'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.

Census Working Overtime

You’re welcome. By all means, send your best wishes by card, email or carrier pigeon but please, no flowers. After all, it truly was my pleasure. In fact, you might even say it was my duty. The weight of personal obligation aside, do spare me a thought when the next school, hospital or sporting stadium pops up in your neck of the woods. For I have done my part to make all these things happen. Granted, mine is a modest contribution, but without it you might have had to settle for a cinder-block bus shelter and a give-way sign. That’s right: I have completed the Census.

A Life Less Travelled: Byron Bay

Relaxercise. Don’t bother looking for it in any dictionary. Despite my letters, emails, postcards and frequently turning up unannounced at the front door at three o’clock in the morning, the people at Macquarie Dictionary are unaccountably reluctant to bathe the term ‘relaxercise’ in the warm glow of recognition. Which, given their willingness to dip their hat in favour of ‘goon bag’ is something of an insult. If you’re not familiar with the term, ‘relaxercise’ refers to the amount of effort required to relax. It has particular meaning to people who are (for want of a more delicate way of putting it) uptight. People just like me.

Farewell to the Snow Globe of my Youth

I’m sure it’s not just me. Even though I’m so far into adulthood that I’m in danger of bursting out the other side, it’s fair to say that I’m yet to move out of my parents’ house. Not completely. Instead, my old bedroom in Tyabb remains a repository of items that I have deemed both too important to throw away and yet not nearly important enough to take with me. They sit on shelves and are stuffed in cupboards, silently waiting for the day when I finally decide their collective fate. As a result, these items have languished for decades.

The Art of Being Arty

It’s a shame. Almost none of the masterpieces I produced as a child have been preserved. This makes the odds of any kind of retrospective exhibition even less likely than would have been the case had they survived. Forget souvenir tea towels emblazoned with my early sketches of ‘Flash Gordon’ (who was, for a time, my muse) or a set of matching coasters featuring my various attempts to replicate the ‘Ghostbusters’ logo. You’ll just have to make do with imagining how awesome it would be to own your very own tote bag displaying these potent images. I could, I suppose, try and recreate these seminal pieces of artwork but, frankly, I haven’t drawn anything more than a conclusion in the past thirty years and I suspect I could be rusty.

The Honda 110: Chariot of the Gods

Farewell, friend. You served me well. Now that it’s over, it’s hard not to look back with fondness at the time we spent together. Deep down, I knew it would come to an end at some point, I just didn’t expect that moment to be now. When I heard the news, it was as if a part of my soul left my body. There will forever more be a small hole in the shape of a three-wheeled motorbike in my heart. So long, Honda 110. You were the best motorbike a young boy could ever want.

Reflections on the Race for the Iron Throne

I couldn’t help myself. I lapped up every second of it even though it meant planting myself in front of the television for ten consecutive hours, breaking only for sustenance. It’s official: I’m hooked. I’m the first to admit that I am addicted, despite having been resistant early on. Now there’s nothing so important to me as finding out who will win the battle to rule the six kingdoms (and two territories) and sit on the Iron Throne. Ser Malcolm or Ser Bill?

A Force Awakens Within Me

I wouldn’t describe myself as a fanatic. At least, not compared to the guy a few doors down who drives the 1993 Subaru Legacy and has personalised ‘Star Wars’ number plates. (To be precise, I think it’s some vowel-deprived variant. Good thing he’s not a fan of ‘The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants’ though.) It’s not as if I refer to ‘the Force’ in everyday conversation and I’ve never nominated ‘Jedi’ as my chosen religion on a Census form. Nor have I campaigned to have May the fourth recognised as an official public holiday. But, one way or another, Star Wars has been part of my life for almost forty years.

Notes from the Bunker: Understanding Brexit

Don’t panic. I did, for a moment, but I think I’ve calmed down now. It’s more the unholy surprise of the result that saw me spring into action, strapping a metal colander on top of my head as an improvised helmet and digging a large hole in the backyard into which I intended to crawl in the hope of avoiding the inevitable fiscal fallout. The Brexit is coming. Much like the Avian Flu and the most recent season of ‘Glee’, there is nothing we can do to avoid it. We can only try to protect ourselves as best as circumstances will allow.

Craig David: Biscuit Prophet, Snack Food Soothsayer

It’s about trust, I think. When you strip away the artifice of marketing and the mercurial nature of personal preference, all that’s left is the sacred bond between man and biscuit. But it’s a fragile thing; capable of being spooked and irretrievably harmed at any point. Trust is a nerve ending, a phantom limb. It should never, under any circumstances, be taken for granted. Lo betide those who treat it with disrespect or malice. For whilst you can do almost anything in this big old world, what you cannot do (under any circumstance) is ruin one of this country’s most beloved biscuits. I speak, of course, of Arnott’s Barbecue Shapes.

Meditations on a Man-Cave

It’s done. After months and months of procrastination for which no one other than myself can reasonably be held responsible, it’s finally finished. Or, depending on your point of view, it’s as finished as it’s ever going to be. The spare room at our place that, until now, has been a dumping ground for everything from unpacked boxes of books to low-level nuclear waste, has now been wholly transformed. It no longer has to suffer the ignominy of looking like a glorified closet or one of those rooms you’d expect to see featured on a ‘tenants from hell’ expose on tabloid telly. Nor does it need to be hidden from view, lest it should bring shame to the rest of the house. Not any more.