Category Archives: rudeness

Hear Emily say …

Flygirl and Roo have just had a few days at Casa Shambolic with the desired effect. They managed to well and truly whup Rocco’s WiiFit records into oblivion, amid much hilarity and loud hallelujahs which went not very gently into that good night. Because such dedication and endurance had been selflessly exhibited, Rocco’s mother is now hesitant to tell the girls their hard-won records no longer stand – and because of the weather and being ravaged by the horrendities (which isn’t a word but certainly should be) of menopausal symptoms, she has not yet gone into bat on their behalf and wreaked appropriate vengeance. She promises she will – fear not. When she feels less likely to kill someone.

On one of the days the girls were down, Rocco’s mother decided a beach day with fish’n’chips would be a nice idea. So  Flygirl suctioned her GPS thingie onto the windscreen to give it a test run. Not that the Hunter Gatherer didn’t know where he was going – and looking back, it was probably a mistake not to factor into the device his intention to make a pitstop at Tools’R’Crap to purchase a length of PVC pipe on the way. Had he done this, the default navigator – who happened to be a rough, bogan trollop called Shazza – might not have become quite so bolshie and pissed off. Finally, with Shazza muttering a rather insolent ‘Strewth!’ as the HG gamely ignored her third instruction to take the second exit at the roundabout and proceed ever onward into epic adventure, it became obvious things were going to get a bit nasty.

The other occupants of the vehicle were a little worried Shazza might take it upon herself to exact revenge by navigating them spitefully into the river – so while the HG was making the pipe purchase, a whispered discussion was had, which resulted in Flygirl consulting the navigator option menu and finding a nice Englishwoman called Emily. It was decided Emily would be far more tolerant and maybe not as prone to hissy fits – so the tribe proceeded beachwards feeling ever so much more confident indeed – and with room for a pony.

Emily was extremely ladylike and polite. Indeed, after assisting in manoeuvring the car expertly onto the highway, she shut up completely for the next 20km. The occupants of the car sat in expectation, waiting for her to instruct them further – or even comment on the weather (pleasant), the rather ordinary condition of the roads (woeful) or her plans for a weekend with a hot Rastafarian toyboy, even. It occurred to Rocco’s mother there should be a Have-a-Chat option, whereby you could indulge in exciting and illuminating conversation with your navigator on long and boring trips where you had no passengers – or even where you did have passengers, but they were crap and boring. Rocco’s mother was fairly sure Shazza, had she still been entrusted with the directional activities, would have had plenty to say and a rather colourful way of saying it – but Emily had evidently turned away from the business at hand and was probably reaching for the cucumber sarnies and plopping another clod of clotted cream languidly on to her scones.

Half a dozen kilometres from the turnoff, Emily brushed the final scone crumbs from her lips with her white linen napkin and informed the HG he should, ‘turn LEFT at Nearly-There-Now-Blinky Road and proceed for 17km.’ There was mass excitement from the passengers and calls of, ‘Way to go!’ and ‘Good on yer, Em!’ Emily demurely ignored both the praise and hilarity, being very well bred and obviously knowing it was not done to fraternise with the driver and his tribe of yobs. She was probably wondering at that stage how many Rastafarians she’d have to sleep with in order to get a job in a nice car which did not have the detritus of other jaunts scattered in the passenger-side footwell, and which had a nicer class of passenger altogether.  

The fish’n’chips were demolished down at the water’s edge. Nobody would have dared eat them in the car – it was obvious Emily would have disapproved enormously of greasy-fingered gluttony and random squirts of lemon juice spattering the windscreen and dashboard.

Shazza, on the other hand, would have probably ordered a Chiko Roll to go with it.



Rocco’s mother shops by appointment only …

Rocco’s mother is feeling a bit maverick today. She was booted out of Food-o-rama last night, and that’s a pretty big thing. Rocco’s mother is the type of person who would never dare take more than eight items through the eight-items-or-die checkout. She’d hate to upset anyone or be accused of cheating. If she happens to have nine or ten items, she puts a couple of them in her wellies. Joking. She really puts a couple of them down her knickers. Also joking.

But I digress. Rocco’s mother had a lovely week in Darwin and flew home yesterday morning – a four hour flight. Followed by a two hour train journey and another couple of hours on a bus because – what’s new – there was trackwork happening and the train couldn’t go all the way, blah, blah, blah. Whatever. Anyway, on finally reaching home, it was necessary to purchase several items which Rocco (who had been at home alone) had run out of, and which were necessary for the humane survival of his parents. Such as bread and milk. Therefore, Rocco’s mother set off for Food-o-rama with her little list. Which she wouldn’t be able to read when she got there anyway because she hadn’t remembered to take her glasses. And, in fact, she hadn’t actually remembered to take the list either.

Food-o-rama was nice and empty, so Rocco’s mother pottered around in the fluorescent quietness, thinking nothing in particular and winding down. She might even have been singing. And doing little dancing things, even, because she was happy. At the cheese fridge, a cheerless pudding of a girl was restocking, and gave Rocco’s mother a baleful glare – not moving across to allow her to choose cheese. Or select stilton. Pick parmesan. Buy brie. Whatever. Rocco’s mother settled for plasticated slices and moved on. She might have still been singing – or at least emitting a cheerful little hum – at this stage.

As Rocco’s mother started up the bread aisle, a gargantuan troll in a Food-o-rama tunic came bearing down upon her. ‘Madam,’ she said, puffed up with self-importance and the aftermath of consuming too much roadkill, ‘Are you aware the store is ACKshilly … erm … closed?’ Rocco’s mother felt a hot flush up the back of her neck, over her head and down her front.

‘I thought you closed at eight!’ Rocco’s mother protested. Aghast. She had, after all, looked at the trading hours outside and thought she had well over an hour to spare.

‘It’s AFTER eight,’ Foodbitch said smugly. She now had her arms folded in front of her. She looked as if she were getting ready to barge.

‘I’m terribly sorry,’ Rocco’s mother said. ‘Would you like me to put everything back on the shelves?’

Foodbitch’s brain was ticking over. It didn’t have far to tick, because it wasn’t very large. She obviously, however, decided Rocco’s mother would take a long time to replace the offending groceries – and she wanted her gone NOW.

‘Take them through, then,’ FB decided grudgingly. ‘As long as you don’t want anything ELSE.’ She gave Rocco’s mother a look which implied she might be the type of person who wished to strip every shelf of every possible item. Just out of spite.

At the checkout, the girlie had emptied her till and tallied up – but started putting Rocco’s mother’s purchases dutifully over the scanner. She then noticed the bag of oranges – carefully selected because they were (for a change) large and orange – happened to have a squashed and broken fruit inside, the orangey contents of which were smearing themselves over the other, non-offending fruit.

‘Oh dear,’ said the girlie. She turned to Foodbitch, who was standing there tapping her foot like the guardian at the River Styx. ‘Would you mind getting another one of these?’

Foodbitch looked as if she might kill Rocco’s mother – but snatched the bag of oranges and huffed off to the fruit section, returning with a bag of the smallest, greenest-tinged, crappy looking oranges she could find. Rocco’s mother knew full well it was Foodbitch’s revenge, along the lines of the Poo-in-the-Gelato punishment which had been enacted upon an unpleasant patron at an hotel a few weeks prior. Rocco’s mother figured Foodbitch was entitled to her little victory. Just this once, and because she appreciated the customer is not right all the time.

It is fortunate there are other supermarkets which Rocco’s mother can frequent. She’s rather embarrassed, and doesn’t know whether she wants to go back to Food-o-rama again. On the other hand, her memory is so jaded these days she’ll probably have completely forgotten about it within a day or two, and will wonder why staff members recoil in horror next time she makes an appearance.

ACKshilly … she doesn’t really give a hoot.


Dial 9 after the beep to go barking mad …

The Warrior Queen – and this is the truth – was once caught bending over a freezer in Food-o-rama saying; ‘Hello little peas … do I need you?’ She didn’t know I was behind her and heard – and to this day, doesn’t actually believe she did it. But the fun is being taken out of fronting up at grocery stores – and indeed, with enjoying a bit of tele-biffo when trying to get something organised over the phone.

Like me, The WQ isn’t a fan of making phone calls. Not so long ago, she had to contact an insurance company for some information on renewing a policy. They had one of those phone systems whereby you can talk to the handpiece but the handpiece ain’t listening – because they’ve sacked the roomful of happy telephonists they used to employ. Instead, they have a recorded voice to do the business for them. It makes them feel good a bit of money is being saved on all those girlies sitting around dunking digestives in milky tea and applying their nail varnish in between calls. Couldn’t have that, because it might reek of customer service.

Anyway, the WQ’s particular machine told her to press 3 after the beep if she wanted to talk about insurance. Which she did. If she’d wanted to talk about hiring a gigolo she would have phoned BadLads-R-Us. There followed an indeterminable wait, in which awful music was played. The WQ sat back patiently and fondly remembered riding in elevators in the fifties.

After what seemed like forever but was probably only about an hour or two, an electronic voice butted in to thank her for waiting patiently.

‘You’re welcome,’ said the WQ. So they played some advertisements, advertising themselves.  And their fast, competent, personalised telephone service. By the time the voice came back, the WQ was feeling a little peeved.

‘I’m starving,’ she told it. It didn’t seem to care. Instead, she was treated to another series of numbers, from which she was invited to make a choice, depending on the make of car she was interested in attempting to insure. The next time the voice came back, she said, ‘I’ll be a skeleton by the time anyone answers.’ The music at the other end was turned up louder. ‘I need to have something to eat soon,’ the WQ said crossly. ‘If I’m dead, I won’t need the car insured, will I?’

A Barry Manilow song came on. It was the last straw. ‘Sod you, then,’ the WQ said, hanging up and calling it a day for the year.

Which begs the question – how much business is being lost by these companies because the great unwashed won’t deal with machines? You never actually get to find out whether the service is going to be any good or not. There’s never anything human on the other end of the line to tell you.

What price have we paid for our autoteller machines? At least if you walk into a bank, the girl behind the counter doesn’t chew your card up the third time you forget your number. Sure, she might chew gum and you might have a long wait in the queue – but when you finally get there, that girl’s not just another unemployment statistic.

They try to justify unemployment by saying the technological age has spawned a whole new range of jobs. Jobs we hadn’t even heard of 50 years ago. Like being the person who records the electronic voice on answering machines. Or the person who unlocks autotellers and retrieves the sad little pile of chewed up cards left inside (most of them my son’s). And what happens when finally we all turn on our computers to do our grocery shopping electronically? No more fun trips to the mall. No more trolleys with uncoordinated castors. No more waiting in the 8-items-or-die queue behind the thick arser with two months’ supply of goodies for the Australian Army’s next bivouac. You won’t be able to feel the packet to check the biscuits aren’t broken. Or check the use-by date of anything. Or be dragged, screaming, 50 metres across the car park in front of an oncoming bus with your knickers showing when your rogue trolley hits an unexpected speedhump on the way back to your car.

Saddest of all, the WQ will no longer be able to converse with icebound vegetables or assure them of their necessity to her wellbeing and happiness. All the excitement will have gone from life. Those little daily adventures in which we interact with other living things – including moribund broccoli florets – will have been wrested savagely from our sorry lives in the interest of progress.

Was it worth it, we will ask ourselves, as we are reduced to gibbering idiots reaching for the phone to call Lifeline.

‘Dial 1 after the beep,’ it will sonorously intone, ‘if you’re just mildly pissed off. Dial 9 if you’re totally, barking mad …’


How to bore people to death and not influence anybody …

There are people out there who can’t stand their own company. As the saying goes, they’re usually right. So what do they do with their spare time? Wreck yours. Phoning, visiting or hanging around malls waiting to head you off at the pass when you’re on your way to the car with a bag of fresh cream doughnuts and the latest copy of Chow Down (Bumper Holiday Edition). For some reason, they think they’re doing you a favour by inflicting themselves upon you without notice – and it’s just not fair.

            You can pick out The Prey in the crowded streets. People with haunted expressions and dust balls clinging to their hair. They sometimes wear dark glasses and towelling hats, and resemble people in a witness protection program. This is because they’ve spent the morning under the bed, hiding from someone jolly in a floral tent who kept punching the doorbell and calling ‘YOOHOO!’

            On the other hand, The Predators have little beady eyes, darting everywhere in order to spy a victim. They also have Tupperware catalogues, lamington drive order forms and photo albums full of crap you wouldn’t want to know about. They never phone first to give you time to make up an excuse. When you don’t answer the door, they tramp round the house trying all the locks and windows. While you’re lying under the bed trying not to breathe, you wonder what in hell you’re supposed to do if Maisie Fansbarns comes hurtling through your bedroom window. Do you come out from under the bed and pretend you were dusting, or let her go through the personal papers on your dresser? It’s a tangled web you have woven, and it probably serves you right.

            The Warrior Queen, who desires solitude and the company of other animals above all things, was once caught out badly by Mrs Fogsbottom, a ghastly neighbour who turned up each morning at 9am as soon as we kids were off to school. She’d be in situ still when we returned home. The WQ was quietly going batshit. She had never hurt anyone’s feelings before in her life, but found herself in the position of inventing dialogue/scenarios in her sleep with which to defray the dreaded Fogsbottom in a permanent and resolute fashion.

            She decided to say she wouldn’t be available for morning coffee for a couple of weeks because she was going to springclean. The idea was to break Mrs F’s habit so she’d move on to greener pastures. ‘Good idea!’ Mrs F agreed. ‘I might do the same!’ The next morning the WQ awoke with hope and optimism. She thought she might curl up with a book and do sod-all. She packed the school lunches, shoved us out of the door – and there, like a battleship in full sail, was Mrs F-Bottom sashaying across the street with a duster in one hand and a container of Vim in the other.

            The WQ went feral. There is no other way to describe it. From the top of our steps she screamed across the road – ‘Go AWAY! I can’t TAKE IT ANYMORE! Don’t you DARE come any further!’ The whole thing was accompanied by some rather menacing pointing gestures and much stamping of feet. Mrs F-Bot was rooted to the spot. There was no way to disband gracefully and return to barracks with her dignity intact. None of us can quite remember what happened next, but nobody in that neighbourhood ever spoke to the WQ again. Which was a very happy ending altogether, because that’s just the way she likes it.

            If you happen to be a Predator, spare a thought for those who love their own company and delight in talking to themselves and not sharing their cream doughnuts. Go to the library and choose the first book – something by Aarronson about Aardvarks – and start reading. Do not phone anyone or visit a neighbour until you have worked your way through to Zxybrand and read every single word of his million-page trilogy on life in a 16th century throttlers’ camp.

            By the time you’ve done this, you’ll be so wise and well informed, people might actually be interested in what you have to say.



On the road with the tourists from hell …

A while ago I took one of the girls to Sydney and we ended up at Darling Harbour, ducking a frenzy of Japanese tourists taking photographs. It immediately struck me how seriously they took their tourism. Constipated little family groups were arranged with origami-like precision. If they were enjoying themselves, it was a secret.

            There’s nothing remotely secret about Aussies on holiday. Thirty-odd years ago, being far too gutless and unmotivated to do the solo backpacking thang, I booked myself on a coach trip around Europe. It was basically me, and a couple of dozen retired couples in either beige safari suits or lavender twinsets with matching hair, who allegedly drove BMWs and had put their children through private schools. It begged the question – what were they doing on an economy tour with moi, and why was their behaviour akin to that of petty criminals on day release from a minimum security detention facility? For these people were absolutely without shame.

            Throughout Europe, lavish smorgasbord breakfasts were part of the deal. We’d come down each morning to a vast array of food which boggled the senses. More varieties of bread, fruit and cold cuts than you could imagine in your wildest breakfast porn fantasies – and gollygosh – invited to partake of all we could eat!

            But evidently, that wasn’t enough. The Rampaging Wrinklies stuffed bread rolls furtively up sleeves and trouserlegs, poked individual jam portions into every available orifice with gay abandon and, still dissatisfied with their booty, lined their socks and pantyhose with slices of cold meat. Terrified they might die of starvation during the afternoon, they lurched from the dining room with handfuls of baked beans and melon slices, having stripped the table back to a barren white cloth and a few odd empty plates. ‘It’ll save us having to buy lunch tomorrow,’ they assured eachother, nodding sagely. ‘Everything’s so DEAR.’

            Nor did they have the decency to be embarrassed. It was a matter of pride to compare notes in the bus – and not just regarding food. Each morning, they regaled eachother with rollicking tales of pilfered pillowcases and Gideon’s Bibles – their suitcases would have chimed with a symphony of looted ashtrays had they not been well padded by contraband towels. As we drove off I would keep a nervous eye out behind for signs of gendarme, polizzi, The Bill – or whoever the local constabulary might happen to be.

            Nor were the Criminal Crumblies ever on time for departure. Many a morning the rest of us waited on the bus while the driver went to bang on the door of Ronnie and Doris, slumbering blissfully under the sordid weight of yesterday’s illicit croissants.

            Having remained aghast and honest under duress, what happened to me at the cheese factory wasn’t fair. The man assured us his gouda was export quality, perfectly legal to take back into Australia. We believed him, and bought up big. Not half an hour from the factory, the Greedmongering Geriatrics decided they’d consume theirs on the bus. Huge wheels of cheese were dragged out from under the seats and the back rows (where the naughtiest oldies sat) became a veritable munchfest. Dentures were cemented together and constipation became the buzzword of the day. I looked on in scorn. Until Customs.

            Once there, the Pillaging Pensioners finally came into their own. They stood around smugly, their own gouda safely lodged halfway down their alimentary canals as my cheese was confiscated. Oh, quelle fromage!

            ‘Serves her right,’ they were probably thinking. ‘Self righteous, cheese-saving cow.’ And off they went with their ashtrays and towels, home in their BMWs to wash the smell of salami from the sullied gussets of their Bonds Cottontails …



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 …






Hello? I’m right here, choosing a rockmelon …

            There we all were, blissfully meandering amongst the vegetables, checking out the aubergines and pondering on the potatoes. Barry Manilow was crooning gently in the background and all was well with the world. Such were the halcyon days of fresh produce acquisition. But hark! What is this? It’s a polyphonic ring tone and some awful woman regaling us with the details of her bowel operation! Oh, gross … Wanker Alert!

            What type of news might one be awaiting whilst deciding between a cauliflower and a cabbage? If there’s a life or death situation going down, wouldn’t you stay at home? Surely, to be informed Uncle Monty has passed on during perusal of the silverbeet would be too distressing to share with a supermarket full of nosey parkers? Or not. Uncle Monty’s plummet from the perch pales into insignificance compared with being able to answer your phone in the vegetable aisle, with everyone noticing you! Wow! Is this not the ultimate in one-upmanship? ‘Fraid not, love. It’s passé. Even preschoolers now carry their own phones, in case they need to inform Mum they’ve committed an indiscretion and need spare toweling pants delivered pronto. Students regularly ignore teachers in classrooms all over the country when their Nokias chime. Bag ladies carry them so they can quickly locate other bag ladies. There was even a man on the Gold Coast last Christmas, jogging along the beach in his budgie-smugglers. Yup – the Dayglo, luminescent, underwater mobile phone was strapped ostentatiously to the back of his flabby lycra buttocks! Handy if a shark starts ripping your extremities off, eh? You can dial 000 if you still have any fingers left.

            Why are people so insecure they can’t leave the house without being instantly available? Slaves to technology, terrified something might happen while they are in transit! They even make calls while they’re driving along, not giving a hoot about the traffic – only whether the people in the next car can see them being totally cool. Don’t they realise those people aren’t impressed – they’re thinking ‘wanker’.

            All over the world, telephones are ruling lives. Meals go cold while people jump to attention. Houses burn down as housewives grab desperately for the receiver and forget the chip pan. Children run rampant and go missing in the street while their mothers lose all track of time discussing Cheryl’s hysterectomy.

            Be the boss of the phone – let it ring! You can be reasonably sure it will not be President Bush on the other end informing you he is about to press The Button. Unless you’re Mr Rudd. Even if it is, and you are, is it really worth letting your spag bol go cold or stick to the bottom of the pan? I think not. You’d be far better off having a good meal before a conversation of that ilk, anyway.

            There is a time for all things and while you’re enjoying them, phones should not be given the right to intrude. There’s a distinct probability there’s someone on the other end wanting to sell you cladding. Tell them to get cladded. Claim back your life, before it’s too late!

            If you happen to be one of those under the misguided illusion your phone is a status symbol – think again. Very carefully. There are other things you can utilise if you wish to be insanely trendy. Macaroni necklaces are good, especially coloured with bright food dye. A few rows of these slung nonchalantly around the ol’ cashmere sweater will show anyone you’re right up there. Wearing ugg boots is pretty OK – especially those really smelly old ones, resurrected from the 70s. Personalised numberplates can cut a bit of a dash, as well. Cool! Really impressive! And dead easy for witnesses to remember when you’re caught out doing that ram raid!

            It’s getting harder and harder to impress, now that everyone’s got everything. It used to be good enough to have the only telly in the street, with all the neighbours pressing their noses against your window and making excuses to borrow a cup of sugar when Weekend Magazine was on.

            Nowadays, you’ll need a satellite dish at least. And a pretty darn impressive selection of trendy shaped macaroni …