Sunday, 24 September 2017

Ryan Ryan Go Away, Fly Again Another Day

A breakaway faction of the Human Resources Revolutionary Army (HRRA) has claimed responsibility for the recent cancellation of 2000 flights by a UK budget airline. In a bid to create national terror, HRRA operatives conspired to approve the holiday leave applications of scores of pilots, playing havoc with the nation’s travel plans and creating a sangria glut in Benidorm that could spell economic doom.

“I knew it wasn’t right” said Mavis Butterworth of Grimsby “when the stewardess asked if there was a pilot on board, even before we’d taken off.” The public has been asked to be on the lookout for men wearing suspiciously large amounts of gold braid and duty-free aftershave.

Reports are coming in from across Europe of carefree Germans not even bothering to leave their towels on the sunbeds at 6am and tons of unwanted battered cod being thrown back into the Mediterranean. Locals in resorts from the Algarve to Zakynthos have been in confusion about the weather, having no-one available to complain about it, and the bottom has fallen out of the European pharmaceutical market, with huge stockpiles of hangover cures and sunburn remedies.

The news isn’t all bad though, with many Brits deciding to take their holidays at home instead, boosting the umbrella industry and causing a rush on generators by Publicans keen to ensure the beer stays suitably warm. Elderly holidaymakers have been warned to turn their hearing aids down, to avoid damage from high concentrations of tourists all talking to each other in English very loudly and slowly.

Authorities however are worried that this new force for evil will attack again and warns big businesses to be wary, in extreme cases, even planning ahead if absolutely necessary, to avoid problems. There are concerns that the HRRA has been actively recruiting complete fuckwits into companies and promoting them through the ranks to positions such as airline CEOs. Worse still, it’s feared that they have been active within the major political parties for many years, and that there may be even more Nigel Farages and Boris Johnsons ready to be unleashed on an unsuspecting Britain at any time.

GCHQ has been able to intercept some of HRRA’s communication, heavily encrypted in doctor’s handwriting, that suggests another attack is imminent, this time targeting queues in canteens with combatants trained to create chaos by pushing in.  They are also investigating the possibility that HRRA has already infiltrated British Rail where it will deliver an ideological blow by stealthily introducing real food to be consumed by unwary members of the public.

The Government (or at least this week’s Government) is calling on the British people to stand firm in the face of the current adversity and to be alert to the possibility that there may be fuckwits living apparently normal lives amongst them. All with know with certainty is that any who booked with a certain airline haven’t fled overseas.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Reasons to Celebrate a Valentine-less Day

You get to the office and there’s not so much as an aphid on your desk, let alone a bunch of roses from a smitten co-worker. By the time you’ve struggled home on the bus, the only intimate encounter you’ve had has been with a violin case, when the kid carrying it grudgingly gets up to offer you their seat as the bags you are carrying under your eyes look so heavy. As you open the front door, the last optimistic brain cell you have winks out of existence as the door slides over the top of the day’s post without getting wedged on the way. Despite the tone of longing in the correspondence, neither the phone bill nor the credit card statement are written in the sort of red ink you had hoped for.

Yep – it’s Valentine’s Day, and the like the majority of single people over the age of 32 your romantic prospects are looking rather poorer than Kim Jong Un’s chances of winning the Liberal Free Thinker of the Year contest.

You could turn around, head down to the pub and let four pints of Wibbly’s Old Peculiar simultaneously lower the romantic bar and your standards or just appreciate that you’re on the pointy end of societal chance.

In 2017, around one third of people in the UK are living on their own. In 2013 this amounted to 7.7 million people and was growing rapidly. This signposts a huge change in our social fabric towards the comfortable fleecy end. What’s more, they aren’t all dating site die-hards with a face only an adventurous plastic surgeon could love or people who are one tin of Whiskas away from being a cat-snack.

The fact is that living on your own – or at least without another grown-up biped – is actually pretty cool.  Here are some reasons why you, as a solo inhabitant of your space should take pity on those romantic fools that embrace the schmaltz of Valentines Day.

Living alone gives you complete freedom to be you – free-spirited and self-indulgent.  Your bad habits are not something that you have to try and curb – you can simply get better at them. Take an existential approach. If you give free rein to flatulence in your lounge and no-one is there to experience it, is it really bad? Only if it causes the paint to peel off the walls, in my book.

This becomes purely optional. Dust bunnies can make surprisingly good pets that thrive on a lack of attention and provide energy-efficient insulation. They make no demands of their owner in terms of exercise and will breed prolifically in the right environment as long as they are not startled by loud noises such as vacuum cleaners.

Eat what you want, when you want. The concept of a balanced diet takes on a whole new meaning when the fridge light reveals a scene from a science fiction movie. An isolated wasteland punctuated by the occasional menacing alien life form blinking in the unaccustomed light. Or your fridge might be so full of superfoods that it has to be restrained from sprinting around your kitchen. The point is, it’s up to you.

In the first flush of a new relationship, it may be quite charming to roll over in the morning and see the object of your affections lying there in peaceful slumber. (Unless the relationship is less than 12 hours old, in which case you might be a bit startled and hard-pushed to remember their name.)

But you know that as time goes on, this charming vision will lose its appeal, like a bag of prawns left on a sunny window ledge. The cute snuffling will turn into a snore that can be measured on the Richter Scale. The alluringly ruffled hair will, day by day, start to look more like an over-used toilet brush. And that’s just the girls.

No compromise
A partner can be a hand brake who stops you attempting things that are ambitious, ill-advised or just illegal, for their own selfish reasons. But for the solo traveller through life, the only limitations are self-imposed (if you don’t count imprisonment or possible death) so once you ram raid your way through those, you’re free to find out what you’re really capable of.

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the upside of being alone. It’s a movement that’s growing in size and we need to give it a voice. Remember, you’re never alone when you’re alone! OK – the slogan may need a little work, but you know what I mean.

Monday, 30 January 2017

The Madness Reaches Australia

An open report to HM Queen Elizabeth on what’s gone down in her farthest flung colonial outpost in the last week.

Dear Ma’am

Australia may be a long way away, but clearly Boris, Nigel and Donald aren’t the only crazy-eyed politicians licking the world’s parliamentary windows.

Australia’s Prime Minister Turnbull and whatshisname, the opposition chap, breathed sighs of relief that their collective doormats never plopped with the sound of an invitation to the inauguration of troll-doll Trump. Somehow though, one got into the hands of this colony’s home-grown barmy political right and was passed around like a ticket to a Justin Bieber concert. They longed to be there to watch the horror unfold, but knew the cool kids in Parliament would beat them up if they did. 

The invitation was initially given to Australia’s own flame-haired harpy of the far right, Pauline Hanson, a woman who has all the charm and appeal of Nigel Farage, but without the eloquence. 

Pauline’s past judgement has been a bit dodgy, at one time leading her to spend some time ‘at your pleasure’ Ma’am, (whilst enjoying very little of her own) in The Big House, until matters got sorted out. But even she deemed this invitation too hot to handle.  It was finally passed on to one of her minions, a man who has made less impact in Australian politics than Peppa Pig. He duly packed his bags for Washington and probably got a whole row of seats to himself on the plane.

Another Australian of note who received an invitation was the Reverend Fred Nile. He’s this country’s version of Mary Whitehouse (Google her or ask Philip) except he’s still alive and ranting. Rev Fred believes homosexuality to be a mental illness, and annually prays for a downpour to douse the gay and lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney. Nevertheless, every year the event basks in typical Aussie dryness, other than amongst those marchers who are especially excited to be participating. 

Anyway, old Rev Fred had struck up an email friendship with troll-doll Trump over some months.  Rev Fred dispensed his seasoned political advice, born of running the Australian Christian Democratic Party, regardless of the fact that, electorally speaking, if it were a racehorse, his party would long ago have been inside a tube of Uhu. Naturally, he received a golden ticket to Trumpapolooza. Imagine Rev Fred’s surprise then, when US Immigration informed him his visa application had been denied, on the grounds that a spittle-flecked octogenarian Christian minister presented a threat to national security! It can only be that the troll-doll didn’t appreciate the advice quite so much after all; and certainly not from someone whose political party name contains the word ‘democrat.’

Ma’am may already be aware that this week also marked Australia Day, a celebration of Captain Cook’s landing at Botany Bay and claiming this big brown country for your forebears’ empire. It’s a day for wild celebration here, which traditionally starts with marinating your internal organs in beer whilst having a beach breakfast in 95-degree heat, and finishes with fireworks and fisticuffs, a good time having been enjoyed by all in the interim. Increasingly though, there is some discomfort at celebrating the day of national pride on the anniversary of the kick-off of genocide against the people who might have been under the impression that they owned the place, having got here first by some thousands of years. 

Just by way of example, I invite your Majesty to consider how miffed her subjects get when the Germans nab all the sunbeds around the hotel pool in Majorca. Imagine then how cross they’d be if Gunter and Helga took to them with bazookas, and ultimately expected them to join in an annual celebration of the fatherland’s victory at Hotel Sol. 

Luckily, we have Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce here, to bring reason to the debate with a few well-chosen words. You remember Barnaby – he was the one who didn’t realise you can never win a PR battle against two cute puppy dogs, especially when you need the squillions of dollars their owner’s movies bring into the country. Whoops Barnaby!

When talking about protesters who want Australia Day marked on a different day, Barnaby said he was tired of people "weeping" about the issue and suggested they should “crawl under a rock.” If only the Indigenous chappies had been given such sage advice in 1788 they might at least have found a decent hiding place and avoided getting shot.

Your obedient servant,
The Stunned Mullet

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Forget 'fairy tale' - aim to make your wedding imperfect

Why do brides say “I just want everything to be perfect”?  Perfection should be the last thing they want. Possibly apart from a yeast infection on their honeymoon.

To achieve perfection, you would invite no-one to your wedding, because people will stuff up ‘perfect’ every time. This doesn’t apply just to the weird cousin you’ve got to invite who thinks that wearing odd socks makes him look interesting and diverts attention from his poor personal hygiene. Every one of your guests, your bridal party, your family and even your partner are human with a whole range of flaws that are absolutely incompatible with perfect. You’ve got kids coming too? Kids – especially your own - are professional perfection-wreckers. It’s in their kiddie DNA.

Wedding speeches, family politics, bad hats. Need I say more? All utterly imperfect.

Let’s take a reality check. Disney princesses have fairy-tale weddings. You, I suspect are not the product of multi-billion-dollar animation empire, but a real live person who has some good things going for them and a few traits that both your parents are convinced came from the other side of the family. Try this quick quiz:
  •  Do woodland animals flock to hear you sing and lend a helping hoof/paw with the hoovering?
  • Is your father a mythical Greek sea God and your best friend a lobster with a Jamaican accent? Even when you’re sober?
  • Do you have to wear gloves to prevent you from icing everyone you shake hands with?
  • Do either your mother or father appear on the postage stamps where you live?
If you were unable to answer yes to any of the above, then take it from me, you are not a princess of the Disney or any other variety. Tilting at a perfect fairy-tale wedding will therefore lead only to crushing disappointment, and that’s before twenty years of marriage to someone whose ‘handsome prince’ status is already questionable, even with youth on his side. Once the evil elves of middle age have bequeathed him a beer gut and ear hair he’ll be less Hercules and more Shrek anyway.

Neither am I suggesting you have a cheap wedding. If you want all the trimmings and you’ve been careless enough to amass a lot of friends you want to show off to, then buckle up honey, it’s going to cost more money than a fairy-tale dragon can get his scaly little T-Rex arms around. Sure, you can hire a few hay bales and rent a paddock somewhere for a big picnic with home brewed Brussels sprout beer, wear a dress you’ve knitted out of tofu and arrive in a Kombi van that still smells of backpacker farts, but do you really want to be remembered for your hipster wedding?

Embrace imperfection, which will happen anyway, regardless of how much you stress about it, and your day will be so much more memorable and fun. I’m not advocating that it should be encouraged to fall into complete chaos or that anyone gets injured, but make wriggle room for the day to be warm and human. Some of the most fun and memorable weddings I’ve attended have seen the Best Man leap over flowerbeds to retrieve the rings from his bag mid-ceremony, a groom dip his bride for the kiss, trip and both fall into a well-cushioned heap and a toddler flower girl stuff rose petals into the bride’s cleavage. All simply little quirks which made the day enjoyable.

Once your guests see or hear something to make them smile, they’ll relax, talk to one another and stop trying to chew their own legs off to escape another dull and dreary wedding. They may even drink less of the booze you’re paying for too. Or not, but that’s people for you – human and imperfect.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, anything.....

Australia is in the middle of a new resources boom; only it's a rather sticky resource that we don't know what to do with.
We appear to have accidentally stockpiled way too many former Prime Ministers.

While we used to get through them at a normal rate of one every few years, those that have come off the shelf recently just seem to have worn out - or perhaps more accurately, worn thin - much more rapidly.
Europe has had its wine lakes and butter mountains. Unfortunately, Amnesty International would probably get all whiney if Australia started storing its past political leaders within geographical features, even though we've got an awful lot of desert that's not currently being used, even for nuclear testing.

We've learned from bitter experience though, that ex-PMs have a half-life greater than plutonium with much more serious toxic effects, capable of inflicting collateral damage on a Government from a distance of well over 20 years. The concern is that if they're all left roaming around in Canberra there will be fallout on a scale that makes Chernobyl look like a dental x-ray.
In these days of environmental responsibility, it seems like a wicked waste not to find some way of recycling them, especially as most of the recent ones were hardly used.  Australia tried powering up the Rudd unit a second time but it didn't work for long as someone had stuck a screwdriver in its rear casing. At least we don't need to worry about a retinue of loyal supporters that would take up even more space!

In the US, former leaders get sent off on the speaking circuit, but the oratorical skills of our own recent batch weren’t that flash. One had all the easy-listening appeal of a cat descending a blackboard, another could patronise an unsuspecting audience into a coma, while the last would just shut down and play possum if it sensed danger. If the current leader of the Opposition joins their ranks, inflicting after-dinner speeches on innocent people will be declared a breach of human rights.
It would be great if we could use Canberra's cast-offs to promote Australian industry and culture but finding the right causes is problematic. The wine industry has backed right away, understandably concerned to distance itself from sour grapes, while discussions with the organic fertiliser industry are looking promising. Export would be the favoured solution, but there is a world glut of disenfranchised Australians. Ecuador wouldn't even return our calls. 

Luckily, Mattel has shown an interest in doing something with the Abbott as it'll give them a way of using up all the Lycra left over from 1980's Barbie. Then we'll just need to find a use for the 1950's policies.  The entertainment industry is the only one that's reluctant to see such a rich vein of comedic material leave, but as long as we leave them Clive Palmer and Christopher Pine they'll settle down.
There are fears however, that it may be the wrong time to launch our local talent on the world stage.  Even Australia's formidable force of farcical former leaders would struggle to compete with such natural comedy gold as Donald Trump and a population likely to be dumb enough to elect him.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Fear of not-quite-flying

“Good morning. I'd like to thank you for choosing to fly with Ascheapaschips Air, the new sub-budget Australian airline. Please pay attention to the safety announcement. Unlike certain national carriers we don’t spend money recruiting ‘resting’ actors and celebrities to make amusing parodies, just to win kudos on YouTube. In fact, we care as little for your safety as we do your dignity, but the Civil Aviation Authority makes us do this, so listen up and let’s get it over with.
Your captain today is Mr Bobo, who is with us as part of an exchange program with the Primate Department at Taronga Zoo, to which we provide uneaten airline meals for the monkeys to fling at the tourists. Apparently, intelligent apes are unable to distinguish between this and their usual readily available projectile matter, but airline food has been deemed safer for both the flinger and the flingee, as long as the monkeys don't eat it.
Mr Bobo has undergone a full day of intensive training in the flight simulator, where he graduated dux of his class, largely because he chewed off fewer knobs than his peers.
However, please don't be alarmed if you hear terrified screeching from the cockpit. Mr Bobo's pretty cool with flying, but the Flight Engineer is only human.
You will have noted, on being herded aboard, that we have embraced new technology to eradicate the need to print boarding passes and merely swiped your credit card instead. Luckily, your credit card is included in your free cabin baggage allowance, along with a small tissue with which you may care to mop your brow in the event of an in-flight emergency. Should this fairly unlikely event occur, you can access the lifejacket stowed under your seat. Your credit card will automatically be debited with a sum that will be determined by the rate of descent of the aircraft and the likelihood that Ascheapaschips Air will be required to pay damages once the wreckage has been recovered.
Cabin crew will now indicate the location of the emergency exits, fitted with token- operated turnstiles to facilitate the smooth exit of those passengers who opted for the Survivor Fare upgrade.
Should the plane ditch in the sea, we advise you to wave frantically to any passing plane as soon as you have placed the lifejacket over your head, as the cardboard from which it's constructed isn't suitable for immersion in water. The lifejacket is also equipped with a whistle, as a nice little tune may help distract you from your imminent demise.
Planes in the Ascheapaschips fleet are subjected to rigorous pre-flight testing on the first Thursday of most months, as long as our maintenance facility in Bangladesh isn't under water at the time. Kind of ironic really, given the contribution we're making to global warming.
Thank you for flying Ascheapaschips Air. We hope that you enjoy your flight today, and, in the absence of a long hard look at your standards, book your next journey with us.”

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Making a song and dance about Eurovision

Australia was both excited and confused this week having unexpectedly found itself dining at the cool kids table - the Eurovision Song Contest. Sure – the Aussies could get their heads around the idea of competition, but were completely flummoxed by the absence of a ball. Cynics of course suggested that the work experience kid in the Eurovision office had just put the invite intended for Austria in the wrong bag. That sort of error might be expected of Americans, who tend to classify anywhere foreign as either 'dangerous' or 'Canada' and regard it all with deep suspicion. England, on the other hand, is pretty good at knowing its countries, having been something of a collector in years gone by.

 I strongly suspect therefore, that Australia's 'wild card 'invitation to participate in Eurovision was Pommie-inspired. A return joke for the one Prime Minister Tony Abbott played on England when he offered the Duke of Edinburgh a demotion to being a mere knight.  It's the sort of mutual pranking that seems really funny at a particular point in the evening, but is inevitably going to end up with someone waking up and wondering where all the traffic cones came from.

There were fears that our initiation rites into Eurovision would involve becoming part of the single currency and handing over our lunch money, dinner money and the contents of our national bank to Greece, the equivalent of having the Euro-gang flush our Aussie heads down the financial toilet. Luckily the threat of a retaliatory repatriation of Leo Sayer brought a rapid back-down.
England clearly felt safe from any sort of musical competition from Australia as Kylie wouldn't lower herself to those sorts of shenanigans and Rolf's diary was a bit full for the next six years, which pretty much left just Peter Andre. This is much like realising that you've only got Francesco Schettino available to cox your rowing eight. However, England didn't bargain on Australia's famed resourcefulness, finding as we did  someone who had won a singing competition only a dozen years before and who wasn't doing anything in May.

Guy Sebastian was an obvious choice, with the dual qualities of having a voice that didn't make your ears bleed and a crazy afro hair-do, which is pretty much as wild and gender-bending as Australian entertainers get. At least those that want to eat regularly and not get a good kicking when they tour regional towns.  The 'Go Guy' campaign hit a hurdle though, with the discovery that the man known and loved across this wide brown land as ‘The 'Fro’, had had a haircut and looked worryingly normal. Unfortunately, singer Redfoo had come up trumps in the ballot to wear the nation's token mad hair style, and clearly we weren't desperate enough to ask him to represent us. Guy was duly despatched with a ''good luck mate'' and an emergency bag of sequins in his back pocket.
Of course, now we were playing with the big kids, Australia had to familiarise itself with the delicate Eurovision politics if it wasn't to end up with 'nul points' and turn instantly into Norway. In a set-up that relies on more mutual back-scratching with close friends than a humid night in a psoriasis clinic, Australia was feeling a bit lonely without even its tormented kid brother, New Zealand there. It had been very carefully explained too, that any ‘sledging’ or boisterous badinage with competitors about the sexual proclivities of their family members vis a vis close relatives or domestic animals would not only be frowned upon but likely result in armed warfare. As would suggesting that the leaders of any Eastern European countries looked ‘a bit gay.’

Tough though the competition was, Australia would not adopt any dodgy palm-greasing tactics- it wasn't after all, the Football World Cup. Any brown bags in Guy Sebastian's vicinity contained only vegemite sandwiches and it was a safe bet that no non-Australian was going to touch those.

With no gimmicks or political alliances, Australia was going to have to fall back on its vocal talents alone, historically, a pretty insubstantial safety net at Eurovision. That said, in achieving fifth place, Guy Sebastian scrubbed up pretty well. There have been some lessons learned and next year’s contestant will no doubt apply for funding to upgrade the bag of sequins to magic glitter and develop a killer six pack, as this can only be what got that funny little Swedish song over the line.


© Wendy Wardell