Category Archives: Books, Music and Films

#90 Hold a Reunion Entrée prior to a Reunion Luncheon

And so it came to pass that the great School Reunion Luncheon of 2020, the very one for which I’d lovingly reconditioned my old school dolls (blog post #86) fell victim to Covid-19.

There’s to be no 50-year school reunion this year, and based on our ages, it may be some time before it’s safe for us to travel, or mingle, again.

Perhaps we should

#90 Hold a Reunion Entrée prior to a Reunion Luncheon

to stave off reunion hunger.

When it became clear in March that the May celebration wouldn’t be happening, a member of our class of 1970 emailed us all:Alas, the conversation went nowhere.  It appeared that no-one was “tech savvy” nor were they keen, nor able, which was probably just as well. Can you imagine the horror of a Zoom meeting, wrangling forty old school chums who hadn’t seen each other for fifty years?

As an alternative, I threw out the idea of creating an electronic “Reunion Book”, where everyone who’s interested provides information about their life in the intervening fifty years, replete with photos, old and new for compilation and dissemination.

Which is how the production of the great School Reunion Book of 2020 fell to me. Questionnaires were sent out and duly returned. Dozens of old school photos arrived and the great task began.

It was then I discovered that emailing a book that has loads of photographs is … well … impossible. Way too many megabytes. Sharing the document via Dropbox was recommended as a way around this, but my experience with that particular program was still painful after it lost a couple of chapters of my novel. To my relief, it turned out that the class of 1970 is a cohort of women who don’t engage comfortably with computers. Not Dropbox then.

Trial and error led me to the realisation that pasting all documents into Microsoft Word’s ‘Trip Journal’ …

rather than the usual blank document, might be the solution.

By then dividing this into three volumes, and saving each of these volumes as a PDF (for export), it was possible to reduce over 150 megabytes of data down to a mere seven, which could be emailed back to everyone. The things you can learn late in life!

Volume One showcased all the formal school class photos we could muster, beginning with an adorable class of infants in 1958…

through the challenging mid teens …

                                                                               where did all the boys go?!

until we turned into responsible prefects …

Volume Two held all our life stories and current photos, outlining in more—or less— detail what we’d been up to since leaving school. Hearing so many tales about the boarders’ homesickness made me realise that it hadn’t been the jolly hockey sticks and midnight feasts that we day-scholars assumed.

One of my classmates wrote a particularly poignant remembrance of being left by her parents at boarding school for the first time:

Standing inside the front door there’s just the dark silhouette, the two of them walking out and away from the front door. It was a large sturdy heavy wooden door that easily glided open and glided shut, with a click. It was a ‘characterful’ door, stained glass in the top half of it and/or either side of it. As the two of them walk away there’s the dull realisation that you are staying … 

Another story recalled those mortifying moments of adolescence:

I’ll never forget that school concert when our Latin Class had to sing My Darling Clementine in Latin—“Oh Divina Clementina”—dressed in togas and holding scrolls, (you couldn’t make this up, could you?) and my toga fell off in mid song. There’s no coming back from that. 

Volume Three contained all the unofficial photographs people managed to dig out of storage—long forgotten school picnic days, a class trip to Tasmania in 1969, and several ‘formals’ held with the boys from our brother school.

I only recall these dances as a vaseline blur. We all knew that ‘men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses’ so I’d refuse to wear my much needed spectacles on these occasions, which meant I had no idea if the aforementioned ‘men’ had me in their sights or not. The events were terrifying.

Well over half the class contributed to the Reunion Book, and we realise that when we do meet up IRL, we’ll be able to hit the ground running. No awkward, ‘And where are you living, now?’ or ‘Do you have grandchildren?’

Nothing of the sort. Now we know each other well enough to cut straight to the chase. I can’t wait to find out from Sarah* what it was like to run a chalet in Austria, or ask Marilyn* to give me some tips from the head of the Sogetsu school for Flower Arrangement after her years spent translating in Osaka, or quiz Barbara* about the archeological digs she enjoyed with her husband.

A delicious entrée. I can’t wait for the main course.

*Not their real names, but definitely their real lives

 

 

 

#87 Plan for “The Year of Living Safely”

The longer I’ve lived, the more the years have merged into each other, especially since ceasing work.

So if you were to ask me what I got up to in, say, 2013, I really wouldn’t have a clue unless I checked my photos and bank statements.

Today, I’m taking the bold step of predicting that in the future, not one child or adult living on earth at this moment will ever forget what they were doing in 2020.


My generation has been lucky enough to miss a World War, and life has been mostly smooth sailing for us. That is, until a novel Coronavirus reared its ugly little genetic parcel of RNA and decided to inflict Covid-19 on the world.

Time to

#87 Plan for “The Year of Living Safely”

It’s going to be extremely tough for so many people, as jobs dry up, money disappears into the ether, and our lives are physically restricted. But maybe we should be relieved that no one is dropping bombs on us, there are unlikely to be food shortages, and no mastermind is trying to exterminate an entire race or entire religion. Even if we have to stay home for a year, if we help and support each other, we can probably muddle through somehow.

Remember,


Planning for the next however-many months of my life at home has made me realise that the past 7+ years of writing this blog has been the perfect preparation. Embarrassingly, I’ve discovered that my life in retirement has been almost entirely home-based. (I saw a meme once that suggested the trajectory of your life is determined by the song that was top of the hit parade in your country on your 14th birthday. Mine was Tom Jones’ Green, Green Grass of Home!)

So rather than re-invent the wheel, I’ve prepared a reminder of some of the fun and frivolous (and generally inexpensive) activities previously featured in this blog. As we’re urged to restrict our shopping, a few of them may need tweaking, but they’re all amenable to this.

A few other ideas spring to mind now, such as ‘Learn how to cut your own hair’ or ‘Move the furniture around to pretend you’ve renovated’. But I’ll leave other, more qualified, people to give tips on exercising-in-situ, virtual travel and the best books to read.

Meanwhile, stay safe and please, for the sake of our wonderful health professionals, as well as all our fellow travellers, stay home!

#85 Take a Book Blog Tour

For someone who wrote a novel about the risks of embracing social media when you’re not sure what you’re doing, I initially wondered why I chose this latest activity.

As an extension to my somewhat shaky adventure, #77 Learn the Art of Successful Marketing, my sister and I decided we needed the help of a real marketer to work on promoting our novel, Secrets of the IN-group. Which is how we came to:

#85 Take a Book Blog Tour

To explain what a book blog tour is (and I’m only fully understanding it now it’s over), it’s a method of introducing your book to potential readers right around the world without leaving home. Most appealing.

It works like this: the marketing expert we employed hires a ‘middleman’ (or in this case, ‘middlewoman’) called Goddess Fish,

an on-line promoter with a stable full of social-media-savvy book-bloggers who each have hundreds, if not thousands, of followers.

Any one of these book-bloggers will agree to showcase a new novel on a chosen date. When Goddess Fish Promotions can lock in 10 or more separate book-bloggers for 10 consecutive dates, we, as the authors, provide them with all the material they’ll need to showcase the book over the ten day “virtual tour”. Photos, excerpts, deleted scenes, anything that may be of interest to a prospective reader and tell them more about us and our writing.

The material we provide has to be different for each book-blogger, so that visitors to the sites can take in the whole tour if they want and learn about different aspects of the book each day. As an incentive, they can also enter a raffle at each stop along the way.

To our surprise and delight, in next to no time we were told a 10-day tour spot was available, and were presented with several book-blog sites, all with intriguing-sounding names:

Rogue’s Angels
It’s Raining Books
Mythical Books
Fabulous and Brunette
Viviana MacKade
All the Ups and Downs
Locks, Hooks and Books
Musings from an Addicted Reader
Andi’s Book Reviews
Harlie’s Books
Long and Short Reviews

lt was only when an email from our marketing expert arrived on Christmas Eve that we discovered the “tour” would commence on January 13th and we’d need to prepare all the information for the eleven different posts we’d been given by January 6th.

I suspect we were the only people who’d spend the entire period from Christmas Eve to January 6th preparing their material.


As the sites we were offered on this tour are located in the USA, we rushed to the first listed website late on January 13th AEST, with the anticipation of children on Christmas morning.

To our surprise, our not-particularly-romantic novel was sited next to an array of advertisements for … um, slightly different types of books:

Only then did we wonder if our novel would have any appeal whatsoever to the readers following this particular book-blogger.

At least the post drew an immediate response from one of our friends:

She was joshing of course. She knew exactly where to look.

Over the next few days, though, the other sites gave us the opportunity to showcase different aspects of the book, such as which covers we considered before the final one was chosen: 


The giveaways associated with the websites involved completing a ‘Rafflecopter’ entry form for a chance to win, and as everyone knows, a Rafflecopter is nothing more than a widget that enables websites to embed entry forms in their pages.

By this stage, we wondered if, like the women in Secrets of the IN-group, we were in way over our heads.

It was as if we were being given a brief glimpse of another universe, one running parallel to the one we inhabit, but understood and appreciated only by people under forty.

But as the tour, and our knowledge, evolved, it got better and better. We were able to answer questions from readers and engage with them immediately. When one book-blogger gave the book a great review, and mentioned how excited she was that a central character in our novel— Andrea—shared her name, we relaxed and realised that a virtual tour was easily as good as a real one.

It’s also resulted in a multitude of readers posting to Goodreads that the book is now on their “to read” list.

You can’t ask for more than that.

#77 Learn the Art of Successful Marketing

How good is Marketing?

I’ve been persuaded from recent Australian events that marketing works in miraculous ways, even if what’s being sold appears to be a pretty uninspiring product.

The other lesson I’ve learned is that money isn’t the important issue in marketing. Know-how is. I’ve heard you can spend upward of $60M on advertising and still end up a loser.

So because my sister and I now have a novel—Secrets of the IN-groupto sell, these revelations have naturally inspired me to

#77 Learn the Art of Successful Marketing

If it works for a very mediocre product, how much better would results be for a more appealing one?

And it follows, of course, that if we have a go [at marketing], we’ll get a go [at fabulous sales].

So I turned to Google to learn the basics of Marketing.

Choices, choices:
My immediate preference was, of course, to go straight to the site called “Skip Marketing 101 and read this instead”. I’m beginning to understand that clever marketing is quite devious, because after I’d done an in-depth study of their eight important rules for successful marketing, I realised they sounded exactly like the eight rules on every other Marketing 101 site I’d passed over in my haste to use this one.

So here they are, plus my attempts to follow each tip.

1. Not Marketing is Not an Option
Okay, this is a given. Who believed that Kevin Costner film claiming that “if you build it, he will come”? As if.

2. On-line display advertising can have a big impact for little cost
Sounds good, but does this work for just the one book? Possibly best to target websites that reach women-of-a-certain-age—who are looking for an up-lit read. It sounds like more research might be needed to find out where to best position our advertising.

On the other hand, sending out short press releases to the local newspaper and radio does work wonders. We scored a couple of interviews and a photo plus advertising for the local bookshops stocking the book.

 3. Play on people’s love of events
This one’s turning out to be true so far. We did a U3A talk framed like the ABC’s programme “You can’t ask that” and it went very well. The questions: “How did you not kill each other during the writing?” and “Are you two still talking to each other?” seemed popular, so we’ll be doing more of these.

4.Make the most of your website
I’m trying to. At this very minute …

But it looks like I’ll have to sort out how on earth I post details about purchasing the book at the top of every blog entry from now on.

In the meantime, if you’d like to buy a print book in Australia but can’t easily access one from your local bookstore or on-line, just email us on regal.525@gmail.com and we’ll get back to you to arrange it.

4.Email marketing is the new direct mail
Because we all love getting unsolicited emails, don’t we? And isn’t getting in touch with long lost friends just to promote your book a bit … icky?

I’m learning you need thick skin to be a really successful marketer.

 6. Social media is the new word of mouth
I know this deep down, but posting the book’s cover on my Instagram feed garnered all of eight Likes, tweeting about it scored just one Like—and the idea of actually using Facebook horrifies me. I guess this tip helps the most if you already have a large social media presence.
Perhaps the fact that our book is about how older women don’t feel entirely comfortable using social media should’ve been a giveaway that this strategy wasn’t going to be the best for us …

7. Win with loyalty rewards
Sure, why not. Here’s an offer no person can refuse. Buy nine of our books and get the tenth one free!!

Oh, hang on. Who’d want 10 copies of the same book?

8. Build a network of relationships

Aargh!! Marketing-speak! Get me out of here.


What this activity has taught me is that I have a new-found, grudging respect for the successful marketers out there.

It’s not as easy as I thought …

 

 

 

 

 

#76 Write a Novel

Way back in December 2014, in blog #24, I discussed the fun of attending the Albury launch of my sister’s middle-grade book Stand Up and Cheer. It’s a novel about the daring rescue of the Dutch plane, the Uiver, by the citizens of Albury during the Great Centenary Air Race of 1934 told through the eyes of an intrepid ten year old.

By the time the book’s second launch occurred in Sydney in early 2015, I’d decided that this book-writing caper seemed like a jolly lark, and I wouldn’t mind having a go at it myself. Sensibly, I asked my sister if she’d like to join me and write together.

With the benefit of hindsight, it was a crazy undertaking. Had I known it would take four years from beginning to end, and that retired ladies in a regional city, writing about other similarly-aged ladies in a regional city, would have as much appeal to young publishers as we do to powerful, wealthy men, I may have hesitated.

But I did not know this, and so I innocently decided to

#76 Write a Novel  

To be truthful, the writing only took us two years and 9 months. It took another 12 months of submitting the manuscript far and wide to realise that it was never going to move beyond a publisher’s slush pile.

The name’s a giveaway, really.

Does this look like something you’d enjoy wading through?

Enter indie publishing, a way to bypass established publishers who actually pay you to take on your book, who do all the work, and might, if you’re lucky and/or famous, and/or have an agent, give you an advance. In cold, hard cash. They’ll distribute your books all around the country, too, and even overseas. And they’ll help promote you.

Indie publishing, on the other hand, enables you to hire someone who knows the ropes and who’ll help you—for a fee—publish eBooks and paperback books that will be available on line. Going indie has the bonus of giving you complete control over the finished product: the look, the size, the cost, the cover, the print run, and of course, the quantum of financial loss you can bear. And it also gives you the chance to become a marketer, a distributor, a self promoter and all those things that anyone who writes, and is therefore most likely to be an introvert, truly dislikes.

But on the plus side, it can all be done in under three months.

So that’s what we did.

And after four long years, we’ve ended up with a real book with a cover that looks like this:

                                                              Superb design by Christa Moffitt 

and a story that can be summarised thus:

Twitter? … WhatsApp? … Tumblr?

Six women in the riverside city of Albury  realise that, without social media skills, they’re staring irrelevancy in the face. Their book club won’t cut it any more. Time to go virtual.
But their decision to plunge into the on-line world brings horrifying revelations and unexpected outcomes. Friendships, new and old, are tested and their lives teeter on the edge of collapse. They must navigate a path through the chaos, but who exactly can they trust?

A small town
A world wide web
Is the net really a friend?


So if you’ve enjoyed reading this blog over the past six and a half years and would be interested in moving on to Contemporary Women’s Fiction written by the same author, but one whose writing has been markedly improved by having a second, better author join her, Secrets of the IN-group is now available.

It’s published by Resisters and will be officially released on May 2:

(Resisters. That’s us!)

You can order an eBook or print copy at Amazon or Booktopia or find other eBook retailers on books2read.

If you live locally, Dymocks in Albury is stocking it, as well as Beechworth Books and Collins Booksellers in WaggaWagga.  Perfectly timed for Mother’s Day.

Should you enjoy it, please do tell your friends …

and we’ll cherish you for life if you post a positive review on Goodreads.

Featured image from Gladys Peto’s Told in the Gloaming published by John F Shaw & Co Ltd London, circa 1920
Resisters Logo designed by Laura Pike

#66 Sing in a Karaoke Choir

According to a study published in The Conversation last year, a shared song – “our song” – is the musical glue that binds friends and lovers. And because neuroimaging research shows that music provides a “super stimulus” for the brain, a spot of group singing with good friends would be a no-brainer, surely?

However, despite an ability to read music and play the piano, I cannot, to save my life, sing in tune.

But what if I could perform in a choir, accompanied by the original artist? Mightn’t my tuneless warblings be drowned out in such a scenario? Couldn’t I pretend that I, too had a voice?

#66 Sing in a Karaoke Choir 

Fortunately, I have a small cinema at home –  called Cinema X –  that can double up as a tiny auditorium if needed. It has lovely views over the garden when the dark curtains are drawn back, allowing light in. Ideal for a spot of communal singing.

There’s a large television in the room, and because a clever young person showed me how to ‘cast’ from my iPad to the screen using a special connection, it’s possible to find any artist on YouTube and project it onto the television. The excellent surround sound is an added bonus.

So all I needed now was a willing choir. And a program.

Enter my friends from Discovery Group. We’ve been meeting regularly for years now, and each month we try out a new activity.

All I’d have to do was ask each person who was able to attend to provide me with a list of their two or three all-time favourite songs and bingo, we’d have a program.

Hmm. Easier said than done.

Many found it extremely difficult to limit their favourites to a mere three songs, so the lists I began to receive via email grew … and grew … and grew.

Fortunately, one of the musical members agreed to take on the role of choir director, so the two of us pondered and culled and collated and listened to YouTube offerings until at last, our program was complete:

It may be possible to guess our ages from the play list. Not a Beyoncé song to be heard…


Well, we had a ball, though you’ll notice that all the participant’s identities have been hidden to protect the innocent.

Some songs we belted out with gusto, like the Shirelles ‘Will You Still Love me, Tomorrow?”

Our musical director took her duties seriously, baton and all

And some, like Don MacLean’s Vincent, we sang very gently, wiping our eyes surreptitiously along the way:

Click on the arrow if you’re game

We’re itching to do it again, when all our Discovery friends are available to come.

There was a lot to learn, of course, like avoiding keys that were way out of our comfort zone (looking at you, Nick Cave), or songs that were a tad too slow, or not well enough loved.

Next time, with this practice session under our belt, we’ll be even better, we’re sure.

And I learned that do-re-mi is a very good place to start and that Julie Andrews is a great teacher.

Anyone who can help me sound vaguely in tune gets my vote.

 

 

#48 Mess About in Boats

It wasn’t until Form One (as Year Seven was called back then) that I was introduced to the magical world of boating.

This was courtesy of Kenneth Grahame’s engaging tale of the adventures of Ratty and Mole, Badger and Toad in The Wind in the Willows.

Who wouldn’t be seduced by Ratty’s pronouncement in the very first chapter?

quote-messing-about

Alas, I was growing up in a bitterly cold, inland city without a beach or river to its name, nurtured by loving parents who… well… you couldn’t call them outdoor types. (This may explain why, on my first-ever camping trip at age 22, I had no idea that you didn’t pitch your tent in a cosy hollow under a gum tree. Especially without checking for the possibility of torrential rain during the night.) So my love of boating was entirely imaginary for many years.

What better time to change all that now though, and live the dream. A chance to…

#48 Mess About in Boats

Ratty was spot on – it’s so worth doing.

Boats, of course, come in all shapes and sizes. And degrees of safety.

There was that disastrous early experiment with three friends, when we were sent down a raging Murray River in two canoes, on our own, by the Dodgy Brothers’ Hire-a-Risky-Boat Adventures. 

Thanks to life jackets and expert recreational kayakers who raced across to pluck us from the water as we parted ways with our canoes and careened towards South Australia, I lived to brave the river again one late afternoon as dusk was falling. But this time, it was in the back of a canoe with a World Champion/Murray River Marathon winner doing all the hard work in the front seat. Bliss!

Racing down the Murray and up Wodonga Creek taking curves at breakneck speed with an expert guide is truly exciting, even though he mistakenly thought he could further spook me with a diversion past a bat colony.

bats-ahoy

Amazing. Flying mammals! What’s not to like…?


If Scandi Noir is the mood you’re after though, then messing about in a boat at New Zealand’s Doubtful Sound is just the ticket. All dark and brooding and ominous. No wonder James Cook was doubtful it was navigable when he named it.

nz36-nov-11

You could well be at the end of the earth. Oh, hang on a minute…

Even the silhouette of a travelling companion takes on a sinister hue in this part of the world.

nz38-nov-11


Exploring in a boat means you can get up close and personal with all manner of wildlife.

Spot seals sunning themselves,

seals

Or water birds doing a picturesque pose694

…in splendid isolation


But you don’t have to travel miles away from home to find a relaxing boating experience.

The Sienna Daisy is a new cruise boat purpose built for the Murray River right here in Albury. No more worries of a river too low to support the mechanism of cumbersome paddle steamers, romantic though they may be.

sienna-daisy

Take a 60 or 90-minute scheduled river cruise or book a private function. Include the Captain’s Lunch of a BBQ and salads if you want and complement this with a glass of wine.  All your worries will disappear into the water as you float along, caressed by the gentle movement and sense of escape.

And If you’ve ever wondered why Noreuil Park has such an unpronounceable name, you can find that out, too.

I could have boated all day…

monument-from-river

and just a stone’s throw from home…


No doubt about it, messing about in boats is the bees knees.

I wonder if it’s too late to consider buying my own boat? Of course, I’d have to get a bigger car, too  – with a tow bar  – and a boat trailer. And learn how to reverse them all down a narrow driveway and a slippery ramp without jack-knifing. Is that do-able for a post-adult woman, I wonder?

Because I can’t help thinking that being the skipper of your own boat would make you feel like a Master of The Universe.

1-charlie-at-the-wheel

Wouldn’t you agree, Charlie…?

#47 Revel in a Post-adult Period

It used to be that adding the prefix ‘Post’ to any word meant ‘after’. Think ‘post meridiem’ for after noon and ‘post mortem’ for after death.

But then along came postmodernism and suddenly, that harmless prefix took on a deeper meaning. Sure, postmodernism came after modernism, but it came with its own definition too, that is, epistemological and moral relativism, and pluralism. These are apparently rejections of the old-fashioned tenets of modernism like rationality, absolute truth and progress.

And I ask you, is there anything more embarrassing than being caught with ideas that pre-date postmodernism?

So when I heard last week that the Oxford dictionary now includes the term post-truth to mean not lies, but the irrelevance of factual rebuttals in preference to emotion and personal beliefs, it awoke in me a freedom I didn’t realise I was craving. The freedom to:

#47 Revel in a Post-adult Period 

The Post-adult period is the time after your responsible adult years have passed but it also confers an additional meaning whereby you can take on any behaviour or habits you want.

As to exactly when this commences, it begins the day you realise you’ve lost your relevance to society. That moment of shock on hearing or reading in the news that an ‘elderly [insert-your-own-age] woman was today found …’.

When they use adjectives like ‘elderly’, ‘old’ or ‘senior’ to describe people like you, it’s time to fight back in the best way possible. Become a card-carrying member of the Post-adult period and revel in it.

So here’s my list of pleasures that those of us celebrating this special time may now embrace for the rest of our lives. Do feel free to add others.

After all, we’ve earned it.

*Avoid anything that doesn’t give you consummate pleasure.

I’m thinking activities like having a job. Or sitting through a meeting that has minutes and an agenda. Or ploughing on with a book that you realise, by page 20, is boring you witless. Or watching a silly film to the very end.

screenshot-2016-11-22-12-33-16No offence if you loved these, but I might have a mere 30 years left on earth…


*Have a snack immediately before dinner, even if it spoils your appetite. Especially if it spoils your appetite.

Longing for some paté on toast in the late afternoon? Go for it! Can’t resist a whole bowl of guacamole and corn chips at 7.00pm? Be my guest. You’re in your post-adult years. You get to set the rules.


*Discover wicked new tastes you love – and take them up with gusto.

I recently tried fried pancetta as an alternative to bacon. It’s magnificent. Why didn’t I know about its crispy deliciousness before now?

Have an egg and pancetta roll instead. Or try it with tomato on toasted ciabatta:

pancetta-and-toms-on-toast

…yum


*Replace bad things with alternatives (that might be worse)


Are you over margarine and the whole worried-about-your-cholesterol chorus? Longing for some cholesterol-rich food? Switch to butter and store it in a stylish dish on your bench top so it’s always available and always spreadable.

butter

Butter’s natural, tastes marvellous and chances are scientists will discover in the not-too-distant future that it has life-prolonging properties. Just like they’ve now realised that toddlers who drink full-fat milk end up slimmer than those given low fat milk.

And take honey. It’s natural too, but for some reason I’ve always found the flavour a little … disappointing. Then I remembered something that tastes the way I’d wanted honey to taste but doesn’t involve any part of it being transported on the legs of insects.

I’m talking Maple Syrup. Now available in BIG, BEAUTIFUL one litre jars, especially for Post-adults.

maple-syrup

…and it always flow smoothly, even in winter


*Use buttermilk in recipes

I know, buttermilk sounds evil; probably is evil.

Deliciously evil in pancakes making then fluffy and puffy and soft:

buttermilk-pancakes

And you’re right. That’s not honey.

Tenderly evil as a marinade for chicken or pork, such as when making your own version of ‘fried chicken with 11 secret herbs and spices’ at home.

chicken-recipe

 

 

kfc

almost as good as you-know-what…


*Play with fire

Like running wth scissors, playing with dangerous equipment is also on the agenda in Post-adult years.

fire-2

 

So if you’ve always had a hankering for creme brûlée with that lovely crunchy toffee topping, now’s the time. Blast away to your heart’s content. No-one will tell you to be careful.

creme-brulee


*Outsource the stuff you don’t like doing.

Post-adults can outsource anything they don’t like.

Here’s why: if you read that ‘an elderly [insert-your-own-age] woman was today found scrubbing the floors’ you’d rightly feel sorry for her. She shouldn’t have to do that any more, poor old thing. So vacuuming, washing floors, cleaning bathrooms and whipper-snipping are out and no-one will think less of you.

But if you say coyly, ‘I like to keep active,’ you’re able to continue using the electric lawnmower, (such fun), gardening (no digging expected), cooking (no catering for more than two; four tops) and exercising the dog (but never undertaking a ‘fun-run’).

And as for the front yard makeover you’ve been thinking of doing yourself for years and years, forget it. Once you hit Post-adulthood, just ask friends who’s the best-priced paver in town (never spend hours organising quotes yourself – only adults do that) and the recommended one will do a far better job than you could ever have achieved.

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There’s only one caveat to life in the Post-adult lane.

All things in moderation.

Except maybe chocolate…

 

 

 

 

 

 

#45 Meander along Sydney Writers Walk

Did you know that Sydney has a dedicated Writers Walk?

It displays a series of over forty-five plaques containing a snatch of an author’s thoughts about the Australian land and its people together with a brief bio of the writer.

Despite having visited the site of the Walk (it sweeps around Circular Quay from the Opera House to beyond the Museum of Contemporary Art) at least – oh – maybe two or three times a year for the past twenty-five years and despite having, in all likelihood, walked by several of the plaques on each occasion, it’s completely passed me by. And I suspect nearly everyone who’s visited Sydney has walked this walk, but most of us have never seen it.

How embarrassing.

Truth be told, my pedantic writer’s streak is a little uncomfortable with the missing apostrophe in the large bronze tablet announcing Writers Walk because you couldn’t possibly interpret it to mean that ‘writers walk’. They don’t. They’re much too busy scribbling away in their attic, all alone, hunched over a manuscript.

But despite my misgivings about a monument that’s dedicated to writers and yet contains a punctuation error, once the site was drawn to my attention, a visit was essential.

#44 Meander along Sydney Writers Walk

If I were to post an image of every one of these neglected bronze gems, it would overwhelm this blog entry, so allow me to present a small sample of the witty, the poignant, the prescient or the just plain irreverent comments made by so many great writers who have visited our country or were born here.

Just for fun, I’ve added a modern Australian visual match.

1. David Williamsonwilliamson

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-3-50-58-pmanzac-bridge…though he forgot to mention the obsession with food,too

2. C.E.W.Beancew-bean

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…tho’ it seems that ‘the whole people’s’ representatives aren’t trying too hard to work it out .

3. Ethel Turner

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Hey, who’d wear a bike helmet when there’s no-one around?

4. C.J.Dennis

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…still knocks you endways

5. Charles Darwin

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…reflections of the old and the new grandeur

6. Rudyard Kipling

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We’ll do wonderful things…some day 

7. Barry Humphries

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-5-23-45-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-24-at-3-50-58-pm

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…feels like home to me

So now you’re possibly asking, ‘How have I missed noticing the Writers Walk?’

Well, here’s a clue:

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If writers had ball skills instead of verbal skills, would more people notice what’s underfoot?

The plaques are all in-laid  – in the footpath. And shooing away hordes of oblivious tourists to get the perfect photograph of each plaque wasn’t easy!

So now you know where it is, I hope this has given you a tantalising taste of what’s on show at the Sydney Writers Walk.

#24 ‘Stand Up and Cheer’ at a Book Launch

Writers penning opinion pieces for highly reputable sites – like The Times or The Conversation –  will often have a disclaimer after their by-line. Something along the lines of: ‘Thomas Fotherington-Smythe does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.’

So in the spirit of full disclosure, I must declare an interest in my next fun and frivolous activity:

#24 ‘Stand Up and Cheer’ at a Book Launch

The truth is, I have familial ties to the author of the book in question. I even did a spot of editing during the early drafts. So,

I did work for –

I did consult with –

And I do have affiliations with –

the author, so am duty-bound to declare my interest, even though the cheque must still be in the mail…

Naturally, it was exciting to help organise its special regional launch recently at the Albury LibraryMuseum, and as you can see, I even made matching bookmarks to accompany the gorgeous art-deco design of the book.

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Did I mention that the book’s title is Stand Up and Cheer?

And I’m proud to declare, with a possible hint of bias, that it’s a thrilling children’s novel based on a true gem of Australian history that we should all celebrate, namely the rescue, by the people of Albury, of the Dutch DC-2 plane, the Uiver lost in a fierce thunderstorm over the Riverina during the Great Centenary Air Race from London to Melbourne on the night of 23rd October 1934.

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A Douglas DC-2, at the Albury Aerodrome during the Open Day in October 2014.  Although not the original Uiver, it’s one of only a handful of surviving DC-2 planes in the world.

Written for 8 to 12-year-olds, and enjoyed by everyone who loves an exciting and true aviation story*, Stand Up and Cheer is set in Albury at the height of the Great Depression and tells the story of the Uiver’s rescue through the eyes of the 10-year-old hero, Jack, the son of the local ABC radio announcer who plays a pivotal role in organising the townsfolk help the plane find a safe place to land.

Of course, helping organise a book launch isn’t the only fun and frivolous entertainment to be had around books.

A friend of mine was visiting her family recently in the Northumberland region of the UK when she noticed that Tim Winton, Australia’s highly decorated author, was reading from his latest book, Eyrie, at a small pub nearby. Not knowing how these events work, and concerned that she may be asked questions if she attended, she dutifully read the novel beforehand.

Now apparently, Tim Winton isn’t quite as well known in the north of England as he is here, so only a small group of people turned up to listen to him read in a cosy, intimate setting. And my friend was the only one to have read his latest book and have thoughtful, relevant questions in mind.

So that’s how she came to spend a marvellous evening chatting one-on-one with the charming Tim Winton on a cold night in the north of England.

See how fun and frivolous activities can often lead to so much more?

* The Australian adventurer, Dick Smith wrote: ‘I stated reading Stand Up and Cheer and couldn’t put it down – it’s such an exciting aviation and adventure tale. I think everyone will want to read it.’