Story by Emmjay
How many times do we read the exhortation “Store in a cool, dry place” ? Not a hot dry place. Not a cool wet place. Not a hot wet place. Not in an effing freezing (and therefore dry) place either.
So this rules out most places Earthlings seem to inhabit, and it must pose problems for people who transport stuff around that should rest always in cool dry places.
Not to mention sunlight. Avoid storing things in direct sunlight (except Eucalypts and living cacti). Filtered light could be ok for other green plants.
And be sure not to get too much sun for yourself either, lest you get skin cancers.
Neither get too little sunlight, lest you get too much rickets from a lack of Vitamin D.
Just to be safe, I staunchly refuse to drink beer from bottles that aren’t green or brown. This is supported by direct experience of the tastelessness of so-called “ice beers” that brag about being filtered through ice. Wait a minute, isn’t ice a solid ? How’s that going to work ?
The habitable spaces seem to be closing in. Where is this cool dry space with just right environment for everything ? Are the rents horrendous so that only Gina could afford to live there ? Silly me, Gina probably makes her own environment, but that probably cannot be called a microclimate – more a regional weather pattern.
What if the air-conditioning fails ? Will that be curtains ? Or shade cloth ?
It’s time to accept that the old understanding of “cool and dry” needs a rethink, Now there is a form of usage I find particularly useful.
Sticking with my previous allusion to the imbibement of alcoholic beverages, I can truthfully say that a guaranteed cool and delightful place can be found in the skilful amalgamation of a dry gin and a dry vermouth. Witness the creation of a dry martini.
There is some history to this wonderful beverage. But it’s dull and boring and widely disputed. Suffices to say that it leaps from the imagination of literary giants like Hemingway and lesser luminaries like Fleming, for whose offspring the imperative was that it be shaken and not stirred.
Frank Moorehouse wrote a book called, simply, “Martini”. This is not to suggest you read it, unless you are undisturbed by the juxtaposition of Frank losing his anal virginity with the consumption of alcohol. At that point in the book something more interesting – and pleasant – like cleaning the grease trap came up, so I left off and then forgot which
bin place I’d put the book. Some careless person must have picked it up. But I digress…
To stir a martini would be stupid, so Bond’s instruction to tuxedoed barmen must surely have just been an opportunity for Sean Connery to say “sshhhaken” so a million impersonators would have a gag for all time.
Martinis must be cool all right. Chilled glass in the traditional conical shape like a smaller version of Madonna’s brassiere. The gin and vermouth should be poured over a generous number of ice cubes in a stainless steel container. And shaken gently to just chill the liquor and avoid getting too much ice melted into it. Which is to say, a detectable dilution. Strain carefully.
FM prefers a twist of lemon. I prefer three large or four small olives.
Gin ? An affordable drop ? Tanqueray or Gordon’s will do at a pinch. Many folk enjoy a Bombay Sapphire gin; I find it a bit too floral.
The big night out or guaranteed to get lucky drop is Tanqueray Ten and Nouilly Prat dry vermouth mixed 5:1 for a short pair of drinks. This is the “brick in a velvet glove” approach and the optometrist rule applies, namely martinis are like eyes – one gives you some insight, two gives you depth of field, but three – you see too much. Which is lucky because sharing a pair of Tanqueray Ten martinis in a superior bar – one of the few places that sell T Ten, won’t leave much change out of a fifty.
But it’s a drink to be savoured and a leisurely session is a perfect accompaniment to some cool jazz or even some up tempo blues.
The Pig’s Arms encourages responsible drinking and complete abstinence, complete absinthe, hic, complicated absence, competitive absolut, hic, ah, whatever ….
Story by First Mate
The IT industry of the past was not only managed by different companies like IBM, ICL, Prime, DEC etc., but within those companies lived tribes and families. I was a tribal member within several tribes and more than a few companies. It was good. For over twenty years I enjoyed the protection and development provided by my tribal elders.
There was no such thing as job insecurity. Everyone recognized the special talents of other team members and leaders and we put up with their foibles and sometimes straight out fuckwittery. At the end of the day loyalty to the tribe was paramount. Many great things were created and impossible deadlines were routinely met or bettered. We were simply too busy to bear grudges or feel hard done by because we had encountered turds like Steve Jobs. Life was a fascinating roller coaster ride and sometimes our tribes got wiped out by unfortunate turns of events, but there was always a galaxy of other tribes looking for talent and keen to bring us on board.
The seventies, eighties and nineties were rocketing along for anyone who could speak IT and like so many of our colleagues lucky enough to get our mittens on some cool electronica, and like so many people who actually touched Steve Job’s life in some way, the Australian computer cognoscenti too have boundless stories of derring do, outrageous behaviour and just plain madness.
There are stories of incredible sales feats (like conning the Federal government into thinking that flooding schools with PCs was a good idea and insisting that teachers somehow “incorporate them into the curriculum”) led to sales bonuses up to and including space travel.
And now – in times where the usual modus operandi is to watch your back and simultaneously duck shove your “colleague’s” career into oblivion to climb the greasy corporate ladder, the mind-numbing boredom of making no obvious mistakes has led to a dearth of interesting new folk-law. Not tedious minutiae. Real, death before dishonour, live-forever stories that even outsiders can appreciate.
But the authorised Steve Jobs biography is not one of those. Walter Isaacson has meticulously hunted down every snippet of Job’s not uneventful life, excused him for his tactlessness and poor personal hygiene and recorded every heartbeat, every morsel of junk food, every abuse of positional power and a mountain of toadying and skunkworks and implied that Jobs has been some new messiah.
Reading into the fine print, however, the truth appears to be a simpler notion – that Jobs was good at hunting down really clever but gullible engineers and appropriating their amazing ideas, incorporating them into a greater vision, flogging other poor bastards to make the great ideas a reality and then stepping back, taking the adoration and repeating the process.
Some of us who are old enough do appreciate the brilliant products that Apple brought to the world. When the early iPods were released and had enough storage to hold an average western person’s record collection several times over and still fit comfortably in a geek or music aficionado’s top pocket (after the vinyl had been turned into MP3 digital files), the writing was on the wall for the record industry. When video became portable and bandwidth became cheap, the same writing hit the wall for the print media industry.
Jobs was not alone in leading the revolution, but Apple’s recent products and service offerings have turned the digital life on its head and created many new good and equally bad paradigms. Did you know that the numbers of pedestrians being mown down while crossing the street while they have been focussed totally on their portable communication engines has doubled in the US in the last two years ? Same for the number of people convicted of traffic accidents that curiously involved them when they mistook texting for one of the important driving tasks. Or do you routinely see cyclists as well as drivers too dumb to realise that plugging in an iPod takes away an important part of their survival arsenal – namely hearing a car approaching in their blind spots ?
Anyone who has travelled by train in the last year or so cannot but be surprised by the number of their fellow passengers with white in-ear headphones connected to their iPods, iPads and iPhones – or the pale Android imitations thereof. This is a new host of individuals, acting like a flock of sheep. Possessed by the world flooding in through their Interweb tubes, oblivious to the life going on just outside their personal spaces, indifferent and incapable of telling the difference between reality as it is personally experienced and some selective synthesis of a new reality conceived by someone else.
But enough of Job’s legacy. On to the book itself.
Boring, tedious name-dropping crap. Rich in its cast of characters, but with no more character development than the telephone book. The hardcover book hit the stands at $50 a copy – an outrageous rip-off.
So I read what I had hoped were familiar parts of the downloaded e-book -costing about half the hard back, looking for some of Job’s less successful contributions – namely the Lisa (named for his one-time shunned daughter) that was incredibly expensive for its time and lacked one important ingredient – actual software that did useful things, and the progenitor of the iPad – the Newton hand-held personal assistant – with the single failing that it didn’t actually work very often, or, looked at another way – it made simple paper-based tasks even more tedious.
This is referred to in marketing circles as “not a very compelling offer”. These two Apple products died the horrible death they richly deserved.
There are a few pages about the Lisa. I don’t know whether the Newton gets a mention. It probably does, but the narrative on the Lisa was so boring, it made me glad that I had only wasted $25 and not the full whack for the hard copy.
In a nutshell, enjoy your Apple products, but don’t waste your time or money on the book. It’s a major stinker – whether you are part of the IT industry or not.
by Madeleine Love
I’m a member of a book group. We get nine books a year to read and discuss together. The books are always supplied with study notes containing questions at the end for discussion.
Last night we came across the following question: “If you were writing an autobiography what books would you include to define yourself, your course in life, or your pivotal moments?”
We went ‘around the circle’ with the question. It was too narrow for some. We included articles and movies because they had provided powerful defining moments as well. This is what came out…
Reading, both as a skill and as an experience, emerged as a defining moment of life in itself. One spoke of the time when she first realised she could read. In elevated response she declared to herself that she was going to read ‘every book in the world’.
Another remembered the first book that engrossed her, transporting her to another time and place. She’d had the overwhelming experience of complete engagement.
Then there were the defining moments emerging from the content of the book. I can’t remember many of the books. I don’t know many of them. But I remember the moments…
Some books seemed to arrive at the moment of change, like an announcement on a train “We are arriving at Rosemont Station”. The Thornbirds announced sexual awakening. The Women’s Room announced feminist awakening.
There were books that supported and uplifted us, providing a path for the future – someone described the Shawshank Redemption. Apparently a man was held prisoner and subjected to the most horrifying experiences until he managed to escape, all the while never surrendering hope or optimism.
There were books that said who we were – echoes of our wishes, experiences, perfect worlds – Pride and Predjudice – yes, a woman offered that one.
And then there were the books that transported. The bigger and more engrossing the book, the more transformed we were out the other side; War and Peace, Lord of the Rings, A Fine Balance. It seems the epic masterpieces take us into an entirely new life experience and create their own pivotal moments.
So we’re going round the circle and now it has come to my turn. Eager to share but reluctant to be the centre of attention I look to the person on my left and say “next”, but you say “you skipped someone” and draw me back.
OK then …
I was about 9 years old (say 1970), and we were at a rented beach house for two weeks in the summer holidays. My parents were teachers, and holidays were times to Not interact. They would lie on couches and read or sleep, while we went back and forth to the beach. It was warm, we were sunburnt, scratchy from the sand. Fresh cobb loaves from the Bakery wrapped in tissue paper rested half-eaten on the dark wooden table.
I see myself lying on a couch beginning The Rat-A-Tat Mystery. In the holiday street we’d bought an Enid Blyton book each. They were books with covers, perhaps 2cm thick – real books. On the same day I begin, I see myself finishing. I could read a book in a day; a small step for one man, a giant leap for mankind. I was accomplished.
And the next pivotal book was Lord of the Rings. Again it was summer holidays, but this time in the ‘burbs with all the blinds down to keep the house cool. Conveniently it came in three volumes. Second in line, I waited for the first to be finished. Day after day I strode through the threatening darkness in Middle Earth, finding rare refuge in the protected nature of the Elven domains. So large, it created a new and permanent experience of life through which I could respond. I have an Elven domain to look after.
There was Cat’s Eye, a book about girl bullying which gave me closure on the teenage years a decade after the experience.
Coming into self, “Women Who Run with the Wolves”.
Becoming a Masterchef: an unnamed recipe book on Muffins. With dedication I had meticulously followed directions in other books and had so many failures. I think people publish the ‘bad recipes’ so no-one steals the good ones. But the raspberry and white chocolate muffin success said it wasn’t all me.
Defining the breastfeeding years: The Very Hungry Caterpillar – a counting book with holes in the pages that each child in turn loved to read.
Digging out the deeper traumas: The God of Small Things. I’d encouraged the book group to read this one so I had some people to debrief with over it.
Movies – Towering Inferno for my first suspense horror (and how that moment was extended into reality years later!), and Gallipoli – I couldn’t leave the auditorium because I couldn’t stop crying.
Well, that’s some from me. No doubt more will come in time. But it’s your turn.
“Books, articles or movies you’d refer to in an autobiography, and why”. Next.
The last of the salvage happened on Sunday. Except for a broken piece of charcoal the memories bound up in the rubble are headed for landfill.
It was a house. Then it was a flameball. Then it exploded. Glenda saw the whole thing.
The bushfire wasn’t far from the Pigs Arms and Glenda had sat it out in the furthest back car park in Danny’s air conditioned ute with her dog, just outside our place. Danny thought it would be safer than the pub because he knew what Merv stored in the ladies lounge velour box seats for the bikies.
Glenda and Danny’s house burnt too, and she doesn’t know if she can be bothered going through the trouble of rebuilding for the sake of living together with Danny. Couples uncertain rent a place. Couples with certainty buy a place. Only the most deeply committed, bored, idealistic, creative or naïve build a house. G &D are none of these.
We’re definitely rebuilding, but I’ve been having trouble with the paving. The paving covered the space separating the laundry and toilet outbuildings from the house and had survived the fire in perfect condition. But the demolisher’s trucks would demolish the paving. If we wanted to save it we had to pull it apart. It was hard.
The survivor paving gave civilization to this wreck of a block – smooth, drained, perfect – a place to walk safely between the shattered asbestos piles to the blackened garden. And it was a bit sacred, heralding from the most precious times of our early life together with our firstborn – laid with our hands, sprinkled with sands. It was imbued with the champagne of christenings and Christmases, games, snow, and now fire. Friendly ants lived below, and lizards beside.
We intended to relay it, but what if we couldn’t put it down with the same quality of love and commitment? What if it couldn’t collect the same precious memories? What if the paving was the only remnant of our beginnings holding us together? The house was gone, the garden was gone – what if the last embodied foundation of our lives shattered as we pulled apart?
I’d moved ‘hundreds’ of pieces of corrugated roofing iron and gutters, fridge, oven, vacuum cleaner, bath, wood fire heater, washing machine, trough, all the bits of metal piping, cappings and edging one finds in a house. I’d picked up all the crockery and ceramics that could be used in a mural, and searched for remnants of ‘valuable’ memories. One by one we pulled down the three chimneys, chipped the old mortar from the bricks and moved them to a safe place. Eventually only the pavers and the hot water system remained.
My prudent husband was afraid the free demolishers would move out of town before we were ‘ready’, and the pressure was on. I asked him about our relationship (and not only once). If he was uncertain, I would not pull the paving apart, hanging onto the precious qualities and memories it bound.
In the end I had to take his assurances, and Sunday was ‘paver-day’. All five of us began to pick up the pavers, wash them, wheel them, and stack them.
The children quickly tired, and the girls went off to collect pieces of charcoal remains from the cupboard where their toys had died (mostly teddies). I plan to re-sew them, but their plan is to re-imbue their spirit with the charcoal.
I claimed the right to pick up the last few pavers, like a jigsaw puzzle in reverse, as though they were the key to bring it all back together.
Only the hot water system remained, and as the night fell and the rain began to fall, with a glove on his left and its partner on my right, we pushed together, crashing the old copper onto the asbestos. He left with the children but I stayed. It would all be gone when I next returned.
The old copper was heaving in the silence. Intermittently obeying the laws of gravity and air pressure, water flowed out, air bubbled in. Water, air, water, air, and to this rhythm of upheaval visions and memories flooded my mind. In a trance I moved around the house and watched the haunting poignant memories the moment chose to reveal.
At my firstborn’s bedroom I see his cot. I see the austerity of the room, the dark cold floor, the plaited cold rag rug, I see the single bed. It looks wrong – so austere, no comfort, no warmth surrounds him. The memory seems the embodiment of regret.
At the laundry I see myself washing nappies. Precious time, but how hard I worked. At the outside toilet I see my young son walking towards the door. I remember this particular moment – the toilet was rather grim, from my adult judgment I thought he would be afraid (I don’t know why), but he walked forward with optimism and I felt elevated wonder at his fearless, oblivious hope.
The hot water service heaved on and I progressed around the house in the rain. Down the ‘paving’, over the deck, past the fireplace, and back to the corner where I began. And then it was over. There was nothing left that had to be done. And still the old copper heaved.
There was no reason left to stay, and the moment to leave was faced. An imperative drove me to our bedroom. I walked to our bed, where our firstborn had slept on one night when he was ten days old. Everything had felt right – he slept – warm, safe, between us – and I slept. I picked up a piece of charcoal and it immediately broke in two – a big piece and a little piece. I held them softly together in my hand, and waited in the rain for the moment to leave. I tried but returned, back and forth again, and again, because when I left it would be the last time.
Finally the deed was done and as I walked down the path I looked through the big leafless trees in the garden and vowed “I will never leave you; I will never ever leave you”. And I don’t know who I was talking to.
And even if our relationship falls apart because the paving’s gone and the beautiful and strange memories have been trucked away with the charcoal, I will be rebuilding because it’s a place I will never leave.
And as for Danny and Glenda, her colourist and nail assistant have told her a thousand times that Danny’s got the good end of the stick. But Glenda’s a sucker and Danny knows it. Danny’s got a friend in the building industry who can whack up a house the same as the last one – it won’t be like they have to make any ‘decisions for future life together’. Glenda will have her salon, Danny’s got his car yard.
It was good to see the pub mostly unharmed, and in one of those weird moments of ‘community’ I kissed Merv when I saw he’d made it. There’d been an explosion in the Ladies Lounge (granny had copped some flak), but when the renovations are finished there’ll be somewhere other than this Morose Drunks Corner for an emotional chat.
Granny’s invented a new dish for the grande reopening – she calls it Bombe Awedges – firey on the outside – coool on the inside.
Modelled on the Famous Spongobongo Ladies Lounge
Merv announced today the completion (finally) of the renovations for the Pig’s Arms Ladies Lounge. He was quoted as saying “I’m looking to create a comfortable and safe – even ‘homey’ environment for the ladies of Inner West Cyberia to gather together and exchange pleasantries.
Use of beer mats will be mandatory.
And no cussin’ or spittin’ on the floor !”
Patrons are expecting a slight rise in the cost of pink drinks – in line with rises in the CPPI (Charge Pig’s Patrons Incredibly).
Merv is expecting to recover costs by Friday afternoon.
After closing, Glenda stood inside her quiet Pigs Legs Waxing and Beauty Salon staring at the poster of Farrah Fawcett Majors on the wall. Her girls had left, and the closing night shone through the uncurtained windows giving an eerie glow to the hygenic tiles around the hair washing basins.
She sighed deeply and without knowing, picked up the razor, remembering the way she used to thin out the layers, Farrah-style. There was a lot of servicing in Farrah hairsyle – the cut, the layering, the colouring, the perm, and the big blow wave with the gel.
It was a good time, a big time, coming out of the au-naturale days of the early 70′s. There was the Afro, the Olivia Newton-John Grease-style perm, the Bo-Derek plaits, but nothing was bigger than the Farrah.
Glenda had known about the anal cancer of course. She’d talked about it several times a day since 2006. Wherever the ladies were sitting Glenda was always on hand with a cuppa and a magazine – and six times out of ten, there was brave Farrah smiling from the pages.
Glenda hadn’t known she’d been holding her breath, but as she reached the moment of resignation it flowed, driving the lips of her lost-in-the-moment face into an unexpected pout.
A lift of her shoulders signalled intention, and with her new breath and life she walked over to the poster. Carefully, reverently, she took it down. She pulled off the bluetack that had been replaced several times, rolled it into a ball, and then lifted the razor to scrape off the final remains.
She stared at the poster one last time, remembering the time she wore her own hair Farrah-style – the night she kissed young Mervin.
“Goodbye Farrah” she said. “I loved you. And if I’d had your teeth, things would’ve been different.”
Glenda was sentimental, but practical. She screwed up the poster, chucked it in the bin, drew the blinds, pulled on her coat, picked up her keys, downed the lights, took a last look around, blew out another goodbye, and shut the door.
She turned right and walked towards her car. Then stopped, spun 180 degrees on her heels, walked back past her salon, and right into the Pigs Arm’s. “Come in for a pink?” said Merv. “Expected you tonight” he said in his one on one way.
She gave him a flick of her hair and a lips-sealed smile. “Have Belinda bring it into the Ladies Lounge, Merv.”
Dear Aunt Mary,
I friend of mine has a cold. His partner comes on all sanctimonious about the use of a hanky to stifle sneezes and coughs – and even when he manages to whip one out in time, she is prone to roll down the windows of the car just in case.
I mean, if he dropped a fart, I suppose that would be appropriate behaviour, but a little “achoo” or “cough-cough” – surely that’s a bit over the top! Should he object? Should he enclose his head in a humidicrib? What?
Your nephew, Cy Nuss
I have to admit I find your letter curious, if not mildly disturbing. Your friend’s hanky etiquette is bad enough but the suggestion that your friend’s partner’s reaction was more apropos of a flatulence attack than a sneeze is preposterous as best.
Have you seen what goes on during a sneeze? You do realize that the function of a sneeze is to expel mucus containing foreign particles or irritants and cleanse the nasal cavity. You do know that up to 40,000 mucus droplets are propelled at speeds of upwards of 160 kph during each and every sneeze. A sneeze may not be as odiferous as passed gas; but it is 10 times as dangerous to your health.
I do agree with you that by the time this semi-autonomous, convulsive expulsion of air from the lungs has traveled through the nose and mouth and been blasted shotgun-like across the interior of your vehicle it is already too late to roll down the window; but truly, what else is the poor woman to do? Is she expected to sit back meekly and offer a “god bless you” when every womanly instinct she has is telling her to throw open the door and leap to safety or slap you across your cheek and scream at you to cover your mouth? I would say that any civilized person would agree that the “rolling of the window” is a suitable substitute for these other, more natural, reactions.
One might expect you to know this already, Cy. One might expect that every child of Australia would already be well versed in all aspects of hanky etiquette; but clearly, in recent years, the advent of the tissue has lead to a steady decline in basic human civility. Perhaps only now, with our landfills overflowing with mucus-filled paper bombs, the world will finally bear witness to the hanky generation’s sense of sensibility.
All this is why is why I feel it is incumbent upon me to offer some suggestions for the proper execution of the common handkerchief during a sneeze or sneeze-like situation.
Always have a hanky handy. In particular be prepared while in confined spaces with other human beings. Some sneeze inducing situations you should be aware of include sudden exposure to bright light, a full stomach, high stress, spicy food, intense aromas and, of course, viral infection. Do note that if you are, in fact, driving a car having a hanky stuffed deep in your back pocket does not qualify as “at the ready.”
A hanky is not a prophylactic. Wrapping your digit in a hanky in order to shove it up your nose and dig around is never acceptable behaviour.
A hanky is not a trumpet. Never attempt to clear your nose in a public place by honking repeatedly into your hanky. Your mucus toots will never be the Brandenburg Concerto no matter how often you practice.
A hanky is not a work of art. Never. Ever. Open up your hanky to inspect the damage after a sneeze. It will never be Blue Poles so don’t even bother to check.
In fact, there is only one situation I am aware of where you can be in close proximity with another a human and not have to be concerned about the possibility of sneezing. That situation is while you are sound asleep. REM atonia is the only bodily state wherein motor neurons are not stimulated and reflex signals are not relayed to the brain so you and your partner as safe from a sneeze attack during this time. Then again, it is completely possible that external stimulants could cause you to wake up from your sleep and sneeze immediately upon waking so, here again, it is probably best to be prepared.
Finally, dear nephew Cy, there are a few things your “friend” could try the next time he finds himself at the wheel and does not want to abuse his partner with a mucus blast. Some simple preventative techniques include deep breathing to gently exhale the air his lungs would otherwise use for the act of sneezing. He could also try holding his breath and counting to ten or even crinkling his nose and keeping his eyes open.
However, should all this fail and your friend does accidentally let fly again in the presence of his partner; here is my suggestion:
Let her open the window. Apologize sincerely and then remind the partner that in Ancient Greece a sneeze was considered a favorable sign from the gods. Your friend could then add that in many Asian cultures a sneeze means someone was talking about the sneezer. In China, Vietnam and Japan for instance, there is a superstition that if talking behind someone’s back causes the person being talked about to sneeze; as such, the sneezer can tell if something good is being said (one sneeze), something bad is being said (two sneezes in a row), even if someone is in love with them (three sneezes in a row).
Perhaps by offering a sampling of these fascinating facts your friend may be able to turn around the tenuous situation and make the whole disgusting episode seem somehow more acceptable. This may not be the perfect solution, dear nephew, but is far superior to making a comment like “Hey, at least I didn’t fart.”
Until next time, dear ones… nosce te ipsum.
Hello Nephews and Nieces, your Aunt Mary is back from a lovely holiday by the sea. I’ve returned to a very full box; stuffed with queries such as this one from an angry nephew.
Dear Aunt Mary,
I live next to some urban cave dwellers from the end of Europe that time forgot. They smoke something that might need to be upgraded to compete with donkey dung. The smell is frightful! They also hack up buckets of phlegm and spit them all over their yard (at about 85 decibels). This starts from about 5 am and our only relief is when the whole tribe goes off to church to receive wisdom from their God. So, sitting out on our deck, enjoying the beautiful weather and having a genteel meal with friends has become a nightmare. I’d like to simply nuke their whole tribe. Is there a better solution?
Shatoff with the Spitoff – Inner West Cyberia
Well, this is quite a conundrum, isn’t it? My first reaction, like yours, dear Shatoff, would be to lob a sack of steaming dog poo over the fence and hope I hit one of the gobbing stinkers; but, as history has taught us all too often, such actions almost always end in an escalation of violence. You could soon find yourself dodging a rain of spittle yourself every time you step out onto your deck, or worse. No, this is exactly the kind of situation that calls for a covert operation.
Nephew, yours is a situation in which it behooves you to act like a superpower. Think for a moment about how large, powerful nations, such as the United States, have succeeded bringing about change from behind the scenes. I’m thinking specifically of Iran in ’53 and Australia in ’75; but you can probably recall any number of incidents in Bogota, Burma, Costa Rica, Korea, Laos, Guatamala, Indonesia, Iran, China, Taiwan, the Middle East, as examples. These covert operations, whatever our opinion of them, were in most cases very successful; well, as long as you leave Cuba ’61 off the list.
Funnily enough, your problem reminds me of something that took place during my recent holiday. My annual trips to the seaside, always involve a visit to my dear, old friend Judith. Judith runs a charming little B and B called Sunnyhaven and I usually find my stay there is a much needed retreat from the stress and strains of day to day existence. You see, Judith rarely if ever has any other guests apart from me.
Unfortunately for all concerned, this year was quite different. This year Sunnyhaven was a Mecca of sorts to a group of free-spirited pagans who apparently have taken the phrase “sex and drugs and rock n roll” as their personal credo. Now Judith is a lovely lady, an excellent cook and keeps Sunnyhaven’s rooms and garden in pristine condition; but to say confrontation is not her strong suit is akin to stating that verbal dexterity is not George W. Bush’s claim to fame.
This is all to say that by the time of my arrival, Judith was at her wits end. Her subtle suggestions that nakedness, loud music, drug taking and general hedonism were not the norm at Sunnyhaven were either ignored or did not even register as complaints. I could see immediately that Judith was reaching out to me for a solution and I decided immediately on a course of action. I explained to Judith the age old of concept of good cop/bad cop – one of the truly great covert operations of all time
Our plan agreed upon, I took to my task with relish. I pestered the other guests unflinchingly for the entire first day of my visit. “Oh my god!” I screamed in the morning as I happened upon my neighbors tanning au natural. “Aren’t you worried about burning those things? And… “Please! Do I have to look at those first thing in the morning? I’ve just finished a large plate of eggs!” Later in the day, I proclaimed loudly on my cell phone: “It’s a dank, musty smell. I’m not sure it’s tobacco at all. Do you think I should call the police?” That evening I knocked on the door to their room dressed in a gaudy nightgown, my face covered with skin crème and my hair bound up in curlers asking: How long do you intend to play that so-called music? I need my beauty sleep!” On each occasion, Judith appeared at my shoulder to smooth over the situation and carefully note that even though she wanted her guests to feel at home in Sunnyhaven she did have to try and consider the sensitivities of ALL her guests.
Interestingly enough, the more resolutely Judith apologized to the offending guests for MY behaviour, the more amenable they were to curtailing their salacious activities. Within a day or two they began to behave more or less like regular folks. One might even go so far as to say they were pleasant neighbours. Certainly the brownies they gave Judith and I on the second day of my stay were quite delightful. We had such fun that night drinking tea and gobbling brownies and giggling like schoolgirls over the success of our covert operation.
Anyway, it seems to me, dear Shatoff, you are in desperate need a visit from an unflinching granny or aunt. I suggest you invite her over today and immediately let her loose to inflict the most outrageous assault imaginable on your miscreant neighbors. Have her loudly point out each and every one of their disgusting habits but be sure to step in quickly and forthrightly each time to apologize sincerely for the old ladies “crazy” behaviour. I am sure you will not only form a new bond with your neighbours they will more than likely see some of the error of their ways. It’s worth a shot anyway, right Shatoff? After all, how often does a Bay of Pigs happen anyway?
Until next time… nosce te ipsum, dear ones.