Poetry revisited

I recently met a writer in a non-authoring situation. After completing a little background reading on them, I decided it was time.

I enjoy writing poems, but are they any good? When viewed through Olumide Holloway’s creative writing lens (Word Up), they mostly suck.

In the spirit of reflective self improvement I have revisited one of my ditties.

On a side note I learned that shaking the iPhone, in frustration, allowed me to undo the accidental deletion of said poem.


Polyvinyl chloride sparkle, eons in the making;

Irresponsibly procured, a token,

In an intergenerational

Treasure hunt for more,

now strewn.

Destined to voyage and become entwined,

In a grotesque ocean whirl.

To disintegrate and be consumed by

Zooplankton and coral; the primordial source.

Reports abound of microplastic laden seafood, served upon the plate.

Will it lead to ecocide and humanity’s suicide? Scientists debate.

Let me know if you think it is an improvement on the original, below, or not.


Beneath a hedge

Beyond leaf litter and bark

Draped over twigs

The blue tinsel-tousle dwells

The Vineyard

In varying my morning walk from Anzac Parade to the Chancellery Building, I discovered a colonnade. As it is not far from the faculty of Built Environment, I assumed it was the result of a student project.

Upon closer inspection, I found a plaque proclaiming the sandstone columns having been salvaged from a Greek-Revival style house in Subiaco, Parramatta, called the Vineyard. It was torn down in 1961, to lay a factory car park.

The following image of the house, taken in 1961 is from Sydney Living Museums.

Clouds that look like snow

Catching a glimpse of the clouds out of the corner of my eye, I quickly grabbed my phone to take a couple of photos. The Arctic looking scene was mesmerising. Within moments it was replaced by the Pacific Ocean.

I find aeroplane windows a challenge when taking pictures towards the sun; smears and reflections being the case in point. Thankfully no condensation or ice, this time.

Somewhere over the rainbow

The KLM flight landed just after 6am at Kingsford Smith Airport, twenty years ago, today. The morning was very much like the one today, around 17oC and a huge blue sky.

We had spent the previous month in a heightened state of anxiety; a mixture of panic and excitement. We had packed up our home, shipped it to Australia, furnished the apartment we were letting out, and farewelled our dear friends and family.

The final scenes in the UK are etched on our memories. Friends sat waiting with us until the last moment when we needed to go through passport control and security at Birmingham International Airport. The usual chatter felt somehow constrained by what was about to happen.

This prelude culminated in a long walk of goodbye, amongst tears flowing freely, while carrying more hand luggage than a pack horse would carry in its lifetime.

The relief of taking our seats on the plane to Amsterdam, where we were to pick up an international connection to the Far East, was overwhelming.

Time has dimmed the memory of the stopover in Singapore and the flight to Sydney.

Why is it significant to mark this milestone? It is an opportunity for us to reflect on our choice to make the journey over the rainbow, to become immigrants and aliens in a foreign land. The fact that we have lived over 54% of our adult lives, to date, in Australia is an indication of commitment, at least.

We plan to review our decision over dinner, this evening.

Excerpt from the song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, lyrics by Yip Harburg:

Somewhere over the rainbow way up high
There’s a land that I have heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true

Someday I’ll wish upon a star
and wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops

Way above the chimney tops that’s where you’ll find me

Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly

Birds fly over the rainbow why then oh why can’t I?

Post extraction

It will have been a week, on Christmas Day, since tooth #16 was extracted. This first molar in the upper right side had caused me excruciating pain during the previous week. X-rays did not help in explaining the symptoms. A bit of bashing around with a seemingly metal implement, followed by a “does that hurt?”, identified the offending, not so pearly white. The cause could be due to the nerve dying or a fracture. Root canal surgery would fix the former, while a crown would sort out the latter. The monitoring period, when I planned to work out which organ I would need to harvest and sell to pay for the procedure was short lived.

On the following day, a sliver of dentine on the inside of the tooth was behaving like a bottom hinged window when brushed gently with the tip of my tongue. Another visit to the dentist quickly cleared up the mystery. It had fractured down the middle, below the gum. With not unpleasant memories of wisdom teeth removal, while asleep, over thirty years ago, I happily agreed to a tooth pulling. To take place there and then with local anaesthetic, although “it will not be an easy one to get out”. Four injections later, what seemed like an eternity of rocking the ivory back and forth and a great deal effort, it was out, despite exclamations of “your bone is dense”. Isn’t that a good thing?, I silently asked myself.

When the anaesthetic began to wear off, I took ibuprofen with codeine for the pain. A sleepless night and limited relief resulted in the dentist prescribing panadeine forte. Migraine like headaches and earache followed for the next two days. Another visit to the dentist revealed I had a dry socket, the pain was due to the jawbone being exposed. After an uncomfortable rinsing with saltwater, a rather pleasant clove tasting concoction with analgesic properties was packed into the wound. Yesterday was my first pain killer free day. This morning the cavity is throbbing. I call upon the Universe to allow me the enjoyment of being able to partake in the upcoming feasting, even with using my left hand teeth to chew. 

Not for me. Really?

Being the product of a broken home and seeing so many failed relationships, led me to believe that marriage wasn’t for me. In 1993, my thirtieth year I fell in love with my future husband. Within two weeks of our first passionate encounter, we were living together. 
At that time in the U.K. I had the perception that being gay was something that brought shame to the person and their family. I grew up trying to conceal the part of myself that was largely unacceptable to society. I became expert in hiding in plain sight. Doing everything to avoid the spotlight. The opposite was true in circumstances where I felt comfortable in being myself, to the point of outrageousness. Perhaps this is an insight into what might have been if I had explored this side of my personality. 

A couple of trips to Sydney showed us a completely different culture. When interacting with staff in shops and banks we were engaged in conversations together, not individually. People generally appeared to be more friendly and accepting of differences. Having said that I remember conversations about boycotting products from the island state of Tasmania because sex between two consenting adult men was still illegal. This was decriminalised in 1997. 

Combine blue skies, sunshine, and the Harbour with a lifestyle that offered freedom; this was an opportunity that should not be missed! With the the intention of giving it a go for two years, in 1998, we upped sticks to literally move to the other side of the World. By facing challenges together, we learned to depend on each other. 

We have embraced Australia as our home for almost twenty years. Over that time the World has changed, dramatically, including same-sex marriage becoming a reality for one country after another. 

In our twentieth year together, legislation came into effect that allowed same-sex marriage in England, Wales and Scotland, but not in Northern Ireland. On Saturday morning over breakfast in July we chatted about reports in the news that same-sex British citizens would soon be able to marry at the British Consulate. This coincided with a planned visit by my partner’s family, in October. We both commented at the same time time that this would be an ideal time to celebrate our love and the support of our family and friends. We then realised that we had proposed to each other. 

Much planning and organising occurred from that moment up until Friday 24 October. My husband has kindly agreed that I can share the following post from his private Facebook page. It describes how we became part of the above picture by Zest Events International :

“As I have been asked to share this again…amazing chalk art picture, the largest ever created in Australia in the forecourt of Customs House. 

The night before our wedding in 2014 we walked past the proposed location of our wedding photos and found the area barriered off. At the same time we bumped into a former work colleague, Andi, who explained her new company was creating the amazing artwork. She explained it was a comment on the current political situation in Australia. The mechanical head spewing toxic liquid and consuming books was the then prime minister, Tony Abbott (who was always a NO to same sex marriage and even at the eleventh hour yesterday was trying to derail it). The toddler in the picture, based on Andi’s niece, was left with nothing but mechanical creatures as the ones in nature had been destroyed. A sad picture indeed. 

When we explained about out wedding, at the time only possible at the British Consulate, Andi insisted we should be part of the installation and be photographed on the picture. The artwork took two weeks and seven artists to create and as you can see it is 3D, a no mean feat on something so huge.

So the day of our wedding, we had an amazing lunch, went to the Consulate where numbers were limited to 20 guests. I fluffed my lines I was so overwhelmed with excitement, I ended up with both rings and we all cried with happiness. Drinks afterwards in the Customs House forecourt and pictures on the art work. 

Now I admit I was concerned as to people’s reactions…I am sad to say I was concerned someone might say something nasty and spoil the day. One of Andi’s team had made us a chalkboard heart with “Just Married” which we had clipped to our lapel. We stepped out onto the picture and played around with where to stand, guided by someone located high above on Customs House. People started taking photos and asking if we had indeed got married, I beamed “Yes” more people gathered. Instead of insults the comments were nothing but congratulations and praise. A little old lady walked past thrilled for us. It couldn’t have been more perfect.”

We were also blown away when a bottle of Veuve Clicquot in an ice bucket arrived at our table. A generous gift from a group of people on there way back to Melbourne after visiting a production company on the North Shore. 

Over the next two days, we shared our joy of being married with family and friends. The golden light that seemed to touch our lives after this special occasion lasted for over a year. 

Our marriage will now be recognised by the county we have chosen to call home. 

Unreachable, not

The first time Norwegian Cruise Lines sailed to Australia and New Zealand. This picture was taken at the end of that trip. 

Our friends from the UK spent two weeks cruising to Melbourne, Tasmania, New Zealand’s North Island and back to Sydney. It was great to catch up with my college companion after nearly 20 years. 

Due to visit three years ago, ill health and earthquakes in New Zealand delayed the dream. 

So many things in life seem so far away. Sometimes, the belief that something is unreachable is proven wrong. This thought reminded me of the song, The Impossible Dream, lyrics below:

To dream the impossible dream

To fight the unbeatable foe

To bear with unbearable sorrow

To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong

To love pure and chaste from afar

To try when your arms are too weary

To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest, to follow that star

No matter how hopeless, no matter how far

To fight for the right

Without question or pause

To be willing to march

Into hell for a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true

To this glorious quest

That my heart will lay peaceful and calm

When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this

That one man scorned and covered with scars

Still strove with his last ounce of courage

To fight the unbeatable foe

To reach the unreachable star

Songwriters: Joe Darion / Mitchell Leigh

The Impossible Dream lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC