Category Archives: February 2015 Posts

Water Birds

Tuesday, 6pm, Australia, 41 degrees.  The working day has ended and I’m driving to the local swimming pool.  The beating sun has made the car an oven and sweat drips down my forehead.  There’ll be no one at the pool – this is rural Australia and no one is ever anywhere on a week night.  I’m looking forward to a cool and tranquil dip.

I arrive and see the packed car park. Ugh. I can hear the noise from the pool before I’ve even opened my car door.  Apparently the one place everyone goes on a week night is the local pool.

I pay my $4 entry fee, and open the gate.  The squawking assaults me.  The flock of children are yelling, laughing, diving, bombing, swimming and running.  Icy-poles and ice-creams are dripping in abundance.

It’s swimming season in Australia.  Children are aplenty and families dominate public venues.  In each lane of the pool a squabble of young seagulls screech and splash about with no reverence to personal space.

I discover that they’ll all leave when their swimming lessons finish at 7pm.  I’ll have an hour of peace before the 8pm closing time.

I sit on the grass near the toddlers’ pool.  These little ducklings are quieter.  Lulled by the warm air, and the soothing water.  They bob quietly, their plastic arm bands and small ring floats keeping them from sinking.

A tubby little boy in flippers shuffles past me.  He’s a penguin if ever I’ve seen one.

7pm ticks round and the children leave in a loud exodus. Towels wrapped clumsily about their dripping bodies, parents rushing them home for dinner.

It’s finally time for me to heave myself into the water.

At that exact moment two football teams stride through the entry gates.  Approximately 44 young, extremely fit men (physically, if not mentally).  Simultaneously they strip off their t-shirts.  The peak physical condition is extraordinary.  If played in slow motion, this would be a scene from Magic Mike … their sweating torsos and chiselled six-packs are almost obscene.  They enter the pool in a spectacular display of strength, coordination and confidence.  These are the swans – large, strong, striking and agile.

All that’s left is for me to walk from my spot on the grass under a tree … into the pool.  In my swimming costume.  With 44 fit young men watching the only thing that’s there to watch – me.

I stand and pull my dress up over my head, my swimming costume (or to use the Australian “togs”) on underneath.

I waddle, glowing white to the shallow end of the large pool and descend the steps.  I’m a plump, awkward goose making its way to the water.  The lads of course have no interest in me (or, to be fair, me in them).  The two young female lifeguards come out of the canteen when they see the lads, altering their posture to best display their feathers.  These flamingos don’t enter the water but strut around the outside, preening and primping.  The male swans puff out their chests in response and dive theatrically.  There’s an unsubtle mating dance taking place.

The hour ends.  We exit the pool and return to our nests for the night.  The early morning will belong to the athletic birds – goggles firmly fastened while they diligently swim laps.  The pool is public and hosts a very diverse range of birdlife.

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Angie

Angie rises each morning with the sun.  She’s always been an early bird.  She stretches and yawns, devours a healthy breakfast, and takes the brief walk to join her colleagues at work for the day.  She’s lucky her commute is such an easy one.

She sees her boss, Brian, at the start of her shift in his usual scruffy attire.  Angie’s not convinced that he showers every morning.  He smells and often has dirt under his nails.  And it wouldn’t kill him to clean his shoes every once in a while.  She’s worked for him her entire life but they share no affection.  She’s indifferent to him, and he to her.

The daily work routine kicks in.  Everything Angie does is familiar and executed without thought.

She’s not bored.  Or maybe she is.  She doesn’t know.  This is her life as she’s let it play out.

She has no hobbies, she’s formed no real friendships.  She’s had children but they’ve grown up and now have lives of their own.  She met the father of her children at work in her young days, and he still works here.  The passion between them is long gone, and their relationship is now a perfunctory one.  Did she love him at the start?  She’s not sure, and it no longer matters.

Angie works all day, slowly, methodically.  Brian’s been in the open plan area for much of the day, busying himself with things Angie doesn’t care to think about.

The morning passes and she feels bloated from constant grazing.  She’s never been slim, but she’s not fat either.  She’s average when compared to the other women at work.  She likes that she fits in.  Chloe, two years younger than Angie, won a local beauty pageant when they were barely adults and has been slightly ostracised by the other women ever since.  Rhonda on the other hand ballooned after her last child and is grossly obese.  The women are polite to her, but they talk behind her back.  Angie knows it’s best to be middle-of-the-road.

It’s a warm day and in the afternoon Angie goes for a stroll.  The blazing sun leads her to rest under the shade of a tree.  Her full stomach has made her drowsy and she sits down for a bit, but the flies become too annoying so she heads back to work.  There aren’t many hours left till her shift is finished anyway.

The clock ticks on.  She’s looking forward to the end of the day as her stomach’s a little upset and she’s been to the toilet far too many times.  Ugh.  Why does  irritable bowel syndrome have to be part of her life?!

The brilliant pink sunset signals the day’s reaching an end.  She heads home, and after a light dinner, she settles down for sleep.  The day is over.  The sun has set and tomorrow there will be another.  Each day the same as the one before.

The sun rises the next morning.  Angela stretches, yawns, and looks out her bedroom window.  Angie’s resting under the tree near the milking shed that Brian’s hosing down, following the morning milking.

Angela remembers the day she named Angie (the only cow in the herd to have a name).  Angela had watched Angie for months, following the same routine, day in, day out.  That cow’s life was as inspiring as her own.   That cow was Angie.

Fifty Shades of Shite

Friday, 10am.  Eucalyptus trees and dry yellow paddocks are all I’ve seen for the two hours I’ve been driving, and they’re all I’ll see for the next two hours. The scorched scenery never alters but my entertainment can – it’s time for me to take the plunge from listening music, to listening to an audiobook.  Any little change in the monotony.

The hype of “Fifty Shades of Grey” prompted me to purchase the book two years ago.  I managed three pages.  It’s a scramble of cringe-inducing gibberish.

However, with the movie about to be released, and the endless hours I spend driving on straight flat roads, I decide to give the audiobook a go.

I regret it.

My eyes roll a lot during Fifty Shades of Grey but never in pleasure.  I’m no stranger to erotic literature, nor any condemner of it.  But Fifty Shades is appalling.  The first smack is the poor writing, but the hammer blow is the barrage of clichés.

Without irony or embarrassment, Fifty Shades presents an absurdly successful, talented, classy, rich and assertive alpha male with model looks who is also protective, sensitive and troubled.  Batman, Jesus, or Captain America would be more realistic.  The female character is equally far-fetched in her innocent naivety.

Beware, the following contains spoilers – if there was anything to be spoiled.

  1. Anastasia (Ana) Steele (the female protagonist) is a poor, geeky bookworm, unaware of her beauty.
  2. Ana is also a 21 year old virgin who has never had an orgasm. Her first climax comes about solely by Mr Christian Grey (the male protagonist) fondling her nipples. Immediately after that they have sex and she also climaxes.  Three minutes later they have sex again and, yes, she has another orgasm. (Sounds like an accurate reflection of every young woman’s first time …).
  3. Ana’s father died from an accident during Marine combat training the day after her birth (give me strength …)
  4. Mr Christian Grey is commanding and immensely intimidating.  And 27 years old.  27 year old men are never intimidating.  They’re 27 year old men.
  5. Christian Grey insists on being called Mr Grey and calls others by their titles (eg. Miss Steele).  The first time we meet him, his secretary announces “Mr Grey will see you now.”  Ridiculous (and the tagline on the movie poster).
  6. Mr Grey’s biological mother was a drug addicted prostitute who abused Christian.  She committed suicide (naturally) and 4 year old Christian was left with her body for four days (naturally) before being found.
  7. Mr Grey was adopted by wealthy and good parents (of course).  His adoptive mother is a paediatrician and his adoptive father is a lawyer (not an administrator and an IT assistant?).
  8. Mr Grey (at 27) is a self-made billionaire who runs his own telecommunication business “Grey Enterprises Holdings Inc.”  What he actually does is never quite explained.  His MI5-like phone calls are elusive: “They want two? … Okay, and what safety measures do we have in place? …. And they’ll go via Suez? … How safe is Ben Sudan? … And when do they arrive in Darfur? …. Okay, let’s do it. Keep me abreast of progress.”  Barney Stinson’s job was less enigmatic.
  9. Mr Grey’s a philanthropist, a helicopter pilot (he owns his own helicopter), and he attended Harvard.
  10. He speaks fluent French, is a classically trained pianist and a wine connoisseur.  His knowledge of art is perfect.

In short, Mr Grey is everything a 12 year old girl with no world experience, no knowledge of corporate environments, and no understanding of wealth would conjure.

The trailer to the movie is very good.  Money’s been put behind it, Beyoncé’s chipped in with a great version of “Crazy In Love”.   To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if the movie’s very enjoyable.  But the book.  Oh god, the book.  Christian Grey may introduce Anastasia Steele to the world of BDSM, but the book is the true torture.  I’m sticking with music for my long drives.