Three Key Themes in Summer of The Seventeenth Doll by Ray Lawler

Summer of the Seventeenth doll is an iconic Australian play, with some deep themes. Here are three of the key ones.

1. Nostalgia and the Passage of Time: The play is set in the 1950s and centers around a group of characters who reunite annually for the summer season. The doll in the title represents a ritualistic gift exchanged between two of the characters, symbolizing their romanticized view of their youth. Throughout the play, Lawler explores the tension between the characters’ longing for the past and the harsh reality of the present. The theme of nostalgia highlights the characters’ struggle to come to terms with the passing of time and the changing dynamics of their relationships.

2. Gender Roles and Expectations: Another important theme in the play is the exploration of gender roles and expectations in 1950s Australian society. Lawler portrays the traditional gender roles that were prevalent during that time, with women expected to be caretakers and homemakers while men are seen as the breadwinners. The female characters, Olive and Pearl, challenge these expectations by working in the city and seeking independence, which creates tension and disrupts the established dynamics within the group. The play raises questions about the limitations placed on women and the struggle for autonomy and fulfillment within societal expectations.

3. Illusion versus Reality: The characters engage in a yearly performance of recreating their youthful summer romance, but as the play unfolds, the cracks in their idealized vision become apparent. The harsh realities of aging, disappointment, and unmet expectations begin to shatter the illusions they have built. Lawler examines the consequences of clinging to illusions and the challenges of facing reality, highlighting the characters’ struggles to reconcile their desires and dreams with the truths of their lives.

These themes intertwine to create a complex exploration of personal and societal dynamics. The play offers a snapshot of a particular era in Australian society while delving into universal themes of time, gender, and the human condition. Through its compelling characters and evocative storytelling, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll prompts audiences to reflect on the passage of time, the limitations imposed by societal norms, and the delicate balance between illusion and reality.


A Short Analysis of Philip Larkin’s Aubade

Philip Larkin’s poem “Aubade” is a poignant exploration of the fear and existential dread that can accompany the contemplation of death and the awareness of one’s own mortality. The poem takes the form of a morning song, traditionally associated with celebration and hope, but Larkin subverts this expectation by delving into the darker aspects of human existence.

The poem opens with the speaker awakening in the early hours of the morning, confronted by the looming presence of death. Larkin presents death as an inescapable reality, something that cannot be rationalized or evaded. He writes:

“I work all day, and get half-drunk at night. Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare. In time the curtain-edges will grow light.”

These lines capture the speaker’s sense of isolation and dread, as he grapples with the weight of mortality in the silent darkness of the early morning hours.

Throughout the poem, Larkin explores the futile attempts humans make to distract themselves from the inevitability of death. He acknowledges the fleeting pleasures of life and the various distractions people indulge in, whether it be work, alcohol, or the company of others. However, these distractions ultimately prove inadequate in the face of death’s certainty. Larkin writes:

“Being brave Lets no one off the grave. Death is no different whined at than withstood.”

These lines emphasize the futility of denial and the universality of death, regardless of how one confronts it.

One of the central themes in “Aubade” is the contrast between the finite nature of human existence and the infinite expanse of time and the universe. Larkin contemplates the vastness of the cosmos and the insignificance of human life within it. He writes:

“Unresting death, a whole day nearer now, Making all thought impossible but how And where and when I shall myself die.”

These lines capture the sense of insignificance and helplessness that can arise when confronted with the immensity of the universe and the impending nature of one’s mortality.

Ultimately, “Aubade” serves as a meditation on the human condition and the existential questions that arise when contemplating the inevitability of death. Larkin acknowledges the darkness and despair that can accompany these thoughts, but he also suggests that finding solace and meaning in the face of mortality is a deeply personal and individual journey.

Philip Larkin’s “Aubade” is a powerful and introspective poem that invites readers to confront their own mortality. Through vivid imagery and contemplative language, Larkin captures the fear, despair, and attempts at distraction that often accompany the awareness of death. The poem serves as a reminder of the fleeting nature of life and the need to confront the existential questions that arise from our mortality.

A Nursery Rhyme in the Style of Philip Larkin

The little bird sat on the branch,

Its feathers dull and drab.

It chirped a mournful tune,

and glanced Around at the world so sad.


The sky above was grey and drear,

The trees were bleak and bare.

The little bird had little cheer,

And felt so lost and rare.


It thought of all the things it lacked,

Of joy and love and fun.

It felt so small and unattached,

In a world so cold and numb.


But then it saw a tiny sprout,

Pushing up through the ground.

And suddenly it felt a shout,

Of hope that it had found.


For if a tiny plant could grow,

Amidst the dismal earth,

Then maybe there was room to know,

A happiness and mirth.


The little bird began to sing,

A brighter note than before.

It felt a stir of hopeful spring,

And a joy it could explore.


So let us learn from this small bird,

That even in the gloom,

There’s always room to find a word,

Of cheer that can illume.

Aussie Let’s Sing Books Index

If you grew up in Australia in the 1950s through to the early 2000s, you may remember the ‘Let’s Sing’ books that primary school kids would get.

Each week, the teacher would switch on the radio and along the class would sing. I was recently thinking on the range of songs I heard for the first time in those books. Well thanks to the ABC, there’s a file that lists all the songs alphabetically, with the years they appeared in the ‘Sing’ books.

You can check it out for yourself by either:

  1. Downloading the file from the ABC
  2. Downloading it from here if the ABC link stops working.




Apple Mail: Where is my Junk Mail folder?

If like me you get lots of emails each day, you will also have an ever-growing Junk Mail folder that you want to check every now and then to ensure nothing important has been flagged by mistake.

With the advent of MAC OS Big Sur, Apple Mail had some changes made, which means that your Junk Mail folder will not necessarily appear by default. Thankfully it’s an easy fix:

  1. Open Apple Mail
  2. Look over to the top left of the window and you’ll see All Inboxes:

3. Run your mouse over the word Favourites

4. You will now see a small circle with a plus-sign in it to the right:

5. Click on the plus-sign and a small window will open:

6. Click on the drop-down menu and select All Junk Mail and then Ok.

7. You will now see the All Junk folder appear in your list on the left:

It seems a non-intuitive and cumbersome process to me, but at least you know how to get back your junk mail. I never thought I’d say that sentence 😉

How to edit an Apple Watch workout 2021

Have you forgotten to turn off your workout on your Apple Watch. It happens to me too often and I’ve finally gotten around to working out how to change a workout so it reflects the reality of what I did.

Apple keep changing their Fitness app, so other sites’ instructions can be confusing. So as at February 2021, here’s how to do it pure and simple:

  1. Open the Health app on your iOS device:

2. Select ‘Show All Health Data’ section, which will open this page:

3. Select the Exercise Minutes section, which will then open this page:

4. On this page scroll down until you see the section called ‘Show All Data’, press that and a list will show up:

5. Now you have two options. To delete a whole workout just press on the Edit button at the top and then press the red circle next to workout you want to get rid of. If you only want to remove part of the workout, then press on the workout in question and this page appears:

Yes, that’s your workout in one minute blocks. You can delete each one by either swiping right to left or by pressing the Edit button and then selecting the red circle next to each one.

6. That’s it! You Fitness app will sync pretty much right away and your unwanted extra minutes on your rings will disappear from your Apple Watch.

Review: If Only Tonight We Could Sleep

Before the start of this review, I should state that I know Matthew R. Davis. We have met at  local writing events, and we do follow each other on social media.

The thirteen stories in his first anthology “If only tonight we could sleep”, showcases the broad range of Matthew’s imagination. In this book, there is a nightclub gone wild, sentient roses, weird sisters, a lovers play list, and strange goings on in the rail yards to name a few .  Whilst each story does contain original ideas, Matthew’s clear voice does come through – especially his feel of reality. This is what makes the stories even better, in that they all start in the same place. Reality. As the events transpire and get into the fantastic, they maintain their hold on reality. In the horror genre, spiralling out of control is something that is easy to do, but Matthew does not. He maintains the control on the words and the events. 

There are a few places where a cliché does sneak in, and in one story, there is a small case of author intrusion. But, overall, an enjoyable anthology, and a talent to keep an eye on. Given the nature of Matthew’s stories, two attentive eyes might be safer.

The Best Eighties Music Mashups Ever

What a discovery I made thanks to a friend on Facebook. The Hood Internet have created what are nothing short of masterpieces as far as music mashups. The level of work that has gone into these are incredible. Each year showcases 50 songs in around 3 minutes, and as you’ll hear, it’s a long way off cramming those songs in where you can.

Have a listen for yourself, and ideally use headphones to appreciate what these folks have pulled off. We’ll update this post as new ones are added.

Featuring: ABBA, AC/DC, Anita Ward, Billy Joel, Blondie, Boomtown Rats, The Buggles, The Cars, Charlie Daniels Band, Cheap Trick, Chic, The Clash, The Cure, Donna Summer, Doobie Brothers, Earth Wind & Fire, Electric Light Orchestra, Fleetwood Mac, The Flying Lizards, Gang of Four, The Gap Band, Gary Numan, Joy Division, Kiss, The Knack, Kool & The Gang, Lipps Inc, M, Michael Jackson, Pat Benatar, Pink Floyd, The Police, The Pretenders, Prince, Queen, Rainbow, Rupert Holmes, Sister Sledge, The Specials, Squeeze, The Sugarhill Gang, Supertramp, Talking Heads, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Van Halen, The Whispers, Wire

Featuring: A Taste Of Honey, AC/DC, The B-52s, Billy Joel, Billy Squier, Blondie, Bob Marley & The Wailers, Bruce Springsteen, The Clash, The Cure, Dead Kennedys, Devo, Diana Ross, Dolly Parton, Elvis Costello, The English Beat, Frankie Smith, Generation X & Billy Idol, George Benson, Hall & Oates, J. Geils Band, The Jam, John Lennon, Journey, Joy Division, Kool & The Gang, Kurtis Blow, Lakeside, Martha & The Muffins, Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark, Ozzy Osbourne, Pat Benatar, Pete Townshend, The Police, Queen, The Ramones, The Romantics, Rush, The S.O.S. Band, Steely Dan, Stephanie Mills, Talking Heads, U2, Ultravox, The Vapors, Yarbrough & Peoples, Zapp

Featuring: .38 Special, AC/DC, Afrika Bambaataa, Billy Idol, Billy Squier, Blue Oyster Cult, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Foreigner, Funky Four Plus One, Go-Gos, Hall & Oates, Human League, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Journey, Juice Newton, Kim Wilde, Kool & The Gang, Laurie Anderson, Loverboy, Men At Work, Neil Diamond, New Order, Olivia Newton-John, Phil Collins, The Pointer Sisters, The Police, The Psychedelic Furs, Queen & David Bowie, Rick James, Rick Springfield, Rod Stewart, Rush, Soft Cell, Squeeze, Stevie Nicks, Taana Gardner, Teena Marie, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Tom Tom Club, Toni Basil, Treacherous Three, Trio, Vangelis, Yoko Ono

Featuring: A Flock of Seagulls, Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force, After The Fire, Alan Parsons Project, Asia, Billy Idol, Bow Wow Wow, Chicago, The Clash, Culture Club, Dazz Band, The Descendents, Dexys Midnight Runners, Duran Duran, Eddy Grant, The Fearless Four, Fleetwood Mac, Frida, Gang Of Four, Genesis, George Clinton, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5, Hall & Oates, Indeep, INXS, Iron Maiden, John Cougar Mellencamp, Kate Bush, Madness, Malcolm McLaren, Marvin Gaye, Men Without Hats, Michael Jackson, Michael McDonald, Modern English, Naked Eyes, New Order, Orange Juice, Peech Boys, The Pretenders, Prince, R.E.M., Shalamar, Sister Nancy, Survivor, Taco, Thomas Dolby, Toto, Yaz

Featuring: Billy Joel, Bonnie Tyler, Corey Hart, Cyndi Lauper, David Bowie, Def Leppard, Dio, Eurythmics, The Fixx, Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel, Greg Kihn Band, Herbie Hancock, Huey Lewis & The News, Irene Cara, Journey, Kraftwerk, Lionel Richie, Madonna, Mtume, Nena, New Order, Night Ranger, Pat Benatar, The Pointer Sisters, The Police, Quiet Riot, R.E.M., Rick James, Rockwell, The Romantics, Run-DMC, Shannon, The Smiths, Spandau Ballet, Styx, Suicidal Tendencies, Talking Heads, The Tubes, U2, Van Halen, Yes, ZZ Top

Featuring: A-Ha, Animotion, Art of Noise, Billy Ocean, Billy Squier, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams, Cabaret Voltaire, Chaka Khan, Cherrelle, Chicago, Dead or Alive, Deniece Williams, Depeche Mode, Don Henley, Echo & The Bunnymen, General Public, Glenn Frey, Harold Faltermeyer, Husker Du, INXS, Kenny Loggins, Laura Branigan, Madonna, Metallica, New Edition, Newcleus, Ollie & Jerry, Pat Benatar, Paul Hardcastle, Philip Bailey with Phil Collins, Prince, Ray Parker Jr., Rebbie Jackson, REO Speedwagon, Run-D.M.C., Sade, Scandal (featuring Patty Smyth), Scorpions, Sheila E., Strafe, Talk Talk, Tears for Fears, The Cars, The Fleshtones, The Go-Gos, The Minutemen, The Ramones, The Replacements, The Sisters Of Mercy, The Smiths, Thompson Twins, Twisted Sister, U2, Van Halen, Wham!

Featuring: Aretha Franklin, Billy Ocean, Cameo, Commodores, The Cult, The Cure, DeBarge, Dire Straits, Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew, Dream Academy, Duran Duran, Echo And The Bunnymen, Eddie Murphy, Faith No More, Grace Jones, Huey Lewis & The News, INXS, Jesus & Mary Chain, Kate Bush, Katrina & The Waves, Killing Joke, LL Cool J, Madonna, Miami Sound Machine, Mike + The Mechanics, Minor Threat, Motley Crue, Mr. Mister, New Order, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, The Outfield, Pat Benatar, Pet Shop Boys, Phil Collins, Prince & The Revolution, The Replacements, Robert Palmer, Run-D.M.C., Schoolly D, Simple Minds, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Stacey Q, Starship, Talking Heads, Tears For Fears, Tom Waits, Whitney Houston, Yello

Featuring: The Bangles, Beastie Boys, Berlin, Billy Bragg, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, Boogie Down Productions, Book Of Love, Bruce Hornsby & The Range, Cutting Crew, Cyndi Lauper, Duran Duran, Eric B. & Rakim, Europe, Fingers Inc., Genesis, Gwen Guthrie, Howard Jones, Human League, Janet Jackson, Lionel Richie, Loose Ends, Madonna, Metallica, Midnight Star, New Order, Nu Shooz, Oran Juice Jones, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, Robbie Nevil, Run-D.M.C., Run-D.M.C. & Aerosmith, Samantha Fox, Slayer, Smithereens, Stan Bush, Steve Winwood, Whistle

Featuring: Aerosmith, Audio Two, Belinda Carlisle, Boogie Down Productions, The Cure, Def Leppard, Depeche Mode, Eazy-E, EPMD, Eric B. & Rakim, Eurythmics, George Michael, Guns N Roses, Heart, INXS, Jody Watley, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, LL Cool J, Love And Rockets, Madonna, MARRS, Michael Jackson, Midnight Oil, New Order, Pebbles, Prince, Public Enemy, R.E.M., Rick Astley, Salt N Pepa, Sonic Youth, Starship, T’Pau, Taylor Dayne, Tiffany, U2, Was (Not Was), When In Rome, Whitesnake, Whitney Houston

Distrokid: A 2020 Review

You do indeed get what you pay for.

We are not a click-bait site that strings things out to get you to stay on the page, so here’s the summary. We found Distrokid to be non-communicative over more than two weeks when trying to submit music. Tech support is essentially non-existent so we pulled the music and went elsewhere.

The fuller story

It’s a weird time: millions of people in different countries are in some form of home isolation or quarantine. Anecdotally, it appears there’s lots more creation of music going on – some lucky people are using the extra time to start or finish musical projects they are working on.

I’m one of them, and in the past three weeks I started looking around for which online option I’d take to upload my music to all the streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Amazon Music etc etc). I had used TuneCore before, and although they fully delivered on everything they said, I didn’t particularly like their interface and thought I’d look around.

I’d had a few people across different musician groups online recommend DistroKid, so after looking at their pricing versus TuneCore and CDBaby, and reading some other info online (except one key source I missed, but more on that later), I signed up with DistroKid.

The sign-up process is great, as are the music upload features. I had my artwork and music files all in the correct format and it was flawless. Once you’ve submitted the files, you get a message at the top of the page that says you’ve been successful and that the album or single you’ve uploaded will be sent to the music services today. This is misleading on its own because rightly, DistroKid state elsewhere on their site that it can take ‘several days’ for songs to be reviewed and sent to stores. It’s a reasonable timeframe, so benefit of the doubt was given on the claim of it being sent ‘today’. No biggie.

The days dragged on and I followed the DistroKid twitter account, still not concerned. In fact I assumed there’d be some sort of extra delay given what’s going on worldwide and previous coverage of DistroKid alludes to them being a fairly small outfit. I was (and am) concerned that maybe some of them had become ill with COVID-19. Then I noticed they were posting at least daily on Twitter, either linking to something that has taken their fancy (Dave Grohl surprising a frontline healthcare worker on Jimmy Kimmel) or asking followers on their thoughts on different issues.

All normal stuff from a company Twitter account, but I noticed that amongst the responses to each tweet a regular handful of replies from disgruntled users. The theme is consistent: why am I not getting replies to my support queries and why is my music not being uploaded to the stores? Even more concerning, nearly all are ignored and the odd one that is responded to, involves the provision of a link to the DistroKid support site. I won’t bore you with the details of that, and you can actually check it out yourself, but it is one of the least user-friendly support options I’ve ever seen in respect of being able to send a message with details specific to your issue. Again, it’s totally reasonable that a small company needs to minimise queries that can be solved automatically, but whoever set up this Zendesk site has mastered the ability of making it a circular hell-hole.

This is where I realised I’d missed a source of information before signing up. If I’d checked out TrustPilot for DistroKid reviews, because that alone would have set alarm bells off for me. Reading through reviews I realised I was far from alone. Even if you believe competitors are trolling the reviews, there’s still plenty of obviously legit ones to cause concern.

When ten days had rolled around and still no submission to stores has occurred, I went back to Twitter and saw the same pattern – lots of interaction from DistroKid to any positive feedback and nothing to those asking for help. I thought I was being hard done by at 10 days wait, but there were others who were at the three week mark with the same non-communication. That was the deal-breaker for me. I logged in, finally found a way to ask for a refund (it’s the first time I found a form where I could actually type information) and then the following day clicked on the ‘Abort’ button to stop my music being uploaded to stores (if it ever were to happen). I remain skeptical of getting the refund but it will be something I will pursue very very actively.

Today, I paid an extra 25 bucks or so than DistroKid charged, to upload my music to TuneCore. To their credit, they have a very prominent message on delays in uploads due to the COVID-19 situation. And this is all I really wanted: any type of communication from DistroKid to explain that there’d be delays. It’s understandable a small team may be struggling with workload, but it’s also very easy to communicate that in a way that grows loyalty, not destroy it before it has a chance to develop. The DistroKid Twitter account shows the lights are on, but no-one gets in that door at this stage and it worries me why. There’s more to customer service than posting heart emojis or GIFs in replay to loving Twitter followers. I hope you folks are doing ok and I hope to read / see that things improve. To those reading this wondering whether to sign-up: read the good, bad and ugly reviews and make your own call of course.

One last comment: when you do a web search for ‘Distrokid review’, a lot of the higher ranked articles are from sites who are offering affiliate discounts for signing up to Distrokid, so take them with a massive grain of salt. I went back to TuneCore because it was a devil I knew, not because I’m getting some sort of deal to do so. I nearly went with CD Baby, but decided learning another interface wasn’t worth the effort. I actually wish BandCamp would offer a service to submit to other stores because I really like their approach.

Comments welcome below but ad hominem attacks or defamatory statements will be removed. Thanks to The Creative Shed for the opportunity to post this review.

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash

Review: Kill Code by Clive Fleury

The world that Clive builds here is one that is presented clearly and tersely – this is evident given the novel comes in at 148 pages. The other reason that he is able to do this is due to there being very little in the way of new ideas. The images presented are standard post climate change / economic collapse / dystopian future.

The story follows Hogan Duran, a former police officer, eking out a life in this world, trying to feed himself and a former colleague. When the opportunity presents itself for him to improve his lot, he takes it. As is expected in this genre, he discovers the darker side of the world he inhabits. As the heroic type, he does something about it.

The voice of the main character remains constant through out the novel. There are no areas where he suddenly changes word usage.  The use of the first person creates the doubt of what truth is, which reinforces what appears to be the main theme of the novel. What is truth ? And whose truth is true ? 

On the downside, the use of the first person takes some of the tension from the action sequences. There are a few, and they are fast and to the point.

Reading this novel, there are a few places that are disjointed, as characters that have made an exit aren’t identified. However, this could have been forgiven if it had been part of the final explanation of the experience – which it wasn’t – so what could have been a plot point, looks  like a plot error.

At the end, it does feel like a volume one of a larger saga, and it will be interesting to see how that progresses.

Overall, is you are looking for a quick dystopian novel that is fairly well written, this will fill in some time and go for it. 

Previous Posts