Saturday, 29 December 2007

A Valuable Lesson

What kind of intelligent, progressive human beings would we be if we failed to learn anything from Christmas? For example, I learned that I can only buy my husband so many watch fobs before he becomes exasperated at having to remind me for the tenth year in a row that he doesn’t actually own a pocket watch, and he learned that fancy hair-combs do nothing to improve the appearance of his wife’s newly-shorn locks.

I learned that, while my in-laws are unlikely ever to improve to a degree that I voluntarily seek out their society, with a lot of determination, effort and forbearance on my part, Christmas Day spent with them can actually be more bearable than I would have thought possible. Sure, they’re still going to swear like troopers, blaspheme like they haven’t just been to Christmas Mass, and scream like harpies in a most un-Christmassy manner. They’re still going to tell appalling so-called ‘jokes’ that aren’t funny in the least (one was about bringing my baby home from hospital and burying it in the back yard; another denigrated Jews and made light of the Holocaust). But, keeping in mind the promise I’d made to myself to try reeeeeeeally hard to get along with them on that of all days, I somehow managed to rise above the despair-inducing fug which emanates from them with each utterance.

I ignored the idiocy! With an iron will I kept my face a mask of impassivity! I initiated conversation! I chatted with the ill-mannered child, my niece! I managed a tolerable show of graciousness! I even smiled at the less offensive jests. And as if my unaccustomed efforts jolted the planets out of their normal courses into some rare alignment, my in-laws were seemingly less objectionable than usual.

Perhaps they responded subconsciously to my improved behaviour. Perhaps it was extraordinary luck the usual noxious stream of prattle remained largely dammed behind their teeth. Perhaps it was a Christmas miracle. All I can say is, I’m glad I’ve learned that maybe, just maybe, time spent with them doesn’t have to be such a trial after all, if I only try to be a (much) more tolerant person.

Just don’t ask me to try it too often – after all, Christmas comes but once a year.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

A Return to Normal Programming

Christmas Day is over for another year; strife on earth and ill will to all men may now resume.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

God Bless Us, Every One

I don’t usually write serious blog posts, mainly because I’m too ignorant to construct rational, reasoned and well-informed essays on important issues, or because I’m too selfish and self-centred and petty, or because earnestness and sincerity tend to seem trite and affected when my inadequate little brain tries to convert them into the written word. I’ll keep this short, then, and trust to your goodwill to regard this humble Christmas offering in a favourable light.

As hollow as it sounds to me, given that Christmas is a difficult time for more people than not, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with health and happiness.

Without wishing to pontificate on philanthropic gestures (Lord knows that would make me an insufferable hypocrite), this year I’m really going to try to be thankful for what I have, even down to spending the better part of Christmas Day with my (really) annoying (and not-usually-to-my-liking) in-laws. It’s a prospect which, though not exactly my preferred option, is a darn sight better than that facing many people at this time that all the corny movies and cynical ads rub in the faces of the lonely and bereaved as a time to spend with family. I will try and remember others who are less fortunate than I; in particular, L and T – God grant you comfort in your time of grief; my thoughts and prayers are with you.

Stay safe and happy, and God* bless us, every one.

P.S. Confused and disturbed by this uncharacteristic post? Normal posting (ie: meaningless, small-minded twaddle) will resume whenever I can stir my spreading derrière into action.

*Substitute with deity/life force/benevolent entity of your choice.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Christmas is a cruel time for the lonely

My poor, neglected blog. Who would you have to love you, if not me? If you're very lucky and very well-behaved, Father Christmas may bring you an early present of a new blog post, sometime during the 0.5 free days I have before Baby Polony makes an appearance.

In the meantime, rest well and dream of large statcounts.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

An Explanation

I know I’ve been a bit quiet lately on the blogging front – I trust my hordes of devoted readers who check this site several times a day have managed to find a suitable substitute to console them in their empty hours, and stave off morbid contemplations of joining the Foreign Legion. You might be pleased to hear that I’ve been busy negotiating the unexpectedly generous publishing contract for my first novel which I’ve finally finished, and consulting with an architect to build a more spacious and better-constructed house for my growing family.

I’d be pleased to hear that too, if it were true. What’s really been commanding all my time and energy is my ongoing performance in a strange play called Lonie Polony and the Seven Dwarfs. It’s rather an avant-garde adaptation of the Disney movie, with a large chunk of Herman’s Head thrown in. There are no capering, patronising caricatures of short-statured men in my version; instead, the dwarfs are actually aspects of my own character which jostle and compete for dominance in a struggle destined to continue for several more weeks until the show’s run comes to its natural end and I reprise my role in Alien: It Burst From My Uterus.

There’s Happy, first to appear and ever-present, but frequently held down and red-bellied by his rowdier, more demanding brothers. There’s Sneezy, who exploits my lowered immunity and necessary abstinence from most medications to breathe in my face as often as possible, bringing with him the varied delights of hay fever and general unwellness. Bashful insisted that for the sake of accuracy, his name should be changed to Taciturn. He often appears in the company of Sleepy, Dopey and Grumpy, that unconquerable triad who, months ago, warned my husband to “stay off our turf, mofo!” before laughing at the vulgar literalness of their joke, and remaining in the ascendancy ever since.

And don’t forget Doc! He is the only dwarf incarnate in this production, and appears right at the end, in the labour ward scene. Played by a different actor every night (the script is very strict on this point), he nevertheless unfailingly strolls into the room just in time to deliver the placenta before pocketing his $3,000 fee.

What I’m trying to say, in my rather long-winded way, is this: expect fewer posts than ever – I’m trying to sleep. Expect dopier writing. Expect more sickness-induced self-pity. Expect more whining and complaining in general. You have been warned, so please, no chiding me for my bad attitude, or Grumpy and his boys will be around to red-belly YOU.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

In Lazy News...IN YOUR FACE!

Sorry about that. What I meant to say was, "Thanks awfully chaps for your votes. I'm honoured and humbled to win one of Diesel's caption contests."

Now back to sleep...

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Help Me, Doctor Freud!

It would appear, Doctor, I’m doomed to nine months of dreams which, while not nightmarish, are also not particularly pleasant. What perplexes me is, I can’t seem to discern any meaning in them, no relevance to my real life. In my latest dream, for example, which left me feeling decidedly angry and frustrated, I happened to be doing things that would never happen in real life, and I was hoping you could help me discover what it all means.

For one thing, I was holidaying at a fancy tropical resort, when in reality I’m working full time while gestating my third child under four. Secondly, I looked fabulous in a bikini although I’ve never been able to do justice to one in real life. Lastly, I was repeatedly slapping my mother-in-law. What can it possibly signify?

Oh…I’m sorry Sigmund, my mistake. It seems your psychoanalytical services are not required after all.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Meanwhile, in the Real World…

Smugly thinking to myself that at least there are some benefits to contracting yet another debilitating virus, which for the past week has left me incapable of much more than sleeping or lying catatonic on the couch, I blithely changed my baby’s horribly messy nappy with the confidence of the nasally-obstructed. I scraped the contents into the toilet, preparing to crow to my husband how relatively un-unpleasant the experience was compared to his latest nappy-related fiasco. And then I realised my finger was smothered in pooh.

Illness-blunted senses: a double-edged sword.

[Please forgive any errors or incoherence; I’m still non compos mentis. One day I’ll tell you why I dislike that phrase so much.]

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Excuse Me, I'm Pregnant

There are several things I like about being pregnant: I can wear all those tops that have languished in my drawer, forlornly awaiting the miraculous day I achieve infomercial-worthy weight loss, because suddenly my rotund belly is no longer unsightly, but ‘beautiful’; I can ignore the fact that ‘eating for two’ is a deceptive and outdated concept, to justify eating two jam doughnuts in a sitting; I’m permitted – no, encouraged – to put my feet up instead of slaving for hours over cleaning chemicals and heavy washing baskets; and of course, a sweet little baby will soon pop out of my nicely pre-expanded birth canal.

Pregnancy being what it is, however, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t things I didn’t like about it. Sure, the closest I’ve come to Hollywood-movie morning sickness was my pregnancy-sensitised stomach rebelling violently at the taste of an envelope I’d just licked, or the couple of times my mouth decided my tooth-brushing made it too clean, and therefore ordered my breakfast to make an encore appearance. I’ve never had high blood pressure, swelling, varicose veins or haemorrhoids, or (thank merciful God) a cyst growing on top of a haemorrhoid, a phenomenon I’d never imagined in my most tortured nightmares before some woman gleefully volunteered that particular personal experience in my unwilling hearing. And while I do suffer with daily heartburn, seemingly constant low-grade illnesses from lowered immunity and the normal discomforts associated with foetal cells multiplying rapidly inside one’s uterus, it’s the invisible symptoms that seem to wreak the most havoc.

I’m talking about hormones, those insidious chemicals that have surged through my body like a tsunami of craziness, leaving me awash in aggression, irrationality and paranoia. At least this time I’m prepared for the occasional-to-frequent appearances of Mrs. Hyde, unlike during my first pregnancy when I angrily snubbed my entire bewildered family for two weeks until unburdening myself of exaggerated slights and grievances during a tearful accusatory phone call to my mother from the sick bay at work. Now I’m experienced enough to know that what seem like deliberate attempts by my family and friends to offend and anger me, probably aren’t. However, this realisation does nothing to appease the beast inside, a beast which scoffs at attempted restraint and even the outpourings of a vitriolic blog, instead demanding BLOOD! (or at least lots of swearing and rude hand gestures.)

So it is that I find myself yelling and cursing at other drivers on the road like I haven’t since my callow child-free days (only when the children aren’t in the car with me, of course – what do you think I am, one of those chigger mums whose children’s first word is ‘f***’?). Or I wallow in maudlin contemplation of horrible news stories I normally try to forget for the sake of my own sanity, and weep indulgently at tragedies in movies and books. I harbour resentment against perfectly nice people for causing mild negative effects on my life through no real fault of their own. I find irritants and insults and disdain for my condition in the actions of acquaintances and strangers alike. In short, I’m grumpy, irritable, scowling, bellicose and prone to flash-floods of tears, with none of the self-control a normal functioning adult member of society usually employs.

Yeah, pregnancy hormones. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Farewell, My Friend

It was only today in the doctor’s waiting room that I realised how serious your condition is: the etched wrinkles, the peeling skin, your dull and worn-out appearance. I can’t pretend it didn’t shock and sadden me, even though I’ve known for some time that our days together are coming to an end. It doesn’t seem fair – we met short years ago, and I thought we’d be together forever, but now I don’t even know whether we’ll see in the New Year together.

When first we met I felt an instant attraction, and we’ve been close companions ever since. I remember many an occasion you kept chill winds from me with your close embrace, and often it seemed your mere presence was enough to comfort me on days of grey and gloom. Whenever we were out in public I always felt so proud of you – you drew so many admiring stares and compliments, and by association made me look and feel great. Now, because of your delicate condition, we don’t go out much anymore.

I fear it won’t be long until our memories of happy times will be the only things we have left to share. Each time I study you, trying not to let my concern show, you seem older, more fragile and too tired to carry on. Perhaps the worst aspect of your sad degeneration is my complete futility and utter inability to prevent or even slow the cruel process. The only thing I can offer you is this promise: even when your life is over, I will keep you with me always, and no one shall ever replace you.

How could they? You were the best fake leather coat a girl could have.

Thursday, 2 August 2007



…“Nobody cares!” I want to scream at my in-laws during their incessant chatter…mutter…backstab…


…My boss exclaims over how sick I am but stops short of sending me home…

…Whine…pout…refuse to count my blessings…

There. Now no-one will notice the lack of a proper blog post.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Queen Victoria’s Joke Book

Q: How did Lonie Polony spend her hard-earned day off?
A: Sick and miserable at home, looking after her sick child.

Q: Why was the baby bathed clutching two large balloons on sticks?
A: Because the sick and miserable mother could better endure a couple of eye-pokes here and there, than the inevitable tantrum.

Q: What’s the difference between a pig and a polony?
A: A pig wallows in mud, a Polony wallows in self-pity.

We are not amused.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Lonie Polony and the Vomiting Toilet of Plot-spoilers

What kind of perverse people derive pleasure from spoiling the enjoyment of others? Who vaingloriously posts on the internet pre-release copies of long-awaited books they’ve acquired through underhand means, and then sits back, a complacent smile on their face, expecting – what, congratulations? The kudos such people seem to think is attached to knowing something before the vast majority of others do? The same kind of people as tag-happy graffitists and knuckle-dragging vandals, that’s who; people who know deep down under all their blubber-like layers of self-absorption and arrogant façades of disdainful superiority that they are such talentless and unpromising losers they are unlikely ever to achieve anything of worth. People who calculate with the meagre brainpower apportioned to them that their sole chance of making any sort of mark is to deface and despoil the work of others.

Thankfully, the day has finally arrived when I can cloister myself away from smug morons and mean-spirited ‘news’ stories from networks trying to trump their rivals. I’m safe from people who accidentally-on-purpose remark in public at three times their normal speaking volume they never saw it coming that




But there’s only so long I can impose a blanket media ban in our house and shun public society. Hmm…

Can’t post – reading.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

A Growing Family Business

Lonie™ Polony is pleased to announce the imminent release of a new product currently in development.

As with all Lonie™ Polony lunchmeats, our customers can be assured of the highest standards of quality, taste and visual appeal – and of course, our famous ‘100% rectum free’ guarantee applies.

Look for the latest addition to our Lonie™ Polony range in early January 2008!

Friday, 6 July 2007

An Impostor In My Midst

I’ve been back at my job at the Department of Meat Products for just over three months now, and I think the nightly dreams about work are finally abating. The intrusion of tedious real life into the realm of fantasy was quite tiring for a while – it was difficult to feel refreshed after a night spent contemplating the ingredients of various lunchmeats, and composing media releases assuring the public that, contrary to recent scaremongering, polonium-210 is not an ingredient of polony.

It seems, however, that the mingling of the mundane and the fanciful is not a unidirectional flow, because lately I’ve noticed odd things happening in my office, as if the lovechild of Gumby and Thursday Next has been strolling around in the Harry Potter books displacing random characters and scenarios in a fit of plasticine pique.

Snape has been wandering our corridors for some time, although I’m pretty sure she’s not an embittered sadist of uncertain allegiance, with a penchant for black and an inadequate hair-care regimen. Then there’s L’Estrange, but I think he’s probably a lot more reasonable and easy to work with than a slightly unhinged, murderous fugitive. We even have a Justin Finch-Fletchley, or at least that’s how I’ve secretly thought of the poor boy ever since I discovered his name was Justin Fossington-Bligh or some such mouthful.

What’s really discombobulating is that someone seems to have cast a rather powerful Confundus Charm over my colleagues and supervisors, such that they seem to think I’m possessed of attributes that make me want to look over both shoulders before asking, “Who, me?”

“You’re a real people-person!” one supervisor enthused at a compulsory feedback session, while I tried to keep from scoffing audibly at his kind but obviously ill-informed praise. I always thought being a people-person meant you had to like people, and enjoy dealing with them on a regular basis, rather than being a solitude-loving homebody who writes vicious personal diatribes on an anonymous blog.

“You’re a very eloquent speaker,” a co-worker assured me after I confessed my nerves over upcoming talks my boss seemed (erroneously) to think I was qualified to give. This time I could not keep the scornful disbelief off my face. Had she not heard my last disastrous work address, during which the whole auditorium laughed at something I intended to be perfectly serious? Had she not witnessed me stuttering awkwardly to strangers at job-related functions, trying and failing to appear erudite by using words such as ‘panacea’, only to have them pause momentarily before gently correcting me to ‘placebo’? Of course not, or she’d never have uttered such an untruth.

Then there was this statement which issued, unfacetious and apropos of nothing, from the mouth of my befuddled boss: “You’re always so cheerful in the mornings!”

It was on hearing this that I knew with certainty something was awry in the Department of Meat Products. Seemingly the only one left clear-headed and rational, it is therefore left to me to ask:

Who am I, and what have I done with the real Lonie Polony?

Saturday, 30 June 2007

Oh, The Inanity!

Have you ever noticed how the people who talk the most are often the ones with the least to say? I’m talking specifically about those who faithfully relate the minutiae of their daily existence as if each inconsequential detail is a pebble on the path to Nirvana, and who subscribe to the notion that ‘everyone is entitled to my own opinion.’ Such are my husband’s family.

Ever since, at only our second meeting, my mother-in-law blithely spoke right over the top of me and my father-in-law blustered scandalously on about A-rabs, Nips, Chinks, and Abos, I gave up trying to converse with them in anything but the sparest fashion. Like squealing in fright at a trench-coated flasher, it only encourages the undesirable behaviour. Now every enforced visit sees me hunkered down in the ‘I must supervise my two small children!’ foxhole, trying to avoid the barrage of outrageously offensive remarks and slow-mo replays of the week’s non-events.

“How heavy d’you reckon this chair is?” my father-in-law might ask as he brings an ordinary wooden dining chair out of the spare room. “Much heavier than it looks!” he will answer himself triumphantly before Mr. Lonie and I can formulate some reply other than a quizzical “Umm…?”

“It’s had about seven coats of paint since we bought it!” f-i-l will then enthuse, undeterred by our glazed expressions, before listing each colour it’s been, from white, to cream, to bone, to beige, to every shade Richie Benaud has ever worn.

Or: “She is my oldest and dearest friend!” my mother-in-law might gush with what she probably believes is sincerity about the woman who just made her lucky escape from the House of Blather. “But hasn’t she gotten fat! She’s absolutely huge! She must have gained at least 140 pounds since I knew her as a girl. I wonder she travels so much, how does she possibly fit in the aeroplane seat? She must need to pay for two tickets and have the armrest up. If she lost a bit of weight she might finally find herself a husband…”

I’m not averse to a bit of histrionic hyperbole in the name of humour and fun, but sadly I’m not exaggerating here, although a lapse into shameless excess would be entirely understandable after a few captive hours in their company. Over the next retellings (of which there will be many), seven coats of paint will become fifteen, and 140 pounds will become 250. The chilly wind on the holiday they took five years ago is now a raging tempest which threatened to induce fatal hypothermia, and the hour at which a boy-Mr. Lonie woke them on Christmas morning is no longer six o’clock but three.

In my weaker moments, usually when I’ve managed to secure more than a few days without having to resort to sub-conscious defensive hunching and attempted selective deafness, I almost feel sorry for my in-laws. With a rare flash of perspicacity I know their small-minded gossip and prating comes from ignorance and – to put it as bluntly as the metaphorical tools-in-the-shed they are: stupidity. Their unabashed exaggerations are a placebo for their sense of inferiority instilled in them by parents which, from all I’ve heard, I can’t help but be glad I never had to meet. Deep down they think, I believe, that surely no-one will deign to bestow their notice, let alone listen to what they have to say, without the promise of thrilling tales and spontaneous-gasp-inducing statistics, and that’s why they practise this twisted form of self-aggrandisement.

The regrettable thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way. I’d much prefer to hear about f-i-l’s varied employment as stockman, RAAF officer, and murderer-catching policeman, but instead I must grit my teeth through parroted recitations of every right-leaning article he’s read in the paper during the week, styled as his own thoughts and conclusions. M-i-l would find me a ready listener were she to recount her youthful days as a news-making daredevil skydiver, but she’d rather engage in pointless quibbling with f-i-l about whether an uninteresting drive to somewhere I’d never care to visit ended at 11:05 or ‘much later!’ at 11:15.

One day they’ll be gone, but it seems they’re content to leave as their monument to posterity not treasured memoirs, but a woeful collection of drivel. It’s not the Hindenburg, but a tragedy all the same.

Friday, 1 June 2007

For Your Reluctant Enlightenment

Gasp! Two posts in two days – what has precipitated such a rare occurrence in these dark days of sausage-centric drudgery? I’d tell you, but…I don’t wanna. Some things sound too insufferably whiney even to me, so instead I present for your amusement/horror/disgust five things you probably never wanted to know about me.

1) When I was about two years old, I stuck a tic-tac so far up my nostril it never came out again. I’m assuming it managed to slide its way down my throat, because as far as I’m aware I don’t have any tic-tac sized growths obstructing my nasal passage. I remember being surprised because the other tic-tacs I’d already eaten had made the return journey into my nose without any problem.

2) I caught glandular fever off the first boy I kissed. I think I got off lightly; he tried to give me a whole lot more. Fortunately for me, I found that short-arse, bandanna-wearing boy's clumsy attempts to give me an early introduction to meat products all-too-easy to refuse.

3) When I was a little girl, I woke in the middle of the night to an unwontedly urgent call of nature. Leaping out of bed, I whipped off my pyjama bottoms and underpants to facilitate a quicker connection of rear end and toilet. As I raced to the loo, I stepped on something that didn’t belong on my floor, something that must have slipped out of my undies after its premature arrival during my sleep. It was a pellet of pooh. That was a long time ago, and two babies have presented me with a lot worse since, but oh! I can’t help cringing at the memory.

4) I once got so drunk I spent the entire next day in bed, puking up the meagre contents of my stomach. The revolting sight of green, phlegmy stomach-lining globbing into my enamelled wash basin was nevertheless accompanied by weak relief that at last, there was nothing left to bring up. Accepting shot after shot after shot from creepy older men in China didn’t seem like such a bad idea the night before - I sometimes marvel I survived my salad days relatively unscathed.

5) I once flashed my boobs in a busy street. I’d rushed out of the house that morning stupidly forgetting my bra in my haste, and had been wearing a jumper to preserve some modicum of decency. In the afternoon warmth I absentmindedly removed my jumper, my top rose up with it and [cue Benny Hill music] instant nudie show! Of course, my boobs have made public appearances many times since then in their capacity as milk-dispensers, so I'm no longer mortified by the experience. And every goggling teenage boy needs a break now and then.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

I'm It!

After much wheedling, Hazelblackberry has prevailed upon me to participate in one of these blog-meme whatsits, and as I had nothing better to do I finally agreed to grace the online public with fascinating insights into ‘Why I blog’. (Actually, we all know I’ve been hopping around on the balls of my feet, hand in the air, pleading, “Pick me! Pick me!” to the well-connected and oft-tagged since I first started blogging, so I’ll try not to widdle with excitement while I set down for your perusal my raisons de blog.)

1) It was on my list of ‘Things To Do Before I Die’, and seemed somewhat easier to achieve than fluency in German from a ‘teach yourself’ cassette tape, or finding someone to publish a book with only two completed chapters. “Ich trinke wein in Wien,” and “Scheisse! Zis vill neffer verk!” is about as far as I have gotten with those latter two objectives.

2) I can pretend I’m keeping my creative writing juices flowing, instead of acknowledging the car that is my novel is stranded in the Nullabor Plain with an empty petrol tank. And the tyres are punctured. And it’s rusting to dust. And the Department of Meat Products road train is ruthlessly bearing down on it, ready to flatten it into sheet metal. And I’m too lazy to heave it out of the way because that would mean less sleep for me and I’m oh-so-tired here in the desert sun with two children moaning at me and a report on the proportion of saturated fat in brawn to complete.

But that’s what’s great about blogging, isn’t it? I can whine about how in forty years’ time when I’ve retired from the Department with my gold salami in hand, I’ll be saying Brando-style that I coulda bin a contender, because:

3) A blog is a great medium to whinge and complain, especially if you specify that your blog is a cathartic outlet for pent-up rantings. I can gripe as much as I like about whatever I choose, whether it be work, in-laws, anal probes, in-laws or work, and no one else can really complain because, well, I’ve made my manifesto clear. Caveat lector and all that.

4) Everyone needs a hobby. Various ones have come and gone in my life, but until I took up blogging, nothing so efficiently combined my propensity for physical laziness with my love of anonymous venting. When I’m too bitter even for this, I shall move on to writing parochial letters to the editor, and calling television network feedback lines to bemoan the waste of my tax-payer dollars on avant-garde tripe instead of more programs about old people pottering around at home.

5) Blogging is the new Crack. How sweet were those palpitations of excitement induced by the very first comments on my blog! How frabjous was the day my blog at last became google-able! How gratifying it is to my pathetically insecure ego to welcome each new reader, each return visitor! How delightful it is to pretend I’m in the league of the more talented and amusing people whose blogs I frequent! That’s why, when I can wangle it, I sit for hours in front of the screen, reading avidly, typing feverishly, finally stumbling to bed when my dark-encircled bloodshot eyes can stay open no longer, happy that I’ve secured my fix for another day.

What’s that? Nothing very revelatory in what I’ve just told you? I’ll change the rules, then. The topic is ‘Five things you never wanted to know about me’. You’re it.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

The Art Of Diplomacy

A university lecturer of mine once told me I’d make a great diplomat because I laugh a lot. As well-intentioned as her comment was (she meant, I think, something along the lines of laughter setting a good vibe and making people happy and relaxed), she was overlooking some crucial traits a great diplomat ought to display, such as subtle political sensibilities, a commanding influence, and prowess in the delicate art of high-stakes negotiation – traits which are conspicuously lacking from my character. Contrary to her opinion, I harbour grave doubts about my ability to broker a history-making solution to the Iraq problem by chortling loudly at Dubya’s unfortunate mispronunciation of ‘Shi’ite Muslim.’

We should therefore all be grateful that I am not involved in minimising ethnic strife in Africa, mediating between China and Taiwan, or securing the disarmament of rogue nuclear states. However, there is still the issue of the petty politics of my daily life, which could clearly benefit from the wise guidance of a career stateswoman, but which, alas, I must navigate alone.

The two major obstacles to diplomatic détente, as I see them, are social ineptness borne of shyness, and a stubborn, proud refusal to lie about my feelings and opinions. I’m not so concerned about the former even though most people think I’m an utter twit for saying things like, “Yeah, she has a lot of mental problems,” when what I mean is, “She has a lot of issues weighing on her mind”. I just cross my fingers and hope they can see my verbal vomits for what they are – flustered attempts at conversation, with no malicious intent.

What gets me into awkward situations is the latter character flaw, when I’m forced to express some sort of opinion which, for the sake of ‘if you can’t say anything nice…’ I’d rather not. I dread pregnant acquaintances excitedly announcing the names they’ve chosen (“Neptune for a boy, and Rubella for a girl!”), or new parents proudly showing off their babies (every baby is beautiful – even the ones that look like weird little Jim Henson puppets). I fear being asked what I think of someone’s outfit or hairstyle. I’m ashamed to recall my final farewell to a roommate with whom I’d had a rocky relationship (she hugged me and said sincerely, “I really like you, you know.” I would never see her again and had the chance to release some good energy into the world by saying I liked her too, but instead I submitted limply and replied noncommittally, “Hmm”).

It’s one thing to be true to my feelings and express sincere opinions, but platitudes and evasion will not stave off a breakdown in diplomatic relations forever. I’ve come to the conclusion that sincerity is a two-edged sword that must be tempered with tact and John Howard-style non-core truths. It’s either that, or kick someone under the table next time they ask me in front of three bosses, “So, are you glad to be back at work?”

Monday, 7 May 2007

Problems Of The Privileged

I’m very grateful I have access to good health care and can afford it. That’s why I’m trying really hard not to complain about the administration of the dental practice I visited today, or the size of the refund I received from my private health insurance.

At least I’ll be covered when I burst a blood vessel from the effort.

Monday, 30 April 2007

From Sen. The Hon. Neil O’Nooply

It recently came to the attention of the Minister for Meat Products that certain of his suit-clad minions have breached the Australian Public Service Act (Supplementary) paragraph 10.1, Duty to refrain from looking stupid, and it fell to me to draft a minute to be propagated department-wide, reminding all staff of their obligations. Hereunder a reproduction of the salient points of the minute, including infractions and remedial instructions:

1) Multi-coloured mullets.
No. You are not cool, trendy or young. You are just a (poorly informed) fashion victim with a hairstyle that doesn’t go with anything, let alone business suits or your head.

2) Surf-brand lanyards.
Three times wider than everyone else’s, in eye-blinding colours and emblazoned with trademarks you pay to advertise, these should be avoided by everyone who isn’t a try-hard fifteen-year-old.

3) Expensive utes that have never been on a farm or unsealed road.
What’s the look you’re going for here? Gentleman farmer? Country boy made good? Wealthy landowner? Whatever image you’re attempting to project, the only one I see is ‘tool’ (and not the useful sort).

4) Shorts.
No, no, no, ladies! The weekend was yesterday. I don’t care what Cue has in its window display - today we wear trousers, skirts or dresses.

5) Hands-free mobile phones.
Unless you’re driving a car and on an absolutely necessary call, you should not be sporting one of these. People do not see you swaggering around talking over-loudly into your headset and think, “Now there’s a powerful high-flyer! Look, he’s in constant demand on the phone and far too busy to use his God-given hands!” They think you’re an arrogant technosexual.

Staff are reminded that strict adherence to all parts of the Public Service Act is required for salary progression. Dress code for IT staff remains extant (ie: jeans and tee-shirts are mandatory at all times).

Meanwhile, the Act doesn’t proscribe looking like a comfortable frump, so I guess my pay-rise is in the bag.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Misters Are Doing It For Themselves

I thought he’d learned his lesson after the gaffe shortly before the birth of our second child. The one when I remarked that I hoped this delivery would not occasion the same pain and suffering as the first, whereupon he asked, “What pain?” Sputtering with enraged incredulity, I’d somehow managed to refrain from squeezing his abdomen in a vice and shoving a prize-winning butternut pumpkin through an inadequately tiny orifice while maniacally screaming, “This is what you missed while you watched telly and ate sandwiches, you empathically-challenged pig-man!”

But no. It seems Mr. Lonie wagged a lot of classes at the Academy for Sensitive and Supportive Husbands, because even the greenest of dangly-genitaled spouses would have the decency, if not the self-preservation instincts, to prevent his latest clanger from passing their lips.

“Why does it feel like I do everything around here?” I complained, referring pointedly to Mr. Lonie’s habit of sitting at the computer monitoring sports results while the housework and child-wrangling is accomplished seemingly magically around him. “Hmm, sometimes I feel the same way,” he said. Not as in, “You’re right Darling, I’m sorry I haven’t been helping more”; but as in, “That’s funny, I thought I did everything in this house.”

You can imagine my flabbergastedness. I was so shocked it took a few minutes for the righteous anger to seep into my consciousness, but if he thought for that few minutes he could voice such an outrageous opinion with impunity, he was wrong. Just in case I’d grossly miscalculated, I mentally ran through my obligations and accustomed duties, tallying them against his. “Nope,” said the little accountant in my brain, punching some final numbers into his calculator. “The figures say FIRE AWAY!” So fire away I did.

It was a short, sharp volley which ended in the perhaps none-too-mature denunciation: “You think you do all the work around here? Well now you can see what that’s really like!” followed by my desistance from all normal tasks and complete refusal to lift a finger to help. (Well, except for the grocery shopping. And the laundry. And the washing up. Because if you want something done properly, and all that.)

The only apology I received was half-hearted and obviously insincere, so until I get a real one, I’ll be enjoying my new leisure time. And Mr. Lonie can forget any bedroom hijinx – he’ll soon learn the meaning of doing everything himself.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Ripped off, metaphorically speaking

After its failure to provide me with the anticipated twenty-nine dollars and ninety-five cents worth of enjoyment, it was with a faint sense of disappointment that I returned a book, the latest to fulfil its raison d’être, to the shelf.

The prose was tritely formulaic and the protagonist another eye-rollingly boring woman of great beauty and greater character flaws, who ultimately finds redemption and a happy ending in the arms of the man she loves. Yawn. The characters were as endearing as my baby’s last vomit, and the enticing premise was nothing but a fraudulent ruse, an invitation to undertake a free personality test before an assault by pests worse than scientologists – and the natural enemy of high-school essayists everywhere – metaphors.

Alright, so maybe I should have expected as much, given my selection of a book from the magical realism genre. And I know that must seem like an odd complaint, given that many of the books I enjoy are intentionally rich in metaphors, allegory and social commentary, but the beauty of those stories is that they can, if like me you are lazy-minded and still rebelling against minute analysis of dull school curriculum books, be read as simple tales of good versus evil, or triumph over adversity, or coming of age, or sentient meat products.

What I object to is the laboured metaphor, the diversion from the narrative to irrelevant details designed to sledgehammer the author’s ‘real’ message into our heads, and repeated every couple of pages just in case us thickies didn’t get it the first dozen times. I’m talking about such twaddle as a character inexplicably stopping to pull at a loose thread, and find it unravelling just like her predictable life is unravelling! Or interspersing scenes from The Wizard of Oz with the heroine’s own adventures, because she too is both literally and figuratively lost, and realises there’s no place like home!

Do I lack an appreciation for creative works with non-literal meanings? Probably. I dislike modern dance. Stanley Kubrick films have stolen hours of my life that I want back. I look at most modern art and see bogus tailors making clothes for the emperor. Does this mean I’m contemptibly low-brow? Perhaps. Sometimes my brows are so low I could pass for the amazing moustachioed woman. So to appease my ruffled sensibilities, the next book I read is going to be a familiar favourite, one I know I can enjoy just for the story, without exhausting my brain with ponderings on deeper significance. I was thinking of Animal Farm.

Monday, 16 April 2007

This Is Me...

…but not. My skin is redder, my body more cylindrical, my insides less offally (guaranteed 100% rectum free!), but you get the idea.

I’m off to bed – it’s more comfortable than my computer desk. Wish me sweet dreams that aren’t about populating work databases, and perhaps tomorrow I’ll actually get around to posting something worth a click.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Exhausted and Blasphemous

The intelligence and aptitude tests I was forced to take for my current job are obviously not the dunce-filters my department hoped they were, because I find myself burdened with responsibilities I feel grossly incompetent of shouldering to my satisfaction.

After weekdays now spent alternately berating myself for being an ignorant moron whose underachievement must surely become clear to my colleagues and supervisors once a reasonable period for patient understanding has expired, and marvelling at the contradiction within my ethos which allows me to adopt a ‘good enough is good enough’ attitude towards practically everything else but places such high demands on my performance in a position which lost its lustre long ago, I find I have insufficient energy and brain power remaining to formulate a blog entry of any description, let alone a mildly diverting one. Weekends have not been spared, either; my former days of rest are now victims of the cruel housework:spare time equation.

So, Dear Readers, thanks for your loyalty. While I have absolutely no illusions about the interest in the earth-shattering reports I'm paid to produce, on things I can’t imagine anyone possibly caring about, it’s nice to know that someone reads and perhaps enjoys at least some things I write.

Oh, and Jesus? Thanks for the long weekend! That whole excruciating-death-and-miraculous-resurrection-to-save-mankind-from-our-sins thing was pretty cool too.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Fugitive Recaptured!

“A dangerous fugitive is back in custody today after evading capture for 12 months. Lonie ‘Lunchmeat’ Polony was hauled before the authorities and summarily sentenced to an indefinite period of tedious labour for her crimes against society.

“Known to broadcast her unsolicited opinions among the innocent members of Bloggerland through the medium of a ‘blog’, she was found guilty of subjectiveness, tiresomeness and ‘whingeing like a Pom’.

“Polony’s defence relied heavily on supplication to the compassionate nature of the governing powers, citing motherhood to two small children as grounds for continuing freedom. However, she failed to recognise the complete lack of compassion or empathy in the very seigniors to whom she plead her case.

“We believe Polony may, given the slightest opportunity, attempt escape and a return to her antisocial behaviour. Whilst citizens should ON NO ACCOUNT confront Polony, who is considered armed and dangerous, we urge the public to be continually on their guard against further cyber-rampages, and to report any sightings of Polony or her perfidious works on 1800 123 400.

“That’s all for this special news bulletin, I’m Ivor E. Towers. Goodnight.”

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Mother Of The Year

I’ve stuck stickers on my baby just so I can laugh at him perplexedly trying to remove them.

I’ve let him snack on ice-cream cones and eat food he dropped on the floor.

I’ve added chocolate syrup to his formula (which ‘they’ insist he must have while I’m at work) because I can’t get him to drink it any other way.

I’ve driven 200 metres down the road before Miss Lonie piped up: “Mummy didn’t strap me in!”

I’ve done all this and more because I’M THE BEST MOTHER IN THE WORLD!

(Britney Spears and Madame Bovary also ran.)

Thursday, 22 March 2007


Two pockets of old-growth forest were arbitrarily razed today. Countless unique species were lost forever, and too late the ruin of a Thylacine den was discovered in the stark desolation.

I hadn’t realised it had been so long since I last shaved my armpits, and I must say, even with my lucky inheritance of the South-East Asian propensity towards sparse body hair, I was surprised at how productive those little follicles have been. It’s not that I think women with unshaven armpits are, as one well-adjusted netizen has opined, ‘lesbian sasquatches’; in fact I see the merit of the argument that ‘real’ women (as opposed to pre-pubescent girls) have hairy armpits, although I haven’t encountered many women who subscribe to that notion within my circle of acquaintance.

When I lived in China it seemed common for women to leave their armpits au naturel, and I still remember my mother wrinkling her nose in distaste at what she considered the East German female Olympians’ unsightly hirsuteness. Perhaps it’s bourgeois to shave? Well, call me a counterrevolutionary running dog, because I choose to maintain depilated axillae – when I’m not living a vanity-neutral (the less charitable might say slovenly) lifestyle, that is.

Shocking as it may seem to those who disagree that house slippers are appropriate footwear in which to go shopping, I’ve enjoyed my year of not wearing makeup, not styling my hair, and completely eschewing pantyhose and high heels. But now it’s time to let my outward appearance reflect my change of circumstances, and smarten up for the office. So I’m taking up the hems on my new trousers, dusting off the makeup, and deciding which hair product to helmet my hair with. Oh, and Ferals? Chaining yourselves to the trunks will not dissuade me: logging starts on my legs tomorrow.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

My Medical Certificate

To Whom It May Concern:

I have examined Lonie Polony who is
suffering from

A psychosomatic disorder

And will be unfit for work from 26 March 2007 to indefinitely

Signed Dr. Lionel Nopoy

Please bear with me while I post another return-to-work rant – or else just go away, twiddle your thumbs/have a cold shower/enter a chubby bunny contest and come back another day when there may be a post more to your liking.

Over the last week or two I’ve begun to feel weird aches, pains and heartburn afflicting my poor polony body. I’ve blamed everything from too much lactose to bug-filled reservoir dregs (insert Mr. Brown joke here), and even did a wee on a stick to rule out an unscheduled firing of my uterine oven. However, I’ve had to conclude that in the (hopefully) unlikely event of kidney stones or one of those horrible giant tumours that makes it into the Guinness Book of World Records, I am indeed, like Miss Hoover, suffering from a psychosomatic disorder. (Whether that means I’m crazy or not is highly contentious – popular opinion has it that my tenuous link with sanity snapped when a speck-cleaning gone awry caused my own eyeball to wrinkle.)

You see, I’m becoming rather anxious about once more donning the yoke of a humble minion to His Manofsteelness and all that entails for my children, our family life and my accustomed sleep-in-and-day-long-pyjamas. Even though over the last couple of weeks I was supposed to ease myself back into the early mornings, the showers in the cold and dark, the application of make-up and wearing of presentable office clothes, and the readying of one helpless and one unaware-of-urgency child to leave the house before eight o’clock, this morning was the first in a loooooong time that I’ve managed to haul my indolent carcass out of bed by then.

And with less than a week to go, I’m experiencing a rush of guilt which is not nearly so pleasant as, say, a rush of melted chocolate, because I haven’t been the baking-and-craft-and-enduring-childhood-memory-creating mum I somewhere got the idea all other at-home mothers are, to my children while I had the chance. So now I’m going to go and assuage that gnawing sensation in my tummy with home-made glue and cut-up cereal boxes, and hope that cleaning up the inevitable house-wide mess will take my mind off that fact that I’m utterly unprepared for going back to work.

Monday 26 March is going to be a scandalously obscene, XXX-rated shock.

Monday, 19 March 2007

While The Cat's Away...

We ordered Chinese takeaway from the restaurant we haven’t eaten at since my mother decided one day she disliked it.

Then my dad passed around Easter eggs.

No-one bothered to record The Bill.

Have a great holiday, Mum! (I love you!)

Saturday, 17 March 2007

I Have My Needs!

I was going to sit down and write a new post, but I’m too distracted by thoughts of once more biting into those soft, creamy-white buns. It’s been some time since we last indulged ourselves, and frankly, with two small children, we haven’t had much time or opportunity.

But now my longing has increased to undeniable desire, and I no longer care what strange things they see or hear – it’s a perfectly natural activity after all, and I can’t shelter them from the facts of life forever. So now I’m going to oil up, and prepare to get really sticky and messy.

Yes, I’m going to make mantou.

Friday, 16 March 2007

Shakespeare For The Modern Woman

Lonie Polony! Beware the ides of March, for that is the day on which a disgusting find in your kitchen will make your stomach turn and give you the long-term heebie-jeebies.

Okay, so no-one jumped out of the pantry and tried to assassinate me, but in my opinion, finding what I suspect to be animal droppings on my kitchen bench is pretty bad. I readily admit I’m far from the most assiduous housekeeper, but I wouldn’t say the place has quite gone to the dogs yet; unfortunately it looks like it’s gone to the mice.

My only small comfort, which I keep repeating out loud to myself as I rock back and forth sucking my thumb, is that I hadn’t noticed the nasty little pellets before today (and yes, I did clean yesterday, smartypants) so let’s all just humour me and agree that last night was our very first (and hopefully last) visit from…whatever it was.

Noticing the curious black calling-card as I wiped down the bench, my Self-Preservation made a valiant attempt at preventing a neurotic meltdown, suggesting it may have been the wizened end of a banana or some currants I’d spilled. Reason turned a blind eye, and they would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for that pesky second dropping.

Rudely thrust out of the blissful state of denial, I spent the next several minutes gazing in horror at Google’s offering of mouse dropping images, desperately hoping the foreign coin used as a scale to demonstrate the difference between mouse and rat pooh was larger than it seemed, because rat scat is worse than a house mouse. And after reading stories of people poisoned by mouse pooh and the horrible details of their demise, and descending into the kind of jumpiness one only expects in lunatics, I decided it was time to bundle the children out of the house and bring down some murine death.

I briefly considered a cat, but opted for a disposable trap which is supposed to enclose and conceal the little corpse, obviously designed for squeamish types like me who don’t want visual evidence they’ve just killed a furry animal they actually find quite cute when it’s not scuttling about the house at night spreading all sorts of diseases. One of the traps was accidentally set off as I decided how to position it for maximum murderous effect, and by golly it was loud. Now I have two conflicting dreads: hearing that horrible noise in the night, or not hearing it and finding more droppings tomorrow.

With an imminent return to work, childcare guilt, a crappy haircut, and legions of spiders and bugs that already torment me with their choice of abode, I hardly need anything else grabbing hold of my delicate nerves to stretch them even more uncomfortably taut. Et tu, Mickey?

Thursday, 15 March 2007

You Know Your Haircut Sucks When...

1) The most common reaction you get is surreptitious, raised-eyebrow glances;

2) The only remarks your loved ones make are:

(a) Huh, I thought you looked different.
(b) You should go to my hairdresser, she’s really good.

Oddly enough, I still like it. It just needs some fine-tuning.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Why Oh Why?

Every so often I feel an irresistible urge to meddle with my appearance in some painful or disastrous way. Whether it’s tweezing my legs, armpits or bikini line, or taking up a pair of scissors and shearing hanks of hair from my head, my better judgement always chooses that moment to turn away and twiddle her thumbs while whistling a carefree tune.

I’ve done it again.

A friend of mine says the only difference between a bad haircut and a good one is two weeks. Let’s hope it’s more like one and a half.

The End Is Nigh

There are now only two weeks to go until my return to work, and I can’t help but feel the same way I used to when I was a schoolgirl: when the gloriously long summer holidays during which the previous year’s lessons trickled out of my brain unchecked were nearly over, and those hateful back-to-school merchandise ads mocked me with their timely bargains. That same pulsating ball of violently ill, metamorphosing larvae is lodged somewhere in the region of my diaphragm (anatomical, not contraceptive), and this time I don’t know if they’ll be appeased by the promise of new stationery.

I’ve been trying to quell the rising dread with reminders of the benefits I’ll soon be enjoying, but my half-hearted attempts at a list have not produced anything compelling. Sure, I’ll be getting paid again, but I’m doubtful there’ll be much left over after Mr. Costello and childcare have taken their sizeable chunks. Yes, I’ll have more interaction with adults, but my children (who even with their tantrums and sometimes maddening behaviour are always preferable to many grown-ups I know) I’ll probably only see for around three hours a day. Alright, my sartorial aesthetics will improve, but have you not read a single post on this blog? I’d go everywhere in my pyjamas if I thought I could pull it off without looking like an escapee from the psychiatric ward.

The only outcome of a return to work I can grudgingly admit may be positive, is receiving sufficient stimulation for my brain to return to reasonably intelligent function. I’m talking about being able to think of the mot juste without having to resort to frequent consultation of the thesaurus and dictionary, or even worse having it elude me entirely like a butterfly just out of reach of my tattered and ineffectual net. I’m referring to the ability to string together a sentence, a paragraph, a page of something vaguely interesting to read that doesn’t leave me sunk in despair and clinging to my earlier scrawlings like a once-vaunted starlet now fallen into obscurity obsessively watches her own films to remind her she was once The Next Big Thing.

Then I can lament the lack of time and energy to fulfil my childhood ambition, whilst deflecting attention from my laziness, half-arsedness and disavowed mediocrity, so much more eloquently.

In the meantime, there’s a well-stocked supply room in my office building – and there’s a fistful of pens with my name on it.

Monday, 12 March 2007

Stunned (at his) Mullet

The other day I saw a barber – a barber, mark you! – with one of the longest, waviest, ugliest mullets I’d ever seen. It wasn’t even one of those so-called ‘fashion mullets’ (there’s an oxymoron if ever I’ve heard one) so popular with naked-emperor hairstylists and fashion victims everywhere. Think Billy Ray Cyrus at the height of his inexplicable Achy Breaky Heart popularity, then multiply by chigger to the power of 10.

Obviously a professional not to be trusted.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

I Am The Eggwoman

In primary school I was once the object of that delightfully Arthur Tunstall-esque taunt, “Ching-chong Chinaman”, complete with traditional accompanying facial expression (fingers pulling up the corners of the eyes, front teeth poking out in an exaggerated overbite). Far from being upset, I think the only response it elicited from me was a disdainful snort, because:

a) I’m not Chinese;
b) I don’t look Chinese; and
c) There’s nothing wrong with being or looking Chinese anyway.

Also, the chigger brat was at least two years younger than I and therefore beneath my consideration. My point is, the only reason his obviously rarely-used cerebral cogs screeched into action to produce that childish gem of wit was because he discovered I am, in fact, a boiled egg.

That’s right – part white and part yellow, all wrapped up in a pale exterior. That’s the metaphor I came up with to describe my cultural affinities after I first heard the term ‘banana’: a humorous and sometimes derogatory epithet applied to Orientals who feel more affinity with Occidental culture.

My dad is Kadazan, which makes me half Kadazan (or more accurately, 15/32 parts Kadazan, 1/32 parts Chinese and 16/32 parts assorted British descent – you figure it out). I was born and grew up in Sabah, in a kampung (village) where everyone is a relation of some sort. Those days were the stuff of rosy-tinted nostalgia, when children and dogs roamed at will, and herds of recalcitrant water buffaloes ate our banana trees down to the ground; when the jungle grew up to our back perimeter but we were never allowed exploring because of wild boars; when our gardener chopping the heads off brown cobras that had slithered into our gutters was an exciting but not uncommon occurrence; when a long-cut through the padi fields to our grandparents’ house was a leech-and-barbwire adventure.

Now I live in Australia in a normal suburban house and the last time I visited Sabah was almost two years ago. My Eurasian features seem to have become indiscernible to all but the most careful observers, and the language I once spoke as fluently as English (Malay) has vanished, leaving only vestiges of utterances and wisps of comprehension in the recesses of my memory. It’s a crying shame I never learnt Kadazan and can’t understand a word.

We grew up eating ‘Asian’ style, serving ourselves from a variety of dishes in the centre of the table: food like small, whole fried fish, the eyes of which I would gleefully pop out and swallow down, or chicken curry which my sister would always fish around in for the tiny, bite-sized heart.

The legacy of those early foods is me self-consciously prowling around Asian food shops looking for treats Mr. Lonie mostly wrinkles his nose at, and imagining the owners and customers wondering which place this honky was looking for when she accidentally wandered in here. I like pork and chicken floss. I like slices of green mango dipped in a mixture of soy sauce and sugar. I like salty plums. I like fresh pomelo with salty plum spices. I like fresh lime drinks. I like Milo with condensed milk and ice. I like glutinous rice cakes. I like dried cuttlefish. I like coconut jam. I like the small sweet discs with the ever-amusing name ‘Haw Flakes’ which we, in our childish innocence, sacrilegiously pretended were communion wafers. I like dozens of other things I haven’t had for years, but are linked inextricably in my memories with the place that will always have a claim to the title ‘home’.

Now I rarely have the time, money or inclination to eat out, and I usually cook Western style food. On our last trip back to Sabah, a taxi driver asked me if I thought of myself as Malaysian or Australian, and I said Australian. Perhaps if my Malay were better I might have added that I’m an Australian who appreciates proper satay! And proper roti canai! And proper mee goreng! It’s just not quite the same here.

Our family name, a fairly recent concept to Kadazan nomenclature, was made up by my grandfather who knew how to bend with the wind blowing during the last years of British rule. He modified it from my dad’s Kadazan name, and instead named my father after an English king, and my great-great-great grandfather from China. Our name sounds honky enough but I am constantly spelling it for people who promptly go ahead and spell it the wrong way anyway.

Now, with names that could otherwise be straight from Old Blighty, I’ve gifted (or saddled) my children with a Kadazan middle name to commemorate their cultural heritage. The names are what some might politely call unusual or exotic, (and what those more ignorant might less politely call weird or unpronounceable), so I hope my children don’t resent me after they’ve had to spell them to careless people for years!

There are so many things about being an egg which I take for granted, and I forget other people just see a white girl banging on about Asians being obsessed with food, or rolling her eyes and groaning about ‘Asian Dad*’, or asking personal questions that are inappropriate in Western society, and think I’m shockingly un-PC. Then when I see their wary expressions I have to quickly explain that no, I’m not a racist social retard.

There is an old Kadazan joke that when God fashioned the people of the earth out of ontological dough and put them in the oven to bake, those nearest the flames were burnt black – these were the Africans and South Asians. Those furthest away were pale and undercooked – these became the Europeans. Everyone else fell somewhere in between, but one people turned out a perfectly cooked, golden-brown. These, of course, were the Kadazan.

So if I say things about my family that you think are cringe-worthy, remember: I may be on the underdone side, but I’m not half-baked.


*A sociopathic condition my eggy friend and I identified several years ago. This condition typically manifests in a demanding obsession with filial piety, the asking of inappropriately personal questions to anyone including the newest of acquaintances, and a petulance borne of an overly indulgent upbringing.

Monday, 5 March 2007

Bane of the Real Estate Agent

I have a confession. I’ll get it out quickly while you’re still reeling from the shock that Lonie Polony has yet another foible: I like to go to open homes I have no intention of buying, just so I can have a good old-fashioned stickybeak at someone else’s house.

I like to wander around the house and garden casting a critical eye over everything and pointing out assets and liabilities in an informed-sounding manner. I enjoy the role of ‘Prospective Buyer’ because it is the perfect cover under which to open drawers, peer into cupboards and flick switches with no accusations of impropriety. Whereas I would never so much as peek into the bathroom cabinets of my family and friends, the open home of a stranger is a wonderful place to do all the nosing around one’s heart may desire.

Now before you reach for your phones to report a predatory criminal, let me clarify things. I don’t paw through people’s personal belongings. I don’t scope out houses as part of my plan for a series of daring heists. I don’t pilfer small objects as tokens of a string of psycho serial killings to be carried out at a later date. I just like to see what other people’s living spaces are like. I like to inspect their layout, room sizes, and décor. I like to grimace at their ugly furniture or wallow in envy of their out-of-my-price-range kitchen or store away interesting architectural and decorating ideas that had never occurred to me. It’s a cheap outing and a variation on a favourite Polony family fantasy, ‘What I would do if I won the lottery’.

The problem is I’m a bad liar and a terrible actor. It’s all very well to troop through an empty display home along with other people curious about the latest designs and environmentally-friendly innovations, but an occupied home guarded by a leaflet-wielding real-estate agent is another matter.

Just last weekend we visited a nearby house my mother-in-law had seen in the paper and pointed out as a suitable buy for us. (She evidently failed to comprehend that houses generally do not depreciate in value like cars or computers, reasoning instead that houses built several decades before Stupid Daughter 1’s new mortgage-trap must be cheap. As we predicted, the expected price at auction is almost two-and-a-half times what we paid for our house five years ago.) I felt like a fraud taking the information leaflet, guiltily thinking of the trees and money used to print the attractive colour document, wasted on a gawker like me. I balked at giving our name and number to the woman, who must by then have rumbled us as the impostors we were. I felt her beady commission-seeking eyes following me suspiciously as I frowned at the imperfect cornices, obstinately persisting in my deception.

Luckily for me, the house yielded up a valid excuse not to buy, which I declaimed loudly as I passed the agent on our way out: “Oh no, Mr. Lonie, I can’t possibly put up with a tiny laundry like that, not with two small children.”

I had her; she couldn’t disagree with me on that one.

Oh well. I’ll just have to keep on looking.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Toying With My Mind

Bad things seem to happen every time Mr. Lonie goes interstate for work – giant spiders, deadly snakes, fountaining shower heads, geysering garden taps, hospital stays for rare medical conditions, hospital stays for frightening pains during pregnancy – so it’s hardly surprising that when he went away last Monday night, we had yet another…incident.

Miss Lonie yelped in fear and surprise, and came running from the bathroom to tell me that one of her toys had spoken to her. Not a whizz-bang robotic toy that cost more than I have in my bank account, not a pull-string talking toy, not even a hand puppet: a normal, inanimate soft toy. Normal…inanimate…yeah…

Laugh if you must, but I’ve always been susceptible to fears of ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggety beasties and things that go bump in the night. And a onetime favourite toy now possessed by a possibly malign entity ranks right up there on the scream-o-meter.

Trying to feign nonchalance, I cautiously peered through the doorway into her room to locate the offending character, which she said was in the toy box. Gulp. He’s up there on the chair next to it, as if frozen in the act of clambering out.

“He was banging my books,” she added from the doorway where she stood, eyeing him warily and afraid to come in. “With Prunella.”

More decidedly un-toylike behaviour. Gulp. Another former favourite implicated. Double gulp. There she lay right beside him. Time to go visit my mum.

Later that evening I was relieved to see that neither of the accused had moved, and though I didn’t feel an aura of menace emanating from either of them, I felt it couldn’t hurt to let the dogs have a good sniff. Dogs are supposed to be attuned to that sort of thing, right? Right? They seemed uninterested enough, but they and Miss Lonie slept in my room that night all the same.

For a while I lay awake in dread lest I suddenly hear the pitter-patter of little footsteps that didn’t belong to either of my children. I got up in the night for a drink, and I swear after I got back in bed, in the silence of the witching hour I heard the bathroom tap turn on and off again. Eep. Miss Lonie later complained that her toy had been playing with the soap and the toothbrushes. Eep eep.

The next day when my mother came to visit, I sent the toys home with her to stay for an indefinite period. Miss Lonie was relieved and her reluctance to enter her room is gone. She even said my mum could throw the toys in the bin.

Of course I’m not saying there was anything to her story – children have vivid imaginations, and for all I know Mr. Lonie may have made an imprudent remark (as he is wont to do) which planted the seed of this fantasy in her impressionable mind.

I was going to post a picture of the reprobate so you could see how innocuous he looks and have a good laugh, but I just couldn’t bring myself to take the photo. I am, after all, a ridiculous scaredy-cat, and simply could not take the risk that the resultant image would come out looking like this:

Monday, 26 February 2007

An Apology

The Preamble:

I know public hospitals are stuffed. I know emergency rooms are often like little wheels in which medical staff hamsters run ceaselessly for an entire shift. I know nurses are generally overworked, underpaid and underappreciated.

The But:


The Rant, in letter of apology form:

Dear nursing and administrative staff at my local hospital:

I’m sorry my baby boy had the temerity to develop a high temperature and a mysterious rash out of hours last Thursday night. Should he lack the consideration to present symptoms of out-of-the-ordinary illness at a more convenient time again, I’ll wait the extra nine hours until my GP opens before I seek some medical attention for my vulnerable child, assuming, of course, that I can snag an appointment without having the foresight to make one two weeks in advance.

I’m sorry Master Lonie vomited all over me when I dutifully forced down his throat the dose of Panadol you gave us in triage. It must have been a chore to fetch me a hospital gown to wear instead of my spew-covered tee-shirt, and then not watch me clean everything up.

I’m sorry I felt it was for the best to see a doctor anyway despite your dismissal of Master Lonie’s welted rash over a large part of his little body as ‘probably just mosquito bites.’ I must remember to switch off my maternal instincts so I can be as blasé about the health and wellbeing of my children as a disinterested stranger.

I’m sorry I didn’t realise there was an after-hours locum service attached to the hospital that we could have utilised instead of spoiling the austerity of your near-empty emergency room with our presence. I’ll be sure to hone my mind-reading skills for the next time I require such psychic ability.

I’m sorry we cluttered up your waiting area for over five hours. It must really have been difficult for you to gossip and read magazines while we were sitting quietly and patiently, good-naturedly waiting our turn and being absolutely no trouble whatsoever.

I’m sorry we occupied one of your several empty beds in the room we were eventually shown into. Rest assured, when I track down all the non-existent and more deserving patients we deprived of a bed, I’ll humbly beg their forgiveness too. I completely understand that, as a Category Five (lowest priority) case who, in your omniscient judgement, was just using the public hospital emergency room as a free General Practice consultation, we were out of line to expect you to take half a second out of your quiet night for a friendly hello, instead of a silent glare.

I’m sorry we stayed around like an unpleasant odour for another two-and-a-half hours. How rude of me to let the busy doctor see to his other patients instead of demanding his undivided attention! I confess it was a ploy to allow us to enjoy the luxurious comfort of the hospital, so superior to being back in our own house, for as long as we could.

I’m sorry I had to leave the hospital during Master Lonie’s period of observation, in order to purchase a parking ticket for my car. It was avaricious of me to wish to avoid a parking fine during the very reasonable paid-parking hours of 6:30 am and 9:00 pm. I do apologise for having to ask you to let me back through the security door – it must have cost you a great effort to interrupt your chatter and press a button.

I’m sorry I had the gall to politely enquire whether I might return the borrowed hospital gown later that day, after I’d replaced my dirty top. Fortunately, your brusque reply, “It doesn’t matter if you do or you don’t!” helped me to realise my grievous error.

In summary, I’m so terribly terribly sorry that my son’s illness intruded on your important work in providing health care. I can only hope that, should you ever be in a similar situation, you are treated with the same kindness and courtesy you showed me.

Yours sincerely,

Lonie Polony

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Six Degrees of Lonie Polony

Following my startling revelation regarding my thitherto secret relationship with Anna Nicole Smith (I’m still waiting for probate and the handing over of all those millions – to hold in trust for the poor motherless babe, of course), I thought I’d share with you my dubious connections with some other people who are slightly more well known than I.

Lionel Richie

On a trip to Tokyo years ago my mum and dad sat across from Lionel Richie on the plane. Okay, so I don’t think they actually spoke to him, but the point is they could have. Just think! Three degrees of separation to Nicole, poster child for poor-little-rich-girls everywhere. Four degrees to Paris! Lindsay! Britney! I’ve got feckless skank connections, people.

Peter Graves

Again, my parents have all the luck. They sat with this man, best known as Jim from the original Mission: Impossible series, at a charity dinner. His mission, which he chose to accept, was to assume the role of celebrity drawcard.

Rolf Harris

Everyone needs a break from wobble-boarding and pretending to have three legs, and what better place to get away from the demands of an indifferent public than an unspoilt tropical island? I saw a snorkelling Rolf Harris and the large, pink, Ken Done-bikinied woman I presumed to be his wife, stealing coral specimens next to the large signs saying ‘Please Do Not Remove Coral’.

Jackie Chan

I was shocked, shocked! when he admitted to an extra-marital affair in 1999. I was in China at the time and when I turned the telly on to this breaking story, I was desperately hoping my questionable Chinese comprehension had deceived mine ears, but sadly no. One of my university Mandarin lecturers is good friends with his parents, so there are three degrees of separation between me and my former gongfu idol whose feet, so indefatigable at kicking baddies into submission, were nevertheless formed of clay.

Grace Kelly

Who can forget Princess Grace of Monaco? Well, most people probably, especially the young’uns who don’t have a clue who I’m blathering on about. My father-in-law’s grandfather is supposed to be the brother of her grandfather, or something. You never can tell with my in-laws, though. Most things they say have to be taken with a cellar of salt.

Pat Morita

Vale, Mr. Miyagi. You were the best thing about the Karate Kid movies. Pat Morita was a real-life sensei to my old sensei. My friends thought he looked like my dad.

Guess Who?

A special prize* will be awarded to the first person to correctly identify the only celebrity (or ‘celebrity’ in inverted commas, if you prefer) I’ve ever been photographed with.

*May not contain actual prize.

Friday, 16 February 2007

Another Dish Ruined

I was just polishing off a bowl of sago pudding as I sat down at my keyboard, licking down its old-fashioned sugary goodness to fuel my trivial rantings, when suddenly an unsavoury thought struck.

The viscous white residue dangling from my spoon looks an awful lot like…

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

O Pater! My Pater!

I never mentioned a word of this before because we agreed it would be our secret, and instead I was content to remember privately a sweet dalliance we both knew would end all too soon, consumed by the raging fires of our own passion. But now that circumstances have radically changed due to the recent shocking turn of events, I feel I must come forward, for her sake.

Yes. I am Dannielynn’s real father.

Monday, 12 February 2007

I hope it shrivels up and falls off.

I’m talking to you – yes, you! – turn the doof-doof down and you might actually be able to hear me, unless the gallon of gel from your stupid-looking tiger-striped mohawk has dripped into your ears and collected in the space where normal people like to keep their brains. Get out of that crap-heap you so lovingly call a car, and kneel in abjection before your elders and indisputable betters. Aw, got someone’s discarded chewing gum on your best Kappa pants, did you? Not to worry, you can always steal some more tomorrow. Now, repeat after me – I’ll talk nice and slowly so your primitive troglodyte brain can keep up:


Have you got that, cockhead? I know some of those words may be hard for someone who dropped out to pursue a career as social arse-pimple to understand, so please let me know if you need any part of that sentence explained to you. I have a nephew half your age who will be happy to oblige.

You see, Logan – or is it Ty? – what you did to me on Friday night as I walked innocently to my car is called sexual harassment, and women don’t like it. Oh, I know you met your last girlfriend Taylah that way – she giggled and gave you a blowjob in exchange for a cigarette and as many rum-and-midoris as she could drink – but that didn’t last very long now, did it? Not after she discovered your best mate Jaydinn has a flame-decaled panel van with a waterbed in the back. The sudden ending of your four-hour relationship was a shock, but you’ll always have the urine-soaked alleyway to remind you of the top-class roots a super-stud like you can pull.

Anyway, back to what I was saying, you worthless little turd; I didn’t catch what your friend shouted out the window – no doubt those atavistic genes render him incapable of articulating recognisable speech sounds – but I heard what you said, though naturally at the time I pretended I hadn’t. And while, somewhere in your snot-mired little brain, you may have thought yelling crudities to people on the street is a harmless bit of fun and a way to prove how virile you are, it’s not. It’s not funny. It’s not flattering. It’s not enjoyable. It’s the same old Scheiße women have to endure everywhere they go. Yeah, that’s right – you’re not the first tool who’s come up with the clever idea of accosting inoffensive women for your own amusement!

But here’s where you really f***ed up, boyo. I had my children with me. And when you confront me with moronic comments carrying latent threats of sexual assault and rape, a wariness of which women keep in the back of their minds always thanks to dickwanks like you, I get defensive. When I’m reminded that, should you choose to, you could easily overpower me on this darkened, near-empty street, because that’s what Mr. Lonie did once when we were play-wrestling and I realised with a chill my assumption I could resist a rapist was wrong, I feel afraid. Threaten my children by extension, and my protective mother instincts combine with my anger over every piece of crap I’ve had to deal with from your brotherhood of shite-brains, into one white-hot ball of scumbag arse-kicking, ball-crushing, penis-ripping, fight-to-the-death fury.


Saturday, 10 February 2007

Moral Cowardice and Self-loathing

Yoda, Master Po and Mr. Miyagi all agree: the person I’m really angry at is myself. I’m angry because I’m a confrontation-averse, unassertive, passive coward.

To people without children, you may not realise the importance of ‘parents with prams’ spaces in shopping centre car parks. You may even begrudge the centre management’s decision to reserve spaces for a group of people with no legal claim on special parking spots, and whom you may never have any desire to join. That, to paraphrase Britney’s crappy cover, is your prerogative.

But, if, like me, you have small children and, like me, find it extremely difficult to remove said children from your car when you’re parked between a door-blocking concrete pillar and a road-and-car-space-hogging Brobdingnagian road tank, you may appreciate the extra width of a parents-with-prams spot. What luxury it affords! One can actually open the doors on both sides to unbuckle car seats and extract helpless bundles! One can manoeuvre prams alongside instead of leaving them in the path of car park hoons and ungainly trolley-tractors! If one can actually snag one, that is.

At my local shopping centre, out of hundreds of spaces there are only five of these much sought-after spots. Competition for them is fierce. More often than not, I miss out, but that’s okay – I can park somewhere less convenient and make do, and hope for better luck next time. And then I see them – the person sans both pram and children, strolling insouciantly towards their car which I now see has no child seats, parked in what should have been MY spot! Like a man-sized cauldron from a bad ’30s movie about jungle-dwelling cannibals, it makes my blood boil. But I stomp off and fume in silence.

This has happened many, many times, and I was finally moved to action by an obviously unentitled car arrogantly taking up two parents-with-prams spaces. My ‘action’ involved an apologetic, I-know-it’s-not-your-fault-and-there’s-probably-nothing-you-can-do rant to the beleaguered girl behind the concierge desk, and a polite, benefit-of-the-doubt note on the windscreen. What I really wanted to do was key the car, and suggest management tow it away.

Then, just a few days ago, I had the perfect opportunity to speak out on behalf of cheated parents. It was my lucky day and I’d scored one of the coveted car spaces, but as I was preparing to leave I noticed a car waiting to pull in to my spot, a car containing not a frazzled parent with small children, but two women about the ages of my mother and grandmother. If you’re so infirm you can’t park in the next aisle over and walk an extra two metres, I thought, frowning at the car which was inconsiderately blocking other through traffic, then you should obtain a disabled permit and park in the appropriate space! Passive-aggressive as always, I slowed to a sloth’s pace, packing away the pram and pulling out four times more slowly than usual. The inconsiderate, self-entitled biddies took my spot.

I had said nothing. I could have smiled, walked over to the driver’s window and politely and respectfully drawn to their attention that the space they were after was reserved for parents with prams. They might have replied rudely and parked there anyway, or maybe they might have been contrite and parked elsewhere, but I’ll never know.

Failed yourself, you have, Grasshopper-san!

Friday, 9 February 2007

Looking On The Bright Side

With just over six weeks left until I return to full-time (paid) work, I’ve been having some trouble psyching myself up for it. After racking my brains, I’ve managed to come up with some reasons why (so I’m trying to convince myself) leaving my babies and going back to the office will be a good thing:

1) None of my colleagues will expect me to suckle them when they’re thirsty or tired or in the mood for a snack. (The job will suck my energy and enthusiasm instead. Or maybe just suck.)

2) My job description won’t include cleaning up sundry human excrement. (I’ll just have to deal with sundry metaphorical excrement while IT completes its glacially slow computer access procedures, and my new boss assigns me monkey work which will become a permanent duty.)

3) I won’t have to continually watch my workmates and stop them from seeking out and trying to eat the most disgusting inedible thing in the room. (I may, however, have to occasionally pay exorbitant amounts to eat the most disgusting and inedible thing in the room. The cafeteria calls it ‘lunch’.)

4) My co-workers are unlikely to wander into the toilet stall with me and enquire whether I’m doing a pooh-pooh. (Let’s hope my bowel remembers how to avoid the dreaded workplace plop, or asking will be unnecessary!)

Six weeks left. Still plenty of time to win the lottery.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Death To The Webbies!

I never liked Charlotte and I’m glad she’s dead. My only regret is that her multitude of children survived her – nasty little shites. I don’t know about you, but if I found a huge great spider web – I don’t care if it said ‘Some Polony!’ or ‘Fan-bloody-tastic!’ – I wouldn’t stand around gawping at it and hoping for more. I’d grab a big stick and a can of bug spray and swat that thing down.

Three years ago, a large and troublesome spider decided to spin its web directly over our driveway, between the tree and the hedge. Every evening when we came home from work it would be there to taunt us, sometimes dangling pendulously ready to fly at us on the smallest puff of wind, sometimes crouched cunningly, not immediately visible, on some part of its gigantic man trap. By the morning the web would have disappeared, torn down by birds or the wind, but we always knew we’d have to run the gauntlet again that night. Neither Mr. Lonie nor I am the bravest of souls when it comes to spiders, and fearing any stick-waving would precipitate an angry leaping attack (à la Arachnophobia) or inadvertently bring the 16 gauge web and hairy fanged monster down in a tangle upon us, our usual course of action was the ‘duck-and-run’.

Aside from convincing our neighbours we were completely bonkers, and the occasional run-in with an anchor strand that could garrotte the unwary pedestrian, this strategy worked fairly well until the unfortunate day when, while Mr. Lonie was interstate, a great-with-child Lonie was forced to face the horror alone. With no-one to assure me I’d clear the web and its hideous occupant, I ducked and ran lower and faster than ever before. Sucked in, spider! I exulted in my athletic escape for about one second – until I sprawled flat on my face, grazed my hands and, in a cruel twist on any superhero’s genesis, mystically imbued Miss Lonie with the Superklutz powers she has today.

That shelob’s reign of terror has ended, but now the horrid spawn of a million spiders are popping up everywhere – in the tissue box, on the clothes line, on the computer desk, the coffee table – I even have to watch the food on the stove lest some evil web-spinner lowers itself into the bolognaise. I see such transgressions as a personal affront. Come into my house and crawl around my babies, will you? Lie venemously in wait in my dogs’ kennel? Drag your ungodly behemoth selves across my lounge-room windows? Then it’s no more live-and-let-live. Aranea, Joy and Nellie must die.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Good Fences Make Good Neighbours And…

Answering the phone can be a regrettable action in our house. Telemarketers aren’t the problem, although their persistence in the intelligence-insulting pretence that “My name is Elizabeth/Darren [and no, really, I’m definitely not ringing from an outsourced call centre in India!]…” is extremely irritating. I haven’t yet, thankfully, been stricken every time the phone rings, reluctant to answer because of the possibility the caller may be a telemarketer, like my increasingly batty mum. I’m a big polony now and can tell them politely but firmly that I’m very happy with my inferior and more expensive telco/credit card/isp thank you very much.

I’m talking about family. Specifically, Mr. Lonie’s family. The Hobson’s choice of extended family whom those of you with reasonable in-laws must think terribly slandered by such an unfilial daughter-in-law as I. Don’t condemn me until you’ve walked a mile in my wedding ring.

How many times have I raced in from the clothesline, or run with my bare-bottomed baby halfway through a nappy change, or interrupted a feed to the indignation of Master Lonie, to answer the insistently ringing phone only to discover it was my dreaded in-laws on the line? Too many times!

“Hello?” I will answer with an optimistic expectation of an enjoyable or profitable exchange which is soon to be proven baseless.

“Oh, hello Lonie…”
“Oh hi!” I say as I recognise my father-/mother-in-law, feigning a warmth and enthusiasm contrary to my inward groan. I immediately know the conversation will cast me in one of three ways:

The Personal Secretary
“…It’s [name] here…”
Yes, I gathered that I fume silently for the umpteenth time as my eyes roll.
“…Is Mr. Lonie there?”
I feel a flicker of annoyance at the abrupt disregard for social niceties, tempered with relief at my easy escape. “Yes, I’ll just get him.”

The Object of Small-minded Gossip Disguised as Feigned Concern
Them: “How’s [painful family matter] going?”
Me (voice tight and clearly reluctant to discuss the matter): “[Something non-committal]”
Them (oblivious to my reticence): “Why don’t you tell me all about it, even though it’s nothing to do with me and may make you uncomfortable or upset to talk about it?”
Me (verging on brusqueness): “[Some sort of platitude, heavy with desire to cease this line of conversation.] Did you want to talk to Mr. Lonie? I’ll just get him.”

The Woolly-Headed Little Woman
Them: “What are you doing on [any given day]?”
Me: “We’re going to [go anywhere or do anything to avoid you]”
Them: “Ah. Is Mr. Lonie there?”
Mr. Lonie: “Hello?”
Them: “What are you doing on [any given day]? [We’re asking you because the wifey can’t be relied upon to give a proper answer, possessed of ovaries as she is]”

And so the woman whose mobile phone has the most boring ring available on its preset list, has instead customised the home phone with her own ‘answer or ignore’ not-so-subtle code. When my parents ring, it plays ‘Home Sweet Home’. When my sisters ring, it plays a pleasant beeping, booping tone reminiscent of a cheery animated bug. And when any of Mr. Lonie’s family ring? Like the instinctive warning tone of any dangerous beast, the phone jangles out the most jarring klaxon available.

“It’s for you!” I’ll call out to Mr. Lonie, pleased with myself for avoiding his parents or his stupid sisters. We get on so much better with as little interaction as possible.

Good ringtones make good in-laws.

Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Harry Potter and the Cauldron of Hormones

Like Michael Jackson’s stubble and Junichiro Koizumi’s permed Richard Gere-esque hair, Daniel Radcliffe’s latest sensationalised promotional photos leave me faintly disturbed. I haven’t joined the Puritan Police overnight to bluster about – quelle horreur! – the naked human body (one of either model of which, last time I checked, we are all possessed). Rather, it is that such attempts (with dubious success) to project an image of masculine sexual attractiveness are just wrong! wrong! wrong! in people with whom I would never consider engaging in a romantic encounter. Michael Jackson? Scary as all hell. Koizumi? Completely unappealing. Harry Potter? Paedophilia!

When did he morph from a cute little mop-headed tyke into a nether-thatched man-boy? If I weren’t at least ten years removed from the acceptable Daniel Radcliffe ogling demographic, I might be all squealy and giggly over him as I was over my teenage pin-up (confessional aside: it was Lou Diamond Phillips), but I think therein lies the real issue behind this particular vague disquiet. I’m old and increasingly prudish, with babies of my own, and I dread the day my innocent children will grow up and, like a boy wizard dunked in a cauldron of hormones, become sexually aware beings, objects and sources of lustful desire.

Will I be forbearing enough to refrain from yelling, “And just where do you think you’re going dressed like that, young lady?!” at Miss Lonie, or trusting enough not to pull her every boyfriend aside for a quiet but threatening chat? Will I grin and bear it when it comes time to wash Master Lonie’s stained sheets, or when he leaves his condom-stuffed wallet open on the coffee table? I don’t know, but I can only hope that, like my siblings and I seemed to, they muddle through okay, unaffected by the downsides of ‘gender’ activity (as The Goodies might say).

I suppose I should just have a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down. It’s still a few years until Mr. Lonie need acquire the must-have tool for every father of girls (a big stick), and perhaps by then chastity belts will be the new teen fashion accessory. We can only hope.