Category Archives: crime

The small print is the most important ingredient on the label …

There are lots of reasons why Rocco’s mother should probably remember to take her reading glasses to Food-o-rama. Without them, she can just about drive the car there, negotiate her way across the carpark in a fairly basic manner and stumble through the sliding glass doors of the mall – and mostly, she can even tell which aisle she’s in. She knows her way around Food-o-rama well enough to almost locate the products she requires – and sometimes even gets it right. Last week however, she managed to get it wrong in rather an epic and spectacular display of misjudgement – and Rocco paid for it the next day. Indeed, Rocco’s hapless colleagues probably paid, too.

Rocco’s mother, who is definitely not renowned for Nigella-esque bursts of culinary activity (or mesmerising bosoms, even), decided to try a type of bottled coconut curry sauce in which to cook chicken. It looked delicious altogether and was – which is important – in an aesthetically pleasing jar. Obviously, there is far more to curry sauce than the illustration on the label – indeed, if Rocco’s mother was any kind of mother at all, she’d be making her own curry sauce with a million exotic spices ground lovingly with a pestle and mortar hewn from million-year-old volcanic rock. Rocco’s mother is not that kind of mother –  a fact which has been long established – and any foray into the kitchen is miraculous in itself. People are expected to show gratitude.

Rocco was prepared to show quite a bit of gratitude, because the curry smelt delicious as it simmered away – and Rocco was hungry.  He was happy his mother had made enough that there was some left over for him to take for lunch the next day. Goodo, and much anticipatory gnashing of teeth.

It became apparent to Rocco’s mother, as she sampled the first forkful, that she should not have gone there. The coconut curry was arsebreakingly evil – even the fumes entering the nostrils were ringing out a warning. Fumbling for her glasses, Rocco’s mother examined in detail the beautifully illustrated label on the jar, and discovered, in small print, ‘… with HOT peri peri’. Rocco’s mother did not have a clue of the meaning of peri peri. She did, however, have a working knowledge of the meaning of ‘hot’. It is a word she associates with water bottles, roast dinners and Alan Rickman. It is not a word she had ever considered in the same sentence as peri peri. Nevertheless, so it was written, and she felt it necessary to issue Rocco with a timid and somewhat embarrassed warning:

‘I don’t think we’re going to be able to eat this …’

Rocco and his mother sat with tears streaming down their faces and their nostrils twitching alarmingly. Rocco managed to finish his – though his mother was less enthusiastic about having her internal organs perforated, decimated and spat out at the other end. Both parties reached for tubs of fruche in order to put things to rights – and Rocco’s mother suggested Rocco may not wish, all things considered, to take the remains of the curry to work the next day.

Imagine her surprise the next morning on discovering the container of curry had been removed from the fridge and taken to Rocco’s place of employment – which, fortunately, is an open-walled timber mill. The thought of Rocco being cooped in a small, musty, air conditioned office was more than Rocco’s mother could bear thinking about. She thanked the Great Mother he was not performing brain surgery that day. She worried all morning about her son’s health – flinching each time she heard ambulance sirens, fire sirens – or even police sirens, as she considered excessive flatulence in the workplace could certainly constitute a crime against humanity.

In the middle of the afternoon, Rocco’s mother received a txt msg. ‘Thnx heaps – thr ws plastic in my lnch.’

There are lots of reasons why Rocco’s mother should wear her reading glasses whilst cooking. One of which is that, after snipping the plastic strip from the top of the noodle pouch, she would be able to ensure it went into the bin, rather than into the stir-fry. Rocco’s mother cannot comprehend how this happened – but consoled herself with the fact a strip of plastic probably would have done far less harm to her son’s digestive tract than the food in which it was lodged. As Rocco assured her his lunch was ‘nicer today than last night’, she saluted herself on having improved the recipe with her surprise ingredient inclusion. She may now patent a new range of curry sauces:

‘With HOT peri peri – and plastic strip.’

Rocco’s mother can almost hear Nigella wishing she’d thought of it first.



Omni, omnus, omnibus …

It’s marvellous how we have that clichéd little thought every time we do something unhealthy, isn’t it?  ‘Oh well … I could be hit by a bus tomorrow.’

Yep – that justifies everything. The miniscule square of chocolate that shortens our life by five hours –  the cigarette that robs us of two extra days – the sound of Alan Rickman’s voice stealing at least a week – blah, blah, blah. We’re not allowed to just enjoy anything anymore. And that’s a bad thang. A very bad thang altogether, because who wants to live a long life without ever hearing Alan Rickman inviting you into his boudoir for some choc-coated cherry numnums. Or even issuing you with a parking ticket, for that matter.  And yes, I’d pay it. Even if he was wearing the Professor Snape wig.

It’s getting so you can’t do anything without the naysayers telling you it’s bad for you. And to be honest, that makes me feel just a teensy bit rebellious and wanting to indulge in whatever they tell me not to. After all, if I added up the chocolates, cigarettes (which I gave up over 25 years ago anyway) and random invitations from AR to do various things both frisky and deluded, I should have died several years ago. And because I clearly didn’t, I’m thinking rampant buses are probably not the b-all and end-all of ways in which to be taken out.

A friend of a friend of a friend swears he stayed in a seedy motel room somewhere in America, and noticed the room had a particularly grim and mortuaresque odour. On pulling out the trundle bed in order to put his child to bed after a hurried meal of takeaway pizza throughout which the family pegged their noses closed, imagine his surprise on unearthing (tra-la!) a deceased prostitute. Whatever had happened to this unfortunate lady to have placed her in such a dire predicament was not made apparent  – but I’m betting she wished she’d eaten more chocolate.

A few years ago, a very strange thing happened in our town – and you’ll probably think I’m making it up. When I heard it, I thought the radio lad and the local paper were making it up – but not so. Read it and weep. A lady had her old cat put down at the vet, and because she wanted to bury him in her rose garden, placed him in a shoebox in order to take him home.  On her way back, she stopped in at Food-o-rama to return some tins of cat food and purchase several economy boxes of tissues and a bottle of medicinal gin – and on returning to the car, opened the boot and placed the shoebox’o’moggy carefully on the car roof whilst packing the shopping bags inside. As luck would (or indeed wouldn’t) have it, some lousy thieving chancer happened to spot the shoebox and, thinking her luck was in and she was about to score a brand new pair of Nikes (because yes, it was indeed a woman), swiped the box from the top of the car and took off across the carpark.

And this is where the old cliché comes into play, because karma being what it is, the thieving chancer was then very karmatically and thuddingly hit by a bus. The afternoon one to Jolly Havens Retirement Village, as it happened, which was full of pissed and randy pensioners high on bingo winnings and Mylanta after the prawn cocktail/chicken parmy two course luncheon special (and $2 extra for the rhubarb cheesecake, please).

But the story doesn’t quite finish there, because when the ambulance turned up, the paramedics tucked the shoebox carefully on to the stretcher next to the thieving chancer – and both were transported to the hospital where the shoebox was placed reverently in the bedside locker, from whence the police eventually recovered it after finally finishing their alleged Krispy Kremes and grudgingly deciding to turn up.

I have absolutely no idea what the moral to this story is – or whether there is one at all. But whatever Alan Rickman has in mind for the rest of the evening, that’s fine with me. I hope he brings chocolates, Danish pastries with walnut and maple filling, a couple of bottles of very sweet and fizzy champagne – and oh alright – he can wear the Professor Snape wig if he likes, too. If I lose another week because of it … whatever.


In which Rocco evokes a series of unfortunate events …

Rocco sent his mumma a txt msg which said, ‘an old fart jst ran into me’.  The sending of this unfortunate missive occurred on Friday 13th, a date which his mother had (up until then) always thought was a very lucky day altogether. She had, in fact, woken that morning assuming everything was going to be very pleasant and only good things would happen.  She thought she deserved good things to happen and it was her right. Rocco managed to leech the last bit of hope out of what should have been an ordinary and uneventful day. As usual.

On phoning Rocco, who was in the carpark of Food-o-rama, his mother found it was a bit difficult to hear the entire story because the aforementioned old fart was carrying on in the background like a demented gnome filled with Hitleresque bile . The gnashing of teeth and stamping of little feet was evident even over the airwaves. Rocco’s mother could see the little black moustache in her mind’s eye, though it was very difficult to hear the wood for the trees. Rocco then told the OF to ‘please shut the f up’, which his mother thought was probably not a good idea. You do not swear at people when you are in the wrong. You do not swear at people at any time really – but when you have just backed out of a carpark into them, the f-bomb would not seem appropriate droppage.

The police would not come, because they deemed two driveable vehicles and no injuries constituted a waste of their time. They didn’t want their jam doughnuts to go stiff. Rocco was left to deal with the problem on his own, and because he had no clue as to the name of his insurance company (or even whether he had one), he was unable to furnish the OF with the details. Therefore, his mother received a phone call from the OF’s insurance company a few days later.

By this time, Rocco was away at his TAFE course for the week, and the rather spiteful insuro-bitch on the other end of the phone naturally refused to speak to his mother, because although she had endured several hours of unpleasant labour ejecting Rocco into a horrified and unprepared world in the first place, she was not entitled to know his personal business – even though she would inevitably end up dealing with the unpleasantness of the personal business and Rocco’s father would end up paying the money in question. Insuro-bitch (and Rocco’s mother could see the little black moustache in her mind’s eye) smugly informed R’s M she’d send Rocco a letter instead, which she duly did. The letter was also dipped in venom, and informed Rocco he was to pay $3,528 immediately in order to shut them up finalise the matter.

As if this incident wasn’t quite enough, Rocco also managed to incur a $200 fine for purchasing a concession train ticket in order to return home from his TAFE course. He hadn’t realised his travel card had expired, and blissfully purchased the ticket as usual – only to find the transit police were not in the least sympathetic and wanted their pound of flesh. Rocco’s hapless mother (who does not have time for a life of her own) is currently in the process of writing her second appeal letter on his behalf in an attempt to shut them up finalise the matter – which won’t work, because the first one didn’t, but will buy a bit of time.

But Rocco’s disastrous fortnight hadn’t quite offered up its finale yet.  There was more to come because naturally, although he’d been told numerous, mind-numbing times to always lock his car and never leave valuables inside it, Rocco parked his car in the driveway on Friday night with his wallet and his iPod on the front seat and expected everything to be tickety-boo in the morning. As you do, when you live in lala land where the moon’s a balloon and the flowers pick themselves. The fact Rocco’s pay was in his wallet at the time was just the icing on the cake for the thieves – they scored admirable booty from their heist and then turned to Rocco’s parents’ car for good measure. This gleaned only a couple of packets of cigarettes and a few dollars in small change – but there was the fun of hurling the contents of the glovebox all over the car and opening boxes of computer parts which were obviously not exciting enough to be bothered taking. Naturally the police wouldn’t come. They’d just purchased another dozen fresh doughnuts.

There are other things that could happen this week, and they probably will. None of them will be good, because Rocco’s stars (and those of his parents) seem to have aligned in a clashing cacophony of misadventure.  In fact, when Rocco’s mother heard the postman dropping something in the mailbox a few minutes ago, she curled herself up into a ball and hid in a corner …


A bit of hum and rattle on the tracks …


            Something exciting for us all to look forward to is the imminent introduction of classical music to railway stations.

            This is not for the benefit of those of us who love classical music – it’s more in keeping with the ‘music soothes the savage breast’ thing. Yep – because it’s a well known fact you wouldn’t be able to muster up the enthusiasm for whanging a pensioner on the back of the head to the strains of Handel’s Water Music. You’d be more inclined to visit the restroom. The thought of acquiring a dog-eared pension card, three fluff-encrusted polo mints and the pre-decimal equivalent of $3.20 would go right out the window, wouldn’t it? It works for me, anyway. Not to mention your urban Bovver Boy, who’d presumably feel totally mellowed out and have an overwhelming urge to crochet a lime-green nylon swan for covering his granny’s spare toilet roll. As you would. Classical music would knock the edge off any intended shenanigans you might have considered perpetrating on a railway platform. Unless, of course, it was the 1812 Overture (with cannons), in which case there wouldn’t be a pensioner left standing and bugger the crochet.

            They’ve used music in supermarkets for ages – to make us buy stuff we don’t want. It’s a brilliant concept. Any marketing person worth their salt is well aware Barry Manilow reminds us of eating sweets in the back row of some fleapit back in ’74 when we had more reasonably distributed flesh and the attentions of a spotty youth in a purple jacket called Graham. That’s the youth being called Graham, not the jacket. One croon from Barry and we’re off down the confectionery aisle as if we can revisit our perfidy with a box of Jaffas and a kilo of microwave popcorn.

            While music in fast food outlets is designed to make us eat faster and get out sooner (so they get a rapid turnover and we get indigestion), the supermarket variety is the ‘linger longer’ type – so you moon around in a stupor and forget what you came in for in the first place. When you get home with the Jaffas and stuff, some smartarse will say, “Where the hell’s the milk?’ Still in the refrigerated cabinet, obviously – because you were having fun wafting around with a soundtrack, pretending you had pert breasts and buttocks which looked mighty fine in a black vinyl skirt.

            There is a marketing opportunity here. The possibilities for the development of useful soundtracks for all occasions are limited only by your imagination. Consider – music to make kids hurry up in the shower. Or better still, recordings of times tables so they’re forced to actually learn something while they’re letting your heard-earned water trickle down the drain. And Doris Day numbers which start playing when the ‘fridge door is opened so teenagers don’t stand there staring in for half an hour with their eyes glazing over, hoping something interesting might materialise. Which it won’t, seeing as I’ve eaten it.

            Then there’s that popular choice for parents to pop in teens’ Christmas stockings this year – ‘Music for Hoons to Drive To’. There’s an opening for a bit of Bach here. Almost impossible to do road rage to, and takes away your credibility during ram raids.

            Waiting on the telephone for six years to get an insurance quote could be made halfway bearable if companies had the teensiest clue what the public really wanted. It’s obvious nobody has really looked into the problem with any great intelligence. Instead of the crappy 60s Muzak, it would say; ‘Press 4 to hear a really decent sticky date pudding recipe’; or ‘Dial 8 for Harrison Ford’s extremely positive opinion of your wit and beauty’; or (for men) – ‘Helga is waiting to teach you Swedish … just press 3 after the beep’. You wouldn’t feel cranky anymore and they could add a bit extra to the insurance quote. By the time you got it, you’d be feeling no pain.

            Noise in general can make or break you. There are radio stations which make listeners want to rape and pillage. There are decibels pouring down on you from every which way – and most will not be to your liking.

            Live in hope – at least you’ll be able to rely on a bit of Beethoven on the 9.45 to Central …




Rocco’s mother does a bad, bad thing …

            Once upon a time there was a perfectly respectable couple who wouldn’t have dreamed of doing anything illegal, offensive or immoral. But they had to spoil everything by having a child.

            From the beginning, the parents did everything by the book. Everything – from eating spinach and offal before conception to not screaming for drugs on the delivery table. The mumma struggled with the breastfeeding business because ‘it’s nature’s way and gives bubby the best start in life,’ even though nosy old cows in pink towelling tracksuits constantly approached her in the street to inform her, ‘you probably don’t have enough milk, dearie,’ just because the baby was howling his head off and hurling plush ferrets at gawking bystanders. The daddy put up with the mumma having a headache every night, not realising this state of affairs would probably continue for another 20 years, after which time she’d probably be wishing she was dead.

            Both parents diligently taught Rocco right from wrong. He was well aware he should wash his hands after visiting the bathroom and knew it wasn’t nice to drink milk straight from the carton. Mumma made sure he could say ‘aitch’ without the ‘h’ on the front. The parents thought they had all bases covered.

            Then Rocco starts school. He is now capable of choosing the people he wishes to associate with, and it’s not lovely Nigel from No.23 in the home-knitted argyle cardigan, either. Dream on. His chosen playmate is Shayne, who teaches him on the first day how to rip great chunks out of his new grey trousers by sliding across the school carpark on his knees, and how you can pierce your own eyebrow before morning recess. Rocco is a willing student. By home time he also remembers the pronunciation of the f-bomb, the p-word and a few interesting variations of the s-word, which can hitherto be used when his meal is placed in front of him and mumma has not done the right thing. After the first day he will no longer take his lunch to school in the Tupperware box with his name written on Elastoplast on the lid – and his Globite schoolbag is smashed to pieces and hurled under the house, together with the poofy legionnaire’s cap sporting the school crest.

            Long before he reaches high school, Rocco knows policemen are to be referred to as animals of the pink and grunting variety and that ‘mother’ is only half a word. The contents of the family cutlery drawer are strapped around his thigh at all times, even under his Anarchy Rules OK pyjama trousers, and daddy’s new Stihl chainsaw sometimes goes missing for weeks on end.

            More often than not, the police come to make routine enquiries on Saturday mornings. At first, it was just to check Rocco’s waste paper basket for alleged Cadbury wrappers after he’d allegedly been seen removing the said alleged chocolate bars from the alleged corner store. In later years they brought a pantechnicon with them in order to remove the alleged plasma screens from where they were allegedly stashed under tarpaulins in the back of daddy’s toolshed.

            Mumma started to think it might have been better in the long run to have turned a blind eye to Rocco drinking milk from the carton and to have allowed him to say ‘haitch’ every now and then. You do not, after all, end up in Pentridge from bad grammar alone.

            Nigel’s mother however, is very smug. She tells Rocco’s mumma that Nigel is taking an accountancy course at TAFE in his spare time and is doing really well working part time at McDonald’s. According to the manager, Nigel’s burgers always have just the right amount of ketchup and he never forgets to include the pickle. Furthermore, when he was on his way to his accordion lesson, Nigel saw Rocco piddling over the railway bridge on to the roof of the 9.45 from Central.

            Rocco’s mumma, in her sweetest and most controlled voice, calls Nigel’s mother the other half of the word of which mother is only half. She also informs her there isn’t much call for accordion players anymore and it’s a well known fact most people throw away the pickle from their Big Mac.

            Then, with a ‘proud mother’ flourish, she pulls the Stihl out of her handbag.




Why Nigel’s stereo runs through Jason’s veins …


            The world’s gone totally mad and now’s your chance to get in there and make the most of it.

            No longer do you have to face the horrors of liability or accountability. The new millennium means never having to say you’re sorry. Because let’s face it – you’re not, are you? The nineties’ answer to responsibility is to place the blame elsewhere. And there’s plenty of places to place it – you don’t even have to look very far.

            Ask Boris. He’s a serial killer because his mother didn’t love him. Jason whines he’s a drug addict because his father left home. And poor old Tom’s been unemployed all his life because his teachers were no good. Well, diddums. Strike up the orchestra here, and hopefully it will drown out the noise of nobody having the guts to blame themselves anymore. Nobody wants to say, ‘I’m bad just because I am.’ If you can find someone to blame, you can live your whole life in denial while someone else carries your baggage.

            Back in the dark ages, when kids respected their elders and got a good clip across the ear’ole if they didn’t, people were brought up to know right from wrong. If they transgressed, they were punished. Troublemakers were nipped in the bud in kindergarten when they pulled the first wing off the fly crawling across the inkwell. One visit to the headmaster and that was the last time you chewed Juicy Fruit in maths. The class warm-up man wasn’t given the chance to build an empire. Most people were reasonable human beings. After nicking that Mars Bar, aged 6 and getting spectacularly drunk at 15, most kids settled down into your average reasonable lifestyle. You knew your limits.

            Today, there aren’t any. We have excuses instead. If passing the buck had been flavour of the month in our grandparents’ day, wasn’t every child who lived through a World War entitled to become a serial killer? They should have been given vouchers! All the little ones evacuated away from their families, not knowing whether they’d ever go home again – prime candidates for spectacular careers in Advanced Rape and Pillage, wouldn’t you think? Not. There was that ol’ dinosaur – self control. Hanging on and making the best of things – dealing with what life handed out. It might have been crap – but it was YOUR crap, and you just wiped it off your face and got on with the next item on the agenda.

            Nowadays, we’re stuck with other people’s crap. Because of Jason’s father leaving home, Jason now feels perfectly entitled to break into Nigel’s house and nick his stereo. Why shouldn’t he? After all, Jase has a $300-a-day drug habit and bloody Nigel has a good job because his parents stayed together and his mother cut the crusts off his sandwiches. You bastard, Nigel – how unfair was that? Well Jase – weren’t you in Nigel’s class at high school? Didn’t you fire spitballs at him through a biro shaft while he was sitting down the front trying to figure out algorithms? Didn’t you say, ‘I don’t give a stuff,’ when Mr Jones asked why you hadn’t handed in your assignment? You didn’t give much thought to the income you’d need to support your drug habit back then, hmm? But that’s fine. When you’ve sold Nigel’s stereo, you can have a go at Derek’s back window. The catch is a bit dodgy and Derek happens to have just bought a state-of-the-art plasma screen. His DVD player is only three months old and his wife has a few pieces of heirloom jewelery in her top drawer. It’s got sentimental value only, but it might fetch a dollar or two. If not, you can chuck it in the river. Yeah, Jase – the world owes you a living.

            If the do-gooders get hold of you, they’ll tell you you’re a worthwhile human being and you deserve better than the shoddy deal life has handed you.

            You sure do, Jase. So take Nigel’s. He won’t mind – he’s eaten up with guilt for having worked bloody hard to support his family while you had to make do with the pathetic dole payment the government expects you to exist on.

            Life’s a bastard – then you die. Go figure.




Out of the window with Rocco …

            ‘Do you know where your children are now?’ asks the ad in sombre tones.

            This is your signal to get up from in front of the box and check the bedrooms. Pull back all bedcovers to make sure there really are kids underneath and not just a heap of pillows and dirty gym socks. You can no longer afford to be either complacent or trusting. The time has come to put your imagination into overdrive and get with the program.

            Let’s face it, you either have the sort of kids who are never home, or the type who hang around the house all day going, ‘I’m bored.’ Problems of the latter ilk can be quickly and efficiently dealt with if you’re any good with gaffer tape. Be grateful if your child is too unattractive or lacking in charm to have friends or places to go. While they are babies, do your utmost to make them as undesirable as possible. Make it your quest to hide them from any concept of personal hygiene. Nobody ever got into trouble alone with their nose in Moth Collectors’ Weekly smelling of sweaty armpits.

            The kids you have to worry about are the ones who are never home. There’s always that nagging, uneasy feeling the police are going to turn up at any minute to fill you in on their activities. Even the most reasonable, unassuming parents can end up with renegade offspring. These parents will wonder what they’ve done wrong – especially as Madeleine, Sebastian and Felicity are such model children, having a marvellous time at university and being an absolute credit to everybody. So what is the problem with Rocco? Why does he not care about having a Quality Card at high school, and why did he hock his saxophone? Apart from the fact he was given a crap name, you can probably trace it back to Great-Grandpappy Jake, the scourge of the new colony. The rogue gene had to go somewhere, and it’s pure chance Maddy, Seb and Fliss missed out. Rocco, on the other hand, is having the time of his life. There’s a big, wide world out there and he’s really getting off on it.

            Because of this, a group of parents in his general vicinity have started a vigilante group. It’s called ‘Where Are the Neighbourhood Kids – Everyone’s Really Scared’. The members of WANKERS are cooperating with police to make sure all local kiddies are tucked up in bed by 10.30pm. They intend putting a complete stop to incidents of adolescent rape and pillage. Unfortunately, Rocco and his mates are out of their bedroom windows by 10.45pm and in the middle of industrial-strength pillage by 11. There is nothing anyone can do, because there are laws these days against giving your kids a thick ear. Furthermore, there are laws against teachers giving your kids a thick ear too, which leaves you with hordes of thin-eared kids out there on the streets doing exactly as they please.

            This is largely due to the existence of community workers who think you should ‘reason’ with your children. Try this: ‘Rocco, sweetheart … how about having a mug of cocoa and spending the evening doing some revision for your maths exam? You’ll enjoy it far more than going out with your friends to nick a few pension cards and get off your face on tequila and Avgas.’ This suggestion will go down a treat with Rocco. He’ll put the kettle on to boil while he’s changing into his pajamas.

            Reasoning with your kids is not an option. Not once they are old enough to reason with you. Sure, you are welcome to give the ‘reasoning’ option a burl – if you don’t mind the sensation of having a tin of Milo jammed up your orifice.

            In reality, the only option you have is to go along to the Monday night meeting of WANKERS. There, you will be able to bond with like-minded parents who have Roccos of their own. You can share coffee, jam drops and compare Milo-tin scars. You can have a bit of a cry and ask, ‘Where did we go wrong?’ That’s easy. You became a parent.

            So – do you know where your children are now?