Category Archives: tribes

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.



Sorry, but madness doesn’t need an apology …

            There are two things which make a difference – the weather and age.

            How you feel depends very much on what’s going down with the seasons and the magnetic pull of the whatnot. Ask anyone. Every teacher knows kids go berserk if it’s windy. Policemen are aware they’re going to have their work cut out for them on the night of a full moon. The crazies will be out there howling, the cells will be full and, dammit, there won’t be any Iced Vovos left in the station biscuit tin.

            But take a look at age. As the years roll by, you can almost feel your attitude changing. You can hear it clicking over like a tachometer every time you draw breath. I’m reasonably sure I didn’t purposely ram people in the back of the knees with supermarket trolleys 20 years ago, just because they were thick enough to try it on with 11 items in the 8-items-or-less queue. I didn’t swear at hoons in cars who got away from the lights faster than I. Nor did I ever, ever have the bravado to take faulty goods back to the shop. Whatever was going down inside, from outward appearance hardly anybody could tell.

            But the older you get, the less you need care what people think. That goes for appearance as well as attitude in general. The time comes when you have every right to look as crazy as a madwoman’s breakfast.

            When you’re a teenager, everything matters. You’d never leave the house without checking to make sure you were cool. Nor would you be seen dead in a public place with your mother, who has a perm, a twinset and Bonds Cottontails. It’s absolutely vital you’re part of some kind of tribe.

            By the time 40-and-more rolls around, there’s no tribe which will accept you as a member. This is a very liberating thing indeed. It’s therefore possible to fulfill a hankering for wandering blissfully through Food-o-rama in your smelly sheepskin slippers. Without a bra. If anyone looks sideways, you can say, ‘Sod YOU.’ It’s very satisfying altogether. You are now free to be an individual and can choose your own style without having to bow to any convention whatsoever.

            Furthermore, you can tell your kids you wouldn’t be seen dead with them. You can say you’re embarrassed about their purple hair, metallic appendages and the fact their bodies have more illustration than the Readers’ Digest World Atlas (Millennium Edition).

            You no longer have to live in a ‘family estate’ in a three bedroom brick veneer, drop the kiddies to school in a 4X4 which wouldn’t recognise the bush if you stuck a photograph of Kakadu on the pristine windscreen, or light up the barbeque every Sunday afternoon and invite the crappy neighbours around with their disgusting organic potato salad.

            You are now free to be naff as hell. You can let the garden go to pot (literally) and drive around in a weird old car they don’t make parts for anymore. You can stay in the same underwear for months. When kids start throwing rocks on your roof and insinuating you’re batty, you can peer out of the window and say, ‘Sod YOU.’

            You will find for the first time in your life you are honestly and truly happy. Your sink is full of dirty dishes, you’ve read War and Peace cover to cover and people are staying away from you in droves. Your humpy is full of cats and cockroaches, your unmade bed is full of library books and half-chewed Sara Lee danishes in foil pie pans and you’re feeling extremely frivolous indeed. What the hell – treat yourself to a couple of ferrets!

            Age means never having to say you’re one of the crowd again. Never having to keep up with the Jones’s, or the Smiths, or even Kerry Packer. You can choose your friends because you genuinely like them – not because they belong to the right network.

            Feel free to get out there in the darkness on the next full moon with the rest of the crazies, doin’ what feels right! Whoooaaaa!

            I’ll be out there in my smelly sheepskin slippers with my ferrets running up and down around my vile undergarments. And count on it – we’ll all be howling …



Mother is not just half a word …

            The chocolates settle comfortably upon the hips of the mothers of Australia – time once again to reflect on Mother’s Day.

            Motherhood is not a doddle. Babies don’t come with a user’s guide. Even TV dinners have more comprehensive instructions. Therefore, there are many different kinds of mother. Some deserve special mention.

            The Tryhard Mother is the paragon of parenthood. Your average Tryhard plays classical music to her stomach when the pregnancy’s confirmed. Don’t even think of mentioning epidurals – this woman does pelvic floor exercises while she waits in the checkout queue at Coles. The neighbours will be robbed of the opportunity to say she’s let herself go – she’ll be smugly zipping up her jeans on the way home from hospital. Then she’ll iron the nappies.

            The Earth Mother spends nine fulfilling, harmonious months preparing soothing alfalfa sprout poultices for her sore bits after her pain-free, organic, underwater birth. Her partner, two close friends and a few interested neighbours will join her – nude, in the patchouli-scented water, being encouraging and singing madrigals. The Earth Mother will breastfeed until the child is five. She will only stop when the kindergarten teacher tells her firmly, but kindly, it is disrupting the class. She is asked courteously to send muesli bars instead. Kellogg’s will have nothing to do with this – the Earth Mother bakes her own with hand-ground grains and they will not be packed in Tupperware – she’s never heard of it, but knows plastic is carcinogenic. Her child will, however, be able to give useful advice on star signs and know immediately whether the sun is in Uranus. Later on, the Earth Mother will be baffled and mildly hurt when her child changes his name from Rigel Stratosphere to Steve. Like every other mother, she’ll wonder where she went wrong.        

            The Thrillseeker ‘Laugh in the Face of Danger’ Mother barges straight into parenthood by giving birth to her child while parachuting into a war zone. It won’t worry her, either – she thrives on photo opportunities. Her child won’t know what’s hit him. He’ll wonder all his life what he has done to deserve a mother such as this. The Thrillseeker Mother puts her hand into a loaded nappy to check it. She thrusts an arm into a schoolbag that’s been sitting in the sun outside a classroom all day with a devon and banana sandwich inside. Often, the Thrillseeker Mother does not have a partner. He got frightened and left. The child will leave too, as soon as he finds a girl just like mum … another controlling bitch.

            The In-Your-Face Mother tells the obstetrician what to do. He wonders why he bothered with seven years of medical school. She pushes the child belligerently through shopping malls like the commander of a Sherman tank, telling other mothers what they’ve done wrong. Teachers hate this sort of mother. They are trained to recognise one at 50 paces. The In-Your-Face Mother’s child is gifted and talented … or else.

            The Leave-You-Wanting-More Mother had her child in between conference tea breaks, phoning the hospital whilst explaining the finer points of a Powerpoint Presentation on the overhead projection screen. Fortunately, due to her superior organisational skills and foresight, her nightie was rolled in her tortoiseshell briefcase under a folder of advertising contracts. Her child will wonder whether he has a mother. He’ll build an empire and his wife will have artificial insemination.

            Lastly, there’s the At-The-Coalface Mother. A functional, hands-on type – the kind we all wish we had – the kind we all wish we could be. She makes playdough in five different colours and flavours, can flip pancakes, juggle oranges and wears your macaroni necklace in the rain even though the turquoise and orange dye wrecks her off-white jumper. She doesn’t care if you wear odd socks to school, have jam and curried egg in the same sandwich or keep a python under your bed. One Coalface Mother spent all night making a prehistoric diorama in a shoebox because it was due to be handed in at school that morning and she’d only just found out about it. She didn’t get any gratitude and didn’t care when she only got a C+. She’s wise enough to know tomorrow will be another day. When it comes, she’ll cope with that, too.

            The Coalface Mother’s kids grow up to be exactly what they want to be. Because she always told them they could.

            Have the best Mother’s Day. Whichever one you are …




Violent crumblies …

            Time travels faster as you get older.

            It seems to take ages to get to be 10 years old – and longer still to reach 20. After that, time gains momentum and starts plummeting forward in a horrifying manner. You realise you are no longer exactly sure of your age. If people ask, you are likely to err a couple of years either way – accidentally. Especially after you hit horrible things starting with 4, 5, 6 or bigger. You have to try to remember the year you were born – and count backwards. Assuming you remember how to count.

            The scary thing is, you don’t feel any different inside. People look at you and think, ‘old bag’. They wonder why you are still wearing stupid hair elastics with plastic fruit on them. They wonder why you have a leather thong around your neck with PEACE on it, and a Pooh Bear lunchbox.

            The Warrior Queen complained to Dad when they were doing the grocery chopping recently, after battling her way around the Zimmer frames in the fruit and veg section. She said, ‘Why can’t all the old people do their shopping some other time?’

            ‘But YOU’RE an old person,’ he told her. She hadn’t realised. Neither had the people with the Zimmer frames.

            Inside, you feel perfectly fine. If there weren’t any mirrors, you could live blissfully with the illusion hair elastics with plastic pineapples still suited you. There are other little signs, however, for those of us without mirrors. Tradesmen don’t call you ‘love’ anymore – they call you ‘missus’. Behind your back they call you, ‘that fat old tart with the busted Hoovermatic’. You can safely walk past building sites. Nobody will call out or whistle. If they are a decent class of builder they might even climb down from the scaffolding and help you across the road.

            The contents of your shopping trolley are also a dead giveaway. High fibre cereal, indigestion tablets (economy sized six-pack) and incontinence pads take the place of whatever fun things you used to buy. There are probably a lot of chocolate biscuits, too. These are to help you forget, though it’s likely you don’t remember anyway.

            A few weeks ago I went to a gathering of past colleagues. We realised afterwards we’d spent four or five hours discussing our ailments.

            ‘I sound just like my mother,’ one said with amazement. And it’s true. You notice how many times you say, ‘… in MY day …’ to your kids. You notice your kids are taller than you and have chest hair. Even the girls. You realise you hate their music and it’s too loud. They tell you things a million times and get frustrated because they have to KEEP telling you and you don’t remember they told you before.

            There are varicose veins sprawling all over your legs like steroid-boosted spiderwebs. Your chins are dangling down over your chest, which is dangling over your knees. You start buying Cottontail knickers which come up to your waist in a hysterical  attempt to cover your buttocks. You buy them in beige. With support panels even. And you don’t even notice you’re doing it.

            You seriously consider buying a Volvo. It’ll be safer. Especially if you wear a canvas hat whilst driving it.

            But things start getting really creepy when you realise you are actually interested in the Royal Family. When you put your abseiling gear in the classifieds and start eyeing off the lawn bowls. When it’s safer to make porridge than risk your teeth on Nutrigrain.

            How much easier it would be if you could live your life backwards – start at the end and go back to being a baby again. You could look forward to being cute, and people would like you more and more as you got younger.

            What the rest of society doesn’t realise is how smart we get with age. How much knowledge is inside our wrinkly, grey old heads. We have the intelligence to be aware if you wear hair elastics with plastic fruit on them, you’ll feel bloody marvellous.

            That’s why I have a whole drawer full.




Apocalypse soon …


The end of the world will be … Friday. Or Monday. It depends who you’re listening to, really.

            The uncertainty of the whole affair makes it a tad difficult to organise one’s life. Like whether to renew your driver’s licence for five years or one. Or not at all. Whether or not you should send for a year’s subscription to Chow Down, bearing in mind you might not be eating anything at all after Wednesday. And it certainly seems a waste of time to bother cleaning the windows, considering the glass is going to be whirling around the universe in a trillion pieces and nobody will know who neglected it or didn’t.

            Most importantly, in these uncertain times, you should think again about how worthwhile it would be to build a fallout shelter, emerging like a mole when it’s all over, blinking in the fluorescent red sunlight or whatever – ready to start again in a brave new world. Pass. There wouldn’t be any exciting people left to start it with anyway. Only boring farts who’d built fallout shelters and stockpiled tins of Stagg beans for the past 10 years. All you’d get from them would be a lot of pontificating and flatulence. The exciting people will be in little pieces. Whirling around with my dirty windowpanes, not giving a hoot.

            Besides, there won’t be any malls. Or the Sunday Magazine from the weekend paper. Or terrific telly shows where you can gleefully watch people stuff up other people’s beige homes with a can of purple paint and six metres of orange fur fabric. Not to mention cowprint terry toweling stapled to the wardrobe doors.

            There won’t even be anything to take the Mick out of anymore, seeing as the Flatulent Ones will be busy taking everything far too seriously. They’ll be setting up insurance offices, accountancy programs and working out new calendars and stuff.

            Cries of, ‘Hey – let’s go get a cappuccino!’ will be met with glares of derision and indifference. They’ll be urging you to sign up for the bean-planting committee and warning you about the hazards of standing out in the sun. Which is a bit of a curly one really, seeing as everyone’s glowing in the dark and emitting little beeping noises when they walk too close to rocks. There you’ll be, in a barren landscape, wondering what in hell compelled you to duck into a fallout shelter in the first place.

            The Flatulent Ones will not have chocolate manufacture high on the priority list. It’s going to be mung beans all the way, and a Day-Glo alfalfa crop. Nothing is going to be funny ever again. You can forget trying to organise a bus trip to an underwear emporium, or getting anyone to sing Ten Green Bottles with you as you solemnly dig bean furrows in the atomically-charged earth. You can forget getting your teeth into a Sara Lee danish. Life as you knew it is now somewhere out there in the ether – and by gum, you’re going to be wishing you were part of it. Many parts of it, as it happens.

            Because, gentle reader, the kind of people you might even vaguely have wished to be marooned with were the ones who howled with laughter at the word ‘armageddon’. They were the ones who said, ‘Armageddon outta here before it blows!’ and then sat around slapping their thighs and ordering cappuccinos to go.

            They mined uranium, ripped up the forests and munched on genetically modified beef. They destroyed the ozone layer with their refrigerators and motor cars, and let their waste products swim merrily in the water they drank. They thrived on noise and packaging, and visual stimulation. They lived for caffeine and making fun of vegetarians. But now they’re gone.

            You too, could have been part of the Gone Generation – but here you are, hanging out with the Flatulent Ones. Sitting in on a discussion as to whether it would make more sense to have 13 months instead of 12 this time around, and the possibility of cloning cows from the one existing packet of powdered milk. But not for eating purposes, natch.

            There’s nothing electronic, nothing exciting, nothing to look forward to and nothing dangerous. Unless you count that dark red sky and the hideous, ticking soil.

            Ticking, ticking, ticking …