Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Family and Friends

Hello and happy 2014 everyone.  Hope this year has started off well for all you guys.  I'm still in the UK and having a great time.  I really wanted to behave this trip, but there have been so many other options.

More about my trip in later blogs.

Let me introduce you to my  brother, David.  David lives in Liverpool with his poor suffering wife Sue,and their two lovely children - Christopher and Ellie.

I know you read this David, but I'm going to embarrass you even further than I already have. 

David is trying to be a bloke, guys - or a female Hungarian heavy-weight lifter - nah, I'm pretty sure he wants to be a bloke.

Now, as if he needed further confirmation that he is a compromised male, a visit from the plumber, recently, put the final nail in the coffin.

If you asked David what he did for a living, he would tell you that he was a "professional gambler involved in organised crime". He is, in fact a financial advisor and has a more than healthy disrespect for the entire industry.  However, speaking to him recently, he said that he greatly admires people who actually work for a living.  Plus, with plumbers, he feels that they're (he and the plumbers) are in the same line of work.  It's just that he talks it, and they make sure that it get's flushed away.

Anyway at the end of a long day working in the cold and rain, and him awkwardly lingering, he decided to bond with the bonza blokes by getting them a 'bloody beer' (he learned everything he knows about bloke-talk from Alf in Home and Away)!

So he went to the fridge looking fr a good bloke's beer like the Aussie VB or Fosters, only to be greeted by a range of designer ales with titles so strange they sounded like they were named after Bob Geldof's kids.  I think he was quite embarrassed  by his poncy ales, he ended up pouring the beer into glasses for the plumbers, and writing 'Fosters' on the outside, in a felt tip pen.

His wife, Sue, and I were watching this.  I was laughing but Sue was just rolling her eyes.  She said that that experience probably won't do much for his sense of self as a red-blooded Australian male.  Sure enough, when he came back in, he said he'd made a resolution - he was going to try to become more of a male.

No, he wasn't going to shove some socks down his jocks, he was going to pull on some overalls, get his hands dirty, build a shed and hide in it, just like all the real Aussie blokes out there.  As a consequence, he's been doing so much nailing and screwing of late, that all his Aussie mates have nicknamed him 'Lara Bingle'.  (Look it up, non-Aussie people.)

Yes folks, in the last few days, he's spent every waking moment doing odd jobs. (By the way, I have  no idea why tasks such as putting up shelves are called 'odd jobs'.  Milking a rat for a living - now that would be an odd job.)

He's obsessed.  You've heard of born again Christians?  Well he thinks he's a born again tradesman.  He has seen the light, and then installed it himself.

Not that his home renovations are any good, I should point out.  You'd see less streaks at a nudist colony than his paint jobs.  His shelves are like the Australian Broadcasting Commission board -= they lean heavily to the right, and even an asthmatic wolf who had just walked up a flight of stairs could probably blow his house down.

And while Sue is very happy that things are getting fixed around the house, she's not so happy about the amount of crack he's started to show out the back of his shorts!

But I digress.

If being a home handyman is his new religion, then if he was in Australia, his church would be Bunnings Hardware.  Over here it's the equivalent, and I can't remember the hardware store name, and he's been praying at his 'hardware' church 5 times a day.  

He says he loves it there and he's been so often that the staff are beginning to think he's a stalker, although the real reason he goes there numerous times a day, is that he doesn't know what he's doing, so he keeps forgetting to buy stuff.  "Oh, so you're saying I need brushes to put the paint, I bought earlier, on the wall?"

Luckily, he says, the staff are so damn helpful.  It's like DIY for Dummies.  They're so full of answers that if he ever went on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire", he would use the staff at the hardware store as his 'phone-a-friend'.

Not that they are complaining.  No sir.  Mr Hardware-store, has just put a new wing on his house due to David's financial contributions.

In a couple of weeks, David went from a bloke whose only experience with screwdrivers was drinking them, to someone who has more tools than an audition for Australian Idol.  He niw has so many hammers, nails, screws, hooks, files and saws, that he has to go back to the hardware store to buy more wood so he can build a box to store them in.

A few days ago, I did a spot of babysitting.  Good friends finally put their resources together and made themselves a child.  Me?  I'm the godmother in the deal and I take my job seriously. So far I've introduced the kid to the good things in life - chocolate, wine, classical music and dirty jokes.   I don't think he cares much for classical music, but he's only 18 months old and he'll get tired of chocolate, wine and dirty jokes.

So that particular morning while his folks were out doing parenty things, I looked after him my niece and nephew, and also a group of 5 six/seven/ year olds.  Happy, happy days.  I found myself playing a cutthroat game of Snap with these card sharks.  I was the 'babysitter' from my point of view, and the latest 'sucker' to play cards with them as they saw it.  We were eating popcorn laced with strawberry jelly and knocking back straight shots of coke (straight from the can which was being solemnly passed around).  You have to look serious when you play cards.  I was 'done' 3 times running and I got down to 9 M&Ms before I realised they were cheating every chance they got.  One of them had an extra deck and was passing cards under the table.  I can't prove it, but that's what I think!  Anyway, mother finally came home and saved me from utter ruin at the hands of this criminal element.  I went to bed that night thinking - if the future is in the hands of maniacs like these, we're in trouble.

Well you'll be pleased to know that the kids have progressed.  No more Snap or Old Maid.  Now I've decided they play by my rules - Poker!!!  It was up to me to teach them, and may I add, it was foolish of me to assume that they would be using their own money, so it was M&Ms again.

Ever tried to teach kids to play poker?  Difficult.  The hardest part was making them put all their cards back into the deck for another game.  They wanted to hold on to their good cards for the next time!  Bluffing  was  a stumbling block.  When I explained that sometimes you had to pretend you had good cards when you didn't, they asked "Isn't that lying?  I'm not allowed to lie." OK, just this once, you're allowed to kid.  Anyway to cut a long story short, I got my M&Ms back and I went to bed a happy woman.

Get me away from this madness.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Weddings and Anniversaries

I don't want to sound mean spirited, but it's always secretly pissed me off that when you go to a wedding. you're expected to take a present.

The fancy registry, in particular, gets up my nose.

Yes, I've been invited to a wedding. Grrrrrr .......

Isn't it enough that they've found true love? Do they really need a toaster or a waffle maker to sweeten the deal?  "Oh look ..... a stainless steel potato peeler. Now this is truly the most special day of my life.

The truth is I'm jealous.  You see, I don't have any plans to marry again - well not in the near future.  It seems, however, that all my friends are lately taking the plunge, and the obligatory coffee plunger.

Of course the gifts don't stop on the wedding day - then come the wedding anniversaries.

A couple of friends celebrated their 10th recently, so I jumped online to find out what might be an appropriate gift.  That's when I made a startling discovery.

Did you know that they've updated the traditional wedding anniversary gifts?  It's true.  Let's start with the 10th year anniversary.  In the good old days, if you made it to ten years, the appropriate gift was tin.  But these days, some baked beans or Alphabetti (noodles in the shape of letters, folks) in a tin doesn't cut it.  Tin has been replaced by - wait for it - diamonds.

It says something about the state of modern marriage that in the old days, you had to wait 60 years for diamonds. But now, if you're lucky enough to make it to ten, it's time to crack out the bling.

In fact, you better make sure you're earning some good coin because the next few years are going to cost you big time!

There are diamonds (10) - a girl's best friend, then there's fashion jewellery (11), pearls (12), furs (13) and gold jewellery (14).

And it's not just the big anniversaries that are more costly.  They've all changed.  Traditionally, the 1st anniversary was paper, so a card and a copy of a Sunday magazine had you covered.  Actually, of you think about it, you didn't really need a present - just what you would have wrapped it in.

These days, it's a bit more difficult.  If a husband of mine tried to give me something made of paper, the only paper they would get in return would have the word "divorce" written on it.  Apparently nowadays, the appropriate gift for a first anniversary, is a clock!

If you manage to make it to a second year, traditionally,the gift was cotton, which meant you could basically cover it with a T-shirt.  These days you're expected to fork out for china, which I think means plates and cups, not sweet and sour pork from the local take-away.

Third year used to be celebrated with leather - which makes me think, in the old days if you managed to stick to your wedded bliss for three years, things started to get a little kinky.  Sadly now you wait for nine long years before the leather anniversary.  Perhaps it's an incentive to make marriages last longer.

Today, thee fourth anniversary is celebrated with appliances - fitting because it's about the time when warranties on all your wedding gifts expire and everything stops working.  Traditionally, this anniversary was celebrated with flowers.  But these days they're the usual gifts blokes buy when they've forgotten anniversaries.

All jokes aside, some of the changes are just plain stupid.  In the old days, the 7th anniversary was simple: wool.  Nice.  That could be anything from a fluffy jumper to a tea cosy.  But do you k ow what they've replaced it with?  No joke. Desk sets!!!!!

Desk sets!  How romantic.  I know I've personally lost track of the number of Hallmark cards I've seen with "Roses are red, violets are blue.  I've got a stapler, paper clips and post-it notes just for you".

Some of you are now going to auto-label me as a dole bludging, chardonnay sipping, tree hugging, flag burning, latte leftie member of the Melbourne elite who doesn't know what it's like for the silent majority (yes, majority) of LABs (little Aussie Battlers) who live on - or a short cab ride - from Struggle Street.

Last time I was here in the UK, I went to a wedding also.  Please let me repeat a blog - or part thereof :

"Just wanted to tell you all of the most bizzare wedding I've ever been to.

It took place in London last week and the cast included Paul, groom and Emily, bride. However there was a cast of thousands, but one person stood out.

The central figure was the mother of the bride (MOTB).  Usually a polite, reasonable,  intelligent and sane human being.  

Nobody knew it, but this lady had been waiting with a script that would have met with Cecil B. DeMille’s approval.  And since it was her money, it was hard to say no to anything.  

The father of the bride began to pray for an elopement.  His prayers were not answered.  She (MOTB) had 7 months to work and no detail was left to chance.  Everything that could be engraved was engraved.  Everything that could be printed was printed and everything that could be bought was bought.  

There were teas, showers and dinners.  Then there were more teas, showers and dinners.

When I got married, I think we met with the minister maybe twice.  She called him weekly.  No-one was ever going to forget this wedding. And nothing was going to go wrong. 

So we arrived and by George, she had done it.  

It was an outside wedding and there was an 18 piece band playing softly in the background when the guests were arriving.  We were all seated and the wedding music started.  Nine – count them – 9 chiffon draped bridesmaids stepped down the aisle and then the bride herself.  

What you first noticed as she stood waiting to walk down the aisle was how white she was. Not her white dress (which, of course was beautiful), but her face – whiter than the dress itself!!  

Father started walking her down the aisle and just as she passed her mother, the bride threw up.  The mother fainted. Everyone rushed to help. Glasses of water were called for. Kids (and some adults) were laughing, Everyone was unnecessarily calling for an ambulance.    It was fantastic.  Only the Marx brothers could have topped it.  

They took her off to a room somewhere to get herself together and we all walked off for a smoke.  After an hour or so, the cast was re-assembled.  The bride, wearing a bridesmaid’s dress, tried again.  There was a lot of hugging from the groom, and a lot of tears from the bride.   MOTB was now whiter than white. Father was still laughing.  Finally the words were spoken and the dead was done.  

Everybody cried.  I think you’re supposed to at a wedding.  Hey, I’ve been to wet weddings before, but this one turned into a communal bath!  

What a great wedding and the MOTB was right.  We were not going to forget this one!"

OK let's give it another go.

Happy 2014 to everyone who's reading this by the way.