M2 widening –

I see that the state government is widening the M2. That’ll be nice – an extra 3 kilometres of extra lane should go a long way to soaking up 1.3 million Sydney cars (the approximate population of people who live in new housing estates in the north-west called Opus Heights or Perkins Mount). Oh yeah, that should do it.

Because definitely what the northwest does not need is a trainline. What would all those millions of people in Sydney’s fastest growing area need a boring old train line for? Not when they can sit in traffic for two hours just to go to work. Well, that’s why they go to work isn’t it? So that they can buy a car – they may as well get to use it.

I know there’s a bus – Fatty O’Barrell if you are reading this blog – have you tried crossing two lanes of freeway to sit in the middle of 4 lanes of freeway waiting for a Sydney bus? It doesn’t work so well.

All ranting aside, the widening of the M2 won’t ease traffic anyway. It’s a rule of traffic that the traffic expands to engulf that extra 3km. After about 2 weeks the difference will be negligible.

In fairness, the quagmire that is Sydney traffic is not Fatty O’Barrell’s fault and nor was it Kristina Keneally’s. They say we get the government we deserve. Sometimes I think we should be more like the French and protest more.  Protesting certainly hasn’t done the French any harm, eight weeks holiday and a 35 hour week and a bit of me time at lunchtime … or is that you and me time? Trouble is, unlike the French, we are all too weary to protest – the M2 can do that to a person.

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The Paris End

The phrase “Paris end” is bandied about almost as much as the phrase “plated up”.

How many times have you heard: Paris end of Collins Street, Paris end of Paddington, Paris end of Narrabri – ok I just made that one up. But here’s the thing: the Paris end of anywhere south of, say Paris, pretty much just means an extra tree and a coffee machine. Or maybe a second-hand bookshop and an outdoor bench.

And higher prices. 

The Paris end is kind of like a wedding/carbon tax/GST/fuel, flood or fire levy rolled all into one.  Coffee $9.50, friand $15.30? Well bien sur, you’re at the Paris end. Someone has to pay for this Parisien je ne sais quoi.

In fact je ne sais quoi is probably what any actual Parisiens who visit any of our Paris ends probably think. Quickly followed by WTF. Grande WTF actuellement. And even more quickly Mega Merde Maximale – call this Paris?

Ok, so let’s give a not-so-Gallic shrug, take a deep breath in and get back to just moderately extortionate coffee prices and call the Paris end what it actually is. Which is a bit of road with an extra tree the property developers forgot about and a dodgy seconds store. Sounds like the Aussie end to me, and I’m OK with that.

Ban Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi

If I hear another Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi chant during any national celebration – Australia Day, The Ashes, Oprah visitation, I think I’m going to stab someone in the windpipe with a bbq fork.

What does this ridiculous chant mean? As far as singalongs go, it has no actual rhythm or melody. Also there are no actual words, verbs or call to action – unlike the Barmy Army who earn gold stars for wit and can carry a tune. If anything, Aussie Oi sounds like something coming from the Swedish Chef from The Muppets – while he’s on drugs.

And … it’s unAustralian. It’s antagonistic, jingoistic and ballistic. Where’s the poignant feeling of Waltzing Matilda? We are a people (or used to be) who celebrated failure. Take Gallipoli or John Howard’s tracksuits. Not that up-its-own-fundamental sound of Aussie Oi.

We never used to hear that braindead chant, it’s something that’s sprung up in the last decade, and now it’s trotted out at every opening of an email. Sure – I know it’s a hell of a lot easier to remember than the national anthem, but we’ve got to be able to come up with something better than that. Let’s put the flag on hold for a bit – just a bit – and get to work on a new sporting ditty. Oi to that. (You know the rest).

The world’s best

Is it just me or is any time you see “The World’s Best Cup of Tea/Coffee/Meat Pie/Apple Pie/Pizza or even Service as you drive through Australia, you know you’re in for a pretty ordinary meal.

Doesn’t seem to matter where you are, you could be passing through the most amazing farmland, with bountiful produce, rolling hills splashed with grass fed waygu and chickens that dine on organic corn fritters and avocado salsa, but the minute you see that sign: World’s Best Hamburger, well you just know it’s going to be a flavourless, stodgy affair, complete with grizzly bits and damp lettuce.

I don’t know if it’s just a matter of a straight oversell. I mean World’s Best, Australia’s Best is a pretty big call. I’ve noticed that some signs now starting to self edit their bestness, and are calling themselves The South Coast’s Best or Lismore’s Best. This may be reducing margin of error by a factor of about, say 20 million, but somehow it still seems a big call, even if we’re only talking about Lismore.

I have a new driving food stop strategy. If it says best anything I’ll give it a miss. Even if it’s world’s best scones at 3pm when I’m starting to feel like a sugar carb cream hit served grandma, I’ll give it a miss. That’s where junk food truly comes into its own – it makes no claims to be the best food in whatever town you’re driving through. It just  gives you your hit – whatever your poison (sugar, caffeine, salt, carb, chocolate) and although it might make you fat and mess with your blood sugar levels, at least it doesn’t mess with your head.

Summertime and the living is uneasy

Summer holidays in Australia come at the wrong time of year. Summertime in most countries is a benign, warm, pleasant time of year – perfect for getting outdoors, hiking, soaking up the rays, but here in Australia, it’s beginning to mean bushfires, shark attacks, dangerous rips and temperatures out of Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen.

There is nothing relaxing about bolting all the doors and anxiously listening to bushfire reports. Or even if there are no bushfires, there’s nothing outdoorsy about four consecutive 44 degree days and there’s nothing good about consuming your body weight in ice cream because it’s so damn hot and well, there’s nothing else to do, apart from wander around a Westfield near you.

In this weather people should be in the office where it’s nice and airconditioned and our big six week holiday should be moved to a more conducive time of year – say Easter. March has the warmest sea temperature, making it ideal for swimming, it also has sunny days and cooler nights (but not to cool) and if you want to go outside and walk or picnic – it’s around 25 degrees in most parts of Australia which is the UN sanctioned perfect picnic temperature.

And there’s no holiday stress build up like there is with Christmas – Easter is easy. Just pop a few chocolates and then drive off in the car – a perfect start to the holiday.

So, forget about the republic, the flag, the national anthem – let’s concentrate on the big issues – our holiday enjoyment is at stake here.