Thursday, 12 March 2009


Well the work trip to Woop Woop was called off due to flooding rain, so I returned from the lush, green Hunter Valley to crispy, yellow Victoria. It's like landing on a big Anzac bikkie. I got out of going back the following week due to a wedding that Sunday (who gets married on a Sunday night?), but didn't escape going back to finish the job off all last week, which involved lots of rolling around in wombat poo and wild dog piss (I end up in the strangest places for work). My laptop is still broke. Suffice to say blogging has been a bit tricksy of late.

But now I'm back in the office and have my favourite modus operandi ala procrastination! Wheeeee! So I thought I'd use valuable company time to finish this meme I got tagged for way back in 1792 by the irrepressible Kath Lockett. Today's meme is brought to you by the letter 'S'.


Simon was my best friend when I was growing up. Born six days before me, Simon was my 'best friend' because our mothers were best friends and for their convenience they told us we were "best friends" too. Only problem was that we didn't actually like each other. We were chalk and cheese. I like to think I was the cheese.

Simon was the type of kid my Mum (with 35 years teaching experience) would professionally classify as "a little shit". While I wandered around by myself looking for bugs and birds and trains, Simon was wandering around hitting people over the head with a cricket bat. He was aggressive, loud and a bad sport. I was a relatively peaceful, timid and hated sport of any kind (possibly because of Simon's behaviour, now I think about it). My dad recalls when Simon was a little kid he said "When I grow up, I want to be an army." When it was suggested that he meant to say "I want to be in the army" Simon said "No! I'm going to be an army!" Kind of cute, in a scary way.

But many moons ago our mothers had a major bitch-fight and I haven't seen my "best friend" for many years. He turned out alright, the last I heard he was marrying some horrible, pretty thing and was busy setting up a life of misery for himself. I hear a bit of goss from time to time from his older sister, of which my own sister and I remain good friends with. I have nothing against Simon and I'm sure he's a decent enough bloke, it's just that we were never destined to stay "best friends" for ever.


Hated it. Was good at about half of it. Despised the other half. Left it as soon as was legal.... and have regretted doing so ever since. School, for me, largely sucked eggs. But having qualifications is priceless (for where I want to go) so I'm slowly and painfully clawing my way back through the process of obtaining the pieces of paper I wish I'd got 15 years ago. I'm still not a fan of the system, but I've learned that you've gotta jump through the hoops, whether you agree with the hoop setup or not.

The Man at the Pub says, "Stay at school kiddies!"

3. SEA

Spending most summers of my childhood being tossed around in the salty washing machine of Sydney's north shore does things to a person. Aside from a snotty nose and sand in my jocks, I developed an obsession with all things marine. Whales, sharks, fish, seals, coral, kelp, whales, islands, coelenterates, molluscs and other bi-valves, I spent many happy days with mask and snorkel checking it all out. I even had a pet pippie called Kevin who lived in an ice-cream bucket. He died the night I brought him home. He's buried in a matchbox on a cliff overlooking his beloved Manly beach.

But over the years my obsession with the big blue wobbly thing has waned, to the point where I'm now a bit scared to be in it. Well there's scary shit under there man, ugly shit with sharp teeth and poisonous spines and stuff. Still interesting though.


Too soon? I've been puffing on something of both the legal and illegal kind since I was in year 8 and a packet of Peter Jackson Extra Mild 20's cost $1.88. Funny how the price of dope hasn't changed in 20 years.
Two months ago I stopped the chimney impersonation and it wasn't as traumatic as I expected. I should probably attribute much of this to the hynotherapy sessions I undertook. To me this shows that nicotine addiction is mostly psychological, and not as physical as the spruikers of patches and gums would have you believe. I saw you can buy "Pre-quitting patches" now. What a scam.
Things are great! I don't sweat as much, a have more breath and stamina when walking and engaging in other vigorous pursuits, and things smell much stronger, which is not always a good thing, depending on how much dahl I've eaten the night before. The only possible drawback is that I've put on a few kilos, which I was already doing after my pre-wedding diet ended last November anyway. But with saving $70 per week on fags, I've nearly paid off the hypnotoad already.


With all the loonies in my family and all the shit I've smoked over the years, I'm quite amazed that I never ended up hugging myself in a rubber room (touch wood). My dad did however, and my best mate... and my grandmother and her mother. And sometimes I wonder about my sister. And my uncle is suffers from epilepsy and my mother's neurotic ways borders on mentally ill.
It's really hard to help someone with schizophrenia because rationality goes out the window. What you say and what is heard are completely different, and what you hear is gibberish. On a sad note, my besty has been in the "Extra Care Unit" of the local loony bin since around New Years. Every time I go to visit him I'm told he's not well enough to see anyone. Looks like he may not bounce back this time... a lost cause perhaps? I may come across a bit blase about all this, but what can one do? Scream? Cry? Stamp my feet? Shake my fists at the sky?

Sometimes I think 'Schizophrenia' is a generic term for "We've got absolutely no idea what is going wrong with this person's brain".


Simultaneously the world's most brilliant and most evil invention of all time.

7. SELF CONTROL (or lack of it)

See above. But then again, see #4. It would seem I'm making some progress.


My sister is my only sibling. Two years older than myself, we've a close relationship for which we're grateful. When I hear about the estranged relationships common amongst siblings, I realise we're quite lucky to get along famously.... to a point that is.
My sister looked after me from the day I was born. She saved my life when I fell into our pool as a toddler (though I suspect she pushed me). We used to play dress-ups, which consisted of her putting me in a dress and mums old high-heels, loading me down with fake pearls and smearing lipstick all over my face. She used to let me hang out with her 'cool' older friends and gave me her hand-me-downs, like Wham and Culture Club 12" singles and Billy Idol posters, which with hindsight, I'm not sure I should be entirely grateful for.
Then came hormone-fuelled, psychopathic, adolescent rebellion, which I won't go much into but it ended in her leaving home at age 15 and I following her at age 16. She let me move in with her and her BF and I spent the next 6 months sleeping under a coffee table in Kilsyth, then a small shed in the backyard. We then all went down to Warrnambool to party study for the next three years. Since then we've lived together several times, I've nannied her children, we've travelled together to the Solomon Islands, West Papua, Bali and Jakarta. It's been great.

But over the last few years we've drifted apart. She lives in the country, 2 hours drive away and we've changed as we've gotten older. We have less in common these days, aside from our love of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. People have a strong reaction to my eccentric sister. They either instantly love her or are immediately suspicious of her. The latter is not entirely without foundation as she does tend to have a badly disguised, self-serving agenda behind many of her plans. She believes it's better to put people on the spot than ask for something in advance. So I love seeing my sister, but in increasingly small doses. I could write for ages on our relationship, but this is a meme, not a bloody psychology thesis. Oh, and her name starts with 'S' too.


Not the musical. I hates musicals! The ocean. You see I've got a thing about islands. I love 'em. I dream about them. Islands to me are mysterious, magical places. So naturally the South Pacific is Mecca for people obsessed with small pieces of land surrounded by large expanses of water. I've only been there once, well to the edge of it (three hour transit at Auckland excluded). I was lucky enough to spend three weeks on Buka and Bougainville in 2001, a year after the civil war ended. Sean Dorney, the ABC's man in the Pacific since 1974 once described Bougainville as "the jewel in the Pacific". While I have little to compare it with, I'd like to agree. Dense, verdant rainforests capped with smouldering volcanoes (in 'paradise' the beaches are black), cut by wide rivers and raging waterfalls and ringed by pristine, electric blue coral reefs of immense biological diversity. A land peppered with World War II wrecks and tiny villages of thatched huts and treehouses occupied by kindly folk of good humour. Sure life's pretty tough there, but I can't help but heap false, romatic notions on this 'paradise'. It's a western tradition.

My ultimate nerd adventure fantasy... island hopping from Sydney to Terra del Fuego on either a P-38 Lightning or a 18th Century Sloop (without all the friggin' in the riggin'). I'll need three years off for that, thanks boss. Well, I'll need a long holiday after all this blogging.

Here's some usesless Pacific facts.
  • The Pacific Ocean covers a third of Earth's surface, more area than all of it's land areas combined.
  • The deepest point in the Earth's crust of in the Pacific near Guam, at a depth of 10,911 metres. It is home to some seriously weird shit.
  • There are around 25,000 islands and countless atolls in the Pacific ocean, most of them south of the equator. Some of them have very exotic names, like Mangareva, Tikopia, Niue and Fraser and Hamilton.


Gee this meme is really bringing out my inner geek. Let's just say I have a telescope and I have magazine subscriptions. That sounds incredibly dodgy, so I might add that they are related to the science of astronomy. My interest waxes and wanes (a lunar pun! Ahh, astronomical humour) but thinking about space is my ultimate escape. It tends to put things into perspective for me and makes things such as schizophrenia and the South Pacific and Snooze buttons the minor oddities they really are. If this meme was for the letter 'D', 'Daydreamer' would top the list.

It's been a long post, so thanks for sticking with it. Regular programming will resume shortly.

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At 12 March 2009 at 22:45 , Blogger the projectivist said...

pre-quitting patches?
what a load of tosh!

i must have quit about the same time as you. i just made up my mind to do it one day, and decided to never smoke another one. ever.

great meme.

At 13 March 2009 at 14:13 , Blogger Kath Lockett said...

That's brilliant, MATP. The 'Simon' game photo brought back some memories. I didn't have one, but sure as well wanted one.

I'm with you on the Schizophrenia thing. Meds and assistance are fine up to a point but it's pretty obvious that it's one of life's utterly miserable, mysterious diseases that people suffer from; as do those who love them. I wish your mate well and your efforts to stop smoking.

At 13 March 2009 at 15:40 , Blogger Femikneesm said...

TMAP - I am thinking about giving up smoking. I've never thought about it before so I am counting this as progress.... Is that wrong?

At 13 March 2009 at 16:03 , Blogger The Man at the Pub said...

Projectivist - Good on ya! You have great willpower(?). Have you found it hard?

KL - I reckon you can find Simons at op shops. They are super retro at the moment, though not for long... I saw 'Retro' 90's T-shirts online the other say. Aaaaggghhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!

Femikneesm - You've really got to truly want to quit. Thinking about it is a start, but you've really got to have a strong desire to get rid of the habit forever. Write a list of all the positive things about smoking, then the negatives. You'll realise that there a few positives and even they are kind of lame excuses. Anyway, different things work for different people, and there are plenty of professionals that can help if you want to go the next step. But don't do nicotine replacement (patches, gums, etc). They are a scam.

At 13 March 2009 at 20:13 , Blogger the projectivist said...

Femikneesm i think that IS progress. i found that for the longest time i was smoking and wishing i could quit.

to be honest, The Man at the Pub, it really wasn't that difficult. the worst bit was when i'd forget that i'd given up. did you used to do that whole 'cigarette as a reward' thing?

'I'll just do this, and then i'll go and have a cigarette.'

and then i'd remember that i don't smoke any more. that was crushing. i find the evenings hardest. and when i really start to think about how damned good they are. like now. sigh. that's why i can't cheat and even allow myself one. ever.

At 15 March 2009 at 13:11 , Blogger DonkeyBlog said...

Ah ha! Went into hiding, hey? Well I found ya - ya derty dog

Nice new look

At 16 March 2009 at 14:38 , Blogger eleanor bloom said...

I loved the Simon pic too! forgot all abouts that game. i recall it involved long beeps followed by mild expletives, followed by a procession of persistent beeps again, more foul language, bleeps, etc...

Am sorry the update about your friend is not better news.

Sounds like your sister and mother (etc) could be members of my family.

At 16 March 2009 at 14:56 , Blogger The Man at the Pub said...

P - I did cigarettes not as a reward for having done something, but as an excuse to not to do something.

DonkeyBlog! - Now there's a blast from the past. You still living in a Yurt in outer Mongolia or whatever it is you do? I'll be over for a stickybeak. Glad you like the new/old blog. I scrapped the old one, flirted with a few newbies, then went back to the original concept... whatever that, I forget. Must have been drunk.

EB - A Simon that swears at you! Awesome! Oh no wait, it was you doing the dirty cussing. Tsk ,tsk, tsk.
I suppose it's pointless to ask you if you want to swap families then.

At 2 April 2009 at 21:19 , Blogger The Blakkat said...

Noice post. Or should I say 'super post' in keeping with the theme. I totally get the space thing. Stephen Hawking = nerd crush.


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