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DAY 302: Learning etiquette from a piss peddler

30 Jun

ETIQUETTE and gin have never gone together in my experience, but boutique piss peddlers Hendricks are determined to prove otherwise.

They’ve spirited pop-up shops into fetching streets in Sydney, Melbourne and – soon – Adelaide, in which they serve gin in bone china teacups with slices of cucumber.

While you’re quaffing delicately, Dr Humphrey Sixwivs and Mrs Isabella Forlornicate learn you in the ways of fancy etiquette with their Refined Courtship Clinic.

Our lesson this afternoon is the art of using one’s fan to flirt. One uses one’s fan to hide one’s mouth as one titters over one’s shoulder, or merely to wave as one’s eyes dart about the room, steadfastedly ignoring any chap who might be trying to get one’s attention. Beating the air frantically means you urgently require a drink, while snapping it shut and pointing it at a chap means you’d like to show him something outside – now.

Strikes me all the techniques we’re shown are alive and well today, with long, flicky hair or an iPhone – on which a lady humourlessly pretends to be texting – being the prop of choice.

Keeper? Might try the covert-glance move we’re shown. Watch out.

DAY 281: Discovering I’m allergic to cigarettes, goddamnit

9 Jun

THIS WEEK, my eyes are puckered little pissholes in the snow, itching like they just got out of jail. I’ve got no idea what’s going on.

I decide to get tested for allergies at the MindBodySpirit Festival in Melbourne.

The practitioner runs a renowned allergy testing company out of Sydney. His stand is not covered in pictures of faeries or banks of useless machines flashing lights, nor does he have glitter on his face, which is a good sign. Still, I’m skeptical.

I sit at the table and he gives me a brass electrode to grip with my left hand, then jabs me in the centre of my right palm – an acupuncture point – with a sensor. This communicates with his computer by a galvanometer. On the screen, the program runs through over 100 foods, vitamins and hormone levels, and he jabs me twice as it clicks onto each category. The galvanometer in front of us swings to full whack for things like vegies, but flatlines for things like wheat and fags.

The practitioner gets irritable when I ask him how it works, but as Anne Smithells helpfully explains on Positive Health:

As food is placed in the mouth, the body has to immediately rush the correct enzymes to it to break it down for digestion and to add the necessary antigens. This means that the body’s sensing devices have to be able to identify the food. They do this by interpreting the resonance signature, or frequency given off by the food as it reaches the mouth (this can be measured as a wave form, rather like a radio signal). The system has been programmed to recognise the signatures of each of the foods, vitamins, or minerals it is testing, to convert them into a digitised form and then to feed the relevant data into its memory for analysis.

The bad news: I’m allergic to cow milk – which might be why I found these looming creatures so sinister on Day 100: Testing a Cow-Hugging Ruse – and also Vegemite and nicotine. This might explain why I had to persevere for the entire first year of high school to learn how to smoke without going yellow – and once again when I decided to learn how to smoke without drinking.

The practitioner tells me you can be intolerant to foods for a long time, but as gluten and casein (found in milk) build up in the body, you can eventually tip yourself over the edge. He hands me a tub of enzyme capsules to help break down the nasties in my system, and glibly dashes out a $40 receipt to add to the $110 I’m already paying, without consultation. Oof! Here’s my credit card to stuff down your bra, sir.

Keeper? Will try and stick to what I’ve learned. If you see me ordering a soy latte or smoking a clove cigarette, don’t judge.

DAY 252: Having my first feijoa

10 May

THAT was easy.

Keeper: Nom nom NOM!

DAY 248: Getting inflamed by an African menu

6 May

It's supposed to hurt.

THE drinks list alone of the Nyala African Restaurant in Fitzroy is like a Shakespearean drama:

The first cup is bitter, like life,” the menu says of the mint tea, “the second is sweet, like love; the third is gentle, like death.

I order a coffee, which promises “passionate flavour”. If that’s not code for “even more alluringly vicious than Vietnamese coffee”, I don’t know what is.

I’ve never been to an African restaurant before – which is shameful, as Nyala’s been here for 20 years – and I’m pretty excited. The décor here’s warm and welcoming, and it smells like comfort food.

When my coffee arrives it’s thick and tarry and gives me a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp.  My fella’s beer smells as yeasty and syrupy as a brewery. In good ways. Sometimes you want a drink to really hurt.

Then my meal arrives, and it’s hurty spicy. The fluffy bread is lighter than celestial pancakes, and the hearty Ethiopian stew (you’ll find dishes here from all over the continent) suggests this cow has been marinading since infancy.

Look how fluffy.

Keeper? Yes.

DAY 243: Eating my nemesis

1 May

Eel action shot. I just sicked in my mouth.

 I’VE always had a morbid fear of eels.

I hear what you’re saying – sea snakes are worse – but perhaps because the English don’t eat jellied sea snakes and the beasts don’t hang out in rivers much* or star in porn films so regularly, they don’t rattle my cage.

The Mighty Boosh put it best when they mused:

Eels up inside ya
Findin an entrance where they can
Boring through your mind
Through your tummy
Through your anus

This blog’s named after an Eels song, though, and it’s all about facing your fears, so I order an eel something-or-other at this café in Chinatown and get cracking.

I look a bit like an eel in this frock.

Fortunately, when the thing arrives it’s nicely grilled, and looks and tastes like a bit of white fish. If it was a foot long and covered in jelly, that would be a different story all together.

Keeper? Will have to tackle a jellied eel next in England. Then that’s it.

* Did you know: Eels don’t hang out in watering holes; they only like running water.

DAY 239: Getting busted by the pumpkin cops

27 Apr

Ha. Ha.

ON the edge of the Big Desert, feral pumpkins roam the land like unloved kids. At first we deduce some must have scarpered under the fence from a farmer’s field and made a break for it, but they’re bloody everywhere.

They huddle at the sides of dirt tracks, make a run for it across great expanses of scrub and freeze when you turn around, so that they’re scattered like so many sinister pods in Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.

We jump out of the ute and break green globes free from their vines, fired up with joy as though this sudden glut of vegetables has taken on some magical significance. Scattered around are tiny yellow balls with soft spikes, like the useless toys you find up near the till in useless tat shops. We have a baby pumpkin fight and I squash one in my palm to lick it. It explodes like a tomato, but it doesn’t taste good.

I climb up into the ute tray with the vegetable matter and hold on to the rack, ducking low-slung trees as the bush pirate goes chundering down Border Track, quite deliberately exploding rogue pumpkins as he goes.

The main road between Victoria and South Australia is punctuated by a Fruit Fly Quarantine Station, which means the number’s up for our new friends.

“Why is everyone so obsessed with our poisonous pumpkins?” one of the two uniformed women approaching the ute says incredulously. I can still taste deadly cucurbita on my lips. Suddenly we feel foolish for being so excited at our haul.

“Roll them over there with all the others,” she says, pointing at the undergrowth where hundreds of pumpkins have already fallen.

The border cops are nice enough though, looking after the rest of our hoard while we head into the nearest SA town to see what gives. You can’t blame them for being jaded – they’ve seen it all.

The neighbouring town’s a welcoming place, and we’ve a warm, fuzzy feeling by the time we pull up to the fruit fly quarantine station again. And here’s our friend with our cooler bag of dangerous salad leaves.

“We’re going to tell people it’s full of cocaine,” quips the bush pirate as we take her picture handing it over.

“That’s okay, we went through it,” she says, “it’s not in there anymore.”


Keeper? Gone right off pumpkins.

DAY 237: Pulling a pot in a country pub

25 Apr

The Pinnaroo Hotel.

WE’VE just crossed the border from Victoria to South Australia; first stop Pinnaroo.

Pinnaroo (pop. 900) is a no-nonsense, dusty sort of a town, peppered with railway tracks, silos, and the biggest specimens of farming equipment I’ve ever seen. It’s a town that sees itinerant workers passing through, although since the spud wash* closed a couple of years back, it’s been struggling a bit.

While I charge my iPhone and laptop like a nonce in the games room of the spotless Pinnaroo Hotel, and worry about where I can find a latte, the bush pirate pulls up a pew at the bar. He sinks a bunch of beers with the manager, Phil, who looks a bit like Dennis Hopper.

For a loner, the bush pirate sure can talk. By the time I come out, he’s learned the lay of the land, secured us multiple suggestions of swimming holes, an invitation to the local ATV race, told Phil all about this blog, and persuaded him to let me pull a pot behind the bar of his country pub so that I can add that to my list of things done. I pour Phil and the bush pirate a pot each, and Phil says they’re on the house.

“That’s a fucking great idea, that is,” he says, and wishes me luck on my quest.

“Hoo roo from Pinnaroo” a road sign bids as we leave.

Scuse face - eyes crazed from lack of latte.


Just having a look.

Keeper? We’ll always have Pinnaroo.

* I freely admit I have no idea what a spud wash is.