Qantas B747-400 VH-OJA Retires

Flight Path Boeing 747-400, The Plan: B747 arrival Sunday 8. ETD Sydney 0730  Landing AP 0747. Coming down the coast, low level, turning in over the lighthouse around 0735 to pick up a 5 nm final approach from the north. Weather permitting..... max 10 kts crosswind, nil tailwind, runway dry, good visibility.  Source: J. Thurstan, HARS Volunteer

Flight Path Boeing 747-400, The Plan: B747 arrival Sunday 8. ETD Sydney 0730 Landing AP 0747. Coming down the coast, low level, turning in over the lighthouse around 0735 to pick up a 5 nm final approach from the north. Weather permitting….. max 10 kts crosswind, nil tailwind, runway dry, good visibility. SOURCE: J. Thurstan, HARS Volunteer

Being more of a night owl than an early bird, there needs to be a compelling reason for me to tumble out of bed before sunrise. Sunday 8th March was one of those days. The City of Canberra, the first Boeing 747-400 to be acquired by our national carrier Qantas, was due to land at the Illawarra Regional Airport at Albion Park, which is located south of Wollongong on the east coast of New South Wales.

The small airport, more accustomed to light aircraft and joy flights, is also home to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) who scored a major coup in being selected as the final destination for this much loved and highly celebrated ‘Flying Kangaroo’, retiring after twenty-five years of service.

All vantage areas around the airport were packed as thousands jostled to watch its arrival – scheduled for 0747 hours. (Actual touch down was 7:50am EDST). None of our photos do the event any justice, they are out of focus and the morning was a little foggy – almost from too high humidity – however I thought these two were humorous. If you look in the foreground, you will see the neon road sign warnings: “changed traffic conditions” and, “expect delays” – you reckon?

There are so many interesting facts associated with this aircraft:

It was just the twelfth Boeing 747-400 to be built out of a total of 694.

Covering a distance of 18,001 kilometres (11,185 mi) the City of Canberra holds the world record for the longest ever commercial flight – its delivery flight non-stop from London to Sydney in 20 hours, 9 minutes and 5 seconds in August 1989. Only sixteen passengers plus crew travelled on this flight, additional weight was stripped back and a special high density fuel was used. You can read much more about that here.

On its 13,833 flights, the aircraft has carried 4,094,568 passengers, covering almost 85 million kilometres, the equivalent to 110.2 return trips to the moon.

Its final flight, from Sydney to Albion Park, was completed in under fifteen minutes at an altitude of 4000-5000 feet. It is capable of flying up to 45,000 feet and usually cruises in the mid to high 30,000s.

It was the first 747-400 to land at the regional airport, and the four pilots, Captain Greg Matthews (Qantas’ manager of training), first officer Peter Hagley (747 technical pilot), second officer Michael East and Captain Ossie Miller (the 747 fleet captain) spent more than twenty-five hours in the Qantas simulator preparing to land on a runway only 1,819 metres (1.13 miles) long, compared to an average of 3,000 metres (1.86 miles) at Sydney Airport. After consultation with manufacturer Boeing, the tyre pressure on the 16-wheel main landing gear was reduced from a standard 208psi to 120psi to avoid damaging the runway. Take off weight was almost halved from a maximum 397,200kg to just 201,000kg. Only 20,000 kilograms of fuel were loaded, just enough for a second landing attempt or a return to Sydney if needed.

Excitement on the ground mounted as she was spotted approaching the airport at a speed of 132 knots, far lower than the usual 180 knots. The aircraft came in low and slow, right over the top of us, and touched down perfectly, a puff of smoke rising from the runway as she pulled up with metres to spare, and rolled on to reach the tug waiting at the end. With a wingspan of 64 metres, and this runway just 30 metres wide, the two outside engines hung over the runway’s edge, creating quite a spectacle.

There are many videos of the landing on youtube. The attached link gives a good idea to the build up, includes radio communication and has captured a great runway angle.

Bringing this aircraft to Wollongong is a crowning achievement for the hard working volunteers at HARS, and the Boeing 747 joins its growing collection of over forty aircraft types, including a Southern Cross replica, a PBY Catalina, a Douglas DC3, a DC4, a Lockheed P2 Neptune, a Super Constellation – the beloved “Connie”, a Vampire, a Sabre, a Mirage, and an F111.

For all those followers of this blog who are also aviation enthusiasts, if you are coming to Wollongong, make sure you leave time to visit this facility. Details here.


Crazy for PBY Catalina Flying Boats

Catalina Flying Boat courtesy of Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Albion Park, NSW, Australia (8)

Sunday February 22 was my twenty-ninth wedding anniversary. Where I live, that’s not such a big deal. We have people living here who have been married for longer than I have been on this planet, and that’s getting to be longer than I am altogether comfortable with. Nevertheless, twenty-nine years is a personal best for me, not that I am altogether sure that is how marriages are measured either :-) . . . Anywho . . . moving right along . . .

Although I rush to assure readers that we spent a happy day engrossed in each other’s company, there was a moment when I logged on to the computer, and my goodness-golly-gosh, what a surprise was waiting there. My email box was inundated with ‘likes’ and new ‘followers’ thanks to US based fellow blogger, GP Cox – who writes about the Pacific War and other military history at – having re-blogged two articles I had written on the Catalina flying boat. What a thrill that gave me. His blog has a very wide reach, and I was amazed to receive feedback from more than sixty people. That’s a first for me. I have done my best to thank each individually, but if I missed you, let me just say I was delighted to receive such a positive response.

My fascination with Catalinas first began in 1974. I had moved to the eastern suburbs of Sydney, near to the Rose Bay flying base which ran a commuter service to Lord Howe Island. How I longed to take an island holiday by travelling there in one of those flying birds! Unfortunately the service was withdrawn in September 1974 before I had saved enough pennies. It was a sad day for me, let me tell you. There is still a restaurant on the water at Rose Bay called The Catalina, but its website only gives a scant nod to the original history.

So I never achieved that ambition, but from time to time in my travels I stumble across Catalinas. So it was that hubbie and I chanced upon the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum in Victoria (Aust), which is the post Pacific Paratrooper re-blogged. He also included a link to a follow up story on the Black Cats and Double Sunrise Service, featuring the Catalina of our local Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) at Albion Park, south of Wollongong, New South Wales (Aust).

There is obviously such a love of this craft that I decided to re-feature that particular Catalina. It is about to appear at the Australian International Airshow to be held at Avalon Airport, Victoria. The Catalina will leave Albion Park tomorrow morning with two pilots, an engineer and around half dozen other support people. The flight will take four hours and fifteen minutes, and the Catalina will perform flypast and handling demonstrations on three days of the show. Below is the media release, taken from the Airshow website

At the end of this post, I am including the photographs provided to me last year by HARS. However, I rang my buddy as I was drafting this post, and they were right in the middle of preparing the Catalina for tomorrow’s flight. He promptly took A LOT of photos for me. I am going to include them all here in a slide show, ‘cos I guess there are some enthusiasts out there who will love to see the details of how it is currently fitted i.e. military style. You will note that it was raining here today, but not too bad. The photos include the pilot ( in blue) Gordon Glynn, and flight engineer, Jim Marshall.

For good measure, I will also throw in a few photographs of the author with a Catalina taken last September at the Imperial War Museum Duxford in Cambridgeshire, England. You will notice it is not black :-)


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MEDIA RELEASE Black Cat on the Prowl

A classic World War Two workhorse, the famous PBY Catalina flying boat, will be among the many historic warbirds soaring skyward at Airshow 2015. Catalinas were used extensively by the RAAF during the War and were dubbed Black Cats because they often flew night time missions behind enemy lines. (In fact PBYs were often painted black as a night camouflage). From bases in northern Australia they would probe deep into Japanese-held territory on assignments that often involved 30 hours or more continuous flying. Catalina crews mined many harbours including Hong Kong and Manila, inserted commandos into enemy areas and rescued many downed Allied aircrew. These long range seaplanes were slow, even by the standards of the day, with a cruising speed of 200 kilometres an hour however they boasted a highly impressive range of 5,700 kilometres. They were armed with 2 x 50 caliber machine guns in blisters port and starboard and 303 machine guns in turrets fore and aft. They could also carry 1,800 kilograms of mines or bombs hung from beneath the wings. It was the same bomb load as the B-17 Flying Fortress. Catalinas were fitted with the same Pratt and Whitney engines used on the Dakota DC3, power units famed for their reliability. The Black Cat appearing at Avalon is owned by the Historic Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) and is painted to represent RAAF A94-362 as flown by HARS member Rees Hughes. It is fitted with wheels rather than floats. The society maintains the aircraft as a flying memorial to all Australian airmen who flew these hardy, durable and versatile machines during the War. The Australian International Airshow and Aerospace and Defence Exposition will be staged at Avalon Airport 24 February to 1 March.

Catalina Flying Boat courtesy of Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Albion Park, NSW, Australia (1) Catalina Flying Boat courtesy of Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Albion Park, NSW, Australia (2) Catalina Flying Boat courtesy of Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Albion Park, NSW, Australia (3) Catalina Flying Boat courtesy of Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Albion Park, NSW, Australia (4) Catalina Flying Boat courtesy of Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Albion Park, NSW, Australia (5) Catalina Flying Boat courtesy of Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Albion Park, NSW, Australia (6) Catalina Flying Boat courtesy of Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Albion Park, NSW, Australia (7)







I belong to No One to be Published in July 2015

2015-02-12 Hachette Flowers 001


These beautiful flowers are a gift from my publisher. Yes, you read that right dear readers. In July, Hachette Australia will release my memoir, I Belong to No One, as a paperback and ebook simultaneously. Set in 1960s and 1970s Australia, it is an emotionally engaging tale of a time when women were trapped by the shameful secrets of teen pregnancy, illegitimacy and domestic abuse. As events unfold, the reader gains insight into the reason our former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, issued an apology to all those affected by the practices of Forced Adoption. It is a story of loss, but it is also a story of triumph over adversity, and I hope many people will be touched and comforted through reading it.

Recently, I had my first official meeting with Hachette, where I was guided through what to expect in the run-up to publication and the first months following release. They are working on the back cover blurb – which is a good thing – because I found writing a synopsis harder than writing the book, and the idea of condensing the synopsis into an attention grabbing few paragraphs had my head in a spin. I should also have the finalised cover in the next month.

At the meeting, my publisher at Hachette was very supportive. She stressed to me that I should celebrate every step of the way, and reminded me, in the nicest possible way, what an achievement it is to secure a publishing contract in today’s climate. Hear, hear!

Really, it is still difficult to absorb this is really happening to me. A career in shipping and logistics hardly prepared me for this experience, so every step of the journey is a brand new day. It is quite a ride.

I can confess now that I was unable to blog for a couple of months as I was head down, nose to the grindstone, shoulder to the wheel, bum on seat, fingers glued to laptop etc. etc., soldiering on through yet another edit of my memoir. I had already self-edited to the point where I felt I could do no more, at which time I sent the manuscript to a professional for appraisal. That resulted in another edit, which then led on to another manuscript appraisal with a different editor, who then worked with me to get it to publishable standard.

Last year fellow blogger Sandra Danby wrote an excellent post on her experience of copy-editing her novel Ignoring Gravity. You can be sure I had already taken on board what she had to say. Sandra also kindly announced my publication in her ‘new books coming soon’ section last February 22nd. Thank you Sandra!

The difference with the most recent edit is that I was responding to the publisher’s copy editor. Then in today’s mail I have received what is called first page proofs. Now the layout looks as it would if it was in a printed book. I have glanced through the stack, and it looks – different. No longer is it a manuscript in Times New Roman 12. No longer is it double-spaced on A4 paper. I have spent so many, many years looking at a manuscript, and now . . . gosh. Well, it is no longer my baby, that is for sure. It seems to have turned into a teenager overnight, a stranger inhabiting the body of the child you thought you knew so well. Now I have to look at it very, very critically making sure my changes have been interpreted correctly, and looking for proof reading errors.

I have a publisher, (she sighs and looks dreamy) . . . picture insecure debut author dancing around the laptop. A little celebration before the hard work of proof-reading begins.

My Dark and Stormy Night Story

It was a dark and stormy night. Whoops! Correction. Last night was a dark and stormy night. The meeting I was attending broke up around nine pm. Downstairs, the rain stopped long enough for me to reach my car parked a few minutes away. I hadn’t wanted to take the train. I wouldn’t get home until well after eleven pm and I didn’t feel safe on the public transport at that time of night.

I punched ‘home’ into the satnav, which proceeded to wind me around suburban streets in a zig-zag pattern, right, left, right, left – when all the time my innate sense of direction told me the main road was straight ahead. The rain was falling heavily again, and cars were parked on both sides of the darkened back streets. It was difficult to pick out exactly where my side of the road actually was. Finally, the satnav merged me onto the main highway, much further south than where I would have joined left to myself, and just beyond a wide curve which hid the traffic I was joining.

On familiar territory at last, I relaxed and turned on the radio. It was a political panel discussion. Last week our (Liberal) Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, fought off an internal leadership spill. The word on the street is that he ordered his front bench to vote for him, meaning that when the votes were counted, something like 60% of his back bench voted against him. He prevailed. Partly because no one actually stood against him. In a television interview that night, he told the reporter “I know how to beat Labor Party leaders. I beat Kevin Rudd, I beat Julia Gillard, I can beat Bill Shorten as well. What I’m not good at is fighting the Liberal Party and that’s why I say to all of my colleagues: we will now go on together to build a better Australia and to point out that Bill Shorten has no answers; he just has a complaint.” (Translation for non-Australian readers: Bill Shorten etc are the opposition Labor Party)

I sighed. When will we ever have a government that stops focusing on beating their opponents into power, and concentrates instead on governing the country? Visionary Australian Prime Ministers who can actually lead seem a distant memory. Maybe they were always a myth.

The rain was pelting on the roof and I had the radio volume up loud. I passed a railway station lit brightly enough to be seen from space. Whenever I pass this station I wonder why it is so well fitted out in comparison to others on that line. Although it is close to the end of the Sydney suburban rail network, it is not a connection hub. I found myself wondering about who was their local parliamentary member and how much clout he or she had.

Five minutes later I slowed to go through Heathcote, the gateway to the Royal National Park and a landmark on the freeway drive south to Wollongong. Moments later, we all accelerated again, striving for the 100klm (60mph) limit, except the rain was so heavy and visibility so poor that most of the scant traffic was doing less than that. No one could put their high beam on though, as we would dazzle oncoming traffic and the light only bounce back at us in the rain. Every so often a flash of lightning lit the way ahead.

I became aware of an unusual sound from the tyres. For a minute or so, I told myself it must be the sound of the wet tarmac. I strained to see if the road surface was different on this stretch. Then I turned the radio off and listened harder as I drove. The cabin was filling with a howling noise. Not normal. Not good.

Last year, I had a flat tyre on exactly this stretch of highway, going in the opposite direction. Could I really have a flat again? In the old days, you knew immediately, the car would wobble, almost out of control, and the steering wheel would drag heavily. In my more recent experience, with tubeless tyres, the only signal is the weird noise.

There is bushland either side of the freeway at this point, and no lights. In the darkness, with the rain still lashing down, I tossed the alternatives in my mind. Trash the tyre by driving on – or stop the car here and risk getting hit by a following car when I got out to see what was the problem? I chose to drive on, slower, but still covering about a kilometre a minute. A couple of minutes later, I pulled over onto an unlit, deserted side road that leads up to a pet hotel. No traffic going there at this time of night. Out of the car in a break in the rain – sure enough. Driver’s rear tyre, flat as the proverbial tack.

When the road assist arrived about thirty minutes later, he didn’t bother to greet me. He looked at a cement dividing strip at the entrance to the side road. “S’pose you managed to hit that?”

“Well, no, actually,” I replied. “This happened a couple of k’s back.” I didn’t know whether to be more mortified at the suggestion that I had driven straight off the road into a cement bollard, or to be admitting that I had knowingly driven the tyre into the ground.

When I was much younger, I used to change my own flat tyres, although in reality it was a two woman job. One to hold the crowbar and another to jump on the handle to loosen or tighten the nuts. These days, there is no point trying it yourself. Another break in the rain gave him the ten minutes he needed. All I did was stand by with umbrella at the ready as he placed his jack – which looked more like a breathing machine – under the car, attached it to a compressor, sent the car shooting in the air and then got out his racing car style zzt-zzt machine to unscrew the nuts.

I’d run the hazard lights while waiting for him to show up, so I asked him to wait while I checked that hadn’t flattened the battery as well. Then he decided to stand on the cement bollard with his torch while I reversed up to get in position to drive back on to the highway. It was a kind gesture. Can you imagine if I had hit it and caused a second flat? Then I really would be in trouble.

I still had thirty minutes of high speed freeway driving to reach home. I left the radio off and imagined every odd motor sound as more signals of trouble on the horizon. The rain came again so heavily that all the southbound traffic bunched into a congo line, snaking along below the speed limit, all with our hazard lights on. We left braking distance between each other, but none of us dropped so far back as to lose sight of the lights in front. “Visibility was poor” is an understatement, and there was still the steep descent of Mount Ousley to negotiate.

Eventually I walked in the door sometime after eleven pm – around the same time as if I had taken the train. Bill commented that he’d heard “a bit of rain” and seen the occasional flash of lightning.

“Bill,” I said, “Out there, it is a dark and stormy night . . . ”






The Annual March of the Grandchildren

2015-01-20 Symbio Zoo 137

Nonna, if I look cute will you feed me again? Meerkat imitating the look of hungry grandchild . . .

The six week Australian summer school holidays are at an end, and all our grand-kidlets are back in their respective cubby-holes for another term. Once again, we managed to have visits where they tagged each other: at first two, joined by the next two, then three went, and then there was one, until finally none. When they are all here, it is like a chorus from Ten Green Bottles, with kids literally hanging off the walls and sharing beds. But we wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, I would – but partially geography, and partially availability, means the visits always get sandwiched into January.

They are not really kids any more, so we can count ourselves lucky if they still want to come and visit Nonna and Pa in the upcoming years. Three are in high school, with the eldest of them now starting senior school (two years here), and then, scores willing – off to university. And she just got her driver’s learning permit. Watch out!

It was an action packed time, with lots of sun and water, at the beach, the swimming pool, and all day at a local water theme park. Actually, I had a ball at that one too! I rode the various water slides, and had two goes using a toboggan bobsled on metal rails (the only dry activity). Then there were visits to a local zoo, and twice to the movies. As luck would have it though, for Australia Day (26th January), the weather turned cool, and the evening fireworks were almost obliterated by rain.

We took heaps of photos, but I am reluctant to post photos without their parents knowledge, so here are some alternatives . . . Hope you enjoy . . .

This is a THONG (not a flip-flop)

This is a THONG (not a flip-flop)

And this is a thing throwing contest on Australia Day

And this is a THONG throwing contest on Australia Day

And this is Kidlets #3 and #4 saying good-bye to Wollongong until the next time

And this is Kidlets #3 and #4 saying good-bye to Wollongong until the next time

Fireworks in a hazy rain

Fireworks in a hazy rain

Liz Thurlow, Part Nine: Lies and More Lies

‘The usual?’ Bob was already reaching for the gin bottle.

‘Why would it be any different?’ Liz’s tone was waspish, unnecessarily sarcastic. She was still feeling fragile, off-balance.

Bob gave her a hard look as he poured the gin and tonic. Liz turned back to the stove. Bob took his beer around to the other side of the kitchen bench where he could see her side on.

‘You okay?’

‘Why wouldn’t I be?’

‘You look a bit . . . peakish.’

‘Thanks for the compliment.’

‘Liz. I’m only asking. You don’t seem to be yourself lately.’

‘So nice of you to notice.’

‘So what is it?’

‘Nothing . . . everything. Oh nothing. I just get sick of doing the same thing, day in, day out.’

Bob took another sip of his beer. ‘Dot rang me today.’

‘Dot?’ Liz felt her stomach freeze. ‘Dot who?’

‘Dot. Your tennis friend.’

‘Oh? Why would she do that?’

‘She says you haven’t been at tennis lately. They’re all worried about you. She says she’s been ringing the house – no answer. And no answer to her messages either.’

‘Well, I haven’t heard the phone ring.’ Liz tried to sound off-hand. ‘Hasn’t rung much at all lately, come to think of it.’

‘Have you stopped tennis?’

‘Yes. I got a bit bored. Same old, same old. And those biddies. Always got too much to say about other people’s business.’

‘You didn’t think to tell them first?’ Bob was dialling a number on his mobile.

Liz ignored his question, tried to deflect the conversation, ‘Who are you calling?’ she asked.

‘Us. Checking out whether the phone is ringing.’ They both paused, listening to the ring-out tone on the mobile. The home phone stayed silent.

‘Strange,’ Bob strolled over and picked it up, ‘Oh! Here’s the problem. The volume button is pushed way down. I wonder how that happened?’

‘Maybe I did it when I was cleaning,’ Liz’s stomach was doing back-flips now. ‘I disinfected everything a few weeks back.’

‘Mmmm, doesn’t explain why it is not recording messages though.’ Bob dialled the number again and let the phone ring out to the message bank. ‘Testing, testing,’ he spoke into the mobile.

He was just about to play it back when Liz banged the dinner down on the table. ‘Oh, stop fussing will you. I’ll check it out tomorrow.’ She stabbed at the remote control. ‘Here – the news has already started. You’ll miss the headlines.’


Bob didn’t doze off on the lounge after dinner. He seemed to be unusually alert. Around ten, he suggested they turn in together. As he pulled back the covers on his side of the bed, he frowned.

‘Liz. Clean sheets?’

‘Yes. So?’

‘Liz. It’s the second pair this week.’

‘You notice these things?’

‘Well, I can hardly not notice. Yesterday’s were brown, these are blue.’

Liz hadn’t counted on this. She imagined Bob staggered up the stairs and fell in to bed each night oblivious to these things.

‘Look,’ she said, ‘I had a lay down, and . . . well, I had an accident. Embarrassing really. I had to change the sheets.’

‘What sort of accident?’

‘Really, Bob. I don’t want to talk about it.’

‘Liz,’ Bob was looking very concerned, ‘are you sure you are quite well? You wouldn’t keep anything from me would you?’

‘Why would you think that?’

‘Well, when I was talking to Dot, I suggested you might have been still helping that new woman.’

‘Which woman?’ Liz was confused.

‘The new one at the tennis club. The one you said needed to have a second breast scan.’

‘Oh, her. No . . . no I haven’t seen her in a while.’

‘Well, it’s just that Dot said there was no new woman.’

Liz felt she was going to throw up. She wasn’t used to lying. She never imagined it would be so complicated.

‘Silly old -‘

Bob cut in. ‘Liz, it was you wasn’t it. You got a call back on your last scan. And you didn’t tell me. Why would you keep something like that from me? I’m your husband. I’m here to support you.’

Liz breathed out. Of course! Why hadn’t she thought of that!

‘Look,’ she said, more smoothly than she could have imagined she was capable of, ‘I didn’t want to worry you. Over nothing. And it was nothing – really.’

‘So why have you stopped tennis? And why are you lying down in the day? You’ve always been so energetic.’

‘Oh, I don’t know. It’s probably menopause. Hot sweats and all that.’

‘But, you’re only fifty Liz. Would you be menopausal already?’

‘Lot’s of women are at that age.’

Bob looked unconvinced. ‘Well, I hope you’d tell me if there is anything serious. I’m concerned for you Liz. Something doesn’t seem quite right lately. You would tell me, wouldn’t you?’

‘Of course, silly.’ Liz gave him a hug and a kiss. ‘Thank you. You’re such a sweet man.’

Her mouth was saying one thing, her head was thinking another. And her stomach was roiling.


A few hours later Liz stirred to the sounds of gas rumbling in her stomach. It wasn’t long before she could feel hot acid churning in her gut. It was burning, running back up towards her throat. She couldn’t stay lying down. Liz shook herself awake and stumbled to the bathroom for some antacid. Then she sat in the big armchair in the bedroom, the one she used to nurse the children when they were little babies. She tried to doze off, sitting upright, like she used to do so long ago, but the reflux attack was the worst she had ever experienced. Her stomach and chest were on fire. She was in agony. She tip-toed to the bathroom downstairs and tried to throw up quietly, but nothing happened. She didn’t want to wake Bob, couldn’t face any more of his questions right then. She took another antacid and propped herself up on the lounge, willing the pain away. Eventually, she drifted into a light doze.

She was dreaming, images and conversations mixing and melding. Tony, Bob, houses, utes, number plates . .  I BLD 4U. Srce Moy. My darling one. Dostoevsky. Caravans. Boring holidays. Her children. Babies nursing at her breast. Jan tap dancing. Her watering Jan’s garden. Tony again. Breast scans. But she wasn’t sure if she was dreaming. There was a voice in her head. It was asking over and over, is this dream or reality? And she was answering, this one is a dream, this one is reality.

It was the pre-dawn bird calls which stirred her again. After all, she must have slipped into a deeper sleep. She padded back upstairs and slipped into bed beside Bob. He rolled over and cuddled into her. ‘You okay?’ it was a muffled mumble into her hair.

‘Mmmm. Needed the toilet. Nothing to worry about. Go back to sleep.’

He pulled her closer and snuggled in. The snuffles a moment later told her he had dropped off again. She lay there planning what she should do next. She knew she had seen the answer in her dream. She just had to remember the message.


 As soon as Bob left for the station, Liz was on her mobile. She jabbed in the number from the slip of paper she still had in her wallet. It answered on the third ring.


‘Yeah. Tony Babic here.’

‘Tony. It’s Liz.’

‘Liz?’ he sounded surprised.

‘Are you on your way to Jan’s?’

‘Yeah. What wrong Liz?’

‘Are you alone?’

‘Of course. Like usual.’

Liz took a breath. ‘Tony. I don’t want you to come here any more.’

‘Oh! You mean Liz – you wanna’ stop? Just like that? Why?’

This is it Liz. This is the moment where you say: ‘That’s right Tony. I don’t want you coming here any more. This was a bad idea. I don’t know why I didn’t realise before. I thought I was bored, but really I was content. I have a perfect life, perfect husband. He knows I am hiding something from him. Now he is worrying that I am sick with cancer and not telling him. This has got to stop.’

Liz clutched the phone tighter. ‘That’s right Tony. I don’t want you coming here any more. This was a bad idea. I don’t know why I didn’t realise before. My husband knows I am hiding something from him.’

‘Liz? You wan we stop seeing each other?’

‘No, silly. I mean it was a bad idea doing it here. I’ve had the key to Jan’s house all along. I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before now.’

‘You wan meet in Jan’s house?’

‘Yes, of course. Much simpler.’

‘You think that good idea?’

‘It’s a great idea. Should have thought of it ages ago.’

‘Well, whatever you think is good.’

‘And another thing Tony . . . From now on, I choose the timing.’

‘Sure, boss.’ Liz could picture the grin on his face, ‘so I see you soon, ne?’

‘Mmmmm, might be time for me to keep you guessing.’ Liz was laughing now, ‘See you.’

Liz rang off, checked back into her call log and deleted the record. No point leaving a trail, she thought.

This is the ninth part in a story building exercise for character, Liz Thurlow.

Previous Episodes: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight













Liz Thurlow, Part Eight: A Beautiful Picture

Editor’s Note: I have been away for almost three months and all that time Liz Thurlow has been stuck in bed with Tony Babic. Now, some may say that is a good thing – but in my opinion, it is high time to get that girl out of there! So here goes with a 30 minute unplanned writing session

. . .

Liz lay on the bed stroking the hollow where Tony had been, re-imagining his hands playing over her, hearing again his whispered words of encouragement, those he breathed into her ear and those he muffled into the hollow of her neck. His poetry and his passion – how she wished she could hold onto that forever. She dreamed of waking in the morning with him by her side, to be able to turn her naked body toward him and wrap herself around those thighs. Their two beings entwined as one.

She sank her head into his pillow and breathed in the left behind smell of him, soaking it into her senses.  His scent was so unique, musky, sweaty – it smelt like . . . like . . .

Well, it didn’t smell like Bob did, that was for sure. And it got into everything – the pillows, the sheets, the pores of her skin. It even hung in the air around the room. That was a problem they glossed over in the romance books.

“A penny for them?” Tony stood over her, dripping despite the towel hanging loosely around his hips.

“Oh, I thought the shower was still running,” Liz jerked out of her daydream.

“No, srce. It’s raining. You can hear it on the awning.”

Raining? Again? Oh shit.

“Liz? You need shower too, huh?” Tony pointed to the stain spreading across the bottom sheet.

Oh shit. Oh double shit. I still haven’t called the repair man for the clothes dryer. Why can’t Tony settle on a time to come calling? Leaves me hanging around all day never knowing when he plans on turning up. I can’t get anything done.

Tony dropped the towel to the floor, started stepping into his clothes. Liz snuck a look at the clock as she jumped off the bed. They were late again today. Not even two hours before Bob would get home.

“Ah Liz,” Tony’s hands were on her shoulders, turning her, his eyes taking in every inch of her naked body. “My perfect one. I am so unhappy to leave you, but as Dostoevsky says –  ‘The greatest happiness is to know the source of unhappiness.’ . . . You are my greatest unhappiness and my greatest happiness. I leave you now, but I take this beautiful picture with me.”

Liz fidgeted a little, anxious to get the sheets off the bed and herself into the shower. Truth be known, while she lapped up the poetry in their lovemaking, the afterglow was getting tedious and more than a little corny. She was relieved when he let himself out the back door a few minutes later.

She opened the door to the bathroom, and surveyed the carnage in there. More towels on the floor, pools of water in front of the basin where he had stood naked and dripping, the cap left off Bob’s aftershave. Every day the same thing. Liz lunged at the towels, making savage swipes at the wet floor.

“So! If you love beauty so much – what the bloody hell do you call this!”

She caught a reflection, paused, looked at the naked woman with the sculpted body and tousled hair. it couldn’t be her. This woman was falling apart. She watched it start with the trembling hands, the towels tumbling out of her grasp, the shaking spreading through her body. Then the reflection disappeared as the woman sunk to the ground, crying in huge, silent bone-shaking sobs.

This is the eighth part in a story building exercise for character, Liz Thurlow.

Previous Episodes: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven