Exile

Exile

When silence was banished,
sent into oblivion, hiding between
each sound wave, wary of discovery,
now surplus – a waste
of time and space
derided as unproductive –
it lay dormant,

no longer there to reflect
the moment before,
wanted or not,
best ignored, passed over
lest it judge, question
accuse –
slow down life.

Still silence survives,
sneaking into lives as
insidious peace,
unwanted quiet,
calming angst and haste,
ambushing the unwary
with sudden serenity.

(Exile is a poem from my book Silence…)

Fairytales – another of the small things in life

I have been thinking about fairytales – and for once I am not being satirical! Just recently I sat down to watch Enchanted – great movie – a sexy Amy Adams might have helped too. But seriously – it’s a wonderful film – full of joy. It’s not my usual fayre of Crime Thrillers, Film Noir, The Bourne series, sci-fi etc, but I’m beginning to like them more. And I don’t even have kids to watch them with. The same is true for Stardust, and more recently Snow White and the Huntsman – although I think the wicked witch steals the show. But enough of me dribbling on. Watch any of these movies and I guarantee that you’ll love them. Fairy tales are one of the small things that make life great – even the dark Brother’s Grimm ones.

George

My Other Half

My Other Half

At night, in silence,
as I lie awake,
listen to you breathe,
I sometimes wonder
what my life would be,
if not for your smile.
It then comes to me -
it simply wouldn’t
be.

Rogue Sheep – a danger in the Aussie outback!

In Spring 1993 I was doing soil sampling, putting grids in for drilling, or doing any one of the jobs an exploration assistant does. Spring is also the time that the days can become just that little too warm for rogue sheep.

Rogue sheep? 

Yes. Rogue sheep.

Most, if not all, of the land on which I went soil sampling, putting in grids, cleaning up, or drilling, was part of one sheep station or another. These are vast holdings that can contain thousands of square kilometres of land. Just imagine the difficulty in keeping the fences in good shape. Also, try imagining the difficulty in making sure that all the sheep are rounded up when it comes time to shear them. This is where rogue sheep come into their own.

Bearing that in mind, there is one more thing that I want you to try and imagine. Picture wandering though the outback and coming across the stereotypical galvanised iron windmill-powered water pump and sheep troughs. The scrubby bush is quite thick around here and this clearing provides a pleasant place to stop for a break. The windmill is clanking, almost screaming, along but producing no water – the farmer probably hasn’t been around to maintain it yet – and the troughs are dry. Then there is a rustling sound and an apparition appears out of the bush. It looks like a sheep, but it has wool hanging off its severely matted fleece and wild red eyes that seem to be struggling to focus. You have been found by a rogue sheep.

It has escaped shearing for a couple of years and is now half-crazed by the heat caused by three years of wool growth. A closer look and you see that it has seen you and is struggling to decide what you are, as short-circuits overcome normal thinking. The one thing it knows is that you are at the water trough and that is where it wants to go. It is time to move, and move swiftly. An assault by a crazy sheep can do you some serious damage.

A spring thunderstorm can be the end for these poor creatures. As their fleeces become saturated, the weight can cause them to be unable to walk. They collapse and die from exhaustion, leaving only the smell of death, scattered bones, and some wool as a reminder of their presence. In bad shape or not, these creatures need to be avoided as they are unpredictable. I didn’t want to have to go back to Leonora and admit to being gored by a sheep. A camel would have been acceptable, and there are plenty of feral camels out on the outback, and even an enraged goat, and there are so many feral goats in the outback that it’s not funny, but not Shaun the sheep.

So if you’re out in the bush in Spring keep your eyes out for crazed red-eyes rams that have lost their grip on sanity. I mean it!

 

Manic Irrelevance Syndrome (also known as Barmy Virus)

The Politician’s Curse – MIS also known as Barmy Virus

If are a politician already thinking about retirement, you have probably made a mistake in your career choice. A good career politician passes away quietly while in office, as by the time they reach the traditional retirement age they are probably doing very little of any use. Retirement also means an end to the gravy train that is politics; sure, you get a decent pension and probably a comfortable lifestyle, but unless you find your way into a cushy little job that involves doing very little but turning up to dinners and functions, you will end up feeling lost, lonely, and ignored. This is the classic breeding ground for Manic Irrelevance Syndrome – an illness than can affect retired politicians.

MIS, also known as Barmy Virus, is a serious disorder than has been shown to be prevalent among retired and defeated politicians. It is thought to be more prevalent among those who have reached high office and then suffered a fall from grace or decided that the time was right to quit. If you take a look at the crusty old codgers that inhabit the backbenches of Parliament, you are bound to see ex-ministers who are suffering from MIS. The main effect of this syndrome is a form of delusion, the symptoms of which include:

• the belief that you always did things better and made better decisions than your successors;
• the belief that you need to write a book about your time in politics and dish out all the dirt on your colleagues that you have so far kept to yourself;
• an inability to begin any sentence without the phrase, ‘When I was Minister for…’; before embarking on a long and rambling collection of drivel that nobody is interested in; and
• an unbreakable belief that the media and public still wants to hear what you have to say.

You are unlikely to know that you are suffering from this ailment because when your colleagues and/or family try to tell you, you will see then as well-meaning but ill-informed people who do not understand the situation. Thankfully, there are other options for the politician leaving the job, whether it is voluntarily or not. The private sector often snaps up ex-politicians in the belief that they will be useful people to lobby for industry interests. If you can wangle one of these jobs you are likely to set yourself up for a long and distinguished career, however you should realise that even this job will not give you the spotlight you probably crave, and the onset of MIS is still a distinct possibility.

The tired and tested method of avoiding MIS is to keep on being re-elected and to have a long and relatively anonymous career on the back-benches. If you decide to seek responsibilities on the front bench you need maintain this elevated position (and get back as quickly as possible if for some reason you lose your portfolio) to avoid this condition taking hold. If you reach the dizzying heights of being Prime Minister or President, then it is scientifically proven that you have a 99% chance of suffering from MIS. The likely bloody coup that will have been responsible for your demise will have left indelible scars on you and will have made you permanently bitter and twisted. It is, unfortunately, a cross that you will have to bear once you no longer occupy that esteemed position. You will go to your grave muttering such sentences as:

‘If only they’d listened to me.’

‘History will judge me, not you bastards.’

‘In my day we wouldn’t have farted about, we’d have made a decision. We had real statesmen then – like me.’

‘When I was Prime Minister the country was in a far better state than it is now. Pass me another glass of wine.’

‘Has anybody seen my false teeth? In fact has any seen my sanity?’

The Withering

The Withering

Nobody noticed the Withering,
that all-pervading shadow
perambulating the globe
in perfect anonymity.

All the people became stretched, thinner,
hollow shells full of envy
following those that ate life,
that peddled insecurity,

the crowds that led to the familiar,
no fears, no innovation,
good ideas turned to dust
blown away to obscurity.

This was the Withering in action,
a flooding banality,
a wandering pall of grey
killing originality.

Get your stuff out there!

I’ve recently been thinking about what I do as a hobby – hobbies, actually. I write and also play music. I get great joy out of these past-times and have finished numerous projects, but recently I have realised a crucial point. There needs to be an end point in what I do, and that end point is not completing the manuscript or song – no, it goes further than that, at least for me. I have to get them published in some form or another.

I have been fortunate that a publisher did put out two of my books, although unfortunately that publisher has ceased to trade (not because of my books I hasten to add). Since then I have self-published a couple of books, and will soon be self-publishing the first two to keep them available.

Now, you may ask, why would I go and do this? Good question. Other than a likely need to be seen, it is the only way that I feel a writing project is complete. Finishing the manuscript does not cut the mustard for me – it has to see the light of day somewhere.

So, you may ask, shouldn’t you try a publisher first? The answer is, of course, if that is what you want to do. After all, a publisher can give you publicity that most self-published authors can only dream about. And I can tell you that I have two manuscripts that are now doing the rounds of the publishers. I will probably give that process a year or so. However, if it appears that this will not be successful, I will self-publish them, because then they are finished, out there to be found not mouldering away in my study or taking up space on my computer for no reason.

I am also writing songs, and hopefully this year is when I will put one or two out there into the ether on the net for general consumption.

And the reason for this? Well, I am an eternal optimist, and you never know what the future will bring. If you put your work out there, then at least people can see / hear it. Sure, you may get some criticism or unwanted opinions, but so what! If you hide your work away for fear of ridicule, then you surely will not succeed.

So put it out there if you have it. Really, what is there to lose.
Go for it.

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