Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Taut flesh pots

It is ever so fashionable to belong to the Next Generation gym. You pay an arm and a leg to tone an arm and a leg. Toney toning. I know a lot of people who pay the ransom of membership - most of them assuming that belonging is enough. They barely ever go. It is fitness by association.
When my mate, Annie, suggested that, instead of a Sunday walk on the beach, we go to this gym for a swim, my curiosity got the best of me. Why not have a look at the place. Annie has a Platinum membership which comes complete with guest passes - so out with the old swim togs and off we went, into the exclusive underground carpark and up into fitness deluxe world. They wanted a lot of information just to let me have a swim, so I filled in forms dutifully - and off we went to the inner sanctum of Platinum, where only those who pay most may go. Well, for that price, they get three fake venetian glass mosaic recliners with central heating - plus two spas, a steam room, a sauna and an ice room. Wow - not. But it was swim I sought, so off we trotted to another section - indoor and outdoor pools. Outdoor was a bit cold, so we retreated to the warm pool where lines were allocated for different speeds of lap swimming. The water is shallow. No treading water, which is a favored exercise of mine. Oh well. We swam some laps in the quietest lane. I hate splashing, so I was not pleased to find some idiot lapping in butterfly strokes beside me. In a shared pool, butterfly strikes me as plain bad manners. But, hey, I'm not a member, who am I to complain? So I just observed with amusement the sleazy middle-aged men sitting about in the spa to perv on the women around the pool. And the odd sense of superiority people assume when at the gym. Mostly they are alone and looking as if the are terribly important. The one thing one does not see is enjoyment. Instead, it is a mask of exclusivity - and I suppose a sense of narcissitic purpose.
We finished off with a coffee in the big lounge area, which was fairly pleasant, looking onto the indoor pool. And, as we handed back the plastic passes which take one through the sections, I told the receptionist that I was sorry I could never join a gym which did not have a smoking room.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Flatulent politics

How does anyone take these politicians seriously. Prime Minister John Howard has just promised the earth in exchange for his re-election. He promises everything to everyone. Ironically, it is a litany of the things he should have done in his term of office. Now he says he will fund them. Disgraceful, unbearable hypocrisy. And yet the faithful are wide-eyed and impressed.

Friday, September 24, 2004

The rewriter of history

The dreaded Janine Bourke has struck again - another book on Heide, the cultural enclave in which I was conceived. Another tome, this one with yet more editorial arrogance than ever. A woman who writes so-called biography but has never sought to speak to the one person still living who was a part of the culture she reports. Apparently she knows it all without extending her research. Especially as she has a fierce aversion to any history which may reach across the border. Ironic really since this last survivor, my mother, retains the spirit of Bourke's subject, Sunday Reed - for my mother was, in many ways, moulded by this woman. And thus is my impression of this so-called biographer something akin to disdain. Some quasi-academic carving herself a reputation out of the lives of others. And each time, doing it shabbily. She has not even a shadow of the brilliance of her subjects. Poor mediocre parasite.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Fox fixations

I turned on the telly when I woke this morning to see how badly the massive hurricane Ivan had ravaged the Southern States. I saw a bit last night, which was just dawn in the US. Now at 6 in the evening there, I expect to see the full story. Instead I see what I have seen for days and days and days - yet ANOTHER panel of right-wingers obsessing over CBS's forged or not forged documents on Bush's national service. They were on about it when I went to sleep. They were on about it the day before and the day before. How much can they gnaw at this bone? They have a national disaster - an unprecedented string of devastating hurricanes - and they are nit-picking for hour upon hour of air time about a well-known issue, attempting to deny Bush's privilege in the armed forces 30 plus years ago. It is so tedious. Surely their fan-base also must be feeling a certain degree of ennui by now - or are they all so blinkered that the reiterative analysis of this issue truly engrosses them? Fair, balanced and uninteresting, I'd say. And for those of us seeking some real news from across the globe, they are short-change.
Back to Google News for some real information.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The politics of acrimony

Which of the two elections is the worse, Australia's or America's? Apart from the fact that I simply can't comprehend the rise and rise of the mean-minded right, I am finding the game-playing increasingly repulsive. One is beset by biased media thrusting aggressively for the right. There is something in this disease of political aggression which reflects a degeneracy in society, a moral and ethical decline. It reminds me of the way in which the Internet was immediately kidnapped by the pornographers and sexual predators, the spoilers. They rule and ruin. Just as the greedy and corrupt have harnessed politics. Whichever way one turns, one has to sidestep ugliness.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Right to the left

How the media plays it down. But the truth is that the debate between Prime Minister and his opponent for the Federal election was something of a watershed. In my week "embedded" in the community to ascertain the public's feelings about the election, I discovered what I believe is an unprecedented number of "swinging" voters who felt alienated by the incumbent Prime Minister but uncertain about his opponent. Mark Latham, the Labor leader, has been poorly presented by a purposely unsupportive media. The result is as the media intended - a public feeling of suspicion about this mystery man, this "inexperienced" man. I could relate to this. He has struck me as a fairly unappealing man and a poor choice. Then came the debate and Latham at last was able to represent himself unedited. And he was impressive - a rational, intelligent, articulate, calm and confident man who could think on his feet. He ran rings around the PM. He won me - and I do believe he won a mass of those swinging voters.
Of course, the race is far from run. It promises to be dirty. Politics isn't pretty. It is no place for the good.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

A sucker's born every minute

Well, the old sucker thing takes on a new slant when one has a couple of teeth extracted. With stitches in the gum and a sense of extreme tenderness, I'm strictly on the sucky food. And when the dentist, ringing next day to check how I was coping after the particularly arduous and extended surgical nasties, told me that she'd had two more extraction patients that day and one of them had made mine look like a picnic, I thought of the poor sods, like me, looking for sucky food and feeling oh so wounded and traumatised - and realised that, yes, it's true. If not born, a sucker is made every minute.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Back to school

I had not set foot in the junior campus of my old school since I left - so there was much I did not recognise when I found myself there today to review some in-schools theatre - chore I perform periodically to keep abreast of the theatre-in-education programs. Where we used to walk on our hands, skip and play poison ball - the big lawn and paved areas - were no longer there. Nor was the headmistress's house. Or the corrugated iron bike shed where we used to swap scraps, eat lunch and play name games (I remember it was a big fad to list as many car names as possible). Instead, there was a massive round hall with a row of excessively decorated and jolly classrooms - a far cry from the formal rows of desks with inkwells of my time. The uniform remains the same - and the girls much the same, I suppose. Some of them seemed so tiny. But I was just four when I started there and 17 when I left for Uni. As I left the grounds, I finally recognised a building. The kindergarten building was still there. My very first classroom. A little stone building with a slate patio and a sunken lawn. We performed the Nativity Play on that patio and the parents sat on chairs on the lawn. I was a shepherd - and disappointed at such a non-role, I recall.
But most of all what the sight of that little building did was to bring surging up from somewhere deep within me a huge, primal rage. For, as I looked at the exterior, a kaleidescope of vivid memories of my experiences therein came pouring back, among them the day thar Miss Dawe, the kindie mistress, made me sit behind the piano for an entire afternoon as a punishment for not eating my lunch. I had explained to her that my tomato sandwich had gone soggy and disgusting in the lunchbox and I did not like it. It was repulsive. She insisted that I eat it. I refused. I was put behind the piano with the sandwich and told I could not join the activities until I had eaten it. So I spent the afternoon behind the piano, my falling tears adding to the soggy mess of a sandwich, as the other children played class games, had their nap, and played more. It was a baffling and mindless piece of teacher cruelty. I did not eat another tomato sandwich for many years - even now, I prefer tomato on toast. And, as I looked at the classroom today, I wanted to resurrect that horrid Miss Dawe and give her a lovely, fresh knuckle sandwich.