Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The dream wedding? Or the marriage? Choose.

We are told the 'average' wedding these days costs $20,000 to $50,000, or even more, depending on the source.  But this is nonsense. Every day there are sensible couples who decide to do what is best for the marriage, and not try and fulfil some adolescent girl's fantasy. These are the ones who opt for a simple wedding, no trimmings, and make their vows with love and commitment in their hearts. It is the marriage that is important, not the wedding.

I made a brief check of Google: 

The great bridal train robbery

by: Lisa Power  from: The Daily Telegraph ,  May 01, 2013 12:00AM

LOVE may be priceless but the cost of getting married has reached heart-stopping heights.

Wedding spending has almost doubled over the past decade, with couples now outlaying a record $54,294 on the average Australian wedding, Bride To Be magazine's bi-annual Cost of Love study has found.

The final tally - which includes everything from rings to honeymoons - comes despite couples initially setting a budget of $25,866.

Parents are paying less for weddings, with 90 per cent of couples saving $13,598 for their special day over 15 months.

Just over $6000 is put on the credit card and another $12,583 is borrowed, the study found.

Choosing the dress was a major decision, with gowns ordered more than six months in advance, said Brides of Sydney consultant Sarah Matthysen, who yesterday helped bride-to-be Jordan Summers trial gowns for her December wedding.

This is one figure for an 'average' wedding, but, of course, there are different figures put forward by others. From a wedding planner, for instance, around $100,000.  (I don't recall where I heard that.)  But these sorts of  'averages' are not  counting  the ones who have the barbeque in the park, or even the registry office wedding with a half dozen guests and a BYO picnic afterwards.  And then they put the money they saved toward a nice holiday or reduce the mortgage on the house.  Imagine starting off a marriage with a $20,000 debt just when you are looking at finding a house, furnishing it, and maybe one day, having a child or two. You do not have to have the 'best' wedding of your friends. That desire is childish and you are venturing into a major part of being an adult.  

The wedding dress:

How much does a wedding dress cost?

They are beautiful, of course.  Especially as depicted here.

But remember these are models, and not many of us have the looks and the figures of a model.  $1,000 spent on a dress that will be only worn once in a life-time is a terrible waste of money.


Getting married is a very significant thing. Even if you have lived together for  ten years and have three children together, it is the time when you make a commitment to each other. Vows are different in different religions, and often, people make up their own vows, but the traditional Christian vows say it beautifully  -
To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer,
and I promise my love to you forevermore. 

So why belittle the occasion by turning it into a showpiece or try to gain headlines by doing something strange or weird?  This is a wedding - the beginning of your marriage.  It is an immensely important occasion in your life.  Treat it as such. It is not for people to gawk at as a novelty.

There are numerous oddball ways to get married. In my opinion, it does not enhance the occasion, it diminishes it.  The meaning of marrying is enough; it does not require frills.  

One further thought - from the weddings that I have seen, I have come to the conclusion that there is a definite inverse relationship between the size and style of the wedding, and the length of the marriage.  In other words, the bigger and fancier the wedding, the shorter the marriage.

Make yourself a nice wedding if you choose, invite those who love you, and remember that it is not the climax of a relationship, but a beginning - when you commit to the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. It is the dawn, not high sun and not the sunset.  If you spend too much and wind up in debt because of it, however, it could very easily be the sunset.


Look for my books on sites such as The Book Depository for paperbacks, Smashwords for ebooks, and Amazon for paperbacks and for ebooks.



Monday, 13 January 2014

Who would deny their child a doctor?

This is the 21st Century, right?  Readers of this blog will almost certainly live within a first world country, and can expect to see a doctor when needed.  I am not talking about Medicare, Obama Care, or the National Health.  I am talking about religious cults that refuse to allow their children to receive medical care. Children should live or die by the will of God, they say - except that according to the stories I've been hearing, when the adults become ill, then that's quite often a different matter entirely.

This particular story takes place in the city of Boise, Idaho.

From Wikipedia:

 Idaho is a state in the north-western region of the United States. Idaho is the 14th Largest, the 39th most populous and the 7th least densely populated of the 50 states.  The state's largest city and capital is Boise.

Idaho is surrounded by the states of Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah,  Wyoming, Montana and the Canadian province of  British Columbia. 

Brian Hoyt has permitted me to reproduce this post he made in the facebook group called 'Silent Cries The Faces Of Religious Abuse.'

Growing up in the followers was violently abusive both physically and mentally. The followers are a cult of oppression, fear, and control. This is accepted in the cult and encouraged.


The church of Boise is a quaint little pink building on ten mile road just off Chinden. On any given Sunday or Thursday evening as a child one could witness the bat shit crazies speaking in tongues and sharing confessions with the entire congregation. As a child, you were well aware of the tiny little pump house. You would clinch a bit every time you saw a child being walked out towards service for you knew the ass woupin’ a coming.

They are, like all maleficent, a tightly woven group keeping to themselves. As a child was not allowed to have friends or associate with those “of the world”. You see anyone not of the “followers” are of the world and therefore direct hands of satan. Often times first cousins marry first cousins, inbreeding is rampant. Many of the “followers” when looking to date have to look down the wavy branch of a tree hoping to find one whom they are not related to.

My personal experiences are many varied as to witness and experience. At the age of five, had experienced and processed enough abuse to tell my mother god did not exist.

Here is one in particular that would have greatly benefited me if the state could have intervened.

In seventh grade, wanted so badly to have friends and be accepted in a world that was not the “followers”. Decided to try out for wrestling against the wishes of my mother and step father as it was with people of the world.

During the wrestling, my left foot had two metatarsals broken. When my mother was notified she came and picked me up from school. Was taken home where the normal treatment was received.

 There was always a bottle of manischewitz wine in the refrigerator. This bottle was communal and shared, any disorder that ailed you was healed thru the body of christ in the wine. Be it measles, the flu, common cold, migraine, broken bones, whatever ailed you, it was the cure. Yes my friends, you step right up and have a swig directly from the bottle, letting your faith in the body of christ cure you.

As for the topical treatments, look no further than the bottle of rancid olive oil sitting in the cupboard. The olive oil was used for all manners of treatments. A pus oozing wound, no problem, a couple rubs of the sacred and blessed olive oil will do the trick. Broken bones, rub some rancid olive oil on it. Your chicken pox itch, yep rub that olive oil. Let us not worry about cross contaminations, you see when it turns cloudy and white it is not the perfect breeding ground of rancid shared contamination, no, that is the body of christ’s blessing it with his spirit.

But I digress, back to what followed. Upon getting home from school, was prayed over, given a swig of wine, rubbed with rancid olive oil and the elders were called to assemble a kumbaya prayer circle of the elders. The elders are an assemblage of those believing they had been personally called upon by god to step up in order to counsel and heal the flock. Yes, the voices in the head told them they could heal.

Over the next few days it was diagnosed to be a twisted ankle by these inept “called upon”. Several times would be anointed with the rancid oil, given the sweet wine, prayed above, and told to walk as I was healed. It always ended the same, as my left foot hit the ground and my weight pressed upon, I would pass out in pain. Often times would awaken to abusive beatings being told my faith in god was too weak to allow him to heal me. I was a gay boy and therefore would not be healed. This went on for many days until the school requested a medical slip to continue my absences.

They finally had to bend to “the law of the land” and take me in. I was still in the same pair of pants and shoes as the swelling was to great to remove. The doctor and nurse began to cut them off for access and xrays. This was again a sure sign that I was gay as was the male nurse and doctor.

They were after all direct hands of satan attempting to alter what was manifest predestination. Everything good or bad to happen to you in life is preordained by god, your faith and belief will carry you thru. Your lack is surely your failings.

It was found to have been shattered in two places and infected, as well my state in that of shock. Was put in a temporary cast due to the swelling, given pain meds, and antibiotics. When we arrived back home they were immediately flushed and I received a sermon as to why I had not healed, how bad a person I was, how the schools and government were trying to disavow god and I was going to burn in hell over my lack of faith.

We had to go back for a walking cast. Again this was a hand twisted by the schools under a threat of investigation. There were many beating to keep my mind right and not discuss with the outsiders.

As the pain pills had been thrown out, had difficulties sleeping. Many of the nights would be slapped across the face for wincing in pain, would be beat with a willow branch/bet/hand, would pull my blankets over my head and cry as silently as possible knowing the slightest whimper would show my lack of belief and bring the wrath. The elders would be called for a prayer circle, the abuse would cycle, and the fear to tell anyone was enough to keep me quiet. The get doctors were obviously wrong and it was just a sprain ankle, if I would just open my heart to the blessings and love of god, would heal.

While the bruises of this have long past, the physical pain dispersed, it is still carried with me every day.

There are other, similar stories in this facebook group.


Thursday, 2 January 2014

Writing as an excuse to avoid writing

I'm thinking of writing competitions, 'flash-fiction,' Creative Writing Courses, Creative Writing Groups, even the writing of blogs. But while you're doing a short story for a competition, for instance, or a writing exercise for your Creative Writing Group, you are not writing your novel. It's a way of avoiding writing.

So what are you achieving with all of these activities that involve the setting of words to paper (or screen)? Well, you can say that you're practising. You are improving your technical expertise. You are meeting and making friends with people who share your tastes. You are assembling a 'resume'  of writing, the better to find an agent or a publisher. That last one is insidious as many agents ask for a 'resume.' A few wins in short story competitions or short articles accepted for publication in a magazine might just play a part in at least getting your manuscript looked at.  

Maybe. And these are all of value. But don't put it off forever. Writing an original, coherent full-sized novel is a lot of hard work. It is far more difficult to remain focused with a novel than maybe a 5,000 word short story for a competition, or maybe for a Writing Group - 'a 200 word exercise that demonstrates expertise in description.' 

No-one ever wrote a book while they're spending time doing 'pieces' for writing competitions, magazine, blogs...


Actually, I'll finish now. I have to go write a book...

Monday, 23 December 2013

Christmas at Penwinnard Boys' Home


The residents of Penwinnard Boys’ Home are boys from eleven to eighteen who do not have a home, some because they have lost their parents, others because their parents are unsuitable, violent or criminal or maybe drug addicts. 

Christmas tends to be a mixture of joy and wistfulness. Boys go missing at Christmas more often than at other times of the year.  In ‘You Gotta Have Manners,’ Barry goes looking for his father but can’t find him.

Here is an excerpt:

Barry Zahedi, Penwinnard boy, slumped in a chair in the lounge-room of a friend’s place. He hadn’t been able to find his father, who’d gone missing rather than face court over several outstanding warrants, and had visited various friends and acquaintances instead. He wasn’t wanted. He knew he wasn’t wanted. The day was overcast, but it wasn’t raining, and maybe he could get a lift. Buses and trains were all booked out, he already knew that. Would there be a present waiting for him under the Christmas tree at home? Sean said there was always a Christmas present for every one of the Penwinnard boys. He picked up his school-bag currently stuffed with wrinkled and not very clean clothes, and quite courteously, took his leave of Jorvan’s mum. Jorvan was out somewhere, he didn’t know where.

Three hours later, he still trudged, weary. It didn’t appear that anyone was thinking of offering him a lift. He thought of calling home and asking for help, but he didn’t. He was tough. It was the cold wind that was making his eyes water. They were not tears.


And Sid, who had once had a family.

 Sid hurried after Bob, sometimes trotting to keep up. Bob tolerated him, but wouldn’t go slow just because his legs were shorter. He said he needed the exercise, and being inside was driving him berserk. They both wore heavy parkas and both wore the hoods up, though the rain was currently not much more than a dampness in the air. They were on the cliff-top path, and beneath them, the sea churned, angry and a bleak grey. It seemed months since they’d seen it blue. The wind was bitter.

Bob remarked, “In the Southern Hemisphere, they have Christmas in the summer. I reckon that’d be much better.”

“Ever had a summer Christmas?”

“A couple of times. It was great.”

“Tell me?”

“I don’t think so.”

After a pause, Sid said, “I sort of remember a wonderful Christmas when I was little. I don’t know where I was, not with my mum, but there was a Christmas tree and there were three kids and there were Santa presents, little things that we found on our beds when we woke up, and lots of lollies. And then the real presents later – I remember an orange tip-truck. I don’t know what happened to it. I think every time I was shifted, things’d be just left behind and lost.”

“Mmmm. That’s the way it is with kids like us.”

“Have you had things that you lost?”


“Tell me?”

Bob turned to face the sea, staring out at the spray where waves burst onto black rocks. Something was floating, just a bit of sea-wrack. It was like all of them, just being tossed where life chose, sometimes floating free, sometimes being hurt. Wonderful times, when he’d seen tropical beaches and great mountains and a game park in Africa where lions and elephants roamed free. And bad times. Two masked men with knives, and spurting blood, and Luc. He wondered where Luc was now. He’d never been arrested, he knew that, though nearly all the others had been. It would be silly to tell Sid anything. Better to keep his past as dark as he knew how. Secrets were not secrets when even a single other person knew.

He said, “There was a book once that I loved. It was called ‘The Magic Faraway Tree.’ It was one of the first books I read all by myself. I forget how I came by it, but it was very tattered. I bought myself a new copy a few days ago.” He laughed, embarrassed, “Silly of me. It wasn’t the same. It couldn’t be. I was only about five when I had that book.”

“My mum was good sometimes when I was little. She might have read to me sometimes.”

“You lived with your dad for a while, too, didn’t you?”

“He was all right. He used to drive too fast though, and then he was gone too.”

“Someone told me he’d been in so many places that he couldn’t sort them out. So he started keeping a special box, photos and souvenirs, things like that, just so he remembers.”



The staff do their best.

 In the Penwinnard dining room, Helen MacKender arranged the score of gifts under the Christmas tree. She’d chosen each one as best she could. The boys may have been dirty and rough and noisy, but she did care about them – just that she preferred them not too close. She’d be having dinner there with her husband, though she seldom did normally. It was she who’d decreed that they were never to help in food preparation. She didn’t trust their hygiene.

The tables were laid with clean table-cloths, and they were decorated, as was the whole of the dining room. It was a favourite job, especially among the younger boys. There had only been one mishap, when Wally had been showing off at the top of a ladder. Unhurt, luckily. The boys had been hunted out not long before, though there always seemed to be at least one peering in.


These excerpts are from the book 'You Gotta Have Manners.' Christmas was eventful, as it
often is. A new boy who had just lost his family in a car accident, two teenagers whose whole family had been brawling, their father imprisoned and their mother in hospital, and Sean and Zeke, who took off for the place they wanted to live, to the ones they wanted to be Mum and Dad.

The ebook available on most online booksellers: 
Or for the paperback: The Book Depository has free freight:


This is Rob, skateboard king.

So for all of you who have a family and for all of you who don't, make the best of it. It only comes once a year.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 



Sunday, 15 December 2013

Debbie Bennett, and the story of Michael Redford.

Some books drag in the reader and just do not let them go. These are the 5-star books, books that readers don't just read, they sink into the world that the author has created.

Debbie Bennett released the first of her trilogy just recently. I would have had to have been one of the first to buy the ebook. I'd already read 'Hamelin's Child'  and ' Paying the Piper,'  and now there was 'Calling the Tune.'

It was enthralling, and I wanted to go back and read it straightaway again. But I restrained myself. These are books I will want to read again and again - not as ebooks, which for me, is always a second rate experience, but as real books.  So now I have in my collection the three paperbacks.

The first, 'Hamelin's Child.'

'Michael Redford died on his seventeenth birthday – the night Eddie picked him up off the street, shot him full of heroin and assaulted him.

Now he’s Mikey and he works for Joss. With streaked blond hair and a cute smile, he sleeps by day and services clients at night. Sometimes he remembers his old life, but with what he’s become now, he knows there is no return to his comfortable middle-class background.

Then he makes a friend in Lee. A child of the streets, Lee demands more from friendship than Mikey is prepared to give. But the police are closing in on them now and Mikey’s not sure anymore who he really is – streetwise Mikey or plain Michael Redford.

Hamelin’s Child was long-listed in the UK Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. A thriller set in the seedy world of London's drug rings, this book contains strong scenes and adult material.'

A typical review:

 Hauntingly Brilliant.  This review by  K. Hanney

 I've just finished reading this book, but I know it's a story that is going to stay with me for a long time to come. I've read it in 4 sittings over 4 days, and from the moment I started it, its main character has rarely been out of my thoughts - even when I've been asleep. It really is that good.

Michael is a regular teenager with regular teenager troubles, until he has his drink spiked in a club by Eddie, and he is manipulated into going back to Eddie's London flat. And so for Michael, begins his unwanted and horrific transition into the seedy under-world of heroin addiction, prostitution, violence and exploitation. It's harrowing. It's heart-stopping on more than one occasion, and it's compelling. I feel like I know Michael; he's so real, and I've wanted to cry for him, rescue him, and protect him. I've also wanted to shake him - as he's so real, some of his choices have left me seething with frustration.

This author knows her stuff. It's in the detail, the descriptions, the language. It all just combines to create a world that although alien to me at first, quickly became alive and real, and incredibly disturbing.

I would recommend this book unreservedly. You will learn something, you will be shocked, you might cry - but you won't be able to put it down. A book about something that really happens and really matters, and although it might not be pleasant for its readers in places, we kneed to know - and this author tells it like it is.

This story really will affect you. I was actually a little reluctant to start it. I was screaming to Michael in my mind - 'No, do not go with him!'
And not so much later, it was so desperately sad as Michael returns to the life because he can no longer live without the drugs.

The second, 'Paying the Piper.'

'Michael is piecing his life back together after his time spent as a rent boy. But it's hard and although he's been clean of drugs for months, the nightmares are still too real and he can't come to terms with Lee's death and Eddie's impending trial.

Sometimes other people's troubles can seem easier to deal with. When Michael meets Amanda at the cashpoint, it's a chance to focus on someone other than himself, and finding Amanda's missing husband and baby may just be his salvation.

But the shadows of his past won't let him go. The bank account they've set up for him is full of easy cash and Eddie's old boss Carl can help Amanda. And suddenly Michael is in deeper than he ever imagined possible.'

Review by Jan Ruth
What a cracking follow-up to the first book in this series, Hamlin's Child. Paying the Piper has all the classic ingredients of a good crime thriller, and the clues and evidence were handled superbly, culminating in a breathless chase to the finish.
We pick up the story with Michael in post-traumatic limbo following on from the repercussions of the sex trafficking ring and his imminent trial. By chance he meets Amanda, and their problems become almost one as he endeavors to help her track down her missing child with the help of dirty money. But the shadows of his past close in on him and Michael finds himself trapped, drugged and kidnapped, and sold on!
The story is about Amanda too, who finds herself implicated in the drugs ring. Brilliant characters and the plotting is tense and tight and builds to a dramatic climax.
And I know it's wrong, but I kind of fancied Lenny.

 The third: Calling the Tune.

'It's Eddie's trial and Michael is reliving things he'd rather forget.
Giving evidence means that he can't hide and there are still people looking for him and old debts to be repaid.
A year of counselling isn't enough. Face to face with the man who raped him, Michael can't deal with it.
Trainee reporter Becky follows him out of court, but she gets more than a story when a phone call and security alert mean Michael is on the run for his life.

But running away never solved a problem. Michael realises he has to face his demons head-on if he's ever going to be able to move on with his life - and now he's on a collision course with his worst nightmare.

Following on from Hamelin's Child and Paying the Piper, this novel contains adult material.'



Review by John M R Males

Format:Kindle Edition

`Calling the Tune' is the very satisfactory conclusion of DJ Bennett's trilogy which follows the degradations of middle-class teenager Michael Redford as he battles the consequences of a drugged kidnapping and initiation into London's sex-trade. The electric tension of the previous books, `Hamelin's Child' and `Paying the Piper', is masterfully maintained. The shocking denouement rockets a changed Michael back into an unchanged world, and the reader, deeply caring for him, is left hoping that he will cope.
The villains are human and credible as is the whole cast, and the scenarios are expertly set up to hold the reader on the edge of his seat.
Although adult and graphic the content is never gratuitous; you will be shocked but not offended. Neither are you whipped into outrage; instead you become involved in Michael's tribulations, willing him to emerge unscathed from the twilight world - a measure of the quality of the writing.
Tip: read the trilogy from the beginning.


For more reviews, see
 Notice that a lot of the reviews say that it was hard to forget Michael.  It is that way for me, that the story keeps running through my head. 

It raises some questions, as well. It's made me think.

There are times when Michael acts stupidly. He is far from the swashbuckling hero of the traditional thriller. Even when he tries to 'call the tune,'  it's so, so far from the best way to do it.  Only at the very last does he make the decisive action that enables him to finally win through.

There is also the issue of the confusion between the goodies and baddies. DJ Bennett has a far more sophisticated way of looking at it than most of us, maybe because of her background in the police force. That the baddies are people as well, never all bad (except for the really bad guy, he is evil.)  But in all the series, there are characters that are on the 'bad' side, and yet act in a good way, Lennie, for instance, who works very hard to free Michael, even at the risk of his own life.

I drew the line at Nick being a good guy underneath it all, though. Nick is in the third book, and he helps Michael and he helps Lennie and Becky. He says that Michael was different, not some nameless street kid.  But he was working for Reilly, who made snuff movies!  Street kid, crackhead, whatever, it is evil to derive enjoyment from their murder. I would put Nick firmly behind bars as well as anyone else who worked for that villain.

 To buy the ebooks, you can go to any of a dozen sites, including the biggest - Amazon.com.

 To buy the paperbacks, and especially if you live in a country where you usually pay an additional $10 for a book to be sent, use the Book Depository,
 $16.44, free postage anywhere in the world.




Thursday, 12 December 2013

The fourth and final of the Shuki books.

The fourth and final of the Shuki series is in progress.

Tentatively called 'The Unauthorised Biography,' tentative finish date April, 2014, tentative publication date, August 2014.  


Followers of Shuki will remember at the end of Shuki 3 (To Love and To Protect)  Shuki moved himself and his family to a different place, a safe place - country Australia. He is now with Zahu, Hasquitri's second son, and he has his four wives and two of his stepchildren living with him.
Shuki treasures his family, and is very proud of the home he has created for his family. He is a Lecturer at Leverson University (based on Armidale University in NSW) and they live on a property not far from a small town called Bellerusse (based on Uralla, NSW.)  He calls himself Sam Ray, as the name of Shuki Bolkiah has become too well known for his comfort.
 It is a lovely area of the country, but it can be very frosty on winter mornings.


And they have space, space to ride horses, space for Zahu to hunt the wild pigs, space for the wives to expand their interests. They call their property Marrin.

Complications arise, Prince Nasir, first son of King Feroz,  comes to live with them for a year.  It is to be a part of his education. He is supposed to be anonymous, not treated with any special distinction.

And in Elbarada, Shuki finds his brother, Mwai, and his sister, Pazhiria.

And then there is Meriam, beautiful and intelligent, just sixteen. She is Pazhiria's youngest daughter, but she is disgraced, unmarried, pregnant, and in danger of being put to death for dishonouring her family. So Shuki brings her to Marrin.

But Meriam looks so much like Shuki and that brings its own complications.

Here is an excerpt.  Remember that this is a work in progress, and things may change. Nasir might even find himself written out, but Meriam will not. 

Excerpt from Shuki 4.

Fifteen minutes later, Rania escorted Meriam to the room where the men were gathered. Again, she was wearing a niquab over a thicker version of the makrebi, stark black like a chador. But Hasquitri swore, said that he couldn't stand women got up as parcels, and pulled down the face-mask. 

Meriam's hands went to her face, but he quite gently pulled them down and ordered, "Look at me, girl."

Meriam timidly raised her eyes, and he touched her face and said wonderingly, "She's just like Shuki."

Zahu was staring. He'd never seen Shuki when he was young, but he'd seen photos. She was just like Shuki, like Shuki as he'd been in his teens. Such long eyelashes. He wanted to caress. He'd forgotten that this was a girl and a stranger. It was like a younger incarnation of his love.

But then he shook himself. A physical likeness was no good reason to betray the one he cared about. And even if Shuki said that he could go his own way if he wished, marry and have his own children, he knew that it would distress him very much if he did. It was not like it had been to begin with. Then he had needed Shuki, but Shuki had not needed him. But now, they were together, and Shuki did need him. But this girl...

It was lucky that Hasquitri was too much absorbed in his own fascination with the girl's appearance to notice how his son had been affected. He was very protective of Shuki. He would have been furious if he'd thought that Zahu might hurt him. He asked, "Have they told you what is planned, Meriam?"

Meriam nodded and said, "Yes, Sir."

"I am Hasquitri Daoud. You address me as Master Hasquitri or just Master."

Meriam said in a voice even more faint, "Yes, Master Hasquitri."

"You are to go to a different country. Your uncle's wives will look after you."

Meriam felt a stir of curiosity. No-one had told her that he had wives. She hadn't thought that far ahead, only that she'd been so very bad that she just had to do whatever she was told. She didn't ask. She had her head down again, and didn't see Hasquitri's searching look, or Zahu, who still stared, fascinated and wishing he had known Shuki when he'd looked like this. Matuel as well. They all stared.

Hasquitri asked, "Have you seen your father, Meriam?" and Meriam shook her head. The last time she'd seen her father was through a haze of fists and noise. She never wanted him to be so angry with her again. She never wanted to be so bad again. He'd never hit her before.

Hasquitri said, "I might have to go and see him, I think. He needs to agree to your leaving."

Meriam said anxiously, "He's a good man, Master Hasquitri. He does what he thinks is right."

"He beat you half to death, girl. Is that right?"

Meriam didn't answer except to herself. It was right. She'd deserved it. She didn't know how she could face him ever again.

Rania asked, "Take her back to her room, Master?"

Hasquitri nodded, "Back to her room."

He watched after her thoughtfully. If he was allowed a fifth wife - to have someone like Shuki, so much like Shuki. And yet female and young. Even if she was a disgraced women. But he'd lose face if he took her. He'd lose face even if he allowed her to return home with him as a kitchen maid or something. He wondered how far along she was. Was it too late for an abortion? He guessed it was too late, no matter how far along she was. It was too late because people knew. The father had to be made to agree. Leaving this country with its strict code of morality - it was the only way. 

He dreamed about the girl that night, all mixed up with Shuki as he'd been. Shuki when they'd just been boys together, before he knew. He'd not always been nice to Shuki then. It had been because he was jealous that he was better at things than he was. But then he'd found out and things were different. He dreamed about making love with him except that then it was the girl, and he made a ceremony of burning her concealing clothing before turning to her. She was waiting for him, smiling... 

Zahu also dreamed about her. It was Shuki, and they were in the gorge, in the thick grass. He loved it there. They were together and he was making love with him. Underneath them was the thick robe because the grass was uncomfortable to lie upon. Was it Meriam then? He/she was face-down and he didn't quite know, but it felt so wonderful... And then the other one was moaning with pleasure, as Shuki never did. He stroked over her back and there were no ridges of old scars. Her hair, long and glossy black. There were no strands of grey. It was Meriam.
Zahu woke. He was filled with guilt and he was filled with his want. Shuki slept peacefully, while Zahu started rubbing himself.  He would not be able to sleep otherwise. But even after he'd eased his body, he didn't sleep for a long time. It was hard to stifle his desire for the young girl with the face of his love.


When there is a heavy frost, always, the day after is clear and bright.  I am a believer in happy endings - just that I don't quite know yet what this ending will be.


Monday, 2 December 2013

Two day bloody courses!

Country men are tough, self confident types as a rule.  They don't like being told what to do, and they especially don't like to be told what to do by some clerk still wet behind the years.  A farmer who's been using a chainsaw for the last thirty years does not think he needs a two-day course if he wants to continue using it.

A farmer nearby was furious when they fined him for using the saw bench that had been on his property for many years, and he'd been using perfectly safely for decades. But new regulations came in and suddenly he was supposed to pay money to learn how to use it, and even probably, a license to have it.

This poem was given to me on our recent trip Outback,
 though it applies just as much to any farmer.


Bureaucracy is a curse sometimes, and I'm going to add a few photos - not of the Outback, but of other kids growing up on a farm. A bonfire - how many are allowed to light bonfires these days?  Plucking chooks at the saw bench, though naturally, young kids were kept away when timber was being sawn up for the fire. 
These pictures were taken in the 1950s when interfering bureaucrats were not nearly as bad as they are now.


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