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54 762631

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

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.

FAQs – Netball Bib Bags

Saturday December 30th, 2017 in Craft, Sport | No Comments »

Three netball bib bags. Two black in back and one green Wing Attack bag at front

I’ve become tired of answering the same questions about my netball bib bags (sold through the Etsy shop If You Need). I’ve prepared this list of answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

I have hands and arms. Why should I use a bag to carry things?

Bags can greatly assist in the ease and efficiency of transporting a range of items. I’ve written more fully on the topic here. Although it can feel strange at first, most people who start using bags say they wish they had done so earlier.

Were any netballers harmed in the production of your bags?

If You Need is a certified netballer friendly organisation. Our netball bib bags are made from 100% genuine netball bibs. All netball players are safely and ethically removed before processing begins.

Are netball bib bags reversible?

Yes. Netball bib bags are lined and can be reversed by turning them inside out. Reversing the bag will hide the bib’s position, so this is the suggested styling for Wing Defence bags.

Can I carry a netball bib bag with a position I don’t play?

There’s no law against it, it’s a matter of conscience.

How many netball bib bags should I own?

One hundred is too many, zero is too few. While there are no hard and fast rules to work this out I’ve found that your age divided by three plus seven is generally ample.

Do you make anything else out of netball bibs?

This is an area of current research and development. Plans for future development using netball bibs include a perpetual motion machine and gold.

Your future in 2018 according to Netballstrology

Tuesday December 26th, 2017 in Craft, Sport | No Comments »

Astrology chart overwritten with netball positions and with an orange in the centre.

Your netball position is highly predictive of your future. I’ve spent many hours meditating on an orange (very painful and sticky) in order to divine these uncannily accurate netballstrology readings. Read on to find out what 2018 has in store for you.

Note: The bags pictured are available at www.ifyouneed.etsy.com

Green Goal Shooter netball bib bagGoal Shooter

With Mercury peeling the orange in 2018, this should be a great year for Shooters.


You are a person who can take the long-view. That is because you are tall. If not, you might want to reconsider your position in 2018. If you decide to stay in your current role, you should try to get a window seat at your workplace. You might have a lot of time to stare out of it.


I’m seeing a lot of armpits in your life in 2018. As usual, ignore them. (I’m really talking about romance.) You have the good sense to stay in the place where you’re most needed, so don’t let anyone tempt you into areas you’re not comfortable in.


On court, Goal Shooters have finely tuned minds with a laser-like focus on accuracy. Once the game is over they are likely to wander off without handing in their bib to be washed. Keep your brain nimble by eating good oils and also watch out for ankle injuries.


Blue Goal Attack netball bib bagGoal Attack

With the goal-post waxing in 2018, this will be a year where Goal Attacks’ versatility and skill can shine. Also, in June you will kill again.


Some people have one job, but you have at least two and you’re great at both. You’re a go-getter but you’re also quite accurate. So, don’t hold back with your opinions in the workplace. If you see something you don’t agree with, in an area you’re not technically allowed in, stand as close as you can and shout advice.


In 2018 try not to worry if a relationship doesn’t work out as you planned. Chances are, someone else was obstructing you and y ou’ll get another crack at it.


You’re good at ignoring armpits thrust in your face but don’t forget to check your breasts if you have them.


Yellow Goal Keeper netball bib bagGoal Keeper

With the weakness in the opposition attack in 2018, this should be a quiet year for Goal Keepers.


If you are working for a successful organisation, you may have little to do in 2018. Relish this and work on mindfulness. How many things can you smell that aren’t deep heat? Keep a list.


We all know that the best way to attract a mate is to stick your armpit in their face. Keep using that tactic in 2018, it’s bound to work eventually.


Sitting is the new smoking and we’re all supposed to stand more. This is good news for Goal Keepers who spend most of their time standing around. To make this activity even more beneficial, do some pelvic floor exercises.


Light blue Goal Defence netball bib bagGoal Defence

The goal circle is still a semi-circle in 2018, which means Goal Defenders can expect the relentless grind to continue this year.


In 2017 you did twice as much work as your colleague for the same reward in oranges. It’s your own fault for being so damn competent. Nothing will change in 2018. Now jog back for the centre pass and get on with it.


When it comes to love, you have to be in it to win it. You should stick your arms up at every opportunity, provided you’re the legally mandated distance away. Having said that, rebounds are your best chance in 2018, so watch out for other people’s failures and be ready to pounce on them.


You spend so much time fixing other people’s mistakes that it’s hard to find time to look after yourself. On the bright side, at least you’re getting plenty of exercise.


Red Wing Attack netball bib bagWing Attack

With the sun hovering over the transverse line, Wing Attacks can expect a big year in 2018. Unless one of their team members doesn’t turn up, then you might have to play in goals, which will be a disaster as per usual.


Wing Attacks – are you living up to your potential? Do I hear you say no? Actually, the answer is yes. The truth is, just like how you don’t play Centre, you’re where you are in your career for a reason. And that reason is limited talent. “Keep doing what you’re doing” said the man to the tree as if it needed his advice.


Singles – showing people they need you is a wonderful way to make them love you. That’s why you bring the oranges, right? In the second half of the year you will try a similar tactic on a love interest by baking cakes.

Paired-up Wing Attacks can expect to continue to be the only one in the relationship who makes the cakes.


Blue Wing Defence netball bib bagWing Defence

2018 should be a bumper year for Wing Defenders provided they don’t have unrealistic expectations of receiving love, recognition or a fair share of the oranges.


Just because you’re the first person to be offered a redundancy when your workplace restructures, doesn’t mean your role’s contribution isn’t considered as important as other people’s. Actually, that’s exactly what it means. But just because you will never receive any reward or recognition, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your hardest.


When you see other people enjoying each other’s company, stand as close as you’re legally able and let them know that you’re there if they need you.  They don’t, but that is hardly the point.


Watch out for ankle injuries.



Assuming you win the toss, 2018 starts with you; it’s just a shame it will also involve less competent people.


You’ve usually got an iron in every fire and 2018 will be no exception – you’ll be all over the place, in a good way, of course. However, there’s still the pesky matter of the goal circles where other people will ruin or validate your good-work.  You can’t control everything. Let it go. By which I mean, scream instructions at your colleagues. Remember, you will be the one who fixes their mistakes…and then they will make more of them.


“Centres should try seeing things from their partner’s perspective” says the person who knows nothing about power dynamics. As a wise Centre you know that you’re indispensable, so do what you want and have fun love-rat!


Do you feel exhausted? Probably, but better than being lazy like everyone else, am I right? You’re at least a third healthier than anyone else you know so let smugness be your energy.


I’m joking. This has no relevance to netball. In 2018 you will come into a lot of citrus fruit. Eat as much as you want, you deserve it.



Saturday November 25th, 2017 in Craft, Sport | No Comments »

I’ve started turning netball bibs into bags and selling them on Etsy.

Customer research suggests that the main factor limiting sales is that people don’t think they need a bag, believing it is better to move things using their hands alone. In fact, bags are a practical way to carry a wide range of items. Once you start carrying things in bags, the possibilities are endless. Here’s a list of just some of the ideas.

1. Shopping

Are you sick of carrying armfuls of produce back to your house, before returning to the supermarket to get more? Bags will save you heaps of trips back and forth.

2. Personal items

Keys, wallets, phones and neck pillows can all be carried in bags instead of pockets. In fact, bags are in many ways a detachable pocket.

3. Collections

I cannot walk down the street without finding an old leaf or stick that I just have to have. Instead of clutching these (which makes holding hands to cross the road difficult), try putting your gorgeous and essential collection in a bag.

4. A change of clothes

Spilled food, weather, rolling in dirt – all of these things happen. Carrying a change of clothes in a bag is a practical alternative to wearing three t-shirts.

5. Secrets

Many styles of bags are opaque, meaning that others can’t see what they contain. This allows you to discretely carry soiled underwear and treasure maps – no more stuffing them up your jumper and hoping no-one notices.

(Please note that these bags are not appropriate for transporting live animals, uranium or unrestrained water.)

The day I realised my friend was writing articles about our friendship

Thursday November 2nd, 2017 in Writing | No Comments »

The first time I had an inkling that my friend Ben was writing articles about our friendship was when I read his Daily Hail piece titled, “Is it ever okay to tell your friend they’re a terrible person?”

In the article Ben wrote about a friend called “Jenny” who had borrowed his red jumper and returned it covered in cat hair. I decided not to assume his writing was about me. The jumper I’d borrowed from Ben was orange and the hair was Pomeranian. (I didn’t own a lint roller and had done my best with a wad of Blu Tack).

The next article Ben sold to Men’s Daily was titled, “The five ways to dump a toxic friend”. Ben had done extensive research for this article. He had interviewed a real-life celebrity psychologist by reading their book and distilled their advice in between stories of how awful his friend was. Ultimately, it was really only one piece of advice, “Don’t spend time with your toxic friend” but Ben managed to break it up into five parts: Don’t respond to their emails, Don’t respond to their text messages, Don’t answer their phone calls, Pretend you’re very busy and important, and Hide.

I couldn’t help but wonder, am I Ben’s toxic friend? Particularly when I found Ben crouching in the pantry. He said he was looking for a potato and I chose to believe him.

It was when I read Ben’s article in Junkabel, “The day I realised I hate my housemate” that I finally had no doubt that he secretly publicly hated me. Ben included an anecdote about his horrible housemate sending him a passive aggressive email asking if he wanted a puppy. Despite Ben anonymising the email address as horriblehousemate@gmail.com I knew the email he quoted was from me because I had written it and he included my spelling errors. No-one else spells bureaucrat quite that badly.

The scales fell from my eyes and I realised Ben was maintaining our relationship just to write about how awful it was. After a minute of reflection, I calmed down. We all need to earn a crust. Not everyone is lucky enough to own a Pomeranian walking business. I just wish Ben would stop tagging me when he shares the links.

Radio Bacon

Monday October 16th, 2017 in The Pig, Work | No Comments »

Three weeks ago ABC Central Victoria recorded me reading some short snippets about my time working in a bacon factory.

In my first piece I explain that I learned a lot about bacon.


I also experienced sexual harassment for the first time! What a milestone in a young lady’s life.


It was a difficult couple of months, but in the end, I “turned out alright” (ie, did the over-time and didn’t complain too much.)

Sorry you’ve been living your life wrong, according to Enid Blyton

Tuesday August 29th, 2017 in Enid Blyton, Parenting | No Comments »

Old fashion blue upholstered wing chair with red wings drawn onto legs.

Enid Blyton lived before the age of the blog, internet article or listicle. She wrote narrative fiction for children with paragraphs and no headings, except for chapters. Who has the attention span for that? Not me really, but I’ve come up with some article ideas to impart Blyton’s wisdom in a more accessible modern form.

1. The 5 best foods for a midnight feast 

They are all sausages.

2. Should you be elfing you children? 

There’s a new parenting trend of allowing mythical forest folk to care for children for up to twelve hours each day. Experts quoted in the article are divided but strident on the subject.

3. Why I won’t elf my children

In a follow up personal piece a mother details how her mothers group nearly shamed her into elfing her children. She’s glad she didn’t, because her friend’s fairy-carer turned out to be a real estate agent with no access to the magical realm.

4. Do you know the signs of a toxic friendship?

Is your friend different to you in any way? If so, don’t put up with it. Hit them with a hockey stick until they fit in.

5. These life hacks will change the way you fly your furniture forever

Who knew you were supposed to land the back two legs first! But it makes so much sense now! Share!

6. The 10 worst things about travel and why I won’t stop

Everyone wants to go on adventures and then complain when they get there. This article will validate that instinct.

My hobbies

Monday August 7th, 2017 in Parenting | No Comments »

Floral colouring in with words Wees, Poos, Bum

I’m very busy and important, but that doesn’t mean I don’t make time for hobbies. Here are some of my faves.

1. Sticky taping the flaps back onto lift the flap books

I often delay delving into this hobby, but once I start it’s very satisfying. There are usually a number of flaps scattered around my house. I have to guard these against people who want to put them in the bin even though they are obviously part of an ongoing book restoration project. Once or twice a year I gather up all the flaps and stick them back in their original books. It’s very satisfying and Where’s Spot? makes a lot more sense.

2. Looking in the couch

I take off all the couch cushions and partially unfold the sofa bed. This allows me to more evenly scatter crumbs across the room and find lost items such as pencils, puzzle pieces and bits of Lego. If I find a flap I will put it on a surface to be dealt with when I dip back into hobby No 1.

3. Visiting The Age website and hating myself

I often wonder what’s going on in the world and visit The Age website. Once I’m there I read about parenting trends and celebrities. This happens several times a day.

4. Allowing the furniture to be repainted

I enthusiastically start craft projects with my children, but unfortunately we rarely share a vision. I often think of this French and Saunders sketch when I find myself trying to micro-manage the creative expression of preschoolers. I generally end up ignoring the children while I concentrate on my own project. This leads to a bit of mess and ingestion of craft materials. But paint either washes off or eventually rubs off with the dead skin. It is also quickly excreted when taken internally, I tell myself.

In conclusion, even if you are absolutely flat-chat there are ways to incorporate your hobbies and me-time into your routine. You just need to be creative, flexible and have very low standards.

P is for Phonetic: An English Spelling is Phucked Alfabet

Saturday July 22nd, 2017 in Writing | No Comments »

File:Greek cyrillic latin.png

I’m not one of the world’s great spellers. I blame English.

Below I’ve expressed my frustration (with some swears apologies). If illustrated this could be a lovely baby board book or frieze for a child’s room.


A is for Art. Apparently. Not R, because that would be easy. Rseholes.


There are two Bs in bomb. For no good reason. Bumb.


There are no Cs in sea, or see. There’s one in c***s though.


There’s a D in sandwich. Stick it up your andus.


E is for excrement. Not X because it’s s**t.


There are two Fs in giraffe. FFS.


G is for gonerreah, making it the most sensible letter in the word.


H is for hours of my life wasted trying to spell hierarchy.


There’s no I in eye. I give in.


There’s a J in marijuana. No wonder people stick to heroin.


Lolly has three Ls, lily has two.

I want to scream, how about you?


M is for mnemonic, and you’ll need one to remember how to spell it.


N is knot for knife. Who new.


There’s two Os in colonel, but none in kernel. How’s your colon feeling?


P is for pterodactyl. What ptwat decided that?


Q is for queue. Four extra vowels, why? Queueunts.


R is the second letter in are. RUOK? No. I’m aropeable.


There’s an S is in aisle and isle. Homonyms with no s sound. I’lls be buggered.


There’s a T in listen, but you can’t hear it. I shi you no.


U is the last letter in you. nf***ingbelievableu.


V is for vagina. I have no problem with that.


W is for write. Rankers.


There’s an X in box but not blocks. Bollox.


There’s a Y in why but not where you’d think. It’s ysh**t.


Z is not for xylophone. F*** off! Zactly.