Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Watery charms

My son and I spend a lot of time at the pool. What's not to love about the pool? There's all sorts of water-based play equipment, from slides to fountains to wave machines, the change rooms are plentiful, and the kiosk serves the best hot chips with sauce ever (perfect when you're tired and pruney).

Happy, happy pool days.

Well, mostly happy pool days. Sometimes, like today, the pool planets fall out of alignment and deliver us nothing but floating bandaids and hairy-man-backs, leaving us with a very unhappy happy pool day.

So what was there not to love about the pool today? Here's the list:

1. Aqua nappies. A perennial complaint. There's no leakage barrier I really, really trust.

2. The mothers who were milling around in the wading pool wearing their waist-length designer caftans and ignoring their children except to screech the occasional "For God's sake don't splash me! I don't want to get wet!"

Go back to your mansions, ladies, and spare us all.

3. When the lifeguards turned off the jets in the wave pool when we were half way around the circuit. It felt like what I imagine it must feel like to lose an erection: one moment everything's rocking along, then pfzz, nothing.

On the plus side, the chips were still good and the sauce divine; and who knows, the Caftans might be back at the factory having their touch-ups during our next visit. We can only hope.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Painterly thing-bits

Pointillism - really very silly.

We've just returned from a quick trip to Canberra to see the 'Masterpieces from Paris' exhibition for the last time.

I don't mind a bit of art; in fact some of the nicest afternoons I spent while travelling around Europe were spent in art galleries, especially when it was raining and our tent was wet and we couldn't find a Maccas.

So despite a clear sky and the complete absence of camping gear (wet or otherwise) I found myself at the National Gallery in Canberra on Friday, with at least 15 trillion other people, checking out a truck-load of Gauguins and one or two by that other guy, whatshisname, van Gogh.

My Mum, who is actually a painter and knows many a thing about art, sacrificed three hours of her life to come with me, knowing full well the time would be filled with such un-funny gags as "Pointillism - what's the point?" and "Impressionism - I'm impressed."

Mum, I owe you a beer.

But while my comments may have been inane, they weren't altogether mystifying, unlike those I heard passing between another mother and daughter team. "Look!" said the younger one, "Lean forward, Mum, right up close! You can actually see the canvas under the dots; seriously, the canvas!"

I still can't figure out what else they thought might be there.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Warning: Shameless Objectification of Nice Boys with Brown Hair Below

There's a new Doctor! Here he is:

Apologies, he's not just a well-lit cheekbone with a great ride, he does actually have a name: it's Matt Smith, and he's being hailed by critics in the UK as potentially the best Doctor ever.

I'm sure you're very good, Mr Smith, and I wish you all the best for your stint as the Doctor, but I'm afraid this man was The Best Doctor EVAH:

Oops! How did that get in there?

I meant of course to post this:

And this:

And, of course, this:

Sadly I'm no philosopher so can't tell you what beauty actually is with any authority but I do know it's got something to do with nice boys with brown hair. Look! Here's another one:

Oh Mr Whishaw, you would make a simply lovely Doctor.

But all nice boys with brown hair must come to an end so that we can get on with whatever it is we're supposed to be doing. So here's a little something less dreamy to help bring you back to earth:

Right then, pass me those spreadsheets.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Parlez-vous ... what?

Once, in a camping ground in Florence, we were approached by a couple of tall, athletic Euro-types. They spoke to us first in Italian, then seeing our looks of stupefaction they tried again in French, then Spanish, followed by several other languages which were wholly unrecognisable to us.

Finally, realising we were ignorant of not only the Romance languages and German but most likely Bothno-Ugaric tongues as well, they decided to try English.

While they actually said: "Do you speak English? Can we borrow your rubber mallet?" I'm sure what they wanted to say was:

"Do you poor idiotic types perhaps know a few words of English, the native tongue of poor idiotic types everywhere? And do you linguistic amoebas have a rubber mallet we could borrow for a few moments to complete the sturdy erection of our award-winning European-designed tent?"

It was the moment I realised just how impoverished we are not sharing borders with any other countries, and just what a good thing immigration is.

Since that humbling experience I have tried to learn a few bits and pieces of various languages and am happy to report that if someone ever says to me: "El cajero antomatico se ha tragado mi tarjeta de credito," I can answer, with all confidence, "Tengo un pinchazo."

But none of this European phrasebook readiness prepared me for reading Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange, which I can describe, with all confidence, as vastly incomprehensible.

May I give you the opening sentences?

There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie, and Dim, Dim being really dim, and we sat in the Korova Milkbar making up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening, a flip dark chill winter bastard though dry.

O...kay; I thought perhaps the second paragraph might make more sense:

Our pockets were full of deng, so there was no real need from the point of view of crasting any more pretty polly to tolchock some old veck in an alley and viddy him swim in his blood...

I did what I always do in situations of complete incomprehension: I quickly downed several glasses of wine and skipped to the end of the book.

Bugger, plenty of 'itty' and 'oddy knocky' and 'profound shooms of lip-music brrrrrr' there too.

For all I know A Clockwork Orange is a book about the rise and fall of rubber mallets in a post-apocalyptic Florentine camping ground. I only wish there was an Anthony Burgess phrasebook.