Thursday, December 23, 2004

From the Post Box to YOU!

Royal Mail provide a new Premium Service in London.

You put your package in the Post Box, and five days later they deliver it - not to the addressee - but back to you.

What could they possibly come up with to top THAT for service?

I arrived home on Tuesday and as I made my way up the stairs, Monica sang out that I was a lucky girl - I had a parcel.

I caught sight of the parcel and it looked all too familiar – you see it was Alicia's Christmas present, posted on Friday for Perth. I know for a fact that at least one of it's accompanying parcels actually reached Perth on the same day.

I stared, I trembled and I unleashed a display of anger and swearing that had Monica leaping out of her skin. She watched me stride around the house calling into question the parentage and intelligence of all Royal Mail workers and I think she was shocked at the outburst.

Who knows what I did wrong! On the front of the envelope – structurally the front, the side with the Royal Mail stamp, the SMALL PACKET label and the Air Mail sticker I had placed an Australian postal address. On the back of the envelope – structurally the back, the side with the declaration sticker, I had placed my return address. To mistake one side for the other is possible, but not ideal I'm sure you would agree.

It is a mystery and an annoyance to me. Alas, startling incompetence is commonplace in this country, almost the norm.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Not a creature was stirring, just a girl with a pen

It's Christmas and I haven't seen family and friends for about 16 months. This means I have a lot of Christmas Cards to send.

If you haven't heard from me for a while, it is probably because I have been closeted away writing, addressing, wrapping and posting.

This is just the Christmas Card collection for Perth - this is not including about 10 more individuals, presents for the best friends and immediate family, and certainly not the presents and cards for London.

The 50 odd cards in the photo, with at least 30 more to go, are keeping me awake at night when I should be sleeping to tackle the next day of writing.

But my goodness they are worth it! I would not be as happy as I am in London without the constant contact from home. The presents, the photos, the Cherry Ripes, the SMS's, the phonecalls.

So thank you, all of you, for being so very good at keeping in contact. I would rather be driven crazy by the need to get something sent to everyone than be relaxed and friendless.

To the post box!


Saturday, December 04, 2004

We interrupt this transmission ...

A short story, starring Claire and Jerome in their younger years -

Baby gorillas

Two small brown heads are bent over in concentration, four small hands are engaged in cutting, writing and ripping up sticky tape and two darting sets of eyes are keeping an eagle eye out for the presence of MUM.

You see, the Naughty Club was being created, and the entire reason for the Naughty Club was to facilitate real and tangible rebellion by a 4 year old and a 3 year old against the tyranny of good behaviour as expected by MUM.

In stealth, and very limited legibility, the Naughty Club membership cards were cut out, inscribed with secret symbols (lost now to your reporter) and 'laminated' with large amounts of sticky tape. The inaugural meeting was arranged and the current members of one of the newest radical movements of 1985 split up to try and allay suspicion and confound the ever watchful eyes of MUM.

One of MUM's great weaknesses was that she was old and tired and needed an afternoon nap. This was a time of mixed delight and terror for our small guerrillas. While it provided an hour of blessed release from the ever-watchful authorities of MUM, MUM was always in a funny mood after her sleep. With pillow marks marring her smooth handsome cheeks and sleep still blurring her fine dark eyes, the rebels would jump in fright at the sound of her door opening and tear away from whatever mischief they had been engaged in during her rest – usually watching a contraband hour of incomprehensible daytime TV.

This one summer's day in 1985 however, acts of rebellion during MUM's sleep were going to be transformed by the power of a hierarchy, the efficiency of organisation and the success always guaranteed by a secret club, secret club card and a secret club house. Yes, these were going to be new and brighter times and the resulting bigger and better guilty moments were going to be savoured as the first steps towards true freedom from MUM's expectations.

We were going to blow up cars! And how!

MUM went to sleep and the materials were obtained from the pin-up board. About 15 thumbtacks, bought by the oppressor, were to be used for subversive means. Held in sweating hands, the tacks were transported through the garden blazing with the midday sun, and conveyed to the front gate. And then our courageous fighters approached true danger – the front gate was opened quietly, the footpath and sloping front lawn traversed and the curb reached.

The road targeted by the Naughty Club was a wide one, well used and quite dangerous for small children. But it was the high levels of use (and perhaps general accessibility) that was attractive for the operation today. With great care a gap in the traffic was used to lay the thumbtacks across the road. Explosions were to follow.

As the Oldest and Eldest active member of the Naughty Club I remember perching on our front fence, Jerome beside me, in an agony of suspense, waiting for the cars to blow up in an orgy of Hollywood special effects. As car after car passed over the tacks we watched them until they turned at the top of the road, always waiting for that fireball, the gunshot sound of a blown tire or even just a jolt as the tire started to deflate.

It appears that the junior version of the Terrorist's Handbook was not entirely truthful on the effectiveness of small brass thumbtacks against the average rubber tire. That James Bond and his mate with the funny letter as a name? They were spreading misleading information on how to blow up cars.

To be perfectly honest, I do not know if the Naughty Club reconvened after that disappointing afternoon, I cannot remember if MUM ever caught us and I suspect that Jerome and my sometimes dubious grasp of moral ambiguities was influenced by a childhood of thinking that Killing People By Blowing Up Their Car was merely Naughty and not Terrible.

Whatever did happen to the mandate and aims of the Naughty Club though, I think that we should have tried to get real contact for our membership cards – all that sticky tape was what brought the whole thing down in my opinion. Shoddy workmanship I say …