The Early Christmas Dinner

Sometimes people in Australia have a ” Christmas In July ” dinner. These are mostly migrants from the northern hemisphere who wax nostalgic about the cold weather and sitting around a fire with their hot toddy and plum pudding. That’s all very well, but they never seem to get equally maudlin about blizzards on the prairies or snow freezing on the points at Didcot.

I wonder if there is a tendency amongst Australians overseas to do a similar celebration – ¬†except do it on the hottest day of a northern summer? They could all sit round sweltering with beer and prawns. And do beach cricket…amongst the gravel and pebbles of the average English beach that should be quite an experience…

We’ve just done the rellie run to pack in a Chrissie lunch before the in-laws fly off to Broome to celebrate the 25th with other children and grandchildren. The 16th of December will now be my vote for official Christmas lunch – because spacing it out a week and a bit before the 25th means that nearly all the extraneous pressure is off.

The previous years’ trips to a coastal city 60 kilometres away was done on the freeway, but there was nothing free about it. Every vehicle in the metro area was fighting their way down south at the same time. Hour and a half, sometimes…

Today? Clear road all the way there and back. 40 minutes either way.

No last-minute fight in the grog shops or supermarket either – food was easy to get. No queues at the petrol pumps.

The family was still the family and the decorations, food, drink, and fun were still the same. Now we’ll have an easier run on the 25th and dine at a hotel buffet – again no massive cooking chore. Why did we not think of this years ago?

 

 

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Boy! I Say, Boy!

A recent Facebook conversation raised the subject of retail shopping and the interaction between customers and staff. In particular, the first greetings and subsequent conversation. As we’ve all been either a customer or a staff member at some time, we all know the sounds…and the fury.

a. ” How ya Goin’, Guys? ”

This is a fine staff greeting if you are a dignified 60+ senior sales consultant approaching elderly ladies in an up-market and elegant shop. It’ll really strike a chord with them and lead to them making many expensive purchases.

Actually, you’ll be lucky not to get the point of a parasol in your eye.

b. ” Sup, Dudes? ”

This is even better. Only this one you use on the 15-year-old customer. The fact that you are dressed in a three-piece suit of cavalry twill and look like a British Major of Guards makes the sound and words even better. The youth will not be able to equate the experience with the visual and may fall gibbering to the floor. Call the clean-up crew to aisle 4.

c. ” May I help thee, Friend? ”

In Pennsylvanian Dutch neighbourhoods this would pass unnoticed. In Perth it is noticed…but the customer may not know what to do with it. It is particularly amusing for the Asian client, as it crosses a number of cultural barriers in several directions at the same time.

Thou must be consistent with thy use of the language and are honour-bound to be kind, helpful, and cheerful whilst thee are doing it. If thou hast a full beard but a shaven upper lip the effect is particularly good. Female staff may wish to wear a poke bonnet and an apron whilst serving.

d. ** Click. Click. Snap. Snap. **

The sound of South African or South Asian fingers doing the ” Come Hither ” song. It is one of the folk-dances of their cultures – but one that the Department of Immigration has failed to confiscate from them at the airport.

In their home countries it is used to summon and ginger up the coloured servants. If the snapper is also coloured, it is used on their lower-caste compatriots. Presumably it works, and probably has a counterpart when there is a motor car involved. Horn tooting.

Here in Australia it can call forth some amazing responses on the part of shop staff. Perhaps the kindest is to waggle the forefinger in the South America ” NoNoNoNo ” gesture and simple say ” That is not done here in Australia. ” Or one can break into an impromptu flamenco dance with continued finger popping and a final ” Ole! “.

e. ” Boy! ”

Also an overseas specialty, but can be seen to cut closer to the bone and to spill more blood. It is particularly dangerous when black people are involved in the conversation on either side.

The only really effective counter is to immediately effect a Steppin Fetchit shuffle and a ” Yassuh, Boss ” accent and overplay the comic coon by about 560%. If you can do this while being an elderly white person dressed in a suit you will create a deserted zone that makes Ground Zero at Alamogordo look like an ant farm. A little soft shoe shuffle never goes amiss…

f. ” May I offer some assistance, Sir…( or Madam )? ”

Speak softly. Smile. Be courteous. Behave as a lady or a gentleman would behave. It is a position from which you need never resile.

Note: If you are a customer and respond to this treatment by being polite, kind, and courteous in return, you will discover that the transaction will be made very much to your benefit. And you will be treated extremely well on every time you return. The staff do remember.

 

 

Sex-Shaped Glasses – Sex-Tuned Ears

Wow. Just wow.

I have just read a rather funny post on Facebook by someone who’s been out Christmas shopping. For some this is fun – for some torture. I get going early and use the intervals that have few other shoppers to do my purchasing in – so my experience is positive.

The Facebook friend was commenting about the number of times she had been approached by the store staff while just standing there trying to gather her thoughts. ” Hi Guys, How Can I Help You ” being the general gist of the thing. I know her concern – I find hovering by service staff in shops and restaurants to be a disturbing thing after a while. If you went into multiple shops and had it happen everywhere…well…

” Go Away! If I want Hovering I’ll call Sikorski! ”

A little brusque, but you get the idea.

However, one of her readers took it as entirely a different posting ¬†– she complained that all the sales interaction was male-oriented…the language, you see…

I wear eyeglasses. They are not new ones, and may need fresh lenses, but they still let me see the world in a reasonable perspective. Not every human interaction is about sex. Some of the good ones are, and I treasure the memories, but some are just conversations. I’m tempted…

” Go Away! If I want Sex Arguments I’ll call Mae West! “

Reaching Out To Your Audience

As a weblog column writer I get a number of return contacts; spam, emails from people who admire one or other of the posts, and offers to help me increase my popularity with my readers. I do inspect each new contact, and have actually added one weblog column to my daily reading as a result of a comment, but by and large that is it.

It is not that I do not want to increase the ” traffic ” of my columns – it is just that I do not want to be writing or dancing for the audience on their terms. If that were the case I would take up Instagramming or Twittering or Facebooking on a serious basis and fire off memes like machine-gun bullets. It may sound selfish, but I write my own thoughts here…and I am happy to have you read them whenever you’ve a mind to. I can’t write yours – I am not you. And I know some of you are not you, either.

When I try to entertain I fail about as many times as I succeed – that is the fate of most Catskill comedians. The best I can hope for is that you read through to the end of any particular column – in some cases to see if I mention your name, Bill – and do not send in a complaint to your ISP about it. If you laugh or ponder it is a bonus. I will already have done so while writing it.

I do want your readership, and appreciate the likes and replies – at least the ones that do not want me to buy Viagra in an online Russian casino. If some days are less enlightening, be patient – eventually a zeppelin will crash outside the front door and I have a camera ready. In the meantime reflect that all of our lives are somewhat similar, and what happens here in Perth also happens where you live…with the possible exception of the venomous snakes coursing through the local hospital car park. We actually do have that as a real thing here on the south side of the river and it pays to look carefully when you get out of the car. Not all humorous Australian memes are just exaggerated jokes – not in the springtime.

Note: These are not kindly snakes…Google Dugite.

Beat The Parcel Bandits This Year

The crime of theft from the front doorsteps of Australia is on the rise – the holiday month plus the increase in on-line shopping means than more and more deliveries are being made…and more and more delivery personnel are discovering that no-one is home.

Some of them make this judgement after ringing the doorbell and knocking for 5 minutes. Some make it from the street as they drive by at 50 kph. The second types are generally Australia Post contractors who just take the parcel back to the local depot and leave it for you to seek. The ones who invest a bit of time at the front mat may to leave the goods under it or behind the potted palm and then buzz off.

Here is where the parcel thieves succeed. They trail delivery trucks until they get one of these unattended drops and then swoop on it after the courier has driven out of the street. The goods are gone and the intended recipient may have a miserable trial trying to get anyone who handled them to admit to it.

The Guild Solution to this is BGA Couriers. In our distinctive cars and vans – we have a magnetic sign that can be whacked onto the doors of any car…and as easily removed again – we drive through the suburbs until we pick up a ” trailer “. There is a list of likely suspects circulated daily and any old Commodores or Hyundai sedans with oxidized paint panels are instantly recognised.

A house is selected – preferably with an open driveway, closed garage doors, and a porch easily seen from the street.. The BGA Courier goes to the door with a temptingly large parcel. The courier seems to ring the bell, but no-one answers…so they prop the parcel in full view of the street and drive away. With a bit of luck the thief swoops, collects the bait, and is off and away.

What’s in the box? Anything we fancy. Old laundry, used, and well past saving. Commercial leaflets that have been accumulating for the last three months. Pistachio shells and glitter in an unsealed bag. Dust from the Hoover. Just anything…

After all, it is the holiday season and in this case we are far better giving than receiving.

 

Verge Collection Week – The Dance Of The Unwanted

It’s on again for young and old.

Verge collection week in our suburb and we are allowed to stack 1.5 trailer loads of hard goods on the grass near the roadway with a reasonable expectation that the council will haul it away.

Actually, the real expectation is that scruffy people in old utes and 4WD’s with cage trailers will swoop before the council workers. What they do with the stuff is a mystery, but as they haul it away we can put more out – it’s almost as if the trash takes itself out. There sometimes seems no rhyme or reason about what is picked up and what is picked over. I have seen perfectly good items rot in the rain as the week progresses while seemingly useless broken chairs are whisked away.

Are there households here in the metro area that have backyards full of verge gleanings? Do they repair them? Do they break down the goods and recycle metals or plastic or components? Is any of it economically or psychologically rewarding? Or is it just hoarding someplace new?

But of course the big question must always be: Where do the exercise machines that are left on the verge go to? And the ironing boards? Is there an ironing board graveyard? I would add another one…if we can have a hard goods and a green waste collection, can we have an intellectual verge dump. Books, tapes, CD’s, and all other sorts of media. I would be prepared to cruise the streets for that one…

The Guild Guide To Phone Scamming

A short introduction to the steam room.

a. When you ring someone, do not say anything for about 6 seconds.

b. Then cut in a background tape of the inside of a Bangladeshi underwear factory.

c. Announce that your name is Wayne O’Grady, or Anders Andreasson, or John Johnson. These are perfectly plausible to go with your heavy subcontinental accent. Avoid the use of the name Peter Sellers…

d. Say that you are from the technical division of Elfrubdhethic Solutions. If they ask you to repeat that say that you are from the technical division of Rathvictichoxz Corporation. You can cough while you do this.

e. Tell them that you have been monitoring their computer and that they have downloaded some viruses. Or solar cells for the roof. Tell them they have downloaded solar cells.

f. Tell them to go to the computer and turn it on. If you are feeling randy you can tell them to turn you on.

g. If they refuse to go to the computer threaten to have them arrested unless they buy iTunes cards. If they ask why, tell them that you will have them deported. If they still refuse tell them that you will be arriving on a sinking rowboat along with your 34 needy relatives and that you know where they live. If that doesn’t shift them, nothing will…

h. The timing of the call is all-important. Australians eat dinner at 6:00 PM. Make your call at 5:57 PM. Every day. For a month.

i. Never use the phrases ” Golly Gosh ” or ” Goodness Gracious Me “. Don’t ask why, just avoid them.

j. And the most important thing. Make your calls from an Australian mobile phone or land line phone that can be traced. It’s no good doing all this fine work and not getting credit for it.