Sunday, May 31, 2009

Beatrix Potter is a fucking loony

Tonight, upon request, I read W a couple of Beatrix Potter books; The Tale of Ginger and Pickles and The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies.

Whenever I've read Beatrix Potter I remember a story my mother tells. She did her BA at the same 1970's-student-politics-branch-stacking-socialism-good-place-to-buy-an-ounce- university that I did mine a few years later. In a Eng Lit tutorial, one of her fellow students railed against Jane Austen, lambasting the poor gal and asking that important question, "where are the workers??"

In the last 25 years I've poured Guinness, beer, cider and sold wine by the glass, bottle and flagon; I've worked in a foundry, a factory, and a warehouse; washed supermarket floors; poured cocktails; argued environmentalism, planning, transport and the role of government, and never, ever once wondered where the workers are. They are us. We are them. All of us. (Oh except you mate, and you know who you are.)

But nothing brings out my junior radicalism quite like Beatrix Potter. What a fucking loony.
"..."but it would never do to eat our customers; they would leave us and go to Tabitha Twitchit's."

"On the contrary, they would go nowhere," replied Ginger gloomily. (Tabatha Twitchit kept the only other shop in the village. She did not give credit)...
"But there is no money in what is called the "till"."
Is this the death of capitalism or just the Darwinian nature of mercantilism? Hmmm.... let me try and summarise the plot:

Cat (Ginger) and dog (Pickles) have a shop. They give unlimited credit. No one pays; they have to eat their own stock. Pickles can't afford his own dog licence and has paranoid delusions about the police. They get a rates notice from the Council and decide to call it a day.

Ginger now lives in a rabbit warren and looks suspiciously stout. Pickles is a gamekeeper. Tabatha Twitchit jacks up her prices. The Dormouse family enter the candle market but fail to make an impression. Henny-penny opens a shop and does quite well. She is an idiot.

"Sally Henny-penny gets rather flustered when she tries to count out change, and she insists on being paid cash; but she is quite harmless."
Meanwhile in The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies;
"When Benjamin Bunny grew up, he married his Cousin Flopsy. They had a large family, and they were very improvident and cheerful."
Milord, the prosecution rests.

Putting aside failed shopkeepers and enough inbreeding for a volume of royal family jokes, the stories go nowhere. The plots make even less sense than real life. I mean, I never expect real life to follow a convenient narrative with a clear lesson to be learned (other than with experience, regret and occasionally some pain) but Beatrix Potter has even less narrative than real life. What is the point of these stories? What is the fucking point?? Surrealism with bunnies, perhaps? It seems unlikely.

It's funny, in the last few years I've often been annoyed at the ham-fisted attempts by children's books to teach important lessons (like sustainability) in a flurry of PC goodness. I'm pretty sure you can't teach science with fables; indeed, there's something not only hypocritical about it, it's a contradiction in terms. So when Captain Fucking Planet and the Green Gabled Warriors save the ozone layer using nothing but the love of trees and recycled toilet paper, they can go fuck themselves as far as I'm concerned.

I don't know what Beatrix Potter is trying to say; I honestly don't. But that doesn't stop Will from asking for me to read it. And I shall smile and read it some more. And then when he's old enough, we'll read PG Wodehouse. Then he'll learn who the real workers are...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More cheese

Told you I'd post about cheese again, albeit in other place.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I posted in the other place about cheese, and will probably do so again.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'm gunna complain now

Let's just look skyward for a moment and thank the pointless, vainglorious forces of the universe for this particular weekend.

It started on Friday afternoon when I rolled my ankle from taking the front step carelessly. Of course, that meant I woke up on Saturday raring to go with a sudden, desperate enthusiasm for gardening and jogging and no way of channeling it. Thankfully I'm not a big Morris dancer, a sentiment that holds on so many levels. Still, plants got trimmed, leaves were moved and turds got relocated - that's pretty much gardening, isn't it?

On Saturday we had dinner at Cafe Bedda in High Street. Lovely, perfect etc, but then at two-ish, W coughed, crouped and argued about Cartesian dualism (well, almost) until the ambulance arrived and ferried us both off to the Children's Hospital. The ambulance lads were charming, although junior ambulance lad wasn't quite sure about taking directions....

As we were driving through Queens Parade, I heard over their radio that someone was needed to collect a thirty-something stabbing victimin Brunswick. On the news this morning I heard that he not only died, but that he'd tried to intervene in a fight to protect a stranger. I'm not sure I could cope with being an ambo.

Some steroids for Will and several hours later we cabbed it home. Spending the early hours of a Saturday night in a hospital and then a cab might be normal for the Younger Person, but it was all a bit much for moi and I'm struggling to readjust to civilian life.

Today, Sunday, I visited my grandmother, shopped, cooked shakshouka.

I did everything but get the work (ie the paid work) done I wanted to. That'll do.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Senate Transcript

The Senate has now put up the transcripts from 30 March. It was probably more fun than it reads...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Rubbish, radio, food, electrician, drugs

The last week or so has been rubbish.

It kicked off on Friday night (a week ago) with a pair of unpleasant texts from a work colleague and improved shortly after with a request from a friend to forgive our mutual comrade. Forgiven, but the week has been draining.

I was on the radio again, or at least recorded a podcast.

This weekend has been busy, if not all of happy face. W and I swept up all the leaves under the fig tree, mulched the Japanese maple, fed the citrus, pruned both the fig and the lavender and fed curry to the chickens.

I also cooked like a demon, at least like a relaxed wine-glass-in-hand-cooking kind of demon, taking the long, slow road to:
  • lamb shanks with root vegetables;
  • cassoulet (the spell check is suggesting "cassowary"); and
  • the filling for a chicken, bacon and mushroom pie to have during the week.
This afternoon we went for a walk along Darebin Creek. Nothing like a marathon length, except in the mind of the dog, who clearly wondered whether it would ever end and whether we'd have to eat the wounded. Al and I installed a new bathroom light/heater/fan on a whim and had to race to get it done before darkness. Note to self: never do anything that requires turning the power off late on winter's afternoon.

It did make me realise that replacing a light fitting without an electrician is the closest I get to setting out to break the law these days. My wild-and-crazy credentials have been lost in the mail; my anarchist epaulets stripped and replaced with an honourary cable-knit cardigan (and bar). The last time buying drugs gave me a thrill was when the pharmacist gave me cold and flu tabs with real pseudoephedrine (as opposed to fake pseudoephedrine, which I suppose is ephedrine). All this conspires to make me feel that I am both older and well into my anecdotage. Did I tell you about the time that Binky, Fluffer, Fatty Narwhinkle-Smith and I set fire to time?

But, as the magistrate said to the lads he was sending to the cells following joint-and-several acts of public indecent affection, "you should take this time to pull yourselves together." So I'll try and pull myself together. In a mental health kind of way, he hastened to add.

Farewell to an old... friend?

This ... ah... amusing toy once belonged to E and was passed on to W some years ago. W's decided it's not really part of his vision for the future so has suggested retirement.

When it was new, F and E took it to church. Bill, the priest, apparently said to the assembled, "Oh, look - it says "press" on it's foot, so I should", and so it sang it's little song. In retrospect the Anglican hierarchy may not have been firing on all cylinders when they put Bill in at a white-bread, middle class, above-middle-aged Anglican church. Apart from being a decent bloke first and priest second, and he didn't have nearly enough interest in tennis for the locals.

It was Bill and his young son who helped me put in the ceiling insulation at Chez Thorn. After reminding his son a few times only to stand on the joists, he fell through the ceiling above a shocked A, then 7yo. He didn't fall all the way through, and was left with his arse hanging through the ceiling, joists under his knees.

I remember thinking at the time, "who shall rid me of this meddlesome priest", but only briefly. Poor Bill was mortified...

Anyway, this noxious toy is going the way of the dodo. Here it is giving what I can only hope is a coda of saccharine; a last hurrah of insulin-requiring nausea. This video is not to celebrate a toy, but to remember how lucky we are now that it's gone.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pretty Flowers

Pretty flowers, courtesy of Auntie Holga.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Reflection on red meat

In the absence of a post here, confirmation (at least to myself) that I haven't stopped writing for pleasure here.