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Selby's Joke Book

I found Selby's Joke Book in my teenage son's bookshelf. Inside the front cover, there were inscriptions which told me the book had once belonged to a young girl, Grace. Judging by the handwriting in pencil, phonetic spelling, and her knock-knock joke, Grace was very young when she wrote in it.

Wannabe writers and aspiring authors are always looking for writing tips. I've bought books, attended classes, read blogs, listened to podcasts, and printed pointers from the web. But as with the forest for the trees idiom, it can be hard to find useful tips among a wealth of well-meaning advice.

In mid-October 2018, I posted my 200th #bookcovers and #firstsentences photo and quote to Instagram (posting as @tallandtrueweb). The series is an eclectic mix of fiction and nonfiction books, all from my bookcase. To celebrate (a little belatedly) here is another selection of posts from Instagram.

Since 2007, I've sat and watched Australian politics stumble from one self-obsessed stuff-up to the next, resulting in the revolving door prime ministerships of Rudd-Gillard-Rudd and Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison, and the rise of crackpot fringe politicians. In the past week, I stood up and took action.

It was my younger brother's idea to attend the Buddhist lesson. He said it was being held in the back room of a pub, a short walk from my flat, which was handy because we were running late and my bladder felt full as we headed out the door. To save time, I decided to hold on until we got to the pub.

In 1993 my wife and I took a package trip, "Seven Nights in Moscow and St. Petersburg". Reading my travel journal, I am amazed at how much we fitted into our seven nights - it helped it was July, the northern hemisphere summer, the nights were short and the daylight hours very long in Russia.

My girlfriend and I had travelled all day to reach the small farming town of Nijemardum, in the northern Netherlands state of Friesland, to visit the parents of a former housemate. “My mother will be pleased to see you," Jan had assured me. The bewildered look on Mrs B.'s face indicated otherwise.

I met Harry when he was six months old. He was the last of his litter, hiding under a kitchen table. When the breeder dragged him out, Harry flopped his head on my leg and looked up at me with worried, brown eyes. A bond formed between us. It was more than dog and owner. Harry became my muse.

My teenage son was out for the night, so my wife lined up a British period drama movie on TV, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I loved it, though I was thankful I had a box of tissues handy. And afterwards, I was keen to read the book upon which the movie was based.

I'm posting a #bookcovers and #firstsentences series on Instagram of fiction and nonfiction from my bookcase. The posts have brought back many pleasant memories of dusty books I haven't read in years. And the other day I posted one of my favourite tear jerkers, Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.

A little while back I published a Writing Tips article on Tall And True titled, Writing First Sentences (March 2018). The piece was in part inspired by a series I have been posting to Instagram of photos of books tagged as #bookcovers and #firstsentences.

A friend nominated me for a recent Facebook challenge, "Albums that changed your life". It also appears as the "Ten album challenge", the "Pictorial music challenge", the "Seven all time favourite albums" or as the "what-the-heck, I'm just posting my favourites LPs!"

I started “travel writing”, recording journals of my travels when I left Australia in 1987 for two years backpacking and living abroad in England and Europe. I kept writing journals and diaries on my daily life in England and broader travels until I returned to Australia nine years later in 1996.

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