Rocks for the pool

What did you think about the earth-shattering news of the Aussie swimming men’s  relay team’s big confession?  Was it worth parading the offenders before a phalanx of journalists, baying for the blood of more disgraced athletes? Let’s face it we can sum it up quite easily: ‘They were young blokes on a trip away from home and they acted like immature yobbos. Yes, it was wrong to mix a sleeping tablet with some beer. ‘What were they thinking?’ you ask. The simple answer: Nothing. They weren’t thinking. They were having what they thought was fun. In hindsight they would be the first to agree it was an irresponsible way to behave. However, according to the Australian swimming head honchos, and the Australian media, the situation is far worse than that. We now know why we didn’t win as many medals as the Aussie public were told to expect. It had nothing to do with inflated, arrogant expectations of gold, gold, gold. It had nothing to do with just not being as fast as the others. It had nothing to do with ability, training regimes or coaching staff. It was because the men’s relay team acted like idiots for one night a few days before the competition began. Let’s pick up our rocks and get ready to stone them. I think it’s like blaming Dawn Fraser’s larrikin behaviour during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics for the team not bringing home more gold back then (4 gold medals – all individuals). She did some idiotic, high-spirited, rat-baggy things and yet is honoured as one of our greatest athletes. We love her for it. I’m glad the lads apologised. I hope they’ve learned their lesson. But, do I think they should pay back their airfares etc and be made pariahs in the world of sport? No. Lighten up Australian Olympic Swimming team. You weren’t good enough on the day. Just admit it and train harder for the next lot. There is no God-given right for Australians to always win gold. In fact, it’s a ludicrous assumption and, quite frankly, an insult to all the other nations. The young swimmers’ behaviour was deeply disappointing. But, we see far worse when schoollies gather at seaside towns; when footy teams go to Bali or Las Vegas or when rugby teams go on pub crawls in London. It’s embarrassing, ugly, cringe-worthy behaviour and we all wish our men would learn to ease up on the grog and think through their actions. But, is it news that is more important than the ongoing nightmare in Syria? Should the offenders be more vilified than people-smugglers? I think not. I reckon they’ve already had their punishment, back in the London Olympic pool. Let’s all put down our stones; unless, of course, you’re...

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Book nerd

When I was a little girl I read anything and everything I could lay my hands on. The 4 book limit at the library was stifling for someone like me. I’d read them all within a couple of days and then the ensuing 10 – 12 day wait until the next library day was agony. I tried to pace myself but it never worked. I devoured books like a teenager devours potato chips. When I’d finished my children’s books, I’d read my father’s. I can remember one summer holiday, when I was eleven years old, reading Gone With the Wind in three days. My favourite character was Rhett Butler and I couldn’t understand what he saw in silly Scarlett. She was just like some of the girls I knew at school: so into herself she couldn’t see straight. I can remember one time being so desperate for something to read I started to work my way through the dictionary. It wasn’t great reading but I became a bit of a whiz kid at spelling and scrabble. When I was about ten, I discovered the Narnia series. Suddenly the Secret Seven and the Famous Five were dull as dishwater. In the world of fantasy and science fiction anything was possible…anything. By late primary school, I’d developed an interest in myths and legends and archaeology. I thought the two subjects were connected. I didn’t care what part of the world they came from, although I did have my favourites: Egypt, the Middle East and the United Kingdom. My parents would bring home books from the adult library for me, as the children’s books were too simple and unsatisfying. I wonder what I’d be like if I were a young person today. Would I be obsessed with apps, or wii, or playstation or computer games? I’m not sure that any of those things would satisfy my craving for stories; except, perhaps, computer games. No, I think I’d probably still be reading, but they’d be downloaded into my kindle or e-book or ipad, or whatever the heck is all the go now. Have I created an image of a  poor nerdy kid who hid out in the library every recess and lunch time? It couldn’t be further from the truth. I had a lot of friends. I played netball and tennis. I rode my bike all over the place. I played softball with the kids in my street. I loved music. I learned to play the guitar and sang by myself and with others whenever I got the chance.  And when I was in primary school a couple of days every week there’d be lunch-time dancing. I loved doing the twist to Chubby Checker and the Beatles. Oh yes, I was a bit of a groover. Why do people assume that if you love to read you’ve given up any interest in the rest of life? I think that the more you read, the greater your interest in life. It was my love of reading that developed my interest in politics, religion and theology (two different things), history, sport, sociology, different languages and people. God bless the story-tellers, poets, song-writers and artists of the world. You make it a much richer, dynamic, fascinating and colourful place for the rest of us.  ...

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Flamin’, mongrel hormones!

Who needs flipping hormones? When you first encounter them, they sprout hair in embarrassing places, they pop pimples out on your face like they’re making fairy bread and you suddenly need deodorant. You find yourself obsessing about your hair, the opposite sex, your weight and the stupid clothes your mother makes you wear that makes you look even more like a dork than your stupid hair and it’s just not fair!  The world is a wonderful, magical place when it isn’t conspiring against you, which happens more and more often and it’s just not fair! As you get older you settle into some sort of rhythm and the swine hormones lull you into a false sense of security. But, one day it all happens again. They sprout hair in embarrassing places, while making you lose the good stuff that’s supposed to be there. Your weight goes bananas (at least that’s what I’m blaming it on). The world is a wonderful, magical place except when it’s conspiring against you, which happens more and more and it’s just not fair! When the chemotherapy forced me into early menopause, once I’d got over the transition period, I was glad to be there. Trouble was when the hormones first waved goodbye I knew that the world was against me. Life was meaningless. The family were ungrateful, miserable, uncaring mongrels and they were lucky I didn’t have access to a firearm. Thankfully, the day I first popped on an oestrogen patch, they suddenly changed their attitudes and became their previous, loving selves. I was glad to see the back of those pesky hormones. I guess I still had enough to keep the body functioning but not enough to rattle my cage. Oestrogen? PAH! Who needs you? Well, it turns out – I do! The kind of cancer cell foraging in my ribs is oestrogen-receptive. One of the ways to keep it under control is to starve it of oestrogen. They have pills that do this for you. (Modern medicine is marvellous.) Unfortunately, the first pill they put me on inflamed my wrist tendon which made (and is still making) life a bit more difficult. I changed to a new inhibitor pill. The tendonitis is slowly improving but what’s the point? Life is conspiring against me. I don’t see the point in making any effort because no one appreciates it and it doesn’t achieve anything. I find myself bursting into tears at the drop of a hat. Sometimes all I have to do is look at the hat! This week I had an agent do a flip on me. She said she’d be very happy to look at my manuscript. Then within 24 hours she changed her mind. Why? Because I thought it only polite to let her know I’d sent the ms to one publisher already. I did it because the publishing editor already knew and liked my work. Turns out this is a big no-no. The agent won’t take on anyone who has already submitted, whether the publisher rejects or accepts said manuscript. All I can say is that after I’d uncurled from the foetal position, and the sobbing had subdued, it was lucky for everyone that I don’t have access to a firearm. Then I saw Dr P, my oncologist, yesterday. “How are you?” he said in his usual kindly manner. My eyes welled with tears. “I’m miserable,” I said. Then I was mad with myself…And then I was mad with the doc…Then I wanted to cry again… He said, “Let’s take you off the inhibitor for a couple of weeks and see if you feel better.” On the way home I told the Old Boy I had a sudden craving for something chocolatey and sweet. For dessert I ate half a big block of chocolate and the rest of the night bouts of nausea rolled in like waves, interspersed with the occasional wave of anger, or utter misery. Flippin’, flamin’, mongrel hormones! Can’t live with ’em and having trouble living without ’em. It seems mine are particularly attached to me. They refuse to let go of their hold on me and it could literally kill me. Can you shoot hormones? Would it help if I had access to a firearm?          ...

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