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PUZZLE ZONE

ACROSS 1. Tycoons 5. ... & papa 7. Girl’s plaything 8. Fluid losses 9. Groaned 12. Funeral vehicles 15. Recently amended 19. Stinging insect

21. Ready to explode 22. Manufactured 23. Actor, ... Nolte 24. Re-evaluate

DOWN 1. Computer phone links 2. Synthetic fabric 3. Laid ceramic squares 4. Document fastener 5. More miserly 6. Valuable possessions 10. Corrosive substance 11. Let out (shriek)

12. Owned 13. Lowest female voice 14. Imminently 15. Irregular 16. Assail 17. Weirder 18. Says 19. ‘Laughing’ scavenger 20. Elevated walkways

Puzzles supplied by Lovatts Publications Pty Ltd www.lovattspuzzles.com See page 46 for solutions.

THE MEANING OF EXISTENCE... AND OTHER SHORT STORIES

The Bee Gee Paralysis Paradox By Stuart McCullough I WAS caught off guard. Or, at least, I hope I was; because little else could excuse my hopelessly inadequate response. In retrospect, the warning signs were all there – it was a party, there was a band and there was both a dance floor and a pretty significant expectation that guests would use it. The band even went so far as to play music of the danceable variety as opposed to – say – Nick Cave or Captain Beefheart covers. To borrow the words of the brothers Gibb; ‘You should be dancing, yeah (shang-anang!)’. I ought to have known better. Everything had been going so well up to that point. My wife and I had been invited to a party our neighbours were throwing and, in a twist, we’d actually turned up. There were drinks, nibbles and people. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the evening had all the makings of a very successful event. At a certain point, some folks picked up musical instruments, began to play them and, amazingly, were playing the same song. I believe this type of synchronized approach to making music is often referred to as a ‘band’. They were very good. We weren’t the only ones enjoying their work. Other people were nodding, cheering and generally encouraging them; willing them to scale ever-greater musical heights. This, of course, is at complete odds with my own experience making music; where the world at large unites in begging me to stop. Perhaps this accounts for just how deeply surprised I was – it never occurred to me that such support was possible. My mouth was agape. This proved useful when, intermittently, I stuffed an olive or a pretzel in there but otherwise made me look more like the slack-jawed hillbilly I really am. I admit, my toes were tapping but, otherwise, I was completely immobile. It was as though someone had nailed my feet to the floor, not with a

regular run of the mill hammer, but a tradesman quality hydraulic nail gun that can send titanium nails inches deep into granite. If it’d been MC Hammer, I would have been all right. I was also holding a drink, which I pretty much consider to be the ultimate insurance policy against having to do anything active. Clutching a beverage is the definitive excuse against having to do something that may pose a threat to your drink. A child asks you to play a game? Only once I’ve finished my cup of tea. A friend asks you to run a half-marathon? No thanks, I’m half way through a glass of orange juice and I really want to savour the experience. It’s surprising how useful it is to have a drink nearby at all times. There are, however, limits.

In a paper, rock, scissors universe, your spouse trumps pretty much everything. Especially a beverage. When my wife turned to me and asked if I wanted to dance, what I should have said was ‘but of course!’ Instead, I feebly pointed to my drink as though I was handcuffed to it, unable to rest it even for a moment, lest its safety should be compromised. It was completely ineffectual and I was in some serious trouble. Suddenly, my entire dancing life flashed before my eyes. Let me say that my people are not a dancing people. There was no dancing in our house as we grew up. Truth is, we struggle to clap in time. The only dancing that ever occurred was really for comedic effect. My father would do something that loosely resembled dancing when

listening to his all time favourite song – ‘Sink the Bismarck’. He’d lift his fists up and down as though pumping water from a sinking boat which, given the song, may well have been appropriate. Then there was my brother’s all-too brief career as a hip-hop dancer. After a few lessons at the Tyabb Town Hall with an instructor named ‘Maggot’ (which I deeply suspect was his real name), he briefly considered a career as a rap dancer. Ultimately, though, it’s tough going to do a backspin on gravel, even with a layer of high-quality cardboard on top. My own dancing career is far less storied than that of either my father or brother. Most of the time, I am painfully aware of my limitations as a dancer. They are, put simply, profound. However, under just the right circumstances, I can be persuaded to get, if not on the good foot, then on the not quite so good foot and shake my groove thing. Sadly, the right circumstance generally involves a skin-full of something other than lemon squash. I appreciate that this is less than ideal. I should have been prepared. In the instant I was asked, I ought to have put my drink to the side and followed her out to the dance floor, disco pistols at the ready. It makes me wonder what I’m afraid of. Embarrassment? If I perform the ‘Sink the Bismarck’ or attempt a backspin, maybe, but otherwise there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Inadequacy? I have no plans to turn professional, so not being good enough isn’t a problem. Then what? Next time I’ll do better. There’ll be no hesitation. No resistance. No turning back. I’ll move like Jagger, albeit the post-heart surgery version. On this occasion, however, I couldn’t quite bring myself to dance. I was only saved when the band announced that, for the rest of the evening, they’d be playing an assortment of Nick Cave and Captain Beefheart covers. stuart@stuartmccullough.com Mornington News 16 July 2019

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Profile for Mornington Peninsula News Group

16 July 2019  

Mornington News 16 July 2019

16 July 2019  

Mornington News 16 July 2019

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