July 30, 2014


Yes folks you heard it here first. Dr Peter Jansen, one of the top wigs at ACC has been caught taken a company perk - an internal DSM-IV assessment by one of this three close work buddies who wish to remain, understandably, quiet. 

However, we have obtained a copy of this assessment and records indicate Dr Jansen is actually suffering from a DSM-CIP Syndrome. It's not, unfortunately, a rare problem.

Apart from the obvious symptoms of selective amnesia when it comes to conducting expensive, tax-paid, research, he also expresses hyper-manic self obsessive disorder, thinking he is someone of grand importance and that everyone ought to listen to him. If not, then at least his hand-picked cussy bro. More worryingly is the official DSM-CIP diagnoses - "Completely Incompetent Prick. Person". 

Is it any wonder why all these "clients" are being fogged off. That poor man. He's been suffering in silence all this time while we (okay some) have practically bashed him in the Press. We ought to have really looked into Dr Jansen beforehand, extended our hand in mutual mental illness and welcomed our brother home - I mean, we don't have a stigma, right?  

Whilst I agree with ACC Advocate Mr Wadsworth, that the "SCU senior and technical staff have consistently demonstrated they are not up to the job, including its senior medical advisor Dr Peter Jansen.” I do think he could be a little more sympathetic. I mean, it's a hard diagnosis to hide especially in such a public arena, although, rumor has it, Minister of ACC Nick Smith also suffers the same "disorder" and has no problem expressing all the symptoms right in front of cameras. 

In any event Mr Wadsworth - I agree: “Now it’s time for ACC to shutdown the dysfunctional unit." Dr Peter Jansen should now concentrate on ...um, what's the saying again? That's right!...focusing on his family. 

April 24, 2014

The Redundant Mother

"I was twenty. A mother of three, married and divorced." 

That was how my Mother's justified leaving her three young kids back in the 60's. At the time, my father was a violent drunk - which made her decision to leave him, a good one but leaving her kids with him? Deplorable.

A lot of women were in the same position as my mother and most of them remained in violent marriages because, quite frankly, there was no alternative. For that reason alone, the Domestic Purpose Benefit (DPB) was literally a life saver and the only requirement (at that stage) was proof of parenting - kids. 

My how things have changed. 

Today, there is no DPB. For a parent of a child over the age of 14, there is what's called a Job-Seeker Allowance. In effect, it's the same as an unemployment benefit whereby you have to be up and ready, looking for those jobs (that magically produce out of thin air), and you have to provide confirmation of interviews, personal statements or lists of vacancies applied for, and written correspondence to verify unsuccessful applications. 

You get NO money until you have satisfied these requirements.

In reality, it means a single parent, probably still smarting from a painful separation and having to put up with the angst of their children shooting off 'blame bullets,' now needs to put on a happy face and risk rejection on the job hunting front - over qualified, under qualified, and more recently - too old.

I count myself as one of the lucky ones. I have a job. I have a home. The only money I get is what I earn. What I don't have is a backup plan should anything go wrong cause then, it would mean a move back to New Zealand and probably a place in that infamously demoralizing job-seeking queue - Kiwis are not eligible for ANY benefits in Australia. What I also don't have is a partner. I am a true-blue single parent. No other parent in my child's life. The downsides are obvious - loneliness, a feeling of isolation, and no accountability - which can sometimes, be a great thing. More importantly, I don't have to have my child return from her father's house where he gifts everything to her, shows off his new life (which is so much more affordable when you don't have kids full time), and returns with an attitude that just eats away at what little self esteem is left from a daily dose of job seeking. 

However, what I do have in common with my single parenting sisters is an overwhelming sense of being overwhelmed. If I want to go out to dinner, it's twice the price. If I need a hair cut, it's twice the price. I earn a single wage and yet everything costs twice the amount cause typically, whatever you need so does your kid. Kids in a family with two parents generally have two wages and so, everything is halved. You want to go on holiday and the parents (2 people) chip in for the child's costs. As a single parent - well, you just don't go on holidays. My rent is not halved cause I am a single wage earner nor is my electricity or gas. 

I do not and never will EVER regret having my child. She has repaid me a thousand times more for things money can't buy. But here comes the clincher - she's getting to the age where she will fly the coop and then what? 

I saw an Oprah Winfrey show once about mothers that grieve when their child goes off to college - in the States, that generally means they leave home. At the time, I couldn't fathom grieving over being childless - I could very well have been buried under a tonne of nappies at the time. But now, I feel the time is coming. I think that's why kids go to school camps - it gives the parents practice time for the day they leave for longer than a week.

When my kid went on camp I cried for three days. Later, she went to New Zealand for nearly a month. I didn't cry but I practically stalked her on the Internet and one night, I called her just to yell at her for not calling me. I was completely irrational, driven by panic that I couldn't reach her, she couldn't reach me, that I couldn't do what I had done all her life and that was to be there for her. 

I think one of the hardest parts of being a parent is letting go. Like most parents, I want my child to go off and explore the world but I'm haunted by visions of me clinging to her ankles at the airport. Letting go is a parenting skill and like most parenting skills, it's learned on the job and with no manuals - you just make the shit up as you go along.

And if you're a single Mum going through all this  - job seeking, getting rejected, having your kids look at your different (maybe even resentfully), struggling financially - then pat yourself on the back. It ain't easy. 

Being a true super hero never is.

March 15, 2014

A Gentle Man - Part 1

I spent an age trolling through the images of this wonderful man trying to capture his spirit and through all the campaigning, and angry mob-looking, hand-waving, energetic photos, I stumbled across this one and it made me stop in my tracks. I'm not sure whether I picked this because it makes me feel better - he does look rather smug - or whether this was the real Tony Benn thriving in one of those rare private moments. 

I've have often thought of Tony - feels a little disrespectful to call him by his first name but Sir makes me feel all of about three years of age and I'm pretty confident he'd have hated that title (smile)..labels just weren't his 'thing'.  But thanks to him, I earned one of my very first "titles" - I was a journalist and not just any old journalist, I was a New Zealand International Foreign Correspondent. It didn't take me long to adopt Tony's view on labels - they're just things slapped on you, very hard to live up to, and 99% of the time, they're imposed on you with a very hefty price. As was the case with my forging Journalist career. 

I first met Tony in 1992. I'd like to say it was by accident but I practically stalked the poor boy. My first visual of him was on the television, swamped by protesters - something about C.N.D (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament), and a reporter that was more interested in his own voice-overs than anything Tony tried to say. I then found myself doing a really weird thing - I tried to look around the TV screen to see whether I could lip-read what was being said....Plan B....I know what I'll do - I'll just give him a call - as you do. 

I wasn't completely mad. I did have a plan and it went something along the lines of.....I shall call the House of Commons, his Secretary will answer, she will realize I am a nobody, fob me off, and I will sit back down on my couch with the TV blasting and tell myself:  "Well, at least you tried." Good plan.

On the eve of the 1992 Gulf War while everyone watched the bombing of Kuwait, I called the House of Commons. I looked at the little candle lit in my lounge window signalling to the rest of the world, I was anti-war, and waited for his grumpy secretary to strip shreds off me for wasting the man's precious time but nothing went according to plan - someone threw a rock through my lounge window and Tony answered the phone. 

And there it was - my first words to this gentle soul was "Jesus! Holy fuck!"

He didn't hang up. I don't know why. Maybe he gets a lot of calls like that. Instead, he just patiently waited on the end of the line until my brain could scramble some English words together. I considered telling him about the candle - go for the sympathy vote so to speak - but thought he'd redirect me to some crisis helpline and that was going to waste time. In the end, I managed to explain my intentions - I was going to interview him about the Gulf War.....get really famous and rich - although I left the last two major incentives out at the time.

" Excellent. Would you come to my office on Friday, say around 10?"

I had three days to find out who this man was let alone what I would ask him regarding the War, and I knew nothing about both. I didn't have Internet back then but if I did, it would have saved an agonizing trip to the local library looking through index cards hinting at where the hell they hide their books. In the end, I endorsed the help of a very enthusiastic Librarian who seemed quite impressed that I was interested in this man. 

"Oh he's just so wonderful," she said, sounding like a groupie. "I'll get you his diaries."

Diaries? I was a little taken aback that he'd have his personal diaries in a public library but if they were anything like mine, they'd be a minefield of information - favorite restaurants, wine intake, and who the hell pissed me off that day. A scoop for sure. 

To be continued.....

April 20, 2013

Wee Willy whimpers

First of all, how do you spike your own drink? 

Now, I have thought about this... obviously... and, surely, there needs to be an element of surprise to spiking one's drink or what's the point? Did he put the shit in his drink and then forget, and then was surprised? That would certainly qualify as a "whoa, what the hell is going on here" trip by which time you've moved onto getting yourself off. And how long after that is it you trip into methodical mode and ensure you take yourself off home safely - you know, in case there's any weirdos about? " 

He didn't spike his own drink. Well, he did only not in the traditional sense. He used it as an experiment to accelerate some rather unusual sexual tendencies and if caught, could blame his outer ego (or inner child, or multiple personalities) for "making him do it." They have to start somewhere, right?

What is worrisome is, where to from here?

April 19, 2013

Road Trip - part 2 (Navigation)

You never really get a sense of how big Australia is until you leave the house. 

Day one of our Road trip was a wee test really. The aim was to drive the car to McDonalds, just up the road and take delight that we need not leave the comfort of our seats. Yes, we would eat like Kings! Finally! Oh the power! When, in reality, we knew we would eat crap food, feel ill, and return home but that was the goal, and goals are goals. 

Pulling out from a stationary position into oncoming traffic was not one of my smartest moves but the quick, stealth-like, turn of slipping down a slip road was ingenious, albeit, within two nanoseconds we found ourselves a little way off our intended route. Not to worry; we were both armed with our mobile phones and each had an exact replica of a man who dishes out directions in a bored monotone.... "In 500 meters, take the third exit off the....." 

Off the what, the roundabout, the planet, the what - I'm fucking here now!" 

Another tactical manoeuvre later, and we're in Rockdale. Now, look, I know there is about 10 kms of misinformation that took place during that time, otherwise we'd not be here, right? But surely, sure as the night turns to day, there's a McDonalds here!

We did see one. In fact, we saw quite a few on our trip. You never really get to appreciate just how much that organisation has infiltrated civilisation until you pass by five or six stores, all on the other side of a four-laned highway. And yes, I said highway for the obvious reason - we were bloody well on one! 

Lauren's suggestion, to just stick to the right-hand lane at all costs, would have logically brought us back in a 360-degree angle, and from there, well, we could just go home really. But no, that mother-knows-best thing was in full swing - I have not travelled the whole entire planet to be fooled by stupid logic! 

I blame the street lighting or should I say, the lack of - really, it's like they want you to plough a million-miles-per-hour into a brick wall just so they can justify the cost of safe driving campaigns. Or worse, they make four lanes merge into two and give you a five second decision-making zone  - now should I allow Lauren to take one half of the car in THAT direction while I check out what's on this side? Really?

Our goal had changed. Food was no longer a priority - survival was. Oh, and the fact that under no circumstances were we to end up in Sydney's CBD, which is exactly where NAVMAN took us!

Look, I like the CBD just as much as the next person but I prefer the view from a stationary standing upright position and only cause I know I get distracted when I look up. I don't have time to make mature decisions like, where the fuck is the car going? And I sure as hell don't have time for repetitive statements that only deepen in intensity the more you say it - Is this a one way street? It IS a one way street? And Sydney is a city that never fucking sleeps! There's people and pedestrians, some are both - cars and trucks and trains and planes, all these people going here and there and no bastard giving a flying shit whether we get McDonalds!

By now all I want is a wine. Lots of it. Yes, it's true. I have found me, yet another, trigger but of course, common sense kicks in - driving while drinking wine out of a broken-down cask is just plain tacky and you have to keep both hands on the steering wheel anyhow. 

You'll be pleased to know we did find McDonalds. Oh alright, McDonalds found us. It was about a two minute walk from work by which time we needed to pee anyhow so the plan was foolproof really.

This road trip is going to be a breeze! 

Road Trip - part 1

Was asked: "How was the trip?"

Well, it had good bits and then there were some not so good bits, and in the middle, well, it was undetermined - could've gone either way, really.

The concept of roughing it, camping out under the stars, was appealing at first, until reality set in. 

We had hoped to see some of the wildlife. Not so sure they were that thrilled to see us and they might have shown some of that animosity right about the time I contemplated a stretch of Yoga under the Southern Stars as an ideal and somewhat earthy thing to do. You get karma brownie points for doing that shit, you know!

Anyhow, ended up having a glass (or four) of wine in a somewhat freaked-out-upright position wondering whether Kangaroos had seen the Slenderman game and Lauren and I were just their Saturday night playthings. Lauren kept yelling out random brainwaves like "Get the letters!" - thinking it would encourage my agility skills as I hightailed it to the toilets conveniently situated in the direct flight path of what can only be described as "Kangaroo Ganglands" a million miles due south of the car.

But don't be fooled. Being inside an 'open-for-all' semi closed concrete box with your pants around your ankles does not fill one with a sense of relief. No! Instead, you are made acutely aware of all those YouTube videos of three-foot spiders under toilet seats and coiled snakes in the bottom of sinks. I stayed longer than I needed cause I wasn't sure I had finished - peeing out of necessity or sheer terror is a hard concept to break down in a hurry.

My own immediate thought at the time was I had to return to the car to fight off the kangaroos who were by now (I was sure!) munching on the last remains of my only child. The fear of having to explain that to the Authorities was enough to propel me back towards the car, very much imitating a kangaroo on speed and with no obvious sense of direction. 

The look of sheer horror on Lauren's face, as I neared the darkened windows of the car, made me think.... she is either taking her last breath (fucking kangaroos) or I am scaring the shit out of her myself. After a lot of high-pitched words were flung about the inside of the car, none audible to humans, it was unanimous: I was not a suitable candidate for outdoor living and we had to move closer to civilisation before I really hurt myself. 

...to be continued

January 20, 2013

Yes, well I survived the Australia's hottest day on record. The picture does no justice. It takes walking around in the searing heat to truly understand. A few days before, when the temperature reached 45 degrees, I likened it to walking around with a blow-dryer on full blast directly in your face. The only way to survive that day was to dash into the local trendy book store, grab any old classic, and act conflicted about purchasing in a speedy exchange for free air-conditioning.

I thought that was bad enough but Friday was even hotter - 46.3 degrees and more if you were unfortunate to be stuck on a train platform for 40-forking-minutes - delayed cause (get this!) the overhead wires were "melting". 

To put it into perspective, I bought 12 bottles of water from a store and put them in the freezer. The theory was I was going to get healthy and drink one of the little suckers every day. When the heatwave arrived, I considered myself well prepared. I took one bottle (half a litre) out of the freezer and plopped it into my handbag. It weighed a tonne. By the time I reached the station and waited for the train - a mere 30 minutes (at THAT stop) it had bloody well melted. 

Having said that, I appeared to the unsuspecting onlooker, as a well prepared traveller and for a while there, I felt guilty at not sharing my prized possession. To tell you the truth, I hate water. I shouldn't. It's the best thing since sliced bread when your gasping for fluids. I'm just a little late in realizing that. But that day, I used it as an immediate respite, like an ice pack, against the searing sun's effect on my skin - it truly was like standing in front of a heater, only it was 360 degrees of heat and once you eased the burn on one part of your foot, or shoulder, or neck or..... you went back to the foot, the shoulder, the neck...it was a full-time occupation - like someone suffering from silent tourettes and a frenzied body rash.

I moaned like shit in New Zealand about the weather and how I couldn't wait to be continuously warm. I yearned for warmth. I dreamed about it. I guess, it's true what they say: "Be careful what you wish for"... right?