Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Karma - not.

I was approached by a homeless guy last Friday afternoon. Sitting outside a city bar with a colleague, we were having a glass of wine and discussing work (really, we were!) when the guy apologised for interrupting and asked if we could spare a dollar.

He said he was staying a a hostel, they were looking after him but he needed a meal. I gave him twenty bucks. He thanked me and then pushed on. Can't really blame him, can you? And I suspect he'd already seen the fiver in my wallet. Could I spare another $5 or $6? He'd be right by Monday but needed to pay the hostel. I suggested he pop down to the City Mission, around the corner from where we were or even the St Kilda Mission, where I've previously volunteered, as either of those would feed him for free.

He assured me he knew all the places. He then apologised for allowing the smoke of his cigarette to drift into our faces. How much are cigarettes? $26? Anyway.... even if he spent my money on fags, good luck to him. He was a friendly guy and we all know it's a short trip from secure to destitute.

But I stood firm, told him I was done, wished him well and he moved on to the next table.

On Monday, I got up and went for a run. A rare occurance that won't be repeated too often. It was dark when I set off so I stuck to the main drag. Well into it,  I noticed a homeless lady on the other side of road. I've seen here around before carrying her four green supermarket bags with her belongings neatly folded into them. She was yelling and with great purpose, crossed straight over without looking, forcing a car to brake and angrily honk the horn. I was was watching but still running. What had got her attention? As I passed where she'd paused, she placed her bags behind a parked car, still cursing and swearing and very agitated - and then I realised!! - she was yelling at me! Not only that, once she'd lightened her load, she started chasing me, screaming 'F@#K OFF!!! JUST F@#K OFF OUT OF HERE! GET OUT OF HERE!' Gee, did I pick up speed. She had quite a pace going and although appearing much older than me, she could run!

I tried to remain calm, contemplate what she might do if she caught me (a slap, a punch?) and kept running - fast. After some time, I mustered up the courage to glance behind to see her abandon the chase with a two fingered salute and head back to claim her things. Phew.

So there you have it, just because you do something you think is nice, don't expect it to come back. You're just setting yourself up for disappointment.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Reasons why I could and couldn't live in Japan


  • First and foremost, because Ugg boots are completely acceptable footwear anywhere, anytime - yes please! And there's a truly dazzling array of styles for every occasion. Gold sequins anyone?
  • The people are so polite - even when they're asking you not to park
  • The people are honest - look at this lost baby shoes on The Philosopher's Walk in Kyoto
  • Art - especially the contemporary stuff (more to come on that)
  • Hot coffee in vending machines - everywhere
  • The food - yum!
  • The interesting stuff you stumble upon - like a wedding 
  • The gardens and temples
  • Skiing and powder

  • I can't speak Japanese. But having said that, unlike languages that require you to talk with a funny accent, I reckon I could give it a red hot go. Although Eleanor spend seven years learning Japanese in primary school and all she could say was 'Sit down' (apparently what the teacher constantly requested of the class), hello, goodbye and thank you (I can manage that) and count to ten....hmmm
  • I can't drive for nuts - let alone in very small spaces. Check this park in someone's front yard - again in Kyoto! How to you get out? Through the boot??

So - nine to two - yep, that feels about right!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

How To Slow Down Time

I didn't think it was possible but I stand corrected. Having just come off the Queen Mary 2, I can now share the secret of how to make 5 nights feel like 3 weeks.

It seemed like such a good idea at the time - 5 nights sailing on the world's biggest ocean liner while it was down here in the Southern Hemisphere. An opportunity not to be missed. Until we arrived and I remembered the demographic of cruises - a bit like the train we took merely months ago, again traversing this great country of ours, trapped in the confinement of another mobile aged care facility - only this one was floating.

The ship. It promised so much.

It's grand, beautiful and boring.

Now please - don't get me wrong. I am NOT ageist. I have some wonderful older friends. In fact, I spent a very pleasant afternoon just a few weeks back with a small selection of wise, interesting and funny ladies I admire deeply - one who's the same age as my mother and the other two retired for some years. So it's not just about age, I'm convinced. 

Part of the issue was the schedule being geared up for people of a certain age - line dancing, bridge for beginners, ballroom dance classes, the needle work and knitting social group, pokies, quizzes - you get the picture. The entertainment is along the same lines. In fact, Geoff and I couldn't bring ourselves to face the nightclub on our last evening for the Abba revival.

The only night we did head to G32, the hip happening 'disco' that the social host joked every night would be 'rushed' by all four guests up for that kind of a night, we were 'rushed' by two couples who'd been on the boat since Cape Town. They were about 14 nights in to their 18 night cruise to Sydney and they were, as they proclaimed, almost ready to swim to get off! They were all around sixty and rapidly sinking into despair at how long this confinement still had to go. They were not having the time of their lives. Frankly, they were bored shitless. The weather was crap, the food was English (need I say more?) and one couple's drinks bill had already hit $3,000.

                                                  The weather was like this - the whole way.

I did attend a Spin Class. Of the 2300 passengers, the instructor was delighted to have four of us turn up - it's often none or one. She was so dazzled by my enthusiasm and effort (and I have not done a spin class in years, so it was very misguided) she actually asked when I was getting off and she'd love me to come to the next one. It wasn't to be - it was after we left. The other able body in the class was a gay guy about 40 who was travelling with his mother. We had a brief chat after the class and he too had been on the ship for the entire journey and was ready to poke out his own eyes just for something to do.

It was quite depressing. Aging is crap, we all know that, it's just the alternative isn't much of an option. There was quite the selection of walking frames, sticks and wheelchairs (motorised carts for the obese, manual for the infirmed) to help the passengers shuffle around. There were also far too many socks and sandals for my liking. Geoff heard from a passenger in the know that four guests had 'popped off' between Cape Town and Perth and even revealed how they get the bodies from the cabins to the on-board mortuary. (I'll spare you the details but it is quite cunning and discreet – and it's also just too sad for the partner and family left behind to see out the rest of the trip).

On the upside, I have never - and I mean ever! - felt so young and vibrant and yes, sexy. I was noticed when I entered a room and let's face it, that wouldn't happen in normal circumstances.

So yes, it was relaxing but my god it did seem to go on for a lot longer than five nights and judging from the passengers we met who were doing 18 nights (some of these cruises can be weeks!!!) we weren't alone. So if you ever wish time would slow down, you now know how!

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

I've Still Got It!

This is the view from my desk at home. Neighbours be warned! I can see everything that's going on in the street and no one can see me. Perfect.

So when a young couple were having an almighty row at my front gate last night, I got to witness the whole thing. She provoked him, he calmed her down - in fact I thought they were going to pash at one point! Then it escalated again and then calmed again. It was a like an elaborate choreographed ritual.

There was shouting and yelling and the occasional small shove but at the point he grabbed her and physically dragged her, screaming, across my line of vision, it was apparent he'd crossed the line.

Sass was next to me and muttering 'I'm scared.' I later found out Elle was cowering in lane way on the way back from the post box - not sure if she should show herself or stay hiding. It did sound viscious.

'Wait here,' I said and marched out to the front porch.
'Mate!' I yelled using my best angry mother voice. 'That is ENOUGH! Let her go.'
He didn't, but he did stop where he was like a rabbit in the headlights and she kept screaming. I think he was shocked.
'Let her go NOW or I'm calling the cops!' (yes - I said 'cops' - but he was acting like a bogan so I responded in kind).
He let her go. And headed up the road to the pub. She ran in the other direction towards the train station with a quick 'thank you' to me over her shoulder.

Ahhhh... the power of the angry mother voice. Still works like a charm on 20-something men!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Cool Tokyo - Part II

Here's some more cool stuff from Tokyo.

Art is  everywhere- even in this underpass. Can you see how far the spike extends down from the ceiling? And check out how those blocks have been laid - gorgeous!

This was in the Ugg Shop. I want one.

Dogs in Santa outfits. Not sure if this is cool or weird but there just so many of them. And everyone ready to have his/her photo taken.


The fact we got to see the Emperor and his crew on one of the two days of the year they make a public appearance. And look how close we were! Despite the tens of thousands of people who needed to pass through security and be issued with a Japanese flag, the whole thing moved like clockwork - and even that was just so cool!

The people you see in the park - just hanging around - and happy to have their photo taken.

The Christmas decorations of the fancy-pants stores.



Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Avicci - the new Milli Vanilli?

Okay - I'll get back to Japan because there is so much more - but a brief diversion; Avicci.

What do you think? I love the album TRUE - it's quite eclectic and some extraordinary talent behind it - but the vocals are often uncredited - it's all Avicci (aka DJ Tim Bergling).  And yet, a Google search reveals that with his hit Wake Me Up, 'I had a demo with Mac Davis singing, the guy who wrote all the Elvis Presley stuff'. I imagine he picked up a few tips from the man who wrote hits like In The Ghetto...

His team also seem to be geniuses in their field - lighting, mixing, tech guy (and I suspect management and marketing).

When he's interviewed, he claims he comes up with an idea and then gets help with lyrics and music arrangement and of course, talent like vocals. He's also said that on stage, he fiddles with the volume - that's pretty much it. He is officially, DJ Magazine's third best DJ in the world and twice been nominated for a Grammy - at 24.

Bundle that up with his new found sobriety due to pancreatic issues, a girlfriend who's very pretty yet very 'normal' and his philanthropic venture (founder of House for Hunger) and it's starting to all sound a little too good to be true.
The girlfriend

But wait - there's more! He's drop-dead gorgeous (in a very boyish way), a model and the face of Ralf Lauren Denim and Supply.

Am I the only one who's suspicious of this juggerunaut? Anyone else smell something cooking here? Something that might be a bit more manufactured than authentic? And the biggest question of all, does it even matter?

The music is great, plenty of talented people are (I assume) being rewarded for their contribution and millions are enjoying the product. Still..... what do you think?

The Moroccan Bath

The girls and I have come up to Dubai for a few days to escape the Melbourne winter. It's in the 40s so we've thawed out - quickly. ...