Monday, March 31, 2008

Stressed by SMS

Sitting on the bus manically tapping out a text message like an easily-entertained baboon has about as much appeal as snorting sump oil.

With all the thousands of oral, verbal, physical and electronic avenues of communication available, why anyone would be bothered withering away their thumb tendons on what is roughly a chocolate-bar-sized typing pad (though not as tasty or as easy to use) is completely mystifying. Not to mention the cricked necks, enduring the stupid add-on smiley symbols and messages that go to and fro and take up valuable screen space and rack up in-box access fees. Ask yourself this: how many texts sent are actually worth reading, or in any way life changing? Will Hillary or Obama get one from Capitol Hill that says, "Yr G8t"?

The telephone company executives must be laughing in their Lamborghinis at the sheer stupidity of punters willing throw their dollars down the drain communicating in the least economic and ergonomic way possible. SMS suckers are literally trying to find ways of validating the add-ons to what used to be a portable telephone. Nowadays they have cameras, videos, internet access, footy scores, weather forecasts, pin-ups, songs and direct links to TV programs that earn more than the show costs to run by urging suckers to SMS and 'vote for their favourite' Loser/Dancer/Big brother contestant/bathroom tiler.

Perhaps these uber-phones are merely the adult version of gameboys and Nintendo lites? The new toys of the noughties? Why are we so insecure about being contactable at all times that we must even ignore the person we are physically with in order to act like an ill-mannered turd and tap out some text tripe to someone else instead?

If you don't want to have a conversation with a known chatterbox, fine: ring them when you know they won't be at home and leave a brief message on their machine. Send them an email, write them a note; get a friend to speak to them. SMSing is for suckers who can't spell, sending messages to people who can't read; about events that can't be all that important.

Furthermore, don't ever fool yourself into believing that SMSing is more polite than actually taking a phone call in a lecture, on the train or at the cafe table. It isn't, and nor is it invisible. Any poor mug can see that someone who is constantly looking down into their handbag or lap is either far too fascinated with their own genitalia or busying texting. Either way; both scenario is an unflattering reflection on their personality.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I've been undressed by kings.....

....and I've seen some things that a woman aint s'posed to see
Hey lady, I've been to paradise but I've never been to me....

(Legs by Love Chunks)

Love Chunks, Sapphire and I spent an elongated Easter (i.e. we had our self-imposed 'Easter Thursday' and 'Recovery Tuesday' days off) on a rented houseboat with Sapph's friend Selene and Melbourne blokes Bill and Ian.

We must have made a funny-looking bunch - was I in some kind of River Murray Mormon marriage arrangement with three blokes and two girls of Ayran extraction, or were we merely six very excited holiday makers who were busy unloading three times more boxes of food and drink than suitcases? Laid-back owner Shane wasn't too fazed, looking us up and down a couple of times and dryly noting: "I reckon I'd get a few more beers in if I was you guys."

The weather was perfect - balmy 28C every day, so the shower was rejected for many dives into the river. After all, it was the same water with just a bit more slime, carp nibbles and suspiciously warm wee patches to add a bit more excitement to both swimming and ablutions.

As with most mates on hols, there always seem to be a few running jokes (apart from Ian's hair and my arse) that are inexplicable to outsiders but seem hilariously funny to those of us in the know. We listened to the boys' Pastel Vespa CD which was not only a gorgeous accompaniment to the scenery before us as we pootled along at a breath-taking 7km per hour, but also great to sing along to. Even the girls loved it - quite cheerily singing along to the chanteuse's cocktail-lounge-Brazilian-sixties-inspired versions of the Angels' 'Am I ever gonna see your face again' (crooned in French), Metallica's 'Enter Sandman', Prince's 'When Doves Cry' and the Cure's 'Let's go to bed'.

In between the boating, swimming, eating, drinking, snacking, eating, drinking, unpeeling Easter eggs, drinking, laughing, swimming, drinking, Trivial Pursuit, singing and eating activities that mostly consumed our waking hours, we got talking about what other songs Pastel could cover. Classics such as Ike and Tina Turners' 'Nutbush City Limits', Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid', Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 'Relax,' the Romantics' 'What I like about you' and perhaps adding a tango beat to Charlene's 'I've been to Paradise (but I've never been to me)' were considered, and then recited as serious-sounding poems.

Put it this way - hearing Bill recite, as a dramatic poem, the never-to-be-forgotten lyrical and musical work of Paul Lekakis (circa 1987):

Boom boom boom
Let's go back to my room
Where we can do it
All night ...... (dramatic pause)
And you can make me ..... (dramatic pause)
Feel right

..... really did add that extra something (joie de vivre? elegance? culture?) to the journey. In addition, we managed to pep things up by including farts, bottom-burps, trouser trumpeters, gas geysers and butt burps in practically every aspect of life on board a tiny vessel. How was I, as a responsible and caring parent, interested in doing the best for my child and ensuring her a happy and productive life, to stop her from audibly letting one rip at the breakfast table when 'Uncle Ian', 'Uncle Bill' and ~blush~ I, had already done so, to a great deal of giggling and self congratulation? I decided to stick with the old chestnut, 'What happens on board, stays on board', and hoped that the others would do the same.

Not so, unfortunately. When Sapphire and I saw Selene back at school the following day, she stood in front of the rest of the class, pointed to me and said, "There she is. Sapphire's Mum farts really loudly and all the time." I should have blushed and denied it, using my natural powers of authority according to age, but I just smiled shyly and basked in their admiring glances instead.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Oooooh, Anonymous's Knickers are in a Knot!
Oh dearie me. The ever-so-brave 'Anonymous' (the weak-spined commenter that all bloggers love) has taken issue with my review of 'Hey Hey it's Esther Blueburger.'

He or she said: Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Oh Dear, there’s a Poo in the room but no-one want...":

People will naturally have different views on the merits of this or any other film, but having seen this film I can't understand why it's offended you so much. I think David and Margaret are spot on about this film - it's very clever, it's well acted and looks beautiful.

One thing David and Margaret failed to mention that the music for this film is simply outstanding. Normally a review of a film doesn't bother me, but I must say that I found your rant on this film highly offensive. Of course you should be free to express your opinion, but to question the integrity of anyone who happens to have a different opinion than you, as you do in your rant, is totally outrageous and disgusting. David and Margaret have the right to express their opinion without it being slanderously suggested that they are only reviewing a film positively because they are on the take ("how much did they say they'd pay us for saying this nice stuff?").

You also seem to suggest that it's only David and Margaret that have reviewed the film positively (or could possibly review the film positively). This is complete rubbish. While the film hasn't been released yet and therefore hasn't been widely reviewed, if you'd bothered to do your research, you would have found a number of positive reviews from overseas (try the highly reputable Screen Daily for example). Further, the initial audience reviews (with the glaring exception of yours) from the At the Movies website are very positive.

I could pick heaps of issues with your writing on this film. How can Toni Collette be terrific at one point, yet the acting be unconvincing at another? Why should "the other guy in black" in the cinema "in the piss stained end of Hindley Street" be the authority on whether this film has reached its target audience? Why on earth would he know what kids think? And your admission that you commented loudly throughout the screening is an indictment on you, rather than the film. How can you possibly review a film with any objectivity when you're not watching it?

In short, you've provided an unbalanced rant with not a shred of credibility, rather than anything that could even loosely be termed a review. I really think you don’t know enough about film to comment in any meaningful way, so instead can only resort to a vitriolic tirade of abuse. So excuse me if I continue to place more weight on the views of David Stratton over someone who lists Sixteen Candles in their list of all time favourite films.PS I am not associated with the film and have not been paid to make these comments.

Posted by Anonymous to Blurb from the Burbs at 9:15 PM

Hmmm. I couldn't let that slide. So, I wrote:

Thank you for your comment - nay *rant* Anonymous. What a shame you won't reveal your real name.I stand proudly by my opinion that 'Hey Hey it's Esther Blueberger' was an embarrassing mound of crap that only serves to send the already-struggling Australian film industry back into the dark - no dank - ages.

Oh and 'Anonymous'? I *did* do my homework - the only reviews I've found to date were from 'aintitcool' news re the Berlin film festival, Dave and Margaret, and, just yesterday, Empire (who gave it 2 stars by the way). The point I was *trying* to make was that no South Australian publication has seen fit to publish a review. The Traumatiser has merely put in a few puff pieces about Toni Collette's tiny pole dancing scene or Daniela Catanzariti's nerves before opening night. I'm pretty sure that the positive reviews on the 'At the Movies' site are those from participants in the celluloid piece of shite itself.

Hmmm, perhaps I've offended you because you or your darlings went to the private school featured in much of the background scenes?
If you find my views offensive that's tough luck. Go surf somewhere else. And if you think that listing 'Sixteen Candles' as one of my favourite TEEN movies is a negative, then I'd gladly act out the 'Farmer Ted' role than anything in Esther any day: at least it's funny, endearing and well acted.

If the best you can say is that the music is good, then that's pretty tragic. The 'guy in black in the cinema at the piss-stained end of Hindley street' - along with the other two people present - were also REVIEWERS. Four out of four of us hated it. YOU do the math, Anonymous.

Go find yourself a life, Anonymous, for if you find this review "outrageous and disgusting" you clearly don't get out enough.After seeing 'Gallipoli' on DVD during the weekend and seeing what the SA Film Corporation has supported in the past, PooBurger made me want to weep. And it makes me angry that such crap is being shoved down our throats as 'representing the travails of teenagers', 'quirky', 'it made me laugh and cry'..... This movie is about as clever as a failed Big Brother contestant.

There. I feel better now.
Squeezing out the Truth

Love Chunks sidled up behind me and tapped me gently on the shoulder. "Kath? Erm, can you come out here, I need to speak to you about something."

"What?" asked Sapphire automatically. She's long past the spelling
words-we-don't-want-her-to-hear over the top of her head or being oblivious to subtle hints and winks: if she's not involved in one of our conversations then it must be about her. "But I haven't punched James in the guts since I got into trouble for it last week and remember you made me clean out the hand soap I'd squished into the toilet brush holder yesterday and ---"
"It's OK Sapph. Sometimes Dad and I have to speak about grown up things that will only bore you."

"Like what?"
I hate that question. With a human age of eight-and-five-sixths and a mental age of 45, she's extremely difficult to put off. It was time to really grope my grey matter.
"You know - stuff like how many chillies we'll put in your dinner tonight; what type of insurance we need for the house and contents; how the new government is shaping up after their first 100 days in office; what kind of drought-tolerant native plants we'll put in our north-facing garden area and whether we should consider giving you sugarless carob for Easter instead of decent stuff."

Her horrified face and silence said it all: no more questions from me, Mum.

Outside in the hall way, Love Chunks looked worried. "Love, I know that you have
irritable bowel - lord knows I've seen more than my share of your non-flushables, but I think you need to take a look at your last effort."
"Wh-a-a-a-a-a-t?" My last effort?

Well hammer my face to the side of an ant-hill and butter my ears with jam! Had I just backed out two cancers?
"Well....?" Love Chunks wanted a response. "Does this happen to you, um, often?"

Then it dawned on me. "No sweet heart. In fact never. Take a closer look."
He did, gulping nervously. "Well they look pretty painful to me...."

Straightening up, I said, "Well, it would be more of an amazing achievement if I actually could blast out two red globe grapes after they'd endured the roller coaster ride through to my rectum only to emerge at the entrance to the S-bend in perfect condition. Look again - Sapphire's flushed them down because she didn't want to eat them."

We smiled at each other. Sapphire loathes fruit. Detests it. In every shape, colour, flavour or form. Exotic, local, sliced, diced, stewed or canned. She avoids eating fruit like other kids avoid boiled cabbage or having their ears cleaned out with a cotton bud. She knows that her excesma, hay-fever and asthma will improve if she eats a decent amount but her genuine distaste for the stuff means that we normally have to sit and watch her struggle her way through a tiny serve of fresh strawberries, pineapple or grapes: whatever will tempt her. Bananas in particular distress her so much she has to leave the room if she even sees someone start to peel one.

Luckily, she adores vegetables. I'll never forget the day we were in Coles, filling up our bags with the weeks' greens. Sapph picked up a net bag of pre-packed brussels and called out to me (I was elbow-deep into the cashews): "Hey Mum, how about these? I just love brussels sprouts." A lady of similar age to me immediately wheeled her trolley over and whispered, "Is that child yours? Is this a joke?" We left her still gazing up at the ceiling for hidden cameras.

Back to the present day. Love Chunks and I stood in the laundry loo, wiping away the tears of laughter so that we could wear our serious 'We're not happy with you' expressions in dealing with Sapphire's fruit flushing fiasco. How to punish her - make her eat a banana? Lecture her about the price of fruit these days? Frighten her about the damage that the lack of Vitamin C can cause growing children?

Nah. Love Chunks made her fish the two offending articles out, put them in the bin and then wash her hands thoroughly. I made her eat two more grapes and took away her Nintendo DS-lite for a week. In her lunchbox today, instead of the cut-up cubes of watermelon, honeydew or rock melon, she got carrot sticks. As she packed her bag, she took a peek and squealed, "Oh wow, carrots! Thanks Mum!"

Somehow I don't think she's going to end up being described as "She was always such a quiet neighbour, always keeping to herself," to the local news crews after being arrested as a serial killer. Unless the victims are bananas and plums of course.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'll be on video somewhere....

....I just know it.

Many moons ago, I was a young and carefree Aussie backpacker living in London. There was always an array of slightly dodgy and usually unattractive jobs that were readily available to those of us prepared to do anything to fund our love of travel, cider and the stratospheric rent requirements.

As such, I was working as a debt collector for a major banking firm. It was the most miserable of jobs; phoning people already on the brink of breakdowns or bankruptcy to order them to pay up or get ready for the bailiff. Desperate people would literally post in their keys, only to be told by our legal department that they in fact owed more money than their house would get if sold, or our investigators would advise that they'd fled, leaving nothing but smashed windows and s**t-smeared walls as an indicator of their view of the economic climate. My shift would start in the afternoons and go into late evening so that I had a better chance of catching the 'malignant mortgagees' at home.

It was a bright sunny day in June, and I was strolling down a small lane in King's Cross. I had my leather work satchel in one hand and a large bag of just-purchased oranges in the other. Cheap fruit and nice weather was enough to boost my spirits before starting my next soul-destroying session at the bank. Heading towards the train station, I was aware of a red double-decker bus inching along the road, providing a running commentary to the camera-clicking tourists on board.

"Kings Cross is an infamous part of London to be in when night falls, but is safe during the day." the man holding the microphone droned on. I fancied that I made the area look even brighter and safer by the fact of me being there, wearing a happy grin and a lovely floaty dress and sandals (if it was even remotely warm I was so starved for sun that any form of summer clothing was dragged out of mothballs and worn).

At that very moment, a sudden - and cruel - gust of wind shot up the street and immediately blew my skirt up over my head. There was nothing I could do: both my hands were full and the occupants on the red bus hooted with laughter and punctuated it with the whirr of video cameras and digital phones.

I was so embarrassed I ducked for cover into the first shop I saw and slammed the door shut. Turning around, I discovered that I'd walked into a very seedy betting and tattoo parlour and all of the male occupants were looking at me appreciatively. "Loved the show you put on out there darlin'," smirked a bloke that Jack the Ripper would back away from. He did, at least, take note of my mortified face and tried to console me with, "But at least they only saw your knickers and not your face, eh?"

Emerging hastily back outside, I kept my head down and hurried walked towards Kings Cross station. It was trousers for me from then on.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Oh Dear, there’s a Poo in the room but no-one wants to admit it

The dowager couple of reviewers from SBS’ Movie Show, and lately of the ABC’s ‘At the Movies’, David and Margaret, are as traditional and as reliable as PlaySchool’s Teddy and Jemima. Yin and Yang; Hall and Oates; Choc and Ice; Yoda (Margaret) and Wookie (David).

However, I wouldn’t be the first semi-regular viewer to notice that they tend to add on anywhere from one to four stars if the movie they’re reviewing happens to be Australian.

For example, ‘Praise’. It got awarded four or five stars, yet involved an amoral slut with a scratch-til-you-see-blood excesma problem who moves in with a bloke so comatose he can barely inhale his next Winnie blue. Or Jimeoin’s ‘The Craic’ – 3 stars for a film that was about as funny as a cot death in a kindergarten.

So why should I have been surprised that they gave ‘Hey Hey It’s Esther Blueburger’ three-and-a-half sodding stars?

Here I present the evidence:

Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger - Review by David Stratton

13-year-old Esther Blueburger, played by DANIELLE CATANZARITI (Kath: please stop yelling David, besides you mispronounced her surname on telly anyway) lives with her parents, ESSIE DAVIS and RUSSELL DYKSTRA, and twin brother, CHRISTIAN BYERS, in a smart suburban house and is preparing for her bat-mitzvah.Esther is the odd girl out at a posh private school. She gets bullied and teased and has no friends, hence no-one to invite to her bat-mitzvah party – until she meets Sunni, (KEISHA CASTLE-HUGHES), who encourages Esther to enrol in the public school she attends, a change Esther conceals from her family.

Writer-director Cathy Randall has come up with a very clever idea for this cheerful comedy – a comedy which incorporates dramatic elements. TONI COLLETTE appears in another Aussie Mum role, after THE BLACK BALLOON, as Sunni’s bike-riding, tolerant mother, very different from Esther’s uptight parents. The performances are delicious. Diminutive DANIELLE CATANZARITI is terrific as the resourceful Esther as is KEISHA CASTLE-HUGHES, of WHALE RIDER fame, as her new-found friend. The Scope screen is intelligently used and when the film shifts into drama it does so effortlessly. A few quibbles arise but this is the second high quality Aussie film this year, and that’s a cause for celebration.

A few quibbles….! A FEW quibbles!!???? That’s like saying Paris Hilton likes to go out walking with the local lads after Sunday mass some afternoons....! By this stage I was sitting there with my mouth open in dismay and utter shock. Having drool on my knees didn’t make it a pretty sight for Love Chunks and he kept telling me, “It’s only an opinion you know,” before David and Margaret both gave it Three and a half stars.

Afterwards they wittered on:

DAVID: Margaret?

MARGARET: Yes, it's got a real eccentricity about it, this film. (Crap blended in a mixmaster by a nervous epileptic is the way I'd describe it if I was allowed to)
DAVID: It is, yeah.
MARGARET: You know conceptually and in the way it's directed and in these creations of characters (Your niece has obviously graduated from her movie course, David).
DAVID: Mmm (Yes, but I dread family slide nights now).
MARGARET: But I agree with you. I think they carry it off really well. I think Toni Collette's amazing. You know, she just has a small role in this and she's just so good in everything.
DAVID: Yeah, she is. She's terrific, yes. (Yes, she is, but she's only on for about five minutes and was one of the producers. Aussie tax dodge anyone?)
MARGARET: She's, you know, I haven't seen her put a footstep wrong, you know.
DAVID: But I thought this was a very intriguing film because it does go off in quite unexpected directions. (It certainly smelled 'off' from every direction.)
DAVID: It's by no means a traditional teenage comedy, although there are elements...
MARGARET: No, and it's actually quite discomforting at times... (Most times. How on earth could such shite be funded when there are some startlingly talented writers out there eking a rent cheque by working as speech writers for government gonzos or taking tickets for Fringe shows?)
DAVID: It is, yeah.
MARGARET: the way it does that.
DAVID: And I like that about it, actually.
MARGARET: Yes, so do I. I like that challenge (....of trying to say something positive about something I'd dearly like to wipe my arse on).
DAVID: Mmm. (how much did they say they'd pay us for saying this nice stuff?)
MARGARET: Look, I think that maybe this is a good year for Australian film.
DAVID: Well, let's hope so. It's starting off well, isn't it? (Are you on drugs?)
MARGARET: Yes. (I want what they're having).

This is how I saw it when I was sat in the wasteland of the Greater Union Cinema in the piss-stained end of Hindley Street last Monday morning:

The star power of Toni Collette and Keisha Castle-Hughes might have got this movie made but their talent can’t save this soggy mess of a burger. Newcomer Danielle Catanzariti stars as Esther in this disjointed, supposedly quirky Australian coming-of-age tale that only serves to explain just why audiences are avoiding home-grown movies in droves. It simply does not work on any level.

The acting is unconvincing and the secondary characters are mere caricatures that don’t provide any humor or reality to the story. The script itself is excruciatingly awkward and does not possess a shred of genuine comedy or insight. Any sadness or confusion experienced by Esther towards the end of the movie is contrived to the point of irritation: we no longer believe or care about whatever teenage confusion she’s supposedly going through. Even the continuity is riddled with mistakes: her fall off the school stage (after being allowed, without any interruption, to disrupt the school assembly and speak nonsense for far too long), shows her about to land on her back but the next scene sees Esther in bed with a black eye.

It’s a sad day for Australian cinema when the best part of a movie is the cute yellow duckling – before it is killed and plucked for biology class. "

During the screening, one of the other three reviewers present stood up in disgust and yelled out, "THIS IS CRAP!", to which we all heartily agreed and then proceeded to comment loudly throughout the remainder. The other guy in black muttered, "Does the person who wrote this s**t even know how kids think?" No wonder we were given 24 pages of utter dreck about how hilarious the actors' found the script and how they looked at 3,000 girls before Esther was found - they hoped we'd just scab a few words out of the future budgie-cage liners and not bother to watch the actual celluloid suckfest.

Since then, I have only seen one review online and that was for a piece on the Berlin film festival earlier this year. Nothing by the Traumatiser (like that one, Redcap) or the Sunday Fail but that's understandable seeing as only a year ago they breathlessly asked their readers to let them know if they clapped eyes on Toni Collette whilst she was filming in our fair city. Still, even the usually-groovy-but-honest Empire magazine hasn't reviewed it yet. Hmmmm, I wonder why not….?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Meme Mia, here I go again

The venerable Terence McDanger, or MooDog, has a pants-wettingly funny blog you should visit. He’s clearly Irish (and strangely proud of it); holds a grudge against The Famous Five (who doesn’t) and, perhaps most admirably, has a ‘Farts’ category with four entries in it. Truly a top bloke. Anyhow, he’s ‘Meme-d’ me. No, it doesn’t hurt, but I’ve got to do what he says because he knows my name and probably my address and I don’t want to be knee-capped. Not even in a ‘I love your writing’ kind of way. So here goes:

Seven random and weird facts (is that all?):
1. Until I was about 19 I never knew that the writer of The Famous Five, Secret Seven, Folk of the Faraway Tree, Naughty Amelia Jane etc was ENID Blyton. All of her books were stamped with her signature which, to me, looked like GNID. Thank god I never had to say her name out loud: it didn’t feature too much in country town South Australia conversation.

2. The first time I got drunk was the night before my first day at university at the ripe old age of seventeen and a quarter. A gutful of fruity lexia cask wine imbibed in the President of Lincoln College’s rooms before flopping like a dyslexic starfish into my friend's bed. The next day I staggered down the North Adelaide hill to uni, ready to meet up with high school acquaintances Angela and Barry: we three nervous country kids needed to stick together in order to survive the scary big city…(!?). They saw my agonised walk, grey face and general reek of stale wine and gave me their best cats’ bums’ looks of disapproval. I never met up with them after that – Barry was too busy trying to pretend he wasn’t gay and Angela had a long bus ride to her grandmother’s house and could therefore never go pub crawling.

3. The first record I ever bought was ‘The Best of Abba’ in 1976, at a huge cost of $5. The second I’d seen and heard ‘SOS’ on Countdown, I was hooked. I had long blonde hair like Agnetha but the face of Benny. It didn’t matter: the disc got played and played and played on my parents’ radiogram (their 1964 wedding present) in glorious mono non-surround sound, and I danced around the pool table, annoying my brothers as Mum and Dad hid in the kitchen. Everyone got something out of it.

4. The first CD I ever bought was ‘I’m an adult now’ by the Pursuit of Happiness. I never heard about them again. I’ve learned since that naming an entire album after your one and only hit song sort of indicates that you’re crap. I have at least 20 other CDs that show it took me twenty one lessons before I avoided such albums.

5. When I was nineteen, my seventeen year old brother and I took a student job picking garlic. We had three months of summer ‘holidays’ stretching between university and desperately needed to supplement our $9 per week ‘Austudy allowance’ (apparently my father’s high school teaching salary was too huge for anything more, despite having three kids at uni at the same time); the apricot season hadn’t yet begun and I was too involved in my boyfriend to take on any babysitting jobs. The garlic bulbs were already turned out of the ground by a hoeing machine and we had to crawl on our hands and knees up and down the rows to dig them out, shake off the dirt and fling them into buckets. It started to drizzle which made things a helluva lot messier and it was deadly boring. Little brother dared me to eat a raw garlic clove. I did and nearly burned off the bottom half of my brain. Mum wouldn’t let me come inside the house until I’d stripped naked and run several laps through the lawn sprinkler and skolled a litre of Listerine. Not my most fragrant moment.
6. Alrighty, here’s the ONE and only chocolate-related factoid that Terence McDanger is letting me include in this meme. In Aberdeen, Scotland, when I was 12-going-on-13, I discovered the sickly wonder that is the Cadbury Crème Egg. I also discovered that chocolate in the UK is about half the price that it is here in Oz. We girls were all mad for them. Lindsay – who, on reflection, kind of reminded me of Porky Pig but in a much less feminine way – dared me to eat one during science class. This dare attracted me because I was about as interested in science as she was in oestrogen, and my Os-shtray-yun accent was always the source of much amusement on the rare occasion I stuck my hand up to answer a question. I unpeeled the foil and didn’t take any oozy nibbles of it during the class but shoved the whole baby in my mouth in one go, hoping like hell that I wouldn’t get nominated to speak. I then spent the next 40 minutes with my mouth firmly clamped shut, letting the chocolate and syrup melt slowly away. It was the most fun I’ve ever had in science class and that includes the time that Philippa accidentally popped the bile bag during our sheep heart and lungs dissection in year nine…..

7. The single moment in film history that made me laugh more than any other, ever, was Steve Martin (who I’m not a fan of by the way) playing ‘Ruprecht,’ Michael Caine’s rather ‘special’ brother in ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.’ The rest of the movie hasn’t dated well, but his behaviour still cracks me up. Just imagining the swinging tyre in his bedroom starts me laughing again.

I hereby tag:
Deep Kick Girl - after you've recovered from your Sydney Harbour party cruise?
Ashleigh - when the boss isn't looking over your shoulder
Franzy - when you do your next blog (which is overdue, by the way)
Naomi - after you've kicked some serious karate arse
Redcap - when you've recovered from the Fringe
Fifibelle - when your broken leg has healed
Davey - when you're back from OS
Here's how the whole thing works:
  • Post this on your blog . . .
  • Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog
  • Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
  • Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
  • Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. That’s all there’s to it . . . Oh, and have fun.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Back to the Eighties

"Well ram my face into a brick wall and call me Feargal Sharkey!"

It is rather sobering to realise that it has now been twenty three years since I was in school, which means I've led more life out of school than the seventeen years within it. At almost-forty years of age, I'm now one of those Middle Aged Dags I used to detest so much - in fact, I'm only two years younger than my parents were in my last year of school. Oooh, that's not a very nice feeling at all.

Maybe it's time to return back to 1985 and see what my daydreams and hopes were, and how they stack up in 2008. So you're welcome to join me on this journey: way back into the mists of time when SAFM tops and paneled jeans were all the rage, a weird new drink called 'Diet Coke' was just developed and we thought that Katrina and the Waves were going to rule the charts for many years to come......

The name Sean was doodled, mostly in love hearts, all over my diary. He had done his year twelve ('matriculation') the year before; but had failed miserably due to the discovery of state rugby, beer and the regular availability of cute girls via his sister. I clapped my eyes on his rather snug little butt in his grey Levis' Californians whilst standing behind him at school assembly. When he turned around to say hello to his mate 'Sidey', the front of him looked pretty good too. All through Australian History and English, I sat behind him and enjoyed some rather adult daydreams that had very little do to with Albert Camus or Henry Lawson. He asked me to the senior ball and we were inseparable for the next couple of years.

Twenty three years on and I've been with Love Chunks for a total of 16 years, 13 of them married. I may not doodle his name on any of my shopping lists or notepads, but I've yelled it out in ecstasy a few times...! He tells me that he lost his hair as soon as he met me, but I haven't noticed. It's his beautiful blue eyes, strong arms, warm body and kind face that I am much more grateful for. 1985 versus 2008? 2008 by a landslide and hopefully I'll be able to write that in 2028 and 2048 too.

Despite my Dad's disapproval, I did all of my assignments in my room with my headphones superglued to my ears. Thanks to my Nanna and Grandpa going overseas in 1984 and taking my babysitting earnings of $400 with them, I was the very proud owner of a gold Sanyo ghetto blaster with detachable speakers and double tape player. Music dominated every activity of my young life. There were more blank TDKs in my music collection than originals and taping tapes was the ultimate in sophistication and money saving.

Key songs of that year for me - and be kind, they were new and exciting then and not on regular rotation by FM radio - included: 'Run to You' by Bryan Adams (would I ever!), 'A kind of homecoming' by U2 (Bono had the world's sexiest mullet), The entire 'Red Sails in the Sunset' album by Midnight and his fabulous Oils, 'We Close our Eyes' by Go West (on the strength of that song, I bought the tape. Bad move), 'Don't you Forget about me' by Simple Minds (loved the synth sound), 'Take on Me' by Aha (great film clip), 'Would I lie to you?' by the Eurythmics (great to dance to in my room when I was feeling full of energy but nowhere to go except into my geography books), 'I should have known better' by Jim Diamond (ay yay yay yaii yaaaiiiii ai ai ai ai ai loooooove you.....), 'Out of mind out of sight' by the Models, 'Live it up' by Mental as Anything (the first three times it was on video hits, at least), Everything from INX's 'Listen Like Thieves,' 'I know him so well' by Barbara Dickson & Elaine Page (it reminded me of my three-years-dead, all time favourite band Abba and was a great yearning song to sing along to in front of the dressing table mirror when I should have been reading 'Tender is the Night') Everything on the Angels' 'Five Minute Warning' album and 'Things can only get better' by Howard Jones.

Songs I really, really hated that year included 'Like a Virgin' (how many times was it played on tv and radio, sung by Madonna in her Lolita-girlish voice - yeeugh); Sussudio by Phil Collins (absolute dreck); We are the World (nice cause, but utterly crap song, only enlivened by Bob Dylan's stoned car crash of a solo); and 'Shout' by Tears for Fears (I wanted that Roland guy to fall off the cliff featured in the video).

Today, I rarely turn on the radio and have absolutely no idea what's in the top 10 or top downloads or online requests whatever it's called now. The few times I do bother to turn on the radio is when I'm driving and I immediately punch the station button to select another one if any of the 1985 songs are on (they were great then, but pleeeeease, FM, move on), advertisements, or anything featuring rap, Beyonce, R&B beyond the 1970s or dance/trance/hip hop/techno crap. Therefore, the radio invariably gets flicked off in disgust before the traffic lights have changed to green.

In addition, I don't feel as though watching 'Rage' is a suitable form of visual entertainment on a Saturday morning. The semi-pornographic videos are not something I want my eight year old daughter subjected to as an acceptable way for a homey to treat his woman/ho/bitch; nor do I want her to think that women must wear nothing longer than a belt or spider web and writhe suggestively around before we are willing to hear whatever the hell it is that she may be singing about - with or without being 'helped' out in her vocals through digital enhancement. 1985 versus 2008? 1985 hands down, if only for the memories each song evokes. In 2008 I'd prefer silence, because it's so rare to find it these days.

Fashion was extremely important for all of us in highschool, wasn't it? We all knew that the need to fit in and belong overrode any other anxiety or considerations during those years. End of term Casual Day became a sleepless week of worrying about whether my jeans were tight, baggy, dark, cool, loose, branded properly or paneled enough. Should I wear my latest sneakers (Nike, but only because I was also into long distance running), my desert boots (nah, because it was instant social death to wear something on casual day that you also wore to school) or denim kiaks - you remember them? Those stupid shoes made of thin foam with wisps of fabric sewn over the top that ripped within five minutes of wear? In 1985 I mostly chose my pale pink tennis shoes to kind of look cute and so they would match my skinny pink tie, worn with chambray baggy paneled jeans and a lo-o-o-o-ng light blue jumper. With my shoulder length spiral perm and dangly love heart earrings, I was happening baby!

These days, I may have more than my babysitting money to spend on clothes other than what my Mum was prepared to buy for me: "Look, I don't see why these nice target jeans aren't good enough, so I'll put in $14 for those and if you insist on having those ridiculous Corfu ones, you can find the extra $24 and as for wanting Adidas Romes instead of these perfectly fine Dunlops, well that's up to you......" Now I have about as much interest in what's in and 'out there' as our dog does in her weekly bath.

Instead the bulk of mine and Love Chunks' incomes go to the mortgage, petrol, food (we love our food and will not scrimp on anything that's below perfect), DVDs, wine (29 dozen at last count) and of course school gear, clothing, outings, toys, books and other necessities for our little girl. I can not see the point in spending $200 on a pair of jeans that leave most of my gut and arse hanging out. Nor am I prepared to wear a poncho the second time around - the photos of me with a pom-pom laden one from 1974 was bad enough, thanks very much. As for those ultra-pointy high heeled shoes, well, being a size nine would just mean that lift doors would ping shut before the rest of my body had entered. 1985 versus 2008 - Hmmm. 1985 for the interest and enjoyment, but 2008 wins out for the realisation that the length of my hair, skirt or brand of shoes just doesn't alter my life a jot.

Entertainment for a shy, bookish goody-goody like me back then (before I'd fully snared Sean) was mostly confined to videos at Jill's place (our family didn't own a VCR), or a night out at our town's only cinema. Police Academy 1 and 2 were playing at the Cameo Cinema (remember when you'd get two movies instead of just one?) and boy-oh-boy, that was some groundbreaking comedy! Real Genius (the introduction of Val Kilmer before he got nasty); The Breakfast Club (which I still like); St Elmo's Fire (hasn't dated at all well); Ladyhawke (an ethereally gorgeous Michelle Pfeiffer); Out of Africa (very boring, but made interesting by going to see it with Sean at the drive-in); Cocoon (cool) and Back to the Future (when Michael J Fox was a hot little thing and riding on his star turn as Alex P Keaton in Family Ties).

My favourite television show of the time was The Cosby Show, but even then I wondered at the sheer gaudiness and awfulness of the woolly jumpers that each character except Mrs Cosby was forced to wear. St Elsewhere - involving stories, strong characters and featured the first story about a character contracting AIDS; Cheers (still great - gotta love Cliff Claven); and Night Court (on in summertime hell, but hilariously sleazy).

Love Chunks and I bought our huge LCD widescreen digital TV with surround sound and DVD last Christmas, eagerly embracing the new technology. The reason for this is that we are parents. As such we don't ever get to see an adult movie together, so we figured that we might as well recreate the cinematic experience at home, minus the black-market snack bar prices, smelly popcorn and big genetically mutant heads in front of us. It's a thrill to see Gladiator and hear the magnificent orchestrals swirling around the room, to absorb, laugh and wince at American Beauty, This is Spinal Tap, High Fidelity, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Donnie Darko......worth every single penny.

Television hours have greatly reduced - I'd rather read a book than just sit there and watch whatever excrement is dished up. However, LC and I both love Scrubs, Survivor (so? it's mighty fine viewing), The Office (Original UK version only - even when it's repeated over and over); Spicks and Specks (funniest quiz show ever); Seinfeld (each series on DVD is greatly anticipated); Dexter and The Flight of the Conchords. 1985 versus 2008? Too easy - 2008 for the vast selection of old and new movies available at any time, in great sound, picture quality; and for the fact that I've not seen Steve Guttenberg on the screen since Three Men and A Baby.

Current events - like, what were they to a sixteen-going-on-seventeen girl in 1985? I watched most of Live-Aid over the entire weekend when I should have been studying up for my mid-term exams; saw my Mum's shock and disappointment at discovering that Rock Hudson was gay and had AIDS; remembered that the nasty-pasty Frenchies had bombed the Greenpeace boat 'Rainbow Warrior' in NZ and that there was some discussion in the paper about the hole in the ozone layer. To be honest though, the biggest news event of the year for me was that tickets for Midnight Oil were on sale at Memorial Drive on the night of my final exam - yee hah!

Today I've become what I used to scorn my parents for - an avid reader of the daily paper and watcher of the nightly news on ABC. In fact the computer age has made me worse than them - I read the Melbourne Age online, subscribe to several UK papers, scan the google news and even manage to sit through the 7:30 report every now and then. 1985 versus 2008? Tied, I think. 1985 for blissful ignorance and 2008 for (hopefully) some increased interest, maturity and wisdom to know what to care about.

There is no earth shattering conclusion here, but 2008 is preferred to 1985. It's a relief to discover that I no longer need to worry about what Sean thought of seeing me in my above-the-knee school tartan skirt; whether I'd ever get to understand the words of Australian Crawl songs; learn how to pash properly or be part of the cool crowd. Oh no, now it's so much simpler - coping with stress, burnout, parental worry, the River Murray, Kevin fulfilling his promises, petrol prices, the futility of the Iraq War/Sudan/Iran/Megan Gale and Jennifer Hawkins; unaffordable house prices, interest rates, cholesterol, irritable bowel, weeding, what the hell do I want to be when I grow up.......... And turning forty.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Fringe Fatigue

I've had a wonderful couple of weeks attending a truck load of Adelaide Fringe festival events on behalf of the Independent Weekly newspaper/daily online service and now I'm tired, tired, tired. My eyeballs feel as though they've been lacquered in honey and rolled in gravel and I think I've run out of friends who are:

* available
* have a babysitter on tap

* childless
* unemployed
* students with big gaps between lectures
* retirees who are NOT bowling, golfing, singing or pub grubbing
* folk who like to stay up beyond 9pm
* silly enough to enjoy being picked up in my dented, dusty old car; or
* get a perverse thrill at witnessing my tragic attempts at trying to find a free parking spot in the city.

On two occasions I've gone to a show as Nigel No Friends. The first was to see the brilliant trio 'The Hounds of the Baskervilles' act out 'Every Movie Ever Made'. It was at 11pm and there were no takers amongst family, friends or babysitters. In fact, with the big Four Oh staring me in the face later this year, it is now evident that my comrades definitely fall in the 'not after nine o'clock' variety (as do I normally, esp on school nights). I put on a good act of breezing confidently into the Garden of Unearthly Delights on my Hans Solo; pen and notebook in hand so that it was obvious that my role there was not to hook up with a lonely trapeze artist with a chubby-mummy fetish, but to work.

The second time on my jacksy I was feeling much more down in the dumps. Sometimes it's horrible being a parent, especially one that is trying to 'do the right thing' in terms of discipline, learning a valuable lesson, showing that there are consequences and so forth. Sapphire was going to be my 'plus one' to see 'Men of Steel', another clever trio of puppeteers who use kitchen implements, food and splattered ponchos to act out all sorts of crazy adventures. Unfortunately, Sapphire had told a few fibs a couple of days in a row. Her heinous crime involved looking me straight in the eye and answering, "No Mum, the chooks haven't laid any eggs today, I checked."

This has been a long-standing issue for our eight year old. She had been begging Love Chunks for some chickens for well on a year and, when three arrived (whom she called Hermoine, Luna and Ginny), they scared the living crap out of her. "They don't have any lips, so I don't know if they're pecking at me to hurt me or if it's because they can't kiss!" Fair point. We bought her a huge pair of gum boots that make her resemble a blonde Julia Roberts in the first scenes of 'Pretty Woman' but the collection of the eggs is still a chore she does her best to avoid.

It was therefore time to dole out a punishment for the lie - there were nine eggs sitting in their house, so she'd achieved a truthless trifecta. Love Chunks met my gaze briefly in a reassuring, 'Yes, we're in this together and must stand firm' kind of look, so I said: "That's IT Sapphire. You are not coming with me tonight!"

Flouncing out of the house towards the bus stop I could hear her anguished wails behind me. I felt like such a frigging heel. I had been really looking forward to taking my little darling chattery bird to a show that was G-rated, having a hot chocolate afterwards and a wander, hand-in-hand, through the Garden of UDs. Instead, I was alone once again, surrounded by grandparents, couples and kids. Trying to look as though I was busy writing wasn't a success because I dropped my pen and it slipped through the bench seating to the dim darkness of the ground far below. Oh and a flying piece of popcorn shot down my cleavage.

The third time as Desperate-and-Dateless-Dag will be tomorrow night, this time for a serious piece of theatre as part of the Festival. No babysitting options or favours to call in; just exhausted parents and maxed-out-mates wanting a quiet night in. Thank goodness I got Jill to come with me last night to see 'Puppetry of the Penis'......

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Bored or Brave?

A quick wander around my kitchen reveals a few of humankind's most popular foods that we would now dread contemplating living without. Classic basics that are always in our place include milk, yogurt and cheese in the fridge; and coffee and honey in the pantry. It leads me to wonder: Who were the first blokes bored and daring enough to try these foods for the first time in human history?

Already this article will have alienated fifty percent of my reading audience with my brash assumption that the initial tasters will invariably have been men. It may be an overly broad generalisation, but contemporary TV shows such as 'Fear Factor' and the food eating competitions from 'Survivor' seem to feature men as the winners in these daring dining dramas.

Even my own father, who I once caught absent mindedly eating my cat's dried fish-shaped munchies from the bowl I'd left near the phone, continued to eat them after I, horrified, told him what they were. The masculine 'Jackass' within him burst forth and he got a great kick out of seeing the disgusted expression on my face. Therefore, I will go on to assume that even in pre-biblical times, blokes still had that mentality within them whilst us gals were too busy gathering nuts and berries with three babies strapped to our backs.

Alcohol. Who was the first guy willing to eat a piece of rotten fruit to see what it tasted like? Was it a dare made by his fellow neanderthals around the campfire? Was he facing near death from starvation? And, after eating this spoilt fruit, when did he notice that he felt rather warm inside and happier? After swallowing a few more squishy pieces, when did he believe that he was the strongest hunter; the best at draggin' the gals back to the cave by their hair; owned the most flints, did the funniest woolly mammoth impressions and started yelling instead of whispering? Sadly, we'll probably never know the answer to that essential question - not while the US is spending billions on jaunts to the moon and back in dodgy shuttles.

The little we do know about this chap really only goes as far back as 10,000 years in Mesopotamia, or Iraq as we now know it. Their first brews were made from date palms and news spread far enough for the Babylonians to write the first regulations about drinking in public houses and for the Egyptians to devise the use of straws to suck it down faster. Then of course the Romans went even further, and worshipped a God of wine - Dionysus (or Bacchus, if you were Greek). They worshipped this god in orgiastic binges of drunken excess and it's no surprise to read further on that they also built special rooms, known as 'Vomitoriums' to recuperate in before heading back out to the party for more.

Dairy Foods are even more puzzling. Historians attribute human reliance on other animals' milk to around 8,000 years ago when the Swiss and the African Masai tribe chucked away their pesky nomadic lifestyles and decided to form permanent settlements instead. They found that there was less wild animal food to be had and animal milk became a very important part of their diets as a result. OK, so that's all very interesting, but who was the Swiss chap and the African dude that, many thousands of miles apart, decided to have a go at lying under one of their pet goats, sheep or cows to have a wee suck on a teat? Seeing as date palm wine had been widely introduced to mankind about two thousand years earlier, perhaps it influenced their decision to try it....

What about yogurt? There's a legend that tells us that a young Turkish nomad noticed that his pitcher of milk wasn't looking too good after sitting out in the blazing 45C heat. (Not that he knew this, but it had been contaminated by organisms who thrived in the warm stuff). Despite the look and smell, he chugged it down anyway. He was apparently excited enough to tell the others of his tribe and by the 8th Century, it was known as 'Yogurut'. Bless him - was he brave, stupid, starving or lacking any sense of smell?

Cheese is the other classic food. Those date-palm-wine drinkin' Mesopotamians were still at it - they are also attributed with noticing that milk curdled in the heat and could solidify and taste different. Who was the poor sucker who had to taste the first batch? And as for later varieties of cheese such as blue vein, stilton and washed rind I have no doubt that the end product of fermented fruits would definitely have played a huge role in the foolhardy factor.

The world's highest traded item, second only to oil, is coffee. Where would we be without our morning jolt and excuse to meet up with friends? Apparently the first known discovery of coffee beans was around 850AD, which is relatively late for fearless food tasting. History has it that an Ethiopian goatherder named Kaldi noticed that his goats were - ahem - much friskier after eating them. This excited him enough to try them too and he ran back to his village and 'started to feel happier.' No details are readily available on which person ground them up and poured hot water over them, but I bet it was his wife who was trying to stretch her housekeeping budget a bit further and cope with a hut full of bouncing babies.

Meeeeaaaah Meeeaaaaah! Brazilian double roasted baby!

I'll conclude this piece with one of my favourite foods, honey. What lunatic, presumably not the full jug of date wine, would risk being stung on the face, hands and arse to clamber up a tree, wade through wax and slurp down this magnificent syrup?

These questions remain in the 'unanswerable' file, along with 'Why do men have nipples?' 'Who says Claire Hooper is funny?' and 'Tell me again what the purpose of a mosquito is in life's food chain.' Take heart dear male reader - without the bravery and stupidity of your forbears, we would be so much the poorer without these fantastic foods.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Stupid Snobby Business

It may be an Adelaide, South Australia thing. The smaller the city (one million), the more intense the efforts for the wealthy nobs about town to make it known that they're part of the Old Boys' Club.

This pathetic behaviour goes beyond cultivating an accent that comes from somewhere behind their epiglottis and their arses; driving $100,000 Range Rovers that aren't likely to venture anywhere wilder than their beach house in Robe; and way beyond wearing a shirt with a polo player on it. No, in Adelaide it is the tiny little sticker that's displayed on the back of the European model car that is the unspoken symbol of wealth, snobbery and exclusivity combined.

There's a proud but secret army of Audis, beamers, Mercedes, Volky Golfs (no less than two years old, otherwise they're passed on to their teenage daughters or the nanny), top-level Hondas and any four-wheel-drive other than Holdens or Fords roaming the leafier suburbs with their version of ‘If It’s Got Tits or Wheels, It’s Going To Be Trouble’ stickers on them.

These sickening little stickers, however, have tiny little coats of arms on them or the old flag of Scotland, crossed oars or even some kind of poncy old Latin saying that's meant to remind the rest of us High School ignoramuses that we didn't attend, don't belong and will never break into their realm.

Whenever I'm idling my car behind one of these Sociopathic Snobs in my dented, dusty, thirteen year old Australian-made station wagon, my blood begins to boil and my witch-like grip on the steering wheel bends it into the shape of a thigh-master. Yes, any of you reading this could quite rightly accuse me of being jealous of not belonging to such a wealthy, Old School Tie club and you would be correct.

Or at least partly correct. Growing in a small country town didn't mean that we were all clueless, dirt poor yokels who considered a pasty and iced coffee a fine meal (although I do, actually). Indeed, country towns can provide a rather interesting cross section of wealth - the struggling farmers coming in to the shops every fortnight; meat workers, the transferred teachers, veterinarians and doctors - all the way up to the one-and-only car dealership, grain silo owner and meat works factory proprietor. It wasn't unusual to see the town's only Rolls Royce parked alongside a 35 year old Holden outside the newsagents.

As such, we had some rather well-off neighbors - doctors, and the owner of the town’s most lucrative business. The doctors' families remained working and living in the town, but their children were all packed off to boarding school by the age of twelve. No other local family was jealous of that situation – why have kids at all if you were only going to see them three times a year?

Meanwhile the much wealthier business owner moved house from the town where they earned their millions to a more leafy home in the hills; just right for their daughter's pony collection and regular shopping trips into Adelaide. They still sell cars in my hometown: it's just not good enough for them to live there. They weren't - and aren't - missed: if Mrs D had mentioned their childrens’ Exclusive-College-of-Choice’s 'facilities, quality of teachers and the best education and future that money can buy' to my mother one more time I would have likely been a witness to the first death by Sunbeam electric frypan in this part of the world.

The jealousy I have, though, is that none of the business man’s kids were what you'd call 'Intellectual Giants' and none of them made it through their final year with any form of academic success. Despite this, they all got brand new cars for their 16th birthdays and cushy little no-brainer-but-decent jobs via other parents whose children went to the same private school - the Old School Tie network at its finest. Any ‘Mental Pgymies’ I went to school with ended up in the rendering room at the meat works (Real life quote: "Hi there Kath - I'm real lucky - I'm closest to the radio and I get $150 a week!"), stacking shelves at the supermarket or on the dole. No 'PA to Leading Award Winning Advertising Hottie' or 'Culture Coordinator at Marketing Mayhem, North Adelaide' for those poor bastards.

These days, as a reasonably paid city resident, parent and struggling writer, I know that I need to get out more, but I harbour fantasies about dressing up in night time camouflage, doing a few commando rolls behind wheelie bins and scribbling a swastika over every single little snob sticker I find on the backs of prestige vehicles housed on the east side of the city.

I choose to blame my father for this attitude regarding stickers. No, he didn't encourage me to spew out my hatred for snobs via the written word or via swastika graffiti, but he has been known to use a sticker or two for mischievous reasons. Most of you will know that Cottees is a company that makes ice-cream toppings and has done for as long as my memory stretches. What Aussie kid didn't have a scooped mountain of Neapolitan ice-cream (chocolate first, then strawberry and only vanilla if was the only flavour left) in a cereal bowl surrounded by a glossy, brown moat of Cottees' chocolate topping?

My point - murkier than a Hilton sister's brain cell though it is - is that Dad loved to peel off the smaller dark blue sticker that was around the neck of the bottle that proudly proclaimed the syrup was 'Thick and Rich.' Being an active family of five with a mother who considered cooking to be about as fun as a pap-smear done with salad tongs, we accumulated many of these stickers.
Dad used to sneak around his friends’ cars, slapping the little ‘thick and rich’ stickers on their windshields and licence plates. Sometimes it would be months before they'd even notice them (and then immediately guess it was him), but I'm sure it provided the driver behind them with a bit of amusement at the town's one and only set of traffic lights.

Sadly, these days the bottles have 'thick and rich' incorporated into the main label which can't be easily peeled off without turning it into paper mache.

However there may be some scope for me to exact some revenge by using up some of our office's old mail merge labels, printing out 'I HAVE TOO MUCH MONEY' on every single one and slapping them next to the Snob Sticker every time I see one during my walk through the Coles Norwood car park......