Category Archives: honesty

Nigel is only a figment of a madwoman’s imagination …

When Rocco’s mother signed up to Facebook, it became apparent she would need friends. It is, after all, a social network. One needs to be social. And if, as in Rocco’s mother’s case, one isn’t particularly – it comes to pass that necessity must be the mother of invention.

Rocco’s mother’s friendless state wouldn’t have mattered a hoot if she hadn’t, in a fit of boredom and curiosity one random afternoon, started to play one of the online games. She was perfectly happy being insular and posting pithy status updates which nobody ever read or cared about. She could have continued this way ad infinitum – and indeed, should have done so with gay abandon.  After a while, however – or a few whiles, anyway – it also became apparent one needed friends and neighbours in order to progress in the games. And at that point, Rocco’s hapless mother lost the plot completely – which was the moment of madness resulting in Nigel’s birth.

There are probably rules and laws governing Facebook which state members have to be bona fide human beings, using their real names and identities and swearing blind they haven’t airbrushed their profile photograph in order to look like Alan Rickman or the female equivalent. Rocco’s mother normally would not break laws even as petty as these – in fact, she would sooner poke her eye out with a rolled up Food-o-rama junk mail catalogue – but because she was aware other people had signed up pets, favourite toys, deceased ancestors and aspidistras in order to appear popular and, most importantly, to progress in games, she decided an imaginary friend was equally as bona fide as anything or anyone else (except, perhaps, Alan Rickman). Which was the root of the problem, really.

For Nigel, who burst into the world as an alleged archaeology student with a wicked and flirtatious nature, quickly evolved as a life force unto himself. Before Rocco’s mother knew it, he was chatting up women old enough to be his grandmother,  making somewhat lewd and unecessary comments to Rocco’s sisters, and running virtually amok in cyberspace – untamed and untrammeled. Before very long, Rocco’s mother realised with desperation she had no idea how to trammel him –  even telling him he didn’t exist was met with loud har har hars and protestations from others, (who should have known better), that they much preferred Nige to Rocco’s mother anyway, and if anyone was to be banished and exterminated, it had better be she, rather than he. Rocco’s mother realised with horror she was actually carrying out online arguments with Nigel. If the first sign of madness is speaking to oneself, which sign of madness is speaking to someone else who is actually oneself? The line between insanity and idiocy was becoming alarmingly blurred. While Rocco’s mother dug herself deeper into a mire of unreality, Rocco flourished and grew, gaining momentum, friends and admirers by the minute. It seemed he could not put a foot wrong, while Rocco’s mother appeared more bitter and twisted by the day, harassing and taunting Nigel in order to make him disappear up his own fake curriculum vitae.

Maybe the cruelest cut of all was the fact Nigel was far better at the online Facebook games than Rocco’s mother. His cafe was flooded with happy customers even when his shambolic cooking efforts left his counters empty and his stoves dirty. His YoVille houses were quirky and disgustingly filthy and fun to drop in on. Strangers requested Nigel’s friendship and were happy to send him farm animals, scented candles for his spaceship and chicken pot pies for his cafe. Rocco’s mother has warned Nigel he is absolutely NOT permitted to engage in online dalliance of any type whatsoever with random strangers. He has been told he must be completely honest with anyone who asks – and must confess to being merely a figment of a middle-aged woman’s imagination. Rocco’s mother is frightened she might log in one morning and find Nige has spent the night behaving in a most laddish manner, leaving broken hearts and shattered reputations in his wake. It keeps her awake at night, wondering what he’s doing while she’s sleeping.

The moral of this story is that it’s far, far better to have no friends at all. And that evil having been done, cannot easily be undone. And Rocco’s mother is becoming disturbingly aware she might find Nigel is drawn in indelible ink – and that she herself might not exist at all …

.oOo.

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The effect of Celebrity Schadenfreude on having a life …

A long time ago someone pointed out the amount of times ‘I’ and ‘me’ appeared in something I had written. In the nicest possible way, they proceeded to inform me the world was NOT all about me – and that I should probably get over myself. Well, charming. What, I pondered, could possibly be more important than moi? What could be more delicious than wallowing in my own perceived ills or doing some self-indulgent navel gazing?  In those days, not a lot. But now, for our edification and wonderment, we have Advanced Celebrity Schadenfreude 101.

It is now possible to gaze at the navels of others and watch them self-destruct. The media licks its lips in glee as the Britneys, Lindsays and Parises (Parisi? Parasites?) hurl themselves, sans knickers, from cars and vomit into other people’s designer handbags.  They also, with gay abandon, hurl themselves in and out of other people’s beds and in and out of rehab centres. The trash magazines have a field day. If it’s a slow news week for celebrity misadventure, they make something up. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so appallingly sad.

For a start, I have no idea who is buying this stuff. It’s not even good fiction. I can’t believe there are people out there going ‘tut tut’ because some actress had a baby last week and is actually still … dare we say it … FAT. Or that a flabby woman in Dubbo, attired in grubby pink towelling trackie dacks, has the gall to shake her head because a soapie starlet dared to shop for Rice Bubbles at her local Food-o-rama with bed-hair and no bra. And wearing thongs. What is with the grannies knitting booties for celebrity offspring, when surely they’re aware it will all be donated to charity? Why are we caring what these vacuous nobodies (that would be the celebrities, not the grannies) get up to? Do we not have lives of our own? Maybe we like to be reminded we’re all human, and therefore equally flawed. If a rock star trashes an hotel room and urinates in the elevator on his way out to ravish a pack of 14-year-old groupies … well, surely that’s not so different to Uncle Bazza staggering down his weed-choked driveway with his sneakers covered in regurgitated kabab and his willy hanging out after a night on the turps? All the same under the skin, right?

Why do we want to see where these people are living, what they’re driving, where they’re going for holidays? It matters not a hoot. But somehow, the great unwashed delight in the spectator sport of Other People’s Lives. For some reason, the wealthier and more successful someone becomes, the more they are hated and reviled. The more the public wants to see them fall. A long way, if possible – into a prison cell or straitjacket, even better. Why are we not happy for someone who’s ‘made it’? Why do we not clap our hands and shout ‘Goodo!’ as the rich get richer and we can’t be arsed moving ourselves into better lives and circumstances?

Even seeing the covers of trash mags screaming out from the rack next to the checkout counter makes me wonder whether the authors of such garbage can sleep at nights. How can paps with telephoto lenses feel pleased with themselves as they cling to the sides of buildings in order to grab blurred images of sports stars chowing down on greedyburgers and knocking back alcoholic beverages in the privacy of their own apartments? There seems to be a whole industry out there, hell-bent on poking its snoz into the personal lives of others and taking a swipe at them. Even current affairs presenters foam at the mouth with delight as yet another public figure cheats on its spouse or shoplifts a Mars Bar.

Imagine for a moment how it would feel to be similarly targeted – unable to leave the house for fear of appearing on next week’s cover of ‘Sucked In’ with grubby toenails and a nipple poking out? Surely, if you’re a performer, the general public only has the right to criticise your performance if they’ve actually paid for tickets to see it? Would it be worth giving up rights to having a life?

But hark! There’s a rustle in the hedgerow once again, and it looks like I’m confined to the house for the day. Looks like the world IS all about me after all – and everybody else wants a piece of it …

.oOo.

Lies, excuses and are you taking the piss …

We start making excuses the minute we’re born. And why not? Being born is not our fault. It’s the consequence of someone else’s actions. Therefore, nothing we do after this point is directly our fault – and don’t we know it!

Kids discover pretty quickly you can blame the dog for the wet patch on the carpet or the mutilated copy of Chow Down which your Mum hasn’t read yet. It might be harder to explain the crayon marks on the walls, but if you have a dog with attitude you can fake it.

 It’s wise to remember – only ever admit to that which might bring praise upon you. This is why fathers say, ‘YOUR son’ when Rocco is expelled from school and ‘MY son’ when he’s opening the batting for Straya.

If you’re really intuitive you will be able to read between the lines of just about any excuse and be able to substitute the correct information automatically. To start you off on the road to sniffing out honesty and integrity amongst your family, friends and colleagues, here are some hints for use when dealing with various demographics.

Schoolkids – ‘The dog ate my homework.’ If you are a teacher there’s no way you can swallow this. The dog didn’t, either. The correct information is; ‘I didn’t do my homework because I was playing Rabid Hamsters from Zeron. I was on Level 10 and couldn’t give an arse about your poxy algorithms. There is every probability I won’t ever give an arse, so please don’t ask again.’

Workmate – ‘The alarm clock didn’t go off.’ Truth: ‘Last night I was SO out of it. Got home around 5am and couldn’t stop throwing up. I’ve got this itchy rash and feel crook as. I’ll have some coffee and a fag before I go to the clinic.  I haven’t the faintest idea who I woke up with either. He was still unconscious when I left and his head was in a brown paper bag.’

Housewives – ‘I’ve got a headache.’ This is a given. It doesn’t even matter what the truth is – men haven’t the remotest business arguing with it.

Politicians – ‘At the end of the day …’ Stop right there. Everybody knows at the end of the day the truth won’t even linger momentarily in the realms of probability – or even in the same stratosphere. The only decent out for these people is to keep their mouths shut, never say anything again and pray they can collect humungous superannuation early and move to a country where nobody has ever heard of them and they can start a new life. Preferably under witness protection.

Shop assistants – ‘We’ve only got what you can see on the shelves.’ This is SO crap. They’ve got other stuff too, in those big drawers down the bottom. Check them out yourself next time. There is even more stuff out the back, probably in 30 different colours and sizes – but there’s no way they’re going to go look for it. It says in the induction manual the correct response to most queries is, ‘We’ve only got what you can see on the shelves,’ and they’re sticking to it with murderous tenacity. Doing more would be showing initiative. Having initiative would mean they’d be employed as rocket scientists and you wouldn’t have had to wrangle with them in the underwear aisle of Fatfittings in the first place.

Used car salesmen – ‘It’s a tidy little unit.’ Which part? The rear passenger ashtray? A tidy little unit means the detailer did a brilliant job. The mud has been hosed out of the wheelguards and there is fresh gaffer tape over the rips in the upholstery. Don’t you dare go there.

Real estate agent – ‘It’s a nice, quiet neighbourhood.’ Yep. Lucky your inspection is during school hours. He’s hoping the hell you’ll hurry up and check the place out before the 2pm booze bus from the local pub drops off the old dears in nubbly orange cardigans who’ve been out playing the pokies and getting off their faces on gin and lemonade. And Lord help him if the paddy wagon turns up with the tossers from No.9 who’ve been away on weekend detention.

Now you’ll have to excuse me. I’m doing lunch at the Savoy and the plane leaves for London at 3pm. Not.

But I do have to check in with my parole officer and work out who the hell is lying on my bedroom floor with his head in a brown paper bag.

.oOo.

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?

.oOo.