Wednesday, 31 January 2007

On Broadway

Was just out lunching with me mate, AJ, when a bloke leaned into the restaurant and started shouting venomous go-back-to-where-you-came-from type insults to the group sitting in the window. Ever the Quixote, I jumped up, somehow thinking that my intervention would defuse the situation, restore peace to the people sitting in the window, pacify the angry man and smash racism the world over. By the time I'd begun making my impromptu this-is-not-ok speech, I belatedly registered that the angry man was an angry and very ill man. He couldn't see me, though I was standing an armlength away from him. One of the people at the table came and suggested (with thanks) that I ignore him. While I just stood there, a feckless would-be human shield, the man left. Which left Adrian to talk calm back into me over my basil tofu. I'm still shaking. How the people in the window are feeling, or the man, I can't imagine.

Monday, 29 January 2007

I like the feel of chenille

News just in: chenille, the stuff of bathrobes the world over, turns out to be French for CATERPILLAR, which in turn derives from the word for LITTLE DOG. Yes, LITTLE DOG. No - I know I promised only one dog reference per fortnight, and this is the second for the day - but this information is TRUE. And USEFUL. You never know when some scoundrel will try to fob you off with a box of caterpillars (or - heaven forfend - puppies) instead of a posh dressing gown.

My trusty Oxford Anglo Lexicon describes chenille as "A kind of velvety cord, having short threads or fibres of silk and wool standing out at right angles from a core of thread or wire, like the hairs of a caterpillar; used in trimming and bordering dresses and furniture." But of course! Like the hairs of a caterpillar! The Parisian haberdasher who came up with that one wasn't just a pretty face.

While it's plain to see how the fabric took its name from the caterpillar, it's not as clear how caterpillars resemble little dogs. But we blame not France here. Those tricksy Romans were calling caterpillars "caniculae" from way back.

The plot thickens: a véhicule à chenilles, rather than being a truck full of caterpillars, or puppies, or bathrobes, is one of those tractor jobs with the two endless steel bands on each side. Perfect for traversing rough terrain, as is the limited edition chenille commando trouser.

Chenille! Versatile, absorbent, stylish, and like a small brown insect given to devouring cabbage.


One of these characters is the de facto leader of the Australian Greens and the other is his impersonator. Both believe passionately in environmental conservation and engage in a range of ecologically sustainable practices, such as urinating on native trees, using solar heating, and walking to work whenever possible. So indistinguishable have these two figures become that in order to maintain his discrete identity, Senator Brown has been forced to break with tradition and give up his daily stick-fetching exercises on the lawn above Parliament House.

The Australian Greens have long been active advocates of canine rights, especially on the hotly contested issue of sniffer dogging. When asked to comment, Brown's impersonator replied, "Woof".

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Ray White, Esq., you ain't got nuffin' on this one

Take the C from BEECROFT REAL ESTATE, move it along seven spaces, and voila!, you get BEER OF TREACLE STATE, which sounds much nicer.

Stay tuned for more hardhitting cultural commentary from Lexicon Harlot & Friends.

Aaaacckkkk! Robats!

The first born niece and I made an expotition last night to the Bennelong Point House of Vaudeville and High Culture. This inspired a pleasing feeling of auntliness and a general impression that the younger generation's company should be sought out more often. While we (at any rate, I) basked in the warmth of intergenerational theatre-going, the three artistes in whose honour we had ventured forth dived head first onto the stage floor and began an hour of anatomy-defying contortion that would change my entire Weltanschauung.* All my life, I've been content to abide by the conviction that I Cannot Touch the Small of My Back with My Nose (to say nothing of the conviction that I Cannot Stand on One Foot While Holding a Fully-Grown Chap Upside Down in the Palm of My Hand). But these three artistes, with their muscles and their triple jointed ankles and their magical spines, have planted the seeds of doubt and jealousy in my mind. Maybe I Should Be Able to Touch the Small of My Back with My Nose. Indeed, Why Can I Not? Am I, As I Suspect, Woefully Inadequate As a Nose-Manoeuverer and Human Being? It is eminently clear that I have frittered away a life in stamp-collecting and crossword-solving, a life that could have been spent learning how to hang by one toe three metres from the ground. Henceforth, and in the spirit of self-improvers across the known world, I will devote myself to the pursuit of acrobatics and perpendicular relations with vertical structures (like other people's torsoes).

Accountability is the first law of Self-Improvement, wherefore I herewith publish my preliminary training regime. Please feel free to monitor my progress.

Week 1
Learn to do two consecutive push-ups.

Week 2
Learn to hang from trapeze by toe.

Week 3
Learn to hang from trapeze by toe while holding grown man by the left nostril (or right nostril, depending which of his nostrils is stronger).

Week 4
Learn to do handstand.

Week 5
Learn to do handstand resolving in quadruple aerial somersault with triple pike and cherry on top.

Week 6
Learn to fly (this may require a high protein diet; eat lots of cashews and soy beans).

Week 7
Learn to fly while bearing bodyweight of six inverted adults on one knee.

Week 8
Learn to swallow entire body and then emerge from right ear, while on a trapeze.

Etc. (I have to google "acrobat" and "tricks" for some more ideas.)

* It is because I have been learning words like "Weltanschauung" that I have not had time to become an acrobat. Observe its use in the paragraph above and judge how much better my time would have been spent in learning to stand on my index finger.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Be Prepared

Noone who knows me from a bar of soap (and let's just say, without probing too deeply into Harlot's Water Conservation & Personal Hygiene policy, that bars of soap and I don't have overly much in common) - as I say, noone who knows me from a bar of soap - will admit any doubt that I have always been one of our generation's foremost nationalists. Every morning I have hoiked up the flag to a rousing rendition of "Reveille" on banjo and lagerphone, and then removed my akubra for not just one, but two national anthems: "God Save Our Gracious Matilda" and "Advance Australia Fair". For three years I have religiously observed the ANZAC biscuit diet. I have trodden the inferior soil of inferior nations, like Italy, wearing nothing but a pair of blundstones, a drizabone, and a Ken Done jumpsuit. Merely typing the words "Rolf Harris" has made me break out in cold wobble boards. I rest my case: I have been the jingo belle of the ball.

What better person, then, to lead the faithless back to the light on the hill? What better time for it than Australia Day? Thus I found myself last night reviving old traditions with my acolytes-in-Australianism, Bernhilde and Timotheos. I led them by
bus to Coogee. We battled our way through acres of bodies clad in Australian flag bikinis (such reverent national pride! it brought a tear to my eye!). We observed as a young man, so overcome by the sheer joy of his citizenship and his Tooheys New, removed his clothes and pranced stark bollocky naked across the picnic ground to the resounding praises of his compatriots. This reminded us that "genitalia" is one of few words that rhyme with "Australia" (also "swamp azalea" and "dismal failure"). Undeterred, we found our spot on the hill, and the rituals of nationhood began.

While the rituals of nationhood in our immediate vicinity were matters of beer, mosquito repellant, and vaunting one's despicably perfect buttocks (see young man, above), ours was a rite of pikelet mix, a fruit tin, a candle, a cigarette lighter. Twenty years ago, at Brownies (yes, yes, yes, I was a Brownie), I cooked a pikelet on top of an old fruit tin by the heat of a candle. For twenty years, I've been longing to do it again. Last night was my chance, and I had called out Timotheos and Bernhilde as my support crew. Unfortunately, in planning for this event, I had neglected to punch holes in my fruit tin to allow the candle's smoke an escape route. Also unfortunately, I'd selected a stubby little tealight, whereas I needed a taller candle to make flame contact with the top of the tin. After three hours of trying vainly to heat pikelet mix on the top of an inverted fruit tin with a tealight candle, we were thoroughly disgusted with Australia Day. The "Young, Hot and Aussie" t-shirts were starting to look tawdry. The abundance of naked flesh tattooed with stick-on Australian flags was becoming downright sinister. And still we had 300 mL of cold pikelet mix.

What is worse, though, is that I had started to lose faith in my skills as an ex-Brownie. Surely the lessons we learnt from Brown Owl were meant to be lifelong? Surely I could still, if called upon, erect a viable shelter with six wooden stakes and a pair of superannuated stockings? Or stuff a hotdog into an empty milkcarton and cook it by setting the milkcarton alight? Or save lives with nothing but a handkerchief and a 20c piece? Surely, surely, I did not still need Brown Owl to make my pikelet cooking appatarus work? Nay, the slimy dribble of pikelet mix put paid to all my Brownie pride. My recent fridge acquisition success receded back into perspective.

Today I am practising my clovehitches and studying semaphore. I must recoup my Brownie skills before I move to the 'Bourn. An interstate soloist needs her reefknots and her tracking signs. Who knows when the Melbourne tram system might suddenly grind to a halt, forcing me to erect shelters out of toothbrushes and dental floss? Noone knows (except, perhaps, the Freemasons). That is why we must always Be Prepared.

Thursday, 25 January 2007

Gratuitous Hound-Related Post #4

"Happiness is a warm beagle."
- Charles Schulz
N.B. Don't comment. It's best not to encourage me.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Like, way cool

In my ongoing series of Minor Accomplishments that Foster a Pleasing Illusion of Competence, today I bought my first ever fridge. I did this via the telephone, with the aid of the internet (competent use of which suggests competence in general) and my mastercard (competently acquired by me without lying to the bank, a sure sign of my ability to cope with the vicissitudes of life at large).

I haven't met this fridge yet, as she lives in the 'Bourn, but her photograph appears in the Preston Good Guys January Catalogue, and, in a fridgy sort of way, she seems a good sort. A pleasing 220 litres deep, with shelves, a crisper, a freezer, and - the catalogue didn't mention this, but one hopes - food cooling potential. In my supreme competence, I have organised for her to be delivered the day that I fly south. If the Preston Good Guys and the Removalist Company that Shall Not Be Named are as competent as I seem to be, she will arrive an hour and a half after my collection of books, musical instruments, and (thanks for nothing, comrades) lion hats. This should give me and my astonishing life skills time to clear a path through the boxes. Then I will connect the fridge to the powerpoint (here my competence will be stretched to its maximum potential, but I trust it will prevail), allow the fridge to cool (assuming that I have indeed signed up for a cooling fridge), and stock it with Melbourne's finest selection of tofus and perishable sweetmeats.

All of this reassures me immensely. My life may be packed up in boxes and strewn across the globe, but dammit, if I can organise myself a fridge, what can I not organise? Pandemonium, consider yourself warned.

Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Lion Hat, free to good home

I have reluctantly decided not to take this fine sample of New South Welsh millinery to Victoria, but I will post it to anyone, anywhere in the world, with a burning desire - nay, even with an altogether damp and sodden desire - to sport such a beast atop their head. Applications in verse will receive my full attention. No need to mention to my dear progenitors that this hat and I will be parting ways.

Out of kilter

After fourteen years of jigging it up with the Northern Suburbs Scottish Highland Pipe Band, last night I handed in my sporran and did the old resigneroo. There were tears (or what would have been tears, were my ex-fellow-bandspersons not congenitally predisposed to stiff upper lippery), firm handshakes, and a dozen sets of bagpipes mournfully impersonating flatulent geese. I delivered a rousing oration (yes, of course I did), exhorting my ex-fellow-bandspersons to pipe louder, faster, and in ever less socially appropriate locations, then promptly nicked off with a new reed.

Not being myself congenitally predisposed to stiff upper lippery, I here shed a tear for the piping life that was, for a band that strathspeyed its way through the Sheik Zaid Camel Racing Championships, for countless ripostes to strangers enquiring after my knickers, for airport security staff understandably concerned about letting ten sets of disassembled bagpipes pass for hand luggage. Farewell, Northern Suburbs Scottish Highland Pipe Band! May your kilts never be caught by indecorous gusts of wind, your bags never suffer puncture wounds just before important performances, and may your silly hats provide ongoing delight to silly hat fanciers across the nation.*

* These silly hats bear no resemblance to silly hat featured above.

Sunday, 21 January 2007

Third Gratuitous Dog Posting of the Week

Wilbur Harlot yawns. Clan Harlot speaks of nothing else for the next fortnight.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

What's wrong with masochism?

Beats me.

De-livery and de-hearty

In honour of my much vaunted impending migration, I was having dealings yesterday with the delivery people (so called because their prices, in internal organ terms, are the rough equivalent of a liver replacement). After clearly pronouncing and spelling my name to Wayne on the telephone, I received this email:
Good Morning Mrs Johnson,

Please find attached below a blank inventory form for you to complete and return to me.


"Lexicon Harlot", "Mrs Johnson": a perfectly obvious phonetic confusion. As it happens, I rather fancy "Mrs Johnson". I'd have to stick rhinestones to the corners of my glasses, and sport one of those precarious 1950s beehive hairdos, but I really think I could pull this one off.

In other close encounters with the wonderful world of commerce: I, Mrs Johnson, was walking past the jeweller's yesterday, when I chanced upon this advertisement:

Valentine's Day Special
If you can't say it, why not engrave it?

I have often thought this myself. Words that confound even the most eloquent tongue always go down wonderfully well chiseled into a slab of pewter. I can see it now, romantics the nation over exchanging tokens of speech impediment, bracelets engraved with all the things we find so difficult to say in moments of deep passion, like "A skunk sat on a stump and thunk the stump stunk, but the stump thunk the skunk stunk", or "Six thick thistle sticks, six thick thistles stick".

Ah, young love.

Friday, 19 January 2007

Back by Popular Demand, the Hound

"There's noone like a beagle"
(SATB a capella)

Oh, there's noone like a beagle
When his ears are long and soft
And he's prancing down the hallway
With his tail held aloft
And you're sitting on the toilet
And he noses ope the door,
Drops his chew toy in your knickers
Which then sink down to the floor.

Too roo loo, too roo loo, too roo loo, beagle!
Too roo loo, too roo loo, too roo loo, loo!

Thursday, 18 January 2007

The Voyage of the Basset

Awright, I hear yas, a dog in a car does not a post maketh. I promise, there will be no more than one gratuitous homage to the hound per fortnight.

Das Fledermaus

The Leichhardt Ladies' Hostel, wherein I am wont to boil my lentils, has turned into a veritable halfway house for impoverished rovers. First there was Our Hanna, Revolutionary Sister & Polyglot (1st Grade). Being both a former housemate and Max the Cat's birth-mother, Our Hanna had an obvious claim to the LLH's hospitality. As a soon to be former housemate myself, I naturally defend the rights of former housemates to flounce into the Leichhardt Ladies' Hostel, find themselves a corner of mattress, sup from the communal lentil pot, and join in with the weekly festivities (viz., Extreme Flea Swatting, defence of the cat's breakfast [from the other cat], and the usual round of parlour games). Our Hanna - suffice to say - brings joy and enlightenment wheresoever she goes, and we all sighed full sore last week when she was sucked back into the vortex of Europeville.

Meanwhile, one of Hanna's German cohabitrixes has stopped by to sample old-fashioned Aussie homelife in its purest form. We at the Leichhardt Ladies' Hostel comprise, of course, your typical Australian family unit, dinky-di from our Country Women's Association memberships to our kangaroo skin underpants. In return, the German cohabitrix has been assisting Max with his vocabulary, generally being a good sort, and relaying tales of linguistic misadventure in Sydneytown.

And here I come to my point: what sort of rapscallion tells an innocent tourist - wearing spectacles, no less!* - that the winged mammals hanging from their toes in the Botanical Gardens are WOMBATS? The German cohabitrix spent a good fifteen minutes last night describing the flock of wombats she'd watched flapping their way across the city. Yes, wombats, the man told me so. It took my German-English dictionary and all Comrade Emma's powers of persuasion to convince her he'd been lying. The scoundrel.

It makes me ashamed of being an Australian. Even if "Australian" is an anagram for "Saturnalia". And "German" only an anagram for "Manger". Or "Engram". Or "Rag Men". Ashamed, I tell you.

* We of the Revolutionary Sisterhood have revised the old adage, "Never make passes/ At girls who wear glasses", to the less catchy, "Never tell whoppers about fruitbats/ To tourists wearing spectacles."

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Paddy O'Pera

Catri and I saw what may well be my last ever O'Pera at the Bennelong Point House of Vaudeville and High Culture last night. Alas, I would say; the end of an era; blah blah nostalgia blah; but truth be told, there's only so much Giuseppe Verdi (that's Joe Green, to you) that a personage of my years can watch without melting into a puddle of schmaltz, or resolving to contract tuberculosis and die, very slowly, singing a full-throated aria in improbable defiance of the parlous condition of her lungs.

(Speaking of death by TB - yes, we were - the more nineteenth-century Ladies of Romance and Loose Virtue I see turning consumptive, the more I start to suspect that someone's been pulling a diagnostic swifty. It's not just Our Nic in Moulin Rouge, or Violetta in La Traviata, or Fantine in Les Misérables, or what's-her-name in that Elizabeth Gaskell novel, but virtually EVERY sympathetically portrayed sex worker in the whole vast canon of nineteenth-century letters, who dies of tuberculosis. One can't help having one's suspicions. A commentator more cynical than I may even be moved to suggest consumption as a romantic euphemism for syphilis, but then, it's hard to see how the slow spongification of the lungs could come to be a euphemism for anything.)

Regardless, I dropped a tear on the Bennelong Point House of Vaudeville and High Culture's parquetry, chucked its westernmost sail under the chin, and then got down to the serious business of Spotting Opera-Going B-grade Celebrities. At this point, Catri and I parted deductive ways: I was convinced that the chap sitting four rows in front of us who looked like Geoffrey Rush was Geoffrey Rush; Catri insisted, politely but firmly, that the chap sitting four rows in front of us who looked like Geoffrey Rush was not Geoffrey Rush. Whether this Geoffrey Rush was THE Geoffrey Rush or just a shameless Geoffrey Rush imitator, there was no way I was going to pass up an opportunity to be talent scouted. So I spent the better part of the night ignoring the dying courtesan with the wobbling ... vibrato ... and doing my best to look thespian and alluring.

I'm expecting a call from my agent any minute.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Good Newses with Actual Content

Good News the Greater: Dad has pulled himself out the other side of five hours' solid open heart surgery, God bless 'im. Was looking shorn, knocked about, tube-beriddled and altogether unconscious last night, but this morning has made portentous utterances through a fog of morphine. HOORAH!

Good News the Lesser: Ray White, Esq., was wooed good and proper by my tales of financial solvency and domestic aptitude, ergo neon carpet is mine, just as soon as I sign over my life savings by money order or bank cheque.

Monday, 15 January 2007

Good Newses

Great Expectorations

Tomorrow I will be teaching Charles Dickens' Great Expectorations, a rollicking tale of social-climbing and projectile saliva. My lecture is built around four main observations:

1) Charles Dickens is 68.2% more likely than any other nineteenth-century author to undergo surgical adaptation-by-BBC. This doesn't work if you count Ms Austen as a nineteenth-century author, which, for the convenience of this statistic, I don't.

2) Charles Dickens' beard was frizzy.

New historicist tonsurologists have various explanatory theories for this, my own being that the investigative expectoration Dickens performed while researching for his novel created an abnormally humid microclimate in the immediate beard environment, thus promoting aggravated on-set frizz.

3) Charles Dickens is the only non-scientific author to appear in any episode of Dr Who. I have this on good authority.

4) An anagram for Charles Dickens is "children's cakes". This is under no circumstances to be read as a coincidence. It is, on the contrary, highly significant. Of something. Charles Dickens is also an anagram for "sans elder chick", a fact which may offer the interpretive key to our reading of the chapters following Miss Havisham's death.

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Lessons from an Interstate Traveller

They said it shouldn't be done, and they were right. Now it behoves me, as one who has gained wisdom from bitter experience, to pass on my learnings to the Young and Callow:

1. Do NOT purchase seats aboard aircraft departing at 6 a.m. in order to save $10. Many of you will think of 6 a.m. as little more than an hour earlier than 7 a.m., which in turn is an hour earlier than 8 a.m., merely an hour or two before we god-fearing gentlefolk traditionally rise for our morning ablutions. You may think of 6 a.m. as, if not a congenial time for interstate travel, certainly not a grossly inconvenient one. But 6 a.m. ain't the half of it. There's also the "please arrive at the airport an hour before departure" factor, so that even those of us who read "an hour" in the liberal sense of "forty minutes" have to be at the airport by 5:20 a.m. And then, unless you live in a hangar at Mascot, there's the old "travelling from home to airport takes time" thing, in my case, a mere 35 minutes by state-sponsored camel. Now we're talking 4:45 a.m. Then there's the nutty problem of prising open the eyelids sufficiently to hail the camel down. Even those with agile eyelids will need a good 15 minutes for this, so 4:30 a.m. All of this is to say nothing of waking up in a blind panic at 3:15, thinking that you've slept through your alarm. I realise this entire paragraph replicates the content of my previous post, but it's a lesson that demands reiteration. Do NOT purchase seats aboard aircraft departing at 6 a.m. in order to save $10. No. Do not.

2. Do NOT purchase seats aboard aircraft landing 60 km away from your destination to save $10. The Jetstar website implies that Melbourne has two airports, Tullamarine and Avalon. Melbourne does not have two airports. Melbourne has one airport. This is Tullamarine. Avalon is not in, or close to, Melbourne. While you may enjoy the bucolic charms of your drive from Avalon to Melbourne, when it comes to the reverse, you will grossly underestimate how long it takes to get back to the airport, and end up hurtling down the M1 in your second blind panic of the day, nearly missing your plane. (This problem will be exacerbated if you hired a car for the day, so had to navigate your own way back to Avalon, and accidentally found yourself on a freeway headed to Doncaster with no discernible exit points.) On the other hand, there are a lot of nice bunnies hopping round at Avalon. Bunny-fanciers may like to take a picnic basket and sketchbook to Avalon airport; non-bunny-fanciers should STAY AWAY.

3. Having ignored the above, do NOT decide to spend the money that you have saved on a hire-car. Admittedly, even in our national public-transport-infrastructure capital, it takes a car to travel at sufficient speed between inspectable rental properties (this, because the property management sorority has teamed up and decided to schedule an entire city's worth of property inspections between 10 and 10:30 a.m). But unless you really do need magic instantaneous transport, the hire-car is nothing but trouble. It will try to take you to Doncaster without so much as a by-your-leave. You will have to park it. You may even have to reverse park it, in traffic, while handsome young Melbourneans stand on the footpath and giggle through their whiskers. No, do NOT hire a car.

Here ends the lesson.

In other news: I will be submitting an application for a wee flat in Thornbury. This flat is in a charmingly boxlike building, constructed circa 1967. On a happier note, it has NEON CARPET, a bath and a balcony and a gas stovestop, is proximate to tramstops and vegetable vendors and apparently free from open sewers and miscellaneous vermin. Ray White needs me to divulge my entire life history before he will consider entrusting me with his precious neon carpet (very wise too), so I will spend the morning assembling The Life and Opinions of Lexicon Harlot, Gentleman for his literary pleasure.

Friday, 12 January 2007

Economeenie minie mo

Go to the Jetstar website and you too will see that a 6:00 am flight from Sydney to the 'Bourne is a NOT-TO-BE-SNEEZED-AT (or otherwise defiled-by-mucous) TEN DOLLARS cheaper than the 8:00 am version of same. You too will immediately scoff at those slaves to idleness who believe in sleeping beyond daybreak. You will laugh scornfully at the notion that public transport does not regularly function in the wee small hours. You, like me, will ponder all the pleasing uses to which $10 can be put (three kilos of zucchini, 100 pages of improving literature, a very small hamster). And you will sign up for the 6:00 am flight in full confidence that this has been the ticket acquisition coup of the century.

But now this 6:00 am flight ain't so many hours off, and I am sneezing at those ten dollars. I am sneezing at them good and proper. I am seeing that I have to be standing at a bus stop on Parramatta Rd at 4:46 am (oh, because I have an aversion to taxis ... did I mention? ... it's because they cost too much). I am thinking of the sleep I will not sleep, and the dreams I will not dream, like the one where I win the gymkhana and Nikolai, my fictitious Romanian paramour, presents me with a family of otters.

But the good news be, there's nothing like underslept-and-surly house-hunting on a saturday morning. Toodle-pip.

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Pater Redivivus

Dauntless Captain Dad has emerged, all guns blazing, from Hypoglycaemic Attack No. 2, which ambushed him in the small hours this morning. Fortunately, Hypoglycaemic Attack No. 2 made the strategic error of striking while Cap'n Dad was in a coronary ward surrounded by medical folk. He came round to find astronauts fiddling with his arm and trying to force lemonade down his throat (typical astronauts), but they were gradually replaced by the aforementioned medical folk. Again, a crying shame that the Aged P. wasn't able to pre-empt this attack with seven courses of sticky date pudding.

He's up for a quadruple bypass on monday. That's if they can find enough spare veins. (On spare veins: the Aged P. rather anxiously observed the surgeon's lustful appraisal of his lower legs. My own feeling is that surgeons should keep their lustful appraisals to themselves, although perhaps it's best to be forewarned that one's right foot has been deemed dispensable to gangrene.) I'm doing my best to believe everyone's reassurances that the rerouting of an old fellow's circulatory system is nowt more than basic plumbing, but the siblings and Our Mum and I are feeling, all the same, a little shaken. Dad is the very model of a modern parent general, and we'd like him to push on as long as possible.

Meanwhile, I'm preaching Tennysons and Brontës to the young people, and planning a scandalously profligate one day real-estate reconnaissance mission to the wilds of Melborneo. All this seems comparatively petty. But as the Aged P. sensibly said, "It won't seem petty if you don't have anywhere to live."

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Upon being prickèd by a flea

How doth the little flea leap from the cat
Onto the rug and thence unto my shin?
And how, once there, doth creep this petty gnat
Betwixt my leg hairs thence unto the skin?
Though I do vacuum seldom as a rule,*
The onset of the season of the flea
Me maketh vacuum almost constantly
Lest wicked fleas** from out my veins suck fuel.
When vacuum cleaners cease to suck up fleas
And fleas persist in sucking on my legs,
When threatened with all manner of disease,***
And knowing fleas in rugs do lay their eggs,****
Then time to flea bomb, though it poison be,
And though it may deform my ovary.*****

* The first vacuum cleaner, patented in 1869 by Ives W. McGaffey, required the operation of a handcrank whilst in use. I have always found this something of a deterrent to ardent hoovering.

** "The wicked flee where no man pursueth" (Proverbs 28). Let that be a lesson to us.

*** i.e., plague, bubonic plague, pneumonic plague, flea-borne typhus, none of which, strictly speaking, is carried by the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis.

**** Curious factoid about flea reproductive practices: the rabbit flea only lays her eggs upon ingesting the blood of a pregnant rabbit, thus the flealets hatch around the same time as the rabbit kittens. Sinister.

***** Of which there are, to date, two.

Monday, 8 January 2007

An Enquiry Concerning Matters Ontological and Cheese, In Verse, by Max von Torsh

My name is Max.
Please give me cheese.
Any sort will do,
Camemberts or bries.

I am a cat,
Sometimes with fleas.
When I have fleas
My people also have fleas.

If you're allergic
I'll make you sneeze.
But I don't mind.
Where is the cheese?

Bruno's my boyfriend.
He can climb trees.
He lives next door
And steals my breakfast.

De-Chox, Day 1

Shaking; nervousness; feelings of impending doom; uncontrollable urge to read Tin-Tin instead of writing lecture on John Stuart Mill; signs of an incipient ability to speak in tongues. Symptoms abated somewhat upon consumption of soy chai and an orange around 3 pm. Mantra: "What I lose in the pleasure of pleasure, I gain in the pleasure of masochistic self-denial."

Sunday, 7 January 2007

De-chox Program

Following yesterday's altercation with the East German Pedestrian Crossing Signal Man Chocolate Vegan Biscuit of Doom, I have been shanghaied (repeatedly, if that's possible) by the unscrupulous wiles of HMS Cocoa: to wit, by six chocolate-covered almonds left over after last night's house shindig, and foisted upon me by the totally unforeseeable circumstance of the seven of us all being in the kitchen at the same time, alone; by an unnameable quantity of fancy Parisian chocolates foisted upon me by Mrs Dog* when I popped by to welcome her home from France; and by the better part of a box of Lindt foisted upon me by my lady author friend last night and consumed this afternoon as I remembered fondly my days of yodeling and nanny goats in the Swiss Alps.**

While I am by no means ungrateful to the aforementioned foisters, who clearly know a thing or two about my proclivities, this simply cannot go on. One cannot subsist entirely on a diet of chocolate, not even if it's sourced from the diverse climes of Paris, Switzerland and the Norton St Coles. And as I am not one to achieve moderation in my passions, as, truth be told, it's all or nothing, I find myself staring in the face of total chocolate abstinence. You read it here first, citizens: Lexicon Harlot, and all her heirs and successors, will abstain from chocolate, in forms both solid and liquid and in the whole chromatic scale of whites and browns, FOR THE DURATION OF HER RESIDENCY IN SYDNEY. Which, just to set all in ordnung, is only for the next 34 days, or so. I know it can be done. Jesus, after all, survived forty days and forty nights wandering in the wilderness listening to Satan reading out Christmas cracker jokes. If Jesus could do that, then I can do this. But please, no foisting. The flesh is weak.

* So called because for several years I was in her employ as governess to a young fox terrier named Ollie. I superintended his calisthenics and piano practice and collected his poo in biodegradable bags provided by the local council.

** This is all one sentence. Henry James would be proud.

Saturday, 6 January 2007

Treachery by chocolate

It's been one of those weeks. One hospitalised parent, two unplanned haircuts, a whole new year to wrestle to the ground. I reckoned a batch of therapeutic chocolate vegan East German traffic-light-man biscuits wouldn't go astray.

The recipe is my own, inspired by the chocolate vegan cookies I met back in my North Carolina days. Those guys were sumpin' else: 75c, as big as a saucer, crumbly round the edges, moist in the middle, just the thing to wash down a hard day speaking Americanese to hat-tippin', grits-n-gravy eatin', polite-as-pie southerners (wha, thank you, ma'am). And, of course, being vegan and all, they spoke profoundly to my inner half-baked lefty. "Eat us", they cooed, "And it will be just like you've personally smashed the patriarchy, abolished the death penalty, saved a rainforest and provided free health care for a family of impoverished Somalians."

My biscuits will never be the same as North Carolina's. I figure a state that boasts deep fried cola has a secret ingredient up its sleeve of which I will remain forever ignorant. But they're pretty darn good. Nay, even medicinal. And today's effort was going swimmingingly, until my inner half-baked lefty reached for a barely cooled East German traffic-light-man and that self-important cracker went and BURNT MY FINGER. The culprit, a still bubbling choc bit, hotter than the rest of the biscuit.

Yes, chocolate. Yes, my first love.

It's time for a divorce.

Thursday, 4 January 2007

Solutions to the Sydney Car Epidemic, No. 1

Oh I do like to ride on an iguana!
Oh I do like a jolly monitor!
Oh there’s nothing like a lizard!
I think they’re rather wizard!
Riding rep-tiles, I adore.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Hair today, gone tomorrow

11:13 pm
I have just cut my hair. That is to say, I, wielding scissors, have just cut my hair. I now look like Oliver Cromwell. Which wasn't the desired outcome.

Of course, you will say, you could have visited a no-Cromwells-allowed hair-sculpting palace. You live within sauntering distance of no fewer than six such establishments, patronised by the lustrous-locked foxettes of Leichhardt.

To which the answer is, no, no, I couldn't. I am utterly at the mercy of a protestant stinginess ethic, so aggressive in the case of hair-dressing that I have seen a professional hair-dresser once, and once only, in all my one score and eight years. Here I'd like to thank my sister, Mlle. Kirsten von Harlot, who kindly forked out the dosh for that singular experience.

11:45 pm
Update: have now cut my hair again. I look like Joan of Arc. Have done such a splendid job of it, I'm thinking of setting up shop: "Harlot's Hair Removal Services" (or possibly, "Clip Joint", which would go nicely alongside "Hip Joint", my nightclub for seniors).

If anyone needs any hair, there's an enormous pile of it on my bedroom floor.

And if anyone has any ideas about what motivates a lass with a perfectly amicable relationship to her coiffure to suddenly hack thirty centimetres of it off, please write to this address. Until you do, I'm going with the inverted Delilah Complex theory.

Bon soir, mesdames.

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

R-rated (libidinous hermaphrodites may offend some viewers)

This is not the place to talk shop, but shop has been brewing such a storm of vexations, that talk shop I must.

Vexation the first
The most prominent foodstuff on display at the campus victual-monger's today was SALMON JERKY. If I want victuals, I want victuals, not a strip of dead fish pickled in salt. That it's called "jerky" should be sufficient warning that it's inedible; prefixing jerky with the word "salmon" will fool noone.

Vexation the second
So disgusted was I by the pickled fish at the campus victual-monger's that I was forced to return empty-handed to my office. En route, I spied an anaemic A5-sized student publication, pathetically aspiring to its own title, viz. UR. Back in my day (she says, adjusting her spectacles), UR was a buxom A4, published on the fortnight, overflowing with pith and wit and wankesquerie and blah. In 2002, it was determined that a monthly publication would better represent the student body's menstrual cycle, and though less topical, the rag continued to perplex and amuse. What I saw today, this truncated excuse for a UR, described itself as a YEARBOOK. Yea verily, UR is down to a whopping ONE issue per year. It would be better off entirely extinct, so thoroughly has it been purged of all that made it light and delightful. Yes, earnest committee reports for all, not just the rich. May those who voted for the Liberal senate majority, thus ushering in this brave new era of Voluntary Student Unionism, now rot in the humourless piety of their pared-back student publication.

Vexation the third
Students who once would have exercised their pamphleteering tendencies in the free and public air of a fortnightly UR will now be forced to vent their literary frustrations in their classes: but these won't be MY classes, because just as the young agitators are about to start sinking all their rhetorical energies into their tutorials, I am preparing to leave. Sturm und Drang!

All this is so very frustrating that I feel peculiarly warranted in posting soft porn, for my delectation, if not yours.

Apologies to the faint hearted.

Monday, 1 January 2007

Excuse me, sir, I think you might have inhaled a squirrel


Fans of me old dad will be sorry to read that he spent new year's eve surveying the interior of Hornsby hospital. No thanks to a hypoglycaemic seizure (with minor heart attack), his first ever in an otherwise uneventful thirty-year quarrel with diabetes. For a man who wants nothing more than an excuse to eat 28 cream buns in one sitting, it was a shame that he had to take them intravenously.

By the time I'd made the trek oop north, he was sufficiently his self to offer the nearest nurse an account of my conception. Rarely does my father introduce me to a complete stranger without mentioning that, though old dogs in their dotage, well versed in the use of pharmaceutical contraceptives, he and his missus, without malice aforethought, produced the superfluous offspring that we see before us today. My father's homilies on the unreliability of the pill are one of the major factors behind the nation's declining birthrate. Similarly, his homilies on the rights of dogs, the wrongs of the Howard Govt, and his own ongoing entitlement to clotted cream because of heinous rationing during WWII have all played a significant role in the formulation of domestic policy. The nation needs him. The dog needs him. The dairy industry needs him. These are only a few of the many reasons why my death-defying Aged P. should recover posthaste and keep fighting the good fight.