Ten things I learned travelling with kids

jarjarOver the Easter break, I went travelling with my four-year-old nephew and one-year-old niece. (And their parents, obviously.) I thought it’d be a wonderful chance for some family time, and it was, but in many respects it was a handy reminder that there’s plenty of upside in the fact that I can still travel solo. Because parenting is always harder than I realise, and parenting while travelling is harder still.

And yes, I know that I’ve written before about how much I’d like to be a father. Yeah, um, about that. Let’s just say that while I’m sure that dandling my own child on my knee would be brilliant in lots of ways, I now realise that having young children would make one of my favourite activities a far trickier proposition.
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Of men and… makeup

DCF 1.0If you ask a management consultant how to grow a business, they’ll have two broad strategies for you. (I know this because I was one once, albeit for only long enough to learn how to make PowerPoint slides and drink too many ‘bonding’ tequila shots.) You can convince your existing customers to spend more, either by increasing their consumption or up-selling them to more expensive products, or you can grow your customer base.

And now that you’ve read that, I’ll be invoicing you for $10,000.

More specifically, if you asked a management consultant how to make the beauty industry more profitable, they’d probably tell you that lots of people already spend a huge amount of money on a great many expensive products, so the best bet for expansion would be to target people who don’t currently buy cosmetics – the great unwashed, so to speak – or at least uncleansed, unmoisturised and untoned.

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Ten things I want to see in ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 4

Game_of_Thrones_title_cardToday’s the first day of the new series of the greatest television series of all time (if measured by either gratuitous nudity or gore, at least.) So, quivering with anticipation, I’ve put together a wish list of the things I’d like to see in the ten weeks ahead.

Yes, I know these things probably won’t happen – naturally, I’m more than nerdy enough to have read the books. But the producers have already taken a few creative liberties with the story – maybe they can take some more?

Note – if you haven’t watched to the end of Season 3, there are spoilers below. Continue Reading →

What ho, Jeeves, monocles are back!

Neville ChamberlainApparently monocles are back in. Yes, really. Men, I’m assured, are deliberately leaving the house with a tiny circle of glass chained around their neck so they can squint through it, wilfully ignoring the decades of heady success that the optometry industry has had with stereoscopic glasses.

It’s highly likely that waistcoats and pince-nez are back too, and probably even spats and plus fours, as privileged young men the world over have begun to blow their (parents’) hard-earned income on fashion items that were once found in the voluminous wardrobe of Bertie Wooster, or perhaps even Little Lord Fauntleroy.

This part of the ‘young urban male’ or ‘yummy’ phenomenon, something that definitely exists and is not just one of those awkward media labels written by lifestyle writers desperate to identify a new trend, although it definitely is that as well. Continue Reading →

How to be a knight (or dame) by someone who already is

This week, the Prime Minister announced that he has restored the imperial system of honours – something he was apparently able to do unilaterally, subject to the Queen’s approval, a curious reminder for anybody who might have forgotten that we do indeed live in a monarchy. But it’s been several decades since we last had any newly-minted knights and dames, and those who do still live among us are advancing in years.

Consequently, there are not many people in our community with the suitable heraldic knowledge to induct our new honorees into the chivalrous ways and rich traditions of the knighthood.

Hence, as a proud member of a family who have been Knights for many generations, I proudly offer my expertise to all knights, dames, and would-be knights and dames who might be looking to pull up their imperial socks ahead of the receipt of such a pre-eminent honour. Continue Reading →

Ten things I don’t miss about my twenties

zacIt’s common for those approaching forty to mourn their lost youth. Being extremely common, I feel the same way. Oh, how I miss that time without responsibility, those days without much to do besides the uni work that I could comfortably neglect, and taking advantage of that effortless adolescent ability to sleep in until midday which has now deserted me.

But when I find myself reflecting on my twenties, my memory conveniently wallpapers over what I was actually like in my twenties. What I’d really like, I’ve realised, is to be 21, but pretty much as I am now.

What I want, then, is to be exactly like Zac Efron in 17 Again, but with Matthew Perry’s brain. I’d be happy to have Zac Efron’s level of attractiveness to the opposite sex as well, actually – or even Matthew Perry’s. What I want isn’t possible outside the realms of excessively contrived Hollywood comedies written by people like me who frittered away their youth and are now bitter and resentful about it and spend their writing careers in wish-fulfilment.

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What does your coffee order say about you?

coffee_beansCoffee is an important part of my day. In fact, given the caffeine addiction that delivers an intense headache by midday if I haven’t had one, it’s an indispensable part of my day.

Like many people, my most frequent order is the takeaway flat white. There’s nothing pretentious about a flattie – it doesn’t have one of those eye-talian names, for one thing. Solid and dependable, like an old Holden made before they abandon Australia.

But as I’ve branched into other orders over the years, I’ve discovered that some coffee preferences draw all sorts of implications about you. If you don’t believe me, just try asking a colleague to order you a piccolo latte, and wait for the sniggers. Continue Reading →

A fond farewell to my record collection

Pile-of-CdsI can admit now that my CD collection was assembled to impress women.

In my teens, I imagined the unwilling recipient of my latest crush letting her eyes play across the neatly arranged discs in my trendy IKEA shelves, slowly becoming convinced of my exceptional taste.

“You have all of the Cure albums,” she’d say, clearly impressed.

“I’m a fan,” I’d say, hinting at the intense inner turmoil that I shared with Robert Smith. The torrent of powerful emotions churning beneath my cool exterior that, if she chose, she could unleash. Continue Reading →

Twelve ways to celebrate Lunar New Year

baoziIt’s the Year of the Horse, of course, of course, and Lunar New Year is always a wonderful time to celebrate the many delightful elements of Asian culture that have made their way to Australia. Lunar New Year is celebrated in Korea, Vietnam, Mongolia and of course China (including Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau), as well as across the region where migrants originating from these countries have settled in other places like Singapore and Malaysia.

So, in honour of the twelve different animals that lend their identities to the years on the lunar calendar, I’ve come up with twelve fun things you might want to do in honour of this equine lunar season.

Admittedly, many of them involve eating, but after all, what better way to see in the Lunar New Year?

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What does Christmas mean in 2013?

Today is the day when billions of people across the world eat, drink, open presents and generally make merry in celebration of Jesus Christ’s birthday.

At this time of year, it’s common to observe that as with most major Christian festivals, the secularisation of society has made today just another occasion for indulgence rather than anything more profound. Which means that Christmas has largely returned to its roots in the winter solstice and the Roman Saturnalia.

It’s ironic that the church’s effective early marketing decision to co-opt existing festivals has been turned on its head, as the once-Christianised pagan festivals have been re-paganised by our own indulgent era. But part of me suspects it’s a pity that Christmas isn’t about anything more than spending lots of money on gifts few of us really need and food that most of our waistlines certainly don’t.

Since comparatively few of us are religious, and the tradition has never had all that much to do with its supposed theological theme anyway, what is the point of Christmas in 2013? Given the fuss we make over it, surely it must mean something more than that there’s 24 hours until the Boxing Day Test?

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