Daily prompt: Well how about that!

DAILY PROMPT
Knackered

Now this is a good word! Not exactly onomatopoeic, but it does have a satisfying thud that speaks of ‘let me collapse on the couch’, and historic overtones of worn out old horses, entirely appropriate to its current usage.

I use it quite a lot. If I’ve driven 500 km to Sydney (or back) I’m usually pretty knackered. If I’ve spent the morning in the surf I’m likely to be knackered as well, particularly on a hot day. I don’t mind being knackered now that I have time to get over it, but when I had a full-time job and four kids to raise, being knackered was a permanent state, which isn’t nearly as much fun. Still, I survived. What more could I ask?

But what intrigued me most about today’s prompt was that it’s definitely a deviation from the norm. It’s not a word Americans use. Good for those of us who do use it, not so good for the majority.

But you really are very protected, you know, there in the US. American culture comes to us raw and unmodified. We watch your movies and TV shows, read your books, sing your songs, all in their original form. We pick up your words; recognise your similarities and differences. But if I managed to snag an American publisher, I’d need to turn pavements into sidewalks, boots in trunks and the ground floor into the first floor before my novel would be acceptable. And while you do get overseas shows on cable, you also get a lot of American remakes instead of the original.

I find this very sad. It’s as if the cultural Powers That Be have decided you’re incapable of understanding the slightly unfamiliar. How insulting. But I find it frustrating as well. A culture both shapes and reflects a nation. How can you possibly understand other nations if their cultures are watered down and manipulated before they reach you?

And you miss out on a lot, as well. Wouldn’t you like to know about chooks? Budgie smugglers? Car boot sales? Billies? The Aussie salute?

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Daily prompt: How to write a proper limerick

DAILY PROMPT
Roots

I thought about this prompt for quite a while: the roots of humanity and what a mess we’re making of it all by being selfish, greedy bastards for whom ‘responsibility’ has become a dirty word. And it depressed me so much I decided to write about limericks instead.

I am a purist about limericks. Someone has to be. To save the limerick from degenerating into any-old five lines, regardless of rhyme or rhythm and completely devoid of the artistry that makes a limerick a unique and recognisable poetic form. (Some people would argue that there’s nothing poetic about a limerick, but they are purists of a different sort and I’ll leave them to make their own case.)

Here are the basics:
A limerick has five lines.
These five lines have a set rhyme scheme: AABBA
The first, second and fifth lines have eight syllables *
The third and fourth lines have five syllables*
(*we’ll get to the variations in a minute)
These syllables are arranged in a strict pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables (metric feet) to create a specific rhythm, like this:

da DUM da da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM

When writing a lim’rick you must
Abide by the rules, or it’s just
Five any-old lines
Which rarely defines
An opus of maximum thrust.

The variations:
You can add an extra da to the beginning of any line as the mood takes you (but it must be a da not a DUM).

Saying nothing at length is an art
Politicians must master quick smart
Lest perchance they make sense
Or fall off the fence
Or appear to be cursed with a heart.

You can add an extra da to the end of a line, provided you incorporate it into the rhyme.

If you don’t want a pet that’s excessive
Or messy or loud or aggressive,
Then dear little fleas
Might be just the bee’s knees –
And so cute and alert and expressive!

 Have a nice day.

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Daily prompt: Not something that gives me sleepless nights

DAILY PROMPT
Gray

Both my parents were grey-haired for as long as I remember. Perhaps that’s why when I started going grey it didn’t bother me. Or perhaps it’s because I had so many other things on my mind at the time that there was no room in the mental inn.

Whatever the reason, I am deeply grateful every time I whip in for a haircut, that I don’t have to sit there being bored to my toenails while my hair is shampooed (something I do for myself in the shower), slathered, foiled, rinsed etc etc. Added to which, I’d then have to worry about the possibly impossible task of trying to make my ageing face match my ageless hair.

However I do realise that my cavalier attitude to my appearance could be seen as a betrayal of womankind. Because not only do I leave my hair to show its age, but my face has never been transformed by any of the creams and lotions that claim to restore its youthful glow. I am wrinkly.

And furthermore, apart from occasions that matter (I can still scrub up quite well for weddings and funerals) I can’t get particularly excited about what I wear, as long as it’s clean and age- and environment-appropriate.  No shorts, for example, and no frayed t-shirts in respectable Sydney suburbs.

There are downsides to being grey, of course. There are downsides to everything. The ‘grey means stupid’ attitude can be fairly irritating, although I do find a withering look usually sorts it out if you’re not feeling tolerant. But on the whole, I’d rather put up with the minor rubs than spend all that time at the hairdresser, when Time (as we know) Waits for No Man, let alone grey-haired old ladies.

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Daily prompt: That thing I never had much of

DAILY PROMPT
Zip

I was never the sort of kid who zipped around the neighbourhood full of energy and joie-de-vie.

Not that there was a neighbourhood in the accepted sense. We lived on a corner with a school on one side, another school across the road that took up a whole block, and a student residence on the other corner. We did have neighbours on one side, but they bred blue heelers who definitely didn’t welcome visitors.

doggallery.com

They also had chooks which our dog thought were fair game if they flew over the fence, so relations could become strained from time to time.

Even the shop at the far end of the block wasn’t exactly child-friendly. Or possibly anyone-friendly. Don’t know what it was, but what it wasn’t was warm and fuzzy so I didn’t go there very often, and only when strictly necessary.

Not that I felt deprived. You don’t miss what you’ve never known I was also fat. Whether I was fat because I wasn’t zippy or didn’t zip because I was fat I’ll never know, but I was happy to mosey around with my imagination and maybe the fat bit had nothing to do with anything. I thinned out eventually without being zippy before or after the transition.

My children weren’t dedicated zippers either, and none of them were fat. The older two were devoted to their imaginations and the third channelled any innate zip into ballet. The youngest might have liked to zip around more than she did, but she had arthritis from the age of four. She didn’t let it stop her playing hockey and netball, though, which was good for her spirits but not so good for the knees. (Water polo was easier on the knees, but it’s a vicious sport: she has a scar just above her eye to prove it.)

One of the benefits of never having had that physical zip is that you’re spared the misery of feeling it decline. That can be a double-edged sword though. Makes it far too easy to neglect the exercise you know you should have.

I shall now go for a walk.

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Daily prompt: What you think when you don’t have to worry about ratings

DAILY PROMPT
Avid

Pore ole Donny, yet again the victim of fake news. All those media bottom feeders scrabbling avidly through the polls and coming up with lies, damned lies and statistics.

But it’s all OK, really, because he knows that he is the best thing that ever happened to America, and when he bombs the shit out of North Korea, everyone will know it and he’ll be greeted with all the hurrahs and flag-waving he so richly deserves…

The scary part of that little scenario is that it would probably be true: historically, the best way to wipe out internal dissent and unite a country is a good, all-consuming war against an external ‘enemy’. It would work wonders for Donny’s ratings.

Not so good though for the ratings of the Australian government (led by that man whose name Sean Spicer has yet to get right). In honour of Mike Pence’s visit, we have reiterated our allegiance to America, which has caused Kim Jong Un to swivel his beady eye (and his missiles) in our direction.

I doubt I’m the only Australian just a little bit sick of following America off to war. We do it in the hope that if we were ever in trouble, the US would come to our aid, but since we only pop up on the global radar when we make these statements of loyalty – and since we’re a long way away and we don’t have oil – it seems a bit…well, silly, really. Particularly after the mess we all left behind in Iraq and Afghanistan. Far better, I’d have thought, to keep our heads down and our noses clean, like New Zealand.

But there you are. I’m not a poli, so I don’t rate at all. Just think from time to time.

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Daily prompt: Why I will never write The Great Australian Novel

DAILY PROMPT
Opaque

All I ever really wanted to do from a very early age was write, and by the time I left school, I hadn’t changed my mind. But this was a very long time ago when children still listened to their parents’ advice, and mine pointed out that it might be wise to go to university first and rack up a few qualifications, to help me keep the wolf from the door until I acquired fame and fortune as a literary genius.

So I did (for a while, though not long enough to rack up the qualifications, but that’s another story), and while I was there, I verified once and for all what I had always suspected: that I would never write The Great Australian Novel.

This knowledge, I have to say, didn’t fill me with great despair or a sense of failure. I didn’t want to write The Great Australian Novel.  In order to be The Great (Anywhere) Novel, your precious opus must be acclaimed by the literati and the intelligentsia, and to achieve that, it must be so deep and meaningful it borders on the opaque – if indeed, it doesn’t fall right over the edge.

This is all well and good if literary opacity floats your boat, but it never did float mine – much to the horror of my eldest sister, who lectured me long and often on the subject. She seemed to think that since I had the intelligence to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest this stuff, I owed it to (someone/something unspecified) to do so (but that is also another story).

As for writing deep and meaningful opacity – I don’t have it in me. Deep as a puddle – meaningful as pollie-speak – opaque as clear glass – who knows. What I do know is that if I sat here trying, I’d be bored so rigid I’d be spending any potential profits on visits to the chiropractor.

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Daily prompt: The end result

DAILY PROMPT
Climbing

I guess Easter’s as good a time as any other for blowing ourselves out of existence. A nice irony you might say, if you were so inclined – that Christ died for our sins and rose again to light the way to salvation, and here we are 2000 years later at the mercy of two egomaniacs incapable of climbing down from the creaky limbs upon which they’ve they seated themselves to flex their macho muscles. Proof, if we needed it, that humans are indeed stupid. and incapable of learning the most rudimentary rules for survival, let alone salvation.

How many of us are destined to suffer long and die from the fallout will no doubt depend on which way the wind’s blowing – not something I imagine either side is likely to take into account, being chiefly interested in getting in first.

Nor will they be bothering too much about the effect the fallout will have on the survivors’ ability to grow stuff (to feed themselves, you understand). As long as their side is seen to ‘win’, the rest of us can go to hell. Which numbers of us undoubtedly will, depending – as I said – on which way the wind’s blowing. The Western World might find itself very sorry it spent its billions in pursuit of luxury instead of helping Africa become agriculturally productive.

You might think I’m being heartlessly flippant about this situation, but what would you have me be instead? Nobody’s asking those of you directly in the firing line for your preference in the matter, and the only possible lift to the spirits for those of us likely to be brushed off as ‘collateral damage’ is the image of Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un sitting their respective bunkers eating baked beans and plagued by flatulence and cockroaches.

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