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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 298: Dancing to Pat Benatar in public

26 Jun

FOUNDED in Wellington, New Zealand, the Real Hot Bitches ’80s Dance Troupe now have a Melbourne chapter. They specialise in histrionic workout choreography: pomp rock stylin’ in loud G-string leotards.

Today my friend Elle and I join them in an East Brunswick warehouse, where they’re walking new recruits through Pat Benatar’s ‘Love Is a Battlefield’.

We take to it quickly. There’s loads of thrusting and complex arm pumping, plus pained facial expressions to master, but we’ve done all this before as little girls.

I still remember my choreographed routine to Limahl’s ‘Never Ending Story’ and Elton John’s ‘Nikita’. Just  like my eight-year-old self trying to convey Nikita’s “eyes like ice on fire” through hand movements, the Real Hot Bitches are keen to take a literal approach to lyrics. Imagine, if you will, the physical interpretation to this verse:

You’re begging me to go, you’re making me stay
Why do you hurt me so bad?
It would help me to know, do I stand in your way
Or am I the best thing you’ve had?
Believe me, believe me, I can’t tell you why
But I’m trapped by your love and I’m chained to your side

Oh god, it all makes perfect sense. My favourite move is the eagle taking flight, but you’ll find the lobbing of hand grenades while crawling on one’s belly satisfies the more adventurous. The x-rated, on-the-back squirmings (“You open your legs on ‘touch me deep inside’, FYI”), meanwhile, make me feel like I’ve been busted doing naughty things at a pajama party by someone’s mother. No wonder the absent Jane Fondle – choreographer of many epics – is talked about with the same reverence as Colonel Kurtz.

It’s all daggy as a sheep’s bum, to be sure, but I love it and so does Elle. On the tram home she tells me about her own blog that never quite came to fruition: Hula-Hooping Your Way Out of Heartbreak. Her plan was scuppered when her ex-boyfriend came back, bearing platitudes and talking rubbish. Time to resurrect it, I think.

Keeper? Definitely. I was really feeling it.

DAY 283: Snowballing through a drug and alcohol free town

11 Jun


THE weather down in Lilydale’s fine, but the tips of some of Tasmania’s mountains are capped with snow, so I set out on a mission to have snowball fights up two of them.

Old Dog’s in the driver’s seat, which is a good thing, as Mountain No.1 – Mt Barrow – turns out to be a tight squeeze. It’s like Sunday afternoon suburbia up here.

Old Dog gets tetchy about town folk with four-wheel drives they’re afraid to get wet. Parking halfway up, we lope off into the bush and lob some snowballs around, before building a snowdog for prosperity.

These young men were overjoyed when we furnished them with a carrot for their snowman.

When we drove past again and insisted they take peanuts for freckles we creeped them out a bit.

Mountain No.2 is one of the Great Western Tiers. Old Dog tells me it’s like the surface of the moon up on the Central Plateau — 10,000km2 of boulders and over 4000 lakes, 1000m above sea level.

We drive up through Poatina – a small town that was bought, in 1995, by Christian youth organisation Fusion Australia. It serves as a drug and alcohol-free community for vulnerable youths, some of whom we see jumping off the roof of the local shop in utter boredom.

What? The hedge maze wasn’t fun enough?

Poatina’s motto is “it takes a community to raise a child”, which turned out to be a bit unfortunate when their leader was accused (by Derryn Hinch, no less) of sexually abusing a teenager – a teenager whose history was one of sexual abuse. To their credit, this article is archived on the Poatina website, and the man has since stepped down. But we don’t know any of this at the time, and are more fascinated by the fact that all the buildings are made of the same kind of brick.

Up on the plateau, we turn off the headlights and drive through the snow, stopping off at lakes to skim stones, marvel at the snarled, twisted trees without canopies, and lob icy snowballs.

Keeper? Yes.

DAY 278: Retaking my vows

6 Jun

WHEN I realise I can still fit into my Brownie Guide uniform – give or take a couple of hips – I feel obliged to both remake my Brownie Guide promise and creep my family out.

It’s not a million miles from my forthcoming Australian Citizenship pledge, really – let’s compare the two.

Brownie Guide

Australian Citizenship

I like the way you get the option of removing the word ‘God’ from the Australian Citizenship pledge, though. Onya, Department of Immigration.

I’ve got a copy of my Brownie Guide handbook, so I am open to suggestions as to what badge I should go for first.

Keeper? Ongoing.

DAY 270: Recreating an old family snap

28 May

Horrifically, this photograph is 29 years old.

WHEN Ma unearthed an old family snap of me, my brother and my cousins that for once didn’t have our heads chopped off, we were keen to recreate it.

There are a few snappers doing this professionally with pretty gobsmacking results, one being Irina Werning.

Meanwhile, here’s our effort.


Keeper? Yes.

DAY 269: Penning a Cautionary Tale

27 May

IN EQUAL measures impish and grisly, cautionary tales moved from folklore to fashion in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

I’ve always been fond of ‘master of whimsy’ Hilaire Belloc (Jim, Who ran away from his Nurse, and was eaten by a Lion; Matilda, Who told lies, and was Burned to Death, etc) and German compendium Struwwelpeter (The Dreadful Story of Pauline and the Matches)… which inspires me to write my own bombastic verse.

It’s pretty simple. I have to adhere to rhyming couplets that fall into an iambic pentameter (if you give them a bit of a shove), and I need a very naughty subject.

First, though, here’s a cautionary tale by Hilaire:

George (The boy who played with dangerous toys)

When George’s Grandmamma was told
That George had been as good as gold,
She promised in the afternoon
To buy him an Immense BALLOON.
And so she did; but when it came,
It got into the candle flame,
And being of a dangerous sort
Exploded with a loud report!
The lights went out! The windows broke!
The room was filled with reeking smoke.
And in the darkness shrieks and yells
Were mingled with electric bells,
And falling masonry and groans,
And crunching, as of broken bones,
And dreadful shrieks, when, worst of all,
The house itself began to fall!
It tottered, shuddering to and fro,
Then crashed into the street below-
Which happened to be Savile Row.
When help arrived, among the dead
Were Cousin Mary, Little Fred,
The Footmen (both of them), the Groom,
The man that cleaned the Billiard-Room,
The Chaplain, and the Still-Room Maid.
And I am dreadfully afraid
That Monsieur Champignon, the Chef,
Will now be permanently deaf-
And both his aides are much the same;
While George, who was in part to blame,
Received, you will regret to hear,
A nasty lump behind the ear.
The moral is that little boys
Should not be given dangerous toys.

And now here’s mine.

Young Rosie (Who Fell Under the Hooves of a Galloping Deadline)

In a room deep in Stoke Newington
There bounced a great deal on the Futon
A Child, by turns, Wild and Woolly
In fact, she demanded one’s attention Fully.
Upon Daybreak she would Sally Forth
And insist that Grown-Ups be her Horse.
With a plaintive Cry of “Don’t Go, Don’t Go”
She’d Launch Herself upon their Torso
And Fling her arms around their Throat
So Tightly they were apt to note
That Rosie ought to wind it down a fraction
Or leave a Houseguest prone in Traction.
Alas, our Young Charge failed to forsee
That all these Boisterous Games of Horsey
Could only end in Sulks and Tears
When a Houseguest’s deadline nears.
But no, the Child would not be Told
In fact, she became Increasingly Bold:
The guest, Tappety Tapping on her Computer
Copped a deliberate Knee to the Hooter.
Once day Young Rosie made to Pounce
And duly Leapt quite Unannounced.
The Guest, alarmed, Caught Unawares
Hurled the Poor Child down the Stairs.
To Conclude, the Best Thing you can do
When spying a Careerist stuck like glue
Is tip Ribena betwixt the keys
And give a plaintive little “PLEASE”.

Keeper? Found my calling! I’ll write you one for fifty bucks.

DAY 256: Driving naked

14 May

THAT’S about it, really.

Keeper? Yes. Would prefer an automatic next time.

DAY 255: Finding a pub in a paddock

13 May

WE’VE already driven past ‘The Homestead’ – a makeshift saloon on some land 20 minutes out of Launceston, at which you can tether your horse and hit the turps, and now here’s a pub in a paddock.

The sisters boozing on in the main bar are cleaners by trade, and save up every cent to go travelling once a year to see something new – more vital than owning a house back in Geelong, they testify.

They’ve gawked at a woman swimming with snakes in a tank at the Moulin Rouge, sampled olive oil that made them weep in Italy, and travelled the length and breadth of Australia.

Now they’re visiting the Pub in a Paddock (famed secondarily for Priscilla the Beer Drinking Pig) near St Columba Falls, and are quizzing locals on why it’s alleged most Tasmanians have two heads, while screaming in unison at the antics of “local character” Dale.

Dale could be a bushman from any of the black and white photos of loggers and pioneers lining the walls. He sports an unkempt beard, swagman’s hat, a holey jumper, and pants, from the legs of which pepper berries keep a-rolling. He’s keen to disprove the idea that Tasmanians are only interested in inbreeding, and so sings bawdy sea shanties and keeps up a relentless offensive on one sister, who he reckons he’s on a promise with. For every remark about places she should smear her gravy, though, Diane gives it back twice as hard. It’s like porno ping-pong.

Bruce didn't have the same finesse as Dale.

The barman supplies me with a bottle of light beer for a dollar and we all troop outside with a torch to feed Priscilla. (It’s okay, the RSPCA have approved the light beer; although they may not have endorsed 12 bottles a day.)

Priscilla’s not playing ball, having gone to bed, so I climb the fence and try to rouse her — but ominous growling from the sleeping quarters quickly sends me packing again.

Keeper? Best pub ever.

DAY 242: Jumping the border

30 Apr

WE’VE hit three deserts in three days, and the tip of the furthermost desert, the Murray-Sunset National Park, stops just short of Mildura, a country city on the Vic/NSW border.

Mildura’s a hell of a weird place. It’s an agricultural epicentre, a fruit pickin’ town, but American in design: wide highways, numbered streets on a grid, outskirts that stretch on into oblivion with the biggest Bunnings I’ve ever seen, endless motels, three drive-thru McDonalds within five minutes… all lined with palm trees. The larger district’s known as Sunraysia – so named when the ‘prince of ballyhoo’, local entrepreneur Jack De Garis, launched a competition to name the area’s dried fruits in 1919. Thrashes ‘Orange County’, I reckon.

The town centre itself is nearly swallowed whole, but eventually we find it – a mall and a strip of souvlaki joints jumbled up with fancy restaurants.

We’re here to see the Murray River, though, which doesn’t disappoint. We follow it out of town, as the bush pirate’s cortisol levels are going through the roof here, and hook up with it again the other side of Robinvale.

The Murray River acts as the NSW/Victoria border, so by jumping in I’ll be crossing into my third state in three days. There’s a beautiful sunset going on, which makes whizzing off down the river in a rip at least very scenic. Eventually I manage to engage some kind of a front crawl and get back to the bank. Stunning.

Keeper? Would definitely do that again.

DAY 241: Bothering bees

29 Apr

AS we approach the Little Desert on our road trip, we pass this unmanned platoon of beehives, and the bush pirate bid me run through them.

They’re pretty passive bees it has to be said, zigzagging through the air drunkenly. A few try to nest in my hair, but I’m not chased back to the car, so there’s little comedic value.

Keeper? No.