The Health Inspector

I think if I were inclined to go to work again I should like to be a council health inspector. But with a difference – I would do domestic premises rather than commercial ones.

In case you are horrified by the thought of some jack-in-office barging into your kitchen and lifting up the lids on your pots, consider that there is probably adequate provision for this now in council by-laws. There certainly is when it comes to the garbage, as the current trial of recycling wastes is proving. We are told that the inspectors will be going about taking mobile-phone pictures of our bins ” to improve understanding ” but it is probably to give them a chance to scold us for putting the wrong things in the various containers. Or it might just be to frighten us into putting less in anyway – with no answer as to what to do with the extra garbage.

In my case I should like to extend the surveillance to linen closets, desk drawers, and round the back of sofas – the places where small change and unused postage stamps are likely to accumulate. After all, a penny saved is a penny earned, and a penny stolen is even better. And I should be incorruptible, at least until the stakes were high enough.

Health is one of those topics that we all agree is essential…without being able to actually put our fingers on what is healthy. Robust and shining in Ulan Bator looks like terminal disease in Coolangatta. Vermin in Violet Town are considered livestock in Venezuela. You should see the thundering herds of beefrats at round-up time. The gauchos mounted on Jack Russells can be a bit startling for the novice hand, but you get used to them.

I am a little unclear as to what the procedure is if I discover a violation of the health regulations. Do I ask for the envelope of cash before or after throwing the rat on the counter? Are cats actually edible? Is mould considered a religious sacrament in some cultures? I’ll need to consult the department on these matters.

Meanwhile business owners, private citizens, and hospitality industry members may slip as many fat envelopes as they wish under the departmental door – our concern for health is paramount 24 hrs a day, or at least as long as the bottle shop is open.

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The Old Coot Network

The Old Coot Network is different from the Old Boy Network in several ways – and is probably similar to the relationship between the Old Dear Network and the Old Girl Network. I’m not sure if the differences are based upon nationality  but I’ll bet they have something to do with class.

Old Boys and Old Girls are traditionally former classmates at a private school. The Old Coots and Old Dears are from further down the market. But it does not stop them from being equally useful.

Take this week – I was concerned about the health and safety of this computer and called at the local Apple store to discuss it. I was handed from the greeter to a very attractive young woman with startling eyelashes and given time to ask my questions…but was immediately assured that they were groundless fears and that I really should toddle off. To help me toddle I was given the telephone number of the Apple Care help desk.

My net investigations then suggested that the Apple Care desk probably wouldn’t – at least not until I paid them some undetermined fee.

So it was on to the Old Coot Network – the people in my former trade that actually deal in and with Apple products for photographers’ use. They were more than happy to discuss my worries and to provide guidance toward a couple of anti-virus and anti-malware programs – the same ones they use for their photographic business. I came home, did as I was bid, and finally got the reassurance that all was well.

I am now curious to see whether it was beyond the policy of the Apple store to make the same recommendation or to tell me of their own, similar, product. I shall call at another store in their chain before I make any further judgement.

 

Use Before January, 2018

Or freeze and use before the turn of the 21st century.

Nearly everything can be frozen. Milk, bread, bank accounts. You can freeze lots of stuff that would otherwise go rotten and extend the period of time in which it can go rotten. Time shift your smelly garbage bin, if you will. This is not as sad as it seems.

Before Christmas, we bought two cooked chickens from Woolies for use in a party dish – the meat was picked off the bones and the carcasses put back into the heavy plastic bags in which they had been supplied by the store. That went into the freezer – which might seem a little odd. Freezing garbage?

No, freezing carcasses that will be rendered for soup a little while down the track. It’s all a matter of timing. Garbage collection is Thursday morning, no good tossing chicken bodies out on Monday in a hot climate – by Thursday morning the place would smell like State Parliament. So they will be defrosted and boiled one Wednesday afternoon, then the stock frozen in turn for use in winter soups. Then they go into the organic bin.

It becomes a case of frozen Tetris sometimes as one cycles the various components through the freezer in time for disposal or storage, but the actual effect is pretty good – the amount of waste that the family produces is slightly less, and we get home-made soup for our troubles. And soup is a variable equation – nearly anything can be factored in. The only no-no is poultry and split peas – there is a chemical reaction in there that makes the entire house smell like cat pee.

Do we deserve the contempt of gastronomic nations for our freezer habits? Well, if you want to go down to the open air when it is 42º in the water bag and buy a half cup of organic kale for your masterpiece, don’t let me stop you. We’ll take bets amongst us here on whether you’ll make it to the end of the street before slumping over…while we sit in the A/C and wait for dinner to defrost. Off you toddle.

The Land Of Themandus

I’ve lived in Themandus for nearly all my life. It is not as bad a place as it is sometimes made out to be but life here can sometimes be a strain. Let me explain.

As a small child I was taken to a country that adjoined my native land. I’d no knowledge of this as I was a month old at the time, but as I grew up, those around me in the new country were able to explain it to me. I found it confusing at the time – was I living in the land of Them while I was an Us, or was it the other way around?

Fortunately my father’s employment whisked me around Country No.2 so fast that I was, perforce, mostly in the company of my parents and felt that they and I were Us and nearly everyone else was Them. This satisfied me for years as I listened to the ill-temper of school teachers and students complaining about the land of my birth…just over the border…I was also fortunate that the nomad existence prevented me from being claimed by other sorts of Us people in the Them settlements that we lodged in – I was never forced to Us it on a religious basis each week, and was able to blend in with Them whenever They had Christmas or Easter. I got chocolate eggs and turkey same as They did, though not on the same plate.

Coming to Australia in the middle 1960’s let me experience being an Us amongst a different set of Thems, and as I had been trained to the sport of being an outsider in Country N0.2, Country N0.3 was easy.

I’ve even gone so far as to become a naturalised Them here and it has worked pretty well for the last 48 years. I still grit my teeth when I hear ill-mannered talk about Country No.1 from natives of Country N0.3 but I realise that it is generally just ignorance or bias that drives it – not a personal attack.

I’m also happy to say that upon becoming a Them, and then marrying another Them, and having a child, that I have now become the leader of a small family of Us. And as long as we steer away from sex, politics, and religion in our conversation, we can all be happy.

 

I Have A First Class Sign

I bought it at York Railway Museum in 1995 – really I did. I did not prise it from a British Rail carriage with a pen knife. Not because of my well-known sense of honesty and scruples – because all the signs were already removed long before I boarded the trains. I had to content myself with cutting out squares of the upholstery.

Rail travel is generally wonderful if you are allowed to sit in a First Class seat – you may have noticed this as well with airplane flights. If you turn left upon entering the cabin door most of your worries and discomforts can be made to disappear – though it must be said that they do not go away cheaply. They take a good deal of your cash with them.

But back to the rails. The British are a classified society and make no bones about it. They’ll analyse you in a second by your clothing and in a nanosecond by your accent and shunt you instantly into a niche in their behavioural structure. You should not be upset by this – it is not discriminatory – they do it to everyone and to themselves. And for the foreigner ( even a Commonwealth foreigner ) there can be some advantages to this. We are given a leeway in appearance and behaviour that they do not allow themselves. We are not expected to come up to their standards ( or down to them, as the case may be ) and we can be left alone to do our own colonial thing most of the time. Thus an Australian in a British Rail first class seat will be tolerated by the other passengers to an extent that a similarly dressed local could not hope for.

If we slum it down to the second-class seats it just feels like the Armadale line on a Saturday night, so there is nothing too strange about that. Actually the clothing on the passengers is pretty similar…they might be the same people.

The nice thing about the First Class seats – compartment or aisle – is that a little man or woman wheels a refreshments trolley through at intervals and you can purchase things. There is no ice for the drinks, but the tea and coffee are cold enough as it is. It’s not exactly a Bunnings sausage sizzle either, as far as food goes, but there is a certain mdf-boardiness about British Rail sandwiches anyway. I think the best analogy is the Bunbury Shell cafe after they have turned off the cabinet heaters…

Do you get there faster in First Class? No, of course not – the train arrives all together. Do you get extra comfort? Marginally. Do you get to feel like a member of the upper classes? Only if you exercise a great deal of imagination.

But it is all worth it.

The Regimental Quick March

I have just been listening to the regimental quick march of the Royal Armoured Regiment –  ” My Boy Willie ” – and find it a fine, bouncing tune. There are scores of these marches for all the regiments of the British Army, and I daresay a number of them have been adopted in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia on a brother-regiment basis.

As well, there are just as many suitable tunes in local styles used by the French, Germans, Russians, etc. All can call forth instant response from old service persons who marched to them.

But what of those of us who have never been called to the colours? Can we have regimental marches as well? I think we can – we just need to be inventive with them. Here’s a list of suggestions…

a. The Husband’s Division Of The Household Brigade…”The Slaves Chorus From Nabucco “.

b. The Teenage Regiment…” Drink Puppy Drink “.

c. The Royal Bank Regiment…” The Debt March “.

d. The 5th Mounted Motorists…any slow march you care for…

e. The Self-Funded Re-Tireurs…” Money, Money , Money “.

f. The Microsoft Technical Support Regiment of India… ” The Rogue’s March “.

g. 101st Airborne Virus Regiment…” Some Like It Hot…And Cold…And Hot…”

h. The Dental Corps…” A Bridge Too Far “.

i. Bill Clinton’s Rangers…” Yankee Doodle “.

f. The Canning Vale Lancers…”Goodness Gracious Me “.

g. Noranda Regiment…” We Are Marching From Pretoria “.

Good marching music need not be martial – good parades need not be military. Australia had a fine tradition in the 50’s and 60’s of all-girl marching societies who took part in civic celebrations and national days. Their outfits were sometimes military, and sometimes millinery. There were 30,000 of them at the peak of the craze.

30,000. That’s 30 regiments. The Australian army couldn’t have found socks for that many men in uniform, let alone rifles, food, or an enemy to shoot at. 30,000 marching girls…it sounds like Heaven from this point in time.

Just dealing with the statistics of the thing is mind-boggling. 30,000 marching girls is 30,000 uniforms and they would all have been hand-sewed and decorated as much as possible. Given 30 buttons per uniform makes it 900,000 buttons sewed on. Plus the three that rolled under the table.

I am glad that the era has passed – I do not think that I could cope right now with the sight of 60,000 thighs flashing up and down in unison. It would be a short path to the grave. Smiling all the while, but. And I doubt that the coffin lid would fit well…

 

 

 

Sex Mad

” Sex mad ” used to be a term of disapproval. It was used to cover the behaviour of anyone who was noticeably interested in the opposite sex. Bit unfair that, as it  could also have been applied to people who were interested in others of their same sex. I think the main factor for the critics was that the person they were complaining about was more successful than they were. Not so much a case of morals as one of practical jealousy.

Why madness should be linked to sexuality puzzles me – I have always thought the pleasures of anxiety and mania should never be tainted with thoughts of the squidgy bits. And surely it is far easier to howl and tear the furniture to bits without having dress up in revealing garments. Catch a garter belt on the edge of a credenza and no telling what damage it might do…

The juxtaposition of the two words is also a little suspect – in my experience, when one or both of the partners gets mad it signals the end of sex for some time. One of the other things that signals the end is the kids banging on the door or the cat shooting out from under the bed. It’s even worse when the cat just sits under there and sniggers.

Perhaps it’s just a misunderstanding – or a misprint. Perhaps the phrase was originally meant to be ” Sex Maid ” which is kind of exciting. Or” Sex Mood “…definitely a hint of low lights and steamy jazz music there.

How about ” Sex Mud “? A specialised taste, admittedly, but these are modern times and who are we to judge. As long as you wipe your feet before you come back in the house it should be fine – what you actually wipe them on is another matter.

Of course the cynical amongst the regular subscribers of this column will snort and accuse me of including ” Sex ” in the title…and also in the search tags…in a blatant effort to boost readership. A delightful thought, but one that is not likely to be successful – the sort of internet browser that homes in on ” Sex” is unlikely to stay and read the regular fare of the page – the hot rods, toy cars, model airplanes, and Backstabbers Guild. A one-off spike is about all I could hope for. Still, when the Dashboard analysis page for WordPress shows that the highest level of searching in the past week has been for ” Lucy Lastic And the Land Of Panties ” I feel that at I can predict the tastes of at least some of the customers.

In honour of this I have put Lucy in the heading image. I know the best people.