Do More Than Pop In to The Pop-up Globe

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On Saturday, I experienced a delightful day – a magical memory day to treasure.

A belated birthday treat from my daughters, Anne and MaryJane, planned months ago, came to fruition as we enjoyed a matinee performance of Othello, at the Pop-up Globe Theatre, an exciting addition to Melbourne’s thriving arts scene.

This full-scale working replica of Shakespeare’s Second Globe Theatre started to ‘pop up’ in July in the newly christened Shakespeare Gardens adjacent to the Sydney Myer Music Bowl.

A huge thank you to Victoria’s Andrews Government, a great supporter of art and culture for enticing this fantastic enterprise to Melbourne. It is an outstanding success. The season, which started on September 21 to finish November 12, has been extended to January 12, 2018.

This mirrors the success of its New Zealand origins, when it opened in Auckland in 2016 and celebrated attendances of 100,000, including 20,000 school students.

The second season in Auckland garnered 100,000 attendees too and public calls for it to be a permanent feature. Thank goodness they had already committed to coming to Melbourne!

program pop up theatre

 

The Pop-up Globe Theatre Company Making History

If you buy the program, you can read all about the history of the venture, the original Globe and The Second Globe Theatre, the research involved, the director’s interpretation of the four plays performed (Othello, As You Like It, Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing), profiles of the actors, and details of the production team, including costuming and choreography.

My love affair with Shakespeare began at Croydon High School, where I was fortunate to be taught by Dr Saffin. How a public high school managed to retain a Doctor of Literature and respected writer is a mystery but under his influence, Shakespeare’s plays not only made sense but inspired me to want to write.

It doesn’t take much imagination for me to be back in the classroom in 1970, mesmerised as Dr Saffin acted out scenes from the plays we were studying at the time: Hamlet and The Tempest. He taught me English Expression as well as English literature so I had a double dose of Shakespeare in the classes with Macbeth studied too.

Dr Saffin had a bad stutter and warned students not to sit in the front desks or they’d get sprayed but miraculously when he was ‘in character’ his stutter disappeared.

He not only nurtured my love of Shakespeare but made me sit an exam run by the Melbourne Shakespeare Society at Melbourne University. I can’t remember the actual exam (blocked out no doubt because I always suffered horrible anxiety and exam nerves) but I do remember the announcement of the results and prize-giving.

Mum, who always had a profound faith in my academic ability insisted that the ‘only reason’ I came second was the judge was biased towards boys.

‘I don’t think so, Mum. What makes you say that?’

‘I just know the way the world works.’

My ever-loyal Mum, sounding like an embittered women’s liberationist yet she never read Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch just published that year.

Dr Saffin told me I did well against the mainly private school and elite public school entries but somehow I felt I let both Mum and him down.

However, I loved the prize, a book I’d never have been able to afford and a resource that has proved invaluable over the years for writing and research and my love for Shakespeare has never diminished!

The Play’s The Thing – Shakespeare On Stage A Must

In 1970, I saw Shakespeare’s The Tempest performed at a Melbourne theatre with the cast dressed in black with minimum props and no scenery. We were to concentrate on the words and actions of the actors.

I’ve lost count of the number of versions of Hamlet I’ve seen.  The latest being the broadcast of the National Theatre with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role. And of course, ‘that Scottish play’, Macbeth I’ve seen performed, and Much Ado About Nothing set in the 1920s.

When John was alive, we honoured our mutual love of Shakespeare by attending the Bell Shakespeare productions, his favourite being Henry V.

Bell Shakespeare set their version in the WW1 trenches where the St. Crispen’s Day Speech certainly kept its relevance.

Bell set Coriolanus in the time of the rise of Mussolini – again an ideal modern day choice to discuss Shakespeare’s recurring themes of war, power, loyalty and leadership.

The girls were very young when first exposed to Shakespeare but have never forgotten the spectacles and understood the storylines, if not the dialogue. I think that’s why they were so keen to experience the Pop-up Globe.

 

I will wear my heart upon my sleeve For Othello

I’ve seen or studied many of Shakespeare’s plays but Saturday was the first I’d seen Othello on stage and loved the amazing, energetic, and entertaining performance by an outstanding cast.

O beware, my Lord, of jealousy. / It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock / The meat it feeds on.”

Witness Shakespeare’s ultimate psychological thriller in Pop-up Globe’s production of Othello. Take a journey into the diseased mind of the noble Moor as he’s consumed by ‘the green-eyed monster’; jealousy. The twists and turns in this powerful and dark production will have you on the edge of your seat.

An electric current of joy bound the girls and me as we sat enthralled. We laughed, sighed, held our breaths and teetered on the verge of tears to the thrilling performances and interpretation of a storyline showing the terrible consequences of jealousy and the despair malevolent envy fosters.

Director, Ben Naylor has incorporated the background of the original production and subsequent productions in colonial New Zealand to hint at ‘a darker side to the history of this play about otherness in a colonial context. ‘

Naylor explains that Othello was the first play to be written under King James’ patronage so Shakespeare recognised the King’s ‘interests in the manifestations of worldly evil and the operations of the Devil…’

And now: as nationalism and its attendant demons – racism and xenophobia – again insinuate themselves into mainstream political discourse worldwide, and as the choices of individuals and societies continue to be driven by envy and jealousy, the play asks us once more to confront the lies that sound like truth.

Oh, yes!

This is why I love Shakespeare and why he is still studied and always relevant. He writes about the human condition and explores our behaviour and relationships. His plays are timeless and can be transplanted into modern settings, appropriated, and adapted into novels and movies.

… one that loved not wisely but too well

The International Day of the Girl Child celebrated this week brings into focus issues raised by Shakespeare all those centuries ago. The two main female characters: Desdemona and Emilia are powerless against the physical, emotional and financial control their husbands exercise. The women are friends, even although one is the mistress, the other the servant, however, they live by different moral codes.

This production does not shy away from depicting domestic violence or the consequences of drunkenness and other violence. And society’s hypocrisy.

We witness how those in power enable the subjugation of women and the double standards of so many regarding ideas of ‘womanhood’.

 ‘Thou weigh’st thy words before thou givest them breath…’

All of Shakespeare’s plays you read or watch remind you of how much our language and culture owes to this playwright. Some of the words and ideas may not have been his original thought but because of the popularity of his plays the phrases are embedded in our language, adding to the nuances of English.

No wonder many ESL students have difficulty understanding some of our expressions.

I’ve already highlighted some of the quotes from Othello but list some more cultural references. These may have been altered over the centuries but nonetheless, have Shakespearean roots:

jealousy; It is the green-ey’d monster,

…Jealousy is a monster that gives birth to itself.

… Heaven is my judge, I will wear my heart upon my sleeve

my heart is turn’d to stone

Of one that loved not wisely but too well;

… T’is neither here nor there.

To mourn a mischief that is past and gone is the next way to draw new mischief on.

Men in rage strike those that wish them best.

Our bodies are our gardens, to which our wills are gardeners:

...he that filches from me my good name, Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed…

When devils do the worst sins, they first put on the pretence of goodness and innocence…

To be poor but content is actually to be quite rich. But you can have endless riches and still be as poor as anyone if you are always afraid of losing your riches.” 

Pop-up Globe Better Than Expected

In London recently, I missed going to The Globe – I did but see it passing by – from a ferry on the Thames, so attending the Pop-up Globe a dream come true. In fact, if the attendant manning the merchandise stall is to be believed the Pop-up Globe is more authentic than the one in London. (Read all about it in that valuable program guide I mentioned.)

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The Pop-up Globe is intimate with a variety of seating options and despite my failing hearing, I only missed a few words but none of the meaning or action.

No matter where you sit or stand in the Pop-up Globe theatre you will be no more than 15 metres from the stage. So wherever you choose you’ll be close to the action.

Pop-up Globe is based on staging of the second Globe theatre as much as possible. There are two large structural pillars situated on the stage and because the actors play in 360 degrees, it is likely that no matter where you sit or stand your view may be slightly restricted or you may miss a line or two!

The action on stage moves quickly so no matter where you are situated you might see and hear something completely different from someone on the other side of the stage.

Apparently, A, B, C Reserve tickets are comfortable backed seats. The girls’ budget bought D Reserve tickets, which are a combination of comfortable backed seats and backless wooden benches with cushions.

We had a good view but sat on wooden benches with cushions already showing signs of too many bums on seats, so if you need to sit super comfortably perhaps take your own cushion.

The cheapest tickets are Groundling tickets in a standing only area, where sitting is not permitted for safety reasons. Nor are any bags and these have to be checked into the cloakroom.

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The play goes for two and a half hours with a short interval.

This is around the same length of time that most performances took 400 years ago. We know this because in Romeo and Juliet, the Prologue mentions the ‘two hours traffic of our stage’.

If you decide to be a Groundling you will be close to the action and actors, which may not compensate for having to stand for a long time.

One young man in a blue denim shirt fascinated me as he pressed so close to the stage he could have been welded to it. Immobile, his nose level with the stage floor, he would have heard every intake of breath, felt the vibration of footsteps, and even seen the hairs in the actor’s nose!

However, he moved with lightning speed when Othello stabbed himself and the fake blood spurted skywards and outwards like lava from a volcano. Outside after the play, there were several people with telltale red spots in their hair, on their face and clothes. The price paid for being close to the action.

Groundlings on either side of the path and stairway to the stage experienced a similar spattering and in some cases drenching when Roderigo appeared ‘from the sea’ spluttering and spitting like a whale (a very funny scene).

Roderigo regurgitated the largest amount of water I’ve ever seen anyone hold in their mouth, albeit done with aplomb and excellent timing.

Fortunately, no one in the audience replicated disgruntled tomato throwers from Shakespeare’s time despite Pop-up Globe’s authenticity.

Groundlings are ‘the pits’ for the common folk but there are Royal Rooms on the Pop-up Globe stage. I could see the occupants of these clearly.

Each accommodates up to six guests. Seats can be booked individually, as a romantic room for two or as a private room for a larger group. “All sixteen seats can be booked as a perfect option for entertaining clients or friends.”

Perhaps some corporates will see this as a unique Christmas outing – if they have a large expense account!

Royal Room bookings include a complimentary premium hamper and a
season programme per person. But it’s not cheap to copy Elizabeth or James 1st, the two monarchs most closely associated with Shakespeare. ($304.67 per seat.)

Othello is one of Shakespeare’s greatest psychological thrillers. In a theatre of war, a great general is brought down by the power of his own love and the prejudice of others.

Othello forces us to confront a timeless fear: does the Devil move among us? Racism, jealousy and envy conspire in Shakespeare’s dark tragedy, in this full production inspired by the Jacobean period, performed by a specially-formed international ensemble in spectacular bespoke costumes.

The Pop-up Globe Queen’s Company is Pop-up Globe’s resident mixed company of male and female actors and musicians, working with world experts to bring you the shock of the old: the effect of Shakespeare’s plays performed in the space for which they were written.

 

The stagecraft of this production is magnificent, as are the costumes and the final scenes are awesome. The main character is Othello, but it is Iago, the villain, who if not present in every scene, makes his presence felt.

The themes of love, appearance and reality, jealousy, revenge, prejudice and despair, exposed and explored in the final dramatic scenes.

When Iago’s villainy is revealed and he is ‘strung up’ the whole theatre is shocked. There is a collective holding of breath and I felt the tension from Anne and Mary Jane, and I’m sure all of us prayed the workmanship and health and safety guidelines met expectations.

Iago was carefully pulled up towards a hole in the ceiling, his arms outstretched crucifixion style, not just symbolically, but to ensure the hoist went smoothly. Smoke allowed a mystic disappearance into ‘the heavens’ and when he was ‘resurrected’ in the final scene he was helped out of a trapdoor in the floor as if brought back from ‘hell’!

The wonderfully choreographed dance of all the cast at the end a triumphant celebratory ‘haka -like’ tribute. Regan Taylor is a great Othello incorporating his experience of innovative Maori theatre, Te Ao Maori in his performance.

The actors used all of the space and opportunities to engage the audience – even acknowledging those ‘in the gods’, the privileged Royal Boxes, as well as the groundlings.

scene 5

Shakespeare must be seen and heard to be appreciated. A play on stage, more than the screen, relies on dialogue and how the actors use the stage, props, their bodies and voices.

In Saturday’s performance, there were no weak links and even the ignominious cast members with titles ‘officer’ and ‘soldier’ contributed unforgettable performances as they immersed themselves in the roles.

The range of experience and talent of the actors helps make this production such a success and I can honestly say it’s the best Shakespearean experience I’ve had.

The season has been extended so perhaps if I hint loud enough I might manage a ticket to another play in this marvellous company’s repertoire.  Afterall, Christmas is on the horizon!

globe quote mug

A walk through the Queen Victoria Gardens, lunch at the National Gallery.

Then a fun and successful attempt to negotiate the maze at the House of Mirrors added to my birthday treat.  I would probably still be wandering but the girls got us out in 10 minutes.

On the way home to Anne’s flat for a cuppa and to pick up MaryJane’s car, we walked through the Alma Park.

As we delighted in spring buds, blooming flowers, lush greenery and numerous friendly dogs being walked by their owners, we reflected on the tragedy of gentle, spiritual Desdemona and anguished Othello.

We were glad of the durability of Shakespeare, but more importantly our strong loving bond.

What a perfect day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Flash Fiction Helps Editing Skills and Is Flashing Good Fun!

Words should be an intense pleasure, just as leather should be to a shoemaker. If there isn’t that pleasure for a writer, maybe he ought to be a philosopher.    

Evelyn Waugh, The New York Times, November 19, 1950

The difference between the almost-right word and the right word is really a large matter–it’s the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.      

Mark Twain, letter to George Bainton, October 15, 1888

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Flash fiction is defined as fiction that is brief – perhaps only a thousand words,  fifty to  hundred words, or even less than that because we now have Twitter stories where writers only use 140 characters!

This short form of storytelling requires skill and imagination. No time to be wasted on exposition, just delve straight to the ‘flashpoint’ of a story and intrigue the reader. Strunk and White’s classic The Elements of Style advises, ‘The habitual use of the active voice…makes for forcible writing.’ Flash fiction encourages the use of active voice so that’s another incentive to ‘have a go’ and write some.

Twitter Flash Fiction
Mairi Neil

The boat circled the reef. Ted floated silently, his knife wound leaking blood. Annie waited for the hungry pointer to make her single again.

Sam and Kara snuggled into their sleeping bags. They loved the peacefulness of the Australian Outback. As did the death adder in their tent.

Moonlight glittered on the dirt mound. Helen shivered. The shadowy figure crunched on the bones. How to stop the labrador’s midnight feasts?

There are even six word short stories based on a legend about Ernest Hemingway accepting a bet he could make people cry in a six word story. The classic he’s believed to have produced: For sale: Baby Shoes. Never worn.

Check out efforts by other famous authors: http://www.sixwordstories.net/category/author/famous-authors/

Have fun trying this in different genres. My attempts pretty ordinary:

Bus driver faints. Passengers can’t drive
Urgent coded message; an enigma still.
Sacked today. Started blogging, became famous.
Door opens. Shots fired. Wrong address!
Tall, handsome. Personality of a doorstop.

The spacecraft landed. Her novel reality.

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Writing is exploring and experimentation. I began writing very short fiction in the late 80s early 90s in response to a daily newspaper’s request for 55 word short stories. I concentrated on having a surprise twist at the end or punchline – a bit like a joke. Members of Mordialloc Writers’ Group, including me were thrilled when our stories were published. We won fountain pens, handbags, movie tickets – and the newspaper filled a column on their entertainment page.

Stalking Fear
Mairi Neil
Footsteps echoed. Helen looked around; scurried towards home. Fear flitted across her face. She shivered and gathered her coat closer with trembling fingers. A stumble on the cobblestones and she clutched her handbag against her chest; glanced over her shoulder. Was she still being followed? A scream rent the air. ‘Cut!’ The director, not happy. (55words)

What a Fright
Mairi Neil
Margaret stared at the middle-aged woman. How could she have left the house like that? She shook her head in amazement at the spare tyre around the midriff, the peppered grey hair, creased face, and eyes sagging with dark bags. The beige top and daggy track pants so unflattering. How she hated shopping centre mirrors!  (55words)

Sad Farewell
Mairi Neil
He choked back tears and sniffed as he placed a rose on her fresh grave. He thought of all the years they’d spent together. Poor hardworking Maisie, dead far too soon. He knew her pregnancy was a mistake. What would they do without her? He sobbed as he watched her puppies scrabble at the earth. (55words)

Cruise Away
Mairi Neil
‘It’s certainly been a holiday to remember,’ said Lily.
‘Yes,’ agreed Jack, as he draped an affectionate arm around his wife’s shoulders. ‘Although, a bit too warm for my liking.’
‘And for me,’ whispers Lily, snuggling closer to Jack.
The elderly couple settled themselves into the lifeboat and watched the burning cruise ship slowly sink.

Ward Duty
Mairi Neil
‘The room is jinxed. For days whoever occupies this bed is dead by morning – despite the full life support system.’
‘They are always all right at change of shift each morning, doctor.’
Meanwhile, the new cleaner muttered again about the unnecessarily long chord on the vacuum cleaner when there was a powerpoint by every bed.

Last year I responded to a request for fiction to make a zine and students in my classes took up the challenge to write stories between 100-200 words, or less. We published our zines and distributed them in the community houses, but they also appeared at a special zine fair in Canberra at a workshop devoted to flash fiction.

Nightwatch
Mairi Neil
Figures in black crept across the roof while others edged up the street and positioned themselves in nearby gardens.‘Ready?’ he whispered into the microphone.
‘All in position, Sir,’ came the reply.
‘Go! Go! Go!’ he commanded.
The SWAT team attacked number 16 Bailey Street.The family within killed on sight. Meanwhile, the terrorist cell at number 61 heard the commotion and fled unharmed.

Wrong Number
Mairi Neil
‘What the?’ Linda froze in the doorway; her eyes darting around the room. She twisted and checked the hotel corridor, green eyes returning to stare at the ringing phone by the bedside. She had told no one she’d be here.
Fear crept from her stomach into her throat as the insistent buzz blocked the muted sounds of traffic from the city. She was conscious of chiming as the lift to the tenth floor worked overtime with a tour group. The phone continued to ring.
Probably Reception; they’ve forgotten to tell me something.
She hurried over and snatched up the receiver, ‘hello!’ Her eyes drawn like a magnet to the high-rise opposite –– the glint of something metallic.
She heard the shattering of glass, but didn’t feel the bullet from the assassin’s rifle.

Ritual Farewell
Mairi Neil
I watch the dark silhouette in the moonlight; listen as the heavy breathing transforms the still night air. He paces the backyard before stopping beside the vegetable garden. How clever! The mound of soil quickly grows as he prepares the ground for burial. Each night, the same ritual as next-door’s dog chooses a new spot to bury his bones.

Disaster Strikes
Mairi Neil
The low growl became a loud rumble. The ground shifted. Celia’s shaking matched the floor’s shudder. She lurched and grasped a nearby handrail; her fear mirrored in other people’s eyes. She struggled to stay upright. The terror ended abruptly and she breathed a sigh of relief. Holding her children close she said, ‘Don’t ask me to visit Scienceworks again,’ as she stepped off the earthquake simulator.

Flash fiction may be a rigid word limit, but it also is experimental, cross-genre and may even be obscure like some poetry. This is a great exercise for writers and students of writing. I’ve researched and participated in competitions such as writing on a postcard, one page, or a story to be read in 30 seconds or a minute – even mini-novels for a mobile phone screen. For all things flash fiction check out Flash Fiction World.

Hard Labour
Mairi Neil

She stands on the cliff’s edge buffeted by the southwesterly and drops her hands to her side and sighs. No sign of John’s ship. She rubs her belly just as the baby somersaults. You must be a boy! Mary clings to a scrawny birch tree; pulls her shawl tighter around thin shoulders as waves crash below. Thunderous explosions against jagged rocks. Seagulls squeal and wheel overhead, their beady eyes forever seeking food. A proud gannet immobile on the biggest rock, points its beak seawards as if it too waits for sails to appear.
Mary inhales the sweetness of the heather, tastes salty spray as the wind gusts. A bank of clouds unfurl like a grey blanket and the first drops of rain dampen her skin. The horizon black as the once blue sea bubbles sending molten steel waves roaring towards land. Is John’s ship caught in that maelstrom?
The impatient life she carries heaves again. Tears sting her face. The gannet flies skywards, a black spectre. Sea gulls screech, vultures circling. Mary closes her eyes to ride out the waves of pain, grips her ringless finger and wishes she had listened to her mother.

Revenge is Sweet
Mairi Neil

‘I’m not staying in this dump for a whole week.’
Gina stared at Bob’s flushed face and flinched as he slammed the wardrobe door. ‘I told you last night your tricks don’t work with me.’
She watched her fiancé cram clothes into his holdall. ‘What tricks?’ Her voice remained calm. ‘Pardon me for thinking you’d enjoy being alone with me. No distractions. Just the two of us. Undisturbed.’
Bob snorted and waved his arms at the window. ‘A bloody owl hooting all night, frogs croaking, and a twittering cacophony at dawn. Give me a noisy resort any day.’
‘Well, I’m not leaving the cabin.’
‘Fine – I’ll come back for you in a week.’
And he was gone.
Gina went to the woodpile with her coffee and sat on the tarpaulin covering the Holden’s spare wheel. She soaked up the sun, smiled, and checked her watch. The tyre would be flat when he reached Kangaroo Gully. She’ll prepare his favourite lunch soon. The forty minute walk uphill good sauce for Bob’s appetite.

Colour My World
Mairi Neil

Martin’s tongue protruded between thin lips, a pink dot of concentration. Blue eyes danced from paint palette to easel. Just like his father, Elaine thought, as she watched Martin dab and daub, sweep and slide. The paintbrush looking too big for six-year-old hands. The square of butcher’s paper soon filled with colourful blobs and strokes. ‘Jackson Pollock eat your heart out,’ Elaine whispered and smiled at Martin’s effort for the school art competition. She remembered Tom’s pride at the birth of their son. ‘Hope he has my talent for painting and your way with words.’
Tears gathered. The car accident had robbed her of Tom and left Martin severely disabled. Thank goodness she had discovered this school and new therapies. Martin had spoken his first word yesterday and if he can hold a paintbrush, a pen will follow.

Fear of the Dark
Mairi Neil

A beep like a balloon popping confirms the Mazda has locked. I hurry towards the lift. Is that other footsteps, or the echo of mine? The few yards seem to double.Why are the lights flickering?
The agent boasted the car park’s electronic gates made it ‘as safe as houses’. I hold my breath. Listen. The lights flicker off. I freeze. My chest hurts.
Oil stains on the concrete morph into sinister shapes. What if I trip? Bump into a parked car? I imagine the concrete pillars, plumbing and air-conditioning pipes crisscrossing the ceiling, ‘safe as houses’ he said.
The electric generator crackles, but was that a metallic click as if someone dropped a key? My bladder throbs, legs tremble. A scream gathers in my throat. The lights flicker on. The elevator’s silver doors shine like a beacon.
I stumble on a raised edge of concrete. Hands flail but I avoid falling. Laughing at my clumsiness I reach the lift just as the lights die with a bang. The lift doors refuse to open. I breathe deeply and inhale the acrid smell of cigarette smoke. ‘Who’s there?’ I stutter.

If you give yourself a word limit you have a clear indication of the maximum length of a piece of work and how much detail should go into the piece. Writing to a set word limit is an acquired and valuable skill and who knows where it might lead? Usually, I know how I want the short story to end before I begin – have that punchline or ‘ah ah’ moment in your mind and write to it.

Job Satisfaction
Mairi Neil

Jones hummed and secured the specimen jar into his briefcase. He smoothed the surgical gloves before checking the protective covers on his shoes and picking his way around the murderer’s flat, careful not to leave traces of his visit.
How he loved this job: the precision, planning, collating evidence and risk taking. New technologies made it more challenging and exciting. A random hair on a pillow or in a plughole, a scrape of skin or blood on furniture, a cigarette butt. Any pining for the old police ways of getting a conviction by intimidation compensated by the thrill of planting evidence.

Cultivating the Future
Mairi Neil

Tim checked Wikipedia and tackled James when he arrived home from college. ‘That’s a marijuana plant you’ve got in your room!’
James paled, ‘Is it? I’m looking after it for a friend.’
‘Yeah right! Never thought my son would get into drugs.’
Defiant, James jutted his jaw, ‘it’s legal – for personal use.’
‘One plant can lead to many,’ said Tim, ‘especially one as healthy as yours.’
‘I just want to save money,’ muttered James.
‘You need to make money, son.’
‘What do you mean?’
Tim’s lips twisted wryly, ‘I’ve just been made redundant. Let’s plant an income.’

A Fishy Tale
Mairi Neil

Martin couldn’t believe the judges announcement, that bastard Bill had won the Angler’s prize. Bill strode to the podium to collect the $1000 cheque. Martin seethed. It wasn’t about the money. He looked at his son and saw disappointment etched on the ten-year-old’s face. He had assured the boy their 5kg Bass would win.
The local newspaper insisted everyone gather around the winner for a photograph displaying their catch alongside Bill’s 6kg giant. Salt rubbed into a fresh wound.
On the crowded podium, Pete pulled at Martin’s arm. ‘He’s a cheat Dad.’
‘We don’t have to smile, son,’ Martin whispered to Pete, ‘but we can’t be sore losers.’
‘But Dad… he stole that fish.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Look at the mark on its side.’
Martin peered at the unusual scar on Bill’s fish. Pete was right. It was one of the Bass from the Aquarium. Father and son grinned as they planned how to spend the cheque and Bill was charged with burglary as well as cheating.

Many writing professions like copywriting and marketing demand short succinct attention-grabbing and memorable ‘stories’, but so do other professions. The writing on captions for exhibits in museums and art galleries, brochures for businesses, book reviews, and a variety of academic tasks or small business needs – the fewer words you use to leave an impression on a reader, the better. And this all takes practice. Have some fun!

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”
Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, 1865.