Swallowing her words – the blog


When characters drop out of the sky

skyLast night, I made several new friends. Sure, they may have all been fictional, but together we giggled until we spat and sobbed until we were down to loo paper for tissues.

I have never ceased to find the experience of new characters dropping out of the sky and into stories or poems anything other than gobsmacking. In fact, given that I don’t write for my bread and butter, only my indulgent pleasure, it amazes me even more that these new faces even bother to pop out like corn from the seeming dryness of my imagination.

So last night, as I mentioned, I found some new buddies. And I just need you to meet two of them. One’s a lizard, one’s, a camel. I know. Extraordinary stuff. Falo is a ta ta lizard from north Western Australia and Bo is a camel from the Kimberley. One has a lisp, the other two lanterns. One races around like a mad thing in dehydrated delirium, the other labours like a frog in quicksand.

How they appeared, I’m still uncertain. And, to be honest, they’re still very simply constructed figments of my imagination. What’s intriguing me though is how it happened. Happens.

I believe, for me, in humblest terms, it’s a two pronged irony. One prong’s just waiting patiently. The other is writing vociferously. Maybe like swatting a fly: when you do it, you’ve got to attack with gusto and purpose, with the KNOWING the target is there and something magical (albeit hopefully more than a dead insect) is going to drop out of the ether and onto the keyboard.

That’s how the voice, presence, gait, motivation and characters of both Falo and Bo appeared. And believe me, even though the story is humble, the story a brief ten pages, these two are so lovable I might consider adopting them.

Even though Falo spits.

And Bo is a sad sack.

And Falo is hasty.

And Bo a blubbering mess.

Thus, my script for the school musical Melted is now written. And I am thankful to Bo, Falo, Queenie and Desert Rose for coming to the party. Still really can’t claim to know how they got here, but I’m blessed they made it.

Elise signature






Doof doof!

These are a few of my favourite things.
If you’ve ever been moved by music so much it hurts, physiologically, I feel your pain. Keeps happening to me now as I fight to keep the narrow list of songs I’ve chosen to slot into the kids’ musical Melted.

It’s good pain, isn’t it? Well, it’s good if you’re feeling it internally and not simply exposed to it audibly, viciously and vicariously because your colleague (let’s call him Jase) in year five next door is playing Bob Marley’s “No woman, no cry” on loop at 7am when you arrive early to concentrate on marking.

Looks like I’m not marking, again.

Bah. Who needs to mark? OR proof read reports for that matter? And it’s near impossible when music plants itself like a wildflower in your soul, not to mention your belly, left hip and every one of your finger tapping phalanges.

What would be on your perfect Life Playlist?

I’ve often said that I wish my time on earth came with its own soundtrack. Problematically, it would be a debacle of eclectic chaos. Waltz and six-eight timing would be in fierce competition with doof doof four by four, not to mention that seven-six to warp the universe nicely. But at any point, any piece of music can become my life and it plugs the gaps in my soul where life keeps dropping out on me. Indeed, music is perhaps the ever present wireless in a dial up world.

So, writing a script for primary school kids where the action is punctuated by the perfect song at each turn is hard yakka. Not because there are no songs out there that help tell the story of two kids in the playground, a crazy nomad and a forty thousand year old Indigenous woman, but because, suddenly, EVERY song does it!

Suddenly, my main character Hurley is wailing in grief to everyone from Cold Play and James Blunt to TISM and Madness. Then I’m picturing my female protagonist Alexa pulling out powerhouse moments I envisage punctuated by Taylor Swift, Leonard Cohen, Andrea Bocelli and They Might be Giants (I know, “The sun is a mass of incandescent gas” is a pretty emotional power ballad if you’re…melting).

So, this weekend, with my suberb JBL in the background thumping and pumping (literally – I love how it does that), I’m off to dance in my kitchen and listen to everything on my phone until I fall asleep on the tiles. That is, until we get to ‘La Cucaracha’. I draw the line at a song about cockroaches. Seriously.

What cockroach has ever entertained anyone?

Wink. Nudge. Pump up the volume on your doof doof!


Off you go now and crank up your own crazy list.

Yours musically,

Elise signature




Escape to Everywhere!

Where’s Mary Poppin’ off to now?

Australian Children’s Book Week is coming! No, ok, so neither tomorrow, nor next week, nor even next month. Ahem…it’s late August, ok?! But the fact that it’s school report writing time is the perfect opportunity to procrastinate and be excited about, well, um, about something…anything…instead!

0000217_2017-book-week-poster-rolled_415Escape to Everywhere is this year’s grand theme. (Teachers will doubtless see the connection between what I’m doing now and what I really, truly should be doing now…inside…on this beautiful, gorgeously sun streamy day. Hello to all my lovely students at Saints in Hedland!).

So to help myself escape to anywhere and everywhere but here where my reports lie in wait, I thought I might make a list of a bunch of awesome kids’ lit that is aboutย  escape, or going places, or going away, or leaving, or returning, or finding home, or disappearing or… going anywhere but wherever it is you’re meant to be WRITING REPORTS!

Here’s my simple starter list. Maybe you can help? Add a comment, a book title if you can and I’ll pop it on this list. After all, I need to sort my costume. Soon. Say, by tonight. Otherwise it will force me to do the unprocrastinatable (I’m sure my class parents won’t mind if, instead of writing their child’s report, I send them a photo of me in my hand sewn Mr Chicken goes to Paris costume).

  1. Mr Chicken goes to Paris – Leigh Hobbs
  2. Mr Chicken lands on London – Leigh Hobbs
  3. Teacup – Matt Ottley
  4. Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
  5. Around the World in 80 Days – Jules Verne
  6. Grandpa’s Great Escape – David Walliams
  7. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis
  8. Ned Kelly and the Green Sash – Mark Greenwood
  9. Simpson and his Donkey – Mark Greenwood
  10. Little Red Riding Hood – Traditional


I’m happy to add ideas here! In the meantime, does anyone have some yellow feathers I might borrow? Reckon I need about a trillion.

Elise signature


PS. With much love and nuttiness to my Book Week buddy in character, the delightful Claire Wellbeloved, without whose ‘Wild Thing’ my 96 year old Miss Nancy would never have remembered where she was.


Cheers to the Mother’s Day Classic, 2017

outfitIt’s more than a privilege being asked to host the Mother’s Day Classic on the second Sunday morning of May each year. It hits me in my core, beneath my two breasts where mum only had one.

Today in Port Hedland, this remote coastal town yet again proved what love, passion and compassion there is in the community by thinking pink and hitting the track to run rings around breast cancer.

My own mum, beautiful Beth, was diagnosed at 39 and had a single mastectomy. For me, this means I am on borrowed time and grateful every day for my health and the increasing percentage of those with five year survival. Early on in her journey, Beth began a steadfast relationship with cancer; she’d call it her friend. Friend.

Might as well work with it, than against it, she reasoned.

I was blessed to have my mum around for a further 20 years following this initial diagnosis, after which she and her friend joined the sky. I’m sure Mum’s up there doing Meet and Greet at the Pearly Gates, and taking newcomers to town to visit Heaven’s version of “The Dangenongs”, as was her wont throughout our Melbourne years.

IMG_5611The Mother’s Day Classic in Australia has been running for many years and Port Hedland, in WA’s Pilbara, is now done and dusted with its eighth. The National Breast Cancer Foundation continues to thrive with its medical research into prevention, treatment and cure for a cancer that affects one in eight in our country. Perhaps our Pilbara event is not as remote as that held in Antarctica, but today’s drew in a colourful crowd of more than 500 good, pink folk, a colourful bunch of flowers and an even more colourful troupe of Australian Army soldiers cranking out their hike with 25kg packs. Nice work, fellas; you’re free to fan yourselves now!

Thanks to the Town of Port Hedland for having me.

Happy Mother’s Day. #MDC2017

Here’s cheers!

Elise signature



media, pop culture

The colour purple

Recently watching sci-fi thriller Ex Machina, I was intrigued when the protagonist was caught out in a lie detector by answering that his favourite colour was *blue* (non-spoiler alert).  Why is this problematic? Because apparently, having a favourite colour is something only a child might claim. As adults, we supposedly love all sorts of colours and don’t have a specific favourite. So he was wrong. 

I thought hard about this. Sure, I swoon over a rich, deep ocean blue, but have recently been taken viscerally by slate grey. As an adult I am still like my teenage self who was always more kaleidoscopic ‘Romance is Born’ than any minimalist, two tone clothing palette. In fact, when my partner sent me out flat hunting in Brunswick on our first foray into coupledom, I naively assumed he would be gleeful that I had signed on the dotted line for a cheap, two bedroom upstairs apartment with yellow walls in the bedroom…only. Accompanied by a green kitchen, pink bathroom, blue living room and a further red room of pain. 

Pain indeed. Oops. Unsigning was a simple matter of choosing to remain engaged or finding something more modest and less bouncy castle in colour spectrum.

So, here I am happily married for 15 years, with a little sunlamp shining upon that inner city flat in my soul.

There are also colours that I just don’t ‘do’ at all well. 

Bottle green (urgh. Schooldays).

Maroon (urgh. Winter in the 1990s).

Yellow (as in the brassy, roots-and-all tint of tired, bleached hair).

Orange (as in the brassy tint of failed platinum blonde bleached hair when I did it myself in 1993. Wearing a maroon skivvy).

And puce. That’s not a colour. That’s inverted stomach. 

But that lie detector question still remains, even as I am drawn to extreme colour juxtaposition in the myriad landscapes of my life.

Because I still believe I have a favourite colour. It is the colour purple. Specifically, it is this colour purple.


Not aubergine.

Not Violet Crumble or Cadbury’s chocolate wrapper purple. 

Neither rich Shiraz grape nor floral lavender. 

Not deep indigo, nor pinky plum.


Just bright purple. I would call it iris purple, but because I could have eaten these sneakers the moment my eyes sank into them, I’m going to say Converse purple. I mean, for goodness’ sake, I’m visiting Melbourne to take in all of its SHOPPING possibilities, yet the moment I spot these 

they speak to me SO LOUDLY I must buy them…online. 


So here’s to colours, every one. But here’s to defying grown up and taking a stand for your favourite. 


And here’s to the colour Converse purple, once and for all. 

  • For this and other lesser colour sneakers, head to ebay.

Simultaneous Storytime

NSS 2017 Web page banner_0Splat!

Don’t we all love that sound? In fact, anything onomatopoeic, combined with a melodramatic dose of disaster, is enough to have kids and the rest of us cracking up like nobody’s business.

Wednesday, 24th May was the Australian Libraries’ rippingly fun (and nonsensically simple) kids’ event – National Simultaneous Storytime. Eek. I love a great children’s story. Even more so, I love reading stories aloud. Call me ever so slightly embarrassing, but I’m known to do it alone in the privacy of my own backyard. Solo. By myself. With no one listening. Except me…and the characters, of course. And maybe an occasional gecko.

This year’s story is by Tony Wilson and illustrated by Laura Wood. There’s more than enough “splatting” in The Cow Tripped Over the Moon for a whole school’s worth of audience to get a laugh. So it’s a good thing the whole school was brought in to enjoy this ‘behind the scenes’ gawk at a classic nursery rhyme. Along with children in schools and libraries all over Australia, at 11am one autumn morning, National Simultaneous Storytime went off.

St Cecilia’s Catholic Primary School loved this cow. Hope you do too.

Elise signature



Extraordinary Community

Welcome to Hedland self
Hi-vis MC duties

On the first chilly Friday night in May, Port Hedland invites the whole town along to celebrate something rather special.


In honour of this remote dichotomy of fit in or fly off, last night I fitted into a bit of my favourite high heels and high fashion meets high-vis and hosted “Welcome to Hedland” for the Town. I hope I did Alannah Hill proud. Not to mention this particular Pilbara place that I fell in love with seven years ago.

I adore this annual event for its spirit, its open heart and its simple message: Strangers knock and someone always runs to open the door. There’s aย  joke in the north west that you don’t need to wait 25 years to be considered a local. It’s more like two weeks. And that’s stretching the truth. All you really need to do – which I forced my shyness to defy – is to accept the phone number of the local ___ (read soccer club, gardening group, art association) rep. who happens to invite you out for coffee the next day, around the corner, up the street or at one of Port Hedland’s five coffee shops. And, voila! You’re home. It’s not for everyone, but it is for so many tenuous arrivals I’ve lost count. Some people have been here a week, some more than 40,000 years. And it’s all in the choosing.

Welcome to Country
Welcome to Kariyarra Country!
Home Hardware’s Gloria Jacob stands tall and proud.

Funny thing is, by saying yes to human connection, I think I’ve had more coffees in my life in Port Hedland than anywhere else. Local friends will note the irony. Yes, it’s true they cost a dollar more, but they are made with a wink and a smile.

Welcome to Hedland, 2017 saw more than 70 stallholders spruik clubs, associations and connective activities beneath a stunning autumn night sky. Perhaps I’m just excited because I felt that rippling chill on my shoulders at about 8pm for the first time in nine months. Oh, and then the goosebumps really came because I knew it meant winter was on its way. And then I was thrilled to remember that this means the days will soon only reach 27 degrees Celcius – and I can wear boots. Boots!

When I’m not in my thongs.

If you’re new to Port Hedland, welcome! If you’ve never been, do it like I did: Have the question posed – “Should we move to that hot, red, dusty mining town, Port Hedland?” Answer in expletive horror. And do it anyway.

Niki and Elise
Num num Dim Sum with Niki White


Someone will open the door and tug on your heartstrings.


Elise signature