Sunday, 27 January 2008

Also in leather

This is the best sign in Northcote. I don't know if it sits in the window of a cobbler's, or a tailor's, or a cosmetic surgeon's. I don't know because I am so transfixed by this sign that I cannot drag my eyes away from it for long enough to read any other sign in its vicinity. Few and blessed are we who can claim that a danglier modifier than that innocent lookin' "also" hath crossed our ambiguophile path. It's not that I haven't thought long and hard, but I still can't figure it out. Yes we do repairs for men AND WOMEN ALSO in leather? Yes we do repairs for men and women ALSO IN LEATHER? Yes we do repairs for men AND WOMEN ALSO IN LEATHER? Yes we do repairs FOR MEN AND WOMEN ALSO in leather? Yes indeed also.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Womble Query

I am writing a very short story about a womble who is the reincarnation of a person who suffocated by accident on a plastic bag. If anyone thinks they know why or how the person suffocated on the plastic bag, I'd be very grateful to hear your views.

N.B. Contributors whose theories end up in my short story about the womble will not be acknowledged.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Boy, do these kids know how to market

Email just in from Mr Peter Rose, of the Australian Book Review. It beginneth:

"We want to make it super-attractive for you to subscribe to Australian Book Review because you are exactly the sort of sophisticated reader who will enjoy and benefit from ABR."

Moi? Sophisticated reader?

Why isn't every product advertised like this?

"We want to make it super-attractive for you to eat Tim Tams because you are exactly the sort of sophisticated glutton who will enjoy and benefit from eating Tim Tams."

"We want to make it super-attractive for you to wear socks because you are exactly the sort of sophisticated pedestrian who will enjoy and benefit from wearing socks."

"We want to make it super-attractive for you to invest in our pyramid scheme because you are exactly the sort of sophisticated geometer who will enjoy and benefit from our symmetrical financial arrangements."

Sign me up already, why don't you.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Hot Haute from the Bookshelf Fashionistas

Armani and Galliano ain't got nuffing on these ladies. The cats behind the catwalks may not know it yet, but next season's fashions are ba-ba-ba-bushka to the max. That's right, you cool cretins, get out the bodypaint and start lacquering on that folk art floralia. Polka dot headscarves are taking ears by storm, from Petersburg to Vladivostok, and when it comes to shoes, shoes, shoes, there's no going past the invisible foot. No more waist cinching, 'cause convex is where it's at. But don't throw away your gym membership: state-of-the-art corsetry alone won't unscrew your body into two separate wooden pieces. Make a moue and paint your cheeks rosy. Dolls are Russian into this one.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Idle Minds Want to Know ...

1. Was Robbie Burns a Mason? I've been saying he was, ever since, as a sixteen year old, I piped the haggis into the Cremorne Masonic Lodge one Burns Night. But it occurs to me now that the Cremorne Masons may have been celebrating Burns Night for the decadent joy of wearing woollen kilts in high Summer, not because Burns ever fondled a chisel.

2. Can I make something out of locally available ingredients that tastes like Drambuie and costs less than $50 a pint? If so, how? (This is a pressing matter. It's only three sleeps til Burns Night, and my wee sleekit hostie has asked me to bring whisky, but I don't like whisky because I have a completely unsophisticated palate [i.e., cabernet sauvignon, no; ribena, yes], and Drambuie is sweet, but I'd have to sell my false teeth to finance it.)

3. Is there any correlation between testosterone levels and natural hair colour? The emissary from Sydney told me on Saturday that people with naturally occurring light coloured hair have less testosterone than people with naturally occurring dark coloured hair. I am not persuaded, but I was nonetheless disappointed by the "naturally occurring" proviso: an indigo rinse before breakfast and a dollop of peroxide after lunch coulda been fun.

4. Balsamic vinegar on strawberries: yes or no?

Sunday, 20 January 2008

You can smoke in hell

I've spent the past forty-two hours with an emissary from the Mother Country, and for the past forty hours - since a quick puff after dinner on Friday night - the emissary has been eschewing the demon cheroot. This may have been my fault. I think I said something off-hand about carotid arteries. But, I swear, apart from peering schoolmarmishly over my clean-living spectacles, that was all. By lunchtime today, I was offering her a dusting of snuff with her iced chocolate.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Of louse and licenses

Don't anyone be intimidated by my organisation and all-round life skills, but I'm proud to announce that a mere 11 months and 8 days after my migration to the Deep South I am now a card-carrying carrier of a card known in motoring circles as a Victorian Driver's License. I will be using my Victorian Driver's License to drive my Audi down to the car sales yards, just as soon as I win my Audi in a fortuitous concourse of raffle tickets I am yet to purchase. Until, and after, that great voyage, my Victorian Driver's License will sit snugly in my wallet, and I will pretend that it is not a Victorian Driver's License, but a Victorian License - nay, a License to Be Victorian!

To Whom It May Concern, By the Grace and Favour of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Empress of India, the Bearer Is Permitted to Wear Knick-Knacks and Notions in Her Bonnet, to Write Poetry about Cockerspaniels, to Invest in Railway Shares, to Blather On About the Crimea, and the Woman Question, and to use words like "Nincompoopiana".

Don't mention the cholera. (Or the child labour, prostitution, limited franchise, whale oil, beards.)

I'll say this for Victorian Driver's Licenses, they cost only a third as much as New South Welsh 'uns. I'm wondering if this is because Victoria only sports a third as many kilometres of roads.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Chairity begins at home

Among my recently professed passions are quinoa porridge, the history of scurvy, and chairs. I can pinpoint the very moment I fell for quinoa porridge. Likewise the path to scorbutology. But my zest for a well turned rung, my zeal for a snug mortise, has crept up on me, slowly, so that here I find myself - quelle surprise - cohabiting with no fewer than eight (eight) chairs.

This orange fellow was my first independently acquired chair. I rescued him from certain death in my sister's garage and for many years used him as a stationary laundry basket, before his promotion to the rank of armchair-in-chief to the Reading Room of the Leichhardt Ladies' Hostel. Last summer he moved with me from Leichhardt to the 'Bourne, bringing, for his own inscrutable reasons, a bevy of cat fleas. He likes sitting by the sea and vegetarian sushi.

This chair is white. For camouflage.

I bought this chair in a junkangerie in Northcote for $15, and am in the slow process of stripping back several layers of paint with a safety pin. By doing this I have discovered that this chair was painted first white, then butter yellow, then canary yellow, and then British racing green. My chic friend, Jennifer Anne, says she likes this chair's distressed look. Some go wobbly-kneed at damsels in distress, some at chairs. At least if you go wobbly-kneed over a chair in distress, you can sit on it without violating anyone's corporeal sovereignty.

I found this chair on the footpath one night outside the office furniture shop. It had a tear in its upholstery and a missing coaster. I nicked a coaster from one of the other chairs outside the office furniture shop and Bob was my uncle. Bob's avuncularity was displayed particularly in that silver tube you can see extending up the chair's side. It responds to deliberate pressure, so that the backrest is at once firm and yielding. This chair is the perfectly ripened grape of desk chairs. This is the chair I sit in as I write my critically acclaimed sentences about perfectly ripened grapes of desk chairs.

This gal was the fruit of a council clean-up in Parentville. Me mum did something nifty with a clamp to restore her to 'er former glory, and I spent many a happy hour sanding her back before letting loose with the turquoise enamel. There are persons in the second hand furniture industry who would wax apoplectic at the thought of turquoise enamel paint on a nicely stripped wooden chair, but to them I say "Have purple velvet cushion, will travel". Indeed.

Cheap as chips on ebay. But then I had to pick them up from North Mont Albert, in the rain, by public transport. At least I had something to sit on as I waited for the bus home.

Last year I decided to take up exercise. Fifteen minutes after this decision I had run three quarters of the way round the block, when I saw this champ idling on the footpath. This was a message, thought I. Do not run. Sit. And to this very day, I do.

Puddingfest 08, the Aftermath

, adj.

1. What I am not, in the presence of S.D.P.

2. Contains all vowels, in alphabetical order.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Sticky Date Pudding for All, Not Just the Rich!

Only eighty hours of Detox Program '08 to go, whereafter: sticky date pudding, here I come. It occurs to me, though, that it may not be entirely wise to spend Monday night home alone with a 9-inch wide pudding (i.e., every chance that I'll wake up on Tuesday morning dead, with a slick of syrup running down my chin), so anyone (of sound character) who wants to join me at Hôtel Harlot (in Thornbury) to partake of sticky date pudding (home-made, one performance only) on Monday evening, please email for further details.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Womble Appreciation

Like many others, I used to think the Womble anthem proclaimed "Wombles are Wimbles and common are we", whereas it actually runs, "Wombles of Wimbledon Common are we". In fact, though, as recent research in the BBC archives has revealed, the very lyrics we all thought we were hearing, "Wombles are Wimbles and common are we", were initially mooted when the Wombles first appeared, in print, in 1968 (the year, as we all know, of the Paris Commune). Within months, the Home Office, which suspected the Wombles of communist sympathies, threatened thumbscrews in the Tower of London and demanded an anodyne alternative with no mention of Wimbles.

Attentive listeners, however, can still hear the faint strains of the Wombles' revolutionary message running behind the jingle of Wimbledon Common. We are Wombles! We are Wimbles! We are common! We are the many! Whad da we want? Justice for all! When do we want it? Before The Magic Roundabout comes on!

The Wombles pioneered an Autonomous Recycling Collective back in the days before domestic compost heaps were chic. They reclaimed Wimbledon Common for the wombular commune. It stands to reason that they were also staunch champions of the proletariat and the repressed wimble. Viva el Womble!

Womble image shamelessly pilfered from the BBC Womble Image Reservoir.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Etymology of the Day

Warning: contains anatomical references.

Those who've denied the insidious creep of genital membranes into modern religion should take heed. The hymen (yes, that mucous membrane business) shares an etymology with the hymn (as in, "All things bright and beautiful"), and, frankly, creatures great and small are shocked.

It begins with Hymenaeos, the Greco-Roman (wrestler, perhaps?) God of Mawidge. Marriage, though concerned, of course, with the mutual procuration of stainless steel espresso machines, the dividing of supermarket dairy cabinet prefabricated dessert two-packs, and the canoodling of toothbrushes next to the bathroom sink, is also widely associated with, for better or worse, (quiet please) sex. I cannot comment on the extent to which this association is grounded in statistical realities, not having read the Kinsley Report, but there's no denying, in the popular imagination, sex and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. Likewise, I'll withhold any analysis of why it is part of a gel's genitalia, and not, say, the outermost follicle of the greater dangling left bollock, that is named after ye God of Marriage, but I'm sure you can work it out yerselves. Insert pertinent feminist inflections to taste.

Meanwhile, old Hymenaeos, being the God of Marriage and all, is the object of wedding songs Greek and Latin. They traditionally go something like "Io, io, Hymen, Hymenaee! Io, io!" (here's where a good lyricist comes in handy) and they're known as hymens. The hymens are sacred songs, and so hymen gradually comes to designate sacred songs of any stripe, and somewhere loses a vowel and becomes "hymn". QED.

(This post brought to you with the invaluable assistance of the Oxford English Dictionary, my bedfellow of preference.)

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Ah, Melbourne! Where award-winning novelists lurk behind every ticket machine.

I bumped into Christos Tsiolkas on the 86 tram this evening. I expect I'll play a cameo in his next novel: gushing fan with bag of tomatoes on streetcar.

Still Living By Not Christmas Cake Alone

179.7 hours of Detox Program down; only six more sleeps until sticky date pudding. Monday night. Now there's a sticky date to pudding your diary.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Man Cannot Live by Christmas Cake Alone

I bumped into my neighbour on the way home this evening. She's seventeen and too cool for school (or rhymes), whereas I am twenty-nine and have embraced my inner nerd with such fervour that I may have broken the inner nerd's ribs (or costae spuriae, to be precise). The otherwise insuperable barrier of cool-nerdth incompatibility, however, we have transcended thanks to our shared affection for her late dog, Bailey.

So, there we were, bumping into each other on our way home, and naturally talk turns to the subject du jour, my New Year Detox Program (which began, just in case you're interested, sixty-six hours ago, and has so far resulted in no fewer than seventeen lucid hallucinations of sticky date pudding soaked in kahlua). I regail her with very interesting facts about quinoa, which I have eaten for breakfast three mornings in a row, and begin a lurid account of today's lunch - three apples, a bunch of celery, a handful of cashews and a capsicum - when she says, "My boyfriend proposed to me last night in the car."

And that's the end of the story. The moral is: never talk to seventeen-year-olds about quinoa.

In other news, manuscript for the book what I've been editing on Mr W. Blake got sent orf today. I am now awaiting response from publisher: make it shorter, longer, footnotier, with a Russian accent.