Monday, 25 March 2013

Happy Easter gran - wherever you are

You know, I was thinking of my grandmother today.  Don’t know why, but I do remember her talking to me once when I was a child.  Well, a few times really, but this particular time, it was just before Easter and I was about 5.  “Katie, if you are very good and eat up all your vegetables, do you know what will happen on Easter Sunday morning?”  I glanced up from my biography of Churchill and replied in the negative.

I remember her smiling then and giving me a big huggly-wuggly-snuggly and confiding that if the above conditions were fully satisfied and if I tried to be that rarest of things – a good girl, a giant rabbit would hop into my bedroom on said Easter Sunday morning and give me a large egg made out of chocolate.
She then grinned and nodded wisely.  And I can clearly remember thinking, as I stared at her loving face, how absolutely great it will be when I am a grown-up because then I too will be able to take powerful hallucinogenic drugs just like her.  

The Easter Bunny?  The WHAT?  It’s like Santa. 

Tell me – Santa - how did HE ever catch on?  Wouldn’t any healthy society have him locked up immediately?  I mean, just hang on one second and let me get this straight.  An ancient, overweight Norwegian alcoholic in a red suit and kinky boots, with no visible means of support despite his massive wealth, is going to slither down my chimney in the middle of the night and creep into my bedroom to fill my stocking?

I have a gun and I’m waiting, fatboy!

By the way, this Christmas when you see an image of the Bethlehem manger, have a good long hard look at it.  It’s an icon of the supposedly perfect family.  OK, so it doesn’t stand up to even basic scrutiny.  She’s an unmarried mother from a religious minority, he’s a semi-skilled migrant labourer with poor employment prospects.  And Jesus Christ, that cute little kid is going to grow up to wander around the desert in a frock, cause enormous civil disturbance, vandalize a temple and come into serious conflict with the law before being arrested, tortured and nailed to a tree.  I mean they’re not exactly the Waltons, are they?

Something in our culture has gone terribly wrong when we celebrate Easter by inventing a character which even John Lennon in the post Sgt Pepper years, would have found a tad on the weirdo side. 

Honestly, the role models we give kids today.  And we wonder why they grow up robbing cars.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

My Idol

There is a person who has profoundly disturbed my peace of mind for a long time. She didn’t even know me, but she continually went around minding my business. We had very little in common. She was an old woman, an Albanian who grew up in Yugoslavia; she was a Roman Catholic nun who lived in poverty in India. 

I disagreed with her on fundamental issues of population control and the place of women in the world and in the church, and I was turned off by her naive statements about "what God wants." She stood at the center of great contradictory notions and strong forces that shape human destiny. She drove me crazy. I get upset every time I hear her name or read her words or see her face. I don't even want to talk about her.

In the ladies room at an airport in India, there is a wash basin. Above the wash basin is a mirror. I stopped at this place one day to tidy up and look at myself in the mirror. Alongside the mirror is a photograph of the troublesome woman. Each time I looked in the mirror at myself, I also looked at her face.  In it I have seen more than I can tell; and from what I see, I understand more than I can say.

The photograph was taken in Oslo, Norway, on the tenth of December, in 1980. This is what happened there:

A small, stooped woman in a faded blue sari and worn sandals received an award. From the hand of a king. An award funded from the will of the inventor of dynamite. In a great glittering hall of velvet and gold and crystal. Surrounded by the noble and the famous in formal black and elegant gowns. The rich, the powerful, the brilliant, the talented of the world  in attendance. And there at the center of it all - a little old lady in sari and sandals. Mother Teresa, of India. Servant of the poor and sick and dying. To her, the Nobel Peace Prize.

No shah or president or king or general or scientist or pope; no banker or merchant or cartel holds the key to as much power as she had. None was as rich. For hers was the invincible weapon against the evils of this earth: the caring heart. And hers were the everlasting riches of this life: the wealth of the compassionate spirit.

To cut through the smog of helpless cynicism; to take only the tool of uncompromising love; to make manifest the capacity for healing humanity's wounds; to make the story of the Good Samaritan a living reality; and to live so true a life as to shine out from the back streets of Calcutta takes courage and faith we cannot admit in ourselves and cannot be without.

I do not speak her language. Yet the eloquence of her life speaks to me. And I am chastised and blessed at the same time. I did not believe one person could do much in this world. Yet there she stood, in Oslo, affecting the world around her. I did not believe in her version of God. But the power of her faith shames me. And I found myself believing in Mother Teresa.

December in Oslo. The message for the world at Christmastime is one of peace. Not the peace of a child asleep in the manger. Nor the peace of a full dinner and a nap by the fire on December 25. But a tough, vibrant, vital peace that comes from the extraordinary gesture one simple woman in a faded sari and worn sandals makes this night. A peace of mind that comes from a piece of work.

Some years later, at a grand conference of quantum physicists and religious mystics at the Oberoi Towers Hotel in Bombay, I saw that face on the news again.  She strode to the rostrum and changed the agenda of the conference from intellectual inquiry to moral activism. She said, in a firm voice to the awed assembly: "We can do no great things; only small things with great love. "

The contradictions of her life and faith were nothing compared to my own. And while I wrestle with frustration about the impotence of the individual, she went right on changing the world. While I wish for more power and resources, she used her power and resources to do what she could do at the moment.

She upset me, disturbed me, shamed me. What did she have that I do not?

If ever there is truly peace on earth, goodwill to men, it will be because of women like Mother Teresa. Peace is not something you wish for; it's something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Where Can I Get A Costume For That?

My complaining started the minute we received the invitation in the mail. Fancy Dress Party: Come dressed as the thing that scares you most! “But I’m not scared of the usual stuff like spiders, snakes, vampires and ghosts” I complained, “and the costume shop never has something for existential angst!”

“Stop being a wanker,” my friend replied, “just make a list of things you are scared of and then choose one of those.” So I did, and you know what, it turns out I am scared of heaps of stuff.

 For example I’m scared that when people around me are speaking in a foreign language that they are talking about me being fat  

I’m terrified that I will die before the final episode of Lost and I will never understand what was going on with that bloody island; I’m even more terrified I will see the final episode of Lost and I will still not understand what was going on with that bloody island; 

Babies… you know, just in general; 

I’m anxious that the fun I had in my twenties will destroy my brain and I will become one of those old sheilas who just repeats her same stupid jokes all the time; 

I’m scared that I am too happy most of the time to think of anything genuinely deep to say; 

I’m virtually terror-stricken that one day soon a comedian will make a joke and the Australian Family Association complain they really shouldn’t be joking about things crossing roads, I mean won’t somebody please think of the chickens? 

I’m scared of having an ugly baby, but I don’t know it’s ugly and all my friends pretend but then one day I am walking down the street and someone says: “Why do you have that monkey in a pram?”; 

I’m fearful that I will be shunned at dinner parties in Fitzroy and Newtown if I tell my friends that I even though I loved The Wire, I think SVU is a far-superior crime series; (Oh and while we are on a roll I didn’t get the end of Twilight either); 

I’m scared that one day I will push a cotton bud too far into my ear. 

I’m worried I should have kept more receipts; 

I’m scared that I’ll never be mature enough not to giggle when they mention former IOC President Dick Pound’s name on the news; 

I’m scared our government will never have the balls to let gay people marry and I will have to be ashamed of that all my life; 

I’m scared that someone will be staying at my house and open a cupboard in my house and find something embarrassing like a bong or a DVD box-set of Home and Away; 

I’m terrified I will become one of those boring middle-aged people who gets angry at young people for doing the exact same things I did when I was young; 

I’m scared that I’m right and there is no God, and existence is meaningless, and I really should have just gone to the beach; 

I even more scared the crazy guy in the mall with the cardboard sign is right and there is a God and he is going to be really mad at what I did as a teenager; 

I’m afraid that I should have done something productive in my life like settle down and have a baby; 

I’m scared shirtless that if I did settle down and have a baby I would immediately regret it and wish I had spent the money on buying DVD box-sets which I would enjoy a lot more and would never tell me they hated me and that I had ruined their life; 

I’m terrified of falling over and knocking out some of my front teeth, I’m even more terrified this will result in people thinking I am British; 

I’m scared that pain in my hip that I have now had for a couple of years, and assumed would go away at some stage, is now just how my hip feels; 

I am scared the person I am in my head isn’t the way that other people see me; 

I’m afraid I don’t tell the people I love that I love them enough, and I am terrified I tell strangers in the mosh-pit at the Big Day Out that I love them way too much; 

I’m scared that I will die young and never get to see Hawthorn win another premiership; 

I’m scared that I will live to 100 and get a telegram from King William that says: “I’m sorry you  never got to see Hawthorn win another premiership”; 

I’m afraid the one thing I will regret just before I die is that I didn’t eat enough cake; 

I’m scared that I should have spent more time in my life worrying about things like world poverty and less worrying about whether I taped Masterchef Australia; 

But, you know, where do you get a costume that says that?

Next ...........

Say, if I go through the 8 items or less lane with three cans of beans, but they are all the same size cans, and all the same type of beans- is that one item, or three? Most people seem to think it counts as three.

However, your honour, I'm no fancy big city lawyer, but what if I then buy three apples? Is that counted as three items or just one? The prevailing wisdom on this one seems to be that this is only one item because they are in a bag, which then leaves me the with the question, what happens if I put my three cans of beans in a bag? Is the bag the rule? If so I could go through that lane looking like santa claus, with a huge sack full of my groceries. "Sorry, it's just one item, it's in a bag, stick that up your little red quote."

And speaking of bags, have you noticed that if you ask for a plastic bag in a supermarket recently you are greeted with a look that implies you just asked if you could club a baby seal to death.

Don't get me wrong, I think we use way too many plastic bags, and I always try to take old plastic bags with me when I go shopping.

But I do sometimes think they take it too far. I mean I can understand not getting a plastic bag for a packet of smokes, but the other day I had three apples, a can of deodorant, two cans of coke and some toilet paper, and the lovely woman behind the counter looked at me and said: "would you like a bag?"

Well no, actually I am just going to juggle this stuff on the way home. Let's swing by hardware and see if I can get a chainsaw and make it really interesting.

You know what else also really bugs me about the 8 items or less lane? You know when you put your groceries up leaving a respectful distance between your stuff and the person in front of you- and yet they still feel the need to put that little wooden divider in between. That really pisses me off. "hey, love, we should be tearing walls down, not building them love."  It's like they don't want their groceries to touch yours. Why? They all come from the same place love.

And while we are making a list and checking it twice, should you be allowed to pay with your atm card in the express lane? It hardly seems "express". Have you ever been stuck behind a pensioner in the express lane trying to remember their pin?

You're just trying to pick up some milk and they are ahead of you typing so many buttons into the machine, you are not sure if they a trying to access the Commonwealth Bank or hack into the Pentagon.

Sometimes it seems like they have forgotten their pin and are typing in their phone number. That or their pin has been remixed by the chemical brothers. "hey, you're meant to type in the number of your pin, nanna, not the number of pi."

But even worse than the pensioner who seems to have forgotten his pin so is instead typing in pi to twenty decimal places, is the idiot who thinks he is a comedian.

Hey dude, earth to tool, no-one cares about your stupid jokes. Sharelle, Narelle, Chantelle and Janelle (let's be honest, with names like that you either work at a check-out or are married to Altyan Childs) are too busy trying to do a price check for aisle five, and aren't paid enough to not only bag the groceries but listen to your jokes as well,

If one more person in front of me when the poor girl asks them "cash or savings" says "well actually it's spendings" then you'd better watch out because I am about to shove my 8 items or less up your red spot, and when my bag of apples goes up there it is not going to be special.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Easter v Christmas

I’ve discussed a lot of important things here over the past couple of weeks – sex, religion, politics and even Eoin Macken but I think this is by far the biggest:  have you noticed how early they are putting Easter eggs in the supermarket?

Oh yeah, eat your hearts out all you hard hitting newsmen, I’m the only one who isn’t afraid to go after the big targets!  If I had a can of worms, I would be cracking it open right now.

It’s been driving me mad ever since New Year’s Day, when I stumbled into the supermarket with my friends.  All of us suffering a  hangover so big it had its own mushroom cloud, only to be greeted by the shiny sight of Easter eggs.

For a minute I thought “Wow, I really had a lot more to drink than I thought.  I’ve woken up 4 months later.  I’ve missed Aussie Day and more importantly, now I will never know if Kat is screwing Derek on EastEnders.”

Even by the standards of supermarkets that seem to want to turn the 12 Days Of Christmas into the 12 Months Of Christmas Shopping,  January 1st seems a tad early.  Hang on a minute, is it because petrol prices are so high these days that Santa and the Easter Bunny need to share a ride?

I need to point out I’m not having a go at Easter here.  Like everyone, I love remembering the death of the son of God in the traditional manner of eating chocolate eggs delivered by a magical bunny (you know just like it says in the Bible, although I think someone had been smoking the burning bush that day.)

But do we really need 3 – 4 months of celebration?  I mean, how hard are parents going to make the Easter egg hunt this year?  Even Sam and Frodo could find them in 3 months.  Let’s be honest, if you told kids that Osama Bin Laden had chocolate, most of them could have found him.

At least with Christmas pressies, the shops can justify that some people need time to shop and save?

I suppose what really bugs me is the complete commercialization of Christianity.  Now, I’m no God-botherer and I have never been know to bash a Bible that wasn’t asking for it, but even I find it all a little tacky.  I mean, if they are willing to flog Easter eggs for 3 months, what’s next?  “Remember this is the weekend that we solemnly remember the death of the Lord who died on the cross for our sins … speaking of crosses, we have massive discounts in the hardware section all weekend.”

And you know if the supermarkets are making a buck, it won’t be long before the big corporations try to cash in, too.  You can just see the ads:  “We all love the story of Jesus feeding the masses with loaves and fishes.  At McDonalds we will be celebrating that all month with our Filet-o-Fish McMiracle meal deal.
Would you like absolution with that?”

Sunday, 10 March 2013


To All The Kids Who Survived The –
60’s 70’s and the 1980’s

·                   First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us
·                   They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetics
·                   Then, after that trauma, our cots were covered with brightly coloured, lead based paints

We survived!

·                   We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, no childproof doors or cabinets, and when we rode our pushbikes, we had no helmets.  Not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking
·                   As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags
·                   Riding in the back of a ute on a warm day was always a special treat

Again, we survived …

·                   We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.
·                   We shared one soft drink with four friends, and no-one actually died from sharing the bottle
·                   We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soft drink with sugar in it, but we weren’t overweight because we were always outside playing
·                   We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on
·                   No one was able to reach us all day – and we were OK

We survived.

·                   We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes.  After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem
·                   We did not have Playstations, Nintendo’s, X-Boxes, no video games, no 99 channels on cable, no DVD movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms … we had friends and we went outside and found them
·                   We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents
·                   We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever

Yep, we survived.

·                   We were given slingshots for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls, and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes
·                   We rode our bikes or walked to a friend’s house and just walked in the open door to play with them
·                   The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of.  They actually sided with the law
·                   Under 12 footy, cricket and basketball had tryouts and not everyone made the team.  Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment.

Wow, imagine that! We actually survived.

·                   Our generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever
·                   The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas
·                   We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Ah - It Would Have To Be New Zealand

Here’s a handy tip for you folks. If you are traveling to New Zealand, on your customs form where it asks "Reason For Trip" don’t write "To throw my ring into the fires of Mordor."

The actual reason for my trip was to speak at a training conferance so as I bounced off the plane and into the waiting cab I must admit I was a bundle of nerves.

My nerves only increased when I jumped into the front seat next to the driver, a big burly bloke sporting what looked less like a beard, and more like I had interrupted him halfway through eating a live sheep.

He turned to me and barked: "Your first time in New Zealand luv?"

I explained that I had been many times, but that I had lived in Clayton for five years so I was used to being surrounded by them. "It’s finally nice to meet one that has a job though," I joked.

Or so I thought. Instead it seemed like I had accidentally grabbed a big can marked "worms" and a tin-opener.

"Don’t talk to me about bloody Aussies luv," he said. "Mean country. Refugees float through the ocean on boats, they get to your country and you tell them to go away, but we… we take them in!"

Now to be honest I’m no great fan of Australia’s hard-line policy on asylum-seekers but instead I said:

"Well you need them, don’t you? You have to replace all the New Zealanders who have moved to Australia."

Deafening silence. The sort of silence you can hear. Finally punctured by him asking: "Do you know who invented bungee jumping?"

"Um, someone who was sick of their Dad saying ‘if your best friend jumped off a bridge, would you?’"

He ignored me. "It was a New Zealander!"

Impressive, I said, not actually impressed at all.

"You know a New Zealander also invented jogging?" he asked.

I chuckled slightly, assuming he was joking, but the look on his face told me he was deadly serious.

"Bu- bu- but surely people have jogged since the beginning of time, right?" I stammered.

"I mean I’m pretty sure the first person who had a large angry animal run towards them probably invented jogging… and sprinting… and swearing I imagine?"

"No," he said having none of my seeming flawless argument, "it was invented by a New Zealander. A bloke called Arthur Lydiard invented jogging as a method of keeping fit."

I was about to ask if he was pulling my leg, but then thought better of it as I thought it might lead to an entire conversation about how a bloke from Auckland had invented leg-pulling.

Instead I countered with: "So what you are saying is that he named jogging really, aren’t you?"

All I heard from under his beard was a grunt, which I took as meaning either: "I see your point and I will think on it some more and get back to you at another time" or "I know places I could bury you where they will never find the body."

We both decided it was time to move on. I started to fumble with my phone as a distraction, but he ignored the hint.

"Did you know New Zealand is part of the pacific rim of fire?" he continued.

No, I did not. In fact I didn’t (and still don’t) know what that is. It sounded to me like the side-effect of a particularly spicy curry.

I put my phone to my ear wondering if I was going to have to pretend it had rung just to break the awkwardness.

"Did you know you can get you driver’s license at 15 in New Zealand?" he asked.

I put my phone back down.

"Wow," I breathed as it seemed like the reaction he was looking for and to be honest he was starting to slightly scare me. "I guess that means when you see a Baby On Board sticker they might be talking about the driver."


"Did you know that NZ is the youngest country in the entire world?" he beamed.

"I did not," I admitted. "But it does explain why when sometimes it wants to go to a nightclub it has to borrow some fake ID and pretend it is Australia."


"Do you know why they call us the Land Of The Long White Cloud?" he asked.

"No," I tried again, "but it must make reporting the weather easy. Today, cloudy again!"


"Did you know in the 1908s in New Zealand there were 20 sheep to every person, but now the ratio is only 9 to 1?"

I knew it was probably time to bite my tongue, but I couldn’t resist: "Maybe they all just shaved their fleece into mullets and moved to Australia.

It was at this point my cabbie really started to freak me out as he moved closer to me and whispered slightly more aggressively than I would have expected: "Do you pee?"

I was slightly freaked out. Was he going to ask for a sample, because if he continued like this there might soon be one on the floor of his cab. I nodded nervously.

"You shouldn’t do it," he snapped. "We have a big problem with pee in this country!"

WTF? Did he expect me to hold on? And what was their big problem? It was at this point the cab driver seemed to realize my confusion and explain to me that P (rather than pee) was a drug that was currently causing many problems in New Zealand society.

I tried to laugh my mistake off: "P? Wow, I have been out of the loop. I stopped at E. I didn’t know they had kept going. I would like to try some Q!"


He went on to explain that P was the local term for crystal meth - what we would call "ice" here - and like here it was causing a range of problems in society.

(Although to be honest I’m not sure you why people from NZ would take a drug that means you don’t sleep. I mean there’s not that much to do there, and you can only watch the Lord Of The Rings films in a row so many times.)

Finally we seemed to be bonding, and yet for some reason I felt my lips continue to move.

"Well of course people like to get high in this country," I countered. "It’s the home of Sir Edmund Hillary and he got higher than anyone in the world. Although I guess when most people here get high they don’t take a Sherpa along for company, do they?"

The air was suddenly thinner and colder than it would be at the top of the summit, but like those adventurers I felt the need to push on despite the danger.

"Do you know why he had to climb Everest?" I asked. He grunted at me angrily, but I was unstoppable now. "It was the only place he could find on the planet where people wouldn’t come up to him and say ‘Ha ha… Hillary is a girl’s name.’"

I could tell I was starting to get a reaction of sorts. He looked at me and said: "You know he climbed it again, don’t you?"

"Yes," I replied. "But he had too. A lot of people don’t know this but he left his wallet up there the first time and it had his Video Ezy card in there and they wouldn’t let him hire without it."

Tough crowd.

As he started another rant and rave about how the country was being ruined by too many teenagers smoking pot, we finally pulled up my hotel.

I opened the door, grabbed my bags, and threw some money on the seat and tried one last time: "Well maybe that’s why they call it the Land Of Long White Cloud!"

And as he drove off I swear I saw him laugh. Either that or he was eating the rest of that sheep.

Friday, 1 March 2013

I'm Rich!

I got some great news recently. It seems the wife of a former Nigerian President had heard that I am "honest and reliable". Pretty impressive, huh? It was all there in her email. I don’t know how she got my address, but it was perfect timing.

You see I was about to apply for a loan and I really needed some decent references. I'm certain I’ll get the cash because I have the tick of approval from someone as impressive as the wife of the former Nigerian President.

OK, I have to ask, does anyone actually fall for this crap? Is there any dodo out there who really thinks Bill Gates built his fortune by sending $1,000 to anyone who forwards an email?

Surely if it were that easy to make money on the net, financial advisors would be doing it: "Well, Kate, we’re going to put half your money into blue-ribbon stocks like BHP Billiton and the other half in internet chain letters. You should be living in a gold house by the end of the month".

Personally, I think there is a special corner in hell reserved for people who pass chain letters on, especially the ones that promise bad luck if you don’t forward them.

I mean, what sort of friend sends you something that is basically a threat, saying "If you don’t do what I say bad things are going to happen to you"? Well, unless your friend’s email is -
And it’s always the weirdest threats, like "Mr. John Smith of Made-Upville refused to pass on this letter, and for the rest of his life, he suffered from really bad hat hair. And a man from Adelaide refused to send on his letter and he still lives in Adelaide." Tremble at the power of the letter!

"Another man decided to throw the letter in the bin. Soon after he was forced to listen to Cliff Richards over and over again. He was then stabbed in his sleep, which he actually saw as a stroke of good luck because it meant that he didn’t have to listen to Cliff Richards any more.

What I love about these stories, though, is how quickly someone’s fortune can turn around. "An oil tycoon named George received this email and didn’t pass it on. He immediately lost his fortune and was then captured by aliens who probed him and then feasted on his brains until they dropped him back on earth as a brainless zombie. Having been completely removed of anything resembling intelligence, he decided to forward the email to all his friends, and in two days he was elected President of the United States of America."

Well, actually, now that I think about it, that one could be true.

Of course the question has to be asked by anyone with half a brain: if a person didn’t pass on the letter and then died tragically – as many of these letters claim – how would anyone know?

I’ve never seen that episode of CSI: "Well we’ve ruled out murder, accidental death and suicide, it can only be one thing. He didn’t respond to a chain letter".

They are complete crapola, and I don’t care how many dollar signs, capital letters or exclamation marks you put in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, and whatever the letter is about, it was always started by monks.

And you know what? I don’t give a toss if it has been around the world five times. So has Paris Hilton and come to think about it – so have I, and I’m not about to send myself to 5 of my friends.

Anyway, if you enjoyed reading this, please email it to 50 of your closed friends in the next 50 seconds or you will DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next week, maybe not even next month, but sometime – in the next 100 years, almost definitely. Seriously, trust me!!!!!!!!!!!!! I mean would I lie to you??????????? The wife of the Nigerian President says I’m honest and reliable$$$$$$$!!!!!!

Happy Birthday, David

It’s my brother's birthday and the rest of us had a little problem deciding what to buy him. We discussed various interesting possibilities, but couldn’t come up with anything concrete. Well, we could, but he didn’t want anything concrete, so it was back to the DIY store with that half-ton of crazy paving, and from there back to square one pretty pronto! What do you buy a man who has everything? Yeah, yeah I know – penicillin!

We decided that birthdays are not the most important thing in the world (the boys said that Australia making the next World Cup finals is the most important thing in the world. Huh???). But still there’s nothing quite like a birthday.

For me nearly thirty years – 10,950 days or 262,800 hours or 15,768,000 minutes. If you’re reaching for a calculator to work out whether all that is correct, you really are terribly sadder than me.

My birthday falls, or rather plummets in May. It makes me a Taurus. This is not a good sign to be. Taurus people are fussy, morally superior, perfectionists, nervous, shy and fundamentally annoying.

So I’ve decided that I’m fed up being a Taurus. Damn it I just want to be something else. In desperation I turned for enlightenment to an ancient book on the Chinese Horoscope. In Chinese terms, I always thought I’d be a swan or something elegant like that – but no! Those of us who had the enormous privilege of bouncing into this world on my birth date are in fact – wait for it – rabbits! Bloody typical. I go from being a fussy virgin to a fluffy vegetarian in one little hop. The book further informed me that suitable professions for a rabbit would include philosopher, diplomat, politician or – of course – cartoon character. It also revealed that my ideal spouse would be either a dragon or a dog. I’m certain that there’s a joke in there somewhere, but I’m not going to even try.

Anyway, I went off to buy a present because I was the keeper of the money. My companion is a hysterical 6 year old (nephew) who came with me because his parents were out doing parenty things. So I decided to take him into Toys R Bloody Expensive. He is screeching that his entire life will be ruined and he will grow up unhappy and never be able to form stable and meaningful relationships and it will BE ALL MY FAULT unless he is immediately supplied with a large Nintendo X-Box Playstation thingy. By this stage I have actually surrendered. I am weeping openly. I have my cash in my trembling, sweaty hands and I would willingly throw my money and the deeds to my soul into a bucket wielded by Satan, if only I could find a Sales Assistant. But I can’t, because there isn’t one. They’re all on their break in the Bahamas or somewhere – certainly not in the shop.

Buying for kids is bad. Buying for kids can give you a breakdown, reduce you to a wreck, destroy your mind forever. But buying for a man? Be afraid, Kate. Be very afraid.