Welcome to my website with it quirks and quotes, even anecdotes, about life beyond the schoolyard …

I can still quite vividly remember being a five year old sitting cross-legged on the classroom floor, reading out loud to classmates. Then in later years, while other kids were busting to use the latest pastels or paints during “art”, I remember wanting to get back to “writing” poetry or stories, or even learning my times tables - by rote!

So I guess when it comes to the three Rs, while reading and writing may have always been a tad ahead of arithmetic (at least in my opinion), all three have helped me in my working life to take steps forwards, sideways and upwards, and hopefully prevent the topple downwards or backwards. And, although writing my first book involved a slightly different series of steps - some large, some small, and others that didn’t get off the ground – the three Rs were always there by my side helping me slowly flesh out the “theme” for my stories, all loosely based on my experiences of working in offices. Then all of a sudden, with the book under my belt so to speak, I seem to have progressed in leaps and bounds, evolving into a vessel in which truth, hearsay and fiction can (hopefully) accumulate and spill out into blogs and comments … or whatever else comes along in the classroom of life …


A Safari Ride

January 6th, 2014  |  Published in Writing

Admittedly having one of those birthdays ending in a zero, coupled with my first ever skin diving experience at the Great Barrier Reef, last year was somewhat scary; little did I know that I was going to top it one hundred fold, and turn 2013 into one of the scariest years of my life. But, before I tell you the details, I must mention Sooty & Sylvester, because without their recommendation to indulge in an Arabian Adventure, I would never have had that model-like pose (posted earlier in the week) or this story to tell…

It is Dec 30th, and along with another fellow Australian (John from Canberra) we are ready and waiting at the Sheraton when our driver Ravi arrives for our early morning safari adventure. Before we all scramble into the awaiting Landcruiser, Ravi  mentions that anyone over 65 (of which there is one, but who will remain nameless) will be required to sign a waiver later on in case of any pre-existing medical conditions. He also adds that there will be other safety details to go over when the “group” gets together.

John hops into the front passenger seat, Allan and I hop into the middle-back seats and introduce ourselves to a young couple (Emma and Duncan from Yorkshire) already occupying the very back seats. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, we lunge into the Dubai traffic.

“Hope you didn’t have a big breakfast this morning?” Ravi calls out from what still seems to me to be the passenger side of the car.

Emma confesses that she and Duncan had overindulged in cocktails the previous evening, while the rest of us confess that we hadn’t overindulged in our prepaid unlimited buffet breakfast.

Thankfully Ravi fumbles with the radio dial to replace the doof doof with something a little more subdued, but what a shame that the nine o’clock news is in English.

“Most road fatalities in 2013 were due to lane changing, speed and inattentive driving …” comes over the Dubai airwaves. Emma and I exchange fervent glances as we start to weave and swerve into the left and right hand lanes – without indicators. What other traffic?

Unfortunately the danger factor gets worse as we leave the city streets, because we now have the speed/tailgating contingent to contend with as Ravi throws his hands up in the air while boasting about the biggest and best of this and that. We are all strangely quiet and grim faced, even Allan.

Miraculously we reach the camel farm in one piece, but not before we scream into the sandy area doing wheelies to get along side what soon turns out to be our “convoy”. We wait while the air is let out of the tyres, and suddenly I decide it’s time for me to let out some air.

“Are you going to drive like that … you know …  over the sand?” I ask Ravi “because if you are, I’m going to stay put right here.”

“Oh no mam, you’ll be very, very safe with us … we are very, very experienced. And, we do have plenty of drinking water and sick bags in case you need them.”

I am not convinced, but I accept that I probably don’t have a choice. However, I still have one more pressing question.

“Are they any toilets along the way?” I ask, dreading the thought of a full bladder added into the mix.

“Sorry, there are no toilets mam.  It’s probably best you go now behind the sand dunes over there … but don’t worry … I’ll take you myself” he adds, before making a public announcement to the whole group to see if anyone else needs a toilet break. There are no other takers, so I clamber in the front seat next to Ravi and off we go up and over and down the dunes.

All this bouncing around is not exactly helping the cause, but suddenly my own personal safari ride stops and it’s up to me to find a suitable place to squat in the sand (thank God for yoga), even though I’m somewhat hindered by  a long scarf, a long top, and tight pants. However, I must add here, that this position does help one to get “well-emptied” as it were, and I feel almost human as I jump in next to Ravi ready to rejoin the awaiting six other Arabian Adventure 4WD for our dune buggying adventure. And now the really scary part begins…

“Why do we need to travel in a convoy?”  Duncan asks, in his thick Yorkshire accent.

“It’s safer this way” our driver explains. “You know, in case someone gets into …” But the rest of his answer is lost as we slip and slide towards the bottom of a dune, gazing ahead in amazement at the size of the one ahead of us.

“He’ll really have to gun it to get up here” says Allan, as though that’s going to make me feel much better. In fact, it has the reverse affect, and I want to get out and run to join the wild deer wandering the dunes. But no. It looks like I’m stuck with as I witness the 4WD directly in front, jump about a metre into the air. Not surprisingly we follow suit, crashing over the top before coming  to a screaming halt at the bottom. Was that Emma or Duncan’s head smashing into the roof, or was it the chassis completely collapsing beneath us? Fortunately Emma’s squeal assures me she’s still alive, and seeing we’re moving again, I assume the body of the vehicle is at least partially intact.

“I think it best to keep your eyes shut” Emma suggests as sand covers the windscreen before falling back from whence it came. I take Emma’s advice only to find that it doesn’t make a scrap of difference, and immediately go back to my own self-preservation strategy – pretending that our 4WD is NOT doing the same as the ones out in front. And somehow it works!

Suddenly the vehicle directly ahead stops on a strange angle, and as we swerve to the side to miss sand flying in all directions from its spinning wheels, Ravi explains they’re bogged, and that help will need to be called in. I don’t bother to ask what this means, because by now we are crashing over the top of yet another dune,  only to be met by a lonely desert plant directly in our path as we begin our descent.  Once again, sand shoots up and over the whole windscreen, but miraculously (after a major leap to the side) we remain upright, and to give credit where it’s due, I must admit that Ravi’s ability to stop a complete roll-over here is amazing. And thus, while we continue to lurch and perch randomly across the dunes, I continue to pretend that the crashing and crunching isn’t as bad as it seems, although when we pass a little kid from another 4WD vomiting into a sick bag, perhaps I am not quite so sure.

Eventually we come to another screaming halt, but this time Ravi says that we are alighting so we can take some photos.  Although my plan had been to take photos along the way, how could one hold a camera as well as gripping a rail, the seat in front, etcetera? Nevertheless, we now have the chance to snap away to our heart’s content, and Allan takes the aforementioned photo. We also have a chance to kind of re-adjust ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally, for the next part of the journey…

“Make sure you fasten your seat belts” (as if we needed to be told!) Ravi reminds us before we take off again in leaps and bounds for the next session of skimming above, and across the ridges of high dunes, middle-sized dunes, and baby-sized dune; that is, until we reach a substantial clearing with a flock of ibex. Ravi lets us know it’s time for more photos as well as a refreshment stop. We have the choice of water or soft-drink, but we opt to share the latter as Allan admits that he’s not feeling the best. Funnily enough, this makes me feel a lot better and at last I think I’ve got my head around the whole thing. Well almost.

“How much longer long to go?” I overhear John ask.

“Oh, we’ve finished the main bit” Ravi replies.

“Thank God” John says, and quietly admits to me that he’s had enough. Whew! Now I don’t feel half the scaredy cat I thought I was. Well that is, until I hop back in for the trip back to civilisation, and the lane swapping, madness starts again … and my memory returns.

“What’s the speed limit?” I finally ask Ravi. We all learn that in Dubai, 80kms means 100kms, 100kms means 120kms, and 120kms means 140kms. And yes, the latter is us!! Not surprisingly we choose to ignore this revelation, and somehow our tongues now loosened, we non-drivers begin to chat about anything that will take our minds off the vehicle we are tailgating – at no more than half a car length! We discuss the cost of living, the price of houses, the demise of Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, the rise and fall of Maggie Thatcher, and the inevitable position David Cameron faces in his minority government.

Finally the speed lessens, but the lane-weaving remains until we arrive on the doorstop of a hotel.  I turn around to say goodbye to Emma and Duncan, but they are already getting out from Allan’s side. Oh my God, it’s not our hotel, and we still have to endure another five minutes of you know what!

I politely shake Ravi’s hand as we clamber out, but I am not perhaps overly gracious. Nevertheless, there is an “upside” to all this – it completely cured my jetlag, and in case you’re wondering, we never did get that “safety talk” or glimpse the “waiver form”.  But then who cares? We survived, and it only took a couple of days for the aches and pains to subside, but the story will remain with us forever.

Workplace Bullying

December 8th, 2013  |  Published in Writing

Dominating characters commonly referred to as bullies, have been around since I can remember, yet in my naivety I thought (and hoped) I’d left them behind in the school ground. But alas, I was wrong, and the longer I have been part of the workforce, the more I realise that the adult version of self-glorification Read the full article…

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Hello Mr Lion

October 2nd, 2013  |  Published in Writing

“Hello Mr Lion – how are you tonight?” Jemima says in her very best voice, hoping that Mr Lion will move ever so slightly so she can cross over the bridge to the fairy house. But Mr Lion doesn’t move, so Jemima takes a big breath in and squeezes past him, feeling the touch of Read the full article…

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A Scary Moment

May 7th, 2013  |  Published in Writing

I haven’t really had time to be nervous about my first-ever radio interview, and besides, it’s not going live to air, it’s only going to be recorded. Nevertheless, bumping into Deb O’Callaghan in the passageway is an added bonus. ‘You’ll be just fine’ she says. So off I go, quietly confident that all will be Read the full article…

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De rigueur, par for the course, etcetera

April 18th, 2013  |  Published in Writing

Now while I (along with most baby boomers I suspect) don’t like to admit I’m getting older, I certainly do not consider myself to be getting ancient. And yet, generation X, Y, and whatever the next lot call themselves, may well be correct if they perceive my fumbling with day-to-day 21st Century technology as being Read the full article…

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The Other Side of Publishing a Book

March 27th, 2013  |  Published in Writing

Let me take you back to when I initially unleashed my intention to write about office culture and workplace experiences in my book The Other Side of the Ledger to my friends and family. Although the majority were very supportive, two of my friends’ responses (who both happen to be published authors) took me by Read the full article…

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