Ian Arkell wrote this article at a dark and cold time of the year.
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Ian Arkell wrote this article at a dark and cold time of the year.
Ian Arkell is bewildered by the fascination many men have with their balls.
...For some reason I have this apprehension that borders on fear, of being alone. There are no neighbours or comforting lights within sight, no laptop, no television and apart from the crackling of the fire there’s complete silence...
Ian Arkell spends thoughtful time on his own in an Ardennes forest cabin.
"There is a mystical quality to a garden; something which brings you close to understanding the world and something which can help when you momentarily lose perspective,'' writes Ian Arkell.
...He is on the mend but I think the whole episode has unsettled him. He is staying in his room at night and spending hours on the computer, or listening to classical music...
Ian Arkell makes light of a discomforting medical matter.
"There is a mystical quality to a garden; something which brings you close to understanding the world and something which can help when you momentarily lose perspective.'' writes Ian Arkell.
Ian Arkell thinks that heroes are tending to become a bit thin on the ground.
...It was something I would have never bought but it was a gift from their mother and I was touched. The little frame, reassuring me that there’s “No Place like Home” has stayed on the kitchen wall for almost sixty years...
Ian Arkell tells the story of a house - and those who lived in it.
Ian Arkell tells of family history and a family home.
Stay away from balconies, Ian Arkell advises.
"A short walk over the road and I’m at the beach, watching waves being beaten to death by the wind,'' Ian Arkell writes.
...Impalings had a bad press. And for many of the residents of the castle it was a fun time. Sort of grab the wife and kids, pack a picnic lunch and get there early while there’s still space...
Ian Arkle tells of harsh times at the castle.
"Writing is so much cheaper than alcohol, though not as much fun, less intrusive and expensive than psychotherapy and if you have a tendency to confuse reality and fantasy, it’s the absolute cat’s pyjamas,'' wrote Ian Arkell in a time of disenchantment.
"I scan through the news most days. And sometimes I have to wonder if humans behave more logically than garden gnomes,'' writes Ian Arkell.
Ian Arkell goes on a trip into his past life.
"A lot of people swear by numbers. Some buy their lotto by numbers, decide where to live by postcode or house numbers and are convinced that this or that year is propitious simply because of numbers,'' writes Ian Arkell.
...She was just sitting there in the middle of this beet field, with a duck on her lap...
Ian Arkell comes upon a most unusual sight when he goes cycling in Belgium.
Ian Arkell offers some sound dietry advice.
Ian Arkell offers some sound dietry advice.
There are some things a man cannot put up with as Ian Arkell's poem reveals.
What is it about humans that they love living in a perpetual state of angst?'' wonders Ian Arkell.
Ian Arkell discovers that a Belgian law forbids hanging out washing on a Sunday.
"I’ve always taken Australians to be a fairly rational, level headed and sensible people, but I’m beginning to have serious doubts,'' writes Ian Arkell.
"Gay men and women in the US and possibly other countries will still be harassed and discriminated against; old hatreds, fear and bigotry take a long time to breathe their last,'' writes Ian Arkell.
"Auto development, design, construction, worship and adulation, even dribbling on windshields at car shows, has always been a male thing,'' writes Ian Arkell.
Ian Arkell casts a cold eye on election procedures around the world.
"How nice to be a little bird and stretch my wings and fly,'' thinks Ian Arkell when weighed down by the world's grim news.
...Ms MacKillop seems to have been a fantastic person, who cared for and about people and was concerned with social injustice and the plight of the poor and disadvantaged. It’s just a shame that today’s Catholic hierarchy hasn’t inherited her concern....
Ian Arkell says the Catholic Church should have seized an opportunity to make amends for past wrongs.
Ian Arkell considers multi-faith arrangements for an Australian ferry.
...Belgium attracts semi-trailer drivers from all over Europe. On bad days there can be dozens in a row. The absolute worst thing that can happen is if it’s blinding rain, middle of the night and you try to overtake a slow semi and move to the middle lane, only to find another semi has moved to the far left lane to overtake me...
Ian Arkell braves the roads of continental Europe.
...Past Calais, we look down on a patchwork of rolling green countryside, with orange and white farmhouses tucked away, almost out of sight...
Ian Arkell takes a day trip into Department Du Nord.
Ian Arkell presents a funny-sad vignette of a father-son encounter.
Ian Arkell believes in helping those overwhelmed by natural disasters - but not with prayers.
"In 1826 Samuel Brown was having a really ordinary day. He’d woken after a night of reasonably heavy drinking and looked out on a bleak, loveless sort of London morning and tried to figure out what to do for the rest of the day. After an hour or so of sitting in front of the fire, he decided to make a car,'' writes Ian Arkell.
"It must be hard-wired into us that we have to worry, or agonise over something or other. Or that we have to feel guilty for most of our adult life. It’s a real human thing isn’t it? Either spend a life of regret about the past, about things we can’t change or weren’t responsible for, or live in a state or permanent apprehension about tomorrow or next week,'' writes Ian Arkell.
Ian Arkell considers the ways we choose the folk who rule our lives.
"I believe that in the micro second before we die, all will be revealed, so that with our last breath we can gasp, ‘aha, so that’s why…’ And then die relatively happy,'' writes Ian Arkell.
Ian Arkell writes movingly about a simple, uncomplicated man who brought joy to many people.
Ian Arkell suggests there is a time when it is best to forget the past.
Ian Arkell suggests that alcohol and balconies are a recipe for disaster.
Columnist Ian Arkell thinks that heroes are becoming thin on the ground. Or perhaps our idea of what constitutes a hero has changed?
Ian Arkell tells the rhyming tale of alas whose talent became superfluous.
How many hundreds of generations have looked for answers in a fire’s glow, muses Ian Arkell.
Ian Arkell’s poem suggests a meal that will not be to everyone’s taste.
…One young Australian mother claims a degree of responsibility and level headedness by stating that she will not be using fake tan, makeup or hairspray on her young daughter. Considering the child in question is 10 months old, that’s amazingly commendable and shows a high degree of restraint…
Columnist Ian Arkell abhors the very idea of child beauty pageants.
“I wouldn’t want Barrack to think we have social problems in this lucky country of ours; especially not in the Deep North,’’ writes columnist Ian Arkell, musing on a visit by the American president to Australia.
Ian Arkell’s poem tells of a magic sound.
…I wonder where you keep your memories.
Are they all thrown together in a jumbled pile somewhere in the recesses of your mind?...
Novelist and columnist Ian Arkell reminds us of the secret rooms in the basements of our memory banks.
Ian Arkell’s poem speculates on the love life of a jungle hero.
“Some people seem to have a problem accepting that stuff happens. Deaths, assassinations, accidents, disappearances, the lot. And they always look for a secret agenda,’’ writes columnist and novelist Ian Arkell.
"When I was back visiting Australia during the Mary MacKillop canonisation circus, I couldn’t believe the frenzy surrounding this latest PR exercise from the Catholic Church. I’ve always taken Australians to be a fairly rational, level headed and sensible people, but I’m beginning to have serious doubts,'' writes Ian Arkell.
Ian Arkell paints a vivid word picture of a sunny Sunday morning in an attractive Belgian town.
"I'm an atheist, with flashes of agnosticism and periodic doubts about my disbelief. So my writing in this regard is sometimes paradoxical,'' writes Ian Arkell by way of introduction to this profound poem.
...But I’m looking for a distant relative. A Doherty, a long way back on my mother’s side. A scribbled note in a family album about Thomas going to Australia to become a monk...
In this evocative article and poem Ian Arkell tells of his search in Western Australia for the grave of a 19th Century ancestor,
...I read most of his articles regarding his views on religion and watched most of the debates in which he criticised the record, role and excesses of religion within our society. He was an atheist, perhaps too strident for many, perhaps too vitriolic for others, but nevertheless a man committed to his beliefs and the inequalities around us...
Ian Arkell expresses his admiration for journalist and author Christopher Hitchens who died this month.
“With age comes introspection, which can be a dangerous thing,’’ writes Ian Arkell as he muses upon the profoundest of all questions.
“If you subscribe to any sort of evolutionary theory then you have to ask yourself as to what we’re evolving? Is this as good as it gets? And do we really deserve such a beautiful place as the Earth? Any half-smart landlord would have evicted us centuries ago,’’ writes columnist Ian Arkell.
Columnist Ian Arkell was a million miles short of being impressed by Baz Luhrman's film, Australia.
Ian Arkell's poem suggests that maybe love is meant to hurt.
“I have never spoken to anyone who is dead. Well, you know how it is at a party. You spend time chatting someone up for a while and end up with much the same result. But technically I haven’t. I suspect dead is dead,’’ says columnist Ian Arkell.
“What it is that grabs people when they read a story?’’ asks columnist Ian Arkell. “Do they ever think about why they like it?’’
Ian Arkle is overfaced by an ad which pops up on his computer screen.
“Yet despite my lack of faith and anger that surfaces from time to time, I seek out the Church in each new town, each tiny village and sit there for a moment and feel renewed,’’ writes columnist Ian Arkell.
Columnist Ian Arkell declares “There seems to be no sense of economic morality around the world and absolutely no ethical imperative to look after workers while maintaining a profit for shareholders. It is indeed the ugly face of capitalism.''
Ian's comments come as people around the world take to the streets to express their anger and fear at the way the international financial crisis is unfolding.
Ian Arkell brings a moving and memorable account of a final meeting between a mother and her son.
Ian Arkell tells a tall colonial tale with one of the best-ever punchlines.
…Perhaps due to my lack of understanding, or sensitivity, or whatever, we were never destined to be close. There was always a bridge that he was unable and I was perhaps unwilling, to cross. So there was never that connection that a father and son ought to have…
Ian Arkell regrets his failure when he was younger to understand and communicate with his father.
...Impaling’s had a bad press. And for many of the residents of the castle it was a fun time. Sort of grab the wife and kids, pack a picnic lunch and get there early while there’s still space. Maybe have a beer and meet up with some old siege buddies...
Ian Arkell contemplates ruthless days while visiting castles in Germany.
Ian Arkell’s compact poem tells of a flaw that led to an open door.
...to believe that Al Qaeda has some sort of monopoly on the use of terror would be to ignore historical fact as America and its allies have a long record of using terror as a defacto arm of foreign policy. Maybe not directly or in a way that is either obvious or commonly reported, but used nevertheless...
Reflecting on that day when the world changed Ian Arkkell brings a timely reminder that a life lost to indifference in any country or under any circumstance, is also a tragedy.
"The wind is gusting in from France round 80 kilometres per hour and the season has changed overnight. On television the weatherwoman smiled as she pointed to little icons of dark clouds and lightning bolts and suggested that it might be best to stay in bed for a few days.''
Columnist Ian Arkell faces up to a spot of storm therapy.
…as payment I would be given a code, or series of codes that would explain the meaning of everything, all the existential stuff – life, death, what possessed McCain to choose Palin, why McDonalds cut their breakfasts at 10.30 and, more importantly, how to program a DVD…
But frustrated columnist Ian Arkell has forgotten the “power’’ numbers presented in a dream.
…What can I say about the Tower? It’s brilliant, the focal point of Paris. But when you visit, get there early as the queues can be scary. The trip up to the observation section is maybe not as fast as Montparnasse but a lot more exciting…
Ian Arkell brings an exciting invitation to tour the French capital.
“A lot of people get a bit tetchy when you start talking about religion and I’ve never understood why,’’ writes Ian Arkell. “Is it because they know they’re on shaky ground and that in a lot of cases they’re leaving themselves open to ridicule?’’
Ian Arkell’s poem captures those sunny, lazy days on the beach.
…Edmond Verricke’s home is barely large enough for his sick wife and their two small girls, one of whom is only three weeks old. So far the family has been lucky and has survived by hiding in the cellar during the thump, thump of the shelling, which killed orphans and livestock alike.
But the Verricke family is allowed only one room, the remainder taken over by a Sergeant and several soldiers. The Sergeant is a huge brute of a man…
Ian Arkell tells a memorable story of wartime – and survival.
...I’ve come to France to visit two relatives I never met. My father’s uncles. They both joined up on the same day and wound up in France shortly thereafter. Two young blokes from New South Wales, visiting overseas on the trip of a lifetime. Guess they would have been excited. Max and Eric Arkell, both boys from the bush....
Ian Arkell sheds a graveside tear for two men who lost their lives in the war to end all wars.
(And here's a big welcome to Ian who will be writing regularly for Open Writing. Do watch out for further articles in the series Arkell's Ark - Editor)