122 Sleeps ’til Christmas

What sort of twat says something like ‘only 122 sleeps until Christmas’? That’s 4 months away. And they’re starting to pull out the Christmas trees and decorations…for fuck’s sake!

122 sleeps

It’s 122 sleeps ’til Christmas
and they’re putting out the trees
stocking shelves with decorations
starting all the Christmas sleaze

The grump in in me is most offended
It’s still not yet September
and now they try to manufacture
an extended yuletide to remember

Destroy the magic, dull the pleasure
take away anticpation
exhaust accounts, dilute the meaning
in crass commercial exploitation

So forgive me if I’m not excited
pawing through your sparkling wares
getting on your gravy train
all wrapped in glitter and despair


I went to Melbourne recently…I wanted to have to fun, I really did. Everybody, well alright, a lot of people, told me that I would enjoy myself, contrary to my experience some 19 years ago.

I didn’t. It just made me grumpy.

I enjoyed the first half-day, but then it all became grey. The buildings were grey (with the exception of Flinders Street Station), the sky was grey, the so-called iconic Federation Square was grey (both inside and out – why do they paint inner walls grey? It’s so dull and depressing) and looked like it had been designed by plastic cut-out method…it looked cheap and unimpressive.

I went to the gallery there. There were good paintings, classic paintings, and very bad paintings, all packaged up in an energy sapping grey environment. Why so much grey? So I went to Southbank – there’s nothing there except for a few cafes and restaurants, the type of which you can find anywhere in the world – and guess what…it’s also very grey. There were so few patches of grass that the grass outside the library was so full of people that you would have book a space…perhaps it’s different when the footy’s on…I don’t know.

I could have gone and done a tour of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, I was told. But why do that if there’s nothing happening…it sounds dull (and I am a huge cricket fan). An empty sports stadium is like a morgue, a ruin that has been left to rot. It exists to be used, not stared at.

I did like the small cafe’s, but there’s only so much coffee that you can drink. And they are in small alleys which are quaint, but they don’t let in any sun – how dull is that?

The music scene is good in Melbourne. I enjoyed a couple of evenings out – but it’s also good in Adelaide which is heaps less claustrophobic than Melbourne and a much more pleasant place. There were also some good bookshops…but there are in most cities.

I went to St Kilda and had a pleasant lunch on the pier, looking back at what could not do anything but remind me of a beaten up and out of season English seaside resort that had seen better days. And in the distance the city looked grey.

Basically, unless you are into shopping Melbourne fades into an insipid grey mist that threatens to swallow your soul. It’s not a place to visit, but perhaps if you lived there (and could put up with the weather) the nightlife would make for the greyness…I’m not convinced.

It was recently rated by the Economists Intelligence Unit (hardly a badge of pride considering what economists have done to the world) the most liveable city in the world…except for its climate (can’t disagree with that), its culture (I suppose it is as cultural as any Australian city can be), and the petty crime (not a ringing endorsement).

My apologies to Melbournites, but perhaps me and Melbourne are destined not to be friends…I’m not sure why it grates so much with me (the greyness maybe), but, in short, I was happy to get on a plane to head back west to sit on a good beach and soak up the sun. Yay.

Administrations’s Curse

The late, great Philip Larkin wrote This Be the Verse and he inspired this grumpy rant against administrators

(Adapted from ‘This Be The Verse’ by Phillip Larkin)

They fuck you up, administrators,
They don’t mean to but they do,
And while you’re drowning in your work,
They add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By administrators in the past,
Who devised the systems now in use,
And whose evil spell was long since cast.

Admin hands on misery to man,
It makes working life a hell,
Because no matter what you try to fix,
It’ll fuck that up, as well.

Four-Wheel Drive (SUVs) in the City

Finally, I’m grumpy enough to post again… on the subject of four-wheel drives. I need to get something off my chest.

Why are there so many of these four-wheel drives in the city? What is the chance of getting bogged on the school-run? Come pick-up time at many suburban schools in Perth, and I’m sure other cities too, there is a queue of these cars. I’ve seen them at traffic lights, ten in a row, all full of school kids and never to be allowed to claim their birthright of actual four-wheel driving. Is this really what they are for? Sadly it seems that the answer is, yes. Did you know that over in Brisbane some guy even sold fake mud to splatter your vehicle with so that it looked like you’d been out bush? I’m serious about that. It is how shallow and desperate some of these people are.
And yet another thing!

These vehicles are stacked full of electronics and fancy gadgets, most which wouldn’t survive six months of real exploration work. Can you imagine the conversation when you break down half way across the Tanami Desert?
Technician: ‘Hi there. How can I help you?’
Field Assistant: ‘I’ve broken down and I want some advice on how to fix my engine.’
Technician: ‘I’m afraid you need a powerful laptop computer and an advanced degree in electronic engineering before you should even open the bonnet. I should also advise you that if you fiddle around with it you’ll lose your warrantee cover. You should take it to your nearest licensed repairer.’
Field Assistant: ‘But I’m in the middle of the Tanami Desert doing gold exploration!’
Technician: ‘Why on earth did you take it out there? They’re very fragile things you know, what with all the delicate electronics.’
Field Assistant: ‘Well, it’s a four-wheel drive isn’t it? Isn’t that what they’re for?’
Technician: ‘Good heavens no! Nobody even engages the four-wheel drive anymore. I don’t think they even include it; they just put the markings on the gear stick as a sort of status symbol. I thought everybody knew that.’

I am comforted that manufactures still make off-road vehicles for functional purposes, such as exploration and mining, which are simple ‘nothing-much-to-go-wrong’ models. And just a word of advice to all those reading who have a four-wheel drive – you really don’t need to use the four-wheel drive function very often at all, unless you’re in a job that takes you off-road. Even most dirt tracks and unsealed roads don’t need it; the school-run certainly doesn’t need it. You may need a large car if you have to pull a very large boat or caravan, but it doesn’t have to be a four-wheel drive. But I repeat; it is not necessary for the school run.

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