Hang On

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.


Just hang in there.






Herbert James Draper – Ulysses and the Sirens – 1909

Sing, through me, O muse, the famous story

Of he, the wily wanderer far and wide

Who – after Ilium was lost – did travel

Through distant lands and cities; there to learn

The manners and the mysteries of men.

Though oceans overwhelmed his troubled heart

And waves of sorrow rocked him now and then

All his companions did he not abandon

He found his way, at last, back home again.

Homer –  Odyssey – 1st stanza, retold by me 2017



Muse make the man thy theme, for shrewdness famed

And genius versatile, who far and wide

A Wand’rer, after Ilium overthrown,

Discover’d various cities, and the mind

And manners learn’d of men, in lands remote.

He num’rous woes on Ocean toss’d, endured,

Anxious to save himself, and to conduct

His followers to their home.


Homer – translation by William Cowper, 1791


Henry Fuseli – Odysseus facing the choice between Scylla and Charybdis, 1794/6



Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
of that man skilled in all ways of contending,
the wanderer, harried for years on end,
after he plundered the stronghold
on the proud height of Troy.

He saw the townlands
and learned the minds of many distant men,
and weathered many bitter nights and days
in his deep heart at sea, while he fought only
to save his life, to bring his shipmates home.

Homer – translation by Robert Fitzgerald, 1961


It is never too late to begin an odyssey.

I have poetry in my soul.

Beyond the Dreaming Place

Beyond the dreaming place
I watch from my darkness
All the stars I know
Kiss your head, my love
Beyond the dreaming place

And no backward journey
Nothing’s left of that time
That door is shut forever
Now is the time to move on
Beyond the dreaming place

Tim Harries, Robert Johnson, Peter Knight, Gay Woods



Ode to a Green Potato

O, Humble spud! the immigrant pride of Eire;
Sustenance for mortals, rich or poor.
Fish accompanist and comfort bearer,
Friend to cheese and meat and eggs and more.
Adopted vegetable of the Emerald Isle,
The finest food the world has ever seen!
Yet how the irony doth make me smile,
Thou art so dangerous when thou art green!

© 2017 ARF

O, prátaí íseal! bród imirceach Eire;
bia do dhaoine, saibhir nó bochta.
Éinitheoir agus iompróir chompord,
Cairde le cáise agus feoil agus uibheacha agus níos mó.
Glasraí uchtaithe d’Éirinn,
An bia is fearr a fheiceann an domhan riamh!
Ach conas doth an íoróin a dhéanamh dom aoibh gháire,
Tá tú chomh contúirteach nuair a bhíonn tú glas!

Solanine poisoning is primarily displayed by gastrointestinal and neurological disorders. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps, burning of the throat, cardiac dysrhythmia, nightmares, headache, dizziness, itching, eczema, thyroid problems, inflammation and pain in the joints.

Be aware that a spud can do all that and the green does not always show.

If in doubt, chuck it out.

This has been a public service announcement.

It may be worth repeating that the green does not always show out. Although the conditions that produce solanine are similar to those that produce chlorophyll, the two are not directly related.  Solanine biosynthesis occurs parallel but independent of chlorophyll biosynthesis; each can occur without the other.  Unlike chlorophyll, light is not specifically  necessary for solanine formation but does substantially promote it.  Tropical temperatures, such as we have here in the Kimberley, definitely increase the risk. Greening and solanine production will not occur at lower temperatures, so in the tropics, keeping potatoes in the dark may not be enough. Keep them in the refrigerator.   Snopes claims that it is unlikely you will be made ill by green potatoes.  Other sources I have researched state it is far more likely than most people realise. My opinion has now been swayed towards the latter by bitter experience.

I spent the week in Halls Creek attending a block course for my Cert IV Training and Assessment. I ate with friends each meal, and on Wednesday evening Tika and I both ordered the rump steak with baked potato baked in the skin with sour cream and coleslaw.  That night I was very ill.  I suspected the potato.  I suspected intoxication because the onset of symptoms was very sudden, less than 6 hours after the suspect meal. I suspected the potato because  I had commented at the time on its  texture and an unusual flavour.  I should have known better than to eat it all anyway.  Of the symptoms listed above I suffered 9 out of 14, if you count a rasping cough as burning of the throat. My diagnosis hypothesis is supported, if not confirmed.  I did not take samples for analysis because having no control at either end, I was in the shower until I could safely cough without an equal and opposite reaction.

And let me tell you that the toxin – whatever the source was – made my arthritis more painful by a factor of ten.

The clues I ignored were the soggy texture and slightly translucent appearance of the cooked potato flesh and a vaguely bitter flavour partly masked by sour cream, salt and pepper. Though I commented on it, I did not reject the spud. My mistake. I don’t blame the restaurant. They probably could not tell. The steak was excellent and the coleslaw very good. It was just bad luck.

The good news is that symptoms lasted less than 18 hours. and appear to include anorexia, because I have not eaten very much in the 3 days since.

Stolen Dreams


I don’t know if you can see
The changes that have come over me
In these last few days I’ve been afraid
That I might drift away
So I’ve been telling old stories, singing songs
That make me think about where I came from
And that’s the reason why I seem
So far away today
Oh, but let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia you’re calling me
And now I’m going home
If I should become a stranger
You know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything
I’ve ever had
Oh and I have moved and I’ve kept on moving
Proved the points that I needed proving
Lost the friends that I needed losing
Found others on the way
Oh and I have tried and kept on trying
Stolen dreams yes there’s no denying
I have traveled far with conscience flying
Somewhere with the wind
Oh, but let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia you’re calling me
And now I’m going home
If I should become a stranger
You know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything
I’ve ever had
Now I’m sitting here before the fire
The empty room, the forest choir
The flames that could not get any higher
They’ve withered now they’ve gone
But I’m steady thinking my way is clear
And I know what I will do tomorrow
When the hands are shaken and the kisses flow
Then I will disappear
Oh, but let me tell you that I love you
That I think about you all the time
Caledonia you’re calling me
And now I’m going home
If I should become a stranger
You know that it would make me more than sad
Caledonia’s been everything
I’ve ever had

Dougie MacLean


Outback Spaceman

I’m the outback spaceman, baby; I’ve got speed
I’ve got everything I need
I’m the outback spaceman, baby; I can fly
I’m a supersonic guy

I don’t need pleasure
I don’t feel pain
If you were to knock me down I’d just get up again
I’m the outback spaceman, baby; I’m makin’ out
I’m all about

I wake up every morning with a smile upon my face
My natural exuberance spills out all over the place
I’m the outback spaceman, I’m intelligent and clean
Know what I mean?

with apologies to Neil Innes

Back to Billiluna yesterday and finally started on cleaning up the donga.  Committed genocide on a billion spiders that festooned the walls and ceiling.  Some looked as if they might be redbacks who had moved in during my absence.  I spent a lot of time cleaning up the deliberately spilt food and herbs and spices, scrubbing and bleaching and sorting out the stuff thrown on the floor, at least where I needed to walk.  Bedding all washed and sanitised with Domestos.  Unpleasant little gifts uncovered and removed as I went.

I got a better idea of what was gone, and what was not.  I hate to add up the cost of what I have lost.  Sentimental value aside, I think it possibly amounts to around 15 to 20 grand.  It is ironic, isn’t it, that a few blogs ago after the first burglary, I wrote that I had too much stuff and I needed to figure out what to do with it.  I guess that problem is solved.

Finally, having made a good start on the mess, and finding myself psychologically stable in the face of this shit heap,  I decided to sleep and start again in the morning.  I set up my CPAP and settled down on my mattress with a sleeping bag. Within minutes my skin was crawling and I was being bitten by something tiny I could not see or catch. Cooties?

Sod this.  I can cope with the smell of pee and the other adversities, but this was too much.  I pack up my kit and drive back to Halls Creek, itching all the way, arriving at the SPQ around midnight.  Hot shower, clothes into the washing machine to soak with hot water and bleach, then to bed in what seems to have become my second home. I shall try again next week after giving the place a good permethrin spray and airing out.

For those newcomers who have not been following, the story so far:
I live in a remote community in the outback in a small portable home called a donga.
I was burgled twice in a month while I was away from the place, the second in particular being very devastatingly thorough in removal of my property and destruction of what was not taken.
CPAP: Constant Positive Air Pressure machine. A device for those who suffer sleep apnoeia. I am one.
SPQ: The Shire of Halls Creek Single Persons Quarters,  A sad lonely place for people who have no one to love them.  Elvis called it “Heartbreak Hotel”.

Now read on…


Last night I dreamed a memory; a rare thing.

We were swimming in warm, clear Northland waters near Matauri Bay.

We were nude, save for mask and snorkel.

Dappled light rippled over your form; floating, freed from gravity.

I was thinking you were the most beautiful thing I have ever seen;

Within the water or without.

Then you swam away.

I awoke: salt sea pooling on my pillow.

(C). 2017 ARF