Saturday, 19 August 2017

No Theme

Usually, our local writer’s group sets a topic for members to write about for inclusion in our monthly magazine, Scribblings. Although there is no requirement to stick to the theme, some may have felt that there are things they like to write about that are not covered by the themes so we didn’t have one for August. What did I write? Haha, see the piece below.

There will be no theme for next month they said. Oh, my heavens! I was just getting used to being told what to write about and now I have to decide for myself; find my own inspiration! Never mind, I can do it … or can I?

With that thought on my mind I go to bed, but alas not to sleep. What will I write about? What will interest people? What style? Should I give poetry another try?

Toss, turn. At last a thought comes into my head. I lay awake composing a brilliant piece. Do I get up and write down? Of course not. Can I remember it in the morning? No. Oh well, another day and I can give more thought.

Into the shower now and get ready to tackle other chores. As the hot water runs through my hair the nagging question disturbs my ablutions. What if I write about … Yes! That’s it. It could be a humorous piece. My mind mixes and stirs ideas and clever phrases.

It only takes a few minutes before I am sitting in front of the computer ready to document my cleverness. Gone. That clever piece is gone. Probably forever. 

I am uptight and annoyed. Walking one of the dogs usually helps relax and send me into a reverie of sorts. Maybe I’ll get inspiration again.

As I walk I gaze around. Nothing. No inspiration today. Another day gone and still no idea what to write.

Maybe I’ll look through some writing prompts. Nothing appeals or I have no expertise of the topics suggested. Another day gone. If I don’t get onto it soon that dreaded email reminding us for our next contribution will land in the mailbox.

Writers are advised to write about what they know or are passionate about but I’ve done dingoes and dogs a few times. Won’ that be over doing it?

Driving to work I listen to an audio book. It gives me inspiration about style. I can do that! Nope, when I get home it’s gone again.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Extract: For the Love of a Dingo by Berenice Walters and Pamela King

This extract is from the first of the three stories in this book: Dora the Adorable Dingo by Berenice Walters. Edited by Pamela King.


Dora Arrives

“Our very first Dingo arrived, it seemed, by accident. A gentleman wishing to purchase a Cattle Dog pup broached the subject of Dingoes and my efforts to have it recognised officially as native fauna.

He asked me if I would like a female pup, guaranteed pure bred, but no questions asked.

The incredible dream I had nurtured for so long looked like it could at last become a reality. I did not really believe that it could come true until she was actually handed over to me, a little fearful bundle of grey. I had told no one, not even my family. She was from the Barrington Tops region of the NSW tablelands, an area where winters can be very cold.

Dora was about 7 weeks of age when she arrived at our home. She was petrified of humans, and extremely cautious of everything, though she showed interest in the other dogs kennelled here, and they in her.

When I took her in my arms she tried to hide from the world by burying her head under my arm.  As a baby she always did this when approached by strangers.

I first took her into the house and gently put her down on the floor, trying to reassure her continually with my voice. She flew into a dark corner under the lounge, petrified. Talking to her quietly, I gradually put my hand on her and carefully edged her to me. Although frantic with fear she did not attempt to bite though she squealed in alarm and growled.

When the family came home, each was speechless in horror. Then, "Mum! That's a Dingo! We'll all end up in gaol. Get rid of it."

My pup and I just clung together, instinctively knowing that we belonged together; that this was our destiny.

She was covered with a dense, blackish-fawn fur, her face black. She had little or no top coat. Her eyes were dark brown. Her skin was mostly a bluish­pink, the roof of her mouth dark like a Cattle Dog’s, but the mouth as a whole appeared darker, almost blue. The coat near the skin was yellow on top of her back, but on her ribs and belly it was dark blue. Her stifles were longer and more rounded and lay of shoulder more angulated than the Cattle Dog’s. Her frame was well boned, legs strong and feet round and deep padded with strong well-arched nails. She had a dark spot on her tail.

Comparing her to a Cattle Dog pup, their weights were similar, although the Cattle Dog pup’s body was thicker.

The main difference was in the teeth. Her canines in particular were longer and sharper. This has remained a difference. Her eyes were almost black, almond in shape and set obliquely.

Dora Makes Friends

I took Dora out into the dog yards and carefully introduced her to the various Cattle Dogs through the fences. Fortunately, we had a litter of Cattle Dog pups about the same age, both reds and blues, and I was able to carefully integrate Dora into their enclosure. They were immediate friends. I noticed Dora was very careful not to take the initiative but followed the play and joined in.

As the pups got along so well and the Cattle Dog pups seemed to give Dora courage, it was decided to leave them together for the night. On that first night she seemed content in her enclosure shared with a blue pup, Juicy, and a red pup Sun Sally. When the pups were fed, the Cattle Dog pups tucked in and quickly had their fill; it was some weeks before Dora stood and ate a meal. She would eat a little, and then prowl round for a time, then return for a bit more, sometimes vigorously shaking it as if to 'kill' it. This behaviour is not restricted to the Dingo.

When she howled just on dusk and the other dogs joined in. I knew she was settling in, and that she was accepted.

Next morning I was over with the pups early. All was well. As soon as I entered the enclosure I was met by an avalanche of Cattle Dog pups. Dora was enthusiastic but kept slightly back. In the fourteen years we shared together, she never jumped up on me. At all times she treated me with the respect accorded to an alpha person, always approaching me with head and ears slightly lowered, her beautiful deep browns looking into me with love, loyalty and trust.

Up to at least six months of age she was never dominant or aggressive. When other humans approached, she dashed behind the kennel and peered out cautiously, always keeping other pups between herself and the stranger. Eventually she learned to stand her ground, head weaving slowly from side to side, taking in any new smells, and gradually making her way to the fence. After some weeks she would actually go to the fence and allow herself to be touched. I felt she regarded the fence as her protection as she was far less wary when the fence was between her and any stranger.

Dora's movements were more like those of a cat than a dog. She often put me in mind of a lioness. She could start off at an enormous speed, doubling up like a greyhound; head stretched out like an arrow. When she stopped suddenly she curved her body like a cat. Her hooded ears could rotate almost like a radar screen.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Extract: Angel with Drumsticks: The rock that shook the foundations of the Vatican. By Pamela King

This week I’d like to give you a short extract from my first book Angel with Drumsticks. This is how it started.

1. Not just any rock concert

The young men fidgeted behind stage, waiting for the seats to fill and their signal to begin. This was to be the biggest concert yet in their fledgling music careers, and each one was filled with that curious mixture of excitement flavoured with nervousness that comes from such an event. They had practised until they were flawless—their fingers knew every chord change, their voices every harmony, they had been living and sleeping and dreaming this moment for weeks  and they were as ready as they could ever be—yet still the hearts fluttered lightly and breath was occasionally short; they knew that this was an important milestone.

Three bands, all comprising young men, would share the stage, and each take their turn at the songs they had been allotted until the last number, which they would perform together. They had never worked together before—this was the first time they had ever met—and they wondered how their very different and distinctive styles would play out together on stage.

As they waited, they could hear the concert hall filling.

Just over two hours earlier, when their car had pulled up outside the forbidding building designed by 17th Century architect Borromini, the young band members stared at the intimidating building and took a collective deep breath. Angelo dropped his cheek into the palm of his hand. “Well, we are here, I hope everything goes alright”.

It had been a typical Roman spring day.  Aprile dolce dormire is an Italian expression meaning ‘April sweet sleep’. In Rome it is a beautiful mid-spring month, the days are usually fresh, mostly sunny or partly cloudy. It is known as a month for quiet relaxation and great for day trips or short holidays.

Now, as the bands launched into their music—delighting their audience with their new beat, their new style, their new way—the gentle spring air was shattered, the music was so loud it could be heard kilometres away. Even the thunderous Italian traffic with its constant discordant harmony of horns could not be heard in the forecourt of the Oratorium let alone inside the hall itself.

The 2,000-seat auditorium had no pre-booked seating and it was a matter of first in, first served. The organisers had been hopeful of a healthy turnout, but even their most optimistic assessments were shattered when over 10,000 turned up, and around 8,000 were turned away from the doors of the already full hall. Speakers were hastily erected outside for the benefit of these eager young fans, who jostled and crowded on the outside, desperate to hear the sounds of their favourite band.

The national Italian television station, RAI, set up their television cameras to record the occasion and police lines were unable to contain the horde of youngsters who, motivated by this new and vital mystical feeling, had swamped the seats, tables and cornices to insure those few centimetres of space needed to wiggle their limbs.

The boom of the drums and bass sounded like a thunder storm about to hit—and it was.

The 8,000 fans, mostly young people, who couldn’t get into the venue, were intoxicated by the sounds coming from the huge speakers that had been hastily set up so everyone could still hear the music being performed inside.

Inside, the applause was nearly as loud as the music and young girls were screaming with tears running down their faces as they jostled to get a closer glimpse of their new music heroes and, if at all possible, touch them.

As the words and the music drew the crowd in, eager for more, the musicians were both astounded and elated by the adulation and excitement of the crowd.

The young musicians of Angel and the Brains had practiced industriously, perfecting their talent and style. They had already enjoyed some success with their new Italian Beat but this was a phenomenal response to their new style. “At last our music is being received well,” the young Angelo Ferrari thought to himself as they handed over to the next band on the stage, and wished with all his heart that his band were performing more than their allotted four songs.

At 6pm the temperature was still a warm 20 degrees. Inside the Oratorium, the crowd of 2,000 people, RAI’s lighting and the stage lighting added to the intensity of the heat. Inside it was hot, airless and smoke filled, but the audience in their frenzy didn’t seem to notice.

Members of Angel and the Brains had hoped that this concert would go well, and launch their music careers, and it seemed that their hopes and dreams were to be realised this night. They could have no way of knowing that this concert that would see them rocket to the dizzy heights of fame, would also be the cause of their ultimate failure.

What the bands and the fans didn’t know back then in 1966 was that a religious furore would follow this performance, for this was no ordinary rock concert; it was the world’s first rock Mass and the venue for this extraordinary concert was not an ordinary concert hall or outdoor stadium but in fact a Catholic Church—the St. Filippo Neri Oratorium, Sala Borromini in Piazza della Chiesa Nuova 18, Rome.

It would be the first—and last—time that rock music would be heard from within the hallowed walls of a Catholic Church in Rome.

2. How did I get here

On stage at the Mass, while waiting to perform his next song, Angelo pondered his journey to this point. It had been such a brief time since he had decided in 1962 at the age of 14 he wanted to play music and make it his career.

It had begun some years earlier when his mother had interrupted his television watching to announce, “I have arranged for a piano teacher to come once a week so you can learn to play.”

The ten year old had groaned, “Why?”

“Because everyone needs to learn some cultural skill”, she replied. “Don’t groan like that, your sister will also be learning ballet”.

That made Angelo grin as he chuckled to himself, “That will be a big joke!”

Although he complained at first about the lessons, Angelo quickly took to music and when he got bored with repetitive practising of piano scales, he would experiment with different chords and sing along to his own music, writing down songs as he created them.

Angelo’s mother had been a soprano and her father a tenor. She recognised the boy’s talent and passion and once again decided it was time for lessons. She said to him, “Well, if you like to sing you better learn how.”

His father spoke to a well-known singing teacher, hoping he would train his son in voice. “I don’t just take anyone,” the teacher warned. “You had better bring him along so I can hear him,”

Angelo was very nervous but the teacher quickly put him at ease asking gently, “What would you like to sing?”

Un Angelo non sei,” replied Angelo, with nerves fluttering in his stomach. “Do you know it? It is a Little Tony song.”

“Yes, I know it,” smiled the maestro.

Angelo sang while the teacher accompanied him on the piano. When he finished, the teacher turned enthusiastically to Angelo’s father and announced, “I’ll take him, he has a voice!”

In addition to his piano lessons Angelo now started singing lessons once a week.

He was often left alone at home but was never lonely when he had music to play. He enjoyed it and it was an escape for him trying new passes and chords. He often wrote songs down just for his own enjoyment.

As he watched television or listened to the radio he thought to himself, “I can do better than that!” The quiet music rebel inside had started to emerge, showing signs of what was to come.

After taking formal singing lessons for a year and a half and learning keyboard he also tried the bass guitar but decided it was not for him.

Between the ages of 14 and 16 he performed as a solo singer in theatres and as a support artist to bigger name performers in concerts in small towns.

Angelo remembered the first time he was booked to sing by himself.

“I was so nervous. I remember so clearly the variety theatre where I performed for a week alongside other performers including comedians, a juggler, magician and dancers.