Saturday, April 30, 2011

Watching Will and Kate

     Were you one of the two billion people watching The Wedding?  Twenty million of those were Australians-even if they won't admit it. This is a Commonwealth country, Queen Elizabeth II's portrait  is on the money here and Great Britain is still the largest provider of immigrants to these shores.  So naturally there is going to be a high interest in the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  
      And a great deal of overkill.
      The major media outlets had people in London filing reports  at the beginning of the week.  The two days before the wedding the TV was awash with stories about the couple themselves or of wedding dresses in general,  royal weddings of the past, weddings of any kind, movies of princesses of all kinds and true love. You almost wanted it to be over already.  
Wedding cake + Saturday paper
      We didn't have to wake up at an ungodly hour to watch the festivities, just sneak out of work early.  In classic Super Bowl marathon coverage style,  most networks started programming at 2 p.m. for a wedding that started at 7 p.m. Perth time.  Most of the people I know were more interested in The Dress than anything else, although the hats and precariously tipped fascinators provided some visual fun.  I tuned into the BBC coverage at about 4 p.m. [Kev headed to the cinema for a horror film] armed with the light-up tiara trimmed in pink feathers that Kev got from his coworkers (long story, not sharing) and some mini angelfood cupcakes I made the night before for a different function but were not good enough for the public.  So I had to sacrifice myself while watching the pageantry we all expected.
     I liked Kate's dress,  her simply white flowers and greens bouquet was lovely also. I've decided that ladies who wear fascinators that need to be taped to the forehead should be shaken a bit and that the music of Charles Parry -the predominant composer of the wedding's music- is boring regardless of how hard those decked out choirboys tried.  And two kisses on the balcony was definitely  called for. 
     The  early edition of the Saturday newspaper was on the newsstands by the time Kev got out of his movie.  A twelve page souvenir bit was included, loaded with stories from the Thursday and photos and photos of people arriving at the abbey.  The cover shot, shown here, was the latest shot  possible  before the paper hit the printers.  It was at the very beginning of the actual ceremony. Notice my celebratory W*K piece of wedding cake. None too  pretty but it suited me fine. Cheers!
    And now, back to normal life.


The Five Day-Three Holiday Weekend

     What's the buzz?  Business publications, advertising agencies and general pundits have all been quoting a recent research when discussing their newest strategies or news of the minute.  I don't know who did the research or who they talked to but I strongly suspect it is all bogus.  The latest word is that Australians work more hours per week than any other Western nation.    
     Australia was the first Western nation to pass legislation that whittled its work week down to 40 hours.  It had become internationally  known as the nation of the long weekend because no one worked on a Saturday and they didn't linger at the office on a Friday.   In fact, blue collar workers ("tradies") pick up a slab of beer (24 cans) during lunch on Friday to drink  at work in the afternoon to help usher out the work week and ease in the weekend. Holidays falling on weekends are always made up for on either side of said weekend.

      The Easter Weekend is a prime example of how much Australians appreciate long weekends.  It was a five-day weekend that encompassed four holidays or their designate.  Start with Good Friday.  It is the holiest day of the Aussie calendar  [see "Biggest Holiday of the Year4/9/09]  observed by absolutely everyone. The day off work,  that is,  not necessarily a church going opportunity in a land not renowned for its religious fervor. Saturday, bless it, is a normal day.  Easter always inconveniently appears on a Sunday so Easter Monday is its official celebration for the common man.     But wait.    ANZAC Day  [see "ANZAC Day4/25/09 ] falls on Easter Monday this year.  Not wishing to short change the celebration of those who have fallen during service in the armed forces --or rather, not wishing to short change ourselves a day off in the name of military veterans -- we'll just designate Tuesday to be ANZAC Day (Observed).  Yeah, that works. We'll do all the ANZAC stuff on Monday but head for the beach or barbeque grill on Tuesday. Easy, peasy.
ANZAC wreath

       And some research group says Australians live to work?  Not exactly. But I'll admit that it is so easy to get used to a two and a half day work week.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Customs Detectives

     At our place, there is really only one set of "reality" shows we like to watch on TV.  Part of the appeal of these particular programs is that there is actual reality to them instead of manufactured tension in ridiculous scenarios.  Add a liking of detective shows and a splash of Dudley Dooright and these are a winner.  These are... programs that deal with customs and immigration issues. Every country seems to have one with a name like: Border Patrol, Border Security or Customs.  Video crews hang out at international airport  arrival terminals, postal sorting centers and shipping yards to watch Customs , Immigration or Quarantine officials sort through luggage, lies and letters to keep the illegal at bay.
     All these programs open with hard driving music and dramatic narrative.  People with shifty eyes and evasive answers are interrogated about visiting plans versus their visas. "I really am here just to visit my brother, no, I mean , cousin, no wait, he's my sister's husband's brother's cousin."  Bugs and worms are tapped out of  plants smuggled in a pair of socks. "How did that get in there? My mother packed this bag."   Undeclared food is gingerly handled by latex clad hands. "It's not food because  it is not cooked."  Some packages don't give the  x-ray images their declared contents ought to and others don't feel exactly the way one would expect. "Oh look, these two photographs together are as thick as cardboard and have white powder coming out the side."  All in a day's work for some and an evening's entertainment for us.

     Until a package arrived at our doorstep.  From Guardian Angel Number One.  The Customs Declaration listed some old thrift store clothing and a game.   Number One does such a good job a digging up great finds in the thrift stores back home. The items are perfect.  There is also a box...wrapped in paper...wrapped in aluminum foil...inside a plastic bag...and weighing a ton.  Cue hard driving music (which we air guitar in perfect unison.)   The box's feel is not consistent with its packaging.  It is a jigsaw puzzle (Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte.  In exquisite topiary behind the Columbus, Ohio Metropolitan Library, by the way) of 500 pieces typically in a box big enough to fit 50,000.  Yet there is no rattle or shifting of cardboard pieces and the box feels pretty solid.  Aluminum foil wrapper on a jigsaw puzzle box?  Sounds like a classic hopeful x-ray dodge.  Inside is the real favorite hair dye which is not available on this continent...sent as part of  a benign care package. 
     And this is the funny part.  It is not illegal for hair dye to be mailed out of XXX or into OZZZ. In fact, Number One has mailed it before without the slightest problem.  Oh, but the drama of it all!  Number One is a sly one to be sure.

     So now, sporting incredible hair and  new lounge capris,  I have 494 more puzzle pieces yet to put together.