Archive for June, 2012

Mid Week Poem – still in the death zone but with chocolate

June 28, 2012

After she died

After the tears and laments – the abiding sadness

of a life cut short

We had to clean up

Tidy through her things

Clean out her life

Sort through who and what she was

Making judgments as we tossed and kept

A few mementoes – little reminders for each of us

Before we consigned her life to the pyre

 

As we searched and gathered

Bagged and binned

Kept and threw

We found her stash – her cache

of favourite things.

Tiny delicate packages in small secret places

that only she knew

Hidden from us, the ravaging hordes – especially the boy

 

In her bar fridge – of course

In the bedside cabinet – well we knew that one

and the Javanese pyramid with its myriad drawers

Her sewing chest, amidst her materials and bits and bobs

In her Chinese lacquer jewellery box

Little packages of chocolate, some open, half eaten, rewrapped

mostly forgotten: hidden too well

 

We know she’s laughing, smiling wryly

Chuckling now, as we find her treasures

Her collection of Cadbury, Toblerone and Ferrero Rocher –

 

Too much for her in those dying days – forgotten jewels

Left for those, who loved her best

Desperately wishing she was still here to share her secret stash

with us all. (Images courtesy Google Images)

Abba – I do I do I do I do I do quite love you too, after all.

June 26, 2012

I never bought an Abba record, not one single but I do know most of their songs and can sing along to nearly every one of them. This is not because I am a fan, but I do have a grudging respect for their enduring appeal, not to mention their ability to make some of the sweetest and catchiest music ever.

 

I was, like most people young and alive in the ‘70s unable to escape them. This was the era of the transistor radio for teenagers, not Walkmans or iPods – we couldn’t take our record collections with us wherever we roamed so we took our trannies to the beach, on the bus and to bed and for most of my teenage years the dominant noise was Abba, sad but true.

 

I went to parties – such tame, sweet affairs in retrospect, at friends’ houses, in their rumpus rooms built by dads under the house. The most outrageous thing was Dean Coleman (and Tim Brown?) lighting farts. Yes, we had tame little kisses and furtive feels and there might have been a bottle of beer somewhere but mostly we chatted and danced. To Abba. I remember very well dancing on my sloping front lawn in a large Zorba like circle shouting along to the Abba songs on the record player, slowly falling down the hill.

 

Abba seemed to infect Australian culture. They were forever on Countdown, famously mocked by Norman Gunston and his unique rendition of Fernando.

 

Then there were the movies – Muriel’s Wedding

 

 

and Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

 

It was as if with these iconic movies from the 90s that our love affair with Abba came out of the closet. Australians seemed finally able to celebrate their love for the only thing worthwhile to come out of Sweden – other than Volvo and Nobel.

We could love Abba now and so the world took them on too and Mamma Mia – stage play and film is the latest in our on-going affair with the Swedish wonder-band, long since rent asunder by the forces of fame and touring and expectations. I was always saddened by the demise of the relationships within the band, but who could blame them?

 

Mamma Mia is an odd concoction of Abba songs and a plot based on… what, exactly? But I did enjoy the film – once I got to watch it on my own, without my beloved moaning about the inanity of the plot, Meryl Streep’s odd acting, the convenient way all three ‘fathers’ were happy to ‘own’ Sophie, and Pierce Brosnan’s attempt at singing. I like the setting and the songs and I like watching Pierce, even if listening to him was a bit tricky.

 

Never-mind they’ve made millions from it, so the Abba juggernaut rumbles on. The fans grow old but new ones grow up to take their place. What next – I guess eventually there’ll be a 100 years of Abba, but I won’t be around for that, fortunately.

 

I confess, SOS is my favourite Abba song: Fernando my least. And I do find myself still singing along when they come on the radio. Age shall not weary them or the radio forget. (Images courtesy Google Images)

E-books to read: Life Happens, The Awakening & Infidelities

June 24, 2012

A reminder to all readers out there – a couple of e-books worth catching up on if you’ve not read them yet.

Firstly Life Happens by moi – several short stories about modern life – love, desire, death, disappointment, loss; and the weather. All set in Australia, mostly in the tropical north, where the weather is as important as friends. There’s a couple of prize winners here too.

And don’t forget Kat Quickly’s books –

The Awakening – Part 1 of The Ice Chronicles, where only one can save the  planet, only Carmen Whyte has the power, once she is awakened to save the the ice and the world and her powers come through sex. If you’re into the 57 Shades of Grey saga you could do worse than read The Awakening or Infidelities. Remember Ice Chronicles Part 2 should be published in the next couple of months.

Infidelities by Kat is a collection of sexy stories, guaranteed to warm your evening. A bit of love and longing on the spicy, gritty side of romance.

All three books are available on Amazon and all other e-book publishers. Treat yourself – buy and download today.

Don’t Eat the Bees – eat chocolate instead

June 22, 2012

I am home alone for the first time in many a long year. It will be thrilling and daunting – so many years living with others, I’m not sure how well I’ll function as a solo unit. I have made my plans – some cleaning, some socialising, more reading – for the ever present PhD and some writing – because I am, I write.

I have also allowed for some indulgences. I will allow myself a little wine again, a small bubbly treat, perhaps once a week.

 

I will consider chocolate. I must consider chocolate because, unlike  Manny left alone by Bernard, locked in the shop with only a bottle of Absinthe, I will not eat the bees.

 

Let us consider chocolate as the solo girl’s friend, as comfort and support in her lonely evenings.

I could have one Ferrero Rocher a day.

 

I could have a strawberry Freddo Frog on the home-going train

 

I could have strawberries dipped in chocolate on Sunday afternoon.

 

 

I could eat a whole Toblerone in a weekend

 

I could eat a box of Guylian Shells on a Friday night with my Moet.

 

But, dear reader, I will not. In the absence of my beloved I will not fall off the diet wagon and indulge my chocoholic fantasies. I will consider the bees. But most likely ignore them too. (Images courtesy Google Images)

For Grace – who would have been 18 today

June 20, 2012

You never swam in the pool, cavorting like a baby seal

splashing and shrieking with the other three

 

You never danced in the rain,

throwing off your clothes as the water bucketed down

Great dollops of wet warmth from a Tropical Summer Storm.

 

You never woke in the night, crying for me

needing me to sooth and calm you,

rock you back to sleep

 

You never snuggled in close, listening to a story

trying to read along –

desperate to know the words

 

You never laughed at a silly Disney movie

dissolving into tears at all the nonsense.

 

You never smiled at me in that way of a child

to break a mother’s heart

 

But you broke it – just the same.

(Images courtesy Google Images)

Life’s Too Short

June 16, 2012

The sad truth is that we take what we have for granted too often. It is only when something happens to shake us up that we do stop to smell the roses, to breath the air at the beach and be thankful for all we have. In the wake of death, any death – expected, sudden, young or old – we know life is too short.

So, in recognition of that, consider some, or all of the following –

Forgive those who have hurt you. Mostly they are foolish people who lost their own sense and decency for a while. Face up to them, to your bitterness and pain, and forgive them. But only if you genuinely want to.  Forgiveness frees you, allowing you to let go of the pain from that relationship, look forward and move on, so forgive.

 

Do the things you really want to do. I’ve blogged about this a great deal in the past, but it’s worth repeating – go dancing, sing loudly, take lessons even, take up pottery, poetry; write your book; take that trip; throw snowballs, swim the Channel. Live a life worth living, not just going through the motions.

 (At the Louvre)

 

Do something for yourself: at least once in a while it’s okay to be selfish. Treat yourself to your heart’s desire – a bottle of Moet, a day at a Spa, a special dinner with your beloved. Cherish yourself as well as others.

 

Love your family and your friends. They are the things that matter (and your pets too), they are the core of your life, the things that love and care about you – just as you are, who care for you, are always there for you. So you do the same for them. Relationships are the glue of the universe, so cherish yours.

(My Best Work)

 

Live your life – don’t just let it meander by. We are here for a very short time and we have a duty to live it well. Don’t squander it in too many foolish or negative things. But that doesn’t mean don’t take risks, or eschew fun. Have a life that is rich and varied, the best life you can – including mistakes and idiocy, it’s how we know we’re alive!

Make sure that when you get to the end you can look back and be happy that you had a go, you did some good things, you made a difference. And know that you were loved and have loved. (Images courtesy Google Images & Private Collection)

 

Tow Trucks, Foreign Cars and Me

June 14, 2012

My first encounter with tow trucks (and their drivers) accompanied my first car and my first accident. As I sat on the roadside watching my crumpled ’64 VW Station Wagon being ignominiously taken away that warm Sunday afternoon 25 odd years ago I did not consider that this was to be the first of many such episodes in my driving life.

Yesterday, as my four year old V8 Jaguar Sovereign was unceremoniously dragged onto the tip-tray of a tow truck – thankfully from the privacy of my own back yard – I thought that really I have spent too much time in the company of tow truck drivers and thus mechanics, and really my preference for idiosyncratic European cars has not been the most sensible way of driving or economic roads to travel down.

 

The VW was only towed once – to the wreckers. It had been written off by an ex-con driving his purple Gemini without due care, ploughing it into my rear and forcing me into the Valiant in front. We were both stationary, waiting at a notorious corner for some car well in front to turn across the traffic. I was a student so only 3rd party, no comprehensive, the ex-con, of course, had no insurance. So no car and no money. The only consolation was that a set of traffic lights was installed at that corner not long after. I was the accident that broke the camel’s back of traffic light decision making.

 

My next car was a 1969 2.5 PI Triumph, complete with red leather upholstery and wooden trims. I loved it. It had grunt and style and I could drag anything off at the lights – except a big motorbike. This was where my real relationship with tow trucks developed. By the time the Trump was written off I had been towed more times than I could reasonably remember. The brakes failed going out of my mountainside driveway and I collected a largish boulder in stopping. My gearbox fell out one morning on my way to Uni. The head gasket blew coming home from the Huon. I burnt out the hand-brake cable coming home from rowing training one morning – too tired to realise why the car was driving so bumpily. Yes, by the time the car was beyond my desperate repair budget I knew nearly every tow truck driver in town. They were always friendly jocular types who were sexist pigs at heart but recognised a regular customer when they found her waiting patiently by the side of the road after her latest vehicular disaster.

I moved to Japanese cars for several years and had only one experience with a tow truck, thus buoyed with confidence (and a two year old Subaru as support vehicle) I bought a 78 V12 XJS Jaguar. True, it was past its prime, true it cost a fortune in petrol, true it was not a family car, but it was a thing of divine beauty, and despite it breaking down on the test drive we bought it one sunny November afternoon.

 

Six months later it broke down properly: in the car park at work and I re-entered the world of tow trucks and their drivers. The young man who arrived to take me away was a garrulous chap, talked the forty minutes it took from work back into town. But I found the perfect mechanic, who went on to look after my cars for several years until we left Darwin. This car broke down far more often than I thought possible. Non-Jaguar people just laugh at your foolishness and nod wisely about British engineering. I stood too many times at the side of the road mobile in hand calling the AANT, knowing the mechanic who came would be powerless and that all he could do was call the tow truck. So off I’d go, the burgundy beast safely on the back down to Johnno’s where he would nurture it back to life.

Oh, yes, I knew all the drivers. As I began to describe the car and where it was over the phone, I would hear – yes, luv, I know your car. Be there in a jiff. And so I would have interesting chats about the merits of English cars and agree that at least it wasn’t a Leyland and it was a joy to drive when it was going. The most bizarre man I met was the reincarnation of a 500 year old Hopi Indian who was happy to give me the inside running on the state of the planet and that Armageddon was in fact nigh but it was possible to be saved. He was only here to spread the word to as many people as he could before he had to move onto higher things. I was baffled how he could spread the word effectively as a tow truck driver but was assured this was all part of the greater mystery of life and if I followed his lead all would be revealed to me.

 

After several years of fun, many of them off the road, Johnno, who really did despair of the XJS, advised it was time to spend up big or get a new car. And dear reader, we did the obvious thing and flew to Queensland and bought a 1989 Sovereign, in quite gorgeous condition. Despite paying too much, as you sometimes do for things in the heat of the Gold Coast moment, this baby has only been towed once and that was under Johnno’s guidance before we moved to Tasmania. The car was having a final check before we left. A 7:30am call said: I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad is that the electrics had shat themselves. The good thing is that it happened with me. Don’t panic when you see the car on the side of the road – the tow truck is cheaper in the day.

And then we bought the blue car. The latest and greatest, the most beautiful example of Jaguar brilliance we are ever likely to own. I’ve washed and polished it, serviced it, loved it and still it broke down on me. The immobiliser immobilised the car. She wouldn’t go anywhere, just sat in the garage as I was trying to go to work and deliver children to school: my beloved and the Gold Sovereign miles away on a conference.

I ran through all the checks, all the tricks I’ve learnt over years of Jaguar ownership and still she was still. The RACT man came but I knew he was out of his depth. I knew we were moments away from the call. From the summons to one of those men who have been integral to my adult life, who have been there as latter day guardian angels rescuing me as no-one else could. And as he came down the drive way and smiled at me in that old familiar way of all tow truck drivers I knew my beloved car was in good hands and I would never be free of tow truck drivers. (Images courtesy Google Images and Private Collection)

Death Stalks Us All

June 11, 2012

In life we are in death – around us the world shatters as Syria explodes into violence. Children and innocents die, casually as if their lives were nothing. War is like this. War is terrible, yet it continues apace. We have learnt nothing from the two major conflicts of last century – men still make war, innocent people die and lives are never the same again.

 

In the modern age, in the West, death is an infrequent visitor and hence we are less used to her tainted reach, her ghostly pall as she hovers nearby. In earlier times when disease stalked the many death was often, never a friend but not the stranger she is to most of us today.

In the last month three people I know have died. Only one was of any real age and his passing was much mourned by his family and many friends. Two others succumbed to cancer, the most deadly of visitors. They were only slightly older than me: one a dear friend & colleague – a lady of effrontery and wit, full of energy and plans, very much alive. I struggle to imagine the world without her. Scarily she succumbed to the cancer I left behind a few years ago. I feel the hand of death hovering nearby – there but for the Grace of…

And today as well, a young colleague mourns his friend who went to bed and didn’t get up again. She was twenty-two. He cannot comprehend this. How can this happen? How can someone so alive, so young, with so much still ahead of them, be gone? How do you explain this, make sense of it?

In ten days time my lost girl would have been eighteen. I wonder from time to time what she would have been like – how like her sisters would she have been? How different would our lives have been has she lived?

Those left behind have a duty to the dead. We must mourn them, honour them as they pass. But once the rawness is smoothed over, we must not forget them. We must keep them in our lives, through our memories, our talking of them, our remembering them, even when it hurts – even when their empty space remains so large. So at Christmas, at birthdays, we should remember their special place in our lives and honour their being in this world no matter how short or how long a time we have them.

Life is a precious thing, a fragile thing. We ought to value it more than we do. If the untimely passing of a loved one can do this then their death has helped us to live a little better every day.

RIP: Kate Buckeridge, Bill Coburn, Jim Mullens and Grace. (Images courtesy Google Images)

Writing in Response 5: Visuals from the world of film and rock n roll

June 8, 2012

So the mantra is: you must read in order to write.

But I would urge you to watch and listen as well – take in the stimulus from around you, from around this rich and diverse world of ours.

Indulge in the following inspirations from the comfort of your home. Let your mind go and it will return to you more creative and stimulated than ever. Who knows what you’ll write in the wake of the following suggestions?

 

Watch and listen – Rock clips

Grace Jones – Slave to the Rhythm

Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes

Don Henley – Sons of Summer

Robert Plant – Big Log

Kate Bush – all

Police – Wrapped Around Your Finger

Chris Rea – On the Beach

Tears for Fears – Everybody wants to rule the world

George Michael – all the clips without him in them

Duran Duran – Rio – any clip for any song from the album

Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime

Billy Idol – White Wedding

Guns n’ Roses – November Rain

Queen – Radio Gaga, I Want to Break Free, Bohemian Rhapsody

 

 

Watch as many of these films as you can – at least once if not more to really get the fun, the nuances and the point!

 

 

Spirited Away

Howl’s Moving Castle

Donnie Darko

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Adventures of Baron Munchausen

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Labyrinth

Lexx

 

Plus

 

David Lynch movies

Quentin Tarantino movies

Tim Burton movies

Terry Gilliam movies

Black and white movies

Different genre movies to what you would normally watch, eg Sci Fi, Animae, Family, etc

 

 

European and World movies that offer the world differently – in different colours, different sensibilities, different topics and approaches – different ways of ‘seeing’ and ‘being’: an alternative humanity to that offered by Hollywood films.

 

 

Herein you will find more open ended stories, no answers or neatly tied boxes, more questions than answers, more for you to consider and take with you.

Reach out, embrace the visual richness of our created world, let others imaginations fire your imagination! (Images courtesy Google Images)

Mid week Poem – Advice to a Young Poet from a Cynical Has-Been

June 6, 2012

Poetry’s just like Art

I know what I like and I can do it myself

But I can’t discern the difference between good and great,

mediocre and marvellous

Yet, I do know awful.

I know the Tay Bridge Disaster is a disaster of a poem

and not just because I was told so.

I know Shakespeare’s sonnets are things of beauty.

But be blown if I can tell why some of this modern shit gets published.

What defines it all now?

Where is the importance of structure and rhythm,

let alone a sophisticated turn of rhyme?

In the plethora of  e–publishing

have we lost the sense of what is good,

what is worthy

in that most obscure and least financially rewarding art form?

I guess my dog could paint something as fine as Picasso

and my rooster could pen a poem that was eagerly published

then go onto win a prize.

I can tell you why a short story is rubbish,

why your novel in progress will always be that

I know why your article won’t be accepted for publication

But please don’t ask me about your poetry.

Never ask me about that.

You see, more than any other form,

the personal, not the objective or rational, rules the roost.

Find an editor who loves your style

Then you’ll be fine, lauded and loved – the darling of the festival circuit

But you’ll never make a living

Never.

So if you want to eat and drink

write porn instead

self publish your poetry or save it for dark drunken nights

and selected sycophants who’ll say the right thing in your sensitive poet’s ear

Keeping your poetic dreams alive

(Images courtesy Google Images and Andrews UK for cover of Infidelities by Kat Quickly)