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The Guest Book

One of the great advantages of living in Sydney is that within two hours drive in almost any direction, you can be in a relatively natural, and stunningly beautiful environment. Just this week we went to a beautiful little holiday house in the Blue Mountains, it had sweeping mountain views from its floor to ceiling windows, a cosy log fire and was within a stone’s throw of the local village shops.

It was the kind of place that payed close attention to detail so that you could enjoy a quintessential ‘mountain’ experience, like by having a beautifully leather bound Guest Book with the current page carefully marked for you to leave your comments (in the antiquated mountains, people still consider comments to be of the kind that you write by hand onto a piece of paper).

Flicking through the book, it was great of interest to discover what some of the other guests had to say:

*

Clarissa and John:

This house was lovely and we had a wonderful stay! I really knew I was in the “bush” when I went to the shops and found a packet of home made muesli for $20! You don’t get that in the city, such a quaint yet monopolised market here! We will definitely be coming back for more (provided John gets his bonus this year).

*

Julie:

We came here for our annual Beaver Family gathering and the house was just perfect for us. Of course, Uncle Jim complained about being in the downstairs bedroom, but when he tripped going down the steep staircase on the first night leaving him holed up in bed for the rest of the holiday with a sprained ankle, it was the highlight of my trip! I couldn’t thank you more!

*

Craig and Anna:

We came up here from the city and while I admit it is a pretty place to drive around and look out the car window, I have to say, I was a little alarmed at how slow people were. All the cars seemed to be driving at such a snail’s pace that I wondered if they had their engines turned on, or if they were just left in neutral and allowed to roll around the streets? I even had one bloke stop his car so I could cross the road in front of him! Why wasn’t he in a hurry? I find that unsettling. And what’s with all the quiet?

*

Anton and Paul:

This place was simply gorgeous. The log fire was so beautiful, and I had no idea you could have one with real wood! All the ones I have seen are made from gas. It felt so historical. The only problem was that for the life of us we couldn’t find the switch to turn it on. If only it came with a bona fide (hunky, haha!) “country man” to help us light it. In the end we just sat around trying to warm our hands in front of our gold case Zippo lighter.

*

Chrissie:

A lovely home, with a beautiful outlook. The kitchen was well appointed, and I found the bathroom to be punctual also.

*

Stephan:

This is my first accommodation since arriving from Norway. We have mountains there too. Very large scale. I want to compare. I come straight here right away instantly – but I no see a thing! I bring the rain. All the way from Norway. Oh well! Nice time.

*

Brad:

Lovely spot, great views too. Will definitely tell our friends, and maybe bring some of them back next time. Not to sure about that yet, will have to sleep on it. Decide tomorrow. Depends on what they can do for us. Definitely one to think about though. Great house.

The Perfect Gift

This Father’s Day I pondered what to get a man who routinely refers to such days, and for that matter, most holidays and celebrations, as a “load of sentimental capitalist shit”.

Actually, he doesn’t just feel this way about celebrations, it extends to death and funerals too. When I distant relative died recently and I told him I was sending flowers, he said my act was, “bullshit. They are gonna have a house full of flowers and they are all just gonna die. No one wants flowers”.

Being such a difficult person (in general) to buy for, it seemed the obvious route to take would be to make something, but the question was, what? It would have to be practical, and in no way sentimental, and if it could help with keeping the bird shit off that back porch, that would be a big bonus too.

I decided to observe my dad for possible clues as to what he might need and appreciate. And this is what I came up with (outside of intensive mental health treatment, which was way outside my budget):

 

A GPS

Given that no small amount of ‘quality family time’ has been lost due to my Dad’s hopeless sense of direction, a GPS could well be the perfect gift. Admittedly too late to be of an use in avoiding the ‘Blois disaster’, where we spent the first half a day trying to escape the confines of this trickster French city to the tense tune of ‘fuckeddy fuck fuck’ and the second half doing frantic circles trying to find accommodation as night descended and we realised we were going nowhere, fast (Chevy Chase eat yr heart out), a GPS could still well serve to be the saving of any future family holidays.

Although my own self imposed ‘handmade’ restriction means that my GPS is probably going to come in the form of a stapled collection of hand drawn road maps, coloured in by The Boy. And while this seems like a daunting task – hand drawing an entire street directory – I actually figure it will only need three pages; our house to the RSL club, our house to Bunnings, and our house to the Bottleo, which makes it a bit of a cinch.

 

A Hearing Aid

Ever since getting into some old fashioned fisty cuffs with a man twice his size in our old home town, Tough Town, my Dad has been deaf in one ear. This has been the cause of innumerable misunderstandings, that I can help but feel I could fix if only I fashioned a home made hearing device out of a tin can, some string, and a leather type harness fastening this contraption to the right side of his head.

This would be so handy in avoiding the kind of misunderstanding he and my mother had just the other day involving a ‘white plastic bag’. As my Dad was taking the rubbish out on his way to visit my brother and his girls my Mother came rushing out with another white plastic bag full of new goods she had brought for the girls. Thrusting them into my Dad’s hands she said, “give these to the girls for me”. My Dad, being both deaf in one ear and soft in the head, took this to mean, “throw these in the rubbish with all those other white plastic bags”.

Later, when my mother queried him about the gifts, my bewildered Dad explained that he had thrown the bag in the rubbish. My mother, taking into consideration that he was half deaf, made sure to raise her voices a few octaves when she shouted, “you have got to be fucking kidding me” as she raced out to rescue the goods while my Dad muttered useless defences under his breath like “who gives someone a ‘white plastic bag’ full of new goods when he is taking out the rubbish…”.

I just cant help but think what life would be like if only I could make him something to hel him listen….

 

A Plate of Green Vegetables

When my Dad got home from his only second ever trip overseas, where he went to the seat of the empire, he seemed awfully preoccupied with the lack of vegetables his holiday had yielded. For the life of him, he couldn’t figure out how America wasn’t a country crippled by scurvy. In the entire month he was there, he swears he ate only one vegetable, and it was “a fucking zucchini flower. Battered. And fried”.

For a long time afterwards he would walk around the house, shaking his head and muttering to The (vegetarian )Yang, “you’d be dead in 24 hours mate, dead in 24 hours”.

I think the man needs a plate of greens.

 

Binoculars

These can easily fit the homemade bill if I just stick two empty toilet paper rolls together and attach a washer as a focus ring. And they would be a great gift for my Dad giving him that added bit of insight, that only really comes from peering down a toilet roll, into what kind of home improvements the neighbours are doing, so that he can devise his own home made, budget, equivalent. Like how in a bid to keep up with the ‘cement rendered wall’ phase that is sweeping the neighbourhood, my Dad simply brought a bucket of paint, mixed a bit of cement through it, and painted the front walls of the house so they looked like cement. Cost saving, to say the least.

 

A Security Guard

Initially, I thought the cost of this option a little steep, but then I remembered that there is this immigrant kid from down the road that owes me a favour from that time I agreed not to call the National Security Hotline and report that he was carrying a Koran on the bus. He owes me. If I could just get him to come and stand watch on the back porch with Dad’s air rifle, I think I will have found the perfect gift.

My Dad is forever fretting about the Miner birds that descend on his beloved back porch and shit everywhere. He responds to this problem with the kind of zeal of an American Border Patrol Guard, reaching for his air rifle and firing off plastic projectiles if any threaten to come near. When he was due to go away on holidays recently the hole that he would have to leave in this line of defence was truly troubling him. He is a man that asks little or nothing of no one, and it was hard not to be affected by the trace of hopeless hope in his voice when he turned to The (pacifist, animal loving) Yang as he was leaving, held up his air rifle and said, “you’re not going to be wanting this for shootin’ those birds, are ya mate?” He knew there was no point waiting for an answer, and the disappointment was palpable.

I think a security guard would make him really happy.

 

In the end though, I settled on my mother’s suggestion and got the old bastard nothing.

Spice of Life

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, what would someone who has been in a relationship long enough that they call their partner by their fathers name, know about the spice of life?

But you are probably only thinking that because you haven’t read my previously espoused views about openly fucking around. Or because you didn’t read this post starting at the end and working back, because had you done that, you would realise that I happen to know alot about putting the couple back in coupling (just minus the ‘e’ for ecstasy).

Often, the biggest mistake long time couples make, after having more children in a desperate bid to save a marriage, is failing to spend quality time together. But that need not ever be a problem again with these fun filled activities:

I should point out at this point that serially single people may find the following depictions of happiness distressing. Don’t read on unless you are planning on making hopeful notes for the future, or you like to experience pangs of pain reminding you that you are indeed alive despite not yet having found a mate for life.

 

1. Couple Portraits

Every couple needs a professional series of photographs of themselves, preferably in sensually styled poses. How on earth can you expect the relationship to go the distance, if you don’t have earnest and symbolic documentation of your feelings at hand for easy referral?

For example –

Husband: (pointing to portrait) “Darling, of course I love and lust after you, just look at the hunger in my eyes in our couple portrait, but I really do need to get up early in the morning…”

And beyond this everlasting certification of your love, couple portraits also provide hours of fun filled friskiness by going to the studio and following the sensual directions like this:

“stand behind the lady, slightly to the side. Now ask the lady to rest her head backwards, close her eyes and think romantic thoughts. Now the man must place a soft kiss on the open neck, again with eyes closed. As long as the couple are truly in love, you should capture a very special moment”. – David James Williams, professional photographer

It is important to note however, that couples unhappy with their portrait experience may not be entitled to a money back guarantee if they cannot prove they meet the “truly in love” criteria. Acceptable evidence includes spontaneous fornication as a result of thinking ‘romantic thoughts’.

 

2. Tandem Bike Riding

Nothing gets the love juices followings like mounting a good old fashion bike, in tandem. And, if the advice found in E Zine Articles is true, Tandem Biking the ultimate couple glue because “no matter how hard one partner tries to leave the other, you will always be together” – which is arguably more effective than stalking and a pair of handcuffs. And, believe it or not, twice the fun! Or so I am told. I have never actually tried it, but by the looks of this couple you couldn’t fit any more fun in than if you were a fourteen year old at a fun parlor with your folks on a Sunday:

 

3. Couples Yoga

There is nothing in the world quite like couples yoga for bringing you together, literally.

Radically, Couple Yoga builds on the idea of touch being a central premise of intimacy. They also advocate a little partner worship to help you on your hanky-panky way, although it is unconfirmed as to whether this can secure the same kind of intimacy results as the aforementioned touching.

A good starting point for couples yoga is to hold hands, look deep into your partners eyes, project love from your heart (or your loins, your choice) and then think positive thoughts such as “our lovemaking will be spicy”.

You can then move right along to some touching poses designed to deepen your ‘non-verbal’ understanding of your partner. After fondling along the lines of these fun filled postures, you will never want to leave each other again, and may in fact take to spending the entire day together like a pair of co-joined twins. Although you should note that navigating stairs in the following co-joined position may be tricky, requiring some skilled ‘non verbal’ communication:

 

4. Couples Karaoke

For something a little less cosy but by no means less of a booty booster, why not try Couples Karaoke?

As the old adage goes, “a couple that sings together seems together”. Sure hits to try out include, “I was made for loving you” and “backseat of a greyhound bus”, while you might want to stay away from “stop dragging my heart around”, “you’re no good” and “these boots were made for walkin’”.

 

5. Sex Class

There is not a thing in today’s world that you can’t take an evening class for, and sex is no exception. Whether its improving your hand job technique or brushing up on the atomically correct term for your partner’s ass (anus) and some spicy things you can do to it (strap on and straddle that hide), there is sure to be a class for you and your special someone to help keep things zing zang.

Typically, several couples will gather in one room and the instructor with run through various techniques and demonstrate on her fully clothed self. As a couple you are then placed in curtained off section of the room where you can undress and practice. If you find you need additional coaching, or would just like to increase the size of your party, you can invite the instructor in to help. But remember, what starts behind the curtain, doesn’t stay behind the curtain. Rather, you will find that you will be requested to ‘finish any erections off’ back at home, or in the carpark.

Given the group nature of sex instruction classes, why not consider taking a few friends along for a double date?

Last week, after feeling like I had only half an articulated idea but no time or energy to get it out, and then having that coincide with discovering that three of the regularly loved blogs I read are ceasing to continue, or in one case, at reduced capacity, I found myself thinking about this struggle to sometimes ‘spit it out’.

Not to mention the endless struggle against finding time, losing creative energy, or at times watching my sense of enjoyment, bizarrely given the voluntary nature of this gig, be trumped by a hopeless feeling of obligation.

So to this end, I have deiced to invent some ‘get out of jail free’ cards to help get me off my self imposed hook:

1. Back in Five

(pic)

2. My Brain Is Dead

(pic)

3. Life Got In The Way

(pic)

4. I’m Outta Here

(pic)

5. Intoxication

(pic)

I reserve the right to use these cards as frequently and in any combination as I see fit, which most likely means you will be seeing a lot of  Life Be In It + Intoxication.

(source)

When I found myself answering my own ‘are we stupid’ question in my last blog post with a resounding ‘yes’ I was forced to face what most people around me already knew to be true, that I was a human racist.

So much so that this week I set about with the intention of proving it by presenting a long list of irrefutable examples of mass human stupidity, inspired by watching Woody Allen’s ‘Whatever Works’ and the biting observation he makes in this exchange:

Man: You must have a very dim view of the human race.

Boris: Oh, the human race. They’ve had to install automatic toilets in public restrooms, because people can’t be entrusted to flush a toilet.

Come on, flushing a toilet! They can’t even flush a toilet!

But after sitting around thinking, thinking, thinking, and yet never coming up with anything even halfway as funny or dreadfully astute as Sir Woody, I came to the conclusion, that perhaps this was the best proof of all, that we are so stupid, that I cant even prove our stupidity.

But before you call me out on this cop out, let me say that while a watertight list was a bit of a stretch (without getting into all that ‘whoa the end is nigh we are poisoning ourselves to death and driving around in metal coffins, man’) I did at least come up with a couple of clues….

Like seeing girls dressed like this:

(source)

In near sub zero temperatures. Well, ok, more like 15 above zero, but still, its fucking winter people! Put some clothes on. What kind of logic possess people to head out into the night near naked? It takes years of the kind of evolutionary progress that saw us supersede they so called stupidity of lesser creatures by skinning their hides and draping them over our Neanderthal shoulders to keep warm. What do these girls live in hope of, that they can warm their cockles under the flare of the paparazzi flash bulbs once their fleshy frames are discovered? Or that they will find a modern day ‘man hide’ to drape over themselves to fend off the freeze?

Or better still being reminded of the classic Orson Welles ‘War of the Worlds’ performance, where a sci fi book about a Martian invasion of earth was adapted for a radio play, but with Welles’ added change of adapting the story to make it sound like a news broadcast about an invasion from Mars. Throughout the play the music was interrupted a number of times by fake news bulletins reporting on the ‘invading force of aliens’.

(source)

The news bulletins were so affective – or people so stupid, you decide – that portions of the audience concluded that they were hearing an actual news account of an invasion from Mars. People packed the roads, hid in cellars, loaded guns, even wrapped their heads in wet towels as protection from Martian poison gas, in an attempt to defend themselves against aliens….

Or learning that ‘Wheel of Fortune’ has apparently become too hard for a large viewing audience in America and so has instead been replaced with ‘Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?’. And that packaging on some brands of irons read, “Do not iron clothes on body”, and even better, that some hairdryers come with the instruction “Do not use while sleeping”….

But despite these telling clues, or perhaps because of, I couldn’t muster the motivation to continue the search for more evidence. But I’m not the only one to make great claims despite a lack of clear evidence, so I take comfort that this at least puts me the company of this man:

(source)

I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to devouring the vacuous waste that is a gossip magazine, but picking up the Women’s Weekly in my mum’s house the other day, (apparently a more meaty mag compared to is skin and bone sisters) I got a little more than I bargained for when my brain switched ON instead of OFF.

What’s more is that this strange compulsion to use my brain while reading a gossip mag, came about from simply reading the first page (and by first I mean the one after the ten glossy full page ads) the one where the editor writes us a letter.

You know, the friendly little opener that brings a personal touch? The one that is autographed by the actual editor themselves?!

And so while I read as Helen McCabe opened this month’s mag with the kind of silver tongue the envy of every wedding MC, I found that her neat little wrap up of the motivations behind the magazine’s content was sending my mind firing off in all sorts of different directions like a bunch of fireworks whizzing around on cracker night.

I’m just not so sure that the thought processes I had were exactly what the editor had in mind when she wrote;

“Its not our role to back a leader, but it is our job to ask questions and to bring stories about the people who shape this nation”

(for the non-Aussies, we are in the middle of a Federal Election and the front cover of the mag featured Julia Gillard, our first, but unelected by the public, female Prime Minister. The upcoming election is said to her chance to face the ‘people’s vote’ and she if she cant land the job the old fashioned way)

Being the first female PM is a big deal, the politics of the election, may, debatably, be an even bigger deal, but the Women’s Weekly was right to say that above and beyond this what we really need to know is about the ‘people who shape a nation’.

Which is exactly why the Women’s Weekly’s profile on Gillard would look into her “failed relationships” and “missing out on motherhood” – what the editor describes as the ‘tough’ questions their journalist put to our first female Prime Minister.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t feel comfortable about people shaping our nation unless I know who has shaped their naked body, and how, and if it has lead to a reproduction of our species. But what does make me comfortable doesn’t seem to count for much because for 11years this slime ball excuse for a human being was our leader, and no one seemed to give a shit that the mere sight of him made me squirm:

But the editor’s letter just kept getting better, because she then went onto say to her readers that despite the kind of high-minded journalism that examined “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby’s carriage”, she knew that, “a lot of the commentary on this story will focus on the photographs, which were shot on a wintery Sunday afternoon…”

The shallow superficiality of which could only be topped by how this segued into what was a ‘carefully crafted to look like a casual afterthought’ spiel acknowledging the woeful practice of digitally altered images in women’s magazines that readers were understandably ‘concerned’ about, by saying that yes, it does happen, but from now on they are going to get on a boat that set sail years ago lead by far more progressively minded publications, by labelling when and where photos have been altered, in the interests of ‘transparency’.

In the words of the editor this would be “a small step, but in a world where women are under ridiculous pressure to look younger, your (the readers) concerns are well founded”

This was great news, because, for me, there is nothing better than acknowledging the great height, depths and ‘ridiculous’ extent of issues faced by women, than not really taking too large a leap about it, because, at the end of the day “we use these techniques (digitally altering images) because we want to bring you the best magazine possible”…

Something unlikely to be achieved with people having uneven skin tones and looking far too flawed and realistic to transport people into the fantasy world of unattainable perfection  – not to mention for facilitating a carefully crafted balance between a level of self loathing with the everlasting hope of personal transformation that fuels the entire market for more and more of these kind of mags).

I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s a traditional women’s mag. It is what it is, and you can take it or leave it.  But given that it didn’t seem like a mindless cake and celebrities issue, it was hard to ignore some of the unsettling claims the editor was making.

In the first instance it was the blatant reminder of the negative kind of attitudes towards women that publications like this perpetuate, and how that extends all the way up to how female politicians are examined – on accordance of her ‘bust ups’ and ‘barren womb’ as opposed to say, her policies, or the values that may shape them.

The actual article on Julie Gillard (I did get past the first page eventually) was built around the premise that “a series of life choices had rendered her unrecognisable to a large majority of Australians…(and so) we wanted to know a little more about her”.

The life choices being referred to that made this woman so alien? Being in a defacto relationship and not having a child.

When lured by the journalist into a discussion about these choices Gillard noted that there no doubt would be difficulties involved with balancing motherhood and running a nation, which the article then concluded to mean that “it is interesting that she talks about children as a kind of liability”.

Before going onto say that “it could even be argued that Tim (her partner) – for whom she no doubt cares deeply – is nice to have a round, but he’s not strictly necessary”

The article doesn’t actually explain how this could be argued, and actually does nothing at all to argue such a case, it simply cast the weightless assertion out there and plants it in people mind that Julia Gillard sees the people she loves as ‘not necessary’, and children as ‘liabilities’.

And while I would hardly call myself an advocate of Julia Gillard or her party, I can’t stand that she is the subject to such superficial and conservative analysis.

And what’s more, that this is then genuinely passed off as the kind of ‘tough journalism’ that will lead ordinary Australians to have a deeper understanding of the woman.

But on that point, they are tragically right, because as the very next part of the editor’s letter revealed, more than break ups and more than barrenness, what is really going to be on the mind of the Women’s Weekly’s 2 million plus readership is the photographs taken on a “wintery afternoon” …deep understanding indeed.

And then, in a final and further mind blow, the quagmire of a debate over how women are represented in these mags and the pressures on body image is paid light lip service to, when the editor says, yes, we care, but ‘we tweak images so people look good, so our mag can look good, because at the end of the day, that’s what matters…’

It is like BP saying they have an environment department, because ‘they care’. We know they are the very perpetuators of the problem, so they nod their head slightly in acknowledgement, slap together a department, put a whole lot of spin on it, then think that this is going to appease people that “understandably express concern”.

Do they think we are that stupid. Are we that stupid….?!

In the hotly anticipated sequel to Turf War, RubyTwoShoes makes a dramatic exit from the dimly lit café (which unfortunately goes largely unnoticed due to the poor lighting). Rather than attempting to wrestle back her café table territory from the Pack of Five, she turns her back on warfare once and for all, and instead looks towards new and uncharted territories.

But as we will see in this riveting new take on the original, while the rules of engagement have changed, with all new players and a brand new location, the underlying threat remains the same: Territorial Challenge…


In a quest to find new land, I did what any good explorer is won’t to do, I expanded my horizons. I began to imagine what life outside the confines of the café might look like, and unrestrained by the fear that might grip a lesser adventurer’s heart; I set off up the road.

Armed with little more than a backpack, a meagre supply of water, and an unquenchable thirst for adventure (and as it turns out, more water) I made a discovery not dissimilar to Pythagoras in learning that the world was indeed round – that being, I found the local library.

Although a far cry from being uncharted territory, the library was a harbour, a haven away from the cold, cruel winds of the wide open suburban street I had just walked up.

But it didn’t take long before I also discovered that this harbour sheltered not only me, but a rowdy, skanky swag of misfits. My long held belief that libraries represented civilised and stately spaces for quiet reflection and learning was quickly replaced with the knowledge that the local library was little more than a bawdy bar, minus the much needed free flow of alcohol, that housed the many and varied detractors of mainstream society.

After only a few repeated exploratory journeys into this heart of darkness, I knew that I would need to keep my wits about me, for it was here, at the local library, that I had encountered scenes and noises that still haunt me to this day….

…The terrible squealing coming through the paper thin walls of the toddler room, that only proved pleasing in comparison to the noise that would erupt come ‘Nursery Rhyme Time’, when the whole place would hum with the eerie sounds of young children gaily singing about boroughs breaking and babies and cradles coming crashing to the ground…

….the thunderous sound like the hooves of a thousands horses made by children racing up and down the polished wooden floors of the hall directly above…

….Or, more disturbing still, the screeching yelp of a grown man that refused to accompany his carer back down the road to the local mental health facility. (I must admit however, that his howls were somewhat more welcome than his other tactic of avoiding home time, that being sprawling his humungous, ill clothed, body all over the couch, and promptly falling into a deep, sonorous sleep, causing the librarians to engage in loud arguments with his carers about ‘appropriate library behaviour’)….

All of these things are seared in my memory will stay with me for the rest of my days, along with the awkward discomfort of one day foolishly sitting at the end of the romance novel aisle, and having to spend 15 long minutes sharing the narrow space with a middle aged women who was agonisingly selective over the 50 ‘sexy’ romance titles she was taking home to read in the three week borrowing period. We both favoured acting like neither one could see the other, despite us being only one foot apart while she slipped titles off the shelf, and poured over the title, back blurb and opening pages of Each. And. Every. One. Of. Them. before shoving them into her black plastic bag and finally departing with her stash.

Yet despite this harrowing encounters, I returned again and again to this hardened harbour, and then, one day, using the same kind of deft skills that lead me overhear things with my ears at the café, I discovered, by looking with my eyes, an island in this tempestuous sea of library society. A room, without a view, or a door, but with a table.

Like the white man arriving on Australian shores, I chose to see this table as empty, as having no history, no prior owners, no custodians. A terra nullius table, sovereign to no one. But me.

It wasn’t long before I developed a sacred bond The Room, believing it existed to keep me sheltered from the raging squall of society outside it’s door, that was not a door. Whenever I had a free morning I would rush off to The Room and marvel at how quiet a room without a door could be.

But after a brief and blissful honeymoon I began to suspect that The Room was contested land, after one day an elderly man with coke bottle glasses walked and made to sit next me.

The Room being a tiny space barely a metre squared, and the man’s glasses alone taking up a large potion of that, caused my finely honed personal space invader alarm to siren. I coughed nervously, in case he was so blind he hadn’t seen me, then gave him my best, “what the fuck are you doing if you sit here, in this confined, SMALL space you will practically be sitting on top of me and, you know, it is just going to cause discomfort all around, and really, I shouldn’t need to tell you this” look, and he backed out but not before asking me if I was going to use The Room for long.

Ever since that day, I knew I had to keep it crafty (I don’t mean I had to fashion a doll out of crinkle paper, paste glue and discarded egg cartons, I mean I had to extra precautions in securing my territory).

I took to sprawling my belongings all over the table, and turning up earlier and earlier to make sure I secured my spot. Arriving just after opening time, I would breeze in with my take away coffee, make a beeline for the room (I never a walked a straight line to the room just as an extra precaution. Precaution for what ask? My point Exactly.)

But none of my efforts would hold off against the inevitable, and one day, although I arrived close to opening time, I wasn’t early enough, and The Room was seized by a Blond Pirate with a flighty look in her eye.

Forced to sit down the back in cattle class, where two rows of tables were squashed up against each other separated by flimsy dividers that only came up to your nose, I stewed over my loss while my personal space invader alarms went into overdrive.

But it was here that I made a further discovery; Blond Pirate had a partner. Her Man Pirate was on the corner table, and all throughout the day she would flit back and forth between him and The Room, desperately whispering things like, “ Ive done another puzzle. I have done so many puzzles”, before slinking back off while Man Pirate stared straight ahead, not even blinking an eye.

Then she would come back and say, “I don’t know about this library. We might have to find somewhere else”, then scat off again before finally returning at the end of the day and hissing at him, “the kids. The kids. We have to go get the kids”.

Unlike the Pack of Five, these pirates may have only had two members, but what they lacked in numbers they made up for in creepiness, under his lowered baseball cap he had a dark glint in his eye, and her flighty frame and pastel pink accessories made me nervous.

But I knew I had to take action….

I woke early, before the sun had even rose in the sky, and then I did some things at home because the library itself wouldn’t open until ten.

Then, just before ten I set off up the road, The Yang and The Boy in tow in case I needed reinforcements. When I got there, my worst fears were confirmed. The pirates were waiting by the still locked library doors

Outside of standing behind them, and then, as the doors swung open, elbowing my way past them and making a sprint for the room, I had no way of getting in before them.

Unless…I used The Boy as a decoy. If I could only get him to run through the doors as soon as they opened, pretend to run in after him, but in fact quickly peal off to the left and into The Room, I would be in. And then I could stay there. And never, ever, leave.

But when the doors opened and The Boy ran away from the library, instead of into it, my final hope was foiled.

I had lost. I limped in behind them but really, I had nowhere to go….