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Honest School Notes #11

Dear Madam Directrice (please advise – is this the correct way to address you? I should hate to be calling you Dear Leader or Old Farty Bosoms by mistake),

Thank you so much for taking in our three children this year. We are so grateful to you and recognise the extra time and administration required to transform three small feral kangaroos from Wollongong into global citizens. They speak no French yet and this is a significant challenge for them, as well as for you.

So far, we could not be happier with the school. The children and teachers are extremely kind and welcoming and the phrase ‘cuckoo’ for hello, which is called by children constantly from windows as we walk through the little village, warms my heart beyond measure. It could not be cuter if it was being spoken by a basket full of puppies wearing hats.

However, I do have some questions. As I don’t speak French, I have to take guesses as to what is happening at the school gate, and it’s a bit confusing. At my Wollongong school gate, parents are often barefoot and occasionally wearing wetsuits. Many are clutching coffee cups which we suck at like overgrown babies. Sometimes these cups are full of unlikely substances like ‘turmeric’. There is a lot of talk of gluten. There is a lot of active wear.

Here in France, there is a lot of fagging on at the gate, no active wear, no coffee, and once, the unmistakable tang of jazz tobacco in the air. (I believe it’s called ‘le shit’, here in France, but I’ve made terrible mistakes with translation before.)  In Coledale if a parent lit up at the school gate, it would only be some sort of chemical-free vaporised bone broth delivery system that they had purchased on Etsy.

There are different cliques that hang under different trees, and even a hard-core biker dad that roars to the gate with high-decibel theatricality on his mechanical penis. His prison-style face tatts and waistcoat look menacing until his small, beautifully dressed daughter runs and leaps into his arms. In general, there are more Dads at the pick-up than at home, and all the parents are sweet to us, and tolerate my conversation, which is at about the level of Washoe the chimp that learned sign language. They even give me the three-cheek kisses of Southern France.

Last week there was a commotion as a loud argument suddenly began between a heavily pregnant school Mum and an elderly man and woman walking their dog. There was a lot of gesticulating and shouting and all the waiting parents were thrilled. I tried and failed to catch any of the French except ‘gros merde’. That’s ‘big shit’, I thought to myself. I concluded that the dog had done a big poo and the seniors had failed to pick it up. This is exactly the kind of thing that would inspire an equivalent shouting match in my home town, where we have a ‘dog beach’ and there is obsessive attention to the management of animal faeces.

A few days later, however, I got to school for the pick up to see police everywhere – the local police, and also the gendarmerie, which are a sort of local militia, unless my translation is off. Again, shouting, gesticulating. Surely it’s not the dog poo again, I thought? This seems excessive. But I had no other theories.

Eventually I picked up, through limping conversation, that there had been a fight between a couple of kids, and the mum had called the authorities. Not just the police, it seems; but the army too.  This seems unlikely. Could it really be the dog poo? Possibly I was suffering some sort of contact-high hallucination from the fumes of ‘le shit’ and none of these things ever happened?

At home, we are currently reading an Agatha Christie murder mystery out loud. It’s not really necessary, though, I am coming to realise. The school gates are my very own mystery. It seems impossible to imagine that at some point I will understand how they work.

In the meantime, thank you again, Dear Leader, for taken on my children. It’s an experience they will never forget, and neither will I, unless of course, I’m so stoned that it all disappears like a dream.

Yours sincerely,

Ms. McIntosh.

Ps – I am hoping that in a couple of months, when the children can communicate a little, that they will stay at school for the 3 course lunch. Also, is this available for mothers? I will pay anything you ask.

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Honest School Notes #10



Bad With Money

Happy new year, comrades!

How is 2017 beginning for you? We are home this week, on holidays together, with nowhere to be and nothing on the books. It’s fabulous. Keith is building a new grey-water pipe, which means he is ringing in the new year covered in sludge and smelling like a tarts arsehole, and I am systematically making my way through every room in the house; sorting, spring-cleaning and decluttering. We are busy in the best way, and spending lots of down time too, reading, watching movies and playing Bananagrams.

I miss writing here, and inspired by Kate, I think I will try and write once a week in this space, to decant some of my thoughts onto the page and sort them out. Like Joan Didion, ‘I don’t know what I think until I write it down’.

Today I thought I’d explore something that makes my toes curl and my heart race. If  I had testicles, this subject  would make them retreat into my body.


I am bad with money.

This is shameful and humiliating, and I have always been like this.

I sabotage myself constantly. I am frugal – I menu plan, I shop at the op-shop, I don’t buy much ‘stuff’. But the part of me that is thoughtful and careful with money is constantly undermined by the other part of my brain that is weird and anxious about it and so avoids thinking about it as much as possible. Which makes me on the one hand careful, and on the other hand, utterly unaware of where the money is going.

As in; I make careful lists and then buy the sparkly things as they appear before me, like a child.

As in; I think about and plan my shopping and then never check my change or keep track of things in process.

As in: my actions make my plans a waste of time and energy.

Self-sabotage! What fun!

I open up to this failing to you guys in the hope that there are some of you  that feel the same. Are you bad with money? Are you good with money? How does one get from one persona to the other? This is one of my great intentions for 2017: to improve on this aspect of life.

Being bad with money is childlike and infantilising. It upsets me because I am good at managing the complex family life of work and kids. I can handle it, I like it, and I actually pretty rarely drop the ball even though I definitely play up the parts where I stuff up (which are frequent) for comedy purposes.

But this inability to keep track of my financial life blocks me; it holds me in the eternal hopeless present, and it undermines my sense of achievement or agency in other aspects of life.

Keith and I had one of our finance conversations yesterday. These fun chats are the ones where my hands get shaky and my voice gets squeaky and I basically hold my breath until we can stop talking.

Poor Keith.

Lucky us, though. If I was married to me we would be in dire straits, living in a yurt somewhere and wondering what happened to our superannuation paperwork.  Keith, however, is a scientist, engineer and a master of all kind of nerd-craft, and has a complex spreadsheet of such matters. It is colourful and  complex and looking at it makes my palms sweat.

As you can imagine, I am not at all frustrating to be married to. Over the years we have refined our systems to avoid conflict in this regard, and we largely do. But yesterday, I was baffled by ‘purchase charges’ on my bank statement and Keith lost his cool. He can’t understand my stupidity about this stuff, and I am ashamed and defensive.

The good thing is that I am not extravagant. Just a fucking idiot. So there is hope.

I’ve been looking for some advice around the place. I really like the podcast Bad With Money, by Gaby Dunn. and I tried listening to a couple of others but they are either all about investing or leap unexpectedly into bible verse, which is disconcerting. I tried watching a couple of budgeting YouTubers but they put me to sleep and have crazy eyes. Lots of people seem to be reading The Barefoot Investor. Yay or nay?

That’s me for 2017. Bad with money. Hoping to get better.


Post-Fact Universe

The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 is post-truth: an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.

It’s a new landscape, where as fascism takes root around the world,  ‘fake news’ is a massive industry,and Donald (who is himself an invention who didn’t even write The Art of The Deal, the book that underscores his entire persona) has appointed a white supremacist as chief White House strategist.

What can we rely on? What’s next? Can I have a blanky? And a drinky?

Here’s Karl Rove, the later-outed ‘unnamed source’ from a 2004 New York Times Magazine article by Ron Suskind: ‘ The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

‘We’re an empire now, and we create our own reality.’

Guess we’ll just have to watch how that plays out. Fun timez ahead!

Clive James once said that humour is ‘common sense, dancing’. In this frightening and confusing cultural moment, Joe Biden memes have been bringing me joy, as Joe puts orange powder in the bathroom for Donald’s nose, threatens to throw hiswig in the fireplace and stashes fake birth certificates and ‘Secret Muslim Agenda’ files about the place. Obama is kind and big-daddyish; and Biden is all of us.


My fave is the one where Joe says ‘these memes are just an illusory escape from the public’s feelings of utter powerlessness and uncertainty right now’…

Stay safe out there, comrades.




South Pacific Postcard #1


Here we are, rolling into our third week in Port Vila. I  thought it was beyond time I started recording some thoughts.


What an interesting adventure we’ve had so far. We are renting a little n air bnb place next door to a village outside the gates of a large resort. The family that own this place live downstairs, their two kids have made friends with ours, and the five children are in and out of both houses all day.


I spent the first two weeks running a little home-school out on the porch.



It was really fun, and really intense. The children downstairs have not been going to school for a while, and lots of the village kids don’t go at all. School is not free here. Like many locals, our host family was hit hard by Cyclone Pam – th economic implications of the cyclone are still clear around town.  Little L and T were excited to join in with my guys doing school. Much more excited than my own crew!

Our plans this year were to learn some natural history, so we’ve done a lot a talking about the Pacific Ring Of Fire, a lot of making maps. The skill levels of these five kids under ten vary wildly so I had to do a lot of juggling around reading, writing and maths. We read The Enchanted Wood out loud, sang songs, learnt some rap (!), played Bananagrams and cards.


There were times, as a fake-teacher, when I felt so deep in ‘flow’. One day, I tried to explain to eight-year-old L how to take his ‘five-sentence’ challenge to the next level  - how I had just finished a book that morning (A Little Life, for the bookworms out there) in which the lead character Jude moved me so much that I cried real tears at the end of the book. Jude was real to me, and I cared about him, even though he was just a collection of words on a page. I told L that words could be like magic, and books like magical objects.


The next morning L bounded up the stairs to show me the ‘feelings’ he had added to his sentences in the night.  Moments like that were so amazing. And there were lots of hilarious times too, of course. But it was full-on, jumping from child to child, all calling for my eyeballs on them. ‘Miss Rachael!’ “Mum! ‘Miss Rachael!’ ‘Mum!’ On the last day of school I had an extra kid from the village with almost no English who called me ‘Teacher Mummy.’


The village was a mixed bag for me. Port Vila is a pretty run-down place and it took me a couple of weeks to get over the sense of menace I felt when we arrived. On our first afternoon there was a big kid- showdown in the yard. The village kids shouted insults in Bislama at my kids (my favourite one so far:  ’why don’t you wipe your arse and eat it?’How to respond? ‘Well, maybe I will…?’) ‘You is gross!’ they told nine-year old Peanut. ‘Your hair is gross!’


It was West Side Story, writ small. Young L chased the ringleader out of his yard while my big girl, wide eyed and teary, took some time to process what happened. That night, there was a lot of shouting outside our windows. Our downstairs host came up to explain that a nine-year old girl from the village had gone missing. Everybody was out searching. A couple of hours later, she was found. She’d been hiding from her dad, because he hits her with electrical cords. I was warned that the kids were pretty violent, that they got hit and then they hit each other, and that there had been a few rapes lately, so I shouldn’t walk too close to the long grass.


Outside our window, dogs barked, cats fought and roosters crowed all night long. There was a lot of laughter from the nakamal, the kava bar nearby. Birds were nesting in our roof. The bed was tough on my back. The shower never got hot.


I felt, for a week, pretty nervous about this place.



But now, a few weeks later, I’m all good. I’ve stopped clutching my pearls and started getting the hang of Port Vila.  We get the bus everywhere, we’ve found the good coffee, the food market, the secondhand bookstore, the French boulangerie, the Italian supermarket. The kids can all say ‘tangkyu tumas!’ and I can say ‘Name bilong me Rachael. Wass name name bilong you?’ to all my new friends. That’s the limit of my Bislama though, unless I add ‘why don’t you wipe your arse and eat it’ to the conversation which, I’m no Emily Post, but….


The village children are scrappy, fierce, funny and adorable. My three, fresh out of the nerd factory, are prone to weeping about being emotionally ‘triangulated’ by their siblings (I take full responsibility for that.) It’s been fantastic thing to watch them form a new gang together with their Vanuatu friends. They read to each other, play with the Rubiks cubes, carry the cat about, have water fights.  They have developed a minor obsession with a little Lego man they call Mister Squishy.

I feel pretty sheepish about my early worries about this gang from the village, these sparkly-eyed little people who now run to me in the yard and ask me to sing ‘Miss Polly Had A Dolly’.


Yesterday a toddler appeared at my screen door. There was nobody in sight, so I took him to the village next door to find his Mum. It was the first time I had been inside the compound, and it was an eye-opener. I followed a young boy through shanty-town laneways, corrugated iron and cardboard huts, piles of garbage. It was dusty and hot. Eventually, we found the boys Mum playing bingo with her friends, and I handed over the baby, a cutie called R with a winning grin.


Keith is working through the week, like a champ, and on the weekends he’s in holiday mode. We have been spending a lot of time with his cousin, her husband and their six children, a really lovely family  - totally unflappable, even with such a big tribe! The kids have spent four years living in Port Vila, and maybe that’s the key. They are self-sufficient, kind and charming. I’m taking mental notes.


We’ve visited blue holes and snorkelling spots, fire shows and little islands.


Our favourite thing is to take the the bus around Efate and watch the people out the window: the women in their beautiful flowery dresses, the children everywhere – yesterday, a dog racing at speed down the road with a wrapped newspaper package in its mouth – hot chips perhaps? It looked like a guilty dog!  The billboards in Bislama – a Creole language , a hybrid of French and English – make me happy. ‘Plis yu mus no jam jam’ on a wharf; ‘Numba Wan Yumi!’ on a rice ad, the chicken house in our backyard with a sign that reads ‘Kingdom Bilong Fowl’.


The bus drivers all love a chat and the girls play a game they call ‘Sweet and Sour’, waving at passers-by from the bus window and rating whether they respond  (the ‘sweet’ hit is very high around here) while  T-Bone barely looks up from his Harry Potter. Still – he’s happy. Port Vila no longer feels like a scary town, but rather a vibrant, bustling, exuberant one.

We are eating lots of pamplemousse (grapefruit – very sweet and delicious here), long-life milk, paw-paw and peanut-butter Saos.


 I’ve been reading some great books and am trying hard to sit on my hands and leave the two I picked up today for the next leg of the trip. (I will fail.) The kids are Harry Potter all the way, of course. Some things never change.



Next week, we’re blowing this town. Keith is finishing up work and taking two weeks of actual proper holiday, and we’re planning on taking a ferry to an island called Malekula, and exploring an area called the Dogs Head. Malekula is much quieter than Port Vila and the most culturally diverse island in Vanuatu. We’re looking forward to seeing the two main tribes: the Big Nambas (who wear massive penis gourds) and the Small Nambas (who presumably buy sports cars to compensate). Also, hoping for a few wonderfully quiet days on a little coral island off the mainland, Robinson Crusoe style. It’s time Keith tried out the fire-lighting flint he got for Fathers Day.


We need to take lots of food, malaria-preventatives and an Girl-Guidey, can-do attitude. (Oh dear, this is my challenge…. )  But I think it will be amazing. From there we’ll head onto another island called Santo and then  (funds permitting!)  to Tanna Island where we are keen to see the cargo-cult rituals that date from pre-WW2, and also look into the mouth of an active volcano! We’re doing all this all the super-cheap, but it’s not a cheap place, Vanuatu. Everything costs a bomb.


After that: home, a bonfire to dispose of our festy clothes and – praise the Lord and pass the Terry’s Chocolate Orange! – my beloved bathtub and my comfortable bed.
Tropical love to you all! Another update, at some point, I hope. Gud naet. xx


It’s late, I’m trying to download thousands of pics off my phone to make room for our trip away, and I’m stuck here waiting for the process to finish…first time I’ve stopped all day. It’s been mennal around here!

At 5am tomorrow we’re blowing this joint to head off to the South Pacific for five weeks. SO exciting.  Part work, part play. I’ll be doing some home-schooling (first order of business:  ’Hitler,  He Only Had One Ball’ in 3 part harmony, and then I’ll wing it from there.)  Also, lots and lots of lovely lovely relaxing (keeping in mind of course that my three companions, aged 9, 8 and 5, will be at my side demanding I feed them coconuts every seven minutes.)

All is enthusiasm! around here. I even got a leg wax and a spray tan in honour of the occasion, which is extreme grooming for me. Usually as fancy as I get is putting my bra on for the school run. The children looked at me with disdain when I told them that this week I was paying a lady to rip the hair out of my lags and then paying another lady to paint me brown.

The planning and prepping and packing has reached serial killer levels of organisation but I think I’m done.

Off, into the wild blue yonder. Me, overseas for the first time in ten years (!) and the children, overseas for the first time ever.


I shall report on other lands very soon. I must, must, must get on with all my jobs before bed. Really  I only came on here to find this: the Lords Prayer in Pidgin. I love Pidgin so much. I can’t believe I’ll be hearing it next week!

Honest School Notes #10

Dear Office,

I’m sorry the children were late this morning and wearing the wrong clothes.

I lost my Sunday, you see.

There is so much organisation involved in getting three kids clothed and prepared for a school week that I tend to use Sunday to get on top of that stuff. I bake muffins and bread. I freeze sandwiches and squeezy yogurts and make sure there are lots of apples and carrots in the fridge. I do my best to tackle and conquer the washing pile so that there are pants, undies, socks and hoodies ready for the week ahead. This make me happy. I feel I am ready to take on the world.

If the weekly sort out and the night-before planning don’t happen, mornings are a stressful mess of shouting. There is not a lunchbox, drink bottle, hair-elastic or hat to be found anywhere.

We had a thing at our place on Saturday night. Now, I don’t get out much, so  when I do, my latent party animal just goes mental. I’ll leave out the details of what was said and done on the night (I can’t remember them) but let’s just say that there were a lot of pisco sours, one girlfriend left with ‘strippers remorse’ and one did the washing up with such enthusiasm that she smashed two wineglasses. Sunday morning I was not at my peak. There may/may not have been noises at my house that sounded like a giant cat was trying to expel a furball.

By Sunday night I felt human again, but I was not chia-seed how to purchase alprazolam online raspberry pudding-Martha Stewart- mother. I was Nurofen Plus -stop-breathing-so-loudly-Mummy’s-got-a-headache mother. Plus, I had dressed as a Mexican man for the party and I was having trouble scrubbing off the moustache. I am sure that if this ever happened to Martha, she would know precisely the blend of organic oils and unguents to deal with the problem.

Monday morning was a shambles. There was no little note in the lunchbox; in fact there was was barely recognisable food in there. After a fruitless search, I was forced to tell the nine-year-old ‘Just grab a jumper out of the lost property and I’ll wash it and replace it!’ She did. But the jumper she grabbed was size 4, and she is nine, so that didn’t work out so well for my already shabby reputation.

The truth is, Office, that I can have a wild Saturday night, or I can have the children fully prepared for school on Monday. I tip my hat to those parents who can do both, but I am not one of them.

This weekend, back to reality. Saturday night will see me sorting socks in front of the television with a nice cup of tea and a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, Sunday will see me getting our shit together, and Monday will see the children at school fully equipped for the day ahead.

My apologies, again.

Ms. McIntosh

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Preschooler Fashion: Too Much Is Never Enough

This post was first published in Practical Parenting Magazine, June 2016

Dedicated to Nanna!

Nothing new under the sun, German postcard, 1910

I’m thinking I might start a fashion line called ‘Four Year Old’. Every garment in my first collection (I shall call it More Is More) will be sparkly, glittering or bejewelled. It will be spectacular, and also, utterly mad.

Four is the age of independence, a time when a fierce sense of personhood expresses itself in lots of ways, most fabulously through the wardrobe. I will choose my clothes, Mummy! No! I will dress myself!

Little Pudding is my third child down the runway of life, and I’ve realised a few things along the way. First, resistance is futile. The more you want your child to dress in Fair-Trade neutral organic cotton woven by a feminist collective in Uzbekistan, the more they will assert their right to wear synthetic Frozen-themed sportswear.

I’m thinking, specifically, here, of the pain I felt when my firstborn Peanut became obsessed, age three, with a pair of satin Wiggles boxer shorts that Nanna picked up at the op shop. (Nanna!!) I hated those shorts, and the emotional power this gave Peanut (See Mummy sweat! See Mummy plead!) spurred her on to greater and greater heights of rebellion, until eventually she insisted on wearing, every day, the Wiggles boxer shorts, a t-shirt that read ‘Bring Back Warnie’ and a pair of plastic Wiggles sunglasses. When I insisted on putting her uniform through the wash, she would wait patiently by the window. ‘Is Warnie dwy, Mama? Will Warnie be dwy soon?’

Hopelessly optimistic, I would proffer classic brown sandals, woollen capes and sweet bird brooches, as she pushed past me to get to the pink heels that Nanna picked up for her at the op shop. (Nanna!!)I was so adamant that my first-born daughter wouldn’t fall victim to the Princess buy alprazolam online overnight delivery syndrome that of course (can you feel what is coming? Nanna found it hilarious) by age four Peanut would not only wear nothing but pink, but also insisted she be referred to as Pinky Winky.

When my son T-Bone was four, he insisted that his outfits be ‘like a fruit salad’ which involved combining colour, pattern and print in such violently clashing ways that passers-by would have to shield their eyes from the glare. Also, he loved to wear his clothes backwards, which made for a lot of bum-flashing.

Of course, now that Peanut and T-Bone are nine and seven, their fashion choices take different forms. Peanut wears two different shoes to school every day, and chooses her outfits on how well they facilitate handstands. T-Bone barely notices whether he has shoes on or not.

It’s my third child, Pudding, who is deep in the pre-school fashion zone now. Bedazzled and glorious, she embodies the opposite of Coco Chanels famous advice: ‘get dressed, and then take one thing off’. For Pudding and her peers, enough is never enough. In fact, the pre-school playground should sport a warning sign: ‘Beware: Intensive Glitter Zone.  7% Chance Of Mild Epileptic Fit.  85% Chance Of Headache. Do Not Look Directly At Children As Costumes May Blind’.


This third time round, I surrender. I empty my drawers of all the neutrals, the camel, tan and cream, the darling brown Mary-Janes and the vintage coats. Off they go to the op-shop, for other hopeful mothers of size 3-4 youngsters.  I retain the synthetic fibres, the unnatural colours and anything Frozen. Also, I’ll take notes for the fashion line. And I’ll dedicate the first collection to Nanna, because she knew all along, of course, that this sweet and hilarious time won’t last and the best idea of all is to just enjoy it, in all its sparkly madness.

Watching, Listening, Reading #5

How’s it travelling out there? What have you been scanning with your eyeballs, cramming down your cakeholes, sucking down your earholes?

Oh, this opening is making me feel a little nauseous. My apologies. (note to self: lift tone.)


I adored Ann Patchett’s Amazonian tale State Of Wonder, a one-more-page-while-the-bath-is-getting-cold type of read. Also the late, wonderful Oliver Sacks autobiography On The Move:  charming,funny and idiosyncratic, like the man himself. Look at him here, so young and gorgeous.

I also loved broadcaster Simon Scott’s memoir ‘Unforgettable: A Son, A Mother and The Lessons Of A Lifetime‘ about time spent at his mothers bedside. She is a racy, witty and kind-hearted showgirl, he’s a moving writer, and their relationship is beautiful. (I must add here while trying to remember Scott’s name,  I thought the book was called ‘Surrender’ and so I googled ‘Surrender memoir’, where I was directed to a article called ‘Rectal Romance’ in which ‘Toni Bennett talks about her new anal sex memoir.’  I mean. No.  I know that the young people say that the rump is the ‘hot spot’ of the moment, but Ms. Bennett… think of your legacy!  )

I’ve read some excellent 1980′s tales lately: the astonishing, unputdownable story Octopus by Guy Lawson about Sam Israel and the stockbroking world of the 80s, and Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman, about her trip to China as a young girl in 1986, when everything goes catastrophically wrong.

Keith has just finished the last of the Narnia series with the kids, and they are embarking on Swallows and Amazons. I’ve been reading the first 2 books of the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, which are super fun, punchy, high-octane spy-tales. Great for reading aloud, especially because you get to punctuate  every chapter with ‘Duh duh DUH!’, which happens less often in life than it should. We’ve just moved on to calmer fare though; and I am loving re-visiting My Family And Other Animals by Gerald Durrell; one of my own teen favourites.


I’ve been doing a bit of the OJ Simpson story and loving my old fave Nurse Jackie on Netflix, but I’m not finding much time for TV at the minute.

I really love both Leigh Sales and Annabel Crabb, and so their short, snappy show When I Get A Minute  is right up my alley. These short, chatty programs cover books, TV, podcasts and general media, they are delightful and everything they discuss I have either read or watched, or plan to as soon as possible. Also on iView, Luke MacGregors series Luke Warm Sex was almost unbearably candid, as he goes on a sort of 6-episode sexual vision quest to try and get over his own hang-ups as a shy and anxious person. He is such an unusual comic, disarmingly sincere and immensely likeable, and so it made for wonderful television, provided that you can see through your fingers.

The kids have moved, well and truly, into the Doctor Who zone. Also they love the Slow Mo Guys on YouTube, and the girls and I are partial to a bit of RPA (the more intense the surgery, the better. )

Together, we are loving Survivor, one of my own favourites for at least a decade now. It’s an excellent family show – much strategising, much excitement, a lot of communal maths as we work out numbers and alliances before eviction. (Nerdy good times!) Tonight we stuffed ourselves with spicy bean burritos, then had a special dessert; coconut pannacotta with fresh pineapple, in honour of the tropics.

Friday night Survivor – it’s one of my favourite things.


Keith and I are really into historian Dan Carlin at the minute; his history podcasts are amazing but we also love his current-affairs show. (Interesting Trump analysis.) The New Yorker politics podcast is also great on the US election. I’ve been enjoying Only Human and The Memory Palace, and as always, Double X, Radiolab and Freakonomics are reliably cracking shows.

On Spotify I’m really liking this indie playlist with the crazy title Skäggiga snubbar sjunger skönsång, which translates to ‘men in beards singing sweetly’ or similar, as well as a bit of Barbra Streisand. T-Bone is very into ‘It’s Raining Tacos’ (do not explore, earworm of epic proportions) and I’ve been pulling out some of the old favourite Dan Zanes for the smallest. (If you have pre-schoolers, Zanes is the best – try Catch That Train.) Here’s a cracking one: Prince’s own party-mix as a Spotify playlist. 

Happy weekending, my friends. May the road rise to meet you,  the wind be at your back, your pannacotta coco-nutty and your earworms brief and manageable.

Any tips for me? Whats good in your world?


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Cultural Earthquakes

Yeah, so Donald Trump may be the next American President!

I mean.

Come on.

Is anybody else trying to get a handle on this crazy cultural moment?

The Trump campaign is being frequently compared to the rise of Hitler in the 1930′s.  Hitler, like Trump, was excellent at packaging ‘hate as hope.’ And as humans, we seem able to ignore any number of madly chiming warning bells as long as some Big Daddy says that he’ll take care of everything.

As in, Catholicism. As in, George Pell.

Deep breath. Deep breath!

*beautiful tropical island, gentle waves lapping over toes* *SERENITY NOW*

America currently seems to me a bitter and demoralised country, hobbled with economic inequality, divided on issues of race and religion, and grappling with a shifting paradigm that Hanna Rosin calls ‘the end of men’. The ‘black swan’ theory describes ‘unexpected, unprecedented, cataclysmic events that overturn established ways of thinking. ‘ (Great article about that  here).

It’s madness, an entirely new type of politics, and all we can do is watch it unfold.

Other things are unfolding right now – the endless summer we’re having here in Australia, for instance. The endless summer of a warming planet. The new wave of feminism that is shining a light on the everyday sexism that infuses Australian culture. That sexism that begins with lighthearted humour and ends with domestic violence (11 women dead so far in 2016, and a breakdown of the current state of play by my brilliant friend Jane Alver) The next revolution is coming. That is, unless Trump wins the Presidency and we are all catapulted into some kind of Hunger Games post-apocalyptic universe.

Here at home, in my own little nest on the warm planet, the earth has been shifting too. There is heartbreaking sickness in the family, and there have been worrying and complicated school dramas for one of my kids.  It’s taken a lot of thought and careful navigating, and a lot of poking around in the dark.

In the meantime, I’m crafting with the 4 year old, playing Monopoly with the 7 year old and laughing with the nine year old. Chop wood, carry water, cuddle children, eat chocolate.

In big things as in small, it’s like Kierkegaard says: Life must be lived forwards, but can only be understood backwards. Also:  Better out than in. And finally: When your mans outa town, the shit will go down.

Come home quick and safe K Dog. We miss you.

That’s my rant over for the morning. Deep breath out.  Thanks for listening, and if all those earthquakes get a little too much for you, come with me now:  *tropical island* *mojito* *young Jack Kerouc* *SERENITY NOW*



Let The Sexy Dancing Begin!

Model is reading Mary Wollstonecraft’s iconic feminist tome A Vindication Of The Rights Of Women.


The big girl is doing tumbling this year, which she loves, and her class follows directly on from a dance class. Lots of the kids do both classes in a row, and Peanut has been asking to do dancing as well.

I had said no, but I’m wavering after catching the end of the routine they are learning this week. It was just so delightfully erotic and fun! Now I don’t know about you but I think there’s just not enough sexiness in the pre-teen dance scene. If my nine year old is going to do dancing, I want her learning sassy, flirty numbers. Forget backflips and contemporary routines. That’s old hat. I want her strutting across the stage, twerking and pointing her fingers accusingly at the audience with a sulky and arrogant expression.

It helps that the music is so cool! It was so fun watching the whole room of pre-pubescent girls dance to the lyrics ‘I don’t want to go to school, I just want to break the rules.  Going to the discoteque, getting high and getting wrecked’.


Fingers crossed the girls will be dressed in some slutty-schoolgirl attire, like Britney did. That sexy schoolgirl stuff was awesome for Britney before it caused her to shave her head and suffer a massive emotional breakdown. Maybe I’ll offer to help with the costuming.

I think it would be very dramatic and show-bizzy if the girls started in clean and tidy sexy-uniforms before the part where they dance about getting wasted in nightclubs. Then they can rip off the skirts, and show the vomit and incontinence stains on their dance tights. The lighting should really evoke a party-drug feel, and maybe there’s room for dance that expresses  bad sexual decisions made while intoxicated. Perhaps a morning-after- remorse moment?

I’ll be signing Peanut up straight away. She’s nine after all, and it’s really about time she started absorbing all these important  lessons about her feminine worth and value!

ps – here’s what I’d like Peanut to be learning: some hard-core moves of glory. Check out Tom Jones and Janis from 1969, and clock the dancing in the background. Potential spinal injury, sure. But Funkymeter set to 11. Rest in peace Janis, you legend.