Archive | Weekend Magazine Columns

Sick and Ageing Parents

Lately, I’ve been hearing story after story of friends going through one of hardest natural phenomenon we face, the sickness or death of parents. I say natural because it is, but that doesn’t make the suffering any easier. Three of my closest friends have a parent recently diagnosed with cancer. Conversations of radiation and chemo, of mastectomies and malignancies, are too familiar in my daily conversations. Continue Reading →


The Digital Aged

NOT long ago, my mother did a course in computers and social media. And suddenly I’m getting emails about the dangers of drinking from plastic bottles, using deodorant and walking alone in earthquake zones.

One can politely request friends stop forwarding generic emails but it’s hard to stop a mum from doing what she knows how to do best. Worry. Her older sister has similarly joined the internet age and together they’ve located family in England and resparked many important relationships. Continue Reading →


System overload

DURING the first few days of the Japanese disaster, I was disturbed at some of my own behaviour.

Like most of us, I watched unfolding events with horror and many tears. But then my focus changed. When it came time to make dinner, the focus of my obsession became the process of cooking. My emotions were frayed – however this time it was because there was no garlic. And I was angry that my daughter didn’t want pasta after I’d put the pasta on. Moments before, I’d been trembling in front of the TV watching apocalyptic scenes of devastation, and the possibility of a nuclear holocaust. Suddenly the only thing consuming me was garlic. Continue Reading →


Armchair Activists

The Australian

March 27

I WATCHED the manager of a prestigious beauty salon handle a client who fronted up with a six-month gift voucher that was about to expire. She wanted to make an appointment. At such short notice, there was “no way” the salon could squeeze her in before the expiry date. And no, they wouldn’t extend the gift voucher a week or two. It was policy. It was written in the fine print. The woman had her reasons for not coming during the six months. The manager would have none of it. Continue Reading →


Balancing Act

The Australian

I WAS at an appointment the other day with a person from whom I required graphics work.

I asked if I could have a discount as I’d only allocated a certain amount of money to the job and at her rates, we were going to run over budget. “No,” she replied, simply and without emotion. “I don’t do discounts.”

She went on to explain why. I found it a most interesting observation. “People tell you they need a discount because they’re short of cash, or they haven’t budgeted on such an amount. But here’s the truth. Most people have some spare cash lying around, it’s just that they prioritise how they’re going to spend it. You might say you only have $50 an hour to give me, then go and spend $200 on a new dress. Continue Reading →


Sorta like, er, lazy

The Australian

February 9 2011

UMMM, it’s a pet hate of mine. The words we use as punctuation marks instead of taking a nice, deep, aaaah, breath. I call them lazy words.

They’re verbal crutches – something to help prop up a sentence that is limping along; a resting word to lean on when one’s brain is blown.

My daughter’s generation uses that revolting word which is a teenage crime against literacy. The verbal comma “like”. “I ‘like’ want to ‘like’ go and ‘like’ see that film.” Last week one girl made me laugh out loud: “I really like like that food” – as in “I like the food, but in a kinda-like way.” “Kinda” being often paired with “like”, as a double assault on the eardrum.

An acquaintance uses the words “you know” but an even worse version – “y’nah” – in a very quick tongue-trip so it’s almost an inaudible grunt. He says it helps him think of the next word, poor thing. Continue Reading →


Memory Lane

The Australian

January 29 2011

OVER Christmas, while visiting Melbourne, I stopped outside my nana’s old home.

I drove down the tree-lined avenue that was instantly familiar and walked the street where I played as a child. We lived for a long time in that house. My grandparents took us in when my father was trying to set up business. One of my sisters was born in the house and we played in the huge backyard, using the trees as caves, eating guavas and gooseberries from the trees, and playing imaginary cowgirls, riding the piano stool to victory. Sitting outside the house, I remembered with painful joy my nana and papa dozing by the briquette heater. Continue Reading →


Crashed Out

The Australian

26 February 2011

IT’S like a scene from a comedy skit. But true and too precious not to share.

I’m visiting a leading hypnotherapist. Sitting here because I can’t cope. The neighbours are renovating. Each morning, before I open my eyes and remember to be horrified by all the things I need to do, the drilling has commenced, through a common wall and into my ear. Smash, crash, bang, bang.

It’s only a few months since my other neighbour renovated, and another across the street. My nerves are shot. I need something to help me think positive thoughts or even just be able to function, working at home with that racket. The clatter of the city can become excruciating. Living close to the sea, we attract backpackers who sleep in their vans on my street. They yell and play music outside my bedroom window. They urinate, or worse, on the lawn. Continue Reading →