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Some colourful
AUSSIE WORDS
and expressions
and their meanings

 

VALERIE'S MUSINGS


REAL LIFE IS BAD FOR US
“Depression and squalor are for those under twenty-five, they can take it, they even like it, they still have enough time left. But real life is bad for you, hold it in your hand long enough, and you’ll get pimples and become feeble-minded. You’ll go blind.” [Margaret Atwood, ‘What is a woman’s novel’ Portfolio, December 1986]

This quote opens my nonfiction book, The Art of Romance Writing, and sums up for me, why we need romance novels. Never has it seemed as true as it does now, given the earthquakes and tsunami in New Zealand and especially, Japan where tragedy piles upon tragedy.

It may seem trivial to link romance novels to such horrific events, but I’m more concerned with the role of hope. All too often hope is a casualty of disaster. Yet without hope, we have no heart to rebuild, to try again, to learn and grow from our experiences.

Our stories remind us that things can be better, good can conquer evil, we will see light at the end of the tunnel, however long and dark the tunnel looks from here. Not for nothing do the Japanese themselves call we romance writers “happy ending ladies” because our stories affirm life and hope.

As the world gets smaller and more turbulent, an occasional respite from reality becomes vital if we are to keep the flame of hope burning. Romances have filled this role since the time of Jane Austen and Samuel Richardson, and even before when the word “romance” described tales of adventure told by minstrels to their mostly male audiences. Romances also retell humanity’s ancient myths and legends in modern form, making them relevant to each new generation.

Every now and then turn off the TV news, the podcasts, the tweets and turn on an e-book reader, or open a printed book, and tell yourself you’re helping to save the world by renewing your sense of hope. I believe it’s exactly what you are doing.

As Max Ehrmann’s prose poem, Desiderata says ...

“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.”

Thank goodness we have romances to remind us.

CELEBRATING WHAT'S GREAT ABOUT AUSTRALIA
Each year, January 26 is the day we celebrate what’s great about our nation - Australia Day. In 2011, I was once again privileged to be an Australia Day Ambassador, visiting a local community – this time it was Armidale, NSW – to help celebrate this special day.

Leading up to Australia Day, it’s exciting to meet the other Ambassadors at a huge lunch. The list includes sports stars, media personalities, actors and artists.

I’m often asked what an Australia Day Ambassador does. As part of my duties, I’ve ridden on a horse and buggy, taken part in a parade of vintage cars from the back of a Model T Ford, watched a tractor-pulling competition, and cut cakes baked for Australia’s “birthday”.

Best of all I enjoy sharing my experience of becoming an Australian, sailing into Sydney Harbour on the Fairsky from England at the age of seven. Little did I imagine I would one day address whole communities on the subject, participate in citizenship ceremonies, and present awards to outstanding community members, young and old.

This really is the lucky country.

Make every day ... Valentine’s Day
I’m often asked how you can have a romance as real and lasting as those my heroes and heroines enjoy. The stories may be fantasy, but the emotions are real. You can have a storybook romance in everyday life with what I call The Three Ps .

These stand for passion, patience and presents .

P assion ...
is straightforward enough, yet easily overlooked. What attracted you to your partner in the beginning? Look for and nurture those qualities, rather than looking for flaws and failings. Whichever you choose to focus on, I guarantee you will find in abundance.

P atience ...
means treating your partner at least as well as you treat friends and acquaintances. If a friend spills wine on your carpet, do you call them stupid and careless, or reassure them it’s no big deal? Treat your partner with the same courtesy and kindness, and watch romance thrive.

P resents ...
does not mean giving expensive gifts. It does mean remembering special occasions, not only those on the calendar, but occasions known only to the two of you. Create these occasions if need be. Celebrate with special foods, home-made cards (easy in these days of desktop publishing), hand-picked flowers, thoughtful gestures like recording your partner’s favourite show when they’re working late, or sending a romantic text message or tweet.

Romance isn’t born, it’s made and nurtured every day. Why not send me your favourite romantic tips!