Whisky

Beneath the peat bogs of Scotland flows a magical elixir that we call ‘peat bog water’ and it’s delicious.
LACK OF STARS: (Look, I’ve mixed the whole formula up. Stop crying)
My friends eighteenth birthday was held in the Sutherland Army Reserve base, because her dad was the Major or the General or the King or something. At eighteen I was fresh faced and innocent, approaching all experiences with a sense of wonder and dread. Parties had only just become legal drinking experiences, which meant I had to stop drinking whatever Lemon Ruskies some dudes older brother could smuggle in, and actually go to the bottle shop and make informed choices. I had to decide what kind of drinker I was going to be. So, I wandered into this party with my ten dollar bottle of Bombora coconut rum travesty and set about having a grand time.
I quickly discovered that the main difference between sixteenth’s and eighteenth’s, was that alcohol was a catered affair. The family actually provided booze to the punks and gutter rats that were frequenting the event. And provide they did – before my bamboozled eyes lay not only eskies full of chilled beer, but dozens of bottles of Johnny Walker Black Label. Now, I’d never drunk whisky before. At pubs and clubs, my drink of choice was often a Bourbon Whiskey, because of reasons unfathomable to me at this advanced age. I can only assume I thought it was cool. And along that vein, I rather thought that a Scotch Whisky might be dignified and awesome. So, I absconded with an entire bottle of the stuff and embraced the party. ‘Embraced the party’ of course means that due to the all encompassing memory loss of that night, I have no idea what I did, except for excerpts that people have related back to me.
  1. Me sitting on top of an army truck, screaming things along the lines of ‘Eat your heart out, Optimus Prime!’
    Woo! Defence budget.
  2. Me rolling around in the grass speaking to myself aka Gollum and Smeagol. Apparently I was quite good at this, and I’ve never really been able to carry off the voice that well again.
  3. Me rolling around in the grass and vomiting horribly.
Now, it was at this point that an ambulance was called for me. I can understand this from the perspective of a gang of gormless teens – they’d never seen anything so horrible. They were scared, appalled and probably didn’t want to deal with the manic spewing gollum that I’d become. Fair enough. But I would also like to point out, that it wasn’t actual alcohol poisoning. I didn’t need my stomach pumped. I have since been as sick, and even more so – I called it ‘University’.
And when the ambulance drivers came, they were understandably pissed off. Instead of saving lives or fighting demons or whatever it was that they enjoyed doing, they had to cart back some stinking vomit teen, who was still muttering about ‘his precious’. This is probably why in the middle of my rant about ‘taters? What’s taters?’, one of the ambulance men gave me a big old slap. My mate Bob was there, and was pretty shocked. I think the dude was probably justified.
Waking up in the hospital was pretty awful, in the sense that I’d clearly done something wrong. It was clearly a big deal, a major moment of badness. Although, because all they’d done in the hospital was hook me up to a drip, I actually felt fantastic. No hangover for me.
The strange end to this unfortunate tale, is that a day or two later I received a call from the General Dad or whatever in charge of the Reserve. He told me that me and some of my friends (I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t dealt gracefully with free spirits) had caused a bunch of mess, and that we had to come back and clean it up. Turning up once again at the Reserve, this time Windex and gloves replacing my coconut rum and bad decision making, we were led into the spotless army room and sat down. General Dad began talking about our lack of discipline, and then also about the shame of our unnatural lifestyle. I was still expecting to hear that I’d vomited on a flame thrower or something, so that it took me a little while to realise that the two other kids sitting with me, were also the only two openly gay kids in our year of school. Suddenly it all came together, and I realised what was going on. Looking at the other two, they had clearly pegged on to it earlier than me. We weren’t actually there to clean up puddles of day old vomit – we were there because this homophobic military douche was trying to get us to join the military to beat the gay out of us. I’d like to say that we stood as one, threw our pink dishwashing gloves down and marched out – but we didn’t. We sat there quietly for fifteen minutes and listened, desperately hoping this threatening and insulting experience would be over soon.
THE STARS:
From that day on, the merest smell of anything whisky related made me feel incredibly ill. I felt no real qualm about not drinking it, because there was a whole world of other alcohol out there for me to drink. Until recently I was at a party, and the host, a mate of mine named Sam Cooney, wandered up to me in his nuns habit and kindly said ‘You need a drink!’
I agreed, and a large tumbler of Scotch was thrust into my hand. It was a loud party, and I felt obliged to drink it out of politeness, so I didn’t demur. And slowly, with great trepidation, I lifted the enormous glass to my lips and tasted the burning, petrochemical tang of whisky for the first time in almost a decade. And I found it good. Gone was the instinctive nausea. Gone was the psychological shame conditioning. Because I’d been shouting all night, I’d lost my voice earlier. Through the power of whisky, it miraculously came back. Whisky was amazing.
Words cannot how exciting this is for me. I’m one of those jerks who thinks deeply about his alcohol. I have a wine cellar. I know about ‘good years’. I drink boutique beers. I know what my martini proportion is. I’m ‘set’ in my preferences, I know what I like and I do everything I can to maintain this standard. And now I’ve been given a whole new family of booze for me to discover. I have no idea what kind of whisky I like, what kind of whisky is good. There’s a bewildering range of whisky’s waiting to get into my face. Do I like whisky on the rocks, or neat? I now have another reason to go to Scotland (there are three reasons, the first is CASTLES). When I’m out with people now, I get to shake them and scream ‘WHAT KIND OF WHISKY DO YOU LIKE!’ I’m just so excited. Thanks, Sam Cooney. Thanks for this great gift.
THE SCORE:
4.5/5 stars

Awkwardness

You may have realised from reading this blog that I am both awkward and good at putting myself in awkward situations. On that note, I have compiled a list of handy hints to get out of awkward situations – or at least reduce their severity.

THE STARS:

JAWKWARD:

The first thing you have to realise is that small moments of awkward are often made worse by many of the techniques and skills I’m about to relate to you. Therefore, it is crucial to recognise instantly if the awkward situation you have found yourself in is actually so bad it is jawkward. Jawkward is where either you, or everyone around you, are so struck by the awkwardness of the situation, it is expressed by a fixed jaw position.

OK… that picture could be better. Awkward.

An example of a good jawkward situation was in a theatre lobby a while ago, where I ran into this actress who I vaguely know. She says hello, and I decide to lean in for the cheek kiss. I lean a little too far (she is short) and end up awkwardly kissing the side of her neck. THAT IS THE AKWARD MOMENT. How does it become jawkward?
I then decide to blow a big raspberry on her neck.
When I come back up, there is a room full of really, really, jawkward faces.

TECHNIQUES FOR ESCAPING A JAWKWARD SITUATION:

So, now you’ve established the level of awkwardness. What do you do? Try these handy hints -

THE SMOKE BOMB
This is a classic way for escaping an awkward moment, especially in conversation. Miming a smoke bomb, disappearing under the cover of a bunch of mime smoke.

THE JETPACK
Once again, miming a jetpack will help you escape. The good thing about this one is it’s very useful at parties and a staircase is nearby. I tend to use this one when I’m stuck in an awkward conversation and I’m actually just trying to get upstairs to pee.

THE SECRET BOOKCASE PASSAGE
This is not for the amateur. A more complicated mime, you have to indicate that you are browsing books, lift one up and then fall through the secret passage revealed. I’ve never successfully carried this one off, so if a better person than me is able to, please let me know.

THE EJECTOR SEAT
Now, this is by far the best. The ejector seat is fairly easy to mime, simply by crouching slightly and violently pulling a lever next to you and thrusting off. The icing on this awesome mime-cake is that while doing this, you sing the James Bond ‘Goldeneye’ music, more specifically if you are able, the music that occurs when you are killed in the Nintendo 64 version of the game.
I have a friend who uses this method very ably in the middle of failed jokes or anecdotes that lose their structural integrity. He is my ejector seat Bond theme role model.

SHAMEFUNK

This boppy technique is wonderful after making a faux-pas. I recently did it after forgetting someone’s name thrice, in one conversation. What you do is very simple, after shaming yourself in some way, you just funk it up. You just dance through the moment. In a serious situation, you can even Reverse- Shamefunk, which is when you dance backwards all the way out of the room.
The beauty of  shamefunk is that if everybody in the conversation has been inducted into the rules of shamefunk, then it is up to everybody to funk away the awkwardness.

LACK OF STARS:

I became overly fond of the smoke bomb method of awkwardness dispersion. My mime became sloppy, and my meaning was lost. Soon it looked like I was lazily throwing a pie on the ground, and the awkwardness simply grew. Also, once when I mimed the jetpack, the noise I made along with it, meant to indicate the roar of the jetpack engine, sounded simply like I was farting a whole bunch.
So, always be careful.

Also, shamefunk has one noticeable weakness. If you are shamed from dancing badly, shamefunking will only EXTENUATE the problem.

THE SCORE:

4.5/5 stars

Flying

Another really unnatural thing that we do.

THE STARS

I’m not scared of flying. I tolerate it, because it is WILDLY CONVENIENT. I worked at Sydney International Airport in the departures section in Duty Free for about three years, and it always filled me with gallons of bewilderment the way people behave in airports. Oh, your MIRACULOUS FLYING BUS WITH WINGS IS LATE BY TWO HOURS? MAYBE YOU CAN JUST CATCH SOME OTHER FORM OF TRANSPORT WHICH ACTIVELY DEFIES THE RULES OF GRAVITY. YEAH, YOU SHOULD HAVE CAUGHT THE TELEPORTER, THEY’RE MORE RELIABLE AND FICTIONAL.
 Fuck you gravity. I’m shouty today.
But seriously, the fact that the entire world can be accessed via a day or more of sitting in an uncomfortably vibrating chair strapped to a giant motor and flimsy manipulation of aerodynamics is something that we should still be slow clapping at.

“Yeah, I’m going to be late. My miracle-chair has to fight dragons.
 I know, can you believe it?”

The other thing about flying is that it’s always guaranteed to pop up in a conversation about what superpower you want. I can understand that, I’m sure it would be a remarkable feeling being able to glide effortlessly through the air. I think the key to that statement is effortlessly – I can get behind the kind of weird supernatural air-thrust that Superman does. (I can get behind Superman’s air thrust? Wow.) But what if it involved having enormous, albatross style wings. For one, they’d have to be huge to lift you, and then you’d probably never walk again, or fit through doorways. Two, they’d probably be a lot of hard work to flap. In order to get anywhere substantial, you’d need Olympic levels of fitness. I’d have to say, having giant wings on my back would probably motivate me in ways that shotput never did, but still.
I have a certain friend who I love very dearly, but in one of those conversations he put the most hilarious image in my head. He was arguing for having wings, the majority of his case leaning towards the beauty of looking like an angel, rather than the half-man half-seagull I tend to imagine. He then said, no joke, “imagine the erotic possibilities”.  Now, I don’t know if I’m some kind of repressed square, but the ONLY erotic possibilities that I can imagine for a dude with giant wings, is swooping out of the sky and pecking people with his penis.

ALL THE POSSIBILITIES.

Personally I’d choose teleportation for my super power. Or immortality.

LACK OF STARS

Despite my earlier impassioned plea for the marvelling of flying, there’s no going past the fact that the 42 hour flight from Sydney to Qatar with the 7 hour stop off in Abu Dhabi, or as I like to call it, ‘the land that shops forgot’ (This was over fifteen years ago, mind you. These days it’s like a gaudier Las Vegas mall.) is an ordeal. Especially if you’re like me, which is like if you got a normal boy and stretched it.
The last time I flew internationally, me and my sister were going to visit my dad in Dubai for Christmas. After a few hours, when I realised that Kerouac’s less popular novels were a really uninspired choice for flying, I decided we should have a drink. Julia agrees. So we order two gin and tonics. After they sip, I wonder if I somehow forgot to use the word ‘tonic’. To all appearances, we had two giant tumblers full of straight gin. Still, when in Rome.

So we choke them down, and settle back. Until I realise I’m intensely drunk. Even when I was sixteen, it took at least TWO lemon Ruski’s to get me drunk. Then I hazily remember that each standard drink is worth 3.5 at altitude. Or something like that. It was hazy, and I’m not fact checking at this late point. So, I decide I need to pee, and stagger off. Note to everybody – walking trashed down an airplane aisle is HILARIOUS. There’s somebody in the bathroom, so I smile blearily at a lady standing in the aisle. She says, in a thick English brogue of some kind,

“Don’t mind me, I’m just doing my squats. Doctor told me I need to do them for deep vein thrombosis!”
I regard her squatting with great interest, agreeing with her. “No, nobody likes thrombosis of any sort.”
After a few more moments, I ask if I can join her. She is surprised, but willingly runs me through all the different squats we have to do to ward off flying disease.

I return to my seat, tired by exuberant and with the beginnings of a dreadful kind of nausea. Julia is sitting there with tears streaming down her eyes. When I ask her what’s wrong, she says she has no idea. This makes her cry more.
Flying + gin is a potent combination.

THE STARS

4.5/5 stars

Breakfast

The most important meal of the day.

THE STARS

When I think of my idealised self, number one, my hair is thicker. Then place me and my tousled hair in a contemplative breeze, overlooking a canyon or the Eiffel Tower or an ancient Mayan ruin on the top of a mountain that you can only access by climbing over the back of an unbroken string of mules. I’m wearing a fashionable yet utilitarian parka, and i’m taking photos to send back to my model friends who are on shoot in Milan. My eyes are crinkled with humour, and you know that the faint webbing of wrinkles each represents a personal triumph. Because I am a worldly man, who travels the globe with hair so thick that it can speak.

That’s meant to be the Eiffel Tower, not a power station.

But there’s a reason why I will never be my idealised self. And that’s because my idea of a perfect day is not hang gliding off the coliseum into an art gallery to high-five the ghost of Renoir. No. My perfect day is sitting in my house with a good book and eating breakfast ALL DAY.

There is nothing so fine as the multi-part, segmented breakfast. You start off with something bland, like weetbix, because I find it hard to deal with complex tastes early in the morning. Then some fruit. Then exorbitant amounts of coffee. Then you go crazy – yoghurt, or perhaps some kind of waffle. This far-out lifestyle continues all the way through lunch, or as I like to call it, the working mans breakfast. The poor cousin of breakfast. The unfulfilling Pokemon evolution – Breakfast has evolved in Lunch? It is wildly disappointing.

LUNCH uses SANDWICH. It has become UNCOMFORTABLY LARGE. 

If you have exactly what it takes to fully commit to breakfast, you can continue all the way into night-breakfast, commonly known as dinner. Night-breakfast is great, because you can drink breakfast wine. Then again, breakfast wine can happen at any time. True story, me and Bridget once spent a week asking wineries what they would recommend for a breakfast wine. Most of them recommended sparkling wine, anything with a fizz.

TOO MUCH BREAKFAST

LACK OF STARS

My love of many breakfasts means that even on the most pedestrian, working day, I usually have at least a second breakfast. And that makes me a hobbit. And I don’t want to be a hobbit. I want to be an elf. But they probably don’t eat breakfast, they probably absorb sunshine and music through their ears in lieu of poptarts.

THE SCORE

 4.5/5 stars

THE SIDENOTE

So i’ve managed to fuck up my wrist through drunken shennanigans somehow, and using the keyboard pad to draw that piss-poor Eiffel Tower felt like rubbing broken glass into my bones. Apologies to the thousands of readers who are here only for the awesome paint art.

Friendship

Mine’s not a ship, it’s a catamaran! Friendamaran!

THE STARS:

For some people, friendship is like galloping down a rainbow on the back of a unicorn made out of chocolate, and when the unicorn breathes, birds fly into the air and sing love songs from the 80’s, and they know they will never ever be afraid.

Fucking cliquey though.

For other people, friendship is always having a witty sidekick, who has their backs in sword fights and provides a unique skill-set that complements their own.
PROTAGONIST JONES: “Looks like Greyskull has set up a little surprise for us, Tongueshoe!”
TONGUESHOE: “Rrrowr”
PROTAGONIST JONES: You got it buddy! I’ll sail the friendamaran into the warphole, and you can attack them with your giant canine brain!

And if you’re wondering what MY friendships are like, they’re a little closer to this:

I have terrible role models.

LACK OF STARS:

You see, in my experience, all of what i’ve written above is a lie. At least I hope it is, because that’s a lot of pressure, you know. You may go INTO a friendship thinking that you’ve found a great sidekick/unicorn/shopping buddy, but if the friendship is actually working, then it will look a lot more like this:

There’s no real downside to the concept of friendship, unless you don’t have one. So, lonely Joe, sitting in your hate-filled computer dungeon, I’m deducting half a star for you. Not that i’ll expect you to thank me, you stinking cheese scented travesty of a being.

THE STARS:

4.5/5 stars