Tuesday 27 September 2011

Gaza gazing.

Me and you and Netanyahu,
What, oh what are we to do?
Say we let the hate abate,
And let them have a separate state?

Me and you, Mahmood Abbas
Help us make it come to pass.
Accept the presence of the Jew,
Most native born, the same as you.


We all hoped for peace for this tortured piece real estate many times and every time we are disappointed.
This poem, first published in Poetry 24 is hopeful but the reality is far from it.
On the radio yesterday, a current affairs program pointed out that the Israeli voting demographic was moving away from the possibility of a sensible solution for the same reason as Palestinians were, ie, large religious families.
Secular Jews, who work, serve in Defence, pay taxes, grow stuff and make things, have an average of two children per couple. Hasidic Jews, who study only the Talmud and other Holy Scripture, are never trained to work, produce children at about eight per couple and increasingly control Government policy. 
Project that ahead a generation and we can see a compelling reason for a solution NOW! 

Pic. stolen from Business Week.  

Monday 26 September 2011

Magpie 84, Numerology 3. Faith, Hope and... whatever happened to Charity?

Why did you cause the rain to fall?
Right now? Dear God, do you recall?
We prayed to thee,
Magpie and me;
“A full moon for the Willow Ball!?”

Pic of bedraggled woman and bird courtesy of Tess at Willow Manor.

An afterthought:
(In the bilge of my steel yacht, while scraping away at corrosion)
“In God we rust”.

Monday 19 September 2011

Magpie joins snake week!

Music in the pit.

A suff’rer of herpetophilia
Kept all sorts of dang’rous reptilia.
For them she would play
On her fife ev’ry day.
Have you ever heard anything sillier!?

This stupidity was prompted by Tess Kincaid at Willow Manor.


Saturday 17 September 2011

Mouse in the House for Bluebell Books.

Here are two of a series of vocabulary extension plays for classroom use.
(Copyright Stafford Ray).

Mouse in the House (furniture and animals).

Manfred/Millicent Mouse
Gertrude Grouch
Gerald Grouch
Ceefer Cat
Deefer Dog
Peter/Patricia Python
Mr/Ms Snake Catcher.

Act 1. Mouse in the house.

Storyteller: Manfred Mouse is playing hide and seek with Ceefer Cat when Gertrude Grouch comes in and sees Manfred. She screams for Gerald Grouch to come and catch the mouse. He doesn’t think a mouse in the house is as serious as Gertrude thinks it is.

He thinks it would be far more serious if there was a rat in the refrigerator. He thinks a good idea to keep the house free of rats and mice would be to have a pet python, so he brings one home.

Scene: a kitchen/dining room with a table and several chairs.
There are cupboards labelled Pantry, Crockery, Sideboard and one labelled Refrigerator.

Action: Manfred Mouse and Ceefer Cat are playing cat and mouse (hide and seek). Manfred enters and hides under the table. Ceefer looks for him.

Manfred  : (runs across the kitchen to hide under the table) You can’t find me! You can’t find me!
Ceefer       : (looking into a cupboard labelled ‘Pantry’) Are you in the pantry?
Manfred  : No, I am not in the pantry!
Ceefer       : (looking into a cupboard labelled ‘Crockery’) Are you in the crockery cupboard?
Manfred  : No, I am not in the crockery cupboard!
Ceefer       : (looking under a cupboard labelled ‘Sideboard’) Are you under the sideboard?
Manfred : No, I am not under the sideboard!
Ceefer       : (looks under the table, sees Manfred) Is that you under the table?
Manfred  : Yes! (Scampers out and holds a chair between himself and Ceefer) You can’t catch me! (Leaves chair, runs off) You can’t catch me!

Manfred, closely pursued by Ceefer runs off as Gertrude enters. Manfred runs past her as she screams in terror but Ceefer collides with her and they both fall down.

Gertrude       : (screams in terror) Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! (calls loudly to Gerald) Gerald! (Ceefer runs into her) Ceefer! Be careful! (still on the floor, calls again to Gerald) Gerald! Come here!
Ceefer    : (scrambling to his feet) I almost had him then! (complains to Gertrude) If you hadn’t been in the way I would have caught him!
Gerald    : (running on) What are you screaming about, Gertrude?
Gertrude       : (stands and points to where Manfred went) There’s a mouse in the house!
Gerald    : (laughing) Ha ha! A mouse! (points at her in fun) Are you afraid of a little mouse! Ha ha ha!
Ceefer    : (complains to Gerald) If she hadn’t been in the way I would have caught him then!
Gerald    : (points to Ceefer) You couldn’t catch a mouse! (laughs) You couldn’t even catch a cold! (points off) get out if here, useless!
Ceefer    :  Meowwwwwww! (leaves unhappily).
Gertrude       : (angrily) Gerald Grouch! (points to Ceefer) There is no need to be disrespectful to my cat!
Gerald    : Disrespectful! (looks at Ceefer retreating) There is nothing to respect! Your cat is as useless as a two legged stool!

Mouse looks around the door cheekily and is seen by Gertrude.

Gertrude       : (pointing at Manfred) Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! There it is!
Gerald           : (looks around but Manfred has gone) I can’t see any mouse. (hands on hips) I think you imagined it!
Gertrude       : (pleading) Please Gerald, please catch the mouse for me.
Gerald           : (shaking his head) You are making a lot of fuss over one little mouse! (points to the refrigerator) What would you say if you found a rat in the refrigerator?
Gertrude       : (worried look) A rat in the refrigerator? (hands on hips) How would a rat get into the refrigerator?
Gerald           : (points to the refrigerator, nodding and smiling) There’s one in there.
Gertrude       : (indignantly) There is not! (she opens the refrigerator door, jumps back and screams) Eeeeeeeeeeeeeee! There is a rat in the refrigerator! (slams the refrigerator door) What is that rat doing in my refrigerator?
Gerald           : (laughs) Ha ha! It’s sleeping!
Gertrude       : (crossly) Don’t be silly Gerald Grouch, I am serious!
Gerald           : (Beckons Peter Python who enters as he speaks) The rat in the refrigerator is food for Peter (leads Peter on stage, arm around Peter’s shoulders) Peter is my pet python!
Gertrude       : (screams again) Eeeeeeee! Snake! (runs off) Eeeeeeeeee! It’s a snake!
Peter              : (watches Gertrude run off, turns to Gerald) What’s wrong with her?
Gerald           : I have no idea! (shakes his head) She is a strange woman!
Peter              : Yes, she is. I can’t imagine why she was so frightened!
Gerald           : Me neither!

They walk off arm in arm.


Act 2. Python in the Pantry.

Storyteller: Gertrude objects to Gerald’s pet python slithering around the house and calls Snake Catcher to take  Peter Python away. 

Gertrude       : (opens the door labelled Pantry, jumps back in fright) Eeeeeeeek! Gerald! That python is in the pantry!
Gerald           : (calls from off) I know! I put it there.
Gertrude       : (angrily) Gerald! I don’t want a python in my pantry!
Gerald           : (enters and pulls Peter from the pantry) Look, it’s only Peter.
Peter              : (smiles and holds arms out to her) Look! It’s only Peter!
Gertrude       : (jump back and cringes in horror) Only Peter? (terrified) Gerald! Peter is an enormous snake!
Gerald           : (pats Peter’s head proudly) Yes he is a very big snake, isn’t he!
Gertrude       : (angrily) Gerald! (stomps out) I’m calling the Snake Catcher to take it away!
Peter              : (sadly) But I like it here!
Gerald           : (strokes his back) Don’t worry buddy, I won’t let them take you away!

Deefer runs on barking at Peter, bites him.

Deefer           : (running on barking) Bark! Bark! Bark! Don’t worry Gerald. I’ll save you from the snake. Bark! Bark!!
Peter              : Help! (jumps into the pantry as Deefer bites him) Owwwwwww!
Gerald           : (pulling Deefer off) Deefer! Let go of my Python! (closes the pantry door with Peter inside)
Deefer           : But, (panting) Huh! Huh! Huh! Bark! Bark! I thought he was going to eat you!
Gerald           : (laughs) Ha ha! Diamond pythons don’t eat people!
Deefer           : (panting happily) Huh huh huh! That’s all right then.
Gerald           : (laughs) They only eat dogs, hahaha!
Deefer           : (terrified yelp) Yow! They eat dogs? (runs off whimpering) Owwwww Owwwwww!
Peter              : (from inside the pantry) Can I come out now?

Gerald opens the pantry door as Gertrude enters with Snake Catcher who is carrying a huge sack.

Gertrude       : (points to Peter) There he is, the big brute!

Gerald slams the door shut on Peter and stands in front of the door to keep Snake Catcher away.

Gerald           : There has been a misunderstanding.
Snake Catcher: (sympathetically) I know pythons are harmless, but (shrugs) if they frighten people and dogs, perhaps they are better off in the zoo.

There is scuffling and thumping sounds, then a squeak from inside the pantry. Thumping continues for some time. They all move back, watching until the noise stops.
Gerald then opens the door and Peter staggers out with a pillow stuffed down his front. Deefer sneaks on and watches from a safe distance.

Gerald           : (horrified) Peter! Poor Peter! (holds Peter  to steady him) What happened to you?
Peter              : (burps, pats stomach) Mouse!
Gertrude       : (amazed) You ate the mouse?
Peter              : Delicious!
Snake Catcher : (taking Peter’s arm to drag him off) Come on Peter, there are lots of nice friendly pythons down at the zoo!
Gertrude       : (grabs Pete’s other arm and drags him away from Snake Catcher) Wait a minute! I think I want to keep him after all!

Peter takes Gertrude and Gerald’s arms and they dance. Deefer takes one look at Peter, yelps and follows Snake Catcher off.


Plays for classroom use are available for purchase. Want to know more? E-mail me.
Age range is from kindies to year 10, many with educational themes and most with music recorded on CD for teaching and performance. Free samples.

Prompt from Bluebell Books, http://bluebellbooks.blogspot.com/2011/09/short-story-slam-week-10-childrens.html

Python pic borrowed from http://www.pitt.edu/~mcs2/herp/python.html.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Aura Dior. A Magpie tale.

Clothes maketh the ghost.

It just shows that we are such prudes,
depicting our Revenant dudes
in white flowing garments
when really, the varmints 
would most likely come back as nudes!

More revenant revelations at Magpie Tales.

Monday 12 September 2011


Yesterday I heard,
‘A 10c can and bottle deposit system would do little to improve recycling.’
Source: Coca Cola -Amatil.

Last week I heard,
‘There is no credible evidence that mobile phones usage raises the risk of brain tumours.’
Source: Eriksson, Nokia etc.

Last month I heard,
‘Coal seam gas fracking was safe and would not harm groundwater.’
Source: Arrow Energy.

A year ago I heard,
‘A price on carbon would cripple the economy.’
Source: ‘Climate change is bunkum” Abbott.

Two years ago I heard,
‘Big miners will cease operations in Australia if their profits are taxed.’
Source: Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

Twenty years ago I heard,
‘Lead in petrol is essential to prevent engine wear.’
Source: GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Nissan, etc.

Thirty years ago I heard,
‘You cannot build brake pads, linings and clutches without asbestos.’
Source: Hardy-Ferodo.

Forty years ago I heard,
‘There is no evidence that tobacco smoking is harmful.’
Source: Philip Morris and British Tobacco.

Fifty years ago I heard,
‘A self abuser very often goes out of his mind and becomes an idiot.’
Source: Lord Baden Powell.

Sixty years ago I heard,
‘Wanking causes blindness.’
Source: Some kids at school.

Saturday 10 September 2011

Poetry Jam

She bought them to bring her some pleasure
But now were too many to measure.
Her hamsters so fecund
Bred more every secund
And now overran the enclosure!

So, out of this terrible mess,
That caused such emotional stress, 
She thought of a plan
To make hamster jam
As a way to relieve the excess.

With hamsters and sugar she toiled
And hundreds of thousands she boiled
So nothing was wasted.
But when it was tasted
‘Twas clear all the jam had been spoiled

So out of the window she threw
Her gallons of hamster jam brew.
But to her surprise
Before her old eyes,
A garden of tulips soon grew!

So lovely and tall they had grown
With colours she rarely had known.
‘But why did they grow
Outside her window?’
She asked her friend Sam on the phone.

She told him her hamster jam plan
And Sam said “It’s no myst'ry, Maam.
I’m sure I’m not wrong,
Like it says in the song;
They’re 'Tulips from Hamster Jam'!”

Tulip photo from the fabulous Keukenhof Gardens in Amsterdam.
Note: The joke is old. Only the setting is new. :-)

Tuesday 6 September 2011

A Parallel Reality.

Tresses enhanced with fine oils from Iran,
Violin turned out of wood from Japan.
Dressed in an outfit of best Chinese silk,
Shoes of fine leather, Canadian elk.

Scores on white paper from Norway and there,
A bow of white strings, from goodness knows where.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, our food interalia,
Wheaties and crumpets from far off Australia.

Opera house sound, so rich and inviting.
Comfortable seats and indirect lighting.
Music and art, the magnificent whole,
Brought here together to nourish the soul.

Photo is of Mairead Nesbitt.

Monday 5 September 2011

Magpie's lost habitat.


The only people
on this earth
who create wealth
are fishermen, farmers
and manufacturers.

The rest of us,
from presidents
to professors,
from bankers to brokers
are hired help.


See more stories of broken dreams and broken hearts at Magpie Tales.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Saturday 3 September 2011

Beyond a joke.

You may remember me posting a picture of a willy wagtail that visits me often, flying in through a hatchway, scolding me for a few minutes, then flying off again to return in a few days for a repeat performance. OK, so we suspect he/she wants a hand out.

But yesterday, I heard his/her scolding voice as I walked onto the wharf and saw her/him perched on a trawler, clearly aiming his/her attention at me. Then, he /she followed me along, flitting from boat to boat, continuing his/her admonitions until I climbed aboard.

I made coffee and was just about to take a sip when lo and behold there she/he was in the saloon, perched on the Captain’s Chair, continuing the tirade!

That is him/her perched on my new beach towel draped over the chair, (keeping out the UV's).

I talked back to him/her assuring her/him that I was sorry if he/she thought I had offended him/her. He/she seemed to listen, then flitted off again, delivering a last blast from the companionway before disappearing!

Now, after due consideration, I have decided it is a she so no more he/she. Why?
The similarity of tone and persistence is too reminiscent of one of my wives who had, over the fifteen years of our marriage crafted nagging into an art form, not to be unconnected... I do believe it is her!

Now I will get all soppy and tell you, that although we separated for good reason, I did love her, cried at her funeral for lost opportunities and only a couple of days ago was reminded by 'My Hero' of happier times which erased some of the many regrets that visit my consciousness in the wee small hours.

Friday 2 September 2011


Her love had been at sea for two years and every day she waited at the water’s edge in her wedding dress and at night took her lantern to guide his ship back to her safe haven.

It seemed he would never come but her vigil continued and her prayers were answered.
“A ship, his ship! I know it is him!” She shouted to the Heavens.
“Only he would forget to lower his sails in an onshore wind!”

Longer short stories to titillate can be found at Bluebell Books.

Thursday 1 September 2011

Stop the world, I want to stay off.

Listening to John Howard on 7.30 Report reminded me of why he was rejected, but also the reasons for his long reign. My impression? He could make a comeback if he wanted the job.

What he had to say about decisiveness was the key. George Bush called him the Man of Iron for good reason and that reason was his willingness to act decisively but basically on intuition. His decisiveness led to our involvement in Iraq, arguably a war crime that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents. A decisive move by the current government to boost our economy during the GFC by subsiding house insulation led, in a roundabout way, to the accidental deaths of four young installers and a general impression the Government is incompetent. The ‘pink batt debacle’ is continually being revived as evidence of bad government but is never compared to the ‘War crime in Iraq’ debacle.  

When asked about Iraq, he restated in his own decisive manner that Iraq was ‘the right decision.’ No argument, no self doubt, no indecisiveness, no discussion. He was not reminded he knew the WMD scare was false, and when talking about refugees, he was not reminded he lied about that to manipulate public opinion. So why do we prefer decisiveness over honesty, thoughtful debate and exploration of options? He knows, as does his acolyte Tony Abbott, that enough of our people so prefer not to be bothered with issues, that we will change our government rather than do the homework. 

Our current government, made up of Labor, Greens and Independents has produced a period of negotiated consensus I think has produced needed reform and balanced policies. But it looks messy and that gives the Opposition plenty to attack and attack they do, with hate signs at rallies, blatant lies in outrageous scare campaigns, personal attacks, dishonest insinuations via the Murdock Press, culminating in one politician saying the Prime Minister is evil and should be shot! In the secrecy of the ballot box our true attitudes are expressed. We are returning to jingoism and intolerance as we scurry away from facing facts.

In this ambience, JH again showed that he is still the Man of Iron, with his attitudes to workers, foreigners, refugees and minor parties unchanged and his rewriting of history still evident in his ‘non-core’ memories.

Related short story.
A Returned Soldiers League President, after a 'few too many' was on the microphone.
"Australia is the best bloody country in the world!" (Shouts of encouragement and sporadic clapping).
Voice from the back; "You've been overseas then have yer mate?!"
The President:
"Nah! Fuck 'em!"

Unrelated story (for now).
This morning’s sobering hot-off-the-press investment advice:  ‘buy coal shares!’ Why? India just announced the construction of 147 new coal fired power stations.  
What do we think climate change denier and Carbon Tax allergic, T Abbott will do with that!? Sigh!