Thursday, January 20, 2011


Love Chunks and Sapphire have gone camping. Because it was booked a while back when it was assumed that I'd be well into my full-time job and not have any leave, I wasn't part of the holiday package.

When I quit, I decided to remain a non-camper because the thought of spending six nights in a tent in a crowded caravan park at the height of summer and having to queue for a shower and make sure I didn't drop my knickers on a wet floor festooned with pubes and tissues wasn't going to convince me otherwise. Plus, it'd give me a few luxuriously-empty days to do a bit more work on The Novel.

And I have done some work, the emphasis on some rather than heaps. None of it is particularly literary or engrossing but the effort right now is just getting it down; sometimes an entire chapter and other times a mere idea or line destined for another section of the story entirely. I'll then sit outside with a coffee and Skipper the rabbit in my lap and wonder if it's interesting, realistic, funny, heartfelt, compelling, page-turning enough.... The trouble is I honestly haven't a clue. Like everyone else, I know a good book when I read one but am finding it impossible to distance myself from the words that are flying out of my fingertips. All previous knowledge of structure and character and plot have escaped me.

Vomit it out, get it down and only think about logging off when you're happy with the word count for the day has been the modus operandi.

But all this free time has made me a bit droopy for my two favourite humans when the computer is turned off and my mind has to focus on what to cook for dinner. No, I'm not pining for Love Chunks because of his cooking skills but am sadly aware that, on my own I degenerate straight back to the carelessly slapdash meal preparer that used to live in a one-roomed bedsit off Baker Street in London twenty years ago.

How does home made potato wedges and tomato sauce sound? Okay but a bit plain? Well I then followed it up with a 'salad' that consisted of half a cucumber and a small head of cos, both eaten separately and whole. Dessert was half a bowl of orange-flavoured jelly and a blackberry yoghurt with a use-by date of December 29th.

Dinner the previous night was a pasta disaster that consisted only of a tin of chopped tomatoes, four mushrooms, half a green capsicum and an ancient tin of mussels in barbecue sauce. It tasted as bad as it deserved to taste, the crunch of each poorly-cooked capsicum a direct contrast to the rubber of the oversized sultanas that were masquerading as seafood.

Monday was the highlight - pea and prawn risotto with a fresh salad (in a bowl and everything) with balsamic and smoked garlic salt. But that was only because my friend Amanda was over for dinner; the following morning it was back to saladas for breakfast, Cadbury creme eggs and coffee for lunch. While she was there we each had a glass of good and earthy McLaren Vale cab sav and, three nights later, the bottle beckoned to me.

Hell, I needed it to wash away all lingering tastes of the mussel mess. Tennis was boring, the computer was off and my shoulders hurt from being hunched over it for too long and 'Are you being served?' was not an option. It was time to bring Skipper in to play on the rug.

Milly licked his ears and let him sniff her in turn, an impressive display of self restraint and generosity for a dog who chases birds and cats with automatic vengeance and no willingness to be called to heel. The wine was flowing a treat and, the merrier I got, the funnier I found it.

The evening was warm and it was time to get up and refill my glass. Skipper was stretched out on the floor, his legs behind him which meant that he was feeling comfy and not worried about predators. Milly's nails clicked as she trotted into the kitchen with me. Wine, boredom and loneliness meant that it was time for a song.

Grabbing her front paws so that she'd dance with me, I began:

Her name was Milly she was a showgirl
With yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there
Milly merengues and does the cha-cha
And while she tried to be a star, Skipper always tended bar
At the Copa - Co! - Copacabana
The hottest spot north of Havana
At the Copa - Co! - Copacabana
Music and passion were always the fashion
At the Copa....they fell in lo-o-o-o-o-ve......

"Er, Barry Manilow? Um are you there, Kath?"

Oh staple my butt to an anthill and smear my cheeks with chocolate: I'd left the bloody front door wide open to allow the non-existent cool breeze to flow through the screen and Kerry from next door was on the front step having just been treated to my loud and rather enthusiastic performance. Sheepishly, I walked up the passage. "Er, hi. Yep, it's me. What can I do for you?"

A couple of minutes later I shut both doors and went into the bathroom. Spots of red wine were all over my white Che Guevara t-shirt and my teeth and gums were black from the tannins. Several fine rabbit hairs were wavering from the tip of my nose, catching the light just so.

It was the only time in my life that I hoped someone could tell that I was drunk.


franzy said...

Please please please please please please please please tell me that "mussels in barbeque sauce" is a typo.

Reminds me of my own heady psuedo-bachelor days on Bribie Island where I used to get drunk and eat the same stir-fry night after night. Then there was the time where I went to get some top-spin onto the stir-fry with cumin and grabbed the cinnamon instead.

Even with all the imagination in the world, you cannot pretend that hot-x bun inspired beef soy stir fry is any good.

Keep writing.

Kath Lockett said...

Sadly no, Franzy. No. How it got into our pantry in the first place is a mystery even greater than the idea that mussels and BBQ sauce would make a winning blend.

Oooh, the cinnamon mistake has been replicated in this house too, but by a sober Love Chunks who reached for the smoked paprika and grabbed the jar on the left by mistake. Our lamb hot pot was instantly rendered as delicious as your cinnamon beer stir fry.

Hannah said...

AH! I've had those mussels in barbecue sauce! Because I love smoked oysters (though admittedly not in barbecue sauce), I thought I'd like the mussels. In fact, they were so revolting (such a gritty texture) that I haven't even been able to eat my once-beloved smoked oysters since either.


So great to hear you're working on the novel again! If only I still worked at the bookstore, I'd drag you in for a signing when it's published :P

Jayne said...

Dear God, I wish I'd read your blog about 45 mins earlier - opened and et a tin of the damn mussels in BBQ sauce *gag*.
Someone (who shall remain nameless but its very male and married to moi) brought that hideous creation into the house and will NOT be allowed to go shopping alone ever again.
You're allowed to be caught singing to the dog at least 3 times per year - more than that and the neighbours start to talk :P

R.H. said...

Sometimes I hear crashing instrumentals in my head, like Normie Rowe's 'Shaking All Over' and I roar out a verse. But it doesn't bring ladies to my door, they phone the police.

-Lord Rochester.

franzy said...

Whoa. Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa.

Am I reading this right?
Do these comments indicate that canned mussels are SOLD in bbq sauce??
You didn't just open the two separate items and combine?

Mon dieu!

Kath Lockett said...

Oooh smoked oysters Hannah - on top of a jatz cracker they're heavenly!

Oh Jayne I am so sorry - clearly they're a product that lure a few of us in at least once....

RH I'd rather rush over to hear your version of Shakin all over than my neighbour on the right side's hobby as a techno DJ or a guy on the right who tries to play (and sing) ACDC songs on his acoustic guitar....

No Franzy..... even *I* didn't think of the combination - John West did!

River said...

Mussels in barbecue sauce?
No wonder your pasta tasted awful!
Tsk Tsk.
Did Milly enjoy the dancing?

The Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day Kath,

Ha HA!! While everybody is going on about the prospect of mussels in barbecue sauce the highlight for me is your Barry Manilow impression. I've done that SOBER - (not sung Copacabana but other songs) - in full view of others, totally oblivious to them.

The best was in a car with the windows down, singing a rock song that included the lyrics "My body all painted lipstic red! We ripped the sheets right off the bed. My fingernails left fiery trails across your back - oh tell me baby - how'd you like that little pussy cat scratch! I'M SO HUNGRY FOR YOUR SEX!!"

It was female vocalist so doubly embarrassing.




R.H. said...

I'm having boiled rice tonight mixed with a small can of Coles Thai red curry tuna. Not very aristocratic but it's all I've got in the place. There's no dog food so I'm giving them two McCains pizzas remaining from a packet of four. Don't ever buy it, it's dreadful.

-Lord Rochester

Cat J B said...

Ha ha ha ha ha!

My worst door left open moment happen(s) when the spunky single bloke across the road comes out for work in the morning and I'm in my in-the-morning-mum-of-two-small-children look in all it's glory and he waves cheerily at me, so I can't even pretend it's not me....maybe some crazy aunt visiting instead? Sigh...

Lidian said...

I am glad I'm not the only one who sings "Copacabana" with new lyrics (mine have to do with bananas and are appallingly awful) -

I went camping once in northern Ontario at the height of summer, many years ago, and UGH. Loud birthday celebrants in next tent over, caterwauling at 1 am. Then-small children rolling me onto hard bit of sleeping-bag arrangement. And just too many caterpillars swinging down into the dinner, too.

Am SO glad you are working on The Novel! ( too. Trying to block all those oh-this-is-crap thoughts is HARD)

Andrew said...

Mussels in barbeque sauce. Oh dear. Of course there will be nudging among neighbours as you walk about the area now. She drinks you know.

Kath Lockett said...

River, Milly enjoys the dancing marginally more than she does a bath and a great deal less than a belly rub. 'Resigned to her fate' is the best way to put it.

Plasman at least you could roar off when the lights changed green. I see Kerry nearly every day....

RH we used to buy McCains when I was a kid and mum used to add more toppings because they were so scungy. Then she realised that she'd be better off buying plain pizza bases that didn't have the consistency of Hardiplank and starting from scratch. Did the dogs bury them or eat them?

CatJB, maybe the spunky guys likes his women Ala Early Morning Natural?

Lidian I even had Love Chunks admit this morning that 'camping is hard work and I'm glad to be home.' I've got a suspicion that he was referring to the bed, fridge and dishwasher but am prepared to take what I can get.

Andrew there's been nudging since we moved in two years ago and one of the tenants on the third floor in the block of flats next door dashes inside as soon as he sees me outside...!

R.H. said...

The dogs liked the McCains because it's mostly cheese. The entire thing looks as appetising as those pizzas my little daughter and her pals made in the back yard with a mud base and bits grass, twigs etc on top. I'd accept it from them and toss it into the lane.

"Camping is hard work."

I thought of something to say about that but I'm letting it go.

Kath Lockett said...

What was it, RH? You can't say that and leave me hanging....

R.H. said...

It's offensive to homosexuals.

-Lord Rochester.

R.H. said...

Attitudes are feared more than death.

R.H. said...

"Camping is hard work."

So is prostitution.

10thDoM said...

Come get drunk with us.

Kath Lockett said...

Ah, RH. I suspected it might have been along those lines.

But 10thDoM - there'll be singing. Bad singing. And animals...... ??

Pandora Behr said...

Glad the rest of the wine got put to good use.

And if it's any consolation, I was out on Saturday night with my gym mates. They had a best of the 80's. The 20 something Gen Y'ers had no idea I knew the words to such classics as Ant Music, Karma Chameleon, Love is a Battlefield and Total Eclipse of the Heart...

And at least you didn't use the Bazza classic, Mandy to sing to Milly.

Still chuckling.


R.H. said...

Of course you did, you knew, now you'll act all innocent. Meanwhile I'm offside with the homos.
Thanks very much!

-LORD ROCHESTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!

R.H. said...

And to think I was getting you a title too: Lady Ascot.

Now it's VALE!

-LORD ROCHESTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Kath Lockett said...

Pand, the only reason I didn't sing 'Mandy' - "Oh Milly, you came and you gave without taking and I threw it away Oh Milly" - was because I don't know quite so many of the words...

Lord Rochester I rather liked the sound of Lady Ascot. I do remember the Man at the Pub (somewhat selfishly preoccupied with his gorgeous new baby daughter) naming me K-Licious at one stage.

R.H. said...

Very well then you can have it. Titles are two a penny nowadays anyway, especially here in the colonies, look at Sir Bob Askin and Sir Terry Lewis. Bob got caught with his hand in the till and Terry got jugged. Lady Terry became the first titled Lady ever to go on the dole. Good heavens. Anyway, I don't see new births as a reason for celebration, I think it's appalling, there's too many damn people in the world already....people, flies, ants, mosquitoes, what's the difference?


Helen Balcony said...

Mussels in BBQ sauce be buggered, you have. no. idea how much that execrable Disney Winnie-the-pooh hurts my soul. On many levels. (It's even got a bonus Your instead of You're in the text. Of course it has.) Oh, my eyes!!

Kath Lockett said...

Helen, there's a reason why I chose it. Several, in fact :)

Wally The Walrus said...

Novel, eh?

You might be interested in a small book, perhaps I should send it to you: "On writing" by Jerry Weinberg - author of something like 30 books.

Mind you I had trouble thinking of this because I was too busy laughing.

Kath Lockett said...

Yep, Wally, a novel. Might as well give it a crack now as opposed to never. Haven't written a word since the two got back from their camping trip though.