It takes a good man to know a good woman

D806F70A-56AE-44E1-900D-10A9BB0C6C0BSome of Graham’s letters, for no particular reason, speak to me louder than others. I don’t think he minds me redistributing them.

Dear Inner Circle,

Friends, volunteers and staff sometimes bring people to my office because, “they need to talk to Graham.” Some awkward meetings have taken place at times when it has become clear that the meeting was less than a voluntary act. This week as I walked into my office I found a young woman, who looked as surprised to meet me as I was to meet her. This professional young woman was crying, unable to make eye contact and probably wishing she was anywhere but my office. It’s weird to encounter someone resisting what isn’t asserted. She didn’t have much to say except, “I don’t know who I am anymore”. With eyes that darted around the room, to the floor, then around the room again, she told me that she’d recently lost her job and a partner. A relationship that had begun with all the intensity of a wild movie had dissipated to a point where the young woman felt invisible in her own home. “Why do people forget to love?” was a question that almost vomited up from the depths of her soul. Eventually we looked at each other. What a face! What a mystery, that this face had been entrusted to another who had stopped looking or perhaps more correctly, stopped seeing. I didn’t fix anything, nor did I claim to know how to. The woman cried and talked a lot and I expect that really eased her burden. However when our faces met, I knew we were truly present to one another. She was not an interesting case for me nor was she a problem to be solved. She was herself, awesome, and beside me. I doubt that we’ll meet again but I will never forget her name and I simply appreciated the gift of her presence. I know she left my room a different woman because when she left, I was a different man. We were gloriously useless to each other and yet each added something priceless.

One of our more famous street dwellers stood up from her bed when she saw me walking past yesterday, she embraced me in a moment of tender silence. I said, “You are a good woman” and she replied, “It takes a good man to know a good woman.”

We try to keep our Sunday church services (Bondi at 9.30am and Kings Cross at 11am) free of clergy-droning as far as possible. This week, we began our service at Kings Cross with a little girl, perhaps five years old, telling us a joke. “Why did the ice-block head to the freezer?” the answer, “He was sweating”. You didn’t have to get the joke to get the blessing. Not long after, a man who I know to be in his fifties, stood up to announce that he’d just turned twenty. He followed up by saying, “Twenty years sober today!” This is a fellow who was literally born on a park bench to an alcoholic mother. Born with fetal alcohol syndrome, what a rough life’s journey and what a triumph of human spirit to be the man he is today. Our congregation broke into applause and cheering. At another point in our service, a young boy offered his impression of the President of the USA. “We must build a wall” he proclaimed in his best American accent. We always say that we’re not much like a church, but that it works for those of us who are not much like Christians.

Thanks for being part of our inner circle,


Upon unexpectedly encountering your ex in the street



Life is made up of winners and losers. There is very little to be found in between. Nowhere is this sad reality more evident than in the instance of failed romantic relationships. As is the case in other facets of life, the losers tend to heavily outnumber the winners. So ….. the odds are, dear reader, that you are a loser. Don’t feel bad. You are amongst friends.

I write this from the perspective of a male heterosexual, but my understanding is that the experience is no different when viewed from any other sexual orientation. I would like to be able to say that losers come in all shapes and sizes but this is, not strictly speaking, true. Losers tend to be the less good-looking ones. Get used to it. I have.

Unless you are in the habit of moving interstate every time a romance goes belly up then the chances are that, at some point, you will come unexpectedly face to face with a former object of your affections who has unceremoniously dumped you in favour of a wealthier, more attractive and more entertaining alternative. There is nothing more irritating than watching two winners walking, arm in arm, happily down the street. And if you are in the early stages of emotional recovery it can be a major setback. The odds are high also that you are on your way home after a third consecutive job interview failure in a week.

Violence is perfectly acceptable.

Make it as savage and as unrestrained as possible. Launch into this bastard as though he had recently murdered your grandmother. The more unhinged you can appear to the growing crowd of spectators the more water your subsequent pleading of temporary insanity will hold in court. Remember that you have the element of surprise on your side. Hopefully you can get a few telling blows in before the police arrive. And hopefully some lonely member of the public may have been impressed with your display of passionate athleticism.

If, on the other hand, you elect for a more passive approach then it is important to remember that a full recovery is out of the question. You are now in damage control. As tempting as it may be, do not, under any circumstances, fall to her knees in a sea of pleading tears. This is the very sort of pathetic, spineless act that she dumped you for in the first place. If you happen, just at that moment, to be stepping out of a Ferrari with a scantily clad actress by your side then you may be able to win back some ground. The trick here is to barely notice her. Wait until you and your glamorous partner are almost past her and then just give her a look suggesting a hint of recognition and say,

“Oh, hello.”

And walk on.

But unless the actress is being paid and your timing is impeccable then this is an unlikely scenario.

It is far more likely that you have just stepped out of a public bus and are searching the gutter for old cigarette butts when you notice her shapely leg beside you. Stand up and look her in the eye. There will be a look of alarm on your face. Keep it there. Then you can say.

“Oh! My! God! What happened to your nose? You look terrible!”

She looks sensational, of course. And she knows it. Everyone knows it. She will turn on her heels and strut away in indignation.

But you have planted just the smallest seed of doubt in her mind. And in that fertile garden of uninhibited vanity the seed will take root. And grow. You can take pleasure in knowing that she will be spending a little more time each night before the mirror looking for blemishes. Eventually she will find one. And it will drive her insane.

It is a hollow victory, I admit. For the sad truth is that nothing can be done in this situation to make your own life better. But at least you might be able to make someone else’s worse.





F7EF56EF-E005-4B2F-8EA1-5452E9A4D8CE.jpegDid this in response to Tintins suggestion of linking the mundane with the erotic.

Erotically it fails, but it does, nonetheless, accurately describe my social life.


Eyes in contact
Wanting all
Dancing through
The shopping mall
Lovely ladies
Lonely hearts
Parading by
With shopping carts
I wonder who
Has last been kissed
Cross them off
My shopping list
Checkout beauty
All alone
Please help me take
My shopping home

Upon being mistaken for a celebrity

I have been accused, from time to time, of being a fake. There is good reason for this. I am.

And so are you.

Let’s face it. We all do it. Every job application that you have ever submitted describes a person that any idiot can tell is not actually you. And don’t get me started about dating sites. The fact is that you and I are essentially mundane, unattractive and boring and no-one would pay us the least intention if we didn’t make some sort of effort of pretence to be otherwise. Every morning we get dressed and put on a mask. Everybody does it and the very worst offenders are the celebrities themselves.

It is, nevertheless, rather nice to be mistaken for one.

Of course, there is always a chance that you are an actual celebrity and know exactly what I am talking about. You have, in other words, already mastered the art of being mistaken for a celebrity.

Not that it matters. Be you an actual celebrity or not, the appropriate response to this pleasant human interaction is the same.


1. Say as little as possible. Any gushing response of affirmation will appear annoyingly vain and will likely expose you immediately as the odious individual that you really are. To the question, “Hey, buddy, aren’t you Harrison Ford?” a simple smile says more than a thousand words, without saying anything. Your admirer can then go back to his or her friends and accurately report, “I just asked that guy if he was Harrison Ford ….and he didn’t deny it!”

2. Accept free drinks. It is rude to do otherwise. If your new friends continue drinking with the same enthusiasm that has emerged within you (unencumbered by previous budgetary constraints) it may be possible to prolong the ruse well into the evening.

3. Requests for autographs should be complied with, and with fabricated modesty. Don’t worry about your handwriting. The more illegible the better. The process of autograph signing will likely set off a chain reaction in the establishment whereby there forms a queue of gullible admirers wanting the same treatment. And wanting to buy you more drinks. Some of them will not even know why they are doing it. These are the people that you should focus on. Paradoxically the social guilt within people for not recognising you as who you aren’t may be a more powerful tool than it’s opposite.

4. Unfortunately, you cannot rely on the public to give you all the clues. They will not always supply you with the details of your temporary celebrity status. A more common occurrence than the ‘Harrison Ford’ example is something along the lines of, “Hey, haven’t I seen you on TV?” or “Aren’t you the guy from …?” Once again, a simple smile is the best response or, better still, raise your index finger to your lips and make a conspiratorial ‘shhh’ sound. The air of mystery thus created may induce a conveniently illogical bond between you and the gorgeous misguided creature standing before you.

5. If you are both (i) asked for an autograph and (ii) have no idea who you are supposed to be, do not panic. As alluded to above, most celebrities have illegible handwriting. You should be no exception. Furthermore, if the admirer who has just said, “I am a great fan, will you sign this (particularly if ‘this’ is an exposed body part) is young and attractive then it is perfectly acceptable to do so with your phone or room number. If, on the other hand she has said, “Will you please sign this, my grandmother is a great fan”, and hands you a paper napkin then you may have a problem. You may have several problems, in fact. And things are unlikely to get better.

6. No matter what, enjoy the moment. It is unlikely to keep happening. And try to remember always that it is better to be recognised as someone who you are not than not to be recognised at all.

Epiphany part 2

And here, along the same lines, but destined for the ‘silly verse for grownups file’ is the

Poetry Challenge she set where she requires one line to be repeated at least once. I’m sorry Sammi, but that messes up my rhythm a bit.

What a sad epiphany

When one ponders

What may be

A random point

In space and time

Resulted in primeval slime

And then my mother’s

Night of joy

Resulted in a baby boy

A baby boy

She would conclude

Entirely lacking fortitude

So here I am

It’s only me

What a sad epiphany


continuing my extensive series on stating the bleeding obvious I respond to

Sammi’s 75 word challenge.


Looking up I saw what had been looking back for an eternity. Beyond the clouds, the sky, the stars, the universe. Beyond the random Godlessness of existence. There was nothing.

Oh. Gee.

It was an epiphany of sorts, I suppose, and I initially felt the urge to spread the word. But suddenly lacked the fortitude. Anyway, I thought, they’ll all find out for themselves sooner or later.

I decided to have a vanilla milkshake instead.