Bush Ballad ‘The Banks of the Condamine’

The Banks of the Condamine

 

Oh, hark the dogs are barking, love,

I can no longer stay,

The men are all gone mustering

And it is nearly day.

And I must be off by the morning light,

Before the sun doth shine,

To meet the Roma shearers,

On the banks of the Condamine.

 

Oh Willie, dearest Willie,

I’ll go along with you,

I’ll cut off all my auburn fringe

And be a shearer, too.

I’ll cook, and count your tally, love,

While ringer-o you shine,

And I’ll wash your greasy moleskins

On the banks of the Condamine.

 

Oh, Nancy, dearest Nancy,

With me you cannot go,

The squatters gave us orders, love,

No woman should do so;

Your delicate constitution

Is not equal unto mine,

To withstand the constant tigering

On the banks of the Condamine.

 

Oh Willy, dearest Willy,

Then stay back home with me,

We’ll take up a selection,

And a farmer’s wife I’ll be.

I’ll help you husk the corn, love,

And cook your meals so fine.

You’ll forget the ram-stag mutton

On the banks of the Condamine.

 

Oh, Nancy, dearest Nancy,

Please do not hold me back,

Down there the boys are waiting,

And I must be on the track.

So here’s a goodbye kiss, love,

Back home here I’ll incline

When we’ve shorn the last of the jumbucks

On the banks of the Condamine.

 

Anonymous.

 

 

From ‘Bush Songs, Ballads and Other Verse’ selected by Douglas Stewart and Nancy Keesing and published 1967 by Angus & Robertson Ltd, printed by Discovery Press.

The following information from—
https://music.stevetowson.com/track/the-banks-of-the-condamine-2

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Australian traditional music has a dearth of love songs, but here is one from our home state of Queensland.  The English folk singer and collector A.L. Lloyd wrote about this song—

“Throughout the fifty years from 1820 to 1870, broadside printers in London, Newcastle, Dublin and elsewhere did a good trade with the stall-ballad called ‘Banks of the Nile’, a song from the Napoleonic Wars.  The song spread to America and Australia, and in Queensland it became parodied as ‘The Banks of the Condamine’, with the hero no longer a soldier but a horse-breaker or a shearer.  It has turned up in sundry shapes, to various tunes, many times over, mostly in Queensland.”

FOOTNOTE:

  1. This bush ballad was first published under another name in The Queenslander, the literary edition of the Brisbane Courier in 1894.
  2. The Condamine River in southeast Queensland is 657 kilometres long and starts below Cons Plain and ends at the Balonne River.
  3. It was named in honour of Lieut. Thomas De La Condamine (1797-1873) the A.D.C. to Governor Ralph Darling who also has a river named after him.  But the Darling River has been known as the Baaka by the Barkindji people for thousands of years.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condamine_River

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Condamine River Sheep Shearer Demo

Email – Aunt Jenny’s Doll

Hello M,

Attached are photos of Aunt Jenny’s doll.

I inherited Jenny’s doll.

There’s a special clause in Jenny’s will regarding said doll.

The doll must go to me.

But carrying no explanation.

Jenny’s doll is at least 60 years old.

Our cousin JR mailed the doll to me.

In pink tissue paper in a cardboard box.

I don’t remember the doll.

I don’t remember her name.

A happy childhood anecdote linked to this doll?

JR does not know details.

Just that Jenny always wanted me to have the doll.

JR does not know the doll’s name.

Her temporary name is Margaret.

The name of my childhood friend.

Gretchen and Margaret mean the same thing.

We both wore bows in our hair.

All our aunts are gone now.

Would anyone in the family know the story?

Did I spend my toddler years with this doll?

She must have been as tall as me then.

But not cool for a teenager.

Poor doll, re-wrapped in pink tissue paper.

Wearing a boring flannelette nightie.

What shall I do with her now she’s mine?

Love Gretchen


Email to My Cousin © Gretchen Bernet-Ward
Friday 3rd April 2020

Review ‘Silver’ by Chris Hammer

Chris Hammer Bookcover Silver

Former journalist Martin Scarsden had vowed never to return to Port Silver so I was not too sure about his inauspicious homecoming nor his strained relationship with girlfriend Mandalay (Mandy) Blonde.  She has inherited an old house on a clifftop, while Martin seems distant from everything happening around him, plagued by unsettling flashbacks from his unsettled past.  And long-ago deaths in his family.

As the plot twists and turns with great characters and best-ever location, I was there strolling along the Port Silver shoreline; eating fish and chips; watching the waves break on Hummingbird Beach; driving the coastal road with Martin Scarsden as he tries to solve the stabbing death of his childhood friend Jasper Speight.  Unfortunately Jasper died in Mandy’s apartment and she is being held for his murder so Martin works on clearing her name using the only clue, a blood-stained postcard.

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Over nine days, Martin’s exploits unfold and move inexorable towards their goal, every question important to building the story and solving the first murder mystery.  Yes, not one but two mysteries, and I like the way Chris Hammer does not describe so much as lets slip small details until they add up to a whole.

Mandy’s creepy old Hartigan house on the clifftop is suitably introduced in Disney ‘Goonies’ fashion.

Characters formed before my eyes—all with big question marks hovering over their heads.  The mellow reunion with Martin’s Uncle Vern; the glowing backpackers Topaz and Royce; real estate agent Jasper’s mother Denise; Jay-Jay Hayes surfie greenie conservationist of Hummingbird Beach; sleazy bigwig developer Tyson St Clair; oddball Swami Hawananda; and dishonest cop Johnson Pear to name a handful.

Despite youthful recollections and emotional hurdles, Martin keeps working on the murder case, annoying the police and local land developers with questions and questionable behaviour.  He gets hauled in occasionally for interrogation and was appointed a scruffy solicitor Nick Poulos to handle his case.  Then comes a tragic mass murder … or ritual suicide?

At this stage, I am undecided if I am meant to have sympathy for Martin or not.  He certainly makes mistakes and isn’t good boyfriend material.  But he’s an inquisitive bloke, and a good journo who pursues the secondary crime of the multiple deaths.  The scoop of the decade!  By chapter 24, he’s in his element, following up leads, discovering clues, writing copy, advising Terri, editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, topping it off by having dinner with media buddies just like old times.  Hmm.

An overarching question: what happened to his mother and sisters?  I think it’s stretching it to say Martin did not have an inkling about what happened all those years ago.  School mates, friends, even his alcoholic father could have babbled.  As to the possible perpetrators, I was spoilt for choice.  The only one I could happily cross off the list was Liam, the nappy-filling baby son of Mandy.

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I love Aleksander J. Potočnik’s map of Port Silver.  The setting is similar to Byron Bay and my photographs, taken on an overcast day, show the iconic Cape Byron Lighthouse.

The lighthouse sits on a rocky headland, Australia’s most easterly point.  That’s what  I pictured in my mind while reading.  The beaches, lighthouse, Nob Hill, coastal views, inland sugarcane fields and menacing land development which are strongly portrayed by the author.  Landmarks like the ‘fictitious’ old Cheese Factory give off furtiveness vibes.

Heading towards Martin’s hard won resolution, author Chris Hammer deserves top marks for not changing certain Australian words which some readers may not understand but will eventually figure out.  I think it’s time to stop neutering, let readers learn, laugh and speak our colloquial sayings.

Grab this book and be swept away by the tidal undertow of crime and mystery—well worth it.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


AUTHOR PROFILE:

printable-times-new-roman-alphabet-stencil

Chris Hammer was a journalist for more than thirty years, dividing his career between covering Australian federal politics and international affairs.  He holds a BA degree in journalism from Charles Sturt University and a Master’s degree in international relations from Australian National University.

Chris has written an award-winning non-fiction book ‘The River’ followed by crime fiction ‘Scrublands’ published 2018 and shortlisted for Best Debut Fiction at the Indie Book Awards.  Chris lives in Canberra with his wife and two children.
Website https://chrishammerauthor.com/  Recommended ‘The Coast’ a journey along Australia’s eastern shores by Chris Hammer https://www.mup.com.au/books/the-coast-paperback-softback

Review ‘Red Joan’ by Jennie Rooney

It took a while to get my head around Joan Stanley’s rationale.  Growing up, I had heard about the Official Secrets Act and censored letters from my father who was in the second world war, but never about spies selling secrets: I gleaned by inference that espionage was problematic for all sides.  Red Joan knew how to keep her lips zipped.

I really enjoyed this story and I put another book on hold to finished it.  Before and after the 70th anniversary of VE-Day, there was a rash of fact and fiction war books from the UK and this is one of them.

The bombings are what I found missing in Jennie Rooney’s tale, the destruction and the precautions every citizen had to take every day to survive.  Joan Stanley appears to live a charmed life in this regard, and not much of the physical devastation seems to touch her.

Of course, this story is character-driven, an emotional account of the Cold War, an internal struggle between what is right and wrong and justifying one’s decisions, rather than air-raids and bombed out buildings.

After a sheltered schooling, Joan attends Cambridge University where she meets flamboyant student Sonya; and Joan is easily swayed by Sonya’s handsome cousin Leo Galich.  Slowly Joan is groomed to become a spy and eventually steals top secret documents.  While her resolute decision to help the war effort unfolds beautifully and logically (to Joan at least) I couldn’t help thinking “Surely she isn’t that naive?”  But she is, and this propels the story.

That, and romance.  This is where cousin Leo comes in.  What can I say about earnest socialist Leo?  He is easy to picture—any handsome, charismatic, idealistic Uni student would fit his mould.  I can excuse Joan’s love-struck crush on Leo but not her belief in her new friend Sonya, a powerful influence.

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Fur coat 1940s in New Zealand Fashion Museum http://www.nzfashionmuseum.org.nz/f/fur-jacket-with-squared-shoulders/

I thought Joan’s shared fur coat was a nice touch, it was the tenuous connection, the innocent thread throughout the story but it spoke volumes about their personalities.

Joan Stanley (loosely based on real spy Melita Norwood) specialises in theoretical physics and when she gets a job in a metals research facility, the touch-and-go desire with Professor Max Davis is well done, I could see that happening.  The cast of males are oblivious to Joan’s duplicity, and receptionist Karen is pretty much ignored.  For a laugh I pictured Karen afterwards as a retired MI5 operative.

As I said, I like this book and would recommend it, not for an in-depth look at the war effort but as a glimpse into the human side, the male/female relationships and the story behind the atomic bomb construction.  Just enough details; the lab, scientific information, the protocols.

Destructive and fascinating at the same time.

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NOT relevant to Joan but just as fictitious – American actor Steve McQueen (1930-1980) on a motorcycle used in war movie ‘The Great Escape’.

Jennie Rooney’s modern day interrogators, Ms Hart and Mr Adams, were created a bit like Scully and Mulder from the X-Files, lots of meaningful glances at Joan, but they served their purpose well.

In the end, in my opinion, the unravelling of the story was pretty low-key.  Sir William Mitchell was out of the game, so that left Leo and Sonya’s questionable career moves.  Poor Joan, there seemed no end to her emotional turmoil before and after discovery.

Lately I’ve read a couple of books with weak transitions, but I thought the past and present were well written in Rooney’s story.  She did a good job with Joan’s son Nick Stanley QC, a real fly-in-the-ointment (or our own subconscious thoughts?) and he had a Hollywood style moment at the end.

I like to pick out my favourite lines in a story and I quote:

There is a pause.
“Anyway”, Joan says, “I’d have thought the Soviets would be developing their own weapons?”
“They are.  But it’s taking too long.  They’re starting from a disadvantage.”
Leo sighs and reaches once more across the table.
“Please, Jo-jo.  Don’t you see?  You’re in a unique position here to change the history of the world.”

When VE-Day dawns on 8th May 2020 it will be 75 years since the end of the war in Europe so I guess there will be more books forthcoming.

Of course, we read in hindsight and that can be a wonderfully misleading thing.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


AUTHOR PROFILE:

Pen Paper Clipart Boy Holding PencilJennie Rooney was born in Liverpool in 1980.  She read History at the University of Cambridge and taught English in France before moving to London to work as a solicitor.  She lives in West London, and also writes and teaches History and English.  The fictitious story of Joan Stanley, the KGB’s longest-serving British spy, is her third novel.  It was adapted for the 2018 film ‘Red Joan’ directed by Trevor Nunn, starring Dame Judi Dench as aged Joan and Sophie Cookson as young Joan.

INTERVIEW:  Read Jennie Rooney’s discussion with RadioTimes about ‘Red Joan’ her book that inspired the movie and why she made changes https://www.radiotimes.com/news/film/2019-08-28/red-joan-author-on-why-she-changed-the-true-story-for-judi-dench-movie-im-not-a-biographer/

Imagine a Mature-Age Diana, Princess of Wales

In July 2020, Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, would have been 59 years old.  I don’t know about you but that makes me feel old!

Like millions of others in the late 20th century, I watched Diana’s life unfold through newspapers, magazines and television. 

I guess I kept these magazines as a small piece of vicarious history, a trip down memory lane.  Photographs are taken from my old copies of Hello! (August 1997) The Australian Women’s Weekly (May 1998, June 2000) and Who Weekly (June 2001) in memory of the late Princess of Wales.

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These days there are several ways we can view the past, or a computer-generated future.  For a more mature-age Diana see link below.

BIOGRAPHY

The late Diana, Princess of Wales, was born The Honourable Diana Frances Spencer on Saturday, 1 July 1961, in Norfolk England.  She received the title Lady Diana Spencer in 1975, when her father inherited his Earldom.

Lady Diana Spencer married Charles, The Prince of Wales, at St Paul’s Cathedral in London on Wednesday, 29 July 1981, becoming Princess of Wales.  The ceremony was watched on television by millions of people around the world.  As I recall her silk wedding gown looked crushed as she alighted from the royal carriage.

One warm night in April 1983 I waited beside the bitumen road as Charles and Diana left Government House, Brisbane, to travel into the city for an official function.  The Rolls Royce was lit from within and I recall how Diana glowed and smiled even though the figures beyond her window would have been shadows. 

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During her marriage, the Princess of Wales undertook a wide range of royal duties with extensive overseas travel.  Family was very important to Diana, who had two sons: Prince William and Prince Henry (Harry).  After her divorce from The Prince of Wales in August 1996, the Princess continued to be regarded as a member of the Royal Family.

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Post-divorce, Lady Diana filmed a controversial interview about her marriage.  She died on Sunday, 31 August 1997, following a tragic car crash in Paris, believed to be caused by paparazzi chasing her vehicle through a tunnel.  After purchasing the Courier-Mail newspaper, my father told me the news and I was disbelieving, shocked.

There was widespread (and world-wide) public mourning over the sudden death of Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, a hugely popular royal, culminating with her funeral at Westminster Abbey on Saturday, 6 September 1997.  After the funeral, there was a long cavalcade by road to a small island on Althorp Estate, her family’s ancestral home in Northhampshire, England.  The streets around my home were silent, everyone watching Diana’s last journey.  It is hard to forget the funeral hearse driving past so many sad faces and billowing seas of flowers on route to her final destination.

This link shows a computer-aged photograph of Lady Diana and what she possibly could have looked like as a mature woman.

https://twentytwowords.com/see-what-princess-diana-would-have-looked-like-today-at-age-56/

Even after her untimely death, the Princess’s work lives on in the form of commemorative charities and projects set up to help those in need.  And also through her married sons Prince William, heir to the royal throne, Prince Harry, and in time their respective children.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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Internet advice taken from The Australian Women’s Weekly issue June 2000 which shows how far we have come and how the Diana-look was still in vogue.

‘One Moonlit Night’ has Arrived!

Excitement!  My copy of ‘One Moonlit Night’ by Welsh author Caradog Prichard has arrived safe and sound.

I could read any Welsh literature but now I have the opportunity to air my views in the weekly discussions on Book Jotter’s Dewithon20 in conjunction with Wales Readathon 2020.

For further details on this event (and the book) have a look at these websites:

Book Jotter information
https://bookjotter.com/2020/03/01/wales-readathon-2020/

DHQ 2020
https://bookjotter.com/2018/03/26/dhq-dewithon19/

Week 1 Discussion
https://bookjotter.com/2020/03/06/dewithon-20-week-1-one-moonlit-night-by-caradog-prichard/

Gretchen’s stuff
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2020/02/21/are-you-ready-for-wales-readathon-2020/

Try something new!  Join us!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Fire and Rain from Poet Kate Llewellyn

Kate Llewellyn is a hidden treasure.  I had not read any of her works before today but she is reaching the age of legend status and should be acknowledged for her beautiful poetry now rather than in retrospect.

In ‘Blue Mountains Christmas’ Kate Llewellyn explores the particular delight of summer rain which breaks a dry spell:

Yesterday, smoke from the valley-–

I thought it was mist

until I smelt it-–

and today, each leaf holds water drops,

shining – it rained in the night.

Kate Llewellyn expresses wonder in the capacity of nature for regeneration in the face of disaster, and nature’s opportunism.  In ‘Magpies’ she defines the summer heat and leaving a garden sprinkler on while a bushfire rages:

It had been hot for days,

the garden sprawled-–

hit like a cricketer.

I left a hose on,

hanging in the apple tree,

and went indoors and slept.

Magpies found this fountain

and stalked around.

They made a midsummer opera

and gargled water-–

it became their song.

They sang as if to praise

the fountain in the tree.

While all this was happening

a hundred fires swept the State.

Great trees exploded,

birds and animals caught fire.

People died and houses burnt,

yet still these magpies sang

around the fountain in the tree.

Poet Kate Llewellyn Playing With Water book
‘Playing with Water’ (Pymble NSW HarperCollins 2005) creates a meditation on nature, on community, on the cycle of life. A lyrical memoir that is a celebration of the senses and the seasons.

Australia is the driest inhabited continent on the planet.  It is natural that drought and the regeneration which comes from bushfires and drought-breaking rains are timeless subjects in our poetry and evocatively captured by Kate Llewellyn.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

PROFILE

Kate Llewellyn is an award-winning Australian poet, author, diarist and travel writer.  She is the author of twenty-four books comprising eight of poetry, five of travel, journals, memoir ‘The Dressmaker’s Daughter’, letters and essays.  “Kate Llewellyn is naturally poetic, naturally personal, and uniquely generous with it.” writes Australian Book Review’s South Australian State Editor Peter Goldsworthy.  Further reading Poetry Library.

ABC Radio National transcript:
https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/saturdayextra/kate-llewellyn/3288742

‘Share Your Story’ Writing Competition and Anthology

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LEGENDARY BULLOCK TEAM leaving Jondaryan Woolshed, west of Toowoomba, Queensland, loaded with bales of wool. In his heyday 1858-1862 manager James White employed 88 blade shearers in this huge T-shaped woolshed. Illustration hand-printed 1985 by H. Sperring.

Submissions are open for ‘Bedtime Yarns and Ballads from the Australian Bush’ in 2020 Share Your Story.

Here’s what coordinator, author and literary entrepreneur, Michelle Worthington has to say in her newsletter:  ‘This year’s theme ‘Bedtime Yarns and Ballads from the Australian Bush’ will have judges looking for creative, engaging short stories or poems inspired by life in Australia, Australian animals, the Outback or overcoming adversity which will appeal to children aged 0 to 12 years to be read at bedtime.’

Map of Australia 06A ‘yarn’ is a rambling story, particularly one that is implausible, and poetry must be in traditional Australian ballad format.  Michelle encourages writers to think of a modern version of Blinky Bill, Banjo Patterson, Dorothea Mackellar, ‘Wombat Stew’ (I add my own personal favourite ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’) for a new generation of readers.

Michelle Worthington goes on to say ‘We would love aspiring authors of all ages to have the chance to be published in our next Anthology to raise money for Aussie’s doing it tough, with proceeds donated to the NSW Rural Fire Service’.

NOTE:  ‘The winning entries will be included in an Anthology to be launched in October 2020, and all successful authors and illustrators will be invited as VIP Guests to the Pyjama Party Book Launch at the Queensland Children’s Hospital and locations around Australia during the launch month.’

Entries open 1 Feb 2020 and close 9pm 30 April 2020

Poetry Clipart 08For competition guidelines and entry requirements, visit the website to sign up for Share Your Story newsletter

https://shareyourstorypublishing.com/

Michelle Worthington is an international award-winning author and business woman.  As Founder of Share Your Story Australia, she waves her wand to coach aspiring authors and illustrators all over the world to achieve their dreams of publication.  Michelle is also available for speaking engagements, book signings and school visits.  She runs diverse workshops, and if you are thinking of becoming a writer, check out Share Your Story or visit Facebook or contact Michelle for further information.


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Maybe you could rework the legend of NED KELLY (December 1854 – November 1880) an Australian bushranger best known for wearing a suit of bulletproof armour during his final shootout with the police.

Pineapples and the English Language

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This caged pineapple asked me why he was called a pineapple when he was neither a pine nor an apple.  I couldn’t answer his question but I did give him a lecture on the idiotic English language and how we take it for granted without knowing why Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Read on…


 

“English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France.
Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.
We take English for granted.
But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor a pig.
Why do writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?
If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth?
One goose, two geese. So one moose, two meese?
If you have a pile of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what is it called?
If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?
Have noses that run and feet that smell?
How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
Have you noticed that we talk about certain things only when they are absent?
Have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful gown?
Or met an sung hero who has experienced requited love?
Have you met someone who was combobulated, gruntled, ruly or peccable?
Where are those people who are spring chickens or who would actually hurt a fly?
The lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down.
Fill in a form by filling it out, while an alarm goes off by going on.”

Written by Anonymous

Poetry Soup
https://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/quote/27538_english_is_a_crazy_language_there


Kids Storytime 04English is the most widely spoken language in the world.
No language in history has dominated quite like it.
English has adapted many different words to suit itself.
Could this be why English is one of the hardest languages to learn?
The Guardian newspaper explains—
https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jul/27/english-language-global-dominance

Old Books – Timeless or Laughable?

It is time to attack my bookberg.  Book sorting!  Only another book lover will know this task is emotional, dusty work with frequent trips back and forth to the reject box to retrieve a volume you just can’t live without.

I did not factor in the impact of nostalgia.  As I sifted and culled, I was overwhelmed by the memories which came flooding back.

Relating to the photograph above, here’s a small sample of the tip of my bookberg:

  • Those aching muscles as I tried to emulate actress and fitness guru Jane Fonda using her inspiring 1981 ‘Workout Book’.  The less said about the front cover the better.

 

  • My 1986 major motion picture tie-in ‘Out Of Africa’ by Karen von Blixen was purchased after I saw the movie because I wanted to see how much the movie had altered the book.  Well, let’s just say it was movie mush.

 

  • ‘Finest Moments’ the hilarious 1975 antics of Norman Gunston (Australian TV comedian Garry McDonald) were clever but now make me cringe.  Gunston dared to go where no journo had gone before.  McDonald was a good scriptwriter but.

 

  • I tried and tried to read this 1984 paperback of Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’.  Even now as I look at its yellowing pages (it cost me $4.50 back then) I don’t think I will ever read it.  Most of it has come true, right?

 

  • The small yet 383-page book ‘Angels & Fairies’ written 2005 by Iain Zaczek was a surprise.  A gift, seemingly unread, it contains works of art from famous British painters in 1800s Victorian era.  Such luminous illustrations, if ever there was a misnamed book, it’s this one!  Nothing cutesy about it.  A serious study for art aficionados.

 

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Need I say more? Heavy old coffee-table books, classic black and white photographs with depth and clarity, each one telling a story.

During re-reading and culling, three things struck me immediately.

  1. The smallness of the paperbacks.
  2. The density of the print.
  3. The amount of information.

I guess smaller books meant cheaper to print, easier to handle.
Because I now need reading glasses, the print looks tiny to me.
Does excessive screen time influence the way we read off screen?
We read less content, larger font and wider spaces today, because of what?

Several of my earlier paperbacks have bios, dedications, illo plates, notes, etc.
Or a pull-out page so you could fill in your details and mail to the publisher to receive the author’s complete booklist.

Fortunately the only thing which hasn’t changed is real bookshops.
They may be fewer in certain countries but they are alive and well where I live.

Getting back to those rejected books, I have cardboard boxes (ah, that smell of cardboard) to pack them in and send off to University of Queensland for their Book Fair.

I was mightily impressed with UQ book wrangling skills, particularly after I visited their Book Auction and saw frantic bidders making the value of old books rise higher and higher until the final bid, the hammer fall, the cry of delight from the successful bidder.

Blogging Image 04My three-part series of UQ Book Fair visits last year—brilliant photos—

PART ONE
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/04/28/rare-book-auction-and-alumni-book-fair/

PART TWO
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/05/05/rare-book-auction-and-uq-alumni-book-fair-part-two/

PART THREE
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/05/08/rare-book-auction-and-uq-alumni-book-fair-part-three/

This post is pure procrastination.  But look at this book on Rome, I was a little bit in love with the professor…

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

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ROME OF THE CAESARS by Leonardo B. Dal Maso, Professor of Archaeology and Ancient History, Roma. An autographed copy September 1983. Bonechi-Edizioni ‘Ill Turismo’ Via dei Rustici, 5-50122 Firenze. FRONT COVER shows reconstruction model of the centre of Rome in the age of Constantine by architect Italo Gismondi. GOLDEN COIN was issued by Emperor Hadrianus. WAX STATUE personal collection.

Poetry ‘Deep Into the Heart of Wales’

Sunday 1st March 2020 the Wales Readathon and Dewithon20 begins!  To get fired up, read Gareth Evans emotive poem, one of many he penned on a trek across Wales.

“In the summer of 2003, Gareth Evans walked the length of Wales from Cardiff to Holyhead, taking 28 days to cover over 500km and 18000m of ascent.  Twenty-eight poems were inspired by the journey.  Some are humorous, some are philosophical, some are descriptive and all are the product of quiet, solitary observation.  Join Welshman Gareth as he probes deep into the heart of Wales.”

Here is one of his poems—

“The Dragon’s Back”

Turned to motionless stone by a great Welsh wizard

His red scaly back turned to a silvery grey

The most powerful dragon that ever lived

Is harnessed by a mysterious, magical spell

His elongated head peers down on the Llanberis lakes

His massive body full of spikes is a fearsome sight

His rock-studded spine slumped high above Ogwen

Gashes line his steep sides like old war wounds shooting down to Idwal

Gullies and arêtes form the webs of his folded wings

A bristly tail drops down suddenly, decorated by spectacular pinnacles

Before flicking up again with one last majestic sweep

To its triple-pronged tip soaring towards the heavens

The roar that once filled the valleys preserved forever

In the howl of the wind and the scream of the jets in Nant Ffrancon

His beauty is held in the eagles that now circle above him

He lives on in the spirit of the people of Wales

Courage and passion are mirrored in their eyes

And his fire still burns in the depths of their hearts

By Gareth L Evans 2003

Poetry from “Deep Into the Heart of Wales”
http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewPoetry.asp?AuthorID=8106

Wales Readathon 2020
https://bookjotter.com/2020/02/03/are-you-ready-for-wales-readathon-2020/

My Dewithon20 post
https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2020/02/21/are-you-ready-for-wales-readathon-2020/

‘One Moonlit Night’ by Caradog Prichard is currently winging its way to me via Booktopia.  It is the book chosen by Dewithon20 as a group read.  Or pick your own book and join us!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Welsh Flag

Dewithon Logo Daffs

 

Moths Stopped Me in My Tracks

Suburban shopping centre covered in moths after drought-breaking rains.  Warm humid conditions released flora, fauna and insects which burst forth in a delayed exhibition of springtime in Brisbane.

My apologies if you have ‘Mottephobia’.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

INFORMATION : This activity is unusual.  Could these small arthropod insects with feelers, six legs and one pair of wings be a Dry Leaf Looper Moth?  More at home in leaf-litter under trees?  The images shown on the website (below) are similar moths to the ones I have photographed and were found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.

http://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_loopers/DryLeaf.htm

Dry Leaf Looper Moth – Idiodes siculoides – Subfamily Ennominae? Family Geometridae

Are You Ready for Wales Readathon 2020?

Wales Dragon Readathon Dewithon2020 (2)
This Welsh girl is reading an exciting tale to the dragon. Or perhaps she is so intent on the story she doesn’t notice the dragon until the last page. The perfect team, a cool dragon and a super keen reader participating in the forthcoming Wales Readathon and #dewithon20. Any age or species can participate. Details https://bookjotter.com/2020/02/03/are-you-ready-for-wales-readathon-2020/ or my blog post https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2020/02/21/are-you-ready-for-wales-readathon-2020/

Interested in Welsh literature?  Maybe even dragons?  This is for you!  Wales Readathon and Dewithon20 offer the opportunity for book bloggers around the world to discover Welsh writers and their works.

The list includes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, plays, in fact anything written in English or Welsh with links to the nation of Wales.

Wales Dragon Flag Dewithon2020

This 31-day literary celebration commences on Sunday 1st March 2020 (St. David’s Day) and ends Tuesday 31st March 2020.  All ages welcome, dragon optional!

The perfect time to join with the readers of Wales and follow #dewithon20 trailblazer Book Jotter

Dewithon Logo Daffs

You are free to read and write on any literary subject relating to Wales

OR

read the set book classic ‘Un Nos Ola Leuad’ (One Moonlit Night) by Caradog Prichard.

One Moonlit Night by Caradog Prichard

The first of four Read-Along posts are scheduled for Saturday 7th March 2020.

Dragons ahoy, I am participating again this year!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


More details—

DHQ Dewithon Headquarters

Official hashtag #dewithon20 when tweeting

Dewithon Reading List Wales Readathon Library

Book Jotter https://bookjotter.com/2020/02/03/are-you-ready-for-wales-readathon-2020/

Reading Wales http://readingwales.org.uk/en/

Welsh flag texture crumpled up

Review ‘Peace’ by Garry Disher

IMG_20200216_104859

Hypnotic, laconic writing from Garry Disher.  Another superb story featuring lone country Constable Paul Hirschhausen.  In his 4WD police Toyota, Hirsch patrols hundreds of kilometres through a vast dusty landscape around the small town of Tiverton in South Australia.

The plot weaves in and out of his long days on duty encountering misdemeanours ranging from wayward teenagers to rural theft and murder where nothing is as it seems.

The first killings are shocking (not telling who or what but it’s emotional) and expertly told through the eyes of Hirsch and his inner monologue.  I love this single POV approach.  The next murders involve a family, and two young girls disappear.  In steps sensible Sergeant Brandl of Redruth HQ as well as Sydney’s Organised Crime Squad senior sergeant Roesch and Homicide Squad senior constable Hansen, two insensitive characters, and things get very tricky indeed.

Jondaryan Horses 004

The hot dry rural atmosphere seeps into every chapter, and unforced dialogue runs throughout the story.  The town’s characteristics and characters are spot-on, for example annoying citizen Martin Gwynne, and recluse Craig Washburn who lives in a caravan near a dried-up creek bed.  And who is spray-painting graffiti on an historical woolshed?

There’s a bit of romance with girlfriend Wendy Street although I do find her background role passive and uncomfortably supportive of Hirsch without any commitment on his part.  I would like to see her become more prominent in future books in the series.

On a positive note, ‘Peace’ does cover community matters and domestic welfare, all part of Hirsch’s extensive remit.

Redruth Burra South Australia 02

I enjoyed the touches of wry humour and Christmas festivities including Hirsch’s role as Santa.  The book title comes from “In the end he found three generic snowscapes with the single word Peace inside.  That’s all a cop wants at Christmas, he thought.”  If only he could be warned of what’s to come…

Certain people seem to think Hirsch bungles everything he touches.  Well, he does bungle a couple of things and gets hauled in to explain, but when it comes to detective work he has a keen eye.  Hirsch knows that nothing is random, everything means something.

See if you can untangle the threads before he does, bearing in mind that you are reading in a nice comfortable chair.

So far, my favourite read for new year 2020!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


AUTHOR PROFILE:
Garry Disher Australian Crime Author 03Garry Disher was born in Burra, South Australia, in 1949 and he’s the author of over fifty books, from crime fiction and children’s literature to non-fiction text books and handbooks.

Disher graduated with a Masters degree in Australian History at Monash University and was awarded a creative writing fellowship to Stanford University in California.  He later taught creative writing before becoming a full-time writer, winning numerous awards both in Australia and overseas.

Garry Disher  https://garrydisher.com/
List of books  https://www.fantasticfiction.com/d/garry-disher/

TRIVIA:  Redruth Gaol exists in Burra, South Australia, but author Garry Disher could possibly have named Tiverton after a homestead on the Yunta Creek or the town of Riverton in South Australia.

Redruth Burra South Australia

Stilt Walkers – Fact and Fantasy

Toowoomba Train Trip 029
STILT-WALKER BUTTERFLY Toowoomba Queensland 2008 September Carnival of Flowers.

If you’ve ever been to the circus or a street parade, you will have seen someone walking along high above the crowd on a pair of stilts.  To the average person, stilt-walking is the mainstay of theatrical performers, clowns and jugglers and used to great effect in fantasy film and stage productions.

However, stilts (originally wooden) have been used in many industries for many hundreds of years, from ancient shepherding to wall painting, fruit-picking and hedge-trimming to modern construction.

Several websites have histories of the original stilt-walkers, but in the old days if you found yourself living in a flood plain, beside the beach, in marshland or some other area where the ground was less than steadfast, it was a great way to keep safe.

Raised above it all, striding through the landscape with a birds’ eye view, it’s easy to see how they became part of certain countries folklore and historical identity.

I remember as a child, turning round to see the silk-clad legs of a stilt-walker and being quite amazed as I slowly raised my eyes to the performer, a real person no less, teetering high above me.

  •   Apparently ‘Walk on Stilts Day’ is celebrated on 27 July every year

 

  •   In 2008 Roy Maloy of Australia took five steps on stilts 17m (56ft) high

 

  •   In 1891 Sylvain Dornon stilt-walked from Paris to Moscow in 58 days

 

  •   The Golden Stilt is the highest honour in the ancient sport of stilt-jousting

 

  •   European stilt-walking festivals are held in Spain, Netherlands and Belgium

 

  •   Canadian ‘Cirque du Soleil’ feature a dazzling array of stilt-walkers

 

  •   Moko Jumbie is spirit healer stilt-dancing from West Indies

 

  •   A centuries-old tradition, Chinese stilt-walkers bring good luck

 

  •   Modern stilt performances by gorgeous Leonie Deavin troupe

 

  •   Stilts can be ordered online – go for it!

Stilt-walking is corporate business now, far, far removed from those sodden sheep in the marshes, guarded by a lone farmer on stilts with only his trusty sheep dog and knitting to keep him company.  Knitting was not gender specific in olden times; hardy men perched atop a pair of wooden stilts could knit a woolly vest while keeping a wary eye out for hungry wolves.

So forget those hole-punched tin cans and pieces of string you manoeuvred to clump up and down the driveway like a robot, stilts have entered the 21st century.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

More information and fascinating photographs:
http://homunculustheatre.com.au/roving_acts/manoeuvre-stilt-performers/
https://www.thevintagenews.com/2018/12/05/stilt-walkers/
http://www.leoniedeavin.com.au/profile.php
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stilts
https://stiltfactory.com/

Debbie Young ‘The Natter of Knitters’ New Wendlebury Barrow Series

Mystery, Mayhem and Comedy in the Cotswolds

From UK author Debbie Young’s original Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries comes ‘The Natter of Knitters’, the first book in a new spin-off series set in Wendlebury Barrow.  And I’m keen to enter the draw to win a hand-knitted scarf associated with the launch of The Tales from Wendlebury Barrow series—read on for details.

Debbie Young Natter of Knitters 01Debbie Young says the title of each new tale will be a collective noun, whether a well-known phrase such as ‘The Pride of Peacocks’ (which I’ve read) or one she has invented to suit her own purposes like ‘The Natter of Knitters’ which I think is very appropriate.

Catalogued as quick reads (novelette or short novella) Debbie comments “The Tales from Wendlebury Barrow series contains intrigue, humour and romance but no murder—just gentle crime and misdemeanours.”  I am very interested to see what a gentle crime is!

In ‘The Natter of Knitters’, Sophie Sayers is keen to take part in a secret yarn-bombing campaign.  The definition of yarn-bombing is when a group of knitters surprises its local community by covering something in colourful knitted items, such as a statue.  In this case, an historic tree.

In walks mysterious new arrival, Ariel Fey.  ‘What is she up to?’ I ask myself.

Debbie Young Natter of Knitters 02
Enter the Prize Draw associated with ‘The Natter of Knitters’ new release.  The prize is the scarf Sophie knits in the book, created in four floral shades of blue (forget-me-not, hyacinth, bluebell, cornflower) using a soft warm mix of merino, cashmere and silk.  See Debbie’s website for details.


Debbie Young Natter of Knitters 04

Sign up for Debbie’s newsletter via her website to become a member of her Readers’ Club and you will automatically be entered in the Prize Draw to be held on Friday 14th February 2020.

As a welcome gift, Debbie will send the ebook ‘The Pride of Peacocks’, a short novella she’s written especially for new members of her mailing list.


Debbie has written several titles—and writing more

Debbie Young Natter of Knitters 03Quote “I’m putting the finishing touches to ‘Murder Your Darlings’, the sixth Sophie Sayers Village Mystery, and I’m writing the second Staffroom at St Bride’s novel ‘Stranger at St Bride’s’.  The second tale from Wendlebury Barrow is also bubbling…”

Such a noteworthy crop of cosy crimes with comfortable characters and Cotswold village mysteries to solve.  Don’t wait!  ‘The Natter of Knitters’ is now available in ebook formats (Kindle, Kobo, Apple, GooglePlay, etc) and also in a cute compact paperback the size of a picture postcard.

Put the kettle on, or brew the beans, then settle back for an enjoyable read.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


Debbie Young Natter of Knitters 05QUICK GLIMPSE FROM DEBBIE YOUNG:

“As a freelance, I’ve written for Cotswold Life and Country Garden & Smallholding (now Country Smallholding) on subjects such as organic box schemes, poultry keeping and country crafts, and I very much enjoy writing regular columns for the two magazines closest to my home. You can find these articles among my blog posts, tagged Hawkesbury Parish News and Tetbury Advertiser.

“In 2010, I started blogging, and book projects and ambitions started to materialise as if by magic. From 2013, I was commissioning editor of the Authors’ Advice Centre at the Alliance of Independent Authors, before giving it up to write full-time in 2019.”

Poetry Clipart 14Further reading:

https://authordebbieyoung.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debbie_Young

https://hawkesburypress.com/who-we-are

https://sophieetallis.wordpress.com/tag/debbie-young

https://www.allianceindependentauthors.org/

Three Things #9

Bookshelf for ABC Radio 04

Reading Looking Thinking

“Reading” is the first horse out of the stalls with “Doing Time” by pod-travelling author Jodie Taylor.

If you haven’t read the first 22 book series, “The Chronicles of St Mary’s” you are missing a treat.  Dr Lucy “Max” Maxwell and her research team travel through time to historical locations with both hilarious and devastating consequences.

But I digress, because unto Max “When a Child is Born” he is named Matthew and he grows up to become part of the opposition, the dreaded Time Police.  In this new spin-off series, we have long-haired introvert Matthew undergoing his training in Team 236 (or self-dubbed Team Weird) which he shares with two other trainees, handsome Luke Parrish and timid Jane Lockland.  Their dialogue is mostly dry repartee and I wince, thinking it follows the unfortunate trend of TV-ready script writing.

Suitable for YA readers, there is no swearing but there is violence, bullying and a murder followed by some pretty tense moments and a gruelling interrogation.  The interrogation puzzled me.  Surely the Time Police are able to go back in time and see what happened?

Overall, I think the scene-setting is slow and steady and it took me a while to warm up to events.  I didn’t really have a favourite character but the time jump to Ancient Egypt nicely played on my claustrophobia and the Australian rabbit chapter, although not accurate, is hilarious!

I clocked subliminal references to other works from Jasper Fforde, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and some I forgot to write down—maybe they were “erased”.  A strange coincidence with real Sarah Smith, fictional Sarah Smith, and the one from Dr Who.  Or is it all in my imagination?

A return visit to Ancient Rome, chalked togas and all, gets the original St Mary’s team involved and it really hits the fan.  The routine plotline does a messy U-turn, the action gets a good twist, and the reader is shoved towards a dramatic and satisfactory ending.

Time Police work from fictional headquarters in the real Battersea Power Station in London (see bookcover) and Jodi Taylor’s website is full of interesting stuff like liquid string https://joditaylor.online/

On the whole “Doing Time” is not unconventional enough for me, but worth delving into if you are a fan of sci-fi past-future worlds. GBW.

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Yes, that is my cushion!

“Looking” is second across the line with Prince Harry Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Duchess of Sussex.

Their photographs are everywhere, as if people didn’t expect this to happen, but it makes a nice change from graphic bushfire images.

Certain events in my family “overlapped” with the Royals.  No, not a medal or taking tea with Queen Elizabeth II.  More ordinary things, like births and weddings.  For example, I was married at the same time as Prince Charles and Lady Diana, and my marriage broke up at the same time.  Spooky huh?!

Having read many Royal scandals over the years, I won’t go down that “Should they have done it?” track, suffice to say the Duke and Duchess had choices but one decision to make.  They made that decision based on what is right for them at this time.  In life, nobody knows what is around the corner, just keep moving forward. GBW.


“Thinking” gallops into third place with Margaret Atwood and her forthcoming Australian tour.

I am thinking of going—will have to make up my mind fast because tickets are selling like hot books, er, hot cakes.  Yum, books and cakes—I’d certainly kick myself if I missed the opportunity!

This momentous touring event commences in Sydney on 16 FEB 2020 and travels to Canberra, Brisbane [22 FEB 2020], Melbourne, Hobart and Perth.  Margaret Atwood said: “I am so happy to be returning to Australia, where I have spent much time in the past, and where readers have always been so warm and welcoming.” [26/11/19]

I think Margaret’s itinerary shows a lot of stamina; two weeks of touring here plus New Zealand.  ‘Scuse me, I’m just dashing off to count my dollar coins. GBW.

https://www.qpac.com.au/event/margaret_atwood_20/
http://margaretatwoodlive.com.au/index.html

Gretchen Bernet-Ward


“The Testaments” Winner of the Booker Prize 2019

SPECIAL NOTE—Margaret Atwood’s husband, Graeme Gibson knew his time was running out.  He had been diagnosed with dementia and wanted to go to Australia with Atwood to retrace childhood journeys, including visiting relatives in Brisbane, Queensland.  His mother was Australian, his father Canadian, and Gibson had returned throughout his life to see friends and family.  About seven months after their trip, in September, Gibson died in hospital in London where Atwood was promoting “The Testaments”, her highly-anticipated sequel to “The Handmaid’s Tale”.  Read more https://www.smh.com.au/culture/books/margaret-atwood-s-final-australian-trip-with-partner-graeme-gibson-20191205-p53h6h.html


Wales Readathon Dewithon 2019 08HISTORICAL NOTE—One post in three parts “Reading Looking Thinking” a neat idea started by perennial blogger Paula Bardell-Hedley.

Check out Book Jotter her informative, interesting and book-related website!
[Psst, she’s an Atwood fan]