Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Happy Easter, friends

You know, I was thinking of my grandmother recently. 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 then smiling 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 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???

By the way …. have you noticed how early they’re putting hot cross buns and Easter eggs on the shelves? Seriously, if I had a can of worms, I would be cracking it open right now.

It’s been driving me crazy since New Year’s Day when I stumbled into a supermarket with a hangover so big, it had it’s own mushroom cloud, only to be greeted by the sight of rows of shiny Easter eggs.

Wow … did I have that much to drink? I’ve woken up 4 months later. Shit, I’ve missed Valentine’s Day and more importantly, now I’ll never know who killed evil Karl on Eastenders. (Is he dead or lost in the Queen Vic??)

Even by the standard of supermarkets that seem intent on turning the twelve days of Christmas into the twelve months of Christmas shopping, January 1 seems a tad early. Are petrol prices that high that Santa and the Easter Bunny have to share a ride?

I’m not having a go at Easter here. Like anyone, I love nothing more than commemorating the death of Jesus by eating chocolate eggs delivered by a magical bunny (just like it says in the Bible, tho I think someone was smoking the burning bush that day).  But do we really need four months of celebrations? How difficult can the Easter Egg hunt be? Let’s be honest here, if you told kids that he had a stash of chocolate, Bin Laden would have been found in days!

At least with Christmas, people might need time to shop and save, but does this apply for Easter?

I know it might seem a trivial matter, but I really think it reveals much about our society’s dependence on instant gratification.

Seriously though, it’s not just the time suction that’s bugging me, it’s the complete commercialisation of Christianity. I just find it all a bit tacky.

If they’re willing to flog Easter Eggs for four months, what’s next? “Remember, this weekend 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 if the supermarkets are making a buck, it won’t be long before the big corporations cash in on it too. “We all love the story of feeding the masses with loaves and fish. Here at McDonalds, we’ll be celebrating all week with our Fillet o’ Fish McMiracle Meal Deal. Would you like absolution with that?

Can I take this opportunity to wish all my friends a happy Easter and I hope said magical bunny delivers plenty your way. Love you all. xxx

Friday, 11 April 2014

Does My Stupid Look Big In This?

Is it just me, or has the world become unnecessarily complicated lately?

This really hit home to me the other morning when I popped into the supermarket for some milk.  I don’t buy milk very often because I can’t drink it, so I was quite amazed.

Oh my lord. Have you noticed how many types of cow juice are in the shops these days? In the time it took me to walk past the entire fridge, most of the bottles had passed their ‘use by’ date.

There's milk which claims to be full of iron, which apparently doesn't mean when you open the carton, there's a crowbar inside.  Then there's powdered milk, goat's milk, soy milk, coconut milk (though where they found a coconut with nipples is beyond me).

For the health conscious, there is 95% fat-free, 96% fat-free, 97% fat-free, 98% fat-free – well, you know where I’m going.  There’s long life milk and UHT, which I think is also the sound people make when they drink it.

(By the way, even though I grew up on a farm, I have absolutely no idea how they get the milk to be that low in fat. I imagine that all the farmers have all the cows on treadmills.)

But it’s not just milk that has gone all option mad.  Remember the good old days where the only choices you had for tea were the colour of Michael Jackson in the 70s or the colour of Michael Jackson just before he passed away – black or white?

For starters, what the hell is English Breakfast Tea? I mean, is it actually supposed to taste like an English breakfast?  Because the last thing I want is a cup of tea that tastes like sausage, beans, eggs and chips.  (I assume Irish breakfast tastes like Guinness and a punch in the face!)

What about Earl Grey? Well I’m sorry, but I can’t drink Earl Grey. It always feels a little formal to me. Like it should only be for when you are having the Queen over for tea. It seems wrong to drink it in my tracky daks and ugg boots.

Then there’s Chamomile and Jasmine (which sound a little like strippers to me), Russian Caravan and Finest Ceylon, Ordinary Ceylon and Not-Quite-Right Ceylon.  Oh, and Green Tea which is apparently good for you!!

And don’t even get me started on bread. There’s sourdough, soy, rye, linseed, soda, lecithin, wholemeal, fibre-added, fibre-deducted, thick, thin, wholegrain, multi-grain, low-grain and the grain from Spain that falls mainly on the plain, bread.

I’m sorry, but just what did happen to the good old fashioned bread, bread?

It’s not just food that’s over-complicated either. I had to buy a new toothbrush the other day. I like to get new ones regularly because I have sensitive teeth.

Buying a toothbrush used to be a relatively simple process.  Now they all have fancy names like The Advantage, The Indicator, and The Twister.

Anyway, the one I ended up getting was very, very fancy. Forget the days of the standard straight brush, mine’s so bent over it looks like it should be screaming ‘the bells, the bells’ from the church tower.

And then there’s the toothpaste, which raises a whole range of questions of its own.  Do I need tartar control? Is my tartar out of control? And how would I know if it is? You can even buy a toothpaste called Maximum Defence, which poses the question, why isn’t all toothpaste maximum defence?

I ended up getting a toothpaste which contained baking soda and peroxide – which is handy because I can also use it to make a cake rise, get the smell out of my fridge and get my hair the same colour as Dolly Partons. (Well, her wigs at least).

After all of that, if you think making a cup of tea and cleaning your teeth seems like too much trouble, then don’t even think about blowing your nose. Did you know that there are about 150 types of tissues on the market?

You can get tissues with menthol (keep them away from certain parts of your body, men), tissues with aloe vera (sounds like a British sitcom – ‘Allo Vera’), and those with vanilla and a twist of lemon.

There’s even hypo-allergenic ones, which made me think that before these hit the market, there were people allergic to tissues. Hmmmmm.

Frankly, sometimes you don’t want a huge range of options. When you’re standing in the supermarket in the middle of the night in your nightie and dressing gown, trying to deal with a cold, is one of those times.

And while we’re on the subject of colds, have you noticed when you get a cold these days, it’s never just a cold? I was sick recently and I spend every waking moment convinced I had bird flu.

It’s amazing how the common cold can turn the toughest of grown-ups into complete babies. I was hopeless.  In case you are wondering, when I ran the tissue gauntlet, I settled on a packet of Kleenex Anti-viral, which promised to kill 99% of cold and flu viruses.  I seriously contemplated swallowing a couple just to clean the thing off completely.

But what makes me really grumpy is that I can’t believe in this day and age, we still don’t have a cure for the common cold.  Our priorities are totally out of whack. I mean, we can put a man on the moon, but we can’t stop him from sneezing in his face mask!

Surely our brainy boffins should spend a little less time trying to fit a camera, an MP3 player and microwave oven into our mobile phones and a little more time trying to cure the cold.

Of course, there being no cure didn’t stop my friends suddenly thinking they had medical degrees. “You’ve got to eat more garlic” seemed to be popular.  Well, I did eat garlic tablets, garlic prawn, garlic mushrooms and garlic bread, but it didn’t prevent my cold. Instead I became completely immune to vampires.

“Have you taken some Echinacea?” Errr … no. Probably because I don’t know what the hell Echinacea is. It sounds like somewhere I would go on holidays, or something Bob Geldof would name one of his kids.

“Have you seen a naturopath?”  Ummm, should I? Honestly, naturopathy must be the easiest course in the world.  “OK, here’s all you need to know.

Regardless of what your patient is suffering from, just tell them to cut out dairy products and yeast. Okay, you’ve graduated.”

Anyway, finally after a week of sneezing and feeling sorry for myself, I dragged myself to the doctor, who took one look at me and said “Oh, you’ve got a common cold, it’s going around. You should go back to bed.”

Well, thank God, I got a medical opinion.  If it’s going around so much, perhaps they should call it ‘Lara Bingle flu’!!!  (Paris Hilton flu for all you non Aussies).

Luckily for me, my bout of flu didn’t coincide with my bad back. Because I would have rather been forced to stand in a cell at Guantanamo Bay than anywhere near my bed at home.  Yep, I experienced 6 weeks of the worst pain in my life.

So how did I injure my back? A failed audition for Dancing With The Stars? A hot and sweaty Lambada with Ricky Martin? Or did my ex finally get that voodoo doll to work?

No, sadly I just slept wrong. Yep, I’ll say that again for those of you in the cheap seats – I slept wrong. Now the question has to be asked – how bad are you when you can’t even sleep right.  Basically I went to bed straight and woke up bent. I went from the Eiffel Tower with love handles to the Leaning Tower of Kate! It’s not the first time I’ve been accused of leaning to the left, but it was the first time I could claim it on Medicare.

And have I mentioned that the pain was extraordinary?

To cut a long story short, I spend 6 weeks not being able to sit or lie down.  At least there wasn’t much pain when I stood up, so I more or less had to learn to do most things on my feet.  Needless to say, sleeping was a nightmare. I spent each night getting into more positions than they show in the Karma Sutra.

So what did I do to treat my buggered back? Well, as anyone who’s experienced the joy of back pain, will tell you, you reach the point of such desperation, that you’ll try anything for some relief.  Over that period, I had about twenty types of massage, and none of them had a happy ending.  I had physio, chiro, osteo, shiatsu, sports massage, and acupuncture. To be honest, if I had found a witch doctor who was willing to slaughter a goat a midnight to ease my pain, I probably would have signed up for that also.  I simply wanted the pain to stop.

Honestly 6 weeks of the worst pain I have ever felt.

In all my years, the pain and surgery and the way I’ve treated my body, when I meet my maker, I expect him to take one long look and refuse to give me back my bond.