Monthly Archives: January 2012

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Review: We built this country

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Review: We Built this Country We Built This Country – Builders’ Labourers and their Unions, by Humphrey McQueen, Ginninderra Press, Port Adelaide, 2011, 364pp, $30.00 Review by Howard Guille This is the second book of Humphrey McQueen’s research into builders’ … Continue reading

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Lock the Gate

Hi to all who may be about to come to Drew’s talk to the 17 Group on the 1st of February. Here is a text by Drew that might spark some thoughts with which to prepare for the discussion that … Continue reading

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Constitutional reform: assimilation or self determination

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The Australian constitution The constitution is both a source and a limitation of power. It establishes Federal and State legislatures and limits each government to stay in its own yard. It establishes the High Court to decide disputes between bickering … Continue reading

Mystery casts a long shadow

As promised, though delivered a little late, is Tim’s story from Can you believe it… 
You can buy  Can you believe it…  HERE
Happy reading, Cheers, Bernie

THE LONG SHADOW
T.W. Humphries
IN an unknown town, in an unknown field, where cows strolled in the dusk light, an unnamed College campus stood in vacant silence. Out in the middle of no-where this campus existed between reality and fantasy.
A farming community of wealth and respectability, cobbled lanes punctuated by old lamp lights and brown maple trees, dotted the landscape. The regimented beauty of this 19th Century scene was broken by a light film of rain.
Gas-fired heating lit many of the lecturers’ on-campus residences. The warm glow filtered into the sleet-covered street. Shards of light bounced off College Drive. The late autumn air hung with unease. The night fell below a sparkling full moon, sliding between clouds and couching itself in the unsettled evening. 
Amy Bell jogged along the sleet-covered street, catching glimpses of the moon and alpine mountains in the distance. As a nursing student her afternoon tutorials were over. She had quickly slipped into a tracksuit and runners and began doing several laps around the campus. Her blond hair was slicked back and the autumn air sprang from her lungs in intermittent bursts of steam.
She had reached the wall of resistance that encompassed her chest and reinforced the creeping desire to stop and catch a breath. The pain of this moment only made her stretch out in longer, more determined strides. God knows, she needed the exercise after a long day of lectures.
Lady Gaga’s Poker Face was blaring from the iPod and the headphone cables swung beneath her with the determined motions of her body.
The crash-through tactic seemed to be working. She lunged for the finish line outside the woman’s dormitory after taking the up-hill climb from the Ladies Chap
Statuettes of Christ and other Biblical figures dotted the religiously dominated campus. They appeared like gargoyles of distress, especially in the darkness.
Drawing breath and stretching, Amy paused a moment. Climbing to the entrance of the dormitory and turning into the stairwell she was met by the excited figure of Melissa Wright.
‘Can you believe it, I got straight A’s on the biology exam,’ Melissa said smiling with glee.
‘That’s great, congratulations. I still haven’t heard about mine,’ Amy replied, slightly annoyed.
They dallied a moment, and giggled about some gossip that had been going around about one of the male basketball captains.  After saying their goodbyes, Amy climbed the stairs to her dorm room. She quickly grabbed her towel and headed for the shared shower facility on level 2.
The giggling of girls throughout the dormitory was echoing down the hallway as she entered the shower room. Her porcelain skin glistened as she disposed of her clothes and stepped onto the empty shower floor. The communal showers left nothing to the imagination, especially when it was busy. Amy was especially glad it was empty this night.
She disposed of a necklace and began the process of cleaning herself under the steam of the hot shower. Her breasts and torso quivered under the pleasurable spell of relaxation.
A clicking sound emanated from the shower room. It was unlike anything Amy had heard before. Intermittent clicking proceeded for 45 seconds. She didn’t know what it was. Fear began gripping her throat.
‘Hello,’ she said nervously. Silence was the reply.
She washed the hair out of her face. ‘Is anybody there?’ Silence again replied.
The sharp and rapid clicking sound again filled the room. Then stopped. ‘Melissa, this really isn’t a good time for practical jokes,’ Amy said nervously.
The sound stopped and for the moment Amy felt relieved. She began to wash her legs. A shadow emerged into the room. Amy felt the presence. The forcefulness of it was palpable. The intensity of fear grabbed at Amy’s chest and she swung around to a cloaked assailant, who was standing, in black, with black paint slicked across a hockey mask that shrouded the face. Crazed eyes pulsed with the purest evil that Amy had ever felt.
Thrusting his fists, the masked marauder lunged at Amy. She screamed like she had never screamed before. Managing to dart and weave around the cloaked man, she punched and kicked at him and raced back across the shower room into the hallway.
Her feet flew across the carpeted floor. Her breasts bounced to the beat of her crazed run. ‘God no. Oh God no!’ were the only words that escaped her mouth. The fear and stream of tears were growing.
The masked intruder extracted a ninja-style throwing star with poisoned tips. The star sliced through the air and missed the back of Amy’s neck by centimetres. The poisoned dart which followed hit the mark. Amy fell to the ground, dead.
Taking a sharp metal object from his coat pocket, the marauder marked a bloody ‘X’ on the back of Amy’s neck. He picked up her body, hauled it over his back and disappeared into the night.
The next morning, the usually quiet and dignified campus erupted in an explosion of frantic staff, parents and media. Examination of the blood trail out of the dormitory confirmed it was Amy Bell’s. However, with no body, there was no way of confirming if she was dead or alive.
The next night, Melissa Wright was washing up her utensils after dinner, when the TV flashed an update on Amy’s disappearance investigation. The rural community reporters interviewed shocked residents down the road and speculated on possible motivations for such a seemingly random act.
Melissa walked down to the ground-floor shower room to brush her hair. Police had cordoned off the level 2 shower room.
Remembering she had forgotten to check her mailbox down the road for a letter from her parents, Melissa slipped into running shoes and walked the 500 metres to the mailbox just off campus.
The night sky had cleared and the autumn evening delivered a spectacular display of stars. Walking along, Melissa heard a clicking sound. It stopped. Melissa thought it might have been crickets, and continued.
The clicking sound restarted, stopped and started again. It would stop for a moment and start again. Puzzled by the noise, Melissa turned to see the masked marauder, face covered, eyes ablaze and mouth licking with evil delight. ‘NO!’  Melissa cried, running hopelessly away from the figure.
The masked marauder ran her down, produced a dagger and plunged it into Melissa’s back. She fell dead within seconds. The murderer heaved the prize onto his back and traipsed into the night.
The next morning was again a circus on College Drive. Police and media interviewing concerned neighbours dominated the day. No-one had seen anything. They had heard the screams but not seen the assailant. The Houdini act of speed and adroit use of knives and throwing stars complemented the systematic approach of the unknown assailant.
The next evening fell as did the previous two. The vacant silence of College Hall was set against the church spire and gargoyles.
Mary Steinmann was returning from self-defence classes. After an hour of high impact training she felt elated. The adrenalin was wearing off as she approached the lobby of the women’s dormitory.
She quickly darted into the first level library alcove and logged onto a computer to do some catalogue searches for her psychology finals.
Dancing her fingers along the keyboard through the online archives, she saved a few references. The room was otherwise empty and silent. That was until Mary heard a clicking sound. It stopped then started, then stopped again.
She couldn’t make out quite what it was. Perplexed she turned back to the screen. A shadow appeared across the front of her computer screen. Mary was shocked. She felt a presence lunging for her.
She turned in time to see the masked marauder lunging at her with leather-gloved hands. Without a second thought she punched him fair in the face and he fell back onto the floor. The self-defence class knowledge had come naturally.
The assailant stood up and tried reaching for his throwing star. The skilful young woman stopped him in his tracks with a kick in the face. After several punches to the face, his bloodied form fell to the ground unconscious.
Mary smiled and removed the hockey mask, revealing the face of the pastor’s son, Daniel Reed! Mary could not believe it. He was responsible for the murders and she had almost been number 3!
Calling Campus Security, she provoked a new circus. The assailant was placed in a police car and driven away to face the finality of justice.
Constable James Parker sat looking at the angry face of the young man tied down in the back of his police car. The static sounds of his radio blared intermittently.
‘You’re from such a respectable family too,’ Constable Parker said, shaking his head.
Being unable to understand how such a seemingly responsible and well-raised person could turn so bad played on his mind.
Riverview Jail and Psychiatric Hospital came into view and the car pulled into the facility.
The case was now closed and pending trial, but the madness in the young man’s eyes continued to burn. A clap of thunder and lightning streaked through the night. Strapped to a bed in an open ward, young Daniel Reed heard a clicking noise. It stopped, and then started, and then stopped again.
He saw the towering figure of a masked, uniformed man standing over him. Unveiled, the mask revealed Daniel’s next door neighbour Mr Gregory Smith. Mr Smith wore a lab coat that had several frozen fingers in the top pockets, trophies from the spoils of murder.
‘Shhh, Daniel. I want to thank-you for your help,’ Mr Smith said malevolently. Daniel’s muffled screams replied.
Mr Smith had a sharp implement in his hand and made three cruel slashes with it. Daniel Reed’s cries fell silent. Mr Smith smiled, threw the mask into the corner, placed some of the frozen fingers on Daniels bed, took a clip board and disappeared down the hallway. His plan had worked. 


You can buy  Can you believe it…  HERE

1 reason to buy 5 bricks

ONE reader will win an exclusive Bent Banana Books T-Shirt valued at $25 in February. Simply buy a copy of 5 Strong Bricks in the Wall during February and write a review to win.
Just email us at our website when you have written the review and you will be in the running.
Make sure you put your name to the review.
5 Strong Bricks in the Wall only costs $3.29 so the odds are pretty good for you making a healthy profit.
We will post to anywhere in the world and you go not give your address unless you win.
You also have a second chance to win simply by liking this Facebook page.
Check out out links on the right of our www.bentbananabooks.com.au home page to buy 5 Strong Bricks in the Wall.

More info on 5 Strong Bricks in the Wall 

These five illustrated stories from authors of the Moreton Bay region are selected for their powerful engagement with the reader.
Jenna Caitenshas a poignant tale of homeless waif, Sash.  The story is strikingly illustrated by Jenna’s Mum, award-winning artist Michelle Caitens.
Best-selling author Peter Bowler presents a devilishly whimsical tale which will have the reader smiling throughout, unless they burst into gales of laughter.
Jacki Smith provides a haunting tale of troubled love.
For a change of pace, Matthew Munro’s thriller is an adrenalin-pumper, speeding to its eagerly awaited resolution.
Audrey Sanderson’switty account of an anniversary party is an anthem for those determined to grow old disgracefully.




Cheers & Happy Reading,


Bernie

Murder outside the cathedral

Our guest blogger is Timothy Humphries, author of a chilling story in the anthology Can You Believe It…
For supporters of this blog we will provide Tim’s story free on Sunday morning. Queensland, Australia time.
You can buy Can You Believe It HERE
Take it, Timothy, Cheers, Bernie
The story Long Shadowcame about in late March 2011 when I was attending the Manifest Creative Arts Festival at Avondale College, NSW. I’d been visiting the college for two weeks and spent a significant quantity of time researching a possible PHD thesis on Comparative Christian History and weighing up whether I would be able to afford to do such research in an official capacity at a later date.
Towards the end of the trip I decided to take a break from the intensive research and took a few walks around the campus to absorb the visual beauty of the area.
The simplicity and beauty of Church buildings and college facilities fascinated me to the point of wondering what a fictional murder mystery might look like if based in a visually attractive, traditionally conservative and academic setting.
The formation for the characters and plot came to me when I walked from the college grounds to the off campus shop to purchase a paper early one evening.
The sun had gone down and a full moon had come out. I became fascinated by the full moon and imagined the events of the story set against a full-moon rising. 
 Upon completing that walk I spent the next two days writing the first draft of the story and broadened it in several re-drafts.
It is my belief that the story has the potential to be expanded into a full length novel. Whether will be done, will depend on whether I have the time in the coming months.
Hope you enjoy The Long Shadow,
Tim.
You can buy Can You Believe It…HEREand read Tom’s story for free on Sunday.
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Post Invasion Day 2012 – where to?

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“Decolonisation, once viewed as the formal process of handing over the instruments of government, is now recognised as a long-term process involving the bureaucratic, cultural, linguistic and psychological divesting of colonial power” — linda tuhiwai-smith Invasion Day speeches, Brisbane 2012 … Continue reading

Foco Nuevo in February

Welcome to 2012! We’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year, and look forward to seeing you at Foco Nuevo during the year. We’ve been developing a great program for 2012, and we’re starting off with special guests Indigie Femme who are on an Australian tour and local favourites, Yellowbird.

Of course we’ll also have Maggie’s delicious cakes, and welcome back Elena and José with their wonderful Chilean empanadas.

Indigie Femme are one of the most ‘dynamic female indigenous duos’ to hit the music scene. Creative forces merge when the Northern and Southern Hemipheres come together through songs in stories. Tash Terry born and raised on the Navajo Nation and Elena Higgins born in New Zealand of the Maori and Samoan heritage are the powerful musical duo, Indigie Femme.

A twist of world beats lavish the acoustic folk duo who tap into their indigenous roots. Their magical weavings and matrilineal cultures, magnified with their powerful voices, combines thought-provoking, uplifting traditional and original compositions. [website]

Yellowbird is the combined fun of Francesca Lejeune, Pete Lehmann, Tony Moore and Geoff Smith. They’re locally flavoured originals are mellowed by harmonies and ukuleles, combined with various instruments. They sing songs of flooded river systems, parasitic love, circus, and communities of timber and tin.

Jumping Fences: the song-writing partnership of Lachlan Hurse and Sue Monk, play a unique mix of original and Latin American songs, bridging the gap between Australian and World music. Their songs, heard from Brisbane factories to concerts in Havana, have evocative lyrics with compelling vocals and rhythm to match. We’ll be playing with Ross Gwyther on sax and clarinet, Robbie Stewart on lead guitar and Dan Simpson on drums. [website]

Hope to see you there,

Lachlan and Sue

INDIGIE FEMME YELLOW BIRD JUMPING FENCES

Friday February 3, 8.00 p.m.
Kurilpa Hall
174 Boundary StreetWest End
(Next to the West End Library)
$10 / $7 concession
Maggie’s delicious cakes and tea and coffee on sale.
BYO
web www.foconuevo.org.au


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Breaking News – State Election, Invasion Day, Community Worker newspaper, Big Brother at QR?

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Banner shows Invasion Day in Canberra 2012 Election Qld State elections just announced for 24 March 2012 — ALP to lose government, Bligh and Campbell Newman to tear each other apart, perhaps neither to win a seat — Bob Katter … Continue reading

THINNER THAN WATER

Can you believe it…  A year after deadly and devastating floods Queensland is in to day three of a predicted week of continual rain. Here is one story from the Arts Alliance anthology Can you believe it…
Read on,
Bernie.
THINNER THAN WATER
Maurice Hardy
IT had been relentless. Throughout the night constant rain and wind had battered their caravan.
It was now 8am and the Kerren brothers braved the conditions preparing to depart the tourist park as quickly as possible. While Glen and Craig attended to the outside tasks, Craig’s wife Georgie was busily securing the internal items.
As she worked, the extroverted 30-year-old brunette could feel her anger and frustration increasing. She thought of all the wonderful caravanning holidays she and Craig spent with Glen and his wife Jane: wild happy times. The four were so good together. But things were different now; Jane died more than 12 months ago.
It had come as a surprise when Glen invited them to join him and new partner Emma for a three-week trip through the Southern Queensland/ Northern New South Wales coastal hinterland. Despite their initial reservations, they agreed.
It was only day two and Georgie realised the obnoxious acid-tongued Emma was the total opposite to her dear friend Jane. For Glen’s sake she’d kept the peace, but it was against her nature to hold off indefinitely.
‘I’d appreciate a bit of help, if you don’t mind.’
‘I’m doing my nails,’ was Emma’s curt reply. ‘What’s the big hurry anyway?’
‘Oh don’t bother, forget it.’
The door opened and Glen leaned in. He’d been wearing plastic wet-weather gear but still appeared to have received a substantial drenching. ‘If you’re all finished, let’s make a move,’ he said.
Each carrying an umbrella, the two women emerged into the bleak morning and hurried to the 4X4 Land Cruiser.
‘I’ll drive,’ stated Emma, taking the others by surprise.
‘Oh no, sweetheart, not in these conditions,’ replied Glen.
‘I’m driving!’ repeated Emma, more forcefully.
‘Ah well, okay, but please be careful,’ conceded Glen, so submissively it caused Georgie’s fury to return.
Hurrying from reception, Craig was also dismayed to find Emma behind the wheel. He and his wife exchanged savage glares conveying their mutual disapproval.
With a series of violent jerks, Emma turned on to the main road without acknowledging a courteous driver who had stopped to give way to her. Sitting in the back Georgie and Craig were seething as their self-appointed chauffeur ploughed onward through the downpour. The radio forecasts warned of continuing severe weather and the likelihood of major flooding. The uneasy backseat travellers observed the alarming build-up of water in areas adjacent to the roadway.
Approaching a road junction, Emma shocked her passengers by slowing and turning on to a rain-sodden minor track.
For Georgie this was the final straw. ‘What the bloody hell are you doing?’ she demanded.
It was Glen who answered. ‘Just a slight detour; Emma wants to pay her uncle a quick visit to show me where she grew up. It’s a little place called Rosemont; we can re-join the main road further on.’
Georgie was irate. ‘Look Glen, I’m sorry if this offends you, but I’ve had a gutful of Emma and the way you pamper and indulge her every whim. Haven’t you been listening to the warnings? We’re facing a serious weather event. This is no time to be towing a 22-foot van around these goat tracks and visiting obscure relatives, just to please this stupid bitch.’
‘Careful who you’re calling a stupid bitch,’ yelled Emma, before Glen could respond.
‘Look mate, Georgie is right,’ agreed Craig. ‘Let’s turn back to the main drag, head for the coast, then home. This just ain’t working and now with the bloody rain the whole thing’s turning to shit.’
Glen was in a bind. His normal non-confrontational attitude was being tested. A decision was required. ‘How much further Em?’
‘Only about five kilometres. We’re not turning back now.’
‘Please just bear with her till then. I…’ Glen didn’t finish the sentence as Emma slammed the 4WD to a shuddering halt. For 20 metres the road ahead was covered by muddy water, making its depth and flow velocity impossible to determine.
‘Well that’s definitely it,’ declared Craig, but Emma was quick to engage the four-wheel-drive and proceed.
‘Stop! Are you completely crazy? You’ll get us all killed,’ yelled the horrified Georgie.
She was ignored as the vehicle inched onward. On several occasions there was a frightening sidewards movement, compounded by Emma’s overcorrection.
‘It’s getting deeper by the minute,’ exclaimed Craig. ‘For Christ’s sake what the hell are we doing here?’
Eventually, to the relief of the passengers, the Cruiser gained traction and climbed from the dangerous torrent. Pausing briefly, they observed the rapid increase of the water height behind them. To turn back was no longer an option.
‘Nearly there,’ announced Emma. ‘Around the bend, over the river, up the hill and that’s it.’
But the sight confronting them as they turned the corner was horrendous; the river crossing and at least 50 metres either side were engulfed by a raging powerful torrent. Unperturbed, Emma again switched to four-wheel drive and proceeded.
‘No way, not this time. It’s suicide,’ screamed Georgie.
Even Glen had succumbed to the sheer lunacy of continuing. ‘Yair come on Em; stop and let me get us out of here.’
‘Well it didn’t take long did it?’ Emma screeched at him. ‘They’ve gotten to you and you’re too weak to speak up. Glen Kerren, everybody’s friend, ‘Mr Nice Guy’. You make me sick. It was a different story when you wanted to share my bed.’ Her comments were delivered with such vitriol her passengers were stunned.
Craig was first to respond. ‘You’re psycho. Stop the bloody car right now or I’ll wring your bloody neck.’
Glen tried to be the peacemaker. ‘Please everyone, take it easy. This won’t help.’
An alarming increase in water depth and the violent buffeting, exasperated by Emma’s diminishing control, forced the travellers to focus on the moment. Reaching the midway point of the new-born lake the Cruiser and caravan were thrust sideways, slamming heavily into the wooden railing of the bridge.
‘Whatever you do, Em, keep going. We can’t stop now,’ exclaimed Glen, trying to quell the anxiety. Supported by the side railing they were making progress, when suddenly a section collapsed causing the van to skew sideways and become grounded. Now at the mercy of the torrent’s full force, they were going nowhere.
‘Our only option is to release the van,’ declared a frantic Glen.
‘What! That’s a $75,000 custom built caravan. Jesus mate what are you saying?’ replied his stunned brother Craig.
Glen was already half way out the door. ‘The alternative is we lose the lot, including us.’  Craig reluctantly joined his brother.
With the angle of the van, the surging water and driving rain, the task confronting the brothers was challenging. The ever increasing flow made speed imperative. Using the remaining railing as support, Glen unlocked and desperately pounded the towbar attempting to separate the van from the Cruiser. The release came swift and unexpectedly, resulting in solid contact between the steel frame and Glen’s forehead. Both he and the caravan tumbled into the raging floodwaters and were swept away at phenomenal speed.
For Craig it was a surreal moment. The brother he loved and admired was gone.
‘No not like this. It’s so stupid,’ he bellowed, barely noticing Georgie joining him and placing a supporting arm around his back. The water force pressing them against the bridge railing and the ferocious turbulence confirmed any rescue attempt would be futile.
Craig’s concern was now for his wife’s wellbeing.  ‘Quick, get back in car, babe. It’s too dangerous out here.’
In the noisy chaos they had not heard Emma continue to drive ahead. They stared in disbelief as the Cruiser emerged from the floodwaters and paused briefly before speeding away to disappear in the distance.
‘Can you believe it? What the hell do we do now?’ sobbed Georgie. ‘She’s a complete nut case. My mobile, my credit cards, money and handbag are in that damn Cruiser.’
‘Well all my stuff is in the bloody caravan. If we stay against this rail we’ll make it out of here. Come on, babe, keep going. We can do it.’
Being an A-grade hockey player Georgie was serious regarding fitness and health, but she found making progress in these conditions an extremely energy-sapping experience. With Craig behind and using the guard rail as support, she edged forward. The increasing rocking motion of the railing, their lifeline, only served to escalate her anxiety and reinforce the urgency to keep moving. She ignored the buffeting of floating debris until a large brown snake drifted by, causing her to shriek loudly.
‘Hey, it’s okay. Snakes can’t strike when they’re in water,’ reassured Craig.
‘Who told you that? Sounds like bullshit and I sure as hell don’t want to test your theory.’
The laborious struggle continued until Georgie felt an upward slope beneath her feet.
The water was becoming shallower until finally the saturated pair staggered onto roadway and collapsed, exhausted.
Recovering and reflecting on the ordeal, emotions overflowed and they held each other in a tight embrace. Craig was first to speak. ‘We must be within a kilometre of this Rosemont place. Are you okay to continue?’
‘Absolutely. I can’t wait to see Emma again!’
A weather- beaten sign announced they had arrived and were welcomed to Rosemont. The road began a gradual climb and on each side were a scattering of modest old-style houses. In the teeming rain and premature darkness these appeared silent and uninhabited. Around some of the lower-lying dwellings, make-shift levees and sand bags were prominent.
Craig noticed a laneway to his right leading to a stately homestead. On an archway at the lane’s entrance Riley Bros was embossed in gold lettering.
A voice from behind interrupted his thoughts. ‘G’day there. I’m Russ Wilson and this is the wife, Marg.’
Turning, Georgie and Craig saw a middle-aged couple dressed in heavy rain coats.
‘Oh you poor things. You look like drowned rats,’ stated Marg with gentle sincerity. ‘Come with us, we’ll look after you.’
They were led further up the street to a well-lit community centre building. Electricity was obviously down and the building was being supplied by a large generator. To the weary travellers it looked homely and inviting. Once inside the make-shift evacuation centre, Georgie and Craig found the hospitality, afforded by their hosts and other Rosemont residents, reached an almost embarrassing level. They were shown to the shower room, given dry clothing and then served a traditional county meal.
‘Thank you so much. This place is like heaven,’ exclaimed a grateful Georgie.
‘Is there anything we can do to help?’ offered Craig, feeling guilty with all the attention.
‘Nah, fine at the moment,’ replied Russ.
‘Oh, by the way, what’s the story with the big old homestead on the edge of town?’
Craig asked.
‘Belongs to old Don Riley, the richest and most miserable man in the whole district.’ The smallish, roughly shaven grazier let out a laugh. ‘He owns all the land to the west, almost as far as the eye can see. Been in his family for generations. Originally he and his brother ran the farm but Merv died a couple of years ago, so old Don owns the lot now. The tight old bastard would be worth a fortune.’
Marg chided her husband. ‘Come on Russ, that’s no way to speak about the poor fellow; you know he’s on his last legs, totally bedridden and frail. I delivered meals-on-wheels to him yesterday and he looked shocking.’
‘Still doesn’t change what he is,’ snapped Russ.
Craig was concerned. ‘When we were passing I swear I saw dim lights in the windows.’
‘Probably candles. I tried to get him to join us here, but he wouldn’t have a bar of it.
Says his place is just as safe as our Community Centre. Got this old bloke looking after him at the moment and he said something about his niece coming to visit.’
Craig and Georgie exchanged glances. Georgie spoke. ‘Niece? Did he mention her name?’
‘Yair, now let me think…ah Emma…that’s it Emma.’
‘What? That’s the girl we’re looking for,’ exclaimed Craig. ‘Come on, babe, let’s go.’
Russ advised caution. ‘Wait, wear this wet-weather gear and grab a couple of torches.’
‘Thanks Russ. We’ll be back.’
***
SHE paused briefly at the homestead door, before pressing the intercom button. A weak voice answered.
‘Hello is that you, Uncle Don? It’s Emma. You know, little Em, your niece. I got your letter and came as soon as I could.
‘Please come in, Emma,’ was the gasping reply. There was a clunk as the door lock was released. Having grown up here, Emma was familiar with the house and was soon standing beside her uncle’s bed, gazing at the pale feeble form before her. Sitting in a chair opposite was another elderly man. Dressed immaculately in suit and tie the man introduced himself as Charles Overton, Mr Riley’s accountant and long-time friend.
Emma noticed he was holding a large envelope. Her attention returned to her uncle. ‘Are you okay, Uncle Don? You look awf…I mean I didn’t realise…ah don’t worry I’ll look after you now,’ she stuttered, trying to portray genuine concern.
‘Little Em, soon to be the last surviving Riley,’ sighed the old man. ‘Remember the little talk we had when your father died?’
‘Yes of course, Uncle Don.’
‘I gave you a copy of my will. This property, this homestead and my personal fortune all go to you after my death.’
‘Don’t talk about it now uncle. You’re not well.’


The old man continued. ‘That envelope Charles is holding contains my new will. I wanted to tell you face to face about the changes I’ve made.’ Emma’s expression was now bewildered rather than sympathetic. ‘You see, Emma, I have been monitoring your life closely and have been concerned for a long time. Your manipulating deceitful ways, your insincerity, your frequent and inappropriate relationships and, of course, lifestyle choices and substance abuse.’ He paused.
‘What exactly are you trying to say,’ demanded Emma.
‘I have decided you are unworthy to be the caretaker of our family’s heritage.’
‘You stupid old fool, I’m not going to let you ruin my future,’ yelled Emma.
‘I have left everything in a trust to be managed by Charles. The long term plan is to establish a rural retreat here for the benefit of underprivileged children.’
Emma suppressed her rage and turned to Overton. ‘Can I talk to you alone please?’
Don Riley decided it was a waste of time continuing. ‘Go ahead. But you’ll find Charles fully agrees with me.’ Emma was livid as she followed the aging accountant on to the back veranda where a spade lay in the corner.
‘There is nothing you can say to make me change my…’ was all Overton could finish before Emma struck a powerful blow with the spade. The impact to the back of his head was delivered with such force, he died instantly. Dragging the body down the stairs and across a mushy back yard, Emma removed the envelope before pushing her victim down a slope, watching him plunge into the ever-rising water below.
Em was sympathetic.  What a tragedy. Accountant dies after striking his head and falling into floodwaters. She turned her attention to another matter. Now it’s your turn, my dear uncle. She smiled to herself and returned to the house.
‘Is that you Charles?’ called Don Riley. He stared in horror to see his niece enter the room alone. She was soaked and in her hand she held the sodden envelope.
‘Correct me if I’m wrong, Uncle Don, but if this will did not exist and you were to um sadly ah pass away; wouldn’t the original stand?’
‘No…No…help, Charles please,’ pleaded the old man.
Emma grabbed a pillow and forced it over her uncle’s face. ‘He’s not coming I’m afraid.’
***
TO Georgie and Craig, the Riley homestead lane was gloomy and uninviting. Rounding a corner they were relieved to see a vehicle. Although locked it was definitely what they had hoped to find, the Land Cruiser. The flashlight beam revealed Georgie’s belongings on the back floor, apparently untouched.
They climbed the front steps. Craig tried a door and was surprised to find it unlocked. He entered. ‘Hello, hello Mr Riley; Emma, are you here.’
Emma’s heart pounded as she recognised Craig’s voice. She removed the pillow satisfied the old man was not breathing.
How did they get out of that flood?How the hell did they find me? I can’t front them now. They won’t believe a thing I say. Let them find the body. When others come, I’ll have a better chance with the traumatised-niece routine. Where to hide? Yes, of course, the cellar…perfect.
Voices and footsteps were closer as Emma dashed into a back room. Lifting a heavy trapdoor, she stepped down an internal wooden ladder. She pulled the door closed and waited.
‘Over here. Must be Mr Riley,’ yelled Craig, first into the room. ‘I think he’s dead.’ Georgie let out a startled yelp as the old man opened his eyes. He sighed sadly. ‘I was just faking. Little Em…she tried to kill me. Please help me,’ he wept.
‘It’s alright. You’re safe now. We won’t let her near you,’ reassured Georgie, who was affected by the old man’s alarm.
Inside the cellar was eerily dark and silent. As Emma took a step lower on the ladder, she shrieked in horror. Her foot contacted water; deadly, rapidly rising water. Frantically she reached up and grabbed the trapdoor lock handle. She tried to twist open the rusty mechanism but it snapped and came away in her hand. She screamed, but remembered from her childhood experiences, the old cellar was virtually soundproof.
As the water level reached chest height Emma thumped, pounded, punched, scratched
Buy Can you believe it… from Google eBooks and its affiliates. HERE
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Meeting of the 17 Group – Wed 1st February 2012

The first meeting of the 17 Group for the year 2012 will be held in unit 6 at 20 Drury St, West End on Wednesday the 1st of February at 7pm. The speaker will be Drew Hutton, national president of … Continue reading

Music man is a nightmare weaver

Our guest blogger is musician, scriptwriter and story author Maurice Hardy. Maurice explains the genesis of his contribution to the Arts Alliance anthology Can you believe it… Take it away Maurice, Cheers, Bernie


I love creating fictional characters, then weaving a story around them.
This usually involves some kind of crisis or traumatic event.  In Thinner Than Water the main characters face a potentially disastrous flood 
situation which rapidly escalates into a life or death struggle. I try to make dialogue and interaction between them interesting and unpredictable, with the differing personalities displaying their strengths, weaknesses, skills and flaws.
My main characters of Thinner Than Water are.

Emma Riley – Self- centred, greedy and manipulative. Has a secret agenda and will do whatever it takes to achieve her goals.

Craig Kerren – Hard working, loyal and dependable. Would rather use tact and diplomacy, than straight out confrontation. However there is a limit to his patience.

Georgie Kerren (Craig’s wife) – Athletic, sporty and a straight shooter who says what she thinks. Doesn’t suffer fools easily and can be quick tempered if provoked.

After a  terrifying journey our travellers find a rural community desperately trying to save their town from ever-rising flood waters. It is here  where  Emma’s schemes are revealed.

Trust you enjoy my story, Maurice.

BENT BANANA BOOKS will publish Maurice’s story along with its illustration
HERE on Wed morning, Australian time. Rejoin us then.
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The Observer Tree

  Miranda has been sitting in the tree tops for the past month, bring the forest to the world. Find out more about what’s been happening and how you can help in this campaign update. INTERNATIONAL DAY OF ACTION Feb … Continue reading

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PShift: ‘The Swing Riots’

Well Logan was wild We filled him with bile He’d seen the Catholic dodge Plain suicide We’d ascended his powers But not that of the King’s Or the judge down the river’s But we was happy to swing We were … Continue reading

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The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy?

This gallery contains 1 photos.

Editor’s Note: I have included the full article “The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy” by Naomi Wolf below. There has been blind acceptance of such analysis. Nevertheless,  the article by Corey Robin argues Why Naomi Wolf got it … Continue reading

Climate News for Queenslanders: “Capitalism vs. the Climate”

A link to an interesting article in The Nation by Naomi Klein as well as other Climate Change News

Thanks Trevor

1. Naomi Klein on the real Climate Revolution

There is an outstanding essay, entitled Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein that appeared in the 28 November 2011 issue of The Nation (seehttp://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate?page=0,0) and which was posted on 20th December on The Green Pages (http://www.thegreenpages.com.au/news/page/8/). While she focuses on the almost bizarre political scene in the U.S.A. today where politicians hardly dare to mention climate, much of what she says obviously applies to Australia.

Klein argues that acting on climate change really is part of a revolutionary world change- exactly as right-wing politicians fear, but which many climate activists prefer to deny. The quote below sets the scene for her excellent account.

[The success of climate denialists in the U.S.A.]..means that the climate movement needs to have one hell of a comeback. For this to happen, the left is going to have to learn from the right. Denialists gained traction by making climate about economics: action will destroy capitalism, they have claimed, killing jobs and sending prices soaring. But at a time when a growing number of people agree with the protesters at Occupy Wall Street, many of whom argue that capitalism-as-usual is itself the cause of lost jobs and debt slavery, there is a unique opportunity to seize the economic terrain from the right. This would require making a persuasive case that the real solutions to the climate crisis are also our best hope of building a much more enlightened economic systemone that closes deep inequalities, strengthens and transforms the public sphere, generates plentiful, dignified work and radically reins in corporate power. It would also require a shift away from the notion that climate action is just one issue on a laundry list of worthy causes vying for progressive attention. Just as climate denialism has become a core identity issue on the right, utterly entwined with defending current systems of power and wealth, the scientific reality of climate change must, for progressives, occupy a central place in a coherent narrative about the perils of unrestrained greed and the need for real alternatives.

Building such a transformative movement may not be as hard as it first appears. Indeed, if you ask the Heartlanders, climate change makes some kind of left-wing revolution virtually inevitable, which is precisely why they are so determined to deny its reality. Perhaps we should listen to their theories more closelythey might just understand something the left still doesnt get.

Dont miss this outstanding piece (http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate?page=0,0).

2. Methane releases and the end of the world.

Further to yesterdays email reference to methane releases in Siberia (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/vast-methane-plumes-seen-in-arctic-ocean-as-sea-ice-retreats-6276278.html) a new entry titled ‘Much ado about methane’ has been posted to RealClimate.org. at : http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=10412, arguing that CO2 is still the real problem.(Thanks to John Ransley for this information).

3. A.F.P. spying on green activists

The Sydney Morning Herald on 7th January 2012 carried the story that the Resources and Energy Minister, Martin Ferguson, has secretly pushed for increased surveillance by federal police intelligence officers of environmental activists who have been protesting peacefully at coal-fired power stations and coal export facilities. Read more at http://www.smh.com.au/environment/afp-spies-targeting-green-activists-20120106-1pogq.html.

Richard Cassels,

Climate Leadership.

Ph. (Australia) 07 3844 0781.

Mob. (Australia) 0400 601 668.

E: richard@climateleadership.com.au.

Web. http://www.climateleadership.com.au.

Suspense on the Reginald Hill

I only want to add a small footnote to the obituary of crime writer Reginald Hill, whose passing is covered adequately elsewhere http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/jan/13/reginald-hill?intcmp=239
Hill was one of the few popular crime fiction writers to do suspense.
The detective thriller is mostly modelled across the world on the American template, a series of puzzles within the main enigma. The author will make a cryptic statement, explained three or four sentences later. A mystery introduced in chapter 9 will be solved in chapter 10, 11 or 12. This is the structure of the page turner and a profitable one it is.
Hill, most famed for the Dalziel and Pascoe series, liked to mix it up more, accounting for his literary forays into historical novels, adventures, and rural comedies.
He liked to imbue humour, whimsy and sometimes satire, in  Dalziel and Pascoe novels as well as suspense.
Suspense is a different animal to mystery or the puzzle. 
The 20th century doyen of suspense was film maker Alfred Hitchcock. The stratagem of the auteur is to have the villain and the viewer/ reader privy to to the violent plan which is unknown to the intended victim.
Suspense is a wonderful device. The late Reginald Hill, an expert  proponent keeping it alive, we salute you.

Real books are for people who cannot accept reality


eBooks are real: there I have said it.
I thought we would quickly see the end of the absurd term “real books’’ favoured by counter revolutionaries in publishing, literary retail and  media. It seems not.
The homage to the 3D book – I think that is a term we can agree on – the video  The Joy of Books’ has rightly gone viral on You Tube. It approached two million views when I last looked with 28,000 likers and 160 dislikers. I think many of the naysayers were more turned off by the propaganda than perceived lack of quality. At the end of the comes the moral: “There is nothing quite a like a real book.’’
Well, those books in the video appearing on our flat computer screens look much like 3D books, thanks to digital technology. Here’s the rub: this surreptitious attack on digital books is only possible because of digital technology. If the story was told in a 3D book it would never have reached two million readers in a short space of time.
Irony is a much abused word but it is an appropriate description here. Let us vow to poke fun at real books as humour is a good debunker of silliness.
Most real books are fiction with fantasy, romance and the supernatural some of its popular genres. Almost all reality in 3D books is rendered by text which comes from the Latin to weave thoughts. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=textMost reality is comprised of thoughts. Descartes was right: I think therefore I am. Unfortunately the first “I’’ presupposes a human before they start thinking or reading real books. But that quibbling is for the philosophers to worry about. The counter-revolutionary literati know what’s real.
Text in eBooks looks much the same on a flat screen as it does on the flat page of a real book. But there is obviously a difference beyond some book fonts translating better than others to the screen. I created a controlled experiment reading Alice in Wonderland in the 3D book and as an eBook.
I was quite disturbed when the Walrus said, The time has come, my little friends, to talk of other things  Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings / And why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wigs.’’ I knew we had climate change but I had no idea the sea had turned boiling hot. Yet I could not shrink from this disaster which was in a real book. Only when I read the digital version a couple of times did I realise Lewis Carroll made it up to make us laugh.
My adverse experience with a real book aside, I wish the counter-revolutionaries well. I, too, like 3D books and I have four of them sitting near my computer screen. Let’s just have the debate within a circle of sense and sensibility and exclude the nonsense of a real book. Elsewise, we will need to continue to extract fun from it.Can you think of anything else funny about real books?
Cheers
Bernie
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Anti-racist coalition organising meeting

So as you’ve probably heard there’s a racist music festival called the Hammered music festival being organised in Brisbane. A group is trying organise against it. Details of their next meeting are: STOP the Hammered Music Festival in Australia Meeting … Continue reading

Please help the shouter

The Internet can be a weird place.
I came across a heart-felt plea from someone who said they had learned 7 Shouts and could only use two.
I think my book 7 Shouts is a little odd so I will take the following as a review of 7 Shouts.


“In the beginning of the game i learned whirlwind sprint and unrelenting force, I think i learned this at the college. since then ive learned ice form, frost breath, fire breath, and become etheral…i cannot use any of them. Ive killed plenty of dragons and absorbed their souls. I just dont know or just cant remember what to do to be able to use all the other ones…thank you so much for the help”


I do not know what to say other than to hope someone helps the shouter. What did people with weird fetishes do before the Internet?


FREE PREVIEW  of that other weirdness.

Books that are different #1: Move Over James Bond

Vera Murray is a former local government  politician and writers group organiser in a large Indian housing estate.
Murray wrote her first book aged 85 and must be one of the world’s oldest authors to debut an eBook in the shape of Move Over James Bond and Other Stories.
Bent Banana Books has selected Vera’s collection of short stories as one of four eBooks that are different we publish this week.
The first of 33 tales introduce hapless agent Ernest Moneylove who daydreams of being James Bond, as he bungles his way through solving mysteries.
Murray has that rare gift for writing comedy.
She is also a dab hand at pathos shown in the predicament of unwitting drug mule, Belinda, and the surprising story of IRA minnow Patrick.
Murray’s interest in the supernatural is put to comic and sometimes dramatic effect.
Titles promise merriment:  Love is like the Measles, Your mother has to go and Cheeky Charlie meets his match.
Delightful drawings from the  author’s great grandchildren add charm to these wickedly delicious tales.
Preview Vera’s book  for free HERE
If you choose to buy the eBook, please write a review at Google eBooks when you have read it.
Murray’s first novel, a supernatural story is out later this year.

Free Books

Bent Banana Books is offering free copies of our fabulous illustrated   short story  collection Can you believe it in exchange for reviews on  Google eBooks.
The print books worth $25 each have two printing errors since corrected.
They are substantially the same as the eBook.
I am looking for three reviewers from the Northern Hemisphere, three from the Americas and three from the Southern Hemisphere.
To enter all you have to do is visit http://www.bentbananabooks.com.au/and email  your address top right.
The first three replies from each territory will have a copy posted by the fastest possible, thereby costing me an arm and a leg.
Also one reviewer of Can you believe it.. during January will receive a free Vent Banana Books T-shirt. Of course Google Books will not disclose your email address. So when you make a review O would request you send mean email through the website to say you would l;ikme to be conatacted if you win.
Below is my blurb for Can you believe it…
This engaging collection of short stories travels through murder, horror, comedy and the plain bizarre.
Discover the Lazarus Syndrome where death is not forever and find the chilling secrets behind the Infinity Microscope and the Black Book.
Be touched by the bitter-sweet bush tale of Best Matesand share a mother-and-son bond during wartime in Hope – The Potent  Medicine.
Meet the lovable rogue Steele Hill, the hapless would-be James Bond, Ernest Moneylove, and a host of finely drawn characters from the psychotic to the warm and generous.
The stories are illustrated by five Australian artists, including multi award winner Michelle Caitens and Blake Prize finalist Elena Ventura

An Easy Death in Protective Custody – Terrance Daniel Briscoe, 5/1/2012

Hon Paul Raymond Henderson MLA

Dear Chief Minister

Re The death in protective custody in Alice Springs of Terrance Daniel Briscoe, 5/1/2012

It was not an easy death for Terrance Daniel Briscoe, aged 28, early this morning Thursday 5th January 2012 in protective custody at the Alice Springs police lockup.

But for the people of Alice Springs, Terry’s death is as unremarkable as so much of road kill on the Stuart Highway, which cuts through town on it’s way from Adelaide to Darwin. All the respectable folk in town could get pissed to their hearts content at the local pub, and perhaps catch a taxi home, blissfully unaware of the events in the lockup down the road. For Aboriginal people, and for Mr Briscoe in particular it’s the usual story of a casual drink with friends, then being taken into protective custody by police, conflicting reports of a bashing or a fall in custody, no medical care, and a one way trip to the cemetery.

The police say Terry injured his head by falling while in custody and later died of cardiac arrest. He was only 28. Terry’s friends who were arrested with him say they saw five officers bash him.

Wonder we all do how Terry was healthy when arrested, and zipped into a body bag when released.

How and why? How Terry died will no doubt be the matter of much dispute. Will the police be able to collaborate on their stories? Or
if the investigation is to be worth it’s salt are they to be separated and put off duty while the investigation proceeds.

Why didn’t Terry receive any medical attention for his injuries?

And why was Terry arrested at all. Is the Northern Territory zero tolerance policy on public drinking, just a policy for locking up
Aboriginal people? If the intervention is forcing Aboriginal people to migrate off their homelands and come to Alice Springs, that’s not a reason to lock them up in protective custody. And how protective is protective custody? Since the Northern Territory Intervention did away with the Community Development Employment Program, it has reduced the capacity of local Aboriginal communities to support their members in all of their situations and difficulties, including support and help for those who are drunk.

Most of us have been drunk at some stage in our lives, but for Terry it meant being taken into protective custody. I’ve met many indigenous people who literally don’t touch a drop over the last several decades.

The indigenous community has the highest rate of non-drinkers of all the community groups in Australia. Many leave drinking later in life and there is no reason Terry could not have done the same.

If the information that Terry Briscoe was subjected to a bashing is proven, then there is every reason to believe that it has something to do with his subsequent death.

If Terry had been alive 50 years ago men like him would have been the backbone of the Northern Territory economy, and one hundred years ago men like him would have been warriors of their tribes, knowledgable, fit and capable men.

Now Terry has been reduced to another death in protective custody.

Australia is diminished for it.

I ask that your government ensure that Terry’s death is not in vain. A thorough and impartial investigation must be carried out to ensure that the whole truth of the circumstances of his death are investigated and the truth achieved. Any death in custody, especially
given the circumstances here, is to be treated as a homicide unless it is shown to be otherwise. That means that the investigation must proceed with serious intent to get to the truth at all costs.

Terrance was my nephew by marriage.

Daniel Taylor

More Women Needed


We are a long way from our out full list of 75 books by women that every man must read. With our latest inclusion of Tuck Everlasting  by Natalie Babbitt we are only up to 12.
To recap: In May last year Esquire published a list of 75 Books Every Man Should Read. I went through the list in a hurry but I am pretty sure only one was written by a woman, Flannery O’Çonnor and that had “man” in the title, A Good Man Is Hard to Find. 
We need to have 75 books written by women to demand Esquire print the list in May this year.
We still have no noms for  Jane Austen, no Doris Lessingn  no Kate Grenville. Maybe this from V S Naipaul will inspire.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jun/02/vs-naipaul-jane-austen-women-writers
Send in those suggestions.

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“The Promise”

WE NEED YOUR HELP. We urgently need you to write in support of the SBS series “The Promise” I am sure that most of you watched the SBS series “The Promise” shown just before Christmas and found it a refreshing … Continue reading

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On Truth and Falsehood in Syria

Editor’s Note: I re-publish this article by Jeremy Salt here with thanks to Ray for finding it. I would add only a few points to the article. Qatar was the only Arab state that put troops on the ground in … Continue reading