'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.

Balls Up! The Demise of Ping-Pong

Truth be told, I was never really interested. For me, it was something to do when stuck on holidays, when all televisions in a fifty-kilometre radius had malfunctioned. We didn’t have one at home. But at every caravan park we ever visited – from the dingiest lump of dirt with an adjacent toilet block to the self-proclaimed ‘holiday resorts’ – there was always a ‘Rec’ room and in that Rec room there was always a ping-pong table. As I approached the door, my heart could not help but hope for Pac Man or even a little Dig Dug. Upon pulling the handle, a dingy squat would be revealed, various incomplete board games in a pile that looked as though they had been recently assaulted and a decrepit ping-pong table.

A Beginner’s Guide to the Australian Senate

Rule 1: Get used to red. Outside of hell, nowhere has as much red as the Senate chamber. It looks like the work of the world’s laziest interior decorator. If it proves anything, it’s that sending the apprentice down to the shops to pick out a left-handed hammer can seriously backfire. The carpet is red. The walls are red. Even the desks are pretty much red. But here’s a tip – if you’re a little on the shy side and don’t want your ugly mug to appear on the news, wear red. It’ll be like you’re not even there. Granted, you’ll need to wear a red veil too, lest you should simply appear on screen as a discombobulated, floating cranium.

How to Vitiate Your Curriculum Vitae

My first instinct was to panic. When news broke that Myers had dismissed a senior executive on his first day for a resume they regarded more a work of fiction than a statement of fact, I feared the worst. For upon being told that somebody’s CV is inaccurate, I am loathe to judge. Some may regard such documents as a sacrosanct regurgitation of times, places and events. I, on the other hand, consider my curriculum vitae to be something of a creative wonderland; one in which I can let my imagination run wild before sitting down for a short break and running some more. But if the tide has finally turned against unlicensed creative license, then allow me to take the initiative and set the record straight.

This One Goes Out To The Juan I Love

Abdicate. It’s a word that is seldom pressed into service. Like sprocket or unitard, it’s one of those terms that rarely intrudes on polite conversation. But all that changed when news broke that King Juan Carlos of Spain was going to vacate the throne. As soon as the breaking news flashed on the screen, I immediately fetched my ‘In Case of Zombie Apocalypse’ backpack and headed straight for the cellar. Which, given that I live in a first floor apartment, came as something of a shock for the downstairs neighbours. Reacting as though an invasion of the undead had just been announced may seem a touch over the top to some, but it’s not every day that someone decides to throw caution to the wind and abdicate. Besides, I’ve seen several episodes of Game of Thrones and know for a fact that these things can get very messy, very quickly.

Lego And Other Dark Arts

Did you ever truly hate someone? So much so that their every success leaves a taste in your mouth so bitter that it threatens to ruin your tastebuds for all eternity? Where their slightest triumph or most feeble of victories is like a slap to the face with a wet hamster? It’s an enmity so powerful that it is undimmed by years and distance. I’m talking about the kind of loathing where the mere mention of their name is like a kick in the down-belows by a hung-over Draught horse. I’m ashamed to admit it but I carry precisely that kind of detestation inside me.

The Rise and Fall of a Fatback Idiot Box

Somewhere along the line, things got seriously out of whack. Once upon a time, home cinemas were the exclusive preserve of those who had indoor bowling alleys and monkey butlers. Not anymore. The default setting for television sets is now ginormous. It used to be the only time you saw a screen that big, it was surrounded by world leaders and they were watching a threatening message from some mutant super-villain demanding a mega ransom. Now people routinely sit and watch old episodes of Gardening Australia on screens that swallow their living room wall without so much as a second, third or even fourth thought. Things have changed.

The Empire of Rhyme Strikes Back

My nephew, Jake, had a problem. As a thoughtful and considerate uncle, it was only natural that I should help. His football team were assigning nicknames – apparently, such things no longer occur spontaneously ­– and he got lumbered with ‘Beefy’. This is not a reference to his physical dimensions (he’s as lean as a whippet) but, rather, to his surname: Cowburn. We both rued an opportunity lost. Using the logic adopted by his teammates could easily have resulted in an awesome nickname, like ‘T-Bone’, ‘Lord Bovine’ or ‘The Burger King’. Even ‘Beef Pattie Newton’ has a certain charm. Given the names inflicted on some of the other players though, my nephew got off lightly. Suffice to say that one of the larger kids got saddled with the irretrievably unflattering, The Wall with Eyes.

Driven To Eggstremes

The Christmas message is one of goodwill to all. Easter, on the other hand, is more about wet camping and chocolate-induced psychosis. In fact, Easter is a lot like daylight savings; each year it stretches out further and further. It is a period of time much like the cosmic elastic in the great interstellar underpants of the Universe that forever threatens to take over the entire twelve months. Before the Yuletide tinsel has been packed back in its cardboard box, buns and eggs start appearing. For many, it’s a time to cherish. For me, it’s a painful reminder that I am wholly and utterly without the slightest skerrick of self-control. Or, at least, I am wholly without self-control when compared with my brother. But there’s an upside, though.

The Secret Diary of a Former Foreign Minister Aged 65 ¾

Dignity – once lost it can never be regained. It used to be that retirement was a gentle process in which you quietly accepted the rewards of a lifetime’s work. Sometimes, however, retirement sees the shackles of civility finally loosed and the inner feral that has for decades lain dormant given permission to go absolutely berserk. A gentle walk into the sunset is not for all. Some prefer to leave whilst kicking the windows in and setting fire to the curtains. I don’t for a moment suggest that everyone treats retirement as an invitation to vandalism. But when a former politician decides to abandon the restraints of public life and exact revenge on everything from former co-workers to airline food, the results are bound to be less than dignified.

To Sir, With Love

Finally! Knighthoods are back and I, for one, am beside myself with excitement. I almost have to pinch myself – an act that being beside myself makes a whole lot simpler. Clearly, someone has been getting my letters, emails and scrolls sent by carrier pigeon. For too long, this country has been without the crowning glories that are ‘Sir’ or ‘Dame’; ever since Prime Minister Bob Hawke abolished the honours in 1986 in favour of the title, ‘Maaaate’. It’s time to set the record straight. Or, to put it more accurately: it’s time to set the record straight.