Sunday, August 31, 2008

Moving Rooms

For reasons that are not clear to me now; we swapped rooms with the Noodle today. We also moved the Ikea toy cupboard to the sunroom; the (Ikea) computer unit from the sunroom to our bedroom; the Ikea bookshelf from the east wing (aka Patrick's cell/entrance hall) to Noodle's room and the old lounge from the sunroom to the shed. That was the first time the lounge had been moved since it came off the ark.

I had to pull apart and reassemble two beds and a cot and make a trip to the hardware store and we still managed a visit to friends' for dinner ce soir. I'm very tired.

If the reason for the shift has been lost in a haze of sweat, swearing and wonder at how the Noodle managed to materialise in the centre of every clear spot in which I was about to deposit something heavy - something else has become very clear to me. We have reached possession saturation point and shall purchase no more. The children shall have no more toys and items of clothing will only be signed off on if the tattered remains of the predecessor can be produced in tandem with a department of health certificate authenticating that the item is indeed unfit for the survival needs of a human.

I have spoken.

(Though I've not yet checked with my wife)

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Saturday, August 30, 2008


Knickers can sit and gaze for hours at Patrick. The stoned look when he's so full of milk it's taking all his concentration to keep from vomiting is endlessly amusing to her. She loves the little sneer his top lip forms when he's particularly windy. His satisfied expression when he fills his nappy is a delight. So when he actually grins she is entranced.

On the nappy filling; Patrick is about a foot long, so how can he have a high pressure bottom eruption that lasts for five minutes? If a train is travelling past a level crossing at 400kph and it takes 5 minutes to go by, then the train is 33 and 1/3 k long. Is math telling me that if I were to hike a distance equal to the length of my son's bowel I would need to pack a tent (and supplies hey WT)? Surely this disproves some fundamental law of physics?

Clearly I think he is pretty interesting too - certainly from a scientific point of view - but I wouldn't say that we've bonded yet. Most other fathers, but not all, of my experience feel the same way about their own progeny: cuteness is great, but when are you going to do something?

Any font of knowledge on parenting (ie: anyone who has ever met a baby) will tell you to enjoy this magical time, they grow up so fast, when they learn to talk they start to talk back yadda yadda yadda. But I really dig the interaction with an ambulatory, talking, just used a permanent texta to draw doggies on the beige couch, now kind of scared because there's a talking toucan on the tv, little person.

Bring it.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Night is Darkest

The Noodle is progressing on his way to being a little boy. Pretty sure he's still a toddler, but the signs are there. Some signs are positive, and some of 'em ain't so pretty.

He told his first lie the other day, little Machiavelli that he is. I heard the thump, thump of him jumping on our bed - which he is fully aware is against the rules - and burst into the room to catch him in full flight.

I suppose I'll interject here that I jumped on my bed all the time when I was little. Bloody great fun it was; and I don't really expect him to not jump on them and I certainly don't believe his thirteen kilo frame will do irreparable damage to a queen size bed. It's just that the battle lines have been drawn and we find ourselves on different sides of them. His job is to jump on the bed and avoid punishment, mine is to catch him and mete out the punishment. It's a learning curve for both of us.

Anyway, a quick recap: thump, thump, Elliot Ness impression, aha etc.

'Were you jumping on the bed?'

Silence. He looked wildly about, a furtive expression crept weasel like across his rosy cheeks.

'No, I wasn't jump on bed.'

'Oooh you little bugg...bear.'

'Cuddle Daddy?' he said with arms outstretched and pats of unmelted butter spilling down his chin.

It was funny, but surprising, because all our child cursed friends have been telling us how their progeny are incapable of speaking with forked tongue until, well I'm not sure what age, but older than two anyway. I'll be the besotted parent and chalk it up to a lively imagination and quick wit rather than a heart of pure evil; at this stage.

Although we have decided he can't watch the news anymore after his chants of 'kill, kill, kill' during the report of a murder last night.

My great fear is toilet training. Yes I'm bloody sick of cleaning up other's poo. But nappies provide a measure of control as to where and when the cleaning takes place. Ideally it doesn't take place in supermarket aisles, roadsides or anywhere else far from home when you're down to your last change of the child's clothes. Nappies provide a measure of control that I am loathe to lose, even if the rewards are ultimately there.

We've got a way to go yet before we seriously start it, maybe science will give us toilet training in a pill by then? I wonder how you would administer it?


Monday, August 25, 2008

Mr Culturally Sensitive

Me: You look pretty tired.

Mohammed: Yeh, I had an engagement and a funeral on the weekend.

Me: Oh, an Islamic funeral or a regular one?

Me: Fuck...sorry.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Asking the Man in the Street (to punch sacred cows)

So MITS who is more boring: Radiohead or Cold Play?

I'm glad you asked. Bit of a tough call really. Clearly RH's music is just self congratulatory wank, but by Christ don't CP just drone on.

I would say that CP are Nickleback to RH's Matchbox 20. No, wait, the other way round.

Oh who cares.


Except for Creep obviously. Brilliant that is.

(hums to self)


Burning Questions

Has anyone named Jenkins ever achieved anything more than being a meek subordinate to an overbearing superior?
'Excuse me sir?'
'Yes Jenkins what is it? Come on man, speak up.'

How long do cows that give us long life milk live?

Does the expression 'flat out like a lizard drinking' mean you're really busy, as in a lizard lies very flat when it drinks; or not particularly busy, as in they actually drink with slow sedate movements of their lizardy tongues? I've heard it used in both contexts.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Archery - Drawing Long Bows

Christ, why can't we just be happy with what we've achieved at the Olympics without having to beat it up?

On Sunrise the other morning (I don't watch it - I just fell over and accidentally turned it on) Kochie was banging on about Australia and showing a medal talley...adjusted by per head of population...and look, aren't we just the friggen master race. We're winning! We're winning! If you turn it sideways, colour code it and reverse the polarity.

How about we do another talley based on the average annual income or available clean drinking water of each nation? Or money thrown at support and training by sports obsessed governments? How good would we look then Sunrise? Nothing to say? Thought not.

To win an Olympic medal would be a fantastic achievement honouring the skills of the recipient and validating all the time and support the family and friends had put into the athlete.

But unless you're one of them, or involved with the particular sport. It means sweet Fanny Adams to you personally. No one is going to root you because someone you've never met did something marginally better than someone else you've never met. Well, they might if they were drunk and horny but I'm sure they'd regret it in the morning and that's drawing a long bow anyway.


Monday, August 18, 2008


N1's boys regularly jump over the fence to fetch errant footballs. I am somewhat suspicious that they also go through my shed and play on the swings as they seem to have a working knowledge of the swings, my punching bag and bag mitts. This is fine as long as they don't hurt themselves and sue me.

Tonight the Noodle and I played soccer with them and then showed them the new treadmill (which we've also had the repairman out for today - I was rightly suspicious of a product bearing a badge inscribed 'designed by U.S.A.'). I asked the oldest boy what happened to their side fence.

He replied. 'Mum was driving to watch me play soccer, but she couldn't find it, so she got really drunk and then she crashed into some stuff, then she came here and crashed into the fence and the police came and took her away in handcuffs.'

I felt terrible that I'd asked him, and that he'd answered so honestly. We'd heard the bang on the night of the accident and heard a woman sobbing. Knickers suspected it was their mum, who lives there periodically, so I should have been a bit more sensitive and asked N1. He is always happy to give up the goss.

I spoke to him later and he cheerily confirmed his son's story. She blew over .2 and had just got her license back from a previous DUI conviction. She apparently damaged every panel of her new merc, crashing into various parked cars and fences around the neighbourhood.

I don't want to know what sort of effect that will have on their boys, or all the other children around the country in similar circumstances.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Excuse Me

This happened a few weeks ago, but has remained with me.

Girl At Uni: Excuse me, your shirt is inside out.

Me: Umm, no the seams are just like that (jeez, get with the fashion lady).

GAU: Yes, but the tag is showing.

Me: Well the tags are on the outside (I've got a live one here).

GAU: No, the tag on the side.

Me: Yes, that one too (Spoken in a rather patronising manner).

GAU: No, the washing instruction tag.

Me: What? Oh - yes you're right. It is inside out...thanks.

Me (sometime later banging head against wall): What did I do to you oh Lord?


Friday, August 15, 2008


Thanks to Meredi for tagging me in a moment of profound un-inspiredness. Here's 10 things you don't know about me:

  1. My first ever trip to emergency was to have a blue square of Lego I had stuck up my nose, removed.
  2. For many years I believed Cold Chisel's Saturday Night to be from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. This never struck me as odd.
  3. My great, great, great, great, maternal grandfather, Owen Cavanough, was a marine on the Sirius and - according to family history unsubstantiated by any actual record - was the first man ashore from the First Fleet when he jumped out to hold the longboat for Governor Phillip.
  4. For a few years in my youth I went to bed every night worrying that I may have contracted AIDS from cutting myself on a barbed wire fence. I was too embarrassed to have this confirmed but continued to worry nonetheless.
  5. I have danced naked atop Devil's Peak.
  6. I have nightmares every, single, night.
  7. I have eaten more Continental - creamy bacon carbonarra - pasta and sauce than any other person, living or dead. I never wish to do so again.
  8. I would love to be committed to an upper class mental institute set in a stately home built on lush, idyllic grounds. It would be fully and professionally catered with a complete library and fresh Irish linen daily. All the other inmates would be completely catatonic except for a few Napoleons, Cleopatras and Christs for amusement value.
  9. I am obsessed by the inevitability of my own death and have so far failed to come up with a way round it.
  10. I'm trying to develop a facial expression to wear when walking towards someone I don't want to make eye contact with that doesn't look like the one most people use; the rigid and slightly panicky 'I know you're there so I'm staring as hard as I can into the middle distance.' I plan to patent it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Farewell to Shady 'Bloody' Glade

We had dinner up at Dad's last Saturday and Knickers and I were bemoaning the Noodle's recent obsession with a Thomas the Tank Engine book his Godfather Mike, a regular reader, presented him with.
'Hmm, sounds like Shady Bloody Glade,' said Dad.
'Farewell to Shady Glade? I loved that book.'
'Well your mother didn't; "Shady Glade, read Shady Glade again Mum." Was all she heard from the four of you.' Dad used a very unkind voice for his imitation.

Shady Glade is indeed one of my all time, top-five, picture books. Man those bulldozers were scary. Considering my own recent experience it shouldn't suprise me that Mum became heartily sick of it and took to calling it, according to Dad, Shady Bloody Glade. Which would be, to put it in context, like you or I calling it Shady C*nting Glade. Apparently she disappeared it in the end. Still, I have such great memories of her reading to us all every night. She never let on that every nerve fibre was itching to get us off to sleep so she could stagger back to the kitchen and smoke half a pack of darts.

I guess it is the parents' burden to feign delight when the offspring bring home a painted rock they've stuck some string on, or - another recent thing for the Noodle - run at you index finger first shrieking 'I got the boogers. I got the boogers.'

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Monday, August 11, 2008

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Running Man

Ever since I returned to Adelaide in 2000 I've been telling people I'm going to run the City to Bay in less than an hour. That means running at at least 12kph for, well, one hour.

I've had two tilts at it, the last being maybe four years ago, and the goal still stands. My training regime then was less than ideal though. As the days counted down I kept revising my fitness plan until it became a 4k run today, tomorrow off, then 6k on Friday and the race on Sunday. Of that attempt I can only say that I managed to run, Cliff Young style, the whole way; and that there is no shame in being overtaken by female walkers who started 1/2 an hour after me.

Things are going to be different this time.

God knows we can't afford it, but we bought a treadmill a few weeks ago (what would Peter Singer think?) and nearly every second day I've been firing it up and pounding out the days frustrations; after the frustrations have been put to their respective bed and crib.

I used to be a treadmill cynic. When I lived in the Territory I used to run regularly on bush tracks. Those tracks provided privacy for my red-faced endeavours, fantastic scenery and the odd adrenalin burst when I encountered a snake or a water buffalo. The hard straight lines of the suburbs are comparatively dull and I hate having to straighten up, hold my breath and pick up the pace every time I pass a pedestrian or fellow jogger. Pride does indeed come before the infarction. Anyway that, and the control a treadmill provides, made me agree to the purchase (although my agreement was purely decorative) when Knickers suggested it as a means for a post baby fitness kick.

I'm alternating a slow one hour run with a faster paced interval run for between twenty and thirty minutes and making some improvement in my fitness. The best I've managed is 11k in an hour, so Istill have to squeeze in an extra k somewhere over the next four weeks.

While the fitness is improving, the ageing body is packing up. I had to run for the train this morning and the pain in my cold knees and ankles was near crippling. I fear one of these days I will find out that stretching before and after exercise is not just another lie brought to us by the 'don't eat and swim' people.


Sunday, August 10, 2008


I received this email in June and am only just starting to get over the disappointment

Dear Rob,

I’m finalising my selections for Cordite 28: Secret Cities, and would like to publish your poems Flood and South From Belconnen, if they are still available …

Can you let me know as soon as you can? I’ll also need a bio (50 words) and a weblink (if you’ve got one) …

Thanks to the funding of the Australia Council, we offer payments to our Australian contributors.

We’re expecting the issue to go online at the beginning of July. I’ll be in touch with more details soon.

Warm regards,


You might say, 'What are you whinning about Rob? They want to publish Flood and South From Belconnen. They want a bio and they're going to pay you. You'll be rich and famous like all those other poets.'

And I would reply that would be true...for the author of Flood and South From Belconnen. Who isn't me. It's someone else.

I fired a rather hopeful email off to David advising that there seemed to be a bit of a mix up, but my poems were still very much available if they were what he wanted and he'd just gotten the names of the accepted pile mixed up. He replied fairly promptly and confirmed that there had indeed been a bit of a mix up and no, he didn't want my poems.

I know you have to have a thick skin and it's only my second rejection letter (from two submissions) and there's no need to go all Bernard Black on his arse blah blah blah. It's just that the raising of my hopes - nay, the befriending of them with an arm draped chumlike across their shoulders with an air of camararderie - before the inevitable brutal betrayal and beating from behind with a whiskey bottle and the stomp on the neck finale, was particularly cruel.

And then he advised it was due to ' a mix-up in numbers/ anonymous submission meltdown.' Right

a mixy-up meltdown, not a fuck-up on his part. Psshht, whatever girlfriend.

Incidentally, I read Flood and South. They're alright, if you're into that whole poetic poetry with no swearing, cruelty to animals or references to masterbation kind of thing.

I actually started the bio.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Smelling the Flowers

Spent an hour on the blower to my mate Mike the other day. He lives in Cairns and is a recently separated father of two. No matter what other difficulties he's going through he continues to be an excellent dad and remains one of my parenting idols.

He was telling me how he takes his girls for walks; stopping whenever they want to look at something, explaining which spiders you can touch and which you shouldn't - a fairly easy sorting job for most of us - lying down to look up at the sky and generally whiling away the hours doing whatever the girls want.

I resolved to be more like that with the Noodle. So when I took him and the hounds to Mortlock Park the other day I decided to let him guide the fun.

He decided the fun was to be had playing outside the men's toilet and change rooms, picking up items of interest and throwing them down the drain. These items included used strapping, bottle tops, cigarette butts and pieces of broken glass. At that point I decided I was comfortable with our previous arrangement and dragged him, kicking and screaming, to the jungle gym.

Hmmm, just re-read the previous paragraph and noted that I said my son likes to pick up outside men's toilets.

My other son continues to thrive on mother's milk and now tops 4kg. His oft crossed eyes are beginning to focus, his tiny hands grab and pull at anything they can catch and today he gave me what may well have been the beginnings of a smile.