Please Undress In The Cubicle

And present yourself once you are ready.

There seems to be a great deal of fuss made about romance, love, and sex these days that is somewhat superfluous. Not that the subject is not delightful and horrid in equal parts, but the set of rituals that have developed around it are becoming increasingly strange.

Once it was simple. Arrive at puberty, find someone else also at that stage and contract a marriage. Gain permission to live together from whatever relatives were handy, pay a small fee to the local priest for magic words, and start living together. Some societies just did the pairing up for you – you were married to whoever the relatives or ruler said you would marry and that was the end of it.

Now you need to meet, fall in love, romance each other, inspect the goods, try the mechanism, and get a lawyer to draw up deeds specifying who gets the cat if you divorce. This is time-consuming, tedious, expensive, and no-one ever asks the cats’ opinion.

If you decide to skip the legal bit you’ll be presented with it later – and neither side will be happy with the division of anything. Dividing the cat will be the most distressing aspect, not least to the cat.

There must be an easier way. Of course fundamentalist societies revert to Plan A and then fight it out from there on. Hippy societies have no plan, and still fight it out, but with a messier result. We need the intervention of the Vulcans and their logic to solve the problems.

I propose that before the ship of eternal marriage sets sail, the local authorities inspect the lifeboats. There must be an adequate provision for alternate lovers and/or spouses before the first lot are wed. It should be simple to draw up a list of secondary and tertiary partners to whom the prospective lovers will be sent in case of a breakup. If these individuals are taken up in the meantime suitable alternatives must be inserted into their planned marriage contracts. That way there is no uncertainty about where the affections will be directed or the infections  contracted.


” Tell Me A Blatant Lie! “

” You want a Blatant Lie? You can’t handle a Blatant Lie ! ”

I may have nodded off there during the Tom Cruise movie but you get the main idea. Truth-telling is rife in the courts and something needs to be done about it. Magistrates need to be given the power to have people who tell the truth locked up until they can come up with a better one.

I, myself, find it is wise to be economical with the truth. By all means have a store of it to hand but deal it out in very small quantities and be careful to whom it is told. It can have a very long half-life and be dangerous for decades.

At the same time do not be cynical when others tell you their truths, or half truths, or fibs, or lies, or campaign promises. You can laugh sardonically at protestations of love – as long as they do not require blood tests you are safe. But treat everything else with gentle amusement and a kindly smile. And make sure that you take the time to write down the pertinent details for later checking. You never can tell when someone will let a really valuable piece of information out inadvertently and you’ll kick yourself if you can’t cash in on it in a few years time. A cross-indexed file is the most valuable part of the furniture in your lair.

Some truths are self-evident – these are mostly the ones that concern gravity and red-hot objects. These bits of information are hard to deny or ignore, forcing themselves upon you as suddenly as they do.

Oddly enough, some lies are equally clear. Catching your significant other in flagrante delicto  with someone who isn’t you means you won’t have to pretend to believe the story – not while the flurry of shrieking and zipping is taking place in any case. No need to suspend judgement.

The funny little ones in the middle that might be true or might not are the awkward part of the business. If you can suspect someone, do so – most times you’ll be right. If they are proved innocent it will be a lovely surprise and you can all sit round the rack laughing at your suspicions. Otherwise you’re in a convenient position to give the wheel another turn.

Re Tales – Part Eight – Essential Or Luxury?

Which to sell – essential goods or luxury ones?

Aye, there’s the rub – and it’s either with a velvet glove or a bastard file. You choose which division of commerce you think will be likeliest to pay and go with that. If you are right you  rake in the cash and if you are wrong you rake leaves in the park.

Essential items are food, water, clothing, shelter, medical treatment, and security. Thus we see sellers of prepackaged truffles, designer water, silk underwear, bespoke serviced appartments, day facelift spas, and bouncers doing very well indeed.

Luxury items are every blessed thing else. And not every venture selling these succeeds. However, when they do take off – the camera shop or the hobby shop come to mind – the sky is the limit. People will stint themselves of luxuries to buy essentials but that is called skimping and saving pennies – when it is the other way it works with hundreds and thousand of dollars. The trick of retailing is to be where the money ends up – not where it starts.

Re Tales – Part Three – ” I Saw It On A Website. “

In the good old days ( Elvis, dinosaurs) the potential customer would have come in and said ” I saw it in the newspaper. ” or ” I saw it in a magazine. “. Occasionally the special ones fronted the counter and said ” I saw it written in letters of fire in the sky. “. It paid to not doubt them.

Now it is  ” I saw it on the internet. ” What they saw may have been an announcement of a new product or the discontinuation of an old one. Or a recall of exploding bed socks. Whatever, they’ve come into the shop with knowledge of something. The knowledge is valuable to them and it might be so for the shop assistant as well.

If the thing they saw was on the website of the shop where they are, the shop assistant can pray silently that the website had the correct price, image, and stock level for the goods. And that the thing that was shown is still somewhere on the premises.  Even if it is holding the loo door open, at least it exists. Unfortunately there is a gap between what the best IT department can show and what can be plonked on the counter.

If the thing they saw was on another shop’s site all hell could break loose – particularly if the ” shop ” is some vague web address in Kowloon. The customer has taken the internet information as the word of God and any attempt on the part of the shop assistant to explain that it is unrealistic here in Australia will fall on deaf ears.

Unfortunately deaf ears are sometimes attached to loud mouths and angry tempers. These are fine, as long as they can be confined within the head of the customer. Like road rage, let someone else experience it.

No shop assistant is required by any law – of God, the land, economics, or thermodynamics – to match any price that is waved at them from a mobile phone screen. That may or may not be a real offer from a real seller, but it is not a seller who is paying rent on the premises, wages to the staff, or buying paper for the shop loo. The shop price should be fair and calculated to give adequate return to the proprietor for the effort of business – it is most often just that, and any attempt to oyster-knife discounts based on a badly-spelled website can best be referred back to Kowloon.

Or Wuhan.

Good Drinking, 99…

If you are going to drink, you need to do it cleverly, lest it overwhelm you. This is bad, though not as bad as drinking and finding that it underwhelms you. Once you lose the taste for anything the world turns a little greyer.

As you get older – older than 19 years – you’ll discover that there are better things to drink than Porphyry Pearl. There are better things to drink than Fosters. But be careful where you search for alternatives – the gardening aisle in Bunnings is not recommended.

Someone once said that you should only drink the finest liquors. As these are the most expensive ones, I suspect the person giving the advice was in the pay of the brewery or distillery. Of course you can drink the lesser liquids. They are as much a vehicle for the ethanol as the pricier ones, and often approximate them so closely that you begin to suspect that the vat has two spigots – only one of them has to pass by the accounting department before it gets to you.

If you drink good wine, drink it slowly and savour it. You will never become a drunk, as the wine is too expensive and you will be too slow.

This also applies if the wine is the cheapest and sourest vin ordinaire. Drink it slowly to avoid the taste. You’ll be just as sober and not so out of pocket.

It’s only the middle ground vintages that are dangerous. You can afford enough to drink them fast and they will overtake you on the road and hit you with a short club.

Finally, do not be surprised at anything that happens to you while you are drinking. You may fall in love or lust – you may see the vile nature of your desires – you may have a brilliant idea for losing money. None of these emotions or thoughts came from the alcohol – it merely dissolves the paint coating over them and allows you to see them. They are in you all the time.

The WordPress Gang

That joke works on several levels.

If you didn’t get it, here’s a tankard of ale and don’t forget to look into the bottom and see what’s down there… pick it up and peer at it…God Bless The King, and stand up straight, you horrible little man…

The WordPress organisation is a marvellous thing. I wish to praise them unreservedly. Before their activity commenced I would have been stifled. Silenced. Prevented from publishing every stray thought that enters my head and leaves by my fingertips. You would have never known how clever I think myself, and neither would I.

As it is, I can launch these guided missives every day at no cost. Few will see them, fewer care – but the very act of putting the ideas down on the screen does good. In these viral lockdown times, more good than you would think.

I live in a bubble of self. You may do too, and I do not judge you for it. But we need to contact other bubbles. In some case we can pop and merge – in others just bounce off each other. No matter which…as long as we can say our piece, state our case, tell our truth…we can stay sane. Others who read what we write may be pitched over the brink of madness, but you get that with most hobbies.

Your Government Grant Is Ready

He’s right there at Appomattox Court House. Just waiting for you. General? General Lee? Are you going to get out of bed? General ?

Well that was probably the last US government Grant that did any good at all – though poor old R.E. was probably not in a good mood to be getting one.

I’m more sanguine. The feds and the state government seem to be showering the coins down just at present. Adding together the factors of my low income, age, and health care card seems to have opened up the coffers somewhat. I won’t get paid for not being at work because I am not employed anyway, but they threw $ 750 at me, then another $ 100 or so every so often to ease the rates or the water or other utilities.

This is good, as I do not propose to go travelling or buy expensive motor cars or caravans. I eat regularly and well, but I cook regularly and well, too. There’s a link there that I intend to foster. As far as purchasing expensive clothing with the money…well I have a closet and a wardrobe full of expensive clothing that never gets worn. Even the pile of cheap underwear and socks has not diminished – so the economic stimulus will likely go to groceries.

Is the household doing poorly? No, it’s not. It’s warm, cosy, fed, watered, and entertained. The local library sent a mystery book hamper that is being read through and these are apparently available as many times as we ask. Don’t mind if I do. The beer fridge is full.

I shall watch the account to see if further amounts arrive.

The Haircut

I’ve just been for another Mickey Spillane haircut – the first venture into a barber’s for several months.

There was no sitting down in waiting room chairs – they taped them off. I picked a time when I could walk straight in and be seated in the cutting chair. The prescription was easy, now that I know it; N0.1 comb at the side, N0.2 on top, and chase the eyebrows and ears until they are run to ground.

It will be a further 2 months before I need shearing again. I have not got the courage to do it myself, but if I ever do work that up…

The Biscuit Scale

You can tell what the state of the economy/world/universe is by the biscuits in the local shops. Never mind carbon dating and astro-physics – these are mere whims. Biscuits* tell the truth.

The current viral panic has led to a number of changes in the grocery store. No toilet paper, socially distant markers on the floor, and different biscuits. I’m not so sure about the first two things, but I’m red-hot on the biscuits.

Let me explain this by making it into an open letter to the grocery store. Sirs…,

a. I do not need biscuits than cost $ 7.00 a packet, any more than I need $ 15 bespoke cups of coffee. These may be superb things, sourced from El Dorado and conveyed to me by limousines, but at that price I am not going to dunk anything in anything.

b. Equally, I do not need Milk Arrowroot or Nice or Wheat Thins biscuits. No-one does, with the possible exception of medieval torturers or people who need to replace the filter on their vacuum cleaner.

These are not biscuits. They are impositions. Jokes played upon the masses. Disgusting objects. Save your shelf space.

c. Chocolate biscuits are very pleasant but you must distinguish between real chocolate and brown industrial sludge. By all means spread the first about as far as you like, but avoid the second like poison. We buyers will, and you’ll be the loser.

d. You can make composite biscuits by layering anything.

e. $ 2.00 packets of biscuits will sell, even if they are made of sawdust and horse dung.

f. National biscuits will sell better than imported ones in the future as we become more used to checking out where food comes from. If the RSL tries to muscle you over a copyright on Anzac biscuits just call them something else. Don’t take it personal – it’s just South Chicago in the biscuit aisle.

g. Once a biscuit gets over 10cm in diameter or 3 cm in height it is a cake. Still delicious, possibly, but not the sort of thing that you can balance on a saucer. Dunking invites dry cleaning.

h. There is, to a certain extent, an inverse ratio between the taste of the biscuit and the amount of advertising on the packet. The introduction of supermarket-brand stock may upset this, but you only have to buy one packet to find out the truth.

*  Cookies for the North Americans.


I Sit Aghast

No point in standing aghast if you can be comfortable. Ghasting takes a lot out of you.

I went for a shop run today to buy essential supplies – no-one can fault me for that. The essential supplies were Easter eggs and petrol. We do an exciting annual ritual with chocolate molotov cocktails here in Bull Creek and this year will be no exception. Won’t the neighbours be surprised!

Well, no more surprised than I was when I called in to the local BP petrol station. 91 octane unleaded petrol is now 89 cents per litre. Two months ago it was at $ 1.49 for that same measure. I topped up the tank for less than $ 15.00. ( The petrol actually cost me nothing – I am running out a free gift voucher from my former bank and haven’t spent cash for two months. )

I was delighted, but it does make me think that we are being run through the wringer in normal times – if the station can deal in 89 cent petrol now.

It wasn’t all frugal joy, however. There were plenty of chocolate eggs in the shop but from the prices, it looks like Cadbury has joined OPEC.