Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 - the year of the Facebook

2007 will be remembered for the wettest Summer I have ever had. This didn't stop us dancin' in the mud at Glastonbury nor will it stop us from bringing in the bells for New Year tonight in Glasgow's George's Square with 50,000 other Glasgwegians.

Even though I live on the other side of the planet from most of my friends, Facebook has managed to connect me with long lost mates.

Today I spoke with childhood mates Gina Ascott-Evans and Fryth Bouzaid via Skype and a search on Facebook. They are both amazing mums with cute husbands! I've also found Simon Conran - a random mate that I met at 555 William St in '97 - and Brian O'Connor, a fellow Organising Works trainee. I also miraculously bumped into Siobhan Shannon, also of 555 William St fame at the airport heading to Dubai. We caught up with them in Ireland over Christmas.

So ain't social networking sites amazing! The internet has truly wonderful powers when used for good rather than evil.

I wish for 2008 to find peace in Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan. I wish for Pakistan to have free and fair elections. I wish for world leaders to find real and lasting solutions to climate change that engage the community. I wish for my new niece or nephew to be born into a world with a positive future. So let's celebrate the leaders of tomorrow with this little montage of oor wee niece Hayley Charlotte.

Happy New Year to all - let's hope 08 is great mate!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Gold and Government Bonds are up....I can smell war in the air

I'm saddened by the news that Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated. She took a risk in bringing herself out of self imposed exile to contest the long awaited democratic elections in Pakistan and she has paid the ultimate price. There were warning signs in October when she was nearly killed in the suicide attack, and in a country on the brink of civil war with that amount of political chaos, when a group of extremist say they will kill you, it's going to happen eventually. Surely there was no amount of security at a public rally that could have have saved her.

Bhutto was the first woman president of a Muslim country. She should be celebrated for being a pioneer of woman's rights, but she should also be remembered as someone whose opponents argued she came from a privileged class with questions over her previous reigns - nepotism, bribery and corruption.

Isn't it interesting that Australians still have not voted in a female prime minister? Sometimes you think a country is backward or "not civilised" * because of how they treat women but if you look in your own back yard, the two major parties have still not allowed a woman to become leader.

* I'll never forget Ross Lightfoot, Western Australian MP banging on about uncivilised nations and indiginous Australians. What does uncivilised mean anyway?? I think the captains of industry are mostly uncivilised.....that's another blog entry right there. Best shut up really....

Seriously, I do hope Pakistan doesn't degenerate into full scale civil war. That would be very very bad, especially for progress in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

And the bells rang out for Christmas Day....

Happy Christmas everyone. I'm missing my family, but my family by proxy, the Honans of Carrickfergus in Norn Iron (Nothern Ireland) are putting on a great Christmas show for me and Jock, who ate his Cadbury selection before breakfast.

I couldn't do it any better than this family from Churchlands, enjoy - you'll need sound.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The election the photos processed....

1)Jock shows off his Kevin07 outside of the pub in London. What joy it was waking up early on a Saturday morning to wonder along a London road to find a sandwich board with Kevin Rudd on it. We knew it was going to be a good day.
2)Labor wins, the Libs lose the election. We drink the bar dry of cheap Australian sparkling so move on to the Veuve Clicquot.
3)Howard loses his seat.
4)Ali loses it......

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Soccer, Football, Fitba'

There are times when I will stroll down my street on a Saturday and things aren't quite right. No, it's not the fact that I may accidentally bump into life size Oompa Loompas for want of staring at these Posh-esq sunbedded, fake tanned women or because I'm marveling at the fact that in Scotland it is legal to throw Irn Bru cans on the street. It's because the Fitba' is on. Mostly it will be Rangers supporters going mad at midday, but occasionally you'll bump into a Celtic supporter or another football mad person of a different persuasion. There is an "air" about the place.

If it's before the game, there's folk drinking in the pubs, a huge line at the subway to get to Ibrox and old ladies have rightly remained inside till they can safely put their walking sticks to use and get their "messages" lout free.

If it's after, and Rangers have won, the street is a jubilant jolly carnivale, alive with grown blokes skipping around whilst they drink lager and smoke ootside.

However, a loss will prompt much gloomy standing around, with talk about sacking the manager or questions as to why some Spanish bloke didn't get imported for the match. Just this morning, I heard on the news that the Newcastle soccer team's manager has been saved from sacking because his team scored a gallant goal against Arsenal, leading to an exciting one-all draw.

This is what I don't understand about this game. Apart from the fact that it's boring and tedious and invariably a "good match" can be one where not a single spherical pig skinned straw filled object was put between two posts and a net, the chat and the money that underpins this game is as much scandalous as it is absurd. If there is chat on the radio, it's not about the skills of the players, it's about the money and the manager.

Such is the life of a fanatic, that currently, a ticket to the Rangers-Lyon match (don't ask - there is the UAFA cup, the Champion's League, the Winners of the Second Round Matches of the Nearly Champions League, the European Cup which Israel play in, the Eurovision Song Contest Soccer Cup....the list is endless and I don't understand) is selling for 200 quid on eBay. Madness.

Jock and I support Partick Thistle. It's not in actually in Partick. The team has a horrible bright yellow strip. I've never seen them play. I think they play in the first division, not the Scottish Premier League. I know nothing. But when people ask who I support out of Rangers and Celtic, I say Partick Thistle, immediately identifying myself as an atheist.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Cancer 'n' Stuff


Is a turgid horrible bloody disease. My mum's had it twice and survived. Close friends have had it (and young friends - too young to get breast cancer, but both caught it early and are now in remission) and friends' parents have succumb to this disease . I was recently moved by Matt Price's death from brain tumours, so sudden and tragic. I felt like I knew him.

So, I've signed up for a long term research project in the UK where my health will be monitored over the next decade. It's called Breakthrough Generations and is going to involve more than 100,000 women in the UK.


It's been an interesting month. My ears have been glued to radio national every night at 8pm (7am Oz time) to listen to Fran and Tony Eastley discuss the election. I've been quietly confident that Labor would win the election, but now just feel a sense of relief and hope that Rudd and Julia "Super Ministry" Gillard can live up to expectations. It was excellent fun going down to London to catch up with ole comrades, but now it's time to stop gloating and get back to normal life....which is clouded in darkness now that winter is upon us and that can only mean one thing: enduring the UK's love for shit Christmas tunes over the muzac systems of shops. If you're not sure about my views on this subject, click here.

Lucky then we're going to a big concert next week - the Chemical Brothers, and the following week we're in Paris. I've never been to Paris with a lover before, so I'm looking forward to it, especially if I get to meet these folk sur la Métro

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Date With Jesus

If you look closely, you can see him....

Monday, November 26, 2007

Man Flu gives you time to think

I have man flu. Well, to be honest, I'm actually feeling very sick and sorry for myself and have been home from work today with headaches, a runny nose and Europe's most boring cough.

This wallowing in mud like a hapless water buffalo has given me time to plow through the federal election footage and comment on the web. It's interesting that in every state and territory bar South Australia and the ACT, the Labor premier has resigned (or died, RIP Jim Bacon) giving way for generational change half way through a term and allowing the electorate time to get to know the new leader before the next election. If only Howard had done the same, and the Lib's had elected Turnbull as their leader. I think things may have been very different.

Simply put, Howard got greedy. I have no doubt that the lure of presidential dinners and fairy tale balls for his wife Janette was just too great. Check out this photo with Cheney and Bush - if the wives were wearing sashes they could have been the royal family of "insert small Scandinavian country here with a GDP smaller than Heinz's yearly turnover". The "statesman syndrome" went to his head as well as Janette's. He should have taken a leaf out of his Labor state counterparts and resigned.

Check out Joe Hockey in tears and Alexander Downer being a precious twat.

I really don't think they get it. Downer refused to do any media interviews on election night.

Here's a giggle from Kerry O'Brien:

and sweet poetic justice:

It's Bennelong time.....

Saturday, November 24, 2007

It's a Ruddslide!

YAY..Ruddbot wins! The Veuve Clicquot was flowing freely at the ALP Abroad pub with a group of expat mates, Sky News and three hundred other Aussies. I really missed Antony Green, but it didn't matter - Maxine McKew is a star and so is every Kevin07 shirt-wearing Aussie who took to the footpaths to door knock till their knuckles bled.

I am very very happy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Election - Ali's Call as at 8.30 am EST

Take the glass half empty, glass half full invisible inkblot quiz!
Glass half full:
The polls and punters are correct. It's a uniform 56-44 two party preferred win to Labor who are 20 seats in the clear. Nice.

Glass half empty:
It's a one seat win to Labor with a challenge from the Liberal Party regarding when the Wentworth Labor candidate resigned from his Government post.

Perish the thought! I think Howard is looking more and more desperate. Saying that once Australians vote for a Labor government you can't take it back like an unwanted Christmas present at the boxing day sales is clearly a sign that he's run out of anything interesting to say. I'm tired of hearing about the economy stupid. I hope others are too and don't fall into that "yar man, I really like Labor's education, health, environment and social policies so much more betterer than the Liberals but the Libs do a better job with the economy so I'm going to vote for Howard".

Howard has gone back to the ol' voter pitch of national security, reds under the beds, burkas under the beds, economy, economy, economy, don't change horses in mid stream except if it's my horse election speech. Nuthin' new, nuthin' forward thinking.

Well, we're going to London on the weekend to watch the vote count on Sky TV at a pub near the head office of the Transport and General Workers Union. I hope this is a good sign! I'm a member of ALP Abroad, so we'll be with lots of comrade supporters. A bit weird watching the election count in the morning.

Here's a pic of us voting! Lucky it's a secret ballot and put in a sealed envelope so you don't know who we voted for....

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Royal Loathe

It's Prince Charles' birthday today. The reason I know this is because on Radio 4 (Radio National equivalent) a posh voice came on just before the 7am news saying "Today is the birthday of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales". And on came God Save the Current Monarch and her Offspring. Jock stood up but only to get some coffee.

Today, a little reminder that we live in one of those funny countries with odd ways and strange rituals.

Find a penny pick it up

My friend Iza and her partner Kuba have a wonderful way of saving up for having a lovely dinner out at night. There is often money left on the street in Glasgow - usually 1 or 2p pieces. I don't bother to pick them up, partly because I think - "it's not worth it" and partly because I leave it to the wee bairns to do. Well, Iza and Kuba do pick up the odd bits of change here and there and keep them separate from the rest of the money they're carrying. Today Iza found 2p on her way to work.

They now have £28 to spend on their "free" dinner. I'm inspired!

Iza is from Poland and it's great being her friend because we talk non stop about our different cultures and share the odd laugh about being foreigners living in Glasgow. I marvel at her knowledge of the English language and the occasional cultural heurisms that happen when a word is misunderstood (like today when I said she could take a "day in lieu" for overtime she had worked..Why would I sit on the toilet?"). She is fluent after living in Glasgow for a year and every day I'm embarrassed about not knowing another language. And it makes me appreciate my mother's ability to speak three languages even more. Why are parents always right? They said I would regret not continuing to learn French and now of course, seeing as I live in Europe I regret it big time.

Not as much as I regret shaving my legs as a teenager....that's another example of not listening to my mother and another story entirely!

Iza says she will go to a Mexican restaurant because she misses Taco Bell...I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Rich Old White Guys

Why do we keep voting them in????

Michael Moore pointed this out in his book Stupid White Men. That we keep voting for them, so we get what we deserve. I wish more people from interesting backgrounds did stand for public office. They probably try and just don't get past the battle of preselection!...Sounds familiar! ;P

Monday, November 05, 2007

Breaking the Bankers

First it was, Stanley O'Neil, head of Merrill Lynch and today it's Charles Prince, head of the world's largest bank - the CitiGroup. Both have resigned due the billions of dollars lost to lending money to people who can't afford to pay it back, plunging the US housing market into crisis.

This could not have come at a better time for John Howard, and is possibly his rabbit out of the hat. If (and more likely when) the interest rate rise happens this week, no doubt Howard will argue that the world economy is on the impending doom track, and who best to drive this train out of the tunnel of darkness but the Liberal party. He'll quote the USA mortgage crisis and possibly the resignation of these CEOs and more than likely he'll use the W word - no, not "Wabbit", but "World Recession". Wanker.

And another thing....
The polling is a bit all over the place recently. Interestingly, the last 3 Galaxy polls are consistent in their prediction on a Maxine McKew victory in Bennelong. But the latest Newspoll suggest that the Coalition is winning the ground on key marginals.

No one seems to be talking about the mobile phone factor. Polls are conducted via telephoning on land lines. Now the Lib's took a leaf out of the Republican book by trying to knock people off the electoral roll (some 140,000 voters have been knocked off because AEC workers visited their addresses and they no longer lived there) and by passing new laws closing the rolls early. The early rolls backfired somewhat with the campaign by radio station Triple J and by campaign group GetUp! to enroll young voters. Ten percent more young people are on the roll compared to last time.

So, I am hoping, that as young voters are more likely to vote for Kevin07, and not have a landline, the polls are slightly skewed to the Coalition - giving Labor and even bigger lead!!!!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Ipsophiliacs Anonomoustache

This is a group I belong to on Facebook. It's a group for making up words:
"This group is dedicated to the creation and furthering of Perlatations... Perlatation is the made up word for made up words. The art of creating words is called Perlating... Get involved - you might find you have ipsophiliac tendencies!"

I recently added:

Plutocrap: Taken from plutocrat meaning bourgeois and crap, meaning crap. When a wave of wealthy capitalist consumers do something collectively the thousand or so Japanese people who wondered why their labradoodles didn't bark, because they were all sold sheep.

Other gems posted by fellow Ipsophiliacs include:

Lycratte: the art of consuming a latte whilst wearing lycra under the delusion that other patrons will envy your obvious athletic vigor.

Sleep Tetrivation: The lack of adequate sleep due to the constant playing of Tetris. This also applies to the lack of sleep from thinking of how best to place those odd shaped 'bricks' in order to prevent the game from ending and/or enhancing your highest score.

Enthusispasm: when enthusiasm crosses the boundary of healthy excitement into straight up retardedness.

Hypothetical Salad: The complimentary salad that the waiter asks you to select from the menu, in compensation for bad service, but then forgets to bring.

I also added:
(1) The act of turning your pillow over in summer to fluff it up and sleep on the cool side. (2) The act of briskly moving your top sheet upwards and letting it fill with air and fall gently back down enjoying the sensation of it landing on your legs and body...also in summer. Note: It doesn't work with a doona.

This was then countered by a fellow Ipsophiliac called Chris:

(1) The act of breaking wind then briskly moving your top sheet upwards and letting it fill with noxious air and fall gently back down enjoying the sensation of it landing on your legs and body whilst sinking breathable air levels...

Oh how I love Facebook!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My My...At Waterloo, Napoleon Did Surrender

Hope the outcome for Nelson ( Dad has just pointed out that it was the Duke of Wellington not Nelson....history is soooooo yesterday) will be the same for Kevin! Here's Jock and me at Waterloo with our Kevin07 shirts. Shame the RV was in the way. We've sent it to the Kevin07 website, so look out for us on the web. (And thanks Mad and Jamie for supplying the t-shirts!)

I can not believe Malcolm Turnbull. For one thing, we have an Environmental minister who refuses to say whether he believes the Kyoto Protocol should be ratified or not and secondly - he leaked the cabinet discussion during an election campaign! I think this could really damage the Libs.

Labor definitely won the second week of campaigning - only four to go. I likened it to being 13 points up in the final quarter of the grand final with 7 minutes to go. Jock then added that this scenario doesn't cater for a football team punching members of their own squad in the head and giving the ball to the opposition. I think this could have been true for campaigns of yore, but not this one. I think it's the Libs who look undisciplined.

Except of course stupid Joe MacDonald could surface during a stop work meeting once the temperature's reached 25°C rendering it too hot to work and reveals all of Labor's dirty washing.

But of course, before this happens, one hopes a Labor heavy (or should I say a Labor Heavier) would have tied him to a lamp pole with his braces in a far away place or maybe given him a one way ticket to Cuba where he can bang on about the revolution whilst smoking cigars.

Piers Ackerman really gives me the shits. It's one thing to sit on the special chair reserved for right wing columnists from trashy dailies during Barry's Insiders program, it's another thing to be so blatantly pro-Howard that you start blurting spin from Liberal adverts. I'm happy to hear the views of conservative commentators, as long as they're putting their argument forward rather than regurgitate ad nauseam Liberal spin.

Thank goodness for Annabel Crabb and Karen Middleton.

Had some lovely wine and beer at Jamie and Jeannie's in Belgium this weekend. Met the gorgeous Jasper and it was just lovely to hang out at their home chewing the fat all weekend.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cone Head

This poor wee fella was playing Harry Potter when he got this traffic cone stuck on 'is 'ead. Silly duffer - but look at all the fire fighters it took to pull it off!

It took thirty minutes for the fire fighters to arrive and another 45 to remove it from his head. If only they had used the
spell from Hogwarts. Hawaiian “Aloha” means “hello/farewell” and Latin “mora” which means “obstacle”. So...Farewell obstacle, hello nasty 21st birthday story!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Kevin 07

It's all happening! And I'm not there to soak it up :(

Here's some cyber badges I made for Facebook with my friend Killer's new application. Facebookers can upload a badge and stick it on their profile. Better still, you can make your own and others can use it. What delicious fun!

And my mate Flicka got her pic in The Australian today by raising her jumper and showing off her Kevin 07 shirt to John Howard as he drove to the GG's house! Good onya Flicka!

Jock and I have decided to go to London for election day. Here's the outcome in order of best to worst case scenario:

1) Labor and Rudd win government, Maxine wins and Family First, John Howard, Malcolm Turnbull, Peter Costello and that evil conservative preacher boy Tony Abbott lose their seats.
2) Labor and Rudd win government, Maxine wins
3) Labor and Rudd win government, Howard retains his seat
4) the Coalition win government and Maxine wins
5) the Coalition win government and Howard wins his seat

I don't even want to contemplate number 5 happening....

Jock and I have been given Kevin07 shirts and I think we'll wear them to Belgium when we visit Jamie, Jeannie and Jasper.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Election - 24 November - Bring It On!

Sorry for being AWOL...I've been to Australia and back again and it's been difficult to be in a headspace to write my blog. What a difference 18 months away makes. In a nutshell - Perth seems really expensive and John Howard and Kevin Andrews et al seem absurdly racist.

Firstly, can I just say there must be an awful lot of people missing out on the economic boom. I walked out of Sainsbury's today with three bags of shopping totaling 10 quid. That's $AU25. The equivalent canvas bags of shopping in Perth, including standard items such as El Paso Taco Kits (Hot), capsicums ("peppers" in the UK, where the equality agenda has pushed through the glass ceiling of capsicum colour - yellow ones are the same price as green ones), non-evil chemical-leaching-into-urban-waterways fabric softener of dubious quality and buy one get one free ginger snaps would have cost me in Coles around fifty bucks. So I now believe that the UK is actually relatively cheap when it comes to groceries.

Which brings me to the notion of "working families". Working families are the ones paying the price for the lack of dividend from the economic boom. With the election being called for 24 November, I sincerely hope that Kevin Rudd's "working families" does not become the "ladder of opportunity" so over-used by Latham (who???). I believe "working families" has become a euphemism for the following:
  • Cashed up bogans with offspring who have their own televisions and game consoles in their bedrooms
  • Bigoted folk who last voted Labor when Dennis O'Connor and "winged keel" were part of the everyday Aussie vernacular whom now vote for Howard because "boat people" no longer means hanging around Freo in deck shoes waving Aussie flags
  • Single parents on workplace agreements that were not generated by a mining company
  • Any family with an income that's above the disability pension and below, say, um, like, $300,000
  • Swinging voters
  • Flying pigs
Basically, "working families" means people who are not very very very rich and people who are not on guest visas working for Manpower. I just hope that the people whose hearts the ALP need to touch consider themselves "working families".

I think Howard's five point plan (it's the economy stupid, families with a mum and a dad and baptised kids are best, fridge magnets for all, the environment RULES OK! and black people are now cool too) is too little too late and I hope Australians see it for what it is - a last minute attempt to tap into the public mood to win over the public.

I think it will be very difficult for Rudd to win - but I hope he can do it! Bring it on Australia! I wish I was there - I'd spend every waking second campaigning.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Meet Kelly

You may remember Nicki from X Factor in an earlier blog entry who sung I Will Always Love You by Whitney Housten (yes, I know it was originally Dolly Parton, but it was ole Witney Crack Ho Housten who put the song on the international karaoke map). Well, meet Kelly.

This new phonomenon of instant fame - just add water - tears and lots of them - brings a secondary phenomenon. When once your bad performance being likened to a singing Lassie would be relegated to the fish and chip wrappers of collective audience memory, it is now uploaded in celluloid cyberspace perpetuity. You've donned your best frock, practiced with your toothbrush and signed away your rights for a shot of five minute fame, only to be a star performer for all the wrong reasons with a YouTube fan base in the millions.

I wonder what this next chapter of infamity does for Kelly's self esteem. The YouTube viewer comments about her and her family are filled with bile and vitriole based on five minutes of telly. The next question is whether or not this family is always truly hideous, or whether the Jerry Springer devil had posessed them for the five minutes of Kelly's audition and made them act like pretentious, self righteous fools. Which is what reality TV preys on, but rarely considers the after effect.

Take this clip for example:

and here's what the show and the subsequent uploading of her horrendous performance has had on her life:

Should we have sympathy? I say not. They want instant fame, they get infamous instantly and become an outlet for cyber punters to vent their spleens at people they don't know, don't care about and can laugh at. I sure did. That's entertainment.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Glastonbury Pics

I never added them, but you can see them on Facebook by clicking here. They are very cool lomo pics.

We went to Don and Christine's fabulous English wedding in a field on the weekend, complete with drum and bass music in world war II bunkers, Pimms and a pork pie wedding cake. Everyone wore black, red and white to make for a very St Kilda look. One of the readings was "The Owl and The Pussy Cat", and when read out loud at a wedding, rather than in the context of a bedtime story, it is rather hilarious, haughty and entirely rude.

After that, it was straight to London to see Prince with Ros who had joined us for the weekend. Prince funked it up at the Millennium Dome and we had el primo seats bought on eBay. Nice.

Can't wait to be coming home to Australia. I'm most looking forward to being in the thick of it when it comes to John Howard's demise. Oh what a joy it is to watch it unfold. Of course, I'm also looking forward to seeing our families and friends. Look out for invites etc on Facebook - I'm sure there will be a gathering or two.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Che nessuno dorme, soltanto voi Luciano.

Luciano Pavarotti is dead. I heard the news today on my favourite form of news sharing - no, not Facebook, but the radio. His signature tune, the aria from Nessun Dorma from Puccini's Turandot, was just played and it woke me up good and proper from my breakfast slumber.

He made opera accessible and popular.
I don't have anything else to add really, except I wish I had seen him perform in person.

PS - YouTube is going bananas today. It's a wonderful phenomenon that folk are turning to YouTube to post their message about Pavarotti's death.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ode to Kevin

Ode to Kevin

It would be
To hear you ushered in
Before the black rod for
Question time.

Your glasses,
Steaming up in mandarin diplomacy
While you passionately argue for
Fair Trade

Fair hair
Thick and mousy
I don't mind if you got drunk
And frequented
One of those bars

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A sneaky peak....

I went to Edinburgh on Friday and Saturday to soak up the last the fringe festival had to offer. I managed to blag my way in to the Edinburgh Television Festival, a five hundred quid per head affair. A friend of mine, Claire, was going so I sneaked in to hear some of the lectures and plenaries. I even asked a question regarding my pet interest of micro audiences during the plenary on Who will win the web? The panel for this plenary included TV execs from ITV and Channel 4 and reps from Reuters, the Telegraph and the my favourite daily tome, The Guardian.

I asked them if in the future, a parishioner from a Pentecostal church might download their church's news from the web, where they would receive ten minutes of Reuters news followed by ten minutes of Jesus news. A different person might download the same ten minutes of Reuters followed by ten minutes of union news if they were downloading from the Transport and General Workers Union Website. I asked what impact this would have on traditional forms of news and whether it would be a source of income for news outlets, given traditional methods such as newspapers' revenue was falling.

I couldn't believe my luck at sneaking in to this amazing conference. During morning tea, I scored a lanyard so I thought I didn't have to sneak around anymore. But, an observant usher noticed I was sans name tag and refused me entry into my next plenary, a role play involving news desk editors from the Guardian, the BBC, Sky News and Al Jazeera and a "real time" kidnapping on British soil of a highly decorated Iraq War vet. I was shown the door, but luckily it was via the wheel chair entrance, so I sneaked back in and befriended Conservative MP John Whittingdale, the head of the House of Commons Select Committee on Communications. We had an interesting chat - he used to be Margaret Thatcher's press secretary and was there the day she was dumped by her Party. We watched Terror Tapes - Broadcast or Be Damned together and concluded that we would both seek the resignation of the Sky News editor for showing the live footage of the hostage takers being raided, which resulted in the death of the hostage. Click here to see more.

And then of course, I ate my free lunch, which included fruit kebabs, mushroom tapenade on spinach flat bread and boccini cheese with tomato and basil. And a free t-shirt for both me and Jock and some fair trade chocolate. I didn't eat the t-shirt in case you were wondering...

To show you that the state of television in the UK is all the better for this conference, where the greatest minds in this TV nation get together over a weekend, here are two clips which appeared on telly last week....

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Royal Post - standing in the bread line

If there is one thing the British know how to do well it is form a line. There is a unique order to lining up in Britain. If, for example, there are three ATMs, one single line will form in front of them so the first in line goes to the next available magic money machine.

This is equally true of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Gatwick Airport, places where I have had further opportunity to stand patiently in an orderly queue talking about the weather to British people I don't know and won't meet again.

However, the Partick Post Office queue really doesn't cut the mustard. The floor of this post office is slightly concave where thousands have stood before me, making the once blue, now grey carpet threadbare . There is no banter about the weather, just a sombre line of people, staring forward waiting for their turn to shout through a small window to the post office clerk.

Invariably, I will be behind the person who wants a passport, holding up the line for ten minutes while the clerk checks the list for official justices of the peace ensuring tight personality checks under new terror laws of said passportee.

This is the worst of the wait, for now my iPod would have run out of batteries and the personal sanctuary in my head is now at the mercy of the post office line. I am now hearing a repetitive symphony of ambulance sirens on their way to the western infirmary, the warbling call of the Big Issue seller outside (Biiiiiig issue...tae help the homeless buy ye biiiiiig issue ootside....ah only harve one left, buy it so ah can gae hame") and the bloop te bloop blap followed by Ringo Starr saying "Come on Thomas and Friends" of the coin-operated child's Thomas the Tank Engine ride which hides some carpetless floor boards in the Post Office.

Finally it's my turn. Now I have to make a decision about whether to buy a first or second class stamp - surely Britain is the only country to extend the class system to small sticky bits of paper....

The clerk asks me what I would like. "I loaf of bread" I say. He gives me a funny look. "Well, for the amount of time I've been waiting in this line, I thought I had been transported back in time to a communist Russia bread line.

A wry smile. "A second class stamp for you then?"

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Get Up! Support the ad and vote Howard OUT!

I'm a big supporter of Get Up as you know. Here's the latest venture from the team:

Pass this on to as many friends as possible!

Now, I've been totally slack with the blog lately and it's not just because of (evil) facebook, it's also because I have:
  • been going to the movies
  • getting DJ lessons (what fun!)
  • working way too hard - it really has been insane
  • visiting Grannie
  • going to the Edinburgh fringe festival (more fun!)
  • it's all a bit of a blur
So I'm sorry - I will try and be creative on Monday. The same day I[m going back to the gym...

Thursday, August 02, 2007


DOB DOB DOB. It's the centenary of Scouts this week. I was a Scout once. And a guide and a brownie. I have mostly fond memories of this organisation, but towards the latter years of my involvement things began to change.

Amid the frivolous fun of meeting at the dingy halls in various towns and cities across Australia, singing songs and baking cakes, I recall para military activities such as marching in and out of parade to raise the flag, playing stalking games in the bush (which included camouflaged faces and various native shrubbery stuck in piggy tails) and truly evil commando courses which I never finished because of inferior arm muscles unable to a) pull me over the wall, b) get me across the rope bridge over water - very troubling for me or c) I managed to convince Brown Owl/Akela that as the patrol leader I would be best served making sure the possums were not finding a way into our larder rather than spend the afternoon searching for muscles I didn't have.

As scouts from across the planet gathered in Brownsea this week, the young lad invited to speak at the celebratory jamboree quoted a speech from Baden-Powell where he called for peace, comradeship and cooperation instead of rivalry between "classes, creeds and countries which have done so much in the past to produce wars and unrest". All good stuff from Robert the Powell. However, what he was really saying was "you can't run an A1 empire on C3 men".

This is always overlooked when folk romanticise about the Scouting movement. That it was meant to celebrate the fact that boys could be trusted to run errands during the Boer War, it was really started to give the lower class boys something to do and prepare them for war - and the "unrest" he spoke of was of the lower classes' expectation that they should be socially mobile and question their place in society. He spoke of bricks in the wall being civilisation and if you were a lower brick that was rotten, the wall would fall down and the higher bricks would not be able to look out for the country.

As I look back I can forgive this quasi caring sentiment of the great unwashed, because practically, I got more out of Scouting than the sum of being slightly bitter about the underlying reasons for starting it. I did learn to pitch an A frame tent, tie a bowline and slip knots (v. helpful for tying up protest banners) and later in Scouting life, learned how to chair meetings, change the oil in a car and put a succinct argument forward as to why I had a problem organising Scouts to be waiters at a Masons function, all under the watchful eye of volunteer leaders.

If we all dybbed and dobbed our way through life, perhaps there would be less rivalry among us.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Face Off

I'm addicted to facebook. This online community is shared by about 40 of my friends and we communicate by sending cyber gifts, poking each other, planting flowers in each other's virtual gardens and playing realtime scrabble.

I've also joined online groups within facebook such as:
My personal favourite is the "I wish I lived in Bennelong so I could vote for Maxine" group (1505 members). I have been buoyed by the amount of political discussion on Facebook and any old fogie luddite out there who thinks that young people or indeed the general proletariat aren't interested in politics is wrong. A good measure of this is the high level political debate going back and forth in cyberspace. There are many new facebook groups that have emerged, such as the "I wish I lived in Bennelong so I could vote old Johnny Boy back in" group with 51 members, the "Maxine McKew should go back to the ABC where socialists like her belong" group with 176 members and my personal favourite - the "I wish I lived in Bennelong so I could vote Green but pref. Maxine" group, advertising broadly that the Greens are well and truly finished. The good news for the Greens though, is this group has ten more members than Howard's group!

John Howard has his own profile on facebook, although I question its authenticity. I sent him a cyber present in the form of a bucket with the message "you make me ill". He sent a cyber-present back in the form of a roadside witch's cap with the message "Kevin Rudd is a health hazard".

I am most pleased about joining the apostrophe group. We have a lot of fun picking up spelling error's where apostrophe's or the wrong words are used when they shouldn't of(sic).

Best get to work - facebook has made me late again!

Pic - it has nothing to do with this entry except to say that I miss my family and friends and am looking forward to seeing everyone when I get home.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I am delighted to introduce my personal contribution to Sydney's Be Afraid Be Very Afraid Terrorism and Natural Disaster campaign. I feel that the current GoBag is not reflective of these modern times in which we live.

Hence, please consider using my GoBag for the impending apocalypse. I'm not sure where you would actually go after the inevitable large scale disaster that is coming your way given that Australia is surrounded by water.

The Bag: A fine quality "I'm not a Smug Twat" bag taking after its cousin "I'm not a plastic bag". You'll note that it has a non-fastening top for easy looting on your way out of town.
2b pencil and ballot paper: for stuffing ballot boxes to overthrow the Government.
Economics for Dummies: in case you pass by John Howard on your way out of Australia....he wasn't a good treasurer apparently.
"Unafraid" tube: This looks like a tube station sign, giving the terrorists a piece of "what for", but it's actually an inflatable ring that you can wear whilst trying to catch the gulf stream so you can find Nemo and get the hell out.
You Tube: "if you are watching this, I have been herded...out of Australia with my GoBag"
A half eaten chocolate bar: the best survival food on the planet
Dolce and Gabbana's reflective disco pants: As seen on the catwalks recently in Milan. It may be a state of emergency, but that doesn't mean you have to a) lose your sense of fashion and b) lose your sense of fun - a good boogie is the cultural heurism needed to remedy a mass panic.

I feel better now....

Sunday, July 15, 2007

MySpace Cadet

I was only just getting the hang of MySpace and Bebo, and now Facebook has come along. It's an online community that is addictive and unhealthy. Jeannie pointed out that Jock and I were sitting in the same room on different computers facebooking instead of talking. I don't think that is normal.

Facebook - you can poke friends, send them cyber presents, throw cyber food. The good thing about it is you can find friends who you haven't seen for years.

Facebook made me late for work the other day.

I added the magic 8 ball application and was relieved to discover that after I asked it if summer was ever going to arrive in Glasgow, it said "Most Definitely". It really has been a shite summer.

On a completely different subject...

Today has been a great day. It started off at David's flat, v early in the morning, who has a fancy telly that can receive live Dockers matches. They lost...bloody Dockers. But hey - my heart went flutter flutter when I saw Subi oval bathed in glorious winter sun. Bloody Dockers.

Then, it was off to Graeme and Jenni's to meet their new baby, Alex, who was like an Anne Geddes photograph. I did a Celebrity Chef, and made everyone lunch (polenta with smoked shitake mushrooms, proscuito and rocket; bruschetta with yellow tomatoes and avocado oil; fruit platter and wait for it.....TIM TAMS, which Jock found at Sainsburys - who now have none left on their shelves).

This arvo, Avril is coming over for a Sunday roast (we bought a corn fed organic chook at the farmers' markets). YUM.

Life doesn't get much better! Here's me at the Live Earth concert while Metallica was playing. I am SO ROCK CHIC.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pipe Dreams

This is so cool! Are you bored at work? Tired of daydreaming when what you really wished you were doing is the amazing pipe cleaner dance???

click here! I highly recommend E and F as a good starting on the link and have fun!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Live Earth Wembley

I was there with my mate Mike!.. (who you'll recall from such wedding performances as "Under Milkwood"). I flew down especially to be at the London concert. Now, before anyone shouts "hypocrite!", I offset my carbon miles by donating to Oxfam and GetUp and soon in the not too distant future I'll point to a group of trees and say "we should plant more of those"... There's been some criticism about the Live Earth concerts because of the private jets to ferry rock stars and the amount of energy required to put on the lighting show. Bob Geldof summed it by saying: "Everybody's known about [it] for years. We're all fucking conscious of global warming".

If you're already on the global warming hydrogen fueled solar panelled bus, there wasn't much to be gained from the preaching that went on via crappy films and cartoons between artists and the didactic warbling of the artists themselves. I was there for the concert and the excitement of being at Wembley stadium and for no other reason than that. It was awesome. When else am I going to see Madonna, Metallica and Spinal Tap all on the same day?

The concert was like getting a tasting plate at a restaurant -each artist only did four or five songs. The Foo Fighters, Metallica and the Beastie Boys were all madmen and the stadium was electric during their performances. But it was Madonna who did it for me. She was all class. This video does not do the performance justice, but here it is anyway...she's a bit like a girl version of Iggy Pop - cavorting sinew....

The Abba rift in this song is genius.

Also genius is the band Nunatak, who made Live Earth truly global by making sure there was a concert on every continent. Nunatak are a bunch of scientists on Antartica.

Can I end this entry on three points:

1. The Live Earth pledge: we've been asked to pledge something we're going to do for climate change. I'm already doing the canvas bag thing, the light bulb thing, the turn your telly really off as opposed to sort of standby off thing and the public transport to work thing. So, from now on, I'm going to take a reusable lunch box to work to use at the local tuck shop instead of the polystyrene one they give me. That's the little thing. The big thing, and I'm going to have to think about whether its feasible, is to see about following my friend Rachael Robert's lead and get an Environment House for my local suburb of Partick. That's a mammoth commitment, so I need to think about it.

2. The Logistics: Can I just say that the logistics of Wembley stadium are truly wondrous. 80,000 people leave the stadium at the same time and we basically just walked down the path at a steady pace and onto the tube at Wembley Park.

3. Resource Security: When the Australian Government says the term "resource security" why does it mean oil and not water??????

Friday, July 06, 2007

Take your hat off to Nelson II

How very apt. Cartoon borrowed from Steve Bell at the Guardian.
I love the way Blair has just collapsed.
What a joy it was to read the Guardian today and see this image in the letters page!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Take your hat off to Nelson!

Good onya Brendan Nelson for telling the truth about the war in Iraq. I like the new spin "resource security" that Nelson put on his gaff.

I wonder if they use the term "resource security" when it comes to water?

Meanwhile, back in the Get Up bunker, Louise Barry has made a video for Mr Howard. You will recognise Louise as the woman who questioned Howard on Australia's foreign policy when he visited her in hospital after the July 7 attacks in London. I'm urging everyone to donate some $$ to Get Up so this can be aired on TV. It is about oil. We knew it was about oil all along. We knew it was all about the alliance with the US.

In fifty years time, we'll be the deputy sheriff to China and we will be at war with some small nation with a large underground lake over "resource security"...The Water Wars...I can't wait...hang on....doesn't Australia have an underwater lake somewhere??????


What was the sub editor thinking? An unfortunate placement of an ad...

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Waking Up

My morning wake up routine goes....
Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen;
pour myself a cup of (fair trade) ambition,
and yawn, and stretch, and try to come to life.
Tune in to radio 4 and the blood starts pumping
check out the web, the Cappo's need thumpin'
with folks like me on the job from on average 8.23 - 5.48

However, this morning, still half asleep, I turned on the radio to hear "...and we'll bring you more after the news about Alan Johnston's release". And suddenly, I was very awake with my ear to the radio for the rest of the morning. What a joy it was to hear that Alan was freed. In his interview with the BBC, he made a comment about what freedom really feels like ("Just to be able to look at a door and say I can walk through that, or see the sun and think, I can feel that") and that his heart goes out to all those who are currently being held against their will. As a journalist he seeks the truth and reports it to us first hand, and at the moment of his release, he chose to talk about others around the world who are imprisoned. I had a tear in my eye and felt quite emotional when we were talking about it at work around the water cooler.

Good on ya Alan. Click here for Amnesty information.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Glasgow Airport

It was the first day of summer holidays and new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown's third day in office. It was raining.... then the flaming jeep plows into the main terminal at Glasgow Airport and a terrorist attack puts the city on alert. It's a miracle no one was hurt.

For the past year we have been working at Glasgow Airport talking to cleaners who get paid a measly 10 pence above minimum wage. We've been saying to them that they don't work in a safe place anymore and worse, they are the lowest paid airport cleaners in the country. Any one of them could have been working on the footpath where the car hit the other day. Cleaners are so often front line and so often forgotten about. I've been looking at the photos of the attack and thinking - I walk that footpath every week. But somehow, it doesn't feel real, maybe because innocent people were not killed.

And now today we find out that a doctor in Australia has been arrested over the failed terror attempts. Surely this should bring it home to me - that my adopted city and home country are clearly under attack. If only I had my fridge magnet with me...It still doesn't feel real. I don't feel alarmed.

Eeeuuch... Alexander Downer is on BBC Radio 4. One of the pleasures of living here is I don't have to listen to Howard ministers. Downer is blaming Beattie for the Indian born, Liverpool trained recently arrested doctor... I blame Victoria for sending all their retirerees to Queensland puting the health service under pressure.

We've organised a meeting next week with the airport cleaners' bosses. The cleaners are in the union now and we're hopefully going to gain union recognition and a pay increase. They bloody well deserve it!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


We have survived Glastonbury but only just. Our backs ache after trudging in mud for 5 days. It's incredible to think that a city of 180,000 people can spring up over night and still provide decent sanitation for everyone. Glastonbury really is a wonder to behold.

Here pictured is our second favourite DJ in the world, after El Hornet from Pendulum, DJ How 'Ard. He is a monster on the decks, spinning wicked tunes. We were so lucky to catch his set.


Iggy Pop
You know when you get a piece of steak, and there's a big chunk of hearty meat, then there's a little line in the meat followed by a smaller piece of hearty meat. Well, Iggy Pop is that line. I tell you, the man is all sinew. He is mental. He comes out on stage wearing jeans only and starts Madonna dancing on the speakers, pointing at his nipples. It's incredible - the man is nearly 107 years old. During his set he asked fans to come up on stage, so 300 stormed the barricades and for twenty minutes Ig wondered round chatting to people then begging them to get off the stage. No-one moved until the 50,000 strong audience started shouting "get orf, get orf". Madness. I loved his concert but can't tell you a single song he sang because it was all too crazy.

Billy Bragg
I was lucky enough to meet Mr Bragg because I was in the Union caravan display when he came in. We had a twenty minute conversation about the new patriotism sweeping the UK and the use of the St George flag. He signed his book for me. Billy's gig was utterly fantastic. He is a genuine all-round entertainer. An absolute highlight. If you get the chance to see him - do it! Here he is doing U2's One Love but making the audience do actions to "Let's drop the debt and it will be all right"...

Random Meetings
There were around 20 of our mates at Glasto which we randomly met trudging though the mud. What fun it is to bump into mates when there's 180,000 others in your way!

Regular readers of this blog will know that Jock and I are mad Pendulum fans. To see them live rather than DJing was electric. What made it even better, was that you could have been listening to this Scarborough band at the Hyde Park Hotel - the were so Oz, so Rock! We had to get into the East Dance tent early to avoid disappointment, which meant listening to Mr Boring Pants DJ for an hour. It was like watching the test pattern before your favourite TV show. The crowd was so amped by the time they came on.

Chemical Brothers
Who never disappoint. After Pendulum it was a walk over to the Other Stage to see the Chemicals. What a way to finish Glasto. Their set included this evil looking clown that stared down at us through the torrential rain. What I love about the crowds at gigs in the UK is that they have flags and other things on poles, like blowup kangaroos, so their mates can find them in the crowd.

Hot Chip
"Over and over and over and a monkey with a miniature cymbal". Hot Chip are the Math Club who were given instruments. I have never set eyes on such a geeky group of musicians. That's another thing I'm loving about music at the moment - anyone can do it and the cool kids are the geeks. Great set - check out this vid - it's fantastic.

Michael McGibbon's T-shirt
My mate Mike flew from Sydney to be at Glasto. He wore this shirt with a pic of George Bush and one of his Bushism quotes about cloning.

We kept going back to a hippy Indian stall to re-fuel on mango lassies. YUM. Actually, the food at Glastonbury was top notch. There were so many hippies there that we were spoiled for choice when it came to vegetarian options - which is the way forward when you are surrounded by mud and long drops.

We simply would not have survived without them.

The Secret Pub
There is a secret pub near Lost Vagueness (where we caught a glimpse of Fat Boy Slim dressed as a bumble bee doing a DJ set). By the time we got there, our friends Jamie and Shane had beaten us, as had the bouncers to let people in. So we ran down the brae and were lucky enough not to get caught entering this little garden paradise surrounded by elms, where I spent the rest of the evening until sunrise, long after the boys had gone home.

What a weekend. Thanks Michael Eavis and Worthy Farm!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The International Prototype

Back by popular demand is the How to be Smart segment of Invisible Inkblot. You can read this little missive and by the end of it, impress your friends at your next dinner party. Memorise and store the following sequence in your left breast dinner jacket pocket and be ready to pull it out at the next Young Liberal Party fundraiser at Kirribilli House.

Are you aware that an international search for a new kilogram is on? The old French one is disintegrating as we speak, and may now only weigh 996.314159265 grams. Ce n'est pas possible! I hear you cry - how can I possibly ask for un kilo de pomme si vous plait next time I'm at a French market if the International Prototype for the kilo is falling foul of the air and elements. I knew égalité, liberté, fraternité was a front. They've been ripping us off with their fancy euro, soft cheeses and dodgy scales for years!

Lucky then some Aussie scientists from the Australian National Measuring Institute are inventing a new kilo. Before anyone accuses me of making this up, this is a real institute, where breakthroughs in Australian measurement have been made (like reinventing the metre) and young prepubescent boys can line up on a Friday afternoon and get themselves checked out before uploading their profile onto Bebo or MySpace.

Personally, the recipe for jam in the Country Women's Association cook book where it says "place a kilo of sugar into a heavy based saucepan" has always done me fine.

In short, Aussie scientists are "...doing everything to really create a perfect object. It's not only near-perfect in roundness, but also the crystal purity, the atomic species and so on" create the perfect spherical kilogram.

I don't know about you, but I marvel at scientists. Being the bachelor of art type, science alludes me, and I have been known to impress friends by simply saying, "y'know how if you drop your toast and it lands vegemite side down, well, that's science".

Go Australia go! Get that kilogram and those French sorted out!