Apr 28

I have just returned from Westfield Tuggerah, where I saw this man:

He was much more relaxed when I saw him.

Rach and I also saw Steve Waugh in Woy Woy Coles last Christmas.

Apr 24
Sam Neill
icon4 Apr 24th, 2008 | icon2 Bric-a-Brac | icon32 Comments »

I have seen Sam Neill twice in the past year.

The first time was at yum cha at Sky Phoenix in the city. He was sitting at a nearby table with a male “friend”. The second time was at a Rufus Wainwright concert at the State Theatre. He was walking up the aisle during intermission.

I have my suspicions about Mr Neill.

Apr 22

We are all familiar with the tragic story of the Aboriginal Stolen Generations. Often I have heard people say how shocking it is that these events took place in such recent history, for many of us within our lifetime.

Well, I have uncovered something perhaps even more disturbing. The forced removal of children from their homes and families was occurring as late as the mid-1980s – but not here in Australia. This was taking place in the United States of America, the so-called “home of the free”.

Picture this scene:

Two black children play innocently in their neighbourhood playground. They appear happy and healthy. The children are among friends, people with whom they have spent their entire lives. Along comes a rich, white man. He has decided that these black children would be better off living with him than among their own people. He takes them away to his penthouse apartment where they live with him and his white daughter. The children are told that they must “integrate” into white society.

I was given access to a rarely seen videotape which brazenly documents the events described above. Not only did the perpetrators have the audacity to record their heinous crimes, they even added a catchy tune, presumably for their own amusement.

Here is the video:

Let’s examine a few of the lyrics:

Now the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum.
What might be right for you, may not be right for some.

The subtext is that the poor, African-American child does not know what is best for him. His life choices are made at the whim of the wealthy, Anglo-Saxon elite.

A man is born, he’s a man of means,
Then along come two, they got nothin’ but their genes*.

Nothing but their genes? The connotations of racial superiority here are truly chilling.

Further investigation uncovered more facts about the particular case shown in this video. The two boys, who we will call “A” and “W”, were children of a servant indentured to “Mr D”, a rich, white businessman living in Manhattan. The children were taken, upon their mother’s death, to live with her employer.

This is not an isolated case. I have evidence of another child, known only as “Webster”, who was similarly displaced.

* This may actually be “jeans”.

Apr 22

I have a very sore tooth. For the last few nights I have lain awake in the wee hours, my face a rictus of agony. (I’ve always wanted to use the word “rictus”, and now I have.)

As I lay there, jaw throbbing, trying in vain to get back to sleep, I thought about how painful my tooth was compared to other painful events in my life. This got me thinking about the inadequacy of existing tools for the measurement of pain level. I therefore present now the Snubian Pain Score© (SPS).

Here is a portion of the abstract from my forthcoming journal article [Snubian (in press) Snubian Pain Score: An experience-based pain measurement tool The Lancet]:

“This novel approach to pain metrics recognises, and accounts for, the fact that pain can be accurately scored only in relation to previous episodes of pain experienced by the individual in question. The strength of the SPS scale is that it must, by definition, be different for any person at any given time.”

Below is my current SPS. My tooth has an SPS value of about 7.6.

Snubian Pain Score

0 – Sipping cocktails under an umbrella in the Maldives

1 – Poking fork into face rather than mouth

2 – Licking the terminals of a 9V battery *

3 – Falling from upper bunk while asleep

4 – Finger jammed in toilet door/loss of fingernail

5 – Watching Big Brother

6 – Knocked unconscious by netball **

7 – Hit by car while riding bike

8 – Scrotum torn in go-cart accident ***

9 – Tearing back ligaments playing tennis

10 – Eaten alive by penguins

* I used to do this all the time when I was a kid – it’s a great way to tell how charged the battery is.

** This happened to someone else actually – they really should’ve been watching where I threw the ball.

*** This happened to a friend when we were about 15. Stitches were required, and we all shared his pain.

Apr 17

When Rach and I first came to look at the house we now live in, the previous tenants were in the process of moving out. We had arranged to meet the property manager, but arrived early, so we parked in the cul-de-sac and sat waiting in our car.

The house sits at the top of a short, steep driveway, probably about 20 metres from the road. The tenants were busily loading stuff into their car, which was parked in the carport, right next to the house. They did a few trips back and forth, lugging boxes and bags, as well as a huge armchair, which they stuffed into their little hatchback.

The husband then got into the car and reversed down the driveway. When he got to the street, however, he didn’t turn left and head off down the hill. Instead he made a 180 degree turn and pulled up alongside the kerb at the end of the cul-de-sac. He then got out and proceeded to unload the contents of the car on to the nature strip.

We sat watching, confused, until it dawned on us that this was the junk they were putting out for council collection. Rather than carry all the items down the driveway, they had packed the car, driven out onto the street, and then unpacked it.

We soon met the couple in question, and they were most friendly. They were also quite large, in their fifties, and on the fast track to morbid obesity. We understood then why they chose not to risk coronary failure by making unncessary journeys up and down the driveway.

Apr 16
Feeding Time
icon4 Apr 16th, 2008 | icon2 Family | icon3No Comments »

Remember the international media storm that descended upon Steve Irwin after he was filmed holding his son Bob near a croc’s mouth? Personally, I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about.

In my family, being held near, or partially in, the mouth of a wild animal was a rite of passage. Extra points were awarded if the animal in question was potentially man-eating.

For example, instead of being baptised, my sister Ruth was simply held above the open jaws of a dolphin at Sea World (c. 1961).

Apr 14

Throughout my school life I sought to remain neutral, like Switzerland during World War II. My avoidance of conflict with schoolyard bullies was largely due to my obvious lack of strategic military importance. I bothered no-one and was left alone in return. There was, however, one chilling episode during which I was the target of an orchestrated campaign of terror.

Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 13

Last night both Rach and I had dreams involving this man:

Seriously, what are the odds of that?!

Apr 9

I can be very sensitive about my frizzy hair. I prefer not to be seen in public until I’ve had a shower and tamed my unruly mop. One day recently, Rach suggested we go to our local park and play frisbee. I hadn’t yet showered, and my hair was at its frizziest, but out we went.

At the park we were having a great time, hurling the frisbee back and forth, when I heard a car moving at great speed along the adjacent road. This sort of hoon behaviour happens a lot where we live, so I didn’t take much notice. My attention was caught, however, when from the corner of my eye I saw one of the occupants leaning out of the passenger window as the car sped by. Looking in our direction, he screamed at the top of his lungs, “Ya woolly cunt!”

Before I had a chance to react the car was gone.

I turned back to Rachael, who was standing some 30 metres away. “Did you hear what that guy just said?”, I yelled to her. “He called me a woolly cunt!”

“I thought he said baldy cunt”, Rach replied.

Indeed, nearby there was a bald man, playing happily with his children, so Rach’s statement made sense. As we continued our game, however, I could not stop thinking about the incident.

The words “baldy” and “woolly” do have a similar sound, particularly when shouted from a fast-moving vehicle. Maybe the Doppler effect was involved here. Perhaps my own hair-related insecurity had tricked my mind into believing the comment was directed towards me. Furthermore, the word “woolly” is probably not in the vocabulary of your typical P-plate Commodore-driving lout. I would expect words like “fuzzy”, “frizzy” or simply “messy” to be used. In fact, might not a young person think long, untidy hair something to be praised rather than mocked?

You can see why, to this day, I am still wracked with indecision regarding this event.

Of course, what I am overlooking here, irrespective of “baldy” or “woolly”, is that in our suburb the word “cunt” is likely to be screamed at you in a public park on a sunny weekend afternoon. Such is the world in which we live.

Apr 7

I was seven years old when my sister got married. She and her new husband went to live in Mt Gambier, in South Australia, where my sister worked as a primary school teacher. They built a nice brick house, right next to the cemetery.

Not long after they moved in to their new home, mum & dad and I drove down to visit them. Their house seemed very new and exciting to me, and it had all sorts of modern, fancy contraptions that our house lacked. I was particularly intrigued by the little buttons on the backs of all the doorknobs. I had never seen these before and had no idea what they might do. (In our house if you wanted to lock a door you pushed a piece of furniture against it.)

Early one morning I had to go to the toilet. (I should mention here that I slept in the spare room, on a bean bag. This was the ’70s after all.) The toilet was in its own little room, and was spotlessly clean. As I sat there I spied the little button on the doorknob. I pressed it a few times to see what would happen. As I opened the door to leave, an idea hit me. I stepped out of the cubicle, then reached back inside and depressed the button. I tested the outside knob and, sure enough, it wouldn’t turn. Eureka!

Then, without thinking, I shut the door behind me as I left. I tried to open the door. It was locked, from the inside. Uh oh.

Immediately I sensed that I had done something wrong, and so I scampered back to the safety of my bean bag bed. At some point I realised there was a general hubbub in the house so I went out to face the music. At first I feigned innocence, but pretty soon I crumpled under the pressure. Yes, I admitted, I might’ve accidentally pressed the button and somehow the door blew shut, or something.

My sister was very angry. My brother-in-law had to get a screwdriver to unlock the toilet door. Maybe he had to take the doorknob off, I don’t know.

To add insult to injury I was charged with the additional crime of weeing on the toilet floor that same morning, which is absolutely false. I think my dad was most likely responsible for that. Or I was framed.


Portrait of the locksmith as a young man, c. 1977

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