Sunday, June 28, 2009

Dodgy (and other) gates

It seems Marty and Mal haven't learnt anything from the fate of the quintessential Artful Dodger*, immortalised by Dickens in the following description:

He was a snub-nosed, flat-browed, common-faced boy enough; and as dirty a juvenile as one would wish to see; but he had about him all the airs and manners of a man. He was short of his age: with rather bow-legs, and little, sharp, ugly eyes. ..... He was, altogether, as roystering and swaggering a young gentleman as ever stood four feet six, or something less, in the bluchers.

(Nothing personal guys).

He of course ended up being caught red handed with a stolen silver snuff box and was ignominiously despatched to the penal colony at Port Arthur.

No such fate is likely to befall either of these protagonists however, whether or not they deserve it. Not that any of the players in either saga comes off unsullied, even the pair most self-righteously proclaiming their indignation at the aspersions cast upon them - Prime Minister Rudd and Premier Rann respectively. Of course it's all in the game as they say, politics being almost as laughable a game as that of love and we have learnt to have fairly low expectations of the integrity of the main players in both the Federal and State ball games. You'd think though they would have learned by now that casting aspersions is rather like casting stones. Let he who is without sin cast the first one. Or beware the fate of being hoist by one's own petard (or one's own ute or dodgy documents as the case may be).

Red faced they may be and deservedly so, but repentant, probably not. Whether the sting in the tail as these events have proven to be for the Libs at both Federal and State levels is venomous enough to do them lasting damage, either in a leadership spill (as seems imminent for the State crowd) or at some future ballot box, remains to be seen. It is however a pretty shabby display in both houses and one wishes they'd for once just get on with what they were elected to do, rather than wasting our time, trying our patience and clogging up the newsprint with this childish puerile nonsense. If I hadn't already lost faith in politics, this would have been the straw that did it.

*Colloquially - someone who tries to avoid taking responsibility for his (usually nefarious) actions.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Life is a Picture

In my quest to become a writer, I attended a writing workshop last weekend at the SA Writer's Centre. It was entitled "Writing from the Inside Out". Although only three hours in duration, it was a very rewarding experience. As it was a practical workshop, we got to write (what else!) and read the fruits of our labours to the class. Although potentially exposing one's vulnerabilities, this is an invaluable task for a writer, aspiring or experienced. Writing, although an engaging and at times satisfying activity, is essentially a very isolated one. One labours away, waging a war with the blank page and hopes that what emerges from the intellectual wrestling match is something half way reasonable. You never really know though, at least not until you get to the stage of submitting work to a publisher I suppose. The capacity for self-delusion is alive and well in every one of us, and there is always the nagging fear that what may seem flights of rhetorical brilliance at the time, will be little more than self indulgent drivel on re-reading, or worse on reading by someone else.

Be that as it may, it's not really what I meant to say. The theory behind the topic of the workshop was that to write well, we should be able to draw upon images and develop the ability to translate them as settings for our stories. In other words, it's not enough merely to create believable characters, a compelling plot and a well structured account of something (piece of cake though all that is!!), it needs a setting. It is in the setting that we have the opportunity to use what we know as well as what we can imagine. As an exercise, we were asked to bring along photos or images of a scene that meant something to us. Using this as inspiration , we then had to write a short piece in or around or somehow related to this scene.

What I found intriguing about this was how similar it was to painting. It was creating a landscape through words, rather than through the medium of paint. The method practically of course is different, but the creative process is remarkably, uncannily similar. So, for me because I have done some painting, this was an exciting and invigorating challenge.

I don't think you have to be particularly artistic in any medium to appreciate this. The human mind is naturally creative and imaginative and if you just sit and look at a scene, a picture, an image, whether it be a beautiful landscape, a person or a still life, I think you will find it speaks to you. This is of course the great joy of art, our eyes and ears and senses are captured by a skilful writer, painter or musician and transported to another world. It's nothing less than magic.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


In thinking over the past week which has been quite a stressful one for me with Scully's problems, I felt so grateful for having a sister who is always a rock of strength and support whenever life gets a bit difficult for me. I haven't written anything previously about my dear sister, Rosemary but I would like her to know she is loved and very precious to me.

We are different in many ways, however I like to think those differences complement each other. We also share many traits, in particular our devotion to animals, especially our precious dogs. Rosemary and her husband Len have three, all of which are thoroughly doted on. Of course as fanatical pet lovers, she and I have both had our share of heartbreaking times, when a beloved pet gets ill or passes on and it is at these times that because we understand so well the grief that this entails, we are able to support each other.

Rosemary is brilliant at this. Last week when Scully got sick, she came to visit all the way from Murray Bridge just to see if I was ok as well as phoning and emailing regularly to check on things. There's not a lot of tangible things one can do to help when life's downs come along, but just to know there's someone you can talk to about anything is wonderful. God knows I've moaned and whinged to her endlessly over the years but she never complains, never judges and is just there to lend an understanding ear, whatever the problem. Things were different when we were kids of course and as we shared a bedroom familiarity bred not only contempt but some raging rows from memory. But that's all part of the family experience and it certainly hasn't marred our relationship as adults.

I look forward to us growing into old ladies together grumbling about the indignities of age and infirmity, the intransigence of men and children, the frustrations of work and trying to make ends meet, the parlous state of the world and where will it all end and so on. It's really good to know that whatever befalls me, there's someone who'll always be in my corner, backing me all the way. Thanks to you dear sister.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A little girl in trouble

My little dog Scully has had some very worrying health problems just recently. She has suffered several convulsive attacks, which although fortunately short lived are alarming and distressing, both to her and to me. She has been thoroughly examined by the vet and had a full set of blood tests done. There don't at this stage appear to be any specific causes for the seizures and she doesn't have any other symptoms. One possibility is a brain tumour or similar neurological problem, but until further investigations are done, if they prove necessary, we won't know. In between these episodes she has been perfectly well, and as far as can be seen, her normal self. Her normal self is a sweet, quiet and serene natured little dog, so the thought of anything serious being wrong with her fills me with dread. At the moment we just have to wait and see if further problems occur, and take whatever action is recommended then.
Scully is 12 years old, so not in the first flush of youth and health problems therefore don't come as a surprise. But whenever they come with a loved pet, they are never welcome. One desperately wants to spare them pain and suffering of any kind, and to protect them at whatever cost, but it's such a difficult experience. Although inevitable, it's virtually impossible to prepare oneself to deal philosophically with the concept of their illness, incapacity and eventual death.
Fergus is worried about her too and senses something is wrong I think. He's giving her a comforting kiss in the above picture.
I am hoping this doesn't mean I'm going to lose her just yet, but if I do I must just hope to deal with it in the best way possible, for her sake and for mine. In the meantime she is getting lots of hugs and love to make sure she knows she is a special girl.