Monday, July 27, 2009

The Yoga of Pies.

Back in the olden days, when I was a kid, our school had no canteen.
Thinking rationally now, perhaps this was why my parents chose it.

And back then, during winter, we would excitedly expect a visit from the pie man.
Mondays I think.
Yoga Boy believes it was every Monday throughout winter, but I thought it was only once a month.

20 cents? 30 cents? Something like that anyway.

First thing in the morning, before class had started, the teacher would grab the list and ask you to raise your hand if you wanted to order a pie for lunch.
The groans and shufflings form the children who, for one reason or another didn't have the money was awful.

But it never fascinated me me as much as the kids who would raise both hands straight up in the air, declaring that they could eat two pies!

Bloody hell, to me that was like some sort of contest that was worthy of prime time television.

Matthew Crawley. I can still see him with his arms right up over his head like he was about to dive into a pool. His were the first up and the last down- just in case the teacher missed his order.
He can't have been the only one, but he's the only one I can remember. Funnily enough, that's the only thing I can remember about him save his name.

I do also remember that you were meant to bring along a bowl and a spoon on pie day.
We had one teacher who would dogmatically enquire whether you'd brought it all along before asking you to raise your hand, thus briefly (and cruelly) implying that if you did not, that you might be facing disqualification.
Ghastly stuff for nine year olds to deal with.

Just last year when Hell Boy and I visited Henry VIII's Hampton Court in London, we checked out the kitchens and learned that pies were invented to save money on buying expensive crockery.
The pastry itself, which was discarded, served only as a case or bowl for the pie's contents, and also made for the very first "fast" food in that it could be easily transported and eaten on the road.

Bring a bowl indeed.

Now, you may not know this, but there is in fact, more than one way to eat a pie. TWSS
And usually, I would quietly imply that the inclination stemmed from genetics or familial example.
But I can't, it stems directly from peer influence alone, and I have photographic evidence to back me up.

Yoga Boy, my senior by two years, seemed to have learnt all about pie eating on those Mondays at Burnside Primary.
I'm glad I missed it back then, but some thirty something years later I must now watch it each time we go to the football.


Last game I took the camera so that I could capture the technique for you.

1) Peel off lid
2) Eat lid
3) Mix tomato sauce into now luke warm filling with bare, unwashed fingers
4) Scoop out filling with first two fingers, straight into mouth, disregarding all hygiene regulations and any sort of manners
5) Repeat
6) Make a big show of "cleaning" fingers with tongue despite the fact that it is in far worse shape
7) Scrunch up empty base into a cylindrical shape and eat
8) Wipe excess spittle and gristle from fingers onto trousers - right thigh area seems to be the best for this
9) Smell fingers whilst pretending to scratch nose - pfnaar pfnaar

So, if you're feeling up to it next time you're in public, give it a go and let me know how you get on.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Not welcome.

I am not welcome in the ocean.

I've known it since I was quite young, maybe 4 or 5 years old.

Actually, now that I think of it, I'm not really welcome in most bodies of water, be they salt or otherwise.
There's almost always a drama, and the few normal saturated experiences I've had were due to me being under Hell Boy's protection for a brief period. Like having an maritime bouncer or like in Pac Man when you eat the ghost and are briefly invincible. Heady stuff.

Hell Boy is descended from many many generations of seafarers, and I know this to be true because his mother once gave me instructions as to how to beat an octopus to death on the rocks.

Having grown up on Maroubra beach, and having spent time as a surf lifesaver, he feels very connected to the ocean and very comfortable in it.
He says he can feel it doing him good and washing away the negative residues of life. When he's in the ocean's embrace, he is completely happy and his soul is at peace.

I'm not like that.

When I'm in the ocean, I'm looking around, frantic, trying to determine from which direction the next onslaught will come.
As soon as I make contact with that salty water, it does all it can to eject me.

And if you don't believe me, I once got dumped in ankle deep water.
OK so it was at Maroubra, which is not the indigenous word for calm water, but still, 3 year old kiddies were pointing and laughing at me.

So, for one reason or another, I simply do not equate the beach with relaxation.
Except for the times I've been with immersed with Hell Boy, I have felt harrassed out there.

Harrassed by bubbles, even the fluffiest of which have the ability to knock me over if I lose my concentration.
Harrassed by every piece of seaweed in the vicinity.
Harrassed by small curious fish who scare the shit out of me with their goggly eyes and scaly slimes.
Harrassed by phantom shark sightings.
Unnaturally terrified of electric eels, pirhanas, moray eels and quicksand, all of which are looking out for me even as we speak.
Harrassed by blue bottles, for whom I appear to have a magnetic attraction. My guess is they're seeking the refuge of camouflage on my skin.
Harrassed by the agonising sensations of cold water that only someone with a light frame can ever understand.
Harrassed by the excrutiating pain of old middle ear infection scars due to wicked coastal winds.

And then there's the rips, the freak waves, that pointy scratchy sand, the cement...

Yep, the cement.

I was with Hell Boy at Avalon beach, hoping that the elements might be kind and give me a break so that I could share his joy in the beach experience...

And because he'd noted that the surf was too rough for me (it was barely moving), we went to swim in the tidal pool at the south end just to be sure.

I hate deep pool water, it makes me panic. But I decided to grin and bear it for at least 5 minutes.
I was cold too, so I hopped out and was sitting on a nearby ledge trying to warm up in the sun, thinking that it might take another 20 minutes or so before my poor skin began to change from frost bitten blue to sunburnt red.

And then, even though I was nowhere near the water itself at the time, I got dumped.


How the hell is that even possible?

Well, the scar running down my left elbow and both my thighs confirm that you can in fact be dumped whilst not actually being in the ocean.
But only if you're me, so don't worry.
I slid a good 10 metres across a cement landing before coming to an abrupt halt up against some rocks, nails ground down to tatty splinters, dignity non-existent, a bleeding, pulpy mess.

Not welcome.

Poor Hell Boy.
At least I try to enjoy his passion though. TWSS

After this happened and the general amazement died down, it occurred to me that the situation felt somewhat familiar.

My mother lived for the sun (clearly not a genetically dominant trait) and as small children, Yoga Boy and I spent many an afternoon either at Mona Vale beach or at Parramatta Pool doing the whole 1970's bronzed Aussie thang.

Except me.

I was doing the "that dead blue bottle just stung me" or the "almost drown while both your parents are holding your hand" thang.

My parents had taken me for a little splash into the babies pool (ewwwwwwwwwww) which was perhaps 1-2 inches deep in the shallow end. I was maybe 18 months old.
They were having a little chat, each holding one of my hands and eventually looked down to discover that I was way ahead of any schedule and was already floating and on the way to becoming blue.

At the time I'm sure they felt a little negligent and very confused by it all.
My father being an engineer, never quite saw how it was even physically possible.
And lets' face it, it isn't.

Years later, after realising my God given gift for defying the aquatic odds, they just scratched their heads and hoped that I'd have the good sense to steer clear of the water.

And so I did until 20 years ago when *enter Hell Boy stage left*