Daily prompt: Nah, not in the mood


All very well for you, is all I have to say – yakking away about blossom while at the other end of the world, any self-respecting blossom is lying doggo while grey skies spit freezing rain and miserable bloggers huddle in their jumpers and try to ignore their icy ankles. (This blogger left her ugg boots at home when she upped sticks and transferred to Sydney for a couple of months.)

I shouldn’t complain, of course. Should I. This is nature in all its glorious diversity. Yeah, well… And anyway, I’ve already had my annual winter moan. If I were A Good Person, I would rise above it and go Tra-la Tra-lee, Di-ver-sit-ee! No midday heat? Oh what a treat! But I am not A Good Person. Although I will try to be better tomorrow, when it might have stopped raining.

Meanwhile my sister is back in hospital, which is a good thing in the circumstances but a blow nonetheless, and might also be affecting my attitude to blossom and the day.

A friend of my daughter’s has a dog called Blossom, but she’s not very Blossomy unless you include Venus fly traps.

Bummer, eh.



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Daily prompt: Off topic again


Last night, my daughters staged a coup.

As mentioned before, my sister had major abdominal surgery last month. She spent three weeks in hospital and came home last Friday, since when she has been getting weaker rather than stronger. She is due to see the General Practitioner tomorrow, but my daughters (two in Sydney, one 500 km away) picked up on my concern, decided this wasn’t good enough and put their telephonic heads together.

The details and machinations of the process (irrelevant here) resulted in D3 (full time job as lawyer, mother of two small children) turning up on my sister’s doorstep at about 8.30 pm to offer support and enforce their decision, namely that we would call the medical service that provides doctors’ home visits after hours.

We did. The doctor arrived at about 10.45, and while there was no immediate pill-type solution, we were immensely reassured that my sister was basically stable, that he would communicate with tomorrow’s GP and that the reasons for her shattering fatigue could be dealt with.

There are two points to this story. The first is that my children are just the best.

The second is that there is absolutely no excuse for the inhuman, diabolical shambles that is America’s healthcare system. If we in Australia with a country of similar size and a mere fraction of the wealth can provide major surgery, lengthy hospital care and an out-of-hours primary-physician medical service all for free, the only thing stopping America providing similar services is the overweening greed and self-interest of big money and the stranglehold they have on government.

I can well understand how hard it must be for American people to their heads around this. What you live with is your reality – your normal – and it’s almost impossible, after so long, to understand fully that other people don’t live like this: that other developed countries see accessible healthcare as one of their primary responsibilities.

I also understand that you don’t want an alien upstart like me criticising your country, and I sympathise. I really do. But the combination of recent experience and Trump’s attacks on healthcare have pushed me beyond polite. You deserve a healthcare system that actually cares about your health. In the richest country in the world – a country that prides itself on telling the rest of us how to behave – it is just plain sick that your own citizens die because they can’t afford the care or the medication so readily available to those who can pay for it.

Please, please don’t resign yourselves to third-world standards of care. Please fight for what you deserve and what your country can well afford if it stops pandering to the rich.


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Daily prompt: Hope or naivete?


I liked this song when it first came out. Found it comforting to think that if you step back and put the world in its proper perspective, it has enormous potential for beauty: that the vast majority of people on this earth simply want to go about their daily lives, with all the happiness, sadness, endeavour, ups and downs that that involves.

That your god, my god, God or no God, harmony was possible.

But since ISIS decided it could take over civilisation by killing off infidels a few at a time and Donald Trump decided he was god, the song sounds hopelessly naïve.

What do you think?


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Daily prompt: Nothing to do with buff


End of May – end of autumn, and right on cue the cold wind doth blow, and while we won’t have snow thank goodness (nasty, frozen wet stuff that melts to even nastier, wetter slush), the cold itself is enough to reduce me to a gibbering, juddering fool. Not that it’s even cold by US or UK standards (about 10 – 16C) but it’s enough. Oh yes, more than enough for one whose inner thermostat is obviously cactus, and defaults to zero instantly when not within a few feet of an external heat source. Like your car’s speedo when you take your foot off the accelerator.

I am doing my best to convince myself that it’s all a matter of attitude: that if I embrace the shivering that starts in my gut and moves outwards, it will become an interesting phenomenon rather that a home-grown method of torture that seizes every muscle until I need a trip to the chiropractor in order to breathe again. But it’s been a long time. Back in drama school, my winter posture was known as my vulture impro: a tall bird hunched over the mug of coffee clutched in her talons.

Put more clothes on, you think, but this is only marginally successful. Looking like Michelin Man might retain pre-applied heat for slightly longer, but doesn’t make a degree of difference once the cold has hit my liver (or whatever other internal organs apply).

And then there are chilblains. Chilblains don’t exist anymore, apparently – or not amongst civilised people in civilised nations. The fact that that makes me uncivilised is a mere bagatelle compared to the fact that it makes chilblain ointment like as hens’ teeth. I do have some at home, but I am not at home, and even as we speak, a nice man is replacing the door to my sister’s balcony and frigid air is pouring in probably roaring with laughter as it hits my feet with a Ho ho ho! Itchy-burnies for you, my petal!

Of course none of this really matters in the big picture.  When Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un get down to brass tacks over who’s got the biggest whatever and blow us all to smithereens, I don’t imagine my eternal rest or otherwise will depend on the state of my chilblains. But right now, surprisingly enough, that isn’t much consolation.


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Daily prompt: Mostly off topic


Here’s a little story that has nothing to do with catapults unless you stretch it to cover catapulting the US into Healthcare Norms for Developed Countries in the 21st Century.

Australia does have private health cover, but it’s a choice. If you want, you can pay your monthly premiums to be treated as a private patient. This means insurance for stays in private hospitals, faster access for elective surgery, a larger rebate on visits to the GP etc. (although the last doesn’t always apply: as a pensioner, I don’t necessarily pay for GP visits anyway, they’re what’s called ‘bulk billed’, and I have just had a flu shot and a shingles shot for nothing).

My sister doesn’t have private health cover. She is also on the age pension – which I should point out doesn’t mean we are both on the breadline, but explaining the Australian pension system is irrelevant here.

She has just had major abdominal surgery performed by the surgeon of her choice who may have been assisted by trainee surgeons as she’s a public patient in a teaching hospital, but that certainly made no difference to the outcome.

She is now in a 4-bed ward where a private patient would probably have a private room, but other than that, her post-operative care is no different. She is monitored and assessed with kindness, concern and absolute diligence. The surgeon visits daily, as does the physio. Yesterday she needed a quick scan of her stomach, and it was duly performed. Any medication she needs will be provided.

I’m sure the thing that automatically springs to mind here is that it’s easier for us given our population is so much smaller. The ‘population’ part is true, the ‘easier’ – not so much.

Australia is a big country – roughly the same size as the contiguous states of US – requiring a big infrastructure: roads, railways, public transport, access to water and electricity etc, quite apart from healthcare and education. It’s population, on the other hand, is less than the population of California. Result? Far, far fewer taxpayers coughing up the dollars to pay for it. So no, not so easy after all.

No system is perfect, and the Australian healthcare system is no exception. Sometimes it lets people down. But at least it’s there, and for the most part, it does its job well.

I suppose the conclusion here is that it’s all a matter of priorities. It all depends on how you choose to spend the money you have.


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Daily prompt: Anchors


As I mentioned before, my sister had a major operation last week, and I am now holding firmly to her mooring rope while she floats in a sea of post-operative confusion. All that anaesthetic!

It will pass, and meanwhile I’m reminded yet again (if I needed reminding) how lucky I am to have my own set of anchors: a son and three daughters who aren’t about to let their mother overestimate her strength – despite my constantly telling them I’m a tough old bat with an excellent coping switch! I know they’d take over from me at a moment’s notice if they thought it was necessary, which I know it won’t be, but it’s good to know they’re there.

It’s also proving to be a time full of other people’s care and concern. My sister is highly intelligent, immensely capable, and above all, a good person who doesn’t fully realise how much she is loved. When I am not at the hospital, I am constantly fielding calls from people wanting to know how she is and sending their love. It warms the cockles of my heart.

Politicians might be bastards, but normal people are really good!



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Daily prompt: Farce, thy name is politics


I shouldn’t talk about politics. You know nothing about ours, and while I know slightly more about yours (the UK and America: you are more important than we are so we hear more of your news than you hear of ours) I am not one of you, and should keep my mouth shut.

But as a general broadside (and having such a tempting prompt) I think it’s fair to say that politics worldwide is getting more farcical by the day.

I was brought up to think that respect for the administration was a default position, from which you deviated only when you had proof that it wasn’t warranted. People made mistakes – of course – but on the whole, politicians were doing their best for the general good, even when it might not suit you personally.

Ha! Ha-di Ha Ha.

I still believe absolutely that those further down the political ladder are, for the most part, doing their best for their constituents. But they are often hampered by those at the top, who strut about emanating prestige, solemn dedication and spurious care and concern while their minds run at a mile a minute calculating every action in terms of media value, sops to those who lurk behind the scenes, and their own political futures. The exception to this might be Justin Trudeau, who so far seems like a good bloke genuinely doing his best for the people of Canada.

But I also have to say that I can’t entirely blame them. The press hovers about them itching to turn a slight trip on the stairs into a politician flat on his/her face, to be disseminated instantly worldwide by virtue/curse of the internet, and once it’s out there, all the retractions in the world won’t convince those who don’t want to believe it that there was no fire in that smoke. Because we, the public, also hover about: vultures just gagging to rip the flesh from those whose political affiliations are not ours.

And then there are the back-room movers and shakers: those who donated money in the hope of favours (although no one says that). And with elections being so expensive these days, who can afford to turn down their offerings or antagonise them afterwards? (Donald Trump, of whom I shall resist speaking, is a category all his own, to which none of this applies.)

It makes me sad to be so cynical. I am old. I would like to think that political ethics might make a comeback. But I’m not holding my breath. It’s easier to slide down the slippery slope than to climb up it again.



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