LATELY — 26 December 2001

Boxing Day Message

Why are so many fuckers are updating their WEB PAGES and SENDING EMAIL on CHRISTMAS DAY? You can’t have all got NEW COMPUTERS.

I’m chomping down on some boiled lollies from Suga, that shop at Chadstone that makes candy in the store, in front of customers, on a very big hot-plate. This sometimes produces odd smells, especially if anything black was involved, but it always draws big crowds.

I got the lollies from my little cousins. They bought off-cuts, so about half the lollies have “BRETT LOVES SARAH” stamped on them. For Christmas I also got a cookbook, an Ali G book, the game Twister, and some other bits and pieces.

Hey, did you know that “Whiskas Kitten” comes in three varieties? A “with Chicken”, a “with Beef”, and an “with Lamb & Pumpkin”? Here are the first few ingredients of each (in Australia ingredients are listed in order of decreasing weight):

with Beef ingredients:
Chicken, beef, lamb and pork; gelling agents …

with Lamb & Pumpkin ingredients:
Chicken, beef, lamb, pumpkin and pork; gelling agents …

with Chicken ingredients:
Chicken, beef, lamb and pork; gelling agents …

(Trev alerted me to this.)

I tried taking pictures of the box on the shelf but … have you ever tried taking pictures in a supermarket? I only managed to take one before some store manager (plus a second) bore down on me from the fruit and vegetables department. “No photographs allowed,” they said. “Why?” I said. “Obviously not our decision”–this was said not apologetically–“but edict of the head office.” It wasn’t very expensive so I bought the box, but then forgot to take photographs of it before lending the camera to my father.

Quick: read the first few paragraphs of this story on Oliver Sacks. Was this written by an Australian?

No, it wasn’t. And most of the time I can tell, because Australians can’t write like this.

I don’t think this piece is even terribly well-written. The first sentence–“Oliver Sacks wants to show me his scars”–is a crashingly unsubtle lead. A lead is supposed to tease, but only gently. The perfect lead should leave the reader thinking that their desire to read on is the result of a genuine (and very much abiding) interest in the subject at hand. But this lead appeals to a baser desire: it promises to reveal why a gentleman neurologist sports scars.

Some florid paragraphs follow. Still, they show confidence (“But he will have none of that.”) and command (“Prosperous and respectable at 68…”)–two attributes usually missing from Australian journalism.

For the most part, Australians have neither high standards nor high aspirations.