Following the success of his first novel, The Tramp, I am pleased to announce the publication of Michael’s second tome. Those who have read The Tramp will recall the enigmatic (deceased) character, Ned Brandscombe, or Uncle Ned as he was known to Samantha and Nicky. (Those who haven’t read it really should). Old Ned’s Secret turns back the clock to share the moment of revelation of a long held secret to 16 year old Samantha.
A further ten short stories, arising from the fecund imagination of the author, fill the pages between the covers. Each tale, plumbed from the depths of memories, dreams and personal experiences, is a tantalising fusion of suspense and humour. The lyrics of Michael’s musical composition, The Transit of Venus, complete the book with a thought provoking epilogue.
Old Ned’s Secret: AND OTHER TALL TALES is available in paperback or Kindle through Amazon in your country.
Having experienced the spectacle of Hobbiton, as well as myriad locations featured in The Lord of the Rings movie, our trip to new Zealand wouldn’t have been complete without a tour of Wētā Workshop. The company, based in Wellington, is the creative home of special effects and props, and they have been producing sets, costumes, armour, weapons and creatures for television and film since 1987. Sneaking past the huge stone trolls cavorting on the lawns
we made it through the Hobbit door entrance.
There was no shortage of memorabilia in the gift shop
and I wondered what was lurking under the loincloth of Lurtz.
The first part of the tour led us on a discovery of miniature effects including real television shooting stages for Thunderbirds Are Go! I remember the original TV series in the 1960s and couldn’t pass up the chance to ride up front with Virgil Tracy in Thunderbird 2.
We were then taken on a fascinating journey through the creation of props, costumes and creatures for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Photography was only allowed in designated areas throughout the tour, hence the absence thereof. At the end of the tour, we were ushered into a room, seemingly guarded by a life size figure of Orc-lord, Azog.
Here we met special effects artist, Warren Beaton, his appearance the epitome of a mad professor.
Various heads kept watch from above
as he demonstrated his expertise of making prototypes using tin foil and a spoon.
I’m sure it’s not as easy as he made it look, the results are remarkable.
With a fond farewell to Bert (stone trolls need love, too) we headed off in search of sustenance before our next adventure.
Last year, I shared the escapades of a friend’s ‘Elf on the Shelf’, and while searching through my meagre collection of Christmas decorations, I found a little smiling face waiting patiently to come out and play. With no children in the household, I decided to have some fun surprising Michael each morning. Elf’s initial attempt to stowaway to a business breakfast meeting was met with much mirth and, in case there was a misunderstanding that this was an isolated incident, he appeared the next day in Michael’s cereal bowl.
He became trapped when the toilet lid came down on him unexpectedly and, on a particularly cold morning, tried to warm up on the toaster.
More strife in the bathroom as he messed about with the toilet roll, so he sought solace with KitKat in the pantry.
He just couldn’t stay away from the bathroom, though, finding dental floss doesn’t make a great yo-yo, and his exploits in the office didn’t end well (kids, don’t try this at home).
The kitchen enticed him back to help with the morning cuppa, and he found the dog biscuits to be a very tasty treat.
Venturing further afield, he got stuck in the chook food dispenser before returning to the safety of the lounge to watch an early soccer game.
Exhausted by his nocturnal shenanigans, Elf found a couple of options to take it easy and recuperate.
There was another failed bid to join the business breakfast meeting by hiding in the car, so he returned to the pantry to await the next days porridge.
He put all his strength into squeezing the toothpaste tube, and enjoyed some gymnastics on the towel rail.
Hoping to go for a walk with Michael & Poppy, he waited in the gumboots for the right moment. The dining room light was easier to get into than out of.
A rather uncomfortable night in the wardrobe, and back to the kitchen to, once again, help with breakfast.
It was almost time for Elf to leave again, but not before a few tunes on the cigar-box guitar. Finally, on Christmas Eve morning, he prematurely pulled a cracker to celebrate his time with us.
I hope you all enjoyed your silly season and wish you good times and good health in 2022. Hopefully, fun will replace fear in the not too distant future, perhaps it could be made mandatory?
Two years ago, we attended the opening of the biennial Ten Days on the Island festival on the beach at Devonport. This year, we gathered just before dawn, on the pataway/Burnie foreshore to celebrate mapali.
Following a Welcome to Country ceremony, Dave manganeer Gough took us on a journey to the beginning of time and the creation of the first palawa or Tasmanian Aborigine. As the beat of Taiko drums bounced off nearby rocks
we learned that moinee, the great creator, came down the sky bridge, the Milky Way to lutruwitta/Tasmania, collected some soil and ochre and took it back into the sky. There, he formed the first palawa and sent him down the sky bridge back to lutruwitta. Unfortunately, he had legs with no knee joints and the tail of a kangaroo and was unable to sit or lie down.
On hearing the pleas from palawa to help him, moinee sent down his brother, drumadeene the star spirit,
who cut off his tail, rubbing animal fat into the wound for healing and gave him knee joints.
There was much rejoicing,
fires were lit
and a trio of dancers performed to the beat of more drums.
A penguin rookery inflated in front of the drummers
and the penguins cavorted on the sand before retreating in fear from the humans.
Another story followed, that of a young warrior, niyakara, who leaves his village to hunt tara/kangaroo. He sees the village women collecting maireener shells at the water’s edge
and three warriors he doesn’t recognise are watching them.
Assuming they are up to no good, niyakara gives chase but their running strides become bounces and the three transform into kangaroos and bound away.
Three large flags, signifying the strong connection of the palawa and tara, fluttered in the light breeze
as the fires diminished and celebrations came to an end.
A few days later, we visited Makers’ Workshop to see the exhibition, Making mapali. Hundreds of artists and collaborators, along with Goldberg Aberline Studio, worked for months to bring the event to life, it was fascinating to see the detail and hours of work involved. Community participants developed abstract sketches inspired by the night sky for the sky bridge lanterns. The drawings were then digitally overlayed in Photoshop to create the unique Milky Way design.
Even the firesticks are a work of art. Made from paperbark, wattle, native grass, eucalypt leaves, banksia nut, moss and reed pods they were used carry fire, see at night and ward off bad spirits.
The inflatable penguin rookery was most impressive with colours of the rocky North West shoreline, reflection of light across Bass Strait, native grasses and penguin feathers representing an abstract interpretation of the coastline. The Goldberg Aberline Studio hand-painted the circular sample fabrics and enlarged penguin feather, then photographed and printed them onto 500 metres of fabric that has been sewn together and hand-finished.
maireener shells, also known as rainbow kelp shells, are used by Tasmanian Aboriginal women to make traditional necklaces.
The tara flags were created using a similar process to the sky bridge lanterns, combining drawings by students from Parklands High School to express the movement of the tara as well as the transformation of tara to palawa.
Last Friday evening, we attended the premiere screening of Design Eye Creative paper on skin 2020 – The Film. It was wonderful to watch these fabulous garments brought to life on the big screen and to have been a part of the journey. The film can be viewed as a whole or in sections and another presents a forum with the judges explaining their rationale. They can be viewed on the Burnie Arts Council website here, sit back and enjoy.