April 11 2010

I'm Back and More Insane Than Ever

Have you ever suffered from vertigo? I don’t mean the odd dizzy spell; I mean the “Jimmy Stewart climbing up the stairs of a tower while the whole world swims around in his head” type of vertigo. I have! Just last week, in fact.

It isn’t pleasant!

Try getting out of bed when your bedroom has split into three identical bedrooms that are vying for your attention. Try standing up while each bedroom swims through the other two as your eyes try to focus on just one. Try standing up while…well just try sitting up let alone standing up.

Lie back down, Saucer, I hear you say. And I did. And I closed my eyes so that I didn’t have to watch the three bedrooms fight. But, I really needed to get up. Why? Because it was morning and I had been asleep through the night and there was business I needed to take care of. Desperately! Try taking care of said business when there are three receptacles swimming through each other.

Then I crawled back into one of the three beds and fell asleep. And I dreamed:

It was a typical “pre-loved” bookshop. I mean a bookshop of “pre-loved” books not that the bookshop was pre-loved. We used to call them second-hand bookshops until this younger lot came along. Inside this establishment mustiness waged a constant battle with dustiness among the well stacked shelves. Some of the books were obvious casualties in the war, but other, sturdier specimens stood proudly amongst the fallen.

A handful of people stared at me suspiciously when I entered but they didn’t deter me. True, the little old lady with the twitch and three eyes was a little disconcerting, but I managed to avoid her by moving to the back of the shop. The back of the shop was my destination anyway – it had a fine collection of articles that I wanted to read. (Look, it isn’t my fault that the articles are always sandwiched between pictures and it isn’t my fault that I turn the pages slowly.)

There was a solitary man perusing the articles when I got there. He glanced up at me with guilty eyes and pulled the collar of his raincoat above his face. I asked him if the weather forecast had predicted rain but he ignored me. Two could play at that game: I picked up a magazine at random and thumbed through the pages absorbing the astonishing information therein (which reminds me that I must find out how Miss October is doing in her quest for world peace.)

That was when it happened!

A tall man rushed in clutching a steering wheel, a small leather bound book and an animated picture of my boss that kept screaming “get back to work!” This man (the tall one, not the boss and not Mr Raincoat) threw the book at me crying “look after this with your life”. He actually cried while saying this; it was not a metaphor. Then he collapsed at my feet.

I looked at the book. The title was embossed in gold and said Lefty’s Diary: a Sock In search of His Twin.

Then I woke up and the room wasn’t part of a trio anymore. I was better! Much, much better! Now I’m trying to figure out what happened and why. Is it really linked to the mystery of the missing socks?

December 23 2009

Happy Birthday, Master Builder

We picked up our bags, bundled the Game Guru into his car seat, and headed off to the hospital. No hysterics; no panic; a stroll in the park really albeit one of us enjoyed it a lot less than the others, what with the contractions and all. We were pros at the birthing game. The attending doctor wasn’t.

Let me rephrase that. The attending doctor – young as he was – had experience in delivering babies but his attitude crossed the line to the unprofessional side. He was in a big hurry and wanted to expedite the delivery instead of letting it run its natural course. He obviously had something better to do with his time. The Librarian’s mood darkened by the minute and she gave  the doctor an earful. Let’s just say the Librarian didn’t care if he hadn’t completed his Christmas shopping yet (I thought it was more along the lines of a nurse and a broom cupboard but that’s just the way my mind works.)

The replacement doctor was much better.

Eleven years later the Master Builder opens his birthday presents. His unrestrained happiness at receiving a huge Transformers set and yet more Lego is a joy to watch. At times like these it is easy to forget that Master Builder is high functioning autistic.

His enthusiasm continued unabated throughout the day as he absorbed the events: lunch at Whiteman Park, dinner at home and an ice cream from the Cold Rock ice creamery at Hillary’s beach.

The smile was still on his face when he went to bed to dream of Christmas just two sleeps away.

December 20 2009

A Letter To Senator Stephen Conroy

Dear Stephen (may I call you Stephen? You can call me Saucer.).

I for one welcome the measures you are about to take to protect us Australians from the horrors of the Internet. What do we know about our own good, after all, eh? It warms the cockles of my heart to think that you and Kevin (I hope Mr Rudd doesn’t mind me calling him Kevin; he can call me Saucer) are out there protecting us. I especially like the way you constantly state that your Internet filter will protect the children (nyuk! nyuk!) And the way you constantly expand the blacklist behind the filter is genius, Stephen. Pure genius!!

However, Steve (may I call you Steve? Call me Saucer) I must take exception with the limited expanse of your vision. Internet censorship is all well and good but there are so many things in this bad, old world that are just waiting to trip us up. Maybe you and Kev (may I call him Kev?) apply your splendid ideas to these other areas as well. I humbly offer the following great filters:

1. The Great Fire Filter

People cannot be trusted with fire, especially in Australia. I lit a fire once and it singed my eyebrows. I propose the introduction of a fire license which would allow only qualified personnel near fire starting equipment. People already call plumbers and electricians so why not a licensed fire starter? We can use your cunning “protect the children” gambit to ease the introduction of this filter.

2. The Great Pen and Pencil Filter

These horrible devices can easily put out an eye, you know? We must protect the people from the trauma caused by accidently poking oneself in the eye. I, for one, cannot write more than a handful of words without poking myself in the eye. Once again, the “protect the children” gambit will work wonders.

3. The Great Mirror Filter

Did you know that these devices are capable of showing you your own naked body? I almost fainted just the other day when I injudiciously glanced up at the bathroom mirror just before I stepped into the shower. Can you imagine the harm this will cause people? Let’s ban mirrors to protect the children?

4. the Great Book Filter

These horrors are almost as accessible as the Internet and contain equally vile content that could (nay, will) harm us Australians. I once glanced at a book that was chock full of violence and disgusting, filthy sex. One particular scene describes how a father offers his two virgin daughters to a mob that wants to rape his guests. These same daughters — having escaped their fate with the mob — then get their father drunk and have sex with him and conceive sons. What filth! Books like these should be banned. Besides they could cause paper cuts.

So there you have it, big SC (may I call you SC?) Something to think about, eh? I have many more ideas (The Great Brain Filter is in the formative stages; you’ll like that one) so let’s do lunch (but without those nasty knives and forks.)

Yours sincerely,

Flying Saucer Jones

December 14 2009

She Made Me Cry, Ma

I am now two weeks into my 48th year upon this here mortal coil (thank you to all the well wishers; why yes, I had a grand old time) and the time for an eye test is long overdue. If it was left up to me I would probably never make it to any medical establishment but, thankfully, the Librarian is here. She decided it was high time we all got our eyes checked.

The Librarian and the kids went first and were already done by the time I finished work and and got to the optometrist. The first thing I noticed was that optometry appears to be the exclusive purview of the extremely young, female gender; at least it was at this particular optometrist’s place of business.

After the usual tests the beautiful, young optometrist told me (in her lovely Scottish brogue) that my distance vision is perfect. (Woohoo! Beat that, you young whippersnappers!) My close up vision, however, is just a tiny bit imperfect. (Ah! Well, wait ‘til you reach my age, you young whippersnappers.) I already knew about my less than perfect vision because the distance between the written word and my eyes has increased over the last couple of years. Before too long my arms will be at full stretch just to read a magazine (I do read the articles too, you know!!!)

The beautiful, young optometrist then informed me that she was going to administer the eye pressure test. She put some drops into both eyes and – when the stinging stopped – followed with a set of yellow drops. Then, with my eyeballs suitably numbed, she performed the test and announced that everything is perfect (I did mention her lovely Scottish brogue, didn’t I?) while the yellow drops streamed down my cheeks.

The final set of tests involved an extremely bright light. The beautiful, young optometrist told me she was checking the back of my eyes. I assume she was checking my retina. She asked me to look right and left and up and down and various combinations of those directions. The bright light made it very difficult to see anything which was especially frustrating during the “look down” part. The beautiful, young optometrist was directly in front of me and I was looking down into areas that should have caused my blood pressure to rise. Blasted bright light. Couldn’t see a thing. I cried yellow tears.

The lovely Scottish brogue informed me that the back walls of my eyes are perfect. I looked in the direction of her voice, smiled and fought the urge to sing Stevie Wonder songs. Thankfully, vision returned rapidly and I found myself back at the receptionist’s desk ordering a pair of reading glasses. The young girl there informed me that I would usually be slugged $500 for the privilege of decreasing the distance between the written word and my eyes. Ignoring the wail from my wallet she then told me that there was a discount that would shave $100 off the price. Another $100 came off because our insurance company covers about 25% (gee, thanks insurance company; making good use of my premiums, are you?) so I will be out of pocket a measly $300.

We left the optometrists with a wailing wallet and more yellow tears.

Category: Health | LEAVE A COMMENT
November 22 2009

Tim Finn Rocks the Quarry

I discovered the music of Tim and Neill Finn when I was a young lad and they were in a little group called Split Enz. (That would be a century ago, eh Saucer? Why you…) I have loved their music ever since. Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to see them live in concert back then. Fortunately the Finn’s still tour and I have the coin and the time to see them when they come around to Perth. This time around it was Tim who came to town and performed three sold out shows at the Quarry Amphitheatre.

The Quarry gets its name from the limestone quarry that it was in the 1830’s. The quarry was, obviously, started for purposes other than an excavation of a future venue for concerts but it makes for the best venue I’ve been to. It only holds about 550 people but that makes for a better experience for me.

It was a magical night. The rains that pelted down last week abated on Thursday and the clouds were long gone when the Librarian and I lined up just outside the gates. While we waited for the gates to open a Quarry staff member gave us a mini programme and our bank account breathed a small sigh of relief that it wouldn’t be losing weight on that front. At 6:00pm the gates opened – this place is punctual – and our tickets were validated. Then the Librarian and I raced to the front of the amphitheatre and found seats in the very first row. Front row seats! Right in front of the microphone!

Flushed with our good fortune (and the exertion of racing to the front) we looked around the Quarry and noted that we were actually at the younger end of the age spectrum. It was a veritable sea of silver follicles. There were some young whippersnappers around but the silver sea was otherwise undiluted by youthful follicular pigmentation. Smiling happily at each other we opened our picnic hamper and indulged in the cold feast therein while people around us forced themselves to eat the food they purchased at the Quarry cafe. Hot food. Hot, delicious smelling food. And reasonably priced, as it turned out. At least the cold feast was delicious. And cheaper.

A young lad called Andy Bull opened the proceedings as we finished our meal. He is quite a talent and one to look out for. Andy’s voice sounds like it got stuck on the edge of puberty and he makes some funny, self effacing jokes about it. He was so entertaining and talented that the Librarian and I decided to buy his CD during the intermission. Our bank account – by now quite complacent after the mini programme episode – was startled at the sudden debit caused by the purchase of not only the CD but a couple of ice creams and a tea towel bearing a painting of the great Tim Finn. (The tea towel will, no doubt, remain a stranger to the dishes and cutlery in the kitchen.)

While our bank account whimpered we resumed our seats and, right on time, out strode Mr Finn singing Dirty Creature. This is the Librarian’s favourite Split Enz song so she was thrilled. This was brilliant Tim Finn, and it only got better. His backing band was tight – it was especially good to see Eddie Raynor on keyboards – and the rhythm section was quite superb on songs ranging from the Split Enz days, through Crowded House, the Finn Brothers and Tim’s solo work. Then they made my day by finishing with my favourite Split Enz song, I See Red.

I tell a little lie, of course. While it is my favourite Split Enz song, I See Red, wasn’t the last song at all. There were two encores and, I suspect, would have been another if not for the local council’s ban on concerts going past 10:00PM. (And by local, I mean Perth. Rock on, people of Perth, but not after 10:00PM; people are trying to sleep!)

And so, Tim, Eddie and the band said good night and the Librarian and I left the Quarry. We stopped at the beach for a while. Sitting in the sand we watched the moon playing peek-a-boo behind the clouds that were drifting in. For just a few moments longer we basked in the magic that was Tim Finn at the Quarry.

Set List For Tim Finn, Quarry Theatre, 21 Nov, 2009

Dirty Creature
She Got Body
6 Months
Luckiest Man
Chocolate Cake
My Mistake
Not Even Close
Couldn’t Be Done
Weather With You
Straw To Gold
Made My Day
I See Red

First Encore

Nothing Unusual
What You’ve Done
Fraction Too Much Friction

Second Encore

Light Years Away
Astounding Moon

Thanks to Pez who posted the set lists to the Frenz Forum thus filling the gaps in my recollection of the set list.

November 20 2009

A Rant Every Now and Then

Sometimes, when you don’t have anything good to say about people, let someone else say it for you:

Bozone (n.) The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

Some of the people I have to put up with on my way to and from work, I tell you! Then again, maybe they are saying the same about me.

‘nuff said.

October 19 2009

Fifteen? Really?

The Librarian did all the hard work, of course, while I just stood there feeling quite useless and very much in the way of the doctors and nurses. My occasional entreaty to push didn’t actually help the Librarian in any way, I’m sure, but saying it was better than not saying it. Oscar Wilde would, no doubt, agree with me. So I said it a few times while I gently squeezed her hand. She squeezed back. She wasn’t as gentle.

We became first time parents that day but only after a good deal of persuasion. Our first child wasn’t too keen on leaving his home of nine months. Or maybe he was but, being a large baby, found his progress impeded by a less than ideal path. The attending physician finally decided that some assistance was in order and brought out the medical equivalent of a vacuum cleaner. And so – fifteen years ago – Game Guru was literally sucked out into the world.

Time passed. The little human being shifted and changed. Along the way he contributed a great deal to my grey hair. There was the time I found him attempting to discover the effects of electricity. We had the foresight to cover all exposed power points so he was in no danger of getting a shock. In fact the shock was all mine until I realized that he was safe.

A much larger shock came some time later. The Game Guru and I were alone one morning and he had grown weary of my company (hard to believe, I know but even Saucer has his off days.) The inevitable happened and he became Little Monster, arch nemesis of Daddy Man. Ranting and raving ensued. I finally gathered together all the dignity an adult could muster and left him alone in his room but not before telling him something I promised myself I would never say: “if you don’t like the rules in this house then you can go find another house with better rules.” Things quietened down after that. A lot. It was very, very quiet.

I was frantically searching our neighbourhood when the Librarian returned home. She had a little passenger with him. I can’t describe the sense of relief that surged through me when I saw that little face. I don’t think he has ever received an embrace quite like the one he got then. The Librarian told me that she picked him up some distance away from the house – at least it was some distance for his little legs. The Game Guru had gone looking for the house with better rules.

His contribution to my grey hair collection, however, is miniscule compared to his contribution to my facial wrinkle collection. Those wrinkles are direct result of the smiles and laughs he has given me in his fifteen years. How can I ever forget, for example, this:

“What sound does a cow make?” we ask.

“Moo!” says he.

“What sound does a dog make?”


“And what sound does a chicken make?”

“Sizzle, sizzle, in the pan!”

So here, filled with love and pride, are hugs to him even though he towers over me now. Happy birthday, my Son!

October 10 2009

‘Tis the Season To Be Sneezing

Ah, Spring! The season when a part of the world awakens from its Winter torpor: birds are singing their delightful “I’m going to get me some” song; bees are hanging around flowers buzzing their “I’m going to get me some” song; women are walking around in skimpy clothing singing their…actually it’s more like they are making us men (and some of the women – not that there’s anything wrong with that, heavens no) sing.

That’s all wonderful. If only the flowers would leave me alone.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do love the riot of colours and shapes that accompany the Spring bloom. What I don’t like is  the way that those responsible for the display also believe my nose is a suitable receptacle for their various pollens. My body doesn’t welcome the invasion so the defence mechanisms go into overdrive. This means I am constantly sneezing, coughing and crying (in a hayfeverish but manly way, of course) to repel the invading plant life. The tissue manufacturers are rubbing their hands together in anticipation of a significant boost to their profits.

So, naturally, I went out and cut the grass. Well, it is Spring. And the grass was tall. Very tall! Tall enough to hide sna…

Let me digress a moment to tell you that the one thing on this Earth that scares me more than anything else is the snake. (Except for Pink. But that’s another story.) And this is Australia, home of the nastiest specimens of sibilant, slithering, organic tubes in the world. They like tall grass! It’s always a good idea to remove things they like even in densely populated suburbs. We’ve never had those nasty visitors in our yard and I really, really want to keep it that way.

Where was I? Oh yes, I went out and cut the grass. I did it with a line trimmer because the lawn mower took one look at the grass and said “you are joking, right?” The line trimmer merely cackled and waded into the stalks with glee. The grass obviously wasn’t too keen on the sudden reduction in height and rewarded the line trimmer’s efforts by getting up my nose thus starting another battle in the war. (Another digression here to advice the unwary that goggles and shoes are a good idea when a line trimmer is performing. Just saying!)

So begins the Great Hayfever War of 2009-2010.

September 26 2009

The Right Write Rite

It just got up and left. Without so much as a ‘”by your leave”. Without so much as a note. One day it was there and the next, gone. One just cannot write without the spark so I haven’t. So this blog gathered dust much to the disgust of the French Maid with the feather duster who inhabits a part of my mind. (What? Don’t look at me like that!)

It’s not as if there isn’t anything to write about – this is 2009 on the planet Earth, after all. There’s an embarrassment of riches, writing wise. An ocean of material awaits the writer, be it sad, funny, dramatic, whatever, it’s out there.

Take for instance the antics of some members of the Brisbane constabulary who were in fine form a few days ago. It seems that a couple of the boys in blue wanted to celebrate their impending nuptials. (Not to each other, I hasten to add.) There was a buck’s night accompanied by the usual hijinks (by the way, I digress to remind some of you that I am still owed one proper buck’s night – I’ve only been waiting 15 odd years; cough up). Unfortunately said hijinks spilled out onto streets of Brisbane.

In an unmarked police bus.

Sans clothing.

A witness says she saw the car stop several times so that two naked men could jump out and run laps around the vehicle. She called the police and gave them the bus’ registration number. Imagine their surprise when they found that the culprits were two Special Emergency Response Team officers brandishing their truncheons in public (cheap shot, I know, but I don’t have the spark, remember. Besides, I could have written several sentences about night sticks, so be grateful I didn’t.)

The two officers are now under investigation as are their friends in the van. It turns out that three of those friends had a similar distaste for clothing. What exactly were those three doing in the van? Responding to their own special emergency? On second thoughts, I think it best if we leave that mystery unsolved.

So there you have just one example of material available to the writer. A time honoured pre-nuptial rite that was just right to get me to write. Even without the spark.

August 22 2009

Happy About Miserables

A veritable ocean of water has passed under the bridge since I last saw a live play. That is a regretful state of affairs. There’s something about watching a good stage production that the recorded medium just cannot emulate. I was reminded of that today when the Librarian, the Game Guru and I attended a pro-am production of Les Miserables at the Regal Theatre (leaving the Lego Lover in my Mum’s company).

We bought our tickets several weeks ago which allowed us the luxury of choosing front row seats in the balcony section. We weren’t quick enough to secure the centre of the row but the view from the seats we did reserve was fantastic. (Note to self: make sure to secure front row balcony seats for all future forays to the theatre.)

Game Guru was quite excited at seeing his first play. He has developed quite a passion for Les Miserables and this production seemed like the ideal introduction. And none of us were irritated at the audience, which is, unfortunately, not something we can say for some cinema outings. When the lights went down the audience became silent and actually listened. At the cinema there’s usually a buzz of conversation from some part of the crowd which is accompanied by the occasional ringtone and the frequent crackle of plastic bags. None of that here.

Game Guru’s excitement was amply rewarded. It was a very good production and we came away feeling happy. I hope it won’t be too long before we attend another play. I thoroughly recommend the experience.

Category: Plays | LEAVE A COMMENT