Lotto

Wednesday 29 July 2009

Went to the newsagent today. I’d already bought the thank you cards to send to my Perthian house-hosts (found a bright chirpy card and to save me the bother of finding another one and on deciding which house-host gets which, I just two of them) and wanted to include a token of gratitude in the form of a scratchie or a raffle ticket or something like that; Boys Town entry, that sort of thing. So, I went to the newsagent today to buy two lotto tickets.

“Hello,” said the woman behind the specially designed counter. Her complexion sparkled in the reflection of the metallic finished row of scratchies that separated her from me.

“Hi,” I replied. “Can you tell me is Oz Lotto a national lotto?” She tore off the top sheet from a pad and handed it across. The sheet listed the cost of each entry and the amounts of each division. At the very bottom, in an unassuming box, was advice on where to go if you think that gambling was a problem. Across the top, though, was the sentence: Oz Lotto is a national lotto. So that sounded promising. I went back to the counter.

“It says here that Oz Lotto is a national lotto. Do you know if that means if I was to send to this somewhere else in Australia, like Perth, that they can use it?” The woman replied that that was correct.

“Ok then,” I said happily, “How much is a standard ticket?”

“Well,” she said pointing at the table on the sheet, “You can get just one box or up to 24.”

“Yes but what’s a standard sheet?” It’s been a long time since I’ve bought a lotto ticket but I do remember that there was a typical sized sheet that you could order, eight or twelve boxes, something like that.

“Well,” the woman said again, “You can buy just one box but most people buy a sheet of 24 ‘cos that best improves their chances.”

“That’s good, but what’s a standard sheet?” I asked again.

“Well,” she said a third time, “You can buy one box or a sheet of 24.”

“Just give me two sheets of 24,” I eventually said with a sigh.

She asked me to come around to another counter so I could enter my Eftpos details. I hand over my card for her to swipe and I type in my password. A few moments later the woman hands over my card and two lotto sheets, then tears off the receipt.

“Oh,” the woman now says passing me my receipt, “They won’t be able to check them anywhere else in Australia, you know, ‘cos each lotto machine in each state is different. But I suppose they could check the numbers online. Good luck.”

With a grimace, and fighting the urge to punch her irritatingly sniffy little nose, I crawled out the store and back to work.

–+–

PS: I never got around to sending the tickets. Good thing in the long run – neither of them won anything. I posted book vouchers instead.

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Less Sleaze – Week 10

Saturday 25 July 2009

I had an epiphany while I was in Perth. I really wanted the caramel slice but they’d sold out. I always thought that an epiphany was a sudden revelation or insight; who knew that it’s actually a strawberry and lemon tart? Hang on, I’m going to look this up… I was right! An epiphany is a sudden revelation or insight. Those crazy Western Australianers! Still, now that I think about it, I was having lunch at the Koorong Cafe.

Let me start this again.

I had an epiphany (Actually, I don’t like that word anymore) a realisation when I was in Perth. Standing on Mark and John’s bathroom scales trying to work out how much the weight of my luggage had grown, I was alarmed to discover that my weight had also grown: I had now hit the disturbing 90kg! I shouldn’t have been as surprised. My belt had slowly crept out two notches over the last month; I had eaten most magnificently well on my holiday (the memory of the osso bucco still brings my taste buds to a gastronomic standstill); and, most telling, I have drunk both plenty and often. But it wasn’t till I saw that number that I started to feel concerned.

It doesn’t help that I’m pretty much the same shape as my Dah. Not that that’s a problem (that’s genes for you) but a couple of years ago he underwent coronary artery triple (I mean a single bypass is bad enough but triple?) bypass surgery, just before his 30th wedding anniversary. From what I remember his arteries has calcified so badly that he was starting to suffer minor frequent heart attacks due to the lack of blood flow. I’m very glad to say that he was a perfect textbook case and recovery and, besides now having to watch his diet and take tablets and that sort of thing, he’s in the peak of health.

While Dah doesn’t drink (in his youth, yes, but not from his 30’s on), he and I both very much like our tucker, and lots of it. But while my total weekly exercise is walking to and from the photocopier at work and the pub on weekends, Dah has always been somewhat active… admittedly lawn bowls might not be as enduring as the Tour de France but at least it gets you out in the sun.

The point is that standing on that shiny set of scales on my last day in Perth made me realise that if I’m not careful I am very much on my way to my own bypass surgical experience, and that is something I would very much rather not have.

So what am I going to do about it?

The answer is, I don’t really know, and knowing my previous attempts at developing a healthy lifestyle (I hate that word), probably not much at all. I always seem to dive straight in with gym and pool visits or nightly jogging and after a week exhaust myself back to a indolent attitude. The problems is exercise bores me, I like me booze, and food just tastes too nice not to pile your plate up high.

But what I hope to do is make some small changes, become just that little bit more aware of what I’m eating and drinking and how much I’m moving, and hopefully these tiny actions will over the next couple of months become second nature to me.

On Sunday Beautiful Creature told me he had purchase us Sleaze Ball tickets. Sleaze is the annual fancy dress fund raiser run by Mardi Gras, and is held the NSW Labour Day long weekend – this year Saturday 3 October. That means in 10 weeks time.

So over the next 10 weeks I intend to get myself back to a sensible weight. I’m planning on a healthy 1 kilo a week loss to return to a weight of 80kg; let’s try for that for now. One kilo a week over 10 weeks, I should be able to do that. If I had a “goal weight” it would be 75kg as that’s what I was for pretty much my entire adult life before I got a desk job, but let’s aim for 80kg for now.

On Thursday I purchased myself a set of electronic scales and set them up prominently in the bathroom, just by the loo (or brasco), and gave them a quick try out. The problem was that every time I weighed myself I was a slightly different weight being anything from 87.8 to 89.6kg, but on the bright side at least I was back under the dreaded 90.

The plan is this: To eat and drink sensbily and do a little bit of exercise, even if just walking home from work, then every Saturday for the next 10 weeks, till Sleaze, weigh myself and see how I’ve gone. So let me go get on the scales…

First go: 87.6kg. Fifteen minutes later, after having a wee, I weigh myself again: 87.3kg. I must have very heavy urine! During the following half hour I weigh myself three more times, each returning a score of 87.3. So that can be my Week 10 figure:

Week
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Sleaze
87.3










Fantastic! I’ve already lost nearly 3 kilos and I haven’t even started!

I’ll see you in a week.


What I did on my holidays – Home

Wednesday 22 July 2009

You have to love Sydney. After an uneventful flight, in a state of joy to be nearly home, Sydney decided to do trackwork on the Eastern Suburbs line so I had to battle the elegance of the bus system while laden with my bags to get myself home. I was buggered by the end and, after dumping everything and reconnecting the laptop, fell onto my bed and straight to sleep.

I started this holiday diary with a list so let’s end with another. What have I learnt?

I’ve learnt that:

  • The capital of Western Australia is Perth.
  • Perth’s official symbols are the numbat (animal), the black swan (bird) and the green and red kangaroo paw (flower). No idea what the fish is.
  • Perth has an excellent public transport system, though services tend to fun infrequently.
  • Jäger bombs will kill you.
  • Outside of Rottnest Island, no-one gives two shits about quokkas. There is not a single postcard, small fluffy figurine or fridge magnet bearing its cute face anywhere on the Mainland, even at the zoo, which doesn’t have a quokka.
  • Quokkas are best served braised.
  • No-one who lives in Perth have ever rung the bell.
  • Food is shockingly expensive. So’s the wine, which reminds me…
  • Margaret River thinks itself too snooty to produce quaffable wine. It leaves that to the Barrossa Valley.
  • Nothing, I repeat, nothing happens in Perth on a Sunday night.
  • Surfers are sexy.
  • Gay culture in Perth leaves a lot to be desired.
  • People wearing face masks look stupid (at Perth aiport a handful of Asians were walking around wearing masks. Eveyone else just looked bemused though occasionally someone would cough in their direction just so they felt like they were getting their monies worth.
  • A pint of beer is a lot of beer.
  • K-mart is a very comforting place.
  • Project Runway Australia could just possibly be the best show on television.
  • You should never carry milk and eggs in a cheap backpack.
  • Riding a bike is exactly like eating a banana riding a bike.
  • Animals always move when you are trying to take their picture.
  • Two and a half weeks is a long time.
  • Relaxing is far more hard work than it should be.
  • Perth is far more than two hours behind the rest of Australia.
  • Everything tastes better with aioli.
  • It’s nice to spend time with your family. Probably not a lot of time, but time none-the-less.
  • The red-eye flight knocks it out of you.
  • It’s not good to drink so much you can’t remember going to bed, even if that bed is just up the stairs.
  • As much as I adore it, Cats is a bit naff.
  • It’s good to come home.

Oh, I’ve also learnt through a hedonistic lifestyle of food, beer and wine of many years, not just the last two and a half weeks, I now weigh a very disturbing 90kgs. I’m a little frightened about this and need to loose 10kg before I can be happy. I’m afraid that it will be harder than I think.

Right, holiday’s done now. Time to go back to work.


What I did on my holidays – Brisbane for two days

Wednesday 22 July 2009

On the train out to my sister’s. Shouldn’t be much longer. I’ve got no idea when my stop is and relying on the gentleman voice over to tell when to get off.

JUST WHERE DO YOU GET OFF MATE??
Umm… Wacol Station.

Quite proud of myself for remembering where the Sportsman Hotel is (stop just called – my station is next) – down the road and up the hill, though I don’t remember the hill being that steep. Still, I’m all checked in. Instead of a mint they’ve left on my pillow a condom and sachet of lube. Positive thinking, how nice of them. With a gay bar downstairs, here’s hoping.

(Damn. There’s a carpark on both sides of the track. I can’t remember which way to go. I’ll stand at the top and hopefully someone will wave.)

–+–

Back at the train station waiting for my return ride. Louise (my sister’s partner) was good enough to drive me from their house. For a station they say is “just around the corner” it’s a bloody big corner.

What an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon: playing Uncle. I haven’t seen my nephew Zackary and niece Lucy since March last year and I was surprised how much they have aged. Zack is so much more literate and considered; Lucy co-ordinated and elegant. It does sadden me that I’m not there in their lives, except these few rare visits (depending on what exhibition is on at the gallery) because it does bring me joy and allow me to feel I am making some influence and contribution into their lives. I suppose, though, being in Exotic Sydney, at least I can be the one they run away to in their teenage years. Just don’t try to hit me for any money.

We jumped on the trampoline and read books and were shown assorted prized toys and talked about moon phases and dancing and how Lucy’s not going to have a baby (apparently they hurt). After their dinner I tucked them into bed and they both complained about my scraggy beard (I’m in desperate need of a trim). Louise came home from work and she, Michelle (that’s my sister) and I had a roast pork dinner piled high with veggies. Considering that Michelle was such a bastard eater I was quite surprised. Her potatoes and pumpkin were particularly superb. I asked what was her secret. She took a packet from the cupboard and tossed it across the table:

McCORMICK
Produce Partners
Country Style Roast Potatoes

“You’re secret’s safe with me,” I said.

–+–

The whole “hangin’ with the kids” thing did get me thinking of a conversation that Anita and I had sitting while sipping tea in front of a large open fire in Margaret River. For some reason (I can’t remember why but it seemed a sensible question at the time) Anita asked me if I wanted to be a father. I answered truthfully: I don’t think my life will ever be fully complete and I will go to my crematorium a slightly sad man knowing full well that I will never have the opportunity to father children. It’s very true. I think parenting is one of the greatest gifts and greatest responsibilities of Life, and it bitters me to think it is wasted on so many people who have no desire, respect or appreciation of this… greatest thing. This is not some Darwinian theory of forwarding on your genes for a greater society (if this was the case can I start the list of those who should be neutered now?), it is solely about being there and comforting and teaching and guiding a new being; hoping to teach that child what is right in the world and to allow that person the opportunities to see what a huge influence they can make. And on saying that it so terribly saddens me that I know with all my heart that I can never be whole because I am a gay man and will never father. I would go as far as saying that I envy my friends who discover their “gayness” late in life, after they were married (though I also believe they were fooling themselves into a life of “normality” the entire time… until they woke up to themselves) as they at least from their slight adventure have children. Not that I would have to think that children are some sort of prize, like a kewpie doll – Summer of the Seventeenth Doll this is not – but they have… I don’t know… made an input into the next generation. And I think that’s a swell thing. And at times I look at the bottom of my glass knowing it’s not mine.

I mean, it’s not as if I’m Todd McKenney! Thank Gods for that!

On saying this, Zackary did keep calling me by the wrong name. Zack has a gay couple set of uncles who are friends with Louise and Michelle and he kept calling me by their names – a small mistake. While I was happy that Zack had some sort of male role models, Louise did tell me that the two had recently adopted a set (very Franklin Mint) of children whom they have named “Will” and “Grace”. Perhaps there is a reason why gay men can’t have children after all…

Got me thinking, though, what would I name my children. Well, if it were a girl, it would have to be Kylie. If it were a boy, then something really butch… like Madonna.

Back at the hotel I had a few too many beers.

–+–

Next day, Friday, I got up exceedingly late – after 12 – then hurried to the gallery to see the American Impressionist exhibition. Beautiful show full of artists I have heard of and works I have never seen. One of the greatest things an exhibition can achieve is a sense of honour that you have witness these pieces away from home, and this show certainly achieved that. It was certainly a case of the wrong shoes as I was tired standing looking at these masterpieces. At one stage there were no chairs for an entire two rooms! I had to force myself to fully appreciate their brilliance before moving to the next room and having a bit of a sit down; I could see the chairs in the next room but I wasn’t allowed to go a rest the toes till studying every available work. It’s very much a case of Mr Bean: “I look at the pictures” for me, or – my preference – Mr Chance: “I like to watch” (actually, I’ve got another blog about these two stored away, I’ll pull out sometime). I love Art – capital A, and art – little a, and shudder at a life without it. To look at these beautiful things is a joy that so few will ever understand.

I’ve been known to burst into tears at Art. It was a 1904 Frederick McCubbin work called The Pioneer at the Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria. Have a look at it; it’s beautiful. The first time I saw this work I sat in front of it on the perfectly positioned stool and I sat and I stared. This work is speaks of two generations who have live/fought Australia’s landscape, the second generation burying the first and in tern being buried by the New World. That’s how I see it. So I sat in front of this work and I looked at it and allowed my mind to experience everything that McCubbin was trying to suggest one hundred years’ earlier. And I looked at the immense hope and the intent sorrow that this represents, and I started to cry. I allowed myself to pleasure of tears trickling down cheeks; that strange mix of happiness and sorrow that comes through such an action; and to a certain level I felt cleansed. It’s nice to have a cry. Then a bunch of schoolboys rambled in and I quickly wiped my eyes and left the room. It’s one thing being in touch with your motions – it’s another being called a silly by someone who uses Clearasil.

You should also check out (check out?) other McCubbin works, such as Lost and On the Wallaby Track to understand what a superb artist this man was.

On the subject (this does link, me joining Heidelberg artists to London’s West End, believe it or not), that night I saw a new production of Cats. Now, if you would ask me (and believe me, not enough ever do) what my favourite musical of all time was I would promptly say Cats. I don’t’ think it is the best musical – I mean there are so many Gilbert and Sullivans out there, but I think they’re excluded being Operettas, but also My Fair Lady which is horribly perfect in every way, A Chorus Line, or new works like The Producers (a perfect stage play) or – quelle supreme! – Mamma Mia! – but I will always say it was my favourite musical is Cats. Why? Well I will tell you.

My parents used to own a corner shop, a local deli. I still don’t know how I feel about that time. I wasn’t very receptive to the change, I had other interests, I was unwilling to work in the store, but in my defense I was stupid and 17, so that I apologise about. On the other hand I did find the store nothing more than an excuse for my parents to not participate in my life (“Oh we have to be at the store”, they would say to every reportorial show I was in. Now I’m not saying I was performing Shakespeare, but I do, to this day, still rue them for seeing only two shows in my entire nine year theatrical career.) but I still thank them for one thing above all others. In 1989, there was a lady who used to visit the store who said she was going to see the original production of Cats and Mah said that I would like to see it. The lady invited me along and Mah allowed me to go.

I sat there in this huge room, the Festival Theatre in Adelaide, biggest room I had ever been it, and it was chocka block full of people, and the lights dimmed and the room went silent. Then the overture began and the stage started to sparkle with lights representing the night sky, as the overture for Cats works, and I burst into tears. It was that exact moment that I knew that all I wanted to do for the rest of my life is sit in darkened rooms and have people entertain me. And I was 16.

Since then I have done everything I can to see every show, being it professional or amateur, since. I don’t care, I love being… entertained. It’s not that, that sort of cheapens it. It’s more than that. It’s the talent of the artists, it’s the music and the direction, it’s the escapism, that keeps me in this imaginary world of lights and make-up. There is a lot of envy too, I know I could never be good enough to be in this world – and I blame both myself and my parents for that – so I please myself by sitting in the bleachers and watching.

People in my life, I take them to shows, but they usually disappoint me by not valuing them as I do. It has never bothered me buying a single seat, but it is so nice to drink a glass of bubbles with someone and to see their face and for it to hopefully suggest that blind awe that mine did when I first saw these shows. There are times where I have been so disappointed – one time I vowed never to share a theatrical experience again – but others have been worth it – my Dah seeing The Lion King is one of them, my Beautiful Creature seeing The 39 Steps is another.

Anyway, enough of this.

–+–

Back at the Sportsman Hotel there was drag shows on ground and Karaoke in basement. In the Karaoke Bar a gentleman came up to me.

“Hi,” he said.

“Hi,” I said back.

“You don’t remember me, do you?” he said.

“No, sorry,” I said.

“Last night,” he said. Then it dawned on me.

“Oh, I have completely lost a lot of last night, I’m really sorry if that offends you,” I said.

“Not at all,” he said, “but I can tell you, you had a good time.”

Upstairs a handsome boy in a blue singlet was bopping along to the music. Anyone who even caught his glance he would approach. “Oh no mate, I’m straight,” he would claim. All that I watched said something on the lines of “Yeah, whatever,” and carried on with their conversations.

In the far corner, by the pool table, was a chap I do remember chatting to in the toilets the night before. He was a tall thin shearer complete with flannel shirt, brimmed hat and a front tooth missing. There was something so incredibly physically attractive about him, even though he was with his wife and you completely knew he was “Out-of-Bounds”. Anyway, we’d got talking at some time, I think it was because I had commented on his hat; it was a very nice hat. So there is me talking about this fantastic hat and he was talking about how he was straight, and I think “well done” to him, though I can’t work out why he was in this bar – perhaps he as staying the night, it’s very cheap and very central. But as we talk he tells me he was going to sue that movie – you know the one, that movie – Brokeback Mountain – as it painted a negative image of shearers and suggested that all “cowboys” they were gay. “I was gonna sue, you can’t do that sort of thing, it’s wrong,” he said. I dried my hands and left.

On the walls of the toilets are posters for AIDS awareness, which are great thing. This horrible – yet completely preventable – disease continues to grow. It did bother me, though that the Queensland Association of Healthy Communities – or QAHC. My trouble is if you pronounce it with the ‘Q” being hard it says “kak”, which is not the best promotion of Queenslandic health. On saying that, if you say the ‘Q” with a faked “U” it would come out “kwak”, which is even worse, being the worst possible advertisement of northern Australian AIDS related awareness. It did get me thinking – what they needed was to rebadge themselves as the Queensland Association of Medical Awareness – or QAMA (“khama”) or Queensland AIDS Caring Communities’ Alliance, or “kwakka”, or perhaps I’ve just been overly influence by my time in Western Australia…

–+–

To cut a long story short, I didn’t get a root and instead simply got incredibly durnk drunk, but still woke up and was able to get out and to the airport with plenty of time before my 12 noon flight back to Sydney.

one more to go…


What I did on my holidays – Melbourne stop over

Sunday 19 July 2009

I’m standing in front of the Flinders Street Station waiting for my pares to arrive. They will be at least another 15 minutes. It’s now 9.15am and the city is beginning to wake.

Haven’t been able to check into my hotel room, which is a bugger, but the bill’s paid and everything is being held in storage till I get back. I’m in Melbourne to see two exhibitions: John Brack and Salvador Dali.  The trouble is I think my pares only want to see the Dali. The reason why this is a problem is because the Ian Potter Gallery (Brack) closes at 5pm while the NGV (Dali) not until 9, so I could easily see both if I saw the Brack first. I’ll mention this to them, but I’m not sure how eager they’ll be. They’ll still need to travel back to Bendigo and I’m sure they’ve already planned their homeward timetable. Anyway, breakfast is the first thing. I’ve had about an hour and a half’s sleep and will kill for a coffee, bacon and eggs.

–+–

I needn’t have worried about the exhibitions. While my pares didn’t know about the John Brack I did spent a bit of time selling its fine points (how Bendigo’s gallery has a couple of his works, how they would probably recognise his very early work 5pm Collins Street, how Dah might appreciate Brack’s representation of 1950’s men) before steering them towards the gallery and towards the lift. I think they really enjoyed his work and were particularly impressed how diverse his styles were. Like Mah said, you’d have thought that the works were done by three different artists. I think Dah was impressed too as he regularly commented on realistic some of his older pieces looked, or on the faces of his earlier pieces. We didn’t spend a huge amount of time – well, not a huge amount for me anyway, but we did see everything and went back to some pieces to review again. My legs were starting to feel tired too so I’d had enough and was desperate for a cuppa. So we trotted down the road to the NGV for a pot of tea each before tackling the Dali exhibition.

The Dali was designed as a retrospective and covered his very first works (at 15 years old) through to his final days in the 1980’s. I’m in a quandary but this exhibition; I’m not sure if I’m disappointed that his iconic works (melting clocks, swans turning into elephants, bowls of fruit becoming faces, the Venus chest of drawers), or pleased that I was able to see unfamiliar work (umm… well, basically everything on display). I was happy that two of the pieces were film works: An Andalusian Dog (Un Chien Andalou) (1928), Dali’s collaboration with Luis Buñuel; and the 2003 completed Disney piece Destino (2003) that was considered for the second chapter of Fantasia. The two last pieces I went back to the gallery and saw after saying good-bye to the pares. I rushed back, saw them, then went back to the hotel and fell straight asleep till my alarm went off at 9am.

In between my two visits Dah and I were dragged to the casino – “for a late lunch” Mah said –  but we both knew better. After our meals Dah and I sat in one of the bar areas while Mah went and fed coins into the bandits. She enjoyed herself, I suppose.

I’m very glad we did both exhibitions, especially after Mah said that she enjoyed the Brack – who she had never heard of – more than the Dali. There is more a commentary with Brack’s work and what he was trying to achieve throughout his career – to capture human interaction. I enjoyed his work much more too.


What I did on my holidays – Last day in Perth

Saturday 18 July 2009

Standing on the wharf, things are not going good. In front of me is an Indian trainload of messy families, all winging children and bitching mothers, and the zoo ferry has just left on it journey packed starboard to port. They’re running a less service winter timetable – you would think they would put on extra bloody sessions for the bloody school holidays though, wouldn’t you? It’s another half hour before the next craft. I’m already in a foul mood from the bus trips – the first with a kid crying for a toy – he sounded like air escaping from a balloon; the second an Indian man sniffing – no – snorting every 10 seconds. I’ve now got a bunch of teenagers complaining that they’re going to miss the movie – oh good, they’ve left. It’s not so much that I don’t like waiting, it’s that I don’t like having other people waiting with me.

Wait, I’ve got my ipod – ahhh, Diana Ross, always there when I need you.

–+–

Why did I ever decide to go to the zoo during the school holidays? It’s not the children that I mind; they’re usually too excited it’s a buzz to watch their awed faces; it’s the fucking teenager fucking girls with their fucking Oh my God! and No, seriously, and Wow, it’s that, like, a zebra? FUCK THE SHUT UP YOU FUCKING STUPID EMBARRASSMENTS!!! Teenage boys, on the other hand, KNOW that they’re stupid – but are smart enough to keep quiet about it.

–+–

I like zoos. I believe they are extremely important to the survival of animals and for the better understanding of human beings. I often think that zoos should have a domestic section with cows and sheep and stuff, so people better understand where their din din comes from.

Which segues nicely to my next thought.

Very much like how looking at different parrots can show how creatures have adapted over millions of years to better suit their environments (eat shit Intelligent Designers), zoos also are evolving. The small cages of yesterday are disappearing and being replaced with large-scale chicken wire free open spaces as natural looking to the animal’s natural environments as possible. The orang utans (personal favourites of mine, might be the hair, I don’t know) have completed Stage 1 of their refurbishment and are now living in these wonderful arrangements of ropes, boxes, lookouts and cubbyholes. It looks like Tarzan’s Dream House if designed by Lego. The Asian otters’ new wet and wild fun park is to be opened in the next month, and the Sun bears are waiting patiently for their new homestead. But it is comforting to know that some things in zoos never change. The food was its usual overpriced over fried poor excuse. What I took from the bain marie was labelled a chicken burger and fries. The chips were nice (I saw the spotty lad take them from the kitchen) but the burger was some crumbed, dry, white piece of crunchy Styrofoam (if you can have such a thing) with some green and red things smeared on one half of the bun. On closer inspection I think they were tomato and lettuce but after eating the burger I still wasn’t sure. And all with a gob smacking price tag. Oh well, I suppose they’ve got to keep the funds coming in somehow.

–+–

It’s 11pm and I’m sitting at Perth Airport waiting for my 1.10am flight. I’ve given up on trying to read Moby-Dick. Down the way a bunch of kids are chasing each other around and giggling madly. An Asian couple about 2 metres away have got out their laptop and have decided to watch R&B music videos. To my right a family have plugged in their laptop and are busy filling their ipods. Moby-Dick is confusing enough without all these further distractions.

I never made it to see the sun set, which is a pity. I spent longer than I thought at the zoo, and much longer than I had wanted in the zoo shop. I did, though, find that unique Perth souvenir I was after: a painting down by the zoo’s Asian elephants. Soon as I walked in to the shop it caught my eye but I ummed and ahhhed for a while before deciding to buy. Eventually I did the old walk-away-and-have-a-final-look-at-everything-else-and-if-it’s-still-there-when-you-come-back-then-buy-it trick. It was still there and so now I’ve got a painting done by some very talented elephant.

Dinner for Mark’s birthday (happy birthday Mark!) was at the very swanky Matilda Bay restaurant. I had a creamy, but small, risotto for starters, then the whole fish for mains; I’m getting better at removing the bones. Desert we went to a little café around the corner from John’s workplace called Tiamo (“I love you” in Italian) and – boy – did I fall in love with the waiter. Tall, dark, Italian with the most drop-dead smile, I’m sure he had a thing for me too as he “accidentally” dropped the spoon for my affogatto and had to come back especially. Sigh, he was gorgeous, but there’s a dark Italian (but not as tall) waiting for me back in Sydney, so that suits me fine.

I got through the airport check in without hassle – I thought that I might have had a problem. My luggage was 15.5kg – I’d only arranged for 15kg but the let me through without worry (I’ve been told that Tiger Airways can be very strict). The jam I have in my hand luggage for Mah wasn’t a problem either and the security guard couldn’t find any traces of explosives on me either – phew!

Boarding is not until 12.40am. I’ve a window seat so hopefully I can grab a few Zeds. I’ve a very long day tomorrow.


What I did on my holidays – Back in Perth

Tuesday 14 July 2009

Friday, out of Mark and John’s place (very nice too) by 9.30, which is pretty good for me. I’m hoping to master the public transport system today. I think I‘ve got the buses down pat ($1.70 to Anita’s; $2.40 to M+J’s) but they have some sort of beepy card system that the locals all flash at a screen. I’ve a feeling it’s that automatic system that they were planning for Sydney back before the Olympics. Nearly 10 years on it still hasn’t been achieved. Perhaps someone from Transperth can come over to Sydney and have a chat.

–+–

I’m on a train out to Fremantle to explore the markets and the neighbouring streets: Cappuccino Strip for one. It’s on the list they give you when you fist arrive, you see: Ring the bell in the Tower, go see the stuffed bison, have a coffee on Cappuccino Strip. I’ve done one of the three so far, will probably pass on the bell, but must have that coffee. On the subject, I’ve just realised that I got a cup of tea ready this morning then forgot all about it. Be nice and strong when I get back.

The train system seems to be on a 2-hour ticket. There’s no return ticket but there is an all day. This trip to Fremantle, it works out cheaper just to buy another ticket when I get there for return.

–+–

So that was Fremantle. I had a coffee and eggs benedict (with the greatest poached eggs eva!), then went to the markets and bought a new shoulder bag … and that was it. I’m not interested in the maritime museums (they have two), and I find prisons just a little distasteful – Ok, I get it! They had small rooms! They suffered! Don’t you think it’s about time ya built a bridge? (Of course I can say this being an overfed white male Generation-Xer with a secure well-paid job and a tertiary education) – so after wandering around the second hand bookshops for a while, trying to remember who wrote Dangerous Liaisons, I got back in the train and went back to the city.

I think the problem is I keep trying to talk up (think up?) what Perth is, making it bigger than it really is. As pleasant as Fremantle was I didn’t see any reason to hang around any longer and was more interested in just going home to Mark and John’s and, well, read a book. Perhaps it’s time that I started relaxing on this holiday and do nothing?

–+–

Back in the city I went to the State Library and did some research for my Beautiful Creature.

The Macquarie Australian Slang Dictionary (2004) had this to say:

brasco a toilet. Recorded first in 1955, defined as ‘the dummy at a showground’. Some have conjectured that it arose from a toilet manufacturer named Brass Co. – but there is no confirmation that such a company existed. At any date, it is pronounced with a short ‘a’, not the long ‘a’ of ‘brass’.

Stunned Mullet & Two-pot Screamers: A Dictionary of Australian Colloquialism; Fifth Edition (Oxford University Press. G. A. Wilkes, 2008) defines with the more polite “lavatory”. It also lists the first written use with a possible origin:

1967 King’s Cross Whisper No 32, 6: Brasco: Toilet. A play on words, ‘where the brass nobs go’.

The most recent use being:

2002 Australian 30 August, 17: The boutique brasco [heading to article on new fashions in toilets]

Can also be spelt brassco, brascoe and brasker

Now, someone told me that the word had an American origin due to the US Navy coming over in WWII, with the toilets in the American ships being made by Brass Co. I searched through all the American lingo and colloquialism and slang books but couldn’t find any evidence of this.

As a sort of bibliography (and thoroughness) I also referred to A Dictionary of Australian Underworld Slang (Oxford University Press, 1993, Gary Simes).

–+–

After dinner (where I had the most fantastic osso buco in the history of all osso bucos) M+J and I went to the Court so I can see the Friday crowd. Had a great time. They have this back beer garden area that they have covered with a large permanent tarpaulin tent thing. It was interesting to see the night fill up; we got there about 9.30 and it doesn’t really get going to after 10 – ever half hour a new level of people would pour in. There is also a separate dance floor with a separate DJ, and the front bar, which I think was playing R & B music videos (what’s with all the damn R & B, the worst style of music ever invented?). We stayed to stumps – 2am – by which time I had knocked off seven pints, so that’s… let’s see:

7 x 570ml = 3990ml

which is:

3990ml ÷ 425ml = 9.4 schooners

Gosh!

Fell straight to sleep when we got home. Felt right as rain in the morning. Mark was pretty much okey doke too, especially considering we were basically going one for one throughout the night, though we all did start the new day very late.

What did we do Saturday? The boys took me to see the ocean, which was lovely, then, after perving on some incredibly hot surfers standing with their suits rolled down to their hips, we strolled the boardwalk at Sorrento Quay, sort of what Darling Harbour used to be before it went commercial. The Quay is your traditional touristy souvenir type place but there were also two English lolly shops (where I picked up some steak and onion chips and some marshmallow wafers dipped in chocolate – delicious!) and – which I’m still trying to understand – an Everything Egypt store. This concept shop sold Pharaohs, little figurines of black pointy nosed dogs, scarab beetle wall hangings and other paraphernalia that has come to be associated with Ancient Egypt thanks to the Mummy series of movies (Funnily enough, in the city a few days later I walked past another of these Everything Egypt stores. I wouldn’t have imagine that there was that much of a demand but maybe it’s the picture framers all over again?). Sitting on the water’s edge we feasted on fish and chips and more vinegar that can be possibly good for you. Unfortunately we needed to get back home to prepare for Mark’s birthday party otherwise we could have stayed and watched the sun set. I still haven’t seen the sun set but I understand it’s pretty magical considering it sinks into the Indian Ocean; I’m looking forward to the sizzle and the steam.

Mark’s party was a great success with lots of booze, lots of nibbles and lots of friends. I got chatting all friendly like to one fellow named José, who I had jokingly said earlier that day that I would date someone called José simply ‘cos he’s called José. The party ended with José, two lesbians and myself commandeering the ipod and playing DJ and taking requests for people’s favourite songs. Bananarama’s Love in the First Degree got a very early playing, I can tell you! So then about seven or eight of us piled into some cars and headed for the Court.

Now it gets a little weird and messy. I probably should add here that at the party I had drunk at least a bottle of white wine, 6 or 7 vodka jelly shots, and a Jäger bomb, which is a shot glass of Jägermeister dropped into a glass of Red Bull which you then scull. So I’d had my fair share of booze. Anyway, as we’re walking to the Court I lent one of the girls my leather jacket as she was feeling the cold, the rest of us had drunk enough to be protected from the elements, so at the Court she’s got my jacket and I’m just in a shirt, a very fetching shirt but just a shirt none-the-less. Mark buys the first then half an hour later I go the far far back bar to get the next round.

With me so far?

Now, at the bar was a bunch of BLONDE PERKY STRAIGHT WOMEN all standing around in that blasé way that BLONDE PERKY STRAIGHT WOMEN have that fully inconveniences everyone else as they can’t get past without tripping over their handbags. There’s a gap next to them – about 6 inches, no more – so I walk up and with my hands squeeze my way in, opening my hands apart as if I was giving a sermon, and gently – I said GENTLY – eased – NOT PUSHED – aside one of the BLONDE PERKY STRAIGHT WOMEN so I could get to the bar. They had all ordered and were just in the way to the bar: YOU DO NOT MILL AROUND A BUSY BAR!!! Anyway, I smiled at the barman and before I could even asked for a drink he, whom we are guessing must have been friends with the girls, gave me this outraged look as if I was wearing a Dirty Sanchez. All of a sudden this Indian bouncer has me by the arm and Mark and I are outside behind a locked corrugated gate garnished with barbwire. The whole thing took a matter of seconds, like some sort of SWAT operative. “What just happened there?” I asked Mark. He just shook his head.

On telling this story to others the next few days many were not surprised. Some told likewise stories of not even being allowed in on numerous occasions as the same bouncer was at the door, others of people being kicked out after being complained about by BLONDE PERKY STRAIGHT WOMEN. It’s all very strange, very serious and very sad. Sunday night I was back at the Court (reason soon) and of the dozen or so people in the entire bar two were a STRAIGHT COUPLE canoodling on the couches. All I could think was: Why? The Court is the only gay bar in all of Perth, and there are plenty of great straight bars with much nicer music and far better beer gardens, so why why why come and kiss and cuddle in the gay bar? What’s the fucking point you are trying to make?

So Mark and I (no jacket) head down to Connections, which is a gay nightclub open one day a week. I don’t remember much (truthfully, I don’t remember anything) but apparently I was chatting to a couple at one point of the piece, but somewhere along the line I got separated from Mark. So now I was jacketless and friendless and far too drunk and in a foreign city. So, in a brief moment of clarity, I said, “Sod this,” and caught a taxi back home; lucky I was able to remember the address. John let me in (he’d stayed home due not being all that able due to a recent knee operation) but there was no Mark. So I went to bed.

In the morning I felt horrendous, though I hadn’t drunk nowhere near as much as I had the night before. What did I do wrong? I mixed my drinks. Mark looked just as bad and spent the whole day either napping or laying on the couch. But he didn’t have my jacket. There was a phone call from the girls: my jacket is in the Court cloakroom and they will be bringing the stub around later. It’s after 5 when they finally show and, even though I know there won’t be a problem, I’m feeling a little frantic at being so long separated from my lovely Target-brand leather jacket. So that night after dinner I go to the Court and pick up my jacket (there was no problem) but then leave after one sole drink. I was expecting Sunday nights in the gay pub in Perth to be like Sunday nights in the gay pub anywhere else – packed with people trying to get that last bit of excitement out of the weekend. As I mentioned before: twelve people. Defeated I went home and to bed early.

–+–

Monday I was all planned to go to the zoo when José rang to see if I’d like to have lunch. I could do the zoo tomorrow, thought I, so slowed down my morning preparation and met up with José at noon. Had a nice time with him then walked him back to his work and then down to check on the zoo ferry timetable. One of the great things about Perth is it has three free travel buses that scoot around the city constantly taking you north/south, east/west or around and out a bit (for wont of a better description). I picked up the timetable and there was one of the buses so I jumped on that and went to Perth’s outlet centre: Harbour Town.

Picked up a nice pair of pants and a nice shirt, which M+J said I must have got from the ladies’ section (doesn’t matter what they think, I like it). Did try on some pants in the Roger David store. They had a stand of 2 for $40, a great bargain, and they were all of patterns that I like, so I grabbed a few pairs of Size 34s and went to the change room. (This isn’t a very interesting story, is it? It does get better… not much but at least better.) In the change room there was a bit of a problem because every pair I tried on… well… they left nothing to the imagination. I don’t know but whatever man they designed these pants to fit obviously does not have a scrotum. I was certainly dressing to the left. Gay Los Angeles men of the late 70’s did not have their balls so fully pushed forward as I was displaying. I had the groin of a rock musician appearing on “Count Down”. I know I’ve put on weight but I don’t think it’s actually possible to have fat testicles. “Is that a kransky and two boiled eggs in your trousers or are you just happy to see me?” DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I’M TRYING TO SAY – MY PACKAGE WAS ALARMINGLY HUGE! So naturally I bought six pairs.

BOOM BOOM!

No I didn’t; I put them all back and caught the bus back to M+J’s.

Quiet night in with me mostly on the laptop typing in my blog entry (I’ve been very slack for a few days) and the boys upstairs watching taped eps of Home and Away and Eastenders. It’s Mark’s birthday tomorrow (Tuesday) and my last day in Perth. I fly the red eye that night (Wednesday morning) to Melbourne for the next stop on the journey. But now, time for bed.