Category Archives: performance

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!’



Mopknocker plays to incontinent audience …

When we were kids, which was a very long time ago, my brother and I were taken to Nightcliff Drive-In on Friday nights in the back of the Holden stationwagon. The back seats were folded down and we had blankets and pillows in case we wanted to sleep – and we’d be treated, over our parents’ shoulders, to such classics as The Magnificent Seven, A Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Idiot who forgot to put the speaker back on the pole and drove off with it still attached to the car window. We would have liked horror flicks if they’d had any then – but it seemed to be either westerns or James Bond. Nevertheless, it was great fun altogether and I wish the Hunter Gatherer and I could have taken our own children to a drive-in when they were little. Unlike Dad and the Warrior Queen, we have four children, so the thrills of being hit in the back of the head by soggy chips and errant Maltesers would have been excitingly doubled.

To make up for the fact we didn’t have Freddy Krueger in those days, Dad happily obliged when we got home, staging his very own version of Creepshow for our entertainment and edification.

There were three favourites you might reasonably expect to encounter. Mopknocker, Underbed Fred, or the silent and deadly Curtain Zombie. There was no clue as to what you’d be getting, so complacency was not an option. Lying in bed minding your own business, you’d have just about forgotten there was any imminent danger. Then you’d hear it. A faint tap, tap, tap on the window and there, etched on the other side of the flyscreen, would be a gruesome and frightful visage, leering from beneath its tattered grey, crypt-cobwebbed hair.  Okay, I’m well aware mopheads can’t leer. But you would have had to have been there.

After you’d practically crapped yourself with fear and the Warrior Queen had confiscated the mop from our hilarious and evil pater and told him he was going to bed without any gruel, you could finally go to sleep in the happy knowledge the postman never knocked twice.

Naturally, we’d always be on the alert to Dad’s whereabouts when we returned home from the drive-in – but he got the better of us every time. And just as you were dozing, thinking maybe this time he’d forgotten, there’d be the hideous creak of bedsprings and you’d feel something horrible pushing the mattress up underneath you. Underbed Fred. Or the heavy curtains covering the built-in wardrobe would start to ripple and bulge. The Curtain Zombie was behind them … and ready to emerge and hurl you into the depths of the River Styx.

Years later, the Hunter Gatherer and I were visiting Dad and the WQ. The WQ and I were chatting happily in the kitchen, stuffing ourselves indiscriminately with one sort of foodstuff or another, when we suddenly became aware of faint music. Dad had a large organ (of the Wurlitzer variety), but he and the HG were safely in the living room and there was nobody else in the house but us chickens. An organ was definitely being played, so the WQ and I crept down the darkened hallway to the accompanying strains of a Bach fugue. From the organ’s lair, a pale, ghostly light leaked under the door over the hall carpet.

It was the WQ who pushed open the door. And there it was. Its grey, tattered, crypt-cobwebbed hair fell over its leering face, the arms of its putrid shroud were draped artistically on the keyboard. Undoubtedly, it was readying itself to turn its head and stultify us with its evil, shiteating grin. Mopknocker, in all his glory, was playing Bach.

The WQ says she didn’t pee herself, and I’m not admitting anything myself at this stage. The reason Dad thought it would be funny to drape the mop in his dressing gown and set the Wurlitzer to autoplay was never explained. There was actually not much chance of him giving an explanation, because some of us are still not speaking to him. But the incident has left its legacy. To this day, I can’t walk past the mop section of Food-o-rama without hearing a Bach fugue faintly in the back of my mind and overriding the Barry Manilow musak track. And we don’t have mops in our house. They were banned long ago.

Any relative of Mopknocker is not a friend of mine …


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 …


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 …)


Searching for inspiration and the meaning of life …


I’m sitting here and the screen is just so totally blank. Well, it’s not now, is it, because I’ve just typed this. Every time I type something it looks a bit less blank. Which is rather good, as it happens. I’ll just keep typing stuff until I’ve done enough. And then I won’t have to think about not being able to think of anything to write about.

                Because you have those days, don’t you? Days when you get out of bed totally without inspiration. Days you can’t be bothered putting your feet on the floor just so you can indulge in mind-bending and world-shattering activities such as eating a bit of burnt toast, hanging some washing with tissue fluff all over it or engaging in yet another thrilling attempt to run the gauntlet of Food-o-rama without being tempted by an individual mudcake with chocolate cream filling. Yep, there are days when it all seems a bit futile. And if it’s like that for housewives and unemployment benefit recipients – what’s it like for cabbages and kings?

                Does KRudd, for instance, get out of bed some mornings and think, ‘Sod this for a lark – I don’t feel like running the country today. I might just get my hottie bottle and the latest Stephen King and pop back under the doona.’ Does the Pope think, ‘I can hardly be arsed lifting my hands to cross myself. What’s on telly?’ And does there come a day Bill Gates can’t be bothered opening his wallet to have a look and decides to just shuffle off down to Centrelink instead? Probably. They just don’t tell us about it. They are aware the show must go on.

                You must, therefore, force yourself to look upon each new day as a journey in which you venture out with your thermos full, your pockets sagging with the weight of Hobbit Bread and chocolate buttons, valiantly endeavouring to see it through until the end. Along the way, there will inevitably be obstacles and hurdles. Be man enough to soldier on. Nobody else will notice, but it’s imperative you don’t fail yourself.

                Be assured, bad things will happen. This is a given. Worst case scenario – running out to the mailbox in your nightie to whip out the Kmart catalogue and inadvertently bumping into a couple of Mormons on the way back. Best case scenario – you catch a glimpse of them out of the window first and have time to crawl under the bed. In other words, there are things which can be headed off at the pass – it is not always necessary to plunge headlong into a volcano in order to reach your destination. Take the phone off the hook, lock all the doors and don’t let Mr Boogedy find you.

                And just because you don’t happen to be KRudd or Mr Gates, it doesn’t mean your journey is any less important. Not by any means. Be cheered by this knowledge – without people like you, Ruddy and Billy would not have a reason for existing. There’d be nobody to tax, nobody to impress. Without any fanfare, you serve your purpose well.

                On those uninspired days it is easy to feel life has passed you by. Be of great cheer – it most assuredly hasn’t. There are envelopes out there with your name showing importantly through the little clear windows. There are biscuit companies relying on your patronage. There are authors dying for you to read them and actors waiting for you to watch. Without you, the whole damn place would come to a grinding halt. This is the number one important fact you must grasp. Even on a bad hair day, it could be worse – it could be a bald day. And on a bald day – if you have a head, it’s a bonus. Gratitude is the key.

                In the meantime, I’ve got all these words, but not necessarily in the right order. They just won’t string themselves together. It’s never been more difficult to make something out of nothing. It’s never been more obvious that’s what I’m doing.

                There. I’ve just done a wordcount. There are 726 of them, which should keep my editor very happy.

                Ho hum …

                Ed note: You’re fired.







Please throw your garbage on the floor, Mrs Worthington …

           The whole world seems to have become incredibly rude. There is a lack of manners, a lack of consideration for others and a distinct lack of social skills.

            Freshly minted for the new millennium, there are two glistening new versions of the humble shop assistant. The Grunting Charmer and the Interested Interactive.

The Grunter doesn’t even look you in the eye. Your purchases are flung haphazardly into the plastic bag so dishwashing liquid oozes out and stains the front of your Chow Down magazine, and your change is hurled across the counter. Most of it goes on the floor. Do not expect words of more than one syllable, and be prepared to wait for a price check on the Extra Stiff Multi-Recycled Toilet Tissue. It’s a given. The Grunter is also clueless in the smiles department.

            The Interested Interactive is merely an upmarket version of the old tried and tested ‘Have a Nice Day’ model – it’s only recently been launched on the market, and goes something like this:

            SHE: Well, have you had a lovely weekend?

            YOU: Fine, thanks. (Friendly but alert and slightly alarmed – having expected transaction to have reached its logical conclusion.)

            SHE: Did you do anything exciting, then? (As if you’re going to divulge what Harrison Ford said to you in the privacy of your own mind … NOT.)

            YOU: Er … not particularly. (Even given your distinct lack of cooperation, the Interested Interactive simply can’t let it go at that. There is yet more of the script to deliver.

            SHE: Do you have anything nice planned for THIS weekend? (Excuse me? Like, whose business is this, anyway?)

            Are you expected to actually stand there and document your week for a total stranger, while shoppers behind you wait impatiently to purchase half a dozen bread rolls and a jumbo pack of incontinence pads? Are they desperate to get in there and extol the wonders of their own week? Does this inquisition come in the training manual? Do I get fries with that? Who gives a hoot what I did last week – even I don’t care, and I was the one who did it! The asylum should be called immediately.

            Ruder still are people on masse. The Warrior Queen and I went to a show at the Sydney Entertainment Centre once. Even more spellbinding than the entertainment was the behaviour of the audience. Whoever did the choreography for that one should get an award – the St Vitus Award for Perpetual Motion.

            Firstly there were the latecomers, straggling in at any damn time they pleased. Tripping over people’s feet, blocking the view, apologising loudly as their feet became tangled in your handbag straps and your Maltesers bounced merrily between here and Central Station. What happened to punctuality? It punctuated, that’s what. It’s obviously now merely a suggestion.

            As the evening continued, you could have been forgiven for thinking there were intervals on the quarter hour – people wandered in and out like Farmer Brown’s sheep – for snacks, toilet breaks, navel scratching sessions in the foyer – it was fascinating altogether. They couldn’t bring themselves to sit still for even a couple of hours. It’s the Commercial Break Syndrome. Because they’re used to being able to roam around at will every few minutes in their own homes, viewers are programmed for it. New age bladders have evolved, with the capacity to hold only 15 minutes’ worth of beer and fizzy drink, and stomachs capable of containing half a dozen cheezels before evacuation calls. Then it’s time for the theatrical equivalent of ‘fridge and dunny trip’. You could pick the ABC viewers, though – steadfastly glued to their chairs with handbags full of polite sherbert lemons clutched to their laps. There for the duration – David Attenborough trained.

            Even if you could forgive the fidgety-britches’ behaviour and high pitched screaming during poignant moments, the aftermath resembled a post-holocaustal garbage tip. Aisles were strewn abundantly with drink cups, greasy wrappers and spilled food – a disgusting display of human detritus which made you wonder what the living rooms of Australia must look like, given nobody seemed to have grasped the concept of carrying anything to a bin. The cleaning bill will add to the price of tickets for next time.

            What’s wrong with us? Don’t we respect people, property or the planet anymore? At the end of the day, there’s probably a lot to be said for David Attenborough.

            Some people ought to try watching the ABC …






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.