Sunday, 25 September 2011

Old pop stars on tour: Alice Cooper, Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks, Suzi Quatro and Daryl and John

Ageing rock stars and bands reforming and touring is nothing new. But lately I've had a case of serious deja vu along with a series of flashbacks to my misspent youth. It's amazing how many old codgers are heading Down Under so they can get cashed up for Christmas. 

And why not? The Australian dollar is strong (or it was until last week when the market went belly-up) and us Aussies apparently have spare cash spilling from every orifice.
I could drown in a blast from the past by forking out to see - 

Daryl Hall and John Oates (supported by Icehouse): The tour is branded 'Two bands that Defined a Generation'. Here's my take - I had a crush on the moustachioed duo (ok, only one had a mo but I wanted to use the word 'moustachioed') and I used to perform a whiny rendition of She's Gone while I sobbed out my teen angst. I also had a mini crush on Iva Davies, lead singer of Icehouse (an Australian band). Then again, I had crushes on every boy pop star back then - except Gary Glitter (he was always super creepy). To say these performers 'defined a generation' is stretching it. Does this mean the children of the '70s are all lightweights? (DON'T ANSWER THAT)

Suzi Quatro: When I was 13, I phoned a radio station and won tickets to see Suzi Quatro at the Hordern Pavilion. This was back in the day when Quatro had a scary bikie following. She was and still is, aged 61, a trouper. And she still looks and dresses the same - like a '70s rock chick. I'd be in it just to hear Devil Gate Drive live again - if I won a ticket to the show.  

Rod Stewart: I saw RS when I was 14. My friend Kathy Mullaney was obsessed with the kilt-wearing Scotsman - she had Maggie May on replay on her record player - and bought us tickets to his SCG concert. We'd never been to an 'arena' style show and modelled our dress-code on Woodstock. We wore our bikinis under our jeans and T-shirts. Now Rod is much older and I am much wiser.

Alice Cooper: I used to catch the bus to school every day and Liz Kenny, who was in my year, was at the same stop ranting on about her obsession with Alice. I never warmed to Liz... or Alice. Still, School's Out remains the school-leavers' anthem after almost 40 years. But I have no desire to return to the bus stop.   

Stevie Nicks: I almost forgot to mention sweet Stevie, who must have THE best cosmetic surgeon because, despite years of drug and alcohol abuse, she looks amazing. I saw (sort of) Fleetwood Mac, Santana, Little River Band (and some other group I should remember but don't) at a concert at the SCG the day after I finished my final Higher School Certificate (HSC) exam and school was out forever. I just happened to be off my face at the time (having plundered the Esky), consuming enough booze to sedate a rampaging hippo. I'm embarrassed to admit I can't recall much of anything from that night.  

And that's just around half-a-dozen old codgers on tour. Stevie Wonder's coming too and I would love to see him live but the platinum tickets for his only Australian gig at the Star Casino cost $979.90. 

What a joke. I'll have to make do with a Best of Stevie Wonder CD.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Swims and snorkels at Fairy Bower in Sydney: spring has finally arrived

Manly is a stone's throw from Fairy Bower
I don't enjoy swimming in freezing cold water but yesterday I was tempted to dive into the ocean for the first time since June when I last swam at Byron Bay (a dreadful admission from someone who has the temerity to call herself an ocean swimmer).

I met Ms Onyabike and Mr and Mrs Snorkel at Fairy Bower, the only place in the world you'd want to be. As I waited for them to arrive a carefully groomed, 30-something bloke strolled past with another couple and a small child (the must-have accessory after the cockadoodle whateveritis spaniel combo). 

He said of the shimmering scene before him: "It's all very Euro."

You can see Shelly Beach from Fairy Bower
He's sort of right but not. Fairy Bower is in Cabbage Tree Bay, a stone's throw from the calm waters of  Shelly Beach and the surf beach at Manly.

I'd say the 30-something bloke looked at the sparkling bay and saw the colours of the Mediterranean that are Photoshopped in tourist brochures - aquamarine, turquoise and indigo on the one palette. 

There's no sand either, just smoothish caramel rocks and a small man-made harbour pool. The walkway from Manly to Shelly is bustling with human traffic, people walking dogs, riding bikes, pushing strollers and jogging. A whitewashed cafe with outdoor seating could be in some little village on The Riviera but I bet the coffee's better at FB.
On the rocks. Look at Mr Snorkel's skinny old pegs
To me this Sydney in a nutshell. 

When my friends arrived we did go for a swim. I don't have a wetsuit so it was in (brrr!) and swim - no time to think about the cold. After I got used to it, I can't tell you how wonderful it felt to be back in the ocean again, especially since the swim takes you over a shallow reef that is home to an abundance of sea life. As Mrs Snorkel noted, there were lots of nice looking "eating" fish hanging at the Bower. 

My guess is the water temperature was 17-18 degrees Celcius. The air temp was more like 26 degrees.  

Simply Perfect. Simply Sydney*.

* Simply cliched!

Monday, 12 September 2011

The demise of the aqua cossie: when too much flesh equals too much information

Argh! Borat's cossie is a little too revealing
So, I arrive at this morning's swim squad, peel off my clothes and saunter over to the group, which is in three discrete sections for lanes 8, 7 and 6. I ingratiate myself into the lane 7 group next to my friend Mr Very Big (VB) and we await instructions from our coach Mr Nice Guy. 

VB has a cheeky grin when he says in that charming Irish brogue, "You'll be needing a new cossie then."

I don't understand what he means so he helps out with: "This one's full of holes."

My aqua swimming costume has done the hard yards since I bought it a couple of ocean swims' seasons ago and I knew it was time to get a new one. But because I like to wear things to the point of falling apart, I kept pushing my luck. Today my luck ran out.

I gaze in horror to where he's pointing at my left side. The stitching that holds together the vertical seam down one side of my cossie has split from knickers' height to just below my boob. I plaster my arm along my side in the hope that no one else has witnessed this ghastly sight of middle-aged woman blubber. 

VB jokes about turning it into a bikini but I'm not laughing. The Irish accent only has so much pulling power. 

Rather than turn around and go home, I decide to forge ahead regardless of the outcome. If the thing falls apart while I'm swimming I'll just have to wear it (or not). 

When I hop out of the pool - last - after one-and-a-half hours, the cossie has split a little more. Way too much flesh is on display. 

I love my aqua cossie but tonight it goes in the bin.  

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Where were you on 9/11?

I was at the gym. This was my routine in 2001: wake at 5.15am, dress and drive to peasants' gym (I couldn't afford the cost of the ruling-class gym), arrive at 5.30am. It's still dark. The gym, a cold and uninviting space located in a disused factory, is opened by a part-time uni student. He is underpaid and not too concerned that he's 15 minutes late. 

Once inside, I start my routine and hop onto the stationary bike while the uni student fiddles with the remote control that activates two wall-mounted TVs. 

And there it is, a vision so terrifying that it takes a couple of minutes for anything to sink in. What is this? Is it for real? As news reporters confirm that we're not watching some ridiculous stunt, the two of us look on, horrified, as New York's Twin Towers collapse in a pile of 'stuff' that seems to evaporate into gigantic billowing clouds and monstrous licking flames before our eyes. 

This scene is repeated over and over and over again for the benefit of Sydneysiders who've just woken up to a brand new day. 

I don't have a mobile phone. So, I go through the motions. What else can I do? I watch the TV as I do my weights workout. 

I recall that I'd gone to the top floor of the World Trade Center in 1990 and stood mesmerised by the breathtaking views over Manhattan. 

At 6.30am I arrive home and wake everyone up, though Spanner's already up and blissfully unaware of the horrific events that took place while we were sleeping. I flick on the TV and we watch the World Trade Center implode again and again. 

And still, 10 years on I watch horrified as that gut-wrenching moment is replayed. 

My heart is with all those who lost someone in 9/11 and my thoughts are with those who continue to live with the nightmare. 

Monday, 5 September 2011

The Bunker Bay shark attack is a tragic case of wrong time, wrong place

Bunker Bay, WA, where a body surfer was mauled to death by a shark
Readers of this blog know I'm an advocate for sharks and follow the mantra "don't swim in the surf at dawn or dusk" because that's when these primordial animals are usually out hunting for something tasty to eat.

Sadly, there are exceptions to the rule. In Western Australia, what is thought to have been a great white shark yesterday "savaged" and killed a body surfer. The attack occurred at midday.

The 21-year-old was catching waves at popular surf spot Boneyards Break, Bunker Bay.
Here's part of the story published at (WT) that might help explain this tragedy:

'The attack occurred in an area popular with surfers and anglers and close to a seal colony, to the west of Cape Naturaliste, a noted whale-watching spot about three hours' drive south of Perth.

"You could have described it as perfect shark conditions . . . dark and gloomy water, overcast skies, light rain falling. There was whale action earlier in the morning in the bay, and there were seals about," Sergeant Craig Anderson from the Dunsborough police said.'

The death of this young bloke appears to be a case of mistaken identity. Is it a seal? Let's take a bite and see. 
In 2009, Perth Now reported that there had been 18 shark attacks in WA since 1997, four of them fatal.

The story in WT ends with: 'Yesterday's attack is the third fatal shark mauling in Australia in just over 12 months, and the second in WA's south-west.

The attack happened about an hour’s drive from Gracetown, where 31-year-old Nicholas Edwards was killed by a shark on August 17 last year.

In February, an abalone diver was taken by two sharks, believed to be great whites, at Coffin Bay, South Australia.'

I feel it's important to remember here that it's not the shark's fault. It was cruising its territory doing what predatory animals do - looking for the next meal. Or it may have just been curious. The awful outcome is that someone has died as a result. 

PS: Photo of Bunker Bay from WT

Saturday, 3 September 2011

A colonoscopy has nothing to do with Uranus, or does it?

I'm not going to explore the ins and outs of the colonoscopy. Suffice to say I had one on Friday (my mum had colon cancer so I'm also at risk) and the best thing about it was being knocked out and waking up again to a cup of milky tea and a tuna and salad sandwich.

The colonoscopy got me thinking about Uranus. Traditionally the seventh planet from the Sun was pronounced 'Yoor-ay-nus'. 

But somewhere along the way I suspect the Americans, god bless their cotton socks, decided this was too crude and changed it to 'Yoor-uh-nuhs'. notes Uranus, when pronounced this way, can become confused with the word 'urinous'. 

Thing is, it was always pronounced 'YOOR-AY-NUS' when I was growing up. What the frick is wrong with that? 

When I point at the night sky and say, "Uranus is somewhere out there" no one is going to become confused about my meaning. Let's behave like adults. How often do I (or you) talk to others about their anuses. "By the way, how's your anus?" Mmm, maybe in certain circles...

That conveniently brings me to the word 'route'. In the song Route 66, made famous by Chuck Berry and The Rolling Stones, route was pronounced 'root', making it a homophone. But that's all changed with the introduction of the word 'rowt' for 'route'. 

I still say, "What root/route are you taking?" 

The meaning is clear enough. And if I were to say, "I feel like a root" it's obvious I'm not talking about hopping on a bus, although it does sound as though I'm hoping to embark on another type of physical journey.

My final gripe is with ARSEHOLE. Why is it spelt 'asshole'? An ass is a donkey. But now it's also a bum. What's wrong with 'arsehole'? Wikipedia notes that 'arse may refer to the British/Irish English vulgarism for the buttocks...'

Which brings me full circle: back to Uranus. 

The end. 

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The end is in 5 billion years so let's swim

I heard an astronomer talking on the radio yesterday. He said Planet Earth would "evaporate" in 5 billion years when the sun finally petered out - but not before exploding in a spectacular fashion to take us with it.

Of course, I won't be around in 5 billion years. That's ridiculous. That's like, way beyond my pea-brain comprehension. But my guess is that we will have nuked our poor old abused planet well before its natural use-by-date.

Oddly enough, the thought of there one day not being anything made me feel really sad. So I booked a flight to the Gold Coast.

There are lots of ocean swims in incredible locations coming up in the next few months. I couldn't afford the Hamilton or Heron Island swims on the Great Barrier Reef. For the cost of the airfares, accommodation, etc... to get to those locations I could fly to the States and back on a seven day holiday package. And have money to spare.

The other value for money option was the swim at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast on October 23. It's a 2km swim along a lovely stretch of Queensland coastline.  Airfares to the Gold Coast are reasonably priced and there's loads of great accommodation that won't break the bank.

I know you can't beat the reef but this isn't half bad.

Find out more about the swim at:
or go to the Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park Surf Life Saving Club's website at:

I feel better now. Or I will soon. Possibly. But the 5 billion years is a killer. I won't dwell on it. I'll focus on sun, surf and sand... but not sand that gets into the crotch of your cossies or blows into your eyes. I want golden sand that doesn't move and isn't too hot underfoot... 5 billion years...