Project Update: My Little Street Library -Part 3

So where are we up too in my quest to have a Little Street Library installed in my local parkland?

I thought the concept of the Little Street Library intriguing as soon as I saw my first one perched high on a hill in the front yard of a house in suburban Bundaberg, Queensland. Nothing outstanding about the position nor the property where it was housed. It was purely the idea of neighbours sharing books and being neighbourly that appealed.

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Look, we are never going to return to the days of our grandparents where neighbours met across the fence for a chat, shared cups of sugar or tea, or even as my parents did, exchanged a bunch of home grown spinach here for a bag of fresh lemons there. It wasn’t all that long ago when a carton of eggs from the back yard chickens was good currency, was it?

Having recently relocated to a newer area with a much younger vibe, where more people walk their dogs on a daily basis, ride bikes, and take toddlers to wear out on the playground equipment, I find myself saying “ Good’ay” to so many more people these days. Just exchanging greetings on the street as we pass. Nothing nefarious.

My local Councillor is on board. Loved the idea, and has been hugely helpful.
0. Believes construction will be paid for by Council.
0. Believes the local Men’s Group will build as a Community project
0. Believes the local Rotary Club will be a source for books for the start up of project.

These are all absolute WINS, especially since my original idea of having a Little Library installed in my own front yard at my own expense was was kyboshed on the basis that I live in a cul-de-sac with minimal passing traffic.

Where to next?

Small unforeseen problem:

The local reserve that I suggested is on a road that is the bloodline from one end of my subdivision to the other. The parkland itself is expansive with the playground area in one corner surrounded by designated resting areas and toilet facilities, making it a great area for mums and dads to meet and watch over their brood. The parking facilities are a haven for tradies having a break before their next task, and walkers and nature lovers glory in the walking tracks through bush land and along the flowing waterways.

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It is also a haven for nesting bird life and with Spring well and truly upon us the Council has had to erect signs warning people to be aware of swooping birds. Yes, the magpies and plovers are vigilant when it comes to watching over their nests and their have been reported attacks to humans. Some ugly, such as eye injuries.

On a personal note I am a firm believer in talking to these birds as I walk in their territory, letting them know I am a friend and not a foe. I’ve never been swooped. My daughter however, finds such a situation very Hitcockesque and I have witnessed her being targeted. That too is ugly.

No, the bird life will not be removed. Who would want that ? Sharing our space with koalas, wallabies, and birds is part of the reason we live where we live.

Now having to rethink the location of the Little Street Library.

 

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V For Vengeance by Sue Grafton( or Shaking My Head in Wonder)

South East Queensland has just endured a weekend of rain with more expected according to the weather bureau. And that’s okay, as the dams are being topped up, the gardens are waving their fronds in delights, and you can see the landscape changing from crunchy brown to Kermit green.

Getting the washing dry is not one of the World’s priorities, nor is having a footprint free tiled floor. No matter how many times I remind Bentley, the Labrador, to wipe his furry tootsies when coming inside after a romp in the mud, he continues to traipse a trail of wet red earth across the floor. At least the marks on my white tiles are now the colours of my favourite football team: the St George Dragons.

The rainy weekend has been a chance to slow down and turn to books and pots of tea. That’s not a bad thing. It’s like taking a holiday without leaving home, right? AOddly, despite an ever growing pile of books by the end of the bed, patiently awaiting my attention, I was unable to find a read to suit my mood.( Don’t you just hate that!).
So…….I downloaded an e-book from the local library.

V For Vengeance is Book 22 in Sue Grafton’s Alphabet crime series.

Confession: Although I have read at least half a dozen novels in this series, I am not the Grafton fan in the family. I do find her reads good for the daily commute to work: light, chatty, and with little need to engage the brain. Great entertainment that serves its purpose.

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V For Vengeance has all the usual hallmarks of the Private Investigator, Kinsey Millhorne’s novels, though can still be read as a stand alone. We again catch up with ex-dalliance, Cheney Phillips, ex-con Pinky, and Kinsey’s neighbour, Henry.

The book starts with a young man who has been unable to repay a debt to loan shark and gangster, Dante, being tossed from a multi storey building. Two years later, Nora is experiencing marital issues and discovers her second husband, Channing, is having an affair with his secretary. In the meantime, Kinsey, at the local clothing store is stocking up on new knickers, and becomes a witness to a shoplifting incident, with the suspect turning up dead only a matter of days later.

Halfway through the book, and I’m shaking my head and thinking how is any of this connected to the kid with a gambling debt.

Yet of course they are, aren’t they?

This book disappointed me on several fronts, and maybe it is simply that twenty two Kinsey Millhorne capers is too many:

0. She always ends up carrying some kind of injury. Shouldn’t she have learnt by now?
0. Kinsey attends the same eatery, wears the same clothes, sleeps with the same blokes, and her only interest is running. Some personal growth would surely be in order.
0. This book is in several different voices : Kinsey, Nora and Dante. Why? Because Kinsey has become stale is all I can come up with…..

Lastly, although the novel ended with a twist of sorts, this little black duck thought it worrying. Without ruining it for you, what kind of woman, despite an unhappy marriage, runs off with a bloke who engineered having her son thrown off a multi-storey building? Two booty calls and this woman who is independently savvy enough to create and maintain an investment stream runs off with a gangster. What the?

Ms Grafton, I think you just set back feminism by forty years.

Maybe I should have stuck to the wine…….

 

Bentley And Me

A few years ago, whilst doing the long haul flight from London to Brisbane after having visited my student daughter, I watched a movie on the 747 called Marley and Me.

Do you know this movie? If you do, you will be well aware that it is a movie which ensures an increase in the price of Kleenex shares as it is a five star tissue movie. Very embarrassing: I sobbed for the duration of the flight across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as well as the Black and Mediterranean Seas and the Brisbane River, and anything in between.

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Okay, so I don’t handle sad movies with animals very well. Bambi? Never managed to get to the end. Same with Black Beauty, Flicker, and those wretched Lassie movies that were so much a part of my childhood. My mother took me to the cinema as a ten year old to see The Incredible Journey, a tale of two dogs and a Siamese cat who don’t relocate so well and undertake a massive journey across America. I was a mess. Then my favourite aunt took me to see Born Free as a holiday treat. Do you know the true story of Elsa the lioness? We both howled like babies and had to excuse ourselves before the end of the movie.

Starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston Marley and Me is a nice little movie about a couple who grow into a family which includes a Labrador by the name of Marley

The movie was transposed from the book, Marley And Me: Life And Love With The World’s Worst Dog by John Grogan which is pretty much a plot give away.

I am currently babysitting my other daughters Labrador, Bentley. He is a beautiful pup without a mean bone in his body. Good natured, loving, and inquisitive. He is also much like Marley in that he has a taste for socks and underwear, and has been known to chew through outdoor furniture and air conditioning units. This morning when I awoke I found Bentley playing with half a green tree snake. I can only imagine where the other half of the snake went………

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Labradors make fantastic Guide Dogs for the blind, Assistance Dogs for epileptics, and Murray the Labrador is a Gunner in the Australian Army where he is also a trained assistance dog helping the enlisted.

Bentley is a beautiful pup whom I absolutely adore. He is however, best described as a scone who hasn’t quite risen.

Bentley is on a strict diet of a Kibble for breakfast and tea though as a loving grandmother who delights in walks with the pup for an hour each day, improvises to jazz up his meals, just as I did with my own Little Ones.

Here is a recipe for Bentley’s favourite meal.

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A Cup of Kibble

A Tablespoon of  Mashed Potota with an egg mixed through

Two teaspoons of cooked peas.

 

 

 

I never said I wasn’t eccentric.

Posh Eggs At Bunnyconnellen

A very spoilt girl, I’ve just returned from a weekend in a rural setting in Bed and Breakfast accomodation. Bunnyconnellen is a working Olive Grove and Winery located in Crows Nest, two hours north west of Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland. The topography is predominately undulating farmland, whilst the township itself still has reminders of its historic past as a timber town and regional centre for pig sale yards.

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I won’t bore you with details of the log fires, long morning walks spotting the abundant wildlife, and crisp Chardonnays with complimenting platters of food.

 

Once again, I was fascinated by the selection of books available in the holiday home.

The bookshelf at Bunnyconnellen reflected the country setting. Poetry by Australia’s best known bush poet, Banjo Patterson, a book on Station Life in Australia, and my favourite, Posh Eggs which was chockablock with recipes as the title suggests.

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Posh Eggs: Over 70 Recipes Of Wonderful Eggy Things ( Author: Quadrille, Photographer: Louise Hagger) was an interesting distraction given the fresh farm eggs supplied for our breakfast makings.

Flitting through Posh Eggs was the perfect book for our short, but delightful, country stay. Insufficient time to experiment with any of the recipes, though I have returned home feeling a little inspired and with more of an appreciation for the humble egg.

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5, 6, 7, 8, Bog in -Don’t Wait.

As the daughter of parents that lived through the Depression I was raised at a time when at a dinner table we did not dare speak with our mouths full, nor did our elbows ever touch the table. My mother cooked a roast each Sunday, and all meals were eaten in the dining room where the table was always covered by a seersucker table clothe, or if guests were joining us, either one of white lace or a white crocheted number with matching serviettes. Do you remember when gifting silver serviette rings was even a thing?

Meal times were as much about exchanging the highlights of the day with family and friends as abating our hunger.

This behaviour was duplicated in the upbringing of my own daughters, although with a much more relaxed attitude. The use of white table clothes was never an option with my distaste for domestics and a propensity to knock over glasses of red wine. Quickly prepared platters full of fresh goodies were always popular on special occasions and for a relaxed meal in front of the TV if there was a good Disney movie showing. As for the regular Sunday roast : too hot, too heavy and too much work. Essentially, meal times continued to be special for enjoying food and each other’s company.

( Umm, let’s leave breakfast out of the equation. That’s a whole different ballgame and one I am too ashamed to discuss given it highlights my poor parenting skills).

On my recent long weekend in a seaside township, just three hours north of Sydney, meal times with my daughters once again became a time of coming together, reconnecting, and for the sharing of both stories and laughter.

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Life is easier these days with the prevalence of both convenience stores and an abundance of fresh foods. Meal preparation is no longer solely a chore for Mum, and is also a more relaxed exercise. Truly, how hard is it to throw a Stir Fry together when you arrive home from work?

Thirty years on, and despite the many changes in technology and social customs, chatting around the dinner table remains a constant.

Help-Your-Self Dinners are always a hit on holidays, I’ve found.

Five, Six, Seven, Eight. Bog in – Don’t wait

 

 

Books As Travelling Companions.

Many of the books I read are those borrowed from the Library or are preloved books purchased from car boot sales, charity stores, and from fossicking through antique stores.

Yes, I do purchase new books too, and no expense is spared if we are talking a subject which really interests either myself or family. My youngest daughter collects all things Freddy Mercury, and I know she will be embarrassed when I share that she is also a collector of Bing Crosby memorabilia. My eldest owns a delightful collection of biographies about Audrey Hepburn, and for many years I have been gathering books about Errol Flynn, Bomber Command in World War 2, and Australian Prisoners of War. Many of these, by necessity, have been internet purchases. Many titles just don’t seem to make it to Australian booksellers, particularly those detailing older topics. Really, who is going to write a book about ol’ Bing these days?

I do splurge on a new paperback when travelling. It’s been a pattern for years : arriving at an airport, whiling away an hour at the bookstore cum newsagent, and purchasing something new to enjoy along the journey.

Interestingly, these paperbacks have all remained with me over the years, not tossed into the local charity bin or rehomed when finished, as are most others. I don’t know whether or not it’s a nostalgia thing, though I have been extremely fortunate in that each book has been a really entertaining read.

Here are a few of my Holiday reads that have become a permanent fixture in my bookcase. They still get dragged out once a year even though the older ones have lasted longer than some of my relationships – and I must admit to knowing them better! Some are a little worse for wear, accompanying me on trips nearly thirty years ago.

Are you ready to meet some of my travelling companions?

Too Many Partings by Cathy Cash Spellman.( Queensland Island)
This is a three generational tale of an Irish lad born after the potato famine who made it big in America. A great story entwined with Irish whimsy and folklore.

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Captains And The Kings by Taylor Caldwell.(New Zealand)
Another three generational tale of the Irish and their relocation to America. Much more brutal than the former and said to be based on Joseph Kennedy and his clan.

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Nor The Years Condemn by Justin Sheedy (NorfolkIsland)
The first book in a trilogy about young Australians training within the Empire Air Training Scheme only to travel to the other side of the world to fight the Nazis in the air during World War 2.

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Rhett Butler’s People by Donald McCaig (Italy)

Provides background for Rhett, from Gone With The Wind, including details of his family, friends and loyalties. Read as : what makes Rhett Butler tick.

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Stephen King Goes To The Movies by Stephen King. (England/Ireland)
A collection of King’s better stories transposed to the big screen, including my favourite Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption ( movie : The Shawshank Redemption)

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Do you travel with a book, other than a Lonely Planet Guide?

Perfect, by Cecilia Ahern – minus the Trifecta

On a Friday night some years ago I sat down with my daughters to watch a DVD with the title, P.S. I Love You. Friday nights became our “veg out” time together after a busy week of work, university, part time jobs and other commitments, and was generally accompanied by a cheese platter and a bottle of wine……and perhaps a sneaky block of chocolate. Sssssshhhhh, let’s not share that one around.

P.S. I Love You proved to be a fun little romantic comedy with a good story line and featuring a fantastic soundtrack as well as sweeping views of Ireland. At some stage throughout the movie we had all shed a tear or too as well as shared a laugh, and it has since become a firm family favourite.

Let’s not forget to mention that also making this production memorable were actors Gerard Butler, Harry Connick Jr, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Hey, is that a trifecta or what! Talk about the perfect start to a weekend.

So, of course I went and purchased the book of the same name on which the movie was based, written by Irish author, Cecelia Ahern…………………..which didn’t work for me.

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And no, it wasn’t just the missing trifecta.

Having enjoyed a few days away from home, on a short holiday in the sun and the surf with my daughters, I selected a read to suit the mood, as you do on a break. Non taxing, light with a tendency towards fluffy. Is that not right?

Cecilia Ahern’s Perfect, released earlier this year, is the follow up to Flawed, though is definitely a stand alone novel.

Celestine North has been branded by the morality guild and is a fugitive on the run, having evidence that the Judge of the Guild is himself corrupt.

Celestine is aided by others that have been branded and who live in this subserviant society. In very much The Hunger Games mode Celestine fights to assist her fellow Flaweds and to bring down the Judge and current reigning Government.

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Ironically, being branded as Flawed and having dealt with distrust and disharmony, Celestine has grown into a stronger, more self aware person.

This Dystopian novel has been well crafted and was just perfect for a deck chair in a sea breeze, accompanied by a glass of bubbles.

Cecilia Ahern, I look forward to your next effort – something I never thought I would say!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Reading: When You Pick Up A Book You Would Never Normally Consider.

A long weekend in Australia and excited to report that I have flown 900kms south to a quiet little seaside town on the Central Coast of New South Wales where I am relaxing (drinking and eating too much), with my daughters and son-in-law.

The township to which we have escaped is reminiscent of the Australia of my childhood: unspoilt beaches, smallish and unpretentious bungalows, huge open spaces, and tree lined streets without pavements and guttering. There is an abundance of pelicans, magpies, whip birds, kookaburras, and curlews. Bentley, the Labrador pup enjoyed his first encounter with a scrub turkey yesterday, whilst the girls came upon a dingo on the sand dunes. Amazing: in all my years my dingos have only been spotted in cages or on TV screens.

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The holiday house we are renting is newly renovated and is extremely comfortable with a fenced yard for the dog, well appointed accoutrements, as well as plenty of space so as not to be on top off each other.

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There is even a book small case full of reading material. I love browsing through other people’s bookshelves in their holiday homes, don’t you?

Holiday reading is always different to what you generally read throughout the year, don’t you find? Days in the sun and surf tend to make you yearn for the simple stuff, and the contents here, certainly indicate this. Don’t get me wrong – this is in no way being judgemental about the owners and any previous occupiers- the reading is languid and books that can be put down and easily forgotten. Nothing wrong with that, hey?

Take a peek at this lot, with its sprinkling of high end cookbooks, and an abundance of autobiographies by Aussie sporting personalities. One political read, and only minimal fluff. I’m sure that I will find something that tickles my fancy during a quiet spell.

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Can you hear Nigella quietly calling my name on the nights breeze?

Even non readers tend to pull up a book on holidays,don’t they? My youngest daughter, a true bibliophile, reverts to reading magazines when on a break. This is her weekend reading. Talk about eclectic.

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There is a chair on the deck awaiting my attention, along with a fresh pot of tea.

Enjoy your weekend, whether it be long or short.

A Friendship Made From A Love Of Books.

I met a lass through an online book club. She was a passionate reader, extremely knowledgable and bloody funny. After some months, having exchanged many thoughts on all things books, and because we lived in the same town, we agreed to meet for coffee at the annual charity book sale in the city.

This was an eye opener in itself. She walked around each of the book laden aisles with three pages of required book titles in her hand whilst I walked around with a glazed look in my eyes. Looking through over a million preloved books laid out on tables in three halls in the Exhibition Centre is no mean feat. My youngest daughter has the gift, patiently manouvering up and down aisles lugging a large suitcase on wheels for her purchases. My eldest daughter and I tend to retreat to the coffee cart after ten minutes.

After paying for our purchases – my six to her 106 – we deviated to a local bar where the lass’s husband would meet us. After our first drink together and exchanging a few personal tidbits, this lovely lass in her early 60’s declared that “she knew we would be friends for life”. Her hubby was also of good nature and humour and I had to agree with her assessment.

We shared food, wine and books socially, though our growing friendship was abruptly cut short. At the lass’s funeral some items from her book collection, inscribed with personal messages, were handed out amongst the mourners. The LOML and I still have our books sitting prominently on the bookcase in our bedroom.

Every couple of months I would cook a feed for my friend’s partner. A roast and Yorkshire pudding here, seafood platter there, and he would share stories of his girl. We would also discuss pending retirement, books we had read, and exchange news of our families………as you do.

It wasn’t that long until our friend relocated for a slower lifestyle by the beach. We don’t see him often these days though do keep in contact by email. He has moved on, finding both peace and love, and we wish him well on all fronts.

He has also had a book published, his memoirs of hunting insurgents in the Rhodesian bush war, which I vaguely remember being told was in the works at a boozy barbecue for four in the beginning.

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I’m still ploughing through this read, a bit slower than normal as the subject matter is totally foreign and I am Googling for a bit of background in order to gain a better understanding.

I shed a wee tear when I saw the dedication in the front to our girl. Simple but heartfelt.

I will also admit to becoming a little off balance reading about the adventures of a young man who was wounded three times and decorated, but who in my mind, will always be the complimenting half of my beautiful friend. It’s a bit confrontational, trying to reconcile the young man living within the pages of this book, and the fella forty years later that enjoyed a glass of red or two around a barbie.

Let’s just say that from this day on I will be avoiding all mirrors at all costs.

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Reading Challenge Successfully Completed

 

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I have recently completed The Aussie Author Challenge 2017, reaching the Kangaroo Level which requires participants to:
Read and review 12 titles written by Australian Authors of which at least 4 of those authors are female, at least 4 of those authors are male, and at least 4 of those authors are new to you; Fiction or non-fiction, at least 3 genres.

The objective of this challenge is to showcase the quality and diversity of the books being produced by Australian authors.

Why is it important to showcase Australian Authors?

According to Dr Google research in 2011 indicated that there were 130 million books published in the world. Now that’s a lot of books! So when I visit a Library or a retail outlet there is always a wide range of books from around the world from which to choose. Australian Libraries do not have a specific section for Australian Authors. Not all book shops have dedicated Aussie Author areas, though Australiana, which covers all things Australian though not necessarily written by an Aussie ( thinking Bill Bryson), is popular. It can therefore be so easy to lose sight of our home grown writers

David Marr, author, political and social commentator recently said:
We keep reading our own fiction because when it’s poor it’s disappointing, but when it’s good, nothing matters more. If people are reading less, they are still alert for what’s terrific. We want voices: we want our own stories told.

This is a summary of my entries for this years Challenge

Midsummer Garden by Kirsty Manning
Food Fiction – Female – New Author
Comment:
The Rosemary Ice Cream recipe featured in the novel is fast becoming one of my signature dishes.

The Fabulous Flying Mrs Miller by Carol Baxter
Biography – Female – New Author
Comment:
Miller’s professional life as a female aviator was epic, whilst her private life was an epic disaster. Why is this so often the case?

Truely, Madly, Deeply by Liane Moriarty
Fiction – Female – New Author
Comment :
Never again, and the movies will never ever  be considered.

The Big Score by Peter Corris
Crime/ Mystery. Male Known
Comment :
Short stories well told and full of nostalgia

Under The Spanish Stars by Alli Sinclair
Romance – Female – New Author
Comment :
Learned a lot about the history of Flamenco dancing which was totally unexpected.

Dead Or Alive by Michael Rowbotham
Crime – Male – Known
Comment:
Great storytelling. This guy could sell ice creams to Eskimos.

Lancaster Men by Peter Rees
Historical Memoirs – Male – New Author
Comment:
There is always something to learn when you read history. This one was not too heavy and was a pleasurable read as well as educational. Shed a few tears.

The Railway Man’s Wife by Ashley Hay
Fiction –  Female – New Author
Comment:
Well, well, well. What a surprise. Good story, evocative imagery, and a good read.

Goodoo Goodoo by Robert Barrett
Crime –  Male – Known
Comment:
Let’s just say that I will never get those two hours of my life back.

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
Fiction – Female – Known
Comment:
Too many books, too little time to read books such as this one. Had to raise the white flag – my time is too precious.

The House At Evelyn’s Pond by Wendy Orr
Fiction – Female -Unknown
Comment:
The biggest surprise of the Challenge. I will look for more books from this author.

No Greater Love by Justin Sheedy
Military Fiction – Male- Known
Final book in a trilogy. Looking to holiday in Malta after reading about Malta’s stance during WW2 so maybe Sheedy should consider travel writing.

It would be fantastic if others out there in the big, wide world would participate in this Challenge with me next year 🙂 Similarly, it would also be cool to challenge myself to read books from authors from other parts of the world. Let me think more on this…….

That is, of course, if reports on the internet are incorrect and the world doesn’t  actually end tomorrow.