Friday, March 26, 2010

Loss of identity

A writer that I admire ever so much is Tessa Kum. Even in her blog, she is able to turn the most wonderful of phrases. I should be so envious that I hate her guts but instead I just quietly sit in awe, thinking things like “I wish I’d thought of saying it like that.”

In her latest post, Tessa talks about the loss of identity in depression. This struck such a chord with me. In a near-blinding moment of epiphany, I realised that is just what I experienced. With my mental health crumbling, a workplace made it abundantly clear that I was not wanted there. My job was not just taken away from me, I was eventually told that there was no longer even a desk for me to sit at. Never mind repeated medical advice warning my beloved ex-employer against these stunts. Or the workers compensation finding that linked that mental health injury to the workplace. Instead, that Awful Bloody Shithole (those in the know will understand the acronym) repeatedly and wrongfully denied any such link being found. Every single day when I was actually well enough to drag myself into the office, it was knowing that there was nothing for me there any longer yet also knowing that I was well and truly trapped there at the same time.

After years of investing so much of myself into my work, having worked ludicrous hours and weekends that I did not get paid for or even get time in lieu, at a less-senior level that had no business being expected to have to work such hours, I no longer had that identification of myself in the workplace to hold on to.

The great love of my life could neither understand nor cope with the mental jellyfish I had been turned into and it ultimately drove her to taking her own life. So not just one life had been ruined, a second was lost to the world entirely.

This loss of identity to people who desperately need that, is crippling. It cost me everything. And to paraphrase Forrest Gump, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Elizabeth Kostova in conversation - part 2

And here is part two of my interview with author, Elizabeth Kostova

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Time heals all wounds, but it also makes you bloody old

Words help create images. They can pull forth old memories that you had forgotten about. As I began typing this entry, a song by Billy Ocean is playing on a nearby stereo, dating back to when I was 13 and had my heart broken for the first time. For literally years I could not hear that song without remembering how I felt at that time. And it hurt.

It just struck me as Billy O hit the chorus, that it didn't hurt me any longer. Well nor should it - that was 33 frigging years ago. Instead I found myself thinking fondly of that particular girl, wondering briefly how she was etc. Now is probably where I should be saying something about wine or some similar crap but I write enough drivel as it is without resorting to that.

Then my thoughts turned to what does Billy O himself look like now. So I looked him up. OK, it is over 30 years ago but all the same, this made me gasp. Now I suddenly feel ooooolllldddd.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Crimethink anthology

Back in 2008, the Internet Review of Science Fiction ( published an essay of mine, Space Opera Rules; But By Whom? I have not even thought about it for ages but to my surprise I have just received an email asking for permission to include that piece in a forthcoming anthology, Crimethink.

This collection is being put together in support of the work of Doctors Without Borders which I suggest is an excellent cause to support. I was quite happy to support the anthology. It should be available in the near future:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

reflecting on Elizabeth Kostova

I had the distinct pleasure last Friday evening of interviewing Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian and The Swan Thieves in front of an audience. This was a fun experience.

Elizabeth had a lot of interesting things to share with the audience about her novels, her writing process and experiences.

What really stood out for me though was her attitude.

This was a whirlwind trip for Kostova. Having just arrived from the other side of Australia, Kostova had radio interviews during the afternoon in Canberra then off for this evening presentation. She was later telling me that she had to get up at 4:30 the next morning in order to catch the first flight off to Sydney, to then catch a flight to New Zealand where she was giving another presentation that night. With all this happening, she must have been feeling knackered, to put it mildly. Yet Kostova was more than pleasant, answering questions in detail and joining in some gentle unscripted fun.

Afterwards, Kostova uncomplainingly signed a great heap of books for fans and bookstores. Each person seeking an autograph received at least a pleasantry and often a short chat. I could have easily spent another couple of hours chatting books and writing with her.

In my experience, not all authors are that accessible to their public and I think Elizabeth Kostova has set a benchmark that others would do well to try and emulate.

in conversation with Elizabeth Kostova

Part 1 of an interview with Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian and The Swan Thieves -

Monday, March 1, 2010


I’ve just come from the crapper, where I had a nice crap before flushing said crap down the sewer.

Hands up who thinks I’m being rude? Well, me old china plates, you’d be wrong.

Popular urban myth has it that one Thomas Crapper invented the modern toilet or lavatory. That is incorrect. The flush lavatory, properly called the Silent Valveless Water Waste Preventer was patented in 1819 by Albert Giblin who may have been an employee of Crapper’s. And other forms of the toilet with running water had been appearing since the late 18th century. So why is Thomas’s name associated with the toilet?

Crapper’s plumbing business installed a range of toilets with the system proudly bearing the name ‘Crapper’s Valveless Waste Preventer’. These were installed far and wide so it is not surprising that crap and crapper became part of the English language.

There is some debate about whether or not Thomas was responsible for the word crap entering common English usage. However it is apparently indisputable that the word did not appear before his time with the first appearance of the word crap as either a noun or verb not appearing in a dictionary until 1859, when John C. Hotten's A dictionary of modern slang, cant, and vulgar words included the definition: "Crapping case, a privy, or water-closet."

The name of common products entering the English language as common verbs and nouns is not unusual. In Australia for example, we tend to shine our shoes with ‘nugget’ rather than boot polish – Nugget was an old-time brand of boot polish. While there are similar sounding words to crap in other languages which have in their time influenced the evolution of modern English, such as Dutch (krappe), German (krape) and the Old English ‘crappe’, none of those words have any actual relation to defecation or excrement. Consequently, it is a pretty safe bet that in referring to crap, crapping and the crapper, we are merely reflecting the popularity of the device installed by Thomas Crapper and his plumbing business.

Still think I was being rude? Then sod off. :-)

Here endeth the lesson.