the eyes of man

What do we see through the eyes of man?

The sun shining bright on a summer’s day

Or the dark grey storm-clouds of winter?

What do we see through the eyes of man?

The beauty of youth in a red dress

Or the empathy of ageing in a wheelchair?

What do we see through the eyes of man?

The stupidity of ignorance in those who know it all

Or the well-utilised knowledge of those who want to learn?

What do we see through the eyes of man?

The arrogance of a man who knows no better

Or the humility of a woman who compliments others?

What do we see through the eyes of man?

The stupidity of a bureaucrat who builds a kingdom through procedure

Or the spirit of an entrepreneur building his kingdom through invention?

What do we see through the eyes of man?

Regret for past mistakes that encapsulate our life

Or the promise of the future where trust and faith abound?

What do we see through the eyes of man?

The sun shining ever brighter, even in winter

Or dark clouds surrounding our thunderous end?

What do we see through the eyes of man?

Is it death, destruction and dissatisfaction

Or does life, belief and hope truly spring eternal?

on the face of it

Setting the table for dinner, Harry noticed the salt shaker had pepper mixed in with it. Harry was a curious sort, and, strange as it may seem to others, it got Harry thinking, is that what I’d look like if I grew facial hair? And so he set himself a task to grow a beard in a week, maybe two. See, Harry wore a nine o’clock shadow even on days when he did shave, so a beard couldn’t be that hard a task, surely.

Day One – Sat 19th Sept, 2015

It was Saturday morning. A whole weekend was at his disposal to do with as he wanted. After all, what did Harry have to lose? He’d recently broken up with his girlfriend, so now was the perfect time. Otherwise he’d have had to take into account the not indecent request to shave twice daily to ensure facial hair was at a minimum for those intimate moments.

Day Two

Harry awoke startled. His hands went immediately to his face. It was a reaction that served to wipe away the ‘sleepy men’ from the night’s sleep. They then shifted to the cheeks and the chin, quite a routine exercise he was barely aware of. Until this morning. Was there something growing on his cheeks, his chin? It felt like a forest on his face. He’d forgotten about ‘the growth.’ Looking in the mirror upon getting out of bed, he noticed silvery whiskers glistening back at him. The salt seemed to be mixed in with the pepper. ‘Just as I thought,’ he said out loud, but quietly, to the face glaring back at him from his own reflection in the glass.

Day Three

Dressing for work that morning, Harry was convinced he was not going through some mid-life crisis. Oh no! If that were the case, he would have bought himself a Harley-Davidson, a black leather jacket with skull and crossbones on the back, and joined a bikie’s club like the Hell’s Angels. The smile that looked back at him from the mirror told him he had nothing to worry about in that regard. Besides, he still thought of himself as youthful, with a spring in his step. The only thing old about him was his name.

It was business as usual throughout the morning and the afternoon. Later he was told by one of his colleagues that they had discussed ‘it’ among themselves, making personal assessments about his facial appearance, giving his beard a score from one to ten. The average score was an eight. But it could well have been his colleague was just ‘pulling his chain,’ so to speak. Harry was one to always doubt compliments such as these.

Day Four

Tamila came into Harry’s office with a big smile on her face. Finally a comment from a colleague. “You should wear pink, blue or grey shirt,” were her exact words. “Those colours go well with grey beard.” Harry had a wardrobe full of coloured shirts. Tamila had told him what he wanted to hear. After all, almost every day, Harry would wear a pink, blue or grey shirt to work, never white. He had a rule against white shirts. Too business-like. Didn’t go well without a tie.

Harry checked himself for a moment. He knew the story of Narcissus, who’d leaned too far over the river in order to see his own reflection that he’d fallen in and drowned. Harry wasn’t going to let this happen to him. He was a good swimmer, so he wouldn’t drown, but the analogy was not lost on him.

Day Eight – Sat 26th Sept, 2015

It was Saturday again. Harry had survived a week. His ‘forest’ had been upgraded to a Category 2 national park. But unlike his beard, which had begun to take on a life of it’s own, his patience was wearing thin. He’d been reminded of the times many years ago when, riding in the back seat of the family car, on his way to his family’s summer holiday at a caravan park on the north coast, he’d said to his Dad;

Are we there yet?

Not yet son, but not far to go now.

Half an hour later he’d ask again, this time in haste;

Are we there yet?

Close to it son. Sit tight and we’ll be there before you know it. Trust me.

That summer, Harry was bitten by a blue bottle. He lost all his energy and slept for days to recover from the bite.

Today it wasn’t a blue bottle but a beard that was affecting his mood, his manner with his staff, and his home-life too. He didn’t like being morose, it wasn’t in his nature. He was by all accounts, a positive thinking person, full of hope for the future. But the beard made him feel like an ageing professor when most days he felt more like a youthful, if mature-age, student.

beard no beard

Could facial ‘fungus’ really have that kind of effect on someone? Or did Harry have more in common with Narcissus than he’d like to believe? Either way, he knew a return to the ‘old Harry,’ the young, vibrant, energetic Harry, was just days away.

Day Nine

Harry drove up the driveway only to see his friend, Grace, waiting by the front door.

Where have you been?

Harry thought for a moment before answering. He’d shaven his beard off that morning so was back to being clean-shaven again. He was feeling free, alive. His answer replicated his emotion;

I was lost, but now I’m found

Grace was puzzled by this, but Harry knew full well what he meant.

The title photo to this piece is of Harry, before, during and after.

You be the judge. For better? Or for worse?

…and btw, Harry never did return to that caravan park, just as he’s never likely to return to the bearded version of his true self.

reaching out

I’ll reach out to you tomorrow and discuss the specifics.

This came via e-mail from a business associate a few days ago. It wasn’t the first time. In fact, it’s been occurring regularly, almost as often as I take my morning walks.

I reached out to Andrew and he was able to advise of the legislative changes.

This came from another business contact. It got me thinking:-

Frank Underwood uses it, my business colleagues use it, network news anchors use it, politicians use it, even I have used it. It’s got to the point where I can respond to an e-mail by saying something like:-

So long as we continue to reach out to our business colleagues and ensure the structure remains in tact then the future is strong and the year ahead will see growth.

This statement, of course, means absolutely nothing but the likelihood of it receiving a positive reception from those to whom it is directed is high. Why? Because the terms used, ‘reach out,’ ‘structure,’ ‘strong,’ and ‘growth,’ spell p-o-s-i-t-i-v-e. But of all those terms, ‘reach out’ is the ‘man of the moment.’ Why do we not hear the words ‘liaise,’ ‘connect,’ ‘contact,’ ‘establish,’ or any other number of potential alternatives, used in the context that ‘reach out’ has now become synonymous with?

What is it about ‘reach out’ that has made it so popular (usage-wise) and so unpopular with those that hear it used?

‘Reaching out’ used to mean ‘going that extra mile,’ making an effort to connect with those less fortunate than ourselves. Remember the song:-

Reach out and touch somebody’s hand,

make this world a better place

if you can

The song dates back to 1970, when Diana Ross released it as her first solo album, but gained kudos in 1984 at the Summer Olympics and then again in 2005 at the Live Aid Concert.

Has the term been festering under the surface since then?

Who knows?

The urban dictionary certainly doesn’t hold back. (see It defines ‘reaching out’ as being;

An unfortunately creepy term that means “to contact” or similar. Brings to mind grasping and undesirable contact from strangers.

So next time you hear someone say they’re going to ‘reach out’ to you, be careful, proceed with caution and remember what your mother taught you;

Don’t talk to strangers!

house of cards

And the house came tumbling down.

Or so it seems likely to at some stage. The title alone lends itself to the star of the show falling from the heady peaks of power, glory and notoriety, to the lowly troughs of being ‘yesterday’s man,’ once the rooster, now the feather duster.

Yet there appears little doubt Kevin Spacey is anything but a feather duster. Rather, he is an actor of great quality, proven once again tonight as I watched Frank and his wife of convenience, Claire, venture to Charleston to officially open the Francis J Underwood Library.

But in doing so, Frank finds the true meaning of ‘harmony,’ and realises that politics and the achievements therein, is but a fleeting visit through life, like a Sudanese migrant being processed through immigration.

Harmony. A consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts. Congruity.

As Frank discards his speech for truth, a rare occurrence in this TV series, he concentrates on articulating how rare true synchronicity in life really is.

Elsewhere, Frank’s errand boy visits his mother in hospital, fresh from a fight with a union official.

“What’s that?” his mother asks.

“I was in a fight,” her son, the Congressman, replies.

“Did you win?”

“I guess.”

“That’s my boy.”

To me, House of Cards is the television ‘version’ of the movie, American Beauty, where Kevin Spacey plays the dissatisfied married man looking for the simple pleasures of life. Do you remember the plastic bag dancing in the breeze?

Subtle. Fresh. A masterpiece of television drama, surviving the travails of time and technology.

Kevin Spacey’s character, Frank Underwood, is not just the star of the show, he is the viewer’s friend. His intimate ‘fireside chats’ with the viewing audience are insightful, providing us with an understanding of Frank’s ultimate objective.

“Did you think I’d forgotten you? Perhaps you hoped I had.” He looks in the mirror, getting dressed as he speaks. “For those climbing to the top of the food chain there can be no mercy. There is but one rule – hunt or be hunted. Welcome back.”

House of Cards is not to be missed. If you don’t get your hands on the boxed set of the first three series you’ll be an outsider, one of those unlucky ones who’ll know not what your dinner guest is talking about when she starts up about Frank, Claire, and Meechum.

If you’ve already seen it, join the club.

After all, who can resist connivance, betrayal, power, failure, impeachment, sex, innuendo, and murder?


I found myself in a kind of trance, a daze, a dream. It began with a reflection on the night before, which now seemed distant, a vague memory of debauchery and mayhem. I’d survived it without even an alcohol-induced stupor, though if memory served, others hadn’t been so lucky. The driver seemed lucid enough but our other passenger was tipsy at best.

I was sitting quietly in the back seat. The road ahead was clear and wide. We were on our way to I knew not where, or why, or with whom.

The picture became clearer as we turned the bend in the road, one, and then another. It was a city street, on the northern beaches of Sydney. It was the Eastern Valley Way. It was autumn, the ‘fall,’ as it’s called in the States. ‘The fall.’ The term had a feeling of negativity about it. To rise and fall, and rise again, only to fall further, deeper, into a wider chasm of despair.

I would soon have clarity that this day would indeed be a chasm for someone in the car, that it would represent desperation of the most unpleasant kind. Human life would be at risk of loss. But whose?

We drove on.

Uneventful the trip remained until we came to another bend. The road was evenly paved, no hills, no valleys to contend. And the streets were almost empty, placing the driver in a state of unexpected over-confidence.

Until we saw the cyclist.

Cyclists were common along the streets of Sydney so no-one in the car thought anything of it at first. But none of us anticipated what would come next. As we continued on down the road with care and ease, the cyclist suddenly, without warning, turned. No hand signal to tell us he was turning right or left. Dressed in his professional cycling garb, he did a 180 degree turn, straight into the lane of the car we were in. The driver looked up to see his face in front of her windscreen.

It was too late.

She rammed her foot on the brake. The wheels screeched. But all she could do was watch and wait whilst the cyclist fell from the windscreen down under the front of the car, which had slowed to a halt and was now stationary in the middle of the road.

With no car behind us, at least I was safe, a helpless passenger able to do little, no, able to do nothing, to avert danger from others.


That’s what he must have been. The bike was a write-off, the cyclist had to be too. The driver opened the car door, stepped out of the car, hands shaking on her knees, whilst she tried to bend down to see if she could pull the cyclist, or what was left of him, from under the car. The third person in the car had called the police, and they were able to take charge while she stood back, ordered to clear the scene. The ambo’s weren’t far away.


The driver was able to rest easy in the knowledge the cyclist’s life had been saved by those attending the scene. “He’s breathing,” they said in tandem. A deep sigh could be heard come from the driver’s direction, resting now against the rock-face on the side of the road. The area had been cleared and traffic re-directed.

“Come with us,” said the police, as the driver waved to us ‘passengers,’ mouthing the word ‘thank-you’ as she walked away, a serene easiness and an alleviation of pressure surrounding her every move.

It was dusk.

My friend had saved the day, holding firm whilst others felt distressed at the scene before them. His daughter had appeared. We moved toward the town centre, not a five-minute walk away. “Take her,” he suggested, as he passed her, like a football, over to me. I effortlessly lifted her up over my shoulders as she piggy-backed her way to town, where we would enjoy a stiff drink to relieve the strain the day had become. Her hands rested on my chest as she sang sweetly, softly, melodiously;

Now it’s time to say good night
Good night, sleep tight
Now the sun turns out his light
Good night, sleep tight
Dream sweet dreams for me
Dream sweet dreams for you

I have a dream…

…that I’d like to share with you. It begins where dreams usually do, in the bedroom.

That morning the sun shone through the blinds, the same blinds I’d left open the night before. Jules was a sound sleeper and anything but an early riser. She slept peacefully through the sunlight. I, on the other hand, always found it hard to sleep in. There was always something to do, a job, a task, or many jobs, many tasks, that awaited me on this, the day after the end of the working week. Only my working week never seemed to end. Working from home had a tendency to do that to you, make every day a potential work day.

That morning, however, I dozed and fell back into a light sleep, a Rapid Eye Movement stage of sleep, where dreams are made.

I was in transit, being moved to a ward. When I arrived, there were people and sounds surrounding me. They were hazy to the eye, difficult to make out. The room was dull but identifiable as a shared hospital room, public in the sense no-one made contact, either of a physical or verbal nature.

Without prior warning, someone appeared, a doctor perhaps, a female to be sure, standing over me, saying things to me, addressing me, in ways that were welcoming, calming and supportive.

“You’ll be okay through the process. There’s nothing to worry about. The anaesthetist will be the first and last person you’ll recognise in the operating room. After that, surgery will take about seven hours. You’ll wake in the Intensive Care Unit where a nurse will be on call twenty-four hours daily. After we’re confident you’ve made an ‘unremarkable’ recovery, we’ll move you to a general ward, which you’ll share with three other men who have had similar but different treatment. Once you can walk a flight of stairs you’ll be sent home to rest and recuperate before you start a rehabilitation program at a hospital nearby.”

I looked up at the doctor telling me this. She was young, about thirty-three, blonde, attractive to the eye with a sweet smile. If I wasn’t lying horizontal in a hospital bed I would have asked her out.

My surgery never eventuated. At least not in my dream. My hospital bed had suddenly turned into a lounge suite in an office, but there wasn’t much work getting done. The office was unfamiliar to me, completely unrecognisable from anything I’d experienced in reality, and I was an office-worker. But it was enticing, insofar as in front of the lounge suite on which I lay was a TV set, but not just any TV set, more a widescreen cinema in high definition.

Yet my attention had been diverted from the widescreen cinema by a voluptuous blonde, attractive to the eye with a sweet smile. She looked young, about thirty-three, and I must have known her as I had my right arm resting around her soft, supple back. Her eyes sparkled under the light above, her smile enticed, attracted. She was devoid of clothing, and as I slowly looked down I noticed I was too. I drew my own conclusions. We had all the time in the world. The office was closed, we were the sole occupants, and in no rush to leave our cosy locale.

Eventually, we rose from the couch, clasped our fingers between those of the other, and walked toward the office door.

As we opened the door to leave, the sun shone ever brighter through the open blinds in our bedroom, disturbing my pleasant dream, changing the scene from dream sequence to reality in an instant. I started to think about the dream and what it meant, as I sauntered towards the bathroom, throwing my PJ’s on the tiled floor, hopping under the shower and feeling the warm water against my naked body, starting to sing. The shower was the only place my voice sounded acoustically sublime, ringing out sweet sounds in dulcet tones.

In the bed remained Jules, blissfully unaware, asleep in a dream-world all her own.

the assassin’s knife

It was hot – inside and out. The sun was out and Spring had turned into an early Summer. Though the forecast was for a cool change in coming days, the heat only had to last 24 hours for an ill-wind to blow through the corridors of power.

In Australia, Canberra is the centre of power. Some would say it’s the centre of bullshit, where power-hungry politicians gather together to argue, disagree and deceive one another to their own benefit. They are supposed to work as the people’s representatives, gathering information through committee to bring to parliament to pass as legislation. Legislative reform is what it’s called by some, a waste of time and the taxpayer’s hard earned money is what it’s called by others. But those that believe that Canberra is a place of waste and mismanagement have little or no regard for the importance of democracy as a form of government.

You see, in Australia, all registered voters get to vote, unlike most African nations, unlike the economic powerhouse that is China, unlike many nations on earth in fact. And it doesn’t matter whether we’re male or female, property-owners or not, eighteen or eighty-eight. We all get to make a choice at the ballot box.

‘Choice.’ There’s a word that defines democracy. The freedom to speak, to gather, to worship, to write, to disagree, even the freedom to be obnoxious – they are all based on the freedom to choose.

Yet this day, the people would not get to vote. Only the elected members of the Federal Liberal Party would get to vote this day; the select few, the chosen ones, those with a vested interest in the outcome, those with a chip on their shoulder for not being promoted to the upper echelons of power. And those already there.

So for those of you who don’t enjoy the privilege of voting in an elected representative, this will flip your mind. It’s happened three times in the last five years in Australian federal politics. But the most recent was just last night.

The air-conditioning kept all members cool. Canberra in Spring rarely got this hot. Thankfully, they were busy, sitting, thinking – or maybe just sitting. “I’ve gotta get outta here,” one said to another. “My husband can’t get to the local pharmacy today so I’ve got to go and pick up some Zeflex from Chemist Warehouse before it closes.” See, even politicians have errands to run.

The Leader of the party looked at his watch. He had other places to be too and his mind was focussed on the upcoming by-election on the weekend. He’d been spending a lot of time in Perth, Western Australia, of late helping his young and very electable candidate, Andrew Hastie, campaign. Hastie. Now that’s something you don’t want to be in politics – hasty with a ‘y’, done with insufficient forethought and excessive speed, quick-tempered.

The Leader’s time in Perth kept him a continent away from the corridors of power, where his colleagues were gathering for the week ahead. Sunday had brought with it rumblings and murmurs of a leadership spill. Something was happening. The media reported on it Sunday night. Sometimes these reports could be discarded as ‘wishful thinking’ on their part, for they were, in general, anything but a fan of the Leader, but this time the leaking was coming from the Leader’s front-bench, and it was now more than just a dripping tap, it was a flood.

Julie Bishop, also from Western Australia, was most likely the source. Trustworthy is not a word one uses to describe her, having served as Deputy Leader to four different leaders. A survivor with a Machiavellian character, she was crafty, cunning, and brought with her numbers.

‘Numbers.’ Politics is a numbers game. If you plan to oust the leader from within, be sure to count the numbers first. A challenge without support is baseless. Bishop was smart. She’d been seen out socially at functions with the Challenger recently and almost certainly played a role in the leadership spill of seven months earlier.

She wasn’t hasty, far from it. Rather, she had stayed the course and waited, and waited, whilst behind the scenes bringing supporters into ‘the tent.’ The Leader would have known he couldn’t rely on his colleagues for support. But the old saying ‘it’s better to have the enemy inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in’ applied here.

As the Leader rose from his seat in parliament that day, Bishop rose too and tapped him on the shoulder. The sense he felt on his shoulder that moment must have felt like an iron bar being hit around his head, a desultory whack rather than a gentle tap.  From that moment on, the Leader knew his time in that role was all but over. A fighter from way back, he would not give in easily. Not unfamiliar with the boxing ring in his younger days, he was the fittest member in the parliament – but also the most loyal. This strength of character was also a weakness, at least in the business he’d chosen as a career, now spanning twenty years.

In a piece for The Monthly, Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor of The Australian, and friend of the Leader, describes how he came to love him;

[He] and I were lying on the sand at a surf beach some distance out of Melbourne. The surf was way too rough for either of us to go in. Suddenly a woman came up to us screaming. Her son had been pulled out by a rip and was in bad trouble … [He] was a strong swimmer and pretty much without hesitation jumped in, swam out to the kid, took hold of him, dragged him down the coastline a bit to get past the rip, and brought him safely to shore. He was not a bit interested in the mother’s thanks.

His relationship with the Challenger went back many years, with one the head of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, the other the head of the Republican Movement. The Leader won that battle, and Australia to this day remains a Commonwealth. And, when The Challenger was leading the party in 2009, and a leadership spill was called against him, the Leader put his ‘hat in the ring’ at the last moment. He won that battle too.

But he would not win this one. Although he did win the battle of character. For no-one could say he had knifed anyone. Remaining a leader to the end, he used his final statement in that role as a message to the media – desist from sensationalism. In the leader’s words;

“Refuse to connive and dishonour by acting as the assassin’s knife.”

Democracy isn’t free. New leaders in Canberra take note.


He walked amongst the many and came across the one – the one who made him feel like he hadn’t felt before. The feeling was almost indescribable, it was like he was walking on a cloud.

She was…perfect. Her beauty was like that of a blooming camellia in the height of Spring.

She looked like she was wearing slippers, yet they looked so cool, so faultless. Leopard spotted happy shoes would describe them better than slippers, yet her feet slipped into them effortlessly. She was a slim little thing, five foot six at most, wearing black, skin-tight yoga pants that hugged her legs, and a silky beige shirt hanging out over her hips that showed her bare back when she bent down to check for a book on the shelf below her.

Her hair was black, long, drooping over the nape of her neck and rested half-way down her slender back.

She rested her hands on her legs as she lifted herself up from the crouching position she’d maintained for a moment, and as she stood up she threw her hair over her left shoulder and turned to face him, though he could hardly say she was aware of his presence. Her mind was elsewhere.

When she walked her shirt slipped open at the front to reveal her belly. Her soft, supple skin was like a baby’s bottom. Her face was to die for, silky smooth, surely gentle to the touch, and with no make-up, for there was no need to improve on perfection. She had a gold stud in her lip, but even that small admonishment to her beauty only seemed to add to it in some strange way.

He felt his body changing in ways over which he had no control. He felt short of breath. He felt an attraction, a physical attraction, that was out of his control. He was entering a place, a feeling, he was uncomfortable with. Yet the feeling made him aware he was alive, physically, mentally, and able to appreciate the finer things life threw up at him.

Whilst this transformation was occurring before his very eyes, within his very anatomy, he was perusing the shelves of the local book-store. Not just any book-store, this book-store was a cut above in every way. The presentation was truly superb, the books were categorised in a way he’d never seen before. And the people, oh the people!

BerkelouW’s was a place he always enjoyed visiting. And now he knew for as long as she remained there, he’d never tire.

He knew not whether to feel awakened and welcomed to a brave new world he’d previously been shut out of, or whether he should feel aggrieved by having been shut out of that very same world. Had this girl awakened a sleeping spirit or had she provided a teaser to something, like a rainbow, that was just beyond his reach?

‘Brave.’ Maybe that was the word he should take from his experience, however fleeting it had been, and build on it. For if he failed to alter his understanding of his feeling, his sense of attraction, maybe it would be lost to him forever. Losing something one had just found can be as debilitating as having never found it at all.

His sense of the laws of attraction were about to be re-configured, re-defined. He had experienced an epiphanous moment of sudden realisation, strikingly definitive.

One girl, once. He had found his ‘camellia,’ blooming sweetly in the Spring.

Hot air

I read an inspiring article this morning. Written by Margaret Kelly and published in The Weekend Australian, it speaks of the way so many of us use language in this day and age. She invokes the memory of George Orwell to articulate the way he would feel (and think) about the level of intellectual thought airing itself in the media, social and otherwise.

Entitled ‘It’s way past 1984 but lazy habits mean George Orwell’s Newspeak is now definitely trending,’ I’m not going to try to replicate her level of expertise here, other than to say half way through the article she invokes the issue of climate change.

This has become a ‘watermelon’s delight’ of an issue over the past thirty years or so. Who can blame them? All ‘watermelon’s’ needed something to replace their fight for the revolution. But climate change began life as something altogether different, language-wise at least.

What was known from birth as “ecological balance” grew to become a toddler known to his friends (and even his foe) under a different name again. “The hole in the ozone layer” found it’s way into popular parlance and stayed with us for many years. Yet as the issue started to gain attention, traction declined as debate (and doubt) around the subject of ‘the hole’ grew.

“The hole in the ozone layer” got smarter as he got older. He realised his popularity was waning and that he had to do something to re-build his case for the need for serious action without further delay.

He changed his name to “global warming.” He told people the hole had closed in the ozone layer and all was well, but that he, “global warming,” was now having a serious impact on the ever-increasing average world temperature. More was needed, and needed now.

As the years passed, his popularity slipped. He was used to being mentioned in papers world-wide, each and every day. He loved the recognition it brought him. People and organisations were asking him to speak at their corporate and social events. He was earning an appearance fee he had never thought possible. His hands on the lectern, he felt important beyond belief. Even ‘watermelons’ love to see good money thrown their way. After all, their social conscience applies to others, not themselves. And now the revolution had failed, they needed to eat and live like the rest of us, right?

But the papers stopped writing about him. His invitations to speaking events dwindled. His name still appeared in the paper but only now and again. He felt he had to do something so people didn’t forget about him. He had a plan.

It was time to grow up, to think like an adult. And so he changed his name…again. “Climate change” sounded ‘sexier’ than “global warming.” That was too warm and fuzzy. “Climate change” sounded pro-active. The word ‘change’ meant he was urging others to action.

I, on the other hand, was more confused than ever. Of course the climate changed. It changed every day. I didn’t need him to tell me that. People were living comfortably (if feeling a little chilly) in the mid-western winter of the United States just as they were living comfortably in the warm summer of the east coast of Australia.

The English language was not meant to be used this way. Get your hands on Margaret Kelly’s article and read it for yourself. Better still, read George Orwell’s Animal Farm. You’ll learn something “climate change” cannot teach us.

Apparently I’m not allowed to speak my mind on “climate change.” I can’t criticise him, degrade him, disagree with him. There’s only one opinion, one view, and anyone who speaks against “climate change” will not be heard. Well, I live in hope, for what is life if we have no hope.

Meanwhile, I’m off to enjoy the darling buds of Spring, for where I live the climate’s changing, warming, yet an ecological balance remains.

unconditional love

Dear Sarah,

It was lovely talking to you this afternoon. It seems like we could talk forever and not run out of things to say to each other.

You mentioned Amber in your e-mail to me. Can you believe when she passed away I had a week off work? You probably can, as I think we used to talk about her didn’t we?

She was getting to the stage where she couldn’t find her way to the front door, so her quality of life was an issue. It’s the hardest thing in the world when you have a pet to know when to do the right thing for their sake and not your own. I always measured things on a ‘quality of life’ basis but when the moment came it was heart-wrenching as it still came as such a surprise, even though I’d known for a while that moment couldn’t be far away.

I took Amber to the vets one Sunday morning as a matter of course and was told there was little choice as it would be the best thing for her. I reflected for a moment before realising I had to make the decision I’d been dreading. At least I was there by her side at the time she was put down. I remember it as if it were yesterday. The vet was ultra-sensitive and I’ll always be thankful for the way she treated us. Two weeks earlier I’d taken Amber to the beach – she was still able to raise a smile (see attached).


It’s amazing how stoic she was. She survived blindness caused by diabetes. Leave the furniture in the same place as it’s always been and a dog can sniff its way to the front door and around the chairs and tables without any trouble at all. I was even able to take her on walks around the neighbourhood whilst she was blind, without a lead. She’d just follow my lead the whole way, almost walking side by side.

The week I had off work I could hardly get out of bed. It was like nothing I’d felt before. But she wasn’t just a dog. I’d get up at six every morning to give her her insulin injection, and be home from work by six every night to do the same again. She had to have her shots on regular twelve hourly intervals. But I’d always do it before I fed her, just so she’d have some positive reinforcement, something to look forward to (her breakfast or her dinner) after the injection. She accepted it like a trooper, never whimpered, never complained. Her stoicism shone through like the sun rising in the morning.

Two months later I thought to myself, ‘why not give a dog a good home?’ So I made inquiries into getting a chocolate Labrador. Dad and I went to Kempsey and stayed overnight before picking up Kahlua the next day from a place called Clybucca. Eight weeks earlier she’d been born, on ANZAC Day, thirteen years to the day since Amber’s birth.

She’s filled a void, but more than that, she’s very special, having a hidden quality that’s hard to describe. And having been born on the very same day as Amber I feel like Amber lives on in Kahlua in some way. Here’s Kahlua when she was just a puppy. Cute, isn’t she? And very tired.


I was reading a book about dogs the other day called ‘Through a dog’s eyes,’ by Jennifer Arnold. There’s no better way to finish this e-mail to you, Sarah than with a quote from the book. If you see it in the bookshop or online, buy it, it’s a great read. Arnold writes;

While I was writing this book, my lovely little golden retriever, Margaret Ann, died. Margaret was as sweet and gentle a creature as has ever been born. I long to see her running towards me, ears flopping back in the wind, just one more time…I find that my body aches with my inability to do so. I refuse though, to believe I have lost her altogether.

[When my mother died I received] a small card that read simply: “For no-one loved is ever lost and she was loved so much.” When I read that I thought, ‘Yes of course. That’s it.’ We loved each other far too much to let death separate us completely. This is how I feel about my precious dogs…We share a love too strong to ever be destroyed. They are with me always.

Okay Sarah, I better end it there. I’ve said too much already.

Until next time, stay well,

Owen 🙂