31 March 2009

The Midget Line

"Maybe I took the wrong dose of medication today. Possibly true as I am listening to Chris De Burgh as I write this...I end up looking like a limbo dancer trying not to knock over the pole whilst at the same time fumbling for another peg"

There is something that has been annoying me recently and I have decided to get it off my chest and unleash it to you - the blogging public at large. What is the whinge, I hear you say? Well it's nothing to do with the weather, GFC (Global Financial Crisis and not Gillingham Football Club), or the lack of good birthday cards on offer in Australia.

It is, believe it or not, our washing line! Now, I know what you must be thinking. Maybe I took the wrong dose of medication today. Possibly true as I am listening to Chris De Burgh as I write this blog. But medication is certainly not the issue today. Read on and I'll explain.

We have a washing line that we use, not surprisingly, to hang out our clothes for drying. It is secured to the far wall (aka a fence) and swings up when you need to use it and then swings down when not in use. I have decided to explain this as it is not a Hills Hoist (as we call them in Australia) which is secured to the ground and is raised or lowered by the turn of a lever.

Anyway, I have nicknamed our line 'The Midget Line'. As it is truly quite low when fully erected. The problem that I have is that being just a shade under 6 feet tall I have to crouch down to hang up our clothes. In fact, if there is lots of washing I end up looking like a limbo dancer trying not to knock over the pole whilst at the same time fumbling for another peg. I am sure that my neighbours must get a good laugh out of how I look. In my case the reason for the limbo dance is to ensure that I do not bang my head on the top of the washing line.

Naturally, even though I don't want to bang my head I invariably do. For some reason I forget to keep my head lowered and all of a sudden I feel a sharp pain as my noggin hits the washing line. This actually happens on a too regular basis for my liking.

What happens then is that a spray of four letter words spew forth from my mouth as I curse the 'midget line'. After this outburst I feel a lot better even though my head is feeling quite sore!

I cannot help thinking that when the house was built in the nineties the builders wanted to play a sick joke on anyone who was on the tall side. That's the only reason why I can imagine the washing line being so low in comparison to other lines.

Either this or they just totally stuffed it up!

Whatever the case, I feel a lot better having got my whinge out of my system. Well, I had better go and purchase a crash helmet as the washing machine has nearly finished its load!

24 March 2009

The Dreaded Government Office

"I thought I was going to have a successful visit when I heard the dreaded words "you are going to have to take a seat as I need to refer you to another person"...I was on my second round of counting the ceiling tiles when my name was called out. Actually, they called out my wife's name and I had to correct them"

There is a saying that goes 'there are only two things certain in life and that is death and taxes'. Well I beg to differ. I actually think there is a third certainty. What is it? I hear you cry from the mountain tops and the low lying valleys. Is it appearing on a reality television series? - no. Is it making a fool of oneself at karaoke? - could be, but not as far as I am concerned. The answer is spending hours waiting to be served at a Government office.

If you think about it we will all spend time at one of these venerable citadels of a Government nature. In Australia it could be at Medicare, Centrelink or at any of the other offices that have been created to make our lives easier (aka red tape, more red tape and even more red tape).

I had the pleasure, in a sadistic sort of way, of having to spend nearly three hours at one of these offices while the gurus of the Government department tried to answer my query which I had raised with them.

I arrived early on a sweltering hot Sydney day. Yes folks, global warming is alive and well in Australia! I imagined I would be there for at least 30 minutes and was in a good natured mood as I walked through the automatic doors and into the office. My mood quickly changed when I saw how long the queue was.

Undeterred, I remained positive and felt optimistic that I would be served fairly quickly. After all, the queue seemed to be moving reasonably fast (by Government standards).

I got to the front of the queue and explained my problem. I thought I was going to have a successful visit when I heard the dreaded words "you are going to have to take a seat as I need to refer you to another person". My jaw hit the ground. Translated, it meant that I would be spending a long long time sitting on a chair waiting to be seen.

I asked the blatantly obvious question '"how long will the wait be?" The response was not that comforting either "Erm shouldn't be too long. Just take a seat, please."

So I sat down and waited for my name to be called out. Unfortunately I hadn't brought with me anything to read. Certainly 'War and Peace' would have been a good book for a situation like this. I also didn't have a bottle of water (and couldn't see a vending machine anywhere). At least the television was on. Unluckily for me it was a morning show with infotainment segments.

Within 25 minutes I had learnt what sort of moisturiser was good for my skin, found out why a certain vacuum cleaner would make my life better and seen a new contraption for cooking all foods in one receptacle. Wow, I thought, I certainly have been living under a rock. To put it bluntly the show on the television was pure and utter tripe.

To make matters worse, there were frequent crossovers to Hollywood as the Oscars were about to start. Now I don't have a problem with the film industry, far from it. But when it comes to awards nights like the Oscars then I generally switch off the television. This time I couldn't do what I wanted.

Another 90 minutes passed and I still hadn't been seen to. I noticed a number of staff had been for their tea break and returned to their desks. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to see how regimental the staff tea breaks were operating. Nothing better than to let the customer wait a little longer before being served.

By now I was really regretting not having a book to read. All of a sudden a woman called out a name. It wasn't my name but I noticed something about the woman. Now it wasn't because she was a budding Angelina Jolie, it was because it was a man in women's clothes! The voice sounded female but that was all. I mused to myself (well I couldn't do much else) that at least the Government is an Equal Opportunity Employer!

All of a sudden the news came on the television. At last, I thought, something to stimulate my brain. Nope, wrong thought. The bulk of the news was all about the Oscars. Still, I suppose to some Hollywood is much more important that trivial matters like suicide bombers and poverty.

I was on my second round of counting the ceiling tiles when my name was called out. Actually, they called out my wife's name and I had to correct them. I was greeted by a deadpan looking middle aged woman who lead me to her desk. We had a brief discussion which got slightly heated at times but still my query had not been resolved to my liking. Having waited for nigh on 3 hours my actual time trying to resolve my issue was less than 5 minutes.

I left the office and headed out into the hot and sunny day vowing never to return. I made my way to a book store to search for a copy of 'War and Peace' for my next visit!

11 March 2009

A Retro-Spective

"What was the song, I hear you say? Well thankfully it was not 'Achy Breaky Heart' by Billy Ray Cyrus (Miley's dad)...the group used to be called Satellite 1 before changing their name. That's probably a great place to put this song - on a satellite"

Last weekend No Worries and I were driving back from Canberra when I put a CD on. After all music is a great soother especially when driving from the ACT to Sydney. The CD being played was full of rock ballads which I hadn't heard for many moons. We were both enjoying the music (admittedly me more than No Worries) when the next song came on. As it did, I mentioned to my wife that it was one of my favourite songs of the Nineties.

As it came on No Worries instantly turned up the volume, much to my horror. Normally she likes turning the volume down and not up. No Worries immediately said it was one of her favourite songs of all time. We both sang along to it and then played it all over again! What was the song, I hear you say? Well thankfully it was not 'Achy Breaky Heart' by Billy Ray Cyrus (Miley's dad), but 'Hazard' by Richard Marx.

Later that day, when we were home, I decided to dig out the CD single version of Hazard. As I did I started to look at all the other CD singles that I had in a box and had not played or seen them for a long long time. I have to admit that now I am not sure why I bought them! I must have been on medication!

Anyway, I thought it would be a great idea to embarrass myself (call it character building if you wish) and let the whole world know of some of these songs. So without further a do, here they are:

1. 'Stairway to Heaven' by Rolf Harris. Without a doubt a great song...if performed by Led Zeppelin. Hearing the 'wobbly board' on this version makes you want to cringe. I can only assume that I bought it as I grew up on Rolf Harris when I was a child.

2. 'Coco Jamboo' by Mr President. This was Eurodance at it's worst. Why I liked it beggars belief now. Apparently the group used to be called Satellite 1 before changing their name. That's probably a great place to put this song - on a satellite orbiting the Earth! I think Barack Obama could have done a better version of this song.

3. 'Big Big World' by Emilia. As the song goes 'I'm a big big girl in a big big world'. Certainly not cutting edge lyrics. As I am not a big big girl or even a big big boy I now wonder why I bought it. The fact that the last place I heard it before buying it was Amsterdam might well explain my reasoning. Apparently she is competing in the Swedish part of the Eurovision Song Contest. Good luck, my dear.

4. 'Vindaloo' by Fat Les. A singalong British song that was sung by comedian Keith Allen, dad of Lily Allen. It's a real boozy pub type song that was released prior to the 1998 World Cup. Now I do like some footy songs, and am partial to a vindaloo now and then, but why the hell did I buy it? Answers on a postcard please!

5. 'Another Night' by MC Sar and the Real McCoy. Now I have to admit that when this song came out I truly liked it. However, hearing it again after a few years, I realise how cheesy it sounds. Was the 1990's the cheesy era? This was some more Eurodance pap from the mid-nineties. Fortunately their career was short lived much to the relief of music lovers worldwide.

6. 'Spaceman' by Babylon Zoo. I remember seeing the video to this song late one night and was really impressed with it. Naturally I bought it as soon as I could. It was a sci-fi cum dance cum rock song and was probably the first number one single in the UK by a Sikh performer (Jasbinder Mann). Nowadays it sounds excruciatingly bad. Though it does have a catchy chorus that gets stuck in your head.

Well there it is. A few of my most embarrassing moments from a musical point of view.

It should be said that my collection does house a number of great songs too. I like to think that I have some taste in music. Some of the best of my collection include:

'November Rain' by Guns 'n Roses; 'Wake up Boo' by the Boo Radleys; 'Zombie' by the Cranberries; 'What's up?' by 4 Non Blondes; 'Nothing Else Matters' by Metallica; 'Winds of Change' by the Scorpions and 'Brick' by Ben Folds Five to name just a few.

So there it is a trip down memory lane. If you have some cheesy or cringy songs of the past then please feel free to let me know!