Saturday, October 31, 2009

Knowledge November - Day One

As longer-term readers might recall, last year I had an Appreciative August, in which I blogged every single day about things I was truly grateful for. Fellow blogger Franzy was inspired (at least, that's my interpretation of it) to start up his own monthly blog theme, but had the wisdom to designate it Single Sentence September which he's done two years in a row now. This year, I've selected November. It's my birth month and often a time I reflect on what I've learned int the past year as I (increasingly) eye another birthday number with equal parts concern and relish.

Knowledge November will see me trying to write on this blog every single day about things I've learned, noticed or realised during my own participation in the hardest event of all - life.

Thousands upon thousands of other bloggers are throwing themselves into NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month in which the goal is to either write an entire novel or at least 60,000 words by the end of the month. The challenge is a mighty one and therefore it's understandable how a lot of blokes - or brave Frida Kahlos - are instead opting for Movember in order to grow a soup-strainer above their top lip for charity with the option of a shave on the 1st of December.
For me it'll be knowledge. Some silly, some wise, some sad, some profound. Or just some.

Today - the very first day of Knowledge November I want to share with you something deeply personal and troubling.

Being a middle child (yes, that could be a separate blog page entirely) and the only girl meant that I used to feel (or liked to imagine, in my more dramatic moments) that I was just the 'spare' kid in the family. Jan Brady was my soul mate; albeit ten years older, many thousands richer and a hemisphere apart.

To me it seemed like Mum and Dad had made a huge fuss about Robert's arrival because he was first and his album was bulging with photographs, christening cards and notations about every aspect of his growth.

Little David's arrival was a huge event because he was the last child. And sickly. And was returned to the hospital for a week because he screamed and made Dad decide to undergo a vasectomy as soon as he could find an available doctor.

The few photos in my baby album - and the fact that my family continually reminded me that my nickname of 'Bubble' was due to resembling a fat SANFL footy player and because I was a chunky-wunky boombah who apparently liked to ride around and around the house on hot summer nights with a bucket on my head whilst the family enjoyed their dinner peacefully inside - reinforced this view.

The other day I saw a two year old girl with her family. She, like me was the middle child with her brother of around four years old was perched upon his father's shoulders and a newborn was sleeping in the pram. My Mum was with me, spending the day in the city before she and Dad flew out to New Zealand for a Grey Nomad experience over the Tasman.

I looked again and saw what they'd done to their precious little girl and clutched Mum's arm. "Oh that's terrible - she's not a wild dog!"

Mum looked down at the ground, showing an uncharacteristic blush of embarrassment. Over a cacophanous shopping centre cappuccino she unburdened herself of something she'd kept from me for nearly 39 long years.

The knowledge I have to impart is darker than being left outside playing with a bucket on my head: much worse. Are you ready? Really ready? Here goes....

I was the only child of the three of us that they put in a harness.

A harness.....! Those awfully humiliating bridles that evil parents make their toddlers wear so that they can't go anywhere fun or further than a metre from the torturer holding the reins who then yanks them back to joyless servitude and submission. Ropes and pulleys disguised in bright materials but never able to hide the fact that they were designed by child-hating Dickensians and still elicit gasps of horror when spotted in public places such as the shops or agricultural shows today.

Dad tried to soften the blow when I rang him, full of accusations, questions and tears.
"You always had a crazy look in your eye and we never knew just when you were going to dash out across the street or shoot around the corner."

Yeah but I was two years old....! Robert was the one who used to ram his head against the asbestos wall when he threw tantrums and David picked white snail shells off the brush fence and crunched on them like cheezels, so how was I any crazier?

I could hear his sigh over the phone line. "Look, we did the best we could do in limited circumstances. It was either that or club you into unconsciousness."

Oh. Maybe it was the best of two options then.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I've had days where
nothing ever fits into my mouth except my food, stray insects and - sadly - Milly's tongue when I was bending down to pat Skipper and she seized an opportunity to stop licking her clacker and dash past and slurp me across the kisser before I could stop, sniff the air, feel my face and wonder, "Who just farted?" - but today I've had a Physlexic day.

Physlexia is debilitating, often humiliating and certainly time wasting ailment that results in nothing I touch ending up in the right spot, sometimes not even on the fourth or seventh try.

It is probably the universe's way of throwing a little Karma - and unwanted dog lick - my way for having a shameful propensity to guffaw loudly and inappropriately at people tripping over, falling down or being pooped on by birds. I'd like to think it's because it happens to me so often as well but if I ever catch an episode of 'Australia's Funniest Home Videos' a bit of wee often slips out and that's certainly not anything to be proud of.

Back to my case of Physlexia. This affliction is not a general descriptor, but one that applies to several hours of severe uncoordination performing tasks that can usually be done with my eyes closed. Therefore, it doesn't relate to lack of sporting ability when balls thrown or caught are required, but everyday stuff like hanging out the washing.

My OCD tendencies usually reign supreme during this mundane chore - undies, bras and socks at the back so that any surprise visitors aren't treated to a breeze-filled side-show of the Lockett family's underthings; then a line or two of Sapphire's clothes, adult clothes and finally the large items like towels and sheets. The trouble is, if it's windy, the sheets billow out across the outdoor table and have been known to turn a surprised guest into an instant mummy for a second or two before whipping back into position and resulting only in a surprised expression and a spilt cup of tea.

With the smalls, I usually grab six in my left hand and six pegs in my right and get cracking. Trouble is today Physlexia ensured that I'd drop a peg - bend down to retrieve it - straighten up and a bra would fall out of my hands. I'd bend down again to pick up the bra and three pegs would fall to the ground just as I'd straightened up again. I'd leave them there, reach up to hang up the bra and Sapphire's knickers would drop. I'd swiftly bend down to pick them and the pegs up and forget that I had four socks that would slip out of my grip during the upwards movement and land on Skipper's roof. To the fat guy smoking on the second floor balcony next door, all you'd have to do is edit out the clothes and pegs via a blue screen and I'd be doing a good imitation of Quasimodo doing his daily bell ringing.

This pointless process went on and on and on and by the time I'd finished the clothes were all securely on the line but covered in a fine layer of dust, dead grass and leaf pieces.

Inside wasn't too successful either. First I somehow misjudged the width of the bedroom door (maybe because I'd only passed through it about, oh, a thousand times before) and the thick, unforgiving stainless steel knob decided to puncture me in the upper thigh. I staggered backward and snagged the very same thigh - in the very same spot - on the edge of our bed frame. Poo-Bum-Bugger-Shit-Fart it HURT!

Working in the kitchen proved more challenging than usual (and that's really saying something). Stripping the long hairy bits off sweetcorn cobs is often a bit clingy at the best of times, but today they clung to my hands like mini Maggi noodles. I'd shake one hand and they'd fly off and stick to the other like those unwanted boogers we all try to flick off but don't want to admit to. Thankfully Physlexia didn't seem to be interested in playing havoc with any sharp knives and my only other misfortune was when the top of the squeezy honey container fell off and it burped out a cup load instead of a tablespoon onto my meusli.*

I found myself back outside by the letterbox struggling to pull out the log-sized load of junk mail wedged in there by a little old lady with a wonky old wheelie cart who I've often imagined must have the secret strength of someone a different gender and five decades younger. This daily event always then leads to me walking around to our wheelie bins and sifting quickly through the brochures with my left hand and throwing out the rejects with my right hand, whilst simultaneously flipping the bin lid open. Not today of course. Physlexia's foul foolings meant that I ended up re-enacting the snapping jewellery box scene from Pretty Woman more times than is worth counting.

Alas, even in the bathroom - the last refuge of solitude and simplicity - Physlexia won the day. Reaching in the lower shelf of the vanity for a new bog roll I tried to stand up and doinged - yes, doinged, it even sounded like that - the top of my incredibly thin skull up against the sharp-edged bottom rung of our heated towel rail. Pain and burns for the price of one doing.

Since then, I haven't the courage to try opening my carton of iced coffee at the lip or fold up Skipper's triple-hinged playpen and Love Chunks and Sapphire are out hunting down a rotisserie chicken for dinner so I can avoid hopefully avoid dealing with any apparatus more dangerous than a fork and a plate for a few hours more before this day ends.

Thank god for screw top wine bottles, ugg boots and rows of chocolate - even Physlexia is powerless against my skills in those areas.

As if honey is going to make the world's most boring breakfast food any more interesting, but apart from drizzling the bowl of raw oats and nuts and bolt-type things with melted chocolate (and thus undoing my cholesterol reduction campaign) there's not much else that can be done, apart from powderise it in a blender and somehow breathe it in.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ungrateful Gits

Love Chunks woke up on Saturday morning and, after he returned from his refreshing ten kilometre run along the Maribyrnong River, he cooled down, fetched the paper, checked on Sapphire and made us both a freshly ground and brewed coffee.

After finishing my cappuccino, I went back to bed for a bit more of a lie down - chocolate and book reviewing is exhausting work and it felt good to be able to get up at 10.00am instead of my far-too-rigorous weekday waking time of 7:30am.

He and Sapphire then decided to whip up a home made breakfast of potato rosti, poached eggs and home made tomato and kidney bean salsa sprinkled with chopped parsley from our herb garden, and called out to me to get up and join them.

Later that evening as Sapphire was on the phone to Juliet and I was playing on the computer, Love Chunks rustled up a rather nice dinner - BBQ-ed peppercorn salmon, oven-roasted olive oil and rosemary potatoes, seared asparagus and sesame seed oil and salad sprinkled with balsamic vinegar. We ate with plates balanced on our laps in front of 'The Big Bang Theory'.

But when it was my turn to do something for lunch the next day they weren't so thrilled.

I don't know why - surely they needed a change?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fan Boy

"Here, this is for you," he said, beaming at me on Monday, offering me a freshly-picked flower.

He is tall, handsome, confident ....

... four years old

.... won my heart with his very first smile and impish 'Hello'

.... and I've looked forward to 'bumping into' him on the daily walk to and from school every day since that first meeting.

Carefully holding the flower, I walked alongside him, chatting casually, answering his questions with a breezy nonchalance I did not feel inside as his scooter clattered along the kerb.

The flower deserved to be saved for a while longer to preserve the wonderful fizz of happiness bubbling away inside, so an ancient shot glass was found for Patrick's impulsive gift.

On Friday, at the end of a busy week, I was at my usual place by the side gate at the school; not welcome in the grounds due to having Milly with me, waiting for Sapphire to emerge - sticky hair, tired grin and usually staggering under the weight of her tortoiseshell-of-a-backpack.

Fifteen minutes ticked by which is about five months in a 'The bell has gone and school's finished for the week' time-frame and Milly had been greeted and patted by her regular dozen or so stage door Johnnies. Sapphire's friends and class mates had all hustled past, said 'Hi' and headed home. The cleaner arrived and the yard-duty teacher was ready to unzip her fluoro vest and find her hatchback in the staff car park. Still no Sapphire to be seen.

My stomach started pounding in anxiety. Where was she?

Oh yes, then I remembered - Sapphire was at her extra music lesson straight after school to cover the one she missed when at camp last week. I was therefore content to linger at the gate with Milly, ruffling her ears as we checked the progress of the apartment block being built by burly Kiwi blokes across the road and the angry pair of Pomerians complaining about the intrusion in the tiny brick house next door.

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted Patrick. He was playing in the sandpit inside the school fence while his older brother Lachlan was kicking the footy with his father, Chris.

Patrick finished poking his stick collection into the squashed lunch time sand castle made by older kids and spotted me.
"Kath! Hello Kath," he yelled happily and ran over.

I turned and smiled, walking towards my young male admirer.

His father was about 100 metres away and had met me only once before and on that singular occasion I was wearing a dress, heels and make-up and was about to go out with his wife Amy to see a fashion show and movie about Valentino.

He was not, therefore, able to instantly compute that the figure in denim jeans and a black hoodie that was - at that unfortunate moment - covering her head due to the cold breeze, was, in fact, his wife's friend.

Like a taller and thinner Tom Cruise from 'Minority Report' at the swimming pool he instead noted that his youngest son was approaching a shabbily-dressed stranger at the school gate.

"Patrick!" His face was a mask of instant anguish and there was no way his six foot-seven frame was going to allow me even a moment to consider reaching out to ruffle his son's hair. He ran like a streak of petrified parental lightning across the oval.


I flipped my hoodie back and smiled nervously. "Er, Hi Chris. It's Kath."
Chris's face was still reverting from panic to blankness.

"Chris? I'm Kath; your wife Amy's friend. We went to see that movie together...? We're coming to your place for morning tea this Sunday...?"

He nodded, the colour returning to his cheeks. "Oh, yes. Kath...."

I couldn't help but say it out loud.

"You thought I was a paedophile, didn't you?"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Food Fetishes

Yep, that title will get my regular 'Enid Blyton Nude Tennis' searchers in a lather! Calm down the rest of you, it's a meme (as in stuff about Me-ME!) on food. It's probably a good thing I did this straight after dinner or I'd be inhaling a wheel of Brie wrapped in bacon that's been left simmering in a cauldron of melted Lindt right now.

1. Whats your #1 comfort food?
Do I have to say it after all this time? CHOCOLATE. There. You happy now?
Blocks, truffles, bars, coatings, chips, cakes, tarts, cheesecakes, pastries, biscuits, logs, creams, caramels, ganaches, frogs, scorched objects, organics, liqueurs.

2. If you were stranded on a desert island what 5 foods would you want to have with you to survive on?
I’m assuming that tropical fruits, coconuts and fish are freely available – well they are on my desert island. Apart from the most obvious (see question one), I’d also have to go with cheese (wouldn’t think I’d be able to find a cow there, let alone the capacity to make a brie), bacon (a change from seafood and coconuts would no doubt be nice), rice (to make sure there was some ‘filler’ if fish and fruit weren’t plentiful) and black pepper. Everything tastes better with pepper.

3. What are your signature dishes? (What dishes are you known for making?)
Chocolate cheesecake
Berry cheesecake
Lemon cheesecake
Chocolate Mousse. Pots au Chocolat. Sexual Chocolate. Triple Chocolate layered trifle.
And spaghetti bolognese.

4. It's Friday night, you don't know what to cook. You opt for?
If Love Chunks isn’t home and take-away isn’t an option, it’ll always be a One Pot. Pasta, risotto, stir-fry or a curry of some kind. ‘Lazy and basic’ is one way to describe my approach to cooking but I prefer ‘organised’ and ‘reducing the amount of cleaning to do afterwards’.

5. What's your ultimate food weakness?
Oh come ON – chocolate. I’ve got high cholesterol, I run like the clappers just to look slightly chubby instead of morbidly obese and I actually lie in bed fantasising about the stuff.

6. What food can you soooo not eat?
Pumpkin and sweet potato. Hate them and actually start gagging if someone plops a chunk of the roasted stuff on my plate. Broad beans are a close second – Dad used to grow them and Mum would boil them until they went all grey and wrinkly. “Grey and wrinkly” is not how you want ANY food to look. Or taste.

7. You need a drink, you grab a.....?
Glass of water, straight from the tap. Room temperature. Delicious.
Second – freshly ground coffee brewed by Love Chunks and his girlfriend Ms Krups
Third – three hand-squeezed oranges – and the pith – gulped down straight after a run
Fourth – icy cold Farmers Union Feel Good Iced Coffee
Fifth – Domaine Chandon champagne (if someone else is buying).

8. What's the most decadent dish you've ever had?
It was more of a meal than a specific dish. Back in 1997, restaurant-of-the-moment Radii was open at the Park Hyatt in Melbourne, and LC and I joined three mates for a ‘degustation’ meal that clearly needed its own vomitarium next to the table. It was too much, too rich, too buttery, too oily, too heavy, too decadent, too wasteful too too too...... Poor Ian ended up in hospital the next day and had his gall bladder removed – that ridiculous meal was the final straw.

9. What's your favourite type of food?
Home made. Mum’s ham and pearl barley soup and her just-out-of-the-oven cup cakes; Love Chunks’ roast chicken, linguine carbonara, moussaka and salt-and-pepper flathead (the fish, not his hairstyle); Dad’s lasagne; Jill’s hummingbird cake and breakfast of any kind cooked by LC and Sapphire together.

10. Favourite Dish?
Too hard to answer. Is there a meal that combines roast chicken skin, bacon, asparagus, brie, stilton, chocolate, iced coffee, fresh oranges, kalamata olives, smoked salmon, carrot sticks and wood oven bread together?

11. If your partner could take you to any restaurant, where would you go?
My tastes are simple, so I’d avoid the la-di-dah places that win the chefs hats and poncy reviewer accolades. Instead, I love going to Chinese noodle houses that look a bit daggy but are full of homesick students or Greek places full of families and corner cafes that do a roaring breakfast trade all day. Pretty well anywhere that I can wear my jeans and sneakers into and not stand out.

12. Soup or Salad?
Salad. Isn't soup just a hot salad? But no, salad it is, especially if it’s a ‘salad’ in name only but has lashings of blue cheese mayo, bacon pieces, parmesan shavings, croutons, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, char-grilled octopus or chicken that squashes the tomatoes and lettuce leaves.

13. Buffet, Take-Out or Sit-Down?
Sit down for socialising and take-away for hiding at home in my trakkie daks and ugg boots. Oh who am I kidding, ‘take-away’ – it’s always home delivery!

14. What's the most impressive meal you've ever made?
I did a pretty damn nice prawn and spinach risotto (from scratch) with dill (the herb, as well as my skill level) and lemon a few weeks ago that LC and Sapph were very impressed with. Still a One Pot though.

15. Do you consider yourself a good cook?
Only if Chopper REad considers himself a patient and gentle man, so Nope. Cooking is a chore, much the same as vacuuming up Milly’s hair off the red carpet, cleaning out the rabbit hutch or weeding without gloves. I love to eat but HATE having to stand at the fridge and think about what I have to do to what’s inside it to make it acceptable to plop on a plate.

16. Do you know what vichyssoise is?
Leek and potato soup or those silly 'poo catcher' pants made in silk that rustle when you walk to the bus stop?

17. Who's your favourite TV cook?
No-one stands out – they’re vaguely entertaining but I’ve never been inspired to cook anything I’ve seen demonstrated on the box. Jamie’s OK, but I don’t ‘get’ the sex appeal – the lisp, the Macaulay Culkin fish lips and the ‘loadsa herbs’ and ‘pukka’ is annoying, not attractive. Nigella’s fine too, but it’s more her way with words that’s seductive rather than her actual recipes. I love Masterchef as a tv series but have not wanted to cook anything that Gary Mehigan or George Calombaris have demonstrated – too fiddly and too fatty for me.

18. Can you name at least three famous cooking personalities?
Julia Child (love Meryl’s characterisation of her), Peter Russell Clarke (well, he used to ask “Where’s the cheese?” and end with a paedophilic giggle a lot in the eighties) and Keith Floyd – I loved the way the camera would fog up because Clive got in too close.

19. Homemade or homemade from a box?
Home made. Nothing out of a box fools anyone. And that goes for starlets' body parts too!

20. Tag three more foodies... Nah, I won’t because you all can do it if you like and let me know. Aren’t we all foodies, don’t we all need to eat?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Luck Sucks

Despite considering myself reasonably intelligent, I still buy a ticket for the Saturday night tatts-lotto draw every few weeks or so.

Australia's population is approaching twenty-two million and any mathematician (ie Love Chunks) will tell you that the chances of selecting the winning six numbers from a combination of 45, is well, about 123,456,789 to one. Most of us would have either created a program or seen a friend create one that compares the success of choosing the same six numbers every week to varying them each week - with the same six winning by the mere skin of a cooling custard.

To complicate things further (at least for a numerically-challenged meathead like me) is that most people tend to select their 'regular six' using birthdates which means that numbers above 31 are unlikely to feature on their tickets. Whether any boffin has bothered to work out the odds of selecting numbers 32 to 45 to increase the chances of winning is probably still being undertaken by science undergrads seeking a wild and crazy change from spending their Saturday nights translating the Old Testament into Klingon.

Yet, as admitted to earlier, I avoid logic and willingly buy a ticket and, before I've even left the newsagent, idly waste about ten minutes of my life indulging in the 'What if I Won Lotto' fantasy. Yes, the most unoriginal, unrewarding and unrealistic daydream that every person above the age of seven has entertained at least once in their lives. It is sadly pathetic and even though I'd like to think I am above all that, I still do it. It's a bit like believing that an orange eaten after a Kit-Kat cancels out the wickedness of the chocolate, and I still do that too.

On Sunday mornings I flick to page two of the newspaper, write down the winning lotto numbers (and the two supps - any money is good money) and then meticulously check my ticket. Nope, not even a division six prize, dammit. But do I throw the ticket away? Of course not.

It stays in my purse until Friday morning. On my way to the supermarket for the weekly shop I'll pop into the newsagent, flash a hopeful smile and ask them to run the now-slightly-tattered ticket through their computer, vainly hoping that I've mis-checked and the numbers will tell a better story.

The bored shop assistant slips it into the slot, counts to three and hands me back my ticket and a slip and tells me, "Sorry, not this time love."

And here's the killer: the slip says 'Not A Winner,' as if to rub salt in my already pus-infected wound of disappointment.

Why don't they just go all out and say 'YOU'RE A TOTAL LOSER' instead? Perhaps they could also get a bit creative with the rejection slips and have a different one each time: 'You're still poor. And ugly'. Or: 'You should be happy that you even had the guts to turn up here today and not frighten any of our customers'; 'Hell, a face like yours would be able to sand down a log,'; or 'Trust me, you didn't win last time, didn't win this time and will never win. Rack off.'

This would be the one I'd get: 'You lost. Now get out of here; you make the place look untidy.'

I blame the work lotto club for introducing me to this world of unrealistic hope and crushing reality. We would all chip in our $2 for the week and get a group ticket. However, as soon as I joined up, we didn't win a brass razoo. (What is a 'razoo' exactly? Well whatever it was, we never won it).

Our statistical analyst suggested that the odds would be far more favourable if we tried putting our money on the gee-gees, taking it in turns to select the race and whichever horse's name appealed to us. Twelve months of that and still no pot of gold.

How about the greyhounds? Zilcho. Our other stats guy helpfully pointed out that if we'd invested our weekly contributions instead we'd have fully paid for our christmas lunch, endless drinks and taxi fares. He was promptly shoved into the photocopier room and ignored until the deadline rush for the unit's monthly finance reports.

Scratchies were our last resort. Again it was two bucks each and we'd buy a whole toilet roll of them and take it in turns each week to scratch them all. It was absolutely tragic - our biggest windfall was $3 and we'd only spent $28 to 'win' it.

Is there a message in all of this? Well obviously it's to keep your money in your wallet or the bank, but we don't do we? We all like to wish, hope and fantasise. My naive little gambling bug also extends to entering competitions. Thankfully I'm not like my friend Bill's sister who ended up buying 16 jars of mustard for the entry tokens, but I am prepared to pay for a 55c stamp to enter a competition on the back of a packet that I'd ordinarily buy.

And what have I won? Well, I wanted to win the First Class around-the-world tickets on offer, but got the consolation prize of a Deeko paper serviette holder instead. It's actually rather useful and is a quite attractive wrought iron design that can withstand most windy days when we're having lunch outside.....

I also wanted to win the Cadbury $250,000 cash promotion, but got a blue plastic 'Time Out' watch instead. To be fair, it proved handy for gardening and swimming in the three-month life span it provided and getting some facial cleanser and toner from Jurlique was OK but I felt a bit shortchanged when what I really wanted was all-expenses paid fortnight's health and beauty retreat at the Golden Door in Queensland....

At the time of typing this, I'm still hoping to come up trumps for the Schweppes 'Magic Moments' win two-grand per week for a year competition; the Woolworths/Safeway Honda Odyssey/Fiji holiday/free groceries for o
ne year in the 'Read it - Win it' magazine promotion; Home Beautiful 'Aussie Home' photography awards; Epilepsy Association BMW raffle; Flemington Traders' local calendar shots, the Grand Angus $50,000 cash first prize...... Oh, wait. I actually have to buy - and possibly eat - one of those to be in the running, don't I...?

Overly optimistic and pathetic, yes. But the day I stop hoping is the day I'll stop living; regardless of the mathematical logic. And I ain't a logical gal, as Love Chunks and the general population will readily tell

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Get on the bus!

Sapphire had been counting down the terms, weeks, days and – finally – hours until the official commencement of her school camp.

She started packing on the Saturday when her friend Juliet was over, dusting her hands with satisfaction at her efforts.

“Do you mind if I check what you’ve packed?”
The hurt expression was enough for me to hastily wave my hand at her and say, “Oh never mind, I’m sure it’s fine,” and instead make a mental note to go through it all when she was at school on Monday.

Monday: Hmm. I was sure the note said no lollies and no electronics, so the chup-a-chups, musk sticks and Nintendo were taken out. I also decided that the lavender toilet spray was a tad unnecessary as well, and why a sachet of Sea Monkeys and three buckets of play-doh were included was a mystery......

Tea time, Tuesday night: “Mum the teachers say we can’t take a suitcase but just our school backpacks. If we can’t lift it ourselves, we can’t take it.”

(Me, sighing). “Well, if they send home a list entitled ‘What your child MUST bring’ and include a thick sleeping bag, pillow, warm winter jacket, hat, gloves, scarf, bathers, towel, sun hat, spare shoes, thongs, spare jacket, three t-shirts, an extra pair of trousers, reading book, note book, pencil case, camera, linen, waterproof bathroom bag, asthma inhalers and spare underwear, then you’ll need a suitcase.”

10pm, Tuesday: “Mum all of my clothes have to have my name on them.”

“Get back into bed NOW! ------ No, this chocolate is for your Dad and me, it has alcohol in it ----- I’ve written your name on your jacket and sleeping bag but I’m sure ----- no, don’t interrupt ------ I’m sure that no-one else in your class or dorm or canoeing clutch is going to have a farting dog t-shirt, blue cord jeans with snowflakes on the hem or a hot pink cap with a laughing kiwi bird on it, OK?”

At 11.30pm: The dishwasher was on; Milly had been taken outside for her last sniff at Skipper’s hutch and wee in the grass and was now circling around and around in her beanbag by the telly before settling down. The doors were all locked; Love Chunks was cleaning his teeth and I was going to check on – and kiss - what I hoped was a peacefully sleeping child.

She sat bolt upright as I crept in. “Mum! We have to bring our recess and lunch tomorrow but Mrs Larkins says it needs to be in a paper bag that we can throw away and it must have our name written on it clearly and a water bottle that fits in our bag or is a disposable one. Do we have any disposable ones? You said you don’t like buying them so can we just buy one for me to use for tomorrow from the corner shop on the way to school tomorrow?”
(Me, pushing her gently back down): “Sure, fine. Lie down now.”

Wednesday dawned at 5am for an excited Sapphire who found the four hour time-frame she now had for getting dressed, feeding her rabbit and eating breakfast was a bit long.
“Can I take my scooter up and down the street?”
“No love because it’s 5.45am and the neighbours’ll think a tram’s escaped and about to crash into their windows.”
“Would the shop be open for us to go and buy a bottle of water?”
“Not yet.”
“Why don’t we make some muffins?”
“Because I’m going back to bed for another hour or so and you’re going back to bed to read your book. Quietly.”

At 8.30am, we shut the gate on Milly’s puzzled face. “Sorry girlie, but there’ll be too many kids there at the gate this morning and dogs aren’t allowed on school grounds,” and set off to the sounds of her anguished howls.

Dammit, Sapphire’s suitcase did weigh a ton, but at least she would only have to lug it from the bus to her dorm and, right now was gaily swinging her bag of lunch, lasso-like, over her head. No doubt her saladas would be dukka crumbs by the time she got around to eating them.

9:15am found me home again, ruffling Milly’s ears in apology and promising to take her out for a walk later on that day. Two nights of childlessness meant that it was time to make some arrangements - whoo hoo!

I walked into the bedroom to find my address book and saw this note on my pillow:

Clutching the letter in my hand I found myself wandering into her room, looking at the bed which looked like she'd just leapt out of it; the colourful chaos of pens, paper scraps and crayons on her desk; her most favourite rocks and pebbles lined up in a row on her shelf alongside some Wallace and Gromit figurines.

God I missed her.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Run for your life

Joan Rivers once said “The first time I see a jogger smiling, I might consider it.”

She has a point – because it is bloody hard – but then again, she’s resorted to expensive, public and painful processes of plastic surgery, liposuction, botox injections, chemical face peels and dermabrasion for her own well being and now looks like this:

...which, if you view a bit closer, ironically makes the viewer actually want to run. Run away from the image and what it represents and hope like hell that the chin hairs she invariably uses electrolysis to remove are not in reality, her super-stretched bikini line....

There. That makes anything I’m about to write about relating to sweat, farting, breathlessness and burning muscles seem like a sweet rest in a field of violets by comparison, doesn’t it?

And so, approximately five mornings a week I open this secret door...

.... hang my sweat towel over the rail, take off my gold bangles (they jingle too much) and polar fleece jacket, twist my bum bag around to the back once my playlist is selected and then press ‘start’ on the treadmill panel, selecting a speed of 12.6km per hour.

In less than thirty seconds my legs start saying “Stop Kath, please stop. We don’t think we can do this today.”
My lungs say, “Give up now. This is too hard for us.”
My right shoe says, “Can’t you feel me swimming here – I’m so much smaller than the canoe in the left shoe and a blood blister’s now growing on my second toe.”
My arms say, “Crikey, we’ve forgotten how to swing properly and it’s freezing in here!”
My arse says, “I don’t think I’ll be able to hold out for the entire session, so I’m going to start sending you a few fragrant warning signs, OK?”

But my head says, “Ignore them all. Listen to the music and RUN.”

My father always springs to mind, veteran of several marathons in the 1980s and a patient companion on my first runs as a teenager. We’d wake up at 6.00am and jog along the edges of the Murray Bridge race course, me complaining, him encouraging. “But Dad look, this is the WORST run I’ve ever done and it’s the WORST I’ve ever felt. It’s starting to rain and each drop is sizzling on my face like a hotplate,” I’d puff out raggedly, somehow still continuing to keep on running as I did so.

Philip Wells, school star sportsman and President of the SRC approached us from the other side of the road one morning, running faster than a gazelle and barely cracking a sweat. My whingeing stopped as I automatically increased my pace, held my head up high and sailed right past him, nodding a silent ‘hello’ in respectful recognition of our mutual athletic endeavours.

As we rounded the corner and out of sight, I collapsed into a mulga bush and Dad roared with laughter.

I loved running with him and knew that he was slowing his pace considerably just so he had an activity to share with his overly-dramatic fifteen year old daughter. He’d say to me, “Yes your lungs are working hard; yes your feet are hurting and yes your legs are aching, but think about each of them separately. Are your lungs really going to explode? Your feet break down or legs drop off?”

“No,” I’d pant and realise that my body was indeed a pretty wonderful piece of work, allowing me to run the outskirts of my home town before anyone other than Philip Wells, trainers returning their horses to the stables or interstate truck drivers were up.

His words stay with me today amongst the lyrics I’m hearing in the earphones. I’m not seeing the dull wooden wall in front of me but looking inside to memories old and new and having a good look at the ideas swirling around for articles, remembering all kinds of inexplicable events and reflecting on others, sentimentalising my darling Sapphire and thinking about what I’m dying to tell Love Chunks later when I see him. They’re all there, running with me, keeping me going.

My heart is thumping hard but strong, now louder than any song or memory and the sweat is dripping down my forehead and into my eyes making them sting. I'm no star runner - Nutella's advertisers and Steve Monaghetti aren't going to be tracking me down any time soon - but it has become an essential part of my life.

There are days when I do need to stop for a few seconds because I'm afraid that my body can't match the merciless pace of the black belt I’m running on and will fling me back onto the exercise bike, cracking my bones, skinning my knees and making me cry. But after a breather, I always get back on, feeling all the better for doing so.

I can’t say that I’m smiling during the run but it allows me to move further away from the black dog and self-doubt and closer towards a contentment of sorts. Afterwards I look at the data on the treadmill panel with pride and go outside to flop on our cold and hard metal bench seat, resting my head in my hands and my elbows on my knees, watching each splat of sweat hit the paving stones.

It is then that I smile. My little orange dog Milly wanders over for a pat and a sly lick of sweat from my legs. No matter what else happens today, I’ve already won.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I’m in love with Boris

Boris (sometimes I go all gooey and just call him 'Borry') is strong, sturdy, almost completely silent and reliable. He’s also sleek, efficient and very, very good at what he does, which involves occasionally rattling the ornaments but always making me very happy.

So, is it possible to fall in with an appliance?

(Figuratively wagging my finger at you, dear reader): No no, no, I don't mean that appliance used mostly nocturnally by the lonely and lustful - but a dishwasher!

When Love Chunks and I moved into our cosy Flemington abode this year, it turned out that the four year old kitchen held a fourteen year old dishwasher. Apart from being cream in colour instead of the suspect poo-brown of the very first dishwasher I’d ever touched, it had proved to be just as deadly and cast my mind back to 1988.....

I was single, sharing a townhouse in Hackney with two of my best mates from uni and still convinced that a shaggy spiral perm paired with a size XL hot pink t-shirt, white swatch watch and baggy cartoonish shorts were the epitome of style and sophistication. 1927 were going to rule the charts for years to come!

Me in 1988, still not yet smart enough to take the taco shells out of their plastic and holding the classic red 'Australian Women's Weekly Cook Book' from which I learned absolutely nothing.

The dishwasher was a chocolate vinyl-covered monster with bright orange knobs in homage to the era that fashion, common sense and interior design forgot (no, not even 1998) - the late seventies. However, for us it was only a few years old and certainly seemed a much fun-ner way of getting our plates clean than one of us doing it. Besides, we were diligent university students. We were much more focussed on drinking, finding money for drinking and learning to cook (usually in that order), and these pursuits left little energy or will for doing anything as sensible as filling the sink up with palmolive and finding the green scourer thingy.

Therefore, the poo-brown box’s first operation for us three girls was an important one: what luxury to have a dishwasher and how remote those arguments with my brothers about whose turn it was to do the dishes seemed. Jo, as the sexy-but-sensible geology major, read the instructions etched on the inside of the door and Fiona, the scatter-brained-but-creative writer flung in some dishwashing powder. I made all three of us my Tuesday night dinner specialty - toasted tinned spaghetti sandwiches with additional slices of cheese, washed down with an intriguing cocktail of WestCoast Cooler, Midori and diet coke. Heady days my friends, heady days.

Our laboured chewing of charcoaled squares of mostly inedible filling served only as a coincidental background percussion to the sounds of fury emanating from the kitchen. The windows rattled in sympathy as the machine seemingly sprayed, shook and blasted its way through the 'regular wash' cycle. "Jeez, I thought that they were supposed to be gentle on your dishes," I remarked, giving up on my sandwich and venturing into the kitchen for a look.

There were some foam and bubbles oozing out of the bottom but what did I know - that also happened when Mum put on a load of washing and the drain in the laundry floor vomited the froth back up. Tentatively, I placed my hands on the counter directly above the machine, noting that the volume had now moved beyond eleven. The formica felt hot, but hey, what did I know - dishes had to be cleaned in hot water didn't they?

My head was starting to throb from the noise, so I grabbed three bottles of cider and backed out of the room into our living area. No respite there, seeing as it was all open plan. "HEY JO," I mimed, "CAN YOU CHECK IT? IS IT WORKING OK?" She bravely skulled her bottle and did a rather good impression of a muscle-man swinging his arms in determination. Good old Jo would know what to do.

All of a sudden, the noise stopped. "Thank Packets of Panadol for that," Fi sighed. "At least now we'll be able to put on the telly and...."

She spoke too soon. Our few seconds of peace was merely the eye of the sudsy storm. It was decided that we three needed to escape the din and instead walk around the corner to the pub for a while. Several hours later we came home, full of spirits that produced a lot of good cheer. Had the dishwasher finally finished? Was the kitchen still intact? Yes it was.

Jo carefully opened the poo brown door of the dishwasher. Sediment from the detergent was still smeared down the walls and all over the glasses giving them a Christmas-in-July look. The crockery on the other hand resembled a basket of shattered easter eggs that sat mournfully in a puddle under the sprayer. "Stupid bloody thing," I muttered, giving the door a kick. Ooops - this last movement caused the three jam jars we used as drinking glasses to topple over and crack. "Er sorry Jo, I'll get you another couple...."

It was enough to put me off dishwashers for the next eighteen years until we bought our very first one in Adelaide. Dear sweet stainless steel box, I hope your new owners appreciate your skills and the added twist you’d incorporate, just to keep me on my toes. The Salvador Dali-inspired condition of the Tupperware lids even when placed on the top shelf; the wine glass with a perfect coriander leaf burned into the side despite not having used that herb for the past week and the angry rattle of pipes that caused Milly to start and fart in surprise as you hissed through the final drying stages.

Three years later, in 2009, I looked at brand-spanking new Borry's instruction manual – thicker than an IKEA catalogue - and left it where it was on the counter, figuring that a few well-placed button selections would see me right. After a busy day of eating (for Borry boy, you understand) our first load was ready. Love Chunks popped in a fudge-sized speckly blue block and I shut the door. We agreed to select the 'economy cycle' with the mysterious option of ‘hygiene’ (we like to live on the edge) and went to bed.

The morning dawned warm, balmy and bright with hope. Beautiful Borry's door was opened to reveal a gleaming top and bottom drawer full of clean, streak-free and intact dishes. Perfect plates, gorgeous glasses, nifty knives and terrific tupperware.

Blinking back tears - either from emotion or from sticking my head too far inside and bashing it against the stainless steel roof - I closed the door, leaving all of the magnificent dishware inside. I quickly looked to my left to make sure that Love Chunks and Sapphire weren't about to enter the room, and I gave Borry’s door a kiss of gratitude.

Reality then set in - I really needed a coffee, the dog was nudging my legs for breakfast and Sapphire needed her lunchbox cleaned and packed for school. What a bugger - I'd have to unpack the dishwasher.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


Love Chunks celebrated his birthday last Friday and on that very same day lost his wedding ring and gained five stitches in his forehead.

Coincidence? Add a comment (or email me, all you lurkers who are scared of logging on) with your views....

When talking about what to get her 67 year old mother for her birthday, my mate Jill said, "A Black Pecker voucher" instead of the far-more safe, Black Pepper; a clothing store for the recently-retired who wish to wear t-shirts with sewn-in shoulder pads and roomy tracksuit trousers.

Wishful thinking?

I had my pen(s - always at least three in case I run out), notebook, camera and lipgloss in the backpack; hair stylishly blowdried and an assuredly professional outfit on. I'd done my research, looked the part and was ready to go. Until I spied a molehill-sized pyramid of dog vomit by the fridge door and a pungently sloppy pile of doggy diarrhoea by a dining chair.

Do I leave it for later, or clean it up now, hoping - but not actually checking - that my necklace doesn't accidentally graze the floor?

After roughly twenty years of saying, "They're crap, no-one really sees them, they just pretend to," I finally see what's hidden in a Magic Eye picture; one that's printed in a grainy Sunday newspaper comics section. My father then finds all of his Magic Eye BOOKS (count: seven) and we spend a Friday and Saturday night in matching Jason recliners holding books at arms length in front of our increasingly bloodshot eyes, unconsciously affecting stoner voices as we say stuff like, "Oh hey man, did you see the donut on fire in this one? Coooool..."

Can I use this as a dinner party anecdote or keep it to myself?

Bernadette is sick with an infected throat - the dreaded curse of a radio host - and I'm speaking to her replacement, Babs, to whom I'm introduced live on air. Her first question to me is, "So Kath, you farted out loud during a yoga class. Why don't you tell us all about it?"

What would a mature person, seeking to establish a respected and rewarding new career with more fulfilling lifestyle choices do?

Sapphire and I are sitting outside in the cold sunshine, cuddling Skipper the rabbit, drinking cups of green tea and nibbling squares of chocolate (Cadbury Bubbly, if you must know; the dark stuff is for after dinner). The phone rings, and I dash inside to answer it. The voice on the other end doesn't wait for that cautious "Hello...?" that most of us rely on, but launches straight into singing 'Happy Birthday', ending up with a grandiose 'Happy Birthday Dear Carol....Happy Birthday to yooooooou...."

Is laughing so hard that a drop of wee emerges before saying "Sorry mate, I'm not Carol" the wise option to avoid heaping shame and embarrassment upon the well-wisher?

Sapphire's had a bad day at school. Nothing earth shattering, but full of the annoyances and disappointments that can knock a kid down for a few hours. She grips my hand tight on the way home (a sign, these days, that she needs some maternal comforting) and her big, beautiful blue eyes fill up with tears as we unlock the front door to our house. She needs a hug, someone to listen to, a rabbit to pat and some fun. Before all that of course, is the urgent ablutions (like me, she's not keen on using the toilets at school). As she's washing her hands and it's my turn (we only have one toilet; it's in the bathroom, so all modesty is gone now), I want to say something to make her smile.

Surely, the classic "Don't you just hate it when you do a poo and water comes up to splash your butt cheeks?" is widely considered an appropriate opener?

Perhaps I shouldn't have acted so huffy yesterday when Sapphire said, "You're so much weirder than my friends' mums you know." After all, I was singing "Let's go to the shops" to the tune of 'At the Hop' by Danny and the Juniors.......

Monday, October 05, 2009


Have you ever been to a Kinder Gym themed party? They're mostly held in gymnasiums in the rainier colder months and contain all sorts of fun things like Tarzan ropes, huge Olympic-sized trampolines, rolling mats, rings and - best of all by far - the Pits of Foam.

Pits of Foam, are, well, pits in the ground filled up with foam I guess. One Kinder Gym near us has a 10 feet deep pit in the floor, roughly two adult trampolines long that is entirely filled with foam and sponge squares. It can entered in one of two ways - by running along like a lunatic until you go "Sprooiiiiinnnnngggg!" off the mini tramp into the pit; or by flinging yourself in free-style at the other end.

Me, I prefer free-style so that I don't smother any little kid who inadvertently gets in my way. You see that's the joy of these Kinder Gym places: parents are allowed to play too. I defy any grown-up to say that they still feel stressed, angry, anxious or nervous after hurling their bodies about during their child's Kinder Gym party.

Admittedly, it does take a bit of bravery to do it. When the other Mums are clad in their Yummy Mummy designer duds and you turn up in your tracksuit pants and a sportsbra, you are already saying loud and clear that you're up for a bit of immature action......

I thought it was best to start slowly on something that's not attention grabbing, like a short go on the tarzan ropes. Feeling every single muscle under each of my arms snap away from the tendons like guy ropes on a tent is a subtle reminder that I'm no longer as supple as I was in those halcyon playground days of the 70s.

Still, I'm out there now, and there's no going back to the pursed lip crowd of the watching Yummy Mummies. It's over to the big trampoline. And what a flattering sporting device this is! Unlike my child's trampoline that has "NO-ONE OVER 90KG ALLOWED" stamped all over it - and my husband reminding you that my cuddly 68kg would translate to far more than 90kg when the physics of gravity and increased pressure caused by jumping are factored in - this trampoline is bloody HUGE. Three Laurie Oakes' could jump on this and only be in danger of snagging one of their toenails in the netting. It's like swimming through air and boy, don't the children look small from up here? The only negative is that the last time I jumped on a trampoline (circa 1979) I didn't have breasts. Now they're threating to burst out from their underwire and spandex and blacken both eyes. Of the kid on the trampoline next to me.

Sadly, it's time to get off and let someone under the age of 40 have a turn and allow my now-throbbing hooters a chance to stop bouncing. Also because the Yummy Mummies are yelling at me to "Get the hell off and the kids a go!" All righty then, it's time for the PIT OF FOAM! In a lengthy run-up second only in athletic grace to that of a high-jumper, I go for the freestyle end. A triple pike, double lutz, back crackin', side splittin' dive later, my face is wedged up against the side and my back is being used as a landing pad for three foolhardy six year olds. Why is it that kids don't think that adults feel pain? I'd like to be able to voice that question out aloud, but by now my face has slid down the wall and I'm breathing in the crumbly bits of foam that gather at the bottom.

As for my bottom, it's sticking out of the foamy flotsam like a resurfacing whale and through the foamy spongey crumble-haze I am vaguely aware of another little midget landing on it after their leap off the mini trampoline end. Channelling Dory from 'Finding Nemo', I find myself singing 'Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming swimming......' as I ineffectually flop around to flip myself upright. Five minutes later, my panicked red face bursts triumphantly through the surface of the foam cubes.

Each attempt to clamber out of the pit itself seems to result in sinking further to the bottom in an increasing cycle of exhaustion and foam crumb inhalation. Somehow I have success after hoiking my right leg up and out of the pit and dragging the rest of me behind. It would have looked rather dignified and deft if I hadn't have accidentally strained a hammie and popped off a stinker at the same time. Luckily, no-one heard or noticed my efforts except for a three year old sibling, who stared at me, stared at the booger on her finger and stared at me some more.

It is now that I curse wearing baggy trakkie daks with a generously elasticated waistband. A supervisory father kindly offers to grab my arms to haul me out. My arms and my torso are now being heaved safely out of the satanic pit, but my tracksuit pants have stuck to the god-awful cubes like obsessive velcro. As I slowly emerge, it is with increasing horror that I feel my daks slowly pulling themselves down.

Do I yell out "STOP! Let me drop! You go on ahead and leave me here" to the helpful father or be more grateful to escape than ashamed at showing off my arse to a packed gymnasium?

Like a footy player caught with his shorts pulled down during a running tackle, I have no choice. It's the arse and then freedom. It is with an increasingly mature attitude that I realise the truth - I've got to keep going, finish the task and then pull up my pants with confidence. Pity about the Yummy Mummy choking on her takeaway latte though.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Down-facing Dog

In an attempt to hopefully learn how to stretch some muscles I didn't yet know the existence of, I went to a beginner yoga class.

I eagerly turned up to the local YMCA dressed in my daggy but comfy running gear. Being a crisp spring evening, it was with dismay that I entered the gymnasium to find that the class was being held on a vacant squash court. It was freezing enough to have the hairs on my legs rise up and painfully velcro themselves against my lycra leggings, but the teacher had put out a lot of fluffy grey blankets and urged me to find a mat, grab and blanket and lie in the, er, 'dead' pose I think it was.

In the background a CD was featuring some panpipes near a running stream. The gushing water sound effects reminded me of my eternal search. In any new location I always try and scope out just where the toilets are located. Many's the trip I've spent saying, "I'll just see where the loos are; might as well go now because I don't know when I'll find some again," as though public conveniences are a rare species of orchid never to be seen again.
All too soon the purposeful jingle of Zora's gold bracelets indicated that it was time to show us beginners what this yoga stuff was all about.

Zora was around fiftysomething but one who'd fashioned herself on a hybrid of Kate Bush and Olivia Newton-John in her 'Physical' phase. She was wearing a lycra bodysuit of black and silver, covered with a loosely black crocheted wrap-around vest and a matching silver headband that barely reigned in her dyed black rock star hair. She wore enough face paint to make a cosmetics counter chick jealous and her long, wrinkled ear lobes were clearly protesting at having to support some turquoise chandeliers. Her legs were encased in tights but tell-tale bobbled lumps below her knees clearly indicated that she had more varicose veins than a senior bowls final.

"Welcome to beginners yoga class, ladies. And congratulations for venturing into an area where, if you keep an open mind and heart, you will learn some spiritual and physical practices aimed at helping your mind, body and spirit achieve a state of enlightenment, or as we like to call it, a total 'oneness' with the universe----"
What the hell was that?

"......Don't worry ladies, it's just some gentlemen playing squash on the next court. Now, if I can get your attention back to me? Lovely, thanks. Throughout our journey, we will mostly be focussing on doing Hatha Yoga in this class. That is, we'll be taking the physical path using our body through Asana and Pranayama to control your mind and senses. It's more than stretching, ladies. It will open your energy channels, chakras and the psychic centre of your body."

Wow, that doesn't sound too bad for eight bucks fifty, I thought, especially if I also get to learn how to properly stretch my hammies and achilles and -----

Zora raised her hand, acknowledging the challenge of running her yoga lesson against the continuing squash match. "Ladies? Ladies, we'll be working on Prayama, which are breathing exercises that will help you keep things slow and steady and also enable you to let go of any thoughts that are distracting or stressful-----"
"..........which will all lead you on your own personal purification process."

Well, I just hoped that she would be able help me personally purify myself by stifling the need to do a wee as soon as practicable, thanks to that panpipin' water music. Thankfully, the first move, 'Table Posture' was a doddle. Think of it as being on all fours, with a flat back as is required when your daughter wants a horsey ride around the coffee table.
"Well done ladies, are you feeling-----"
Bloody hell Dennis, what a great shot, mate!
"......all calm and relaxed and ready to try some more?"

Yes, sort of, if only my head wasn't starting to throb from the unpredictable squash sounds. We all concentrated on doing the Dog Tilt; staying on all fours with bums down and faces looking up at the ceiling. It was a nice stretch and pretty darn easy. Next door though, Dennis's luck had changed:
Stupid F*%$ing ball!
Tough luck there Dennis!

Zora's face was frozen into a grim yet determined smile as we went on to Cat Pose. Our heads collectively dropped down, butts were pulled in and backs were arched. Mmmm, that one also felt nice. This yoga stuff is easy, I thought smugly, temporarily forgetting my full bladder and my aching head.

"It's time for a real classic, ladies: Downward Facing Dog-----"
Not bad Dennis, especially after your knee surgery!
Zora demonstrated the pose for us and looked for all the world as though she was just asking for Dennis the struggling squash player to come running up behind and give her a swift boot up the bum. Still it looked pretty easy to me as I prepared to get myself into the pose. How wrong I was. My calves were screaming in agony and my arms and shoulders were shaking at the sheer effort of supporting my ever-increasing bladder and big fat head.
Dennis - keep your eye on the ball mate! Like this, see?

"......Ladies, back to me please! You're all doing so marvellously well! Are we ready for a prayer squat?"

Sure, especially if I can sit down and massage my temples. It was just a big squat with feet flat on the ground and hands pressed together in front of our chests and not something that Dennis and his ball-bashing buddy were going to spoil for us, was it?
I all-too-hastily jumped down into position - "Paarrrrp!! parp parp! parp!"
Oh my god, I just farted out loud. In a yoga class, out in public, full of complete strangers. Did anyone hear?
Yes, they did, as all a dozen pair of eyes, which should have been focussing on their own belly buttons, were now focussed on me. Where was Dennis's next squash shot when you needed it?
"Er, pardon me folks, it must have been something I ate, heh heh heh...." I lowered my reddened face in shame whilst absently noting that it could be hidden in the downward facing dog pose.

"Well done ladies, it's time for the Gate Pose. Now put your left arm up the ceiling, like this, and put your right hand on your right leg and lean right over----"
Paarrrrp!! parp parp! parp!
"Whoops, me again, sorry about that - I'll move to the back of the class."
Thanks for nothing Dennis, you were about ten seconds too late to hide my own contribution to
anti-yoga noise pollution.

"Low Lunge time, ladies! For those of you who haven't tried this one before, it's like-----"
Paarrrrp!! parp parp! parp!
"Sorry Zora, I'm sure it's nothing like that, you just show the rest of the them and I'll pick it up as I go along." All heads turned and ignored my weak smile before swivelling back to Zora whose mouth had turned into a cat's arse of disapproval.
Dennis, calm down mate, it's just a friendly game, OK?
Dennis, come back mate, it was only a joke!
Dennis, where are you going?

Sadly, no-one said that to me as I sidled out of class and nipped quickly into the Ladies, never to return......