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Which netball position will you play in the afterlife?

Sunday April 14th, 2019 in Quiz, Sport | No Comments »

It is my personal belief that after death those who have led a virtuous life and fairly shared the oranges will go to paradise and play the netball position they truly deserve. This quiz will help you know what bib to grab in nirvana.

Something is on fire. What do you do?

a. Run into the fire screaming instructions.

b. Put out the fire by jumping in front of it.

c. Point at the sky to make it rain.

d. Stand and watch. You started the fire, someone else can put it out.

e. Plot your own revenge fire.

e. Stand nearby and offer assistance.

f. Stand nearby and get in the way.

 

How do you like to run?

a. Hither and thither all the live long day.

b. Up until a certain point and then back again.

c. No.

d. In a small box.

e. As far as you can while still able to get home quick.

e. No more than two thirds the total distance.

f. Very fast on the sound of a whistle.

 

Something very bad has happened. Who is to blame?

a. The rest of the team.

b.  Fate, but you’ll get it back.

c. The attackers.

d. The defenders.

e.  The umpire.

f. You and only you.

g. The coach for not letting you play centre.

 

What gets hurts the most?

a. Your Achilles tendon. It was Achilles Achilles and it’s also yours.

b. People who stand in your way.

c. Anyone near you during a rebound.

d. Your ankle.

e. Anyone who suggests you have a quarter off.

f. Your voice from calling for the ball.

g. Your feelings.

 

Who (alive, dead or fictional) would you most like to have dinner with after a game?

a. Your team so they can download your thoughts while they’re fresh.

b. Sun Tzu

c. Liz Ellis

d. Your mum so she can tell you how great you played.

e. The umpire so you can explain how to blow the whistle and call contact.

f. The Bloomsbury set.

g. Your coach to talk about when you’ll get a run in Centre.

 

Mostly As. 

You are a centre. In heaven you will probably get a lot of high fives from the almighty.

Mostly Bs.

Your spirit position is Goal Defence. In life, you have constantly saved the day with little recognition. This will not change after death.

Mostly Cs.

You are a Goal Keeper. You will rest in peace, just as you did when the ball was in the attacking end of the court.

Mostly Ds.

You are a Goal Shooter. The glory and the honour is yours forever and ever.

Mostly Es

You are a Goal Attack. You worked hard your entire life and were justly rewarded but it turns out there will be even more rewards for you in the sky.

Mostly Fs

You are a Wing Defence. Although some would be scrambling for reincarnation you are happy with your position. Enjoy your place at the right hand of the Centre.

Mostly Gs.

You are a Wing Attack. You may be surprised to find yourself here, but no-one else is. Look forward to an eternity of getting out for the centre pass.

1996 Dolly Horoscope

Sunday March 31st, 2019 in Diaries, School | No Comments »

Cover Dolly magazine. Woman with blonde hair crouching wearing an orange jacket.

A friend recently gave me a 1996 copy of Dolly that she found in her possessions.

This is a particularly thoughtful gift for two reasons: I was never allowed to have magazines growing up, and I love mocking things.

I’ve found many points of interest in the June 1996 Dolly magazine. Dolly Doctor has the usual rainbow of bodily discharges, the agony aunt gives some very racist dating advice and you had to call a phone number to vote in the Biggest Babe competition. The article ‘Is he lusting after you?’ contains 50 sure-fire signs to tell if a guy has the hots for you, including “he phones you” and “he doesn’t phone you” which has been a weird way to find out that every single man on the planet is lusting after me.  There’s a picture of a woman wearing white knitted shorts, which you don’t see often probably because of pilling and discharges.

That’s all well and good, but I feel it’s strayed too far from the topic of me, which brings me to the horoscopes.

I have never found astrology to be very uncannily accurate, but perhaps that’s because I’ve always been too close to events to be objective. With the benefit of more than twenty years of distance I want to reflect on my June 1996 Dolly horoscope (Leo), and analyse it against events in the my diary from that month.

Your social side really takes over this month, and friends become much more important.

It’s pretty hard to assess the relative importance of friends but what’s a KPI for if not to measure the unmeasurable for reasons no-one can remember? I will use the total number of friend mentions as an indicator of their importance to me.

In May 1996 I mentioned two friends.

In June 1996 I mentioned eight friends.

This is a quadrupling on the friendship-importance-o-metre. Well done horoscope. TICK.

New friendships with people who have loads of personality will start to take off.

I don’t mention any new friendships but on 9 June I updated my “list of 5 favourite people”. Confusingly, in a preamble to the list I write, “Just because someone is on my list of favourite people, doesn’t mean I like them the most, or indeed like them at all.” So, it’s debatable whether this list is a reliable friendships-taking-off indicator but I’ll leave that one for the auditors.

I culled four people from the list and added four new people. The lucky four new favourites were my dance teacher, the boy I had a crush on, and two girls from school who were very funny. These people never talked to me unless they were being paid. Naughty horoscope. FAIL.

There’s a tricky, intense situation with a friendship after the 15th but you both have to realise that there’s a bigger need for space and freedom in your lives these days.”

Could this refer to the fact that my dance teacher went to Ireland and we had a replacement dance teacher for a couple of weeks? No, as above, we don’t define people paid to talk to me as friends. FAIL.

To double your luck, try to involve friends or groups of people in your biggest plans, as they stand a better chance of working out.

This is more advice than a prediction, but it’s like giving comb-selection tips to a hairless cat. My only plan was to have my pen-friend come and visit me in the holidays. I wanted her to meet the boy I had a crush on (which would have been tricky because I never spoke to him). She told me he was the last person she wanted to meet. FAIL.

If you’re single, consider an eccentric guy, or a weird plan.

(See above). TICK.

So it’s a 40% success rate which is a big fail unless you’re in specialist maths and it might be okay after scaling.

In conclusion, horoscopes are a nonsense (or their uncanny accuracy takes longer than 23 years to emerge).

Ten mistakes to avoid when writing a listicle

Wednesday March 20th, 2019 in Writing | No Comments »

Listicles are good for readers because they increase the white space on the page.

Listicles are good for writers because you don’t have to think.

Despite their ease of production, digestion and excretion, there are some common mistakes people make when writing a listicle. Read on to learn these two things:

1. What the ten listicle mistakes to avoid are.

2. A little bit more information about each mistake under its heading.

ONE: Promising too many items in the title

It’s easy enough to say you’re going to list 17 things to do with your nipples, but you have to be able to follow through. If numbers 14 through to 17 vary only in the colour of the pegs, you have failed.

TWO: Counting wrong

Don’t say there will be six reasons and then only list four. Readers hate reading and will probably rejoice if the list ends early, but for the sake of professionalism get your numbering straight.

THREE: Padding the list with things that should be common sense

Sometimes I feel swamped with tasks and make a list for myself, only to find that I actually only have three things I really need to do and one of them is ‘Calm down you’re actually not that busy and important’.

So I get it. A shorter than expected list can be sad. Even so, do not be tempted to add unnecessary things to the list just to make it longer. A lot of people are writing ‘One thing’ articles now, and that’s fine.

FOUR: Getting your nouns confused

I’ve lost track of the times I’ve started reading a listicle titled ‘Here are the Eight Worst New Years Resolutions’, only to find that half the items are actually Toileting Tips. Keep those two lists separate.

FIVE: Get rid of toxic stuff

Be they in the form of relatives or lead paint, you don’t need these in your life. There are numbers you can call, and you should.

FIVE: Writing your list in Wingdings

It’s a fun font, but hardly anyone can read it.

SIX: Writing your list in Wingdings 2

The companion to Wingdings, Wingdings 2 is actually no easier for people to read.

SEVEN: Writing your listicle in Wingdings 3

I think you see what I’m doing here.

Coming Next Week: The one thing you need to know about tassels

Bridezilla forwards

Tuesday February 5th, 2019 in haters, narrators | No Comments »
White dress and blue undies hanging on clothes line.

Photo: Penelope Claire

I am frequently entertained by internet Bridezilla horror stories, and  it’s time for me to give back.

I’m already married, but should I be lucky enough to wed again I aim to issue instructions to my invited guests that are so outlandish that someone will post them on their socials, where they will go viral.

It will be my little gift to the internet, which has given me so much. I’m thinking karma, paying it forward and doing unto others.

To ensure invitees don’t think I’m joking and chuckle rather than becoming enraged and betraying me on Reddit, I need to keep my outrageous instructions somewhat aligned with my authentic self. These are my working notes.*

  1. Performance: All guests should learn one chapter of The Inimitable Jeeves off by heart. Don’t all learn the same chapter. That’s lazy. You will be required to recite your chapter before being allowed into the reception venue. No exceptions unless you have a medical certificate from a proper doctor (specialist preferred). I won’t be listening, as I only accept Jeeves narrated by Jonathan Cecil, but your effort will prove that you care enough to be included in my special day 🙂
  2. Dress code: Guests may wear whatever they want, but all attire must be washed and donated at the end of the evening – BEFORE you leave the venue. No spare clothes may be changed into as this would defeat the zero-waste point. My local op-shops will gratefully receive any of the items that I don’t want 🙁 If you want to be a gold-star guest, think about my size and style when you’re selecting your outfit!
  3. Gifts: Honestly, the best thing you can bring is yourself. However. I know you would feel so guilty about attending the wedding of the century and not giving anything in return. So just 10-15% of your annual before tax income donated to your local (STATE) school will make you feel better. This  is obviously not a sustainable, equitable school funding model, so please also vote as requested in the “how to vote if you love me” package I will forward to you prior to elections. Send photographic proof that you have done so if you want to stay in my life.
  4. Food: Please eat before attending the reception. Ample food will be served, but it will mainly be for me. Just to be clear, there may not be enough for you to eat. I’ve been very honest, so don’t act surprised. Let me explain my vision: I will be seated at the top table with three people I barely know and a priest. Our table will be laden with cakes and pastries. A separate table will hold half as much food for all the other guests. This is to replicate the absolutely amazing time I had at my First Communion in Grade 4. Such a spiritual occasion deserves nothing less.
  5. Honeymoon: You’re invited! To minimise our carbon footprint, we will be having a staycation. In order to differentiate this time from normal life we are requesting our wonderful friends and family create a 5-star resort experience at our home by tending to our every need (cooking, cleaning, concierge service, gentle waking if afternoon naps go over an hour). Obviously, you will pretend not to know us to avoid awkwardness. Also, I don’t want to hear about rostering issues. Just work it out people!

*Don’t worry, I’m not ruining the plan by sharing it now. I will only invite people who I’ve known for less than six months so as to maximise their unwillingness to comply with my requests.

Around the Palins in a Year

Wednesday October 24th, 2018 in Television, Travel | No Comments »

In 2007 my parents generously gave me the box set of Michael Palin’s travel documentaries for Christmas. I took notes as I watched them and more than ten years later, I want to share my viewing experience.

There are 49 travel documentary episodes in the DVD boxset spanning from Palin’s first crack at the genre, Great Railway Journeys to New Europe released in 2007. (He’s since gone on make documentaries on Brazil and North Korea.)

The Challenge

I realised that if I started after New Year and watched one episode each Sunday evening I would be finished the Michael Palin travel documentary DVD boxset by Christmas 2008. But only just. The plan relied on absolutely everything going right. If I missed episodes because of social plans, electricity failures or prioritisation of craft projects I could easily become hopelessly behind schedule and fail.

But why?

In the twentieth century, television programs were drip fed to us, one episode a week. If you wanted to know whether Darcy and Elizabeth got together, you had to tune in next week. In those days, spoilers were only for cars (I think, like mufflers, also not sure about those though). Modern life, however, is alarming with people having easy access to entire seasons of shows. I can’t get through a day without hearing about someone binge watching something they shouldn’t have.

To the modern media consumer (and even a semi-modern 2008 media consumer) watching one Michael Palin travel documentary per week is stultifying slow. Why watch one episode when you could watch three and a half and get a headache?  However, as I found myself entering 2008, the calculated consistency of the plan appealed to me. In amongst the bustle of the multiple platforms and viewer control I found myself longing for the older style of television viewing – strictly timetabled and out of my hands. I accepted the Around the Palins in a Year challenge. I also set the challenge, and did the challenge and was the only person who cared about the challenge, which only made it more challenging.

Like Michael Palin in Around the World in 80 Days and Jules Vern before him, I did bring a Paspatu on my journey. My Paspatu’s duties included making cups of tea and turning on the television.

January 2008: Great Train Journeys

 I made a strong start with Great Rail Journeys, filmed in the early 80s. The plot centres on Michael Palin travelling across Britain on trains. Michael Palin has a daggy love of trains. He is not alone in this and spends each fifty-minute program talking to other people about their daggy love of trains.

January-February 2008: Around the World in 80 Days

When we arrived at week three I was excited, it was time for Around the World in 80 Days. I first watched this show when I was seven. Michael Palin made travel seem incredibly exciting, glamorous, and the whole point of growing up. I also swore that when I began my travels I would NOT fly by plane but would catch boats and trains everywhere. I’m was also pretty sure I’d be accompanied constantly by a film crew.

And also, the theme song for Around the World in 80 Days features brass instruments, train whistles and a ticking clock. It’s stirring stuff. Sometimes when I need to reignite my enthusiasm for life, I pop the music on and gallop around for a bit (not the versions that they change to ‘suit’ the featured location, because I don’t agree with those.)

Around the World in 80 Days is fantastic and stood re-watching. The sense of a pressing schedule, varied modes of transport and pleated trousers, all make for marvellous television. We had seven very happy Sundays watching it and success in our televisual slowjourn seemed assured.

March-April 2008: Pole to Pole

Feeling smugly confident we moved on to Pole to Pole where we met the first of our problems that would threaten to derail the entire project.

Around the World in 80 Days was experimental television in its time. No-one had done a completely unscripted travel documentary before. During filming they had no idea that the program would be the fabulous success that it was. Unfortunately, Michael Palin let this go to his head. For the first three episodes of P to P he is an insufferable, over confident idiot. He sweeps his way down from the North Pole patronising the locals and doing irritating stunts for the camera.

Even when it’s obvious that they’ve been pissing around in St Petersberg for four days and could have left at any time, they try to maintain the manifestly ridiculous pretence that they are on a tight schedule and simply must get to the next boat or train.

My commitment to Around the Palins in a Year waned but I still forced myself and Paspatu to sit down every Sunday night. This was difficult but there were even greater challenges ahead.

Paspatu was off to America for six weeks. We had known this from the start and reasoned it was like the time that Michael Palin missed a connection at Jedha then drove across Saudi Arabia alone while his Paspatu caught the plane. I should go on alone and Paspatu would catch me up at Full Circle.

It seemed like a good plan while still immersed in 80 Days. After three episodes of Palin patronising Scandinavians I doubted my resolve and for the first time I skipped a week. I was behind schedule. !!! Have I got your attention? I thought so.

The next week I forced myself to tackle another episode. At this point Palin reached Africa and started to have a very nasty time. This took the edge off his smugness. Enjoying the Palin-with-gastro viewing experience I watched two episodes in a row and I was back on track. Queue stirring music and gallop around the couch.

May-June 2008: Full Circle

It is a lot like Pole to Pole. Still counting the days when the days don’t really count. Still patronising the locals and still at his best when he’s been vomiting.

And it was during Full Circle that we reached our biggest hurdle. Someone gave us a box set of the West Wing. Our interest levels waned, as did my notes, so it’s going to be quick from here.

July 2008: The Hemmingway Adventures

If nothing else, Palin was back on form with the theme song for this one. It was gusty and adventurous, and I want it played at my funeral. I like Hemmingway and he had an interesting life. The lack of a pretend schedule was also refreshing. It was extremely easy to watch one episode a week and we sailed through it like Michael Palin on the boat from Singapore to somewhere else.

August 2008: Sahara

Palin visits all the countries near the Sahara Desert. It looked hot! He looked sick! Therefore, I enjoyed it. There was a particularly good bit where Palin was walking through the desert with some camels. It looked like hard work and I was happy to watch an hour of that a week.

September-October 2008: Himalaya

 This was good. Lots of nice cultural things. But I was starting to worry, we were still two episodes behind schedule. I thought about doubling up on a Himalaya but decided to wait for New Europe expecting an interesting political element that would pull us through and fully around the Palins within the year.

 November-December 2008: New Europe

Palin visits all the countries that have joined the European family since the end of the Soviet era. The theme song is very Eurovision and very annoying. The show is just very dull.

We needed to watch two episodes a week for two weeks just before Christmas 2008.

It was tight. Would we make it Around the Palins in a Year?

And then, like the moment in Around the World in 80 Days when Michael Palin arrives back in London and isn’t allowed into the gentlemen’s club, our triumph was an anticlimax. We did it. No-one noticed or cared. If anyone is still reading now, I’m astonished at you.

Ideas for netball novels

Tuesday September 18th, 2018 in Sport, Writing | No Comments »

There are a number of middle-grade books about netball including the Netball Gems series and Sporty Kids: Netball!

And yet, it seems that in other genres, netball has been missing from our literary works. To begin to rectify this, I’ve drawn up a list of netball fiction ideas. I’m happy for anyone to take one of these ideas and run with it (as long as you dispose of it before your landed foot hits the ground again.)

Women wearing netball uniforms jostling. Text Murder on the Transverse line and P Tangey.Crime fiction

Murder on the Transverse Line

A Goal Attack with an ankle injury begins to investigate crime after a member of the opposition is found dead in the netball balls bag.

 

Shirtless man facing away from camera, woman holding netball in goal keeper bib. Text Penelope Tangey, The KeeperRomance

The Keeper

Freya isn’t married and starts a mixed-netball team with her long-term boyfriend.  Freya thinks she loves him, but he plays Goal Attack and insists on taking free passes in the Centre third. Is he really a keeper after all?

 

Rusty Netball ring. Text: P.A. Tangey above and Score below.Literary Fiction

Score

A middle-aged man cheats on his wife with her entire netball team and thinks about dead leaves and rust.

 

Netball ring from below, oranges on a plate, man in paddock chewing grass. Text Penny Tangey Oranges actually are the only fruit

Rural Romance

Oranges actually are the only fruit

A city lawyer returns to the country town of Balanganan after her parents die. She tries to run the family citrus farm, which is very difficult actually. She joins a netball team to unwind, but do they really want her ball skills or just her free oranges?

Picture of small dog in Centre netball bib jacketClassic Children’s Literature

Five Refuse to Forfeit

The Famous Five are badly let down by their Dorset cousins and are left without a full team for the semis. Will the umpire notice that Timmy is a dog and Anne is pregnant?

I Quit Soil!

Sunday June 17th, 2018 in Cafes, Cooking | No Comments »

 

Cross section of soil layers.

Brindy Quokka’s latest book I Quit Soil has made waves in the food community by advocating a diet free of soils, dirt and wax. I decided to try it myself under the guidance of Brindy herself.

Brindy takes me to her favourite soil-free café. She orders for both of us and I’m happy to have her in charge.

I’m doubtful about the lunch but it turns out that washed salad leaves taste good. I’m less certain about the dust-free croutons, but I admit they have a satisfying crunch.

The first thing I ask Brindy is: “Will I be hungry?”

Brindy laughs, “No! You won’t be depriving yourself at all. That’s what I Quit Soil is all about. You can feel full, nourished and satisfied without ingesting soil.”

I leave our grit-free lunch feeling inspired (but still a little nervous) about the week ahead. I also have a lot to do to prepare.

I go home and discard all the soil-based, or soil-containing food in my house. Luckily, it’s bin night because mine is overflowing.

Brindy recommends beginning the soil-detox phase with a clean house to remove the temptation to graze. I thoroughly clean the bathroom, kitchen and sweep all the floors. I burn all my candles to stubs and throw the remaining wax away (okay, I had a tiny taste but it’s my last night of freedom).

I look around my dirt-free house. According to Brindy, I’m ready for this.

My soil-free week

For the first two days of the diet I’m only allowed to eat certified soil-free canned or packaged foods. By midday I’m pining for gravel. But I take Brindy’s advice and satisfy my cravings with a packet of boiled lollies.

On days three and four, I’m allowed to eat fresh foods, as long as I wash them vigorously. At the end of day four I crack and lick a grubby window sill. I call Brindy straight away to confess. She tells me not to worry. I drink some filtered water and move on.

On the last day of my first soil-free week, I go out with colleagues after work. They are keen to hear about my dirt-free week. I am very tempted to pick at the compost flavoured chips in the centre of the table. Luckily, I have prepared for this moment. I take a deep breath and remember Brindy’s tips for staying pure when so-called friends try to sabotage the new you. I go home.

After a week of a soil-free diet I feel better, have more energy, and am nicer to cats.

I Quit Soil by Brindy Quokka RRP: $27.99

If the Baby-Sitters Club played netball

Friday May 4th, 2018 in Baby-Sitters Club, Sport | No Comments »

How did I only just think of this? Let’s not waste anymore time.

Kristy

Obviously, Kristy plays Centre.

During a close semi-final Kristy deliberately steps into the opposition goal circle to draw a free pass and prevent a shot at goal. Her plan works but her guilt at her own un-sportspersonlike behaviour takes a whole book to work through. #676 Kristy and the Umpire Who Should Have Called Advantage.

Mary Anne

Wing Attack. Because, you know, blah.

In #5456 Mary Anne Forgets her Netball Nicks, she and her steady boyfriend, Logan, start a mixed netball team to make their relationship stronger. Unfortunately, evil bitch Cookie is on the opposing team and dobs Mary Anne in for a uniform violation. Luckily, Logan sees through Cookie’s evil plan and they break her finger.

Stacey

Goal Attack. If you need me to explain why, it’s hard to understand why you’re reading this. Stacey is sophisticated AND up-herself.

Stacey has too many oranges. #43243 The Truth About Stacey is She Has Something Stuck in her Teeth.

Claudia

Goal Shooter – because she’s lazy, but useful.

Claudia wants to quit netball to concentrate on eating junk food and reading erotica. In #93402 Claudia and the Sad Shooting Percentage, Kristy finally replaces Claudia with her seven-year-old sister Karen Two-two. Unfortunately, Karen is also committed to another netball team and gets an ankle injury from pivoting too much. Kristy makes Claudia rejoin the team.

Dawn

Goal Defence – because she works hard and then judges.

In #3423964 Dawn Saves the Game, Dawn makes natural, chemical-free, organic deodorant for the whole team. They all pretend to wear it, and Dawn can’t smell herself, so she thinks it works.

Jessi

Goal Keeper – because Jessi is tall and graceful, and, as a ballet dancer, she can balance on one leg.

In #89042 Jessi and the Big Decision, Jessi is forced to choose between netball and ballet. She chooses ballet.

Mallory

Wing Defence. I’ve never been more certain of anything in my life.

In #4342 Mallory is Here If You Need, Mallory thinks her longed for chance to play Centre has arrived when Kristy is sidelined with hepatitis. But, instead, Kristy organises for Shannon to fill in. Mallory learns that she will never be important, just as she will never be older than eleven and get to baby-sit at night. She starts bringing the oranges.

54 762631

Tuesday March 13th, 2018 in Home, School | 1 Comment »

Black and white photo of a '90s Tesltra cord phone.

Today I found out that my dad got rid of the land-line at his house. It’s the house I grew up in, and the phone number I grew up with too.

54 762631

I have a lot of feelings and stories.

When we first got the number, it was shorter – six digits was all that was needed in the early 90s.

I memorised 762631 as well as the numbers of my friends. We all lived in a tiny Central Victorian town called Newstead, so the 762 was a given, and we only needed to remember the last three digits.

Someone could ask, ‘What’s the Culvenor’s number again?’ and the reply would come, ‘627!’ It was a simpler time.

Knowing their home phone number is a good safety skill for children, but it isn’t always enough.

Before my primary school’s Melbourne Camp, we were told a telephone number horror story. A boy from Newstead got lost on an excursion to Melbourne, probably because he wasn’t listening. He had money for the pay phone, BUT he didn’t know he had to use the area code (03) to call home. So, he was stranded. I assume they got him back eventually, otherwise we wouldn’t know about the area code debacle, and there would be no teachable moment.

Anyway, terrifying but we all learned something.

An extra two digits (54) was added to the number when I was a teenager. I coped well. There were lots of changes happening to me at the time, as spelled out in the booklet we received in Grade 6, so the phone number lengthening was the least of my turmoil.

When I was in Year 10 I attended an International Nerd Camp in Melbourne. It was an exhilarating week mixing with kids from all over the world, and staying up past eleven o’ clock. I was having so much fun, that I neglected to call home on the first night, as requested. When I did call, my family members sounded a little miffed that I hadn’t checked in earlier. To make up for my previous tardiness, I called home, reverse charges, for the next four nights, and apparently it cost a lot of money.

When I moved to Melbourne to go to university 54 762631 took on a new meaning. It ceased to be my phone number, but became even more important as my link to home.

My two younger sisters, mum and dad were still living in Newstead so I would call 54 762631 fairly often (after 8pm when long-distance calls were charged at a flat rate) to catch up. At some point in the conversation the family member I was chatting with would yell out, ‘Does anybody else want to talk to Penny?’ There would be a pause and I’d hear some ‘Nahs’ or a reluctant shuffling.

Going home to Newstead for a visit, I would get off the train at Castlemaine station, walk out to the car park and look for a familiar face standing next to a silver sedan. Then I would turn around, and go back to the pay phone and dial, 54 762631. ‘I’m here, I got the 4:15, remember?’

Sometimes I dialled 54 762631 in a crisis. At the end of my first year of uni I had a dark night of the soul and after a short phone conversation, my mum drove to get me.

In recent years, 54 762631 has had problems. The arrival of the NBN was a total stuff-around that involved Dad’s phone being disconnected for three months. Then, it started working again, but 54 762631 connected to next door. This was a definite improvement as the neighbours could run over to Dad’s house and relay messages, but it wasn’t the high-tech future we’d been promised.

They fixed that problem and Dad got a big credit on his account, but when the phone line broke again recently and it was going to cost money to fix, he decided to go mobile only.

My point is, things change. 54 762631 I’ll remember forever.

Four things not to say to new parents

Saturday February 17th, 2018 in Parenting | No Comments »

I’ve written before about what not to do when visiting new parents. But sometimes saying things is a kind of doing too. So, here’s what not to say to a new parent.

1. What’s that smell?

I don’t know. Pick an orifice, they’ve all got problems. Surveys show that 90% of new parents, like me, have no idea where the smell is coming from. Stop asking.

2. I’ve read Ulysses by James Joyce.

Have you? Have you really? So have I. Shut-up. I’m only interested in discussing Ulysses with people who haven’t read it so that I win. New parents are exactly the same. (Note this also applies to Infinite Jest.)

3. There’s no point addressing climate change because of China.

New parents might be tired, but they haven’t lost all sense. Stop your nonsense.

4. I was upgraded to business class!

The fat ratses I give about this are zero. I have sat in plenty of seats with legroom. It’s called a couch.  There was free alcohol! You also get that at twenty-firsts. They gave you a hot towel!? I spend all day handing warm flannels to children – they manage their excitement better than you.

Basically, I’m not interested in a  tick-tock of how your business class grade upgrade happened. I’m sure new parents  also hate this.

In summary, there are a myriad of ways to be insensitive and annoy people, and by people, I mean me. Stoppit.