Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Hope 2011 brings joy and satisfaction. And for those who already know that it'll bring some tough times, I wish you all love and blessings.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Invisible Things

So I now have a copy of Invisible Things by Jenny Davidson, and I am very much looking forward to catching up on Sophie's adventures in the northern lands.

However, the time of year and visitorage being what it is, I think that drinking, chatting and socialising are predicted, rather than reading.

I am sure all that socialising will make me a bigger amygdala, but I am itching to get into the book nonetheless.

Monday, December 27, 2010

In which I decide to stop living up to expectations

Especially the imaginary ones.

I am also trying to stop demanding that other people live up to my expectations, except those ones where it actually really matters to me. For example, I'm unlikely to compromise on my expectation that people not behave like selfish shitheads if their expectation is that they would like some company from me. I can manage that by just - going - away - because I can manage my own expectation of myself. I hope that this will make life a bit easier for those around me, as well as for me.

We had a really nice Christmas, that was entirely stress-free, however, because of point one up there about managing my own expectations of myself. Which is no doubt a Good Thing. It's nice to anticipate a resentment free new year.*

I am marrying this idea of self-expectations with Blue Milk's nice idea about how we easily get stuck in traditional grooves, how we can easily take the road in front of us that has been taken by so many people before, without having to think about it. And I think about it, I do, but the marketing is so strong, it's hard to change the expectations and hard not to look for the rewards. People display much more liking for you if you conform just at least a little bit, and it's tempting and habit-forming because we all like to be liked and approved of.

So taking a feminist approach to Christmas this year (in which I decided not to be responsible for organising everything and making all the choices) worked very well for the immediate family (who are generally with the program) but did attract some fairly disapproving commentary from people at work who wanted to know why I wasn't putting on the whole disaster, and they wondered who would do all the work and they didn't really understand when I said the aim was to enjoy Christmas as a family, without all that stressful stuff that made me angry and then spoiled the day for everyone else as well. And we still had plenty of treats and nice things and everyone got to do some of the work and no one felt resentful at all. And because I wasn't feeling responsible for everyone else's happiness, we all just did things that made us happy and that was fine.

But here I am, still feeling like I have to explain myself, because some people clearly thought I was doing the Wrong Thing, and I hate not living up to expectations and I hate it when people disapprove of me. Back to the start again.

In other breaking news, I can tell you that Eton Mess is a most delicous and easy dessert to make with leftover individual pavlova shells. If you also happen to have leftover cream and leftover delicous berries. It does look kind of disgusting, though.

*Astute readers might imagine that the new year may not be entirely resentment free. Perhaps it will be more resentment lite.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Oh Boxing Day, Oh Boxing Day

Christmas Day was very nice, because it was like your usual Boxing Day, but without the cricket. We ate tasty cold food, sat around in the backyard, played with our new toys and stayed home all day.

Athough it did feel Quite Strange not festively visiting and handing out pressies to all and sometimes sundry. And the whole no-cooking thing meant there was lots of time to fill in (with no cricket on the telly). So it was lucky that people had books to read and sticky mitts to play with in the backyard and a new explorer sock-based form of french cricket (that also involved bonus points for hitting the husband on the head with the sock).

So it wasn't completely cricket free, I suppose, if you accept that cricket can be played with two plastic scoops, a rolled up sock and a boundary represented by a supine husband.

Boxing Day looks like being exactly like Boxing Day, including the cricket. First wicket down already good heavens.

Hope you have a lovely Boxing Day wherever you may be, even if you don't believe in the holiness of the Boxing Day Test.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oh Christmas Eve, Oh Christmas Eve

So we have a fridge full of no-cooking-required tasty treats, the husband vacuumed the floor, I had a tasty lunch with my co-workers before being sent home for shut down (aka the Christmas/New Year break) and I have had a big chat my my Mum.

Parcels have been posted.

There are many interesting-looking parcels under our Christmas tree, and our three foot high Father Christmas mannikin has been joined by a golden, plastic bust of Ho Chi Minh. We have wise, bearded fellows covered in our living room.

The fairy lights are fairly untidy.

I am looking forward to watching a Very Specky Christmas.

Good will to all etc. Hope you have a lot of fun with the puddings and the presents and the carols if that is your kind of things, and I hope you have fun with whatever else you enjoy should those not be your kind of things. Drive safely. Eat safely. Converse with your loved ones safely.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Right, whichever one of you invented contracts is in big trouble if it turns out there is an eternal afterlife.

Big, big trouble.

Likewise whoever wrote 'heretofore' in my template. Although you are probably still alive and will be in trouble whatever the metaphysical nature of the post-death universe.

I will not speak further of the person in the subaru four wheel drive. You know what you did.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


All parcels are exciting, but my grandpa wraps them in brown paper with string, and they are the most exciting-looking parcels of all.

He does stoop to using sticky tape these days, be he doesn't have to, you know.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Yesterday's pleasant things

Young people with wicker baskets and tartan blankets off to picnic in the rose gardens.

Butterflies in the pelargoniums.

The new national gallery entrance (again).

Sunshine and a cool breeze.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Going to Sydney tomorrow. Expecting to return with all body parts, thank you very much, if that's all right, Universe-Man.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A bad act is a bad, act, even if done by a person who has done good things as well

Still Life with Cat quotes Ken Gelder on Julian Assange.


Slugs in the saucepan cupboard last week. Slugs on the kitchen ceiling this week. Unsurprised by slugs in the letterbox.

Feeling sluggish, but not because of the slugs. Slugs make me move faster, not slower.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


School concert postponed due to rain. Could irrigate a cotton field with the resulting tears. If it wasn't already flooded, obviously.

Friday, November 26, 2010

MIss Judgementy Judgement pants, small dogs, roads and children

Hoyden about Town has this post about shoving kids and dogs in the car from the footpath side for safety, instead of from the driver's side for convenience.

I would like to add that it is not a good idea to give Very Small Children control of several Very Small Dogs on extendable leashes near Very Busy Roads while you are talking on a mobile phone and not actually paying attention to what your Very Small friends and relations are doing. Because when the Very Small Dogs lurch out on the road from between parked cars, the Very Small Children will not evaluate the situation and sensibly decide what to do but will immediately run out onto the road in pursuit of the dogs.

Which is not nice if you happen to be in the car driving along the road at that particular time. But luckily the person driving my car (who was my Dad) noticed. Which the mother did not, because all her attention was on her phone call. It may have been a Very Important phone call, indeed, it probably was. But surely she could have stayed safe in the grounds of the school until she had finished rather than exposing children and dogs to risk of death. I guess she will not have learned her lesson, because she didn't notice that her dogs and children were on the road. One of the other children dragged them all back.

I guess if my Dad had been driving at the speed limit rather than considerably under it and if he had been looking the other way she would have learned her lesson, and we would all be having a Very Bad Day indeed today. I hate close calls.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Organising the perfect party, or in which the Age is annoying

The Age is running this article on how to organise the perfect party. I like to hear about people having a nice time, so I clicked on the linkie (despite the b00bies in the picture which pissed me off, because the article is not titled, 'how to show a lady's b00bies for no good reason', but if I got angry every time the Age had a pointless b00bie picture I'd be angry all the time. Oh I am angry all the time about that. The Age, you should do better). Anyway, the article is actually about how to buy boring matching plates and taking your boring plates to the florist so you can get matching boring flowers. That you pay lots of money for, I guess. Apparently if anyone gets the odd plate it will Ruin Their Night.

All I can say is that Age lifestyle journalists must be attending and hosting very boring parties these days, and if you get invited to a party by an Age lifestyle journalist I would suggest you politely decline.

If I was organising a perfect party this is what I would like:
  • guests who are funny and a little bit competitive but not too competitive, so you can have plenty of amusing anecdotes flying but everyone gets to finish their sentences
  • outdoorsyness
  • food with protein in it
  • lots of water available (either for drinking when thirsty or for using in waterpistols)
  • children who can entertain themselves in the backyard
  • grownups who can entertain themselves in the backyard
  • icypoles
  • music that comes on vinyl with things like 'Brazil' and '66' on the cover. But not including Bob Dylan and 66 (unless the party has already been going for a very long time and is nearly over)
  • fruit
  • people who like to sing along (but not competitively for this, please). People who like to sing the Love Boat theme are particularly welcome)
  • Parlour Games available if needed, with a suitable number of guests willing to play parlour games and be quite competitive indeed
  • a friendly and very old neighbour who enjoys a party
  • a jazz band
  • diverse beverages
  • things that the guests enjoy eating, drinking and doing.
See, tableware just doesn't really come into it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In which we find homework that is due today, today.

Or, in which being a parent and a child is equally much a drag, and in which being a primary school teacher is also probably pretty irritating.

Also the kid is having an MRI today, which is a bit daunting, and he is also having one tomorrow. As a family I think we would be grateful for another medical-free period for six months or so. And also a homework free period. It is lucky that it is nearly school holiday time and the husband will come back and the kid can laze about reading as much as he wants with not adverse consequences.

However, on the upside, the silverbeet is looking very vigorous and none of the new plants have died yet so there is thyme and tomatoes and basil and rocket to look forward to. If only we had a buffalo and and olive tree we'd be totally set.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Wanda Linda

As she says, I am just not in the mood. And also shut up shut up shut up. I think I need a time out.

The kid is sulking in my bed, but it's a well-earned sulk, I think.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The other family member

You can find out what the husband is up to at Strange in Vietnam.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Nurses move softly on sensible shoes. Doctors are herd beasts and clatter on hooves. Patients are territorial, and so never move.

Home again, home again

The kid and I are home in Canberra again, although we had rather expected to be in Melbourne this evening after a week in Sydney.

My appendix had different views. The kid was not impressed to see another holiday spoiled by rushing-to-hospitalness, but pleased it was not him being rushed to hospital for a change.

It feels pretty good having no appendix.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Family, a speech by Benjamin Law

Benjamin Law gave the keynote speech at the Family Relationship Services Association Conference this year. I think you should all go and read it. I hope Crikey lets you read it for free.

I went to that conference last year, but this year I didn't. Rotten timing.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Nothing to report

The thing about not catching the bus is that I don't think of random things to think about as much. I am at home or somewhere I like instead, so I think about that, and then I do it instead of blogging about it.

I am, fingers crossed, going to be doing some children's book stuff next year. Wish me luck (and good organisational skills).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Another day, another cake wrecks moment

So it's the weekend and the kid and I managed to do the shopping at Woden and I tidied up the house and the kid read Dilbert, Drowned Ammet and other stuff and I think the telly might be broken but I don't care and the kid hasn't noticed yet. It probably isn't broken, but with all the cords and things attached to it and the 'no picture' kind of thing when I turn it on and try out all the different remotes and buttons and switches and there's still 'no picture', you know, it might as well be.

I might have to ask a Young Person TM to come and help. Also I don't know how to do superscript in this blog environment.

For some reason that made me think of Jean Luc Picard, so maybe I am feeling a little tired.

I tried to ice the kid's birthday cake for his party tomorrow. It's supposed to look like this. It doesn't. The icing slid right off the little swiss rolls, so it looks like naked swiss rolls in a snaky short of shape, with a lake of lime-green icing around the botton of it. Perhaps it could be meant to be the train in Spirited Away when it travels over the flood waters. If the flood waters were lime-green and if the train were made out of eight mini swiss rolls. Which it isn't, really.

The snake was supposed to be a gesture to The Keys to the Kingdom. Instead, it is a gesture to lack of faith in my own judgement. I knew the icing was too runny, but I'd followed the recipe so I trusted them. And if that doesn't sum up my entire life, I don't know how to sum up my entire life in a cake-fiasco metaphor.

Tomorrow we will be off to Michel's Patisserie for a nice mud cake with 'Happy Birthday' written on it.

Also, we are supposed to be having the party at the local playground at lunch time. Storms and high winds are predicted for late morning or
noon. It seems likely the party will be in our living room, so I have cleared out some extra chairs and tried to make space. I think I will need to rely on Parlour Games for Modern Families to see me through.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

9.55 am, Day 2

The shine is starting to wear off. Mostly because of trying to go shopping at Woden, but I did pull off my first parking in a parking station effort. No damage to humans, concrete or paintwork. However, I can tell you a handy hint, which goes like this: it is quite helpful to take the hand brake off before you try to drive out of the car park.

It is not sunny today either, and I have been shopping for the kid's birthday party on Sunday and it's frankly a bit difficult and stressful and why can't you just buy an ordinary bucket at the supermarket any more? I still need to buy the sausages, which means I have to go to the shops again on Saturday and it's much harder to get mini-swiss rolls than it used to be and I had to buy the chocolate kind (but that's what I get from not being a birthday-cake-from-scratch kind of mum, now isn't it?)

I did give the man at the service station a bit of a chuckle when I bought 4 very large sponges though, and a set of P plates.

Coming up today, in my new theme of Me Me Me, I have personal training in the park with my lovely colleague, and later I am going to pick up a friend of the husband's to baby sit the kid tonight while I go out to a Trivia night with 300 of my closest friends from the Best Department Evah. I have never been to a trivia night before, so I am quite excited. We bought tickets to a kindy fundraising one once, but then we didn't go because of some disaster or other. You know.

As well as remembering to collect the kid from school, of course. This driving malarkey is just too odd for words. Tomorow I am going to the library to do some research after I drop the kid off. Because if I don't get some done my head will start oozing random bits of story ideas and it will look like a very nasty discharge because it is all still gooey in my head. I need some thickener in the form of facts.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Temporary stay-at-home Mum

I'm enjoying this at 10.18 am of day one. So far I have gotten the kid ready for school, driven him to school (with only one swear word), had a coffee and planned out some avenues for my research over the next few days, done three loads of washing, vacuumed the dining room and living room, cleaned up the kitchen and emailed the husband back at KLIA airport where he is presently waiting for his next flight to Hanoi.

The rest of the day will include chores, reading the latest Phryne Fisher novel, collecting the kid and cooking dinner (insofar as reheating frozen soup constitutes cooking).

All the work that usually goes towards implementing government policy is going towards implementing a nice life for the kid and me. Thus far, fun. I'll post again tomorrow and let you know how it's progressing.

Parlour games variations - Topper and On the Bright Side

So a while ago I raved about Parlour Games for Modern Families, which is full of fun games to play that are not attached to the telly or the computer. The kid got a Wii for his birthday, and he really loves it, but it's good to see that he is also enjoying the more drawing room style of entertainment.

This evening we have invented two variations to 'It could be worse'. In 'It could be worse' you have the first person say something bad, like 'the house burned down' and the next person has to say 'it could be worse, the cat could've been killed' and so on until it gets really ramped up to terrible things. I have a hard time stopping the junior from immediately leaping to 'the universe exploded' but we have a lot of fun.

One of our variations is based on a character from Dilbert, the 'Topper' who can always top a story with some self-aggrandising version of his own. Each player has to top the story of the last player. It's very funny. So you can start with 'I went for a really long walk yesterday' and end up with someone on the moon, or you can start with 'My ankle is really sore' and end up with, well, probably with 'the universe exploded', but maybe with shattered legs, body parts scattered over half of Switzerland and an urban myth about ski lifts.

The other variation is 'On the bright side', in which one player starts with a bad thing happening, and the next player has to come up with a bright side. I don't think there is any winning but it is very funny (and potentially good practice for certain kinds of discussions that come up with certain kinds of relatives over Christmas).

The other thing that happened today is that the husband departed for Vietnam and he won't be back for eight weeks. It's quite the thing, I can tell you. If you have a Topper or an 'On the bright side' for me on that topic, I would be happy to have them.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

We're all going on a something holiday

Something, something for a week or two. Or four or so.

So that means only fielding questions from junior for quite some time. No phone calls or emails asking questions about stuff, stuff and more stuff.

I already fear how many emails there will be upon my return.

But hopefully a few weeks of tooling about in the National Library and going to the beach in Sydney and eating cake on Acland Street and things like that will make me forget all the other stuff. Not forget it forever, though, or I will become an 'inefficient use of Commonwealth resouces' after my return to work. That would be bad. I fear that nearly as much as I fear causing my Minister to mislead Parliament through a moment of inattention. That would be really, really bad. The only thing worse than that is the fear of missing out on the sausage rolls at divisional morning tea again. That would be really, really, really bad. I haven't had one for weeks.

The life of a public servant, very tough, I tells you, very tough indeed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Books with girls

This week the kid is reading (with no guidance or recommendation from me) Anne of Green Gables and When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. I am extremely pleased to see, at nearly nine, that he is refuting that old and hoary chestnut that boys won't read books where the main character is a girl. Both of the covers are extremely pink and coded 'girl' in terms of the design. He has read When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit before, but he decided he would like to buy it for keeps today.

Of course, his other favourite literature presently is Dilbertcomics, so he may not represent a 'typical' sample. On the other hand, very few children are typical and it annoys me when people make generalisations and then speak about them as if they are the truth and then they get annoyed when someone doesn't fit into their narrow little regime. Not as much as it annoys me when people tell a bookseller that their kid is a 'bad reader' in front of the kid, but nearly as much.

Junior's other purchase for the week, with his very own savings, was a new cricket bat because the old one fell to pieces. He has bashed a lot of cricket and tennis balls in the past two years, more than a stick of willow can stand, apparently.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

General thinkiness

Having lots of fun researching Melbourne in 1937. It is so familiar and so strange at the same time. I keep finding myself shocked about what is there and what is not there.

The ACT library has introduced this new automated system with a card-activated chute, so when you put your books inside the chute, they are automatically checked back in. The chute is slow - a little door opens up each time for every single book, and a conveyor belt sucks them inside. The chute will not accept books that are not checked out on your card, which results in eager-to-return-library-books patrons standing around looking foolish and confused. And angry and impatient. The library thinks I have about 8 books and 2 DVDs out presently, but it's not true. The husband who is very helpful tried to return them but it just didn't work. The books are in the library, but the library doesn't know. Disaster. Not a good incentive for high library patronage.

The kid got ready for bed too quickly.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

What I did on the weekend - a visit to the National Gallery of Australia

The National Gallery of Australia has recently opened a new entrance and new Indigenous galleries. It's quite the innovation. Until the new door was completed, you had to kind of park at the back, wend your way through either a) a carpark or b) a sculpture garden then either up a) two sets of escalators, b) very steep steps, c) a very steep ramp or d) push a button and wait for a security guard to come and let you use a lift. Options a) to d) were all Very Bad Options should you be with someone a) in a pusher, b) in a wheelchair, c) using a walking frame or d) generally a bit rickety. Not helped by the attitude of the staff and volunteers of the gallery, who after you actually made it inside, would rush upon you if you happened to be assisting someone (eg carrying a child or having someone hold on to you) to tell you loudly and aggressively that you weren't allowed to do that in the gallery, because you might damage the Art. They say Art with a definite capital. At which point a fairly large part of my brain would have liked to, quite loudly and aggressively, tell them to take their Art and stick it up their A***. But I never did, because I do believe people generally should not fling children or people recovering from cancer at Art, because it does neither the people nor the Art any good whatsoever, unless you are an experimental performance artist but not a very nice one.

So today, the new door way was quite astoundingly at ground level, so you could park your car and, you know, walk to the door and then walk in. There appeared to be parking for people with disabibility stickers actually right next to the bit of footpath nearest the door. You'd almost be forgiven for thinking that they really actually wouldn't quite mind if some people went in and looked at the Art. So we did, and the new galleries at the front are really very fabulous, with such other innovations as Enough Light to See the Art*, Enough Space to See the Art, and Art that You Actually Might Enjoy Seeing. A+ to the person who told the gallery folk that Art can, in fact, be a Fun Thing to See and that people might like to actually see it.

I am willing to admit I have been utterly spoiled by the attitude of the Queensland Art Gallery and its new off-shoot the Gallery of Modern Art. I like old-QAG better than I like the new-QAG/GOMA art complex, ironically because I think the new set up has a teensy bit too much light on a sunny day. There's also the minor problem about how you either get wet or sunburned when walking between the two galleries, but that's a nice excuse to stop of and see what's going on in the kid's space at the Queensland State Library, so no biggy.

The thing about QAG is, they give every impression of wanting people (including children, rickety people and people who are not likely to speak in Hushed and Awed tones of the impasto or the impetigo or whatever) to, you know, look at the art. They also like to encourage people to make art, laugh at art, think about art, buy art in the art shop and generally be as art-friendly as possible. I suppose if you are a person who thinks that art is only there to be discussed in hushed and awed tones, this is probably very annoying. But for those of us who think that publicly funded art galleries have an obligation to include the public, it's definitely a plus.

*Before any of you get all curatorial on my bottom, I know that some art does need very low light for very good reasons. I applaud the care they take in looking after such art. But in other galleries such as the Musee D'Orsay or the Ian Potter Gallery you can generally tell if you are looking at flowers or a face. This being able to tell the difference oddly enhances the art-viewing experience for ignorant art goers such as myself. I also like knowing what colour of something I am looking at and being able to have a punt at what it might be made of without having to read the didactic panel. I also like being able to read the didactic panel. I love saying 'didactic panel' as well, in case you hadn't already noticed. It's didactic and it's a panel!

Friday, October 15, 2010


At least the abundant snails happily carry out their adventures outside. The slugs, it seems, like to come inside.

I don't much like slugs. They lack the cheerful curiousity of snails. And, well, they're slugs. I dislike them less than I dislike leeches. No, I fear them less than I fear leeches, I think I dislike them almost as much.

Generally, I never thought about slugs until I lived in a house in Fitzroy. Quite a lot of Very Big Slugs thought they lived there too, and they often seemed to think it in the middle of the night at about the same time I thought it would be a nice time to go to the toilet.

The toilet was in the backyard, so there were robust and outdoorsy snails as well, which I didn't mind until the night I stepped on one while my feet were only wearing my mum's old pink fluffy hockey socks.

I didn't have slippers because I was enduring rent stress, and preferred to spend any surplus on beer. Which probably explains why I needed to go to the toilet in the middle of the night.

Slugs. And snails. Our slimy neighbours.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Stuck there in Melbourne again

In which I am surprised that there are not more Dan and Al videos on YouTube, and I am reminded of how recent this whole putting things on the intertubes thing really is (and how old I really am).

In which I wish I was indeed stuck in Melbourne again, although I was bloody glad to get out of there back in the day. And I made it all the way north to Queensland but I don't think Dan Warner's lyrics had anything to do with it.

In which the kid and the husband and I are all feeling slightly dismal being away from loved ones in other towns.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010





Saturday, October 9, 2010

News from France

We had news from one of the many bits of blood the kid left behind in Sydney when the rest of him came home. This bit has been to Paris, and Parisian researchers have had a dashed good look at it. You can imagine them looking like the young Alain Delon if you like, or perhaps like Julie Delpy. They probably don't look like that,but we probably won't ever meet them, so we can think what we like.

The blood has DNA in it. The DNA tells the researchers that the kid does have some kind of interruption in a gene. The gene is a gene that other children who have had rhabdomyolysis have a disruption in as well, but not the same kind of disruption*.

On the one hand the information is completely useless. Taking care of the kid does not change a bit, we need to make sure he does not get fatigued, does not get too hot or too cold, does not lack for carbohydrates. We need to make sure that if he becomes ill we seek help and maybe extra intravenous fluids. He will need a lot of patience with a lot more medical attention that a kid would choose.

But it tells us something we didn't know. It's not just a coincidence. It's a particular thing. They still don't know, I guess, if it's linked to other things, but this thing, this propensity to rhabdoymyolysis, needs to be managed independently. Which is useful to know. Also, if they keep doing research, we'll know if it's relevant to us, and to what extent, so that is potentially helpful too.

And it's one of the few clear bits of information we've had. So even if it's not helpful, it's still good to know something instead of guessing and surmising and wondering everything.

Also, it means that a little tiny bit of the kid has been to Paris recently, which can't be a bad thing now can it?

*For some reason this sounds to me like the lyrics to a Billy Bragg song.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Last Airbender

For a film filled with clunky, declamatory exposition, this turned out to be quite diverting. The kid found parts of it frightening, but wanted to keep watching.

The fellow playing the Fire Bender prince was frankly a bit too high quality for the rest of the action, but the others were pleasant enough to spend some time with. Not so much the water bending princess, who seemed to have popped over from gossip girls and had a more than unusually unfortunate hair style in her first scene. I did like the glowing fish - always a positive.

Another positive, the father in this film is so horrendous that it will make parents look really, really good to their children.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Things that mildly annoyed me today

A toilet roll hanging on the coat hook in the toilet at work so I had nowhere to hang my jacket.

People talking at the next desk when I had stayed back late at work to get work done without being interrupted by people talking.

The way my thigh muscle went 'twang' while attempting to sprint (aka lumber).

Feeling dead tired for no good reason (except for the beautiful spring weather).

Otherwise, a very sound day with a wholesome bread roll for lunch, lovely company and an occasional sense of achievement.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A bit of a cake wrecks moment (no photos, alas)

This weekend the family held a 90th birthday party for my Grandpa. I don't think he liked it much. Like a grumpy teenager, he hung around with his mates from down the pub and avoided cousins. But we all had a good time.

I pretty much strategically only spoke to cousins I like, so that was very nice. And to great aunts. Nothing like a bit of great-auntage to make an afternoon enjoyable, I say. To be frank, none of us in my generation are particularly clear how we are all related, so choosing who to be related to on the basis of entertaining conversation seems valid enough.

My mum organised everything, including copious afternoon tea catering, the bowls club location and so on. Decorations were provided by my brother (balloons, streamers, big silver number 90s), but put up by my mum.

My brother also ordered the cake. The woman who took the order told him in great detail all the great stuff that was going to be on there, including the words 'Happy Birthday'. When Mum went to collect in on Saturday it was a plain, brown rectangle. The woman's excuse for not doing a single decoration on the cake was "I'm not very good at cake decorating". Ahem.

Well, no. Not precisely good at customer service or honesty, perhaps, either, but she appears not to have noticed that. Luckily my mother (who has been practising fierceness on the Labor Party) insisted on a refund, and found another suitable cake and someone who could put stuff on it (white chocolate swirls, and a white choclate name-platey kind of thing with appropriate Happy Birthday messages). I wish she'd taken a photo of the plain cake.

Although frankly, after the mini-chocolate mousses and the individual pavlovas, birthday cake was frankly a daunting option. Luckily we ate some for dinner, so that was OK.

I gave a speech, which was neither amusing nor touching. Grandpa gave a speech which was droll. He's so frequently grumpy, it's easy to forget how funny he can be.

I think he was glad we'd all made the effort, but he would have preferred the whole thing to happen without him actually having to turn up.

When I turn 90, I'll meet you all down the pub, eh.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

For those days when you are feeling more sophisticated than a trifle eater.

But when you still feel the need for comfort blogging. This patisserie blog will also amaze, delight and occasionally horrify. I am addicted. It's lucky that all the pastries are in Paris, and I am not. I can't imagine I could afford very many of them, I suppose, anyway.

I found it via David Lebovitz, which is also a wonderful place to visit if you are feeling all Francophile and hungry.

I love food blogs.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Love is a battlefield

Apparently Pat Benatar is coming to Australia. Whoaoaoaoaoao. We are strong.

Do you think she still shakes her womanly bosom at men who threaten her in bars?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A self of one's own

Work continues on maintaining one's self, in relation to one's self, rather than only in relation to external things (even very close and beloved external things such as child and husband, or life-sustaining and useful external things, such as work).

Of course, it may be rather self-ish, I don't deny.

Things that I have been doing:
  • personal trainer with a colleague at work (one of those colleagues with whom there is such sympathy that I hope she becomes a proper friend)
  • belly dancing with a colleague who is quite bossy, but very funny company
  • attending trivia night next week (with work colleagues - anyone seeing a pattern here?)
  • study (which is actually kind of work related I suppose, a lot really)
  • reading.
Things I have not been doing:
  • writing (except for blogging).
  • spending time maintaining non-work friendships with non-electronically connected friends in far-flung places (ie places where I used to live but don't any more).
  • making non-work friends.
A person is starting to feel a big head of researching and writing steam building up. If I don't write it could get nasty. If I do write it could get nasty.

I need an exercise book.

At work I am acting up. I love that it's called that. I am being a person who is a person who gets paid more than I get paid to do responsible work. Despite trying to find a successful and integrated self generally, it's quite fun to pretend to be someone else for a while, and get paid more to do it as well. Also, it gives me more confidence about my work than you might think. I like being a person who is considered a responsible person.

One day I promise I will write about something that isn't myself.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

So because I've been lying around in bed recovering from being sick, I've had time to think. I'm starting to think that having time to think isn't such a great thing, actually. It gives the opportunity to think about things you'd rather not think about. I like denial as a life strategy (except in other people, then it's just annoying).

What I've been thinking about is fairness and hospital and the kind of life you'd choose to live if you could and privilege and luck. The kid is feeling righteously pissed of at the moment because his illness means he won't be going to Vietnam (and I have been feeling a bit begrudging about that too I must say). And then he has been teary at the unfairness of it all and why why why and so on. And this morning we were thinking about that (while having coffee at the Fyshwick Markets - I recommend the cheap bakery) and I was thinking about how lucky we actually are, because here we are with clean water and healthcare and abundant food and leisure time and I have a job that both gives me generous leave and lets me use it and here we all are together.

Then, of course, I started giving the kid a lecture on why the healthcare system in the United States is really, really unfair, but the husband stopped me before I made him cry, so that was good. And then we bought the vegetables.

Other things I have been thinking about is this whole hospital thing (in the context of realising how bloody amazing the care available to the kid is and so on). It is a very strange thing to sit there and let all kinds of people do all kinds of painful things to the kid. He is strongly of the opinion that the cure is worse than the disease. Except for the bit with the painkillers when he was in lots of pain. He approved of that bit.

This last time in hospital has opened up all kinds of opportunities for reflection, because there were no life-threatening moments this time. The doctors all took the kid's health very seriously*, they were very assertive in treating his rhabdomyolysis and they were also very responsive to his personality and his anxieties. So in one way it's incredibly reassuring - we can go through this kind of experience without it having to be as frightening and hideous as the first time and we won't be left on our own panicking. It also helps having things happen in your own language, of course.

On the other hand it's very daunting, because it means that people who really know stuff (unlike us who operate on a mixture of second-hand knowledge and fear) were really, really worried as well. I would prefer over-care than under-care but O, it's not a good feeling knowing that the kid might need it one day and we'll never know when (fingers crossed for never, ever again, of course).

Now the kid is pretty much back to normal, or would be if he would blow his nose a time or two and clear the snot out. Urk. He's still slightly more tired than normal, but is getting around and running again and all that good stuff.

I don't have an ending, because that's how it feels. It just runs on into life.

*As evidenced by the air ambulance flight to Sydney, and the expression on the face of the neurologist and the fact that an intensive care team was waiting for us in Emergency, just in case. Blessed be them, and thankful unto infinity that we didn't need them.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Live Grand Final Blogging

2.30 pm - Brisbane isn't in the Grand Final.

3.19 pm - Brisbane still isn't in the Grand Final.

4.14 pm - No change.

5.27 pm - Turns out that Collingwood and St Kilda had as much chance as winning the Grand Final as Brisbane. Astonishing.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The sound of slightly strained silence

Strained throat, that is. I seem to have collected a virus.

Of course, I've had some kind of sore throat every September since we moved to Canberra, but this one totally wins the sore throat thoroughness award. I keep just clocking off to sleep without realising it as well. Swallowing, oh the horror.

I am very bored, but I suspect the family are quite happy with the quiet, sleeping version of me (for a day or two at least).

I have to go to work on Monday, or I will incovenience several people who really don't deserve it, so please send all kinds of rapid healing thoughts Canberra-wise.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

On being in hospital, from the horse's mouth

Actually, from the typing fingers of the kid.

We visited his paediatrician today, who read out the notes from our last visit 2 months ago which said, 'good progress, no need to see again for 12 months unless unexpected complications'. Hah to that. Otherwise he was no earthly use, except to arrange follow up tests and look mildly chagrined and chuckle at the kid's jokes.

We have cancelled our Vietnam tickets. The husband will still go, but the self and the offspring will not. I can't face this sort of thing there right now. And also I don't think any medical insurer in the land would be putting up their hand to insure us. ('Pick me, pick me - I love throwing shareholder's money away' I hear them shout, as they shove and push each other like movie bridesmaid's at the throwing of the bouquet. I didn't throw my bouquet, because I liked it and wanted to keep it, which made no sense at all because I was leaving for Vietnam the next day, and even gum leaves and flannel flowers don't survive for three weeks on their own once cut and bouqet-ed).

This morning I did the most boring work ever, including the time I stuffed 10,000 envelopes and the beer machine job where I put rows of plastic cups under a beer tap and pushed a button which filled four plastic cups full of a brand of beer I would never, ever drink. I am glad my work is not usually like that, because I would have to creep under my desk in the restful dark for a while, and that is obviously a bit odd and unhelpful for career prospects.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Luckily there's a damn fine post about what's it like in a hospital ward with kids and other families over at Ramping It Up, so I don't have to write about it.

I love you other bloggers, doing my work for me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So much to say, so little to say it with

The words, they are not interested in coming today. And I don't feel like making them.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Big day at our house.

The husband cleaned the kitchen while I postponed cleaning the bathroom. I did manage to cook a roast (with tasty red wine sauce) and chocolate mousse. The great thing about tasty red wine sauce is the left-over tasty red wine. A sip or two has been just the ticket after a rather trying week.

The kid progresses extremely well. Yesterday morning he could not sit up by himself, and today he was sitting at this very computer playing computer games. He sat up for his breakfast and dinner, but took his luncheon reclining.

This morning he needed help to balance when walking, but can now manage by himself, although slightly teetery). He stepped up three steps this afternoon with only minimal help. It's hard to believe that he could not move his legs at all at the start of the week and was in such pain that he needed quite serious pain relief from the hospital.

His spirits remain high, so long as there are novels, card games and computer games available. He is keen to get back to school.

On other fronts, it seems we now have a proper government with ministers and everything, so it'll be a good time to get back to the Best Department Evah, although it won't be for a few days yet because the kid still needs monitoring and therapy and has lots of follow-up appointments this week.

And now I wish I had eaten a bit less dinner. Ow.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Update on the kid

Well, here we are in the glorious metropolis of Sydney, where the kid was transferred on Sunday night. Neurologists, it seems, can be nervous nellies just like rest of us (although presumably they know which particular nerves are involved). The kid is fine and so on, but the specialists wanted him close to hand just in case. He is improving like anything and is expressing firm views on everything. He is eerily cheerful, though. I think lying in bed with as many books to read as possible and an assortment of random science information as his 'schoolwork' is pretty much his dream life anyway. If only there was cricket on TV as well.

I also managed to negotiate the shower on the ward this morning, so I am also feeling pretty good (and so are the nurses' noses no doubt). The kid is expressing irritation that he needs to keep cleaning his teeth, even though in hospital.

The husband is taking the night shift tonight, having driven over from the heart of the nation this morning. I am going to the hotel to have a beep-free sleep and a proper shower.


The Kid - everything on the planet including Samurai Kids (again), The Lives of Christopher Chant, The Silver Chair, Horrible Histories, Nanny Piggins again (glad to hear others are finding it hilarious as well), random science facts.

Me - hard to tell, because every time I start reading I wake up ten minutes later snoring and drooling.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Little bit sick

The little bit sick kid is spending a few days in hospital - he seems to be fine but they are taking a cautious approach because of his history and existing condition. Hopefully we'll all be home tomorrow.

I'm taking a short break at home to have a shower and eat some food and get that weird hospital taste out of my mouth, and then I'll be back while the husband takes a break this afternoon. The kid has run out of books to read, so I have to get back pretty quickly. I stayed last night, and I can tell you, the fold out bed is enough to damage your back to levels requiring hospitalisation in itself.

Nice nurses, one major spillage incident (apple juice, soapy water, clean towels), no coffee allowed on the wards!!! The apple danishes at the downstairs cafe are flakey delights, the coffee is close to vile.

Kid is in good spirits, but a bit fed up. He does not see the value in Cartoon Network.

Lucky I got my licence last week, eh.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sick,sick of waiting

Little to report.

Work goes on in its bizarre, no-government kind of way. The list of things that needs to be done when the government comes back grows ever longer. We hope and hope that we'll have a decision soon so we can get started on it. The luxury of time is becoming a burden on us all.

The kid is a little bit sick today. Which rather spoiled our father's day plans, so the husband will have to be content with a modified day and very minimal presentage.

Plus the weather is rather extreme, so I have not yet exercised my right to drive unaccompanied.

But we haven't had an earthquake. So that's nice for us.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


A person has earned the legal right to drive a motor vehicle. Will have relevant piece of plastic tomorrow morning.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Crown of the Dalemark

The kid is so absorbed in Crown of the Dalemarkthat he brought it shopping with him, read it in the car, read it while the husband (who was severely caffeine depleted) and I drank coffee, read it while walking around the fruit shop and kept on reading while I paid for the green groceries. He read it in the car on the way home, and is presently reading it ostentatiously spread across an arm chair.

Every so often he surfaces to provide commentary on the action and to express his amazement at diverse turns of event.

He is such a satisfactory reader, he becomes so engaged with the characters and stories that I wish authors could see him go at it. I think they would be very gratified. The authors I would invite to watching-the-kid-read-their-books sessions would be Diana Wynne Jones, Garth Nix and Sandy Fussell. Everything about him is alert to the book at hand when he reads those authors. He loves plenty of other books, but those are the ones that he keeps on talking about, as if he is going to wake up one day and walk into their worlds and he needs to be prepared.

Friday, August 27, 2010


I am feeling oddly nostalgic for high school home economics kitchens. Nostalgia makes no sense at all.

I would rather feel nostalgic for something that had not required so much energy with the scrubbing and so forth.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Claiming victory

The kid is going to his Book Week dress-up day as Mitt from Drowned Ammet and The Crown of the Dalemark.

I have achieved everything I wanted to as a parent. Not sure what I'm going to do for the next ten or forty years. My kid loves Diana Wynne Jone nearly as much as I do.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

On things I noticed at the polling booth

Today I handed out how to votes for about three hours at our local polling booth. If I was a social researcher I would give you all some kind of insightful analysis, but instead I give you things I noticed and felt like commenting on.

Some families arrived together and clearly intended to vote the same way. They tended to march, tended to be led by a large man (or a man who thought of himself as large) and took only one kind of how to vote cards. Often the card was Liberal.

Some couples arrived with the same kind of large man, holding tightly to a woman and seeming to pull her along. He took how to vote cards, and she didn't. Often the card was Liberal, occasionally ALP, never Green or Get Up.

There was one Liberal volunteer (later assisted by his amusing wife, who was in no way dragged along).

There were two ALP volunteers, one pushy and wanting to talk loudly about ALP policies and why the Greens were no good. The other ALP volunteer stood as far away from him as possible in the space and chatted to the Greens volunteers and Get Up volunteers.

There were three Greens volunteers, all women, one with difficulties walking and also cold feet because she didn't have any socks on. The Greens women broke first and went to get coffee.

There were five Get Up volunteers, one of whom wore a very fine felt hat. He was going to hand out how to votes for the Greens in the afternoon, and expressed mild embarrassment that Get Up had ticked boxes for all their policy analysis for the Greens, as if it meant he had some kind of conflict. He said he was going to 'wear a different hat' in the afternoon, and for a moment I wondered if he meant it literally. The Get Up volunteers broke first at the sausage sizzle, and ate more sausages than anyone else.

All the volunteers were polite and friendly and helped the voters to get information on the other parties if requested and made sure no one's sandwich boards fell over.

Only one voter was aggressive, and he had been a Liberal voter, and could not stomach the climate change denialism of the present leadership. The Liberal volunteer stayed calm in the face of finger wagging and low-voiced anger. The voter did not take a Greens or a Labor how-to-vote.

Only one person remembered to bring snacks.

Many voters did not know the difference between Territory and Commonwealth issues.

Many parents were explaining the electoral process clearly and effectively to very young children.

Two people fell over, because the ramp faced the wrong way for easy access to the hall, so people unsteady on their feet braved the two steps. The Liberal volunteer and the Greens volunteers were the most helpful.

People in our neighbourhood have very friendly dogs.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Blue Milk is fed up with 'undecided voters'

Go here and see.

Today I met

Today I met a man from Dubbo.

Today I met a woman from South Africa, who was cold and waiting for the bus. The right bus didn't come, and I left her standing there. She didn't believe it would ever be warm.

All the other people I saw today were people that I've met before.

Monday, August 16, 2010

One day the election will be over.

So that's something to look forward to, isn't it?

In other news, the cold change this afternoon was something fierce. It was like I imagined Canberra would be like before I lived here and lost my heart to sunshine and frost.

The very first flutter of blossom is on the trees outside the Japanese Embassy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cat in the truffula tree

We are minding a cat. It's owner has seen fit to remove to Adelaide, in a post-two-years-in-Canberra flit. It is common, it seems, and if we stay in Canberra for infinity we will have to become resigned to people upping stumps for Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. Presumably people go to other places, but the go-home factor seems strongest for those three.

So this cat is a bit, well, un-relaxed at the best of times. It has calmed down considerable and now only wakes us once at about 3.30 am most nights, and can wait until 6.30 until it miaous for its brekko. But yesterday it went missing, which is the nightmare of cat sitters everywhere. Poor husband (who is a great lover of pets generally) searched, in the rain and cold cold wind, and could not find the cat. Mysteriously, he could hear it miaou, but could not see it anywhere.

I didn't get home until about 8, and I could hear it and a little jingle-jangle of its bell, but no visible cat. Me and the dolphin torch struggled out at about 10.30 pm in the Dark and the Cold and the Wet and called and called and called and there it was, a little, tiny, sad sounding miaou miaou, jingle jingle. But no cat.

And then something, in the corner of my eye, moved. Up high. Up high in the top of a palm tree most like a truffula tree, except kind of taller, and among the fronds twitch twitch of tail.

So now my ugg boots are wet (they are the indoor kind usually) and I am wet and also astonished and the husband starts to clamber up the tree but that is no good because it is a very tall and very thin tree after all. So he pulls on the tree and we are afraid that the cat will caterpault (hee hee) across the road and land splat (not hee hee) and that would be the end of the cat, but then the tree falls over and the husband lands, but more splodge than splat, and the next thing we hear is jingle-jangle running behind the house. And when I open the back door there is a Very Wet Cat Indeed, and a tired and hungry one, waiting to come in the house.

If you go and visit you will see that yesterday was a very not nice day to spend stuck in the top of a truffula tree.

The tree did not spring back but stayed resolutely in two pieces (sorry tree). Luckily there are about another six bits of tree still in the traditionally upright tree position, so it does not leave too much gap in the greenery.

But in happier news, this morning there was snow on the Brindabellas outside and a warm, dry cat resolutely inside.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Without wanting to expose someone else's anxiety, there's an interesting discussion about what it means to be a member of an online community going on in the comments at Humanities Researcher.

For the record, I suspect I do use this particular place to project myself (partly because I don't feel like I can project myself very effectively elsewhere) but I think it is a fairly harmless vanity/pressure valve. I am not getting anything from it, except for chats with nice people who otherwise I would not have met. Oh, that does sound a bit like a community after all.

The main draw back of online interactions as far as I can figure is that I can't share my banana, coconut and choc-chip minimuffins with you all. Canberra based readers, you are welcome to pop around for some.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Plugged in child and monsters, monsters everywhere.

Junior has hit the whole web thing hard recently. He and his friends at school have all joined gmail so they can chat with each other, and they are all playing an online game about monsters with so-called 'educational' content.

As far as I can tell the point is to encourage children to buy buy buy under the guise of a kid-friendly and learning-friendly online space. The monsters are made happy by buying them stuff and the model of the game is that you can play free for as long as you wish, but if you don't pay you are excluded from some areas of the game and from many items for sale. You can only send gifts to your friends if you are a member. Membership only costs about $6.00 a month, but that's not really the point. The point is you have to pay to be socially included. I find that more than a little troubling.

The education content is basic at best, and can only be described as a pretext. The game also claims that contact can only be made (through messaging and chat) between people who already know each other's user names outside the game. However, members have space for up to 500 online friends, and you can enter into other people's spaces online and learn their friends' usernames as well - there seems to be no privacy in the game space for limiting your ID to only the friends you wish to show them to.

The kid is loving the game and the interaction with his friends, so I am trying to keep my doubts to myself while still monitoring what's going on. There seems to be an in-built scope for bullying and exclusion in the game. It's obvious to all who has the most friends and who doesn't, for example, quite apart from the membership issue.

It also bothers me that in the 'information for parents' section, it claims that no child can sign up without parental approval. But my kid did. He has his own email address and just entered it into the correct field. There's absolutely nothing in the sign-on form that suggests or requires a kid to get a parent's permission. So that's one outright lie on the site.

A person doens't know how to raise these issues for discussion without raining on the kid's parade of very cute monsters.

random title

Random content.

The End.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I don't find anyone annoying, myself, of course. No.

This is from XKCD of course. I hope they don't kill me for borrowing it. I have bad etiquette.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


When you have bought plane tickets to another country it is extremely hard to wait until the leaving day.

Luckily, I can look at Stickyrice for help with imagining in the meantime. The junior is pleased to hear that pizza is available in Hanoi.

On the subject of tickets, does anyone think that the Elvis Costello chat show on ABC2 demonstrates a fairly high level of tickets on self? It's intefering a little with my Elvis Costello love-fest, which has been going since I first noticed 'Watching the Detectives' as a little tacker.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

My election dream

In which all the journalists say to all the politicians, 'we are not reporting anything you say until you say something interesting, and no, disgusting or rude doesn't count'.

The End.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ode to Joy

The junior is playing Ode to Joy and whistling along, after singing do-re-me and scales with the notes on the keyboard.

It's things like this you think of when you describe the joys of parenting.

Also, he enjoyed his dinner tonight.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A.S. Byatt

I teeter between wanting to be as clever as A.S. Byatt, dreaming that I could one day (if I was very good) write a single sentence as good as one of hers and uneasily feeling like I am letting her down just by existing, let alone by reading one of her books.

And you see, I've let her down again because it's very hard to teeter between three different points, isn't it?

Friday, July 23, 2010

On learning, good teaching (and admin law)

So yesterday I had a glorious day, in which I rose at five so I could fly to Sydney to attend a forum on admin law. Being in Canberra, I was lucky enough to have one of those little planes with a propellor, so we were low enough to see the scenery. You should try it some time, it's super pretty.

Likewise super (though not generally quite as pretty) were the conference delegates and speakers. It was like the admin law equivalent of a sixties supergroup (including in age, I have to say), but with some members who've died and been replaced by young(er) acolytes. The gender balance altered dramatically by age - the oldest were almost all men, recently retired judges and such like, next bracket was slightly more highly represented by men, but lots of present judges and other influential, important types were women too. In the youngest bracket (which was not 'young' as such but probably between 30 and 45) nearly all were women. I'll call this the 'not yet judges' section for the lawyers and the 'not yet departmental secretaries' section for the bureaucrats. I suspect I was the only non-lawyer there (except for the catering staff), so I can have a sub-section to myself. You can all decide on a title for that, but it might be something like 'not ever going to be a judge or a departmental secretary' section.

You know, for most of my life there have been many, many categories for people. Such things as 'artist', 'part-time cook, part-time student', 'journalist', 'bookseller', 'tram conductor', 'annoying idiot' and so on. I am unsure of my views on how my life now has only two categories 'lawyer' and 'not-lawyer'. Anyway, none of this is to do with learning stuff, is it?

So, as you'd expect with the Monsters of Admin Law as represented at the forum, the discussion was quite technical and complicated. If I had attended before May 2010 it would have sounded like 'blah blah blah, Jason, blah blah, blah'. Except each 'blah' probably had about 37 syllables.

However, thanks to the teaching of the law faculty the ANU, I now know my natural justice from my natural icecream, and most of it made sense. I am informed by some of my 'not yet departmental secretary' colleagues that some of it didn't quite make sense to them either, so I can attribute that to either extreme cleverness or extremely poor communication from some of the speakers, I think.

Before yesterday I wasn't at all confident of what I had learned during the course. I think I wrote an abominably bad essay, the kind of essay you write when you are not confident and can't clearly see links between concepts, examples and principles of what it is you are trying to learn. Yesterday, though, it all started to come together. The principles and the reality just clicked. I suddenly saw how the tools of the law, the attitudes of different parts of government, the needs of individuals, the role of the courts and political pressures come together, and how it is that you can start to analyse the information and make choices instead of just reacting to immediate problems to be solved. Because the thing about the good teaching is that it makes available all the information that you need and provides you with tools, but it leaves you to get on with it. And now I can.

One of the best sessions yesterday was about immigration and administration law. It was attended by Jason Kioa, his solicitor and barrister from the case and also by the present Secretary of the Immigration Department. It was the best illustration I have ever seen of how government directly acts on people, and how people do no ever stop being affected by it. I wish every decsion-maker in any government ever had been there. And that was great teaching as well.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Change and stress

The thing is, I don't feel like writing much because I am a bit stressed. I feel like writing when I am unhappy, angry, cheerful, and excited. But not stressed.

I don't much feel like reading either.

Thank goodness for Andrew Davies's Little Dorrit. Did anyone understand the ending?

I was a bit confused by random orphans, diverse wills and marriage between two characters who I thought might have accidentally been related to each other. The bit about the house falling down was damn fine though.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Nanny Piggins

Junior found a new Nanny Piggins at the bookshop today. Generally, the opinion of the family is that these books should be a lot more famous. They may already be very, very famous but however famous they are, they should be more famous. And R.A. Spratt should be beloved by the populace. If you like pigs, cake, being shot out of cannons or food without vegetables, then you will probably like Nanny Piggins, but only if you also have a sense of humour and are not overly concerned with money (except as a method of buying more cake and/or chocolate).

Friday, July 16, 2010

Electioneering and caretaking

So, as a servant who is young in the service (as they say, Yoda-like), I'll be going through my first-ever caretaker period during the electioneering. While part of me thinks it's a bit exciting, another part of me thinks it might be five different kinds of boring, because the Decision Maker won't be making any Decisions which presumably means that the delegates also will be decision-free for the next five weeks. Which means a fantastic opportunity to catch up on a bit of filing and complete all those other tasks we should have finished n (days/weeks/months/years) ago. All of which we are heartily sick of because they are no long New and Thrilling and suchlike adjectives, but are Routine instead.

On the other hand, it's an election! And that means the local school might have a sausage sizzle, cake stall, lamington drive or second-hand book stall. Hurrah for democracy.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Eddie Nedwards and I are off to Queensland tomorrow to visit the most-northerly of our relations. The husband is staying in Canberra to continue educating young people about how to write short stories and about cities.

Actually, now I think on it, Eddie Nedwards has relations in Wales, and we are not going anywhere near that far north, now, are we? I keep forgetting about that whole hemisphere, unless I'm paying attention. How rude.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Later you can all ask about how my job interview went. Or, you can ask how I thought it went. I guess I won't know how they thought it went for a couple of weeks.

Also, I am between books, so I'll go back to your comfort reading suggestions for some clues. If anyone has very specific post-job-interview/going-on-holidays-to-Cairns reading suggestions, that would also be great.

Edited later:

I think I forgot to tell them some important things to demonstrate such skills as Learning from My Mistakes and How to Do Better Next Time. Also I might have focused a bit much on stakeholders and my own present projects and not enough on the fitting it into broader government policy contexts and the work of the Best Department Evah, even though I actually work in those contexts all the time. Oh well, it's all practice, innit? And I don't think I totally embarrassed myself, and I don't think I had doobies coming out of my nose, so that's a comfort, now.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

New Downunder Feminists Carnival is up

At a Shiny New Coin. It's chock full of thoughts and words.

I could post the picture but that would take more competence than I have this morning.

Friday, July 2, 2010


The husband is trying to convince Eddie Nedwards that he donated his Wimbledon winnings to the Large Hadron Kaleidoscope.

It's not going well.

I wish the husband really did have some Wimbledon winnings. And I wish there really truly was a Large Hadron Kaleidoscope.

Real life can be so rubbish.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

True Blood

So, this show keeps surprising me, which is surprising in itself, what with it being a television show and all.

We're nearing the end of series one.


Monday, June 28, 2010

The Weather

So the difference between happiness and unhappiness is the ability to afford thermal leggings and a quality overcoat. Also being able to afford housing that comes complete with efficient heater, and enough dollars to be able to afford putting the heater on whenever it is cold outside.

So I can say, unreservedly that despite the fact that the weather in Canberra is often the coldest I have experienced*, I really, really love the weather here. It is glorious with the sunshine and the frost and the sunrises of oven-element red. And inside it is roasty toasty and also glorious, although generally quite a bit stuffier.

*Possibly not strictly true, but I have very limited memories of living in Ballarat, and I voluntarily chose to go and lie in the snow (what I belive coordinated people like to call skiing) so I am not including those experiences.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Yartz

So we've had a very Canberra sort of day today, starting out with the Fyshwick markets buying comestibles and digestibles. Including, accidentally, two bags of corn chips which probably tells you a bit too much about our attitude to food this week. There may have been mainstream pizza and mini-magnums in the house last night, but not for very long. Although I suppose our stomachs were still in the house, what with it being too cold for ease of digestion outside yestereve.

And if I'm being brutally honest we started the day all piled into the big bed reading, except for the bit where I bullied the poor husband into getting up and making the coffee, even though I had earlier offered to make him breakfast in bed.

So post-lunch (which might have involved cold pizza rather than your more whole-grain, fruit and vegetable option more usual in a post-Fyshwick world) we decided to pop on down to the National Gallery to check out the Yart. They had some. We didn't go and see the Hans Heysen exhibition because some part deep inside of me baulked at viewing a room utterly full of gum trees. Un-orstrayan, I know. So we looked at fantastic pictures of Indian princes and princesses instead, and enjoyed the Pop Art. One of us did not enjoy the Minimalist room - 'too much not-enough' he said. He is going to write a book of art criticism with this as the title, he tells us. He still is not fan of Yves Klein either.

And thence to Canty's, where you will find a pile of Phryne Fishers near the front door, but only if you are quick, I should imagine, since Mr Canty says they are a license to print money. Coming through, I also have the next required A.S. Byatt and a book on women's lives in Richmond in the early 20th century, which is just what I wanted. I also want a 1930s recipe and household book, but it is Not Yet Time, I think. Or I can always go down the National Library and look at one without having to own it.

This may have been the most self-indulgent weekend ever - because I finished all my assignments. I had Friday off work and went shopping on my own with no whining and bought shoes with no whining and also bought opaque tights and footlets and other useful items with no whining and was so grateful that I bought a Bionicle for the person who is frequently responsible for whining on other shopping trips. I hasten to add that I often also whine when shopping, thus setting a very, very bad example.

Oh, and the Noodle informs that he will no longer be known as the Noodle, but prefers to be known by his own nom de blog, Eddie Nedwards.

A message to the meeja about writing about the PM

Via Helen at Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony, a thorough and sensible message about how not to talk about the PM.

Gosh, if I go on like this I'll turn into a proper, linky blogger, not a self-indulgent waffler. Action fans save us!

Friday, June 25, 2010

All the news

Lolcats (plus squirrel and fox) tell the story of the spill.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Went to bed last night with someone counting the numbers and by morning tea time we had a new PM.

A person is not quite sure what to think yet. A person is nonplussed about the new Deputy PM. A person is nonplussed about Lindsay Tanner's decision to resign at the next election.

A person is quite plussed about the first woman PM, though.

A person may have had tears during Kevin Rudd's speech. It was not nice watching Therese Rein cry.

I do hope that the Best Department Evah retains its minister. I don't think I can cope with too much change all at once.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Well, I would blog something insightful and exquisitely drafted*, but I'm off to fold up some washing and stack the dishwasher. Oh well, maybe another time.

Thanks for the comfort reading picks. I have been basking in the glow of such like-minded readers and will visit Book Depository soon to fill some gaps.

*actually, that's a bald faced lie.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Comfort Reading

I have been re-re-reading Diana Wynne Jones books in between blowing my nose, working and writing my administrative law essay. You can see why comfort reading is needed.

But I also feel like some novelty. So, what comfort reading do you all look to in times of stress? *Disclosure* I fully intend to steal your ideas and leach comfort from your books.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Wild women at the National Archives

Well, an exhibition about women at Long Bay gaol between 1915 and 1930, anyway.

I love the Archives. When I finish all the other things I'm doing, I want to go and do some research about Melbourne in the late 1930s - fashion, the kinds of work young women were doing and how much they were paid, education for girls, train fares and that kind of thing.

If only I'd paid more attention to my grandma when I had the chance, eh.

Heh, she'd be horrified at being associated in any way with the women up there in the first sentence. Sorry, Grandma.


What is the blog etiquette when a blogger stops posting for a long time, and you don't know the person except as a commenter on their blog, but frankly you're a bit worried that things are not good and would like to express concern and so on? Presumably if the person wanted the blog readers to know what was happening they would blog. But you wouldn't want people to be thinking that other people aren't thinking of them, would you?

Public service II

We had a planning day. Which is also very public servanty.

One of my colleagues wanted to know if it was appropriate to telephone people on a particular topic. One of my other colleagues commented that as public servants we are expected to actually sometimes talk to the public.

As a person who worked in retail for many years, this was not so much what I wanted to hear.

Still, I'd rather actually be 'the public' than a stakeholder. I would rather be the vampire hunter than just the person who holds the sticks.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Public service

A person has learned all kinds of brilliant things by being in the public service. All kinds of wonderful opportunities have been offered and taken advantage of. Interesting people have presented themselves, talking about all kinds of fascinating stuff. With the exception of the odd meeting and jaw-dropping moments of astonishment, the past few years have been pretty darned good.

But, a person really, really knows that they are a public servant when have just sent in an application for their own job. Although, I do love that what I am doing at the moment is called 'acting up'.

To think, I used to get in such trouble for that very thing.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Books, for once

The Noodle has been reading with a lot of energy recently, despite his almost-equal passion for creating animation using PowerPoint. Having only ever seen PowerPoint used to destroy creativity, I am most impressed by the grade 3/4 children of the Very Good Primary School. I would feel slightly happier if the animations did not mostly end in decapitation, but there it is, I am not an 8 or 9 year old boy and I never was.

The books of the moment are:

Nips XI by Ruth Starke
The Fall of Fergal by Philip Ardagh
My Story: Fords and Flying Machines by Patricia Bernard and last but most
The Wizard of Rondo books by Emily Rodda.

Quite fabulously, the Noodle has finally taken to the school library, and has become bit more proactive about choosing books for himself, rather than seeing his role as rejecting books proposed by his parents and occasionally deigning to accept one. For someone who loves books, he has a strangely bitter relationship with actually choosing them for himself. However, now that he not infrequently likes quite different books to the ones I do, he has finally stumped off into book-choosing land all by himself. Hurrah.

He has been so excited by the Rondo series. I think Emily Rodda is fabulous at writing for the middle-primary readers. She gets just right the levels of excitement (but not too scary) and interesting and weird (but not too unfamiliar) that they seem to respond to. The Noodle is still not one for reading books that really, really scare him or weird him out. I don't think he'll be up for Philip Pullman for a bit yet. Also, Philip Pullman's books tends to be a bit too serious, even the funny ones tend to be making a Statement (said in large and sonorous tones) and nor does he write about sport.

The Noodle likes absurdism, puns, books about cricket, fantasy and time-travel. There are many books that do one or two of those things, but I have yet to find the complete package. The things he does not like are description, psychological development and description. He is not a fan of slow-moving reflections on the meaning of life.

The kid has also developed a bit of a fascination with the body (not only scatological), so is expanding his non-fiction interests in that direction. This follows other fascinations with the Tudors, archaeology, physics and food. He generally quite enjoys history of many kinds, especially if it has cricket in it.

I am reading reports by the Administrative Review Council, high court judgements and selection criteria. I should have a book called 'How to avoid procrastinating'.


The husband accidentally made lentil and onion tea for dinner instead of dhal. And I just told the Noodle that I had to bite the barrel.

The Noodle seems quite normal, but how long can it last in this environment?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Things you think about when you don't have a book on the bus

Grey hairs are not all the same. Some are silver and coarse. Some are soft and really grey. Others are wheat coloured.

Most women dye their hair and hardly any men do (on my bus).

The public service is full of people who want to answer questions and help people, but presumably not in the Defence Signals Directorate or ASIS.

What's for dinner?

Sheryl Crowe. Did she ever actually have some fun until the sun came up over Santa Monica Boulevarde?

Quite a lot of people I went to uni with have published books (most recently Ben Law). It was a creative writing degree, so it makes sense. I wonder why some people have stopped writing and other people never stop writing.

Four days a week sounds like a great idea. I like the idea of being able to describe myself as 0.8.

I wonder if playing with my hat would be interesting for a minute or two? Not really.

Look, that's the house with all the downlights, not far now.

Why does that guy get off a stop earlier than me when his house is right across the road from our house.

'Thanks, bye'.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The coolest thing ever

Things that have been the coolest thing ever recently:

Google Chat
Pocket Money
My brother's old skeleton money box

The Noodle finds many other things cool, but those are the coolest, apparently.

He thought that the kids at school had invented using 'cool'. Hahahahahahahahaha. He was shocked to find he was at least the third generation in our family to say 'cool'.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Red Salt

Ate dinner at Red Salt with in-laws. Was not especially red or salty, but was tasty and the espresso tasted most like coffee.

I ate risotto, because the junior for reasons unknown dislikes the texture of risotto intensely (although enjoying both rice pudding and porridge, which bespeaks a worrying inconsistency). So it was nice to eat some without either a) much complaining or b) someone else at the table eating baked beans for dinner.

I would tell you all about it, but the somwhere between one and several glasses of Pepperjack Cab Sav are wreaking havoc with my typing. You would have enjoyed it though. And the jelly and ice cream children's dessert option was super glamorous.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Computer gone away

So we had no phone or internet access for a few days.

Sad, a little bit, to see it back.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Discrimination link

Cristy, in a garden somewhere, defining and deploring discrimination wherever it may be found.

Cristy also has links to other recent posts about attitudes to children in public spaces, and the 'I hate children' discourse that seems so acceptable to so many adults. It's been *ahem* a 'robust' discussion.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Sunday lovely Sunday

The clouds are coming across, but Canberra has given us another sunny, clear, crisp weekend. A weekend for being outdoors, but not too late in the afternoon or first your fingers feel a little stiff and the cold spot in the middle of your back starts to chill and the next thing you know your muscles are stiff and your nose is running. The washing will dry outside in this weather, but it takes all day.

We spent part of our afternoon picnicking at Nara park, watching the small sailing boats puttering about, the swans avariciously eyeing the sausages inna bun and the children setting up complicated stalking games in the shrubbery.

What has your Sunday offered you?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The best children's books ever

Becauase the Guardian knows not uncertainty! Even about something kind of subjective like the Best Children's Books Ever.

You'd never guess from the headline that this para would follow lower down:
The following – a combination of personal recommendations, enduring classics and currently popular borrowings from school and public libraries – are suggestions and starting points only, of course (and the age ranges attached even more so), but hopefully there will be something, somewhere for everyone.
The lists are quite nice, if you are a person who has not ever thought about children's books before. Which I think is zero of you out there. But hey, a stranger might accidentally pop by one of these days. You never know.

You would be better off going to visit Charlotte's Library or Misrule, O Stranger with a burning need to know about children's books. They will tell you much stuff about many books, authors and other wordly items.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cats and oral storytelling

Charlotte's Library has her regular reading round-up, and one of the links discussed the writer's recent discovery of Carbonel, a book I much loved sometime between being 6 and now. It's about a cat, and includes a verse which ends 'minion of the twiggy broom' which is something I quite enjoy saying from time to time.

I don't think the Noodle has read Carbonel, and I don't think I have read it to him either, but I have certainly told him bits from the story at different times. I quite enjoy telling him stories from books (and films, too, sometimes) out loud, as if they are just stories for telling. I do honestly attribute them all, despite the temptation sometimes to have a little, domestic, Australian-style literary scandal.

Sometimes it means telling all the fun bits without the sad bits or that we might be in a mood for talking only about things with elephants in them or scary things. Sometimes it's just that the book as a whole really isn't all that great, but something about it is utterly fabulous. Sometimes we just don't have that book available, for unknown reasons (where are all my Little House books, anyway? And if anyone has my copy of We didn't mean to go to sea I would be super pleased to have it back again. My life is a wasteland without it.) And sometimes it's just that stories struggle to be told, they want to get out there into the brains of others like toxoplasmosis worms.

Anyway, next time I go to Canty's secondhand bookshop in Fyshwick (the best secondhand bookshop in Canberra, which is saying much, because Canberra is full of wonderful secondhand bookshops in the same way it is full of dryness, acorns and people in suits) I expect I'll find a copy of Carbonel sitting there, ready to be read (aloud or not) as well as talked about. It's time for a cat tale.

On an unrelated note, sorry for all the spelling and typing errors recently. It is not lack of love, it's complete lack of copy-edit-ability. It's deserted me utterly and I am bereft. (Would rather be desserted at this point, possibly with mint slice biscuits or a nice rhubarb and apple crumble).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

On Time

This post could just as easily be called 'on privacy' or 'on being assertive' or 'on being an individual who is a member of a collective'.

Basically, if I have time to do something I want to do or need to do, I always feel guilty anyway if I actually do it instead of doing something else. Not even necesssarily something else with a family member, or something else productive. Just something else. Doing things that are for myself just feels plain old wrong.

This post could just as easily be called 'A room of one's own'.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Noble librarians.

Judith Ridge posted about this on Facebook. Parliament is holding hearings into Australian teacher-librarians.

I personally can't imagine the hearings would need to go for long. My transcript.

Parliamentary Person: So, teacher-librarians are pretty ace, then?

Everone in Australia: Yep.

Parliamentary Person: Well, that's all right then. Let us shower school libraries with buckets of cash for books and reading programs and author visits. And new technology.

Everyone in Australia: Hurrah!

Parliamentary Person: Oh, and while we're at it, annual holidays to Paris and foot massage vouchers for all teacher-librarians as well.

Everyone in Australia: Huzzah!

Parliamentary Person: Any other questions?

Everone in Australia: Well, we really loved reading Harry Potter and Keys to the Kingdom, what else do you recommend?

Parliamentary Person: No idea. Go home.

People of Australia: Boo!


The real terms of reference and transcripts are available at the House Standing Committe on Education and Training in the link above. The next hearings are on 13 May at Parliament House in Canberra. (I nearly forgot to write 'Canberra' because that is where I am, but you are probably not.)

Incidentally, one of the things I find endearing about Canberra is the fact that quite a lot of Real Adults walk around along footpaths reading from novels as if it is perfectly normal. They never seem to get run over while crossing the road, which is also nice.

Monday, May 3, 2010


My parenting strengths might not be setting boundaries or consistency or bilingualism, but I am very good at nonsense.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Quite fed up

What with emissions trading and such.

Otherwise, mysteriously tired for no good reason, didn't eat any chocolate today, clicked on a PowerPoint button, figured out how to make something appear on the laptop screen and the big screen, have a nice glass of wine, won't be watching The Pacific tonight, discussed hamburger flipping with the Noodle.

How was your day?

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Some days you feel really proud of your work. And then the next day you feel really, really tired.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Stupidly neglected to include 'volcanic ash cloud causing economic collapse' from my end-of-the-world scenarios. Please consider it added.

Also, Iceland was just picking up some much needed dollars from the tourist market and so a volcano happens so that people can't fly there to spend spend spend. What has the universe got against Iceland? All they have is colourful knitted sweaters, epic poetry and rugged scenery, give them a break.

Friday, April 16, 2010

E Nesbit, time travel and breakfast

The Noodle is so absorbed in The House of Arden that he won't come out and make himself some breakfast. He will pop out from time to time to tell us where (or when) the children and are and to marvel at the nature of the Mouldiwarp, but then he is straight back into it. I started reading it to him a few nights ago, but he is leaping ahead without assistance.

He is a young person who highly values time travel.

The thing I like about E Nesbit's attitude to time travel is that you probably can't change the present from the past, but the past can certainly change you. And then it's up to you to choose the sort of future you want. So you don't get any Homer Simpson style donut-rain anomalies, but you do get a happy ending.

Of course, the other thing I like so much about E Nesbit is the way her children bicker and fight all the time. Frequently they have little in common with each other, except the books they have read and the fact that they are brothers and sisters. Children who have not read the same sorts of book s are viewed with a deep suspicion, something that also finds it's way into C S Lewis's books. It's a bit of a way of being awfully snobbish, while pretending not to be snobbish, and also I should think the sign of a rather balloonish ego in the author. The author's books, naturally, being just the right sort for the right sort of children to read.

I won't get into all the patronising class issues in Nesbit, except to say that A S Byatt might have forced me to stop gliding over the top of it all quite as easily as I used to. Which is no doubt a Good Thing and all.

The Noodle has only really loved The Railway Children of Nesbit's otherwise. The husband (who is not so much a fan of children's books or fantasy - having grown up watching telly and not reading much) read him The Phoenix and the Carpet but I'm not convinced either of them enjoyed it a great deal.

From a bibliotherapy point of view (a point of view I am really quite opposed to) it is no doubt good for only-child Noodle to read about other families and for over-protected Noodle to at least read about children rampaging around the countryside pretty much unsupervised. I know I used to rampage quite a lot more than junior does, but I am not sure if I was a few years older - I can't remember which level of rampaging goes with which age.

Certainly there is not much rampaging at 38, alas.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Sometimes I feel like I only have enough space in my brain for one lot of childhood memories, and as the Noodle reaches the age of things I can remember, I start to remember my own childhood less and less.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Things I was afraid of when I was seven. Daleks coming to kill my family. Growing up and not knowing how to put make up on.

Things I was afraid of when I was eight. Collapse of society requiring my family (or self) to lead a self-sufficient, subsistence life, caused by nuclear holocaust, oil crisis or industrial action .

Only one of these fears came true. I leave it to all of you to decide which one.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Some important things

The Noodle has much chocolate, some of which he will share.

I have inveigled my way back into reading to the Noodle at bed time by abandoning Sam and Frodo in the Slough of Boredeom (ie outer Mordor) and turning to Joan Aiken. Go Joan!

I handed in my essay and questions on constitutional law and now have only to dread writing two essays on contract law.

There are many, many snails on our front door step region. Radio National advise a locust plague is imminent on the way.

As well as not knowing if imminent is the right word, I also don't know how to pronounce 'slough' or if the Slough of Despond (from The Pilgrim's Progress via Little Women) is pronounced the same as the Great Slough (from Little Town on the Prairie and the Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder). My guess is sloff, but it could rhyme with 'ow' or 'oh'.

I do know that Laura and Carrie nearly got lost and/or drownded in the Great Slough, but I do not know what happened to Christian in the Slough of Despond. I guess he was not thrilled by it.

The Noodle has learned how to draw seven eighths of a tennis ball. So glad he is getting a good education.

Everyone's Easter lamb roast was nicer than mine, but my guests have been very polite about it.

Splodge made to a recipe still just tastes like splodge.

Justice Gleeson might know a thing or two, but I know it is only two more days until the weekend.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


If I had anything interesting to say I could procrastinate by blogging. I guess I could go and stack the dishwasher and then check out Cake Wrecks instead.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A world of fun for everyone

Yes, public holiday central around here. The house is loaded with sugar (some hidden, some not). And there will be footy.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In which I reflect further on things that are unfair and things that seem unfair

This all began last week while I was on an excursion with the junior and his class mates and they were learning how to be convicts. It was a lovely day, and they were the cleanest, politest convicts anyone ever saw, which made their teachers proud and happy. Perhaps they were impersonating 80 very short con-artists.

The week before, the class had gone on camp and had a rather exciting and very exhausting time, as I may have mentioned. During the excursion one young fellow sat beside me and said ' Are you Noodle's Mum?' (except he didn't say Noodle, because that would be silly). And I said 'yes I am' because I am, and it seemed like a pretty simple sort of question. The young feller told me a long tale about how they'd walked a long way at camp, and everyone was very tired. Very tired, he iterated. One of his friends had a sore ankle, he said. 'Oh dear', says I, 'that's not good.' 'No,' says the young feller.

A bit of silence for a while. We looked at the view.

'Noodle got to go back in the car,' he said. 'Oh,' I said. 'Because he was tired' he said. 'Yes,' I said.

'We were all Very Tired,' says the young feller, with the lowered brows of especial significance.

'Hmmm, ' thinks I.

'So why did Noodle get a lift, and no one else?' He comes to his point. 'It's not fair.'

And I see his point. They were all very tired, and it doesn't seem fair. I was a bit thrown, because I didn't want to say to him, 'it's because the Noodle's father and I have done such a good job of impressing on your teachers that the Noodle is fragile and easily damaged that they are rather scared they might accidentally kill him and so they take very good care of him indeed, ' or I could have said 'because it's considerably more unlikely that you or your friend with the sore ankle would end up needing to take days off school, or go to the doctor or end up in hospital because of your tiredness.' So I fluffed about a bit and murmured something like, 'yes it must seem unfair, but the Noodle gets Very, Very Tired.' Or some such words unhelpful to my interlocutor and my son alike.

But I did quite like this young fellow's journey on the road to deciding what was fair and unfair. He was undoubtedly a very decent fellow and was not trying to be rude but just really, really wanted to know why in this case something was fair for someone but not for someone else.

Somehow this made me think of shock jocks and ex-Prime Ministers and English people who supported fascism before the War* and that's when I had my dose of outrage yesterday. An eight year old boy is entitled to a fairly simplistic notion of fairness. It's part of growing up and besides, he was actively trying to extend his notion of what might be fair. Those Other People cannot say the same, and that is when I got angry.

I didn't say to the young lad, but sometimes the unfairness of what some people (including the Noodle sometimes) have to put up with makes me cry and other days it just makes me furious.

*a person may have been reading George Orwell essays which might be a contributory factor in the generation of outrage.