Archive | Daily Life

Articles from my column on Fairfax’s Daily Life website, which has appeared since the website began in 2012.

I’m disorganised. Pity me

In Year Seven, I went to a high school where I didn’t know a soul, so had to make a name for myself from scratch. I was like Rabbit, Eminem’s character in 8 Mile when he first goes to the rhyme battles, only instead of baseball caps and baggy jeans, everyone was wearing a tie and what Scott Morrison would call an ill-fitting suit.

I’m proud to say that it took me just a few weeks to establish the identity that stayed with me until the end of the year. I was the Kid With The Messy Desk.

I was also the Kid Who Looked Ridiculous While Singing In The Choir Because He Opened His Mouth Too Widely, as some kind older kids were delighted to tell me, but the Messy Desk brand proved to be the enduring one. Continue Reading →

How to survive Election 2016

Brace yourself, Australia. The 2016 federal election is roughly seventy days away, and if you want to know how long that is, it’s several weeks longer than your longest holidays in high school – even if you went to a private school.

It’s going to be gruelling even if you adore politics – even junkies can overdose. Several respected political reporters will be reduced to gibbering heaps by campaign’s end, and several commentators will be transformed from gibbering heaps into reasonable people.

If you aren’t into politics – that is, if you’re normal – it will be like being slowly having your teeth pulled, without anaesthetic, while the world’s most boring person reads statistical manuals to you. And because the Commonwealth for some reason doesn’t fund dental care, you’ll have to pay for the pleasure. Continue Reading →

Why are we still paying for stuff with pieces of plastic?

Cash is king, the old saying goes. Well, it’s time that particular monarch was overthrown. How is it that in 2016, when we carry the internet in our pockets, we still conduct transactions by exchanging brightly-coloured pieces of plastic with numbers written on them? And how is carrying a jangling bunch of metal coins around in any way efficient?

Coins and notes were useful instruments in their day, but that day is over. Increasing numbers of us no longer carry notepads and pencils wherever we go, or look at the mechanical hands of a wristwatch when we want to know the time, and it’s time for the practice of carrying cash to follow these devices into the dustbin of history. Continue Reading →

The piece on procrastination I’ve always meant to write

I’ve always been a procrastinator. I’ve been meaning to write about this problem for a while, but never quite got around to it. And then, out of the blue, Daily Life suggested it – presumably after several years’ experience with my work habits.

And yes, it’s true – my approach to any task is to work out how late before the deadline I have to start, and then start considerably later.

At uni, I got to the point where my standard approach to any essay was to start the night before – even the 6000-word ones. As the years passed, I began them later and later, until I wasn’t starting until dawn on the due date.

From the outset, let me be clear – this is a really bad idea. Continue Reading →

Putting the ‘mine’ in mindfulness

This is the decade of mindfulness. The practice, which derives from meditation, is being credited with all kinds of benefits – helping with depression and stress, pain management and even physical fitness. It’s apparently the mental equivalent of going for gelato.

So what precisely is mindfulness? Hmm, or perhaps, omm. It’s not easy to pin down.

Wikipedia defines it as “intentionally bringing one’s attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment”, which is roughly as clear as mudfulness. Continue Reading →

Forget aged care. This is awesome care.

“Help the aged”, Jarvis Cocker sings in the Pulp song of the same name. “One time they were just like you.”

His examples of those similarities in the next lyric aren’t necessarily great – “drinking, smoking cigs and sniffing glue” – but it’s a sweet sentiment nevertheless.

The rest of the first verse is “Help the aged, don’t just put them in a home, can’t have much fun in there all on their own.” And that’s the part I’ve always wondered about. Continue Reading →

Why hasn’t my band made the Hottest 100 yet?

Every year, the arrival of triple j’s Hottest 100 fills me with sorrow. Not because my near-total ignorance of the songs in the countdown is a sign of my ever-increasing age, although it is. Nor because for the past few years, nobody has invited me to a bangin’ Hottest 100 party, although they haven’t.

No – I mourn because every year, the Hottest 100 features a grand total of no songs by my band. Zip, zero, zilch.

It’s been that way for ever since the countdown started. A whopping 2300 songs in all, and my band has none of them. How is that fair, when Powderfinger have something like six hundred? Continue Reading →