Monthly Archives: November 2011

Christmas Story – The Artist (by Lynette)

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The artist.

Yitzhak was rostered on the long rectangle from Munich to Braunau that year and he went, jiggling his extra layers of fat in a burlesque pantomime and muttering, as he did every year that really a Jew shouldn’t be required to do field work. He had the team ready when I noticed he’d left his lunch. There being limits to magic, I wriggled into an elf fur and bundled after him. Somewhere under the swollen face and beard, Yitzhak’s sensual lips broke into a happy smile.  We worked from east to west and before the earliest hint of  light we’d completed the whole down-the-chimney, leave-the-presents routine.

In Braunau I saw the boy slumped against a wall, palsied with cold tremors. His silly little moustache was crisp with icicles.

“Pick him up,” Yitzhak said in mock resignation.

He stayed for six months, painting mountain scenes which he presented shyly as silent thanks.

When we dropped him off in Munich with a full stomach he waved in the dazed manner that the memory-wipes always have.

“That kid will never amount to a hill of beans”, Yitzhak said as he stored Adolf’s awful paintings in his chest of precious things.

Writer of the week – part two

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The third winterers, taking planes for the first time in Australian Antarctic history,
carried an entirely different package of spirited determination. 
Soviet interest in the territory
that Sir Douglas Mawson had claimed for Australia had awakened 
the snoozing conservative national Menzies government and so, 
along with the RAAF contingent and the planes,
one ready-to-assemble metal plane hanger, and an experienced dog-handler,
was a team who would mesh into feverish activity. This would 
be a genuine expedition of inland
and coastal exploration, of mapping and surveying, 
and the young surveyor from Perth
was as ideally fitted to this challenge as any human 
could possibly be.
He was a tall wiry youth with a mischievous 
sense of humour and a
humourless sense of honour. Sydney Lorrimar Kirkby 
was destined to go through
life exploding ideas and scuttling after them 
over the horizon before
his stunned colleagues realized where 
the smoke was coming from. 

Writer of the week – part one

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We’ve been busy with school projects over the last couple of weeks so this week, I’ve posted an excerpt of Chapter One,  my own work on the biography of Syd Kirkby. I hope you enjoy it.

Chapter one

Gulls tumbled inland over the old harbour buildings, banking and swooping in the south-easterly gusts. At Melbourne’s North Wharf a red ice-breaker slipped its moorings, its foredeck fringed with farewelling limbs. The peevish weather chopped froth-lines into the green surface of Port Phillip Bay and pummelled a small orange single-engine aeroplane circling the ship. The Beaver de Havilland DHC2, piloted by RAAF Squadron Leader Douglas Leckie and Pilot Officer John Seaton, was the largest of the two-plane Australian Antarctic Research Expedition fleet. The pilots and two diesel mechanics were on the first assignment of the newly formed RAAF ANARE Flight Division. Off Point Cook the plane landed on floats and was winched aboard. It was December 1955 and a significant component of journalists and photographers, along with the Minister for External Affairs, gathered with crowds of well-wishers to farewell the Antarctic Expeditioners.

The expeditioners were already coaxing uncooperative packages into awkward spaces. Up in the fo’castle, in the extreme flair of the bow, fourteen men were performing an impromptu conga as they jostled and wriggled into three cabins. Twelve were accommodated in two ten-foot-square rooms. Two height-challenged expeditioners, who had drawn the short straw, were warily re-approaching their converted paint locker in the diminishing hope that their navigational training had gone awry on the pitching ship. Pat Albion who had signed on as a radio operator found that he was obliged to sleep in a birthing position in the triangular space until he was rescued by the onset of sea sickness of such brutality that he risked being ANARE’s first burial at sea. He was transferred to the sick bay, a swap requiring another expeditioner to surrender horizontal repose for the rest of the voyage. The Kista Dan was taking twenty-six men to Mawson Station in East Antarctica where eighteen would stay through the dark winter and return to Australia in fifteen months. Eight others would return with the homecoming 1955 winterers in March.


					

Writer of the Week for Halloween

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This week Aaron, who is in Grade 6, had to write in the style of Gerald Durrell, whose enchanting book My Family and Other Animals has sent me into giggles for years. He had to adapt a scene (p. 9 for people who have the Penguin version) into a mock horror genre (and punctuate properly). I think he did very well indeed.

“You are,” Larry moaned malignantly, “you’re beginning to look like an evil zombiefied Irish washerwoman and your miserable family looks like a series of illustrations from an undead medical encyclopaedia.”

Mother could think of no really crushing reply to this, because she had no brain, so she contented herself with a malevolent glare before retreating once more behind her rock.

“What we need is darkness,” Larry continued, “don’t you agree, Les? Les. Les…”

Leslie unravelled a large quantity of saturated, blood-coated cotton-wool from one olive ear. “What d’you say?” he asked balefully.

“There you are,” mumbled Larry turning to Mother. “It’s become a major operation to hold a stinking conversation with him. I ask you, what a horrible position to be in! One ghastly brother can’t hear what you say and the other one can’t be understood. Really it’s time something atrocious was done.”

“Yes dear?” said Mother vaguely.

“What we all need,” said Larry getting into his stride again, “is murder, mayhem and maybe some vodka.”

“Yes dear. That would be absolutely dreadful,” agreed Mother, not really listening.

“I had a letter, made of rotten intestines cut up and sewn together, from George this morning. He says the cemetery is wonderful. Why don’t we pack and go to the graveyard at midnight?”

“Very well, dear, if you like,” groaned Mother, ominously.

Whereas Larry wasn’t concerned, she was rarely enthusiastic about the devil king striking the cemetery with thunder.