Friday, January 22, 2010

Australia Day - Advance Australia Fair

Australia Day is coming (26th January) so I felt an update to the National Anthem was called for - one that encapsulated Australia as it is now rather than how it used to be.

Perhaps you'll hum along.....

Australians call out with one voice,
To all across the sea,
We value race and culture and
Rule with democracy.

   Black or white, we'll stand as one,
   So to the world we'll swear,
   To tolerate our Aussie mate,
   Advance Australia fair!

In human lives we shall not trade,
Nor human rights neglect,
We're all a part of this one world,
This globe we must protect,

   With terrorists we shall not deal,
   Nor give in to despair,
   Our calls for peace, will never cease,
   Advance Australia fair!

We've Muslims, Jews and Christians too,
Where all may choose their path,
Where elderly may walk the streets,
And little children laugh,

   Where spirits rise and friendships grow,
   Where people ever care,
   Where hate and fear are nowhere near,
   Advance Australia fair!

In joyful strains then let us sing,
"Advance Australia fair!"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just Get Over It!

You might notice, if you read blogs or comments posted to news articles and so forth, that there is a prevailing school of psychological thought providing a panacea to the worlds problems. It is the 'Get Over It' cure.

Unhappy about the abuses committed on the bodies of loved ones - well, 'get over it'.

Upset about people stealing your culture and art? - well, 'get over it'.

WWII cemetery desecrated? - well, 'get over it'.

There are three problems with this wonderful 21st century cure-all attitude of the n-lightened oxygen-starved masses of internet wisdom.

1. Because an issue has little impact on them personally, they have no consideration for those who are suffering because of it. Put simply, they lack empathy and they lack respect - two essentially qualities for building a better world.

2. It is not possible to just 'get over' things. If any of these self-appointed experts in human mental processes actually had any real insight or knowledge, then they would know that there are no issues that we can just 'get over'. Regardless of their determination or good intentions, a phobic cannot just 'get over' their fears. A depressive cannot 'get over' their depression. A carer cannot just 'get over' caring for others. It is not a choice. It is not like deciding not to watch Neighbours. Telling anyone to just 'get over' something shows up a level of ignorance which only perpetuates the mistreatment of those who are suffering.

3. Possibly the most important problem with this attitude is the hyper-egotistic assumption that the person in question should 'get over' their current problem or dilemma. In most cases, the 'problem' that they are told to 'just get over' is actually a sign of compassion in one form or another. What they are being told is to be selfish and egocentric. 'Get over it' and be like me, says the sage advisers of internet wisdom, care about no-one but yourself and stuff the rest. Seriously, is that really the sort of world we want? A world where everyone is out just for themselves without any care or consideration for others?

This fad for telling people to 'get over' things - their health issues, their ethical issues or their religious issues - comes down to one simple statement. 'Go away because I don't want to know'.

Well, for all those people out there who don't like other people having concerns about the world....... GET OVER IT!

For everyone else - Well Done!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Amazing Story of Tibetan Tim


This is an ********** story of ********** Tim and how he ******** the ************ against all the odds to ******** a victory against the *************** ***********.

********** Tim emerged one day from his makeshift home. It was a cold day but then most days were cold. The fire inside burnt bright and lit the eyes of his children as they huddled around it. His wife busied herself preparing the days meal.

It was a day like any other really - nothing much different, which was exactly how he liked it. At least, that is what he thought.

He had just walked perhaps a step or two away towards a friends home when he heard *********. He literally froze in mid step. ************ was almost unheard of, unless someone injured themselves. He looked about quickly to see the origin of the sound and made out a *************** running being pursued by a group of ***********.

The ************* were riding on horseback and they struck out at the ************ and he fell to the ground. Quickly they dismounted and beat the ************* brutally. His cries echoed about and people all rushed from their homes to see what was going on.

Several ********** from the local ************** came rushing out, their robes wafting in the wind. They rushed to the *********** and the *************** then turned on them. Although they were being ********** and ********** they did not fight back or defend themselves, just try to escape the blows. The ************ then marched one ********** over to another and gave him a *************. The language, being foreign, was not too clear but the meaning was. He had to *********** the other ************* or he would be *************.

It was a nightmare - one that they could not waken from. A nightmare that still goes on.

The *********** was crying and didn't want to ************ the ************* but they ********** and ************ at him and then he did. He collapsed on to of the ********** and then the ***************** shot him too.

Then the ************ took a bundle from one of the horses and dumped it on the ground. They laughed and rode off.

Everyone was afraid to go near it - they were frightened, but ********* Tim decided that someone had to take the risk. He unwrapped the bundle of rags to reveal a ********** very badly ********* and clearly ************. He wept for her.

*********** Tim then decided that he would do anything in his power to make people realize the *********** and ************** that was going on. So he packed up his family and undertook a mighty cross country trek to ********** where he discovered safety and security. There, he told as many people as he could about the ************ that were occurring in his homeland.

Want the whole story?
Go Here (if your country does not censor)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Work in Progress

Sometimes writers are asked about the techniques they use - how they create characters, how they devise plots - do they rewrite once? twice? a hundred times?

In order to give a small insight to the sorts of revisions that I personally put into my writing, I have decided to make a number of revisions of one particular short story public.

The story is entitled "The Dream of Ernst Meyer".

So far it has been through about five revisions - more will probably come. By clicking on the links below you can follow each revision as well as see some of the comments that others have left against each.

Perhaps this may inspire you to revise, revise and revise.

The Dream of Ernst Meyer

The Dream of Ernst Meyer - Revision 1
The Dream of Ernst Meyer - Revision 2
The Dream of Ernst Meyer - Revision 4
The Dream of Ernst Meyer - Revision 5
The Dream of Ernst Meyer - Revision 6

In many ways, the story is never finished.

That's what writing is all about.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A Death at Christmas

A Christmas Story - but with a difference.

The old man sat on the edge of his bed and belched loudly. There were exactly one hundred and fifty-eight unopened bottles of port on the floor, each one silently screaming at him to drink them. The hundred and fifty-ninth stood almost empty on a table beside the bed and whispered 'finish me' to him - over and over and over. He obeyed, pouring the remainder of the bottle into the biological wine glass of his mouth. He gulped it down. He hated port but then he pretty well hated everything right now.

He put the empty bottle on the floor carefully, next to two others. It had taken him seventeen years to drink the first bottle and less than seventeen minutes to drink the last one. But nauseating as it had been, it had done its job - done its job admirably in fact. He now had enough courage to do what needed to be done. He looked at the other bottle which stood on the table. He couldn't see the label - in his condition he could barely see the bottle - but he knew its contents. It was full of sleeping tablets, guarenteed to give you a good rest. That was what he wanted now - a good rest. A permanent rest. The Big Sleep. That was why he'd needed the port. He didn't have the guts to take them sober.

In actual fact, he did have the guts because he was extremely fat. What he lacked, when sober, was the courage to take the tablets. Guts, he reflected with one eyebrow cocked in amusement, was something he had never been short of. Guts, in fact, had been one of his trademarks. Even now - now that he was washed up, now that he was a total failure - he still had guts to be proud of. No, it was courage he lacked. At least, that was what he lacked when sober. But now.....

He was about to pick up the bottle when he remembered his promise. He could break that, he thought. It had been a stupid idea anyway. And it was a promise by a failure to a failure - himself. No, he could forget that promise.

Only he couldn't forget that promise. He had always been a man of honour - a man of his word. He had always kept his promises - he had always delivered. It was another of his trademarks. He wrestled with the thought for a moment or two, then put the bottle back on the table. No, a promise was a promise - even if it was just to himself. He had made it and he should keep it. Before he gave up completely and took the tablets, he would give them a call. That was what he promised himself before he'd drunk the port, and even failures have got their honour.

He fished in the bed for his mobile phone. He found and flicked it open. It seemed to waver in front of his eyes, so he shut them tightly then opened them again. A little better. He did it again. Success. He could see the keypad. Slowly and very carefully he typed in a number and put the phone to his ear. After a couple of seconds he heard it ring at the other end. Twice the tone went and he almost put it down. Almost. But then someone answered.

"Hello - you have called Crisis Line. My name is Jane. Tell me about your problem".

The voice was soothing.

"Well" began the old man. "I guess I'm a failure" he said quietly.

"Now I'm sure that's not true, but tell me why you think it could be" said Jane.

"You see I dedicated my whole life to my children. To making them happy" he said. A tear ran down one cheek. "But now it's come to an end. No one likes me - they won't even let me give them presents" said the old man and sobbed quietly.

"Are these children your family?" asked Jane sympathetically.

The old man took a deep breath and said "No. I have no family. I'm all alone. I just like to make children happy, so I give them presents."

Jane made a note in her book on mandatory reporting.

"So who doesn't like you?" she asked.

"Everyone. No one" he said - a little confused and certainly still somewhat drunk. "The church lot for example. They say I'm evil. Some of them used to love me - I gave some of them presents too when they were children. But now, they hate me. I'm a bad influence, they say. I am un-christian, un-islam, un-jewish. You name it - they all want to be rid of me - for the childrens' sake they say."

Jane made another note in her book on mandatory reporting and signalled her supervisor to come over.

"Even the schools and kindergartens are against me now. I mean what's the harm in sitting the kiddies on my lap and give them toys? They say people might be offended. Offended?" he felt hurt and angry at the word. "How can bringing pleasure to little children be offensive" he asked loudly. But then he apologised. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to yell. It's not your fault - you are trying to help" he said.

Jane's supervisor had picked up a headset and locked into the call too. He exchanged knowing and suspicious glances with Jane.

"Tell me" said Jane. "You like children do you?".

The old man's eyes lit up. "Yes" he said. "They are wonderful. Full of innocence and hope. I love to see them happy". His face clouded over for a moment, then darkened. "But no-one else seems to want them to be happy. They just want to keep me away from them. And I can't bare it." He broke down and cried.

Jane and her supervisor both scribbled in their individual books on mandatory reporting.

"And I've just had this letter" said the old man. "It came today. It says I have to get a police check or I can't even see the children. It's the law, it says. A police check. And I can't do it. I can't. It's over. My life is over" and he broke down and cried again.

"Why not?" asked Jane, but there was no trace of sympathy in her voice now. "Why can't you - what are you afraid of?"

The old man said nothing.

"Well?" asked Jane demandingly. "What have you got to hide then? Got some special secrets have we?" she asked accusingly.

Father Christmas pressed the hang up button. What was the use? He'd kept his promise - he'd tried. But it was no use. He knew it would be no use - but he'd kept his promise and tried. How could he get a police check? He thought about the form they'd sent him laughed a humourless laugh. It was ridiculous. Name - Father Christmas. Address - the North Pole. Family - Reindeers and Elves. Purpose of Request - To visit children in the middle of the night while they slept and give them suprises. How could he put that down? They really would think he was a pervert.

He let the phone drop to the floor and picked up the sleeping pills. After a few minutes he threw the bottle to the floor in exasperation. Those childproof caps were a menace, he thought. He fell to his knees and crawled over to the bottle. He picked it up again and this time he brought it down upon the floor with his hand. It smashed. He looked, hazily, at the broken glass and the pills weaving about each other. No matter. A little glass might quicken the process he thought.

He was just about to scoop the whole lot up when there was a knock on the door. It's quite suprising how something very unexpected - even impossible - can sober you up. Father Christmas swept the broken glass and the pills under his bed quickly, stood up, and went to the door. There came more knocking - urgent knocking. No-one came to visit you at the North Pole - but someone had and they were in a hurry.

He opened the door. A large rabbit, about six foot high, stood there covered in snow. "About time" said the rabbit. "I thought you were dead" and it pushed past him into the warm. He closed the door after it.

"I nearly was" said Father Christmas soberly.

The rabbit looked concerned. "I was afraid you'd try something like that. So I came over. I brought some port" he said and then, noticing the bottles on the floor, added "but mine's non-alcoholic. Come on. I've got a couple of chocolate eggs left - we'll share them".

So the Easter Bunny and Father Christmas sat feasting on easter eggs and non-alcoholic port. And for at least one more night, hope remained for the Spirit of Christmas to triumph over the strangulation of red tape.