I Don’t Get It.

November 28, 2008 at 1:01 am (Uncategorized)

More crying in the kitchen this morning, this time reading the newspaper coverage of the attacks in Mumbai. I actually had to put it down – what’s to be gained reading about it? It doesn’t give me any insight into how people can do this sort of thing, it doesn’t help me understand their point of view, it only offers up account after account of something I already know: innocent people have been killed and injured. Further to Pete’s comment on yesterday’s post, and his own post on Couchtrip, there’s a really disturbing photograph in The Australian today. It’s p. 2, and it’s of two bodies lying by the pool at the Taj. A beer bottle lies right by the man’s body; beside the woman, her handbag. So many things about this image disturb me: that someone could stand there and take this photo in the first place, for starters. If it was safe enough to do that, couldn’t the photographer give them some dignity? Better yet, some privacy?? They’ve been photographed where they fell – but do we really need to see this to understand the horror of how they died? I don’t think so. I feel like I have insulted them, borderline assaulted them, by looking at this photo, and I am once again sorry I bought the paper to try to find out what the hell happened, and is still happening, because they’ve filled it with this sort of gratuitous imagery.

I should have known better – after all, we’ve seen this feast before. And yes, I am disturbed by the fact that I’ve been in that very spot myself (we spent a lot of time poolside at the Taj). Even just glancing at the photo, I knew precisely where they were – I remember this part of the Taj vividly, and being gunned down over a glass of wine is about the last thing you’d ever imagine happening while you’re there. It’s surreal. And we were on our honeymoon, starting a life together (our honeymoon in India coincided with the Boxing Day tsunami, so by the time we returned to the Taj for our last couple of nights in India, we were already well aware of how lucky we were to be there, together and in one piece), and I have no doubt other honeymooners were in the hotel this week. Just ordinary people, living their lives, seeing the world, taking part, celebrating life and love.

What do perpetrators of this kind of violence see when they look upon these images? What do they feel? Because I just don’t understand what they want. What is it that they really, really want? What’s the prize? What’s all this in aid of? I understand poverty and a lack of education make people desperate and vulnerable, a terrible combination these terrorist types prey upon. I can see that. So they enlist these young men, they train them up, they brainwash them, they arm them, and they send them out into the world to do their vile bidding. But to what end? This is what I don’t get. I mean, the West isn’t going anywhere. Democracy isn’t packing up the card table and going home anytime soon. We’re not actually going to collectively step aside and say, oh, yes, all right then, off you go, take over the world, that’s the way. So what’s the point of all this madness? Doesn’t it strike you as totally pointless? There doesn’t seem to be any kind of clear objective. If you take all the emotion and distress out of it, all the disappointment at the way we treat each other, all the sadness at the state of humanity (but similarly all the pride in all the people who always step up at these moments and risk their lives for others), and look at it from a purely… I don’t know, strategic perspective, what’s the strategy? What’s the point? What, pray tell, is their ultimate objective? The end game? Because I think it’s the futility that really makes me angry. All these awful slayings, one after the other, and in each case, it’s finally nothing more than an act of supreme futility. What a shocking waste.

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Sick at Heart

November 27, 2008 at 3:10 am (Uncategorized)

I’m still digesting the terrible news out of Mumbai. I saw a photo of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and Tower on the Yahoo homepage when I went to sign in this morning, and it looked like it was ablaze. It was only after reading the attached article that I began to understand what was happening. This is the hotel where Llew and I began and ended our amazing Indian honeymoon almost four years ago. I can’t tell you how sick and sad it makes me to see this beautiful, historic city – a place of so many happy memories for us, the home of millions of proud and welcoming residents, and the holiday destination for the tens of thousands of domestic and foreign guests it welcomes every year – become the dreadful scene of such terror and carnage. Once again innocent people are dead and injured. Hundreds, probably thousands more are terrified for their lives. What is this madness? How do we begin to combat what we cannot even begin to comprehend?

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What a Difference a Year Makes

November 27, 2008 at 1:50 am (Uncategorized)

I burst into tears in the kitchen just now, while stirring sugar into my coffee, so I guess the shock has started to wear off and now the relief is kicking in instead. You see, my darling Darklings directed me to the news on the Varuna website this morning, and three of us (not bad, girls, not bad at all!) have made the long list of the Varuna HarperCollins Manuscript Development Awards. Oh wow. Thank goodness. This is a moment of validation that has been nearly two years in the making, and I am going to enjoy it.

Of course, as I said to the girls, it’s a long way from anywhere, but it certainly still feels like somewhere to me. From here, those on the long list send their full MS to Varuna by December 10. By the end of January 2009, they’ll announce the short list of around 15 writers, or half the long list. Those 15 manuscripts are then sent to HarperCollins, and HC editors choose f-i-v-e writers for the program, which takes place at Varuna over 10 days in April or May. In other words, there’s two big and super competitive stages to go. But I’ve never made a long list before, and I didn’t make it this far last year, so I feel mighty fine right now, albeit in a teary, tight-chested, emotional kind of way.

If you only knew how much work I’ve done. I’ve been trying so, so hard (oops… more tears) to make it better, to make it work, to make it good, and it is just such a relief making it onto that list. I’m still trapped deep in the well, and believe me when I say I’m going to have to pull out something pretty special to get this structural, narrative arc stuff in hand by December 10, but I know there’s a way out, I’m sure of it, if only I keep working to find it. I don’t know how many applications they had this year, but it’s usually somewhere between 350-400, so making that list in an achievement in itself. Not making it last year was good for me, as it turns out, and even better for my MS. It didn’t feel it at the time – it felt resolutely fucked, as a matter of fact – but it was a hard, harsh lesson, and they’re usually the best kind. I have worked my arse off since then, and my manuscript is a better chance because of it. 

Llew said to me it’s ironic that I sent it out so prematurely last year only to be so worried that it won’t be ready in time for the next round now. I’ve gone from not knowing what’s wrong with it, to being all too abundantly clear. Perhaps that’s the best measure of how far it and I have come in the last twelve months. For today, seeing my name on that list is enough, and whatever happens next, it’s one of the sweetest rewards I have ever known. Onwards we go.

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Technology Ate My Post

November 25, 2008 at 3:11 am (Uncategorized)

Back again. Thursday night we drove down to Mollymook, on the beautiful south coast, to start a long weekend celebrating Llew’s mum’s birthday with the rest of the family. I was on deadline Friday morning with two stories due in by 10 am, so it didn’t much resemble a holiday for the first few hours, but once the work was out of the way, you’ll be relieved to know that I managed to get into the swing of things without too much ado (phew!). I kicked off with an hour-long run around the headland, which was a great way to see the coastline and get my bearings. It’s stunning country down south, it really is. Very lush, rural backdrops leading out to the ever-changing drama of the coast. And the wild weather just made it all the more exciting – when a storm rolls in, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than by the sea. 

The water was f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought we were in the wilds of Tasmania being hit by a current straight out of Antarctica – and in fact we saw whales very close to shore on Sunday morning – a mother and her calf travelling south. That water was teeth-chattering cold. Llew said on the final day the water was so icy it made his chest burn. Always a good idea, yes, but even we did not linger. To give you the full picture, the Surf Lifesavers shivered in their long-sleeves up on dry land and asked us for a surf report as we ran out of the water screaming.

It was a lovely, relaxing time. Plenty of eating and drinking (as per – boy, did I ever marry into the right family; eaters after my own heart!), lots of walking and wandering, a spot of shopping, a block of reading, even a little bit of snoozing. The other major discovery aside from Mollymook Beach itself was the nearby town of Milton. What a little gem. We had an excellent meal at Bacchus (Shop 7, Settlement Arcade, Princes Hwy, 02 4455 3449) on Friday night – handmade pasta, hand-rolled gnocchi, the freshest seafood, homemade desserts (including a sensational coffee brulee I wish I’d had the good sense to order) – a very confident little outfit, and it’s not a confidence that’s at all misplaced. It’s also completely BYO, so our bill was ridiculous. I rarely come away from a restaurant these days thinking ‘That was an absolute bargain,’ but Bacchus was. 

We also fell in love with nearby Revival (Shop 2a & The Shed, The Settlement, Milton, 02 4455 1200), run by a real force of nature, Gino Gionta. Gino buys, restores and sells antique and 20th century design furniture, and he and his wife Jenny have some really outstanding pieces. 

Well, that’s really bloody annoying. This post was a lot longer, all about Gino and architecture and furniture design and my obsessions and our joint adoration of the Mystery Chair, but when I clicked ‘publish,’ WordPress admin did something weird and locked me out of the bloody network. I had to sign back in, and this was all that survived of the draft. Sometimes technology really pisses me off. Sorry about this, but I really don’t have the time or the energy to rewrite the post. It totally sours my mood losing work, so I’m going to have to just come back in a better frame of mind tomorrow, when I’ll tell you all about the wonderful world of CIRA, the Council of Italian Restaurants in Australia.

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How Do You Recognise One of Your Own?

November 20, 2008 at 12:36 am (Uncategorized)

We met up with a couple of friends D & L for dinner downtown last night. L arrived first, and got us a table outside at Ash St Cellar, which, by the way, is lovely. The atmosphere is gorgeous, the wine list considered, and the food – tasting plates, and they are TASTY – scrumptious. I may want to smack that smug look off his face every time I see it in the newspaper, but I will say this for Justin Hemmes: he runs a decent outfit. I think Ash St Cellar is great. 

Anyway, Llew, L and I were sitting there with our first drink when D arrived. He scanned the outdoor area, missed us, and headed inside.

“There’s D!” I said. “D!”

He didn’t hear. We could see him through the glass scoping the indoor seating.

Then out of nowhere, L makes this single, improbably loud CLUCK noise. D’s head instantly reared up. I saw it. His ears actually pricked. He turned and followed the sound of the cluck. He’d found us. Llew and I stared at L.

“What was that?” Llew said. 

“What did you just do?” I demanded. “Do that again.”

L did it again, louder this time. People turned uneasily in their seats. What was happening? Where was this noise coming from?

CLUCK. CLUCK. 

It’s their signal. They. Have. A. Signal. L does something powerful and disturbing with her tongue against the roof of her mouth. She can control the volume on this thing, too. Soft cluck clucks right through to booming CLUUUUCKS. I was riveted. 

“So, um, L,” I said. “How did this clucking noise develop? This is just something you guys developed between the two of you or what?”

“Oh no,” she said. “It’s my family signal.”

Take a moment, if you like, to let that sink in. I did. 

“What?” Llew said after a stunned silence. “Are you trying to tell me that you all do it? Your whole family? I’m sorry, but Germans are just weird. That’s it. Case closed.”

“What if one of you couldn’t make the noise,” I said. “Can you imagine how isolating that would be? You’d feel like a total failure. You’d be sure you were adopted. Here you all are with your special family clucking sound, the way you find your way home in the dark, the homing signal, as it were, and one of you can’t do it. Horrible.”

“All our friends’ families have their own signature whistle,” L offered helpfully.

“No,” I said, trying and failing to keep a straight face. “No, I don’t think they do. They can’t. That’s just too much.”

“No, they do,” confirmed D. “It’s a German thing.”

“I’ll say,” said Llew. 

“They’ve got one whistle for family members,” D went on, “and another one for the dog.”

“That’s what you looked like!” I exclaimed, pointing at D and wiping the tears from my eyes with my free hand. “You looked EXACTLY like a dog hearing its master’s call!”

“You can take the boy off the farm,” agreed D.

“Right, right,” I said. “That explains it. That’s why you’re a complete natural at this. You understand it. You hear the call.”

“It cuts right through music,” D enthused. “I hear it across nightclubs, restaurants, rugby matches. You know what it’s like when you’re somewhere really crowded and you all get separated and you don’t know where you’re supposed to be? Well, I just listen for the signal. I follow the sound.”

“That is amazing,” I said. I turned to Llew. “What would our family signal be?”

Llew’s CLUCK wasn’t bad. L was impressed. Mine was piss weak. It wasn’t cutting through any music and probably wouldn’t even rouse Llew from the couch. So we tried whistling. Again, Llew’s was quite solid. I whistle like I am eating crackers at the same time. No one is coming running at the sound of my whistle. 

“What about clapping?” I suggested. “I can clap. Single clap, staccato clap, slow clap, you name it. I’ve got clapping down.”

I’m also, I’ll have you know, a truly excellent waver. That’s generally how I direct people to the table… but clearly that’s just me.

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The Other Side of the Unattended Package

November 18, 2008 at 2:28 am (Uncategorized)

Ever wondered, in amidst the hysteria about unattended packages, and the entreaties from our government to be alert, not alarmed, just how a package comes to be unattended in the first place? I have. I’ve often thought, well, that’s just silly. No one actually leaves packages behind, do they? What? You forget when you stand up from that park bench that only moments before you were hefting a big cardboard box full of Christmas lights and plastic reindeer? Really? How do you leave that behind? At the very least, wouldn’t you trip over it as you went to walk blithely away? Doesn’t everyone do a pat-down and a bag count before they move an inch, or is that just me? Don’t you look back, admittedly a little compulsively, just to make sure? How many unattended bags and packages have you seen recently? That’s right: none. I just couldn’t figure it out. I always know exactly how many bags I’m holding. The only time I’ve ever lost anything was when my wallet was stolen clean out of my hand in Barcelona. I’d had too many sangrias and some swarthy spivs followed us back to our hostel, pouncing as I grappled with my key. Enough said. 

So I was pretty flabbergasted when Llew met up with me the other night and said that between leaving work and meeting me at Circular Quay, he’d lost my package. This package was and shall apparently remain a complete mystery to me. I don’t know who sent it. I don’t know what it contained. All I know is Llew collected it from our GPO box because he’s the one who’s in town every day, and then lost it. There was an interim period of a couple of days. He called me up after collecting it.

“You’ve got a package,” he said.

“Really? Cool! What is it? Who’s it from?”

“I don’t know. It doesn’t say. The customs declaration says ‘ceramic,’ and I think I can hear something loose inside.”

“Ceramics? What could it be? And it doesn’t say who it’s from?”

“No,” he said. “But it’s postmarked USA and Belgium. Who do we know in Belgium?”

“Fernando. But they’ve just had their second child. They’ve got better things to do than send me a new coffee mug through the post.”

“Actually the box is the right size for a big coffee cup.”

“Cool. Exciting! I haven’t had anything cool through the post for years! I can’t remember the last time I got something fun!”

Llew gets home and my eyes go straight to his empty hands. 

“Where’s my package?”

He looked down too. Turned ’em over, looked closer, brought them right up to his sheepish face.

“Oh,” he said. “I had to do the thing with the guy at the place and…”

“You couldn’t be bothered bringing it home.”

“Basically.”

I called him at work the next day. 

“Could you please bring my box home tonight?”

“What? Oh yeah, the box. Yep. Sure thing. It’s right here.”

I can’t remember if it was that day or the next that I ended up meeting him in town to go home together. But either way, I had my box on the brain, so when he turned up without it, it wasn’t long before I noticed. 

“Didn’t I bring it in here?” he said, looking around. We were in the ABN AMRO building because I’d just popped in to see a friend. 

“No.”

“But I had it when I left work…”

“I saw you through the window,” I said. “Waiting at the lights. You weren’t holding anything except the paper. Retrace your steps. Did you stop anywhere?”

“No….”

“So it must be at work.”

“I could have sworn I walked out with it…”

“Then where is it?”

“I don’t know…”

I thought, well, if he didn’t stop, and he came straight here, then it’s at work. I called him at work the next day. 

“Can you please bring my package home tonight?”

“The what? Oh, your package. Sure, sure.”

He called back.

“It’s not here,” he said. “It’s not here. It’s gone. I could’ve sworn I took it with me last night, but I don’t know where it went.”

My brow puckered.

“Did you stop?”

“I don’t think so…”

“You must have stopped. You must have put it down somewhere. Because otherwise you would have been holding it when you got to Circular Quay.”

“It’s not here.”

“That’s just great,” I fumed. I was really pissed off at this point. “Well that’s just perfect. Thank you very much. Can you imagine if I was this careless with something of yours? No, you can’t, because it wouldn’t happen in a million fucking years. I can’t believe this.”

Click. That’s right. I hung up on him, and I’d do it again.

I ranted to myself for a good long while afterwards. I was so dark about my missing box. I was absolutely fuming with Llew. Where was it? What happened to it? Had it gone to a good home? Or was it lying abandoned somewhere, scuffed and dented? Who was it from? And what the hell was it, anyway? And then I turned my thoughts to my unreliable and careless husband, who really didn’t get a gold star from me that day. I just couldn’t stand the idea that he couldn’t remember what he did with it. It still drives me spare. What do you mean?  I wanted to scream, shaking him by the lapels. Who does that? Who the fuck does that? Who puts down a WHOLE BOX and walks away without a backward glance? Tell me? Who?

Well, now I have the answer for you. Llew. 

“And if some good samaritan happens to resend it,” I barked, “just leave it there, would you? I’ll pick it up myself. Really. Don’t do me any favours.”

See how well that worked out for him in the end? Because really, let’s face it, he didn’t want to carry it around in the first place.

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Across the River, and About Those Trees…

November 17, 2008 at 6:15 am (Uncategorized)

I know you’re all ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEAT wondering how Nana’s first outing to the Botany Respite Centre went today. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t go. So because the whole situation makes me feel like screaming, and because Julie from the Aged Care Assessment Team called me back on Friday with the news that no one is going to be available to start Nana’s care assistance until after Christmas at the earliest, I’m going to talk about something else now, before I have a fit. 

We had a long-awaited weekend away with friends the past couple of days, which was lovely. I managed to get so much MS work done on Saturday, too, so it was also hugely productive (not something that usually characterises these weekends with the usual suspects – it must be getting serious). We rented a fantastic house on the water at Cottage Point, which is a brilliant weekend getaway location because it’s ridiculously close to Sydney, and in no time at all you’re plunged into protected national parkland and the restful surround sound of total serenity. A-h-h-h.

Just as Llew and I were on the final approach, the threatening storm started breaking, and by the time we were enjoying our first pre-dinner drink on the balcony with the rest of the crew, a spectacular sound & light show was well underway. It was a magnificent vantage point. The shuddering bolts of lightning hitting the water and the rumbling thunderclaps made for a very dramatic backdrop to the night. Especially once the power went, because then lightning was the only thing we could see. But we found candles, and there was some kind of back-up generator casting limited light through the house, and really the storm became a memorable part of the fun. 

Eating, drinking, more eating, more drinking, eating, drinking. The end. 

I’m still feeling the effects, a classic case of needing a weekend of doing nothing to recover from a weekend of doing nothing. Well, we swam in the pool, lazed around with cups of tea, ate Tim Tams, read the papers and various magazines (and nursed a lap top, in my case), the boys went fishing (Llew caught the only fish, a flathead that was very, very tasty), the girls caught up on all the news at our leisure, and then we all threw on our glad rags and wandered down to the gorgeous Cottage Point Inn for dinner on the waterfront. A classic evening ensued. We drank to excess, we danced, we sat up late watching Australia beat England in the rugby (although it was not pretty to watch – a miserable game, really), we rumbled (not me personally, I hasten to add), blood was spilt, a lip was split, wine was spilt (on me, not by me)… and there was even the unusual spectacle of two 35-year-old men engaged in a fierce battle involving all their brute strength and a couple of throw cushions… 

And yesterday four of us rented a little runabout to cruise around the point and soak up the superb natural environment of native gums, jutting cliffs of sandstone, and still, clear water bending round inlets and sandy beaches and endless pristine ranges. One tree looked like Medusa, or an ancient witch doctor, standing by the water commanding its hidden spirits to rise. In the silence, you hear everything, even the distant sound of your own imagination reawakening.

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What Happened Back There?

November 14, 2008 at 7:59 am (Uncategorized)

Here’s a conversation I never expected to have:

“Hello?”

“Hello, yes, it’s Ellie from X Podiatry.”

“Hi, yes.”

“Look, I’ve spoken to X, and he won’t be making that house call this afternoon.”

(I’ve been trying to find someone who makes house calls for weeks – those toes need immediate attention and Nana’s not doing anything about it on her own)

“Oh? What’s happened?”

“He has been to see that lady before, and he’s not going to do it again.”

“I’m sorry?”

“She abused him. He made a house call there about 18 months ago, and she got abusive, so he’s not prepared to see her again. So thank you for making the appointment, but he won’t be going there this afternoon.”

“Abusive? That doesn’t sound like my nana at all. I can’t imagine her being abusive.’

(background info: podiatry has been a sore point in more ways than the obvious. SOMETHING went down with this guy, because when I first raised the idea of a home visit, she said ‘Someone used to come, and I didn’t like him at all. I wasn’t impressed, and I don’t want to see him again.’ I thought, what are the chances it’s the same guy? Come on! But Nana heard his name and straightaway said ‘I think it’s that fellow, the one that came before. I didn’t care for him.’ And I said ‘Well, look, those toes need attention, so he can come once and if it is the same man we’ll go to someone else next time,’ thinking sure, sure, Nana, it’s the same podiatrist and you’ve only had one husband – of course! I believe you! I believe every word you say! And what do you know? It’s the same guy! Can I win a trick? No! I can’t!)

‘Well, that’s what he said, and he’s not prepared to go and see her again. You might try Maryanne someone or other. I don’t know her last name, but I might be able to drive past her house and see if she’s got the board out front with her number on it. I’ll call you back with the number if I can get it down in time. You know, driving by.’

‘Oh, okay…um…sure, that would be great…’ thinking, what? 

‘Other than that you can try the Podiatry Association. I’m sure word hasn’t gotten out, ha ha ha.’

‘Okay, I’ll do that. Thanks.’

‘Good luck!’

I’m still reeling. Nana denies all charges, and I must say, she’s been capable of being a bitch and a pain in the arse over the years, but she’s turning 85 in a couple of weeks, which means she was eighty-three when she toed-off with the foot doctor, and I have never seen her abuse anyone. Abusive? It’s such a strong term. What did she do? Beat him with those infected toe nails as he was on bended knee assessing the damage? Who the hell knows. But we’re back to square one in the toe maintenance department.

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Breathe Deeply, and Count to Ten While You Still Can.

November 12, 2008 at 11:28 pm (Uncategorized)

I know, I know, I’m a dirty rotten blogger who shirked her responsibilities yesterday, but I think you’ll forgive me when I tell you about my day. First up, more Nana stuff. We’re still waiting for the cavalry to arrive – love those public healthcare waiting lists – but in the meantime, there was another assessment yesterday by Helen from the Botany Respite Centre. They pick up busloads of oldies from around the area and take them off to the centre for lunch and a bit of socialising, sometimes even bringing in entertainers to liven things up a little. After a hot lunch, they’re driven home again and seen to their door. All this for the bargain price of twenty bucks a visit. Outstanding value, if you ask me. And important for Nana, I think, because as she started to slide, she started withdrawing from the company of her peers, and now I don’t think she hangs out with anyone in her complex at all. It’s apparently all part of the onset of dementia/Alzheimer’s, perfectly standard behaviour, but no more comforting or enjoyable for that, I may assure you. So I think a regular outing with people her own age – many of whom are also suffering from dementia, according to Helen, who did the assessment yesterday – is an excellent idea. Nana didn’t care for the sound of it over the phone, but she was much more receptive once Helen was there giving her the pitch in person. She’s signed up to start going every Monday – another lady from her complex goes thrice weekly, so it can’t be too bad! – but let’s just keep our fingers crossed and see how it goes. Nana gets very peculiar about committing to things now. Even after agreeing, and choosing a day, and seeming to understand it would be happening on Monday, when Helen tried to talk to her about pick-up times, she said “Oh, I can’t really get into that” – things to do, you see. Busy, busy. When I first broached the idea with her, she said she wasn’t interested because she’s “got too many other things on her plate.” “Oh,” I said, rather surprised to find her dance card so full, “like what?” “Oh things, things, too many things.” Yes. Like compulsively buying books. “What are you reading at the moment, Nana?” “I’m not reading anything at the moment.” No, you see, I didn’t think so. And her busy schedule is a similar trick of the light. Or the mind, as the case may be (and is).

Going to the bank with her yesterday to make sure she had some cash in her wallet was excruciating. She wanted to give her expired bus ticket to the teller. Apparently she could get a new one from the Commonwealth Bank. Yep. “Why would they have bus tickets at the bank, Nana?” Pause. “I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t think they do,” I said. She looked away from me, thoroughly miffed. Not that she needed one, oh no, because this one in her hand (and then back in her bag, and then out of the bag and back in her hand, and then back in the bag, and then out of the bag and back in her hand) was still good. She pointed to some random branding on it and said, “See,” like it was all there, all the proof she needed. I turned it over and pointed at the date. “It says October 31, Nana. See this? That’s the date. October 31. That was two weeks ago. This ticket’s expired. Give it to me and I’ll throw it out for you.” She wouldn’t. Would. Not. Not on her life was she relinquishing the useless bit of magnetic striped paper. We had a ticket tug-o-war right there in the bank queue. Stubborn old girl. And strong. I let go in the end. “Fine,” I thought. “You keep your expired ticket, then. See if I care. See how far it gets you. Go on.” 

 

Then we went to the chemist, where Nana’s supposed to go every day to take her meds because she can’t be trusted to take them on her own at home. They hadn’t seen her since last Friday. “I’m supposed to come in here every day?” she said. “Oh no, I don’t think so.” The chemist, his assistant and I all looked at each other. “We’ve called her every day to remind her,” the chemist said. “Richard called you this morning, Nana.” “No he didn’t.” “Yes, I think he did. He’s been calling every day.” “He must have left a message. I must have been out.” “No, Nana. He spoke to you.” As I said to them, I don’t know what to do. I just don’t know what to do. I am unwilling and unable to make caring for Nana my full-time role. Help is slow to arrive and she is not managing on her own. I just don’t know what to do. 

Anyway, whilst she was having a circulation booster at the chemist, I went and bought our lunch and some groceries for her to take home. And after putting Nana on her bus home, I went in the exact opposite direction to my meeting with the writer Charlotte Wood, who so, so kindly agreed to meet up and give me some plot pointers. She’s wonderful, so generous with her time and ideas, and can we all please go and buy  one of her books? Her latest is The Children. I’d love to tell you all about the meeting, because I had a lightbulb moment about my MS structure, but I fear I’ve already kept you too long for one day… tomorrow, perhaps.

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I’d Like to Trade the State Government in for a New Model

November 11, 2008 at 6:33 am (Uncategorized)

Mmm… more good news out of the State Government. What a pack of raging incompetents. And I’d like to call the State Opposition to account too, because losing the last election really took some doing given the way everyone feels about the sitting government. Nice job, people. Losing the election that couldn’t be lost. But my special vitriol is certainly reserved for the State Labor Government, who don’t seem answerable to anyone, least of all tax payers, or should I say tax payers in Liberal seats. Those of us who live in said seats can clearly go fuck ourselves. 

Today’s State Government mini-budget reveals the State of Disrepair – oh look, that would be New South Wales – pretty damningly. Why aren’t they accountable? How long has Labor been in power in NSW now…? Is it 12 years? Why don’t we the tax payers have leverage in the way shareholders do? If the board of directors of a listed company tried to get away with this level of SCREAMING INCOMPETENCE, they’d be out on their ear. No one would stand for it. So why do we in NSW have to put up with these clowns? I suppose we’re to blame. We’re the mugs who let it happen.

What recourse is there? Really? What can we do? If you look at their brilliant plan for addressing the public transport woes of the whole of Sydney, you’ll see it includes further punishing the entire northern beaches area for its predominantly Liberal leanings.  Bend over, and brace yourself for another spanking. This whole region’s public transport has been so comprehensively abandoned and ignored by the State Government that many people have no choice but to drive to work. If you’re living somewhere like Avalon, this means leaving home at about 6 am – or else risk a traffic jam of truly epic proportions that turns what’s already a long drive into an utterly maddening one. I’ll never forget the one time I took the public transport option into the CBD from Llew’s parents’ place in Palm Beach. I got on a bus at 6:30 am and I was late for work. I was so out of my mind with fury by the time I got to the office that I burst into tears. It doesn’t work; people drive.

But now drivers coming from the north are going to be hammered with yet another toll increase, this time as they attempt – probably fail, but attempt – to cross the Harbour Bridge during peak hour. Yep, that’s another dollar every single day. Oh, and if you thought you’d change tack and start parking in Manly and taking the JetCat over to the city instead? Well, northern beaches residents, you can forget that too. Because those dimwitted corrupt buddy boys are getting rid of it. Yep – they’ve just axed the most efficient mode of transport into the city there is. It keeps people out of their cars and off the roads, plus there is no faster way into town from Manly short of a private helicopter, and even then you’d be pushing it. So what do they do with the one piece of good public transport on the northern beaches? Oh, well, they cancel it, of course. And sorry, it was hardly a bargain ride. People pay a lot of money to ride the JetCat every day, and they do it because it’s worth it. But oh no, the muppets in charge have got a better idea. Let’s just pretend none of those tax payers exist. Let’s just wipe them – and their property values, thank you VERY much, fuck knuckles – right off the map. Except when it comes to taking our money. They’ll still do that. They have no problem finding us then. 

NOT. GOOD. ENOUGH. It’s just not good enough. It’s blatantly discriminatory against the people living in Liberal seats, and it’s not good enough. I want my State back.

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