The Ampersand, Issue Two May 2021

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The Ampersand

Short, Sharp & Sweet Stories

Edition 2 - May 2021

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& The Ampersand Welcome to the second edition of The Ampersand, the first issue was incredibly well recieved with people seeking out the magazine format as well as viewing it online, with over 5000 reads in the first 2 weeks of release. Inspired by this success we will contuine to publish monthly and have secured a distrubution system to get the magazine to a wider audience. Whether you read it on beach, ferry or during your lunch break, our stories will transport you into another world. Get involved: Writers can submit stories between 500-750 words. Stories can be about anything, fiction and non fiction, from first time writers to professionals, everyone is welcome to submit. Story deadline is 10th of each month. Selected authors recieve a $250 publication fee. Advertisers: Help make The Ampersand possible: creatives need our support, but most of all we need creatives. The Ampersand is a A5 magazine, which fits perfectly into a bag, brief case or pocket. It is easy to share, carrying your advertising further. Your message will be maximized, as advertising is restricted to only 10/32 pages, with 16 pages of stories. Distribution: 5,000 printed copies, distributed throughout the Mornington Peninsula’s key tourist locations and hotels in Melbourne. An online version which includes writer’s profiles is shared through our extensive networks, direct email and social media. Free design service available, just give us your logos, images and copy. Who are we? The Ampersand is published by djprojects, a family run multi faceted arts business. Basically, we are artists who like to see good things happen. Things like & Gallery Australia, & Fabrication, & Sculpture, & Curation and now The Ampersand. Submissions, advertising and enquires contact Stephen: 0417 324 795 Writers bios and previous issues can be found on Images featured throughout this edition are by Phillip George, from his Drawing in Water exhibition courtesy of the artist and & Gallery Australia, Sorrento. for a full catalogue.

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Battered Beer Naomi Robinson Come and get just one last whiff of the thwarted, broken and unrealised dreams of an era before it’s too late! Spilt and fallen beers have been the flavour of moist red carpets lining our pub floors across the country for over the past century. But are these manky yet majestic pubs becoming a squelched piece of our culture? Sliding away like a wet cold beer on a bar void of a runner. familiar yet unidentifiable aroma of beer, last night’s puke, tradies sweat and a Sunday spit roast would drift through the open French doors as we skipped along the creaking wooden verandah under the stinkin hot tin roof. But these days hipster coffee shops seem to be taking their place. Sprouting up in dark mouldy alley-ways everywhere, like opportunistic fungi spreading its spores via invisible winds. Even in small country towns they are now becoming more prolific than smashed avocado on charcoal sourdough served by the platefuls in Fitzroy on a Sunday morning. Hotels and pubs once our Father’s refuge, now replaced by a somewhat fresher, more aromatic scent of freshly roasted single origin Ethiopian coffee beans. Offering a brief albeit necessary respite from the now very busy

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world outside, all from the comfort of sinky, second-hand retro lounge chairs, or grandma’s lavender induced sun-room relics. Are these old pubs a part of our culture, history and heritage, hence should be defined as such? Are they worth a second look? The fond memories of being perched high on stools, crunching down Smith’s salt and vinegar chips and hooking into free bowls of peanuts accessible for fingers of ALL sorts to enjoy. Whilst Dad would be busy wetting his whiskers at the bar, making bets on sure things, and speaking to men about dogs that never did seem to arrive. We’d have free reign of the joint, play the same 70’s song (“Lollipop, Lollipop, O lalala”) on the juke box repeatedly until the bar flies went raving mad! Or were they already?? We’d know that for the next four to eight something hours this adult’s (or Fathers) paradise would be ours too. And just when we thought it was time to leave, Dad would coerce us to be ‘quiet and good’ for just a little bit longer with another round of fire engines or lemon squashes, depending on our sugar high of preference. Enough time for him to put that red-hot tip on from Uncle Steve; Race 4 Doomben. Whatever that meant! And as if decorated by a Melbourne hipster himself the walls would be laden in random and eclectic

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memorabilia. I’m sure only the publican and his wife could understand. The seemingly disdainful creases entrenched in the faces of the often-plump publican suggests that most of these hotels have been passed down through generations. Regardless of any reluctance on the publican’s behalf, yet somehow still a cherished heirloom. So, do these hotels and pubs deserve societies respect and preservation? Are we allowing something valuable to pass us by? Like that last round of drinks before closing? Or is it simply too late? Have we already succumbed to the decadent, moreish and hypnotic cafe culture? Our eye’s and judgments glazed over by the promise of a new day’s grind and the reliability of a daily caffine hit!

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Forgiven Buck Stone They had been best mates since school days. For sixty plus years they had been inseparable. And now, suddenly, it was over. His mate had been sick for a month. The doctor said it was nothing serious and that he should make a full recovery. Now, inexplicably, he was dead. He was devastated. The fact that his friend had died peacefully in his sleep was no consolation because two days earlier they had quarrelled, something they almost never did, and there had been no opportunity to set things right. He sat on the veranda, a glass of red in his hand and watched the sun go down. Tonight the sunset was one of the best. The clouds were an extraordinary mixture of shapes and sizes in perfect balance. He watched, idly at first, and then with ever increasing focus and emotion as the sun sank, slowly, majestically, below the horizon.

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The palest pinks appeared and with each passing minute they, seamlessly, silently, even relentlessly, moved up the cloud mass, darkening as they went. Through every shade of pink to red and crimson to orange. And in the folds lavender appeared and then mauve through all its shades to purple. He was absorbed by the sweeping beauty of the magnificent vista before him. All at once a particular shape caught his eye. He stared at it intently. Was that a familiar face or just his imagination? He looked again, hard, but it was gone. He poured himself another glass of red and pondered the significance, if any, of the face in the clouds until darkness swallowed up the lingering fragments of the sunset and the sky became black. Melancholia descended on him. With a sigh he rose to his feet and as he did so he looked, one last time, to the heavens just in time to see a shooting star streak across the sky. He watched it until it burnt itself out. As it did so his mood lightened and he turned and entered the house convinced he had been forgiven.

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75 Years


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N CE 1946

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Looking Ahead Julie Richards What’s it like being dead? Physically, it involves a lot of lying about on your back, your mouth won’t stay closed and your limbs are all rag-doll and won’t cooperate, but that’s fine because nobody’s expecting anything different. So, no pressure to perform – ever. And that’s why Hadley didn’t mind being dead. He saw it as an opportunity to relax – well, just for a little while maybe. In life, Hadley had always been a doer so he knew that for someone like him, being dead might have some serious drawbacks. While Hadley had always hoped there’d be an afterlife, he didn’t want to do the harps and angels thing or the banging on walls in response to seances thing because that wasn’t quite him. Instead, Hadley donated his body to science. Hadley thought it would make death more interesting, particularly as you spend a long time doing it. But Hadley was not without altruistic intent. He was after all a gifted and promising surgeon when, as inconvenience would have it, he’d died relatively young when an undiagnosed brain aneurysm suddenly went pop! It was at least a painless, clean and quick way to shrug off the mortal coil and as Hadley soon

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discovered, when you die intact, interesting opportunities abound. The scientists harvested Hadley’s cells, modified their DNA and then re-injected them into people to help repopulate their damaged organs. They also suctioned his subcutaneous tissue to beef up butts and boobs. Hadley had always looked forward to spending time in someone else’s underwear, but was a tad disappointed when he realised that he was just padding for someone’s sagging nether regions, or plumping up parts recently succumbed to post-menopausal shrinkage. The scientists found Hadley’s DNA was so useful, they decided to freeze it for posterity. Eventually, Hadley had contributed so much of himself to science that all that physically remained of him was his head, and when the medical drape was removed on this occasion, Hadley found himself perched on a bench in a genetics training lab. That first session focused on facial features, so Hadley got a nose job – not a bad one either according to the assessor. But Hadley was somewhat disconcerted by the exercise. It wasn’t actually his nose. It was a glob of flesh, seeded from someone else’s stem cells, which had been implanted in his facial tissue – where his own perfectly good nose had once resided – and nurtured until it emerged from his flesh as a fully-formed, functioning olfactory appendage. Despite feeling a little weird about

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it, Hadley still marvelled at humanity’s progress and felt proud that he had been able to assist. The next session was a demonstration by a surgeon with an exceptional gift for neurology. According to others in the room, this surgeon’s gift had been ‘bestowed’ upon him – literally. He was ‘born’ in a Petri dish from a cluster of farmed frozen cells and with some deft gene editing – a sort of DNA cut-and-paste – he’d been cultivated for the world in much the same way a horticulturalist might cultivate a new species of rose.

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Hadley was excited to be his subject for the demonstration. From under the drape, Hadley could hear the clatter of instruments and the muffled hubbub of the gathering audience. The excitement was palpable. The drape lifted, revealing Hadley’s face. The surgeon clapped his palm to his mouth as if to stifle a cry. As for Hadley, it was like looking into a mirror because despite Hadley’s new nose, it was obvious that he and the surgeon were more than just alike.

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Pond Triona Diviney You move house; the rent two suburbs north is cheaper, the air sweeter. You live between a pensioner with growling terriers and a couple who practice permaculture gardening. You don’t catch their names. You google ‘how to remove grease stains from laminate’, then scrub the shelves in the pantry. You share pictures of the grime and dirt with Mark, the letting agent. Your three-year-old boy discovers the pond. You overlooked at inspection, too preoccupied by the competition to notice it. Exotic foliage masks the water, white flowers pepper the waxy leaves. You research ‘pond drownings’ when the baby wakes at 3am, then down coffee until dawn. You consider emailing Mark ‘re: safety issues’. He seemed nice, young kids of his own. You re-read your draft and worry about the tone. You’ve already complained about the cleanliness of the house. You post on the community group ‘We love D’Ville’, seeking recommendations. The blond from number thirty-four replies with her gardener’s number. Jed texts ‘no worries’, dodges a quote with a promise to sort it next week. You

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distract the boy for five more days and fret when he deposits Lego in the pond. You encourage screen time. You come home to a drained cavity. The base sinks at a fortyfive-degree angle, thigh deep on Jed. Your jaw hangs loose as you grasp what lay beneath the twisted greenery. You jolt from your daze when he asks you for $350. ‘Cash’. He flicks dirt from his fingernails. ‘That includes the sand.’ You console yourself that safety is priceless. You like the dry pond, the hole filled with sand and wood chip. You buy succulents and arrange them in neat circles in the mulch. It rains. The plants become flotsam. You gag at the smell of soggy wood chip as you drain the pond with a bowl, one tiny scoop at a time. It rains again. You possess a $350 sludge pit. You rebuke your boy for sieving the water with splayed fingers. You hover over him while you google ‘hacks to make children listen.’ A Buzzfeed quiz verifies you have become a helicopter parent. You scratch new bites; your ankles are lumpy and knuckles swollen. You search ‘how to kill mosquito larvae with household products.’ You dump litres of apple cider vinegar into the pond.

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The succulents die and the pests thrive. You resolve to conceal your modifications at the first rental inspection. You confess your folly as Mark crosses the threshold, his cologne filching your intention. Your brain chastises your mouth and freezes your face in a nervous rictus. You answer his sharp emails apologetically and make dizzy jokes about the mosquitos. He warns you to restore the pond upon vacating, reminds you of the lease term. You notice a knocking sound at dusk. You linger near your window and regard the frog lazying on the ponds edge. You rub calamine lotion on your bites as he stretches his full belly. Your gardening neighbours enquire about your Striped Marsh Frog, thrilled you enticed one into the street. They gift you a book on native amphibians. You name your frog Tim. You water the pond on thirty-seven-degree days. You shade his home with the umbrella. You upcycle the old baby gates, barricading the children out. Tadpoles litter the water. You wonder if they will flourish in their environment. You don’t google an answer. You water. You shade. You wait.

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Conversation with Phillip George Julie: Phillip, how long have you been creating art? Phillip: I have been involved in some way with art practice all my life. I was encouraged into drawing and painting at around 5 years of age by my mother. Which was probably her way of distracting me away from tormenting or fighting with the neighbourhood kids . These were the days when kids played outside from dawn to dusk, climbed trees, fell out of trees and generally explored and roamed far and wide. When I was eight my aunty taught me to hand colour photographs, my aunty and uncle had a photographic business. My aunty was the hand-colourist, in the days before wide spread colour photographs were cheaply available. At 17 I left school to attend the National Art school. Julie: How has your Egyptian/ Greek/ Australian heritage influenced your work? Phillip: My father was born in Alexandria in Egypt ( Egyptian Greek) and my mother was born in Australia to Greek parents. I have had a very long term interest in Greece and all points East. I started travelling and making work in Greece and Asia Minor (Turkey) from 1979. My interest accelerated during the

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late 1980’s but seriously intensified post 2001, after the attack on the world trade centre in New York. So from 2001 until the present I have consistently traveled to significant sites from Athens to Alexandria to Persepolis and all points in-between. Several years ago I had a DNA test which located my blood line to exactly into the same regions I had been working & traveling into. My heritage has accompanied much of my research and art production taking the above small examples of significant sites, I have been very interested in visiting historically multilayered layered spaces. Julie: You obviously have an affinity with the sea/water, can you tell us about that connection? Phillip: Almost always I have lived in Bondi so I have grow up next to and in the ocean, over time I have come to realise the impact the sea has had on me and my work. The ocean as landscape I find fascinating, it’s a space that is alway in flux, wind, tide swell direction and pulse, the only constant is change. The connection is yes physical and operates metaphysically and perhaps at the subconscious level too. Over the past 10 years and highlighted with this exhibition and the video work which is underway in Portugal, I am paying close conscious attention to the sea as metaphor, for its metaphysical, physical geo-political and cultural implications.

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Julie: And finally, what is your favourite work of art by another artist? Phillip: Impossible to just pick one artist, the appreciation of a particular artist changes over time. At art school I enjoyed the work of Robert Rauschenberg someone that pushed our understanding of what painting could be, someone that moved across multiple disciplines, someone that challenged categorisation that I find significant on many levels. But Christo and Jean-Claude practise is astounding, working within a landscape tradition they exploded our appreciation of were and how art is made. Even to some extend turning their excruciating and prolonged negotiations and extensive planing into an art from. In the end what was left of their works were, the photographic, as evidence of what happened in the landscape they invented. The one standout artist over many, many years for me has been Frank Zappa his practice was impossible to categorise - songwriter, guitarist, modernist, dadaist, performance artist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, satirist, film-maker, bandleader and political activist. He created his own unique creative space. Phillip George, Drawing in Water exhibition is on at & Gallery Australia 15 April - 10 May 2021 163 Ocean Beach Road, Sorrento, Victoria for catalogue

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Sunset Cruise Alison Knight Shona always did go overboard. Dinner parties, birthdays, even funerals—she liked to sprinkle her magic on every occasion. Don’t get me wrong: Shona’s events were monumental, unforgettable. Each bore her individual stamp, from the elaborate costumes and props to the themed refreshments. But in the wake of the Unprecedented Times, Shona’s propensity for excess intensified. Admittedly, the world had turned upside-down, but Shona began to embrace crackpot theories aired by anti-vaxxers, flat earthers, alien abductees and the like. In hindsight, I should have been more wary when she booked a ‘Sunset Cruise: a romantic experience for two’ to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The ruffled sleeves, the eye-patch I could endure. But the peg-leg scored deep grooves in my skin as I hobbled to the landing-stage. Shona, however, looked ravishing in her pirate costume. Her tricorn hat sat at a jaunty angle; the long slimline jacket accentuated her curvaceous figure; and I’ve always had a thing for knee-length leather boots. She sliced her cutlass through the air,

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crying ‘Arrr me hearties!’ and tipped me a delicious wink. I wondered if there’d be hammocks on board. My heart sank when a small bog-standard cruise boat drew up at the jetty, ‘The Golden Staff’ painted inexpertly over the original name. With a grinding of gears, a gangplank suddenly juddered from the deck. Shona laughed. ‘Don’t worry, Jack. The boat’s completely automated.’ A mechanical parrot glued to a post squawked ‘Pieces of eight!’ as we boarded. She led me to the bow of the boat where we found a picnic hamper disguised as a treasure chest. Two striped deckchairs sat around a wrought iron table bearing two glasses and a bottle of rum. As ‘The Golden Staff’ edged away from the jetty, a pre-recorded announcement about personal flotation devices crackled through the speakers. Shona poured me a tot of rum. ‘Happy Anniversary, darling,’ she purred. We chinked glasses and leant over the railings, a playful breeze teasing Shona’s hair. Nestled together, I almost forgot the discomfort of my peg-leg as we watched the land recede into the distance and the sun melt into the eastern horizon.

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Somewhere, a ship’s bell tolled three times, deep, sonorous, mournful. While the boat carved through the waves, we gorged on delectable seafood canapés, washed down with copious quantities of rum. By now, Shona was doing her ‘Titanic’ thing at the prow. I lurched across the deck to join her. Clearly I was even drunker than I’d imagined. The sea had not only flattened out but now tilted sharply downwards. An eerie yellow glow shimmered above the sharp black line that marked the nearby eastern horizon. The boat shuddered to a stop. Over the rails, a void. ‘Whassat?’ ‘The edge of the world.’ The boat began to see-saw. I switched into reverse. ‘Shona!’ The boat groaned, tilted dangerously. ‘You believe me now?’ ‘Yes! Step back, Shona!’ But she didn’t. As her feet flew over the edge, she uttered her final words. ‘I’m flying, Jack!’

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Three Romany Rzechowicz “Three o’clock is the best time, dontcha reckon?” The piece of gum wrapped itself around her finger like it was magnetic: a cobweb trained by years of practice to fall straight into place. The mother smiled, jiggled the chattering child in its pram. “I kind of like ten, to be honest. One’s at school and the other’s usually napping.” Her companion tugged the gum off with her teeth and recommenced chomping as she pondered this. “Nah. It’s gotta be three… Three’s when the bell rings and we’re outta this place like bats outta hell. Or cats outta a bag in the river. Or pus outta a really, really ripe z- ” “I get your point,” said the mother, adjusting herself a little to rest on the edge of the red-bricked school sign. For a moment the only sounds were breathing, the child’s chattering and a far-off music class. Tortured recorders drifting on the autumnal air. “So, do you have a husband, then?” The gum extracted itself from her lips and began to wrap itself around her finger again. “I am married, yes.”

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“Huh. I’m never going to get married. Me and my girlfriend,” she paused for emphasis then, just to be sure, said it again. “Me and my girlfriend, we’re not going to do all that flowery stuff with rings ‘n shit.” “You know, you could –“ “Nah, she’s, like, not just my friend who’s a girl. She’s properly my girlfriend, not a dude. You’ll get to see her in a couple of minutes, when the bell goes.” “Is she one of the teachers here?” The companion hoiked a bit as she reclaimed the gum from where she’d nearly swallowed it. “Hell, nah! How old do you think I am?!” Only teenage girls ask people to guess their age. And this friendly, if charmingly uncouth, school pickup companion was at least sixty. A hot sixty. A sixty in skin-tight stonewash denim, punk band t-shirt and a rocking pixie-cut. But definitely sixty. “C’mon, guess!” she urged the mother, smacking the gum between her teeth as she curled her shoulders and eased her hands into the jean pockets. Yet somehow the mother knew that sixty was definitely not the right answer and found herself paralytically swamped in an

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existential dilemma: how far off should she pick? Should she play along with the teenage persona, or say something flattering but a little closer to reality. Say, forty?

of 18-year-olds. “Yeah, she’s probably in detention again. Got a spare ciggie?” she bailed up another passing parent, who held out a packet and a lighter.

“Umm… eighteen?”

The mother thought about suggesting she get a mobile phone, then thought better of it. A mobile wouldn’t work in the era she was inhabiting.

“Almost – I’m nineteen, tho my girl is eighteen, so I’ll give it to you this time. Hey, can I bum a smoke?” The mother’s apology was cut short by a rampaging horde of small people clustering around the waiting parental ankles. There were no senior students to be seen.

“Have a lovely afternoon with your girlfriend.” She offered as she turned the pram to leave. The response came from within a cloud of smoke: “Thanks, yeah, I will.”

In fact, she didn’t think the school even had senior students. Her companion didn’t seem perturbed at the lack

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& gallery Peter


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Peter Gardiner Paintings of Fire and Water 13 May - 7 June

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Two Tomorrow Steven Paulsen Tomorrow my granddaughter Elspie will be two years old. I have been responsible for her since the day she came home. And, if I do say so myself, she has made these last two years a delight. I can thank my boy Kester for that. I wept the night he told me he had made Grade Three. He’s a good boy, Kester; a good husband to Minella, a good father to Elspie, and a good son to me. His mother would have been proud. Without his promotion this time with Elspie would have been impossible. Things are getting tougher and tougher all the time. Grade Fours and below aren’t even allowed a child any more, and only Grade Ones are allowed two. People say Elspie looks a bit like me for a girl, she has my eyes. But she has soft red hair and flawless skin just like her mother. Minella would have liked to look after Elspie, but she had to return to her job at Ad Central two weeks after Elspie was born -- she had no choice. Elspie has been my girl ever since. It was either me or the Ad Central creche. So I have been extremely fortunate, because I know her best. Better even than her father or mother. She

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won’t ever be like this again for them or anyone. Never ever. When she’s ten or eleven, or even fourteen or fifteen, they probably won’t remember how she says, “I luth oo,” instead of, “I love you.” Or the way she sits in front of the mirror kissing and pulling faces at her reflection. But I will -- for me she will always be like this. The satisfied little sounds she made as a baby when I fed her her formula, and the way she grasped my thumb are my memories. The way she would often fall asleep in my arms. Her sighs of contentment and gratitude when I cuddled her. The little tears that streamed down her face if she hurt herself, and the way she looked up at me when I comforted her distress.

I’ll remember her gleefully splashing her hands in the bath, her blue eyes bright, her little fat stomach wobbling with the force of her cackle. Her first steps were to me. I saw her expression of determination as she pulled herself to her feet on a chair leg change to one of triumph and glee as she took those wobbly steps into my waiting arms. Pride almost burst my chest the day she learnt to say “Gramp.” She walked around and around the room giggling, repeating it time and again. My face hurt I smiled so much. And how could I forget the way she tugs at my trouser leg, saying,

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“cuh, cuh,” when she wants a cuddle? Tomorrow Elspie will be two. So tomorrow it’s mandatory for one of us to report to the Termination Centre, because our overlap expires and the two-generation law comes into effect. Now Elspie will have to go to the Ad Central creche, while I go to the other place... I’ve said goodbye to Kester and Minella. I’m fortunate I have their trust because they’re allowing me to take Elspie to the creche on my way to the Centre.

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Linda Brucesmith Once upon a time, before the advent of laser eye surgery, I was short-sighted. In restaurants, I couldn’t read chalkboard menus so I listened carefully, then chose from other people’s orders. When my boyfriend took me to the drive-in I missed the detail because I was too self-conscious to wear my glasses. Another former partner reminded me recently that I used to ask him who was who, at parties. Note to my long-ago self: “Dear Linda. Wear your glasses.” At uni – anywhere I was likely to meet someone unexpectedly – I cultivated a preoccupied expression. I checked my watch. Glanced at the notebooks I might have been carrying. I let people notice me, before I was obliged to notice them. That way, no-one could materialise in the out-of-focus murk and push me into a panic as I squinted and scrabbled for their name (“Hello, Susan… oh, Jenny”) or have me embarrass myself by avoiding names and sounding like an air-kissing socialite. (“Hellooo…”) At mealtimes, I wouldn’t have seen someone wink from across the table. Once, during a candlelit dinner, I put my fingers into a bowl of butter curls thinking they were… I don’t know what I thought they were.

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Through childhood and into my teens, my woeful vision and eyes that refused contact lenses moulded my personality. In my own space I was meticulous. A perfectionist. In the world beyond that I was shy and insecure. Still, while my eyesight tickled at my psychological makeup, my physical self was more robust. I played tennis, saw the ball only when it was almost on top of me, and learned to move double-quick to connect with it. In the surf I swam out past the break, contemplated the sky and the silver flashes of fish, then searched furiously for my towel on crowded beaches. I rode horses. Through all the myopic fuzz, I was passionate about them. I pony clubbed and dressaged and novelty evented and was so determined to ride that it never, looking back on it, occurred to me that not being able to see might get tricky. The horses helped. I started with a heavy bay called Tubby. He was stolid and stubborn and had very good eyesight. He was part draft horse with a white blaze. He taught me to ride. Then came Major, a smart-as-awhip, dancing dapple-grey with a blonde tail. When my father paid the hefty sum of $400 for him, he had no idea that Anglo-Arabians’

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athleticism, intelligence and endurance made them ultimate sport horses. Major was fast. He was affectionate and well-mannered. His attitude to everything was, “Show me. Aha! Got it.” The ordered sequences of dressage and hacking events suited us both. At shows and gymkhanas we galloped through novelty events’ memorised routines against the clock – flying over bounce pony’s six railings; pulling streamers from poles and dropping them into buckets in flag racing; zig-zagging through bending poles; and hurtling around a triangle of three fifty-five gallon drums, in barrel racing. Judges tied ribbons around Major’s neck. Like Tubby, he had very good eyesight. At shows throughout country Queensland, barrel racing provided cash prizes and crowd-pleasing action. On the Gold Coast one year, we had romped through the qualifiers and were set for the final – I was aghast to discover this would take place under lights. When the time came, there was an expectant audience beyond the white-picket fence circling the showground, and a clutch of akubra-wearing judges with clipboards gathered by one of the start-finish pegs. The barrels were fuzzy shapes. There were shadows everywhere. At the judge’s signal, Major and I shot through the starting pegs, looped left and right then around the top barrel, galloped hard at where I guessed the finish to be. Go left of the judges, I hoped. As we galloped towards them, I saw we needed to go right of the judges if we were to pass through the finishing pegs. I pulled hard at the reins. The judges’ eyes widened. They scattered as we barrelled through them and missed the finish in one chaotic pass. Later, I was one of the first to undergo Lasik eye surgery – where a special laser reshapes the cornea to change its focusing power. As my eyes healed, the world crisped. One morning I woke, looked through the bedside window, over the little lawn outside. A lorikeet sat on the fence. I saw it had a blue head. Its beak was brilliant orange.

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djprojects & Fabrication

Design, Structural, Architectural, Sculptural Derek John is a steel fabricator by trade with over 35 years experience in a wide range of materials. He offers services of fabrication in structural & architectural steel working with architects and builders across Victoria. He also assists artists in achieving public art outcomes, handling small and major projects including pricing, submissions, project management & installation. 0418 535 423

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& gallery Australia

Contemporay Art Commissions Public Art Private & Corporate Consultancy

163 Ocean Beach Road, Sorrento, Victoria 0417 324 795 Open 7 Days 10.00-5.00pm Bruce Armstrong - Bast

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