Friday, April 30, 2010

Once more unto the beach dear friends, once more.

The sea is calm to-night,
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; -- on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The sea of faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

English beaches really are crap.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fairy Tale

Last week on TSFKA there was a quick little conversation about fairy-tales. Someone mentioned that the best ones were nice and gruesome. Maybe that was me. Anyhoo, I decided to write a fairy tale that was gruesome, just to see if I could. I wrote this in three sittings in the past week, each of about two hours, and at best it is a first draft, and at worst, a first and last draft.

It's longer than I wanted it to be, and I think there's too many words to describe things that aren't interesting, and not enough words to dcescribe things that are. But if I was to make it a story I was happy with, it would have to be much longer but I wanted to stop it where it stopped so that I could let it sink in a bit. Also, just about every sentence could be improved.

But I'm happy with the story-line (even though it didn't come out as violent as I intended).

It's hard writing a fairy-tale! Having to come up with new monsters, and names, and characters, and plot twists, and it's especially hard to write in a way a child reader may understand.

I wanted to write the word 'cunt' a lot as well but held back.

But for what it's worth, I've given it a shot, and here it is. It's 7,800 words, so if you could be bothered reading it, make a cuppa first.

If anyone does an illustration for it, they win a prize.


Austin Burnett’s Birthday Present

Austin Burnett awoke very early on Saturday, June 25 for it was the day he turned 10 years old. His mum had promised him a special present for his 10th birthday and so he awoke before even the birds did and fell out of bed, for he was made heavy with excitement.

Austin and his mother lived alone in a small hut made of mud-bricks at the edge of Fowler’s Forest, a dense woodland said to be inhabited by ghosts, ghouls and worse. But if there were ghosts, ghouls and worse in the forest, they never came to Austin’s house. It was a safe and happy home.

Austin and his Mum had little money. For breakfast everyday Austin only had butter to spread on his toast, but each and every birthday he was given a large spoonful of strawberry jam. Austin thought this was the acest birthday present any boy could ever receive, but his mum had told him that for his 10th birthday, seeing that he was becoming a young man, he would receive not only a large spoonful of strawberry jam, but an extra present as well.

He stood up beside his bed and wondered what it could be. A cup of chocolate perhaps? A raincoat – for in the rain, all had had was a square of tarpaulin? Maybe even something manly and powerful, like a soldier’s hat, or a toy truck? He could hardly stand up from all the excitement and expectation.

He wobbled to the kitchen table and sat. It was four in the morning. His Mum wasn’t awake yet. He looked out the window and watched the day rise from the dewy weeds and grasses in their backyard. Behind their yard, Fowler’s Forest also awoke and the branches of the gum trees took a morning stretch. Though it was winter, the sun arose golden and large, and the sky was bluer than the sea.

He sat there as patiently as he could until six in the morning when his Mum awoke.

“Good morning Aussie,” she said, “Happy birthday, young man.”

“Thanks Mum,” he said. He was dying to ask what his special present was, but knew that if he did he would appear greedy and impatient. A little boy can often be greedy and impatient, but now that he was ten years old and officially a young man, he believed that he should act more patiently.

His Mum cooked a piece of bread on the fire and placed it on a plate next to Austin. He spread the butter across the toast and watched it melt. His mother then went to the cupboard and brought out a small jar of strawberry jam. Austin’s stomach growled with delight, and he was worried he was going to dribble down his chin. He slowly spread the jam across his toast and the sweet smell of strawberry reached his nostrils. It smelt so beautiful that he wanted to cry, but he held back his tears of joy.

He had saved a small amount of jam on the spoon.

“Would you like to share some of my jam, Mum?” he asked. He had never thought of doing this on other birthdays.

She said, “Austin, you are the best son a mother ever could have. And by wanting to share your jam, this proves that you will be a fine young man. It may be your birthday today, but you have just made feel like it is my birthday as well.”

Austin sat proudly upright in his chair.

“Thank you anyway Aussie, but it’s your birthday, and more than anything I want to you to have all the jam.”

“Okay, Mum. Thank you,” he said, and put the last of the jam on his toast. He ate his piece of toast slowly, savouring every mouthful of the beautiful sweet spread. After he finished his toast, he sat back in his chair with a grin as wide as the house.

“Now Aussie,” said Mrs. Burnett, “You may remember I told you a while ago that I would have a special surprise for your 10th birthday.”

“Oh, yes, I do remember you saying that. Now that you mention it,” he answered, hoping his Mum wouldn’t detect his excitement.

“Well, because it’s your 10th birthday and you’re a young man, there is something I thought you should have. It’s something every 10 year old should have, but it costs a lot of money. So, while you were at school each day, I went and worked, to save up some money. On Mondays I go to Mrs McArthur’s house and trim her roses. On Tuesdays I walk the Llewellan’s white horses twelve times around the old paddock. On Wednesdays I help the magician Mr. Hall with his tricks – he cuts me in half and makes me disappear. On Thursdays I polish old Mrs. Hassett’s silver cutlery so expertly that she can see her feelings reflected in the spoons. On Fridays I cook the lumberjacks roast duck with beetroot and beer for lunch.”

“That’s incredible,” Austin said, “I never knew you went to work.”

“Well, I didn’t tell you because I wanted this to be a surprise. Here, look out the front window.”

He ran to the front window and looked into the yard. He gasped. He nearly fainted and had to hold on to the window frame so as not to fall. He could not believe what he saw!

It was a bicycle.

A shiny red bicycle.

He ran outside and marvelled at its beauty. Its wheels were thick, all the better for riding along dirt paths. The frame was bright red but the seat was shiny black and the handlebars were gleaming silver. It had a bell, three gears and a bike pump. It was the finest piece of machinery he had ever seen. Even if he was given a hundred years to design a better bike, he could not.

“I couldn’t dream a bike so grand,” said Austin, and then he turned to his Mum and said, “You never have to get me another birthday present as long as I live.”

“I’m glad you like it,” she said, “Now, I think you should go for a ride.”

“I will ride it into the forest,” said Austin.

He went into the forest every day, but only ever on foot. He couldn’t wait to see what it was like to ride along his paths at a tremendous speed, rather than slowly walking or running along them.

“Alright,” said Mrs. Burnett, “But you know the two rules.”

“Yes, Mum. Don’t go past the waterfall, and be home by lunch,” he answered.

“That’s right,” she said, smiling, for they were the only two rules he had to learn when heading into Fowler’s Forest. He was allowed to spend his time in the forest in any manner he pleased, but those two rules were never to be broken.

“Seeya Mum, and thank you, thank you, thank you,” he said as he rode the bike down their front path. His Mum gave him a final wave, proud of her young man on his new bike.

He rode to the end of their dirt street which comes to a dead-end, and down the thin path that leads people from the street and into the forest. Not that anybody ever went into the forest. Such was its reputation, people stayed away from Fowler’s Forest, but Austin, having grown up on its edges, considered it an extension of his backyard.

He rode past the ponds, filled with frogs and yabbies. He rode atop the ancient rickety bridges that weaved across the old creek from this side to that. He rode past the ‘slide’ which was nothing but a steep rocky incline covered in pine-needles. He rode past the ‘beach’, which was at an elbow of the creek with some sand on its banks.

He rode past the ‘office’ which was an old concrete pipe left there by quarrymen tens of years ago that Austin would sometimes sit inside. He rode past all these things at a breakneck speed until he came to the waterfall. It had only taken him a few minutes to get there, whereas normally it would take him half an hour if walking.

The waterfall, which was located at the end of the walking path, was little more than a trickle of water that dropped down a cliff and into the creek, but the tinkle-tinkle noise it made was very soothing, and mosses grew either side of the waterfall that were perfect cushions on which to sit for hours.

Austin gathered his breath. He was exhilarated. Riding at such a great speed, and with the winter chill in the air, his ears were frozen, his nose was running and his fingers had gone numb, but he could not remember a time in his life where he felt more excited. He sat the bike on its stand and sat himself on the moss and looked back at his bike with pride and happiness. He sat there and stared at his bike for some time, still coming to grips with the fact that it was his bike. He had often heard people say, “It took a while to sink in...” and now he knew what they meant by that.

“Is it really my bike? Is it really?” he was asking himself, and the answer was always, “Yes, it is,” but he had to keep asking himself anyway.

When he had gathered his breath, and fully accepted that the bike belonged to him, he stood up and jumped on the seat. He was about to ride back to the beach so that he could look at the bike in a different spot when he noticed the hole in the cliff-face, a little to the left of the waterfall. Now, he had often noticed this before, and he called it ‘the door’ because the hole formed an archway at about head-height. It looked exactly like an arched door, but he never dared to go through the door as the rules were: Do not go past the waterfall, and be home by lunch. Not only that, beyond the doorway was a darkness... it spooked Austin. Was it a cave? Did it lead to another world? Was it a trap, and would he fall into a bottomless well if he stepped through the door? He had often walked up to the door, even in summer when the sun is at its brightest, but he could never quite see what was beyond the door and so he had never dared enter it.

But today... well, today, he thought, was different. He was ten years old, and he was a young man. Surely today of all days, now that he can travel so quickly on his red bike, he could ride through the door. Why, he could ride through it, take a quick look, and then ride straight on back.

He sat motionless on his bike seat for five minutes, contemplating what to do, when all of a sudden, a voice in his mind, which was his own voice, said, “Now!”

Whoosh! He put his foot down on the pedal and rode straight through the door and into the blackness.

As he rode through the blackness it seemed to spread apart for him, as if an invisible doorman had welcomed him into this strange new region of Fowler’s Forest. Austin was surprised to discover that on the other side of the door was, just, well, more forest! It was just like the other side, his side. There were gum trees and pine trees and shrubberies and the creek, and there were paths to travel on and bellbirds went ‘ding’ and the branches of the trees swayed in their own time. But there was one thing different, and it was something Austin noticed straight away. The size of things. The trees were taller, the creek wider, in fact so much wider it was like a river, and the flowers were larger and the bellbirds louder.

Everything was ever so slightly exaggerated, but you wouldn’t notice unless you had grown up in the forest like Austin had.

He rode slowly along a path, observing all the new terrain, until he came to a fork in the path. He chose one way and then rode for a little longer. He noticed that the clouds were getting dark. He came to another fork and chose one of the paths. He rode along that for only a short while until he came to a small clearing where there were six paths to choose from. He chose one and then came to another fork and went one way, but immediately came to another clearing with four choices of paths and chose one. He rode for half an hour, during which time darker clouds slowly came across the sky and the temperature dropped considerably. It was starting to look like night-time, though it was only still very early in the morning. He continually came across forks and clearings until he finally realised he was very, very lost. Such was his excitement at riding he hadn’t remembered to take note of where the heck he had come from.

He stopped to take his breath and looked back. His bike had left tracks in the path, and he realised that all he had to do was follow his tyre tracks back to the doorway. Just as he was about to head back, the dark clouds unleashed a furious rainstorm across the forest. Thunder struck above his head and lightning bolts lit up the forest. The thunder roared with such ferocity Austin worried that the ground would tear apart and the planet would break into two. Water began to trickle down the path and so he climbed a small hill, carrying his bike with him, and took refuge under a Norfolk Pine which acted as a giant umbrella. He huddled under the tree, shivering in the wet, and watched the river swell and begin to rage and roar. After some time, the river finally broke its banks and it caused new rivers to form along the pathways, burying his bike tracks. In all his life he had never seen such dense and solid rain.

He sat there for what must have been an hour until the rain began to ease away, though the pathways were now fast-moving muddy rivers, and the main river at the bottom of the small hill raged so ferociously that it carrying whole trees with it. “I’m never going to get out of here,” he thought, and he was scared.

Though the rain had stopped, he could still feel very large drops of rain falling on his head and he thought that perhaps it was dripping from the tree, but when he ran his hands through his hair the drops felt warm, and when he looked back at his hands they were covered in blood! He looked down... his clothes were also dripping with warm blood.

Austin looked up. In the tree branch above his head was a hideous tree-monster. It was about the height and shape of a man but covered in thousands of dark spikes, like an echidna or a porcupine. The monster had three dark red eyes – two eyes where eyes normally are, and a third where his nose should have been. His open mouth exposed yellowing teeth, each as large as a shark tooth and just as sharp. His hands were the size of dinner plates and each thumb was shaped like a carving knife, and all its fingers were poison claws that secreted a venom.

In his right hand, the monster held the head of an equally disgusting monster. He must’ve chopped the head off its body very recently because the blood from the monster’s head was the blood that was dripping on to Austin as he sat under the tree.

Austin was too scared to squeal, or run.

The monster jumped from the tree, stood over Austin and bellowed, “What are you doing under my tree!”

“Nothing...” said Austin, very scared.

“You must be doing something!” yelled the monster.

“I was... I was just hiding from the rain,” said Austin.

“Hiding from it? Was it chasing you? “ asked the monster.

“No,” said Austin, “I just didn’t want to get too wet because I don’t have a raincoat. I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was your tree.”

“But everyone knows this is my tree. All across the forest, the creatures know that this is the tree of Skugra the Headchopper, and I am Skugra the Headchopper and you are under my tree! With one bite from my enormous mouth I could disembowel you! With one scratch from my poisonous fingernails I could kill you in a second! And with one slash of my sharp thumb I could take off your head, just as I did with this revolting Demondile that I found lurking....”

“Demondile?” asked Austin.

“Yes, a Demondile. A river ghost. In this river, which is called The River Aves, they are nothing but hazes and mists, but on land they have bodies like filthy reptiles and heads like devils!”

“It.. it doesn’t look like a ghost,” Austin said, hoping that by making conversation with the monster it may choose to not chop off his head.

“Ah, I can see you know nothing of the Demondile river ghosts. They are ghosts so long as they stay in the water, but sometimes, when they are up to no good, they rise out of the rivers, usually during a storm, and take a solid form. Once they are on the forest floor, they cause all manners of problems. They are mischievous and argumentative. They taunt, and they harangue and they goad. They use big words and confusing language and I hate them. They point at me and laugh, and then run back to their river and become ghosts again where I can’t chop off their heads... but this one, this one here, I caught it fair and square and I took its head! Slash, I went, and the head came off straight and clean. I will eat it for lunch.”

“But... but why would you want to take off its head?” asked Austin, “If all they do is goad you? Why can’t you just ignore them?”

“Ah, because, you see, little stupid boy, everyone knows that each Demondile has a golden tooth! Look!” and with that, Skugra opened the Demondile’s mouth and showed Austin the single golden tooth within it.

“Well, that’s good for you,” said Austin, “But I really must be going because my Mum is expecting me for lunch, and if I’m not there on time she’ll come looking for me... with... with an army of Robot Killers. So I must leave now, because it’s unsafe for you if the robot killers come here.”

He went to get on his bike but Skugra stopped him.

“Not so fast stupid little boy. I’m not scared of robot killers. I can take off a robot’s head as easy as a devil’s head, and besides, it’s not lunchtime yet and you were under my tree, and so you’ll only leave when I say so. Tell me, what is this thing you have with you..?”

“A bicycle,” said Austin. “I got it from Mum this morning. It’s my birthday today.”

“A bicycle? What does it do?” asked Skugra.

“Well, you, um, ride it. You sit on this seat, and you pedal these pedals, and it takes you places much faster than if you were walking there...”

“Interesting,” said Skugra, “Show me. Ride to that tree and back... and no funny stuff. If you don’t return I’ll hunt you down and take off your head and eat it in front of your mother, and then I’ll take off your mother’s head too, and that would spoil your birthday I bet.”

Austin got onto his bike and rode to the tree Skugra had pointed at. He contemplated riding away as fast as he could but because the ground was still wet he feared he would get bogged down and Skugra would catch up to him. He rode back to the monster.

“Why, that’s a fantastic machine,” said Skugra, “I bet I could get one of those with this gold tooth... if only I could ever leave the forest, which I can’t. Here. Give me this bicycle of yours and I will forgive you for sitting under my tree.”

“But... but it was my birthday present,” pleaded Austin, “And my mum had to work every day to save the money to buy it for me and I’ve only had it since breakfast time. Please don’t make me give it to you Skugra. I promise not to sit under your tree ever again.”

“Enough blabbering idiot human thing! Give me the bike, or I take off your head!” and with that he raised his frightening hands ready to strike Austin.

“Alright, alright, you can have it!” said Austin, bordering upon tears.

He stood away from the bicycle.

“Here, hold this,” said Skugra, handing the Demondile’s head to him. The hair was slimy, like eels, and the eyes were like dark oily ponds and the skin of the Demondile’s face was scaly, peeling and oozing a green liquid that stunk like dead things. Only the golden tooth was beautiful. The rest was ugly.

Skugra awkwardly sat upon the bike seat, his spikes causing him some discomfort. He leant over and held on to the handle bars and took off down the hill. He couldn’t quite get his feet onto the pedals and before he knew it, the bike had picked up speed and he was rushing towards the river. He had obviously never ridden a bike before.

“How does it stop? How does it stop?” he yelled.

“The brakes,” yelled back Austin.

“What are brakes?” yelled Skugra, but before Austin could answer, Skugra had crashed straight into the river and fell under the water, still clutching the bike.

“Help!”, he yelled, “Help, I can’t float or swim!”

Austin Burnett whipped into action. He ran... down-stream, away from the horrible tree monster. He ran as fast as his legs would take him through the muddy banks of the river and he could hear Skugra the Headchopper yelling, “I’m drowning, I’m drowning, help me!” but he kept running away until he could hear the drowning monster no more. He must have run for ten minutes at full speed when he finally stopped to take a breath.

He sat on the riverbank and thought to himself.

“I can’t go back to get my bike, just in case Skugra was saved. He would chop my head off for sure, for not trying to save him. I’m also lost, but if I follow the river down-stream it should take me back to my creek, or to the waterfall. I’ve lost my bike though, but then again, I have this other monster’s head and in its disgusting mouth is a golden tooth. I bet if I could get this tooth out, I could take it home and Mum would be able to get me another bike, and who knows what else? She could buy herself a new dress, and even a little bike for herself. This gold tooth could be worth millions of dollars! We could go on a holiday to Tasmania, and even go on a plane, and eat all the chocolate and strawberry jam we wanted...”

Just as he was thinking through what he and his Mum could do with a million dollars, he noticed a greenish haze floating about in the river. It started to swirl around near where he was sitting, and then suddenly it arose from the water in the form of a dark green mist, and when the mist cleared, standing right in front of him were three dreadful monsters. They had the bodies of crocodiles but had small, thick stumpy legs that stood them upright so that they stood tall and erect. The one closest to Austin was the largest. He must have been eight foot tall. His face was exactly like the one Austin had in his hand, with eel-like hair, scaly, gooey green skin and eyes as black as oil, and as oily. These must be the Demondiles, thought Austin – the river ghosts that take a solid form when out of the water. To the right of the biggest one was another Demondile, much smaller, in fact, about the same height as Austin and to the right of the big one was a third Demondile, but this one was without a head. It just stood there, headless.

“Good morning to you young homo-sapien,” said the large Demondile.

“Er, good morning,” said Austin.

“My name is Shwah and I am the King of the Demondiles. This here is my son, Prince Shwah the Second.”

“Greetings, human kin,” said the polite young Prince.

“Er, greetings, Prince,” said Austin.

“And this is my beautiful wife and mother to our son, Queen Floatia,”

“Good morning, your highness,” said Austin, who was taught to respect royalty. The Queen stood there motionless and headless.

“Now, as you may notice my flat-skinned guest,” said King Shwah to Austin, “Our Queen is lacking an important appendage, indeed one that’s not only important, but very dear to her and to all Demondiles in this forest. Namely, her head.”

“Er, yes, I noticed that,” said Austin.

“Which is ironic,” continued King Shwah, “Because the Queen, despite her ravishing beauty and charm, is quite absent-minded. I often remark to her, in jest of course, that she would forget her head were it not screwed on. But of course, I vociferate this jibe in metaphoric terms. Imagine my surprise this morning when she returned home from her royal duties, literally, without her head. I asked the Queen, with all due respect, where her head might be but as you can imagine my young dry-haired visitor, she was unable to answer me in this instance, for, she had no head, and thusly, no ears through which to hear my question, and no mouth with which to answer it.”

“I see,” said Austin, getting ready to hand over the head and run for freedom again.

“Imagine our good fortune when, in searching for her highness’ beautiful head for only a short tenure, we came across you, a strapping young human boy, in possession of the very head which we seek!”

“Yes, that is fortunate,” said Austin.

“Indeed, and so I must insist you return the Queen’s head to me so that I may place it upon her royal shoulders.”

“Okay,” said Austin, “But... but, my bicycle...”

But before he could explain what happened the King continued.

“...and after the Queen’s head is returned to her royal body, we shall, as history and law dictates, punish you for decapitating the Queen in the first instance by means of drowning you in our river. We shall drown you quickly and painlessly, we are not barbarians after all, and the fish will eat your body and we, the Demondile, will dine on your soul,”

“My what?” screamed Austin.

“Can I have some of his soul too, Dad?” asked the young Prince.

“Why of course son, you may eat a little of this boy’s soul. I for one am looking forward to eating his memories. Memories are the most delectable portions of a soul.”

“I like the dreams,” said the son, “The dreams are really tasty.”

“Oh yes, the dreams are very satisfying to munch upon, particularly with a little salt on top.”

“Mmm... yum yum,” said the Prince.

“But wait, I didn’t... I didn’t...” stammered Austin, but they were coming towards him with every intent to drown him in the river which had swollen in the rains.

“Now now little human man, it’s too late to whine and complain, the law is the law, and regicide is a serious offence in Demondile lands for which the only punishment is death by drowning. Now come along with us and into the water and it will all be over in seconds...”

“Wait just one moment!” came a voice.

Austin looked around but could not see anyone else.

“You leave this boy alone,” came the voice. Austin looked down. The voice was coming from the Queen’s head, which was still in his hand, and still dripping red blood on to the ground.

“But, my dear Queen Floatia...” said King Shwah.

“This boy did not decapitate me. It was that spiky mongrel brute, Skugra. It was he who took my head as I was helping some nymphs back upstream who had become lost in the storm. I was bending down to help one of them when Skugra leaped down from a tree and with one fell swoop took my head. He ran through the thickets with my head and the nymphs tried to chase but he was too fast. The monster took me up a tree, and then he tried to bully this skinny human, in fact, he stole the human’s contraption, but the young man managed to escape Skugra’s brutality and brought me to this safe place by the river. And you talk of drowning him, husband? Bah. This boy deserves a reward, not a punishment, for if not for him, my golden tooth would be in Skugra’s horrid claws and the rest of my head would be digesting in his fat and vile guts.”

“Well, this certainly does alter the action we should take,” said King Shwah, “Young man, I apologise profusely for not gathering the facts first and foremost and I hope sincerely that you can accept my most profound apologies for the injustice and emotional injury inflicted upon you this stormy morning.”

“Er, I accept your apology,” said Austin, wondering if it was too much to ask for the golden tooth as a reward.

He handed back the head of the Queen to King Shwah. He placed it gently in the water and it dissolved into a green haze, like algae. The body of the Queen then entered the water and became a green algae as well. The two plumes of haze joined together and the Queen came back out of the water, fully intact.

“That’s better,” she said.

“And now, your reward,” said the King, “What is it that you desire?” he asked.

“Well, all I really want is my bicycle back,” said Austin, “Skugra the Headchopper stole it from me. The last I saw, he was in the river, up-stream, drowning. Perhaps if you came with me back to the spot you could help me get the bicycle out of the water?” he asked.

“Very well,” said King Shwah, “The Queen shall lead us to the location of the crime. We’ll travel upstream in the water while you walk along the riverbank. By the time you return to the spot, we shall have your bicycle ready for you,” and with that, the three of them jumped back into the river, morphed into green slimy hazes and floated away. Austin trudged alone through the mud, shivering in the cold. It took him about twenty minutes and when he arrived, he found the Demondile royal family standing on the riverbank, but there was no bicycle to be seen.

“We’re very sorry my chimpanzee-man,” said King Shwah, “But it appears both Skugra and your bicycle have gone. We spoke with some river nymphs and they informed us that Skugra’s brother, Vawlex the Thrushcutter, came to his rescue and both of the monsters decamped deep into the forest, away from the river where the Demondile cannot venture safely. Is there some other reward we can offer you?”

“Oh no!” cried Austin Burnett, “My mum is going to kill me. That bike cost so much money, and I’ve lost in on the morning she gave it to me. I can’t go home without it!”

“Did you say... money?” asked King Shwah.

“Yes,” said Austin, “Money. You need money to get a bicycle, and we hardly have any money at home.”

“Why, we have money,” said King Shwah, “We have it hidden in a chest, and we’ve never known quite what to do with it. You see, we collect whatever treasure falls into the creek and over hundreds of years we have collected some interesting treasures, one of which is money. We have silver and gold... and I can think of no more a deserving person to be given this money than you, my little ten-toed goblin, in honour of your brave actions this morning. Son... fetch the money chest.”

Prince Shwah jumped into the river. Austin cheered up a little. Though he missed out on taking home the golden tooth, in a way, taking actual cash back home would make things a lot easier for his Mum to replace the bicycle. She could just go straight to the shop and get a new one!

Prince Shwah returned in a matter of seconds with a small but heavy chest.

“I present to you, human young man, the Demondile’s treasure of human money, so that you may replace the bicycle stolen from you by that spiky villain, Skugra the Headchopper.”

The King handed him the chest.

“I thank you, royal Demondiles, and I, Austin Burnett, am honoured by this reward,”

“You speak well, Austin Burnett... And now we shall return to our kingdom here in the River Aves. We hope that we may meet again young man,” he said, and with that, the three returned to their ghostly form in the river.

Austin opened up the chest and immediately his heart sank. Though the chest itself was heavy, promising much wealth, the contents were bare. Inside the chest was a one dollar coin, coloured gold, and a 20 cent coin, coloured silver.

“One dollar twenty?” yelled Austin, “Wait!” he yelled towards the river, but there was no sign of the ghostly Demondiles. They had vanished.

“This is a disaster,” cried Austin to himself, “First I lose my bike, then I lose a golden tooth, and all I have to take home is $1.20! My mum will kill me for sure!”

He started to walk sadly and slovenly back along the river, always on the lookout for a sign of the Demondiles on one side of him and spiky tree monsters on the other side, but as he walked and walked there was no sign of either of the creatures. He walked for half an hour and then noticed with dismay that the river was widening. He knew that the waterfall was naught but a trickle and he correctly deducted that it was not The River Aves that fed the waterfall, but rather, it must be some tributary that fed the waterfall, which means, it could come from anywhere. He was lost, lost, lost.

He sat on a rock to rest. By his reckoning he had only two hours to make it home for lunch. He was despondent, but he resisted the urge to give up. He must keep walking and find a way out of this exaggerated section of Fowler’s Forest.

Just then, from the river arose a beautiful young woman, nude, save for the reeds covering her most modest secrets. She stood right in front of Austin Burnett, dripping river water to the ground.

“What now?” groaned Austin.

“I am Vigo, the beautiful river nymph,” she announced.

“I am Austin, the human boy,” he answered, “But, aren’t others meant to call you beautiful? Shouldn’t you just say that you are Vigo the River Nymph, and someone else says you are a ‘beautiful’ river nymph?”

“Am I beautiful?” asked Vigo.

“I suppose so,” he answered.

“Then, I just saved you precious breath. Now, tell me Austin, is that... is that what I think it is? The treasure of the Demondiles?” she asked.

“Yes, it is. It was my reward for rescuing the Queen’s head from Skugra the Headchopper,” he replied, and then added, “Though it’s not of much use to me. $1.20 won’t help me get my bicycle back, or help me get home.”

“Are you lost, human boy Austin?”

“Very lost,” he answered, “I came into this region of the forest through a doorway that is beside a very small waterfall on my side of the forest, and now I can’t find my way back.”

“I know this waterfall of which you speak,” she answered.

“You do?” he said, standing up.

“Of course, I am a river nymph, and I know every inch of the River Aves, and not just the river, but every creek that feeds it, every tributary that runs from it, every puddle it leaves on the ground when the floods subside and every drop of water splashed onto every leaf in this forest, for that is where I live, in the water, with the Demondiles and the Delamotts and the Rutblaks and the fish...”

“I don’t know either the Delamotts or the Rutblaks,” he said, “But, I am very pleased to meet my first river nymph. Can you help me find my way to this waterfall? If I’m not home for lunch, I’ll be in big trouble. I’m already in a lot of trouble now that I lost my new bike, but if I can just get home in time it might make things better”

“Well, I suppose I could help you... but, perhaps, in return for my help, you could perhaps give me the chest. After all, you said it was of no use to you,” said the wily water nymph.

He didn’t have to think about it, he handed the chest straight to Vigo. She opened up the chest, took out the $1.20 and handed the money to him.

“But I thought you wanted the treasure?” asked Austin.

“The coins are not the treasure, little boy,” said Vigo, “The chest itself is the treasure. Inside the chest is a little of what the owner seeks. In your case, two coins. But what you didn’t know was that if you wished for something more grand than money, it would have given you just a little of what it was you wished for. What I wish for is love, and tomorrow morning, when it replenishes itself, I shall open the box and be touched by a little love.”

“Suit yourself,” said Austin, who was not interested in the magic chest, “Now can you help me back home?”

“Follow me,” she said. She fell back into the river, but she swam slowly and he found it easy to follow her back up-stream. He followed her for about ten minutes, back along the tracks he had just made, until they came to a thin but steady trickle of water that came off the river and beside a path he had not noticed earlier. She stood up in the water. “Here, Austin. Follow this thin creek which spills from The River Aves. Follow it for two miles and it will reach the top of the small cliff. From there, you will be able to wind your way down to a doorway which takes you into a horrible land where foul monsters and hideous ghouls rule the world...”

“You mean, my world?” he asked.

“I suppose so,” she said, “I have no interest in going past the waterfall. It’s not the type of place I’d like to dwell, just as this is not the type of place you would like to dwell. Good luck, human boy, and thank you for the chest,” she said, and with that, the beautiful river nymph Vigo ducked under the water and disappeared.

He trudged along the path that followed the small, thin creek for more than an hour. The going was rough as the ground was soft and muddy after the rains, and the path would disappear at times and he was forced to scramble over bushes and fallen logs, and sometimes even walk barefoot through the creek itself. Finally, he reached the top of the cliff. He looked down and saw that indeed it was the right place, and he saw the mosses at the base of the waterfall where he would often sit and contemplate the world. He began to look for a path that would take him down the side of the cliff.

He walked into a small clearing but discovered, much to his horror, he was not alone. Standing in the middle of the clearing was Skugra the Headchopper and his bicycle.

“Looking for something?” Skugra asked.

Austin stood still, and said nothing. Skugra was blocking the pathway down the cliff, and the only other way back home was to jump down the waterfall and that would surely cause pain, injury and even death.

“You left me to drown, idiot monkey boy. You left me to die like a heartless goon. In the river I was to drown a horrible death, to be eaten by Delamotts, if you had your evil way. You ran when I asked for your help, and not only that, you ran away with my Demondile head and its golden tooth. What sort of horrid creature are you? Well? Answer me?”

“You stole my bike...” was all Austin said.

“Stole? You say I stole? Not at all! You invaded my territory, and I was generous in letting you stay alive by taking the bike from you and letting you go, and what was the thanks I received? To be abandoned when I needed help. Little wonder they say humans are the foulest creatures of all the monsters in the world.”

“That’s not true,” said Austin, “It’s not true at all!”

“It is true, and there is only one thing left to be done, to make sure you don’t invade my territory again. Say goodbye to your head, human filth!” and with that, Skugra came towards him, holding his two meat cleaver thumbs aloft in the air ready to chop Austin’s head off, but suddenly, as if they were waiting for this moment for hours, days and even years, out from the trees came twelve tree-men. Their bodies were made of sap but all were wearing full body armour forged in gold, and each brandished a sword made of glistening steel. They surrounded Skugra.

“Back off, Headchopper,” said one of them.

“Out of my way you ridiculous Eucasaps. I’m going to chop that boy’s head off.”

“No, you will not,” said another of them, “Can’t you see who he is?”

Skugra stopped and looked into Austin’s face.

“All I see is a runt-like pathetic and foul human beast,” he said.

“Look closer,” said another of the Eucasaps, “Look at the shape of his blue eyes, and the shape of his face, with the spread of freckles across his cheeks. Look at his spindly, long legs. Remind you of anyone, tree-monster?”

Skugra stared intently at Austin for a while, then said, “You don’t think...”

“It was said that the Goddess had a son,” said one of the Eucasaps.

“But we haven’t seen her in eleven years!” cried Skugra.

“But she guards the edges of our forest, as promised... “ said a Eucasap.

“It can’t be,” said Skugra, to himself, bewildered.

Austin just stood there, hoping that Skugra would believe this stupid story about being the son of some Goddess. His Mum was just a Mum, not a Goddess, but he wasn’t about to blurt that out right now, so long as the tree-men, known as Eucasaps, were protecting him.

“What’s going on?” came a large voice. Everyone turned to see another tree-monster, just like Skugra, but slightly larger.

“Your brother was about to chop off this young man’s head,” said one of the Eucasaps.

“Brother Skugra, is that true? After I rescued you from the river and told you to return the bike to the boy?” said the other tree monster.

“No, it’s not true, Brother Vawlex,” pleaded Skugra, “It’s not true at all. I was just playing with him, pretending! I would never hurt the fine young man. Here, young human, here is your bicycle, take it back, and may you ride to amazing and magical places with it for years to come.”

The Eucasaps stood aside, and let Skugra pass. He propped the bike next to Austin and said, “Now give me a cuddle!” he said, laughing.

“Oh, you’re a bit spiky,” said Austin.

“Oh, how true, how true!” laughed Skugra, “I am a tree monster after all. Well, one day, if you grow spikes too, we can have a hug, but until then, safe journeys on your bicycle...” he said, but then he leant down and whispered into Austin’s ear, “Next time we meet, your head is my lunch...” then, laughing, he ran back into the forest with his brother following.

The Eucasaps stood down their weapons, and one of them approached. They were as tall as normal men, and though made of sap, their armour was made of such thick, ornate gold that Austin had no doubt they would be feared across the forest. Little wonder that Skugra made his escape.

“What are you doing here, young man?” asked the Eucasap.

“I... I was just riding my bike. I guess I rode too far,” he said.

“We are the Eucasaps. We live in the gum trees and we are the soldiers of the forest, just as the Demondiles are the soldiers of the rivers. We are busy enough without having to worry about protecting human children from the likes of Skugra the Headchopper. You don’t belong here. It is time for you to take your bicycle and leave,” he said.

“I know, and thank you,” said Austin, sitting atop his bicycle, “Thank you for helping me get my bicycle back. I shall go home, and won’t disturb you again. Bye now,” he said.

“Goodbye, young man,” said the Eucasap. Austin watched them wrap their armoured bodies in beautiful green velvet cloaks held together with goldn clasps in the shape of a eucalyptus leaf. They looked like fine and majestic soldiers, and Austin was grateful that they had saved him. He waved once more, and took off.

He rode down a pathway until he came to the spot. He took one look back at this strange section of Fowler’s Forest, took a deep breath, and rode through the doorway. He was back on his side of the forest, safe and well. He rode home as fast as he could and made it just in time for lunch.

“Anything exciting happen Aussie?” asked his Mum.

“Not really,” said Austin.

But when they were eating lunch, Austin said, “Mum, you grew up in this house, didn’t you?”

“That’s right,” she said, “I grew up here with your grandfather, who built the house many years ago.”

“So... so, you would have spent a lot of time in Fowler’s Forest, wouldn’t you?”

“Oh yes,” said his Mum, “Just like you, I went there every day.”

“What’s beyond the waterfall?” he asked.

She went silent, and turned a little red, but then answered, almost sternly, “I wouldn’t know. Just like you, I was never allowed to go beyond it. And I never did. Now, be quiet, and eat your lunch Aussie.”

He ate his lunch, but he was thinking to himself, “My Mum knows something she’s not telling.”


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Just when you think you're free...

Kick it, kick it you goose!

For the first twenty years of my life, I was a passionate Essendon Football Club supporter.

Never missed a match if I could help it, knew the details of all the players, could sing the club song with the best of them.

Then, for some reason, I just stopped. Got sick of it and never watched a match again.

Until the day when The Boy started primary school and was presented with the question all Victorian kids must be able to answer.

“Which team do you barrack for?”

To say “I don’t barrack for any team” is not acceptable, as it will mark you out as a freak for the rest of your school days. Happily, a workmate was an Essendon member and could supply him with all the guff and thus The Boy became an Essendon man.

This is all leads up to the fact that we were matching the Essendon-Collingwood match on Anzac Day*. Much to my astonishment I found myself twitching and muttering things like “kick it, kick it you goose, down the middle, ohh not to him, down the middle, down the middle.”

Some things are buried so deep in your psyche, they never leave you.

*In which the Dons were absolutely flogged**.

** To cheer ourselves up, we sang the Essendon Club song***.

*** Though it could have been worse. He could have chosen Richmond.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A highly moral poem indeed.

“You are old, Father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"

"In my youth," Father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."

"You are old," said the youth, "As I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door—
Pray, what is the reason of that?"

"In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
"I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment—one shilling the box—
Allow me to sell you a couple?"

"You are old," said the youth, "And your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak—
Pray, how did you manage to do it?"

"In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life."

"You are old," said the youth, "one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose—
What made you so awfully clever?"

"I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
Said his father; "don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!"

Oddly enough, most of Lewis Carroll’s poems in Alice are parodies of the “instructional” poems of the time.

Most of these were either revoltingly sentimental or hideously blood-curdling, whereby children who disobeyed their parents are either eaten by bears or have their thumbs cut off.

They’re all completely forgotten now of course, only surviving in the form of Carroll’s parodies.

I think there’s a moral in that for us all*.

* Although not the sort of moral where people are eaten by bears or have their thumbs cut off.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

8 Days in Outback Straya

It was a full-on 8 days, and the post would be long and boring if I ran through everything, so this post will be a series of snippets and observations about Outback Australa. Sorry, there's no sex in this story.

First of all though, here's the lineup:

(l-r) Mad Irishman, Miss Flatmate, Perseus Q Kneejerk.

Songstress did not come because of Miss Flatmate's threats. I don't think they have spoken since, which is awkward, being flatmates and cousins and all. Songstress is coming to my place tomorrow to stay. I'll find out more.

Anyhoo. We drove 600kms on the first day. Melbourne to Ivanhoe NSW. The last four hours was through an apocalyptic wasteland known as 'the big paddock' but was actually 'a big bore'.

Locusts raped my car.

Fucken radiator grill got clogged. We had to buy mesh and string to protect it.

Welcome to Ivanhoe, NSW... the shittest town in Australia. Last meals served at 5pm. If you get into town past that time, there's no food. Not at the pub or the RSL.

Our room was filled with locusts, bugs and the woman said, "Watch for redbacks, they're everywhere." The bed linen was greasy and it smelt like dung and death. Here's the punchline. It was $150. No no, here's the punchline. Here's the bathroom:

At the pub that night we met Bazza. Bazza speaks:

"I'm from North Coast. I was in jail at Railtown, just down the road. Did a couple of years. It was great. Got paid $100 a week, then when I got out I bought a 4 bedroom portable for $5,000 after they kicked the coons out. I spent $10,000 on doing it up and it's a fucken palace, for $15,000, except that cunt Ray Murphy from Hay offered me $30,000 and I said, "Keep trying, cunt". You shoulda stayed at my house, it's a palace since I leaned it up after the coons trashed it. No, don;t go to the RSL for a beer you'll get raped. There's only 200 people in this town and they're all cunts. See that fat cunt ove there? he's the mayor. Yeah, they're all cunts. Why dont you kids buy the caravan park? It's going for $20,000, and comes with a petrol station. No? Fair enough, everyone here's a cunt anyway..."

He was the best bloke we met there.

Next morning we headed to Menindee along a 200km dirt road. We asked the locals if the road was okay. They said it had been closed for a week because of rain, but it was re-opening that day and should be just fine. Workers had fixed it. It was a nice dirt road alright.

But then dark clouds came in. A sense of doom. It started pouring. Bucketing down. I started to lose control of the car. I slowed down to about 30km per hour but I kept fish-tailing. I did a couple of 360 degree spins, but I was going so slow it was funny. But funny scary funny. We didn’t know it yet, but they had closed the road. We were stuck about 50km in to the drive and so there was no choice but to keep going. After another 360 degree turn we got out to check the car. The wheels looked like this:

It was all mushy, thick clay. I kept driving but at the halfway point I lost total control and ran into a shallow ditch and couldn’t get out. We got out the car (in the rain) and saw that the clay had built up so much it was up against the wheels, and the drive shaft and axles were caked to the ground in mud. I didn’t get a picture of it because we were too busy laying in the mud and rain, scraping it away with sticks while locusts flew into our faces. Once we got the clay off we drove away. I had to drive with one side of the car in the ditch and wait for the ditch to ebb away before being able to get back on the road. All in all, it took 7 hours to travel the 200kms. When we had about 10km to go, a 4WD with three blokes passed us. At the end of the road they were waiting for us, laughing. They were told by some locals we had taken the road in a ‘city car’ and were on the lookout for us. They had followed our tracks the whole way and saw where we fish-tailed and ran into the ditch. They said we were the first ‘car’ to ever make it through that road in the wet. The driver said, “Even if you were bogged we couldn’t stop...”

We stayed at a nice hotel in Menindee and had tea at the local pub. People kept coming up to us and asking, “Are you the people that took the Ivanhoe road in a car?” I think they meant to say, "Are you the three dickhead townies that did that road? You stupid, stupid cunts."


Through Broken Hill, fucken weird joint.
Darling Basin... yeah, it's water. Wow.
Ripped off at Bordertown. $3 for a Nescafe Blend 43 we had to make ourselves.
Fruit inspector went through our car and confiscated half our groceries.
Peterborough SA a beautiful town. I bought 1974 Explosive Hits on vinyl for 20c.

Mad Irishman made us go on a fucking steam-train museum tour. I thought it would be 20 minutes. Nope. Three hours. Jesus H Christ it was dull, but Mad Irishman is into trains and he loved every second. They had a talking mannequin for fuck's sake. The first thirty minutes was a 'talk' on the 'history of rail gauges'. I wanted to kill things.

Headed off to Flinders Ranges. We set up tents, ate well, got fully drunk and had a ball in the middle of the desert ranges, but we were too drunk to notice that the thunder and lightning in the distance was not 'amazing' but rather, 'ominous'.

At midnight it started raining, but not just an ordinary rainstorm, this was fierce (we found out later it was 91mm in three hours). We all piled into Miss Flatmate's tent because it was waterproof. The sound was incredible, and the thunder sounded like it was right outside our tent. We didn’t sleep until about 4am. When we woke at 7am, we were confused. We couldn’t hear rain on the tent, but we could still hear what we thought was a storm. Turns out it wasn’t a storm... it was this, 20 metres from our tents:

That wasn't there the night before. Turns out, it hadn't been there for 70 years. It was ferocious. Whole trees were being swept away. It was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Our excitement at this natural wonder was short-lived though, because as we went for a walk we found this:

That was the only road out of there. We had planned to spend another night there anyway, but we also planned to get more food from Wilpena (about 50km away). We had no food, one beer stubby and no way out of there. More rain was forecast for that night so we decided that if we could get out, we would. And stay out.

We spent several hours plotting an escape route, off-road, over the hill behind the campsite. We found the ranger. He said, “Are you right for food? Cos nobody's getting out and nobody's getting in,” and I said “Well we have a jar of olive tapenade," and he was thinking, "You pathetic townie cunts." I felt like Niles from Frasier. We eventually found a route. The car got smashed around a bit but at least we got out. This is the terrain we drove over (illegally) for a mile or so, but it was worth the risk because the Outback had beaten us.

Got to Port Pirie which I thought would be a quaint seaside town, but it was actually like Geelong, but worse.

Clare Valley was picturesque.

On the last day I rushed to get to the last day of the Norman Lindsay festival in Creswick but we found out when we got thre that they had cancelled it a day early due to lack of interest.

Came home.

Here's my summary:

NSW is shit, South Australia is pretty.

We looked for desert heat and all we got was locusts and floods.

All the coffee is shit, and everyone plays pokies.

Aborigines and whiteys get along better than I thought they did.

We were having too much fun to worry about connecting with the land.

Next time I do a roadtrip I'll check the weather more often.

The Outback is always a mix of Henry Lawson, Wolf Creek and Dreamtime, but every now and then something would take my eye and I'd think, "By jeez that's beautiful..."

Atheists Have Ethics Too

Hugh Hefner said something interesting. Go figure. It was in response to Tiger Woods' so-called 'sex addiction' for which he is receiving clinical/medical attention.

But Hugh said, "I think by and large it's a cop out. I think 'sex addiction' is a convenient phrase... Sex is not like a drug or alcohol. It doesn't affect the physicality in the same way. But it can become very obsessive. Neurotic people can do very foolish things. People make choices. Most people who cheat do it because they think they can get away with it."

Bravo. From Duchovny to Sheen to Woods to that other guy who's married to Sandra Bullock, I say, you do not have a clinical addiction to sex any more than me and everyone I know. What you do have is a disregard for / disinterest in fidelity and monogamy. You are egotists with childlike minds.

I watched a documentary on the development of a child's mind. They put down a small piece of chocolate and said, "You can eat this now, or, you can wait ten minutes and have this bigger piece of chocolate instead..." I can't remember the actual ages but it was something along the lines of three to six year olds ate the small chocolate straight away, but by age seven, they could reason enough to wait the ten minutes and get the bigger chocolate.

Tiger Woods, metaphorically, took the small chocolate by cheating on his wife each and every time. That's not 'addiction', it's just Hedonism 101 - instant gratification for short-term gain, unable to to calculate the long-term losses it will create - with a garnishing of Ubermensch.

I cheated on a girl once. I was 21. I used all sorts of excuses but in the end, it was because the 'other woman' was there, offering sex, and I took it because I was weak - not 'addicted'.

I have also been cheated on... twice. Both girls also used implausible excuses when the real reason for cheating was as simple as 'they wanted sex with that other person'.

Ricky Gervais, in one of his standup performances, talked about how someone wanted him to donate money to a charity that was looking for a 'cure' to obesity. He remarked, "Obesity is not a disease. Polio is a disease."

The same goes for sex. Wanting lots of it is normal. Hell, it's essential for our species' survival. Monogamy is a social construct, I guess, but it does have evolutionary benefits in that it provides stronger family units and by extension, stronger communities.

Monogamy is very, very difficult at times, and I understand that the likelihood of a partner cheating on some level, whether it be blatant rooting or even just feelings / desires for another person is high, but if you do cheat on your lover, don't use the 'sex addiction' line.

Drugs are addictive because they have addictive chemical properties.

Sex is not addictive, it's just awesome and more-ish.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shit happens. It's not always your fault.

I don’t have any friends that are into “alternative medicine”.

This may be because whenever people start talking about “natural healing” or “alternative therapies’ or even “big pharma” my usual response is something along the lines of

“What! What!! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU ON ABOUT, YOU FOUL RAT-HEARTED BASTARD. Are you seriously suggesting that people become ill because they didn’t chant three times a day or because their charkas aren’t aligned or squirting coffee up my arse is a sure cure for depression or cancer or scabies.

“Get out of my sight before I stab you. STAB YOU RIGHT THROUGH YOUR MOTHER-FUCKING EYE.”*

I find it endlessly amusing that these charlatans, while bleating on and on about “listening to your inner child’ or “using the body’s natural healing energies”, directly or indirectly blame you for the temerity of getting sick.

Well, I’m sorry, but that’s crap.

“But oh,” they bleat “people should have the chance to try alternatives, it can’t hurt.”

Sorry but once again, that’s crap.

It can hurt if you take homeopathic remedies instead of something that actually works when you’re going into a malaria infested area.

And it can hurt if enough people don’t get their children immunised against pertussis which results in the decline of what medical scientists call “herd immunity”. In short, this means an increase in the rate of the pertussis bacteria which in turn means children who are too young to be immunised stand a much higher chance of dying of “whooping cough”.

Which is a fucking nasty death.

Feel free to try this guff but if you use it instead of conventional medicine then quite frankly, you’re a mug.

There is no such thing as “alternative medicine”. If it works, it’s medicine; if it doesn’t, then it’s not.

*That’s when I’m sober. When I’ve had a few drinks, I tend to get nasty.

Friday, April 16, 2010

For Cath.

It might be fun to have a kid that I could kick around
A little me to fill up with my thoughts
A little me or he or she to fill up with my dreams
A way of saying life is not a loss

I'd keep the tyke away from school and tutor him myself
Keep him from the poison of the crowd
But then again pristine isolation might not be the best idea
It's not good trying to immortalize yourself

Beginning of a great adventure
Beginning of a great adventure

Why stop at one, I might have ten, a regular TV brood
I'd breed a little liberal army in the wood
Just like these redneck lunatics I see at the local bar
With their tribe of mutant inbred piglets with cloven hooves

I'd teach 'em how to plant a bomb, start a fire, play guitar
And if they catch a hunter, shoot him in the nuts
I'd try to be as progressive as I could possibly be
As long as I don't have to try too much

Beginning of a great adventure
Beginning of a great adventure

Susie, Jesus, Bogart, Sam, Leslie, Jill and Jeff
Rita, Winny, Andy, Fran and Jet
Boris, Bono, Lucy, Ethel, Bunny, Reg and Tom
That's a lot of names to try not to forget

Carrie, Marlon, Mo and Steve, La Rue and Jerry Lee
Eggplant, Rufus, Dummy, Star and The Glob
I'd need a damn computer to keep track of all these names
I hope this baby thing don't go too far

I hope it's true what my wife said to me
I hope it's true what my wife said to me, hey
I hope it's true what my wife said to me

She says, “baby, it's the beginning of a great adventure,
babe, beginning of a great adventure”
Take a look

It might be fun to have a kid that I could kick around
Create in my own image like a god
I'd raise my own pallbearers to carry me to my grave
And keep me company when I'm a wizened toothless clod

Some gibbering old fool sitting all alone drooling on his shirt
Some senile old fart playing in the dirt
It might be fun to have a kid I could pass something on to
Something better than rage, pain, anger and hurt

I hope it's true what my wife said to me
I hope it's true what my wife said to me
I hope it's true what my wife said to me
She says, “Lou, it's the beginning of a great adventure”
“Lou, Lou, Lou, beginning of a great adventure”
She says, “babe, how you call your lover boy”
Sylvia, how do you call your lover man.

It’s all true, of course. Having a kid is the beginning of a great adventure.

And the lines

I'd try to be as progressive as I could possibly be
As long as I don't have to try too much

pretty much sums up my parenting philosophy.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pregnant or plump; the eternal moral dilemma.

The other day, I was rattling into work on the train from the People’s Republic when I noticed a vacant seat.

“By Crikey,” I thought “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all and that’s a seat and I’m going to snaffle that.”

Which I did.

Seat snaffled I was reading my book* when I glanced up and noticed a slightly plump woman looking at me in what I thought was a reproachful manner**. I resumed reading, glanced up and again with the possibly reproachful manner. This continued for the rest of the trip; read, glance, reproach, read, glance, reproach.

This presented me with the old, old dilemma; was she pregnant or plump?

Should I have offered her my seat, risking a spray along the lines of “I’m retaining water, you cunt, I’m not pregnant,”? Should I have tried to make eye contact to see if in fact she wanted the seat?

Or should I have done what in fact I did; do nothing and feel slightly guilty for the rest of the journey.

What to do?

* A history of German resistance to Hitler, thank you very much for asking.

** Or maybe she was thinking “that bloke is sooooooo hawt! I feel like jumping his bones”.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Man v Cat

Discussing Death with George Clooney

My cat had to be put down recently. She went to sleep on my lap after having green liquid injected into her front right paw. She was 11, had FIV all of her life and finally succumbed to cancer of the liver. She now lies buried in my garden under a quite grand rock.

My grandfather died the following day. He was 92, suffered from chronic pomposity and finally succumbed to something along the lines of old age. He hadn't recognised me since 1976 and should've been given the option of the green liquid some time ago. He remains on ice as everyone waits for his oldest son to return from an overseas trip which he ain't planning on cutting short.

Frankly, I'm much more upset about the cat.

Friday, April 9, 2010

My mysterious obsession with enormous polypi continues apace.

That's a fecking big Kracken!

Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides; above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumber'd and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

And let me say in passing, how much I'm looking forward to the new version of Clash of the Titans, especially the pivotal scene where Perseus asks Andromeda out on a date but somehow fucks it up and goes home alone.

Friday Handbag-a-Watzit

As requested by Alex and EMS!

I don't have as many handbags as I have shoes. I tend to think a girl only needs a classic black and a classic neutral (white, cream or beige) bag, and this will be enough to go with any outfit. However, as I am addicted to shopping, I also have a few fun bags (tee hee!) to liven up some outfits.

And so we begin with the one that got away. This black-with-gold-hardware bag was a fantastic bag. It had everything you could ever want in a bag. And it's a very classic shape. However, for some reason, I decided to sell it before I went overseas. I am now constantly searching Ebay to find a replacement for it. I still haven't found a black bag I like as much as this one though.

Mulberry Wilton Black Leather Shoulder Bag (25L x 10W x 20H - two handles, buckle fastening straps at side, a clasp fastening strap in center with a zip fastening central pocket underneath and two open pockets either side.

This is cream leather tote, and is not exactly a classic shape. I think it will date. But it is a very nice bag, and is exceptionally well made. However, it's also very heavy. Even before you put anything in it. And it's not a shoulder bag, so your arm ends up dying if you have to lug it around for more than a few hours. Still, it goes with pretty much everything I own, so I still love it.
Anya Hindmarch Cooper Leather Tote (48L x 3W x 35H - clasp fastening pocket on front, a shoulder strap across top and a concealed magnetic fastening)

This was the first designer bag I ever bought. I loved the colour, the shape, the gold hardware. And it's a very practical bag. There's a pocket on the front, multiple pockets on the insider, a zip closure, and it's a great size. The colour is not really represented well here. It's more bluey-green than it appears. It also goes surprisingly well with a lot of things. But I usually wear it with black outfits, so it stands out more.
Anya Hindmarch Pipa Leather Shoulder Bag (35L x 12W x 22H - two handles, a signature clasp fastening on the front which secures a flap closure pocket, a magnetic fastening pocket on back, zip fastening across the top and feet on base.)

This bag was purchased because I had the shoes in the same colour. They're fabulous T-bar sandals. I don't usually agree with matching shoes and handbags (co-ordinating yes, matching no), but the shoes aren't completely "out there," so it seems to work well. This bag is huge! I carry it whenever I have to go somewhere with a book, or anything else large. It's also very light, even when it has a massive textbook in it. And it has pockets galore! It's sort of a deep burgundy colour.

Jimmy Choo Biker Leather Tote (45L x 18W x 28H - clasp fastening on front, double shoulder strap across top, two side pockets, internal zippered compartment divides bag into two sections, 3 internal pockets)

I saw this bag in a catalogue which had been sent to me, and immediately lusted after it. But I was heading overseas and was trying not to spend money. So I didn't buy it. 6 months later, I got to Paris and went to the store to drool over it. But I didn't have the money for it then either. So I took a photo and caught a plane back home. I have been scanning Ebay ever since, hoping one would show up. And what do you know, a month ago one did! I checked it out for authenticity, and managed to get it for a bargain! I was ecstatic the day it came in the mail. It looks fantastic with a cream outfit. It's more purple than it appears here.
LV Bowling Montaigne GM in Cassis Epi Leather (37L x 17W x 26H - Epi leather discreetly stamped with the LV initials, textile lining and smooth leather trimmings; Silvery brass pieces; Zippered closure with padlock and flap bearing the Louis Vuitton signature; One inside flat pocket and one cell phone pocket; One rear outside flat pocket; Key and matching key holder; Bottom studs to protect the bag)

This bag nearly got away from me. I saw it on the website and loved it. But I let it sit there for a while so I could decide if I really wanted it. Then it sold out. I was crushed. Then it came back! I put it in my shopping bag, but it sold out before I could buy it. Again, I was crushed. And then a week later, it came back again! I pounced on it. It goes fantastically with those bright pink Louboutins, and also the pink Dior slides.
Michael Kors Roslyn Leather Shoulder Bag (37L x 3W x 43H; Handle Drop 8 - two handles and a detachable shoulder strap, exposed zip pockets at front and back, a detachable designer-stamped tag, an internal zip-fastening pocket and is fully lined)

This bag is on my wish list. It's the perfect bag for a business woman. It fits A4, or a small laptop, and is effortlessly classy. It's a grained leather, and I am currently saving up for it. I think I would rather have a nice ivory business case than a boring black one. It will help me stand out in a crowd!

LV Pont-Neuf GM in Ivory Epi Leather (36L x 15W x 30H - Refined microfibre lining; Shiny silvery brass metallic pieces; Zipper closure, flap and press-lock; Three compartments including a central zipped pocket; Hand-held with smooth leather handles)

This is the bag I went shopping for on Wednesday. And in fact, I told Boogey a little lie about where I was going, because I thought if I said, "I have to pick something up from Louis Vuitton" I would have sounded like a pretentious twat. So I said I was going to David Jones instead. And then once we'd parted ways, I ducked out and into the LV store (with furtive glances to make sure he wasn't still around to see me! Haha!). The colour is seasonal, and a limited edition. I loved it from the moment I saw it. It's so feminine and beautiful. The soft pink is just an amazing colour, and I think the shape is really classic.
LV Alma PM in Rose Florentin Vernis Monogram (32L x 17W x 24H - Rounded handles for comfortable hand carry; One interior flat pocket; One interior phone pocket; Double zip opening for easy access; Gold padlock)

I lusted after this bag for a very long time. The colour is very hard to describe. It's sort of grey, but sort of lilac. It's hand-stitched leather. It's a great bag, and very versatile. There's a shoulder strap you can attach, and then fold down the top part to make it more casual, or you can carry it on your elbow for a more classy look. This is the bag I had with me on Wednesday when I met up with Boogey.

Dior Lady Dior Granville Tote in Grey (33.5L x 16W x 29H; Handle Drop 9.5 or 110 - lambskin with hand-stitched cannage detail. Silvertone hardware. Top handles with rings, adjustable, removable shoulder strap. Foldover top; can be carried as handbag or shoulder bag. Hanging "D.I.O.R." charms. Three interior compartments. Metal feet protect bottom of bag.

I thought the metallics phase was going to go away after a season or two, so I didn't bother purchasing anything in it. I was very wrong. It's still here. And while part of me hates it, another part of me thinks it can look very nice when done correctly. And so I recently purchased some metallic shoes, and then didn't have a handbag to go with them. Dilemma. And then I saw this bag on sale - 60% off! The best of both worlds! I get a trend-bag, and it doesn't cost me full price! I wore it yesterday, with a black dress with sculptural sleeves, and the Fendi black and gold swirl suede pumps.
Chloe Bay Gold Leather Shoulder Bag (37L x 15W x 32H; Handle Drop 18 - double structured straps, a quilted panel on front, a signature plaque on front, a zip fastening across the top, double zip-fastening pockets on both sides, a contrast canvas lining, an interior zip-fastening pocket, stitched detailing and feet on base)

This is another one that got away. It's an adorable little pouchette, whose main use is for evening wear. It doesn't fit much in it. The clasp is a pair of tiny shoes. I love it so much! But yet again, I sold it before I went overseas. I rue that day. I have no idea why I sold it. Still, I sold it to a friend, so at least I know if I ever want to borrow it, I'm sure she will let me!

Christian Louboutin Satin Loubinette Pouchette (22L x 8W x 18H, Handle Drop 11cm - stiletto clasp fastening, pleated detailing and a red lining)

This is another bag on my wish list. Two, actually. I really want this in the black lambskin, and another in the white lambskin. It's such a classic bag, and has been in style for 50 years. I doubt it will go out of style any time soon. I haven't previously purchased any quilted handbags, because when I do, I want them to be these ones! It has a double length chain which can be gathered in half for a shoulder bag, or let long for a hip-length bag.

Chanel 2.55 Classic Flap in Black Lambskin (25.5L x 7W x 15.5H - quilted lambskin leather outer, CC turn lock, convenient patch pocket on the back. Interior zip pocket on the back of the flap, an open compartment for easy access and a flap compartment with snap closure. The back of the interior flap is stitched with the Chanel CC logo. The main compartment has one open pocket and two small patch pockets)

And now for the piece de resistance! This bag is my HG (holy grail, for those of you who don't visit fashion forums - so, everyone then!). I am not sure I will ever obtain one. They are so expensive, I would probably need to sell 5 kidneys to buy one. I only have one and a half to spare. I don't mind spending 4 figures on a bag, but 5 is really pushing it. These bags can go up to 6 figures. The reason they are so expensive is because they are completely hand-crafted in a workshop in Paris, which produces only 5 bags across the whole range each week. There are thousands of people wanting to buy them, and there are wait-lists no matter what your name is. The fashion house who makes them has recently said they are going to outsource the construction to another location in France, so they can keep up with demand and abolish the wait-lists (and increase revenue, no doubt), but I don't know when/if this is going to happen. There are numerous variations of this bag. The fashion house basically lets you custom design it, if that's what you want. You can pick from a range of colours, leathers and hardware. Obviously, the basic look of it is still going to be the same. But some of the combinations will set you back more than the cost of a very nice car (which I think is ridiculous). If I ever did manage to buy one, I'd just get a classic black Togo leather so that it would be timeless (and it's also one of the "cheaper" versions).

Hermes Birkin 30 in Black Togo Leather with Palladium Hardware (30L x 15W x 20H; Handle Drop 11 - black togo leather with silvertone palladium hardware. Silvertone hardware on the strap stamped with "HERMES-PARIS". Interior of the bag has two pockets, one with zipper)

And there you have it! Another vapid and pointless post from the Queen of Inappropriate Shoes (and Handbags).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

That Tony, always kidding around!

"Fetch my pure silk smoking jacket and Cuban cigars , this instant!"

The rampaging “Man-bull”, destroyer of utes, smiter of disbelievers, scourge of the incapable is no more, with his decision not to re-contest his electorate at the Commonwealth election later this year.

The Mad Monk, as always, chipped in with the comedy element, as the Age reports;

Mr Abbott was generous in his praise of Mr Turnbull.

"In just two terms, Malcolm has scaled the commanding heights of Australian politics,’’ a statement from Mr Abbott read.

‘‘Malcolm has brought to all his public roles extraordinary determination, considerable personal charisma and great intellectual consistency.

"Personally, I have enjoyed his friendship since university days and look forward to doing so for many years to come."

Which I would translate as “the cunt’s finally gone, has he? You ripper”.

Based on my amazing political skills, my take on the next few years in federal politics is something like this*.

The Kevinator leads the ALP into a second term, with an increased majority. “Jolly Joe” Hockey and the Monk then amuse us all with an endless round of challenge and counter challenge before Ruddy wallops them for a third time sometime in 2013 before standing down and leaving The Gillard to take over.

Commentators usually finish these sort of pieces with some pious platitude about “how good governments depend on effective oppositions” but – you know – fuck that!

*Probably wrong and inaccurate even now, but that’s never stopped anybody in the Gallery.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Comedy Festival; will it never stop!

Still preferable to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

We’re well into week 146 of the Melbourne Comedy Festival* – I’m sorry, the Melbourne International Comedy Festival – and I just wish everybody would sod off and die.

It’s not just the fact that cunts I manage to avoid successful throughout the year, like Wil Anderson or Helen Razer, are suddenly front and centre in what passes for culture in this neck of the woods, it’s the sheer relentless, industrial, grinding nature of it all.

It’s like being stuck in a lift for three hours with somebody who “does jokes” or recycles entire sketches from memory.

And those cutsie poo posters by Michael “Cunting” Leunig.

There’s nothing more depressing than “festivals” in any case and “Comedy Festivals” make me long for armageddon or Perth.

*Well, it seems like it.