Saturday, April 30, 2011

Moving Right Along Now

Like many of the many people who have had smaller or larger esp experiences, I find it possible and probable that there are lives beyond this one.
I know that such experiences are explained as brain blips. But, what if present reality is just one such blip? Why not? A different reality, if you glimpse it, is as real and tangible as this everyday world. Sounds like rubbish, of course, until it happens to you.

Perhaps this is a case where my ignorance stops me coming to a more rational conclusion.
I am not talking about some kind of judgement day, or old testament thunderings. Sorting out the sheep from the goats? I've never been sure who were the good guys here: sheep and goats are both enormously useful and valuable, and both probably quite nice too.

Friday, April 29, 2011

I Am Watching

some people getting married.
I didn't think that I would bother, but the fact that the British do pomp, ritual. spectacle and ceremony better than anyone else, (in my opinion), easily swayed me.
Catherine looked like the strength in the relationship, just as E Bowes Lyon was and Diana wasn't.
Astrologers say that they selected a disastrous day.
Why did the Queen choose yellow?
What did Charles think while his son repeated those celebrated vows that he once made evidently having no intention at all of keeping them?
The royal wave used to be a regal wave...wave...wave: now it was flapflapflapflap.
As usual, as traditional, a stupid amount of guff that influences noone and annoys many, is spoken.
I won't be buying the DVD, but I assume that some will.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Last Week

I had to go down town to open an office to the electricians who were working nearby.
I was impressed - no, enormously impressed - by their aplomb, courtesy, consideration.
Twenty years ago, as tradies, they would probably have been at least slightly gauche. Now they weren't.
But what impressed me most was a quiet but obvious happiness radiating out from each and every. From each and every. Radiating. You could see it. An almost tangible happiness. Made me think.

Most of my beloveds are not in these areas.


My maternal grandmother lived in Bourbong Street, Bundaberg, Qld, Aust, etc.etc.
This was a long way from where we lived, just over the Blue Mountains from Sydney. Visiting her took taking the local steam train to Sydney, then the overnight train - in a sleeper!- to Brisbane, then the Rockhampton Mail to Bundaberg. Once, lying on the upper berth, I idly kept pushing an unlabelled button to see if it did anything. Yes, it did: the attendant eventually arrived, flustered, sweating, red-faced, irritated to tell us that this buzzer summoned him. He was eventually quite kind about it. I was deeply humiliated.

From the moment I saw, during that first endless boring journey, the stilted Queensland houses I fell deeply in love.
My grandmother's house wasn't on stilts as tall as I would have chosen, but they were there, with the omnipresent staghorns and elkhorns adorning them. I forget much about her house except the wide verandahs, the large kitchen with its ell verandah to the backyard, the sitting room, with its extraordinary orderliness and the intricate needlework in its cushions, the warm clean sweet air. Her cocker spaniel called Paddy, who caused her eventual and ultimately fatal fall, as so many of these loving beings do. The bedroom I shared with my sister: waxed floors with pristine mosquito nets tied into loops around the hoops above the beds during the daytime. French doors, always open, to a verandah.
I was five the first year that we went. When we were shown our bedroom there was a large toy rabbit decked in long angora hair on one bed. For some reason this caused me to remind my grandmother that it had been my birthday only a week ago, and she immediately endowed me with the beautiful rabbit. I loved that heap of wool passionately for many years.

Always banana trees in the backyard to pick from. A large mango tree - but, none of us liked mangos: they were endemic, a bit of a nuisance, like the omnipresent cane toads. I totally loved the colours: the vivid grass shoots running across the orange earth towards the asphalt of the road. Lime green of the sugar cane. Scarlet, emerald, sky blue, turquoise seemed to match the rich flower scents. And orange. Vibrant.
I know little of my grandmother except glimpses. I enjoy the glimpses.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Literary fashions

I have been reading short stories and more short stories. Of these were two large Australian collections published by Scribe.
I was surprised by their homogeneity.
Only three stories stood out for me: one by the master, Cate Kennedy. Two by Sunil Badami.
I am not a careful or informed reader, but I don't think that I could recall what most of the other 60 or 70 stories were about: no doubt this is a reflection on me, not on the writers, whom I could see were very skilful.
In the Atlantic, Tim O'Brien wrote ".. writing workshops, in which I've noticed, almost always to my alarm, that classroom discussion seems to revolve almost exclusively around issues of verisimilitude." I gather that this why present tense is so ubiquitous: it was easy to project this comment onto the stories that I read. It was interesting to see in the author bio's how many had degrees in creative writing, or taught creative writing.
In contrast, I also read "Wonderful Town New York Stories from The New Yorker". They were wonderful stories indeed: rich, light, dark, heavy, funny, sad, wistful, dramatic, written in a range of styles and voices.
Of course they had an immense range of great and famous authors to select from, but what stood out was the intelligence and interest of the stories, even when the subject matter was slight. I want to read the collection again.
In the Australian stories, what stood out was the style.
This surely can't be A Good Thing?

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Rather improbably, the solution to the classic impenetrable mystery story of the dead man in the isolated railway carriage was that he had been gored by the horn of a bovine on a passing train.
This is not how it is written in a famous story, or how my mother read it to us. The word the author uses is "steer", and this proved to be my mother's stumbling block. If it had been bull or cow, there would have been no problem: she evidently just had insuperable difficulties in explaining the word "steer"as relating to a desexed bull calf. "What is a steer?" we asked at the story's climax. She clamped her lips, and we were awed and silenced by the import of her inability to offer any further words.

I thought, at the time, that the man had been gored by some amorphous, unspeakable horned creature and this strange, evidently murderous being/thing lingered in my imagination.
If spaying/desexing had been explained, I think that I would have taken it in my stride, without a second thought. And the story would have made sense. But, the zeitgeist of the times was that the world was wicked, and that the best protection for children was ignorance. (cf).

"Gender" was the everyday substitute for the embarrassing, risque word "sex". Masculine, feminine, common, neuter -
there was no category for such as a "steer", so it rendered my mother mute.