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Archive for May, 2011

Lest We Forget

For the longest time, I meant to make Anzac biscuits as part of a care package for my brother-in-law serving overseas in the armed forces.

I meant to make them but first the oven was broken. Then the kitchen was being renovated. Then I couldn’t find the recipe book with the recipe I liked in it. And then, when I found a good recipe on-line, there wasn’t any toner in the printer to print it out.

And in the meantime, my life got filled with school excursion permission slips and doctor’s appointments and over-due library notices and unfolded laundry.

And so the biscuits went unmade and the care package went unsent.

And then last week, we received the incomprehensible news that my brother-in-law had been killed on a dusty road far from home.  And I finally found myself making those Anzac biscuits for a completely different reason. I was making them with my children to take to the Shrine of Remembrance, to pay our respect to a long chain of fallen soldiers, of which my brother-in-law was the latest.

And I realised my mistake.

I realised I had left it too late. I had let my days get cluttered with excuses that I tripped over like so much lego scattered over the loungeroom rug. I had failed to stop and honour someone I loved while he was still here.

And now he’s not.

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My brother-in-law was a good man, a fine soldier and was beloved and respected by all who met him. Lest we forget.

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(OPENING PARAGRAPH DESPERATELY TRYING TO DRAW THE READERS IN)

Contrary to popular belief, it’s unlike me to write fan letters. Other than a letter I wrote in 1983 to child actor Henry Thomas commending him on his fine work in the role of Elliot in ‘ET: The Extra Terrestrial”,  I have concentrated my efforts in writing finely-crafted and entirely ineffectual letters of complaint.

For example, I once wrote a letter to The Wiggles, complaining about a fifteen dollar balloon we’d bought at their concert which floated away before we even got back to the car. (HISSES:) Because those skivvy-wearing fucks were totally responsible for that bloody balloon and one day they’ll realise their mistake and their cheeks will burn shame of it all. BURN, I TELLS YA.

(ATTEMPT TO GET BACK ON-TOPIC BY USING THE WORD ‘ANYWAY’)

ANYWAY, a few months ago, I felt strangely compelled to write my literary crush David Mitchell a fan letter. I can not tell you why. Nor can I tell you why I chose to start the fan letter like this:

Dear David,

The last time I wrote to one of my idols, I sent her a picture of a Vegetable Porn Star. Luckily for you, this is not one of those letters.

Sadly, I didn’t get a response. For a long time, I blamed my opening paragraph – after all, all writers know that you’re only as good as your opening paragraph. But then, having recently been utterly delighted by David Mitchell speaking as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival, I realise my mistake was NOT sending the picture of the Vegetable Porn Star.

We live and learn, people. We live and learn.

(CUE: PATHETIC SEGUE)

Interestingly enough, I’ve also learnt that I am no self-starter when it comes to writing my so-called novel. And so I have had to take drastic steps: I have formed a Writing Group with my friend KK.

A lot of people have asked me what business I have starting a writing group with only two people in it. It’s less of a ‘group’ and more of a ‘couple’, they’ve said. Those people are sooooo pedantic.

(THE POINT IN THE POST WHERE THE TITLE IS EXPLAINED)

“Why, we’re a Writing Couplet!” I said to those people. I’m a Writer, you know.

The inaugural meeting of our Writing Couplet was held last Friday at the cafe-slash-bar where KK is currently the poet-in-residence. This afforded me the extremely satisfying experience of walking into a place, striking the bar with my fist and demanding – DEMANDING! – to see the poet-in-residence. Everyone should do this at least once in their life.

(THIS IS WHERE I GLOSS OVER THE DETAILS BECAUSE I’M FEELING LAZY)

As for what happened during our Writing Couplet meeting… well, the first rule of the Writing Couplet is you don’t talk about the Writing Couplet. Instead, someone takes minutes (including a tally of how many times each person had to go to the toilet) and then fails to write them up.

(NOW WATCH ME MASTERFULLY BRING THE POST BACK FULL CIRCLE)

But I will tell you this: KK and I unanimously voted David Mitchell as the patron saint of our Writing Couplet. I don’t know about you, but I can feel another fan letter coming on.

(AND NOW, THE LAME ARSE ENDING)

The End, By Me.

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The other day I was having coffee with my dad friend TMR and he ordered a mugaccino. Yes, a mugaccino. For those of you whose lives  have thus far been untouched by the mugaccino, let me explain it this way: it’s a cappuccino. In a mug.

I snorted slightly as it was delivered.

“Oh, [TMR],” I said, shaking my head. “A mugaccino is sooooo 1995.”

Even the cafe owner laughed as he placed it on the table. But then, I have the cafe owner well trained. He basically knows to start laughing the moment I walk through the cafe door but I’m not sure he’s always laughing in a kind way.

A few minutes later, however, it was TMR’s turn to raise an eyebrow when the cafe owner placed a Chai Latte in front of me.

“Yeah, okay, alright,” I said, feeling a bit exposed. “At least my drink wasn’t in fashion with Jennifer Aniston’s ‘Rachel’ ‘do.”

Still, there we both were, with our notsohotrightnow drinks. We chatted for a while about ways we could get them to join forces, wonder twins style, to become a ‘chai-accino’ or a ‘mugachai’. But that last one just sounded like a character from hit 1984 movie ‘Gremlins’. And no, I don’t know why I thought that, either.

Anyway, it turns out TMR is simply waiting for the mugaccino to become the ‘it’ drink again. Just in the same way, I’m waiting for Cornflakes to become the ‘it’ cereal in my household so that the 5KG Family Pack taking up precious pantry real estate might actually get eaten.

You see, I live with a bunch of food faddists. Mostly this faddism is concentrated in the area of breakfast cereal where a particular cereal will be eaten voraciously right up until the point I invest large sums of money in the type of bulk-buy pack that requires its own shopping trolley. It’s at that moment that my children will suddenly regard eating the cereal in question as the equivalent of stuffing one’s mouth with shredded cardboard and cat’s piss.

Fruit, too, is also a key focus area for food faddism. For example, Mr Justice last year proclaimed the humble ‘Golden Delicious’ as his ‘apple of choice’, shortly before it went out of season. I waited half a year for them to appear back on the supermarket shelves only to have him take one bite and spit it out, declaring it to be ‘the devil’s own food’. Yes, that apple tree in the garden of Eden was apparently a Golden Delicious tree. Who knew.

To be honest, I think they basically inherit this trait from their father – my so-called husband – who will announce that from this moment on he will only eat chicken and vegetable pies and then, mere minutes later, will have taken to his bed complaining of ‘pie poisoning’.

The most annoying thing of all of this is trying to cater for such movable palates. If you were to draw a Venn diagram of foods each of my children deemed ‘acceptable for consumption’ at any given moment in time, the circles representing each child will cross at one point and one point only: hot chips.

Personally, I hope for two things: that there is a scientist out there somewhere on the verge of declaring hot chips as the new Super Food (bye bye, banana) and that hot chips never, ever, EVER go out of fashion. Not like the mugaccino, eh, TMR?

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I woke up this Mother’s Day not to breakfast in bed nor fresh flowers on my bedside table.

No, I woke up this Mother’s Day with Tiddle McGee’s hands firmly clenched around my windpipe.

While not alarmed per se, I was mildly philosophical about it. After all, it’s part of an emerging theme.

Why, just the day beforehand, I’d been walking around with my infant nephew doing my usual thing to entertain fractious babies (which, for the record, generally involves taking their small hands and making them slap me on the forehead). I had been holding him for ten, maybe fifteen, minutes, when Tiddles McGee approached me with a look on his face not entirely unlike Jack Nicholson’s in The Shining.

“I want YOU to carry ME,” he said in a hoarse whisper.

I was so scared, I virtually dropped the baby on the spot.

And then later on Mother’s Day, he presented me with a card with this picture in it, which somewhat scarily evokes that famous ‘shower scene’ from Psycho…

Yep. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Norman Bates was definitely a third child.

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This NDM Lite™ post is a direct result of celebrating Mother’s Day with a seven-and-a-half hour journey door-to-door with my husband and three children. If you have any complaints, you should talk to the hand – namely, the hand that plans to be holding a G&T for most of today.

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It’s a long story but let’s just say I started my recent trip to Sydney by rummaging through a bin at Melbourne airport for a plastic bag so I could meet Tiger Airways’ stringent luggage policy.

And it got me thinking – and not just about whether or not the Channel 7 crew filming the series ‘Air Ways’ had managed to capture that magic moment on camera. It got me thinking about how more people really should give me money to fly around the world having adventures that may (or may not) involve me pulling plastic bags out of public bins.

I mean, listen up, prospective sponsors:  I’m an adventurer! A pioneer! A natural born travel writer!

Here’s the kind of thing that I got up to in Sydney:

  • I went to Kerri Sackville’s book launch where I had to make my own name badge because I think Kerri must have secretly uninvited me suspecting I’d only get drunk, try chat up her publisher and blow raspberries into Mrs Woog‘s cleavage. Which is exactly what I did.
  • I subsequently ended up in a random bar in Darlinghurst with my gay toyboy ex-husband where we chair-danced with an inflatable doll and shoveled handfuls of free condoms into our bags. Good times, Rick. Good times.
  • Hungover the next morning, I got lost in that vortex of consumerism called ‘Westfield Bondi Junction’ and almost took a nap on a bed display in David Jones. In the end, I had to ask a stranger where the train station was. Yes, a stranger! And even then, I managed to get lost again.
  • Instead of watching some televised wedding that evening, I drank cocktails out of jam jars in a Melbourne-style bar in the heart of Sydney. Which was ironic because, as a Melbourne-based girl, I rarely get to drink cocktails out of jam jars in actual Melbourne bars.
  • I found myself talking to one of my many Sydney-based cousins, The Tall Man, who thought he’d be amusing and ask if I’d ever thought about starting a blog. Unfortunately for both of us, I thought he was suggesting I start a bog which then led us into a rather frightening conversational space about publishing pictures of my faeces on the internet.
  • I ate the world’s most delicious caramel eclair (probably not the best thing to follow up the previous point about publishing pictures of my faeces on the internet).
  • I used the toilet in Kerri Sackville’s personal en suite bathroom. Yes, I did. I’m sure this was a major breach of etiquette but a) I wanted to enjoy the magnificent views that the en suite afforded me and b) I thought it might bring Kerri and I closer together. And lo, here we are. Closer together.

    I am, like, totally grabbing her knee and - in Kerri's own words - she is, like, totally trying to shove her hand down my top.

  • My flight home was delayed and, while I basked in the strip-lit ambience of Sydney airport, my husband texted photos of our youngest child, with easter egg-smeared face in front of the TV in his pyjamas at 4:30PM. So at least I knew the kids were in good hands while I was away.
  • I fell asleep on the plane but unfortunately woke up at the very moment my body began to fall sideways into the lap of the alarmingly good looking man I was sitting next to.
  • I turned my mobile phone on before I was inside the terminal.

See?  Adventurer.

Actually, I don’t know why Channel 7 don’t just base their next reality TV travel series on me, quite frankly.

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BTW, you should totally buy Kerri Sackville’s book ‘When My Husband Does The Dishes‘. Just saying.

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