Sunday, 27 September 2015

Bucket List

I had a first yesterday - a tick that box moment. But it hadn't actually been on my bucket list.

I don't think I have the words to describe the emotional sensation of a late Friday afternoon, sun shining after months of cold and a hectic week, an appointment to have drinks with my sisters-in-laws, picking up my bag and car keys, thinking about where I'd parked - and remembering it was in a space that became a clearway half an hour earlier.


I flew down the stairs, out the door and looked up the street. As expected, my car was gone.

I'd been towed.

Goddammit! I was due at drinks in 30 minutes. I didn't even know who to call.

My friend Katie popped out from the shop our office is above to give me a consoling hug.

Oh well, I said. I had been trying to work out what to do with my car tonight - should I drive to drinks? Go home and see if Geoff could drop me off? Dilemma resolved! I'd Uber.

Our gorgeous account coordinator found the number for me and I called to discover I could collect it before 9pm or today before 1pm. Too easy!

And I was less than 10 minutes late to drinks.

Less cool was the $334 I had to pay to get it out of the pound. Still, I paid $64 for less than 3 hours parking in Sydeey last Friday - so by the hour I guess it was better value than that!

Just for the record, I did ask the guy at the pound how many get towed a day. 90 on a good day, he said. (Yes, that is a hair over $30k). What's a bad day, I asked. 60. I laughed! Good and bad for who?!! And yes, the city is the main location cars are towed from followed by.... Malvern!

I am seriously thinking I should give up this car caper and just ride a bike. Although I'm pretty crap at that and scared of the traffic :(

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

The ol' backhanded compliment.

Coffee on Sunday morning with the ladies I row with and the conversation turned to the backhanded compliment.

I relayed that at my son George's funeral, we showed a video that included quite a few pictures of him as a baby and of course, I was in a lot of them - 20 years younger. Afterwards, someone (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty) came up and said
Gee, MWW! You were actually quite attractive when you were young.

Wow. Where to start with that one, eh? Let's break that down shall we?

  • 'were' - so definitely not at all now
  • 'actually' - because it was clearly such a shock
  • 'quite' - so not really a lot, just a little bit
  • 'were young' - because now you're old
Some suggested the occasion was also a bit of a whammy - but actually, that was the one part that didn't bother me.

So, back to Sunday.

After rowing, we headed up to the Yarra Valley to meet my uncle at a winery for lunch. We also took an older friend (I can say that as she's about Mum's age). OF (older friend) is a tall, elegant woman with terrific posture, but in some fumbled attempt to pay me a compliment she said something along the lines of 'slightly overweight middle aged women attract more attention because they...... ooze femininity.' It wasn't quite that succinct and there was a lot of hesitating around the words 'slightly' and 'overweight' which actually made it worse.

Anyhoo - it's now Tuesday and that one is still smarting.

Anyone ever paid you the old backhanded complement? Or as I am now dubbing it, the full frontal insult??

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Kids in trouble.

The boarding school I went to is in trouble. Big trouble.

There were things that were going on before, during and after I was there that are heinous and now, along with many other institutions, it's all being exposed as part of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Dad asked me on the weekend if I knew any of the named staff, accused of, and in many cases charged with, paedophilia. In fact, one was my English teacher. Many others are also familiar.

I was recently recounting to some friends how when I was at school in the early 80s, serving students alcohol at a Sunday lunch or Saturday night dinner with a house or head master was just what happened. I know some of the boys were regularly offered alcohol by masters and tutors in the privacy of their study. And I distinctly recall cask wine being freely available to all who attended an evening woodwork exhibition. My, how things have changed.

Dad said there were paedophiles at his boarding school too, back in the mid 1940s, and we agreed that the exposure of events was a good thing.

There are those who hanker for a time gone by, when things were simpler and everyone was trustworthy - the police, the government, the church. But in truth, that's a fantasy. I subscribe to the idea that knowledge is power and being alert to what can happen is the better option.

The school is handling this crisis well. They probably have a good PR agency advising them on crisis management, but they're keeping up regular and frank communication, encouraging past students to speak to the Commission as well as offering free counselling.

I feel physically sick hearing of the helplessness of so many of the children, now adults, who have told their stories of being repeatedly subjected to cruel and predatory behaviour by those in authority. Not just at my school, but all of those institutions and varying government and religious persuasions  across the nation.

I was even more sickened to hear on the radio a couple of weeks ago, that there had been 46 reports of abuse of children in care in the preceding two weeks, here in Victoria. Yep, 46.

So it's not just a painful history, it's an everyday reality. To quote the Commissioner; 'There's still a lot of very sad children out there.'

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Lost and Found

Sass and I popped down to the Post Office about 9.15 yesterday morning. On the way back, we spotted a couple of small boys, about 2 and 3, on push-along toys on the other side of busy Malvern Road.

Where's their mum? Sass asked.
I'm sure they're with someone, I said.

But on a scan on the vicinity, it was clear they were not. We crossed over to investigate.

Not this kid but about this age.

Where's your Mum? I asked.
Is someone with you?
Still nothing.

It was about then I noticed they were both naked from the waist down and only had long sleeved Ts or pyjama tops on. Ah-ha! Clearly, they'd abandoned their nappies and made a run for it as no parent would take babies out in weather of about 8 degrees with no pants and no shoes. Hmmmm.

Where do you live? Do you know where you live?
The older one gave up his street name. I'd thought they must be just a few houses away but boy - they had travelled some distance!

Sass and I started herding them back in the right direction. On the way up a quieter side street, I noticed we'd attracted the attention of an older couple.
We saw those boys, they said. We didn't know where they came from. Do you know where they live?

Seriously, this is the most gob-smacking part of the story. Yes, kids escape - it happens. But if you had seen two very small boys heading towards a busy, major road with trams and trucks and cars, would it not have occurred to you to stop them?? We'd found them a block away from this point and at any time they could have decided to roll out to cross over. Unbelievable.

No, I said. But we have a street name so we'll find it.

By this stage, the older one had warmed up and we got his and his brother's names. We even got a street number a little later. I had to carry the little one as we were moving quickly and his legs were tired - not to mention his feet bare and his bottom cold.

Eventually, we go them home where their mum had apparently gone to the gym, an older brother was asleep on the couch and dad in bed. They'd not even been missed - which might have been a good thing as no doubt panic would have ensued. So all ended well, but it might not have....

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. ...