Tuesday, April 29, 2008


There's a stop on the Gawler line named Islington. Located bang in the middle of sparsely weed strewn paddocks dotted with abandoned warehouses and rusted bogies.
Who named it that? What part of it reminded them of the crowded terrace houses of the namesake north London suburb?
Something about naming less than salubrious locations after iconic areas depresses me.
Part of it is a fear that I suffer from cultural cringe, that deep down I reckon it, my life, would be better lived in Dublin or Toronto or Tokyo.
I had my time in London and it was fantastic, free and wild. But when I returned to Adelaide - after a seven year hiatus - I found much to love about this city too. Guess it's that I associate Islington with certain friends' flats, with parties that went for days, with meeting and bonding with interesting people and with having no responsibilities whatsoever.
Looking up from a dry textbook to find my train stopping at a platform in the middle of whoop whoop is a stark reminder that those halcyon days are behind me. I can deal with that, I just don't like having it thrust in my face in the form of a rusty white placard declaring (this is not) 'Islington.'
The truth is we create our own lives regardless of geography. You can be miserable in New York or happy in Ceduna.
But I also think we should refrain from naming quiet suburban streets 'Piccadilly Circus.'

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I Seek Them Here etc...

Dying hours of the long weekend. We've been out and about for a fair bit of it. Lucky petrol is so cheap.
The thing I've noticed is that every long weekend the police announce a major blitz. Lookout, fire and brimstone, they'll be friggen everywhere. Then they never are.
The only John Hoppers we saw were at the seven car pile-up on the freeway last night. My God, if it had happened two hours later it could have been us. Ha, I cheat death again.
What I reckon is; they announce a blitz, (major clue of Nazism if ever there was) clap each-other on the back for a job well done then declare a long weekend for themselves and disappear until sometime Wednesday.
Of course anyone else who found themselves on the wrong side of the thin blue line this weekend is entitled to disagree.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What's With Kids & Fashion?

The Noodle has been working on dressing himself lately. Quite insistent on it in fact.

Nice that he isn't sartorially constrained by any aesthetic need for symmetry. Or any need to not limp.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Family Fun Day

Today was a rare day when we were all off and we took the opportunity to go to the zoo.

I have bitter memories of the Adelaide zoo after my work experience back in 1988. At the time I wanted to be a vet and thought how cool it would be to hang around with the zoo vet. Me and several thousand other kids I suspect. I spoke to one of the keepers on the phone:

'You'll have to spend some of the time with the keepers - what animals do you like?'
'Fully booked I'm afraid. You can have birds or reptiles.'
'Oh, reptiles then.' (snakes are cool)

Spending the whole week cleaning out cage upon cage of vermin though, was somewhat south of cool. Positively Antarctic. I never even saw a vet, just the feed room. My only human contact was the keepers who would occasionally wander in, grab a handful of baby rats or mice and hurl them against the wall to kill them before feeding the carcases to the reptiles. Adult rats were swung by the tail into a heavy wooden chopping board.

Today went along way to erasing the bad memory. I was a bit concerned that the twenty-two month old Noodle would be a little young to appreciate the zoo, but he friggen loved it.
Meerkats were a strong favourite. There was a glass barrier along their enclosure and the noodle delightedly got up close and personal with them. Screaming, stamping his feet and pounding on the glass. I hope we're not turning into those sort of parents who look fondly on while their offspring run riot. I reckon it's only fish tanks you're not supposed to bang on anyway. Strangely the only thing that scared him was a goat in the petting zoo. Freaky kid.

My highlight was seeing monkeys picking each-other's arses. Everyone loves that shit.


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why I Need A Rewind / Delete Button

A few ladies of our acquaintance recently had dinner at a pub and were later complaining about the appalling service they received from the bar tender. Forgetting a lifetime of pain and work with the stop, think, speak principle I blurted out, 'It's because you're getting old. You've become invisible to younger men.'

One day I'll learn.

At the movies with Knickers the other day and one of the previews showed a couple doing the wild thing in the back of a car.
I leaned over to my heavily pregnant wife and leeringly whispered, 'you know, we've never done it in a car.'
She considered this, her eyes lost focused, time passed. She did all but count on her fingers and toes.
'No. You're right, I don't think we have.' she finally answered.*
'Jesus Christ how many...never mind, I don't want to know.'

* Knickers has approved publication of this post but would like it noted that it is not in line with her recollection of events.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Shopping Bags and Car Keys

Muse, I beg you guide my hand
As I attempt to scatter these words
Artfully across the page.

So somewhere, someday, someone
May pump their fist and cry

That is exactly how I feel
When I load my shopping
Into my right hand
Reach into my left pocket
For the car keys
Only to discover I placed them
In my right pocket





Sunday, April 13, 2008

Well, Me Old China

Another tale from uni

In my class preparing us for actual prac teaching we were assigned a group task of coming up with some practical methods of getting to know students, staff and parents at our assigned school. I was teamed up with M, a Chinese student. She was scrawling away at a million miles an hour while I wrote, 'Ask about pets', 'letter to parents' and 'social club' then started drawing jellyfish. After the alloted time we had to share our responses with each-other.

'What did you put for students M?'
'I will implore them with glorious example of the superior culture of China which is over 5000 years of civilization.'
'Right. But what specifically are you going to do? I reckon ask them about their pets.'
She blinked.
'Specifically I will model them to display the example of the intellectuals who will make the decisions for them and those that do not choose to make decisions will see that our culture is superior...'

It went on for quite some time and I wish I could do her grandiose soapboxing justice.

I couldn't tell if she was terrified I was going to report, Stasi style, back to the Communist Party if I thought she wasn't toeing the line, or if she actually meant it, or if it was just a major communication breakdown. Maybe Mandarin is an incredibly ornate language that just translates like that? Restaurant menus would certainly indicate that to be the case.

Kinda funny, a little sinister also.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dead Grandpas Under the Floor Boards

(Note attractive Oof dangling from mouth)

We've got creaking floorboards right next to my side of the bed and outside the Noodle's bedroom. So when I fumble my way to the dunny twice a night I perform a bizarre and ungainly ballet in an attempt to not wake my slumbering family.

Sort of a two step, twist, dodge sideways, smack into open cupboard door, curse loudly, tread on friggen board anyway, give up and stomp to toilet with everyone now wide awake and cursing me.

It has reached crisis point and rather than see a doctor and/or cut down on caffeine the Noodle and I went to the hardware store yesterday (Home on Goody Rd - really helpful/knowledgeable staff). I was very prepared to start banging nails into stuff.

'Talcum powder,' said the bloke.
'Talcum powder?'
'Yep, works its way in and stops most squeaks no worries.'
'Not a nail gun and oxyacetylene welder then?'
'Nope. Talcs what you need hey Doug.'
'Yep, Talcum powder alright.'
'Talcum powder,' concurred some wandering, shifty, bloke in a bomber jacket.

So denied the opportunity to buy myself something cool we went to Woolies and purchased a canister of Imperial Leather and $20 worth of coffee (irony didn't escape me) as I didn't have any cash on me and needed to use the credit card.

Spent an hour sweeping the talc into the gaps with the result that the squeaks are moderately reduced and the house smells like an old folks home.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Review of Books What I Haven't Finished

Ulysses - James Joyce
Best book in the world as voted by those who struggled through it and want some goddamn recognition for their suffering. As no-one can finish it without feeling this deep sense of achievement the claim remains untested by impartial observers.

The Iliad - Homer
Achilleus, Atreus and the Achaians are just the A characters introduced in the first friggen paragraph! My brain, knowing when it is beat, disconnected power to my eyeballs at that point.

The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen
Got about fifty pages in and was enjoying it, but then got distracted by several other books and forgot basic premise and the names of all characters. I'm left with the quandary of not wanting to start at the beginning again, but knowing I'll be flying blind if I pick up where I left off.

And De Fun Don't Dun - Robert G Barrett
I love the early Les Norton novels. This was really flogging a high horse in the mouth.

Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace
This is so named because it is what bookshop staff inflict on you for fun when you walk in and ask them to recommend 'something good'.

Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
The world's shortest book. I've started it eight times and am beginning to believe it contains some trigger for a repressed memory of some considerable suffering I have previously endured (possibly attempting to read Infinite Jest). After each attempt I wake several days later, covered in vomit, in Whitmore Square and decide to rent Apocalypse Now instead. The horror, the horror indeed.

Atonement - Ian McEwan
Lost me early with a seventeen page description of a vase. Knickers has since picked it up and assures me it is only about a paragraph, but I know what I read. Maybe she has an expurgated version. Anyway, it'll be out on dvd shortly.

Going to Meet the Man - James Baldwin
I'm just not as sixties hip as I thought I was.

The Cockatoos - Patrick White

The Cockatoos. Sounds relatively harmless doesn't it? Probably similar to The Magic Pudding or The Muddle-Headed Wombat. I'll give it a whirl.
Can someone please tell me why all Australian literature is mired in misery? It's not like we all live in Elizabeth.

The Unknown Terrorist - Richard Flanagan
The author made the same mistake as Andrew McGhan with Underground; confusing rabid hatred of the government with literary endeavor. I read the later out of respect for previous achievement but felt I owed no such debt to Mr Flanagan.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Reality Check

Had my first teaching experience today. They put us in groups of three and sent us out to a local primary school to put kids through a basic PE skills assessment.
We'd planned a lesson around throwing, catching, skipping and were assigned four six-year-old kids to inflict it on.
It all came tumbling down like a pack of cards.
One of the girls was vision impaired. Somehow didn't seem right to kick soccer balls at her face so there went half the plan.
Another kid was special needs and spent most of the time tying himself up with a skipping rope.
All of them just yelled and screamed and ran around doing whatever the hell they wanted.

Us student teachers took it in turns to be teacher, assistant or observer. I had great fun observing Sue.

Sue: Okay we're going to be running round so check your laces are tight.
(Bit of a fuddy duddy - she bends down to check a kid's laces)
Kid: Something stinks!
(Sue straightens up, soldiers on)
K: It's gone now.
S: Right, you know Simon Says? Well we're going to play Sue Says.
Special Needs Kid: Why can't we play Simon Says?
S: Because my name is Sue.
SNK: But I only know Simon Says.
S: It's exactly the same.
SNK: Then you can say Simon Says.
S: No. We're playing Sue Says.
SNK: I don't know Sue Says.
S: Fine. We'll play Simon Says.
SNK: Okay. Simon Says run away.
(all kids run away)

My turn came last, by which time the kids were over it. I couldn't even make them come over to me to listen to the instructions. I used their names, tried to sound enthusiastic and energetic, clapped my hands, crouched down to their eye level and came very close to begging. Nothing worked. It was very deflating.
I just kept thinking that if they'd been my class they would have lost all respect for me on day one - can you get it back from there?
Partly I didn't feel it was my place to give flat out orders to these kids, but I'm going to have to at some point and realise now I'm not sure how to do it.

Spare me from being one of those shrieky ineffectual teachers who seem permanently on the brink of nervous exhaustion.


Monday, April 7, 2008

A Shock to Them I'd Imagine

One of my fellow students was on the same train today and we got to talking. Nice guy. He was telling me about this girl in one of his other classes, who apparently asked him what the difference was between English and British.
'I couldn't believe she didn't know that they're exactly the same thing!' he said.
I didn't say anything. Maybe I should have. How many people will she tell? How many students will they both teach this to? If enough people believe it, will that eventually make it true?

Got choked with my own arm at training tonight. Hurts when I swallow.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Oh, Wanking.

My little sister Merry, her partner Paul and son Gib have just been over from country Victoria for a visit. Gib is 10 so I study them to see what the future might hold for a pre-adolescent Noodle.
Merry told me they all watched the Transformers movie a little while ago, and in one scene the mother demands to know if the teenage boy is playing with himself.
A few days later Gib asked her what the mother meant by that.
'Well', said Merry, 'when boys get older they start to develop different feelings and their bodies start to change too. When this happens they sometimes find it fun to touch themselves.'

Gib thought about this for a minute.

'So is it like wanking then?'


Saturday, April 5, 2008

True Love

'Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too boisterous,
and it pricks like a thorn.'
Romeo and Juliet

Someone was recently bemoaning not having met her life partner. 'I meet guys, but I'm not sure about them, and in the end, I can't be bothered.'

In this day and age do people, grown people, really believe they have one predetermined lover that they just have to stumble into before the sparks can let fly and the lifetime of bliss begin?
Where does the nose picking come in? The farting? The regular fights because one of you, when unpacking the dishwasher, apparently can't tell the difference between a serrated dinner knife and a non-serrated butter knife? No matter how many freaking times I point it out. She just doesn't care and throws knives in the drawer like a fourteen year old attempting to hide his skin mags stash while his mother breaks down the bedroom door.

Sex, sure, by all means start with the desperate, urgent, "can you wait 'till we get home, 'cause this pub's toilet cubicles have locks?" sex. It'll pass; and then one horrible, grey, day you'll find that both CSI: Wherever and Law & Order: Dog Squad are repeats and you have to talk to each other about something.

Your star-crossed, eye-glazed, slack-jawed love ain't going to help you out of that one.

Love is not some external force, striking you down like Ebola. It's not going to happen to you. You have to build it, and to do that you have to commit to it.

Take your object of affection, strip away the finery, add tracksuit pants, uggies and five kilos. Picture him scratching there because it's comfortable, or her running away leaving you holding the dog when it craps in the water in front of fifteen beach-going families.

Now love that with all your heart.


Friday, April 4, 2008

The Graduate

Knickers, Dad and I attended my graduation ceremony at the Festival Theatre yesterday, an event eight years in the making.
Really glad I went. Made me feel like I had a future. I know, I know, a BA and $5 will get you a cup of coffee. And I have not been deafened by the sound of the career doors opening for me - but I did get to wear a gown, in public.

The guest speaker was Doctor Pamela Ryan, founder of Psychology Beyond Borders (How did it make you feel when the Janjaweed murdered your parents in front of you?) and, despite the fact that she was as mad as a meat-axe and clearly wearing a black tennis dress beneath her academic finery, she was a very inspiring speaker.

One point marred it for me though. Some arse-clown - insecure and desperate for attention because of distant daddy, smothering mummy, chronic bed wetting or just good old fashioned only one testicle - made a dog and pony show of dropping his degree, bending over and slapping his bum, veering over to leer at the good Doctor Ryan then exiting stage right.

There are dozens of reality tv shows all vying to pay people to showcase just how vapid, narcissistic, self-centered and ultimately pointless they truly are. Seriously boyo, go and audition for Australia's Next Corey; you're a shoe in.

Don't people realise that the ability to queue in an orderly fashion while not making a fuss is the keystone of civilization?

Had lunch with the family after. Ben gave me a copy of The Choirboys and Margy gave me a pop-up book of Moby Dick for reasons she explained but are not yet clear to me. Knickers and the Noodle, out of sync with the unrelated present giving, gave me a well-wicked briefcase.

God family are great.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Mining Town Prayer

Six months and my hitch is up
And I’ll only take with me
The red bauxite dust
On the soles of my shoes.

6 months
180 greasy takeaways
1080 green cans
360 quick ones off the wrist.

Don’t let me die
In this bare bessa brick bedroom
With the smell of the Arafura Sea
Wafting through rusty fly-wire.

'Cause if I do
My ghost will stay
Lost eternally
In a temporary landscape.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Prudish Noodle

Onto the home straight for the WUO (Gut feeling today: how the hell would I know, isn't it kind of like Schrodinger's cat? Prove me wrong quantum physicists.) as we enter the last trimester. By we I mean Knickers, who has shouldered the bulk of the gestation load. You do what you can.

So, I've been talking to Knickers' belly to try and get the WUO used to my voice. Mostly just with creepy Darth Vader impressions, 'I am your father...' etc, and trying to encourage The Noodle to do the same.

Won't have a bar of it. Just backs away from her bare belly shrieking, 'Nuh, nuh, finish, finish.' I don't know if he senses the competition (frankly I don't think he's that developed), feels guilt at being confronted by his mother's stretch marks (badges of honour) or is just a prude.