Omni, omnus, omnibus …

It’s marvellous how we have that clichéd little thought every time we do something unhealthy, isn’t it?  ‘Oh well … I could be hit by a bus tomorrow.’

Yep – that justifies everything. The miniscule square of chocolate that shortens our life by five hours –  the cigarette that robs us of two extra days – the sound of Alan Rickman’s voice stealing at least a week – blah, blah, blah. We’re not allowed to just enjoy anything anymore. And that’s a bad thang. A very bad thang altogether, because who wants to live a long life without ever hearing Alan Rickman inviting you into his boudoir for some choc-coated cherry numnums. Or even issuing you with a parking ticket, for that matter.  And yes, I’d pay it. Even if he was wearing the Professor Snape wig.

It’s getting so you can’t do anything without the naysayers telling you it’s bad for you. And to be honest, that makes me feel just a teensy bit rebellious and wanting to indulge in whatever they tell me not to. After all, if I added up the chocolates, cigarettes (which I gave up over 25 years ago anyway) and random invitations from AR to do various things both frisky and deluded, I should have died several years ago. And because I clearly didn’t, I’m thinking rampant buses are probably not the b-all and end-all of ways in which to be taken out.

A friend of a friend of a friend swears he stayed in a seedy motel room somewhere in America, and noticed the room had a particularly grim and mortuaresque odour. On pulling out the trundle bed in order to put his child to bed after a hurried meal of takeaway pizza throughout which the family pegged their noses closed, imagine his surprise on unearthing (tra-la!) a deceased prostitute. Whatever had happened to this unfortunate lady to have placed her in such a dire predicament was not made apparent  – but I’m betting she wished she’d eaten more chocolate.

A few years ago, a very strange thing happened in our town – and you’ll probably think I’m making it up. When I heard it, I thought the radio lad and the local paper were making it up – but not so. Read it and weep. A lady had her old cat put down at the vet, and because she wanted to bury him in her rose garden, placed him in a shoebox in order to take him home.  On her way back, she stopped in at Food-o-rama to return some tins of cat food and purchase several economy boxes of tissues and a bottle of medicinal gin – and on returning to the car, opened the boot and placed the shoebox’o’moggy carefully on the car roof whilst packing the shopping bags inside. As luck would (or indeed wouldn’t) have it, some lousy thieving chancer happened to spot the shoebox and, thinking her luck was in and she was about to score a brand new pair of Nikes (because yes, it was indeed a woman), swiped the box from the top of the car and took off across the carpark.

And this is where the old cliché comes into play, because karma being what it is, the thieving chancer was then very karmatically and thuddingly hit by a bus. The afternoon one to Jolly Havens Retirement Village, as it happened, which was full of pissed and randy pensioners high on bingo winnings and Mylanta after the prawn cocktail/chicken parmy two course luncheon special (and $2 extra for the rhubarb cheesecake, please).

But the story doesn’t quite finish there, because when the ambulance turned up, the paramedics tucked the shoebox carefully on to the stretcher next to the thieving chancer – and both were transported to the hospital where the shoebox was placed reverently in the bedside locker, from whence the police eventually recovered it after finally finishing their alleged Krispy Kremes and grudgingly deciding to turn up.

I have absolutely no idea what the moral to this story is – or whether there is one at all. But whatever Alan Rickman has in mind for the rest of the evening, that’s fine with me. I hope he brings chocolates, Danish pastries with walnut and maple filling, a couple of bottles of very sweet and fizzy champagne – and oh alright – he can wear the Professor Snape wig if he likes, too. If I lose another week because of it … whatever.

.oOo.

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People who live in glass houses should turn off Google before removing their trousers …

Thanks to Google Street View, we can now virtually stand outside other people’s homes and stare without them knowing we are doing it. Spooky. It’s the best thing ever you can do without a pair of binoculars and one of those cars with blacked out windows and fake numberplates. I’m loving it. And especially the fact that the view of my house does not show me in my nasty dressing gown, shuffling out to the mailbox with a mouth full of chocolate to collect my free sample of incontinence pads. Which I feared it would. Bonus.

So here I am in my office at home, looking at your agapanthus and your strange, elasticless knickers hanging on your Hills Hoist. It’s a rather nice garden. Well, it would be if you had someone tow those two old car bodies from beside the driveway. Surely it’s about time you laid down the law regarding Jaysen’s old bangers? It’s lowering the tone of the neighbourhood – and you wouldn’t want that. And the lopsided old caravan he’s living in looks a bit of a mess out front, too. Doesn’t he earn enough to move into a nice little flat somewhere?

You really should get someone to mow your lawn. Your lazy, good-for-not-very-much husband, for instance. But I’m guessing he can’t, because I just happened to notice his car parked in front of the flats down near the SkankyMart. You know those flats … where that fake-breasted, man-stealing, floozy from his work  just happens to live. Your Darren must be working overtime, then. Or weekends, seeing as the school carpark is empty, which means it’s not a weekday. Funny he’d be doing overtime though, seeing as you’ve always said he goes fishing with his mates on the weekends.  You think? Or maybe someone else has a car like Darren’s. A lime-green 1920s Crapmobile with personalised Dazza plates. Probably pretty common, you’re right.

And oh, look! If you have a bit of a hover with your mouse over the McFattyBuns carpark, isn’t that your BreeArne in the skimpy little belt skirt, talking to those bikers? She looks so happy, waving her cigarette and showing those men the tattoo on her left breast. (If you zoom in, you can see it’s a rather artful little scroll which says ‘Shag me and weep’.) You always said BreeArne was a poetic girl, and a friendly one, too.  She certainly looks friendly – those men can’t keep their hands off her. Maybe they’ll take her for a nice ride on their bikes. Maybe they’ll weep.

If you continue on to the park, you’ll be amazed to see your youngest, Dwayne. He’s with some other little mates, and they’re huddled around the picnic table which seems, on zooming, to have a contraption made of a plastic bottle and some garden hose set upon it. Dwayne and his friends look very relaxed and happy. It’s nice to see young people enjoying life and availing themselves of the fruits of nature. Trees and leaves are good. And grass is, too. I can’t help thinking that looks like my garden hose – some of which is missing.

BreeArne’s artistry obviously runs in the family, because down at the railway siding you might notice your older son, Jaysen. He has a spray aerosol in his hand … and look, he’s made a mural! My goodness, you’ve brought up some public spirited young people, haven’t you? Jaysen seems to have recreated some of Hitler’s insignia – obviously as a sort of protest thingie, maybe. It’s excellent he’s so interested in history – and art. And that he’s merged the two. And that it’s all recorded for posterity. Lovely!

I can’t see you in your garden, though. You must have hung the dodgy knickers and gone inside to make a nice cuppa. It must be lovely to be able to rest and relax, knowing your family members are all happily occupied and getting the most out of life. Maybe you are at your computer, checking up on your family – just like I am. Ah, the wonders of technology!

That’s funny … I’d never noticed before that you have a red light above your front door. Are you running an emergency medical centre? Surely not. Ooh, I wish we could have Google Night Street so I could see what you’re up to! Maybe you’re just partial to a pretty rose-coloured light flooding your agapanthus.

Or maybe half the men in the neighbourhood come around after dark and knock … and weep.

.oOo.

In which Rocco evokes a series of unfortunate events …

Rocco sent his mumma a txt msg which said, ‘an old fart jst ran into me’.  The sending of this unfortunate missive occurred on Friday 13th, a date which his mother had (up until then) always thought was a very lucky day altogether. She had, in fact, woken that morning assuming everything was going to be very pleasant and only good things would happen.  She thought she deserved good things to happen and it was her right. Rocco managed to leech the last bit of hope out of what should have been an ordinary and uneventful day. As usual.

On phoning Rocco, who was in the carpark of Food-o-rama, his mother found it was a bit difficult to hear the entire story because the aforementioned old fart was carrying on in the background like a demented gnome filled with Hitleresque bile . The gnashing of teeth and stamping of little feet was evident even over the airwaves. Rocco’s mother could see the little black moustache in her mind’s eye, though it was very difficult to hear the wood for the trees. Rocco then told the OF to ‘please shut the f up’, which his mother thought was probably not a good idea. You do not swear at people when you are in the wrong. You do not swear at people at any time really – but when you have just backed out of a carpark into them, the f-bomb would not seem appropriate droppage.

The police would not come, because they deemed two driveable vehicles and no injuries constituted a waste of their time. They didn’t want their jam doughnuts to go stiff. Rocco was left to deal with the problem on his own, and because he had no clue as to the name of his insurance company (or even whether he had one), he was unable to furnish the OF with the details. Therefore, his mother received a phone call from the OF’s insurance company a few days later.

By this time, Rocco was away at his TAFE course for the week, and the rather spiteful insuro-bitch on the other end of the phone naturally refused to speak to his mother, because although she had endured several hours of unpleasant labour ejecting Rocco into a horrified and unprepared world in the first place, she was not entitled to know his personal business – even though she would inevitably end up dealing with the unpleasantness of the personal business and Rocco’s father would end up paying the money in question. Insuro-bitch (and Rocco’s mother could see the little black moustache in her mind’s eye) smugly informed R’s M she’d send Rocco a letter instead, which she duly did. The letter was also dipped in venom, and informed Rocco he was to pay $3,528 immediately in order to shut them up finalise the matter.

As if this incident wasn’t quite enough, Rocco also managed to incur a $200 fine for purchasing a concession train ticket in order to return home from his TAFE course. He hadn’t realised his travel card had expired, and blissfully purchased the ticket as usual – only to find the transit police were not in the least sympathetic and wanted their pound of flesh. Rocco’s hapless mother (who does not have time for a life of her own) is currently in the process of writing her second appeal letter on his behalf in an attempt to shut them up finalise the matter – which won’t work, because the first one didn’t, but will buy a bit of time.

But Rocco’s disastrous fortnight hadn’t quite offered up its finale yet.  There was more to come because naturally, although he’d been told numerous, mind-numbing times to always lock his car and never leave valuables inside it, Rocco parked his car in the driveway on Friday night with his wallet and his iPod on the front seat and expected everything to be tickety-boo in the morning. As you do, when you live in lala land where the moon’s a balloon and the flowers pick themselves. The fact Rocco’s pay was in his wallet at the time was just the icing on the cake for the thieves – they scored admirable booty from their heist and then turned to Rocco’s parents’ car for good measure. This gleaned only a couple of packets of cigarettes and a few dollars in small change – but there was the fun of hurling the contents of the glovebox all over the car and opening boxes of computer parts which were obviously not exciting enough to be bothered taking. Naturally the police wouldn’t come. They’d just purchased another dozen fresh doughnuts.

There are other things that could happen this week, and they probably will. None of them will be good, because Rocco’s stars (and those of his parents) seem to have aligned in a clashing cacophony of misadventure.  In fact, when Rocco’s mother heard the postman dropping something in the mailbox a few minutes ago, she curled herself up into a ball and hid in a corner …

.oOo.

I sing the body demented …

Quite a few years ago I started going on a morning walk. It was before my eldest daughter’s wedding, and I’d noticed I was a bit (nay, a lot) boombah. There really wasn’t very much time to do anything about it, seeing as the wedding was only a couple of weeks away – but I decided I would force myself to walk for half an hour each day in the interests of health, happiness and the Australian way.

There’s nothing interesting or unusual about someone going on a daily walk, but it’s had its moments. Some of which are worthy of mention. After all, if you’ve read this far, surely you can humour me and manage another 600 words or so. (Thanks in anticipation, for that.)

At one stage, because I really did hate the thought of having to do that damn walk each day – I got it into my head to do it really early and get it out of the way. I’m a very light sleeper, so really early meant 4.30-ish. I’d wake up around that time and lie there thinking about how horrible it was that I was going to have to do that walk and how I wasn’t looking forward to it … but if I got up and did it NOW, I’d have the rest of the day to read the papers and sit in the sun eating chocolate, cake and potato crisps mung bean sarnies and soy crackers.

So verily it came to pass that one morning I hauled myself from my deliciously warm and marvellous bed and out into the darkling night. It was actually fantastic out there, as it happened to be a beautiful moonlit night – cool and still and enchanting. The start of my walk entails a diagonal stumble across a sports oval. It’s quite elevated, and I noticed with delight that even though all around me was pitch black, off to the left I could see the lights of the whole town glittering in the distance far below like a magical little firmament purely for my edification. It was quite fabulous altogether, so I stood there and had a good long look at that, and thought about how I was the only person awake in the whole wide world. Woo.

After a little while experiencing this unlikely epiphany, I trotted off again, and nearly shat myself in horror when all of a sudden something loomed ahead in the darkness and I found I wasn’t the only one awake in the whole wide world after all. Some druid in a cowl and blanket had laid out his gran’s spare chenille bedspread on the grass in the middle of the oval and was assuming a yoga position and doing druidy things under the cloak of darkness. I think a noise of surprise and/or horror might have emanated from me – but not a word from the druid, who was obviously on a much higher plane and swathed in a mist of sandalwood and myrrh from the incense sticks he’d poked in the grass around him. I did a sort of crablike movement in order to avoid trampling his patchouli cones, and trundled up to the highway with my poor old heart hammering away with the sheer shock of it all. I’ll never know what the druid thought. And neither, probably, will he.

Once I got to the highway, there were streetlights. Those really big overhead bright ones, which could have lit up an Olympic stadium. There were also trucks trundling past in fairly regular succession, and I was thinking how nice it would have been if the Mickey D’s on the corner was a 24 hour one and I’d thought to bring some money and could have lobbed in there for a warming thick chocolate drink with double cream skim latte and sat watching the trucks going past and the sun coming up, etc., etc., etc. And while I was contemplating this, I put my hand in my pocket to check whether maybe I did have coinage – and realised with horror that I was standing on a main highway in my nightie, dressing gown and a pair of crappy slippers.

At this particular point in the walk, I’m either halfway there or halfway back – so there wasn’t anything much to do except go forward into the fray. I didn’t particularly want to encounter the druid again, because if he’d come out of his trance long enough to realise the madwoman in the bed gear was returning to accost him from yet another angle in a surprise attack, there might have been a nasty encounter of the zen kind.  So there was nothing for it really than to shuffle on home.

And so, eventually, to bed …

.oOo.

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 …

.oOo.

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 …

.oOo.

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 …

.oOo.