Monday, October 31, 2011

Too Many Books

I have too many books. There, I've said it.

This morning, I was home on my first day off in six months that wasn't a public holiday or taken off for a funeral, and I am surrounded by books. My lounge room floor was covered with the buggers. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with all of them, other than sort through them, tidy them and get rid of a few, but I was determined that by the time Iwent to see Pinochet at 7 pm, my lounge would be cleared, hoovered and tidied - and there would be a pile of books for the Salvation Army or whatever Op shop I find first.

This is what I started with:

Sod knows how many books I took off from the shelves, which were then washed down and left to dry, eliminating over a year's worth of dust. I think I washed the shelves down at the start of the year, but I did it shelf by shelf.

The next task - get rid of some stuff. There had to be over 1000 books sitting on my floor - some of them had to go - they just had to - along with all sorts of other stuff that's collected on my shelves, like a full medicine cabinet of over-the-counter drugs, my collection of elephants brought back from India by various friends and other trinkets, like my little iron statue of Sarasvati, found in a Thai antique shop. (If you're going to India or somewhere in Asia or Africa, please bring me back an elephant - just a little one - I like them)

There are just some things that wont and can't go. In particular, my collection of Shakespeares and one of my favorite possessions - my William Shakespeare action figure that a dear friend gave me. My friend, a bit of a Dr Who tragic - so much so that he has a real Dalek in his bedroom, knows where to go action figures. I've got a lot of stick for this little guy over the years. He stays.

Reference books stays. Books on quotes, English Grammar, Latin, Greek, French, getting published, Saints, books on Judaism, the Kabbalah... they stay. They get referred to a lot, just like the Shakespeares.

The plays and poetry stay. Again, used for reference and inspiration on a regular basis. They have to stay - along with my collection of short story anothologies - they're there for inspiration - for one day I'd love if one of my short stories made it into an anthology. I've had a number of short stories published in the past - it's something I'd love to get into again.

The Harry Potters, Lemony Snickets and Artemis Fowls stay - they all get read annually, being a kid's book officianado. And I also found my edition of "Miss Cottington's Book of Pressed Fairies" signed by Terry Jones. If I need a giggle, this is one place I turn. You see, Miss Cottington decided to trap fairies in a big book and press them for all eternity. It's only when Terry Jones of Monty Python found this wonderful book did it's full glory come to light.

I've got the old favorites, and the favorite authors, which can't go - and now the Sebastian Faulks, Margaret Atwoods, Louis de Bernieres, Richard Flanagans, Geraldine Brooks, Robertson Davies, David Mitchells and Annie Proulxs are together on the shelf, where they should be. There are a lot of other books that that I just love and can't part with. Volumes like American Psycho, The Princess Bride, my books by Helen McDonald, who writes on human disection and remains (fascinating woman).

There's also the big books that sit behind me. A lot of reference books on aromatherapy, anatomy and English Cathedrals. They stay too. A lot of my history is tied up in these books. Books on gargolyles and misericords, books on sexuality, sensuality, women's issues...

The most esoteric book I found - ther than my volume of Geoff Nicholson's "Footsucker" (Fabulous book - don't know whether to be titillated or turned right off). It would have to be my pictorial book on body piercing. This is one of the milder shots.

I've also got a lot of my books from university, a heap of Clive James books that I want to read and see if they're still funny. There's a shelf of stuff that I haven't read yet that I will have to get around to one day.

Sooooo many books - so little time. Though with the exception of book group books, I'm not allowed to buy any more until a few more have been read - and disposed of.

Thankfully, Mack came round about lunch time for a chat and a wander. He works just up the road. I donated a bag of witchy magazines, astrology cards and amethyst dragons that I've been pondering what to do with for ages. His daughters, aged 16, 12 and 8 will love them.

There's a supermarket shopper filled with things I no longer want. Strangely, there are mainly diet books - the Zone, Atkins etc. They can go to the Salvos.

I have another small pile of books to be put on ebay. Commercial success that might bring in a few dollars. Trinny and Susannah are ebay fodder - right. And those bloody Paulo Coelho's - it's taken me 20 years to get to page twenty of The Alchemist, I don't think I've got any chance of finishing it in the next twenty years.

The rest - are now neatly back on the shelves.

I rue the day whem I'm forced to get an e-reader. Books are so much a part of me.

I just wish that they didn't collect so much dust!

So my day off is nearly over. A ten kilometre run, a session with Pinochet out the way, a day of really good eating - as in back in the star calendar regime to get back into weight loss mode in a last ditch effort to make my goal for the year. I can do it.

It's been a good day.



Days without ice cream:  10

A Little Touch of Harry

Sleep deeply, young Prince.
The days of awestruck wonder
Are numbered with your soldiers
Demands for commission and rest.
Days of roaming fields,
Green with innocence, with life,
With the hopes of a misled,
Misunderstood land, will leave you
Longing for a simpler time.
The table thumping rhythms
Of the tavern nights,
Imbedded with straw, vomit, ale
Replaced by the beat
Of marching armies footfalls,
Swordplay, falling maces,
Broken carotid arteries,
Pumping the souls out of home fed,
Inbred, naïve followers.
Rest in your sack lined hovel,
Warmed by women you’ll have to forget,
Enveloping the ambrosia
Laws will deny you,
Conscience will forbid you,
For one last, lonely, unregretted time.
Elysium has no place for the powerful
To roam in peaceful, fulfilling bliss.
Your imaginary Agincourts
Will too soon be all too real.

(I'll admit that this was written a few years ago and published in the Mozzie around 2003 - a bit too tired to write - but being surrounded by literature all day, a poem about a Shakespearean character seemed apt)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pandora Lent VII

Days without ice cream - 9 - even got tempted by sorbet at lunch today, but remained strong.

Spring Cleaning

One thing comes from Spring Cleaning
Is more dust
The realisation
That you own too many books
That you will probably never read
But can't stand to get rid of
Which will only accumulate more dust
As you place them back
On the freshly wiped down shelving.

The other thing that arises from Spring Cleaning
Other than the taking
Of a surreptitious antihistamine
Is the feeling that in a years time
The process will be repeated.
Except there will be more books.
And more dust.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pandora Lent VI

Days without ice cream - 8 (Even managed to go to the cinema and NOT have a choc top - major sacrifice)

True Blood

For lonely spinsters,
The perfect Saturday night.
Vampire porn should suck.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Cautionary Tale

Days without ice cream  - 7

A Cautionary Tale

Don't go drinking beer with boys
They'll lead you all astray.
They'll pump you up and leave you cold
And send you on your way.

And take no heed of boys with beer
You'll never see no good
For they talk shite and waffle on
And speak of things they would....

You know that boys with beer are bad
For they are filled with grace,
And charm and wit and all those things
That hide their truest face.

But boys with beer are kind of fun
And soppy/sweet in turn.
Just don't take too much consequence
Of crap they like to churn.

The day will come when boys with beer
Will end up slowing down,
And wive's will call, and kids have sport,
They must get out of town.

Yet boys with beer will carry on
Until all time will end
For beer and boys are linked like chain
And hopeless to defend.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pandora Lent V

Days without ice cream - 6

I dream of the Underground
Of rope ladders twisting downwards
Into steep, helix-round tunnels
The only exits from these vast worms.
Of sunsets in red, of vast flowing rivers
And of London.
Grey, sunny, enclosed, enlivened.
And I know what I have left behind
And what I seek as I travel these tunnels
Or stand by the Thames
Or stay barefoot and naked on Hampstead Heath.

I had to leave you behind
Not because I didn't love you.
But I couldn't have you trapped
Bound in these unending, dark
Subterranean passageways.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Hard Questions Meme

As I'm finishing up one role and starting a new one next week, I have a bit of time on my hands.

So these hard questions come from the Sunday Stealing Meme guru - and gave me something more to think about and errant commas and fixing dodgy spelling over the course of the day.

1. What is a quote that you love?

I'm going to give you three - all have very special meanings for me:

"Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive." Josephine Hart, Damage. I live my life by this quote. It is unfortunately and terribly true.

"The lunatic, the lover and the poet are of imagination all compact." Midsummer Night's Dream. Act 5 scene 1. This has always eaten away at my imagination.

"I do not find The Hanged Man. Fear death by water." T.S.Eliot. The Wasteland. TS Eliot is indirectly responsible for getting me into tarot. I ponder this poem regularly - it's one of my absolute favorites, and the section with Madame Sosostris in the section "The Burial of the Dead" always says something different to me. Knowing the full meaning of the Hanged Man card some twenty years on I love the playfulness of the whole episode. I also love what Eliot has inadvertently done in making the tarot references.

2. Do you think of pure hate as something humanity created?

No. I think pure hate is the absolute opposite of pure love - and we need diachotomy. They're the flipside of the same thing. Hatred is never pretty. In its most intense form, it is very disturbing - but like everything in the universe it is there as some part of a grand design. I'm just glad that I don't have to witness it first hand very often.

3. When was the last time you wanted to scream?

Yesterday. I was in one of my rare work "zones" trying to get some stuff finished by the end of the day. There is a person around here who I refer to as 'Nails on the Blackboard" for a number of reasons. After four interruptions in ten minutes, this person was the unlucky fifth. I was screaming on the inside. I snapped at this person - something I rarely do I apologised for being such a cow about half an hour later. There was no reason to speak to this person like that - no matter how annoying they can be.

4. Do you ever at times see the world in black and white?

Only sometimes. I'm normally one big shade of grey and see the world in such a way. I see the world in black and white when it comes to injustice - and anything to do with animal cruelty - do what they do to the animal back to them. Simple. Hard line, but simple.

5. Have you ever thought that cell phones are too obtrusive?

Definitely - though I know that I let my mobile get in the way far too often. Leaving my mobile phone at home is akin to losing my right arm. However, I try to be considerate when using it to talk to people in public - especially on public transport. My pet hate is sitting in meetings where people are constantly checking their phones. However, they are great when you want to show photos, they give you games to play when you're waiting for planes and buses and thank goodness for mobile internet. Just turn them off or leave them be when you want REAL people time. End of story.

6. In your life, where do you thank the rainbow will end?

This is a bit of a funny question. See, as somebody who studies the Kabbalah, I think the rainbow ends at Tipharet - when you find your heart and soul. However, if you look at a rainbow, you know that the ends of a rainbow shift . I used to have a window seat on the 41st floor of one of the skyscrapers here in Melbourne. One day we saw a circular rainbow - it was incredible.

Then again, I think the rainbow will end when I win lotto...

7. What is something that you never want to do again?

Yes. I never, ever, ever want to fall in love with somebody who isn't emotionally available, ever, ever, ever again. Hurts far too much.

I'm not sure that I want to fly Tiger Airways again either. They are appalling.

8.When was the first time you realised the world was small?

Walking down Baker Street in London in 1992. I ran into an old university friend. I didn't know she was in London. we were both on the other side of the world. She didn't know I was there either. And we literally bumped into each other. This scene has been repeated in various airports, cities and restaurants across the globe over the years. The introduction of social networking has made the world even smaller. I've made contact with people I never thought I would ever see again over the last few years. The world really isn't that big a place when it all comes down to it.

9. How you spend your time contemplating life’s mysteries?

I do this all the time - though the best way to do this is either sitting in a hot pool of water underneath the stars, or down the pub with a bottle of decent red. If navel gazing was a profession I would be a very rich woman.

10. Ever discuss your political beliefs with people?

Yes, but probably to my detriment. Though normally I will discuss politics at any time of the day or night it's not with fervour and normally with people who I know can cope with my slightly loopy lefty agenda. I love political discussion - but I also like having these types of chats with people who I know will respect my opinion while arguing the point. My friend Kitt and I talk about this stuff when running - we have similar, yet differing opinions - she's just to the right, I'm just to the left - and that is okay. I try to keep my political thoughts to myself until I know somebody - though I'm perceived as a raging lefty by proxy. Thing is, I'm not that extreme.

11. Do you care about the environment?

I do, though probably not enough. I make a point not to litter. I recycle household refuse. I drive a small car. I walk when I can and use public transport often. I try to keep it to three minute showers, I try not to get things with too much packaging and take my own bags to the supermarket. I have a keep cup for my morning work coffee. I turn off the lights and the power outlets when not using electrical items. I use organic hair and skin care. Little things. I know I could do so much more - eat and source local produce, not buy as many books.... and on a grander scale I know there is so much more than I do. Mining grates on me. The fact that our government has the audacity to push the environmentally friendly agenda (Like why don't they have a fleet of Priuses getting the pollies around?) There is so much more we all could do. End of story.

12. What’s your motto for life?

I don't really have one. The closest I have to a motto is " Be positive. Like attracts like."

13. Is progress destroying the beauty of the world?

Another hard and interesting one. In some ways, I think yes - you look at the raping of the planet from all of the "progress" - the deforestation, smog, open cut mines, what is happening in the Pacific with the plastic soup.... the list could be infinite. Then again, there is beauty all around - no matter where you look. I'm looking out my fifth floor window from what is possibly the ugliest building in Melbourne looking over a row of trees, the leaves rustling, I've been watching a small child play with a dog as her parents look on. I know that in a few hours I can watch the sun set - and there is nothing more beautiful than that. I ran around the Botanical Gardens this morning - absolutely glorious. So no matter how much 'progress' appears to destroy the world - beauty is always there - you just have to look for it and open up to its possibilities.

14. Do you believe there is life somewhere else in the universe?

Yes. Definitely. I think it's extremely arrogant and narrow minded to think that we are the only planet in the infinity called space that has life upon it. Even if we haven't found it, it's nice to think that there is 'life' out there somewhere - no matter what that 'life' is. Just because we haven't seen it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

15. Would you like to rule a country?

Absolutely not. It's the responsibility thing. I couldn't think of anything worse - being responsible for subjects - sounds like too much like hard work. I won't even get a cat because I don't like the thought of being responsible for another life (though I would love a cat, really I would) Ruling a country would be too much like hard work.Being a part of a committee running a country I could do, but to have responsibility for that many people - no way!

16. Do you believe everything has a purpose?

Not really. Somebody might tell me one day what the purpose of zucchinis (courgettes) actually is - cos they aint food. I look at the Melbourne public transport ticketing debacle and I believe that there are some people out there who are exceptionally useless who spent a hell of a lot of money looking for a purpose. And what purposes do rabbits have? None (unless you count calling them vermin or food?) Hmm. Channel 31 - what purpose does that have? So no, not everything has a purpose.

17. Is war ever for the best?

No - but it does have the use of blowing the cobwebs away, destabilising a lot of people often allowing them to rebuild in the long run. See, wars can have a purpose - but they are never, ever for the best. That much heartache should not have to be endured. Or wasting that much money (i.e. Iraq/Afghanistan)

18. Could you kill anyone in defense of self or loved ones?

I think I could. Only in self-defense, but I'm pretty sure that I would have it in me - I think I have access to that sort of strength. I just never want to use it.

19. How do you react to people who don't believe global warming is really our fault?

I roll my eyes, get very, very, very annoyed and try to lead by example - like agreeing with our carbon tax, trying to set my behaviours around a more carbon friendly ways, disagreeing with big coal, writing to MPs about stuff, attending the odd rally - not that it gets you anywhere, but global warming sceptics do get to me. The only person I preach to is my sister - who is a global warming sceptic but chooses to moan. But that can be seen as sport.

20. Does love conquer all?

No - but it does have remarkable restorative powers allegedly.

21. Is euthanasia morally acceptable?

Yes. Quite simply yes - definitely. Not in all situations, of course, but if a person is ill, in pain, there is no chance of a recovery where they have a quality of life acceptable for their standards and they want to go - let them at it. I believe quite strongly in voluntary euthanasia under these circumstances. Saying this, I've also been around the medical profession a bit too long. The term they use is letting somebody go... pumping them full of opiates and not feeding or watering people who are about to die - it happens on a daily basis. This is a form of euthanasia. Wouldn't it be more merciful and compassionate to put these people out of their misery more quickly? After all, we wouldn't treat animals like this, letting them hang around, in pain, suffering for weeks, if not month. Witnessing a few people linger with cancer and old age is not pretty for anybody, least of all the person dying. I think it's time we looked a what is humane for humanity - and I think that is the moral argument.

22. Is world peace impossible?

No. Weren't there three days sometime in the 1920's where there wasn't a war on the planet. World peace may be impossible, but it is a lovely ideal to strive for. 100,000 Miss Universe contestants can't be wrong...

23. Is pride a good or a bad thing?

I think a little bit of pride is a good thing - but only a little bit. I'm a Leo - I have to say this. Pride doesn't have to be arrogance. It can be very self-preserving. Pride in oneself and one's work is also a good thing to have - even if it comes out in good basic personal hygiene. Too much pride is bad - but a little, in moderation, is definitely good. Knowing not to take it too far is the kicker.

24.What do you think is the purpose of your life?

Other than writing bad poetry and answering bizarre questions on blogs - I don't know. I know that one of my ultimate purposes is healing. I'm good at that. I think I'm still trying to find my life's purpose.

25. Do you believe in karma?

Yes. Little picture karma anyway. You're responsible for what you do in this life. If you're a bastard, it will come back to you. If you are good, that will come back to you too. Not sure where I stand on big picture karma - what have the starving of Africa done to the world?

Some food for thought.

Ice cream free days - 5

There goes the escape route

the trees are lopped back
dappled light floods in the drive
the possum is toast

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pandora Lent IV

Ice cream free days - 4


Somewhere among the seeping coffee grains
The tin can lids, dismembered envelopes
Vegetable peelings and useless information
Posted on unwanted flyers
Raindrenched and unread.
Somewhere beneath this mess
Lies your resentment
And my disappointment
At the knowledge that finally
We have found a routine
And setttled.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pandora Lent III

Ice cream free days - 3 (Just don't ask about beer and chips)


It's not wrong to say that I like you better naked
Still, dozing, gently breathing, clutching the top sheet,
Eyelids fluttering in a dreamstate unwanted
Mouthing unheard conversations, rotating feet.
It cannot be right to think that I love you more silent
Undreaming of a life I cannot understand
For this is the time that you become transparent
And no willing complications come to force my hand.
For I only know you fully when you fall asleep
And the pains of the day depart from your sad eyes
The hostilities of our time together steep
In a place where there are no cries, no hurt, no lies.
I wish I could know your joys, your sadness, your pains
Aside from the lovely beast that sleep contains.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pandora Lent II

Ice cream free days: 2


We no longer expire from consumption.
The overtaking of heart
As the lungs, failing, full, wet,
No longer have the chance to breathe.
The heart drowning
Under the weight of water.
Don't we feel the same now?
The immersion in emotion
That overtakes our being?
The heart unsuppressed, untethered, unresponsive.
Or maybe unable to feel,
We constantly choke down the dramas of the day,
No longer taking in the cool air of freedom.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Good Day

For a day where I left home before nine and arrived home some twelve hours later, today goes down as one of the better ones in a long while.

After feeding Em's cat, going to meditation and having breakfast with the girls, I made my way down to Popeye's for a cup of coffee, where I got to meet my new canine godchild. Most people collect nephews and nieces, I appear to collect animals to feed and nurture when their owners are away. This weekend I'm feeding Leon (Em's cat). I'll visit the Maow Maow tomorrow, two of my standard charges - but today, I met Gypsy, who has me down as "If my owners can't be found, contact this mad woman" on her microchip.

Gypsy's a small, round antithesis of a Rhodesian Ridgeback. A fluffy Pomeranian arrangement with a flat ribbon bit on her back. Lovely mutt. I sat down and she plonked herself in my lap. I think I'm in!

Following the quick visit to Popeye, I made the hour's drive down to Rye to read at a hen's party. This is the third one of these  I've done in a fortnight.

However, it's only the fourth time I've been down the Mornington Peninsula. Two beer club fishing trips and a day wine tasting with Reindert.

I really don't get out of the city enough.

Driving up to the base of a large hill an hour later(Shirley got me there without an issue) I used the crampons and ropes supplied to get up the driveway. Greeted by the maid of honour, I was shown around a magnificent holiday rental house, met the group, reassured them that they weren't going to be told they were going to die and I was lead off to a bedroom where I set up for reading.

Setting up for a reading mean throwing my cards down on the bed and taking off my shoes.

Spent a glorious two hours reading for a group of older women. It appears the Gods of Tarot were on my side today - it appears I was on the money. As always, I made one person cry, but that is the norm. Seriously fantastic, interesting, loving people. I like reading for groups like this. A real array of professionals, stay at home mums, older women - fun, intelligent people. I had a ball. Stayed half an hour longer free of charge just for the pure pleasure of reading for great people.

I love my tarot gigs, but days like this are the ones that feed my soul.

Once that was done, it was time for me. Real me time. Time for a treat. Time to knock another things off the bucket list of things to do.

I've lived in Melbourne for twelve years - but I rarely make it out of the city. There are so many places that I want to go in Victoria, but I use the excuse that I have nobody to go with to no go anywhere. I've been down the Great Ocean Road once - because Glen Waverley wanted to go for a drive. Rutherglen got done when Reindert and I drove a friend's campervan back from Newcastle. Sam and I went to a winery just out of Bairnsdale once, because the wine is exquisite. That was years ago. And other than the odd trip to Ballarat, Bendigo, the wine regions and the long drive down the Western Highway to Adelaide - I've been nowhere.

So, today's treat - to make the trip really worthwhile, not knowing that the crowd would be so good - I stopped in at the Peninsula Hot Springs just out of Rye.

Absolutely magic is an understatement.

Rocking up at around five 'o'clock I wondered if I'd made a good call - it was cool, overcast and drizzly sort of day. I paid my money, changed into my swimmers and looked around. Large steaming pools, paths leading out to the bush and best of all - an area which was signed "Adults Only". This doesn't mean it was for naked use - just no kids - which suited me just fine.

There are two complexes. A spa area which does private baths, massages and the like - a bit more exclusive and no children are permitted. Then there is the Bath House area, a bit cheaper to get into, kids are allowed under supervision, and it was the the place I went, which was just magic.

Wandering through the bush in my bathers, towel over my shoulder, thongs slapping, dunking myself in various pools of differing temperatures, letting the soothing mineral springs take away the cares of the day was a lovely way to spend the rest of the afternoon.

Of the two places I loved the most - the hot pool at the top of the hill that had a view over the better part of the Mornington Peninsula was up there - a scorching 43 degrees, it was at that nearly-too-hot-bath temperature - I managed five minutes before going off in search of a cooler pool.

Just sitting in the warm pools, looking at the dimming light, listening to the bird song, lazing the day away - what more can you ask for. Despite the parade of semi-naked people from every corner of the globe, the centre has an eerie peace to it. I reckon it would be fantastic to go there on a cold, rainy winter's night.

The other place that blew my mind was the recently constructed Hammam complex. Being a huge fan of Turkish baths, I went into the steamy, marble building and just sat. Memories of Granada and time in the Hammam there there came flooding back. I'd go back there tomorrow just for this. (But the way, the background shot of this blog is of the roof of the Hammam at the Alhambra in Granada - the one at the Rye Springs is nowhere near as fancy or old, but it still brought back memories.)

After a turn in the sauna, a quick dip in the cold plunge pool, I showered, changed and made my way home.

Now, I'm just relaxed, a bit tired and my skin feels incredible. Such is the joy of mineral springs. If you're down that way, make a point of dropping in. It's so worth it.

Days really don't get much better than this.

If I pull off the prediction that France will win the Rugby World Cup by two or three points tomorrow, well that will make for a stellar weekend. (I got the Australia result and the spread right - but I'm not sure I have this one on the money)

But we can't ask for too much more.

The only thing that would have made this day even better would be if somebody was here to share it with me.

Pand xx


Ice cream free days:  1

Waiting for the Moon

Peace arrives over a blackened beach
Where darkening waters undulate
A song so silent
Only the sand can understand
The rhythms of the timeless Godless sea.

The first star dares to shine show it's face
As it gently pierces the sheen
Of the velvet silk of the sky.
"I am Venus!" she cries,
Waiting for someone to notice her glory.

Other stars shyly follow her lead,
Sometimes hiding
Behind the deepening blue,
Before standing it's ground
And waiting to be counted by the world.

So you sit, and wait, for the moon,
On this black and silent beach,
Searching the horizon,
For the first signs of life, of light.
Wondering if your wait will be worth it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Version of Lent

As regular readers will be aware, I'm not a Christian. Nor am I a Muslim, a Jew, a Buddhist, a Shinto, an atheist, a Wiccan (well, I'm sort of a wWccan...) or from any other traditional religious bent. 

However, I'm feeling the real need to buckle down and  have some contemplation time. A time of readjusting. A time where I can integrate some of the learnings of the year in a meaningful way and really find out what it is I've come to.

It's been a big year - I need this consolidation time.

So, this will be my version of Lent. Just at the other end of the year and without the penance attached to the Jesus worship. Or it could be seen as a Pandora's personal version of Ramadan - just without the fasting. Maybe this could be seen as a longer version of Yom Kippur - considering the actions of the last while and bringing things back into balance.

I have forty days to do this - forty days is the normal time to do a personal pilgrimage like this. Which will take me to the end of November.

So, for the next forty days.

I'm giving up ice cream. No ice cream. That is the sacrifice section. My crutch will not be available to me in any way for forty days. Phah, you say - what sort of sacrifice is that.?

Well, I see ice cream as the sixth food group. It's a family trait. If I don't have ice cream every few days things start to slide. I'll admit that more of the cold creamy stuff has been sneaking into my diet of late. It's time to address this properly and bring it back into balance.

After all, I'm ten months clean of fast food - what is 40 days without ice cream? I don't crave fast food any more - thank goodness) Maybe it will slake my need for the stuff.

Saying this, giving up ice cream is going to be harder than you will ever know.

But as with all good periods of Lent type activities, you need celebrations too.

And again, this needs to be a personal thing.

My celebration will be to write a poem a day. A short poem. Some days it may just be a haiku. Other days something a bit more substantial.

For without poetry, who are we? After all, a poem looks at the world the way a woman looks at a man (I'm misquoting Wallace Stevens here). I think it's time I rediscovered Pandora the Poet again.  I miss her. She disappeared with my muse a few years ago. It's a part of me that's been lost for a long time. In many ways, she's my true essence - hidden from sight like the ghost of a red-headed step-child.

It's going to be an interesting experiment (Dodgy poetry aside)

So, here's today's offering.

Wish me luck


Twenty One Ten

Mirrored, marbled streets slip under heels
As riot police arch-backed stare at feral campers
Angry under a bronzed Burke and Wills.
Let's take over the city.
Let's not.
The 109 stalls behind a bank of snail paced snail cones.
Today we walk in the rain. Late. Damp. Calm.
Unconcerned by the MungBeanStandOff.
Florence and the Machine drums on relentlessly,
A silent scream between the ears,
Unheard by the ferals
Unheard by the riot police.
As the dog days are probably not over.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Naming Rites

My phone emitted an electronic beep at some ungodly hour last night.

I ignored it. It wasn't a persistent ring - or in my case, the unrelenting drone of the first thirty seconds of Nirvana's "Feels Like Teen Spirit". It was just some notification. The news could be received in the morning over a bowl of porridge and a triple ristretto.

I went back to sleep.

On rising a few hours later I looked over at my phone. My second cousin's wife had a son. Lovely news. Both mum and baby doing well. A stonking, big nine pounder in the old language. Name. Malcolm Callum Grant.

They called their son Malcolm!


I have an Uncle Malcolm. He calls himself by another moniker. I don't think anybody has called my uncle Malcolm since he came out of the womb. It's not going to be on his tombstone. It was a daggy name when he was given it some sixty-five years ago.

Oh for goodness sake. Malcolm. Enrol the kid in tap dancing lessons and buy him his first can of petrol and machete now - he's going to be a psychopath. End of story. Surely they're going to call him Callum - or Cal. Surely.....but you never know.

I texted my cousin - who happens to be my favorite cousin and grandmother to little Malcolm. Asked her about the name. "Malcolm?! Is he going to have brothers Trevor and Donald?"

"I know. Heaven help us!" was my cousin's response.

Taken into consideration is the fact that the baby's maternal grandfather is called Malcolm - sort of makes it okay (and mind you - the other grandfather is a Neville - the kid has no chance) - but still. Can't they find the kid his own name? And his initials. M.C.G. Named after the hallowed turf in Richmond where many a football and cricket match is played. Oh, bless.

As a childless woman, I've never had to name a child. I seriously don't know how I'd go.

I name my cars. I've had Edna the EJ Holden and Phoebe the Fiesta (inherited names), Colin the Daihatsu (Colins often have small man syndrome, would have called him Allan but he couldn't make the tea - Allans are often small and they always make the tea). Then there was Andrew the Echo - named after an ex-boyfriend's dangly bits (again associations - like the other Andrew, the Toyota was small but it got me where I needed to go) and now I have Neville the Mazda - suitably named after a middle-aged accountant somewhere - the only Neville I know has silver grey hair - the same colour as my car.

I also have Shirley the GPS - so named after a friend's indominable mother who is scarier than a herd of rampaging elephants - only with a fag in one hand and a pint of bitter in the other. My GPS scares me most of the time - especially when I ignore its instructions to go down Punt Road.

Naming can be hard.

My friend Max and her partner are still trying to find the right name for her daughter who is now a month old. They took their time naming their son too. His name really suits him now. He's going to be cool.

We've been having a few odd conversations on the subject. I was sitting at this hospital with this two day old bundle in my arms and Max went through the long list.

"I don't know why you're asking me this, Max. It's your child. I'll love her regardless of what you call her."
"She's known as Bam Bam at the moment."
"And that might stick. But it won't look good on a passport. You'd get pulled up every time you went through customs with a name like that."
She went through this list of names. Some lovely, classic, easy on the ear names. Others had my eyebrows raising.
"Max - it really is up to you and Ram. Don't ask for my opinion. It's none of my business."
"But you don't mind being used as a sounding board."
"As long as you don't mind getting the brunt of my sense of humour."

I've been getting the odd text since then.

'What do you think of Greta?"
"Smacks of Kingswood Country and kaftan wearing librarians."
"How about Eugenia?"
"Hmm. Bit posh. Not too bad if you're looking to put her through private school."
"Tries to hard to hide her cross eyes. Put money away for braces now."
"Like that one. But it's your kid. You name it. Don't ask for my opinion. I will only end up offending."

It's fun watching people name their children.

Some say absolutely nothing about what the kid will be called. I rather like these people. Others, like my friend Max, will ask for opinions and suggestions.

And what ever I say will normally be wrong.

Then there are the names you dislike by association.

Kevin will always be the slob who collected his fingernail clippings in a jar.
Simon - oh don't get me started on Simons..... in love with their computers for the most part.
Trevor - Named after St Trevor, the patron saint of those who wear socks with sandals.
Julian - Pot smoking lawyer with numerous DUIs under his belt. So far back in the closet he's in Narnia.
Derek - named after a frog's mating call.

There are also the names that have become cliche by over use. Sharon, Tracey, Lisa, Michelle and Narelle are all now in their forties with kids in tow. Practical multi-taskers who really could have done with less common names.

You know that Darren, Mark, Steven and Paul are now hitting forty and wondering when they are going to trade their Commodore in for an E Type Jag or some other penile equivalent.

I used to hate my name - and as I went through school with five other Pandoras I though I was as common as muck. Since leaving Myponga, we Pandoras are a bit rarer. And I don't mind the name. I've grown into it. Just don't call me Pandy or Dora....

It's interesting watching some of the cultural naming that goes about. Having a chat with Dimitra in the office, she said that her daughter would be called after her mother, in line with Greek tradition. Fair enough. That appears to be the norm for some cultures - and good on them.

If I ever had children, I couldn't go the grandaparent route - the grandaughter of Reginald Lancelot, Eunice, Darcy Elliot and Ada Jean - nah, sorry couldn't do that to a child. They're almost Department of Child Welfare worthy names.

But I still wonder about poor little Malcolm.

Why not call him Callum Malcolm? Okay, you lose the cool initials - but still. It's a little more palatable.

Daggy middle names have a bit more kudos. My friend Alice's little boy's middle name is Mungo - named after the patron saint of Glasgow and recalcitrant journalists. Another friend was thinking about giving the middle name of Danger - then Danger would be his middle name... They didn't in the end. It would have set a precedent. What would the second one's middle name be? Trouble? Reckless? Rebel? Late-for-dinner?

And then there are the alternative spellings that appear to be cropping up. The Tiphphannees and Mikaylaahs and Jaaysonns and and Symins. That's just asking for trouble - and the wrath of teachers.

Or the cool but unpronounceable Irish names that were popular a while ago. I'm sure that Naimh, Aoife, Tadhg and Aoibheann will be used to spelling and pronouncing their names here in Australia once they turn five.

And of course the stripper names - the Ambers and Tawnies and Stormies and Misties - just can't be done. Just as Dirk and Roger are porn stars, these girls are fated to be walking around V8 tracks in bikinis. Just as Dawns, Veras and Irenes will always end up working at newsagencies and drycleaners.

I rather like the "supermarket test" that a couple of friend's swear by. Can you shout the name out to a misbehaving three-year-old and not make a mockery of yourself? Names like Robert, Michael, Laura and Ava pass with flying colours. Try whining out Barney, Oscar, Mabel or Bonnie in the aisle or in the park - and either watch a gaggle of three year olds or a pack of dogs turn their heads.

That also goes for what you call siblings. An old workmate related how he'd never been so embarrassed when his friends called out for Jenna and Talia to come in for dinner (think about it....)

And the sibling test. My mate Mack has children Mabel, Michael, Maisie, Mariah and Monroe. It's going to be diabolical when they get to be teenagers and start getting mail.

Ah, it's all too hard.

I wish little Malcolm well. He's going to have his challenges - he's a Libran after all. Being called Malcolm will only add to these challenges.

Oh, if I was to have a child  - I've always fancied giving a daughter the middle name of Serendipity. Why? Because any child I have will be a happy accident.


p.s. Thanks to Patrick Cook's Ultimate Book of Baby Names for the inspiration for this - and if you can track down a copy, you won't be sorry.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


The Tarot Gods were having a bit of a laugh yesterday.

My services as a tarot reader are in demand. With two hen's parties to read at yesterday, plus a number of other one-on-one bookings in the diary, I'm back finding my inner witch/tarot reader/counsellor/shovel-wielding-blow-to-the-back-of-the-head-giver - or whatever skill it is I use when I go reading cards on a regular basis.

Explaining to people that you read tarot can, at times, be difficult. I tend not to tell people about this hobby job until I know them, once I work out where they lie on the mystical plane. I try not to make a fuss of it - it's something that I do. I'd be more ashamed to speak out if I played mixed netball or was into taxidermy or "The Farmer Wants a Wife". Something embarrassing like that. Tarot is a part of me - a small, eclectic part of me.

Friday night was interesting. I went out for dinner with Jonella and her Mum, Connie. A pious woman from Durban, she was asking me about my weekend. I explained that I was racing around, having my cards read and doing a couple of readingsm hoping she wouldn't ask too many questions.

Talking tarot with religious people can be difficult. I tend to avoid it - saves arguments and judgement. However, Connie asked me a direct question. Why was I having my cards read? How did I feel reading cards? This wasn't said with any malice or judgement - I was compelled to answer.
What does one say?

Jonella was looking on with interest. She's warned me about her mum and her religious beliefs - but after a lovely evening at one of the local Vietnamese restaurants, the boundaries were set, I was fine to talk.

I explained that in having my cards read, I was normally looking to get some clarity around what was going on in my life or in a situation in my life. It's more of a counselling session. I don't want to know the future - I want to have a look around about what is going on now. My reader is a trained counsellor, as well as the former head of the Australian tarot guild - I'm in safe hands.

As to me reading - I see myself as somebody who sheds light on the present. I rarely make predictions. I don't give advice - but offer suggestions. If things are good, they are good. It things are not so, what are they doing to make things a bit better?

I told Connie, "Readings are never forced on people. If they don't want them, I don't give them. If people are visibly unhinged or drunk, I won't read for them. I'm not there to make waves - just to have a look. But as one very devout Christian told me once, "Messages come from God in all sorts of ways - who am I to discount what you do? You have nice energy - I'll give it a go." I rather like that analogy - what I do is look at the messages at a point in time - that is all. We tarot readers have our own version of the Hypocratic Oath. "First, do no harm."

I have my cards read about once a year - normally when I want some clarity around a situation. I don't need to go any more than that. -  it's like a counselling session, normally with a point.

Jonella said later that her mother was at ease with what I was saying. I'm glad. I don't go out to inflame other people. It's a gentle path you walk when you look into the lives of others.

I booked my reading with Viv a few weeks ago. Work is proving a little stressful at the moment, not knowing what is going on - I wanted a bit of reassurance.

The cards decided to have a laugh at me. For every question I asked, I got another answer, and another question. I asked about work. I'll be fine - now what am I doing about releationships? I asked about money, I have enough - now what am I doing about relationships? Travel. If I want to, I can - now what am I doing about relationships?

The cards decided to shove this in my face. What am I doing about this? Why don't I have relationships? Why do I push everybody away? It was like I got my answers about  whatever else, then the cards started on me about my love life or lack of it. It was pretty unrelenting. It all ended in tears. It normally does when my cards get read. Not bad sobby tears, just tears. My natal moon is in Cancer. I'm a sook.

I left, and hour later, flummoxed.

The thing that came up most of all was that to progress, I have a lot of stuff to unlearn. I've done the work on me - now it's time for the unlearning all the stuff that I've taught myself over the last forty-three years. The stuff that appears to be so ingrained that it is a part of me - almost to a cellular level.

But how does one going about unlearning things? In my childhood I learned that to trust would mean getting your feelings trodden over - I don't trust. Never say the words I love you, people just run away. Don't get attached to people, they will just use you. Don't rely on people, they will just let you down. Don't expect anything, you will never be disappointed. Please people, but don't expect to be pleased in return. If you can't do it yourself, you won't be able to do it. Other people leave you weak and vulnerable. Don't go near them.

I have a lot of unlearning to do.

We talked about why I felt all of these things and I can look back and see where it all came from. From my mother being the breadwinner in the family, miserable in the situation - having all of her hard work torn way when my father walked away with the lion's share from their divorce. Young love left me truly scarred - and when love was offered a few years later, I was far too broken to go near it. During my twenties, I lived the life of an illegal alien for many years, reticent to get into relationships for fear of being thrown out of the country - and unwilling to marry for convenience to stay - that would mean relying on somebody. Love was something that was always unrequited - or so I thought. The men I chose were always unavailable. I make my own money because I only know how to support myself. I've been paying my own way since I was fourteen.

And all of this is what I have to unlearn.

Buggered if I know how I'm supposed to do it.

Being honest, these questions have been plaguing me for a while now. A series of events have set off a lot of thinking around these topics. The world has been shoving these questions in my face for a while now. It's time to take notice.

After a wondeful massage after the reading - much needed, I trotted off to my tarot jobs. Two very different events - one at a city bar with a group of professional women dressed to the nines. The other, in a hotel suite, a group of young suburban women, teachers and nurses, down to earth and fun.

Two different groups. The same questions. Will I have children? Will I get married? Is this one the one for me?

As always, with tarot cards, you stick to what you can see. As always, when doing short readings at hen's parties, keep it light, stick to the knowns - work, money, fun. 

Somebody will always cry. Of course, somebody did. Hen's parties are about avoiding the buttons. You're going to press one every now and then.

Maybe this is biggest lesson of all. Maybe it's time I got my buttons pushed well and good.

What ever else, it's going to get interesting from here on in.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Would you do Shane Warne?

After a day of "Death by Arial 10 Pitch Black", staring at a screen trying to remediate the documentation around a forty-year-old COBOL based Payments system from 9 a.m., I finally submitted my document for feedback at 5.59 p.m. yesterday afternoon. After a few weeks like this, a girl needs a bit of respite. Meeting Jonella for lunch did help break up the day - the rest of it was rather woeful until I walked out the door of Bastard Bank and headed for book group.

Firstly, walking to book group after work I was passed by a group of Hare Krishnas.

The Hare Krishnas always make me smile. They always look so happy, dancing around the streets, clapping and singing. And you have to really like their songs! It's hard to to stuff up the words. Nah, coming out of work today, part of me wanted to join the Hare Krishnas as they made their way down William Street.

I've joined the Hares on their way through the streets in the past for a few minutes, dancing with them in my business suit, handbag flying, singing along with gay abandon. They were a lovely few minutes, before the leader of the group spotted me and shooed me on my way. Even better, I wasn't in any way inebriated. You should try it some time!

Once at book group, things got decidedly better. A glass of sauvignon blanc, some dinner and some wonderful conversation helped revive the spirits.

As it always happens with book group, things went off topic over dinner. Somehow, the conversation drifted from the book to the topic of Shane Warne. How this happened I'm not sure. Something about growing up poor and Elizabeth Hurley and coming from impoverished backgrounds - the novel we read was set in Southern Italy in the 80's.

"Oh, you know - some people just do things for money. Look at Liz Hurley and Shane Warne. They're a nice couple. Lots of money." Blarney piped up.

My roasted chicken breast in proscuitto wasn't looking as nice all of a sudden. There was a collective groan from the table.

"Ew!" groaned Georgie.
"Yuck!" growled Merijn.
"He looks like he's been dipped in fanta." I added.
"I don't think he's that bad. Lots of women think he's alright." said Blarney.
"Must be Blind Freddy's sister to think he's okay. He's dreadful. I'm enduring an endless four year dry spell - I'd rather stay celibate!" I retorted.

A girl has to have her standards...

Quite a bit of conversation followed. It appears the book group has similar taste in men.

There are just some men who the proverbial very long barge pole would not be long enough to touch them with. Shane Warne, it appears, is one of those men.

Some women, and I really have no idea who they are, find this rather effective spin bowler attractive. I can't see it. Most of my book group can't see it, but these women are allegedly out there - Sharon Strzlecki being one of them. (The netballer from Kath and Kim...)

I had a similar conversation a few weeks ago where a friend was saying that women threw themselves at Warnie. I'm not sure I would piss on him if he was on fire - okay, that's a bit strong, I'd throw a bucket of water on him out of human decency. But though of making love to Shane Warne. Sorry. Nup. Turns the stomach.

I know that I have rather dodgy taste in men, as I've written about before. I know that people have different tastes in men - I can see in the attraction in the "sexy ugly man" such as Steve Buscemi, Benecio Del Toro, Gerard Depardieu (before he found the good paddock) - or my favorite drool inducer - Javier Bardem (Placed directly in the bath with Clive Owen - FILTHY - in a very, very good way - oh there's an image :P )

The conversation continued the next morning at work. Arabella, who is currently sitting next to me is five months pregnant and fully hormonal and always up for a giggle. I told her of this conversation and she agreed. Shane Warne. Sorry - nope. Other than he looks like an elongated oompa loompa, his teeth covered in white out and we all know about the hair plugs... Then there's the serial sleazy text messages, the numerous strange encounters with women... oh the list goes on. Would you really want to go there?

You don't know where he's really been...

There are just some men, who by rights, should be removed from the gene pool. Those where there isn't a long enough shitty stick with which you would ever deign to poke them. You have to wonder how some of these men became husbands and had children.

Then again, there is no accounting for some people's tastes or the anti-psychotic meds their doctors put them on...

Here are few of the names that got bandied about.


Bob Katter

My step-father put it well. "It looks like he's had a shit sandwich stuck under his nose." Loopy, right wing politics aside, it's hard to find any redeeming features in Bob Katter. You know he's going to leave his hat on in bed, along with his socks - you just know it! (another complete turn off....) Probably had a special pillow made with an indent for his Akubra.

Bob Katter had to become a politician - what other profession would take on such a man? It's very hard to find any redeeming features in Bob Katter. Trin's response to his name was something the lines of "I'd rather root a dead roo." Hmm, maybe that's a bit extreme, but he really does have the sex appeal of three-day-old road kill.

Tony Abbott

I have been heard to say, on occasion, for a fifty-something bloke, Tony Abbott doesn't have a bad body. And fair dues - he doesn't. If you could cut off his head and remove his politics, I possibly could go there - that chest hair is divine - but this is my proclivity - don't expect everybody to understand this one. I just have a thing for hairy chests.

The real deal breakers, however. The speedos. Unless you're an Olympic swimmer or a ten year old boy, budgie smugglers are a no-no. Sorry Tony, I know you're a triathlete, but still - NOT IN PUBLIC - cover yourself after your race! Dick stickers are just awful.

Banana hammocks aside (isn't amazing how many euphemisms there are for a humble pair of speedos!), the man has the most odious politics - he is a shining example of why have a separation between Church and State - I just wished he'd remember this more often. He's also backwards, homophobic and generally a complete nonce when it comes to forward thinking. Abbott just has to open his mouth and I want to shoot him. I sound like a bit of a chook farm when he comes on the telly. "F*ck, f*ck, f*ck OFF NOW, TONY!" is normally screamed at the box. Unfortunately, being leader of the opposition, he's on the small screen a lot.

Yelling at him when he's on the television is great - just like calling Telstra when you need an argument - strangely satisfying.

How he was allowed to breed, I'm still unsure. At least his daughters see him for what he is - a lame, daft, churchy loser.

Lleyton Hewitt

Lleyton Hewitt reminds me of the many reasons I left Adelaide - some twenty years ago today (Happy Anniversary, Pand). He gives men from Adelaide a bad name. Tosser. Can't quite put my finger on it - maybe it's the arrogance - or maybe it's just the fact that he's a wanker.

Vladimir Putin

Okay, what is this one out to prove? Why does he take every opportunity to take his shirt off for photo opportunities. He's the leader of the ex-Soviet Union. What right has he got to go shirtless in waders, in Siberia, for the press? Is he out to prove his manliness? John Howard never did this (can you imagine!). This on smacks of FIGJAM. FIGJAM - a lovely acronym for "F*ck I'm good, just ask me. Slightly more worrying is that he has the codes for a hell of a lot of nuclear weapons. Like Tony Abbott - keep your clothes on, please. You may be clever and powerful, but you're not that pretty. (Pale is not always interesting)

Wayne Carey

The Shane Warne of AFL - dear Wayne has moved to Adelaide and gone all quiet. However in the nineties and noughties he was known about town as a bit of a ladies' man. Like Shane Warne, he has that "I don't know what it is but I don't want to go there" look about him. Maybe it's the blonde thing. Maybe it's the fact that he got paid exhorbidant amounts of money to play football and we're envious. There is that "je ne sais quoi" about Wayne Carey that would have me running a mile very quickly in the other direction if he came near me. I have it from sources that he had a lovely body - I'm sure he does/did.

Some could say that there is this country boy charm about him being from Wagga Wagga and all - little do they know what country boys can get up to given the opportunity can get up to (from very limited experience, all enthusiam with little finesse) A masonic friend of mine, a Kangaroos stalwart, reckons that he's a right sweetie - but she's old enough to be his grandmother. Sorry Wayne - like Shane, you're a bit of a no-go area. Besides - being front page news that you shagged your best mate's wife. Deal breaker then and there.

Indiscretion is only tolerable if you're very, very discrete about it.

Andrew Bolt

Oh, where do I start with this one?

Like Tony Abbott, the dreadful right-wing politics, the "I'm so up myself they have to showcase me on a Sunday morning when there should be cartoons on the television" attitude (Is Channel Nine trying to corrupt young children or does Bolt have something very nasty on James Packer and Kym Gyngell - I wonder which one it is?). This man opens his mouth and it's a complete and total passion killer. Besides the fact that he's a crap journalist as proved in open court only last week, there are many, many things that one can take offence with over Andrew Bolt.

Just ask my friend Kath. She LOVES Andrew Bolt... (see the comments in a day or so)

It appears sex appeal and attitude go hand in hand. Hmmm.

Warwick Capper

Oh dear. Warwick Capper. They still wheel him out for reality television shows. I think he goes in the "No idea where he's been, really can't see why I'd want to go there" pile. By his own admission he's cheap and easy. He breaks to of my very firm laws of remotely attractive men. 1) Always disregard anybody who still has a mullet - why would you sleep with anybody with a mullet? The reasoning of up front for action, out back for fun really doesn't relate to hair - it was meant for something else about three foot lower down. Pity nobody told him this. And 2) Men in gold lame? No way! Sorry - that's the realm of aging Eurotrash playboys. Why would a Stop/Slow man from the Gold Coast do that to himself?

Underneath the leopard skin and the gold short-shorts he might be a nice fellow.

Just wouldn't shag him if he was the last man on earth.

Russell Crowe

Our Russell is welcome to go back to New Zealand any time he likes.

In my list of men I'm quite fond of, Kiwis normally rate highly (Jermaine from Flight of the Conchords, Munter from Outrageous Fortune, The All Blacks - PHWOAR!).

Not this one.

Comes down to attitude once again. Attitude and the fact that he's a Rabbitohs supporter.

Too arrogant. Allegedly sings in a band that never should have been recorded. Next.

James Packer

Might be okay if he had a paper bag over his head. Don't care if he's rich. I take exception to the fact that he's concentrated his business interests in the gaming industry. Not pretty. Certainly somebody I wouldn't go near no matter how much money he had.

I have nothing against physically unattractive men  - I can't cast stones - I'm no oil painting - but being really honest, if a bloke is kind and warm and decent who cares what he looks like.

James Packer's attitude that disturbs me more.

The fact that he looks a bit like a desicated lizard, just like his father - that doesn't help.

John Howard

I'm still of the firm opinion that John Howard is the least attractive man on the planet. The track suit - worn in over 50 countries. The eyebrows - that he never let his barber trim. The glasses that went out of fashion twenty years ago.

Like Tony Abbott and Andrew Bolt - it's all in the attitude. Go to Parliament House in Canberra - there is a lovely portrait of him with his arm around Jeanette - with that grin of 'She's mine!' Lucky John! Even luckier Jeanette.

She can have him.

I'm sure if there were bloggers thirty years ago when Howard was an up and coming back bencher, there would a blogger out there saying exactly the same things about Little Johnnie as I've extolled about Tony Abbott.

And that has passed a rather pleasant lunch time.

Have I missed anybody? Karl Stefanovic was left off the list as he does have the ability to occasionally take the piss out of himself. Sam Newman was left off because there just aren't the adjectives. There are plenty more out there - these are just my stand outs.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Repeated Actions of Falling and Righting Oneself

Trin looked at me like an overbearing librarian."Pand, shut it!"
Desi was standing next to Trin, looking at me with surprise.
"Don't worry, Desi, she's always like this before a race. Never heard anybody moan so much about doing something she loves."
"Who's effing idea was it to do this? The sun is barely up." I moaned. "It's alright for you, you'll be done by nine 'o' clock. I have to wait about for another half hour to start and then I'm not going to finish for over two hours. This isn't fun. I'm surrounded by thousands of lycra clad people, all thinking exactly the same thing. This is shit!"

"Pand, shut it!" repeated Trin and Desi in unison.

Okay, I admit it. Part of my race day plan is to moan for at least ten minutes before the race. If I'm not getting clocked in the face by some person taking off a jumper, or tripping over a pram or having a dog growl at me, I'm being freaked out by the crowds - or in today's case, just a bit tired and grumpy because I didn't quite get enough sleep and I'd been up since 5.45. Desi, arrived at 6.20, Trin at 6.30 and we walked to the event together. You have to have a little bitch about that....

Thing is, my grizzling is my way of shedding my nerves. I'm standing there knowing that I have 21.1 kilometres to cover. Yes, I'm nuts. Yes, nobody else signed me up for this. Yes, I know I've done the training. Yes, I know I've done the distance before. But still! It's 7.30 on a damp, cool Sunday morning and I'm standing there about to wave my friends off on their ten kilometre run and I still have to schlep down St Kilda Road, Round Albert Park Lake and back again.


My race started at eight. Double Phooey.

I was thinking about going back to bed.

Once Trin and Desi were on their way, I continued my internal moaning, whilst doing some gentle stretching and keeping an eye out for Anna from the gym. She was down for the half as well. I didn't find her however. Nevermind.

Today was my fourth half marathon.

The first one was done in Adelaide in May 2009. Reindert walk/ran it with me (he did the full marathon - just met up with me at the two kilometer mark of the half. Two hours thirty nine it took me.

A few months later, I ran the Melbourne half marathon. A warm, sunny day, a bit too warm in many ways. Two hours forty four that one took me. Lost a toenail too.

Last year, in May, I did the Williamstown Half Marathon. Possibly the proudest moment of my life. I ran all the way. It was a seminal moment. It proved that I could do ANYTHING! The official time came in at 2.33.58.

Then I got injured and needed surgery and I had to give up running for six months and that was bloody awful. I was getting back into it in October and I did my right knee. Things didn't look good.

A year later - here I was lining up for the half again.

Of course, all of the rituals were performed the night before. A big bowl of pasta for dinner, my clothes set out, $20 put near my bra to go down the front of it (cab fare). The bum bag was packed. Credit card, driver's licence, gels, light weight house keys. Done.

The only two small changes to my racing outfit - I changed my go-faster red singlet top for a quick dry t-shirt as it was looking like rain - at least the rapid dry t-shirt wouldn't weigh me down or keep me cold. The other change was the black toe socks I picked up in Sydney. These are great - they stop my toes aching too much on  longer runs. The other consideration - with the likelihood of rain, contact lenses were placed in my eyes, not my normal glasses. I hoped it wouldn't get too sunny - I don't have any non-prescription sunnies.

Desi, Trin an I walked the three kilometres to the MCG. Halfway there Trin said she'd left her heart rate monitor behind. I stopped myself from saying something. My heart rate monitor is like a critical piece of equiment - up there with my two bras. Being a control freak, I need to know what time I'm doing, where I'm heading, how I'm tracking. It was then I realised that I'd left my hat at home. Oh well, buy one when I get there. Which I did. Can't run without a hat. That's the rules on race day.

Finally, I set off. Passed through the arch at 8.03.

I've learned a lot over the last few years of running.

I don't hit my true stride until the five kilometre mark - I bitch and moan internally until then - and it's all a matter of seeing this period through.

Not being as fast as I would like doesn't upset me any more. Today's humidity made my apply the brakes a bit. Humidity and I don't get on - thankfully it wasn't any warmer.

There are all the normal obstacles to overcome. Not tripping at the drinks stations is one, the sea of plastic cups can be lethal.

The mental obtacles get easier as the race goes on. You tell yourself to be somewhere at a certain point - make the ten kilometre mark by 65 minutes (I got there around 66 minutes - okay with that - certainly not a failure on my part) Have a gel at the eight and sixteen kilometre marks (I had the spare at eighteen as well - was feeling a bit whooshy). Give encouragement where encouragement is due. You chat to a lot of people in the last few kilometres, egging each other on getting each other over the line.

One of the highlights of this race was passing a girl I ran with in the 2009 race. She and I sat on the same pace in 2009 and we helped each other along for an hour or so. It was lovely to see her. We ran together for about a kilometre before I bid her well. She was aiming for around 2.40. I was looking at around twenty minutes quicker. No point slowing myself down to that pace. I had some things to prove to myself.

The only downer to the race - invisible kilometre markings. Psychologically, these markers are critical. Just seeing that you only have seven, three, two kilometres to go can give you an edge. I remember seeing the one, two, three, six, ten, eleven, seventeen, eighteen and twenty kilometre markers only. Not happy, but I was running well, so I took pleasure in that. At the nineteen kilometre mark, one of the volunteers said that it was just ahead. I let out a whoop and a "thank f*ck for that!" before running around the corner and not finding it.

Oh well, I was nearly home.

Did I walk. For twenty or so metres at each drink station (sorry, I can't run and drink) and twice, I walked for about fifty metres to regulate my heart rate, which was up a bit high. No shame in that. Ostensibly, I ran all the way.

My legs held up really well, my breathing was good, except for an occasionaly dry cough - the joys of blossoms flying off the trees down St Kilda Road.

Finally, in the last kilometre, it dawned on me - I've just done this. I wouldn't say it was easy, but I've done it. My knee was good. My legs, though a touch stiff, were good. I was pretty tired tired, but fine.

Two hours, twenty one minutes and thirty five seconds after running through the first arch, I finished.

Twelve clear minutes faster than my last personal best.

And I cried.

Why cry, other than I'm physically wrecked, my toes feel like they're about to drop off and there are thousands of people jostling about?

I cry for a stupid reason. There is nobody here to meet me.

It's like, if a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

I run a half marathon, nobody is there to collect me at the end - have I really done it?

Well, I have. I did it. The results will be up in the next day or so on the website. Pandora Behr, aged 43 - runs a 2.21.35 half marathon, making the 10 kilometre mark at 66.05. I've done it! It will be a matter of public record in a day or so.

Despite not having a friend to meet up with, I regained my composure in a minute, found the water table, downed two nurofen and settled myself. My achilles throbbed for a few minutes, nothing some concentrated stretching didn't fix. Gathering my showbag, going to the toilet, buying a SPIbelt as a well done present (Small Personal Items Belt - much more efficient than the bum bag I've been using to haul things about during races) then I walked the three kilometres home, chatting with another half marathoner down Bridge Road and grabbed a coffee and a finger bun as a treat.

Reindert was very pleased - we caught up on skype when I got home, me, all sweaty, but happy. It's great to rehash a race with somebody who understands.

Doing a body check after my shower, my breasts have not been cut to ribbons. My toenails are intact. My limbs are working well. Just a bit tired, that is all. It's great.

Two years on from my first half marathon, what have I learned, other than  I have the spirit of a warrior, that running requires generousity of spirit, tenacity and commitment, that not cutting your toenails can hobble you, that like cycling gear, running clothing is not particularly sexy and that not drinking at each water station should be done at your own risk?

What else other than reaping the health benefits of far fewer colds, a toned, slimmer frame, healthy bones and muscles and far more energy?

I think that running has taught me that I truly can overcome anything. If I can beat myself, I can take on the world. It's taught me that I am worth the time and effort it take to keep fit to such a level. It's taught me that there is some suffering that is truly worth it - that the sacrifice of mornings in bed, of drunken nights out, of time out on the road pays more dividends than the initial sacrifice. I'm truly worth all this effort.

Running has given me a sense of peace. Long may it continue.

I've just finished a book about barefoot and distance running. "Born to Run" by Christopher Mc Dougall details the lives of ultra-marathon runners, including a tribe of Mexican Indians, the Tarahumara and the wonderful, barking mad, inspiring Caballo Blanco - a guy by the name of Micah True.

Get the book. Read it. It's one of the best non-fictions books out there about running. Even if you're a non-runner.

Everything they say about the 'soul' of running is what I've believed for a while.

We're meant to do this.

After all, running is just the process of repeatedly falling down and getting back up again.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Land of Redundant Laws

I have a kid's book that I want to write.

Pitched at the 8-11 year old market, it's sort of a Harry Potter meets Terry Pratchett. It relates the story of Rainbow Robertson (That's Rob-ERT-son, not Rob-IN-son), a precocious eleven-year-old who is the daughter of Robbie Robertson, lead guitarist with the mega-rock band, Medulla Oblongata, and Jenni Robertson, an accountant. Rainbow is sent to her grandmother's at Hippy Corner, South Australia, when the band goes on tour. Rainbow's Grandma, Nanna Kate, is a big hippy.

One day, Rainbow is out on the swamp collecting mint for the mint sauce for the roast lamb dinner (this was one of my favorite jobs as a child - go get wild mint from the swamp) when she gets a bit adventurous and goes jumping on the loamy ground, bouncing on it like a trampoline (I used to love doing that too). As it happens, the ground gives way after a while and Rainbow falls through the swamp, but instead of drowning or suffocating, she lands on a large, soft, feather bed in a round room with eleven doors. Here the dark wizard Parenthesis and his henchmen pixies, Trochee, Spondee and Caesura take Rainbow under their wing and send her on her journey, to liberate the lands found behind these subterranean doors.

Rainbow Robertson is the quintessential hero - all scabby, knock knees, lanky pigtails and freckled nose.

Behind these doors there are eleven lands. I have some of them down - like the Land of King Bruce of the Sharpei people, where nobody's skin fits quite right. And there is the land of the Wah-Wah-Wah - where everybody speaks but nobody listens. Then there's the Land of Violet Haze, where everybody lives in their own dream - little do they know, they're all dreaming for each other.

But my favorite land that I've dreamed up to date is the Land of Redundant Rules. A land by which it is decreed that you must wear pink socks on Tuesday or be punished by exhaustive tickling by a feather duster. There are other stupid rules that need to be followed in this land - such as people on roller skates get right of way over lorries - except on the second Wednesday of each month where people on skateboards get a look in and rule the roads. There is the law that you have to give your mother a block of white chocolate for her birthday, unless she is allergic to cherries then you are to give her a sponge cake instead. These really crazy rules are something that Rainbow has to navigate, come to terms with, and lead the world in which she is in to a new way of thinking.

I think Rainbow could teach us something.

There are so many useless and overblown laws and rules about the place. For example, it's still in Queensland's constitution that all pubs must have a hitching rain outside so people can tie up their horses. These rails are now probably used for supporting drunk people as they wait for taxis - but the law stands. America is full of redundant laws. For example, in Kentucky, it is law that all citizens have a bath at least once a year - this is one of those "only in America" laws - then again, there are people who wish that biblical law was in place. Leviticus has some wonderful things to say about cursing your mother and father under pain of death and stoning witches. Deuteronomy espouses that those of other faiths be killed - now that would go down well in multi-cultural Australia? I don't think I'd make it past my eighteenth year going by some of these laws.

In Victoria, Legislation: Section 13 of the Vagrancy Act, 1958 ('Fortune Telling and Pretending to Exercise Witchcraft, etc'). "Any person who pretends or professes to tell fortunes or uses any subtle craft means or device by palmistry or otherwise to defraud or impose on any other person or pretends to exercise or use any kind of witchcraft sorcery enchantment or conjuration or pretends from his skill or knowledge in any occult or crafty science to discover where or in what manner any goods or chattels stolen or lost may be found shall be guilty of an offence." This was only repealed in 2005. Lucky for me.

There are some laws that you know to which there are a point, but then again, you can't quite see why they go so overboard. A pet peeve of mine is bike helmets. I really can see the point of them. I know that they help to save lives. I think it should be mandatory for children under the age of 18 to wear them - but once you're an adult - why not do as you please? Sodding nanny state!You go to the Netherlands, where everybody rides a bike - not a helmet in sight. Granted, they have a much better infrastructure for bikes, yet still, nine million Dutchmen can't be wrong (and mind you, if you ask them, they never will be wrong, ever) What makes the bike helmet laws a little more ridiculous is when you find out that Melbourne City Council has set up a cheap bike hire service around town - spent a couple of million on it - but nobody can use the bikes without a helmet... Wonderful for tourists and locals alike. The current fine for not wearing a bike helmet in Melbourne is around $150...

Revenue raising, or what?

To me, the rules which are often the ones that need breaking the most are the social rules and mores - the rules which we live our life by.

Little rules like no elbows on the dinner table - now is this one ever enforced any more?

What about the rule about making your bed before leaving the house? Or was this one my mother made up when I was a child? (I think the dishes had to be done too)

Of course there are rules around saying what you think - where I was brought up this was one of the worst things you could ever do. Speaking out of turn was punishable by a slap around the legs with a wooden spoon or hairbrush. Though I'm normally as tactful as a Tasmanian Devil in a crystal shop, I often feel a pit of fear when I speak my truth. I was home in Adelaide a few weeks ago and was berated for speaking out by a couple of family members. Thankfully I had the good grace to tell them exactly what I thought of that idea by telling them that I thought that sitting on my middle finger would be a great idea.

But the biggest unwritten, redundant law that I wish I never had instilled into me.

Never tell somebody that you love them first.

Don't tell them that you love them at all appears to be the rule where I come from.

I really have no idea where this one came from, but it's so deeply ingrained. Telling people you love them only drives them away - well that was the thought many years ago.

Of course, there are ways and means as to when you tell somebody that you love them. It appears it works best when you're doing the dishes, or out getting takeaway. I can't be the only one who's baulked when told of being loved for the first time whilst having sex. For some reason, it loses all meaning. (Only happened once and I wanted to climb out of bed, shove on my clothes an walk out the door)

Telling my boyfriend I had when I was seventeen that I loved him a week before he dumped me might have something to do with this belief. I think I saw in telling him that it drove him away - and I clammed up after that. (Call it Cordelia's Law, "What should Cordelia speak? Love and be silent." King Lear, Act 1 Scene 1).

Coming from a family in which there was very little affection probably didn't help either. I have no recollection of being told I was loved as a child - let alone kissed and cuddled. You didn't tell people you loved them. It was soppy and stupid to tell somebody you love them.  I remember pouring affection onto the dog - she was my best mate at the time - she didn't shy away from any affection at all.

Looking back, I can only remember saying the words only a handful of times - it was an alien concept to me up until a few years ago.

I've been reflecting on this redundant belief for a while now - fully aware of the consequences of this stupid, useless nature of it. There is no point in pondering how things could be different - the past can't be changed - though how you look it can be.

I'm lucky that I've finally learned the true stupidity of the belief , although the thought of telling somebody that I love them strikes me with fear, it doesn't stop me any more. I'm just very, very particular about when I use those words.

Still, I sort of wish I had a hero like Rainbow come and sort this out twenty years ago and put this one to right. It could have lead to a truly different world.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I'm enjoying this sense of calm.

In five days I'll be testing myself once again. It's all I ever seem to do - set myself challenges and see if I can do them. Thankfully, I appear to overcome most of the time.

For a change, I'm serene. I feel okay about this. I just have to keep telling myself that it's going to be okay. I've done it before I can do it again. I can't overthink this. It's just one morning of my life.

It's only 21.1 kilometres.

I will be rising early on Sunday. I'll be imbibing my normal triple ristretto and a vanilla protein shake - that's all I ever have on the morning of a race. My bum bag will be packed the night before. My spare, lightweight house keys, a couple of gels - one for the 8 km mark, one for the 16 km mark, one for after and a spare or two for any needy compatriots on the road. Also there will be my driver's licence, my credit card and twenty dollars which I jokingly refer to as cab fare. I normally run with twenty dollars tucked down my bra - just in case I get into trouble. To date, I've never used it.

Clothing wise - I now know which bra destroys my breasts leaving my poor,dear, girlie fun bags covered in chafe marks - I wont wear that one. Along with a crop top, my go-faster-red singlet I like to wear for races, 2XU compression tights, black toe socks, heart rate monitor, ASICS Kayanos and a white, stay dry hat. A spare bag might have a jumper in it to sit in the bagging area - then again, I might not. It will depend on the day. If it's not feeling too cold I'll leave it behind.

Other than my knee brace, I don't have any special accoutrements. The toenails will be cut short during the week. I left them long for my second race and lost a toenail. Don't want that to happen again.

So far, the day looks like it will be a good one to run in. 23 degrees celcius, fairly sunny, at 12 degrees overnight, so when we set off, it will be nice and cool - some of the marathoners will struggle if they're doing the race in anything over four hours though - I can see the last half hour being a bit rigorous - though thank heavens for daylight savings.

If Trin and Desi join me on the way in on the morning, I'll see them off on their 10 km run which starts half an hour before.

It's Desi's first fun run. She'll do brilliantly in the ten kilometre race.

I've lost count at how many I've done of these. I just know it's my fourth timed half marathon.

Anna from the gym might be running with me in the half - she normally runs a bit faster than me, but she has never gone the distance. I don't mind if I'm on my own. I like the challenge and I always meet people on the road - just like when I go on holidays.

I'm not setting out with a true race plan. My agenda is fairly simple. Run 21.1 kilometres. Don't hurt myself. Don't walk too much (I use the odd 50 metre walk as a way to regulate my heart rate - it's a nifty trick). Don't cry at the 18 kilometre mark when the pain really sets in - once you've passed the 19 kilometre mark you know you only have ten minutes left and it's all over. I normally cry around the 18 kilometre mark. Sprint the last hundred metres, as per the other races - because I can - because there is just enough in the tank to do that. Don't get dragged back by somebody else's too slow pace (this might hinder Anna if she runs with me - then again, might not) Drink at every water station. See what you can clock the 10 km at - if I'm there before 65 minutes - I'm cruising.

I don't want to put the pressure of a two hour fifteen half marathon on myself. I want to see what the day brings. All I know is that I'm running well at the moment. I went to spin class yesterday. First in over a year (that I've completed - I went in March, but my knee gave me jip so I left after the warm up). Finding that I could complete the class with ease felt good - going to try going a few times a week from now on to get the intervals at a better place. It will also mean ramping up the tension on th bike a bit. I forgot how much I love spin class, even if it breaks my bum for a day or so after - will just have to toughen up.

For all of the hype around running this half marathon, for the first time ever, I feel prepared. Mentally, I'm well set. Physically, I'm in great nick - slightly broken bum excepted and that will be right in a day or two. Emotionally, I'm not doing to badly either. I feel strong on the inside and out.

It's never been like this before.

So, bring it on.

I just wish I could sometimes tackle life with the grace of a long race.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Alone Time

Finally - I got some quality alone time.

Time for me to do absolutely nothing.

It seems to get me to stop being busy it takes a rather large hangover, a swanky hotel room and a rainy day.

I had plans of going for a run this morning, going around the Opera House, Mrs Macquarie's Seat and the Botanical Gardens round to Wooloomooloo.... but the copious amounts of alcohol imbibed the day before meant I was up half the night with the 'screaming dries', drinking my body weight in water between the hours of three and six.

Then looking outside, it was raining. Not conducive for running in a city I don't know that well.

Besides, the room was hot, the bed too soft, there was no fresh air... It was a lovely hotel room - but I would have been better off in my own bed, with a bit of fresh air coming in the open window.
Then again, I wouldn't have got my alone time if I was home.

Today reminded me that I'm so glad I don't drink to excess very often. Sometimes it gets done. Thankfully it's a very rare occurrence. I barely drink as it is - the odd bender will not hurt - it's just the next day that stings.

There were loose plans to meet a friend who'd emigrated in the last few weeks for brunch - but as she has moved house the day before, I never heard from her, not that I was upset by this. It would have been nice to see her - but I know what moving house is like. I'll catch her next time I'm up there.

So here I was. Feeling a little like a sump pit, with a day to myself. No chores to do - they're a thousand miles away in Melbourne, no exercise to be partaken of, no need to be anywhere until check out, no friends to visit - did that Friday night before I went to Sydney, going round to Blarney's for a cuppa and a chat.

I just had to get myself to the airport by two pm and the rest of the day was free. That was all that was on the agenda.

First port of call - a nice long bath. The room had this fantastic tub. I climbed in, book in hand, cup of coffee on the side for a long soak.


It got me thinking. There are three months left of this year. Time to set some real goals again.

This is what I came up with.

I want to have lost 20 kilos this year - I have put on a few over winter - so there's about seven to make my score. I can lose seven kilos in three months - I just need to focus. This started today. Watch this space.

I have a half marathon to run next weekend. I'd like to do it in as close to two hours and fifteen minutes as possible. I can't dwell on this too much - it will come down to the day. My best half marathon time is 2.32 - I'm running far better than I was then - it will be interesting to see how I go. One of the girls from the gym may be running with me.

My other running goal - I want to be able to say I can run ten kilometres in under an hour - I don't care if it's 59.59 - it's my goal. I've got the time to around 63 minutes at the moment if the City to Bay is anything to go by. It's something to train for and work towards.

Talking of work - another major goal is to keep myself employed. I'm feeling a bit better about things at the moment, but I'm putting it out there that I keep gainfully employed for the future.

At the start of the year I promised my friend Kath that I'd get two articles published before the end of the year. Better get cracking on that one too. Yes, this is down to luck and editor discretion, but I take pride in the fact that when I've submitted stuff to newspapers on the fly, the editors write back and say "no thanks." This is a good rejection. If you're crap you get no acknowledgement at all.

And I'd like to go on a date. Or two. I'm emotionally available for the first time in a few years, it's time. I'm not dwelling on this one either. It will happen. You can't plan these things - you just have to put it out there.

Seems my thinking time got put to good use.

After check out time, I left my suitcase with  the concierge and went for a walk. As there was no friend to meet, it was a case of look for things to do. Sydney's never been my favorite place, but given I had a few hours to kill, I went for a wander.

As luck would have it, being a Sunday morning, I thought of my cousins who live at the end of George Street. My cousin Joanie is married to Andy, the Rector of one of the Anglican Churches.

It was Sunday. They'd be around. But it would mean that I'd have to turn up to Church.

Finding the chapel, I entered, met with a haze of frankincense and what sounded like Latin being bounded about at the front (it was just a well pronounced High Anglican catechism) My stomach was growling under the weight of copious red wine from the day before - I had an empty coffee cup in my hand, purchased on the way there. This was going to be fun.

Maybe this was a bad idea.

Entering the church, I genuflected, crossed myself and took a seat in the back pew, hoping to hell the building didn't fall down around me - old, well ingrained habits die hard.

At least I missed sacrament. I can't go up for sacrament, though if my cousins knew I was in the congregation, it would be seen as a bit odd if I didn't go up for a blessing.

The family aren't all aware of my conversion to the dark side of spirituality. Never to mind. These two are good folk. Andy and I are normally found behind the woodshed at family reunions having a cigarette. Andy changed denominations when he became a priest so he could have a beer on Sundays. Andy's a great bloke.

The service was over in about ten minutes. I found Joanie, who was thrilled to see me, and we caught up. We worked out last time I saw her was at her father's funeral - three years ago. This visit was a bit overdue.

It was great to see them again. I got a tour of the old church - one of Sydney's oldest and grandest.

Then it was time to go.

I made my way back down George Street, stopping at Wagamama for a quick meal and I found another coffee.

A train ride, a plane trip, a bus ride and a quick run on a tram and I was home.

And for the first time in I don't know how long, I got a day all for myself.

I hope it doesn't take another trip to Sydney and an overnight stay in a swanky hotel to get another day to myself.

As for the hangover. A small glass of the hair of the dog is drained next to me. The rather charming Bleasdale Malbec went down like silk - one small glass only. The bottle was purchased in a drunken haze as a traveller. I love Langhorne Creek wines. Always have. I just don't remember buying it last night.

I might donate the rest of the open bottle to my charming next door neighbour with whom I share a bottle every now and then. I can't see myself having the time to drink the rest of it over the next week.

If anything, this weekend's made me question how I live my life.

Hopefully this is a good thing.