Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Travelling Tooth Fairy

Husband has been off on one of his periodic business trips, this time encompassing a week up in Asia – he travels often enough for the glamour of travel to have begun to tarnish so far as he is concerned, whereas I find even the thought of check in a positive excitement. I’m sure some of this passion for flying comes from a childhood immersed in a steady diet of the Biggles books – I loved the way that Biggles plus his sidekicks Ginger and Algy streaked their way across the skies and through adventure with a careless ease that made equal light of German bullets and engine failure over the Congo. By the time I was a teenager I’d moved on to Arthur Hailey and ‘Airport’ and become a junkie for the logistics of airports.

However before I get too distracted by airport fiction I have read, though I do have to mention a classic called “Air Hostess Ann’, a story that more than lived up to its alliterative promise, I should get back on Husband’s track. He was in the midst of a week typified by the feeling of ‘It’s Tuesday, where am I?’ as he clocked up meetings, planes and countries at a frightening rate. Checking into a hotel in a new country late at night he apparently opened his suitcase, pulled out his socks – note rolled into snails by his devoted housekeeper of a wife, though with no guarantee of matching pair, and something else fell out of the case. As he bent to pick it up he realised it was a human tooth. Being by nature, cautious and a complete hypochondriac, he immediately felt round his mouth to check he hadn’t managed to spit out a tooth without noticing!! As one who has just endured two hours in the chair having hideous things done to my teeth in the name of dental longevity I find it incredible that anyone can begin to think you don’t notice a tooth falling out.

Having ascertained there were no unexplained gaps in his mouth, his next thought apparently was that perhaps it had fallen out of one of the customs men’s mouths during a baggage inspection– again my eyes boggled at this one. You can expect piercing screams echoing round the customs hall should I even suspect any official to be on the point of scattering teeth in the direction of my luggage.

Once I had stopped laughing, wifely sympathy obviously being my strong point, we decided that the tooth was probably one of the Drama Queens’ baby teeth that I must have shoved in my jeans pockets or the like, though looking at the thing – as obviously he brought it back and tenderly placed it on my bedside table, it looks distinctly large for a child’s tooth. I suppose the upside is that at least even if unidentified it is only a tooth – just think of the horrors of finding other body parts in your luggage.

Have to raise my hand and say I am not keen on teeth. One of the professional hazards of my job working with primary school children is that they are always loosing teeth and baring bleeding gums or threatening to wiggle teeth that are quite obviously hanging on by the proverbial thread. Like most mothers I kept the first few teeth of each child, somehow throwing them out seemed like a desecration, but now finding the cache of dental relics makes me shudder. However I am sure I am not alone in having egg cups and little boxes stuffed with teeth around the place, perhaps it’s time for tooth throw out day – an event that is definitely going to include the unidentified incisor.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It ain't over till this fat lady sings - Opera on Sydney Harbour

Ever the optimist I am a complete competition addict. I only have to see the words “Win” and I am off composing ditties, entering photos of my nearest and dearest, twisting short stories to fit bizarre themes and recording barcodes of tins destined to sit at the back of the pantry for all time. Rather mortifyingly my success rate seems to be higher in those competitions where chance is everything, no skill required. To date winnings include a set of white towels (excellent for demonstrating to Drama Queens the permanent nature of fake tan), a coffee machine, (much excitement about this one until it arrived and proved to be smaller than the kettle, useful if you had the seven dwarves popping round, limited enjoyment if you actually wanted a full sized cup of coffee) and a set of surfing lessons – these last were great fun and introduced my middle aged body to a whole new set of challenges, not least how to smile winsomely at the twenty year old instructor whilst simultaneously calculating whether the amount of water I had swallowed placed me officially in the drowning category.

Besides being optimistic, and obviously competitive, I am also the most dreadful show off. Give me a twinkle of the limelight and I’m there, so when I heard about Sydney’s 702 Radio’s opera competition – I was off like a portly greyhound up the track. In what I think is the most inspired competition ever, they asked people to summarise an opera plot in 140 characters – eg Tweet sized, with the prize of a walk on role on the opening night of La Traviata, which is being performed on a giant stage in the middle of Sydney Harbour at the end of this month.

The mere thought of the opportunity of nipping on stage, frocked up, in company with half of Opera Australia, in mercifully for all concerned, a non-singing role, was enough to get me stirred into an operatic frenzy. There is the added bonus of four tickets to opening night for my adoring public eg family.

The fact I know nothing about opera plots beyond the fact that most of them can be summarised with the words “Bad news Mother, all dead.” didn’t deter me in the slightest and I am now a walking compendium of frankly bizarre plots and have also been introduced to one of the funniest books on the topic, ‘The Times Opera Notes’ by Robert Thicknesse who reduced me to the great snorts of laughter befitting a true operatic diva.

Just as well I’ve had some fun out of the whole thing – because the winner is announced today, first costume fitting tomorrow, and sad to report, the phone hasn’t rung – time to throw myself on the floor in a travesty of grief whilst reaching for a high note and beating my breast.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Comfort zones for trailer trash

Have been pondering comfort zones this week and that popular mantra about getting out of them. Given my ultimate comfort zone is a bath with a book and chocolate in theory I don’t have to step too far to haul myself out of the zone.

After a 25 year break I have gone back to rowing. I should clarify here that a) I mean the on the river with oars, nothing so jolly as boats, type of rowing rather than the arguing with husband sport that actually I have been practising pretty consistently for the last twenty years and b) when I saw I rowed 25 years ago I was pretty hopeless then as well – eg there was a reason that conveniently I appear to have forgotten that I didn’t persist on the ‘Wet Bob’ front.

I have been sucked into subbing in a Ladies social four on an intermittent basis – which gives my body a bit of time to recover before the next shock to the system. We row up one of the many arms of Sydney Harbour and today was the most perfect morning to be out on the water. Balmy sunshine seemed like a complete gift given the almost continuous rain of the last month that has resulted in over 70% of New South Wales being on floodwatch on Friday.

Having rowed 13 km today I am now sporting a fairly impressive set of blisters and have developed a crab like crouch of a walk. The box of plasters might as well be strategically placed next to my side of the bed at moment as I have also managed to loose a big toe nail – it finally fell off last night after my inept attempts to strap it in place with a bandaid resulted in my almost cutting off circulation to my toe and waking at two a.m. convinced I was on the road to gangrene. Given I couldn’t rip the plaster off – as at that point vanity dictated I try to keep remnants of toe nail in place, I then had to try and operate on myself to remove the death grip plaster with a pair of blunt baby scissors whilst balancing on the side of the bath.

On the serious side of out of the comfort zone manoeuvres, for reasons that are completely beyond me, I found myself having to pick up a boat trailer that has been sitting in a field for 5 years, drive it through a gate and then tow it 10 km or so to a garage to organise re-registration and general maintenance. I want to say it’s a 20 foot boat trailer here, but fear I may be exaggerating – but if I say it is big enough to stick a boat that seats 8 on it, you get the general picture. I have never towed a trailer in my life so the prospect of this little outing was enough to have me waking in terror in the middle of the night. I felt I couldn’t confess how terrified I was by the thought of trailer towing other than by making a joke of it, but I really did feel sick at the prospect.

I am now happy to fling my hands up and announce to the world that I am no longer a trailer virgin. I have taken a trailer through a gate, round a roundabout, across two lanes of traffic and defying all odds actually managed to park the thing, though I did spend some time scouting a parking spot that didn’t require any reversing. What the whole thing did make me realise though was that being frightened of doing something new is quite normal. That there were things I could do, and indeed did, that made the whole thing marginally less terrifying including visiting the garage on a recce visit and checking out the route – the garage guys at Middle Harbour Marine are now my new best friends as they were total stars and kept their faces straight whilst they calmed my nerves, fixed trailer, screwed on new number plates and lent me nuts and bolts to attach rego label holder. I also press ganged a friend to come with me as moral support and more importantly as a spare body to hold the hazard triangle when I either broke down or more likely absent mindedly side swiped a top of the range BMW – (based on experience I never crash into bottom of the range wrecks).

The thing I had forgotten about these type of out of comfort zone experiences is the amazing feeling of euphoria, cartwheels down the road joy that you get when you have tackled something you were frightened of/unnerved by and you’ve conquered it. Somehow I must pass on to the Drama Queens, sometimes it’s the things you find hardest that give you the most satisfaction – on which note off to re apply plasters and consider when I tackle trailer reversing for beginners.