about their lives. She had once
worth more than she was. Suddenly Aggie hefted her arm, letting fly with the rock she carried. Pirouetting through the air, it She picked up her pillow – a smashed the glass plastic bag containing all that and nestled among the was left of her life watches, rings and been like them, had once necklaces. enjoyed a home, children, a The centre went quiet. Aware warm bed at night. Her envy of of the people staring at her, them had long since died but their looks of amazement or she always felt puzzled by what disgust, Aggie flinched and she had become. shrunk. She'd done it now. Her Memories, like stills from an heart was pounding in her chest old movie, jerked in her mind: but she stood still as the a smiling man in naval uniform policeman ran towards her. (the feel of his hair, the smell of ‗Oh, Aggie, it‘s you,‘ he said, his skin); a girl, arms trying to hold her arm and yet outstretched, running (the not get too close to her acrid giggles, the tickling games); the body smell. ‗I thought it was a grey sea roaring its fury against robber!‘ the harbour wall (the cold spray The shop manager came out, drenching her, the sound of the smoothing down his balding water spattering on the road hair. A round, replete man, he behind). moaned and raved about the Blinking, Aggie licked the last state of his window and the of the bacon fat from her possible damage to his precious fingers and stood up. With a goods. They asked her sense of purpose she walked questions but Aggie had briskly, eyes checking the decided on a policy of silence. gutters until she found what she She stood, head bowed, simply was looking for. The sun was enjoying the fact that she was poking over the grey buildings out of the wind and cold. as she quickly bent down to ‗She‘s harmless,‘ said the scoop up the heavy stone and policeman, tapping his head in then made her way to the the age-old gesture. ‗Your modern shopping centre, all insurance'll pay for the clean tiles and glass. Once damage.‘ inside, she savoured the The well-dressed man stared at warmth for a brief moment although she knew that it would the statue of smelly rags. Aggie lifted her ‗Now, now, Aggie. That‘ll never head. She saw pity do,‘ he admonished sternly. and disgust ‗Assaulting a policeman! That's in his eyes and saw very serious, you know.‘ him exchange a not be long before she was look with the policeman. They thrown out. were going to let her go! She She noticed the policeman as looked around at the curious she shuffled towards the onlookers with their bags of jeweller's shop and smiled. God Christmas shopping (too much was watching over her. The money spent), all watching this bobby was right where she pathetic drama. She had to do needed him to be. She did not something; she must be even glance at the display of arrested. Aggie flailed her free glittering baubles, cold metal arm, the one holding her plastic and stones beneath bright bag. It swung up and caught the lights. The merest of these was policeman‘s flat cap, knocking
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it to the ground. ‗Now, now, Aggie. That‘ll never do,‘ he admonished sternly. ‗Assaulting a policeman! That's very serious, you know.‘ Relief burst into Aggie‘s heart and she smiled. Out into the cold again, into a police car and then to the holding cells at the station. Cups of tea and toast, a luxury to be relished; the friendly, teasing banter of the police officers. Aggie was well-known here and, if not exactly liked, she was tolerated. She relaxed, sure of a warm bed that night. Thirty days, that was what she usually got for something like this. Thirty days! That would see her safely through Christmas and the New Year. Everybody was expecting her back at the prison. When Aggie had been released the week before, she had told them what she wanted for Christmas dinner. She had spent the last ten Christmases ‗inside‘. (Never for any serious crimes – usually for vagrancy or drunk and disorderly.) Her friends would all be there. They would joke and laugh and have hot food. Her mouth was watering at the thought. And the beds, clean sheets and warm blankets. The wind could howl all night outside her warm cell.
It wouldn‘t bother her. ‗See you all, soon!‘ she had said when she had been discharged last time. Thirty days in prison, a few days to a week at liberty, thirty days back inside. That was the pattern of her life. The prison was her home, where she was secure and free to be herself, free to enjoy food and shelter. Outside was where the terrors lay. The local court was familiar to Aggie. The magistrates were like old friends to her, but this time was different. As she stood in the dock Aggie realised that she did not recognise the young man sitting in the magistrate's chair. Pinkfaced and smooth-cheeked, hair neatly swept back; he was young enough to be her grandson. The magistrate was new, possibly a little in awe of the power that he held. He saw an old, dirty woman; blue eyes peering at him out of a begrimed, wrinkled face. She vaguely reminded him of somebody, his own grandmother perhaps. Christmas was only three days away. He thought he would be kind, give her another chance. (Nobody had explained the rules of the game to him.) He let her go. Standing in front of the grey
stone building, Aggie shook her head in bewilderment. Stupid man! Did he think he was doing her a favour? Sending her back to the cold streets when her friends were all waiting for her at the prison! It wasn‘t fair. Tomorrow she would need to try again. Perhaps even steal a wee something, although she shook her head at the thought. Stealing was a sin. But maybe God could overlook it, given that it wasn‘t her fault the young laddie of a magistrate hadn‘t treated her right. Her tired mind floundering, she made her way back to the park bench that was her one place of solace in a dark, cold city. The bins that she passed yielded up their treasures to her grubbing hands and peering face: old newspapers, a stale sandwich, half a can of lemonade. But the dividends were little; others had been there before her. She spread out her newspapers on the bench, carefully arranging them, and then smoked the last of her cigarettes. At least she had spent the cold day inside and had been fed. A tight smile wavered about her thin lips as she watched the pigeons strutting in the last of the daylight. She searched for her
What Have You Lost, Old Man?
‗beauty‘, laughing when she saw its peculiar hunched shape. ‗Ah saved you a bittie bread‘, she said, tossing it a piece of crust. ‗You‘ll be glad Ah didn‘t get sent to prison – who w‘ld feed you then?‘ She glanced up at the heavy clouds in the sky. There would be no stars glimmering above her tonight. Aggie stretched out on the bench, wiggling her hips, trying to get comfy. She pulled the sheets of newspapers over her. Sleep was a friend who took away the troubles of her life. In sleep, her young sailor opened his arms to her, his strength swathed her frail soul. That night it snowed – thick flakes fell all through the dark hours. The morning found children dragging out sledges, whooping and laughing. Their parents smiled at the promise of a white Christmas. In the park, a white mound lay unmoving on a white bench. And a lame pigeon scuffed the snow, futilely waiting for a few crumbs. Linda Campbell Warrimoo
John Egan Leura
One does hear, quite often, about the attitude of the young, towards the not so young. As I now rate amongst the not so young, I can speak for myself. Not so very long ago, while waiting for a bus home, I was sorting coinage in the palm of my hand, putting together correct money for my bus fare. I dropped what I knew to be a gold coin. I stooped down to retrieve it from the footpath. Standing upright, I came face to face with a young man who said to me, ―What have you lost, old man?‖ By no means offended, I said, ―Nothing, I dropped a gold coin and I found it.‖ ―Good, here‘s another one,‖ he said, as he dropped a dollar coin into the palm of my hand, then walked away.
Gathering at Unaminka Our editor is one strange woman. It‘s a prerequisite for the job; but the office betting pool is offering very short odds on this one being weirder than her predecessors ... We thought Johnny Bale had the record when he sent two reporters to cover the sixlegged buffalo racing in South Australia. And we were impressed when Steve Weeks went one better with his scheme to investigate the Blue
weeks just outside Unaminka. I want you to cover it.‘ Davo and I looked at each other, and back at Nicola. Her face was calm and business-like – no hint of a smile, even in her eyes. This woman could hold her cool in a setDavo and I Nicola didn‘t have chairs in up. burst out laughing. It was her office other than her a good joke; she own. Visitors didn‘t stay that deserved the pay off of our mirth. long. Her face didn‘t change. Was she serious? Mountains panther using his She was. She had out-done own reporters as bait. But Johnny and Steve. This was Nicola Harris was going to top impressive; and hilarious. Her them all with this one. facial expression turned to As journalists we are like the anger when she realised that we police or the army – ready to were now laughing at her. A serve, ready for anything. Our beetroot flush crept up her neck paper is a little outside the and onto her cheeks as her eyes mainstream, and every story narrowed to the small slits that has an element of the unusual. indicate revenge is brewing in a Our assignments were never woman‘s mind. She stamped going to be about some cute her foot – actually stamped it kitten stuck up a tree, peeing on on the floor in anger – and the fireman who was trying to broke the heel. But the rescue her. And we love the adrenaline had made us chase of these stories; it‘s what reckless, and we laughed until we live for. So when Nicola the tears flowed freely down called us into her office for a our faces, holding on to each new assignment, the adrenaline other for support. We couldn‘t was already pumping. It sit down unless we sat on the probably wasn‘t the best time. floor. Nicola didn‘t have chairs ‗Jimmy, Davo, I have a new in her office other than her assignment for you. A reliable own. Visitors didn‘t stay that source tells me that there will long. So we were left to bob be a UFO gathering in two around her office, getting
control of ourselves enough to stand up and wipe away the tears, and then collapsing into laughter again. Finally the laughter ebbed and we settled down long enough to hear the rest of it. ‗Have you two finished?‘ Oh the scorn! ‗You‘ll need a cover story; I don‘t want anyone else getting wind of this until we publish it.‘ A cover story? I had visions of Davo and I in drag, mincing around a UFO convention. Not likely. ‗You‘ll travel as two mates cruising through central Australia who just happen to visit Unaminka. I doubt there‘s much there, so if you need an excuse to stay for a few days
So that‘s how Davo and I found ourselves bouncing over a corrugated road on the way to Unaminka. Before we left we did some research. It turns out Unaminka is considered a hotspot for UFO activity among those who take such things seriously. A surprising number of websites carried reports of sightings in and around the area; mostly from tourists enjoying the ‗Australian experience‘ on an organised tour comprising 30 other tourists, a British guide and a luxury air-conditioned coach. Now Davo and I are no strangers to road trips and, with no chance of a story at the end of this one, we treated it like a
Unaminka is considered a hot-spot for UFO activity among those who take such things seriously you‘ll have to damage the car in a way that means you can still use it, but would be too risky to drive to your next stop. Get it?‘ We both nodded. ‗Good. Now get out of my office.‘ It was going to be a while before she forgave us for laughing at her. But what did we care? We were going on a road trip, all expenses paid. When the UFO thing turned out to be a hoax, at least we would have a cool story to tell.
holiday. We were going to enjoy a true Australian experience – dust, unkept roads, dodging wildlife, sleeping in swags, eating burnt sausages cooked over our own fire and plenty of beer. These pampered tourists didn‘t know what they were missing. Davo‘s Holden ute was well fitted out for travelling through the harshest and most remote country in the southern hemisphere. The cab bristled with antennas for everything
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from GPS navigation to CB radios. We knew exactly where we were and could keep in touch with the truckies and the army transports that shared the highway with us. Hard core guys most of them. Good to know where they were so we could make sure we were not. Holden guys aren‘t afraid of anything, but we know not to challenge these guys on their own turf. By the time we arrived in Unaminka we looked like we‘d been travelling for weeks. Perfect for the cover story Nicola had told us to use. The ute was now red from the dust, with only a few specks of metallic Kermit-green paint flashing through occasionally. We‘d stopped half a day before for petrol and wanted to wash the windscreen, but the drought had produced fairly harsh water restrictions. They would only give us enough to wash the areas immediately in front of our faces. The result was two eyes on the windscreen, with teary streaks where the water drained away. The car itself now looked like an alien vehicle. Unaminka is a typical Aussie outback town. Faded paint peeling off the weatherboard shop fronts on main street, dust everywhere and the vehicle of choice is a ute or a 4WD. Nothing else would last out here anyway. We arrived late in the afternoon and it wasn‘t hard to find the pub. It‘s the only building on main street with vehicles parked out the front. Correctly guessing that it
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was probably the only place for damage the car. Nicola was a wink and a nudge confirmed accommodation we decided to real girl when it came to that they get a few visitors from start there. And we needed a mechanical things. How do the air base in Unaminka too; you damage a and that the cold beer loosens beer. Or three. car enough so many a story from officers who that you can cannot hope to blend in. We still drive it might not go back emptyaround but handed after all – there was cripple it definitely a story here. enough that Not sure when they noticed that it can‘t get we weren‘t drinking as much. to the next Maybe the bar-keep saw his major takings drop as we slowed the town? alcohol intake to see if there It was a was a good story around the air good base. Just the fact that it was strategy. there wasn‘t really news; or at Of course least it wasn‘t once you got past it was. the headline. We needed more. Strategy Davo, pretending to be more is our inebriated than he really was, middle kept leading the conversation name. The back to the lights that the locals welcomed us with open tourists thought were UFO‘s, Luckily, Davo and I arms. They get plenty of but the local boys quickly led look like average Aussie tourists who read the same him away from it again. There blokes. It‘s an image we‘ve websites we did who hire cars was definitely something here cultivated because it opens and come to this little town to they didn‘t want us to touch. doors for us. Davo is bald with see a UFO; so it was a huge Man can‘t drink all day, a bushy black biker beard and relief to them that Davo and I unfortunately, so we had to find bad-ass tats visible from a were not believers. We had ways to occupy ourselves sleeveless shirt over black jeans many drinks bought for us in during daylight hours. We and army boots. I look like a the pub from locals who cruised around in the ute but farm hand, with curly blond wanted to hear the story of our there was nothing much to see hair, a flanno open down the meeting in Nicola‘s office but red dirt and spinifex. The front over a faded blue t-shirt, again and again. It was still time Davo got out for a leak faded jeans and well-worn steel hilarious for us and the local and fell over into a spinifex capped boots. It fits our cover blokes roared with laughter at bush with his pants around his story and has the added ankles was the advantage of being only real comfortable. This whole cover Unaminka is a typical Aussie source of story balony wasn‘t necessary – outback town. Faded paint amusement we were just being ourselves. these trips peeling off the weatherboard that Amid the laughter and joking offered – and around on the trip to Unaminka, shop fronts ... even then it is we decided our tactic in this fair to say that town would be different from I found it more entertaining the idea of a UFO gathering. If than he did. the usual. We planned to tell them exactly who we were and it grew a little in the telling, Each evening our new-found well, that was just another why we were here, let them friends were keen for us to join know that we weren‘t taking it Aussie tradition. them for a drink or ten. A real seriously, and settle in for a In return for our one story told sociable lot in this town. Davo good time with the locals. If over and over again, the locals abandoned the restraint that there was anyone in town who told us that the lights these wasn‘t getting us anywhere believed in UFOs they would tourists see are the planes from anyway, and proceeded to get find us; probably in the local the US Air Base that no-one is roaring drunk on their shout. pub enjoying the hard-earned supposed to know about, flying He quickly fell ill, bit of a tworeward of a very cold beer. out to bases in Asia. When we can screamer is Davo, and I And it would save us having to asked how they know that, a went to take him outside for
some air. We really didn‘t twig that the tank was still nearly covers everyone except amazing sight; and stopped that there was something up full. We could follow these themselves. Davo was clean as about 10 feet away, still in the until the locals tried to stop us. lights for quite a way before the a whistle; and rapidly sobering shadows, to have a good look Even up now that he‘d rearound. It was like a car-boot the bar- One thing that has never satisfactorily gifted most of the sale. Each space-ship had a keep, alcohol that was stall in front of it and an alien who waiting to be absorbed overseeing their trading goods. been explained to me is why, when surely by his system. He was Other aliens were milling about someone vomits at velocity, it usually didn‘t too dazed to laugh; but in this well-stocked market want I knew it would be a place to see what they wanted covers everyone except themselves. Davo big feature in the reto buy or barter for. At one end puking on his carpet, insisted petrol ran out. Getting back telling. He‘d never be able to was a band keeping everyone that the best thing for him was again was tomorrow‘s problem. accurately describe the smell entertained. The mood was to stay put – draped though. Road-kill-grill and relaxed and jovial – and The squealing tyres got the precariously over a bar stool beer, shaken not stirred, is not familiar. It was easy to see that crowd‘s attention, but they that demonstrably couldn‘t the kind of aromatic they had been here before. were too late. We were outta support his weight for long. combination that gets bottled. There were aliens of every there and on the trail. This was too suspicious. I We looked straight ahead of us, description. Some bore a Unaminka has no street lights, made a break for the door and and about twenty seconds after taking in the sight that we never strong resemblance to rushed outside. In the middle Hollywood stereotypes; as if we left the pub we were in total would have believed if of the road I looked around someone had told us about it. It they‘d just walked off a Star darkness except for the wildly, searching for something headlights, the driving lights, was a UFO jamboree; a Wars set, or maybe Men in that I wasn‘t supposed to see. gathering of many different Black. Others were outside the the spotters and the rescue The handy little voice of imagination of even the most grade searchlights. Davo knew spacecraft and, as far as we instinct said ‗Hey stupid, look how to rig a ute. Despite the could tell at this distance, many stoned script-writer – think up‘. And the sky was full of different aliens. It was bizarre. Edward Scissor-hands meets a bright beacon that we now moving lights coming from all presented, it wasn‘t difficult to Think of the bar in the first Star giant squid with Dame Edna directions. They weren‘t stars, follow the lights above us. Wars movie where the band Everage‘s fashion sense. and they certainly weren‘t plays. No, not the recent Scary. Especially the hat, They were coming from planes. These babies were prequal, the real first Star Wars which featured a recently different directions but caught and rather UFOs! seemed to be heading I probably looked sufficiently bemused quokka I hollered for Davo and for a common point perched on top. witnessed the second somewhere ahead of us. alien to fit right into this wonderous sight of the evening I seriously doubt that I Davo took a few intergalactic shindig we were photos, without the – Davo staggering out of the stayed totally on the pub under his own steam. As road as I kept looking flash, trying not to about to gatecrash. he looked in my general for them. The ute draw attention to us. direction I pointed up towards fishtailed in the soft dirt and The ships were of every shape movie. the sky. His gaze followed my Davo moaned occasionally to and size, from short range runfinger and his face performed a indicate his opinion of my We had to take a closer look. It abouts to large scale transport perfect cartoon expression of didn‘t even need discussion. ships. The whole scene was driving prowess. surprise. ‗Cooooool‘ was all he We got to the top of a small hill Davo grabbed the camera and mesmerizing; dazzling in its could manage. I grabbed his we slowly slid out of the car. bright strangeness. So and, as we barreled over the top arm and propelled him towards of it, I saw a huge lit area in The dirt under our feet was so overwhelmingly novel, in fact, the car. We had to follow the that we almost missed the key front of us. I hit the one switch soft that we both slipped and lights and see where they led. to the whole mystery. that killed all the lights at once, fell. Davo landed on his arse, so no harm done. I wasn‘t so Or until our petrol ran out. yanked on the handbrake and In the middle of all these spacelucky. I fell face first into the Davo fumbled with the keys the ute started to spin. It was ships was a Ford ute. A Ford! trying to unlock the drivers too much for Davo, whose over rich red dirt; which of course Ok, not the most shocking part door. Oh no, I don‘t think so. -taxed stomach lost its grip and clung to the fresh gooey spew. of the scene, but still. If there As we met at the front of the Definitely not in the right shape sent its contents on a gravitywas going to be a ute in this ute, Davo nearly burst a blood gathering it could at least be a to drive. The locals were now defying journey through what trying to marshall themselves to little space was available to it. vessel trying to hold in his real one. Apart from the fact laughter. At least he was now that it couldn‘t break free of the stop us leaving; but Davo The ute came to a stop at the sober enough to exercise some earth‘s orbit, or clear 100 km/h seemed to have done a good job base of the very small rise, of getting them drunk as well. I having neatly completed a 360 caution. On the plus side, I and still look cool, the Ford took the keys, poured Davo into degree loop and buried its nose probably looked sufficiently looked to fit right in. It was alien to fit right into this the passenger seat, went around in the soft dirt by the side of backed into the circle with its to the driver‘s side, went back what passed for a road. And I intergalactic shindig we were tray down, and in front of it about to gatecrash. to the passenger side to put was a stall tended by a feral was covered in spew. Davo‘s seatbelt on him and The advantage of soft dirt and looking individual who would One thing that has never raced back around to sit behind satisfactorily been explained to sparse vegetation is that it is not have been out of place in a the wheel. The ute roared into me is why, when someone very quiet. We had little police line-up. The table held life and I was relieved to see trouble sneaking closer to this plastic buckets that he was vomits at velocity, it usually
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found a conversational style ‗Technology, man. Cool stuff obviously selling. that we humans haven‘t even We were both dumfounded; but that suited the feral and thought of yet. And I get good only a few seconds later he saw established a connection. I actually think this is closest to money for it too, when I can us. He stared at us for a few his real style, but he hates it find a buyer. Some of it is easy moments, then beckoned us to shift because it‘s not such a when I mention it. over. Davo and I looked at huge leap from what we have each other, and looked back at ‗Believe it or not, man, this this guy. We‘d come this far, little piece of the Aussie desert already. Know those iPods that all the kids are into now? might as well take a closer is at a cross-roads for these Came from that guy over there look. I pulled Davo around in a guys. They come from all large circle behind all of the over; and this is the closest they with the green skin and huge head. And the Hadron space-ships until we could sidle have to a central point. And Collider? The one that up alongside the Ford to talk to it‘s not near too many people everyone‘s afraid will mean the either. They track our the feral. broadcasts and they know how end of the world? The We waited quietly technical know-how came in the background I think that‘s when he really from that woman in the while he finished slinky dress with the serving a customer. saw me, and caught my handlebar moustache. I noticed that he They‘ve had them for aroma, for the first time. didn‘t take payment forever and it doesn‘t cause in cash, but bartered any problems.‘ his buckets for something else bent outta shape people get Davo‘s next question was wrapped in a cloth. He seemed when they glimpse a UFO. inspired. very pleased with his deal; and They actually try hard not to so did his customer, who ‗How do you understand these get seen, but sometimes they walked away with three have no choice.‘ The feral aliens?‘ buckets. When he saw that he broke off to serve another ‗Hey, this is one of their coolest didn‘t have another customer customer. inventions. See this band on waiting to be served, he turned When he had finished, Davo my wrist? It‘s like a portable to us. translater. You ever read The lept in to resume the ‗Hey guys. Whadda you doing conversation. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the here?‘ What a ridiculous ‗So, man, what are you selling Galaxy? Well, these bands question. What did he think we in those buckets of yours?‘ work like a Babel Fish, see? were doing here? Had he With this on I can understand ‗Cow lips, man. They can‘t get any of them, and they can noticed that I was covered in enough of them. I don‘t know understand spew and dust, and starting to me. They smell freakishly bad? Luckily what they use them for, but I gave me Davo decided to leap in and use never leave here with any unsold. They love it when I inanity to respond to inanity, make it to these gatherings.‘ leaving me partly in the this the first time I stumbled The feral looked proud of shadows. across them out here. That was himself. I ‗Hey man. Saw the lights and nearly three years ago followed them to take a look. now. I‘ve been coming This is cool. Who are these here every month since. aliens. Friends of yours?‘ I Well, as many as I can manage. was amazed he could make Say, coherent conversation while wondered how he worked my brain was still trying to out that the aliens wanted to process what my eyes were buy cow lips; but Davo seeing. was not on my ‗Yeah man. These guys come wavelength and here once a month, Earth time took the you of course, to trade. I found haven‘t told me anything about conversation in a different them out here one time – like yourselves. Who are you guys direction. you I followed the lights – and ‗What do you get in return?‘ It anyway?‘ With that he pivoted saw them all here.‘ slightly so that his gaze took in seemed a harsh question, but ‗What brings them to this the feral was into showing off me too. I think that‘s when he really saw me, and caught my armpit of Australia?‘ Davo had now and was glad to talk. aroma, for the first time.
Davo decided to be straight with him. ‗We‘re journalists. Our editor had a tip off that this gathering was happening and sent us out here to take a look. Until about two hours ago we thought she was completely nuts.‘ He stopped, not sure of what else to say. The feral took advantage of the pause. ‗You‘re not going to write about this are you? These guys value the space, and the peace. They don‘t mind me because they want what I‘ve got, and they‘ll tolerate you for tonight. But if hordes of people start coming out here they wont come back.‘ It was clear this meant something to him, but he wasn‘t going to beg us. Davo looked at me for assistance, but I couldn‘t help him. Not write about it? Was he kidding? The story was too cool to ignore; and we‘d been sent on this assignment by our editor – she knew we were out here. But maybe it wasn‘t a good idea to tell him that. You never knew what kinda weapons these ferals were packing; and that‘s without factoring in whatever laser guns and light sabers the aliens might be carrying. Better pretend we‘d gone off the idea until we were safely back in Unaminka. On second thoughts, probably better not to mention it again until we had left Unaminka well behind us. Davo seemed to have the same idea. ‗Nah, man, we‘re not going to write about this. Who would believe us? Aliens gathering for a swap meet in the central Australian desert? Not bloody likely.‘ He sounded so convincing that I wondered if he really believed it. That was a conversation for the trip home. The feral believed him; and that was the most important thing. He smiled at Davo,
glanced briefly at me, and said Squid-man spoke. I stayed in the background ‗Cool, man, thanks. Look, this ‗Dazza is sick. He asked us to trying not to smell. Even is going to be wrapping up take over.‘ Dazza must be the without being able to soon, and I‘ve only got a few understand her, I could guess feral. I was impressed by buckets of cow lips left to sell. Davo‘s bravado in calmly lying the sentiment. We were in You guys had better get out of to Squid-man. Not sure if I trouble. here.‘ And the feral turned his could have lied to an alien. She reached across the table back on us and shifted his And what if they had a lie and grabbed Davo by the collar. attention back to his customers. detector in those band things? As she dragged him towards Not sure exactly where Davo It‘s not as though we had time her, the table collapsed and the got the idea from, but it wasn‘t to do a lot of research before remaining cow lips went flying me. Next thing I know he‘s leaping into this undercover into the dirt. They must be jumped the feral and rolled him operation. really valuable to these aliens into the because I could see some shadows of them scrambling to Every red-blooded Aussie male beside the them up and slink off knows that you don‘t mess with a pick with them while we were ute. woman who has a bigger mustache otherwise occupied. I ‗What?‘ I couldn‘t stay in the asked, as than you do. shadows and let Davo be quietly as harassed by this pure freakishly strong alien with no astonishment will allow. It Squid-man spoke again. It‘s didn‘t even begin to express amazing how tones of voice are sense of humour. I stepped forward, drawing myself up to what I was thinking. But he recognisable regardless of my full height and trying to language – even one from knew. look menacing. I told her to another planet. It was easy to ‗I want to check this out – in put him down or she would hear his skepticism. the interests of journalistic have to answer to me. She integrity.‘ Davo flashed the ‗It was real sudden. He was looked at me, sized up my Babel Fish band on his own fine one minute and crook the potential threat to her wellwrist. ‗I gotta try this.‘ And he next. Must‘ve been something being, and threw Davo to the stood behind the stall of cow he ate.‘ ground. I guess she wasn‘t too lips as though he had always Squid-man turned to get the concerned. been there. Like all cunning attention of another alien. It As she went after Davo, plans, it had a flaw that was not was the woman with the kicking him and pushing his immediately obvious to us; but handlebar mo. Now we were face into the red dust, Squid it probably should have been. really in trouble. Every redMan came after me. I‘m pretty The next alien to come over to blooded Aussie male knows good in a bar fight; but I‘ve our stall was the tentacled one that you don‘t mess with a never fought a guy who can that the feral had pointed out to woman who has a bigger punch with six fists at once. I us earlier. The one who mustache than you do. She was vaguely aware of Davo brought iPods to this previously minced over in her slinky dress getting to his feet and trying to impoverished world. I dubbed and looked down at Davo with box with the woman, but I had him Squid-man, as we were eyes that looked a lot like problems of my own. I landed never likely to be properly Nicola‘s. I made a mental note one good shot on the Squidintroduced. He spoke to Davo, to tell her that when we got man, and was shocked to feel but of course I didn‘t have a back, sure that she would value how squishy his skin was. It translater so I couldn‘t the comparison. must have been a good one understand him. It turned out I Mustachioed woman spoke for though, because I could see the didn‘t need to. a while. Davo just stood there. inky bruise come up under his
skin. Take that, alien! But he was pummelling me thick and fast with fists and suckers bruising my arms and legs, followed by a couple of solid hits to the head. My vision went blurry, giving the rotating tentacles the look of a demented ferris wheel before I passed out completely. The first sensation I felt was the sun burning my skin; quickly followed by the pain from my bruised and battered body. As bad as both were, the smell was worse as the old spew heated up in the morning sun to a knee -weakening stench. Davo was lying next to me and just starting to moan. I rolled on to my knees and looked around. There was nothing. No space-ships, no aliens, no Ford, no feral. Just us, and our ute half a kilometre away. Did we imagine all this? Davo lost the camera in the fight, or perhaps the feral took it. Regardless, it was gone. We had no proof, and therefore no story. But even that would be OK if I could be sure it had really happened. Davo rolled over and sat up, looking down at his clenched fist. He slowly unrolled his fingers and held up a chunk of medium-length hair with a curl at one end. The alien woman‘s handle-bar mustache! He looked at it for a moment, looked at me, and said ‗Cooooool‘. Not sure if we can print it, but it sure is a great story to tell. Kate Matthew Warrimoo
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THE SPIRIT AND GHOSTS OF ‘CATHO’ The following piece was used to support a small coastal mining community which was under threat of being taken over by developers. Since then, the NSW Government has applied for a heritage listing and it appears that for the time being the little town of Catherine Hill Bay is protected. Although the piece has been used once previously, we reproduce it here to remind ourselves of our own battle for World Heritage Listing, and to show empathy for our coastal friends as they seek to protect their environment.
eaching out to sea like a giant steel centipede the Catherine Hill Bay coal loader groans against the force of the incoming tide, still standing as proud and strong as ever. Symbolising the strength of this small town‘s spirit, the old coal loader has now become an iconic landmark to many Lake Macquarie locals and east coast surfers. Although now in permanent retirement it is a constant reminder of Catherine Hill Bay‘s heritage and its struggles. At dawn standing on the beach one can almost feel the ghostly presence of the long gone miners and hear the faint echoes of a once buzzing community. You could almost be mistaken into believing that Catherine Hill Bay was one of those towns that time forgot. That is of course until you realise that with all its natural rugged beauty and bygone charm it is actually a place that is purely ‗unforgettable‘ to many people. Catherine Hill Bay just south of Swansea on the NSW North coast is a ‗special place‘ for many people, its natural environment virtually unchanged since white settlement. The fabulous 2km beach is a haven for surfers
providing great waves without the crowds. The northern end hosts several peaceful little rock pools for those that prefer to just swim and as a bonus it has been rated one of the cleanest and most unspoilt beaches in the region. Neatly tucked away just off the Pacific Highway thousands of motorists pass by it daily, totally unaware of its very existence let alone its ambiance and historical charm. It was once a struggling yet closely knit coal mining community but with mining ceasing in 2002 Catherine Hill Bay (or, as it is affectionately known, ‗Catho‘) slowly shut down, with post office, local shop and eventually the little school now ceasing to exist. In 2006 the town‘s state heritage protection lapsed and with the ‗wolves‘ at the door (or, as they are affectionately known, the ‗developers‘) Catho now has a new struggle on its hands and faces constant developmental threats. Due to the closure of basic amenities most of the locals have moved out but those that remain are fiercely proud of their heritage and determined to keep this peaceful little village intact and out of the wolves clutches. Most people who
know this town and everyone who has surfed her pristine beach would be devastated to see all the history and natural beauty disappear underneath a bulldozer. Even Mel Gibson would join the battle having made his first starring movie here, the great Aussie surf classic ‗Summer City‘! Indeed anyone who has had the ‗Catho‘ experience would want to keep that memory alive. It is a place definitely worth a day trip (only 2 hours from Sydney), or even better – a weekend. Many of the old miner‘s cottages now provide holiday accommodation and have great views of the beach and surrounding national parkland. If you are a surfer you will appreciate the ‗vibe‘ of the town and the local surf culture. What is obvious in Catho is that while the surfing law is still respected it is almost like taking a day trip to the country or a childhood summer holiday. The atmosphere is just that little bit more relaxed and the people are just that little bit friendlier. These conditions alone can make for an enjoyable and memorable surfing experience. Catherine Hill Bay hosts a couple of great festivals each
year: the Heritage Festival and one well known to surfers ―The Catho Classic‖. These events are wonderful for the local community as they breathe life into this tiny town and create an awareness of how important it is to preserve all of Australia‘s hidden treasures, no matter how small (or hidden) they may be. The miners may have gone but the ‗spirit‘ of Catho is definitely still alive. At the top of the hill, also standing proud and prominent, is the town‘s other familiar landmark, and there is no shortage of spirit here! ―The Catho Pub‖. A very popular watering hole for day-trippers and locals alike and often with live music on a Sunday! The big old veranda out front is the perfect place to chill out after a surf or swim and soak up the atmosphere, the fresh ocean air and the town‘s unique history. Now that‘s a spirit worth bottling! Dee Dee Graham Blaxland
Save Catho Oh Catho sweet Catho, she‘s captured our hearts Please don‘t let them change her from maiden to tart We love where she‘s come from, we love who she‘s been, we can‘t let them ruin her peaches and cream. Such beauty and temperance and timelessness grace, we need to act soon before all is erased. Her virgin white sands with a backdrop of green, such mystique and history like never we‘ve seen. So many seducers are courting her now, with offers so tempting and deceit in their vows They long to caress her lush coastal cliffs, to bathe in her waters and offer her gifts They will take what they want and than leave her exposed, they will ravage her landscape and spoil her clean coast. So hold tight to this beauty, as she offers her hand and whispers: ―please don‘t try and change me, I‘m already so grand‖.
Hanging Rock, Blackheath The wind did howl through the valley below The great force which has carved these cliffs But the light that fell on the Hanging rock Was as soft as a lovers kiss And although I had travelled many a mile Just to witness the valley‘s haze It was the golden hews of the Hanging rock That seductively stole my gaze.
Poems by Dee Dee Graham, Blaxland
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Beyond the Oak Door I was editor of a weekly newspaper in Barking, Essex. Each year around Easter and Christmas the paper closed for a week and I would be seconded to the major paper; the Chelmsford Weekly News, to work as a sub-editor. It was not a task I relished since the Weekly News, unlike the Advertiser, was in the centre of a rural area and much of its editorial space was devoted to farming, cattle shows and dairying. Not quite my cup of tea! So I was always glad when the week was up and I could get back to my own paper. During one particular term of duty at Chelmsford I got to know some of the editing team better than usual. It transpired that one of the journalists was leaving and a going-away party had been arranged for Friday evening at the Town Hall. I was invited to join them. So after work on the Friday I
strolled down to the Town Hall - an imposing sandstone building which may have been built around the turn of the last century- which housed the local council offices and a number of banqueting rooms. At the entrance I was met be a doorman, or usher, in a rather tired looking uniform, who offered his help. I explained that I was looking for the press function but had no idea where it was being held. Neither did he but he motioned towards a sturdy oak door on the left where, as he put it, ―there are sounds of merriment‖. So I pushed open the door and just hoped I was in the right place. I was just about to make my excuses when someone called out ―come and join us‖. A few words of introduction, during which I explained that I had been looking for the farewell party, and I was invited to sit down at a long, narrow table
Arthur Gray Wentworth Falls laden with food and drinks. I was instantly made welcome and decided this was going to be quite a night. There appeared to be about a dozen youngish men, attired in blazers and suits, some smoking cigars, some smoking cigarettes. My impression was that they were all university graduates, or undergraduates, and holding some kind of reunion. They reminded me of a group of young toffs I had seen in film set in the 1920s. I didn‘t dwell on it though but got into the swing of thing, chatting and joking. At one stage I was invited to get up and tell some of my own jokes. A few of them were rude, but judging by the applause they seemed to go down well. So the evening progressed and it was only when I remembered that I had to catch a late train home to South London that I began to make my excuses. I
got up and ambled towards the door saying something like ‗Give my regards to Cambridge‘ as I left. Why? I don‘t know, but it seemed the thing to do. I was curious about the previous night‘s events so the next day, Saturday, I dropped into the Town Hall again on my way home. This time there was a much older attendant on the door. I explained that I hadn‘t been able to find the press party but had spent an enjoyable couple of hours all the same. He asked where and I pointed to the room just behind him. He seemed surprised. ‗Ain‘t bee no party in ‗ere last night, Sir.‘ He said. ‗That place ‗as been closed for three months for repairs.‘ I walked towards the oak door. It was barred and padlocked.
Fatality at Warrimoo
David Berger Lawson
It was Friday night and the train was mountains bound. We‘d finished the week with money in hand and a complacent satisfaction. Warm and happy, our train rattled on, expecting smiles at home: Sausage sizzles, kids and sport, a weekend full of fun.
We didn‘t know, we didn‘t think, we were going home content. She didn‘t know, could not think, blind to our existence. Penrith called us for a stop, an unexpected beer, Fatality at Warrimoo, they said. How dare she interfere! She‘d caught the train, or perhaps it caught her,
She was wandering towards the line, She was crying and asking why? She‘d given up hope in all she believed, Enough’s enough, can’t cope any more ... she called to an empty sky.
On a dark stretch.
Bon vivants with wine and cheese, not really breaking the law, Our cocoon of bliss split the night, we‘d caught our train of dreams. She also wanted to catch our train, but higher up the line, On a dark and lonely vacant stretch of bush, where none would intervene.
On a Friday night. On the mountains.
David Berger, Lawson
Black Future I'm worried 'cause there are some folks who'd like to bury coal â€“ the industry, is what I mean. I don't know why; it's pretty clean, and such a great contributor to Aussie as a (w)hole. They reckon that we shouldn't mine our ancient bands of coal. I don't know what they're on about. It's useless till we rip it out. Yeah, maybe it supports some rocks, but that's a minor role. How bored would all the water be without new depths to plumb that coal mines open up for it? Old creeks are dull you must admit, and think what water might pick up and what it might become! And if we didn't burn our coal, just how would we survive? That solar, thermal, wind and wave are too expensive. We must save. To tear out coal is cheap as chips, so mining comp'nies thrive. Oh, sure it makes some greenhouse gas, but of our nation's sum, that forty-two per cent, as such, it really isn't very much, and starving trees of CO2 could see them all succumb. Some cleaners would be out of work because of lack of dust. No flyash, acid rain or gas means far less cancer too, alas, so doctors with no work to do would quit in sheer disgust. But most of all we need our coal to sell off overseas. Until they act on climate change, our coal is tops of all the range, with far less ash that brings about respirat'ry disease. Old mines are great for shelter after nuclear attack, and open cuts become flat land, all cleared for suburbs to expand. So, come on, keep on mining coal and make our future black. Greg North, Linden
The Main Event is the Country‘s Future
e‘re looking at voting again. We look at the man or woman in the sky; ‗Oh! I mean on TV‘. Do they look good, do they look pretty, do they have a good look in their eye? Have they been featured in ‗The Australian Women‘s Weekly‘ magazine? Do they talk sense? Do they hold you with what they say? Are you enthralled with every word while sitting back on your sofa with your beer and eating your meat pie, watching the worm? Ah! But you have to vote. You have to have your say. You‘re trying to make some sense out of all this; the tides shifting in and out, or maybe even a tsunami is on the way. After all, playing the political game is under way. Who‘s playing which game? Both I would say. Give a game like this to your kids and you could end up being confused. Confused? Who‘s confused? They come up with their differences, but really it is just the same. Yes, these front men and women are so important, looking good and well clothed as they emphasise, with body language, to convince us that they know how to talk their talk, walk their walk, while kissing babies – kissing babies – kissing babies, and working hard to get their way. Whose way? They are the Front Men, the Leaders of the day. Those walking the country, talking the country, saying, ―Vote for me!‖ Vote for who? Who are we voting for? Are we voting for
what we see? And ‗what we see, is that what we get?‘ or what we get is that something else? Maybe they are both one and the same, depending on the day. Peter Costello saying, ―In politics, if you can fake sincerity you‘re got it made.‖ What a guy. What a thing to say. So maybe it‘s not so much as ‗who are we voting for‘ but ‗what are we voting for‘. Are we really sure? Or is your guess as good as mine? What we are voting for, is that what will be? Or will it disappear as fast as it began? After all, what they really want is to be elected and to work in that great machine. Canberra, a working machine? Who is the real machine? The hollow men, men and women behind the scene. The ones who keep working year after year after year, going over and over the same thing making sure there is little or no change. Toillessly playing a difficult game. The Heads of Departments, or the guys down the line. The unseen, the unknown, the forgotten, but certainly there all the same. ‗Yes Minister‘ could do with a replay. We shift. Do we stay with Labor, go Liberal, or even vote Green. It‘s ‗so important‘ we‘re told. It‘s all for the sake of our future. Is it? Who really is pulling the strings? Which guy, which Company, which Bank. Surprise, surprise, it might even be the political machine …. We‘re on a roller coaster ride, rolling up and down, going which-ever which-way, even
from side to side, or upside down. The Main Event is the Country‘s Future, isn‘t it? We like to believe so, don‘t we. Well, of course we do, and, yes our country‘s future in the main event. Is that after the economy, or before the economy? Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? And if the chicken laid the egg and squashed it, it is not an egg at all is it. Just an awful mess. How‘s the weather going? Too much rain? Too much snow? No rain at all and nowhere to go. What‘s the hurry, make a guess. Give it time, we‘ll know what to do … maybe, just wait a few more years, that‘s what is best. Don‘t worry about not enough water. If we run out, there will be so many people there won‘t be any water left. This is a dry country after all is said and done, unfortunately it‘s a long way to swim if there‘s nowhere to run. Dig deep into the ground, it‘s amazing what you might find. Minerals - coal, gold, lead, tin, iron-ore, uranium and, hey presto! Great! Water ... maybe. But of course the economy must come first. It‘s all about balance as they say, and wait long enough and then you will know which is the right way. Money, money, money. Power, power, power. Which power? The one that turns on the lights, or the one at the top of those great Corporate buildings the power most of us don‘t see. The power which turns the lights on? Maybe candle power is what will be. Lots and lots of
candles, and yes, that could create another environmental problem probably. If I don‘t have a job, I won‘t be able to pay for my electric bill. If I don‘t pay taxes I won‘t be able to contribute to the pension scheme which I will have to be on if I need to pay for those candles I will need to buy. And if the Company‘s not there for me to get work because it is cheaper for it to go overseas, my wages can‘t compete with theirs, so then where will I be. But the Main Event is the Country‘s Future? I have been round and round in one big circle, and have ended up, once again, at square one. I have to vote. Vote for whom…. ‗There‘s a hole in my bucket, dear Eliza dear Eliza‘, for those who still remember the song. ‗Well, fix it dear Henry dear Henry dear Henry, dear Henry fix it.‘ And after going through many exercises of fixing it, it still ends up with ‗a hole in the bottom of the bucket‘. Is politics just the same? Our future is in their hands. It‘s time to vote again so that we may be able to rest in peace… in hope… in desperation… in despair. In ‗oh well, maybe it will be alright, .…. perhaps‘. We have to believe in something don‘t we? Well, don‘t we? Good luck, God bless and happy voting, that‘s all I can say. Beverley Elizabeth Taylor Woodford
Out of the Mist
Falling Ever so gently Down, Gather yourself together You will soon feel the ground.
Sunday morning misty rain soft as feathers on my face.
Things are slowing down Come a little closer. It‘s drawing to a close The more time we spend out here The greater becomes the fold. Soft Glass fingers fail to fit the mould. There‘s really nothing here Just everything I know May be a ghost Still part of the machine Take a look out the window All these trees This land This sky
Endless stream of highway traffic, there‘s no order to its comings and goings. A tall man appears out of the mist shoulders hunched, coat flapping he shivers, pulls it closer. Rays of light and shadows on distant mountains; mysterious as a sleeping Buddha. Sweet perfume of wattles along the highway golden balls against grey green leaves. Emptiness of an aluminium sky through a window in the clouds.
It may take a bit But one day It will all be mine
I lose sight of the man in the swirling, eddying mist.
Ryan O’Shannessy, Katoomba
―Was he the prophet?‖ Jean Bundesen, Woodford
Correspondence This column will be reserved for your say, but being our first issue there isn‘t too much to report! The one thing we did get as part of the submissions received was great encouragement for developing this magazine. General comments in emails with submissions were along the lines of: ‗thank you for this initiative‘ ‗thank you for this opportunity‘ So thank you all for your feedback and we look forward to more of it for the next issue!
Don’t forget to vote for your favourite piece at: www.moshpitpublishing.com.au/narrator.html Voting opens on 1 October 2010 and closes 15 November 2010. First prize: $200 Second prize: $100 Third prize $50 If you would like to sponsor a future prize, please contact Jenny Mosher at firstname.lastname@example.org
Resources Each quarter we will try to bring you a little information about how to improve your writing, or how to get it ‗out there‘. Suggestions are welcome at any stage. For this quarter, we highlight some the following two organisations which you
may wish to find out more about, or even join: Leura Literature Group Phone: 02 4757 4629 (President), 02 4757 1033 (Secretary)
Blue Mountains Regional Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) NSW Inc Phone: 02 4751 2725 (President) or visit http://www.fawnsw.org.au
Advertisers Banner ads are $33 each, including GST, for one issue. In future editions, ads will be run at the top of the left hand page and the bottom of the right hand page, limit of one ad per page. Limitations: As this is a regional magazine, businesses will need to be either located in the Blue Mountains, or provide services to residents or other businesses of the Blue Mountains, before their ad will be accepted. Ad format: Banner ads to be delivered either in a single jpeg which can be scaled to 3cm by 18.5cm, or else as jpeg images of logos
etc emailed through, along with text and ideas for layout in Word or Publisher if you have a layout in mind. All advertisement requests will be invoiced immediately with payment due within 7 days. If payment is not received, ads will not be run. Please also provide the URL for your website—ads will be hyperlinked so that PDF versions will provide readers with direct ‗click through‘. Event ads for the central calendar in future issues are $11 each, for one issue. Limitations: These ads are for one-off community
events, generally to do with art, literature or education, and not for regular events such as monthly markets. Event ads: We will require a date or dates, the name of your event and the URL for your website. (The URL will not be shown, just used to link the Event ad to your website.) As the event calendar covers four months, event listings for the last month of the quarter will be repeated free of charge in the first (corresponding) month of the next issue‘s calendar. That is, Event listings for December, March, June and September will be repeated in the following quarter‘s calendar.
Image credits Cover: Art Stops by Blake McHugh Local Artwork Poster: Reconciliation of Self by Karen Maber Pg 1: Jenny Mosher by Todd Sharp Pg 2: Bright Spark by Zoya Kraus Pg 29: Catherine Hill Bay by Jenny Mosher
Pg31: Haig Pit Colliery Minehead, Whitehaven, Cumbria, UK by Jenny Mosher P35: Agnes Macintyre by Peter Adams All other images purchased from iStockphoto.com
Aunt Agnes I remember my Spinster aunt and Mitre Cottage, where she lived with her Spinster companion. These days, we'd presume she was gay - assume they were both gay - but in those days, she was really just a crusty old woman from Wiltshire with a prickly chin, who gave prickly hugs. I remember how difficult it was to get close enough to her powdered cheek to plant the obligatory plonker - the one my parents always insisted I plonk. The problem wasn't so much the prickles, but those Bodicea Battering-Ram Bosoms that preceded her by a good footand-a-half, as she came down the garden path to the Lavender hedge to greet us. Sensible brown brogues clattered on the limestone flags and a sensible
Peter Adams Katoomba tweed skirt concealed mysterious rustling's that came from within. She would stand there, arms cosseted in one of her many 'sensible' starched white blouses, as one-by-one we would be enfolded into her prickles. I would be forgotten in the midst of all this - crushed by the rush of those eager to get it all over and done with. Meanwhile, her femininity would tower above me like a balcony, concealing everything above it - darkness seemed to close in around me. At seven years old, I seldom saw her face. I remember my Aunt's bosoms were heavily textured - like the swirling brocade wallpaper in her sitting room, and the
Broidery Anglaise table cloth which only came out on special occasions - and the Belgium lace anti-Macassar's on the arms of the Ottoman, in the hallway. At Mitre Cottage everything seemed to be embroidered with Dog Rose and Japonica, with Lily-of-theValley and Forget-me-Knots, all intertwined with festoons of Ivy. At seven years I believed that every bosom - on every woman - was as solidly upholstered as the leather arms of my Aunt's Ottoman - furthermore, they all seemed to radiate the same bouquet as the contents of the chest in her spare room - where she stored her surplus lavender in small muslin pouches tied with pink ribbon. In a way, my Aunt's bosoms
were like her garden - always in flower and always a vague trace of Lavender.
Agnes Sim Macintyre ÂŠ Vandyck 1932 Some ten years later, I discovered that bosoms had mysteriously changed into boobs and that these were smooth not textured, and soft not hard, and nice to nuzzle up to - it has never ceased to amaze me how much things had changed in a short span of ten years. I remember too the sound of her garden. The chink of old tin lids as they spun and clattered in the wind, against bamboo poles - in the belief they would to scare away the Blackbird and Thrush from the ripening peas. I remember too the harmony of the Thrush and Blackbird, as they took no notice what-so-ever and joined in competitive concert. I remember the repetitive whirr of a hand-pushed mower after the Sunday Roast - a sound long since gone - and the distant sound of bell-ringers crucifying the Angelus at St Michaels. And the drip of summer rain from a cracked gutter. Peter Adams Katoomba
Robyn Caughlan, Indigenous Artist e: email@example.com
Everything Seems to be Broken H ello Jack you will be pleased to know that I am alive and well of body and almost sound of mind or will you? I tried to send a message to you but they would not allow me to send anything; so I sit and write this in the hope one day you will read it. I don‘t‘ think anyone ever understood me; but you have always understood me; or I thought you did; I just want you and the others to know who I really am. Not the broken thing you last saw. I am longing for you to come and take me home; to put your arms around me and tell me it‘s all ok and we will be ok. When I am in your arms I feel like I have died and gone to heaven. There is something special about our relationship even if it has been like a roller coaster; and broken for the moment. You taking me home is not going to happen anytime soon, I know that and I know how badly I hurt you and the
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Elizabeth Diehl, Wentworth Falls
length or my tongue lashed out with you and myself I did not 2 and cut deeply into people‘s Someone always gets hurt and dig deep enough. I held back souls; destroying innocence; someone always loses. Is there for fear of losing my mind; how friendships and relationships; ever a winner in love and war? ironical is that? like the force of the cyclone I Was our relationship love or I blamed my moods on PMS destroyed whatever was in my war? I suspect a little of both. and then on menopause but path. Every time I deep down I think of you I have to as they put me in the van I knew knew it was that stop and try hard to ‗secret‘ I kept to remember to breathe; I then with certainty that I had myself causing miss you so much. it. Our children destroyed yet another relationship There was a storm suffered for it, raging all around and and it was broken, shattered and and this haunts in me and I had no idea me every day of lost like myself. where to shelter and my life. I lay a how to stop it. I felt My heart aches and my soul wake thinking of them and how desperate and I felt like I was cries out for you to understand I almost destroyed their lives losing control. The word the real me. The rage and with my ‗anger‘ and my ‗control‘ keeps coming up and I anger inside of me came from ‗secret‘. Was it wrong of me to get all nervous when I think of deep within me; it was not of keep it to myself, should I have it; such a powerful word; such a my making. told you before we married and small word; a word that can the children long before I did? We met when we were young cause so much pain. and feel deeply in love but I Then one day I confessed my I lay awake and wonder will I always kept something dirty ‗secret‘ and you and I ever get a chance to tell you physically and emotionally cried together; holding each how I feel; and to be able to from you. I tried to overcome other and you whispered into touch you and to feel your arms it and I tried to love fully but my ear that it did not matter to around me now that would be there was always something you; that you would always be perfect. You cringed and inside of me that raged and still here for me. We decided not to pulled away from me as they does at the injustice of it all. I tell the children; too much am so much information for ones so young. better now but Were we right; has it helped or I am so much better now but they tell me I still they tell me I still hurt them keeping secrets only have a way to go before I am completely healed have a way to go hurts people; or does it? before I am My childhood was like most; children. They tell me I will took me; and I saw the tears of completely healed and allowed school and homework with have to remain here for terror streaming down your to go home to you; do you still visits to grand parents and sometime to finish off my face. I gave you my heart and want me, you never come to church on Sundays. In summer healing process. I have been you turned out to be a Judas. visit me, where are you? Did I we sang all the way to the living in a delusional world; Are you a Judas or did you do break you; are you broken like beach in our Holden with the acting a little crazy at times and the right thing? me? tailgate up and we ate water I seemed to be insane to most As they took me away I I was born the second child of melon sitting on the hot sand. I people. Everything around me screamed out silently for you to four and like any small child I was a skinny little kid with thin was shattered and broken; or is forgive me to know that it was had dreams and hopes for my brown hair; who loved to climb that another of my illusions? not me; that I would never future. Laughter and tears were trees and talk to the fairies; and Sometimes I hear voices inside intentionally hurt you. You the norm in our house and there make mud pies; ride my bike my head and I wonder if it‘s walked away from me, turned was love, lots of love. My and play hopscotch with my spirit talking to me or the your back and as they put me in parents were loving and friends and siblings. We craziness inside of myself. the van I knew then with a wonderful people; did they played hide and seek in the At the toss of a coin I would certainty that I had destroyed know? Did anyone know my bush land surrounding the explode and seem a little crazy yet another relationship and it dirty secret? Was it written on school. to anyone listening. I would was broken; shattered and lost my forehead for all to see? As We dipped the plaits of the girls lose control and not be able to like myself. an adult I did lots of intense in front of us in the ink wells regain it for a very long time. I work on myself to forgive and and we drank warm milk in attacked anyone within arms forget, but if I am to be honest bottles. We played cricket and
used hula hoops when we could get one, they were in big demand. If we were lucky we would be brought an ice cream when we went to the movies.
days grew worse and the anger raged inside of me, spilling out and creating chaos all around me. I conquered my drinking habit; so those days are over but now I have to face reality sober; not such a good thing. I have been seeking; searching and trying to find myself in all this mess for years. I know
should. There have been many a child did I ever love the times when I have raged and summer, I worshipped the sun ranted at you and I saw the pain and would lay out in it all day if in your eyes and the children‘s I could. I have a room to eyes. Once I unleashed the myself here whereas the others anger I could not stop and we are in a dormitory with at least 8 people. I am not sure why I all suffered for it. get to have a room to myself; Do you remember how we 3 met? We were on a blind date; did you arrange it? The games Dad grew vegetables in our you walked into the room is noisy and has a lot of crazy people in it; so I try to back garden room and crossed My brother took my innocence all and mum the dance floor and avoid it but they want let me; and like the group sessions that baked apple stood beside me. those years ago. He should have and blackberry The only words you I dislike I have to attend. killed me then and there ... pies. We said were ―Hello They are confronting and the would go down Sue‖ and ―Can I other people are always underneath all of this I am a into the bush and pick the hold your hand‖. You just wanting to know what I am good loving person. I try to blackberries, always coming stood there staring at me and here for and why did I try to embrace life and face my fears that is how we remained for home with the stain of berries finish off what they see as a but the anger gets in the way. I most of the night. Both of us on our mouths; sometimes perfect life? I have no interest have been so tired of being eating more than we brought were shy and had no idea how in telling complete strangers depressed and I wonder why I to make the first move. I home. Nana dropped in often my inner most thoughts; I‘m am like this? Then I discovered remember thinking I can not go not comfortable with that. It is and with her visits came laughter and love; she was such that depression is ‗anger‘ out with him again; he‘s boring quite amazing how other people turned inwards and it became a wonderful loving giving but when you rang the see your life; I guess it is woman. Mum‘s very much like clear to me what I had to do. following week I weakened and different looking in from her and I am like them in many Does my brother ever stop to outside. I wonder how the the rest is history. ways. The only thing is they think about how he ruined my I was a child growing into a children perceived our life; how did not have the anger inside life, how dirty he has made me woman and you a young boy did you see it; was there always them that I have. feel? How many others has he trying to become a man. We a black cloud hanging over our devastated and how many lives knew nothing of love and Life was simple and happy relationship for you to? until the day my innocence was has he ruined? Nobody would relationships; I thought that Our children seem well taken from me; the day of terror listen to me and when they did love came with abuse; not that adjusted adults, but are they they would say; I was and disbelief. You know all you physically abused me. I really, what is going on in their imagining it, I was telling lies this because we have talked have tried really hard not to let minds? The counsellor says I and I was naughty girl and it about my childhood many the children see this other side am doing really well, would was probably my times, but we never really they say that if talked about my loss of control fault for they read my For a very long time I have been tryencouraging him. or my bouts of temper or the private diary depression and anger; my black How can a small ing to work out who I am; maybe I that I hide in child encourage dog days and the excessive walled in need to become a monk; the Buddhist the drinking. I guess it was easier something like garden. I have to sweep it all under the carpet that, how would I are such peaceful people. searched for have know about and pretend it was all ok. years why some such things? I grew up shy and of me; the dirty side. I wanted people do what they do to They tell me it is normal for others, and still the answer woman like me; the abused to afraid of boys; I only ever felt them to grow up in a loving comfortable around my family; family with their innocence in eludes me; do you have the feel anger; to lose control and but never completely tact. Did I do a good job, who answer? strike out at the loved ones comfortable around my brother will judge me? around us. Maybe I went too and still don‘t. Over the years far; is that why you let them Life here is ok; they let you come and take me away or was other boys and men tried to use have free time to wander in the my body; the anger raged and 5 it because I lost my mind and gardens; even if it is burned inside of me but I tried to take my life? My They search every ones bags surrounded by a huge wall. I brother took my innocence all fought back and I have feel comfortable with the wall I and take away the mobile survived, just. those years ago. He should phones when we come in here. have live behind one most of have killed me then and there; my life. This time of the year Most of the others have phone it would have saved all this is nice, the daffodils are out and privileges; apparently you told them you did not want me to pain and anguish. the air is crisp just the way I 4 like it. Remember how much I phone you anymore; why? I I drank to forget; to dull the Life with you has been mostly loved it when the autumn came feel broken and isolated; where pain so I did not have to think; good and we have wonderful are you? They make us sit in and trees changed colour and but it never helped it just got grown children; but I have not on a meditation class and this then after a long cold winter worse. It got so bad that I been fair to you. I have held came spring with the flourish of makes me uncomfortable. For found it hard to get out of bed back part of myself and never new buds on the trees. Only as a very long time I have been and to function. The black dog really let you love me like you
THE GHOST TRAIN is coming www.brooktheatre.net trying to work out who I am; maybe I need to become a monk; the Buddhist are such peaceful people. The solitary life would suit me to a degree; I love people but they can be so cruel, what is happening to this world? Why are people so cruel? When they give me my sleeping pill at night I pretend to swallow it, I have gotten very good at putting it up on the roof of my mouth and then when I am completely happy they are not watching me I put it up my vagina till the morning and then I flush it. I lay awake and dream of you and our love making and the happy times we shared. The night is the only time that is completely mine, it is the time when I reflect on my life and how I got here. It‘s the time when the angels come to visit me and I am not so alone; I like that. Do you miss me at all or have you replaced me with another lover? I miss you more than I will ever be able to say on paper. I‘d like to get the chance to show you how much I miss you and love you, but you never come. It would be nice to have something else in my vagina other than a pill; is that too rude for you; should I say these things to you? Never mind I‘ve written it now so it will have to stay on the paper. It‘s crowded and noisy here but I feel so alone and lonely. I have felt this way most of my life; actually all of my life. I can be in the midst of a huge crowd and still feel alone, why is that? Are you lonely? I‘ve never been one for having loads of friends like my sister; I prefer just to have a couple of close friends. She surrounds herself with people all the time and can not bear to be alone. I on the other hand do not mind being alone, but then when I feel the need for company I have no one to call up. It‘s like a catch twenty two thing isn‘t
it? We always want what we do not have. Do you still want me? We were made for loving each other; I could never get enough of you and you me. Oh Jack smile; I can see you frowning that frown of yours; lighten up Jack. I long to walk by the seashore and collect shells and then wonder what I am going to do with them. I have a compulsion to collect every brochure I find and you would always laugh at me for taking them home. Have you cleaned out all the draws I stored them in and thrown it all out or is it still waiting for me? I am a woman that likes a tidy house, but don‘t look in my draws and cupboards they are a mess. Does this tell you I am orderly on the outside and a mess on the inside; I think it does. I wonder what the head shrink would make of this one if I told them; I tell them very little. I hate talking about my inner most thoughts, it hurts oh how it hurts and I feel broken and out of control when they make me talk in the group. Even writing this to you hurts and causes me pain.
6 I miss my quilting, but I am not allowed to have scissors and needles, they think I am still a danger to myself. They constantly ask me what put me over the edge that day and I never say, to this day I have not told anyone the reason why. Maybe if you come to visit me I will tell you, but you never come. They tell me until I am willing to open completely up to them and be more willing to share my inner most thoughts I will remain here. It‘s not such a bad place to be. I remember when I told my mother that there have been times when I would like to lose my mind and not have to think; and then I got scared the God‘s would hear
me and take my mind away; so mouth and also has my I stopped saying it, but I guess impulsive behaviour but has they decided that I had said it many of your family‘s genes; enough and they stepped in and some good and some not so took it that day. For who in good. I am a loving giving their right The night is the only time that is mind would completely mine take their own life? Did you not see woman and I have always tried the danger signs; did you not to be a good wife and mother I hear me screaming out to you am afraid I might have failed at for help? Were you so blind to both of these, please forgive me me that you did not see the for that. torture I was in and how badly I They tell me I have a lot of needed help? Have you ever work to do on myself and until stopped to look at our I am willing to share more of relationship and see how toxic myself with them I will remain it was? I would often say to here a broken spirit. Did I tell you that you were like ―a dead you this already; sometimes I man walking‖, because you get mixed up and I forget where appeared to not feel. Were you I am and when reality comes willing to live with me under back I want to scream and any circumstances? scream; but if I do they stick Our love became a very sharp needles in me and they different kind of love; we went lock me up till I calm down. I from that intense passion to feel tormented each and every taking each other for granted; day here because you do not not seeing the real person. come. I feel like a caged Most couples go through this animal yet I will not and can and some come out the other not tell them what they ask of side more in love or they decide me. I suppose is not too bad it is all too hard and they go here, there is the garden to walk their own ways. I took this in and there are daffodils to decision out of your hands; I pick. You don‘t come; where could see you were struggling are you? I keep hoping you to hang in there. It‘s not why I will come to one of our family did what I did that day; and it‘s group sessions, but you do not not your fault, please do not come. blame yourself for that one. You can take the blame for some of our broken 7 relationship, but not all of it; I was there too. You stay away and I stay here locked in my mind and behind Love can be a painful experience and tear you apart; the garden walls. Dreams are all I have; no one can take them or it can complete you. I am glad to have experienced ours; away from me; not even my brother. Have you moved on; there have been so many beautiful times and on the other are you seeing someone else, is she completing you better than hand so many painful times. I could; is this why you stay We have laughed loved and away? I feel tormented when I grown together over the years and seen the children grow into think of you with someone else yet I know you need to move beautiful adults. Our son has on and mend yourself. Don‘t your quiet spirit and my stay broken like me my love. impulsive behaviour, our The sun is shinning and I am daughter is the spit out of my allowed to go out into the
garden this afternoon; but not till the counsellor says it is ok. They tell us when to eat and when we can go to the toilet; they govern our lives and they rule with an iron fist; yet they are kind and they care. Do you care; where are you my love? Sometimes I think of that day, the day you let them take me away and I wish you had not come home so early. You called out to me s you came into the house and said there was something you wanted to tell me, what is it? Even in the fog I was in I can remember the shocked look on your face when you found me taking a bath in blood red suds. I laugh to myself when I think about how comical I must have looked, all dressed in my best in the bath with cut wrists. Did I steal your thunder; did I take from you the glory of what was so important that you had to come home early? Bugger you! Were you going to tell me you had; had enough and were leaving me or were you finally
going to talk to me about our toxic broken marriage and tell me it will be alright? It‘s not alright is it; you never come here; is it because I disgust you that much or are you such a mouse of a man you can not face me and the truth of who I am? I am woman who loves you and I am here alone in all this madness I am here screaming silently out for help. I am a victim and I do not belong here, I know this with all my heart but I will not and can not tell why I tried to end my life. Why is it so important for them to know? Crazy people walk around here all day and some even have those straight jackets on and rock back and forwards moaning so loudly it almost deafens you. Is this to be my life forever more, a crazy lonely woman locked behind a garden wall screaming out for help and not getting any? Remember when I told you about my brother and you said I did not ever have to see him
ever again; well I am so pleased I do not have to see him; it just disturbs me too much. The counsellors are always asking me to talk about him and I tell them to mind their own bloody business and I usually scream at them and that is when I get one of those needles and go to sleep for awhile, did I tell you it is nice here? The counsellor said I was progressing nicely, what the ‗fuck‘ does that mean? Progressing nicely! Sounds like a barn dance to me; he talks so much shit. Did I tell you that it‘s nice here; great garden. They let us walk amongst the daffodils and sometimes we are allowed to pick them; hmm it is nice here. I wanted to go and get some material to make a quilt for my bed but they said the shops are closed on Sunday; but I knew it was Monday.
8 I think they are the mad ones;
not me. Everyone knows Monday comes after Saturday. Hmm they said that I could go another day; but then they said I was not ready to go out, it just goes to show you; who the crazy one is. When you come in next time please bring my sewing and some blue material. Oh and also when you come; please bring my brother I have not seen him for awhile; we can all sit down and have a nice cup of tea together. I hear the visitors bell ringing and the ever hopeful foot steps running down the hall to see if they have a visitor; stupid people; don‘t they know no one comes. I pray that today is the day you will bring the children to see me. Good night my love; sweet dreams and please give my brother my love. Yours forever more Mary the mother of your children xx Elizabeth Diehl Wentworth Falls
And this final contribution to our first edition of narrator MAGAZINE is from Paris Portingale, who has kindly agreed to be our ‗Writer-in-Residence‘ for the first three issues. Paris‘s first book, Art and the Drug Addict’s Dog, is due to be released in late October, early November 2010. For more information keep an eye on www.artandthedrugaddictsdog.com In the meantime, here‘s something to keep you interested ... with love from Paris!
Jules and Aime H
e was parking his he said, ‗No, you go, I don‘t you. Go back to the street and Citroen, which was care either‘. hide.‘ almost brand new and had been They stood looking at each He shrugged and she said, ‗See, for the better part of eighteen other for a short time, then she I told you it could be fun!‘ He months, and she was parking smiled and said, ‗Oh, come on, turned to walk away, then her Renault with the funny we can do it,‘ and he said, ‗Do turned back and, holding her, fanbelt that made the most you think?‘ and she said, ‗Of kissed her till she pushed him extraordinary whining sound if course, come on, deep breaths away, saying, ‗Stop, someone you applied too much power, and in we go!‘ will see‘. and that her mechanic had said He smiled too and she tucked Holding her shoulders he made his ears bleed freely the her arm into his and half led squeezed them briefly, then first time he heard it. They him up the path towards the released her and walked back closed their doors practically house. As they neared it she into the street and she together and when they saw unhooked herself and he said, proceeded to the double front each other, he approaching the ‗So, how do you feel?‘ and she doors and rang the bell. house from the left, if you were said, ‗Fine, I‘m not worried. He counted to thirty in his looking from the other side of Just don‘t talk to me. It‘ll be head, inserting the word the street, and she from the fine. You never know, it might ‗chimpanzee‘ right, Jules said, ‗Fuck,‘ between each and Aime said, ‗Oh no‘. … he watched the back of her number, which Together at the double made each count legs, where they slipped up ungates he added, ‗You‘re roughly equal to a here,‘ and she capped der her skimpy, slightly fluffy, second, then he her, ‗Oh no,‘ with, ‗This gave it another ten black servant-girl‘s dress. is going to be fun‘. just to be sure He said, ‗This isn‘t before going back going to work. I‘ll go. I‘ll ring be fun.‘ through the gates and up to the and say I‘m sick.‘ He said, ‗Right,‘ sounding not house. When he reached the She said, ‗No, you go. I‘ll just quite so sure how it could be door he heard music, a Latin go home. I wasn‘t all that keen turned into fun and she said, American rhythm, and seconds about going in the first place. ‗We‘d better not arrive after ringing the bell it was Colin‘s going to be there, together. I‘ll go in first. You‘d opened by a young woman with better go back to the street and bright scarlet lipstick and a anyway.‘ black and white maid‘s He said, ‗No, I‘ll leave, you go. hide.‘ ‗I‘ll just wait here,‘ he told her, uniform, only the dress was You had further to come.‘ skimpy and there was probably She said, ‗No, I don‘t care,‘ and and she said, ‗No, they‘ll see
too much cleavage evident for absolutely one hundred percent good taste in anything over and above a medium class brothel. She had a tray of glasses, champagne flutes still releasing bubbles, and he took one and thanked her, awkwardly not looking at her bosom, and she smiled and turned and as she walked away, back into the crowd of couples and trios and foursomes and septets, talking and laughing and drinking from their own individual champagne flutes, he watched the back of her legs, where they slipped up under her skimpy, slightly fluffy, black servantgirl‘s dress.
Moving through the crowd he keeps an eye open for Aime but she‘s disappeared. It‘s a large house and there are a lot of people. The music is coming from upstairs. Clearly a live group, playing, just at that time, a bossa nova. He nods as he passs Georges Durand and his wife Poppie, talking to Albert Bonnet and his third wife, Adelle, and the Durands smile and nod back and Albert Bonnet‘s wife winks at him so
that Albert looks around to see didn‘t realise it was her turn.‖ ‘ empties hers and gives him her who it is. When he sees it is glass. They all laugh, including Jules he smiles and raises his Claudine this time as there‘s no Colin says, ‗Sorry. If you want glass and Jules raises his and cloud of possible existentialism to keep it hush-hush …‘ and moves on. He passes the here he runs his fingers across over this one. Blanchards and the Fourniers his mouth in a pantomime of Jules pats Alban on the talking about the Laurents, and doing up a zip, then follows it shoulder and tells him how just past them, a sextet of the with doing up a very small funny he is and then excuses Girards, Blancs and Martins himself as Alban is preparing to padlock and throwing away the who call him over and tell the salesman-and-the-goat key, all the time grinning. Domenic Girard, still laughing, story. He moves on and in the The doorbell rings then, says to Alban Martin, ‗Tell that next room sees Aime talking to although the trio doesn‘t hear it. one to Jules, dear Alban. Jules, Colin, whom he knows she Jules is looking for the blackyou‘ll love this.‘ wished to avoid. She catches and-white maid and sees her Jules smiles at the three him in the corner of her eye but opening the door and he walks women. ‗Hello Adrienne, hello doesn‘t turn and he saunters towards her as his wife enters, Claudine. Ah, Colette, you‘re towards them and Colin sees takes a champagne from the looking well.‘ The six are maid‘s tray all very drunk. They‘ve Colin says, ‗I thought I saw you and sees him. somehow managed to find there you whisky and tumbler two having coffee together, up ‗Ah, are,‘ she says, glasses, which are now in and he says, varying degrees of fullness the back of The Moroccan‘. ‗Alice. I or emptiness. thought you Domenic turns to Alban, ‗Go him and waves. Jules waves weren‘t coming?‘ on, Freud and Jung. Tell Jules,‘ back by wiggling his And she says, ‗I changed my then to Jules, ‗You‘ll love this. champagne flute and walks mind and caught a cab‘. It‘s so … silly and …‘ over to join them. Jules takes two flutes from the His wife, Claudine, adds for Colin says, ‗Ah, Jules‘. maid‘s tray and says, ‗I‘m just him, ‗Existential,‘ and her Jules says, ‗Colin,‘ then looks getting someone a drink,‘ and husband makes a noise, perhaps at Aime with his eyebrows Alice says, ‗I‘ll follow you. conveying impatience, and raised to indicate questioning. I‘ve got something I want to says, ‗Oh, it‘s not existential at ‗Aime,‘ she says. ‗Aime Roux.‘ tell you,‘ and this sounds all, Claudine!‘ And she puts out her hand and ominous to Jules so he says, Alban Martin launches into the he takes it. ‗Good or bad?‘ and she says, story, saying ‗Sigmund Freud ‗Depends on your point of ‗But you know each other, and Karl Jung are at a view,‘ which makes the thing don‘t you?‘ Colin says and psychiatrists‘ convention in more ominous still. He then Aime says, ‗No,‘ while Jules Vienna and they‘re talking in says, ‗I don‘t think so. Do we?‘ says, ‗What‘s it about?‘ and she the foyer when Freud turns to says, ‗Deliver the drink, I‘ll tell and the question is directed at Jung and says, ―Jung old chap, you later‘. Aime. did you just fart?‖ to which He says, ‗Just tell me if it‘s Jung replies, ―Of course I did. Colin says, ‗I thought I saw you two having coffee together, up something good or bad,‘ and Do you think I smell like this she says, ‗I can‘t because it the back of The Moroccan‘. all the time?‖ ‘ and he laughs, depends …‘ and he cuts her off as do the others, except ‗No,‘ Aime says, and Colin by saying, ‗Okay,‘ and starts Claudine Martin, who still says with a half smile, ‗You off for the other room while thinks the story is at least a pretended not to see me. You Alice takes a sip from her glass little existential. ducked down as I recall. All and begins to follow him. She very cloak and dagger,‘ and his Jules laughs too, and Alban nods at the Durands and the Martin, drunk and feeling quite half smile turns into a full Bonnets and the Blanchards smile, then a laugh. the stand-up comedian now, and the Fourniers and the starts on the companion story, Aime says, ‗No,‘ and Jules Girards, Blancs and Martins, saying, ‗So, it‘s intermission says, ‗No,‘ and Colin says, passing Alban Martin just as he and Freud and Jung are in the ‗Sorry, then,‘ but in a voice that delivers his punchline of, ‗A foyer talking to Mrs Schmidt. doesn‘t sound convinced in the good goat will do that, your Suddenly Freud turns to Jung slightest. Honour‘. Alex, lured into the and says, ―Jung old chap, did group to hear the joke, Jules and Aime look at each you just fart in front of Mrs extricates himself saying, ‗Ah, other and Colin says, ‗Oh, Schmidt?‖ ‘ and here he laughs come on you two,‘ and Jules there‘s Alice,‘ and he takes her himself because the punchline empties his drink and says, ‗I‘m arm, saying, ‗For Christ‘s sake is just dangling there now, then going for a refill. Can I get get me away from that man. continues, ‗To which Jung anyone anything?‘ and Aime Those jokes …‘ replies, ―I‘m terribly sorry. I
The pair follow Jules and when the three reach Colin and Aime, Colin does the introductions, beginning with, 'Aime, this is Jules. Jules, this is Aime,‘ and his voice has a kind of pantomimie, sing-song edge that Alice and Alex, but particularly Alice, find odd and which Jules finds unsettling because Colin is the type of person who likes to tell the end of movies and reveal secrets of all kinds, and is the worst possible person in the world to have seen you having coffee with someone you‘ve just denied having ever met before. Jules says, ‗I know, we introduced ourselves a few minutes ago,‘ but Aime puts out her hand to Jules and says, ‗Pleased to meet you,‘ and Jules takes her hand awkwardly, then releases it. Colin concludes the rest of the introductions, ending with, ‗Aime, Alex. Alex, Aime‘. There is the space of about three seconds where nobody says anything, then Aime says to Jules, ‗So, what do you do, Jules?‘ and Colin snorts and asks Alice if she‘s ever been to the The Moroccan because they do the best Turkish coffee, even better than the Turks themselves do it. Jules tells Aime, ‗I‘m n theoretical physicist,‘ to which Aime replies, ‗Does that mean you‘re only theoretically a physicist?‘ and he laughs and says, ‗Theoretically‘. Aime says, ‗So, theoretically, what do you do?‘ ‗Theoretically,‘ he says in the most boringly scholarly voice he can produce, ‗using mathematics, I study areas of nature that technology can‘t so far allow us to observe using experiments.‘ ‗Mathematics was never my strong suit,‘ Aime tells him. ‗Adding and subtracting are okay. Multiplying‘s passable, but dividing‘s always been a bugger.‘ ‗Dividing‘s just a series of takings-away. All mathematics is just adding and taking away. Basically. When you boil it
PARIS Portingale Coming soon ... November 2010
that tell a sort of a story. ―A had she been diagnosed with down.‘ stick, a stone, it‘s the end of the cancer, she knows about Aime ‗He also does a lot of road, it‘s the rest of a stump, as well and it was a question daydreaming,‘ Alice says. it‘s a little alone,‖ and rooted in sarcasm, and while Colin says, ‗Don‘t you want to something about the riverbank, she hadn‘t sounded sarcastic, know what Aime does, Jules?‘ how it sometimes talks of the he felt with a certainty that that and Jules says, ‗So, what do waters of March. They stop and was where it was coming from. you do, Aime?‘ to She‘s worried by which she replies, ‗I … while they were falling prophis attitude of cook‘. course and says, erly in love in a small, third-floor ‗Interesting. What do ‗Do you want to you cook?‘ Jules asks apartment, with unpredictable hot know the sex?‘ her and she says, of course all water and a funny smell in the lit- and ‗Meat mainly. he hears is the Vegetables. Fruit tle laundry. last word, sex, sometimes. A lot of and he swallows meat though.‘ listen together and for a short and says, ‗The sex,‘ and she time, he, at least, is taken back. says, ‗I thought you‘d be Worried he‘s going to fuck things up, and anxious about When it‘s finished she says, pleased. I‘d hoped you‘d be the direction Colin is trying to ‗Well, where are the Bointons?‘ pleased.‘ And she suddenly take things, Jules says, ‗I and he tells her, ‗I don‘t know.‘ looks let down and tired and noticed the Bointons‘. He‘s She says, ‗I thought you‘d seen not a little sad and he puts all addressing this to Alice. this down to a mix of the them,‘ and he says, ‗They‘re ‗They‘re champing at the bit to probably here somewhere. cancer and his infidelity. tell us about the new lake-side They‘re usually at these things. ‗So …‘ he starts hesitantly, villa they‘ve got at Saint Jean So, what‘s the thing you ‗what is it?‘ expecting the exact Montclair. I think they have wanted to tell me that‘s so nature of the disease, but she photographs. Perhaps we pivotal on a point of view?‘ says, ‗Are you sure you want to should get it over with.‘ know?‘ and he says, ‗Of course She says, ‗Do you want to sit Alice says, ‗Sure,‘ and sips her down?‘ which immediately I don‘t want to know. And of champagne. ‗I‘ll follow you,‘ makes him think she‘s going to course I have to know. God!‘ but she‘s looking at Aime and tell him she‘s got cancer, but he She says, ‗It‘s a boy,‘ and for a wondering what it is Colin is doesn‘t articulate this, nor does moment he‘s confused and then doing. he sit down. He says, ‗No. he understands and says, ‗Good Jules touches her arm and they What is it?‘ and she‘s looking God! I thought you had cancer.‘ leave to find the Bointons. Alex at him and he can‘t help it and ‗No,‘ she says, ‗I‘m pregnant. I moves in on Aime and says, he says, ‗Are you sick?‘ and hoped you‘d be pleased. You ‗So, tell me about some of this she says, ‗Just mainly in the don‘t sound pleased.‘ meat you cook. Have you ever mornings‘. cooked a whole goat on a spit? He tries to think of what type of ‗I thought you were telling me you had an incurable I was in Zambia once …‘ and cancer would only make you malignancy.‘ while Jules and Alice are now sick in the morning, and he out of earshot, Jules turns thinks possibly stomach, which ‗Idiot,‘ she says. ‗No wonder around three times on their way is just one down in terribleness you were all so iffy and funny.‘ to find the Bointons because ‗Fucking hell,‘ he says, and she from pancreatic, and he Alex is a predatory fuck and he suddenly feels ill himself. asks, ‗So, now you know I doesn‘t trust him an inch. Thinking he‘d have picked up haven‘t got some terminal Jules leads Alice upstairs and illness, what do you think?‘ on the morning sickness hint the musical group begin ‗Great,‘ he says. ‗But I‘m just she says, ‗So, what do you playing an Antonio Jobim song, think?‘ and he says, ‗I don‘t getting over the cancer scare. I ―The Waters Of March,‖ which know what to think. Good might just get another drink. Do Jules and Aime had played you want something? Are you God.‘ incessantly while they were supposed to be drinking?‘ ‗Well, are you happy?‘ she falling properly in love in a ‗Just today,‘ she tells him. ‗I‘ve asks, and he says, ‗What do you small, third-floor apartment, already thrown away a whole mean? Good God no. Why with unpredictable hot water carton of Gitanes. It was would you think I‘d be happy?‘ and a funny smell in the little painful. Anyway, I‘m going to and suddenly the only laundry. The lyrics are just a have another champagne possibility was that, not only list of vaguely connected things because it‘s not every day you
get to tell your husband you‘re up the duff.‘ ‗And it‘s a boy? How do you know?‘ ‗I just know. It feels like a boy. A boy child. Get the drinks. But you are happy, Jules?‘ ‗Yes, yes. Of course I‘m happy. Certainly I‘m happy. I‘m happy you haven‘t come down with a cancer as well. In equal measures. The balance is sort of horizontal.‘ She smiles and says, ‗Get the drinks, there‘s a good daddy,‘ and he‘s suddenly unsure how he feels about being any kind of a daddy, let alone a good daddy. And as he goes off to find champagne he wonders how Aime will take the news, because he surely must tell her. He wonders, in a kind of half panic, if she‘ll still want him, now he‘s some kind of a father. A good daddy. If it‘ll feel different, fucking a father rather than a free man, which was how he had seen himself, being married but with no children. He felt he should tell her tonight. He finds another black and white maid and gets two champagnes and takes them back to where Alice is standing, moving a foot in time with the music. The band is playing the One Note Samba, the verse of which is plucked out on a single note, B flat in the original key. Jules is looking at Alice‘s stomach. He says to her, ‗How far along is it?‘ then he kisses her cheek because it‘s the least he can do, she having just told him he‘s got her up the duff. ‗Six weeks,‘ she tells him, smiling, and he says, ‗And when did you find out? Like, have it confirmed? What did you do, get one of those home testing kits? How reliable are they? What do you do, pee in a cup and then stick the thing in like a thermometer?‘ He‘s rambling a bit. He has things to
where Aime and Colin and take in. Alex are still talking. Alex is ‗I did it this evening. That‘s why I came. I couldn‘t wait till standing much too close to Aime and Jules tries to form you got home.‘ himself into a wedge between ‗God,‘ he says. ‗And you‘re them but it leaves his back to sure?‘ Colin so he has to abandon the ‗The things are pretty much tactic. There is an uneasy infallible these days. I‘m a desperation about him, focused hundred percent pregnant I‘m on a need to tell Aime about his afraid.‘ being a daddy, to see if it will change anything between them, ‗Well,‘ he shakes his head. because he has a nasty feeling ‗Sure beats cancer.‘ He holds in his stomach, around the area up his glass and they clink of his pancreas, that it will. So champagne flutes and drink. he has to know for sure and in a ‗To Rufus,‘ he says and she says, ‗Good lord no. He‘s not a flap of impatience, says to Aime, ‗Aime, there‘s a painting Rufus!‘ ‗No, of course not,‘ he says but in the next room I‘m sure would delight you. Do you having no immediate know Kris Klein?‘ alternative he says, ‗To the little lad, whoever he may be,‘ ‗The guy who does the and she says, ‗To the little lad‘. deserts?‘ she asks. Jules sees the Bointons, usually ‗Yeah. There‘s one of his of the found at these things with Gobi in the next room.‘ tonight being no exception. ‗Great,‘ she says, ‗I‘d love to They are across the room, see it. The Gobi is my favourite beside the small band platform, desert, next to the Patagonian.‘ and he says, ‗There they are. Alex says to Aime, ignoring The Bointons. Will we tell Jules, ‗I went to Patagonia them?‘ once. Vomited for four days ‗I don‘t know that I‘d want the solid. I‘ll join you, if that‘s Bointons to be the first to alright.‘ know,‘ she tells him, but he‘s Colin says, ‗I may as well tag already waved and they‘ve seen along. I flew over the Libyan him and are beginning to make desert once, on the way to their way over, all smiles and Cairo,‘ and the four of them photos of their new place in saunter off into the next room Saint Jean Montclair secreted where there actually is a Kris about themselves waiting for the – ―Oh, and look what I‘ve found‖ – ‗I‘m pregnant. I hoped to herald their you‘d be pleased. You appearance. don‘t sound pleased.‘ She sighs, just a small one, because ...‗I thought you were tellthere‘s surely more ing me you had an incurto be said between them about the new able malignancy.‘ thing, but she‘s sweet and polite Klein featuring the Gobi on the when they arrive, until Jules wall, which Aime finds a relief puts his arm around her waist and says, ‗Alice is up the duff. as she half suspected he was making it up, which would To me,‘ he adds, smiling, and have been awkward and a little the oohs and ahs are suddenly gushing and he downs his drink revealing. The painting is raggedly in a swallow and wiggles his empty glass at Alice to indicate divided in two across the horizontal, the lower half being he's going for a refill, as he slips away with a quick smile in mainly a flat, washed out yellow and the top a powder the direction of the Bointons blue and it holds their attention who are still in mid gush. for all of ten seconds, after He goes downstairs and back to
which Jules says to Aime, ‗Look, I wonder if I can have a word,‘ and Aime says, ‗Sure,‘ and he says to Alex and Colin, ‗Won‘t be a second,‘ and Colin says, ‗Oh, you two!‘ Jules steers Aime away and finds a room which is fitted out to be a kind of library that has bookcases high enough to require a wooden ladder on wheels to reach. There are three other couples, talking separately, and he leads her to a corner and she says, ‗My God, that Alex is a sleaze. Fucking hell. And Colin … that man could bore the leg off an elephant!‘ Jules says, ‗Listen,‘ and Aime says, ‗Yes?‘ There‘s a tray of drinks on a table in the middle of the room and he says, ‗Hang on,‘ and goes and gets two champagnes and hands one to her and says, ‗Um, it‘s just that Alice is pregnant‘. ‗Pregnant,‘ she says. ‗When?‘ ‗Now,‘ he tells her. ‗No, idiot, when did she get pregnant,‘ and he says, ‗About six weeks ago I think. She got a tester thing. Peed in a cup and stuck the thing in like a thermometer. The mercury went all the way up to pregnant.‘ ‗Huh,‘ she says. ‗So did mine,‘ and she catches his eyes with hers and won‘t let them go, so he has to say, ‗What do you mean?‘ She says, ‗My mercury went all the way up to pregnant as well,‘ and he‘s achieving a little familiarity with this sort of thing now and says, ‗Right. They‘re pretty reliable these days I believe, those things.‘ She says, ‗I wasn‘t going to say anything this soon. There‘s a lot to consider. But …‘ ‗Is it …‘ he starts, but can‘t finish the sentence because he wants to make sure it‘s his child she‘s talking about before they get any deeper into the thing and can‘t see a way of phrasing it that won‘t appear a major affront. She says, ‗Is it what? Is it yours
do you mean?‘ and he nods and she says, ‗I was getting to that,‘ and she downs her champagne in one swallow and holds out her glass to indicate she‘d like another. Cloaked now by his new professionalism in this area, he says, ‗Should you be drinking at this juncture?‘ and she says, ‗We‘ll get to that too,‘ and wiggles her glass and he takes it and finishes his and gets two more from the table in the centre of the room. Handing her a glass he says, ‗So?‘ ‗So,‘ she says. ‗Are you familiar with a Nigerian gymnast named Abayomi Osarobo?‘ ‗No,‘ he replies, and she says, ‗Well, I am.‘ ‗Which means?‘ he asks, but he knows what it means. She has slept with, or was sleeping with, or is even now sleeping with the Nigerian gymnast, Abayomi Osarobo. ‗Which means,‘ she says, ‗that‘s why I‘m being so upfront. If I decide to have the thing it‘ll be obvious the father‘s not white. I mean, you‘d see that it couldn‘t be yours. She won‘t be the whitest kid in the nursery.‘ ‗A Nigerian,‘ he says, and she says, ‗It just happened the once. Not that that matters or makes any difference. But it was just a one time thing. More of a mistake than anything else.‘ ‗Is he Olympic standard?‘ he asks, and she says, ‗Why on God‘s earth would that matter?‘ and he says, ‗Because I‘d find it just that much more humiliating. It‘s bad enough to be cuckolded by a gymnast, but if the idiot‘s an Olympic hopeful as well it‘s like a twist of the knife.‘ ‗He‘s not an idiot,‘ she tells him. ‗He has a degree in biochemistry.‘ ‗I‘ve got three science degrees and I‘m an idiot,‘ he tells her. ‗Well, he‘s not an idiot.‘ ‗So, do you still see him?‘ ‗No, he‘s back in Nigeria I think.‘
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the-maid‘. He found five in More perhaps. I can‘t seem to ‗Does he know?‘ total, managing to engage two recall the periodic table. Oh ‗No.‘ in mild conversation and well,‘ and he collapses inwards ‗So, I don‘t suppose it matters alienating another by spilling into silence, five minutes later at all that Alice is pregnant champagne on her and staring saying, ‗Hey, you‘re pregnant. then,‘ he tells her and she says, at her breasts in an Absolutely well done. What do ‗Of course not,‘ but it‘s no you think about Copernicus for inappropriate manner. longer the relief it once would a name?‘ Alice says, ‗You‘re quite have been. drunk. That was quick,‘ and he ‗It wouldn‘t be my first choice,‘ He says, ‗How do you know says, ‗Celebrating. Had a bit of she tells him, and he agrees, it‘s a she? Is that a woman news. Thank the good Lord for saying, ‗Mine either, actually‘. thing?‘ and she says, ‗I had an alcohol. Where are the They are silent again, until he ultrasound,‘ and in his mind Bointons?‘ says, ‗So, thirty weeks to go?‘ he‘s like a scatter gun, firing Alice points across the room and she asks him, ‗Are you off boys and girls in all and he sees the Bointons really happy about it?‘ and he directions. flipping through a hefty wad of says, ‗Yes, I really am, I think‘. He finishes his drink and gets photographs for an older couple two more, drinking one down who are saying, ‗Oh,‘ on the way back, then the other, periodically, appearing for all and he goes back and gets the He has no lectures the next the world enthralled. last two on the tray. He says, ‗Do you know, I think morning and sleeps in and When he‘s beside her again and Alice is gone when he gets up. I‘ve been through every room has put her glass on He‘s looking for an a tread of the old pair of slippers he A little later, after he‘s had wooden ladder on hasn‘t worn for a wheels, he finds coffee, there‘s a nagging at the while. They‘ve himself suddenly bubbled up as back of his mind and he goes stinging and he something necessary says, ‗So, you‘re for the comfort of his back to the bedroom and gets the breeding little black hangover and as he‘s gym shoe and takes it into his bio-chemists now rummaging on hands then?‘ knees towards the study and turns on his computer. and back of the bedroom ‗Fucking hell, closet, he finds a Jules,‘ she says. ‗You really in this house and I haven‘t seen single gym shoe. It‘s a stylish can be an insensitive bastard,‘ a single TV set. Actually, I model and is all buffed and and he says, ‗I‘m sorry,‘ and think I may need to go home. shiny like an almost completely grabs her upper arm and she They have no food here, that I new shoe and he picks it up and shrugs him away. Now, there‘s could see. And I think I‘ve turns it over, then looks for its a bubbling of unusual looked in every room. I‘ll just mate but there‘s no mate there. hormones forming in some ask this black and white.‘ And In the process he finds his dangerous area inside Aime and Jules asks a passing skimpyslippers and he brings the three for an instant she feels tears building, but the thing twists at skirted maid where the food is items to the bed and sits down. the last moment into some form and she tells him it should start After putting on his slippers of secretion-based rabidity and coming out in half an hour and and noticing they do nothing he tells the maid it was unlikely whatsoever for his hangover, he with her face all pulled into an he could last that long and he inspects the gym shoe. It has an almost-teary grimace she says, might just go home now and emblem on the side, two wide, ‗God, imagine having a child she smiles and moves on and vertical green stripes separated with you!‘ and she walks off to Jules says to Alice, ‗I should by a wide white stripe and he‘s be in some other section of the have grabbed a drink‘. prompted to believe it may be a party where he isn‘t, so he flag. He drops the shoe and lays drinks her champagne and goes himself back on the bed as a off to find another black and little wave of nausea washes white maid. In the car, on the way home, over him and a bubble of gas By the time he‘s back beside Alice driving because Jules is rises in his throat until he Alice he‘s approaching fullnow actually fully-blown belches, and it smells and tastes blown drunkenness, having drunk, he says, ‗My head feels like stale, flat champagne. played a game he‘s recently like I may have slaughtered up invented which he calls ‗findto two hundred million cells.
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A little later, after he‘s had coffee, there‘s a nagging at the back of his mind and he goes back to the bedroom and gets the gym shoe and takes it into his study and turns on his computer. Into an internet search engine he types, ‗flags of the world‘ and clicks the first result. They are all there, alphabetically sorted, and he scrolls slowly down looking for two green stripes separated by a white. He hits the Ns and finds Nicaragua, blue and white horizontal stripes with central logo, Niger, orange white and green horizontal stripes with orange sun logo, and Nigeria, green stripe white stripe green stripe. He shakes his head and a totally preposterous idea goes through him and buzzes around and buzzes around and the more it buzzes the more thoroughly entrenched it becomes until his whole consciousness is consumed by the idea of a Nigerian gym shoe being in a closet in his bedroom and the one possibility out of the many, many others, none of which can match in scale or audacity the main possibility that‘s now thumping away in there, niggling and juggling and prodding and rubbing so nothing else in the entire world can get the merest of a look-in. His whole world is now encased in, and inextricably connected to, this Nigerian gym shoe, sitting on his desk and, inasmuch as an inanimate object like a shoe can actually taunt, it is in every nuanced possibility of the word, taunting. Paris Portingale Mt Victoria
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