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?

 

 

Advertisements

A Source Of Pride And Comfort

Looking for something in your life that you can be proud of and that can console you for the little heartaches can be difficult – it is hard to judge things that have no measurable number. You can tot up your score in Bridge or at a firing range, but it is hard to post a personal best in contentment.

Still, I have to say I am feeling good about my recent activities on Facebook…

a. I cancelled out a dozen suggested posts and advertisements without telling the auto-bot why. This means I am still a vague target. Oh, it won’t stop the cycle from happening again, and there will be a new spate of probing shots, but they will all fall dead to the ground.

Moral? Tell ’em nothing, ask ’em nothing.

b. I allowed a most foolish posting from a most foolish friend to pass with no reaction – realising that it was nothing more than a product of extraneous time squeezed through a limited imagination. When things get busy for them, this sort of thing dries up.

c. I ignored the coarsest of political re-posts. Why comment on a third-hand thought that was no good to start with? One would not pick up a discarded half-chewed sandwich from the gutter for any purpose, so why do it with anything else?

d. I refrained from showing wounds, prizes, precocious children, or pets. There was a brief temptation to include a video of a working digestion system but I resisted. If people want to look at that sort of thing they can get a bowl of soup and a mirror and make their own experiments.

e. I refrained from mysticism…because the spirits told me so.

f. I didn’t not correct no-one’s grammar or spelinge.

g. I went to bed at a reasonable hour. Drunk, mind, but in my own bed. Well, it’s a start, isn’t it? I’ll change the sheets tomorrow. Before they set solid.

 

 

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.

 

Trying To Be Plain, Without Being Simple

I have come a little late to realise that I am plain bun. Possibly with one sultana in it, and occasionally a bit of jam…but a simple bun nevertheless. For an awful long time I pretended to be fancy pastry.

Do we all do this in our youth and early adulthood? Do we dress, drive, and do far more than we need to? Do we try to live to a fancier standard than we are really able to sustain? Do we intend to fool others and end up fooling ourselves? I fear this has been the case for me.

It was the access to ready money – derived from a secure professional job – that made it easy to attain more and fancier goods than were strictly required. In its turn this produced fancier internal visions which demanded more goods…and the cycle went on and on.

Occasionally there was a hiccup – when tax time revealed that I was not the high-flyer I imagined. But the taxes were paid, goods accumulated, activities ongoing at the time smoothed over the unease, and there was always something new to do. And new things could keep the money flow going.

Eventually, however, retirement reduced the spending river to a small rivulet, and eventually it became time to close down the luxury mills or take up train robbing to pay for them. I have chosen the former, rather than the latter, though the idea of a pistol and a mask is still attractive. The wonderful side effect is to discover – as the first paragraph states, that I have simpler tastes than I suspected.

My hobby pursuits do not see me wearing $ 1500 clothes, $1500 away from home. My dinners cost well under $ 10. I play happily on $ 20 a week and am never bored. And I do not have a debt that lasts longer than a month.

The life of a plain bun can be just as nourishing as anything the patisserie can supply.

It’s Not A Blog…

It’s a weblog column. Something that comes out regularly and has a complete set of thoughts in it. My thoughts.

It is not a poem, though there have been times when I’ve written it in poetry.

It’s not a novel. Nothing novel at all. Indeed, there are some very old things in it.

It’s not a connected story – it bounces around as new things are discovered. People say things in the street that eventually become columns here. Wait until you read ” Hey! Bring back my purse! Police! Police! “. ( Good purse but there was nothing of much value in there. Still, it goes with my tan shoes.)

It’s not a rant. One of my columns is a commercial one advertising for a shop and the IT specialist who set it up characterized it in the sidebar as a ” rant “. That actually offends me, but since they do nothing to remedy the situation I merely raise my rates for the jobs I am asked to do. The extra money assuages my injured soul.

So what is it? This one’s a daily essay based upon observation and humour. One of the others is a similar thing devoted to photographic matters – a third revolves around scale models and toys of all sorts. I am happily long retired from my first profession and need not write about teeth and jaws.

Who are my readers? You, for one. And many more, though I cannot exactly figure out how many are constant. I suspect many of the ones that notify me that they like a certain post are using their own weblogs as commercial enterprises and may have automatic programs to throw out electronic grappling hooks. I don’t mind – I do read their connection emails  at least once and have actually added four of them to my daily reading. A couple more seem to have dried up – I mourn that as they had interesting things to read.

Why do I write these columns?

a. It lets me speak freely. That’s not possible on many social media platforms.

b. It lets me crystallize thoughts and memories. If I remember it, I write it, and vice versa. At 70, any mental agility is welcome.

c. I can debunk the myths I have invented for myself and finally be a plain person. That’s hard – even the Amish have to work like devils to be angelic. I need to look at me, and reading what I write helps me to do it. Unfortunately I find others looking over my shoulder and I am aware that no admission ever really vanishes from the internet. But as long as the authorities do not find out about the incident with the chicken necks and the tax inspector I should be fine.

d. It lets me play a part that real life would condemn. The Backstabbers Guild of Australia is a wonderful haven of vile behaviour. The BGA doesn’t have a Speaker of the Senate or a Pauline, but we do have horrid practices nevertheless.

 

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.

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.