|trivial tales from someone who's always in it|
Monday, September 30, 2002
The Dreamboat has made me breakfast and I, ungrateful wretch that I am, eat hardly any of it. All my muscles are aching and I wish I could say it was due to something mildly interesting, like discovering we had one of those coin-operated vibrating beds. Alas, no. It's just the next stage of this cold I've contracted.
We're in the fiery chariot. The Dreamboat asks if I want to see Puckapunyal, the place with the name I found so oddly compelling the night before. I say yes.
Puckapunyal is a military camp, boasting all sorts of jolly clubs like the 'Land Warfare Development Centre'. I suspect this camp has been set up so that anyone poking fun at the word 'Puckapunyal' can be spirited away under the cover of darkness and blown up. There are roadblocks and signs exhorting us to stop and submit to security checks before proceeding onwards. The Dreamboat and I decide we're too busy for all this, and drive off in the other direction.
10.52am: Tooborae State Forest
We see at least fifty kangaroos sunning themselves in a field. It's the first time we've seen so many in the one place. They're also unusual in that they're the red variety. So far on this trip we've only seen greys. At this point, something fires in the Dreamboat's brain and he recalls something about there being a kangaroo cull in the area not long ago. When I get home, I check and he's right. There was a large cull back in July, in an attempt to get the numbers under control. Kangaroos aren't exactly an endangered species around here.
11.03am: Nina Simone - Love Me Or Leave Me
The fields are dotted with bizarre boulder formations. The rocks are rounded and smooth. Some of them are split down the middle, giving them more than a passing likeness to buttocks. Others have split horizontally, leaving smaller rocks sitting on top of larger ones. I'm not prepared to state what they remind me of, but I derive a good ten minutes' worth of fun giggling at their expense.
11.36am: Hanging Rock
We are at the toll-gate leading to Hanging Rock, subject of Peter Weir's ethereal and vaguely sinister film. A sign is telling us we have to pay $8 per car before we can continue and I'm busily indulging in what we in this part of the world call a 'dummy-spit'. Maybe I'm a mean and petty person, maybe this indicates some sort of huge character flaw on my part, but I really resent being made to pay money to see something that was obligingly formed by the planet long before the concepts of toll-gates and money came into existence. I'd be more than happy to donate some cash; I just don't like the idea of a committee sitting around and fixing a price. The Dreamboat wearily endures my tirade because he's heard it before.
DB: They probably need the money to maintain the place.
Me: What's to maintain? It's a bloody rock, for god's sake.
DB: Well, the road leading up to it, I guess.
Me: Who asked them to build a bloody road? I didn't. I wouldn't mind walking across a paddock to get to it. Stuff their road.
DB: (in tone of mild disgust, while turning the car around) OK, we'll leave it. We can wait until November, when my parents are here. We'll come back then. With four people in the car it'll be more economical.
Me: (spends the next quarter of an hour wrestling with mixed feelings of defiance and shame.)
11.51am: Sanatorium Lake
This is a man-made lake, constructed at the end of the 19th century to provide a water-supply for a local TB sanatorium. Maybe it's because of the weather (which clouds over and drops twenty degrees every time we get out of the fiery chariot) or maybe it's because we know its history, but it feels like a sad place and we don't linger.
12.10pm: Summit of Mt Macedon
A wee bit of useless general knowledge for ya: Mt Macedon and the surrounding ranges were named after King Phillip II of Macedon, who was Alexander The Great's dad. We walk up to the war memorial, shiver respectfully for a few minutes, and then march briskly to the tea-rooms where Yours Truly can.. um... powder her nose. The Dreamboat grabs a whole lot of brochures. Judging by the great lengths the Hanging Rock brochure goes to in justifying the "reasonable entry fees", I'm not the only person to have spat the dummy at some point.
The road leading down from Mt Macedon is a "Road Of National Importance". We know this because there's a sign telling us so. Even without the benefit of this educational tool, we would have probably worked out there was something mildly significant about the place because there are no houses there. They're all castles, ranches, palaces and chateaux with ornamental lakes and acres of rhododendrons. When I get over this cold and become a world-famous writer, I'll probably live there.
1.02pm: St Germain - Tourist
We are driving through the town of Gisborne. That's all.
(Notes end at this point because the writer fell asleep.)
After arriving home at 3.00pm, the Mt Disappointment Epic Adventure was officially concluded. And now I'm taking my virus-stricken carcass back to bed.
Sunday, September 29, 2002
What I'm about to relate is taken from actual notes, assiduously recorded as each event occurred, and transcribed for posterity. The music we played at each stage of the trip has been included because I feel like it.
Saturday (early-ish in the morning):
Wake up feeling rotten, but as I usually wake up feeling rotten I don't pay much attention. Later on it becomes apparent that my malaise isn't due to the usual existential angst but the onset of a cold. I applaud The Universe for Its timing, which couldn't be worse.
1.30pm: Godskitchen - The True Sound of a Clubbing Summer
We leave Melbourne in our fiery chariot. It's blowing a gale, raining heavily and the temperature is 10degC/50degF.
We see a dead wombat.
We see another dead wombat.
We see a sign alerting us to the fact that there are wombats in the area. Presumably, they are not yet dead.
2.30pm: Mt Disappointment State Forest
We find ourselves on a steep gravel/clay track. Further progress is barred by a locked gate. The indentations made by our tyres have turned into little streams. There is nowhere to turn around, so the Dreamboat reverses the chariot down the hill in a series of masterfully-controlled skids.
2.38pm: Camp Warrigal (boy-scout camp)
The Dreamboat disembarks from chariot, muttering something about 'getting directions'. There are no boy-scouts around, but an obliging woman helps out.
A sodden boy-scout wearing an equally sodden back-pack trudges out of the bush and ignores the Dreamboat's cheery wave.
My mood plummets after seeing another dead wombat, but inexplicably lifts again when I see a mighty stallion on a hillside, peeing as if his life depended on it. They are such noble beasts!
We are in the small town of Wallan. The Dreamboat has stopped at a hardware shop-cum-garden centre to fill up the LPG bottle for the barbecue. I take this to mean he still intends to go through with it all. I don arctic jacket and stand outside smoking because I know it's going to make this cold I'm developing feel so much better. A jovial local comes out of the store. "How did you land up with the job of being outside?" he asks. I laugh uncertainly to humour him until I realise he thinks I work there.
On the road again. We drive all the way to the pub next door to get beer. The chariot smells of manure.
3.30pm: Mt Disappointment Sate Forest
We discover the first camp-site on the map is already taken. I watch a surly-looking man carrying camping gear to an equally surly-looking woman who is erecting a tent in the deluge. They have obviously decided to make the best of things.
We are up in the clouds. Low cloud and fog have turned the forest into something so surreal and beautiful that we stop to take photos. The trip has been worth it for this alone.
4.30pm: Dead Can Dance - The Serpent's Egg
The second camp-site we visit totally sucks. There is no shelter.
The third camp-site has been commandeered for a private function - a local redneck's birthday debauch. We drive quietly away.
5.10pm: Talvin Singh - OK
The entire forest is awash with water. Most of the 4WD tracks we've gone down have been flooded and we've spent a lot of time reversing out of them. It's absolutely hosing down and it's freezing. I'm starting to go very quiet and I think the Dreamboat is beginning to notice.
5.22pm: In the middle of nowhere
Me: This place is flooded. It's a fucking quagmire and it's going to get worse because I think it's safe to assume it's going to rain all night. The whole camping idea was kind of cute and fun to begin with but it's not so cute and fun-filled now because soon we'll be losing the light.
DB: Shall we go home?
Me: I guess so.
I suggest we go to a caravan park rather than admit total defeat. The Dreamboat seems keen.
We see a kangaroo with a joey half in its pouch. The kangaroo is startled by our approach and starts to bound off. The joey falls out. We find this amusing because sometimes we are very sick units.
There don't appear to be any caravan parks here. It's almost dark.
6.34pm: Afro Celt Sound System - Volume 2: Release
A road sign informs us there is a place nearby called Puckapunyal. Why? I ask myself.
We're in a motel. It has electric blankets and a terrific gas heater. Life doesn't get much better.
First beer opened.
DB: All this, and we're only an hour from home.
(End of Part One. Beer has something to do with it.)
Saturday, September 28, 2002
Mostly fine at first with one or two showers about, but widespread showers developing during the day with possible hail and thunder. Cloudy periods with moderate to fresh westerly winds tending gusty south to southwesterly. Maximum temperature: 14ºC/58ºF.
The Dreamboat still wants to go camping. He's down at the market as I write, buying more victuals.
Mt Disappointment, here we come.
I envied her belief. Try as I might, I could never get past the conviction that The Universe was too busy expanding or contracting or whatever the hell It's doing to be interested in finding someone's lost keys or playing celestial match-maker. Still, my friend was a truly lovely person and I guess if The Big U wanted to be mates with anyone down here in this mad-house she was as good a candidate as any.
Which leads me, quite naturally, to quiche.
It's a simple recipe. I've made it successfully many times in the past, but never before for the Dreamboat. It was supposed to be a surprise. It was meant to be my quiche-de-résistance. (OK, I know that was bad. Sorry.) And guess what? I totally stuffed it up.
It came out of the oven looking perfect. My culinary fuck-ups always do. It's only when you cut into them that you realise the true extent of the devastation. And in this case, when my knife sundered the surface of that beautifully-browned, aromatic filling, what I saw was... ooze. Actually, the consistency wasn't thick enough to merit the word 'ooze'. It was more along the lines of what you'd expect to see if quiches could contract e-bola.
I hastily quarantined it back in the oven and watched as all that liquid bubbled around the pastry and turned it into a gelatinous mess. It was almost as if the ingredients had conspired while my back was turned and passed a resolution saying, "To hell with being a boring old quiche. We want to be an all-in-one terrine!"
At that point, all my other cooking disasters paraded themselves before my eyes - the golden roast chickens with the fuschia-pink interiors, the fish pie that took five hours to make, the broccoli and blue cheese soup that bubbled away merrily on a stove that hadn't even been turned on (known ever afterwards in our household as 'The Soup That Lived') - and I experienced a moment of utter dejection. But then two things occurred to lift me out of my despondency: the Dreamboat (who is wise in these matters) retrieved a bottle of wine from his secret stash in the wardrobe, and I thought affectionately of my friend back in NZ. What was The Universe trying to tell me?
Perhaps It was suggesting that we should eat all our food raw. Or maybe It was saying, Bloody hell, just find the damn manual for the oven, read it and learn how to use the fucking thing properly, you stupid nong. Or was Its message something to the tune of, You're going camping in a place called Mt Disappointment and I thought you should get used to the feeling?
I don't think so. I don't believe The Universe was saying any of this at all. What It was really trying to get across was this: Home-delivery takeaways. Restaurants. Use 'em. So I bow my head in humility and acquiese to Its mighty will, because if The Universe has selected me to be Its new buddy, I'm not in any great hurry to risk pissing It off.
Friday, September 27, 2002
The Dreamboat's line of work involves moving around a lot. And my own involves going with him. (It also includes putting things into boxes, taking them out again and frenziedly cleaning whatever new dwelling we've just moved into. Plus I have the responsibility of ensuring there isn't one single pube belonging to the former tenants left in said dwelling because, as I mentioned in a previous post, I'm not overly fond of other people's pubes.) Somehow, maps are involved.
We've managed to accrue quite a collection. The addition of another map is always an occasion for rejoicing because it means either a) we're moving again or b) we're going camping. So when the Dreamboat came home the other night with not one but four new maps, I knew I was in for something special. I was right.
"I thought we could go camping this weekend," he announced. He had it all worked out too. "It'll be a perfect time to go because the AFL Grand Final is on this weekend and everyone in Melbourne will be either at the game or glued to their TV sets. Which means the roads won't be too busy."
I smiled at him, my face aglow with love and admiration. This encouraged him to give me more of the details. The destination: Mt. Disappointment. (Don't say it. Don't even think it.) The Meteorological Bureau's prediction: "Showers. Local hail. Fresh wind." After a period of discussion we eventually agreed that We. Don't. Care.
You see, we're experienced bush campers. We've been forged by hardship and rough weather into leathery old wise people. We think nothing of trudging off into snake-infested countryside for extended periods of time, sporting only a shovel, a roll of toilet paper and an expression of great intensity. We're the Real Deal.
Because we leave tomorrow morning, and because the Dreamboat is at work, and because I need to do something to justify my existence, I am in charge of procuring the necessary camp provisions. The list so far includes smoked salmon, bacon, eggs, strawberries, wine, and a little light jazz. Hell, I might even whip up a pretty wee quiche as a surprise. Or I might not.
I'll keep you posted.
Thursday, September 26, 2002
The Dreamboat arrives home to his Domestic Goddess after suffering through another gruelling day in the salt mines. Following obligatory hugs, kisses and murmurings of an amatory nature, the Dreamboat sniffs the air.
Dreamboat: What's that I can smell?
Domestic Goddess: Toast.
Dreamboat: Oh, I thought it was baking. Cakes, biscuits....
After a few moments of shocked silence, Domestic Goddess exits, laughing hysterically. Dreamboat exits with tears in his eyes.
Me: Oh my god, I think Rubber Goose Guy is playing Pink Floyd.
Dreamboat: Tell him to turn it up.
I don't think he was serious. But sometimes you just can't tell.
I'd been dreading this dinner ever since we received the invitation a month ago. I really didn't want to go. I'd met most of the other people who'd be there on a couple of previous occasions. They were all very nice - friendly, chatty and polite - but I didn't have a thing in common with them.
These people are young, ambitious and successful. They have careers. They wear designer label clothes. They rent gorgeous apartments in hip suburbs, with nary a Rubber Goose guy in sight. They're self-assured enough to complain when hairdressers fuck up their hair and the restaurant food isn't up to par. They are not the sort of people who would start blogs detailing the more nonsensical events in their lives and then invite anyone in the world with a modem to have a good laugh at their expense. The very concept would probably horrify most of them. And therein lies the danger for Yours Truly: very nice people who take themselves seriously make me very nervous. And when I'm nervous, I usually grab the nearest bottle of wine and get extremely intimate with its contents. From that point, as they say, it's usually all over.
Of course, it cuts both ways. I don't think I'd exactly made a glowing impression on them, either. I could tell this because we hadn't seen or heard from any of them for two months. I think they find me as incomprehensible as I do them, and I suspect that if it wasn't for the Dreamboat (who everyone loves because he's a bit closer to normal and far less likely to fall over on social occasions than I) we'd spend the rest of our lives with our paths never again crossing.
So it was with great trepidation that I stepped out of the cab and into the restaurant. Why didn't you just stay at home and let the Dreamboat go on his own? I pretend to hear someone ask. Tinned spaghetti on toast, is my reply. THAT'S why. Gluttony, apparently, is a Deadly Sin, but no-one ever says anything about its more beneficial side-effects - like how useful it can be in boosting a person's courage, for instance.
Anyway... here's the bit where I have to apologise for the let-down because the fact is, I had a great time. I didn't get myself into any state even resembling 'paralytic' (although I attribute this more to the fact that the restaurant ran out of chardonnay than any great self-control on my part). I did manage to have a couple of conversations that weren't total disasters. ("So, what are you doing with yourself these days?" "Oh, I'm busily pursuing a long-cherished dream to lead a totally directionless and sloth-filled existence." "Sloth... hey, that's a Deadly Sin, isn't it?" Ok, so that last sentence wasn't really part of the conversation. I made it up for comic effect.) And the most surprising thing of all: I can actually remember enough of the night to write about it.
I could tell everyone was astonished and thrilled by my good behaviour because at the end of the night we walked away with an invitation to a party and two tentative dinner engagements. One guy was so overwhelmed, he called me a 'sexy beast' as he hugged me goodnight. Mind you, he'd had a few.
So there you are. For once, I can actually relate a story involving my calamitous social life that has a happy ending. But fear not. I'm bound to screw it up next time.
Wednesday, September 25, 2002
You have only met four Mandarin-speakers in your life and, apart from a couple of phrases, you can't speak the language yourself. Nor are you ever likely to learn it.
So what's with all the foreign language stuff today, Niki? I don't know.
I've searched and searched until my pudgy fingers have grown tired of doing all the walking and have ducked into a health spa for a massage and medicinal cup of herbal tea, but nowhere on Amazon is there a facility for adding Vin Diesel to my Wishlist. C'est terrible.
I'm not talking about his movies; I'm talking about the living, breathing model. And I think it's pretty poor service on Amazon's part, considering the amount of money they've made from my drunken spending sprees over the last year. If they can't send Vin himself, they should at least be running around like headless chooks, trying to source me a double.
Let's get something straight: I don't fancy Mr Diesel. I don't have a crush on him, nor do I fantasise about performing acrobatic feats involving his bod and minimal amounts of clothing. I am strictly a one-Dreamboat woman. It's just that we have a corner of our living-room that's a bit bare and I thought the Vinster would fill it up quite nicely.
Of course, I'd need to make a few changes around the place: the installation of a cunningly concealed down-light in the ceiling, for instance, to reflect off his baldy head and provide that special, subtle ambience at dinner parties. Occasionally, we'd get him to do that cool thing with his eyes that he demonstrated to such good effect in Pitch Black. He'd be strictly ornamental, but every now and then I'd permit my weaker friends to stroke his arm and murmur, "Nice Vinnie. Who's a pretty boy, then?"
I just thought I'd share all that with you because Christmas will soon be here, and if I have to spend the festive season feeling depressed because I have a boring, empty corner in my living-room, my Noël isn't going to be particularly joyeux, now, is it?
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
But only for 24 hours.
Because Tuesdays are so important to my physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, let's just re-cap the situation after last Tuesday:
1. I'd missed the writing group deadline for the piece on 'Belonging'.
2. I was perishing from guilt, thinking my cursed Friday 13th post had forever ruined the love life of Michelle, my personal trainer.
I am pleased to announce that both situations are now under control. Michelle announced tonight that P, the object of her undying devotion and lust, had ceased to back-pedal and had merely gone to Sydney for a month to sort himself out. (Good on you, mate. If in doubt... run away.) And when he returns, suitably purified and in touch with his sacred chi essence, he will woo My Favourite Trainer will all the ardour she deserves. Or there'll be trouble. Capiche?
As for the writing group... well, that involved significantly more effort on my part. Aware that the group commenced its meeting at 2 pm, I pulled out all the stops and sat down at 1.50pm to write my masterpiece. Forty minutes later, the printer was whirring and a literary star was born. I arrived at the meeting at 2.45pm, presented my wee gem and that was that. Provided I can edit it slightly and present it on a floppy to the local community centre by Friday at the very latest, my work is going to enjoy a week of shop-front celebrity in North Melbourne towards the end of October. So book early, folks. Seats on all the major airlines are filling fast.
Monday, September 23, 2002
Anyway, the point is that I am greatly surprised. The reason is that, having just completed the rant about the Rubber Goose guy (see below), I received a visit from one of our apartment's former tenants. She called round to see if we were holding any of her mail. We'd spoken once on the phone but had never met. Until today.
Former Tenant: How do you like the apartment?
Me: It's great, except for...
Former Tenant: ...The noise from next door?
Me: (nods frantically, like those little toy dogs you still sometimes see in the back windows of cars)
Former Tenant: Just about drove us crazy when we lived here. Sometimes it would go until 6am. We asked the real estate agent to do something about it but nothing ever happened. We ended up calling the police a few times, but they could never get in. They had to buzz in the foyer to get access and the guy either couldn't hear them or he just ignored them. One morning, about 3am, I got up and saw him outside on his balcony. I waited for the song that was playing to stop and then said, "Excuse me. Would you please turn that music down?" He ignored me, walked back inside, shut the door and turned the volume up.
As a result of this encounter, I have learned something and decided something. I've learned that sometimes the timing of things is so spot-on it's frightening. And I've decided that I'll keep it legal but, one way or another, Rubber Goose guy is goin' down.
The Rubber Goose is different to the Nong Of The Week award because it... just is. For one thing, the Rubber Goose isn't limited to seven days. Nope, an RG recipient can confidently expect to wear the stigma indefinitely. Until the world ends, for instance - which, if we all end up going to war, could be real soon. So take some small comfort in that, you Rubber Geese people, because there shalt not be one whit of mercy shown ye on my pages whilst life as we knoweth it doth continue.
Who gets it first? Our neighbours. One of them in particular. Why? Because he's an asshole.
Back in the days when I dwelt in a real house, I had these romantic notions about living in a modern, gadget-laden apartment in the CBD of a large city. If only I did, I'd tell myself, I'd suddenly become cool and sophisticated. I'd develop a striking resemblance to Helen Hunt. My (then) partner would quip freely à la Paul Reiser (a bit of a resemblance wouldn't have gone amiss there, either). My dog would get cuter looking and not spend all his time swinging by his teeth from my lingerie on the washing line. We'd make friends with our quirky-but-lovable neighbours and wander in and out of each other's places at whim, drinking expensive coffee and swapping recipes for pesto.
A few years later, I found myself living That Dream with He-Who-Is-Its-Boat in Brisbane and then Newcastle. It didn't take long for me to realise that most of the cherished illusions I'd had about inner-city apartment living were, in fact, just that. I was never going to look like Helen Hunt, the Dreamboat was perfect as he was and people who live in apartments aren't interested in making friends with their neighbours. They're too busy guarding the little privacy that they have. Friendship is a luxury reserved only for people who have lots of space and big fences.
So for the last six months we've been living in a nice apartment in the Melbourne CBD, and we are sandwiched between two of the noisiest sets of neighbours in the space-time continuum. The people in number 7 aren't too bad - at least their noise comes primarily from the TV and is limited to the living-room. But the other one - the resident of number 17, recipient of the Rubber Goose - is a different story altogether. His noise emanates from a room that backs onto our bedroom. Which is why, for four out of those six months of occupancy, we've been sleeping on an air mattress in the spare room.
Our neighbours are all students. Quite well-off students, it would appear. The Rubber Goose guy has a penchant for playing Asian dance music and/or the tv and/or computer games until the wee small hours - usually around 2.00am. Last night, he finally shut it off at 5.30am. Yes, we've complained. Yes, we've put it in writing - twice. Yes, we've even banged the wall and made disparaging remarks about certain parts of his anatomy and their relationship to one of his hands. Nothing has worked, and I am now totally convinced that murderers are made, not born.
On more charitable days I just wish he'd get himself a fucking girlfriend so he could take all his crappy music round to her place and inflict it on her. On not-so-charitable days, I pray for something mildly debilitating to afflict him, like a middle-ear infection. Something that would render him too sensitive to noise to torture us with it. On bad days, I'm thinking 'gonads', I'm thinking 'tiny alien mutants with ravenous hunger', I'm thinking 'from the inside out'. And on days like today, when I've had roughly four hours' sleep, I'm rocking backwards and forwards on my haunches, crooning in a low, demented fashion and thinking 'Rubber Goose'.
Sunday, September 22, 2002
"When I was with - who was it? Oh, that's right, it was Hubby no. 1 - we were invited round to dinner by one of his work colleagues. Well, we went and had a meal with the guy and his wife. I ducked outside for a cigarette and the guy followed me out. I found out later on that the wife bailed up my hubby at the same time. It turns out they were into wife-swapping. After that it took me years to feel comfortable about accepting dinner invitations from people I didn't know very well.
"I just wanted to tell you so you know you're safe with us. Because... well you know, we're not into anything like that."
Oh, the humanity.
Saturday, September 21, 2002
My choice for Inaugural Nong is Rove McManus. If you've never heard of him (and if you live anywhere other than Australia there's no real reason why you would have), Rove is a diminutive chappie who hosts a talk show on Australia's Channel Ten and who Tries Very Hard. I have nothing against the guy personally. Actually, I admire and respect anyone who achieves any success at all as a stand-up comic. It must be one of the most difficult jobs in the world.
I can't even blame Rove for his truly awful website - with special focus on its credit to the designers who dress him and the photos that don't leave us in much doubt about his intended demographic - because it was probably put together by a crazed fan at Channel Ten.
What I can and do blame him for, though, is his horrendously bad interview of Joe Cocker the other night. It really has to be the worst interview I have ever seen in my life. There's Joe Cocker, right? Whether you like him or not, the guy's a legend. He's sitting across from you, tired and jet-lagged. He's not much of a talker. He prefers to sing, because that's where he shines. But then you have to open your trap and inflict questions like this on him:
"So, how great is it to be back in Australia?"
What the fuck is he supposed to say to that? "Well, it's not as great as being at home with my loved ones and looking at my bank balance, but it's heaps greater than having to sit in an airplane for hours and eating stuff that, even when you're flying first class, tastes like reconstituted shit."
Or how about this one? Rove has asked JC about what it was like performing at Woodstock. JC says a wee bit about it (he didn't exactly overflow with verbiage, 'tis true) and goes on to say he performed at the second Woodstock 25 years later. So Rove comes up with this little diamond:
"So, when you were there the first time, did you ever think you'd be performing there again, all those years later?" Or words to that effect.
Bloody hell. I really wish JC had said 'yes'. Or even something like, "Alas, Rove, my childhood dream of being a clairvoyant was cruelly dashed by my sudden rise to rock superstardom and the prodigious quantities of recreational drugs I ingested around that time. So, no."
If Rove wins Nong of the Week for this travesty, his next guest, David Cassidy, would have to be awarded Nong For The Rest Of Time. His seeming attempts to flirt with Rove were disconcerting enough, but his genuine surprise that we in the Antipodes appear to view him simply as 'that Partridge Family guy' and his subsequent assurances that he had, in fact, gone on to have a highly successful career in the US and Europe and was still a really, really famous person were nothing short of cringe-worthy.
An early nomination has been received for Nong Of Next Week: me. We have friends coming over for dinner tonight, and a birthday dinner at a restaurant on Wednesday. As both of these will be high-risk situations involving alcohol and my inability to handle it in large quantities, I thought I'd better get in early. Just in case.
Friday, September 20, 2002
My favourite Aussie four-letter word, without a doubt, is 'nong'. If you're not familiar with Aussie vernacular, a 'nong' is defined as a 'fool; idiot; simpleton; silly person'. Example: "President Nong asked a bunch of nongs Thursday for authority to 'use all means,' including military force if necessary, to disarm and overthrow 'that bloody great nong', Iraqi leader Saddam the Nong."
What a word - pithy, elegant, redolent with scorn. Very 'Happening'; very 'Now'.
Thursday, September 19, 2002
Guess this means I have to, like, post every day. And try to be...you know...like, funny.
Christ, the responsibility.
It was a parcel from the US. With a brief flare of delight I thought it must have been that Do-It-Yourself Orchestra Conducting Kit I ordered back in 1985 and still hadn't received. (For only US$20 they sent you a pair of white gloves and a baton. At least, until they were shut down indefinitely. But one can still hope.) Alas, it was not. It was a double CD set called Ten Years, cobbled together by a bloke called Kitaro. And no, I'm not linking to it.
For those of you not familiar with this CD, it's basically a collection of wafty, New-Age type music, predominately electronic. I guess the best way to describe Kitaro himself is 'a Japanese hippie'. And before I get flamed by thousands of his irate fans I have to say that he has accrued a large and devoted following over the years and makes a shit-load more money than I, so he is perfectly within his rights to waft around to his heart's content making shit-loads more.
I was into Kitaro's music around the same time I was interested in becoming (in the privacy of my own home) a Do-It-Yourself Orchestra Conductor. I'd actually been the proud owner of the very album that had just arrived in the post and was currently sitting quietly on my kitchen bench, assessing the decor. I'd loved it for all of about four days, grown bored with it and basically banished it to the back of my music collection. It languished there with other vinyl horrors like Dulcie Colon Plays Lennon and McCartney Hits On The Happy Hammond Organ (a birthday present from someone fated never to be my True Friend. I've changed the 'artist's' name because I can't remember it, but the album itself actually existed.). Eventually it was sold to a sinister second-hand music dealer, who probably made it into a fruit bowl or something.
So why had it come back to haunt me on that seemingly-innocuous Wednesday afternoon? I give you four words: Alcohol. Credit Card. Amazon.
One of these days when we're all sitting quietly with a glass of wine and some time to kill, I'll tell you a bit about the small town of Whyalla, South Australia, where I lived for thirteen months. At this point, suffice it to say that there wasn't much to do that didn't involve getting really, really drunk. And it was back in those days that I took up the new hobby of jumping on the Net, credit card nearby, and buying any old shit that I happened to be feeling nostalgic about at the time. Which was fine back then because I was working long hours and making more money than I knew what to do with, but isn't too wise now because my circumstances are totally different. However the hobby, like herpes, has refused to go away.
Well, I must've been feeling particularly fond of Kitaro on the night I ordered his CD, because 'Ten Years' is now only available second-hand. I played it through once, just for old times' sake. It's what our friend Jas calls 'sooooothing muuuusic'. The Dreamboat came home just as I was putting on CD Number 2. I'd called him and warned him what to expect, just in case he'd had one of those days when you feel that any old thing could push you Over The Edge. He listened briefly and then said, "Hmm. I see what you mean."
So once again it's been banished to the back of my music collection, where it wafts around trying to discuss Shinto principles with the Blue Nile, Aztec Camera and Hoodoo Gurus CDs up on the 'will-probably-be-listened-to-more-than-once-but-less-than-six-times' shelf. The Dreamboat has offered to eat my credit card next time he sees me clutching it while lurching towards the laptop with a funny look in my eyes. And my dream of being a Do-It-Yourself Orchestra Conductor slowly withers and dies a little more each day...
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
One minute, I'm happily throwing myself around in the car to a Godskitchen track on the way to the gym. The next, I'm staring at Michelle (my trainer) in horror, whispering, "You're kidding."
You see, it would appear that since Saturday, The-Guy-Most-Likely-To-Be-Michelle's-New-Beau has suddenly developed cold feet. He's backpedalling so hard he has knee-shaped bruises on his forehead and has probably caused incalculable damage to his Third Eye chakra. And, to reiterate, this is since Saturday, people. The day after Friday 13th, when I published a post that mentioned Michelle's budding new romance and made gratuitous use of the word 'sex' for the first time ever in this blog to see if it would improve my hit rating. (Bad Niki. You are a naughty, naughty pirate.)
Poor Michelle was so depressed she didn't even check to see if I was wearing a nicotine patch as instructed last week (nope). I gave her a look that said, "I feel your pain."
She gave me one back that said, "Oh, you think so, huh? Just you wait."
While I was busy executing a particularly unattractive set of squats and moaning like the damned soul I undoubtedly am, all those millions of superstition-laden genes inherited from my Irish parents kicked in. I wondered what if, against all the odds, this guy had spent part of Saturday afternoon innocently surfing the Net and had stumbled by accident onto what I'd written about him? Maybe he couldn't handle the notoriety of being mentioned by name on a public blog with a dedicated readership of two. All that pressure, etc. Or perhaps he just decided to make good use of his instant fame and took time out to find an agent and broker a deal with Universal Pictures. Who knows? I'm just hoping he saw the light and called Michelle last night with plenty of sweet nothings to whisper.
Incidentally, I had to crawl to the computer on hands and knees and then prop up my elbows on telephone directories to write this to y'all. Which kind of blows my theory about personal trainers hurting you more when they're happy. The truth of it is that they just hurt you all the time. Regardless.
Tuesday, September 17, 2002
"Wheeeeeeee!" quoth I, after executing five perfect triple somersaults in rapid succession, "I got comments! I got comments! I got comments!" Then I had to go and read them again because in all the excitement I forgot what they were actually about.
To be fair, the Dreamboat was the first to post a comment but my inexperience with pasting code meant his touching tribute to my all-round gorgeousness was sadly lost in the ether.
Anyway... I've decided that for today (the duration of which, as I write here in Melbourne, is precisely 43 minutes), Will can be my New Best Friend. Congratulations.
Must be short enough to be displayed on one (1) page in a local shop window and captivating enough to distract passers-by from such mundane enterprises as buying bread, robbing cash machines and wondering what really goes on behind the doors of the Lithuanian Club and why they never seem to be open. To be presented at Writing Group today (17 September) in time for final deadline of 27 September.
The Methodology If You're Niki:
1. Don't even think about writing anything until the morning of the day the piece is due.
2. Spend the weeks leading up to the deadline in activities designed to stimulate the creative faculty: getting drunk, watching movies, skiing in New Zealand. This, as all writers know, is called 'Conducting Research'.
3. Moan often to anyone who will listen about how vague and uninspiring the topic is, how stifling of the Muse it is to write to order and not even get paid, and how, once again, the Great Unwashed have no understanding of the mystical workings of the struggling artist's mind.
4. When questioned at Writers' Group meetings about progress, hint mysteriously that you have so many ideas percolating at present that you feel unwilling to commit to any one of them just yet and would prefer to give them a bit more time to ferment in the creative brew. This technique is called 'Work In Progress - Mind Your Own Fucking Business' and is very effective in quashing potential plagiarists.
5. Make use of a public medium (your blog, for instance) for self-deprecating remarks about your total lack of application and professionalism, while all the time implying that you're actually really cool.
1. A writing frenzy lasting four hours (so far). Good for anyone preferring the Spontaneous Combustion of Nervous Energy method of weight loss. (I'll let you know if it works.)
2. A short story about not belonging, set in the Outback and dealing with the persecution of a newly-arrived English boy by a group of local kids. The victim (an obnoxious little shit, by the way) finds a friend of sorts when one of his torturers discovers they share a passion for Holst's The Planets. (Damn. Now no-one will want to read it.) Unfortunately, the story is sitting at nearly 1,200 words and it's only two-thirds complete. Local retail vendors will no doubt object in boorish tones about the degree to which this masterpiece will obscure their windows. But stuff 'em, I say. Cultural philistines, the whole mob.
3. A second short story which, when lovingly removed from that burnished-by-brilliance sepulchre that is my brain and transcribed with sensitivity and grace onto my lap-top, will no doubt be a triumph of post-modern literature and a shining example for generations to come.
4. A missed Writers' Group meeting. I'm hoping that fast-talking and a bit of charm down at the Group's headquarters on Thursday may yet save the day.
So there you have it... the joys, the despair, the verbosity and incoherence that all go to make up the scintillating life of a spectacularly lazy wannabe writer. But I am an Artiste. And if Artistes want to end up living in rat-infested garrets with nothing but a piece of mouldy brie, a half-emtpy bottle of cheap Chianti and a malnourished rodent called Baal Rutherford W for company, that's their business. At least they have their Art.
Monday, September 16, 2002
I hope your birthday is wonderful. And despite what the Dowager Empress our mother says, don't cut your hair. If your genes are going to lead you in the same direction as Dad's, it will start to fall out soon anyway.
Thank you for letting us read your work. We will not be publishing "Dog Years", but we enjoyed it and would like to see more.
Isn't that sweet? That someone called 'autonotify' took the trouble to write to me on a Sunday when they really would've preferred to be in church?
Actually, they sound like nice people. But not nice enough to prevent me from taking them at their word and sending more depressing works of short fiction their way post-haste. If I was a publisher, my first rule of thumb would be: Don't Encourage 'Em. But give it time. These guys will learn.
Sunday, September 15, 2002
The Dreamboat and I sauntered across the road to the Queen Victoria Market today. As always, it was packed with people, noisy, colourful and vibrant. First stop was a kitchen shop, where the Dreamboat bought a couple of culinary-type things. I egged him on (no pun intended. Honest.) in the vain hope that by having more of the tools I'll somehow acquire more of the talent. My favourite item in the shop was a nasty-looking number called a Porcelain Citrus Reamer. I found this very funny, which just goes to show that you can take the girl out of the gutter, but you can't take its humour out of the girl.
Tonight's star viewing was the final DVD the Dreamboat rented on Friday night: The Evil Dead.
DB (halfway through the movie): Where are you going? You're not scared, are you?
Me: No, of course not. I just feel like having a cigarette.
(Ten minutes later)
DB: You won't have nightmares or anything from this, will you?
Me: No way. Horror movies don't bother me. I think I'll finish that cigarette. I didn't smoke it all the first time.
(Ten minutes later)
DB: Are you sure you're ok?
Me: Yeah, I'm fine. I just have to go to the loo.
DB: Shall I stop the movie?
Me (hastily): No, it's ok. Don't worry.
(Ten minutes later)
Me: I think I'll go and check my email.
Anyway... yesterday afternoon the Dreamboat lovingly packed a chilly bin (I can't relinquish my kiwi heritage enough to adopt the aussie term 'esky') and whisked me into our fiery chariot and out of Melbourne, due west.
Stopping only to bludge a couple of plastic cups from a nice man in a gas station (even I've managed to acquire enough of a civilised veneer to know that drinking wine straight from the bottle is Not A Good Look), we made haste to the Organ Pipes National Park. We arrived at 3.40pm. A sign told us the park gates would be shut at 4.30pm. The walk to the famed Organ Pipes took 20 minutes each way. We looked at each other. We walked to the nearest lookout point (all of 3 minutes from the car-park). We read some information at the Information Centre. We boarded the fiery chariot once more and headed back to Melbourne.
Once home, we unloaded the car and hauled the chilly bin across the road to the Flagstaff Gardens. The place was thronging with people who'd all come to witness and be enthralled by the Australian National Tree Climbing Championships (I kid you not). We managed to find a quiet spot away from the excitement and got down to the serious business of putting away a bottle of cab. merlot and eating all sorts of yummy cheeses. We sat there until it grew dark and had a great time, although I was twice distracted by tree-climbers who were quite happy to void their bladders against a nearby oak in my direct line of sight. First you piss on 'em and then you climb 'em. Mr Freud would've had a field day.
We finished off the night by watching Chinatown. Yes, it's a noir classic. Yes, it's very well made and well-acted and yes, it definitely stands the test of time. But the most extraordinary thing about this masterpiece in my opinion is that Jack Nicholson almost-but-not-quite manages to appear good-looking. Well done, Jack! I was impressed.
Saturday, September 14, 2002
A: So women who're in happy relationships get bigger boobs. I mean, just look at us.
Me (considering my own case): You don't think spending a couple of years drinking too much, eating too much and avoiding all forms of unenjoyable exercise has anything to do with it?
A: Naaah. My other friend S was a total pea-stick her whole life until she met her boyfriend. Flat as a board. Now she's just gone up to a D cup.
Makes you wonder about those little pouches of fat people sometimes get just below their knees. Sickos!
Friday, September 13, 2002
Rabbit-Proof Fence - what a movie. Check it out.
Bowfinger - 'Chubby Rain'. Ha ha!
The Evil Dead - yet to be seen
Chinatown - ditto
No, I'm not comfortable with the term 'weird' when analysing this selection. We just have eclectic tastes.
Good on you, mate(s). No matter what anyone of my gender says... no matter how much feminist rhetoric they shove down your throats, no matter how PC they make out they are... it still secretly makes their day when someone toots at them while they're walking down the street.
Just one more of those little things that make the female gender incomprehensible to everyone including themselves.
I've also discovered that a trainer's general state of physical and emotional well-being is a crucial factor in determining how much suffering they are likely to inflict on their clients. The happier they are, the more it hurts. When Mike (the Dreamboat's trainer) became a new father, the Dreamboat could barely walk or use his arms for three days. So it was with sinister convulsions in the bowels that I listened to young Michelle announce she has fallen in love.
The tiny pink diamond embedded in her front tooth glittered with a malicious glee all of its own as she forced me to do unspeakable things on the rowing machine and the exercise bike. In between making me run up and down stairs while carrying lumps of lead spuriously called 'medicine' balls, she waxed lyrical about how gorgeous Peter is and what a lovely time they had the day before. By the time I'd donned the kick-boxing gloves and was batting weakly at the padded things strapped over her hands, I was really starting to dislike Peter. Finally, when she had me running halfway across the gym and back, I decided enough was enough and stopped before I had a cardiac arrest.
My Catholic upbringing kind of re-asserted itself at this point. I've often heard it said that people resort to religion when they know they're dying, and I was overcome with a sudden urge to make a confession. So I gasped out something that I know I'm going to regret for the rest of my life: "I'm in this state because I smoke."
The gym suddenly became as quiet as a morgue. Fit, healthy, non-smoking types stared at me with distaste. If they'd been wearing long skirts, they would've gathered them in one hand and swept them away from me in repugnance. Michelle gave me a heart-wrenching look of betrayal. And, because I was feeling marginally better, I decided I'd better go into damage control.
"I bought some patches a month ago. I just haven't started using them yet."
The air in the room thawed slightly. Michelle gestured for me to continue running. As I lurched back to her, I said loudly, "And I've got low blood pressure. Makes me dizzy sometimes."
It didn't work. She fixed me with a stern gaze and said, "Next week I expect to see you in here wearing a patch." And later on, when the Dreamboat wandered in all unawares, she said the same thing to him.
Thursday, September 12, 2002
1. whether or not anyone reads this blog and/or finds it mildly interesting
2. where I'm going to be living in six months time
3. my dwindling finances
4. those dangly bits swinging from my upper arms
5. how many brain cells I've killed off in the last year
6. the fact that Sept 11 has passed and I only watched 20 mins of TV tribute
7. my conviction that I'm going to come back as a virus in another life and the entire human race will band together to eradicate me from the face of the earth because I'm so icky
8. what bloody generation I belong to, being too young for Baby Boomer and too old for Gen X
9. when the Dreamboat's order for Forbidden Planet will finally arrive
10. why it takes me three times longer than anyone else to cook a meal.
Nope. Bugger all that. I'm gonna finish my cup of Earl Grey tea, smoke a life-affirming cigarette and write me a fucking masterpiece!
Wednesday, September 11, 2002
Actually, that was wishful thinking. But you know what I mean.
Now I'm all in favour of giving kids the best opportunities for success as they scurry around with the rest of us earwigs under that big ole rotten log called Life, and I think it's great that someone is trying to do something about what is becoming a serious social problem. However, I'm also beginning to think that our kids are in danger of becoming serious wussies and the Education system with its ludicrous obsession with Political Correctness should take its fair share of blame. Whatever the case, I couldn't resist having a dig at some of what Mr Lillico has to say:
Boys' employment patterns and lifestyles are changing worldwide. The jobs that males have traditionally done are disappearing with the advent of technology and labour saving devices. Girls occupy the vast majority of front line positions in fast food outlets as boys don't seem able to adapt to the interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence required to deal with customers in an effective manner.
Yep, 'front line positions in fast food outlets' have always been at the pinnacle of economic and social prestige. And now those smarmy bitches are stealing all the best jobs, damn their eyes.
Some excerpts from the hallowed Recommendations:
11. Classroom lighting and colour need to be reviewed to make lighting less bright - with fluorescent lighting used rarely. More subdued lighting results in more settled behaviour by both girls and boys and provides an atmosphere in which boys are more able to talk about their feelings and discuss emotive and other difficult or relationship issues. The use of colour rather than black and white at the front of a classroom in terms of blackboards and whiteboards is more relevant and effective in getting boys to watch the front and retain information provided.
Well fuck me, Messrs Plato, da Vinci, Beethoven and Churchill - so that's how you guys managed to do so well.
16. Boys need empowerment in schools. They need to have a say in what is going on around them. If they have no say, they disengage, as it is someone else's rules - not theirs. They should play a part in deciding school, classroom and home rules. Student councils need to have widened powers and become the spokespeople for students.
"We demand that all art classes henceforth include a compulsory module on tagging."
17. Boys need to reconnect with nature. It is important for boys to do the type of activities men were designed for - hunting, fishing, crabbing, camping, etc. as these give boys confidence that they can do something. It teaches them that they can provide for the table - fish, game, etc., and this brings out the hunter/gatherer instinct in boys. At every opportunity they must be challenged by nature and come to understand the forces of nature and where they fit in the universe.
Mandatory military service from the age of five is a good idea too.
22. Parents and teachers should never shame boys. The shaming language "How could you!" should change to "What has happened?" so as not to initiate the shame response. Once the shame response is activated, boys clam up and disengage from conversation with a corresponding deterioration of the relationship between them and the adult concerned.
"Oh my! What has happened here, young Manson/Bin Laden/Khan?"
25. The "Boys are toxic" myth needs to be exploded. Many boys are viewed suspiciously by shopkeepers and the general public and receive the message that society frowns on them because of their gender. Many boys are spoken to in a very derogatory and rude manner by business proprietors and this must be tackled.
"Johnny, I totally understand that your gender and that of the other Devil's Muthafuckas had nothing at all to do with the gang-rape of my daughter and the subsequent torching of the corner shop I'd run for 25 years."
28. Boys must be given the keys to communicate and write about their feelings and emotions. They will learn to communicate feelings when the important adults in their lives do the same - especially males (Fathers and Teachers). Boys basically write to communicate information and fact. They must learn to be more expansive in their writing and attempt to communicate feelings as girls tend to do in their writing.
Before: "Tommy Gooberwitz is a dirty fag." After: "Tommy Gooberwitz is a dirty fag who will blow anyone behind the bike sheds for 20 bucks and I hate his guts. His poxy face makes me puke. Which is why I kept my eyes closed the whole time."
32. Lessons in schools need to be more dynamic to capture boys' interest at the beginning of the lesson.
It doesn't matter too much about the girls' interest because we all know they'll end up in front-line positions at fast food outlets where knowledge of Advanced Trigonometry isn't usually called for.
* People who haven't drunk alcohol for 3.5 days
* People who consider the release of 'Dig It Up' by the Hoodoo Gurus to be a turning point in the 80s
* People who spend a fucking fortune at the gym but still have corrugated thighs
Monday, September 09, 2002
Thurs 5 Sep: Skiing. All day. But my confidence dissolves when I realise that the soft, fluffy stuff I threw myself into with gay abandon on the first day has been replaced by hard, painful stuff and the 'high performance' skis I hired are conspiring to keep me on my back for the duration. Disheartened, I remove myself from the slope and indulge in a couple of medicinal cigarettes until it's time for my lesson. The ski instructor I have this time is a veteran of 20 seasons and, after watching me fall over while trying to extricate myself from the tow, is obviously not very impressed by my ambition to kill myself and take everyone else in a kilometre radius with me. He suggests we go back to the learners' slope and start from scratch. After two hours I've improved enough to a) stay upright, b) turn when I'm supposed to and c) stop without making it necessary to take off my skis and check for broken bones. At the same time, the Dreamboat is also having a lesson and I watch him skim effortlessly down what appear to me to be impossible slopes. I get exactly 30 minutes to revel in my new-found prowess before it's time to hit the road back to Christchurch.
Upon arrival back at the Dowager Empress' castle, we have just enough time to shower and change before the cab arrives to take the Dreamboat, myself and our friends Peter and Andrea off to dinner at Annie's for a night that promises to inflict lasting damage on our livers. Good old Annie's. It never disappoints. After a terrific meal we head across the way to the Dux de Lux until the place unceremoniously shuts down around us. We have no recourse but to slope off to The Jolly Poacher, a truly evil establishment that's open 24 hours and has Kilkenny on tap - which makes it all too easy to sit until 5.30am drinking and talking shite. And that's exactly what we spend the rest of the night doing.
Fri 6 Sep: A VERY quiet day. The Dreamboat is particularly subdued after the previous night's revels. We venture out for a couple of hours to visit Andrea's art studio. (I'd dearly love to link to her site so you can all be mightily impressed and slaughter your credit cards in the rush to purchase her outstanding work, but it seems to be down at present. Her exhibition opens on October 25 at the Te Pani Sculpture Gardens in Christchurch, if you happen to be around at that time.) We return home to the Dowager Empress who endears herself to the Dreamboat by cooking the sort of meal he often longs for and never gets at home. It's difficult to concentrate on my own dinner, what with all the deep sighs and lingering, melancholy looks coming from his side of the table.
Sat 7 Sep: My brother Steve and his partner Jane come over for a couple of hours and we sit around chewing the fat and discussing our favourite comedians. The Dowager Empress' eyes glaze over after we finish with Billy Connolly. She's never heard of Jack Dee, Bill Bailey and Eddie Izzard and seems content to merely sniff in refined disapproval at the more outrageous stuff. After they leave, Baby Brother Keen shows up and whisks the Dreamboat and me away to his own castle in Teddington - a beautiful, rambling farmhouse set on grounds that creak under the weight of all the fruit trees, roses and flowers they support. We finally get to see the Super 8 film he shot when we took him camping in the Outback last year and he gives us a copy of 'Tailormade' - a film he co-produced that has been doing the film-festival circuit in NZ.
As this is our last night before flying back to Melbourne, we've arranged to go to dinner with Keen, his partner Liz, my sister Jo and her husband Andrew. And, as this is my family we're talking about, things don't go exactly smoothly in the organisation department. However, the fourth restaurant we try seems willing - nay happy - to take us on and we dine sumptuously at The Honeypot Cafe (where, I have just learned, the Christchurch chapter of BDSM NZ goes for monthly dinners, didn'tcha know!). Our waiter is extremely cool and doesn't seem to mind that we skip the 'just-arrived-and-sitting-with-decorum' phase of the evening and head straight to the 'loud-and-loose-and-shit-that-bottle's-empty-already' segment. Keen and Liz quite sensibly leave after the meal while the Dreamboat and I head back to Jo's and Andrew's, where Yours Truly embarks on a protracted and truly embarrassing series of revelations concerning some very bad stuff that happened while living in Sydney a couple of years ago. You might know what I mean when I say it's the sort of stuff that should just be quietly forgotten - not really suitable for broadcasting to your family at 3am on a Sunday after drinking lots of wine. As a consequence, my sister is now convinced I should see a counsellor and has threatened to give me a very serious talk on the phone sometime in the near future.
Sun 8 Sep: Awaken with one of the worst hangovers of my life. Rise from my scented bower briefly, frighten the Dowager Empress with my ravaged expression and then return to bed. Stay there until one hour before we have to be at the airport. Shower, pack, head out to airport, suffer through looks of mingled sympathy and amusement from sister and brother-in-law, hug and kiss everyone goodbye and board plane for bumpy flight that keeps me in a state of hungover hysteria for the rest of the day. Come home to flowers and notes from the friends who stayed in our apartment while we were away. The warm fuzzies that this engenders last only as long as my decision to ring the Dowager Empress to let her know we got home safely. Sit through long lecture about drinking habits. Whining attempts at self-justification such as, 'But I was on holiday and it was the only hangover I had the whole time and besides, the Dreamboat was hungover after Thursday night and you didn't say anything to him," have only minimal effect. Dowager Empress gives stern warning not to 'blow it' with the Dreamboat by being what we in Oceania like to call a 'complete drop-kick'.
1. My entire family loves the Dreamboat
a) just as much as - if not more than - I do
b) more than they love me (totally understandable, given that at my time of life, they're prepared to worship anyone willing to take me on)
2. It was a terrific holiday, and for the first time since I left Christchurch four years ago I could see that the place actually has a few redeeming qualities
3. Having to wait an entire year for the next ski season totally sucks
4. Great though it is to catch up with people who've known you for years, it has its down-side as well - particularly when they start telling your partner about how you could never get out of bed early, even when you were five years old and how your work-ethic has always contained cavalier elements
So that's it... all up to date. I'm tossing up about going to the Writing Group today because I still haven't managed to dredge up any inspiration about the whole 'Belonging' topic. If you were to ask my family about it, the clarion call of "A.A.!" would probably be the response.
As we all know, it's THAT anniversary tomorrow. I'm not sure what (if anything) to say about it. More then...
So it went something like this:
Sat 31 Aug: Arrive in Christchurch at 12.30 am. Get home about 1.45am. Go to bed. Wake up. Talk to mother and speak to assorted siblings on phone. Mess around until night time, then take Dreamboat and Dowager Empress to dinner at the Pescatore (one of NZ's top ten restaurants). Spend most of the meal quietly freaking out over the price, but it was very tidy tucker nonetheless.
Sun 1 Sep: While away a large part of the day in supermarkets buying food and cooking implements. Cook up a storm and cart it round to my sister's place, where the entire family is congregating for a night of serious noise-making. Warn the Dreamboat yet again about the amount of racket my family can produce en masse. Presents are distributed, food and drink are consumed, decibel records are broken and a good time is had by all.
Mon 2 Sep: Leave for Mt Hutt. Arrive early afternoon, check in to our accommodation and take a quick drive up to the mountain. It's snowing and low cloud limits visibility on the dirt road to a scary degree. On arrival at the ski lodge, Yours Truly stares at the slopes and experiences the sort of abject terror only previously inspired by the thought of air travel. The Dreamboat is dangerously euphoric. We drive back down to the digs and I make friends with Sukey, the 5 year old daughter of our hosts. The adrenalin still hurtling through my system gets used up in a manic game resembling charades. Not once does Sukey remark on the interesting way my legs are trembling. Dinner at Lisah's Restaurant - very nice. We decide on an early night which is somewhat thwarted by the loud whoops and drunken conversations of the six retired Japanese in the room next door.
Tues 3 Sep: Skiing. All day. After two private lessons with a lovely girl who gives me way too much praise ("I can't believe you've never been on skis before." Yeah, well, you did have to show me how to put them on, remember? "You're a natural." At falling over. "It's incredible." That you haven't managed to break your neck yet.), I get over-confident and forget everything she's taught me - like how to turn and how to stop. In the end, I come up with an ingenious way of achieving both, which involves leaning back until I fall over and then sliding down the slope to the bottom while watching dozens of infants flying past me at the speed of light, perfectly balanced and in their element. The Dreamboat, of course, is somewhere up near the top of the mountain, skiing down with slightly more control and a great deal more panache than I. People comment on our freakish hats so often that we become convinced we're the coolest people on the mountain. I am certainly the wettest. After a shower and a few therapeutic beers, we have dinner at the Steel-Worx Restaurant. Food, setting and service are faultless. I can't recommend the place enough. By this stage, I'm so tired I can't even finish my wine - possibly a world first. We go home, and fall into unconsciousness.
Wed 4 Sep: The ski field is closed due to gale-force winds, so we go for a day trip up to Arthur's Pass - stopping on the way to show the Dreamboat my favourite place in the world, Castle Hill. By the time we get to Arthur's Pass it's pouring - the rain is travelling in huge horizontal sheets. Makes me realise how much I've missed the place. We have lunch and drive back. Half an hour out of the Pass the rain has stopped, but behind us the mountains are wreathed in dramatic cloud formations and it's breathtakingly beautiful. We go back to the Steel-Worx for dinner. We have a beer after the meal and our hosts from the lodge wander in. It's Shino's birthday, so I buy her a drink and the Dreamboat and I go home to sit outside and polish off a few more beers while listening to the peaceful snores of our Japanese friends next door. (One of them likes the Dreamboat so much he's given him his email address.)
Nominated for stuff in the 2004, 2005 and 2006 Australian Blog Awards.
This means I should be taken very, very seriously. You hear me? Very.
meditate on this, Noddy
Hurley: Maybe the dog can find water. I mean, dogs can find pot and bombs, so I'm sure they can find water.
Created by JJ Abrams, Jeffrey Lieber and Damon Lindelof
Niki (Your Correspondent): a shy, retiring, sweet sort of soul who wouldn't say boo to a goose. Born in NZ of Irish parents, jumped across the ditch to Oz in 1998. Hates cabbage and has always craved a life of complete obscurity. So far, this wish has been granted. Dammit.
Karratha, Western Australia ... again.
from the cheap seats
"This person is not a team player."
High school Biology teacher
"... an idiot."
The Dowager Empress
"... powerfully irritating."
A former spouse
"... dangerously mischievous."
current attention grabbers
Curling up with:
The View From the Valley of Hell
Drowning out the world with:
Your Favourite Driving Songs
Staring fixedly at:
Directed by Jonathan King
Trying hard to:
Reassure The Cat about The Dog
other recommended blogs
Bad News Hughes
John Howard: P.M.
S.A.F.E. (Saving Animals From Euthanasia)
Bert Is Evil
Ask Sister Rossetta
the good old days
webrings and cliques
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