My Top 10 Holidays in Hell

Lockdown Again. Sometimes, staying home is the better choice. This article was published in 2007 in the Herald Sun and The Advertiser (SA)

We all have an air-brushed image of what a Perfect Holiday should look like. Maybe you see yourself, Copacabana cocktail in hand, lazily watching the waves gently lapping in the tropical sunset as the children happily build sandcastles in the pristine sand. Reality, however, might deliver squadrons of death-dive mosquitos, prickly sunburnt flesh, whinging, niggly kids, gale force winds sandblasting legs, and cabin neighbours of the doof-doof booming rave party kind. Here’s my reality, my Top Ten Holidays in Hell.

  1. Sailing the Whitsunday Passage. Location is important. We head out in the hire yacht come fiberglass bathtub when the cyclone hits. The waves kick up. We don storm gear and harnesses and my beloved struggles to drop the mainsail. He drops it and the boom — there’s no topping lift apparently – on my head. We limp wounded and weary into the rocky bossom of Nara Inlet. Every rock face is graffitied by yachties. We spend five days in a pointy-ended double bed reading Jesus Saves and Windcatcher II on paint-splattered rocks and go home. 
  2. Darwin. Timing is everything. I’m in Darwin the weekend of the year 12 end-of-year socials. They book out every other room in the hotel. It’s like being trapped with the Austrian Screaming Choir and Door-Slammers Convention. At 4am all is quiet, briefly. Then they start throwing up.
  3. Haverford West, Wales. Safety is an issue. With boarded-up shops and hotel, we feel uneasy. Alas, the town is not so much protected as deserted. Haverford West reached its peak in 1625. The highlight of the town is a pillar with a plaque stating that William Nichol was burnt at the stake ‘on this spot’ in 1558. The last good night out in Haverford West. 
  4. Drunen, Holland. Local customs lead to misunderstandings. It’s Tres Konika when the old Christmas Trees are burnt a few days after Christmas. We head out on bicycles to watch the bonfires and fireworks, but the fireworks are homemade. Skyrockets spiral out of control and hit neighbours windows. Crackers go ‘boom’ not’ bang’. It was like being caught in a mini-war on bicycles. I cycled for my life.
  5. The White Cliffs of Dover. Unrealistic expectations mean trouble. This is the big family trip. This will be educational for the kids I assume. In Hong Kong, we buy Game Boys. Travelling through Europe by car, train, and boat all I can hear is ‘Ping. Ping. Ping’ beside me. I make them look at important landmarks. They pause their Game Boys look up, nod, and return to the game. Approaching England by ferry one kid is seasick the other is glued to the Game Boy. There were Mario Brothers over the White Cliffs of Dover. Educational content nil. Game Boy scores excellent.
  6. Italy. It pays to consult a reputable Travel Book except in Italy. Establishments close in Italy on a random basis. We managed to visit Italy the week it was shut. Florence. Lucca. Pisa. Shut. Even restaurants. We were so desperate we ate at a Castrol Service Station café. But God Bless the Italians. Even at a service station, the food was superb.
  7. Warner World, Queensland. Convivial travel companions are a must so why do we travel with the family? Convivial they ain’t. We arrive at the gates of Warner Brothers and the 6-year-old refuses to go in. I can hardly get her in a headlock and drag her in. Two hours of terrorist negotiation in the car park reaches a one-ride-only compromise. I walk in the gate and tell Batman to ‘Get lost’. Never again. She says ‘It was great.’ 
  8. Greece. Food hygiene awareness is vital when travelling. In the land of my cousin will do it, I get two bouts of food poisoning. Too many health inspectors have cousins in the restaurant business, I guess. With one bunged up a knee from netball, I’m wobbling along with a walking stick. Delphi is the first stop of this Salmonella Tour. Know Thyself is inscribed here. Know Thy plumbing is more relevant and to add to this agony I have to hop.
  9. Germany. Terrorist threats can impede travel especially if authorities think you are a terrorist. It’s the seventies. I’m travelling with my svelte beloved who has long hair, beard, and denim shirt. He’s suspected of belonging to the Bader Meinhoff cell. We’re stopped by a police blockade with machine guns pointing at us. It’s scary. The police are wearing ill-fitting green uniforms and scraggly long hair poking out of battered caps. It’s like being arrested by Melbourne Tram conductors. They want proof of identity. Not the passport. Not travel documents. Not credit cards. They go through every bit of our luggage and spread it out on the side of the road. An old battered, folded blue sheet of paper saves us. It’s titled Victorian Drivers License. 
  10. Disneyland, USA. Weather counts. The first trip it’s a sunny holiday weekend in LA. Disneyland is packed. It’s a 4-hour wait for some rides. Half an hour wait for the toilet. You could join a queue without knowing exactly where it led. We see Mickey Mouse at a distance. It’s the first time I’ve seen a mouse overrun by a plague of people. Disneyland rates my top hell-hole holiday billing because we didn’t learn from the first trip. We went back ten years later. This time El Nino had hit the coast of California. There is torrential rain and mudslides. Disneyland is awash. Main St is under 10cm of water. The Matterhorn bobsleds fill with water. It sloshes over your front on the way up the mountain and over your back on the way down. But there are no people. We walk into the Pirates of the Caribbean ride feeling like wet, bedraggled pirate hands. A few lashes of the cat o’ninetails would have only added to the experience. 

Sometimes staying home is the best option.

To Bless Gay Weddings, Vote Me Pope

I wrote this article for The Canberra Times in 2013. Sadly, it’s just as relevant today. This is an edited version.

I believe a vacancy is about to arise in your esteemed organisation and I forthwith put myself forward for consideration for the position of Pope for the 21st Century. My credentials for the position are extensive.

I have read The Da Vinci Code. So I’m fully aware of the lunatic nature of albino monk assassins and the dangers of carrying anti-matter in the papal helicopter. Or was that Demons and Angels?

 

On a personal level, I was baptised at St Kevin’s Parish Church, went to the parish school, and attended so many funerals by the age of 11 the smell of incense terrifies me as I think I must be dead. I know my school catechism by heart (Do you believe in God? I believe in God the Father almighty creator of Heaven and earth) and the Apostle’s Creed (I believe in God the Father almighty creator of Heaven and earth … Ah, bit of overlap there). I can also mumble an extensive range of hymns (Faith of our fathers! Holy faith! We will be true to thee till death!) I suspect, however, that ‘Faith of our fathers, living still/In spite of dungeon, fire and sword’ might need a little update.

 

In Grade 2 I studied the pictorial Book of Martyrs. The graphic pictures included St Sebastian at the stake stuck with arrows and spurting blood and John the Baptist with his head on a silver platter with, I swear, a piece of parsley. To be honest, it put me off the career path of martyr.

I think I’m more suited to Pope. The gold jewellery, the yards of silk, the sweet slippers, the adorable capes along with 1.5 million followers on Twitter. Celebrities would die for that PR.

I wrote JMJ (Jesus, Mary and Joseph) at the top of every work page but still got answers wrong. No miracles there. I know how to pray, although, to be honest; my family holds the land speed record for saying the Hail Mary.

I wouldn’t be the first female pope. Some say Pope Joan did a good job until you lot stoned her to death. Fast-tracking me to Pope could rebalance 2,000 years of male domination.

As Her Holiness, I’d assume the name Pope Maria taken from The Sound of Music. As a virgin with 7 children, Maria is an ideal role model. 

My modernisation program would involve rewriting the 10 Commandments (Thou shalt not kill. This includes you too America.), making St Peter’s Basilica more homely (a few bean bags should do the trick), admitting fallibility (Church numbers are way down. Something’s wrong) and inviting women to be priests to stop the priesthood turning into an exclusive club of celibate, frock-wearing geriatrics.

My attendance at mass has dropped off, well, permanently of late. When I last fronted a mass and saw the communion wafers and wine I thought ‘a little camembert would be nice’. Obviously, I need a grace upgrade. But I do know Christ’s teachings.

Jesus never said ‘go and grab the best real estate and build monuments to the glory of architecture using cheap labour’. Nor did he say, ‘fill my churches with gold and precious stones looted from native people’s in pagan dominions’. He never said ‘argue among yourselves over the wording of the bible, so you splinter into fractious and violent sects’ although ‘transubstantiation’ is a big word. But it’s not in the bible.

Christ never commanded the crusades, the Inquisition, or the Irish squabbles so we can only assume that there have been leadership problems for about, say, 2,000 years.

Mostly, however, I want to produce a kinder, gentler, more humble, and less judgmental leadership with less pomp and ceremony and more care for the poor, the sick, the marginalised, and the neglected.

Something much closer to Christ’s teachings. Something, I think, more like the Salvos. And I’d be the first Pope to whip it up with the trombone.

Yours Faithfully, KC

My First Day at School Ever

It is easy to forget how a 5 year old thinks. The world looks totally weird to a 5 year old. In 1997, when this article was first published, I received many letters from junior school teachers saying ‘Soooo true.’

kid going to schoolI wented to school today. ‘Cos I’m big. I have a big bag for school. My mum she put my lunch box in my bag and said ‘ Don’t forget to eat it.’ But I won’t eat my lunch box. That’s silly.

 I have a school hat. It’s big. It goes down to my nose. And I have to put my head back, right back, to see things.  And I falled over my bag. But you’ve gotta have to wear your hat because ‘otherwise you’re dead.’ That’s what my sister says. But the teachers they don’t wear hats. They’ll be dead soon.

 When we gotted to school my mum wouldn’t let go of my hand. Ami from my kinder was crying.  But I’m big. I can do big jumps. I can do wrestling. I can punch dragons. I can. My sister. She’s Grade Free. She says ya can’t punch dragons ‘cos they will barbecue you with one breath.  But you can punch dragons. When they’re asleep.

 My school is called St Hello Wishes. And it’s big. It’s more bigger than Africa. But my school hasn’t got lions because they eat people. But teachers think there is lions. Because that’s what the teacher says when you go to school. She says ‘Get in a lion boys and girls.’

Get in a Lion, Kids published Herald Sun (24 Jan 1997) and as The First Day of School, The Advertiser (SA 27 Jan 1997). Read full article: My First Day at School Ever

Also, for kids starting High School see: Sometimes It’s the Class Clown that Performs Well in Life

Captain Hook and the History of Oz

From Charming and Colliding Blog

From Charming and Colliding Blog

FROM THE ARCHIVES:

Ministers of Education have been alarmed in the past to discover Australian High School Students know very little about the history of this country. The following essay by Ashlee M, Year 8, Coolathanu High is believed to be included in some bureaucratic report somewhere.

Australia is a large incontinent that lies in the Specific Ocean except for Tasmania which doesn’t know where it is. Australia is very hot because the Topic of Popracorn is in Queensland somewhere, which means Queenslanders are sweaty and can grow topical plants in their ears. But the most important topic is the topic of Cancer because if youse get sunburnt, Omigod, ya gonna die.

Full Article: Captain Hook and the History of Oz

My 5 Raunchy (and Hilarious) Rules for Writing an O-O-OMG Sex Scene!

THIS WRITER’S LIFE: So I was writing my novel. TARGET 91,  when 2 of my characters were up for it!

What the hell!!!!

You will find my 5 Raunchy (and hilarious) Rules for Writing an O-O-OMG Sex Scene here.

My novel, TARGET 91, with more than one O-O-OMG sex scenes, is on AMAZON  USA, UK, and AUS.

Also KOBOSMASHWORDS, and Barnes&Noble NOOK and Apple iBook.

Are Engineers Sexy?

This article circulated for 5 or 6 years on the internet. Engineers, it seems, don’t get much press! I wrote it 15 years ago, but it still has currency.

Are Engineers Sexy?

by Kerry Cue

Herald Sun 6 July 2004 and The Advertiser, SA. 

It has been ordained by the gods of television that all jobs and/or careers shall be seen now and again in a positive light on TV. Doctors, cops, lawyers, nurses, and even vets enjoy their moments of digital glory. Chefs, landscape gardeners, carpenters, and even real estate agents are now pin-up boys. The girls in these shows are hot. Any girl who can look good and knock up a coffee table that a bloke can plonk his feet on has to be a babe. There have been intense pathologists (McCallum for one), gorgeous undertakers (in Six Feet Under), legendary lover-boy/pizza delivery boyos (in Pizza Live) and cute butchers dancing in an ad like Hare Krishnas for carnivores.

Recently, TV even gave us a sexy accountant. In Loot, Jason Donovan played an edgy Forensic Accountant who tracks down Mafia bosses. Every job/career gets some good PR on TV except one group. Engineers. Engineers have long endured a bad press. There are jokes about engineers. Here is one. How do you torture an engineer? Tie him to a chair and fold a map incorrectly in front of him. There are Engineer Quizzes. Are You an Engineer? You are if you own one or more white sleeved shirts if your chequebook balances if you’ve ever tried to repair a $5 radio and if you have a neatly sorted collection of nuts and bolts in the garage. There is even a comic strip about an engineer. Dilbert’s an electrical engineer. He loves his computer more than people. And has the social skills of a mouse pad. Moreover, the public image of an engineer is a tragic cross between a computer nerd and a trainspotter.

Is this fair? I’m in a good position to comment. I have studied engineering. I hang out with engineers. I married one. And it is true that engineers of the male variety suffer a mental disturbance that has bestowed on them excessively ordered minds. A straight line is a thing of beauty to an engineer, a bowling green a well-designed garden. They are dedicated to the horizontal and vertical. This has caused strife at our place. We live on a steep slope. Workers asked me if I wanted our new pullout clothesline leveled-off or leaning down the hill. ‘Just whack it down the hill’ I replied. This apparently defied all laws of the universe. It caused lasting pain to HRH (His Royal Horizontalness). He moaned. He groaned. ‘But the towels hang straight’ I encouraged. He eventually took to it with a hacksaw.

Engineers can calculate in their heads how many lights were left on and for how long just looking at the electricity bill. They suffer an urge to know what lies beneath and pull things like the hairdryer apart just when you want to use it. They like specifications. And read all the technical information on appliance advertisements insisting that the X50-100 is much better than the RP90 so they should buy one. Our dog conformed to a list of specifications. Small. No hair loss. Non-aggressive. Engineers understand technology possibly more than people. HRH often looks at me as if I need to be rebooted to knock out the glitches in my program. But engineers aren’t computer geeks. There are a few. But engineers end up under bridges, inside reactor vessels and inspecting pipelines in Alaska. They’re more a cross between a flawed human-calculator like Dustan Hoffman’s ‘Rain Man’ and Indiana Jones. An engineer friend of HRH was recently blown up in a car bomb in Iraq. So they’re not nerdy.

Then for one brief and dizzy moment, I thought engineers were about to get their few moments of glory on TV. The ABC is currently screening the ‘Seven Wonders of the Industrial World’. Would these programs portray the engineer as a hero? Will engineers, at last, be seen as sexy? In these shows, the engineer is portrayed as an obsessive mathematical genius stumbling from one organisational disaster to the next. Each project is a bureaucratic nightmare. It involves cost overruns, government intervention, investor panic, dodgy subcontractors, worker rebellion and safety issues. In fact, each of the Seven Wonders of the Industrial World sounds like any major project in modern times.

Sadly, the show missed the significance of engineers. Engineers may be nuts, but not one pipeline, powerline, car or dam; not one skyscraper, bus, house, train line or highway; not one bridge, footy stadium, sound system, TV station or power station in this city would exist without them.

Kerry Cue is a humorist, journalist, mathematician, and author. You can find more of her writing on her blog. Her latest book is a crime novel, Target 91, Penmore Press, Tucson, AZ (2019)

 

3 Court Martials, 1 Senate Inquiry, an Aussie lad goes to War

Michael O'Donnell 20th Rein 14th Batt, 1916

Michael O’Donnell
20th Rein 14th Batt, 1916

It is 100 years since the end of WW1. That seems like a long time ago. When I explain that my grandfather’s elder brother  Michael O’Donnell was killed in that war at Bullecourt, France in 1917, the story loses the dust of history and sounds closer to us.

This is the story about a young man who was Court Martialed 3 times, held with enemy prisoners and  finally allowed to go to war following a Senate Inquiry.

It is also a story about duty, loyalty and honour and how much we Aussies have changed today.

…………………………………………………

Michael O'Donnell Postcard 1911 Remembering 1910 March Melbourne to Bendigo

Michael O’Donnell
Postcard 1911
Remembering 1910 March Melbourne to Bendigo

The sound that distinguishes Anzac Day from others is the bugle call. The solitary call of the Last Post reverberates down the generations as a mournful cry for the loss of war.

In the First World War it was the loss of so many young lives and for what? A toehold on some peninsula, a futile charge into no man’s land? The loss swept into every Australian household. Mothers lost their sons.

Young women lost brothers, boyfriends, lovers, husbands. And for fathers, adding to the pain of loss, was the bitter aftertaste of guilt summarised so succinctly by Rudyard Kipling, who lost his own son in that war:

………………………………………………………………………

“If any question why we died/Tell them, because our fathers lied.”

Yet the generation of Australians who served in the First World War had qualities we no longer possess and this is our loss.

Read Full Article here: Echo of the Bugle

Read Edited article published in the herald Sun Anzac Day, 25th April, 2007: Echo of the Bugle

The Rules of BACKYARD CRICKET? Make Them Up as You Go

Shock! Horror! Outrage!
The NSW Australia Day Council is threatening to publish the Rules of BACKYARD CRICKET on Australia Day, 2018. (Go to: Backyard cricket battle over call for same rules for all, Emily Ritchie, The Australian, 13 JAN, 2018.)

There are no rules. That’s the point.

I wrote a LETTER TO ALLAN BORDER in 1988. This comic story about the crazy make-them-up-as-you-go rules of Backyard Cricket was published in The Age, SMH etc.

Ian (Macca) McNamara read out the letter on Australia All Over, ABC.

LISTEN to Macca read: A LETTER TO ALLAN BORDER (above)