Thursday, January 31, 2008

Driva Man...And Quitting Time

Handed my resignation in today. Frankly an anticlimax. My Glorious Leader has been promoted and is moving on to bigger and better things, and couldn't care less. Still, wheels of industry, tomorrows another day, only a fool looks for reason in the four chambers of the human heart...

And in other exciting news Knickers found my mallet and adjustable wrench in a box of camping gear. She deserves dubious credit for this. Last time we went camping she picked me up from work on the way and so had to pack the car herself. I had placed the tools in the 'for packing' pile but for esoteric reasons she decided it was best to hide them safely in the shed instead. I'd been half-heartedly searching for them for several months now.

Heading for Port Elliot Caravan Park for a week of seaside camping tomorrow. Ten adults, ten kids, no dogs.

Can't wait.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Electronic Death of Len McCreddy

Len died mowing the back lawn
Gwen found him in the shade of the cotoneaster
With the dog licking his face
And the Victa still humming near the roses.

The funeral was held the next Thursday
The kids and grandkids flew in from the east coast
Then there were the blokes from Clipsal
And Alf and Peter from the RAAF.

They all pitched in over the following weeks
While Gwen signed the appropriate forms
Sitting hunched at the kitchen table
Posting them on her way to the butcher.

The forms caused a brief virtual flurry
Like a car mototing along a dirt road in summer
'Len McCreedy 15/08/1921' rose, swirled through the ether
And settled down quietly again.

His name was removed from the credit card
The veteran's pension now went to Gwen
And the rego for the old Falcon
Signed over to the youngest son.

Gwen lacked the strength to pull the wheel
And the son had lost everything

When his wife threw him out
After she found out about the other woman.

And the lady from the insurance company
Entered 'deceased' into the status field
Took her jacket off the back of the chair
And went to join the gang for coffee.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

You Can't Run From the Vomit

Something went horribly wrong last night. I was dreaming I was operating on some giant, zombie, possum. Twisting its brain with a screwdriver to restore a spark of life. But every twist generated a stab of pain to my own belly.
'You're twisting the wrong way,' a disembodied voice announced.
I woke up. The pain in my belly was nausea. I galloped to the toilet and it receded somewhat. I burped several times and opened a window to allow cool air in while I paced outside the toilet door.
I tried to give myself the pep-talk. It's not going to go away. Get in there, get your fingers down your throat, vomit, feel better. 123 go.
Nothing happened. What's wrong with me? I, rather oddly, have always prided myself on my ability to tackle nausea head on. Yet there I was, sipping water, burping and walking. They don't fix it! I screamed at myself, they prolong the suffering. Yet every time last night I tried to dodge it. 12:20, 1:50, 4:00 & 6:00am. During the last period I lay on the back couch trying to read Akira. I don't recommend it for those in a delicate state of mind.

Knickers has taken the day off work and I have spent it in bed, a complete dribbling mess. Only now the Noodle has retired for the day am I starting to come good and thinking about having some toast.

And ice-cream.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Public Holiday

Lingered at a mate's house this afternoon. Nick's wife, Kelli, is away at a wedding and Knickers was working so it was like a single Dad's convention. We filled up a plastic tub for the kids to play in and sat in the sun drinking sweet cups of tea and eating doughy, sugary delights from the bakery. Then the Noodle disgraced himself by pissing in the pool.
Anyway the day passed nicely but all the supermarkets were shut by the time I went to purchase groceries. Had to content myself with milk from the servo.
Being father of the year I left the Noodle in the car (in the shade, in plain sight) while I grabbed it and made my way to the counter. Getting there I was confronted by the Canadian girl that works there (or possibly Russian) who was hiding her face behind an 'out of service' placard.
'I am a robot,' she chanted. We stared each other out for a second then she burst out laughing. 'I just go a bit crazy sometimes,' she admitted, 'I've just had like twenty people in here.'
Say something absurd back, I urged myself, reward this person for being different.
'So were they some servo tour group. Coached around Adelaide's historic servos?'
'No. They were all separate.'


'Just the milk then?'
'Yes, just the milk please.'


Sunday, January 27, 2008

I Did Just See Him Riding By

Where do you go bearded bogan?

Bearing a beer on your battered bicycle,

With your black jeans and Blundstones,

Where do you go bearded bogan?


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Conversation between Knickers and the Noodle after she discovered our online account had been phished.

Knickers: Fucking, fuck fuckers.

Noodle: Fuck.

K: Oh God, did he just say that?

N: Fuck.

K: Fox, did you say fox Noodle?

N: Fuck. Fuck, fox, fuck.

K: That's right. Fox.

N: Fuck.

K: Fox.

N: Fuck.

K: Shit.

N: Fuck.

K: Aghhh. Stop saying that.

N: (Pointing) Fuck.

K: ...(Sobs)

So his communication is really coming along. Not really at the point where he can express 'a certain whimsy, a sweet melancholy as if the summer breeze stirs memories beyond reach or ken', but he could certainly make a shearer blush.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bayonet Bed

I went through a ten year phase where I was couldn't sleep on my tummy with my arms cradling the pillow.
I had this fear of knives, spring-loaded beneath the bed, shooting up through the mattress and my armpits, leaving me like an insect pinned in a display cabinet.
I have no idea where the fear came from, or even when I stopped worrying about it.
Last night it came back.

What could this portend?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dad & Boof

Boof’s heifer was passed helping

She’d struggled too long

Birthing her dead calf

And now was dying herself.

Dad fetched Granddad’s ancient 22

And some short round ammunition

They debated the kill spot

And decided on the forehead whorl


The bullet ricocheted off the dense bone

The cow lowed in pain





Ten bullets expended

Till Boof finished her with a sledgehammer.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

He's So Cute, When He's Sleeping

Knickers and I just crept in to say goodnight to the Noodle as she didn't get to see him today, and I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to see him curled up.
She attempted to check on his temperature (always seemingly under the assumption he will die of exposure or overheating under Dad's care) and he snorted and rolled over like a drunk gaoler being fleeced of his keys by the dashing protagonist in an Errol Flynn film. We assumed appropriately panicked / guilty expressions till he dropped back to sleep.

But talking of Dad's and caring for little un's; I am convinced that there would have to be at least one pair of identical twins walking around with the wrong names because Dad bathed them when Mum went out, got confused about which was which and just had a stab at it.

Cut my nails before training last night. After I had a toenail folded back on itself a few months ago I have taken extra care to keep them short. Cut them to the quick this time though, and discovered that I now can't:

  • Pick my nose
  • Open a can of soft drink
  • Pick paper off the table
  • Remove my watch


Monday, January 21, 2008

Reading = Murderer

Knickers and I went to Centrelink today to see what assistance they could provide when she goes on maternity leave for the wee unborn one (Today's Gut Feeling: boy) and I have started full-time study.
We dropped the Noodle off for some quality time with his Nana on our way to Marion. Turned out neither of us knew where it was exactly, but Knickers had a vague feeling in her waters that it was upstairs somewhere. We wandered around unsuccessfully for a while before phoning Knicker's mum (Nana) for the address. Then we went to Angus & Robertson to look up a street directory.
Books, pretty books everywhere, I'll just have a little look at this one...time passed...Knicker's very cross little face intruded between me and the book, announcing she was leaving.
It's all about symbolism with her; my being distracted symbolized disinterest in the task, which in turn symbolized a lack of commitment to my family, meaning you don't love me or your children!
Several hasty but heartfelt apologies later we were back on task. To re-affirm my commitment I surreptitiously tore the wrapping off a directory in Target (they had sold out at A&R, apparently) and located Centrelink. It's in the corner behind Bunnings if you ever need to save your marriage.
Certainly, in retrospect, the fault was all with my wife. Don't take me into a bookshop, don't talk to me when the tv is already talking. Simple rules for life.
Depression, frustration and futility rolled wavelike over us as we joined the queue. Actually, for my sins, I joined the queue. Knickers went and got us drinks from the deli. The colours are bright and cheerful, the office open plan but nothing can hide the grinding tediousness of the place, for staff and clients alike. I tried to amuse myself by seeing how many appearances I could count for each model in the brochures. Found multiples of all except Asian girl/Red top.
Civilizations rose and fell, The Democrats regained the balance of power, Carlton won the flag, I got served.
And that made it all worthwhile. With Austudy and Parenting Payments it looks like, once Knicker's leave is all used up, I can finish up at the call centre. Words can not describe...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Diying for the Fans - Big Shout out to Baz

Dad has never been much of a handyman, maybe he reckons you don't have to be if you can afford to pay for someone to fix something. Always struck me as odd though, being that he grew up on a farm in western NSW.
Granddad taught him to fight and drink and ride horses and maybe that was enough. It has certainly seen him through. Not so much the horses...or the drinking.
Anyway there were projects, usually gardening, that Dad embarked upon and his sons were duly dragged out of the house to help on Saturday afternoons, away from books or old western matinées in which Indians were still the bad guys.
With Dad there is only one way to do anything, his way (didn't see that coming did you), so our helping usually only took a minute. I'm sure he resolved to control himself, but he could only stand to watch us hacking wildly with a splitter, circling the wrong way with the mower or not putting our back into the mattock for a few seconds before hustling in to 'just show' us how to do it properly.
His just showing usually ended with him finishing the task with Ben and I relegated to support crew, standing bored and idle and wondering if he'd notice if we slipped away back to the cool of the house.
So I didn't leave home with a swag of tips that would make any of the nutters from The Block sick with envy. Or just sick if there were any justice.
Since owning a (massive debt on a small) home I've attempted to remedy this, undertaking tasks around the house, purchasing tools as and when required and slowly building up to the 'finding arse with one hand' category.
Electrickery, however, remains an enigma. Enter my long-suffering brother-in-law Baz. While not technically an electrician I can confidently state, without any hyperbole, that; there is nothing this man cannot do!
He spent over half the day here today; swearing, muttering to himself, overcoming all obstacles and installing three fans for us. I took on the important and familiar role of holding the ladder and passing things.

Thanks Barry, from a grateful nation.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

An Ordinary Love

I am unshaven with the sweat from training

Still wet on my skin

I park on the west end of Hindley Street.

Conscious of the scolding

My wife would supply for not parking closer

But I like to walk

She would also chide me for

Not erecting the sun shield

I can never be bothered

I leave a message on her phone

Saying I’m getting my watch fixed

Which I intend to do

But I really want to buy a book of poetry

I try to reckon in my head

If this is a white lie

And what her response will be

My phone jangles

Her voice is lazy

‘Come home. Let’s do something.’

I hesitate in the bright sunshine

Dad bought me the watch

It has needed fixing for a while

But Imprints is closer


I buy two collections on the fly

(And later will regret only one)

March back to the car

Fast as my thongs will allow


What is this ordinary love?

Sharing my head with another

Looking through her eyes

Conscious of her every whim

And fancy?


Friday, January 18, 2008

Just Another Bloody Arts Graduate Working in a Call Centre

Made my second call just after eight this morning to tell a 'valued' borrower she was $0.78 over her limit (on a $250k loan) and we were going to charge her a fee unless she brought the loan up to date.

Spent half an hour explaining to another borrower we were charging him default interest on his zero balance loan because his limit had reduced to a positive amount. So he wasn't being charged on the balance but the difference between his balance and the limit. That was for $0.20 precisely.

Another borrower was leaving overseas and demanding to know why his documents, of which there were no record, hadn't been faxed to a branch he couldn't remember the name of, by a staff member who was on holidays.

The rest of the working day was marked only by dreariness.

A week ago I was philosophical about my job...roof over our head, a penny saved, pain don't hurt...
Today I was one sobbing divorcee, sullen teenager or rambling geriatric from going postal.

Tonight Knickers felt the wee unborn one (gut says: still a girl) move for the first time.
And all is well with the world.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ten Years Gone (Good-bye to All What?)

Curling photos of us

Raising cups of Cusquena

Or glasses of Guinness

Put away in boxes, in cupboards,

Cheap necklaces of beads

Long since broken,

My Russian ‘McLennin’s’ t-shirt

A forgotten rag.

Piece by piece

We have ceased to be travellers

Becoming other ‘ers’ by degrees

Workers, homeowners, grocery shoppers

Sunday morning gardeners and DIY’ers.

No more riding on tops of buses

Or the luggage racks of trains.

Or horses or camels or scooters.

Just packing the station wagon

For the Yorke Peninsula

Or my sister’s in Victoria

And dinners with old friends

Trying to remember who we were.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Better Offer

Up and, unwashed, drove to the Shell on Belair Road this morning to get a paper for the university offers.
There I am 'Myninjacockle 463912' (flick, flick, flick) - Business Studies...what? Oh, wrong number. Education Middle/Primary Graduate (I love that part) Entry. You little beauty.

I was content to bask in the reflected glory beaming from the small grey newsprint for a while, say the next two months, but ever practical Knickers had to go and ask some pretty fundamental questions:
  • How are you going to get to Mawson Lakes?
  • Will you be able to keep up your hours at work?
  • If not, how are we going to pay the mortgage?
So now I'm experiencing a mild panic attack. I have to admit to myself that my familiar 'she'll be right' approach has let me down in the past. Usually when the approach wasn't backed up with any sort of plan but hey, best laid plans, silver lining, Monty you terrible...

I don't know what a teacher does. What if you need to go to the toilet and lunch is an hour away? I'm so confused.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Road to No Chillies

Knickers and I were preparing dinner last night and I went to the backyard to pick some chillies, accompanied by the Noodle.
Again trying to involve him and make him feel helpful I passed him half a dozen and told him to take them to Mum.
Yes part of me was thinking it would be funny if he attempted to eat one.
I wasn't sure how he'd go, but he understood perfectly. Mum needed chillies. So he clutched them in his tiny fists and tottered back up the garden path to the kitchen, 'Mummy, Mummy. Mummy. Ta, ta, ta.' Knickers took them from him and tried to reward him with a big hug. But there was no time for hugs. Mum needed chillies. So away
he squirmed, down the garden, back to the chilli bush and returned, 'Mummy, ta, ta, ta,' brandishing whole branches of chillies.

Lucky they keep.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Ladder of Doom

This evening, when I returned bruised and battered from training, Knickers asked me to fetch a suitcase from the top cupboard. She wanted to try on some maternity clothes left over from before the Noodle was born.
I lunked it down and up again when she was done sorting.
My wife then started to fold up the step ladder, catching her thumb between the closing struts in the process. She cursed and swore as I rushed in to offer assistance, finally pushing the ladder off her finger and down onto my unprotected toe (still recovering from being dislocated). I joined in the aggrieved chorus then helped out some more by picking the ladder up and clonking her in the head with it.

The 3 Stooges could not have scripted it better.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Crocodile Dreams

I work just next to a piece of reclaimed wetlands and usually take a walk there during my lunch break. There's a section of bridge over a pool of water where ducks and geese congregate. As I crossed it yesterday my heart froze. I saw the ugly great head of a croc just breaking the surface of the pool.

Or an old stump revealed by the water receding from the drought.

Twenty-two years since I left Darwin as a kid. Ten years since I fled Jabiru for London and those bastard prehistoric killers still haunt me. I never had a particular close call, that I'm aware of, but I took some stupid risks at times, mostly when alcohol was involved, that could have gone horribly wrong.

Ever since I've regular nightmares about being taken by a croc. Staring, frozen, into its eyes as it glides, almost lazily, forward to seize me.

Reckon part of what scares me most is the complete amorality of their hunting. Remorseless as a robot they kill without the slightest trace of empathy or indeed interest in their prey.

Dreamed of them last night, prompted by my run in with the piece of wood, and it seems my sub-conscious is finally getting the message that in my middle years, stone-cold sober, three thousand klicks from the nearest beastie; there is no way I'm going to go out that way.

Others, seemingly, must cop it instead. In my dream I was approaching a popular waterhole and campsite, just on dusk. Two Japanese backpackers, both men, were skylarking at the water's edge, doing back flips into the billabong from a half submerged log.

As I saw them I ran forwards, screaming at them to get out of the water. Other campers looked up in suprise at my concern. Just as they both slowly started to pay attention and clamber out over the rotting, slippery log the great wedge shaped head of a croc surfaced right behind one, took him and dragged him, screaming under.

I felt terrible, but there was nothing that would have got me in that water to help.

I know a thousand crocs wouldn't have the same negative impact on the environment as one western life, and that using a bit of common sense; live and let live; they mostly come at night...mostly, blah, blah blah...

Kill 'em all.

More Plastic

Just a small selection of the Noodle's drinking paraphernalia. Quite a lot for someone whose palate stretches from milk to water.

Finding the right one has been an ongoing and exhausting task. Well I've grown quite tired just listening to Knickers' tales of high adventure related after each venture into the world of toddler cup sales. So God knows how she feels.

But he can go into hysterics should you pour his drink into the wrong type of vessel, or the right type but the wrong colour. It's like playing mastermind...with a small, angry, O.C.D'd, rhino. And he won't have it thank you very much, once the milk been sullied with the red cup on what is quite clearly an orange day.

Surely the wee unborn one can find one to suit from this lot?


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Scrap Metal Boys

Surly and skinny

They slinkstrut about

The recycling depo.

Their sinewy brown limbs,

Peppered with scars and scabs,

Look incongruous

Against oversized

Boots and gloves

And their baggy

Shorts and t-shirts.

You might laugh

If not for their faces.

A Valiant pulls up

Disgorges a bent old man

In a white shirt and suit pants

He carefully opens the boot

And waits for a scrap metal boy

To remove garbage bags from within

‘You no cheat me. I count them.’

He berates the lad

Who drags the bottle-loaded bags

Past me to the sorting table

‘Fuckinwogcunt’ a muttered mantra

While the old man watches him sort

Another sidles up and

Slags in the boot.

A shaved headed scrap metal boy

Swaggers from the office

With my cash

He has a scar over his eye

From a torn out eyebrow ring

He hands me shy of ten dollars.

The air is filled with

The reek of stale beer, and

The roar of forklifts, and

Gangsta rap

From a tinny old stereo

His eyes dare me to complain

‘Cheers mate.’

I hop into my car.

Too many places

To hide a body here.


Thursday, January 10, 2008


Knickers was sleeping after night-shift so I had The Noodle to myself this morning.
I was trying to prepare dinner and involve him (this is an onion, this is a knife, this is Daddy crying like an Australian Idol wannabee) He was involved alright and kept trying to slam the fridge door on my head.
Dad said 'stop' several times. Then he said a rude word and yelled a bit. Then he felt sad.
To make it up to him and try and avoid future altercations I invented a game in which we both marched around the room until I yelled 'Stop!' at which time I struck ridiculous poses and made funny faces. He laughed like a loon and joined in - and it actually seemed to work.

When I got home from work this evening I found Knickers and the in-laws hard at work in the back yard with mattock and crowbar. A broken solenoid masquerading as a leaky irrigation pipe means a few more holes in the backyard. This means my hole, which had already been pushed back to #2 in the queue by the great bamboo varnishing project, will be further delayed.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Pet for Life

A cat will hunt the rats that take the geese eggs

She said

So of course we got the bloody thing

Two days later I lowered my recliner

Heard a crunch and a mew

Turns out I squashed most of its head

Now the bastard thing can only walk straight

If it’s leaning against a wall.

Look out spastic rats.


Helping the Cause

Hey Steve. You know, I’m not real happy about the situation and the way the media is portraying us. You know what I reckon?

We need to make a public statement.

Yeh, something with a little panache.

No, not another interpretative dance Steve.

Something bold and original, striking and artistic; something to garner the support of the people, reflective of our cultural identity yet speaking to all.

A shout across oceans, an echo across ages.

A challenge to make the world a better place today.

Ah, bugger it, lets just set fire to something.

Get on the blower to Dave’s Dial an Effigy. I’ll gather the mob.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

This Week

I’ve taken the Men’s Health
And Blitz martial arts magazines
Out of the dunny
And replaced them
With the slim folios
Of Messers Bukowski, Goodfellow
And Bakowski.
Because this week,
I’m a poet.


Saturday, January 5, 2008


Knickers has been rostered on to do a sojourn as a clinical nurse and has to undertake a project as part of the role. She is investigating recycling much of the hospital waste and finding it a very frustrating task.
She talked to the nurses on another ward who have been trialling recycling their plastic waste for the last six months.
Knickers told me they started by buying a heap of blue plastic bins to put it all in and it was going really well with other staff coming from other wards to deposit plastics in their bins and everybody feeling better abut doing their bit.
Knickers spoke to a head of the department* behind the trial who admitted all the recycling bins were still being emptied into the general waste.
The trial, apparently, was just to see if people would use the blue bins.
Knickers didn't have the heart to tell them.

*I hate when there is an asterix in the body of a text yet you can't the corresponding note at the bottom of the page. Total day killer that one.


Tomb of the Fallen Name

Knickers and I have started the debate about a name for the unborn. Make no mistake, this will be a long and bitterly fought campaign. All the more so for the effort that goes into keeping up the appearance of nonchalance and bonhomie despite the increasing rage and desperation of the combatants.

First off, a name can't just be dropped into a conversation like a slaughtered minke at a Greenpeace rally. It has to be nudged gently into the periphery of your opponents awareness. Most effectively in the wake of a sacrificial pawn name. If, for example, I was pushing for Chlamydia, my gambit would be such:

'What do you think of Antoinette?'
'Fair enough. It's just that I was talking to Chlamydia at work today and she said she'd almost been named that.'

The veto is another serious hurdle to be overcome. A name must be pushed just enough to get it put on the list, but not so much that your opponent sees it as a serious challenger to their own current champion and invokes their veto.

Once a name makes it to the list you've just got to keep enough pressure on it for your opponent to become familiar with it, and if handled with extreme skill, maybe even start to believe it was their idea in the first place.

The all important middle name is also a useful bargaining chip, but my preference is to use a fairly innocuous first name as a sort of Trojan Horse to carry a preferred name onto the list in guise of an afterthought and the hope it can work its way up the ranks.

Strangely we have a consensus on girl names, though nothing is locked in and the girls smoke their Woodbines, polish their weapons and keep an eye on the horizon during this uneasy truce.

Here is an incomplete list of some of my fallen boy names:

  • Tobias Arnold
  • Mortimer Rufus
  • Kurtis Madog
  • Lenny Garcia
  • Christopher Xavier
  • Ming

Friday, January 4, 2008

Excuse me, can you ride?

You can get flash new riding gloves for Christmas. You can wash six months worth of road grime from the chain with kero and replace it with magic dirt repelling oil. You can purchase new tires with a high thread count and a new pump to inflate them to a gazillion psi...

...but, to my ever loving disappointment, you still have to ride uphill to work, generally into a headwind.

I ride to work. Started years before we had the Noodle as a means of transportation as we were a one car family. I don't particularly enjoy it but have kept on as a fitness and cost saving measure.

In five years I haven't once 'gone for a ride' and this kind of puts me in the bottom of the pecking order of cyclists in bike shops. There are, to my mind, two types of people that work in bike shops.
The first is the Berserker: goatee, tattoos, eyebrow ring, considers a morning plummeting off cliffs time well spent.
The other is the Dandy: lycra clad, snakehips, EPO and latte swilling, considers a morning toiling up cliffs time well spent.
Both types seem to consider someone that rides for transport a dilettante.

Reminds me of a joke Dad tells about a young boxer from the country preparing for his first fight in the city. He asks his manager about his opponent; his fancy gloves, boots & mouthguard. To each question the manager explains the function of the item in question and how it aids his opponent in the fight. Finally the nervous bloke sees his opponent crossing himself, and he asks if that will also help.

'Not if he can't fight.' was the deadpan reply.