Tag Archives: Christmas

Sydney The High Vis City

So I was back in Sydney recently. I live in Europe, and it was the first time I had been back
in Sydney in almost four years.

Being a fairly observant type, I noticed quite a few changes. In no particular order…

*Why is every pub meal now $30? A few years ago if you paid 15 bucks you were ripped off.

*Why does every pub have those same funky hipster light globes? Maybe that explains the above.

*Why do restaurants have those BS time-limited seatings? “We’ve managed to fit you in at 3.27am but we will need your table at 3.29am.”

*Why are those towers at Barangaroo designed so they will look dated in about half an hour?

*Why is there an M4 freeway… M5 and M7 but no M6? Also what the hell is the A4?
My hire car’s satellite navigation thingo had NFI.

*Speaking of the M4, why didn’t they future-proof it when they first built it, instead of digging it up every five minutes and turning it into a seething, angry carpark?

*Why does every beverage you order anywhere arrive in a mason jar? Have glasses been banned
as part of the lockout laws? I want a drink, not a pickle or a secret handshake.

*Why does the entire population of Sydney now sport a High Vis vest? When did that become a thing? I saw a photo of HSC markers wearing them. The most dangerous thing that could possibly ever happen to them is a rather nasty paper cut.

*When did Australian TV become so, well, crap? I watched Goggle Box for the first time
and I thought the TV shows they were discussing were parodies. Apparently they’re not.

*Can someone, anyone, please do something about Sydney Airport? It really is a shocker.

*Without sounding like a squawking breakfast radio announcer, why are there posters around the city saying “Happy Christmas” instead of “Merry”? Is the word “Merry” offensive now?
I didn’t get the email.

Having said all that, it was wonderful to be back.
Sydney really is one of the greatest cities in the world.

Words and image ©Steve Williams 2017

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Ghosts of Christmases Future

As it is approaching Christmas, and with President-elect Donald Trump about to take office
(I still can’t quite comprehend that), I thought it would be timely to repost my words on the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting of 2012…

I was going to write about the unbridled joy of being a kid at Christmas, the simple pleasure of waking up on Christmas morning, running out in your pajamas — after being too excited to sleep the night before — to see that new pile of presents under the tree. Yes! Santa has been!

“Yes! Santa has been!” (The writer, 1970)

The events of Friday morning at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut changed everything. The level of violence is difficult to comprehend, the fear those children would have experienced unthinkable, the stories of sacrifice by the staff unimaginable, the grief of the families immeasurable. It simply needs to stop. The system requires a reboot, this “right to bear arms” rethought. Who needs to have a military assault rifle in their home? Anyone?

Obviously, it will not be easy. As President Barack Obama said in an emotionally charged speech in Newtown, “No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.”

“Better than this” will involve standing up to the lobbyists, the usual suspects who roll out the usual hoary old justifications, pathetic excuses and “helpful” suggestions including “what we need is more guns, not less guns.” I can’t even get my head around that statement. Then there’s the tip-toeing through the minefield of political machinations. Then there’s the NRA. Someone has to take that first step.

No doubt there are countless toy guns sitting under Christmas trees around the planet right now — the paper to be torn off them by excited little hands, so they can play cops and robbers or soldiers. One can only hope that in years to come, it will be much more difficult for these children to get their hands on the real thing and wreak the havoc we saw on Friday.

The time has come for the rhetoric to be followed through. We owe it to Friday’s children — Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin and Allison. As well as the adult victims, these names should have appeared on Christmas gift tags — not as statistics of another horrific mass shooting. They have now become ghosts of Christmases future.

©Steve Williams 2012

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Psychologists: Just Like Mariah, Santa Is Real

This article contains spoiler alerts and / or trigger warnings about Santa. I’m not sure what a trigger warning is, but there seems to be a lot of them about. So if you’re thinking of shooting Santa,
or anyone for that matter, please don’t.

It has taken me a few days to masticate and digest reports about an article published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal that parents who lie to their children about Santa Claus could wreak havoc with their offspring’s moral compass. This could apparently lead to a Bermuda Triangle of floundering lies, tinsel, and disgruntled kiddies.

With all due respect to the learned psychologists who penned the report, I call bullshit.

You’re secret is safe with me, Santa

The report suggested that by lying about the existence or otherwise of the big bloke in red, parents can irrevocably damage the trust their kids have in them, resulting in “abject disappointment” when said kids discover the “truth” about the Christmas Eve nocturnal visitor. “There is potential for children to be harmed in these lies,” said clinical psychologist Kathy McKay, one of the report’s authors. Calm down Kathy, I know you’re looking out for the kids, but it’s ok.

Christmas is a time of innocence, magic and wonder, and sure, a few creative porkies. Don’t overanalyse or destroy this charming story for kids. They’re fine. Parents lie to their kids all the time in varying degrees. We all survived the great reveal of Santa. I can’t recall a mass shooting occurring with young Trevor, tears streaming down his face, screaming “WHADDAYAMEANTHEREISNOSANTA!!??” while at the business end of an AK-47.

The Lancet report’s authors did raise an interesting point, “If adults have been lying about Santa, even though it has usually been well intentioned, what else is a lie? If Santa isn’t real, are fairies real? Is magic? Is God?” The God bit caught my eye, I know Christmas “should” be about a certain baby blowing out his birthday candles, but not being the most religious chap, I’ll stick with the Santa narrative, it’s more believable.

I love the whole Santa story, it’s wonderful. Suspending disbelief of the North Pole workshop, the elves, the reindeers, the transport logistical issues, the leaving out of Santa’s beverage and food of choice, so excited and not being able to sleep, but forcing yourself in case he didn’t come, then waking up on Christmas morning, racing out to the tree, and the unbridled joy of “SANTA’S BEEN!! SANTA’S BEEN!!”

Parents, let kids enjoy the Santa experience for as long as they can. Sure, if they’re 41 years old and still a believer, you may have a slight issue. Just chill out, have a quiet drink or a nice cup of tea, and depending on what hemisphere you’re in, spray some fake snow on the windows, and listen to Mariah Carey warbling about making her wish come true for the three millionth time.

PS Santa, I’ve been a good boy this year.

©Steve Williams 2016

*This piece also appeared in The Huffington Post AustraliaLying To Kids About Santa Is A Gift

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Christmas gifts that keep on giving (and other clichés*)

Left your Christmas shopping until the last minute? You slack bastard. Can’t think of what to get your annoying little nephew Trevor? (No, forget him, he’s a little shit.) Thank your invisible sky dweller of choice I’m here.

You won’t have to endure that stopping-at-the-bottom-of-shopping mall-escalators mass of humanity, and endless Christmas carols so bad you want to perforate your eardrum with a chicken skewer.

You’ll think all your Christmases have come at once with www.skymall.com – a vertiable one stop shop for all your Christmas needs.*

Always wanted a t-shirt that smells like bacon? Of course you have. Just stay away from rabid dogs.

Dress like a pig

Dress like a pig

Can’t say I’ve ever been tempted by time, whether Gothic, sexy, and / or crouching.
That definitely won’t change with The Gothic Temptress Calendar. Note the leather and S&M chains. Classy. Imagine having a meeting with some bloke with this on his desk. You would be tempted to ask if his views on women are still stuck in 1427.

Tempted? Er, no

Tempted? Er, no

I know what you’re thinking: “I wish some artisan would craft a bespoke Bigfoot Tree Yeti Sculpture.” All that kneeling at the foot of your bed worked…

Chewbacca and Abe Lincoln's lovechild

Chewbacca and Abe Lincoln’s lovechild

Now, the piece of resistance. I give you The Zombie of Montclaire Moors as discussed on various late night TV shows. I assume the plan is you stick old mate in the ground next to your magnificent Double Delight roses and scare the bejesus out of young kiddies and get blank looks and eye rolls from adults. Go on, you know you want to, you always were the “wacky and zany” one.

Zombie Holocompost meets Lawn of the Dead

Zombie Holocompost meets Lawn of the Dead

Go and sleigh him, Santa.

©Steve Williams 2014

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A lovelorn Aussie’s letter to Kim Kardashian

“G’day Kim,

Sorry it’s takin’ me ages to write, but I’ve been off in me ute and just heard the news.

Kim, the Big Wanger is that way…

I can’t believe you punted me for that Carn Yay bloke.
At first I thought it was that Gotyay fella, at least he’s Aussie.

I heard youse and Carn Yay are gettin’ hitched ‘n have a kid named after a compass.

Fair dinkum. So this Carn Yay is ‘sposed to be some creative genius singer? Bullshit.

Yeah no, I reckon I have a pretty good crack at the Oils on Karaoke Night down at the RSL.

I nail Beds Are Burning… that was our song, remember? Not any more it ain’t.
I ‘spose now he sings you one of his crap songs or his sister Beyonsay.

Jeez, I had it all planned Kim.
You could have still done your TV show from out here in Wangarrabee. One of me mates bought one of them flash new Sony Betamax cameras at Cash Converters.

Was it the Aussie food? You know you can get your American food here, Barry at the local truckstop is famous for his Big Wanger.

I heard about Carn Yay’s proposal in that big stadium. He deadset ripped off my idea. I was gunna pop the question at the local footy oval, all me mates would’ve had their utes with the roo spotlights on full bore. Would’ve been lit up like a Christmas tree, real romantic n’that.

Anyhow Kim, I gotta go, they’re about to call the winner of the chook raffle.

Like that song by Carn Yay’s mother, I will always keep up with you.

Love, Trevor”

Words and image ©Steve Williams 2013

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We all turn into cliched stereotypes on holiday

You meet a lot of interesting people on holidays. Well when I say “meet”, I mean observing people from a safe distance and mercilessly taking the piss if warranted.

I would have smirked if he fell

I stayed at a rather nice beach resort in Malaysia over Christmas and it was simultaneously a pleasurable and fascinating experience. I think the five stars were awarded for the characters that were staying there.

It really was a microcosm of humanity, mixed with sand and the odd Pina Colada. In no particular order we had the delightful Poms from Bogan-On-Trent who thought the dress code in the restaurant where breakfast was served was footwear optional. I love the look of tinea in the morning.

As well as not being able to afford shoes, their pantry must be a bit light on, because each morning they would they would knock off the teabags and sugar sachets from the table.

They must prescribe to the hotel buffet school of thought that “I’ve paid for it, so I can have it”. Similar to the family I saw at a hotel seafood buffet in Singapore stuffing prawns and oysters into Tupperware containers they coincidentally had on them. As you do.

I was wondering how to get the dining chairs into my suitcase.

I also have a bit to learn from the people (stereotypically Germans, though I’ve never actually seen a Teutonic type do this) who bags a sun lounge by the pool at about 3.24am, and then turn up to use them at 3.25pm.

Speaking of sun lounges, the Natasha twins with their “uncle” Boris (I suggest the ladies were on an hourly rate, and yes, I admit my range of Russian names is garnered from watching “Rocky and Bullwinkle”), weren’t content with their three sun lounges, they thought they’d take over the adjoining ones as well.

Their $4,000 Louis Vuitton handbags and over-sized sunglasses obviously needed a tan.

Also providing a bit of cheek, literally at the resort was “Arse Boy”. We encountered this middle-aged bandanna and budgie smuggler wearing “dude” by the pool, who pulled said budgies halfway up his date to get some sun on his bum and proceeded to strike poses like a cross between a Bondi lifesaver and the centerfold for Playgirl magazine’s special Wedgie edition.

Thanks for that mate, talk about New Moon. Another highlight was the bloke who pranked his son with the hilarious game called “Let’s Pretend Daddy’s Dead”. He would float, face down, legs and arms akimbo in the classic drowned position in the kids pool. His seven-ish year old son, obviously concerned, started anxiously poking him, saying the word “Daddy” in ever increasing degrees of concern.

Only when he thought his son had reached the right level of hysteria, the guy stood up, pissing himself laughing. What a strange man. He must have great fun at home lying in a bath filled with red food dye clutching a razor blade.

There were plenty of other characters, “Blue Leg Boy”, “Buns of Steel”, and the wannabe bikini supermodel with her wannabe bikini supermodel photographer, as well as the usual pasty white bodies basting themselves in baby oil, so they can return to their -14 degrees European snow-bound homes boasting the trophy tan (and third degree burns).

My pick are the people who feel it necessary to take those Hindenburg size inflatable pool toys on holiday with them. I saw someone being crushed in the pool by a life-size blowup killer whale, but then again it could have been another round of “Let’s Pretend Daddy’s Dead”.

Words and image ©Steve Williams 2012

*This piece was published in the sadly now defunct The Punch by news.com.au

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