When Life’s No Picinic

Illustration: Jenny Bowman

Illustration: Jenny Bowman

Idyllic summer days and leisurely family picnics go hand in glove like, um, hands in gloves.
When I was a youngster in the ’60s, however, a picnic with my family was more akin to throwing down the gauntlet to the fates.

Our father stood by the pink, open driver’s seat door of our old maroon FE Holden, snapping orders as we elbowed our way onto the clammy vinyl of the back seat. ”You sit there and look out that window. You sit there and don’t you touch him. Tuck your elbows in. I don’t want any carry-on during this trip or I’ll wring your bloody necks.” There we sat in our cotton shorts, T-shirts and plastic sandals, me, my three brothers and one other kid, with our bare legs clinging to the vinyl seat, waiting for our mother to turn up with the baby so the adventure could begin.

But our mother was always distracted by some last-minute fussing, as our father stood drumming his fingers on the roof of the Holden, calling out ”Kath, hurry up. We’ve got to get going.” When our mother finally arrived with food in a basket – there were sandwiches and fruit in the tartan metal Esky in the boot – our father planted his foot on the accelerator as she struggled to close the door. We were off on our adventure.

Read more @ The Canberra Times 8 Jan 2012: When Life’s No Picinic

Welcome to Hollyweird

hollyweirdThis is a summer piece with a twist. Rather than review the holiday film schlock, I’m going to describe three films I’d like to see. They’re of the Hollywood blockbuster ilk, with an ethical dilemma at the core raising questions such as, ”is it ethical to force males or females to take hormones for the survival of the species?”, ”if the Pope gained office by corruption, is he still infallible?” and ”is it morally acceptable to kill to stop others killing?” Here are the film plots:

Darwin’s Dead
In this action thriller, the latest N1H17 virus has a strange impact on humanity. It reboots junk DNA in the human foetus. Women start giving birth to stocky, thick-browed hairy babies, then to long-limbed ape-like creatures. Finally a woman gives birth to an Axolotl-like air-breathing fish. Panic erupts.

Read more @ The Canberra Times 1 Jan 2012: Welcome to Hollyweird

Goodbye Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam PicJulia says so. Politicians insist. Even former prime minister Paul ”you scumbags” Keating claims it’s time for Australia to embrace Asia.
Unfortunately, we’re a little stumped to know how to do this exactly, as so few of them seem to play football or cricket.

Top marks to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, of course. But China is a problem. If only China played cricket, we’d get on like a house on fire. Why can’t Indonesians play more tennis? Why can’t Filipinos play, say, lawn bowls? We Aussies aren’t that fussy. We’ll watch any sport.

Of course, there is a menacing hidden agenda in this Asia push. Before we can throw ourselves wholeheartedly at Asia, we’ll have to take one huge step for Aussie kind and give up the US. Giving up the US will have its plus side. There’ll be fewer wars. Really. Can you imagine Australia announcing all by itself ”Excuse me Iraq, we’re going to invade.”
As for Afghanistan, we can’t even spell it, let alone find it on a map.

Read more @ The Canberra Times 21 Nov 2012: Goodbye Uncle Sam