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30 March 2007

More than a game

So last year I read this book which made me determined to learn to like football*.

I had, I realised, been going about it completely the wrong way. I saw it like this:

Football = Louts + violence + beer + pies = boring.

I should have been looking at it like this:

Football = fascinating socio-historical practice + hot men in little shorts touching each other + beer + pies = not-boring.

Why fascinating? I'm glad you asked.

In 1830-something, a kid called Tom Wills was playing a kicking-balls-around game with some local Aboriginal kids, near Ararat in regional Victoria. Part of this game involved seeing who could jump the highest to catch the ball.

When he was 14, Tom was sent to Rugby in England. His ex-convict father didn't want him to grow up with the 'stain'. When Tom came back, age 21, he became one of Victoria's top cricketers.

The problem with cricket though, is it's a summer game. And all the cricketers were getting fat over winter. In 1858, Tom wrote a letter to a local sports rag asking if anyone would be interested in playing a game of football. That game was played in Richmond, and the following week, Tom umpired the first Australian rules match between Scotch College and Melbourne Grammar, on the land that is now the MCG.

Tom became one of Australia's top footballers, until he had to move to Queensland to help his dad look after their enormous property.

One day, after droving cattle around the place, Tom returned to the homestead to discover his family and all the other workers slaughtered by local Aboriginals (thought to be revenge for something nasty that happened).

Tom returned to Melbourne and married. But he couldn't reconcile his fond memories of playing with Aboriginal kids as a child, and the brutal violence that he had witnessed to his family. He became an alcoholic. One morning, when he was only 44, his wife came in with his breakfast. He asked her to pass him the scissors, and as she did so, she knew exactly what would happen. Tom Wills stabbed himself in the heart with the scissors, and died.

That's why I think football is interesting. Also, that it is such a democratic game. Audiences have always been 50/50 men/women, from day one. It's also attracted people from all socio-economic backgrounds. Ooh, and (slightly ironically) it's done amazing things for relations between the Aboriginal community and the rest of us land-stealers. Michael Long, anyone?

The point of this rather long story is this: I went to the footy last night**.

It was not a great game. St Kilda beat Melbourne by an embarrassing number of points, and frankly neither side were particularly impressive. However, the meat pies were still hot, the men were still wearing little shorts and touching each other, and the night air was crisp.

I will return. I may even buy a scarf.

*That's Aussie Rules football, or AFL, in case any non-Victorians are wondering.
**When I mentioned this to my manager yesterday afternoon, he did the kind of double-take I haven't seen since the D-Generation. 'You?' he said. 'Going to the football?' Then he laughed.

Lili vs Shop Assistant

(the following takes place in a bustling clothes shop in Melbourne Central)

Lili: (hands over item of clothing and credit card)

Shop Assistant: How's your day been?

Lili: Fine, thanks.

SA: Got any plans for this afternoon?

Lili: Going back to work.

SA: You work around here?

Lili: At the State Library.

SA: The what?

Lili: The Library. The big one over the road.

SA: ???

Lili: It's that really big old building that takes up a whole city block. Pillars. Lawn. Statues.

SA: Sorry...?

Lili: You really can't miss it. It's been there for 155 years. Just up those stairs? You can pretty much SEE it from here.

SA: No... Sorry.

Lili: Give me back my credit card.

25 March 2007

Bongo Schmongo

I'm trying to figure out if there is anything more irritating than bongo drums.

Specifically, bongo drums played by some kind of dirty, rhythmless hippy at a party. A hippy who is under the awesomely misguided impression that s/he (although it's usually a he) is providing some kind of jovial, convivial atmosphere.






(but remember to save the water for your garden)

Seriously, is there anything more irritating?

24 March 2007

Verbing Jane: a rant.

(if you can have spoilers for a biopic, then there are probably some below)

So last night I went to see the new film about Jane Austen. It's either called Being Jane or Becoming Jane or possibly Boring Jane, I can't remember which (let's just call it VERBing Jane).

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen was a genius. One of the many things that made her a genius, was her ability to weave every single aspect of a story together so closely, that every thread affects every other one (this is why Austen films often fall a little short of the mark - because it's harder to cut stuff out to get it down to 2 hours). VERBing Jane was more a loose tangle of threads. What purpose did the deaf brother play? (yeah, I know she HAD a deaf brother, but she also had three other brothers that weren't in the movie.)

(whoever wrote this film was not a genius. not by a long shot.)

Did I fall asleep and not notice, but what made Lefroy turn from being a boxing, drinking, whoring lout into a Sensitive New Age Guy? I was truly shocked when Mr Insulting and Falling Asleep When Jane Reads Her Work suddenly pushed poor Jane into a bush and declared "I am yours". (and don't tell me it was 'love', because i didn't see him fall in love with her. Sometimes, baby, love just ain't enough.)

And was it just me, or did the film seem to be saying she only wrote P&P? Where were the rest of 'em? I know P&P is the most famous, but all the little nudge-nudge-wink-wink references to it in the film were really grating. Particularly since I couldn't see any similarities between Lefroy and Darcy (apart from the fact that Jane didn't like him very much at first). If he's like any Austen character, it would be Mr Crawford from Mansfield Park. Or even Mr Wickham (the flirting and then the sudden engagement to someone else and then leaving that person to elope?). He showed none of the nobility and responsibility that Darcy had.

Jane Austen had a boring life. She had one marriage proposal which she accepted then refused the next day (I wonder why they changed his name from to Bigg-Wither to Wisley?). She also had a brief 'mutual flirtation' with a young man called Lefroy, which didn't go anywhere.

The thing that makes Jane Austen astonishing and wonderful is her writing. To make a film about her rather uneventful life just feels like a mockery. To frame her life as somehow tragic because she didn't get her man is even more so.

If you want Austen, read Austen. Or watch any of the wonderful screen adaptations.

20 March 2007


E Lockhart (author of some fabulous books that I have to make people send me because they aren't yet available here), mentions the 123 book meme, where writers post the first paragraph (or so) from page 123 of their works-in-progress.

Here is mine:


She was just drifting off to sleep, when the bunk next to her creaked. It was Long Meg.
Her hair had all been cut off, and her head shaved. Two great red welts streaked diagonally across each of her cheeks, oozing blood. One of Meg’s eyes was blackened and swollen shut, and her lip was split.
‘Meg!’ said Hannah. ‘What did he do to you?’
Long Meg said nothing, just lay down on her bed and turned away from Hannah.

16 March 2007

Spotted on a placard outside a church

Would you worship Jesus if he scored 10 000 test runs?

Okay. I am a heathen. I need a little help with this one.

Is it a trick question?

08 March 2007

Thanks to Google Analytics, I’ve decided to give you people what you want.*

It all happened at Text Appeal, the Literary Dating thing at the State Library of Victoria. I got shanghai’d again to participate (there is curiously enough a bit of a dearth of single women here at the Library).

So there I was, sitting at a very long table, talking to lots of Strange Men.

The first guy I dated was called Magnus. He’d brought along a copy of Where’s Wally, and was looking at me very strangely and… sniffing. I felt a bit like I was being stalked by a Black Rider from Lord of the Rings (albeit a Black Rider wearing a stripy red and white vest and a little red hat).

‘Is everything alright?’ I asked.

He sniffed again. ‘Are you wearing Olene, the perfume by Diptych?’ he asked.

I raised my eyebrows. ‘Yeah, I am.’

‘That’s Nicole Kidman’s perfume,’ he said with a nod.

‘O-kay.’ This guy was either a) a stalker, b) a superhero/genetic mutant with advanced olfactory powers or c) gay. But a gay man would have brought a better book.

Boy number 2 was Horatio. He had a copy of Robin Klein’s People Might Hear You, and looked as if he were in Year 9.

‘That’s a great book,’ I said.

He squirmed a little. ‘Yeah,’ he said, his voice breaking a little. ‘I really like that bit with the wedge tail eagles fighting each other.’

‘Uh-huh.’ I said. Surely if you hadn’t read the book, you’d make up a more convincing lie? Like I really liked the thing she said to him when they were at that place doing that thing.

I looked down at my fingernails and wondered if I’d been sucked into some sort of time vortex where three minutes lasted for a whole year. Horatio squeezed a pimple, and grinned at me.

‘Wanna pash?’ he said, wiping the white gunk on the tablecloth.


Man number 3 looked strangely familiar.

‘Have we met before?’ I asked.

He shook his head and smiled enigmatically. His book was Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, and he had a theory that the chapter headings were actually a secret code that spelled out the location of the Holy Grail. His voice sounded like gravel in a blender. There was something strangely appealing about his craggy, brownish-red face and his excess of black hair and his prominent brows. I still had a nagging feeling I’d seen him somewhere before.

He’d just told me that his favourite movie was Sesame Street’s Chariots of Fur, when suddenly there was a deafening high pitched squeal.

‘U-G-L-Y, You aint got no alibi…’

About fifty of the well-known crazed Melbourne Zombie Cheerleaders burst into Experimedia and started attacking the daters.

I got to my feet, knocking over my chair. Could we still count the 80 people there in our KPIs if they were brutally slaughtered at our event?

My date also stood up, and pulled an electric guitar and microphone out of his terribly well designed Mary-Poppins-style carpet bag.

Of course! I realised. It was Mr Lordi, the lead singer of Eurovision-winning Orc Band Lordi!

Then he began to sing the lyrics to Hard Rock Hallelujiah.

The cheerleaders couldn’t handle it. They fell to the ground, clutching their ears and writhing in pain. The other daters rushed over to the zombie cheerleaders and started beating them up with their books, wrapping the decorative fairy lights around their necks and scratching them with the thorns from the roses.

And so books and love and Mr Lordi overcame evil. Hurrah!


*This blog post is entirely fictional, and should not in any way represent the quality of participants at Text Appeal. You were all really nice.

01 March 2007

WA Kids Dig Dead French Chick

I just heard that Joan of Arc is on the West Australian Young Readers Book Award Shortlist (WAYRBA).

The list is about 30 books (local and international), voted for by Young People.

I'm on a shortlist with Lemony Snicket! Go me!