The model





Small man syndrome


We see so little from way down here

Our lives lived in small scale

At tabletop level

Just a model of reality

Tiny but intricate

Our little problems seem

So big, so urgent

Like we can see the whole board

From our limited perspective

But that’s how the universe made us

Little figures

Held together with superglue

Built with an instruction manual

Printed in a foreign language

And there’s always some important bit

Left in the box

When we’re supposed to be finished.





Words and image are my own. Diorama by Paul Clarke.





This dream I’m believing in


Don’t let me let you down


Promise me just one thing

It’s all I’ll ever ask

Promise me I’ll never know

That I let you down


Hit me over the head with a brick

Smother me in my sleep

Poison my cornflakes

But never let me know I disappointed you


If I ever look in your eyes

And see that lessening light

The fires of shame

Will burn down my heart


So have pity on me

And if that day comes

Just kill me clean

Promise me this one little thing












83. Leap of faith




On his right hand Billy tattooed the word love and on his left hand was the word fear
And in which hand he held his fate was never clear.

Springsteen, Cautious man

Finding Jersey girl helped me confront a lot of my character flaws but there was one major flaw that, thankfully, I’d managed to deal with before we met. By the time she came along, I was a better man for having faced and bested one particularly destructive personal demon. I’m eternally grateful for this fact.

For almost my entire life, I had been dogged by a very singular fear. Due to abandonment issues dating from early childhood, I carried at all times a terrible fear of being alone. If there was no one in my life to love me, I felt very like a space walker who’d lost his tether; adrift in a cold dark void.

As you can imagine, this led me to make some very poor relationship choices. It’s not putting too fine a point on it to say, back then, I was literally willing to be with any woman who would have me. I never questioned if I was compatible with them or they with me, my only requirement was that they love me and want me in their lives.

The demise of all these relationships came built in. In even the worst situations, some people can fool themselves that everything is fine no matter what but most begin, at some point, to realise they are living in a false paradigm and eventually have to get out. This is inevitably what always happened with me. And as each of these never should have been relationships reached their ugly ends, my response was to jump as quickly as possible to the next.

Yes, I am entirely aware of how messed up that is.

Several years before I met Jersey, a relationship (which had lasted eleven years) ended under such absurd circumstances that it disrupted the circuit on my usual behaviours. I have no intention of going into what those circumstances were but, needless to say, they were life (and attitude) altering. I found myself alone, flat broke, and weary of the constant cycle of beginnings and endings. By this time I was in my mid-forties and simply couldn’t stomach the idea of doing it all again.

For the first time in my life, the prospect of being alone seemed less disturbing than the thought of embarking on yet another doomed relationship. And a strange thing started to happen. I began to grow comfortable with myself; feel like less of an imposter in my own skin. For the first time in my life, I could see that I was alright on my own, I could survive.

So, of course, that was when the love of my life came along. Oh, it didn’t happen immediately. I lived for several years as a happily single man. And that’s why I was in the perfect position to receive her. I had proven to myself that I could be on my own. This wasn’t me jumping at the first interested woman who came along. This was me, clear-headed and self-aware, finding the one thing I’d never had.

True love knocked on my door that day and I was in the perfect place to recognise it. Because, when you’re no longer being held hostage by desperation, you are far more able to recognise something good when it comes your way. I doubt, had Jersey girl found her way to me even five years earlier than she did, she’d have felt the same way about me as she now does because the person I was then was nothing like the man she fell for.

Words and image are my own.


Shadow man



Step right up


He was a Chinese puzzle box

Even to himself

A complex sequence of

Misdirections and hidden pressure points

Those who tried to unriddle him

Turned him over and over

Fingers probing for hidden levers and switches

Desperate to reveal the secret that would

Open him up to their scrutinies but

Found too many sliding compartments

And an obscene number of

Twists and turns

False bottoms and ornate decoys

They always gave up in the end

Well before the final piece went click

Then she came

And like a nine-year-old with a rubik’s cube

She solved him in ten seconds

And claimed her dubious reward.








The church


Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life

Hozier, Take me to church

In recent times I’ve had the opportunity to visit two cathedrals, St Patrick’s in New York (opened 1878) and St Patrick’s in Melbourne (opened 1897). Though these two magnificent buildings share a name they are remarkably different in many ways.

I was struck by how light the cathedral in New York is – it actually looks like it might float away – as compared to its namesake in Melbourne. St Patrick’s here is a dark edifice built like some medieval fortress. The local bluestone from which most of the cathedral is constructed lends it a very dark and forbidding aspect quite unlike its American sister.

To me, Melbourne’s St Patrick’s is very male and New York’s very female. Of the two, I must admit I prefer the latter.

















All images are my own.