A Bunch of Flowers

There is something special about a bunch of flowers. I’ve been in so many dull rooms that have been hugely lifted by the simple act of placing flowers in them. The dullest of small apartments can feel ‘happy’ with such a small addition. If you get a good florist, and at this point I’ll plug my local florist Evergreen Florist in Dianella, Perth who do awesome colour arrangements, then you can bring vibrancy to wherever you live and also wherever you work. So many offices lack any colour or soul and yet it’s so simple to remedy this.

You can also give a bunch of flowers to brighten up someone’s day. I don’t know anybody who would not be uplifted by this gesture. It may be a cliché to send your partner some flowers but, like most clichés, there is reason that it is so popular. The scent and colour of a bunch of roses can take the sting out of most disasters. A bunch of flowers says that you care and you’re thinking of somebody.

When I was recently in London there was a florist, The London Flower Shop on Long Lane, just down from where we were staying. It was selling single stems rather than bunches and I wondered why. Perhaps because there were so many small flats nearby and people might not be able to afford a big bunch. But even a single flower carefully placed in a room brings happiness and light. The young lady in this shop fussed over us and put us together a small bunch that brightened up our apartment. She also made sure that we got flowers that hadn’t fully opened so they lasted longer – and we were able to pass them on to my aunt after a week. When we left England two weeks later that same bunch of flowers was brightening up another small apartment and still going strong.

It’s just one of the many small things often overlooked or taken for granted that makes a real difference and can lift people up.

An Avoidable Legacy – just a short poem

An Avoidable Legacy

I saw the council’s plans
I saw the structures height
I saw the shadows to be cast
I saw the future fight
I saw the council vote
I saw the final score
I saw the twenty stories built
Eyesore! Eyesore! Eyesore!

Four-wheel drives and SUVs

I need to get something off my chest. Why are there so many four-wheel drives in the city? What is the chance of getting bogged on the school-run? Come pick-up time at many suburban schools in Perth, and I’m sure other cities too, there is a queue of these cars. I’ve seen them at traffic lights, ten in a row, all full of school kids and never to be allowed to claim their birthright of actual four-wheel driving. Is this really what they are for? Sadly it seems that the answer is, yes. Did you know that over in Brisbane some guy even sold fake mud to splatter your vehicle with so that it looked like you’d been out bush? I’m serious about that. It is how shallow and desperate some of these people are.
And yet another thing!
These vehicles are stacked full of electronics and fancy gadgets, most which wouldn’t survive six months of real exploration work. Can you imagine the conversation when you break down half way across the Tanami Desert?
Technician: ‘Hi there. How can I help you?’
Field Assistant: ‘I’ve broken down and I want some advice on how to fix my engine.’
Technician: ‘I’m afraid you need a powerful laptop computer and an advanced degree in electronic engineering before you should even open the bonnet. I should also advise you that if you fiddle around with it you’ll lose your warrantee cover. You should take it to your nearest licensed repairer.’
Field Assistant: ‘But I’m in the middle of the Tanami Desert doing gold exploration!’
Technician: ‘Why on earth did you take it out there? They’re very fragile things you know, what with all the delicate electronics.’
Field Assistant: ‘Well, it’s a four-wheel drive isn’t it? Isn’t that what they’re for?’
Technician: ‘Good heavens no! Nobody even engages the four-wheel drive anymore. I don’t think they even include it; they just put the markings on the gear stick as a sort of status symbol. I thought everybody knew that.’

Okay – I’ve got that off my chest!

Prologue to my new novel – The Dunnyfunter

This is the intro to a short novel (about 50 000 words), which I am in the process of finishing off. Enjoy. I might some more up later on.

Prologue

Crowley flinched as the pile of files on the desk above exploded, showering him with glowing slivers of paper. They’d found a bazooka! The open-plan office provided very little cover from such weapons.  He glanced at one of the glowing embers as it drifted past. At least it had only been a business management file. Nothing important. The smell of smouldering documents filled his nostrils. It was a welcome relief from the smell of burning flesh.

He looked across to where his second-in-command, Leah, was sheltering in the photocopier room, just in time to see her duck back as bullets took chunks out of the wooden-framed wall. Jagged splinters rattled against his desk and showered the legs of whoever was lying under the wreckage of the filing compactus oozing blood. That wouldn’t have been a nice way to go.

‘Where’s Dan?’ he yelled above the rat-a-tat of gunfire.

‘No idea,’ she screamed. ‘Haven’t seen him for half-an-hour.’

He nodded. Dan, the Commander, had disappeared very quickly once it became apparent that things were going badly. Bastard!

They’d been locked in a struggle with Human Resources for the last two days as they both tried to gain control of the floor. And they’d been holding their own too, until Finance had decided to take sides and joined with HR. That had made things tough, but when Business Development and Policy jumped in as well the writing was on the wall – Mining Branch was in deep trouble. That was probably when Dan had done his disappearing act. The man had no stomach for a fight. Soon, the only way out would be the fire escape.

Just then, Martin came crashing through from the filing room, landing in a heap beside Crowley. Martin was a survivor. It didn’t matter what had been thrown at him, Martin had always come through it relatively unscathed. He was approaching retirement age and was still very healthy and active, but seemingly incapable of contributing anymore. Crowley wondered why he even carried a gun. He hadn’t fired it for ages, choosing instead to cower behind the piles of paperwork. In fact, he couldn’t remember the last time Martin had done anything useful at all. Martin looked up at Crowley.

‘A bit tricky in here at the moment. A bit inspiration wouldn’t go amiss. They haven’t trained me for this sort of stuff.’

Crowley resisted the urge to punch him. He needed all the help he could get – even from Martin.

‘Didn’t I send you off to get reinforcements? How did that go? And where have you been?’

Martin looked back at him and just said:

‘I…er…I…er…must have got lost.’

Crowley sighed before closing his eyes and counting to ten. Then, with what he knew sounded like forced optimism, said:

‘Come on Martin. Let’s see if we can give them a bloody nose.’

He tried to smile and sound courageous, but the moment was ruined when he flinched as another nearby explosion left him half-deaf, all sound now coming through muffled, like there was cotton wool in his ears. Then a bazooka took out the filing cabinet behind them, showering him with stinging drops of molten aluminium and razor sharp shrapnel, some of which buried itself in his thigh.  A couple of new fires sprang up in the tinder dry piles of files. Crowley felt his trousers and then looked at his hand. There was blood.

‘Bollocks!’

Martin gave him a look of terror. ‘I’m out of here,’ he screamed, before bolting to the fire exit.

Leah yelled after him. ‘You little shit. Show some backbone!’

There was a momentary lapse in the barrage; perhaps they were bringing up a howitzer or something equality devastating, to finish them off once and for all. As he lay there enjoying the silence Crowley surveyed the wreckage strewn all around them. ‘Where’s everybody else?’

‘We’re it. They’ve either taken the rest prisoner or got rid of them.’

‘Even Vijay?’

Crowley and Leah ducked as another explosion rocked the room and the fire exit door dissolved in a fiery demise. The barrage started once more.

‘Yeah, took him prisoner, she said, and then added, ‘I think they’ve got a second bazooka.’

Crowley nodded.

Just then, Graham crawled out from beneath the ruins of his desk, shrugging off cables and cords.

‘Shit! That sounded bad.’

‘Where have you been?’ asked Leah.

‘I dunno,’ he said as he rubbed at the back of his head, ‘I must have beenI must have been knocked out. The last thing I remember is taking aim at one of the HR Officers and then nothing. But I do have this huge lump on the back of my head.’

Crowley grinned. ‘You’ll get another chance soon, son. I think we’re all that’s left now.’

‘What do you think we should do?’ Leah asked as she huddled out of sight as best she could.

Crowley sighed. ‘Well, it looks like we’re well and truly fucked. I reckon I can hear Policy coming up the fire escape, so there’s no way out there. It’s just like them to wait until the outcome is pretty much certain before actually getting involved. Wankers!’

He sat down for a minute occasionally twitching in response to bullets zipping past and nearby bazooka blasts before he came to a decision.

‘I think we’ve got to either surrender or take them all on in one final stand,’ he said.

‘I’m not giving in to HR and Finance,’ Leah told him. ‘Fuck that.’

‘What about you, Graham?’

‘No way, especially if those policy bastards are in on it as well. I’d rather die.’

‘Fair enough. It’s one last death-or-glory charge then. Are you ready?’

They both nodded.

‘Okay then, let’s go!’

Crowley leapt to his feet and charged down the central corridor closely followed by the other two, all of them firing their machine-guns indiscriminately. They ran into the combined firepower of all of the other departments meeting a hail of bullets and bazooka shells.

Crowley screamed in defiance and then everything went dark.

‘Paul! Paul! Wake up Paul!’

Crowley opened his eyes and tried to focus. Eventually he saw Narelle, his wife, sitting over him. She was shaking him.

‘What were you dreaming about? And why were you yelling, die you motherfuckers?’

He tried to focus for a few moments while his brain reset itself.

‘Dream? You mean nightmare. I was leading a futile final charge against the combined forces of HR, Finance, Policy, and Business Development.’

She looked at him steadily for a moment and then shook her head.

‘Oh, go back to sleep, will you. And try not to have any more nightmares. You scared the shit out of me. You need a new job.’

Then she turned over and ignored him.

Crowley lay there in the dark for a while remembering his dream. Perhaps taking a gun to work wasn’t such a bad idea – well, perhaps not. Anyway, tomorrow was the first Monday back after the Christmas break, and just maybe this year wouldn’t be so bad.

When She Sings

I wrote this after a Cyndi Lauper concert in 2011…

When She Sings

When she sings
I just float away
Glide upon her voice
Soar for yet another day

When she sings
In her soothing honeyed tones
Time after time
She seeps into my very bones

When she sings
I’m a child with one more brand new toy
She sets me free
To surf a wave of perfect joy.

When she sings
I can be where I want to be
When she sings
The sun shines down on me
When she sings

Handsome Strangers

I have been fortunate enough to get another poem published – this time in Snakeskin – many thanks George. For more fantastic poetry follow this link to Snakeskin.

http://www.simmers1.webspace.virginmedia.com/

Handsome Strangers

My wife often talks to handsome strangers
by mistake;
she doesn’t see very well.
Perhaps it’s partly my fault too,
walking off at random
leaving her alone.
She has some very interesting conversations.

Take a Look at a Painting

Have you ever looked at painting – I mean really looked closely? Examined the brush strokes up close? Looked at the colours and the different shades within each part of the picture? It doesn’t really matter what the picture is, although I must admit that I am quite partial to landscape, it’s how the artist has meticulous constructed his painting, his vision.

Stand back from the canvas and then stand back further. As you move back, the individual brush strokes lose their coarseness and start to smooth out to produce an even shade, and as you move back further the form of the image starts to become clear. The green shades magically become a field, and the blue the sky, or perhaps a lake – a bit plastic perhaps, but that change as you move back further.

Then the picture starts to gain life and depth. The colours no longer look uniform; you can see the subtle differences and shades. The pale bits in the sky suddenly become clouds and the trees have leaves. A little bit further back and there is movement. You can see that there is a breeze blowing from left to right and leaves on the trees look like they are in mid-sway. The smudge of yellow in the field is somebody’s hat, and the pale red is the shirt of her companion.

This is the magic of a painting. On their own the brushstrokes are simply a line of paint on a piece of canvas. But the artist has, through clever use of colour and an eye for the texture of their subject, made a group of colours into a picture that can draw you in and let you almost feel the scene in front of you. This is an awesome talent.

It doesn’t matter if it’s Lenoardo da Vinci, Reubens, Van Gogh, Monet, or Joe Bloggs from up the road who’s never been heard of. They have the talent, and seeing it is one of the great joys of life.

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