On Writing, Tech, and Other Loquacities

The collected works of Lana Brindley: writer, speaker, blogger

Leave a comment

Louisa Lawson and The Digitise The Dawn Project

Louisa Albury was born in 1848 in Mudgee, the second of twelve children. Although she was offered a position as ‘pupil teacher’ at school, she was encouraged by her parents to leave school in order to look after her younger siblings. It was a fairly common thing to happen to eldest girls at the time, but judging by Louisa’s later life, it seems that she regretted it most severely. And who can blame her? She married Niels Hertzberg Larsen (who called himself Peter) in 1866 at the tender age of eighteen, and they later Anglicised their surname to Lawson. Peter, for good or bad, spent much of his time away at the goldfields, and left Louisa at home to look after their brood of five children alone. Eventually, his absences became longer and more frequent, and by the time Louisa moved with her children to Sydney in 1883, the marriage was all but over. Left alone with five children to support, and with very little and sporadic financial assistance from Peter, she turned her hand first to sewing and washing to earn money. She also took in boarders from time to time. In 1887, she took the opportunity to purchase The Republican newspaper, a paper about which I’ve been almost completely unable to find information on, sadly. The one thing I have learned, though, is that it (apparently) “called for all Australians to unite under ‘the flag of a Federated Australia, the Great Republic of the Southern Seas'”[0]. By all accounts, it didn’t last long though, and ceased production the following year, in 1888. But Louisa’a political leanings were very much beginning to show.

Apparently bitten by the publishing bug, and probably eager to continue publishing her own essays and works of poetry, she started publishing a magazine called The Dawn in 1888. It was printed as “A Journal for Australian Women” and “publicize women’s wrongs, fight their battles and sue for their suffrage”[1]. It was the first newspaper printed in Australia that dealt with issues of feminism and suffrage, and is considered perhaps the single most important factor in the beginning of the suffragette movement in Australia. Shortly after The Dawn‘s inception, Louisa’s husband Peter died, leaving her with a large inheritance, which was immediately spent on improving the printing press and increasing the circulation of the magazine. She also hired ten staff, all of whom were women. The NSW Typographical Association did not accept female members at the time, and took exception to the fact that a magazine could be edited, printed, and circulated only by women. They took up arms against Louisa and the magazine and encouraged advertisers to boycott The Dawn and reportedly harassed the women on site.

As evidence of Louisa’s strength, she did not let this discourage her, and in 1889, she began running meetings at the Dawn offices which became known as The Dawn Club. The Club discussed issues relating to the “evil laws” made by men, and encouraged women to infiltrate male-dominated arenas such as debating clubs, and Louisa herself became the first female member of the board of management of the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts.
Rubbish Paragraph
The Womanhood Suffrage League of NSW began in 1891 and, hardly surprisingly, Louisa was elected to its council. She offered the Dawn offices and printing press for the League to use for meetings and pamphlets free of charge, and this remained the case until the League’s demise, despite the fact that Louisa herself withdrew from the council in 1893 after an ill-documented dispute.
Rubbish Paragraph
By the time women were given the vote in 1902, Louisa was starting to slow down. In 1900, she had a fall from a tram and was badly injured, although she was politically active again in 1902 itself, when she was introduced to the Australia parliament as “The Mother of Suffrage in New South Wales”[2]. During the early 1900’s she took several extended ‘rest’ periods from her campaigning and the magazine. She was 54, not old by our modern standards, but perfectly elderly by the standards of the day, and she had worked hard both physically and mentally all her life.

With the coming of the women’s vote, Louisa aged and so, sadly, did The Dawn. The columns grew fewer and less fervent, the advertisers gradually departed, and in 1905 the newspaper printed its last edition.

Louisa continued to write for several Sydney-based publications, and she also produced an extensive volume of poetry.

I have been unable to find out what mental ailment troubled her in her final days, but dementia appears to be the most likely. She died in the Gladesville Mental Hospital aged 72, in 1920. The fight gets to even the strongest of us in the end.

Unfortunately, The Dawn has so far not been included in the National Library’s ‘Trove’ Digitisation Project, despite it’s great historical significance in gaining Australian women the vote, and despite Louisa’s passion and fervour in promoting women’s rights of all description. Do you feel it’s an important part of Australian history? If you do, why not contribute to the project? It’s being run by the lovely Donna Benjamin and she needs your help to raise the funds to make the digitisation a reality. You might also like to follow @digitisethedawn on Twitter to keep up with progress, and to help spread the word.
Rubbish Paragraph
Oh, and as a postscript: yes, Louisa did have a very famous son, but her story is so much more interesting than that, don’t you agree?

[0] http://www.nla.gov.au/guides/federation/people/lawsonl.html

[1] http://adbonline.anu.edu.au/biogs/A100019b.htm

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louisa_Lawson


Leave a comment

MODY3 for the newly diagnosed

Receiving a MODY3 diagnosis can be a threatening, frightening time. However, by understanding the disease, and knowing what to do about it, you can live a long and healthy life. This booklet will explain what MODY3 is, and will outline some of the changes you will need to make.

Diabetes mellitus refers to a group of diseases that impact the pancreas and how the body stores and uses both glucose and insulin. Maturity onset diabetes of youth (or MODY) is a rare genetic form of diabetes.

There are three main groups of diseases that fall under the diabetes heading:

  • Type 1 is an immunodeficiency disorder, where the pancreas no longer produces any insulin. People with type 1 diabetes require injections of insulin to stay healthy.
  • Type 2 is a progressive disease, where the pancreas will gradually stop producing insulin in the quantities required. Additionally, people with type 2 diabetes will exhibit insulin resistance, where they  can no longer effectively use the insulin their pancreas produces.
  • All other types. This includes latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA), which is a form of late-onset type 1 diabetes; and maturity onset diabetes of youth (MODY), which is a genetic form of diabetes. These types are sometimes referred to as ‘type 1.5’.

Many people with MODY are never officially diagnosed, as it requires lengthy and expensive genetic testing, and even those results can be inconclusive. You might have been diagnosed as one of the other types of diabetes, and your progression has caused your doctor to suspect you have MODY, or you might have been diagnosed as MODY simply because you show none of the usual signs of type 1 or 2 diabetes. Do not worry too much about having an official diagnosis, though. Enough is known and understood about the management of diabetes—and MODY—to be able to manage your condition very well. Over time, you and your medical team will be able to determine with greater certainty what type of diabetes you have, and how best to treat it.

Despite the name, maturity onset diabetes of youth is not late-onset type 1 diabetes. MODY comes in six known forms, although this number could climb as research continues into the area. MODY is referred to as ‘monogenic’ meaning that it involves only one gene, unlike the more common forms of diabetes that have more complex causes, and involve two or more genes. The types of MODY are differentiated by the gene that is involved. About 2% of all diabetes diagnoses are MODY, and about 70% of all MODY diagnoses are of the type MODY3. MODY3 is caused by mutations of a gene on chromosome 12 called the HNF1? gene.

Generally, people with MODY3 produce a very small amount of insulin or none at all. However, if you have MODY3, you probably do not have very high insulin resistance. This means that that you can use any insulin your body produces or that you inject effectively.

To keep reading, download MODY3 for the newly diagnosed

I wrote this manual as a final assessment item for uni. I have no intention of updating or maintaining the document at this stage, however if there is sufficient interest in it as an information resource, I could possibly be convinced 😉


Leave a comment

Rule 16 of the Internet

In her introduction to the 1994 edition of “Damned Whores and God’s Police”, the wonderful Anne Summers wrote “I believe that to address these questions [of women’s struggle for equality] adequately, a new book is needed and I hope that someone, somewhere, right now is hatching another ‘big book’, a sweeping feminist perspective on contemporary Australia, because we need another interpretation, a new perspective … We need new voices, and new visions.”


I read those words for the first time in 2003. I had gotten married that year, and was busy falling pregnant. I gave birth to my daughter early in 2004, and settled neatly into my new found role as wife and mother. I helped in my husband’s business as a secretary and book-keeper and cooked healthy and satisfying meals for my family from the Women’s Weekly. I kept the house clean, my husband’s shirts ironed, and my baby’s bottom dry. Sometimes when the baby was asleep I would write short stories to amuse myself that I never shared with anyone. Occasionally, my feminist best friend would call me on the phone, we’d chat, and at some point she’d laugh and say “you are the typical housewife. You’ve turned into your mother”. Of course I hadn’t, I scoffed back. I had a job, my child went to daycare three days a week. This being the epitome of working motherhood to me. That, and all the associated guilt that came with it that Ita Buttrose (“Motherguilt: Australian Women Reveal Their True Feelings About Motherhood”) and her ilk told me was right and proper that I should be feeling. I had read Greer’s “The Female Eunuch” and Summers’ “Damned Whores and God’s Police”. I thought I understood the issues, and I empathised with the few feminists I had met. What I didn’t understand was why they had to be so angry about it all the time. They were missing the point. We had come so far, already. We didn’t have to worry about getting the vote, or equal pay for equal work, or sexual freedom. We had all that. What more did they want? Really?


Four years later, I found myself celebrating the second anniversary of my divorce with a melancholy kindergartner torn between two homes. At the age of 27 I had finally discovered that it was possible to have a job that I enjoyed and that also paid the bills, and it was the only thing keeping me sane. I started watching the world around me with jaded, cynical eyes, and writing down the things I saw. I found myself re-reading Anne Summers book, and her words sang away in the back of my mind. I dug further, craving more information, and gradually became familiar with the online world of hurting, angry, and pained feminist bloggers. I started reading what they wrote – not the vitriolic and accusatory words they used, but what they actually were trying to say. And when I cut through the verbiage, I heard one thing over and over again: Why is this still happening?


Feminism is now a dirty word. Efforts to achieve gender equality are encouraged to employ language that is less confronting and not quite so scary. Young women don’t want to be feminists any more, we’re told. Feminist rhetoric everywhere is beset by women commenting that the authors are beating dead horses, and they just wish we’d all stop talking about it already.


Where does this disconnect come from? Why was it that while I was fulfilling my role as a wife and mother that I thought we had equality? Why was it that not until I ventured into the online world did I discover this apparent lingering inequality in our society? I think it had to do with a number of different factors.


Perhaps the most glaring answer was that I was now viewing the world via the social web, rather than the mainstream media. My news was no longer filtered by what would sell newspapers and magazines, but by what people found interesting. The natural result of this of course is that when you read one feminist blog, it links to another so you read that one as well. That one might link to a few different articles, and another blog. Eventually, you find that your entire morning news consists of feminist ranting and not much else. That, in itself, had a lot to do with my perspective, but it didn’t fully explain whether the deception occurred in the years before I started reading blogs, or after.


I also wondered if it was because I now had access to individual and very personal accounts of sexism and inequality. These were stories being shared directly by victims. Prior to reading my first ever feminist blog, I had never been friends with anyone who had experienced anything so brutal, demeaning, and sometimes violent as these stories I was reading now. Was this a matter of statistics? It is entirely believable that the number of people recounting these acts were statistically insignificant, meaning the problem where it existed was truly horrifying, but probably not anything worth actually getting upset over, unless you were the victim of course. After all, there are a small percentage of people in the world that can only be considered sick fucks. We all know they exist, we do what we can to combat it legally and socially, and we all recognise that the whole of human society is not at all like that. This had a ring of truth about it too, but it was still hard to swallow as a complete answer.


Eventually, something came up in a conversation with a friend of mine. We were discussing geek culture, and how being a ‘geek’ suddenly had street cred and everyone wanted a piece of the action. Everywhere she turned, she was faced by people who had never done anything more with technology than log into Facebook, but they were suddenly branding themselves as a geek. Icons of geek culture – such as Star Wars, the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy series, Battlestar Galactica, and an overt interest in fonts – were being adopted in the most mainstream ways. It was enough to make HG Wells turn in his grave, she said. Suddenly, geek was the new black: everybody was making jokes involving hex codes, everyone had a Twitter account, and every photo of a cat had a poorly spelled caption. And that was when it hit me. It wasn’t that the internet had opened my eyes to sexism that had existed all along. It was that sexism existed on the internet in a way that it no longer existed in the rest of society. Online society reflected real life, but it was socially many significant steps in the past.


Internet culture has long been the stronghold of the uber-geek. Before MSN Messenger, Google, and Facebook made the internet accessible for everyone it took quite a lot of technical know-how to be able to get online in the first place, let alone find your way to online social groups and communities. Not everyone knew someone technically literate enough to get them online, and keep them there. Many people weren’t quite sure what they would do if they did get online. The internet was full of strongholds like USENET and IRC, inhabited by mathematicians, engineers, scientists and university students. They all spoke a special language comprised of acronyms, in-jokes, and slang that served to filter out the general public. For the most part, they were quite happy to keep it that way. I was at university in those days, so hanging out in an IRC channel or two was expected, but you didn’t dare speak up too loud, or wander into the wrong BBS, because it wouldn’t take long before you either showed your ignorance, or had some channel operator ask who you were and what you thought you were doing there. By keeping the riff-raff out of the networks, they were able to discuss their projects in detail without being bogged down by silly questions; they were able to monitor and filter what was said, and by whom. Although it was probably unintentional, these enclaves were also able to maintain the notion that they were part of an elite minority. They were the ones who ruled the internet – they would choose who could come, and they would choose who could stay. Overwhelmingly, the people who were making these decisions were male. It was not that they did not allow women in, so much that there were very few women who wanted in, or even knew about it. There weren’t that many women in their offline communities, so there were very few women invited into the newly developed online ones. So it was that with this technological leap forward into the early dotcom years, the skewed gender profile of generations of science and engineering labs filtered into the next great social revolution.


Acronyms and industry jargon have always been used to delineate those who are in the group from those who don’t belong. This is true in no place so obviously as the internet, particularly in those early days when internet access was just starting to creep into homes. Just like the offline world, outsiders have increasingly found themselves having to fight for acceptance into this culture. The technology that allowed access to all and sundry has, unfortunately, moved slower than the norms and rituals surrounding it. Which leads us to an interesting situation. Offline, women have achieved a lot in terms of gender equity. Sure, there is still work to be done, but for the most part women enjoy freedoms and equality that Germaine Greer and Anne Summers, when writing their seminal works, didn’t even have the words to describe. Online, however, is a different story. Rule 16 of the internet states: “There are no girls on the internet”.


Leave a comment

Where do you get your ideas?

Every writer has been asked this. Even unpublished, unknown, and unrecognised writers like me. In Stephen King’s brilliant book “On Writing” (which, you might have noticed, was the inspiration for this blog’s title) he gives a simple and succinct answer:

Anything you damn well want.

Honestly, I don’t know where I get my ideas. Sometimes I turn a little tiny nub of an idea around in my head, stretch it and bend it and flip it on its head, until it starts to form a plot. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and it’s just sitting there, whole, waiting for me to pick it up in my hand like a glass bauble and make it come to life on the page. Honestly, though, I think that the people who ask this question aren’t really wondering where the writer gets the ideas so much as “Where do you find the words?”. I read an interesting answer to this question by Julie Norris on the 2moroDocs blog. She explained that she

always visualize[s] words up in the sky, like stars, and when writing, I just reach up and gather some. Sometimes they’re easily in reach, and other times not. Depends on the word, I suppose, or the day.

I’m not sure I’m that visual, but I know there are days when the words come like a torrent, and it’s all my fingers can do to keep up with the flow. And then there’s days when they don’t … because sometimes they won’t (to paraphrase Dr Suess).

There is a school of thought that says write every day. While I’m not sure I agree with the preachy tone of that advice, I would definitely recommend that you write a lot. And if there’s a day when you don’t write, at least take the time to read. As part of the NaNoWriMo frivolities, a ‘pep talk’ email gets sent out to participiants every few days. My favourite one this year was from Peter Carey who said, in part:

First, turn off your television. The television is your enemy. It will stop you doing what you wish to do. If you wish to watch TV, you do not want to be a serious writer.

I never watched a lot of television, even as a kid, but I completely unplugged it about three years ago. I will note that when I say “I don’t watch television” I don’t, like a lot of people, mean “I don’t watch television, except for the news and the Saturday night movie” or “I don’t watch television, except for my favourite sitcom on Wednesdays. Oh, and that reality show on Saturday nights. Oh, and the lottery draw of course”. When I say “I don’t watch television” I mean “I don’t actually own one”. I don’t know how I would find the time now to watch even an hour of television a week. There’s washing to do, food to cook, books to read, blogs to comment on … any number of interesting things that are vying for my attention. It’s a concept that Clay Shirky write about in his (lengthy, but well worth reading) article Gin, Television, and Social Surplus. He refers to the time spent in front of television as a “cognitive surplus”, and suggests that when that time is spent doing, well, just about anything other than watching television, we are making a massive change to the very structure of our society. He also argues that children are growing up in a world where that cognitive surplus is being put to much better use. Children do not see value in media that you can’t interact with. While some decry this as shortened attention spans, I see it more as a shift in values. It’s not so much that we require constant entertainment, or constant stimulation, so much as we ask more from our leisure time. We’re not going to sit there and just mindlessly consume what’s on television so much anymore. We want our leisure to be spent creating, interacting, sharing, and collaborating. This is a good thing.

If you’ve always wanted to write, but you never have the time … try turning off the television. If you’ve always wanted to write, but you don’t know where to get your ideas, or you’re not sure how to find the words … turn off the television, and take a look at the world around you. It’s a hell of a lot more interesting, awe-inspiring, and wonderous than what’s on the box.


To Blog or Not to Blog

13 November 2010
As of today, this blog is closed. It’s been a long, hard year and we’ve decided that we can’t go on anymore. The risks are too great. The existing posts will remain here for the foreseeable future, but the shop will be closed. Any and all further requests for purchase will be denied.
Please be assured that this is not what we wanted. To our supporters – thank you for standing by us. To our detractors – fuck you.

“I think we should start a website.” Leann stated suddenly in the silence.He rolled over dreamily, slipped his arm over her stomach, caressed her bare belly, “Mmmm?” he mumbled.She turned towards him, her eyes blazing with excitement, “Yes! It’s a great idea! It would be awesome, David! What do you think?””If I agree with you, will you let me go back to sleep?”
The couple lay in bed, a lazy afternoon breeze curled through the window and caressed their sweat-soaked bodies.  The sun slanted onto the bed, it had shone directly on them as they made love, and was now giving up the last of its warmth before setting for the evening. Leann watched as David drifted back off to sleep. The muscles in his face relaxed, and his mouth slackened. She watched his eyes move behind his eyelids – shifting with the short confused dreams of early sleep, as he descended down the short ladder into an afternoon snooze. His dark curly hair lay in tangles across the pillow. She moved her hand over the muscles of chest, and down to the soft paunch of his belly, running her nails through the dark hairs she found there.
Leann was completely wide awake, sleep distant now her initial drowsiness had worn off. Her mind was busy turning thoughts over, thinking through her brilliant idea. Eventually, she slipped out from within David’s embrace and pulled on the clothes that lay tangled on the floor. She stepped out of the warm room, leaving behind the musky smell of sex, and in to the house proper.
The lounge room was cool in the growing darkness, and dim with gathering shadows as the day passed below the horizon. Leann sat in the gloom, lit by the glow from her computer screen.

On the fourteenth floor, a small meeting was underway in a corner of the marketing department’s office suite.”The results are back from the customer survey.” Brendan stated.”And … ?””It’s not good.””Somehow, I expected that.” Wendy sighed and closed her eyes, pinched the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger. “What do they say?”He looked down at the sheaf of papers in front him, flicking through them as he listed out the salient points, “Our image is dull; we’re old-fashioned; our products are considered unhealthy; the imagery is unappetising …” he flapped one hand at the documents, and then sat back in his seat. “Basically, we sell products that no one wants to buy, no one wants to cook, and no one wants to eat.””Damn” she muttered under her breath. “So what do we do?”He shrugged, and folded his hands behind his head. It was getting dark outside, the lights of the city flickering to life below them. He watched as the city slowly shuffled off its day time suit and replaced it with a glittery evening gown, and tried to form the words that would herald the beginning of the busiest and most stressful time of his corporate life so far. This conversation could make him the most respected marketing manager in the consumer packaged foods world, or it could earn him a lay off and his career. He took a deep breath, and began, “Well, there’s a few things we can do. I want to do a total redesign of the product line, right down to the logo and the packaging itself. A completely new feel. We need new images, new fonts, new ideas. I want research and development tasked with designing new bottles and sachets, and I want Creative to bust their collective arses on a new layout and brand. In the meantime, I want new photographs, images that actually make people want to eat the stuff that’s in the packet. I don’t care if it bears zero resemblance to what they end up with, as long as looks good on the packet.”Wendy looked at him through her half moon glasses, “You know you’ll never get the budget to do all that.””I know.” he added softly, dropping his hands, and leaning forward to look her directly in the eyes, “But I intend to do it somehow. I don’t care what it takes.” He paused slightly, trying to guage her reaction to his daring plan. After a moment’s silence, and holding her gaze with his own, he slid a perfect square of white paper across the glass-topped table, “And I want you to start here.” he said softly. The piece of paper had a single line of writing on it, in Brendan’s curling hand writing. It was a web address.Wendy looked at him quizzically, took the piece of paper, read it, and slipped it into the front cover of her notebook. “I’ll check it out.” she said.

When David woke, the house was cold and dark. The only sound was coming from the lounge room, the sound of tap tap tap as Leann typed away. Wound in a kimono, he padded out to the lounge room yawning loudly. He flicked the light on. The shadows scuttled back into the corners, but Leann did not lift her eyes from the screen. “Hello, darling” she said softly, smiling, her eyes remainign fixed on what she was doing.David flopped into a loungechair, and put his feet up on the side table. The kimono fell away from his legs and scraped the hardwood floor.”Hello” he said, finally.Leann turned her head to look at him, her eyes reluctantly peeling themselves away from the text in front of her, “You’re awake.” she stated.He nodded slightly, “I am.” He paused, drinking in Leann’s blue grey eyes, her fair skin. Dark curls fell in her face, and she palmed them back with one hand, the other hand resting lighly on the mouse. “What are you working on?” he asked.”A project.” she said, a tiny teasing smile dancing on her face.”Ah.” David responded, not allowing himself to be drawn into her ruse. “Are you hungry?””Yep.” Leann said, still smiling. “What’s for dinner?””It’s Sunday” he shrugged. “Let’s get a curry””Like this one?” Leann’s smile grew broader, she clicked twice, and then tilted the screen so that he could see. On the monitor was a photograph of a chicken curry, the detail so clear it looked as though you could dig a spoon right in and eat it. Every grain of rice was perfect. The light reflected on the creamy sauce, and the colour of coriander and chilli showed through. The picture was familiar to David, he had taken it only the week before. The recipe was Leann’s own. The picture was nestled under an artistic-looking heading, a combination of their names: LEanndAVID. The words were diaplayed over one of Leann’s favourite photographs: a collection of different coloured chillies, nestled in a blue and white bowl that had belonged to Leann’s grandmother. The photo had been taken after they returned from the fresh food markets one weekend, and Leann realised she had bought chillies in so many different varieties that they had eaten nothing but curries and other highly spiced creations for nearly two weeks, until the last of them finally went soggy and had to be thrown away.David raised an eyebrow.”Do you like it?” Leann asked.”What are you doing with it?””I thought we should make a blog. I’ll cook recipes, and you can take photos of them. We’ll put them up on the web site, and people can vote on their favourites. We could also sell the photographs, if we wanted to. Maybe print them up on our flashy printer in your studio, and mount them on card for people to hang on their walls. Put your signature in black pen on the corners, so people don’t forget your name.”David nodded thoughtfully, “It sounds like a lot of work” he said tentatively.Leann shrugged, and turned back to the screen, “We wouldn’t have to do anything much more than we do already. I cook and you take photos all the time. All we need to do is transfer a recipe to the blog every few days. It doesn’t take much time to get the recipe typed up.”David shrugged again. He put his feet down and leaned forward, elbows on knees. “Well, I guess we can give it a try. Check it out for a month or two. If we get bored, we can just stop right?””My thoughts exactly, darling.” Leann smiled, “My thoughts exactly”.

10 November, 2010
Some of you have noticed that our shop has been disabled. Well, okay. A lot of you have noticed. Please stop emailing me about it. Hopefully this is just another temporary disruption, although we don’t know yet when we will be able to relist everything. At the moment we’re trying to work out a way to continue selling without getting ourselves into any further trouble. It’s not easy. It seems that if images are available, they are pretty much fair game for anyone bold enough to try and take them. Please, if you do reproduce any of our images, credit David Forrest as the artist, and link back to this blog.
In the meantime, please enjoy the recipes, please keep commenting on the forums, and please keep letting us know what you think.
Don’t forget that we still have our PayPal link in the corner of this blog. If you like the site, please consider a donation to help us keep it up and running, and to help us fight the people who think they can take whatever images they like, just because they’re on the internet.
Today’s recipe is a simple summer recipe for steamed fish with a Thai-style salsa. Serve it over rice and it make a lovely warm-weather meal that will still fill you up …

Leann was sitting at the computer, checking emails, when David came up from behind and leaned over her shoulder, “How many hits today?” he asked.She clicked over to a new browser window, and opened up the statistics counter. She smiled every time she saw the line steadily rising over time. The LEanndAVID website had been running for only three months, but the hits had been ever increasing. Once people found the site, they kept on coming back. And even better they kept on telling their friends about it. “Seventy eight yesterday,” she said, then clicking a couple of times more, “And eighty three today”. She turned her head and smiled up at him, “it’s your beautiful photos” she said.”Don’t be silly. Your recipes are amazing. I’m so lucky.” he bent his head and kissed Leann on the forehead.”So what’s for dinner tonight?” he asked.”Cheese on toast” she responded, teasing.”I bet it’ll taste wonderful” he said, grinning.”And I bet you can make it look like five star gourmet!” she answered. They were both smiling as their noses met and they kissed.
Later that night, Leann was busy serving up a traditional lamb roast dinner. David had stolen a perfectly presented plateful already, and had set up his hand made light box around it. He adjusted it slightly, taking photographs from different angles, getting the final image just so. The warm smells of rosemary and garlic were on the cool evening air, and the lamb lay slightly pink and very tender on the plates, nestled alongside crispy skinned potatoes with delightful soft centres, and an array of colourful baked vegetables. Leann finished putting everything on the table, and took off her worn cotton apron, ready to sit down and start eating. As she lifted the apron over her head, it caught on her hair clip slightly. She gave it a tug and the old fabric neck tie gave way where it was attached to the bib of the apron, and broke completely. Leann gave a little tut as she examined the damage. “Well, there’s that apron gone.” she said, “That was my favourite too.””At least you have an excuse to get a new one, anyway.” David said, his eyes still glued to the lens of his digital camera.”Yeah, I guess so.” Leann settled into a dining chair. She spooned mint sauce over the lamb, and then poured a veritable river of gravy over the whole plate. “You know, I’d really like one of those new styles of apron that you see everyehere now. Not the ones with stupid slogans on them, but the heavy black cotton ones, with beautiful images on them.”David finished with the light box, and brought the plate over the to the table. He spooned gravy over it carefully, and then ground salt on top as well.”Ugh, how can you go and put salt all over that?” Leann scolded him, “You’ll overpower the other flavours.”David shrugged, “I like it like that.” he said, cutting into the meat, and putting a forkful in his mouth. He chewed, swallowed, and said, “You know, you could probably get someone online to make you a custom apron, if you send in a photo you like. Like, maybe, one of mine.” he suggested with a twinkle.Leann smiled, “Like I’d want one of your photos on an apron.” she teased.David laughed, shrugged, and continued to eat, “It was just an idea.” he said.”Actually, it’s not silly. I love that photo you did of the chillies in Grandma’s old china bowl. And it’s in the main page banner  on the web site too.” She paused slightly, chewing on a piece of lamb thoughtfully. Suddenly, the pointed with her fork at David, and said animatedly, “We should open up an online shop. We can make aprons and … I don’t know …. tea towels and things. Get your photos printed up on them through one of those print on demand places. People can pick their favourite photograph, pick a bit of merchandise, and then buy them!”David looked impressed, “That’s not a silly idea.” he said.”I might have a chat to some of the web site developers at work, find out what I need to do to get it set up.” She returned to her meal, pleased with her idea, “Yes, I like that idea. I’m very glad I thought of it.” she grinned at David.David was too busy shovelling potatoes in to answer.

Leann came in from outside, shaking the rain out of her hair as she came. She took her shoes off, mud caked on the soles, and left them just out side the door. Her feet were wet in her stockings, and she made slapping noises on the floor boards as she walked in to the house. It has been another long day at the office, and she was exhausted. She flicked lights on as she moved through the house, throwing her handbag and coat on the bed, then dropping her laptop bag on to the desk in the lounge room. She knew she needed to get another recipe up on the blog tonight, but she wasn’t sure she was capable of making a bowl of cereal with any success at the moment, let alone something to inspire the fashionably foodie masses. She left the laptop in the bag for now, and went to put the kettle on.
She was staring blankly in to her mug, the tag of the teabag dangling listlessly over the edge, the kettle boiling slowly beside her, her mind completely blank, when the back door opened, and David came in from his studio out the back. He pushed back strands of wet hair off his forehead, blowing melodramatically, and said “Wow, it’s really coming down out there! Did you get caught in on your way home too? Was traffic awful?” as he moved in close to her for a kiss. She kissed him quickly, muttered “uh huh” quietly, and then returned to pondering the tea bag, as though it contained the great answer. David cocked his head to one side, “You okay, Lee?” he asked in a softer voice. She looked up at him with tired eyes. Steam was rising from the shoulders of his tshirt in the warm kitchen. She smiled wanly, “Yeah, I’m okay. Just worn out.”The kettle clicked off, the water boiled, and Leann made a move towards it. David blocked her gently. “Go and sit down. I’ll make this.”Leann smiled again, more genuinely this time, and gave him a quick peck on the cheek before going over and flopping on to the couch.
At full stretch on the couch, Leann felt the tension in her spine start to release, the knots slowly detangling. She gave a sigh. She saw David coming towards her over the back of the couch, a steaming mug of tea in one hand. He approached, and was just setting it down on the side table when the phone rang. Leann moaned. “I’m not here!” she called to David’s back as he went to answer it.”Hello? … Yes, that’s me … Uh-huh.”Leann tuned out then, and started to drift off to sleep.
David put the phone down and gave out a loud whoop, and Leann jumped up on the couch, “What?” she yelled, startled, “What is it? What happened?!” She was ready to get off the couch and go and find him, when David came just about dancing into the room, a grin plastered across his face. She looked at him, her heart still racing, and grinned back at him in bemusement. “What the hell is going on?” she repeated, this time without the note of panic in her voice.”You’re never going to believe this,” David gasped, still elated, “But that was a reporter with the Sydney Morning Herald. They want to write a story about us. About the blog.””You’re …” Leann stammered, “You’re joking? Right?”David shook his head, the goofy grin still big on his face.”You’re not joking? Oh wow. Well, OK, so what do we do now?”

2 November 2010
It’s been a little crazy around here recently. We have been spending a lot of time down at the lawyer’s office, trying to work out how we can continue to sell our stuff here without ending up in a lot more hot water. So far, the prognosis isn’t looking good. Please be assured though, that at least for now, the shop is still open, and we’ll try and keep it that way for as long as we possibly can. If you are planning on purchasing something, please consider giving us a little towards our legal costs as well. You’ll find a PayPal box in the sidebar. It’s your donations that are keeping this site alive at the moment, and without them we will have no choice but to shut down for good. And we don’t want that. We are sure you don’t either.
We have a new recipe up for you, the last of the heavier dishes for a while as we head into some lovly warm Spring weather. This one is a simple dish that I like to serve up for a lazy Sunday lunch. It is a modern twist on a simple favourite from when I was a kid – macaroni and cheese. This version has some fine strips of shaved ham, diced tomatoes, and a little bit of baby spinach to make it a little more interesting …

“Thank you very much for your attention, Ladies and Gentlemen.” Brendan finished. He was standing in the small conference room that formed part of the marketing department’s suite of offices. A presentation was projected behind him, the final slide now visible with the United Foods logo prominently displayed along with his name and business title – United Foods Product Manager. “Are there any questions?” he asked, spreading his arms magnanimously at the small assembled crowd. All eight board members and a good amount of vice presidents were here, and he noticed one or two of them eyeing the bottles of champagne cooling in silver buckets off to the side of the room. His presentation had gone on too long, he chastised himself.The Chief Executive Officer raised his hand slightly, and Brendan glanced at him, nodding slightly. The man rose from his chair slowly, knowing he could take as long as he wanted to, and drew a languid breath before stating, “Mister Malcolm.”Brendan nodded, encouraging him to continue.”Mister Malcolm.  You have told us a lot about the research you have done. The product reviews, the customers surveys, etcetera. But you have not provided us with the expected revenue increase from this particular campaign.” The man cast a side long glance at the Chief Financial Officer, who ducked his head and coughed slightly, before fixing his gaze back on Brendan.Brendan squared his shoulders, and used both hands to readjust his neat grey suit lapels slightly. “Mister Grayson, of course, you are correct. I understand that Ms Waterhouse has been working with Mister Franton in the finance department, and they predict an overall sales increase of …” he consulted his notes, as though he had something meaningful written there, and then plucked a number out of the air, “upwards of seventeen point five percent across the range, once the new product imaging has been compeltely rolled out.”The Chief Executive nodded without smiling, “I expect you will have a report for me on that matter?” he demanded.”Of course, Mister Grayson.” Malcolm nodded, and made a mental note to get Wendy Waterhouse on to that. “Well,” he added, casting a glance over the uncomfortable looking group, praying that no one else had a question, “I think that wraps things up. Judy has arranged some refreshments for you all, and of course the new “Fresh Face of United Foods” product range is also there for your comment. Thank you.” he nodded slightly, and stepped away from the lecturn. His personal assistant, Judy, killed the power to the projector, and the presentation went dark. She smiled up at him, “Wonderful, Sir” she said fawningly. Malcolm smiled slightly as he packed up his tiny laptop, and moved it back into his own office space.
Wendy blinked as she walked into the marketing director’s office suite. The entire suite was dark, except for a corner of the conference room that was lit with high intensity halogen globes. They were directed at a small table with a white linen tablecloth that reflected the light back. Brendan was crouched in front of the table, studiously examining the full range of United Foods products. He had completed a promotion launch that afternoon, the products all reflecting their new packaging. She walked up behind him, placed a manicured hand on his shoulder, and he turned his head to smile up at her.”What do you think?” he asked, his voice soft.”They’re wonderful.” she murmured, “I absolutely adore the new look. It’s fresh, and new, and …” she paused, trying to find the right word, “Tasty. They look tasty.”Brendan nodded, “Yeah.” he agreed, “That man certainly has a flair for food photography. Perhaps we should try and get him on staff.”Wendy laughed brashly, “Like he would.” she stated. “Once he discovered we’ve used his photographs, he’s going to think we’re the worst company in the world.”Brendan shrugged. “It’s worth whatever we have to pay to get these photos on our products. We would never have gotten him to agree any other way. This way, he’ll either never notice, or never have the gall or the money to sue us over it. Either way, we win.”Wendy laughed again.

The journalist met them at a fancy cafe beside the harbour. The sun was shining, although a cool breeze off the water promised a chilly evening ahead. They sat outdoors, overlooking the water, watching the ferries punt up and down the harbour, passing each other gracefully as they moved in and out of the shadow of the Sydney harbour bridge. The journalist was dressed in a white linen pants suit, a mass of expertly curled blonde hair piled on top of her head and held with a silver ibis clip. Leann thought it had probably cost her hudnreds of dollars to get it looking so artfully unkempt. She brushed her own dark, naturally unruly hair back out of her eyes with the heels of her hands, and resettled her black conducter’s cap on top of it all. She had worn a pale pink satin blouse and black tailored pants, but next to Fran Descartes-Smyth she still felt poorly dressed.
The waiter brought bruschetta for them: thick slices of crusty bread, topped with diced roma tomatoes, fresh torn basil, and lashings of garlic and extra virgin olive oil. The smell alone made Leann salivate, and when she bit into it, she closed her eyes with pleasure. This was good, she thought. She could get used to being wined and dined by journalists, asked for her opinions, and having them hang on every word. She smiled at Fran, who was scribbling in her notepad as David enthused about his photography business, and tried not to worry about whether or not she had a piece of basil between her teeth.

Duo Dream Up a Winning Foodie Combination
Leann Roberts and David Forrest seem to have a match made in foodie heaven. David is an established photographer with his own marketing and promotional photography portfolio. Leann works for a high tech firm in North Ryde by day, but spends her evenings creating gourmet fare. Leann is the proud bearer of a Masters in Food Technology, but says she doesn’t work in the industry because “the hours are obnoxious, and my real passion is creating, not serving up the same dish over and over again”.
Their website – LEanndAVID.com – melds the couples’ passions together perfectly. Leann creates stunning recipes, explained in exquisite detail that alone makes the reader salivate. David photographs the entire process from preparation to presentation in their well-equipped but tiny suburban kitchen. He then uses a specially designed light box that he made to make the final product come to life.
Leann and David had been creating recipes in this way for many months before deciding to put their collective efforts up on a blog for the world to see. David says that they enjoyed doing it for themselves so much that one day Leann convinced him that perhaps other people would enjoy it much as they do.
Well, they weren’t wrong! The blog has been available to the public for little over six months, yet they are receiving in the order of one thousand to fifteen hundred visitors every day, with that number steadily growing. It was incentive enough for the pair to include an online shop on the site, where readers can buy their favourite photographs as posters, or on various items of apparel, including aprons. All the recipes – complete with photographs – are available to download direct from the site, and print out to recreate Leann’s masterpieces in your kitchen.
The couple say they have no intention of writing a photographic recipe book just yet, but also hinted that they might be open to the idea, saying “well, we will just have to see where the winds of fortune blow us”. The winds of fortune have, indeed, already been blowing favourably.

David stopped reading, and lowered the newspaper to peer out at Leann over the top of it. He raised an eyebrow and said in a mock plummy accent “The winds of fortune have been blowing favourably, my dear”. Leann giggled from where she was on the couch. “So has the blog melted down under the pressure of Sydney Morning Herald readers yet?” she asked.David turned to his computer, and called up the statistics. “Umm …” he said hesitantly. “When did you last check these?”Leann shrugged, “I’m not sure. A few days ago, I guess. Why?””Well, today’s Saturday, right?”Leann nodded, “Yeah.” she agreed. “The paper only came out this morning, so I don’t think you’re going to see a significant change until tomorrow or Monday, really”.”Well, this is strange. It says that on Thursday, we had 1753 hits, right?””Yeah, that seems about right.””And on Friday, we had 2,632.”Leann sat up suddenly, “We had what?” she shrieked.”Two thousand, six hundred, and thirty two. Hits”Leanne was at his side in an instant, disbelief clear on her face. “But that was the day before the paper came out! Surely the dates must be out or something. What’s it say for today?”David clicked a few times, Leann following his mouse movements eagerly. She gasped as the numbers appeared on the screen, as David slowly whispered “Five thousand … two hundred … and twenty one. Hits. On our blog.”They stared at each other dumbly for just a moment, until Leann suddenly let out a squeal of joy, and David wrapped her into a bear hug, jumping out of his office chair in excitement.
Leann was still reeling from the shock of the extra readers when the phone rang, and David picked it up in the office. He spoke for only a second before calling out, “Lea! It’s your mother!”.Leann sighed, and got up off the couch to grab the cordless handset from him. “Hi Mum” she said, walking back out to the lounge room.”Leann. Dear. Why didn’t you tell me about this web site of yours?””I did, Mum. It’s the same one I told you about a couple of months ago.””Nonsense, that one sounded terrible.” her mother dismissed.Leann rolled her eyes, “It’s changed a bit since then, Mum.” she pointed out.”Well, it must have! You know Ann? Not your sister, Anne, I mean Ann Frowley down the street. Well, she told me that her husband Frank read about you th other day. In the newspaper, Dear. Did you know you were in the newspaper?””Yes, I did, Mum. They interviewed us for it a few days before it came out.””Well!” her mother exclaimed, “Well! It’s caused quite a fuss around here you know, you’re quite the celebrity around these parts. They’re all saying, “Ohhh, you know Leann Roberts – That’s Liz Roberts’ daughter”. It’s quite exciting!””So it would seem.” Leann commented, “Tell you what, Mum, I’ll send you a few bits and pieces to give out to your friends. Some recipe cards and things. How’s that sound?””Oh, that would be wonderful, but don’t go to any trouble on my account, will you?””No Mum, of course not. I’ll send you a few things I have here, okay?””Oh that sounds just wonderful, thank you Dear.””No trouble Mum. I love you,” Leann stated with fainality.”Love you too, Dear. Do you have to go?””Yes, I do, sorry, Mum. I’ve got dinner in the oven, I have to go grab it out.” Leann llied.”Oh, alright then. Do call soon, won’t you?””Yes, Mum. Sure will. Talk later. Bye.” Leann finally hung up the phone with relief. She was a hit amongst her mother’s friends, anyway, she thought wryly, and then burst out laughing at herself.

The following Friday afternoon, Leann got home to find a pile of mail on the kitchen table. On top, quite prominently, was a distinctly shaped long thin envelope. She recognised it as a standard US letter size, and, curious, picked it up and started tearing it open as she kicked her court shoes off. It contained a single sheet of paper, and a cheque. It was a few moments before she realised what it was, but eventually it dawned, it was from advertising revenue. And it was for over two thousand dollars. She let out a squeal.
She always made it a habit of not interrupting David when he was in his studio, but this time she decided to break that unwritten rule. She opened the back door, and tore across the tiny yard. She reached the triple garage they had built in the back yard in three long flying steps, and tore around the corner to the doorway like a precision tuned rally car. When she got there she pounded on it, shouting David’s name. The cheque caught her eye as it flew, clutched in her fist. Two thousand dollars! It repeated in her mind like a mantra. Two thousand dollars! Suddenly, the door opened, and she virtually fell inwards, waving the cheque in David’s face as she threw her arms around his neck and squealed, “Two thousand dollars! Two thousand amazing dollars!” was all she could say.David, bemused, but caught up in her excitement all the same, gently pushed her back, so he could see  the piece of paper she was holding. When she stopped waving it around, he saw it was a cheque, and briefly noticed the payer’s name before taking in the amount.”Two thousand dollars?” he gaped.”Two thousand dollars” she nodded,  her face flushed.David gave out a whoop and drew her back into his arms.Laughing, Leann turned her head towards him, planted a big smacker of a kiss on his lips and then stared him straight in the eye and said, “Let’s go out for dinner.”David laughed then, too, “OK. You choose the restaurant. And we’ll let Google pay.”
Over dinner, Leann regaled David with stories of her mother’s new found fame, and her own ideas for the further development of the site. David told her of an upcoming shoot he had planned for a local spice blend company. They finished off a bottle of wine, and for a moment it seemed as though everything in the world was laid out for them on a platter. Life was good. For now.

When Wendy received the email from Brendan and read it, she paused a moment, and then read it again. She gave a unbridled little yelp in her tiny glass walled office, and then quickly looked around to see if any of the other marketing staff in their fish bowl offices had noticed. When it seemed as though she had gotten away with it, she jumped up from her desk, grabbed her notebook and a pen, and strode the short distance to Brendan’s office, which had the luxury of two non see through walls. She knocked quietly, and then pushed the door open a crack. She stuck her face into the small gap, and saw Brendan sitting at his own computer. He lifted a finger to indicate that he would only be a moment, his eyes remained fixed on the screen. He pointed to the small table in the walled corner behind him, and then brought his hand back to the keyboard to type out a fast patter of keystrokes. Wendy sidled into the room, closed the door softly behind her, and took a seat at the table. She stared out of the opposite wall and watched the lunch time crowds many storeys below her as she waited.
Brendan turned suddenly, and said, “Sorry about that, Wendy.” so abruptly that wendy jumped in her seat, startled from her reverie.”Oh, no problem, Brendan.” she said hurriedly, trying to hide her discomfort by patting her heavily hairsprayed coif, tucking an imaginary stray auburn hir back behind one ear. “I got your email.” she added pointedly.Brendan broke into a giant smile, “Goo-ood.” he grinned at her, dragging the middle syllable out.”It is. It’s ery good. OK, so we have permission, what happens next?””We ride Creative to get the logos happening, and we start choosing photos.” he grinned again.”The … the photos you … you asked me to check out?” she stammered slightly.”Yes, those ones. Have you looked at them?”Wendy nodded.”What did you think?””They’re very good …” she started.”Aren’t they?” he agreed happily, “I think they’ll do wonders for us.”She nodded again. “Are you sure … I mean …” she bit her bottom lip, and rouged her top teeth with lipstick as she did so, “Are you sure we’re not going to get in trouble over this?” she questioned timidly.Brendan waved a hand dismissively, “It’ll be fine, Wendy. Even if there is an … issue … we just hand it straight over to Legal to deal with. It won’t be our problem.”Wendy nodded again, and rose to leave.Brendad waved vaguely towards her mouth and said, “Your teeth, Wendy. You have … er … lipstick … yeah, there.””Thanks” she aughed nervously, swiping at her mouth. She picked up her notebook again, and left the room, still rubbing at her front teeth with embarresment.When she was gone, Brendan sat down heavily at his desk again, and sighed. He hoped that Wendy’s fears were unfounded, and he had done a good job of convincing her, but he asn’t quite convinced himself. Still, they needed those photographs, he told himself, and there was no other way to get them.

Five weeks later, when the second ad revenue cheque arrived for almost double the amount of the first one, Leann and David went out for dinner again. This time they saw a movie as well. It was in the car on the way home that Leann first brought the subject up. She had pulled the car up at a red light, it was nearly midnight and there were no other cars visible on the street. She turned to David, his face washed with the red light reflecting and refracting through the windscreen, and said, “I’ve been thinking …””Uh oh” David mocked.”No, I’m serious.” she laughed. The light turned green, changing the interior colour scheme of the car from gory B-grade thriller to The Wizard of Oz, and she eased into the intersection, switched lanes, and indicated to turn left before continuing. “I’m thinking, now that the blog is making us some money …””A good amount of money” David pointed out.”Yes, a really good amount of money. Between the store items and the advertising revenue, it’s netting us nearly as much as what I earn in the office. Which got me to thinking that maybe I should throw some more time into this. I’m thinking of dropping back my hours at work. I could go to part-time, and that would give me more time to spend in the kitchen. We could increase the blog posts to daily – or almost daily – and we could increase the amount of stock we sell in the store, because I could spend more time packaging and posting.” Leann paused for a breath.”Yea-ahh” David said, dragging the word out as he thought the idea through.Silence hung in the car as Leann waited for him to pick holes in the plan. The silence grew, and Leann concetrated on driving down the highway. She had been mulling over the idea all day, ever since the cheque had arrived the day before. She had turned it around in her mind every which way, and she was convinced it would work. David though – ever the conservative – was likely to think it was too big a risk. She wondered if she would be able to pick up the hours again if the plan went awry, and had to confess to herself that it wasn’t likely. It was a gamble, but it seemed like a pretty safe bet to her.
By the time Leann navigated the car up the driveway and parked, David still hadn’t said anything. He got out of the car in silence, and she followed him in, worried about what he would say, whether or not he would agree. Whether she was totally crazy, or on to a good thing. She was so churned up about it all, she couldn’t tell any more.

25 October 2010
We have just gotten back from what will hopefully prove to be our very last appearance in court. The final verdict was good, but not great. We could – at least theoretically – continue as we were going, but we’ll need to make some changes around the site first. For now, nothing is changing, and we’ll be spending some more time with the lawyers trying to work out how to continue things going as best we can.
Thanks again for all your support. Please don’t forget to order something from the store while you still can, the entire site will be going down for extensive maintenance very soon, and it might never be quite the same again, so get in fast. Also, thanks so much for all the donations – we would never have gotten this far without them. Please keep them coming – you will find the donation box in the side bar.
In the meantime, I have another curry for you. This one is a family recipe that has been shared with me by a very good friend of mine. It’s a traditional Indian curry that works well with either lamb or – more traditionally – goat meat, and it uses a fabuous mixture of spices to give it a really amazing flavour with an absolutely awesome texture. It needs to be cooked slowly to get the full experience, but if you have a pressure cooker use that instead. You will get the same result in a much faster time …

When they got home from the movies, David yawned, and said he was off to bed. He still hadn’t made comment about Leann’s plan. She smiled, kissed him softly, and watched his back as he retreated to the dark bed room, and undressed without turning on the lights. She listened to his sigh as he collapsed into bed, then gave her own sigh to match it, turned, and sat down at the computer, randomly surfing the internet to kill time until she started to feel sleepy. The sun was starting to inch over the horizon when she finally yawned, flicked off the monitor, and padded up the hallway to the bed room.
In the morning, David was gone from the bed before Leann had even rolled over. By the time that Leann had gotten out of the shower and stumbled into the kitchen for a cup of tea and a piece of toast, his car had disappeared from the driveway as well. She felt miserable. It appeared that he wasn’t going to agree. He was always broody and thoughtful when he had a big decision to make, but he rarely switched off for this long. By the time Leann was sitting at the table, munching morosely on her toast and flicking the pages of a magazine without seeing a single one of the glossy pages, she had decided that the idea was crap, David was just trying to work out exactly how to tell her that, and she was a fool for even considering it. She reached for the phone, and put in a call to the receptionist at the office. She wouldn’t be coming in today. Within half an hour, she had returned to bed.
When her phone buzzed with a text message an hour later, she didn’t bother to get up and check it.

David was out on a photo shoot with a client, watching her three boys scramble over the trees and each other in the park. The client herself stood off to one side with her sister and her baby. The baby screamed, the client complained, and the sister ignored the complaining to comfort the baby. He hated doing family shoots. The wind was up, a cold chill in the air promising the beginning of winter. He pulled his jacket closer, winced through the lens of his camera, and snapped another few shots of the boys before they murdered each other.
As he watched them, Leann’s plan continued to churn in his mind. He had been giving it a lot of thought. When David had first started his own photographic studio, they had often had to rely on Leann’s stable income base to see them through the times when clients were late to pay, or just thin on the ground. To lose that stability bothered him. But he could see the argument, too. They were earning good income from the web site, more than Leann could earn in the office. He had toyed with the idea of asking her to seek a raise, but decided it was not only unlikely to happen, but unlikely to be enough to match the advertising and online shop revenue. If Leann could spend more time on the site, then they would potentially be earning even more than they were now.
Screaming cries of “MUUUUUUM! He HIT me!” snapped him back to the shoot. He watched the youngest boy through his lens, following him in black and white, watching the child’s expression. He clicked of a series of exposures, capturing the child’s indignant face. The client would either love them or hate them. Probably the latter.
It was over an hour later, and David was starting to wish that the boys would just strangle each other and have it over with, when he noted storm clouds gathering in the west with a huge sense of relief. He packed the digital camera he was using into its soft case, carefully removin the lens first. He walked over to the client and her sister and niece, stopping first to stow the lens in its hiding place inside the larger bag that held his other cameras. When he reached them, he frowned, pointed to the sky, and mumbled something about not wanting to get his gear wet, that he had gotten a lot of good natural shots, and that he would call them tomorrow.
The client gathered up her protesting, fighting, children, and bundled them and about seven tonnes of equipment into her big four wheel drive. He shifted the car into gear, but idled with his foot on the brake as changed the CD in the car to something less depressing. He needed to clear this bad mood he was in. The music fixed, he reversed out of the car park, and followed his client’s car out on to the highway.
As he approached the exit off the highway that led to home, he slowed the car, indicated left, and moved into the exit lane. But at the last minute he changed his mind and swung back into the stream of traffic and continued on. He found his phone in the centre console, and dialled a number from memory. It was a short conversation, and he was smiling by the end of it. He sang along to the CD playing in the car for the few minutes he took him to get to his destination.
An hour and a half later, he emerged from the house, still happy. He paused in the driver’s seat for a moment, and tapped out a text message. The message sent, he reversed down the drive way and into the suburban street. He weaved his way through narrow residential streets, before hitting the highway again. His hair was still slightly damp, and he drove home with the window down to dry it before he got there.

Leann had finally convinced herself to drag her sorry arse out of bed when she heard David’s car pull up behind hers in the drive way. Her heart sank, presuming that he was either going to come in and want to argue about things, or would disappear out to the studio not to be seen until after dark. She presumed that seeing her car in the drive way would at least pique his interest, though.
Surely enough, the next sound she heard was the front door lock disengaging. She huddled over her tea mug on the table, letting her hair drape her face and obscure her features. So when he bounded up the hallway and shouted brightly, “Hi honey! Everything OK?” she frowned. This didn’t fit her gloomy picture.
She looked up as he walked into the room, and noticed the flash of concern on his face. She had been expecting anger, or annoyance, but not this.”Hey Lee … are you sick? Why didn’t you call me?”Leann just shook her head, stuck for words.”Anyway, did you get my text message?” he continued brightly from the kitchen. Cupboards banged loudly, the fridge opened and closed, cutlery and crockery clashed. He was apparently hunting for something to eat. “Man, I’m absolutely starving. I left early for that stupid family shoot, I hope I didn’t wake you up. Were you up very late? Tell you what,” he continued, as he prepared a sandwich, “let’s never have boys. At least, let’s never have three of them. Or if we do, let’s teach them how to be something other than short homicidal maniacs.” David reappeared at the kitchen table, only to be met with Leann’s blank stare.”What text message?” she asked softly.”Oh, I sent you a message about half an hour ago.” He said airily, “When I left the shoot”.”No. I didn’t get it. I mean, I haven’t checked my phone.” she stammered.David paused mid bite, and peered at her closely, “Are you OK Lea?” he asked again, “You look pale. Can I get you something? Tea maybe?”Leann nodded at her nearly full cup in response, cleared her throat a little, and said in a firmer voice, “What text message, Dave? What did it say?””Oh, not much, just that I thought you should have a chat to your boss about the part time thing. But you’re not at work, so I guess you haven’t”. He resumed the attack on his sandwich.Leann closed her eyes slowly, and just as languidly opened them again. A slow smile began to spread across her face, her features awash with her relief, the tension around her eyes suddenly slackening. She smiled gently, “No, I’m not at work.” she said softly, the corners of her mouth twisting in a wry little smile, “So I guess I haven’t.”

David was in his studio, going through the photographs from the shoot earlier in the day, while Leann created a new recipe in the house. She had the stereo on, blasting a hot sexy salsa, and she was dancing in the kitchen, incorporating the rhythms into the recipe. Twirling rapidly from the hot plate to the sink, shimmying from there to the cutting board, then sliding gracefully over to the oven to check on progress. She hummed to herself, danced for her own amusement, and cooked for her own pleasure. She was happy.
The phone suddenly rung, and she frowned a little in annoyance. Quickly, she grabbed the remote control on the bench top and turned the volume down, then grabbed the cordless handset off the table where it had been left, “Hello?” she enquired a little breathlessly.”Hi Sweetie, it’s Mum””Oh, hi Mum,” she answered, tucking the phone under her chin, and continuing to dice the potatoes. The blade of her knife flashed as mother and daughter went through the customary preliminary conversation. Her mother would have carried on forever about her varicose veins, Leann’s lack of children, and her father’s tendency to golf if Leann hadn’t eventually cut her off mid sentence with, “So, Mum, what’s up?””Well,” her mother harrumphed, “I’ve just been down to the shops and picked up this jar of curry sauce.”Leann rolled her eyes, said “Mmmm” without commitment, and started to fill a large saucepan with water to boil the spuds.”The thing is, you know that United Foods have just done that big redesign on all their jars?””No, I didn’t” Leann said, to no avail.Her mother barrelled straight on, “Of course you do. Anyway, I was looking at this jar because I was checking the salt content, and your father looked at it form the other side and said that the photograph looked very familiar. Well, I thought so too, but I wasn’t quite sure at first. But then I went and got my apron out – you know the one you bought me for my birthday last year? With the lovely picture on it of the chillies that David took?”Leann was only barely listening, she had the oven door open, and was busy extracting a spoonsful of sauce to test, “Uh-huh” she mumbled, blowing on the spoonful of sauce.”So I said to your father, ‘Richard, go and get that apron out of the cupboard for me so I can have a look’ because you know that I never wear it, I wouldn’t want to spill anything on it, I don’t think the picture would last properly if I washed it.””It will wash fine Mum, it’s designed to be used” Leann interjected, her mouth still smarting from the hot sauce. She turned to the spice cupboard, looking for paprika.”Yes, I know dear, but I don’t want to risk it. Anyway, when your father finally found the apron, we held it up to the jar of the sauce, and you are not going to believe this, but it’s looks just the same!”Leann suddenly felt a sudden drop in the pit of her stomach, “Mum? Are you sure?””Well, I’m not quite sure, I mean, it’s backwards on the jar, and it’s a little bit wonky on one side. And I think it’s got a little bit of a different colour in places. And it’s not as big as the one on the apron. Well, of course, because the big one on the apron wouldn’t fit on a little jar of curry sauce, would it?” she gave  a little laugh, “Did David do some work for United Foods?””No, he hasn’t …” Leann said slowly, standing still in the middle of the kitchen, her eyes fixed on the bubblling Osso Bucco casserole in the oven, but seeing only the picture of chillies. She knew it intimately, it had been a best-seller in the online store, especially on aprons, blazened with the words “Hot Stuff!” across the image. They were out of stock at the moment, and the back orders were piling up. She had called to hassle their supplier only that morning.”Well, it must be a different picture, then.” Her mother gave another litle titter of a laugh, “Silly me! My eyesight isn’t what it used to be, is it? Which reminds me, did I tell you about Ann? Not your sister, Anne, I mean Ann Frowley down the street. Well, she’s had cataracts would you believe? She says she is having them out next month …”Leann tuned out, let her mother ramble on for only a few more minutes, before finally cutting in with “Look, Mum, I have to go. I’ve got potatoes on the boil and need to take them off.””Oh, Okay. No trouble, Sweetie. Call me soon, alright? You know I love hearing what you’re getting up to. You and your sister are both too busy these days to bother calling your dear old Mum, I don’t want you both to forget that …””Yes, Mum.” Leann interrupted, “Yes, I know. I’ll call you. Thanks for ringing.” she rambled as she pulled the phone away from her ear, and inched her finger towards the ‘end’ button … “Yep, love you too Mum. Bye”
As soon the call was ended, Leann turned everything off in the kitchen, and headed out the back to talk to David.

At the supermarket, Leann and David ran straight to the pre-packaged foods section, and were taken aback by shelf after shelf of United foods products, all bearing David’s photographs. They stood for a moment, dumbfounded, and then Leann started walking up and down, lightly touching each different bottle or packet she found. “Dave?” she said softly.David was still standing back, staring slack mouthed at the sight before him, “Yeah?” he replied.”I think you had better go and get me a shopping trolley.” she said numbly.David did as he was told. By the time he returned wheeling a trolley with a recalcitrant left front wheel, Leann had her arms full of different bottles and jars of curry sauces, meal bases, and various flavourings and spices. She dumped them into the trolley haphazardly. “Who the hell buys this shit, anyway?” she mumbled under her breath. “Have you seen the ingredients on these things? Full of sugar, full of salt, and virtually no nutritional value whatsoever. It’s all salt and flavourings and artificial colours.” she ranted.When they were done in that aisle, they sought out the Asian foods aisle, and picked up as many products as they could find that they didn’t already have. By the time they got to the checkout, they had accumulated over one hundred dollars worth of United Foods products, and the checkout operator stared at them stupidly before asking, “Do you guys work for United Foods or something?””No.” David answered quickly.”Absolutely not!” Leann shouted at the same time.The checkout operator raised her hands quickly, “Okay, sorry. It’s just …” she waved her hand over the bags of sauces and meal bases, lost for words, “It’s just … well … that’s a lot of curry.” She finished helplessly.Leann leant in close to the frightened teenaged girl, lowered her voice, and hissed, “I like curry. Okay?””Okay, alright. No problem.” the girl hurriedly stammered. “Umm. Have a great night!” she added with false brightness.

Within an hour, Leann and David were at the kitchen table, surrounded by various United Foods prepackaged sauces, meal base powders, and curry pastes. Every single one of them bore one of David’s photographs. Most of them had been altered in some way – flipped, stretched, recoloured, cropped – but every single one of the photos was recognisable.
David had a portfolio out, the one that contained all the photographs from the blog. He was going through the photographs on the packages, critiquing each one, his artist’s eye picking out every subtle variation, every shadow that had been removed, every reflection that had been added.
Leann just sat and watched, dumbfounded.

24 October 2010
Well, tomorrow is the final day in court, with any luck. I know I’ve said that before, but this time it really should be. Our opponent – the complainant (and complain they do) – are attempting to argue their very final last-ditch argument to shut us down. We’ve spent the afternoon at the lawyer’s office, and we’re pretty sure it’s not going to fly for very long. Of course, it all comes down to who the magistrate is, though. Get one with half a brain, and we should be just fine.
On more practical matters, we finally found the time to put up another recipe or three. One is from the archives, but the other two are new. Please try them, and if you like them, why not order the photograph on a shirt or apron? Every one you buy now might be the last one we sell. And who wouldn’t want a limited edition LEanndAVID.com picture? We also have our donation box still operating, which is about the only thing feeding our ravaged legal team right now …

Leann had spent the morning at work, struggling to stay focused on the job, but constantly finding her mind wandering back to drafting the letter to United Foods. In her mind, it varied from coldly polite, to bitterly angry, to venomous, and back again.
Last night, David had spent hours analysing every last shadow, every single colour, but when he had finished, they had talked. It was as though he had spent the time sorting out the argument in his head while his mouth and eyes worked through the picture details. Leann was angry, and wanted to hire a solicitor and sue the lot of them. David was, as always, more level headed. He suggested writing a letter pointing out that United Foods had made use of copyrighted material, and see what they said.”They didn’t do this by accident, David” Leann pointed out archly.”You don’t know that. It could have been some work experience kid. Or someone who really didn’t know any better. It’s not hard to right click on a picture and save it. And the photos we have on the blog aren’t watermarked or anything.” David explained.”Yeah, well, they’ll be watermarked tomorrow, I can tell you. I have no intention of leaving them unmarked for someone else to steal.””I bet if we write a letter to them, they’ll realise they’ve made a mistake, they’ll send us an apology, and it will all be sorted in no time.”Leann grunted angrily. She wasn’t so sure about that.

United Foods3 Industrial WayGreatpark NSW
To Whom it May Concern.
I couldn’t help but notice that your entire product line has recently undergone a brand image update. As part of this redesign, your marketing department have chosen a series of photographic images to illustrate each product.
The images chosen all appear to have been taken from the picture recipe web site LEanndAVID.com. We are the owners of that website, and David Forrest is the photographer and copyright holder of all images contained on that site.
We assume you were unaware that the original artists had not granted permission for the use of these images you LYING PACK OF ARSE HOLES.

Leann swore aloud at the computer, erased the last sentence, and took a deep breath. She stared at the words she had typed, empty and ineffectual in their saccharine sweetness. Frustrated and angry, she got up from the computer desk, and paced around the room. Another deep breath, and she convinced herself to sit back down and complete the damned letter.

We assume you were unaware that the original artist has not granted permission for the use of these images, and would like to request that the images be immediately removed from all packaging.
If you wish to discuss this further, please contact us.
We trust this settles the matter,
[signed]Leann Roberts   David Forrest

It was past two o’clock in the morning when Leann finally got to bed that night, but by then all the photos available on the website had a large watermark image splashed across them, and the name of the website in large letters. They had been naive. She wasn’t going to let it happen again.

Wendy marched into Brendan’s office, waving a single sheet of plain white paper, a short letter printed on one side.She dispensed with the formalities, and instead stated “They’ve written to us, Brendan”.He looked up from where he was going through large colour prints of the redesigned product images from Creative. “Who have written what to us?” he asked, frowning at the intrusion.”The owners of the photographs, Brendan.” She lowered her half moon glasses on to her nose, and read from the letter dramatically, “They assume that we are unaware that the original artist has not granted permission for the use of the images”.Brendan leaned back in his chair and chuckled softly, “Unaware, huh? Yep. Definitely unaware. Tell you what, write them a letter back, stating that we created the images ourselves in our own marketing department. I’ll send a message down to Creative that the images all need to be manipulated in some way to differentiate them, we’ll just flip them around, crop them out, maybe change the background colour or something. Then we can argue that they’re not the same images at all. We obtained copyright on the new images as soon as we altered them.”Wendy stood, looking slightly shocked at Brendan’s audacity. She raised a perfectly plucked and re-coloured eyebrow at him in protest.”It’ll be fine Wendy. In the meantime, let’s cover our arses and get half a million dollars approved through finance in case we need to flash some cash at them.”Wendy continued to stare.”It’s still cheaper than a photographer of that man’s standard.” he pointed out.Wendy sighed, and turned on her heel. “You’re playing with fire.” she said softly as she walked out.Brendan pretended that he hadn’t heard her, and turned back to his proofs, tapping the top of his pen against his teeth as he looked over them.

Sweat poured from Leann’s body as she neared the end of her weights training session at the gym. She was lying down on the weight bench, straining to hold the weights upright without locking her elbows. Her face was red, and a grunt escaped her as she gradually lowered the weights, completely controlled, and dropped them back into position. Her arms dropped, feeling simultaneously like rubber bands and lead weights. She lay there for a moment, catching her breath, and then slid out from under the bar and sat up on the end of the bench. There was a double row of treadmills and stepping machines in front of her, and she watched an odd assortment of scantily clad bottoms jiggling to their own individual rhythms as the after work exercise fanatics walked to nowhere in their pursuit of fitness. Her eye was drawn to the bank of television sets descending from the ceiling as a commercial break came on all twelve monitors at the same time. A smiling plastic woman was cooking improbably coloured food in a wok, her smiling plastic son at her elbow. Her smiling plastic husband walked in to the clinically designed kitchen dressed in an impeccably neat suit, and gave her kiss on her plastic cheek. He stole some improbable food from the wok, and she smiled sweetly at him, instead of slapping his fingers with the hot spatula, as Leann would have done if David had tried that. The image dissolved into a product shot, and Leann gaped as the now familiar United Foods all in one stir fry sauce bottle appeared on the screen, adorned with one of David’s photographs. It was the one that went with her Thai red curry beef recipe. She lay back down and gave the weights another ten quick repetitions, fuelled by anger alone, and then got up and went to the showers.
In the changing room, with the shower on as hot as it would go, steam rising from her wet body, and her skin turning bright pink, she decided it was time to take further action. They had sent the letter a week ago. She would not wait any longer.

After two hours of drafting and redrafting, Leann finally sat back from the computer screen and read over the blog post she had created. It was good, she decided. Caustic, yes, but definitely good. She felt better. She wondered if anyone from United Foods would read it. She decided that they would – eventually. Someone would know someone who would tell someone who mattered. It wasn’t going to be long before the blog post was read at the highest levels of management within the company. And then heads would start to roll. Or so she hoped.
It wasn’t fair to expect that just because United Foods was a huge national company with billions of dollars worth of revenue that they could just go and take whatever the hell pictures of the internet that they wanted. They had the kind of advertising budgets that would allow them to hire their own photographers, their own chefs, their own product placement experts, their own food presentation artistes. They didn’t deserve to steal work that they relied on to keep a roof over their heads. They didn’t deserve to have people like them do the hard work for them.
They didn’t have any right to steal their work – their labour of love. And Leann would do whatever it took to make sure that they didn’t do it again. To them, or to anyone else.

David was washing up in the kitchen, cleaning the remains of the chicken parmigiana off the plates. He was chatting to Leann over the back of the couch as she lounged with a glass of wine, her feet up on one end. They both laughed as he described a photo shoot that he had done that day for a magazine, trying to make kids party food look appealing. Not to mention the kids eating the party food.
Before long, the conversation came around to United Foods, as it so often did at the moment. No letter had been received, no apology offered. Certainly no retraction. David felt disheartened, Leann just felt angry. She mentioned that she had put a rant about it on the website, and related its contents for him. David laughed, “You’re evil”, he pointed out.”Oh, I don’t know,” she replied airily, “It might be just what they need to get some action happening. God knows it certainly wasn’t happening before.””True.” David agreed, “I’m not sure it’s going to get us a positive result, though. It might just piss them off.”Leann suddenly turned serious, pushing herself up on to her elbows and using her wine glass to emphasis her point, “You know what? I hope it does. I hope it pisses them off. And not just the marketing department. I hope it pisses them all off, right up to the CEO. I hope it pisses them all off so royally that they actually think about what they have done, and realise that just because we’re plebeians doesn’t mean they can walk over us. We need to fight back, David. If we don’t fight back, what happens to the next person that they try to do this to? What happens when they steal someone else’s work and they don’t have the guts to fight back? What about when they steal someone else’s work and they don’t even notice? We have to fight. We owe to all the people they’ve already done this to … and to stop them from doing it to anyone else.”David nodded morosely. He wouldn’t have gone the same way about it, but he couldn’t argue with Leann’s reasoning. He sloshed plates around morosely in the soapy water for a few minutes more, and then decided to join Leann in a glass of wine on the couch instead.

David had more or less given up hope that they would ever hear anything from United Foods, let alone get any kind of retraction or compensation for the work. He was far from happy about it, but in his usual way had decided to just try and make the best of the situation. He didn’t care – or thought he didn’t care – enough to try and fight the copyright argument in the courts. He didn’t understand the law of copyrights enough to feel confident that he had done everything right, and United Foods everything wrong. He wondered if it wasn’t just better to let people know that they were his photographs anyway. Take the credit for them, without being officially notified. In a lot of ways, the use of his images was very flattering. It was testament to his ability, to his creativity, to his vision, that a company like United Foods wanted to use his work on not just one prouct, but their entire product line. Not enough to pay for it, unfortunately, he thought ruefully to himself, but then pushed that thought away again. He would focus on the positives. He decided to add the images to his portfolio, and if people thought that United Foods had paid him to do their product placement ads, then who was he to disabuse them of the notion?
All this was in his head as David drove home, a McDonald’s bag between his knees, and his steering wheel greasy from the fat on his hands. Leann was an amazing cook, and made the most incredible and tasty meals, and knew there would be another waiting for him when he got home tonight, even though he couldn’t remember what it was she was planning right now. But every so often he just wanted something tasty, salty, greasy, and completely devoid of any and all nutritional benefit. The once a week or so drive through indulgences were his secret, and would remain that way.
He pulled into the driveway behind Lean’s pale blue hatchback, and rummaged around in the glove box for a mint, fishing the last of the sticky bread from his teeth with his tongue. He balled up the rubbish, and threw it into the wheelie bin as he walked past, crunching the mint and swallowing it down. He noticed the mail hanging out of the letterbox, and grabbed it out. He was still fishing through the pile as he walked into the house.”Wow, dinner smells fantastic.” he called as came into the kitchen.Leann looked up from where she was stirring something in a saucepan, her face flushed and a stray strand of blonde hair snaking over her cheek and the side of her mouth. She smiled. “It’s just onion an bacon at the moment. Nothing to get excited over”.David pushed the strand of hair aside, and then kissed her softly, before looking back down at the pile of mail in his hand. As he flipped through the envelopes, his mouth made a little moue of surprise. He pulled the envelope out of the pile and held it up for Leann to see.Her eyebrows shot up as she noticed the distinctive logo of United Foods, the little globe bouncing happily beneath the words, as she had seen so many times before.Leann dropped the spatula back into the frying pan and grabbed the envelope out of his hand. She tore it open in a swift motion , and extracted a single piece of paper from it.”What does it say?” David asked urgently, trying to see what was written on the paper. She moved out of the way, and so he could only watch as her face fell slowly, and then hardened into an angry scowl. He almost didn’t need to hear the words as she read them aloud:

Dear Ms Roberts and Mr Forrest,
Thank you for your correspondence. We understand your consternation, but wish to point out that the photographs used in our recent “Fresh Face of United Foods” product redesign campaign were all produced in our very own United Foods marketing and public relations departments.
We apologise for any confusion.
Yours sincerely.
[signed]Brendan MalcolmUnited Foods Product Manager

“Apologise for any confusion?!” Leann muttered, not quite under her breath.David just looked morose.”They APOLOGISE?! For any CONFUSION?!” Leann said again, more emphatically this time.David repeated “confusion” softly, breathlessly, and shook his head sadly. He looked like an old, sad dog, muttering and shaking his head, his whole face lax and depressed.Leann was just getting started, though, “They APOLOGISE for any fucking confusion!” she yelled, finally, “Like there’s any confusion at all! No, mister Brendan I have a first name for a last name Malcolm United Foods product Manager, the only CONFUSION here seems to be in your own head. Unfortunately, you seem to have confused US for people who are going to get taken in with your bullshit!” She looked up from the letter, and stared into David’s miserable face, pointing with the corner of the letter in her hand, jabbing at him to make her point, “And you know what? I’m not going to take it. I will NOT stand here while some fucking bureaucrat steals your work! You deserve better, Dave, and I’m not going to let them take this off you.”David looked up, his eyes flashed with the barest reflection of Leann’s anger, and he turned to the stove. “You’re burning the onions” he said very softly, and picked up the spatula to stir them. They were black, and probably beyond rescue.”I don’t care about the fucking onions!” Leann yelled, “I don’t care about them, I care about you. About your work. And I care about what United Foods and Mister Brendan fucking Malcolm are doing to us.”The fire alarm in the dining room suddenly broke into shrieks, masking the sound of Leann’s sobs, as she broke down into tears. Tears of anger, tears of frustration, but most of all, tears of impotence.

David felt the grease from his earlier take away settle in the pit of his stomach, congealed there like a great glob of fat that had been scraped out of a deep fryer after too many batches of chips.  It didn’t matter that dinner had started out as a gourmet quality pasta and sauce, with sprigs of fresh basil and free range grilled chicken, and ended up as toast. He wasn’t able to eat any of it. He felt ill. United Foods knew they had stolen the images, and did not care a jot about it. They knew – or at least thought they knew – that he was too small, too unwilling, or too unable to fight back. And they were right, how could they fight a multi-billion dollar national company? He wouldn’t mind so much if they had just apologised, and then gone on their merry way, he realised. It wasn’t abuot money, it was about recognition of his art, his creations. But a company like that was about as willing to make a confession of guilt as they were to murder a few kittens on national television. They would deny knowledge until the moment that a court proved they had done it, and then continue to deny it even while they were found guilty of copyright infringement. Companies like that had money to burn on corporate lawyers, the best barristers, and a small army of paralegals, all willing to toe the party line, and do what it took to keep the story out of the press, out of the public eye, and miles away from tarnishing their shiny public image. And they didn’t care who they had to crush in order to do it. Especially if that person was some two bit small town photographer with a passion and a conscience. It had taken a while, but the very beginning glimmer of anger was starting to rise in the pit of David’s stomach, and United Foods were doing nothing but fanning it.

If David had a glimmer of anger growing within him, Leann had a raging bush fire. She was completely consumed by the force of her ire. She stomped around the house yelling for a while before throwing herself into her desk chair in frustration. She started typing, not even paying attention to what she was writing at first, just letting the words flow out unfettered. Before long though, she started to come back to herself, and read what she was writing. It started to form into cohesive sentences, logical thought progression, and whole ideas, instead of a meaningless angry rant. The more she wrote, the more she realised that people needed to understand what United Foods were doing. It wasn’t just about stopping injustice against small artists now, but about telling the world what this evil corporation were doing. You didn’t need to be an artist to appreciate that what United foods were doing was wrong, immoral, unfair and just plain mean. Before she’d even thought it through properly, the word ‘boycott’ had slipped from her digital pen, and an idea solidified in her mind.
Within the hour, the “Boycott United Foods” website was up and running, and news of it had been sent out to every single person she had ever had any online contact with. Word began to spread.

20 October 2010
We received the discovery documents from the other side today. They arrived with mere hours to spare. We almost thought we were going to have to get a new court date thanks to them stuffing us around yet again. Their expensive legal team doesn’t seem to have done anything too much to earn their presumably extraordinary hourly rate. There’s nothing new in the documents that we didn’t already know, so that’s something of a relief. We’re keeping our defence very close to our chest , of course, but we’re at the eleventh hour now, and everything is still looking good for us. Send good luck vibes our way. Oh, and money. We need that too. There’s a PayPal donation box in the sidebar. Please help!

The ringing cut into Brendan’s confused dreams, and he lay in bed confused for a heart beat before working out what the incessant bells meant. He reached out a hand, discovered the cordless phone wasn’t on his bedside table where it belonged, and decided it wasn’t worth getting out of bed for. The red illuminated numbers on the clock read 5:42. He had managed only four hours sleep. He lay motionless in bed, his eyes open – awake now – and listened as the answering machine in the kitchen kicked into gear.”Hello, you have called Brendan Malcolm! I’m not about right now, but I’m probably not too far away. Please leave a message and I will call you back just as soon as I can! Cheerio!” his own voice sounded chirpy and surreal in the darkness, it’s digitized enunciation a parody.”Oh .. ah … Hi Brendan, it’s Wendy. I think you need to get in to the office. We’ve got a problem. It’s … uh … not quite six. I know it’s early, but … well, this is important. If I haven’t heard from you within the next few minutes, I’ll try again soon.” There was a slight hesitation, and then the machine registered a clatter, and the phone line went dead. The answering machine resolved into a series of beeps, piercing Brendan’s sleep addled brain, and ensuring he was completely awake.Reluctantly, he rolled out of bed, and padded to the bathroom. He swore to himself for perhaps the millionth time that he was going to start working shorter hours. He knew even as he said it that he wouldn’t. A corporate career relied on puttting in the extra effort, he knew. Arriving at 6am and leaving at ten was expected if you wanted to be considered a valuable employee. Too climb the corporate ladder, you needeed to earn your position. You did that by forfeiting sleep, he thought to himself.

David started sneezing. The spices were starting to get up his nose. He tried to hold it in, worried that he would disturb the product for the photographs. He was doing product photography for a local spice blend company, and was hoping that he could score a few samples for Leann. She loved seeing how different people blended things in new and interesting ways. He had begun drooling right at the moment that he had stepped into the small professional kitchen this morning, but the rich smells were starting to grate on him a little now. He was craving fresh air. Vintu and Alistair, the owners, were cooking something new for him to photograph now, though, so he wasn’t going to be out for at least another hour he realised. It took a lot of time to cook, plate, present, and photograph each individual dish. On the bright side, he at least got to eat the curries once they were finished with them, and even reheated they were still good. He finished snapping photographs of samosas just as Alistair brought a hot saucepan into the tiny dining room he was in, the chicken tikka masala still sizzling slightly. Grace bustled over fron where she had been sitting, found a plate amongst the hundreds in the cabinet, and set about plating the curry. David had worked with Grace many times before. She had a flair for food presentation that he had never seen in anyone else before. They got along with each other well, and together they had created prize winning displays with all different kinds of food, including one memorable experience with giant pumpkins at a rural show. The photograph had ended up being sold to a newspaper and, later, to one of the growers of the enormous vegetables. It now adorned his massive public dining room that had been converted from a sheep shearing shed, and now played host to all manner of concerts and events.Grace laughed suddenly, and David tuned back in to the conversation. Alistair was explaining how Vintu grew all the spices herself in the back yard, and was mimicking his wife gardening, throwing his hands up in the air dramatically exclaiming about weeds in a tremulous falsetto.
At that moment, Vintu herself walked in and Alistair and Grace giggled behind their hands like naughty school children. Vintu mock scolded them in an accent so crisp you could feel each syllable, and laughed primly to herself, enjoying her own joke, “You be careful, Alistair, or you will end up without any spices to cook with at all.”He laughed, and retorted, “So then what will you have for dinner? I will have to make you a United Foods curry, from a jar.”Vintu pretended to retch, hamming as though she were going to throw up, before laughing again, loudly. In the meantime, Grace had been rummaging around for some coriander to garnish the dish with. She poked it into the curry very carefully and then presented it to the couple with a flourish, “No United Foods curry has ever looked this good!” she said proudly.David harrumphed loudly, “Yeah, too right.” he said, “Even if the photographs do.”Grace frowned, and Vintu demanded that he explain.”They stole my photographs off our website, and used them on all their packaging.” he explained. “And then when we asked them to remove the photographs, they denied that they were even mine.” David’s face flushed pink as he heard the whining note creeping into his own voice. “Leann got so mad she started up a website, trying to convince people to boycott them.””Well, I’ll boycott them without any website telling me to!” Vintu declared.Grace looked miserable, “Gee, I’m really sorry to hear that, David. Your photography is stunning, you deserve to be recognised. I’ll definitely check out Leann’s site. Can I tell my friends?””Please do,” David said, touched, “the more people know about it, hopefully the better we can send a message to United Foods that we won’t just stand by and watch them do this.” With that, he drew his camera up to his face and started photographing the curry, to hide his blush.

Brendan wandered out of the elevator on the fourteenth floor, a larg paper coffee cup in one hand, his laptop bag slung over one shouldr, and stubble thick on his chin. He stopped by Wendy’s glassed-in cubicle and realised she wasn’t there. He headed over to his own office, intending to drop his laptop bag on his desk and wait for her to arrive. On the way he, ducked his head into the conference room in the middle of the floor, and saw Wendy with her laptop out at one of the white table cloth covered dining tables at the back of the room, near the windows. She had a laptop open in front her, the power cable snaking across the floor to a point in the wall. She was staring off into the distasnce through the window. Brendan noted that the sun was fully up now, and while the streets still were not crowded, it was only a matter of time before the morning Sydney commuter rush started. He knocked lightly on the door to get her attention, and Wendy jumped at the intrusion.”Oh! Brendan, hi! Thanks for coming in so early.””No problem at all,” Brendan lied, still thinking of his lost sleep. he felt as though he lived at the office some days, and just went hom to shower ocassionally. He moved into the room proper, placed his own laptop bag on the table next to Wendy’s, and noticed the lines around her eyes. She hadn’t gotten much sleep, either, he realised. She looked dishevelled all over, actually, he realised. He tried to remember what clothes she ahd been wearing the before and couldn’t, so he had no way of telling if she’d been home last night or not. “So, what’s bothering you?” he asked, and took another mouthful of coffee from the paper cup.”We’ve got problems.” Wendy said, staring directly at him, her eyes dull.”What? New ones?” he joked.”Yeah. Well, old ones blowing up, maybe.”Brendan waited for her to continue.”There’s a site just gone live called boycottunitedfoods.wordpress.com. I’ve been trying to trace the information, and I can’t prove it yet, but I have a pretty good hunch our boy wonder photographer is behind it.” She paused, eyeing his coffee cup jealously, and then continued, “But in all my digging I did find out something very interesting.”Brendan looked up from contemplating the tablecloth, and said, “Yeah?””Yeah. Photo boy has a girlfriend – her name is Leann Roberts. Want to know who she works for?” She didn’t wait for an answer before saying, “Infologic Systems.” with a flourish.”Who’s that?” Brendan asked, clueless.Wendy looked deflated, rolled her eyes, and explained “They’re the people who maintain United Foods’ website. Didn’t you know that?””No, I’d never thought about who did that.” Brendan paused, thinking. “Listen, I think I’ve got an idea about how to handle this, but I need more caffeine. Why don’t you come for a walk with me down to the kitchen, and we can work out the details.””Sounds good.” Wendy replied, and then stifled a yawn as she got up and started packing away her laptop, “It’s been a long night.”
By the time the sun was setting again, turning the fourteenth floor offices into a cacophony of red and purple streaks, an anonymous phone call had been made to the Legal department. The informant had told them that a woman named Leann Roberts had used her work connection to hack into the unitedfoods.com group of websites. Within an hour of the notification, the websites had been secured further than evr before, a company wide password reset had been set in place, and Infologic Systems had been informed of the breach, and that they were about to lose their most lucrative contract if something didn’t happen with the culprit within the next twenty four hours. They strongly recommended that she be given her marching orders.

Within a week of the site going live, boycottunitedfoods.wordpress.com had been blogged by most of the major food-related blogs, and many of the smaller ones. People had discussed it on Twitter for days, and it now had its own hash tag on the site to make it easier to follow the conversation. It was only three weeks old when the anonymous email address that Leann had used to set up the site started getting requests for interviews. She responded to them all in writing, and left the emails unsigned.

On Monday, Leann arrived at her desk late. It had been a long stress filled weekend, and when the alarm had gone off this morning, Leann had just about thrown it against the wall in her frustration and anger.  Eventually she had dragged herself through the shower, made a passing attempt at dressing, make up and hair, and despite pushing her hatchback as fast as it would go down the highway, missed her usual train by more than five minutes. She waited at the station, pacing the full length of the platform as the minutes ticked slowly past.
By the time she had completed the train journey and walked the few blocks to the office, she was in a foul mood. She walked into her cubicle, dumped her handbag on the floor under her desk, and pressed the power button on her desktop computer. It came humming to life as she collapsed into her office chair and grabbed her headset. She entered her login details and password on the computer terminal, and thumbed the telephone system into life as the welcome splash screen faded with the discordant jangle of its electronic fanfare.”Welcome to Infologic Development Systems, this is Leann. Can I please start with your customer number?” she prattled efficiently. The young harried sounding man on the other end of the phone was flustered for a second, as though caught off guard, and then read off a number. She tapped it into the customer management software program on her computer, and then listened as he broke into a babbling string of issues. She offered monosyllables to urge him to continue, and as he did her eyes settled on the cacophony of papers and stationery on her desk. Laying on top was a yellow post it  note, its black letters highlighted in green. The words stood out bold, almost yelling at her: “Come and see me in my office as soon as you get in. -Gary”. Her heart sank, and her stomach clenched. Was it  because she was late? Surely not, it was only 20 minutes. She completed the call as soon humanly possible, and switched her phone off again.
As she walked through the cube farm on her way to the boss’s glass-walled office, some people looked up and said hi with a wave or a nod, others simply ignored her – either on calls or absorbed in their own work. As each step brought her closer to the office, it seemed her confusion grew. She approached the office, and could see Gary leaning over his desk, writing, his face a study of concentration. It was a facade, though, she knew. She was within ten paces of the office door when he looked up, saw her, and smiled. She knew instantly that it was a very measured action, planned from the moment she had stepped into the corridor, and performed to perfection. He did it every time, she was well used to him sitting in his office and watching for people moving around the office, like a watchful lion, sitting in the field and surveying his domain.
He got out of his chair with perfect timing to meet her at the door. He opened it with a flourish, and turned his practised smile on his subordinate, “Leann!” he said with false affection, “How are you my dear? Sit down, sit down.” he gestured towards the visitors chair at his desk, as he settled into his own high-backed executive chair. Leann perched on the edge, putting her arms down straight at her sides, her hands grippi8ng the edge of the seat.    She noticed that her palms were sweaty, even though she had no reason to believe that he had called her into his office for anything problematic. Maybe he’s going to offer me a pay rise, she thought to herself, and nearly laughed aloud.”Running late this morning, Leann?” Gary asked, more a statement than a question, she noticed.”Ah, yeah. Just a little bit. I missed the train.” Leann stammered, “sorry”, she added as an after thought.”Never mind. Make sure you let me know if it’s going to be more than half an hour or so, though, please.””Yeah, of course. No trouble at all.” Leann waited to find out what the real reason for this meeting was.”Leann, I don’t know how much you understand about the other divisions in this company.”Leann looked puzzled, “Umm. A bit. I mean, I know we do software development, and also some web development. And then there’s marketing and finance and internal infrastructure, of course. And us, naturally, the help desk.””Customer Support Management Services” Gary corrected, almost absently.”Yeah, CSMS, I mean.” She paused, still waiting.”Okay, so you know we do website development then.” he paused, and for the first time ever, Leann sensed that he seemed uncertain. His charisma seemed to flicker for just a second, and she caught a glimpse of the man he really was, not just the corporate animal he showed to his employees. “One of our customers – one of our very large customers, I might add – one of our customers has got a problem.”Leann raised an eyebrow. What did any of this have to do with her?”It seems as though someone – someone outside, a member of the public – has got a bit of a vendetta against them. This person wants to see the company suffer, and is doing some things to make that happen.”Leann sat there, confused, and waited for Gary to get to the point.”Well, they seem to think that you might know something about it.””Huh?” Leann said stupidly. “What the hell would I know about anything like that?” she retorted, affronted.Gary held his hands up in supplication, the relief clear on his face, “Yeah, I know. It’s crazy. But I’ve had this memo about it, and I thought I’d better ask you about it. I told them I doubted you had anything to do with it, but I’ve got to be seen to be doing the right thing. Anyway, I trust you, Leann. And if you say you had nothing to do with it, then that’s good enough for me. If you do find anything out though, if you … I don’t know, hear something in the lunch room or whatever. Let me know, won’t you?””Yeah, for sure.” she said, still slightly puzzled. “Is that all?” she asked, half rising.”Oh yeah, sure. That was all. Thanks for clearing that up.” he gave a rehearsed smile as she stood up and moved towards the door. Leann had one hand on the door, and was about to step through when a thought struck her and she turned around, “Which company? Which website?” she asked.Gary looked up from where he had returned to his paperwork, looking slightly distracted, “Hmmm? Oh, it was unitedfoods.com.” he said absently, “But you didn’t hear that from me.” and then put his head back down.Leann paused for only a moment before forcing herself to regain her composure, and stalking back to her desk.

“They’ve found me out” she announced breathlessly as she walked into the house that evening.”Who have found what out?” David called from the bathroom.”United Foods” she responded as she took off her shoes and flung them into the bedroom on her way past. “They’ve worked out that the boycott site is me.” she continued.David came out of the bathroom, wrapping a towel around his waist. “How?” he asked. His hair was still wet, and he had a smattering of water droplets across his shoulder blades.”Dunno” she shrugged, “But Gary called me into his office today. Apparently United Foods have asked that the company track me down and quiz me about it.””What did you say?” David asked, running his hands roughly through his wet hair.”Not a lot. I didn’t realise what he was talking about until later on, he was being as vague as usual about the details. So I ended up acting suitably clueless.” she wrapped her arms around his damp shoulders. “Don’t bother getting dressed.” she said softly.David grinned, as he returned her hug, and kissed her on the nose, “Okay.” he agreed quickly. “You’re subversive and obnoxious and a pain in the butt. But you’re still amazingly sexy.””And I can cook” Leann reminded him, as her lips found his.”How about we worry about that part later on?” he replied, and led her to the bedroom.

Brendan marched into Wendy’s cubicle.”Have we got an email address for photo boy and his girl friend?””Yeah, I have three – one for the Boycott United Foods site, and one each for the pair from their recipe site.” She paused. “Why?””We haven’t got the approval on the payment yet, but hopefully Legal have them running scared already. The woman – what’s her name again? I can never remember it …””Leann?””Yeah, Leann, that’s her. Hopefully she’s been kicked out of her job already, or is at least close to it. They’ll be panicking by now, surely. Let’s ramp things up a little, and contact them. Tell them you’re ready to do a deal. Give them your direct number and wait for them to call though. Don’t discuss any details over temail, we don’t want things in writing.”Wendy nodded, a sly smile creeping on to her face. “You know something, Brendan? You are an evil man …”Brendan smiled and gave a slight bow as he stepped back out of the tiny room, “Why thank you, Wendy. I think that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”Wendy laughed as Brendan swept an imaginary cap off his head, and backed out of the office.

Clicking through email on the Boycott United Foods email address, Leann binned most of them without even reading them. A lot of spam, a lot of people with messages of support, a small number of insane trolling rants. She had made the mistake of reading a few of those, but had given up before too long. Poorly spelled, barely understandable language, and nut job arguments made them a waste of time. When you had hundreds of emails to get through daily, they weren’t worth the minor giggle value they provided. She was so busy deleting emails that she nearly sent the one marked “Action Required: Urgent Message from United Foods” as well. At the last minute, she opened it instead:

Leann and David,
We understand why you have started this movement. Please contact our office on 02 9238 1452 to discuss settlement of this matter.
Yours Sincerely,United Foods.

Leann laughed aloud. Yeah right, she thought. As though it was even a real United Foods representative sending that. She checked the email address it had been sent from: “noone@unitedfoods.com.au”. It did nothing to convince her – the United Foods domain was unitedfoods.com, without the .au suffix. She was a bit disturbed at the frank addressing of the email to “Leann and David”, but decided that someone had just put two and two together, and made a good guess. She wondered if United Foods had done that themselves, too. Were they that smart?
When she got to work the next morning, there was an email in her work email inbox from noone@unitedfoods.com.au as well. She felt a flutter in her stomach this time, despite convincing herself that it wasn’t anyone from within the company. She double clicked on the subject, opened the body of the email address:

We’re serious about the settlement. Please call.
Unless you don’t want this resolved?
Yours sincerely,United Foods

What a ridiculous concept. Of course she wanted it resolved. She wanted nothing more than to have it resolved. She didn’t think that this person was going to offer them that though, even if it was a genuine United Foods representative. And why would a large company write such cryptic emails anyway? It was very unprofessional.
Leann brought up the white pages in her browser, and tapped in United Foods. She located the phone number for the central head office in Sydney – 02 8138 1444 – and hesitated for just a second before calling the number from her mobile phone.”United Foods, how can I direct your call?””Oh hi, my name is Mandy Johnson, I’m afraid I’ve got a bit of a problem. You see, I met one of your employees at a conference about a week ago, and he gave me his extension number, but I’m afraid I … well, this is a little embarassing … but I’ve forgotten his name.””Oh, I see.” the receptionist responded frostily, “I don’t think I’m permitted to give out that information, I’m sorry.””Oh, sure, I see.” Leann said sadly, “Ummm. You see it’s …” she gave a girly giggle, trying to get the woman on side, “You see, he was just … oh, just stunning. I mean really gorgeous. I was hoping I could get in touch with him again so I could, ah … well …” she let the sentence hang, and was rewarded with the sound of soft laughter.The receptionist dropped her voice, as though she were afraid of being overheard, “Ohhh, I see. Well, I guess it wouldn’t hurt. What’s the number, honey?””It’s 8138 1452” Leann replied quickly, before the woman changed her mind.She could hear the sound of finger taps on a keyboard, then a pause, “The man’s name is Waterhouse …” she said, reading from the database, “First name … Wendy? Honey, what was that number again?”Leann hung up in a hurry. Her heart was racing. But she had a name – Wendy Waterhouse was noone@unitedfoods.com.au. She called up the Boycott United Foods web email account, hit the “Compose New Mail” button, and began typing.
The email complete, she hesitated for just a moment, her finger poised on the mouse button, the cursor resting on “Send Email”. Then, she took a deep breath, and clicked. She envisioned the email being converted to binary form, the ones and zeroes flashing across the copper lines of the telephone network, and reforming on Wendy Waterhouse’s computer screen. She wondered what Wendy’s face would look like when she saw her own name written there. The idea made her smile.
There was still no response in her inbox when she got home that night, and she felt almost disappointed. Leann got up early the next morning, and still nothing. She checked it obsessively all that day, and the next. Eventually, talking about it with David over a lamb tagine that night, they decided that either the email address was not genuine in the first place, and the phone number just happened to match a real United Foods employee by chance; or that Wendy really was serious, and was arranging things to be able to put an offer on the table. Leann couldn’t decide which of those options she preferred.

Wendy saw the email from mail@boycottunitedfoods.wordpress.com and her heart immediately began to race. She clicked on it, waited impatiently for the fraction of a second that it tok the mail program to fetch the full text from the server, and display it on her screen.

Hi Wendy,
Any settlement you want to do can be done over email. What are your terms?
Yours sincerely,boycottunitedfoods.com

Wendy took a deep breath, and picked up the phone, her finger poised over the speed dial button that would connect her to Brendan’s office, before realising that whoever had written the email – Leann she assummed – had referred to her by name. How the hell had she gotten her name?

David was checking his own email on his iPhone, in the car between photo shoots. He was eating an apple with one hand, and was trying not to get sticky juice on the gadget with the other when he stopped suddenly, startled. There in his inbox was an email from the now notorious “noone@unitedfoods.com.au”. He double clicked on it, and nearly choked on the piece of apple he was chewing on:

Hi David,
United Foods are ready to make you an offer. Please call on 02 9238 1452 to discuss settlement of this matter.
Yours sincerely,United Foods

“Do they think I’m an idiot?” he mumbled to himself, swallowing the fruit. He punched numbers on the touch screen of his phone, and waited impatiently for Leann to pick up her mobile.”Hi Gorgeous.” she answered brightly, “What’s up?””United Foods is what’s up! Wendy has sent me an email.””Oh?” Leann replied, curious, “She took her time. What’s it say?””The same thing she sent to you as far as I can tell. They want to settle, and gave me a phone number. Signed United Foods, but it came from the noone email address.””What’s the phone number?” Leann asked.”One sec”. David pulled the phone away from his ear, and flicked back to the email. He read the number aloud, and could hear Leann checking things on her own phone.Eventually, she came back on the line, “Yeah, that’s Wendy.” she confirmed. “What is this woman up to? Does she think we don’t talk to each other?””I don’t know. Maybe she thinks that if she can’t get you to call her, maybe I will. Sounds daft though. Everything we do on the website is a joint effort, so she’s got to know that we are working together.””Maybe she thinks I’m the mastermind behind it all, or something. Remember that I’m the one doing most of the boycott stuff. I wonder if they connect me to it more because of my job? The company developed their website, so maybe they think I have special knowledge or something?””Dunno” David grunted, and took another bite of his apple.”Anyway, I’ve got to get back to work. How’d the shoot go this morning?””Oh, good. ” he said non-noncommittally through a mouthful of fruit, “I’ve got to get going too, though. Just wanted to let you know about that.””Yeah, thanks. I guess we need to work out what our next move is going to be.””Yep. I’ll see you tonight.””Okay. Love you.””You too” David rang off, hastily munched the rest of his apple, and threw the core out of the window. He backed out of the carpark, and headed off to his next appointment, his brain still whirring.

“Brendan Malcolm, Marketing” he sang into the phone.”Malcolm. Franton here.” the finance man stated shortly.”Hello, Mister Franton, how are you?” Brendan asked politely.”I’ve got a request here for a one-off payment of five hundred thousand dollars to one David Forrest.””Yes?””Did you authorise this?””Yes. I did.” Brendan acknowledged.”Well, it’s been denied.”Brendan squeezed his eyes shut. Shit, he thought. He took a deep breath in an attempt to keep his voice even. “Okay. Thank you Mister Franton. I appreciate you letting me know.””Welcome.” Franton statedThe phone went dead in Brendan’s hand. Brendan put his hands up to his forehead, and laid his head down on the desk. The cool wood did nothing to ease the headache that had sprung up suddenly behind his eyes. “Shit.” he said again, this time out loud.

That night, still picking pieces of steak and prawns from between their teeth, David and Leann hunched over the computer. Signed in to the Boycott United Foods email address, they composed a new message.

Hi Wendy,
We will not call you. If you are – as you say – ready to cut a deal, then go ahead and tell us your terms so we can consider them.
In the meantime, we offer some terms of our own: Take the infringing photographs off all stock within 14 days and issue a public apology to LEanndAVID.com. In return, the Boycott United Foods site will go dark, and we will leave you alone.
If you don’t want to agree to our terms, either offer some of your own, or sit back and watch as we ramp up the campaign to hurt your company in as many ways as we can. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, people will see your products on the shelf and think “that’s the company that steals people’s intellectual property”.
Yours sincerely.Boycott United Foods

“I don’t know …” David said.”I like it.” Leann stated happily, “It’s lovely. It’s demanding and caustic. It’ll put the wind up her.””I think it’s too harsh. I think it’s just going to piss her off, dig her heels in more.””Did you really think she was about to offer us a million dollars for the photos?” Leann asked, incredulously.”We-elll … maybe. I mean, she might have …” David stammered.Leann gave a barking laugh, “Yeah, right. They’ve got no intention of that, and never had. I say we go after them. We can’t let them get away with this David. Put it this way, if someone took a bunch of my recipes and published them in their own bstselling recipe book, you’d go out there and scream blue bloody murder wouldn’t you?””We-elll …” David repeated.”Wouldn’t you?” Leann insisted.”Yeah, I guess so. But only because they’re yours. I mean, it’s my job to look after you …”Leann silenced him with a furious glance, “Yeah, and what do you think I’m doing? It’s not actually your job to look after me, but you do anyway. And I look after you. And that’s what I’m doing. It’s about protecting you, your art. I won’t let them steal this from you. Your photography is good enough to be on products like that, David, but they should be there with your name on them, with good money in your pocket for you. Just because they’re a big company doesn’t mean they have the right to stel it off you.” Leann stopped, breathing heavily, her face flushed.David sighed, “I can see your point, honestly I can. I just don’t know if it’s worth it. This is a big can of worms, they’re a big company with lots of money. We can’t afford to fight this – we don’t have the time and we don’t have the money.””No, but we have a lot of supporters. Let’s get them to help. Let’s find out if they’ll donate to the cause. There might even be a copyright lawyer out there … We have to fight, David. If we let them win, let them take your work without paying for it, how are we going to have the time and the money to keep going? And what about all the other struggling artists that don’t have fans to help them? What’s United Foods going to do to them?”David nodded again, “Okay, Okay. I get the point. But don’t send the email tonight while you’re all fired up. Let it rest for a little while. Overnight. Okay?”Leann nodded, “Okay. I can do that. I don’t think I’m likely to change my mind, though, to be honest.””That’s alright. Just let’s sleep on it first.”
In the morning Leann got up and pressed send on the email. That afternoon, her world exploded.

“This is insane.” Brendan muttered into his sandwich.”They’re not going to go away, Brendan.” Wendy pointed out. The sound of him chewing was grating on her nerves, and all she wanted to do was to get out of the office as fast as she could, and go and eat her own lunch somewhere. In the stationery storage cupboard, maybe, she thought ruefully, where there’s no computers to deal with, and no emails, and no sandwich chewing managers to listen to.”No, you’re right.” he said thoughtfully, before taking another bite of his lunch.”We are going to have to drop it. We don’t have the money to buy them out, let’s just pull the images from the packaging now, cut the production run short, and get something else on there quickly. The fuss will die down and hopefully it won’t hurt us too much.”Brendan was thinking. He swallowed loudly, and then said thoughtfully, “Or we could fight them.””I think the fighting has gone on long enough, now, don’t you? Seriously?””The fight has just begun Wendy. It’s just begun.”
His lunch finished, and his plan thought through, Brendan placed another call upstairs to the United Foods’ legal division. The department had been re-arranged in the past few days, and Leann Roberts now warranted her own case manager, in the form of Francis (“Just call me Frank”) Dupree. Brendan was transferred through to him after speaking to two secretaries and a personal assistant. Once he had gotten through, he discussed the case with Frank, and learned that Leann was still – for the moment at least – at her position with Infologic Systems.”For the moment, anyway.” Frank said, almost laughing, “That’s likely to change … ahh … tomorrow. Probably. Maybe Thursday.”Brendan paused slightly, uncomfortably, and then changed the subject, “Do you know about that Boycott United Foods web site?””Of course I do. Doesn’t everyone? We’re all in a spin about it up here let me tell you. Why? What do you know about it?””Well, you didn’t hear this from me, you understand …” Brendan hesitated.”No, of course not.” Frank was quick to respond, too quick maybe.”Well, the man behind it goes by the name of David Forrest.” Brendan said, almost in a whisper, although there was no one to overhear him, “That’s with two R’s.” he clarified.There was a pause on the other end of the phone, as the lawyer wrote down the name. “Is that all you know?””Isn’t that enough?” Brendan asked archly.”There is probably more than one David Forrest in the world you know. But that’s alright. We’ll find him.””Right. Good. Remember, you didn’t hear that from me.””Who are you?” Frank asked lightly, joking with him.Brendan did not find the joke amusing. He said good bye politely and hung up the phone. He had felt smart when he came up with this plan, but hearing the glee in the legal man’s voice over prosecuting this pair was just a little close to home. He checked the clock – it was only three o’clock, but he decided to log off and go home anyway. He needed some sleep.

4 October 2010
We went to court today to get the date set for the criminal hearing. Another wasted day, really, sitting around watching drunk drivers be fined and have their licences taken off them. But, we have a date – the 25th of October. Come one, come all! We would love to have your support in the court room on the day.

Leann was at home, working on a blog post, when she heard a solid knock on the door. She stood up, frowning at the distraction, and walked to the front door. She opened it, only to be confronted by a police officer in full uniform. He frowned at her.”I’m looking for a Mister David Andrew Forrest.” he stated, as though he expected Leann may be him.”Uh, he’s out.” she said shortly. The police officer raised an eyebrow in disbelief, and waited for her to elaborate. She didn’t.Eventually, he pulled a business card from inside the back cover of his notebook and handed it to her. She took the proffered card but didn’t look down at it. “My name is Senior Constable Frank Proud.” he stated eventually. “I would like to speak to Mister Forrest in relation to Section 474.17 of the Crimes Act, which is Using a Carrier Service to Harass, Menace or Offend. Dos he reside here?”Leann reeled, “Yea-ahh.” she said hesitantly.”Can you contact him Ma’am?””I can … get a message to him, yes.””Okay. Can you please ask him to contact me as soon as possible. The number is on the card.” He flipped open his notebook and produced a pen from nowhere, “Your name ma’am?”Leann stammered, her mind going blank, “Umm. Ahh, I’m Leann Roberts.””Date of birth?””Um … twenty ninth of February. Nineteen Seventy Six.”He raised an eyebrow, and Leann rolled her eyes, a conditioned response. “Yes really.” she stated drily.Proud scratched the figures in his notebook, and Leann watched him put a big question mark next her birth date.”Just get Mister Forrest to call me please, Ms Roberts.” he  said, snapping his book closed, and making it disappear. Leann nodded, but he had already turned and headed off back to his unmarked car, parked at the curb. Leann closed the door, and rested her head against the cool glass centre pane. She could feel her heart pounding, her pulse racing. She listened to the sounds of her body for just a moment before shaking herself, giving a quick laugh at her own reactions, and then heading back into the office to find the phone and call David.

David was just getting into the car after the second day of shooting at at the spice company. He unlocked the compact four wheel drive with the remote, and Grace ducked around to the passenger side to get in just as he heard the iPhone in his pocket start to jangle. He fished it out, and thumbed the touch screen to answer as he got in behind the wheel.”Hey Gorgeous.” he said happily, shifting the car into reverse and preparing to back out of the tiny carpark.”Hi.” Leann responded coldly, “I’ve just had the cops around here.”David shoved the car roughly back into park, and shoved his foot back on the brake. “You’ve had what?” he said incredulously. He could feel Grace’s stare boring into the side of his head, but couldn’t think about that right now.”The police. One Senior Constable Frank Proud.” she said, reading from the card. “He cited chapter and verse at me, but I can’t remember what it all was. Something about a carrier service to harass and menace or something?”David was speechless.”I can only assume it’s about the emails to United Foods.” Leann continued.”Yeah, but. Why me?””Don’t know.” Leann said, as perplexed as he was. “I really don’t know. I can’t work it out either. Anyway, I have his number here, you’ll need to call him. Have you got a pen?””No, I’m in the car.” he said, shifting the car back into reverse.”I could text it to you?””No, that’s okay. I’m just going to drop Grace back to her place, then I’ll be home. Twenty minutes, tops.””Alright. See you soon then. Don’t speed.”David laughed softly, “Yeah, or I’ll have Officer Proud after me.” he said humourlessly.”God forbid.” Leann retorted, and hung up the phone.
David looked at Grace, her face full of questions that she didn’t quite know how to ask. David gave her a brief smile, and leaned over the centre console to give her a kiss. “Guess I won’t be staying this afternoon.” he said softly.She smiled sadly, “Life intrudes yet again.” she said dryly.

Leann was watching the clock, and when the door opened and closed, letting in a breath of air thick with the promise of rain, and David walked in, she didn’t look up immediately, just stating “that was twenty eight and a half minutes”. She reached for the police officer’s business card on her desk, and held it up for him, her eyes still locked on the blog post she was working on.
David dropped his equipment at the door to the office, and grabbed the card from between her fingers. He studied it, then reached for the telephone. She followed the movement of his hand with her eyes, eventually raising her face to look at him for the first time. Her eyes flashed and he looked back at her, the number only half dialled. “What’s up, darling?” he asked, confused.”What’s up?” she asked archly, “What do you think is up, David?”David had no answer. It was him who was busy making the telephone call to the police, not her, he thought to himself. His own heart had been hammering like a piece of industrial machinery ever since she had called him. He put the phone back down on the desk, looked Leann in the eye, “I … I don’t know. Was it the copper? Did he say something to you?””It’s not that he said something, David. It’s that he was here. Is there something going on that I don’t know about?”David’s mind slipped involuntarily to Grace, the kiss he had given her in the car less than half an hour ago, and his heart beat increased to a point that he thought his chest would burst with the force of it. Then he realised that she couldn’t possibly be referring to that little indiscretion. “What … what do you mean? Leann? Like what? What could be going on that you don’t know about?” He wondered briefly if he had overdone the hurt reaction, but then decided she was thinking along completely different lines. She knew nothing about Grace.”I don’t know, David. But what we’ve done isn’t illegal. It isn’t harassment or menace or any of that stuff. So why are the cops here? And why did they want you?”David looked helpless, “I don’t know, Baby. I really don’t. But how about you let me call them, and find out? Maybe they can tell us something that will help us to work out what’s going on.” He lifted the phone again, and made a move to start dialling the number again. All eight digits were in and the handset was against his head, the sounds of the phone call being patched through loud in one ear, when Leann said softly, “Okay, but when that phone call is done, you need to pack your stuff and leave.”David ended the call for the second time, “I’m … you’re … huh?” he stammered, shocked.”Yeah, I mean it.” she said softly, cruelly. “I’ve already put a bunch of your clothes in a suitcase. Make that phone call, and then you’re walking out of the door.””But I … I mean … I don’t … What is this? What’s going on?”Leann stood, put her hands on her hips, and stood to face him, lifting her chin at him to make her point clear, “I don’t know, David. But something is. And until you tell me what it is, then you’re not welcome in my house.””Your … I … Right. Okay. I have no idea what’s going on here. I’m not hiding anything from you, I have no more idea what this is about than you do, Leann.”She looked incredulous. She was not in a mood to be able to make amends. David felt that he was only digging his hole – this mysterious, unexplained hole – ever deeper with each word he spoke. He stood still for a moment, trying not to argue any further. His brain started to shut down, doing the mental version of running away from the argument, and he simply stood blankly for a moment. Leann gave an annoyed sigh, threw her arms up in frustration, and dropped heavily back into her office chair. She swivelled away from him, mumbling cruelly under her breath “yeah, and that’s an attractive look, dopey”.David shook himself, tried with a limited amount of success to get his brain functioning again, and once more lifted the phone. He stared at it blankly for a moment, as though he couldn’t quite remember how to work it, and then tapped in the number for the police officer for a third time. He lifted the receiver to his ear, listened as the phone on Proud’s desk rang once, twice … five times. After the eighth ring, when David was just about to hang up, the phone was answered by a series of clicks and whirrs, and an electronic voice informed him that Detective Senior Constable Frank Proud was not available, and that he would need to leave a message. He stammered slightly, his nervousness showing in his voice, as he left his name, and his mobile phone number, then hung up slowly. He stared at the back of Leann’s chair, but she didn’t turn around. “Darling … ?” he started tentatively.”Get out.” she said without turning, “And if you decide to start telling me what’s going on, you know how to find me.”David, deciding that there was no way he was going to be able to get her to see sense at the moment, grabbed his photographic gear, and went to the bedroom to find a hastily stuffed suitcase on the bed. He didn’t bother checking the contents, just zipped it shut, and hauled the lot out to his car. What on earth had just happened, he asked himself as he turned the key in the ignition. He sat in the drivers seat for a moment, fighting back tears of anger, tears of frustration, and then finally backed back out of the driveway, and drove. Just drove.

Leann sat silent and brooding, not allowing herself to think any thoughts at all, until after she heard the door open and close; the car start in the driveway.  She waited, holding her breath, for the sounds of tyres on the gravel drive, and when it eventually came, she let it out in a rush. Why was he lying to her? What had he done that he felt he couldn’t tell her about it? He was maintaining this absurd idea that he wasn’t holding back anything, but the police didn’t come knocking on your door just because you wrote one strongly worded email, did they?
Did they?

The headlights cut through the darkness, highlighting damp streets and obscuring landmarks. The radio was up loud, the words passing through David and leaving onl a feeling, an emotion, underscored by a rhythmic beat, a hypnotic drum line, an overpowering feeling of the bass trembling in the pit of his stomach. A trembling that was not tears. No, it was not tears at all.
He was only mildly surprised when he turned into a driveway, stopped the car, and realised whose house he was parked in front of. He had been driving here along, without putting any conscious thought into it at all. He tried to continue not thinking about it as he got out of the car, and stepped through the puddles on the path to the front door. He knocked at the panelled wood, and was about to give up and get back in the car when he heard a soft voice on the other side, asking “Who is it?””It’s me, David.” he responded.The door was unlocked with a short symphony of metallic clicks, and the door inched open, Grace’s eye appearing through the gap, followed by her lithe body, clad in tracksuit pants and an old tee shirt, smattered with tiny holes.She frowned at him, the door still only partially open, her body completely blocking any entry to the house, “What’s up?” she asked brashly. David noticed sweat beading on her brow, and wondered idly what he had interrupted.”Um. I … It’s … Well, Leann kicked me out.” he stammered.Grace’s eyebrows shot up quickly, and then her face softened into that of sympathy, “Oh, Sweetie, I’m so sorry to hear that.” she cooed, the change in her tone almost a complete reversal. She opened the door completely, and stood back to let him in, “Can I make you a coffee?”David nodded as he kicked off his wet shoes inside the door, “Thanks. That would be lovely.”

Leann finally convinced herself to eat something. She put the toast in the toaster, and while it was cooking, she stared at her computer monitor from across the room. She could see the main page of the blog up, and though the words were too small to read, she knew what they said. More importantly, she could see the picture. It was the final picture for the steamed fish recipe, the one with the Thai style salsa. The piece of fish was folded over, barely concealing a colourful blend of tomato, spring onion, lemongrass, and coriander. It was all nestled on a bed of white rice, and though she couldn’t see it from here, she knew that if she looked closely, she would be able to see a drip of perfect yellow butter on the verge of dropping off the edge of the fish, and landing softly on the rice. The photo – David’s photo – was perfect. His photos brought her recipes to life in a way that they just didn’t do on their own. His photos made her recipes look better than even she imagined them, when she was planning how the spices would blend, the colours mix, and the flavours come together on the plate. The toast popped, and she heaved a sigh as she retrieved butter and Vegemite from the fridge.

David’s mobile phone rang on Grace’s kitchen table and David jumped, spilling the hot coffee on the table cloth. “Oh, sorry!” he yelped, jumping up out of his seat, and fumbling in the unfamiliar kitchen to find a cloth, some paper towel, anything.”Don’t worry about it” Grace mentioned, casually rising and finding a dish cloth. “Just answer your phone, will you? That ring tone is irritating.””Sorry.” David mumbled back, reaching for his phone, and jamming his finger into the touch screen to answer the call before it went to voice mail.”Huh … hello?” he said, too loud.Grace wiped the table, listening intently, but trying not to show it.”Mister Forrest?” came a business-like voice on the other end. David was confused for only a second before realising that it would the police officer that he had called earlier. He had been so wrapped up in the argument that he and Leann and just had that he had almost forgotten about the message he had left.”Uh, yeah. That’s me.” he said, finally.”Mister Forrest, I’d like to have a word to you about the email you sent recently to an employee at United Foods.””Um, okay.” David said, disarmed. He still was having trouble believing that the single email he had sent could constitute anything that the police would be investigating, “Was there … is there some problem?””Yes, Sir. Those emails constitute an offence under Section 474.17 of the Crimes Act. The title of that offence is “Using a Carrier Service to Harass, Menace or Offend”. Do you have anything to say in relation to that, Mister Forrest?”David paused, gathering his thoughts. The charge certainly seemed serious, and he guessed he could work out how the police could construe the intention of their last email to be offensive. He had never realised that offending someone was illegal before, though.”I don’t, ah … I don’t really know what to say about this. I don’t really know what was so bad about the email. Or why you’re calling me for that matter. Have United Foods made a complain against me or something?””United Foods Proprietery Limited have asked the police to investigate a series of emails that they have been receiving. Those emails have been traced to you Mister Forrest. Now, I would recommend that you cease emailing the company in question, and issue a public apology to United Foods Proprietary Limited as soon as practicable.””Well, okay. I guess. Yeah, I can do that.” David fumbled the words out, thinking that it should be so easy to fix the other problem in his life. Say sorry, everything goes away.”Thank you very much, Mister Forrest. I will let the other party know and I’m glad that you understand the seriousness of this matter. What you have done so far is a crime, Mister Forrest, and if you do decide to continue this ‘campaign’ of yours, then you can be assured that I will not hesitate to press charges against you.””Ah, no. I understand.” he paused, not able to find the appropriate words, before saying “Thank you” in an obligatory fashion, just to allow him to end the call.”Good bye Mister Forrest”  Proud stated, and the phone line went dead in David’s hand.David dropped the phone, and put his forehead down on the tablecloth, only for it to get damp with spilled coffee and washing up water. Reluctantly, he lifted it again, and wiped it clean with his hand. Grace giggled nervously.”Everything okay?” she asked softly.”No.” David responded bluntly. “No, everything’s not okay. Everything is turning to shit. How did this happen Grace? What do I do?”Grace shrugged disengenuously. “Go to bed?” she asked, coquettishly.David gave a dry harrumph that was somewhere in between a humourless laugh and a sob, “Yeah, alright.” he said eventually, “What the hell else is there to do?”

13 September 2010
Well, it looks as though we have had the AVO over turned in the civil court. Yay! So that means that transmission can return to normal. You will now be treated to a bulk publish of all the the recipes I have written up but not been able to publish over the past two months. There’s probably not as many as you would expect, given the amount of of time, but we haven’t exactly been sitting around and twiddling our thumbs with nothing to do. It turns uot that building a defence against an extremely litigious corporation and a bunch of clueless cops is not as easy as it seems. And isn’t it wonderful to be able to write that without far of another knock on the door!
Anyway, here’s fifteen new recipes for you. I won’t go into detail about them all, but leaave them as a complete surprise for you to dig through at your leisure. Please keep the comments and photos rolling in. we love nothing more than seeing how you recreate these dishes in your kitchen!
The shop is also open again, and I’m hoping to ship all back orders today. I know I’ve said this before, but apologies again to those people who placed an order just before we had to suspend operations, and missed out on having their stuff shipped. You are all top of my list, and you will get something a little extra in each of your parcels. Thanks for all your patience!
You might also notice that the PayPal donation box is in the corner too. We really do appreciate any contributions you can make, this whole fight has become a whole lot more expensive and stressful than we ever realised it would, and your donations are a saving grace!

David’s eyes popped open, and just like that, he was awake. There was no light showing through the gap between the curtains. It was early. He lay in Grace’s bed, staring at the ceiling. She was curled on her side, facing away from him, her breathing even, deep, and nearly silent. He had never stayed after they had sex before. They had slept together only four times previously, but each time he had gotten up, showered quickly, and left. This felt too much like a real relationship. Its reality made it seem weightier, somehow, and he found his thoughts drifting to Leann. Would she have sought solace in another man’s arms? He didn’t think she would have. He imagined her lying in bed – their bed – sleeping lightly, tossing and turning, unable to sleep properly. Something like what he was doing, here, in another woman’s bed. Frustrated, and knowing that sleep was a long way away, he slipped out from under the cotton sheet that covered them, found his clothes scattered on the bedroom floor. He dressed quickly, and left the house without waking Grace.
The door snickered closed behind him, as though reminstrating him for what he was doing to its occupant. He wondered what Grace would think when she woke up. He didn’t think that she would take it too badly. She hadn’t ever expressed a desire for a real relationship with him. She had always kept her professional distance except for when they were alone, in bed. He pushed thoughts of Grace aside, stepping along the concrete path with care in the complete darkness peculiar to those early hours of the morning. The witching hours.
He pressed the remote control, and winced at the volume of the beeps the car made as it disengaged the door locks. The hazard lights flashed, and provided just enough light to direct his final footsteps to the driver’s side door. As he slid into the driver’s seat, he pushed the key into the ignition, one hand at the volume knob on the stereo ready to turn it down. He remembered how loud he had had it turned up the night before.
The night before seemed like a month ago now, but he could deny the reality of the situation. Leann hated him, he was being investigated by the police for some reason he didn’t fully understand, he had just had sex with another woman who had just walked out on without saying goodbye, and he was also homeless. Just how much worse could things get?
He started the car, praying he wouldn’t wake Grace inside the house, and backed slowly out of the drive way, noticing every stone crunch under his tyres. Once on the road, he headed out to the highway. Somewhere he could drive fast, and just think. He adjusted the radio to a n early morning talk back program. He wanted to hear the other lonely people awake at 2 o’clock in the morning, bored and desperate enough to call up and attempt to have a discussion with some deejay doing the graveyard shift. He hoped that in some strange way, it might make him feel better about his own life.
He hit the accelerator, shifted the car into top gear, and pushed the speedometer up over a hundred and twenty. He wound the window down, to feel the reality of cold air on his face, and followed his headlights at a dangerous pace through the darkness and headlong into the unknown future.

When Grace woke up, she stretched, smiled, and rolled out of bed to go and go and have a shower. She was glad David was gone, he was bringing her mood down, despite the unexpected sex bout. Was she the only woman in the world who got partners come around to her house to moan about how badly their other relationship was going? No, she supposed she wasn’t, but certainly wasn’t something you would call up your friends about, was it?
She was washing her hair when the phone rang, and singing loudly along to the radio. She didn’t hear it the second time, either.

“And my next caller is Graham, from Parramatta. He has something he wants to say about relationships, don’t you Graham?””Yes, Bob, that’s right. Am I on air?””You’re on air, Graham, go right ahead.””Ah, well, you see I’ve just split up with my wife …””I’m sorry to hear that Graham.””Oh, ah. Thanks Bob. We were married for eighteen years, but things had been rocky for a while before we called it quits. But we tried to hold it together as long as we could, you know, for the kids and all.””Ahh, yes. I understand. That’s very a very common story.””Heh. Yeah, I guess it is, ain’t it? Anyway, things had been pretty bad for a while, and I … ahh … well, I was having a bit of a thing on the side for a while just to … well, heh, you know how it is.””Haha, yes I do, Graham. Yes, I do.””Heh-heh. So it was this one day I was driving from her house, back to my missus, and I had this thought. By ah … sleeping with another woman, I was disrespectin’ my wife, you know? Even if the missus didn’t know about it, I wasn’t giving her everything she deserved from her husband, you know?””So you’re saying, Graham, that even though your wife didn’t know about the affair, you were still doing her wrong?””That’s right, Bob. That’s exactly right. Well, I broke it off with the girl not long after that. Never did tell the wife, you know, but I felt like at least I could offer her everything I had to offer. Not much, heh, really, but better than sneakin’ around and all that. I think it helped us keep together a little longer. Gawd, I hate to think what she would have done if she’d found out, though … heh””Thanks very much for that insight, Graham. Did you have something final you wanted to say to all those listeners out there, particularly if they’re engaged in some … ah … extra-marital activities, shall we say?””Yes, Bob. I just want to say to you fellas out there … if you’re cheatin’ on your wife or girlfriend, you are doing her a disservice. Decide which woman you want to be with, and be with her.”Thanks very much Graham, enjoy the rest of your morning.””Thanks Bob, I will do that.”

Leann had finally fallen into a fitful, dream filled sleep in the early hours of the morning. When the first ray of light fell across her bare legs, the doona was rumpled in a corner of the bed, and she was sprawled messily across the mattress. Although she was finally asleep, her dreams gave her no relief from the turmoil she had been torturing herself with for most of the night.
When the phone rang, she initially tried to block it out of her consciousness. Trying desperately to hang onto the filament threads of her dreams as they nevertheless faded between her fingers, like strands of mist, reality filling the ribbons in between, as though preparing to crush her with their weight. She groaned, rolled over, and curled into a ball, trying to shut out the jarring noise.
Eventually, though, she gave into its incessant grabbing at her. She reluctantly stretched out an arm, found the handset on the bedside table, and with only a few false starts, dragged it back to her ear. “H’lo?” she grumbled.Her greeting was met only by silence.”Hello?” She said more forcefully, ire rising unbidden in her throat, “Who is it?”When still all she received in reply was the hiss of an open line, she moved the phone away from her ear again, to press the end button. Then, dimly, she heard a tinny “Leann … dont’ hang up” from the receiver.She brought it back to her ear, listening, wondering if she’d imagined that voice – his voice.”Are you still there?” he said, softly. It sounded like he had been crying, his voice wsa husky and the words blurred.”Yeah.” she replied.The silence grew again. “Are you still mad?” he said eventually.”No … yes. Oh, I don’t know. I just don’t know.” she felt the tears rise up in her throat again, and she quashed them angrily, “I guess I am. I don’t know what I’m angry at though.”The silence rushed into the space again. Leann tried not to let it bother her. This space where they used to have words to put in there. This space had never existed between them before, and she didn’t like it. It gave her something to focus her anger on, though. Something to make her feel like she had something solid to be angry at.”Can I … can we talk? Somewhere. I don’t care where. Wherever you want.””When?””Now?””Where are you?”The silence again. Now Leann noticed the other sounds in the silence … wheels moving over tarmac, maybe. The quiet purr of the engine, almost invisible. Eventually, David’s words cut over the top of the other sounds, “I’m not sure, exactly. Goulburn. I think. Around there.”Leann frowned, “What the hell are you doing there?” she asked, her voice rising.This time, the silence went on so long that she thought he had gone. “I’m sorry.” she said eventually, trying to keep her voice modulated. “But, honestly, why are you in Goulburn?” she asked again, calmer this time.”It’s on the highway. I was just driving. That’s how far I got.” He paused again, “I’m pulling over now, I’ll turn around, come back. Can I come and see you?”This time it was Leann’s turn to provide the massive silence. It was not broke by her answer, though, but by a squeal of tyres, a cacophony of honking horns, and the terrible sound of crushing metal. Dimly, she realised that she was screaming, and that her screams were echoed by David’s, coming through the telephone.

By the time she got in the car and had raced through suburban streets to the highway, Leann realised that what she was doing was probably foolhardy. Whatever had happened,  it was almost certain to be completely cleaned up and over and done with by the time she got there. She was at least three hours away, even with the advantages of going against the morning traffic coming in to Sydney. And even if she did get out there, she had no way of knowing where exactly it had happened, since David had been less than specific with details. She hesitated at the onramp, earning herself an angry horn blow from the car behind her, wondering what else she could do. Eventually, with no other option, she entered the highway, drove under the toll gates, and sped down to the next exit to come off again. Within ten minutes, she was back at home, pacing the hallway and trying to come up with a plan of attack.
An hour later, after a series of phone calls, she discovered that David was alive, but his car was completely wrecked. The man had been taken to Goulburn Base Hospital, with some broken bones and a lot of bruises, but otherwise in one piece. The car had been towed to a wrecker for an insurance assessment, with a bent axle, and rear bumper that now resided at least partially in the front passenger seat.
She got back in the car, significantly more decisive about her destination this time.

David was awake. Sore, but awake. His right leg in a cast to above his knee, and his whole body ached. He suspected the drugs were wearing off. Idly, he wondered what tie it was. Time seemed to stand still in a hospital. Minutes, hours, days all blended into periods of pain, and periods of drug-induced stupor. Nothing else mattered. He wondered if Leann had been able to find him. If she cared enough to drive out here and see him. He wondered if anyone would come. He had no idea who the police might have contacted from the scene of the accident. He wondered about the other guy, the guy who had hit him from behind as turned into the emergency crossing lane. They had hit hard. It was lucky for David that he had been turning right across the median strip, and not left off the highway. Not so lucky for the other guy, he suspected.
Tears welled up in his throat, and he let them flow. He cried for the guy that had hit him, he cried for himself and his pain, he cried for Leann, and the fact that she wasn’t there beside his hospital bed. But most of all he cried for himself, wallowing in the self-pity that made him realise it was his fault. If he hadn’t slept with Grace, if he hadn’t argued with Leann, if he had done things differently, he wouldn’t have been there. Oddly, the words of the talk back dee jay rose in his mind, “You’re on air, Graham, go right ahead”. And then the answering voice of his caller, “if you’re cheatin’ on your wife or girlfriend, you are doing her a disservice”. He was doing Leann a disservice, alright, but what the prophetic Graham hadn’t mentioned was that you do yourself just as much a disservice. Maybe even more.

It was noon when Leann finally drove into Goulburn, and while she hadn’t eaten at all since her piece of toast the night before, she felt only thirst. She saw a petrol station on the way into town, and stopped to fill the car up. The fuel light had been on for nearly twenty kilometres now, and she suspected that the poor thing would just give up before too long despite all the fuel-saving features the salesman had regaled her with when she purchased it. Even the most economical car could not run on no petrol at all. The car full, she went in the shop to pay, grabbing an over sized bottle of water from the fridge, and a packet of chips because they were there. The console operator looked her up and down as she walked in, and cokcked his pimply head to one side, “Big night, huh?” he asked.She regarded him suspiciously, said “Pump number four, thanks.” and brandished her eftpos card.The transaction completed, she waved off the receipt he proffered, and stalked out without making any further conversation. It was only as she got back in to the car that she realised her hair was lank and greasy,and  she was wearing yesterday’s jeans and an old tee shirt of David’s … inside out. She sighed. There was nothing much she could do about it now. She quickly ripped the tee shirt over her head, reversed it, and slipped it back on the right way. She glanced over at the console operator, through the shop window, who pretended that he hadn’t been staring at her. “Hope you enjoyed the show.” she muttered under her breath, and pulled out of the service station, opening the bottle of water as she went.

When the door to the ward opened, David had succumbed to the pain killers once again, and was fast asleep. Leann spotted him quickly, walked over to his bed, and drew the curtains around so the other occupants of the ward couldn’t see them. Despite herself, she almost cried at the sight of him. One leg was in plaster, hoiked up into the air with  a complicated system of pulleys and ropes. What was worse, was the bruising. His face and exposed arms were a mass of red and yellow bruises, some with obvious cuts in their centres, others with no clear definition, just a mass of injured flesh. A cut ran across his face, from his hairline, down over his cheek. Other, smaller ones, criss crossed it at intervals. His entire face was swollen, his features not quite recognisable.  She wondered how long it would be before his looks returned to normal. His foppish school-boy charm had been lost in a moment, to be replaced by a face that looked like it had seen too much hurt, and too much of it his own.
She bent to kiss him gently on the lips. “I’m sorry.” she whispered, “I’m sorry I doubted you. I’m sorry I yelled. I’m sorry I told you to leave. Don’t leave me.” a tear slithered down her nose, and dropped onto his cheek. She wiped it away gently, and he winced slightly in his sleep. She frowned, trying to keep back the flood of tears that threatened, then leaned back away from him. She slipped her own hand into his, said softly “I’ll be right back, darling. I love you.” even though she knew he wasn’t hearing her. And with that that, she slipped back out of the ward to find a bathroom, and the cafe. Now she had seen him, reassured herself that he was okay – well, as okay as could be expected – she needed something to eat. And a shower. But she suspected that that would have to wait.

David opened his eyes groggily, and the meagre sunshine coming through the window pierced his sleep-sodden mind. He didn’t want to wake up. He tried to roll over, and belatedly remember his leg up in the mechanism. He was confined to his back. He settled for turning his head away instead, and tried to close his eyes. Slowly, he drifted back off to sleep again.

In the dingy cafe, Leann shifted on an uncomfortable plastic chair, and wolfed down a stale sandwich and cardboard chips. It tasted awful, but filled the hole in her stomach, which had been her main objective. The little room was unoccupied for now, except for herself and a wearied cook behind the counter, who was busy cutting up ingredients for the next day’s sandwiches. There was no incentive to linger here. Her meal eaten, and already transforming itself into a lump of lead in the put of her stomach, she rose, threw the wrapper in the bin, and made to leave. At the window behind her, a bolt of lightning flashed, and the rain of last night returned, softly at first, and then all of a sudden heavy, beating against the plastic windows. She turned her back to the storm, and meandered back through the hospital, exploring on her way to the ward.
She stopped in a toilet stall, went to the toilet, and washed her face. She realised that the console operator at the service station had a good point – she did look like she’d had a rough night. Nearly no sleep, being woken by the phone call from David, hearing a car accident from nearly two hundred kilometres away, and then the panicked morning drive down here to a town she did not recognise, seeing her partner in the hospital and completely unresponsive … she supposed it had been a big night, after all.
Leann headed back to an information desk she had spotted on the way in. There, a volunteer smiled kindly at her, trying hard not to look at her greasy hair, her filthy shirt, and failing miserably anyway. She managed to smile without visibly wrinkling her nose, though, for which Leann was thankful.”How can I help you, Dear?” she asked kindly.”Um. I was just wondering, I need to go back and see my partner upstairs, but is there a hotel or something close by that I could call? Just somewhere that I can go and have a shower and that.””Oh, sure.” she responded, “In fact, there’s one just down the street. Would you like to use the phone?””Oh, I have my mobile here, if you’ve got the number … ?”The lady smiled, located the number in a directory, and turned the book around so that Leann could see. She tapped the numbers into her phone, and in a moment’s coversation with the receptionist at the motel, had a room booked for that night.She smiled at the volunteer, said “Thanks”, and headed back up to the ward to see if David was awake yet.
Upstairs,  David was still asleep, but he had shifted on the bed. His face was slightly flushed and his brow beaded with sweat. Despite the cool temperatures brought by the storm, the room was almost claustrophically warm. Leann dragged a plastic framed and padded chair over to the bed, and drew the curtain around them both. David’s keys and phone sat on the bedside table, and she sat down in front of them. She listened to the rain smattering against the window, unseen behind the curtain, curled her legs underneath her, and started to drift off into much needed sleep.

18 July 2010
Well, the nonsense just keeps coming. I never thought I could be so continuously surprised by the inadequacy of our police officers. Anyway, the site has gone dark for now, apparently to stop anyone’s feelings from being hurt. Our utmost apologies to all of you – our customers, our readers, our supporters. We will of course be doing everything we possibly can to get this site up and running again as fast as we possibly can. A lot of that depends on the legal and judicial systems, though, which moves a lot slower than most of us would like. So, for now anyway, we bid you farewell.

Leann was jolted out of sleep, yet again, by the sound of a telephone. For a moment, she was transported back to the early hours of this morning, and reliving the horrible sounds of the car crash coming down the line. Before long, though, she brought herself fully awake, twisted at an odd angle in the horribly uncomfortable visitor’s chair, and realised it was David’s iPhone on the bedside table causing the noise. She reached for it, glancing at David to see if he was awake, and when she realised he was still completely out of it, she answered the call, “David’s phone”. Her voice was husky from sleep, and she cleared it softly, unsucessfully.”Hello. I was hoping to speak to Mister Forrest, please.” came an officious voice.”You can’t right now, I’m sorry. I can tell him you called if you like?””Yes please, can you please tell him to call Detective Senior Constable Proud as soon as possible?””Ah, sure. I guess. Can I tell him what it’s about?” she asked archly.There was a slight hesitation, as the police officer debated whether or not to tell her. Eventually, he said, “Yes, just tell him that as he has not yet provided an apology to United Foods Proprietary Limited, they will be commencing further legal action against him.””Huh? What?” Leann almost yelled. She rose quickly, and barrelled through the curtains and out of the ward. She didn’t want to get in trouble for yelling at people. “What apology? Do you have any idea what’s just happened?””Ma’am, I’m sorry, but I can’t discuss this matter with you. I need to discuss it with Mister Forrest himself. If h then chooses to tell you, he can.””The hell you can’t discuss it with me!” Leann exploded, “I’m in this just as bloody deep as David is. What apology? What action? David’s in hospital, he’s not going to be talking to anyone for at least a few days. Doesn’t the highway patrol mob talk to the rest of you?”For the very first time, Leann heard Proud stammer slightly. She’d thrown him. “David offered an apology to United Foods when I spoke to him last night, but that apology has failed to materialise. As a consequence, United Foods have requested that we pursue criminal charges against Mister Forrest. I am sorry that Mister Forrest has been injured, but it does not excuse him from making his apology, as he promised.”Leann’s voice dropped suddenly, her voice poisoned, “Listen to me,” she enunciated very carefully, “David is in the hospital. He has had a car accident. He will not be making any apology. And when he wakes up, I intend to tell him what you’ve told me, and he will continue to refuse to make an apology. Do you understand, Detective Proud?””Miss Roberts, if you continue to threaten me, I’ll have you up under charges as well. Just ask Mister Forrest to call me as soon as possible, please. Good day.” the phone line went dead.Leann almost screamed out loud in frustration and anger. She paced up and down the hallway a few times, absently rubbing the touch screen of the phone with the hem of the tee shirt she was wearing. After a little while, and a few deep breaths, she collected her senses enough to walk back itno the ward. She opened the curtain around David’s bed, and he was staring at her.”Leann!” he grinned.Leann’s anger dissipated almost immediately, she was so glad to see him awake. She rushed to him, and gave him kisses on his lips, his nose, wherever her lips could reach.”Ow ow!” he protested, although his grin had not faded at all, “Careful! I’m rather battered.””I know, I’m sorry.” she said, and leaned back to drink him in, as though it had been weeks since they had seen each other, instead of merely days. “I’m sorry, David.” she said eventually, softly.David let a little smile play on his face, “Sorry for what?” he asked charmingly.Leann’s face crumpled, and she looked as though she was going to cry again, but instead she took a deep breath, as though even thinking the words hurt, and then it all tumbled out, “I’m sorry I doubted you. I’m sorry I thought you were up to something. I’m sorry I panicked. And that cop? Proud? He’s a fuckwit.”David looked almost comically shocked at the little outburst, and then smiled again. He stretched his neck up, angling for another kiss as best he could from where he was confined to the bed, “It’s okay, Lea. I love you too, Darling.”Their lips met, softly, only barely brushing each other in a tender kiss, “I love you.” he repeated under his breath, barely moving his lips from hers. She smiled, and then moved in closer for more.

Lunch was served in the hospital at half past one. It was typical hospital fare, and neither of them touched it, although David shifted the unrecognisable mess around with his fork a little bit, in an effort to feel hungry that was doomed to failure.”So tell me about this copper?” David prompted her eventually, when she seemed unwilling to bring the subject up.Leann’s face dropped, “Ugh. He called before, on your phone, and I picked it up.”David nodded, the noise had woken him from his drug fuelled sleep, although it wasn’t until Leann had left the ward that he came awake enough to understand what was going on, so he had missed most of the conversation. “What did he say?” David asked.”He said that you’d promised to apologise.”David nodded, “Yeah, I did. But I hadn’t done it yet.” he gave an awkward pause, before continuing, “I was driving around, and to be honest, I … well … I forgot about it, I guess.””Why would you apologise? What have you done?” she asked, the  hint of suspicion coming back into her voice.”It’s just over that email we sent. You know … the one that said that if they didn’t take the pictures down, we would go ahead with the Boycott United Foods site.””But … but what’s illegal about that? There’s nothing in that email that’s illegal. Why on earth do the cops care about it?””I don’t know, honestly. I asked him about that, but he’s so arrogant, he just carried on about it without answering the question.””Yeah, figures.” Leann said dryly.”So he’s complaining about no apology yet, then. I guess you told him I’m … ahh … indisposed?”Leann chucked at his choice of words, “Yeah, I told him. It didn’t make any different to him, though. Apparently just because you’re in hospital that’s no excuse for not doing what you said you were going to.” She rolled her eyes, “Because issuing an apology on a website is so easy to do from a hospital bed.””Well, there’s the iPhone …” David pointed out.”He doesn’t know that!” Leann retorted, “And besides, you had other things on your mind! Where does this idiot get off?””They’re the cops. They don’t get off. They just keep on going, keep on worrying at the problem until they find the solution. Like a bulldog and a piece of meat.”Leann looked glum.”So was that all?” David prodded her after a while.”More or less. He says that because you haven’t apologised yet, United Foods are going to continue to pursue charges.” she continued, morosely.”What charges?” David asked, his eyebrows arched.Leann shrugged. “Dunno, really. That one he quoted before – menace, harass and whatever. With a carrier service. I guess.””Yeah, I guess so. Gee, I don’t know how that email fits in to that description, but I guess we’re going to find out sometime soon.””You bet.” Leann replied, and pressed her lips together tightly, as though to keep any further angry words from escaping.

After leaving David’s bedside, Leann set off for the motel. It was getting dark outside, and she hesitated before setting off in the direction that the information volunteer had given her. She hadn’t lied when she said the motel was close, though, and Leann found it within minutes. She went to front counter, gave her name, and was rewarded with a single key on an over-sized perspex fob, declaring that the Goulburn City Quality Motel was the “premier motel in Goulburn”. Considering it also boasted three stars, she figured the competition in the city wasn’t too stiff.  The rooms were arrayed on three sides of a square, set around a gravel quadrangle. They had put her in room 43, and she set off across the quadrangle to locate it. She stuck the key in the door, turned it, and was greeted by that  smell that was familiar to all small town motels – a combination of stale air, lemon-scented surface cleaner, tired mattresses, and broken dreams. She went to the toilet quickly, then wandered to the hospital carpark to retreive her hatchback and move it into the motel carpark instead.
She stopped by the supermarket, which appeared to be the only thing open at 6pm, and bought a five pack of cotton underwear, and a plain blue tee shirt sold in a plastic packet. The jeans, she decided, could do another day. Back at the hotel, her car parked safely at the door, she showered and washed her hair with the soaps provided by the motel. Dressed again, and feeling clean, she went back out, took the car through a drive-through take away outlet, and then sneaked the whole lot into the ward to share with David. It made them both feel a little like truanting teenagers, sneaking greasy semi-cold french fries from a bag, and trying not to get caught by the ward nurse on duty.

The next day, partly in true public hospital style, and partly because of David’s insistent complaining to the hospital staff, they discharged him. He was given a set of hospital issued crutches, and told to visit a hospital closer to home to get the plaster taken off in eight weeks’ time. By lunchtime, they were bundled into Leann’s car, the crutches sticking out of the back window. They stopped by the wreckers to see the car, and retrieve what they could out of it. After sorting out insurance details with the smash repairer, they were back on the road. The trip gave them a good opportunity to fully discuss everything that had been going on, and by the time they got back into Sydney and pulled into their driveway the air between them had completely cleared. David felt happy, and Leann – for the first time in over a week – didn’t feel angry any more. It was a wonderful feeling. They went home and straight to bed, and didn’t rise the next day until nearly noon. The storm had cleared, and sunshine poured into their room, and over their prone bodies. It reflected their moods perfectly.

Leann returned to work, citing illness for her absence, and David returned to his studio, learning to operate his camera in conjunction with his crutches. For a few days at least, things seemed to going back to normal, and the polce officer’s threats of charges seemed thankfully distant. One night, after dinner, they sat down and made a carefully worded and almost completely insincere apology, and posted it on the Boycott United Foods website. No further word was heard from either the police or United Foods themselves, and they waited for some kind of indication that the photograps were being pulled from the United Foods packaging.
When a week had passed, and nothing had been received to say that the photographs were being replaced, Leann started getting angry again. She spurred David into conversation about it, and he encouraged her to wait, be patient, the announcent would come.  Two weeks went by with still no word of a removal, and Leann decided that they were unlikely to receive one. She pulled the apology down off the Boycott United Foods blog, and announced that United Foods had not upheld their end of the bargain.
The next morning, Leann went to work as usual for the morning. She let herself in to the house at half past two, and by four o’clock she was at her office desk, writing up recipes, a pasta sauce bubbling on the stove in the kitchen and filling the house with the smell of fresh parsley and basil from the garden. She was idly staring out of the window above her desk, thinking of nothing in particular, when she saw a group of five uniformed police officers walking up the front path, led by none other than Detective Senior Constable Proud. Her heart leaped into her chest, and her pulse pounded in her ears. She rose from a chair, and met them at the door, opening it just as Proud lifted his hand to knock on the glass.”What are you doing here?” she demanded before he could speak. At that moment, she also noted the officer standing behind Proud and slightly to one side. She was a stern looking woman, brandishing a video camera with the red light blazing on the front. Leann closed her eyes, trying to catch herself before she exploded in a rage.”Miss Roberts.” Proud stated.Leann said nothing.”Miss Roberts, this is Constable Gray, with the video camera. Behind me here is Sergeant Halloway. He is here to oversee things this afternoon.” He left the remaining two officers without introductions. None of them smiled.”What things?” Leann asked.Proud brandished a sheaf of papers, and thrust them at her. She peered at them, but her vision was blurring, and her heart thumping behind her forehead. She could make no sense of them, except that they had hers and David’s name on them, United Foods’ name, and their address. “What is this?” she demanded of Proud.”This is a what is known as a Search and Seizure Warrant. It allows us to enter your property and search for the things here on this list: that’s any computer equipment belonging to you or Mister Forrest, including storage devices and media; any information pertaining to you or Mister Forrest’s email addresses, websites, or other online activities; and any documentation relating to United Foods.”Leann boggled, still trying to make sense of the papers she held. “Can I stop you?” she asked finally.”No.” came the direct answer. “If you attempt to, you will be inhibiting a legal police search, and we will have no choice but to arrest you.”Leann shrugged her shoulders, “It doesn’t look like a get a choice, then, does it?” she sighed, and stood aside to let the men in. She wanted to ask them to remove their shoes, but eventually decided against the idea. Perhaps it was better not to actively try and piss them off, she thought idly.
The search continued for over an hour, and the process only served to confirm Leann’s original thoughts about Proud. He appeared to have no significant technical knowledge at all. He had asked for all their computer equipment, but taken less than half of it, including leaving behind the server that the blog was hosted on. Leann had used her big old laptop to host the LEEanndAVID.com site, but apparently laptops did not count as real computers. They took the only desktop machine in the house, which David used only to access the internet. She would laugh about it if she wasn’t so angry. Of course, the main website that they were interested in, she assumed, was the Boycott United Foods site … and that was hosted anonymously by wordpress. She told them that, and Proud rewarded her with a blank stare. “Who owns that?” he had asked.”Who owns WordPress?” she asked, confused.”Yes, who would we talk to about that?” Proud’s pen was poised above his notebook. The video camera rolled silently beside him.”Ahh. It’s WordPress. I don’t know. WordPress own it.” she responded, baffled at his lack of understanding. “It’s on the internet.” she added, redundantly.He scribbled a few things in his notebook, attempting to look as though he understood perfectly.
They also asked for recent telephone and internet connection invoices. She provided them, although what they proved she had no idea. She mentioned that she also had a jar of United Foods curry sauce in the pantry and offered it to them with more than a little snark. Proud declined the offer. They never went out in the back yard, and Leann failed to mention the over sized studio out there.
After the police had left, with as much pomp and ceremony as they could muster, Leann slumped in to a lounge chair. Despite her bravado and snark to the police officers, now she felt small and shivery. She lay on the couch, unwilling to move. Her heart was pounding again, and she felt like curling in to a ball, crawling into a hole, and letting the world turn around without her, if only for a little while. She was still there nearly an hour later when David arrived home. He came in, spotted her wan face slumped in the lounge chair, and frowned. He came over, gave her a quick kiss and a hug, and then found his own spot in the lounge chair next to her. He didn’t speak. Eventually, Leann gave a world-weary sigh, and said softly, “we got raided this afternoon.””Raided?” David repeated, confused as to her meaning.”Yeah. Raided. By the police. They took your desktop machine.””Shit.” David swore under his breath. “What else?””Not much. Some invoices – phone and internet. Didn’t look twice at the web server.””Why not?””No idea, honestly. I suspect that laptops don’t count as computers. Not real ones, anyway. Maybe you can’t do anything illegal on a laptop.” she shrugged, almost not caring anymore. She just felt tired.”But … but why? Why raid us? Everything’s up on the internet, they could just print it off. They have copies of the emails if they’ve spoken to United Foods, which we know they have. None of that stuff is on my machine anyway.” he paused, deep in thought. Then, a thought struck him, and he asked “They didn’t take the external hard drive too, did they? The terabyte one, with all my digital images on it?” he almost didn’t dare breath while he waited impatiently for her answer.”No. It’s out in your studio isn’t it?”He breathed a sigh of relief. “Yeah, it’s on the desk. Didn’t they see it?””Nope.” she gave a small, tight grin, the best she could manage under the circumstances. “They didn’t even go out there. Not only is it impossible to do anything illegal on a laptop, people don’t do anything illegal in backyard studios either.”The silence hung between for a moment, incredulity clear on both their faces. And then the tension broke suddenly, and they both laughed. They laughed too hard, tears streaming down their faces, and rocking back in their chairs with mirth. But it helped. Suddenly, it felt as though they were in some nineteen sixties comedy show, and the bumbling police officers had just been through the scene – running into each other, and falling over their own feet. It felt good to laugh about it.
After talking through the event for hours, Leann had passed on every piece of information she could recall. They analysed every question asked, every piece of equipment Proud had looked at or touched, and pulled apart every sentence he had uttered. By the time the sun had dropped below the horizon, and the room had begun to grow dark around them, they were no closer to having any answers. Completely exhausted, they had an early night instead, crawling beneath the covers, and holding each other tight as they both drifted in restless dreams.

The following day, despite feeling as though their world had been turned upside down, despite feeling as though they were running at the whim of some unseen grand master, despite feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted, the sun rose. The day started, Leann had to get to work, and David had to complete the product shoot at the spice company. He had been putting the final shoot off for about three weeks now, and he caught himself trying to think up another excuse for putting it off again today. He didn’t want to do a shoot outside of his studio, and he didn’t want to go out when it might rain on his cast. He didn’t feel like being sociable. He didn’t feel like being trapped in the heady atmosphere of the kitchen. But most of all, he didn’t want to have to see Grace.
Leann made a movement to get out of bed, and David rolled towards her and grabbed her around the waist. She giggled and squirmed beneath his embrace. “Let me go, Baby. I have to get to work.” she laughed.”Not yet.” he pleaded.”Yes, yet!” she retorted, “I’m nearly half an hour late already. If I don’t get up now, I’m going to miss my train again. And I don’t want to risk the wrath of Gary. If I’m late again he’ll have my head.”David nuzzled into her soft neck, breathing in the musky smell of her skin, tinged lightly by the woody scent of her shampoo. “I don’t want you to go to work. I want you to stay here. With me. All day. Let’s stay here all day and only get out of bed to eat.” He wrapped his arms even tighter around her, and felt her melt towards him.Leann laughed and said, “Darling, that sounds wonderful. But I really must get up. I’ve taken too many days off, and been late too often. I don’t want to lose my job.””We’ve got the blog.”Her laugh turned dry, “Yeah. At least until United Foods shut us down, anyway.”The mood turned suddenly sour, and David released his grip. Leann gave him a quick peck of a kiss on the side of his mouth, and got out of bed.
David lay in bed, feeling perfectly morose about the day ahead, while listening to the sounds of Leann in the shower. She was singing softly to herself. It was hard to pick the song through the sounds of water, but it sounded like it might have been Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name”. Though he couldn’t be sure.

David watched through the window as Grace pulled into the driveway and turned the engine off her car off. She sat, for a moment, just staring out of the windscreen to the front door. What the hell was he going to say to her? What the hell was she going to say to him? That was even more concerning. The radio was on softly in the lounge room behind him, playing some love song, and he turned around and jammed his finger into the power button to kill it. He began to reach for his crutches, to walk up to the door, and then decided against it. She wouldn’t be able to see him from here, he was pretty sure. He waited as she got out of the driver’s side door, and went around to the passenger side, apparently to clear off the seat. As he waited, watching, he tried to work out what to say to her, but the words that would make it all better just wouldn’t come to him. He was going to have to wing it. Too quickly, she was walking up the path, and he heard her knock loudly on the front door.  He called out “Coming!”, and grabbed his crutches. He got to the door balanced neatly, and opened it.  She was dressed in black pants, the crease down the front a knife-edge, and a somber plum blouse. Her hair was caught up roughly on top of her head, but auburn curls traced their way down, framing her face. David caught himself thinking how beautiful she was, and then hurriedly banished them from his mind. “Keep it professional, David.” he reminded himself silently. She smiled at him, and simultaneously noticed the crutches. “What happened?” she asked.”I had a car accident.” he responded shortly. “Thanks for coming to get me.””No problem, you’ve picked me up often enough. It’s time the favour was returned.” she said slyly, her face belying the truth between her words, that David’s offers have lifts had never been motivated by generosity, but lust.He ignored the suggestion, though, and asked if she would mind carrying his two bags of photographic gear. He picked up the tripod, and hoisted it under one arm with a practised move.
The delicate operation of getting David, his broken leg, and all his gear in the car completed, they set off with the silence hanging between them almost palpable. Eventually, she said, “So … tell me about the accident? What happened?””I … ummm. I got hit from behind. It was in the rain, he didn’t see me.” David was deliberately short on details. He didn’t want to tell her that it happened after he left her place, that it had happened in Goulburn. That it had happened because he was on the phone speaking to Leann, after he had tried and failed to call Grace. He didn’t want to tell her that it happened because he was trying to cross the highway and go home to a reconciliation.”Sorry to hear it, David.” she said primly, knowing that there was more that he wasn’t saying. “How’s the car?” she asked, making conversation, and saying the things that social conventions said you had to when someone had been in an accident.”Oh, it’s a write-off. Just going through the insurance stuff now. We’ll pick something new out on the weekend, I guess.” he replied airily.”Uh-huh.” Grace said, and paused, trying to work out how to phrase her next question. Eventually, it spilled out, “So you and Leann are back together then?” she asked.David nodded, not quite trusting his voice to answer.”Well. That’s good then” Grace stated, not believing a word of it. She wondered what this meant for her, but left the question unasked.
Trapped within the confines of the heady spice-filled kitchen again, David was succumbing to the fussing ministrations of Susan as she waited for something to finish cooking. The simmering curry had filled the air with the scent of cumin and coconut milk, and he could feel his stomach rumbling, despite his melancholy mood. Susan was buzzing around him and his broken leg, making sure he was comfortable, making sure he had all the equipment he needed from his bag, making sure he had a glass of water and a samosa or seventeen to nibble on. Grace, in an exercise in polar opposites, was ignoring him. Her face was set and her gaze fixed on the meal she was preparing for photography. He watched her as she set up the plate on a piece of natural white cotton wadding, and placed a coloured glass water carafe behind it. She got out a little spray bottle and sprayed droplets of water on the carafe, to make it look as though it were filled with iced water. David started automatically framing the shots he would take in his mind, lining things up and working out how best to focus on the curry. Thoughts of Grace and the conversation he had told himself he needed to have with her slipped easily from his mind, and he let them go without argument, falling naturally in to his position behind the lens. He asked her to rotate the plate around slightly to take better advantage of the wan winter light coming through the window, and started setting up his flashes, balancing neatly on one crutch.
He was on his way back to Grace’s car, Susan and Alistair both carrying his camera gear in its bags as he crutched his way through the tiny carpark. Grace was ahead of him, and he tried to concentrate on the shifting gravel beneath the rubber feet of his crutches, instead of the back of her black pants. He couldn’t wait to get the cast off, having everyone run around after him was beginning to bug him. They were all packed into the car, and Grace started the ignition and put it in gear. Before backing out though, she turned to him, “Coming back to my place for a coffee?” she asked him coyly.David ignored the innuendo, and shook his head, “No, just straight home, thanks.”She arched a carefully plucked eyebrow.”I’m feeling pretty tired.” David added, “The crutches are hard work.””Right.” she said finally. The silence hung heavily, and not a further word was said.

11 July 2010
This site published an apology on the 25th of June, 2010. That apology is now being retracted.
On the seventeenth of June, the maintainers of this website offered United Foods a deal. The deal was that, if United Foods removed the copyrighted images from their products, we would publish an apology here, and close the site closed down. United Foods, through a third party, agreed to that deal. Subsequently, we posted an apology here on the seventeenth, and the remainder of the site was removed from public view. Just over two weeks has passed since that dte, and United Foods have made no contact with the copyright holders of the images. The products are still on the shelf bearing those photographs, and no attempt has been made to remove them from supermarkets, or replace them with other images. Subsequently, this website has been replaced in all its former glory. The apology, however, has not.
We will not apologise for saying that United Foods steal artists’ work, when it is true.
We will not apologise for asking United Foods to remove copyright infringing artwork, when it is illegal.
We will not apologise for trying to protect small artists work, when companies like United Foods are sucessfully stealing from them.
We will not apologise to a company that agrees to a peace deal, when that company refuses to uphold their end of the bargain
The existing apology has been removed from this web site, and no further apology will be made.
If United Foods want to continue using the copyright holder’s artwork on their products, they will need to make some other deal. One that does not involve this web site issuing apologies. For no apology will be made.

“Welcome to Infologic Development Systems, this is Leann. Can I please start with your customer number?””Ah, yeah, sure, it’s CR874-637D””I have Blackburn Electronic Logistics Australia. Is that right?””Yep, that’s the one.””And who am I speaking to?” Leann asked.”My name is Kenneth Dyer … Ken.””Thanks very much, Ken, how can I help you today?”The customer began to outline a networking problem he was having. Leann made notes as she listened, and at first only glanced at the notification that popped up on her screen. It was Terri at reception, “Someone is here to see you. Urgent!!!! -T” it said.Leann quickly tapped out a reply, “On cust call. Can it wait 10?”The response was almost immediate, “No!!!!!!”Leann sighed. Terri’s abuse of exclamation marks was irritating. Her ever-present urgency more so.”I’m sorry Ken, but I’m going to have to pass you on to another operator. Can you please hold on for moment while I explain your situation to them?”Leann didn’t wait for his response before hitting the hold button, and sticking her head around the cubicle wall to speak to her co-worker.  The call successfully passed on, she locked her computer terminal with a single click, and headed up to reception. Who on earth would need to see her this urgently? Hopefully David was alright. She picked up the pace, and was nearly running by the time she got to the glass door separating the cubicle farm from the over-designed space of the reception area. Through it, she could see a uniformed police officer, and her heart started to pound. He hadn’t had another car accident had he? she thought. She was so close to panic that she could barely grasp her security pass, and had to try three times before the sensor recognised her and let her through the door.She stepped into the room, glanced at Terri for confirmation that this police officer was, indeed, here to see her. The young man stepped forward towards her, and held out his badge, “Miss Roberts?” he asked.”Uh-huh” Leann stammered.”I’m here to serve some documents.” he said, and Leann reeled in confusion. She had been so focussed on the idea that he was going to tell her that something had happened to David that she couldn’t quite comprehend what he had said instead.”Oh. Um. I’m sorry?” she asked anxiously.The policeman brandished a sheaf of stapled papers, “Would you like to step outside Miss Roberts?” he asked, with a quick glance to Terri who had been watching intently from her spot behind the long brightly colours reception desk.Leann followed his gaze, and nodded a little, “Yeah, okay.” she said. Now that the panic she had induced in herself was starting to fade, and rational thought began to kick back in again, she wondered what the police were really here for. What did police officers usually serve? Charges, she guessed. What were they trying to charge her for though? It was David they had been threatening with charges, although neither of them knew why. Perhaps they had started to cotton on to what was really going on. She nearly laughed at the thought, as she stepped through the door that the police officer held open for her.Out on the street, the wind blew a cold chill that slapped her in the face. She pulled her thin knitted cardigan around her with little result. Her jacket was inside on the back of her desk chair. She hadn’t expected to be going outside to chat with an officer of the law when she stood up.”I’ll try and make this quick so you can go back inside.” he said kindly. He handed her the papers, and Leann disentangled her hands from her cardigan. She glanced at it quickly, and then hugged herself again.”What is it?” she asked.”It’s an Application for an Apprehended Violence Order.”Leann nearly choked, “A what?!” she shrieked.”An Apprehended Violence Order, Ma’am. They’re designed to protect one party against violence or threats of violence made by someone else. An organisation called …” he checked his notebook briefly. The cold appeared to be having no effect on him at all. “… United Foods Proprietary Limited have asked that we enforce an Apprehended Violence Order against you.”Leann just stared at him, her mouth open in surprise.”I don’t have any further details, I’m sorry Miss Roberts, I’m not working on this case, I’m just delivering the documents. There will be a date on the paperwork, you need to be in court on that day for the preliminary AVO.””You’re joking?” Leann whispered.”I’m sorry?” he asked, frowning, and leaning closer to catch her words.Leann shook herself, said “Never mind. Um … thanks. I guess. Is that all?” and turned to walk back inside.”Yes, that’s all. Thank you Ma’am.”Leann didn’t answer. She walked back into the warm reception area on a cold breeze, and glanced at Terri. Terri’s eyebrows were up so far they nearly met her hairline, “Are you alright?” she asked in awe.”Yep.” said Leann shortly. “Thanks Terri.” she let the internal door back to the cubicle farm bang behind her.
By the time she got back to her desk, Gary was waiting there for her, his arms crossed against his chest. Neither spoke as she drew closer, and just as Leann began to feel that she was caught in a strange version of a staring contest with her own boss, he spoke, saying “Hello Leann.” in an ominously quiet voice.Leann stopped in front of him, staring at him over her office chair, “Hello Gary.” she responded, equally disingenuously.”I heard there’s been some … problems.” he stated softly.”You might say that.” she agreed.”I think it would be best for everyone if you stayed home until this is … sorted out.”Leann clamped her lips together, trying hard not to insult him.”Right. Okay.” She nodded towards her desk. “Can I clean up my stuff first? Or is that in the AVO too?” she asked, waving the sheaf of papers in her hand.David looked aghast at her direct reference, and then sheepishly stood aside, “Yeah, of course. Clean your stuff up. When it’s sorted out, give me a call, and we’ll organise what to do next.””Right. Well. I won’t say thanks.”Gary nodded sadly, and turned to go. He apparently changed his mind at the last moment, and turned back to Leann, who was busy staring daggers at his back, “Leann,” he began, “I’m sorry to do this, I didn’t want to. You’re a good worker, and I want you back again soon, alright?”Leann said nothing, not believing a word of it. It was her turn to stare at him, her arms folded. Eventually, Gary turned away again, and walked back to his office.

Leann did not go back to work that afternoon, instead she went straight home, and headed out the back to David’s studio. She knocked, and upon his gruff “Who is it?” she responded “Just me” as she opened the door.David looked up from his computer where he was editing a digital photograph of what appeared to be a plate of curry. He smiled at her, and then checked his watch. “You’re home early.” he said, his face questioning.”Yeah. I got a visitor at work today.” she said dryly.”Who?” he asked.”Copper.” she answered curtly. She pulled out the paperwork that she had just about memorised on the train ride home. “It’s an Application for an Apprehended Violence Order” she said, reading from the papers in her hand. “Apparently, United Foods Proprietary Limited are now “protected persons” and I am to attend court on the twenty sixth of July to for the interim orders.” She stared him, her face stoic, while she waited for his reaction.David closed his eyes, and pressed the tips of his fingers into them. “When is this going to go away, Leann?” he asked, opening his eyes. They suddenly looked tired, and the lines around them more pronounced than Leann had ever seen them before. He looked almost instantly old.She allowed the muscles that had been taut in her own face all day to relax, and her features drooped. She realised distantly that she probably looked as old as David did in that moment. “I don’t know, Darling. I don’t honestly know. United Foods have it in for us. And for some reason they have Detective Senior Constable Proud running errand boy at their beck and call. He may be clueless, but he’s still police, and he can still hurt us.”There was a pause, and David swivelled in his chair to face Leann properly, and put his arms out for her. She stepped forward, placed the paperwork down on his desk on top of some large colour prints, and allowed herself to be enclosed. She rested her cheek against the collar of his jumper, and breathed in the scent of aftershave that still lingered in the hollow of his throat.”It’s not the worst of it, though.” she said, her voice muffled against his chest. “If the AVO goes ahead, then I can’t go to work.””What?” David yelped, and pulled her away slightly so he could see her face, “Why not?””Because the company does their website. I’m not allowed to use any company systems under the AVO, in case … I don’t know … I guess it’s in case I hack into their website or something.” She paused, looking miserable for a moment, before continuing, “I guess they think I’m technologically savvy enough – and that I care enough – to want to sabotage their online product marketing.” She sniffed, and wiped away the tears that had leaked on to her cheeks, “Maybe I should take that as a compliment.” She tried to laugh at herself, and failed as it turned into a choking sob. She put her head back down into David’s neck, and allowed him to engulf her in his arms.”It’s alright, Baby. We’ll work it out. I have no idea how, but we’ll work it out somehow.” He bent and kissed the top of her head where her hair parted.Leann let the tears come, and tried not care about putting snot on David’s jumper.

11 July 2010
The developers of this site would like to an issue an apology for the things printed here against United Foods Proprietary Limited. All previous posts on this site have now been removed from public view.
[comments closed]

The first thing Leann did on the first morning she had at home, was call the human resources department of the company she worked for. During that phone call, she discovered that she had two weeks annual leave accrued. It was enough to cover them until the hearing for the interim orders came through, and then for maybe a few days afterwards. At that point, they were sailing into the abyss unless David picked up a lucrative project. She had no idea what they would live on after that. She sat at home, feeling a bit lost, and read the application for the AVO paperwork a few more times. The grounds for the application were all typed out on the second page, and she couldn’t understand how they were grounds of anything. She spent hours on the internet, looking up information, and by the time the afternoon came around, she was none the wiser.

David came bounding in to Leann, who was morosely flicking channels on the television, bored out of her mind.”Guess what?” he asked excitedly.”You’ve just won the lottery, and we’re never going to have to worry about money ever again?” Leann asked dryly.”Nearly!” David was almost panting with his excitement.Leann looked at him over the back of the couch, and raised an eyebrow.”The insurance money for the car came in!” he announced, “Let’s go car shopping!”Leann took the cheque he was waving out his hands, and checked the figure, “Awesome!” she said, excited now, “We can get a whole new car for that, and maybe even have some change.””I know. What should we get?” he asked, landing on the couch next to her.”Don’t know. Something small, so we can keep the change for groceries.” she said.David laughed, “Yeah, that’s not a silly idea at all.”

The solicitor read the application for the AVO again, and then sucked his upper lip. His moustache moved inwards, and Leann wondered briefly if it would go all the way in and disappear.”This is quite remarkable.” he said finally, releasing the tormented moustache. He enunciated every syllable very carefully, as though he had to remind the muscles in his mouth how to say each word before he said it.Leann and David sat silently, waiting for him to elaborate.”The grounds for the application that are detailed here are quite … odd.” he said. He pulled his glasses down on his nose and looked over them at the couple sitting across from him. “The general practise for an Apprehended Violence Order applciation is to stipulate the grounds of the violence or threat of violence that has occurred against the protected party.” he paused, apparently to see if his audience was suitably confused. “This application, however, is significantly longer than I would generally expect, and covers a number of somewhat … unusual events.” He looked up again.Leann leaned forward, and asked, “Um. Exactly what do you mean by “unusual” Mister Galloway?”The solicitor gave a tight smile, “Mitchell, please.””Mitchell, sorry. Can you tell me what’s unusual about it? What can we do about that?””Well, there’s not a lot you can do.” he said, emphasising the last word as though it were completely foreign to him. “No, there’s not a lot to be done. You still have to proceed through the process, as it were. But I would be inclined to perhaps start questioning the methods that the police have used, in this matter.” He paused again, thinking, “You couldn’t go through the details of the search again for me, could you?”Leann did as she was bidden, with David providing interjections ocassionally, trying to make sure they had the details all correct. Galloway sat with his elbow on the large blonde desk, his hand stroking the formidable dark moustache as they spoke. Leann tried not to look, lest she be distracted.”Righh-ighhht” he said, stretching the word out until it had somewhere close to five syllables. “Hmmmm. I do have a number of concerns about police procedure in this matter.” He lifted a hand and ticked the items off on long, thin fingers as he spoke. “Firstly, and most importantly, this is not really a matter of harassment, per se. It is more a matter of a … what I would be inclined to call … dispute.” He glanced at them over the rims of his frames again, and then continued with his list, “Secondly, asking for an Apprehended Violence Order against a company is, in itself, quite bizarre. Thirdly, the grounds for the AVO appear to be, oddly, more about protecting the protected persons’ reputation.” He fixed them with his sharp eyes again, while stating, “You have not threatened violence against them at any point. You have threatened their business, and their good standing in the business community.”David took a deep breath, “So you’re saying that Leann shouldn’t be under an AVO at all?”Galloway smiled as though he were a kindly benefactor, and responded “No, not at all. It is a very strange thing to happen, in this situation.””Alright. Well, that’s good.” David said, “So can we get it thrown out of court next week then? What do we have to do?”Galloway gave a sudden brash laugh that startled both of them, before saying with mirth in his voice, “Oh no! No, it won’t be “thrown out” as such, Mister … uh … Forrest. Next week we will merely be setting a date for the court to decide what is to be done. Next week I will simply go to court, and state that you oppose the Apprehended Violence Order. You, Miss … uh … Roberts, will then be under an Interim Apprehended Violence Order until the next court appearance. On that date, we will argue the order is unfounded in reality.” he chuckled again, “In a few more words than that.” he added, apparently merely to amuse himself.
Leann and David left the imposing building that housed the solicitor’s office feeling only slightly more relieved about the situation than they had when they arrived.

Both of them spent over an hour getting ready that morning, slipping into suits that hadn’t seen wear since a wedding they had gone to almost a year previously. Leann smoothed her hair down, and pulled it back tightly. David shined his shoes, although he was only going to wear one. They were both nervous, even though they both knew that nothing much of importance was going to happen today. When they got to the court, Mitchel Galloway was already there, in a dark grey pinstriped suit, a soft leather briefcase at his side, fat with paper. They shuffled into the court room, found seats in the stalls while Galloway gracefully perched in one of the chairs at the solicitors’ table towards the front of the room. He smiled and chatted with the other lawyers, looking relaxed. Leann could only compare his demeanour with her own butterflied stomach, although she knew that he did this every week, and she had never been here before.
Leann’s butterflies had nearly dissipated with boredom by three o’clock when her name was finally called. The endless parade of drink drivers and petty criminals had had a numbing effect on her brain, and David nudged her slightly when the magistrate said “In item 3762, Ms Roberts. Mister Galloway, is your client here?”Galloway stood in his place, “Yes, she is, Your Honour.” he answered to the bench, bowing slightly. Then, turning to Leann, he motioned to the seats behind him. She stood, and moved to the seat he indicated, feeling very conspicuous out in the middle of the courtroom. She focussed on the magistrate, and tried to keep her face nuetral and passive. Within two minutes, a new date had been set for the thirteenth of September – seven weeks away, and the interim AVO was in place over her. The magistrate dismissed Leann and within seconds David was at her side. They walked to the imposing double doors, turned and gave self-conscious nods to the bench, and then left the courtroom. They heaved sighs of relief in chorus, and then Leann gave a nervoud laugh. “Well, now that I’m officially not allowed to go to work nor anywhere near United Foods, what do we do now?” she asked.David shrugged his shoulders, and then said, “Let’s go have a coffee.””Best idea I’ve heard all day” Leann answered.
That night, at home, Leann shut LEEanndAVID.com down, possibly for good. She felt silly for it, but closing the blog was almost like saying goodbye to a friend.

When David and Leann emerged from the hospital, David’s leg was no longer encased in plaster. He was still on his crutches for now, until the muscles in his leg had started to strengthen up again, and his leg was pale and skinny from six weeks in the cast, but he was feeling happy it was gone, even though he still couldn’t put any weight on it. They walked together to the car park, and laughed for a moment when they couldn’t locate the new car. Eventually they found it, and David insisted on driving now that he could finally fit his leg in the driver’s side foot well again. They bundled themselves in, and before turning the key in the ignition, David turned to Leann who had her seat belt on, expectantly.”We’re going to be okay, you know.” he said softly.She lowered her eyes, “Yeah. I think so. I just wish we didn’t have to fight anymore. I’m tired of the fighting.””Me too. But it’s worth it. United Foods shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this. If they weren’t doing it to us, they would be doing it to someone else.”The corner of Leann’s mouth turned up wryly, “You know, you’re starting to sound like me, Mister.”David chuckled, “Maybe I should start up a blog.” he said pointedly as he turned the key. He popped the automatic transmission into reverse and backed out of the parking spot.

David came in from the studio with two big prints of the same plate of a chicken tikka masala curry sitting on a brightly coloured table cloth, and found Leann at the stove, stirring something in a tagine. “What’s for dinner?” he asked.”A lamb tagine. It’s still too runny though, I need to let it simmer a little more I think.” she replied, preoccupied.”I love having you home more, you cook all these wonderful things through the week that you used to only cook on the weekends.””That’s what happens when you have too much time to spare.” she replied, looking at him over a spatula as she taste tested the casserole. “Mmmm … more coriander. Darling, pass me that last stalk of coriander on the cutting board would you? And the scissors there.” She took them off him and started snipping the leafy herb directly into the dish, “What’s the photos for?” she asked as she stirred it in.”Oh!” David said, as though he had almost completely forgotten about the prints in his hand. “These are from the spice shoot I’ve just wrapped up. I can’t decide if the light looks strange on these. What do you think?” he held them up for her, and she turned to look at them properly.”Hmmm. It looks tasty.” she said, and laughed, “I don’t know about the light though. They look okay, I guess. This one looks maybe a little yellower, though.” she said pointing with her nose because her hands were full.David shrugged, “Okay, so the other one then?””Yeah, I think so.” she said, turning back to the tagine. “You know, I’ve been thinking.”David was still studying the photos in his hands, comparing them by moving them so that the light caught them in different ways. “Mmmm?” he asked.”Well, it’s no big deal, really, I mean … about work.”David looked up, “What do you mean?””Well, witth the AVO and everything. I mean, it’s not like I have a big attachment to the job. I’ve been wondering if maybe I should just go out and do something else, maybe. I don’t have to work on a help desk.”David looked lost in thought, “No-oo,” he said eventually, drawing the word out, then thoughtfully repeated, “No, you don’t have to work on a help desk.” He paused again, and then added, “What would you like to do instead?”Leann’s eyes lit up, “Well, this is the thing. I never went into cooking because I didn’t want to claw my up from the bottom. Now I’ve got a little bit of recognition through the blog, do you think I could maybe do something with that?””I don’t know.” David answered honestly, “I really don’t know. What kind of thing?”Lean shurgged, and gave a little nervous laugh, “I don’t know either, to be honest. I guess I need to think through this a little more yet.”He laughed at that, and gave her a glancing kiss on her ear as she was looking at the casserole on the stove. “I love you.” he said, and with that, he took his photographs back out to the studio. Leann caught herself smiling into her tagine.
The tagine was ready, and Leann was waiting for the jug to boil so she could start preparing the cous cous. The stereo oozed acid jazz from its speakers, and Leann was grooving around the room as she finished preparing the meal. She considered going outside to ask David to bring in his camera to take a photo of the tagine, it looked amazing, but then decided against it. It was too harsh a reminder of everything they couldn’t do at the moment. When she heard the knock on the door, she expected it to be a salesman or a pizz guy with the wrong address, and she took her wooden spoon with her, sipping from it as she went. She opened the door, and the jazz escaped to greet Detenctive Senior Constable Darnell. She paused with the wooden spoon still in her mouth and just stood, staring, as her brain froze. After her heart had started working again – at seemingly double the speed – she took the spoon out of her mouth and said “Proud”. It wasn’t a question, merely a statement of fact.”Yes, Miss Roberts. Can I come in?” he asked, almost graciously.”Do you have to? I’m about to serve dinner.” she responded coldly.”Ah okay. Well, is Mister Forrest home?””Yeah. Let me get him.” she responded shortly. She shut the door, and locked it. She didn’t want Proud in her house again, he made her feel like her space had been violated.She headed out the back to the studio, and rapped her knuckles on the door quickly before opening it and sticking her head through.”Proud’s here again.” she said shortly, the muscles around he mouth taut. “He’s waiting out the front to speak to you.”David looked up from the light box he was shooting into, shocked out of his work-induced reverie, and said “What the hell?””I don’t know. He hasn’t told me anything. I doubt he’s here because he wants to apologise, though.”David put his camera down, and came towards her, limping only slightly now on his bad leg. “You okay?” he asked softly as he met her at the doorway.Leann only shrugged in response, “Yeah, I guess.” and then followed him in to the back door, through the house, and to the front. He went to open the door, realised it was locked, and turned to give her a strange look as he pulled back the latch. Leann shrugged again in explanation.”Hello.” David said to Prou when he opened the door.”Mister Forrest. How are you.” the police officer responded. The question however, was not asked out of any interest in how David actually was feeling though, he guessed, and left it unanswered. Proud continued, “I have some paperwork here for you, Mister Forrest”. He produced about six pieces of paper, all neatly stapled together in the corner, and handed them to David, who took them numbly.”This is a Court Attendance Notice. It tells you that you’ve been charged with the following crimes: the first one is Section 474.17 of the Criminal Code Act “Using a carriage service to menace, harass, or offend”. The second is Section 545B of the Crimes Act “Using intimidation or violence to unlawfully influence a person”. You will need to appear in court on the fourth of October. If you fail to apepar in court, you may be arrested by police, or the matter may be dealt with in your absence. Do you have any questions?”David just looked shocked for a moment, before mumbling, “No. No, I don’t think so.””Alright then. Have a good evening Mister Forrest.” he nodded towards Leann, who was standing with her mouth agape, still weilding the wooden spoon, as though she were about to hit him with it, “Miss Roberts”.  With that, he turned on his steel-capped heels, walked back down the concrete path, unlocked his unmarked patrol car, and got back in.When the police officer was gone, David closed the door with a bang, and turned the thumb lock.”Shit.” he said.

9 June 2010
United Foods steals from small independent artists. They have the resources, the money, and the ability to hire any photographer they wished to produce their packaging images. Instead, every picture you see on United Foods packaging on the supermarket has been stolen. And when artists contact United Foods to protest their images being stolen, what do United Foods do? Apologise? Take the images down? Try to compensate the artist? No. They do none of those things, they simply deny that the work was stolen. They claim the image as their own, produced in their own internal departments.
United Foods lie.
United Foods steal.
United Foods cheat.
Boycott United Foods.
If you see or hear of United Foods stealing from independent and struggling artists, let us know and we will share the stories here.

“I could teach.” Leann announced over red wine and garlic lamb shanks. They had been slow cooked for nearly eight hours, after being marinaded overnight, and the meat was literally dripping off the bone. The sauce dripped perfectly over creamy mashed potato.David piled another mouthful in, chewed it, swallowed, and said “Teach what?””Cooking, what else?” Leann said, loading another forkful from her own plate.David concentrated on his dinner, and said “If you could teach other people how to cook this good, you would be world famous.”. He was only partly teasing.”But I can. That’s my point. This stuff is easy to do, and no one cooks anything from scratch any more because they all think it’s too hard, or they don’t have the time. But there’s plenty of things you can cook from basic ingredients that take no more time than … than … opening a bottle of bloody United Foods curry sauce!” she said triumphantly.David stopped and looked at her, his fork poised before being filled again. “You’re serious, aren’t you?””Of course I’m serious, David.” she scowled, “I’ve got to do something with my time. I can’t just sit around on Facebook all day. We’re going broke, fast, and there’s no chance of me going back to work before September, and even then there’s no guarantee that there’s going to be a job for me. I would think that even if everything goes well with the AVO in court, there would be some reason why they don’t want me back. So I need to think up something. I want to capitalise on the little bit of a boost the LEEandAVID.com site can give me, and see if I can’t do something with food. I thought teaching might be a good way to do it.”David put his fork down with a clatter, and rounded on Leann with a ferocity that he rarely showed, “Leann.” he said forcefully, “Don’t you think you’re over reacting just a little? I mean, Galloway has said the AVO is virtually a dead duck, and if Infologic refuse to take you back, that’s a breach of the employment contract you have with them. They just can’t do it. Besides that, the LEEanndAVID site isn’t exactly running with rave reviews any more is it? What are you trying to prove, Leann? I’m putting the finishing touches on the spice portfolio right now, we’ll have the money for that within a fortnight. We’re not going to die. We’re not going to lose the house. Things are a little tight for the next week or so, sure, but we’re going to be okay. The court case is only a few weeks away now, and then you’ll be right back at work. Stop panicking, stop carrying on like a crazy woman. Just let it go.”Leann stood up very deliberatley, her anger rising like a slow burn in her chest. “No.” she said firmly. “No, David, I will not. You do not get to choose what I want to do with my life. You do not get to choose where I spend my days at work. Quit the misogynist bullshit and pull your head out of your arse.” She stood there, her eyes smouldering.David pushed his chair back so fast the legs scraped loudly across the hard wooden floor. He stared back at her, said nothing, and left through the front door. Moments later, Leann heard the engine start, and the car back out of the drive way. She sat, and ground her teeth until her jaw ached.
David pulled into Grace’s driveway, and instantly wished he hadn’t. What on earth was he doing here? What problem was this going to solve? He asked himself these questions, yet still found himself getting out of the car. Before he knew it was knocking on Grace’s door, and there was no turning back.”Who is it?” Grace called from inside.”It’s me.” he responded, feeling deja vu, and hoping this visit didn’t turn out the same way as the last one.The door opened, and Grace stood there in a flippy dress, her hair tied up with a big red flower pinning it. She had a glass of wine in her hand. She said nothing, and didn’t move from the door way.”Hi.” he sai sheepishly, to break the silence.”Why are you here, David?” she asked shortly.”I … um.” David stammered. He had no answer.Grace stepped outside on to the mat, and closed the door behind her. “I have visitors. Get to the point.” she paused, and when David continued to say nothing, she pre-empted him, “Did you have another fight with Leann?”.David nodded, unable to find the words.”I thought so.” Grace lips disappeared as she pressed them together, turning them white. “Well, do you want to know something lover boy? I’m not here for you to run to when your girlfriend won’t put out. I’m not here to feed you coffee and sex whenever you feel miserable. I am most certainly not here for you to shag one night, and then forget about for five weeks until you want another one.” She paused, her breath coming fast, and a flush rising high on her cheeks. “Do you understand, David?” Improbably, her angry eyes suddenly looked wet.David nodded again, his face miserable. “I’m … I’m sorry, Grace.” he stammered softly.”I was holding out for you David. I thought you might decide to be with me. But clearly it’s not going to happen. And I’m sick of being second best.” She jutted out her chin, and took a gulp of her wine. She swallowed hard, as though she was trying to remove the lump from her throat. “And you know what? I don’t actually care about your argument with Leann. I don’t want to know what happened. Who said what, and what happened next. So don’t even think about telling me about it.” she paused again, and took another draught of wine from her glass, drawing courage from the alcohol as though her life depended on it, then narrowed her eyes, “I loved you David. But I can not … can not … I can not put up with this.” She sniffed suddenly, and David watched a tear track from the inner corner of her eye, down her nose, and hover for just a second at the tip, threatening to drop into her wine glass, before she hurriedly wiped it off with the back of one, shaking hand. “Good bye David.” she said pointedly, her voice wavering only slightly.David hung his head, mumbled, “I loved you too, Grace. Good bye.” and turned to leave.Back in the car, he turned the radio on, and was reminded of the late night talk show he had heard over a month ago now, and how it had made him realise that he needed to end it with Grace. He hadn’t had the courage to do it, and now she had dumped him. It would be laughable if he didn’t feel so shattered over it. He tuned the radio to a station that played uninterupted music. He didn’t want to listen to the chatter of the deejays and their wisdom-filled callers tonight. He avoided the highway this time, too.
The beach lay inky black before him, the waves visible only by their milky white crests. He turned the car off, and walked out into the mild night air. It was early September, and the cold was starting to yield to spring. A pleasantly cool breeze blew off the water and ruffled his hair, and he turned his face up to meet it, and let it help to clear his head. He perched on the wooden railing that bordered the carpark, and looked out to sea. He thought about Leann, and about Grace. He wondered about the court case, and about Galloway the solicitor. He sat there thinking, until the cool breeze turned cold, and ice started to creep into his bones. He wrapped his jacket around himself tighter, but it was not much longer until he gave in to the weather, and moved back into the car. He fired the ignition, turned the heater on to his cold feet, and drove home.
It was after midnight when David drove back into their driveway. He let himself into the house, tip toed into the bedroom, and quietly undressed. Leann’s silent form under the doona didn’t move until he slipped under the covers with her, and wrapped his arms around her from behind. She gave a little happy moan, and allowed him to embrace her. She folded in to his arms. “I love you.” she whispered.”I love you too. I don’t like fighting with you.” he replied, just as softly.”Me neither.”David let a heartbeat pass, “I think you should write a book.” he whispered. He felt Leann’s body tense as her eyes flew open.She turned suddenly within the circle of his arms, and sought out his face in the darkness with her eyes, “A book?” she asked.David nodded.”Do you mean a recipe book?”David nodded again.Leann kissed him quickly, and then wrapped her arms around his head and neck and held him closely, “Oh, David. What a wonderful idea!”David smiled, his grin hidden in her hair, and held her tight. It wasn’t long before they were both fast asleep, still wrapped in each others’ arms.

The night before the AVO hearing, Leann slept badly. She had lain awake most of the night, and whenever she did get a moment of  sleep, she was plagued with stressful dreams. She got out of bed a good three hours sooner than she really needed to, showered, and moped around the house drinking strong black coffee, trying to clear her head. When David finally joined her, she was lying prone on the couch, paperwork surrounding her, going through every minute detail of the case yet again. A half drunk mug of coffee sat on the lounge room floor beside her, within easy reach. David picked her feet up, sat down on the couch, and resettled her legs over his lap. He yawned ostentatiously and leaned his head back on the sofa.”There’s more coffee in the pot if you want some.” Leann said without looking up.”Oh good. I’ll grab some.” David responded, but didn’t move. “So, are you ready for today?””Ready as I’ll ever be.” she shrugged. She lowered the paperwork, and looked at him frankly, “I don’t feel very ready, to be honest.” she confided. “But I don’t know that there’s anything else I can do right now. It’s really up to Galloway at this point, isn’t it?”.David nodded thoughtfully, “Yeah, pretty much.” he agreed.
They moved into the now somewhat familiar court room. This time, it seemed, they had beaten Galloway here. Leann tried not to panic about the solicitors absence just yet, but she was jittery anyway, and it was hard to tell how much of those jitters were caused by the missing legal representative, and how much were just expected nerves. They watched others stream in, a good dose of young men looking uncomfortable in ill-fitting suits, and a few that just looked bored. At least one woman with a haunted face who sat alone, huddled in her clothes, and then there were one or two who looked like they did this every Monday, just for sport, and seemed to be quite enjoying the whole situation. The magistrate entered at two minutes after the starting time, and they all struggled to their feet, attempting to look solemn. When the rabble were all seated again, Leann noticed with a massive sigh of relief that Galloway had somehow, mysteriously, appeared at the solicitor’s table at the front of the room. She nudged David, smiled, and whisperd triumphantly in his ear “he’s here!”David smiled in response. The cases were starting.As expected, the court had recessed for lunch before her name was called. She had barely eaten during the break, nerves putting paid to any hunger she might have had. She had drunk three glasses of water while she watched David put away a sandwich and a plate of hot chips, and now she was worried she was going to wet her pants before her case was heard. She crossed her legs, and tried to be patient.Eventually, Galloway stood in his place and announced her name, “Item 4851, Your Honour. Miss Leann Roberts.”The magistrate shuffled some papers in front him, and then said, “Ah yes, the AVO. Is Miss Roberts here, Mister Galloway?”The solicitor motioned to her to come forward, and she made to stand up. David gave her a quick kiss on the temple and whispered “You’ll be fine” before she0 again took the short journey to the seats behind the solicitor. She nodded briefly to the magistrate, who ignored her, and then she sat down, feeling tiny in the expanse of space that lay around her.”Miss Roberts.” the magistrate demanded.Leann stood slightly, and said, “Yes, Your Honour.”The magistrate turned his attention back to the solicitor, and asked, “Miss Roberts has been under an interim AVO for … nearly two months now. Does your client agree to continue those charges under a full AVO?”. He sounded bored, Leann thought.”No, Your Honour.” Galloway responded quickly. “The charges are inappropriate.”The magistrate looked up from his paperwork, and dropped his head slightly, so he could examine the solicitor down his thin nose. “So that’s a not guilty, then, Sir?””Yes, Your Honour.”The magistrate turned to the police prosecutor, who sat bored at one end of the solicitor’s table, fenced in by piles of teetering manilla flders that threatened to spill all over the floor at any moment. He was gingerly picking through them now, trying to find the appropriate file. “Do you have the grounds there, Mister Franks?” the magistrate asked just as the prosecutor trumphantly pulled a thin fole from the stack by his left elbow.”Yes, I do Your Honour.” he replied, barely lifting his backside from the seat as he flipped the folder open and started to look at the paper enclosed within. A court clerk was at his elbow, her hand out, waiting for the paper work. He found the appropriate piece of paper, pulled it out, and then as though something had caught his eye, he frowned at it. His eyes skimmed the lengthy report written on it, and Leann watched happily as his frown deepened. The magistrate cleared his throat impatiantly, and then asked, “Is everything alright, Mister Franks?”The prosecutor looked up as though shaken out of a reverie, mumbled, “Oh yes, my apologies”, and handed the papers over to the clerk, who swiftly transported them to the bench before returning to her unobtrusive seat in a corner.”Please have a seat while I read the accompanying documentation.” the magsitrate asked pompously, waving his hand at Galloway and Leann. Leann was suddenly reminded of her need to go to the toilet and shifted in her seat, crossing and recrossing her legs.The court room was silent.”Right.” the magistrate said, looking up suddenly. He fixed his gaze on the prosecutor, and asked, “Had you read this brief before today?”Franks stood slightly, said, “No, I hadn’t, Your Honour.”  and sat again quickly.The magistrate said nothing but “Hmmm.” and stroked his chin lightly as he glanced over the papers again.”Mister Galloway, please give me your argument.” He paused and when the solicitor didn’t speak immediately, he continued archly, “I assume you have one, Mister Galloway?”Galloway cleared his throat, and tried to hide his excitement, “Yes, You Honour I do. The defendent in question has no prior criminal convictions. She is an upstanding member of the community, and reasonably well known for her recipes on the internet. She is involved in a volunteer work with two different charities, and divides the majoity of her time between working on a computer assistance help desk and maintaining her website, which generates a fairly significant amount of income through advertsiing and merchandise sales.” he took a quick breath, watched the magistrate’s fce to guage his interest, and then continued, “The protected party in this case a company, and in particular a representative of that company, a Mrs Wendy Waterhouse. Miss Roberts and Mrs Waterhouse have never met, and have never conversed over the telephone. In fact, the only contact they have had is a short email exchange that Mrs Waterhouse initiated, and Miss Roberts responded to. Copies of that corespondence have now been handed to the bench.” as he said this, he held out a small pile of papers to the clerk, who jumped up from her seat and shuffled them up to the bench. The magistrate took them, and laid them out in front of him, while indicating with a motion that Galloway should continue his narrative. “I woudl also like to mention that Miss Roberts has been temporarily stood down from her position as a result of this AVO application, resulting in seven weeks of reduced income for her. This is despite the fact that her position in no way compromises the protected person’s security, nor that of the company listed here.”Leann noted idly that Galloway spoke almost like a normal person when he was in court, and wondered what that said about where he was most comfortable. She struggled to refocus on the conversation. Galloway was finishing by stating, “Your Honour, I would like to ask tht the court withdraw the interim AVO, and that no further orders be placed on my client.”The magistrate nodded, and Galloway returned to his seat. Leann noticed that his face was flushed, but excitement was clear on his face. He got a rush out of this.The magistrate was quiet for a few moments, flipping through the papers in front of him. “Hmmmm.” he mused aloud. “Mister Galloway, I must say I’m inclined to go along with you on this one.”Leann had to hold herself in her chair to stop herself from jumping up and cheering.The magistrate turned once again to the prosecutor, “Mister Franks, this application is a disgrace. I can’t figure out how it got to this point. Do you know the officer in charge of this case?”Franks rose partially, and said, “No, Your Honour. I don’t.””I suggest you get to know him, Sir.” the Magistrate responded archly, “And perhaps teach him a thing or two about investigative procedures.” He turned to Leann, and granted her benafactor’s smile, “Miss Roberts?” she stood, blotted her hands on her suit pants briefly, and then hid them behind her back. She forced herself not to let her eyes flick towards where David was sitting, not trusting her face to remain impassive. “Yes, Your Honur.” she said, her hammering heart audible in her words.”Miss Roberts,” the Magistrate repeated, “The interim orders have been repealed. Additionally, no further charges will be enacted in this matter. You will receive a letter to that effect in the post shortly. You are free to go”.Leann stood rooted to the spot for just a moment, before ducking her head slightly and shakily mumbling, “Thank you, Your Honour”. Galloway turned around and beamed at her, holding his hand out. Leann shook it, conscious of her damp palms, and then turned around to see David at her side, holding her handbag out to her. His grin stretched improbably across his face, and he leaned in towards her to grab her elbow, and steer her out of the court room.Outside, the door to the court closed firmly behind them, Leann gave a little squeal, and nearly swooned in her excitement. “Oh my god, David! Did you hear that? It’s over! I’m free!”They hugged each other tightly, and David lifted her feet off the ground just a fraction and spun her around in a quick half circle. Leann squealed again, then laughed, “Oh, let go, I need to pee something shocking.” With that, she dashed off to the public toilets, and David stood looking after her as she went, still grinning from ear to ear.

The following morning, Leann woke up early, and spent an hour getting the LEanndAVID.com website back up online, and sending out emails to let people know it was back up and running. She then emailed everyone who had made orders that had not been filled yet, and assured them that they would be in the post within the next few days. She had boxes of custom-printed aprons and poster prints of David’s photographs taking up space in the corner of their lounge room, ready to be shipped.
As soon as she knew he would be at his desk, Leann called her boss to let him know that the AVO against her had been overturned. He seemed surprised, and was somewhat over-enthusiastic in his congratulations. Leann felt as though he was doing the verbal equivalent of pumping her hand. Eventually, she steered him around to the purpose of her phone call.”So what time do you want me in tomorrow then?” she asked obtusely.Gary stammered a little, flummoxed, and eventually spat out, “Oh, ummm. I … ahh …I think I’ll ah … need to speak to human resources about that, Leann.”Leann was silent, waiting for him to continue.”You see … umm …” Gary continued, “You see they’ll need to … ahh … do some paperwork, I imagine.”Leann remained silent, and when Gary’s stammering eventually tapered off into dead air, she asked archly, “So you’ve taken me off the books?””Well, not so much taken off, Leann. But, we ahh … we had to do something while you were … away. Since it is was for so long.””It’s called a leave of absence, Gary. Human resource departments do that kind of thing all the time. What you mean to say is that you were so certain that I was in the wrong, and United Foods was in the right, that you never expected I would be coming back so soon. Isn’t that right Gary?””No! No, of course it’s not. I’ll call Beth over in HR now and get it all sorted out. I’ll call you back this afternoon, and have a date for you that you can start back.”Leann rolled her eyes, even though she knew Gary couldn’t see it, and said “Thanks” insincerely.”It really is wonderful news, Leann, honestly. I’m so happy for you that this all got sorted out so well, I really am.””Thanks”. she repeated dryly. “Good bye Gary.” she added.”Oh right, well, good bye Leann. Thanks for calling and letting me know the good news.””You’re welcome Gary. Good bye.” and with that, Leann put the phone down heavily. She didn’t want to go back to that place. But how long would it take her to write a book and get it published? Months? Years, maybe? Leann sighed heavily.

“We need to find two thousand dollars” David announced suddenly.Leann looked up from her book, “We need to what? Why?””Two thousand dollars.” David repeated breathlessly. He was holding a letter from Grey, Galloway, and Hunt – Solicitors. “We need it for Galloway. His list of costs thing has just arrived, and we need to cough up. By next Wednesday.”Leann sat back in her chair, and ran her hands through her hair “Shit.” she muttered.”Yeah.” David agreed, pulling out the chair next to her, and falling heavily into it. “Two thousand dollars. And you don’t have a job.””Don’t I know it.” Leann said drily. “I could probably ask Mum and Dad.” she made a face, the idea was less than appealing.”Yeah, I could probably ask my Dad for something. Tell you what,” David said, “Why don’t we ask my Dad for a grand, and your folks for another grand?””Hmm. That’s an idea. Alright, I guess.” Leann closed he eyes for a second, thinking, and then opened them again and said, “I’ve got an idea, how about we put something on the website? Can we put a PayPal button or something on there?”David looked surprised. The idea had never ocurred to him that readers of their site would be inclined to pay them money to keep it running.Leann continued, “Do you think they love us enough to fund our solicitor’s bills?”David made a face, and said, “I don’t know. They might. I guess there’s no harm in trying.”Leann nodded. “Alright. I’ll set something up, let’s see what happens.”

For the third time, David slipped into the local court room. He found what he now thought of as ‘their’ seats in one corner, and tried to wait patiently for the magistrate to arrive at the bench. Even though he knew this hearing was nothing, that it was just setting a date for the criminal trial, he couldn’t help but jitter, fiddling with the cuffs of his jacket in the stuffy court room, positioning and repositioning his tie. Leann had asked to come, but he had refused her. She had been busy working on the layout and design of her recipe book, in the hope of getting an agent and this hearing was not important. He wanted her there for the next one though, he thought to himself as he waited.
Leann was out in David’s studio using one of the desktop publishing programs on his computer. She was trying to develop a good design for the pages in the recipe book, a delicate balance between words and photographs. Leann was finding that every recipe was different, and required a different layout. Some required many more photographs than she could possibly fit on the page, and others required far fewer. She had spent the last day or so going through every recipe, deciding which ones needed to be in, and which ones didn’t. She had spent a lot of time trying to work out chapter headings and sections. Leann was happy with the work so far. Now she just needed to lay out the main recipes, and turn them into a proof of sorts. If she wanted to avoid going back to work at Infologic, then she needed to get something happening on the recipe book instead, she had decided. She finished the recipe she was working on, sent it to the big colour printer next to her, and opened a new file to begin on the next. As she did, she wondered briefly if David had been seen by the magistrate yet, and been given a date for the hearing. She wondered when this chapter of their life was going to be over.

21 May 2010
Welcome to the Boycott United Foods Website! This website has been created by a small group of concerned citizens. Do you buy United Foods products? You probably do. They make popular meal bases, quick cooking sauces, and a range of other products that Australians have been buying and using for over twenty years. Unfortunately, this household name has not only been supplying Australians with cooking sauces, but they’ve also been lying to us. How have they lied? United Foods have been using the work of a small independent Aussie photographer on their packaging. Good for the artist, you might say. But the problem is that they stole these photographs from the artists’ website. The artist was not asked if their photographs could be used. The artist was not told that their photographs were going to be used, or what they were going to be used for. The artist has not been paid by United Foods, or given any kind of recognition.
In short, United Foods have stolen the work of a small independent artist.
Let’s send a message to United Foods that they can’t ignore. Next time you go shopping, buy a different brand instead. Not only will you be sending a message to United Foods that Australians will not accept big business stealing from small artists, but you will be part of a grass roots movement that can prove the power of a small number of dedicated individuals.
Have United Foods hurt you in some way? Have they stolen from you, lied, or acted dishonestly? Why not tell us about it, and then tell your friends about this website.
In order to protect small artists’ rights, BOYCOTT UNITED FOODS.
Email: boycottunitedfoods@gmail.comTwitter: @boycottunitedfoods

“Hi, I was hoping to be able to speak to Leann Roberts please?””That’s me.” Leann answered.”Oh, hi Leann. It’s Beth from HR at Infologic Systems. How are you?” the young voice on the telephone asked.”Fine thanks, Beth. I was expecting your call a week ago.””Yes, sorry about that, Leann. It took us a while to sort everything out.””Lucky I haven’t been off work without pay for the past two months, then, huh?” Leann asked sarcastically.Beth cleared her throat awkwardly, and changed the subject, “I wanted to discuss your new start date with you, Leann.”Leann waited.”We can have you start on the first of November. How does that sound?””That’s a month away!” Leann exploded in surprise, “I’ve been off for two months and the best you can do is pick a start date another month in the future? What the hell are you lot on? I can go out and get a whole new job in that time!””I’m sorry, Leann …” Beth began.”No you’re bloody well not!” Leann interrupted. “You terminated my employment didn’t you?” Leann didn’t wait for an answer before continuing, “You terminated my employment the day that United Foods slapped that farce of an AVO on me, and now you don’t even have the guts to stand up and tell me that’s what you’ve done! You don’t have the guts to tell me that you didn’t trust me. Well, you know what, Beth?” she took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and wondered if she was doing the right thing only briefly before she spurted it out, “You know what? I don’t want your stinking job anyway. Go jump.” she hung up the phone, trembling slightly, although she suddenly felt an amazing sense of elation. She didn’t know how David was going to take it, but she would just have to sort that out when it happened. In the meantime, she was free to work on her recipe book. And she had better get started on finding an agent for it, or they would be in all kinds of serious trouble before the end of the year, she thought grimly.

Leann looked up from her meal and asked suddenly, “What happens if they don’t deliver the documents?””The police?” David asked.”Yeah. What happens if the police don’t deliver the documents to us? I mean, here it is the twentieth of October, the hearing is on the twenty-fifth …” she trailed off.David nodded thoughtfully, “Well, I don’t know. I guess they could hand them to us the morning of the hearing, in theory. As long as it’s before the court date.””That’s bullshit.” Leann said softly. Being angry at the police and the court system was starting to get tiring.”Although, I would imagine that Galloway would put up a pretty big stink if they tried it. He would want to have time to go through everything.”Leann sighed, “So, in other words, they hand the documents over late, Galloway asks for more time, the case gets adjourned, and next thing you know the whole problem rolls into next year and we keep on going. Where does it stop, David? Where do we get off this ride? I’m sick of it, and I don’t want to play any more.”David stood, and wrapped his arms around her in her seat. She held him around his waist, and rested her face against his belt buckle. “I’m tired, David.” she said softly.”Me too, Baby. Me too.”
David was washing up after dinner, and Leann was making mugs of tea when a knock came on the door. Activity in the kitchen ceased, and they looked at each other, questioning.”I’ll go.” David said, wiping his hands on the tea towel, and hurrying down the hallway to the front door. Leann followed him, only two steps behind.David opened the door, only to see yet another police officer.”Mister Forrest?””That’s me.” David said tiredly, “What do you have this time?””Just some documents, Sir.” he said politely, handing over a sealed manila envelope.David raised his eyebrows, as though the police officer had offended him by not serving him with some new criminal charges. “Right, okay then. Thanks.” he said, and went to close the door.”Sir?” the police officer interrupted, stepping forward slightly to stop the door from closing completely.David opened the door again, frowned, and asked “Yes?”.The young officer frowned, his brow wrinkling as though he was trying to find the words to say something he knew he probably shouldn’t be saying. “Sir … ” he stammered, “I just wanted to say good luck for the hearing on Monday.” Within moments, and without a goodbye, he had turned and practically flown down the path. He jumped in the car and gunned it out into the street.David closed the door slowly, and turned around to Leann, “Now that was weird …” he said slowly.Leann nodded, “I don’t think he’s going to stay in the police force for very long, somehow.” she observed.

Galloway began piling the mess of papers back up into a neat bundle, and stuffed them back into the manila envelope. “We-elll …” he said. “I don’t think we will perform too badly on Monday, David. I am very glad you have those images printed up and analysed so neatly. To recapitulate our argument before you leave, I do not know if you will be permitted to use the images on your … ahhh … website. But the main ruling we are asking the magistrate for, is that the complainant withdraw the images from their packaging. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that they will remove the images with expedience, but that must be our most pressing request.” He looked questioningly over his glasses at David, who nodded. “Are you considering a police complaint?” he asked suddnely.David looked at Leann, who looked just as confused as he felt.”Can we?” Leann asked the solicitor.”Oh, of course you can, Ms Roberts.” he said with a little chuckle, “Of course you can. In fact, I would suggest you do, regardless of the outcome of the case.””What would a police complaint achieve?” David asked, scepticism clear in his voice. “If the case has already been tried, then what effect would complaining have? Even if the case turns out badly for us, a police complaint won’t change that outcome. Would it?””Probably not.” Galloway conceded. “But at least it could stop it happening to some other person, further down the line.” he paused, apaprently deep in thought, and David and Leann looked at each other, both considering the prospect that Galloway had a social conscience. Galloway shook himself suddenly, and handed the envelope back to David. “Anyway.” he said finally, rising from his chair and holding out his hand, “Good day. I’ll see you in court on Monday.”

14 May 2010
This might seem a little off-topic for this blog, and I must confess that it is – in many ways. I don’t tend to buy pre-made sauces of the variety that United Foods creates, but I know that many of you out there would at least be familiar with them. Recently, it seems, United Foods have undergone a brand redesign, and in doing so they have added new images to their entire product range. If you are a regular – or even only semi-regular – reader of this blog, then it might interest you to head out to the sauces section of your local supermarket in the next few days. Check out the images they’ve used. Seem familiar? They ought to. Every single image has been stolen off this blog.
We went down to our local supermarket after hearing about this, and bought as many different United Foods packets as we could find, and then pulled out David’s original photos. United Foods have digitally altered a few of them (badly, we might add), but all are still very much recognisable as David’s photographs, and all have at some point been displayed on this website.
We are furious about this. We run a very small private operation out of our own home, producing and selling these photographs, and their acoompanying recipes. A large company like United Foods have the resources to be able to produe their own photographs, yet they decide to steal someone elses. Naturally, we wrote to them about their use of the images, but, like the cowards they are, they have not responded.
All we want is for United Foods to either recognise David as the artist, or remove the photos. Hey, both would be nice. In the meantime, we’ll continue writing awful things about them, and making sure we tell everyone we meet what United Foods is like. We suggest you do the same.

David was sitting at the dining room table, surrounded by paperwork from the case. Galloway had not inspired a terrible amount of confidence, and he wanted to be sure that he understood the nuances of the case completely. He was wondering if the solicitor had missed something, if there was some angle that they could approach it from, to guarantee a good result. He had spent a lot of time looking up the exact wording of the legislation in online legal databases, and he was beginning to get to a point where he felt as though he knew the case better than Galloway ever could. After all, David had been living and breathing this for months, but Galloway had probably dozens of cases to deal with on a daily basis.
David heard Leann come in before he saw her. She gave out a big whoop as she walked in the door, and as she swept around the corner and in to the dining room, she threw a handful of mail on top of David’s cleanly organised paperwork, and then wrapped him into a bear hug.”I’ve got an agent!” she crowed, releasing him from her clutches and dropping into the dining room chair next to him.”You’ve … what?” David stammered, confused by the sudden changed of topic from what he’d been so deeply engrossed in.”An agent!” she sid airily, flapping a piece of paper in the air. She swivelled sideways in her seat and put her bare feet up on David’s lap. She was grinnning like a loon.”A real agent? For the recipe book? Already?””We-ell. They haven’t exactly agreed to take me on as a client yet … in so many words. But they are interested in the book, and they want to meet up with me next week.”David was stunned, “Wow. That was really fast. I thought you’d be chasing an agent for years.””So did I.” Leann agreed, her voice slightly less flippant. “But it’s a good book, David. I’m really glad you made me do it. And I guess the reality is that a publisher could still be years away. Just because an agent takes it on doesn’t mean they’ll be able to sell it.””Pfff.” David responded dismissively, “It will be a hell of a lot quicker with an agent than trying to convince someone to publish it on your own.”Leann nodded, pleased with herself, “Yeah, it will.” she agreed. “I can’t wait!”David grinned. It was the happiest he’d seen Leann in a long time.
Eventually, over a prawn laksa, the discussion turned back to the court case. They turned the argument around, picked it apart, and re-assembled it, looking for arguments and loopholes. They bickered over putting in a police complaint. Leann wanted to do it, David thought it would be a waste of effort with very little result. When it was all boiled down, they realised that they really didn’t know whether they were going to succeed in court or not. The photographs were David’s, that much was clear, but what was on trial was whether or not David had acted improperly by publically shaming United Foods. They considered arguing that Leann had been the one to actually compose and post most of the messages, but then realised that it would only make them charge Leann instead, prolonging the agony. In the end, they realised that they had to fight this case on its merits. They had not at any point threatened violence against United Foods, but they had incited people to boycott their products, meaning that they had – with malice aforethought – actively damaged United Foods’ income stream. David had been poring over United Foods financial statements for the past week, trying to work out if they had actually shown any noticeable impact from the Boycott United Foods website. There was a dip in sales about a month after the site went live, but it was impossible to prove that it was related. He had no doubt that United Foods would have the sort of corporate lawyers that could do so, though.

“Are you going to court tomorrow, she how the legal eagles perform?” Wendy was leaning against the glass fronted office building, lighting a cigarette. It was dark, although the evening was mild. Her briefcase was between her feet on the concrete path. When the cigarette was lit, she took a deep breath as though her life depended on it, picked up her briefcase, and fell into step beside Brendan as they wandered to the car park.”I don’t know.” Brendan said eventually, “I’m curious to find out what’s going to happen, but I’m not sure that I want to be there if it goes badly.”Wendy nodded, and blew smoke through her nostrils. Brendan waved the tendrils away from his own face with a flapping hand. “I wish you wouldn’t do that.” he said.”Sorry. I’m nearly done with this one anyway.” She took another deep drag, inspected the butt in her fingers, then dropped it on the ground, and stepped on it. She turned her head to blow the smoke, but it blew back to Brendan anyway. He tried not to cough.”Anyway, are you going?” he asked.”Yeah, I might.” she said, “What am I going to do otherwise? Sit around in the office drinking coffee and trying not to think about it?”Brendan laughed. “Yeah, I guess so. Well, I’m not sure still. I might send you a message in the morning, let you know whether I’ll be there or not. If you’re there, then you can just send me a message when you know the outcome, maybe. If you wouldn’t mind of course.””Of course not.” She answered. They had reached the carprk, and Brendan opened the pedestrian gate for Wendy to go through first. “Such a gentleman.” she commented archly.”It’ss my pleasure, madame.” he responded.”Madmesoille, if you please.” she said, mocking him.Brendan laughed, “You know, if you weren’t a smoker, I’d probably ask you out to dinner or something.” he said suddenly.She turned and looked him in the eye, “And if you weren’t a co-worker, I’d probably say yes.” she responded archly. With that, she clicked the remote in her hand, her car beeped, and she opened the driver’s side door, “See you tomorrow!” she called, before getting it and starting the ignition.

For the fourth time, they entered the court room. They were starting to recognise some of the solicitors besides their own, and it was beginning to bother Leann immensely. She didn’t want to be the sort of person who knew intimately how courts worked, who sat where, what the protocols were, and how to address the magistrate. She consoled herself with the idea that at least it was nearly all over. This should be the last time they had to do this. And with any luck, it would be a good verdict, and they could walk away with their heads held high, never to return.
This occasion differed from the previous three times. They didn’t have to sit through the endless drunk driving and minor offense cases, which was good in some ways, although Leann had somewhat enjoyed the voyeuristic nature of watching those cases in the past. This time they had an allocated period of three hours, which meant no waiting around for their turn on the list of cases. Leann waited in the rank and file of the spectator seats, while David sat in the hot seat behind Galloway. United Foods was represented by not just one lawyer, but a tribe of them. Five homogeneous looking young men in black suits and starched white shirts. Their neat hair was cut short and combed flat. Their slim black briefcases sat sedately at their sides, and their pink legal notepads lay open and ready to be written on with expensive pens. The only point of differentiation between them appeared to be their choice of writing instrument – Mont Blanc and Parker in gold and silver inlay, names and initials engraved on their edges. All different, but in a startlingly similar way. Leann sighed at the legal clout they represented, and her stomach sank.
The court clerk entered with a flurry, and everyone bustled to their feet for the imminent arrival of the magistrate. Leann stood, although it felt as though her stomach remained seated. The magistrate sat, rapped her gavel, and with a grunt, ordered everyone to sit. They did. The solicitors started shuffling papers, the pink note pads were marred, the magistrate ordered the trial to start, and their final day in court was underway. Leann sat back and let it wash over her.

10 May 2010
We had a bit of a nasty shock today. Leann got a phone call from her Mum. But that’s not what did it. She called to tell us that she had seen United Foods new packaging, and the photograph on the packet she had bought matched the photograph on the apron we had given her for her birthday. And she was right. We went down to the shops ourselves and bought all the packets we could find. Every single one of them bore one of David’s photographs.
Unfortunately, congratulations are not in order. David has not been commissioned by United Foods to produce their packaging photography … much to our chagrin, of course.
At this stage, we are assuming that someone in United Foods has bungled. We’ve written them a letter about the situation and are waiting to hear back from them. Fingers crossed they’ll either remove the images since they don’t own them, or compensate us (and gee, wouldn’t that be nice!). In the meantime, watch this space to find out what’s going on.
To try and avoid this happening again, we have gone through and water marked all images on this site, including those in the previews for products in the online store. Naturally, the actual products you receive in the mail will have the water mark removed. If you want to use any of the images available on the site, then please contact us for an original high-resolution version. If you just want to use an image on your own site, then leave the water mark in place, acknowledge David Forrest as the photographer, and we would also appreciate a link back to this site.
Now, on to the recipes. Today we have added a chicken parmiagiana recipe. It’s a simple Italian classic, and you can change it around to suit you in so many different ways. I prefer a lightly crumbed schnitzel with a really spicy tomato sauce, but feel free to mix it up however you like …

“In the matter of United Foods Proprietary Limited v David Andrew Forrest, against the charge of Section 474.17 of the Criminal Code Act “Using a carriage service to menace, harass, or offend”, I find the defendant …”Leann caught and held her breath.”Guilty. Against the charge of Section 545B of the Crimes Act “Using intimidation or violence to unlawfully influence a person”, I find the defendant … Not guilty.”She let her breath out in a rush. She didn’t know whether to cry or laugh. Had they won or lost? She locked eyes with David across the court room. He looked as confused as she felt.The magistrate went on, “The defendant, Mister Forrest,” she said, eyeing him from her seat high up on the bench, “acted inappropriately. The emails and website posts were inflammatory and caustic. The company has provided evidence that they have indeed been negatively effected by the actions of Mister Forrest and his partner Ms Roberts.: The magistrate paused slightly, and David shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Every single on of the solicitors was scribbling madly, heads down. “However, ” the magistrate continued suddenly, “United Foods Proprietary Limited have also acted extremely inappropriately. The photographs we have seen here today,” she waved a hand towards the table where the body of evidence was collected, having served its purpose in the earlier arguments, “are very clearly the work of the defendant, and United Foods have not been able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they were ever granted permission to use them on their products.”Leann noticed a sly smile spreading on David’s face, though his head was bent slightly.”To that end, I am making the following orders: Mister Forrest is under a good behaviour bond, for a period of twelve months. Mister Forrest, I strongly suggest you temper your anger in future correspondence, and choose your words more wisely in the future. United Foods must remove the images used without permission. I understand that the images are already in circualtion, and on supermarket shelves. You have twelve months to remove the images from all packaging in all retail locations and replace them with permitted images. I am also requesting that United Foods pay Mister Forrest the sum of five hundred thousand dollars in compensation for the use of his images.” The magistrate gave a sharp rap of her gavel, and stood abruptly. The clerk also scurried to her feet and bawled, “All rise!”Leann sat stunned, and it was only when those around her were already standing that she managed to struggle to her feet also. She felt as though they had won the lottery. She tried to see David through the standing throng, but couldn’t spot him. People were mingling around, collecting bags and papers. She picked up her handbag and hurried through the court room, and towards the door. She finally caught up with him standing outside searching the crowd, and she threw her arms around his neck. She had no words, but both of them wore grins of triumph.

“They’ve shut the Boycott United Foods site down.””Competely?” Brendan asked.”Yep. It’s black. Nothing but a 404 Not Found error when you put in the address.”Brendan smiled into the phone. “Thanks Wendy. That’s great news.”

Leann walked into the glass fronted building, wearing a suit that was starting to see more wear than it had in almost a decade. She was nervous, but in a much better way than any of the previous times she had worn this suit. Her heels clicked loudly on the marble floors as she crossed the expanse of the foyer, heading for the bank of elevtors on the other side. She punched the button to go up, and waited mere seconds before one of the elevator doors gave a grand sounding “bong!” and neatly camoflouged arrows illuminated. She walked to the lit elevator shaft, just as the cool metallic doors slid poen to reveal a mirrored elevator car. It was empty. The lack of people in this massive expanse of building was starting to disconcert her. It was although the entire building had been deserted for a fire drill or something minutes before she arrived. There was no sense of industry gonig on behind closed doors, just an overwhelming sense of emptiness. She entered the car, found the button for the twenty third floor, and as she was whisked upwards into the building, checked her hair in the mirrored walls. She gave her reflection a smile, and noticed how nervous she felt. Suddenly, the elevator bounced slightly, and the doors slid open. She stepped out oin to the hall way and her heels sank into the deep carpet, making it difficult to walk with anything less than a goose step. She felt ridiculous, and hugged her bulky proof copy of her recipe book a little closer to her stomach, as though it would protect her. She found the door for French and Freedman Literary Agents, and pushed the door. A receptionist glared at her loftily, and she nervously announced herself. She was told to take a seat, and she collapsed into a deep lounge chair tin the waiting area. She sank so far into the soft armchair that she wondered if she would ever get out again. What was eith the ultra soft furnishings, she wondered to herself, grabbing the single Vogue magazine on the glass coffee table, and trying to look as though she hung out at literary agents’ offices all the time.
“Ms Roberts?” a soft voice called, and Leann looked up from the magazine to see a tall woman in a simple black shift dress and a string of pearls. The woman smiled, and Leann attempted to struggle out of the too soft lounge chair. By he time she was upright, and had straigthened her suit out, the woman had disappeared down a corridor. Leann hurried after her, feeling foolish. The woman – who Leann assumed to be Gail French, Literary Agent – was waiting by an open door for Leann to catch up. As she rounded the corner, she smiled. Leann smiled back.”Hi Leann.” she said, following her into the vast office, directing her to another white leather lounge chair by a plate glass window with a stunning view over Sydney Harbour, the famous bridge just visible off to the left, the opera house shrouded in early morning haze barely notceable behind it. “I’m Gail French, it’s lovely to meet you.” Gail extended a delicate hand, and Leann shook it. Despite her fragile appearance, her handshake was strong. It was a handshake that clearly said she meant business.”Likewise.” Leann responded, as she sat down. This lounge chair, Leann noticed wih relief. not as soft as the previous one, and much more comfortable. She perched on the edge of it, watching as Gail prepared a drink at the small bar in a corner of the offie. “Would you like something?” sh asked.”Oh, just water, thanks.”Leann watched as she filled two tall glasses with ice, topped them up with water from a thin silver faucet, and then brought them back to the small glass-topped table between the two lounges. Gail settled into the other couch, took a small sip, resettled the glass, and said, “I love your recipe book.””Oh, um.” Leann mumbled, thrown off guard at the other woman’s directness, “Um. Thanks.” she smiled.Gail reached out a hand, a large glittering stone dripping from her forefinger and Leann handed her the proof copy of the recipe book shead been clutching. Gail flipped through the pages very delicately, a small smile flitting across her face as she turned each leaf. “Yes, this is wonderful. It’s just wonderful.” she muttered softly to herself, before looking up again, and addressing Leann directly. “You have a real talent, here Leann. You and … your partner … what is his name, again, sorry?””David.” Leann said, “David Forrest.””David Forrest.” Gail repeated softly. “Yes, you and David have put together something really wonderful here. I read about you in the Sydney Morning Herald months ago, you know. You said something then about not being interested in publishing a recipe book. What made you change your  mind?”Leann’s mind whirred, trying to think of an answer appropriate to this woman, and to their current surroundings, “I … um … I decided that if I could just publish the recipe book, then I wouldn’t have to continue my part time work any longer. We decided to make the website and the recipe book into a full time activity.” She smiled to herself, yes, that sounded pretty good, she though.Gail must have thought so too, because she smiled, “That’s excellent. I’m very glad you changed your mind. I was quite upset that you wouldn’t be publishing when I read about it, I think you both have a lot of talent, and what you have put together here is really quite marvellous.”Leann beamed, “Gee. Um. Thanks.””Now, I have two or three friends that I think I would like to send this to. There is going to be a lot of interest in this work so we need to play our hand carefully, and only release to the people that we know are going to be sensible with it. Ideally, we will release it to just a select few publishing houses, and create a little … ah … bidding war, shall we say, and try and get you the biggest advance possible.”Leann gaped.

Galloway stared at them from across his desk yet again. This time, though, he was smiling.”Congratulations.” he said, looking from David to Leann, and back again. “I think that went very satisfactorily, don’t you?” he asked.David and Leann both nodded enthusiastically.”Yes, it was a very good result. A wonderful result, indeed.” Galloway nodded to himself.  “But now we must decide what to do with the web site for the future, do you agree?”Leann frowned slightly, “What about it? Can’t we just fire it all up again to how it was before?”Galloway chuckled softly, “Well, I guess you could. But I certainly would not recommend that course of action.””Why not?” Leann asked.”Well, as much fun as this has been, Leann, and as much as I have enjoyed having you both as clients, I am not sure it is an activity that you would both like to repeat, is it?””Oh.” Leann said shortly. “Yeah, I can see your point. But what can we do about it? You can’t be going to tell us that we just can’t have any pictures on the site? That’s what makes the site special, the photos. Without them, it’s just another recipe blog.”David nodded his agreement.Galloway chuckled again, much to Leann’s irritation, and said, “No, you can still have the photographs up there. I would suggest that you consider removing the photographs that United Foods er … stole, though.” he raised a hand to ward off Leann’s protestations, “Just until the pictures have been removed from the products, you understand, not indefinitely.”David’s face fell. The photographs that United Foods had used were some of the best on the site, and many were integrated into header and other brand images. The whole look of the site would need to change. “I’m not sure that that’s going to work so well, Gall … Mitchell. I mean, those photos are pretty important to the look of the site.”Galloway waved his hand again, dismissively, “Don’t be silly, David. People redesign web sites all the time. Of course, you will have to go through and make sure everything is watermarked. There’s also some technical … ah … technical trickery that you can do to stop people being able to simply save the images off the website and on to their computers. I will also draft up a copyright notice for you to display prominently on every page.  You might also want visitors to the site to go through a legal disclaimer that they need to agree to before being able to enter the site at all. Now, about the shop …”Leann waited, her stomach sinking.Galloway continued, “The onine shop is where the problem is, unfortunatley. I think you are going to have to close the shop section of the store, and discontinue sales. It is too easy for customers at the online shop to see images, save them, and re-use them.” Galloway stopped talking, and looked up at them.Both Leann and David were grim.”You won the court case this time.” Galloway stated, “But you might not be so lucky next time.” His point was clear.
When they got home, Leann went straight to the computer, and shut down the online store on the website. They decided to wait a few days to decide what to do with the rest of the site.

30 April 2010
First of all, welcome to all our new readers! It is simply wonderful to have you along. We were recently written about in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Food and Wine Section, and I have to say we’ve been absolutely overwhelmed by the response to the article. If you’ve never been here before, we are Leann and David. Leann creates foody goodness in her kitchen in suburban Sydney, and David takes photographs of them. The emphasis is on simple food that you can cook yourself at home with fresh ingredients from the supermarket. No fancy stuff that you need to go to a specialty store for, or spend a whole lot of money on. This is stuff that you can make when you get home from work and still have people think you are a culinary genius. David’s photography brings each step in the process to life, and shows you exactly how wonderful things can look without going through a process that takes hours and requires a degree in culinary artistry.
We hope you enjoy the recipes, we try to post up a new recipe at least twice a week, more if we can. If there’s something in particular that you would love a recipe for, drop us an emai at recipes@leanndavid.com.
You might also notice that we have a shop. In there you can buy recipe cards featuring David’s photography and Leann’s recipes. You can also buy some of David’s more popular photographs as prints, or on various merchandise items. Our aprons are a favourite. We suggest you buy one.

Wendy came flying in to Brendan’s office, and Brendan looked up suddenly from where he was reading his emails.”Brendan, you have to come see this!” she said breathlessly.”See what?” he asked, half rising even as he asked the question.”I’ve just gotten last month’s financial statements from downstairs, and they’re quite remrkable. Let me show you.”She grabbed his hand, and pulled him out of the office and into the conference room next door. She had papers strewn across two of the dining tables in there. Some of them were highlighted in great swathes of yellow, others had sticky notes attached to them, with scribbled comments in Wendy’s messy hands.”What’s going on?” Brendan asked again, boggling at the mess of papers around him.”Check this out,” Wendy said excitedly, and started jabbing at different columns on different bits of paper.”Stop showing me, Wendy.” Brendan said, irritated, and use words, please. I don’t understand an of this stuff”.Wendy took a deep breath, and tried to calm her excitement down a little. She struggled to find the right words to explain what was going on, but eventually she managed to do it. Breathlessly, and emphatically waving her highlighter to make her points, she started to explain.”When the Boycott United Foods site went live, it brought the figures down, right? Now, a lot of that had to do with the time of year, our sales always struggle a little in the warmer weather because people want to barbecue, not make curries at home. Some of it also had to do with that traditional dip we always see when we have a package change. People look for what they are used to, and when they don’t find it sraight away, they often go elsewhere. Also, it cost us a lot of our budget to get the new packaging designed and printed, so that cut into our revenue as well, which makes the profits look worse.” She took a deep breath, considering where she was going with this, “Okay, so a lot of it we would have seen anyway, but that didn’t account for the whole lot. A lot of it had to do with the Boycott United Foods site. So people were starting to actively stop buying our products. Our competitors all saw slight revenue increases during the month or so that the Boycott site was active abd attracting hits, because the people who didn’t buy our stuff just bought one of our competitor’s prodcusts instead. So then, when the Boycott site went down, we expected to see a slight bounce back in the figures. It wouldn’t be normal for people to bounce back immediately, because some people wouldn’t know about the site going down, and some would still think it’s a good idea. Some people might even have decided they liked our competitiro’s product better, and have decided to stick with it. But this is where it gets weird. After the Boycott site went down, we didn’t just see a bounce back. Our sales actually increased to more than what they were before the Boycott site went live – to more than what they were before we changed the product packaging, even.”Brendan raised his eyebrows, and said, “Really? Why?””Well, that’s the thing,” Wendy continued, “We don’t really know. The best explanation that Finance have got, and I have to agree with them, is that the coverage from the Boycott Site, and the court case, has brand awareness, even though the coverage was largely negatieve.””But that doesn’t make sense.” Brendan argued.”No, it doesn’t, does it? But what else could it be?”Brendan laughed suddenly, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Well, they say that any advertising is good advertising, don’t they?”Wendy laughed too. It was a good day.

“Hello?””Hi, can I speak to Leann Roberts please?””That’s me.” Leann responded.”Hi Leann. This is Geraldine from French and Freedman Literary Agents. I’m calling on behalf of Ms French. I’ll put you through to her office now.””Thanks.” Leann said, as she took a seat on the couch. From experience, she now knew it could take a  while to get put through. She hadn’t decided yet whether it was becaus Geraldine the secretary was useless, or because Gail just didn’t pick up imediately, even when she had asked the call to be placed. As she waited, David wandered in, saw she was on the phne, and raised a questioning eyebrow.Leann covered the speaker with her hand and said, “It’s Gail French. I’m on hold.””Has she heard back from the publisher’s yet?” he asked.”Don’t know yet. I guess I’ll find out.”David nodded, and at that moment the phone in her hand burst into life, “Leann!” Gail piped, her voice sounding flustered.
David watched as Leann became animated, speaking to the agent. After a few “uh-huh’s” Leann’s face went slack suddenly, stunned. Her eyes sought David’s, and he shrugged, wondering what had happened.”You’re kidding?” Leann almost whispered into the phone.David wondered what had happened.Eventually, Leann hung up, but continued to stare at the phone for a few seconds, as though she couldn’t quite believe what news it had just imaprted. She looked up slowly, and said something in a tiny voice.David moved closer, “Sorry, what was that? I couldn’t hear you?””We’ve got a book deal.” she said, only fractionally louder.”Great!” David said, smiling.”They’ve offered us an advance.” Leann said, still not quite believing it herself.”Awesome!” David enthused.”It’s three million dollars.” Leann continued.”Three million … Three million dollars?!” David yelped.Leann nodded slowly, her eyes wide.

30 April 2010
It is my absolute pleasure to announce that our new online store is now open! So many people have asked after poster prints of David’s photography, that we decided to offer a range of our favourites for sale right here on the web site.
Currently, there are ten different images available for purchase, including the one of the chillies in the top banner of this page. Choose your favourite image, and then choose how you would like to have it displayed. You can buy a poster print in four different sizes, with or without a frame. You can also print it on a range of merchandise – aprons, tea towels, coffee mugs, and fridge magnets. Once you have decided, you can pay through Pay Pal, and we’ll get it printed up especially for you to your specifaction, and posted out to you.
And of course, if there’s anything you really want to have, and we haven’t got it available in the store, just email us at merch@leanndavid.com and we’ll do our very best to get it happening for you.
And now, a new recipe for you … this time it’s a traditional lamb roast, complete with timings for vegetables and gravy. Have you ever cooked a roast and ended up woth raw vegetables? Or burnt veggies and meat that’s still raw in the middle? Try it with this method, and you’ll never fail …

“What are we going to do about the blog, Leann?” David asked. They were lying naked in bed, the sheets and blankets kicked off on to the floor. It was a hot night, and a pedestal fan standing at the bottom of the bed blew a cool breeze over their sweating bodies.”I don’t know.” Leann sighed, “I don’t want to think about it at all, to be honest.””Yeah, but we have to. Galloway was on the phone again today, asking me about it.”Leann sighed again. “I don’t want to shut it down, David.””I know, I don’t either. But do we want to make people jump through legal hoops to get to it, either?” David asked pointedly.”No, I don’t. I don’t think its fair for the readers. And what is it really going to do anyway? If people want to steal the images, they’ll find a way to do it. All that stuff that Galloway wants to do to the site will just make it easier to go to court against them. The point is, we’ll still have to go to court, even if it’s trivial to win.”It was David’s turn to sigh, “So, we either shut the site down and probably never have to go back to court, or we make our readers go through endless legal disclaimers and still maybe end up back there.””What a choice, huh?” Leann said dryly, turning to David beside her.”I don’t think we have a choice at all.” David replied, wrapping his arms around her naked form. “I think we have to shut it down, Baby.”Leann nodded, suddenly unable to speak. A single tear rolled down her cheek.

Leann had been out doing food shopping, and when she walked in, there was a large express post bag sitting on the kitchen table. Her name was written on it in big black letters, above their address. She put down the shopping bags, and hurriedly put the groceries away in the fridge and cupboards. She set the kettle on to boil, foud a mug and slipped a teabag in to it, and then wandered over to get the parcel, burning with curiosity. It was heavy, she realised. She grabbed the kitchen shears, and slit open the heavy duty envelope. From the padded interior, a hefty book slid out, and she immediately recognised it and grinned. “Photographic Adventures Through Slow Food” was the title emblazoned on the front, above a stunning photograph of chillies in one of Leann’s grandmothers’  heirloom china bowls. In smaller writing, at the bottom of the cover, was embossed “Recipes by Leann Roberts. Photography by David Forrest”.
At that moment, the doorbell rang, and she went to the door, still clutching the first real copy of her recipe book. It was a man from a transport company, a white box at his feet. He held out an electronic device for her to sign, smiled, and then offered to bring it in for her. “It’s pretty heavy.” he said, “Been ordering house bricks, eh?”Leann had no answer, she didn’t know what it was. She allowed the delivery man to bring it into the kitchen for her, and then thanked him as he left.She broke open the tape holding the box, and lifted off the lid. It was another twenty copies of the book. She laughed out loud, and reached for the phone to call everyone she knew.

Brendan struggled out of bed at eight o’clock, and dragged himself through a shower. He shaved carefully, squinting at his reflection in the steamed mirror, and then pulled his best suit out of the wardrobe and forced himself into it. He checked his reflection in the mirror, resolutely ignored the shadows under his eyes, and grabbed his wallet, car keys, and two mobile phones off the kitchen table. He had an important meeting to get to.
In the office, Brendan bypassed the fourteenth floor, and went directly to the top of the building. He gave his name to the personal assistant in the foyer, and subjected himself to a careful but surreptitious inspection by the young man. He seemed to have passed some unwritten examination, and eventually he was granted access to the inner sanctum of the top floor. Burgundy carpet with a ridiculously thick pile met his black loafers, and made him realise that they were seriously overdue for a polish. He straightened his tie, adjusted his jacket, and continued down to the meeting room at the end of the corridor, where Dan Grayson sat languidly at a glass topped table, similar to the one in Brendan’s own office. The chief executive officer was resting back in the lounge chair, his legs crossed in front him, and one arm slung casually across the back of the chair. His jacket was unbuttoned, and hang down to his sides, exposing a perfect white, perfectly pressed, collared business shirt. He didn’t smile as Brendan entered, but gave a slight nod to indicate the chair across from him.”Good morning Mister Grayson” Brendan said nervously as he sat.”Good morning Brendan.” Grayson said officiously. Suddenly, he sat up straight with the grace of a much younger man, and lent forward towards Brendan, his elbows on his knees. “How are you Brendan?” he asked, as though he were actually interested to know.”Ah, fine, thanks.” Brendan answered, uncertain what was required of him.”Bit tired?” Grayson asked. There was no concern in his voice, he just wanted to know the facts.”Um, yes. A little bit. I’ve been working some long hours recently.” This Brendan said with just a hint of pride. He wanted to prove to his boss that he had been putting in the hard work for the company, not out partying or whatever it was other people did.Grayson nodded. “Well, you should be. You’ve been working hard.”Brendan nodded. He was having trouble working out what this was all about, where it was going.”Well, despite that bloody bleeding heart whatever his name was … Forrest, wasn’t it? I think you’ve done a marvellous job, Brendan.”Brendan was struck. He smiled and gave a little nod, but couldn’t think what to say, so he kept his mouth shut.”You had a brilliant idea for the redesign, and the Boycott United Foods web site nonsense actually ended increasing our revenue in the end. If I didn’t know better, I’d say you staged the whole thing yourself. It got hairy there for a few months, but you pulled us through., Brendan. Well done. And thanks” Grayson stuck his hand out suddenly.Brendan took the older man’s hand, pumped it limply, and stammered out, “You’re … You’re welcome. Mister Grayson. Thank you”Grayson retrieved his hand, and gave an officious nod, and stood up. “I’ve asked the HR woman to sort you out a pay rise. You’ll need to speak to her about it. Oh, and there’ll be a good Christmas Bonus for you, too. Take some time off, why don’t you? Go on a holiday.”Brendan stood also, nodded, thanked him again, and moved to leave the room.As the door closed behind him, Grayson added to the empty meeting space, “And get some sleep you dumb bastard. You look like shit.”

Leann watched their reflections in the shop windows as they walked past, their effigies liquid and wrinkled in the glass. She pondered the past few months, reflecting on everything that had happened, how far they had come, the changes that had happened since that warm day in early April. She recalled lying in bed, lost in afterglow when the idea struck her to start a blog with her recipes and David’s photographs. How could she ever have guessed that they would end up treading the path they did. It was all so heady and exciting at first, and it all went south so very quickly. She wondered if they would have been better off not starting the blog in the first place, and couldn’t decide. She had learned a lot in the process – they both had. It was also the only thing that had made them sucessful in terms of both David’s photography, and her cook book. If it hadn’t been for the blog and the subsequent legal mess that they found themselves in, the book would never have become a reality. She sighed, and held David a little tighter. It had been a tough year, but they had come out the other side, relatively unscathed, and the wiser for their journey.
David was lost in his own thoughts too, when he noticed Grace walking down the street towards them. He panicked at first, and then gave her a quick nervous smile as she got closer. She was walking with a man by her side, and as they approached, she grabbed his hand and glared at David as though he had challenged her right to be there with someone else. He dropped his head.”Wasn’t that Grace? The product placement woman?” Leann asked suddenly.David looked up, startled, “Uh, yeah. Yeah it was””She didn’t look very happy.” Leann observed.”No. No, she didn’t, did she?” David replied thoughtfully. He leaned in towards Leann suddenly and said, “I love you, Leann.”Leann laughed, “I love you too, David”.

4 April 2010
Welcome to our new site – LEanndAVID.com. Here, we hope to put up some of our favourite recipes, complete with photographs for every step.
Leann cooks, David takes photographs. It was a natural progression. Over the next few weeks I’ll be posting up some of my favourite recipes. I’d love for you to come along and try them, and let me know what you think.
Bon Appetit!
<div style=”text-align: center;”>~*~</div>


Leave a comment

Ebb and Flow

I am sitting on the beach, looking out over the water. The sand I am sitting on is just a blanket of darkness, still slightly warm to the touch from the heat it absorbed through the day. I am not sure of the time, but I am aware somehow that it is late – well after midnight. I have been here for hours now, but I do not feel lonely, or bored. Tonight is different, I don’t feel quite here somehow. I feel empty, yet awash in emotion. My gaze has been fixed on the waves rolling into the beach. I can see the vague glow of white caps on the black waves as they roll onto the sand, and can see the darker impression they leave on the sand as the ocean sucks them back to its inky depths. I can see the body floating in the shallows almost directly in front of me. Strangely, I’m not shocked. Perhaps that is the reason I am here – to see the corpse rolling in the shallow waves, being pushed and pulled in the tidal flow. I know without moving closer that it is a woman and I can see ragged clothing swirling in the dark water. She is nothing more than a darker shadow in the dark water from where I sit, but I see all this in living colour in my mind’s eye. She is wearing black loose fitting pants, a blouse made of some silky fabric – also black but with an intricate pattern of leaves and flowers picked out in red thread. Her feet are bare, the skin wrinkled and pale. Her face is turned away from me, but her hair is a dark swirl in the water and I know her features as I know my own.
This place holds significance for me, although I have yet to discover what that significance is. Every time I drive out of this town, I see the coastline dropping away behind me and I heave a sigh of relief – I’m free again. Sometimes I will leave for months or years at a time. I start to forget about the water, the sand, the hamlet town. And I feel as though I’m picking up the pieces again and settling into a routine, a lovely new life. And then the phone will ring, a letter will arrive, something will happen and before I know it I am hauled back here and I find myself on this beach again, trying to work out what happened, and why I’m back.
I left last time because I wanted to travel north. The real reason I left was to get away from this part of the coastline and the hold it exerts on me. I left behind a good job, a handful of friends, a rented  flat on the beach, and a boyfriend. He had grand plans of us setting up house together when I got back, and it was the night before I left that I finally told him I had no intention of returning. He was dumbfounded, but he seemed to take it well. He had left my flat after a big, chaste hug and I congratulated myself on how well I had handled it.
The next day I had gotten in my car. It was packed with a suitcase and not a whole lot more, the furniture had stayed with the flat and the rest had been sold or given away. As I drove out of the town I felt that all too familiar wave of freedom and relief roll over me – I was out again. The sea started to release its clutches as I headed further inland and, once out of sight of the coastline, I turned right and headed north. I had no destination in mind, safe in the knowledge that the place I needed to be was up here somewhere, and that it would let me know when I found it.
I had spent the drive reflecting on the relationship. Once the sound of the waves crashing into the shore had ceased roaring in my head it became so much easier to think. It hadn’t been all bad, in fact most of the time it had been quite good. We got along well, laughed a lot and had rarely argued. His calm at the break up suddenly seemed odd. Like the piece of a jigsaw that fits perfectly, but the picture doesn’t quite match up. I once heard that in every relationship one will always love more than the other. I had been on both sides of the argument – both the giver and receiver of the lion’s share of love. This time I had well and truly been the receiver. If I had to pin down the balance, it would be somewhere around 80/20. He never seemed to notice, seemed grateful for every throwaway “I love you” I offered. At times I felt guilty, because the imbalance seemed so obvious to me. Other times I felt angry, because he must have been either stupid or blind not to recognise it himself. I could not understand his motivation for wanting to be in relationship that was so lopsided, but who was I to stop him – after all, he never complained.
Eventually I arrived in a city. Not a big one, but big enough for me to hide. Life started to settle again. I felt my breath start to come easier now that it wasn’t hampered by the coastal humidity in the air. I started to relax. I even let myself believe for a little while that I had made it away from the beach for good this time.
That was six months ago, and now I am back. I came back because in the middle of the night, I got a phone call. A friend here had been pulled into a rip while night surfing and they didn’t find her body for three days. Like all things it washed up eventually though. I promised myself I was coming back for the funeral, and would return to the new life I had begun two thousand kilometres away. As I drove I reflected ruefully on the way that the sea had called me back yet again. Not only had it called me back, but it had taken a friend’s life to do it. The ocean is a tough mistress.
At the funeral I was reasonably dry eyed. There had been a few curious looks from those who wondered where I had been recently, but I was asked no questions, for which I was grateful. Someone said something about a wake at her parent’s house, but I slipped away into the late afternoon, unseen as far as I was aware. I moved the car a few blocks and stopped in the shade of the huge gums in the back of the park, where I knew it was unlikely anyone would drive past and recognise me. I propped the driver’s door open with my foot, and clicked the seat back a bit, trying to work out if I had the energy to just start driving back.
I sat there for maybe half an hour, and as the interior of the car grew hotter in the late afternoon sun, I made the decision I knew I would eventually come to. I closed the door, turned the key in the ignition, and pulled out from under the trees and onto the street. There was a CD in the stereo, and I was happily crooning away with the band when I slowed the car to a halt. I looked up, suddenly confused and anxious, and realised that I had come to the beach. I had intended to drive past and head back without paying homage to this beach. But I could no more stop myself making this visit than I could hold back the tide. Why does this small deserted beach call me so?
I took my shoes off and made my way down the catwalk that led over the dunes. The familiar scratch of the dune grasses attacked my unprotected soles, as though trying to stop me. I paid it no mind, I was fixated on getting down to the water, like an addict waiting for the next hit. And it was an addiction, for me. The beach – this beach – had a story it needed to tell me, and I could never be sure when it was finally going to spill it out. Maybe tonight it would tell me why it holds this attraction over me. Maybe tonight it would tell me why I can’t seem to leave.
By this time, the sun was sinking low in the sky behind me, and my shadow stretched long and dark over the trail in front. As I stepped onto the dry sand at the top of the beach, my shadow wavered and doubled. So it came as no surprise when I heard my name being called softly from behind me. I turned, not afraid but annoyed at having my fix interupted. My old boyfriend came up to me, looped his arm casually around my neck and leaned in close. His scent was woody and warm, with a tangy back bite to it – familiar, yet somehow different from what I remembered.
When he put his head against mine, we stopped walking, and I turned towards him, allowed myself to fold into his body. It was a familiar sensation, and comforting for that, but I felt no longing. I realised at that moment that I hadn’t missed him at all. He whispered how he loved me, how he longed to have me back. He pleaded with me to return and I shook my head. No, I would not return.
I backed away from him, putting my hands up between us, and he started to get angry. It was fully dark now and he raised his fist as though to hit me. I had never seen him raise a hand before and I looked at him in disbelief and surprise before lifting my eyes to his upraised fist. It was then that I saw the knife, and suddenly I identified the tangy scent I had noticed as anger, fear and determination.
I ran. I don’t know where I was running to, only what I was running from. I don’t think I yelled out, and I don’t know why, but for some reason I ran, quickly and silently, towards the water. I threw myself into the waves, felt myself being pulled under, and then the push as I was lifted into the crest. I lifted my head, took a breath, and prepared to be pulled under again. The waves were breathing with me, and the ocean and I danced together for a while, before I felt his body slam into mine. His hands – knifeless now – came around my throat, my face, my chest, my hair, my eyes. They were everywhere and they served to break the delicate balance between myself and the ocean.
Why did I run towards the ocean? I don’t know. The waves have always called to me. In the moment that I started to run, rational thought was suspended, and they exerted their will without my argument for perhaps the first time. And now I sit here on the beach, watching the dead body in the waves. The light is starting to creep into the air. The beach is deserted for now, but soon the early morning surfers will find the body, call the appropriate authorities.
The beach has finally told me why it exerted its pull on me all these years. The ocean has finally told me its story. The beach will be closed for a while while they try and work out what happened. Eventually someone will tow my car away.


Leave a comment

Unrequited Love

He sat in the car. Waiting. Just waiting. His gazed rested on the vista outside of the car, but he didn’t see it. His mind was a blank page. He was just waiting. Shallow little breaths, barely enough to fog in the cold air. Waiting.
Inside, a war. One woman sat in a kitchen chair in the middle of the room. The other, circling slowly as she spoke. The tone was low, but emotions were high as daggers were thrown, parried, sent back, and thrown yet again. The questions, always more questions. The seated woman was tired, but her accuser showed no signs of weariness. Eventually, she stood and with some well chosen words, left the room.
She left the building, stepped onto the street. Watching her feet as she walked along the icy footpath. She didn’t notice the waiting man as she crossed the street. Had she seen him waiting there, perhaps she would have stopped to discuss the argument. But perhaps she wouldn’t have.
Alone now, the other woman sat in the chair so recently occupied. She put her head in her hands and began to weep.
The waiting was over. Now the time to think had begun. He turned the car stereo up so he could hear it. Cool jazz washed over him, completely failing to ease his mind.
Crying without an audience was difficult to maintain. Before long she started to feel foolish. She got up to wash her face. Fixed a drink. Returned to the chair. She sat staring out of the window. The snow had started, flakes sticking prettily to the window. She wondered how long before he would arrive. Come and tell her his lies about love, and trust, and betrayal.
Following her own puffs of breath home through the icy streets, her footsteps lost in the noise spilling from the restaurants she passed, she considered her position. She came to a conclusion that would surprise those who knew her. It didn’t surprise her perhaps as much as it should have.
He had made his decision. He stepped out of the car. Reached back in for his coat, the weight of it uncomfortably noticeable as he shrugged it on. He hesitated only slightly at the entrance to the building. Then pushed the door open and went upstairs.
A noise behind her. She didn’t turn. She watched the snow beat against the window. A key in the lock, the snicker of the door against the jamb. Sludge now, the pretty flakes melted. Footsteps, and a gust of cold air from the hallway. The ice slithered down the glass, obscuring the world outside. She turned to see what prettily packaged falsehoods he had for her.
She didn’t go straight home. Instead, she stopped in a cafe next door. Nearly deserted at this late hour, but pleasantly warm. The waiter asked her in a quiet voice if she wanted her regular order, and she nodded assent. She found a table in the back, and smiled to herself. She was going to be alright. It was a good plan.
It was quick. And almost silent. She gasped. Not just an exhalation, but surprise, confusion and, eventually, realisation. She fell gracefully, her skirt billowing around her knees as she dropped. A rose spread dramatically in the carpet beneath her body. He didn’t stay.
Sipping her coffee in the trendy cafe. The snow beat against the plate glass window. She wasn’t surprised to see his car drive past, pulling up just out of her sight. It would take him a little time, but she knew he would turn up at the cafe. She waited.
He knocked at the door. He was nervous. His jacket hung better without the gun. It made him more aware of the little box. And the little box made him more nervous than the gun had. He waited for her to answer the door. He had no key to this building.
The coffee was gritty dregs in the bottom of the cup. Cold now. She waited for him to arrive. Practising her words.
She wasn’t home. Knowing her habits, he turned to the left, walked the few steps to the coffee shop. He stepped into the warm space, and the waiter looked up, expectant. He shook his head, pointed to the only occupied table at the back, indicated that he was just meeting someone. The waiter went back to cleaning the coffee machine.
She looked up, gave a tiny smile, but didn’t speak.
He pulled the little box from his pocket. Held it uncomfortably, then, like a child offering a bunch of dandelions, proffered it. He knelt awkwardly, and asked her to be his bride.
Her smile twisted into a frown. Now it was her turn to ask questions. He answered them, but left the gun out of the story. She frowned some more. The little box lay unopened on the table. They both ignored it.
Before too long he left the cafe. Alone. Like a leaf, loosed from the bounds of the tree, at the whim of the wind and the snow.


Leave a comment

This is for all the luvvers in tha house

The thumping bass of the last song drifts away, and the sexy notes of a saxophone glissando ease across the dance floor. The deejay, bloated with his own importance, growls through the mic, “This is for all the luvvers in tha house…”. Most of the dancers, still high on the heavy drums of the previous song, sigh in disappointment and drift over to stake a place in the queues at the bar.
Out of the milling crowd, I see Cassandra drift towards me. Her legs, long and white as the spotlight passes over them, take my breath away. I meet her eyes, and she gives me a little crooked smile. She is beautiful. She is holding a short glass, filled with a lot of ice and a clear liquid – top-shelf vodka, almost certainly – but she places it gently on a table as she walks past, never breaking her stride. Her face is clear, her eyes bright, and I find myself lost in her gaze. The nigthclub surrounding me, the music, the dancers, and the crowded bar all fade into the background. Nothing matters but her, nothing ever again will matter except her. We are locked in this moment, a connection sizzling between us that is as fine as filament, but as strong as copper wire.
She drifts closer, and the spell breaks as she puts her arms around my neck, whispering in my ear words that are not in any earthly language, but are drops of love. I can feel her body pressed up against mine, and even though we are both wearing light clothes in the stifling nightclub, even the thin cotton between us is too much. I want to tell her how stunning she is, how she makes my heart feel like it will burst, how she makes my body react to hers, but before I can find the words the music swells, and the moment to tell her these things is lost. Instead, I hold her close. As close as that is, it is not close enough. It will never be close enough. Even the act of lovemaking would not bring us as close together as I want to be right now. I want to be within her, I want to crawl into her mouth, travel through her veins, nestle inside her stomach. I want to become one with her. Instead, we dance.
I become aware that people will start yelling soon, and when the first cry goes up, I push my face deeper into Cassandra’s hair. The smell of her shampoo, and the cloying scent of the perfume on her neck, fill me with desire and I nearly forget how to make my throat make words. I swallow, and in the instant before others take up the cry and drown them out, I say the words, “I love you”. Simple words that convey only a small fraction of what I feel. All the same, I feel the muscles in the side of her face move against mine, and I know she is smiling. Her warm lips find my own ear, and I almost melt on to the floor with desire, begging her silently to nibble, bite, kiss, but instead she breathes, “I love you, too”. And the yells have started to turn into screams, panic flows over us like a wave, and I imagine I can still hear the saxophone underneath the hysteria.
The people around us start to flow into the outer corners of the night club, and I relish the empty space in the moment before the flames start sucking the oxygen away from us. I hold Cassandra close, still trying to think of the words that will tell her how I feel. She tightens her arms around me, and ducks her head slightly, so she is protected from the heat by my shoulder. I lift my chin, as though tucking her into the protective shield of my body.
The heat on my back gets warmer, until I can feel the skin searing, blisters rising almost instantly. Suddenly, my hair is alight, and I feel Cassandra judder against me as her hands, locked behind my back, start to burn. I wonder if saying “You are beautiful” is too cliched for her to be able to take seriously.
The fire has engulfed us, the hiss and pop of the flames drowning out the terrified screams of the people still in the building. We cling to each other like a life raft, still in our spot on the dance floor, still slightly swaying to the faded saxophone. And then it is over.
The thumping bass of the last song drifts away, and the sexy notes of a saxophone glissando ease across the dance floor. The deejay, bloated with his own importance, growls through the mic, “This is for all the luvvers in tha house…”.


Leave a comment


The depression started the same year I started school. By the time I finished, only the elderly and the insane held out any hope of it ending. I can’t remember exactly, but it was some time during my teens that the fresh food started to become sparse. I remember my mother squabbling with a young man over the last over-ripe peach in a fruit store. The weather was ridiculously hot, and perhaps she had been having a bad day, because it was out of character. Eventually, the owner of the store, desperate to sell the stock and get the fighting pair out of his shop, probably, cut the peach in half and Mum and the man both handed over a bunch of coins for the precious fruit. She offered me a bite, and the too sweet juice running down my chin is the clearest part of this memory for me. Mum took a bite herself, ecstasy on her face as she savoured it. When we got outside a grubby girl with running sores on her arms, no more than four, came up and begged for food, money, whatever we could give. Perhaps the sight of the child brought about guilt over her behaviour in the fruit shop. Whatever it was that made her do it, my mother reached down to the girl, and gave her the remaining bite of the peach. The girl made the fruit disappear so quickly I thought she had dropped it at first, but then we saw tears cutting pink lines through the grime on her cheeks, and realised that she was crying with pleasure at the fruit. My mother smiled at the child, but wept to herself on the way home, when she thought I wasn’t looking. To give up not just food, but fresh food, was almost too hard to bear.
Children like this were common since the fires. As the country had progressively burnt to a cinder – first the southeast corner, then gradually north and west, sparing only those in the very inner-city suburbs – more and more children were left without families, without support, and without hope. It was really the fires that started to make people realise that we were in a lot more trouble than anyone had realised. At first, when the first state went up in flames, it was hailed as a disaster. Grief for the ever-increasing list of victims grew, support flooded in from all corners of the country – even some from overseas. As a nation we mourned the dead, supported the survivors, congratulated the heroes and urged the government to provide financial support. By the time the last square kilometre of farmland had gone to ash, we had grown immune to the horror. Small enclaves survived in the very hearts of the biggest cities, the people who had run from their burning homes in the outskirts found themselves homeless, hungry and desperate in a city that no longer had enough to spare for themselves. The natural urge to reach out and help those less fortunate died, as our own fortunes died.
We were considered lucky, to start with. We had a small yard, with an established vegetable garden, and a couple of fruit trees. Even once the fires got hold of them, we managed to hang on to one lone apple tree, but eventually the ash in the air, the toxic rain and the lack of water put paid to it, and by the time I was twelve fresh fruit and vegetables had become a treat. From someone who wouldn’t have touched a sultana with a long pole, I became someone who would have committed the most indecent acts for a single grape.
While we fought fire in the southern half of the country, the north battled flood. While the fire fighters prayed for rain, the residents in the north prayed for it to stop. Where the two met, somewhere just north of the middle, the flood waters put out the fires, began to dry up in the hot air, and then got overtaken by the next wave of fire. In the days when the fire appeared to have nowhere else to burn, even the silted streets provided fuel. By the time that our northern-most cities had burned, the surviving population were so consumed with just staying alive that we could no longer grieve.
I finished school, one of the last years to do so. Most schools had closed by 2021, although a very small number – mine included – struggled along until about 2024, when finally too few resources and poor attendance finally drove them to close their doors. After that, I stayed with my mother. After all, where else was I to go? The idea of starting a family was laughable, and Mum was getting older, she needed all the help I could offer her.
Mum died last year. She was old, nearly fifty. The people around me are all ill, or dying. Few people I knew even five years ago are still alive. There is no food except what we grow ourselves in scrubby little plots. Plants are hoarded for their seed and their fruit, and the owners of the plants stand guard around the clock, fighting off attackers. Now that I am alone, I am unable to stand guard. I survive from the jealously hoarded tins dating back, in some cases, over ten years. I open a tin every fortnight, and make it last. Water is almost impossible to get, and clean water a thing of fiction. I’m ill, and have been for years now. Now that I don’t have to look after Mum anymore, who is going to look after me?


Leave a comment

It was a year ago

In the kitchen, it’s all action. People everywhere. I’ve been planning the menu for weeks, and had done most of it by the time the first guests – my parents – arrived. I saw Dad briefly, he gave me a kiss on the cheek and I could smell alcohol on his breath. I said nothing. He looked around with haunted eyes, then opened the fridge just enough to slide a beer out from the bottom shelf, and then slunk outside to consume it. In the few minutes it took him to do it, Mum had sifted through the pile of recipes on the kitchen table, eyed up the pre-prepared dishes, and had started running the water to wash up. I knew that, whatever menu I had decided on, Mum was now firmly in control. A year ago, I would have fought with her over it. Now, it just didn’t seem to matter that much. I stayed in the kitchen long enough to refill my wine glass, and then went outside to find Dad. He was sitting out in the garden, under a spreading tree. I sat beside him and we drank. Together, giving and receiving comfort, yet lost in our own thoughts. Thoughts that were, possibly, along similar paths, although we did not share them.
It was a year ago that my Dad stopped cracking jokes. It was a year ago that my mother’s quirks became full-blown neuroses. It was a year ago that Jamie didn’t come from home from work. It was a year ago that I turned 21. It was a year ago that everything changed.
My mother came bustling out from the kitchen, and my Dad gave me a look that made me think of wildlife, stunned in the headlights on the side of a country road. She started talking before she was completely in earshot, and all I caught was “… tablecloth, you do have a clean one don’t you? A nice one?” I nodded, gave her directions to the laundry cupboard, and glanced at Dad as I stood up. I drained the last of my wine, although it felt as though I had only sipped it, and meandered back inside. Aimless. Suddenly, despite having been excited about the party, and about seeing everyone, I didn’t want to do it anymore.
I went to the kitchen door, intending to refill my glass. Through the glass panel in the door, with my hand on the doorknob, I saw Mum tut-tutting over two different tablecloths, things bubbling on the stove, and my sponge cake in pieces on the benchtop, ready to be turned into trifle. I can’t stand trifle. My hand dropped from the knob, and I found myself heading down the hall instead, to my room.
I closed and locked the door behind me, and wondered idly if I still had my stash in the wardrobe. I hunted around, shifting jumpers and scarves, dusty from where they had been stashed last winter, waiting to be taken down again in a month or two. I sneezed, and my hand touched cool glass. I retrieved the bottle, took a long swig, and grimaced. Then I put it back behind the ski pants and woollen gloves, to be forgotten about.
I lay down on the bed, and tried not to think about anything. It’s impossible to think about nothing. Even if you imagine nothing to be a vast blank emptiness, you’re still thinking about that emptiness. You can never completely clear your mind. I must have started to drift off to sleep, aided by the vodka, because I imagined a knock on the door, and it crept open a little, even though I knew it was locked. I wasn’t surprised to see Jamie through the sliver showing at the doorjamb, although of course I should have been. He pushed the door open a little wider, and I caught his grin. That grin that said, I’m doing something I shouldn’t be, but you’ll forgive me, right? I grinned back, but didn’t speak. I didn’t want to shatter this daydream of mine, didn’t yet want to let myself back into the reality that Jamie was dead.
He came in and sat on the bed, his weight shifting the mattress. He was wearing a shirt I didn’t recognise, although they were the same old work boots on his feet. He smiled at me, reached out and touched my hair, brushed it back out of my face. He leant down and kissed me on the forehead, and I closed my eyes, breathed in his smell – aftershave and sweat, grease and leather. I smiled, and opened my eyes again when the warmth of his lips faded, and the bedsprings gave a squeak. He was standing and, without a word, he walked back to the door. He looked over his shoulder, dropped me a languid wink, and then he was gone. The door gave a soft click as it closed. I listened for footsteps, and then laughed at myself for this foolishness.
I stayed in bed a little longer, still trying deperately to stay with the fantasy, and to allow the fantasy to stay with me, but it was already fading. Eventually, voices from downstairs stirred me awake, and I realised I had been asleep for about an hour. They would be wondering where the birthday girl was, no doubt. I stood up, and noted absently that the bedsprings didn’t squeak. This realisation was enough for the last gossamer threads of my dream to dissipate into the air like steam.
I went to the ensuite to wash my face, brush my hair. In the mirror, in lipstick, the now-empty case lying open in the sink, were the words, “Sis, Love you 4 ever. J”.