Boxing Day Message

26 December 2001

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.