It has been a while since my last pithy offering, and although this time could have been spent growing organic vegetables, mastering the treadmill and liaising with Dave the Personal Trainer, my time has instead been spent discovering the joys of the Lamington. The simple fact is that nothing monumentally embarrassing has happened to me since my personal training incident, henceforth known as ‘Dave-Gate’. I have not been pinged off any gym equipment, nor have I scudded across a laminate floor on moist buttocks. I have not fainted on top of an unsuspecting fitness instructor or wept bitter tears about my weight over a skip load of Anzac biscuits. Neither have I attended the gym regularly or indeed lost any weight, but that is by the by.
Now, the festive season is upon us, and there is nothing like the impending New Year to make one ponder the happenings of the recent past.
It is astonishing to me that I have been in Oz for almost a year now – four seasons have come and almost gone, each one bringing its own observations. After the very rainy autumn and (relatively) cold and wet winter, spring sprung as it is wont to do and with it came the most unexpected phenomena – that everything around me started shagging. Before you get all excited and think that this blog is going to be a sequel to ‘50 Shades of Grey’, relax. At my age and with my energy levels, any sequel I would compose would be called ’50 Shades of What Do You Think You’re Doing?’ It’s just that the most seemingly innocent activities culminated in something sordid and a bit, well, dirty. The aquarium, for example, one would presume to be a place dedicated to family fun and education and not a hotbed of fornication.
As I have written before, Melbourne Aquarium is definitely worth a visit – a little pricey perhaps, but worth it to see the look on your little one’s face as they chase from tank to tank, gazing wide-eyed at the aquatic marvels swimming in front of them. And of course there is the penguin porn. I have described the penguins before. They are encased behind inches of Perspex, skidding around in pools of shit which festoon the synthetic ice sculpted to resemble Antarctica. And indeed it is very much like Antarctica, if Antarctica was blasted with harsh neon lights and ogled at by hundreds of Canon-wielding tourists, and if the penguins were fed by a man in a luminescent flak jacket and galoshes equipped with a bucket of dead sardines every four hours.
The now three year old minx and I had spent a pleasant afternoon tapping on tanks attempting to make static frogs leap and tiny turtles heel and on the way out I suggested that we visit the penguins one last time, which of course turned out to be a big mistake. It began with two penguins gracelessly waddling over to where we stood and nestling themselves down on a man-made nest.
‘How sweet.’ thought I, ‘They are nesting for the night, cosying up together to share the life-long commitment they have made.’ That is until the female reared her black and white arse and spewed a geezer of excrement up the glass in front of me.
‘That penguin just pooed!’ chirped the ever observant minx. Surely this could not get worse? Oh how deliciously naive I continue to be…
Said female, who had relieved herself violently against the Perspex, now began nuzzling her mate. I imagined the conversation.
‘Come on then Colin, hop on, I’ve not got all night.’
‘But I thought you said you felt bloated?’
‘Bloated? Did you not see what I just did? I’ve just lost a stone! Now let’s crack on shall we?’
Fortunately, the minx had found something to distract her from the proceedings, a set of parallel bars used to separate the crowds which she was using as makeshift gym equipment, leaving me as a lone voyeur to ogle the impending shenanigans, and although my brain was screaming at me to move away and not watch, my legs had gone numb and so, apparently, had my eyeballs. At this point I could describe the proceedings, the lifting of the behind, the mounting of the male, the slipping, the remounting, how, well, pink everything was, but I shall spare you the details. After what seemed like an eternity of penguin lovin’, they stopped, the male slipped off and then they had a cuddle and a bit of a kiss. Now, weirdly, watching this made me feel even queasier than the actual act itself. By now my brain was howling ‘For the love of God woman, have you not seen enough?’ I suppose the cuddle made me feel like I was really encroaching on something quite personal. I’m fairly sure though that the penguins didn’t care.
When we arrived home the birds were chirping, the sun was shining, ‘What a Disney-esque landscape I live in!’ I thought to myself, until I looked up and realised that the birds were chirping because they too were having sex. And then the next morning, I came out to find the white Camry turned black with f*cking bugs – literally.
So spring turns to summer and summer brings with it its own happenings. Zeus’s minions of course rear their perfectly coiffured heads (please refer to my first blog for a description of Melbourne’s Beautiful People), and clothing is shed in an attempt to keep and look cool. Now unfortunately it is not only the beautiful elite who find it necessary to relieve themselves of clothing. On one day trip to Queen Victoria market, and with the sun forcing its way through the clouds for the first time in months, I witnessed two T-Shirt related offences, each one making me want poke myself in the eyes, temporarily blinding myself lest I witness them again. The first, a man in his forties, sporting a bulging, gravity-defying stomach with a globule of … something glistening in his greying beard, wearing a T-Shirt emblazoned with the Facebook logo and ‘You Like This’ stated confidently underneath. Err, not really. The second was a similarly built man, his pallid, blue-veined flesh creeping out from beneath a bright yellow T-Shirt which proclaimed ‘Sun’s out, Guns out’. For Christ’s sake.
And now it is Christmas, and how strange to be celebrating in 35 degree heat! Bing Crosby’s ‘White Christmas’ does not have quite the same heart-warming appeal here as it did in Blighty, and Christmas lights twinkling on the tree do not have the same effect when the backdrop is bright blue skies and the occasional lorikeet. Whether here or in England though, Christmas always highlights the difference between mine and my husband’s upbringings and our subsequent views of how Christmas should be done. His Christmas was the more sophisticated of the two – smoked salmon and champagne for breakfast, preparing the festive luncheon together over the Aga, and opening presents at 3pm with a glass of tawny port and then finishing the day with an amusing round of charades. My Christmas was slightly less sophisticated (although I would like to stress, no less pleasant or satisfying) – being woken up by an over-excited Mother at 6am and woofing down a slice of toast before watching said Mum rip into her pile of presents like a Velociraptor, then it’s round to the neighbours for sherry and a mince pie before tucking into dinner at 12.30, play a game, burp, watch the film, fall asleep. The decorating of the Christmas tree also highlights these differences. Christmas for me means a collection of kitsch decorations, dating back decades, collected through the years, thrown at the tree in a random fashion and then accentuated with tinsel. For my husband, he of the anal sandcastles, the Christmas tree is something to be sweated over, each ornament placed carefully before taking a step back to ensure symmetry, no tinsel of course, tinsel being the most working-class of all the decorations. I jest. Sort of.
As I finish, it is Christmas Eve, and I am very much looking forward to seeing the minx’s face tomorrow as she opens her gifts. She did look a little confused this evening as I put her to bed and put the mince pie and milk out for Santa. Her expression was one of confusion as she struggled to understand why a strange man would come into her room, eat a festive pie, drink and then leave her a present. I suppose when you put it like that, it does sound a bit odd.
I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year and may Santa sneak into your bedroom and fill your stockings…