Packing it all in

suitcase1I write to you from the land of the Kiwis, the home of the All Blacks and bottlers of the finest Sauvignon Blanc. Where chips are “chups”, sex is “sux” and lots of fun things “hair-pen” (happen…)

New Zealand.

It’s a bit of a mini-break. My husband had a few meetings in Wellington and I had a few dollars spare on my credit card.  Win win – for him, for me and for Westpac.

Wellington has more bars and restaurants per head of population than anywhere else in the world. It also has more shoe shops. Walk down Lambton Quay, which is the shopping equivalent of the Queen Street Mall or Orchid Avenue in the 1980s, and you’ll get sore feet from walking in and out of shoe shops.

The only smart thing to do of course is to have a nice sit down on one of the comfy chairs in the shoe shop. And while you’re there, it would be silly not to try on a few pairs. Wasteful, really.

I know I’m not alone in saying that I love to travel. Hell I get excited at an overnight stay in the country to attend a wedding. By country, I mean Ipswich. I try not to go too far west of Kenmore.

What I’m not good at is the packing part. I’m not good at working out what I’m going to wear for the next few days or weeks and getting it all into a suitcase.

Sure I check ahead to see what the weather is going to be like. I see what functions and events we will be going to. I ask my husband to tell me what the baggage weight limit is on the plane.

Then I pretty much open my wardrobe and throw its entire contents into as many suitcases as required.

In the second Sex And The City movie, Carrie gets on the Abu Dhabi-bound flight wearing a hat so enormous it needed its own boarding pass. That hat is never seen nor heard from again. Yes yes I know it’s a movie but she sent a very clear signal that packing doesn’t need to measured or sensible.

What I tend to overlook is that for the most part, I’m travelling to places that have shops and credit card facilities and ATMs etc. If I forget something crucial – a particular lipstick in a fetching shade of rose pink or a pair of black tights – there’s always more at the shops.

The bigger problem is that I don’t leave room for any holiday shopping. That normally requires the purchase of an additional bag. And quite often the purchase of additional baggage allowance.

Travelling by car, whilst devoid of the whole international immigration clearance and duty free shopping fun, means that there’s no real limit on bags.

And it means I become delusional.

Say I’m going to the Gold Coast for a week. I get it into my head that I’m going to be all Mother Nature and Mrs Home Maker and cook a few recipes that are on my cooking wish list. This requires the packing of the wok, my knives, my mortar and pestle and goodness knows how many other kitchen gadgets.

Reality being that we eat out pretty much for three meals a day.

Once I was determined to embrace a healthy outlook and packed my juicer and all manner of vegetables. The juicer never left the boot of my car and the vegies went the way of the compost bin.

About 10 years ago, I was in Singapore with one of my best friends, enjoying this Asian hub’s sights, sounds and tastes. There was lots of fun things to buy, especially in the newly emerging electronics sphere. When it was time to come home, I couldn’t for the life of me get my bag shut.

In desperation, I held my bag firm while my friend bodily dove from one of the twin beds to the other where my case lay gaping, attempting to use the force of body weight to shut it. It is possible we may have been drinking when we came up with this Herculean idea. It didn’t work. I had to buy another bag.

Another time, in Europe, I was at a check-in counter in Slovakia being told that the baggage limit was 15kg or face horrendous fines.

I got the weight of my case to the prescribed limit, but only through wearing three jackets, draping two pairs of boots about my neck, throwing out my shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, and dragging two carry-on bags.

This trip is only a week but I think I’m doing ok. The test of course will be at the Qantas counter on Monday.

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Hair crash investigations

cb

I’ve just returned from my hairdresser, $155 and four inches of hair lighter. The $155 I’m ok with, as this includes a colour, a toner, a treatment, a cut and a straighten.

The four inches of hair is another matter. It is a result of a hair crash.

I’ve always embraced long hair. Apart from that short period circa 1981 when I went all Diana-esque – if I couldn’t have a prince, I was sure as shit going to have a princess’s hair – it’s been long, long, long. Like do it up on your head long. Like plait it long.

And it seems that just when I’ve got it looking amazing, I do something brainless to ruin it and then spend the next year or two recouping.

Here’s what I mean.

About 1985, I landed on the brilliant idea of having a “body wave” put through my hair. Think Farrah Fawcett. Lots of lustrous fat curls all sweeping and swooning about.

I instructed my hairdresser as to my wish. Pulled out copies of TV Week to demonstrate. And I walked out of that salon with hair curled as short and tight as the old lady who calls bingo on Tuesdays in the Valley.

I’d noticed he was cutting quite a bit of my hair off. I’d noticed that the rollers he was using were worryingly small. But I had faith. Belief. What a sucker. Turns out that LJ’s Hair Salon in Coorparoo specialises in perms for the lawn bowls set and I got caught up in their pensioner enthral.

I rushed home and washed it and blew it dry and washed it again. I kept it wringing wet for the next 24 hours. But just like a pensioner in the right lane, those curls weren’t moving.

I put my head down and waited for it to grow again.

Which it must have, because when my daughter was born in 1991, there are pictures of me in unattractive hospital gowns with metres of hair all down my back.

Not much went wrong in the 1990s, mainly because I was too busy working full time, raising my girl, paying back a home loan that Paul Keating had set at 17% and getting divorced.

So I was a bit late to join the Jennifer Aniston/Rachel Green hairstyle party. I’d known about it, I’d seen the invitations, but I’d never gone along. I was determined to change that.

So I rang my hairdresser at the time. Groovy lady, ran some uber-cool salon in that antiques precinct in Woolloongabba. Comes complete with Foxtel, champers, ensuite, gay assistant and scalp massages.

I must admit I sprung my visit on her. I committed that heinous offence of ringing in the morning for an afternoon appointment. So I wasn’t surprised when she remorsefully conveyed the news that she was, in fact, already booked (doh!) but if I really wanted to come, her associate Greta could assist.

I said that would be fine.

Not realising the catastrophic mistake I’d made, I arrived for my hair cut confident in the fact that if the lovely Greta is working under the tutelage of my fabulous hairdresser, nothing can go wrong.

So Greta is chatting to me about her adorable son, I’m throwing in appreciative quips and anecdotes about my daughter, her scissors are doing their thing, blonde hair (mine) is scattered across the floor, I’m paying little or no attention – until I glance up from my magazine to see a huge chunk of my long hair fall victim to her sharp scissors. From a place on my head where I had asked for it to please stay long.

It’s pretty hard to get upset at a hairdresser when you’re sitting in a chair with plastic wrapped around you like a straight jacket, and they’re holding sharp scissors, sometimes upwards of three pairs at once.

Instead of a gentle layering around the front of my face, she’s hacked at right angles, creating this harsh stepped layering. It was awful.

I grabbed her wrist, and pleaded with her to stop. “You’re ruining my hair!” I wailed.

“But it’s the Rachel cut,” she countered.

It seems that her version of Rachel was somewhat different to mine. I think the Rachel she was referring to was on work release and lived with her tattoos and rollies in a caravan park down near Eagleby.

I wore my hair up for nine months after that one.

Around 2007, I got myself in trouble again, and this time there was no one to blame but me. My GHD straighteners were less than a year old but were put to good use most days. No more hours of blow drying, no more clumpy “snakey” hair, just a perfect sheet of blonde.

On this particular day, I shooshed a bit of hairspray on the front strands to hold them in place. I examined the end result and wasn’t totally happy as my hair wasn’t as straight as I’d prefer.

Not to worry, I thought, as I fired up my straightener and swiped its paddles over my hair. A sizzling noise, not dissimilar to pork fat being thrown onto a super hot bbq griddle, was emitted. A hideous smell not dissimilar to rancid meat being microwaved was expelled.

I’d burnt my own hair. The chemicals in the hairspray clearly weren’t too happy when the heat was applied and they took it out on my hair. How could I be so dumb!?

It ended with me at the hairdresser in tears, watching my locks fall around me as this poor fellow muttered to himself in Spanish about how silly blonde women shouldn’t be given access to things that required heat. Or electricity.

Which brings me to my recent hairdresser visit. You see, one night a few months ago, it was quite late and I was in my bathroom taking out my hair. That morning, I’d tied it in a high ponytail, looped the tail part over the elastic and then messily pinned it to create one of those chaotic-on-purpose hairstyles.

It had been a long day. I was heading overseas on holidays the following week and there was much to do at work to get things in order. I’d lurched home late, guzzled a glass of wine, reheated a plate of food, and then headed to the bathroom for a shower.

As I was taking my hair out, the elastic band got caught. The more I pulled and tugged the more my hair entwined itself around the offending elastic. Desperate for a shower and sleep, I grabbed some scissors and maleficently chopped at the elastic band.

Without a mirror.

After a glass of wine.

As I snipped, I heard a sound and remember thinking, “this can’t be good.” It wasn’t. I pulled away and in my hand was a good six inches of my hair, and no elastic in sight.

It was, of course, still caught in my hair.

My wailing brought my husband, who cut the elastic for me, after he had finished rolling on the floor in laughter. For better or worse anyone?

The next day I was at the hairdresser, having layers and layers cut all around my hair in an attempt to hide the cruelty of my home haircut, while my hairdresser and all her assistants rolled about on the floor in laughter.

Which brings me to this week, where I can proudly say that my hair has been behaving nicely and growing steadily, and the four inches I lost yesterday brings the layers of my hair closer together.

Once upon a time, I used to get my hair and nails done at the same place. Triple As for convenience in geographical location and efficiency in dialogue. I didn’t have to make separate trips and I didn’t have to give the same updates twice. They could cut, file and listen together.

Until the day dawned, about three years into this mutually festive partnership, that I was no longer thrilled with the quality of my nails. I knew I’d have to find another technician. Which women of the world will understand meant I had to find a new hairdresser as well. I could hardly waltz in there for a haircut and bypass the nail studio. I had to cut all ties (pun intended) and start again.

Here’s hoping I get to the end of this decade without another disaster. My husband has my hairdresser on speed dial, however, just in case.

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I blame Carrie

cbFor a really long time there, I was an avid devotee of Sex And The City. As a wanna-be writer, an Austen-style believer in true love and a stiletto devotee, I felt I had finally met my equals.

I watched those girls wax and wane between love on the horizon and love on the rocks. They talked orgasms, three-ways, abortion, marriage and AIDS. They ran all over New York in their clickety-clack heels and tight skirts, schmoozed their way into club openings and Michelin-star restaurants and shed tears of heartbreak when things turned sour.

The show has been over for more than 10 years, and since then we’ve had two movies and there’s talk of a third.

And there’s a part of me that looks at it now and wants to wring Carrie’s scrawny bloody neck.

Because of Carrie, I felt hideously inadequate for not wearing high heels when I went to the supermarket on Saturday morning or when I went to my letterbox to get my mail. Even if I popped out for a quick Sunday brunch, and all the girls I was meeting were in flats, I’d still wear heels. Because that’s what Carrie did. Don’t get me wrong here, my love affair with heels started ways before SATC. It’s just that Carrie took it up a notch. And I was right behind her in my platform wedges.

Now, when I watch old episodes, my favourite scene is the one where Aidan proposes. Not because he proposes, but because she’s out walking the dog, and she’s in shorts and thongs. Like a normal person.

Because of Carrie, I spent close to five years hanging around waiting for some publisher type person to offer to turn all my columns into a book. I’d even made the lame joke to my friends about not getting chemical peels the day before my book launch. Reality being that if I’m ever going to publish my columns as a book, I will at some point need to engage a publisher.

Because of Carrie, I wake up in the morning and wonder why I look so shit. Those girls were out till 4am dancing salsa and sinking tequila and their noses didn’t get shiny and their mascara never wandered away from their eyes. Which brings me to more of my 10-years-on favourite scenes – Carrie getting sprung in the shower by Charlotte following her failed birthday dinner, where she’d just stuck her head under the tap and she sported black panda eyes. Like a normal person. And in the first movie, when the girls got to Mexico, and Carrie went into the bathroom and washed her face that was sans make-up. She looked like a normal person would look when that normal person has been left at the altar.

How Carrie lived her extravagant life on the earnings of one column a week is perplexing. Even if she was paid say $100,000 (back then) I really doubt she could be trotting off to Manolo B’s each week or whatever for a new pair. Plus the wardrobe that included Prada, Chanel, D&G etc. We never saw her in Big W trying on a pair of Emerson’s or at Valley Girl buying a $10 sequin top.

And how did they do their washing? Apart from the time where Miranda came face to face with Steve’s skid marks, did any of them actually wash? Or vacuum or dust?

I think the most powerful annoyance for me is Big. When SATC first came on TV, I was dating a bit of Mr Big dickhead myself, so I felt I could commiserate with Carrie’s frustrations. My guy wasn’t that much into commitment yet I thought the sun shone out of his feckless cheating arse. I would loll around all morose and beleaguered, knowing full well he was out with another woman, and wonder what was so wrong with me that he wouldn’t commit.

Every now and then he’d have a fit of loneliness, or fear, or both, and scramble over to my place to tell me how much I meant to him and how hard he was going to work to make it good. Sort of like Big did when he was married to Natasha. Of course it was never genuine but I sure as hell fell for it each time.

Now all these years later, I look back on Carrie and me, and wonder why, at the first sign of what Bridget Jones eloquently called fuckwittage, we didn’t just call them tosspots and jaunt off on our high heels. Love, if it’s meant to be, shouldn’t be that stressful or destructive.

And there are better ways to lose weight.

The reason I know this, is that when I met my now husband, he was upfront from the first glass of Pinot Noir. He said he was absolutely intent on a long-term commitment, he thought I was the most gorgeous woman on the planet and he booked me for dinner every Saturday night for the next 40 years.

And so I took myself off the dating rollercoaster and put myself in a very happy, fulfilling and equal place. And I look back at those not so wondrous years and wonder why the hell I let myself put up with such crap. And do my best to get word around to friends and friends of friends who are dating their own version of Mr Big to let them know that life without a tosspot is still pretty good.

Of course I still have a wardrobe stacked with high heels which I wear with great regularity. I just not longer have a life that is stacked with angst and drama.

I guess that makes me what Bridget Jones calls “a smug married”.

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My “One Direction” story

001In 2008, the week before my daughter Jade started Year 12, her final year at school, we went to the Gold Coast. She was a single kid with a single mother, so when we were packing, we also packed one of her best friends. My playmate was wine, hers was Eloise. I think that’s pretty fair.

We rented this great apartment, right on the surf at Broadbeach. The girls had one end of the joint, and I had the other. We would meet up in the kitchen once or twice a day for food and cuddles, but primarily it was so I could hand over cash.

On the Thursday night, I’d taken them to dinner at some rancidly expensive place. During the meal, they met up with some friends who warbled on about having a “gathering” at their place later that night. On bended knees the girls begged for the opportunity to partake in this quasi-adult function that would include boys, alcohol and loud music, in the order that makes me feel most comfortable.

All I cared for was that an adult was present. The mum in this group nodded sagely and informed me that all would be well above board and well supervised. I was well happy.

Off trot these pubescent 16 year olds, in their impossibly short shorts and their impossibly long hair, filled with the excitement and trepidation that you can only feel at 16 when you’ve been given a modicum of freedom and there’s a sniff of boy.

And off trotted I, wearing my three-quarter grandma shorts that cover all manner of post-40 sins, and carrying a fresh bottle of sav blanc, filled with the excitement and trepidation that you can only feel at 42 when you’re a full time single mum and you’ve been given the night off.

Curfew was 11pm. At 11.05pm, I heard the key in the lock. In bounced these two gorgeous girls, texting furiously, giggling continuously and gushing non-stop. “Oh Mum, it was sooooooooooooo much fun” and “Oh Mum, you should have seen this boy that was there” and “Oh Mum, I think Midori is the best drink in the world, have you tried it with lemonade?”

Happy to see safely home the two precious angels who were under my protective wings, I kissed them both lightly, and headed for my bed. After all, I’d made best friends with a bottle of sav blanc and I needed a new best friend. My bed.

About 4am, my bladder woke me, as it is prone to do when you drink that much wine and are over 40 and have given birth. A quick stop in my ensuite loo, then my mothering instinct kicked in and I opened the girls’ bedroom door to make sure they were covered and that the wind wasn’t blowing the room to pieces.

No girls in the bed. Not to worry. They’re probably on the veranda. I remember at that age, my girlfriends and I would stay up all night playing our Leif Garrett records and stealing my parents sherry.

No girls on the veranda. Not to worry. They’re probably down by the pool. I remember at that age, my girlfriends and I having sleepovers, and sneaking into the backyard to converse with the moon while we drank my parents sherry.

No girls by the pool. Or in the bbq area. Or in the driveway. I even had the temerity to check if my car was still there. By this stage, I couldn’t let anything pass me by.

So I rang Jade. And bless her, she answered straight away. And of course, they’d snuck back to the fabulous party to look at the fabulous boy and were hoping that the empty bottle of wine they saw in the bin would see me through to 7am.

How wrong they were.

They came home immediately and knew that they were in some pretty serious trouble. They both begged me not to tell their fathers because they said they’d get grounded for life. Neither of them had the slightest inkling at how frightened I had been. They had not thought if something bad happened to Eloise, that I would be the one ringing her mother to pass on the tragic news. That I hadn’t gone through nine months of pregnancy and nine years of being a single mother to lose my precious girl on a stupid whim.

And my point is this, because you know that all my stories end up having a point – at that point in time, if I had One Direction tickets in my possession, I would have whacked them onto ebay without a single thought. Probably at a 50% discounted rate.

A fitting punishment for a fitting crime.

But I didn’t have One Direction tickets. The One Direction boys were still in utero back then.

I didn’t want to take away her mobile phone, because I wanted her to have it so I could call her.

I didn’t want to cut our holiday short because it was my holiday as well, and I wanted the last four days of sun and sand and surf before the real world and my office job beckoned.

I didn’t want to ring Eloise’s mum and ask her to come and pick up her daughter, because then Jade would look to me for entertainment for our remaining four days, and frankly, I love her more than anything, but 24/7 is a bit too much.

So instead I gave them a very stern lecture, brought up stories of Anita Cobby and Schapelle Corby, expressed the love that I held for them, and locked them inside the apartment for two days while I went out and enjoyed the shops, the food and the surf.

So to the mum who sold her daughter’s One Direction tickets, you have my vote lady.

You have my vote.

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My right to bare arms

001Oh shit. Shit shit shit shit shit. It’s nearly summer, hey.

Which is actually ok by me, despite my repetitive profanities.

Now you know I’m not really a winter person. It’s like beach or countryside. Tea or coffee. Country or western. We tend to be either one or the other.

I’m more your summer person. I like to swim, eat outdoors and drink white wine that is almost sub-Arctic in temperature. I like to sleep with the scent of my jasmine vine wafting over me. Gawd that was almost poetic!

My birthday is the 25th of August and people are often perplexed as to why an imminent birthday causes me no grief. It’s because once my birthday is done, there’s literally one week more until winter is over. Literally. Praise to you Lord Summer.

For a brief moment every year, I pause to consider whether I would like to change teams and become pro-winter. Like voting for Clive Palmer. I think that one day I’ll be all nasty and menopausal and wanting to put my head in the freezer. Brisbane summers look like they could be somewhat brutal to menopausal women.

Or when we got back from a few weeks in the UK, where I wore 5-metre long scarves in some ultra-chic Elizabeth Hurley way, and slept under massive goose feather doonas, and drank wee drams of whiskey by the fire… Yes then I think I might like to be a winter person.

That is, until it’s time to go back to work and I’m standing at the train station at 6:45am and it’s freezing. [Read more…]

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Single woman vs married woman

002Having been both single and married for equally significant periods in my life, I feel well qualified to share these insights. Let me know if you agree with anything I’ve said…

What to do when there’s a noise in the night

Single girl: She’ll prod whatever random lover she chose for the night, and ask him to go investigate. Ten bucks says that while he’s poking around and finding there’s nothing sinister going on, she’ll suggest that, seeing as he’s up, he may as well head home. That way she can snuggle down and have a blissful solo sleep and not have to contend with the morning-after-the-night-before issue of making a noise in the toilet.

Married girl: She’ll prod her husband, who is lying flat on his back and snoring louder than a coffee grinder, and ask him to go investigate. Ten bucks says that while he’s poking around and finding there’s nothing sinister, she’ll ask him to bring her a cup of tea on his way back, check on the kids and empty the kitty litter. No point wasting the effort of getting up.

What to do when cooking for one

Single girl: She uses her oven for storage and keeps hair accessories in her Tupperware. She’s not cooking for one. Either she makes a massive pot of something on the weekend, and eats the same thing every night, or she has a glass of wine and a piece of cheese. Because who can be bothered. Mind you, if she’s got herself organised, she’ll have one of her attentive admirers take her out for dinner. Straight after work of course, because who can be bothered going home to change when all you want is food.

Married girl: If she’s cooking for one it means either of these: She’s put herself on a diet and won’t be eating a morsel until next Tuesday, so she has to rustle up something for her husband. In instances like this, hubby should count himself fortunate if she bothers to microwave the baked beans before she dumps them on some toast and hands them to him. Or, option two, hubby is away for the night and she’s got the whole house to herself. She won’t be cooking then either. She’ll be busy watching back-to-back episodes of Game of Thrones or Sex and the City, and pouring her dinner into a wine glass.

What to do when the car breaks down

Single girl: She’s sensibly a member of some reputable breakdown service. She’ll phone them up and once they know she is a) single and b) stranded alone, will have a mechanic to her in no time. He fixes up her car, checks her hand for a wedding ring, asks her out, gets a polite rebuff but he still says he’ll watch her drive off just to make sure everything is ok. If she’s not a member of a reputable breakdown service she’ll take the only other viable option. She’ll ring her dad.

Married girl: Of course, it’s the husband’s fault. Isn’t he in charge of servicing, battery replacements and fuel? She’ll ring her husband up, and berate him for forgetting to ensure her car was roadworthy, tell him it’s all his fault she’s stuck on Gympie Road with a car that won’t start, and ask him what is he going to do about it? The husband then rings the reputable breakdown service on her behalf and gives them the address of where she is, and wishes them luck. The husband will probably get cold baked beans for dinner that night. The wife will have wine.

What to do when there’s a big electricity bill

Single girl: She never has to worry about a big electricity bill because she rarely cooks and when she’s home, she only uses small side lamps or candles because this type of lighting makes her look younger, softer and more alluring. Even if she’s the only one in the house, there’s no point in scaring herself when she looks in the mirror. She really only needs electricity to keep her wine cold and her hair straighteners hot.

Married girl: Instantly blames the husband. He’s the one who comes home and switches every light on. He stays in the shower for 20 minutes, insists on having five televisions with Foxtel, and will put the dishwasher on when it contains only two dirty saucepans and a knife. He’s the one out in the shed with the drill and angle grinder and bench and saw goodness knows what else. Therefore, it seems logical that he should pay it. She usually rings the utility provider to let them know this.

(Part 2 to follow shortly)

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Stuff girls say

001I just need to vent for a minute

Can you keep a secret?

Do you know where my phone is?

I can’t get my hair wet

This is going to sound really mean, but…

I’m just going to steal one of your chips

I have nothing to wear

What star sign are you?

I think she’s a really nice girl, really I do, it’s just that…

God I look fat in that photo

Can we just stop in here for a second?

Oh my God, I love that movie!!

I’ve always thought she was a bit weird

Did you see what she put on Facebook?

Nah, no way, that would never fit me

OK, just one quick one then

I think my hair looks ok today

Hey love, fab shoes you got on

We used to be best friends at high school

I’m not going to have a birthday this year

Fuck that’s ugly

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WWT’s solution to speeding

In 1974, when my brother was a tiny baby, Mum would sling his basinet onto the back seat of the car, and then get behind the wheel and drive off to the shops. I don’t think she even put a seat belt around it. I can also remember leaving a New Year’s Eve party with my folks around the same time, and laughing at my dad because he was honking the horn and driving all over the place, because he was pissed.

Thankfully now, with compulsory seat belts, red light and speed cameras, air bags, better roads, better designed vehicles and driver awareness education, we know better. We know not to speed, we watch our number of drinks and we take care when driving in the rain.

Well, most of us do. There’s still some idiots who sit in the pub and go, “glug glug glug, I only live down the road, another schooner thanks Doreen, glug glug glug, no one is out at this time of night, glug glug glug, I’ll be right.”

And maybe they are. And then one day they’re not. One day (or night) the police are wandering around that neighbourhood and they’ve got a fresh breathalyser and they see this fool leaving the pub and think, “I might just check that out.”

Then there’s an 18 year old who has just got his Ps and a 1994 Commodore, all on the same day. What’s he going to do? Drive it like he stole it, of course. There am I, tottering along Gympie Road in my 1.6L car when this idiot rushes by, weaving in and out of traffic without much thought for his fellow drivers or his indicator.

Or when it is bucketing down with rain and I’ve slowed my speed, another fool is sitting right up my tail pipe. If I cared less for my car, and my own life, I’d be tempted to slam on the brakes just so I could say, “You tosser”.

Now anyone who knows me will know that I do not have the cleanest of driving records. I’ve got what is affectionately known as a lead foot, even though it is shod in fabulous heels. I’ve been nabbed by the red light camera on the Story Bridge approach from Main Street, and I’ve had those intimidating blue flashing lights behind me when I was doing 130 on the Gold Coast highway.

So I am in no position to judge.

All the media hype and police advertising is correct though. Speeding kills. You can’t disagree with that. It’s a message that has been drummed into drivers for so long now it is almost like the 11th commandment. Thou shalt not speed. Yet still it happens; yet still it is identified as the blame in road fatalities.

Why?

My concern is that in Queensland we don’t have severe penalties. My fine was about $200 and three points. The government let me pay off this fine at $20 a month if I chose, and will still give me a chance to accrue a further nine demerit points before they get serious.

What if, my loves, what if the fine for speeding was $2000? What if you were not allowed to pay that off over five years at $20 a month. What if you had to produce your living expenses budget to some authorised officer, and he/she would say, “Cancel your gym membership, no money for going out or buying clothes, your hair appointment can wait, so can your nails, cut your grocery bill in half, no alcohol and only pay the minimum on your credit card. Now, you will live like that until this fine is paid.”

Would that make a social change? Would that be a big enough incentive to make speeding a disincentive?

I earn a reasonable enough salary, but let me tell you, a fine of $2000 is going to hurt. Really hurt. With the goal of hopefully making it hurt so much that I would think very carefully before ever exceeding the speed limit again.

The bleeding hearts amongst us will cry that it is discrimination or unfair on minimum wage earners. To me, discrimination is when the car mechanic will only talk to my husband, and unfair on minimum wage earners is when they are denied free health care for their children.

As a kid growing up, I had a mother who was somewhat fond of the wooden spoon when I was naughty. So fond of it in fact that she broke one or two of them in the process of whacking my backside. Even now, I cannot use a wooden spoon when cooking without feeling slightly menaced.

When I outgrew the wooden spoon, I was grounded when I misbehaved. I had my pocket money and phone privileges taken away and I wasn’t allowed to even walk down the street to get milk.

Ergo I was punished in a way that severely impacted on my standard of living and my quality of life.

Ergo (again) it was easier to simply do what Mum and Dad asked me to do ie keep my room tidy, do the breakfast washing up and not take up smoking.

In simple terms, don’t break the rules.

So if you’re speeding along at 90km/hr in the 60 zone, and you get caught, you should get the wooden spoon from my mother.

Failing that, you should be hit with a dirty great whack of a fine. A fine so big that it disrupts your standard of living and your quality of life to such a point where you realise it is easier to follow the rules.

After all, they’re there for a reason.

Have you met my mother?

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Why Patrick? Offspring will never be the same

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I had better pick up next week’s New Idea and see that Matthew Le Nevez has signed on with Sly Stallone in Expendables 3. Or that Harrison Ford has moved over and Matt is in the fifth Indiana Jones instalment. Or that he is the new McCreamy on Grey’s Anatomy.

Or something equally noteworthy. And horny.

Because that’s the only reason I will accept for him dying.

Patrick’s untimely death on Offspring last night shocked me. Surprised me. Annoyed me.

You see, I was absolutely, unquestionably convinced that Mick was going to get the bullet. Yes, Mick. Mr Eddie Perfect himself.

Jimmy is a bit of a dreamer, a bit flaky, despite his 24-carat heart of gold. But he’s a dad. He has got Alfie and all his inherent future adolescent issues. He’s also tangled up with Zara and the open relationship and his taco shop has just got off the ground. It would be a shame.

Billie, for all her self-indulgent hysterics, is the comic relief of Offspring. Her penchant for drama assuages my regularly recurring concerns that sometimes I put on a bitch-act once too often. I’ve still got my training wheels on when it comes to drama, if you work off the Billie Proudman code for living.

Mick, in his real life, as meteoric rising singer/writer/actor seemed a likely choice. In real life, as in Offspring, his career is what is fashionably called juggernaut. He’s got a lot going on outside the Offspring filming studio in Melbourne. His screen wife is a nightmare. See paragraph above. He has Jimmy’s heart of gold but a greater sense of commitment and purpose. In short, he deserves better than his portrayal as Mick.

And I had figured that the show would survive without him. Just as long as Billie could pay the mortgage.

But it was Patrick who got the bullet. Or the car crash to the head.

You know, I was so convinced it would be one of the other three, that even when Patrick was struck down by the car, I shrugged it off as a distraction carefully put in place by the show’s Machiavellian producers.

Hahaha, I was thinking, good one guys. Get Patrick to have a slight stumble in front of a moving car, to give us all time to top up our wine and go to the loo, while we wait for Mick to stumble in front of a tram as he chases after Billie when she storms off from Nina’s baby shower.

I was soooooooooooo wrong.

What are we going to do without Patrick? Sure, I’ve read enough news feeds today that explain he will return like Sam did to Demi Moore’s Molly in 1990s Ghost. With or without Oda Mae Brown.

But on a regular basis he will be missed. Primarily because he had better hair than Mick. And Clegg. And he looked pretty damn good without his shirt on. When he was in bed, kissing Nina/Asher.

To me, he was the only sane and sensible one in that mad-cap family. While Geraldine, Darcy and their offspring were prone to frenetic diatribe and disassociated conversations, he was like Ghandi in their midst. With better hair.

And fair enough, it seemed that he and Kate were a touch too co-dependent for my liking. As brother and sister, as it is with my brother and me, there should be slight touch of “you’re a jerk/idiot/loser” behaviour, every now and then. But that’s not reason enough to knock him off.

I’m grateful for my Offspring DVDs. I can watch Dr Patrick Reid at my leisure whenever my beloved husband has taken himself off to bed early.

RIP Patrick xoxo

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Due date

007If you were to ask me now if I could remember the exact date I was given, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. But when I was sitting in my doctor’s surgery, nine weeks pregnant, it was a date that was seared into my brain and invisibly tattooed on my skin.

The date my baby was due.

My own birthday is at the end of August and it seemed incomprehensible that I would be holding my own child in my arms when I next blew out candles.

Not for even a second did I pause to appreciate the benefits of youth and pregnancy. Probably because when you have youth, you don’t bother to appreciate it because you figure it will always be there.

But since Jade’s birth, I’ve watched friends and workmates struggle their way through gestation while in their late 30s and even early 40s. But at 25, when I was pregnant, I pranced about the place and couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about.

The first time she moved, I was lying on my bed reading. I felt the movement and looked at my stomach, and thought it was a scene from Alien. I think Jade was doing yoga. It was like she stuck out her foot, which created this big lump in my stomach and then it started moving from left to right, and back again.

If I hadn’t known I was pregnant, I would have been terrified. Those Maltesers ads are lame in comparison.

When I got to about seven or eight months, I noticed these reddish-purple lines on the lower part of my stomach. I didn’t worry too much at all, because I just figured they were the indent marks from the elastic in my tracksuit pants. Tracksuit pants being the only item of clothing which was comfortable.

But even when I didn’t wear the wonderful tracksuit pants for a few days, those marks were still there. No way was I going to even consider the possibility of stretch marks, until my doctor very gently and very kindly said, “oh, and you’ve got a few tiny little stretch-y marks just here but they’re nothing, they’ll be gone in no time.”

(In actual fact, the “stretch-y” marks covered my entire stomach from hip to hip. Nice work on the doc’s part though. And as for them being gone in no time? The baby turns 22 next month but I’m sure they’ll be gone soon.)

Mmmmm.

So my due date was approaching. It was a Sunday. I remember with absolute clarity going to bed on the Saturday night fully prepared to wake at 2am in gut-wrenching labour. I even slept in my tracksuit pants to make getting ready to go to the hospital quicker and easier. (It’s why I’m tired, I’m always thinking.)

Instead I woke at 7am, walked the dog, read the paper, drank tea and pulled out some weeds. Some friends popped around to “see how I was” (I think they just wanted to see if labour hurt as much as the television says it does).

I made some lunch, we all chatted, and then watched a movie. I made sure it was a movie I’d seen before because I was convinced my upcoming labour would prevent me from seeing the end.

I even had a glass of wine, figuring that the baby would be out before its affects supposedly ruined her for life. Same way you eat chocolate on the day of your high school formal because you know the pimples won’t show until the next day, so you’re in the clear.

Instead, the movie finished, and with some big hugs, our friends left. I took the dog for another walk, moved the sprinkler, and hung out a load of washing. I even had another half-glass of wine.

Nothing.

Over the next few days, I started getting agitated. Where are you? Get the bloody hell out of there, I want to meet you! Get the bloody hell out of there so you can see your frothy princess pink room that I made for you. Get the bloody hell out of there so I can start thinking about my size 12 jeans again.

And so it started. I walked for miles every day. Our gorgeous dog was in heaven. And very tired. I cooked the hottest curries on the planet. I drove through potholes. I had crazy crazy sex. And more wine.

Nothing.

In the end, nearly 10 days later, we all gave up. The doctor confirmed what I’d already guessed. She wasn’t coming. Not today, not tomorrow, and probably not next week.

They had to go in and get her.

And that’s the date I remember. August 22, 7.09pm, when they stuck a dirty great needle in my back and took Jade out via the sunroof. Finally, I got to meet my girl.

So Kate Middleton, I know your baby is born to be Queen (yes, it’s a girl) but don’t stress. One way or another she will make her way to you and you’ll wonder what you ever worried about.

And like me, you’ll wonder what you ever did without her.

xo

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