There a certain certainties in life. Things that give you a sense of well being. That all is right with the world and that the sun will rise on the morrow. Those things may be good or they may be bad. But they are.
Politicians will always screw you. The homeless will always congregate at Woolloomooloo under the overpass near the cop shop. Things that taste bad are good and vice versa. And no matter where you are on the planet there will be more cafes and hairdressers than local population.
Cafes and hairdressers are a yin and yang sort of thing. They are the glue in shopping centres that hold the other establishments in place so they don't slip into black holes or crumble to rubble unsupported by the glue of society. Yet science has a way of being a constant in so many areas that when the rules change and difference stares wryly in the face of the disbelieving, evangelists take up the slack with explanations of the ineffable.
Northbridge is such a vacuum.
On Sunday before I decided to make like a lamb roast, I hied myself to the local shopping plaza with thoughts of breakfast and grooming. I had started to look something like the love child of a hippie and a Cistercian monk, and having previously lived in an area where the mall was large enough to be seen from space, I was unprepared for what awaited me.
Northbridge has one hairdresser and one cafe.
That's right, take a deep breath, relax, sit down before you fall down and read it again.
Northbridge has one hairdresser and one cafe.
A temporal and spatial void hidden in Australia's largest city. I felt as though I had moved to another planet. Then it struck me. Northbridge only has one pub as well. Not so much another planet as another dimension then.
I walked into the hairdresser. (As usual they talked to the moustache. I suppose it's a little like men talking to women's breasts). I am used to hairdressers that say, "Sure, about fifteen minutes". They postulated that July may have an opening. I backed out feeling the shift of time and space around me. I staggered to the cafe. It was full. I waited and finally wedged myself in between two people who seemed to be reading bed sheets with news printed on them. They peered at me with a knowing smile all the time I ate my breakfast.
I was determined to remain undefeated. I got into the car and drove to the Greenwood Plaza in North Sydney, five minutes away. "Surely", I said to myself "they will have hairdressers galore". The whole shopping centre was closed as it apparently is on a Sunday. I resisted the urge to go to the cinema and see if Star Wars had just been released, or to Birchgrove to see if I had been counted a truant from primary school. I didn't seem to be wearing flares so the decade seemed to be the right one.
I almost drove over the bridge into the city to see what I would find, but fear sent me home to do penance in the garden.
Mrs A. said something the other day about fixing my little red
wagon. Never mind why. I've heard the expression bandied about, mainly
via Daffy Duck cartoons, but where did it come from and what the hell
does it mean?
What happened to my little red wagon that it needs fixing? Am I
insured? Should I take the insurance payout and upgrade to a blue wagon
with less mileage? What possessed me to own a little red wagon in the
And while we're on the subject, what about other sayings?
If I'm happy as Larry, and Larry is having a bad day, is there some
unspoken agreement that I have to be cranky just cause he is? Who is
Larry, and why is he the benchmark of feelings of joy and goodwill?
What if Larry and I don't get on? Can I be as happy as someone with
whom I have something in common?
Going off like a frog in a sock. Not so mainstream perhaps, but one
of Mrs A's favourites. What other amphibians would suit other types of
hosiery to describe something similar. Is it a local saying? Do the
French go off like grenouille dan le chaussette?
And why are pigs so happy in mud. Well I suppose that's obvious, but
why the comparison. Why not as happy as a nerd in Tandy, or a woman in
a shoe store?
Sober as a Judge. Not bloody likely. Pissed as a parrot. When have
you truly seen a member of the family pasittacidae with a beer in its
Tickled pink. I have spent many a time tickling nieces and godson, hoping for a change in colour to no avail. Well maybe blue.
What expressions mean nothing to you? What expressions need to be
brought into the 21st century? Updated to suit our modern lifestyles.
See you round like a record. Sorry, C.D. Sorry MP3. I'm lost.
When you live in a country all your life you get to know the dangers it presents. Australians are famous for keeping a weather eye on everything from the tiniest spider to the biggest croc. But we still merrily wonder around soaking up the sun as if we were wrapped in leather.
Having lived in an apartment for the last three years, after giving up nearly half an acre in the blue mountains, I have been relishing the chance to sink my hands back in the soil in my new garden. It needs a LOT of work, but that's what I love to do. If I wasn't hog tied to the family business I'd buy a gardening franchise and spend my days outdoors listening to the sweet sound of a two stroke engine.
Sunday was the first day that I had nothing left to do in the house. I had bought myself a new mower, resurrected my whipper snipper, and sharpened all the shears. I pulled on some shorts, my work boots with those natty little cloth and elastic gaiters to keep the grass out, a singlet and an Akubra. I gave some vague thought to hunting for the sunblock, but it ended up slipping my mind. For nigh on eight hours I shaped hedges, edged lawns, pruned bushes, cut dead wood and mowed in blazing 35 odd degree heat. Then I spent an hour loading the ute and tying down all the rubbish and empty boxes from the move.
When Mrs A. got home from work I had started to glow in the shade. By nightfall anything I sat on spontaneously combusted. A mote of dust landing on my back sent shivers of pain through me. I have gone through nearly two bottles of aloe vera and had next to no sleep. I even had yesterday off work.
We just bought a new mattress. It was apparently developed by NASA, although why they have boldly moved into the field of bedding I have no idea. The delivery shuttle left the front lawn in an unholy mess too.
Shopping for mattresses is peculiar. Lying down in the middle of a shop with people walking around really doesn't replicate the feeling of lying on your bed at home. You are supposed to be able to make a decision based on thirty seconds of lying on your back without a pillow, rather than six to eight hours trying to get comfy, kicking off the quilt, getting up for a glass of water, and wondering if the sound you just heard was the cats or a knife wielding maniac coming in the living room window.
A sales woman came up and said, "Testing out the beds huh"?
"No", I said. "We're homeless".
So on Wednesday it came. I resigned myself to weeks of adjusting to it. Having no sleep and booking myself in for major chiropractic work.
Then I went to bed.
Slowly the mattress adjusted to the contours of my body. It sang me a lullaby. It stroked my forehead and opened the window to let in the cool night breeze. Mrs A. sat on her side and I felt not a thing. If it was a knife wielding maniac coming through the window to attack her I would be none the wiser for the lack of "partner disturbance" (as the brochure describes it) on my side of the bed.
I wonder if it has a "partner disturbance" anti snore attachment available as an optional extra.
All my life I've been a nail biter. But for some reason I've stopped. Cold turkey. And I didn't even mean to. Maybe it's all the moving and unpacking which we are still doing. It was never a particularly good habit given that I work in a greasy dirty factory.
With new fingernails comes new knowledge. Firstly, nail clippers are harder to use properly than unicycles. Achieving the right angle and the right amount of cut is nigh on impossible the first time. Laugh if you will. You've had a lifetime of experience.
Secondly, people who file their nails have stumbled upon an ancient Chinese form of torture. Mrs A. filing her own sorry excuses for finger armour offered to do mine. The horrible rasping vibrations up my fingers made me beg for the release of sweet sweet death.
Thirdly, fingernails get stuff under them. Especially when working in the aforementioned greasy dirty factory. Leaving the zoo the other day I was stopped and charged with attempting to smuggle three carpet pythons and a herd of wildebeest all hidden under my pinky nail. I didn't even know they were there.
Lastly, they are dangerous. Poking a niece in the ribs can require stitches, and carelessly scratching in the shower....well I've never had any urge to join a choir at the high end of the vocal scale. And let's leave nose picking right out.
My mate, the BFG and family, came over for a BBQ and to help with some furniture placement at the new place on Saturday. He had gone looking for our house on Google Earth and noticed something strange at the corner shop down the road.
I've decided that the people who run the cafe or the bottle shop are actually aliens, placed on earth to research our ways, ply us with caffeine or alcohol, and transmit the results back to their own planet. As they are just across the road from the golf club they are probably going to send pictures of my slice across the galaxy where it will be studied should it prove useful as a defensive fighting manoeuvre if they decide to begin their earthly domination on the first tee.
Nana has agreed to knit me a balaclava with built in moustache snood so that I can reconnoitre and provide counter intelligence to their evil plans.
Then again, if they're in the bottle shop they can't be all bad.
Anyone out there use wireless Internet? Mrs A. and I are thinking that as we have good mobile phone deals a land line is a waste of money. But that obviously stops the ADSL connection. I have heard horror stories of people finding your signal and sitting outside your house downloading all sorts of illegal stuff which then gets pinned on you, but I have no idea if that is actually true. I would assume that the security that comes with the package would be adequate to prevent this?
I took Wednesday off to move. And then Thursday. The weekend will be unpacking and collapsing, before more unpacking. When I was younger and better looking I would generally hire a truck and get some mates over to move my three milk crates and fridge, but now we have so much crap I decided to hire a removalist for the big stuff and just do the easy stuff myself. I rang removalists until I found one that spoke passable English and didn't sound as if he was making a drug deal. I assumed that all removalists are consummate professionals with large trucks, burly employees and the customers' antique furniture foremost in their thoughts. Moving from a first floor apartment with no lift to a house that stands slightly less than three thousand feet above street level should have been a piece of cake for them.
Then he turned up.
Pulling a shopping trolley on a bicycle.
That had flat tyres.
Ok, so that's a little bit of poetic licence, but the truck was as small and old as he was.
I spin you no poetic licence when I say that one of the first things he asked was our star signs.
I don't remember his remark to Mrs A. about her Taurean traits. I was too surprised. When I answered Gemini, he pointed out the whole twins/split personality thing and asked which personality I was today.
I tried to answer whilst mentally working out the best place to dump his body, and whether to do it before or after we had used his Tonka truck.
He merrily gave me the shits with everything he said and did for the next 8 hours or so, and even Mrs A. told him to shut up and do what he was being paid for more than once.
He spoke a lot about his belief in reincarnation and having a happy soul. Of clean living in mind and spirit. Then he had a piece of fruit cake, a cup of coffee and a cigarette for lunch.
He gave me his business card so that I could pass it on to friends. I spent Wednesday night exhausted on the couch sticking pins through it.