Archive for June, 2007


Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

I know the names of most of the dogs at my local park, but I’ve got no idea about most of the owners. Sometimes you see a dog with a different handler to usual, and you just greet the dog – ‘Yo Murphy, walking with dad today are you?’.

The other day I was walking Luffy, and a young couple walked towards us with a tiny, aggressive terrier-type mutt on a lead. Luffy usually bounds all over new dogs, but he approached this one carefully, keeping his body low and letting her smell him. She snarled and nipped at Luffy, but he kept acting submissive and before too long they were sniffing like crazy and even playing a little.

The girl was really grateful that I even let my dog near her little spitfire. “People usually drag their dogs away, they think she’s going to attack them,” she said.

The dog’s name was Vicky, because the couple had found her at the Queen Victoria market a couple of weeks earlier; she seemed to have been abandoned, and she was shivering and being harassed by some stupid teenagers. The young woman insisted on taking her home.

‘The vet says she’s been mistreated, that’s why she’s so aggressive,’ she said.

‘She’s hard work, but I understand where she’s coming from. I was a foster child, and I gave my foster mum a hard time, but she loved me and never gave up on me. And I’m not going to give up on Vicky.’

That’s a lucky dog for you.


Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

In the six months since Women of the Gobi was published, I’ve spoken at my book launch and at a couple of writers festivals, and had one radio interview (Julie McCrossin for Qantas in-flight radio – she was lovely), and recently I addressed the senior assembly at Strathcona, the girl’s school I attended for the last two years of high school.

Guess which was the scariest experience, by far?

Teenage girls are terrifying. And none of them were even born when I was last there.

Before I did the talk, I asked a few friends if they remembered being addressed by ‘old girls’ any time when they were at school, and my friend Bec told me a story that turned my blood cold. A former student talked to her Year 12 class about her life as a fashion model, and how she’d chucked it in to set up some worthy project in the third world, feeding orphans and suchlike.

Afterwards the only thing anyone said was ‘She was a model? She’s not that pretty.’

So there I was with a bunch of teenagers at 8.30 in the morning on a cold winter’s day, what an ideal audience. I thought I’d try to win them over with a few laughs, but I had absolutely no idea what teenage girls would find funny. I was up on the stage with a few teachers sitting behind me, and I could hear them laugh at my jokes, but I could hardly raise a titter from the girls, even when I cracked a killer line about Celine Dion. I don’t think the girls knew who she was.

Lucky them.

At the end of assembly the school captain presented me with a Strathcona mug. I was more excited about this than you might imagine, because it was the very first free thing I’d got as a result of being a published author. Swag!


I went in to Lonely Planet to do some work later in the day, and I took my new mug up to the cafe and boasted about it to Pete the barrista while he poured a perfect long black into it. He looked at the gold rim. ‘Nice of them to give you a mug you can’t put in the dishwasher or microwave,’ he observed.