Writing Can Be Lonely

Lonely teaspoons

Writing can be lonely, especially if you’re living on your own in a cramped flat, in another country, far away from family and friends. So when I lived in England in the early-1990s, I volunteered to work one afternoon a week at the local Oxfam shop, to get away from my writing desk, to get out of my flat, and to meet and mingle with people. Continue ReadingWriting Can Be Lonely

Grammarly – My Editor and Proofreader Friend

Grammarly Grammar Check

There were many grammatical errors, typos and howlers over the ten years I published my dog club newsletter. In my defence, I caught most of them during the final read … after I’d photocopied it! Oh, how I wish I’d had my editor and proofreader friend, Grammarly, back then. Continue ReadingGrammarly – My Editor and Proofreader Friend

The Vietnam War – Boy from Perth’s Perspective

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As a kid growing up in Perth, W.A., in the 1960s and ’70s, I didn’t learn about the Vietnam War from classroom history lessons. Vietnam and the broader Indochina War were on our radio and TV news every morning and evening, and in the front page headlines of our daily newspapers (though unlike some of my precocious school friends, I can’t claim to have read beyond the headlines). Continue ReadingThe Vietnam War – Boy from Perth’s Perspective

Writing First Sentences

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To help overcome writer’s block and make a start on writing the first sentences of A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway is said to have reminded himself: “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” Continue ReadingWriting First Sentences

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton – Omen or Inspiration?

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In May of 1992, the local literary news in Australia was all about Tim Winton and his novel, Cloudstreet. I thought it an omen. Winton was thirty-one-years old and I was thirty. He’d grown up in Western Australia and so had I. He’d just won his second Miles Franklin Award and I was about to have a second crack at being a writer!  Continue ReadingCloudstreet by Tim Winton – Omen or Inspiration?

The Gorilla Hunters by RM Ballantyne

There were old tea chests in a spare room at my grandparents’ house. In them, my younger brother and I found 78 RPM records, 1940s Film Fun Annuals and Biggles books, which had belonged to my father and his brother as boys. But for the 10-year-old me, the greatest treasure was a mint copy of The Gorilla Hunters by R.M. Ballantyne.  Continue ReadingThe Gorilla Hunters by RM Ballantyne

The Books You Read At School

Ask anyone who, like me, was a kid in Australia the 1970s, “What were the books you read at school?” and we’re likely to recall at least three novels. There may be more, but for me, these three are the classics, the ones I had to read, analyse and write essays on in English. And, in their different ways, they left a deep impression on me. Perhaps that’s why I still have copies of them in my bookcase – though none are school days’ originals! Continue ReadingThe Books You Read At School

Mona Lisa Smile

A faded photo of my dad from the 1970s inspired this microfiction. He had a faraway look in his eyes and a Mona Lisa smile on his much younger face. As art lovers have done for centuries with Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, I wondered what was on my dad’s mind when the photo was taken? Continue ReadingMona Lisa Smile

Queens Park Dog Walkers

One day in 2001, I saw Amy the yellow lab in Queens Park with her owner, “The bloke with a beard”. He told me that ‘John had died’ and ‘Amy was missing him’. It took a few moments to realise he was talking about one of my fellow dog walkers, “The old bloke who walked Amy the lab for his neighbour”. Continue ReadingQueens Park Dog Walkers

English Pubs and Last Orders

I loved pubs when I lived in England in 1980s & ’90s! Unlike Australian pubs of the day (which thankfully have improved since then!), the English pubs I frequented were social meeting places, for men & women, not just somewhere for blokes to get plastered & start fights (though those pubs did exist!). Continue ReadingEnglish Pubs and Last Orders