Monday, July 30, 2007


In which I am undaunted by sports.

It's been a weird weekend. On Friday, a challenging day in my new department (Accounts Payable, otherwise known as "the one where we send out money to pay for things we buy from other companies") we commenced with choc chip muffins ... just because. Then a former employee brought her new baby in to be cooed over while we crowded into the lunch room and shared a Nando's takeaway. At one point the pram caused a log-jam in between cubicles, causing one guy to ask, bewildered, "There's a queue to hold this kid?"

Then - and this is how I know I've Arrived - I was invited to end-of-the-month free drinks, or "Beers in the Boardroom", where I encountered the CEO. I'd never seen him before in my life and was on the verge of asking him what he did, when I realised how much louder he was than everyone else, and quickly bit my tongue. Only the mighty get to shout with joy and be applauded! A group of blokes were trying to think of the word "scanning," but couldn't, so - and I love when this happens - they expressed it with sign language which turned into an interpretive dance. Three were doing smooth arm-waving movements, while the other two, trying to comprehend, mimicked the arm waving with added flourishes. They looked like a camp forest of seagrass. I could just see them back in their clubbing days, "stacking boxes" to house music. Incidentally, the whole dance genre of music has a derogatory yet onomatopoeic Aussie name, "doof doof".

I also spoke to cute-guy-who-looks-like-Charlie-from-Numb3rs, whose name I forget.
Every lunchtime he and another IT guy run 7ks in preparation for the 12k charity walk we're all doing at the end of August. Well, they'll be running it, but I'll be walking: my only sport is belly dancing. He recalled a toe-curling occasion when he'd been in a restaurant with his parents and a belly dancer had made some suggestive moves on his father. I was momentarily silenced.

On Saturday I re-read Harry Potter 7 - I so want to write a review going into spoilers! and on Saturday night met up with my wonderful bubbly marine biologist friend Marjolein to go to FloorPlay, a dance extravaganza widely advertised on TV with the tagline "Burn The Floor!" The dancing was spectacular, and the costumes were just amazing (I want a dress entirely covered in sequins!) although I didn't think the series of black elastic straps actually did much for the woman who wore them instead of a dress.

Unfortunately, we were sitting in the balcony. We could see the stage just fine, but at the beginning an usher asked us not to stand up when we couldn't see the dancers, as this would interfere with the lighting. Well, this show has been at that theatre for at least a month, and frankly to have everyone disappear into the aisles - while a lot of fun for the audience in the stalls - is just poor staging! If you can't send a couple up to the balcony, at least leave someone on stage for us to look at! Otherwise, regardless of verbal warnings, people are going to stand up and crane over in an attempt to keep up.

Who goes to a show like this? Well, women are in the majority, although the chaps dragged along didn't seem too henpecked. We were in awe of the cougars, though - reeling ladies in their fifties, slamming back cocktails then backing young men into corners and attempting to rumba with them. Some of their outfits, like the head to toe red leather ensemble or the fishnet tights fluffy with ostrich feathers, were fantastically striking, as if the spirit of Isabella Blow had glided across Subiaco. As we left the theatre they prowled off in search of innocents leaving the bars. I hope that whe I'm in my 50s and 60s I'll still have that reckless sense of adventure!

On Sunday it was too rainy to watch Brendan's footy game, so I went for a wander to check out other Northbridge hostels. I got photos of those trees that have struck me for weeks now as being amazingly sculptural, and strolled like a true flaneur through Highgate and Mount Lawley. I saw coffee shops, bookshops, bakeries, and a shop selling "everything you want - nothing you need," exemplified by the colossal birdbath, over a metre across, on its front lawn. I also witnessed a drunken argument with incoherent shouting followed by a man striking a woman down. It was sickening. The police were already crossing the street so I guess the dispute must have been going on for some time, but I didn't expect to step out of the dreamy suspended-time atmosphere of a second-hand bookshop and suddenly be back in that world of violence and drunken rage again.

Perth is generally one of the safest cities - certainly nothing compared to Alice Springs - but like any city there are a few drunken characters I'd rather cross the road to avoid a discussion with than walk past.

I have two links for you. Here is a great account by literary critic Michael Berube of how his son, who has Down's syndrome, learned to follow a story's narrative through reading the Harry Potter books. And this is a parody round-up of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" - containing ALL THE SPOILERS - but if you want to laugh till you spray tea across your computer screen, and you've already finished the book, you may check it out. You may wish to keep a tea towel handy.

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Monday, July 02, 2007


Workplace woes

It's taking me a while to settle at my new temp workplace (it's not a mining company, they just build plants that process the ore. Which is good for Australian jobs. That's how I'm squaring this with my conscience.)

Nobody told me about Coffee Guy, who mystically appears in the car park at certain times - I only realise he's been and gone by the large number of people suddenly clutching paper cups. No-one warned me about casual Friday, making me the only person in smart trousers (taking me back to all those times at school when I forgot about mufti day, and was the only person wandering vaguely around in school uniform.)

I've also just discovered that the teaspoons in the drying rack are in fact all dirty - which has me feeling just disgusting - and at lunch today I sat next to a lugubrious gentleman who spent the entire break disputing the Tupperware catalogue. ("Two hundred and sixty dollars for a saucepan! Hah!" "Plastic baking trays? The wife'd still melt 'em." "Thirty dollars for four glasses? Look at 'em! You could get twelve for that price in Target!") Then he proceeded to discuss his ailments, and how he really shouldn't be at work but had to come in, and he knew we would all get sick, because it was going around, and all the employees merely reinfect each other, but he had to finish his work, so here he was, hoicking away...

The best business I've encountered so far has to be Computers Built By Bludgers (which means something different in Australian slang - not the Harry Potter kind of bludger). This company is based in Sonorous Close. I'm not joking - there's a distinctive J. K. Rowling element to this. What is rather nice is the way that any gap in the conversation is filled with a cheerful "So how's it going?" Almost all business conversations - at least the ones I've had - end with "No worries!" followed by "love," "darl" or "mate": much friendlier than the more formal UK equivalents, "You're welcome" and "My pleasure." I still sometimes confuse Jan and Jean, Lennon and Linen, but I find myself understanding the accent instinctively. This affirms that all those years of watching Neighbours were not in vain!

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