Archive for November, 2008

At mothers’ group the other day, one of the mums showed us her breasts no less than four times. I don’t know why, but I chose to share this with my husband, which is exactly the kind of thing that makes him perk up a little and say “I should come to mothers’ group a bit more often”. But then, this is the man who always hopes the Girls Nights Outs I go on involve my friends and I romping around in our underwear hitting each other with pillows. Which is almost what happens, except it’s more like Bollywood-themed parties where we get drunk and dance a lot and where usually mild-mannered lawyers say things like “Man, my sari keeps getting in the way of my air guitar”.

Anyway, I quickly added that this exhibition of breasts at mothers’ group was strictly a one-off. You see, one of our ranks (MW) has surgically upgraded her A-Cup Peanuts to C-Cup Hooters and she’s very excited. And for very good reason: they look spectacular and they make her feel All Woman (with just a dash of silicon thrown in for good measure). 

Not surprisingly enough, my husband asked if anyone had touched them, though he hastened to add that this question was the result of an Inquiring Mind and not of a Perverted One. I sighed: No, no-one had touched them. However, I was hoping that, at the upcoming Christmas party, we might all get drunk enough to cop a feel, perhaps as part of a blind-fold test where we put her C cups next to another set of C cups to see if we could feel the difference. Except – of course – gravity would give the game away: one set would be up where we’d all like breasts to be and the other set would be more at waist level. Unless we did the test with both participants wearing the same type of bra, maybe with a little lace edging to enhance the whole “cop a feel” experience…

I suddenly realised I was thinking all this out loud and that my husband was hanging off my every word (for a change). “I think I’d better get [local dad] Matt-Guitar-Murphy in on this.” he said, somewhat dazed. “We can sit in the corner with a few bottles of his Home Brew and Just Watch. You won’t even know that we’re there.”

I think I then tried to change the whole topic of breasts, but he came back to it from another angle a while later. “What should I say when I see [MW]?” he asked. My advice was to keep quiet, unless she herself brought them up (no pun intended). And then, it was probably not a good idea for him to do what I did when I first saw them, which was to exclaim “Hello, boys!!!”.

We then workshopped some possible comments he might make, thinking he could give his remarks a financial slant since that’s his (albeit accidental) current area of expertise and that would keep them purely professional. For example, “I heard you’ve boosted your assets portfolio”. Or  “I hope your husband is getting a good return on his investment”. Or “That’s one investment which will guarantee a happy ending these-a-days”. Or…er…

And finally, we (rather sensibly) decided it was probably best for him to avoid her until the novelty wears off completely for everybody –  say in about twenty years. And in the meantime, if he thinks that I’m going to tell him the location of our Christmas Party, he’s very much mistaken. My lips and shirt buttons are completely and utterly sealed.

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Dear Readers,

I am writing to inform you that I am not going to write a post today. You see I’ve come down with a bad case of blog-fatigue. I was going to get my mum to write me a note to excuse me from today’s post, but then I thought I should probably do it myself. You know, what with me (supposedly) being a writer and all. 

So yes, there’s no post today. But before you start your bitchin’, Regular Readers should remember that you’ve been served five home-baked beauties this week. Remember “An Assembly To Remember“? Yep, one of mine. Remember “It’s All In Who You Tell It To“? Nope, didn’t think you would. Not many of you read it and, if you did, you certainly didn’t comment. Except MM, of course, but then he’s pathological when it comes to commenting (thank the lord). 

As for you Weekend Readers, we all know that you’re just here today to catch up on what you missed during the week. And don’t think I didn’t notice you weren’t reading during the week. Because I did and it hurt me real bad. Many a night I sobbed myself to sleep wondering where you’d got to. No, don’t say a word. Not. A. Word. I’m not interested in hearing your excuses, especially if it involves you having some kind of life. In any case, my lack of post today will have you thanking me for having one less NDM rant to catch up with now. See I’m nice like that. 

And then there are my Accidental Readers to whom I say Welcome! Grab a pew and feel free to stay a while, even if your hostess is nowhere to be seen. Why, there’s 77 other posts on the menu for you to choose from. But if you’ve come here looking for “lactating asian babes”, then I heartily apologise for wasting your time with my irresponsible tagging and offer you this link. And yes, they are quite the mama-jugs aren’t they. 

So, after 13 straight weeks of writing six days a week, it’s official: I’m downshifting. It’s just sooooo the Hip Thing To Do – just look at Joaquin Phoenix and the Global Economy! (They’re two separate examples, by the way. I’m not by any means suggesting JP’s “Bye! Good” to acting had anything to do with the world’s financial downturn. At least not directly.)

Here’s the deal: I’m cutting my blogging to five days a week and then, when the Festival of Consumerism starts to get on top of me (say, this time next week?), I might just start writing whenever the muse touches me. But hey, if that muse looks anything like Daniel Craig in the latest Bond film, that muse can touch me as much as he wants, whenever he wants, wherever he wants. No, really.

Thanks for reading. See you on Monday. You know you want to… 

Best wishes, etc


Perhaps, like ET, he meant "Be Good"? Drew Barrymore, take note.

Perhaps, like ET, he meant "Be Good"? Drew Barrymore, take note.

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Yesterday morning I discovered that I had left the Love Bus unlocked for 19 hours with my handbag on the front seat. I think my wallet poking out the top of the bag was visible from outer space and yet, the bag remained there on the seat all night, untouched. Take that “Friendliest Street in Blahblahshire!”, I thought.

Of course it isn’t always that way round these parts. Earlier in the year we skipped off to an Australia Day BBQ at the home of a newly-Aussiefied MM and his chronically Australian wife KC and came home to find somebody had skipped off with all our worldly possessions. And by somebody, I mean “stupid junkies” did it – or rather, those were my words at the time. Although they weren’t exactly stupid because they were mindful enough to find and take all the chargers for the equipment they took, all without leaving a a single fingerprint. Stupid smart junkies. Interestingly enough, the backpack they also stole to stash their booty had a copy of Spinoza’s “Ethics” tucked away in one of the zippered compartments. And since it is *entirely likely* that they would have since taken time to read it, they’re probably feeling really bad about what they did to us. Really really bad. 

In any case, we got off reasonably lightly. Some other friends in our area got done over in a much more insidious way – they were robbed during the night while they were actually sleeping in the house. RR got up at one point to attend to one of their sons and came back to shake his wife M awake with the words “What have you done with our television?”.  Which is kind of worrying as RR is a Man in Uniform. You’d think with all the years of training he’d had, he might not have slept through a robbery in his own house. Or that he might have been able to recognise a crime scene when he saw one (albeit through the blurred eyes of someone with perpetually-broken sleep). And perhaps he’d hopefully not have gone on to accuse an innocent person without sufficient evidence. Hmmm. Some more cynical types might say that pretty much describes many Men in Uniform all the world over… But listen up, cynics: RR is truly a Good Man (in uniform or not), and I like to think that, had he not been tucked up in beddy-bye-byes with his jimmy-jams on, he would have come over all Jason Bourne and totally shown those thieves. Totally. Although his wife M says she’s glad he didn’t, what with the small sleeping children near by and all – and I have to admit she’s totally right. Anyhoo, the worst thing about all this is that poor RR and M got done over again three days later in broad daylight, and then a few days after that, had their car window smashed and broken into. Which truly sucked. 

But the thing that really sucks about these robberies is not the expensive equipment that was stolen or the property that was damaged – those things can (after a lot of paperwork) be replaced or fixed (in our case, gaffer tape did the trick on the window). It’s the irreplaceable stuff such as the photos on the memory stick or the emails on the computer or the tape in the video camera that gets me. None of which has any value to the thieves whatsoever but are all priceless to their owners. I no longer have any video footage of my precious Tiddles McGee as a baby thanks to our Australia Day visitors. RR and M lost all the baby photos of both their boys and M’s grandmother’s engagement ring. And, arguably, my husband might have benefited from reading Spinoza’s “Ethics” in its entirety (see “In Camera Hearing” for evidence of this). But thankfully, in a “Family Ties” group hug kind of way, we all still have each other (cue: awwwwwwwww!) and from where I’m sitting in my middle class tower, it seems the people who have wronged us are in a far darker place than I care to imagine or want to go myself. 

You know, one of the many reasons I’m in a luckier place is that my drugs of choice are cheap fizz and Beroccas and they’re both widely available for a handful of change over the counter. However, I hasten to add that I never mix them – that would be Totally Irresponsible. Although, now that I think about it, the über-fizz the two could potentially create together could give me quite the Big Buzz… But then, the vast consumption of this heady cocktail might prove to be my ultimate undoing, sending me spiraling down, down, down to a life of petty crime, bad teeth and bad fashion sense (though it must be said I’ve got the teeth and the fashion sense already covered). And, now I *really* think about it, I’d be thin. Thin, I tells ya! Quick! Someone! Anyone! Bring me a glass!

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I have a teacher-friend who recently shared the following joke with some of his female students:

Q. Why did the Irishman wear two condoms?

A. To be sure, to be sure. 

He might have gotten away with it except that he happened to be working as a teacher at a Catholic Girls’ school. Need I say anything more than “Ouch!”? And no, there’s no point asking what he was thinking because it’s safe to assume he wasn’t thinking anything at all. Except, perhaps, “How can I ensure 100% that they won’t renew my contract?”. 

Humour is a tricksy medium and it can go so wrong so easily. Many a time, I’ve cracked a joke and had it fall flatter than the flattest thing possible (even flatter than my mood after a four hour stint in an indoor playcentre) because I’ve misjudged my audience. I personally maintain that my post-vasectomy jokes are amongst my funniest material but apparently there’s about 50% of the population who don’t (see “The Snip Snipe“). One of my uni friends got up at his housemate’s 21st birthday party and told an oh-so-amusing anecdote about her having loud sex with her boyfriend. Which he might have carried off had her octogenarian grandmother not been sitting in the front row with a face like thunder – and the rest of the audience knew it. Let’s face it: it’s hard to laugh uproariously when you’re afraid of being bashed on the bonce by a zimmer frame. 

The strange thing about the internet is that you’re never sure who exactly your audience is so you end up writing for the void. And since some of my audience stumble across my blog by the strangest of routes (see “Best Boy“) they themselves don’t really know which show they’ve come to see. I particularly enjoyed the visit the other day from the lady who came to my blog via the search terms “I piss on my husband” – whether that was “from a great height” or “to get my husband horny”, I’ll never know – it may even have been both. But I was sure glad she paid me a visit because it really made my day. It made me think of when Australia’s own Swimming Sensation™ Stephanie Rice won gold at Beijing and the mainstream media were touting her as “Golden Rice”. If only, I said at the time, her name was Stephanie Shower. If only…

But I digress. My husband very rarely laughs at my jokes in person (when he does it’s a sound more surprising than an unprompted “please” from The Pixie’s mouth) but he sometimes gets a chuckle or two from my blog (or so he claims). He’s a tough crowd – but I forgive him, only because his early forays into comedy were stunted by his father, who told him rather sternly “I tell the jokes around here”.

Luckily for our kids, he hasn’t taken that same fierce line with them and we both encourage and enjoy the comic material they’ve been working on around the dinner table. Mostly, they involve variations on the “Knock Knock” and “Why did the [blank] cross the road?” joke – those cornerstones of Western comedy. Usually their jokes are fairly harmless, but occasionally they get seriously weird-arse. I’ll wrap this post up with a joke from the “extreme enthusiasm and creativity” of six year old Mr Justice, who likes to have the last word on most subjects:

Mr Justice: Why did the concrete go up onto the fence?

Me: I don’t know. Why did the concrete go up onto the fence?

Mr Justice: So he could show his butt.

(Baffled silence)

Mr Justice: His butt is short for button.

Me: (forced laughter) That’s a strange joke.

Mr Justice: No, it’s funny. Jokes are meant to be funny. Not strange.

I think there’s a lesson in that for all of us.

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The whole “Pupil of the Week” thing at primary schools is a little bit contentious: while some teachers award them only when they feel it has truly been earned, others dole them out every single week to a rotating roster of students for things like “For doing your personal best”, “For being next in line to receive Pupil of the Week” and probably even “Because it’s all good” (Is it? Is it??). 

However, I’m extremely proud to announce that Mr Justice’s recent award was for his “extreme enthusiasm and creativity when story-writing”. I got a big kick out of the word “extreme” because I imagined his teacher and fellow students all cowering in the corner, a bit fearful that Mr Justice’s creative enthusiasm might blow any minute, much like his mother’s cold sore. Or even, as one of my readers (and facebook friends) Nellie remarked, he might have been “writing stories while balancing a chain saw on his nose while walking on a wire.” A remark I chose not to share with Mr Justice just in case he got himself any wild ideas.

Anyway, Mr Justice’s award meant I had to go to assembly for the first time this year. Since The Pixie’s one and only kindergarten session is on the same morning, that time slot represents the only two and a half hours in a week where I regularly just have one child at home with me. Those mornings, it feels like I’ve died and gone to heaven, except that I’m A) still in dire need of a apronectomy and B) still in charge of one child. But what the hey, at least it’s not three (and I still have somewhere nifty to balance my champagne glass when watching TV). So, call me selfish, but I’m not going to blow even ten minutes of that precious precious time hanging out at the school, much like a dog returning to its own vomit, unless I absolutely have to. So because Mr Justice was getting his award, I duly lugged Tiddles to the school gymnasium with the intention of hotfooting it to the cafe for some urgent recaffeination at the earliest opportunity – my own little reward for enduring Mr J’s award. 

And so my heart sank just a little when the first thing the Principal told us was that this was to be a very special assembly. It turns out some of the senior school boys had been taking part in an African drumming workshop and were going to put on a “special show” for us. And by “special”, I immediately assumed that he just meant “long”. It was like someone had been dangling a latte on a string in front of me and then suddenly yoiked it away – I think I might have even teared up a little. 

However, the first bit of drumming was great and I soon perked up. The teacher – a handsome man from the Horn of Africa whom I shall call S – had obviously worked long and hard with these boys, who were drumming with great (extreme?) enthusiasm. Then everyone on the stage swapped instruments and they appeared to do the same song again. And then they swapped instruments a third time and I felt one of my caffeine-withdrawal headaches coming on until suddenly… S got up to dance. It was like some of Mr Justice’s finest and most manic moves all rolled into one routine – including a cheeky waggle of his bottom at the crowd. S was working that crowd like it was Live 8: he grabbed hold of the microphone, he got the kids, parents and teachers all up on their feet to dance and – just when we thought it couldn’t get any more exciting – he took off his shirt. 

Oh yes. Shirt. Off.  

The kids went wild but their enthusiasm came nowhere near that of the (predominantly female) staff and the mothers in the room, whose suddenly beaming faces betrayed them all, every single one. Later on, after school, Mr Justice said he really liked it when S took his shirt off because he thought he was going to take his undies off too. “It wasn’t that kind of ‘special show’,” I replied, with just a hint of regret in my voice. 

After the drumming spectacular finished, the principal thanked S and the boys and went back to reading out notices, stopping from time to time to say what a memorable assembly it had been. I looked around the room and by the flushed looks on the faces of the women in the room, I doubted they could even remember their own names at that moment, let alone register that their own child’s name had just been called to take their Pupil of the Week Award. But hell, if every assembly is like that, here’s hoping Mr Justice’s next Student of the Week Award ain’t too far away, rewarding of mediocrity and all that.

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A couple of months ago, I was on the verge of makin’ merry with a large group of friends in the city when I made a fateful error: I checked my account balance at an ATM. Thus, with just the touch of a button, I summarily executed my merry mood. Just like that. And so, when it came to my turn to order at the restaurant, I found myself having to choose between what I wanted (oysters! steak! champagne! dessert! more champagne!) and what I could actually afford without taking food out of my own children’s mouths or having to recycle Tiddles’ disposable nappies until pay day.

With a heavy heart, I went for the cheapest option on the menu: a daal which proved itself to be the same colour and consistency of some of Tiddles’ more liquid bowel motions (the very same ones that made the option of recycling his nappies unthinkable). In addition, I had a miserly half-glass of champagne from one of the communal bottles (which definitely felt half-empty rather than half-full) and stoically averted my eyes when the dessert menu was brought out.  But of course, when the bill came, the size of the group made it easier to divide it evenly rather than pull out the calculator and/or start some kind of ledger. And, of course, this meant that the miserly and the frugal (such as myself) ended up carrying the slack for the boozers eating foie gras. But rather than just pay the money, I found myself explaining – in a rather choked voice – that I’d deliberately chosen the closest thing on the menu to wet cardboard because I was broke and that I did not wish to pay for anything more than what I actually consumed. And in doing so, I saved myself a whopping $7 and lost myself a whole lot of face. Yes, you read that right: seven whole dollars. And while I was on a roll, I went on to bypass the taxi rank and instead grimly marched three of my friends across town to the bus stop where we waited 30 minutes in the cold for the next bus. 

By the time I got home, I felt meaner and more miserly than the meanest, most miserly meanie-miser in the world. And, upon seeing my husband, I burst into tears because I felt so bloody ashamed of myself. After I’d blurted out my sorry tale, my husband shook his head and said “If you’re going to do these things, you need to do them properly and in the Right Spirit.” And then went on to suggest I should have paid for everyone’s dinner on the credit card. Hmmmm, sometimes he takes this Right Spirit thing too far. But a few weeks later, as I was leaving a small birthday gathering at a bar, I remembered his words and slapped the bill for the group’s drinks so far on my credit card. And though I felt that choking anxiety of having spent too much money all the way home, I at least felt I had done the Right Thing in the Right Spirit. 

Which is more than you can say for my friend MGK, who recently went to a boozy lunch in a chichi restaurant for a friend’s birthday that she couldn’t really afford. According to her email account, she did a quick assessment of the number of bottles of wine being ordered and the general appearance of the other guests at the luncheon and concluded that they would be the type to go the Even-Split Bill Approach because they were too drunk and/or too casual about money to do it any other way. Determined to rort the system, she promptly ordered the expensive lamb shanks, numerous glasses of the finest bubbly and even threw in dessert for good measure in the hope that she could consume more than she ended up paying for. Of course when the bill arrived, someone decided that everyone should pay what they ordered and as MGK herself went on to write in her email: “$65 later, I walked out with an empty sandwich bag”.

It took me a while to work out what the hell she was talking about with the sandwich bag, and then I remembered she had lost her wallet some weeks earlier and had taken to walking around with her cards and cash in a zip-lock plastic bag. I don’t know about anyone else, but if I was sitting next to someone who was counting out their money in $2 coins from a sandwich bag, I would have paid for their meal and then slipped them another twenty at the earliest opportunity. In any case, MGK walked away from that lunch feeling that she had ripped herself off. Big Time. 

So what lesson can be learnt from all these tales of restaurant bill woe? Should you only order what you’re willing to pay for? And pay for what you ordered and not a cent more? Should you pay for everyone even though you can’t afford it? Should you do the self-sacrificial thing and order the cheapest things on the menu so you can cut costs for everyone else? Or sit and order nothing but a glass of tap water, all the while swigging heavily from a secret hip flask? Let’s face it: dining out with large groups is a fraught business, whatever way you look at that final bill. The one thing that is for certain is this: the more you drink, the larger the bill and the less you’ll care. And I say cheers to that!

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A person could drive themselves mad pondering the “What ifs…” and the “If only I hads…”. For example, I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I’d left that open pack of cocktail franks at the back of the fridge for another six months. Or if only I’d stopped at just one piece of chocolate rather than the whole ruddy block last night, whether my “apron” would feel a little less inflated this morning. 

My husband no doubt has had some “What ifs” on his mind since we caught up with The King and his lovely wife (The Queen?). The King and my husband had worked together for a major British newspaper when we lived in London and The King had gone onto Great Things, whereas my husband had been dragged kicking and screaming back to the colonies by his wife, along with his four month old son, who also did a good line in screaming and kicking all that long long journey home. It all could have been so different, though. In our final months in the UK, my husband had gone for a promotion at work and we agreed that, if he got it, we’d stay in the UK and if he didn’t, we’d go to Australia where he could languish away in a dead-end academic job for five years before finally getting himself a “proper job” where he’d get to wear a fancy-man suit, start a campaign for “International Sean Connery Impressions Day” and end up running from his desk to throw up no less than six times the morning after a big work party. Well, we didn’t know that’s what Australia had in store for him at the time, but that’s what ended up happening. Fact. 

If you ask him what life might have been like for us had we stayed in London, he would no doubt paint you a picture of himself cycling about on his trusty bike through the beautiful green parks of that fair city, putting in a hard day’s graft on a world-class publication, slipping in a pint (or three) at the pub with the lads after work and eventually coming home after closing time via the kebab shop. Which is pretty much what he was still doing up until the time we left. Life for me, of course, had changed considerably with the arrival of Mister Justice and my days were largely spent waiting for my husband to cycle home with the smell of lager and garlic sauce on his breath. 

But enough about him – it is all about me, after all. What would have happened to me if we had stayed there (other than waiting around for my drunken husband to come home)? Would financial necessity have driven me back to the arms of a rubber chicken in my manager-minding job (see “Chicken of Persuasion“)? Would I have gone on to churn out two more children in the home counties or I still be passing myself off as part of a “hip’n’happening London couple with a child”? Or, if I had managed to swing a Stay-At-Home gig, would I have found myself a mothers’ group full of gloriously boozy women with which to while away those long long afternoons (see “The Hostest with the Mostest” as a stirling example of this worthy past-time)?

For the answer to that last question, I’ll quote my friend Fee S in the UK, who had the following to report:

My usually breezy and very funny friend B—- (four boys 2-7yrs years) had a face of lead when I told her about your mother’s group, which sounded all fab and modern. She practically screamed at me “Have you been to a mother’s group here? Have you? Have you? It’s shit! Shit!”

Fee then went on to regale me with some horror stories of cold cups of tea in dank church halls – with not a hint of cheap bubbly or a schmancy hors d’oevres to be found. In an instant, I realised exactly what my life would have become had we stayed in the UK:  I would have found myself on that Road Not Taken either drinking mournfully by myself of a Thursday afternoon or – worse yet – stone cold sober. Oh the humanity!

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