Friday, October 21, 2011

Express Yourself


I received a thankyou card yesterday in the mail. Lovely card. From a friend who had stayed with us for a few days and had done the proper old fashioned polite thing of sending a thankyou card afterwards.
My dilemma, besides admiring her lovely old-fashioned handwriting and beating myself up for my daggy went-to-school in the 80’s script, was what to do about the card. In today’s world of excess communication, how was I to thank the sender for the thankyou card, or indeed, was I to at all? Do I text and say ‘what a lovely card!’ Do I mention the card next time we speak on the phone (which is not often because we text…) Do I email? Do I thank her on Facebook? Do I post on my Twitter? Should I ‘Google Plus’ my ‘circle’ and ask for advice? How long do I keep this card for? Do I display it? Do I cut the front off and decoupage with it or something? Isn’t that what people did in the olden days????????
No. I simply asked our teenager. A young brain, unaffected by the cynicism and substance abuse of adulthood.
Are you ready for her take on thankyou cards?
“Oh. That’s nice.”
Uhuh. Nice. It is. Thankyou cards ARE nice. Pretty much everyone who has stayed here recently has sent a thankyou card (or even a present!!!) My MOTHER sends cards to everybody. And, as BHG (the teenager) says, “that’s nice.”
I, therefore, suck. And I, from now on, shall be consistent in my sending of thankyou cards.
HOWEVER, this scenario does lead me to contemplate modern communication and how one expresses oneself. Oh, that and watching Downtown Abbey. Where the gentry have time in the afternoon to ‘return correspondence’. Between ‘tea’ and having one’s hair tonged for dinner. Lady Blossy shall investigate having her own wax seal. Obviously. And having a maid or two. And a driver.
These days, we’re all about people learning to ‘express’ themselves. I wonder whether modern technology has made communication and therefore, expression, better or worse. It has certainly made it easier in that I can make a free video call to the USA to say something that would’ve taken me months to say via sea mail a century ago. And yet, whilst Skyping, I don’t really have to think in advance about what I’ll say. I certainly don’t need to paragraph. Using my computer this Christmas I could mail merge my contacts list with a downloaded greeting and attach a couple of family pics and have it in people’s Inbox without ever lifting a pen. In fact I don’t forget birthdays anymore because an App on my iPhone syncs with my contacts and my Facebook to ensure that at noon each day I’m given a pleasant reminder to send an electronic birthday wish somewhere in the world. Today I started using iCloud on my iPad. I don’t know why but it helps me communicate… or something.
But all of that is different to the art of ‘correspondence’ is it not? Do I still KNOW how to write a proper letter? By… (shudder) HAND?
I once had penpals.
Susanna from Svveeeeden for example. I was part of some fancy registry that linked up children from all over the world and let them correspond via handwritten letters. Susanna and I were very close… by the time we got around to writing a letter (“Hello, I am going on holidays to Keepit Dam soon and I am verrrry excited. Even more excited than when we went to Dubbo last year. How are you? Is it cold in Sweden? Do you have to eat meatballs to stay warm? Did you know Smorgasbord is a Swedish word that means you can eat as much as you want?”) , conning an international stamp out of our parents (woah… a DOLLAR!), actually posting the letter and letting a ship take it to the other side of the world…. Well. Susanna and I got about two letters a year each. And yes. She did eat meatballs. The tyranny of distance and handwriting let us down in the end, Susanna from Svveeeeden and I. Had we been able to Facebook, or Skype, or email, perhaps we wouldn’t have given up. Maybe. At least I wouldn’t forget her birthday.
My mother doesn’t have email. There. I said it. I mean… geez, even my bushie dad has a Telstra ‘dingle dongle’ for the ‘netterweb’ and a mobile phone.
I have a family member who I have to call, by phone, on a HOME number. Attended by an answering machine with one single button. She doesn’t text, email, Facebook, Skype , Twitter, read blogs or Google. She writes. My mother writes hundreds of letters a year, in two languages. Which I think is fabulous, except that it inconveniences Modern Me terribly. I have to print photos off at K-Mart for her instead of attaching them, or MMS-ing them. Recently she and I had an exchange (by phone…) where she was delighted to inform me that a cousin of mine had given birth the night before. “Yes, I know”, I said. Ooops.
“You KNOW. How do YOU KNOW?”
“Ummm, the pictures were on Facebook by breakkie mum.”
“Yes, of course they were. I’ll get a picture in the mail. Eventually. Lovely looking baby I imagine. Excellent gene pool.”

My teenager will never have such luxury.
Her parents are ‘friends’ on every form of social media she uses. We watch her every move online (kind of) like stalkers. We could GPS her whereabouts on the mobile phone we provided her… if we wanted to. Which means, in effect, that we have made her SO accessible in communicating with us that she does so ALL the time. We had to cut off her unlimited texting plan on the mobile because she drove us all up the wall communicating. Like, I don’t care whether you’re on your way to Maths kid! Just bloody well go there. We have limits on the frequency of status updates on Facebook and have banned ‘Facebook marriages’ to best friends. We also screen all her digital photographs but have stopped short of hacking her email account. That's the modern akin to making your teenager leave their bedroom door open apparently. God knows how people with six children do this. No wonder teenagers don’t DO anything anymore. When BHG went for a bike ride yesterday afternoon, the first thing I asked was, “Do you have your phone?” Gone are the days of “Be home by dark, don’t talk to strangers, don’t have sex. Use your MANNERS!!!!”
And that is what this all comes down to. Manners.
The actual art of saying, ‘thankyou’. We are all trained in the ways of the time that our culture accepts as appropriate. Be it at Mrs Jones’ place when I was eleven and on my bike and she gave me an orange, or be it when I’m thirty-nine and a good turn is received. However you choose to do it, please express yourself. With gratitude. Because that’s nice.
Say it with me…
“Thank you”.
Express Yourself, Madonna, 1989.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Baby you can Drive my (new) Car

Brad the Tradie bought a new car.

Two weeks after getting me a second hand pushbike.

I'm not cross. It's a work car. But it is a little ironic. He has done the whole 'Baby you can drive my car' thing, and I fully intend to, given that he purchased a gorgeous new Holden Thunder ute thingy. Eventually. After I forgive him for buying a MANUAL gearbox. Gah! I've never understood the logic of buying a car with a manual gearbox. I mean... when are you supposed to drink your coffee if you're bloody well changing gears all the time?

I like my Urban Assault Vehicle.

It's a four-wheel drive, or as the yanks would say, an SUV. I drove it off-road once, but mainly I take Kimmy to Woolworths and back. An automatic, God bless her. And HIGH off the ground, so I can just run over any gutters or kerbs in the way. I'm not good with any lower cars, aka, 'cars you can't run over gutters in'. I don't know why they bother making those type of cars really. And, of course, Brad the Tradie's new ute is not only a bloody manual but also is LOW to the ground. A bitumen caresser.

Baby you can drive my car.... as long as you don't break it.

SO picky.

Just because there was that little incident a few years back with the car before the Navara, a little white Nissan thingy he called Bluey. It was quite an interesting gutter, the one I ran up in Bluey. Came out of nowhere really. It was only a little crunch for such a lot of damage too. Gutters are likely to make me nervous in New Ute. BUT, in event of emergency of HAVING to drive New Ute before it has any scratches not caused by moi, I have calculated route of minimal gutters between here and Woolies. Just in case... ie, I am forced to drive BtT's ute because Kimmy is elsewhere or temporarily incapacitated. Have got plan involving drinking coffee BEFORE driving (v unusual and quite inconvenient circumstance, so will have to plan house exit well in advance...) Have even chosen potential carpark at shops such that I don't have to reverse AND turn at the same time in the precious ute.

Don't get the wrong idea. I do like a good ute.

I grew up in the heart of Bogan B & S land...that's the good Aussie tradition of Bachelor & Spinster's balls for you youngens. Those classy events weren't really 'balls' in the same way as a Debutante soirĂ©e, though in my experience there were plenty of the other type of 'balls' dressed in their bestest moleskins and Levi 501's. And utes a plenty. In fact, bringing a ute was quite handy, given that it doubled as a bed for the night once the keg(s) ran out. Sleeping in the back of a ute was generally a bit on the nose with the aroma of cattle dog, hay and the previous night's technicolour yodel, but acceptable emergency accommodation none the less. So, I KNOW utes. I even owned one for a while. It was a chick ute, so I called her Uterus. A humming V8 Holden, bought in the days before you needed to be an heiress to afford the hooning fuel. (BTW, to my knowledge no one ever hurled in my ute... maybe a dog...)

But, being a bit scared of running over a gutter that jumps out of nowhere in BtT's glamorous New Ute, and having BtT drive my SUV on days he needs to tow three tonnes or use 4WD, I'm facing a very 1970's dilemma...

Having to ride my bike.

I say 'having' to ride my bike because that's different to 'wanting' to ride my bike. See, when my pre-loved fuschia Malvern Star 'Stella' first appeared I wanted to go for a ride. Like people do on Sundays in states of Australia where seven-day trading isn't legal (oh, that's just Western Australia apparently where life is stuck in 1982 and can't get out...) I like to WANT to ride my bike, not HAVE to.

Wanting to ride Stella necessitates a variety of conditions to align at once.


Sunshine, temperature in the mid twenties, no heavy wind (but slight breeze to cool face), good night's sleep, clean leggings, charged iPod, cold drink bottle, etc. Let's face it people...I'm not Cadel Evans. I don't ride up French mountains in the rain for the hell of it. I like optimal riding conditions, or.... I won't go. Riding is hard enough without adding yukky things like wind or warm drink bottles into the mix.


Just one condition out of place is enough to turn wanting to ride into having to ride. I have documented this in the past few weeks, and I give you my list of cycling preparation disasters:

1. Couldn't find iPod arm band. Wasn't major problem as discovered I could shove iPod down my undies. Looked like weird pelvis mutation, but acceptable.

2. Wet bike seat. ick. Why is it you never notice something like a wet seat until AFTER you've sat on it?

3.  Helmet malfunction. mental note... Do up the clippy thing under the chin BEFORE taking off. That way the helment stays on.

I don't remember riding a bike to be this hard. I used to do it every day as a kid. It didn't take me half an hour to prepare, nor was I a danger to self and others. This theory that you can pick one up thereafter in your life and it's 'just like a riding a bike' is bullshit. I used to be able to wave quite successfully at passers-by and still steer with one hand. Can't anymore apparently. Have taken to using smile-n-nod as my greeting strategy. Also, have discovered that I cannot change songs on the iPod whilst in motion. Granted, that is a little more complex given that the iPod needs to be fished out of the front of my undies first. Nor can I turn the bike suddenly in gravel, dodge broken glass in the underpass like chicanes, or hang onto a leashed dog and let her pull me along (for exercise for HER you understand, not to make it easier for ME...)

So this begs the question of just how I will manage when my car is at work with BtT and the shiny new and as yet unscratched ute remains in the garage. I wouldn't want to HAVE to ride Stella to the shops and cart milk home or return library books in drizzly weather.

No choice really. Shall just sit it out until New Ute loses his sheen, acquires a mark or isn't looked at so lovingly by his owner. Shouldn't take long given that the teenager is due to learn to drive soon.

And when BtT insists, "Baby you can drive my car" I'll just reply, "Nah, it's fine thanks darl. I've got my bike if I need to go anywhere... is that a scratch there?????"

Baby You Can Drive My Car, The Beatles, 1965.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Glory Days

Forgive me if I seem a little tense.

It’s just that I’ve been out grocery shopping. (Cue collective understanding sigh….)
Yes, I’ve been out hunting and gathering so that the grasshoppers that live with me don’t starve to death. I have told them, particularly the teenage grasshopper, that starvation is unlikely in our semi-affluent suburb; however, she looked at me and repeated, “I’m hungry, and there’s NOTHING to eat.”

Apparently teenagers are not happy to go out the back and graze on herbs anymore.
I pointed out to her (using appropriately dramatic word emphasis and eye rolling, as understood by teenage girls), that there is PLENTY of parsley… the posh variety, not that curly one, and a couple of under ripe passionfruit, continuing that she’d be well advised to check the garden in future before generalising that there is NOTHING to eat.

And when did teenagers even eat at home anyway?
I remember swallowing the contents of my friends and neighbours pantries when there was ‘nothing to eat’ at ‘my house’ (technically my parent’s house, although in my egocentric adolescence I too believed that they were there to serve me just because they brought me into this world and that it was their dying wish to ensure that I was constantly content). And I wasn’t that fussy as to not to check for garden produce, out-dated jars or unusual edibles. In fact, once, I was so hungry that I ate a jar of Vitamin C tablets at Natalie’s house. So (and I did emphasise this to my starving teenager) I DO get it… that’s she HUNGRY. My point was to argue that there was, in fact, SOMETHING to eat.

And I was winning.
Until Brad the Tradie came home from work, opened the fridge, stared at it and said, “Our fridge looks like a Uni student’s”. Hmmm. My angst here existed on several levels. 1. How did BtT even KNOW what a Uni student’s fridge looks like? (unlike myself who has four tertiary qualifications… I would KNOW.) 2. Did he HAVE to say it when the teenager was IN THE FECKING ROOM? And… 3. To make matters worse, my friend Smurfette, who has a full-time job and is coordinating building a house, bloody well cooked white chocolate and raspberry puddings the other night from the Masterchef website. Bugger.

Cue collective sympathy.
Oh alright. I don’t even deserve sympathy. I don’t work, I have a couple of measly things to do each day and then I … could… I suppose… go grocery shopping. Except that I don’t like it. Hang on, let me say that with more emphasis to see if I can wring a little, teensy bit of sympathy out of you…
I don’t LOIKE IT.
We all have to do things we don’t like, you know. (Yes, thanks mum….) So I did it. Not the ‘top-up shop’ or ‘popping in and grabbing a few things’ or even the ‘I’ll grab a smaller-version trolley that holds flowers and baguettes’ shop. The ‘allocate at least half a day, three different supermarkets and don’t forget the eco-bags’ shop. So, I figured that if I was going to go grocery shopping, I may as well put myself in contention for wife and parent of the year awards and … yes… not only write a shopping list, but also… hit some recipe books. Well, not exactly BOOKS, but a couple of Good Taste magazines and my Ipad. Quicker. And I might’ve, you know, browsed the Masterchef site a little.
I’ll spare you the gory details. Except to say that there is a dried sage leaf shortage in my suburb.
Uhuh. I couldn’t believe it either. You know those herb racks where the little buggers are all alphabetically arranged? Three brands. Two supermarkets and a discount produce store. No dried Sage leaves. What to do? I temporarily considered ducking into Bunnings and flogging a handful from the garden section (and yes, I know I should be growing my own Sage, thank you, I’m getting there…). In the end I just substituted Rosemary and still don’t know whether that affected the taste of my Beef & Chorizo Ragout with Crispy Potato Stacks.
And THEN there was Sunday evening’s Masterchef debacle.
If Coles is where a Masterchef shops, then I would kindly like to know in WHICH frigging aisle the maltodextrin and liquid nitrogen are kept. I, based on the success of the Ragout, would like to make Frosty the Snowman demonstrated in the Masterchef finale, complete with yoghurt snow crystals, carrot sorbet and … well… everything. But I can’t, can I? Because I shopped where a Masterchef bloody well shops, and there was no maltodextrin or liquid nitrogen. Even asked the assistant, who, by the way, promises to take you to the exact spot in Coles where your ingredients await. A necessary addition to the modern supermarket because of the crap we now cook. She laughed. Apparently a few people have asked since Sunday.
Which brings me to my point.
My mother (yes, mother, as my father merely tended barbecues and gutted fish caught from the river like other good bogan dads) cooked meat and three veg most nights. Except Friday night, which was ‘special night’ (eg, fish n chips, or my fave, ‘I bought a wok, let’s make homemade Chinese food!’). And except Saturday, which was ‘get it yourself’ night (eg, stay at someone else’s house or make a toasted sandwich). And except Sunday, which was packet soup night (eg, Cream of Mushroom, Chicken Noodle) with sliced white bread (toasted sometimes). But every other night, we had meat and three veg. At 6pm. With a glass of water. Happily. And said ‘thankyou’ afterwards. No dessert. Just the washing up (“wipe the bench too!”), and then settled in to watch The Sullivans or A Country Practice before gleefully skipping off to bed at 8:30pm. I did not eat pomegranates unless they grew close by. Bananas were not $15 a kilo, nor considered a luxury item. Cordial was a luxury item. As were Tim-Tams.
So. When did the bar raise?
I missed it. The glory years of stay-at-home parenting/wife-ing. Where you watched, I don’t know, The Midday show in a housedress, and then trotted off to watch the kids ride their bike home and take them for a fresh apple, at Charlie's down the road, before reciting times tables and opening a packet of sausages for dinner.
That’s it. I want my glory days people.
And there will be no dried sage leaves required.


Glory Days, Bruce Springsteen, 1985.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


OMG. I sooooooo need a holiday.

Oh shut up. Like, I KNOW I just got back from Ayz-ee-ah, but it's post-Asia depression (PAD) that's kinda the iss-you. I just can't take three weeks off my life and expect to come home and resume a normal state of unemployment. There's too much to bloody well do!

Not that I've really started 'doing' any of it. Yet. Bless my VGF (Very Good Friend) Organica, who stepped into the role of my mother and rang me at nine am the first morning home (after a 2am bedtime... Thanks darl!! Although, granted, she HAD found the on-sale Dr Feelgood thongs I want...) and asked me whether I'd put the frigging washing on yet.  The answer to which was no. We hadn't even looked at the suitcases, one of which was trashed by Tiger Air's roooly careful handling of our baggage between Thailand, Singapore and Perth. And here I was thinking that a hundred and thirty-three bucks got you quality air travel. How naive I am. Although, we did get seats in Row 1, which gave extra leg room and quick access to the loo (Yes, we went to Asia, quick access to the loo is more than a bit handy!) and first crack at the six dollar can of red wine from in-flight service (2.6 standard drinks! Value!)  which went down well with a 'Christ I hate cheap flights' diazepam tablet.

I hate getting home and finding that the welcome home elf hasn't been.

In my perfect world, a little elf crawls in through a crevice (or chimney...but let's face it, this is Perth, not the North Pole so a crevice or broken window is a bit more likely) and puts a litre each of milk and Pepsi Max in my cleaned fridge, washes the dogs, mows the lawn, sorts the mail, does the groceries and checks the bin doesn't stink. No elf. So Brad the Tradie and I went to bed (which isn't as good as the one at the Marriott resort in Thailand) without a Pillow Menu (a la Intercontinental Singapore) and lamented the PAD... sigh... we're not on holidays anymore Toto.

Stuff happens while you're away.

It's like being in some alternate universe where you expect that everything stays the same unless you're there to watch it change. Example: in order to get a coffee with milk on our first morning back I needed to venture out of the house (yeah, righto I went to Maccas drive through so it wasnt really that hard...). After attempting to pay a pimply 15 year old with a Singaporean five dollar note ("Hey miss, is this even real money??") I lamely drove off, sucking on my overdue morning coffee (and it was not 'extra hot' as I had instructed... is it too damn hard for people to understand extra hot? Really?) I noticed that there was one less take away open. Yep, Pasta in a Cup had closed down whilst I was in Asia. I'd never eaten there (seriously, Pasta in a CUP as a take-away concept? Blech) but the thing is, I felt a little tug of loss anyway, because it had closed down while I was GONE.  Three new house slabs were poured nearby, a half finished abode completed (where are we supposed to steal bags of cement from now??) and loaves of bread are suddenly cheaper. We even had a power problem that means we missed three weeks of telly (thank god they delayed the grand final of Dancing With the Stars until i got back! Phew!) Things did not stop just because we went away. Bugger it.

Even though I've got less to 'get back into' these days, I still hate that 'getting back into it' feeling.

The Unpack. The wash of the holiday clothes (sigh, pack the sarong away...).  The four-day digestive system flush (those who go to Asia know what i mean....) The letting everyone know you're back (which would be much simpler if everyone was on email or social networking quite frankly). The sleeping on non-hotel not-that-crisp and really not-at-all white sheets. The hoisting of photos on Facebook (a bit depressing and gloaty at the same time). AND... The Shop. Turning the fridge back on and hunting, gathering, chopping, cooking, cleaning up afterwards.... Makes you wish you'd brought half the staff of a cruise ship or resort back with you really. Surely it doesn't take twenty five ingredients to make a four-dish Thai buffet platter?   It only took me five trips to the supermarket to make me think that I might not need to go back for a few days (Thai cooking attempt not included). Then there's the taking back of overdue books, the opening of a bucket of mail (seriously? has the offspring's school got nothing better to do than send me bills for Voluntary Contributions? I've told them that the contributions are bloody well voluntary, what's with the monthly reminder????) and the placing of Thai Silk table runners purchased only a week or so ago in a warm, tropical climate where bright things look pretty.

None of which is terribly stressful or difficult.

It's just.... not as good as being on holiday. But then, if our everyday life WAS as good as being on holiday then we wouldn't need JetStar, Tiger or Southwest airlines would we? Perhaps holidays, like many things in life that used to be deemed 'extra-spesh' and rare (like hair mousse and floppy disks) are simply closing the gap. I remember when most kids didn't have passports and overseas was somewhere rich people went for their honeymoon. Any family that went OS to somewhere posh, like Fiji, had to host a neighbourhood slide night with detailed description of the destinations that the rest of us had only ever seen in Encyclopedia Britannica and the occasional David Attenborough documentary. Where we all went "OOO... Ahhhh... how NOICE!!!!" whilst eating something new and different from overseas like stir-fried pork in plum sauce. Now, you just whip the photos from the iPhone to Facebook and see if anyone cares. And if you travel in winter no one can even appreciate your tan ("They traveled to THAILAND!! AND SUNBAKED? Well that's just asking for an early grave!!") Except that my weird looking face that looks like a raccoon where my sunnies were permanently glued can't really be ignored ("What's wrong with your face darl? Have you been skiing or something?")

And now, a week on from our arrival back home, life has returned to normal, albeit with a tad more Pad Thai on the dinner menu.

Sighing, I longingly read the ingredients of pastes and sauces in the 'weird shit' aisle at the supermarket. And we live our lives in preparation to do it all again. Holiday... it would be so nice. Slide night anyone?

 Holiday, Madonna, 1983.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yellow Polka-dot Burqini

Bogan parents of the world unite.

Yes, I have found the solution to international tensions and racial conflict between cultures.

It is... The hotel swimming pool and bar.

Being in Thailand this week has enabled BtT to slip into a coma, and me to observe a range of international forms of boganism. After two luxurious nights at the Intercontinental in Singapore with complimentary everything, it was time for us to detox and have a wee little lie down. At one of those family holiday resorts that tight arsed middle class holidays makers go to.

You know. The places in developing countries that exploit workers and cheap resource suppliers happy to be underpaid in order to provide a fascimile of luxury. Where Bogans like moi can collect bathroom vanity products to take home and call them 'gifts'. Places where the quality and size of the hotel pool dictates the level of poshness of the holiday. "Mayyyyyyte, shoulda seen the bloody pool! massive! Swim up bar, little helpful pool boys brought us a towel, those back massaging jets, beee-yoooo-ti-foool!"

And it would seem the same for people from non-Oz places.

Different swimsuits styles, different accents, but still the same middle class values. Where the word 'bliss' is defined in two words, 'kid's club' and happy hour means the same thing in any language...half price booze and nibbles. The yanks, bless 'em, have that permeating tone to their voice that radiates across the serenity of pool-side, "AUDREY! auuuuuuuuud-dreeeeeeeee! get out of the pool now. Ya burnt as a French fry in Louisiana girlfriend!" And out Audrey schlumps. Pink, like the rest of us. Half her togs gaping open at the back and her hair dripping all over her iPhone.

There's the Indian family who travels in a large sparkly Bollywood lion pride, with their kids dressed in glow-in-the-dark life vests for evening safety. The Middle East families in swim-burqinis (yes really, that's what they're called) fashionable covered head to toe in all manner of polka dots, patterns and colours (not so itsy-bitsy actually). Quite a use of Lycra compared to the Japanese bikinis, which are so small, yet still cover tiny little Japanese frames. The male Chinese swimshorts, tight around the nether regions and high waisted are worth the price of a Singha beer to watch. The pink Poms and their kids covered in floaties ("Oooi now, dont go too bloody far...oh OK, whatever, I don't care, I'm going to the bar..."). The Malaysian family whose little girl just was dying to go back to kid's club because her parents "just want to sleep". And the Aussies, bless us, whose children all have their hair plaited into little braids with beads on the end (compulsory Asian holiday treat) and wear nasty Tar-jay swimmers all day long. Parents at the bar, grandparents asleep with a book (or pretending to be in case the kids want attention again) and people like BtT and I, just lying there in the pool floating, wondering whether the Third world is a good place or a bad place to holiday (Safety? Huh??? We'll be fine mum!)

Ah well, regardless of culture, you'll all find us at the Mai Khao Marriott Beach Club pool bar this arve at five comparing whether the Banana Colada is better than the Southern Shakeshake.

In any language, it beats workin'!
Yellow polka dot bikini, Brian Hyand, 1960

Somewhere Over the Wainbow

Prepare yourself for a sob story.

When I was a little Bogan my parents didn't take me to fancy hotels. They took the family .... camping. Uhuh. Practically child abuse. Possibly even worse, we occasionally, every five years or so, we'd do a realllllllly special holiday to the beach at Port Macquarie or Surfer's Paradise and stay at a two-star motel. The kind where we could park the EH Holden station wagon at the door. The kind that had a hole in the wall to pass the bread through in the morning for breakfast. The kind with a little pool for the kids, where my older brother would try to drown me then threaten to kill me if I dobbed. And yet, this was somehow better than staying at home.

I no longer have the desire to camp, and have replaced the front of 'otel' from a 'm' to a 'h'. Five star preferably.

And quite frankly, I think Asia has nailed luxury hotels. Which I quite strange for a continent that smells as bad as it does. I'm a bit of a snot really. I like at least an hour or two of complimentary drinks and nibbles in the evening. And a pillow menu with my choice of scented inserts (Jasmine naturally). And high-speed free internet. And scented face washers on little trays. And mirrors that make me look just a tad thinner than usual (nothing like traveling to Asia to give one an attack of Hippopotamus-itus.)

I contemplated Asia over my complimentary high tea (aloe vera jelly with dragon fruit seeds anyone?) at the Singpapore Intercontinental. Asia is such a hotchpotch of people, hygiene standards and currencies that I think I'd like whoever runs Singapore put in charge of Asia. Of creating the Emerald City at the end of the wellow bwick woad. To create a fully air-conditioned Asian paradise that has the beaches of Phuket and Vietnam, the shopping of Shanghai, Malaysia, China and Hong Kong, the airport, hygiene, organization of Singapore, the hotels of Macau and a Thai massage to round it all off.

Asian people are so damned little.

I think, having tripped here a little, that evolution created them this way so that their thighs don't rub together in the humidity. Like mine do. I have a little penguin waddle I do to avoid chafing... TMI? Yes, probably. Standing, waiting for a taxi, I thought I was coping well with the humidity until I felt trickles of perspiration dripping down my legs, my arms, my back.... It's why you wear a dress in Asia, to cover your modesty and also to mop up with afterwards.

Travelling in the wet season does have its advantages in Asia.

 Like being able to afford a club room at the Intercontinental for a start. And also, it rains, which for us Perth Bogans was quite a treat. "Wook!!!" said Brad the Tradie. "a rainbow! been a while since we've seen one of those!" "Ahhhhhhhh...." replied the taxi driver, "Many, many wainbow here. but many, many building cover wainbow to make Sing-uh-pore wery wery rich, so sometimes not see wainbow!" Poor successful as hell country with all the money and progress covering the wainbows.

Pass me another Singapore Sling and I'll sympathise for them.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Judy Garland, 1939

Monday, June 27, 2011

Born To Be Wild

Old people are frightening.

Not recent retirees or the spring chickens in their 60's. It must be some sort of combination of being let out of the 'Lifestyle Villages', being tube-fed martinis and knowing that every day may be their last. I've never seen so many over 80's getting jiggy with it.

Seriously. Cruise ships on longish voyages outside of school holiday season ARE generally known to attract of white middle class elderly chooks spending their late husbands' (plural) superannuation. They remind me of packs of teenage school leavers, travelling together and enjoying absolutely everything that comes their way.

Including Brad the Tradie.

Yep, he's a superstar on this cruise ship. Tall, 'strapping', doesnt mind helping people up from the table or into a wheelchair and he's good at trivia. He's a keeper. As twice-widowed Rae from our dinner table said to me, "If you're finished with him love, I'll have a go!"

The activities on board are pretty wild too. Each night we get a Princess Patter, a little newsletter with the following day's activities listed. For the old chooks this document is their lifeblood. You see them pacing around with highlighters, meeting in packs for a lar-tay to decide what the pack schedule for the day entails. Tai Chi at seven. Breakfast (stewed prunes...gotta keep reg-oo-lah!) Photography talk. Choir practice. Morning tea. Trivia. Bag making ( "ooo look Beryl! we're putting an origami fish on the bag today!") Lunch. port lecture. Movie. Afternoon tea. trivia. Craft of the day ("Is it advanced quilling do you think June? I wouldn't want to waste my time going to a beginniners class...") wine tasting, blackjack, pilates, Snowball Jackpot Bingo, Line dancing.... It goes on and on.

Brad the Tradie is an old-person's holiday fantasy. He nails away his trivia team on the first day at sea. Always. He practically interviews candidates in order to get a winning composition of people who know useless stuff. He plays to win too. Lanyards, playing cards, hats. Trivia is a competitive sport on cruise ships. Which mountain range divides Tunisia and Morocco? How many hurdles are there in the 400m event? Who was the 1938 Time magazine man of the year? when I go along occasionally, I take my vodka. Our team contains a married couple in their late sixties who are Buddhist Vegans who make money renovating pubs. Yes, really. And they know stuff. Weird stuff.

And then there's the night time.

Comedians telling viagra and prostate jokes. Formal nights with as many nanna sequins as Lincraft could muster. Juiced up iverive-shot cocktails by nine, they are all up doing Karaoke. I've never quite seen Kentucky Rose done the way Joyce did it the other night. All she needed was a pole and her bar tab could've been taken care of by the smattering of old codger dudes. We, of course, do NOT karaoke and poor BtT looks a little pained whenever we pass through. These people stay up until all hours swaying and singing along to Barbra Streisand tunes.

But moi?

I'm a little tame for this wild crowd. I'm happily alternating between reading in the sun and swimming in the sun and making sure I don't miss the free champagne at the Art show at 2:30 each day. I need to pace myself. Unlike the octogenarian pack, I've got too much to live for.

Like making sure the Wild Things don't capture my husband and cover him in honey for endless evenings of Guess That Tune. Unless he's managed to get written into the will of course. Then all bets are off!

Born To Be Wild, Steppenwolf, 1968.