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DAY 355: Entering competitions

21 Aug

This has nothing to do with anything, but it came up when I put "entering competitions" into Google Image.

APART from the odd No-Doz snorting competition, I’ve never bothered entering anything. Having worked on magazines though, I know how easy it is to win, particularly when most entrants insist on doing painful rhymes in their 25 words or less, and are therefore immediately eliminated by people like me.

(By contrast, someone once entered a meet-and-greet with Kings of Leon with a giant, cigarette-smoking beaver made out of chickenwire. They won.)

I register with a free website called and enter 10 competitions, all requiring a sincere little essay of 25 words or less. I am up to win Stevie Nicks tickets from Woman’s Day, natural skin products, a luxury cruise of the Great Barrier Reef, a Byron Bay break, a warm bodymat, a meet and greet with an opera star (I forget his name) in Malta, sensitive skin care products, yoga wear from Reader’s Digest (good for pyjamas, I reason), natural cosmetics (they wanted my No.1 health tip, which upon some musing turned out to be something I’d never tried in my life), and an eight-night Hawaiian holiday (this one! this one!).

I’m now on at least 10 mailing lists, which will probably transpire to be thousands of mailing lists, but never mind, never mind.

Keeper? We’ll see.

DAY 337: Going to mass

3 Aug

I’M wandering past St Mary’s Cathedral, debating whether I should nip into the nearby Winter Festival (it’s boiling hot here in Sydney) for an overpriced kransky, when I see the lights are on inside this majestic cathedral.

I push the doors, and mass is in full swing, with the choirboys tootling away and the priest singing lustily at the front.

This comes as a surprise. I’m Church of England and our local vicar was a grey-skinned, damp-palmed mumbler not known for his commanding ways – although I liked it when he put his hand on my head. I don’t recall him belting out a number. What would happen if you wanted to be a proper Catholic priest, but couldn’t sing for toffee?

When the priest winds up, the bloke next to me shakes my hand and mutters something, then everyone files up to the front. I don’t go up for my biscuit, since I’m not Catholic, but I do notice a naughty little minx in a low-cut top and leather pants (with her boyfriend on steroids in tow), lingering at the front, grining and refusing to move on. The priest appears to waggle his finger at her.

When the choirboys file out, they move in a Robert Crumb-style array of skulks, lopes and shuffles that returns them to the realm of the pubescent, and the spell is broken.

Keeper? Yes. The singing was top-notch.

DAY 336: Documenting my day in haiku

2 Aug

Six in the morning
Writing pop psychology
For women to read

Man flies from scooter
I am not first on the scene
Because I slowed down

Fact-checking breast pumps
Facials and mucus plugs in
Other people’s copy

Lying in Hyde Park
Rolling cigarettes badly
And calling people

“I always forget,”
I tell the beautician, “that
This is going to hurt”

Here to see a band
But an accordion man
Plays on and on and

Keeper? I don’t think I got enough elements in. I need to pay more attention to the elements.

DAY 301: Going Casey the Punisher on my self-righteousness

29 Jun

These are obviously Target stockings - they've snagged already.

A WISE woman who’d given up the grog and was a-brim with inner peace, once told me exactly what was wrong with me.*

“I think you’re a bit self-righteous,” she chuckled.

As I bustled my skirts about me and explained to her the difference between ‘right’ and ‘self-righteous’, I realised she might have a point. Didn’t tell her that, of course.

Ever since then, I’ve been trying to keep it in check. Hard, when you’re so fired up with sanctimony you can scarcely stop your horsemen from galloping forth, pennants snapping loudly in the wind.

Take today. I walk into Target in my hometown, loaded up with bags I’m taking to the charity shop. (I can hear my voice getting that wheedling, confirmation-seeking tone already, and I’m only typing.)

“Harry! Harry!” Some woman at the till calls out, the moment I enter. A bloke comes and positions himself at the end of the stockings aisle, folds his arms, and leans against the wall, staring at me. I’ve got your number, and all that. It’s blatant! I stare at him, he stares at me, and I go to the till.

“There some weird bloke hanging out in the stockings aisle,” I say, fastidiously counting out the notes for my fishnets.

Once outside, self-righteousness rears like a thrashed donkey as I fantasize about going back in and kicking over their knickers rack. Fuck it, I pacify myself, it’s a trifling matter – if it gives them something to do, let them have it.

I’m very pleased with my new-found maturity, but then as soon as I relax, something inside rahs me back up again, like a cheer squad, like a pipsqueak in the ear of a bully. You’re not really going to take that are you? What was it they did again?

It’s always doing that. I need to floor that inner pipsqueak like Casey the Punisher. I need to break its spindly little legs.

Ducking into the local new age store, I peruse the crystals and stones. I’m not into crystals and stones, but what I’m after here is a physical manifestation of my self-righteousness. Obsidian is moody volcanic glass, which allegedly works on karmic issues. “Leaving a chunk of obsidian by the door,” the little label says, “ensures visitors’ rubbish remains outside your abode.”

I buy a cool, smooth lump to keep it in my pocket. Now, whenever that old familiar feeling whips its own flank into action, I’ll transfer it to the stone of self-righteousness.

Keeper? Yes. It’s cradled in my fist right now.

* Don’t feel moved to do the same – I’m only taking that from someone once.

DAY 300: Going to work in the nuddy

28 Jun

I WAS just thinking about how I’d never done the turning-up-at-some-bloke’s-door-in-a-trenchcoat-with-nothing-underneath-it thing (for fear of guffawing reprisal, mainly), when it occurred to me that I could just breeze all the way into work in nothing but my coat and some over-the-knee socks.

Why? Dunno.

Cycling’s clearly out today, so I trudge to the station with my hands thrust in my coat pockets to override any gusting.

I’d like to report that I feel like a giggly little minx on the train in, but instead I feel like a creep, particularly because I have to wear my laptop on my lap to cover any gaps left by the safety-pins. So far as having a secret no one knows about goes, it doesn’t come close to the ol’ sneaky bottle of vodka cuddled in the coat pocket.

Keeper? Not giving up yet – being in grim marching-to-work-mode didn’t help. A nuddy footy match might be in order. GOAL!

DAY 299: Writing to a stranger in a magazine

27 Jun

I’VE written to magazines (Boars and Whores), I’ve written thank you notes, but I’ve yet to write to a thank you note to someone in a magazine.

This woman wrote a brilliant, risk-taking personal article in what’s usually the sort of magazine that’s copped one too many knocks to the head with the hair straighteners. It’s also a subject close to my heart.

Unlike my letter to Adam Ant for Women of Letters, I’m not trying to save her, and unlike my letters to Cher and Lydia Lunch in my preteens and teens, I’m not asking for help. Sometimes a simple note of appreciation will suffice.

Keeper? Yes.

DAY 297: Inviting readers to design my bumper sticker

25 Jun

She's a beauty.

I PUT the call out on various social networking sites for readers to design a bumper sticker for my troublesome ute.

I’m confident it will be roadworthy in no time at all, if not a few months, and in preparation I’ve perused a bumper sticker website to jazz the thing up a bit.

I’m going with “I love…”, and the suggestions are as follows..

Being goosed from behind
Boat people
Ginger whiskers
Thunking noises

I’m going to go with ‘mechanics’, even though it was my own suggestion, as hopefully then random ones will take pity on me and tinker under my hood.

Keeper? Ordering it now.

DAY 296: Being taught the Fibonacci Sequence by a precocious young boy

24 Jun

Maths punctures my yolk.

MILO is 11, and studying advanced maths so enthusiastically that he’s keen to show me the Fibonacci sequence, apropos of nothing. I stabbed my last maths book to death with a biro, so this is a dangerous quest.

Turns out it’s quite simple: each number is the sum of the previous two numbers – 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, etc – until infinity. I feel like I should know this, but if I have done it before, I’ve blocked it out.

And what is the purpose of such a mathematical phenomenon, you might ask? A mathematical phenomenon bestowed with such heavenly handles as Golden Ratio and Divine Proportion?

Buggered if I know.

Keeper: I’ve got it, but I don’t know what to do with it.

DAY 294: Letting a newspaper dictate my destiny

22 Jun

THIS free paper goes out in cities across Australia, and on the ‘Talk’ page you can:

1) Send a message to some spunk you see on public transport

2) Ask for advice

3) Vent your spleen

all by sending text messages. That’s amazing! I do all three. Eyes peeled, huh?

Keeper? Yes. I like sending nonsense to publications.

DAY 293: Writing to the Prime Minister

21 Jun

I BRING the PM to the attention of a story in yesterday’s Herald Sun, about the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils suggesting refugees could be given jobs slaughtering animals in a halal fashion right here in Australia, to save the need for the same treatment in Muslim countries.

What a terrific solution to the problem of the live exportation of animals, eh?

The Herald Sun points out that ‘this’ (well, they put a lot of things in that story in ‘inverted commas’) would be at the expense of tax-payers – but I don’t go there.

So far this idea has been rejected by the state and federal governments, but I’ve now Facebooked and emailed the PM, so we’ll see what gives.

Keeper? That was easy.