'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.

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.

Perturbation and Other Mouth Manglers

I don’t why I kept it. Tucked between a couple of paper backs was a thin, brown volume. On the front it read ‘Spelling and Vocabulary Work Book’. On the cover I had written my name (twice, for reasons that now elude me), my school and my phone number. It was, perhaps, somewhat optimistic to think that in the event that I misplaced my Spelling and Vocabulary Work Book that a member of the general public might call me as a matter of urgency. Stumbling across something that is little more than a glorified pamphlet is not exactly on par with find their wallet or a child. Not that I ever misplaced it.

The Awkward Orchestra Debacle

They’re the odd couple in our local strip of shops. Side by side they sit, representing two very different worlds. The first is a Catholic bookstore. It’s closed on Sundays, naturally, and does a quiet but steady trade. The shop next door does tattoos. When I was growing up, these were referred to as ‘tattoo parlours’, but now they tend to prefer ‘studio’. That’s because the term ‘parlour’ was only ever used to describe businesses that operated under the shadow of infamy. Tattoos and pinball – both had the ‘parlour’ tag. Not now, though. Things have changed.

Muffin's Gonna Stop Us Now

It was inevitable, I guess. Sooner or later, it was my destiny that I should be lured back by the siren's sweet and funky song. It was only ever really a question of when. So it is that after twenty years I have taken the bold leap back into music and joined a band. And not just any band, either. More a super group. By which I mean, of course, that we may wear capes when appearing on stage. So behold the melodic wonderment of my new band, as it will shortly establish itself as a veritable ear-worm factory. Ladies and gentlemen; I give you Blueberry Crumble Muffin.

Real Rivalries That Deserve the Big Screen Treatment

Frankly, I can take it or leave it. The idea of seeing Batman and Superman going toe to toe for a couple of hours fills me with little more than inertia. Granted, given that the movie is going gangbusters at cinemas across the globe, I am clearly in the minority. On paper at least, it’s the ultimate alpha male showdown between men in tights. Which, I guess, might be entertainment of a kind. I suppose my problem with the concept is this: Batman and Superman may well get on each other’s nerves, but basically we all know they’re on the same side. They’re bound to end up, if not friends, then at least having a begrudging respect for each other. (I should have preceded that statement with the words ‘spoiler alert’. Sorry.)

Everything You Needed to Know about Democracy (But Were Afraid to Ask)

There has never been a more exciting time to call a double dissolution election. I love elections generally, but the possibility of a double D is enough to make me click my heels with joy. Fact is, double dissolution elections are about as rare as Halley’s comet and heaps more enjoyable because they don’t involve getting up at three o’clock in the morning, trudging into the back paddock and staring forlornly into the sky in the hope of seeing a little bit of light flash across the sky like a radioactive mosquito.

Once Bittern, Twice Shy

‘Big ups’. Until the moment these words were uttered, I’d been having a perfectly pleasant time. We were driving to Bittern, listening to a self-declared ‘youth orientated’ radio station. I’d been heartened by the fact that songs which, ostensibly, were written, performed and directed towards young people did not sound like something that made me want to hand my ears back on the grounds that they were clearly defective. Rather, these were songs that sounded like songs and not a computer malfunction. After the music stopped, a voice that sounded as if she may not yet be old enough to drive uttered the words that would cause my sense of wellbeing to instantly unravel.