About Sean Crawley

I write short stories, songs, non-fiction and the odd angry letter. Writing happens early in the morning at my desk which is currently located somewhere on the easy coast of Australia.

Final Proofs

My second book, Long Jetty Short Stories, Volume 1, is being published by Ginninderra Press and will be out soon!

Below are some snaps of the final proofs I received in the mail.

Proof of front cover
Back Cover Blurb
Contents Page

So Long, Twenty One

Here we go again

We’re an impatient lot. One could hypothesise that the frantic race to get ahead in the game of modern capitalism has conditioned us that way. A once in a century pandemic comes along and we want it over with quick smart. Two years is way too long.

At the end of last year with fingers crossed we gladly farewelled 2020 and wishfully hoped that 2021 would return back to normal so we could go to work and to cafes and to sporting events without masks and without all the other rigmarole associated with disease control. But, the pesky ol’ epidemiologists were right, and along came delta, and now omicron.

Once again we are saying good riddance to bad rubbish. We are saying it to a year, a 365 day arbitrarily positioned measure of one lap of ol’ Earthy-poo around the good ol’ Sun.

Surely, 2022 has got to be better than 2021?

Oh dear. How poor and how short are our memories.

Take for example: 2016.

What do you mean? You ask. What about 2016?

We good riddanced that year. Don’t you remember? It was a shocker.

Terrorist attacks, mass shootings, and wild weather blacking out the whole of South Australia. Britain voting to leave the EU and the US electing the pussy grabbing Donald Trump as President. Had the world gone mad?

Then the deaths.

David Bowie died in January, and we didn’t even know he was sick! And thus a long string of musicians and other well loved celebs starting dropping off their lofty perches. Muhammad Ali, Prince, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, Carrie Fischer, Alan Rickman, Fidel Castro, and Gene Wilder to name but just a few. Our mortality, it appeared, had never been so evident.

So Long, 2016, we sang with optimism in our hearts.

Ditto 2017, 18 and 19. Remember when Australia burned, smoke everywhere?

Then 2020. Say no more.

Are we hard wired to view every year which is about to end as an annus horribilis [Lizzy Windsor, 1992]? Are we simply drama queens? Catastrophising, sensationalising, conspiracy-theorising animals? Never satisfied, forever wanting?

Will we ever get to the end of a December and say, ‘Wow this year’s been a cracker. We should be grateful if next year is as half as good as this one’s been!’?

Given the Conditions

Big thanks to Superlative Literary Journal for publishing my short story, Given the Conditions.

I wrote the story after a fellow member of the Long Jetty Short Story Writing Group requested I write a story about fishing.

https://www.superlativelitjournal.com/

2021 Journal Contributors

The Little Wild by Julian Grant

Dream by Liz Ainsbury

Given the Conditions by Sean Crawley

The Way of the Panda by Noah Guthrie

Ashes Rising by Michael W. Thomas

How To Play by David Hartley

The Highland Line by David McVey

Stoneheart by Lesley Evans

Diminishing Worlds by Karen Waldron

Short Listed

Some good news. For five days in September, Write Around the Murray (WAM) brings people together in Albury Wodonga for a festival of storytelling unlike anywhere else. They also run a short story competition. My story ‘The Consultant’ was shortlisted. Happy.

https://www.writearoundthemurray.org.au/competitions/alburycity-short-story-award/_nocache?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Shortlist%20announcement&utm_content=Shortlist%20announcement+CID_96fce8fe0e643182f30e4690fdfc3c0e&utm_source=Campaign%20Monitor&utm_term=SHORTLIST

Lockdown Flash Fiction

 

So Are the Days

Her breath sneaks out of the top of the mask and fogs up her reading glasses. She moulds the metal strip a little tighter over the bridge of her nose. The pubs are closed again. No income. Still casual after all these years. Another extension of lockdown is expected to be announced at 11am.

I’ll have to get online and apply for a payment.

At the shopping centre a man and his son are standing outside the pharmacy. Waiting? The father wears a football jersey and a long thin plait of hair runs down his back. He is mock fighting with his son. The boy jumps in trying to score a tap on his dad, then jumps back to avoid being slapped. The boy is not wearing a mask, neither is the father. Where is security?

Today, it is only ‘him’ she sees defying the health orders. Lockdowns are no longer novel. Compliance is up. Though, there are some who let their masks slip down below the nose. Mouth breathers?

Shopping is essential. Yoga isn’t. She is missing yoga.

Yesterday, she laid out the mat at home and set up the old CD player. Sissy, her nine-year-old daughter, looked at the strange machine. ‘This is how we used to play music,’ she explained without having to be asked. ‘Look. Here.’ She pulled a disc out from the zip-up denim covered pouch. ‘This is your CD, The Wiggles. Remember?’

I remember the Wiggles. I don’t remember CDs though. I thought music used to be played on record players, like the one Cherry has.’

The conversation went on, and on. She was sitting in Dandasana, Sissy firing questions.

CD stands for compact disc. Before CDs there were cassette tapes. C60 stands for a blank cassette tape that has sixty minutes of recording space on which one could make a mixed tape of your favourite songs from your record collection. There were C90s as well. Yes, a mixed tape is like a playlist on Spotify. Records are made of vinyl. LP stands for long playing record, EP, extended play. Singles were called 45s. RPM stands for revolutions per minute. Records came in seventy-eight, forty-five and thirty-three-and-a-third RPM.

She had no idea what MP3 stands for, but somehow could recall that HMV stood for His Masters Voice and the logo had a dog and a gramophone. When Sissy asked what year gramophones were invented, she sent her off to do her own research.

She pressed play. The CD started with the ring of a Tingsha bell. ‘Starting by sitting,’ said the calm voice of the yoga teacher. Then the CD stuck. Looping, grating. She hit stop. By this stage her hamstrings had had a good stretch so she got up and wrote, ‘A Short History of Recorded Music’ on Sissy’s Year 5 HBL register.

HBL stands for home based learning.

That was yesterday. Tomorrow, Centrelink.

Today, she walks past the man without a mask and pushes her trolley into Aldi.

Have We Reached Peak Narcissism?

A decade is a decent whack of time. Was the term narcissist being bandied around ten years ago? It certainly is nowadays. Every second person, and their fancy hybrid dog, seems to tick all the boxes to qualify for a clinical diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

And is it any wonder why?

The modern world is dominated by laissez-faire capitalism, and the human race is getting bigger and more competitive. An equal share of the pie is rapidly shrinking by a simple law of mathematics.

To get ahead, to get a larger slice, one must run harder and faster with utmost confidence and the ability to lie and obfuscate and step on others to jostle one’s self into a position of above average comfort. No self respecting member of the modern world would be content with average, so the story goes.

It’s all about me. It’s peak individualism. Me, me, me…

Thus the preponderance of the narcissist. And of every second person who is not a narcissist, most of them are classic enablers. They chide those few of us still left who possess a more collective vision of the how the world could be, as envious perpetrators of tall poppy syndrome.

Once, the most powerful person in the world was a narcissist. And some of his most hard-core supporters were the poor and downtrodden. His ability and audacity to bold face lie was somehow ignored or excused by millions of voters. Meanwhile, there was a consensus amongst astute observers that the number one leader of the so-called free world was not only a narcissist, but a malignant one. A malignancy verging on psychopathy.

He is gone now, or is he? Is he in the wings – waiting, plotting, conspiring with his enablers to return with vengeance? Or has his toxic influence polluted the zeitgeist sufficiently that the era of unfettered individualism is destined to burn for another decade or two?

In the west, individualism is somehow equated with freedom and democracy. Western commentators like to point out how the rest of the world, the nations where perhaps a more collective world view is valued and legislated, is a world of human rights abuses and deprivation of freedom run by evil dictators. This grandiose propaganda is ubiquitous in western media. And the fear it instils in the ordinary punter has us voting in right wing governments time and time again, despite the immense weight of evidence showing the greed and corruption that pervades the so called born-to-rule class of society.

In Australia, the popularised notion of ‘having a go’ has led to, among other injustices, a severe housing affordability issue. The insane current boom in real estate prices is dividing us further into a society of haves and have-nots. In the race to get ahead, the basic human need for shelter has become a pawn in the cruel game of private wealth creation. It seems that the initial hopes that the pandemic might cause a reset from rampant individualism to a more compassionate collectivism have vanished.

Will a bursting of the property bubble succeed where the pandemic failed? Will it be soon, or perhaps in a decade?

We watch and wait.

It’s not rocket science, or is it?

I’m in the middle of a bureaucratic goose chase with a government department. It’s hair pulling out stuff. I have supplied said department with the exact same information through five different channels and still, somehow, the situation has not been resolved to the bureaucracy’s satisfaction. It’s a hungry machine, devoid of empathy. It’s a Tower of Babel!

I’m not surprised that people vote for politicians who tout less regulation and smaller governments – private enterprise and the free market are the solution for a smoother ride – NOT!

I say this because I also find myself on an insane merry-go-round ride with my telecommunications/energy provider. Ironically, a government website helped me to find this particular provider! We’ve all heard how you have to shop around to get the best deal.

Saying that, have you shopped around to find a better bank deal? I mean you’d have to be a fool to be paying the fees you are currently paying. Get on the phone and barter with your bank. And if they don’t come to the party, just change your bank. Easy peasy, get online, get on the phone and change everything.

Currently, I’m trying to get out of my community bank, yes one that’s not even for profit. I have one share and two accounts with this credit union. Their online banking service often goes down. Once, I had to download a whole new web browser to access my accounts. My regular browser was no longer compatible! And now, as I try to escape, I have to contact all these government departments and private enterprises, including my telecommunications/energy provider who has a ‘bundle’ of my services, and also my numerous employers [if you can call the businesses who hand out gigs through apps on mobiles, employers], including one which doesn’t respond to emails and doesn’t even have a phone number. Yeah, change your bank, it’s easy – NOT!

The other day on the phone after listening to menu after menu of options that didn’t fit my situation, I finally pressed # and spoke to an operator. Feeling like I had made some serious progress, I felt I had no choice but to accept their request, “Can you please hold?” Then, while listening to an endless thirty second loop of infuriating muzak, I realised that the navigation of hostile worlds requires a team of experts. I emailed NASA and asked, “Now that you have successfully landed Perseverance on Mars, do you have some spare time to assist me with some wicked problems I have encountered here on Earth?”

Name the place

Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

Somehow we both knew it as Calacoci’s milk bar. It’s a Starbucks now, typical. Nothing stays the same – probably just as well.

Three o’clock for a coffee and if it works out maybe a drink and … dinner? The drink and dinner part wasn’t talked about between us, but it’s sort of implied. At least I think it is – standard internet dating protocols. Coffee for starters in a very public place, then, take it from there.

Memories.

Seven miles from the city, a thousand miles from care. Get off at the wharf and if you’re lucky, Dad, especially if he and Mum are treating themselves to a Javana Sling, will shout us kids a milk shake at Burt’s. Cold as, in those tall aluminium cups. I remember feeling all grown up when I had grown tall enough to be able to peer over the ruby red laminex counter top and see into the stainless steel milk tub. Always a mystery before that. Where are they dipping those ladles to get the icy cold milk from? I would wonder, but never ask. Might get a clip over the ear if you were too curious, asking too many questions.

Do you you know the setting of this story?

Does the photo help?

Read the full the story HERE