Trying to buy Crisp Whites?


Hangin' with my hound

Thursday, April 29, 2010

tick tick tick

The countdown begins! Will Crisp Whites be released in time for me to submit an entry in the Qld Premier’s Literary Award for new fiction? The cover is finalised, the print proof on its way (apparently). I need 5 copies delivered to the office in Brisbane by 5:00pm 10 May... Is it possible?

(Should have worked harder on that time-travel idea...)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Charles goes on...


I have drifted off topic. I was telling old Bert about Lily. Extraordinary is the word I used and I want to tell you why.

I will commence with a whiskery old truism and tell you that it has been the joy of my life to be married to this girl. The joy of my days...Really, I haven’t looked back, personally or professionally since she took me in hand. This will sound odd, but we are a team. I know what you’re thinking! Charles is getting soft in the head! At best, a wife is a soothing and comforting presence, a source of offspring and an efficient chatelaine. At worst, a shrewish burden. But I tell you, it’s not like that between us. Right from day one, I have been able to depend on Lily’s advice, her steady temper and her instincts. She is not like other women, my Lily.

Perhaps, I am also not like other men, for I know few men who would relish a serious discussion of business matters with their wife – especially when she disagrees with one! But she brooks no foolishness, and I respect her opinion. I hope you won’t think less of me for it.



You will be saying to yourself Charles has a good wife – lucky Charles! This hardly qualifies the term extraordinary though... I say to you many wives are steady and stalwart creatures through the tribulations of family life, but My Lily has risen to become an extraordinary creature of calm and reason in the face of...well... perhaps I should just tell you about that summer.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Elizabeth Pinkney Chronicles

The tale continues...

Charles, Vienna 1841

“Sit there, Bert. Put your feet on the grate... no wives to scold us here! That’s better...time for a small whiskey and a long talk. What a night!” I dragged another wing chair over for myself and settled into it. Good to take a load off these old legs.

My friend and colleague Albert has travelled with me to Vienna this week. There is a gathering here of scientific men...such interesting ideas. Young men; a lot of them... good to see. Handing over the baton, that’s what old Bertie and I are doing. It’s time for that young blood to take charge. Hmm...know what I’m saying? I’m still interested in my own research, mind you. The brain might move a bit slower these days; might be a bit less limber, but it still works, thank the lord. Be a terrible thing to lose that clear thought... can’t imagine. It is summer here – still crisp – these northern summers are never particularly hot. Pleasant enough though. Many of the gatherings are being held in an open plaza – nice place, good acoustics and good for me - I can hover a comfortable distance away and listen. Can’t abide a tight-packed crowd...never could.

Tonight, Bert and I sit in the cosy drawing room of our little pensionnat; our abode for the week. Hmm...simple little place; quite good enough for a pair of old fellows like us. After several days of mild weather, the clouds have closed in overhead and a nasty wind has sprung up. We sit with our drinks and a modest cigar each, and that wind shrieks in the crooked chimney. Like someone screaming. Unnerves me, I’ll just tell you quietly. Every so often, sparks explode upwards in the grate – whoosh!

Unsettling – what? Yes, all rather unsettling.

I don’t often travel to these assemblies and home is on my mind tonight.

“How is that little wife of yours?” enquires Bert, perhaps sensing my preoccupation. I smile into my moustaches. Lily is fifty-six, God keep her, a shrewd and sturdy matron, but to me she will ever suggest the winsome slip of a girl that I married... little wife indeed. A sip of whiskey warms me. “Bert,” I respond, still smiling, “she is...extraordinary.” Bert’s considerable jowls momentarily bunch upwards in an affectionate grin. He has always liked Lily. “You know,” I continue “I realised something while Caulfield was giving us his lecture today...”

“The botanist from South London? Those bright red whiskers?”

“That’s the one. He was taking that line about the narrow divide between the therapeutic and the poisonous – do you remember?” Bert switched his cigar to the other cheek. “Oh yes! He had quite the litany of deadly stems and blossoms, that one.” (Bert is a naturalist; his interests are piqued by the animal world. I fear he finds the world of plant life a trifle dull.) “Well,” I pressed on, as the fire made a particularly lively display, “it recalled to me those two unfortunates who were murdered, back home in Middlesborough – must be eight years ago now. Did you ever hear of the cases?”

“Oh yes - I did – Quite the scandal for such a quiet village. Did one of them not have all sorts of odd afflictions in the months before he was killed?”

“Yes! They both did. Rashes of boils, blood-filled eyes, odd episodes of behaviour... like flights of madness... a...a...blackening of the extremities... a kind of rotting - very nasty.” There is a brief pause while we both sip whiskey and imagine the unpleasant implications of rotting extremities. The screaming wind adds a visceral discomfort to my thoughts. “Yes...” I continue, gravely “They suffered all right. All manner of horrible afflictions. In the end, I think most of the locals – the peasants you understand; the working men - considered them to be possessed by demons! The poor wretches were at my house many times. They were old employees of Lily’s father... did you know that?”

“No! How extraordinary... I had assumed from accounts that they must have been doddering ancients.”

“Well, no – the elder – the first to be murdered, he was only fifty-three when it happened. His younger brother followed him a couple of years later – he must have been about the same age by then. So – not young, but until they were felled by persons unknown, they were hale. Oh yes, in animal good health. Owned a few paddocks at the back of the Redfern farm...quartered horses there, did a few odd jobs. Still quite upright and strong, you understand...Hmmm?” I took a meditative puff. Those old murders had never been solved. They were grisly and the strangeness that had attended them had left our quiet little ville with a real stain of tragedy.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

What do you think?

I have been wracking my brains for the direction to take in a little Victorian novella that I have been toying with.

I think I have it... a rather sturdy, prosperous, apparently contented middle aged couple hide secrets. She most of all.

There have been some disturbances in their quiet little village. the husband is full of admiration for his wife's steadiness through these alarming happenings. He is a good man, and loves his wife and daughters dearly. There are things he doesn't know...things that no-one could be expected to know.

here is the introduction. Please tell me what you think.


My name is Wrath.

I am a poison of the spirit, peculiarly female. I am a dark smoke that rises in the heart of the woman ill used. Not a child, mind you; I speak not here of the abused child, for those unformed minds have not the shadowy imagination to spawn me. I am a bitter hunger for bloody revenge and I rise, inexorably, in many lives. Lives of violence, of humiliation... Betrayal of trust...these lives are like tinder awaiting the spark.

For many, I am confined. My choking tendrils touch only their creator. Long, long lives are lived while a woman holds close my sinister power. Most die with me creaking in their heart... a bleak, unwanted lodger.

But some...some – oh! The sinew, the bared snarl of those few! When my spark ignites those lives and I can burst through; implacable, black – the beast unleashed. Bloody murder I wreak, with a fearsome scream of hard anguish. Not often... no – not very often... What has the power to strip back the heavy cloak of passivity, of gentle forbearance?

I tell you this – all those who would use their position – their long tradition of power to saturate a woman’s life with grief. Let me give you a warning.

Remember, that I am wrath – I am the one, the smoke, the hunger.

Harm not her child.

Monday, April 12, 2010


A chattering swarm takes the hill. Early morning fog burning off in the bright Brisbane sun. What is going on over there? Crazy costumes; a lycra tiger suit, face paint, tail swinging... a collar and chain, the Mad Hatter, Sergeant Pepper, something... a frothy mini-dress of black lace, purple fishnets...painful shoes. Mixed in with the Karate ka, the ninja – tabi boots and headwraps (a bit hot for that?).

Shrugs at her friend – crazy crowd, what can you expect in the big city? At the crest of the hill, the old museum – gothic spires, crazy mix of brick. Turn the corner just as the Queen of Hearts struts by. Must be some kind of theatre event?

Inside; big, hot rooms – mats and the vinegar smell of sweat and leather. 3 wrestlers fidget in their suits while the instructors drone. “...oldest competitive sport apart from running or walking... wrestling moves engraved in the pyramids...” Big, industrial fans make the air hum, circulating the heat nicely. The youngest wrestler – what? 14? Gangly except for the solid column of his neck. Can’t decide what to do with his hands (no pockets in a wrestling suit). Hair in careful disarray, awkward, self conscious stance. Lycra as slinky as the tiger suit. He tugs at the legs, gazes at the ceiling. Coltish limbs restless, the joints bony. He has AUS printed on the back of his suit... this kid competes for Australia?

The instructor comes to a point... “Harrison will demonstrate...” the kid steps forward, transformed. Crouches; focused, coiled, eyes implacable on the larger opponent. Like lightning he strikes! They clash and lock like antlers...sinew leaps into relief. The bodies, boyish a moment ago –all wire and straining ferocity. A moment of equilibrium – a change of grip, of stance – a switch too subtle to catch... and then... amazing flight as the older boy is flipped through the air to land with alarming force on his back, pinned at the neck (3 points). They rise, step back.

The sinuous, oiled ease is gone... once again, two teenagers shift and fidget. Ordinary...

Superheroes hidden away again.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Nudges in the boardroom how’s that little wife of yours – you old dog? Significantly raised eyebrows – grizzled and wild. It’s good natured, cheerful envy. No secret that money and power tends to draw the birds. He wheezes slightly as he treads the narrow alleyway to the coffee shop they all like now. Standing about, legs braced wide, the shoulders of dark, Saville Row repeated over and over. Most of them from Lloyds... a few barristers. Shiny pates, heavy, creased faces nodding over glasses of strong brews. Glasses wrapped in napkins... why wrap a hot glass in a napkin when a cup would... oh, never mind. It’s what they all like now. Like standing... it’s what they do now.

The complacent air is a fabrication, of course... eyes alight with the next chance – as hungry and eager as they were at twenty. Twenty... Veronica’s age. His chest feels a little heavy again, the wheeze not quite gone. He sips his macchiato, buys some time. Does she love him? Is he a typical old fool?

A few streets away she steps out of a steam room. The women-only Roman Baths... beautifully appointed. She unwraps her long hair, drops both towels. Tall and slender, the shape of fashion, she steps into the blast of a cool shower, skin tingling. Later she steps back onto the street with cheeks aglow. Passing a gleaming window she is arrested, seduced. She pauses, one hand raised, almost touching that spotless glass. It touches instead her lips. After a brief struggle she is inside the shop, stroking the soft fabric.

At home she carefully dresses. He will be home soon. Make-up pretty but natural, touchable. She wants to be touchable. Silky blouse, nothing underneath. No jewellery, just her wedding ring. She knows he worries that she (gold digger) cares only for his success. Well...she wants very simple things – she wants him to look after her. She wants a few babies to cherish. Carefully she packs away her little purchase, a tiny suit, soft plush, the feet like little paws, ears on the hat.

He folds the paper down. Watches the drizzle run down the window. Hardly any point having a driver in London – I could read the paper in this jam even if I were driving myself! Looks at his watch. Feels nervous about home, ribald laughter echoing in his ears. It’s only with the fellows that he worries about Veronica. When he’s with her, he never feels like this. Hormones! They laugh at him Pheromones! It’s not like that... is it?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Life in Dreams

I have noticed something about my friends and a lot of my family. My husband, a full time home dad, is working on his athletic career, my best friend has a latent film company to which she applies what spare time she has aside from her public service career. My brother; head of security in a major shopping centre, is running a martial arts school which is steadily gaining in profile. We are good friends with a couple – he works in retail and she in an office – who create thoughtful visual art from various media. One of my colleagues is a vocalist in a band and another has a sideline in photography. The receptionist in my building moonlights as a marriage celebrant... do you see a pattern forming?

We all have busy ‘day jobs’ ... and we also each have a second life... usually something that gives us pleasure but may also prove to be viable one day.

I like it... it proves to me that dreaming and chasing those dreams are activities alive and well.

Dream on!