Sunday, 7 October 2007

A DEAD LIBERTY by Dave Wellings

(The September assignment was to write a legend.)

Most successful entrepreneurs have a sense of opportunism that borders on cheek. In the late 1860s the construction of a railway line between Toowoomba and Warwick offered numerous opportunities. In addition to the vital transport for a growing sheep industry, the line brought with it a large work force which had to be catered for. Hastily built stores and unlicensed bars were established at every halt along the line. When the line reached the Clifton sheep station, an Irishman, James Mowen, built a slab hut from which he sold provisions and liquor to the railway “navvies”.
Seeing an opportunity in the expanding settlement, he decided to invest in Clifton. In 1869 he applied for and was granted a liquor licence and he built a hotel next to his store. A small plaque (appropriately across the road from O’Shanley’s Irish Bar) still marks the site of his original ‘Redbank Hotel’.

In response to increasing demand by migrants from overseas and the southern States, the government released parcels of Crown land across the Darling Downs and Mowen was quick to purchase a block in what is now the main street. He built the Clifton Arms Hotel and four other business premises, all of which he rented out. Such enterprise marked him out as an obvious person to approach when funds were required to build a Catholic church. He was appointed as joint-treasurer of the fund-raising committee and donated an acre of prime town land to the project. A small church was subsequently built near to the site of the present Catholic church.

He was a wealthy man when he died on 20th April 1897, at the time 600 pounds was a considerable sum of money and there were no heirs to inherit it. He had stipulated in his will that the money should be spent on a “grand monument” to be built over his grave. The executor of his will, John Logan, was an old friend and coincidentally a prime mover in fund-raising to build a new, larger church. The prospering Clifton township had long overgrown the original small church and John Logan was not slow to see the serendipity of his situation.

“When considering what form the memorial should take, it occurred to me that nothing would be more appropriate than a memorial church…”

Special dispensation was granted to have Mowen’s body exhumed from the Clifton cemetery and reburied at Meara Place and the present church was built over his grave – a grand monument, as he’d requested.

His name is immortalised in Mowen Street at the southern end of the main street which he had largely established – and in a more subtle way in the name of the church itself. James Mowen and John Logan may have fallen some way short of sainthood but when the fine new building was commissioned as the “Church of Saint James and Saint John” it was in recognition of their contribution.

It was a final touch of opportunism bordering on cheek and Mowen would have surely approved.

Dave Wellings ©

FORGET-ME-NOTS by Dave Wellings

(August's assignment was set by Gloria who selected an opening sentence onto which we must add our own 500 or so words to create a work of either fiction or non-fiction. The opening sentence reads:
"The lot of us met on Saturday afternoon as arranged.")

The lot of us met on Saturday afternoon as arranged. The regulars, the ones who cared enough to bring a bunch of flowers.

“Nothing flashy,” The Colonel had insisted, “We don’t want to attract the wrong kind of attention.” In The Colonel’s mind there was more stigma attached to flashiness than to sexually-transmitted disease, He wasn’t actually a colonel: he’d been pensioned off from the army with the rank of captain but he did little to discourage the use of his nickname.

Jason’s bouquet was what The Colonel probably had in mind – large showy red tulips which clashed with his maroon and gold scarf. It was windy up on the hillside overlooking the town but a football scarf and beanie looked out of place at a graveside. Jason was on his way to a match and was too young and gauche to consider such things.

Norman wore a beige cardigan under his navy blazer and he raised his brown trilby hat in respect as he placed his tasteful violas on the grave.

“It was her greatest fear, that she would be forgotten, that her life had meant nothing more than a few moments of gratification to those of us in need.”

“It was more than that,” said Graham who, like most of us, was on the wrong side of middle-age. “It was a useful life; she was a caring woman, a compassionate woman.”

“And a good listener,” added Ted who had missed having anyone to listen to him since his wife had died five years earlier.

Jason looked up, puzzled perhaps at the revelation. “I never…Some of us…It’s not always…I never know what to say to girls. She gave me my first – experience.”

We all nodded; we had our own reasons for knowing her and out reasons for regretting her passing, quite suddenly, a brain tumour, twelve months to the day.

With his need for military order, The Colonel arranged the flowers, tall tulips at the rear and the others in descending order of size to form one poignant tribute. The he stepped back, stood briefly to attention and spoke for us all: “Gone – but not forgotten.”

Dave Wellings ©

Tuesday, 25 September 2007


(August's assignment was set by Gloria who selected an opening sentence onto which we must add our own 500 or so words to create a work of either fiction or non-fiction. The opening sentence reads:
"The lot of us met on Saturday afternoon as arranged.")

The lot of us met on Saturday afternoon as arranged. The pub was dim, the conditioned air sharp with the tang of stale beer. It was a little awkward until we’d downed the first round of drinks, then little knots of conversation tied us more firmly together. Besides our reason for meeting, we had nothing in common, so feelers were put out to establish some connection, to soften the business of the meeting with token familiarity.

I looked around at the disparate group with an inward smile. What had I expected – them all to be archetypal nerds, like me? My eyes lingered on a gorgeous woman, too curvy for current tastes, her full hips and breasts somehow perfectly in synch with her pouty lips, as if she could not quite close her mouth properly. Very sexy.

She was chatting with a fortyish, innocuous looking man. In his “casual” chinos and Ralph Lauren polo shirt, he looked pale and soft, probably from hours behind the desk telling others what to do. He cleared his throat several times, and looked at his feet self-consciously. What a place to try to pick up. Oh well, if you got lucky, at least you’d know what to expect later. A skinny girl with dreadful acne on her chin and neck hovered at the edge of the group. She was swathed in black layers, with pants that drain piped her thighs but bagged around her ankles. I’d never liked that look, and the pigeon toed, shuffling walk that went with it. I always think the person is in imminent danger of tripping over.

A solid, shorthaired woman in her mid thirties with a slightly impatient air was standing near an anxious looking younger man in jeans. She gave a cursory nod then looked away whenever he spoke to her. I’ve heard that looking past people when talking to them means you want to be somewhere else. Well, no one dragged her here. The young man was quite ordinary except for his stance; hunched with hands jammed in pockets so hard it’s a wonder he hadn’t torn the bottoms out.

And there was me. When I’d put the notice in the community pages of the paper, I was only half serious. I didn’t think any one would come forward, and here were six of us. I squared my shoulders and cleared my throat loudly to call the meeting to order. The others slid into their seats while I stood at the head of the table.
“Welcome to the inaugural meeting of TA,” I began. “Perhaps we could start with introductions, a brief history of your problem, and what you have tried so far to control it.” I took my place and glanced around enquiringly.

The businessman took the cue, “I’m Stephen. I’ve been doing it forever. It only really became a problem when I moved into my current position, which is quite high-pressure. Before that I could control it.” He took a breath. “I’ve tried all the usual methods to stop, even hypnosis, but I can’t. That’s why I’m here.”

The impatient woman stood. “I’m Anne. I’m a nurse and you’d think that in itself would stop me doing it. So far, nothing has worked, even the rubber band on the wrist to sting myself whenever I want it. I hope coming here isn’t another waste of time.” She sat abruptly.

Mr Average with the pocket problem spoke up. “I’m Tony. I’ve tried all sorts of things, from cognitive-behavioural therapy,” this occasioned a few interested murmurs, “to chemicals. I always find a way to do it, even though I hate myself for it. This is my last hope”

“I’m Jen,” the Bombshell. “I know this sounds bad, but I just really love doing it. No one worried much when I was younger, they just let me go, and now I’m not sure I can stop. Or even if I want to. But I’m getting married next year and my fiancĂ©e says I can’t do it anymore.” Sympathetic looks all round.

“I’m Vanessa,” Girl in Black. “I do want to stop. I’ve got enough problems without this stupid habit. I feel like a freak.”

I stood, “Thank you, every one. I’m Evan, as most of you know. I didn’t really think anyone would come, but I’m really glad you all did. If we achieve nothing else, at least we know we’re not struggling with this alone.” I looked at each face – sullen, impassive, eager, dubious, thoughtful.

“I think I came out of the womb doing it, and I do it every chance I get. Like Jen, I enjoy it, but also, like the rest of you, it causes problems in my life. I too feel like a freak, Vanessa, and hate myself, like Tony.” I nodded at each of them. “I do it when I’m stressed, when I’m tired, lonely, sometimes even when I’m hungry.” Someone snorted with suppressed laughter. “Part of me believes I’ll never stop, but I really want to try. That’s why I created the twelve step program based on AA principles and started this group.” A few nods. “If alcoholics can do it, drug addicts, over eaters and sex addicts, why can’t we?”

Stephen raised his glass, “Here here.” The others murmured in agreement, and Jen smiled and gave the thumbs up. “Here’s to Thumbsuckers Anonymous,” she said.

Gloria Moress ©

THE ANTIPODEANS by Marion de la Croix

(August's assignment was set by Gloria who selected an opening sentence onto which we must add our own 500 or so words to create a work of either fiction or non-fiction. The opening sentence reads:
"The lot of us met on Saturday afternoon as arranged.")

100 kilometres South West of Nairobi, Kenya

The following is a translation from the Massai language

The lot of us met on Saturday afternoon as arranged.
Abbasso swung down from the fever tree and nearly flattened Warty who had paused to scratch a flea that had niggled persistently in his armpit for the last twenty lopes.
‘Watch it mate’ the warthog growled to the Baboon.
‘Who’s snitchy today didn’t she come across last night then?’ Abbasso retorted, delighted to have touched a nerve.
Warty ignored Abbasso found the flea and crunched delightedly between his incisors.
‘You looked so funny Abbasso when you landed on Warty’s head’ giggled Chichi from behind the safety of Nzinga’s bulk.
‘Shut up vervet,’ Abbasso snarled.
‘Now now,’ roared Zhinzhi ‘lets have some order this is an important meeting.’
The rest of the animals formed a circle round the lion but Chichi kept her the hippo between her and Abbasso.
‘I’ll start. Who told you the kangaroos were coming Zhinzhi,’ an Impala called out
‘No one. I saw them I up near the border when I visited my cousin last week.’
‘How could they have reached inland so quickly?’
‘Have you seen how fast the bloody things hops? Wouldn’t be surprised if they made an appearance today.’
Alarmed everyone looked around.
‘Surely not Zhinzhi?’
‘I can tell you this. I watched them flee without a pause for a single hop before they disappeared over the horizon.
Gasps and cries of wonderment echoed round the clearing.
‘None of us can keep up such a pace for so long,’ muttered Nzinga.
‘Will they attack?’ Taglio asked then spotted a juicy blow fly close by, shot out his tongue retracted it and gulped.
‘Shit where has that one been?’ he grimaced.
He coughed aware he had everyone’s attention now and revelled in it.
‘You rotten chameleons, trust you to only think of your stomach even at a time like this,’ growled Titi.
‘I have to. You zebras are lucky everywhere you look there’s grass but I have to grab my food on the run.’
‘Tsk’ tutted the zebra haughtily and nudged her foal closer.
‘I say,’ said Mbobo from his elevated height amongst the acacias. ‘Can we please stick to the important issues?’
He wiggled his ears to chase a far too friendly tickbird from between his tufted horns.
‘I agree,’ said Zhinzhi.
‘Right first of all I cannot answer your question Taglio. If they do arrive I suggest we unite and approach them. They wouldn’t daren’t attack such a grand gathering as ours and we might be panicking for no reason.’
Overhead Mabili flapped his wings and screeched a warning.
‘Enemy approaching from the west!’ he cried and continued to ride the currents but kept an eye on the strangers.
Zhinzhi padded out of the clearing and gazed into the afternoon sun.
‘It’s them and they’re heading this way!’ he cried. ‘See what I mean they are constantly on the move.’
Everyone pushed and shoved eager to get a glimpse of the strangers.
‘Wow look at them go!’
‘They’re red!’
‘And they’ve got long tails!’
‘Look at their funny shape and they’re heads are only small!’
Suddenly everyone became aware of a thudding underfoot and felt threatened.
‘Calm down everyone!’ shouted Zhinzhi.
‘But they look like they’re on the attack’ screamed Juju.
‘What all of us at once don’t be such a fool hyena!’
‘Well I have to admit they couldn’t kill us all at once,’ he simpered.
The strange animals slowed and stopped about twenty lopes distance then propped on their behinds with their tiny feet tucked neatly into their chest. They showed no fear.
‘G’day,’ the smaller one called out.
Taken aback by the strange language Mbobo, due to his lofty appearance he took charge, stepped forward.
‘I beg your pardon?’ he asked.
The smaller kangaroo shook its head and looked at its partner.
‘Jeez Bluey I don’t understand their lingo.’
‘Its Massai Matilda I learned some when we were in the circus from the baboon.’
Bluey turned to the giraffe and hesitantly spoke in Massai
‘G’day hallo.’
‘Oh I see um.. I see you kangaroo,’ Mbobo said
‘I see you? What kind of a greeting is that mate?’ inquired Bluey.
‘It is our way.’
‘Strewth sounds weird to me anyway.’
‘What are you doing here?’ interrupted Zhinzhi.
‘Us well it’s like this mate we escaped from the Circus Oz.’
Everyone gasped. They had heard about circuses, evil places where men kept animal in tiny cages.
‘I’m so glad you escaped,’ whispered Chichi, ‘you can run free here with us.’
Bluey bent and peeped between the legs of the larger animals
‘G’day and who are you little one?’ he asked
‘I’m Chichi and I’m a Vervet.’
‘Oh well I’m called Bluey and this here,’ he turned to his partner, ‘is Matilda.’
‘Bluey!’ roared Zhinzhi, ‘but you’re red.’
‘Yeah mate anyone with red hair in Australia where we come from is called Bluey didn’t youse know that?’
Bluey scratched his head, smiled and looked round.
‘Youse’ all so friendly I could like it here.’
‘HERE!’ roared Zhinzhi.
‘Yep mate.’
Zhinzhi looked round the group.
‘I sorry but we must discuss this amongst ourselves before we can allow you to take up residence here.’
‘But were real friendly mate, we only eat grass seeds and berries and wouldn’t hurt a fly.’
‘They can stay,’ smiled Taglio happy to hear his fly supply was not threatened.
‘I agree.’
A chorus of voices echoed round the clearing.
Matilda smiled, glanced at Bluey then reached into what looked like her stomach and pulled out a miniature version of them both. Gasps of wonderment especially from the mothers rang round the assembly.
‘Thank you everyone. This is Joey.’

Marion de la Croix ©


(August's assignment was set by Gloria who selected an opening sentence onto which we must add our own 500 or so words to create a work of either fiction or non-fiction. The opening sentence reads:
"The lot of us met on Saturday afternoon as arranged.")

The lot of us met on Saturday afternoon as arranged. I’d been waiting for this for a long time. Now at last I was old enough to join the rest of the devotees, for that’s how I think of us – devoted to a cause.

Of course every young man in this community thinks that one day they’ll be invited to join the others. They check you out first of course. Find out whether your like-minded. I am. Always have been.

I know there’s a lot of bad press about us. Scathing pieces in the newspapers and so on. I don’t think they realise that we have lots of influential people in our group. Pillars of the community – doctors, lawyers and so on, as well as the ordinary folk, the truck drivers, the labourers. Doesn’t matter what you do, if you feel strongly about this matter you’ll be accepted into the group.

So I went along. A few of the older guys came up and shook my hand. They looked me straight in the eye and asked if I was up for it. Up for it! I was trembling with anticipation, wondering what it would feel like, how it would be to finally do something about this problem. To make my mark.

I hoped our efforts today would have a result. We had our target picked – that much I knew. It was a short walk, all of us together, feet and hearts beating as one. I liked the idea of a uniform too. All white, pristine – clean looking, somehow. I’m not too worried about the anonymity aspect really – but the older, wiser heads say that it’s a good thing. I don’t know … some part of me wanted to be recognised. It would have been great to have people who aren’t in these hallowed ranks come up and say ‘good on ya – I’ve wanted to do that for a long time’.

So, now here I was – amongst my heroes, in a long white robe. I’m the one fifth back from the burning cross in the photo which was in the local paper. When the trial started – murder was the charge – that photo went all over the world.
Odd, isn’t it – my first Saturday afternoon meeting, and unlucky enough to be caught in what they say was ‘the most brutal attack this Southern state has seen in many years’. I can still hear the older men, my heroes, my role models, cheering me on, and I can still feel that excitement as I went at the enemy. But that’s the trouble, isn’t it – most people don’t seem to understand about the enemy. I’ve known about it ever since my daddy told me. He’s in the photo too.

You can see that I’m not used to the tall pointed white hood as I’ve put my hand up to steady it. And my hand is slightly covering the three initials emblazoned on it. The three important initials – in my mind the three most important initials in the world. The next hood I’ll wear, so they tell me, wont be a white one, and no initials this time – just something to hide my face as I’m sent to my Maker.

© Nelma Ward

DE MORTUIS by Brian Hodgkinson

(August's assignment was set by Gloria who selected an opening sentence onto which we must add our own 500 or so words to create a work of either fiction or non-fiction. The opening sentence reads:
"The lot of us met on Saturday afternoon as arranged.")

The lot of us met on Saturday afternoon as arranged.

It was a stinking hot day, and most of us were grossly overdressed for the weather. Convention, however, demanded it.

Under the formal tight smiles and nods of greeting, we assembled around the open grave.

Even the freshly excavated earth was dry and crumbly under the baking sun.

There was very little shade or shelter from the heat – such trees as there were grew round the very edge of the cemetery, not in the middle among the graves, of course. His children were both there, naturally – they couldn’t risk not being seen on such an occasion.

And their respective spouses – damned hypocrites.

Hadn’t seen or heard from any of them for years, and yet here they were, almost panting in their anxiety not to miss out on hearing what had been left to them.
Plus all his old cronies from the pub.

I could overhear their remarks.

“Can’t have expected anything else. Not at his age. Not considering the amount he put away. Well, he hadn’t anything else to do, had he? Not with that sour old puss of a wife he had.”

I pretended that I couldn’t hear them.

His lawyer was there as well – wearing a synthetic sympathetic smile.

Another hypocrite.

Probably calculating his commission as executor.

Why wasn’t I the executor?

He never trusted me.

“Women know nothing about money,” he used to say “they’re only fit for cooking and children.”

Damned Teutonic outlook - kirche, kuche, kinder.

But I served him and tended him for all those years, didn’t I?

The hearse, at last.

And the parson.

Why did they ever imagine that the parson would help him?

He never attended the church, was always scathing in his remarks about it.

But there you are.

Word, words, words.

And then the coffin was lowered, and the rattle of sunscorched earth on the lid.

And the same synthetic smiles and hypocritical words of condolence.

And that was it.

And that was the end of it.


And then the house, empty and echoing despite all the children and cronies echoing in the empty spaces.

And the formal obligatory drink.

And the lawyer saying the formal, expected words.

Just as they had expected – everything for “his beloved wife”.

And their tight smiles as they piled into their expensive cars and drove away.

And then the silence.

But I still miss him.

And I am lonely, for all that.

Brian Hodgkinson ©

MOYA by Marion de la Croix

(The assignment was to describe an object so the emotional state of the narrator (point of view/character) is revealed without telling the reader what the emotional state is or what motivated the "said" state.)

The thorn imbedded deep in his toughened sole. His foot had swollen to three times its normal size and coupled with a soaring temperature he felt disorientated. Unable to progress another pace Moya crawled into the shade of a nearby acacia. His village lay in the distance and although he surveyed the mountainside through eyes unfocused with age, he saw no one he could summon. His emaciated body was powerless to fight the fever and he sensed he only had a few hours before death carried him over the horizon.

He lay down and his eyes misted over. He sighed and closed them, in preparation for his progress along the death avenue his ancestors had forecast by the drawings on the cave walls. Each man, so the proverb went, could decide on their own reincarnation.

Moya opened his eyes and just as he had imagined, the avenue wound ahead amongst a backdrop of clouds. He soared slowly above the pathway like a dove, pain and fever dispersed and the natural desire to breathe fell away. He allowed his senses to diminish with every wing flap. Nothingness enveloped him and like the butterfly he venerated, he had become cocooned in its chrysalis of suspended animation.

Without regret, he thought of his new wife Shana barely fifteen and sixth in his harem. Now the women could argue amongst themselves without his admonition.

Life withdrew and left a rack of bones and desiccated skin. In his ultimate vision he saw his remains fall away and his soul emerged into the butterfly.

Marion de la Croix ©


(The assignment was to describe an object so the emotional state of the narrator (point of view/character) is revealed without telling the reader what the emotional state is or what motivated the "said" state.)

The oldest house in that little bush township was a squat bluestone cottage of primitive design built by craftsmen from the Old Country. It had observed the past hundred plus years through the two windows that peered out from under its low front verandah; I ducked under the apricot tree on the north east as I walked around to the back yard.

I had discovered the old mulberry tree the previous spring, and now parted the canopy and disappeared beneath it. The late afternoon sunlight filtered down through the large, lime green leaves. Low branches hid me from view and arched out to form a cave full of translucent light; black twisted twigs, partly obscured, held clusters of ripening fruit. Each bunch of berries varied in colour from pink, to red, to deep purple...they glowed in the sunlight like individual arrangements of precious jewels, but the couple of prized juicy, ripe black ones were the only ones to pick.
Very few went into the bowl I held.

Jan Lowing ©

THE CAR by Gloria Moress

(The assignment was to describe an object so the emotional state of the narrator (point of view/character) is revealed without telling the reader what the emotional state is or what motivated the "said" state.)

We bought the car when I was about 36 weeks pregnant, because we both had utes. I was shown two to test drive: a red Camry and a white Falcon. I chose the Camry. We bought the Falcon. That was nearly seven years ago. It hasn’t been looked after at all. The paintwork is marred with trolley scrapes and stone chips, and there are dull patches on the bonnet where the cats sleep. The headlight protector that remains is cracked – better that than the headlight itself, I suppose, but it looks dreadful. The other day my youngest son snapped off the front passenger sun visor. He was terrified of my reaction, but I didn’t have much to say, besides, “Don’t worry, accidents happen.” My older son peeled half the tint film off his window to amuse himself on our last long car trip. It kept him quiet.

There are cigarette burns in the carpet, all though my husband is not supposed to smoke in the car, but you can hardly see them under the dirt, gravel and chaff on the floor. The seat upholstery is stained and the dash is covered in a layer of dust. There is a muddy footprint on the console, too, and cobwebs in the corners of the rear windscreen.

The CD player hasn’t worked for eighteen months. I think there is a ten-cent piece in it. I don’t mind the radio, but you can’t always get reception. I was driving a friend somewhere back in March and she pointed out that one of the shockies had gone, it was just another noise to me. I know it needs a steering alignment; the shudders at 100km/hr are pretty obvious.

Today as I wound down the window to get the mail, the window just stuck, halfway, refusing to wind in either direction. Of course we are in the middle of a rainy spell, and I can’t get in to the garage because of all the junk. Never mind. I’ll tell my husband when he comes home for lunch.

Gloria Moress ©


The assignment was to describe an object so the emotional state of the narrator (point of view/character) is revealed without telling the reader what the emotional state is or what motivated the "said" state.)

The damage isn’t severe, you would have to look twice to even see it, but it’s more about what it says. The curved crack in the brakelight reflector appears to be sneering; it’s saying ‘You are getting in everyone’s way, no wonder someone ran into the back of you.’

Who wants to hear that from a piece of cheap plastic?

If only it was cheap! The slightest cosmetic change to the lights and reflectors justifies the magic word NEW in television commercials. The ‘new Mk IV’ or the ‘New Phase5’ look only slightly different to previous models – but that suffices.

It means my brakelight reflectors went out of production three face-lifts ago. The local garage will have to contact the manufacturer for a replacement. It could be hard to locate, there will probably be a delay and it will definitely be expensive. Anyone would think it was from a rare hand-built luxury car instead of a mass-produced model of Japanese mediocrity.

The latest fashionable reflectors are moulded red plastic of course, just like the old ones. Every car requires them so why can’t they be standard items – and cheap – like number plates? Why does everything have to change?

Dave Wellings ©

Thursday, 9 August 2007

THE BOTTLE by Brian Hodgkinson

(The assignment was to describe an object so the emotional state of the narrator (point of view/character) is revealed without telling the reader what the emotional state is or what motivated the "said" state.)

It’s a beautiful bottle, really.

Not one of your conventionally-shaped round-shouldered red wine bottles.

Nor one of those slender tapering ones that white wine usually comes in.
Nor is it one of those saddle-shaped, hip-pocket-fitting flask sorts which normally contain spirits.

No, it’s so unusual, with a very narrow pouring neck and a slight profiling of the body, just at the right place to hold it when filling a glass.

You might almost think it would be unstable; it’s so narrow and seemingly weightless.
I’ve often seen his hands holding it, just at that right place for holding.

And the narrowness of the pouring neck seemed always perfect for the delicate way in which he filled the glass.

The colour? It doesn’t have a colour; really, it’s virtually transparent, except that it always took on the colour of the liquid within it, transforming even that with a variety of rainbow shades which were so elusive as he swirled it before pouring.

Pouring so often.

But, of course, I don’t see him pouring these days.

Not now he’s gone.

It just sits on the drinks trolley, along with the other, ordinary bottles.

So much more refined than the other, ordinary bottles.

In the same way that he always seemed so much more refined than the other, ordinary men.

Except in his alcoholism.

The label, you ask?

I don’t know, really, it’s just oval-shaped, with red lettering on a sort of ivory-coloured background.

But I can’t read it – it’s in a script which is unintelligible to me.

He could read it, of course, it wasn’t unintelligible to him.

He used sometimes to read it out to me, strange-sounding words in a difficult dialect sort of voice.

And laugh.

Laugh because I said that it was all Greek to me.

It is all Greek, he would say, and laugh again, pouring another glass, holding the delicate bottle in his delicate hands, watching the rainbow-filled liquid fill the glass.

It’s a miracle that the bottle didn’t break when he dropped it.

Dropped it on the hard tiled floor when he clutched at his heart, called my name in a sort of strangled way, and died.

I remember picking up the bottle and thinking “why didn’t it break?”
His heart broke.

My heart broke.

But the bottle didn’t.

Isn’t it strange?

Brian Hodgkinson ©

WEDDING RING by Nelma Ward

(The assignment was to describe an object so the emotional state of the narrator (point of view/character) is revealed without telling the reader what the emotional state is or what motivated the "said" state.)

Gold – its said to be warm and pliable, but this gold is cold and hard. No body heat to warm it up, I suppose.

It sits there, a symbol – supposedly a symbol of everlasting love and fidelity. This ring is more a sign – in its shape, I mean – of a fetter, a restraint. Even of bondage. Its round shape is encompassing like a prison.

The roundness supposedly suggests something eternal, and also that it is a thing that binds two people together. Binding two people - a token of possession. How could the giving of such a thing – this unadorned basic ring – mean that someone can possess someone else!

It’s a plain utilitarian thing I guess. Not decorative at all. Nothing adorns it. Other rings have a diamond. That glitters. It sparkles and gives a sense of hope and happiness. This plain gold ring is a tie to something no longer valued.

There are words engraved on the inside. What a waste. Such personal words that the ring couldn’t be worn by anyone else.

I guess the thing has a monetary value. Of course it has. Gold is valuable. These rings aren’t supposed to have a cash value though. Everyone asks about engagement rings – how much did it cost? No one asks that of a wedding ring. The value of a wedding ring is in its intrinsic sentimental worth.

As I said, its just a cold lump of metal. Signifying nothing.

Nelma ©

Friday, 8 June 2007

"Harvesting the Arts" Festival, April 2007

The Clifton Writers' Group had a display at the inaugural 2007 Cambooya R.A.D.F. "Harvesting the Arts" Festival at the Greenmount Hall, Greenmount on Friday 27th April and Saturday 28th April.

A SHORT TALE? Dave Wellings

(This story is in response to our June assignment where we were asked to write a children's story)

I like being a boxer. I have to exercise a lot and eat all the right kinds of food to keep in shape. I'm always hungry. I bounce up and down on my toes and move around fast, my trainer says I'm a natural show off. Sometimes, when I'm too rough, I get sent outside to play with a ball in the yard.

School is boring, I prefer competing at a show. We all travel together in the family stationwagon and we meet lots of other boxers. We get nervous when it's my turn to go into the ring - my trainer gets more nervous than me. There are always many people around the ring, watching and applauding as I do my stuff. Sometimes I win a trophy and then I get lots of pats on the back! Then we come home and I dream of being a champion one day.

The part I like best is our jog around the park in the morning when it is still cool and quiet. My trainer wakes me early, calling "C'mon Tyson! Walkies!"

Dave ©


(This story is in response to the June assignment where we were asked to write a children's story.)

Jaimie is four years old, she likes to visit her nanna McDonald, who has a farm.
She loves playing with the animals and helps to feed them.

The last time Jaimie went to the farm lots of things happened, it was a very eventful visit!

When they arrived it was time to give the animals their tea. The puppies had grown a lot since the last time Jaimie saw them.

“Can’t they go back, nanna?” asked Jaimie.

“Go back where?” said nanna.

“Back to being little,” said Jaimie.

“Sorry, Jaimie, they grow up like little girls, but later on there will be some more tiny ones to play with.”

“Ouch! They’ve got scratchy toes!” yelled Jaimie, as Cinny jumped around saying hello.

Nanna cut her toe nails with a special clipper and that was much better.

Next Jaimie took some old bread from the chooks’ bucket to feed Tilly the pony. She loves bread and gobbled it up.

Jaimie put her hand out to pat her but Tilly thought she had some more bread, ‘Nip’ went her teeth! She nearly got Jaimie’s fingers!

In the morning after breakfast, Jaimie put her sandals on and went off to feed the sheep, chooks, ducks and puppies.

Smudge the cat came to say Hello, she was in the hayshed looking for mice. She loves Jaimie carrying her around with her arms around her tummy. They went over to the chook yard.

Jaimie’s toes were poking out the front of her sandals and a brown hen thought they were nice fat pink worms!



That night Jaimie was sitting on the tail gate of the ute while nanna fed the dogs. She threw some meat to each dog as they drove past their kennels. Then nanna took off too fast over a bump and “WHOMP!”

Jaimie landed in the grass flat on her back!

Oh dear. Silly nanna.

It was very hot next day, so nanna took Jaimie to the pool in Clifton for a swim.
Three other girls came to play with her, and she stayed in the water a long time. Her eyes got very sore and she couldn’t see, she’d left her goggles at home.

Nanna had to try and put drops in them, then she had a shower and washed the pool water away.

Next morning they were better.

“We’ll get some goggles in town”, said nanna.

When they got to George’s house Di was there giving his poodle a hair cut.
When she was finished Soda ran around like mad, jumping and playing with the others. She felt so much better with short hair!

On the way home they stopped at Tony’s to see some baby chicks. Jaimie was getting back in the ute when she got lots of nasty khaki burrs in her toes. YOWCH! Poor toes!
A swim with her new goggles made them better.

Next day Jaimie and nanna gave the animals their breakfast, then Jaimie watched ABC Kids.

When she came out to see what nanna was doing she stepped on something in the grass, and SCREAMED!!!!!!

A bee had bitten her toe! Jaimie was very quick and brushed it away but it HURT. LOTS.

Nanna got some ice to put on it and Jaimie watched a video. After awhile it felt a bit better and they went to Donovans’ and had a swim in their deep pool. Jaimie swam very well, a bit like a mermaid!

When they got home nanna was training a pup and Jaimie stood and watched by Grace’s kennel.

All of a sudden a sheep rushed off on its own, straight at Jaimie!

Oh No! Over she went, head over heels!

She was brave and got up quickly.

Stupid sheep! The pup had frightened it.

That night nanna took Jaimie to Nobby and they got fish and chips for tea. Jaimie had a big swing in the park while they cooled down a bit, then they sat and ate, watching a lovely sunset. There was a new moon in the sky too, Jaimie thought it was very beautiful.

Next morning Jaimie went home. Her dad came to Beaudesert to meet her.
She was pleased to be going home.

This time her trip to the farm had been a bit too eventful!

Next time she comes to the farm Jaimie isn’t going to wear her sandals!

Jan ©


(Our June assignment was to write a children's story.)

Zorro began to shake.
His soft brown ears stood upright, alert to all the voices and noises around him. His sparkling brown eyes bulged with fear.
‘O-oh. What’s going on?’ he thought worriedly. He COULDN’T REST.

Cupboards being emptied, boxes being packed, all the humans coming and going.
‘This looks serious … where are they going? What about me? What if they leave me here all alone?’

Nervously, he followed The Queen Human around from room to room. Whenever she pulled anything out of a cupboard, Zorro lay on top of it.
‘Don’t forget me!’ his big brown eyes pleaded.

Anxiously he stayed close as The Queen Human carried yet another box down to the car.
‘I’ll jump in and stay here’, he decided. ‘Then she can’t leave without me’. Even though he felt safer, he STILL COULDN’T REST.

“Zorro, you’ll get heat exhaustion sitting in the car all day!” It was the Queen Human gazing at Zorro as he sweltered in the hot sun pouring through the back window of the car.
“Come on darling” she soothed. “I won’t leave you behind. It’s all OK”.

Zorro cradled into her arms as she went inside for another load. He felt a bit better, and was just starting to relax when a huge truck came noisily beeping backwards into the driveway.
‘What now?’ thought Zorro.

Two big burly blokes, moving very quickly indeed, started grabbing pieces of furniture, heaving them down the stairs, and putting them into the truck. This was just too much! It was like a great big cavern that opened up and swallowed everything that meant home to Zorro. What was going on?

Zorro felt helpless. Keeping a close eye on the Queen Human, he lay down safely out of the way of the muscly men. But he STILL COULDN’T REST. He WOULDN’T rest. Home was being taken away before his very eyes!

Before long, the truck doors were slammed shut, the men leapt inside the cabin, and it was on its way. But to where?

Then the Queen Human called Zorro to the car, the others hopped in, and squeezing in among all the boxes and brooms, they drove away from the empty house. It seemed like a good time to start shaking again. He STILL COULDN’T REST. Even though they hadn’t forgotten him, he still had no idea where they were going.
It was such a relief when they arrived at the new house. Not only was all their furniture there, but the Queen Human had already put Zorro’s bed and bowl in a special place – just for him!

That night things still felt quite strange – new sounds and new smells surrounded him. But Zorro was with his family, and that meant that this new house was now HOME. NOW HE COULD REST.

Jennie Peut ©


“Someone’s moved into the old Walden place.”

“You’re kidding?” Ralph turned to the postmistress, eyebrows raised. “That old joint!”

Mavis shrugged and handed him the mailbag, “They left a note pinned to the door over the weekend.” She picked it up and poked her owlish glasses back into place, “J. Briese, 678 Walden’s Road.”

“I’m surprised anyone would find it habitable,” Ralph replied. He stowed the mailbag and parcels in the van, slapped the “mail contractor” sticker on the side, and began his run.

Jane was delighted with the place. Oh, she knew the house needed some work, certainly a lick of paint, but it was solid enough. The garden was the real treasure. The orchard had somehow survived decades of neglect, and was bursting with fruit she doubted her grandchildren would recognise. Medlar, loquat, quince, and fig, perfect for picking and preserving. There was nothing like cooking with your own produce. And the old wood stove would be perfect for drying tomatoes when she got a crop going. The veggie garden would be a bit more work. Never mind, she told herself, I might be past digging, but the lasagna method would do the trick. Lasagna has certainly done the trick on me, she thought, as she pinched a roll of fat round her middle. With a sigh, she headed inside for a bikkie and a cuppa.


Ralph pulled in the drive of the Walden place. The drive was rutted with gravel washouts like little creek beds, and the grass was level with the van windows. He couldn’t see the house, but he held it in his mind’s eye from many years ago. He’d been a regular visitor then, and the house, although nothing flash, was a tidy little four-roomed cottage with a front verandah and a lean-to kitchen out the back. Some delicious meals had come from it, too. There was no power here then, and he’d often sat out the front and chatted in the glow cast from the kerosene lamps inside. He knew no one had lived there since old man Walden had gone into the nursing home in the seventies. The place must be falling to pieces.

The mailbox was new, however. The old milk can had been removed and a shiny white microwave sat atop the fence post. It looked almost new. He pressed the door release to slip in the local newsletter, and started in surprise. There sat a steaming mug of coffee, the rich aroma beckoning, condensation forming inside the door, rendering the little note propped against the cup slightly limp. “For you,” it read.

Against his better judgment, he took the cup and sipped it. It was perfect. Strong, with just a drop of milk, and one sugar. He sat for a moment, deliberating. It must be for me, he thought, who else opens a mailbox? But how did they know how I have my coffee? Must be a joke from someone I know. Someone who knows. Not very funny. But he finished the coffee anyway, and to show whoever it was that they hadn’t got the better of him, he scribbled a polite thank you on the back of the note before he left.


Jane collected the mail after her cuppa. She was rather pleased with her idea of using the microwave as a mailbox. It was almost new, too good to simply throw away, but no use to her here with out power. She’d never really liked microwaving food, anyway. It didn’t seem natural. Her late husband, Des, had wanted her to have all the mod cons. He’d been a dear that way. Her children hadn’t wanted the thing, either; they had huge, complicated stainless steel jobs. It would probably enjoy its new life as a mail receptacle. It would certainly get more use! Not much mail today, but the mug had been drained to the last drop, obviously appreciated, she thought with a smile.


February 14th was a surprisingly light day for mail. They all email and text now, Ralph thought, not like the good old days. Romance shouldn’t have an electronic component. At Walden’s Road, there was nothing to deliver, but he checked the box in case there was a pick up. There was. A heart shaped, pink iced cookie as big as his hand. For a moment, Ralph was stunned. Then, in a rush of heat, he became angry. This wasn’t funny. It was a long time ago, and he didn’t need old wounds opened at this stage of his life. He was sixty, for God’s sake! He left the cookie and the drive in a cloud of dust.


The dust was still hanging in the air when Jane rounded the last curve in the drive. When she saw the cookie still there, her heart fell. Oh well, she thought, absently biting into a corner, there’s always Easter in a few weeks. She’d already waited a lifetime.


Ralph quizzed his mates and their wives about the Valentine’s Day prank. All pleaded innocence and ignorance. He was baffled. He’d been so sure it was Eddie, just like him to stir, but Ed had seemed genuinely shocked. “I wouldn’t do that to you, mate,” he’d said soberly.

The weeks passed without further incident, and Ralph forced himself to put it out of his mind. Whoever it was had gotten the message, anyway, he thought. There were extra parcels to deliver in the week leading up to Easter, and he often pondered all the families that were apart at special times of the year, but still made the effort to show loved ones they cared. They were the lucky ones. He’d never married, never had any children, and the older he grew, the more he felt it. His friends were forever babysitting, going to Grandparent’s day at the school, football games and the like, while he pottered around his too big house and too small garden, alone.

As he turned into Walden’s Road, he thought about how different his life might have been if old man Walden hadn’t been such a bigoted old bastard. Ralph was a Catholic, and the Walden’s Lutheran, and no way was a Mick from town going to marry his girl. He’d sent her to secretarial college in the city to separate them, and he’d heard later that she’d married and had a few kids. All good full-blooded Prussians, no doubt.

Lost in thought, the egg caught him off guard. Oh for God’s sake, he fumed, not more of this rubbish! It was huge, must have weighed close to a kilo, and filled the interior of the microwave. It wasn’t store bought, but had been molded and decorated by hand. There were fine, lacey scrolls at each end, dotted with tiny pink, blue and mauve flowers, and his name was traced across the side in elegant cursive. Ralph felt all the years of loneliness press on his heart, the weight of all the leaden days he’d spent missing her slowly crushing him. He leaned back against the car seat and closed his eyes. This was too cruel. The emptiness was too complete to fight.

But rain, hail, sleet or snow, the post must be delivered. All those Easter gifts in the van had homes to go to. He opened his eyes. There was a woman standing beside his open window, the egg cradled in her hands. He jumped, and she smiled gently. “Not like you to turn down a feed, Ralph,” she chuckled. “Lost your sweet tooth, have you?”

Ralph stared at her; her eyes, green flecked hazel, were faded but held the same twinkle. The turned up nose had lost some of its pertness, but was still cute, and her lips the same droll bow he remembered. Her hair was finer, grayer, but it suited her short, showing off her rosy apple cheeks. She was a little softer, a little rounder, but it was, unbelievably, Jane Walden.

“Take this will you,” she thrust the egg through the window, “it’s melting in my hot little hands.”

Ralph stared, knowing how foolish he must look, but unable to conceal his amazement. “I can’t believe it’s you,” he said at last. “I thought someone was playing a prank.”

“It’s me all right.” Suddenly shy, she looked down at her hands, rubbing at the chocolate smears with the corner of her apron. Forty years was a long time, but not long enough to forget a fond friendship that had blossomed into a tender love.

“I’ve just about finished my run,” Ralph said, “any chance of another of your fabulous coffees?”

Their eyes met, the wisdom reflected in them and the deep lines around them speaking volumes about the time that had been lost, time that could never be recovered. But the same youthful spirits that had fallen in love all those years ago still shone through, and in that long look, they promised each other that whatever time they had left, it would be enough.

Gloria Moress ©

GLOYED By Jan Lowing

(The task was to compose an original tale with an animal as the main character).

Like most farmers, I had a very mixed bag of sheepdogs before I got a really good one. Tradition has it that you only own one remarkable dog in a life time, and I’d have to agree. My first pup was given to me by one of our shearers. It mysteriously disappeared while I was finishing my wool classing course and I suspected my father had put it down because it was useless. Nevertheless, I wept many bitter tears over him. The next pup was given me by a boyfriend. Meg was a Border Collie and quite a well bred one. I trained her to work on our property and she became quite useful. An old local offered to put a dog trial on for our Young Farmers Club, and Meg underwent a crash course in navigating sheep through obstacles for a week or so. On the day of the trial it was patently obvious that I was the only one who’d bothered to tune up their dog. After a most entertaining morning I was presented with the big trophy, a tiny gold and white Border Collie pup.

Glide, as I called her, was a real blue blood. Maybe too much so, in fact, because her close inbreeding prevented her from getting in pup later in life. As a tiny puppy she practised on the small mob of ‘killers’ that we kept around the house to trim the grass. She was content to lie quietly watching them feed for hours, but when I appeared she would collect them up and walk them along beside me. Soon she was doing most of the farm work and Meg was rather neglected… until dad found she was a big improvement on his old dog Ring, and gradually began to use her instead.

The shearers hated Glide. She wasn’t keen on strangers, and as she got older she’d sneak around behind them growling. If they told her to shoot through she was inclined to dive in and give them a nip on the heel. Poor old Rusty Graham, in particular, got this treatment. He could never work out her name either, thinking I was saying ‘Glade’. To get through to him I had to say ‘Gloyed’!I think Rusty was very relieved when I married and moved to Western Australia. Glide soon had all the stock and station travellers well trained, they would leave messages under a stone on the gate post…but when my parents visited a year later Glide greeted them with great excitement.

We had a thousand acres of bush country that was impossible to drive over because of mallee roots puncturing the tyres, but we ran our wethers there. When they needed mustering I’d take my lunch out, sit in the ute at the gate, and wait for Glide to turn up with the mob.

I entered her in a three sheep trial at Esperance when she was two. Neither of us had competed before. As I watched the preceding dogs I got very nervous because the big, wild wethers were virtually unworkable. On several occasions they simply jumped the fence and disappeared up the street. Imagine my surprise when Glide walked them around the course without any trouble at all to win the Encourage Trial. A well known dog man was heard to remark, ‘Gawd, look at that! And she isn’t even trained!’

Jan Lowing © 2007

LATE ONE NIGHT By Kathleen Aisthorpe

(The task was to compose an original tale with an animal as the main character).

You know you’ve heard it. You’ve heard it many times, every day, a step on the carpet. It sounds no different now. The sound woke you only because you don’t normally hear it in the middle of the night, when you are alone.

There it is again, another step, making a logical stride. You know, you know with every alert sense in your being, the direction the toes of the unseen foot point. You’ve heard feet move everyday across the carpet, from one end of the living area to the kitchen and back again. The walls aren’t sound proof, you know the sound distinctly, and you are wide awake and alone.

Now three steps.

Just as you know that sound is a step on the carpet, you are pretty sure it can be only another person. You are awake, you are alone and each step is toward your bedroom door. Your heart is pounding and your breathing is closer to the rhythm of a steam train going downhill, your brain is an incoherent jumble with every cell and nerve screaming for the flight button to be pushed. Now, just when you need to most, you realise you can’t move. You can move your eyes but they are glued to the doorway.

Your ears are straining into the gloom trying to stretch to where the eyes stop seeing. Silence, fills the space between the steps, not even a car in the street. Silence so loud it starts to buzz, the rhythm of your heart intertwines and becomes the same rhythm of the buzz.

Buzzing, buzzing, you’re trying to remember to breathe, you can’t move your arms, you can’t scream, nothing.

Four, five, six, seven steps.

You know the distance; you know how many steps it takes. You know you are about to see who and then you do. The curtains filter the light from the street lamp and there is no way you can turn it off, let alone try to cover your head with the sheet.

Buzzing, buzzing your whole body tingles with the buzzing; your heartbeat is no longer distiguisable. He is standing in the doorway, highlighted against the dim shine of the paint of the open door, covered head to toe in sliver grey. Almost as tall as the door, his cloak seems to sparkle with points of light forming and reforming. His hat is low over his eyes but you know he is looking at you. Somehow you know, you just know, he has a momentary pause before he draws his sword.

Who carries a sword?

You know, you just know he does, you know it’s there & for some reason you know, but this knowledge is not comforting. His pause however was all that was needed. The buzzing, the buzzing, your body is filled with buzzing and then it happens.There is nothing you can do, as fast as you can blink an eye, it happens, like a wave it crests over your feet, and the flesh from top half of your body is rolling back with the wave. Rolling faster than thought, curling over the feet, rolling up your legs, body, chest. My God the chest! There is something in your chest, there’s noise, movement and still the wave is rolling, curling over the throat, the head. You’re roaring, no it’s roaring, no you’re roaring, no, no, no. What’s with the roaring noise, you know you can’t roar. A panther lands between you and the figure in the doorway.

Who carries a panther?

If you could move, you don’t know what you would do, you can’t move so you just stare. The panther is onto the figure at the door in one powerful movement, the menace of its growl signals the intent of its attack. The figure has his sword in hand, the moment of contact is an incredible sound, both instantaneously disappear into the wall and floor.

You stare; you’re not even able to think about what happened, you can see your door in the dull reflected light as it has always been. You can hear noises; you know the cat has consumed the figure that was just standing at your door, looking at you.You’re staring, staring, there is no way you are asleep and having a dream. You can’t move you can’t speak and your body is still tingling after being ripped open like a sardine tin. You can’t even rationalise that a panther just jumped out of your chest. You just stare; your heart maintains its high state of anxiety.

The panther steps out from behind the door which is stoppered against the wall. It’s looking at you and you’re looking at it coming toward you. You can’t move so you wait, surrounded in buzzing and tingling all over.

You’re staring, breathing and buzzing so the panther sits, right there beside you, looks at you, you’re looking at it and words come out of the buzzing.

“Be still, sleep now” You’re staring and the last thing you remember is the panther watching the door in perfect patient stillness. As your body pulls toward sleep you know things about this animal that you wouldn’t have thought of before, you know you have an understanding, you know so much that it could be a part of you.

You’re awake, it’s morning, you’re alive and your sane, the room is the same and your cat calling at the window to be let in. You stumble out of bed, you stumble back, and the cat is talking to you, talking, talking. You mumble pleasantries, it refuses to go to its breakfast instead it jumps on your chest looks at you, talking and sniffing your chest. The cat jumps to where you last saw the panther, sniffs the carpet then emits a low growl.

You’re astonished, already you had convinced yourself that last night must have been a one off bad dream so what is the cat doing. It sniffs and growls then runs to behind the open bedroom door and attacks the carpet. Growling, clawing, chewing it attacks the very spot the two had disappeared into, the very spot the grey figure at the door was consumed by the panther, you throw things to make it stop but it won’t stop. So you run and drag the cat out and put it out of the room. The cat comes straight back totally focussed; growling clawing, chewing. You’re buzzing, tingling and totally confused, what happened last night? What happened, what happened?

“Be still”

Kathleen Ann Aisthorpe © 2007

A TRAVELDOGUE By Dave Wellings

(The task was to compose an original tale with an animal as the main character)

The average West African Basenji doesn’t move far from its home village but Rindt was a dog destined to travel. A colleague at Cameroon Air Transport had told me about a litter of Basenji pups slowly dying from a skin infection. The African owners couldn’t or wouldn’t treat it so he had bought one of the few surviving pups and urged me to rescue another. I drove up to the village in the rain forest and negotiated with the owners. In parts of eastern Nigeria and West Cameroon dogs are eaten as a delicacy so the idea of giving one away to a good home, even a dying pup, was foreign to them. The skin disease had already spread to half of Rindt’s body and she looked far from well but as we bumped back down the forest track, she began to sit up and take notice. Land-Rovers aren’t bad, are they?

The nearest vet – the only vet – was located at the government administration centre at Buea, 4,000 feet up on the side of Mount Cameroon. It was back into the Land-Rover for a steep climb through the cloud layers and out into the sunny rarefied air of Buea. The vet assured me that the skin infection was treatable and that a dip in the sea might also hasten the cure. That was fortunate because I had just built a kayak for exploring the islands in the bay and Rindt insisted on coming along. The surf was often wild and as the kayak tilted up into a wave the little dog would slide back along the deck into my lap, or when we were skimming down the other side, she would slide towards the bow and teeter there, like a diver on a high board. Her balance was impeccable, she never fell overboard but when we returned to the shallows she would dive head first into the water, to hunt the darting fish.

Tullis, my Scottish travelling companion, had a Ducati motorbike and I would sometimes ride with him on the pillion. Rindt hated being left behind so we were soon travelling three-up with Rindt between us, her paws resting on Tullis’ shoulders. She didn’t just sit there - she leaned into the corners like a veteran bikie!

When the time came to leave Cameroon, Rindt was obliged to travel in the aircraft hold. I’m sure she would rather have been in the cockpit, leaning out the window. That was more her style. We changed planes at Congo Brazzaville and at Johannesburg and each time Rindt was wheeled about ignominiously in her cage, like a piece of luggage. We whistled to her to let her know we were close at hand. Basenjis don’t bark but when they are excited they throw back their heads and yodel like a coyote. Rindt replied to our whistles with a blood-curdling howl that startled the airport staff!

She lived many happy years in Rhodesia, never missing an opportunity to ride on the back of my Peugeot ute or sitting in style in the cab with her nose out in the breeze. She still rode behind Tullis on his bike and she would come along as crew on my sailing dingy, standing in the bow like a figurehead and occasionally diving into the lake after the darting fish.

One day I was faced with a terrible dilemma. A motor racing friend had made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: to fly to England and co-drive his Chevron-BMW racing car. I didn’t want to leave Rindt but if I took her with me, she would have to stay in British quarantine for six months. Tullis was working in the bush on a health project but he agreed to take care of her. As he said, she was no stranger to Land-Rovers.

My proposed year in England stretched out to four and when I next met up with Tullis in Africa, Rindt was no longer with him. He had returned to Scotland a couple of years earlier to stay with his sister. Rindt had moved in with them after doing her ‘time’ in quarantine and had adapted quite happily, as usual. She had become part of the family and Tullis had thought it would be cruel to uproot her once more when he left. He had last seen her with his sister’s kids, hurtling down a snow-covered hill, on the back of a toboggan!

Dave Wellings © 2007


(The following is from a monthly assignment where the writers were given the task to summarise a poem into a Haiku.)


I have seen sunset on moors and windy hills
Coming in solemn beauty like slow old tunes of Spain
I have seen the Lady April bringing the daffodils
Bringing the springing grass and the soft warm April rain.

I have heard the song of the blossoms and the old chant of the sea
And seen strange lands from under the sails of ships
But the loveliest things of beauty God ever has showed to me
Are her voice, and her hair, and eyes and the dear red curve of her lips.

John Masefield.

Been there done all that
Sensations from natures world
Lovelier is she.

Ian Jones ©

THE DIG by Nelma Ward

There were shards of sharp edged glass
hard ultramarine and softly curled
Turned up baby bleached snail shells
dryly brittle and silver lined
And sienna nails with flat dented heads
flaking sides and blunted tips
One whole treasurea perfect cup handle
white and glazed and porous at the ends
It too curled shell like
We thought ourselves latterday archaeologists
although we didn’t neatly ink our finds
our avid joy was not diminished
With the dry ashy earth
we found apricot bits of brick
still warm
and a perfect brown fluted bottle
small and whole and jewel like
with its cemented black lid
Faster faster
Sardine key
eyelet screw with screwed up thread
heavy tobacco tin
prised open it revealed
a solid block of
chewing earth
a dead beetle
with one feeler
two ants
a seed
Dig dig
Turn up the previous occupants burial
we leave this
our broken bit
sour forsaken junk
nothing whole
just an enigma
Take them up
handle them

©Nelma Ward


What wakes you up each morning? A radio maybe….
Always at the same time, with monotonous certainty.

I haven’t any curtains, no blinds to stop the light,
But it’s not the sun that wakes me, glowing golden bright.

The eastern sky is pale as my morning call first comes…
A mellow magpie warble from the towering sugar gum.

I pull the bed clothes higher to beat the pre dawn chill

And snuggle down to wait for the butcher bird’s first trill.

He starts off very carefully, his basic three note call,
Like a maestro warming up at old Carnegie Hall.

Then the exercises over, his concert starts for real
Interrupted often by the peewee’s strident peal.

Magpie calls are added in a liquid burbling stream
And the butcher bird expands variations on his theme;

Pure and true the flutelike calls, a pregnant pause between,
The clever, tricky semi tones, every note so clean.

Drowsily I listen to my alarm, so musical…
And pity everyone whose call is strictly digital.

Jan Lowing 2006 ©

THE BUSH BABY by Marion de la Croix

Great Divining Range south of Toowoomba Queensland, 1916.

Clancy and I had been friends since we were babies and as we grew we shared the love of horses and riding in the bush. This particular day we had been out since dawn and we had ridden miles up into the Great Dividing Range. We had spotted a clearing from below where we decided to have lunch and boil the Billy.

We came upon the clearing already occupied by a mob of kangaroos on the far side. A few fed, several appeared to doze while others lay in the sun. As we were downwind, they hadn’t yet sensed our presence.

‘Look, look,’ Clancy whispered excitedly.

For a moment, I couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary then amidst the furry clan; I saw what looked like a human baby. I looked again. Yes, it was definitely a baby.

‘What’s it doing all the way up here we ought to make sure its all right,’ said Clancy.

As we urged our horses forward the mob spotted us, the baby turned its head in our direction then to our amazement hopped about five feet and jumped into the pouch of a big red. All of a sudden, they fled into the thick scrub on the other side of the clearing.

‘Did we see what we saw Clarrie?’ he asked.

‘Well I know I did,’ I told him breathlessly.

‘No one will believe us.’‘Do we have to tell them?’ I asked.

‘Course, it’s not normal and its mother must be frantic.’

‘I suppose,’ I agreed, ‘but everyone will think we are crazy.’

We stopped and dismounted. Clancy unsaddled the horses and led them to the creek to drink while I lit the fire and put on the Billy.

The tea tasted good, hot and strong and I lay back against an ancient eucalypt. I imagined some poor distraught mother searching hopelessly for her baby she had no hope of finding.

The baby we had seen most definitely hopped so it would have to have been with the kangaroos for a while. It looked about the same size as my baby sister and she was two.

We arrived home in the dark exhausted but happy and went our separate ways.

‘See you Clarrie.’

‘See you Clancy.’

Everyone shouted us down and my father laughed and said we must have fallen asleep under a tree and dreamed the whole thing. What both of us with the same dream?

A few months later, we decided to return and see if we could spot the baby. No one else had reported any sightings but we knew exactly where to look.

We found the same clearing but absent of kangaroos. We lit the fire anyway and saddened we hadn’t found any trace of the baby, a sombre mood descended on us. The horses cropped companionably beside us as we sipped our hot brew and listened to the sound of nature. A Willie wagtail and some fairy wrens kept us company, whistling and dancing round.

Suddenly, we heard them thump, thump, and thump. The mob hopped into the clearing and we held our breath. Our horses, accustomed to kangaroos continued to graze as the mob appeared, paused and stopped. One by one they relaxed and began to nibble the grass. A couple lay down and began to groom their thick fur.

I felt certain I had recognised the big red. She stood proud and tall and I noticed movement in her pouch. Out hopped the baby and sat on his haunches exactly like any other kangaroo would.

It turned and faced us and immediately we could see it was a boy. His hair had grown way past his shoulders but his body was also covered in a thin film of hair. He turned back to the big red and looked up at her face. Some signal must have passed between them as he hopped a few feet away and put his head down, mouth buried in the lush grasses and began to eat. His hands remained tucked into his belly.

‘He’s happy!’ said Clancy in amazement.

‘So he is,’ I agreed.

Hypnotised we watched the family scene and noticed the child looked completely at ease. Every so often, he looked at his mother as any Joey would but suddenly, undetected by us, one of the kangaroos gave the alarm. The baby immediately returned to his foster mother and hopped into her pouch. Within the blink of an eye the mob had gone.

‘I think we can leave them in peace Clancy.’

‘I agree,’ I said quietly, still in awe of what we had witnessed.

We saddled up, rode home and vowed never to mention this story to anyone.

Great Divining Range south of Toowoomba, Queensland, 1995.

When my grandfather died, I had come here from my home in Sydney for the last time to clear out his things. Amongst some papers in an old box, I found the above story.

An unbelievable tale, which I had thought, had been the wanderings of an old man until recently. A newspaper article mentioned a sighting in the mountains not far from here of a wild man, old dirty and naked.

Of course, it had been put down to someone’s imagination. However, I have proof and know otherwise.

Marion de la Croix 2006 ©

HANNIBAL by Althea Rhyl Bell

Primitive male
Little brooding eyes,
Long skinny tail
Dark shaggy matted hair,
You wandered on the plains
Long gone,

The sabre toothed tiger looked
And then passed by
You defied all
And loved your kind,
Your size made carnivore man

You did not kill with heavy foot
Unless threatened,
Gentle giant heart contained,
I stand gazing

Like great Hannibal who
Used the elephant to travel,
Conquer and destroy
Minor Asia wept and trembled.

But for you,
Strength and Power defeated
…climate change.

Now emerging, for us to see
As snows melt,
Wilted like a Tundra Crocus,
The icy peat exposes
Your kin’s soggy, ivory laden

Can humans, lemming like,
Electrify a suspended cell and clone
……Great giant will we see you walk again?

Regally, you stand
In Vancouver Island’s Museum,
A mammoth, stuffed, called

Althea Rhyl Bell ©



(Note: This is the September Assignment. Our members had a choice of a number of topics. We were to choose an unfamiliar topic and perhaps research it and produce poetry or prose. Dave has chosen "the mechanisms in the Tower of Westminster" which houses Big Ben.)


Our sprockets and cogs are no longer in fashion,

Gadgets today are controlled by the digit.

Cyber technology is embraced with a passion

Yet we, in our way, stay up to the minute.

Your famous face is a national symbol

Which gets all the credit. A familiar story:

We toil all hours on no more than a thimble

Of oil so others may bask in the glory.

Turning your hand to such a self-centred trick

Is what we’d expect from a clock

But remember we know just what makes you tick –

And vee haff ways of making you tock!

Dave Wellings ©