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The Naked Truth – Skinny Dipping in Perth

In my eternal quest to find exciting things to do things that make me look stupid, I stumbled across a whopper – no, not a Burger King meal, but an event taking place in my home town of Perth that I couldn’t possibly resist:

Get Naked BannerThe World’s Biggest Skinny Dip!

Well, an attempt at least; there would be Guinness World Record people in attendance, official sarongs as prizes and the chance to contribute to a worthy cause about positive body image… blah blah blah.

Hell, it was a chance to get NAKED IN PUBLIC! Without BEING ARRESTED!

Naked SwimmersAs some of you may know, I like being naked. I’m naked right now if fact, which is why I’m using a lap-desk so my Macbook doesn’t burn my willy. Besides, I quite fancy the idea of setting a World Record. I’m never going to achieve one on my own (unless they count Star Wars Trivial Pursuit), so joining in with a group effort was the only way forward.

A few years back I joined in an attempt to set the world record for ‘Most People Twisting On The Beach’. It was an effort doomed to failure, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it was held in my parent’s home town of Burnham-on-Sea; a retirement hotspot, where the population has an average age of 70. Burnham was actually featured in the book ’50 Worst Places To Live In The UK’ – but not until no.47. Possibly the biggest mistake though, was holding the event in the middle of winter.

The existing record holder was a tourist town in southern Spain, famed for its golden sand and party atmosphere. Whereas Burham-on-Sea is famed for its extensive mud flats and having the shortest pier in the UK. I’ve been on it; it’s crap.

Burnham Beach

Burnham-on-Sea Beach. Complete with pier. Told you it was crap!

The local radio station parked a bus on the beach, and my parents and I showed up ready to twist.

It rained. Unsurprisingly.

We twisted anyway, but with less than fifty people on the beach, most of them well over retirement age, there was real danger that if we kept it up much longer someone was going to break a hip. Or die of hypothermia. So the attempt was officially abandoned, and we slunk away in shame.

But this would be different – if for no other reason than it was being held in Perth, city of infinite sunshine and home to over one-and-a-half-million fun-loving souls.

The day dawned cold and grey, which was a bit of a shock. I stood in my back garden and held my hand out – it was raining! Absolute BASTARDS! It hasn’t rained in Perth since November – five completely dry months – and then this.

Dark SkyAs Roo dropped me off at the station, the sky looked dark and threatening.

“Won’t you be cold?” she asked.

“Nah. I’m from England! This is midsummer as far as I’m concerned.”

(In Northern England a man is not allowed to admit to being cold unless his testicles have actually frozen solid to something. This happens more often that you’d think.)

“Okay…” Roo didn’t sound convinced. “Would you like to borrow my jumper?”

I looked at her. She was wearing this:

Roos Jumper“No thanks,” I said, “because your jumper is bright yellow and made of string. I’d be better insulated if I stapled a paper napkin to my chest.”

“Fair enough.”

So she left me to it. Alone on the platform.

Travelling through Perth at 7am on a Sunday was a relaxing affair; I think I saw about fifteen people in almost two hours of train and bus travel.

Empty EscalatorsEmpty Train TunnelI found my way to the event and queued up to check in. Three cute chicks joined the line immediately behind me, one of them wondering aloud if we’d be going in all at once, or in groups.

“If we do it by group by group, I’d pity the bugger that went in first,” I said.

They laughed. With the ice broken I thought about asking if I could hang out (no pun intended) with them; being on my own was going to be the toughest part of this gig. But then my brain went into paranoia overdrive: “Are they too pretty? Will they think I’m trying to hit on them? Will they look at me with disgust? Will it destroy my confidence, so I’ll spent the rest of the day alone, lurking on the fringes, naked and friendless…”

No. Much easier to find someone ugly, and try to make friends with them.

Skinny Dip Crowds

Plenty to choose from!

It didn’t happen that way, of course. The girls ended up getting changed next to me, as none of us could be bothered waiting for the tiny cubicle-tents to become available. And then another bloke joined them, and suddenly it all seemed very above-board again. I wandered over.

“Do you mind me hanging out with you guys? My wife didn’t want to come with me, and I don’t have any friends here.” I probably could have phrased that better, but I was desperately trying not to sound desperate. And I was still failing.

Luckily, Aussie women are a strong, yet friendly breed. They gave me the typical Aussie answer to everything, from borrowing a sausage to (apparently) getting naked together: “Yeah, no worries!”

“So, you’re new to Perth?” one of the girls asked. “How long have you been here?”

“Ah… on and off… about six years…”

Skinny Dip Swanbourne PerthWe were called to the beach in our pre-assigned groups – I was a ‘Sweet Strawberry’, and my new friends were ‘Precious Plums’.

We milled around on the beach a bit, trying to keep warm, and eyed up the gigantic waves crashing against the shore.

“Looks really rough,” someone commented, and they were right; the iron-grey sea was foaming in anger. A call went out for the more confident swimmers to move to the front. That was me!

And then the sarongs came off, and everyone was sprinting into the surf.

Sea Full of Nudies

Possibly it looked something like this! (Taken on an earlier attempt in New Zealand.)

Bare ass and boobies bounced before me as I raced headlong into the water. I dived, came up swimming strongly, and made my way out to the furthest edge of the area, where lifeguards were patrolling in canoes. The ball-shrivelling cold faded quickly, as my body adjusted to the temperature. Then my legs went numb.

The waves were gigantic, battering the participants and slamming us into each other. I was loving it – the sea reared up, throwing me around like a rollercoaster, and each new wave was greeted with shrieks of awe and fear from the surrounding swimmers. It was extreme-nude-swimming, a sport which, if it doesn’t already exist, certainly should. Hell, I might go and found it right now!

I was enjoying myself immensely. But then I noticed two of the girls I’d met being brought in on the lifeguard’s surfboard. A glance at shore showed that a good hundred or so naked people were still on the beach, too intimidated by the waves to risk entering the water.

Then a horn went off, and the event marshals began beckoning us back to shore. The attempt was over.

As I reached the shallows and put my feet down, a cry went out from the beach. I turned just as the mother of all waves crashed down on me, tumbling me head over heels and depositing me on the sand a good way up the beach.

I opened my eyes to see a crowd of people looking down at me with concern in their eyes. Naked people.

Was this heaven?

Probably not, I thought, as I vomited up a lung full of sea water.

Later, fully clothed once more, I called Roo to give her the news. On the upside, I’d had an amazing time, met some really cool people, and got to run around with my cock out like… well, like me at every party I’ve ever attended.

On the downside, no records had been broken; 671 people had shown up and stripped off, just 73 short of the previous record. Damn it!

They’d called off the attempt halfway through due to the dangerous conditions, and at least one bloke had been brought in by the lifeguards, strapped to a board with a suspected spinal injury. So, it hadn’t all been fun and games.

Spinal Injury

It could always be worse… for this bloke, it was.

Roo answered the phone. She’d taken advantage of my absence to go shopping with her sister.

“I won’t be able to pick you up from the train station for a while, I’m afraid,” she explained.

“No worries! I’ll go into the city and celebrate with a pint.”

“Oh, that’s good then. Only…”

“Only what?”

“Well, will you be okay? You won’t be embarrassed, you know, going for a drink on your own?”

I had to smile at that.

“Honestly, after what I’ve just done… I think I’ll manage.”

So, the word flying around on the internet is that we were SO close – and that the weather is to blame. Who’d have thought it? Especially seeing as the sun came out mere minutes after we left the beach, and I got so sunburnt walking through town to get my pint that I now have a permanent t-shirt tan.

Beach Afterwards

Ten minutes later, it cleared right up!

Maybe God really does hate naked people?

Ah well. The naked citizens of Perth are unbowed. Hell, they’re trying again next year…

I’m going. How about you?

My-Grain Headache

As some of you may know, a few weeks ago I did the unthinkable; I turned traitor. Yes, folks, I broke my solemn vow, taken at the end of 2009, to never again work for anyone else – and I got a real job.

Well, kind of.

In my defence I’d like to say that, firstly, I thought it was a voluntary position when I applied for it, and secondly – they’re paying me a shitload of cash for the privilege!

Now, you could be forgiven for wondering, just what it is that I do at this job.

As it happens, I’ve been wondering the same thing myself.

I’ve been working on the show for three weeks so far, and I still haven’t got a clue what I’m doing. But it does seem to involve a lot of rice.

The Rice Show

Basically, I’ve been hired to be part of the art installation ‘Of All The People In All The World’, created by British theatre company Stan’s Café. Quite how I landed a job as an artist is a matter of debate. I’d just like to point out that at no point was I required to sleep with anyone. For any reason. Unfortunately.

So this is what happens: we use one grain of rice to represent one person (whether it be you, the Prime Minister, or Michael Jackson). Then we build up piles of rice to show off different numbers – the population of Australia, for example, is represented by a large mound containing twenty-two million grains of rice!

It’s very nearly as big as the pile representing all the registered gamers of World of Warcraft

Big Pile Of RiceIt’s this kind of juxtaposition of different statistics which makes the show what it is. Once you can see a hundred million of something in one place – and with a grain of rice in your hand as ‘you’ for comparison purposes – you can actually understand something about the scale of these numbers. Otherwise, I find any number containing a big string of zeroes to be a sort of abstract concept. I hear it, on the news for example: ten million people… blah blah blah… and I think to myself, “Wow, that sounds like a lot.” But without the ability to visualise it, a number that big doesn’t really have much meaning to me. Now, after not only seeing ten million grains of rice in one place, but actually counting the damn stuff out – I can fully appreciate how big these numbers are.

I can honestly say – they’re really, really big.

Maybe even bigger.

So, I pour rice. I started off by carrying and stacking sacks of it (which weighed 25kg each) – in assorted pyramid shapes to form the largest piles of the exhibition. It was bloody hard work, and I sweated so much I decided to wear underpants the following day. So it didn’t look quite so much like I’d pissed my pants, y’see.

Pyramid of rice sacksEight hundred and six million grains of rice.

And no, I didn’t count them one at a time…

I counted the bags though. 348 of the buggers! And one trip to the chiropractor, to get my spine to bend the right way again afterwards. It’s been through so much, it’s got more kinks than my Dad’s CD collection.

Anyway. With the stacking and the pouring mostly taken care of, my job has devolved to that of a sweeper. I constantly roam the piles, seeking out dust and dirt to remove (as no-one wants to get a face full of fluff when they crouch down to appreciate the number of people who had plastic surgery last year).

I hunt spiders; I talk to the public, explaining why they would benefit from spending half the day staring at huge piles of rice. I occasionally caution a bad-mannered child, or tackle a drunk who is convinced that underneath our rice is the only place he can hide from the government helicopters…

But most of all, I walk around and around the hall, approaching pile after glistening pile of rice – and sweeping away all the pubic hairs.

Pubic Hair On Rice

Pubic Hair On Rice: Not even popular in Asia…

Yes! Where the hell do they come from? Well, to be honest I’d rather not know. But someone is distributing them, fairly evenly, around the entire exhibition – day after day after day! They’re short, black and curly (the hairs, I mean) – and any more than that, I shall not say.

Other than to wonder – to marvel, really – at how this can possibly happen, in the middle of a wide-open public space, without anyone noticing.

But if you’re reading this, and it’s you that’s doing it – please, please bugger off! Or at least, go trim yourself in the privacy of your own home. And dispose of the evidence in a similar fashion.

Because I don’t care what anyone says – it’s just not art.

I also remove footprints from the otherwise pristine white paper on which the rice piles are placed. No-one ever walks on it while I’m looking, but every bugger in the place must be tap-dancing on the stuff as soon as my back is turned, given how many footprints I get rid of every day. For this task I use my trusty eraser – and I can honestly say I haven’t done so much rubbing out since I worked as an assassin for the British government.

What? No, I mean… um, let’s just forget I said that.

[PICTURE ‘Tony-mid-assassination/uploads/facebook.jpg’ HAS BEEN BLOCKED BY THE OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR GENERAL]

We (by this I mean, my fellow pube-sweepers and I) get asked a variety of questions each day, but there are some that crop up fairly regularly. Like: “What do you do with the rice afterwards?”

The answer, of course, is that giant betentacled robots descend from the heavens and annihilate it with bolts of pure anti-rice from their navel-lasers. Oh, but we get to eat any bits that they miss.

We also get asked, “Has anyone ever taken a running jump into the rice?”

The answer, of course, is “No, of course no-ooOOOOOOOOO!”

*CRUNCH*

Because a four-year-old child had chosen that precise moment to do just that.

And so, out came the brushes.

Luckily enough he didn’t dive head-first – because, as I have a habit of pointing out to people considering it, rice is actually quite dense. Not to mention, most of the piles are cunningly constructed from those fully-packed 25kg sacks, with just enough loose rice drizzled over the top to maintain the illusion. So, diving into one of our piles is rather similar to diving into a large pile of bricks.

But no damage this time. Other than to the OAP population of Europe, which took a beating… I’ve never seen pensioners move so fast. The culprit survived with a vicious tongue-lashing from his mother. His friend, nearby, was distinctly unimpressed.

Disinterested Boy

Working on the show has also given me chance to ponder many of the more sobering statistics we showcase. Like how each day, nearly twice as many people are born in the world as die in it – making it disturbingly obvious just where the our population is headed.

And then there’s the positives; like when weighing out 3,327 grams of rice to represent the planet’s 200,000-person population increase since yesterday (scary, eh?!) – I had a ‘YES!’ moment.

I opened a sack and tipped a load onto the scales – only to get it exactly right, to the grain! In one go!

I looked around in excitement for someone to share my triumph with – only to discover that no-one was watching.

And even if they had been, they still wouldn’t give a shit.

But it made me very happy nonetheless.

And on that note, I shall leave you with a couple more pictures of Megan Fox naked. No? Really? Sorry, my mistake. That’ll be more pictures of piles of rice then… you lucky, lucky people!

And please, use the comments box to exercise your very best rice-based puns, because I hear so few of them. Go on – I dare you!

:0)

 

Rice Show Religious ControversyDunno if you can make this one out, but it’s a fascinating insight into the nature of religion in Australia. In that, the sixth largest religion (according to the Census) – is Jedi. Both Roo and I are in that pile…

Rice Show China

Yet More Big Piles Of Rice at The Rice Show

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

 

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