Category Archives: men

Nothing will ever have a place anywhere any more …

There is a gaping hole in the kitchen of Rocco’s mother – where the drawers used to be. Whether they will ever go there again is questionable, and Rocco’s mother is forced to gaze in wonder (and maybe even, if she cares to admit it, a little bit of annoyance), at the pile of plastic bags flung in the corner which contain the once neatly arranged ex-contents of the ghosts of drawers past. The contents of the cutlery drawer are in their little compartmentalised tray thingie on the kitchen table. For convenience. They’d like to be in a drawer, as would the biscuit cutters, melon baller, bicycle repair kits and random crap – but there is not one available in which for them to be.

For Rocco, in a fit of goodwill and benevolence, decided to commit his good deed for the year and replace the faulty drawer runners while his parents were away on Boxing Day. The drawers had been malfunctioning for quite some time – most of the little ball bearings having escaped and rolled to places unknown – and on the one occasion the Hunter Gatherer had attempted to purchase new runners, he’d discovered – alas – the correct size and type were no longer available. Thus, things trundled along in an unsatisfactory manner for several years – until Rocco, in absentia parentis, decided to get it sorted for once and for all.

The first Rocco’s mother knew about this was while she was waiting, in pleasant and indulgent anticipation, for her dinner to arrive at her table in the Upper WoopWoop Golf Club, where the Hunter Gatherer had taken her for tea. A txt msg came through – not quite like manna from heaven, but surprising nonetheless  – which stated, in Rocco’s usual eloquent fashion, that he’d ‘… trd to fx kchn drws and f*kd thm. Sorry :(.’

Rocco’s mother was touched. She thought it was sweet of Rocco to have wanted to indulge in household repairs and maintenance at Casa Shambolic – which has, indeed, rather a long list of impending projects to be tackled. She txtd back – using lots and lots of words and proper punctuation and upper case letters for appropriate nouns even – because naturally Rocco’s mother cannot allow herself to abbrv8  or lwr her stndrds in any way. She told Rocco how lovely it was that he’d attempted the project – and assured him he was not to worry at all.

At almost the precise time his parents arrived home after their two days away, Rocco departed on his own short holiday – assuring his mother as he passed her swiftly on the verandah he would attend to the drawer problem on his return, as he would have to construct new drawers to accommodate the updated runners. Rocco’s mother was happy (allegedly, anyway) to wait a few days. Given that the gaping hole in the kitchen cupboards would have been evident even to Blind Freddy, encapsulated within a wombat trundling its way through her kitchen in the middle of a dark night after hell had frozen over, she was happy in the knowledge Rocco would not ever be able to forget the job had not been completed. Every morning when he wanted his lunchwrap and coloured Zippy bags for his sarnie, he would be forced to rummage in the plastic bags in the corner, as was she. He would be mightily peeved by this, and would surely move to complete the job, Godspeed.

Theoretically, this seemed like a very goodly thing. In reality, however, Rocco’s mother is less than impressed with the status quo. Today is January 10, and there is still a gaping hole in the kitchen of Rocco’s mother. She does not wish to complicate things by suggesting the situation move to a more convenient level, so she has taken to placing various object d’art in the cavity each night before going to bed – in the hope Rocco will be shocked and awed into taking appropriate remedial action. On one particular morning, he was greeted by a Mexican garden gnome. It obviously didn’t !hola! quite loudly enough, as Rocco failed to remark on it. Neither did he seem to notice the large watermelon, the chamberpot or the 10kg of very excellent and quality hoochy-kooch in the boogie board cover.  Which probably wasn’t all that surprising, seeing as even customs officials miss that one.

Rocco’s mother is not quite sure which course of action to take next. Maybe tomorrow morning she will leap from the cavity in person, wild and demented in her horrid velveteen dressing gown and frightening hair. In which case, Rocco will probably say, ‘Seeing as you’re in the kitchen, woman – bake me some cake!’

And Rocco’s mother will say … ‘Boo!’



In the room with an elephant called Victa …

This would be funny if it wasn’t a bit of a worry.  After the fortnight we’ve had, I was hanging out for a bit of a laugh – and hilarious as it is, it probably signifies the crumbling of life as we thought we knew it.

The saga of the leaking shower troubles at Casa Shambolic is another story in itself, so we won’t go there at the moment. Suffice to say, after nearly 30 years of hit’n’miss child rearing, mild domestic biffo and general wear and tear, there are bound to be maintenance issues. But one thing we’ve always been relatively happy about amidst the general chaos, is that we have a nice garden. It’s large and shady and ferny and palmy – and has two nice water features and a birdbath as well as a pool and gazebo. What it doesn’t have at the moment is a freshly mown lawn – and it’s unlikely to have one in the near future, due to the Hunter Gatherer eclipsing me this week (hurray!) on the steady downward spiral into dementia. May well the Rt Honourables roll their eyes at me – I’m proud to say I’m verging on boringly sane this week in comparison to their father. And let’s face it, one of us has to uphold some vague threads of lucidity or the whole partnership is destined for the nuthouse faster than a clockwork turd up a drainpipe.

Last Sunday, the HG decided it was time to mow the lawn, and pulled out the trusty Victa. Unfortunately for him (and the rest of the universe), the pull cord thingie broke off on his second or third attempt. Quelle fromage and quite a few f-bombs. He informed me he had loaded the offending piece of crap into the back of the ute and would take it to the mower place during his lunch hour on Monday to be repaired and serviced. As you do.

On Tuesday, the HG came home at lunchtime and mumbled something about dropping in to the repair place to pick up the lawnwhanger  on his way back to work – at which point I suggested it might be a better idea to phone them first, bearing in mind parking problems, etc. The little light bulb pinged over the HG’s head and he dialled them up. The girlie at the other end asked him for his name and had him spell it twice. Then she told him she’d go and ask somebody whether the mower was ready or not. After a fairly long time – during which we had coffee – the very obliging girlie came back on the line and informed the HG the mower wasn’t ready – but he should phone back in a couple of days, please. Phew. Legitimate excuse to not mow lawn that afternoon – and another cup of coffee, please, this time with cheesy toast.

Well, every second Tuesday is bigshopping day, so I set out that evening to wander lonely as a cloud around Food-o-rama.  There weren’t any daffodils, sadly, but imagine my surprise on returning to the car when I lifted the tailgate to hoik the grocery bags in and came face to face with … a lawnmower. ‘Good,’ I thought. ‘The mower place must have phoned the HG during the afternoon to come get it.’

Back at home, the HG appeared like the angel he is, illuminated by the verandah light, to help me bring the shopping in. Naturally, I commented on how efficient the mower place had been after he’d phoned them at lunchtime. He looked puzzled (as well he might) – and when I opened the back of the ute, looked rather as you would if you’d seen a three-headed monkey. ‘What’s THAT doing there …?’

It turned out he’d never even dropped it off in the first place. Mind you, it took a bit of thinking about it, and retracing his steps, and wondering who he was and what he’d been put on earth for anyway.  And thinking back, I have to give points to the girlie on the phone, who didn’t just come out and admit they didn’t have our mower on their premises at all but who was obviously thinking outside the square, assumed her employer had misplaced our property and tried valiantly to buy him some time. What a woman!

Ergo, this weekend we are genuinely waiting for the lawnmower to be fixed. Alas, poor Victa. I obviously didn’t know him as well as I thought I did …


Let sleeping dogs have really nice sheets …

I bought some new sheets yesterday, and they are very delicious indeed. Egyptian cotton with 400 thread count in a dark coffee colour.  Lying in them, I feel like Lady Muck. The Hunter Gatherer feels like Lord Muck. This is the point at which violins should play and we should run amok – but two Mucks don’t a mickle make. Or something of that ilk. The point is, there are not many things nicer than getting into deliciously fresh sheets.

The first deliciously fresh sheets we ever owned  ($10 from Big W with a matching quilt cover and two pillowcases … bargain!) – were installed on a mattress on the floor of a little rented cottage. In those days, that was what you did. None of this credit card stuff, where you furnish your first home with all the latest crap and scorn offers of cast-off furniture from eager friends and relatives who want to offload some junk. If you were lucky enough to own more than one set of sheets, the other ones were hung in the windows while you saved up for curtains. Nobody has sheets hanging in their windows anymore because it’s trendy to be in debt to Curtains-R-Us, Tellies-R-Huge and Chairs-R-4-Sitting-On.  Where’s the fun in that?

After a few weeks of hauling ourselves from the floor in the mornings, someone offered us a bed. It was marvellously ancient and past it, and the spring base had sprung, so our trusty mattress was sucked into trenchy goodness in the middle. This was very cosy for the most part and in the depths of winter, but not so ha-ha when you happened to be pissed off with the other party. You cannot lower your guard and fall asleep because you are hanging on to the edge of the mattress like grim death in order to not roll backwards and actually bump into the offending somebody and inadvertently give the impression you are, in fact, pleased with them. In the morning, your fingers are frozen into claws and you have to explain to puzzled colleagues why you have turned up for work resembling an exhausted, and not very benevolent, bird of prey.

There followed the waterbed age of the 80s, where nobody told you it was a bad idea unless both parties had identical metabolisms. Being a cold blooded reptilian person, I’d turn my side up to Hello Sailor, while the HG preferred Mr Whippy. When I had my way, you could just about smell the barbequing flesh as we dropped into a casserolesque coma there was possibly no coming out of – and on nights when the HG triumphed, I’d wake feeling as if I’d spent a night naked on the concrete car park of Food-o-rama. Except at least they have trees and not polar bears.

Beds have come and gone through the revolving door of our boudoir since then, and dozens of sheets have ended up in the garage rag pile. We’ve gone through florals, stripes, patterned and flannelette (much hated by the HG and banned forever) – and are now in the non-frivolous and predictable Age of Plain. Hopefully there won’t be too many more beds – but if the current model should fail, there are now more choices on offer than the wonders of the breakfast menu at Mickey D’s.

Yep, they’ve thought of everything these days and you can now purchase an ensemble which should just about suit everybody. The ideal bed zippers up the middle, which means you and your partner can choose the side that suits you – hard/soft/with-or-without gangnails – and the two sides are zippered together like so – resulting in two incredibly contented people who know exactly which side their bed is buttered on. Or zippered to, as the case may be.

Clinging desperately to the side with your ageing talons is now a thing of the past. When wishing to remain incommunicado, you merely unzip the beds, haul your half to another room/house/ suburb/continent – and the other half of the equation will immediately realise there is a possibility he has done something to trouble you and he had better be very, very sorry or else. All this, without you even having to raise your voice.

Bear in mind, however, this works both ways. You might just come home one night to find he’s zippered his half to someone else’s entirely. You can only hope she has talons much, much more spiteful than yours …


Loneliness of the long distance shed man …

Look in a man’s shed and his whole life flashes before you. His triumphs, his experimentation and his spectacular failures. From the wheels off his first trike to the latest high-tech gizmo for blowing leaves off the driveway – it’s all there. And every little nut and bolt tells a story.

Why do men keep jam jars full of rusted nails and screws? They’re never going to use them. When they start a new project they rub their hands together with glee and head straight down to Bunnings to proudly acquire a box of shiny new ones. This is part of the fun of home-handymanism. They wouldn’t dream of using some old 1940s nails on their new matching-shelf-and-whatnot-extender. Or on anything else, for that matter.

Every now and then, when there’s nothing to watch on the telly and everyone’s on his back, a dedicated Shed Man will give his things a ‘clear out’.  This means the little jars of nails and screws get shuffled around on the shelf. It’s Shed Man’s version of getting it sorted. Sometimes the jars get new sticky labels which say ‘nails’ and ‘screws’. But they never get thrown out. A real legitimate Shed Man will have at least 100 little jars. These used to hold the baby food consumed by his first child. That child now has children of his own.

There will also be tins of paint. None of these are any good because they dried up in 1963. There is half an inch of rubberised gloop in the bottom of each. Full of rust specks. You also have to bear in mind the sad truth nobody will ever want to paint anything Psycho Orange again – even though Shed Man  is just waiting for the day.

Sometimes, there are car parts. They will never see the inside of another car – unless it’s on their way to the tip, which it won’t be. Shed Man keeps them in case he bumps into someone at Bunnings one day who just happens to be looking for a crankshaft for a 1934 Crapmobile. Then he’ll be able to say he has one.

There are jars of things which even Shed Man himself won’t be able to identify. He won’t be able to tell you where he got them, but you can guess. They have been passed down through his own family – from Neanderthal Shed Man to Pre-War Shed Man. In turn, he’ll pass them to your son. Or your daughter’s hapless husband. This is why you never find jars of strange objects if you go scavenging at the tip.

The remains of every toaster you’ve ever blown up will be somewhere in that shed. Remember how he took it out there that morning when the raisin bread caused it to fizz and spark and ignite the Psycho Orange curtains? Sadly, it never came back. That incident, unhappily for Shed Man, culminated in a trip to Kmart instead. Ditto the dilemma with the electric jug, hair dryer and a range of battery operated kids’ toys which you’ll find in the Too Hard Basket under the rear workbench.

Be honest, though – you didn’t want all that stuff back, did you? They had little labels glued on them which said ‘Must only be opened by a qualified repairman.’ It’s the sign of a dedicated Shed Man that he thinks he is one.

Gone are the good old days when he could pop down to NostalgiaWorld and buy a new element for that jug. He could proudly screw it in and bear it back, triumphant, to the kitchen for the little woman to sigh over. His family relied on him to be Mr Fixit.

The disposable age has seen the demise of the effective Shed Man. Appliances have a life span of a couple of years before it’s time for that trip to Kmart again. On any given Saturday morning, the aisles are bursting with despondent Shed Men, replacing toasters, jugs and clock radios and shuffling along behind their womenfolk bearing a sense of personal failure.

Which is a right shame. Your lovely Shed Man has enough stuff at home in that shed to build a 1934 Crapmobile from scratch. And quite possibly just enough paint to finish it off with two coats of rust-flecked Psycho Orange …



Not all heroes have wobbly bits …

            All in all, it’s a bit worrying – this ‘sports hero’ business. What’s so heroic about working up a sweat and wearing bodysuits? (asks she who can’t).

            Heroes in the old days – before political correctness caused men to slam doors in your face and expect you to pay for your own large fries at McDonald’s – used to save damsels in distress and slay the odd offensive dragon. Heroes are firemen, rescue workers and the man in the street who nonchalantly climbs a tree to bring down your cat – which was chased up there by unthinking sports heroes, pounding up and down the street in tight lycra doing their beastly training.

            Sports people are doing what they love doing most. Which, in the main, is working up a sweat and wearing revealing stretchy things. If they happen to work up a sweat in a brand name stretchy thing, they get sponsored to do it. If they have wobbly bits, they get to be centrefolds. And at the end of the day, they can say they’re ‘doing it for Straya’. Good one. Like the rest of us are doing whatever we do for the sheer hell of anonymity and the key to the executive washroom. Well, hoot-a-toot-toot.

            What I’d like to see is a bit of equity here. Recognition for everyone else who’s doing what they love doing most. Arts Heroes. Writing Heroes. Air time on prime time telly  and sponsors for paper, canvas and those really nice fountain pens with ergonomic grips. Or how about a tickertape parade for Gardening Heroes – men who dare to weed under your grevilleas without wearing gloves. Then there are those champions of industry, Office Heroes – who bring their own biros, don’t make personal phone calls from work and go home with their bladders straining like the Hindenberg because they refuse to let it rip during production time.

            When the rubber hits the road, most heroic acts have absolutely nothing to do with running tracks or swimming pools. Indeed, often heroes are right there under your nose in your very own home – purveyors of unselfish acts which give pleasure to other people in the immediate vicinity. For instance:

            . Remote Control Heroes – Men who refrain from clicking over to another channel when you’re getting all excited about the outcome of a Sara Lee commercial.

            . Toilet Roll Heroes – Skilled in the dying art of unwrapping a new one, putting it on the little wooden roller, removing and disposing of the old one. (Note: This is an extremely rare genus – possibly extinct, in the event it ever existed in the first place).

            . Grocery Heroes – Men who come shopping with you and pick good stuff.

            . Silent Heroes – Men who don’t tell you how you look when you have PMT.

            . Blissfully Unaware Heroes – Men who haven’t the faintest idea you have PMT.

             These types of heroes may look good in a tight lycra thingy … or they may not. Who cares? They can be a cross between Albert Steptoe and Bob Carr for all I care. I’m too old to give a hoot about wobbly bits, and the smell of sweat is only an aphrodisiac if it accompanies a man who’s just hauled 10 kilos of chocolate all the way from Belgium.

            Those of us without a sporting bent don’t go on telly crying, ‘Watch me, watch me!’ as we flick our way lustfully through our exotically illustrated cookery porn and tuck into pecan Danish.

            Not likely. We’re confident enough in our own ability that we can sit quietly back in our overstuffed chairs, resting our choice of literature on our overstuffed tummies – happy in the knowledge somebody else is out there, bravely and heroically ‘doing it for Straya’ …

            Go, you good things! (Love your work …)



            What a work of art is the computer.

            You can type whatever you damn well please on that screen – then, if it’s not absolutely to your liking, you can highlight the text and press the ‘delete’ button. Great, eh? Like playing God. All clean and ready to start again. And while you’re waiting to think of something else to put on the screen, you can watch your screensaver. If you have a really nice one, this will fill in an hour or two and is nearly as good as meditation. Though not quite as good as medication. Whatever, it passes the time before you have to actually do something.

            In the beginning, computers were supposed to do great things for productivity in offices. The idea was, you could sack the typing pool and just have a couple of word processors. This would have been perfectly fine if such things as email and the internet hadn’t entered the equation. Once they did, workplaces became fun – and productivity … well, a thing of the past, really.

            All of a sudden, Nigel in Accounts found he could carry on an interesting little thing with Kaylene in Stores. He’d never really been brave enough to get into a bit of banter and/or innuendo when he bumped into her at the coffee machine. And she wasn’t the type to think up witty, throwaway comebacks off the top of her head. The office email system made all the difference to Nigel and Kaylene – they positively bloomed. It didn’t matter a hoot she was married to Jeff, manager of the local Foodplus – she bought new lipstick and started to look forward to Wednesdays, which were pretty quiet in Accounts and gave Nigel plenty of time for a bit of online dalliance.

            Harold in Marketing discovered chat lines back in August, and hasn’t surfaced since. Nobody noticed, because they hadn’t noticed he was there in the first place. Due to the sad fact he hadn’t had much luck with the talent around the office (especially not Tanya with the pneumatic breasts or Carla, who had decided not to waste herself on anyone without at least a medical degree or a very red Ferrari), Harold signed on as ‘Clint’ and inadvertently gave the impression he was a fighter pilot. Because so many girlies are clamouring to meet him in the flesh, Clint finds he is inconveniently posted to Venezuela tiresomely often – or other trouble spots which need someone of his calibre. Naturally, he has never mentioned eczema, or the grubby piece of Elastoplast twisted around the right-hand arm of his bifocals. And nobody has ever asked. The people he corresponds with, including Alyce the actress (who is really Shazza, a dental assistant from Moree), are too busy hiding their own defects without being particularly interested in ferreting out his.

            Down in Advertising, Malcolm and Derek are vying to be the first to get to the last level of Doom. They were hired for their creative talent, with which they are considerably blessed. Derek has managed to gain an extra 50,000 bonus points by typing in a special code he downloaded from a cheatline in America. Malcolm is working on it – he has considered wiping Derek’s hard drive next time he goes home early. Neither Malcolm nor Derek have done very much work on the new layout for the Stretchalot Condoms account, and the client is getting understandably tetchy.

            In the meantime, Managing Director Neville discovered a terrific little website called ‘Norwegian Night Nurses Do Dubbo’. After that, things were never quite the same around the executive washroom. Exactly what the Nordic Nightingales got up to at Western Plains Zoo is not our business – but they did it again and again, courtesy of Please do not attempt to log on to this site in the privacy of your own home. It is not for the fainthearted, or children, especially.

            With all this fun stuff going down, productivity is heading for extinction in a handbasket. It’s not a happening thing. The manager of Stretchalot Condoms is not going to get the advertising for his products any time soon – but what the hell – everyone’s far too busy to have much call for them. J




Waiting for Mr Fixit …

            There are many really scary things in this life. Close to the top of the list is having to face the ghastly fact you are in need of a repairman. This is not because they are not perfectly nice people. It’s because I don’t know how to handle them.

            The washing machine has been making a really impressive grinding noise for some time now. I’ve been ignoring it, hoping it would change its mind. Not. There is obviously something causing a bit of a problem in the whatsit – a bra wire or a chewed up sock.

            The real problem is not what is stuck in the whatsit; it’s what to do about getting it sorted. Along with taking out the garbage, this type of transaction should come within the boundaries of ‘secret men’s business’. The bloke phones the repairman, says, ‘Mate – the Whirlpool’s stuffed.’ The repairman says he’ll get around to it. Some months later, maybe he does. These things can’t be rushed.

            There is no way a woman should have to do the phoning. Not unless she has a hankering for wanting to be made to feel stupid. The repairman will ask her what the problem seems to be. There will be a silence in which she can hear Juicy Fruit languidly popping. She will innocently tell him the machine is making a funny noise. There will be a longer silence in which he digests this gem of technical information and she is treated to the sound of him scratching his testicles. He will then ask what the noise sounds like. She will say, ‘Er … like maybe a bra wire.’ She will then hear him telling his mates, who are lurking in the background drinking Milo out of chipped and greasy mugs. There will be much hooting and muffled laughter, and the word ‘doofus’ bandied about.

            When and if he arrives, make absolutely sure you are not in your nightie. He will think you are a bored housewife who calls repairmen in purely to seduce them. He will think this even if he is 65 years old and his stomach is hanging to his knees. He will think this even if you are Kylie Minogue. It will not occur to him you are in your nightie because he was supposed to be coming three days ago at 10.30am and you had given up on him. Imagining he is Harrison Ford is the nature of the beast. He probably has a housewife register he shares with fellow repairmen. You get one star if you offer a cup of coffee, two stars if you put a biscuit on the saucer and God help the three star Momma.

            Taking your car to be serviced is another minefield. Mechanics KNOW women are stupid. They read it in the manual. It is imperative you don’t tell him there’s a problem with your thingamajig, or the light on the whatnot isn’t coming on. When he asks what’s wrong, tell him firmly it’s his job to find out. Tell him you are on your way to the airport for a conference in LA on quantum physics and you don’t have time to explain stuff he should know anyway. Look down your nose. Be careful not to slip in the pool of sump oil on your way out – it spoils the effect of your otherwise cool presentation if you have a slick of SuperRev up the back of your designer knickers. When you get charged three times as much as the job was worth, you’ll probably kick yourself, realising how much you would have saved if you’d just come clean and told him the whatnot sounded blocked.

            Clearly, what is needed are more female repairpeople. You can comfortably tell them about the bra wire or the thingamajig, safe in the knowledge they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. When they turn up, you can make coffee (the espresso kind), break out the Cheez Nibblies and have a good old natter in your Simpsons pyjamas.

            When she’s extracted the sock from the whatsit, she’ll even mop up the greasy water that leaked out over the laundry floor and make sure there aren’t any little nuts and bolts left over. There’ll probably be time for a nice glass of chardonnay.

            You’d be a right nuffnuff to call a man in to do a woman’s work!