AWAY, AWAY, WHERE ONLY MEMORY CAN FIND YOU… AND PHOTOS…. AND GPS… AND WHEREIS… AND, YOU KNOW, PRETTY MUCH EVERYONE KNOWS.

I don’t know when you started your year, but for me, this is the first weekend of 2016.

For the first time in six years, I’ve actually managed to have some proper holidays, and while New Year’s resolutions are fine and dandy and wonderfully worthwhile things, I’m damned if I’m going to remember what they are when I’m sitting in a Kripsy Kreme at 10 o’clock at night with a vanilla slice doughnut in one hand and a fuck-off-sized banana malt milkshake in the other.

In other news, we spent a week in Melbourne, and yesterday I recorded a 1.7kg gain at my Weight Watchers weigh-in……

Nominally, the trip happened because the kid’s grandparents took them away for a week, but it was really a chance for me to exhibit at my 2nd Lego exhibition, the incredible Brickvention, where something in the region of 26,000 members of the public descended upon the Royal Exhibition Building to view the works of Lego artists from all over the country, for Lyn to catch up with her cousin Sue, and for us both to catch up with our good friend Grant Watson. Plus, you know, Melbourne.

Let’s start with the Lego, shall we?

BRICKVENTION

I’ve been niggling abut getting over to this massive exhibition for a couple of years now. Brickvention 2016 took place at the Royal Exhibition Building, a beautiful old building next to the Victorian Museum. The 2-day exhibition is preceded by an AFOL day: an entire day set aside for seminars, mutual admiration, frenzied discounted-sets buying, fan auctions, lectures, drinking and an enormous game of Dirty Brickster. The day started at 9am. We arrived in Melbourne at 6am. It’s fair to say that working a full day, then going straight to the airport to catch a red-eye flight, then dropping your exhausted wife off in the middle of a strange City by herself while you fuck off for 12 hours of self-indulgent Lego activity is not a practice I’ll replicate next time I do this event.

I have a very loving wife.

The AFOL day itself was a lot of fun. Registration was accompanied by a goodies bag that would be the envy of most of the professional conventions I’ve attended– a backpack stacked with free Lego, including an exhibition-exclusive set designed by Australian AFOL Shannon Sproule; branded high-quality water bottle; exhibitor t-shirt; and a range of vouchers designed to make me feel welcome and pampered. Bloody worked, too. Once I’d picked up my goodies and signed up for some of the ore interesting events, I sahayed into the several-thousand square feet building to admire the astonishing skills of the other builders, and meet my co-exhibitors.

Due to distance, unfamiliarity, and weight restrictions, I was making perhaps the smallest contribution of any exhibitor: a 32×32-stud module towards a Micropolis collaborative build. Micropolis refers to a tiny-scale modular City built collaboratively by any number of contributors: the Brickvention version contained contributions from Queensland, South Australia and Victoria as well as my spaceport-in-a-backpack. I placed my little offering at the edge of the city, met and chinwagged with Cherie and Shaun Patrick, Queenslanders who had made the journey down to be a part of the build, then spent the rest of the day wandering around in my own little world, taking photos, going back again and again to the commercial stalls for just one more custom-printed block or baseplate, and generally geeking out like a geeky little geeker geek.

After meeting Luscious for dinner, we both trooped back to the hall to show Lyn the much-more-impressive-than-her-husband’s works on display and to finish the night off with Dirty Brickster, a round-table game that involves unwrapping mystery Lego packages and then madly stealing them off each other while the rest of the crowd hoots and hollers in mock outrage. Having picked up a sweet submarine set at 20% off earlier in the day, I set my eyes on a duplicate that was unwrapped late in the game, and came away with it in a state of high glee, the calls of ‘Dirty Brickster’ loud in my ears as I casually swiped it from the person who’d swiped it from the person who’d swiped it from the person who unwrapped it. Stolen three times, the set was officially out of the game and under my chair: a great part pack of colourful elements that will find their way into a spaceship MOC very soon.

Saturday and Sunday were spent behind our display table, answering questions and chatting to the unending stream of visitors who attended the public exhibition, bar a couple of hours on Saturday when I snuck out to join Luscious at the National Gallery’s Hamer Hall to see visiting naturalist Steve Backshall on stage, a pre-paid performance that was a much-anticipated highlight of the trip. And then, after three days of full Lego immersion, it was all over, and I said goodbye to new friends like Damien Saunders and Paulius Stepanius, and old ones like Sue Ann Barber, and headed out into the night for four days in the supposed cultural capital of Australia with Lyn.

Before that, though, we’re going to need a gallery:

Brickvention! After 7 hours on a plane, a 45 minute walk from the hotel, and 27 hours since any form of sleep, I make it!
The Royal Exhibition Building is a modest, understated little thing…
Modest. Understated.
It’s hard to decide what the design brief for the lights were, but ‘giant, fuck-off’ seems to have been mentioned… 
40 feet above our heads, someone has folk-arted flowers on the ceiling. Which begs the question: who even decides to haul a Nanna that high, and how do they do it?
My modest little contribution joins the table.
The full Micropolis display, with my module on the right side. 7 contributors from WA, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria, including Sue Ann Barber, Cherie and Shaun Patrick, and Tim Burdon.
Every exhibitor received a brick-built badge consisting of 1×6 bricks with their name and the exhibition year engraved upon them. Here, AFOL Tim Matheson models a multi-year badge that might just have taken the whole concept over the edge……
Scottish builder and author Warren Elsmore takes us through his work.
Dirty brickster…. dirty brickster……
So many displays, even a dedicated NoLSO (Non-Lego Significant Other) like Luscious can find one she wants to be seen with.
A mildly popular event……
And what of the displays themselves? Here is a small (and I mean small) selection of what was on display. Where I know the name of the artist I’ve denoted it, but nonetheless, mad skills abound. 
Even in brick form, the Lancaster is a thing of beauty.

Ryan McNaught’s Titanic. An absolute behemoth about 6 feet high and eight long, with unbelievable detail and narrative moment in every inch. 

He also contributed this. I’m sure he processes tax forms or something equally boring in his spare time…

As if that wasn’t enough, Ryan also undertook a live ‘mystery build’ with patrons over the two days, creating these life-size, wearable and sittable, versions of the classic 886 space set. Talented sod.
Audrey, by Tim Burdon.
A classic space diorama by Donna Mee and family, from Tasmania, that had me drooling in nostalgia lust.

 

SHIP is an acronym that stands for Seriously Heavy Investment in Parts. Any questions?
God, I love spacecraft. 

Classic Space SHIP. I actually heard my inner ten year old squee.

More airborne beauty.

M-Tron. A space series that arrived after I had moved on from my childhood collecting. That colour scheme is insane.
Greebling: the addition of small detail designed to give texture and visual interest. Got it?

 And what of Melbourne itself? Well, that will need a part two, tomorrow.

OFF INTO THE WILD BLUE… THEN GREY… THEN SNOWING… THEN BLUE AGAIN…. THEN HURRICANES…. WTF, MELBOURNE? YONDER

So, here we are, sitting in the airport, waiting to board. The mail’s been put on hold, the out-of-office message is programmed into the email account, Blakey-boy has taken up his house-sitting position with our fridge and our remote controls and the pin for the adult channel….

Off to Melbourne for a week. I’ll be lurking about Brickvention for the weekend (many, many pictures to follow) while Luscious rests her foot and catches up with family and clothes shopping, then we’ll be swanning around for the rest of the week spending egregious amounts of holiday cash on restaurants and theatre shows– the Midsumma Gay and Lesbian Festival Leopold and Loeb bio musical tickets have already been booked– and generally being windswept and interested.

See you when I get back.

IF THIS POST IS LATE IT’S BECAUSE I’M STILL ON BALI TIME

You’ll have to forgive me if I seem distracted: two weeks ago I was standing at the bottom of a forty-foot gorge, having clambered a hundred feet upstream to stand at the base of a fifty-foot high waterfall, halfway up a mountain in the middle of an Indonesian island.

By which I mean, I was in Bali.

Let’s be honest: when Luscious organised the trip with her brother and sister-in-law, I was on the ‘un’ side of enthused. Nothing I’d heard about the island made me want to go there– everything pointed to a filthy third-world shopping mall fit only for drunken AFL end of season piss-ups and surfer dope-a-thons with bonus dysentery and bombings to deal with assuming you didn’t get picked up for not noticing the baggage handlers’ dope stash in your carry-on.

Turns out that’s just Kuta. And I’m happy to admit just how wrong my preconceptions were, because we found a whole lot to love.

For a start, we managed to avoid the plastic beer-haus atmosphere of Kuta by staying at a villa just outside of Seminyak, rural enough that there were multitudinous rice paddies dotted in between the buildings. As our driver explained, the Balinese grow three types of rice for different purposes– white for eating, red for ritual meals, and black for religious festivities– so a significant percentage of the rural environment is held over for growing the crop, something we saw in spades on our next-to-final day when we took a trip up-country to the Old Balinese Kingdom capital of Pejeng to view the National Archaeological Museum.

Before that though, there was a stunning range of experiences: the traditional Aussie-in-Bali market shopping, including a visit to a series of stalls run by a family who lived side by side with their stalls inside an old unused temple; a roadside fish pedicure, with Luscious, Master 10 and I sitting on a bench with our feet inside a whacking great fish tank having our peds nibbled by a swarm of teensy tiny catfish; a hand-in-hand walk along a shell beach with Luscious (I’m a softie. Sue me); the trip up-country through the artist’s enclaves at Ubud to view the Museum; a day spent screaming and laughing at the utterly insane Waterbom Waterpark; and to wrap it all up we spent the final night of our stay on a night safari at the Bali Safari and Marine Park, where tigers with heads wider then my shoulders climbed the caged truck in which we stood to feed less than 6 inches from my face.

By the time we stumbled, exhausted and sunburned, onto the plane home, the Battchilder had already started a list of things we’ll be doing when we return. I’ve got one of my own.

The view from the entrance to our villa. Staying away from the plastic FcknOZYEAH! facade of Kuta was the best thing we could have done. It gave us a chance to explore some genuine– or at least, genuine-looking– culture without getting caught up in the ugly shopping mall/beer hall environment that was my impression of Bali, and which finds its full expression in Kuta. Lyn’s brother and sister-in-law found the villas, and they were an inspired choice: close enough to town to provide access to cafes and shops, but far enough away that we could experience a side of Bali closer to real than I expected.
The common kitchen area inside the villa, just around from the pool and air-conditioned, semi-detached bedrooms. It was hell, I tells ‘ee, hell!

Breakfast, round one. Every morning, a fresh platter of fruit to begin the day. It sounds like a simple thing, but we were so enamoured of it that we’ve brought the habit home with us, and it gives us a huge life each morning. Of course, the $6-each-in-Australia dragonfruit have gone by the wayside, dammit…

The ruins of a beach side temple, ten minutes walk along from the ultra-Western hotel restaurant we ate at one day. I’ve a fascination for abandoned, ruined buildings such as this. There’s such a forlorn beauty about them, such an air of quiet despair. It speaks to something inside me. Also, I totally nailed the photo, which is a rarity in itself. 
Master 10 and Miss 13 go the full Aussie-in-Bali native route: hair braiding and pedicures all round. The girls were particularly taken with the idea that a boy would get the full set, but that’s what Master 10 does– break down perceptions and bring delight. 
Another view of the hair braiding, included purely because it amuses me to see the girls having to stand on the couch to reach the top of Miss 13’s head 🙂
Anyone looking at my hard drive would think I was obsessed with Balinese traffic. Because I was. I spent shot after shot trying to get the perfect image of the slow-motion insanity. This comes close. More often than not, a two-lane road would host three to four vehicles on each side, plus a complete mosquito fleet of a dozen or so scooters: all moving in harmony, all in synchronised motion, no accidents, everyone just flowing along at 30 kilometres an hour ignoring any sense of road rules or logic. Balinese traffic is the perfect democracy. Decided by, educated by, and policed by the people themselves. It’s balletic, and I loved it. Also, check out the statue: can they do a fucking roundabout or what?
Fish pedicure. Tiny little catfish nibbling away at your feet for half an hour, while all you can do is sit on a bench with your feet dangling in the water and watch the world go by. You simply must try it. 

Master 10 gets his first nibble. This is what the trip was all about for me: that sense of joy, and discovery, in the arms of my family. 

Also: my wife’s an utter babe. A babe at an horrendous, FcknOZ bar that specialised in misogyny, sexual crassness, and a view of Australians that does us no credit at all. But it was good for a laugh, until we realised our kids can read the ‘specials’ board as well as we can, and it became time to get out and shop.
But the point is: Wife. Babe. Mine.

We spent one day hitting the market trail, because we wanted to do the traditional Oz-in-Bali shopping thing. This was my highlight: a set of stalls inside the owner’s house inside an abandoned temple. Magnificent buildings piled on top of each other so that I lost all interest in cheap wallets and board shorts and simply wandered from corner to corner marvelling at the statues and the beauty of the architecture. It was Bali in a nutshell: once you picked away at whatever thin veneer of tourist accommodation faced you, you found unlimited beauty and tradition. That was the Bali I wanted, and I found it in abundance.

Another view. This is someone’s house. Their stall inside their house

An hour from Seminyak, past Ubud, we discovered the village of Pejeng, which just happened to be the capital of the Old Balinese Kingdom, and which is now the site of the National Archaeology museum. It’s not very big, and there are few exhibits beyond a collection of Chinese, British and Indian crockery that hints at trade links with mainland Asia and Europe going back to the 9th Century, but it’s worth it for the architecture– again– and these magnificent stone sarcophagi displayed in the gardens. 

Faced with such history, what’s a fat man to do but strike a Man of Destiny pose and hope his shorts don’t fall off?

On our last night we visited the Safari and Marine Park, and took in a night safari. On a night filled with highlights, having a tiger with a head wider then my shoulders eating a hunk of meat less than  inches directly above my face will go down as unforgettable. Damn the wobbling truck: I have no good photos. This is the best. There’s something awe-inspiring about being so close to so much raw, natural power. How anyone could want to hunt animals is beyond me. We cannot allow such beauty to leave the world.
Balinese dancers play with fire in a dance show that incorporated stilt-animals, shield dancing sword fights, and a magnificent, booming drum performance. It was a show my children will remember their whole lives, and was a perfect way to finish our time on the island.

And here they are: the falls I’ve failed to get out of my system. halfway up a mountain in the centre of the island, at the bottom of a forty foot ravine, with a hundred feet of stream and rock to traverse to stand at their base. Unspoiled (or, at least, as unspoiled as possible) natural beauty; the very definition of ‘far from the madding crowd. Luscious, Master 10 and I climbed down, and Master 10 and I made our way to the foot of the falls, where we simply stood and marvelled at the sheer wonder of it all. For a moment, I recovered a sense of peace.

If there is one picture I had to point to in order to define our time in Bali, it is this one. Master 10, all four feet nothing of him, at the base of a fifty foot waterfall deep in the heart of the island, far from the traffic and the markets and the noise and the people. A tin adventurer stunned into a moment’s immobility by a sense of wonder at the natural world around him, dwarfed by all the physical aspects of his environment but with his mind and soul expanding with every moment. 
We left Bali with an overwhelming urge to return. There is so much we haven’t seen, such a deep culture we’ve barely scratched. We came armed with half a dozen Indonesian phrases, hoping they would see us through, only to discover the Balinese language itself and the delight shown by the people when we spoke the two or three phrases we picked up– and what does it say about our culture of tourism that native peoples should be delighted when we learn just a few simple words in their language? 

THIS MAY BE THE LAST THING I EVER WRITE, SO I BETTER MAKE IT A GOOD ONE

Holy Meatballs Mother of Brian, do I ever need this break.

You don’t need to have read too much of this blog in 2015– indeed, there hasn’t been very much of it to read– to know that I’ve felt under the hammer, and pretty much squashed by the hammer, for most of the year to date. Things just haven’t let up for the last 3 months, and between work, editing, family life, moving into a new house, and all the other million and one bits and bobs that strike you in the face as you walk through the days, I’ve become increasingly stressed, and increasingly fragile. Thankfully, I’m beginning to emerge from it, but there are still a few lingering weights, and I need some time out from underneath them.

Edits of Magrit are progressing at what might kindly be called Hella pace: I’ve been over the manuscript 3 times in the last 2 months at the behest of my editor, and I’m reliably informed that there’s only one more before the book will be ready to go to the typesetter. It’s due to be published in early 2016: come to the launch and I’ll happily underline for you the one line remaining from the original manuscript…..

Yeah, it’s a much better book, but we both know you only come here for the comedy kvetching.

I’ve also, out of the insanity of my heart, committed to a new artistic enterprise: namely, building an enormous diorama for a public Lego display in October called, wait for it, Bricktober! The concept is fabulous, if I do say so myself– a shuttle dropping crowds off on a moon surface to visit a shrine to the Unknown Spaceman. Only downside is, the shuttle itself is approximately 4 times bigger than anything I’ve ever built before, never mind the actual shrine. It’s going to look great…… assuming I finish it…… assuming I have the skills…… assuming I haven’t bitten off way more than I can chew……

Yeah, I’m not afraid to admit it: I may have been the
teeeeeeeeensiest bit over-ambitious……

This isn’t even mentioning work, which is, you know, work.

Which is why the next six days are necessary. Because tomorrow, we fly out to Bali for the first time, armed with instructions on how to navigate the Waterbom water park, and which shops in Discovery Mall are best for teenage girl clothes shopping, and when best to take the Night Safari (hint: at night), and me insisting all the while that I want to go to the Archaeology Museum, dammit! and sketchbooks and notepads, and camera, and damned if I don’t intend to come back sun-browned, exhausted, refreshed, recharged, and with enough material to get me writing again and not stopping until the Christmas holidays because fuck it, I’m sick of where I am and who I’ve become and it’s time to get back to getting on with it.

Also, Luscious has never flown overseas, Master 10 was Master 3 Months the last time we flew anywhere for a family holiday, and it’s bloody well time.

I’ve got a Thumbnail Thursday and Fetish Friday posts booked in the interim, but as far as live words go, this is me over and out for the interim. I shall return, with photos, in April.

CON REPORT: BATTCON 13

It was a good weekend, so it was: three days alone in Margaret River with the delectable Luscious Lyn, with no plans beyond writing, enjoying the view, and sampling the local produce. Having been excluded from recent Eastern states conventions by dint of skintness, we decided to dub the whole thing Battcon, and act like we were at a convention of our own.

Which, from my experiences, usually involves getting pissed as a weasel, facing fan abuse because I don’t like the same shows they do, and buying a metric fuckload of books I’d never find in the shops.

So, in the best Con tradition, here’s my Battcon Con report, with pictures.

FRIDAY

Had the good luck to share a drive down to the Con hotel with the guest of honour, involving some fantastic conversation and only slightly dodgy music choices. Arrived at the hotel at just after 7. The opening ceremony was brief, but took in all the best Con traditions.

Battcon opening ceremony. By ‘opening’, I obviously mean the first bottle.

After a light dinner….

…. we wandered down to the video room and perused the roster for the video stream.

Settled on a comedy entitled Exeter: Space Douche, and spent the evening laughing at a time when Science Fiction was unabashedly misogynistic and racist. Unlike now, thank goodness.

SATURDAY

Decided to take in breakfast at the Margaret River Bakery, based on fifteen-year old memories and recommendations from friends. Escaped injury when a jumble sale exploded during the meal.

After a quick visit to the Con Art Show, which was sponsored this year by the Margaret River Art Hater’s Association….

…we popped down to the Dealer’s Room…

…where we browsed shelves filled with the finest Australian authors, including such well known Aussies as Tim Winton, Tim Winton, and, uh, Joe Abercrombie.

 Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Ummmm!

After that, it was down to work. My goal for the weekend was to finish Disciple of the Torrent, an 8000 word story I had promised to deliver by a week after Battcon, and which I had written to the tune of 350-odd rocking words. 3500 words later, the day was pronounced a success.

I can’t remember if these were taken Saturday or Sunday, but I present them as proof that work was completed. By Lyn, obviously. me, you’ll have to take on trust.

After recovering from an exhausting spa session with a quick walk on the beach, we headed out to the nearby Con bar for Happy Hour drinks and dinner.

This is a French martini. It’s made by combining vodka and raspberry liqueur with pineapple juice and topping it off with a twist of lemon peel.

This is a second French martini.

This is a third.

This is a fifth. Somewhere in there was a fourth, but frankly, you should be impressed that I was even capable of holding a camera at this point, never mind counting to five.

After dinner, it was back to the hotel room, and a chance to watch a nature documentary for research purposes.

SUNDAY

After breakfast it was back to the dealer’s room, this time to scope out the merch!

After filling up on essential con items like souvenirs, choc-coated licorice, chili-chocolate peanut brittle and more chocolate, it was back to the room and back to work.

Another 4500 words, and bugger me, but Disciple of the Torrent was declared closed! Following a hard-driving and keenly contested intellectual debate entitled “Which end of the spa do you want?”, we ordered some room service– in best Con tradition, some of the worst fucking food we’ve ever eaten– and took a moment to gloat over the Con swag we had assembled:

Booty!

Then, with only a million billion trillion bottles of wine to console us, we once more delved into the best SF has to offer via the video stream.

MONDAY

Alas, it was time to leave the Con behind and trundle back to the world of children, day jobs, and fucking day jobs. But not before we dropped into the winery just down the road from the Con hotel.

And the one just out of town. And the one just the other side of Bunbury.

A casual day of wandering up the coast, watching Luscious Lyn engage in wine-tasting geekery, and generally just behaving like itinerant gypsies later, we picked up the kid and became normal people again.

Such is life.

But to prove that a picture tells at least one word, and that word is often ‘Whoops’, here’s a random gallery of images from the weekend. Enjoy.

Lyn Battersby, totally sober, your honour.

 

Margaret River graffiti humour. They’ll work on it… 
Where country people think the internet lives.

My wife is gorgeous.

 My wife is gorgeous.
 My wife is gorgeous.
My wife is gorgeous.

 

And what self-respecting Con would be complete without a gratuitous selfie?

HEAD POPPING UP LIKE A NERVOUS MEERKAT

Technology continues to defy us at the Batthaim: the two weeks of radio silence promised us by our new ISP is stretching towards its third week, and customer support continues to be a contradiction in terms. Luckily, I have five minutes of free access via our son doing something clever that involves my phone, a modem, and a pentacle on the dining room floor, so hey presto! Blog post.

Rather than give updatery goodness in self-contained pockets as per usual, let’s just rattle a long one off and hope we cover everything. To whit:

HEALTH IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER.

By which you know I mean this son of a bitch:

I’ve blogged recently about my Dad, and the problems he’s been having with his memory. Well, turns out he has a thing, and that thing is called Primary Progressive Aphasia. Put simply, he’s losing his capacity for words, which will eventually result in a loss of all verbal function, as a result of his brain physically shrinking inside his head. It’s permanent, essentially non-treatable, and will talk a long, slow, terrifying 7 or 8 years to have full effect. As Dad tells me, if I point to a desk, he might be able to tell me it’s a desk, or he might know it’s that wooden thing you sit behind on the thing when you do work and stuff, and there’s probably a word to describe the thing, but sorry, he simply doesn’t know it. My Dad’s a charming man, funny, intelligent, articulate. All that’s going to go away, in front of his eyes.

And our youngest, the Mighty Master 8, has been throwing up consistently for the last fortnight unable to keep down solid foods of any kind. Initial diagnosis was that a food allergy had burned a hole in his stomach lining, so he went on a liquid diet while doctors extracted 5 vials of blood and ran every allergy test they could think of. All of which came back negative. We’re now at the stage where he’s even throwing up the jelly he’s allowed to eat, and we’ve progressed to therapists, specialists, and even a chiropractor. Updates will be posted as we find things out, but right now, Lyn’s exhausted, he’s exhausted, and everyone’s trying to make the best of it while being worried like worried people.

THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG-DISTANCE WRITER

So, last weekend, everyone in the Australian SF Universe besides Lyn and myself attended the Continuum convention in Melbourne, having travelled there by rickshaw from Canberra’s Conflux convention, which they also all attended and we didn’t.

I’m not normally that fussed about missing Cons. I have enjoyed the eastern States ones I’ve attended, and would like to attend more, but I’m a guy with a large family, larger mortgage, and a day job that allows me little time off for extended trips. Plus I’m pretty much always skint. So, you know, I’m comfortable with the idea that it’s never going to happen. But this year it really bummed me, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Maybe it’s just loneliness build up. Writing communities in the eastern states seem to be quite tight-knit, whereas my experience of the Perth community is that it’s far-flung and tends not to gather all that often, and I’m ambivalent about the local Cons for the most part.

I’m also in an odd place, writing-wise. My agent is in the US, and has a large roster so doesn’t contact unless he has something worth talking about: a sale, or a contract or whatnot. He doesn’t get in touch to tell me he’s hopeful. Which is fine: I knew that going into the relation ship, and accepted it, so I’m aware that the two projects I have with him will be discussed when they either hit pay dirt or he releases them back to me. My publisher is in the UK, and we’ve formally reached the end of our contract: I’ve delivered everything I was contracted to deliver, and they’ve done everything with it they said they were going to.

But that kind of leaves me in a limbo on non-communication: I’m not talking to anyone right now, for the first time in about 2 years, and it feels weird and unsettling. The only actual writing I’m doing is an 8k novella for a speculative project that won’t net me any money but will expose me to the innards of electronic publishing, and everything else is editing, which i find a very insular and isolating part of the writing process.

Maybe that’s why having my Facebook page clogged up with pictures of shiny happy writer types drinking and laughing together has given me such a case of the Thierry Ennuis lately. And maybe that’s why we’re turning the kids over to their grandparents this weekend, and heading out of town for three days: Lyn needs a break from full-time carer duty, we both need to feel like writers, and so Margaret River is the site of the first ever…..

BATTCON 13

Yep, Battcon 13, the inaugural Convention of Writing Battersbys, with twin guests of honour Lyn and Me. Taking place in the spa-suite and bar of a Margaret River hotel. Here’s the draft program:

FRIDAY
7pm: So this is Margaret River, huh? Where’s the Bar?
Late: Sho this Margit Riv, ishit? Whesh my fucking room?

SATURDAY

8-ish. Maybe: Breakfast?
9am: Writing.
1pm: Suppose We’d better have some lunch.
3pm: After-lunch writing—does it really exist?
3.30pm-5.30pm: The spa culture, and how much wine is appropriate while in one.
6pm: Round-table discussion—is this meal really worth 40 bucks, and can we take the bar back to the room?
8pm: The role of alcohol in creative thinking
Late: Whesh my fucking room? Oh crap, I’m in it.

SUNDAY

8-ish: Breakfast? Bollocks.
9am: Breakfast with the authors.
10am: Okay, time to Start Writing!—Ways to kick-start that writing project you’ve put off all weekend
1pm: Authorial lunch and wine-tasting.
3pm: Okay, time to Start Writing!—Ways to kick-start that writing project you’ve put off all weekend
6pm: Round-table discussion—You’ll never be a top level author with that attitude, at least not until we open another bottle.
8pm: Barley or the Grape? Creative dichotomies in a liquid culture
Late: Sleeping in the spa: a shyminium… shimilimpim…. Shlymfucking talk! About… where’s my bed?

MONDAY

8-ish: Breakfast. Absolutely breakfast.
10am: Check out.
10.30am: last minute shopping and stocking up on wine.
12pm: Lunch or leave in time to pick the kids up from school?—a debate
12.05pm: Lunch
1pm: The art of phoning the children’s grandparents
4.30pm: Kids, grandparents, and apologies: an author’s guide
6pm: Dead Dog party. 

We wouldn’t be doing it, with Master 8’s health the way it is, if the kids’ grandparents weren’t insistent we do, and we didn’t trust them so implicitly, but they are, and we do, and the break is most necessary. So we’ll be seeing you Tuesday, by which time Connor will be fully fixed, the internet will be returned to the Batthaim, I’ll be a world-famous author with publishers pounding on my door demanding I work for them, Tony Abbott will have drowned in a vat of his own pus, unicorns will roam the high places eating Jackson’s curse and shitting rainbows, Forest will have found a loophole in the rules and been awarded permanent EPL status, and I’ll weigh 80 kilograms and have all my hair back.

Right?




WELCOME TO MY SLIDE NIGHT…

A few moments from our week in Adelaide.

Adelaide Zoo: beautiful woman with elephant idol.

Happy couple with 75 year-old Chilean flamingo.

Adelaide Musuem: our friendly and helpful staff are always on hand with information and advice on where best to run.

The world’s happiest shopper rests after visits to several antique clothing outlets


HMS Buffalo: proving that it’s not the least bit tacky to turn a convict ship into a restaurant

The elegant and dignified Mrs Kate Fischer learns that when I say I’m going to blog a photo, I mean it 🙂

The Fischers: 3 days of marriage and still happy.

Hahndorf: Das goooooood beer.

Good beer, good conversation, and the prospect of harrowing theatre about the last thoughts of a murderous career Nazi. Life is good.


South Australian Air Museum Restoration Room: Flat-pak jet fighters