Guest Blogger

Life at G. J. Coles – Poem

Posted on 2 August 2010. Filed under: Guest Blogger | Tags: , , |

Life at G. J. Coles

The buzzer rings, the panic starts,
Grab cash in bags and go
Throw the money in the till
Get ready for the show

The streaming population
Start crowding through the door
When you’re in the middle of
Mopping up the floor

You ring your little bell all day.
You’re on the floor Men’s Back,
You dare to make a sally.
And then you get the sack.

Joanie Rose, so sweet and kind,
Saturday is her day,
Purdew let’s them in at 12,
Then Joanie has her say.

Her voice is heard for miles around
“Serve the B’s yourself”
And things begin to rattle
Even on the highest shelf

Poor old Cooney works so hard,
Each day he travels miles
His wages can’t be chicken feed,
He must be making “piles”!

Our storeman, Ian, happy chap
He rants and raves all day,
We really need a referee,
To settle every fray.

Gillie’s not a bad old stick,
He has a nifty car,
He loves to pass me on the tram
One day, he’ll go too far.

The lean and lanky lad
With rooster strut and air,
Reacts to our tinkling little bells
With a rather vacant stare

With many thanks to my friend, Peggy, who has shared another poem with me. She wrote this one in Camberwell in 1951 when she worked for G. J. Coles, now called Coles Myer.

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Dracula – The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt

Posted on 16 July 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews, Guest Blogger | Tags: , , |

Here’s an interesting thought. I handed my copy of this book to my 22 year old nephew and asked him to write a review of it. He emailed to me today and so I get to share it with you. I do have to warn you he’s toned it down a bit, I can’t share with you what he really said to me.

I read Dacre Stoker’s book and after finishing, my first thoughts were “What a waste of time.” By itself it’s fairly good, well written, with the characters well defined. However as a sequel to Dracula, it lacked a certain something, and followed the really annoying modern trend of having no absolute Evil, but rather misunderstood beings fighting another being that was evil, yes, but not sheer unadulterated Badness.

If this had been a stand alone novel, I would have liked it, but it’s not. It was a disappointment, and I spent a lot of the time reading it wishing I could shout at either the characters or the author.

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The Secret – Poem

Posted on 24 June 2010. Filed under: Guest Blogger | Tags: |

I need to apologise to anyone who was looking forward to ‘pearls of wisdom’ from me over the last couple of days. I’ve only really got a half an excuse for yesterday. I generally write at night as I find I write better when I’m tired and last night it was challenging to concentrate on anything useful. It was the night that changed the world, well someone’s world. It was the night we heard rumours of a spill in the leadership of Australia. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd eventually announced there would be a caucus vote this morning and there was so much speculation in the world of Twitter and so much to watch on TV that I just wasn’t able to focus to even type up a poem. Today ended up being a very historical day as we ended up with our first female Prime Minister. Mr Rudd stepped aside and Julia Gillard was voted in and subsequently sworn into the position of Prime Minister. This is a big step for Australia and I admit to being rather distracted last night and this morning.

Anyway, what I would have been posting last night is a poem. It’s not mine and I don’t believe it’s been published anywhere else. The author is a friend of mine from the op shop. Peggy is currently in her eighties, that’s her chronological age and her body age is probably closer to 120, but she has great spirit and keeps going despite everything. She left school at the age of 14 and is totally fascinated with words having done crosswords and other word puzzles for many years. She’s fairly well read and literate and the other day gave the honour of showing me her poems. She doesn’t show many people and as I was rather taken with a couple of them she’s letting me show them both to you. This one was written in 1939.

The Secret

If you can keep a secret
I’ll tell this one to you,
I’ve only told my dolly
And she’s so very true.

She’ll never say a single word
So different from the “Dickie Bird’,
Who tells my Mummy, all I do.

Just bend your head a little low,
I don’t want anyone else to know,
Mummy is sick with a very bad cold
And I want her to see it, before she is told.

I found it tucked in my old cot to-day.
When every-one thought I was out to play,
‘Twill be the biggest surprise Mummy ever has had
And when she has seen it, I’ll show it to Dad.

I’m the only one knows, the stork has been
With the sweetest baby, you ever have seen.

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Jen and Supanova

Posted on 27 April 2010. Filed under: Guest Blogger | Tags: , , |

It’s the weekend many geeks and pop culture aficionados look forward to, and I nearly forgot about it! Luckily, I had a friend volunteering at Supanova who reminded me, and shortly after I read an email from my studio lecturer who knows this kind of event is “right up my alley”.

I and my pop expo buddy went together, endeavouring to come early. I’m glad Supanova’s held at the Showgrounds because that makes my life much easier by being able to drive in, rather than slugging my way into the city via public transport! Naturally the queue was already in full swing when we arrived. I was dreading the organisation and logistics of the event, as my personal experience knows how poor they tend to be, but I have to congratulate the organisers for being generally efficient, and hiring firm but approachable volunteers. I think the average queuing time was just 30 minutes or less, which is a very good figure, considering how notoriously long waiting can be at conventions.

Usually I try to set a budget limit (I see the comic book stalls and my mindset goes into instant WANT WANT WANT mantra), but given the quite fantastic celebrity line-up I decided to “splurge” a tad more than what I normally would. Without a doubt I eagerly signed up for James Marsters (photo and autograph, of course!) of Buffy and Torchwood fame, plus Gareth David-Lloyd, seen in Torchwood and Doctor Who. Gareth David-Lloyd at SupanovaGiven the immense popularity of these guys, especially James, there was little time to converse with them at some length. Add to that I was just so starstruck that I could barely string a “Hi!” with a “How are you?” No matter how many famous people you meet, you just can’t get over the fact you’re seeing them face to face! And that they’re talking to you, acknowledging your existence by the fact that you’re standing there in front of them! James was coming down with some bug, so close contact and hugs were out of bounds, unfortunately! But people got creative in their restrictions, which was fun to see! Awe aside, that was $150 down the drain just to grab hold of the fifteen minutes with fame, and I don’t regret it!

Later, I went on a hunt for comic books by the guest artists. There was quite a varied turnout of talents, both writers and artists, but I was mainly interested in George Perez and Marv Wolfman, both of whom revolutionised comics in the 80s and 90s, especially in their work with DC. I forked out quite a bit just to get a lousy laser print of George’s beautiful rendition of Wonder Woman, but I had no choice since that was the only way I could get an additional sketch by George. Still, that sketch made my day blissfully, utterly complete. I spent quite an agonising time beforehand trying to come up with an idea for George to draw for me; ideally I wanted an amorous interlude between Catwoman and Batman, but I suppose that was too ambitious (!). I settled instead for Batman (Bruce Wayne) with his cowl/hood down—a somewhat more intriguing approach to the Dark Knight than say “just Batman” (though George himself did say that was the second request of the same thing!). Add to that George and Marv were absolute darlings—very warm and friendly, and happy to sign autographs and pose for photos. They have my utmost respect and adoration.
Batman in Progress by George Perez

Batman by George Perez

Put frankly, I’m glad there are only two major pop culture conventions in a year in Melbourne—Supanova usually in April, and Armageddon in October—because in a place such as this, I run wild with fangirlish madness; consequently my savings get hard hit, but you know, that’s what the months in between compensate for. I wouldn’t really have it any other way!

Thanks to Suzie for inviting me to guest blog! 🙂

[editor: thanks should go to your for your fabulous post]

Jennifer Wu is a graphic designer based in Melbourne, Australia. Her work and life is largely (absolutely!) informed by her passion for popular culture and history through the ages. She likes to think she has a way with words and images. Currently she is channelling her obsession for kitsch, collecting and the culture of excess in a major project for her Honours degree. She welcomes any comments or questions! You can catch her on Twitter or see her blog and work.

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Sara Douglass, Celebrating Ten Years of Crusader This Month

Posted on 16 October 2009. Filed under: Authors, Guest Blogger |

Sara Douglass, Celebrating Ten Years of Crusader This Month

This month celebrates the tenth anniversary release of Book 3 of the Wayfarer Redemption by Sara Douglass.

Sara Douglass is an Australian author whose books were first published in 1995 with her first published book Axis, book one of the trilogy by the same name. Ever since then she has been churning out books at a rather prolific rate.

Her writing has won her three Aurealis Awards and had several books make the Aurealis Awards finalists list. She is also an internationally recognised author, although some of her works go by different names overseas. At this point for those of you not from Australia I will point out that what I have referred to and will continue to refer to as the Axis trilogy is known internationally as the first three books of the Wayfarer Redemption.

Before becoming a published author she worked for many years as a nurse in Adelaide she then worked towards her BA whilst still working as a nurse. She studied Modern English History and then later began to teach Medieval History at Bendigo’s Latrobe University.

Why is she one of my favourite author’s to date? For that you’ll have to read on and endure my unwieldy word smithing.

Every birthday and Christmas my mother has a little ritual of making sure that my brother and I get at least one book, this is something she still does to this day even though my brother and I have both long since finished school and left home.

On the Christmas Day of 1996 my mother gave me the Axis trilogy, I felt I was really lucky this year as I got not one or two books but a trilogy! That night full of way too much food and thoroughly sick of family visitors I cracked open the first book of the trilogy. It was one of those experiences that most avid readers have every now and again where you find a sparkling gem of literary genius that helps you to step out of this world and into another realm, in this case I stepped into the mystical realm of Tecendor.

Ever since then Sara Douglass’ books have graced my favourites shelves. Yes that’s correct I have a set of shelves dedicated to my favourite books, or in some special cases favourite author’s whose entire works grace these shelves. After all why not? Some people collect models or stamps. Me? I collect books, lots and lots of books.

Nine years later and many books later (praise be brilliant yet prolific authors!) Sara Douglass’ works was now occupying an entire shelf and I had started studying history at university. It was then that I began to realise quite how great her works were. She was taking all these elements of history and weaving them seamlessly into her works creating a flowing world of magic and adventure with elements of our own world entwined within.

This seemingly effortless grace of utilising pieces of our own history and working them into her own works made sense once I’d done a little bit of Googling and found out some information about her. I was not at all surprised when I found out that she was a historian herself. Being a historian she has quite an impressive arsenal at her disposal and makes very good use of it.

One of my favourite things about her books is the way it feels like someone is telling you a tale. The comfy feeling you get as if you are snuggled deep in your favourite armchair in front of the fire with a cup of Earl Grey listening to this tale of wonder unfold. I know this sounds silly but it wasn’t until I discovered her Nonsuch Gardening Blog and started reading her gardening adventures in windy Tasmania that I realised it wasn’t Azhure or Grace or any of my favourite characters from her books narrating the story to me but Sara herself. It was her voice telling the tale, the same one telling of her own gardening adventures.

Cut to present day and now here I am thirteen years after I started reading her books trying to put some semblance of direction into my words on why she is one my favourite authors and to give her an appropriately biased tribute.

So if you are looking for well written books with decently flowing story lines and interesting twists I would recommend Sara Douglass to you. She has been a prolific author ever since Axis hit the shelves so there are a good number of books available to read and in my biased opinion are worth reading. The future direction of her literary career is uncertain since her diagnosis with cancer last year. Although she has finished The Infinity Gate book three of her latest trilogy Dark Glass Mountain her life understandably is taking her in a new direction and it is yet to be determined whether her readers will see more books from her.

For me she joins the list of Australian Authors that have helped put Australia on the literary map. She joins the ranks of authors such as S.A Wakefield and Juliet Marillier. More than that in fact, I would say that she easily creates a new world of fantasy as real and great as that of J.R.R Tolkien.

However don’t just take my word for it, take a trip to your local library or bookstore and pick up one of her books and see for yourself.


Aurealis Awards
Holistic Page
Sara Douglass’ Official Webpage and Blog (Current)
Sara Douglass’ Official (Now discontinued) Webpage

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Mark – Guest Blogger

Posted on 15 October 2009. Filed under: Guest Blogger |

Well, tonight I get the pleasure of introducing tomorrow’s post.

I first met Mark in 2004 when I joined the Australian Discworld Convention Disorganising Committee. I was bored and looking for something new and different to do so I joined the committee. Mark was a Committee member for the first Convention and took over the role of Director for the second Convention, he appointed me his Vice which meant many conversations and I hope we will remain friends for a long time.

Like me, he is very interested in books and when our discussion strayed onto the topic of blogs I had no hesitation in asking him to write for me. Despite being much younger than me he seems to have read many of the books I value from my childhood. I asked him to choose an author he values a lot and so he chose Sara Douglass. This is good for me as she’s an author I’ve never read and therefore it’s good for you as you get to view the author through the eyes of someone who loves her work dearly.

Should you be inspired and wish to join the committee or just attend the next Australian Discworld Convention you should visit here as full details will be posted.

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Questors – Joan Lennon

Posted on 13 October 2009. Filed under: Guest Blogger | Tags: , |

I’m feeling rather lazy today and have spent part of the day watching Angel instead of doing useful stuff so in keeping with that theme of me being lazy I’ve talked a young person I know into writing a guest blog. Jay just finished Questors by Joan Lennon and here’s what she thinks of it.

“Three worlds, exisitng at the same place, at the same time. it’s a perfect balance, but something goes wrong. Three perfect heros are created to fix it, but events take a turn for the worse, and they are called upon ten years too early. No one knows what they are meant to do to save the worlds, and there is someone trying to stop them…

An enthralling read, filled with clever coincidences that feel perfectly natural, culminating in an exciting ending that is both expected and unexpected.

Contains one swear word, some violence, probably suited for early to mid teens.”

She also mentioned that the gender of one of the characters is uncertain until the end of the book, this is a natural condition in this world.

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Reflections on Grug

Posted on 3 June 2009. Filed under: Guest Blogger | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Reflections on Grug

When I was a child, my family were missionaries in Nepal. Every so often we would receive a “blue barrel” from Australia. This would contain all sorts of goodies, including presents for myself and my 3 siblings.

One barrel contained a gift for my brother – the first book of the Grug series. This book was a favourite with all of us and was read over and over. We all committed it to memory, simply because we read it so often. Even now, after 20 or so years, I still remember “Once the top of a burrawong tree fell to the ground, and the grassy top began to change. It became… Grug! And off Grug went to search for a place to live.”

Over the years, we collected most of the Grug books for my brother. When he grew up and moved out of home, the books were left with my parents, including the much loved first book, which now is a little worse for wear.

The advantage of the books being with my parents is my children have had the opportunity to read and love the Grug books too. My 7 year old learned to read with them and we are about to start reading them with my 5 year old.

The news that Grug is being reprinted has caused a lot of excitement – we are planning to buy a copy for my brother and keep it safe for when he has children, so he can share the joy of Grug with them.

Melissa Khalinsky is the mother of 2 boys and the oldest of 4 children. She runs the Business Mums Network and often has various kids story books on her desk and in her handbag!

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Grug in Business

Posted on 1 June 2009. Filed under: Guest Blogger | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Now you want to know what Grug has to do with business.  Well, besides being very collectable I just happened to have a friend who has memories of Grug and seeing that Grug is going to be republished this month by Simon and Shuster and Melissa just happens to be in business I thought there’s the obvious connection.

Melissa is the founder of the Business Mum’s Network.  This is a wonderful group that helps mums to make your business the best possible.  They offer a supportive network comprised of a forum, speakers, an annual conference (more below) and also a select group called The Profit Club that meet every other Wednesday during term for group business coaching by Katherine Doe from Action Coach Australia.  Visit the Business Mum’s Network and have a look around, it doesn’t cost the earth and it’s great.  If you’re interested in attending The Profit Club email either Melissa or myself.

After a recent Profit Club session I was talking to one of the participants about books and the topic shifted to Grug.  She hadn’t heard of Grug and Melissa kindly spoke up with a precis of Grug and how she knew it so well.  Knowing that Grug is about to be republished I couldn’t resist this snippet and asked her to write me this story.  She very quickly obliged and the result will be posted here in a couple of days.

The Business Mums Conference is on the weekend of the 21st and 22nd June in Holmesglen TAFE. It’s a fabulous weekend specially designed for mums in business and will help you recharge your batteries, also giving you lots of ideas for your business.  Any of my readers who also signup and attend the conference will be able to pick up their orders at the conference for free postage and also receive a 20% discount. See Business Mum’s Conference for further details and to sign up.

Edit: Sadly, the Profit Club I attend is no more. If you’re still interested you could always contact Katherine Doe to see if she’s doing another one elsewhere.

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Posted on 30 May 2009. Filed under: Guest Blogger, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I declare that the following article is my own work.


30th May 1947 – 30th May 2009, celebrating 62 years of Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’

When, on 6th October 1952, ‘The Mousetrap’, a play written by Agatha Christie, opened at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham, England, it had already undergone transformation from a radio play to a short story and then into the stage play.  The play, ‘The Mousetrap’, was based on the short story, ‘Three Blind Mice’, written by Agatha Christie in a collection of her stories entitled ‘Three Blind Mice and other Stories’, which was published only in the United States of America in 1950, but the short story had previously been published in England in a women’s magazine in serial form.  ‘Three Blind Mice’, a thirty minute radio play, was written in response to Queen Mary’s request for a play by Agatha Christie to celebrate her 80th birthday and was transmitted by the BBC on 30th May, 1947.

On 25th November, 1952, ‘The Mousetrap’, the stage play, opened in the West End of London in the Ambassadors Theatre, and ran there until 23rd March 1974, when it was moved to the larger St Martin’s Theatre, next door, opening on 25th March 1974, keeping its ‘initial run’ status, where it still plays.  It is the longest running play in history, and as requested by Dame Agatha Christie, the short story has never been published in England in any short story collection.  Film adaptation, under the contract conditions of the play, will not be considered until the play has stopped running for a period of six months.

Such is the acclaim for Agatha Christie, often dubbed ‘The Queen of Crime’, and her works, in 1962, UNESCO claimed she was the ‘most widely read British writer in the world’, beating William Shakespeare for the first position. With her deft writing skills, Christie taunted her readers, laying red herrings to confuse them, and tacitly challenging them to unravel the mystery within her works.  Her characters were believable and her writing style was fluid and compact. Author of numerous novels, radio plays, television plays and other works, Christie wrote 160 short stories.

Her novels beguile us, but her collections of short stories may have exactly the same effect for a different reason.  While some collections of Christie’s short stories share the same title in the UK and in the USA, most do not.  Many of Christie’s books were published firstly in England then later in America.  To appeal to the American market, the titles were sometimes changed and another cover picture was created, more appropriate to the American life-style.  ‘Poirot’s Early Cases’ (UK) was changed to ‘Hercule Poirot’s Early Cases’ for the American market, presumably because Hercule Poirot at that time was not as well known in America as he was in England.  ‘Double Sin and Other Stories’ (US) contains eight short stories, which cannot be found together as a collection published in the UK, but can be found as parts of four other collections in England (‘Poirot’s Early Cases’, ‘The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and Other Entrees’, ‘Miss Marple’s Final Cases and Two Other Stories’ and ‘The Hound of Death and Other Stories’).  Many of her short story collections suffered the same fate.

Whether it was because of cultural differences or for financial reasons, that Agatha Christie’s and/or her publishers chose to separate and publish her short stories in different collections, we may never know.  To get a definitive collection of Agatha Christie’s short stories has, perhaps, become as much a challenge to unravel as anything Christie herself wrote.

To the ‘Queen of Crime’, long may she reign…..

Dame Agatha Christie: 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976.


1.‘The Mousetrap and Agatha Christie’ by Sir Peter Saunders, in ‘50th Year Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap’, Souvenir Brochure.

2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

© Valerie Ann Lettau 20th May 2009.

All rights reserved. No part of this article maybe reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.


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