JITTERY. 16-down, "Nervous or unable to relax (7)". Loud voices in the street drown out the TV. I put down my crossword, walk to the front window and part the curtains. They're at it again, the neighbours across the way. I can see them pointing and shouting at each other under the pale street lights.
In 2016, I took part in the 22 Pushup Challenge, 22 days of 22 pushups, with each day’s effort posted to Facebook. The goal was to raise awareness of the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) on returned service personnel. At the start, I struggled to do 22 pushups and knew little about PTSD.
Life began at forty for me. Obviously, I’d had a life before my fortieth. I’d travelled and lived overseas, changed careers (several times), got married (once), bought cars and property, and owned a dog. But the birth of my son in 2002 changed everything for me. And I learned the joy of being a dad.
"Right-o, can everyone hear and see me?" asked Julian, who, as leader of the Five, had scheduled the Zoom meeting. "Yes," his brother Dick beamed back, "splendid stuff!" Cousin George responded with a curt nod of her short-cropped head. "Woof!" "Timmy likes it, too," chipped in Julian's sister Anne.
Elliot parked at the side of the road close to the beach. He grabbed a brown-bagged mini-bottle of tequila and the salt shaker and lemon he'd pinched from the restaurant where he worked as a kitchen-hand. "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" was on the radio. Elliot turned it up loud to hear it over the breaking waves.
Bad News (England, 1993): The evening news was depressing—all bad as usual—and the weekend weather looked just as gloomy. I got up and went to the kitchen. "Do you want another wine?" I called back to my wife. No response. I'd swear she's going deaf, but she hears everything I mutter under my breath.
The writer John Banville observed, "Memory is imagination, and imagination is memory. I don't think we remember the past, we imagine it." I have vivid memories of my early childhood (I believe they're memories, not imagination), which is why the #5YearOldSelfie challenge on social media caught my eye.
It was a flight of fancy, inspired by a newspaper ad: "Moscow and St. Petersburg, 7 nights with Jules Verne Travel". It sounded exotic, impossible. But this was 1993, Leningrad was St. Petersburg again, Boris Yeltsin was Russian President, Russia was opening up. Glasnost made all things seem possible.
Beneath the Willow opens with a prologue set in rural NSW in 1953. It is a dark scene of fear and domestic violence. The novel then steps back in time and place to the working class suburb of Balmain in 1915. Australia is at war in foreign lands and sons of families have answered her call to arms.
With the spread of the Internet, PCs and digital devices, and DIY websites, blogs and ebooks, the barriers to publishing are lower than ever before. However, the barrier between writing and good writing remains high. With the Mini Style Guide on your desk, you can be a good writer and a good editor!
It is Christmas Day 1994 at Bilgoa Beach on Sydney’s northern beaches. A "pink shouldered" Charlie Bright is pacing up and down on the sand at the water's edge, "like a coach on the touchline", calling out to his children, mastering their sleek new Christmas present surfboards on the waves.