Monday, 30 November 2009

Tony Abbott poses in his budgie smugglers and it's not a pretty sight

I mean, seriously. Would you vote for this man?
Liberal Party MEMBER Tony Abbott was at Queenscliff beach on Sunday when the media approached him to reveal if he was LEFT or RIGHT.
I think it's just wrong.
At an ocean racing event, most men wear dark-coloured budgie smugglers to reveal as little defintion as possible (except for that bloke at Coogee on Sunday wearing white sluggos - not a good look mate).
Generally, it's all tres discreet. The old fellas are packed tight and outa sight.
But Mr Abbott, a conservative pollie who once considered becoming a priest and is now at the fore(skin)front of the global warming sceptics, seems happy to flaunt his gonads to all and sundry.
And if you look closely at this pic, not too close as it might cause dizziness and nausea, you may notice that Mr Abbott appears to be holding in his tummy and puffing out his chest.
Here's a dare to anyone who's game. Put in a call to Mr Abbott's electoral office tomorrow and ask for I.C. Wiener and Mike Rotch.
The moral of this story is that pollies should keep their lollies in the bag and behind the counter.
This pic is from The Australian newspaper)

Sunday, 29 November 2009

A perfect day for the Coogee Island Challenge Ocean Swim at Coogee beach

Today was a perfect day and the surf around Sydney was perfectly flat which (I have to admit) is the way I like it.

(I can hear the cat calls from the hardcore ocean swimmers who think tackling a swell the size of the killer wave in The Perfect Storm is a doddle. Tough luck boys.)

It was with a light heart that I headed down to Coogee this morning to swim in the 2.4 km Coogee Island Challenge Ocean Swim with my brother-in-law, Davo, and his son, Little Prefect, who was our mascot.

The swim was out and around Wedding Cake Island, a 150-metre long rocky outcrop off Coogee, and back to the beach.

The turn-out for the event was huge and, as the results are already up on, I can tell you that 1117 or so people completed the swim - most of them faster than me.

I enjoyed the experience, except for the buggers who swam over me, tugged at my feet and kicked me in the goggles. I've never had that happen before to such an extent in a swim, so it was a bit of a turn-off and it definitely slowed me down - I know, excuses excuses. I'm always making them.

The water was absolutely beautiful - cool, crisp and clear. Out at the island I could see the 20 metres to the bottom where leather jackets, bream, blue groper, sponges and soft and hard corals can be found. I wished I could have dived down there like a mermaid to join them.

But it's a rough and tumble world on the ocean's surface, and that's where I remained (though I'm not very bouyant).

Bloody Davo, who reads this blog occasionally in the guise of his blind dog Danny Boy, beat me again. Not that I care. See you soon Big Maaaan. Let the real challenge begin NOW!
PS Sorry about the poor quality of the pic, but my camera is lousy and I can't afford a new one as I'm spending all my money on these swims - average $30 per swim.

Friday, 27 November 2009

The B52s bomb at the Enmore Theatre as lead vocalist Kate Pierson covers for Cindy Wilson

It was going to be a big night. I was taking 13-year-old Miss Hissy to see the B52s at the Enmore, and we were excited.

For the past month, The 'best of' the B52s CD has been on high rotation in our house, with Miss Hissy dancing around the lounge room in a wild retro dervish.

By the time we got to the Enmore last night, her anticipation was at fever pitch.

The place was packed with balding 50-something men, wearing loose fitting shirts and jeans, accompanied by their worn and weathered spouses. Ageing is a bugger.

Let's face it. We were all there to capture, freeze and frame a glimpse of our youth.

The parties where Rock Lobster was played over and over and over again on the record player, the stylus skimming across the vinyl as the floorboards bounced under the weight of stomping feet.

Or singing aloud to Love Shack on the car radio on the way to the beach.

This was what we wanted. To be young again. Just for a couple of hours.

We missed the first support act, Mental as Anything, which didn't bother me. The Proclaimers were up next and delivered a solid 45-minute show, featuring all the hits (I think they only had three). These blokes are more Scottish than Scotland. Are they identical twins? The highlight was a rousing audience sing-along of 500 Miles.

The B52s rocked onto the stage at around 9.30pm. The first thing we noticed was the sound. It was friggin' loud and, to my sensitive ears, sounded like a chainsaw competing with a jackhammer.

It felt about 50 decibels louder than the Proclaimers. And the bass was almost too painful to bear. It shook up my innards like a milkshake.

Not a good start.

To make matters worse, as the second song reached its crescendo one of the two female singers, Cindy (the one with the blonde beehive), suddenly left the stage.

This threw everything into disarray, with the two remaining singers - Fred and Kate - having to improvise while they waited for Cindy's return. But she didn't come back.

So, the show went on with Kate doing a bloody sterling job, while Fred looked like he'd rather be anywhere than the Enmore.

The room warmed up when the band launched into the old favourites Roam and Planet Claire. The highlights were, of course, Love Shack and Rock Lobster.

However, our dancing was curtailed by the security people who wouldn't let us stand up in our seats (we got up and danced anyway towards the end - Miss Hissy needs to know that sometimes it's OK to challenge those arseholes who wield the 'this-is-the-rules' stick).

As the show came to an end, the guitarist Keith thanked us all and explained that Cindy was dehydrated. I think the band was just grateful there hadn't been a riot, though some disgruntled punters walked out during their performance.

I suppose the moral of this story is to not seek where you know deep down you will surely not find.

The B52s looked just as old and tired as the audience. Maybe it's time to retire to the Bahamas guys?

PS: Miss Hissy still had fun - especially after I plugged her ears with tissues and bought her a $50 T-shirt featuring a picture of a youthful B52s.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Dawny to Cockatoo Swim done and dusted

Around 100 bushfires burnt throughout NSW and the temperature soared, but for the crowd gathered at the Dawn Fraser Pool in Balmain this morning, it was all about the swim.

There was a strong turnout for what is officially acknowledged as the first Sydney ocean swim of the 2009/10 season. This has a lot to do with the growing popularity of ocean swimming. I think lots of people in mid-life crises (such as myself - in my case, the crisis is ongoing until death) are deciding a 2.3 km dip in the harbour is the way to go.

As a result, there's lots of older blokes and 'women of a certain age' taking up ocean swimming as a hobby. It beats scrapbooking.

Balmain Water Polo Club organised the gig like clockwork, with the 1.1 km swimmers heading off from the wharf outside the pool just before 9am. The 'over-56 years' boofy blokes - who look as though they drink like fish, but they also swim like fish - went off first.

I was in shortly after the old codgers.

In summary: it was fun. Visibility in the water was zilch, but I didn't even think about bull sharks as I ploughed out to the first buoy in front of Cockatoo Island.

A larger jelly blubber caromed off my goggles as I swam through hundreds of smaller single-celled creatures. I thought it would feel yucky, but in their element the jellies felt silky and soft, not slimy.

I enjoyed swimming around the island and, out of the corner of my goggles, spotted the Sydney Harbour Bridge and CentrePoint Tower in the far distance.

My dad (old codger in bottom pic), in the role of support person, estimated my time to be around 46 minutes. Fingers crossed for when the results go up next week.

The next challenge is Coogee - if the swell isn't too formidable for this chicky babe who wears the 2009 Mollymook swim as a bloody, battered badge of honour.

Friday, 20 November 2009

I didn't make the High Five but I'm up for the 2.5 around Cockatoo Island


My entry into the Romance Writers of Australia High Five contest didn't make it into the top six finalists. But I'm fine with that (sure - pour me another glass of pinot ya bastards!).

I submitted the first chapter of my ms with no expectations. Still, I was disappointed when my name wasn't on the finalists' list. The judges' feedback should be coming in soon, which makes me even more fearful. If my writing really sucks, in their opinion, I will need to re-think this ms. I might just find a drawer somewhere in all this mess, shove it away, and start something new.

Maybe I will die like Van Gogh and my work will be celebrated after I am gone. I'm joking guys! It's romance for Gawd's sake!

But wouldn't it be one of life's biggest rip-offs to have your work acknowledged posthumously? I suppose Stieg Larsson is a recent example, though he was already published and well-known in Sweden. He wasn't penniless, starving and half-crazed like poor Vincent.

Moving right along... this weekend is my first ocean swim for the 2009/10 season. I'm going into this one with a feeling of trepidation and a tummy bug that's caused me grief for the past week.

It's the Dawny swim around Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour. Dawn Fraser pool is a harbour pool in the inner-west suburb of Balmain. Because the pool has bars to stop the bull sharks from getting in (joking again), the swim starts from a jetty next to it.

There's a 1 km option - out to the first buoy and back - and the 2.5 km swim, which circumnavigates the island. I've done the shorter swim before but this is my first attempt at the longer one.

I'm praying the only thing I run into is jelly blubbers - from memory they're everywhere.

The water temp is supposed to be a pleasant 21 degrees. I hear bull sharks like it warm. And meaty.

If you don't hear from me after the swim, tell Spanner the manuscript is stuffed down the back of my undies drawer - otherwise he'll never find it.
This photo is lifted from my favourite ocean swims website in the universe as we know it

Monday, 16 November 2009

It's not easy being an involved mother

On the weekend I did the right thing and trekked to the NSW Central Coast to watch my youngest daughter, Miss Hissy, sail in the state championships.

I usually leave the sailing to Spanner. He loves it. And Miss Hissy loves Spanner and sailing. They bond over secret sailing chit-chat about jibes, tacks, runs and works. When I try to join the conversation Miss Hissy likes to remind me of my ignorance.

"Oh Mum," she says, rolling her eyes so far back in her head they almost disappear, "why don't you just let Dad explain without interrupting?"

But last weekend was BIG. If she didn't place in the top 12 finishers for Southern NSW, Miss Hissy would fail to make the team to contest the National Sabot titles in December/January.

On Saturday Miss Hissy did well in the two races. Overall, she placed 5th for Southern NSW (out of around 50 competitors).

On Sunday the weather was windy and the water choppy. I was invited to go out on a rigid inflatable - it sounds like some sort of sex aid, but it's a big jet ski/dingy - to get a birds-eye view of the racing.

The passengers sit on the soft (inflated) edges of the vessel, holding onto rope that is looped around the perimeter. The driver sits, jet-ski style, in the middle. The outboard motor gobbles up fuel like there's no tomorrow.

I thought: This will be fun. I'm doing this for Miss Hissy so she can see I'm actively interested in her sailing career. I'm an involved mother.

Along with Spanner and the driver, whose son was also racing, I climbed aboard, wearing a wind jacket for protection against the elements.

The next three hours were hell.

The driver immediately gave the inflatable full throttle and we pounded across the water, bouncing off its unforgiving surface. I flew into the air and landed with a mighty THUD (times this by 100). And every time we smacked the water, I was soaked by the equivalent of six buckets of salty water (times this by 100).

"Are you OK?" The driver shouted as I clung onto the rope for dear life, unable to see anything because my hair was stuck to my face and my sunglasses were askew and saturated.

I laughed hysterically, which he took to mean "yes".

Spanner didn't appear to be having such a hard time. He looked reasonably dry. It took a while for me to realise he had positioned himself at the back of the vessel, where there was less bounce and therefore less splash. Un-bloody-believable.

I endured the two races and Spanner's running commentary (Miss Hissy blew it big time in the final race where she went into irons - where the boat turns into the wind and the sails don't fill).

My duty done, I staggered ashore after we screamed back to the jetty. I was soaked through and had to change into Spanner's spare clothes - a T-shirt with a skull-and-crossbones print and board shorts. And because I forgot to bring a comb I spent the rest of the afternoon looking like someone's eccentric great aunt.

It wasn't until we arrived home after dark that I discovered my mascara had run down my cheeks. No one had bothered to tell me!

So ends the involved mother phase. From now on, I stay on dry land with a pair of binoculars.

PS: Fortunately, Miss Hissy made the team. There is a God.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Beautiful young girls rule the world

I was walking the dog the other day when another dog walker passed me on the way back home.

There's nothing unusual about this scenario, except she was plugged into her iPod and singing at the top of her lungs. The sound was enough to send all the neighbourhood dogs crazy. It was whiny and screechy, but she was oblivious to her lack of vocal talent.

She sashayed past me with a flick of her shiny, waist-length brown hair, dragging a small, white feather-duster dog on a diamante leash.

The walker was around 20, with legs up to her ears and wearing brief, hot-pink shorts and a skimpy top that showed a healthy amount of cleavage.

Get the picture?

I slowed down and contemplated my own dog-walking ensemble. From top to bottom it was: Gilligan hat in lime green, mauve T-shirt, a pair of tomato-sauce red terry-towelling gym pants with GT stripe on the outside legs (they're a 'size 14 girl', but my two daughters wouldn't wear them). And on the feet, a pair of red ecco sandals with velcro straps that I snapped up for $3 at the Salvo's store in Ulladulla (had to put that in - what a bargain!)

Accessories: mongrel dog, grubby lime-green leash and one bag of steaming dog poo.

As I dragged my heels (and the mutt), I wondered how it had come to this. The thing is I no longer set out to impress anyone with my appearance. That's not to say I don't care. But it is to say I don't worry. It's a middle-age thing.

As I turned the corner, the gorgeous young thing with a voice like a fishwife (thank god she wasn't perfect) walked straight ahead to the main road.

At the same time, a middle-aged bloke in a 4WD drove past and towards the main road and almost veered into a light pole. And it wasn't because he was horrified by my outfit.

In ya dreams, mate!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Al Green to tour Australia and I'm missing out

For half my life I have waited for the Reverend Al Green to tour Australia.

I love Al Green. I worship the stage upon which he walks and the pulpit from which he preaches. His music transports me to that space between heaven and earth where the seraphims hover on his soulful sounds.

But enough hero worship. Al Green is coming to Australia for the first time and I won't be here. Well, I will. But I won't be on mainland Australia. I'll be in bloody Tasmania!

Tassie seemed like an excellent idea at the time. I've never been to the Apple Isle and was looking forward to seeing some of the most spectular scenery the world has to offer.

But then Green's peeps come along and put a spanner in the works. Green is the headline artist at the launch of the Sydney Festival in the Domain on January 9. That's the day I fly down to Tassie.


Green is also doing two shows at the State Theatre, probably the best venue in Sydney to see a live act. Then he goes to Melbourne on the 14th and up to BrizVegas on the 19th. He's doing Perth too. But NOT Tassie. No one does Tassie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I arrive back home on the 17th. I am soooooooo disappointed. The planets are not aligned in my favour. The stars are out of sync. Is there a God? Green thinks so, but I reckon God has slammed the big golden door in my face. Our Father has decided I don't deserve to see Al Green.

Poor alternative: Load The message is love, Nearer my God to Thee, I can't get next to you, How can you mend a broken heart, Take me to the river and Here I am onto my iPod. And pretend I am nearer Al to thee.

Friday, 6 November 2009

The things people say when you decide to quit your job

I didn't quit my job on a whim.

Before I decided to resign, I went on and on and on about it - the long hours, working on weekends, no holiday pay, no sick leave, little support, no spare time, no me time, no kids' time (ha), no Spanner time (ha-ha), anger issues (take that you helpess ant! You call this a glass? Give me the f'in' bottle).

Result: burnt, wrung, dried and strung out. No doubt.

I had turned into a grumpy old bitch a couple of years ahead of schedule.

To shut me up, friends and family either a) supported my decision with encouraging words - you're better than this... where one door closes, another opens... they've exploited you for too long...

b) warned me to be careful of what I was giving up. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

When I told one I didn't have enough time to breathe, let alone write, and that I was juggling at least four tasks at once, he said, 'Remember the old saying, if you want the job done give it to a busy person.'

When I considered these two opposite reactions, it became clear that those who support the resignation have long-term secure jobs and earn good money.

The doomsayers are those whose career paths have tended to be less secure.

But it is done.

Surprisingly, my mum, who is the head cheerleader for shock-jock Alan Jones, is on my team.

She said, 'You're not happy. Take a break.'

I hope she lends me her David Jones card.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

What on earth have I done? I quit my job in the middle of the GFC

This is the story so far.

I recently handed in my resignation. In the middle of a global recession I decided that, after nine years in a demanding job, I'd had enough. I was bloody buggered, burnt out and bitter.

I have a cartoon on my fridge by the author and illustrator Tohby Riddle. There are four frames. In the first is a drawing of a joyful young boy, arms flung wide, who says: 'When I grow up I'm going to be an artist!'

In the second frame is the boy grown up in a suit. Still smiling, he says: 'When I get some spare time I'm going to be an artist!'

Are you starting to get the picture?

Frame 3 is a semi-balding grey-haired man: 'When I retire I'm going to be an artist,' he says.

In the final frame is a wrinkled old man lying in a bed, above him a thought bubble: 'When I get off this life support system I'm going to be an artist.'

This is one of the reasons I quit my job.
When I mailed off my resignation to head office I felt a great weight lift from my shoulders, but now I'm sort of like freaking like right out like!

To be continued - after I have a big glass of chilled white wine, which I won't be able to afford this time next year!
Above is one of Tohby's beautiful illustrations of a clever fox, which might be me one year from now. I reckon Riddle surpasses Leunig as an illustrator. And his magical fantastical stories are whimsical, humorous and scattered with marvellous aphorisms - my BIG WORD OF THE DAY.