Tuesday, April 24, 2012

1984 and 2012

Kath’s mother Pauline circa 1984: 
“So what is it you’re saving your babysitting money up for, again?”

Kath (patiently)
“To buy a ghetto blaster.”

“That’s a tape player, right?”

Kath (taking a deep breath).
“Yes. But it needs to have detachable speakers so that I can really enjoy the full on sound and must have a double tape deck so that I can tape tapes.”

“To tape tapes?”

Kath (sighing)
“Yes. Not like how you did it in 1979 by putting your reading-for-the-blind cassette machine flat on the carpet next to the radio gram – in glorious mono – and then pressing down the play and record buttons.”

Pauline (bristling slightly)
“Well, we all managed to hear Neil Diamond and Roger Whittaker clearly enough on our Queensland holiday and you used to sing the entire Sesame Street cassette tape soundtrack word for word....”

Kath (interrupting)
“True Mum, sorry about that. What I meant was that I really love listening to music but Robert has other tapes that I’d like to tape and I just realised that the public library has heaps of cassettes that we can borrow and copy and----“

Pauline (interrupting)
“----Cassettes are tapes, aren't they, not records?”

“NO, not records, Mum – records are so out of it, they scratch and they’re really big and you can’t put them in a walkman, can you?  Tapes are IN, Mum and they're here to stay.”

“Oh. So when are you going to buy your (pauses to align fingers into the newly-learned quotation mark gesture) ‘ghetto blaster’?”

"Grandpa’s going to get it for me."


"He and Nanna are off to Seoul next month and he said if I wrote down all the specifications, he’d take it into the Duty Free and get me one. I trust him.”

And I did.

AND he bought me back a gold Sanyo ghetto blaster with double tape-to-tape dubbing with variable speeds, detachable speakers, bass and treble knobs, FM tuner and – as an extra cool bonus – a graphic equalizer. I loved that beast! (and Grandpa too.)


“Mum, you know how my birthday is coming up really soon?”

“In around two months, you mean?”

“Er, yeah. Anyhow, I’d really like Spotify.”

“What’s that, a stain remover?”  (Put hands on hips to laugh at own joke).

“Oh Mum, you’re hilarious. No, it’s an online music system that’s better than i-tunes because you can listen to entire songs not just snippets, create playlists, send them to your friends who are on it and find everything ever. And my iPod has somehow gone weird and the only music left on it is Enya and Katy Perry for some reason and it goes flat if I take it out of the docking station for longer than five minutes.”

“Oh. Can’t you get Dad to put it on your iPad as one of those app thingies?”

“No, Mum, because we don’t live in Australia any more, everything defaults to Switzerland and denies us access to lots of really cool apps. It has to be set up as a new and separate paid account which will then mean I can use it on my iPad and not just sit at the desktop all the time as the only place I can listen to music.”

“Oh, OK. So you want this account for your birthday?”

Sapphire, brightening in relief that her meat-headed mother finally understands.
“Yes, Mum! It costs about the same as it does to get Dolly magazine every month but I’ll also be able to create an account for you and for Dad and recommend you songs and you’ll get to see what I’m listening to and you can ask me for playlists that I can set up on your treadmill by plugging in my iPad to the control panel and----“

Kath (overwhelmed with techno-talk).
“Fine, fine. Chat to Dad when he gets home.”

Later, on Sapphire’s facebook.

Kath, sticking her head into Sapphire's room.
"Er hey, grateful girl, I just read your status update.  Remember it was me that spoke to him about Spotify."

"Er no, Mum, au contraire, tu vache.  I could see that you had no idea so I showed him the site, we searched for the app together and he did the downloading and registration."


Sapphire, seeing her mother's transparently crestfallen face
"But Mum, there is something else I need..."

"Yes?  Those Hungry Games books?  No Direction album?  'I love blocks' Minecraft t-shirt?"

Sapphire thinks about mocking the glaringly obvious ignorance for a moment, but decides against it.
"No, but some headphones that are more than just foam circles and fly wire would be nice."

"Yeah, I could think about that. What sort are you talking about?"

"'Beats' ones by Dr Dre."

"NO WAY Jose. I know what they are. They cost three hundred francs and everyone walks around looking like they've got cheeseburgers on their ears!"

"But my friends have them and the sound quality is really, really good. Plus they eliminate all external sounds and you can select white or brown noise when flying and..."

"How about Sony ones, for one sixth of the price, and I'll give you my own version of brown noise for free?"

Sapphire pauses, torn between mocking her mother's naked uncoolness and bad sense of humour and considering the reality of getting some still-good headphones.

Eventually, she utters what Kath knew - deep in her muddled mother's heart - she was going to say.   

"I'll talk about it with Dad."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Three Generations of Facebook

Sapphire Lockett
YOLO = You only live once. Add this at the end of a sentence to make everything ok.
 E.g. "I murdered three people. Oh well, YOLO."
...see? It works.

Yasmine Renard
Yeah Yay You are so smart. YOLO 

I'll try it, Sapphire.

I went to Adelaide yesterday - in my pants. YOLO. How's that?

Sapphire Lockett
Its great Grandpa. Off to eat junk food. YOLO.

Sapphire Lockett 
And yes, I am aware of my error when I said "its".

Yasmine Renard
Oooooh..... bad brownie points for that one, Sapph.

Sapphire Lockett

Kath Lockett
In your pants!

Yasmine Renard
Now i'm hungry.

Sapphire Lockett
For pants?
..... Hey Mum here's a photo I of took of you

Kath Lockett
In your pants!

Sapphire Lockett
M-uuuuu-mmmmmm (eye roll)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Chocolate, chuckling and chatter

So there I was, coughing with my mouth open, hands not available to stop the germ-laden spittle from shooting out and splatting the window. 

The driver behind us saw my red wheezing face staring back at him with shock. Why on earth was this woman seated in the back of her car, hatchback flap open, simultaneously hugging and sitting on an enormous IKEA flatpack?

Because the car was too small, it was an uphill journey on the way home with a risk of the box sliding back towards Vernier and we had guests arriving, that’s why.

First up was Taka, father to our much-beloved but impossible-to-take rabbit Skipper. With the impressive – and many opportunities to mock – title of Manager of Emerging Technologies, he’d been sent to Paris and Sweden to hobnob with similarly-titled cyber smarties from other companies. A three hour second-class train trip was all it took for him to arrive, tired but typically Taka, late at night. 

The next morning it was a relief to hear that he found the bed very comfortable.

Being Good Friday and the first week of Sapphire’s school holidays, all of us were on hand to show him the sights of Geneva. A walk to the UN, a stroll around the lake and into the Old Town with a final, not-negotiable browse in some tacky gift shops. When you’re the father of two girls under the age of ten, bringing back a souvenir is mandatory. Luckily he had the hard-earned wisdom of Sapphire to help him select a soft St Bernard and cow (complete with pink udders) backpacks to cram into his suitcase.

You know you’re a hopeless whitey when it only takes half an hour of 13C weak spring sunshine to burn your nose and neck. The dog and me sat outside while the others climbed the St Pierre cathedral tower and my usual magnet for direction-seekers was still on fire. No less than three different couples asked me where the

1) oldest house in Geneva was;

2) the entrance to the Reformation Museum; and

3) which direction to the tram stop in Rive. 

I smugly report that I could help all of them. Shame that none of them warned me about my sizzling skin in return. 

No sooner had we farewelled Taka on Saturday morning than the sheets were whipped off the bed, bunged in the washing machine and draped over the dining table to dry in time for the arrival that afternoon of the Fraj Family. 

I’d worked with John-boy over twenty years ago in London as we tried our best, in a busy office filled with Aussies, Kiwis and Northerners in flat caps and broad accents to pull TSB bank out of their bad lending quagmire.  We even bungy-jumped together on a boozy winter weekend in Normandy, France, that resulted in AJ Hackett himself shortening the cord so that we didn't smash our heads into the frozen river below.

Several hours later, Sapph and I took the bus to the airport to greet the Fraj Four – John and Rebecca and their two daughters Francesca and Alexandra. As soon as we spotted them, we phoned Love Chunks who drove in our spunky but only-holds-five car to pick them up as Sapphire and I found the number ten bus to take us back home again.

Perhaps it’s a clichéd thing to say, but there are some friendships that you can pick up where you left off, even if, in our case, that was five years ago in Adelaide. The girls have grown and all the parents’ hair is greyer, but the jokes, reminiscences and effortless conversation hadn’t changed.

Dinner was fondue, whether they wanted it or not. They, like myself once, were polite but possibly not that enthralled by the idea of eating a badly-done memory from the 1970s when it was suggested to them – that is, until they tried it. Instant adoration ensued with every single drop of melted cheese disappearing quicker than the ears of an unwrapped Easter bunny. It must be the combination of the homeland, the right cheeses (Emmental and Gruyere) and the atmosphere of Geneva’s oldest restaurant (try 400 years) that wins everyone over. Even celebrities and diplomats eat there – old, mismatched plates and plain furniture but the right mixture of ingredients and location. Being attended to by the, frankly, gorgeous Remy the waiter who makes Brad Pitt look like a hog with halitosis was another plus.

The rest of the holiday is now a bit of a blur. A carbon-copy of Taka’s day in Geneva (but the weather far less warm and a lot wetter), a boat trip to Chateau Chillon and Montreux; Chateau Gruyeres, cheese on every meal on offer everywhere; the Cailler chocolate factory and a long meandering drive through lush green farmlets, tiny villages and the scenic background of the snow-capped Swiss alps always in view. Stoically suffering through the dreary cold and rain at Neuchatel and Yverdon but hopefully also actively imagining how lovely they’d look in the summer..... 

Then there was a train trip to Berne – chosen because it was a direct route and somewhere we hadn’t been before. It was truly worth it – a very historic city that has six kilometres of 15th C buildings with covered walkways and is famous for bears, Einstein (who lived there for two years when working as a patent clerk) and rather ornate fountains. 

Another day was spent ‘relaxing’ (code for ‘all the girls want to have a sleep in’) and shopping (‘the girls want to find chocolate to take home for their friends’). We were successful on both counts – I think the Frajs’ took home around 8kg of the Swiss stuff at the risk of blowing out their luggage limit as well as their waist bands.

Throughout the past fortnight my flu hung in there but I did my best to cough discreetly away from anyone else, honk quietly (well, for me, ‘quiet’ is less than a hundred decibels and not blasting a hole through the tissue) and generally ignore it which is why, after everyone’s left and the house is festooned with washing (the tops of the doors were wiped clean in order to drape damp bed sheets on them), it seems to have returned for another bout.

Still, a few quiet days of housework, blog writing, searching for quick and easy (and paid) writing gigs with Milly at my feet and eating some fresh-from-the-UK Creme eggs will sort all that out.

I miss ‘em already. The friends, not the Creme eggs!

Oh okay.... and the crème eggs.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Sometimes a Fuddy but always a Duddy

I hate auto-tuned, data-stick determined techno music. Not the radio-friendly boy-band pop stuff with a catchy melody (how OLD do I sound) that is perfect to run to, but the mindless, far-too-loud Doof Doof electronic excrement that some backwards cap-wearing
* Meat Head is playing at eyeball-aching volume from his car.

This vehicle is invariably over-accessorised indicating that it's the most expensive purchase of the Meat Head's life.

If he owned a business or a home, they'd be where his extra cash would go, not on mud flaps with nude ladies silhouetted in white; an extra brake light where his actual back window should be or a 'spoiler' to convince us that his second hand sedan is actually race track-worthy.

And yet, when the Meat Head is idling at the traffic lights jerking his neck forward-and-back, forward-and-back pigeon-style to his over-sized sound system and Milly and I are walking past on the footpath, my steps automatically alter so that they become perfectly in sync with the Doof Doof beat.

For that tiny split second before shame sets in, I'm briefly impressed that yes, for a white honky I do have some sense of natural rhythm. If only it would reveal itself at weddings and parties - witnessed by people that I like and respect, if not love - and not out in the street holding a still-warm poo bag looking for a rubbish bin.

Even if I actively try to step out of rhythm, the end result is an overly self-consciously wonky walk that appears as though I've forgotten all the skills needed to move forwards without what appears to be a series of small electric shocks and an arse wrestling my hips for solo status. And if the achievement means that I am no longer at one with the Meat Head's music it's at the expense of my personal dignity. Looking like I've just peed my pants and had my knee caps screwed on backwards whilst still grappling a plastic poop sack is indeed the slimmest of moral victories.

It is therefore easiest, at forty three - even if the sound of the hell song that's emanating from the car and rattling the gutter grate causes bile to flood the back of my throat and agonising shudders across my shoulders - to walk to his beat.

Doesn't help that Milly wags her tail in time, too.

* or, of late, sideways-wearing, over-sized American trucker-style of cap. Hilariously out of place on a chinless Aussie bogan or snake hipped Genevoise goober.