Tag Archives: equality

The Corgi Republican.

Further to the hypothetical dog, we had an encounter with a Corgi last weekend and cries went out for a Corgi. When even Geoff joined in with the throng, I was gobsmacked. After all, Corgi’s are THE Queen’s dog. Not just any ordinary queen either. We’re talking about Her Royal Highness, the Queen of Australia, who just so happens to live on the other side of the world at Buckingham Palace. Nothing wrong with that…unless you’re an Australian Republican!

young-Prince-Charles-Princess-Anne-got-silly-sand

After all, the Corgi is no ordinary dog…a dog of the people. Of course, the Queen’s Corgis wouldn’t have an ordinary kennel bought from the local pet shop. No doubt, the entire Palace is their domain. Indeed, these Royal Corgis would have blue blood. Or, maybe its even red, white and blue just like the Union Jack.

Naturally, I am not into such cultural elitism.

Moreover, as much as I might love the Royal Family, I strongly believe it’s time Australia grew up and moved out of home. Stands on its own two feet. After all, we don’t need the Queen to hold our hand crossing the road anymore. We can cross the road all by ourselves.

You could call this an: “Austexit”.

If it’s good enough for the English to leave the EU, why can’t we leave them behind?

So, now I’m left pondering whether it’s okay for a Republican to have a Corgi. Is a Corgi just another breed of dog? Or, if we have a Corgi, are we surreptitiously representing the monarchy? Is owning a Corgi a sign of allegiance?

I don’t know. However, I’m not the first person to question what a dog’s breed represents.

Surprisingly, this is an age-old question.

Daschund

During WWI, the Dachshund’s popularity crashed due to its German origins and popularity with the German Kaiser.

Daschund + kaiser

Kaiser Wilhelm II with his Dachshund.

So, a breed of dog can come to represent something much larger than itself. In this case, I’d be better of getting a more “Australian” dog…some sort of Dingo mix, a Blue Heeler? Personally, I think the Border Collie has also been sufficiently “Austracised”.

Dingo pups

Dingo Pup. 

However, you can take things too far. Although I love Vegemite and Tim Tams, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy my cup of Twining’s English Breakfast Tea.

Moreover, now that I’m looking more deeply into the Corgi, I’ve actually started to wonder whether the Queen’s endorsement of the breed, actually reflects positively on the breed instead of being such a negative.

After all, the Queen could have any dog she wants, and she has consistently had Corgis. While her love for the breed has been parodied, there must be some reason for it. Indeed, the Corgi comes with the Royal Seal of Approval.

Moreover, as my husband pointed out, being a big dog on short legs, does have it’s advantages. A Corgi would have trouble jumping up and stealing food (which could also endear it to the Queen. Could you just imagine a dog jumping up on the Royal Dining Table at Buckingham Palace? Obviously, this is why the Queen hasn’t gone for the Border Collie x Cavalier…Hello Lady!!

So, last night I decided to check out Corgis on Gumtree,  an Australian classified’s site. You could say this is the canine equivalent of ordering a Russian mail order bride. All these puppy faces flash up at you and your heart completely melts!

However, this search looks like it’s ended all thoughts of a Corgi. There were no ads for pups. Indeed, there were only ads for people seeking Corgis. We found a breeder elsewhere, and it looked like it would be easier to get a job at Buckingham Palace looking after the royal corgis. This was a serious interview process. No doubt, we’d have to take Bilbo and Lady to the interview and they’d take one look at her Royal Scruffiness, and give us the flick. Lady would no doubt steal the afternoon tea straight off the plate and heaven help us if any rabbits were hopping by: “She ain’t nothing but a farm dog”.

Lady on kayak

Lady…Hardly royal material.

Considering our quest for another dog is semantic at this stage, current availability doesn’t matter anyway.

However, if the kids were trying to encourage me towards Corgis, they set their campaign back this morning.

Our son told me: “If we get a corgi, we have to call it Doge”.

Doge? What kind of name is that?

doge-much-help-pls_o_3233637

Sounds like something straight out of that British comedy Keeping Up Appearances where Mrs Bucket is pronounced: “Mrs Bouquet”. Yes, a rather pretentious rendition of “dog”. Not my scene at all. I’m very down to earth and you can’t get much more down to earth than dog beach. Sand and salt water are a mighty leveler.

Well, if you know anything about memes, you’ll know that Doge was a hit. Went “viral”.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, a background check has ended thoughts of a Corgi. The Corgi is considered a high shedder:

“Heavy shedding. Pembroke Welsh Corgis shed a lot. You’ll find hair and fur deposited all over your clothing, upholstery, carpeting, under your furniture, on your countertops — even in your food. Frequent vacuuming will become a way of life.”http://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/reviews/pembrokewelshcorgis.html

We’ve had Border Collies and an Old English Sheepdog and our carpet could almost wag its tail and they’re not high shedders. I’ve also read warnings about dogs before, and let that puppy face deceive me. Not again.

So, it looks like the Queen can keep her corgis. That said,  I’m wondering how The Queen gets out the door without Corgi all over her coat?

So, for now, we’ll keep walking past that Corgi in the window and keep feeding our dogs those vitamins.

Any views about corgis? Dog breeds?

xx Rowena

Poet for Peace.

A small voice called out

in the wilderness:

“Why must you throw

your sticks and stones?

Why grow anger,

instead of love?

Or, do you even know?

 

But then,

the great wind came,

blowing the small voice

from pole to pole.

Yet, its whisperings spread.

Amelia footprints in sand

Footprints in the sand.

 

“Why must you throw

your sticks and stones?

Why grow anger,

instead of love?
Or, do you even know?

 

Brother asked sister.

Sister asked brother.

Husbands and wives,

partners…

questioned why.

The neighbours wondered

whether a cup of sugar

would be better instead.

 

Slowly but surely,

the people started looking in,

instead of blaming out.

After all, peace in our world

begins in our hearts.

amelia heart painting

My daughter’s painting

 

And so,

after  scattering the seed,

the small voice called on

the sun, rain and soil,

waiting for love to grow.

 

Rowena Curtin

26th August, 2016

This is my contribution for Poets for Peace, a collaboration of poets right around the world urging for peace. It is being hosted by Forgotten Meadows Deadline for Contributions is 31st August, 2016.

“In response to the recent unceasing, and, in fact escalating global violence, we have seen and felt a corresponding surge in poetry about it.

We would like to take this opportunity to invite you to share your thoughts and feelings, a piece of yourself, to add to other Poets from around the world. We are hopeful that the combined weight of our collective spirit and wisdom will be felt worldwide as well.

The only restriction is that absolutely no hate is expressed other than the hate of violence. Any and all words will be appended to the running poem. This is not about ego, so you retain the rights to your creation, we are only interested in doing what we can to stop the violence.

Please share your poetry and your platform to spread the word for Poets everywhere to unite in this effort we are calling, “Poets for Peace.”

Google +1 it, Tweet & share it on Facebook, wherever you are able. Hashtag #PoetsForPeace

 

A Wheely Good Night at the Sydney Opera House.

On Monday night, I not only watched our daughter perform at the Sydney Opera House, it was the first time I’ve gone out as a disabled person in a wheelchair and I can’t tell you how encouraged I feel by the experience. It truly opened doors for me, making it so much easier to relax, have a great night out and do what I was there for. That is, to hear my daughter play her violin without any unexpected medical nightmares… even if I couldn’t see her!

As a person with limited mobility, if all goes well, I can get around okay and usually use a walking stick in unfamiliar and crowded environments. I have what’s known as “an invisibility”, meaning that most of the time, you can’t see anything’s going on. However, these symptoms fluctuate dramatically so it can be hard to predict how I’ll be at a given point in time. Indeed, I was simply walking on grass when I broke my foot. Knowing that “being the hero” can have serious consequences, I’m understandably cautious about participating in seemingly everyday activities…such as getting to the Sydney Opera House. As such, I often end up staying home.

DSC_3012

However, there was no way I was going to miss our daughter playing her violin at the Sydney Opera House. No way on this earth!

However, if you have ever marvelled at the Sydney Opera House, you’ll note those stunning white sails are perched on top of a huge mountain of stairs. Of course, architecturally speaking, the effect is very dramatic.They’re also a photographer’s dream. I’ve seen intense portraits of lone performers sitting on those stairs with that same sense of abandonment you’d recall from Princess Diana’s portrait taken at the Taj Mahal.

As striking as these stairs might be, for anyone with mobility, health issues, or even a lack of fitness, those stairs are insurmountable. Although I can walk, I’d need an oxygen tank, not to mention a Sherpa, to help me get to the top. Even if I did miraculously make it to the summit, I’d be off in an ambulance and straight to the ER.

Opera House Steps

The Stairs…the dark side of getting to the Sydney opera House. A selfie on a good day.

Yet, while I’m prone to catastrophising, I knew I didn’t have to get up those stairs. That’s because public venues must have disabled access…even if it can be difficult to locate. When I attended School Spectacular at the Sydney Entertainment Centre last year, I was told to take the stairs, even though I was standing there with my walking stick. This particular person seemingly thought I could sprout a pair of wings and magically fly to my seat. Naturally, this meant that instead of having a good experience, I found myself defending accessibility rights when I wasn’t there as an activist. I was there to watch my daughter perform. Thankfully, someone else was more helpful.

After that, it’s hardly surprising that I want to sing my praises of Sydney Opera House staff right across the rooftops when everything went so well. We had VIP treatment all the way, and even the road lit up to greet us. What more could I ask?

I didn’t think about all of this when I booked myself in for a wheelchair seat. I always need an aisle seat and easy access in and out but get by with my walking stick and an accessible seat. However, these had sold out. The box office suggested this wheelchair spot, saying the Opera House could provide a wheelchair. I wasn’t entirely comfortable that I warranted a wheelchair. While I know people who use wheelchairs and can walk and how it enables them to do more, I’d never tried it out before. If I wasn’t doing well, I stayed home.

So, our trip to the Opera House, would also give us the opportunity to test out how a wheelchair went in public situations without having to BYO.

DSC_2965

Driving in to park at the Sydney Opera House

Our experience began with booking an accessible parking spot at the Opera House. It wasn’t free but it meant we could park right out the front with very little walking required. What it also meant was that we received the VIP treatment. We drove along Macquarie Street to the security gate, where the road was blocked off by a row of very sturdy metal bollards. As you could imagine, security is very tight. No more of this “G’day mate, it’s Fred” business. We had to show my disabled parking permit and my receipt to get through the gate. Then, like magic, the bollards electronically sunk into the ground and a row of recessed lights turned on. This was our road to the Opera House. By now, I was in my virtual limo pulling out the royal wave. It’s about time somebody treated mobility challenged people as VIPs, instead of outcasts!

After detouring for dinner, we returned to pick up the wheelchair and begin the journey to find our seats. The performance was in the Main Concert Hall and side-wheeling a gazillion stairs, we were personally escorted by staff along corridors, though multiple lifts via the bathroom. Once we’d finally reached our seats, we were greeted by a staff member asking: “You’re Rowena?”

Every single member of staff was courteous, friendly and respectful. I can’t tell you how that made me feel. It’s warmed my heart right to the core…a night we will never forget. Not just because our daughter was playing her violin at the Sydney Opera House, but because we were given the touch of human kindness, acceptance and understanding without it being a chore, something noble or even being “special”.

It just was.

Just like it ought to be!

What more could I ask for?!!

Concert Hall

Well, there was the small matter of needing someone to push my wheelchair. I don’t have the muscle strength to push my own chair. Not unsurprisingly, my husband was the wind beneath my wheels. Geoff’s Mum was in a wheelchair, so he has had experience. This is a good thing because wheelchairs can be notoriously difficult to operate, not unlike recalcitrant shopping trolleys with minds and travel destinations all of their own. Indeed, turning back the clock, Geoff’s mother fell out of the wheelchair when they went round a corner at Brisbane’s Expo88. I think he lost his licence after that and was put on a good behaviour bond!

Anyway, he got his licence back again last night…especially working with a difficult passenger who kept putting her foot on the wheels…not to mention bathroom stops up and down the lifts.

There was just one bit of explaining. We’d met a few other performing families during the day when I was walking round seemingly okay with the stick. Now, I was suddenly in a wheelchair. One lot had only seen us 5 minutes beforehand and thought I’d had an accident. They were all very understanding and had no dramas that I could walk and use a wheelchair all in one day.

Wouldn’t it be great if the rest of the world could be so understanding? Yet, you could say it was a Eureka Moment finally reaching that understanding myself after living with dermatomyositis for the last 10 years and struggling with the whole concept of using equipment!

I don’t know if there’s some quote about it being easy to change the whole world but more difficult to change yourself. If there isn’t, there should be and that’s where real change begins!

So perhaps you’ll be seeing more of me in wheels. Not because I’m getting worse but because I’m getting better.

Have you ever ventured out in a wheelchair or similar and how did it go? What sort of accessibility problems have you had or moments like mine where it all went well? Please share.

xx Rowena

 

Mummy…The Breakfast Ballerina.

On Thursday night, I attended my first adult ballet class and absolutely loved it!

The kids were in bed when I arrived home and I had to wait ‘til breakfast to share my unbridled exhilaration and gauge their responses. I knew it was going to be priceless.

After all, Mummies don’t do ballet. They drive taxis!

Being the consummate drama queen and loving a bit of theatre, I arrived at the breakfast table standing in 1st position. My face was beaming. I was absolutely chuffed. Like magic, the heffalump had metamorphosed into a swan in Swan’s Lake. I was dancing at the Sydney Opera House…albeit in my pyjamas! No ballet bun, the birds were still tweeting in my hair.

dancer box

Yet, reaching for the stars, I could have been that dainty plastic ballerina turning magically inside my childhood jewellery box. Turning round and round in circles to Love Story, she might have been plastic, but for so many little girls, she was the ultimate ballerina launching a thousand dreams.

“He was not bone and feather but a perfect idea of freedom and flight, limited by nothing at all”
― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

So there I am beaming in 1st position when my daughter pipes up:

“Mummy, did you really look like that?”

“I did,” I replied, feeling like I’d confessed to wearing the Emperor’s New Clothes down the main street. Clearly, I’d broken through quite a few barriers and the look on her face was priceless…a mix of confusion, disbelief and horror. What had I done?

To her credit, she didn’t laugh, giggle or make fun of me, although she was clearly struggling to know quite how and where to file this revelation. It didn’t fit anything she’d ever filed under “Mummy” before.

Amelia with ballet shoes

Miss with dancing Shoes

Miss is ten years old and she’s been dancing since she was three. She’s currently doing ballet, modern and jazz. Dainty and petite, she looks like a dancer and the flame burns in her heart and her feet.

 

Rowena Wamberal

Mummy

On the other hand, I’m 5ft 10inches tall, mid-40s, disabled and let’s just say I’m no twinkle toes. I last did ballet back in 1980 when I was her age. That was a sobering 36 years ago and a lot of water’s flowed under (and over) the bridge since then.You could say an entire ocean!

However, rather than being upset by her response, it’s probably a good reflection of just how many barriers I smashed taking on that class. Indeed, I’d totally shattered my daughter’s concept of Me, my capabilities and what it means to be a dancer. Mind you, to be perfectly honest, I’d also amazed myself. I fully expected to spend much of the lesson in a chair. If I could hold my hands properly at the end of the 6 weeks, I’d be stoked. Instead, I’d even attempted the basics of a pirouette.

Mummy & Amelia

Mummy & Miss

“Why, Jon, why?” his mother asked. “Why is it so hard to be like the rest of the flock, Jon? Why can’t you leave low flying to the pelicans, the albatross? Why don’t you eat? Son, you’re bone and feathers!” “I don’t mind being bone and feathers mom. I just want to know what I can do in the air and what I can’t, that’s all. I just want to know.”
― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Being my usual theatrical self, I couldn’t stop at 1st position. I had to demonstrate a pirouette. Well, I don’t think I managed to turn or quite get my raised leg in the right spot but the intention was there.

“That’s that thing with the eyes,” said my son.

He leaps out of his chair and perfectly demonstrates how you focus on a spot while you’re turning and quickly turn your head around.

Jonathon Hip Hop

Mr at Hip Hop aged about 6.

What THE? How did my gaming son find out about the fine art of pirouettes? I shouldn’t have been surprised. He did a boys’ hip-hop class at the dance school and the kids have watched a few dance shows. My son’s friend is also in Dance Team at the dance school.

Besides, as I said, ballet isn’t just for petite little girls. It’s equally for boys and men and is incredibly athletic. Why shouldn’t he take an interest?

Moreover, boys and men need and deserve to express their creative, emotional sides just as much as girls and women. They shouldn’t be repressed with their wings clipped anymore than I!

“We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill.”
Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

It’s all very well to talk about equality, acceptance and respect but the rubber needs to hit the road. Ideals must translate into action.

“Instead of our drab slogging forth and back to the fishing boats, there’s reason to live!
We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can learn to be free! we can learn to fly!”
― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull

May we all stretch our wings and learn to fly beyond the confines of our minds!

xx Rowena

Mohammed Ali…Hero and Villain.

In a tribute to In a tribute to the late Muhammad Ali I am reflagging this excerpt from my book Rope Burns, which is to be republished in September 2016. By now you should not be remotely surprised to learn that one fine evening back in 1980 I somehow conspired to find myself perched on […]

via Muhammad Ali: Hero and villain — ianprobertbooks

Poetical Dogs Unite.

Dear Bilbo and Lady,

We have heard you’re working on writing: Dogs The Musical. It’s about time the dog had its day. For far too long, those ratbag cats have been deified and celebrated on stage and screen. Our time has come. Indeed, it’s long overdue!!

Before we proceed any further, please allow us to introduce ourselves and provide something of a Curriculum Vitae. .

Flush

Firstly, there’s Flush.I must admit I feel rather sorry for Flush since the invention of the modern flush toilet. “Don’t forget to Flush the toilet!” Quite an insult to such an aristocratic dog. Flush also means red in colour, as when your face is flushed. Flush is a red Spaniel.

While Flush spent his early life out in the countryside, he was adopted by the esteemed poet Miss Barrett of 52 Wimpole Street, London while still an invalid, exchanging a myriad of scents for the stench of eau de cologne. Indeed, it is in his role as Miss Barrett’s dog that Flush gained fame and literary attention. A frequent topic in Miss Barrett’s diaries, she also wrote two poems about her beloved pooch.

Indeed, the story of Flush, attracted  the attention of my mistress, novelist Virgina Woolf. She wrote: Flush A Biography, where she wrote about Elizabeth Barrett’s famous love affair with fellow poet Robert Browning which ultimately culminated in their secret marriage on September 12, 1846, at St. Marylebone Parish Church, where they were married. She returned home for a week, keeping the marriage a secret, then fled with Browning along with Flush to Italy.

 Pinka

After that rather lengthy introduction, my name is Pinka. I’m also a Cocker Spaniel and was a gift from poet and novelist Vita Sackville-West to novelist Virginia Woolf in 1926. You could say that I’m their furry love child.

Virginia Woolf Pinka

Pinka & Virginia Woolf (left) & Vita Sackville-West

Vita Sackville-West, Victoria Mary Sackville-West, Lady Nicolson, CH (9 March 1892 – 2 June 1962), was an English poet, novelist, and garden designer. A successful and prolific novelist, poet, and journalist during her lifetime—she was twice awarded the Hawthornden Prize for Imaginative Literature: in 1927 for her pastoral epic, The Land, and in 1933 for her Collected Poems—today she is chiefly remembered for the celebrated garden at Sissinghurst she created with her diplomat husband, Sir Harold Nicolson. She is also remembered as the inspiration for the androgynous protagonist of the historical romp, Orlando: A Biography by her famous friend and admirer, Virginia Woolf, with whom she had an affair. (Wikipaedia)

flush-memorias-de-um-cao-virginia-woolf

In 1930, after Virginia Woolf attended Rudolf Besier’s play, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, she began to reread Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poetry and letters. Woolf’s fanciful biography of the Brownings, seen through the lens of their cocker spaniel, was published in 1933, with four drawings by Vanessa Bell. I was was photographed for the dust jacket and frontispiece of the first edition.

Dogs – The Musical

Being literary dogs ourselves, we wanted to offer our whole-hearted support. After many years supporting our humans through the writing process, we feel more than qualified to help. Indeed, knowing how his Mistress’s romance was turned into a play, Flush thought this would make a good springboard for Dogs The Musical. After all, the Brownings weren’t the only ones who found true love in Italy. Flush also met the spotted spaniel as well as quite a few other dogs on the side. Indeed, he became quite a Casanova. Personally, I can’t help wondering just how many descendants Flush has running around those Italian alleyways. He’d even fathered a litter of pups before he was fully grown. Just as well he wasn’t human!

Anyway, it’s our suggestion that dogs the musical be about what it means to be a poet’s dog. Being expected to understand all sorts of human mysteries and emotions which don’t correspond to any canine equivalent. They think in words, while we think in smells. Quite incompatible really.

Barrett & Flush

Here are a few paragraphs we found in Virginia Woolf’s Flush: A Biography.

“And yet sometimes the tie would almost break; there were vast gaps in their understanding. Sometimes they would lie and stare at each other in blank bewilderment. Why, Miss Barrett wondered, did Flush tremble suddenly, and whimper and start and listen? She could hear nothing; she could see nothing; there was nobody in the room with them. She could not guess that Folly, her sister’s little King Charles, had passed the door; or that Catiline, the Cuba bloodhound, had been given a mutton-bone by a footman in the basement. But Flush knew; he heard; he was ravaged by the alternate rages of lust and greed. Then with all her poet’s imagination Miss Barrett could not divine what Wilson’s wet umbrella meant to Flush; what memories it recalled, of forests and parrots and wild trumpeting elephants; nor did she know, when Mr. Kenyon stumbled over the bell-pull, that Flush heard dark men cursing in the mountains; the cry, “Span! Span!” rang in his ears, and it was in some muffled, ancestral rage that he bit him.

Flush was equally at a loss to account for Miss Barrett’s emotions. There she would lie hour after hour passing her hand over a white page with a black stick; and her eyes would suddenly fill with tears; but why? “Ah, my dear Mr. Horne,” she was writing. “And then came the failure in my health . . . and then the enforced exile to Torquay . . . which gave a nightmare to my life for ever, and robbed it of more than I can speak of here; do not speak of that anywhere. Do not speak of that, dear Mr. Horne.” But there was no sound in the room, no smell to make Miss Barrett cry. Then again Miss Barrett, still agitating her stick, burst out laughing. She had drawn “a very neat and characteristic portrait of Flush, humorously made rather like myself,” and she had written under it that it “only fails of being an excellent substitute for mine through being more worthy than I can be counted.” What was there to laugh at in the black smudge that she held out for Flush to look at? He could smell nothing; he could hear nothing. There was nobody in the room with them. The fact was that they could not communicate with words, and it was a fact that led undoubtedly to much misunderstanding. Yet did it not lead also to a peculiar intimacy? “Writing,”–Miss Barrett once exclaimed after a morning’s toil, “writing, writing . . .” After all, she may have thought, do words say everything? Can words say anything? Do not words destroy the symbol that lies beyond the reach of words? Once at least Miss Barrett seems to have found it so. She was lying, thinking; she had forgotten Flush altogether, and her thoughts were so sad that the tears fell upon the pillow. Then suddenly a hairy head was pressed against her; large bright eyes shone in hers; and she started. Was it Flush, or was it Pan? Was she no longer an invalid in Wimpole Street, but a Greek nymph in some dim grove in Arcady? And did the bearded god himself press his lips to hers? For a moment she was transformed; she was a nymph and Flush was Pan. The sun burnt and love blazed. But suppose Flush had been able to speak–would he not have said something sensible about the potato disease in Ireland?

And yet, had he been able to write as she did?–The question is superfluous happily, for truth compels us to say that in the year 1842-43 Miss Barrett was not a nymph but an invalid; Flush was not a poet but a red cocker spaniel; and Wimpole Street was not Arcady but Wimpole Street.”

Anyway, Bilbo and Lady, we understand that you’ve already received support from Dorothy Parker and that her dog, Misty, is to play a leading role, but we thought you could work her into the story of Flush somehow and the two of you could add an Australian dimension to the story.

Dorothy Parker and Misty

Speaking of  Dorothy Parker, has she let you out of the dog salon yet? From what we’ve heard, you received heavy duty treatment and Lady had all her scruffiness clipped away and clad in a dainty pink tutu. We can’t wait to hear reports about how she fares on her return to Dog Beach. That said, I doubt you’re allowed to go anywhere near the beach with your new coats!

Anyway, we’ve leave you to consider this further. However, don’t delay. The dog’s day has come!

Yours woofingly,

Pinka.

PS I know Mum has written much about women’s struggles to reach their true potential but what about us dogs? Who is going to rise to our defence and grant us equality and access to beaches and parks off the lead? Moreover, as much as Mum wrote about Judith Shakespeare’s chances of being able to write and appear on stage, what about the plight of Canine Shakespeare? I tell you, not a word!

Sure, I know the likes of Lassie and the Dulux Dog have succeeded but what about chronicling the lives of your garden variety backyard dog, spending their entire day at the gate waiting patiently for their humans to come home? I tell you. There is loyalty! Surely, that has to count for something!!

O- Oscar Wilde: A Reply #AtoZchallenge.

Dear Rowena,

Thank you so much for your letter.

As you might expect, I’m no longer the peacock, and have become a changed man. While I was renowned for my intellect and wit, I have been humbled. Even talking to the worms has been an education. It turns out that once we’re underground, all of us are simply “food”no matter who we thought we were.

Naturally, I receive a lot of visitors but no one else has ever brought me Tim Tams before. I’m still licking the chocolate off my fingers and wondering how to salvage a chunk of precious biscuit which accidentally fell in. I’m not quite sure how to retrieve it. Even back in the day, “the world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork.”

Perhaps, I shouldn’t ask but do they still remember me at Cafe de la Paix? Bosie crucified me there on my last visit and the pain was so intense but Robbie stood by me.

Oscar Wilde

Speaking of pain, I’ve been trying to think up some advice. In my younger days, I wrote a series of aphorisms:  “Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young”. It seemed very clever at the time but wasn’t sound advice. Instead I’d like to ask you to read De Profundis. It was a letter I wrote to Bosie while I was in gaol and addresses the nature of suffering and our need to somehow rise above it all and still find joy. I’m not going to bore you with my endless whingeing about losing the lot.

However, I jotted down a few excerpts for you now:

“Suffering is one very long moment. We cannot divide it by seasons. We can only record its moods, and chronicle their return. With us time itself does not progress. It revolves. It seems to circle round one centre of pain.”

“Nature….she will hang the night stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send word the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.”
Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

“Every single human being should be the fulfilment of a prophecy: for every human being should be the realisation of some ideal, either in the mind of God or in the mind of man.”
Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

“I am completely penniless, and absolutely homeless. Yet there are worse things in the world than that.”
Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

 

“All the spring may be hidden in the single bud, and the low ground nest of the lark may hold the joy that is to herald the feet of many rose-red dawns.”
Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

“A sentimentalist is simply one who wants to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it. We think we can have our emotions for nothing. We cannot. Even the finest and most self-sacrificing emotions have to be paid for. Strangely enough, that is what makes them fine. The intellectual and emotional life of ordinary people is a very contemptible affair. Just as they borrow their ideas from a sort of circulating library of thought—-the Zeitgeist of an age that has no soul—-and send them back soiled at the end of each week, so they always try to get their emotions on credit, and refuse to pay the bill when it comes in. You should pass out of that conception of life. As soon as you have to pay for an emotion you will know its quality, and be the better for such knowledge. And remember that the sentimentalist is always a cynic at heart. Indeed, sentimentality is merely the bank holiday of cynicism.”
Oscar Wilde, De Profundis

 

“When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realising what I am that I have found comfort of any kind. Now I am advised by others to try on my release to forget that I have ever been in a prison at all. I know that would be equally fatal. It would mean that I would always be haunted by an intolerable sense of disgrace, and that those things that are meant for me as much as for anybody else – the beauty of the sun and moon, the pageant of the seasons, the music of daybreak and the silence of great nights, the rain falling through the leaves, or the dew creeping over the grass and making it silver – would all be tainted for me, and lose their healing power, and their power of communicating joy. To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one’s own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.”
― Oscar Wilde

Oscar-Wilde-Grave-Top-Tenz

You know, Rowena, you’re the very first person who has ever brought me coffee. I was deeply touched. You were thinking of me and wanting to know my story, even if you couldn’t stay here very long. You wouldn’t believe what I’ve had to endure. They’ve come here in their thousands, puckering up and bragging how they’ve kissed Oscar Wilde. While they might have smeared me with lipstick, they haven’t touched me at all.

You have.

Thank you for your honesty, acknowledging you don’t know me and not pretending that you do.

You wouldn’t believe how many people I have running round inside my head thinking it’s their “right” to explore each and every nook and cranny of my brain. Could you just imagine what it’s like with all those people running around yelling and shouting, flashing their torches up the back of my nose and even taking samples all in the name of “science”. What makes them think they know me better than I knew myself? Why can’t they all get lost and leave me in peace? After all, I never stuck my head in their privates, did I?!!!

As soon as you mentioned seeing my golden angel, I knew you’d come here for a reason.

You see, I don’t believe in coincidence either. You held the match which finally lit the spark. I’m going to charge them all an entry fee. If they want to explore my head and make all sorts of accusations, they’ll have to pay!

So here’s to new beginnings! Now, I’ll finally be getting that new wallpaper!

Thank you!

Yours,

Oscar Wilde