Daily prompt: When strategy thinks you’re a joke


You know those old M&B-style chestnuts like ‘the gentle breeze ruffling my hair’? Well not anymore. The gentle breeze feels like a blowtorch across my scalp, and ruffling my hair feels like dragging it out by the roots.

Yep, the rot has set in. I’m losing it. The hair, I mean. No surprise, they told me I would. How it happens might be interesting, though. Present indications are that I’ll end up looking like one of those old hippie blokes: bald as a coot on top, with a fringe like a hoola skirt encircling the dome just above my ears and drooping down to about the jawline.

I find I care more than I expected. Not how I look. That’s always been a lost cause. But it was mine, you know? My hair, thick and silver and often a bit wild, and part of me. Part of me. And they’ve taken it away.

I’ll get over it. In the general scheme of things, it’s less than nothing. But today, I am sad.


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Daily prompt: A skite, not a conversation

I am going to have a little skite. Not about me, but about my country.

In the last three weeks, I have:

Had a chest x-ray (appropriately assessed)

Spent 9 hours in A&E hooked up to BP and oxygen monitors, having blood tests and attended by fully qualified medical staff (and with non-stop access to free tea and coffee. Yay!)

Had 2 CT scans (both appropriately assessed)

Spent a night in hospital (in a single room!)

Had appointment respiratory specialist

Had a PET scan.

Had a biopsy (performed by specialist respiratory oncologist).

Spent another night in hospital (this time in a 2-bed room with a dear lady who watched TV until midnight, snored and had the ta-ta’s, life is full of interesting experiences.)

And today I start chemo (oh what jolly fun!).

ALL THIS AT NO COST TO ME!!! Which is more than lucky, because otherwise I’d be stone motherless broke by now, and trying to organise a mortgage to cover the chemo (also free) which we know won’t cure me but without which I’d be dead in about two months.

Furthermore, everyone I have met on this journey has been so kind, caring and patient that I am blown away by it.

So rise up and revolt, dear Americans. If good old non-event, ‘backward’ Australia can do that for me, then the richest, most powerful, prestigious and iconic country in the world should be thoroughly ashamed of the money-grubbing elitism that would refuse to do it for you in a similar situation.

You probably can’t see that. We all accept our own version of ‘normal’. But here’s a truth for you. To the rest of the developed world, having politicians and billion-dollar corporations decide who lives and who dies is not only Orwellian, but plain disgusting.


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What happens when you’re on Santa’s ‘naughty’ list

Hello People.

I discovered a few days ago that I have cancer.

This is a right bummer. Not at all what I had in mind for Christmas, and a definite threat to those blissful hours of wallowing in the balmy Pacific Ocean which I have been hanging out for all winter.

But there you go, shit happens. Or that’s what I manage to think in my better moments.

Normally I wouldn’t pass on this sort of personal information. It compromises my tough-old-bag image and my rabid dedication to privacy and self-reliance.

But writing has always been my outlet, it seems a bit late in the day to bother changing my ways in that regard and I suspect avoiding the elephant in my mental room is going to take more effort than I can be bothered raking up, so I apologise in advance and suggest you skip the bits that reek of self-indulgence.

Meanwhile on Monday, I opened the door to my daughter Emily (D1, who lives nearby and has dropped everything to help me) to find my eldest grandson and my other three children there as well, Sam, Jane, Kate and Jake (Son, D2, D3 and GS) having also dropped everything and driven up from Sydney (500 km south).

Cancer aside (and cancer doesn’t deserve to be anywhere but aside) I am so lucky it takes my breath away.

Emily and LlewellynSam and Dan


Kate and Iain



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Daily prompt: Blowing myself out of the WordPress water. Again


I am an alien here and I know already that commenting on US affairs does me no good. But on the other hand, does it do Americans any good if the only voices they hear are those of other Americans? So because I feel strongly about this, I will have the courage of my convictions and ask the question that has been simmering away in my mind for months.

American interference in the political affairs of other nations is so commonplace it’s barely news in the world beyond the US.

In Latin America, it is so well documented that at the Summit of the Americas in 2015, President Obama felt it necessary to say that ‘the days of meddling’ were over – which you have to admit is an admission that meddling had indeed occurred.

Dov Levin (Institute for Politics and Strategy, Carnegie-Mellon University) has calculated that between 1946 and 2000, the US attempted to influence the elections of other countries at least 81 times, including the 1996 Russian election where concerted American activity in collusion with Boris Yeltsin elevated Yeltsin from the bottom of the polls to winner.

Furthermore, these figures do not include America’s support of military coups or attempts to overthrow regimes the US didn’t like.

In the same period, Russia indulged in similar tactics 36 times.

There is nothing new about any of this. Both countries have been playing these games for decades. In Dr Levin’s highly expert and thoroughly researched opinion, Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election would rate as ‘average’ on the scale of manipulation used to procure the desired outcome.

Don’t run away with the idea that I condone any of this, or think all’s fair in love and politics.

It is a gross insult to the intelligence, cultural sanctity and right to self-determination of any nation to have outsiders manipulating its domestic affairs.

It is a nasty shock to any nation to find their leader is a cheat.

But in view of its own history, how does America justify its outrage at Russian interference in an American election?

How is American interference in other people’s politics OK, but other people’s interference in American politics not OK?


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Daily prompt: Whatever floats your boat


My novels are fluff. Extreeemely intelligent, insightful, articulate and well-written fluff, of course, but fluff nonetheless.

Now why, I hear you cry, would you waste your razor-sharp intellect and your dazzling literary genius on writing fluff?

Because I like it. Writing those novels was pig-in-mud time, for me, and if I could get my scattered wits together, I’d be writing another one as we speak. Even though Smashwords and Kindle never did cough up a brass razoo they owed me on the first one, and I didn’t even publish the second one.

But oh my goodness it was fun!



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Daily prompt: Getting real…


This morning on my homepage – which is admittedly a very junky homepage that I stick with because its inanity never ceases to entertain me – I was greeted by a headline (illustrated with suitably serious headshot) that said Matt Damon’s horrifying Australian experience.

‘Oh bugger,’ I thought. With a certain amount of fatalistic resignation. Nobody wants their country’s less attractive habits splashed across the media, but every country has a few (unattractive habits) and it’s no use pretending we don’t or getting indignant and defensive when visitors point them out. ‘What now?’ I thought. ‘Not a déjà vu all over again rerun of Johnny Depp’s dogs.’

Although that, I have to say, I consider to be more a matter of Johnny Depp’s unattractive habits than Australia’s. Johnny Depp brought his two [sic] adorable puppies into the country on his private jet, thus circumventing Australia’s strict quarantine laws. This came to the attention of then-Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce (who is in my opinion one of Australia’s less attractive habits but on this occasion, that’s beside the point) when Pistol and Boo were spotted spreading the love – and potentially the rabies – among the clientele of a Gold Coast dog groomer’s.

Our quarantine laws are strict because there are certain bugs and diseases we don’t have yet, and we don’t want them. Given their lifestyle, the chances of Pistol and Boo having rabies (which we don’t have yet) are about nil, but that’s not the issue. Our quarantine laws are strict etc etc, and in Australia, that means no one is exempt however rich and famous they might be. So Pistol and Boo were deported, Johnny Depp was outraged and then sniggered and poked fun at the idea that Australia’s ridiculous laws should apply to him, and at (the eminently lampoonable) Barnaby Joyce, and Australians said ‘Stiff shit, mate,’ and went about their business – namely, keeping out the bugs, diseases etc.

But to return to Matt Damon’s horrifying Australian experience as told to Ellen DeGeneres…

Seems Mr Damon and his family were visiting Chris Hemsworth and his family in Byron Bay (northern NSW coast) and decided to go for a surf (as you do, in Byron Bay), and his 6-year-old daughter was ‘stung by a jellyfish’.

Now see, this is where it all gets a bit surreal.

‘It was the worst thing,’ Mr Damon said, ‘the worst thing!’ And if it had been a box jellyfish it might well have been the worst thing, but it wasn’t. It was a bluebottle.


Bluebottles are not nice. The ‘bottle’ part floats on top of the water almost indistinguishable from all the other bubbles floating about, but the tentacle lurks underneath, swishing gently backwards and forwards with swirl of the water, and latching on to anything it touches with fierce tenacity. And it hurts. A lot. I’m not surprised that Stella Zavala screamed the place down. And I don’t blame Matt Damon for being horrified by the red welts encircling his daughter’s chest – but Australian parents are pretty used to this. Bluebottles float in every so often in summer depending on the wind, and getting stung is almost a rite of passage for Australian kids at the beach.

So Matt Damon’s horrifying Australian experience?

 In a world of ISIS, Las Vegas and Donald Trump, I can only imagine that the person who thought up this headline is suffering from a touch of the la-las.





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Daily prompt: Been and gone


I did my bit for this prompt and then thought better of it.

I do that quite often: write with enthusiasm, read it through, think self-indulgent twaddle and delete it.

So that’s me for the day. 🙂


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Daily prompt: Don’t poke the koala


Trademark law is a minefield and a nightmare, as Australian manufacturers of ugg boots discovered in the late ‘90s.


Ugg boots (thought to be short for ‘ugly boots’) have been around in Australia and New Zealand since at least the early 1900s and everyone was happy. I bought my first pair in the late ‘60s, I remember. They weren’t as fancy as they are now, but oh, the blissful warmth!

But in the 1970s, a couple of Australian surfers took their boots to the US, where they won the hearts of Californian surfers. All good so far. But in 1996, the American company Deckers Outdoor Corporation bought the Australians out, registered the trademarks for ‘UGG’ in the US and 25 foreign countries and began sending cease and desist letter to Australian manufactures using the name ‘ugg’ for their boots.

Now Australians might be a bit dozy in the big wide world of cut-throat commerce, but we do like a fair go, and this wasn’t it. Uggs had been ours forever and we weren’t giving them up without a fight. So Australian ugg boot manufacturers joined forces as The Australian Sheepskin Association to fight the mighty giant that is Deckers, and in 2006 they won, on the basis that in Aus and NZ, ‘ugg’ is a generic term and therefore not subject to trademark restrictions.

It did take Deckers four years to pay the costs awarded against them, and in other countries, the battle to use the word ‘ugg’ is still ongoing, but it’s good to know that even in this world where big and rich rules, David can still defeat Goliath occasionally.


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Daily prompt: I think therefore I am – or possibly not


The Age of Enlightenment (or Age of Reason) flourished in Europe between about 1620 and 1781 (or 1685 and 1815 depending on your point of view), when intellectuals advocated ‘reason’ as a means of freeing humanity from superstition and religious authoritarianism and opening the way to an appreciation of an objective truth about the whole of reality.

A big ask, you might say, but nevertheless, we owe them a lot.

But then, of course, we muddied the waters by diverging into warring interpretations, vigorous backlashes and a deep-seated reluctance to give up our best-loved superstitions. And here we are, up to our eyeballs in what might be called The Age of Muck.

Not that I’m a red-hot advocate for reason above all else. A world without creativity and imagination would be fairly boring in my view. And I’ve never been too sure about the possibility of objective truth except in matters like did you clean your teeth this morning and is the earth flat. But these guys (and yes, they were all men: women weren’t capable of logical thought back then) did at least start people thinking instead of simply following along.

But perhaps the problem is that we like being sheep. Like the sense of belonging. Feel reassured by numbers.

Even if sheep do get eaten.


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Daily prompt: Take your pick


What you expect is what you get, so they say.

But then they also say Expect the unexpected.

 I’ve never been sure whether these things are said by two different sets of They, or whether you’re supposed to reconcile the two and come up with a one-size-fits-all philosophy of expectation suitable for all occasions.

Then there’s You’ll see it when you believe it, which is pretty much the same as getting what you expect and rocketed Wayne Dyer to fame and fortune, no doubt thus proving the absolute validity of the hypothesis.

I’ve tried, I really have. I read Mr Dyer’s book with huge enthusiasm, hanging on his every word. And it helped. At a time when things looked fairly bleak all round and the holes into which I could fall pitted the landscape like a subterranean obstacle course, I hung on like grim death to the belief that I could manifest a positive outcome by sheer bloody-minded determination.

And hard work. In Mr Dyer’s version, belief had to backed up by hard work, which is possibly why I was more open to it. Nothing will convince me that a red Porsche with your name on it will fall from the sky while you sit on a tropical island eating mangoes. Unless you’re North West, perhaps.

But on the other hand, I have worked hard at things that didn’t achieve what I wanted. Was this because deep down, I didn’t really expect they would? Or did I not work hard enough? Or was it a silly idea in the first place?

And here’s a conundrum. I am about to trundle out to Laggers Point in the expectation of seeing a few whales go by. What if they don’t? Have I not expected fervently enough? Have the whales’ expectations of being further south by now trumped my expectation of seeing them here today?

Or is this the whole thing a load of hooey thought up by someone with too much time on their hands and a nasty sense of humour?


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