Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 2013

Our congratulations go to Susan Beinart for receiving a "Commended" award from the judge of the Bondi Writers Short Story competition; and to Sunny Wong who was awarded First Prize in the recent Memoir competition held by the Eastwood Hills branch of the FAW.

And congratulations to Cynthia Rowe for her latest publication, Pennyweight Flat. See details below.
The member contribution this month is from Carol Chandler for the following excerpt from one of her published short stories. Thank you Carol for this contribution and congratulations for your latest publication "Anonymous Caller" whose cover is pictured here:


Carol Chandler

First published Idiom23

On the second day in London I was drawn to Highgate to see the poet Keats’ house. I took the bus towards the cemetery and walked across the heath, thinking about the poet, Blake, and how he used to walk across the city from the south to a group of friends and supporters in the north. A tangle of kites flew in the breeze as I made my way towards the exit, into a street with mansions, young black models and fashionable mothers.

The house was a simple white two storey building, surrounded by a garden of flowers; daffodils, violets, roses and bluebells. Keats had come here after a period of distress nursing his brother until he died of tuberculosis. It was a house of solace where he composed “Ode to a Nightingale”, spending time in the garden, and it was during this time that he met the poet, Coleridge, when he was living under the care of a doctor at Highgate for his opium addiction.

As I walked through the entrance hall and into a room with two glass doors, looking out onto a wild tangle of cornflowers and a tree with white blossoms, I remembered that Keats had lain in this room, drawing strength from the garden as he battled his own tuberculosis.

The illness eventually killed him and as I moved from room to room, I began reading the stories of Keats’ life, how Joseph Severn and Charles Brown had been his closest friends, and how, during the time of his brother’s illness, he had written in his journal

“I am obliged to write, and plunge into abstract images to lose myself of his countenance, his voice and feebleness”

I began thinking about male friendship, how Keats’ relationship with his brother reminded me of my husband, Jack’s, closeness with his best friend who had died recently.  The notes on the wall described how Brown had nursed Keats, just as Keats had nursed his brother, carrying out Keats' final wishes, inscribing on his tombstone

“Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water.”   “What did that mean?” I wondered.

That transitional image of water. A journey of the spirit across time and space.

I left Keats’ house and walked towards Highgate cemetery, but I quickly lost my way and approached a woman, asking directions to the cemetery. She told me to follow her as she was walking part of the way and we continued on through the streets in companionable silence until she stopped and pointed me in the right direction. I passed by the library at the edge of the park, a black spiked fence around the perimeter.  Birds flitted between  lilies through the fence as I ambled by an ancient church, an oak tree and a white flowering shrub, bluebells and bracken ferns.

As I approached the entrance of the cemetery I could see a small alcove like a house. A woman sat inside so I asked her for directions to the writer, George Eliot’s, tomb and she told me to follow the path and turn left.  I continued walking, past a dense profusion of plants, vines and creepers, stone angels and crosses, crypts and urns.

There was an eerie silence as I walked towards Eliot’s grave, aware that there was no one else in the cemetery now except myself.  I could see the headstone in the distance as I turned down a grassy pathway and sat beside the grave, a needle grey obelisk like Cleopatra's Needle on the Thames Embankment, inscribed with the words

“Of those immortal dead who live again in minds made better of their presence” “Here lies the Body of “George Eliot” Mary Ann Cross Born 22nd November 1819 Died 22nd December 1880.”

The grave was covered in cornflowers and purple flowers, two toned ivy and a shrub with small delicate leaves. A flourish of greenery caught my eye as I sat in complete silence beside the grave, aware only of the blue cornflowers, wild dandelions and ivy behind the obelisk flowing from the adjoining grave onto Eliot's.

I sat there for some time, before leaving the grave and walking through the cemetery, past crosses with angels, flowers and gold lettering on black marble gravestones.

            The light was beginning to dim as I made my way to the cemetery gates, following paths of swirling and cluttered greenery, through this unruly resting place of earth and souls, past an inscription “Courage Wisdom Love. But when so sad, thou can’st not sadder, cry, and upon thy so sore loss, shall shine the traffic of Jacob’s Ladder, pitched between heaven and Charing Cross.”         

BWG Meeting 20 October 2013
Attendees :
Frankie Dowling, Gavin Austin, Anne Skyvington, Erica Barlow, Dorothy Paramore, Susan Beinart, Prim Moss, Toni Paramore, Sunny Wong-Haslinger .
Apologies :
Garth Alperstein, Carol Chandler, Pam Trustrum.
Dina Davis, Sandra Fong, Carolyn Newman, Libby Sommer.
The President, F D, opened the meeting.
As the position of secretary was not filled at the AGM, Frankie asked the meeting for a volunteer for the position. No one came forward so Frankie decided to appoint a minute taker for every monthly meeting, rotating through the members until someone wished to take the role of secretary. He asked that the minutes of each meeting be sent to him and he volunteered to write the quarterly report for the Writers Voice. He agreed to keep the minutes for this meeting.
The president then updated the meeting re The Seagull Award. No entries have been received as yet and he reminded the meeting that the closing date is 8th of November. He also told the meeting that the competition is only open to financial members.
The meeting split into two groups for the feedback sessions, one for prose and one for poetry.
Gavin and Dorothy read poetry to their group. Anne, Susan, Erica and Sunny read prose to their group. All members were pleased with the feedback they received and felt it would help them to work further on their pieces.
After the feedback sessions, Frankie advised the meeting that he will not be present for the November meeting. He appointed Anne to run the meeting in his absence and to keep the minutes. He also advised the meeting that he had booked the Theory Room for the 2014 meetings and that he would be applying for a grant from the Waverley Council.
Before the close of meeting a visitor, Dina Davis had a piece read for feedback as well.
The meeting closed at 16:00

Don''t forget to enter your story in our very own Seagull Award competition: closing date 8th November

Congratulations to our lovely Erica Barlow and her partner. She has just given birth to a bonny baby boy, Anton Barlow, weighing in at 8lb 14 or   Mother, father and baby doing well after a hard day's night. We wish them all the best and hope to see baby and Erica at one of our meetings.

Pennyweight Flat - back cover blurb

 Pennyweight Flat is set during the Gold Rush in 1854 at the time of the Eureka Stockade. The story centres on Yann Sauvage, grandson of Napoleon Bonaparte, who has come to the Colony of Victoria to seek out his father, Jean-Paul Sauvage, a deserter from the French army.

The element of danger for Yann is almost always present – from political enemies or the troopers, from snakes, disease, and drunken miners. All this adds to the exciting possibility of striking it rich, of being reunited with his father, of finding friendship, and, perhaps something more, with the storekeeper’s daughter Clem.
The energy levels of Pennyweight Flat are high. Tension and apprehension pervade the story, as well as dry humour due to the incongruous situations in which Yann often finds himself. Will he find his father? Or will the Saint-Simonians, who he believes have murdered his mother, continue to block Yann at every turn?

Next meeting 17th this month: Our very own long-term member Kay Dunne will be addressing the group on her experience of studying Creative Writing in Dublin during the past months. This should be an inspiring afternoon so come along and ask questions of Kay or just enjoy the experience.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

October AGM 2013

Eastern Suburbs  Branch
PO Box 701, Bondi Junction, NSW 1355
The member contribution for this month is from Erica
Annual General Meeting President's Agenda
15 September, 2013

1, Welcome by the President (FD)
2. Objectives for next twelve months (FD, All0
3. Planning for next twelve months (FD, All)
4. Contributions to blog/Guidelines (AS)
5. Outgoing committee (FD)
6. Incoming committee election (FD)
7. AOB
8. Meeting close (FD

FD: Frankie Dowling
AS: Anne Skyvington 

BWG Meeting 15 September 2013

Attendees :

Frankie Dowling, Gavin Austin, Anne Skyvington, Garth Alperstein, Erica Barlow,Carol Chandler,Dorothy Paramore, Geraldine Star, Dina Davis

Apologies :

Susan Beinart, Sande Bruch, Prim Moss.

The President, F D, opened the meeting. He explained the agenda before continuing with the meeting.

Frankie proceeded with the objectives for the group for the coming 12 months. Based on feedback from the group he had prepared objectives to put to the group. The group agreed with the objectives and they were accepted for the coming year. A copy of these objectives will be sent to all financial members.

Based on the objectives the meeting continued with the planning for 2013/14. Frankie, suggested the planning, month by month, for the group. Dorothy Paramore raised the question as to catering more for poets in the group rather than the focus being on short story writers. Frankie explained that during feedback sessions, if there are enough members present, the group breaks into groups, one to cover prose, the other poetry. It was suggested that perhaps we should hold a poetry competition for members. We all agreed to take this suggestion on board for the coming year.

The group agreed with the planning. However, Frankie did explain that the planning was not set in concrete and was really a guide as to what we should try to achieve in the next 12 months. Members contributions to the blog were also agreed for the coming 12 months. A copy of the planning, with a list of member’s contributions for each month, will be sent by email to all financial members, along with guidelines as to how to present one’s piece for the blog.

Gavin Austin decided to stand down as Secretary and so the position is vacant. A special thanks to Gavin for all his work and input as a committee member over the years. The roles of the secretary were explained. As there were no nominations from members present it was decided to publicise the position by email to all members.

The incoming committee for 2013/14 are:

President – Frankie Dowling (unopposed)

Secretary – vacant

Treasurer – Yvette Maurice (unopposed)

Communications – Anne Skyvington (unopposed)

Under AOB, Frankie announced the Seagull Award Competition, details of which will be forwarded to all financial members. He also announced that due to the success of the recent BWG short story competition that we will be running this competition again in 2014.

The meeting closed at 15:15.

 Objectives for 2013/2014

To encourage and motivate members to continue writing
Feedback Sessions
Presentation Sessions – Self and Actor Readings
Short Story Competitions / Poetry Competition

 To engage guest speakers to help the group on relevant topics
Courses / Educational

To publicise the professionalism of the group
Blog (members contributions)
BWG Short Story Competition
Public Readings

2013 Bondi Writers Short Story Comp Results

We are pleased to announce the following prize winners and standouts in the recently judged competition. Congratulations to all of you from BWG: 

First Prize:

“The War And Alice Faye” by Keith Youman

Second Prize:

“Admit One” by Debi Hamilton

Highly Commended:

“The Birthday Party” by Suzanne Gaskell
“The Wedgetail” by Faie Dana Watson


“Coq Au Vin” by Susan Beinart
“Secrets From People” by Maggie Veness

Bondi Writers Group 2013 Seagull Competition
Bondi Beach

Short stories up to 2,500 words on any topic

No entry form

Separate cover sheet – story title and author’s contact details

Stories to be typed and double spaced

Closing date 8th November 2013

Entries to ‘Competition Convenor’ at the above address.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

September 2013

We have two contributions of poems for the September blog from Toni Paramore and Pamela Trustrum whose poems have underlying metaphorical significance that I found entrancing.

Painting by John Bauer 1913 Wikipedia

Unmatched Socks
Waywardly strung across my bedroom
floor, indifferent to being paired,
occupying floorspace like
armies of trolls, threatening to multiply
if touched, these demon-like socks
linger and litter.  Reduced to a
bystander, I watch, entranced.
Imagining them, taking over my room,
my home, my life. For years a fruitless struggle
to pin them down, and now they sit
staring at me, defying organisation.
I have no heart to intervene,
And, fearful of disturbing the status quo,
can even come to see, in their chaotic patterns,
signs of art: creative re-formations,
blunt divisions, resistance to conformity,
smug isolation, unspoken defiance…
But I know change must come as they
lie there, mutely, abandoned,
gathering  dust.
©Toni Paramore 5/8/13

Photo by Anne Skyvington 2013
Out on the Sea
Where are we in this boat
we have lost the anchor of the land
The sea the sky are everywhere
and we are nowhere

A compass could fix this place
or the stars
hanging in eternal space

We ask the sea where are we
the sea replies you are here

What else is there to know.

© Pamela Trustrum

Minutes of meeting Sunday August  18, 2013
Present: Frankie Dowling, Gavin Austin, Anne Skyvington, Erica Barlow, Susan Beinart, Sande Bruch, Carol Chandler, Prim Moss, Dorothy Paramore, Pamela Trustrum
Apologies: Garth Alperstein, Geraldine Star, Sunny Wong-Haslinger, Toni Paramore

The guest speaker for our August meeting was Mr Apostrophe Man unmasked as Professor Mark Onslow. Mark wears many hats, including being an actor and sometime comedian and, of course, our very own Anne Skyvington’s husband! In addition he works at Sydney University as a widely published research specialist in stuttering, especially in children. His academic work in particular has required him to develop his own word processing skills over the years and he kindly came to offer us some advice in this area.
With a friendly and funny approach Mark advised us on many key issues involved in word-processing. This covered set up, documents back-up and storage, typing methods including, for those who have significant trouble typing, a voice recognition programme can work well converting spoken words into text. Important to bear in mind is the specific equipment needed, including a headset and a decent USB-based microphone (i.e. not just the one already on your computer.)
Mark also covered document formatting and discussed the benefits of this compared with manually formatting a document, e.g. double-spacing for paragraphing, using the tab key to indent lines etc. is not advised since the formatting does not translate to a different computer or version of Microsoft Word, etc. (consider this when sending work to a publisher, for example.) For this reason, pre-determined formatting is much more effective.
In other business we were informed the open short story competition has been a huge success with 102 entries being received. We are now able to hold the Seagull Award, our in-house short story competition later in the year.
Afternoon tea followed in the Friends’ Room.

Erica Barlow and Gavin Austin

The Blue Mountains after rain...Gavin Austin

Elizabeth Bay photo by Gavin Austin

Our next meeting will be held at 2-4pm on Sunday the  
15th of September, 2013


The next meeting of BWG will be the Annual General Meeting.
All commitee positions will be voted in by the members.
We will also spend time on planning for the forthcoming year and 
discuss what members would like to achieve through BWG.
Afternoon tea will follow the meeting.
$2 financial members, $5 visitors.


Welcome (President FD)
Objectives for next 12 months FD/All)

Planning for next 12 months (FD/All)

Contributions to Blog/ Guidelines (FD/AS)

Outgoing Committee (FD)

Incoming Committee Election (FD)


Meeting Close (FD)
FD – Frankie Dowling
AS – Anne Skyvington

Sunday, August 4, 2013

August 2013

The August contribution is from Yvette Maurice with this short story on a modern dis-ease

Greedy Guts

Tim Bayliss Photography

I picked up the orange segment delicately and sliced into it with my knife. I divided it cleanly and precisely into four more pieces and then set about removing every single trace of white pith from the outside of my snack.

Actually it wasn’t really a snack. This was supposed to be my lunch; 10 calories. That’s all I could afford today. You’d think that with such scientific and methodical precision I’d be able to whittle down my body more than I had, but I was grossly overweight, revoltingly fat. The hatred and anger I felt towards myself was so crippling that some days, I could barely look in the mirror.

But I did.

Each day I stood naked in front of my full length mirror, hating every inch of my revolting flesh, every dimple, every freckle, every fold and every crease. I hated myself. I hated myself so passionately that I knew I didn’t deserve anything in this life.

“Greedy,” I said to myself. “You’re so revoltingly greedy. Greedy guts. Fat greedy guts.”

I had a disease, at least that’s what they called it in the ‘meetings’ I attended to help me cope with my eating disorder. They gave me books and told me to share my tales of woe, all the really nasty, revolting things I did to my hateful body in the privacy of my own home. They said I would never recover, and that my ‘disease’ was like a hereditary illness. I could only learn to ‘manage’ my appetites, my desires to binge and purge. They told me a cure was impossible, all I could do was work on my ‘recovery’ day by day.

I secretly resented all the pathetic people in the room with me, but that didn’t stop me from attending my 3 or 4 ninety-minute meetings each week. I sat there and listened to them talk, with pure, unadulterated venom inside me, thinking as I sat there silently, “Greedy, greedy, greedy.” They were all revoltingly greedy, just like me.

There was the South African woman who was thin now but used to be fat. Very fat. She had lost almost half her body weight and now she sat there in slim fitting jeans and dangly earrings, talking about the holiday back home she had planned.

“I have a very strict eating plan now,” she explained (even though we’d all heard her story before), “and I don’t want to go off track when I go back home to Johannesburg, so I have researched supermarkets online close to my hotel. All I will need to bring from home is my skim milk powder, so I have measured out 7 servings a day for my 3 week holiday, all into zip lock bags, so I won’t get anxious when I’m away.”

Madness. Sheer madness! This is the length that these ‘recovered’ food addicts went to remain ‘abstinent’ from food and to continue ‘working the program’ through all events and milestones in their life. She’d be lucky to not get stopped in customs with all that white powder, weighed and measured out. You call this living? I thought to myself. This is not living – this is misery.

Another hateful loser stood, the young man in his early twenties whose self-designed program involved never eating between meals; doing so would be like taking a slug of vodka for an alcoholic, he says. He reveals his ‘moment of weakness’ that week when he was making himself a black coffee and a single bean jumped out of the grinder, which he absentmindedly popped into his mouth.

“It was then that I realised how far from full recovery I truly am,” he explained, “To eat anything between meals makes me very nervous, because I never want to go back to being as out of control as I once was.”

Not all the people at the meeting were thin, some were quite overweight, some very fat indeed. Lots of people had been trying for years to gain control over their eating, some successfully, some not. No one in today’s meeting was as fat as me; as truly, revoltingly, greedily fat as me. I had been coming to these horrid meetings for years now; weeks and weeks of listening for hours to other people’s lives, torments, flaws and faults, all in the name of self improvement. I had not improved much at all, in fact, if I really told myself the truth, these meetings were actually making me feel more hopeless, helpless and distraught. No one ever had perfect control over their eating, no one ever recovered fully. We were all there to simply comfort each other, to remind each other that we weren’t the only ones out there who struggled with food.

“Greedy. Greedy. Greedy!”

The words echoed though my head as I felt down to my thighs. Enormous, I had certainly gained weight since this morning, I could feel it. My pants felt tighter already, and I’d deliberately worn the stretchy ones so that I could be seated comfortably for the hour and a half.

I hated myself. I hated myself for having no control; I hated being such a bad girl, so useless, loveless, helpless and pathetic. No body would ever love me. No body could love someone as overweight as I was, such a revolting, fat mound of hateful, disgusting flesh, and I hated all the losers in my meeting groups, and I knew that part of me only went to gawk at them and hear their equally pathetic and stupid stories, which made me feel momentarily better about myself.

“Fat greedy guts.”

The voices in my head continued while I unlocked my car, and heaved my huge body into the driver’s seat. I caught a glimpse of my puffy, swollen cheeks in the rear view mirror and burst into tears. I would never be thin enough. I could never lose enough weight. I would always be this hatefully fat, this revoltingly greedy and out of control. I hated myself from the depths of my very being, cursing my existence. My heart filled with such immense dread now that I was finally alone that my body wracked with a shock of instant tears and I sobbed, uncontrollably in my car.

What if someone saw me?

The thought flashed into my mind. The voices started again.

“Don’t let anyone see you cry, you weak, pathetic, fat loser. They’ll know what you’re really crying about. They all know it’s because you’re a fat, disgusting pig who no one could ever love; a greedy, revoltingly, fat girl.”

Sobering up for just a minute, I reached into the glove compartment and pulled out a snack; a sugary, wrapped, chocolate mousse cake, it was at least four hundred calories. I stuffed the entire thing in my mouth without a thought, without chewing, without tasting. My mind quietened. The voices stopped. I felt a rush of calm flood over my enraged mind, soothing my fleshy body.

I managed to make it all the way home, and once inside the voices continued.

“You’ve blown it now, you disgusting, fat pig. No one will ever love you.”

I fled to the kitchen cupboards and pulled out a box of cereal, another packet of biscuits and an old fruit cake I’d had stashed in the back since December. I opened the fridge and pulled out a litre of milk, a block of butter and a jar of cheap, sugary jam. I floated to the kitchen table where I stuffed biscuit after biscuit into my mouth, as if in a trance. I then took great slathers of butter and jam, spreading them thickly on the fruit cake, before stuffing each piece untasted, into my waiting gob. Bowls of sugary cereal followed, until there was not one bite left and my stomach was so full, I felt like it was going to burst.

If there was ever a more loathsome creature on the face of the earth, I hadn’t met them. Once the feasting had stopped the awful moment of truth finally dawned on me. The moment of punishment. The time to see just how bad, how out of control, how utterly fat I had become.

It was time to get on the scales.

My stomach distended to faux pregnancy size, I waddled over to the scales and dropped my clothes to the floor. I felt my enormous fleshy body, my strained stomach and sickeningly stretched thighs. I stood on the scales in my underpants and bra, and closed my eyes.

Forty one kilos.

I couldn’t believe it – that was nearly 3 kilos more than this morning. I was such a disgusting, fat, greedy pig. I knew that I would have to starve myself for the rest of the week to get back down to my ‘safe’ weight of thirty eight kilos.

Greedy pig. Greedy, greedy greedy.

They’d told me I had anorexia, but I didn’t believe them. Anorexics were thin. Not fat like me.

© Yvette Maurice
Our next meeting will be held at 2-4pm on Sunday the 18th of August, 2013.
We meet upstairs in the Theory Room at the Waverley Library, Denison Street, Bondi Junction.
The elusive and mysterious Mr Apostrophe Man has agreed to present a Formatting workshop at the August meeting.
He said he has a presentation based on 'Word-processing for Dummies' that reinforces 'Using Styles' and 'Layout.'
Do not miss this session which promises to be of great benefit to writers.
Afternoon tea will follow the meeting.
$2 financial members, $5 visitors.

Minutes of meeting Sunday July 21, 2013
Present: Frankie Dowling, Gavin Austin, Anne Skyvington, Yvette Maurice, Susan Beinart, Ian, Prim Moss, Geraldine Star, Pamela Trustrum, Jonathan Elsom, Amelia Kerr.
Apologies: Garth Alperstein, Erica Barlow, Sande Bruch, Carol Chandler, Toni Paramore.
Actors Jonathan Elsom and Amelia Kerr treated us to some fine reading of excellent work by Yvette Maurice, Geraldine Star, Susan Beinart and Anne Skyvington. Both Jonathan and Amelia brought the pieces to life and this made for a very enjoyable afternoon.
The writers said they found it most valuable hearing their work read as it brought another perspective to the prose and this was the point of the exercise.
The meeting concluded with tea and fruit cake in the Friends’ Room.
Our next meeting will be held on Sunday August 18.
This will be a word-processing and layout session given by Mr Apostrophe Man. We have booked the theatrette for this meeting as a projector is required.
Gavin Austin Secretary

  The President's Corner

The BWG Short Story Competition closed on Friday the 26th of July. We had a fantastic response with 102 entries! As convenor of the competition I have forwarded all of the entries to the judge. The information about the authors has been removed from the stories so the judge will not know the identity of the authors until the results are published.

We expect the results sometime around mid September.

I'd like to wish all of you who have entered the best of luck and thank you for your support.