Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The allure of Love Chunks

Love Chunks (LC), despite the silly moniker I’ve dumped on him in blogsville is my husband, lover and utterly, totally my most bestest friend.

For those who know only part of my story, you may have already worked out that I’ve had a pretty bad year this year. Work was most likely the major cause because it skewed my emphasis on what was important in life. It affected my performance and self esteem and left me feeling as though I could no longer cope. Conversely, it could also be fairly argued that a great deal of it was caused by my own self perceptions and my reactions to things, but regardless of the reasons it left me vulnerable, exhausted and damaged.

LC found me on the floor after work, sobbing and having done something incredibly stupid in order to try to escape the world of failure and despair I believed myself to be in. I don’t remember too much about the next few vitally important steps, but I do remember that he was by my side in the ambulance, at my bedside in the emergency department and in the hospital room. At 1:00am I was finally aware enough to answer his questions and for him to feel confident enough to dash home for a quick nap and a shower.

When he returned to my bedside at 6am and I saw his tired, worried face, my wailing was so loud it caused the nurses to rush in, not knowing that LC had returned already. His top rapidly became soaked with my tears as I cried out all of my pain and shame. Over the next eight weeks he arranged to take time off work, dealt with phone calls, visits and queries from family and friends, made sure that he was home with me and just took care of things. He walked Sapphire to school and picked her up when I felt too overwhelmed and embarrassed to be seen by anyone. He cooked, cleaned, ran errands and often simply sat with me, holding my hand. He made me laugh many times and the encircling of his strong arms reminded me of what was important and worth hanging around for. There’s no nicer warmth and smell in my world than a deep hug from my lovely LC.

This was the same man who, six years earlier, sat slumped in exhaustion with his face pressed against the drawers next to my bed during the 29 hours it took for Sapphire to enter the world. The man who, for countless occasions, has patiently stroked my forehead and emptied sick buckets during migraine attacks; and who has willingly taken Sapphire out to the park or zoo for the afternoon to give me time to recuperate afterwards. Not once have I ever heard him utter the phrase: "You owe me."

On cold nights when I’d be hopping back to bed on the floorboards after a middle-of-the-night loo stop he’d roll over to let me hog the warmth from his body until I was taken care of. Then I’d gently push him back when I was comfortable again. Love Chunks is also the kind of bloke who is not bothered in the slightest about buying tampons from the supermarket or letting our daughter Sapphire paint his face like a lion during a Crows’ game on television.

He has read the first four Harry Potter books in their entirety to Sapphire over the course of the year; both of their heads close together in concentration as he reads out loud clearly and patiently answers all of Sapphire’s questions. He’ll gently scold me for kissing the dog on the head, when later he’s found outside with her little furry body cradled in his arms.

When he returned from his brief and busy overseas trip he made sure that he bought Sapphire a gold necklace and me some gold and lapis-lazuli earrings. He phoned us whenever he could and sent emails every day. I counted down the hours until he came home yet was proud of his achievements and the opportunities he’d been given. LC’s never been one to boast about himself, so I – with the best of intentions – try to do it on his behalf.

How on earth do I repay such a person? What should I buy him for Christmas – a couple of books and DVDs seems insulting for all that he’s done for me. If Lotto does the right thing by us, he'd ideally like a fishing boat, trailer and new car, but I’m wondering whether a weekend away with lots of wine and good food might do the trick.

I’m just hoping that he’ll want to take me with him.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Deck the halls with boughs of folly, fa la la la la.....

With a six year old girl in the house, it's impossible to delay putting up the Christmas tree and any other decorations that take her fancy.

The Adelaide Pageant is to blame for us being pestered incessantly about christmas decorations, presents, cards, food and santa since the first week of November. The first week of November is far too early to be thinking about Christmas even though Coles had shortbreads, themed chocolates and tinsel in their stores from October. However, when the Norwood pageant was on the 26th of November, I knew that there was no way that our little Sapphire could possibly wait those extra few days until the 1st of December.

Therefore on Sunday I suggested, "How about we put up the Christmas tree?" and was nearly suffocated by her hugs of delight and had a toe squashed during her enthusiastic jumps of joy. She kept tapping my lower back as my bum stuck out unbecomingly in the air whilst ferreting around under the spare bed for the Christmas tree box. There was another surprise for her: I had bought her a Christmas tree of her own that she'd be able to decorate her way and have in her room.

All of a sudden the interest in decorating the family's tree evaporated like Gary Glitter returning home to the UK for Christmas. "Hey, come on, you've been asking me to set this up with you for ages. Where are you going?" To be fair, Sapphire wasn't looking at her own tree, but had found the little Santa hat we'd bought for Milly the dog last year. It was a credit to Milly that she didn't bite anyone who a) forced her to wear it, or b) laughed at her. The matching bib, on the other hand, she immediately and rather savagely tore off, and who could blame her?

She was rather interested in the decorations on the tree, however. Each of the blue and gold 'disco ball' decorations got a delicate lick or three and the tinsel was snuffled up several times. Love Chunks and I crossed our fingers that the tree would remain undamaged overnight seeing as Milly's beanbag was right next to it.

"Yes Carly, now it's time to do your tree. Why don't you go and undo the packets of decorations that go with it?" The accompanying instructions - from a tree purchased on special at Target - made me sit down on the bed feeling over-awed before we'd even started. There were dozens of branches scattered all over the mat, each with specific colours and letters on them to indicate where they were to be inserted on the six foot high tree. That's right, I didn't even realise that the tree was going to be this big. We wheeled out the dolls' house into the spare room in order to make space for this gargantuan fake pine.

An hour later, all branches were inserted in pretty much the right spots. My headache was in full swing but Sapphire had loved every second of it. As I sank back on her purple bed to rub my forehead, she happily got to work decorating the tree. At least, up to the five foot mark. Milly trotted in, decided she'd investigated all this stuff before in the lounge, and trotted back out again. Sapphire's tree was a vision in purple. Not everyone's taste admittedly, but a vision of beauty to a six year old girl. She grabbed her textas and set to work drawing a picture of it.

It led me to think (yes, it does happen sometimes) about what it was like for my mother and I at Christmas time. Did I drive her nuts asking "When.....when.....when.....?"

One thing I do remember when I was eight was that I accidentally smashed a shiny red bauble when we were taking down the tree. Mum had temporarily left the room, so only my smaller brother, Thumb, witnessed the destruction. "Don't tell Mum," I hissed menacingly, until I saw the smile of triumph on his too-smug-to-be-six-years-old face. "Look, PLEASE don't tell Mum!" I begged instead. I then ran outside and buried the shards near the nectarine tree.

That night I could barely sleep for guilt. It was I who had broken the bauble; it was beautiful and no doubt very precious and what if Mum noticed that there was one missing when we put up the tree next year?

My hell did not end with insomnia, unfortunately. Thumb saw his opportunity to blackmail me and was going to ride it like Paris Hilton thumbing through her little black book.
"Milly Moo, get me a glass of orange cordial will you?"
"Get it yourself, pipsqueak," was my automatic response until he wagged his finger in my face, saying "I'll tell Mum about you know what....."
Off I scooted into the kitchen, also grabbing a couple of scotch finger biscuits to butter the little bugger up.

This went on for over a week. "Let's ride over to the adventure playground," he'd ask.
"Nah, I want to stay here and finish the mud pies," I responded, eyes back to the brown gloop in the sandpit in front of me. "I think the cat's been in here so I've got to make sure there's no poos in any of 'em."
"I'll tell Mum about you know what....."
"Oh, OK," I sighed, wiping my muddy hands down the side of my shorts when what I really wanted to do was rub his face into the cat poo.

"Come outside Milly Moo. We need you to be wicket keeper."
No way. Why is it that sisters always have to be wicket keeper? "Get lost, I'm reading."
"I'll tell Mum about you know what....."

That was IT, I couldn't stand it anymore. I rushed into the kitchen, flung myself at Mum's feet and bawled, "Mum, it was ME. I broke one of your red Christmas tree baubles and didn't tell you. I buried it under the nectarine tree so that you wouldn't notice and so that I wouldn't get into trouble....I could save my 20c a week pocket money to buy you another one."

Mum was busy making her famous 'nipple cakes' (little cakes with white icing and red raspberry lollies stuck in the middle) and was distracted by the hum of the sunbeam mixmaster.
"Oh that's OK Milly Moo, they're only cheapies. I manage to crack at least a couple every year." She finished scraping down the side of the mixing bowl to see me still standing there, smiling. "Oh and I reckon it's your turn to lick the bowl today, too."

I can still remember how relieved and free I felt. I would also like to say that I was mature about taking revenge, but I was eight. As per an eight year old under blackmail for a week, I did the usual - gave Thumb a chinese burn, two dead legs and shoved him into the geraniums. I slept like a log that night.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Tired, tired, tired

I'm 37, keep myself pretty fit with running and swimming, have only the one wonderful child and a great husband, yet I feel so damn TIRED today. After I found myself about to walk into the kitchen this morning without any pants on, it was pretty clear that today was going to be a Tired Day.

Have you ever had a Tired Day? I'm not talking about episodes of genuine tiredness which have real causes like a baby's four-hourly feeds, a sick child or a hoon doing burn-outs on the corner of your street at 2am, but one in which you're exhausted just from, well, breathing. Where even your arms ache when you have to lift a toothbrush and your eyelids are threatening to flop down over your eyes like a shop awning. Where choosing what cereal to eat for breakfast seems like an insurmountable decision and trying to wear clothing that's colour-coordinated whilst in a dimly lit room just isn't going to happen.

Yes, this is you too? Then read on. No? Then still read on to get a feel for what us Tired Day sufferers go through in silence, and then donate generously to our cause. Coffee beans, massage vouchers, top-shelf chocolates and cash would be the preferred donations, thanks, to help ease our unrecognised affliction.

Have any of these following 'tired signs' ever applied to you? You know you're tired when:

  • You look in the mirror before stepping into the shower and notice that your face still has the creases from the pillow on it;
  • After your shower, your face still hasn't uncreased itself;
  • You put your undies on inside out and when you notice it later on, you don't change them back because you don't care;
  • You leave your wake-up cup of coffee in the laundry, the newspaper in the loungeroom and your car keys in the spareroom yet you don't recall being in any of those rooms so far;
  • Your daughter is given a punnet of onion sprouts to take to her class' fruit-sharing recess instead of the strawberries that you bought yesterday;
  • At the supermarket, you find yourself struggling to open the side of the plastic bags used for fruit and veges, and not the top or bottom;
  • At the checkout, you discover, after at least ten minutes, that you're standing in one that has the 'closed - please use other checkout' sign on the conveyor belt;
  • After a bit of fiddling and swearing under your breath, you realise that it's not your car that you're attempting to unlock;
  • The trolley bloke notices this and decides that you're 'the one' he should engage in a lengthy conversation about what sort of foods Obi-Wan and Anakin Skywalker would have eaten on the planet Naboo;
  • You find yourself driving 40km/h in a 60km zone and stop to give way to cars on the side streets;
  • At home the loo freshener has ended up in the fridge next to the new Christmas tree decorations and deodorant. You quickly rush to the laundry to retrieve the chicken from the cleaning cupboard;
  • The landline phone rings and you try to answer it by picking up your mobile;
  • Your mobile rings and switches to the answering service before you realise it's yours. (Even though you are now at home. Alone, with the only mobile in the house;
  • You forget that your Dad is coming to stay for the weekend until he walks through the front door (thank god you've put your pants on by this stage);
  • A box of Lindt balls looks like a legitimate choice for morning tea; and
  • The challenge of sorting through four bags of toys for 'lucky dip' parcels is too mentally taxing.

And all this before lunch.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Swimming Around

In the slightly modified words of Kylie Minogue: 'I'm swimming around, move out of my way....can you feel it ‘cos I like it like this, I'm breaking it down...' Perhaps it's easiest just to end it there because I don't really know what the hell she's singing about in that song past those few words.

Summer is approaching and the weather in Adelaide is now mostly at a balmy 25C most days, so my mate Jill and I have decided to go swimming together once a week. After we've dropped off our respective kids at school and kindergarten, I collect Milly the dog and my swimming bag and we head over to Jill’s place. Milly is joyfully reunited with her furry friend Coco the brown-and-black Labrador and is last seen as a little orange streak of light as they immediately start a game of canine chasey around the trampoline and lemon tree.

Feeling pleased that our pets will be getting a workout whilst we swim, we two humans drive over to the Burnside pool. It's nearly 9:30am and the breeze is still pretty cool. We self-consciously strip down to our racing bathers by the edge of the pool - which 'medium' lane to use today? The fast lane is way out of our league - full of impressively swift athletes who'd be likely to yank your ankle and pull you down to the bottom if you messed up their rhythm or times. They all seem to be ex-Olympians who’ve had babies or young physio students who take their fitness very seriously.

The adjoining medium lane is actually two - 'the double doofus' lane as we refer to it. This is the lane that contains all those slow time-wasters that us regular freestylers hate. These include any annoying breastrokers, backstrokers, kick boarders, water walkers and the sad folk who are still trying to master their flippers, nose pegs and/or hand paddles. These dwellers in the double doofus lane are more my physical type – would like to be fit; are trying to be fit yet are still addicted to chocolate, DVD-watching and have accepted that elasticated tracksuit pants are permissable as suitable clothing.

The second medium lane is just for freestyler swimmers and it is in here that we take the plunge. Oooherrr, no matter how many times I've done it, when that cool water hits the boobs and the goolies, it still makes me squeal. Jill's off like a shot, ploughing relentlessly through the water like a strong and graceful automaton. I thrash along behind her with my goggles already half-full of water and a long wobbly line of phlegm swinging from my nose. Luckily for me, we’re the only inhabitants of this lane, so I’m glad to be behind Jill and not treat her to the sight of my sloshing goggles, snotty face and gasping, fish-like mouth.

Unfortunately for me, there is no 'slow' lane for freestylers in this pool unless I want to sink to the depths (pun intended) of the 'Aqua play' lane. This seems to be the watery real estate owned by the seventy-somethings for whom any sort of movement in the water is akin to a hard workout. The gentlemen wear every bit of aqua gear available to them and end up resembling multi-coloured condoms and the ladies try their best to keep their heads out of the water altogether in order to preserve their perms. They seem to occasionally permit younger people in their domain, but these folk are usually obese and can get by through flotation skills alone, not unlike that of a snickers bar being plopped into the water.

All of the above random musings run through my mind as I determinedly thrash on. Lap four, four, four - heaven help me if I touch the blessed end of the pool and I can't remember what lap number I was on! Forty is the goal and the first ten are the hardest. It is in these first few laps that my brain wins the battle against my extremely reluctant brawn: 'Oh it's soooo cold in here today', 'I feel so tired. How am I going to make it?', ‘I can hardly breathe because that old guy in the doofus double lane splashed a wave into my mouth.’ ‘Goddamn these bloody &^%$ing bathers, I hate getting a wedgie when I'm only 3m into a 50 metre lap - what if I end up with some bizarre kind of butt crack rash?'

On lap 11, my protesting old body gets used to the physical struggle (and maybe the wedgie) and the surroundings don't seem to matter as much. At least, not the ones on top of the pool. Those underneath the water are still cause for concern. Orphaned bandaids, gum leaves, sticks...... Yuck - a long black hair has wrapped itself across my goggles.

Lap 20….don’t forget it's 20, remember you're on lap 20. Halfway there, it's all downhill from now on. My brain goes a tad crazy: downhill swimming - now there's an event I'd like to see at the Melbourne Commonwealth games next year! Now you're on lap 30, that's right: 30, nearly finished lap 30…… by this stage the doofuses have gone and their lanes have been taken over by primary school kids. It’s so lovely to discover that one kid is staring as me underwater with his face mask as I heave myself along. Did he notice the wedgie? He must have done because now seven of the school’s year 4 boys are surveying me underwater. Lap 33, yes 33, almost to the end of lap 33, now 34……

Finally it’s lap 40 and I touch the end dramatically as though I’ve won a gold medal. Now for the worst bit – heaving myself out of the pool without using the steps because I don’t want the primary school perves to get another look as I tread water straight past them. My arms are shaking as I take three attempts to lift myself out of the water. The fourth attempt does the trick, but my right thigh is grazed on the tiles which also increases the magnitude of my wedgie to almost obscene proportions. Judging by the sniggers of the kids a walrus could have done a more elegant job.

Ah, never mind - there's a Farmers Union Feel Good iced coffee with my name on it at the canteen after I've showered and changed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sometimes shopping at K-Mart by yourself isn't a bad thing

Sarah Jessica Parker regularly seems to crop up on the 'best dressed lists', always to my puzzlement. This recent effort looks about as easy to wear as my blistered runners' feet in a pair of stilettos.

Perhaps I should be a little bit kinder towards SJP. It's great to see that she's used all of her hair pins as a necklace and crammed her now-flat chest into a cardboard bodice. Her frock looks so comfortable, doesn't it?

And here's Paris, standing in her favourite Porn Star pose in a 'costume' for some recent Halloween shindig she attended. As a proud Aussie and non-participator of anything Halloweenish, I have a (probably) dumb question: isn't it meant to be about scary things? If so, why is she dressed like a slutty rabbit?

Ohhhh, I get it - she is scary! In so many ways - lack of intelligence, lack of talent, lack of access to reality, lack of morals, lack of meaning and an inability to stand without thrusting her hips and map-of-Tassie straight at the camera lens..... Yet she's like someone taking off a bloodied, old bandage to reveal a puss-filled wound - it's truly appalling and gruesome yet we can't tear ourselves away from her can we?

Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. You may be well known for having acted with every major Hollywood heavyweight and be the lynchpin of the 'six degrees of separation' game but there's no reason to venture out in public looking as though you're wearing something from every movie character you've played.

Explain something to me - why oh why are black beanies considered attractive? If I see a bloke wearing one, I immediately write him off as a fashion-victim, metrosexual meathead. So Kev, lovey puss - you've done Mystic River, The Woodsman.... hell you've even put up with living in a small Southern town that forbade dancing.... so please dress as though you have all of your faculties working in sync.

J-Lo looks as though she was trying a 1960s hot housewife here, but in reality she's slapped on too much too pale make up, got one of her step kids to apply her eyeliner and the other to do her hair.

The hoops are just stupid. Stupid. A bit like her bank balance and ego - too huge and mostly undeserved. If your earrings can not swing underneath your lobes without bending on your collarbone, they're STUPID!

Goodness me, Violet Beauregarde grew up, dyed her hair and married Lord BlackAdder from series 2 !

I've never been a fan of Madonna (see J-Lo above) and harbor some rather strong suspicions of face lifts and botoxing but surely her increasing age (47) and access to the best designers and stylists should mean something better than this chucklefest?

Her lambswool car-seat cover of a coat makes her look as though she's permanently shrugging her shoulders; the velvet knickerbockers hark back to 1982 which is not a dim or fond memory and those boots.... well, they give me the creeps. They look unwholesome somehow, as though her yucky 'erotica' persona is going to come out later and get all grotty on us......shudder.

THIS, however, is true class. Ricky Gervais is a god; albeit a tubby one, and we should be grateful that The Office series 1, 2 and Christmas specials are out on DVD.

Here's someone who is trying to be stupid, unlike the others above who all paid good money to look good but achieved the opposite.

Love the brown parka, the slicked-down hair, the crossed-eyes and slopped cup in the tiny work kitchen space. I'm sure that if this was the inevitably captioned "Reformed Kate Moss", the so-called fashion fools would be falling all over themselves. Hell, Ricky even looks as though he'd be a better parent to Lila Rose....

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Should you or shouldn’t you?

There are many times during my day-to-day life that I find myself trapped in an internal swirling hell, continually asking myself “Should I or shouldn’t I? Should I say something or not?”
For example I’ll talk about a scenario that, despite its rather revolting nature, seems to occur quite a lot – the hanging booger. I’ll be having a conversation with someone who is generally a decent, normal (and therefore clean) person, and then I’ll notice it – a large, glistening booger that seems to be swinging back and forth with each intake of breath; hanging precariously by some other thin strand of booger glue. Like a leaf of parsley in someone’s front teeth or a king-sized white-headed pimple in the middle of the chin, I then become transfixed by this nostril lodger.

Are you still with me? Smiling grimly and nodding in surprised identification? If so, do you then find yourself – as I do – asking that awful question: “Should I or Should I not tell him/her about their boogie?” For the sake of argument, it is already accepted that you wish no evil on this person, nor do you hope that they spend the day chatting to dozens of people with a butt-sized booger and go home to discover it, thus deciding to end their lives prematurely rather than deal with the shame and embarrassment of it all…… But – and this now concerns their perception of you, which is far more important – do you want to risk seeming like a weirdo who shouldn’t have been looking up their left nostril in the first place?

This situation is worsened if the potential source of embarrassment for your colleague involves slightly too much cleavage, a stain on the arse of their trousers or an undone fly. Inside, we’re all asking “Should I or shouldn’t I tell him/her?” because we don’t want to be seen as the pervert who should have been looking in their eyes during the discussion and not at the right boob flopping out of the un-intentionally unbuttoned top…..

Now it’s confession time – apart from the booger scenario (unless no-one ever told me and it had been blown out before I saw a mirror), I have suffered the ignominy of NOT being told. In fact, these instances are so numerous than when my six year old daughter Sapphire, on a 110km car ride back home asked, “Hey Mum, have you ever been embarrassed?” she had to have a few puffs on her inhaler when we got home because she’d been laughing in shock the entire journey and brought on a slight asthma attack. For example:

  • At fifteen years old, walking down the main street of Murray Bridge doing a bit of errand-running with my Mum. I’d been eating and enjoying a chocolate paddle pop when my eyes fell upon my heartfelt but deadly secret crush, Anthony. As he was walking towards me, I gave him my most dazzling smile, feeling confident that he’d somehow notice the beauty lurking within. When I got home, I was mortified to discover that my mouth was circled in brown and sticky remnants of ice-cream, not unlike a circus clown’s lipstick work.
  • At eight months’ pregnant, discovering that I had a 3 metre long trail of white toilet paper hanging proudly from the back of my black big-belly pants. I had been standing on a platform in front of approximately fifty other commuters for at least 15 minutes!
  • Walking along the lower non-Paris end of Melbourne’s Collins Street on a windy day in a lovely (at least then, in 1996) pale blue and white longish dress. A whoosh of wind flew up the skirt part revealing my hopefully-tummy-flattening nanna undies and heavily-elasticised stay-up tights. I wasn’t at my slimmest, so my legs would have looked like mushrooms. Some bloke walking out of the stock exchange hooted with laughter….

Don’t worry for me too much, dear reader – I have been on the other side of such events as well:

  • Sitting in a posh restaurant with my boyfriend at the time, perusing the menu. I had just gotten over a bad cold and had wisely (so I thought) squeezed a few tissues into my handbag. Unfortunately I let out a huge sneeze and didn’t cover my mouth. The – um – flying phlegm ended up shooting across the floor and landing on the lower cuff of an older guy’s corduroy trousers. I was too mortified to tell him. My boyfriend’s shoulders were shaking and tears formed in his eyes as he pretended to read the menu.
  • It was enrolment time at Adelaide University and it always seemed to be at least 37C on a day of lengthy queues out in the sun. One guy, I knew by sight as a self-absorbed yuppie wanna-be pushed his way into the queue and was soon strutting out again, full of self-congratulation and feeling like a master of the universe. In one of the most poetic scenes ever in my life, he tripped as he headed down the steep set of brick stairs, bump-bump-bumping his way all to the bottom. It must have been so painful, yet he picked himself up and was preparing himself to walk away with dignity when I called out, “Ooooh geez, that must have hurt.” The rest of the queue gave in to a few laughs and whistles as the then-deflated little turd hobbled out of sight.

The worst one though was in the Flinders Ranges, September school holidays, 1978. I was on a camping trip with my family and all had been going reasonably well until the final day when Dad informed us we had the long drive back home. He had been determined to squeeze the most out of the holiday, so the drive back home had to be completed in a day because we all had school the next day. “Dad”, I asked, “Can you pull over so that I can go to the toilet and---“
“Nope. You should have gone before we left.”
A little while later I asked again, my stomach starting to ache a bit, and got the same response. An hour later, things weren’t so jolly in the bowel department. “Dad---“

All of a sudden an unwanted explosion of diarrhoea invaded the landcruiser. My brothers wrinkled their faces in horror and screamed when some of the – ahem – overflow – threatened to engulf their two-thirds of the back seat. I was a stinking, dripping mess and my poor mother was the one who had to find a bush by the side of the road; strip me and somehow sponge off the worst of it with a couple of ‘wet ones’ and a brave face. My axis jeans and undies were buried under a spinifex bush.

I could see that Dad was feeling a bit bad about not stopping earlier but it was also obvious that he was more annoyed about the time delay, so he started the engine without a word to me. A few moments of sitting in the back with my grinning brothers, wearing my too-short tracksuit pants and staring at the back of Dad’s head revealed something: a dot of my diarrhoea had somehow landed on the back of his neck. “Should I or shouldn’t I tell him?”
Nah, I thought.

So, the point of all these little stories? To ask you, urge you, beg you that yes, YOU SHOULD ALWAYS tell someone. When Deb, a girl I worked with at a bank in London returned from lunch, I whispered, “Deb! You’ve tucked your skirt into your tights!” We both started laughing but all of a sudden hers turned to tears. “What’s wrong Deb?”
“Oh my god, I’ve just realised that I’ve been to the chemist, had lunch at the Thai place around the corner and then walked all of the aisles at Sainsbury’s!”

Actually, there’s a caveat to that – you should always tell someone unless there’s some well-deserved revenge involved (sorry Dad).

Thursday, November 10, 2005

In my day.....

Can you believe it? I've haven't been in blog or cyber land for a few days because it's been my birthday; we had a weekend at my folks; various play dates and sporting events for Sapphire and then I caught some sort of vicious version of the flu.

And I put the flu bit down to being smug enough (and, now at 37, old enough) to have started a sentence off with, "Well, in my day....."

Picture the scene: it was 11am on Tuesday, and Sapphire's reception/year one class was at the local outdoor pool on their second day of swimming lessons. On the Monday it drizzled and we were informed that swimming lessons would always continue regardless of the weather because a) the pool is heated; b) there are lots of parents helping who will throw towels around the kids as soon as they get out of the pool; and, perhaps most importantly, c) the pool and teachers had already been booked and paid for.

One helper Mum hadn't heard the above explanations, and wondered out loud if her son, Alex (I'll safely call him that without fear of identification because there are no less than five in Sapphire's class) was going to survive the lesson in what was, on the Tuesday, driving rain. “Oh, I hope he doesn’t get a cold in this awful weather,” she fretted. It was then I should have rammed a towel down my throat and nodded silently in sympathy and implied concern. But I didn't, did I?

Instead, dressed warmly for the weather in trakkie daks, sneakers, long-sleeved t-shirt and tracksuit top and the added heat of having five each of the kids’ towels on each arm, my big mouth opened and dredged up: “Well in my day – (yes, I’m sorry, I actually did say that) – Well, in my day we went swimming in the first week of November at the Murray Bridge pool and it wasn’t heated.”

That blob of excrement excuse-for-a-remark went down as well as an anchovy in a cheesecake. Perhaps another angle would make her realise that our kids weren't going to die of cold, or bird flu or anything else whilst they were in the pool for that matter. I gestured towards the friendly teachers who were also in the water, guiding the children through their lessons. "We had some terrible teachers in my day. Really impatient, crabby ones who'd be all warmly dressed and dry on the edge of the pool, yelling at us to get on with it."

A huge gust of wind blew and I hoped that I didn't hear Maria mutter "I wish you would end up in the water you old......" I tried again: “Well, look at them. I was like that; I loved swimming so much that something like rain wasn’t going to put me off.” This may have gone down slightly better than a bowling ball in a toilet bowl if our attention wasn’t right then diverted by little Max’s determined screams. “No, I don’ wanna go in, I don’ wanna go in, no no NO!” The teacher, who had been determinedly trying to drag him towards the edge of the pool, gestured with her head for me to come over and get him off her hands. As I took him back to the boys’ change room, his sobs subsided and there was a spring of relief in his step.

Maria – the other helper mother’s – face visibly dropped when she saw me arrive back with a dry and dressed Max, wrapped up in his towel for extra warmth. Nothing was going to stop my mouth from trying to make amends. “Ah well, look at them all having such fun. They were so excited this morning when they got off the bus, and now look at them!” It was as though my verbiage was truly cursed. At that moment my lovely Sapphire got deliberately donged on the head by Jamie’s kickboard; Danni’s lips turned eerily blue and she started shaking violently enough for a small head of foam to form near the steps, Josh’s ears were bent in half by his goggles and he threw them out of the pool in frustration, hitting Max in the face; and four others started crying for no discernable reason. By this stage the helper mothers had formed a protective ring of bodies and umbrellas around Max and I was excluded, the annoying “Oh in my day I used to catch a rabbit for me breakfast, then walk ten miles to school in me bare feet….up hill, in the snow – both ways mind you - and I were grateful” parental pest.

It was a relief therefore, when the lesson ended and we were all busy wrapping up the kids in towels and hustling them back to the change rooms. When there, all was chaos – the other mothers seemed to have chosen that particular time to get themselves a latte from the canteen. “Louise, where are your shoes? Jen, go to the toilet now and take your bathers off at the same time, there’s a good girl…. Sapphire please put on your jumper….. Anika you must take off your wet bathers before putting on your school dress, here, let me help you start again…. Isobel sweetie what have you been doing all this time?.....Whose knickers are these?”

Somehow they all ended up looking relatively dry and warmly dressed and, as far as I could see, there were no socks, undies, plastic bags or hairbrushes lurking in the room. “The bus is here – your teacher is waiting for you!” I waved goodbye to them as they skipped onto the bus: tears and cold forgotten and instead all full of chatter about the fun they’d had, and what they hoped to do there tomorrow.

I walked back to the car park, noticing that my throat felt sore and I had the beginnings of a pounding headache……

Friday, November 04, 2005

Bad Weather

Love Chunks was obviously not too flat-out with measuring weather from aeroplane nose tips, or surveying weather stations or satellites, because he’d trawled through their national address book and found these likely souls. “Look,” he crowed, “these guys would have to be our employees of the year!”
Ms G Weatherhead
Mr J Storm
Mr Mikhail E.

Love Chunks concluded with “And I’m changing my name to Mr Sunny Andfine soon…”

Not to be outdone, his buddy Weens, a stalwart of the Victorian public service, also took up the challenge:
Gail Force
Prince Rainier
Sonny Andcher

Bill then joined the group email goof off, commenting that “It'd be a real coup if we could recruit Demis Roussos - being a friend of the wind and all...
Is that the wind they call Maria (in Paint your wagon wasn't it?)”

Sadly, I too had logged on to check the emails, and couldn’t help but join the club, suggesting, “……And don't forget Nana - she liked to 'Turn On the Sun....!”

Love Chunks was not finished, however. A further scan of the bureau’s address book revealed a Mr P Wintour and a Mr P Cooley

He also had the last laugh when he wrote, “MillyMoo said I really should be Mr Fullah Wind.” Touche – As Weens then said, "You blow me away with your wit, you leave me thunderstruck."

Now get back to work – we all want to know what we should be wearing for the weekend!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Our B-grade shame

As you know from yesterday's rant, I couldn't give a fat rat's clacker about the Melbourne Cup or any horse race for that matter. It looks about as exciting as having to stand nude in the bathroom for half an hour whilst the fake tan lotion sinks in.

Equally annoying is our - and by 'our' I mean Australia as a whole - need to import a 'star' to add some excitement and razzle-dazzle to the event. As such, Eva Longoria was invited to attend the race and be the face of 'Myer - Fashions on the Field.' I'll bet that she didn't even know Myer was a store until she landed in Melbourne and probably thought Flemington was a place for hayfever sufferers.

Yet, in our usual culturally cringey way, we fawned all over her and splashed her picture everywhere in our papers, gossip rags and websites. On the left here is a lovely photograph of her - boobs squooshed together, matchstick legs almost breaking from the weight of her folder and a rose flower 'fascinator' thing that wouldn't be out of place in the current McDonald's Lizzie MacGuire happy meal.

Seriously, after the ordinary, overrated 'Desperate Housewives' TV runs its course, does anyone really think that this gal is going to have any sort of lasting career? Meryl Streep she aint...

Do you even wonder what sort of money it took to get her to travel a day ahead in time? Two years ago the racing bods asked the Hilton sisters to the event. Apparently they chatted to no-one and spent most of their time in the toilet, *sniff sniff*. Now Sapphire's school may have readers that are worn out with use, but it's nice to know that other funding is put to such worthy causes whilst we hold fortnightly craft markets to get enough money together for a sunshade in the school yard.

A week ago, the ARIAs were held; a celebration of Aussie music. I'm really out of date when it comes to music because I can't stand listening to ads on the radio, gangsta rap, Beyonce or triple J, but I do remember that most of the trinkets were won by Missy Higgins and Ben Lee. And who did we import to hand out the awards? Any of our own internationally-known acts such as INXS, Keith Urban, Hugh Jackman? Of course not - we carted in David Hasselhoff. It's embarassing just typing that name out; a man initially known for talking to a car; then for wearing red shorts and surrounding himself with pneumatically-enhanced chicks on a beach; and then for having to dry out at several clinics - all the while recording albums that were hits in Germany. As with Eva, I bet he thought Missy Higgins was a childrens' entertainer and Ben Lee had his own brand of soy sauce....

Unfortunately for us, we also have the dubious honor of lending a bit of Queensland's Gold Coast for Palazzo Versace; a gaudy, excessive and over-priced five star+ hotel for the rich and clueless. At this stage, Donatella Versace hasn't yet graced our shores to see one of her money spinners, and for that I'm grateful.

If she did ever deign to come on down, I'm sure she'd also be asked to be Santa's helper at the Adelaide Christmas pageant, or read out the winning lotto numbers on a Saturday night. Both activities, to be sure, would likely give any children watching nightmares for the rest of the week. One look at Donna and any ideas of 'palazzo' disappear quicker than cheezels at a kids' party. If she was the original muse for Gianni - the fried white hair, the leathery face, bike-pumped lips, turkey necked with no remaining eyebrows, it would be amusing to read how any newspapers or magazines try their best to make the most from an overly varnished horse's saddle, in their pathetic gratitude to have a 'star' in their midst.

And what of 'stars' who are hot now, but will soon be off the boil? Gwen Stefani springs to mind. She's in every magazine with peroxide white hair, caked-on concealer and red lipstick and apparently she even sings a little. However she's my age (37), and youth is most valued in the pop world (even Madonna knows that). When she slips gradually out of the A-list to the David Hasselholf D-list, are we going to endure seeing her on our TV screens handing out the 'Australian of the Year' awards?

...I probably wouldn't mind so much if it was Jude Law - no doubt recovering from his sixth marriage, 17th affair, 5th stay at Betty Ford and his 3rd facelift. Even then it'd be just my luck that he'd be imported here to emcee the Mardi Gras in Sydney and do a quick advertisement for Depend undergarments.....

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Melbourne Cup...... of crap

As you can tell from the above title, I'm no fan of horseracing. In fact, I'd rather suck a bird turd that watch the Melbourne Cup race or any horse race for that matter.

Love Chunks got a letter in the Age a couple of years ago that said "Ah, horseracing. It's obviously the time between the end of the footy and the start of the cricket season." Most people we knew read it, smiled and emailed him to state their total agreement.

For the past week, our local paper 'The Advertiser' (about one notch up from the NT News, but only because we don't have many escaped crocs down here), has either had a photo of a horse on the front page or some bimbo from a modelling agency wearing what is referred to as a 'fascinator'. In reality, these fascinators look like the gal's had a few feathers stuck to her head with some Clag and a party streamer thrown on top for good measure. Any member of the Anti-Cancer Council would have heart palpitations if they saw them.

In addition, these chicky babes seem to be the 'face' of various horse races. Why a 22 year old is considered knowledgeable enough about the horse breeding and racing industry to represent a particular million-dollar race is beyond me. That is, unless she's got the ability to wear a 'fascinator' and not feel like a complete berk and can speak in that peculiarly peg-on-the-nose nasally twang that old stablehands and commentators possess only in the horsey world.

And what is with the names of these horses? Horses are magnificent animals in terms of beauty, athleticism and temperatment. Yet in today's all-important, so-called 'race that stops a nation', Melbourne Cup, they've ended up with pathetic names that their owners must have thought up whilst snorting sudafed with vodka cruisers. The poor creatures had been saddled (yes, pun intended) with such gobble-de-gooky ones such as:

  • Makybe Diva - didn't they know how to spell 'maybe'?
  • Eye Popper - whose, the horse's from being whipped throughout the event?
  • Railings - a reminder for the nag not to run into them?
  • Demerger - owned by a family business that's determined never to list on the stock market?
  • Dizelle - what Anna Nicole Smith thinks she's called after her morning vodka and mogadon?
  • Vouvray - named after a vaccuum cleaner, exotic dancer or a new European hatchback?
  • Umbula - an unsightly pustule or boil - 'Oh yuck, check out the umbula on his neck....'
  • Rizon - either a new washing powder or the no-name version of Viagra
  • Kamsky - the sort of sausage meat the horsey will end up being if he doesn't perform well enough in the race
  • Mr Celebrity - feeble wish of the horse's old, fat and charisma-free accountant owner
  • Portland Singa - Coastal Victorian town crossed with a gangsta version of 'singer'?
  • Lachlan River - where he swims after an exercise session or where he'd like to see Lachlan Murdoch end up?

The weight of the little jockeys is more frightening than seeing the Olsen Twins weekly calorific intake of big coffees and cigarette smoke. According to the office sweep info, their weight ranged from 48kg to 58kg. Granted these blokes are tiny, but most of them have to starve themselves to be as light as humanly possible for the race, so they end up looking like hobbits just released from Auschwitz. I'm absolutely certain I could take the 48kg guy and snap him over my knee like kindling - seeing as I'm exactly 20kg heavier! These mal-nourished munchkins are celebrated for their starvation and are publicly filmed when they step on the scales and show us all how tiny they are. For heavens' sake Ashley and Mary-Kate - share your coffees with these sad little men!

Still, at least it's over for another eleven months. Now I'll have to put up with a stream of articles and news stories on 'The new Shane Warne' and 'The Intelligent thoughts of Boof Lehmann', or 'David Hookes - his maturity, sense and smarts' (written by his 26 year old girlfriend, not his 49 year old wife).....