Sunday, 29 April 2012

The ABC's Juanita Phillips has many male admirers: or at least one that I know of

Spanner has a thing for ABC1's week-nights' newsreader Juanita Phillips. I'm not jealous or anything because Juanita is attractive but not stunning. If she was younger with large breasts and a whiter-than-white smile I'd be a little concerned.

But she's not. She's middle-aged pretty in a nice non-threatening way. (Her eyes are too wide-set but that's an objective observation.)

Spanner thinks she's sexy, which is a comfort.

I ask him: "What's so sexy about a woman with bad dress sense?"

He likes her hyacinth-blue eyes and "the way she delivers the news".

My take: He's got a thing about the girl-next-door who could be a little bit naughty behind closed doors - I reckon he'd like to see the coiffed hair a little tousled.

Lately we've started to discuss Juanita's on-air attire, her lipstick and hairstyles. Sometimes she gets it totally wrong. On Thursday, she wore a buttercup-yellow tailored jacket and a royal blue camisole underneath (who knows what goes on under the desk). The overall effect was awful. The colours clashed and distracted us from our focus on the news of the day - god forbid.

There have been other occasions when Juanita's lippy has been either too red or moist pale pink - laid on with a trowel. And the hair - occasionally it looks like it's lifted from a '70s Cosmo cover.

Personally, I prefer Felicity Davey, who fills in on weekends. She's another attractive blonde but with better taste in clothes. Tonight she wore a grey ensemble. The jacket was satin but Spanner didn't approve. He said it looked like a man's.

You might think I'm being sexist but this isn't the case. Only recently, one of the world's most outspoken feminists Germaine Greer criticised the fashion preferences of Australia's prime minister, who is a woman with a rather odd-shaped rear end.

If Germaine can have a go, so can I.

I'm sure Spanner is not the only bloke to lust over Juanita Phillips. Every weeknight there are men all over Sydney who tune into ABC1 News for a glimpse of those big baby blues.  They get a kick out of her playful throws to the Washington correspondent, authoritative tone and quiet assertiveness.

And now for the weather...

Monday, 23 April 2012

Dig it up! The Hoodoo Gurus play The Enmore with special friends Sunnyboys, Redd Kross, The Sonics, Tek and Younger and more

We warmed up at The Duke
It was a no-swimming Sunday because my peeps and I got sucked into a time warp. We were spat out on  Enmore Road on the Enmore/Newtown border. It was 1981 again. 

Two of my favourite bands in the whole world were on the bill for this unique music festival Dig it up! (The Hoodoo Gurus Invitational).

The Sunnyboys haven't played together (the original lineup) for over 20 years. Un-friggin'-believable how time flies when you're living.

The rumour went around months ago that former lead singer, boy genius Jeremy Oxley, had emerged from a long battle with mental illness, found true love and felt like singing again. (insert small 'wow' here). I'm trying not to cry as I write this because yesterday's re-union of this seminal (and I don't use that word lightly) band was inspiring. The original lineup played - Jeremy Oxley (guitar and vocals) and his brother Peter (bass and vocals), Richard Burgman (guitar) and Bil Bilson (drums).

Yesterday, they performed under the pseudonym Kids in Dust but word had got around and fans turned up in their droves to see the band take to the stage at 3.30pm, after The Fleshtones.

Ms Fivestar and I missed The Hard ons and The Fleshtones (bummer - I heard The Fleshtones were brilliant) but got close to the stage for the Sunnyboys.

What a revelation. Apparently, the band first rehearsed as a unit during their soundcheck - this is after a good 20 years haitus! THEY SOUNDED THE SAME AS THEY DID IN 1981.

It was just like 'back in the day' at The Sydney Trade Union Club, Strawberry Hills Hotel, Paddington Green, and all the other small venues around Sydney that had live music every weekend.

Sunnyboys at The Enmore, April 2012

Peter was nervous for Jeremy but he shouldn't have been

What did they play? Alone with you, Tunnel of love, Let you go, I'm shakin', Show me some discipline, Liar, Happy Man, Trouble in my brain... There were others but I'm still in a post-Sunnyboys haze (excuse for bad memory).

Stayed for most of Deniz Tek and Rob Younger, who pulled out all the Radio Birdman classics. My ears were sore so I retreated to the back for a while. 

Lots of other acts were on the menu, including comedy acts at smaller venues up and down the street. We walked up to the Green Room, one of Sydney's groovy bars, to see Damien Lovelock of Celibate Rifles fame spinning yarns about his youth in the '60s and '70s.

Lovelock has had a wild ride and is one of those people who, I'm sure, wakes up every day and praises those almighty powers that stepped in and dragged him back from the brink by the scruff of his neck. His stories are hilarious in the re-telling but they come (especially the one about the steroid pumped greyhounds at Gosford) from a darker reality.

We went back to The Enmore Theatre to catch Redd Kross. WOWEE. I know several people from the United States read my blog - if you ever get the chance, you must see REDD KROSS. I can only describe them as a mesh of The Ramones, The Buzzcocks and The Hives.   

They play explosive powerpop tunes with a razor-sharp punk texture. I loved them.

Afterwards our group re-grouped and some of us went up the road for dinner to The Sultan's Table - recommended for delicious Turkish cuisine.

Because we were busy eating (something we never thought to do in 1981 when beer and bourbon and coke were the staple diet) we missed Japanese all-girl act at Notes Live. I heard they were pretty ordinary. 

Back at The Enmore it was time for The Sonics. These guys are old (no disrespect intended; they played garage rock in 1963) but they looked fine from a distance! In the flyer for the event, The Sonics are described as "the godfathers of this whole damn mess".

You don't often see a saxophone player in a rock band but there's one in The Sonics and he ripped it up. I enjoyed their set - their songs, which basically flip from blues inspired to unadulterated rock 'n' roll, have been covered by bands such as The Cramps, The Fall and The Black Keys.

Hoodoo Gurus were the final act. What can I say? I used to follow this band around slavishly whenever they played in Sydney.

Hoodoos bathed in green

Last night they were louder and faster - but maybe it was always like that. Brilliant. Super post-punk rock buzzing with clever lyrics, punchy riffs and memorable sing-along choruses.

Dave Faulkner was as exuberant as ever and where there used to be long hair it's now bowling-ball smooth. But that's OK. He still wore paisley, broke a guitar string first up and belted out his songs like a maniac.

Hoodoos bathed in mauvish-pink

I'm not one for nostalgia but this was pure rose-coloured glasses fun. The old hits were churned out including Dig it up, Leilani, Tojo, My girl, Arthur, Bittersweet, I want you back, I was a kamikaze pilot, Let's all turn on, Like wow wipeout and Zanzibar.

By the end, the room was hot and sweaty - and the bloke in front of Little Sister kept on farting (it's an age thing). 

Today I can feel the pain. I've landed with a thud in 2012.

It's raining again in Sydney and the temperature is six degrees above the average for this time of year. I'm sure it wasn't like this in 1981!

So, this is real...

Speak soon...

PS: The festival is on in Melbourne on ANZAC Day, but without Sunnyboys. You'd be mad to miss it!

PPS: Here is the link to the Sunnyboys Fan Club. Sunday's gig was a one-off - Richard Burgman flew back to Canada the day after and the rest of the band members went their own way. The fan club has video from a documentary that is being made to celebrate the Dig it up! event. It is also co-run by my Little Sister and swimming mate Davo:

PPPS: Missed Kim Salmon and Spencer P. Jones - such as shame; wish I could've been in two places at once - working on that one...

Saturday, 21 April 2012

No swims, just walkin' the dog in Hunters Hill and Woolwich

We took le chien for a turn around Hunters Hill, one of Sydney's more salubrious suburbs. 

We sometimes pretend we live there, so Spanner drives the ute a little way down the peninsula and parks on a side street. We hop out, dust ourselves off, and stroll to Woolwich and back. 

Karma gives us away as intruders because she's a bitsa - bit o' this and a bit o' that. We bought her from the pound eight years ago for $230. 

Hunters Hill dogs are strictly purebred or, if not, a trendy combo such as labradoodle, cavadoodle, spoodle or scratchmynoodlewithapplestudel. 

HH dogs are bought from breeders, who charge a fortune for pooches so inbred that they come with a raft of genetic predispositions and health problems that cost their owners a small fortune. But in HH, money's not an issue.

I can't completely blame Karma for outing us. Spanner looks like he's been sleeping rough. On Friday he was wearing a smelly King-Gee shirt, shorts with chlorine holes and thongs*. 

I love Hunters Hill and Woolwich. So does Karma - she gets to sniff dogs she would never hope to meet in our low-brow neck of the woods. 

*Thongs = flip flops. Spanner only wears a g-string** at home.
**G-string = thong   

Thursday, 19 April 2012

A life without hugs

Hug this.
The following is lifted from an email I sent to a friend who is having a hard time and said she was in need of some serious hugs.

My response came from a 'conversation' I had with my youngest daughter, The Hiss, in the car (where all deep and meaningful exchanges take place). My oldest daughter, Precious Princess, was also present to witness this tragic comment on our family's lack of feely-touchy moments and how this has had a lasting impact on The Hiss.

Looking in the rear-vision mirror I gauged PP's response. Imagine eye rolls and the slow disbelieving shake of the head.

This is the content of the email I sent in reply to my friend's hug request. Names have been changed to protect those who are pathetic and melodramatic:

OMG. Hugs. The Hiss was talking about hugs last night. She watched Justin Timberlake's doco and said the band members hugged each other before every gig (I reminded her that Madonna went through a similar ritual before each of her gigs - way before young Justin cottoned on). The Hiss, being The Hiss, added that she was "so jealous". 
Of what? "I'd love to be in Justin's band because then I'd get hugs every night."
I could have throttled her. Is choking a type of hug? I suggested she join a band.
But Writer Girl, your case is different. You are not angling for sympathy because you missed out on a weekend with your cousins down the coast because your choice was to sail.
I am sending off a hug to you now.
Life without hugs.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Our road trip to Mollymook (near Ulladulla) for the Mollymook Ocean Classic

Precious Princess says she wants to do the Mollymook swim on the NSW South Coast. Immediately I'm suspicious. Then I realise PP has the urge to increase her driving hours. She's been on her 'Ls' (learner's permit) for three years and time is running out. L-plate drivers can't sit for their driving test in NSW unless they complete 100 hours behind the wheel with an experienced driver by their side.

The deal is, we share the driving. First mistake. I plonk the NAVMAN on the dashboard. Second mistake, I allow it to take us along a toll road.

Four and a half hours later... we arrive at our destination. Another hour was added to the drive because 1. PP has to sit on 80 km and 2. we take the most circuitous route known to (NAV)man. Mr Navman demands we travel along the freeway towards Canberra - heading south-west rather than south along the coast. He's a bossy bastard and it's too late to turn back so we let him lead us on and on and on.

We hop off at Mittagong in the Southern Highlands and Nav then direct us on to a single-lane back road that runs by the properties of wealthy farmers who can afford painted wooden fences and neatly clipped hedgerows. The road winds, wiggles and wends over hill and dale. We decide to enjoy ourselves and pull into the tourist village of Kangaroo Valley for coffee at nine bucks for two large takeaways! Madness. Sydney prices for Sydney eejits.

We pop back onto the Princes Highway at Nowra and I fang it the rest of the journey. We spot two cop cars on the way down - both when PP is driving sedately. Phew!

Mollymook is waiting for us. The waves are small and the sun is soft on our skin. My sister, Little Sis, brother-in-law, Davo, and two nephews, Little Prince and Astro Boy*, are on the beach.

Every year when we stay at their holiday house for the swim, which is now a family tradition, we do the same excellent stuff.
* Lunch at Pilgrims in Milton. Yum. Mango lassi, ANZAC biscuits, Bliss Burgers with special peanut sauce, banana milkshakes, Mexican burgers.
* Shop in Milton and then drive to our favourite surf shop in Ulladulla - Southern Man - where we buy our surfie gear for the winter so at least we can pretend to be the real thing.

* Swim and a surf before dinner. In my last post you will have noticed the gorgeous pics of the sunset on the beach. There was no wind and no waves. It was the perfect evening.

The next morning we were all nervous, even though the conditions were swimming-pool flat and windless. The silky threads of cloud had drifted away overnight so it was pretty much blue sky.

Mollymook is a typical country swim, where all the punters start together. I'm not good at numbers but I reckon around 200 pelted across the sandbank after the starter gun fired. I don't like sandbanks because often they drop away suddenly. They're potential ankle-breakers so I tip toe until I can do a shallow dive and start to swim. It was 300 metres to the first buoy. The course is shaped like an 'M'. You swim out to the first big orange buoy, into the next orange buoy at the middle of the course, back out to the final orange buoy and then back in at the southern end of the beach.

Unlike other years, where choppy conditions have caused plenty of discomfort, this year I just plodded along and found a few swimmers to pace myself against. I don't know my time yet, but Davo said the course was longer than 2 km. Dunno. 

I was surprised I didn't see one fish during the swim where, for most of the time, the sandy ocean floor is visible. Afterwards, another swimmer told Davo he saw a stingray.

PP came third in her age group but prizes were only awarded to first-place getters. Last year she came third and Little Prince came third in his age group in the 500 m, and they both received a towel. Maybe there's a world towel shortage.

I thought it was a bit rough that they couldn't manage prizes for all placegetters this year, considering it was the swim's 10th anniversary. Davo argued that country surf clubs find it harder to whip up support compared to city clubs but I would've thought it was the other way around. Just a minor gripe - and Little Sister took my side; she's action woman. If Little Sister ran the show EVERYONE would get a bloody prize!

After the swim, it is family tradition to lunch at the Beach Hut. Yum again. A barra burger washed down with a flat white.

Then we stroll back along the beach to have a dip at the northern end.

We drove home last night with Nav packed away in the glove box (so we couldn't hear him scream). It took around three hours.

Today I'm dreaming of the coast, Bliss Burgers and hot chips with salt and vinegar.

*I have replaced the other nickname as I was informed that it means something rather spicy in French! Apologies to Astro Boy, family and casual passers-by who don't give a toss.  

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Mollymook 2012: north to south

The report will come tomorrow but in the meantime, here are some photos of our South Coast adventure which culminated in the Mollymook ocean swim.

North Mollymook

Before the swim: registered and ready at South Mollymook

There was very little surf but surfers are an optimistic lot

Monday, 9 April 2012

Bondi Bluewater Challenge: a beautiful swim and baitfish everywhere!

The usual suspects - before the 1 km swim

Afterwards the clouds blew away and heaven came to Bondi

Mad people who swim a lot
Bait fish can only mean one thing as far as I'm concerned. SHARKS.

I'm not paranoid.  Just ahead of myself - so let me backtrack.

The day got off to a chilly start and I wasn't in the mood for swimming. I'd overdosed on Easter eggs over the weekend; my nose was blocked and I had a mild headache.

Chocolate, they say, is good for you but not when you consume kilograms of the stuff like the world is about to end and this is the last time you will ever taste chocolate before you're zapped out of existence. Once I start, it's impossible to stop. Familiar story? 

Back to the beach.

I rugged up and cruised down to Bondi in Sydney's eastern suburbs on this day, Easter Monday. It was a lovely drive - it's rare to see Sydney traffic-free. Got my usual park and strolled to the surf.

It was also a lovely day but there was a stiff breeze and the clouds blotted out the sun for a while around 9am. The cosy bed I'd left behind was the best option but it was too late. I'd already paid up to swim in both the 1 km and 2.2 km swims and wasn't about to waste $65.

Mr Very Big expects a mention in all my blogs on swimming so I'll get him out of the way now. There. Done.

At the start of the 1 km the Irish bloke with the Irish tan said he was going to "take it easy". Like, whatever. I learned the hard way that this is code for: "I'm gonna swim my milky-pale Irish arse off."

The surf was neat and small, the course straightforward and as I swam out towards the first buoy I spotted a school of mullet. Now, mullet may not be the most appetizing fish (though it's probably one of the most nutritious fish in terms of omega 3 oils) but to witness hundreds of big black fish about 20 cm in length swimming beneath me was a privilege. It was the highlight of the swim.

Afterwards I was buggered but, because a lot of the good swimmers in my age group must be on holidays, I finished in third place. Woo-hoo! The chocolate binge strategy obviously paid off.

I don't know if many people who read/stumble upon this blog have ever been in an ocean swim, let alone the ocean (someone from Libya checked in the other night. My bet is there's not much ocean swimming going on there) so for your enlightenment let me explain how the 2.2 km course looked from the beach.


Before every ocean swim I do I wonder, "How the .... will I manage this?"

That Irish guy with the big feet stood next to me and we both whinged about how tired we were. Then, as soon as the starter horn hooted, he bolted into the deep blue sea like his milky-pale arse was on fire. I followed, albeit with a delicate skip.

Once in, I started to enjoy myself. The water was around 22 degrees and the fish were out in force. Everywhere. Even though it pelted down in Sydney last night and the storm uprooted trees in some suburbs, today the water was clear and I could see the sandy bottom for most of the swim.

Out the back of the break I encountered thousands of bait fish. Deary me. Please don't let there be sharks out here today God. It's Easter Monday, please save me for I am really a nice person who just likes to enjoy my life... etc, etc, as the rant in my head is never-ending.

For me, the most testing part of the swim was getting back in. I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere and wondered if I might have wandered into a rip. I got through it in the end but ended up swimming into a part of the beach occupied by recreational swimmers. I then had to trot along the sand and through to the finish line.

By the time I was back on the sand, the sun was out and the wind had dropped. It was one of those Sydney days you see on postcards. All brilliant blue and golden.

Later, in the surf club I claimed my Bondi SLSC T-shirt for third place in the 1 km event.
The season is almost over and I thought I was over it but next weekend several swims are being held. I usually do Mollymook on the NSW south coast but this year I might have to give it a miss. There's another swim at Coogee on the same day.

Maybe... I'll have to check on that Irish git with the big nose to see if he's entering.

Have a good week. Speak soon.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Good Friday is a time to reflect... but on what?

I hear really truly spiritual people talk and I'm filled with admiration. Some have made huge sacrifices to follow a spiritual path and are confident and committed enough to announce their allegiance (those who do it without forcing their views on anyone else are the ones I most admire). 

Late last year The Hiss and I attended the interfaith service at the Pitt Street Uniting Church in Sydney where we sang Christmas Carols with people from different denominations. I'm talking about religions like Islam, Hinduism, Catholicism, Anglican and probably others. 

In the middle of the service a relative of a woman who had died after a long battle with cancer told her story and lit a candle for her. Then everyone else was invited to light a candle and say a few words about whatever they wanted. I'm a bit of a cynic (understatement) and my first thought was, "Shite, we haven't got all day here people. This will take forever if the whole congregation decides to speak" followed by my own imaginings of how the whole thing would translate into a scene from a sitcom. 

It would be easy to take the piss. But it was my choice to be there and no one was pressuring me to participate. If you're interested, go to

The reason I took The Hiss along was to give her a sense of occasion. It was close to Christmas when the western world goes off its rocker - last minute shopping and trying to squeeze a year into a month - and people forget to care about each other. Sometimes it's important to slow down and consider your place on the planet. 

Which brings me to the ocean. 

At some point over the next two days I hope to get down to the beach. Maybe I'll sit and watch the waves, wonder at their power and magnificence, and offer up a little prayer for humanity, the little fishies in the sea (sharks too) and sentient creatures that walk the Earth. 

Peace be with you.

As-Salamu Alaykum.   

PS: It's the Bondi Bluewater Challenge on Easter Monday, one of the last swims before we head into an Australian winter (after a wet, cool summer).

PPS: I'm in a dilemma because I've been ranting on about caring for creatures on the planet but I just discovered a nest containing thousands of baby spiders on the back verandah. What do I do? My first reaction is to blast the crap out of them with fly spray. Should I let them all live? Should I let one survive, a la Finding Nemo? What would a really truly spiritual person do? 

PPPS: I've shown the spider creche to Precious Princess who thinks I (not she) should decimate them - and on, of all days, Good Friday.

Can't do it. I'll wait until Spanner gets home. 

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Helloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo April

I did promise that I would feature every month of the calendar* my daughter PP received for her 21st birthday from a bunch of young blokes (thank goodness for that) with a combined wicked sense of humour. 

This is Mr April. Unlike Mr March, who radiated fun and frivolity, Mr April captures the essence of the Dark Knight. We're being led into the danger zone with this one. Now you can understand why my mother almost had a heart attack*. "Young people today!"

It's all downhill for the rest of the month.

*See the Calendar Boys post for explanations

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Stanwell Park Ocean Challenge

A Scottish lad with an Irish legend at Stanwell Park
I remember last year at Stanwell Park when a  mother of a wave attempted to brutalise me. After it had done its best, I managed to suck in two seconds of sky before another mother of a mother punched me in the head and took me down for round 2. I thought I was a goner. I think there might have been a round 3 but I've blocked it from memory.

So, dear readers, it was with some trepidation that I signed up for this year's CoalCliff to Stanwell Park massacre. 

I was lucky enough to con Mr Very Big into driving me down the coast and through The Shire to this lovely part of the world. He brought along his beautiful wife, who sat like a bloody saint in the front seat while I squawked over her shoulder for a good hour until we arrived at the beach via a picturesque winding road.

The surf surged in to the shore at a manageable height and with at least 10 seconds between each wave. Time to breathe. 

It was such a beautiful day, and the heat of the sun warmed our backs as we waited for the shuttle bus to take us up and over the hill to CoalCliff. 

CoalCliff has a pretty beach with brown granular sand. It's different from the city beaches, with their fine golden grains. The organisers warned us about avoiding the boulders in the shallows at the swim's start. 

I guess Mr VB and I were a little nervous considering yet another poor bloke was killed by a shark off the Western Australian coast 130 km south of Perth yesterday. His is the fourth shark-related death in WA waters in seven months.

Already the shark haters are screaming out for great white cull. What a bunch of moronic dickheads. 

"Let's teach that f****** shark a lesson."
"Kill his f****** mother, brother, kids, wife... that'll show him."

I digress. 

The shark plane, which resembles Snoopy's Red Baron, flew over just before the swim started. I guess the pilot gave the thumbs up, his red scarf streaming behind him in the wind, because minutes later the first wave was in and racing. 

I was in the last wave (blah). 

The course is supposedly 2.3 km long (it felt longer) and follows the cliffside - hence the name CoalCliff - in a northerly direction before heading back in to the surf club at Stanwell Park.

I started out feeling pretty damn good (might have had something to do with the coffee I'd gulped down earlier).Then Mr VB arrived and we went stroke for stroke for around a kilometre before he peeled off and sprinted away. I was breathing left and had a chance to admire the scenery - cliff mostly - before I started to peter out and asked myself: "Are we there yet?" 

I think Mr VB led me in the wrong direction because I followed him for a while and noticed we were both off course. I'd missed sighting the second-last buoy and had to swim back out to sea to get around it. 

Coming in was a joy compared to last year's swim, except I got stuck in a rip that had me going nowhere. And when I tried to get out I was pulled down the beach and away from the finish. 

I muttered more than a few choice words when I finally made it on to firm sand and then had to run back up the beach to get across the line.  

It was tiring but worth it. Afterwards another swimmer started chatting to me about her awful experience last year - very similar to mine. It was like we were old war veterans sharing stories of struggle, hardship, survival and courage. 

A rare breed indeed.

Next week it's back to Bondi. 

Speak soon.