Monday, 28 May 2007

Mobster in My Pocket

Those who know me best would attest to my gross negligence of phone credit. I almost always am out of it and use is sparingly when available. This behavioural pattern grew out of financial hardship, but has continued to languish even though I am able to afford phone credit, in much the same way that war rationing survivors still get every scrap out of their beef joints, even though they could easily buy another. This is not to be sneered at, there is a lot to be said for frugality. Interestingly I read at weekend that Ian McKellan still thrills at a bargain even though he now has tons of cash. Some habits are hard to shake.

Anyhow, this reluctance to spend phone credit took a shake upon my registering an Australian phone and checking my balance. I was informed by the robo-operator that "Your current balance is $35.76. You must top up before 12th March 2007 or your service will be suspended." "What??" I cried at poor Shira, who must be so sick of shouldering the injustices of her nation "does that mean even if I still have credit they'll take it away??". "Yes", she answered meekly, knowing that an outraged kick-off was sure to follow. And it did. But I shan't bore you with details, all you need know is that I did not recharge out of principal and now have no credit as usual.

All of this was annoying, merely annoying, until tyhis morning, when it became sinister. I received a text message whilst at my desk and reached to see who was popping in my inbox. It was Optus, the subject of my embargo. "This is Optus" the message said "you must recharge your credit by the due date or all phone services will be cancelled." Christ! The fuckers are laying it on the line. Pay up or else. There has been Melbourne mafia violence in the news lately, but via text message? Orange were happy to leave me for a year without topping up, safe in the knowledge that other Orange users were ringing and texting me. But this lot are not happy with that. It's 'Give us your cash or you'll be incommunicado sunshine!'

I have one month to decide my next move. And I feel a fight coming on...

Monday, 7 May 2007

Dreaming of Ithaca

One of the main advantages of being an expat is that the homeland exists as a land of mental perfection, far removed from the day to day reality. Britain in Australia is certainly better than Britain in Britain. With this in mind I have started to pine for various things from home including:

Snooker on telly
Decaying seaside towns
Cox's Orange Pippins
English Countryside (what would a life-long city dweller know about this?? It is a pastoral ideal I know, but still it's there)
Puddings with custard in cold weather
Ale in old men pubs
The Thames
Free Museums

But then a visit to the BBC website shows me the faces of Russell Brand and Graham Norton and my dream-world Blighty collapses into second-rate actuality.

Curse you reality for being so poor!!

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

The Sweetness of The Mourning Jew

April is the cruelest month, or is it?

It has been rather kind to me, allowing us to finally settle into a house after being bitch-slapped left, right and centre by February and March. That is largely the cause of my prolonged silence.

Native Britishers would not believe the rigmarole necessary to apply for a house in this city. Viewings of properties often host up to 50 people, who must then fill out an application which resembles that for a job more closely than a house. You must give a personal statement, personal references (we needed nine for this house) and wage slips to confirm your affluence. Getting a car in the Soviet Union would have involved less red tape than this, and unpleasant as Russian civil servants might be I'd wager they had nothing on the grotesque smugness of a Real Estate Salesperson. My only hope is that after death they're all condemned to some kind of eternal Glengarry Glenross hell-fire.

If you were wondering, there is in this entry no Mourning Jew as referred to in the title, 'twas merely a pun I thought of and enjoyed! There is a wisecracking Jew and an anti-Semite though, being Groucho Marx and T S Eliot. I recently read Groucho's letter to Gummo about when he dined at Eliot's house. They had three things in common, he reported; a love of cigars, a love of cats and a habit of constantly punning. But while Groucho apparently tried to suppress his urge to make puns at every opportunity, he reports that Eliot was unashamed, even proud, of his. And why not?! I despise those who relegate the pun to a cringeworthy device. In the right hands it is a thing of wonder, as demonstrated by Mr Marx himself. And besides, what's good enough for a founding father of modernism is good enough for anyone.

Returning to more everyday affairs I must report the only down-side to our new location, we are forced to cram onto Melbourne's over-burdened train system. Things here are really reaching dire straits, with the government buying back trains it sold off 12 months ago to try and alleviate the pains of the severely antiquated system. Not that this is helping. This morning we were forced to let two trains go by since we could not physically fit on them. One man had had enough and let rip at the station attendant. "This isn't fucking good enough!" he spat out, articulating the rage of an entire city. The attendant, although it wasn't his fault, sensed this, and in his heart he knew the man was right. All he could do was stand, simpering like a little boy.

And this is how the blog ends,
And this is how the blog ends,
And this is how the blog ends,

Not with a bang but with a simper.