Australians can coo like doves, and whinge like stoats.
6th March, 2002
I remember a gay friend of mine telling me how he sometimes went out with girls,
because, he said, they were so funny looking. I don't quite agree, though without a doubt
all women are bonkers, although they reveal it in different ways. For example, when a
girl does not like me, I know it, because she chooses to either ignore me or be rude to
And when a girl does like me, I know it, because she chooses either to ignore me
or be rude to my face. The only way I have found to locate the truth about a woman's
feelings then, is to stare off into space, while carefully observing her
out of the corner of my eye to see if she swoons with passion when I'm not looking at her.
This does not work.
Australian women express their feelings in two ways. They coo like doves,
or else they whinge like frustrated stoats. When they coo their voices are soft, gentle,
melodic, happy. You want to sit, and be caressed by their simple, earthy humour.
When they whinge you want to brain them with a cricket bat.
Sydney is very fortunate in the multi-ethnic and multi-cultural diversity of its
population. Cities such as Sydney and Toronto, that have embraced such a
mix seem only to have gained from it. You can point at the benefits in the arts, music
and cuisine, if you like, but for me, it always shows up most clearly in the beauty of the
women. It as if the ethnic differences have provoked a good kind of competitiveness in
good looks. And I'm the winner.
The waitress in my local Starbucks coos cheerfully at me each morning, as I wander in
for the Rich Taste of Reliable American Goodness. Now she's given me a free voucher
just so I come back. Is it love? I shall look away and suddenly whip round tomorrow
morning, to catch her mid-swoon.
I've been spending more time at the beach, purely for research. Body surfing, for
example. This is the art of nearly drowning and, afterward, pretending that you meant
to look that bad. I've been practising it recently in Manly and Bondi. The most important
part is, of course, the sound effect, something like: "All right! Whoohoo aghgh spufff
gargle help me jesus whoof Hoohoo! All right!", as you end up head first in a sandbank
with half the beach up your nostrils.
I like to see sea creatures when I go scuba diving. Just the other day I happily
dived among the stone fish and Port Jackson sharks off South Head. But when I swim on the
surface I prefer to see nothing. There I was floating, a target, when all off
a sudden I saw the GIANT SEA BEAST hovering below me a great shadow of menacing evil.
Thinking about it later, it was probably just a skate. I should have popped it under the
grill for five minutes and had it with my chips. What I chose to do was equally valid
at the time: swimming over to the nearest bunch of people, flapping like crazy and crying
"Eat them not me!"
Bold Call Spoof
I don't gamble much because it is a vast bore. As soon as the cards come out,
conversation dies, friends become suspicious opponents, and worst of all, my wallet
devalues faster than a Latin American economy. Australians, however, love gambling.
Every bar and hotel here has a casino annex, a pokey little room filled with one armed
bandits and sad, strained dreams.
The latest craze to surface in Sydney is Spoof, the Game of Three Coins, the Jest of
Kings. All you have to do is hold out a fist with zero to three coins and guess the total
number of coins in all the fists in the game. A correct guess means you're out, and so on
till there's one loser left, to buy the Round of Shame. So simple at first.
So agonizing by the end.
So there they all were gathered, the jackals, eyeing me. I was the fresh meat.
We had played the game, and only two of us were left now, mano y mano. Me and AJ.
Coins tight, fists scrunched up and buttocks firmly clenched.
The group was from Point Australia:
Techno-Mark, who could tell you the cargo capacity of a B52 bomber without blinking;
AJ the Online Sex Goddess, determined to twist e-commerce to her own sinister ends;
Julien the Spoof Bitch, hung with shame. AJ had beaten him three times in a row in the previous week;
and The Frenchman, who has cranked up ze, 'ow you say, ze Fronsh accent, so much,
that you think he is, perhaps, from Scunthorpe, and is just putting it on to get the
Aussie girls, cooing and whingeing, to run after him.
Now they were ready to crow. It was just me (the fresh fish), and AJ (the Dominatrix).
"Hope you got your wallet ready, boy!"
"Mmm those beers taste good!"
"Hohoho, she gonna kick you, hohoho, in ze ass!"
"We're gonna have a new spoof bitch!" said Mark.
(I hope we have a new spoof bitch, murmured the Spoof Bitch, forlorn.)
I held up my fist, and just smiled. I've played against the best in this game.
I watched Donal the Dodgy Mumbler choke as he tried to swallow his coins. I've seen
Four Times Meggs whine like an Australian that to lose was as good as to win.
I've gazed in awe as LoveGod Powers downed shots that I couldn't even pronounce.
I've waited for Riley, Ace of Spoofers, as he left for the bar and nipped out the
toilet window rather than buy another round. I smiled and held up my fist.
"Watch out for AJ! She's tricky!"
"Yess, uh, you be careful, she is, 'ow you say, playing you for ze fool."
Sod you, Frenchy, I'll show you the meaning of style I thought to myself,
and made the play. I had already read the coins in her eyes. I called:
...Pandemonium. Spoof! Zero or six! Noone calls that in the last hand!
It gives your hand away... unless you've already won... but impossible...
could it be?... I watched AJ closely. Doubt turned to fear...to crushing realisation...
and finally acceptance. There was a new Spoof Dog in town.
The New Republicans
One issue that some
Australians try hard to get excited about is whether to ditch the Monarchy and become a
Republic. Most don't seem to care all that much except when it's time to apply for that
British passport, their ticket to money and fun in Europe. The idea is that
they should find a civilian president who would be more representative of the
people, the continent and their mores than the Monarchy can provide.
But where will they find a multi-ethnic kangaroo with a gambling problem?
A civil head of state usually has few powers and can express their opinion on
absolutely nothing relevant, in case they are in conflict with the executive.
Therefore, noone really good wants to do it. Our present incumbent in Ireland is a
glad-handling oportunist who talks like a Larne fishwive. (She was also my personal tutor
in Trinity College. And look how I turned out.) Or you can go the American route and
combine head of state and executive in one person... a certifiable moron.
As for the relative benefits of the Monarchy vs. Civil President... I pose a question:
Who was President of Ireland in 1985? in 1972? ... You don't know? Most Irish people
wouldn't either. Now, Who was Queen of England and Australia in 1985? In 1972? You see
the point? It may not be much, but at least the Royal Family is interesting.
Anyway, it's not my business.
Moving Victoriously On
Life in Sydney has been easy and relaxed. It is such a pleasant place to be, that I
have fallen into a life of idleness and depravity. The only thing that occupies my
attention is whether to go to the beach or the pool today. I'm off to Thailand now, for
some more real travelling. The preparation for this is standard by now. I have inform
as many people as possible that I'm off to Thailand while they have to sit, envious, at home.
I also have to learn some key Thai phrases such as "Where's the hotel?",
"Do mean to say that thing is a toilet?" and "Keep away from me, you freak!"
Email message of the week:
'The reason why I am contacting you is because I did some research and
found http://www.heldencrow.com in Lycos on page 86 for the search term " kayak helmet".'
Glory at last.
Heroes of Spoof
Julien and Yvonne