Since 2007, I've sat and watched Australian politics stumble from one self-obsessed stuff-up to the next. Resulting in the revolving door prime ministerships of Rudd-Gillard-Rudd and Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison, and the rise of crackpot fringe politicians. In the past week, I stood up and took action.
It was my younger brother's idea to attend the Buddhist lesson. He said the class was in the back room of a pub, a short walk from my flat, which was handy because we were running late and my bladder felt full as we headed out the door. To save time, I decided to hold on until we got to the pub.
In 1993 my wife and I took a package trip, "Seven Nights in Moscow and St. Petersburg". Reading my travel journal, I am amazed at how much we fitted into our seven nights — it helped it was July, the northern hemisphere summer, the nights were short in Russia and the daylight hours very long.
My girlfriend and I had travelled all day to reach the small farming town of Nijemardum, in the northern Netherlands state of Friesland, to visit the parents of a former housemate. “My mother will be pleased to see you," Jan had assured me. The bewildered look on Mrs B.'s face indicated otherwise.
I met Harry when he was six months old. He was the last of his litter, hiding under a kitchen table. When the breeder dragged him out, Harry flopped his head on my leg and looked up at me with worried, brown eyes. A bond formed between us. It was more than dog and owner. Harry became my muse.
My teenage son was out for the night, so my wife lined up a British period drama movie on TV, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I loved it, though I was thankful I had a box of tissues handy. And afterwards, I was keen to read the book upon which the movie was based.
I'm posting a #bookcovers and #firstsentences series on Instagram of fiction and nonfiction from my bookcase. The posts have brought back many fond memories of dusty books I haven't read in years. And the other day I posted one of my favourite tear-jerkers, Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.
In April 2018, I published a writing tips article on Tall And True titled, Writing First Sentences. The piece was in part inspired by a homage series I have been posting to Instagram with photos of books and their opening sentences, tagged #bookcovers and #firstsentences (as @tallandtrueweb).
A friend nominated me for a Facebook challenge, the "Albums that changed your life". It also appears on social media as the "Ten album challenge", the "Pictorial music challenge", and the "Seven all-time favourite albums". Or more matter-of-factly as the "what-the-heck, I'm posting my favourites LPs!".
I started “travel writing”, recording journals of my travels when I left Australia in 1987 for two years backpacking and living abroad in England and Europe. I kept writing journals and diaries on my daily life in England and broader travels until I returned to Australia nine years later in 1996.
In their heyday, the Ian St James Awards offered the biggest fiction prize in the UK and Ireland for unpublished writers. I submitted several short stories to the awards from 1992 to 1995. None were finalists, let alone winners. But the judges' critiques inspired me to keep writing!
My son was born at 5:36 am on 2 June 2002. It had been a long night, and it was a long day (admittedly, more so for my wife!), and when I went home from the hospital that evening, it was with the surreal realisation I was a dad. I decided my first duty would be to buy a book of bedtime stories.
I once had a dream which felt so real and intense it reminded me of the 3rd-century BC Chinese Philosopher Chuang Chou, who dreamed, "I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou."
Penguin Books asked a good question on Facebook last year: Do you reread books? I've kept all my favourite books with the thought of one day rereading them. And then I start a new book, and it's added to my bookcase to read again — one day! However, there are three books I have reread at least once.
My earliest memory of The Beatles is from when I was a five-year-old. It wasn't their music, but an article in the local newspaper, with a photo of John, Paul and George hammering an oversized nail into Ringo's head. My mother tutted and told me they were silly to play with hammers and nails.
Writing can be lonely, especially if you're living on your own in a cramped flat, in another country, far away from family and friends. So when I lived in England in the early-1990s, I volunteered to work one afternoon a week at an Oxfam op shop. I needed to get out and meet and mingle with people.
I discovered Somerset Maugham in my early twenties when I borrowed a copy Of Human Bondage from a friend (which, to my shame, I never returned). The novel captivated me with its beautifully crafted tale of thwarted artistic ambition and unrequited love and sent me on a journey to read more Maughams.