Pinky's Book Link

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Pinky Goes Potty


“I think I’m going to run a market stall at the annual Artisan Fayre,” I said to Scotto a couple of weeks ago.

He scratched his scalp and frowned. “What will you be artisanning?” he asked.

“Dunno,” I squinted into the distance and my small brain quivered as it concocted a plan. “Don’t worry, I’m not thinking of selling all the paintings I’ve done of you and the dogs. I strongly suspect they have no ‘market appeal’.”

He nodded and smiled wistfully.

“I could make miniature fairy gardens in flowerpots!” I squealed. “I could plant succulents. Even I can keep succulents alive.”

But then I pictured the fairy garden I’d made for myself and realised that no self-respecting fairy would be seen dead in it. Even Polly the sausage dog was so disappointed in it, she’d stolen the miniature wishing well figurine, chewed it to pieces and hidden it in her hidey-hole in the garden.

“Think Scotto, think! What can I make?”

Scotto had a bit of a coughing fit and hobbled outside spluttering that he had to work on the deck.

Scotto’s been ‘working on the deck’ for four years now. I’m sure he’s replaced all the wooden boards at least three times. Occasionally, I have a niggling hunch that the deck is an excuse to get outside in the fresh air and away from the inside of the house.

I still had no idea what I was going to make for the market when I filled out the application form. Even when I wrote my ‘artist’s statement’, I dithered. 

I finally wrote about how I was an artist who ‘adored representing the animal kingdom on terracotta pots and other mediums by utilising acrylic paints.”

There was a slight hiccup when I discovered I was expected to write; 1. A Covid safe plan and 2. organise third-party insurance.

As you know, I detest bureaucracy and paperwork. It was touch and go, but in the end I did it. I didn’t even make Scotto help me. I can’t explain how I did it because it makes me nauseous to talk about it, but the job was done.

When I received an email from the Artisan Fayre accepting my application, I ran around the house whooping, ‘I’m an artisan! I’m an artisan!’. It was truly thrilling.

Once I’d got my breath back, I sat down and calculated how many pots I would take to the fayre. I reckoned about fifty would be a good number. Plenty of consumer choice with fifty painted pots.

Then it hit me.

I had no pots. I’d never painted a pot. I had no idea what I was doing.

Was I going mad? Was this a late effect of menopause? What had I done?

Anyway, after three weekends of dragging Scotto to Bunnings for terracotta pots, and three weeks of getting up at 4:30am every day before school, I’m on target for my fifty pots. (I’ve had two visual migraines in a week.)

Some of them are a bit dodgy, but I’m pretty chuffed with most of them.

The moral of the story is, ‘A watched pot never paints itself.’

Here are some of them.


Sunday, August 30, 2020

What are you fixated on lately?

First thing every Monday morning, to get rid of the ‘wriggles’, I ask the kids in my year three class to tell everyone about their weekend in one phrase. 

Usually the words they blurt out are, ‘sleep over’, ‘Minecraft’, or ‘dirt bike riding’. 

Occasionally, someone with the bright light of scholarly promise will say something highly inappropriate, like ‘reading books’, ‘listening to classical music’ or ‘painting portraits’ and this will elicit groans and eye rolls from the peanut gallery.

Usually that someone is me.

Two years ago, my weekend phrase might have been, ‘long boozy lunch’, ‘karaoke’ or devastating hangover’, but since giving up drinking alcohol, the quality of my recreational activities has evolved into more sublime, highbrow pursuits.

“Would you like me to show you some of my paintings?” I ask my captive audience every Monday morning as I reach for the projection screen remote control.

Only a couple of the boys surreptitiously exchange cagey glances and grumble under their breath. The rest of the class use their reasoning skills and applaud the opportunity to delay the weekly spelling test for a few precious minutes.

One hundred per cent of the girls and ninety-three percent of the boys adore my paintings. 

I feel the seven per cent of boys who scowl and boo when my pet portraits light up the big screen are objecting more to the subject material. It’s against the code of behaviour for a cool, eight-year-old boy to like a picture of a cutesy chihuahua. If I painted a hideous monster with green blood spurting out of its eyes and laser guns, I’d get the thumbs up for sure.

“You should put your paintings in a museum, Mrs Poinker,” says one little girl.

“You mean an art gallery,” I reply, chuckling in modesty.

She looks confused. “No, a museum.”

If you’ve been wondering why there have been no posts from Pinky lately, this is the reason. I’m obsessed with painting.

It started with me painting ladybird rocks.

Then it progressed to painting real things on rocks. 

After collecting a lot of rocks from various shopping centre car parks on the Gold Coast, I decided to ditch rocks and try canvases which have less bumps instead. 

That was five weeks ago.

Now, I can’t stop painting.

While this passionate fixation is a blessing for those of you who only read Pinky Poinker because you are related to me by blood or are a friend who I know too much about, it’s been a curse for my Facebook friends and Instagram followers.

And I’m starting to wonder if I should just give up the writing altogether. 

I'm also starting to wonder where I'm going to put all these paintings.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

How to Relax on the Weekend

Original by Pinky!

Four legs good, two legs bad. 

I ponder Orwell’s chant as I begin my weekend wind-down from a hectic week.

A warm, convivial sun prickles my arms, and sighing with joy at the quietude, mandatory coffee in hand, I gratefully pick up my dog-eared copy of Animal Farm.

I hear my chihuahua down the side garden barking at the neighbour’s labrador for the tenth time this morning. It is blind, the labrador, and must wonder what it did to deserve the bitter diatribe spewing from the chihuahua’s foaming snout. My dachshund and fox terrier join the fracas, one deep, throaty bark alongside the tenor tones of the smaller dogs. They harmonise like an enraged boy band. Should I get up and yell at them or will they just think I am adding impetus to the acapella trio? I am saved the trouble by my neighbour, who stomps out, wild-eyed and manic, and threatens the innocent labrador with a rolled-up newspaper.

The three recalcitrant amigos hurtle back to me, ears back and tongues lolling. The dachshund alights on my lap with the grace of a baby hippopotamus. Animal Farm slides to the floor, newspaper broadsheets scatter and my coffee slurps over the rim of my mug, the mug bearing the slogan, Relax, Replenish, Revive.

From my patio couch, I spy one of my chickens pecking at the Lobelia seedlings I planted last weekend and then I remember why we stopped growing flowers in the chook yard. Pity. I’d been looking forward to their blue petals contrasted against the greenery. Gathering my weary body, I limp down to chase them way from the planter boxes, wincing against prickles and sharp stones under my bare feet.

My idle, non-laying chickens are on thin ice. Only one of them manages to produce the odd egg, which is usually snaffled up in the dachshund’s velveted jaws, carried delicately into the house, smashed on my kitchen tiles and promptly licked up, leaving only shards of shell and a few yolky streaks behind. She has a very glossy coat, my dachshund. I stroke her now, breathing in the spicy scent of the curry plants she has been rolling in. A curried sausage… that is what I tell her she is.

With its tail pointing stiffly skywards, the cat meanders through the cane legs of the patio chairs, eyeing the chihuahua with cold, blunt defiance. Old enemies since the spirited and bloody Battle of the Doona, the chihuahua’s whiskers tremble ominously. It is at once apparent that all animals are not equal in this house. A sudden flurry of scrabbling claws, vociferous snarling and a sense of urgency ensues, resulting in finding myself with a mouthful of dog hair, a palpitating heart and coffee splattered over my lap.

Retiring my hopes of a peaceful, agrarian morning in the natural surroundings of my backyard, I withdraw inside, choking on dander and bitterly questioning whether I might have had more peace and tranquillity in my classroom surrounded by a cacophony of eight year olds.

Sometimes four legs not so good.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Ode to a Sick Eagle Turning Sixty

Like a sick Eagle looking at the sky. Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

 Keats wrote that. 

I know that fact as I have been reading a lot of classic literature lately because, just like that sick eagle staring at the sky, I too am imagining all the things I failed to do in my life that I could have done except I was too busy being shallow and low brow.

In three short months (or normal months really), I turn sixty, and if I rated myself on all of the high-brow things I’ve completed in my life thus far from one to ten, I’d get a minus seventeen bajillion.

Will two weeks of school holidays be long enough to turn myself into the type of person who can pick up a guitar and play like Jose Feliciano, quote the Romantic poets, drop my knowledge of the Great Masters into a conversation and open a world famous gallery of my own hand-painted rock collection? 

One can only try.

I am teaching myself to play the guitar and my aim is to master the chords to The Gambler by next Christmas. I realise The Gambler is not traditionally a Christmas song. It is however, of religious significance in our family… looking at you, Uncle Pedro… along with other classics such as, Seven Spanish Angels, Folsom Prison Blues and Ring of Fire.

One thing, however, has put a dampener on my musical excitement... Scotto.

He’s bought a violin online.

As I’m currently at home on school holidays, I get to greet the postman every day and today the severely stressed out postie delivered a violin. Either that or Scotto is secretly a gangster and the box contains a machine gun. 

I'm furious.

Years ago, whilst sitting in an Irish pub sculling wine, I casually mentioned I wanted to learn the tin whistle and what do you think arrived in the mail for Scotto within a week?

 A tin whistle. 

He didn’t tell me at the time but he had it for ages and was planning on learning to play it on the sly and then SHOW OFF by randomly picking it up and playing it like a long lost brother of the Corrs or something.

Well, he never practised it once.

Neither of us even so much as brushed our lips against its metallic piping actually and it’s currently ensconced in my underwear drawer probably whistling songs of the Emerald Isle to itself amongst my knickers.

The reason I’m so upset about the violin is that I know Scotto will NEVER practise and if I see HIM not practising, I might stop practising the guitar, and that will be disappointing as I’ve been very keen up until now.

Not only that, I think Scotto’s trying to one-up me again. Violins are much classier than guitars and much easier to stash away in an underwear drawer when you get sick of them too.

As mentioned above, I’ve also begun rock painting. These are my first creations. 

You know about Van Gogh’s Blue Period? Well this is my Lady Bug period.

Later this week will be my Hedgehog Period.

Scotto displayed great interest in my artwork and has already pinched one as a decoration for his office. 

Next thing you know the postie will be trudging up the driveway with giant canvasses and oil paints that Scotto has ordered online just to be one step ahead of me. 

He says I'm his inspiration. 


Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Sex Talk

A bitter, ominous wind whistled through the port racks as my class of eight-year-olds huddled on the carpet inside the classroom. 

There’s no such thing as social distancing when you’re eight and you can’t walk past another eight-year-old without squeezing them in a head lock or inflicting a Chinese burn.

I wasn’t huddling with them. I was perched on a small chair beside a whiteboard where I’d scrawled the word SACRED in bright crimson marker. 

“Look at this word,” I instructed the raggedy gang. “This word here is a very, very, EXTREMELY, very important word.”

I took a deep breath. I was about to give a lesson on sex.

Having just limped in from an arduous playground duty when a Year One girl had jammed her knee between the top rungs of the monkey bars and screamed like a banshee nonstop until I'd clumsily rescued her, I had been looking forward to a bit of a sit down.

Unfortunately, a group of my girls had barrelled up to me outside the classroom with extreme indignation (along with Nutella and jam donut) smeared all over their faces before I could get in the door. 

“Mrs Poinker! Mrs Poinker! Alphonzo said he was my boyfriend and he loves me and he kept on trying to sit with me at lunch,” squealed the first girl, her eyes sparkling with a Gloria Allred level of outrage.

“He said the same thing to me too!” said another. “He says we’re all his girlfriends and he loves us all.”

The girls shrieked en masse, then shuddered in passionate disgust.

The ME TOO scandal sprang to mind.

I couldn’t ignore this. It wasn’t as if Alphonzo was an up and coming Harvey Weinstein or anything, but even so, when a girl says, no, you can’t sit beside her with your stinky lunchbox and squashed banana*, well, no means no.

So here we were. Me delivering a sex talk to the class of eight-year-olds and wishing I was at home binge watching Escape to the Country and doing my calming crosswords. 

“See this word,” I gestured to the whiteboard where I’d emblazoned the word, SACRED across its shiny surface.

Forty-eight saucer-like eyes stared at me, frowned at the board, then turned their bulging eyes back to me. I had the floor, I had to make this good. 

“This is how we must see ourselves,” I smiled in my grandmotherly/Mother Teresa manner. “This is how we must see our bodies. This word here, (I rapped a metal ruler sharply on the word) says everything about us as human beings. This is what all of us are.”

I tried not to make eye contact with Alphonzo as I waffled on throughout my long-winded, raving monologue. 

Poor Alphonzo hadn’t really done anything wrong and I was wary not to single him out because I am a discriminating educator and because his mother might come in and get up me.

“It’s fine for girls and boys to be friends and nobody should get teased for that,” I blathered. “But you are too young to have girlfriends and boyfriends. There’s plenty of time for that when you’re teenagers.”

The high school teachers can deal with all that shite, I thought. They think they’re better than us with their trigonometry, Bunsen burners and clean clothes, so let them do the hard yards with the awkward delicacies of gender issues. 

I took a deep shuddering breath before delivering my big sex talk finale. It goes without saying I mentally patted myself on the back for my undeniably insightful, worldly-wise, diplomatic teaching style. 

I should start a podcast on how to talk to primary school children about sex, I thought. I'm a bloody expert.
“I hope, from now on, (weeny peek at Alphonzo) we are all going to respect each other and remember this word.” I tapped the whiteboard with the ruler. 

“So… altogether now, Our bodies are...?” I demanded a response, grinning wildly in encouragement.

There was a second’s pause, nervous glances were exchanged and someone sniffed.

“Our bodies are SCARED!” twenty-five voices chorused triumphantly.

K. Maybe no podcast. Maybe teach them to read.

*not a euphemism.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Teaching in the Time of Covid.

Week 3 of online/in class teaching is over and boy, have I learned some new stuff. Technology, never my strongest point, has taken centre stage in my planning. It has been revolutionary on a personal level as well. Just before the lockdown, I bought a Fitbit. Normally, I hate everything I buy but I am in love with my Fitbit.

Every morning, Scotto asks me how I slept. “Hang on!” I say as I reach over and check my Fitbit sleep results.

“Fair,” I answer. Or sometimes, “Poor, but thanks for asking,”.

Before purchasing my Fitbit, I thought I slept exceptionally well but now I often discover that most of the time I’ve only had a ‘Fair’ quality of sleep. Knowing this fact can completely ruin my day. How can I have any energy if I didn’t sleep well, even if I felt like I did?

I also discovered that sometimes my oxygen levels drop down dangerously low in the middle of the night, usually about 2am according to FB. If I die in my sleep it will be about 2am, I suppose. 

Scotto will wake up to a stiff body lying beside him because rigor mortis sets in about 3 to 4 hours after death.

Apparently, it takes 12 to 24 hours for rigor mortis to occur in a chicken. This is a worry because you never know if a chicken is just playing dead or not and you can easily put them in the wheelie bin prematurely (a friend told me that).
Now, I’m addicted to checking how I slept and whether or not I nearly died the previous night.

Every hour, my Fitbit ever so politely reminds me to get up off my bum. When I manage to walk 10 000 steps in a day it sends a buzzing vibration through my arm. Sparkling banners parade across the screen and I get a little dopamine rush. Being an attention seeking person, this display of appreciation gives me the people-pleasing acknowledgement I so crave.

Maintaining non-stop walking throughout the day has changed my teaching style. 

Instead of sitting at my desk doing work while the students are completing tasks, I goosestep around the classroom like a Gestapo officer, peering over their slight shoulders, pointing out spelling errors (in a German accent of course), shushing the chatters and obsessively checking my Fitbit for step counts.

On playground duty, I circle the swings repetitively as I eat my apple.

Phineas sauntered up to me on Friday as I passed by the monkey bars.

“Can I join you on your walk, Mrs Poinker?” he asked politely.

“Certainly, Phineas,” I replied, feeling slightly uneasy that he might be about to tell me off for something.

That morning, Phineas had scolded me for licking my fingertip whilst handing out a sheaf of A4 papers. He’s like the Corona Virus policeman in our classroom. Maybe he was about to blast me for eating with my mouth open.

Phineas is the reason I bought my Fitbit in the first place. He was boasting about his own one day and I developed Fitbit Envy. I know he’s only eight, but I’m very competitive. And even though he’s only eight, I find myself discussing issues with Phineas as if he’s an adult. You know, he told me once that he can see atoms. How cool is that?

“Are you trying to get your steps up Mrs Poinker,” he asked, raising his furry eyebrow at me and nodding shrewdly at my wrist.

“No!” I choked on a bit of apple. “I’m making sure all the children are playing safely of course.”

“So, what did you do on the holidays?” I asked him, trying to change the subject even though the holidays were three weeks ago and were now just a faded memory of my halcyon days in isolation far away from children.

He shrugged and sighed in disgust. “I practised my piano.” He kicked a stick in the dirt to emphasise his hatred for the repulsive instrument.

“That’s nice,” I said.

“Mum nags me all the time but I can already play all my EFFIN C’s,” he added with another violent kick in the dust.

I blinked. He didn’t actually swear but it was still highly inappropriate no matter how much he hated practising the piano.

“Phineas!” I said. “That’s terrible!”

“Why?” his eyes went wide. “I can play the Bs too.”

It clicked. He could play all his Fs and Cs. Thank God. I thought he’d gone all Gordon Ramsay on me.

“Look,” he said holding up his finger. “It’s a mood ring.”

“Wow,” I replied gushingly. “Now I can look at your mood ring and tell if you’re happy or sad.”

Phineas stopped mid step and stared at me with his pitying soulful eyes. “Or you could just look at my face,” he said. “It’s just for fun, Mrs Poinker. It’s not real.”
“Hmmm,” I agreed, feeling ever so slightly that he was talking down to me. “Where’s your Fitbit?” I asked, suddenly noticing his bare wrist.

“Gave it to my brother,” he said. “Don’t need it. I know how far I walk.” He gave me that look again. The ‘do I really have to explain’ look.

Yes, I thought. You might be eight my young man and think you know everything, BUT… you don’t. 

Giving away your Fitbit was a wanton act of carelessness. 

You might know how far you walk, Mr Phineas, but how are you now going to know how well you slept?

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Isolation Internet

I’ve previously written about how I discovered I was dumb.

I’d donated my raw genetic data to a website, they analysed it and provided me with information regarding my genetic traits.

Last time I looked at it, I was devastated to learn that my cognitive ability was at an AVERAGE standard.

Click here to read the post if you can be bothered

This fact hobbled my self-esteem for a while, until I realised I could use the enlightening information to my advantage. After all, why should I try so hard now that I knew I was born to be an average, run of the mill, non-achiever?

However, I went on to forget the password to the site and I was unable to log in to the site for months. This morning, bored out of my brain in isolation lock down, it finally dawned on me that by merely changing my password, I could once again investigate their highly exacting research on subjects such as whether I’m...

* prone to developing an addiction to chewing my hair
* am likely to grow plantar warts on my chin
* or inclined to fritter away my time on inane, brain-numbing activities on the Internet.

Imagine my horror to read that the latest updates on the site reveal I possess LOW intelligence. 

Oh no. 

I must admit they were very prudent when imparting the distressing information. They tried to take the gentle approach.

The categories were as follows;

High intelligence.

Intermediate intelligence.

Not so high intelligence.

Notice the way they avoided using the words ‘low intelligence’ as a compensating gesture of kindness to the cretins amongst us. I know very well that ‘not so high’ means low.

I might be as dumb as a bag of parsnips, but I’m not stupid.

My father popped over during our Covid 19, self-isolation a few weeks ago, and, speaking sternly through the fly screen of our front window, had a bit of a go at me for swearing on my blog.

He said, ‘As a teacher and a role model to young children, you should be showing a bit more decorum, Pinky. Swearing is unnecessary.’

I put my hands over my ears and began singing, ‘Lalalalala’ really loudly, but I could still see his remonstrating mouth moving and the bitter disappointment on his face. ‘How could this immature, foul-mouthed creature have emanated from my loins?’, I heard him think.

“Most teachers swear like gutter snipes,” I yelled back through the screen. “You should hear us all in the staffroom cussing away! It’s not the bloody 1950s, you know! I’ll f#$*ing swear on my f#$%ing blog if I want.”

After he left (shaking his head in disenchantment and probably wondering if it was a coincidence that the contraceptive pill was hastily invented the year after I was born), I went back and edited the post removing all the swear words.

He’s right. Only a person with ‘not so high' intelligence makes do with profanity to get their message across. Smart people use their broad vocabulary.

Maybe my swearing is a presenting symptom of stupidity. Maybe, like a fever is to a virus, swearing is a sign of the brain overheating in frustration because it can’t ‘find alternatives’.

One of my first concerns was for poor Scotto. Fancy being married to your intellectual inferior. Fancy being married to a swearing, cursing, pinhead. How does he put up with it?

I made a promise to myself to cut down on the sailor talk.

“Do you still love me?” I asked Scotto after I told him he was married to Mrs F#ck-Wit Dumb-Sh*t.

“You’re not dumb, Pinky,” he replied.

“How do you know I’m not dumb?” I asked, chewing on a thumbnail, twirling my hair and blinking vapidly. I couldn't wait to hear his sagacious reasoning.

“You’ve never driven a car while you were high on ice for a start… what a bloody stupid idiot,” he added, tutting and gesturing at a story on the telly as he watched the morning news.

That’s true, I thought. I’ve never even once tried ice let alone driven under its influence.

“What else?” I harangued.

“Well…,” he began to look uncomfortable. “You use a lot of critical thinking!”

“Do I?” my eyes widened in happiness. This was news.

“Yes, you do,” he grinned in relief and patted me on the back. “You’re a VERY critical person.”

I hugged myself and giggled in glee. “What else?”

He started laughing. Like, laughing a lot. If I was smart, I might have thought he was stalling for time.

“You read all the classics,” he finally said. “Pinky, why do I feel like I’m going to regret this?”

“What classics do I read?” I asked.

“I dunno... Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray... and that other bloke…” he said.

He’s correct. I do read the classics. Maybe I am smart. 

But I also watched every episode of Tiger King. 

Then again, so did Scotto.

“Well then, why do you think the genetic report says I have ‘not so high’ intelligence if I’m smart?” I needled piteously.

“That’s easy,” he replied after a few minutes of staring deeply at the wall. “They’re a mob of f#$%ing morons and the website’s a crock of f#$#ing shit.”

I gasped in shock. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Avoid Kids Like the Plague!

I’ve been particularly wanting to tell you about my student, Phineas.

My student, Phineas, is of the seventy-five-year-old man in a seven-year old’s body ilk.

Phineas is the type of ‘elderly’ gentleman who always displays an inordinate sense of polite etiquette but can’t stand silliness. Phineas merely furrows his fuzzy wise eyebrows at me when I make a joke. 

He’s a tough crowd.

Phineas is a bit of a dobber. I imagine when he grows up he’ll be a curtain twitcher, monitoring the neighbours like a hawk and ringing the police when he notices the people across the road have put their recycling bin out on the wrong day.

Phineas brings many interesting ‘facts’ to the classroom. He likes to share his knowledge of the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918 and how many people died. He can even describe the symptoms. I pray he doesn’t find out about Ebola.

Phineas brought show and tell last week, before the schools were semi-shut down. I watched him dig around in the crumpled Woolworths plastic bag for all the goodies he’d brought in to share with us.

“This is some Chinese money my Gran gave me,” he announced gravely whilst holding up a fistful of yuan. He seemed to have a daredevil air about him. It was almost as if he was being overtly controversial.

There was silence. A slight shuffling of bottoms away from the speaker took place, including my own.

“Before you say it’s got the Corona Virus,” he said with all the seriousness of the Queensland Chief Medical Officer reading out the latest death toll, “let me assure you, my Gran went on holidays BEFORE the Corona Virus, so this money is okay. Who wants to hold it?” he said, flapping it around under my nose.

Everyone wanted to hold it except me.

“Corona Virus doesn’t hurt kids,” pronounced little Ephraim, blowing his nose noisily with a tissue.

“It only gits old people,” added another boy.

Some of the students glanced self-consciously at me. I know what they were thinking; the old bat’s gonna get it for sure.

The boy who’d been blowing his nose tossed the tissue on the floor beside the bin and meandered past my desk on his way back, trailing his hand along its edge then picking up my water bottle and caressing it as he went.

“Can you go and wash your hands after blowing your nose, Ephraim?” I pleaded. “Go pick up that tissue and stop touching my water bottle.”

“I did wash them,” he said.

“No, you didn’t. I just watched you blow your nose then.”

He shrugged grumpily, went to the hand sanitiser on the wall and gave it a desultory squirt.

The handwash has no alcohol in it. Just aloe vera, for what it’s worth. 

Last time I checked, aloe vera does nothing for virulent pathogens except for perhaps granting them a radiant glow and softer skin. 

Teachers can’t have alcohol products in the same room as the Super Spreaders, you see. They might drink it.

The teachers, not the kids.

“The tooth fairy didn’t come last night because of the Corona Virus,” blurted one little girl as she fished around in her mouth with a finger looking for the vacant space in her gums.

“The tooth fairy has Comona Virus?” lisped another in consternation.

“No… ,“ came the disgusted reply from the first girl. “She was held up in traffic because of the Corona Virus.”

Or, Mum and Dad conveniently used the virus as an excuse because they forgot to leave out the tooth money, I thought.

Is nothing sacred? Fancy blaming your parental lapses on a pestilence.

The bell rang and as I ushered Phineas, clutching his filthy lucre, out the door, he stopped abruptly. Turning his small face up to me, he gazed pitifully into my eyes. “God keep you safe, Mrs Poinker,” he said.

I shuddered. That child knows something. 

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Covid 19 : The World Gone Crazy

Joffrey the chicken hiding in the bushes

Standing at the entrance of our local shop yesterday, swearing prolifically and attempting to separate the shopping baskets which some idiot had jammed together, I felt a light tap on my shoulder.

It was an elderly gentleman.

“Can I help you with that?” he asked. “They’re a nuisance when they get stuck together, aren’t they?” he added, holding the basket out to me.

I nodded in agreement as I furtively checked him over for signs of fever, heavy breathing or a cold sweat.

Having just heard on the car radio that our Prime Minister had cancelled all public gatherings in response to the spread of Covid 19, I was a bit on edge.

The old guy seemed to be healthy, but you could never know for sure. 
Anyone could be a carrier. 

I’ve heard that victims ‘shed’ the virus before they show symptoms and the gentleman’s hands were all over the shopping basket where I was about to place my mushrooms, organic lettuce and tea-tree scented toothpaste.

Scanning his body for any type of ‘shedding’, proved to be  problematic. 

How would I know what to look for? 

Would flakes of infected skin start to fall off him? Would his ears and nose and other orifices seep a discernible watery liquid? Or worse… would invisible deadly particles rush from his plague-ridden breath straight up my unsullied and mostly pristine nostrils?

But then I realised that all manner of contaminated people might have already touched the basket and there was no way I’d know, so I threw caution to the wind and accepted the basket graciously from the kind man.

I must say, there was a strange feeling in the air though. 

Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. 

It was a bit like the overt aura of magnanimous cheer you can sense at Christmas. Everyone seemed to be smiling and nodding at each other in mutual good humour… but there was no silver tinsel festooned around the newspaper stand, no Michael Buble carols playing on the speakers, and none of the staff were wearing silly antlers. 

There was a decided air of nervous expectancy. Did these people believe the rumours the country was about to go into lockdown?

I noticed that most people’s shopping trolleys were overloaded just like at Christmas time, too. But instead of hams and pavlova ingredients, the trolleys were full of paper towels, bleach and long-life milk.

Suddenly, I panicked. I had to get out of the shop before the virus got me. Long-life milk signalled end times. In every apocalypse movie, people are hoarding long-life milk and cigarettes.

But there was no time to scour the aisles for long-life bloody milk. I’d drink my coffee black.

By this stage I had seven apples and a lettuce in my basket. I quickly calculated that if I cut the apples in quarters, I could make one apple last me all day for seven days straight. After I’d eaten the apples, I could start rationing the lettuce. Three leaves a day would probably be enough. I could take the iron tablets already in my fridge to supplement any nutritional shortfall. If worst came to worst and the country did go into lockdown, I would at least survive for two weeks.

“Do you have your senior’s card yet?” asked the mousy, toad-like hag at the check-out.

“No!” I snapped back at her.

The mealy-mouthed witch asks me this every single Tuesday because apparently all the seniors get a 5% discount or some shite and she thinks I look like an effing senior when I clearly have ANOTHER SIX AND A HALF MONTHS BEFORE I’M A FUCKING SENIOR THANK YOU VERY FECKING MUCH YOU HIDEOUS TROLL!

All the way driving home, I kept coming up with smart answers for next time the bitch asks me.

Something subtle and backhanded, like…

“I really admire you! I would never have the courage to go three weeks without washing my hair. How do you do it?”

“No dear, I’m not old enough for a senior’s card yet, but tell me, what’s the best bargain you’ve ever bought with yours?”

Or the slightly less subtle but quite witty, “Listen you rude, unctuous be-artch, you might think I’m old but at least when I was your age, I wasn’t an ugly, creepy twat like you and when I do turn sixty you can stick your piddling 5% discount up your clacker.”

I was in such a lather that I’d forgotten to buy my tea-tree flavoured toothpaste which was disappointing because if there’s a lockdown and I run out of food, I could have rationed it out for at least a week.

We do own seven chickens and I suppose we could wait for them to die, put them in the freezer then eat them one at a time. 

We couldn’t kill them of course. Not because we’re cruelty free hippies or anything, but because they hide under the deck and we’d never catch them what with being weak from existing on apples and lettuce for two weeks.

Besides, I’m supposed to be a vegetarian and vegetarians don't eat chicken.

Will Uber Eats still deliver in a lockdown?

Would we have to get them to leave the food in the driveway and watch from the window until they leave?

How will they deliver since they'll be in a lockdown too?

Do you have any answers for me?

Asking for a chicken.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

My Brush with the Corona Virus

As I sat in the doctor’s waiting room on Thursday, not touching the dog-eared magazines because of possible germs, I nervously started up a conversation with the receptionist.

“Have you been busy with pseudo Corona virus victims?” I feigned nonchalance about the topic.

“It’s ridiculous,” she scoffed and wagged her pen in the air. “There’s so much hype in the media it’s a joke. It’s unnecessarily scaring everyone silly. All this panic buying of toilet paper. They must have poo for brains is all I can say.”
We shared a superior laugh together (as I pictured the twenty rolls of loo paper I’d just purchased at the IGA on the way to my appointment). I wasn’t convinced that the fear and panic was ridiculous, but I conceded that she was on the medical front line and possibly knew more than I did.

Suddenly, a woman burst through the door, wheezing, coughing up a lung and wearing a florid, feverish look.

Great, I thought. I arrived here with an innocuous, non-contagious ailment and now I’m going to leave with the flipping Corona virus. I’m nearly sixty years old for God’s sake. Isn’t that the cut off age for when it becomes deadly?

But still, if I was going to catch it, it was probably best I did in the next seven months, I thought, before my birthday comes up. I should be safe until then.

But all the same, I really didn’t want to be quarantined for two weeks. Scotto would murder me out of the frustration of having me under his feet all day.

The woman spluttered all over the front counter and I pursed my lips and held my breath as I listened to her rasp out orders to the receptionist.

“I need to get a letter from the doctor for lung x-rays for me and my daughter,” she said. “It’s urgent. I need to get in to see the doctor right away!”

I began to poop in my pants. I only came for a script renewal and now I was going to die from catching the lurgy from this woman.

“I’ll check if the doctor will see you between patients,” the receptionist replied in a manner far too casual for my liking. It was already half an hour after my scheduled appointment, and I glanced around the waiting room. There was already someone in the surgery with the doctor and I was the only patient in the waiting room. It was 4:49 pm. Clearly, this virus carrying person was going to snake in to see the doctor before me. 

Bloody push-in.

Then, worst scenario EVER, she sat her infected body down beside me to wait. And I mean RIGHT beside me. The room was fricking empty, but she sat on THE SEAT RIGHT NEXT TO ME and began to call someone on the phone. I leaned as far away as I could as I eavesdropped on her conversation.

Turned out, according to what I could gather, she didn’t have the Corona virus but instead she had some weird, possibly dangerous breathing malady arising from mould growing in her house. She wasn’t allowed back in her house and she’d been sent for urgent investigative x-rays.

Yippee for me! Not contagious after all! Just a bit of mould!

I’d only just started breathing normally again, when the door violently flew open and another woman approached the counter with a decided sense of self-importance about her person.

“I’ve just flown in from Hawaii and I have a cough,” she twanged cheerily in an American accent. “I want to make sure I’m okay. I don’t think I have Corona virus. We don’t have it in Hawaii, but I just thought I’d be careful and get it checked.”

I looked up from my hands (which I’d been fixedly staring at and mentally reminding myself to not to allow anywhere near my face) and noticed the ashen expression on the receptionist’s face.

Immediately, I took a large gulp of oxygen and held my breath again.

“Can you step out the door please?” the receptionist demanded of the woman with sharp military precision, and at the same time she picked up a face mask and a bottle of heavy-duty disinfectant.

She stood in the doorway holding the surgical mask over her face, pointing the disinfectant at the Hawaiian interloper like a can of mace.

“Go down to the hospital straight away. You can’t come in here,” she said. “You’ve been on an international flight and now you’re exhibiting symptoms. You can’t come in here.”

I began to have flashbacks of that zombie movie with Brad Pitt, World War Z. Were more jovial Hawaiians going to come clawing at the door trying to forcibly ram their way in to see the doctor? Would they smash the glass and try to eat my face off? Or would they merely cough phlegm everywhere and throw mucous-covered tissues at me?

Now, if a medical receptionist shoved me out the door and aimed a bottle of bleach at my eyeballs, I’d probably skulk back to my car in shame. But the Hawaiian began to argue with her.

“I’ve heard it’s a long drive to the hospital,” she said. “Can’t I just see the doctor here? I don’t think I really have Corona virus. It’s only a little cough.”
The receptionist suddenly grew hostile. “Go back to your car,” she instructed tersely. “Go to the hospital and do NOT come in here.”

By this stage my eyes were bulging out of my head with trying not to laugh. But it was anxious laughter, not ha ha laughter. I was smothering the spasms of hysterical terror.

After the Hawaiian finally left, the receptionist embarked on a relentless disinfection regime of extreme proportions. Everything was doused and polished with bleach… the counter top, the brochure rack containing the Herpes flyers, the already wilted Happy plant in the corner.

The lady with the mould in her lungs began to rant about how everyone needs to take the virus more seriously and the receptionist (who seemed to have decided that the Corona virus panic wasn’t as ridiculous as she’d previously stated) rushed in to see the doctor, closing the door behind her, so I was unfortunately unable to listen in.

I’ve been scanning the news and thus far have not seen reports of a Hawaiian coming down with Corona virus on the Gold Coast… but watch this space.

One thing is for sure… unless you are on the brink of death, don’t visit the doctor.

N.B: No mould was hurt during the writing of this blog post.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

When House-Sitters Steal

The Poop Troupe

While we were overseas recently, we left our aged dogs and cat at home and my parents moved in to look after (read: spoil) them. 

My other three dogs (the Poop Troupe), were booked into a luxury suite at an elite boarding kennel (complete with a swimming pool, four poster beds, verandah, air-conditioning, a television, wall art and twice-daily nature walks). 

I must admit that the ‘nature walks’ were merely ‘walks in nature’ and didn’t appear to be anything particularly special.

If only my dogs could talk.

“Call this a nature walk?” Celine, the mini-foxy would have snorted. “What a fricken rort! I hate my owners for booking us into this piece of shite.”

“The air-con and beds are pretty good though, don’t you think?” Pablo the Chihuahua would have yawned.

“Food! Me want food!” Polly the sausage dog would have said.

The private suite

As part of the three and a half thousand dollar package (not even kidding), the carers at the kennels hired a professional photographer who managed to take the most beautiful Christmas portrait of the Poop Troupe I’ve ever seen. 

They emailed it to us while we were away and presented us with a hard copy when we picked them up.

What a lovely touch, huh?

I treasured the photograph and made great plans to frame it in gold and put it up somewhere prominent, like, above our bed. After all, it kind of cost us three and a half thousand dollars.

But strangely the photograph inexplicably disappeared.

In calm desperation, I searched everywhere. Behind the shelf in case the cat had spitefully knocked it down, inside the cat’s hidey hole, in case he’d nicked it so he could fire darts at it in his leisure time, and even in the cat’s litter box in case he’d eaten it and pooped it out.

No longer able to blame the cat, I blamed Scotto.

“What did you do with the Christmas photo of the dogs?” I demanded.

“Nothing,” he shrugged. “Don’t worry. It’ll turn up.”

Ah, I thought. He’s taken it to be framed in luxuriously ornate ivory with a velvet backdrop or something as a surprise for me. God, I love that man.

So, imagine my shock when I called in to visit my parents after work one day and spotted the photograph stuck to their stainless steel fridge with a couple of magnets.

“What’s my photograph doing on your bloody fridge?” I shrieked spilling my cup of tea all over my work shirt.

“You gave it to me,” answered my mother. “When we were sitting on your couch last Sunday.”

“I gave it to you to have a look at… not to keep,” I shrilled, wondering how on Earth she’d managed to secrete it out of the house without me noticing.

“Well, everyone who’s been here has loved it,” she continued, looking over at the photograph lovingly. “Even the plumber who came on Tuesday liked it. I tell everyone that it’s a photograph of my grandchildren.”

I looked around the room noticing there were no photos of her ACTUAL eight grandchildren anywhere to be seen.

“I’ve been looking everywhere for it, Mum.”

“Oh well,” she said, archly. “Consider it a present to me for looking after the other animals.”

"But, we gave you a present," I spluttered. "That lovely birdhouse was your present. It cost me a lot of money."

"Hmmm," she furrowed her brow and gazed again at the photo of MY dogs on her fridge. "I like that better."
Anyway, now she won’t give it back.

Scotto reckons if we try to print a copy from the photo sent by email, it will turn out all grainy because of the resolution, so now I have to figure out a way to break into my parent’s house and steal my photo back.

Is that even a crime if they’re your actual parents?