Archive | November, 2011

Beautiful Byron – too many people, too few waves

30 Nov

Surfing on the north coast can be a frustrating experience. It’s pretty cutthroat out there; especially in Byron Bay. Catching the waves is the easy part; it’s dealing with the pack that’s the problem. There seem to be a lot of men out there who have evolved into a kind of man-fish thing. Their hands are the size of flippers and they get onto the waves with about two strokes.

The pack takes your measure pretty quickly. Woe betide you if you paddle for a wave and miss it. From then on every time you attempt to catch a wave someone else will come in from the front or behind or materialise out of nowhere. It gets depressing.

My lack of action surf-wise has often given me plenty of time for observing the line-up. In a typical Byron Bay pack there are:

(a) The old crusties – weather-beaten old dudes who remember Byron Bay when you had to go looking for someone to surf with;

(b) The grommets – school age kids with no respect for their elders;

(c) The surfing lawyers – the new wave of surfers, distinguished by their tight name-brand clothing, shiny surfboards and superior attitude.

A number of questions usually jostle in my mind as I watch them. Why aren’t those kids in school? What do these people do for a job? How is it, regardless what time of day I surf, the same people are there? Are they really the same, or so similar I can’t tell the difference? Why hasn’t someone done a postgraduate study to answer all these questions?

So, next time you see me out there, letting all the waves go by, it’s not that I’m an incompetent surfer. I’m working up my PhD funding application.

‘Liar Bird’ takes flight

25 Nov

In stores 1st of January! Byron Bay launch January 14. Love to see you there. Please RSVP to the Writers Centre.

 

 

I hate yoga

22 Nov

I have been doing yoga for over ten years now. Theoretically, this should mean I am now as bendy as a pretzel and as spiritually enlightened as the Dalai Lama. But perhaps you need to do it more than once a week for that to happen.

                It’s not like I was even a complete novice ten years ago. I’d done one or two classes back in the eighties, before it became the fashionable pursuit it is now. In those days you never worked up a sweat. It was all about lying around as the incense wafted over you.

            Back then, there was only one type of yoga, Hatha Yoga. Nowadays there is more variety than you know what to do with – Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram, Kundalini, Jivamukti? It’s like choosing milk in the supermarket.

            But going to yoga classes is much better than watching yoga videos. Some of those are pretty hard core.

            Have you ever found yourself on your back, knees either side of your ears, looking up at a hole in the crutch of your tracksuit pants? Add a dressing gown cord around your ankles, a soccer ball between your thighs, a Tupperware container under your bum, a pillow under your shoulder blades and your head on a picnic blanket. All whilst being told to breathe deeply and enjoy the deep serenity these poses bring. No? Just me then.

            But I keep going back. Because it’s good for me. Because I sleep better. Because yoga instructors look amazing and I want to look like them.

So I will relax, rid myself of negative thoughts, breathe in the silver, blow out the black and get myself some more down-face dog.

You have mastered the chair very quickly (overheard in Byron Bay)

16 Nov

We hear them every day, those wacky or strange slivers of conversations without a context. All we can do is imagine what came before and after. An afternoon eavesdropping in Byron Bay could provide enough fodder for about twenty books. I always have my pen and paper handy. Just the other day I enjoyed overhearing the following:

I don’t want to be her sex toy anymore (one teenage boy to another). As you can imagine, my heart bled for this poor boy. Here he was, looking for someone to read books with, play backgammon, discuss philosophy and all she wanted was sex, sex, sex. That’s the trouble with girls these days; they’re only after one thing.

You have mastered the chair very quickly (hammock-chair salesman to potential customer who is attempting to sit in it): Since when did chairs have to be mastered before they could be used? Nice positive feedback though. And nothing like having a chair that only responds to one master to make you feel good about yourself.

Your mind just takes over! (said in amazement): Funny how it does that.

There’s toxins everywhere (one sunbathing woman to another): Perhaps, but I’d be more worried about skin cancer myself.

If there’s a kid he can relate to, I know they’re a Steiner kid: I have nothing at all against Steiner, but this couldn’t help but narrow the playmate field a bit.

We were meant to be together. If she had been free and I had been free, it definitely would have happened (very old man to slightly younger man): Now there is an epic love story just waiting to be told.

Does anyone else have a fabulous snippet of conversation to share?

The Anti-Domestic Goddess (dinner on the table in thirty minutes or less)

7 Nov

I quite admire Nigella Lawson. I love the way she swans around licking cream off her fingers and proffering her bosom with the profiteroles. If that was all it took to be a domestic goddess, I could probably manage it. Apart from the bosom part, Nigella has it all over me there.

Cooking is very sexy. Men who can cook are like men with guitars; it’s hard to go past them. And if they can cook and play guitar, well… look out. I don’t mind cookbooks either. They’ve always seemed a little like soft porn – all that sautéing and simmering, the basting and rolling. Who needs erotic fiction?

I come from a family of fantastic cooks. My mother has published several recipe books and my sister has picked up the baton, so, what happened to me? Sometimes I think that recipe book Four Ingredients may have been overdoing it. Left to myself, I would probably eat pasta with cheese on every night of the week.

My choice of recipes is governed by one thing and one thing only – time. Recipes have to be achievable in thirty minutes or less.  Spaghetti bol, lasagne, curry, fried rice, baked fish and chips, spinach pie, lemon chicken or frittata in half an hour? Impossible? No. Come around to my place any night of the week and I can prove it. But I think I could improve my performance. Dinner in Twenty Minutes is the recipe book I would buy in an instant.

Do you have a favourite quick meal?

Down the plughole

2 Nov

It being November, there are now only eight weeks to go until Liar Bird hits the shelves. In celebration, I thought I would share a short extract.

Chapter One: Down the Plughole

If it wasn’t for the long-footed potoroo, I might never have heard of Beechville. But I suppose I can’t entirely lay the blame at the potoroo’s door – Warren Corbett must also take his share.

There have been many influential figures in my life, people who have opened doors at the right time, given words of advice, turned me on a path I might not have taken. Of all of these, Warren Corbett looms largest.

Wazza, as he’s widely known in PR circles, was my first boss. More than that, he was my mentor. Do what it takes, girl, but don’t let them catch you, was his favourite saying. Second was, When in doubt, deny, deny, deny.

He’s old school, Wazza. PR Ethics hadn’t been invented when he made his first million. It was my luck – some would say karma – that I ended up at Winning Edge Public Relations still wet from my communications degree. That was when the learning really started.

Wazza taught me everything I knew – how to set up ‘grassroots’ front groups which look and act just like the real thing; how to infiltrate real groups if need be and, most importantly, how not to let your conscience stand in the way of your career. He said it was important to look ethical; actually being ethical was optional and probably unwise.

He was the learned master and I the eager student. I sucked up his wisdom as thirstily as any magician’s apprentice. Good old Wazza, he’s still there, doing his thing. God knows there’s no shortage of clients ready to fork out for his golden touch.

Out of all the graduates who applied to his company; fifty or so, he picked me. Why?

“I trust my instincts, Cassandra.” He’d leant over his massive glass table, a whiff of cinnamon aftershave drifting towards me from his shiny cheeks. “In this game, you have to. And you… I can sense something. You’re smart, but they’re all smart. You look good, but they all look good. You’ve got something different though.” He’d placed his hand-rolled cigar in an ashtray and pointed his immaculately groomed, gold-ringed, finger at my chest. “You are hungry.”

He was right.

He told me later – only half joking – that he’d been worried I’d leap over the desk and sink my teeth into his jugular if he’d knocked me back. I’d laughed politely, showing just a hint of fang to keep him on his toes.

To be continued…

Is there anyone who doesn’t love to see a PR girl take a dive?