Monday, March 29, 2010

Go West

Goodbye Bogan-villea, hello ‘The West’.

We've made it. We've ARRIVED. After months of packing, two bulged discs, humanely euthanising the mangey cat and successfully throwing most of what we own into the tip, BtT, the adolescent and I boarded a cheap one-way flight to The West (well we boarded eventually… these things have to be expected with cheap one-way flights) and I must say, we arrived with quite a bang.

The rello’s, being humorous and midst a three-month drought, asked us to ‘bring the rain with us’. Didn’t seem like a bad request, so… we did. Picky bastards apparently didn’t want flash flooding or hailstorms though. People bloody well want everything don’t they?

Our cars, being unable to drive themselves across, were still coming by train, or truck or ship or something (after organising so many things we’re unable to remember details… there’s a receipt somewhere… hope for the best…) and of course the new house by the beach isn’t ready yet (bloody tradespeople) and so we’re staying with rello’s. I like to call them B2 (second brother of four… BtT being B4) and SIL 2 (sister in law 2). They’ve generously offered use of their cars here and there. B2 has a brand new Mercedes so we avoid that one for fear it may have Bond-like powers behind all the fancy buttons and leather. We chose SIL 2’s Honda. Brand new. Zippy. Good cup holders. The Company pays for the fuel. Done!

'The Company' you ask? What type? We’ll get to that later…

So here we were, zipping around in the Honda, checking out the beach, our progressing new home (with roof, good sign…) thinking ‘ahhhhh, this is nice. LOVE the weather here. Shall we get a convertible some time? Maybe after the jetski.’ BtT had lined up a few quotes for work (“ahhh yeah, I can rip that out for ya mate…”), one of which was in a posh suburb where people pay ridiculous amounts of money for tradies to make things look swank.

No worries, SIL 2 insisted, take the Honda. In retrospect, not a good call.

I like to go to quotes with BtT. I get to operate the GPS if I behave. I get to sit in the car. I listen to the radio, play my iPhone games and do random things like calculate the proportion of passers-by wearing rubber thongs. BtT goes in, salesman-like, writing things down, humming, hahhhhhing, saying posh plant names aloud, measuring bits, charming homeowners and then we leave. Usually fairly uneventful. Except today… for today we are doing the first quote ‘in the West’.
“Ahhhh, and over here I’m thinking paving… (or whatever it is that BtT suggests)”
“LOVING it!!! You are an East Coast Landscapery God!”

And then it happened.

A piece of hail the size of a cricket ball landed between BtT and ‘the client’.
“Right”, yelled BtT, “I’m outta here. Give ya call with the quote!”
And with that off we drove, in the Honda, to
a) find shelter (fail),
b) outrun the storm (fail)
c) be hailed upon stuck in traffic like half of Perth (success!!)

Brockie did end up outrunning most of the storm once we’d passed ‘the tunnel’ (local speak for a tunnel…) and we only managed to slightly wreck SIL2’s car. Nothin’ on B2’s day though. He partially owns an insurance company. Ooopsie. Dinner conversation:
“How was your day b2?”
“Pretty shit.”
“Yeah, fair enough”.

There’s been other settling in events that warrant mention, mainly involving the BHG’s grasp of the English language. There are very large gumnut things here, like HUGE. They’re called Honky Nuts and up in ‘the Hills’ where we’re staying temporarily there’s even a large honky nut water feature on a roundabout (yes, really) celebrating the honky nut. So, here we were walking along to the shops, wearing sneakers instead of thongs in order to avoid slipping on the damn gumnuts on ‘roids and BHG says, “good grief there’s a lot of those horny nuts around here!” BtT commended BHG on her Bogan creativity, but we suggested that we remember to call them honky nuts in front of Gran. Grandad might susggest a home bottling day of these prolific aphrodisiacs.

Then there’s my Bogan accent.
Blossy kinda never knew she had an accent until she went to university in the big smoke. There, a prac teaching supervisor tried to elocute me by suggesting I don’t ‘drop me g’s and y’s, hence stop sayin’ stuff like “Oi kids, we’re gunna go runnin’ and jumpin’, wanna cum out and do playin’ on the grass ay?” I thought I was rather clever once I started speakin’ in sentences instead of cluttered phrases…. definite progress at eighteen years of age for Bush Bogan Blossy. Well now, in The West, I’m being picked as …. yes… the unthinkable… a Noo Zealunder. Which, of course, I AM NOT. As the friggin’ sign I’m about to hang around me neck clearly says.

Looks like we’ll have to make a sign for BHG as well, regarding the ‘home schooling’. Seeing as though we’re an hour’s drive from the new house (and school) for eight weeks, I’m home schooling her (that bloody teaching degree did come in handy after all...) which is apparently not an issue for anyone except the lady at the Fruit & Veg store. Twice now she’s asked the BHG “why aren’t you at school today?”. The first time BHG answered “I’m being home schooled”. To which we were were given that ' have moved into our unfestered suburb look'. Ok, so I WAS wearing tie-dye and brushing my hair now seems slightly unnecessary now that I'm unemployed. The second time BHG was asked, this afternoon, she just stared blankly at this truant-officer-come-fruiterer. I answered for her today. Something along the lines of “She’s being home-schooled.” Fruity Freida replied, “Oh yes, you told me that last time didn’t you?” Yes,  we did. Shall we get a sign? Is it illegal to have a 14 year old at the shops at 2pm on a weekday? Shall I get BHG to spell some random words aloud to prove she’s not kept locked in an attic? We’re not a weird religion you know. We just eat a lot of fruit, enjoy Foxtel and we’re temporarily HOME-SCHOOLING. Thanks for your interest!

And so the evening falls (discerningly early... due to the lack of daylight saving here...) upon another ‘day of adjustment’ to life in what is not a foreign country, merely the other side of Australia. No immunisations or passport required, yet a different culture nonetheless.

Horny nut anyone?


Go West, The Village People, 1979.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

C'mon Aussie, c'mon!

It’s just not cricket.

The Bingle Bungle that is. During this fortnight’s disastrous turn of events between Clarkey and Lara I’m left flummoxed and left with no other choice but to blog my embarrassment on behalf of Bogan Babes everywhere. And I apologise in advance to my international readers for the terribly Aussie content of today’s blog post. I’m sure this scandal hasn’t made international headlines. Jeez, I hope not.

Drama, drama, drama. Let me fill you in, North Americans and Brits (and any Aussies living under a rock). Let’s use point form to recap.

1. Lara loves Michael. ‘He’ being the all important Michael Clarke, the vice-captain of the Aussie cricket team. ‘She’ being Lara Bingle, the chick in the ‘where the bloody hell are you?’ series of Tourism Australia ads and stupid blonde who (prior to Clarkey) slept with ‘Fev’ (Brendan Fevola, brainless Aussie Rules footy player with a smashed in nose), supposedly not realising that he was married. “Nooo!! He’s loike, MARRIED??? Who knew?? Oopsssie!!!” She and He (Clarkey, not Fev) appear together in several glossy mags, society pages Aussie-style (ie, The Sunday Telegraph newspaper) and promote Bonds undies and some sort of energy drink. They shack up together in a cushy pad in Bondi. Michael buys Lara expensive engagement rock. “ohhhhh NOICE!! I love you Clarkey!! Where the bloody hell’s my perfect man?? Roight here ay!!!”

2. Lara gets expensive Aston Martin car, aka a ‘wankmobile’. Australia disapproves. Someone flogs it from Bondi.

3. Disaster strikes. A photo of Lara taken in the shower on Fev’s phone (pre-Clarkey we gather) surfaces in the media. OMG!!

4. Australian women everywhere are SHOCKED that Bogan Babes are being  photographed without their permission on louses' mobile phones. “I just… loike… feel… loike… so vi-o-lay-ted….”

5. Lara sells story to women’s mag. Fev sells story to women’s mag. Lara’s dodgy agent offers two-year exclusive deal to any TV network who’d like Lara’s services, for one million dollars.

6. Clarkey, meanwhile, is off in New Zealand playing cricket upholding the pride of our nation (being.. well, a cricket player and all). She’s deemed a liability to Aussie cricket when Clarkey ‘rushes to be by her side’. He WHAT? Flew back during a one-day series to …. WHAT??? Support his woman? He bloody WHAT???

7. Shit hits the fan. Lara flips the bird to waiting media throng outside cushy Bondi pad. Clarkey misses one-day match in NZ.

8. Whole of Australia hates Lara.

9. Engagement called off. Headline announcing the split is screened as breaking news across bottom of TV screen Friday night. OMG!

10. Plumbers called in to search for expensive ring lost somewhere in pipes of cushy Bondi pad. Lara’s family offers to sell their story about ‘how Clarkey isn’t really that nice a guy either’ to a … shock, horror, women’s mag.

11. Somewhere Fev is having a quiet giggle to himself.
That pretty much gets you up to date.

So, you all are wondering, what does this say about our culture?
WHY is this story important to Blossy? I turn to the interactions that BtT and I have been sporadically having on this topic. Mainly during the evening news, where the latest in Lara-gate is spruiked (as a leading story at times... is there NOTHING else happening in the world?)

You see, in my opinion, Lara epitomises the rise and fall of a Bogan chick.
She really was just another model (albeit a pretty dumb one) in a bikini until she hooked up with the Aussie cricket vice-captain. Then she kind of went all flashy, ditching Target for Tsubi and Valley Girl for Gucci. WRONG! Once a Bogan, always a Bogan luv. There’ll be no dressin’ it up in friggin’ Chanel at the Allan Border medal night. YOU are a BO-GAN. However, all power to her that she snagged Michael Clarke. Kind of makes it possible for anyone to do it you know?

In BtT’s opinion, Lara is a rung lower than a Bogan (ie, a ‘scrag’), that never truly earned her place in the MCG Member’s Stand.

Hang on a tick. ‘Earned’?

BtT explained to me that all wives attached to the nation’s cricket team need to be just a little bit dull and non-controversial. They can, and should, be attractive, preferably blonde, possessing an athletic pre-disposition that results in breeding future generations of cricketers. Can’t waste a good gene pool. This is bloody well cricket. It's not a joke you know.

These are the rules, I am told. An Aussie cricket wife can, apparently, set up charities (aka Jane McGrath and whatsit Bevan’s missus) but not wear a see-through dress to an awards night (aka Nathan Bracken’s wife). Preferably they don’t even have names (aka Ricky Ponting’s wife… what IS her name?). They can suffer gracefully amongst their husband’s indiscretions (ie, Warney's wife) as long as they maintain their hair and nail regime. They CERTAINLY do not have dirty Louis Vuitton luggage like naked pictures and affairs with married men. THAT’s the kind of Bogan chick behaviour that is reserved for those associated with Rugby League and AFL. The kind of Bogan chicks that wear Bulldogs jerseys and have their own doof-doof Monaro. And really… to present closing evidence... did Don Bradman’s wife drive a V8?

Is it just me being judgemental, or has anyone else noticed that we don’t seem to have any gay cricketers? Or cricketers with immigrant last names? No, the new fast bowler’s name is not Georgio Wogolopolous. Yep, I reckon the Australian cricket team is more of a cult than Scientology is. Investigate THAT on Today Tonight! 

So, as my rant draws to a close, I reckon if we’ve learned anything useful this week, it’s that the tradition of cricket has been safely protected from a full-blown Bogan attack.

Ohhhh, and Clarkey’ll be back in New Zealand ready for the first test.
Crisis averted.
C'Mon, Aussie, C'mon - Aka The Australian Cricket Athem, Allen Morris, sometime in the late 1970's.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Electric Dreams

"If there was no electricity, we'd have to watch the telly by candlelight".

Yes, it took me a couple of moments to figure out the BHG's 'updated facebook status of the day' as well. We'd been discussing what we'd do for Earth Hour in a couple of Saturday's time. By then we'll be staying with rello's so I thought I'd liaise with SIL 2 (sister-in-law 2, married to BtT's second oldest brother) and arrange a party. There was collective excitement for a moment there, as we planned a bamboo-undie wearing, candlelit family fondue dinner, with entertainment provided by any guest who could entertain without the need for electricity (ie, gong playing, stand-up comedy...) and me wearing my new Earth Hour shirt (that was NOT bloody well made in a sweatshop or a waste of money thanks BtT!!!) Oh, what electricity-free fun we'd have!!!

Then, as the 'consultation process' (as is oft done amongst families when organising a gathering) kicked in. Crisis. It was discovered that the West Coast Eagles (AFL) are playing during Earth Hour. Right then. We rapidly re-organised the function into 'no electricity except the telly'. BHG profered that she and her cousins might need to use the computer 'if there's an emergency', so we downgraded to 'Reduced Consumption Hour'. Or, as the BHG so aptly put it, "why don't we just turn the lights off?" Fine then. Turn the bloody lights off and go watch telly or play on the computer. I'll just go and save the friggin' planet myself shall I?

Which got me to thinking about how tragic we must be if it's a problem living electricity-free for a WHOLE HOUR.
BHG seriously wanted to know if we should charge all the electronic things in preparation for 60 minutes of electricity-free living:
What if the mobile phone goes flat?
What if I want to use the DSi?
Dad won't be able to shave at 9pm like he normally does!

The funny thing about this issue is that we're so hung up on saving bloody whales and using green bags at the supermarket that some practices have managed to permeate our society faster than the swine flu. Gosh, the glares at Woolies if you forget your own bags! Good grief yes, we will ONLY buy a duck or goose-cruelty free doona! We flush our washing machine water onto the lawn, use organic bath products and free-range eggs, but we can't turn off the electricity. Houston, we have a problem.

I kind of remember a few blackouts in Bush Bogantown when I was little. We'd have a set of candles on standby. We'd sit around playing Scrabble as a family and then go to bed. Never seemed to be a big drama. But then, we didn't have that many electronic devices either. We only just got a phone, the type that you had to actually dial, when I was about 13. It didn't matter if you 'couldn't cook dinner' because you'd just have cereal or a sandwich or something. I personally, as a kid, had the grand sum of ZERO chargers.

These days, kids have more chargers than brains. There's massive powerboards all over the house. We actually have to put little labels on the chargers at our house otherwise we forget which one's which! At BHG's recent 14th birthday party I was greeted with eye rolls when I suggested they all watch the movie 'Grease' or play 'Truth or Dare'. Ah, no. The girls were busy texting each other from across the room. At one point we went to the rumpus room, worried, because it was so damn quiet. No drama though. They were all just on their laptops of course, 'facebooking'. The powerboard had all twelve holes filled with various leads. Should I start charging adolescent guests an electricity levy?

BtT and I travelled to Africa a couple of years back.
You know... groovy animals, great outdoors, blah, blah. Being wanna-be-greenies we booked the 'Safari Section' of the holiday at an 'eco' establishment. Looked good on the web. Out amongst the wilderness, eco ethics and whatever. Practically offsets all that nasty carbon-y plane flight muck. Oooo, how noice!!! We'd all sit around the fire at dinner, discussing our safari-ing with world travellers like ourselves. Lock it in Eddie!

When we arrived at camp Save-the-Planet we asked what 'eco' measures were in place. A short list really: No electricity.
Oh, how quaint! we thought. Little lanterns and billy tea.
No charging the mobile phone (went dead that night).
No charging the digital camera. Ooops. Ration the wild animal photography.
Five minutes of hot water a day from something called a 'donkey' (don't ask)
No air-conditioning. It's AFRICA in summer. You'd start to smell too.
Oh, and close all the windows otherwise monkeys come in and steal your stuff, so no breeze.
Yeah, the pool photo on the net is only for display every now and then. A pump would require electricity. You can have a dip next Tuesday when we clean it out.

To be fair, it was very 'wilderness-y'. There were giraffes, lions, elephants, zebras and the like. All over the bloody place actually. So much so that you weren't allowed out of the Livingstone-like hut after dark. And there's not much to do when you run out of kero in your little lamp at 7:15pm, the windows are shut and there's no telly. Every now and then BtT would open the front door of the hut and stand guard whilst I waved a towel-full of fresh air into the hut. Then we'd wet the towel with manky African sink water and lie on the bed with it, rationing out the sleeping pills and feeling relieved that we weren't born in a Third World Country.

In the end we booked into a 'lush luxury resort' down the road. Less wild animals, but heck, it had AIRCONDITIONING. And we could charge the phone, the electric razor, the iPod, the portable DVD player... and have a BATH.

So, what to do about Earth Hour then? Is my goal of showing Gen Y how to live simply just an Electric Dream? We shall see. But to be on the safe side, I might hide all the powerboards.


Electric Dreams, Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder, 1984

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Eat it

As a considerate parent, it seemed like the right thing to do.

Brad the Tradie (BtT) and I asked the adolescent if there were one last thing she’d like to do 'as a family' in Boganvillea. We were totally committed to following through, thinking that perhaps the BHG would ask to pop into the Art Gallery, maybe undertake a bit of Outlet shopping or a movie at the Hippodome (just not bloody Avatar again… my bladder just can’t take it!!!) But...No such luck. The Better Homes and Gardens addict wanted to go, for one last time, to ‘the upstairs jelly square restaurant’.

I nearly vomited on the spot. But there was no ‘taking it back’ or convincing her to be happy with a trip to a different local Bogan landmark. It had to be the 'upstairs jelly square restaurant', in the very Boganist part of town. Apparently it reminds the darling thing of ‘her childhood’. Oh. Gosh we’re super parents if her childhood is defined by memories of a crappy all you can eat establishment. I bet her favourite stuffed toy is filled with toxic polyester as well.

The thing about buffet culture is that the menu is literally, all you can eat. Little stations filled with various salads and slops. So I suppose it’s $18.50 well spent, if you can actually eat a lot of jelly squares (weird how firm it has to be to cut into squares don't you think?) and deep fried spring rolls. You accompany the ‘meal’ with an all you can consume fizzy drink. The kind that’s made in that syrup machine thing and you push your glass against the dispenser. God don’t Bogan kids love those! Basic economics and psychology tells us that our primal need is to maximise value for a price paid. Therefore, we see the Bogan Buffet as a challenge. “Hah! They’re not gonna make any money off us tonight luv!!!” I calculated that it would only take about 57 glasses of Pepsi Max to break even on my refillable drink. If I could only live through the phenylalanine overdose.

As if on cue, there was a Bogan Birthday party on during our family outing last night. The fat little sprogs could barely be contained as they saw the buffet. Woah! ALL YOU CAN EAT!!! What to do? Open the presents from Hot Dollar or gorge on curried chicken and icecream (in the same bowl apparently)? “My, commented BHG, "some of those children shouldn’t really be going to an 'all you can eat'. Not to be mean or anything… just sayin’.”

After a few plates of variously coloured Chinese-style slop where the MSG separates from the oil upon contact with crockery, the BHG got creative and created ‘a bowl of chavy'. This Bogan treat is (exact instructions) two ladles of runny gravy in a soup bowl, topped with a neat layer of hot chips, then a half a ladle more of gravy. Noice. High on my fifth glass of Pepsi Max, I suggested she make a creative drink to go with the Chavy. After convincing her that it wasn’t illegal to mix the flavours, she went to the fizzy dispenser and returned (giggling like she’d done something totally naughty) with a brownish orangey concoction. Woohoo! Score! We then put icecream in it to make a Spider. “Should I dip a spring roll in and see what happens?” she asked. “Oh, cut sick kid! You’re not in Advanced Science for nothin’!” I replied, before attempting to ‘carve my own roast’ into shards with a battery operated electric knife.
Meanwhile BtT just sat there with a morbid expression on his face, an active and experienced participant in many a Vegas buffet, deemed "better than this shit". He peeled plates full of prawns, rating the various coloured leggings and muffin tops around the room:
“Geez, do those those suck-em-in body suits only go up to a size sixteen luv?”
“Hey mate, it’s all you can eat, not all you can bloody carry!”
"Why doesn’t that chick just take her chair over to the Sweet n Sour Pork. Save her time walking back and forward from the table…”
“Christ, that’s a helluva lotta back fat. You could feed an African country on that sheila!”
So…”, I asked the BHG as we left, suffering a combination of Buffet Bloat and cultural embarrassment, “was your last family outing in Boganvillea everything you expected?”

She didn't answer. She’d already made a beeline for the stairs, hoping for fresh air, but ran into a cloud of ciggie smoke and coughed her way out the door.  Apparently her ‘childhood memory’ wasn’t nostalgia central after all. But she’s obviously been brought up with a fully Bogan cast-iron stomach, because as BtT squealed the tyres of the Kia home as fast as he could, I could’ve sworn the BHG muttered “You know, a McFlurry would go down well.”

'Eat It', Weird Al Yancovic, 1984