Good news spurred me on to write about Africa and I'm lost for words.

 I'm digging up Africa photos - there is Mike - the tall handsome one - my soulmate.  Some photos don't need many words or any translation.   We were lost and all those damn cotton fields looked exactly alike. 

I'm digging up Africa photos - there is Mike - the tall handsome one - my soulmate.  Some photos don't need many words or any translation.  
We were lost and all those damn cotton fields looked exactly alike. 

Good news spurred me on

I started my second manuscript in January when I opened the Africa letters.   I’ve been dragging my hands a bit, but last week, I got a literary agent, Brendan Fredericks, who has taken on my first manuscript - one I wrote about living in Hong Kong.  It takes me a step nearer publishing.  It's an absolute delight to have Brendan on side and it’s having a galvanising effect. I’m writing like crazy, loving it and cursing too.

It's bloody hard work

This writing is no superficial retiree diversion, it’s as challenging as any physical marathon.  Long hours hunched over the keyboard give way to long nights when words play the devil with me.  I sleep with a writing pad at my bedside.  Not so much to catch my midnight inspirations as to empty my head of words. 

By night there are too many, yet by day there are never enough.  

Only a million

There are about a million words in the English language and once you take away the chemical, technical and scientific words...

So less than a million.  I feel I’ve gone through them all and am still left wanting; I might need more…

Monolinqual or Monoglot?

Then I remembered a young Afghan friend who shook his head when talking to me one day.  “It must be awful only to speak one language.”
 
“I’m embarrassed and I wish I’d learned more,” I said truthfully, “But I get by.”  

“I can't imagine it.  Isn't it dull?  I mean there are words in Farsi that express things that you don’t have in English and words in English that Farsi lacks.  Farsi is so poetic.”

It really struck a chord with me.  Surosh was only a teenager at the time we had the conversation. 

I did feel deprived, but it was entirely my own fault.

A Polyglot

Recently I heard about a young American, another teenager.  Tim Doner, a well known polyglot.  He spoke 23 languages (probably he's added another half-dozen by now) and said Farsi was his favourite.

Both young men can quote Hafez, the 14th century Iranian poet - impressive.  Because I know they'd just as easily quote Shakespeare.

Imagine...

Imagine if polyglots had time to write books.  Picture them: chewing their pens, rubbing their temples, contemplating which word from which language best to express the required sentiment.

Mind you, they might need to self-publish…  Or to start an elite club.

So I'll just have make do, after all others have managed...

Oh well I can take some solace in the historical beginnings of English, it’s a bastard language: German, Norse, Danish, Dutch, French Latin. And I’m too busy writing to take up languages, so one million words will have to do. 

I leave you with a line by Hafez

“Ever since happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets trying to find you.” 

Now I’m sure a lot gets lost in translation, but I’m glad there was someone there to try.  

 

 When I read poetry, I feel the words lift of the page and spin, suddenly more flexible and closer. 

When I read poetry, I feel the words lift of the page and spin, suddenly more flexible and closer. 

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2013/06/14/american-who-speaks-23-languages-says-persian-is-his-favorite/

http://www.languagemonitor.com/number-of-words/no-of-words/

Dropping off dangerous spiders!

 I didn't take this photo...  It was taken in my house, in my garden ... relax!

I didn't take this photo...  It was taken in my house, in my garden ... relax!

The international guests I host through Airbnb are hardly in the door, when they ask about spiders.

“Not to worry, the spiders in the house are harmless, you have to really go looking for dangerous ones!”

They are not easily convinced.

And then one time...

Moments after I had shown one guest her room, she arrived screaming in the kitchen and threw herself into my arms.

"A spider, a spider, above my bed!"

IKEA should really not sell lamps like this in Australia:

 I didn't buy it to terrify guests, I bought it to amuse my small children

I didn't buy it to terrify guests, I bought it to amuse my small children

 

Guests ask difficult questions

Although I'm reassuring, the conversation complicates if guests follow up by asking if I have ever found a dangerous spider in the house.

“Well yes, once, but a long while ago ...” 

Their eyes widen, “IN THE HOUSE?”

“Yes, but it was before we put in flyscreens and got brushy things on the bottom of the doors.”

This confirms their worst fears – the spiders are OUT THERE, battering to get in

They immediately want to know more.  “What kind of spider?  What did you do?”

“Well it was a funnel-web. I released it in Lane Cove National Park.”

What I don’t tell them is that I confiscated it from a guest who was a biology student.  He'd put it in a jar and wanted to keep it as a pet.  When he cooked, the jar sat on the kitchen bench.  Other brave guests would shake the jar to see if it was true funnel-webs jumped.    But when he told me he let it out for runs, I’d had enough. 

Neither do I tell them that I didn’t drop it at the nearest entrance to the Park but took it far away as I was terrified it might have some kind of homing instinct.

That’s why I prefer hosting graduates.  They are past keeping things in jam-jars.

Take aim, fire!

“You didn’t kill it?” is the next question from my newest guest.  It is especially Australian men that want it dead.  And they repeat, "Really, you didn't kill it?"

Last week my daughter Emily listened to my spider spiel

She watched the expressions on the faces of my guests as I moved into the convoluted story about the single funnel web ever known to have crossed the doorstep. 

Afterwards, she took me aside and said, “Mum too much information.”

 “But I can’t lie!” I say...   “I have to tell them when they ask if I’ve ever had a dangerous spider in the house.”

“But Mum, it was over five years ago.”

“But it still happened.”

There was a pause while Emily, who is very practical and solution focused, thought about my predicament.

“Mum, think of it like demerit points - spider sightings drop off after five years.”

 

 

AND IF YOU REALLY MUST KNOW MORE:

Don’t mess with spiders with your bare hands

Don’t leave your soggy towels on the floor

Don’t walk around outside at night in bare feet

Don’t touch spiders in the kids paddling pool – funnel-webs just look drowned

Don’t go poking around in my garden without gloves on

And if you find one, call Emily