'THE MEANING OF EXISTENCE (AND OTHER SHORT STORIES)' is available for purchase! Just follow the link for an on-line shopping experience that will surely blow your mind.  Upon request, Stuart will sign your copy, either with his name or that of somebody else selected by you.  The book was launched on 28 November 2011 at the Wheeler Centre and is now orbiting the third sun of Jupiter.   In doing so, it has become the first collection of short stories to reach a major cellestial body since Max Walker's 'How to Puzzle a Python' was smuggled on board the Soyuz TM-4 Mir Space Station by one of the cosmonauts.  Also, the first chapter of Stuart's upcoming novel 'GOODSIR' is available in a newly released anthology.  It can be downloaded for free from Amazon by using the following address: http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Novel-Anthology-2012-ebook/dp/B009YNMPPW  Frankly, it would be cheap at half the price.

Confessions of a Beverage Snob

Even I was shocked. Some things, once said, cannot be forgotten. Even if not written down, they live on in the memory of those unfortunate enough to have heard them. They’re permanent. Words, once they leap over your lips and escape past your teeth, can never be caught. To hear my own voice speaking the unspeakable was an existential jolt to the system from which I may never recover. I began to question everything. How did it come to this? What kind of monster have I become? Is it too late to change my order? Because never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I’d ever utter the following words: I’ll have a skinny decaf flat white, thanks.

A Brief History of the Middle Ages

There’s no getting around it. Not even with a Melways, a torch and sturdy pair of hiking boots. It’s just too big. Better, then, to take a deep breath and admit it outright – middle age has well and truly arrived and there is nothing left to do but to embrace it in all it’s tea-sipping, slipper-wearing, youth-pitying glory than to deny it. I’ll admit I was slow to realize. One moment, you’re an edgy, fashion-busting, envelope-pushing bona-fide young person surfing the counterculture wave with the utmost of ease. Then, almost overnight, you’re stuck in middle age and yelling at the television. Not that there weren’t warning signs.

When A Ford Focus Looks Into Your Soul

I swear it’s trying to tell me something. Without my so much as asking, it takes the initiative. It probably means well, but the cold, hard truth of the matter is that these efforts are both unnecessary and unwelcome. Put simply, it’s reading my mood all wrong and – if I’m being honest about it – I’m beginning to find it quite tedious. It’s not helpful and every time it happens it seems like a misreading of the circumstances. Honestly, it’s as though my wife’s Ford Focus doesn’t know me at all.

The Catastrophic Squeegee Confrontation

Before I knew what was happening it was too late. I waved my arms, I called out, I pulled a face that sat somewhere between alarm and despair, but it was to no avail. He had started and he wasn’t going to stop. There was no turning back. He was going to press on regardless. Having reached the point of no return, there was little I could do other than make sure the doors were locked and hope that the lights would change. Call it an over-reaction; I simply didn’t want anyone to clean my windscreen.

A User’s Guide to ‘The Pub Test’

I was always good at exams. I would study diligently, prepare meticulously and pretty much do all I could to ensure that when the big day came I could do my very best. However, not everything in this life can be studied for and there are some tests for which you simply can’t prepare. Instead, they are trials that seemingly drop from the sky and you either pass them or you don’t. The Pub Test is one such test.

Clear and President Danger

My father was a teacher. He taught geography, history and English. He also taught music for a time despite having no skills in this area, having been selected after accidentally walking into the music room, after mistaking it for the stationery cupboard. But despite a breathtaking lack of talent, he gave it his best shot. Teachers are like that. My mother in law was a teacher also. Our neighbour from across the street too. The schools I went to had loads of them. In fact, I’ve been surrounded by teachers my whole life. To the best of my knowledge, all of them were unarmed.

The Big Bushwalk Time Travel Extravaganza

We’d done it as kids. On family holidays to Wilson’s Promontory, we’d go for bushwalks. Sometimes the whole family. Mostly just my father, brother and I. To anyone else, these would be a nice day out. To us, though, they were great feats of endurance. The whole holiday was defined by these epic adventures. The anticipation built in the days leading up and was succeeded by days of recovery as we struggled against a tidal wave of lactic acid. It was something we enjoyed. As adults, though, it had never occurred to us to go bushwalking. Until this year.

The Gingerbread House Decorating Epiphany

I got carried away. Which is to say that my transition from bewildered detachment through to enraptured hysteria was such that I temporarily abandoned any notion of goodwill to others. Instead, I elected to mercilessly crush the opposition and do all things necessary to secure a glorious victory that, in my mind at least, would be celebrated through the ages. I speak, of course, of competitive gingerbread house decorating.

To Robo-Corey, With Love

Sigh. Deep inside, I think I knew this moment would come. But now that it’s finally here, there’s something about it that’s just so bone crushingly, spirit sappingly, mind-numbingly, bowel shakingly, gut-churningly, soul slappingly predictable that it simply can’t be allowed to pass without comment. When news broke that you’re going to robo-call a million households and tell them that the sky’s about to fall in, the first thing that entered my mind was: but of course!

How to Support the Richmond Fan In Your Life

For all intents and purposes, I’m agnostic when it comes to football. Having been born into a family of Essendon supporters, I was ostracized by my father when, at age ten, I switched to Carlton. To this day, he describes this as one of the greatest betrayals ever to occur outside of wartime. His reaction was such that I began to suspect that I’d greatly underestimated the impact of making a switch. Given the drama it caused, I kind of went quiet on the subject until, eventually, I didn’t really barrack for anyone.

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