Thursday, November 26, 2009


Four days of living on coffee and fancy hotel food is less than good for the system.

And it's amazing the amount of traffic in Sydney at midnight.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

On being cool, pretension and personal integrity

So it occurred to me this morning (in the car for a change), that being cool is all about the being able to conform with your subcultural norms effortlessly. Or at least so that it appears effortless from the outside to the other people in that subculture. I say this as a person who never was cool, partly because I never could quite decide which subculture I thought I should be part of while still desperately desiring the approval of people who seemed to occupy a consistent subcultural position. So I often came across as very, very pretentious as a young adult because I was desperately pretending to be something (anything) other than what I was. What I was pretending to be was someone who knew what kind of person they were. And I didn't.

At the same time, I desperately wanted to be an honest and decent person. I still do desperately want to be an honest and decent person but I feel like I compromise on things all the time. But it is much easier to live up to a sense of self when it actually comes from inside rather than outside. It's harder to be utterly pretentious when you are actually doing things that are important to you rather than feeling like you should do them because they are important to someone else. Of course.

And no insights here, but I'm dead sick of being given all these aspirations and coolnesses and false consciousness about what kind of person I should be to be a person worth something that have nothing to do with my idea of what is honest and decent. Or even stylish, for that matter. And I greatly dislike the future teenage years that the Noodle must face as he tries to negotiate all this stuff and every kid has to deal with it as best they can and best never seems quite enough.

And this post was inspired by Ampersand Duck's post on music of the 1980s and 1990s and what happened to her son last week and watching Spiderbait on Rage last night and thinking about all the time I spent as a yoof trying to figure out what other people thought so I could think it too, and how it is much nicer to be a grown up and just think stuff without second guessing every single second of the day and wondering 'am I good enough' all the time.

On the other hand, I really miss wearing flanno shirts in winter, and I had really, really good early 1990s hair.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Not remembering the past

Through Vanessa de Lacy's blog I found Lark, selling all kinds of witty and fun home make things. Including magnets made out of swap cards from the 1970s which makes me want to buy them very much and also makes me want to unpack my cardboard boxes full of stuff I never look at but shift from house to house to see if my very own swap cards are still in there or if my very own swap cards didn't make the cut some time in the past and if I did buy these magnets I would, in fact, be buying back my very own swap cards.

I think it's more likely that it's just that nearly everybody in the 1970s had the very same swap cards.

Vanessa also makes beautiful and covetable things and has a very fine visual Christmas list of things she would like for Christmas. Which makes me think I don't get out op shopping anywhere near enough any more. And that I have been looking at the wrong bits of the immensity of the web recently as well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In which it is hot on the bus

On Monday evening I was coming home from the Gender Rights are Human Rights* exhibition at the Legislative Assembly on the bus. Actually, imagine for a moment that I am stepping on to the bus, inserting my monthly ticket into the bip-beep machine and then sitting down on the side of the bus that I habitually sit on. I have consumed half a glass of sparkling red wine and two canapes (one chicken, one unidentified but tasty).

The bus is an airconditioned bus. But OH NO! The airconditioning is not working. It is hot on the bus. It may not be 37 degrees on the outside, my friends, but oh it most certainly is on the inside. The collection of young people, old people, poor people, people who fear driving and people who believe passionately in sustainable transport sigh heavily and droop.

Until a woman stands up and walks to the front of the bus. She says something inaudibly quiet to the bus driver. The bus driver says audibly loudly 'Oh, sorry!' and stands up and fiddles with some controls. The air begins, gradually gradually, to cool down. The bus driver (who has a separate airconditioning system over the seat) had put the heater on instead of the cooling. So.

How many trips had he made before someone commented? How many old, young, poor, fearful or passionate people fainted or sustained damage to their health? How long did it take to cool down? (I can answer that one, from Civic, across Commonwealth Bridge, down the avenue past Albert Hall and part way round the Circle). How apologetic was the bus driver? (a little bit, but not enough). And how sad and slightly angry was I when I hopped on my un-airconditioned bus on the way home from work this evening to find that it was even hotter than the bus with the heater on? Sigh.

*It's on until Friday if you can get there. You have to go through the security check at the front door of the Legislative Assembly, so remember to take your Swiss Army Knife out of your handbag before you go.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Junior book fan

The Noodle has started his own blog. Because why not?

It is called 'Books I Love by Eddie Nedwards' and it's in the sidebar over there under 'Books I Love'.

In case you don't guess he loves Harry Potter!!!!


In which I am happy to have the kind of life where one of these does not seem needful.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

On bookshelves and hypocrisy (or good stuff about Canberra)

Although I hasten to add that that the two are entirely unrelated.

The husband built bookshelves today! I am very impressed that I know someone who can build bookshelves. And in one day. I give you a little time to quietly marvel.

**** **** **** ****

The hypocrisy is about the national capital. I am thrilled and grateful to be living in a place with no traffic congestion or air pollution. I love the trees and space. But this, of course, means that the city is rather thinly spread. We don't have a lot of areas of high population density. The planning also means that employment centres are a lot more spread out than in most 'cities'. There's not one centre, there are several - round the Parliamentary area, Civic, Belconnen, Woden and Tuggeranong. Bottlenecks are rare.

But of course, it's exactly this which makes public transport impossible to run effectively or efficiently. So I take joy in the pleasure of a quiet, clean, well-serviced city and curse curse curse the slow and inconvenient bus system.

But hyprocisy is not the greatest luxury, actually. That would be the pleasure of not having to sit immobile in a car for an hour and a half on a so-called freeway twice a day every day. Oh I cannot tell you the pleasure it brings. Those of you living in congested cities probably notice every day how frustrating it is, but I can tell you, you don't know how badly it burns inside you, how much it weighs you down and makes your life incrementally less bearable until it stops.

Sigh of relief and relief again.

Now, after Paul Keating's anti-Canberra rant many of the locals (introduced and born-and-bred) argued that Canberra was quite nice actually, thanks for asking. Many of them mentioned the lack of traffic as a key benefit. Nay-sayers seized upon this as an indication of what a weakly and unappealing town we have. Nuh. What we have is a town where you can do what you like without the traffic interfering to make the journey hideous, to make every single thing you do every day somehow less pleasant to downright unbearable.

There are many, many delights about the heart of the nation. I live here in a kind of mood of wonder and ease. But the peace of being able to get about and do all the good stuff is certainly a part of it.

This may be the first of a random series called 'stuff I like about my town'. It won't be a hugely frequent series if it is dependent on the excitment of new furnitured, though.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Cake of Green

It is surrounded by the evidence of the husband's literary work habits, because we had to hide the cake in his study so that the Noodle would not spy it and lose the element of surprise. Please note the diverse use of jaffas and fruit sticks to enhance the decorative theme, the very green icing and the toasted coconut pitch. Very proudly I say, 'it could have been worse!'

Down Under Feminists Carnival No. 18

It's here at Wallaby.

I was very pleased and surprised to find myself collected in it. Hurrah.

Lots of good posts about caring and other stuff, including by the glorious Miz Lippy of Ramping it Up.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Junior and I have spent some of our valuable Saturday afternoon time watching the Rock Eisteddfod judging on the telly. I have had, I can tell you, qualms. Qualms about watching telly on a quite pleasant Saturday afternoon in which the Noodle's pliable and ever-developing brains will be Turned to Mush or his eyes will become Square. I think I am channelling my grandmother. If it was winter and we were sitting in front of the heater I could also channel my grandfather and worry about both of us Melting the Fat Around the Kidneys. But for spring this is, thankfully, not an issue.

But I am now qualm-free, because after the judging was over (congratulations to the school who did a mass-dance interpretation of the Grapes of Wrath and the second-place getter who provided a sensitive re-enactment of the Rosa Parks story) we went outside and did a bit of weeding. And the junior has now come up with a fully staged and choreographed performance about the evils of competition and war mongering. He has imagined costumes, musical genres, sets and props. The main characters are two queens striving for some kind of symbolic trophy, while they deplete the resources of their respective countries and allow all of their people to become either a) dead or b) destitute. The dancing is done mostly in mirror image to emphasise that the struggle is pointless, because the two groups are identical.

My idea was a re-enactment of the moon landing, because I thought it would be kind of funny to make kids dress up as astronauts and dance. The Noodle is a person of considerably greater spirit than me.

I never quite understood how people could possibly come up with the grandiose ideas that Rock Eisteddfod entrants seem to consider obligatory. Now I know. Some people just think like that, even when they are gardening. Telly may not, after all, Rot your Brain, but if you watch it you run the risk of Eisteddfod-think seeming somehow reasonable. It's a danger I had never before considered. I choose to see it as 'inspiration' and believe that watching telly in the day time causes the Noodle to be creative and vibrant.

Didn't see any spirit fingers, though.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Satire, or books that make you anxious

So here I am reading more Elizabeth Gaskell. Wives and Daughters, which is unfinished due to the death of the author (not in a metaphorical sense, she just died before she could finish it and also she had just bought a nice house to retire to with her overworked husband, which sounds hardly fair really).

The thing is that Gaskell makes gentle or not-so-gentle fun of many of her characters. Never as broadly as Jane Austen with, for example, Mrs Bennet. Gaskell's characters always have good and well-demonstrated reasons for being the way they are, for their good points and their faults and the ways they frequently grate upon each other's nerves. But unlike Austen, when you are reading about Gaskell's characters you can never be conveniently on the outside, pointing and laughing at the vulgarity of others. You cannot be Mr Bennet at all.

My overwhelming feeling when I am reading about Gaskell's characters is 'oh no, I hope I am not like that'. But fearing all the time that the vanity, pretension, selfishness and silliness are exactly what I am. I never, ever fear that I am like Lady Catherine or Mr Collins but I fear very much indeed that I am like Molly Gibson's selfish and manipulative step mother. I don't really know any other author who quite captures that fear and anxiety about self and uses it to propel the narrative along. The fear of doing wrong, and being seen to do wrong, is very strong in Gaskell's work. Jane Austen's characters either never think of it, or don't really notice that they have done wrong until it's all over and time to prettily repent. Gaskell's characters have to keep deciding to do right (or not to bother) over and over again.

It's clever and funny. But horrible.

(Some horrible people in real life have the same power of invoking 'oh no I'm not like that am I' as Gaskell's characters. I don't know how they do it, but it can infect even the most bubbly, the most serene and the most stable. It's some kind of negative gift, and could be used in warfare or at least espionage).

Monday, November 2, 2009


We've done our national duty by putting ignorant $2.00 each-way bets on horses running in the Melbourne Cup. The TAB are very helpful and have betting cards with 'Melbourne Cup' printed boldly on top so that ignoranties like us don't accidentally bet on the third race at Townsville instead.

We didn't pretend to know anything about horsies or gambling and went for the tried and true 'we liked the name' method, so all of us are betting on Mourilyan. The Noodle might get a place with Basaltico, but I think generally we are unlikely to hit the big time.

TAB was very crowded, but only a few fascinators in the crowd, alas.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Because humans do not live on cake and lollies alone

The Guardian reports that CERN might be churning out results (or ending the universe, which might be an intersting result for other universes out there) by Christmas. Wheeeeee!

I'll have to see if I start having my 'Switzerland disappears down a black hole and wonders how long it will take for the grass to stop growing' dream again this time.