Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Another wall in the way of Baby Boomer Relevance



In this age of selfies and X-factors, spare a thought for the insidious damage that is being done to the development of Australian serious culture. Given that Bob Dylan may have sung ‘…don’t criticize what you can’t understand, your sons and your daughters are beyond your command, your old road is rapidly agin’. Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand…’ should we be bothered? Yes, very bothered indeed.

The reality that is hidden from many in the Australian community, is just how pervasive the myopia of looking back to a ‘golden age’ is in promoting older generations’ inability to engage with the contemporary world. Moronic grumbling about young people is celebrated and published in major daily newspapers such as the Age and the SMH as significant and worthwhile. If you think I am overstating the case, well consider this.

The vanity that is known as elitism pervades the culture to a corrosive extent. Older people have lost the ability to know when something is art, and worthy. Instead, they hang on every word of their preserved conservatives, mouthing broad and unsubstantiated generalities.

Taiwan-born director Ang Lee says that, wait for it, “Kids don’t even read comic books anymore. They’ve got more important things to do – like video games.” If that isn’t selective use of a curmudgeonly out-of-context citations to back up a spurious argument, what is? Then there’s the toe-curling indulgence of those music stars, like the late Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti. He claimed that; “In opera, as with any performing art, to be in great demand and to command high fees you must be good, of course, but you must also be famous.” Oh please! Can you imagine Josh Pyke saying anything so crass?

Or how about this kind of Pavarotti self-centered twaddle: “For me, music making is the most joyful activity possible, the most perfect expression of any emotion.”

The Boomers lap up this kind of self-conscious exhibitionism as a “serious” statement, as they have precious little comparative contemporary comment beyond what is grumbled about at the bar during intermission in one of the recent Ring Cycle performances, or in the staffroom at certain elite private boys schools at lunchtime.

So, who’s at fault? Baby Boomers need do a little more about engaging with contemporary, progressive culture, much of which is building upon the so called ‘high culture’ of the past. Digital technology, multi-platform narratives, higher mathematics references in ‘The Simpsons’, young adult fiction that crosses readership boundaries and adds to the ongoing cultural discourse of the nation. Serious contemporary cultural artifacts that require patience and understanding need to be explained in small words to grumpy, unwilling middle-aged pupils.

In Australia, elitism is the privilege of a few, who then get into Parliament and rip funding from the public education system and universities, while complaining about ‘jingoistic egalitarianism.’ But perhaps this is going too far?  Who should have to appreciate the finesse behind a slam poem by Omar Musa? Or who on earth Sonya Hartnett or Shaun Tan are? As for admitting the value of institutions like the National Institute of Youth Performing Arts, forget it. There are many other examples.

Why this matters is that without a sense of cultural progress, then we will be stuck in the past, with only so-called ‘high cultural markers’ as the cornerstones of our national cultural identity, and of cultural discourse more generally. We won’t be able to really really concentrate or appreciate, for example, Mahler, because we’ll have no familiarity with the musical traditions and skills that have been built upon those very foundations.

The impact this will have on audiences is cause for concern. In the next two decades, the elders or keepers of the cultural treasures will be gone, and it’s completely impossible to conceive that anyone currently under the age of forty will ever have any interest in the cultural life of the country. You know, apart from all those ‘students’ who are currently enrolled in various forms of ‘higher education’ in the ‘arts’ sector.

But then, where are the audiences going to come from if today’s students are stifled in their ability to express and explore their world and culture, other than through exposure only to ‘elite’ artforms? This is already happening. Ticket prices are not the cause, either. It’s most likely to do with outdated attitudes to education among certain elements of the teaching profession who are unable to engage their students outside of a very narrow prism of experience. Clearly in the contemporary world, this is a significant problem.

Sure private schools (like all schools) are potentially important in destroying this damaging ‘elitism’ in cultural discourse. I taught in one, and I taught serious, demanding contemporary literature, right alongside serious, classically demanding literature. Was it elite? Not if I had anything to do with it. But neither did it pander to the lowest common denominator. Like all good literature teachers, I tried to teach my students that context is everything, and that a nuanced observation of contemporary adolescent life, like Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi (or even her more contemporary works, written in the proceeding 20 years, such as The Piper’s Son or On the Jellicoe Road) have as much to offer to an enquiring, critical reader as, say Jane Eyre. Can you compare the two? Absolutely. And you should.

This goes beyond subjective taste. Does Lou Reed compare with Segovia? Well… it’s kind of an odd comparison, but I guess that they might. Both were significant musicians of their eras, both served to act as focal points for the development of their musical disciplines, and if someone more knowledgeable than I were to apply themselves to the task, I’m pretty certain that it would be possible to draw lines of stylistic influence from The Velvet Underground  back to early 20th century guitar virtuosos, such as Segovia. But I could be wrong. It’s certainly not a no brainer. Rather an interesting question, really…

These ‘frozen oldies’ are wedged in narrow cultural doorways of fifty years ago, and are unable to push through into the wider, room of cultural discourse beyond. They suck up smoothies of conservative pap when anyone says anything “pithy” out of an increasing and inevitable sense of their own irrelevance. But ‘pithy’ is a relative term. Listen to Kurt Cobain, who articulated the disaffection of his generation with the elitist ‘cultural worthiness’ continuum espoused by previous generations, and left this “mortal coil” (Shakespeare, in case you haven’t been patronized yet, today) with the following:

“I don’t have the passion any more, and so remember, it’s better to burn out than fade away. Peace, love, empathy.”

Compare the immortal lyrical beauty of John Keats, who also died young and said, “I feel the daisies growing over me.”

Uhm… okay. Aside from the obvious difference in style, both clearly capture the essence of their context (that pesky context thing again) and both therefore have cultural worth. It might be possible to argue that the more allegorical approach taken by Keats to his impending death was reflective of his awareness (owing to his death being slow, by tuberculosis) of his own mortality, whereas the quote from Cobain’s suicide note reflects a stronger sense of finality, and evinces the emotional trauma evident in much of the cultural discourse of the time. Not sure what the point of the comparison was, but there you are…

The ambivalence that certain ‘Elite’ members of the Baby Boomer generation have to any mention of ‘contemporary culture’ is reflected in its suspicion of what appears to be difficult to understand. In this sense, Boomers have opted out of their responsibility to simply broaden their cultural awareness to include both Banksy and Hogarth.

The fear I have, is that cultural elitism will be seen as preferable, even desirable, while damaging and inaccurate generalisations are made about entire demographics, important contemporary cultural works and performers are overlooked and unable to develop careers, and culture fails to progress at all.


Of course, I might be wrong…


(Note to add: Of course I'm aware that, for the most part, the Baby Boomer generation is in no way reflected by the views expressed by Christopher Bantick in his column, and that I've been horribly and deliberately general in this response, but given the flawed premise undermining his piece, I figured it only appropriate to return the favour.)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

So… yeah. Hi.

Remember me?

Tallish guy, glasses, used to hang around here a bit? Yep. That one.

So, as you probably gathered from my last post, about a century ago, it's been a busy year. Real busy. 12 months ago next week, Min and I saw,  fell in love with, and bought a new house (well, technically a rather old house, but new for us). To make life more interesting, we also both started new and very busy jobs. Toby started pre-school (and turned 5 years old last sunday!), I went to Europe for a conference and came back with a buggered ankle caused by falling down the stairs on a train in a most undignified manner, I won a teaching award, finished* The Hunter (which is currently re-titled Tabula Rasa) and sent it off to my agent (still waiting to hear from her on the most recent rewrite). I am also halfway through a NaNoWriMo novel, which is problematic, given that it's now December, and in a week or so we will be leaving for Christmas back in Perth with my gathered family.

There's some other stuff, too, but those are the highlights.

The good news is that, as you may have gathered, I'm actually getting some writing done, again. After a pretty extended period of feeling as though my writing mojo had deserted me, just lately I've been aware of it scratching away at the back door of my brain, begging me to let it in again. So a month or two ago I opened the door, just a crack, and now here we are…

Really it's one of the vagaries of life as a writer - if you want to make a living, chances are that you're going to be pretty busy doing a lot of things that aren't writing, and every single one of them kills off just a little bit of your creative time and energy. Even if you love your job, as I do.

This year, for me, the biggest issue was Course Convening. It's a two year gig, which I'm now halfway through. It means that I get a little bit of teaching relief each week in return for which I do a fairly hefty amount of work: student consultations and course troubleshooting, admission decisions, organising course credits and variations, approving and compliance checking unit outlines, organising staffing for our various units, ensuring moderation processes happen, organising and chairing course advisory committees, ensuring that our units and courses are accredited and compliant with federal standards. Plus lecturing, teaching tutorials, grading and producing research. Phew.

And even though I enjoy most of the work, by the end of the day I'm almost always totally buggered** And that doesn't leave a lot of time for thinking about writing or, for that matter, doing it.

At the start of the year, I tried to block out big chunks of my time - a couple of hours each morning - for writing.

"No phone, no email, no appointments. Just me and my book…" I told myself and anyone else who'd listen.

And, for a while there, it worked quite well. Perhaps a month, or even two.

But, of course, little things began to creep in - the emails began building up, the meeting requests kept coming up on my calendar, lectures needed to be written or revised and, gradually, those precious hours got nibbled away until the concept of 'writing time' was just a dim memory.

So in mid-october, I drew a line under the year, re-allocated my writing time to the start of my days, and started over. And apart from a few little lapses, I'm doing okay. I've added 15,000 words into the next, hopefully final, draft of The Hunter, plus written about 12,000 words of a younger readers novella which I'm thoroughly enjoying.

Plus, of course, all the course convener-y stuff I talked about earlier.

And now I'm back here at Musings from an Outer Spiral Arm.

So, anyway, that's my excuse for being away so long. At least I managed to return before the year was out. Thank you all for your patience. It's nice to be back.

*Agent depending
** who am I kidding? by the start of the day I'm almost always totally buggered

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hiatus

Thanks for visiting...

Owing to the vagaries of life, I'm on something of a lack-of-time-and-energy-induced hiatus from blogging at the moment. I have high hopes of being back regularly a little later on this year, after I get my life back...


Monday, December 31, 2012

Musings on the End of a *Busy* Year

Okay, okay. I know I said that I probably wouldn't be blogging again until sometime in January but, to be honest, the alternative is getting up on the roof to clean out the gutters of the house and, after having spent a couple of hellish hours up there the other day doing some other work, I'm really not at all enthusiastic at the prospect. (Also, I haven't finished my coffee yet...)

So instead, here we are. Time for that traditional 'Year in Review' type post (though, in my case it's more traditional to do it sometime around Feb 25...)

Looking back at 2012, I can't help but notice that I've only managed to put up a grand total of 14 blog posts here, including this one. This is a significant drop on the previous three years, but not without reason.

That reason being simply this: 2012 was completely bloody insane. I can't remember a time in my life when I've been more constantly busy, or exhausted.

But, that said, it's also been a year of highlights, which is far preferable to the alternative.

Said highlights would include:


  • Signing up 'The Hunter' with my new agent Cheryl in NYC (who has since made me do three rewrites across the intervening months. Feedback on the most recent one still pending, but I'm looking forward to it. As I am to writing the next three books in the series*)
  • Getting the 2012 ACLAR conference organised, and then running it (with lots of assistance from lots of lovely people). In a lot of ways, this was probably the professional highlight of my year, even though I didn't blog too much about it. Seeing two years of solid work come together over three seamless days was a really unexpected thrill. Which was followed by...
  • Spending time in Vietnam and Indonesia with various elements of my family. THis last year has been a big one for family type things. Min and Toby and I spent a couple of weeks in Vietnam with her mother, plus my sister and brother in Law, before travelling down to Indonesia for a week with my sister and brother-in-law and their kids, and my parents. And it strikes me how terribly lucky I am to have such a close extended family in both directions. We even managed to all travel together without killing one another...
  • Developing that theme - Vietnam was amazing. I just completely fell in love with the place. Also..
  • Pho. Best. Breakfast. Ever.
  • Back at work, second semester was similarly crazy, but the good kind. I got a good wrap up in my annual review, a teaching award plus an invitation to apply for a national award next year, had lovely classes, worked with great sessional staff, my honours students all did really, really well, and my PhD students hit a few home runs too at various conferences. Plus at the end of it all I got promoted to convener of writing for next year. In the middle of all that...
  • Attending and speaking at the inaugural 'Celebrate Reading' annual conference run by the Literature Centre in Fremantle. This was another complete highlight, not least because it was effectively three days of hanging out with some of my favourite writer people: Jim Roy, Isobelle Carmody, Gary Crew, Matt Ottley, Shaun Tan, Jackie French, Lucy Christopher and Julia Lawrinson. The final session of this conference, which involved all of us on stage telling our favourite 'War Stories', was one of the most side-splittingly funny hours I've ever spent at a writing event.
  • Helping my clever wife get her PhD finished and submitted. In my last post, I referred to this, but didn't go into detail. Suffice to say that it involved three pretty insane days during which Toby more-or-less stayed with his grandmother while Min and I set up camp in her office at ANU. Her thesis is amazing! And I'm not just saying that because I'm her husband. I'll admit that I went into the proof-reading process expecting to find it a bit of a slog (not being an expert in International Law, and all that...) but was blown away by both the central argument, and the weight of support for it. Really amazing. It was also, in it's own odd way, quite a 'fun' couple of nights. You haven't lived until you've scrounged dinner from a law school vending machine at 2330 on a Sunday night.***
  • Finally, just to round out the year, (and as mentioned last post) we got ourselves a new house. All going well (and it is, at the moment, touch wood...) we'll be moving early february**** Which means that I'm spending my summer holiday valiantly attempting to get about 12 months worth of house repairs and renovation done in roughly 3 weeks. Today the skip bin should arrive so that we can start pulling out carpets. Before then, though, I've got to clean those gutters I mentioned earlier. Plus go to the gym.
  • On top of that, there's the random stuff: learning to play Ukelele (which has, in turn, gotten me back into more regular playing of my other instruments) Judging the ACT Chief Minister's Literary award, which meant that I got to read an awful lot of really good writing, hops up to Sydney and down to Melbourne for various academic and masterclass gigs, having an abstract accepted for a big conference in Maastricht next year, plus lots of other stuff that doesn't occur to me right at the moment.
Finally, of course, one of the very big highlights of 2012 was watching my little boy continue to grow, and turn from being a toddler into a boy. And, importantly, moving from Duplo to proper Lego. I've been waiting for that moment for quite some time... 

So, that's been my year. Pretty crazy, absolutely exhausting for the most part, but reward-filled. And 2013 seems to be heading down a similar path. But hopefully with more than 14 blog posts...

Thanks everyone for your patience during this very sporadic year of posts, and do keep popping by. Have a great and safe New Year's!

* Says the man who swore at the completion of the Darklands books that he'd never, ever, EVER sign up to a multi-book narrative ever again**
**Aplogies to Taylor Swift.
***Though the less said about the 33,000 words of footnotes which I individually checked against the bibliography and thesis references, the better...
**** At exactly the same time as I'm starting teaching for the semester, and stepping fully into my new course convener role. Go me.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Just When You Thought I'd Given Up Completely...

Remember January? That halcyon, golden summer last year, when I committed to blogging here every single week during 2012? No? Good. I don't remember it, either.

So it's been a busy* semester. And next year is looking similarly frantic, but there are a lot of good things happening.

Probably the biggest one is that our little family is on the move! Okay, we're not going too far, just across Canberra, but a week or so back we found a lovely house in one of the suburbs that we've always looked at and sighed wistfully. Just for good measure, it was exactly within our (recently much improved) buying capacity. So we bought it. Looked at it for the first time at 2 O'clock on a monday afternoon, put in an offer at around 2.45, and had it accepted just after 3.15. By 5.30 we'd signed up to sell our existing place with the same agent (she's nice. We like her...) and by 6.00 we were sitting on our couch, rather dazed, saying things like 'Well. That was unexpected.' to one another.

Now we're having fun trying to sort out our finance during what is, effectively, the christmas shutdown for most of the financial industry. But it's all looking very positive, anyway...

Other news: My clever wife also submitted her PhD last week. (Yes, you're correct. We did go and buy a new house just 7 days from her submission date. If you're going to put yourself under pressure, you might as well go the whole hog, we figure...) This meant that the two of us spent most of last weekend editing and proofreading furiously. I personally checked every one of just over 33,000 words of footnotes, including thousands of individual references and case citations. Took roughly 16 hours. We finished up at 3.00am monday morning, nipped home for a refreshing 4 hours sleep, then got back to the finishing touches and printing so that Min could hand it over at 2.30. Then we went and had a drink.

So now it's just a horrible wait for the results.

And, come the start of next year, I'll be writing again, too. My plan is to knock out books 2 and 3 of 'The Hunter', hopefully by mid-year. (book 1, in case you're interested, is still with my Agent in New York. Fingers crossed I'll have some news on that front sometime early in the new year...)

After that it'll be time for some academic writing, preparing for a conference I'm off to in Holland next year in August. I'm also editing (and contributing) to an academic book on questions of truth and honesty in Children's and YA literature.

Plus, of course, next year I'm going to get back into blogging more seriously. Really. Proper blogging, too - not just these newsy posts that nobody except my mother has any real interest in.

In the meantime, though, I've got a bit of last minute shopping to do, so I'm going to sign off here. Chances of me signing back on anytime before mid January are pretty small, to be honest (I've got about 18 months worth of house renovations to do in roughly 3 weeks!) so I'm going to thank all my readers for their interminable patience with me this year, and wish everyone a Happy Festive Season - however and whatever you celebrate - and hope you all stay safe.

Cheers. T

*Busy [v / adjbiz─ô: full time teaching load, revising next draft of next book, supervision of 5 Phd and 3 honours students, presenting keynote addresses at 2 conferences, helping wife prepare and submit her PhD thesis, organising and running a birthday party for 15 sugar-loaded 4-year-olds, buying a house, selling a house, grading and moderating roughly 350,000 words worth of student work, marking 2 PhD thesis, running masterclasses in sydney, occasionally exercising, being father to an increasingly-energetic little boy, re-discovering Lego.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Yes, Still Alive...

Two months. A new record, I suspect.

Though in my defense, I've been busy. Very, very busy. And doing some writing, too! In fact, just a few minutes ago, I (finally) shot off draft #5 of 'The Hunter' to my agent Cheryl, and now I've got my fingers (and toes, and...anything else that'll help) very tightly crossed hoping that she likes it.


This last rewrite was a particularly big one, added another 10,000 words in, including two new chapters, plus a *whole lot* of character reworking for the protagonist to try and make him a little more appealing to a broader readership. And I've had to lever that in between the semester-from-hell (only in terms of workload, not students, just to be clear). I'm also frantically reading the entries for the ACT Chief Minister's Literary Award (I'm chairing the judging panel this year), have marked 2 PhD thesis for another uni, and signed a contract to put together an academic-y type book for Cambridge Scholars Press in the UK (which will feature all sorts of cool people and will draw from the ACLAR conference we ran here in Canberra back in June).

Oh, yeah, and we bought a kayak.

I've wanted to get a kayak pretty much since we moved to Canberra. A nice big 2 seater that we could take out on the lakes (of which Canberra has a multitude) or down to the coast for a little sea kayaking. Something we could pack up with a picnic and head out on the water for the day. Something I could just get out in on my own occasionally and paddle, and make bookish plans.

Unfortunately, the fact that our car is a Peugot 307 hatchback, with no roof racks or towbar made the reality of owining a 15 foot boat a little problematic.

Or at least, it did. Until Imogen pointed THESE out to me...

Now, I'll admit, I was a little sceptical at first. I mean, an inflatable kayak couldn't possibly be any good, could it? It'd be just like a big blow up toy that you play with in the swimming pool, surely.

Really not. After a bit of homework (a lot) of homework, we got online and ordered our AE convertible from the US. Then, a week later, three big boxes arrived on the doorstep and, after a couple of practice setups, Toby and I (poor Min, couldn't come. She's got this little PhD due any day now...) went for our first hit out on Lake Gininderra. And it was great! We paddled 7 kilometres, saw all sorts of cool and interesting things, and both decided that we LIKE our boat. It doesn't paddle or feel like a blowup toy at all - once it's inflated, it's rigid and stable, and cuts through the water just like a regular hardshell kayak. It's also received a fair bit of attention and interest from some of the local kayaking fraternity.

Since that first trip, we've been out every weekend. Last Sunday the three of us loaded up and paddled down to the Governor General's place in Yarralumla. She has her own jetty, which I argued was basically an invitation to morning tea, but I was outvoted. Still, it was a lovely couple of hours.

I'm now hatching plans, when I get a bit more paddle-fit, to try to paddle the length of lake Burley-Griffin, and do a kind of 'Canberra from the Water' blog post. Might take a while, though.

So that's what I've been up to. Just the usual, really.

Monday, July 23, 2012

God Canberra is Cold. Anyone else notice that?

This time last week I was on a beach on Bintan Island  in Indonesia. Today (sigh!) I'm back in my office, gradually working my way through a really quite stupid backlog of e-mails* And I can't help noticing that Canberra is a lot, lot colder than both Vietnam and Indonesia.

Still, in many ways, it's nice to be home and back into work**

 In case you're wondering, we had an absolutely lovely time while we were away. And because it is traditional on these occasions I'm pleased to present (Ta Dah!):

TONY'S HOLIDAY PHOTOS!

To start with, here is my son, somewhere on the streets of Hanoi


Min and I have an idea for the producers of 'The Amazing Race' - next season, all teams should have to run the race with a 3 year old in tow. It would make things a lot more interesting for all concerned. As you can tell from the expression on Toby's face, he's not particularly happy in this shot. There were a number of reasons for this. One of them was that as a born and bred Canberran, he's not overly used to 35 degree days with 89% humidity. Another was that he's at the perfect height for having his face and head patted and touched by pretty much every person we met. The Vietnamese are lovely people, and they really loved Toby. Sadly, after a few hours, he began to get just a little, well, tetchy from all the attention.

Still, in actual fact, travelling with a toddler was fantastic, and meltdowns aside, some of the most memorable moments of the whole trip involved Toby. One good example was on our final day in Hanoi, when we emerged into the hotel foyer to find our son, the doorman, the hotel manager and one of the receptionists all on their hands and knees in the foyer, playing with the set of toy cars that the manager had just given Toby as a goodbye present.

Hanoi itself was just wonderful. It had interesting shopping:

Interesting wiring:

And it's monsoon season there at the moment, so every afternoon the clouds would roll over, and the streets would go from chaotic to this:

There was also some amazing food and eating*** and plenty of walking around.

From Hanoi, it was a quick hop down to the ancient city of Hoi An**** where we stayed at a lovely little homestay establishement, just a little out of town. The family running it were incredibly welcoming, and it quickly became our little refuge from the touristy madness of Hoi An.

Hoi An itself is beautiful - just a stunning place, especially at night when the whole town and river is lit by paper lanterns.
Evening in Hoi An
It is, however, very touristy, with more touts and pressure than anywhere else we visited in Vietnam. The biggest industry by far is Tailoring, and we all had some lovely clothes made up, but I couldn't help the feeling that the tourism was something of a double edged sword for the town; as well as becoming the main driver for its survival, it has also really had an impact upon the overall feel of the place.

Still, it is stunning. There's no denying that:
Hoi An Countryside

From Hoi An, we flew down to Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City, as it's officially titled). We only had three days here, and barely scratched the surface of this amazing, growing, cosmopolitan playground. I especially enjoyed just wandering around the city, soaking in the site of so much history. On our second last day, I booked a car and guide to take me out to the Chu Chi Tunnels, where some of the bloodiest and nastiest fighting in the Vietnam war took place. The tunnels themselves were amazing - they've been expanded to fit large western bodies, but I still only managed to get through 40 of the 100 or so meters that are open to tourists. And I've never suffered from claustrophobia in my life. Just as interesting was chatting to my guide (who asked not to be named in any reviews of the trip) about life in modern Vietnam. We talked about the reality of re-unification, the differences between the north and south that still persist to this day, and the long shadow of the war, which still touches most Vietnamese lives in one way or another. It was an insight into the country that I didn't get anywhere else, and one of the most valuable parts of the trip for me.

Then it was on to Indonesia, to meet with my family for a week at Club Med*****

This was my first experience of Club Med. And Min's. And, I hate to say this, it was - in its own way - kinda fun.****** It was particularly good for Toby who got to play with his cousins from Holland for a whole week:


There was a lot of swimming. Kyacking. Eating. More swimming. Archery. Elephant rides. And swimming.

Oh, and there was also a trapeze school:




While we were at Club Med, my brother and sister-in-law, who live in Perth, managed to complete my parent's collection of grandchildren with their first child, a little boy named Kalvin Nicholas, who turned up a month earlier than expected, but in excellent condition. Even though he didn't know it, his birth was big news in northern Indonesia, and was roundly celebrated.

And then, sadly, it was back to reality. And Canberra. We got home last Thursday night, very tired and jetlagged after about 24 hours on planes and in airports. We picked up our very happy puppy from the kennels, reclaimed our very ambivalent chickens from the neighbours, unpacked, washed up and got ready for the working week ahead*******

Which brings us to now, really. In the weeks ahead I'm going to launch back into my writing, knock over the (hopefully) final draft of The Hunter (I'm thinking of changing the title to 'The Hunter Games' - what do you reckon? Catchy?), plus a very busy semester ahead.

And, of course, some blogging. Occasionally ;)


* which is the price you pay for resolutely ignoring your e-mail for 3 weeks while having fun.
** I'm fairly sure that UC monitors this blog :)
***Actually, eating tended to be something of a theme on this trip
****That is, it would have been a quick hop, if not for the 4 hour delay that Jetstar managed to impose on our departure.
*****Please, don't judge me.
******But also kinda like joining a cult for a week.
*******In my case, this involved spending 4 hours making an enormous pot of Vietnamese Pho for breakfasts this week. Pho has become my latest obsession. And, trust me, it's a good obsession to have. 

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