Sydney International Airport: a rant

Sydney International Airport is a joke. This is one of the richest countries on earth, so why is the toilet door off its hinge? And why are there always queues outside the women’s toilets. Also why does all the food taste like photocopy paper and why does the immigration area feel like you are trapped in an iron blouse? It’s airless, there’s a smell of yesterday’s donut mixed with armpit and the constant threat of an anal probe.

Sorry to get political, but this is what happens when you outsource to the private sector. Turns out it’s fairly efficient not to clean the toilets properly and not to build enough in the first place (let ’em queue, let ’em queue). It it costs nothing to lease to food outlets at extortionate prices so they cannot provide food that doesn’t taste like a service station. It’s fairly easy to cut off natural light and even easier to provide bad chairs. Comfort, be gone! They want you as uncomfortable as possible so you will get out of your annoying chair and go shopping.

Sydney Airport can get away with being third rate because we have the world’s finest harbour, so anything else, like say infrastructure doesn’t matter. Also Sydney Airport is not on the way to anywhere in particular. We are not Singapore or Dubai, vying to become a gateway airport and not much publicity is ever given to Sydney Airport. As soon as visitors arrive and are shunted into the blinking sunshine their airport hell is forgotten, just a piece of airport roadkill in their great overseas adventure. Ditto as soon as we locals leave, Sydney Airport just becomes part of the pre-travel lead up nightmare. No-one talks about it, no-one mentions the airport in blog dispatches, it’s ephemera in the travel experience.

I realise there are more pressing issues in the world, like say fiscal economics and the scourge of deconstructed pop-up food trucks but Sydney is meant to be a world class city and that should mean it has an airport that doesn’t smell like a hellish bus ride. We’ve already had a hellish bus ride in the skies to get here or we are about to have one, so is it too much to ask for someone in charge to give a flying kangaroo about making the airport a nicer place?

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The insatiable craze of tasting plates

The current fad for tasting plates makes me want to break some dishes. Preferably Greek style. I want to break them one tiny tasting plate at a time until all the world’s tasting plates have been eliminated and we can get back to one square meal on a non-square plate.

According to this self-styled foodie, tasting plates are a cunning, not to mention, successful way to drive profits. These tasty sharing plates come with a rather hefty price tag, usually retailing at $16 and upwards.

According to restaurant marketing people, the ethos behind the whole tasting plate craze is that you share them and make the meal a convivial experience and in so doing make the world a better place. Possibly even create world peace between Greeks and Germans. At least until you get the bill.

It seems that tasting plates are really just a pimped up entree. How else can you explain that menus now offer the option of tasting plates followed by the main meal? How else can you explain the augmented price tag? How else do you explain words like pulled pork belly on a bed of cauliflower puree and passionfruit sauce? Not to mention duck and Bunya nut cream or any words involving spanner crab and lettuce.

I reckon tasting plates are a good way to spend good on garnish and a weird meat and the sooner the tasting plate craze gets unceremoniously sent back to the kitchen to wash dishes, the better.

Blue ties, nothing but blue ties …

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Tony Abbott and his gang members need to sack their colour therapist, who I suspect is Madam Credlin.

This surreal sea of blue ties we’re seeing lately is not looking safe, secure, responsible and adult. It’s looking like a poor excuse for some actual policy and credibility. Do they really think that if they wear a blue tie people will think they are all grown up now?

These ties are not only boring but they show any speck of dirt plus any egg or tomato that’s been thrown at them. Also they only look good when they are done up properly – the PM’s tie has been strangely skewiff lately. Yes, Peta, you have to dress him now too!

And don’t think that the women get off scott-free either. I’m sick of women in a slightly controversial position wearing white. Julia G. and Julie B. both have worn white when in a sticky situation (which in itself is not a good idea!). Also Margie, the usually missing-in-action First Lady, wore white during the reset speech at the National Press Club a few weeks ago. But during spillgate, she was back in a boring blue suit.

La Bishop, again white on Strange Sunday, the day before the spill, then a white jacket during the spill and then back to navy blue a few days later in parliament.

White does not make you pure, above it all or unbiased. Blue does not make you safe, secure or reliable. Being unbiased makes you unbiased. Being responsible makes you responsible.

Pollies – please don’t mess with colour. It’s making me see red.

Sir Tony and the Chief Corgi

“Hark, Sir Tony”, exclaimed HRH Queen Elizabeth, Royal Garter to the British Empire and Dame of the Oceanic Colonies, far far away.

It was a shame Sir Tony lived in these afore-mentioned colonies. She rather fancied Sir Tony and felt a little flutter every time he frogwalked into the palace. She’d reprimanded Prince Phillip many times for calling him the court jester.

If she had her way she’d like to play Spot the Corgi with Sir Tony in the double poster while Sir Phillip was taking a nana nap. After all she’d done it with Sir Rolf Harris after the life drawing session and that had rounded out one’s afternoon quite nicely.

Those colonials went off at the sight of a tiara in a four-poster bed!

Sir Tony entered the room in his funny walk. “M’lady, ma’am”, he blubbered. She motioned the servants and real court jester out of the room.

“Sir Tony”, she extended a sequined arm and she could feel a little stirring in her own southern colony at the sight of those strange skimpy red knickerbockers she’d been told were so popular in the antipodes.

“Ma’am, milady”, he said. “If it’s ok with you, um, ah, I’d like to knight your husband.”

Elizabeth HRH blinked and her royal garter shook with astonishment and then she said this.

“Sir Tony, you’ve had a long sea voyage. Many days and nights, you’ve risked life and limb to see me. It’s natural you should feel a little delirious.”

“On the contrary, m’lady, I’ve never felt so sane. After all he’s done for Australia, it’s only right.”

“Oh, well, alright then. He is running a little short on titles. It might cheer him up, he was beginning to feel like a useless, pompous old git, but if he is made Chief Colonial that might pep him up.”

Sir Tony beamed. “I was hoping you’d say that.”

Elizabeth HRH’s eyes narrowed. “But there is this one condition.”

“Anything, your eminence. Just name it and you can have it” Tony burst out.

“Well old Sir Phil isn’t up to a little Spot the Corgi these days”, she said. “So you’ll have to do. And make sure you wear those red knickerbockers, one would be most amused. I myself will be in the royal drawers”.

Sir Tony went pale. HRH was HRH, not girlfriend material. He was more a fan of the animal print Amazon with the drink driving charge. Speaking of whom, once Peta found out that he’d bonked the queen he’d be needing his own new set of underwear.

But duty beckoned. And so did the queen.

Meanwhile elsewhere in the palace, Sir Phillip nana napped the noon away, dreaming of far-flung outposts where aboriginals still threw spears at each other.

 

Are the Sydney NYE fireworks a waste of money?

Public funds went up in smoke at the start of the year when Sydney saw in the New Year in its usual over-the-top way. It may seem un-Australian to say this out loud, but do you think Sydney’s NYE celebrations are over-the-top and in these variable economic times should be scaled down?

No politician will touch this debate, which probably means they are scared that people will hate them even more, but will they? I have conducted a thorough survey (asked three friends) and all of them thought that the fireworks were overly extravagant and a waste of public funds and that they were beginning to get, well, kind of boring. They have a point. Once you’ve seen the Harbour Bridge look like a massive electrical explosion half a dozen times you’ve seen enough fireworks. In fact, is it just me, or did this year’s lightbulb visual look like a penis? OK, just me.

My in-depth survey also revealed that the fireworks are aimed at pleasing international tourists and the uber-rich (it’s a night when opera tickets cost $400 and that doesn’t even include a $70 bottle of champagne) and anyone lucky enough to be invited to the Lord Mayor’s Party.

The official figure on the cost of the fireworks is $7.2m but what is the betting it is even higher than that. The taxpayer (apart from those taxpayers who are happy to wait around for 12 hours in a harbourside spot with no alcohol) are probably not getting $7.2m worth of value, especially when there are cutbacks to basic and not-so-basic services.

Pollies think we love our fireworks, that it defines Sydney and that it brings lots of tourists and makes us look special to the rest of the world.

All of this may be true, but I’d like to think we are grown up enough that if a politician was brave enough to explain to us the real cost of the fireworks and what that meant we had to forego (decent public transport, hospital beds, bins on Bondi Beach just for starters) then people might be inclined to accept a scaled-down version of this extravaganza. Surely we are grown up enough now that we don’t actually have to overcompensate to make the rest of the world love us.

Here’s some alternative ideas – fireworks that run for a shorter duration, a sound and light show, more emphasis on spreading out celebrations to Sydney’s major centres like Parramatta, Chatswood etc.

It’s time we put a lid on how much, as a society, we are prepared to pay for 15 minutes of fleeting fame, when public infrastructure and services are strained. I reckon it’s a cracker of an idea. What about you?

 

The Coalition’s Christmas Vacation Lampooned

Back in July when Joe was shivering under his Bart Simpson doona, he decided it would be heaps of fun to go on holidays with his friends. As he had no actual friends, that meant he had to go away with people from work. The people at work were nice. Mathias and he sometimes sneaked a cigar in the garden and danced together in the office. Fun times!

Joe told his work colleagues his big vacation idea and, as none of them had any friends either, they said they’d come along, but where to go? Clive Palmer had offered them executive suites at Palmersaurus World but Tony didn’t want to hang out with the dinosaurs. Jackie Lambie had banned them from Tasmania, so that left Coffs Harbour. Peta stepped in and got them some luxury apartments and their very own pool boy.

This was the perfect choice. Best of all, their esteemed leader, Tony, could go for a bicycle ride on the Pacific Highway in the truck lane.

But poor Christopher Pyne was upset. He lobbied and petitioned to have the Team Australia vacation in Adelaide but no-one was listening, so he burst into tears and blubbered inconsolably all the way to Coffs .

Apart from him everyone was happy. Especially Barnaby who could go to The Big Banana, his favourite place in the world.

Andrew Robb could gaze at the ocean and think the sea levels weren’t rising.

Julie Bishop could learn to surf the waves of discontent from pretending she didn’t mind that Peta was derailing her career.

Peta herself was happy. She planned to hang in the cabana lounge with the 2015 planner and a pistol.

The rest of Team Australia settled into the bunker, aka the Chairman’s Lounge, with a few bottles of Disappointment Creek Shiraz, a gift from Alan Jones and planned their minibreak.

Their initial idea had been to just spend a few weeks relaxing by the pool, drinking Pina Coladas, taking walks in the rain, just like your average battler. Alas, poor polling numbers meant that Peta told them to pull their finger out and use this valuable vacation time to get out into the countryside and connect with the peeps.

But first things first, Tony had to take off his shirt and compete in the Coffs Classic Ironman Competition.

Tony shimmied into some lycra and Team Australia dutifully cheered on their man, then they retreated to the Chairman’s Lounge, for some more Disappointment Creek Shiraz. Julie tried to open a Margaret River Pinot Grigio but Barnaby said that was for girls, so she sipped stonily on another glass of Disappointment Creek.

Christopher Pyne was the first to crumble. Big tears of disappointment rolled down his puffy cheeks and he wailed and wailed about being bored and petitioned Tony to be allowed back to Adelaide. Peta relented and Christopher clapped his hands with glee and disappeared into the blue afternoon in his Audi A3 never to be seen again, but there was a rumour that he was eaten by bats.

Meanwhile Joe Hockey was anxious to show voters that he cared and understood about their problems.

So he gave his driver the afternoon off and hopped into his Jag and started sweating profusely all over the leather interior and mopping his brow with the sheer effort of driving. He made the mistake of heading into Boambee Beach RSL, where he was kidnapped by old-age pensioners and made to perform sexual favours for the over 80’s. As an impoverished sex worker he was not able to drive far.

Barnaby had no such hangups. He got into his Mercedes 4WD and motored up the Pacific Highway and got out at The Big Banana and knocked back a Pina Colada. Alone. And in the rain. But better than drinking inside with that wet, Malcolm Turnbull.

Speaking of Malcom T, he sat glumly and alone with his Disappointment Creek Shiraz, pondering his bleak future, which didn’t exactly involve homeless cats,  but may as well have, such was Malcolm’s glumness. He changed his online status to “Small L Liberal”, a sackable offence, but Tony, not being a techhead, didn’t find out and the rest of Team Australia had long since blocked him on Twitter.

He got into his private helicopter and journeyed to the nearest upmarket hippy enclave he could think of. Luckily for him, this was Byron Bay. He lobbed into Kerry O’Brien’s pad, and they spent many hours romancing the tome that Kerry was writing about Gough Whitlam. At last Malcom was with his people and he slipped into a silk kimono and started drafting the new Australian constitution.

By this time Julie had had enough and although Peta challenged her to a jelly wrestle, Julie knew she would definitely lose. So she shimmed into a Prado pantsuit and high-tailed it to New York for an assignation with her secret boyfriend, Kevin Rudd.

Man’s man Mathias went mussel collecting and in manner of Harold Holt was never seen again.

Kevin Andrews choked on a pineapple and carked it. Not even Peta’s Heimlich Manoeuvre could save him from the rough end.

Now that she’d got rid of everyone, Peta decided to go to the beach to see her boy complete his Ironman Classic. But when she arrived she saw a sad ripped pair of speedos with the words Team Australia on them. The ABC was there reporting and she could overhear Tony Jones saying, “Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been taken by a drone named Christine Milne”.

At this point Peta peed her pants and was last seen being chased by greenies. Rumour has it she was fed to the new colony as a slave, assigned to the ABC’s new Humpty Doo branch.

The End.

Weekend in Burnie with The Three Wise Men

In the year of our Lord 2014, there were Three Wise Men, Tonyavalot (who governed for the small but dominant Havealot tribe), his accomplice Shirazcigar Jo and El Clive from the strange northern lands. These wise and powerful men had much influence and favour with the gods, but were sadly misunderstood in their own lands. One night after a customary banana split and cigar they looked to the sky and pointed.

“Hark!” said El Clive, the largest of the three. He held a monogrammed, gold-plated telescope to his eye. “I think I see something bigger than me!”

Shirazcigar Jo, who used to be a fat kid himself, gave an inward sigh. El Clive always got the best lines.

Tonyavalot was intrigued, how could he use this next big thing to his best advantage, considering he had failed to use the other big thing, El Clive.

“I’m not a tech head but what do you see in your giant abacus there, Big C?”

“It’s a telescope, dumdum”, said Shirazcigar Jo in a peevish voice, but no-one was listening.

“Hark!” exclaimed El Clive for the second time that night. “It’s a giant comet come to guide us. From this day forth it shall be known as Clive’s Comet”.

“So, what is this comet doing?” asked Tonyavalot, sniffing an opportunity to press reset on his ragged week.

“It’s called Clive’s Comet and its moving south”, replied El Clive.

“By south you mean ….”

“Tasmania”, said Clive with a look that approximated fear but was very hard to tell. It might have just been wind.

“Well, maybe we should follow the star and it might teach us about economic policy,” said Shirazcigar Jo.

“I have long studied the bright star”, said Tonyavalot. “It is prophesied that it will guide us to The Chosen One, he who is sent to earth to give me untold power and influence and marry my chaste daughter, the artist.”

“Whatever. I’m up for an adventure”, said El Clive. “All I know is we have to follow Clive’s Comet. Besides Tasmania is flowing with King Island milk and Huon Valley honey. Plus there’s ice-cream.”

“And while we are there we might even be able to take out the Lamb named Jackie, the Terror of the South”, said Tonyavalot.

“How will we get there? asked Shirazcigar Jo. “It’s too far to drive, and I don’t want to catch a boat with all the poor people”,  he whimpered.

“Stop whinging Jo, we are wealthy and wise remember. We will take our private flying chariot.”

And with much ado about nothing, the Three Wise Men were thence whisked to Tasmania in their flying chariot.

When they arrived in the port town of Launceston they looked again expectantly at the night sky. Clive’s Comet shone brighter still. It was leading them west and they felt sure they were being taken to Cradle Mountain, a golden temple where every whim would be attended to. Alas, twas not to be and they veered further west to a distant place called Dismal Swamp.

When they got down to the swamp they came across a makeshift manger, surrounded by the Lamb named Jackie, Xenophon of Adelaide and Annabel Crabb, a scribe with a basket, who hailed from the left bank of the disputed ABC territories.

“Greetings, O Wise Men” said Xenophon of Adelaide. “I came here by mule, as befits my humble yet enigmatic persona. Whereas you Wise Men three, took the gravy train in order to follow the night star.”

“Clive’s Comet” interjected El Clive.

“Ha, Clive’s Comet up your ass!” scoffed the Lamb named Jackie shaken from her lambielike innocence. “You are the devil himself, and I’ll not kowtow to you.”

She fixed her black gaze on Tonyavalot. “As for you, dark lord, the night star has brought you to Burnie to meet me, since you won’t reply to any of my messages I sent by carrier pigeon.”

“Um, ahh I am a very powerful and busy man”, said Tonyavalot in his most important voice. “And, I am searching for the chosen one, who most certainly is not you.”

“Evening Wise Men all”, chirped Annabel, who was revered for her knife skills and hair curlier than the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Tonyavalot turned to her. “What hast you, fair lady in the basket? Is it a gift for the risen son? For we too have brought gifts for the wonder child who will help me inherit the earth and marry my virtuous daughter.”

“And fix the budget deficit wrought by Labor’s Debt and Deficit Disaster”, added Shirazcigar Jo.

“Did you remember dessert, fair Annabel with your rosy cheeks and fair jowls?” asked El Clive.

“Cheeks and jowls are the same thing”, said Xenophon of Adelaide. “Let the lady speak, El Clive and then you can have your cake and eat it too.”

“Well, it’s not an episode of Kitchen Cabinet, you know. You might have noticed there’s no film crew here” said fair Annabel.

“Oh, I just thought that was due to budget cuts”, winked Tonyavalot.

“That’s not funny, you psychopath”, snapped the Lamb named Jackie. “Do you want me to bite your tiny package right off?”

“We need to put that to a referendum” said Xenophon of Adelaide.

“Do not speak of the holy package in front of the child”, said Shirazcigar Jo.

“Speaking of which”, said Tonyavalot, “I want to see the chosen one.”

“Well, since you insist,” chirped Annabel sensing a column coming on. “I shall do the grand reveal.”

“Please, no Annabel”, said Shirazcigar Jo. “I’m married”.

“Oh, come off it. You sleep with a Bart Simpson doona for Chrissakes”, she said. “I’m revealing now so pay attention.”

She delicately moved the red and white checked blankie to reveal layers of ragged newspaper copy detailing Tonyavalot’s last ragged weeks.

When the last newspaper was lifted, hark! There flew out a hundred barnacles with wings, like Harry Potter quidditch balls. They circled menacingly around Tonyavalot’s head.

“Look, they’ve got little red speedos on”, cooed Xenophon of Adelaide.

“Poo, they stink” announced El Clive.

Like a man possessed, Tonyavalot brushed them off but the barnacles wouldn’t come off him, instead they started attacking and biting him in many Old Testament areas of his body, front and back.

“Oi, go for his package” called the Lamb named Jackie. “Even though it’s small, bite hard.”

“Get these barnacles away from me!”, Tonyavalot squealed uncontrollably in the manner of Christopher Pyne.

“They seem to like you”, Annabel quite reasonably pointed out. “In fact I think they have little names on them. It’s the names of failed policies, here’s one that says Paid Parental Leave. Oh, look, ABC funding cuts”

“Shuttup you meringue-munching leftie. Let me see the child, I must see my own male protégé, made in my image”. Through a haze of brown barnacles, he laid eyes on the child then gasped. In a makeshift manger with straw there was a hideous venomous monster. He went pale and started shaking uncontrollably.

“What is it m’lord?, asked Shirazcigar Jo. “Have you seen the devil himself?”

“No, much worse. A swinging voter in a marginal seat with fire and torment in his eyes. I feel sick, I’m going to vomit, I haven’t done that since Alan Jones was mean to me. Oh woe! Oh lamentation!”

With that, he ran away. He ran up a hill tormented all the way by barnacles. It was a big hill but as a very athletic man he could certainly sheik it.

“What’s he doing?” cried Shirazcigar Jo.

“Seeking asylum no doubt” said Xenophon of Adelaide.

“Remember Tassie is girt by sea” cried the Lamb named Jackie. “You’ll have to be smuggled in a boat to New Zealand to get away from them barnacles. Let’s hope it sinks!”, she added.

“Look the show must go on” said El Clive. “The Dalai Lama told me that. Or was it Kamahl?”

He moved towards the manger.

“We’ve brought gifts, little voter. From me is a replica of my head, fashioned from opals and rubies, from Uncle Jo is a $100,000 debt paydown for a perfect education and from Tonyavalot is his grandmother, who he’s just sold.”

The little swinging voter made a noise like BARF, and threw a massive tantie, which everyone ignored because it was dinnertime.

“Well, comrades, where are we going to eat? It’s like Bethlehem at Christmas time here, everything is closed” said El Clive.

“Don’t look at me”, said Annabel, “I can’t do the loaves and fishes trick from just one basket.”

“Tell you what”, said the Lamb named Jackie, “Club Burnie is open, it’s only half an hour up the road. All we have to do is follow the light on the hill.”

“Oh, please,” said Xenophon of Adelaide, “Why does everyone wax lyrical at Christmas time?”

“You can all pile into my Tarago” said the Lamb named Jackie.

“Senators, half an hour is a long time in a Tarago” said Xenophon of Adelaide. “Is there a game we can play to pass the time, you know, like Spot the Sane Senator. We haven’t played that in a while.”

“I’ll read some sacred poetry I wrote in 45 minutes in the year 1984” said El Clive.

And lo, they piled into the people-moving driving coach and the Lamb named Jackie conducted it. Even though they had enough room inside, they decided to strap Shirazcigar Jo to the roof. On the way they thought they heard Tonyavalot’s screams as he was bitten by barnacles. At the sound of his screams the Lamb named Jackie felt her spirit stir in the golden girdle department.

And lo, a chicken parmigiana and banana split later, that is what happened to the Three Wise Men at Christmas and how it came to pass there was peace on earth across the Great Southern Land.