Purgatory in Paradise Cove

They say that the best travel stories are the ones that go supremely wrong. The train that leaves the station with all your stuff aboard while you get a gelato on the platform. All you have left is a handful of kopecks and a mango ripple cone.

The toxic tummy bug that strikes you down when you have three flights and a complicated transfer — Milan has two international airports, what poor planning! — and you are down to zero clean laundry. Just a pair of flight socks to hold the tide.

Young woman sunbathing in bikini
Young woman sunbathing in bikini

This wasn’t like that. The travel was perfect, to be honest. I love California, and a drive down the coastal highway from San Fran to LA, it doesn’t get much better. …

The whole world is watching

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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

It was many years ago. Washington DC was covered in snow — a new experience for this young Australian on her first visit to America — and I picked my way along the Mall to the Archives, careful to keep my balance in this strange and slippery world of whiteness. …

A new sweet song

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The news out of Georgia is positive. In a good way. As I write, it is all but settled that the Democrats will win both Georgia Senate seats in the special elections.

This means that incoming American President Joe Biden will have — with a bare margin — both houses of Congress to work on passing a legislative program after the obstructive and then destructive years of Mitch McConnell and Don Trump.

This must be a sweet day for the most influential American not holding elected office, Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the election for Governor in Georgia in 2018. Convinced that voter suppression in a Republican-run State had cost her victory, Stacey launched Fair Fight Action, a group aimed at ensuring that all eligible Georgians had an equal opportunity to participate in democracy. …

…and I think every book-lover shares it.

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Who doesn’t love a good library? Say what you like about e-books and audiobooks, but the tactile pleasure of picking up a real printed book is very real.

The heft of the thing in your hand, the feel of it against your fingers, the smooth sliding sounds of pages and endpapers as you open it up, and even the smell as you stick your nose in and get a really good look. A cold plastic tablet has none of that.

Just running my hands along the bumps and patterns and texture of the spine; I don’t get that with a paperback, and it’s an enjoyable experience to savour the moment before cracking it open and settling down with it to take a magic carpet ride to a realm of delight. …

Clean the slate with the other’s mind

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The practical use of philosophy is not whether you can make money out of it, or stack the dishes in a better fashion or make somebody get you a fresh cup of coffee.

It’s all about opening up the brain to thinking about deep topics. Otherwise, that bit of our thinkingness gets eaten up by other things, like how to make the housekeeping money go further, or how to win some online game, or remembering who said what in every episode of Friends.

I love talking Plato, or puzzling out the Sanskrit of the Vedas, or deconstructing Shakespeare. Things that regular people don’t do. Get a group of people talking about the same arcane thing, led by a tutor who knows the subject well, and it is my idea of heaven. …

Christmas down under

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The family tradition here in Oz. Christmas at the beach.

In Australia, it’s early summer, school holidays, three public holidays within a week, and time to escape the everyday.

Load up the car, drive for hours, meet up with the reels, and if you are a kid, get burned to toast trying out the Chrissy togs on a brand new beach towel, rinsing off any sunscreen by getting dumped in the surf, and cramming every fold of skin full of golden sand.

For adults, it’s a chance to get sozzled on fizzy wine, sit back under a floppy hat and sunnies to match, read through the latest thriller, and wonder which head amongst the tumbling ocean waves is your genetic heritage. Men may optionally consume beer with uncles and cousins in front of a television broadcasting some sports event in which to feign interest. …

Stories that caught my eye

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I’m in a privileged position as an editor for ILLUMINATION and ILLUMINATION-Curated. I get to read a lot of stories that get submitted to our publications, I work on them with the writers, and I hang out in the editors’ room on Slack, where we talk about what’s going on.

Some authors I can be sure are a good read. Interesting, well-researched, relevant. Others might be creative in fiction or poetry. Others are whimsical, instructive, philosophical.

We get a LOT of different submissions, and I wish I had more hours in the day to read through all of them.

Invariably, a few catch my eye. Here are ten, in no particular…

Number One Tip | Humour

Do this and you will be the funniest ever

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TL;DR: Put the punchline at the end

When I was in school, the teacher went around the class and asked what we wanted to be when we grew up.

They all laughed at me when I said I wanted to be a comedian.

Well, they ain’t laughing now!

“Ask me what is the secret of humor,” I’ll demand of a friend.

“Okay,” they’ll reply, and put on their formal voice. “What is the secret of…”


Seriously now, humour revolves around a “bistatic percept”, where two conflicting positions intersect, and the happy enjoyment of the joke arrives when the listener realises that a word or phrase exposes the alternate meaning, which is usually something unexpected. …


Britni Pepper

Britni Pepper has always enjoyed telling stories. About people, places and pleasures.

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