Father’s Day Has Come And Gone

And there will have been many who made a spectacle of themselves thereupon. I did not, being sensible. I stayed home, visited with a friend, and completed self-assigned tasks.

I fed my family a good dinner and made sure that the rooms we live in were heated – it is a cold spring day in Australia.

I kept the magpies, crows, ibises, and dugites from the door. Of the species listed, only the dugites are friendly.

I preserved a high moral tone all day, in spite of the temptation to run amok. One day a year is small enough price to pay for being seen as virtuous and you can always compensate for it later in the week. If you are squeamish steer clear of my suburb from Wednesday on.

I did think of my own father, and my grandfathers. I have very little basis to extend my thoughts further back, but they must have been fathers all or I wouldn’t be typing this. Congratulaions and thank you, ancestors.

I’m certain that there are people who detest this day, and who probably hate Mother’s Day as well. Perhaps they extend their distaste to the various Grandparent’s or Children’s days that other cultures celebrate. This is sad, but not my problem.

And yes, I did get four new model airplane kits, a paint rack and three month’s supply of espresso coffee pods. I am delighted and will buy my own socks and hankies in the future as needed. You don’t need a lot of hankies if you’re not fussy…

The card is from the socially-distanced daughter who draws penguins. When I was her age I only drew fire…

Make Small Talk

Being a social creature is hard work for some of us. We dwell largely in isolation – in my case within a loving household – and we encounter others on a more distant basis. Hardly anyone is a mortal enemy, but by the same token, there are few extremely close friends. Most people are one or two steps removed from this core contact.

Do not be sad or disapproving of this…above all don’t regard it as unnatural. Moray eels have few drinking buddies but live perfectly adequate lives. And no-one feels bad about moray eels.

The thing is, we do venture out occasionally and we meet other people. I don’t mean in the wrong lane in the car park – this is not uncommon in a suburb with SUV’s. I mean at parties, meetings, and workplaces. We need to communicate with them but we may have lost the skill of doing it through long inattention. This Covid 19 year is particularly likely to distance us, if we are lucky.

What do we say when we do meet – 6 feet apart? The safest conversation of all is small talk. Here’s a list of topics and intros to get you going:

a. What about the weather, eh?

This will start a banal exchange that can be broken at any point if someone comes in with a plate of snacks. Feel free to ask if it’s hot enough or cold enough for you.

If you are in New Zealand substitute the word “climate ” for “weather “. Mentioning wethers in New Zealand can start a whole different conversation and you may be startled at the turns it can take – particularly if the Kiwi is the romantic type.

b. What about those Knicks, eh?

Apparently there is a basketball team called the Knickerbockers and people are interested in seeing them throw orange balls through hoops. If they were called the G-strings I could pay attention, but as it is I can throw orange balls through a hoop in the back yard myself so watching professionals do it is pointless.

Professionals in G strings would rivet the attention, mind.

c. What about that election, eh?

Well there’s always an election in the offing, no matter where you live. It may be honest and fair or not – it makes no difference  – because whoever you are talking to has the correct political opinion anyway and is either elated or incensed by the whole thing. Just wind them up, let them go, and nod sagely every 30 seconds. You will gain a reputation as an astute political expert.

Don’t get caught turning your hearing aid off.



Re Tales – Part Six – ” My Brother-In-Law “

If you have ever wondered where in the land the power of final arbitration resides – Supreme Court – High Court – Sanhedrin – Wherever – we can now enlighten you. It has nothing to do with legal bodies, scientific organisations, or social groups. The person upon whose left hand God sits is The Brother-In-Law.

Retailers have known this for years – as their customers attempt to justify anything they do by reference to The Brother-In-Law. ( Note: some fundamental religions prohibit the mention of the name. In deference to them we will use the code word TBIL. )

Whenever an item is to be demanded or a price to be gouged, TBIL is mentioned. He has done it all, seen it all, or possessed it all before…and done so at a far better price than the shop is asking. He was in last week, next week, and may be lurking behind the loo door now – the final authority upon any commercial transaction.

You don’t have what the customer wants? Why, TBIL got it just last week. It costs $ 10.00? Why TBIL got it for $ 5.00 and a free coffee. And so on.

If the customer is single or has no living family ( they all committed seppuku to avoid being invited to a family party ) there is still hope. TBIL’s International are prepared to lease a BIL for commercial purposes at a nominal fee. Or a TBIL can be accessed on-line and the resultant haggling tirade passed to the retail employee on a mobile phone.

The retailer need not feel distressed about this – after all many of them have TBIL’s of their own that can be deployed to neutralise the effect of the attack. It’s not nice to watch but you have to fight fire with fire.

Cold, Wet People In Towels

The Guild member who lives with family members is never at a loss for something to do.

Whether it is salinating the sugar bowl or coating the cat in something, there is always an amusement close at hand. None more so than with the valves.


The water valves dotted about the house. ” Gaslighting ” has a bad psychological name amongst the neurotic, but it has nothing on the correct use of water valves.

a. Person gets into shower. Turns on the hot water and lathers up. You turn on the washing machine and then get in the car and drive to Bunnings. Buy a sausage in a bun and come back in an hour.

Ask if the washing is done yet.

b. Person gets into shower. Turns on hot water and lathers up. You turn off the gas valve and blow out the pilot light. Then you turn the gas back on. It will not light.

The next five minutes of bumping and cursing will be epic. You need not do anything else as the showeree will provide all the action.

c. Person gets into shower. Turns on hot water, but is wary of what might happen. Comes out of bathroom wrapped in a towel and stares meaningfully at you. You are sitting reading a magazine.

They go back into the shower, turn on the hot water and lather up. You go out into the front yard and turn the water off. For just 45 seconds, and then you turn it on again. And go and sit down with the magazine again.

The cold, wet, angry individual in the towel who steams up the hall yelling and glaring at you can be silenced by going to the kitchen tap and turning it on – demonstrating that the water is running just fine.

After their shower they will have to cope with a towel that is already cold and wet.


A Stick With A Nail In It

How many times in your life have you realised that you are in dire need of a stick with a nail in it? Here are a noumber of instances:

a. You need to pick up rubbish from the front lawn but you have a bad back. Any bending sends flashes of pain up your spine.

Get a three foot stick with a nail in the end and go around poking at the trash. Most papers, tins, and rags will come up readily on the nail and can be bagged. Dried dog poo can be chipped into the neighbour’s swimming pool with the stick – of you don’t have a golf club handy – and if you encounter someone walking their dog and laying fresh mines on the lawn you can use the stick to discuss the situation.

b. You are in Officeworks or Bunnings or the bottle shop and some yahoo bogan insists on breaching social distancing rules and crowding your spot on the floor.



I need say no more.

c. Your brother in law brings the grandchildren with him on a visit and carefully supervises them by sitting drinking beer. You’ll need something to get them off the roof and/or out of the shed. Don’t buy an expensive child taser – just use the nail on the stick. You’ll appreciate it when it’s time to get the BIL to go home.

d. It is illegal to go closer than a metre from a cyclist in our state. This is a very sensible road rule that contributes to safety and courtesy on the roads.

Also note that as a driver you are required to keep both hands on the wheel. You’re not allowed to lean out of the window with the nail on a stick.

Be sure that you obey the law. The cyclist has a stick with a nail on it.

e. Burglars like to jump fences into your yard – particularly if your home adjoins a common sidewalk or open space. If you have a nail on a stick they will enjoy jumping back over the fence as well.



Your Emotional Laundry Is Ready For Collection

As a child in Canada I got used to the houses we lived in having a clothes drier. Not all of them did, but you could see why it was a pretty essential part of life if you didn’t have a basement with a furnace in it – you can’t hang wet laundry out on a Hills Hoist at -4º.

I loved the driers that were in the kitchens because I could play in there and get blasted by the warm air coming through the system. As the rest of the house might be heated by a furnace that sucked all the moisture out of the air, the laundry vapour was actually soothing.

These days we use the house clothes drier to supplement what can mostly be done on the line out back. Western Australia has more good drying days than not and I always figure I’m getting good value for no money by taking advantage of them. I wish I could say the same for that other staple of modern life: Facebook.

I appreciate the fact that sometimes people need to vent on Facebook. You open the page and there is a full rant about someone’s emotional grievances – whether you read it or not, at least the posting of it might have done them some good. But it gets a bit fraught when people are doing personal laundry 24/7 and running the loads through every day. You can only take so much warm, wet air with vague odours before you become  tired of it. Then you find yourself switching off or switching over. You start granting the laundry worker repeated 30-day vacations. And sometimes you just stop taking the service.

After all, you have your own wrinkles to iron out without having to scrub someone else’s life as well.

Always Rely Upon Yourself

Except when it becomes necessary to fix blame – then reach out to others.

It is as well to make a note of the characters of people you meet – both on a long-term and short-term basis. When you assess each person be fair and analytical – do not lie to yourself. Place each person accurately in their particular category.

How you choose to classify people is your own affair, but the following is a pretty sound suggesting from the BGA:

a. Honourable and resilient. These people can be trusted to do the right thing for the right reasons. Reserve them for when you need help that doesn’t ask for payment.

b. Shallow and facile. These people can be relied upon for nothing that doesn’t directly reflect upon themselves. Don’t despise them for this – you can manipulate them into many situations that others would baulk at.

c. Timid and fearful. Most useful to fasten blame upon. With only the faintest layer of guilt, they will bear away massive responsibilities.

d. Devious and untrustworthy. These people are the most loyal and open of creatures…as long as you look at what they say and listen to what they show you. They are never sincere, but that makes them predictable…and useful. Throwing them under the tram car wheels is always a pleasure.

e. Stupid and gullible. No-one is so stupid nor gullible that they cannot be a valuable member of society. Someone has to enter the darkened kitchen in the horror film and these are the people whom Nature has formed for the task. Honour them, but stay out of splatter range.

f. People exactly like yourself. You must make your mind up at the start whether you wish to mate with them or kill them outright. There is no middle ground.


Negativity Is Your Friend

Do not be bullied by Facebook contacts who post bright and shining memes every day. They are just trying to jolly you into feeling good. On the contrary – pay attention to the serious counsel of the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia. We would never lure you down the path of happiness and then abandon you smiling.

You need the bad news in your life and you need it first. It can make all the difference to whether or not you’re going to be able to recognise good news later on. Remember a spoonful of bile helps the sugar go down. And we are here to make you bilious.

Let’s take a concrete example. Suppose someone told you that a harbour cruise with business associates would promote team spirit and help you with your commitment to the family. Sounds good. Then they tell you it will be with Cousin Salvatore and Three Finger Louie Custozza and the concrete will be setting around your feet in a bucket…If they’d have mentioned the specifics of the thing first you wouldn’t have had to smile and make small talk while they tied the ropes.

Let’s face it  – good news brightens a moment but bad news works far longer.

If you want to be pessimistic yourself – either on a professional level or in the amateur league – you have all the vast resources of CNN News, the ABC, and any number of chaired academics to draw upon. You will not have heard of the academics before, but if you stand still long enough and pay them enough for appearance fees they will become a household name. They hope.

In any case we’ll all be ruined, says Hanrahan*, and we can accept this as authoritative since it has been the steady verdict since 1919. That’s a hundred years of dismal and you can’t ask fouler than that, can you…

*  North American translation – famous Australian bush poem. Go google.


Not So Much A Kept Woman…

As a preserved one.

I am not sure I have ever met a kept woman. At least none have ever admitted to the fact – and there have certainly been no receipts or account books on the table. Yet, I suspect that there may have been a few cases…

And not just kept women – kept men as well. I’m darned sure I know a couple of those. And fine fellows they are. I should welcome the chance to join their ranks, if the rest of my family would sign off on approval.

The concept of keeping someone is as old as the sexual urge. That’s what it amounts to in the end, and any nonsense about meetings of the minds and artistic muses can be blown up the chimney as so much smoke. There is a quid pro quo and if this involves fishnet stockings and champagne suppers so much the better. In some cases the ladies can wear the stockings…

Is it legal? Sometimes…if the transaction is adequately reported to the taxation department and no attempt made to disguise the cost of the stockings as a work-related expense.

Is it moral? Yes, of course. Everything is moral if you look at it the right way. Just turn your head sideways and squint.

Is it safe? Sometimes…relationships that are entered into loosely can be exited in the same way and sometimes they are more of an intersection or exchange station than a fixed establishment. Beware those arrangements that are so open as to permit anyone to enter.

Is it aesthetic? Well, that depends upon the parties involved. There have been more instances of frog princes than toad princesses, but it so much depends upon where the money is at any one time. It is rare for a frog prince to be kissed by a frog princess, and when it happens all you ever get are pollywogs.

Is it fun? We are led to believe it is, if we read the literature. But reading further may uncover the exploitative nature. This can be seen from both sides; I recommend reading Zola’s novel ” Nana ” for  a view of the thing. It has a weak ending, but a powerful mid-piece.

Can anyone join in? Well, considering that you need money or beauty, not everyone is free to participate. You may have neither, in which case you are better off finding true love or at least a consuming hobby. If you have both, you are in the cat-bird seat to command others. If you have one or the other, it can be sold advantageously.

What if true love intervenes? Well, then all bets are off. Cupid and Venus are the most fickle of influences and they can spoil lives as well as plots. ” Beware ” sounds trite, but beware…

Final advice. Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, followed by Anita Loos’ books. A man’s best friend is a dog and a gun, provided it is duck season. Couple if you must, with or without commerce, but reserve some time for rest and recuperation. And never put anything down in writing.

Some Of The Best Questions

Some of the best questions in life have a yes or no answer.

” Do you want a beer and a sandwich? ”

” Do you realise you just won a free tank of petrol? ”

” Can I have a real pony, Daddy? ”

All answerable in either the positive or negative and they put an end to speculation comfortably. Even the slightly less pleasant ” Is it true that you threw your sister-in-law under the tramcar? ” can be dealt with by telling the truth, and will bring no further harm to the poor woman.

However, as soon as you introduce a qualifier you make trouble. You may indeed want a beer and a sandwich, but you invite criticism straightaway by asking what sort of sandwiches are on offer. Even worse – if, after the list is recited, you ask if there are any other sort…your welcome is over.

Worse can become worst. If the question about the dear departed and the public transport vehicle is asked in open court by the public prosecutor, and you counter-question:

” But wasn’t that what you paid me to do? “…

All hell may break loose. Make sure you keep a copy of the receipt.