Know your currawongs

Currawongs vs Magpies

At a recent family gathering where physical distancing was strictly enforced, my dear Uncle pointed out that in my blog post about the Victorian Fortifications at Middle Head, I had made a mistake!

I had incorrectly identified magpies as currawongs. This is a grave error and my family of amateur but deadly serious twitchers were somewhat disturbed by my rookie faux pas.  There was a great deal of comment about my journalistic credentials and accusations of “fake news”.

I, therefore, apologise most humbly for my error and all future posts which include the identification of native Australian birds will be subject to strict quality checking by the newly established Family Ornithological Committee.

I’d like to thank my most esteemed Uncle for not calling me out publically and highlighting my error in the comments section.

🙂

These are magpies, not currawongs.

Check out the cheeky magpies at this site

 

Magpies have a lighter coloured beak and extensive white markings. There are significant regional differences between magpies. Juveniles are grey. They should also not be confused with pee-wees which are much smaller. Currawongs, on the other hand, have a black beak and only a small amount of white on their under-tail area. I don’t have a photo of a currawong or pee-wees to share.

Furious Fiction 9 – March 2020

Wentworth Street, Port Kembla

Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction Competition

Gosh, the First Friday sure does come around quickly bringing another chance to enter Furious Fiction, the AWC’s monthly competition. As I’ve said before this is a fun activity with a terrific prize. You can read about it on their website.

Basically it’s 500 words in 55 hours for a $500 prize.

The criteria for March were:

  • Your story must include a PERSON IN DISGUISE.
  • Your story must take place in a PARK.
  • Your story must include a MIRROR.

I made three starts to this story. The first attempt was about a private eye trying to catch a wandering spouse, then it morphed into an internet dating story before I finally decided to run with the same story arc as last month’s story. It had to stand alone and not rely on the previous episode to make sense. I have already hatched out the next episode and hope I can bend April’s criteria to suit.

Here is this month’s Furious Fiction entry, submitted at 9:55 PM Saturday night. 488 words.

Clark in the Dark

Miriam was swinging her legs under the park bench. 

“Stop fidgeting! You’ll blow our cover!”

She sighed deeply and went back to pulling at the fringing on her poncho. 

“How long do we have to sit here?”

Clark ignored her. 

Miriam shuffled along the bench, tapped her feet on the ground, stood up, sat down, adjusted her mohawk wig, looked at her watch and sighed again. 

“Gov, this is ridiculous. We’ve already hit our quota for the month. Anyway, don’t you think THIS is dangerously bordering on entrapment?”

Miriam waved her hands over the “this”. An orange and white crocheted poncho made from acrylic yarn, white lace-up boots and tight orange velour pants. 

“Miriam…” he said “It’s not about the quota. It’s about the law. We don’t just stop upholding the law because we hit our quota! We don’t just let the fifty-first murderer off the hook because we only needed fifty for the quota!”

Specks of white saliva were gathering in the creases of his lips.  

“No, Miriam, we seek out those poxy crims wherever they are! ”

When DCI Clark Weston was working up to a full spitty episode, DC Miriam Hensen knew it was time to take a backward step.

“We have a duty to society! We have to stop these scum corrupting our youth with their grooming. If you can’t stand the heat Miriam, get out of the sweatshop!”

“Gov, I joined the Unit so I could create change! I expected undercover work to be more than sitting in Hyde Park in a clumsy disguise trapping lost souls. I didn’t think I’d be using a bag full of second-hand clothes from Double Bay Vinnies to entrap the disadvantaged.”

“Don’t come the liberal social justice disadvantaged angle with me, Miriam! These people DO have choices! They can look in the mirror before they leave home you …”

He stopped mid-sentence, “Look!  There, case in point!”

There, coming towards them was a travesty of colour. A man in a blue shirt, green pants and no belt. 

“A Code 10! Bet you’ve never seen THAT before!“ Clark whispered excitedly “Blue and green with nothing in between!”

Miriam was shocked. The man’s eyes were bulging like a junkie craving a fix. Clark pushed her towards him.

“Remember, he has to agree to buy!”

She sashayed up to Mr Blue-Green, “Wanna look at my stash fella,” she cooed, swishing her fringing and holding the bag out provocatively.

“Yeah babe, if you’ve got any sequins, I’ll buy the lot!” 

And just then, just as he committed to the sale, DCI Weston of the Fashion Police, lept up and cuffed him. 

“You’re under arrest  for a Code 10 Violation – Catastrophic Colour Clash.” Clarke shouted, “You do not have to say anything, but anything you do say may be used as evidence.”

Clark looked across at Miriam with smug satisfaction. “Never forget our motto, Miriam. Dress Proud. THAT’S what you signed up for.”

 

 

Furious Fiction 8 – February 2020

Wentworth Emporium

Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction Competition

I didn’t get a chance to submit an entry for the December and January editions of Furious Fiction but here is my effort for February 2020. Furious Fiction is a fun competition with a terrific prize and you can read about it on their website.

Basically it’s 500 words in 55 hours for a $500 prize.

The criteria for February were:

  • One of the characters had to be a GUARD
  • It must include the words NARROW, GLOSSY, GOLDEN and LEATHERY
  • The first and last sentences can have only two words.

Let me know what you think!

Frankie’s Folly.

“Not AGAIN?”

The guard’s exasperated look said it all. This was the third time Charlie had tumbled through the narrow shute from the prison van into the processing room.

“Lord, it’s only two months since the last time you were here! Will you never learn?”

“‘Fraid not, Frankie,” Charlie said as he held out his leathery hand for a defiant high-five. “I will always express myself as the creative individual I am. They will never wear me down!”

When there was no return slap Charlie withdrew his raised hand, seamlessly morphing the gesture into a head scratch. Frankie wasn’t risking being seen on camera fraternising with the inmates. Secretly, he hoped that one day, Charlie might learn how to keep himself out of trouble. At the very least, learn to keep his felonies private and behind closed doors.

The first time they met, four years ago, Charlie was in for three months. He arrived in golden hot pants and silver knee-high boots.  A clear Code 7 Violation: Mixed Metallics.

The rigorous and brutal re-education sessions had had little impact because a year later, Charlie was back. This time in a glossy vinyl jumpsuit adorned with sequins AND fur. Code 8 slapped down right there! Texture Abuse.  The Judge was less inclined to be lenient for a second offence and Charlie was in for a full year.

And here he was a third time. Granted, Charlie was a little more subdued in a blue shirt and green trousers, but Frankie wouldn’t help him this time. There’d been a crackdown on contraband and it was too hazardous to smuggle the ‘Zines in. Last time, he had pushed pages torn from Vogue under Charlie’s cell door but despite the hints, he just didn’t get it! It was too much for Frankie, he had compassion fatigue.

Frankie read Charlie’s charge sheet and shook his head. The Judge had really thrown the book at him.

“Crikey Charlie?” He swore under his breath. “Everybody knows its law!” The mandatory five-year sentence was excessive but without a doubt, this was a serious offence. There it was in black and white:

“Blue and green should never be seen unless there’s something in between. Code 10 Violation: Catastrophic Colour Error. Maximum penalty!”

As the other guards dragged Charlie away,  Frankie felt for him, he was obviously trying. He had made a rookie error, he had forgotten the belt.

Frankie sighed, it was definitely time to forget this fella. He had done what he could.  Who knew what sort of family Charlie grew up in? No doubt his mum wore black bras under white t-shirts. His dad probably had a mullet. There was little hope of redemption.

Frankie squared his shoulders in a Scarlett O’Hara-esque way and strode down the hall to unload yet another van-load of sorry souls in their offensive glad rags.  The decal on the cop car outside at least reminding his jaded psyche of his raison d’être.

Federal Fashion Police. 

Dress Proud.

 

 

 

NEWS FLASH!!! I didn’t win but this story did get long-listed! woot woo!!!!

Screen Shot 2020-02-26 at 19.07.04

 

 

 

 

Furious Fiction 7

Australian Writers Centre Furious Fiction Competition

I look forward to the Furious Fiction First Friday each month. I don’t always take the opportunity to write something, but when I do, it certainly is furiously fast! This November, I had a chance to take a peek on Friday night, and I sketched out an idea, but I didn’t actually start writing until Saturday. It’s a fun competition with a terrific prize and you can read about it on their website.

Basically its 500 words in 55 hours for a $500 prize

The prompts for November 2019 were a bit tricky!Screenshot 2019-11-05 20.15.35

Here’s my effort!

Three in the Bed

“There were eleven in the bed, and the little one said roll o…”

Molly didn’t get a chance to finish the nursery rhyme.

“Cut it out! Eleven? It’s only ten!” Polly interjected vexatiously.

“I can have as many as I like! I can have 50 in the bed if I want.”

Molly and Polly had been bickering since birth. Molly, the eldest, by seven minutes, thought she could lord it over Polly. While Polly, who had benefited from a greater share of placental oxygen, was the tallest.

With the bickering came the secret schemes. The ones sealed with an even more secretive handshake. The sorts of schemes that only truly identical twins could pull off.

The sort of schemes that twisted and turned and caught the unsuspecting in a tangled web.

It started out innocently enough when one sister couldn’t keep an appointment, the other would go in her place. Polly would sit the Maths papers, Molly would do the art classes. They would lie in bed at night and giggle at the stories they had invented and what the other would need to do to stay in character for the next encounter.

The stakes grew progressively higher as they got older. They shared a Tinder profile. On Saturday nights they’d flick through the photos giggling and calling out in unison.

“Left!”

“Left!”

“Left!”

When they got to Lewis, they both shouted. “RIGHT!”

“We’ll share! He’ll never know.” Polly said.

Molly interpreted sharing as sequential dating. Polly had a better idea; simultaneous dates.

“How are we going to do that?” Molly asked.

“Easy, invite him back to our place, I’ll be hiding in the bathroom. You go to the toilet, I’ll swap places. Then after a while, I’ll ‘slip into something more comfortable’, and we can swap again.”

Molly wasn’t convinced but provided she’d be the one that ended up in the bed, she’d agree.

“It might get a bit awkward, though, if things start getting hot and steamy and you’re in the bathroom?”

“Noise-cancelling headphones, Sis,” Polly said.

Lewis turned out to be as hunky as his profile picture.

Polly and Lewis quickly got down to business on the couch. He began to trace the  crescent-shaped birthmark on her thigh with his finger, but Polly held his hand and excused herself nervously so she could “freshen up.”

“ SHIT! He saw it! The birthmark!” Polly wheezed as she shut the door.

“We didn’t think about that!”

Polly suddenly looked like the proverbial cat with the pigeon. “Sorry sis, you’ll have to miss out this time.”

“No, that’s not fair! Just turn out the lights!

“He doesn’t seem like an ‘in the dark’ sort of guy to me.” She pushed past, shutting the door firmly on her stammering sister.

Lewis was lying naked in the bed. Polly slipped between the sheets. Lewis looked over his shoulder as Molly slipped under the covers too, singing.

“There were two in the bed, and the little one said …make room for three!”


PS: I am not sure if the nursery rhyme I cite here is universally known. It was one my mum used to sing to me and me to my daughter. It’s a counting song and you use your fingers as you sing along.

There was 10 in the bed and the little one said

“Roll over, roll over”

So they all rolled over and one fell out (fold down one finger)

There was 9 in the bed and the little one said

“Roll over, roll over”

So they all rolled over and one fell out (fold down one finger)

And so on until you get to no-one in the bed

You can read some of my other Furious Fiction stories by clicking on the following links

Furious Fiction 6

Furious Fiction 5

Furious Fiction 4

Furious Fiction 3

Furious Fiction 2

Furious Fiction 1

 

 

Travel Mascots Part 4

The return of Iain

Several weeks ago, I reported that I had very carelessly lost Iain, my wee travel companion. I surmised that I had perhaps left him on the rooftop of my car while I packed my things or that I had simply left him on the rocks at Salen Jetty.

 

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The last known sighting of Iain

 

While devastated by his loss, I found another travel companion, Iain mac Iain. His black watch kilt and shawl at odds with the Royal Stewart tartan of his “father”. But hey, you have to make do with what you have, and I had a very generous donation of black watch tweed from my Airbnb host in Lewis.

Iain mac Iain was a valiant replacement. Forever seeking out his father, befriending other seemingly lost or abandoned travel mascots, he made it home safely to Australia after spending the better part of a month in Scotland. He had some grand adventures and has appeared in many unknown facebook posts as he was included in other people’s family snaps.

I sought the help of the good people of Salen Jetty. I messaged the shop as soon as I realised he was missing. We stayed in contact and finally the day after I flew back into Australia an Iain- sighting was made on Facebook! True to his armoury loving-self he was found sitting on top of a canon! My Salen Jetty shop contacts were quick to claim on my behalf.

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Now, three weeks after that first sighting he is here with me in Wollongong, Australia having a grand reunion with his dad! After an awkward handshake and a few minutes of small talk, it was man hugs all round!

 

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Dad!

 

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come here, Son!

Thanks to the power of the interwebs and the friendliness of a small community, we have been reunited! If you are ever in Salen Jetty, please drop in on these good folks, tell them you read the story of Iain and thank them on my behalf!

Thank you also to my friends who have joined in on Iain and Iain’s journeys, we’ve had some fun!

 

Travel Mascots Part 3

Introducing Iain mac Iain

After the tragic loss of the original Iain, I would like to introduce his wayward son Iain mac Iain. Wayward, because he has abandoned the family tartan, has a tattoo and is wearing shoes, and a utility belt.

He has cast aside family tradition and decided to wear mostly black. Perhaps it’s just an emo stage?

Despite his careless disregard for tradition, he is valiantly searching for his lost father.

As the new chief – this is his role!

Please help Find Iain!

Travel Mascots Part 3

Introducing Iain mac Iain

After the tragic loss of the original Iain, I would like to introduce his wayward son Iain mac Iain. Wayward, because he has abandoned the family tartan, has a tattoo and is wearing shoes, and a utility belt.

He has cast aside family tradition and decided to wear mostly black. Perhaps it’s just an emo stage?

Despite his careless disregard for tradition, he is valiantly searching for his lost father.

As the new chief – this is his role!

Please help Find Iain!

Travelling mascots

I have a big adventure looming with a 5-week road trip around Scotland. With less than 2 months till departure, I am madly micro-planning. My itinerary is pretty well fleshed out and I’m just filling in the fine details. I have the accommodation booked, the hire car sorted, the ferry crossings reserved and a few day trips locked in.

I will be recording Episode5 of  “Planning my Soctish Holiday ” video soon.

You can have a look at some of my previous posts in the links below

Planning My Scottish Holiday Ep 1

Planning My Scottish Holiday Ep 2

Planning My Scottish Holiday Ep 3

Planning My Scottish Holiday Ep 4

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This quick post is to introduce you to my new travelling companion – Ian – Ian of Clan Mangerton. He’s the strong silent type! In the past I have travelled with a rabbitchickens and a new set of chickens after I lost the first ones! Ian will be featuring in some of my facebook posts and will make some appearances in the blog posts I write while I am away.

Travelling mascots are always a bit of fun! He’s smaller than a gnome and can stand on his own two feet!

 

 

The other sort of mechanic

As part of my jogging route I go through a small, light industrial area to get to the beach. I walk past a brothel – relatively discrete but unmistakably a brothel. Recently, as I was out for an early morning workout, a car pulled up just as I was passing the front gate of the said brothel. I began to steadfastly study the ground, in fear of making eye contact with the customer and embarrassing us both. After all what he did at this time of the day was his business. He seemed agitated and bewildered.

“Excuse me is this Swan Street?” he said with a very heavy non-local accent.

“Yes… it’s Swan Street”  I replied quickly.

“I am looking for 108 Swan Street.”

We both turned to see the very large brass ‘108’ adorning the brothel gate.

“Well that’s it” I said pointing to the sign…. He looked very confused …

“But what is this place?”

“A brothel”  I said awkwardly.

“A brothel? What is this?” (in very broken English and with a thick accent….)

I looked to the sky for inspiration…“A sex shop.”

“A SEX shop??” A dawn of recognition came over his face.

“Yes” I said over my shoulder as I tried to walk away… He held up his phone to show me the screen

Where is mechanic

“My friend send me here – he told me it is mechanics…I come to get my car fixed”

“Well mate, you won’t be getting your car fixed here!  I think your friend might have been having a bit if a joke!”

He turned dejectedly on his heel and walked back to his car.

Was this a ruse on his part to obfuscate the fact he was just about to be seen walking into a brothel?  Or had some smart-Alec of a “friend” given him a wrong address on purpose?

Funny either way!