Heroic Scope: Imagine

Growing up, my heroes were fish-out-of water girls with a propensity for getting into trouble and slaying dragons.

How exciting to be the spitting image of The Terribly Plain Princess (author Pamela Oldfield), who fought dragons and saved a prince.  Then L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables revealed a little girl with bright red hair like me, who also fell into trouble on a daily basis:  albeit on Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia,  an island far from my family’s outback sheep and cattle station in Australia.

I shared Anne’s beloved ‘scope for the imagination.’ My parents encouraged mine through bush yarns, playing mostly outdoors, and bags of library books which arrived on the weekly mail plane.  At one stage, Mum sacrificed her town library book order to keep up with the demand.

Anne and I grew up writing naturally.  But outback Edwardian fringe rebel, Sybylla Melvin, the bush governess with fire-stung heart and tongue, and stories to tell, inflamed my teenaged literary passion. After watching Gillian Armstrong’s feature film adaptation of Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career at the Broken Hill drive-in at age seven, it was a pleasure to discover the originating novel years later.

Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin.  What a writer’s name, all those delicious esses[sic]. I practised my flamboyant autograph in case anybody should ever need it, with visions of one day folding my novel manuscript in a Romantic brown paper parcel, tying it with string, and posting it off in the sunset to a city publisher.

I fantasised my way through a series of teenaged crushes, despite my ardent feminism and aspirations to become an Oscar-winning actor, a writer, and Australia’s first female prime minister.  Sybylla’s determination to publish her book, even at the cost of True Love, and its sequel, My Career Goes Bung, offered an equally spirited parallel, even if I was yet to discover that such a battle of the heart existed.

Sybylla foreswore the temptations of Mr Almost-Right, to follow her vocation. ‘Field research’ revealed that I too would let no man come between me and my writing.  Not for love.  Not for anything.

But Anne gives me heart.

c. Kylie Lawrence 2010

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When The Ideal Man is Me

Back in January, I bought a couple of magazines for my father to read, including the latest issue of the  Australian Men’s Fitness magazine.

After learning the finer points of gyprocking[sic] on the back of an envelope, during a cuppa with Dad, I thought I’d slink off to my room and have a bit of a read before getting stuck into that writing project.  Flick, flick, flick.  Not my hair.  Pages.

Ah, here are a few pages about things blokes should know for impressing women.   Measure of a Man.  Written by a woman, so she should know.  And it’s a quiz, where so many points make you a turn-off, a few more make you passable, a few more…

I decided to take the quiz, to see if I measured up.  And the results were surprising.  Six out of eight on the first pageNine out of thirteen on the secondTen out of nineteen on the third…   Just managed to fill the water cooler bottles out at the rainwater tank down the yard and replace them in the kitchen without flooding the floor….  Twelve out of sixteen there.  37 out of 57.

Who needs the ideal man?  With results as impressive as that, a girl can afford to cheat on a few of the screeds of ideal qualities in a bloke.  I decided to conduct a preliminary investigation into my own skill set, using some of the recommendations of the article (written in bold below).

  1. Find and install a condom in the dark without killing the mood.  I can do this, but you do it better.
  2. Remove a cork in one piece.  Easy peasy.  And I don’t need to put it between my knees.
  3. Drive a manual car.  What pussy can’t drive a manual?
  4. Build a camp fire without using fire starters.  When I was a kid in the bush, I loved lighting the donkey heater for hot water, and oh, small fires from time to time.
  5. Bowl a cracking off-spinner.  My sister’s father-in-law showed me how to bowl one Xmas, and despite his best tutelage,  everyone still laughed at my efforts, so I confess both gratitude and failure on this one.  But I can bat a six over the chook pen roof.
  6. Kill vermin on demand.   I like spiders, love how rats crawl around the back of your neck, and once had pet mice, who didn’t live as long as they truly deserved to.  Technically I can kill spiders, and set traps, but I’d rather set them free outside, so they can think about what a pain in the arse it is to get inside the house again.  I think this rates a half-tick.
  7. Change a flat tyre.  Yes, I can do this.  But the one time I needed to, a kind older chap by the name of Nullabor gave the wrench the final twist, to save me jumping on it.  Ah, things people do for a girl with a Kingswood in a cotton chipper’s camp.
  8. Not in the quiz, but a driving addendum: Note well, a bloke who calls the NRMA instead of changing his own tyres, is going to drive home on his own.   And he’d better lose my number.  There is a good chance he will be no good on the open road, and is probably the sort of useless individual who takes lasses on country drives with a hot rod in his pocket, and no water.   No sensible person needs a tool without a tool box.
  9. Calculate a 15 per cent tip.  How hard is that?  Ten percent and half again.  Jeesh.  But this is Australia, so what’s wrong with this fifteen percent bollocks?
  10. Pour the perfect beer.  Depends how much you like head.  I can even do it without you tipping it over your shoes to help me.
  11. Throw a decent punch.   Sometimes.  But I tend to veer off course a bit at the end because I don’t trust you to dodge it in time.
  12. Bait a hook.  Just ick.  Ick, ick, ick.  Oh, I thought you meant removing a fish from a hook?  No, I’ll jump clean out of the boat and into shark-infested waters rather than be around when you catch the big one.  But baiting a hook: that I can do.
  13. Get a girl a drink.  I am a girl, so I have a head start at the bar for a start, except when a pushy cow with big hair fronts up with next week’s meal ticket between her shoulder blades.
  14. Use a drill.  I have one under my dressing table.  It came with the galvanised steel tool box I bought to keep my writing in, in case my building burns down.  One of these days I’ll drill a hole in the tool box and turn it into a hanging file cabinet.
  15. Make a toast.  Toast without too many twig holes on a campfire, yes.  Making a toast – I made two Roman Catholic priests laugh at the last wedding, so I’m pretty sure I can handle a toast or two.
  16. Navigate with a paper map.  A friend’s ex once told me, ‘You don’t have female map disorder.’  I think that says it all really.
  17. Cook a meal.  Yes, yes, yes.   But I’d be pretty happy to eat a meal, which someone else has cooked for me out of the goodness of his heart.  As long as it is free-range, doesn’t involve animals, and is served with a smile.

There are probably numerous other ways to a person’s heart.  Which would make the aforementioned quiz list longer, and include more important things, such as the ability to jump-start a car.

Technically it’s been years since I’ve had anything to do with jumpstarting a car, but those few weeks fruit picking during the university holidays taught me a lot.  Including how to break into a car with packing tape, and secure my wheels on a night out by removing all the spark plugs to my hand bag before I strut out onto the dance floor.  Sorry fellas, but if I don’t want to turn a dance floor into a roller disco (can’t skate, anyway), those little buggers are staying under the bonnet, in the starter motor, where they belong.

Except for Point 8, which is a deal breaker, results such as this tend to put a curious dent in a girl’s list of Desirable Qualities in a sweetheart.

VAGINA TAX ALERT!

Vaginas across Australia celebrate the recent decision by Coles to absorb the flow of GST on feminine essentials.

No,  I’m not talking essentials such as mind-reading lovers, standard clothing and shoe sizing across all brands, and the old favourite, gender equality.  Although any of those three would be nice.  Speaking of keeping it noice on the beaver front, it’s good to know that a major supermarket retailer has responded to centuries of discrimination against menstruating women, by absorbing the tax cost on a whole range of beaver blockers, surf pads, Weetbix, et al, out of the goodness of their corporate heart.

Or have they?

What does a retailer really care about the old “faneroso?” (apologies to comedian Kitty Flanagan for snitching her word), aside from the fact that it is a sure market?  According to Joe Blundell, director of marketing for Coles, it was time to re-examine the impact of GST upon female consumers.  He said:

“We’ve acted on our customers’ concerns and so we’ve made an ongoing commitment to reduce the price of all feminine hygiene products sold in our stores by about 10 per cent, effectively removing the cost burden of the GST from our customers.”(The Herald Sun,  3rd July 2009).  For the full story see below.

http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,25725269-662,00.html

So this happened a month ago and despite being the proud bearer of a vagina I didn’t notice – I was overseas for several weeks lately, but that can wait for another post.  I have a teensy bit of a cold, there was an eclipse this week, and I have to get up early in the morning… well later, because right now, at 1.31am, THAT is early!  But late for sleeping if you catch my drift. 

I was down at the local Coles the other day, buying the weekly stores after my sojourn overseas (where, in England regular-sized tampons are about half the regular size here in Oz, and which got me thinking – do English women string it out over a longer period of days than Aussie women or just have tighter twats?), when I noticed that my preferred brand of feminine essentials was suddenly about 40 cents cheaper per box ’cause Coles had decided to absorb the GST.  I smiled.  Goodo.

Well, whether or not Coles has absorbed the flow of GST, or is simply applying a discount to appeal to female consumers, I think one has to look beyond cynicism to the positives in this.  A bit of a saving for a start.  But more importantly, it raises the question: why should women be taxed for having the audacity to do what Nature has designed us to do?  What next – taxing women for giving birth?

It’s a pity that only people who buy feminine essentials (for themselves or their B.W.s (Beloved Women) will see the signs.