Monday, June 30, 2008

Pagan Accountants

Whether you describe it as a credit to the progress of man or decry it as the loss of spirituality and closeness to nature; the fact is that most of us are mostly removed from the shift in season and the vagaries of weather.

I think it's a good thing. I wouldn't fancy spending the entire winter cloistered up with a herd of goats, forced to burn dung to defrost salted herring and melt icicles from my wife's beard.

What we have lost, however, is a genuine cause for celebration. Okay apart from New Years Eve, Christmas and Easter; well the latter two aren't for everybody, are they?

Where's our midwinter feast? Solstice, Equinox, chanting monks?

I'll tell you.

(drum roll)

End of financial year.

Our work is finished, now the beans must be counted and a symbolic tithe offered up to the gods of taxation in the hope that it please them and they reward their humble servants with an extra large return and a reduction in medicare levy.

There should be days off, feasting, pageantry, bonhomie and packs of shit faced accountants throwing up in taxis and getting it on with each other in massive, bacchanalian orgies on the piled heaps of the years paperwork.

File it away, a little sticky and worse for wear, and begin the new financial year with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Marching Orders

Your picture fixed to the fridge
With a magnet from the dentist
Showing you during
The twenty week scan
The ultrasound shining down
Like a reading lamp
On the profile
Of your skull
Nubs of teeth
Feet flung out
At the end of tiny tibia
Joy, rage... stretching?

We've been staring so long
At that picture of you
We're wondering if you're real.

And do you know
Your lease on the womb
is about to expire?
Nine months nearly up
And if you're not out shortly
We will commence the process
of eviction.
(Hot curry, hot sex)

Do the grown up thing
Pay the piper
Face the music
It's time to cut the chord.

Little one.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Don't Want It

The Noodle's favourite expression of late and one he finds is especially applicable in the morning. He applies it to taking off his pyjamas, changing his nappy, putting Oof back to bed, putting on shoes, putting on a jumper, sitting in his chair, eating Weet Bix and a host of other things his parents would really like him to just shut up about and accept.

Really have to see his point though. If I was in a clothing store and an eager shop assistant came rushing up brandishing two pair of pants and demanding I choose one (ah, the illusion of choice - just like democracy really) and I declined both of them; how would I feel if he didn't take no for an answer but instead, knocked me down, sat on me, tore my perfectly comfortable pants off and replaced them with another pair.

I would probably struggle and shriek, 'Don't want it,' repeatedly also.

Still, both Knickers and I are getting pretty jack of it. Is this the terrible twos?


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Home Straight

I have a tic striking my bottom-left eyelid like a giant trevally on 10lb line.

My skin is cracking and drying as it pulls away from my skull under the exsertion pressure of a barrage of caffeine.

A dirty great ulcer throbs on the inside of my lip where I prod it incessantly with my tongue.

My muscles are wasting away, fat rushes in to fill the void.

The hounds whine miserable and unwalked at the back door.

I snarl and curse back at them.

My son no longer acknowledges me and my wife shakes her head in disgust at piles of empty soft drink cans and chocolate wrappers which surround the living wreck I have become.

I have one more assignment to finish.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Practical Advice for Trainee Teachers

Don't tell 10 year olds to stop playing with their balls.

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Monday, June 9, 2008

The Noodle Turns 2

Just stay there WUO. I ain't sharing today. Actually most days I'm not real keen on sharing, unless it's your stuff to start with.

Everyone looking sufficiently awkward and in different directions? Good. Click.

Seriously. I'm terrified.

Bit further down the yard kids, we can still hear you fighting.

Homemade birthday cake prior to being drenched with spit.

Cash from great-granddad? Let Dad mind it for you.

2 solid days of preparation. 2 hounds locked despairingly in the shed.16 adults and 11 kids. No deaths and only 1 injury from falling in my hole. I did warn them.

Happy Birthday for yesterday Noodle.


Sunday, June 8, 2008


Thanks Kath for fulfilling my unspoken desire to be memed. I'm starting to feel like a real blogger now.

Apparently, there are rules to adhere to:
1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player tags 5 people and posts their name, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

What Was I doing Ten Years Ago?

Quite a few periods of my life when I could have answered 'not much', but luckily I was living in London 10 years ago. Lucky for making me sound more interesting, not lucky for my life to be rapidly slipping through my fingers.
I was sleeping on the lounge room floor of 99 Tooting Bec Road, Tooting Bec. I'd just moved there from Jabiru and was discovering, after 5 years of life in remote mining towns, that it was possible to go out for a drink without a) getting into a fight with a bearded fuckwit, and b) hearing Status Quo's Rocking All Over the World.
And girls. Girls with their own teeth; girls on trains and buses; girls in cafes and clubs. Girls! Girls approaching me on the common on a slightly hangover Sunday morning while I walked about marveling at squirrels and at fathers screaming at their 5 year old sons that they'd never play for England if they kept kicking like fairies.

Girl: Hiya
Myninjacockle: G'day
G: Do you want the business?
M: Pardon?
G: The business.
M: What? Oh, thanks. Sorry.

And there I had been thinking about Wombles.

Five Snacks I Enjoy in a Perfect, Non-Weight-Gaining World
  1. Cheese
  2. Tim Tams
  3. The Noodle's leftover custard (waste not etc...)
  4. Peanut butter and jam sandwiches. White bread, and butter.
  5. Gingernut biscuits

Five Snacks I Enjoy in the Real World

Pretty much exactly the same.

Five Things I Would Do if I were a Billionaire

Have you seen the film The Game with Michael Douglas? That's what I'd do. But not with a happy ending. I'd recruit a team of top operatives and have them locate everyone on my hit list. Including 'man with beard who refused to turn loud stereo down in forgotten Queensland caravan park' and 'kid who badged my car sometime in early naughties'.
Then I'd have exhaustive dossiers prepared on each (all good espionage undertakings require dossiers), containing their dirty little secrets, and begin a long campaign of psychological warfare. This would culminate in my enemies being abandoned by all their loved ones and being committed, completely and utterly broken, to an insane asylum.
I would get little video updates on a weekly basis, detailing my operatives breaking into the slumbering victims' bedrooms and thinning their hair, injecting them with lard, moving their car keys and stealing one sock from every pair and replacing it with a slightly different coloured one.

(Note: if you are putting on weight, losing hair and can never find your keys; chances are you've made an enemy of a vindictive billionaire.)

Four more? I dunno, the first one would keep me pretty busy. It's a long list and there's only one way off it.

Five Jobs That I Have Had
  1. Customer Service Manager - WBC Jabiru (the pinnacle of my banking career)
  2. Removalist
  3. Debt Collector (in a call centre, so not as cool/evil as it sounds)
  4. Administration Officer for a charity (giving food to junkies, marketing, arguing with government departments, collecting furniture from dead people, saying 'sorry, can't help with that' to desperate people, fixing ageing photocopier)
  5. Labourer for expo company
Three of my Habits
  1. Whenever I'm sitting still, I count things. I count corners, windows, cars, birds, bricks. It's compulsive. Furthermore, if the total doesn't come to an even number, I experience a mild unease and have to expand or contract my selection criteria to round the number off. Yes, I cheat.
  2. When I'm driving by myself I play a game where I challenge myself to hold my breath for a certain distance, say the next two sets of traffic lights. I also cheat at this.
  3. Picking my nose. I hope that by outing myself I will move society towards a more tolerant, less ridiculing, attitude towards those of us who are digitally inclined towards our nasal passages.

Five Places I Have Lived
  1. Sydney - West Pennant Hills. My parents were living in Castle Hill when I was born but moved when I was 3 months old. So I don't think that counts.
  2. Orange - I started school there, and saw snow for the first time.
  3. Henty - Sladen Street. Henty is the home of the header. I remember we used to ride our bikes 'round the silos, catching hold of the back of wheat trucks and getting towed along. I don't ever recall an adult telling us that this was not a clever thing to do.
  4. Port Lincoln - cnr of Gloucester and Abeona Tce. Here we used to climb for hours through the storm drains. Ditto for parental cautioning.
  5. Darwin - 4 Giles St, Fannie Bay. The Missionaries of Charity were located up the road from us. I was given my instruction for my first communion there and also performed the role of Joseph in a nativity play. Among the audience of about 10 was Mother Teresa. I thought this unremarkable at the time.
People I Would Like to Know Better (okay, I already know most of you far too well. I just don't know that many people)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Day 2: Called Into Principal's Office for Inappropriate Touching

Thursday was my second visit to my prac school. Watched in horror as my school chum J stole blank notebooks from the classroom while we were supposed to be marking more spelling during the student's library time.

'There's my pay for the day,' he rationalised as he shoved them in his tucker bag.

I considered my options.

Considered dobbing, but can't bring myself to do it, though he truly deserves it. Considered punching him fair in his face then putting him in a rear-naked choke until he 'did the chicken', but violence never solves anything - and he could find out where I live. Considered simply doing nothing and hating myself later.

I hate myself.

Later in singing I positioned myself near two of the boys who are really struggling with their school work. Neither of them were impressed when I pointed out that the original, and superior, version of My Island Home had the line, 'six years I've been living in the desert' rather than city. Then they started fighting and one of them grabbed hold of me in the fracas. The dispute was over fart ownership, not musical taste.

We all got sent to the Deputy Principal's office. My role was witness for the prosecution but I still felt nervous. Both the boys were let off with a warning and sent back to class. I was given a pep-talk on behaviour management by the Deputy.

I really like her and all the students respect her. Her manner of bouncing from talking to you to embarking on impromptu role plays is disconcerting though. I'm never sure if she is talking to me as a teacher or an imaginary student. It's like playing theatre sports in a dementia ward.

I have to volunteer at the school for a few hours a week for the rest of the school year, also as part of our assessment. I've chosen to help out in a special program for remedial readers. I'm quietly confident that will cure me of any lingering fantasies I may posses about getting all students to love reading as much as I did.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Next Time: Javelin

Had to teach a PE lesson for 15 year 7s yesterday as part of my assessment.

My God they're animals.

The prevailing pedagogy righteously forbids us from inflicting the trauma of making them pick their own teams. We've all read Lord of the Flies. I had decided to teach soccer and to pick teams asked them to line up shortest to tallest in order to number them off.

How hard could that be?

Rock as it turns out. Two separate power blocks started their own lines. A splinter group of two broke away from them, but at least they could agree on their order. Even if they couldn't it didn't matter as, mathematically speaking, any two points form a line.

The remaining group just milled around pushing each other in the chest and claiming to be the tallest.

Half my alloted time ticked by. My voice grew hoarse. My whistle began to rust from spittle exposure. They formed teams.

'As a warm up we're going to play rats and rabbits. Who remembers how to play from last week?'

No-one as it turned out. Several eons of, largely wasted, explanation and questions later:

'Okay. You lot are rats. You lot are rabbits. The group name I call will have to chase the other group to their home line.'


Pandemonium. I believe that's a level of hell. They keep year 7s there.

I cut rats and rabbits short, skipped most of the skills practice and went to the game. I'd changed the rules to make it like netball in that defenders, mid-fielders and strikers had to stay in their respective thirds; according to my rules. Not the kids' rules.

Pandemonium revisited.

Most of the boys were suddenly strikers. For the same team. Most of the girls formed a circle and began a discussion. They would have sat down but the ground was wet.
An SSO appeared from nowhere dragging two boys. One with autism and the other sight impaired. Does every class in the country have a sight impaired child, or just mine? Who cares? They joined the fray.

My fellow teaching students went into overtime scribbling in the 'What could have been improved?' section of our observation notes.

The lesson finally ended. None of the students cried out, 'captain, my captain.'



Monday, June 2, 2008


...there's nothing more distressing or uncomfortable to look at than a philosopher who's thought himself into a corner. And that was the first night I got a good clear look at his corner, his terrible corner, his sad dead-end, where Dad had inoculated himself against ever having anything mystical or religious ever happen to him...I understood he was not just a sceptic who doesn't believe in a sixth sense, but he was an uber-sceptic, who wouldn't trust or believe in the other five either.

A Fraction of the Whole - Steve Toltz
I'm over halfway through this terrifyingly funny book, and finding some of the author's scathing diatribes cut a little close to the bone when he derides religion, parenthood, love and the aspirations of the general population.

It would be great if I could laugh along thinking, 'Hyuk, other folk sure are dumb-stupid,' but mostly I find I am the other folk.

I identify with Martin, the dad, in the above extract, but at the other end of the spectrum; I'm an uber-believer. Not so much in raiki massage, Buddhism or tarot; but in the status quo.

I've always felt bad whenever I've examined traffic rules, the gear ratios on my pushy, the layout of stock at the supermarket, and been unable to fault them. Likewise I've never been able to contribute anything of note to a work suggestion box. I find everything is the perfect system for right now.

Sure things can change and require adjustment. But the fact is that better minds than mine have been looking at all of these things for centuries now, and pretty much cracked it.

Also this doesn't apply to larger issues of social justice. Hell, no-one seems capable of working that shit out.

So does this mean I'm incapable of thinking outside the box? Maybe. Probably. 'Though I reckon the ability to accept that other people, occasionally, may just possibly know what they're talking about, is also an advantage in life.

Anyway. Do yourself a favour. Read the book.