Here Comes An Election

And I’m ready.

I have cleared space in the cake tin for Mrs DeSouza’s lemon slice and I have the cash ready. I will also save space for the Democracy Sausage ( I belong to the Fried Onion Party – Mustard Division ) because I take my federal responsibilities seriously.

Of course there will be that silly Walk Of Annoyance as you approach the polling station and the activists of various parties try to hump your leg. I wave them away and head for the end of the line, secure in my choice before i even see if I have one. If you go early ( lemon slice early ) you need not stand there too long, but you’ll be faced with the same ballot paper no matter what.

Australian ballot papers are still actual paper – rather than a machine with levers. We are crude down here, and our savage nature generally results in a clean ballot. There have been occasions where ballot boxes have gone missing and by-elections have resulted, but we trust that heads have rolled in the electoral commission over this and are currently being displayed on pikes in Canberra. For the most part we might not get the politicians we deserve, but we do want to get the ones we have voted for.

Oh stop. I know he only got in on 19 votes and the demise of the previous Senator. And I know he has made an ass of himself in the Senate. But remember that the Speaker of the Senate is Darryn Hinch and if that doesn’t show the true nature of the body, nothing will. I’m glad we don’t have Daryl Somers or Agro there in his place. Yet.

So, there we’ll be at the local school with our ballot paper and tiny pencil in hand. Due to the nature of the democratic process in Australia the paper will be roughly the size of a tarpaulin ute cover. It will contain names we have never heard of before representing parties that make us feel vaguely dirty. We will marvel that people would come out in public and espouse the rubbish that we see on the paper.

Never mind. Number them backward from the most objectionable/flaccid/hilarious to the ones that actually might be competent. If you cannot bring yourself to vote for anyone treat yourself to a 5-minute session of blighting someone’s hopes forever. You are unlikely  to ever meet them in person but you can make their deposit vanish.

Advertisements

The Permanent Playroom

Or how to live happily ever vs clean up after.

I live a life between two premises. Not the premise that I am a reasonable gentleman nor the one that sees me a slavering monster. Those are mere assumptions, and miraculous ones at that. No, I mean I live my life in two houses – my sleeping residence and my playroom.

The playroom is officially a suburban residence and/or photo studio. I inherited it and hope to pass it on one day. While I am in possession, it serves as a photo studio, entertainment venue, and repository for my scale model collections. It is a simple structure but well suited to the purpose. It also has the distinct advantage that it is far enough away that I need to put on a coat to go there. I can make it a destination that seems like a workplace, even if I have no work to do.

Every person needs something like this – even if it is only a secure spot at the local library or men’s shed/CWA/sniper pit. You must get away from your sleeping quarters to do your duty. You’ll be back there soon enough at the end of a hard day and if you can go away you’ll appreciate the sack all the more.

Some people are denied this – they are bed-ridden or restricted by circumstance to one small area for life. It can be the equivalent of a non-parole period for the innocent. For all of us who can at least go to the shops and bruise the tomatoes, no day need be a sentence.

The thing I like best about my playroom is that I do not need to put away my toys at dinner time. I can lock the door, set the alarm, cock the spring gun, and then just carry on to my sleeping quarters. If I am lucky there is a delicious home – cooked meal ready for me when I get there…because I put it in the crockpot earlier in the day. Ya hafta be realistic about some things in life…

Waiting On Someone To Deliver Something

As opposed to going and getting it yourself.

If there is any way humanly possible, elect to do the latter rather than the former. Because no matter how time-consuming, difficult, or expensive it may be to do your own running around, it is far better than letting someone run you around. And vice versa.

Waiting for a grocery delivery – whether it is Coles or UNESCO, and whether they use a Toyota van or a C-130 – is the pits. You are stuck in one place at the mercy of whatever happens – a delay or a miscalculation means you’ll lose the chance to do anything but sit there. If you decide to sneak off for a crafty kip or crap, that’ll be the exact time the delivery comes. Sometimes the delivery personnel wll be helpful by stacking the ice cream tubs in the sun and sometimes they’ll just beetle off back to the depot and clock off for the day.

On the other side of the steering wheel, I have often been amazed at the trouble that my friend the courier deliveryman has in actually getting in to secure premises to deliver what they have ordered – and how many times he has been sent on wild or mild goose chases by managements that change their mind while he is on the road. He is a tower of patience but there are times when it must be a tower full of armed archers and people with vats of boiling oil…

I will give the food retailers some praise – the goods that arrive are fresh and appetizing, and there have been very few invoices that are short of the mark. Indeed there have been double-ups on some items and the retailer just writes this off as good will. Mind you, when they send you double antacid tablets it makes you a bit leery of the rest of the groceries, eh?

Just A Phase

I often wonder how many phases I went through as a child and youth that my parents endured…with suffering. I hope not many, as I wouldn’t like to think I was guilty of making their lives hard. But there must have been a few.

The phase of hunger, for example. I remember being in the 9th grade and discovering a hunger for sesame-seed bread. They made standard white loaves of it that you could toast and smear with butter. On a cold night in Canada I think I was able to deplete the pantry in an hour – leaving my mother exasperated when she found the empty bread wrapper. My excuse of ” I just had a few pieces ” was belied by the plastic bag containing nothing but stray seeds.

Girls? I remember a summer of puppy love in a construction site trailer court once – about the eighth grade. It might have been puppy love, but I seem to have been turned into a working dog – I did the dishes for that girl for months. Fortunately the weather turned colder and so did the affection.

Car driving? Well, I was a late starter for driver education and fortunately there was a 4WD and an empty paddock on a farm at which we wintered. I could circle it without hitting anything. It made my subsequent driver training here in Western Australia much easier, though it cured me of any desire for 4WD vehicles or paddocks.

Thankfully, I can look back and not have to feel too guilty. I was never a junior Marxist, nor skinhead, nor religious convert. That was a close-run thing when the Baptists got hold of me, but I moved off to yet another boarding school in time before I was dunked. I never shot anybody, and the creatures I did shoot were cooked and eaten. None of my massive robberies, embezzlement, and frauds were ever detected.

And thankfully that was just a phase…

Sobering Up and Behaving Properly

I seem to be in the sights of a number of organisations that wish me to obey them. Not just the police and taxation office – now it is the nutritionists, dietitians, and moral reformers. They have selected my home as their target for tonight and I can hear the rumble of bomber engines every time I turn on the internet.

To be fair, I invite this attack myself by clicking on Facebook. It is the equivalent of turning on all the house lights and throwing back the curtains on a moonless night.

I was told to give up alcohol for January – with the promise that it would make my life better. There was a clear inference that if I continued abstinence through the following eleven months I should become a healthy and sane individual. They did not feature a picture of Carrie Nation and her hatchet  on the internet, but I’ll bet they were tempted.

I am also to abstain from all meat, milk, eggs, and other non-vegan foods. This is not being sold to me for my health, but on moral grounds. The pictures used to scold me away from meat are actually worse than those of Carrie in her bonnet.

Occasionally I am warned away from fluoride in my drinking water, soft drinks, natural gas, vaccines, Chinese people, and anything else of which an internet poster does not approve.

Of course, I am always forbidden to approve of the American president, local politicians, Australia Day, horse races, and many more hitherto innocuous subjects. This list grows yearly and is the subject of some cynical betting as to what will be next. Note: 50 years ago I was scolded for using an aluminium cooking pot, which was pretty bizarre at the time…I had no idea the internet would bring so many more sins to light.

I do not resent the posts – they are evidence that people think of my welfare and want the best for me. Of course, this benevolence is not a one-way street. They do expect something in return. If it is not donation of money, it is assistance in promoting Their Glorious Cause. I’m only sorry that heretofore I have not done so…but I fully intend to go to their next torchlight rally at the sports stadium. I like the searchlights and the marching bands…

To Cook The Dinner You Must Be The Dinner

Professional food people – chefs, fry cooks, army chow sergeants – can cook anything at any time, whether they want to do it or not. That is a trait shared with other professionals – the ability to do a job in spite of everything. Amateurs can barely do it when conditions are perfect – pros can do it under fire. I know – I used to be a professional in a profession and I could indeed do the dance.

But back to food – the amateur cook may be feeding themselves alone or may be doing it for the family as well. There may be good facilities or bad ones – lots of ingredients or very few – but there is one thing absolutely necessary for success. The person making the food must want the food.

Not just want it to succeed or look good or taste good for others. They must want to eat it themselves. If they commit to that, they can do it.

Take a simple fried egg…possibly the most complex food known to man. Escoffier deeply feared eggs. Brillat-Savarin would never allow one to cross the road in front of him. And I have heard it said that eggs swear at Gordon Ramsay…

To make a fried egg you need an egg. And heat. And something that prevents the egg, while frying, from adhering to the hot surface. The egg should be fairly fresh – it need not be warm from the chook’s bum, but likewise do not attempt to cook it if it is already pecking at the toast crumbs on the floor. You can check for freshness by floating an egg in a container of benzene, but do not light a match while you are doing it.

The non-stick frying pans work well while the coating is new but become egg-traps as they wear in. Generally you can figure that when the egg slips around and fries with no grease whatsoever, it is because the coating is new and dinner will taste like Love Canal. When the nerve agents and dead cat extract that comprise the non-stick coating wear off the eggs will taste better but you’ll need to get them out of the pan with a wood chisel.

Spray-can release agent is fine and helps many people to make fibreglass canoes from moulds. They can also be used to free that egg.

I favour bacon grease that is leftover from cooking in the pan just before you crack the egg. It’ll let the egg slide about at a certain point and then you can capture it with the egg-slice and get it onto the toast. Best trick of all is the non-stick pan that has tall, heavy sides and bottom, and can be heated in an oven with a griller element above it. You heat the pan, cook the bacon, transfer this to a warmed dish, and then crack the eggs into the hot fat.

Pop it back under the grill and the eggs cook from both sides in half the time. No more slimeys. No more sticking.

Another New Year Dawns

Is this one the Ukrainians? Or the Doukhobors? Or the Irish?

No, wait – this one’s the Chinese. Apparently we are about to hit the Year Of The Pig.

Ah, good old Chinese. They have the right idea. Declare a new year that is named after something you can eat. Pig, rabbit, rooster, snake, etc. Not so sure I fancy rat or dragon, but someone somewhere is tossing them in flour and heating a wok. In any case it makes a very practical way to characterise a celebration.

Not so the various UN and other intellectual organisations who declare Years Of The Fashionably Oppressed or Years Of The Ousted Government. If they were to declare the Year Of Paying Their Rent or Year Of Removing Tribal Leaders As Presidents For Life it might lead to more celebrations. If they could persuade the Chinese to declare a Year Of Eating The Presidents For Life they might get somewhere…but you’d need an awful lot of hoi sin sauce…

I shall avoid the dragons and the drums this year, but not the buffet. I may not be a good chopstick eater but I can manage some dishes without flinging chunks past the other diners or stabbing myself in the eye. I shall throw salad at the ceiling, however…