Sunday, 31 May 2009

Whingeing Possie

My friend sent me an sms: 'Just seen a magazine called Whingeing Pom!' I don't know why on earth he thought that might be of interest to me... But out of general interest in others who might possibly be considered to be both whingers and Poms, I had a look.

Turns out I'm not a Pom at all, I'm a Possie - well, a low-grade one, since apparently a true Possie has dual nationality; us mere permanent residents are beneath them. Pfft, sounds like these dual nationality folk have already sold out, not like us proper fence-dwellers.

But it got me thinking - what will that make our children? I got a fright the other day when I discovered that The Boy, aged 2, doesn't know what a squirrel is. Back in London, The Girl and I used to go to the same park nearly every day, where the squirrels would dance about autumnally and eat the leftovers from the park café. She knows what a squirrel is; she has lots of European-based memories, and coupled with my special instructions ("It's yoghurt with a short o, not yo-ghurt with a long o! Repeat after me!") is bound to retain some Pominess (glossing over the fact that she wants to spend her life playing Aussie Rules, "fudie" as she calls it, and eat "pardy pies"). The Boy, on the other hand, pointed to the squirrel (picture of) and said: "A possum!" I let it slide, just that one time, but if he starts pointing to pictures of Bambi and shouting "Kangaroo!", or badgers ("Wombat!") I shall have to take serious steps. Maybe I will buy him a subscription to Whingeing Pom for his 3rd birthday.

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Pom in Oz, Part 2

[cont'd from Part 1]

7. Trust... Maybe it's just the folk in my local area, but to me, a hardened Londoner (well, not really, I was from West Hampstead) the sight of people leaving $1000 prams and a collection of children's bikes on their porches overnight makes me feel like we're on Walton's Mountain. Where are all the thieves? People leave prams outside coffee shops, too - I mean, how long do you think a Bugaboo parked outside Starbucks in North London would last? Lovely, crazy, trusting Melbournians, I hope you don't think me rude for leaving nothing on my porch, but I come from a land where people would steal the milk from your doorstep.
8. Speaking of the porch, it's very common to find porch furniture here - wicker chairs and tables, maybe a quirky hatstand or a wooden bench. It's so wonderfully foreign to me. The most you'd get in a London front garden would be an empty can of Special Brew someone had tossed over on their way back from the party outside the public urinal. The only thing I can't understand is why I've never, ever seen someone sitting out on their porch on their beautifully arranged porch furniture, having a gas and singing some blues (oh no, that's more Kentucky...).
9. Meat... Australians think we can't afford to eat meat in the UK. Several people over here have said: "Oh it must be nice to afford meat again, I've heard about how pricey it is where you come from." I just shrug and say that everything's expensive, but you can tell by the sympathetic looks on their faces that they think I've raised my children up till now on gruel. Ha, little do they know we eat fois gras for breakfast.

More random, useless thoughts when I've written 'The End' on my novel...believe me, you'll know when that happens.

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Wednesday, 27 May 2009

A Piece Wot I Wrote

If you're a fan of YA fiction...

If you've got two minutes to spare tomorrow (or one if you speed-read)...

If you think you might enjoy the sad sight of me trying to talk like a grown-up...

Check out my offering on The Sarah Dessen Diarist tomorrow, part of a celebration of this highly successful YA author.

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Tuesday, 26 May 2009

You Must Remember This, A Pash Is Just A Kiss

Everyone says, when you're emigrating to Australia: "Oh well, at least you won't have to learn a whole new language."

Are they kidding?

Here are a just a few of the words and phrases you'll be forced to absorb unless you want to be ridiculed at every turn (actually, you'll still attract derision if, like me, you tend to say Aussie words with a kind of Hugh Grant awkward coyness, but at least if you commit them to memory you'll be able to de-code when necessary).


Dooner: duvet
Sauce: ketchup
Pants: trousers
Undies: pants (I'm having trouble with this at the moment, as I'm potty-training The Boy and keep referring to his 'brand new knickers...I mean pants...I mean UNDIES! He's confused to say the least.)
Rashy: long-sleeved top you wear to the beach / swimming to give 100% sun protection (It took me five goes of saying "A what?" before I understood what my neighbour was saying when she suggested I get one.)
Kinder / Kindy: nursery school
Capsicum: pepper (sounds hilarious when the police say "I had to use my capsicum spray to get the crazy witch off me." Not that I've ever heard the police say that. Honest. But you have to admit that capsicum spray sounds a bit weak. PEPPER spray, now there's a deterrent.)
Milk bar: small store, kinda like a newsagent that sells a few groceries. I assumed it was a bar that served milkshakes. No.
Sook: a crybaby.

When in doubt, put 'ies' or 'y' or 'o' at the end of a word: sunnies, tinny, billy, dunny, daggy, mozzie, footy, arvo, possie, aggro, barby, rellies.

eg. I went to the dunny this arvo then I put on my sunnies to go to the footy cos my mate was saving me a possie and a tinnie but the footy was daggy and there were too many mozzies and we got aggro so I went back for a barby with my rellies.



Especially don't say that you're rooting for a football team. Icky. You are barracking for a team. Never rooting. No no no. Unless you're a WAG.


Good on ya!: seriously, this can be used anytime, anywhere.
eg.1:"What have you been up to today?" "Shopping." "Good on ya!"
eg.2: "What have you been up to today?" "Made a million." "Good on ya!"

Standard greeting to an acquaintance (say at great speed):
"How you going?"
"Good, how you going?"

No worries (I admit, I have started to say this. It's hard not to adopt an Aussie accent when I say it...I hope no one thinks I'm taking the wotsit . . . WHO ME??)

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Sunday, 24 May 2009

Thrills and Spills

It's been a busy time, in a good way.

Last week I decided I'd had enough of the pace at which my 2nd draft was going (as if the pace was somehow not of my making, but an Evil Force I had to battle with). I decided it was target time. I respond very well to targets - it goes back to my days as a convent girl, yearning for that gold star, or yearning for Sister to stop pinching my earlobes with her razor-sharp holier-than-thou fingernails when I wasn't working fast enough... OK, no nun-bashing (that's what the WIP is for!). My target is 1500 words per day, in order to finish the draft by the beginning of June. I call it, in the manner of a person who has used the crutch of NaNoWriMo before: FiYoNoByJu. I'm sure you can work it out. A few authors I admire decided to join me for the ride. Comrades! Lovely. The Australian has noticed how my mood has picked up this week. "You seem to thrive on this sort of thing," he observed. I told him to get a packet of gold stars and see what else he could make me do. (Keep it clean, people, I told you I'm an ex-convent girl! Oh...yeah, right).

The Boy has a few new tricks. One is that he is pretending to be a dog for about 70% of each day. He wants to play fetch, he has a very realistic Woof!, and last night he bit his sister on the bum. But it's all her fault anyway - last weekend she made him a very elaborate kennel and lavished him with far more attention as a dog than he ever gets as her annoying little now we're stuck with it.

He's also learned how extremely funny it is to shut the front door when Mum and Dad are on the wrong side of it. We'd gone outside to say goodbye to some friends when we heard the door slam. "You got keys?" we said in unison. "I can't believe you don't have keys!!" I yelled, while The Australian ambled back up the pebbled path in his socks to assess the situation.

The situation was this - the front door was shut, the back door was locked, and the only window that would open has a gap of about 10cm. Now, we all know The Australian has shed his Heathrow Kilos, but he's still 6ft1 of pure man. The only option was to get The Boy to fetch my keys.

"They're in my bag, darling. Fetch Mummy's bag!" I shouted through the letter box. He toddled away...

...and came back wearing a brightly coloured Wiggles hat.

"No, not the hat, sweetheart, the keys. In Mummy's bag." Off he went again...

...and came back with his sister's pink sequined party bag.

"MUMMY'S BAG, DARLING. PLEASE." I tried to ignore the fact that he was really enjoying this. We both knew he knew what a key is - he can say the whole damn alphabet (apart from the elomeno-p bit) and has a genius line in sweet manipulation; the boy ain't dumb! In fact I probably shold have asked him to sweetly manipulate the door open.

The Australian decided to hitch a ride, in his socks, to the estate agent's office and get the spare key. It was as if he'd thrown down the gauntlet - could I make The Boy retrieve my key in the time it took him to fetch the spare? I was dead excited - a challenge! I thrive on them, right?

In the next 10 minutes I resorted to some parenting basics.

"Mummy has CHOCOLATE in her bag. If you bring Mummy's bag, I will GIVE YOU some of it."

"Ooh, chocolate!" he said. Seconds later he came towards the letter box with the bag. Yes! Yes! Nooooo! He'd dropped the bag in favour of his new plastic-lion-head-on-a-long-handle-thing! DAMN those gift shops at the zoo!!

As the car drew up, I realised I'd fai...fai...tried my best. Pfft. Still, at least the writing challenge is paying off - I'm over the hump and at that part where you've picked up a cracking pace and are having such fun you almost don't want it to end. Almost. That's the thrill.

As for the spill, we went out for pizza tonight and The Girl managed to throw an entire glass of lager over my lap. I smelled like a very wet dog who had just eaten a lot of hops. The Boy responded accordingly: Woof!

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Thursday, 14 May 2009

Pieces of 8

I've been tagged by chick-lit author Claire Allan over at Diary of a Mad Mammy, so here goes:

8 Things I Like:
- I like that feeling I get when I've read the first page of a new book and I know, I just know, that I'm going to love it (recently: A Kind Of Intimacy, Jenn Ashworth). I usually pause at that point and take the time for an excited sort of sigh. I nudge The Australian and tell him. He grunts.
- I like creeping into my children's bedroom at night, tucking them in again and remembering that not so long ago I was lucky to get two consecutive hours of sleep during the night. That is never going to get old.
- I like cheddar that takes the roof of your mouth off.
- I like getting ready for a night out.
- I like imagining conversations that will probably never take place.
- I like not being the last person in the house to fall asleep.
- I like baba ghanoush.
- I like cutting my children's toenails.

8 Things I Did Yesterday
- Took Bush Flower Essences
- Swore
- Watched Desperate Housewives
- Contemplated chucking the WIP and starting something new
- Decided not to
- Cooked fish
- Avoided wheat
- Agreed to go to a party I don't want to go to

8 Things I Wish I Could Do
- Drive
- Ski
- Think rationally at stressful times
- Backflips
- Fly
- Come across as warm and friendly
- Write the best book in the world
- um...that just leaves World Peace

8 Things I Don't Like
- The suburbs
- Porridge (the breakfast not the tv show)
- Small talk
- Forgetting the one thing I went to the supermarket for
- Waiting
- try-hard Alpha Males, in baseball caps
- Pigeons
- Advert breaks

And now I tag: anyone who should be doing something else but wants to avoid it.

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Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Pom In Oz, Part 1

This list will come in handy if the following apply to you:
1. You are emigrating to Australia, esp. Melbourne.
2. You are the sort of person who quite often leaves the house and then panics that you've forgotten to put your trousers on.

OK, so here's Part 1 of the things I've learned (the hard way) in the year we've been living here.

1. When you ask for a loaf of bread in the bakery and they say "Sandwich or toast?", say "toast" - this is not because "toast" is necessarily better, it is just better than standing there muttering, "Err, not sure, hmm, err, is there a difference? You decide!" A firm and confident "TOAST" will see you through. Don't let them see your weakness - if you hesitate, before you know it you'll have bought 6 berry scones and an apple turnover just to prove you know what you're doing.
2. Ugg boots = slippers. I know, I know, they are seriously outdoor-looking slippers and it's perfectly acceptable to wear them in the UK (it's even acceptable to wear fake ones in Kilburn) but over here people will either assume: (a) you are middle-aged mutton trying to emulate teenage lamb, (b) you are crazy. For me, it's ok - they already think I'm crazy.
3. People are friendly. Just like in Ramsey Street. Be prepared. They will invite you over, they will ask questions about you, they will share information about themselves - it's what they do. Try not to be alarmed. Rest assured that it is fine to carry on as your normal curmudgeonly self - they expect it, you're a Pom.
4. Books are frighteningly dear. At first you may think this will curb your spending, but it will not (esp not if you live near a Readings). It would therefore come in very handy if you could buy fewer shoes - you could always use this as the excuse for why you're wearing your Uggs outside again.
5. Essential items for children's parties (there WILL be complaints if you don't serve these): fairy bread (white bread, buttered and sprinkled with 100s and 1000s); party pies (hot little pies with meat inside) SERVE WITH KETCHUP, but don't call it ketchup, call it SAUCE; sausage rolls (serve with sauce); bright orange frankfurter things that burst out of their skin (serve with sauce); neon drinks.
6. Everyone here thinks everyone there is fat. There will be plenty of comments about 'The Heathrow Kilos' etc, ie. anyone who goes to the UK comes back a lard-arse. It is VERY hard to argue with this when you are known for staying inside a lot writing, while they are all out kicking a "footie" or doing some completely normal-to-them weekend activity like water-skiing or plain old jumping for joy (but don't be fooled, they are only doing this because there is nothing good on telly...surely - more of which will be discussed in Part 2).

Watch out for Part 2!

Disclaimer: I love Melbourne. Honest.

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Friday, 8 May 2009

Look Into My Eyes . . . The Eyes, The Eyes . . . You Are Feeling Very Sleepy . . .

When I click my fingers, you will have no recollection of the nice pink banner that used to sit on the right.

I never went to London. There was no party. The Girl You Think I Am? You've never heard of it.

I didn't put the nice book cover in the freezer amongst the calamari and the Calippos.

July publication? No no, you have no memory of that.

You will forget it all, and start a series of silly walks whenever you hear the word 'chicken'.

And 3, 2, 1,


Great news, gang! I've got a YA novel coming out with Chicken House in January 2010! Title and sparkly new cover to be revealed soon.

What's the matter? Why are you all walking like that?

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