I think Sam Mendes is a great director. Revolutionary Road, The Road To Perdition and American Beauty are all fine films. I was, therefore, looking forward to seeing 1917, which has been getting great reviews and recently won a Golden Globe.
Unfortunately, I didn’t count on my sleeping “problem” affecting any enjoyment. For over 18 months, I’ve been experiencing insomnia. Until recently, this hasn’t impinged on my movie viewing activities. But only 10 minutes into 1917 and I was nodding off — even snoring. (Thankfully, no one was sitting nearby.)
I can tell you a few things about the first…
In 1997, the Howard Government, in keeping with the great Neoliberalist experiment, decided to privatise the Commonwealth Employment Service (or CES), which had been assisting job seekers since 1946. The CES was replaced by a Job Network of community, government and commercial agencies. The reasoning, as is usually the case, was that increased competition would increase efficiency, while driving down costs. There are now in excess of 1700 such agencies across the country, nine of them within walking distance of my local shopping centre.
When I was made redundant some years ago, I was referred to one of these Job…
Tyto Wroff slipped behind one of the enormous marble pillars that decorated the Palace forecourt. To his right were assembled the Elite Troops of Estinador, their brightly-coloured uniforms resplendent in the midnight sun. The Troops faced the Palace entrance, where their commander, General Eru Thart, stood alongside Estinador’s King, Ardo Vox. The King was presenting medals to several members of the Elite Troops who’d distinguished themselves during the recent battle against the planet Mekmek.
From his vantage point, Wroff could see both of his colleagues. Silvi Grinf was crouching behind a pillar on the opposite side of the forecourt, while…
Like most phobias, arachnophobia makes no rational sense. But also like most phobias, the fear of spiders comes from some dark, hidden corner of the psyche. It’s primal. Just the suggestion of something hairy and eight-legged is enough to make the average arachnophobe gag, scream, or even leap out of a moving car. This is well before the rational part of the brain kicks in and tells us that ‘it’s a harmless little spider’. I can only speculate that somewhere in our prehistoric past, our ancestors ran from a now-extinct, man-eating species of cow-sized spider, and that this distant memory…
About twenty years ago, I realised that I suffered from a terrible, debilitating, and seemingly rare affliction — a fear of gardening. It all began not long after my former partner and I bought our first house together. She had decided that we needed to upgrade the backyard. It was quite a large area, very deep, with a slight uphill slope from the patio to where the yard ended, just behind the garden shed. The yard was dotted here and there with bedraggled native plants, while the central area featured a patchy, brown lawn.
My partner had a friend whose…
The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.
I am always baffled by reactions of anger to news of a suicide. I can recall a work colleague once hurling books and papers around her desk when she’d heard that a friend’s friend’s uncle had killed himself. She didn’t even know him.
As someone who has experienced such desperation, my own reaction is one of deep sadness and empathy. …
Figmund was a half-man, his head and upper body decidedly pig-like. Zandy was a Dark Rabbit, having left the Rabbit Colonies over ten years ago to seek her fortune. They met on Shefaz — the glittering centre of the Federation of Core Systems. He had just heisted several million splods from a transport on Rike. She had just stolen jewellery worth half a million splods from the Prince of Estinador.
It was love at first sight.
They spent a week in the most expensive hotel on Shefaz, only emerging to dine in the Ekzeko Tower, which overlooked the dazzling city…
Early one morning, in that blissful pre-alarm semi-sleep state, I heard a clucking outside my window. For a moment I thought I had dreamt the sound, but I opened my eyes, rolled over, and the sound persisted. The window is an arm’s length away from my bed; so I dragged myself towards it, propped myself up on my pillow, and poked open the Venetian blind with my fingertips. Now there wasn’t any doubt. There was a chicken in my front yard. It clucked away happily to itself while scratching through bark chips and under bushes. …
Advice For Single Men of a Certain Age
do not smile at children
do not walk the streets alone
unless dressed for sport
or accompanied by a dog
and if you must walk, walk hurriedly
do not linger, especially near parks, playgrounds
do not make eye contact with younger women
do not make eye contact with any women
do not expect strangers to talk to you
for single men of a certain age only think of sex and crime
that’s why people cross the road when they see you coming
that’s why they watch you pass from curtained cracks
In Love With Nothing
I can’t quite remember when I saw her first. It might have been in the reflection of a puddle of milk, or in the crystal glasses on the counter. Nevertheless, she was the most beautiful person I’d ever seen. Reluctantly, she gave me her name – Twisty – then disappeared. I could not find her anywhere.
Some days, Twisty would appear on my television, singing and dancing. I wanted to join her, but bumped my head on the screen. I tried to sing and dance for her, but she simply giggled.
Twisty often disappeared for weeks…