Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Witching hour...

There are witches among us.

As Halloween grows near, it seems the right time to talk about power and spells, although this is not about cackling and cauldrons.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Happy birthday dad...

Today would have been my dad’s 82nd birthday.
It’s been 21 years since I was able to celebrate his birthday with him in person, and even then, on his 61st birthday, I would have been away at uni. I hope I remembered to call him, I think I did, even at that stage I knew his health was bad and I feared losing him. Every time the phone rang early or late at night my heart skipped a beat, desperately hoping it wasn’t the call I feared. When that call did come, at 8.30 am on 9 February 1993, I had been deeply asleep, and my only thought was crankiness that I’d overslept and would be late for my meeting with my honours-degree supervisor. I never made that meeting.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Past postcards: It’s time to meet the Muppets…

I admitted to my friend Ingrid last night that I’ve always had a bit of a crush on Rowlf the Dog from the Muppets. Hey, the heart wants what heart wants. Don't judge me! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Echo and Narcissus

The real story was that Echo and Narcissus had known each other for many, many years. That’s not the popular version, where Echo is cursed by a vengeful goddess to always repeat the last word spoken to her and Narcissus, meeting her in the forest, disdainfully rejects her in favour of his one great love: his reflection.

Echo and Narcissus by Gabe Walker

Monday, September 23, 2013

Out of the labyrinth

He was lost and she had found him. She just appeared one day, a friend of a friend, uninvited truth be told, but fitting right in with a smile and a laugh.

Theseus had been struggling through the labyrinth but Ariadne made it like a stroll through an exotic garden. She’d charmed the chimeras, griffins and basilisks, inviting those fearsome beasts to join them for a tea party. Needless to say the Minotaur was no threat either, Theseus had his arrows at the ready, but the old monster just lowed gently when she playfully scratched him behind his craggy horns.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Siren's Song

Her songs once drew sailors, heroes and adventurers to her side.  She sang of fabulous places and faraway spaces, entrancing them and bringing their fantasies to life.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Game of Thrones…and Egos…

People say living in Canberra can be dull, but I’ve decided the next few months are a chance to inhabit a world that appears to be a combination of Elizabethan politics and Westeros.

To whit: the rule of the redheaded and childless queen Julia Gloriana (Juliana?) is undermined by rumours that she knifed the previous ruler, a mercurial and strange albino whose ghostly presence refuses to depart this earthly realm.

Betwixt assassination attempts by her own advisers the queen is forced to defend herself from the one with the sobriquet of The Mad Monk, who stands against the age of reform with a growing power base of conservatism.

Friday, May 24, 2013

No sex and the city

There are some people who, if they'd just had the disastrous date I've had on their last night in New York, would despair. But not me. It's all grist for the writing-mill. I don't need a superannuation fund, my retirement plan will be a best selling memoir titled Dear Men of the World: just because I'm buxom, doesn't mean I'm going to sleep with you!

The first thing you need to know, is that yes I have large breasts. Since I was about 15 I’ve been either a C or a D cup. And that’s meant since that time men have judged my personality and character by the size of my boobs. The offers, catcalls and leers I’ve had directed at me since I was a teenager have been on a sliding scale of crude to offensive and harassment. Even the good guys can’t help but stare. I once went on a date when I lived in Edinburgh, with a radio-advertising executive I’d worked with on a PR campaign. He was used to seeing me in office clothes. When we sat down at the restaurant and I took off my coat, I didn’t think my dress was particularly low-cut but his eyes did that thing you only see in cartoons when they pop out of someone’s head. I didn’t think that was even possible. And after a reading I gave at a Catholic wedding, the very sweet and very devout priest said, “I’ll now ask the breast man to give a reading.” My friends still haven’t let me live that one down.

The second thing you need to know is that yes, I’m in New York at the moment. I’ve been here for a couple of weeks, living the high life. I’ve had wonderful friends visit and have gone to shows, eaten great food and been shopping, shopping, shopping.

On my first day in the city I went shopping in Soho, near the corner of Broadway and Lafayette St. One particular shop caught my eye (the word SALE may have been involved) and in I went. I found a truly gorgeous blue organza and cotton top that fluted down into a mini peacock-like tail. The shop manager was very taken with me straight away. After a delightful spot of mutual flirting, he asked me out. I gave him my number but told him I was spending time with a good friend who was visiting so he could call me after she’d left. He respected that and after some toing and froing we arranged a date.

What a frisson to my travels a bit of light-hearted flirting gave, and I noticed that men all over the city were eager to indulge this with me. Every time I spoke men’s eyes would light up and they would want to hear more. It’s rare that an Anglo-Australian gets to be exotic, so yes I lapped it up. It’s been fun and harmless and something that doesn’t happen in Canberra, where flirting seems to be a lost art. Here smiling, holding a gaze and laughing are all about attention, not intention. That’s the big difference; it’s just about sharing a moment of mutual interest with someone and making each other feeling a bit special. It isn’t about trying to get into someone’s pants.

So I was excited to be going on a date with someone I’d enjoyed such a moment with. Of course, I might be light-hearted and adventurous when I’m travelling but I’m not stupid, I made sure I let my big sister at home know where I would be, what his name was, his phone number and what shop he managed. To be honest I didn’t even know his last name, and I was a bit nervous about going out with a stranger when I am totally on my own in a strange city. I even dreamt the night before the date that we were in Central Park and had to escape a horde of marauding zombies.

As it turned out, it wasn’t zombies I had to worry about. More like a giant octopus with tentacles. His hands were EVERYWHERE within the first five minutes. I had to brush him off my arse and somewhere even more intimate, and I don't mean my boobs. I made it clear from the get–go that I wasn't going to sleep with him. And after that it became a game of how soon he could find an excuse to leave. 40 minutes. I ended up heading back to my own neighbourhood and buying myself dinner. At least there the waitress admired the lovely silk dress I’d put on. And then a man at the subway exit turnstile admired the very fabulous shoes I was wearing, so the care I took with my outfit didn’t go unnoticed.

So here I am, in my New York apartment, writing about a crappy date. How very, very Sex and the City of me. It’s just as well I am a writer; although if I wrote this up as fiction people would say it’s too far fetched to be believed.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The bell, the ghost and the stone angels

A vintage glass bell is not the most practical travel accessory but it seems fitting for my travels.

It hasn’t been with me the whole time; we found each other in the seaside town of Rockport, Massachusetts, an hour out of Boston.  Rockport has a long history, it’s America’s most renowned artists’ colony, and its harbour is the view most depicted in artistic interpretations in the whole country. I was staying on the headland, overlooking the sea, and visited the town by taking the old Garden Path along the shoreline. Even if the guesthouse I was staying in hadn’t been called The Captain’s House, I still would have expected the dashing poltergeist from The Ghost and Mrs Muir to stop by. Sadly no such visit occurred, which is probably for the best, although I know he would have liked my glass bell.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


I’ve just been to see the latest romcom out this month-I Give It A Year. My suggestion is you ignore the title…and don’t even give it five minutes.

Subverting the romcom genre is one thing, throwing in crassness can work, but it’s another entirely to expect audiences to spend two hours with thoroughly unlikeable and selfish characters.  

Rather than dwelling on how much I wanted to slap almost every single character (an urge I also had to subdue for The Silver Linings Playbook, another ‘subverted’ romcom), I started to go over what makes a romcom zing for me.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy New Year (again)!

Happy New Year? What? Did I imbibe a bit too deeply of mango daiquiris on the 31 December and miss the big event?

Actually I’m talking about Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival. The day heralds the arrival of the first solar term in the Chinese calendar and is officially the end of winter. It falls on the second new moon after winter solstice, which is why the date changes each year. In comparison to the Gregorian calendar it usually falls between 21 January and 20 February. The traditional greeting is Kung Hei Fat Choi, literally meaning ‘may you be prosperous!’

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Remembering Canberra's firestorm

On the 18th of January 2003 an out of control bushfire that had been burning for a week hit the outer suburbs of my hometown, Canberra, Australia's capital city. Ten hours after it reached the suburb of Duffy, four people had died and 500 homes were lost or severely damaged. The smoke and red haze was visible over the entire city.

I lived on the other side of town, the high temperatures that had lasted all week drove me to seek solace in a late Saturday afternoon nap with all the curtains drawn. When I woke up and opened them the sky was a livid red and charred leaves littered the ground.

This week my editor Amanda at HerCanberra has run a series on our collected memories of the day. Mine is of how proud I am of my big sister Beth…

When the fires hit Canberra in 2003, I was living in the Inner North, in the days immediately after 18th January we were all on high alert to evacuate, but thankfully were spared the devastation others suffered. 

What I remember most is my big sister calling me that night. She worked at Centrelink and told me she was going in on Sunday as part of the emergency response to make sure those who lost their homes and possessions had financial support to get them over the first weeks. She asked me to look after her six year old son and three year old daughter. I’ve always loved spending time with the kids so it was no hardship, I packed my own evacuation kit—photo albums, insurance papers and a few changes of clothes—and closed my door. 

I remember that it was so very hot outside and the skies full of smoke. I kept the little kids inside, the air wasn’t good to breathe and we spent the day jumping in and out of the shower in our swimmers. I am glad to say that they just thought it was silly aunt Hez playing a game with them.

To this day I feel privileged my wonderful sister entrusted her precious children to me and I am so proud of how she and so many others responded and helped out our fellow Canberrans.

For the last few weeks, 10 years on, temperatures have been high again. What surprised me most was how jittery I felt as the thermometer hit 37 and 39 degrees and hot winds picked up speed. I took the precaution of packing a change of clothes and my evacuation kit. 

I found that the things in it were almost identical to the ones I packed 10 years ago: insurance papers, the same photo albums plus a few additional ones and a thumb drive, and my father’s watch. The things that I wanted to preserve 10 years ago are still the most precious things in my life.