A Day In The Life Of A Writer

People keep asking me why I haven’t written a blog post recently. I’m well prepared for this question, with a whole raft of defensive answers citing how busy I am finishing off my second book whilst trying to keep the first one afloat. I rarely mention that my intense laziness plays a part in all of this…

But it inspired me to write about my typical day, and publish it on The Displaced Nation, an expat blog I regularly write for (see? Busy, I told you so!).

So for those who can face the inanity of a look into my life – well I guess that’s most of you, as that’s what this blog is generally about :0) – here it is!

As you can well imagine, it’s an extremely glamorous life, full of high-octane car chases, explosions and pithy one-liners… in my head, anyway.

My Writing Desk

The reality:

I wake up at 6:40am. I’ve no choice, because that’s what time my wife wakes up. Much as I would love to moan at her about it, she’s doing it for me – in fact she gets up, gets breakfast and goes out to work, all in the name of supporting me while I lounge around at home, pretending to be a writer.

So, yeah, I figure it’s best not to grumble.

Even though it’s bloody freezing at 7am!

It continues to surprise me that it can be this cold in Australia. Who knew?

At random intervals throughout the day I receive instructions from the wife via text message.

‘It’s sunny out! Go for a walk.’

‘It’s raining – bring the washing in!’

‘Don’t forget to clean the bathroom today’

‘Eat something!’

It’s because she loves me, but also because she’s lived with me long enough to know that I’m an idiot. Without these helpful prompts she’d get home to find I’d Tweeted my heart out, emailed everyone I know in this hemisphere and written thousands of words of my new manuscript – but that I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast.

Then, when she takes me to the gym I end up fainting halfway through the class.

Australia is an amazing place, for such a wide variety of reasons that I could fill this blog post waffling about them; but there’s one stand-out fact that makes a real difference at this point.

The wages here are good. Very good. So good in fact, that my wife, working part time as a cleaner, can comfortably support both of us! Now, we’ve been backpackers long enough to know how to live frugally. We rent a room in a share-house for example, rather than splashing out on our own flat. But other than that, I’d say we do okay. We eat out plenty, go to parties and the cinema, and have a gym membership so ridiculously expensive I sweat more thinking about it than I do using it – but we manage it all quite comfortably, on one part-time wage.

I’ve never found another country where this is possible.

 

A Good Morning!

After wading through a mountain of emails, Tweets and Facebook messages – some of which aren’t even spam – I finally get to start on the real work. And then…

  • 10am – check my sales.
  • 10:02am – shout “WOOHOO!” unnecessarily loudly, pissing off my student friend in the next room, who doesn’t have to be up ‘till 12.
  • 10:05am – celebrate with a coffee.
  • 10:10am – back to work, until…
  • 10:30 – check sales again – just to be sure I wasn’t imagining things.
  • 10:32am – Wake up students again with another cry of ‘Woohoo!’
  • 10:35am – celebrate with another coffee…

I like my coffee like I like my women… industrial size! And witty…

As you can imagine, I also spend a lot of time on the loo.

There is a compulsion amongst self-published authors to constantly check our sales and our Amazon rankings. This is because, unlike ‘properly’ published authors, we have access to this information in real time. Watching sales tick up one by one – or watching them stubbornly refuse to do so – is a highly addictive (and utterly pointless) pass-time.

I DO NOT suffer from this.

I check less than five times a day – except on the days when I check more often. Which is quite often.

But I don’t suffer from the compulsion. At all.

I also don’t do denial.

 

Message Received

So, we’ve reached lunch. Or rather, we should have. By this time I’m usually quite deep into the world I’m writing in – which for me is my own torrid past. Having to nail it down so completely, with colours and gestures and remembering what people said, sends me into such a vivid re-living of the event I’m describing that I lose all track of time. If I don’t get that text telling me to eat, I don’t eat.

Which is one reason why I’m so skinny, despite sitting in front of my desk all day.

When I do get the text, it scares the hell out of me.

I’m usually sitting in silence. I can’t work with music on, or else I end up listening to the lyrics and, inevitably, singing along with gusto. As the student in the next room can attest, I’m one of the worst singers in the entire country. Maybe even the world.

So all is calm, and quiet, and focus – only the rhythmic clacking of keys disturbs the air. Then my phone screeches at me and I jump three feet off my chair, in a move that amazes anyone lucky enough to see it happen.

“How the hell do you jump that high while you’re sitting down?” they ask.

“You must have some potent muscles in your arse!”

“Why thank-you,” I tell them. “It’s all the practice I get, talking out of it.”

My wife gets home and takes me out to the gym. I rely on her because I can’t drive – at least, I can now. I took a test in December (my first, at age 33), and passed with flying colours. But I haven’t driven since, so I tend to rely on her – not just for money, but as a taxi service too.

Poor woman.

But anyway, we only have one car. Or more accurately, about 2/3rds of a car; it’s gotten considerably shorter since she crashed it into the back of the taxi a few months ago. But it still works, so what’s the problem?

Although I do have to put my hand under the bonnet to start it.

Damage to our carAfter the gym – assuming we’re not going straight out for dinner with friends, to pile all the calories we’ve just burnt back on at Nandos, we wend our weary way home.

 

Chores

She cooks, and I clean up afterwards – because a) she’s been cleaning all day, and b) I can’t cook for toffee. Seriously – beans on toast is the pinnacle of my culinary ability. And I usually burn at least one component of it.

While she cooks, I finish off whatever piece of writing was rudely interrupted by the end of her working day.

I only cook on special occasions…

After dinner I Tweet, and Facebook, and email – but from the comfort of our bed, where we sit with our legs up watching a movie.

And eating ice-cream, because if you’re going to go to the gym four times a week, you might as well make it worthwhile  :0)

And then it’s 10pm: well-earned sleep time for the wife. After all, she’s got to be up at 6:40 the next morning.

So I tuck her in and sneak downstairs, where I carry on Twittering, writing the odd guest post, sending out review copies of my book to bloggers, replying to emails from readers, making posts on forums and indulging in my two main vices: a glass of wine, and allowing myself to write a bit of a sci-fi novel I one day hope to publish. Ah, good times!

At around 2am I generally remember that I’ll be getting up at six as well, as it’s impossible to get back to sleep after seeing the wife off to work; it’s also usually around this time that someone living in a far more sensible time-zone strikes up an interesting conversation on Twitter…

But I try to be in bed by 4.

I don’t always make it.

Y’see? I told you! Pure, unadulterated glamour…

The Great Perth Storm of 2012…

We heard it first on the news.

A storm was coming for Perth. One of epic proportions.

WA StormAfter a week of wild weather, winds bringing down trees and power lines alike, this was set to be IT. The Big One.

Batten down the hatches – we were in for a rough ride.

Word spread from TV and radio, from person to person – it was a storm – no, it was a tornado! Category 2, whatever that means, or worse – is there worse than a Category 2? I don’t know!

People panicked.

Facebook lit up with concerns about power outages and house damage.

“I have to park my car underneath a huge tree,” one friend explained. “I can’t do anything to stop it getting crushed!”

There was talk of flooding.

There was talk of snow.

Surely we weren’t in for a blizzard? I mean, I know it’s winter, but this is Perth! Right?

People hurried home from work.

We could hardly believe it – the traffic at 4pm was like rush hour. Businesses and shops closed early, sending staff home as soon as they could to avoid them being caught on the road when The Storm hit.

By nightfall the roads were empty. It was eerie, as we drove home from the gym, speeding unopposed down streets we normally had to queue down.

Empty StreetsThe cafes and restaurants of the popular Vic Park district were all empty; occasionally a terrified pedestrian darted across the street, desperately seeking shelter, cursing the cruel fate that had left them stranded outside in the face of the advancing storm.

At just after 8pm, Western Standard Time, it hit.

The noise of the wind was intense – well, probably. We didn’t hear it as we were inside eating schnitzels.

The storm surged around the house, making us occasionally remember it was there. Plans were abandoned: “We’ll have to put the bins out tomorrow,” I said gravely.

“We’ll have to close the bedroom window!” my wife informed me.

But we didn’t. We’re just that fearless.

Outside, the storm raged unabated.

Perth resisted with all it’s strength – but how could it possibly survive the night?

For minutes at a time we were battered by the rain, sheeting from the sky with enough force to make you really, really wet.

Then there would be a brief lull – then rain would pour down once again, flooding into our drains like… well, like it’s supposed to do.

The aftermath was one of subtle devastation.

Branches were down.

Leaves were down.

Hell, leaves were everywhere. It looked like Perth had been caught in the grip of a… big storm. Well, big-ish.

Across the region, fences were slightly damaged.

A garden gnome was seen to be unmoved in the hilltop vicinity of Roleystone, having narrowly survived the same terrifying ordeal that his friends had also narrowly survived.

Slowly, life returned to normal. People came out of hiding, glancing fearfully at the sky and counting the signs of destruction all around them.

Some of them needed more than one finger.

But long after the boards had been removed from our windows, long after the children had been rescued from beneath tables and under beds, long after 10am, when the sun had dried all remaining traces of the deadly rainstorm – Perth was still there.

Thankfully no-one lost their lives to the deadly downpour, though it is believed that a few weather forecasters lost their jobs.

Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, and with the idiots themselves.

United in their defiance of the storm, Perth residents have vowed: ‘We shall rebuild!’

Picture by The Brow Horn Orchestra

Unfortunately, nothing was destroyed, but the sentiment remains important. Never again will this brave city feel as threatened by Mother Nature.

Never before, in the field of human-weather activity, has so little been done to so many by such a vast load of bullshit.

So now, wear this badge with pride:

I survived banner

 

This one’s for YOU!

In preparation for conquering the world – at least as far as book sales go –  I’ve been reading a fantastic book by John Locke called ‘How I Sold A Million Ebooks’. In it he advises authors to get to know their audience, and to write what their audience wants to read. Good advice. So I started to think about that.

Who exactly are my readers?

Well, based on the feedback I’ve been getting they’re of all ages (eight to a hundred and eighty eight) and genders (male, female, other), from a wide variety of countries (even Ireland! Who knew?). But they all have this in common: they are intelligent, sophisticated, highly attractive people – who love to laugh at me making an idiot out of myself.

So with this in mind, I trawled my archives (What? I can’t have archives now?) and looked for examples of me doing stupid things. I found plenty.

The result is this: here for your enjoyment is a short piece I wrote for a competition which I didn’t win, probably because I wrote the piece after the deadline had already passed. I know, I know. Always read the small print! Or, you know, any of the print…

Anyway. This happened while I was in Australia for the first time. Enjoy!

Field Day

    “Tony, wake up! Gotta get ready for work!” My girlfriend Roo was prodding me insistently – with the butt-end of a torch. Outside of our tiny tent darkness reigned and the civilised world still slept; but we had a new job to go to, on a sandalwood plantation, and one thing all agricultural work had in common was an early start. Damn it.

In fairness, this was the height of the Australian summer and our camping ground was in the far north. Intellectually I knew that by 6am the inside of the tent would be like a blast furnace. But I still loathed and detested 5am.

Infinite Field    Dawn found us sitting in a rapidly disintegrating minibus, bouncing along a knackered dirt track towards the plantation. The vehicle was in roughly the same state of repair as the road; there were holes in the roof; there were holes in the floor. It needed to be push-started every time, and was stopped by ‘natural breaking’ – ie, coasting until it either ran out of speed, or hit something. Or both.

Eight other workers were crammed into the torn vinyl-covered seats alongside Roo and myself, and every one of us was braced in position with arms legs and in a few cases, heads pressed against what was left of the dented metal roof.

“She’ll be right!” The boss had said, in true Aussie fashion, when I’d commented to him that only the paint was holding his van together.

After which he’d introduced himself as ‘Johno’.

Johno loved to drive that wreck of a van. He loved to drive it at speed. He prided himself on knowing exactly how to coax what he wanted from the ancient engine. He deftly slotted it between openings in the fence and shot across makeshift bridges over a network of irrigation ditches. He was grinning at me in the rear-view mirror, as if to say ‘See?’

When suddenly the world turned upside down and the seat in front of me took a swipe at my ribs. I twisted as I fell, and ended up lying on my face across the mud-encrusted windows.

Roo was lying on top of me. And at least three people were lying on top of her. The van was on it’s side, nose down in a ditch, and I was slowly being suffocated. This must be what it’s like to play the Aussies at rugby, I thought.

“I can get out the window!” someone called from the front.

“Yeah, me too!”

And one by one we squeezed out of whatever opening presented itself. After all, there were plenty of them.

Johno stood on the bank, counting heads as we crawled up to him.

“Sorry lads!” he said cheerily, ignoring the presence of several women. “It gets a bit narrow there.”

Apparently this satisfied him that the situation was back under control. He pulled out his cell phone and took a deep breath before punching a number in.

“Hey there Big Man! Yeah, we’ve, um, had a bit of a crash…”

He held the phone away from his ear for a few seconds while the swearing on the other end subsided. His mood deteriorated as the noise continued.

“Yeah… that narrow part, by the ditch… yeah, in the ditch. Upside down.”

There was a final blast of abuse from the speaker.

“Yes,” he agreed glumly. “Again.”

The voice did not sound impressed.

Luckily for us, the crash-site wasn’t far from the job-site.

Johno, eager to get back in the good books, led us straight into the field and got us started. ‘Weeding’ would be an accurate description of the job that ensued. Not that I was sure exactly what we were weeding and why, but the contrast with our last job picking pumpkins was unbelievable. It was just so… easy! After two weeks of straining, back-breaking toil hefting gigantic pumpkins into the back of a tractor moving at jogging pace, this wasn’t even work at all.

I strolled over to Roo, who was busily pulling a small leafy plant from the soil.

“This is incredible,” I commented.

“I know! Shh!” She was obviously thinking the same thing – we had to keep this job at all costs.

Another lazy hour drifted by. I wandered up another furrow, pulling up whatever came closest to hand. There was a certain dark green, very persistent weed that seemed to be everywhere. “Check this out!” I dropped a handful of the plants in front of Roo. These things are in every row!”

“That’s because they’re the support plants,” she hissed. “Don’t pull them out. okay? We’ll get in trouble.”

“Oh, really? Shit. Sorry!”

She herself was leaving a trail of remarkably similar looking plants uprooted.

“What’s the difference?”

She sighed. She always had to help me with stuff like this. I was never a particularly observant person. “These are weeds.”

I took the proffered plant and studied it.

“This is the support tree.” The fingers of her free hand gently lifted the leaves atop the stalk nearest to her.

To me, they looked identical.

“See?”

“Of course,” I lied.

“Good.”

“And what about this one?” I held up another of my recent victims. “We pull these out too, right?”

“That’s the sandalwood tree!”

“Oh! Now I get it!”

In spite of herself, Roo was starting to giggle. “How many… how many of those have you… ripped up?”

“Um, well… all of them. I think.”

She burst out laughing, but caught herself – with effort – after one guffaw. “Shit!” she coughed out between suppressed giggles. “Don’t… pick… any more!”

It was all I could do not to crack up myself. We were halfway through the day and I must have divested about a quarter of the field of it’s primary raison d’etre.

Weed pulling

About to commit another crime...

We picked on in silence for the next half-hour.

“Woah!  Careful there!” It was Johno, stomping up the furrow behind me. “Don’t be pulling that one out, mate!”

I froze mid-motion.

“That there’s a sandalwood – just looks a bit different ‘cause it ain’t grown as much,” he explained.

I released my grip on the immature specimen.

“Phew! Glad I stopped you there!” And he strode past me towards the next keen plucker.

I stopped for a few seconds and mopped sweat from my forehead with a bandanna. “So those ones too eh? This job is harder than I thought!”

As Johno drove us home I couldn’t resist asking; “Is this job real? There has to be a catch? Like, deep underground you’ve got some super-secret weapons lab, and we’re just here to make it look innocent on the satellite photos? And you pay us eighteen bucks an hour to pick weeds so no-one rocks the boat, right?”

“Not quite that exciting!” He replied. “See, these sandalwood trees will be producing oil in a couple of years and that oil is expensive stuff. Some trees will make loads, some not as much, but when they’re mature they’ll be worth between three and fifteen thousand dollars each.”

There was a stunned silence. I couldn’t have spoken even if I’d wanted to. My throat had suddenly gone dry.

“F-fifteen? Thousand?” I finally croaked.

“Jeez,” one of the other workers exclaimed, “that’s crazy man! What if someone steals one!”

“Security. Whole place is fenced all around. Got cctv cameras on the fence posts. And our own fire station on site, in case a bush fire gets too close! Yeah, this field is worth something like eighty-five million dollars. They go all out to protect these babies.”

I felt vaguely sick. Whilst at the same time I had the hideous feeling that deep inside me was welling up a great big belly laugh. I’d worked here for one day. By rough estimate I’d done at least a million dollars’ worth of damage…

Roo was nudging me with her foot. I glanced over at her. Her expression was unmistakable ‘Say Nothing!’ it read. I was inclined to agree.

Sandalwoods

That's one pricey plant!

Back at the camp site that evening we discussed our options. Well more accurately, Roo discussed them while I fell around the place laughing. “It’ll take them a long time to get it out of my salary!”

“Come on, seriously!” Roo chastised me. “What are we going to do?”

I took a few deep breaths to calm myself and sat on the scrubby grass next to her.

“If we don’t go back it’ll look really suspicious,” I pointed out. “On the other hand, if we do go back and they spot my little mistake, it’s quite possible they’ll drown us in a ditch.”

“Or they could just put us in a car with Johno driving…” Roo added.

“So what do you reckon? Shall we look for new jobs?”

With a theatrical sigh, Roo reached for our cell phone. “I put Johno’s number in here, I’ll send him a text.”

I watched over her shoulder as she typed.

‘From Tony and Roo. Thanks for an amazing experience.’

Which I thought was quite generous. She paused for a moment, then shrugged. “Not much else to say,” she said. And added ‘We Quit.’

Revenge

Roo's Revenge!

 

So, did you enjoy that one? I hope so! Let me know what you think in the Comments. And if anyone wants to be told when my next blog post comes out, please feel free to stick your email address in the box on the sidebar. It only sends you an email when I publish a new blog post, and I don’t do that too often – I promise you won’t be deleting stacks of emails from me! I usually manage to post about once every ten days or so. And I try to keep it amusing! Well, thanks for reading! You can also find me on:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TonyJamesSlater

And Twitter: @TonyJamesSlater

PerthLife

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for us here in Perth.

Most excitingly, after several days of viewing shitty flats and rooms your granny wouldn’t dare live in, we moved into a nice big room in a brand new share-house.

We LOVE this place!

  • It’s cool (22 degrees in fact – I know, ‘cause it says so on the remote control for our in-room air-con!)
  • It’s modern  – there is a fingerprint scanner on the front door instead of a key lock! This causes both Roo and I to run around screaming “MY GOD IT’S THE FUTURE!!” every time we successfully use it. Which, I have to admit, is far more often than we actually leave the house.
  • But most importantly of all, there is a 50 inch TV!

Yes, that’s right:

50 Inches!

VERY Big TVIt’s also bizarrely empty, like an executive ghost-house. We’ve lived here for almost a week now, that 50” TV is sitting right there surrounded by comfy red sofas – yet to my knowledge I’m the only person who has ever turned it on.

People live here – allegedly – and occasionally I’ll sit bolt upright in the middle of the night when a strange sound disturbs the silence – a cough! From one of the rooms surrounding ours… there IS life on planet NewHouse!

The place is immaculate. Spotless! Roo and I are supposed to be on cleaning duty this weekend, but I honestly can’t find anything to do! The dishes seem to get washed up and put away right after anyone eats. It happens so fast I get quite nervous during dinner, half expecting someone to steal it off me and wash it before I’ve finished my sausages.

As regular readers might recall, my parents have not been quite so lucky with the properties they let out; in fact we viewed a house just before this one which was only two years old, and already the carpets were ruined. Massive grease stains tracked right across the floor and up the stairs. How such a mess was even possible I don’t know. It looked like a giant squid had given birth in the living room. I began to wonder if the last tenant had brought his Harley Davidson inside for an oil change.

Well, we didn’t rent that house. (Sorry Wayne!) We held out for the biggest, nicest, cleanest house I think I’ve ever lived in. Then, when the owner called us and told us we’d been chosen out of a dozen applicants, I went to the bank to withdraw rent money, only to find out that my card has been blocked by the bank. Something to do with them not knowing I was in Australia… despite the fact that they’d spent the last two months handling my emigration paperwork.

Hm, what else?

Oh yes.

We also bought a car.

Now, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what a minefield buying a used car can be. We did a lot of soul searching beforehand, and came up with an honest, no-nonsense approach; we trusted to fate.

I had a good feeling that day, as did Roo. I’m a big believer in the power of positive thought, and in trusting the Universe to help me out. It’s a happy, calming philosophy to live with, and it’s been a long time since I felt in control of my life enough to be so free and trusting. Far too long in fact; because what I should have remembered is that Fate really fucking hates me.

Honestly, I think there should be a disclaimer on some of these self-help books, the ones that advocate sitting back and letting the universe do the driving. Somewhere in the small print it should say ‘WARNING! First ensure that Fate is on your side. If not, discount all previous advice.”

So, yeah. I channelled my inner hippie, placed my trust in Fate and bought the car that seemed right for us.

And Fate smiled, and laughed, and then fucked me.

White CarThe car began to squeal. It had to be the brakes, because they were the only thing not covered by the warranty. It was definitely a brake-y type of squeal.

We took it to a mechanic, who told us the ‘rotors’, were so groovy they also needed replacing – and here, I didn’t even think our car could fly! Apparently I’d bought a helicopter. And a groovy one at that.

Replacing the rotors was one of those jobs that made the mechanic suck air in over his teeth. I felt an instant pain in my chest – right where my wallet sits…

I called the guy who sold the car and moaned at him until he agreed to split the cost of the repairs. This was my one minor victory for the week, but it was soon overshadowed by a strange knocking sound…

We’d had the car back for less than a week. The central locking had packed up, but we could live with that. The inside light being broken as more of a pain. The air-con wasn’t really cold anymore, but Roo was about to start work, which meant no-one would be driving the car in the middle of the day anyway. So we could deal. But the knocking… whenever we turned right, it would start. CLUNK-CLUNK-CLUNK – getting faster as the car did, and getting louder day by day. At first we decided to ignore it, on the grounds that we couldn’t afford to fix it no matter what it was. But by the time it was drowning out the stereo (the one thing still working inside the car), we figured there wasn’t much choice.

I typed the symptoms into a diagnostic site I found through Google and it came up with a message that said ‘Congratulations! Your car is knackered.’

White Car At NightTo cut a long story short, we needed a new CV joint. So the mechanic cut the old joint off and ordered a new one which turned out to be the wrong one which couldn’t be fitted which left the car up on blocks at precisely the time Roo was due to start her first day of work since 2009.

There, that was short! Poor Roo couldn’t cancel, so she spent two hours researching a route via public transport (which co-incidentally also took two hours to travel). She got up at 5am to start work at 8am, and as she sat on the bus/train/bus/bus/bus and then walked a kilometre and a half, I lay in bed cursing Fate. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t like me.

The silver lining? Roo earned marginally more than her combined bus and train fare, the bank still won’t let me use my cash-card so I’ve put the car repair bill on a credit card (which is the same as not having to pay it at all, right?) – and the car can now turn corners without causing people nearby to duck for cover.

We live in a beautiful place, although we can’t buy any food, and… did I mention the 50-inch TV?

On the way home from the mechanic the car developed a strange clicking sound,  like two bits of cutlery hitting each other, which grew faster as the car went faster and louder as we continued driving…

But it’s still quieter than the stereo, so we’re not worried.

So… What I’d like to know from you folks is, how’s your week been?

:0)

Love

Tony

A Very Australian Christmas!

‘Twas the night before Christmas…

In Australia.

It’s a whole different experience!

So I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you about some of the differences between a northern hemisphere Christmas, and a southern one… For starters, it’s hot. Or, as the locals would say, ‘bloody hot mate!

I went to the beach a couple of days ago – not to do anything as crazy as sunbathing mind, just for a casual stroll around. We were there for about 20 minutes, admiring the postcard-perfect vista of golden sands and deep blue ocean. Beautiful! Then we leapt back into the air-conditioned sanctuary of the car, and counted ourselves lucky that we weren’t waiting around for public transport in the 34-degree heat – or even worse, walking home!

Still, those few moments took their toll – here’s what has been keeping me awake at night ever since:

Sun burned back

The Australian Red Back - not just a spider...

I can’t see any difference myself, but then I’m colour-blind. It makes traffic lights fun, which is one reason why I only learned to drive last month (at age 33) – that, of course, is a story for another time.

Apparently I got burned pretty badly in those 20 minutes. All because they ain’t got none o’ that Ozone Layer around these parts… This leads to very high instances of skin cancer, caused by something as simple as relaxing by the pool for just a little too long. The operation to remove them, and replace the skin with a bit from your bum, is one of the most commonly performed in Australia.  As the saying goes, ‘if you’re not careful you’ll be wearing your arse on your face!”

Although with the size of my nose, I don’t think anyone would notice.

Australian Christmas Poem

This is my take on Christmas in Australia. I was expecting it to go viral, but my Social Media ‘reach’ is not even as long as my physical reach. Yes, it’s true – I have arms like a gorilla.

Frogs.

There are frogs in Australia – just in case you didn’t know.

But they’re not… how do I say this? Normal. The don’t croak – no ‘ribbet, ribbet’ around here. No, these frogs whistle – and some make a ‘boing!’ sound, like the string of a banjo being plucked. No prize for guessing their names – the Aussies are nothing if not straightforward – the Whistling Frog and the Banjo Frog, they are. And then there’s the one that sounds like a motorbike idling at the lights… no, I’m serious! The motorbike frog fires up with a cough, then develops a ‘rmmm, RMMM, rmmm, RMMM’ type rhythm which will have you looking out of the window for unexpected guests.

Or it would, during the day.

These frogs are most vocal at night – and where we live, in what is politely referred to as a more ‘rural’ suburb… they have every one of them! It’s deafening!

But then, frogs are fairly benign. There are plenty of other critters lurking in the countryside – Australia is famous for them. Pretty much everything that crawls, walks or flies here wants a piece of you – and if there’s one way to ensure they all get one, it’s this; live in the countryside!

By way of example, last night we trapped a pretty large Huntsman Spider. Not huge – about the size of a hand – between the two sliding panes of the kitchen window. None of us were brave enough to face the thing in single combat, so we put off the decision on what to do with the creature until morning.

We had a lie in, and were baked out of bed by the sun at 9am. It was a balmy 32 degrees. One of Krista’s sisters had gotten up early to go to work, and left us this message on the snazzy neon note board:

NoticeboardThe spider was, in fact, gone. But had it escaped to the outside… or had it come in…?

We’ve yet to find out.

So if I don’t come back for a post-Christmas post, you can assume I’ve been swallowed whole by this monster and will be slowly digesting over the New Year.

On the upside, there’s one Australian Christmas tradition I was more than happy to participate in:

The buying of ridiculous amounts of booze!

The place to buy alcohol is a ‘bottle shop’ (or ‘bottlo’, as Australians are unable to pronounce a word that doesn’t end in ‘o’.). It has occasionally been referred to as a ‘grog shop’ – regardless, it’s like a supermarket dedicated to booze. And, on the day before Christmas Eve, it was RAMMED. Full to bursting. Four of us went in, and only two survived. Both showed serious signs of trolley-induced trauma, including the outline of a wheel scored into Krista’s ankle – but we staggered out under the burden of almost $250 worth of alcohol! A moderate sum, given that there will be six of us partaking of it – we saw blatantly single guys (yeah, you know the type!) manhandling seven or eight cases of beer into knackered cars – if there’s one thing Aussies can do, it’s drink.

Trolley full of boozeI know that’s what I’ll be doing!

What about you guys?