Friday, October 30, 2009

Stumbling around in the sunshine

I'm a big fan of Spring.

Even though I spent rather much too long at a wine bar with Senji last night I was still able (when I was finally able) to enjoy a late morning ramble around my suburb. And look what we found! A ridiculously good-looking tree proclaiming the ridiculous goodness of spring.

Note the house on the left is two storeys. Whoa that's a big tree!

Now we're off to the beach to see what Spring is doing to Sydney's winter-pasty bodies.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Squib and Kettle's Latest (And Possibly Greatest) Business Idea

If you flip through The Financial Review of a morning no doubt you're familiar with the story of Squib's and my meteoric rise through the ranks of Australia's, nay the world's, business community.

Taking the SOHO (small office home office) scene by storm in late 2008 we've been steadily building momentum with sales across our unique product ranges, from our doomed children's books to our carnation-coloured tents.

At the cutting edge of Sciuridae HR reform, Squib is a leader in the Squirrel-crafted hair button field, and enjoys broad support from the Association of Artisan Squirrels. My recent work in the home-based/backyard holiday sector has dramatically reduced Australia's carbon footprint and, some drunken idiots suggest, has initiated the reversal of the global warming process.

After this giddy catalogue of successes, where could we possibly go from here, you may well ask?*

The answer is clear: postcards.

Recently titillated by a nice bit of leg in a 'Hat Head New South Wales' postcard we have realised the time is right for a postcard boom of mammoth proportions.

And due to the Elephantine size of our aspirations we don't want to dick around with postcards for every little town with a giant prawn or over-sized sheep. No: our great postcard innovation is to design a range of cards centred around the globe's principal oceans and smaller seas. It seems so obvious, doesn't it? That way we can kill thousands of kilometres of coastal towns with one postcard-stone, so to speak.**

Take, for example, this early Pacific Ocean prototype, suitable for sale right along the 1,338.3 km between Bega and Tweed Heads:

Apart from the obvious profit-making potential of such a versatile postcard, imagine the sense of community and connection it will spread from one end of coastal New South Wales to the other.

But the genius doesn't stop with principal oceans and smaller seas of the globe; how about postcards of water and marine animals of any kind, like this delightful example, suitable for sale anywhere there may be, or may once have been, water and/or a dolphin:

Simply take off the reference to Australia and this little puppy has global appeal, don't you think?

So when you're voting for joint Australians of the year, don't forget Squib and me: keeping Australia's economy afloat, we are.***


* Or not, if you have a lick of sense.
** Chroist sorry. I couldn't sound the mixed metaphor/crap line alarm in time.
*** It's possible Squib was harmed in the writing of this post.
**** There will be a prize if you can list all the cliches and wallyisms here. That's right: a prize!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

All Good Things

I've just returned from five days here:

That there are places like this makes me very happy; there should be more places like this. There should also be less need to exchange units of money for goods and services so there can be more time spent in places like this. I'll swap my pumpkin for your gluten-free chicken stock if it means neither of us has to go to work.

But in addition to this fine opportunity to bemoan our current economic system, my trip to Hat Head also gave me the opportunity to rub stubby-holders with some of the NSW north coast's most charming locals, a band of whom I came across fixing a fence on the street up from the caravan park.

They regaled me with tales of frisky dolphins and unsuspecting tourists, gave me the inside sticky on the best battered foodstuffs at the bowling club, and gently dispelled my expectations (high) of catching a marlin in the river.

After a short period of footpath bonding I felt comfortable showing them the postcard I had just bought at the shop up the road. Did they recognise any of the locals, I asked, featured in this 'Hat Head New South Wales Australia' postcard?Apparently not. They assured me the people pictured must have been ring-ins because no self-respecting Hat Head local would wear this to go fishing/climb the rocks/breathe:

I like to think that's a little piece of Sydney 458km from home.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Camping. We're off to do it. I've packed:

1. The Glass Canoe by David Ireland;

2. A bike with twelve-inch wheels adorned with little purple stars and the following warning: "Not for off-road or stunt use"; and

3. A pack of seven novelty moustaches.

See you back on Thursday.

Friday, October 16, 2009

How I Learnt About Internalisation and Found My Childhood Innocence in Pieces Behind the Couch

The first time I was locked in a police holding cell I was four years old. I was with my preschool class and we were getting to know the local community. Why we couldn't have just gone to the post office or the newsagent is a mystery, but there we were, behind bars at the local police station, wailing and blubbering because we were never, ever going to get out.

It's hard to be four years old and keep incarceration in perspective, but I understood the lesson: you must be good otherwise you will end up in here.

Bloody preschool teachers. As if I didn't have enough going on, what with worrying about the economics of the tooth fairy and whether we were heading into another ice age (yep, Canberra was an awesome place to grow up). So I internalised this lesson and got on with self-regulating, and have suffered ever since.

For how else can you describe a 33-year old nervously hunched over a photocopier in a university library, casting furtive glances over her shoulder, absolutely sure the Copyright Police will arrive at any moment?

It was probably ok to photocopy those first few chapters; there are certain acceptable limits for copying from published works, provided the copied material is but a small percentage of the overall work and is properly accredited. It was probably ok to copy a few bits from the middle as well, after all the beginning makes no sense without the middle.

But when I reached the end of the book I had most certainly gone too far. The copyright notice at eye level on the wall above the copier was put there just for me, I'm sure, with its menacing list of fines and imprisonments. And when the alarm sounded across the building for closing time, I was sure, for a split second, the photocopier had given me up: the counter had gone too far too fast, every sensor and camera in the library knew I had broken the law.

So congratulations, preschool teachers of Canberra, 1979. Your easy way to pass an afternoon led directly to the fettering of my previously unfettered mind and the end of my childhood whimsy (and free and easy relationship with photocopiers). I say take kids to a petting zoo and let them chase chickens instead.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

And the winner is...

I used to think literary prizes were silly, no wait, I still do, but I do like the person who just won the Booker (oh, my apologies magnanimous corporate sponsor, I mean the Man Booker prize).

Hilary Mantel just won the sash for her weighty tome Wolf Hall. I don't know Hilary Mantel from a stick of licorice, but given her prize-related soundbites I'd be honoured to shout her a beer and bowl of peanuts if she's ever in Sydney.

According to the UK's Telegraph, Mantel professed herself “heartened, delighted, encouraged, strengthened and a little bemused” to be the favourite. Yes yes heartened, yawn yawn delighted, but bemused! I do so love a bemused writer (Bob Ellis would be constantly bemused, don't you think?).

Moving on to Mantel's post-prize soundbites, she said: "I hesitated for such a long time before beginning to write this book, actually for about 20 years."

Boom tish!

And, she was good enough to provide a soundbite for the morbidly-inclined amongst us:

"If winning the Booker Prize is like being in a train crash, at this moment I am happily flying through the air."


And because my life plan is to sunbake and snort cocaine when I retire, I'm delighted to hear Mantel (who's 57) has quipped that she plans to spend her prize money on "sex, drugs and rock'n'roll".

So I'm happy to announce that the delightful Ms Mantel is my new hero (or literary prize anti-hero hero), but this doesn't mean there isn't any room in my heart for the judging, ah, intelligentsia. "Our decision," the chair of the judging panel has explained, “was based on the sheer bigness of the book, the boldness of its narrative, its scene-setting, the gleam that there is in its detail."

Yes that's right, Mantel's book won because of its 'sheer bigness'. Tell that to Coetzee.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A weekend in Canberra

I spent most of the long weekend in Canberra visiting my darling parents. Given I live in a shoe box in Sydney surrounded by many other shoe boxes I tend to spend the first twenty-four hours of any trip to my parents' house (how fabulous, an actual house) carrying on about the space. I make lame jokes about intercoms and east wings and airplane hangers, and my parents, God love them, just smile at me patiently and hand me cups of tea until it passes.

But once I've finished marvelling at the possibilities of space in Canberra I start whingeing about everything else about Canberra. And I can because I used to live there, that's why.

Only in Canberra would you find brochures like this:

And this:

Only in Canberra would you find parks with rather pretty blossom trees and absolutely no people:

Only in Canberra would you find signs that make you laff when you really, really shouldn't:

And what luck! I managed to snap Canberra's only two cars in this photo. You can see them centre right. Here they are enlarged for your viewing pleasure:

Was it a long weekend where you are? Do you see my 'Dog and Cat Laws in the ACT' and raise me a lamer brochure?