Rank outsider

December 29, 2017 at 7:01 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Paul-Taxi-300x201

I was so crap at this …

I was hurtling along Melbourne’s Nepean Highway with a family of four in my hideous taxi.

I’d picked them up from the international airport.

With a four-hour window in their global sojourn, they’d organised to meet long-lost relatives in a bayside suburb.

Time was precious.

‘Leave it to me!’ I said, flooring the accelerator.

Having read most of Wilbur Smith in the endless cab queue, I was elated to escape with such a massive fare.

It was a glorious Sunday – fine weather, light winds, little traffic.

For once, the tires and engine sang.

Smiling, I watched the meter tally my burgeoning wealth.

Even the smashed gas cylinder indicator seemed to wink.

The family chattered excitedly about their impending reunion.

Lovely day for the seaside, I thought, as the sun stroked my face.

Brighton …

… Chelsea …

Funny how we inherited so many names from England …

… I wonder if they’re both by the sea … like they are here …

After 40 minutes, the wife asked how much longer we’d be.

‘Not long now!’ I replied cheerily.

To be on the safe side, I glanced at my map. Yep. Chelsea was just ten more lucrative clicks south.

‘I didn’t think it’d be this far’, she said. ‘Are you sure this is the way to Brighton?’

‘Brighton?’

(We’d passed it 20 minutes ago.)

‘Yes. We said Brighton.’

With beet face and white heart, I threw a screaming 180 and backpedalled furiously.

My sunny reverie had slashed this family’s face time (in a time before FaceTime).

I switched off the meter and apologised ALL the way back.

The wife was chillingly silent.

The teen kids vocally hostile.

Only the husband, sitting next to me, responded to my vomitous mea culpa.

When we finally got to the restaurant, surly kin shot my tyres with daggers.

(This was before we all had mobile phones, you see.)

Completely overwrought, I refused payment and tried to make a getaway.

But the husband pressed notes into my hand and said, ‘These things happen’.

He even …

tipped me!

Despite his kindness, my massive service fail haunts me to this day.

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

 

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Haz bean

August 16, 2017 at 11:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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My counsellor wants to demonstrate what we’re doing.

She fetches a cup, a plate, and a jar of coffee beans.

‘Smell these! Wonderful, isn’t it?’

It is.

She puts the plate on a low table.

And the cup on the plate.

‘This is the child’s mind.’

She pours beans into the cup.

‘When trauma occurs, the young mind can’t take it all in.’

Beans spill onto the plate.

‘When the brain is full, additional information is forced to go elsewhere.’

Beans skitter across the table.

Bounce onto the floor.

‘Each of these beans is a part of the child’s mind. Split off, but containing valuable information. Our task is to bring these back to the main brain.’

I get it.

I go home.

My wife asks how I went.

I want to show her.

We have no coffee beans, so I cast around for a substitute.

Corks.

I need a bigger cup and a bigger plate.

I’m faintly surprised I have more than enough corks with which to demonstrate.

I pour them and tell the tale.

They’re a lot bouncier than beans.

One launches off the kitchen bench.

It’s immediately snatched by our Jack Russell terrier, who capers off with it down the hall.

My wife gets the idea.

Next time, I tell the counsellor what happened.

She tries to stifle her laughter.

I assure her it’s OK.

All my medicos laugh.

When she regains her composure, she says that a dog running off with a cork is actually an excellent metaphor for a dissociated part.

I say I’m glad,

and that I greatly look forward to getting all my bits back.

We return to our work.

 

Pic by Roger Karlsson.


To keep me in coffee, you may wish to

Whatever the sum, I’ll toast your health.


Moreish

January 28, 2017 at 11:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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cook-and-more

Swipe right?

One of my least satisfying copywriting clients was my father.

He craved female beauty, company and utility.

Especially after my mother’s death.

In his mid-70s, he asked me to write a personal ad for the local rag.

I wasn’t keen, as I knew that the brief, product, market and customer would be difficult – if not impossible.

Then again, as he’d refused to read any of my fiction, I was curious to see what it would look like.

He wanted a woman who was much slimmer, younger, better dressed and more attractive than he.

She had to be sufficiently educated to appreciate and applaud (but neither exceed nor challenge) his gargantuan knowledge and wit.

She also needed a specific sense of humour.

His.

To convey this mandatory criterion, he insisted the ad include the line:

‘Must love Cook and Moore.’

By this he meant the comedy duo of which he was a fan.

I tried to explain that such a rigorous standard could severely curtail replies, but he was adamant.

And so the ad ran.

On my next visit, I asked how he’d fared.

He said that only one female – ‘of limited intellect and heavy Eastern European extraction’ – had phoned with a riposte:

‘I am cook.

What is “more”?’


This blog runs on (instant) coffee.

Any sum appertaining thereto would be much appreciated and long recalled.


Kebub

January 15, 2017 at 7:28 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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This is my first memory (so far) so feel free to skip it.

I’m lying on my back in a small bedroom in suburban Melbourne.

Beneath me the white, relatively rough toweling of a many-times-washed nappy.

Not one of today’s supermarket disposables.

An old, analogue version.

The type that began square and was somehow folded to approximate an infant’s pelvis.

With wrapping done, there remained the task of fastening.

For this there were enormous (to me) ‘safety’ pins – likely made in England.

Long, strong and sharp: to penetrate the many folds.

The ‘safety’ bit was a (baby blue) metal cap that slid over the workings once each pin was in place.

I don’t recall this device malfunctioning, but I feared it doing so.

I do recall strong fingers simultaneously holding a stacked fabric corner and striving to penetrate all layers without ‘overshooting’.

I remember worrying that it may be tricky to arrest a pin’s progress into my flesh should it pass through warp and weft with unexpected alacrity or ease.

I also recall two types of strong fingers wielding these fasteners.

This may be a manufactured memory.

Nor, of course, did I possess any descriptors.

The first type of strength was my mother’s.

Skilled. Determined. Busy. Efficient.

The second type was my father’s.

Coarse. Hurried. Annoyed. Not to be bested.

I feared both kinds of force – lest I be pinned to the bed.

But the first kind, less so.

I was thus much relieved when the ultimate pin withdrew,

freeing me for new

(though not always exciting)

experiences.

Mother load

May 18, 2015 at 10:51 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments
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On reflection, life seems largely composed of small fragments.

Some pack more punch than others …

I was visiting a packing and sending place.

It was hot out and not much better in, as an open loading bay countered the office air conditioning.

After a while, a flushed woman emerged from a corral of half-wrapped plasma screens.

Her smile was drawn.

To her right, a baby inched off a foam mat.

From another room came toddler talk, followed by a clattering sound.

‘What are you doing, Jason?’

‘Jason?’

CRASH!!!

The woman dashed to the noise.

She returned to the counter with an apology.

I asked for a quote to send my package.

She rifled back and forth through a price book that looked as worn as she did.

Finally, with what seemed great mental effort, she calculated the fee.

I chose to buy cardboard tubing and post it myself.

As the woman cut the tubing to size, she nudged the baby back onto the mat and glanced to her left for Jason.

He emerged from her right and confronted me with a large, whippy, metal tape measure.

The woman disarmed him and shepherded him back with the tube before laying it on the counter.

‘Five dollars, thanks.’

‘No worries; could I have a receipt please?’

‘Sure.’

As she took out an old-fashioned receipt book, the phone rang: a customer inquiry.

She put the prospect on hold, fished for carbon paper and failed to find a blank receipt.

She fossicked in a drawer for another book with such mounting despair that I told her not to worry.

But she pressed on, scribbling out the details of a cancelled receipt and writing mine.

I apologised for taking up so much of her time for a measly five bucks.

She nodded her thanks and returned to the phone, but the prospect had hung up.

Jason vanished.

The baby crawled.

The plasma screens beckoned.

And the hot wind slammed the front door behind me.

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

 

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