I went to our local shopping centre this week and had a devil of a time getting out again.
After I parked and did my business, I found the lanes out of the place were largely obstructed by trailer trucks bringing in new produce, groceries, liquor and such. Lines of cars were swapping to the other side of the road and then being halted as the opposing lanes tried to squeeze between two 18-wheelers.
As a retiree I can take this sort of delay in good part – I am not in a hurry. Not so the other drivers, and it would appear that the Christmas spirit has largely evaporated…
I take it that most of this re-supply and logistics work is done at night when the car park is deserted – but that the recent holidays may have emptied the shelves ( they hope! ) and a daylight delivery was necessary. It certainly pointed out the fact that they needed more dedicated docks for the trucks that were not in the main roads.
In the end, however, I am grateful for the shops being where they are and as well stocked as they are. The fact that I can buy food and drink locally is wonderful.
How could I be happy if nothing happened? Where was the joy in that?
a. I was not being bombed or shelled by anyone. No-one hates me enough to bother with the ordnance, let alone the targeting.
b. Nothing broke. Neither the legs nor the washing machine nor the car nor the airbrush.
c. No-one stole anything from me or my house.
d. No-one sent me a bill.
e. The Facebook pests that perpetually swing their little axes in my face had other things on their minds.
f. I was not on the Freeway for morning nor afternoon rush hour. So none of the sirens were for me.
g. The cat did not put a dead rat on the doorstep.
h. I did not lose another pair of panties to the elastic monster.
This was a day full of the noticeable absence of stressful excitement. It left space for food and drink, hobby work, and writing. I would like to achieve an entire week of this boredom some day.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Court of Christmas Justice would like to welcome you to this afternoon’s execution. We have prepared a criminal for you and will be dispatching him shortly in a spectacular manner.. But let us give you some of he details of his crime before the headsman takes over.
As you know, today is Christmas Day – a festival day dedicated to kindness and good will towards all. It is also a time when good things are eaten and drunk, often to excess. Boxing day sees many a floor being vigorously scrubbed. There are traditional foods and drinks that bring happiness to all – and one of them is plum pudding with brandy sauce.
Now no-one would accuse the well-known hotel of being stingy with their celebration – they put on a magnificent buffet within their main ballroom and made sure that there was enough wine, beer, soft drink, and other goodies to fill all. There was music, Santa, attentive staff, and an atmosphere of jollity. Indeed, their dessert line was as long and as replete as anyone could ask for. And they essayed plum pudding with sauce.
I suppose we should have taken warning from the sign that referred to the beige liquid next to the pudding as ” Sauce Anaglise “… It may well have been. I have never visited Anaglise but they may slurp this stuff from tureens. The awkward part is that someone may have thought it to be brandy sauce as the English like it.
The English are a sturdy race. I admire them for this. They can stand a great deal of fire. And they like brandy sauce for their plum pudding that needs to be served with care. They are wise people.
The beige liquid, on the other hand, resembled something that you would normally consult a colour chart for. Come to think of it, a good semi-matte indoor emulsion would probably have tasted better. One would have been prepared to put on two coats.
As it is, we have determined which chef made the sauce and he is waiting in the tumbril for his march up the stairs. Those of you in the front rows may wish to cover your plates when the time comes in case he splashes. It is not so much the fear of blood as the horror of beige liquid.
And all through the house – people are scrabbling around for the last of the cello-tape and cheap wrapping paper to try to cover the presents. No-one really wants to have to go out in the 38º heat to the newsagent to get more…particularly because he knows that this is his opportunity to make a killing. Dec 26 sees a crash in the wrapping paper market but Dec 24 is premium time.
The tree has been hung with tinsel with care…no, wait, it hasn’t. That was last year and I think that effort took the wind out of this year’s sails. I, for one, am keeping grinchly quiet about it all to avoid having to dig out all the boxes of decorations. For those who give me the odd looks, I just say that I am seeking the true Christmas spirit, which redoubles the looks.
The Christmas cooking got done last week and also eaten then. We’ll get baked goods from relatives but this year we will go to a hotel for the Christmas lunch. No three weeks of increasingly dry turkey leftovers for us.
We’ve hired a portable spa for a month – we can bob round like apples in it during the worst of the hot weather and then send it way when we’re done. Not my idea, but I can see the logic of it.
The only real shopping will be the last-minute salad bits for later in the week, and the beer. My local shop claims to have hundreds of varieties of craft beer in stock and I feel it my duty to make sure that consumer law is not being flouted. I’ve made a list, but unfortunately after a dozen experiments I go to sleep.
Still, I’m ready for Santa Claus. High or low, I am determined to get him this year.
For the one person on the continent who has not seen the YouTube video of the glitter bomb parcel that punishes package thieves, we’ll suspend this column and wait…
Okay. Back again? Good wasn’t it? You really wanted it to work, didn’t you…including the fart spray?
But did you notice a few things about the thieves? Some were black and driving around in packs, but some were white, driving an expensive car around alone…but still stealing parcels. The couple out for a stroll in the neighbourhood were just getting good exercise…while they stole parcels. The constant factor for Winnetka, Illinois ( where it was filmed ) is that people steal parcels.
Here in Perth I daresay we have some parcel thieves as well – from druggies and vagrants to bored teenagers and hunter-gatherer packs from squalid suburbs. But it may be less of a problem due to less packages being left. I spoke to a friend in the courier business and he detailed some of the problems there can be in actually getting things to the doorsteps of houses that will not allow a close approach – but who still want unattended drops. Some of the recipients sound like they are not thinking the thing through.
Again, there can be some delivery firms – thankfully not the one that my friend works for – that have a cavalier attitude to actual delivery. They may skip up to the door and ring the bell, but run away without waiting for the arthritic or hard of hearing to get to the door. Then the sequence of trying to collect a parcel from some distant depot starts, and you wonder if any on-line shopping is worth the hassle.
I’m lucky, my parcels are generally delivered by a very nice Indian man who waits for me to get to the door and passes the time of day with me as we sign for things. I can feel confident that he does not leave me in the lurch. And I will have no need to develop my own glitter bomb. Though I may make up a few fart spray presents for birthdays. People do appreciate an effort…
As a weblog column writer I get a number of return contacts; spam, emails from people who admire one or other of the posts, and offers to help me increase my popularity with my readers. I do inspect each new contact, and have actually added one weblog column to my daily reading as a result of a comment, but by and large that is it.
It is not that I do not want to increase the ” traffic ” of my columns – it is just that I do not want to be writing or dancing for the audience on their terms. If that were the case I would take up Instagramming or Twittering or Facebooking on a serious basis and fire off memes like machine-gun bullets. It may sound selfish, but I write my own thoughts here…and I am happy to have you read them whenever you’ve a mind to. I can’t write yours – I am not you. And I know some of you are not you, either.
When I try to entertain I fail about as many times as I succeed – that is the fate of most Catskill comedians. The best I can hope for is that you read through to the end of any particular column – in some cases to see if I mention your name, Bill – and do not send in a complaint to your ISP about it. If you laugh or ponder it is a bonus. I will already have done so while writing it.
I do want your readership, and appreciate the likes and replies – at least the ones that do not want me to buy Viagra in an online Russian casino. If some days are less enlightening, be patient – eventually a zeppelin will crash outside the front door and I have a camera ready. In the meantime reflect that all of our lives are somewhat similar, and what happens here in Perth also happens where you live…with the possible exception of the venomous snakes coursing through the local hospital car park. We actually do have that as a real thing here on the south side of the river and it pays to look carefully when you get out of the car. Not all humorous Australian memes are just exaggerated jokes – not in the springtime.
Note: These are not kindly snakes…Google Dugite.
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.