Apologies to Clement Clark Moore
Twas the night before Christmas,
when all through the flats ¹
Not a creature was stirring, not even the cats.
The stockings were hung on the liquor cabinet with care
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
The baby was screaming her lungs fit to burst
No matter how gently her Mum and Dad nursed.
We tried to meditate, use the power of Zen
But Imogen has just filled her nappy again.
When out on the lawn there arose
such a clatter
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the poor
sun burned grass
That gave a parched gasp in the drought that holds fast.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear
But the relo’s who turned up lugging their gear.
So up came the family bearing their gifts
for Christmas is time to mend all your rifts.
With presents and food and cartons of beer
and Santa Claus hats to add to the cheer!
"Now possums! now, magpies! now, willy wagtails!
On, blue tongues! On, spiders! on beetles and snails! ²
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Careful of the steps kids in case you may fall!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane leap
A family will under the Christmas tree heap.
Presents, and I tell you, they brought not a few
With tucker bag filled and one brought home brew.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the tin,³
The possums cavorting and making a din.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
I begged for the baby’s sake that they don’t make a sound.
But Grandparents, Uncles and Aunts can’t deny
That though sleeping babies on Christmas day try.
To ignore all the rowdy and bubbling noise
They must soon be wakened to play with their toys.
The table was set and the food was all very
scrumptious to look at as we all watched the telly.
For the cricket was on and we watched the ball bashers
As they finished the poor pommies hope for the ashes. 4
I opened the BBQ and took out the meat
as the rest of them all fumbled around for a seat.
Dads served their children and husbands their wife,
some poured the drinks and one grabbed the knife.
He spoke not a word yet, but went straight to his work
And cut up the ham and the turkey, then turned.
And he said a few words to the family that gathered,
Then onto his bird the gravy he lathered.
He said Merry Christmas and wished us all cheer
so we toasted his kindness with plenty of beer.
And I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he sank out of sight
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"
Merry Christmas to all. Just a quick warning. I have been roped into busking Christmas songs on Thursday afternoon out the front of Northbridge plaza. None of us have a scrap of talent, so if you are in the area, I apologise.
Flashman. I can't remember my password to electron soup, and my emails to you have been returned by the daemon who works at the e-post office. When I request a new password I get a Unable to send mail. Please contact the site admin. message. If you read this please email me a solution.
1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Tea or perhaps beer followed by tea if I run out of beer.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? I wish he would because I suck mightily at present wrapping.
3. Coloured lights on tree/house or white? No lights anywhere. This is the first year we bothered to get a tree (because of our new daughter), and it's a second hand one filched from the mother in law. It's waist high and has 3.2 baubles and sits sulking in the corner. Mrs A. is in the process of remedying the situation so she tells me.
4. Do you hang mistletoe? Only if I cut it with my golden sickle whilst dressed as a druid. So....no.
5. When do you put your decorations up? When I'm nagged hard enough.
6. What is your holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Australia's abundance of fresh summer fruits or ham with hot English mustard on toast.
7. Favourite holiday memory as a child: Long hot summer days with no school riding bikes in Balmain streets with my mates.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I don't remember precisely, but I assume it had something to do with other kids in the playground doing that supercilious "you don't still believe in...." that seven year olds do so well.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yes. Mrs A's family do the "pick a name out of the hat and buy a present for $30 for that one person" thing. Traditionally we gather to give those gifts on Christmas Eve.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? I make sure I have 20 or 30 seconds to spare and chuck the 3.2 aforementioned ornaments onto it.
11. Snow! Love it or dread it? Christmas is generally stinking hot and I spend as much of it as I can in the pool. I would love it to snow.
12. Can you ice skate? Yes, and when they invent ice skates for my backside I'll get better at it.
13. Do you remember your favourite gift? If it's music or a book then it is perfect. Generally it is music or a book.
14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you? Holidays?
15. What is your favourite holiday dessert? I'm a savoury guy. Not really into sweet food.
16. What is your favourite holiday tradition? The annual gathering of my maternal relations. It's a very relaxed time with good people.
17. What tops your tree? Pretty much everything in the house. Oh, I see what you mean. Nothing yet. I'll wait for my daughter to start school and bring something home for it.
18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? I am a bad present giver. No matter how many hints I get I never remember what it is I'm supposed to buy. On those rare occasions when I do get the right gift it's a great feeling.
19. What is your favourite Christmas song? Carol of the Birds.
20. Candy canes: see 15
21. Favourite Christmas movie? No idea.
22. What do you leave for Santa? A six pack of beer.
To be honest that's pretty selfish. Many others closer to her have lost a friend, a daughter, a sister, an aunt a work colleague &c, and I can imagine the rage and pain and tears, but I don't know them to console them.
I never even physically met my friend. She lived thousands of miles away in the USA. I knew her only through words and comments and photos and laughs. She sent her congratulations when my daughter was born. She left witty remarks and interesting tidbits on my blog. She was someone to read. Like a personal author who you can talk to. Someone who made the events of her every day life worthy of a story. From sit com to soap opera she and her faithful robot roamed Philadelphia and the wider world with an enthusiasm that was reminiscent of a child's first vision of a wonderland, and I know that enthusiasm was infectious to those she knew.
I think that it is a measure of her personality that when I heard the news today I felt loss for someone that as I said I had never met. I sat at my desk in stunned silence. I read the news again. I phoned Mrs A. who sounded genuinely sad too. Although I didn't know her our thoughts are with those who did. I'm proud to let you know that she touched people across the globe.
Remember when you used to spend a huge amount of time with a select group, always going out, always partying? Then ten years pass and you bump into one of them and the awkward conversation begins? I hadn't seen 3 a.m in I don't know how long. Then Saturday night I'm sitting there nursing Midge so Mrs A. can get some shut eye when in walks 3 a.m and sits down.
It was a little surreal at first. The usual, "So....how you doin. It's been a while." chit chat to clear the air a little. Then he looked at me and said, "You've changed man. Sitting there with a baby. You used to party dude, every weekend we were out there man, Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, down at the Rocks. What happened to you?"
"What does it look like. I settled down. I got older. My priorities changed. You're still in nightclubs night after night wasting peoples lives when they should be sleeping. Is that all you do with your life?"
3 a.m looked sheepish and apologised. "Nah, I branched out into waking poor bastards who do shift work and new parents like you. I suppose we all need a change. Your looking well for an old bastard." "Up yours!" I rejoined.
We talked of times gone by. Some of the old haunts had changed some were the same. I asked what he thought of the music now. Not much was the answer. But he wasn't there for the music, he was there for the fun, always moving on to the next scene. I wasn't going anywhere but bed. We did the manly hug thing for the old memories and then he waved as he headed west. Finally Midge was asleep. Ten minutes later so was I.
Just a quick link for family and anyone else interested, some snapshots here.
Imogen came home on Wednesday, but missed the maternity ward so much that she went back an hour later for another night. Daddy was a little hot under the collar after a small bungle and after that the nurses decided that whenever he appeared in a corridor that they all had urgent business somewhere else, or that they were being invaded by Attila the Hun. But all's well that ends well and on her second triumphant trip home she decided to stay.
We showed her the amenities and she seemed suitably impressed. She asked about an en suite, but after we pointed out that her bathroom facilities were actually strapped to her backside she seemed content and had a little sleep. Then she had a little feed and a little sleep and a little feed and a little sleep and.....
One thing I have noticed is the lack of people coming for a visit. Everybody we know has told us that we would be a little overwhelmed at first and that they would come at a more convenient time. If the definition of overwhelmed is feeding for twenty minutes every four hours, nursing a baby that cries for about five minutes a day, and changing a nappy or ten, then when Imogen "settles down" Mrs A. and I will likely fall into a coma. Come one come all and meet this little miracle of flesh and goop.
When we chat she opens her oh so blue eyes and attempts to focus on us, but the effort is amusingly difficult. She likes having her feet kissed by Mum, and sits contentedly in the palm of Dads hand while he reads her Banjo Patterson, Henry Lawson. Roald Dahl and A.A Milne. Her little fingers struggle to enclose one of ours and when she is wrapped up tight in her wraps she looks a little like a pez dispenser.
Grandma on Mrs A's side picked up a muslin wrap the other day and asked me who had bought her such a lovely "Muslim wrap". I never knew how many Burkha jokes I had in me.
She's sleeping now, in the same bassinet that Mrs A. was in when she was a pez dispenser herself. I reach in and put my hand on her head, stroking her little blonde locks. She hardly stirs except to yawn prodigiously and drift off back in to her tiny slumber.
I am so in love.
Note to any ante natal classmates. JtH and Mrs A. are obviously pseudonyms that we use on this blog, but it really is us, I swear.
It's 4.21 am, Monday the 20th of November, so this is unlikely to be overly coherent. I've just got home from the Royal North Shore Hospital where I have left my wife and baby daughter to get some well earned rest. Imogen Maree, aka Midge, arrived at 11.56pm on the 19th which was three days early.
After a BBQ with friends Sunday afternoon Mrs A. and I settled in for a relaxed evening until she started to get twinges around 7.30 pm. Having learnt that labour is a long and arduous process from the ante natal classes we expected to have a long time at home waiting but were surprised when we made it to the hospital a little after 11pm with less than 40 minutes to spare. By the time we arrived an epidural was well out of the equation, so with a few puffs of laughing gas Mrs A. gave birth. Two arms, two legs and a set of lungs an opera singer would envy was the beautiful result. Mrs A. made the classic "It's a boy, oh wait that's the umbilical cord" mistake, and happily she was wrong as I cut that bit myself.
Stats. 3.38kg, 48 cms, blonde, female, beautiful like her mum.
I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to the grandparents for waking them up so late on a school night.
So now I'm celebrating with a cup of tea, and then to bed for an hour or two before I head back for a visit.
Watch this space.
I woke up a couple of Sundays ago having metamorphosed into the lyrics of a Beautiful South song. My skin was like a Llama's doormat, my eyes were like a rhino's ashtray and my face was like a crab's bus ticket. We'd been doing the hard yards at work to get a big job out which was tiring, and Mrs A's heavily pregnant state hadn't been doing either of our sleeping patterns any favours. So going out with the boys on Saturday whilst 20 odd women performed the secret wimmins business of the baby shower was not a well constructed plan.
Freedom from work and responsibility for an afternoon ran straight to my head as did the alcohol. By the time I awoke on Sunday morning, Mrs A. having gone to work, I was in no fit state to do anything that might have required a fit state to be done in. And how in the name of the Holy Hungry Hippo 20 women can trash a house with such attention to detail beggars the imagination.
Well done and thanks to Sacha and Maria for their hard work and success in feeding and entertaining them all for the afternoon. And well done and thanks to Stuart and Mario for getting me home from the pub in one obnoxious piece.
Less than two weeks till baby time unless Mrs A's timer pings early. Exciting stuff.
I've been away for a while, both do due a busy work schedule and for some pre baby "let's get away so we can reminisce about what going away was like with just the two of us until we do it again in our sixties unless junior becomes a golf genius and makes us a squillion", time. I was in Queensland a week or two back with my accountant/mate. Always go on trips with your accountant and keep every receipt. This trips business expenses included dressing up in tuxedos, going to the casino and playing Texas hold'em, and basically looking like James Bond wannabes. This was actually my first time at a casino. I've been to the one in Sydney, but only to see a show at the Lyric Theatre, not to gamble. And I must say that casinos are the most soulless and death defyingly boring places on the planet. The night also included one of my least favourite pastimes. Night clubbing.
I had, as is usual, 3.2 zillion comments on my ridiculously old fashioned moustache. "Twirl it baby", "Kerrrist, is that thing real"?, and so on. But the night club scene was infinitely more annoying. I had actually volunteered to go back to the hotel and let the other two night owls enjoy themselves, but as is often the way the cry of "Maaate, it's only 4am and the night is young and we're so drunk that we're going to do stupid things in the middle of the street and embarrass you until you say yes" had me paying a five dollar cover charge, having my wrist stamped and walking into a Maelstrom of noise in a tux with my bow tie undone and drooping around my neck.
I stood with my mates in a huddle near the bar tapping my feet and trying to look hip or whatever it's called. Then from my left came a tug on my mo. I turned in disbelief to see a young woman in tight jeans, high heels, and a push up strip of cloth doing exactly that. With the look of anger on my face she recoiled stammering that she just wanted to know if it was real. I thought about grabbing her breasts and asking the same question, but men in tuxedos don't do that sort of thing. One of my mates was chatting up an "Italian bird", and my accountant was working out the profit and loss of being friendly towards the barmaid when I decided that I would call it a night.
The next day in jeans, boots and a tshirt I got far fewer comments. People probably assumed I was a cricketer. We had to check out of the hotel at 9.30am, and with the flight not being until 2.30pm we did what all good Aussie men do and went to the pub for breakfast, stayed for lunch and then cabbed it to the bar at the airport.
I had Monday at work and then Mrs A and I drove down to Kangaroo valley for five days. We stayed at the K.V Golf club in a cabin on the 17th green. We tootled around 19th century villages in the mornings, and in the afternoons Mrs A practised rally driving in a golf cart whilst I proved that I should take up origami and leave gold to people who actually have hand eye coordination.
And so the time of rest and relaxation is over. It's work tomorrow. Oh, and Rowdy? I didn't mow the lawn.
I think I've watched foxtell history, discovery, nat geo and various entertainment channels to death. Time for some new titles. Here's what I'm spruiking.
Whose line is it anyway - Drug dealers crazy fight to the death for the last of the cocaine.
See spot run - Pimple squeezing for beginners.
Magnum pi - The ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter worked out by a delicious ice cream.
Are you being served? - A Wimbledon retrospective.
Gunfight at the OK corral - Next week the corral is new and improved.
The book of Genesis - From the perspective of Phil Collins.
Jurassic Park - Tips on reverse parking your stegosaurus.
The cotton club - David Attenborough looks at early man's least effective weapons.
The Merry Wives of Windsor - What are those kooky royals up to now.
Mrs A. called me an Alpha male the other day.
I've never had that term applied to me before. I'm having urges to mark my territory with bodily fluids all of a sudden. Admittedly she also bestowed said epithet on the Ugg boot salesman I was squaring off against as well. "Two alpha males" she said to my grandmother who we were visiting up at Blackheath. To be honest I'd only stopped to buy the bloody ugg boots because my grandmother's carpet is allergic to shoes, and my feet are allergic to freezing to death on the concrete slab below the carpet and I wanted to avoid whatever ailments are produced by frozen extremities acquired over tea and biscuits.
But he didn't have to insult my Blundstone boots and proffer his belief that redback were superior in every way, and then top it off by trying to sell me the wrong size ugg boots which had just been glued and could not be worn for 24 hours which is slightly longer than it takes to get to my grandmothers house even if the big bad wolf takes up some of our time along the way.
Don't insult the Blundstones man.
I seriously considered walking away from his sheepskinly goodness in and alpha male stalking type huff, but the flashbacks to the last time I visited grandma in the depths of winter with only my stockinged feet had me shaking and sweating like a shell shocked veteran of the Somme.
So I bought them. He probably took the money straight to the redback store and bought a pair with money I had handled.
It's hard being an alpha male.
When Icarus fell, we all shed a tear and the term "flying too close to the sun" entered the vernacular. "Wherever" did he go after the fall?
Varekai, so I am lead to believe, means "wherever" in the Romany language of the gypsies, and wherever is a magical place.
Having missed the Umbilical Brothers opening night due to an old war wound, I was pleased to get tickets to the dress rehearsal, pre opening night of the new Cirque Du Soleil extravaganza. We had done some work for them and were kindly offered tickets to last night's performance. I recommend you now, go and see it. If you live out of Sydney, go and see it. If you live on the moon, go and see it.
I had been to one of Cirque Du Soleil's shows a few years back and thought it quite reasonable. But the intervening years have seen changes of breathtaking proportions.
There seems to be two ways to get top billing in a show like this. Work hours each day training, exacting, timing, strengthening, defying injury and I don't think it an overstatement to say even death, and use those skills to awe your spectators.
Or be capable of physical comedy and getting a laugh.
Seems a little unfair, but the blend of awe and laughter works in the same way a sorbet works to cleanse the palate between spicy dishes. From the acrobatics on stage and suspended over the crowd which have people on the edge of their seats gasping and flinching, and in the case of the people behind me, farting in anticipation of miracles of human skeletal removal, to the laughs as an inept magician and his assistant pull hapless audience members on stage to humiliate them or bring new life to the old moving spotlight gag, each segment gave you a chance to wipe the sweat from your brow before you had to wipe the tears from your eyes.
And the costumes. The costumes would have made a show all of their own. How on earth half the cast didn't trip over their fins, tentacles and other extraneous doodads added to the awesome spectacle of the magical underworld.
Now to ruin the ending for you. Our hero, Icarus, comes to terms with his new found friends, accepts their often misguided yet well timed help, falls in love and learns to fly again.
A fairytale in a big-top.
Anyone who likes the idea of a photoblog, but like me has absolutely no idea how to set one up, go here. It's new, and therefore a little lacklustre, but getting in at beta level tends to benefit you when the paying starts, and it's bound to get more bells and whistles as time goes by. Mine is linked to your right.
Last night was census night. An super fun happy hour of working out what your address is, where you used to live last year and five years ago, how to describe your occupation and feel bad that you haven't done any voluntary work worth speaking of. I think they could have made it easier by putting a check box for generic/average/bloke on the first page. The questions, whilst important in an infrastructure, economic index, population counting sort of way, don't seem to get to the core of, well, anything. So I think it's time we as Aussies had some input in the question writing department.
The top ten questions I would like to see in the census are,
Any more suggestions?
If the days of the week are represented by their first letter, or their first two letters for Thursday, and stress is rates on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the greatest stress, 1 being the least stress, and the most basic mathematical equations are bastardised, what, you are probably thinking, will the result be?
Let's take Newtons third law of motion. You know the one. Equal but opposite reaction yada yada. It looks a little something like this.
So if we wanted to represent Monday for example you could write it as S10=-C3(<7.30am) over M. Or in layman's terms a level of stress at factor 10 with an equal but opposite reaction of at least 3 coffees before 7.30 in the morning divided by Monday should cancel all factors out to a state of complete inertia.
Conversely, S1=-B5(>5.30pm) over F (Low stress, 5 beers, after 5.30 on Friday) will, by virtue of alcoholism also, in effect, end in inertia.
Wanting to check the scientific data described above to ensure its validity I then decided to look to my horoscope. It took me a while searching the massive amount of them on the net until I found one that suited me. It's nice how you can pick and choose.
Today, 04 August 2006 Gemini
Few things are more tedious than being forced to concentrate on situations that are as dull as they are practical. But if you don't tackle these now, then when your ruler Mercury moves into the considerably more lively Leo, late next week, these will remain undone, and be far more bother to deal with.
Bingo. My state of inertia be it from coffee and stress or alcohol and Friday has caused me to concentrate on issues that are dull yet practical, insofar as I'm not actually doing any work whilst writing this entry which is dull if not practical, and when Mercury starts hustling in on the turf of Leo I'm going to realise that I should have done said work this week rather than putting it off till next week.
Have a good weekend.
Neither Strictly Ballroom nor Dancing with the Stars were ever my schooner of beer, but they have a love child. Last night Mrs A. and I attended the opening night of Floor Play. We sat at a table drinking champagne and eyeing celebrities. Glenn A. Baker, with trademark funny hat caught a lift with us, but espoused no musical tidbits in the trip from P1 to the ground floor of Star City. Bronwyn Bishop was a much shorter bloke than I had imagined, and Richard Wilkins looks like Richard Wilkins only taller.
Sorry. I'm not really a name dropper, and not having actually said two words to any of these or the other familiar faces at the event, I just wanted to give you a mental image of the C and D grade celebrities that still stand far higher in the echelons of, well, celebrity than I ever will.
We sat at table C15. About half way between the stage and the back of the room. We chatted, we drank, we waited. Floor Play began.
I see people using their physical abilities every day at work. The human body is a stunning feat of engineering, be it as a fulcrum, a dead weight, a pivot point or a screaming hysterical blob complaining of a bad back. The joint system inherent in our physiology quite frankly shits upon anything we have attempted in mimicry, and last night proved to me how stunningly inefficient man is in copying nature.
The theme for the night centred around a frenzied yet joyous depiction of prohibition clothing mixed with what in general conversation would have been an inappropriate musical score. Yet it came together like a heart beating. And beating at fit to burst with sexual tension and rhythmic hypnotism.
The first dance employed all the hallmarks of a Ricky Martin video with African tribal drums. Moulin Rouge in its day gave punters pantie flashing titillation in nice frocks frowned upon by the tight laced naysayers, but the Latino dancing Empire turned it into art. The men and women on stage flung their sweat with abandon into the baying crowd who watched wrapped in anticipation of Cha Cha, Rumba, Samba, Salsa and Bolero. (these being the only dance names that come to me right now). Then the flappers of the roaring twenties enveloped the stage, followed by ballroom aficionados that ballrooms would blush to contain.
As each piece of choreography denied the beauty of that which came before, the stage contained an eruption of innuendo and timing. Sadly being pregnant, Mrs A. declined the offer of the after party, and I was left to Cha Cha the gear shift all the way home.
Next week we will attend the opening of the new Umbilical Brothers show.
Perhaps I will make the F grade celebrity list after all.