Daily Prompt: Keeping up with the Jones’ … 3

A luxury I wish I could afford?
Oh, LOTS! – but one that cannot be ignored
in Sidder-Knee, in summer, when it’s hot …

You’re thinking jewels, or cars, or trips abroad;
but with such things I’m getting somewhat bored.
My luxury is one that most have got.

A pension won’t allow a banking hoard:
from pensions savings simply can’t be clawed.
For pensioners, frugality’s our lot.

I post to Daily Prompt’s suggestion board
an item that will strike a happy chord
with those in Oz, like me, who have it not …

and the mystery coveted item is ...

Daily Prompt: Simply Irresistible Reply

When we travelled in France, we did our best always to stay with Jean Luc Valadeau in his truly beautiful B&B, Le Clair de la Plume, in Grignan. It is no longer a B&B, but a world-class hotel with restaurant; and Stringer and I remained happy to have been there, joyfully, in its less grand but equally marvellous days.

One evening, when we’d been rushing about all the day, we were simply too tired to venture forth to find dinner (remember, it was then a B&B); so we asked Jean Luc if we could possibly have a little snack in our Blue Room. Without a second’s hesitation he agreed; and the photo shows you what we were brought – the kind of meal we always loved best. But first, Stringer rushed for a camera.   :-)

irresistible

Irresistible? – you can believe it!

“Jobs for Australians” 4

I watched Aunty’s flagship news magazine last night.

I don’t, always – it so often wants to show me things that I don’t want to see. I mean, really don’t want to see: programmes about genocide, and the mistreatment of animals, and so on.

Well … I’ll admit it isn’t all that frequently; but as our Aunty is so unreliable with her promos, sometimes letting me know in advance and often not, I have a habit of coming in here and doing something on my computers instead.

But last night when it started I watched; as I was told it was going to be about a bloke who has only recently got himself the description of ‘politician’, and I hadn’t decided whether he is a buffoon or simply another extreme right-wing redneck.

He’s worse.

coalHe spent a very great deal of money to have himself elected; and there’s every sign that he did so in order to gain the influence needed to get done what his state government (equally appalling) won’t let him do.

And almost immediately we find him uttering that revolting phrase “to give jobs to Australians” in reference to his virtually limitless industrial ambitions, which involve (of course!) wholesale environmental carnage.

I am so weary of pollies and developers using that excuse for their money-making efforts that I can barely find the energy to say so …

And it’s always picked up by news coverage: never once have I missed seeing something about the latest landgrab or development horror or political hideousness without the newsreader’s adding, completely straight-faced, that the person involved is creating umpteen thousand new jobs for Australians.

Time that old chestnut drew sniggers of disbelief with hands over mouths from all attendant reporters, on every occasion of its being uttered.

It’s not that I’m denying jobs are created: what I find sick-making is the way everyone pretends to believe that this really is the reason for whatever underhand money-making project is being covered.

It’s pretty bloody awful that this bloke is now being paid to represent an electorate when no-one can possibly be under any illusion that his own business interests are going to continue to be what drives him.

Then, of course, I have to acknowledge that there was a reason for people to elect him, and it all comes down to how we Aussies get a new government: we don’t vote one in, we only ever vote one out.

An open letter … 6

… to Australian women feature writers|journalists

You’re lucky, of course – lucky to be around in these times of social networking clients of one kind or another … No: I mean, lucky that you’re young enough to’ve grown up with them so as to be able to adopt any with ease and facility, knowing which to use to reach whom.

You’re well-educated and have chosen to concentrate your studies in areas that help you interrelate with others of like mind.

You’re strong enough to not give a rat’s arse when trolls and bigots of all kinds get stuck into you: in fact, I believe you enjoy it!   :-)

You present us with facts housed within writing of such superior quality as to render it totally interesting, not to say riveting.

You’re passionate about what you believe in, and yet you manage without apparent effort not to let that affect your writing. (Me, I splutter with rage and chaotic phraseology when I write on what I care really deeply about.)

Some of you manage to run households with children while keeping up a fairly constant stream of intelligent output …

Truly, ladies – I don’t know how you do it.

All I do know is that when I was your age(s) there was no method of reaching lots of people, unless it were via some editor willing to publish one’s outpourings. I don’t regret it: I was never as well-informed as are all of you; and those things that grabbed me didn’t carry the weight of what the world is doing to itself today.

But I think I’m lucky, too. Lucky because I don’t need to look forward to all that much more of participating in what life has become, even in the lucky country. Ten years? – fifteen? … something like that. I shan’t regret them, either, when they let me know they’re tired of me.

I’m glad not to be facing half a life of not understanding where idealogy has gone; of having to choose between Rudds and Abbotts at election; glad that there aren’t all that many more years of wondering where the great interviewers have gone (and reflecting on Red Kezza’s retirement because, I think, he couldn’t bear the nightly dose of pollies any more).

But you lot are incredibly timely: with the slow death of newspapers there has never been more need for people to be writing as you do.

I haven’t found you all yet: so far I’ve managed to discover Victoria Rollinson and Paula Matthewson and Kathryn Crosby and Jane Gilmore and Margo Kingston and Cate Kennedy and Michaela McGuire and Lyn Calcutt and Alison Parkes; and I know there are dozens of others. Some of you are not accessible for the simple reason that I’m not a Facebooker or a tweep; but then, what good to me would be 140 words at a time?

ANYWAY. I want to let you know that your mothers’ and in some cases your grandmothers’ generations, as represented by moi, appreciate you. And admire you. No envy: just quiet pleasure at knowing that you’re all out there, writing away with expertise and helping us comprehend the important things through your skill.

Thank you all.

A moment out of time Reply

“Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going.”

—Tennessee Williams, The Milk Train doesn’t Stop Here any more

I stood at the door to my little balcony enjoying my third or fourth coffee of the morning, my feet straddling Lui on the patch of carpet where the sun was warm; and I looked across rooftops to the other side of the Harbour, just seen between buildings sprung up over the past fifteen years. Content, I was, and Lui too, in that late winter sunlight.

As my eye roved, my attention was caught and fixed by the sight of a tall crane that caused a sudden jolt of memory. What the memory was I can’t say, and I couldn’t even then: but the sight of that far crane between buildings on the very rim of the horizon filled my head with a picture seen before … once … somewhere.

This happens to me quite often, flashes of memory that can’t be pinned down for identification. My eye sees and my mind remembers: but to when? and why? – I don’t know. The memories are never significant; but some small part of ordinary life that take me back to – well, that take me back. If only I could remember to what …!

I have begun to wonder if these unidentifiable memory jolts are occurring more frequently the older I get, and I think it likely.

There’s an unknown longing attaching to them, and I can’t tell if it’s for the time that once was or for the hopeless wish I could grasp and know it. I can be sure only that every time in this one present moment something tries to take me back, I shall never be able to go.

I am fixed in the present, in my mind calling out … trying to recapture something I cannot, and hearing only the faint sound of laughter.

The perils of a pliable persona Reply

Many years ago, I found with a kind of faint bewilderment that my close friends, who were not legion, had arrived at the position of having catalogued me – you might say ‘pigeon-holed’ – as Grumpy.

Don’t get me wrong: this was not meant in a critical way, not at all! – but done with great affection and amusement. They all thought it mightily funny to ‘assume’ that I would react to anything that didn’t instantly fit my desired criteria in a way best described as ‘grumpily’; and often they created a scenario designed to generate exactly this. Before long, it was expected that I would behave like this; and they were positively disappointed if I didn’t respond to a situation they saw as being outside my approval parameters with at least some level of crankiness.

(It originated in the undeniable fact that I am not frightfully tolerant: I do not bend over backwards to understand the other person’s point of view where the spectre of Stupidity is lurking. I feel as if most of my rather alarming number of years have been spent in being reasonable – well, some of them, anyway – and I shouldn’t have to do that any more …)

I went along with it, I have to admit it. I knew I was being shaped to fit their demands; and I suppose my reaction, actually un-thought, if you get me, was “Well, why not? – makes them laugh. No harm.”

It grew, it settled comfortably upon me, it solidified.

I am now unable to shake it off.

It’s become part of me: wherever and whenever I’m with people who have known me over the years, there is that amused expectation of irritability, which I’ve acknowledged in the little cartoon that’s second-bottom in the sidebar.

So. Why do I even comment on it? – because it occurs, these days, that this might not be me.

I allowed a strong facet of my ‘completed’ personality to be applied and shaped by others.

This is possibly something I should take to some kind of shrink, or clinical psychologist, or a person of that ilk, were it actually worrying me. But it isn’t worrying me; it’s just causing me to reflect with bemusement on the fact of having gone along with what those I liked wanted of me.

This persona is now very much a part of me, and I shall not escape it for the rest of my days. I do wonder, though, what I would have been like had my grumpiness at [whatever], one day in the distant past, not been seized on with delight by companions, and thenceforth fostered with glee.

In truth, I think I have done it to myself …

Relationships 16

The houses of our lives are built on foundations of the relationships they contain. There’s no denying it: without the various relationships we maintain, our houses would collapse and we’d be nothing. (Mostly, it doesn’t pay to study them too closely: better to simply accept them for what they are and get on with living, because there are many that don’t bear scrutiny.)

I was looking fondly at my mog, the other day – my marmalade tabby, Lui Stringer – and I was reflecting upon these facts:

  • He is larger than nature meant him to be
  • He is, however, easy on the eye
  • He is indulged
  • He is intelligent and interactive
  • He knows I love him
  • He loves me

and it came to me that as those dot point facts encompass the relationship between me and my cat, they also describe at least part of the relationship I had with my husband Chic!

I gasped as this realisation hit me; but it was not to be denied: as Lui Stringer is to me these days was I to Chic  for our 31 years …

Thinking it through a bit more deeply, I was obliged to add to my Lui list that

  • He can be utterly infuriating!

and, of course, all that did was cement the fact of the relationships’ similarities.

Considering this image –

CMR

– I believe I’ve proved my theory …

Q.E.D. [grin]

One out of the box Reply

Something happened yesterday evening that made me stop, do a double take, do another and then pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming …

I received an email – very brief, but absolutely to the point – from the writer I admire most in the world.

I would like to put twenty or so exclamation marks after that sentence, were it not for the fact that everyone who’s ever given me instruction about writing has led off by forbidding that kind of punctuation: “If you need to use exclamation marks, you’re not getting across through your words the force of what you’re trying to write” (note absence of exclamation mark). And from there my instructors have segued almost unanimously into issuing the same das ist verboten about adverbs … but that’s another story.

So: there I was, sitting at my PC and gaping open-mouthed at my Outlook Inbox, thinking…

  1. That email says it comes from [X].
  2. It – it can’t.
  3. Someone is pulling my leg rather unkindly, knowing my predilection for his writing and thus his standing in my All-time Favourites List (the top).

Eventually, I opened it, to find, of course, that it really was from him. My jaw dropped. My eyes popped. Good GRIEF! (shut up!: I’m allowed to, after exclamations: it’s an exclamation mark, after all) – this is about the best thing that’s happened to me since … since … and I gave up.

Try to get the feel of my situation: there you are, blogger amongst hundreds of thousands of bloggers, doing your best to make yours readable and interesting. You write; and so, naturally, you also read; and you have a list of favourite authors and favourite books. Well, one day you’re doing whatever it is you do, having abandoned your blogging activities for the day, and suddenly into your mail client pops an email purporting to come from YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR.

I suggest you would’ve behaved exactly as I did – excitedly and disbelievingly and foolishly.

Miracles do happen, even to a grumpy old broad. But she’s more than capable of ruining them …

Doctor Who anniversary special! Reply

I’m a fan. Especially of the no. 10 (as readers of ATLMD know already), but also of Peter Capaldi, who’s going to be no. 12. Am I lucky, or what?!   :-)

But this will very definitely be the last time we ever see David Tennant as the Doctor; and adding that to the fact that I’ve just viewed the very last episode ever of “Luther” means a lowering of spirits in this household. Sighh …

Still; a much more cheerful fact is that a second series has been made – and already telecast in some places – of The Bridge / Broen / Bron, so at least there’s more classy Danish (yesyes, and Swedish!) thriller stuff ahead for us!

Meanwhile, here are two links to terrific articles in The Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2013/nov/18/steven-moffat-doctor-who-interview

http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2013/nov/14/david-tennant-profile

A poem I love 2

Rupert Brooke, that tragically unrealised war hero, wrote much lovely poetry (and some less impressive – but what poet didn’t?!) in his short life. I have a Folio Society volume of his work given to me by my beloved sister Jo more years ago than I can remember; but the colophon tells me it was reissued in 1961. The year after I left school … that’d be right.

There are several reasons for my loving this poem: the imagery speaks to me; my father loved it; and it was quoted in a famous science fiction novel of John Wyndham’s.

I’m far from being A Poetry Person; but those poems I love, I’m mad about.

Daily Prompt: Come fly with me 7

“Once, we were THIS far away …”

… and it actually did occur to both of us, more or less at the same time, that it was the farthest – the very most north – from Oz that we had ever been.

Gosh, what a beautiful city …!

It was early December, with little lights, glittering and winking with joy, strung in all the trees. And joyful everyone seemed, moving about in an air of prosperity and comfort. Night-time was utterly wonderful: this was the only place we went to where the nights were almost more beautiful than the days …

And the FOOD! – Ich habe keine Worte. Well, almost none. Believe me, the food was just … yummy. It was there we first discovered bircher muesli, and I haven’t stopped seeking it since – without success. Of course, I find what people tell me is bircher muesli all the time; but it doesn’t come within a bull’s roar of that we ate, at any time of day (and we weren’t alone in doing so!), in restaurants and cafés throughout this lovely place.

I know it has an extremely seamy side, with one particular street infamous throughout the world. I know it was largely razed by the Allies during WWII, so that what we now see is not what there once was. I know that every city in the world will look more lovely and more impressive to visitors than it does to its inhabitants.

But we loved Hamburg.