Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Getting Ink Done

I never really thought about getting a tattoo. In my youth, piercing was the weird and wonderful thing to do . . . My Grandpa had a dancing Hawaian girl and a navy anchor on his arm but the rest of the family remained ink free. DrummerBoy toyed with the idea of a tattoo to shock his mother but since it didn’t have the desired effect and he basically couldn’t afford it, nothing happened. ClareBear resisted the temptation despite a number of trips to Byron Bay where pretty much everyone gets ink done. Something to do with her fear of the needle.

Char at work had a huge butterfly tattoed on her back at age 35 and Butterfly Girl has had one since she was 18 – her dad bought it for her! Nickers has a huge one across his shoulders saying “Offensive” and it is! He’ll regret it because he’s a puny red-head who couldn’t knock the skin of a rice pudding. I think the Cricketer actually had a sort of Gallic sword on his leg from memory but I could be wrong. I really hate the biker gang tats of naked women and curly snakes which cover the entirety of the arm – looks like they need a good wash or the 'family' kind like M & M's tattoo of his daughter on his arm, it’s tacky and tasteless.

Some however, are interesting . . .LucyLoop designed her own little grape vine around her lovely tanned upper arm and I’ve always been a sucker for a tattoed Polynesian since my stay in Tahiti many years ago.

I must confess, I’ve never been much of a rebel so didn’t see the need in my youth nor am I a fan now I’m older . . .a s you get old and fat, the colours fade and the design spreads. It got me thinking about the ‘need’ and I found a few snippets on tatoo-ology:

Ta Moko is the tapu (sacred) form of family and personal identification among those of Maori whakapapa (genealogy). Genealogy is so important to the Maori people that they know their family history back 2000 years. Moko is the process of carving (cutting deep grooves) and coloring a family history story-telling pattern into the skin of a Maori descendant. Copying these styles is considered very rude as they are specific to the Maori and their ancestry. “Nuv” my friend’s daughter’s boyfriend has just asked his uncles permission for his first tatoo . . . He’s 21.

The most common Chinese tattoos are ones that are supposed to represent ideas and qualities like love or strength. For centuries, the Chinese dragon has been a symbol of power and mystery. In fact, Chinese people all over the world are affectionately known as "lung de chuan ren", or the "descendants of the dragon". It’s also the symbol of the Shao Lin Monks and Chinese Triads. Funny, I live in a huge Chinese community but you don’t see many traditional tattoos at all. I guess they’re out of fashion these days.

Getting tattooed was also seen as a rite of passage into adulthood for tribal communities. A belief goes that if a girl can't take the pain of tattooing, she is un-marriageable, because she will never be able to deal with the pain of child birth. As if there’s any comparison between a bit of ink being done on your upper arm and squeezing out a watermelon! If a boy can't deal with the pain he is considered to be a bad risk as a warrior, and could become isolated from the tribe or grow up to become a computer geek and rule the world. Indigenous Australians do it the civilised way and paint their bodies rather than create something more permanent.

Kanji Tatoos are of Japanese phrases but given the poor understanding of the English language can be disastrous when translated. You need to know exactly what your kanji characters mean before you get them emblazened on your flesh. There have been instances of people brandishing beautiful kanji characters that actually say:
  • Extremely Military
  • Affairs Stopping
  • Crazy Diarrohea
I’m a bit nervous about broaching this one after a recent conversation with a highly qualified Anthropologist friend of mine.

The history of the Celtic peoples goes back thousands of years. The early Celts displayed their skills in complex artwork particularly metal, jewelry and weapons as they were regarded as fierce warriors by the Romans. Evidence of celtic crossses and celtic artwork can still be found all over Ireland.
The ancient Celts passed knowledge down through an oral tradition of storytelling and didn't keep many written records, consequently, there is little evidence of their tattooing remaining even though celtic cross tattoos and celtic knot tattoos are very popular designs.
Most of Celtic tattoo designs are taken from the Irish Illuminated Manuscripts 'The Book of Kells', on display in the library of Trinity College in Dublin. Knots with no end and designs with a never ending path may represent the permanence and the continuum of life, love and faith.

So there you go . . . getting ink done . . . just go to a reputable tattooist and if it’s a detailed one, make sure you’ve got an expert. Or, buy one of those little black sticky ones . . .it’ll wear off by the time you’re sick of it.

The Honeymoon Period

Blogging is a bit like a romantic relationship . . .

First there’s the nervous venture into the interweb. It’s like walking into a bar when you don’t know a soul and putting yourself out there. Only the bar’s dark so you can’t see what anyone looks like. All you want to do is be ‘picked up’ have some attention paid to you - maybe a party pash and go home. Just a little recognition that you are part of the world at large and worthy of knowing. You start with nervous short stories or little vents or little exposes on your life thinking that only the kids will read it or perhaps nobody will notice you swanning around this virtual room.

But people do start talking to you. It’s exciting. You know them all so there’s nothing of real interest but someone’s reading your ditties and gaining a little insight into the ‘you’ that perhaps they previously never had. Then someone links you, then someone else tags you, then you get mentioned on Podcast and all of a sudden you’re a star . . a novelty . . like belonging to your boyfriend’s circle of friends.

You can’t wait to check the comments. You have a few conversations, let a little of yourself go and see what bounces back. Then there’s that nice community feeling where you start to say things that you think others might be interested in because you don’t really want to bore them with your pedestrian problems. It gets even more intense when you single someone out, or others single you out, and emails exchange allowing you a slightly more ‘personal’ slant on the people you’ve been chatting with via the blog. Now you’re among the inner circle – it’s addictive, flattering, euphoric. It’s the heady, passionate phase of a burgeoning relationship. You're allowed into the virtual boudoir for a glimpse of what these people are like outside their bloggy habitat. It’s flattering, interesting and strangely warming and guess what, you begin to really care about these people you’ve never met.

But as with all relationships there comes a time when the first flutter of romance gives way to the realisation that now you need to make a decision. Is this really what you want. Can you make a commitment to this in all honesty? Can you sustain the pace, maintain the momentum, remain of interest or is it the beginning of self destructive behaviour that can cruel so many good relationships. Are you committed or commitmentphobic, in it for the one night stand or the long haul?

This is where I am now. I have emails of the people I care about the most from my blog family so I will always keep in touch. I need the contact and commaradarie I just feel I haven’t got much to say on a daily basis. Maybe I’ll go back to weekend storytelling and, like rationing sex, it might keep the relationship interesting (then again, you might look for yourjollies elsewhere.)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Death of the Dell

I'm plonking on ClareBear's Mac at themoment with a keyboard that is so tight, it misses every other bloody letter. The Dell has had a wobbly. That's my usual choice of PC but for some reason it just won't start up. I tried to repair but it wouldn't and DrummerBoy of course has a 10,000 word essay being kept prisoner within it's bowells so I can't risk reinstalling XP. I'd just installed skype as well and bought a headset to test the free phone call thingy. Bugga . . another expense to at least get his file released and at best a fully functioning PC which should really be relegated to the scrap heap. Just something else to do next week, as if I haven't got enough on my hands . . . maybe I'll buy a new one. I wish I had half a technical brain.

I Am a Survivor!

It's 2:30 in the afternoon and I'm wondering if hair of the dog might do it for me. Aktor had their public debut in a marquee in my back garden. It was loud, very loud but only for an hour or so. The tents have gone, the sulos are full of bottles, the 200 sausages that were in my fridge have been removed and I'm left with 10 poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, and a big box of stale bread rolls. The lounge is still full of amplifiers but the marquee is coming down.

Well with only 4 hours sleep I guess we could call the night a success. The boys did a full rehearsal on Saturday afternoon and blew the neighbourhood half way up the mountains then backed up again at night. We ended up with about 70 people but it sounded like 200. There were red, black and white balloons in the pool and streamers aplenty. Even a few token red, black and white skimply knickers to decorate the gardenias (interesting choice of prop). They were generally well behaved, no neighbours complained and the police were a no show, so all in all, a successful party. It was good to meet a lot of DrummerBoy's friends who I've heard about but not had the opportunity to meet face to face. LeviRapper is lovely and has a bit of a crush on ClareBear. I won't be having one like it any time soon though. The bonus was GayBoyNick who is my new best friend and can move in with me at any time given his talent for cooking. He made the most fantastic nibbly bits, little tarts with sun dried tomato and cheese, and other's with tomato, caramalised onion and fetta and other little vegetarian puffs and pizzas - absolutely delicious. Then I found out we had a chef in our midst who volunteered to cook Eggs Florentine for those who were still here this morning. He did a stirling job of feeding 16 people. It was great, I had one lad in the kitchen, another cooking bacon on the barbie and the other's laying the outside tables. Talk about putting the boys to work!

There was a time when I thought they'd never go after a late brekky as the videos of the night before came out and I saw what really went on after I went to bed. Very messy. Drunken dancing, some strange liquor that burns green and badly behaved boys. Only one spew and an incident of infantile stone throwing this morning from my nephew's mates who thought it would be hilarious to peg pebbles at the little tent city sleeping soundly in the morning mist. Morons. The same bunch that I had to chastise at 3:50 this morning for being noisy idiots when everyone else had gone to bed. There's always half a dozen of these party pricks but fortunately, none were DrummerBoy's friends - all belonged to NaughtyNeph so we got sweet revenge by clanging about at 9.00 in the morning while they were sleeping soundly.

I was a good night. I was only one of five token oldies but we had fun. Much kudos to the most tolerant mother in the world even if I did lose it a bit late at night and a good cleanup attempt by the team. Pictures will follow as they come through but since my camera is broken, I have to wait for others to upload and I don't think there'll be much of that happening today. Out of 10? Probably a 9.5 Next one? Never.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Big Gig

The invitations are out, the posters are printed, the flyers are flung. The marquee is up, the caterer catering and the decorators decorating . . . The Band is ready, the Rapper's been practicing and the DJ's been scratching . . . My living room is full of microphones and stands, foldbacks, carpet squares and huge amplifiers. The police have been warned, the neighbours told . . . The big gig is tomorrow, thank you to those who think I'm either cool or crazy but have wished me luck. Having a live band at home with over a hundred twenty-somethings moshing in my gardenias . . . . I wonder sometimes about my sanity . . . my stars for tomorrow (Saturday) . .

You need to stay aware of your actions today, for your tendency might be to bite off more than you can chew and then get angry later because you have too much to do. Be careful; since you frequently make your needs secondary to someone else's, your desire to take care of yourself first now may surprise others. Ask nicely and you just may get what you want without much fuss at all.
Oh boy . . . party on dudes!

This is the next gig . . . not in my garden . . . you're all welcome:

First, Best, Last

This isn't a maudlin' post, just an observation of the lucky. I’m a bit sorry I won’t grow old with the love of my life. Have someone to fart in bed with, dribble down my cardy with, hold hands with when we go to the shops – someone to help me change the doona cover . . . move furniture so that I can vaccum behind it . . . lean on to stop me going into tilt while I put my slippers on . . . fold the sheets . . . travel with . . . it must be nice to grow old with someone once the chickens have flown the coop – just you and the wife or hubby.

There I was, standing at Wendy’s waiting for my smoothie to be smoothed and this gorgeous elderley couple were pondering the menu board and deciding which icey delight they should sink their dentures into. They were so absorbing and absorbed, I couldn't stop looking at them. Impeccably dressed and groomed – he in a sort of Donegal tweed and beautifully trimmed white moustache, her in a pretty pink twin set with pearlised buttons and a fitted skirt in an almost identical tweed. Probably in their late 70’s and both had all the time in the world to consider the pro’s and con’s of a single or triple cone, fat or low fat, ice cream or sorbet, cup or cone, sprinkles or hundreds and thousands . . . so many decisions but they were unphased and worked through the lot! Bless their cotton socks.

I envy my inlaws as well. They’re in their mid 70’s and although poor, once-SpunkyArt is badgered a bit by his loving nemesis Betty, he’s a weatherbeaten Australian who slightly whistles through his false teeth when he talks. Once a sinewey Fitter and Turner for the Shell Corporatin, he could shimmy his way around that spaghetti junction of stainless steel tubing and bang away to the ponit of suffering industrial deafness . . . “what’s that . . .?”

He is very domesticated; cleans, cooks, marinades his BBQ meat, drives everywhere, plays tennis and a round of golf, babysits his younger grandson and keeps abreast the issues of the world. He has a hug that could break you in two which is amazing for such a slight and frail looking man – almost as if he just can’t believe he’s going to get the opportunity to do it again. She’s a short and fiesty bosomy type who can talk the leg of a chair and gets all her valuable information from New Idea and A Current Affair but she adores DrummerBoy and ClareBear as they are absolute angels compared to the ‘other lot’. These two finish each other’s sentences, know each other so well that they can almost predict what’s going to happen next. They’re in perfect sync and happy as larks.

My best friend is in her 26th year of marriage to her childhood sweetheart and whilst his shoulder length hippy hair is now a ring of closely cropped grey with a monk like hole in the top and she's looking a little thin and drawn they look at each other like they did in their teens. They even have pet names for each other, steal a quick kiss at work and hold hands when they’re bushwalking. If it wasn’t so genuine, you’d think it was saccharin but nope, they too have managed to preserve the longevity of their relationship despite being totally different personalities. He’s the only man she’s ever been with and and she wouldn't have it any other way.

As my kids get older and plan their long trips abroad and road trips with the band, or more serious relationships that will see them branch out on their own, the prospect of dwelling in an empty house is becoming very real. Well, I’ve had my first love, my best love . . . there’s always room for the last love . . . and of course there’s always Paris . . I remain cautiously optimistic and at worst, I might take in a ‘lodger’. Know what I mean?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Too Much Information

There has been a revival of the 1980’s push to recreate the Australia Card. This would be a single identification card with some sort of biometric security such as a retina imprint or fingerprint which would combine the current:

Centrelink Benefits (social security) card
Medicare (health card)
DIMIA (Immigration)
Commonwealth Senior’s Health Card
Seniors Card
Tax File Number and information
Birth, Deaths and Marriages information
Contact details.

These agencies already speak to each other without us being aware. For example, when ClareBear was at university she qualified for a Student Allowance of $280 per fortnight. This is payable even when overseas but income must be reported on a monthly basis. Since she was gone for longer than a month, I was ‘boned’ up on how to report her income in her absence. I received a letter from Centrelink saying that because she was out of the country, she did not need to report her income. They knew she was overseas because DIMIA (Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs) had linked into their systems when they granted her exit visa.

I claim a Family Tax Benefit. An income based tax rebate for children under 20 who are studying full time. It’s means tested so only a small amount. However, again, Centrelink knows when my chidren have left university. Their systems are tied in with the Department of Education.

My point being that all this information exists, is known and collectible but just not all in one place.

Whilst having this information on a government registry is one thing . . . my reservation is what if this information was ‘easily’ available to private enterprise.

My insurance company for example, cannot access these records without my permission or authority. If they could access my medical records, might they reconsider my suitability for Trauma, Income Protection and or Life Insurance? I already have to declare if I have AIDS, a smoker, diabetic, epileptic or any of a number of conditions. What if they found out I carried some obscure gene that made me depressed . . . would I be a suicide risk and therefore not covered, or if I had suffered depression or had some genetic disorder . . . would they still insure me?

I’ve always been a proponent of “nothing to hide . . .nothing to fear”. Until I heard Brian mention that even a traffic offence could cause problems with gun licensing should you wish to become a sports shooter . . . I hadn’t thought of that. Imagine if employers had access to your ciminal record, offences minor or otherwise, which currently, thanks to very stringent Privacy Laws only have to be declared in very specific areas such as child care or the care of other vulnerable people.

When I register my car I can get the mechanic to award a pink roadworthy certificate and forward it electronically to the Roads and Traffic Authority. Then I can pay my compulsary third party online and that is forwarded electronically to the RTA, then all that information is ready when I go online to pay my registration (road tax). This means that the RTA has records from my mechanic about my car, it's age, condition etc. and contact details, plus details from my insurance company who have everything on me from past infringements and claims to all my personal details and credit card information.

I can order everything from health insurance, Mothers Day gifts to my favourite perfume, horse feed . . .you name it. . . via the internet. Straight away they have my contact details, credit card details (which is why I always use a card with a low limit so that if I'm fleeced, it won't hurt as much.) This happens now so why am I so concerned about privacy.

Then there are the direct debits that link into my bank account - insurance, charitable donations, electricity bill, etc. They know what I consume, when I consume it and how I pay for it.

So, food for thought. I’m vassilating between the pros and cons here. Is privacy protectable? Should I fear having everything about me bandied across the universe? I’m a good girl I am, so why should I be worried? I was arrested once for protesting at uni but no charges laid . . but what if they had been . . . would that have prevented me from getting one of the best jobs I ever had with the National Exchange of Police Information? You betcha. Criminal history checks were part of the employment criteria. Would they prevent me from owning a gun? Absolutely. Would it encourage me to be on some sort of ‘watch’ list? Maybe.

I dunno . . . the jury is out. I like the idea of having one card to present when I make a Medicare claim or visit Centrelink. I like the idea of one login and password for everything, or one PIN for all but . . .

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Our IT Boffin has resigned. Bound to happen Gen Y with $ in his eyes, baby at home, non-working girlfriend and easily bored, plus we pay him peanuts.

He’s been good technically but unmotivated a chronic absentee and no enthusiasm. Maybe it’s my management style! So the powers that be have decided that since he spend half his week sick and the other half exploring cheats for dungeons and dragons, we’re not going to replace him. We’ll secure an external contractor to do the tricky stuff and all the other IT bits will be divvied up amongst, you guessed it . . . admin staff. . . .of which I am now one!

Herein lies the rub:

Advisers - advise clients, they press the flesh, kiss babies, present scenarios and take a few notes. They get invited to seminars in fabulous locations and after the presentations eat fine food, drink fine wine and have fun . . .with their partners no less!

ParaPlanners - do the technical stuff, creating strategies that will fulfil client’s lifestyle needs and goals. They’re the ‘brains’ behind the outfit but still get a few perks, fund manager luncheons and don’t have to answer phones or do anything clerical. They don’t even have to know how to fix a footer!

Fund Administrators – just administer self managed super funds and crunch numbers. They’re the beavers of the outfit. Heads down, bums up. In at 8:30, gone at 5:00 and an hour for lunch.

The Rest – do everything else. Now this is NOT sour grapes, it’s the absolute truth, we are the penultimate multi-taskers – no coincidence that we are all women by the way.

We do everything from keeping the kitchenette clean to complex correspondence, workload monitoring, implementation of client investments and service level agreements, web logins and passwords, database maintenance, diary management, facilities management, lease and license maintenance, client hospitality, fielding phone calls (apparently Advisers and ParaPlanners will spontaneously combust if their calls aren’t screened). I’ve bitched about this before, this assumption that we don’t have enough to do or that we can ‘capture’ tasks that are left over from a vacant position or that we can ‘adapt with the times’ and ‘cope with change’. Now we are to learn how to do backup and restores, automatic downloads into industry specific software, coding of templates, IT troubleshooting and PC audits . Crikey folks, we’re good but . . .

Gawd, I'm such a whinger this week.

Clothes Maketh the Woman (apparently)

There was a frost this morning and where I live in ‘Brigadoon’, it was very chilly on the lilly. So, this morning, I broke out the grey suit as a jacket was definitely on the Agenda. The same trousers and pale pink T-shirt I’ve worn to work hundreds of times but this time with the addition of a tailored jacket. Apparently, it makes all the difference.

My colleagues have asked whether I’m going for a job interview, have an important meeting or even lost weight (liked that one!). As a very casual workplace, I’m generally the T-shirt and trouser girl or occasionaly a collared shirt or sweater but always matched with pants and flats. So there you go gals . . .want to get compliments without fishing . . . wear a suit! Gotta say, it works for the blokes as well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

High Maintenance Biatch

Sometimes, I’m my own worst enemy. I’m keen as mustard, full-on, all embracing, all encompassing and it scares the bejeezus out of people. I can’t just grow into a relationship or friendship or anything. I want it all to happen now, to be instantly liked and embraced and welcomed and involved. It’s so juvenile. I still have this incredible impetuosity . . .maybe it’s just emotional impatience, perhaps I’m unconsciously aware that time is short and no opportunity is to be wasted.

Perhaps it’s because I live a life so ordinary, so quiet, that when someone new and different comes along, I grab them by the throat and love them to death. I spend so much time on my own or not conversing anyone other than my dog that when I have the chance, I’m a torrent of verbal diahorrea, usually via email or letter – I hate the phone. I am in danger of doing this via blog as well but just can’t back off . . .

I have great difficulty understanding withdrawal, quietness, a desire to be slightly mysterious, aloof, uncommitted or even that others actually have a life and things to do other than talk to me! My life is an open book, I wear my heart on my sleeve and am honest to the point of being laborious and just can't work out why everyone else isn't the same. I often mistake this retreat from communication as people becoming disenchanted or intimidated when in reality . . . they often just need to come up for air or simply don't want to share every aspect of their daily life with someone like me. I have to stop becoming emotionally envolved with everyone I meet. I feel empathetic for the similar, sympathetic for the downtrodden, ecstatic for the happy, sad for the depressed and develop a massive crush for just about anyone who pays me a little more than passing attention.

A couple of my friends practice avoidance as a calming technique - a way to keep me at arms length and it's so upsetting. They’ll visit when in town but don’t necessary initiate online conversations or even make telephone calls. When they do, there are often gaps. Everything is short, stacatto when I want lengthy discourse, involvement, all the details and explanations. Then I press the flesh with said friends and they’re impossible to shut up, nights are late and lunches are long . . .it's a wonderful torrent of information and connectedness that has to last me until we next meet. I should be grateful for that and wish such encounters were more frequent.

So, my friends, you know who you are. I’m sorry I’m needy, impatient, forceful and full-on but it’s just me. I don’t mean anything by it, I don't mean to be a nuisance, just can’t curb my enthusiasm or wait long enough for you to break the boredom. Keep in touch with me because I really love your communications and don't be frightened by my verbosity.

Monday, May 21, 2007

More Arse than Clarse

Bloggytalk has been of landmarks from Paris to Belfast, the beautiful and the bizarre. At least the Europeans do it with a modicum of taste and panache even if it does look like an oversized sewing kneedle or a giant ferris wheel. In Australia, good taste gives way to ‘big’ things. Despite having a perfectly respectable Harbour Bridge (The Coathanger), Anzac Bridge (Madonna's Bra aka Jean Paul Gautier) and the Opera House, we have more arse than class. We are the masters of tack, kitch, the underdone and the overwhelming. Here are some of our more notable landmarks for your perusal and entertainment. Unlike the Americans, we do things by half measures and they don't quite measure up. Why commission a master in fibreglass moulding when a bit of papier mache will do?

My personal favourite is the Big Merino, currently undergoing a move from Goulburn in south west NSW because it has been bypassed by the new freeway and visitors no longer stop to find out how Australia got rich off the sheep's back. You can walk inside it and take the stairs right up to the head. The sculpture of this magnificent mammal paid meticulous attention to detail even to the point of giving it enormous testicles.

The Big Merino (Bewfuls)

The Big Banana (Tasty)

The Big Pineapple (pointy)

The Big Potato (Looks More like a Rusty Poo!)

The Big Wine Cask (Goon as we affectionately call it)

The Big Beer Can

The Big Gum Boot (complete with Green Tree Frog)

And because we love our anti-heroes . . . The Big Ned Kelly!

Ageism is Bad Mkay?

It began with a post by Dario asking oldies to layoff the young and to keep their disparaging thoughts to themselves by recognising the good that so many young people can achieve. I agree that we focus too much on the negative and left a comment but deleted much of it because my response had turned into blither and gross generalisations. Not all younlings are bad, not all oldlings are worth their weight in gold and not all baby boomers and genX’s are materialistic bastards but there are plenty in the mix. I then realised that I’m not in the mix, I don’t fit - I am generationless. I have a foot in every camp. I don’t judge people by their age, sex, religion, but I do judge them if they’re assholes or truly wonderful and I’m surrounded by buckets of both.

The older generation (basically anyone over 60) can be very pleasant but some are down right rude. Some think that with age comes priviliges, they deserve respect without having to earn it. They feel they should get attention without really needing it and some sort of red carpet treatment because they’re old. I had an aunt who constantly complained about being 'invisible' because she wasn't the centre of attention. I remember years ago doing a cave tour with ClareBear who wouldn’t have been more than 3 years old. I’d propped her up on a rock shelf so that she could see the pretty stalagtite illuminations only to have her knocked off, literally shoved and quite violently by a little lady in a blue rinse so that she could occupy the coveted spot. I trod on her toe on the way out and moved her walking stick while she enjoyed the view.

I’ve been run over by those bloody three wheeler motor bikey pensioner thingies with little orange flags protruding from the back, more times than I care to remember. They’re allowed to drive the contraptions inside the shopping centre – at speed – I might add and are a bloody liability. Almost as bad as the yummy mummies and their three wheeler jogging strollers.

Worse still, I was recently psychologically brainwashed into making a significant donation because an old guy with a Cancer Council bucket puffed through the office saying he was going to walk 25 kms if we’d sponsor him. Blackmail to the most terrible extent, of course he scored!

Then there are people like my parents-in-law who took on basically bringing up one of their nephews despite being in their 70’s and keeping the other two off the streets and away from the gunga. I keep in regular contact with them because they’re not just the grandparents of my own children but lovely, genuine, funny people who have worked hard, cared about others and are now enjoying their retirement in the sun.

Boomers and Gen X
We’re supposed to be the me generation. The ones who benefitted from the post war boom. The space race, dishwasher, the-four-wheel-drive-mother’s-of-invention-generation. I don’t fit with my generation. I don’t aspire to retire and play tennis on Thursdays or golf on Tuesdays. I will never buy a caravan and hold up traffic on the Pacific Highway in far north Queensland. I will never use my voice to berate someone or talk over them in a patronising manner. I don’t want to dress my age, I don’t like listening to tired old hits of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s (with a few exceptions) and I don’t think that U2 and Sting are the legends they’re proported to be. I don’t want to discuss my aches and pains or the trials of staying in a tired relationship. I love men, I value men, so why would I have an affinity with someone who harps on about their husbands’ failings. I care about environmental economics and taking responsibility for faults. I care about treating others with dignity. I don’t want to keep up with the Joneses. I particularly have a problem with people who use their age as an excuse for not doing things. “I’m to old to learn how to use a computer . . .”. “I don’t know how to start the lawnmower . .” . . for crying out loud have a go at actually doing something yourself. Change that lightbulb . . . add some RAM to your hard drive . . .learn how to set the timer on your DVD (Gawd did I really say that - I still can't use auto text on my mobile!)

Gen Y
I have been known to give Gen Y a metaphorical thumping in terms of reliability at work, ethics, honesty etc. but I think basically they have the formula right. They don’t put up with poor pay and/or conditions, they understand life balance. The only down side is that there’s a whole generation (in Australia anyway) who has only ever known prosperity. We’ve had 10 years of a conservative liberal government, low interest rates, low unemployment . . these are halcyon days for the younger generation. The shit will really hit the fan if intest rates keep climbing, the arse falls out of Chinese industrialisation and the economy begins to decline. Hey, by the time it does that, the Emo’s will be wearing pants around their wastes and donning short back and sides. The surfies will have cut their hair and learned about shoes, the metro males will be trading their pink Ralph Lauren’s for a navy pin stripe suit and the rednecks will have realised that mullet is a fish, not a haircut . . . and I’ll be a toothless granny . . .saying things like “I remember in my day . . . .” Ah, youth is wasted on the young . . .

Thank You

After the stress of last week and the fallout with BabyBro, I was soooo ready for our little weekend away. Thank you darling for such a lovely time - even the shopping was tolerable and at least you and DrummerBoy managed to 'score'. The apartment was very cool and the view fantastic. Nibbly bits were fun and I love a room with a free dressing gown and slippers. Shame the spa was a bit cool but the brekky was hot. Love you both . . .

Friday, May 18, 2007

Family Sucks

I live next door to my younger brother and his family. It's amicable, we work out OK. Tonight he's pushed the limits. The boys had a sound check and played 2 songs. He had a red wine spazz attack. "You make a fuss when one of my kid's park in your space" (yes I do ) "but you'll let these kids play music so loud, I can't think". It was a sound check for fucks sake. Two songs, good songs . . .he was so angry, accused me of being pissed . . .with a red wine glass in his hand! I am not happy. He's irrational, emotional and unbalanced. If I only toldl him what went on in his house when he's away, he'd eat his words. Late night parties, sleeping in his and Stressany's bed. People sleeping in his house when his own children aren't even there. He doesn't know the half of it. This could be a catalyst. I own 40% of the property and am th executor of the estate. I'm now wondering if it's worth waiting for him to recoup his invesment. I think I might sell and bugger it . . . do I care enough about him to hang on for his sake . . . I think not

Rehearsal Night

Ok it's 8:45. The marquee is up, the caterers (Nick and Belina and another girl who's name I can't remember) have assured me that next week's gig is gonna be a blast and they all have it under control. Gilbert has arrived in an enormous ute with foldbacks and amplifiers . . the beer is flowing and I've just spillled half a bottle of champers on the floor (bugga). They're setting up and this is the first time I've heard them live for a long time. I don't know whether to be an American Gothic dragon or the 'khule' mum. More later as the night goes on. I'm about to order 10 pizzas. Ocky reckons his voice is a bit scratchy. OMG what will the neighbours think. They're actually nice kids. I just want to put my tracky daks on but have to look like the responsible adult and this is only the dress rehearsal. I am mad, fabulous, understanding, a wonderful parent or as Brian suggest - a brave woman! Send me your goodvibes folks. Stay tuned!


See my flooffy gown and slippies!

It's late Friday afternoon and the clock is ticking very very slowly. It's pissing down rain and it's cold 13 degrees to be exact but I'm all warm and fuzzy inside because tomorrow I go to the Fraser Apartments for a weekend of pampering, shopping, sight seeing and general debauchery. There's a king size bed, a king size room and a king size spa with my name written all over it. Look out David Jones Food Hall, I'm raiding your nibbly bits section for something exotic and the Elizabeth Street store at street level for a cleanser, toner and masque . . .I just can' wait.
Watch and weep girls, watch and weep!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Push the Button

I am a control freak. Not in a do as I say kind of way but I like to know what's going on, run the numbers, have my ducks in a row and this week I am totally out of control. My brain is fuzzy, I can't make decisions, I'm betwixt and between, distracted, nervous. I can't put my finger on it. ClareBear has announced her travel plans so I have separation anxiety. DrummerBoy is arranging the Big Gig with loads of people I don't know, tents in the back yard, live music bla bla. Work is discombobulated as I vasilate between Exec Ass Gofer Extraordinaire and creative producer of marketing materials. My washing hasn't been done. There's no food in the fridge. The bed's unmade. So not me . . . And instead of breaking crockery, I've burned my finger on the Breville. Hormones? Maybe. Lots going on? Maybe. Going completely mad . . possible. It's an unnerving feeling and I always fear the onset of something geriatric like Alzheimers or dimentia. I remember the important things but forget about soccer practice on Tuesday. I'm beginning to care about people I don't know and ignore people I do. I wake up at 3.00am and can't get back to sleep. It's interesting but befuddling. Everything seems to push my buttons, good and bad. I hope it's just a phase.

That Just About Says it All

Horoscope for the 17th . . .

The Moon can lighten things up while it's in Gemini, which, like Libra, (that's me) is a mental air sign. (Does tha mean I'm a psychotic air head?) You are eager to learn, listen and talk. You may think you should share everything you know, believing that full disclosure is the best option. Discretion is advised now, for there are some things better left unsaid.

Right then. Tight lipped I remain. Besides, I can't compete with Dario's version of Dragonheart.

Ignition . . . but no blast off!

I was puddling home in peak hour traffic last night, running late actually, work is very busy these days. The empty light on as usual. At $1.39 a litre, I let the tank run down to empty. The old Honda was behaving normally as I pulled into the little car park adjacent to our local shops. Into the Welcome Mart for 2 litres of low fat milk and then into the bottlo for 2 bottles of high sugar plonk. All is going well for now except I’m busting to go to the loo (I never go at work, I hate public toilets – in fact I once went to the Big Day Out and had a 10.00am start and a 1.00pm finish without a single wizz!). Get into the car, keys in the ignition and oh oh . . here we go. The car chunks over but doesn’t catch. I turn it off, turn off the radio, lights, rear window heater – all electrics but the battery is firing fine, just no combustion action. Crank her up again . . . chunk chunk chunk chunk chunk! I try to turn her off again thinking I’ll call ClareBear to rescue me while I wait for NRMA Road Service to crank up the old girl. (The car, that is).

Turned the car off but the chunking kept going. After bout 30 seconds it was quite obvious to other shoppers that I had a problem. I even removed the keys from the ignition and the bitch is still chunkin along chunk chunk chunk chunk chunk. A very nice Italian man came over and asked if I was alright and nearly had a heart attack as I stepped out of the car with the keys in my hand . . .the old girl is still chunk chunk chunk chunk chunk. The only thing to do was to disconnect the rather sparky battery terminal and cut the juice. He was very obliging and sweet and I'm grateful that he was just there as a sounding board.

I was struck by the kindness of particularly the male shoppers walking in and out of the bottle shop and the fish and chip shop. About six asked me if I was alright, needed help, needed them to call someone. Quite a surprise for such a ‘comely’ lass. On the other hand, I nearly had my toes run over by a bitch in a 4 wheel drive and the women just ignored me. “I hope your babies keep you up at night and menopause is cruel to you – selfish cows!” Of course I was fine. I was close to home, armed with champers and fags and had my mobile . . .a weird sort of heaven!

By the time the NRMA guy arrived, I’d collected myself. Told him the problem. He said he’d never heard of anything like it and that I probably had a ‘short’ in my ignition “You think?” was my blondesque retort (I am a brunette). Anyway, when he reconnected the battery terminal and gave it a tap, the engine had stopped chunking and was behaving normally. I drove home OK and managed to start it this morning so I’m not sure now whether to just let it be and make sure I don’t get so low on petrol or whether to bust a move on an Auto Electrician. It sounds expensive in a month when Rates and House and Contents Insurance are both due. I so need a new car! I guess one positive to come out of this – it was so late by the time all this kafuffle was over that Clare and I went out for dinner and have a lovely meal and a chat at Arthur’s Restaurant

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Can't Get a Word In Edgeways

Just finished listening to Jefferson Davis Podcast once again although despite having a hangover, poor Jefferson barely gets a word in edgeways thanks to Brianf and Grandad rambling on about Whiskey, the good old days, urban development (bring it on I say - develop my holding!) the last days on earth and faux pas with the Queen.

  • I lurve the accents. Dario Sanchez you’re a cack and that’s a good thing. Chin up youngling. Grandad speaks well, very clearly and concisely but has a very droll sense of humour. Brian is an East Coast yank who does an amazing impersonation of Canadians, making them sound exactly like Bulkwinkle and some really loopy ideas about the end of the Mayan Calander. Jefferson has a strong Southern Drawl and a laugh that sounds like he’s just done something really naughty and is covering his tracks – poor thing has to compete for space on his own podcast.
  • I want development please! Just where I live mind you . . . I'm sitting on 21 x 700sq metre building blocks that no developer wants to buy thanks to the real estate slump - it's my superannuation plan! *sob*
  • It was actually not John Major (ex English PM) or John Howard (current Aussie PM) but Paul Keating, Prime Minister of the day who put his arm around the Queen’s waist whilst introducing her during her last tour of Australia. Little Johnny Howard would be much more politically correct. These days we are in favour of the Danish Royals thanks to Princess Mary – good Tassie girl who met the boy in a pub during the 2000 Olympics – now there’s a fairy tale romance.
  • I think we’re more likely to fall into a black hole than succumb to the Mayan holocaust – and actually the Mayans died out because they deforested their environment to produce lime as a coating for their incredibly monumental buildings, this in turn dried up the swamps that they used to fertilise their corn terraces. They were possibly the first environmental pirates. The 2012 reference I believe, is to a specific astronomical alignment which will produce a sort of ‘dark’ rip in the night stky if the night is clear enough. We’ll be fine until 2050 when the World Wildlife Fund says we will have reached the point of no return on carbon emissions if we don't change our ways by 2010.
  • I worry about the amount and range of alcohol you all drink, you make me look like a beginner and a cheap wino. Dario, you’re 18 for crying out loud, I’m glad Whiskey isn’t your drink of choice. Should be Vodka and Red bull or Yaegermeister or something. Brian – TicTac? Enough said. Grandad, you have taste. I don’t drink Whiskey but my Father was also a fan of the Jameson, just with a dash of water, no ice. Try and grab the glass from him after he’d dozed off and you’d feel his vice like grip – not bad for an unconscious bloke!
  • Jefferson – Apple and Raspberry cordial before bed – rehydrates the brain and prevents the 3.00am alcoholic thirsts.
  • And thanks for the mention Brian! I am flattered, two ‘hooray’s’ in as many weeks. I would have accepted the invite to join in but I think an aussie accent amongst you lot and we'd need a bevy of babel fish to understand each other! It's nice to hear your voices.


In September Australia is hosting the APEC conference in Sydney. We get a public holiday and George Dubya gets a mobile phone free zone the size of a football field. That’s right, a helicopter will shadow his motorcade blocking all mobile phone signals for a 500metre circumferance. Hope he doesn’t get a flat tyre!

Apparently, I’m getting Foxtel. The men in my family have conspired and cut a big hole in the wall behind the telly where now resides a big black cable. Something about next weekend’s FA Cup Final and “DrummeBoy while you’re climbing through the roof connecting Foxtel to the Pool Room, drop a cable into your family room and I’ll connect you up for free”. Fabulous, more American sitcoms (how much Will and Grace can you get!), live sports from around the world – but at least I’ll get the cooking shows and the Discovery Channel – for free!

Please remember to keep your life insurance policies in a safe place. If you lose them or don’t record the policy details, your beneficiaries will not be able to claim without a shite load of trouble. I’m trying to locate 3 policies for a lovely old lady who is in dire need of the kish but she’s lost them all silly sausage.

I have just read that more recently it has been suggested that women may not need to surf the crimson wave each month at all! In the natural setting, women's bodies were designed to be either pregnant or lactating almost continuously from the age of fifteen to menopause. It may even be bad for us to suffer so each month! Now they tell me . . .

If anyone has any inspiration for a newsletter to clients and any items that might be of interest to a demographic ranging 25 – 75, please give me some inspiration . . . I’m staring at my screen!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Happy Little Vegemites

Yes, this foodstuf is more than a national treasure, it's an institution. Every dinkum Aussie can sing the jingle, spread the right amount and has some of this salty black goodness in the cupboard.
“We’re happy little vegemites as happy as can be, We all enjoy our vegimite for breakfast, lunch and tea”

It's one of those 'foods' that you really never think about until it's not there or when the jar's empty you're racked with incredible cravings - and most times, the jar is empty. Expats import it by the ton and even adventurous foreigners have procured some in large quantities.

Vegemite was invented in 1922 by Cyril Callister in an attempt to figure out what to do with brewery waste products, namely the sticky gooey yeasty bits left over after fermentation. It was actually a grey muddy colour, resembling that thick lubricant that you use on engine and tractor parts but by adding caramel to it, a shiny black paste was born and looked more palatable (apparently). It became a hit during the depression mainly because it is high in B vitamins. Parents suddenly found a way to feed their children high nutrition at a very low cost, and Vegemite took off like a rocket.. It wasn't until the 1930s that Walker foods, the makers of Vegemite in Australia, sold out to Kraft. Worth noting is that while Kraft IS an American company, it has never marketed Vegemite in the USA. Probably with good reason.
This Australian staple is best eaten on toast as a breakfast food or on very fresh white bread with lashings of butter or between two buttered vita wheat pressed together to procude buttery/vegimite ‘worms’. If you’re not sure how much to apply (and this is very important), consult this instruction page on how to make vegemite toast. Brian, your 455 grams should last about a decade!

Stranger Danger

I like unusual people. Probably because I’m so very ordinary myself. I love TheBenchwarmer because he’s young, uber intelligent, emotionally complex, creatively talented, slightly sarcastic and emotionally charged. I like Arkenstone because he’s a self confessed geek who likes the Blues Brothers and hits from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and can’t resist a KISS concert. I like Dario, even though I haven’t met him because he’s an angry young man with something to say, erudite, funny and a little insecure (but uses the ‘c’ word) just a little too often. I like the Yarpy because he’s so politically incorrect. He’s leaving work at the end of the month and I’ll miss him. Although he left South Africa years ago, his accent is as thick, his lack of political correctness is obvious and his jokes . . .well they’re totally inappropriate half the time.
I also like my little blog community, they all have something different and unusual to commend them.

ClareBear tossed a comment on her way out to the gym last night:
“You need to get some ‘real’ friends, you don’t know who these people are you’re talking to on the internet.” And with that she was gone. I stewed on it.

What’s the difference between talking to people on the internet and joining a pen pal ring? (showing my age there). ClareBear had a pen pal in year six, we travelled to England, caught them by surprise and ended up spending 2 nights in Durham with them. The meeting between the girls was disastrous but I got on really well with her parents and we’ve maintained contact ever since. They even visited us a few years ago and we had a boozy ball and I haven’t laughed so much in years. I think you can get a reasonable hold on people with whom you correspond even if you don’t know their real names or what they look like. Would K8 share Banana Bread recipes and the emotional relationship she has with her little boy if she was an axe murderer? I can’t imagine a sexual predator starting a knnitting blog or posting their holiday snaps of Paris. I’m pretty sure that Dodge is on the up and up despite his nom de plume (anyhow I know his real name, we’ve been talking for a while on a professional level). And a mature man with a gammy leg who takes pictures of baby blackbirds and waxes lyrical about his grandchildren couldn’t possibly be any danger to me. I don’t consider an invitation to a chocolate factory in Pennsylvania a personal threat and it’s not as if I’m ever going to come within 12,000 kms of any of these people in my current financial state so I think I’m pretty safe!

Who’s to say that I’m not the nutter in this scenario?

I have a pretty good idea who reads this blog, whether they comment or not, and I know all but five of them personally. I’d never met Arkenstone until earlier this year but it was a good encounter and we’ll do it again.

So sweetness and light . . . at least I don’t party pash randoms at the pub or plan trips to Mexico based on an 8 hour encounter with a lad named Paco! OK I don't have the wide network of friends that you do or feel the need to party hard every weekend (been there and done that) And I do have ‘real’ friends as well . . .this is just another outlet, a little vent and a lot of fun when you and DrummerBoy are off and about and I have to face my demons alone! So there . . .

Sunday, May 13, 2007

She's Committed

Gawd . . she's put a deposit on a trip. Not just any trip but South America, Canada, Ireland and England . . . at least ClareBear has decided to book an Adventure Tour, I was worried about two nubile nymphettes travelling Brazil and Peru on their lonesome. The know people in Montreal and London so that's Ok too. Ireland and England were new additions to me. Sometimes you've gotta read your kid's blog to see what they're up to. At least my washing load will diminish . . .


I've just come back from a lovely breakfast at The Secret Garden, a Balinese style cafe close to home where I had scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and rocket/avocado/tomato salsa and two latte's so now I'm flying! My darling ClareBear bought me a night in a luxury apartment in the city next weekend so we're going to have a weekend away and be decadent in silly robes, spas and crisp hotel sheets and maybe shop and do lunch and all that good girly stuff.

DrummerBoy, spared the wrapping but bought me a new draining rack which I desperately need, a pair of fairaisle knitted slipper socks (very cool and go well with my Nepalese mountain hat so now I have the complete dags outfit), a Picnic chocolate bar - interesting choice - some pink and white lillies and of course the DVD of Happy Feet! I am a happy camper! Love yous both!

Saturday, May 12, 2007


My beloved Iron Chef has been replaced by the smelly finals of the Eurovision Song Contest! WTF! We have some pretty respectable Bulgarian drummers a dreadful Cypriot flat fling and a Russian Gaybo with creepy dancers. Will someone tell me, is this serious. I remember many many years ago someone called Sandy Shaw winning this thing with bare feet and a song called Puppet on a String and Buck's Fizz with something else, I can't remember. They don't even play live, there are no fold backs, leads or amps . .believe me I've been a drummy mummy for years and I understand the technology behind a gig . . is it serious or a should I be taking it with a grain of salt? Save me. I want to watch Japanese chefs destroying giant octopus!

The Long and the Short of It

I really am postponing the inevitable this morning. It's 10.00 and I'm still in my tracky daks avoiding housework. ClareBear's still asleep so its an excuse not to rattle around like Sadie the Cleaning Lady. The previous post on Oddwords got me thinking about what I think is an Australian phenomenon - the alteration of someones name, given or surname. We have a compulson to shorten long names, lengthen short ones or designate a nick name rather than call someone by the name their parents must have anguished over for nine months while their little darlings were cooking in-utero.

Thompson becomes Thommo
Bainbridge becomes Baino
Smith becomes Smithy
Thorpe becomes Thorpey
Fitzgerald or Fitzpatrick becomes Fitzy
Dunn becomes Dunny (may your chickens turn into emus and knock yer dunny down)

If you have red hair, you're Bluey and if you have white hair you're Snowy
If your ears stick out, you're a Wingnut
If your nose is larger than most you might get Schnoz
If you're height challenged, it's Shorty or the tall may get Stretch

If you're Asian you're a Curry Muncher, South East Asian a Minga or Italian you're a Wog, Americans are Septic Tanks, English are Pommies and the Irish are all Micks or Paddys. New Zealanders are Kiwi's and aboriginals Abbo's (non PC) Boongs or Petrol Sniffers

Even my kids names were carefully chosen to avoid alteration but it didn't work.
Clare gets Clarey or Clarence or Baino (yep I stole it)
If you're Adam, it's Ad or AddyB
Helen becomes Hells or Hellsy

. . . or there's
Dazza, Gazza, Mick, Gerry and Robbo

I'm guilty of it myself with friends who have names like Teen for Kristina, Dame for Damian, Marky Boy for Mark, Rob for Robynne, Ros for Roslyn, Jude for Judith and that doesn't include the myriad of stupid greetings such as Possum, Poppet, Cariad, Sweet-Pea, Dahls and Chicken Lips. All terms of endearment I assure you.

The only thing I draw the line at is being called Ma or Mrs B. Makes me sound like some rotund ancient washer woman with pendulous bossoms and a large floral dress with an apron donning the front. My nickname has always been Nell . I hated it as a child but as kids, my friend and I were playing this silly game where you spell your name backwards and mine was Neleh Nnud . . . I guess I was fated to have even those who didn't know my father's 'pet' name for me to call me Nellie - and I've been Nell ever since. I don't mind so much now as long as I don't get formal invitations with it written inside and as long as I'm introduced by my real name so that people don't think my parents had the bad judgement to actually christen me with such an old fashioned nome de plume.

So be prepared . . . you will not be called your 'real' name unless you insist upon it. It's simply un-Australian


I love cut flowers. What woman doesn't. These days I don't get them unless I buy them for myself. In the old days, Ray would bring me flowers every Friday night. Nothing flash just the sort of weird coloured collection you get from the local petrol station only he bought them from a guy in a ute who used to tweak the guilt of passing male motorists and cause them to stop and purchase a $10 bunch for their wives or girlfriends. It worked. Then on birthdays, Mother's day and anniversaries I'd be embarrassed in a delightful way as huge arrangements would be delivered to work and I'd be drawn to reception by a loud announcement and surrounded by giggly women asking who the fragrant stems were from. Ray again. He never forgot. Even through the many funerals we've had over past years, fabulous bouquets have adorned the piano and it seemed a shame that so much money was spent on such extravagance which could not be appreciated during the saddest of times. When my dad died, we asked people not to send flowers but to donate to the Cancer Council and the house looked unusually empty as only a few defiant mourners sent their gorgeous tributes.

It's too hot for cut flowers to survive long in the summer, especially since we don't have air conditioning. In fact a fantastic thick bunch of variegated roses that Babysis bought for Babybro's 25th Anniversary in February literally wilted before our eyes on a 35 degree day. Such a shame as they had real fragrance, something unusual these days when roses are bred for looks rather than their scent.

These days I buy flowers for myself although occasionally if I'm feeling blue or a 'thank you' is in the air, ClareBear or DrummerBoy will indulge me. Usually with Lilliums of some kind, they last a fortnight and provide beautiful waxy colour in my plain glass vase on the kitchen bench. During the summer, it contains good quality but still fake silk flowers that never wilt but are now looking like they need a dust. (something not quite right about that).

Tomorrow is Mother's Day in the southern hemisphere so maybe i'll get a bunch of flowers - then again, maybe I'll get a new dish rack . . . which is what I, the ever practical and pragmatic mother, have requested. For some reason the chrysanthemum has become the flower of choice on mother's day. I don't like them, they're boring and yellow and white and smell like cat pee. But we're having breakfast in a cafe within a nursery with BabySis and ThePlumber out our way in the morning, so I might just lash out and buy myself a bunch of something fragrant. For the rest of you mums out there, have a wonderful day and spoil yourself or get someone to spoil you. It's only one day a year but we deserve it! Happy Mother's Day.

Friday, May 11, 2007


The following were results for an Ozwords Competition where entrants were asked to take an Australian colloquialism, alter it by only one letter, and supply a new and witty definition. You clearly need to be an Aussie to understand.

Billabonk: to make passionate love beside a waterhole.
Bludgie: a partner who doesn't work but is kept as a pet.
Dodgeridoo: a fake indigenous artefact.
Fair drinkum: good quality Aussie wine.
Flatypus: a cat that has been run over by a vehicle.
Mateshit: all your flat mate's belongings lying strewn around the floor.
Shagman: an unemployed male roaming the Australian bush in search of sexual activity.
Yabble: the unintelligible language of Australian freshwater crustaceans.
Bushwanker: a pretentious drongo who reckons he's above average when it comes to handling himself in the scrub.
Crackie daks: 'hipster' tracksuit pants.
Shornbag: a particularly attractive naked sheep

Interntional readers: just ask if you don't know what the 'root' word means
Aussie readers: feel free to add to the list

Creature of Habit or Compulsive Obsessive?

I am an addictive personality. Just ask my friends. I’m addicted to cigarettes, alcohol, good food (I emphasise the ‘good’), routine, cleanliness, tidiness, obligation, fair play, DVD’s . . . they say there’s an ‘addictive’ gene and if so, I think I’ve got it. Or maybe I’m just weirdly compulsive after all the change in my life . . .

My symptoms are:

  • I smoke – although I’m trying to cut down, never smoke at work or in the car I’m still managing to puff about 10-16 nurrells a day.
  • I drink – my attempts at an alcohol free midweek have improved greatly but I have fallen off the wagon a couple of times.
  • I am tidy – I have to have clear benches and floors, straighten the towels, wash the dishes, sweep the floor before Ileave for work in the morning. Things have to be just so and if they’re not when I get home the Banshee breaks out.
  • I am a creature of habit – I rise at 6.00am and NEVER lie in, walk the dog, have a shower, get dressed, go to work at 7:50. Lunch at 1:30 and dinner . . . well that’s flexible depending on who’s home but never before 8.00. Saturdays – Go to Babysis' for coffee, do the washing, clean the house, change the sheets, check the pool, blow the leaves. Shop on Sunday afternoon.
  • I have to have a cup of coffee at 11:00 in the morning and 3:30 in the afternoon or I am not pleasant
  • I have to make my bed every morning whether there’s a dog on it or not
  • I have to iron my T shirts (although I draw the line at linen and tea towels)
  • I have to have the last word on emails (this can be a particular problem if emailing someone else who has to have the last word on emails)
  • The toilet paper has to hang 'over' the roll not 'under' with the pattern facing up
  • I have to intefere on the rare occasions that my children cook because they’re messy little morons in the kitchen.
  • I HAVE to check my regular stable of blogs before I start work in the morning (this means coming in earlier of course)

It's not all bad . . . I'm addicted to friendships, principles, good manners, loyalty, family, hugs and love . . . but having identified the ‘disease’. I am now resolving that from today, I’m going to be a little more spontaneous and a little less dictated to by my addictions and obsessions . . .

Nope . . . it’s no good . . . I just can’t do it. I is what I is.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Change is the Only Constant

I hate change even though I live with it, work with it and 'deal' with it constantly. I've changed countries, schools, states, marital status, jobs, hair colour, weight, looks, political sides, interests, friends, tastes, moods, circumstances, lifestyle - everything in my life involves change, random and constant. Frankly my dears . . .I'm totally pissed off with it. I want to sit in an armchair looking at the view, patting my dog with some certainty in my life. Just one constant. I want to know the whole family will get together on Sundays, high days and holidays, that my income is secure and regular and that the only thing I have to worry about is planning a break in the routine. I'm over surprises (unless they're presents). I'm over not knowing what's going to happen, I'm over not feeling secure and safe.

. . and now, another change. Thommo has switched Tennis days to Friday so my lovely chardy lunch partner will not be coming to work and our lunches are a thing of the past. Actually, I'm thankful for the many Friday Chardy Lunches we've had and I know nothing lasts forever, plus I'm on the wagon at the moment so they'd just be plain old Friday Lunches. I'm sorry we didn't have a chance for a 'last lunch' tho.ugh. So . . . without even 'toasting' the last official Friday Chardy Lunch . . . it's all over red rover! I guess there'll be the odd 'bye' at tennis and I'm sure I'll get back on the wagon one day . . . and when that happens . . .we'll do lunch!

Just Because . .

Identity Crisis

The MerryWidow is on the edge of her trip to Estonia. She’s of Estonian derivation but has never been there. She has a strong cultural identity. This is shared by many 1st, 2nd and ongoing generations of Australians. I may have blogged about this before but as a white, anglo-saxon, with an English heritage, I really feel this lack of connection with any ‘culture’ or nationality. We have huge Greek, Italian, Vietnamese, Indian, Lebanese communities here and many other racial minorities all of whom embrace their Australianism (with the exception of a teensy weensy Mulsim bunch who get more press than they deserve) but all of whom retain their cultural identity through national organisations, their food, their customs, religion or language. I feel like a fish out of water sometimes.

I lack pride in my heritage. I have nothing against the English at large but the thought of our only historical claims to fame being world domination and the Morris Dance bothers me. I’ve been back there a number of times as a child and an adult. I have friends there who are fabulous, fun, good sense of humour but none have this cultural ‘connection’ that people from other nations bring to their new homes.

Australians are trying desperately to develop a cultural identity. Often it revolves around an illegible ‘ocker’ accent and the use of ‘strine’ (an equivalent to Amurkin and Oirsh). So much so, that I could write a dictionary, correcting foreigners on pronunciation. Oh, I forgot, that’s already been done.

But we are so homogenised here that there are no obvious differences even in accent, despite the country being almost the size of the US and only 20 million people spread throughout. There are those from regional areas, affectionately known as “The Bush” and the coastal dwelling towns and cities but we all sound the same, except for the odd difference on vowel pronunciation or the addition of ‘aye’ at the end of country Australian’s sentences. For the most part we dress the same and we largely think the same and I can guarantee that EVERY Australian owns a pair of thongs.

So here I sit, within a country I love but not feeling part of it. With a heritage I’m not particularly proud of although I wish I could be. I don’t talk strine, I’m very well spoken even though I might ham it up on occasion. I do use Australian colloquialisms occasionally but only for effect and I like the way CRIKEY! Looks in capitals, it speaks volumes of enthusiasm thanks to that crocodile guy.

Recent research has found that in an historically short period, Australia has become one of the most diverse and successful multicultural nations in the world.
  • Australians are free spirits who are easy going, people who like to have fun and enjoy life. They do not take themselves seriously nor do they engage in “pomp and ceremony”.
    They are open-minded, optimistic, honest, decent, down to earth, and friendly.
  • We like to help others: Australians are generous of spirit and committed to helping others by giving a “hand-up”. We also support the underdog and confront the bully. It’s important to ‘be there for your mate’.
  • Respectful of other cultures: Australians are tolerant of a range of cultures, egalitarian in nature, and embrace diversity.
  • Good Workers: innovative thinkers who engaged in team work, great competitors committed to the pursuit of excellence, and hard workers who valued reward for effort.
  • Committed to “having a go” : It doesn’t matter how hard the task, we just get on with whatever we are doing. We’ve taken the best of different cultures in our country to make a very Australian mix.
  • Mateship: Australians highly value mates and establish strong friendships based on loyalty to friends. Family and mates are the most important people our lives.
  • A Fair Go For All: Australia has become the most egalitarian society the world has ever seen and Australia’s values are a product of a deep sense of social equality.
  • Love of Country : Australians shared a genuine and intimate love of their country and a see it as a land of opportunity

Australia was characterised as religious, based upon democracy, peaceful and secure, and providing both a “good life” and “education for all”. We were also found to be a nation who liked to renovate homes, loved drinking beer and loved to entertain by holding a barbeque.

No respondents considered economic, scientific or cultural endeavour as an important aspect of national identity. Significantly, this result differs from findings in other nations where contributions to economic, scientific or cultural endeavours have been identified as an important part of their national identity. Could have something to do with the fact that our best minds, scientists, cultural identities have to move overseas to get the recognition they deserve.

Then again, we did invent:

The cardboard wine cask (Goon Bag)
The Hills Clothes Hoist
The Esky and it’s child the BYO Bottle Holder
The combine harvester
The Cochlear Implant
The Wave Piercing Catamaran (ferry)
The Differential gear
The Black Box Flight Recorder
The ‘ute’ (small pick-up)
Variable Ratio Rack and Pin Steering
The Electric Drill
Kiwi Shoe Polish (ironic)
Latex Gloves and other bits
The Two-Stroke Lawn Mower
Garage Roller Doors
Polymer Bank Notes . . . .shall I go on, and on, and on?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Basher Bainbridge and Grievous Greaves

My best friend Thommo is one of those people who can walk through a door and do real damage to her funny bone. She's thin as a whip. You could fit three of her in a normal doorway yet every time, well almost every time she walks through one, she smashes her shoulder or elbow. She's the one that will walk behind the car and crack her shins on the tow bar. The one that will cut her finger opening a tupperware container, split her lip licking an envelope or stab herself with a paper clip. She's notorious for self injury. She was ironing once in her undies and managed to burn a neat line right across her perpetually flat stomach . . . I have no idea how that happened.

Match her with me and we're an awesome combination. My claim to fame, breaking breakables. Every Christmas I'm given at least a dozen champagne glasses and if there are any left by June, I'm travelling well. I choose generically white plates because my pretty Wedgewood blue and white plates are strictly reserved for 'best' in case I smash one of the set and can't replace them. I contstantly knock handles of mugs and have a box of mismatched ones nestled in the back of my corner crockery cupboard. I was inspired to blog this as I've just broken my large pyrex mixing bowl and spent half an hour painstakingly sweeping tiny shards from the floor. Slate floors are bad for bashers. I also have a load of those milk shake glasses. The 1950's retro style ones with grooved sides but the bastards shatter like a windscreen if you so much as put them in water that's too hot or nudge the flickmixer with them while you're washing up. Just as well I bought a 16 pack on special! In fact, once, not so long ago, I had 8 generously sized asian bowls, perfect for soup, noodles, laksa, curries or even spag bol . . . only two remain and one of those is chipped. I'm a liability . . .thank goodness we don't go out much together other than our Chardy lunches on Friday . . . the world as we know it would not be safe with the two of us on the streets for any prolonged period of time. See Grandad, I wasn't joking when I suggested shipping your Sully and Cully or Cully and Sully bowls down under . . .maybe I should revert to melamine.

I Spoke Too Soon

Wouldn't you know it. After the previous accolade afforded my progeny, one of them is now in the bad books. The lawn remains unmown despite his promises, two wet towels and an uncovered doona (from the weekend) along with the once neatly folded replacement cover plus an assortment of smelly clothes festooned about his bedroom floor. The bed is unmade as usual and he insists on hanging the bathmat over the shower not his wet towel. There were dirty dishes in the sink and pieces of Malaysian Noodle strewn all over the floor. Beer bottle tops and a coffee cup on the computer desk and sofa cushions in a state of chaos and I haven't even started on the mud covered bike boots in the laundry leaving sods of clay all over the floor. Not to mention university papers strewn from here to kingdom come. He isn't home tonight, playing in two bands, not one and having the time of his life! There is an eviction notice nailed to his bedroom door!

Sorry Clare for bearing the brunt of my wrath! He will get his comeuppence.

A Credit to Their Parent

I’ve never been one of those parents that brings out the school report for all and sundry or placed the sports trophies in a conspicuously obvious place. I’ve admired and rewarded my children for their efforts by helping them to set goals. Once the goal is achieved, they then feel the sense of accomplishment and it’s really not necessary to brag about it to others. BabyBro’s family are both bright and sporty and all through their growing years, I was reminded, along with others, of their fantastic grand final wins, their placement in gifted and talented classes and their academic prowess. Over the long term, one finished a degree and now works in a bar, the other took 5 years to complete an Electrical Apprenticeship and the other who qualified to go to university is now doing an administrative traineeship. Not that there’s anything wrong with this but all that academic bragging hasn’t played out yet. (I say yet because the ‘trades’ in Australia are definitely lucrative so JimmyD might well yet prove he’s got what it takes to make a million.)
Besides being two of the most loyal, friendly, dedicated, helpful and wonderful friends I know, my children have turned into tremendous adults without the bragging and accolades. As a single mum, I’ve tried to keep it real and help them understand the life is full of joys and disappointments and that it’s unrealistic to expect that you won’t experience a range of both.

They have learned to work to achieve their goals. ClareBear set a really early goal to go to Disneyland. I told her that if she never had “could do better’ on her report card, I’d take her when she finished primary school. She was good to her word and we had an extended holiday for 3 months in 1995. She’s had a part time job since she was 15 years old which has allowed her to travel to Japan, Vanuatu, Italy, Greece and to run her own car.

DrummerBoy’s goals were simpler . . . a remote control car, a few hours in a go-cart, a Drum Kit . . . but when he’s motivated, he too can achieve his goals and get what he wants out of life. He too has worked since he was 16 years old as a labourer, a salesman at Target and now as a landscaper and Pool Shop attendance, all whilst attending uni full time. He's spent two of his four month end of year holidays pulling data cables through roofs and labouring on posh gardens in 35 degree heat. He’s managed to kit himself with a pocket bike, a car and a trail bike (and an inordinate amount of beer and Yagermeister) which gives him hours of pleasure.

The point I’m making is that I am absolutely bursting with pride. Not just because they’re achievers but because they’re humble, hard working and genuinely nice people. So imagine my disappointment when ClareBear said last week that she doesn’t want to attend her graduation! Students have the choice but she’s so over University, which ended badly emotionally with GymJunkie dropping her on the last day, on the phone, on the freeway . . . Feelin-alright-not-feelin-too-good

I can’t say I blame her, sitting for two hours in a mortarboard and gown for the 30 second handshake amongs 1000 other students (NSW University is huge) but I did so want a picture of my lovely girl being acknowledged for 4 years hard work. Some justification for the destruction of my dining table with scalpels, model glue and fabric dyes and inks and the inability to have a sit-down meal between semesters because it resembled an artists garret. I guess I wanted some closure to four years of absolute highs and devastating lows and an official farewell to the pretentiousness of the artists and architects who called themselves ‘Tutors’ when in fact their egos were so big there was no room for serious mentoring of up-and-comers.

All’s good now. She has a good job, good money and a fun crowd to work with and it all seems so far from last year.

Ah well . . .we’ll have a very special celebratory lunch, somewhere by the sea with a view, along with the Grandparents and extended family. I’ll present her with her framed degree and just for fun, I might even make her sit there in a cap and gown!
I’m really proud of you darlings . . . you have fulfilled all my expectations and proven to me that as a parent, I did something right.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

An Epiphany

I've just come back from my weekly battle at the supermarket and taking ThePrincess for a walk. It's a beautiful autumn day, about 26 degrees, the sun is shining and I'm exhausted. It's probably only the third time I've worn the running shoes I bought last winter! Having this time to think, whilst she sniffed every blade of grass, chased the ducks, and sploshed around in the pond at the end of the street, I've actually managed to make an 'affirmation'. I'm overweight, as serial substance abuser, quite lonely and something has to be done. I've been relying on selling the property as the panacea for all my ills as it will provide me with significant financial independence and allow me to do the things I really want to do - travel, go to the theatre, refurbish a home . . .take on a hobby or two and even semi-retire.

Four years down the track and developers are conspicuous by their absence despite loads of building activity on our perimeter and the only offers we've had have not met the mark so do I wait, get more and more bored and unhealthy or is it time to seriously tackle the problem? It's a no brainer. I have a sedentary job, I'm physically lazy because exercise is hard and I drink too much. Because I drink, I also smoke too much. At my age, this is just ridiculous. I don't smoke at all at work. I don't even think about it but in the evening, once I get home, it's nothing to knock off a bottle of wine and half a packet of cigarettes. I've realised that at $12 a packet, plus the cost of even the cheapest wine, I'm squandering about $500 a month or more and that's a conservative estimate. No wonder I'm constantly short of cash? I'm also getting more lonely and morose as the kids are now leading a life of their own and I'm left to my own devices more and more with little left over cash to entertain or get out and about doing the things I love. But this now is going to end. Tomorrow, I'm going to begin eating breakfast and get the old metabolism firing. I'm not a big eater so my body is in a constant state of 'famine' conserving energy and resisting weight loss. My evening drinky poos are also packing on the sugar and the fact that I have given up my before-work-walks with Lily is also a big contributor and even she is looking depressed at not having the opportunity for a run in the morning.

So, this is it . . .I'm not yet fit enough to join ClareBear at the Gym and winter is approaching so it's a good time to tackle the issue in the cool. I dread another summer where I feel breathless and lacking in energy when the mercury rises. I want to go to the beach and not hide under an umbrella, I want to wear a pair of shorts and a strappy top to show off my tan. I want to go into a shop and buy something that fits first time and looks fabulous. Most of all, I want to 'feel' better. I want to banish this lethargy and have the energy to take up an interest that doesn't rely on family or friends, something solitary and rewarding . . . I'm not saying I won't drink the odd glass on the weekend and I'm not going cold turkey on the cigs . . . but the current rate of imbibing and puffery has to stop. My excuses have now dissipated and I have no reason for being the sloth I have become. There's a bottle of Bollinger chilling in the fridge. This will be my swan song.

Tomorrow . . . the health kick begins . . . wish me luck!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Too Short, Too Tight, Too Tarty

We don't argue . . .well we don't 'fight' we often have heated discussions and lively debates. I'm in the habit of returning from work and screaming like a banshee because someone's left a dirty cup in the sink or hasn't hung their wet towell over the shower rail. But apart from that . . .we have a very harmonious household. DrummerBoy knows to avoid me when I'm on a tyrade and once I've cooled down, we discuss things rationally. ClareBear is so even tempered that she either ducks for cover or obliges straight away to keep the peace. However . . . there is one thing upon which we do not see eye to eye . . .most times she goes out on a Saturday, dressed to kill - attractive, slightly sexy but tasteful . . . sometimes when she goes out . . .she looks like a tart. She thinks she looks like a sex bomb. OK could be the jealous, grumpy old woman in me but this girl is petite, pretty, good natured, intelligent . . . so why tonight, ready to go out and about clubbing in the city's red light district of all places, did she look like a street walker. Grey suede calf length boots, a piece of denim wrapped around her hips that was a poor excuse for a skirt, a skimpy black singlet top and a purple wide leather belt and enough eye makeup to make a transvestite proud. Everything was too small, too short, too tight too over the top. Am I just jealous because it's been years since I'd fit into, let alone dare to wear, something so provocative? I gave her the 'look' and was quickly repremanded and told to pull my head in but . . . sorry sweetheart, you're better than that, you're a beautiful girl and you don't need to dress to attract Sydney's sleaze bags . . . time we went shopping.

Aha, so maybe that's her cunning plan . . .

What Constitutes a Pie

The latest spates of 'interview me's' has been quite revealing and because I'm between hanging out the washing and doing the vaccuming (something which makes me a little tired due to my recent bout of snots) I had a quick look at Grandads blog. He's hijacked some questions and caused a trans Atlantic controversy about what constitutes a pie! Brian has decided that pies can only be sweet, surrounded by pastry and preferably filled with fruit or something sticky. I'm inclined to agree that in order to be a pie, pastry must be involved.

Grandad likes the mashed potato type, Shepherds, Fish and similar. Here, we have mastered the meat pie. It's a football-goers staple, available in every school canteen and only occasionally contains pieces of plastic or the odd rat's dropping. The Australian Meat pie is about 12cm across, neatly hand sized. It generally contains what is loosely considered ground beef in a gloopy gravy although I suspect those little gristly bits are lips and assholes. By law, it needs to contain only 25% meat. It is eaten hot and topped with tomato sauce although that in itself promotes controversy. Do you slop the sauce on the top of the lid and risk it splotching all over your T shirt or do you poke the sauce dispenser into the crust and give it a generous squirt? If you live in South Australia you have what is affectionately termed a 'floater' and top your pie with mushy peas. Then there are the gourmet pies - Thai chicken curry, peppercorn and mushroom or cottage pie with lashings of reconstituted mashed potato. Personally, I'm not a lover of the pie - it's very un-Australian of me but there you go.

And for the record . . . a burger is not a burger unless it contains a meat patti, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, beetroot, plastic cheese and tomato or BBQ sauce . . . the pickle is a fabrication of MacDonalds and totally inappropriatee . . . and if you want a burger with 'the lot' it also involves a fried egg and a rasher of bacon!

"So where's the egg, bacon and beetroot?"

Friday, May 04, 2007

Flu Schmoo

I am sick today. I'm a pathetic, 'male' kinda sick where I want someone to tuck me in on a couch and make me dippy egg and soldier boys with strong cups of tea and watch crappy daytime TV. I had a flu injection a few weeks back so it's not flu but it didn't prevent me coming down with the snots. My eyes itch and my ears are sore and my nose is red despite the use of aloe vera tissues. I'm such a woos. The only drugs I've got is a zinc echenacia blend of herbal do nothings. And its a Friday which means according to the sick leave policy that I introduced to keep the Gen Y's honest, I have to go to the doctor, tell him I have a cold so that he can write me a certificate so that I can prove I'm not fudging. Worst of all, there isn't a mint slice to be found and my tissue box is empty so I've resorted to using toilet paper and had to forfeit my chardylunch with Thommo - not that I can taste anything . . . excuse me while I go and put on my ug boots and wallow in self pity.

A Girly Thing

It's a girly thing I suspect but I've always had an obsession with horses. From that first donkey ride from Shenton's farm where we used to get our free range eggs to now being the custodian of two retired nags who are passing time in Babysis' paddock and sure that they have retired from the arduous chore of being ridden.

As a kid, I would ask for money for birthdays, high days and holidays to have a riding lesson or day trek and my Nanna who was very generous, bought me flash jodphurs and a jacket and a velvet hat that was too big so I looked like a right royal ponce on a pony. After emigrating, she sent me 200 pounds when I was 12 and I bought my first horse. A 2 year old slender little cremello with bright blue eyes. She looked like a liberty horse and although just broken in, she had no idea about riding aids and persisted in rearing every time I swung the leg over. We ended up going to 'school' she being coaxed by a carrot in my Dad's right hand and a dig of the heels by me. I had Dusty for over 7 years. We rode over hill and dale, freeways and highways. She was enduring and willing and only difficult when in season and persisted in kicking out at any other horse who sniffed her bum at that time. The rearing stopped and we had many an adventure. Someone approached me whilst riding one day and offered to buy her from me as her 'type' was good for throwing Palominos apparently (not literally - horsey term for giving birth). So, in need of a car and at 17 years of age, I parted with my pretty pony. I visited for a couple of years and she had two beautiful anglo arab foals before I lost interest.

Then at about 22 years old, I went with a friend to a horse sale, an auction. I'd never been to one before but was curious. They were all paints, kitted out in stock or western gear and one stood out from the crowd. Black and white, stocky quarter horse type, very pretty. I got my friend to lend me the $400 needed to outbid the knackery and arranged for the horse to be delivered to our suburban back garden before going off to work at my part time job! I had nothing. No halter, no bridle and definitely no saddle and more importantly, no place to agist him so he spent the night in the swimming pool enclosure.

I wouldn't recommend this way of buying a horse. You don't get to catch it or ride it first. He was a sublime ride but as an ex rodeo pony had two speeds - stop and fast. He came with papers so I knew he was 10 years old but catch the bastard? I don't think so. He had other ideas and no matter how much bribery was offered, getting that halter on was a major event. Often three of us would try to corner him with a long rope. Once caught, he was like a baby. Bombproof and the most beautiful ride. BabySis also had a love of horses so our first mistake was Luke, an ex trotter who rarely broke into a canter. We persisted with the 'mule' but you couldn't tie him up without him breaking the reins and galloping back along the bitumen to the safety of his paddock. He was also too big and after breaking her arm in a fall, he had to be sold. He looked fantastic the day he left, we'd fed him up and brushed him down. Poor sap that bought him!

Then we bought Shane to keep Nicky company and as a safer option for BabySis, he was fantastic. Not pretty but reliable. He stayed with us until boys and cars took over and spent the last of his days as a farmer's wife's weekend ride in the country. Nicky stayed with me until he finally went down on his last legs. He was euthanased and buried in the back paddock bless his little white socks.

Then after a long break, my sister was having trouble getting pregnant and decided that Dressage might provide the necessary distraction to help her 'relax' and conceive. She bought Brutus. A 17.3 hand giant ex racehorse who had been schooled in the fine art of dressage. Problem was, that as soon as he got out into the open, he thought he was back on the track so riding anywhere other than an arena was madness. She went her way and never enjoyed the magic of trail riding on him. He lasted 2 years before she finally did conceive and was sold on, now all she's left with is a very expensive pair of top boots!

I had another rush of blood to the head and decided to buy ClareBear a pony. Maybe one that I could also ride and so Lasalle Royal Flash (Laurie) came into our lives. A pure bred Arab with lots of stamina. Pretty to look at but the king of bluff and a complete poo factory. Riding him was like walking in the woods with Hansel. I'm sure he shat himself every 50 metres just in case he got lost and needed to find his way home - you would know him by his trail of poo. Again, moving forward and rearing was the test he put ClareBear through ant at 15.3 hands, he was just too big for a 12 year old. I had no such problems with him - heavier and more experienced, so I adopted him as mine and we began the search for something more suitable for the kid.

After buying 6 horses over a lifetime, we finally got it right with Yorkston Classic (Chippy) a 13 hand Welsh Mountain, Australian Stud Book Pony built like a brick shithouse. He'd done the show circuit by age 7 and was perfect. Bombproof, traffic proof, solid and to this day thrives on the smell of grass. Besides the attitude of a short man (arrogant and too big for his boots) he provided another few years of pleasure when mum and daughter would go to riding club or ride over the back which is now occupied by office blocks, 500sqm building locks and millionaire mansions. It was once over 100 acres of fields and poplars, creeks, trails and galloping tracks. I never had a car big enough to tow a horse float so we became land locked and as our trails diminished, so did our desire to ride.

Now that our lovely riding space has gone and I guess ClareBear's interest has moved on to boys and the beach, Laurie and Chippy reside in Glenorie. They're petted and patted, fed geriatric horse mix and occasionally preened and manicured or brought out to perform at the odd children's birthday party. Their manes are matted but they're happy campers and showing no sign of decline other than Chippy's dark grey dapples have faded to white and Laurie's muscle tone aint what it was but at 25 years of age, he's looking pretty good.

So, the silliest purchases I've ever made are now two pieces of scenery that need to be fed, watered and tended to . . . someone told me that it's not unusual for an arab to live to 40!

Crikey . . .what a commitment.