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Sunday, 31 March 2013

LIFT ETIQUETTE


Lifts. They were invented to make our lives easier, faster. And if I were to die in one, I'd push the up button first. Yet some people get on board leaving their brain and manners in the loading dock.

Here's what I mean.

Scenario 1: You're already in the lift, heading up to level 22. Someone gets in at level 7 and elects to disembark at level 15. Fair enough.

Until you get to level 15. The doors open and this fool stands around, idly admiring his comb over in the mirrors, unaware that he's supposed to get out. But I guess not every oyster contains a pearl.

"Oh, is this my floor?" he ends up spluttering, all the while checking the LED display just to make sure. Was he expecting a red carpet, some form of fanfare, a media opportunity perchance? Just get out mate so we can keep going.

I love mankind; it's just people I hate.

Scenario 2: It's 5.25pm, you're homeward bound. You've left level 22, quick stop at 17, 14 and 12 for more work weary passengers. At level 8, the door opens and the new occupant stands in the door frame, delighting and entertaining all with a protracted conversation with a colleague who is not getting into the lift.

They chat about the outcomes of a particular meeting, what date the brief is due, how the PR person shows too much cleavage etc etc, all the while with her hand on the "door open" button.

You take your time there sweetie, I'm in no rush. No, seriously, I love hearing how your day went, whoever you are.

Nothing worse than entering a lift car with a lingering smell of recent flatulence. Well, yes there is; when someone else gets in at the next level and glares accusingly at you.

Or the person who insists on munching noisily from their container of hot chips while you grasp your Grab 'n' Go salad.

Next time, I'll bring a chair along with me. At least I'll be comfortable while I watch this ongoing pantomime. Or insist each occupant wears a name tag.

Should there be an etiquette guide to travelling in lifts? Or an across-the-board principle ruling out all farting?

There is no elevator to success. I'm taking the stair

Thursday, 28 March 2013

YOU'RE FIRED


My first job was at Big W at Carindale. It was waaaaay back in 1980, when I was in Grade 10. Yes, grade. We hadn't upgraded to 'year' at that stage. Thursday night and Saturday morning.

Back then, in those halcyon days, the shops only opened late on Thursdays, and at 12.01pm Saturday, they were locked up tight and everyone either went to the footy, the pub or the uni library to study.

My daughter once asked me how I 'coped' with such restricted access to retail opportunities. But it's the same stock answer anyone who's older gives to anyone who's younger when they ask how we 'coped'.

We didn't know any different.

My career at Big W started with the checkout, where we had to input the cost of each item based on the price tag information. No scanners. No bar codes. No laser beams. We punched in numbers with no thought of RSI.

My diligent work (well, I prefer to think of it that way) meant I moved off checkouts, and over to the Service Desk, then ladieswear, then (for reasons unknown and ultimately peculiar) the auto section (yeah, like who would ask the 16-year-old chick about spark plugs).

For a few months I did a spot on the 'red light', meaning I got to wheel this mobile flashing ambulance light around the store, and spruik bargains on the PA.

Once they caught me doing a cover of The Police's Roxanne on the PA - "Bron-wyn, you don't have to put on the rrreeeed light." But that didn't get me fired. They just gently brought to my attention the fact that it would be best if I switched the microphone to "off" if I wanted to engage in light-hearted banter.

After a few years of doing leap frog around the various sections of the store, I ended up in lay-by. Fabulous haven, more fun than shrinkage or the loading dock. All the parcels were kept in this massive storage room on the second floor. It was totally private. Everyone would pop in to visit me, and we'd have a right old chuckle upstairs, confident that if anyone came looking for us, we'd hear the automated bell on the office door and make like we were particularly engrossed in an arbitrary task.

Well, this one Thursday, it was a slow night. Not much happening in lay-by. I went upstairs to see if I could pretend to be industrious and maybe tidy up the parcels a bit. It was then that I came across six bean-bags, lined up neatly on the floor, all on lay-by, clearly begging for someone to relax in them.

Sure, I was supposed to be tidying up, and maybe hard work never killed anyone before, but why take the chance?

I raced downstairs to grab a Dolly magazine I'd noticed lying about earlier. With my can of Coke, I got myself comfy on those bean-bags and whiled away an hour or so, until the bell rang and things got busy.

My little lay-by haven was forgotten as I worked hard putting all manner of weird and wonderful things on payment plans for the customers. Before too long, nine o'clock arrived and dad was waiting for me out the front and I was gone.

However, when Saturday heralded, I was frog marched into the manager's office and asked to please explain. Some intrepid manager had taken a wander through the lay-by storage area and found my little slice of Nirvana.

Oh no, I thought, how could I forget to destroy the evidence?

And so ended my career in retail.

I've never been fired again. That maybe because I've learnt from my mistakes and can avoid making them again.

Maybe because I never worked in retail again...


Monday, 25 March 2013

HOW TO END RAPE


I’m not a bloke, and maybe that’s why I don’t understand why men rape.

It seems that you need to perform a lot of dangerous criminal acts in order to get laid. Be it abduction, deprivation of liberty, assault with intent to harm, and of course unlawful carnal knowledge. To name a few.

When you’ve finished having sex, you don’t want to hear a judge saying, “You are accused of grievous bodily harm.”  You want to hear, “Oh my God, you were magnificent” and “You’re the best” from the gorgeous lady to whom you’ve just made love.

Would it not be easier to go up to the pretty girl at the bar and tell her she is the most beautiful woman you’ve seen that night, and would she allow you the honour of buying her a drink. And then maybe, just maybe, she will come willingly to your bedroom at some point. Not dragged and drugged against her will?

It’s an awful topic, a hideous scenario and an abhorrent, pathetic disfigurement on our social landscape. And is it simply because boys can’t control themselves?

Well, get a grip, in the most obvious way. Because if you’re gripping it, then nobody else can. And you can sort it out yourself.

To me, rape occurs when you have sex against your will. So, if you’re with a girl and she is kicking, screaming, cursing and frightened, chances are she’s not really wanting to have sex with you. Quite frankly she’d probably rather be home eating her own gall bladder.

Is your self-esteem so low that you have to overpower a woman in order to feel in control? Are you so immature at being turned down by the pretty girl at the bar that you have to seek revenge by raping her? Do you really think that the girl walking home from her late night uni lecture is gagging to have your penis shoved violently into her vagina until she bleeds?

REMEMBER THIS: WOMEN HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO BE IN ANY PLACE AT ANY TIME DOING WHATEVER THEY CHOOSE, JUST AS MEN DO. 

If you wouldn’t rape a man, then don’t rape a woman. If you wouldn’t want someone repeatedly shoving something hard and unfriendly into your backside, then don’t do that to women.

A few simple rules are what we need to stop rape. If every bloke followed these simple rules, as a society we’d be ok. We’d be progressive, applauded and safe.

Let’s start with this one. Don’t put drugs in women’s drinks. Sure, buy them a drink and get to know them, and use old-fashioned methods of flattery and coyness to get them to sleep with you. But don’t drug them. Are you really so ugly, so socially inept, so tongue-tied that you have a drug a woman in order to have sex?

When you see a women walking by herself, leave her alone. Just leave her alone. She may be heading to the shops, be on her way home from the bus or out for a jog. It doesn’t matter why she’s out there. The point is she is allowed to be out there and to safely go about her life.

Don’t rape the woman whose car has broken down when you stop to help. Don’t creep through women’s windows and doors and enter their home without being asked. Stay away from your friends who want to assault women. Don’t even visit them in jail.

On what planet in what universe in what solar system of what galaxy would any woman hope she would get raped. Why should she even be asked the question, “Were you doing anything at the time to provoke the attack?” Sorry Mr Laws, what did you just say?

Apparently all you need is to be born female. That’s all you need, and then you’re asking for it.

What shits me the most is that rapists seem to be out of jail in a few years. Whether they re-offend or not isn’t my main issue; it’s that they did a few years time and they move on, but the victim carries the shame and scars and the nightmares often for the rest of her life.

Where’s her get out of jail free card?

How about we stop putting rapists in jail and instead chemically castrate them. Along with the paedophiles. That way they can never harm again. And they have to live forever with the consequences of their actions.

Just as their rape victim has to live for the rest of her life with the consequences of what happened to her.

PS great article by John Birmingham

Monday, 18 March 2013

BACK IN MY DAY


So Brisbane teenager Jordan Fuller justified the brawling rabble that ensued when his party was shut down by police as “what kids do”.

At least he got the “kids” part right. Because that’s what they are – kids. Children, juveniles, adolescents, minors, youths, teenagers. Not adults.

And as such, they should bloody well do as they’re told.

Well, at least we did back in my day.

So this turd of a kid pops his party on Facebook and over 200 kids turn up. The party turns into some sort of unholy uproar, with noise, shouting and fighting in the street.

What else do these kids do for fun? Slam their hands in car doors?

When concerned neighbours called the police, the kids were so infuriated at their instruction to shut the party down that they retaliated by throwing bricks at the heads of police officers and storming a council bus that was making its routine trip, smashing out its windows and causing major havoc in the street.

“Everything was all right until the coppers turned up and said it was over,” I quote Master Justin from the story in Brisbane newspaper The Courier-Mail. “They weren’t too happy because they were having a good time and everyone got upset with the coppers, as you can see.”

Two police officers are in hospital, a bus driver is traumatised, 18 patrol cars were called in as back up… all because some selfish kids wanted to “do what kids do?”

Oh good Lord.

Back in my day, if you were doing the right thing, ie walking your dog on a leash, buying milk for your Mum at the corner shop or posting a birthday card, and you saw a cop, you were immediately nervous. You’d never done anything wrong in your life except belt up your younger sister or stay up late reading by torch under the blankets. None of which needs police intervention. But you were still nervous.

If I saw my parish priest or my best friend’s mother when I was walking home from school, I made sure I was on my best behaviour. I was polite to the old lady on the bus and always offered her my seat. I said thank you to the lady who manned the pedestrian crossing outside our school. And I always waited until she said it was safe to cross before I crossed.

Why was I like this? Because my biggest fear was my parents finding out I’d done something wrong and then I’d have to incur their wrath and live with the consequences.

You see, my parents weren’t particularly interested in being my friend or even about liking me. It was their job to be my parents and that’s what they did.

My mother is someone you never wanted to make angry. She kept a wooden spoon in close proximity and thought nothing of whipping it out and walloping my brothers and me if we played up. Not just one nasty sharp wallop. She’d have a few good cracks at it. And it hurt like hell.

The one time I wagged last period at high school to hang out in McDonald’s with my boyfriend, I bumped into our neighbour from across the road. She lost no time in telling Mum, who then waited for me by the front door. I got a few wallops for that escapade.

Another time, I’d been given money to buy my Nanna a birthday present. Instead I spent it on buying the Abba Arrival record and tried to fashion up a home-made gift to cover my indiscretion. That lasted about 60 seconds before the wallop.

As I got older, we progressed to groundings. A week at home with the wooden spoon for company makes for a long week.

I’m not sure whether all this made me a better person or not, but it certainly taught me some self-awareness, to be mindful and respectful of others, and the simple fact that the world does not revolve around me.

Much as I’d like it to at times.

In the late 70s and early 80s, I couldn’t even have begun to contemplate having a party in the same vein as young Jordan. Or even accepting an invitation to go to one. My parents just wouldn’t allow it. Sure, we had birthday parties and we had sleepovers with friends and went out to the movies and so on. But it was all under strict supervision, was alcohol-free, and other parents were invited where appropriate. And interestingly, no one got drunk and no one got pregnant.

And no one insulted police officers or tried to knock their heads off with low-flying bricks. We were just too scared of them.

So, if these young kids were told by police to shut down the party, the adults in charge should have set about shutting it down, even if they didn’t have the foresight to do so before things got out of hand. Parents should have turned up to collect their children instead of leaving them to find their own way home. Alcohol should have been banned before anyone got past the footpath. And keep it off Facebook!

This incident has made me so cranky! It was unnecessary, self-serving and destructive. And such a waste of so many people’s time.

I wish I had a wooden spoon right now.


Saturday, 12 January 2013

I'M LOSING MY MIND


The first time I noticed it was the other Saturday morning. When I finally got out of bed, I stripped the sheets to make ready for fresh ones.

I took said sheets downstairs to the laundry. Looking out the laundry door, I saw a few ugly weeds sprouting rudely below the shrubs down the northern side of our house. I plonked the sheets on the floor and went out to pull the wretches.

While outside, I noticed the Saturday papers on the lawn. It always delights me that someone has a good heart and a robust spirit to rise at 2am, wrap newspapers in plastic and drive around the suburbs chucking them out a car window.

I’ll get back to the laundry load, I think, just after I get the papers off the lawn and read the front page.

Walking back from the lawn, I see that no one bothered to collect yesterday’s mail. I open the letterbox and see the Ikea 2013 catalogue. I walk over to the outdoor setting and sit down to make plans for the Swedish-inspired minimalist lifestyle I aspire to.

As I open the catalogue, another letter falls out. It’s from the gas company. I open it up, and notice that it is marked ‘overdue’. Oh shit.

I get up from the outdoor table and head inside to the computer to log onto my internet banking to pay the gas bill. But when the internet starts up, it takes me straight to the news site, and I start reading how three to four drinks a day can ruin your eyesight.

I straight away googled local optometrists in an attempt to make a booking for Monday to have my eyes checked.

I wanted to write their number down and went looking for a pen, and noticed that there were two wine glasses on a book shelf in the hallway. How on earth did they end up on the book shelf, and not in the dishwasher?

I tried to remember what happened last night, when I’d had three or four drinks, and then it struck me. I had told my husband I’d take the glasses to the kitchen en route to the loo but had realised my bladder was doing a herculean effort to not burst its dam. I dumped the glasses on the nearest flat surface and went to pee.

Being a Virgo, I knew that they obviously could not remain there and scooped them up and raced to the dishwasher. Which was clean, but full. So I started to unpack it.

Holding my favourite tea cup in my hand, I realised I hadn’t made a cup of tea yet, so filled the kettle with fresh water and turned it on.

While waiting for it to boil, I looked out over the patio and noticed that the herbs needed a water. I grabbed the watering can and began soaking the plants, admiring the blooming parsley and thyme in their matching tubs.

The fragrant smell of gardenias was in the air. I have a few robust bushes and they were in full bloom. What a great idea, I suddenly thought, to cut a few and put them in shallow dishes around the house so the wonderful aroma that is characteristically gardenia would fill my home.

Back inside, I started looking for the secateurs when the cat dodges around under my feet. Dear little Kitty Kat, I think, patting her bushy tail, she wants her breakfast. I get her food from the fridge, pick up her bowl, and notice it’s still a bit dirty from her dinner the night before.

I head to the sink to give it a quick rinse when I notice steam rising out of the kettle and my longing for a cup of tea overtakes my desire to feed the cat.

I’m in the pantry getting out a tea bag when I notice the honey jar is sitting in a sticky puddle. Silently I blame The Man Of The House and wet the dishcloth to clean up the mess before the ants do. Oh well, while I’m here, I may as well do a bit of tidying and rearranging of food items.

It is then that I discover a box of tea light candles that had been missing in action. Oh goodie! I can replenish the candles I keep on the dining room table. I walk to the dining room and find the television remote control sitting forlornly on its walnut table top.

Not even bothering to wonder how it got there, I pick it up and take it to the living room to return it to its rightful place. Mmm, may as well see what’s on, don’t you think?

Foxtel is playing Bridget Jones’s Diary. Even though I own the DVD for both BJD one and two, even though I’ve seen them numerous times, even though I own the books, I sit down to watch.

Halfway through I remember my girlfriend Michelle went out with her new bloke last night and give her a call to see how it went. We chat for a while and decide to meet for a quick lunch to dissect details and analyse the text message he sent her this morning (it read: “Hi baby, had a great time last night, looking forward to seeing you again x”).

Did he call her baby because he couldn’t remember her name? Or was he simply being affectionate? Did he only want to see her again because she didn’t sleep with him or is he really into her? Is a single kiss enough or should he have put two or three?

Home from lunch, I think a nice lie down for an hour is on the cards.

I walk into my bedroom and stare blankly at a bare mattress.

Where the hell are my sheets???

And then it all comes back to me: the sheets are sitting in a messy pile on the laundry floor. I have a gas bill that is unpaid. My cat is hungry. The gardenias are dropping off the bush. The Ikea catalogue is still outside on the table. The dishwasher needs to be unpacked.

And I still haven’t had a cup of tea.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

RULES FOR HAPPINESS


1)   Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2)  When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3)  Life is too short – enjoy it..

4)  Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5)  Pay off your credit cards every month.

6)  You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7)  Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8)  Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.

9)  When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

10)  Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

11)  It's OK to let your children see you cry.

12)  Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

13)  If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it...

14)  Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

15)  Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

16)  Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

17)  It's never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

18)  When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

19)  Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

20)  Over prepare, then go with the flow.

21)  Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

22)  The most important sex organ is the brain.

23)  No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

24)  Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

25)  Always choose life.

26)  Forgive but don’t forget.

27)  What other people think of you is none of your business.

28)  Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

29)  However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

30)  Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does..

31)  Believe in miracles.

32)  Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

33)  Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.

34)  Your children get only one childhood.

35)  All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

36)  Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

37)  If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

38)  Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need.

39)  The best is yet to come...

40)  No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

41)  Yield.

42)  Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.


Monday, 31 December 2012

NEW YEAR’S EVE 2013


The best part about 2013 was enjoying the month of December. Remember back in 2012, we watched the months slip by with dread, believing that it would all go up in a raging Mayan-inspired apocalyptic blaze on 21 December, leaving the world overrun with zombies and nary a Bruce Willis in sight?

But Earth dodged a bullet, and we spent 2013 pretty much drunk on relief and joy. And repaying our Visas because naturally we had maxed them in the foolishness of end of world actions.

The biggest news of the year would have to the twin girls born to Kate and William. Little princesses Diana and Victoria would be nearly six months old now, and enjoying their new digs in Kensington Palace.

And in line with the new succession laws, I can’t wait to see first-born little Diana become Queen Diana The First, Leader of the Commonwealth, Supreme Governor of the Church of England and Defender of the Faith. And it may be sooner than we initially thought what with William becoming king the day his wife gave birth. Loving Queen Liz for saying she’s had enough and wanted the best man for the job.

Interesting that when the Queen announced the she was skipping Charles and handing over the “reigns” to William at the time he became a father, the world simply nodded in agreement. I think Camilla was the only one who was upset, and I hear on good authority that she took up smoking again that same day. And put her crown back in the hat box on top of her wardrobe.

Obama lost no time enacting gun control laws, long overdue as they were. Better late than never. He actually took it a step or two further, banning slingshots, anything that remotely resembles playing Cowboys and Indians including F-Troop re-runs, and online gaming violence. It was blackout curtains for CoD Black Ops, World of Warcraft, Grand Theft Auto and the like.

And miracle of miracles, he also halted the obesity crisis at the same time. Those ignorant pale-faced mutants who lived behind gaming consoles since birth needed something to do. So they picked up a football and went outside. Who’d have thought?

Do you really think it’s true that Tom Cruise is pregnant? I know he wanted to give Suri a little brother or sister, but apparently he couldn’t even get an ex-Playboy Bunny to fill the role as wife and potential mother, regardless of the size of his cheque book. But really, the man has got a smile that can warm the heart of a white pointer shark. But did he have to invent a way to get pregnant? Is that taking things too far? Talk about being a control freak! Who’s the mother?

And speaking of pregnancies, I can’t believe Posh is having baby #5. I know her husband is rather good looking but I get really put off when he starts to speak. It’s Elmo meets Thomas the Tank Engine. Though I guess no one says you have to speak when making love. Either way, she’ll be back to her usual size zero within three hours of giving birth. Like all the other times. I hope it’s a boy. For Harper’s sake.

Russell Crowe wasn’t able to woo back his wife Danielle Spencer so he made a play for Noni Hazlehurst. Seriously? I suppose it’s because Danielle’s father and Noni mucked about with Jemima and Big Ted on Play School back in the day. I suppose he wanted to keep it in the family. I suppose I can see the connection. Mmmm, actually I can’t.

And more on the homefront in Australia, I wept with despair when I found out that Manu Feidel and Pete Evans had been discovered in flagrante at their secret lovers shack beachside at Byron. Not those two! The spunks of television cooking, the jovial blokes – one with the beseeching blue eyes and the other with a fake French accent. Nnnnnoooooooooooo. Mind you, my husband was secretly very pleased and willingly helped me put all their cookbooks up in the attic. Now, do I have to wait for news from Bill Granger? I hope not!

And bloody Home & Away got the bullet. Thank goodness. Perhaps we can get a decent game show in its place, or a re-run of Bellbird. Anything would be better.

Apple finally seems to have fixed the map setting problems on my new iPad9.2.2a, which is a good thing considering it was telling me that I was looking at the Eiffel Tower when I was on a ferry staring point blank at Liberty. At least they have renamed the Executive Building in George Street from “Peter Beattie” to “John Howard”. That’s progress.

Les Mis didn’t get a single Oscar and I’m not miserable about that at all. Musical films needed to stop after Grease. I can’t believe Jennifer Aniston finally got an Oscar, I wasn’t aware of any films she did this year apart from starring in her own wedding. Maybe it’s like when they gave one to Nicole to stick it to Tom. Up yours Brangelina.

Queensland didn’t take too long to throw out Campbell, despite the excitement his appointment heralded. We are all very confident that Kevin Rudd v2 will take us through 2014 without a sulky aside or a swear word. I hear he’s already priming his granddaughter to take over the spot. Aspirations much?

Anyway my loves, that’s my wrap of 2013. For a year that ended in such a suspicious number it turned out to be a bewdy! Happy 2014 to you all.

Love Bron x

PS I pulled this lark last year too - read here what I had to say about 2012 xx

Friday, 28 December 2012

GIRL, YOU’LL BE A WOMAN SOON


Every now and then, I topple over and twist my ankle. Sometimes it’s because I’ve had too much to drink and my heels are too high and my husband is too far away for me to balance against him.

Sometimes it’s because I’m making like Elle Macpherson and jogging on the beach in a bikini and go A over T in a hole in the sand.

Sometimes I am just walking down the street minding my own business and over I go. My husband always tells me not to walk and text at the same time.

The result of this constant clumsiness is that my ankle invariably ends up tightly bandaged in this stretchy crepe material for a few days.

And on Christmas Day, at the buffet lunch at the Gold Coast casino, I found out that the same stretchy stuff is now being used for dresses.

Or so it appeared.

And, in my humble opinion, that stretchy crepe stuff looks better wrapped around my bung foot than around their tiny bums.

Christmas lunch was for 1000 people and at least 100 of them were young women, aged 18 to 22, wearing these so-called bandage dresses that really didn’t cover their bum cheeks, and heels that were about 6-7 inches high (that’s a bit more than 15 centimetres for Gen Y) with 1-2 inch platforms. All had peep-toes, all had the requisite French pedicure (a look I personally despise) and all were spray-tanned to within an inch of their orange lives.

My husband and I were sitting quite close to the buffet table so we were able to witness their movements first-hand.

I don’t think there was a g-string in the place. From some of the glimpses these girls were giving, I actually thought there’d be a lot more gynaecologists. But maybe I’m showing my age.

They walked up to the buffet in those impossible heels, knees bent, lurching forward – classic pose for anyone who can’t walk effectively in heels. Watch any movie with Julia Roberts and you’ll understand what I mean.

They pulled their skirt down, picked up a plate, pulled their skirt down with their free hand, swapped the plate into their other hand, pulled the other side of their skirt down.

The leaned over to get a prawn, pulled their skirt down, got some potato salad, pulled their skirt down, shifted their weight from one foot to the other to gain that millisecond of relief from the aching pressure of their shoes, and pulled down their skirt.

It’s a good thing the drinks were table service so we didn’t have to watch them trying to carry their blue Vodka Cruisers and Skinny Bitches while pulling their skirt down.

As 3pm approached, and lunch was nearly over, we watched a scene reminiscent of every Melbourne Cup, Schoolies, New Year’s Eve and hens night. Pissy girls in skirts too short clutching their ridiculous shoes in their hand and hanging onto their girlfriends for support.

Here’s the thing. These girls don’t know how truly beautiful they are. What they need to do is ditch the fake tan, take out the hair extensions, put down the bottle of foundation and cover their butt. They have figures to die for, a glow of youth, and a freshness we womenfolk approaching 50 didn’t realise we once had until we started approaching 50.

I didn’t see any of the boys suffering these problems. They were trying to skull Crown Lagers, eat 5kg of prawns and remember to put their thongs on before they went back to the buffet table for thirds. They wore board shorts, over-sized t-shirts with a random offensive message and hairstyles that would make even Justin Bieber baulk.

Girls, you’re beautiful, and if the boys don’t think you are, they lose, not you. There’s plenty of time when you’re older and more mature to wear the sexy gear and the high heels and pull it off with class.

Don’t hurry things up. You’ll be a woman soon. Trust me, I’ve been there.



Monday, 24 December 2012

FOOD FOR THOUGHT


I’ve never thought I would make a good restaurant reviewer, despite the fact that I eat out quite a bit. That’s because I’m too busy eating. And reading or playing with my iPad if I’m on my own, or drinking and acting like a bit of a noisy dickhead when I’m with my friends.

Most times however it’s just my husband and me. We tend to frequent the same places, not because we lack any sense of adventure, but because we know we are guaranteed good food and excellent service.

After all, we’re paying for this.

So yesterday, on day one of our Christmas holidays at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast, we ventured out to the mall. Perhaps that was our first mistake.

Now I love the mall in Broadbeach. Mainly because it’s where John Farnham filmed his “Two Strong Hearts” film clip, circa 1988, at the height of his mullet. Regular readers know that I would give up my second born for John Farnham. Mercifully I only have one child. And in 2012 it is no longer a requirement to sacrifice your child, no matter what you owe.

Feeling festive and full of the excitement that is a Gold Coast Christmas, we knew seafood was on the cards.

Before I go any further, let me set the scene. We had just arrived at the coast for a week’s holiday. The reality being that we wanted to have a relaxed Christmas sans rels.

I had put my cat into her “holiday home for cats” (there’s an oxymoron for you), triple checked I’d locked every window and door, whittled my shoes down to seven pairs, and packed both bikinis (for when I frolic solo) and 1920s style head-to-toe bathers (for when I frolic en masse).

We drove to the coast, checked into our room, got the white wine into the fridge and jumped around on our bed, only because it’s something I don’t allow at home.

In need of lunch, we set out to play our own version of the hunger games. This entails stopping outside every eatery and reading their menu and looking at each other. If one of us sneers ever so slightly, we move on. If one of us shrugs imperceptibly, we re-read the menu.

Eventually this process leads us to a place where we would be happy to pay money for food.

The place that scored the most shrugs was Max’s Seafood. Ever been there? Don’t waste your time. The place was half-full, drinks were still being handed around but as we approached the head waiter, we were told that the restaurant was closed.

It was 1.45pm on the Gold Coast on the Sunday before Christmas.

No, we couldn’t believe it either.

Not to be discouraged, we crossed the mall to another establishment boasting seafood, called Bugzie’s. That was our second mistake.

After standing around like shags on a rock for what seemed like forever but was probably three minutes, a condescending waitress of Aryan appearance, with an incredibly thick Polish accent and English as a 6th language, showed us to a table.

Failing to understand “pinot gris” we pointed to the wording on the menu and were rewarded with two glasses of buttery Chardonnay. Regardless, it was alcohol and I needed a drink.

Picked the glass up by the stem – because that’s how I drink white wine because I’m dead posh – and nearly dropped it because it was searingly hot. Miss World Aryan 2012 had no doubt ripped the glasses out of the 2000 degree dishwasher and merrily poured. Needless to say, the wine was warm, but again, it was alcohol and I needed a drink.

My husband took the uncomplicated and undoubtedly smart route of ordering fish and chips. He had sussed the place out and figured the path of least resistance was the best path.

I’m not as cluey. The seafood mornay harking back to 1978 was shrieking at me and I had to oblige. I asked the waitress what seafood was in it, not because I am allergic to anything, it was more to test the possibility of getting excited.

She said she would check. Twenty minutes later she came back and said that it contained – wait for it  - seafood and mornay.

No shit Sherlock.

I asked if I could get some rice with it and, after miming ancient Chinese women in large hats bent over double, she understood what I meant.

When our food eventually arrived, my meal was sans the side-salad of rocket and sun-dried tomato the menu had promised. The chef, being the genius he clearly is, had assumed that I would have rice in lieu of salad.

And that’s why he cooks at a mediocre Broadbeach mall cafĂ©, I would assume.

To be fair, it tasted pretty good. There was nothing wrong with that cheese sauce and the seafood was poached inside beautifully. And my second glass of wine, again after much miming, turned out to be both cold and pinot gris.

My husband, being the wiser one in this marriage, again opted for the smarter route and had a beer. In a bottle.

We stayed in that night. Grilled cheese on toast looking at the surf. And not a Chardonnay in sight.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

IS ONCE A MONTH ENOUGH?


Why is it that I feel richer when I get paid weekly, yet feel stony broke when I get paid monthly?

It's still exactly the same amount of money, and I still have exactly the same number of bills. But it seems the weekly pay packet lasts longer.

Or perhaps I'm kidding myself.

I've been paid weekly, fortnightly and monthly over the years. When I first started working back in the 1980s, this wonderful German lady would come around to my desk each Wednesday bearing this yellow coloured envelope which contained novelty items that in this day of EFT we identify as cash.

Not that it was important that she was German, I just remember her heavily accented voice saying, "Brrrrron-vin, you vill sign here for dis money." For all I cared she could have been Serbian, Swedish, of royal descent or on work release from prison. She brought me money - that's what mattered.

I'd pull the red twenties out and smell them, smooth them down and pop them into my wallet. Then at lunch time I would dutifully trot the bank and deposit my allocated savings, put aside the rent money, and pick up a week's groceries on my way home.

Later that week, I'd go to the post office or whatever was the appropriate institution and pay electricity or telephone or car rego. All in cash.

When I changed jobs a few years later, I morphed from weekly to monthly pay days. And for reasons my accountant and I still do not understand, I was suddenly broke.

For a day, I was wealthy. Well, not wealthy in the manner of a recent lottery winner or where my rich Aunt Liz died and left me Buckingham Palace. But in my terms, wealthy.

But only for a day.

I'd pay a month's rent, pay all utilities, buy groceries, and by the end of week three was down at my mum's each night eating dinner because I couldn't afford to buy food.

Why? Poor financial management? Maybe. Over spending in the first week? Probably.

I now get paid fortnightly. And it seems to work ok. But I've also got these fabulous little helpers called direct debits, organised by my pay office. Bills like mortgage, credit card and health insurance are all paid before the balance hits my bank account.

And if I want cash, I have to walk to the ATM and try to remember my pin number.

On pay day, I sometimes look around my office, and see internet bank statements on everyone's monitor. Because nowadays, that's the only way you know you've been paid!

How do you cope with your pay period system? Does it work for you or do you find it hard going sometimes? Or should we all just budget more consciously and put in for that winning lotto ticket?

$100 million anybody? Wouldn't it be nice...




Tuesday, 30 October 2012

THE REPORTER'S REPORT CARD


A night on my own. Doesn’t happen often in the Cook family. With no kids living at home to demand and distract, and with two jobs that operate fairly routinely out of Brisbane, as I said it doesn’t often happen.

So with my husband safely away for the night, it was a great chance to put in some extra time working and then skive off for dinner on my own.

I know a lot of people don’t feel comfortable with the idea of dining alone, whether it’s at Ecco or McDonalds.

I love it. I can order whatever I like and not have to share. I can order a third glass of wine and not get “that look”. And I can choose where I want to go with no arguments. “Ohhh I hate that place,” or “But didn’t we just go there last month?”

Tonight, it was a plate of the finest sashimi and the latest Woman’s Day for company.

And that was where I made my mistake.

Have any of you picked up one of these trashy rags lately? Not only is the writing incredibly dull, it is full of lies. Utter lies. Made up fabrications that would have got me the wooden spoon as a kid if I’d said a quarter of those things.

Here’s what I mean…

Katie Holmes is apparently in love. Apparently. I read the entire article and the bits I managed to stay awake for didn’t contain a verbatim quote from Katie raving on about her new boyfriend. It was, of course, from a source. Sauce more like it.

Zara Phillips is apparently pregnant. Apparently. There’s no picture of Zara holding up her pregnancy stick with the positive sign on show for all to see. There’s no picture of Zara booking her obstetrician’s appointment. There’s not even a sign of a baby in her stomach. She probably had a big lunch you dead beats.

How about one of you lot get your guts out when you’ve chowed down on Mexican and margaritas at midday. Then we can all start rumours that you’re up the duff too.

And apparently Kate is seething with impotent jealousy because Zara beat her to it. We don’t have a picture of Kate and Zara pulling each other’s hair and yelling, “You let go first bitch!” Like they did in Puberty Blues. We don’t have a picture of Kate standing over an empty cradle, delicate tears slipping silently over her heavy black eyeliner. But apparently she’s jealous.

Oh yes, and Meg and Russell are back together. Apparently. We all know now, with the benefit of hindsight, that she is his true love. According to “the source”.  Disregard please the fact that he married Danielle and fathered two kids over nine years. Disregard the fact that his kids might be reading Woman’s Day.

Apparently Meg was on the blower to Russell the minute she heard he was separated. Because of course she had kept his number all these years. And of course he hadn’t changed numbers. Even when she went a bit psycho when they broke up, he would have surely kept the same number even if it meant she was still sending him nasty texts.

Thanks Woman’s Day for dragging up that turn-of-the-century photo of Russ in his flanny and Meg in her daggies, with his fat hairy face smooching her short blonde hair.

Had Meg called him, it would have been on his Twitter page. Surely. And Meg would have recorded the conversation and sent it to Woman’s Day as verification. Of course.

Stop making shit up you lot. It makes for boring reading and it’s embarrassing for you. Because you’re very rarely right. Embarrassing because, if you could add it up, Jennifer Aniston would be the mother of five by now and married a year ago. After her divorce from Vince. Kate would have had two kids. Nicole and Keith would have broken up and got back together at least annually. Like Bec and Lleyton.

And that frightful little turd Justin Beiber would be in jail. For life.

That’s probably the only made-up story I’ve read that I wish was true.

Friday, 26 October 2012

A WWT THOUGHT

Wouldn't it be great if retail therapy could be claimed on your private health insurance...

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

BABY BONUS??

In those halcyon days of Paul Keating’s recession we had to have, I discovered I was pregnant. It was circa November 1990 and my then husband and I were eating tinned beans boiled in veal bones so we could pay our 17% interest rate mortgage. We were so poor we would go to KFC just to lick other people’s fingers. We thought about renewing our vows for the rice. Christmas was coming up and the only thing we could afford to exchange was glances.

So sex was clearly our preferred form of entertainment.

And I got pregnant.

Then, one month before baby’s due date, husband loses his job. Two weeks after baby was born, I was retrenched.

Now back then, maternity leave, paid or otherwise, didn’t exist in my private sector job. Thankfully I had a boss with a progressive wife who insisted he let me use up all my sick leave and annual leave. But that was it. No job guarantee on a return to work. No option of part-time on said return. No support structure, understanding nods or free money in the bank.

Because there was no baby bonus.

My retrenchment payout was about seven weeks pay. I was earning $30,000 a year so you do the math. The husband’s payout was zilch. So we did what we had to do.

He reinvigorated his truck driving licence, conveniently attained during a short stint in the military, and got behind a large wheel of a large truck.

I waited for the caesarean scars to somewhat heal and got a temp receptionist job for – guess who – Kevin Rudd. Go figure… Kevin was an arsehole, the scars weren’t properly healed, my six week old baby was with a day care mum and I wanted to keep my house. And eat.

Had we had the baby bonus, would things have been different? I don’t know. I can’t know. The way I figured it, I had fallen pregnant. The government hadn’t captured me, Matrix style, and forced a foetus into my womb under threat of torture or Barry Manilow on repeat. It was my responsibility so I had to manage it. Not the government. Not the tax payers of Australia. Just me. And a little help from my mum.

Sometimes I daydream about what $5000 would have got me. A fancier pram? A groovier change table? Groceries? Petrol?

But with the baby bonus changes currently underway, is it going to affect Australia’s reproduction? Or will families just go back to what they always did, and just make do or make the best?

Because clearly we can’t be affording to have sex anymore!!


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

FIVE TIPS FOR INSTANT SELF-CONFIDENCE

Tip #1 - Make Decisions
• Think outside the square to make decisions
• Reflect on what outcome you want and show discipline achieving them

Tip #2 - Set Goals 
• Remember your reasons why
• Be open to change
• Continue to learn and stop multi-tasking

Tip #3 - Reduce Negative Self-Talk
• Practice the strategies to stop it in it’s tracks
• Know that your character creates your destiny
• Accept same way means same result

Tip #4 - Manage Your Time 
• Clear up the clutter
• Choose one thing and complete it
• Acknowledge yourself

Tip #5 - Create Work-Life Balance
• Simplify life and focus on the important stuff
• Get the work life balance right
• Understand family, health, friends and spirit are the priority

Now she's what I call a self-confident woman!


Sunday, 12 February 2012

WHITNEY

All my life I’ve wanted to be a singer. Or, more simply, just able to sing. As a gangly ten year old, I was convinced I was destined for stardom as the fifth member of Abba.  I mean, my hair was naturally blonde. Surely that was enough.

My girlfriends and I would choreograph these complicated dance routines, physically miming “digging” as we were “diggin’ the dancing queen”. Shovel, shovel, and throw it over your shoulder. Repeat twice. Seriously.

We were lip-syncing heroines long before Milli even met Vanilli.

Money Money Money was all about pretending to count out wads of cash. We skipped Knowing Me Knowing You, because after all, we were ten years old and didn’t know a thing about heartbreak (which is what I eventually went on to discover the song was all about). We did our best work with “When I Kissed The Teacher”. Oooh, the naughtiness of it all. Kissing a teacher – eeewwwwwwww. That dance was an easy one to put together. Kissy kissy sir?

When school finished, the singing didn’t. It just got augmented with the likes of John Farnham (You’re The Voice), Tina Turner (Simply The Best), David Bowie (especially when he was Under Pressure) and Kylie (should I be so lucky?) And of course the soundtracks to Grease, Fame, Flashdance etc.

Moody Blues, Dire Straits, Van Morrison – I would slot the tapes in, grab a hairbrush or a spray deodorant can, and I was away.

And even though I loved her on sight, I could never even try to emulate Whitney. Not just because she had legs that went up to sky. Not just because she had the most luminous skin and radiant eyes. Not just because she looked good in a lavender dress. I mean, who the hell looks good in lavender?

It was that voice. That power. That strength, fearless and true. No matter how much I tried to hit those notes and unveil that depth, I failed abjectly every time.

Because there was only one Whitney.

And as time went on, and as I started singing along with Anastascia, Powderfinger and Celine, I grew apart from Whitney. The hard drugs, the bad marriage, and the poor behaviour made me sad. Such a great voice, such a mighty talent, such a shocking waste.

She had almost disappeared entirely from my radar when one of my closest friends turned up one day clutching two concert tickets and the last vestiges of air in his lungs.

The concert tickets were for Whitney and his rapt joy at securing seats left little room for regular things like breathing.

“Yes darling, of course I’ll come with you,” making a mental note to upgrade my Sudoku app on my iPhone because I was convinced I would need an entertainment mode at the concert separate to Whitney.

And I am glad I did. Because sadly, for the most part, her Brisbane concert did not leave me in mute awe at her brilliance. Moreso bewildered embarrassment for her shoddy performance.

But eventually, finally, Whitney wound her way to her signature song, “I Will Always Love You”. Despite all negativity, that song and the way Whitney sings it, is peerless. Always will be. The mere thought of someone, even Dolly, doing a cover makes me uneasy.

But I knew Whitney’s form was not good. So I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

When it got to the part where she launches into that thunderous chorus (yes yes you know the bit I mean) there was an extended pause on Whitney’s part. Unhealthy in its length. She drank some water, freshened her lipgloss, sprayed something around her neck.

And the jittery audience waited. And waited. The boredom was deafening.

Finally, Whitney moved back to centre stage, clicked her fingers, the lights blazed and she started to sing.

And sing she did. Hitting that note like the pro we knew she was. Watch it here.

Even crotchety folk like me, who were making mutterings about refunds and time-wasting, sat up and listened. With respect, admiration and disbelief.

I was spell bound.

And now she’s gone. We’re about the same age, with daughters about the same age too. I shudder to think of leaving my daughter in a world without me just yet. I believe Whitney would feel the same. We can’t judge someone else’s life until we have lived it so we can’t make off-hand comments about “she had it coming” or “that’s no bloody surprise” because we don’t really know what went on.

So Whitney, let me say this to you. Thank You For The Music.