URGENT

Thursday 28 August 2008

We each got a parcel at work today. In it were three ink stamps and a memo that read:

Due to the increased workload and immediacy of reply that the Department has now to undertake, a new range of self-inking stamps have been developed to assist in the understanding of document urgency.

Please note that there is now a three-tiered system of Importance Identification (II):

II Level 3 (least important): 

 

II Level 2 (quite important): 

 

II Level 1 (most important):

 

If you wish to order additional stamps, please discuss with your Production Manager.

We trust this is of assistance.


Swans vs Cats

Saturday 23 August 2008

I meet my three companions outside the stadium. Two are wearing Swans red and white jackets, scarfs and caps. The third, a Geelong boy by birth, is decked in Cats colours – blue and white. We join the horde of other spectators and flow through the gates and, as luck would have it, are soon separated – two of us entered the wrong bay door. The other two are down by the seats waving frantically, and we’re soon united again.

It is a very cold night. The crowd is mostly in black – warm coats are the go – though there is still a good portion of ‘One-Eyed Red’. Scattered through are also specks of blue, notably a large band stationed behind one of the goal posts.

The siren goes, the game begins, and in 44 seconds the Swans score. A promising start, considering someone had said the Swans were going to be slaughtered. Sure enough, the Cats are soon on the board. The Cats supporters frantically wave their over sized pompoms.

The crowd does its best to encourage the players. A roar travels around the field wherever the action happens to be, like an aural Mexican wave. Unfortunately the match is happening away from us. I’m told it doesn’t matter where you sit; the game is always played on the other side of the field.

Still, that hasn’t stopped my neighbours from joining in. A middle aged woman hugs the fence, her eyes fixed on the game – Come on Sydney! Come on Sydney! Someone yells at the umpire – What game are you watching! Get a new job ‘cos you can’t do that one! An Irishman behind me is also in fine voice – C’mon, do something with it! No, not that! You’re a fookin idiot! A lady a few seats away calls back, “There’s a voice I haven’t heard for a while, we’ve missed you.” The Irishman smiles.

The aroma of satay sauce wafts on the crisp breeze. Down our row two women have just opened their take-away meals and delicately balance the oozing containers on their knees. The smell is equal parts intoxicating and nauseating.

Wait a minute – something happened. Whatever it was the Swans supporters are not happy and the whole oval breaks into uproar. Boooo! The Cats kick another goal and there’s more booing, except for our lone Cat supporter who claps understatedly.

There’s now a sense of desperation in the crowd. The woman on the fence shouts out C’mon Swannies, we know you can do it! Finally, a goal for the Swans! The crowd goes wild – banners fill the sky. The noise is deafening: Sydney! (stomp stomp) Sydney! (stomp stomp) It’s not over yet!

The Band of Blue have become noticeably still, as if they were having their school photo taken. Half-heartedly someone attempts a chant but it doesn’t take on.

But the euphoria doesn’t last long – the Cats score again, and again, and again. At the end of the first quarter the Cats have nearly a double lead on the Swans.

We go to fetch some footy grub. Out in the hallway, little kids in little jerseys punt little balls, while mums take orders for chips and mini pizzas. Pies and beers collected, we return to our seats, but I first stop to chat to a group of ladies, each wrapped in a red and white hand-made quilt. “Our mother made these,” pointing to an old duck knitting away with red wool.

The siren blasts for the beginning of the second quarter. The umpire bounces the ball and it starts all over again.


Can’t Stop the Music

Monday 18 August 2008

A solid part of my childhood memories; though I’m sure I only saw it a couple of times, I have Can’t Stop the Music to blame for a lot of things, and more than a love of disco and tight pants that leave nothing to the imagination.

I last saw this with Melanie in 1996. We got it out for a laugh and the trip down memory lane and spent most of the film in shock that we’d never realised how blatantly gay it was. What were we – blind? A review I read recently describes the film as “a pure delight, and a telling display of how gay culture still managed to celebrate itself under the radar of ’80s conservative watchdogs”. I mean, come on, what village do you think they were referring to – the Smurfs’?

Do we need to run through the story? Basically a fictional account of how the Village People got together. Scattered throughout are some of the campest throw-aways ever said on screen. How can you not love a movie with the line: “Anyone who can swallow two snowballs and a dingdong shouldn’t have any trouble with pride.” Brilliant. I’m also a great fan of the chill pill quip: “Relax. Boogie. Have yourself a good time.”

My favourite scene – the Leatherman before performing for the first time: “Leathermen don’t get nervous!” as he bangs his head against the wall. “Oh yes they do,” says the GI.

Listen to the song Liberation. It’s a gay rights anthem smack in the middle of a family flick. Pity, though, that a song so commanding is reduced to the backing track of some silly slapstick. Perhaps the song was too confronting? Of course watching a group of naked men towel flick each other in a steamy communal shower room is absolutely fine. Society sets some strange rules, and then proceeds to bend them.

Though this film is waaaaaay too long, it’s still a glorious 5/5. No, make that 4/5 – it looses a point for messing with my future expectations. After seeing this film how I longed to meet a construction worker… and when I finally did I was oh so bitterly disappointed.


Socks

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Getting dressed this morning, made the routine trip to the sock drawer. Now, I like coloured socks, red’s a preference, but on opening the drawer there was only a pair of bright green socks, a small handful of old black socks from my ancient waiter days and one lone orange sock that has long lost its partner. I just haven’t the heart to throw it out, and live in hope that its other will eventually show up. Perhaps that orange sock is us, I muse, perhaps we all believe that our mate will one day come.

Not really a bright green day (I’ve save them for Friday) so I settle for the least tatty-looking of the black socks. Sitting on the edge of the bed, as I unravel the socks, low and behold a flash of orange! The laundromat must have rolled together two odd socks oh so many washes ago! My orange socks had once again found each other and I skipped to work with the knowledge my feet were covered with the happiest socks in the world.

And, to think, they were there together, side by side, in the drawer all this time and never knew…


Ashley

Saturday 9 August 2008

Aaron has bought an apartment; he moved in about a month ago. I’ve also just bought an apartment, but I’ve been living in mine for years; the landlord wanted to sell. Presently renovating is a subject close to my heart, but I get the sense that Aaron’s tired of the whole thing.

I had hoped to meet at his place and perhaps catch him caressing his newly painted walls, but we settle for the pub instead. We chat for a while about his work, before moving on to other matters.

“At the moment,” he says, “I’ve mostly concentrated on building a home. It’s getting there, bit by bit.” He sips at his orange juice. “I’ve had to come to the realisation that you’ve got this great image but you’re not going to get it immediately unless you have copious amounts of money. It’s going to be a slow process, but that’s fine.”

This is the first time Aaron has owned, he had only ever rented. I ask if he has a list of his local tradesmen. He smiles impishly. “I do need a good plumbing.” “Yes,” I reply, “but what about the apartment?”

The smile fades as he sighs. He picks at the bowl of peanuts. “I really have no idea, but I do need to get a plumber to change a washer. I should know how to change a washer.”

I’m surprised that he feels daunted by a washer, especially knowing that he had spent weeks stripping and painting the walls before moving in. “First time I’ve ever painted, I don’t think I’ll do it again. I started off thinking, yeah, this is great fun, but then, uh, it’s a bit boring really.” He looks drained at the thought. I don’t think it was an enjoyable experience, more a task that had to be done.

I ask about the colour, and for the first time he brightens. “I call it White and White, where people who actually have a style gene call it Raw Cotton and Quarter Raw Cotton. Apparently there’s a difference.

“I was in a very petulant mood when I got taken to look at colours. I had two friends going, well, what about this one?  And I was, yeah that’ll do.” He pauses for a moment before displaying a grin. “I was being really annoying. I kept saying I wanted ‘Minimalist with Warmth’. They were choosing creams with ‘yellow undertones’ and ‘brown undertones’, but to me it was all white.

“Then I saw Morning Smurf, which is a lovely blue, so I latched on to that knowing it would look hideous.” He laughs mischievously. “And that annoyed the crap out of them.”

What about a feature wall? He nods. “They did. They ended up doing a wall in the Raw Cotton instead of the Quarter. So there is a feature wall.” He pauses. “I can’t notice, but.”

He becomes serious again. “You do things, you become aware. For instance, in the common area if there was junk mail I used to ignore it, but now I think, ‘this is part of my home,’ so I put it in the bin. But you think, every single thing now is yours, so it’s your responsibly. It’s a bit daunting at times.”

We’ve run out of peanuts so I take this as my cue to go get some more. We change the subject.

As we are leaving, I mention how I had wanted to meet at his place and watch him stroking his walls. He laughs. “No,” he says, putting on his coat, “I’m afraid I’m not that affectionate about walls.”


Soup

Tuesday 5 August 2008

I’m going through a soup phase, I’m not sure why. It could be the weather – it is winter. Perhaps it’s the ease of being able to take a little container out of the freezer ever night and pop in the microwave? With consideration, I think it’s got a lot to do with now being the proud owner of a mortgage, knowing that money is going to be tight, soup is relatively cheap, and I’ll be needing a log of nourishing meals available so I’m not persuaded to stop by Oportos on my way home. Rereading that, take a little from each column and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of parsley.

My repertoire so far includes: pea and ham; curried lentil; Thai pumpkin; roast pumpkin (big difference); Greek chicken and lemon (though no good for freezing); leek and potato; cauliflower; and spicy chickpea and chorizo. I also do a mean gazpacho, but that’s more a summer dish. Today, as an act of procrastination (I should be paint-stripping the walls), I’m trying something new – chicken and couscous. I got the recipe from the IGA website.

Wandering around my local Coles I stick mostly to only what’s on the shopping list. I didn’t really need the peanut butter, except a home without peanut butter is merely a house, but the soft drink was pure luxury. I put it on the bottom rack of my trolley along with the bread rolls and green shopping bags. Funny, but the soft drink must have known it was not a necessity; by the time I got to the checkout it had disappeared. Somewhere amongst the fruit and vegetables is bottle of cola rolling for freedom.

At the counter, I lift up the heavy basket and get ready the green bags. The cashier must have been new. I guess this when he started placing all the groceries into plastic bags. “No,” I said, “I have green bags.” “But you have a lot,” he argues. “I’ll cope,” I tell him, and with a “you’re-the-customer” shrug, he unpacks his bags so I can pack up mine.

Near the end of the order, the cashier pulls something out of the basket and shows it to me. “What’s this?” he asks. “Celery,” I said. This didn’t seem right to him so he leans to the checkout next door and asks again. “Celery,” his colleague tells him. Happy now he rings it up, but again he takes something from the basket. “What’s this?” he asks again. “Leek,” I explain slowly.

Home, putting the items away, I scan the receipt. I was right – the checkout man was new, if not to Coles, then definitely to vegetables. For the zucchini he’s charged me for a cucumber.

The chicken and couscous soup, though, was delicious. I’m adding it to the list.

 

Chicken and Couscous Soup

Makes 2.5 litres

  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 500g sliced chicken thighs
  • 1 sliced leek
  • 2 grated carrots
  • 1 large grated zucchini (or 2 medium)
  • 2 thinly sliced celery stick
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 400g tin crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 litres chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup couscous
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley

Heat the oil in large non-stick saucepan.

Cook the chicken in two batches. Remove and set aside.

Into the same pot, add the leek, carrots, zucchini, celery and crushed garlic, and cook for 5min, or until the vegetables have softened.

Return chicken to pan with the sweet chilli sauce, tomatoes and chicken stock. Bring to boil, then simmer 15min.

Add the couscous and chopped parsley, and simmer for a further 5min or until couscous is tender, stirring occasionally so the couscous doesn’t stick.