Wednesday, April 25, 2007

And the band murdered Waltzing Matilda

I feel gypped. I may have no right to feel gypped, but I do. And while to err may well be human, to whinge about the cock-ups is even more bloody human.

I walked to my local Anzac Day dawn service this morning. The sun rose in a chill, grey sky, showing about 500 people standing around a clock crowned with a stone angel. It started to drizzle as we waited. Twenty-five minutes late, a piper struck up a lament, leading in the marchers from the nearby RSL Club. Between the piper and the old soldiers were the members of the historical re-enactment regiment. For some reason, they wear what appear to be 19th century British Army uniforms that come complete with natty little white helmets and navy jackets and a captain with an Amish-style moustacheless beard. At least they did better this year in the marching stakes, because they all managed to turn the same way at the same time.

The young man with the crew cut who was leading the service could have been a Salvation Army officer or a military chaplain, but he didn't introduce himself, so I haven't a clue. He invited everyone to look at their programs and sing "the first hymn" while Kylie struck up a tune on the Hammond Home Organ. Sadly, all we could hear was the chaplain's reedy tenor because someone had neglected to hand out said programs.

Next the piper had a go at Black Bear, which everyone knows is useless without drums. He hit enough bum notes to put my teeth on edge. Kylie had a crack at Abide With Me, which luckily most people did seem to know without the aid of the apocryphal cheat sheets.

The wreaths were laid, the Lord's Prayer was muttered and the national anthem (first verse only) was droned. The historical fellows fired off a 21-gun salute that startled half the audience and all of the dogs and sent every pigeon within cooee into the air.

But the worst was yet to come.

The Last Post.

One of the historical blokes stepped away from his fellows and took out his bugle and I realised with a sinking heart that it was the same guy who had "played" last year. I hoped he had spent every waking hour practicing and was about to do himself and his country proud.

But no. He still sounded like a retarded four-year-old blowing through a crushed toilet roll.

If anything, it was even worse than last year. At the moment when I should have been solemnly contemplating the fallen, the Anzac spirit, mateship and the futility of war, I found myself biting my lips and trying not to laugh aloud. I think I may have cracked a rib with the effort.

When the service drew to a merciful close, about half the people clapped, which I thought was rather inappropriate. Do you clap at a funeral? But perhaps it was an indication of what people really think of Anzac Day now - that it's a way of being wrapped in the flag and entertained while feeling virtuous for getting up early. Or perhaps they were just relieved to be getting away from the disgraceful bugler, the off-key piper and Kylie and her organ.

I stomped home along the seafront, feeling cheated of my moment of solemnity and thinking that I might as well have stayed in bed. I kept pace with an Air Force officer striding down the other side of the road and vowed to choose another service next year. I wouldn't have minded anything else, but there is no excuse for slaughtering The Last Post.

But at least my attendance at the dawn service was carbon neutral. Self-satisfied eco-halo for me. Well, it was until I got home and fired up the toaster. Apparently you can have carbon neutral weddings, carbon neutral festivals and carbon neutral presidential campaigns these days, but no-one seems to have any hints on making carbon neutral toast and Vegemite.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Why some people shouldn't be let out alone #893

(Bring, bring)

Red: Good morning, Cheese Shop.

Caller: Oh, hello. I'm looking for a phone number for Fred Nerk.

Red: I'll see if we have it.
(Looks in contacts list.)
No, sorry, I don't have his number.

Caller: Oh, I suppose I could just look in the phone book.

Red: Yes, he might be in the phone book.

(Hangs up very, very gently, so as not to startle the stupid bugs and make them jump down the phone.)


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Oh, bugger.

On Sunday morning, I hauled my sorry arse out of bed. The house looked like ground zero would have looked had it had wine bottles and the entire contents of a kitchen scattered over it. There were people asleep on the couch and in my study, leftover from Saturday night's dinner party.

I wandered out onto the back verandah to start collecting beer bottles, wine glasses and the chess set that the boys had abandoned at dawn, only to find a stunned dove sitting on the buffalo grass. It had one wing stuck out at an angle; its neck feathers were damp and Mr Furpants was prowling nearby. I scolded him and picked up the dove.

"Bad kitty!"


"No, bad kitty!" (smack)


"No! Bad! Kitty!" (Smack!)

Eventually, I stood on a chair to put the dove up in the fretwork of the verandah, so it would be out of reach of Mr F's claws. I should admit that I have tried this in the past and it hasn't worked, but I was mildly hungover and really didn't have the strength to dispatch the poor thing. Yes, I knew that it had been mauled. Yes, I knew that it was probably in shock and/or would die of cat bite bugs. But it wasn't dead yet, so I put it out of kittyreach, hoping that it would gather its feathers and fly away.

I peered out the back door a few minutes later and saw Mr F standing on his hind legs on the arm of a chair, swiping at the dove four feet above. I'm not sure the dove even noticed. As I watched, it began to wobble on its perch and as the door slammed behind me, it rolled forwards, flapping drunkenly.

And instead of landing harmlessly on its back on the grass, it broke its neck on the edge of pavers.

Cheerful, yeah? Remind me to tell you about the time I visited the morgue.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Public MySpace skills for bed and breakfast team bitches

Ah, WEA, how I heart you.

I suspect that WEA stands for Workers' Education Association or something similar and that it was all very socialist and radical in the day. It was born shortly after my grandmothers and I really wish I knew what sort of courses were taught in the ninteen-teens, because I bet they were a collective cracker.

I have no beef with the WEA. After all, that's where I learned how to write HTML, lay tiles, take photographs and paint watercolours. I'm still pretty crap at watercolour (probably because I have very little artistic talent), but I'm vaguely competent at the other stuff.

But the current course guide is just gold, gold, gold, Jerry.

The cover is great all on its own. There's a balding man clutching his forehead in artistic agony while drawing licorice all-sorts with some lovely bright coloured pencils. Of all the lollies out there, I would have thought that licorice all-sorts would have been one of the easiest. Square. Layered. Black, white, pink, green, orange, yellow. Not brain surgery, you know? But then you look closely and realise that he's using jelly beans as a model and you realise that this is one cool and funky cat! "God damn you and your capitalist jelly beans! You throw me curves, I see angles. I'm just that kind of guy..."

"So, what sort of courses do we have inside?" I thought you'd never ask, darlings!

Public speaking in a day
Take it from me: this will not work. I did a public service course like this and the sole techniques were (a) recording your voice and making you realise how crap you sound on tape and (b) making you talk for four minutes in front of an audience about Something. Apart from the odd drunken tirade against a Random Sci-Fi Wanker who thinks that Australian writing isn't worth a pinch of poop, I can't talk about any one topic for four minutes. Fail. (But Random Sci-Fi Wanker, if you're reading this, you know who you are and the next time we meet it will be tumbleweeds at 40 paces. ~red gives a squinty look and strokes her six-shooter meancingly~)

Languages for fun and travel
Italian, French, Spanish, German, Greek, Korean... I don't see Esperanzo on this list. I think that would be immensely useful. My language skills extend to, "Ooh, you are a big hunk!" and "I would like a ham sandwich, please" in French and (my special party trick), "I don't speak Russian" in Russian. Oh and "with a bath, please" in Spanish, "very hungover" in Afrikaans and "welcome", "exit", "milk", "taxi rank" and "fat chicken" in Bahasa Malaysia. I'm comospolitan, me.

Learn to burn a CD
Read CD burning software manual, then select, drag and drop. Hang about, you people want $69 for that?

Internet safety and awareness for seniors
For people who watch so much damned Today Tonight and A Current Affair, you really wouldn't think that they wouldn't go off the rails just because they received an email that said, "You've won the gazillion pound lottery! No, you didn't need to buy a ticket! What were you thinking?" My mum keeps telling me about TT and ACA stories and I keep saying, "Mum. Mum? Mum!!! There's a reason why I don't watch "current affairs" TV. It's because it's bollocks and I don't want to know." TT and ACA are all about the four Fs: Fat, Fraud, Freaks and Failures. And you know what? I don't need any of that shit bringing me down.

"Heard about MySpace and want to know what it is?" I can help there: tits, bullying, bollocks, emos and being pathologically egocentric. If you have to ask what MySpaz is, you can live a full and meanintful life without it. In fact, go browse through your toilet paper cupboard. It will be a better use of your time.

Importing for Small Business
Oh, I geddit. This is all about how to bring in drugs and endangered birds' eggs, yeah? Cheeky!

Starting Up a Bed and Breakfast
There isn't actually a lot to this. Really. All you have to have is a house in a cool location, a granny flat and a talent for cooking a good breakfast. Bloke and I had a rather bad B&B experience when we were Courting. We decided to go to Aldinga for A Weekend. (For non-Oddelaideans, Aldinga is a rather pretty southern beach. Cliffs and dunes, stones rather than sand and seagrass, plus a bit of surf to look at - pretty.) But the owners. Oh, holy hell. For all potential B&B owners, here's what NOT to do:
  • Do not start a B&B in your retirement "for company". If you are boring, no-one wants to talk to you, least of all paying guests.
  • Do not address any couple of 20-ish as "Mr and Mrs". It's just embarrassing for all concerend.
  • Do not pound on the bedroom door of said 20-something guests - and keep on banging even though they are clearly Ignoring You For A Reason - to say that you are "just popping into town". No-one cares.
  • Do not appear in the common lounge room right outside your guests' bedroom and sit there for an entire rainy afternoon, watching TV.
  • When said guests finally give up on indoor sports and emerge from said room, do not talk non-stop, as though you could keep going underwater with a mouthful of marbles.
  • If your guests say they don't like grilled grapefruit, it is not your place to make them try it. Grilled grapefruit tastes like arse.

Selling Your Own Home
Oh Ford! Why would you do this? Selling your own home would make you a defacto real estate agent and no-one likes those twats. I was walking down a hall the other day behind a real estate agent and it made me think of a great name for a band: Harry Highpants and his Cuban Heels.

Introduction to Candlestick Charting
Apparently you can apply this ancient wisdom to buying shares. Hang about, why didn't you say so? Sign me up!

Defuse Conflict and Motivate
Meh, why waste your time? Buy a gun instead. An AK-47 is the ultimate conflict defusor and motivator, especially when loaded with hollow-points.

Creative writing
Call me a miserable old cynic, but I really belive that if you can't write already, no bloody course can help you. Did anyone teach Dickens or the Brontes or Mark Twain? I suspect that someone did try to teach James Joyce, and that's why he bites so badly.

Writing Your Life Story
Read my lips. No-one cares. Sorry. If it was really interesting, Harry M. Miller would already have been knocking on your door.

Being Your Best
See Writing Your Life Story. It's rather like that old addage, "McDonald's Employee of the Month - how to be a winner and a loser at the same time".

Attract Your Ideal Parner
Well, for a start, you sit down and write out 80 essential things that you're looking for in a partner. Take no notice of your own shortcomings as you do this. It doesn't mater if you're fat, ugly, braindead, enjoy collecting used soap or love listening to John Farnham. You can still get Clive Owen or Angelina Jolie if you just believe you can. Come on, now - let's all sit down and have a believefest!

Repetitive Patterns
"Have you ever wondered why it seems like you end up in a relationship with the same kind of partner over and over again? Or with a boss who treats you in a certain way no matter how many times you change jobs?" Obviously this means nothing is your fault, whether it's your shitty attitude to work or your passive aggressiveness. Screw everyone else - take no responsibility for your own rampant stupidity.

Self Defence for Women
Now that's more like. I read a story in The Aus or The Fin Review the other day about a NY Times food critic who was "nuts-kicker in chief". This course sounds like the way to get to that ideal job.

The Goddess Returns
The Goddess. Of course. Look, I've danced with pagans on the beach at the full moon and I've listened to spiritualists bang on about having conversations with their dead uncles. It was all in the name of continued employment, of course, but communing with Morgan La Faye about life rhythms or Shakta about energy doesn't seem like the best use of my evenings. I could be sitting in a corner drooling.

Past Lives
Do you know, I always thought I was Nefertiti in a past life and now's the chance to prove it, once and for all. One question, though: why is it that no-one was ever a scullery maid who was spat on by a leper and then run over by the nightman's cart at the age of 13?

Party Hair
Does that use Something About Mary gel? Or perhaps Technicolour Yawn spray? I'm not sure I want party hair...

Make-up Made Easy - For Women
They had to add that little rider because Boy George was banging on the door 24/7, wanting to take the course. What about I save you $59 and six hours of your life? Don't draw a skinny black line on your top lid. It WILL make you look like a brothel-owner. And lip-liner that's darker than your lipstick? Don't go there either unless you want to look like a shim.

Scandinavian Handcrafted Felt-making
Yes! At last! I have been wanting that totally unique BoHo handbag or piece of jewellery. And I had been dreaming about felt. That, and setting fire to my own hair.

Montage Mania
Alliteration! Collage! Surrealism! Cubism! Oh my God, it's got it all!

Warming Winter Salads
That would be an oxymoron. Even if a salad has gravy on it, it's not going to be warming. It's just going to be sick-making.

Caring for Native Wildlife
What are you going to do if you find a poor, frightened little bogan lying on the side of the road? He's just out of the pouch and you can't just leave him there. You're going to have to take him home and put him in a beanbag in front of the footy. Do know exactly how much Farmers' Union Iced Coffee he needs a day? What about meat pies and West End Draught? And do you know how many wife-beaters and pairs of footy shorts he should be wearing to keep from getting builders'-crack rot? Remember, the bogan is an endangered species and you have to do your bit to keep the little guys from becoming extinct.

Blind-Making Made Easy
Step one: Make a pointy forky thing with your first and second fingers.
Step two: Poke someone in the eyes.

Beaded Flower Fairies
I couldn't tell you how many times I've woken up in the middle of the night, screaming, "Noooo! We don't have enough beaded flower fairies in the house!" Thank Ford, my needs can now be given a good seeing to.

Twelve Steps to Permanent Weight Loss
One: Eat less.
Two: Exercise.
Three: Repeat four times.

Introduction to Massage
You know as well as I do that this course will have 12 students: 11 boho sort of chicks (five of whom have some idea of being professional "masseuses" down at Stormy's) and one Dirty Old Man in a sweat-stained bodyshirt. Euww. No-one wants to partner that DOM.

Foot Reflexology
No bastard is touching my feet and I'm not touching any other bastard's feet. Full stop. Feet are revolting and they usually smell.

Natural Birth and Water Birth
No, no and bloody no! It doesn't mention any recipes for pasta with placenta and mushroom sauce, but it really wouldn't surprise me if there was a little cookbook included in the course cost.

Run the City-Bay
Oh, for fuck's sake. Only head-cases and actual athletes do the long-distance running thing. I used to work with a chick who was into triathlon and that was bad enough. Do you know that if triathletes are riding around on their bicycles and they feel The Need, they just, er, let it all go? Right there on the bicycle seat? Of course, the moral of this story is that you should never ask to borrow a triathlete's bicycle, even if you're wearing a space suit.

Simple Car Maintenance
Do you own an FJ Holden? No? Then there's no such thing as simple car maintenance anymore. Just get a little man to do it.

The Knights Templar
Isn't that just another word for Freemasons? No-one likes either of them and there's all those grotty associations with bones and aprons and secret handshakes.

Beyond the Wall: Discover West Terrace Cemetery
For non-Oddelaideans, West Terrace is a reasonably old cemetery. Not old in a European way, but old for a city that was only settled in 1836. There are all sorts of minor celebrities buried there, like the person who wrote Song of Australia. (Song of what?) I've only been to West Tce once; one of my uni lecturers was sort of Necroboy and kept dragging us around graveyards. The day he took us to West Tce, there was a thunder storm and we all ended up cowering under Moreton Bay fig trees, trying to keep dry and not get hit by fork lightening. Oh, and someone fell in a grave, but you expect that on history field trips.

Researching Your Scottish Ancestors
Don't have any. What about researching your pscyhotic ancestors? I'm fairly sure I've got some of those.

Spies, Spooks and Secret Service
Shh! Shh! There are people who've implanted microphones behind my kneecaps and they're listening right now! Ssshhh!!

Growing Garlic (online course)
You buy a head of garlic, you break it into cloves and you plant it. And then, after it's flowered, you dig it up and make pasta sauce. There. Just saved yourself $19 to download something from the internet that you may or may not have ever read.

Nightclub Dancing
Do you mean to say that there's more to nightclubbing than standing in a circle with your galpals and shuffle-dancing around a pile of handbags? What about when you've had enough glasses of champers and you become the sexiest goddess in the known universe by vogueing and striking Dance of the Seven Veils poses? Oh, surely not.

Balloon Animals
For pedophiles. Pedophiles who like to dress as clowns. (Clowns are scary.)

Living With Antiques - Furniture
Handy hint one: Don't wee on the couch.
Handy hint two: don't juggle with 18th century glass.
Handy hint three: Antique folding tables aren't ideal for extra seating.

Basic Blues Harmonica
Take this course or don't take it: I don't give a rat's arse. But if you do take it, just remember that playing a harmonica at 3am on my back verandah when I'm trying to sleep will get you smacked upside the head. I don't care how good you are. You could be Bob fucking Dylan and I'd still get up and bitch-slap you.

All in all, though, I must say that I'm disappointed that they've discontinued the haunted house course. That was one of my favourites. I've always wanted to have a ghost make me a toastie for morning tea.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Because I'm a lazy blogger

Here, loves. Have some pictures of the 5km stretch that I consider to be 'our' beach.

The path through the dunes at the end of our street.

Look very carefully and you can see a willy wagtail. We have a willy wagtail at home who delights in tormenting the cat. His name is Robert. But then all willy wags are called Robert.*

Here's our jetty. Isn't it nice?

And this is what it looks like from underneath.

This is The Other Jetty.
It's a bit further away, but we still like it.

And here's a nice sunset, complete with yacht,
as seen from the end of our street.

Yes, I'm a lazy-arse blogger and I have nothing to write about. As the cat's-bum-beaked penguin said, "Wossitooya?"

* Before you ask me, they just are, all right? It's the same way Murray magpies are all called Murray. Unless there are two of them, when the other one is called Darling. That's just the way it is. Don't fight it.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

In which red suspects she has missed her calling

Oh, crikey, I feel virtuous! I've been paving in the front garden. Mr Furpants showed his approval by sunbaking on the new bricks, but he is a bit of a paving whore.

The final result was more artistic than neat, because I used old red bricks and no two were the same size, colour or even shape. But it's rustic, all right? And what can you expect when some of them used to be the walls of my brother's outside dunny?

Admittedly, Bloke did have to do the levelling and measuring, because I'm incompetent at such things. (Numbers? Isn't that a crappy American TV show?) I have, however, discovered a hitherto unsuspected talent for whacking things with a mallet.

So bugger this hacking gig - it should have been the tradey's life for me. I'm sure I could do builders' crack with the best of them.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Bloke and his shed

"Why don’t we clean out the shed?” I said hopefully. “We could get a skip.”
“But I’m using that stuff,” Bloke said, offended.
“What, for a CSIRO-sponsored redback spider breeding program?”
“Ha bloody ha. Ha!”

We opened the roller door on Saturday and I found I was wrong. The shed could still be used as one of the sets for Arachnophobia VIII: Weekend at Incy Wincy’s, but it wasn’t full of redbacks. (I should have known – the redbacks are under the front window sill. They're freaky white ones that I have to nuke every couple of months to keep them from forming a right-wing government.) It was actually in the possession of a gang of giant daddy longlegs with an attitude problem that made the Khmer Rouge look like the Smurfs.

The spiders are a symptom rather than the problem. The real problem is that Bloke is a bit of a hoarder. You know, the way Charles Manson is a bit unstable.

I know that many a lad falls under the species blokus Australis packrattus. My dad could hoard with the best of them. It took mum years to clean out his shed after he died. It was full of odd-shaped pieces of wood, spanners that were measured in inches and Vegemite jars full of rusting tacks. Number One Brother is a hoarder too. He’s been packratting one and a half Lightburn Zetas for a good 25 years now. Hell, even chicks have packrattus genes. I’ve got more than a few myself. Books are a constant problem and one of my desk drawers is crammed full of old birthday and Christmas cards. Yes, I know – redcap, meet Planet Ark.

When we moved into this house, the shed was empty but for spider webs, ivy and a huge collection of tomato stakes. Then we started renovating and piles of rubble, old pipes, wiring and dunnies sprouted in the front and backyards. Little bits and pieces from those piles began to be spirited into the shed “for future reference”. That was nine or ten years ago now, but I’m fairly sure some of those random bits of Steptoeness are still in the shed. It’s just lucky that I accidentally broke the old dunny with a sledge hammer, or I'm sure that would still be there too, being used to store kindling or something.

Naturally, I’m not blameless in the creation of the bomb zone that is our shed. I’ve been known to use it as a handy staging point between house and tip and then forget to take the final step because out of sight is, well, in the shed. (Note to self: call council for hard rubbish collection for old mattress. Seven months in the shed ain’t making it any sweeter.)

And sometimes, just sometimes, the things in the shed do come in handy. Bloke claims that most of the materials he used to build the biltong box were already in the shed. Well, except for the latch, the hinges, the fine fly wire, the sealing foam for the lid, the black tape to seal the edges, the flat bits of wood, the glue, the hooks and the small nails. But everything else was in the shed.

There are also the times that I’ve said, “Ohbuggerit, I need a whatsits!” only to have Bloke appear five minutes later with a whatsits. This is great, but does have its problems.

(a) He’s had to take a cricket bat with him to persuade the spiders to give up possession;
(b) The whatsits is covered in dust, spidershite and unidentifiable crud; and
(c) I have to endure smug little “See, I told you my shed was useful!” noises for the rest of the afternoon.

I know the shed is never going to be free of either packrattings or spiders. I know that. It’s like trying to hold back the tide. But I can’t help thinking that the time spent on sifting through a shoebox that contains 14 types of nails, clouts, tacks, bolts and screws (but not the sort you want, and that's if you can even find the bloody shoebox), might be better spent on a quick trip to Bunnings. Sure, it means you have to spend $2 on a new packet of picture hangers and while you’re there you’ll see enough builders’ crack to trauamtise an entire Gay Mardi Gras, but look on the bright side. They have a sausage sizzle where you can get lips, ears and arseholes all in one handy package WITH fried onions and barbecue sauce. You can even have mustard if you want it.


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