The Backstabbers Guild Guide To Visiting

Visiting during the holiday period is a tradition with many people. So are torpedo attacks if your family grew up in the Kreigsmarine. What the Guild wants to do is to make sure that if you are going to visit, your victim will go to the bottom in the swiftest manner:

a. Do not call ahead, but make sure that you have as many co-visitors with you as possible. Dress well, and warmly, and carry what look like expensive presents*. It is harder to turn a large group of people away than a small one, as the Germans found out on D-Day.

b. When you gain access to the premises – also known as breaching the walls – be hearty. Be loud. Be exuberant. This is a perfect cloak for someone in the crowd of visitors to rifle through to presents under the tree. A package slitter is a good thing to carry.

c. Make sure that your host is aware that you are thirsty and hungry. And not for just a cup of tea and a biscuit. This is the holidays. Unless they are prepared to put out a complete dinner with turkey, nuts, and crackers, they will appear to be Scrooge. It is a nice touch to carry a small crippled child who can call out ” God bless us one and all ” as you go through the refrigerator and pantry.

d. When it comes time to exchange gifts, have your gift assessor examine the goods closely before you let go of yours. Portable x-ray machines can sort out the difference between socks and Rolex watches.

e. Be ” Genuine “. Nothing beats genuine. Jesse James was one of the most genuine people you could ever meet.

f. Remember that it is the thought that counts, unless you are having the sort of thoughts that Harvey Weinstein used to have. Then only DNA evidence will stand up in court.

g. Be kind to the little children. Be civil to the slightly older ones. By the time they are 14 you can be downright rude. It will fit their frame of mind perfectly.

h. Good visitors curtail their stay before they become a nuisance. Now think – whose column are you reading? Is a Backstabbers Guild Of Australia member going to leave before all the food is gone and the bathroom drains are clogged? Of course not. When you visit  you VISIT…

Some people can stay visited for years.

*  Which you may bear away to your next port of call.

 

 

 

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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?

 

 

Wall, Hush Mah Mouf…

There have been times when I’ve said the wrong thing to the wrong people. Awkward times. Angry times. Times I do not wish to relive. So I have learned to keep my big mouth shut.

It has not been easy. the muscles that open the jaw and activate the vocal chords and tongue are linked to the portion of the brain that is known scientifically as the wizzbango cortex. Any stimulation of the cortex by listening to rubbish leads to an immediate release of a smart aleck remark. It moves down the neural pathways to the organs of speech and then escapes the lips. It’s generally done at a speed and volume that prevents it from being captured before it reaches the ears of the aforementioned wrong people.

I called upon a neuro surgeon who performed an operation on me to sever the connection between the cortex and the lower neck region. It has healed well and I can now stand in a cocktail party and listen to people who have never been further away than Bunbury tell me all about what is wrong with Washington. I can be told how colloidal silver and Bitcoin will save the world. I can listen to complaints about the onions in a Bunnings bun…

I blessed the surgeon and his skill last week at a festive dinner when I sat next to a very nice young millenial man who was just finishing some sort of complex degree in psychology . He told us how he will be accepted into the military as an officer and start counselling SAS soldiers about how to reform their lives. Had I not had the operation, the only way I could have prevented myself from disgrace would have been to stuff bread rolls and napkins in my mouth until no sound escaped. As it was, I did get up and go for a jimmy, but I’m afraid I started laughing mid-pee and splashed a bit.

My next trial will at the early Christmas dinner with the wife’s relatives. Fortunately they make good potatoes and you can cram them in during moments of crisis. I’ll carry a Bunnings bun in case I get caught out away from the table.

Well That Explains The Noise And The Smell…

Do you have a desire to be noticed by your colleagues and friends? Are you unsure whether or not you have any personal qualities that would warrant this interest? Well, you’ve come the the right place; the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia can outfit you with startling mannerisms, appearance, and theatrical routines – you’ll be the centre of attention in no time.

Now we’ve all had the experience of going to a party where everyone else is discussing topics with which we are totally unfamiliar. It need not be intellectual, either – you can be out of place in a group of people playing a Japanese children’s game, with the only way of coping being bright and brittle and drinking a lot. The social consequences are never good. But take heart – even in the most foreign of cultures the BGA can make you the hit of the evening. All you need to do is remember the motto – Stand Out, Stand Forth, and Stand On Their Toes.

No-one needs an ally in a conversation – no-one needs agreement. No-one wants to be stuck with ignoring the syncophant in the room…The adroit BGA conversationalist makes sure that they do not agree with whatever is being said, and the more experienced Guild members arrange for this to be known before the conversation. They lay down a barrage of disapproval before anyone else can fire a question.

Are you in a mess of millennials? Espouse Donald Trump as your companion animal. Is most of the crowd dressed in flannies and drinking VB? Start up a cheer wave for Wahleed Ali and Lee Lin Chin. Are people complaining about the onions at Bunnings? Demand they sign a vegan petition to have buns banned. You need do no more to become the star of the evening.

If you are in family gathering you need not go to politics or religion to draw the limelight. Every family has a history of an Aunt Olive or Uncle George somewhere and you can be sure that the opinion is evenly divided as to whether they should be canonized or burnt. A really skilled Guild operative can antagonise both sides with one fleeting reference.

But what if you are afraid of the consequences? Of being socially ostracized or cut out of the will or hounded for money? Do not be concerned – a good Guild member will always have one innocent-sounding question that can be asked of anyone – see our section on family secrets and suppressed court orders – that will ensure silence and sweating. Remember to smile and show as many teeth as you can.

How Many For Dinner?

A simple question, but there is room for pain and suffering between every word.

a. ” Don’t know “. Shall I cook for four or one? Because it does make a difference in the amount of ingredients committed to the pan.

b. ” I’ll be working late”. Well that means you’ll either be eating late or elsewhere or not at all. Shall I cook a soup that can set or a quiche that will not?

c. “I’ll let you know “. If I am going to cook something slow, complex, or hazardous, tell me early in the piece. If you wait until 5:30 for 6:00 you will be getting scrambled eggs on toast. If you tell me at 6:00 neither the eggs nor the toast will be cooked…

d. ” We were going out but we changed our mind “. Oh good. Let me do the mathematics of dividing a two-person dinner, perfectly cooked, into a four-person snack.

e. ” I brought people home “. Good – you divide your guests into the ones who are to be eaten and the ones who get to eat. Let me know and I’ll stoke the oven.

f. ” I decided that I am not hungry “. The leftover pot grows fatter.

The Assumption Of Social Media

It happened again today. I sat down in my lounge room with a friend and had a conversation. The computer was off and I made no typographical errors. Both he and I seemed to be making intelligent statements and not once did we break out into a political meme or a picture of a cat. And neither of us invited the other person to play a brightly-coloured game. I’m a little creeped out at present.

Is this the start of an actual thing – this business of talking face to face and not using emojis? ( I will admit to making several emoji faces, but my friend just asked whether I had swallowed a teaspoon.

It all came about by him deciding that Facebook was eating up too much of his spare time, and by analysing the bulk of the posts and conversations…and then deciding that many of them were not as attractive or as helpful as a blank screen. And he’s not the only one – I have a regular weekly meeting with another friend ( at least I’m regular, but then fibre biscuits will do that for you ) where we do much the same thing. The topics are far-ranging and there are no advertisements to endure. So far neither of us has put the other one on time-out for a month.

Social media assumes that we want to see all that we do see. It tries by means of computer logging and recording to find out exactly what we want to look at, with no responsibility save that of the shill to provide anything else. It is the snoop and the sneak at the edges of our conversations with others – always piping up with what it hopes is a catchy phrase or picture. The click-bait scams are, quite frankly, just a form of intellectual pornography.

It assumes we are more foolish and venal than we really are. That we can be cozened into doing small useless things and that we will be willing to set these things onto other people in a chain of folly. This may seem to be annoying and insulting, but really is a valuable thing. It enables you to see who within your circle of acquaintance is gullible enough to borrow money from. Though I should be quick – by the time the click-bait advertisers get to them, they may have spent it already on lemon peelers and facelift hooks.

Like the moon landings, this experience of actual human interaction is one small step for mankind. Who knows whether it may ultimately lead to turning Facebook off altogether. Only time will tell.

The Practical Use Of Cats

This may be a short post. We have a cat and I have been trying to think why.

Oh, I know why the cat is here – for the food and warm bed, plus the opportunity to squall until it is attended to – but I am trying to list what actual use he is.

a. Mouse catching. Having watched a mouse scamper out of the pantry and run under the new stove and reflecting that said mouse has been there for months, I do not think the cat has any serious ability as a vermin exterminator. Either that, or he has a territorial agreement with the mouse.

b. Roach catching. Summer is coming and so are the big cockroaches. Oh, we bomb ’em and bait ’em and we might as well set out cocktails and little sun beds for them, for all the good the poisons do. The cat has never, to my knowledge, ever caught one.

c. Bird catching. Well, here we have a different story – you want to look carefully at the welcome mat of a morning before you step out or you may be wiping your shoe for a while. The birds are always the innocent doves. We have plenty of crows and magpies in the neighbourhood but they have big beaks and determined looks and I think the cat is a coward.

d. Hood ornament. Well, here the cat is actually good at something. Curling up on a bonnet or the back roof of a parked car. Sometimes you have to drive halfway down to the street before he deigns to get off.

e. There is no e. That is all the cat ever does.

I do not expect miracles. No thought of the cat suddenly cleaning the gutters or doing our taxes. No need asking him to read Hemingway or sail a boat. I just expect the occasional cat-like task accomplished. I would even settle for a purr and lap warming now and again, but apart from losing half my bed space to him, this doesn’t seem likely.

We may have a faulty cat. It’s not working.