Saturday, March 31, 2012

Novel Beginnings

Ten days off is a luxury I don't get that often. Ten days to do as I please, relax, read, exercise, play, sleep - okay and feed cats and finish Greek writing job that is sending me loopy and see the odd movie.. but yeah, I have ten, possibly seventeen days off which to do as I want. ( It might be 17 days depends on the next job's paperwork - might be starting the week after if the paperwork is on the go slow - not to worry - the job is mine).

One of the things I really want to get cracking on, especially after the Greek job is finished, is this blasted novel I've been threatening for the last two decades.

See, I know I can write. I know I don't write too badly. And I know that I can do this, but I just have to focus this so called 'flaky' mind of mine, sit on my arse and do it.

Like any sort of writing, you have to ask the questions before you start. The whats, the wheres, the whos, the whys and the hows. This is what I'm tinkering with at the moment.

There is also the matter of style. The matter of voice. The matter of audience. The type of novel I want to write. This is where I come a bit unstuck - and I can't shut my bloody brain off, so I procrastinate, stagnate and put my notebook away.

What I do have, so far, is the what, where, when and how.

The what is the easy bit. The novel is based on my time being an illegal alien in London. I managed this for six years (was in the UK for a total of eight). I'm told that there is a worthy story here. So for the last few months I've been pondering my rather chequered history from 1991 to 1999. Not that it's that nefarious. Okay, I didn't have a visa - but I payed my taxes and national insurance. I didn't steal, kill or maim. I worked a professional job in an international company. I have an English name, a sort of English accent (call it a very tempered Australian accent - I'm often confused for a Pom - and think of myself as a confused Brit most of the time). This time period comes with a killer sound track too - which is helping. Some songs just take me back to weird and wondeful places. Robbie Williams, 4 Non Blondes, some of the better concerts I've seen. There's also a lot of stuff there which made life simpler. No mobile phones, no emails. There were letters and telephones - other ways of communicating information.

The where is easy too. Most of the time, action takes place in London. There will have to be some bits about how I got in and out of the country - so a jaunt or two to Ireland and a bit about Paris and beyond. Sorted. I used to know the area around NW6 and NW3 like the back of my hand - West Hampstead, Camden, Swiss Cottage, Hampstead - know it well - can conjure it up without too much problem. Easy.

When is also easy. 1991-1999. There might need to be a bit of back story - and this is being a bit problematic. But we'll get to that.

How is also covered. I know how I got to stay in a country I loved for so long under not quite kosher circumstances. No problems there.

It's the who and the why I'm trying to grips with.

Do I write this as an autobiography, or write a novel with using history as a loose base? The latter is the way to go - reckon. Writing about real people is hard - especially if I don't want to get myself sued. Writing about people as amalgams is easier - and less hassle. Looking back, I've got a string of people I can use as a basis for a fictional work. They will have to be changed completely. Other's not so much. I'm sure there's some value to be found in the old flat mates, the share houses, the trips around the country.

Looking at the anecdotes from eight years in England, there's a heap to choose from. In some ways, there's too much to look at - so I'm getting stuff into the notebook. Snippets of songs, photos from distance years, forgotten friends, blurry photos of mispent times.

The things that are troubling me the most. First up, the whys. Can I give you a straight up answer as to why I spent six years living as an illegal alien? Yes, and no. Until I can come to grips with this completely, I'm not sure how far I can go in writing this. I need a solid foundation as to why the main character did what she did - I need to give her motivation. I'm getting there, but it's not an easy question to answer. Until I fix this conundrum I don't think I'll be able to vouch for the authenticity of the novel.

Then there is the question of voice. Third person or first person. I'm naturally write better in the first person, though the third person gives and omniscient narrative which has it's value. Or maybe use a mix of the two.

So there's my dilemma. I want to write a novel. I know there's a novel in me (well more than the Mills and Boon novel I wrote in my lunchtimes at work fifteen years ago.) I know I can stretch myself to a more literary bent. I know I can be a little funny if I have to.

I also know I don't want to write something that's either too light, nor too "chick litty". I don't read chit lit. Why should I write it? I write well in fragments (probably something to do with the fact I have the attention span of a labrador puppy)

Anyhoos, this is what I think about when I'm running. And sitting on the tram. And allegedly working.
I should get on with this bloody Greek travel Google optimisation stuff so I can start devoting myself to this.

Comments and thoughts welcome.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Front Running

So much has happened this week.

So much has happened today.

Where to start.

Okay, first thing this morning I went for a run with Desi - the last before the run for the kids. I had my annual flu shot on Tuesday. The ensuing dead arm and slightly snotty nose made the thought of running a bit of a chore. Desi was in a similar mood and health state so we settled on a slow five kilometres along the river. About a kilometre in this is what we saw.

A good omen I thought.

This is my favourite time of the day in my favourite time of the year. I had to slow down and take a picture.

See, in this funny week, I've had a heap of opportunities thrown at me.

First up, running. This Sunday is the 14.38 km Run for the Kids. I haven't trained enough for the race, but I know I'm more than fit enough to complete the course and walk home after and not do myself any injury. Last week I ran with a couple of guys from work - we did the normal 8 km lap from work, round the Botanical Gardens and back in 56 minutes - doing intervals. So my strategy for Sunday - long intervals. Run five minutes, walk one or two - and do that all round the course. Should get me in in under an hour and forty minutes - well, that is the theory. I have a tarot reading in Daylesford the night before, so this is going to be a bit interesting. Long drive for two hours. Might go to the hot springs before the reading. You never know.

On the running, I've also challenged myself to the Great Ocean Road Half Marathon at the end of May. 23 kilometres along the Great Ocean Road. I've always wanted to do this run but injury and lack of accommodation have always been an issue in previous years. Then the other day Gloria asked if I'd like a blow up mattress with the people from Gaynor's running club.

Gaynor runs with Melbourne Front Runners, a gay and lesbian running club.
"Are you sure they'll have me?" I asked Gaynor.
"Of course they will. You can be our mascot." she replied.
"What, a slow, chubby, silly breeder for a mascot?"
"Why not? You're not that slow, chubby or silly and as a breeder you're not too bad."

I'm actually chuffed that G & G offered me the blow up mattress option in their rental in Apollo Bay for the night. I was thinking of asking a mate if I could borrow his camper for the night and stay at the caravan park. But that thing is a bitch to drive.

So as of this week, I'm back in half marathon training - it's actually a bit longer than a normal half marathon - 23 kilometres. I'm not going to put a time on this - not even looking to run the distance - long intervals all he way will be great - I just want to participate. I'm not at my best running weight, but my fitness and technique are a lot better than they were. Just to run this road will be wondeful. Reindert says it's one of the most picturesque marathons in the world.  Must get some hills in and soon (anybody up for a few laps of the 1000 steps over Easter?)

After the run, showering, changing and going to work, I prepared for coffee with somebody who was courting me for a job.

My current contract is up tomorrow. It's been great. Interesting work, great people, learned a lot, but the project is coming to an end and the writers will be dropping off over the next two months or so - and being the last one in, I'm the first one out. 

In the last few weeks I've been shoving my CV around. My current consultancy said they had something for me - but nothing concrete had been put in front of me. My old consultancy put me in front of a company for an interview on Tuesday. Never before have I felt so conflicted. One interviewer was great. The other gave me the impression that they would be a nightmare to work for. The interview went well, but I had this sinking feeling in my stomach that if I ended up in this company and working for the nightmare, I'd be miserable.

I've also spent the last fortnight playing phone tag with somebody I know from the old consultancy about a third job. After having to postpone this meeting we finally met up for a coffee.

Push comes to shove, she's headhunted me. She's been doing a bit of investigation - grilling some workmates about me (Allegedly I'm flaky but really good at what I do. Me, flaky! Hmph.)

We had a good conversation.

45 minutes later, I walked away with a six month contract in a top Australian company working on one of the largest projects about. On more money. Working with people I respect. On a job that will be a challenge.


I've never been headhunted before. It's a nice feeling, but rather daunting as well. My reputation is fine. It's the reputations of the people who recommended me  that I fret for. What if they don't like me? What if I can't play nicely with the other kids in the office? I just don't want to let people down.

The one comment that sticks out for me is, "Well, I need a project eccentric. You're it. Only have room for one nut bag. You're it."

I've been tripping over my botton lip for most of the day. Eccentric?! Moi?

On skipping back to the office, we had a leaving morning tea for me. There goes the low carb diet. Never to mind.

Had lunch with an old podmate from Tin Can, String and Whistle - he was blown away at how happy I was. We talked about all the things we normally talk about at lunch. Who's leaving Tin Can String and Whistle, his kids, his parent's divorce, the joys of siblings,  my running and fluid job prospects.

But today we talked about hope and opportunity most of all. The two things left in Pandora's Box after she opened it.

Really, I'm just happy that I don't have to fret about work. I feel strangely at peace.

So now I'm here, staring down ten days of freedom.

And all I have planned for the next ten days.

Lots of running
Lots of reading
Lots of writing - get a bit more of that novel underway
Finish the Greek Writing job that has been irritating me for the last few months
Clean the flat
I might go visit some friends
I have to spend some time with Glen Waverley's cat (and Kitt's cat is coming over Easter)
See a few films

Sounds pretty good to me.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Weddings have never been on the list of my favorite things.

There was a time that weddings were on the list with things such as huntsmen spiders, John Howard, meat pies, Essendon supporters, burpees and all the other things that fill me with dread and horror.

There was a time when you talk about a wedding and I'd start up with the Peter Cook line's from "The Princess Bride."

There was a time when the thought of attending a wedding gave me a migraine - quite literally. That was about the same time when I found out friends were pregnant I'd end up with a migraine too. News of weddings or babies sent me running for a darkened room and opiates.
Now, I like to think that I can approach going to a wedding with a certain amount of grace. Without angst. Without pain.

Last night, I had the honour of attending Georgie and Tom's nuptials. Georgie, a good friend from my book group, fellow IT worker and all around great woman. I only got to meet Tom for the first time when on holidays in Spain in Madrid. We kept meeting up on throughout our time in Spain, meeting for a meal  here, a drink there, some flamenco in other places. It was great to have them as a touchstone in a country I found forbidding at first, which I fell completely and utterly in love with by the end of my time there.

They're a wonderful couple.

The wedding was lovely.  As both are in IT, there was a bit of a nerd theme attached. The button holes and flowers resplendent with Star Wars lego figures, the cake was a chocolate mud R2-D2 unit with the struts made from rice bubble treats (read LCMs... it was fantastic).

The bride was radiant, stunning. The groom, esctatic - they both went confidently into their marriage - sure of everything, certain of the knowledge that they belong together, both happy and proud - though I'm half sure that Tom will live to regret promising to go to every teen novel inspired movie that comes out with Georgie (one of the Twilight series would send most men running a mile in the other direction.)

The day was chilly. Autumn has come to Melbourne with a bang, not a whimper. Standing in the vineyard waiting with a couple of girls from book group for the bride to arrive, half- frozen, pondering that morning and the preparations, it was like most other weddings I've been to.

First up, there's the official wardrobe failure attached to before the wedding. For the last fortight I've been wondering what I was going to turn up in. A cocktail event, I was having the normal womanly concerns about what to wear - because, being a woman, of course I never have anything to wear to such an event... (i.e. I want a new dress...). Scouring the shops for a dress that would 1) fit, 2) was affordable and 3) didn't make me look like a moose was depressing. Much harder than you think. After a fortnight of putting it off, it came to yesterday morning, I still hadn't bought anything, the red fringed flapper dress on the maybe list got rejected as too expensive for what it was, and I decided on an old dress I had in my wardrobe - half a size too big, but stylish enough. Shove on top a red wrap, some heels and makeup and all would be fine.

Racing home after lunch with Jonella on the Saturday, it was straight into full on girlie mode. Painting the fingernails, straightening the hair, applying the war paint... Things that only get done for special occasions - or job interviews.

Discovered a new modern day problem - Spanks (sucky-inny-stop-the-lumpy-bumpy-look-unsexy-underwear) and pantyhose don't work together, especially when you don't possess a discernable set of hips or a waist. The pantyhose just slip off your hips and down your legs tripping you up. Never before have I wished I possessed a suspender belt. I'll have to think about that purchase for next time I have a big occasion. I went barelegged in the end after trying to get three pairs to stay up.

Then there is the gathering of the accoutrements - the flat shoes for dancing, the heels, lipstick, powder, the wrap, the invite to let you know where you're going - in this case, the outer suburbs of Melbourne to a vineyard. After going around to Glen Waverley's to bribe the cat inside with some wet food, I was off to the Yarra Valley.

The first person I ran into at the venue was wearing the red flapper dress I nearly bought.

Good save.

Throughout the night I stuck mainly with the book group girls and their partners. The event was lovely. An abundance of food and drink was provided, the music was great, the conversation flowed. The reception place was hip but inviting, the open fires keeping the room warm, long enough for music to be played down one end of the hall and conversation to be had without problem at the other. In all - a lovely wedding, and a lovely wedding to attend.

Gone are the days of sit down formal weddings, stuck on a table with deaf great-uncle-Albert - or worse - on the single's table - the magic table up the back corner with all of the others who they can't find a spot to place. Gone are the days when you might be stuck with the kids - the ultimate ostracism. Weddings used to be a form of brinkmanship - and the unfortunate single friend was out there as sport. Well, that's what it felt like.

Gone are the days when you feel obliged to bring an "and friend". Thankfully now friends are kind enough to invite me on my own - the shame of not having somebody to take along is avoided.

In all my years, I've only deigned to take a handbag man to one wedding - my hand was forced. Lachlan's wedding. I couldn't turn up alone to that one. For the rest, I've been the inconvenient single. Until a few years ago, I really felt the aloneness of turning up to a wedding stag. For some reason, the, "So who are you with?" questions have stopped. Family weddings - the cousins don't ask who I'm with. I'm left to my own devices. It's a pleasant feeling.

Then there are the weddings you weren't at. I missed my sister's wedding - stuck in England, knowing that if I left the country I couldn't come back - and I wasn't ready to leave. I still get the odd snide comment about that. It was a matter of choosing my life first. I have no regrets. I've become much better at putting me first. It's only taken a couple of decades.

I was one of the last to leave the night - giving a few people a lift back to local hotels. Gone are the days where everybody waits for the bride and groom to leave. Gone are the days of the throwing of the bouquet (thank goodness, I've caught a couple of bride's bouquets - there goes that old wife's tale.) The speeches were short and heartfelt. Thank goodness. There was no tossing of the bride's garter, no other small humiliations that have been a part of weddings for centuries.

It made for a more comfortable night for me. Or maybe my views and thoughts have changed.

I snaffled a bit of wedding cake on the way out. As expected, it was placed under my pillow, in the hope of dreaming about my future husband. After a night of dreamless sleep, all that was left was some squashed almond icing and rice bubbles.

There used to be times when I'd come home from weddings and cry for days. Wailing over the so called failure of my life. Crying over the fact that this was never going to happen to me, morose over the fact I was going home to an empty flat and an empty bed.

Now, I prefer to celebrate people's happiness. Concentrate on that.
I look at to my reaction to weddings now and feel I have learned to respond to these occasions with a sense of grace.

Do I bemoan the fact I'm alone? That this mythical wedding thing will never happen to me? Do I continually ask the universe when it's going to be my turn?

 There are moments. There are times I think about this. But it's not constant and all consuming any more.

At this point in time I'm just thankful I have friends I with whom I can celebrate their happiness.

The rest will follow.

p.s.  I don't scrub up too bad. Can somebody please tell my mother.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Return of Gertie the Grumpy Gobshite

Today got off to a not so great start.

I didn't get that much sleep last night - spent the night what I call 'running hot'. It was hard to get comfortable. I tossed and turned until well after one, the hissing of the leaking loo compounding matters. Only after an hour of trying to settle myself did I reach for the lavender oil, dab some on my temples and the next thing I knew the alarm was sounding 6.15 a.m.and me wanting a few more hours of down time.

First job, check emails on the iPhone. Among the spam from potential Russian brides and the odd mail from the cheap deal people, sat a lonely mail from Lachlan. "

Dear Pandora, I can come out for April. Name the date and I will book. LOLL xx."
(Last bit means Lots of Love, Lachlan - he doesn't appear to be up on webspeak)

First thought that went through my mind was "Pig's Arse!"

Second thought was to quickly text back and say - "Any time after Easter fine. Avoid May as I have a heap on. By the way, you never call me Pandora. Panda" and then forget that the mail came.

Third thought was to forget mail ever came.

The deal with Lachlan. He has been threatening to come out to Australia from England for twelve years. I think he wrote that mail when drunk. File under waste of time. And forget about it.

After showering, dressing and throwing a cup of coffee down my throat, it was time to go over to Glen Waverley's place to let Betty out.

Glen Waverley and Merijn have gone back to the Netherlands for her brother's wedding for a few weeks, leaving me in charge of their very sweet, but rather noisy cat, Betty. Her real name is Beetje, but I can say that properly, so I call her Betty to piss her off. I go round in the morning and open her cat door, then go around in the evening and let her in again, making sure she has food and water. Nice cat sitter, eh? She's too noisy to stay at my place. Thankfully Glen Waverley lives five minutes away in the same suburb.

This morning I fronted up. Called her. Nothing. I normally get a meow from where ever she is. Called again. Nothing. Opened the cat flat. That normally gets her going. Nothing.

I went upstairs. Just had to make sure the critter was okay. I found her under the bed.

She growled at me. The look on her face was one of "You utter, utter bitch. You woke me up, you cow."

Bugger the ungrateful little sod. I told her just than, went downstairs, picked up the wet food bowl from last night (ah, wet food - give her wet food and she's your best friend) to which she came traipsing down the stairs, yelling at me. After raising her tail in disdain she hopped out the cat flap.

Pernickety little bitch.

I went round tonight and got her in for the evening. She yelled at me again. Ungrateful bitch.

And yes, I know it's only a bloody cat. And yes, I know I'm spoiling her - but she's on her own for three weeks with Glen Waverley's Porsche for company - the least I can do is go and watch telly with her for an hour every now and then (or have a bath and read my book while she stands at the bathroom door and yells at me).


Next joy. Go home, enjoy the luxury of being able to have time to cook my own breakfast midweek and wait for the plumber. The woman on the phone said I was first cab off the ranks for the day with an 8 a.m. appointment. At 8.20 a.m, breakfast dishes clean, dried and put away - no plumber. I call the lady back. After five minutes of listening to fogey radio over the phone I'm told he's ten minutes away.

At 8.45 a.m., surly plumber arrives. "Sorry, mixed up first and second jobs." he tells me, not meeting my eye,.

Pig's arse.

Ten minutes later, the loo is allegedly not hissing any more. The plumber dude looks at my oven gas lighters, of which only one is operational.

I call the plumber dude back telling him that loo is still hissing ten minutes after flushing. Not really good enough, he replaces some other washer dohicky hoosamaflick. Toilet stops hissing, but plumber gets more surly.

Plumber stomps off ten minutes later saying that a colleague will come look at the stove at a later date. Something to do with the electrics. No shit, Sherlock. Didn't need a plumber to tell me that.

By now it's half nine. Work are aware I'm going to be a bit late in. I make my way to the tram stop and wait a few minutes. The tram appears, I alight and take a standing spot.

Three stops later, a little Japanese grandmother type complete with granny shopper cart gets in the tram. She's eighty if she's a day. Her prominent widows hump leave her height of  not much more than four foot.

I wish there was a law that made grannies sit on trams. There is no such thing as common decency on trams any more. The school kids didn't bother moving. I offered her my bit of wall, but she said no.

Then the tram lurched, granny went flying and landed on me.

I tell you something. Four foot worth of Japanese granny is heavier than you think! We managed to get her to her feet and she clung to the pole for dear life for the rest of her trip.

Then into work. I've got six days left on this contract - and six days to finish off the work I've been given. I'm loving the team and the work - just a pity that the project is closing down. As there is a heap to do, I'm not taking lunch and it's all work.

Spent the rest of the morning battling with the publishing program (Adobe Captivate - or Captihate as it's known in our office)  they're having us work on. Had to re do a simulation because my SME (read subject matter expert - or nerd who knows what he's doing) managed to stuff up the recording of the slide pack. There was a lot of banging of the desk and calling the computer a stupid piece of plastic crap.

Dave asked me what was wrong.

Dave, bless him, is the bestest pod mate.

Here is a picture of Dave.

Oh, this is only Dave on Friday when he rides his bike in. Dead sexy, eh.
I told him of my morning.
"Is that all?'
"Oh, are you sure. Your mood in enough to blacken the sun."
"There is a reason for it all, Dave."
"Really? Mercury in retrograde? Venus aligning with the wrong planet?'

I had to tell him. Dave is in his early sixties. I can just get away with being horrid.

"It's called being a girl, Dave."

He looked at me, smiled, nodded his head, then laughed. "Better not say the words,"yes, dear," then, should I."
"Wise move, Dave."

The boys at Tin Can, String and Whistle were great for this one. Drives you up the wall.

"You know, there is only one antidote." said Dave.
"Really. I've found that the only thing that gets rid of the pre-period rages is sex, and I haven't seen a naked man since God was a boy. And sorry Dave, lovely as you are, you're not my type and I'm sure your wife wouldn't like it."

Dave nodded and smiled.

"Laughter can help." he offered bravely.
"You reckon?"
"Pig's arse." thought I.
"It will get you out of your Gertie the Grumpy Gobshite mood."
"So, what's going to get me out of this mood?"
"I'll have a think." he said.

Early in the afternoon, he handed me a key drive. "Listen to the file marked, "Don'ts".

I did.

My shrieks of laughter reverberated around the 14th floor.

That, and a session with Pinochet seem to have made things a little better.

And now, I give you Dave Shrigley's, "Don'ts"

Strange how something so silly can make everything better.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Scottish Meme

This was pinched from the king of the memes, Sunday Stealing after I realised that I was halfway through a meme that I'd already done that was possibly stolen off me or the Plastic Mancunian at some stage. Sunday Stealing's meme questions are sometimes great. Sometimes they're just plain naff - an as I'm in the middle of planning and structuring a novel, memes are about all I have time or inclination for.

Anyways. Here goes nothing.

1. Where are you from and where do you live now?

I'm originally from Adelaide, South Australia. I'm not from Myponga, South Australia as people think - only moved there when I was eight.

Now, I live in inner city Melbourne.

2. Favorite childhood story/book/film?

Favorite childhood story - Cinderella. Gotta love a happy ending. Favorite book - I don't think I had one - I've been an avid reader from a young age and loved Golden Books - especially anything with Disney characters. Favorite film as a kid - The Sound of Music. I can still sing most of the songs by rote.

3. If you could change gender for a day what would you do?

That is a bit of a loaded question. Honestly. If I had a penis for the day? You mean other than play with myself all day (that's what men sometimes do, don't they?)  Pee standing up without getting my feet wet. I think I'd love to see what it's like to have sex as a bloke. That would be cool. And wear trousers - I just what to see where everything goes - that's always been a mystery to me how everything fits in there...

You can tell I don't have brothers.

4. Do you feel you family is complete or would you like more/some children?

Terribly loaded question. I don't have kids. I've never had a partner. Would I like a child/children? Yes. But not without being in a loving, committed relationship? Do I feel the loss of not having children. Not really. I see what my friends go through a lot of the time and I count my blessings that it's never happened to me - then again. I'm grateful for the opportunities being childless has given me? Will I miss it on the future? I don't know. I do know that though I'm good with kids I don't know I'd be a good mother. I'm far too messed up to do a good job.

5. What do you do/Where do you work and do you enjoy it?

My day job for the next two weeks is at Bastard Bank - I'm on a project working as an instructional designer/tech writer. Starting the joyous job hunt tomorrow. Joy. I'm getting used to this onwards and upwards to the next adventure lark. As long as the people are nice and the work interesting, I'm fine.

By night/weekend, I write, massage, do reflexology, read tarot and look after other people's cats.

6. Which three words do you think sum you up?

Hard one. Three years ago those words would have been fat, ugly and stupid.

Now, I prefer to sum myself up as kind, loyal and tenacious. I don't like being labelled, but they're good words.

7. If you were a fairy what magical powers would you possess?

My magical fairy ability would be to turn back time. Not that I have any regrets, but it could come in handy to repeat tests and get another chance at things.

8. If you were invisible, where would you go and what would you do? Why?

If I was invisible I'd be using that ability regularly to sneak into the theatre and cinema all over the place. Theatre tickets over here are extortionate and I reckon I could get to see everything I'd love to see - including opera, but sneaking in unseen. Well, that sounds like a good plan to me...

9. What song can’t you listen to without crying?

There are quite a few songs that make me tear up, but this one gets me every time - time and time again.

I give you the vocal stylings of Ms Etta James.

10. Which book changed your life – or at least made you think a lot?

There have been many books that I have influenced my life, but only one that changed the course of it.

"Captain Corelli's Mandolin" was the book that took me to Greece. Robertson Davies "Cornish Trilogy" got me back into literature. Jane Green's "Straight Talking" was my life 15 years ago - I even had the "Adam" character in my life (pity that's the best thing she's ever written.)

But the book that changed my life is Dr Spencer Johnson's "Who Moved My Cheese." I read this in Fitzroy Gardens on the day I found out about a colleague taking his own life. The book spurned me on to leave my job, move to Greece, change my career and stop being so scared. It's had a huge impact and I can never be more grateful for reading a book. I'd hate to think where I would be if I didn't stumble across it.

11. Why do you blog?

Many reasons. I'm mainly a frustrated writer. It's at times a great emotional release, especially when I feel like there's nobody there - which I do feel regularly. I get to flex my satirical pen occasionally. It's a good training ground. And I love the friendships I'm starting to develop in the blogosphere.

But mainly I'm a frustrated writer and this give me a place to write - in a safe, solid environment.

12. What is your top ‘me-time’ tip?

Book the time in and make sure you take it. I don't get enough me-time at times - especially during the week I appear to be over-committed. Also, get your chores out the way before embarking on me-time - or all your time will be spent scrubbing floors and ironing - sod that - says she who's ironing a shirt and doing a question of this meme.

13. What can’t you live without?

In no order of importance: friends, books, ice cream, my health and fitness, running, the gym, cat time, animals, sunshine, the promise of travel, at least five hours sleep a night, my independence, my iPhone.

14. Which of all your blog posts are you most proud of and why?

I have a few that I'm rather fond of. I like some of my funny ones - like the one about "Would you do Shane Warne?" and the one about my dodgy taste in men, which is pretty legendary. Some of my travel posts and running posts are good.

But there are two blog posts that stick out. A letter written to my eighteen-year-old self and the post written after running a full 21.1 kilometre half marathon for the first time.

Have a look, see what you think:

15. Have you ever met a famous person? Who and where?

I've run into many famous people in my life, but met? Hmmm. Does standing behind Emma Thompson and Geoffrey Rush in a supermarket queue count? Or nearly tripping over Bill Hunter outside work one day (God bless him)? Or passing Andrew Bolt in the street (not fast enough to trip him?)

Ah - that's it. I bummed a cigarette off Jeremy Clarkson in a restaurant many years ago - it was that long ago when you could smoke in restaurants. And he was still a pillock. And I emptied Sir Cliff Richard's bin on a work hazing day about twenty years ago (worked in an employment agency that ran industrial temps - we had to work as a bin man (dustman) for a day to get a grip on what people did for a living... But that doesn't count because I didn't meet him - I just emptied his wheelie bin.

16. When did you last have a full nights sleep?

Last night. I normally sleep pretty well.

17. What would you think is harder: Going to work or staying at home with children?

Hands down, staying home with children. I don't have the foggiest what you'd do with them all day. They're exhausting. At least at work, you can get away now and then if required.

18. What are you doing for Easter?

Hiding and getting some me time. I also have two cats to look after. Kitt's Burmese, Kusha, is coming to stay and I have custody of Betty, Glen Waverley and Merijn's cat, Betty. Have also been told that the latter has a smelly, pus-filled bottom and that a trip to the vet might be in order. Joy! That thing will take me arm off getting her in the cat cage!

19. What is your favorite drink?

Fresh brewed, espresso coffee. Very fond of beer in most of its forms too. And for any time imbibing - nothing goes past cool, filtered water.

20. Do you play any sports?

Nope, but I run, cycle, swim and go to the gym regularly. Does that count?

21. What is your most embarrassing moment?

I make a tit of myself regularly, but my standout moment was many years ago when I was filing at work and had to kneel down and my dress split at the seams. It was horrifying. Will never forget how awful that felt. What made it worse was the guys that I worked with didn't tell me for a few hours. Shite really.

22. How clever are you?

I'd consider myself fairly clever. I'm no brainiac, but I'm not stupid. And I'm "pretty good with words" smart.

23. Name a new favorite TV show?

I've been enjoying "Homeland" over the last few weeks - very well done - though Damian Lewis - like how can a ginger be sexy? He seems to pull it off - though I'll never get him out of my head as being Soames the Bastard from the Foryste Saga.

24. Any guilty pleasures?

Yes. Other than ice cream? I watch the Biggest Loser religiously - don't hold it against me - I love crap telly - I like good telly too and I miss England mostly because the television is so much better than here - but I'm fond of shows like RPA, Embarrassing Bodies etc. I love Pixar films. Nothing makes me happier than playing fetch with a dog or giving the Maow Maow a cuddle.

There are a few more, but I've outed myself enough for one blog post.

25. If you could have chosen your own name, what would it be?

I have a real name - and I write under Pandora Behr (come on, you didn't think my real name was Pandora T. Behr? Really?!)

I've got another pen name lined up - Kabbalistically charged and ready to go, though I told a few friends and they couldn't see the point. Thing is, I don't like my real name that much - more my surname than my Christian name - too many bad association.

So if you see a book by Trelawny Tom in the future, it's me.

In real life, I reckon I'd made a good Samantha or Alexandra - they're the names I would have liked to be called as a kid. - But I'm find with Pandora and my 'real' Christian name too.

26. Who do you most admire in life, and why?

I have a lot of people I admire for many reasons. Big people. Little people.

But my hat goes off to my cousin who runs a hospice in Canberra. Selfless work, caring for the dying day in and out. She's utterly remarkable and she does a job I could never do. She's very much an unsung hero.  
 27. What is your most treasured possession?

I'm not really into things, but I'm very fond of my car and the Pandora bracelet that received for my 40th birthday, which is filled with charms given to me by my friends.

My bed and my dog-earred copy of "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" is up there in close second.

28. Tell your favorite funny joke…

How do you titillate an ocelot?

You oscillate its tit alot.

Not funny? Never to mind. I only know bad jokes.

29. What is your biggest fear in life?

I have lots of minor fears, but the one that stands out is the thought of dying a slow, painful death. I really hope when it happens it's all over quickly.

30. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? What does it remind you of?

I have many favorite ice creams - ice cream being the sixth food group and all, why single it out to one.

Of my favorite, the one I wish I could get my hands on is Sorbayz White Chocolate ice cream - which was just too divine for words. Big chunks of white chocolate - my favourite.

If I'm at an Indian restaurant I'll try and have a scoop of coconut ice cream for dessert. Love the stuff. If in an Asian restaurant, then I'll go the Green Tea or Black Sesame ice cream - cos they're decadent and interesting.

My favorite new flavour - found a few weeks ago - White chocolate and wasabi ice cream. Found this flavour in an ice creamery on Bourke Street - bloody marvellous stuff - and the wasabi isn't overpowering.

My supermarket standbys are as follows:

Ben and Jerry's Choc Chip Cookie Dough. This reminds me of when I used to go and sleep on a friend's floor in London to escape my share house in the last few months I was there. Snuggled up under his Snap, Crackle and Pop duvet cover, we'd share a tub of this and watch whatever was on the said Friday night. It was a nice respite from the chaos of having a bed in a basement hallway.

Here, my go to ice cream - Maggie Beer's Burnt Fig, Honey Comb and Caramel ice cream. This stuff is pure ambrosia - great for when you need to sook with a tub of the stuff.

The back up, if this isn't available - the Connoisseur range, Cookies and Cream.

But this is all moot, because I let myself have a scoop or two a week - it's just no good for my figure - and too much sugar gives me the sads.

Well there you go, another dull Saturday night at home alone, another meme done - along with the ironing, hoovering, more of my Greek travel article job...

Have a good one.


p.s. The word verification thingy has been taken off. Annoying, innit.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Snippets from February

So, over February I was busy posting photos and I didn't get to reflect on what was going on around the place. It was a great exercise, but I look back at February and think, "Wow, did that all happen?"

So here are a few snippets from February.

Discovery of the month: Elastic shoelaces.

The triathlon was a few days ago. Of the elastic laces, Jonella was always at me to tuck away my shoe laces when I'm on the bike - she reminded me about that mercilessly. Ultimately, when riding, just like when running, they'd come loose and I get scared that they're going to get caught up in the chain - so I shoved elastic laces in my runners. No laces coming loose. No shoelaces - just toggles. Wish I'd discovered them years ago.

Faux Pas of the Month:

Glen Waverley's Porsche has arrived in the country and he's finally got it in his custody after a few weeks of having it go through the rigmarole of checks, balances, undeadening the battery, registering it etc. Every time we spoke he would tell me of the ensuing dramas. It appears it's easier to adopt a child than bring in a classic car into the country.

Anyway, late in February one Saturday morning, around 8 a.m. the phone rings. It's Glen Waverley. Would I like to go for a quick ride in his Porsche. I said that a lap of the block would be lovely, but it was my mediation morning and he's have to be quick. He said he was sitting outside in the car.

Being eight in the morning, not-showered, bed-haired, freshly roused from slumber and barely dressed, I had a choice. Send him away or shove on a dressing gown and go. I chose the latter. So I sneaked outside, found him, got into the 1973 yellow Porsche 911 and Glen Waverley took me for a ride around Richmond.

Thing is, my summer dressing gown is a shorty kimono arrangement. I managed to shove on some knickers and thongs in the process, but Glen Waverley just laughed at the sight of me. He's seen me in my dressing gown before - he and Merijn are the people who bring supplies when I get ill - Glen Waverley is like my brother, but seeing this on the street, on a lovely sunny Summer morning. Not a good look.

Ten minutes later, he dropped me off. I joke that it looks like he's dropping off his trollop for the night with me looking so delightfully disheveled. I also joked that I was glad that it was so early that the neighbours wouldn't witness what would look like my apparent downfall.

Glen Waverley let me out of the car (no internal handles on the passenger side you see.) I gave him a peck on the cheek, thanked him for a ride in his jalopy and skipped down the driveway, giggling.

Only to be met at the door by my downstairs neighbour Mel.
Glen Waverley gave me a toot and roared off. For a muscle car, old Porsches have very girlie horns.

"My, my, you've gone up in the world! Where have you been? You look like you've been up to no good at all. Getting dropped off in a classic car. Well done, you! Onya!"

If only she knew...

Exhibition of the Month: Harry Potter at the Powerhouse

I spent a weekend up in Sydney recharging the batteries and visiting friends. Having the Sunday morning free, I took myself off to the Harry Potter Exhibition at the Powerhouse. Being a Potterhead it had to be done. The exhibition isn't coming to Melbourne and knowing that I wouldn't be meeting my old friend until lunch time it gave me something to do in the morning.

Loved the whole thing - okay, except for the fact that the exhibition was filled with kids. It was really well done. Seeing the props and costumes from the movies was great - though I am a purist - I do prefer the books. If you're in Sydney in the next few weeks and enjoy Harry Potter, I highly recommend it.

Catching up with my old friend afterwards was the highlight of the trip. She's a very special person and it was great to finally meet her son. The last time I saw him he was 'in utero'. Will have to go up there again soon.

Book of the Month:

Anna Funder's "All That I Am".

Stunning read - the beauty of her prose had me gasping almost ever page. Phenomenal writer giving presenting an important story. A must read in my opinion.

Film of the Month:

My Week with Marilyn.

Also superlative - Michelle Williams deserved the Oscar nomination - and I'm a little sad she didn't get the gong. Had some of my favorite British actors in it - including Kenneth Brannagh (be still my beating loins - he can plant his boots under my bed any time he wants) and Judi Dench. Well worth it. Also gave me a "hit of home" as I like to call it. Films like this make me miss England even more.

Workmate of the Month.

I've been working as a tech writer / training materials designer back at Bastard Bank for the last few weeks. It's a shame that the contract is nearly over as the work is interesting and the people are great.

The big shame of leaving here in a fortnight's time, other than I have to go job hunting again, is that I have to leave my lovely pod mate behind.

I'm sitting next to Dave. Dave is in his early sixties - he's been tech writing for twenty years. Rides his bike into work on Fridays with his trousers tucked into his socks. Up until recently he lived in England, where he resided to get away from John Howard and his cronies - disgusted with the whole political scene. We talk film and books. I'm going to miss him - he's been one of my favorite pod mates of the last ten years. Actually, the whole team are great. This has been a great gig. Hopefully something just as good, if not better, will be around the corner.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I'm an Overacheiver - Just Shoot Me

This was titled "The fallout from Dream Group" but I need to have a good rant. So here goes.

I often wonder why I subject myself to the torment of dream group. I know it's good for me, but like a spoonful of cod liver oil, going to the dentist, not picking you pimples and orthotics, it's allegedly good for me, though the pain it can cause sometimes appears to outweigh the benefits. Sometimes it takes a bit to work out what it is that I need to look at and try and fix. Or if not fix, just be aware of.

It was my turn to give a dream last week. On the scale of dreams, it certainly wasn't a bad one. I was in a resort, I was in luxury accommodation, though I though I should be in the mid-range accommodation. I'd come here to go to the funeral of an old college friend, a guy I'm still in contact with - the quintessential nerd made good - he's somebody I greatly admire - a great bloke. I went to the place where the funeral was being held, saw it was a small place, saw the family there and thought the better about hanging around there - though it was a lovely, light-filled space it was too small for the people I was expecting to be at the funeral. Traveling down the hill I met up with a heap of my college compatriots, who all nodded in acknowledgement. We went on to the funeral. I looked around the crowd for this guys old girlfriend, thinking she might be there, but knowing her pride would not let her attend. The group of us went up the hill to say goodbye to our old friend, but I wondered if any of them really knew him, especially after he transformed.

So what does this mean for me? A bit of me, a bit of my animus has died away. The dorky, fledgeling, unseen, unheard post-pubescent boy in my psyche has come good and died off. And what will replace him? I dunno. And this is the thing that is scaring the hell out of me. 

The talk on the night centered around a lot of things. A lot about me being an over-achieving cow who's mega-competitive. A person who lets my pride get in the way of life in general. Somebody who has never really got over the fact that I saw myself as the ugly, fat, stupid silent for most of my life. the persnickety perfectionist who can't be loveable, because who would love a person like this - overlooked, unacknowledged, under loved, stupid and useless.

So all of this crap has been running around my head for the last few days. And it is crap. But I finally feel like I'm getting to the bottom of it all.

The thing is, I know that this isn't me at all. I'll admit to being an over-achiever - but it's ingrained in me like brushing my teeth twice a day.  

I'm competitive with myself, I don't demand people compete with me - I like to do my best, but I don't need to be the best. I enjoy running in timed runs - but what I like more is the training behind going on these runs - the loping around the Tan on a sunny morning going at my own pace - love it.  (I'm getting increasingly snarkier at people who voice criticisms to my exercise routines. Why should I stop doing something that I enjoy, makes me feel good, keeps me healthy, stops me from getting depressed, keeps me eating well.... Like stuff you all and give it a try - you might find you feel better for it too.)

Anyway. Deep breath. It's been a week of reflecting on all of these sorts of things. Hard things to deal with. A lot of me wants to turn my head off. The other part knows that once this is processed I can get on with things.

So knowing that this awkward, per-pubescent fool has died off how am I meant to see myself when it comes to some bigger life issues. The stuff that got broken over twenty five years ago isn't there.

This old stuff isn't hurting me any more.

Case in point, I visited my parents over the long weekend. They're staying up in a bed and breakfast in the Yarra Valley for the week with my 'Uncle' - a family friend who has been like a father to me for most of my life. My uncle's daughter, Tori,  and her fiance came to visit too - and we all had a lovely lunch.

A lot of the conversation was around Tori's pending wedding. She's had a very hard year. She lost her mother in May and she's just getting over breast cancer. Wouldn't wish that on anybody. Tori is two years younger than me and it's her first wedding. Her fiance is nice enough - a bit of a tosser in my view, but she appears very happy, so good on her. We got to talking about the dresses, the reception, the honeymoon etc, etc. All I could do is not politely and put in the odd salient point and "Oh, that's lovely" type interjection. That and I said I'd look after her cat when they were on their honeymoon.

My mother was sitting next to me, and I got the odd wistful look from her. Have I yet again been a disappointment for not marrying or breeding? The way I see it, up until a few years ago I'd be too damaged, too broken to do either life changing event. I'd only f*ck up a child - and I'm yet to meet anybody I'd want to share my life with - nor has anybody found the same in me. Too broken for either to come near me.

I don't ever remember talking about marriage with my mother. The last time I brought a boyfriend home to meet my parents I was sixteen. The only thing my mother has said to me about children was, "Don't get pregnant." I think I was in uni at the time.

So now, what am I thinking about all this? Am I wringing my hands forlornly bemoaning the non-existence of Mr Right? Acknowledging the non-existent children and feeling sorrow.

Nope. I feel nothing. It's okay. I'm where I'm supposed to be at the moment. Do I want to meet somebody special. Yes. Do I want kids. If that somebody special was willing to raise them with me, then fine, but I'm not doing that on my own. No way. I've always said this and I'm okay with my reproductive ambivalence.

Marriage and kids have ever even featured in my life. Just like home ownership has only just started to plague my mind. Never even considered this sort of thing until a few years ago - and the though still freaks me out as much as huntsman spiders and red belly black snakes. Why? I have no concept of what a happy family looks like. Why would I want to buy a home?

Crap, eh...

So with this roaming round in my head, we come to the second of the charges laid against me at dream group.

Competitive A-type bitch. Not their words, but I'm playing this up. I'm on a rant, and rant I will.

I've been in competition since I was a young kid. Being the 'ugly' sister to a pretty blond, perky sister, apple of my parent's eyes, competing for attention became ingrained. My folks fawning over my sister's average grades while my straight A's got a , "That's nice, dear," was just the tip of the iceberg. I never felt good enough as a kid and a young adult. So this competitive thing drove me on. I soon realised I could never be the best, but I could do my best - and my best is what I tend to do, regardless of what I'm doing.

These days, I cut myself a lot more slack. Okay, I have a bit of a type A job - I'm a consultant by day - but I look on this as survival mode. Nobody is around to look after me. Nobody is there to pay my way - been doing that since I was fifteen or so. If things fall to crap, I only have myself to blame, myself to look after and myself to pick me up and dust me off. There is no emotional safety net. Lived like that for the last 25 years too. It's how I've done things.
So part of this person has been killed off. Again, I wonder what's going to replace him. Maybe this insular, fiercely independent person will soften. Maybe.

And as for the fat, ugly, stupid person I believed myself to be. Nup. That belief has gone out the window.

I remember when every thing that was ever said to me felt like a harpoon to the heart.

Case in point, the "Hunt a Grunt" story. It still haunts me - not as a bad experience, but how badly low-self esteem and confidence and destroy you.

A boyfriend of mine told me about this game him and his friends used to play at clubs. They would have a competition to see who could chat up the most unattractive girl.

"You mean girls who look like me?" In shot back at him.
"Of course not. You're not even in the grunt league."

But I KNEW I was. I was that ugly, that unworthy, smelly, stupid, ugly.... I knew that I wasn't in this guy's league of attractive women seen as sport for the laughs of his mates. Cried for days over this. I slowly closed myself from the guy too. Knowing I was 'unworthy', we broke up soon after. He was too good for me - well, that's what my broken self thought some twenty odd years ago.

All crap and nonsense really.

Looking back now, I can see that the Hunt a Grunt game, as awful and insensitive as it is, was a post-pubescent boy doing what some post-pubescent boys do best - that being complete insensitive imbeciles who will grow up one day hopefully, into decent men - most of them do - some don't.. My reaction to the whole thing - a legacy of that awful pride and hurt that kept me upright for all those years. If I was to meet "Hunt a Grunt" guy now I reckon he'd be okay - probably highly embarrassed by the behaviour of his twenty-year-old self.

And my over-reaction to all this - quite natural for somebody who at the time was so broken.

So where does this leave me now - a week after dream group.

Well for one, I know that I feel purged for the flaying. All the navel gazing introspection over the last week has made me feel somewhat better about things. I know I've grown and changed. I know that I am worthy. I know that I'm not who I was twenty years ago - far more secure, far more confident, happy to be acknowledged for who I am as well as what I do.

Will I remain an over achiever. Probably - I'm a Leo - that's what Leos do (though I do wish somebody would latch on to the fact that Leos also love having their necks stroked and that lying in a sunny spot is the best thing ever! ONe day somebody will provide me with an appropriate sunny spot.)

Will I remain competitive with myself - probably - but I know I'm a lot gentler on myself - and there is room to fail and room to try again.

Will I remain proud. Of course - but I can laugh at myself - and I do this often.

There is still the fear about what the new animus will be like. I've managed to kill off so much of the old me.

What the new will bring can be seen as exciting - and this is what I have to focus on from now on.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Random Lyric Long Weekend - Part Trois

It's another long weekend - which means another weekend of random lyrics getting posted to my facebook page, confusing, confounding and annoying my facebook friends.

As is the tradition, the weekend's worth of random lyrics get written up here, giving a bit of history of the lyrics. It also sorts out the odd argument and proves just how thoroughly dodgy my taste in music really is.

So here we go. Another random public holiday. Another weekend of random lyrics.

Saturday 10 March, 15.04.

Tin Roof... Rusted.

The B52s. Love Shack.

I have to hand it to Glee. It's only taken me 25 years to find out what Fred Schneider was wailing about in this song. Then you get a Glee cover and it all comes into line. Wow! I had the same thing happen when I heard a cover version of Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights" where the normally unintelligible James Reyne made the song understandable.

The B52s are one of my favorite bands from my mispent youth. The voice of the beehive - great to dance too though other than inspiring a Gus van Sant movie don't have that much substance. Still, I challenge anybody not to get up and have a drunken dance when the Rock Lobster come on at a wedding.

March 10, 15.52.

Candle Shadow in the flame, of the moments that we try to start again.

Icehouse, Dusty Pages

1984. A year of first love. The year I got my driver's licence. That first date - where first love took us into Adelaide to see the first Police Academy movie (I'm feeling really old now)

I will always love this song. Icehouse were fantastic. Iva Davies, classically trained musician and incredible talent - Icehouse were always due for big things and this is them at their very, very best.

March 10, 22.18 pm

Does his makeup in his room, douse himself in cheap perfume.

Placebo - Nancy Boy

Major ear worm song - this one can get stuck in my head for days. A London song - this song dates to 2007 - a year I went into a complete tail spin. I was in a job I hated. There were clubs. There were the odd occasions when recreational pharmaceuticals were used. My father died. One other life changing event happened. There were the inappropriate men at inappropriate times.

Placebo puts me here.

And I still argue with friends that the Pixies version of "Where is my Mind?" is far, far better than the Placebo version of the song - though as a cover isn't too bad (Nirvana do a better job of it but).

Nancy Boy - however - still gets stuck in my head for days on end.

Sunday 11 March, 7.11.

Let me be your Lighthouse Keeper

Protect you from the angry seas
In the storm in times of trouble
When there's no visibility

My Friend the Chocolate Cake: Lighthouse Keeper

Ever noticed how there are so many songs about on the topic of lighthouses and lighthouse keepers?

Personally, I don't think it would be a bad job. Walk up the stairs at night. Turn the light on.Walk down the stairs. Repeat in the morning but turn the light instead. Check the lamps occasionally. Wash a few windows. Lots of time for reading. Cool job.

This is another lighthouse song. The song comes to you from my friend who gave me a "My Friend the Chocolate Cake" album for my birthday. The band were big around Melbourne in the 90s when I was safely ensconsed over in London. They played all around with their folky, boppy, collaborative music. They've also written background music for a lot of high profile advertisments over the last few decades. I missed the band but I'm fond of the album.

Sunday, March 11, 11.36 am.

Stop, collaborate and listen...

Vanilla Ice, Ice Ice Baby.

You're at the zoo watching the seals. What other song is going to come into your brain?

Extra dorky, it's up there with "You can't touch this" and "Funky Cold Medina" and anything by Milli Vanilli in the dork files. Most people of my age can sing along to this with a daft grin on their face, proud of the fact that they learned the words to this when they were in high school.

What song do I know every word to? Cold Chisel's Khe Sahn. Good for my bogan street cred.

This song also goes to prove that white boys aren't the best rappers (though Eminem aint too bad). Vanilla Ice should have stuck to selling photcopiers.

Bad, bad, bad song.

March 11, 1.17 pm

I landed in the garden, longing for the view behind the fence.

Josh Pyke, Memories and Dust.

Josh Pyke is a recent find  - this song being the standout on a compliation CD. I like the folky sound, the acoustic guitar - and a song about growing up. Josh Pyke's Lighthouse Song is superlative too.

March 11, 17.40

And I can see no bravery, no bravery in your eyes any more.

James Blunt, No Bravery

I don't really like James Blunt - for the same reason that I don't like Adele, Amy Winehouse, Norah Jones and Duffy. Their songs get caned on the radio. If I hear "You're Beautiful", (or "Rolling in the Deep" or "Rehab" or "Mercy" again I'll scream....).

However, I love this song. James Blunt is ex-army. Just out of uni, he was deployed as a peace keeper in Kosovo as a part of his conditions that the British Military paid for his tertiary education on the proviso that he spent four years in the army afterwards. This song is about his experiences on the field. I love how you actually see the depth of feeling in this song. Magic. Probably the best thing he's ever written.

March 11, 16.41

Come on Pilgrim, you know he loves you...

The Pixies, Levitate Me

Token Pixies song. It's not Random Lyric Long Weekend without a Pixies song thrown into the mix.

Levitate Me is the near quintessential Pixies song. Loud. Soft. Loud. Grungy. Great drums. Wailing guitars. Somewhat nonsensical. I remember doing this as an encore at the V-Festival at the Gold Coast going nuts in the mosh pit. Brilliant!

If you're interested, there's a couple of great covers of this song on YouTube. The version by the Beach Boys is worth a listen.

Saturday, 11 March, 21.34

Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial.

Green Day, Good Riddance

The last song played on Seinfeld. Overused at funerals. Not as political as a lot of Green Day songs, it's just cool.

Of these lines - my tattoo got spotted the other day at the gym. Changing, what I thought was reasonably discretely, it was spotted by a training buddy.

"You have a tattoo?!" The question was fired at me more like an accusation.
"No shit, Sherlock."
"You don't look like somebody who has a tattoo."
"Well there you go. I'll never get buried in a Jewish cemetery." 
"Why do you have a tattoo?" I was asked.
"Because I always wanted one."
"When did you get it?"
"A few months after my father died. It's the Chinese symbol for love."
"Are you sure about that?"
"You still don't look like a person who has a tattoo."
"And you don't look like somebody who judges people for having one."

I find it funny that our choices from many, many years ago come back to haunt us. Something as inconsequential as a small Chinese character hidden away on my hip has made somebody reconsider me.

It's something unpredictable, but in the end that's right. I hope you had the time of your life....

Monday 12 March, 8.42

We dress like students, we dress like housewives, or in a suit and a tie.

Talking Heads, Life During Wartime

I'm looking at this clip and thinking how fit David Byrne was back then. Like wow. Another song from the annals of my youth. Talking Heads is up the there with the Pixies in their deity status.

Seeing David Byrne in concert is one thing I will never forget. He was amazing! Stoned - yes, but incredible. They encored with a cover of "Sympathy for the Devil". It went on for about 20 minutes....

I'm really glad that Talking Heads, for the most part, haven't been relegated to fogey radio. They've still go credability - even if their Little Creatures album was a bit commercial and a couple of their back catelogue have found their way onto the MIX FM playlist.

Life During Wartime remains untouchable.

March 12, 10.11.

Don't get strung out by the way that I look, don't judge a book by its cover.

Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack. Sweet Transvestite

More from the annals of my youth. That cinena in Leicester Square, rocking up in a French Maids outfit, spendies, stockings, heels, back in the day I could walk in them. Throwing rice at the wedding....

What do the youth of today do now that's strange and ironic and just plain daft? Rocky Horror is one of the few musicals I can enjoy (along with Chicago and Rock of Ages) mainly because it doesn't take itself seriously. Could never have that much fun at an Andrew Lloyd Webber production of Paint Never Dries.

Looking at this clip, how did Tim Currie not break his ankle trolloping round in those heels?

Love it.

March 12, 11.14.

I search myself, I want you to find me, I forget myself, I want you to remind me.

I Touch Myself. The Divinyls

This is here for a reason. I've put the Rolf Harris cover for the clip as it's still the silliest cover ever performed. I had a friend over on Saturday night and she was rolling around on the floor laughing.

I think they banned the song when it first came out. Pity it didn't say banned so Rolf couldn't get his hands on it.

March 12, 12.38

I've got the right day but got the wrong week and I get paid for just being a freak.

Skyhooks, Living in the 70s

I love Skyhooks. My friend, Alice, doesn't. She hates them. My love of Skyhooks caused her to riff with her husband, Dougall.

I'd given them a copy of a compilation of Skyhooks songs which duly went onto their hard drive.

A few months later, this came on.

"What's this crap?" demanded Dougall.
"I don't know, it's your shit. It's awful." Alice retorted.

A row followed.

Twenty minutes they looked at each other. 'This is Pandora's crap."

The loss of Shirley Strachan a few years ago was one of life's tragedies. A great bloke.

As for Skyhooks - the seven year old in me will love them eternally.

Monday, March 12, 17.38

I could be first or I could come last, it's not who breaks the ribbon, it's how you get across.

John Buttler Trio, Zebra

Catchiest riff ever.

I challenge anybody hears this not to be singing it three hours later. Another perfect ear worm

Well, there you have it, another random public long weekend, another random choice of songs.

Until the Queen's Birthday in June.