Knock, knock

I thought of you all on the weekend.

I was striding down High Street, a bottle of wine tucked under one arm, the Saturday papers under the other. I was humming to Howlin’ Wolf, and thinking about the blues gig I was going to later that night. I almost walked past without noticing it, but something made me turn.

I realised I was outside the Wesley Anne, a beautiful old bluestone pub. There were tables on the footpath, and people spilling everywhere in the late summer sunshine. It used to be a church, but for me, it would always be the place where Red Bubble came together.

I used to host the Red Bubble Writers’ Group, alongside Lisa Jewell. On the first Sunday of every month, for about seven years, I would sit at the largest table out in the beer garden, tie a red balloon to the back of a c…

Steps since

I haven’t been here in quite a while.

There was a time when I would check this site every day, and regularly post my stories. Six or seven years ago, I was lucky enough to jump on board this site early, and lucky enough to be in Melbourne, the original home of Red Bubble. It was a whirlwind of activity, of parties and collaborations, exhibitions and holidays, challenges and barbeques.

That time has passed. I will always, however, head back here, because it gifted me with some of the most beautiful, creative, generous souls I’ve ever known.

So just in case any of you are still out there, and still reading, here’s a little update.
I’m still living in Melbourne, Australia in a flat filled with dictionaries, containers of snake skins, an antique writing desk and far too many pairs of red high …

Year of the snake

Six years ago, I sat swilling whiskey as I tried to decide on my username. It wasn’t that important, I told myself. After all, I’d probably only check this site now and then, and when I found my courage, add my writing.

It wouldn’t mean much, I said.

I chose bellmusker , a reference to the Flemish slang of the Belgian city where I’d been living. And I clicked my mouse and hit ‘join.’

I had no idea what was coming.

I had no clue that my days were about to be enriched by a cast of amazing, creative souls who would actually change the course of my life. I didn’t realise that together with these incredible people, we’d travel the world – walk along the Berlin Wall, fly to Brussels to rent an apartment together, squeeze hands on the banks of the Mississippi, and read Dylan Thomas on a cliff t…

The red notebook of 2012

Well, you knew this day would come. Presented below for your perusal is my annual collection of quotes scribbled in my little red notebook, where exclamation marks abound, context is irrelevant, and cowboys reign supreme.

Go take a peek…but not if ‘colourful’ language offends. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Why is it tortoiselogical? – Adrian
You can’t be above a wench…well, you can if you try – me
Don’t confuse her, you’ve already given her Glaswegians – me
Please don’t overanalyse the hole – Lisa
You just romanced the hate out of me – me
I tend to veer away from the inbred – Adrian
To be perfectly up Frank with you… – Holly
God, I hate beak hour trams – Holly

When in doubt, roger the poodle – Lucky
You almost welled up at some old Bulgarian…

A question for the film buffs

I don’t tend to watch films. Give me printed words any day, and I’ll make the images up myself.

But I’m trying to push myself to try new paths with my writing and with that in mind, I’m thinking of answering a call for submissions from the Adelaide College of the Arts, who are looking for short stories to turn into short films early next year.

I’ve been trawling through my RB portfolio, trying to decide which one would work in that medium, and the truth is: I’m not sure. So I thought I’d ask the people who tend to read and comment on my work, which is (possibly) anyone reading this! I know it’s a rather indulgent journal to post and I apologise for that, but occasionally I get comments about the visual nature of my stories, so I’d like…


Each lilt sent our wine glasses sideways, but we were becoming skilled at catching them. The sunset was pouring gold into the train carriage, and as we rattled through Mississippi we chatted to our table companions, a retired couple from Florida. She was cheery as she tucked into her chicken, but he met every word from us with a befuddled gaze and a plaintive ‘Whadda they sayin’?’

And then we saw the Welcome to Tennessee sign, and all clinked glasses in celebration.

Are you going to be good in Memphis? – Dad on train
I. Just. Don’t. Have. It. In. Me! – bratty five year old daughter

Memphis lured us with the promise of the blues, bourbon and bbq ribs, but mostly…well, Elvis. So it was our very first morning that saw us trundling through the suburbs en route to Graceland. I think we re…

Jackson, Mississippi

First impressions were not good. The Amtrak train station held a motley assortment of travellers, many bedraggled and most bad-tempered. After a cup of the worst coffee known to man, we joined the long queue and dragged our suitcases along. Ferociously hungover and woefully sad to be leaving New Orleans, this was not my favourite moment of the trip.

So when we boarded the train and climbed upstairs to our seats, we stopped in surprise. It was lovely; spacious and comfy, with huge windows. We curled up, notebooks on laps, and prepared to watch the green swamplands of Louisiana give way to the cornfields of Mississippi as we raced across the Deep South.

General store in Yazoo, Mississippi

By the time we reached Jackson we were fully refreshed, sharing earphones as we sang the Johnny Cash so…

Say it three times, like a spell

Yesterday started much like any other day: a strong coffee, then a tram into Melbourne. But instead of heading down Collins Street to work, I walked along Southbank and into the ABC studios.

The day before I left for New Orleans in August, I’d received a call from a producer at the ABC in Sydney, telling me they wanted four of my stories for broadcast on Radio National. I’d be lying if I said that thought hadn’t kept me company all through the Deep South. And yesterday, butterflies in my belly but spine straight, I signed in as a guest at the studio and headed up to the recording booth.

God, such an interesting process to see my words go from the page to the microphone! I was put in a tiny recording studio with a glass of water, and then the soundproof door was shut. I …

New Orleans

I can’t tell you how much I’ve been looking forward to this journal.

There are several cities that have curled their hooks around me, and refuse to let go. Brussels is my second home, and holds me close. Berlin is so glorious that I try and head there every year. But now I have a new addition to my list of magical, mesmerising cities…New Orleans.

It’s one of the most exotic and seductive places I’ve seen. Street after street of ivy covered balconies and brightly painted shutters, buskers on the banks of the Mississippi playing the blues as steam boats cruised by, and the heat and humidity turning my hair into a wild mane, a constant reminder that we were in the sultry Deep South.

I couldn’t have asked for more.

Lisa and I flew in from Texas and watched the Spanish signposts give wa…

Las Vegas

There’s only one way to hit Vegas: at night, flying low over the glittering golden lights of the Strip, sharing headphones with Lisa and singing along to Elvis on ‘Viva Las Vegas.’

We’d chosen our hotel wisely. Dragging our suitcases through the indoor rainforest, we turned left at the ‘This way to the dolphins’ sign and found our room, towering over the neon of the Strip.

And we tried, we really did.

We got frocked up, we got liquored up, and we threw ourselves into the heady abandon of this glitzy, greedy city.

But here’s the thing.

It’s awful.

It’s really fucking awful.

Everything in my expression says "Uh oh..I’m not so sure about this anymore.

Celine’s favourite city? Oh, well, it must be good then…

Gloriously over-the-top toffee apples, Vegas style

You feed co…

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