You dream of war

A group of us were holed up in the basement of a Victorian hotel  trying to stay safe from the bombs as they fell.

You could hear them outside, the thud of a bomb dropped from the belly of an airplane, followed by the rat a tat tat of machine gun fire near enough to make you avoid the walls, for fear of a penetration of bullets through the walls and into your body, or other people’s bodies.

This gunfire was persistent like the buzzing of a mosquito over your face, only you could not swat this sniper out of existence. You could only cover you head with your arms, lie as close to the centre of the basement as possible, and hope.

You watched bodies as they fell around, saw others sprawled out inert, dead or near dead. The unlucky ones.

And you with a small group of others decided it might be safer to go up the stairs along the heavy wooded balconies up countless flights of stairs, across the thick Axminster runners with their brass ends fixed to keep the carpet steady.

You could not keep your heart steady as you pulled your tired body up step after step in line with a few others who like you could not lie still in the basement hoping not to die, but unable to do a thing about it.

You clung to the inside bannister of the staircase and hunched over to avoid any bullets that might penetrate these walls.

Again the sound of bombs dropping nearby and then the lull of reprieve and the hope this time the bombs might stop for good only to have the start up again thirty minutes later in a pattern of fracturing explosion followed by an eerie silence and muffled only by the sirens on the street below and the occasional wail of a person somewhere in the building who could not take it any more.

The air was thick with  the diesel smell of low lying planes, the smell of burning buildings and you imagine the smell of human flesh as if someone was having a barbeque only they were cooking plastic and chemicals instead of nourishing food.

You were not one bit hungry, too scared for hunger as you watched a gnarled dark skinned woman take a gold chain from her neck. The chain studded with a spiritual icon, St Christopher perhaps or the Virgin Mary, and you watched her slip her precious chain through a small gap in the window frame so that it rested there between the window and the fly screen, for safekeeping perhaps, or as a memento for those who might come after.

And in the morning, when dawn began and the planes flew away, you crawled through the building and up to the top floor and on your way you found other precious items left behind by other people desperate to discard their most precious belongings in some vague hope of safe keeping.

On the top floor you realised you were no longer on land but now in a huge plane cruising over the city but this plane had a hole in its fusillade and you could see air coming through and felt the momentum of the plane going down like a deflated balloon and you hoped only for a safe landing.


I just saw a mouse skitter across the back shelf near the sink and the kitchen compost bin.

It looked like something in a movie, its silhouette dark against the morning grey of sky through my back window. Where were the cats my first thought and then the realisation my heart was thumping as if I’d seen something far worse than a mouse.

I’ve been trained from early days to look upon mice roaming free in my kitchen as a health hazard.

I know we have mice but I figured they live in the back garden or under the house, not bold and obvious to see in my kitchen.

Mice bring in the ‘yuk’ factor, as if I’ve been contaminated by something. I imagine its little mice feet riddled with germs which get scattered across my bench top or was it worse?

Was it a rat?

Albeit a small rat but still a plague carrying monster from the bowels of some underground sewer?

I reckon the yuk factor must signal something primitive inside, something of the first words we hear from our parents when we have failed the cleanliness test, most probably in the toilet when we’ve made a mess or in our nappies or even when as my daughters used to do when they were little, though I have no such memories of doing this myself, put together as many different ingredients they could find from the bathroom cabinet.

The sorbolene cream mixed with shampoo and then a visit to the kitchen to add flour and rice for texture then a visit to the garden to throw in a few rose petals and leaves, then a visit back to the bathroom to add a little colour in the form of whatever hair products might have existed in our cupboards in those days.

Stir the lot with a big stick and there you have it: Yuk.


I went yesterday to my second book launch in Brisbane, a combined event where several people show cased – that’s the word they use these days – show cased their boks.

We were meant to do some sort of reading to impress people, even strangers enough to want to read our work. I managed to sell a couple of copies to strangers, the rest to family who are always the best buyers of your book.

Family have an investment in your words in a way that strangers do not.

I also met a lovely Facebook friend, Fiona Robertson, only newly arrived in my life through another Facebook friend, Louise Allan, and Fiona told me I should go over to Twitter.

‘Twitter is where the writers hang out,’ she said.

I have a twitter account but I use it so rarely I can’t even remember my password.

Must I travel to this land where you are restricted to such a short word count it might challenge me rather like the mouse or rat that ran across my kitchen bench challenges me?

Must I introduce something else into my life, the likes of which I do not understand at present, though I once felt this way about Facebook and now I enjoy my time there in a way I once partied in the blog world?

Now my visits to blogdom are weekly, while I visit Facebook several times a day.

If Twitter is a shorter form then I am likely to go to Twitter even more often and then…

This is the reason I have elected to stay away from online worlds when I am away from home. If I need to escape temptation I can leave the house.

I’m not the first to complain of an online addiction, the first writer to say, it takes up too much time.

But I have found I enjoy these addictions, these distractions, these seductions that lure me away temporarily but then after I have had my fill, they leave me free to go back to the pleasures of writing.

That is, until I see a rat in my kitchen and my heart heaves.