Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Very Good, M'Lady.

Here's something to ponder.

When Sir Elton John gets married to his gay lover, does that make his new spouse a Lady?

I must admit, I was somewhat bemused when they announced that Elton John was being awarded a Knighthood. I don't know, but I guess it had something to do with the mental image of one queen tapping another queen on the shoulder, and telling him that he was a Sir.

... And Now For The News.

Listening to the news on the radio today, it was interesting to note that Sir Elton John's forthcoming marriage to his gay lover took precedence over a report about yet another earthquake off the coast of Sumatra.

It does make you wonder, sometimes, about the media's priorities. But then again, depending on your moral standpoint, I suppose both news items could be considered earth shattering.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

War Stories

It has been said that as we grow older, we also become more cynical. This is understandable; the longer we live, the more we see of life, good and bad. Nowadays, it seems we're constantly being bombarded with the negative aspects of our society. The media places great emphasis on reporting the bad. The latest celibrity to be caught up in a sex scandal rates top billing, whilst the well known movie identity who spends twenty hours a week with handicapped children rates only as a page filler. With this bias toward the dark side, it's easy to see how we can become jaded.

I would like to think - just like you would - that I haven't been adversely affected by this constant barrage, but I find myself looking at the news with an almost perverse sense of fatalism. And how often have you heard yourself say "this world's just getting worse and worse"? It's very easy to see only the bad when you aren't given any other alternative, isn't it? And I think it may be this conditioning that is partly responsible for the following:

I heard somewhere that the R.S.L. (Returned and Services League) was becoming concerned that numbers were dropping as members, exhausted by Time's forced march, fall by the wayside. It seems, on ANZAC Day in particular, that the gatherings of those brave souls who served their country in the major wars are slowly getting smaller. ANZAC Day has always been seen as an opportunity for old comrades to re-muster, and to re-live. To share again the comraderie which is conceived only in the womb of war. Battles are re-fought as fiercely as the first time. Memories, faded by everday life of the past year, are wiped off and polished until they gleam with the radiance of the present. The fallen are brought back to life, their health drunk to, and then laid to rest again. Homage is paid to those who were there the year before but failed to make it this time around.

In an attempt to improve on numbers, the R.S.L. is looking at promoting interest amongst today's youth. They are hoping that the young ones will pick up step where the old ones have faltered, thereby keeping the ANZAC tradition alive. A noble sentiment, for sure, but somehow I don't think it will be quite the same.

I have been extremeley fortunate in that I have grown up in a period of our history when I have at no time, no matter how reluctantly, been forced to consider taking up arms and going to war. In that regard alone, I would find myself with nothing in common with our returned veterans. Sure I can imagine the privations, the noise, the smell of blood and death. But it's not the same as actually being there, is it? I have never been that scared. I have never tried to hold in my mate's brains as they leaked out of his shattered skull. Nor would I ever wish to.

That's what sets our brave veterans apart. So imagine how wide the gap would be between them and today's youth. As the old-timers gather and reminisce, and great battles with exotic sounding names such as Gallipoli, Ardennes, Tobruk, El Alamein, Battle of the Bulge, Nui Dat are re-fought, what will the young-timers have to talk about?

The Rumble at Southbank during the Gangbanger War of 2003?

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Eye Is Quicker Than The Brain

You know how you glance at something, then you have to have another look because what you thought you saw and what you actually saw were two different things? What you thought was a fifty-cent coin on the ground was, in reality, just a piece of lolly wrapper. That sort of thing?

With me, it's generally words. Last week, I was rummaging in the pantry cupboard for something, and I glanced over a packet of "breakfast muffins". I read it as "breakfast coffins". Naturally, somewhere in the logic department, that didn't compute, so I had to double check what I had read. I mentally shook my head at the literate faux-pas, and continued on my search.Mind you, considering some of the crap that is pumped into those things, I do wonder if "coffins" might not be the correct description.

Another time, I was shopping and picked up a bottle of Listerine (For those who don't know, Listerine is a brand of mouth wash). There was the name, Listerine, in big bold letters on the label. Underneath was what I read as "with coolant". Doing a double-take, I re-read it. What it actually said was "with coolmint". I had a chuckle to myself, but having tasted the stuff, I sometimes think I got it right the first time.

You know what they say about first impressions.


Not a lot happening now.

We’re fast approaching the last day, and already many of the people have left.


Someone coughs somewhere, the noise resounding up and down the corridors, emphasising their emptiness. There’s a flurry of activity as someone hurriedly gathers up their things and rushes out the door, not wanting to be left behind, not wanting to lose contact with the people who have come to mean so much to them. Hurrying to retain their sense of belonging, their perception of worthiness.

There are the usual stragglers. Those who hang back, saying the last goodbyes, making last minute arrangements to meet up somewhere else. Even one or two who seek the honour of being the last one out when the doors are closed and locked for the final time.

It had spirit, this place. The spirit of all who walked the length of its corridors. Infused in the walls are all the dreams, the hopes, the loves (lost and found), the battles (and what battles!), the laughter, and the tears of every person who entered. Will these walls hold that spirit? Will we be able to come back at some future time and feel the vibrancy of human emotions, like we can in some old houses that are described as having ‘character’? Or will the humanity slowly melt away, much the same as ice does when you’re defrosting the freezer?

One day, perhaps, we’ll know. But in the meantime, we will move to a new place and hope to instill there the same spirit that we are leaving behind.

Speaking for myself, I believe that when the doors shut for the last time, a piece of me will be trapped inside forever, impregnated in these walls.

I did it all here. Laughed, cried, got drunk, made some enemies, made some incredibly wonderful friends who will be there for life, gained respect, learned respect. I found an amazing lady who loves me, and whom I love so very, very much. My eyes water with the emotions I have for her.

It’s time to say goodbye. When I walk out the doors, I will be taking so much with me, leaving so much behind.

There’s a great future ahead, and that’s the direction I'm looking in. But, every now and then, I’ll turn and look back. I’ll think of all that has happened here. And in my mind I will slowly walk through the empty corridors where the only footsteps are echoes, hanging in the air like dust motes.

© Peter Stone 2005


The woman looks nervously out the window. Oh, God! In just a few minutes ...

The pilot has announced they have begun their descent. Soon the plane will come down through the clouds, and the woman will be able to see the city. His city. Where he lives.

She shuts the book that she has brought with her to read on the plane. The book that she has stared at but hasn’t read a single word since taking off several hours before. Every time she makes the attempt, her thoughts run madly to him.

She can’t believe she is doing this. What on earth has possessed her to fly across the country to be with a man she has only spoken to on the phone, and on the computer? She thinks about the first time they "saw" each other in the chat room. How they felt immediately drawn to each other. How they started chatting and found they had so much in common. How, at the end of that fist time chatting, she felt, somehow, a little more alone than usual, and couldn’t wait until she spoke to him again.

Naturally things lead to e-mails and phone calls. Long phone calls. Conversations so deep and personal. She had felt in awe at allowing a complete stranger share so many of her secrets. Her hopes. Her desires. Her fears. They explored all there was to explore on the phone. They got to know each other so well.
The next step was a foregone conclusion.

Let’s meet.

Now, after a lot of planning and soul searching, she was in a few minutes going to be in his arms. It’s what she has wanted for a long time, especially these last months. But there is still nervousness. And doubts. What if he doesn’t like the way I look? What if we don’t get on together in person like we do on the phone? What if? What if?

The plane has landed. The woman finds herself walking up the covered walkway toward the arrivals lounge. In just a few seconds reality will replace the fantasy. The door looms before her.

Is my hair okay?

Ten more steps.

Is he here?

Five more steps

Will I recognise him?

One step.

Oh, God! Deep breath. Here goes ...

She steps into the arrivals lounge.
© Peter Stone 2003

Sunday, April 17, 2005

An Eeewww Yuuuuck Moment

I went outside the other night to close the gates to our driveway. In The process, I stood on a slug. Not such a big deal, apart from the fact that I wasn't wearing anything on my feet, and it was in such a position that it squished up between the two toes on the outside of my foot. An interesting sensation to say the least.

I also discovered that it doesn't just rinse off with water, either. It leaves a slimy coating on your skin - probably the same stuff which leaves the silver trail behind them - which needs to be scrubbed off.

Now, be honest. Did your toes scrunch up when you read this?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


The little girl changes hands; the constant, unfamiliar action is making her arm ache. Lank blonde hair falls across her eyes and she brushes it away with the back of her hand. She wants to stop, but doesn’t want to upset Daddy. The little girl wants Daddy to love her.

Mummy doesn’t love her.

The little girl remembers the time she got out of bed one night and found Mummy and a man laying on the couch with no clothes on. Mummy really yelled at her, made her cry. Shortly after that Mummy went away, leaving the little girl with her brothers and Daddy.

No, Mummy doesn’t love her. She wouldn’t have gone away if she did.

Her brothers are younger than her. The little girl has to look after them because Daddy has to work two jobs to make money, and he doesn’t have the time and is too tired when he comes home from work. Every day the little girl gets out of bed, and wakes up Daddy so he can get off early. Then she wakes up her brothers, makes breakfast, gets them ready for school, makes lunches for all three of them. After school the little girl makes them do their homework, cooks tea then she puts them to bed. She has taken over the role of the mother they don’t have.

Tonight, the little girl has become the wife her father doesn’t have.

A newborn baby will literally die if it doesn’t have continual physical contact with the people around it. It’s called failure to thrive. The baby needs to know it is needed. So does the little girl. She needs to feel that Daddy wants her; loves her. A faded primal instinct tells the little girl this is wrong, but the need to have Daddy touch her - be close to her - is overwhelming. It has been a long time since she has received any kind of attention from him.

Her other arm is aching now. She uses both hands to try and relieve the discomfort. Her father shudders and groans. He ejaculates over his daughter’s hands and arms. His eyes are closed with the rapture of the moment.

He doesn’t see the little girl start to cry.

Early next morning the little girl is in the kitchen. It’s still dark, the only light coming from the open door of the refrigerator. Her cheeks glisten, glazed by her tears. Daddy will be awake soon, getting ready to go to work. She has to make his sandwiches. She lays the ingredients out on the bench top, but one item she carries across the kitchen and drops into the rubbish bin.

It is a jar of mayonnaise.

It will be many years before she can eat it again.

© Peter Stone 2003

Thursday, April 07, 2005


The woman pulls herself into the corner, trying to make herself as small as possible. Her eyes are staring, dead. An ugly, poisonous bruise is forming on the side of her face. Her mouth is swollen and split. The bottom lip has almost been torn off. There is blood everywhere. Over her face, her arms, her shirt.

There is movement and sound in the room. There are people here. The police. How did they get here? The neighbours must have called them. Again.

She doesn’t really see the people. To her they are just shadows flickering across her vision. Their voices are blurred, indistinct, as if under water. The red and blue lights of the emergency vehicles invade the kitchen, dancing maniacally around the walls, adding to the surrealism. All part of the same horrific dream. Maybe it’s a new nightmare? Impossible to tell these days, where one ends and another begins.

A policeman leans down towards her, attempting to talk to her. He reaches out to her. The woman whimpers, and tries to squeeze even further into the corner. The policeman moves away, deciding to leave it to the ambulance attendants.


That’s what has set him off this time. She’s forgotten to put it on the table, and he has to get up and get it himself. He starts screaming at her, telling her how useless she is. Calling her names. Nasty, foul names. He pours salt into his hand and throws it in her eyes. So she "doesn’t forget again."

To drive home his point he snatches her by the hair and throws her across the kitchen. He attacks her as she lies on the floor. Kicking at her body and head. Putting all his weight behind each swing. He’ll teach her! She tries to protect her face with her arms. A sickly crunch as the steel-cap smashes her wrist.

After aiming a couple more kicks at her head he bends down and grabs her by the throat. He squeezes. Hard. Then he starts to pick her up, his vicious fingers digging into her neck. She is choking. He raises his other hand and makes a fist. The wedding ring sparkles obscenely as it catches the light. He smashes his fist into her face.

The police and ambulance workers jump with fright as the woman screams and screams and screams.

After what seems like hours, the woman is lead gently across the kitchen floor by a female ambulance attendant and a policewoman. There is a blanket draped over her shoulders. She is barely able to walk. She is sobbing miserably.

They guide her past the group of men standing near the table. Detectives and uniformed officers. They are talking in low voices. Every now and then one of them looks down at the body on the floor. The body of a man, his face and torso slashed.The snapped blade of a carving knife is sticking out of his chest, just where the heart would be.

© Peter Stone 2003

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Somewhere Over My Cerebrum

You know those songs that pop into your head and never leave? Kind of like a relative who arrives unannounced on your doorstep and then decides to stay for a couple of weeks; it's good to see them at first but then they become annoying.

It happens to me all the time - at least twice a week - and I seem to be most vulnerable just after I wake up in the morning and start preparing breakfast. The kettle boils while Ben E. King begs Stand By Me, muffins are toasted as Marvin Gaye croons about Sexual Healing, and tea bags jiggle as Kermit The Frog laments that It's Not Easy Being Green.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy listening to music. My partner might even go so far as to suggest I'm obsessed with listening to it. But the annoying thing about these songs is that I never get the full version. The needle gets stuck on one part and continually plays over and over and over, an eternal loop that makes you feel like banging your head against a hard surface to see if you can make it jump to the next bit. I'm sure you're familiar with the torment.

Allow me to introduce today's performer. Ladies and gentlemen, here to entertain us with her classic hit-song Over The Rainbow, Judy Garland! The trouble is, she can't get over it. I don't care that bluebirds fly there. I don't give a stuff that it's way up high. I just want her to get over the damn thing!

You see my torture? "And why are you telling me", I hear you ask? Okay, you got me. There's an ulterior motive. I figured that if I told you the name of the artist - and if you weren't paying attention the first time I'll reiterate - JUDY GARLAND - and the name of the song - OVER THE RAINBOW - it might stick in your head and annoy you for a while.

Hey! A problem shared is a problem halved, right? And why should I be the only one to suffer? Anyway, time for me to go. I'll talk to you again soon. I hope you and Ms Garland have a nice day.