The monotone robot voice “this train will stop at…North Sydney”. Clackety clack clackety clack is what I hear as the morning train makes it’s way over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I am struck by the solid stance of a health care worker with her badge dangling off her uniform in the main carriage. A girl in school uniform is about to get off when the train arrives.
I sketch basic lines to show the directions that eyes are facing. Not caught up in the detail. This is a basic drawing technique used when artists begin deciding on facial features.
The water is lapping against the shore as a boat or two goes cruising by. Kids dive bomb into the water as they launch themselves into the sky.
You worry the tide’s not high enough that they’ll hurt themselves when they do, but instead they climb up the ladder with a laugh and giggle or two.
And on the shore us adults peer earnestly for a cry, they may not be our own kids but our community stands by.
BY DEE GRANT 2020
Pirrama Park is on Sydney Harbour to the west side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is a treelined family friendly park with barbeques and a boardwalk. The area is one of the most densely populated suburbs with high-rise apartments all around as they take in the harbour views. That makes this park a great space for kids to get out and about in the sunshine and play.
Giggle – type of laugh usually heard in children
Dive bomb – dive to get the maximum splash. Most kids start diving and then curl themselves up into a ball. They bend their legs up high, wrap their arms around their legs, and pull their head in before they hit the water.
Tide – High tide is when the water is deepest. Low tide is when there isn’t as much.
He leans against the clear perspex. Eyes closed. The train sways like a lullaby. It’s been a long day. (Tap on picture to view) In his folded arms, protruding from his satchel a copy of the Herald newspaper. To his right are the main exit doors. This is the afternoon express heading south to Sutherland from Sydney city.
Sydney trains generally have a top deck, bottom deck, and then a main entry and adjacent wide space that has seats along each wall. This particular model has clear perspex attached to a yellow handrail that delineates the adjacent seating. In the background on the left the dark space you see is the door you would open to go into the next carriage. I would have a seat upstairs to have been able to create this one. The pencil is more controlled when I am seated.
My stories are created from true stories shared by people I meet, or places I go. For this rhyme I have included news to show the time lapse of a burning issue. So sad.
It was a lighter he said that she’d thrown on the dash, a lighter that exploded with an almighty flash. My eyes teared up, I knew not what to say. Her face caught on fire and is still scarred today. Through one simple action one life can change course. He shared they made lighters now that don’t explode with such force.
So I looked to the web to see if that was true, and saw article after article of the damage they do. I read on with sadness as from what I could see, little had changed since Leonie’s story. If anything I read of severe burns and life lost, of cheap lighters exploding … and oh what a cost.
There is no moral to this story so I just want to say, that it may look convenient but keep it out of harms way. Respect it’s dangers. Keep it in a safe place. Keep it out of hot spaces and away from your face.
BY DEE GRANT 2020
1987 – Philadelphia, U.S.A – “Bic settled for $3.25 million after the jury found the company liable for the extensive burns suffered by Cynthia Littlejohn, a Philadelphia woman who was on a camping trip when the Bic lighter in her front pocket ignited, engulfing her in flames”.- New York Times
2011 – Stephenville, Texas, U.S.A “William B Clemmer, a machinist from Stephenville, Texas was only 56 when he died. His last words, en route to a Dallas hospital, were: ‘My lighter exploded’…(he) died of severe burns over more than half of his body” – Safety Research.net
2017 – Donnybrook, WA, Australia “A young mother has been left with severe burns to her face after a butane lighter she was using blew up”
2017 – Birmingham, England “Rachel Cooper, a grandmother from Rotherham, England, was left with severe burns on her face and chest after a lighter exploded in front of her and her granddaughter” – Good Housekeeping
2019 – “Canton fire investigators believe a cheap, Chinese imported lighter exploded, burning a Canton man and costing him his home and companion dog” – Canton Rep
2019 – Gympie, Australia “Can lighters explode in your car? Gympie resident finds out after 40 degree day” – ABC News Sunshine Coast
Going to a funeral online is strange, very strange. But that is ‘the way things roll’ these days with the pandemic. I watched through 3 different cameras, and 3 different views. Each person sits on their ‘socially distanced’ chair. Facemasks are worn as an accessory to somber attire. But I’m looking from a distance, observing from afar. I’m embracing a stilted sadness but maybe that’s what I’m ‘bringing to the table’.
For me the heart of the event was not ‘lost in translation’ within this virtual world. The sadness lingers and translates in ‘pride of place’ speeches and photos heralding the life of someone much loved. They ‘pay tribute’. I feel like a flaneur, slowly considering each word and gesture of his family and friends from a virtual distance. I get to know his family, background, and accomplishments achieved. I’m watching slides and seeing my neighbour from a totally different perspective. It is special and precious.
I am honoured to have made this acquaintance. You see, knowing him at this level was outside my usual ‘frame of reference’. We were neighbours, sometimes chatting at the lift or grabbing a coffee with him and his wife. I had only picked up bits and pieces of their world. But one photo truly resonated with me and put a smile on my face. There he is with his takeout coffee sitting on his walking frame near our local cafe. I can see the exact spot in my mind.
Rest in peace.
The way things roll – how thing are
Socially distanced – Guideline for keeping physically separated to reduce the spread of the virus
Bringing to the table – your contribution
not ‘Lost in translation’ – It was understood
Pride of place – treated as the most important thing
Paying tribute – honour and praise someone
Flaneur – People watching (French)
Frame of reference – set of ideas that you base your outlook on