Every man, wants a Clint Eastwood moment (without any violence of course). I write this self-indulgent blog post, with all due respect to drunk, aggressive, Irishmen.

I was standing in a wine-bar. We’d been drinking for hours, so all my mates had slowly drifted off home. I was left with Charles, a really nice accountant, who I hadn’t met before that evening.

A completely pissed Irish bloke was wandering around aggressively bumping into people. Being a small bar, there was no security, so this bloke felt free to give shit to everybody.

Me – “Remember I was telling you earlier what a great poker player I am Chucky?

Charles – “Yes Cool Hand (my self-ascribed poker call-sign), you made it sound like you’re quite the master.

Me – “You’re about to see, the bluff.

Charles looked at me quizzically.  The drunk Irishman shoved him in the back

Drunk agro dude – “You spilt me F#CKEN beer. Get me another, before I… smash… your… face… in.” He stood really close and looked down at nice guy Charles

Nice Guy Charles – “I don’t want any trouble.

Drunk agro dude – “A F#CKEN DRINK. NOW GAY F#CKER!” He started poking Charles in the chest.

Any fight here, would last about one punch and then I’d be stuck in the middle of it any way. So being pretty pissed myself, I dived into, stone-cold bluff mode.

Everybody in the bar watched, glad the Irish drunkard had moved on from them. He was about my height, but not nearly as heavy. I had to use my 112.4kg size, as my bluff. Whoever said “sometimes the best defence, is a good offence”, nailed it.

Me – “Whoa back there Fightin’ Irish!

I slowly but firmly, pushed the finger he was stabbing into Charles’ chest, down and away. He turned to me. Nice guy Charles was relieved. I wasn’t. My heart pounded, but I had to give a persona of cool confidence. Bouncer-style, I pushed out my shoulders.

If I pulled this off, I was effectively Clint Eastwood. If I stuffed it, I was trading punches with an Irish drunk and I wasn’t banking on nice guy Charles being much help.

Me – “Look here Guinness. By your homophobic slurs and Charles-poking, I suspect you and I are going to be punching the shit out of each other very soon. Now you seem like a decent enough bloke, so in the spirit of full disclosure, I have three things you should know, scrapper.” I sipped my drink.

Drunk agro dude – “I’LL SMASH YOU.

I wanted to flee.

Me – “Number one Guinness, I am twenty kilos overweight. I’m slow. If you dance around like Michael Flatley, I won’t catch you.

I gave him a confident wink. He seemed a bit flummoxed.

Me – “Number two, I have a very sensitive nose Irish. Land a good punch there, and my tears will flow like your Ma’s when you left the old country.

Drunk agro dude – “Me ma?” He seemed a bit confused.

Me – “But here’s the most important thing, Fightin’ Irish.”

I motioned with my hand for him to come in closer. He did. I nearly whispered. I even put my hand on his shoulder for effect.

Me – “I hit like Thor’s… fucking… hammer!

He looked at me and blinked.

I was overjoyed with my presentation. I spoke slowly, calmly and… toughly. Just like Clint.

Me – “I thought you’d want to know.

He stumbled and steadied himself.

Me – “I can see you really want to have a scrap. I get it, you’re Irish and you’re on the grog. It’s not your fault. But what you certainly don’t want to do… is lose a fight. Not in front of all these people.” I smiled at him warmly.

Because he was practically falling down drunk, through his face, I could nearly see his thoughts ticking over –

I want to smash this f#cken Aussie! He’s been insultin’ me. He’s slow an’ has a weak nose. I can’t lose. These rich pricks’ll know I’m a fighter just like Pa was… But hold on now… Thor’s f#cken hammer?? I don’t want to get hit by Thor’s f#cking hammer! An’ he give me all that voluntarily. Who’d say they hit like Thor’s f#cken hammer if there weren’t somethin’ to it? OH SHITE. I’ve picked THE WRONG F#CKEN GUY! Of all the soft suits in ‘ere, I picked the wrong f#cken guy. F#CK.

Me – “Maybe it’s time you left Irish. You can’t take a pint of Guinness, drop a potato in it and call it a cocktail, in this place.” I was on a roll.

He stared at me for a few seconds more. I put my beer down. He turned and left.

The patrons all gave me polite applause. I was Clint Eastwood.

Charles – “Holy shit Cool Hand. You’re a fighter!

Me – “Jeez no Chucky. I’m just a great poker player.

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My brother-in-law “Carrot”, the world’s nicest bloke, recently emigrated here with my sister from Nottingham. Being a Pommy, he’s nervous around things that slither and crawl, which is unfortunate when you are staying in leafy, insecty, spidery, snakey, Hornswood.

Let me recount Carrot’s first day in Australia.

I had made a poem for him, so he’d know what’s really dangerous in Oz, and what isn’t.


Australia has a myriad of spiders,

that can bite and really hurt.

The ones to be shit-scared of Carrot,

are the black ones, in the dirt.


Oz is full of many snakes,

most won’t try to bring you down.

The only ones who’ll fu#k you Carrot,

are the big ones, coloured brown.


So my lovely wife Isabel and I went in two cars to the International airport because they had heaps of luggage. Carrot and I were packing the bags in the back of mine, in the car park.

I politely opened the passenger’s door for Carrot. He went to get in and then recoiled in absolute horror.


Sitting in the centre of the passenger seat, was the most enormous Huntsman I have ever seen. Even by Hornswood big-arse-spider standards, it was huge. It looked like a Blue Swimmer crab and seemed to be rising up and down as it breathed.

I had seen Mr Huntsman a few days ago, as he ran across the outside of my windscreen and nearly gave me a heart attack. But I’d forgotten about him.

Me – “LOOK OUT CARROT!” I moved him aside. I was pretty keen to get rid of this unwanted arachnid.

Not wearing thongs, the quintessential Aussie spider-crushing tool, I had to squash him with the size ten Blundstone boot I was wearing. As I lifted my foot, he ran under the seat. Luckily he popped out on the floor of the back.


I landed a boot flush on top of the monster and squashed him flat! I don’t like spiders. I don’t “rehome” them. I was happy with myself for exterminating this one, considering it was in my vehicle.

I looked to Carrot. His mouth was ajar. His face was bloodless and being a Pom he already had a predominantly whitish hue.

Carrot – “WHAT WAS THAT?”

Me – “It’s ok. It’s a Huntsman. Big, but harmless.”

Carrot – “Harmless? Then why’s it called A HUNTS-MAN? I don’t mean to be rude but what sort of country is this? I’m still at the f#cken AIRPORT!”

About six hours later, he had calmed down and was drinking a good Aussie VB and wandering around our Hornswood backyard. All of a sudden he was waving and signaling for me to come down and check out something distressing about our gum tree.


I hurried down to the backyard. Carrot was hesitantly standing guard at the tree.


Carrot (quite agitated) – “Over here mate. C’mon. Please.”

I was hoping, after he was airport-carpark-Huntsman’d, that he hadn’t stumbled upon anything worse. Our house backs onto thick Hornswood bush and a creek, so spiders, leaches and ticks, even the odd snake, are pretty commonplace. He was staring intently at the gum tree when I arrived.

He was very agitated, beckoned me over and silently pointed at the threat. I was on my guard but I came in close.

Now keep in mind poor Carrot had only been in the country a few hours, and there, you wouldn’t believe it, hanging on the side of the big gum tree that I’ve been past a thousand times, was a fairly large, brown… cicada shell.

Carrot – “LOOK OUT! What is it?” He was standing safely behind me.

I couldn’t help but laugh, loudly.

Me – “Carrot, you can relax. It’s just a cicada shell.”


Me – “It’s a harmless insect.”

Carrot – “Insect? IT’S NEAR AS BIG AS ME F#CKEN HAND.”

Me – “Yeah, it outgrew that shell is all.”

Carrot – “You’re joking? NOW IT’S BIGGER?”

Me – “They’re nice though. Very Aussie. You can hear them beating their wings all-”


Anyway, we were sitting on the veranda later and after three or four more VB’s I managed to calm Carrot down. He was actually starting to relax and see the funny side of his introduction to Aussie nature. But then a Christmas beetle kamikazed into his hair. I didn’t warn him not to sit under the light.

He jumped up but, with a seemingly newfound degree of mature resignation, he just dropped his head and laughed. He laughed and he laughed. We all did. Through the laughter Carrot did say “I don’t think I can do this”. But he laughed again.

I told him that’s exactly what he needed to do. Go with the flow. Don’t try to stand up against Mother Nature in Australia. She’s just too powerful here. You can keep her under control in Europe, but here you must learn to get along with Mother Nature and don’t be bothered by her presence. I said to him, just like you were a puny, white-skinned little Pommy boy who’s having his life made miserable by the soccer-loving school-yard bully back home, just try to co-exist!

In a moment of absolute epiphany, it dawned on him that mine was actually sage-like advice. I could see, right before my eyes, him take on a new perspective. Just at that moment, he’d completely altered the way he was going to approach his new life in this country. He’d got it wrong! He’d have to become positive about our closeness to nature. He had to embrace it, not hate it!

His bright new perspective lasted right up to the point that he sat down on the veranda to put on his shoes and a bull-ant bit him… on the scrotum.

It was a tough first day in Oz.

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I’m sure he wont have any problems with me putting it out there into the public domain, but when we were in primary school, my little brother Linc had behavioral issues. They were convinced he was hyperactive, so being the 70s he received more than his share of Phenergan. But looking back now, maybe it wasn’t completely his fault.

I am three years older. I don’t remember ever bashing or physically bullying him, however I pranked and took the piss out him, mercilessly.

One Wednesday during the school holidays our grandparents took us, along with my sister and mum, to the David Jones Dining Room in the city. We were born and raised at Bilgola and back then, DJ’s was about the flashest place we ever went. We knew we had to be on our absolute best behavior. We had to have showers, comb our hair, wear collared shirts and no sandals! I even had to wear my special Rockie Racoon dress sloppy-joe.


So we were sitting there, all dressed up, us kids bored out of our minds in the restaurant. Mum kept giving us “don’t you dare embarrass me” looks from the other end of the table with the adults, so we just sat.

I thought of something to do to keep us entertained. I unscrewed the cap from the pepper shaker and poured all the pepper and the mysterious bits of rice into my hand.

Me (ten years old, to my seven year old brother) – “Look Linc!”

When my brother, who was sitting next to me turned around, I blew the entire contents of the pepper shaker into his face.

He screamed and started gouging at his eyes. He sneezed, yelled, coughed, tried to breathe, his eyes and nose ran. He squirmed around in his chair.

Mum spun to us. I gave her a shrug, as if to say I don’t know what the hell he’s doing now.

She did one of those yells at him, which are not big on volume, but big on fear factor.


My brother managed to do a heavy-breathing, stagger to the bathroom.

I gave mum a thumbs up, to signify that my sister and I would keep him under control. It’d all be ok.

After a long time Linc made his way back to our table. He was wobbling a little, he kept rubbing his eyes that were as red as the number 3 pool ball, he was breathing with a wheeze and when he sneezed a small cloud of pepper flew up from his hair. However, he was fine and the old “condiment in the face” gag had certainly broken the monotony.

Mum continued to give him the old stink eye from the other end of the table.

When Linc sat down, he looked around for his glass of Coke. He knew he’d finished it, but was desperate for there to be that one final skerrick left in the bottom. Anything to ease some of the pepper burn. His mood lifted dramatically when he spotted his glass on the other side of the table, noticed the bottom ¾ of his bright green straw, was Coke-dark. He still had a sip left!

I handed him his glass without any shenanigans. I knew he needed it. I couldn’t help but feel partially responsible for his pepperisation.

My brother then sucked in ¾ of a green straw full of Worcestershire Sauce!

Apparently, his drink had been interfered with, when he was in the bathroom.

He collapsed to the DJ’s Dining Room fancy carpeted floor, gasping for air, retching and thrashing around. Making quite the scene.

I hooked a thumb in his direction and gave Mum a look that said, this guy! What are we going to do? It’s getting harder and harder to control him. Phenergan time?

Linc continued to writhe around on the floor and looked like he was possibly about to die.


Later that night, Linc (who still cannot eat oysters Kilpatrick to this day) was still wheezing and his eyes were still red, so I thought I’d make it up to him.

Me – “You’re always complaining you can’t beat me at anything because I’m older, well let’s have a comp to see who can last the entire night in the shoe cupboard.”

Linc – “That’s stupid!”

Me – “Well, the shoe cupboard’s tiny. You’d have a big chance of winning.”

My brother was interested. So we spent the next half hour working out the rules.

(1) You obviously cannot remove the shoes. So we had to sleep in a tiny, cramped box, wedged on top of Dunlop Volleys, brown school shoes, Ugh boots, thongs, gum boots, sandals and dress Desert Boots.

(2) You can’t leave the cupboard except to go to the dunny.

(3) The cupboard door had to be closed the whole time.

(4) We tossed a coin, my brother won and took the first go.

During the night I knew he hadn’t shoe-cupboard-suffocated because every hour or so, I’d hear a relieving Worcestershire Sauce and pepper cough. He did indeed last the whole night with the door closed, except when I had to open it once to throw in a sandal, which I found under our double bunks.

When he slowly extricated himself from the shoe cupboard the next morning, it looked like one of those bizarre contortionists we used to see on “That’s Incredible”. First one leg popped out, then an arm flopped out.

He looked like a skinny Quasimodo, but he was so excited that he’d made it through the entire night.


Me – “It’s ok,” I said with to him with a pat on the back. “I don’t have to spend the night in the cupboard.”

Linc – “Why not?” He looked concerned.

Me – “You win.”

I walked off.

Linc – “What?”

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My brother Linc shares my addiction to KFC, but not my KFC retention problem. Twenty or so years ago, he was living in Wimbledon with our sister “Doc”, directly opposite KFC! The dream location.

Linc hadn’t been in the dirty bird for days, so he was hanging for his 2-Piece Feed.

Linc (starving) – “Hi, could I please have a 2-Piece Feed and swap the drink and the roll, for a piece of corn?”

KFC worker Lenny – “I’m very sorry, no.”

Linc – “But you’re 70p better off.”

Lenny – “Swap the drink and roll for a buttery-golden-corn?”

Linc – “You got it.”

Lenny – I’m very sorry, no.”


Linc – “I feel we’re getting nowhere here Lenny. Could you ask your manager?”

Lenny – “I know what she’ll say.”

Linc – “What?”

Lenny – “I’m very sorry, no.”

Linc tried a new approach. He hunkered in closely to speak, man-to-man.

Linc – “Leeenny, we’re reasonable men. You’re just doing your job, and doing it damn well by the way. Can you make this happen for me? Nobody needs to know but us Lenny, if you know what I mean.”

Lenny – I’m very sorry, no.”

Linc (now feeling just a tad angry) – “I’m feeling just a tad angry here Lenny. You’re potentially ruining my finger-licking-good experience.”

Lenny – “What if everybody wanted to do it?”

Linc – “What if word of your customer-pleasing attitude gets out, there is a ground-swell and you’re suddenly awash with customers trying to get some of the buttery-golden-corn swap action that results in you making an extra 70p each time?”

Lenny – “Yeah. What if everybody wanted it?”

Linc – “Here’s an idea, (my brother beckoned for Lenny to lean closer and cupped his hands around his mouth). ORDER MORE FREAKIN’ CORN!!”

As a result the Shift-Manager came around the counter.

Shift-Manager – “What’s going on?”

Now I am not passing judgement in any way (being 112.4kg I am in no position to), however the Shift-Manager was… obese.

Linc – “The discussion seems a bit out of the jurisdiction of Lenny here. With just a tiny bit of flexibility, you have the opportunity to make an extra 70p profit for the owner of this fine establishment and keep one of your most regular customers, extremely happy. A win/win if I ever heard it.”

Shift-Manager – “No.”

My brother thought he should use her name. He dropped his gaze to the name tag, pinned near her highly-stressed buttons.


Now this next part sounds made up, but I kid you not, this is how it happened.

Linc, flustered, accidentally got tongue-tied on the name.

Linc – “Listen here, Fat… Fatima.”

Oh no, he thought, did I just stutter and call this obese Shift-Manager, FAT Fatima? Maybe she missed it.

By the time he raised his eyes, she was fuming. Fit to burst!

Shift-Manager Fatima (she pointed right into Linc’s face) – “Lifetime ban!”

Linc – “Oh God no! I’ve got a two-year lease.”

Shift-Manager Fatima (yelling out) – “STAFF, IF THIS MAN EVER SETS FOOT IN HERE AGAIN, RING THE POLICE.” She waddled back to the office.

My brother left, distraught.

He sat at home for two days, going cold turkey (excuse the pun) and feeling like his world had come to an end. Living in a unit which looked directly at KFC, and not being able to walk in for a fix, is a situation akin to torture for either my brother or myself.

That was until he thought of… sending Doc!

This went on for about three weeks. Doc would buy the stuff he needed and sneak it back to their unit (via the back door so Shift-Manager Fatima would not see).


One day Doc’s in the KFC queue. She feels a chubby little Shift-Manager Fatima finger, poke her on the shoulder.

Doc froze.

Shift-Manager Fatima – “You’re in here a lot, with your Australian accent ordering, buttery-golden-corn with your 2-Piece Feed.”

My sister was totally freaked out, but stood mute.

Shift-Manager Fatima – “Reminds me of another Australian, who received a… lifetime… ban! You wouldn’t know anything about that would you??”



Doc – “OF COURSE I KNOW!” My sister in reality had no idea what happens if you buy KFC for a lifer.

Shift-Manager Fatima – “I’m watching you.”

So Doc sheepishly bought KFC for Linc, herself and their friend James who was due to arrive at their place any minute and snuck her way back into their unit.

Later, their doorbell rang and Doc got up to let James in. When she let out a squeal, Linc, buttery-golden-corn in hand, rushed to the door.

He saw my sister, ashen. In front of her stood Shift-Manager Fatima, puffing from having crossed the road.

Shift-Manager Fatima – “LIFETIME BAN MISSY!”

So there are now TWO lifers from Wimbledon KFC. Both my siblings.

True story.

And by the way, it’s not the first time my brother’s done something stupied, check it out (https://writehandman.com.au/2016/03/20/how-to-offend-at-a-mothers-gathering-a-blog-by-jase-gram/)

Check out my new writing business, which allows me to claim at parties that I am in fact, a professional writer (www.hornswoodexpress.com.au). It’d be REALLY awesome if you left a comment on my blog, Share via the Facebook button below, or just give the Facebook post a thumbs up. Cheers.


Because of a few incidents at my son’s school over the years, my eleven-year-old daughter made me promise not to do anything that would embarrass her. This was last Saturday and we were on our way to the pre-HLC (Hornswood Ladies College), so us parents could get debriefed and shown around, while the girls sat exams to decide their classes for next year.

So my daughter goes off with the rest of the kids and I desperately needed a coffee. We had half an hour before the Head Mistress kicked things off, so with my wife and a mate of mine who we’ll call “Sam” (because like the Cowardly Lion, he has chosen not to be identified), we left the big group of new parents and headed to the cafeteria.

On the way back we peered in to the new, amazing, pool-centre, that we hadn’t seen from the inside before. Being a Saturday, Pool Closed (and no food or drink) signs were numerous and all the doors were locked. Except one, which was fully open.

Sam and I snuck in for a look, my wife (who has never broken a rule in her life) refused and went back to all the other parents.

After checking the place out, I had made my way to the doorways at the other end of the pool. Of course they were locked. I was going to have to walk all the way back to the door through which we had entered. Or…

Sam noticed me standing in front of the one door marked –


Sam – “DON’T DO IT.”

He had to raise his voice for me to hear, because he was still over feeling the pool temperature.


I opened the door.


The loudest, sharpest, most earsplitting siren you’ve ever heard. I freaked out.

Me – “SAM!!! HELP!!!”


I can see Sam yelling and gesticulating wildly. I couldn’t make out what he’s saying.



Sam is yelling and running over to me. I was confident he’d have a solution.



I let the door go. The alarm immediately stopped.

Now, it’s not like we’re kids anymore. We did what we had to do. We legged-it!

Sam is a svelte, fleet-of-foot, 78kg, marathon runner. He takes off smoothly and gracefully with the speed of a startled gazelle. His coffee barely even moved in its cup and in just a few short moments, he’s back at the door waiting for me.

I on the other hand am not designed for sprinting. I am a 112.3kg, beer-drinking, blogging, man of girth.

I legged-it into a slow jog, but my coffee started to splash around everywhere, so I fast-walked it the rest of the way.

Half an hour later, I was sitting next to Sam in the big hall, with our wives and about 250 parents. The Head Mistress was in the middle of a wonderful, welcoming and informative speech about what we as new parents could expect next year. She was, as were all the staff I met to be honest, as impressive as the school.

Sam (whispering) – “I still can’t believe you opened that door Cool Hand.” Most of my mates call me by this self-ascribed poker call-sign.

Me (also whispering) – “Mate hindsight is 20/20! Of course it’s obvious now, but I was in the hot seat and had to make the call one way or the other.”

Sam shook his head.

Me – “But its ok. All the other parents saw us running out after the alarm yes, but… they… don’t… know… our… names. We are anonymous! Phantoms! The ghosts who walk. They’ll forget our faces by the time our kids school starts.”

I had my phone on silent, my wife had reminded me a number of times. I suddenly remembered I had to check out Scotland’s price in the Rugby League Four Nations, so I picked my phone up and whispered in it.

Here’s an interesting fact. On an iPhone, even though it’s on silent, Siri still answers… AT FULL VOLUME.

The Head Mistress had paused her speech for a second to draw breath. The entire hall was dead silent. You could hear a pin drop. But you didn’t hear a pin drop, you heard my Siri –


Every head within Siri-shot spun around to look at me. To look at JASON, who’s opening his T.A.B APP during the Head Mistress’ speech. I slowly lowered my phone from my mouth guiltily.

Why didn’t I just open the App manually?

Sam and his wife Di, burst out laughing. As did the hundred or so people sitting around me. They laughed loud. They laughed long. Now they knew my name!

I heard my wife say, oh my God.

After all the induction was done, my wife and I were chatting to one of the teachers. She was telling us about the school, how they empower all the girls to make decisions themselves and of course how important rules are. I was nodding.

Teacher – “Yep, rules around here are pretty important.”

Was she on to us? If she knew, then I’d have to cop to it and say I was embarrassed that I must have missed the pool closed and door alarmed signs… and that Sam was there too! But I didn’t want to confess, if we’d gotten away with it.

Teacher (looking directly at me) – “Yep… rules! Anyway, I’d best go meet a few other parents. Have a good day… Nice pool isn’t it?”


It’s good to see a teacher with a sense of humour.

My daughter was not happy. My wife told her at the earliest opportunity, that within the first hour, her father had been pegged as a sign-ignoring, siren-fleeing, exam-interrupting, Head-Mistress-unheeding, punting, responsibility-denier.

My daughter – “You can’t go back to the school again dad, for six years!”

Here’s the link to one of my previous blogs, which illustrates how my son was equally mortified when I had a chat to the Shore headmaster. Check it out – https://writehandman.com.au/2016/02/22/an-awkward-moment-with-the-shore-headmaster-a-blog-by-jase-gram/

It’d be REALLY awesome if you left a comment on my blog, Share via the Facebook button below, or just give the Facebook post a thumbs up. Check out my new writing business, which allows me to now claim I am in fact, a professional writer (www.hornswoodexpress.com.au). Cheers.



One of the great movie lines, by none other than the amazing Russell Crowe. It’s memorable, it’s powerful, but when you’ve been drinking with the boys all day and you deliver it to Rusty himself… not so much.

I was with five mates on Geoff’s old, mid-sized yacht, anchored at Woolloomooloo. We were staying the night on the boat, so the six of us had been drinking irresponsibly all day.

My buddy Tony and I are MASSIVE Rusty fans. We’ve watched Gladiator many times, quoted it often and regularly dreamed of being the Gladiator. You can imagine our excitement upon learning on social media that Rusty himself had been sighted partying on an enormous cruiser, just off Woolloomooloo Bay Hotel, 200m away!

We could see his cruiser! Rusty!

Geoff – “Cool Hand (my self-ascribed poker call-sign) we’ve been drinking heavily since midday, it’s now 11:00pm. We’re all maggotted! It would be insane for me to drive anywhere, especially through that throng of mega-boats. It’s pitch black!”

Me – “But it’s Rusty! You know how many Gladiator quotes Tony and I know. He’ll love us. What’s the worst that could happen?”

Geoff – “Ok I’m in!”

There we were, motoring slowly through all the multi-million dollar boats, with a legless captain, drunk crew, on our way to pull up next to the Gladiator. Ooh yeah!

We weren’t crazy. We positioned two blokes at the front, to signal if there was anything coming up Geoff had to avoid. I stood on the side of the yacht and waited until we were close enough to possibly spot Rusty.

I was getting nervous. I could actually see my idol standing with a group of beautiful people at the back of the enormous cruiser (our yacht was not huge, so we lacked a bit of nautical cred).

As we neared, Tone and I had already planned which line I would throw first.


I could see Rusty clearly, when our two spotters started to get a little agitated.

Mike (at the front of our boat) – “GEOFF, THERE’S A MOORED DINGHY STRAIGHT AHEAD. VEER TO PORT.”

Geoff, driving from the back of the yacht, did not react.

Col – “GEOFF! YOU’RE GOING TO HIT A DINGHY IF YOU DON’T GO TO PORT SIDE!!” They were waving their hands around frantically. Geoff plowed on ahead, unmoved.

Being in the middle of the boat, I could hear Captain Geoff was saying something. Inebriated as I was, I knew this was probably spotter-essential information.


I WOULD WALK FIVE HUNDRED MILES AND I... Oh no, he was singing.

We were so close to Rusty now, he was staring straight at us.

Me (dropping my voice a couple of octaves) – “MY NAME IS MAXIMUS DE-”


We went straight over the dinghy and the mooring and our yacht slammed to a sudden, noisy halt. With a yell, my bourbon and I went flying. I landed on my side with a thud, nearly went overboard and was only saved by that annoying knee-high wire that runs around the boat.

We all picked ourselves up. I gave Rusty a thumbs-up to signify I was ok and we all made our way to the back of the boat.


Geoff – “Sorry (with a chuckle), too drunk to react.”

We realised Rusty was still standing there watching us.


I gave Tony a nicely-selected-and-presented-quote, nod.

Geoff picked up the closest knife from the table and dived overboard.

Keep in mind, it was the middle of the night, the current was strong, we were in Sydney Harbour and he’s as full as a Hornswood train. I assumed Geoff was going to be taken by some sea-predator (who would have thought himself pretty lucky with a beer-infused late-night meal), drown or be run over by Rusty’s cruiser which had its engine running.

Tony – “MY NAME IS GLADIATOR.” Rusty was still standing there watching us. He did not react.

Me – “Tone, you have to drop a couple of octaves.”

Matt – “Geoff took the cheese knife.”

I hurriedly leaned over the side.

Me – “WHAT WE DO IN LIFE, ECHOES AN ETERNITY.” I put a concerted effort into that line, it was one of the biggies. Despite my drinking, I was pretty sure I sounded Gladiatorial.

After a while we started to get a little concerned for Geoff. The water was black as pitch and we could not see him.

Tony – “AT MY SIGNAL, UNLEASH HELL!” Still no reaction from Rusty, but he kept on looking at us.

Me – “Nice tone… Tone.” Tony and I high-fived.

With a loud TWANG sound and a jerking motion, we knew Geoff had cut us free. It was a relief for about thirty seconds, until we realised we were drifting rapidly towards Rusty’s cruiser. Geoff was still somewhere in the water. We started to panic a little. We didn’t know how to drop the motorized anchor chain, nor start the engine.

Tony – “WHATEVER COMES OUT OF THESE GATES, WE’VE GOT A BETTER CHANCE OF SURVIVAL IF WE WORK TOGETHER.” Due to our panic, he didn’t deliver that line with anywhere near the passion it deserved.

Suddenly Geoff materialized, sopping wet with our cheese knife between his teeth. We cheered, he started the engine and slammed the boat into reverse. We eventually came to a halt, about three metres from making the front page of the Daily Telegraph.

I knew I only had one final chance to impress Rusty, in hope of him leaning over the side and saying, hey lads, you’re pretty passionate with those quotes. Why don’t I join you?

Me – “STRENGTH AND HONOUR.” I put my fist over my heart.

Rusty leaned over the side. We all rushed to hear him.

Rusty – “You guys are f#cking idiots.” He walked off. His voice sounded different.

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In the 80s, us blokes of the North Shore, were definitely homophobic. We had great hair and fantastic shoes, but we were homophobic.

Things changed a little in the 90s, undoubtedly due to cool, gay characters on Roseanne and Melrose Place and we became more “homo-averse”, than homophobic.

In the new millennium, with Arrested Development and 30 Rock, we watered down our long-held prejudices to just “homo-skittish”.

However, House Husbands and Modern Family, allowed further improvement, so we are currently sitting at only “homo-concerned”. An advancement.

I’m thinking, we can do even better Hornswood lads. We can make it to… “homo-indifferent

Here’s my random thoughts:

  • We must start to deride the Hornswoodian homophobe, to make lives vastly more comfortable for gay kids into the future.
  • For those who don’t know me, I’m not gay, my son’s certainly not, but one of my oldest and closest mates is. The gay community, may be mortified to have a straight guy who writes as politically-incorrectly as I do, speaking like a crusader for gay rights.
  • Being a “crusader” sounds pretty cool, I picture noble Sir Jase, in chain mail, on a war-horse, brigand-smoting with broadsword and shield, on my way to the local tavern for a tankard of ale with my favourite wench.
  • I work in the Eastern suburbs and over there, there’s no shortage of gay blokes, being couples… and… NOBODY… CARES. Hornswood is a wonderful place to live, but it’s an indictment on us, that there are basically no outwardly gay men strolling around Hornswood Westfield! Gay Hornswood sons, live a lie, or they move away.

Me (playing pool at Hornswood RSL with a few mates) – “That’s the worst freaken shot I have ever seen at a pool table Fracas. You could choke on sherbet!”

Fracas (aka Mike) – “I saw your fag mate the other day. He’s a good bloke.”

Me – “Whoa, whoa, whoa Fracas! I’m trying to diminish the level of homophobia in Hornswood. “Fag” or “faggot” are literally the most offensively demeaning things you can call a gay bloke? It’s like using the N word to an African-American.”

Fracas – “Huh? Faggot, gay, poof, queer. Same thing.”

Me – Faggot is hurtful. If you insist on describing him by his sexuality, which is weird in itself, but if you must, call him gay.”

  • Most Hornswood blokes, don’t have any really close mates that are (outwardly) gay, because they just don’t live in the area. Some may have a next door neighbour’s cousin that’s gay, or know a guy from work, but I’m talking about Hornswoodians being mates with a gay guy. It’s rare and it’s half the problem. Exposure, promotes tolerance.

Fracas – “Half these blokes only go gay ‘cause it’s trendy.”

Me – “Seriously? They voluntarily choose to be part of a harassed minority? They side-jump because it’s stylish? I don’t know how little your sexuality means to you Fracas, but I really don’t think I could find some bloke’s schlong attractive, even if it meant being invited to a few more parties on the weekend… THEY’RE BORN GAY! Maybe you should focus a little more on your shot and a little less on your fanciful gay-lifestyle theories.”

  • Too often when there’s media coverage of issues like gay marriage or adoption, they flash to footage of shaved, gay men, dancing up on a Mardi Gras float, wearing arse-less chaps and a “wake up the gimp” mask. This unfair stereotype is seared into our brain.
  • For f#cks sake, let them get married. What is this 1950?
  • I’m generalising of course, but gay blokes are more promiscuous and take part in wilder things, than us. OF COURSE THEY DO. THEY’RE… BLOKES… I would guess in 95% of hetero relationships, it’s the woman who is the hand-brake when things get too kinky in the bedroom. Whether you’re into just plain old missionary, or it’s “lion-on-the-cheese-grater” position for you, it’s rarely the bloke going to say “no, let’s not do that” or “let’s not put that in there” or “that’s just too weird.

Fracas – “It’s just not natural.”

Me – “You kidding? If you’re born a certain way (with an open hand intimating him), tall, dark-haired, thin lips, that’s nature right? Nature, which you’re apparently such a fan of, has… made… them… gay. Anyway, if it was all left up to what’s natural, we wouldn’t be here with ineptitude-illustrating pool tables, Fox Sports and chicken schnitty.

Me – “So of course Fracas, if you were a single man and you picked up a thin-lip-seeking hot lady, as unlikely as that seems, you’d have to let her know ahead of time your absolute aversion to anything… unnatural.”

Fracas – “I got thin lips?”

  • We Hornswood men, just like moonshine-distilling, varmint-eating, cousin-marryin’, hillbillies, will not be told how to think or feel, by outsiders. So any politically-correct, Green-voting, man-bun-wearing, vegan, gay rights activist from Surry Hills, would have no chance getting Hornswood blokes to progress to homo-indifferent. We only change from within.
  • “Brokeback Mountain” was a wonderful movie, but “that scene”, you know, the one in the tent, was just too graphic and made too many straight blokes uncomfortable. It dramatically slowed Hornswood’s progression by galvanizing the Homophobes and giving them a focal point to take the piss out of (no doubt, the opposite of the true intentions of the movie makers).

Fracas – “I hate poofs.”

Me – “You hate gays Fracas? You’re a family man! Isn’t life too short? Isn’t there enough violence and pain in the world, without keeping room in your heart for hating Hornswoodians that in no way interfere with you or your family! Why bother?”

Fracas – “I just don’t like th-”

Me – “NOBODY IS ASKING YOU TO LIKE ANYTHING FRACAS, just don’t hate! And don’t teach your kids to hate. Hate a guy if he doesn’t shout (I waved my empty beer glass in front of his face), if he supports the Brisbane Broncos or has wafer thin lips. But not if he’s gay.”

  • Hornswood dads will do anything for their kids. Burdening them with our outdated bigotries (via poofter jokes and fag comments), will place our kids behind the eight-ball, when they head into the politically-correct workplaces of the future.

Me – “Fracas, what if your best mate from Hornswood Rugby Club came out? Like my mate did.”

Fracas – “Well we wouldn’t be showering together after the game anymore and I’d be gettin’ a new mate.”

Me – “There’s just no way he could possibly resist coming on to you? Thin lips and all? If you dropped your guard for a minute, he’d be there trying to make you gay? You’d seriously forsake your mate? Jeez, remind me never to be stuck in a Gallipoli trench with you Fracas.”

  • It’s a small point I know, but the term “coming out of the closet” is too theatrical and sounds too camp, for a lot of Hornswood dads and sons to consider. If we called it “bloking-up” or “fighting-out” or something, then more blokes may do it, or not judge too harshly blokes who do.

Fracas – “I wouldn’t want one teaching my son.”

Me – “But you’re happy to have a straight guy teach your daughter? Believe me Fracas, any poor gay bloke who did end up teaching your son, probably wouldn’t be all that happy having one of his student’s dads being a bigoted, sherbet-choking, Broncos-jersey-wearing, thin-lipper! And mate when you say one, it makes them sound like a species.”

  • Hornswoodians, imagine having all those terrible gay slurs, angry comments and piss-taking remarks, being aimed at one of your kids.
  • I’ve heard Hornswood women, when some bloke is loudly and consistently making anti-gay statements, imply that he may actually be gay himself. A “methinks he doth protests too much”, sort of thing. But I don’t think that’s the case. Most those blokes aren’t trying to cover up their own gayness. They are actually anti-gay. That’s the problem!
  • Apparently about 5% of the population is gay. I would suggest that maybe 0.5% of Hornswood is openly gay. That means there are hundreds of blokes depressingly living a lie and never truly relaxing with the people closest to them. Hornswood kids should be worried about pimples, how their footy team is going and exams, not hiding a thing that goes to the absolute core of who they are… their sexuality.
  • I cannot comprehend how the hell a person hides being gay. I’d have no chance. The first time I got really pissed at the pub with the lads, I’d end up yelling out “JEEZ YOU LOOK GOOD IN THOSE JEANS BOY”. I couldn’t get away with it.
Jeans. Jeans.

Let’s go for homo-indifferent and make life a hell of a lot less depressing for young guys in Hornswood. We can’t change the world, but we can change Hornswood.

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Billy Joel mentions a bottle of red, bottle of white. Our issue was, when we went to “La Hornswood” Italian restaurant, a bottle of bourbon, bottle of scotch. We were with five other couples, for my wonderful wife’s 30th.

I was sitting between Psycho Dave and Irwin (so called for his safari-suit-coloured wardrobe), my biggest drinking mates. We were… smashed.

Isabel was… angry.

It came up in conversation that I could only do twenty push-ups and Irwin was up me! Big time.

Irwin – “TWENTY SWEETHEART? ONLY TWENTY COOL HAND?” (My self-ascribed, poker call-sign)

Me – “You’re not exactly at your fighting-weight Irwin. How many could you do?

He thinks to himself, stands, stumbles and announces to everybody in La Hornswood:


Me (dismissively) – “You can’t do fifty.


Me – “I know your sister!


My wife looked angry as hell that we were making such a scene. She mouthed “DON’T” to me. Irwin was wearing me down.


I tried to ignore him, but he was yelling to the whole restaurant.


Me (interjecting) – “ALL RIGHT!! What’s the bet?

My wife and I, for the previous ten weeks, had been taking part in a weight-loss competition with Irwin and his wife Mary. The losing couple, had to spend $500 on the winning couple in the Hunter Valley on a weekend for us all (it was a while ago). We lost, so we owed them the weekend.


Me – “Done.”

I immediately had my shoulder whacked by the birthday girl, with fury in her Spanish eyes.

My wife – “This is not one of your drunken boy’s nights. Don’t you DARE bet him. That money’s for us all to have a lovely weekend.”

Irwin, swayed and made a really authentic whip-cracking sound, complete with the whipping action. My cheeks burned.


Whip. Whip.

Irwin (looking at me with mock sympathy) – “IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT you’re whipped. There’s nothing wrong with being scared of your wife…

Me – “Irwin why-

Irwin (interjecting) – “IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.”

      Me – “Just-

Irwin (interjecting again) – “IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.”

      Me – “Why’d-”

Irwin (and again)– “IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.”

Me – “TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY.” That would hopefully not result in divorce


Irwin – “OK.” He was back to five hundred.

Alessandro, the young Italian waiter nominated himself as our umpire. We offered Irwin one last chance to pull out.


We had to move five tables for push-up space. The patrons didn’t mind as they were right in the spirit of the competition.

Psycho Dave and I high-fived, when Irwin stumbled and only stopped himself from falling by shoving a hand into the plate of avocado-veal (which we replaced) being eaten by a big dude on the next table.

Anyway, I became extremely nervous when Irwin speedily got up to about 30 push-ups. The entire restaurant, the staff and the chef, were counting out-loud as he went.

But when he got to 35, he really started to struggle. His arms shook, he sweated out pure bourbon and scotch. Like the building of an ancient Pyramid, his butt was slowly but surely, getting higher and higher.

Come 41, Alessandro, with a theatrical double-sweep of the hands, reminiscent of the referee in Rocky II counting out Apollo Creed, disqualified Irwin.

Psycho Dave and I leapt into the air. Not only did we win the bets, but we let a mate humiliate himself in public! The whole place erupted with cheers. Irwin had not won over the La Hornswood patrons.

Mary and Isabel, livid, left.

The next day I rang Irwin, who woke up freezing on the lawn, to check he wasn’t divorced or dead.

Irwin (husky-voiced) – “Yeah, that was somewhat disappointing. You know when you’re really pissed, and you sort of black out for a while. That was last night. When I came to, I was in the middle of the restaurant, people cheering and me doing push-ups. I had no idea why I was doing them, all I knew was that I had to do as many as possible.”

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NRL (aka League) and Rugby Union, have very different fan bases, at least they do amongst my friends.

I have great mates who live in the Western suburbs of Sydney and they absolutely love their NRL. A few years ago I watched the NRL Grand Final with them, in Campbelltown (a long way from Hornswood). I also have great mates who live in Hornswood and they absolutely adore their Rugby Union. I watched the Bledisloe Cup with them, in Roseville (Rugby Union heartland).



Me to my NRL mate, Grand Final night – “Howdy Crotch-Rot, where do I shove my Coronas?

NRL mate – “You don’t want me to answer that, because the answer involves your arse! Coronas? Oooh la-di-da… very fancy! Chuck ‘em in the f#cking esky! Just near the bottle of Bundy that the fat prick brought.

Me – “I tried, but the esky’s full of VB and Reschs!


Me to my Rugby Union mate, Bledisloe night – “Hello James, where do I place my Coronas?

Rugby Union mate – “Coronas?? Cheap cat’s excrement! Put them in the glass-faced fridge. Just near the bottle of Pinot Gris Andrew brought.

Me – “I tried, but the fridge’s full of Asahi and Grolsch!



Me to my NRL mate – “Hey Scumbag, nice aqua coloured flannel. Too good for you. Where’d you get it?

NRL mate – “F#ck knows. The missus bought it. Lowes in Macarthur Square I think. It’s not aqua!

Me – “Does your sister know you’re wearing her shirt? Nice handlebar moustache too… not as good as your sister’s.


Me to my Rugby Union mate – “Hey Andrew, nice pink shirt. Where’d you get it?

Rugby Union mate – “Thanks you Jase. Egyptian cotton mixed with Belgian linen. I got it from my London tailor. It’s not pink though, it’s fuchsia.

Me – “Huh, it looks local.



Me to my NRL mate – “Jeez that barbie smells great dick head. What are you burning the crap out of for us?

NRL mate – “Shit head, we got T-bones and we got snags!

Me – “I’m so hungry I could eat Kym Beazley stuffed with bacon.

Me to my Rugby Union mate – “Gee whiz that barbecue smells great Walter. What are we having?

Rugby Union mate – “Jase we have Wagyu scotch fillet and we have pheasant-camembert-pistachio sausages.

Me – “I’m so hungry I could eat Joe Hockey stuffed with quinoa.



Me to my NRL mate – “I got a Bradman on this game Dirty Phil, you got any bets on?

NRL mate – “Yeah. I won fiddy on the pokies, so I put it on the Doggies at minus five and half.

Me – “Good bet.


Me to my Rugby Union mate – “I have a hundred dollars wagered on this game Cameron, have you got any on?

Rugby Union mate – “No way! You’re a compulsive gambler Jase. I can’t believe how much you bet on a football match

Me – “Huh? You just put $30,000 into Billabong options based on one article you read in the Financial Review!



Me to my NRL mate – “You going away for the holidays Swineherder?

NRL mate – “Ooh shit yeah. Taking the caravan to the Central Coast. Fishing, surfing, snorkeling, sunbaking, kayaking, beers and barbies.

Me – “You could have just said going to the Central Coast, wanker.”


Me to my Rugby Union mate – “You going away for the holidays Robert?

Rugby Union mate – “Ooh yeah. Going heli-skiing in Normandy.

Me – “You could have just said going to France or skiing, tosser.



Me to my NRL mate – “What do you think of Rugby Union, root-master? I’ll be watching the Bledisloe with a whole bunch of Roseville mates.

NRL mate – “I F#CKING HATE THAT GAME. Too many stoppages, feigning of injuries, the number of fat-boy players, the ref’s interpretations can screw the game and it’s just sooooo bloody complicated. It’s designed for your silver-spoon, SBS-watching, BMW-driving, private-school, trust fund, lobster-nibbling, tax-evading, suit-wearing, white-collar snob mates.

Me – “It’s the thinking man’s game root-master, and you’re obviously just not a thinker.


Me to my Rugby Union mate – “What do you think of NRL, Xavier? I’ll be watching the Grand Final with a whole bunch of Campbelltown mates.

Rugby Union mate – “I REALLY HATE THAT GAME. It’s so predictable, bash it up the centre five times and then kick. Their scrums are a joke and the players all take turns being arrested! It’s played by thugs and morons, for the viewing pleasure of your wage-earning, Pauline Hanson-voting, tree-removing, TAB-visiting, KFC-eating, Home And Away-watching, Commodore driving mates.

Me – “You are such a freaken snob, the simplicity is what’s so great about it.


I don’t know if my mates represent the wider community or not, but just like Judas Iscariot, Sonny Bill Williams and Benedict Arnold, I am happy having a foot in both warring camps.


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Through no fault of either party, couples are occasionally thrust into situations, in which one of them really questions, the fundamental value of the relationship.

Back in 1989, my beautiful wife Isabel (who was my girlfriend of only two months at the time) and I, flew to Melbourne to attend her close friend’s enormous, Ukrainian wedding. I had never met anybody there before, not even the bride.

My lovely wife, in 1989. My lovely wife, 1989

Isabel was up the front on the bridal table. I was right down the back, with seven of the most enormous, neckless, pumped-up body builders I had ever seen. Huge Ukrainian lads, who hardly spoke a word of English. Very non-Hornswood.

Four jugs of beer were brought to our table.

Bodybuilder Boyko (in a thick Ukrainian accent, to the waitress) – “No beer us please.”

Me – “Whoa, whoa, whoa Boyko! What?? No beer boys? It’s a freaken wedding.”

Boyko – “No beer us. We train. Competition in week.”

Me – “Oh for f#cks sake lads. It’ll be embarrassing to send back jugs.” I thought for a moment.

Me (to the waitress) – “Just leave the jugs. We’ll be right.”

So after two hours and four jugs, I’m hammered, having an absolute ball with the Ukrainian bodybuilders, despite our speaking different languages. They didn’t touch a drop. They all had two meals each, but they didn’t touch a drop.

Because their names were too difficult, I gave them all nicknames. Andriy became “Schwarzenegger”, Boyko was “Mal Meninga”, Petruso I called “Jessy ‘The Body’ Ventura”, Fedir became “Van Damme”, Olek was “Andre The Giant”, Borysko was “Hulk Hogan” and the other Andriy I tagged “Paul Sironen”.

The Ukrainians called me “party man”, but with their accents it sounded more like “potty man”.

They had the Melbourne Female Entertainer of the Year 1980, as the singer with her backup band. She was a bit dull and kept singing originals, which of course nobody knew. So I thought I’d go and give her a hand. Hulk Hogan, Paul Sironen and the lads, thought it was a great potty man idea.

I joined the Melbourne Female Entertainer of the Year 1980 up on the stage, which was really a raised platform about 30cm off the ground. I wasn’t so pissed that I just wandered out there mid-song, I waited, next to the stage patiently until she finished her unknown, original.

Melbourne Female Entertainer of the Year 1980 looked surprised when I wandered out on stage, waving to the crowd. I stumbled a bit as I walked out and gave her a hug.

Melbourne Female Entertainer of the Year 1980 – “Yes?

Me – “Thought I’d let ya know people aren’t really listenin’ to your songs. How about we sing The Gambler, to get the crowd in?

Melbourne Female Entertainer of the Year 1980 – “This is not f#cking karaoke. I am a professional performer. I am Melbourne Female Entertainer of the Year.”

Me – “Well… you were in 1980.”

Melbourne Female Entertainer of the Year 1980 – “Get off my f#cking stage.”

I didn’t want to make a scene. I put up my hands in a sign of acquiescence and stumbled my way back through the tables to Schwarzenegger and the boys.

Ten minutes later, when the band was on a break, my wife was in the toilet with the bride.

Bride – “What’s that noise?

Isabel (listening) – “Oh no.”

On a train bound for nowhere. I met up with a gambler…

I had taken the opportunity to try and save the party. Melbourne Female Entertainer of the Year 1980, stood on the side, giving me the old stink-eye.

Obviously Kenny Rogers was not big in the Ukraine, because my new mates knew none of the words, but enthusiastically bellowed “DA, DA, DA” from our table.

When I got to the chorus I yelled to the crowd. EVERYBODY SING ALONG… there was dead silence.

Except for table 36. They DA, DA, DA’d up a storm.

I turned to my left. Isabel, who I hadn’t spoken to all night, was there, arms crossed angrily and she had a look of such Spanish ferocity, such wrath, that I literally recoiled in horror. Problem was, I recoiled too far and I tumbled off the stage. I hit the ground hard and with an enormous booming sound over the speakers, the mic bounced and broke into about five pieces.

Andre The Giant and Paul Sironen immediately rushed to my aid, lifted me off the ground and carried me above their shoulders, back to our table. Jessy ‘The Body’ Ventura, who, when he wasn’t pushing weights was an electrician, commenced putting the microphone back together.

Once back safely to our table, I thought it’d be a good idea to challenge the Ukrainian bodybuilding team to an arm-wrestling competition. Like you do.

The boys were strong. Very strong. The matches, well… they weren’t exactly close, but at least they were quick and had many spectators.

In the spirit of the mighty Anzacs however, I didn’t come last. No I did not! Schwarzenegger had hurt his pec bench-pressing that morning and couldn’t arm-wrestle. So I actually finished seventh on our table of eight!

Apparently later that night, me and the boys had quite a bit of fun carefully lifting and moving people’s cars to different spots. Hilarious!

The next morning I awoke, in a true world of hurt. My head exploding, needing to vomit, my arm feeling like it’d been torn from its socket and my back near-broken.

As I opened my eyes, I saw Isabel, unsmiling.

Isabel – “I don’t think we should go out any longer.”

What could I say?

Me (through squinted eyes) – “You wouldn’t have any Voltaren would you?

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That brilliant series “Spartacus”, had a wild orgy scene. It was extremely raunchy, lots of hot, slave women getting it on with muscled-up gladiators and Roman soldiers, and being true to the era, there was also quite a bit of bloke-on-bloke action.

It got me wondering about the casting process…

Sean Wildman, a young dude who did plenty of theatre in College, left his family and girlfriend in Iowa, hoping to follow his dream in Hollywood.

He got his first break and was offered one of the “Spartacus” extras roles. He was over the moon.

Sean’s agent had already told him he’s going to be in the orgy scene and only got the gig because he looks so good with his gear off, but what the hell. You have to start somewhere.

So the fifteen or so muscle-bound blokes who are going to be playing the gladiators and Romans in the orgy, are waiting in one big room. Leonard, the camp Director’s-assistant is reading off his clipboard and telling everybody their specific, extras roles for the filming that afternoon.

Director’s-assistant Leonard – “Ok gents, quiet please. Listen up now”. He clapped against his clipboard. “The ladies are preparing in the other room, and I’m here to let you beautiful boys know who’s with who, for this upcoming orgy scene.”

They all fell silent. Nervous anticipation hovered over the room.

Leonard – “ROCKO GIBSON?”

Rocko, who was sitting at the back of the room stuck up his hand.

Rocko – “Yes sir Mr Leonard!”      

Leonard – “Rocko, you’re going to be doing it up against the statue of Caesar with the stunning Yazmeen Whittaker. She plays the African warrior princess.”

Rocko – “Thank you sir”. Rocko was understandably happy.

Leonard – “Don’t thank me Rocko, just make this scene brilliant! That will be thanks enough”. He ticked Rocko’s name off his list.

Leonard – “ALISTAIR MORECOMBE? PUT YOUR HAND UP ALISTAIR”. Alistair did so. “Ok, you are a lucky man Alistair and my, but you have gorgeous blue eyes. You’re with the striking Melanie Driver on the red velvet cushions. She plays a volatile Spanish sex-slave”.

Alistair nodded happily.

Leonard – “Jeremy Holter, Kyle Maxer and Johnny Bullet?” They all popped up their hands. “You boys are all on the tiger skin rug with the beautiful Denise Royal, Emma Rock and Daphne Gall, who are playing Greek slave girls. You can work out with the ladies who goes with who”. The lads looked pleased.

Leonard – “Sean Wildman?”

Sean threw up his hand excitedly. He was a long way from Iowa now.

Leonard – “Sean you’re bent over the giant urn in front of Big Frank, gladiator’s guard”. He ticked his list. “Tony Polster and Tommy Warner? You’re both with the exquisite Elizabeth Hayley up against the-

Sean (interjecting) – “SORRY… to… interrupt Leonard”.

Leonard (impatiently) – “Yeees, what is it?? I only have fifteen minutes to get this done”.

Sean – “I’m um… not sure I caught that… correctly. My name is Sean Wildman. You said I was wiiith…”

Leonard – “Wildman (he checked his list). Giant urn, Big Frank behind you. Brett Smith?” (Leonard looked up from his clipboard and saw Brett’s raised hand) “You’re with the stunning Amy Tyler under…”

Sean Wildman just sat there stunned as Leonard continued through the list, allocating parts and partners to everybody in the room. Suddenly, a massive, man-mountain loomed over him. The man spoke in a deep, Rusty Crowe voice.

Big Frank, Man Mountain – “I can’t wait to do this scene with you Sean. And just so you know, I’m a method actor and I take my craft very seriously”.


Imagine eventually, a few months later when Sean gets a phone call from his mum, she’s back in Iowa.

Sean’s mum (on the phone) – “Howdy Seanny. It’s mum. I know you wouldn’t tell us when your episode of that Spartacus thingy was going to air, so I rang your agent and convinced him to tell me. Dad and I are sitting here now with all the family and pretty well everybody you’ve ever known in your whole life, crammed into our living room to watch it. In fact your scene’s on right now! LITTLE TOMMY, TURN IT UP!”

Sean – “Oh mum, no”.

Sean’s mum – “Now don’t be shy son. So, which one are you? There’s so many people in this scene.”

Sean (dejected) – “Up the back mum. Far right”.

Sean’s mum (he knew his mum would be squinting) – “But that’s not you Seanny”.

Sean – “No, not him mum, that’s Big Frank the method actor. You can’t see my face. I’m bent over the urn”.

Sean hears his seven-year old cousin in the background. “THERE HE IS! THAT BIG MAN IS DANCING WITH HIM LIKE ROVER DOES”.

Then he hears his elderly grandmother laugh. “IS THAT WHAT HE MEANT BY RECEIVING AN OSCAR ONE DAY?”

Sean’s mum – “Oh… golly Seanny… you’re very… oh golly. It looks… very… oh dear God!”


Thanks for reading where I’ve put my heart and soul down in words, for you!

I’m like a noble, armour-clad knight astride a powerful war-steed, in dogged pursuit of my elusive dream to one day make a living as a word-man.

Know any businesses who could benefit from having wonder and awe sent out to their database? Who would be enraptured to have their emails opened. Read! Cherished!! Held aloft, like the Life of Brian shoe or that chubby little Lion King.

I often double industry open-rates and you’ll allow me to continue claiming at parties much to my wife’s chagrin, that I am a writer.

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I came home the other night and I was… really, really drunk. No other way to describe it. Maggotted! Which I don’t do very often.

I struggled up my hallway, trying my best to make no noise, without turning on any lights. I didn’t want to bring any family attention to my… condition. I eventually made my way to the kitchen. I flicked on the light, revealing to my horror, sitting upon one of the apples in our fruit bowl, an enormous cockroach!

We both looked intently at one another. I felt myself swaying due to my intoxication, so I grabbed the bench to steady my wobbling body.

Me – (to the cockie) COCKIE! Where’s my spray?

I was in no condition to be in control of toxic gas but I looked around for the can.

Cockroach (to me) – My name’s Lenny, and I f#cking hate humans! You see this apple I’m sitting on?

This was not a situation I was expecting, to say the very least.

Me – Um… yeah.

I didn’t really look at the apple. I looked around the kitchen. I was indeed alone, just me… and the cockie.

Cockroach – I had wild sex with my wife on that apple, two nights ago. And this red one next to it, I shat on that, just last night. And that yellow nectarine there next to the apple, my wife and I had sex on that one about an hour ago! So, UP YOURS human! I hope you enjoy the taste.

The cockie looked at me smugly.

Now I knew I was pissed, however I just stared at the talking cockie, absolutely incredulous. Stunned.

Me – HOW much sex, are you getting???

Cockroach – As much as I want man. I’m a f#cking cockroach! We don’t have fancy cars, fancy holidays, nice clothes, all we do is eat, drink and have sex!

I nodded, impressed.

Me – Quality? Maybe his world wasn’t so perfect after all!

Cockroach – Superb! So F#CK YOU MAN. I HATE ALL YOU HUMANS.

I was getting a bit annoyed by his aggression.

Me – Just wind it back a bit mate. Maybe we don’t like you and your type either.


Me – Well… at least we don’t have the word “cock” in our name.

I wish I had somebody there I could high-five. I smiled at him. That one put him back in his place.

Cockroach – A few times a week, me and my cousin Shane, try to wipe our arses across your mouth without waking you up.

Me – WHAT??? YOU MOTHER F#CKERS! He’d crossed the line.

Cockroach – And old Shano scratches his balls on your toothbrush most nights. It’s the blue one right? He says it makes his nether regions smell nice and minty, for the ladies, if you know what I mean. He chuckled.


I reached for the can of Pea Beau on top of the fridge, and then had to hold onto the fridge to steady myself again.

Cockroach – What are you going to f#cking do man? Spray the whole f#cking bowl of fruit?

He had a point.

Me – MAYBE I SHOULD JUST SQUASH THE WHITE CUSTARD OUT OF YOU. Get out of my house Lenny! This is not going to end well.

Cockroach – Your house??? Yours? My ancestors have lived here for 39 years mate, so f#ck you!

I thought it was time to take a bit of the heat out of the confrontation.

Me – How many kids you got?

Cockroach – Fourteen thousand, seven hundred and four, spread all over Hornswood. He clicked his fingers.

Cockroach – Actually, fourteen thousand, seven hundred and two, due to an issue with some baits under a fridge in St Ives on the weekend.

Me – I’m sorry to hear that Lenny.

I’m not completely heartless.

Cockroach – No… you’re… NOT!

Me – True, I’m not. Now, I’m going to have to kill you… Lenny.


Me – Hey, that’s gender stereotyping Lenny!

I raised the Pea Beau and Lenny raced off the apple and ran down the side of the bowl. Can in hand I circled the bowl, but he wasn’t there!

I lifted it up, but like magic he was gone. He had disappeared. I thought, how do they do that?

The next morning I was hung-over like a dog and my wife asked me why the fruit bowl and my toothbrush were sitting in the fridge. I didn’t know what to tell her.

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Sometimes I get in trouble for occasionally saying inappropriate things. However, if you knew my siblings, you’d understand that it’s not my fault. It’s genetic.

My brother Linc, managed to completely offend a gathering of Hornswood mothers, a few years ago.

His wife was working, they’d only moved to the area a few weeks earlier and he found himself the only bloke invited to a Lindfield Public School mother’s luncheon.

He lacks no confidence, at all, but Linc was a bit nervous about having lunch with ten women he’d never met. He’s a bit unsure what he’s going to add to the conversations of the ex accountants, lawyers, marketers and executives that often make up the Hornswood mother’s groups.

So there he was sitting, not saying much, with ten mums around a living room table. They were all talking up a storm, but he was content with a beer in front of him, a tiny but very tasty chicken sandwich in one hand and a brown-rice sushi roll on his plate just awaiting his pleasure.

This was a much better sandwich than he was used to.

One of the mums spoke loudly to the hostess, who was seated at the other end of the table next to Linc.

Caroline – “How’d your sphincter-tightening operation go Suzy?”

Linc’s ears immediately pricked up. What the?? Sphincter-tightening? That’s a thing?

Hostess Suzy – “Painful, but all good Caroline. Thanks for asking.”

My brother was unsure what to say to such a public airing of such a private matter. But it made him think what the hell was I nervous about? These Hornswood mums clearly aren’t uptight at all. On the contrary! That Suzy looks like she’s snobby, but looks are obviously deceptive.

He was immediately reminded of a personal story he could recount, now that Suzy had made it permissible to tell any medical, below-the-waist stories.

Linc – “I never knew you could get that done, but I suppose we’re all getting older Suzy.”

Suzy looked at him, a little blankly.

Linc – “That makes me think ladies, of when I was going for my scuba diving license.”

He felt very sure everybody was going to enjoy his story, it always got laughs. All had gone silent to listen to the new guy.

Centre stage.

Linc – “To get your scuba license you have to give a urine sample. To make a long story short, they found blood in my urine, which turned out to be nothing, but I had to go in and have a camera put up the eye of my penis.”

My brother doesn’t mess around for long when he’s on the Centre State. He gets straight into it.

Linc – “So I’m fully bombed out right, having the procedure when suddenly I wake up! Now I was expecting the camera operator of course, doing his thing down there, but holy-crap, it looked like there was not just the cameraman, but a director, actors, two or three extras, a claperboard guy and the catering lady. It was a full house! People everywhere!”

Still nobody spoked. Linc thought, they’re intrigued. 

“There was a cast of thousands all standing around watching as a doctor pushed a camera into the eye of my (he searched for the right word)… schlong.” Damn he thought, that wasn’t it, but keep going. “Then all of them immediately looked at me as they realised I’d woken up mid-procedure. Being drugged, I panicked and started to writhe around. And writhing around is not something you want to do when somebody has placed a camera into… my old-fella.” A much better word.

A big team.

This was going well.

“Anyway, they bombed me out again and…”

Linc noticed that all the women were sitting in stony silence. A few of them were looking a bit ashen faced and a couple had their mouths slightly ajar.

Hostess Suzy – “Oh… my… God. We’ve only just met you Lincoln. Do you think it’s appropriate to tell a disgusting story like that in my house??”

Now my brother instantly felt highly embarrassed, confused and more than a bit defensive. How had he so misread the acceptability or otherwise, of his break-the-ice-story? He put his legs down on the ground, he had propped them up on his seat adding a bit of a demonstration to his words.

Linc – “What?? You were the one who told everybody you’d had your…” He thought for a second. “Anus tightened!!”

All the Hornswood mums sat still. Silent. My brother learned an important lesson that day.

Apparently we all have a sphincter in our stomach.

He left the gathering shortly after.

Thanks for reading. I write blogs, oftentimes simply to claim at parties much to my wife’s chagrin, that I am in fact… a writer. At other times, to allow businesses and businesspeople to get their message across.

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Cheers. Jase. 


About five years ago I was sitting in the front row of the Shore drama theatre. My son’s play was about to start, the lights had come on and everybody had gone completely silent. My six-year-old daughter, prodded me in the ribs as a signal to pass her a couple of Maltesers. I did so, she dropped one and of course, it rolled noisily, right into the centre of the stage.

Everybody in the place was looking at the Malteser, which a Prefect immediately leaped up and binned. Of course, all eyes then moved to me, with the box of Maltesers in one hand and two in my mouth.

I gave the Prefect the thumbs up. I also wanted to say to the crowd, it was actually my daughter who dropped the freaken Malteser, not me.

Image result for maltesers

The play was going amazingly well. At interval I got myself beer and one for a mate of mine who was sitting behind us, my lovely wife didn’t want anything.

Turned out my mate had the same idea and he’d bought me a beer also. So we were both then standing there in the foyer, with two beers each to drink in the ten-minute interval.

Anyway, my mate went to the toilet, so I looked around for somebody to talk to and spied… the Headmaster.

Now I’d never spoken to the Shore headmaster before. His reputation at the school was of an intelligent, honorable, highly regarded, Christian man. I thought he’d be good for a yarn.

As my son was going to be there for the next five years, I was a bit anxious about meeting the big man and was conscious of at least, not making a terrible impression. So I swapped both my beers to my left hand and introduced myself.

He was just as nice as everybody had said he was! I offered him one of my beers, he politely declined. I informed him that one of them I hadn’t sipped yet, but he still politely declined. We chatted for a few minutes. Then:

Headmaster – “Jason, your Jake’s a really gifted actor and a fine young man. You should be very proud.”

Me – “Yeah we are, most the time. But whoa momma, he can be a smart-arse!” (I sipped my left beer).

Headmaster – “They all can Jason. Oh, you have to meet Jake’s drama teacher! I’ll call her over.”

Now Jake had already given me the full scoop on his drama teacher. His tall… blonde… drama teacher! I wanted to let the Headmaster, a fellow bloke, know that I was already in the know and that in his professional position, he didn’t have to spell it out for me.

Me – “I’ve heard mate, I’ve heard. A tall blonde hottie right!”

It turns out when the Headmaster said oh, you have to meet Jake’s drama teacher, he didn’t mean struth you have to meet Jake’s drama teacher, because she’s a tall blonde hottie. He actually meant oh, you have to meet Jake’s drama teacher, because she’s a great drama teacher.

I remember a look on his face, for just a fraction of a second that said, surely I misunderstood this man’s meaning. A Shore parent, an Old-Boy, just wouldn’t say something like that and mean it like it sounded.

The look on his face then said, oh wow, this man actually DID mean it like it sounded!

Headmaster (while pointing to something behind me) – “Anyway Jason, it was great to meet you. I have to go and um…”

And with that he was gone.

I sipped my right beer. It was warmer than the left one. I decided to leave the right beer, as I’d probably only have enough time to drink one anyway.

In the car on the way home to Hornswood, Jake was buzzing from his highly successful play and I thought he’d get a laugh from my “I met your Headmaster at interval” story.

Jake – “You said WHAT to the headmaster?”

Me (feeling a bit defensive due to his adverse reaction) – “YOU WERE THE ONE WHO SAID SHE WAS A TALL, BLONDE HOTTIE.”


Me (after a pause) – “Yeah… but sometimes son it’s what you DON’T say, that actually says it all.”

My wife – Hottie is not what he said or meant! And even if he did, you don’t raise it in your first ever moment with the Shore Headmaster.”

Me – “I know that NOW! It’s pretty obvious NOW! But I didn’t have a lot of time to plan my answer out you know!”

There was a moment of silence.

Me – “It’s ok, next time I see him I’ll say th…”


I couldn’t help but feel partially responsible for the situation.

Jake – “And why’s everybody talking about a Malteser you threw onto the stage?”

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I’m not sure of the Politically Correct term for a homeless bloke. Tramp, bum, vagabond and vagrant all seem too insulting, classist and a bit mean. So I’m going to use “hobo”.

One night a few years ago I was sitting in the Hornswood RSL with half a dozen mates, beers in hand, discussing the Rugby League (wonderful game that it is). One of our mates (Budgie) had stood up to put on a bet and a really big hobo stumbled over and just sat down in his seat.

I’m very respectful to homeless people. The phrase there but for the grace of God go I, is absolutely gold in any hobo situation. So despite the fact that the place was pretty much empty, we allowed him to sit at our table with no protests.

At the risk of insulting the entire hobo class, this large guy really smelt badly of all the clichéd hobo smells. An acrid, eye-watering mix of urine, ingrained body odour, cigarettes and alcohol. He smelled so badly, we found ourselves subtly turning our heads away to breathe.

Reiterating, I am in no way anti-hobo, but he had filthy clothes, greasy hair, a massive, knotted, grey beard which was stained with cigarettes and food. Watching him sit there gumming and slobbering around the top of his beer, was a bit… disturbing, but we maintained our respectful attitude towards the man.

My mate Budgie returned from the bar, saw his seat was “large-hobo-occupied”, so off he went to the bathroom.

One of my mates – “You doing ok today friend?”

The hobo sucked on his beer again, slobber ran down the side and he burped a guttural burp into the top of it.

Hobo – “Got spare change?”

The doorman from the RSL approached our table about to escort the hobo outside, I gave him a little it’s ok wave of the hand.

Me – “Sure do brother.”

We all coughed up the coins in our pockets and dumped it on the table. He grabbed the coins up with a sweep of the hand, gladly accepted the two ciggies one of my mates offered him and stood up. He grabbed his beer, quickly sculled most of its content, coughed into it, smiled a black-teeth smile, gave us a thumbs-up and then left.

Budgie came back to his seat, now empty.

Again, no hobo-phobia, but the entire area smelled particularly funky. Over the next five minutes, Budgie sat there and drank the last few sips of his beer.

It was my turn to shout, so being the local RSL, I helpfully gathered up the empty bottles.

Me – “Same again lads? Five Peroni’s and… (I looked at Budgie’s beer bottle as his was a different colour to ours) one Tooheys New”.

Budgie – “No Cool Hand (my self-ascribed poker call-sign), it’s six Peroni’s. I’m on Peroni’s too.”

Me – (looking at his empty bottle) “But that’s a Tooheys.

A look of horror etched itself on Budgie’s face. He went white.


He went green.


I cannot remember ever laughing so hard in my entire life.

When he saw Budgie had gone to put his bet on, the hobo, had brazenly strolled into our midst, conned us out of about $15 in change, scabbed two ciggies, stood, sculled Budgie’s 80%-full Peroni and replaced it with a 20%-full hobo-Tooheys New. The perfect sting.

We laughed, and we laughed and we laughed. Budgie… not so much.

The rest of the night was permeated with periods of laughter, talk of potentially catching hobo-whooping cough and reminders of hobo-body odour and hobo-breath. And more laughter.

He was without a doubt the coolest, most brazen hobo in all of Hornswood. The Clint Eastwood of hobos.


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Nothing screams “CHRISTMAS” in our Hornswood home more, than having eight bottles of Hahn Super Dry (low carb) and challenging your brother-in-law to a push-ups competition. Nothing! Santa, nativity scenes, carols, tinsel, coloured lights, presents, Christmas trees, Hahn Super Dry and push-ups. It all goes together.

I was explaining to my brother-in-law Toby, how after a period of about 20 years of inactivity and fatness, I now have the world’s greatest personal trainer (Wayne Nicholls PT – he deserves a plug) and push-ups have become my area of expertise. With proper technique I had recently set my record at an enormous 25 (keeping in mind I weigh 112.4 kg, so when I push-up, I’m pushing up a fair bit).

Me – “Come on Tobe. Don’t be soft. WE GONNA GET IT ON, ‘CAUSE WE DON’T GET ALONG.” I did a little Ali shuffle, raised my hands in a pre-emptive victory celebration, dropped and assumed the push-up position.


I was feeling pretty good after the first five. My shoulders knew what was coming, they were surprised it was happening on Christmas day mind you, but they were sort of ready.


STAY FOCUSED! My Shoulders and biceps weren’t quite screaming yet, but there were certainly getting rowdy. KEEP GOING.


PAIN AND SUFFERING! I was really hurting. The arms were shaking, my face was red like Clive Palmer in a sauna.



I HAD EQUALED MY RECORD, but it wasn’t enough for me. Not this day. Not on this stage. In front of the family, under my own roof, in my domain! I wanted… no, more than that, I NEEDED, to smash my record. I needed to set an un-beatable total, which I could laud over Toby until probably the next Christmas.


My arms wobbled like a gelatin dessert. PUSH! The last one was going to be slooow.

27… YES!!!!


I collapsed onto the floor, then I jumped to my feet. I was sucking in the big ones, my face burned and veins bulged, I was sweating, I couldn’t move my arms and wanted to vomit up my 8 Christmas Super Drys. But I’d done it. 27!!


Toby didn’t say anything but I could tell he was concerned. He’s seven years older than me, well past his prime at 54. I was rushing around the room, obviously trying to get a crowd chant of “TWENTY-SEVEN” going, while high-fiving my brother and his wife, my elderly Spanish mother-in-law (who thought I wanted the remote control), my son and my wife (who actually refused to return my high-five and just left me hanging).

Toby dropped to the ground and started his push-ups painfully slowly.


I knew he had no chance. One of my push-up record-attaining secrets, is to start fast, so when you hit the wall, you’ve got a decent number on the board.

Me – “Watch that left shoulder mate.” His technique was actually flawless and there was nothing wrong with his left shoulder, but I had to start the piss-taking somewhere.


Me – “Need a breather mate? Jeez twenty-seven must seem so freaken unattainable just about now.


I’d never seen slower push-ups. All that cannelloni and beer had had a bigger impact on him than I’d anticipated.

Me – “Is it too late to get a bet on? Tobe, you know, LOTS of ladies have difficulty getting over twenty.


Me – “Do you want your sister to take over mate?


Me – “It’s not your fault… It’s not your fault… It’s not your fault.


Me – “Don’t worry Tobe. It’s not that you’re weak … it’s just that you’re very fat.” He actually isn’t fat like me, but a good sledge, is a good sledge.


Me – “Maybe, to be fair, I should do push-ups and you should do… Jenga.


Damn, now I was getting a little nervous. He was getting close to my magical number and his pace was still exactly the same. I needed a really hard-hitting sledge to put him off his game.

Me – “YOU GIRL’S BLOUSE.” Damn, that one was much more effective in the 80’s.


I won’t bore you with the details, but once he had beaten my record by twenty, he stood up. Forty seven.

He wasn’t puffing, wasn’t red in the face, wasn’t sweating, his arms weren’t shaking and he could walk properly. His sister (my loving wife), gave him a quick, loud high-five and handed him back his Super Dry. He sat down, sipped the beer and they continued their conversation. It was like he’d just left his seat to change the channel.

My brother – “Another beer Tobe?” My brother high-fived Toby.

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A mate told me he didn’t love my last blog, because the punch-line wasn’t very funny.

Punch-line?? I explained that I’m not Rodney Dangerfield telling a “did somebody step on a duck” gag. My blog is my musings on things that strike me, as I drag myself through life as a Hornswood dad.

Case in point.

My wife and I were in San Francisco a few years ago, at a carnival, when I spied an “I’ll Guess Your Weight” stand (very American).

Now I am, fairly… broad. Broad in the shoulders, broad in the legs and broad in the gut. The thing with broadness, is that people ALWAYS severely underestimate my weight. They say “you carry it well,” which of course means “you’re fat, you carry it well.”

I look about 12kg (26lbs) less than I really am. I know this because whenever the subject of weight comes up and I tell people I’m 112kg, they inevitably say, “wow, you don’t look any more than a 100“.

Anyway, I’m thinking, a guess your weight competition is tailor-made for me. My KFC Retention Problem, is finally going to do some good.

So you pay $5 and if they guess within 3lbs, they win. If they are wrong, but are within 6lbs, you get to pick a prize from the first two (dodgy) shelves. However, if they are outside 6lbs, you get to pick from the entire stand! It was a big stand.

It was my turn. They handed me a microphone. There were about fifty people standing around watching the entertainment and the carnie had picked the last eleven players correctly, so the crowd was right into it.

I knew he wasn’t going to get within 20lbs of mine and I’ve always had a chronic, un-abating distrust of carnies, so I was playing it up a little.


Cigar-smoking carnie – “I’m Calvin. Where you hail from son?


The crowd cheered loudly. I got the sense they were keen to see somebody knock Calvin off his high-horse. I was just the man to do it. Calvin chewed on his stogie.

Carnie Calvin – “We take a disliking to loud Aussies here son.

Me – “That’s all right Calvin. I’VE ALWAYS HAD A CHRONIC, UN-ABATING DISTRUST OF CARNIES.” The crowd cheered again.

Calvin was getting angry. He’d lost the crowd, despite having won the last eleven weighs. He walked around me three times, mentally calculating my height, my clothing and (I assumed mis-calculating) my broadness.

I tried to put him off a bit. It was a battle of wits, for the ultimate prize – a five-foot tall, foam-filled, Spongebob Squarepants.

Me – “Calvin… that’s a funny name for a carnie. Just so you know mate, I’ll be taking that big Spongebob.

The crowd oooh’d. They all admired the massive Spongebob sitting pride of place, atop the stand.

Me – “Hey Calvin, maybe you’re just not used to guessing Aussie weights. Maybe there’s just more to us than meets the eye Calvin. If you know what I mean.” The crowd laughed at Calvin. He was fuming.

Me – “Factor in Aussie girth Calvin.” A bit rude, but I was on a roll!

My wife – “JASE.” She was not enjoying my battle with Calvin.

Me – “Shoulder girth I meant, darling.

Calvin was ready to guess.

Me – “Do you want a hand getting Spongebob down Calvin?” Everybody laughed, I was loving having a microphone.

Carnie Calvin – “YOU’RE TWO HUNDERED AND TWENTY THREE POUNDS SON, OR ONE HUNDRED AND ONE KILOGRAMS.” He smiled a wily old smile at me. He was confident.

I threw my arms into the air in a victory salute as I stepped onto the scales. 246 LBS, 112 KG!! I HAD WON! YES!!

The crowd roared. I pointed at Calvin and his face reddened. His run had been put to an end by the loud Aussie. I had secured a hard-fought win.

My wife walked off when I started “AUSSIE, AUSSIE, AUSSIE.

A few hours later when we were leaving, a Japanese tourist was trying to console his youngster who’d just dropped his fairy floss onto the ground only to have it rolled over by guy moving a keg of beer.

Because we were stepping on to a plane that night, I gave the kid Calvin’s massive Spongebob. The father was very grateful and became excited when he recognised me from my earlier triumph.

Japanese dad (in a thick accent) – “Hoh, you Australee fat man!

I had no way of informing him that I had in fact won the competition for being deceptively fat, not just for being fat.

My wife just shook her head.

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Since we left high school, my six oldest mates and I have had an annual, drunken, early-Christmas gathering. Doing barefoot bowls at Hornswood Bowling Club last Saturday, I had a surreal moment. Not overly funny, but surreal.


We did not know when we booked, that there was a wake taking place inside the club that afternoon. Harry, club secretary, had tragically passed away at 91 and there was about a hundred people crammed into the little club, to say goodbye.

The classic old bowling club catered for all tastes, having Tooheys New, Tooheys Old and Tooheys Lite (only) on tap. We were the only ones bowling and were putting away jugs of beer like veterinarians on a pharmaceutical company junket.

Being sensitive to the feelings of secretary Harry’s friends and family, when we got our first round at the bar after making our way through the tightly packed emotional throng, we asked the lady could she bring our drinks out to us? We would tip her every time, so we wouldn’t have to insensitively weave through the mourners.

This worked wonderfully, up until the time it was my turn, to pay her for the shout.

Our jugs were empty, but our lady, who had been so attentive when it was the other lad’s rounds, was nowhere to be seen. The boys were thirsty from bowling, so I had no choice but to drag my inebriated self through the despondent crowd of secretary Harry grievers. Not good.

I went inside and EVERY guest was now SEATED, listening to speeches. The rows of seats went all the way back to the wall. There was absolutely no way to get to the bar, unless I was completely tactless and insensitive and was prepared to walk up and over the stage, behind the speaker at the lectern, with 100 highly emotional attendees, staring at me.

The trip over the stage was harrowing. I could feel all 199 eyes (one very old guy in the front row appeared to only have one) burning a hole in my brain as I tried to make my 110-111kg frame unnoticeable, as I snuck along behind the speaker.

Getting to the bar, I was pretty angry about the bar lady making me run the gauntlet. I am very respectful of age, funerals, bravery, hard work and the like.

Me – “Two jugs of New and two packets of salt and vinegar chips thanks”.

I smiled at the girl who had been, up until now, bringing our drinks out to us.

Me – “Are you… surprised… to see me in here?” My tone was brash, but her forgetfulness had forced me to walk behind the lectern and distract all those people from secretary Harry’s eulogy!

Her – “Yeah I am”. She gave me a funny look.

Me – “Well I certainly didn’t want to come in here.” I gave her the old stink-eye.

Her – “No. What?”

What was the point? I paid, gathered up the two jugs and the chips and prepared to traverse back over the stage and receive the looks of seething rage from the 100.

Up I went, the only thing in my favour was that I knew nobody could yell loudly at me in the middle of the eulogy.

Then, the old guy with one eye, yelled loudly at me.

Old one-eye – “HEY MATE! IT’S A WAKE YOU KNOW!”

I was mortified. Even through my shield of intoxication and my socially thick-skin… I was mortified.

I stopped for a second, looked up from my two jugs of Tooheys New and stared meekly at the predominantly elderly crowd. Half of them had tears in their eyes and the others just looked angry as all hell.


After a fraction of a second of torturous hesitation, the whole place erupted into cheers. Secretary Harry was obviously fond of a beer himself, as everybody burst into applause.

I made my way back to the safety of the bowling green, with a good story to tell.

The lads meanwhile, were drinking the two jugs that the bar lady had brought out, just when I had gone inside!

It actually turned into a great night and celebration of Harry’s life. We moved inside with the crowd once the sun went down and enjoyed a brilliant night of music with a local band playing 80s classics. So much so:




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While my wife was shopping for stuff we simply couldn’t live without, I went to get a massage at “Majestic Hands”, a secluded little shop in Hornswood Westfield.

It was magnificent. Dark, with exotic Chinese music, relaxing running water and smelled wonderfully of incense. As soon as I walked in for my “Back, Neck and Shoulders – 45 minutes”, I started to relax.


Now I’m happily married, however, I couldn’t help but be enthused by the “Majestic Hands” massage lady who led me to my little curtained-off oasis. She was absolutely stunning! She looked like Lucy Liu! Wow!

I know her physical appearance is not relevant in this day and age, and her ability to do the job is all that matters. However first and foremost I am a man… and she was red-hot! Life was good.

So the massage progressed really well. I lapsed into a near-euphoric state, my muscles were loosening up like never before and I was developing quite a relationship with Lucy Liu (albeit a silent one). She just seemed to get stronger and stronger, and better and better at her trade as the time progressed.

Anyway, most disappointingly, the time seemed to be eaten up in a blink of an eye. It was over. I was snapped out of my utopia, had to open my eyes and I raised my head from the little face-hole in the massage table.

I wanted to have one last look at the stunning Lucy Liu and see if I could gauge the degree to which our time together had meant something to her. If our Back, Neck and Shoulders 45 minutes, had been as intimate for her, as it had been for me. I know she’s a professional, but surely that one was somehow… special.

I looked up, my eyes were cloudy and it was dark, but I fixed my gaze upon her.

I froze.

At some time during the massage, Lucy Liu had been replaced, with a very old-looking… dude.




Now don’t get me wrong. I have two metal rods running the length of my spine and have had full spinal-fusion (long story), so I have had more massages, physio’s and chiro’s than even most members of the Hornswood Golden Oldies Rugby Club. I am not anti-bloke massagers at all! On the contrary.

But I was MAJESTIC HAND-SWAPPED!! I was lead to believe Lucy Liu was the one putting her hands all over me in an intimate way. Not Mr Myagi!

Lawyers, are “Majestic Hands” allowed to do that?? Are they not in breach of some “truth in advertising” laws? Did I not have some sort of implied contract with Lucy Liu? Should they not have to do some little tag-team slap to let me know somebody else has entered the relationship?

Were they all standing around laughing about the guy on table 3 who thinks he’s having a Lucy Liu and he’s actually being Mr Myagi’d? Did I do something wrong?

As I sheepishly got dressed by myself in that dark little room, I wasn’t sure what to think. The allure of the last 45 minutes had been turned on its head.

I paid and left. As I did so Mr Myagi looked up from his newspaper. He gave me a wink and a look that said “you can come back any time big boy”.

Later that night I was out with the lads.

Me – “I got a massage in Hornswood Westfield today.” I stared into my bourbon and dry.

Paully – “Any good?” Paully stared up at the TAB screen.


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Some people in our street about ten years back, threw a get to know the neighbours party. They seemed nice.

By about midnight, I’d committed a couple of the common, wife-annoying, social faux pas we all make from time to time – dropping a wafer-thin slice of pavlova onto the snooker table and not managing to stifle my laughter when Benny (the host) revealed to us all that he plays his ukulele and sings by himself every night.

Suddenly the front door opened and two young lads walk in, looking a bit… out of sorts. I saw one subtly slip a shiny, black, leather-bound hip flask into his back pocket.

Shiny, black, leather-bound hip flask. Shiny, black, leather-bound hip flask.


It was pretty obvious Richard the son and his mate had been out on the drink and the last thing they felt like doing was chatting to oldies they’d never met.

Me – “Been out for a few cleansing ales hey boys?” Just being friendly.

Richard – “Bible study.

That was a witty retort from Richard, but he delivered it in an arrogant, dismissive, twenty’ish-year-old way and smiled to his mate.

It annoyed me. I knew they’d been out drinking, I wasn’t going to judge them in front of all those people I didn’t know (I was in no position to), but why did he have to answer as if to say you’re all too old to understand having a good time, so we’ll just call it bible study.

Me – “Seriously boys, where have you been?” I was trying to be polite, but was not prepared to play the old fool role.

Richard – “Bible study.” He winked at his mate!

That was too much. He’d been out drinking. I knew it. He knew I knew it, but nobody else seemed to know it!

Me – “Rich, you and your mate have been out on the piss. No twenty something-year-old lads go to bible study at midnight on a Saturday. So don’t come in here with your bull. The boozer? A mate’s house? Out with some ladies?

Richard – “Bible study.

Me (in my best mocking tone) – “Oh riiiiight, biiiible study. Well why didn’t you say so Rich?? That’s what we’ve been doing tonight too!” I pointed to my beer. “Yep, had about five hours of intense bible study so far. I’m as studied up as a newt! If I do any more bible study, I’ll be sick as a dog tomorrow. I’m actually backing up because last night I went out with a half a dozen mates, I think we had about ten schooners each of bible study.

This went on for a little while. Unfortunately, it turned out that Richard and his friend, had indeed been at bible study that night.


My wife – “Time to go Jase.

Me – “THAT’S NOT MY FAULT! What twenty two-year-olds study bible ON A SATURDAY NIGHT??

The two young lads started up the stairs and then, even through my foggy mind I remembered… the hip flask!

It was my smoking gun. My one-armed man.

Me – “BEFORE YOU GO RICHARD.” I had to speak loudly, as they were halfway up the stairs and truth be told I wanted everybody to hear my vindication.

Richard – “Yeees?


Little Richard looked stunned.

Host Benny – “Richard?


He reached into his back pocket, very hesitantly.

I felt like throwing up my hands in victory. However, the moral high ground beckoned. I wasn’t going to gloat. I was better than that.

Richard, slowly, pulled out a shiny, black, leather-bound… bible.

We weren’t invited back to their house.

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A mate of mine hurt his knee skiing moguls last week. Now I know what you’re thinking. Why the hell is a guy who’s fifty, doing moguls? What is he trying to prove? He obviously has no idea of his age right? Mid-life crisis? Idiot?

Anyway, he stuffs his knee doing moguls and just to be on the safe side, gets rescued by the ski patrol. All very embarrassing… for a man of his age.

On Tuesday he goes to the knee specialist back in Sydney, Dr Robert. He’s hoping he’s only done minor damage, but he suspects he may have really strained it badly.

They’re sitting in Dr Robert’s surgery looking at his knee X-ray. My mate has just arrived back after having visited Dr Robert’s colleague (Dr Colin) who works next door, for a second opinion.

Now my mate is an obsessed skier and he has a huge overseas skiing trip booked in the next few weeks and he and his wife at home, are absolutely desperate, for his knee injury to be minor. Desperate!

Dr Colin doesn’t phone, so Dr Robert eventually rings him. He puts the phone on speaker as he dials, which my mate thinks is great, because he knows if he listens closely to the subtle intonations in Dr Colin’s voice, he may be able to work out to what degree he’s really damaged his knee. Probably it would be more about what Dr Colin doesn’t say, in his professional, guarded, doctor speak, that will give him the real picture. My mate’s smart and an astute business negotiator, he’ll easily work the true gravity of the situation, just by listening intently to their doctor-to-doctor conversation, if they leave it on speaker.

Dr Robert – “Colin! Robert from next door. How are you?

My mate listened closely, being ready to pick up any subtle bit of information from the specialist’s tone of voice.

Dr Colin (on speaker phone) – “MATE I’M NOT COMPLETELY FU#KED LIKE THAT GUY YOU JUST SENT ME. Hold on to him like he’s fu#king gold Robert! Ha ha! He’s paying for your son’s next two terms of school fees!

Dr Robert (after a pause) – “I’ll call you back Colin.

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There is one pub in Hornswood which is lovely now, but twenty years ago was dodgy. It was rough, known as a hangout for bikies, dealers and tough dudes.

I was at a work function in ’96 and for some reason, we had moved from a trendy bar in the city, to The Hornswood Dodgy Hotel. We had been drinking… heaps.

Anyway, nature called. I needed to shake hands with the man. So I made my way through the crowd to the gents.

There was a woman in there, by herself, looking in the mirror. She turned and gave me the old stink-eye. She was not happy to see me at all.

Nor was I happy to see her. That place is the last true bastion of manhood.

Angry woman in the men’s – “Wrong place you f#cking idiot, this is the ladies!

She had a really aggressive tone. It instantly got my back up.

Me – “Actually I think you’re in the wrong place (I left a deliberate pause where she had used f#cking idiot, to take the moral high ground), this is the men’s.

Angry woman in the men’s – “Why would I be in the men’s?

My brain was a bit cloudy, but I came up with the perfect retort.

Me – “Well… why would I be in the ladies?” It felt good. I now had the moral high ground and the psychological advantage.

Angry woman in the men’s – “Because you’re a drunk f#cking idiot!


Me – “Whoa, whoa, whoa! I’m not drunk.

I was drunk.

I did take a sneaky look around and couldn’t see any urinal, but it could have been around the corner. And the place did smell quite nice. However, I was standing my ground.

Me – “The only way we can settle this is to wait for the next person to enter.

She sighed deeply.

Me – “If I’m wrong, I’ll admit you’re right and that I’m a drunk f#cking idiot. If you’re wrong, you admit that just being sober and angry, doesn’t make you right.

With such high stakes, I was getting a little nervous.

We talked coolly for a few moments, about nothing really, just two people who didn’t really want to be in each other’s company, making chit-chat. I put off shaking hands with the man, until the situation was clarified.

Finally the door opened inwards and a large Maori looking, BLOKE, walked in.


I threw up my hand to high-five the big man. He ignored me.

Me – “Don’t leave me hangin’ bud.” I waved my high-five-awaiting hand around a bit.

Maori looking bloke – “ARSEHOLE, you’re in the ladies. Out!

Damn. I felt like a fool. I obediently started to follow the bouncer.

Angry woman in the ladies – “Don’t you have something to say?

She gave me the stink eye again. This time it really burned.

Me – “I was wrong.

I started towards the door, which the bouncer held open.

Angry woman in the ladies – “And?

Me – “Huh?

Angry woman in the ladies – “Annnd?

Me – “And I’m a drunk f#cking idiot.

Angry woman in the ladies – “Thank you.” She turned to the mirror and continued to put on makeup.

Maori looking bloke – “Drunk hey? Time to go home then arsehole.

Anyway, it took some time, but I eventually talked my way out of being evicted. And an hour or so later… it was time to shake hands with the man again.

Into the gents (this time) I went and just for a second, I thought the two blokes at the sinks were women, because the previous run-in still burned fresh in my mind and they both were tending to their particularly long hair. One was wetting his hair down and one looked to be tying his back in a pony-tail.

I was so relieved that I hadn’t made the same mistake again.

Me – “Jeez boys, I thought I was in the ladies!

I wish I had thought before I spoke, a common failing for me.

The two men stood straight up and turned. They were massive, scary, bikies! One was about six-foot five, the other was not much shorter. Big men. Lots of neck tattoos, muscles, bikie colours, thick moustaches, the works. They looked ready to bollard me to death.

I knew if I didn’t turn the mood around immediately, I was gone. I took a punt.


They were huge. I’m not small, six-foot one and 111.6kg (which I round down to 111), but these boys both dwarfed me. They didn’t laugh. One of them started towards me. I had to take one last crack at making them see the funny side. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion.

Me – “Two really unattractive ladies… one of which is carrying a bit of extra weight.” I pointed at the biggest bloke. He had a big gut.

They burst into laughter. It was sweet music to my ears.

One bikie (through laughter) – “Fu#k me Felon, I can’t believe he called you a lady. THAT’S A FIRST!” He was struggling to get the words out.

FelonAnd you a fat fu#king lady!” They laughed hard.

I urinated (all the while thinking I can’t believe he’s called Felon), washed my hands and left, while they still laughed loudly inside.

As the door shut behind me, another bikie approached. Not as big, but equally as scary.

New, equally as scary bikie – “What’s fu#kin’ goin’ on in there?

Me – “Felon’s just having a bit of a laugh.

New, equally as scary bikie Felon’s laughing at something you said? Well fu#k me.

I made my way back to my table and my very much out-of-place work friends. I sat down quietly. Ten minutes later Felon sent over a schooner and a whiskey shot.

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Here’s one of the more hilarious things I can remember seeing.

About 20 years ago, eight of us lads were at an Eastern Suburbs bowling club. We had been there since midday, bowling for a while but mainly drinking ridiculously heavily. We had the place to ourselves all day, however as evening approached there was some sort of “barefoot night-time bowls” action, so it slowly became busier and busier.

Anyway, at about 8:00 pm, a MASSIVE storm blew over. And I mean massive! Thunder, lightning, bucketing rain, the works. We along with about 60 or so other bowlers, all rushed into the clubhouse to get out of the squall. However, our mate Mac (keep in mind we’d been drinking heavily since midday) was too out-of-it to budge. He was in the bad place of over-intoxication and could not move (or be moved) off the bench.

Mac, back then, was 112kg, 6 foot 4, commando in the army, so we physically could not move him. Not in our state anyway. So we had to leave him sitting out in the perfect storm. We stood around with old bowlers, with our beers and watched and laughed at our friend out there, unmoving as wind and rain lashed him.

While keeping an eye through the window on Mac (being responsible 25-year-olds at the time), we made our plans to relocate to a slightly more lads-on-the-piss type bar, when finally, after what must have been an hour sitting in the soaking tempest, Mac suddenly sprang to life.

For whatever reason, he got his second wind and amazingly he wandered into the bowling club without stumbling or anything.

He looked like he’d just stepped out of a pool. As EVERYBODY in the place had been laughing at Mac on a bench in a hurricane, he get a rousing round of applause. He was wet, embarrassed and intoxicated.

Mac spotted us standing just off to the side of the only pool table. He wondered over, looked ridiculous, but relatively with-it. He approached me.

Me – “Mac, you’re alive! It’s your f##king shot mate. Hurry up! We’ve been waiting long enough. It’s your shot! We’re on bigs.

Now Mac after his sleep, was feeling quite spritely and in control of his senses.

All 6”4”, 112kg of Mac leaving puddles wherever he stopped, spied our opponents in the pool game. Two ten-year-old boys.

There’s only one pool cue in the place and it’s old, bent and rough. Mac, feeling better and better, wandered over and confidently plucked the cue out of the overweight ten-year-old’s hands. With a look of complete disdain for the kid, Mac leaned over, water running off his chin and onto the table, and somehow managed to sink the purple twelve. The right ball even.

This success, went straight to Mac’s head. He’d been feeling terrible, sitting in a typhoon, while dozens of people sniggered at him. He had gone, in just a few short moments, from the laughing stock of the establishment, to the kick-arse pool shark, who’d just shown them all! The sky was now the limit for Mac. He had his dignity back.

Going a bit over the top with his one-ball success, Mac raised the cue above his head and did a mocking dance in front of the pudgy little kid. He chanted loud and proud, like he’d just won a Grand Final.


The child just looked up at the massive man. His face had a mixture of fear, surprise and… well more fear. The kid’s mother then bustled up to Mac. She came up to about his navel. She was VERY angry.

Mother – “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING YOU BIG DUFUS? WHY DON’T YOU GO BACK AND SIT ON YOUR BENCH YOU… MORON.” She slapped the cue out of his hands. It bounced on the carpeted floor.

Now Mac even in his inebriated mind knew that his mocking dance and mocking words, had possibly been out of line when playing a child. And he definitely did see fear in the ten-year-olds eyes when he discoed in front of him, but come on! That’s what playing pool when you’re out with the lads is all about. He considered telling the mother that it’s just part of the game, to lighten up a little, but she looked really mad so he didn’t.

Mac wandered back to us lads and we were in hysterics. I personally can’t ever remember laughing louder or longer.

Mac – “Jeez the mum’s a bit touchy.

More laughter.

Me – “Mac (I put a hand on his shoulder) we weren’t actually playing (a lot more laughter).”

He froze. It dawned on him. His jaw dropped. We weren’t actually playing. He’s rocked up to this little ten-year-old who’s having a quiet game of pool with his brother, plucked the cue out of his chubby little hands, sunk one of his balls and had done a teasing “in your face” dance, right in front of the terrified kid. No wonder his mum slapped the cue out of his hands.

Mac then stumbled over to the mother, his new-found sobriety having been torn from him and tried to shout them another game of pool.

Mother – “Keep away from my children”.

We laughed. Mac dripped.

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Occasionally… I say things without fully thinking them through. I have had it suggested (and reiterated) by my lovely wife, that I need to filter a bit more than I do. Fair enough.

One of my more awkward social moments occurred at a crowded Hornswood Christmas party. As per usual the blokes had separated from the ladies and also as per usual, everybody was well on their way to the wonderful world of semi-inebriation. I had just journeyed to the bar and was carrying back five open beers for the lads (not an easy task). I thought I’d check in with the women folk on my way past.

Now just to set the scene, this particular crowd are the more “well-to-do” element of Hornswood. Not that I always hang out with the rich and the powerful (on the contrary actually), but this crowd are more… upper crust, than the bulk of Hornswood.

I eased my way into the big, very neat, social circle, being careful not to spill any of the five beers on my wife or the other eight or nine wonderfully dressed, champagne-sipping ladies. I’ve noticed women’s social circles by the way (and I mean the literal circle of standing women) are much neater than men’s. This circle of women was indeed, perfectly spherical, so as to not accidentally exclude anybody. A men’s group, is more of a random, disorganised, shifting form and blokes have to stand their ground, to not get pushed to the side or ignored.

The ladies continued their conversation. I was friends with most of them.

Jenny – “I was 20 hours in labor, also at Hornswood Private.”

Rebecca – “Oh I feel for you Jen. I was 14 hours and I thought I was going to die. I lost a huge amount of blood.”

Michelle – “I know Beccy, you had a terrible time and we were all so worried. I was 20 hours also myself.”

Gale – “23 hours for me! It was horrible. You know, on some level I couldn’t help but resent my gorgeous baby. I know that sounds terrible.”

Jenny – “No it doesn’t Gale. You’d been through a terrible ordeal.”

I was about to chime in with – “My wife here was 19 hours and was torn like a pocket on an old school shirt”, when a very close friend of ours Sarah, spoke up particularly loudly.

Sarah – “ONE HOUR, FIFTEEN MINUTES THE FIRST GIRL. FIFTY FIVE MINUTES THE NEXT GIRL. FORTY EIGHT MINUTES THE BOY.” She looked proudly around the circle, like she was a self-satisfied old gibbon, perusing with disdain, the rest of the troop.

Gibbon A self-satisfied old gibbon.

In my possibly alcohol-affected mind, I saw Sarah, her information having been presented in a completely mocking tone, sip her champagne with a smug look. All the women in the circle just stood silently and absorbed Sarah’s amazing numbers.

Being fresh from the much more aggressive and piss-taking, lads conversations, I assumed two things.

Firstly, that Sarah (who has always been in very good shape) was suggesting by her intonation that the rest of the women were somehow physically inferior to her, wasting that amount of time on anything as trifling as just giving birth.

Secondly, I assumed all the ladies were thinking exactly the same thing as I was. So I said it.

Me – “Jeez Sare, you must have a fairly big vagina.”

It turns out the ladies and I weren’t, thinking the same thing. Not at all.

There was dead silence. Dead silence! Some women who I didn’t know just stared at me blankly, a few mouths opened but no words came out.

Sarah – “My God.”

I saw out of the corner of my eye, my wife’s head drop. A friend standing next to her, put a supportive arm on her shoulder.

The ladies’ reactions (or more to the point a lack thereof) to my remark, were very different to what I was expecting. I thought they’d all laugh and maybe even slap me on the back and make comments like –

“Nailed her there Jase! That’ll teach her for showing off at the expense of us girls”.

“Thanks for sticking up for us ladies Jase. That was on the tip of my tongue but you just beat me to it”.

“I like what you did with that one Jase”.

“Nice one Jase. Nice one”.

But no.

I turned and took the five beers over to the lads.


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My wife and I were enjoying a great impromptu dinner, with our amigos, Carol and Johnny “Spiderman” (we all call him by this self-ascribed poker call sign).

Me – “I need to raise an important topic.”

Spiderman – “Oh, here we go, a Cool Hand tangent (most my mates call me by my self-ascribed poker call sign). This won’t be important, it’ll be shit.”

Carol – “Quiet Johnny. This sounds important.” She slapped her husband gently on the back of the head. “Yes Jase, we’re listening.”

Me – “I was driving through Hornswood and I had to stop for road works. I sat in my car, at the front of the cue and I was immediately saddened… no, more than that, I was gutted. And then I was outraged!”

Spiderman – Yeeees.”

Me – “I realized at that moment that we’d lost an icon, like Polly Waffles, throwdowns and the Tassie Tiger, that’s gone forever. The person operating the stop-sign, was an attractive young woman, wearing a figure-hugging, flouro safety vest!”

Isabel (my lovely wife) – “You pervert.”

Me – “My question is, where have the old stop-signer guys gone?? WHERE?? It’s been a tradition for, oh I don’t know, about the last 150 years, that the stop-signers were always the grumpy old guys who looked like the lovechild of Willie Nelson and a dirty version of Charles Bronson. The blokes with unshaven faces, long greasy grey hair, with a used-to-be-white hard hat, perched on top.”

Spiderman – “Another beer?”

Me – “Where have they gone?? The old blokes, who, stop-sign in hand, used to stare intimidatingly at Hornswood dads snuggled in their BMW’s or Audi’s on their way to work. The dads didn’t dare eyeball, but just waited patiently because the stop-signers had no doubt once kicked a man to death in a bar fight.”

I sipped my drink. “Hornswood dads didn’t dare drive off too early, while waiting for the sign to be turned, and they didn’t ever get any reaction when they give a thank you wave to the hardened stop-signer. They instantly regretted emasculating themselves by waving.

Where have they gone?? The wolf-whistling, wife-perving, swearing, punting, old dude. The skinny, wizened, sign-leaning, craggy old lads with the Tom Cruise reflecto sunnies who have been working the roads since 1976. The ones who have gained enough seniority to not have to dig, pat down molten tar, or get down and dirty in a hole. Where have they gone??”

Spiderman – “I’m ready for another beer. Your shout Cool Hand.”

Me – “The blokes with the rotten teeth and the ingrained dirtiness which is a badge of honour, only earned from working years in he sun and tar-fumes, while smoking 30 ciggies every day. The old stop-signers, who hold the sign as solid as a rock, in any weather, at any time of night or day and in any part of the city. Typhoon, stifling heat, torrential rain, snow, they don’t care, they just work the sign. The last true bastions of manhood. They are the stop-signers.

And what have they been replaced with?? Buxom, attractive, Irish backpackers!”

Isabel – “Pervert.”

Me – “It’s not like the crusty old blokes can walk into a new job at Maccas selling thick shakes. Any big accounting firms going to ship these guys in to start running their audits? Some of those flashy merchant bankers looking for a few more support staff? Unlikely.”

Spiderman – “YOUR SHOUT!”

Me – “The old stop signers need to eat you know! They need to pay rent and buy a shit-load of fuel! They need to finance a pack and a half a day and 6-8 schooners after work!”

Spiderman – “Cool Hand wouldn’t shout if a shark bit him.” 

Me – “It used to be when a Hornswood dad pulled up next to a hardened old stop-signer, he could fart and check in his rearview mirror that he doesn’t have any boogers. Now there’s “Miss Dublin” standing right next to their window, busily checking her text messages while loosely flopping her sign all over the place, Hornswood dads are heading into their offices with potentially boogery noses and full of wind.

Where have the old stop signers gone?  Somebody knows. SOMEBODY KNOWS!” I sighed and looked down at the table.

92c27b55bf943c57064d2966c0ed8718 Not how a flouro-vest is meant to look.

Carol – “You were right Johnny, that really was total shit.”

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Hornswood is split by the mighty Pacific Highway. Most my close mates live on the West side of the Highway, so I refer to them as “over-roaders”.

We were at restaurant recently.

Ragnar (his self-attributed poker call-sign) – “Cool Hand (my self-attributed poker call-sign) can I grab a lift with you tomorrow? Car’s getting serviced.”

Me – “Ragnar you know I do have legitimate safety concerns with venturing over the Pacific Highway, to pick-up any of you over-roaders.

Our wives just moaned and returned to their previous conversation, which didn’t involve us.

Ragnar had lived on the East side of the Pacific Highway for thirty years of his life, but now lived on the West side. Now that he’s moved over, he calls people who live on the East side, “Flatliners” (because it’s flat and according to Ragnar, it’s dead).

Me – “You know Ragnar, I get very nervous driving to the West side, without a gun, or even a knife for protection. People there are eyeing off my car and my lovely shoes. You over-roaders are used to it, so you probably don’t even notice, they recognize you as one of them.

Ragnar – “For sure you should bring a weapon Cool Hand. On the West side our primary school kids are tougher than you Flatliners.

Me – “I have to get my brakes checked, before I journey down those  f—ing hills on your side. It’s like that initial gut-tensing drop on the Big Dipper. Scary stuff.

Ragnar – “You mean you have to organize for your manservant to check your brakes for you.

Me – “Come on now, don’t be like that. You know my kids get scared going over there. They have nightmares for days. I just tell them to keep the windows wound up and the over-roaders can’t get them.

Ragnar – “Aren’t your kids used to us over-roaders Cool Hand? Somebody has to change the shoes on their polo ponies, mow their lawns, clean their pools and train their mothers at the gym.

Me – “You know I’m only joking Ragnar… I love a visit to over-roader-land, with your cute little houses down there. It’s like a trip to Hobbitville.

Ragnar – “We don’t normally allow you snobby, trust-fund baby, Mosman-wannabee, Audi-driving, Prada-wearing, social-climbing, money-obsessed Flatliners, to journey to the hard streets of the West side anyway Cool Hand.

Me – “The hills! How the hell do you walk up them?”

Ragnar – “It makes all us over-roaders less… rotund”. He pointed at my gut with a look of horror.

We couldn’t keep straight faces. Laughter erupted.

My wife – “You two are such idiots. What are you, twelve? How can you still find that funny after all these months?

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Private school fees hurt. The schools are wonderful for the kids, but the fees hurt. Really hurt.

Andy Hornswood had been home from work for an hour. He’d had a shitty day.

He’d lost a client to his firm’s major competitor, got a dressing down from the Senior Partner, on the train a hobo had vomited next to him and hobo vomit had splashed on his duck-head umbrella. He finally arrived home to find Emily, his eldest, leaving for a party dressed in what appeared to him, to be her underwear. They yelled at each other for five minutes and Andy laid down the well-established law of the household with regard to clothing. Then Emily, dressed in what appeared to him, to be her underwear, turned and left for the party.

He sat down to eat his reheated dinner with his wife Suzie. She looked different, he wasn’t exactly sure why. But he knew he had to notice something.

Andy – “That looks great,” (with a smile and a quick point towards her head). He knew that way he was covered if it was a new hair colour, hair cut or a facial.

Suzie – “Thanks honey. How was your day?” Suzie patted his arm. A little bit too warmly.

Andy – “What’s up Suze?” After twenty-five years of marriage, overt affection immediately aroused suspicion.

Suzie – “School fees have arrived.” She crinkled up her nose.

Andy – “Bad?” His stomach dropped. His day was not improving.

Suzie – “Well… yep.” Another crinkle.

The arrival of the fees four times a year for Tom’s attendance at “Hornswood Influential Boys Grammar School”, was always a somber occasion.

Because Andy was late home, Tom was already on the X-Box, killing hundreds of what sounded like, innocent Russian villagers. Little Chloe was asleep, cradling her One Direction lunch box.

Andy – “How much Suzie?” He sipped his icy cold beer.

Suzie -“Seven thousand, nine hundred.”


Suzie handed him the “Hornswood Influential Boys Grammar School” invoice. He started to read.




Suzie tried to hide her smile. It wouldn’t help the situation.



Andy yelled towards the other room.



Andy’s shoulders slumped. The day had broken him.

Andy – “My umbrella smells.”

Suzie – “That’s ok honey.” She put her arms around him. “Let’s go out.”

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Lots of people in Hornswood send their kids to private schools. I’m not saying it’s good or bad, it’s just the way it is. Lots go to “elite” (not my term, but I assume meaning expensive and hard to get in to), private schools.

Being a bit… rough around the edges, it often surprises people to discover that I went to one. As does my son. But things have changed. Big time. The halcyon days of the 80s are gone. The school is not what it used to be and neither are the boys. They are now soft. SOFT DAMMIT!


In the halcyon days of the 1980s – like many private schools, if you stepped out of line you were flogged like a rum-guzzling convict.

In the unbelievably soft modern-day – there’s no caning! What the?? How the hell do you learn to be terrified of your teachers? Now they even have FEMALE teachers, which make terror nearly impossible.


80s – we had to wear full-length grey trousers, buttoned-up coat, tie and boater, every day while we carried our seemingly lead-filled plastic suitcase. It didn’t matter if it was hot enough to make the tracks at Hornswood station bend.

Modern-day – they have a SUMMER UNIFORM, get to wear SHORTS, no coat and wear a cushy, padded backpack. How on earth do they learn to suffer?


1980s – you pushed, shoved and fought your way to the front of the tuck-shop line. If you made it, you ate. If you didn’t, you went hungry. Older and bigger kids pushed in, then those kids gave “front urges” or “back urges”. It was hell, until we became the top dogs and then we did the pushing.

Modern day – THEY QUEUE! IN AN ORDERLY FASHION! How the heck are they going to learn that the world is unfair and that being bigger and stronger is everything.


1980s – bigger, older and tougher kids, used to bully, bash, rumble, harass, steal lunches, brow-beat, mock and generally make life hell for, most students.

Modern-day – bullying is “bad”, is “not allowed” and they have to “respect” each other. How is this ultra-soft generation going to learn that you cannot go through life being small, weak, or different? Who teaches them that it’s obviously a sign of being “gay” if you – were in air cadets, did debating, played tennis, cared, went in the library, participated in any form of acting, cried from the cane, did art, were nice to others, dared to show any interest in the choir, volunteered for anything or just listened in class?? How do they learn the concept of ganging up?


1980s – the good old days of compulsory rugby. Boots were over-the-ankle, black, BOOTS. Jerseys – long-sleeved, heavy and cotton. When they got wet they were freezing, constricting and as heavy as a rained-on dooner. The balls when they got wet, doubled in weight and were as slippery as a greased hog.

If you lay on the bottom of a maul you were rucked out of the way by big lads with rough metal studs. At half-time, we had two pieces of orange. If you came up against a bigger, stronger pack you got pushed backwards in a scrum until they won it, or you collapsed under their weight. Showers were ice-sludge-in-an-esky cold.

Modern-day – rugby is “optional” and the SHOES are light with moulded studs. Jerseys are synthetic, short-sleeved, don’t hold moisture and the wearer doesn’t even get cold. Balls do not suck in water and are nicely dimpled for grip. You cannot ruck anymore, it’s now called “stomping”. THEY DRINK WATER. If a scrum becomes too one-sided so it is obviously dangerous, they go to “non-contested”. They have hot showers after practise. Hot!

Also, in the soft modern-day – trains (and classrooms for that matter) are AIR CONDITIONED and the doors actually close, making it impossible to lean out and try to touch the train passing in the other direction. Not all teachers are old enough to be your grandfather and have been through WWII, and they even know your FIRST name. At cadets they learn survival skills. We marched around the oval. Just marched.

I worry for the modern generation of private school kids.

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My son is a teenager, a young adult I suppose. Some of the physical, emotional and social changes he is going through are wonderful and are vastly improving my relationship with him. Drawing us even closer. Some of the changes on the other hand are f##ked and make me feel our family would be better off if I sent him away to boarding school and rented out his room to three heavy-drinking Irish backpackers.

This time of change, brings about many… changes.

A wonderful, positive “my son is now a teenager” change –

I can watch “MA” movies, I don’t have to make him look away at the violent scenes and he understands the plot. The other day I am sitting watching that Kevin Costner/Sean Connery classic, “The Untouchables”. Halfway through the movie Capone picks up a baseball bat and beats a disloyal mafia dude to death… and I didn’t have to get my son to avert his eyes! During that same movie I explained the concept of “prohibition” and it was understood. This now opens the way (much to my wife’s dissatisfaction) for masters Clint Eastwood, Bruce Willis, Sly Stallone, Joe Pesci, Quentin Tarantino and Bobby De Niro, to play a much bigger part in our lives.

Freaken annoying “my son is now a freaken teenager” changes –

When I am standing there (hypocritically) getting up my son for receiving a less-than-sterling report and a complete lack of effort, I used to look down at him. It gave me a distinct air of superiority and authority. Now I am looking down just a little, it’s probably more like I’m looking across at him. Some of my stature has been diminished and with it has my mandate.

All his peers, for want of a better word… stink. It used to be that you could pick up 3-4 of his mates from rugby doing the car-pool lift home, and you could tell if they were eating lollies because you could smell the “Redskins”. Nowadays, you have to have every window open because they smell like a wet hessian sack full of taxi drivers (with all due respect to those cabbies who don’t smell, I’m not talking about you).

Our wrestling events, be they over the remote control, possession of the prime couch-spot or just a random biffo, are now much closer, hard-fought events. It used to be that my 70kg weight advantage meant my wrestling moves (namely the Backbreaker, the Facebuster, the Drop Down-Town and the Cutter) were more than enough to overcome his pathetic ones (the Boston crab, the Piledriver, the Doomsday Device and the Atomic Drop). Now, his moves really hurt.

My only son, now makes me cover up my tattoo before I go to any event at “Hornswood Affluent Boys Grammar”. It’s of utmost importance that I do not appear too loud, too outgoing, too convivial, too party loving or too tattooed, to any of my son’s teachers, his peers, parents of his peers or his myriad of female friends. Basically, I have to immediately stop being me.

He will not leave his f##king hair alone. Understandably, with a bald dad, bald uncle on my side, bald uncle on my wife’s side and bald-as-a-badger grandfather on my wife’s side, he will not have hair for too long. So he’s enjoying it while it’s there. They may invent a cure for baldness by the time he is in his twenties and he won’t have to try to fight nature as I did, but until then, DON’T CONSTANTLY TOUCH IT. He and all his mates are forever sweeping their hair to the side, preening, flicking, pushing, lifting and wafting. I know this is hypocritical (again), because in the 80’s, living in Hornswood and attending “Hornswood Affluent Boys Grammar”, our hair was relentlessly dyed, bleached, doused in hair spray, gelled and moosed, but I think it’s the father in every generation’s right to complain about his son’s hair.

Things change when our little boys, become young men. They become secretive (who knows what the hell is going on in his room), they sound like Russell Crowe, they need to shave, they won’t do homework, they are constantly on social media, they bully their sisters, they hate your radio stations, they eat like John Candy, they get zits, they dominate the television, they need to be driven everywhere, they spend money, they argue (every opinion or request of mine apparently needs justification), they know everything, the opinion of young girls is more important than any opinion their mother may have, they sleep in half the day and they wake up surly.

We love them dearly, but freaken hell!

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I went to a Saturday night, impromptu BBQ about a year ago at one of our really good friend’s houses. It was meant to be just the hosts, being Kelly and Luke, and us. At the last minute Kelly’s brother Trevor, asked if he could join in. No problem normally right? We’d never met Trev, but I’d heard plenty about him for quite a number of years. What I’d heard was all bad.

Trev is… a never-bring.

Like most people, when we go to a friend’s house we bring whatever we want to drink, plus a bit extra for the hosts. We also bring a few nibbles as a contribution. That’s what most Hornswood people do. However, not a “never-bring,” no sir. They turn up with zippo, regularly.

Don’t think the fact that they have turned up with nothing, means that a “never-bring” goes hungry, or thirsty. Oh no. They drink as if they’re the lovechild of Mel Gibson and David Hasselhoff and they eat like the offspring of Elvis and Kirstie Alley.

That night (I was admittedly on the lookout for never-bring shenanigans, due to Lukey’s heads-up), it didn’t take long for Trev to oblige. When he helped himself to the first of my low-carb Blonde beers, I didn’t say a word. After the second and third of my refreshing beverages were being washed down his throat, I held my tongue. Despite him also turning out to be a major whinger and oozing tall poppy syndrome.

When he got up to go to the toilet, my wife spoke softly to me.

My wife – “Now I know Luke told you how much it annoys him and Trevor has had three of your beers, but remember he’s Kelly’s brother. You brought twelve, you’ve got plenty left.

Me – “But the freaken never-bring is drinking faster than me“. I was feeling all the brother-in-law-rage poor Lukey had pent up over many years.

Trev returned to the table, with a fourth one of my beers. He cracked it open and looked closely at the label.

The never-bring – “Blonde? Low-carb… this is a f–king girl’s drink!

Me – “OH FOR F–KS SAKE. If you don’t like it, here’s an idea, BRING YOUR OWN. You’re a never-bring and you’re complaining about the type of beer which I brought, of which you have drunk four, without even f–king asking. You never-brings have got a hide.

The never-bring – “What’s your problem Jase? Stingy?” The never-bring smirked at me, and sipped my icy cold low-carb beer.

Me – “Jesus Christ Trev. Do you not see the irony in you calling me stingy? Do you seriously think your company is so wonderful for your sister and brother-in-law that you don’t have to contribute to the evening in any way? That the beers which your brother and I have provided somehow become shared property amongst the three of us?

I bring stuff,” he replied. This was a lie.

Me – “I’ll bet you don’t Trev. I’ll… bet… you… don’t. If by some freakish occurrence some bloke happened to be giving away free six packs of beer out the front of Lukey’s house here tonight, and you were given no choice but to bring it in with you, I bet it’d be Tooheys New… and you’d end up drinking his Coronas! YOU’RE A NEVER-BRING TREV. You’re a burden on your family.

Just then Kelly and Lukey returned to the veranda from the kitchen with the potato salad and the garlic bread. My wife, Trev and I sat in obvious silence. Trev had an angry look on his face.

KellyWhat’s happened?

Me – “Your brother’s a never-bring,” I stated. Factually.

Kelly spun around and looked at her husband. “A what?

Lukey – “Oh no”.

I gave Lukey a bit of a nod, meaning I’m sorry I dropped you in it mate, but what else could I do?

I think it’s time, we the good people of Hornswood rise up and unite against the never-brings. They need to know that we are not going to put up with their advantage-taking ways any longer. Be they brother, sister, neighbor, friend or newsagent, their time is nigh. If you know any of their kind, you must confront them. Like a writhing, screaming vampire we must drag them out in to the sun. NEVER-BRINGERS, YOU WILL TAKE ADVANTAGE NO LONGER. Your day’s are gone.

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