Stuff and that.

Stuff. And yeah. That

Month: January, 2014

Straya Day, maaaate

Australia Day has, for me at least, always been the bookend of summer – from Christmas to Australia Day, it’s summer. Everything operates at a different pace, people aren’t around – they’re off at the beach, visiting friends and family, being on holidays. Even businesses that are open are more casual and more laid back. Come the day after Australia Day though – it’s all back to normal. Suits and ties are on, shorts are back in the wardrobe til next summer. Kids are back in school, too. They finish just before Christmas, they go back just after Australia Day. Summer with bookends. And people got citizenship on Australia Day, so it was a day of mild significance, the last long weekend of summer.

Somewhere along the line though, Australia Day changed. Maybe as early as the bicentenary in 1988, maybe it started then and grew until the Cronulla Riots in 2005. Don’t think most people even know what Australia Day represents (the day the First Fleet landed in Sydney in 1788 – so yeah, not really a fine day for the original inhabitants. Actually, from all accounts* it wasn’t totally pants for them until the late 1790’s when the governor of the day got his knickers in a twist and started ordering mass slaughters all round. Which is enough for anyone to be a bit underwhelmed by the whole thing).

Anyway, I digress. I’m wondering about when Australia Day stopped being so much the last weekend of summer to HELLO BOGANS LETS GET SMASHED AND WEAR FLAGS AS CAPES AND BEAT UP PEOPLE BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT YEAH! I saw a young aborigine girl in the supermarket just before Australia Day and she was hurrying her very young daughter past the display telling her it wasn’t their thing, it was all ‘white fella’ stuff. She wasn’t mean or nasty about it, just matter of fact. I ended up chatting to her for  a while, and she told me how she felt that it had no meaning to whiteys aside from an excuse to get drunk. And maybe have a punch on.

I don’t think she was wrong at all.

And I don’t think she was wrong to move her daughter past it all, either. I move my kids past stuff I personally find offensive after all. It’s what good parents do. And when the alleged Minister for Education talks about “westernising” history and taking out the Aboriginal bits, because those bits are not about nice, grateful natives saying thank you for the tuberculosis and the diphtheria and the blankets… well. That’s something I also find offensive. And it’s something that will pander to the great unwashed who think Straya Day Mate is the day for drinkin’ beer and punching on.

Which brings me back to the drinkin’ and the punching on. Since when did Australia Day become all about getting as wasted as you can get and stop being about that last long weekend? What made us turn into a nation of bogan flag-cape wearing dickheads with nothing further on our minds than the next VB and punching that bloke in the head who looked as you funny.

Might be rambling now. It’s getting late. I have sons. I want them to make it through their teens and twenties without being someones punching bag or feeling the need to punch someone else. And maybe understanding the rationale behind the boganisation of Straya Day might save them And me.



*Ok, something I was reading a couple of days ago that I can no longer find because I had to clear the cache and it’s all gone, dangtarnit. I’m pretty sure it was Governor King though.


Yes, I’ve been reading – I’m reading Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marissa Pessl. I’m about a quarter of the way through it. It’s a bit of a struggle to be honest. It’s not that I don’t like it, it’s just that it reminds me a lot of A Secret History by Donna Tartt which I didn’t particularly like (I loathed all the characters) it was, however, well written which is why I finished it. This is also well written – which is why I’m persevering. But it’s an effort and it’s hot and it’s oh, go to bed in our stifling hot room and read my book or stay in the lounge room where the air-conditioning is and play Candy Crush til stupid o’clock.  (I did in fact read the book in the lounge room yesterday, I’m not totes slow and that!)

But yeah – it has this vaguely outsider-y, ridiculously clever character brought into a group of “cool kids” by a teacher who is a bit out there. She’s a girl in this one, and it’s set in a high school. Someone dies (you find out who fairly close to the start). Not much more I can tell you. I’m off work for a week, so I’ll try and finish it and make more sense of it and try and build a bridge about it!

Week off work – this is the annual OMG school goes back Lordy you kids have grown week off that I have each year which is normally spent bolting from one side of town to the other updating school shoes, uniform shirts, booklists, paying the fifty gazillion dollars I have to fork out at the start of the year for the public education of the Chaos and the Mayhem. This year though – new sneakers acquired a couple of weeks ago, uniform shirts ordered before the end of the year for Chaos and for the first time in his entire bloody school life, Mayhem is wearing his brother’s hand me down uniforms. Cheap as chips, mate. Book lists got delivered and were only missing essentials like  – you know, writing books. Nice. Nothing a couple of latish trips to Officeworks to solve that.

Now the thing I totally adore about this time of year are the gushing blog posts and newspaper articles about healthy lunch boxes and the dangers of school bags and how to organise a homework station. I still read them, and snigger a lot. Yes, after a couple of weeks of the hand crafted  and individually wrapped beautifully designed and definitely nutritious lunches coming home with a bite out of the hand roll, the yoghurt with the lid off and dropped upside down in the school bag , spreading yoghurt all over the entire contents of the bag (and of course, on the hottest Friday of the year); they’ll be slamming a vegemite sandwich together like everybody else, chucking in a piece of fruit and hoping it gets eaten and not left to rot in their bags.

And the school bags – every woman I know who is my age or older has neck, back and shoulder problems from carrying overloaded school bags slung over one shoulder all the way through high school. So yeah, get the point. BUT when the empty school bag weighs 10% of your admittedly rather scrawny eight year old’s entire body weight… well.  At least it’s a back pack, I suppose.

Oh, I’ve been doing rather splendidly on my “new” Resolution – I’ve managed to walk the dog almost every day this year and it’s starting to take effect. Chaos said I didn’t look as wide from the back. High praise from an 11 year old indeed. And I can see some muscle definition happening. While losing some weight would be nice, it’s not my main motivation. Firstly, I want to be able to take the fire escape stairs at work without “OMG DED” and huffing and puffing when I get to the third floor. And climbing the Hill of Doom on the way to and from work with the aforementioned ded-ness of puffed out.

Secondly… well, there’s not much in the way of secondly at the present moment in time. I am working on the firstly first. I’ve lost about 3 and a half kilos since the beginning of December – despite eating my way through Christmas, New Year and getting ever so slightly hammered at a concert on the weekend that necessitated consumption of several tonnes of hot chips. It’s incentive, I tell you.



Don’t believe the hype.

Resolutions are tricky things. Everyone starts off brilliantly (until, you know, the 2nd January) when the resolutions are wiped off as failed until next year. For the last three or so years, I’ve pretty much been working on the same five resolutions, and each year, I do a quick recap on how I went… So here goes!

1. Accept that I will read the news and that the world is full of stupid people who shouldn’t really breathe; and also that my friend of a million years is undoubtedly going to get her panties in a bundle over the election. I value the friendship, so I resolve not to engage her in ANY political banter in the coming year. Even if it means blocking her ‘political’ posts so I can’t see what her equally silly friends have to say. 

I didn’t break up with any of my friends. However, my feral green socialist leftie soul has been exposed for all to see. I got annoyed a lot, irritated with the intense blindness to anything but the line of Andrew bloody Bolt and Piers Wankerpants (who thinks Peppa Pig is a feminazi of the highest order) and because they read it in the Hun, it must be true. Even if it’s not. However, I am a grown up. And I like other things about these people so…

  • I resolve to keep my feral leftie socialist mouth closed a little longer, and really – changing the subject won’t kill me. Shouting at deaf people can’t teach them to hear.

2. Write more. Start a new blog. Keep a diary. Start writing “the story that probably starts in the middle”. Write SOMETHING!

  • Here we are… new blog. Cooking and reading. Two favourite things. Little bit of side writing, but nothing coherent. Yet.

3. Work smarter. Not just *at* work, but at home as well.

3a. Work out exactly WHAT work smarter means!

Thinking I skated a bit close to the edge a few too many times this year. The ball got dropped more than once, and hey, kicked over the fence a few times, too – culminating in a single day when my presence was required in four places simultaneously, my head exploding and needing to rock in a corner for a while. And that was just at home. Work… eh, pretty good on the whole. No particular standouts, one semi-fail (not entirely my fault though). I think 2013 was Year of the Duck.

  • Less duck, more eagle. Ahem. Bit less of that paddling like mad to stay in the same place and a bit more of choosing what and where and how. Writing lists, keeping the family diary/calendar up to scratch, delegating what I can – sounds like a good place to start. I resolve to try and keep my shit together this year.

4. Say “no, actually, I really don’t want to do that/go there/see those people”. Just ONCE. In a year. Completely REFUSE to do something I don’t want to do. 

Because I don’t remember saying “no” to things I didn’t want to do, but did say “no” to stuff I actually *did* want to do… this was a Fail.

  • Try this one again. The ability to say NO won’t hurt in my pursuit of #3, either.

5.  I am going to read fifty (50,or even if you prefer, L) books this year. And at least one has to have some literary merit. It has been thirty years since Year 12 English Literature scarred me irretrievably from reading Good Books, I think it’s time I grew out of it.

Not sure how many books I read this year. I would hazard a guess and say 40 or thereabouts. However, four of that 40 were Game of Thrones related – they’re the equivalent of ten books on their own. I did read books that had won prizes (St Lucy’s Home for Girls raised by Wolves), I read books that weren’t fiction. Definitely broadened my horizons from crime, death, serial killers, vampires and sword and sorcery.

  • Aim for 50 books again.

And this year, I’m adding a sixth…

6. Exercise.

I am a sloth. I am getting a bit older now. Sloth-like behaviour is not good for ones health. I have started walking ( three weeks ago) and I’m aiming for the old faithful 10K steps a day. I’ve got a pedometer app on my phone (that only works in my pocket or hand – not in my handbag, or on the bench) and I am getting there. Most days I do crack the 10K, and the days that I haven’t have generally been days that involve clothes without pockets, flat phones, or leaving it on the aforementioned bench.  I don’t run (too jiggy), don’t play sport (pfft), don’t like classes (sweaty and jiggy). So I walk and I bike ride.

  • I resolve to walk the Hound every day, ride my bike when I can, and not pay for parking more than once a week (unless it’s raining, or thundering and lightninging. They’re valid reasons for not walking.)

So… here goes 2014, abrim with good intentions.


The Saints Are Coming…

“Saints of the Shadow Bible” takes Ian Rankin’s John Rebus back to the time where ‘“Life on Mars” was a documentary, not fiction’ (that’s actually a line from the book. Meta.) when a case he was tenuously involved in as a young detective constable was reopened. The “Saints” of the title of the book is the name the detectives at Rebus’s first police station gave themselves – sort of one of those ‘what happens on the footy trip stays on the footy trip’ kind of thing – except with police work. And bashings and the like (bit of a theme with what I’m reading lately. Fair bit of biff. Although, most of the biff in this is of the historical kind. Poor old Rebus is a bit old for that sort of thing.) Every time they got in the car to go to a crime scene, they’d play “The Saints are Coming” by the Skids.

I really like the Rebus books. They hang about for a while after I’ve finished them. I like the burgeoning relationship between Malcolm Fox and Rebus. They’re different sides of different coins – but they’re alike in some ways and have a lot to learn from each other. I love it that Siobhan Clarke is now the DI and Rebus is back to a DS. She was always the boss of him, and now it’s official. Rebus is a lot more realistic character than, say, Jack Reacher – who is a giant caricature of himself. Rebus is a hard living, hard drinking, and still smoking old school detective with no real relationships outside of the police force. And the relationships he has there are in flux because of the changing nature of modern policing. Way less biff than there used to be, that’s for sure. He’s a dinosaur and proud of it, and the young ladies don’t mind giving him a hand with that new fangled teckernologies and stuff.

Anyway, this was pretty good on the whole. There were two, maybe three, sort of interlinked crimes – starting off with a suspicious car crash and ending up with a whole lot (at least three, I think) of dead people – a reasonable proportion of whom well deserved their state of deadness.

Perfect wet summer’s day read.