Spring!

In two days time it will officially be spring. It’s been trying to get here for the past few weeks. The mock plum trees have been waving their gorgeous pink-blossomed branches at me for some time now. Daffodils have resurfaced after spending time in the Underworld. Birds have even begun collecting twigs and little scraps of used tissues (which have accidentally dropped out of my sleeve, while I was in the garden), ready for nest building. Once more, a mouse (or most likely – mice) has decided to invade the house. And, yes, it’ll soon be “wear a helmet in the park” time as, once again, it’s magpie swooping season. I love spring. It’s nature’s way of giving everything a fresh start. I delight in finding new buds and shoots on the plants. By the look of things our red bottle-brush tree is going to be aflame with flowers this year. I love seeing the birds busy building, tweaking, fiddling and fussing over their nests, before the chicks finally hatch. My favourite poem about spring: Spring has sprung; the grass is riz. I wonder where dem birdies is? The little bird is on the wing. Don’t be absurd; the little wing is on the bird. Deep, isn’t it? When I was in school – back when it was still legal to own a dinosaur – we were taught a bit of doggerel by Wordsworth: something…something…a host of golden daffodils. (Hang on, I’ll ask Dr Google for the correct quote.) Here we go:- I wandered lonely as a cloud, that floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Yeah, it’s all right but I prefer my first choice. “Spring has sprung” seems more ‘earthy’, more ‘nuts and bolts’, more ‘real’, more geared for the ordinary person, like me. One of the things I really love about where I live, is that we get all four seasons. We get to witness the great cycle of life: summer into autumn, autumn into winter, winter into spring… (You get the idea.) I’ve always felt a bit sorry for the inhabitants in the north of Oz. When my sister, Ali, lived in Darwin, she discovered there were only two seasons: the dry and the wet. I find that deeply disturbing. How does a person feel the rhythm of the universe when there are no seasons? How do the birds know when to start building? “Oh look, darling, it’s raining. It must be breeding season. Then again, maybe it’s just a passing shower?” It’s enough to do one’s head in. It’s still cold here, at the moment, but in two days time the wind from the Antarctic has to shove off. The skies are already blue more often than grey. I’m really looking forward to a bit of solar warmth making its way through the cumuli. (In case you’re not meteorologically inclined, they’re the fluffy white clouds.) Yes, apart from the rodents pooing all over my house and the magpies trying to peck a hole in my cranium (to protect their babies from me, even tho’ I tell ’em every year, I think their babies are adorable), spring is a fabulous time of the year. What do you like about spring – assuming you get spring where you live? (If you don’t, you have my deepest...

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The swinging pendulum.

A number of people who have styled themselves as the keeper of morals for the American nation (and possibly for the world) have been outed as members of the Ashley Madison – find someone to have adultery with – site. This time the hacker was definitely on the side of the angels. The thing is, if you’re a faker, a cheat, a hypocrite and a liar, you will eventually be found out. There are a number of clichés that suit the occasion: You reap what you sow; what goes around comes around; the truth will out… Some people think that these gentlemen have, by their actions, disproved any claims to legitimacy by the Christian church. And, the problem is that the church is littered with ratbags, paedophiles, drunkards, adulterers etc. When you have a religion that preaches forgiveness and a fresh start, you’re going to get people with problems. You’re also going to get people who like to appear respectable and normal and, to fit in, they can learn the right lingo and ‘acceptable’ behaviour, even though in their hearts they don’t believe any of it. Similar things happen in other religions. Take the iniquitous IS (ISIS, ISIL…) cult. They claim to be good Muslims waging a holy war for Allah. They quite happily kill whoever disagrees with them, including other Muslims, and wage war on old people, women and children. In their ‘holiness’ – even tho’ their religion forbids the use of the drug, alcohol – they give their soldiers drugs to take before they behead people, so that their conscience is deadened. (Why would you need to do that if what you are doing is just?) They disrespect women by sexually abusing them and selling them into sexual slavery, even tho’ the Koran teaches the Muslim man to respect women. They’re an embarrassment to the rest of the Muslim world, just as the paedophile priests, the loud-mouth red-necks and the hypocritical fakes are for the Christian world. Does this mean that all religion is false and a waste of time? (I can hear some of you shouting: Yes!) Religion can appeal to the best in mankind’s nature, presenting a high standard of behaviour as an ideal to aim for, and encouraging love and respect for every living thing. Religion can also be an excuse for the very worst of human behaviour; excusing violence, injustice and bigotry. And, people can do and be all those things without any religion. The early communists in Russian history did some horrendously awful things. The real problem is the heart of the person. We can choose to live in a loving, gracious, honest and kind way. Or, we can choose to give ourselves up to the darkness within. Or, we can live in that twilight world of wanting to be one thing but, secretly, being the other. Personally, I swing between the first and last, trying to limit the pendulum swing to the first. I won’t ask where you’re at but, the more of us that choose the first option, the better this world will be. At the moment, in many parts of the world, too many are choosing option two....

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Here we go again

I have a large envelope sitting on my desk, waiting for me to write the address on it and put it in the post. It contains a manuscript, letter to the publisher and a page of synopsis and “marketting plan”. (I put the last thing in brackets because I can’t be sure that’s what it is, exactly. Never having done one before I could only make a wild stab at it.) The novel that was recently rejected has had it’s hurt feelings soothed; it’s been re-vamped, re-edited and re-considered and now, in it’s 20th reincarnation, it’s about to head out into the cosmos yet again. I can tell it’s nervous. Understandably so. It’s hard to put yourself out there again, when doing so in the past has only resulted in rejection and pain. Its plagued with doubts: why doesn’t anyone love me? Obviously, just my love isn’t good enough. Neither is the approval and appreciation of beta readers, including people who are authors and sort of know their stuff. No, only the affection of a proper publisher will do. And, it’s a hard, cold world out there, baby. I mentioned to one or two people that I was submitting it to XXX publishers and the usual response has been: Didn’t you write that years ago? My reply: Yes. Yes I did. I am then assaulted by all sorts of feelings, most of which aren’t helpful. Should I apologise for not getting it into print sooner? Should I be ashamed of its obvious failure to entice? Should I feel guilty for not trying harder? Should I explain to the non-writer in front of me the intricacies involved in trying to get a book published: the tightening of the publishing world’s purse strings; the growing power of the accountants who decide if a book can make money or not; the growing pile of submitted manuscripts, towering in an awkward jumble next to the poor reader employed by the publisher; the thousands of people who all think they can write, too, and are competing with me for a spot in the list of 10 books the publisher produces in one year…? The thing is, I’ve tried filing it away and forgetting about it. I’ve tried moving on and writing other things. I’ve tried writing it off as another learning curve on my way to authordom. But, the story won’t lie down and die. I still think about it. It clamours to be read and appreciated. The issues it touches on are ever present in society. It matters. So, once more unto the breach, dear friends. On Monday the parcel will be placed in the care of the Postman and sent off to another publisher. Fingers and toes are firmly crossed. Meanwhile, it’s sitting on my desk and looking at me with much trepidation. I occasionally mutter soothing reassurances, encouraging it to be brave....

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Lighten up!

My apologies for not writing a blog last week; I’m sure you were all devastated. Last week, the Old Boy, the Wonder Dog and I went to the coast for a little holiday. (May I just say that, unless you have a divine view of the ocean -which we didn’t – going to the coast in the middle of winter can be a bit of a bust. We spent most of the time huddled indoors, trying to keep warm.) After the last few weeks, watching the tide of popular opinion sweeping over the pages of Face Book, I believe there’s something I need to say and I’m counting on all of my wonderful readers to spread the good word. Here it is: Everyone, lighten the hell up! For goodness sake, people, what happened to your sense of humour? What happened to the wisdom of: Be slow to anger and be quick to forgive? What happened to: Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes? What happened to: Whatever you do, don’t be a dick? Someone has a little fun releasing a meme that Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy are getting a divorce. All heck breaks loose. ‘Divorce is no laughing matter.’  ‘This could shove people into the black hole of psychic trauma.’ ‘People’s feelings are involved!’ Can we all take a deep breath, take a step back and remember: They’re puppets!  Some people have been posting pictures and comments about the killing of Cecil the lion. For them, it’s not just the death of one lion but the issue it represents: hunting for sport. They have every right to say their piece (and on the whole I agree with them), although I think calling for the death of the dentist is going too far. After all, if killing is wrong for a lion, it’s also wrong for a human being. But, some of those people have been inundated with nasty, abusive comments that suggest the fans of Cecil don’t care about the deaths of thousands of babies through abortion, or starvation, or war, or whatever. Listen, one cause doesn’t cancel another. Most people are capable of caring about more than one issue. For goodness sake, lighten the hell up! I saw a post the other day in which a woman said she didn’t give her dogs Pedigree dog meat because it’s Halal and her dogs aren’t Muslim. I kid you not. This is laughable on so many levels. 1. Pedigree dog meat isn’t Halal. 2. Most Muslims believe dogs are unclean and therefore don’t have them as pets. 3. This is the first time I’d realised that animals have religion! I must ask the Wonder Dog what sort he is. I’d hate it if he was Jewish and I’d been insulting him by slipping him the occasional piece of bacon. (Although, I doubt he is because he has no hesitation gulping the stuff down.) What the heck is wrong with everyone? Halal is just like Kosher. It means it complies with their dietary laws. I only complained once about Halal and that was in relation to Easter eggs. I have the same issue with Easter eggs being Kosher. Why? Because neither of those religions celebrate Easter, so why does it need such classification? I now wish I’d kept my mouth shut because I keep getting all these nasty, anti-Muslim, anti-Halal messages on my FB page. I should have lightened the hell up. Please, for the sake of sanity, and for the cause of world peace, could we all think before we share a post that seems witty but, ultimately, is unkind? Could we check our facts before leaping to ridiculous conclusions? Could we all, please, try to be just a little kinder? And, last but not least, could we all just lighten the hell up? On a sombre note: Mrs Golden Orb has gone to her heavenly reward, through natural causes. She was a good old gal who did her best for her offspring. When, in a rash murderous moment, the Old Boy played Herod with her golden sac of babies, she produced not one replacement, but two. Once you know that these spiders usually only produce one lot of babies, near the end of their short glorious lives, you will realise what an amazing female Mrs Orb was. I don’t think either of the replacement sacs will hatch but we’ll keep watch for a while, just in case. RIP Mrs Orb. It was a delight getting to know...

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