Autumn

🍃🍂🍁

Autumn steals in like a quiet

cat, looking for a warm place

to settle. On the mountains

in the copses and through the forests, the trees rustle

amongst themselves, and blush

at her touch. Do the beetles know

of this? I do not know, they talk

to their gods in tongues.

©️2019 K Price

Secrets from the Crime Scene – Unsavoury Delights

This year, I avoided the poetry bashing workshops at the Sydney Writers’ Festival and attended a couple of interesting panel talks, one of which—Secrets from the Crime Scene—I reviewed, and I thought I’d share it here.

Crime, it seems, pays handsomely for crime writers, not necessarily in hard cash but in endless material on the peculiar machinations of the criminal psyche. And mid-morning on this glare-bright winter’s day at the 2015 Sydney Writers’ Festival, The Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf is packed to the raw, high rafters with an eclectic audience, from school-goers to retirees, dying to know more about what the panel facilitator, Tom Wright, refers to as “life as they imagine it might actually be led away from their fairly safe existences”.

Competing with the hiss of the venue’s overworked espresso machine, the conversation nevertheless flows easily amongst the Secrets from the Crime Scene panel: Kate McClymont, Fairfax investigative journalist, known most recently for He Who Must Be Obeid, an exposé on Sydney businessman Eddie Obeid’s corrupt dealings; Sarah Hopkins, criminal lawyer and fiction-crime author, her most recent novel being This Picture of You; and Michael Robotham, Australian journalist turned successful international crime writer, his latest book being Life or Death.

Kate, with her permanently quizzical left eyebrow, is an expert on the depths of Sydney’s criminal undercurrents, from the murderous mentality of organised crime and bikie gangs to the sociopathic undertow of white-collar crime. The audience roars when she says, “One of the things I really love about Sydney’s criminals is they are so stupid”. And vain: one of her regular informants, who was jailed for abducting Terry Falconer (subsequently murdered), whined to her that the actor portraying him in TV’s Underbelly: Badness “makes me look like a gay porn star”.

Michael says his books “tap into everyday fears” and that he often has to tone “down the truth to make it palatable, because people will not believe it in a book of fiction”, even though “truth always, always proves to be stranger”. Tom remarks on the frequent prescience in Michael’s novels as is exemplified by the story Michael tells of The Wreckage, a novel that was based on the idea “that $250billion of drug cartel money was laundered through major western banks, because during the Global Financial Crisis, banks were so short of funds, they waived all money-laundering laws simply to stay afloat”. The novel was reviewed by an incredulous Joe Nocera, financial writer for The New York Times, who said that no major Western bank would launder money for a drug cartel; it simply wouldn’t happen. With a larrikin air of perpetual amusement, Michael says that now every time there’s a factual report of such events, he sends Joe a tweet: “Say it ain’t so, Joe, say it ain’t so”.

Sarah, who has the demeanour of a meditating monk, rather than someone professionally mired in the mess of criminality and the constipated bureaucracy of social institutions, is more serious than the other panellists, but no less interesting. Through her creative writing, she questions who in our society gets to define what a crime is and the fact that, until recently, “criminal law wouldn’t reach its arm into the home” because “a crime, traditionally, has been about transgressions in the public realm”.  As Tom notes, her books are now very much focused on the notion that “the place where your body and mental health is most likely to be at risk is in the home”, an unsettling thought.

In response to a question from the audience, Sarah says she’s never been threatened by a reader, but Michael’s tells of his stalker and many “angry emails” from Americans who objected to this line in an early novel: “something didn’t quite look right, like seeing Bill Gates in board-shorts or George W. Bush in the White House”. And then there is the intrepid Kate, who has had her fair share of legal action and life-threatening phone calls in the middle of the night.

Crime writing—it’s a dangerous but thrilling life.

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Tom Wright, Michael Robotham, Kate McClymont, Sarah Hopkins

Weekly Photo Challenge: Off-Season

 

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Falls Creek is a ski resort in the Victorian Alps, Australia.

In the off-season (i.e. any time that’s not winter) it’s great for mountain-biking, fly-fishing and hiking, as well as high-altitude training for crazy extreme runners and cyclists.

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Accommodation-wise, we’ve stayed at Husky Apartments and QT and can recommend both for couples, particularly if you want to self-cater most of the time.

Although many of the resort facilities are closed outside of the ski season, the local supermarket is open most days, and a few of the restaurants run skeleton staff – in our experience, the staff of Stingray and The Last Hoot do an excellent job.

Off-mountain in the area, afternoon tea at Treats in Tawonga South is a must. Run by a welcoming, energetic team, the café serves a wide variety of meals and cakes. And you can plan a flip at the local gliding club on the same day-trip (perhaps before you’ve eaten :mrgreen: ).

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It’s the perfect place to give the lungs and the brain some fresh air.

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For more entries to the WPC, see The Daily Post.

 

A Sure Sign of Autumn in the Antipodes

On a windless day, a rustle in the plane tree on the verge…

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..hmmm, the frangipani still has some buds and blooms…

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..but the Tibouchina’s showing signs of an imminent purple explosion…

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..and there’s that familiar plop followed by those chatty squawky squeaks…

..which can only mean one thing…

..I know you’re in there…

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Aha!

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And who do you think’s going to clean up your Autumn feasting mess?

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That’s your problem; I’m eating!

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The View from Down Here – Fitness Level Zero

Sludge has been building in my veins and arteries, the accumulation of sitting for weeks on end – working, studying, watching the entire series of ‘Breaking Bad’…

If you don’t start moving, you’ll have a stroke, and die, or worse: and live.

That nagging inner voice kicked me out of bed this morning to tackle what my husband calls the ‘Three Hill Challenge‘ — a 5km route in our neighbourhood, which includes three hills.

Well, that’s hardly a challenge.

I thought I’d do Hill One only today (don’t want to overdo things, after so much sloth) – it looks like this from the bottom.

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I don’t remember it being so steep.

That’s what happens when you don’t exercise – your memory goes.

I prefer the view from the top.

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And on the way down 🙂

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I skipped Hill Two, but Chrissy Hynde and The Pretenders got me up Hill Three – it’s a deceptive but-wait-there’s-more kind of hill.

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I suppose it’s a start.

Have a great weekend, and keep moving. 😀

For more entries to this week’s photo challenge, see The Daily Post.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art

A Moon Mosaic

Moon Mosaic

I meet two girlfriends every few weeks in the city for a quick dinner and a movie. On Wednesday night, the weather was unseasonably warm, so it was wonderful out, and the big-faced moon took my breath away, hanging there in the sky, shining its magic over the water.

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Five wonderful works of art from this week’s WPC:

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring

bb-spr1Of course, spring is nowhere to be seen right now in the Antipodes, so there aren’t any current suitable subjects, unless one thinks outside the spiral. And I’m (supposed to be) in the depths of a brain-clogging university assignment on business ethics, so am not in much of a lateral thinking mode. I took this one back in December at the Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Gardens on the Mornington Peninsula.

Five entries with an alternative take on this week’s WPC:

WPC: Abandoned (Tilly, don’t look!)

Abandoned: the word speaks of the ghosts of things, memories, people, activities, better times, and not a little sadness. A few weeks ago, my husband found this cicada exoskeleton still clinging to our garden fence, after its living contents had taken flight. So perfect in form and function, yet used no more.

Abandoned Cicada Exoskeleton

Abandoned Cicada Exoskeleton

My five favourite interpretations from this week’s WPC:

Puncta Lucis
(Evokes wonderful images of mad-haired, smoking hacks, clacking away to meet their deadlines.)

On Dragonfly Wings with Buttercup Tea
(
Who lived here? Where did they go? Why?)

Chronicles of Illusions
(A star that should have been.)

Picture the Pretty
(The tragic truth of many lives.)

365 Days of Thank You
(Reminds me of my first day of school, around 44 years ago, and the fact that BM tried to kiss me in the sandpit after the parents had left, haha.)