In the Workhouse SpoofMania!


In the Workhouse


Spanked-Up Madmen

Random hair clumps are the mark of a man on Bondi Beach

Sydney, Australia
17th February, 2002

The first thing you think of, when you consider Australia, is the beach. (Unless you're like me, then the first thing you think of is "Kylie/Danni Sandwich", the old All Meat and One Gherkin Minogue Special, hold the bread, but after that, it's definitely the beach. You'll need a lie down.)

Men who hang around beaches require certain key abilities. There's surfing, of course, which involves standing up and falling over, again and again. Surfing is so competitive that the experts launch themselves with stylish finality out the window before breakfast and into the nearest puddle, just to make sure they're still splashing with style. Beach-goers must also possess other skills, such as the jog-u-like, a funny little slow beach run, reminiscent of a middle-aged mother-of-three taking fitness lessons It's purpose is to show everyone what a top athelete you are in your beach thong, while hurrying your body past before anyone can notice how you're sucking your gut in.

A woman rarely runs, but employs instead the waddle-wiggle, when she chooses her style of walk depending on who she thinks might be looking. When she walks past a group of aging middle managers, it's a weary waddle, shuffling through the sand. When a surfer puffs past, doing the jog-u-like of course, then she lifts her head and wiggles her bottom for all her might, like a duck in mating season. When a group of females of equivalent age come past then it's the full display: sucking in her stomach, wiggling her bottom and laughing like a startled baboon at her friend's comment on the weather, all to show who's boss.

The Poodles of Cool

Pretence is all important when we shed our clothes. A topless female lying on her belly will simultaneously pretend to read a magazine, to talk to her mate, to sleep, to not give a damn, and still manage to look round in a full 360 degree search to make sure that the boys are still trying to peek at her breasts, and scowling at any who are, just to encourage them.

How good you are at all this can be deduced, if you are a man, from your facial hair growths. The more odd little clumps and outbreaks of fluff you have breaking out from random points over your face and chin, the better you must be at surfing, lounging, talking guff ('sa hey faroout, bro! is the closest I can come to it) and just fartying around doing nothing . The coolest guys of all appear not to grow these little patches of hair at all, but paint their faces with glue, stand back, and allow a short-sighted, color-blind toddler to pelt them with handfuls of carpet gleanings from a hoover bag.

This tufty look is s crucial that if you loosed a dirty poodle half-bald with mange onto the sand, he'd land a job as a surf instructor within the hour, and be ready to commentate at the next Olympics.


The current Winter Olympics excites an interest in Australians that might be thought suprising in such a sunny land. Before this year, they had never won a single Winter gold. Every night we tune into HG and Roy who provide us with the daily medal tally:
Nothern Hemisphere 27 medals, Southern Hempishere 0 medals.
Nice Countries 32 medals, Axis of Evil Countries 0 medals.
Every night they pitch for an Australian 2010 Winter games, to be sited in Smiggin Holes. So far 17,000 volunteers have signed up to the Smiggin's Army.

But I believe that the fascination of the Winter games for Australians is, once more, hairstyle related. The surfers, triathletes, lifeguards and non-descript dude guys throughout Australia look at the zagged quiffs, sideburns, tufts and warty growths of the American lugeurs, skiers and snowboarders, and think, surely, with hair like mine, I should be every bit as good as them! And sit back, preening their whiskers, and vow revenge.

Revenge is never long coming. By Monday, a foppishly coiffured American was once again poised to carry off yet another Winter gold in speed skating. Disaster struck. He and the other three front runners were brought down within metres of the line by another skater, who had the hair of a fool. Fifth place Aussie Steven Bradbury wandered over the line in a daze to win their first ever gold medal. He took off his helmet to show - yes, a violent yellow spiky mass plus a smeg like a food stain on his chin. Australian hair was back in charge.

After such a flukey win, most nations would have shuffled uncomfortably, whistled a bit while gazing intently into the distance, and then nipped off quickly with the medal. In Australia it was a cause for national celebration. The medal tally that night: Australia 1 medal, New Zealand 0 medals.

Eat that, Gaijin

I'm still staying with Julien and Yvonne. The opportunity to live like a normal human being again has been an irresistable delight - my own room, bathroom, clean sheets, proper food. Normal, everyday life is such a holiday after months of backpacking. But I have to be on my way again before they start to think I've put down roots in their flat. Sydney really is a wonderful place to stay. Like all good cities, it is full of human interest. Lots of interesting places to see, things to do, and weird shit to eat.

I was taken to the local Teppan Yaki restaurant last week. They set me up beautifully.
"I dunno, you might like it," Yvonne was all innocence. "Let's give it a try. The chef cooks at your table."
What she did not mention was that the chef singles out newcomers, and, at half time, starts flinging cooked eggs at you while everyone in the restaurant splits themselves laughing. I emerged covered in omelette, (which would have gone well, I must say with a Kylie/Danni Sanwich, but there was none on the menu).

Perhaps it's time to go to Melbourne.

Big Wave Dave

Of course, the mind plays tricks on you. There I was, sprinting down Bondi Beach towards the sea, fondly imagining that I could still be cool, hairless chin and all. I was going quickly enough I hoped for my pale body to be magnificent, but slow enough to check out the action (cool), without looking like I was checking out the action(uncool). Even I must stoop to pretence at times.

There they all were: Aussie surf guys so cool they were incomprehensible; Aussie surf girls flexing and rolling their stomach muscles like a circus act; English female backpackers obvious from the beer belly they'd acquired in six months of drinking and shagging, lolling around staring vacantly at the Aussie surf guys (probably trying to figure out what the hell they were talking about, but thinking, it must be cool); English male backpackers, looking at the Aussie girls, and thinking, if I had muscles like them, I could maybe pull an English girl.

There was a film crew shooting a soap (no Sally). Of course, it was only technical interest that pulled me over and made me gawk at the whole business, though if I'd been talent spotted as a lean mean man o' the world with a love that just won't quit, I suppose I could have helped them out.

But the sea called, and my coolness needed a display. Those waves are nothin! I confidently told myself, and strode manfully out to meet them. What harm can come from a mere wave, that towers... six feet over your head... and everyone else is running away...

Ooof, I believe was the next thing I said, followed possibly by blaaaaaw. My body span crazily, head over tail as the huge onrush of water carried me for fifteen metres, slapped me on the bottom and spat me out, streaming with runny sand and indignity, back among the paddlers. My hair, filled with sea gunk, stood in random spikes. I finally looked cool.

PlayStation 2 Update:

Ten days of torrential rain and GTA III: 973 civilians wasted, 213 cars totalled; the FBI, mafia, fish-selling triads, reggae talking yardies, Columbian drug pushers and inscrutable Japanese yakuza all out for my blood; and now, to cap it all, I'm being pursued by giggling, self-detonating, spanked-up madmen. All I need is a visit from Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters Union and I'll be J.F.K.




Predictable Sydney Picture No.1


Predictable Sydney Picture No.2


Bondi Beach


Another Lazy Day



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