I’ve been reading over the past couple of weeks how the Duchess Of Fergie is in debt – the estimates being between two and six million dollars. In the course of this discussion, let us go with the lowest of the two amounts.

$2 million?! TWO MILLION DOLLARS? How the hell do you get $2 million into debt(*)? That’s more than some small countries! It’s surely not an easy thing to do. I know if I tried that on my Mastercard they’d pull it after a couple of grand.

Okay, we all have to accept that it’s hard living with virtually zero income. In this case "zero" is a mere $460,000 a year, in fact. But really, if you looked at your personal finances, and saw something like this:

  (per year)
Income $460,000
Spending $1,200,000
= Defecit $740,000

… it could be time to start reconsidering your lifestyle.

(*) In the event that time has passed somewhat and you’re reading this in the year 2200 and thinking "but $2 million wouldn’t buy a stamp!" then just take it from me – in 1996 it’s a bucket load of money, okay?


Sunday I spent the evening at a barbecue… standing around the hot plate in the park with the blokes swatting flies and talking about beer – ah, you can’t get much more AUSTRALIAN and MANLY than that!

But Saturday found me in another of my occasional attempts at cooking dinner. Another attempt to provide for the family in a domestic mode, you know.

The goal: A puffy, light, delicate souffle.

The problem: I’m not even quite sure how to say"souffle", let alone make one.

The solution: Read and follow the cookbook religiously.

The other problem: I don’t know what half the stuff in the book means. And I’m too stubborn to ask advice. Beat the eggs until you see peaks? What, like the Himalayas? Aww hell, they look like they might be peaks.

The result: Well, not quite what I’d call a souffle. Not quite as bad as I’d been dreading (which was something that could quite reasonably be rejected by the patrons at the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen). Puffy? No. Light? No. Delicate? No. Souffle? Certainly not. More a kind of crustless egg pie, if there is such a thing. Edible? Yes, and frankly I’m glad, I didn’t want to wait another half hour for a pizza to be delivered.


We’re expecting our hall carpet to get replaced soon. Yep, the landlady’s finally doing something about all the worn carpet. Originally the plan had been for it to be stretched. It would happen shortly after we moved in, we were told. The guy would come, his carpet stretching equipment (which resembles props from the torture scene of a bad medieval movie) was already in the cupboard, waiting.

Well, that was last March and the guy never showed up. Every few days the landlady would ask "did he come?" and we’d say "no…" The questions came fewer and fewer, and the man himself vanished off the face of the earth. We still have his equipment. Presumably out there somewhere in the world is a carpet stretcher who has either moved into another profession, or is extremely frustrated at having forgotten where his tools are.

He probably goes to job interviews.

"So, what carpet stretching experience have you had?"

"Forty years of stretching all kinds of carpets."

"Excellent, excellent. And you have your own tools?"

"Ah… no."

"Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear. Next!"

Anyway, after ten months, the landlady decided to switch to another tactic. That of replacing the carpet with tiles. So she arranged for a carpet-puller-upper/tile-layer to come and measure it all up. After some delay (oh great, she’s called another fictional repairman) he was finally due around 11:30 on Friday. A public holiday but oh well, someone’s got to work them.

The doorbell rings. Ah ha! I think, the guy about the tiles! I stride confidently to the front door and open. Hmm.. it’s not one guy, but two, plus a kid – probably one of their sons. Well, okay, I can handle that.

I’m about to let them in when I notice hmm… wearing suits. Not your usual workman clothing. Even the kid’s wearing a suit… Oh no, wait a minute, it’s the–

fictional bit begins here

"Hello, we’re Jehov–"

"Yes, come in! We’ve been expecting you."


"This is it, here. The whole hallway to be replaced."

"But we wanted to talk to you about–"

"What, you haven’t brought your tape measures? Here, use ours."

"–the origins of the universe and–"

"Yes, that’s it, and around into that alcove there, right up to the bathroom door."

"–what man can do to–"

"Don’t forget to write it all down, okay, thank you, out you go."

"But hey, wait a minute–"

"Yes, thanks, see you next time!"

Sprained ankle

I have sprained my ankle. Now, I’d like to claim that this was during some great activity – a national sporting event, paragliding, bungee jumping, rodeo, bullfighting, base jumping, something of that stretches the human physique to its limits. But no. I sprained my ankle getting off a bus.

It’s the bus driver I blame. You just don’t expect the bus driver to be so friendly. He said "hi, how are you" as I get on. Like, wow. Twilight Zone stuff. Okay, so it’s only the kind of "how are you" that doesn’t really warrant a detailed or personal response, but it’s a surprise nonetheless.

Then when I’m getting off, he says "thank you, see you again." And whatever the reasoning (MetBus’s great friendliness and customer service campaign of ’96 perhaps) it distracts me for a vital second. Just long enough to prevent me noticing that the ground below me, where I am about to tread, is not the conventional horizontal footpath I have come to expect, but a driveway. An angled driveway. The edge of an angled driveway, to be precise.

My left foot (hey, good name for a film) decides it can’t handle this. It leaps out of the way, taking some ligaments in my ankle with it. I land on the other knee, say "ow!" rather loudly and walk away.

It wouldn’t have been so bad, but I was on the way to the dentist. Ah, the dentist!

The dentist is like any other person who knows a million times more about their field than you. Every one of them has you completely at their mercy. Only these people can charge you $145 for what seems like a few minutes’ work and get away with it. They can tell you everything is wrong, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

The video repair shop – Well, the heads are gone, have to be replaced
Dentist – Well, the wisdom teeth are trouble, have to be taken out
Mechanic – Well, the whole exhaust is shot, has to be replaced
Computer repair – Well, the hard drive is kaput, has to be replaced
… you get the picture.

Luckily, my dentist is very trustworthy, and never takes advantage of me. Or so I believe…

Anyway, the ankle. It didn’t start to hurt until that evening, when it ballooned, so the next day I called in sick "honestly guys, I think they’re going to have to amputate" and hobbled out on crutches and got it checked.

It’s only once you’re on crutches that you appreciate the extreme discomfort of using them. You appreciate those low steps. You appreciate automatic doors. It was on these crutches on Friday 12th January (Crutch Day Number 3) that the MORON OF THE WEEK was spotted.

The driver of red Commodore DEA380 actually managed to have TWO tries at mowing me down. Not bad, eh? As I was getting off the tram at the corner of Glen Huntly and Booran Roads, attempt one took place, only prevented by the gallant conductor leaping out and signalling him to stop (I probably looked pathetic trying to get down the steps with two crutches). Damn, I didn’t get my chance to put the crutch through his windscreen.

Seconds later, he has another go! I’m preparing to hobble across the street that he’s decided he’s turning left into. He apparently only thinks to give way upon meeting my glare (I’ve been practising). He pulls up, and waves me past, like he’s doing me some big favour, rather than just obeying the road traffic laws.

Meanwhile, back in ankle land on Crutch Day Number 1, I’d managed to get to the x-ray place. It’s lucky x-rays aren’t like passport photos – you don’t get them back and see all the hairs on your leg sticking out and have to get them re-done to avoid embarrassment. But the x-ray guy (Mr Plutonium I think he said his name was) got talking, and asked "so, could you blame the bus company?"

I thought about this for a few seconds, and there’s two big reasons why I wouldn’t go into legal action. Firstly, it was my fault. Okay, call me crazy, but how could I maintain a straight face while suing someone else because I wasn’t looking where I was going? Secondly, and more importantly, is that ANY legal action means LAWYERS GET MONEY. This is not a good situation. They already have plenty of other peoples’ money, and I in no way want to encourage them.

Bad Christmas poetry

Prepare for bad poetry. This is what I wanted for Christmas… (*I got these)

A vacuum cleaner that doesn’t drown out the telly
Self-changing nappies that don’t end up smelly
Price tags that come off without a fight *
Neighbours who don’t blare loud music at night
Disks that don’t self destruct with my data
To understand what the Tax Office mean by "pro rata"
Blinds that don’t get stuck halfway down
A Fast Eddies burger I can get my teeth round *
A good table for eight in the Hard Rock Cafe
An easy to open tomato sauce sachet
Warning buzzers that sound if my fly is undone
Especially if I’m about to walk past a nun
Neighbours who don’t leave shopping trolleys on the street
To walk for miles without killing my feet
To not hear dripping taps once I’m in bed
People to hear first time what I’ve said
The media to stop all this hyping the Net
To get a winning horse from my once a year bet
Gas, electric, phone bills in different weeks
To understand behind those sci-fi geeks
An absorbent handkerchief that’s always dry
To know all the words to "American Pie"
I’d love a toaster that never burns the toast
To get down to the mailbox in time for the post
Trams that aren’t dead on time when I’m late
To not feel sick from the Christmas chocolate I ate
A calendar that turns the pages by itself
To have read all those books up there on the shelf
To see bloopers from the Queen’s Christmas Message
To understand what the point is of dressage
A little summer weather wouldn’t go astray *
To really see Santa fly by with his sleigh
Car drivers who give way when they’re supposed to
To not have a sore nose after using a tissue
A packet of Tim Tams that never runs out
To understand what the stock exchange people shout

One thing I don’t have this year is much time
So here’s all the others that I didn’t get to rhyme:

Ties that automatically go to the right length
Newspapers that recycle themselves
An adult-sized Jolly Jumper
Pens that don’t lose themselves
Frenchies to stop testing nuclear bombs
Pictures that always hang straight on the wall
Stickytape that doesn’t stick to my fingers
Endless chocolate in a special dispenser
A microwave that remembers the time when unplugged
A retractable cord that actually works
People to stop ringing me – the wrong number
A passport photo that makes me look human *
Bubblegum that is underside of table resistant
Maps that can be folded back up first time
Companies to stop sending bills for three cents
To be able to keep in a fart when I need to
A seminar that’s interesting right to the end
A big black thick texta that doesn’t dry out
Once a year to have chocolate for dinner *
To understand what Boxing Day is really for