Showing posts from January, 2012

The Summer of Cricket (Adventures in PND)

I've been watching a bit of test cricket lately. No one is more surprised by this than me. I've never watched cricket in my life - I'm Irish, so it never figured in our house growing up - and I still have very little idea what's going on. You don't really need to, though. What appeals to me about the cricket is the very soothing dullness of it. As Bill Bryson described it: Imagine a form of baseball in which the pitcher, after each delivery, collects the ball from the catcher and walks slowly with it out to center field; and that there, after a minute's pause to collect himself, he turns and runs full tilt toward the pitcher's mound before hurling the ball at the ankles of a man who stands before him wearing a riding hat, heavy gloves of the sort used to handle radioactive isotopes, and a mattress strapped to each leg. Imagine moreover that if this batsman fails to hit the ball in a way that heartens him sufficiently to try to waddle forty feet with mattress

The Hell With Labor

Back when the whole Bill Henson nude child photos controversy was in the media, I felt like the only lefty art lover in Australia who thought what Henson did was really, deeply wrong. The worst thing was the company I kept; I wanted to be on the side of the arty types I admired, not - dear god - Miranda bloody Devine. I've always derided the Julia Gillard haters. I'm not talking about the people who evaluate her entire record and have justifiable concerns with some of the decisions she's made; I'm talking about those rabid opponents of everything she does not matter what; the type who clog talkback radio, who were declaring in the comments of New Ltd websites the day she rose to the position that she was the Worst Prime Minister ever. Those people. They don't want a female Prime Minister, they don't understand how democracy works, they don't know what the government does, all they know is they're against it. Even though I stopped supporting Labor years a

My Stars - The New Young Talent Time

Like so many other Australian children of my generation, growing up there was pretty much nothing on Earth I wanted more than to be on Young Talent Time. To be a star on the all-signing, all-dancing, dreadful-joke telling, pineapple-costume wearing variety show that was a staple of Australian television through the 1970s and 1980s? Where do I sign up? The show sent my imagination into a spin. I sang, I danced, I begged my mother to make me a dress with a sequined bodice and bubble skirt. I wanted to be one of those kids so badly it hurt. What child wouldn't want to dress like this? Courtesy News Mail. Of course there were several obstacles in my way. For a start the show was filmed in Melbourne, and we lived in Sydney; I'd never received any form of singing or dancing training, despite my pleas (my father regarded spending money on children for anything that wasn't absolutely necessary as spoiling them); and most crucially, I had no talent whatsoever - my singing makes thos

A Gamble We Must Win

I envy people who have moral certitude. DH is what I would refer to as a fundamentalist atheist. Convinced there is no god, that there couldn't possibly be a god, that in the face of the evidence it is foolish to believe otherwise. He spends hours reading and debating atheist philosophy I can't pretend to understand, but the basic principle is simple. No god. I envy that. I'm all confused. I would describe myself, depending on how I'm feeling on the day, as anything from semi-agnostic lapsed Catholic through to atheist. It's hard to escape the Irish Catholic upbringing, and I've never quite gotten over the concept of sin. I'm a lefty these days, of course, which means there aren't many things I would actually class as a sin that don't involve cruelty to small children or animals. But if there's one thing I would class as sinful, it's gambling. Everything about it is wrong. I don't think we should all go around wearing hair shirts at the s

Under Review

Remember the old days when you had to rely on the opinions of people you knew, liked and trusted when making decisions about places to stay and eat? No more! Now thanks to internet reviews, there's the opinions of thousands of random strangers to ignore when making holiday decisions! At least, I can only assume online opinions are being ignored, otherwise why on Earth would people continue to stay here ? I've walked past this place, and it looks like what you think it's going to look like. So who is staying there? I can only surmise either people who don't log on to review sites until after they've visited a place, or people who have read the reviews but think that for them, somehow, it will be different (there's a third, terrifying category - those who see this as some sort of hardcore, Ultimate Accommodation experience). Admittedly it's not all bad. At least it won't be your generic Holiday Inn experience where it doesn't matter if you're in Pr

A Piece of Cake

Motherhood to me isn't just about providing a warm nurturing environment in which BabyG can reach his full potential. It's also a vicious, blood thirsty competition that I have to win or kill everyone else and myself in the process of trying. Good is not good enough. I have to have the cutest, smartest, best dressed baby. No pressure in him though - the failure is all on my head, for I must also have the most secure and well adjusted baby. It's a lot to live up to. The thing to do on blogs these days is make a rainbow cake and post about it; following in the steps of Whisk Kid , whose rainbow cake was so beautiful, so perfect, she appeared on Martha Stewart to illuminate its superiority. No dedicated Mommy or baking blogger can hold up their head without a post about the rainbow cake; how difficult it was, but how the spectacular results were all worth it - especially to see the looks of delight on the faces of the assembled children when the rainbow cake was produced. We&#

The Saddest Trip

Just to warn people - this post is about suicide, particularly suicide by train. Some of the details are gory and upsetting. I have included them not to be exploitative but to emphasise the horror of it all, and hopefully start people thinking. If you have an issue with what I have written, please  contact me  to discuss it. Thanks. Last night it was with a heavy heart I read of a fatality on the rail line not far from where we live. As it turns out, the young man who was killed was likely spraying graffiti on the rail line before he was struck. Tragic and horrible for his family - some might say he deserved his fate for trespassing on railway property to deface it, but I really don't think spraying graffiti quite warrants the death penalty. At first when I heard the news however, I assumed he had taken his own life. It's depressingly familiar, in every sense of the term, to the regular rail commuter -  barely a week goes by without the announcement of delays on the network due

A Chat About Vaccination

There seems to be the beginnings of a whooping cough epidemic underway in Western Australia, and it has brought the issue of vaccination into discussion - not that it ever really goes away. Whooping cough is a horrible illness. When I was expecting BabyG, I asked all our extended family to get boosters; I had a booster myself before leaving hospital, and was wary of taking him out until he hit the six week mark when he could have his first vaccination, which we took him for straight away. There's a lot of anger directed at those deemed the cause of this outbreak - the anti-vaccinators, and chief target of their ire is Meryl Dorey, head of the Australian Vaccination Network, who appears regularly in the media to discuss the risks of vaccinations. Some of her views are extremely dangerous - she believes in the efficacy of homeopathic vaccinations, for example, and has spoken on Indigenous Radio linking vaccinations with a doubling in infant death rates - which, given the health stat

Why Retail Is Dying, Part Two

We live in a dormitory suburb. Everyone heads off to the city on the train in the morning and returns at night. There are a lot of pretty little local shops and cafes, but not many people around during the weekdays to patronise them. Being the summer holidays right now though, there are lots of people around during the day. You'd think the local small retailers - independent shops mostly selling $30 candles, artistic greeting cards, and wrought iron chairs - would be revelling in the increased trade. But they are all closed, off on their long summer vacation. Most of the local retailers are shut for the next week, some until well into January. Of course small business owners need to go on holiday just as much as the rest of us but - considering we're always hearing that retail is dying, especially independent suburban businesses as people abandon their local shops for the lure of the mega mall - shouldn't they at least try to be around when their customers are? It stretches