You can tell a lot about a woman …

.. from her handbag. That was the advertising slogan of the very popular Australian brand Glomesh in the 1970s, when they brought on board a swag of popular women of the era such as Jackie Weaver, Renee Geyer and Jenny Kee. Each iconic woman’s advertisement featured a photo of her Glomesh bag, freshly tipped open with its contents artfully spilled to reveal aspects of the owner’s personality. The ads certainly reached me, an impressionable teen in the midst of feminine/feminist awakenings, with the full-page ads in women’s magazines like Cleo and Women’s Weekly.

And I soon became an employed young woman, and could afford a handbag. And I bought a Glomesh (in addition to the one given as a 21st birthday present, as you did in those days), but I soon also discovered Oroton, another Australian brand that, coincidentally, had included mesh bags as part of its staple. And lovely Oroton bags have been my guilty pleasure since, even though I suffered a 30-year ownership gap between the 1980s and 2010s, when purchases were overlooked for practicalities of survival and raising children.

IMG_1355But recently I seriously re-entered the handbag stakes, and have enjoyed owning my second Oroton tote, which can hold a serious load.

And this has brought on the oft-repeated question asked by many men, including Mr JB, to many women:

“What the hell have you got in there??”

Well, in the spirit of solving an entirely unnecessary mystery regarding the practicality or otherwise of women’s personal possessions, here are the contents of my Oroton so you too can tell a lot about me – and probably every other woman, ever. This is yesterday as it came out of the car after a three-day road trip to regional WA for my mother’s wedding (yay!):


Of course, it needs an inventory because I suspect there are some translations of a cultural, age and gender-specific nature required. Here we go, roughly left to right:

  • Self-help book helpfully offered by friend, as yet unread, but I’m sure will be helpful in due course.
  • Work iPad.
  • Top returned by mother’s friend at last minute in shopping bag, after I left it at her house, and I couldn’t get into suitcase already in the car.
  • Lovely notebook, a gift from former colleague, titled ‘Bloggers I met and liked’ (of course it was empty when given; boom boom), used for jotting ideas and other things that need to be remembered.
  • Aids to Gynaecological Nursing: A complete textbook for the nurse (1949), an impulse buy from the secondhand shop visited while exiting the regional town.
  • How to make money on ebay (2010) – see above (and specifically for Brownie).
  • Pair of leggings, in case I found time to slip into something more comfortable sometime during the journey home.
  • Wallet, contents of which remained thankfully enclosed for this exercise.
  • Cheap clutch, brought as a hopeful antidote to a fuller handbag for the wedding (not realised), and whose job was to contain mainly jewellery, perfume, tissues and ear plugs.
  • Clear nail polish, for those days I give a shit about my nails looking noice.
  • iPad charge cord; should be in the car, and will be tomorrow.
  • iPhone earphones.
  • Blondie and Brownie’s bowties from the wedding of the year.
  • Assorted jewellery from clutch (above) including world necklace, subject of much admiration and deservedly so.
  • Tag from sock three-pack, accidentally shop-lifted in my enviro bag from Target last week, so I can take it back and own up to my illegal activity.
  • iPhone in Otter case – what would I do without the glass protective case and rubber casing!? Well, I’d be replacing my phone glass for one. Repeatedly.
  • Medicinal zip-lock bag which, apart from antihistamine tablets, consists entirely of various combinations of ibuprofen, paracetamol and codeine as back-up to combat headaches and/or neck/back pain. Handy.
  • Extra glasses cleaning cloth, rescued from clapped out key ring pouch.
  • A few assorted sanitary products because old habits die hard, even though I am an empty vessel, surgically speaking.
  • Hotel ’emergency kit’ comprising nail emery board and cotton wipe.
  • Sunglasses case (containing actual sunglasses).
  • Work magnetic name tag, because I never know when I might need it.
  • Second and third glasses cases, containing actual glasses. I think.
  • Pawpaw ointment, which is basically just petroleum jelly. I checked once. About 10mg per small 25g tube, pretty ineffectual. But it feels nice.
  • Two perfumes, because – well, just because. Scents suit feelings and places and occasions and you just never know.
  • Ear plugs aplenty, and a random spare button in mini zip-lock bag.
  • Nail file. Indispensable must-have.
  • Assorted Band-aids
  • Fast food scented wet wipes. Hoard with gusto.
  • Sachet of sugar – probably an accident waiting to happen, so will remove to the kitchen cupboard.
  • Bigger zip-lock bag of goodies containing assorted paper clips, safety pins, bobby pins, spare mini-emery board, AAA battery for those moments you need one (like a laser pointer for presentations).
  • Car keys. Simple. Including video shop tag, and grocery shop points tag (really).
  • Pink lady apple, still waiting to be eaten after four days and holding up well.
  • Spare fast food serviettes. Hoard with gusto.
  • Missing chubby lipstick from make-up bag – hooray!
  • Spare pens. Indispensable must-haves. Writing happens everywhere.
  • Trusty USB, the only one that hasn’t resulted in a ‘This disk is write-protected’ message in five years. I love this USB.
  • Work promotional item torch – shines Open Day 2015 when you press the button a-la the Batman sign in the sky of Gotham City at night. In a crisis of darkness, I will also be able to advertise my workplace; excellent.
  • Dental floss; no explanation required. Nonetheless, as my friend Kellygirl the dental hygienist used to say, “Only floss the teeth you want to keep.” Wise words.
  • Another ’emergency kit,’ this time silver threads and golden needles, or something vaguely similar.
  • ‘Quick drying pre-moistened wipes’ lens cleaner. I have three pairs of glasses, don’t you know.
  • Another cloth lens cleaner, courtesy my GP’s practice. Three pairs of glasses get smudgy. A lot.
  • ‘Well-used’ (aka filthy) make-up bag, originally a promotional item from my preferred make-up brand. Be thankful I’ve spared the individual contents of this as well, most of which haven’t been used since 2011, with the exception of the lip liner, occasional lipstick, concealer for a particularly aggressive blemish, mascara annually (just exhausted 2016’s allocation), and of course the hitherto mentioned absent chubby stick.
  • Comb; teeth not too close, not too wide – just perfect for curly hair.
  • Not one but two tubes of indispensable moisturising cream. $2.95 per tube, all I’ve used for 35 years, give or take. Don’t know how the extra one snuck in, probably from the bathroom bag. I’ve got them lying around everywhere.
  • Little tissue packs. I never seem to be organised enough to have just one packet open and on the go, there’s always two, or three, in various stages of emptying. But just as well, because TISSUES ARE ESSENTIAL, if not for me, for Mr JB or Blondie who never have any on their person when they gets a hayfever attack. Ever. Grr.
  • Spare unused tissues, man-size, from Mr JB’s car. You never know. See above. They’re clean, really.
  • Two hair cloths – red and white. But the colours aren’t important. Getting the bloody hair off my sweaty neck when it matters is what’s important.
  • Video shop rental special docket, now expired, because TOMORROW ONLY! was a week ago.
  • Heel shields, although the jury is out on whether they’re worth the effort. I just feel I should have some as back-up.
  • Unwashed plastic fork from last week’s lunch, wrapped in serviette (that’s why you hoard them) and forgot to stick in the dishwasher to reuse next week.

What’s missing? A water bottle, another indispensable item for Straya. And of course it fits. Everything fits. Stuff ALWAYS fits. That’s what makes a great handbag. And a great brand. And a slightly hoarder-oriented woman.

“You like me, right now, you like me!” *

Well, some of you like me, and I thank you for it.

And because I’ve now passed 5000 visits, I’m really curious to find out where you come from as you can’t all be my mother logging in from different IP addresses.

So if you haven’t already, could you please show me you Like HH by visiting the Facebook page and doing the Like thang? I would be very grateful, in an integrated linked-in-social-media-networking kinda way, because then I’ll “get access to insights about my activity,” which sounds like fun. Even if they are just statistics. But you are more than just a statistic to me, really.

* And who uttered those heartfelt words from the title? Cinefiles will know:

In praise of Ethan McCord

* Update 9 May *
Note to self: don’t publish blog posts late at night while still processing confronting information just consumed in front of large screen. It may give incorrect impression on ticker, resolve etc, and things will be different in the morning. Same goes for sending emails to careless tradesmen, irresponsible colleagues etc. Yes, the feelings will be the same (you will not turn into an automaton) but your response may be more appropriately communicated. Carry on.
= = = = =

I’m beginning to  think I don’t have the stomach, the ticker, the resolve to continue studying International Relations. I’ve just watched John Pilger’s documentary The War You Don’t See, and I wish I hadn’t seen part of it; the children, dead and dismembered, strewn across the rubble of destruction wreaked by distant, emotionally removed soldiers – the good guys of our Western narrative.

Remember the Wikileaks footage of the US Apache helicopter shooting at the group of civilians, including the Reuters cameraman (and, now I discover, two children)? This footage is discussed in the documentary, and this post is as a result of that footage.

In particular, I want to congratulate Ethan McCord.

He was one of the first US foot soldiers to arrive on the scene after the shooting, and I won’t go into detail here on what he saw, or what he did, other than he acted humanely – more humanely than his superiors wanted him to.

He has since left the army, and has spoken in various public arenas about the experience on the day of the shooting. Here he is addressing the United National Peace Conference in New York in July 2010.  The full 17-minute Wikileaks video of the Apache footage, shown to this crowd just before McCord made these remarks, can be found here – but a warning, it’s confronting, and you’ll have to sign in.

This link on The China Rose site has an interview which brings us more up to date with McCord’s activities. Here is the apology letter he refers to in this interview, which I think is magnificent.

So congratulations to Ethan McCord for not letting his military training get in the way of being a compassionate human being, first and foremost. I know the purists will argue, “he should have done his job, he could have let his team down, that’s what he signed up for, that’s what he’s paid for,” etc. But I don’t think too many purists are ever put in his position.

And this post – having taken an hour or so to write – has now re-inspired me, again, to keep watching and reading and learning about the geopolitical horrors occurring around the world. But what can I do with this knowledge?

Watching a doco like Pilger’s makes you feel so helpless, so completely impotent (such a good word to use in this world of men at war); that, as one person in li’l ol’ Western Australia, what difference can I make? And yet McCord is just one man; a man who, at one stage, was part of what Assange and others call the military-industrial complex and yet he has made a big difference in his individual way.

I’m just going to check the boys are asleep now.

In WWI, civilians accounted for 10% of deaths.
In WWII, civilian deaths had risen to 50% of all casualties.
During the Vietnam War, 70% of deaths were civilians.
Poor Iraq.  Nearly 90% of the deaths have been civilian men, woman and children – one million people. And that’s just Iraq.

When Harry Met Sally 2

If you haven’t already discovered Funny or Die, visit for a laugh when you need one. Just be warned, it’s very ‘adult humour’. And once you’ve watched a few ‘Between Two Ferns’, you’ll see why Zach Galifianakis is now popping up everywhere.

Here’s FoD’s latest, proving how ‘ageless’ Billy Crystal is, and ongoingly wonderful Helen Mirren is.

I am a Rockwiz legend – nay, poindexter!

Along with a few hundred other lucky people across this wide brown land, I have experienced the thrill of being one of the ‘freaks’ from the audience at a Rockwiz show. For those who know and love this gorgeous, funky, well-oiled machine of a music quiz program on SBS television, you’ll know this makes me special. So very special.

It happened last year when Rockwiz unplugged the amps from the Espy in St Kilda and went on tour around Australia, and me and the hubby went along to the first Perth show.

Truth be told, I’d been slack in getting tickets.  But, in a fantastic stroke of luck, I discovered on their Facebook page that because the first three shows were sold out, or nearly, they were about to open bookings for a fourth and final show.  Even better, this show was going to be the day before the first show was scheduled, on account of them returning a day early from a mid-tour break, so they would be fresh as fresh musicians can be after a month off. On the day bookings opened, I jumped on the phone early and managed to get two tickets in the second row – centre!*

Before I go on, I should say that I didn’t go with the expectation that I would end up on stage at the Perth Concert Hall that evening, but I was prepared to give it a go if the opportunity presented itself.  I also don’t want to bore you with a minute by minute account of the experience (I do really, because every one of them was brilliant), suffice it to say there were highlights:

  • I won a ‘wild card’ entry fair and square from Brian Nankervis after answering the most answers correctly out of our huddle of mothers in the foyer (it was Mother’s Day, after all) as opposed to the wild card I also got for participating in their Facebook competition. Bit embarrassing to have had two shots at getting on stage when others had missed out.  Tough luck.
  • Being whittled down from the original 24 brought on stage, to the four who ended up competing – and being the only female.  Yeah, rock chicks rock! Yeah! Rock on. And that.
  • Hanging around backstage signing consent forms, full of adrenaline, being introduced to Julia and getting ‘the drill’ on what’s going to happen, and being soooo cool with it. Oh yes, sooo cool.  Rock cool.  Actually, I was a mix of wide-eyed starfucker and ‘been there’ musician**. Kind of.  I think.
  • Julia is gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. I would turn straight for her if I was a gay man.
  • Brian is lovely, genuinely lovely and respectful of the contestants, and wore an incredibly crisp and attractively fitted pink shirt. It was that memorable.
  • There’s a very good reason why Dugald is the housewives’ choice, and pheromones have something to do with it. I’m sure his singlets bring women into heat.
  • The Rockwiz Orchestra is brilliant – watching them work together, up close, was an unforgettable Australian music experience.
  • Having Deborah Conway as one of our musicians was such a treat – even if, in an agonising starfucker moment, I did make a dick of myself backstage by getting mixed up with the film clip for It’s only the beginning and her having to correct me (okay, so the Royal Botanic Gardens can easily be mixed up with some suburban golf course … can’t they).
  • Discovering Henry Wagons who is clever and funny and a great performer with a great voice – and a contributor to what is the real highlight which cannot be over-emphasised: I am a bona fide Rockwiz legend.  Don’t believe me?  This, from Wagons himself on the Rockwiz blog (which I’ve just realised has me in the picture behind Henry and Abbe May!):

For those not familiar with RocKwiz, the show begins with the introduction of the two surprise “celebrity” guests via a “who am I?”- style question. It’s very much in the style of the Sale of the Century fame game. For example:
“I was born in 1953.”
“I have a husky voice.”
“I did a shit version of ‘Dock of the Bay.’”
Contestant buzzes
“Is it Michael Bolton?”
“Correct! Here he is!”

Out trots Michael Bolton, and plays ‘Dock of the Bay’.

Minutes before the show, I was in the dressing room out the back, sure of the fact that no one was going to guess who I was, and I’d be humiliated in front of the whole concert hall, night after night, for the next four shows. The ample piles of snacks and booze did not make up for that kind of repeated psychological trauma. I sipped on a couple of whiskey and Cokes. Close to the moment of truth, I was standing next to Deborah Conway. With several hits to her name, she’s forever etched in everyone’s mind as part of Aussie music history. As for me, I could count on my fingers the number of times our video for ‘Goodtown’ was played on Rage. I was shitting my dacks when my “who am I?” question began.

Thank God for kooky MC Brian Nankervis and his pre-show, audience filtration quiz. Every night before the main event starts, he picks the cream of the intellectual crop from the crowd to be audience panelists. To my surprise, one of the chosen über-dorks [um, that would be me, after some suggestive education by Brian pre-show] guessed my name and I trotted into the lights and did my shit.

The opening night went ridiculously quickly. I performed my song ‘Drive All Night’ to open the show and answered a few questions, although I left most of the responses to the highly capable female poindexter on my team. Thanks largely to her, we edged through to victory over the Conway crew (yessss!).

Do you need any more proof?  Some days the music reservoir tap is open, and some days it ain’t, and that night it just flooded out.  And I don’t care what the Urban Dictionary (yes, I did have to look it up, just to make sure) says about being a poindexter, I like to think Henry used it in a nice way, confessing at the end that he is, after all, a “nerd and proud glasses wearer at that.”

The only other proof I should offer is a photo, so here I am for the final bow with my fellow contestants, Brian and Julia, Deborah and Henry, and Abbe May (who was also hot hot, by the way) and Dom Mariani (ex The Stems).

* my arrival on stage meant that Mr JB ended up on his lonesome for the evening … but at least it was the second row – centre!

And now it’s time for some music, I think.  It seems only right.

See also Goodtown, which demonstrates why Henry’s bass player is called Steve “Harmony” Hassett. Bloody noice.

And …

Where on earth did I get the Royal Botanic Gardens from?  Must have been the video clip of my life at the time 🙂

I am a Rockwiz legend.

** in a former life I was a [classically trained] percussionist, and spent many nervous minutes backstage at the PCH as a teenager-and-young-music-person waiting to go and knock’em dead with some timpani or tambourine solo with the WA Youth Concert Band, or occasionally WAYO, in the 80s. Those bloody Shell Concerts.

* my arrival on stage meant that Mr JB ended up on his lonesome for the evening … but at least it was the second row – centre!
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