Australian conversations: the washing machine repair man

So the washing machine repair man arrived to sort out the clunking and scraping that mysteriously began during a wash yesterday – which wasn’t coins or rocks or marbles on the inside of the drum. Five minutes later he was out of the laundry and at the kitchen bench:

bra wireWMRM: “Done. It was a bra wire. I’ll get the receipt book from the car. $80 thanks.”

Off he went to the car.

Blondie: “Ooh, bra wire, how embarrassing!”
JB: “No, not at all – I bet it happens all the time and he’s seen it before. I’m just glad I can finish my washing.”

Back comes Mr WMRM to write his receipt on one side of the bench, while I write a cheque from the other.

He is around 45 with piercing pale eyes and a no-nonsense kind of Germanic attitude punctuated at odd moments with a half smile. Odd.

WMRM: “So I was lucky, the end of the wire was just poking out through one of the holes, and it was out quickly.”
JB: o O (yeah, nice 80 bucks).
JB: “I didn’t even think of that. And I felt across the drum too, to see if it was a coin or rock or marble or something.”
WMRM: “It was right up the front. Most people reach in towards the back.”


WMRM: “It’s not a bad idea to keep bras in a special bag.”
JB: “I do usually. It’s just this is an old bra, so I was cheating.”
WMRM: “Well, there was only one wire, so you might want to keep a look out for the other one.”
JB: “Um, it only had one wire *wince* that’s why it’s an old bra.”


JB: “And that’s probably enough information, isn’t it.”

WMRM: *odd smile*

How embarrassing.

Haiku weather: 29 August 2013

city lights bwWho needs la bella
luna tonight, when I have
the safe light of home;

the light that is in
equal measure past, present
and future within.

Magnanimous musical moments 1: Billy Joel

When it comes to enjoying music, there’s nothing like being in the audience watching one of your favourite artists perform live. Some of the most viscerally and physiologically pleasurable moments of my life have been in the company of sound, emotion and atmosphere circulating about my body via the acoustics, sublime or otherwise, of live venues.

There have been a few times where I’ve wanted to do something to break through that invisible barrier of the performer and the audience, but for a variety of reasons never felt compelled enough.  But there are those fans – those huge fans – who have an extra dose of chutzpah, talent and perhaps a fantasy. And sometimes, when luck is on their side, that fantasy becomes a reality.

Billy-Joel-Michael-Pollack1Over the last few years, I’ve seen some wonderful clips where this has been captured; an audience member has broken through that barrier, and, as a result, something special happens. At that moment, not only does the audience member step into the world of his or her idol for the experience of a lifetime, but the performer takes a leap of faith too – a huge gamble on the outcome.

After all, what happens if the fan is – well, a dud? And it all goes pear-shaped. And awkward? I haven’t seen those videos. But boy, have I seen the opposite.

I’ve been storing up a few of these to share as a series on HH, because they make me feel so good. I call them magnanimous musical moments, because as a result of the performer’s magnanimity, three groups are changed:

  1. the fan, who couldn’t be happier – either that night, for a week, a month or maybe the rest of his or her life;
  2. the audience, who, through the fan, enjoy the experience vicariously while still enjoying the performer, and so take an extra-special memory home with them;
  3. the performer, who, through his or her action, has consciously or subconsciously given the most wonderful gift, the willing ‘transfer of the baton’ not just of their own music – the highest honour – but acknowledging that everyone starts somewhere. And sometimes you’ve just gotta give someone a chance.

So where to start? I’m going to start with my most recent discovery, because it’s perfect. Watch Billy Joel a) make the split-second decision b) realise he’s made a good decision and c) enjoy it. Enjoy!

ps – if you have any doubts about points 1. and 2. above, check out this ‘accompanying’ video which is the perspective of Michael’s friends in the audience.


I rest my case. And if you haven’t smiled at least once in the last 10 minutes, you’re a hard person, my friend.

[Pic courtesy The Tenneseean]

The Mother’s Prayer for Her Son [apologies to Tina Fey]

I’ve just seen Tina Fey’s ‘Mother’s Prayer for her Daughter’ again, which I first read in her hugely enjoyable Bossypants memoir, but it’s also done the rounds as a separate item in the media in recent months – including today via a tweet from the ever-lovely Letters of Note.

It got me thinking there needs to be a boy version, as that’s what occupies my mind. This is my first draft, copying shamelessly from Ms Fey’s style and content, with some original bits left in alongside some subtle (and not so subtle) changes. It may just have to do:

The Mother’s Prayer for Her Son

[With apologies (and grovelling adulation) to Tina Fey]

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Celtic symbols for who-knows-what or the Southern Cross constellation stain his tender biceps.

May he be Handsome but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the needy bimbo’s eye, not the Fine Features of his Father.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, may he remember the parents who picked peas out of dinners. And stick with whatever is Legal, in Moderate Amounts.

Guide him, protect him
When he gets behind the wheel, is a passenger in a car, jumps off things into water, swims with sharks knowingly or otherwise, handles power tools, cycles for fun and recreation, curses under his breath at the big idiot who hears him, downloads one more bloody dub step mp3, sees the woman of his dreams, sees the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with, and spends more than two hours in any bar ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead him away from Writing but not all the way to Finance.

Something where he can make his own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes. And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Life coaching? Dentist? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May he play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of his Own Heart with the sinewy strength of his Own Arms, so he need not be teased by other Wannabe Drummers who don’t get to lie with Whoever They Damn Well Please cos they’re Hot.

Grant him a rough patch from 11 to 19, or thereabouts. Let him see dogs in clouds and be interested in learning magic for much too long,
For Childhood is short – a Lion Flower blooming burnt orange for one day –
And Adulthood is long and “I’m in my room, leave me alone” will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever,
That he may be spared the misspelled invective of his peers
And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when he one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of someone who matters,
Give me the strength, Lord, to yank him directly into a car in front of his friends,
For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should he choose to be a Father one day, be my eyes, Lord, That I may see him, putting the kettle on at 4.50am, all-at-once exhausted and in love with the woman collapsed in bed next to his now-sleeping baby, who he has watched helplessly in awe for three hours trying to settle this new little life, knowing all he can do is … not much but be there. Being there matters a Lot, Lord, and let him Know It.

“My mother did this for me once,” he will realise as he gently moves the tiny sleeping form from the bed to the bassinet, and pulls the covers up over his beautiful, snoring wife. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over him as it does each generation and he will make a Mental Note to call me. And he will forget.
But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.



(And if you have daughters, or just want to see how unoriginal I’ve been, why don’t you read Tina Fey’s original and you’ll see why I was inspired 🙂 )

Where the fault lies, from the top down

This whole Princess Kate topless photo kerfuffle has got the better of me. I actively searched last night on Google and easily found an eyeful. I didn’t feel a better person for having done so. But it wasn’t about titillation, even though I have now actively participated in a vicarious act of voyeurism on a female body, or just about being swept up in postmodern tabloid culture. I wanted to see how easy it was. It was easy.

So it’s obvious that today’s news about a French court blocking further publication of the topless photos is too late. The cat’s out of the bag, the puppies are out of the bikini top, and the online horse has bolted.

The Palace, I’m sure, knows this, but had to take some visible action. What’s caught my attention is the fall-out from the fall-out, which seems to be a lot about apportioning blame for this ‘incident.’ So who’s at fault? Let’s start at the top:

  • Princess Kate! What was she doing! A woman in her position! No matter where she was, she should have known better. Tsk tsk.
  • The alleged photographer, Ms Suau!* What a betrayal of the sisterhood! And what a demonstration of the callousness of the paparazzi who still haven’t learned how to be decent following the death of Princess Diana. And being her daughter-in-law and all. Shame on her/them.
  • The editor! Sorry, editors, because there’s three now: French Closer and Italian Chi magazines (owned by the Berlusconi media empire, which apparently explains everything), and the Irish Daily Star. How could they? These people have no conscience.
  • The media! Just leave it alone. Move along, nothing to see here (well, not a lot). You’re giving it legs as well. C’mon, there’s more important stuff in the world, no matter how ‘respectfully’ you’re dealing with it.
  • The public! Us. You. Me. Consumers of tabloid, popular culture, against our better judgement. Don’t buy into it, and don’t buy it!

* Interestingly, in earlier reports, reference to Ms Suau was accompanied with “rhymes with sewer.” I can’t find any references to those comments now.

So what a sorry mess this is. How can there be one person, agent or thing at fault?

And throughout it all, in public at least, under the knowing and known gaze of the lens, Kate has smiled and dutifully fulfilled her role accompanying William on their nine-day Asia-Pacific tour. Which is why, to end it all, I love the delicious irony of the photos accompanying her arrival at the Solomon Islands, where she was greeted by topless women.

In perhaps a depressingly-backfired attempt to give support to the Princess, some of the headlines for this picture were, “‘How are you baring up, your highness?’ Topless tribeswomen give Kate attack of the giggles:”

(Courtesy Herald Sun)

Problem is, she wasn’t giggling.  If you look at the opening second or two of the Reuters video from the arrival (as I’ve done a few times now, not just because I’m a pop culture consumer but I also want to make sure I’m right on this), you can see she’s actually lifting her hands to check her hair’s okay after having had the necklace draped over her. And is in complete control of her laughing gear. This is an opportunistic snap, used inappropriately, however with a sympathetic context its accuracy is overlooked.

Terrible, isn’t it.

Almost as bad as the last category of people to blame for all this: those pesky bloggers who can’t help themselves from wading into the stream of information that flows past us all, some of it murkier than the rest.

%d bloggers like this: