August 31, 2012

Queen of (our) Hearts...

Photo credit: Mario Testino

It's 15 years today. Incredible. I can't believe so much time has passed since her death.

I was lucky enough to actually meet Diana, once. It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment that was over so fast but to this day, the memory of how I felt feels as vivid as ever. The year was 1983. I had just turned 17 and was in my final year of high school at an all-girls public school. I was a prefect, one of twelve, and all the talk around the traps was the news that Charles, Diana and baby William would visit our little town of Dunedin during their whistlestop tour of New Zealand. This was big. Hardly anyone important came down as far south to visit, so we were pretty excited.

The Prince & Princess of Wales with son William, 1983

But bigger news was to come. We were left totally gobsmacked a little later by an invitation to attend the opening ceremony of the new wing at our brother high school up the road... with none other than the Prince and Princess of Wales as official guests!! Holy crap! I'm sure you can imagine the level of (noise) excitement that broke out between we teenage girls. In short, we were ECSTATIC.

And so there we were. Standing in the centre of a never-ending sea of male students with a union jack blanket we grabbed from our common room held front and centre. We were giggly. Excited. And desperate for any glimpse of her Royal Highness. Our barely-restrained patience was rewarded as a door opened and out stepped Charles and Diana not more than three metres away! She immediately spied us standing there and much to our absolute delight she exclaimed, "Oh, at last! Some girls!" And walked straight over to meet us. OH MY GOD.

I don't remember much of what we said. My one clear memory is how utterly flawless her complexion was. She was stunning. With eyes that were the most vivid shade of blue. Photos I'd seen hadn't done her justice because in person, she was simply breathtaking. Our photo made the paper the next day and added to the glow we were still basking in after meeting Diana. It was pretty cool being us right then.

One of my favourite shots

Fast forward to August 31st, 1997 and I was at my mother-in-law's house with my family when we heard the unthinkable. I was stunned. Surely there must be some mistake, I thought. I spent the next few days constantly watching the television, in between bouts of crying. OMG, the crying! I cried a river of tears, a whole swollen, bloated river. I cried for my own personal loss, I cried for the senselessness of it all, but most of all I cried for her two young boys. I don't think I will ever forget that haunting image of them walking behind her casket at the funeral. So heartbreaking.

Image - Associated Press

I think she would be very proud of her boys today. What a credit to her (and Charles). They have turned out to be gorgeous, well-adjusted, happy and even, dare I say it, 'normal' young men. Even with the odd naked scandal included. (I daresay she would have had some choice words to say about that, but as every mother of blokes well knows, boys will be boys, so I'm sure he would've been eventually forgiven!)

Still miss you, Diana x

What are your memories of Diana? Where were you when you heard about her death? 

August 28, 2012

If it's not on, it's not ON...

High school homework gives rise to some funny conversations with your kids sometimes. Take the one the Provider and I had with Mr 14 last night, for example.

He was finishing an assignment about contraception. They had to design an advertisement about their contraceptive product of choice for either radio, television or print media. It took him a while to work out which product he was going to choose but eventually he settled on condoms.

The next 15 minutes were hilarious (for The Provider and I) and probably embarrassing (for Mr 14) as we brainstormed what we thought could be cool and hip brand names for these condoms. Lusty Rubbers? The Cock Sock? Or how about my own personal favourite, Funky Frangers? LOL. Poor M. He was torn between laughing and feeling very self-conscious. "This is so weird talking like this with you guys."

For the record, I loved it. Some days the perks of parenthood are few and far between and I felt it was brilliant to talk about this particular subject in a way that was less about having 'the talk' and more about having fun but still getting the message across.

The laughs didn't end there though. As part of his research, we looked on the internet for some design ideas and came across this very clever and funny condom commercial. Seriously, there are some ridiculously clever people who work in the world of advertising. My pelvic floor got a great workout as I giggled continuously while watching. Check it out for yourself... oh, and I'd rate it 'marginal' for work safety - possibly better to watch in private!

I hope Mr 14's teacher finds his assignment to his liking. I saw the finished result just before M rolled it up to take in to class today. I have a feeling that marking those particular assignments will be very entertaining!

What's the funniest commercial you've ever seen? Share the love here!

August 27, 2012

Music for Monday

I am still smiling about the rugby on Saturday night, when the All Blacks totally outclassed the Wallabies, with an emphatic win 22 - 0. There was much whooping and hollering at the television after that! The result wrapped up the Bledisloe Cup for another year and keeps that magnificent piece of silverware in the New Zealand trophy cabinet for the eleventh straight year. What an achievement for those mighty men.

In other news, one of the world's most well-known astronauts has died. I was only three years old when Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon on July 20, 1969 but his name was one that the whole world came to know. No longer was walking on the moon the stuff of children's fairy tales; Neil Armstrong had shown it was possible. His first words as he stepped off that ladder have now become immortal: "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind".


So to mark his passing at the age of 82, today's Music for Monday post is dedicated to Neil Armstrong. A quiet and unassuming man who became one of the most famous of all pioneers in space. May he rest in peace.

Enjoy your Monday, everyone x

August 25, 2012

When it's NOT about the bike... but about the man who's on it...


I've always liked the picture that smooshed word creates in my mind. Have you heard of the man this word is associated with? Just about everyone in the developed world does. Especially today.

American Lance Armstrong is one of the best-known cyclists on the planet. He's the winner of seven - count them - SEVEN Tour de France titles. He's beaten testicular cancer. He's an author, a father, a husband and also the founder of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, an impressive organisation that supports people affected by cancer. Since it started, the Foundation has raised over $500 million US dollars toward cancer research. By anyone's standards, his bio makes for fairly awesome reading.

I've always admired Lance for his incredible athleticism. Cycling is a particularly tough sport, physically as well as mentally. It is, I'd imagine, quite a lonely one too. Hour upon hour of training, just you and the bike. No teammate alongside to share the load. Just you and the road and your mind, fighting a continuous battle to keep those legs pumping. Talk about hardcore.

The Tour de France is the pinnacle of the cycling world and its reputation as the world's toughest road race is well deserved. This literally sorts the players from the pretenders, it's a virtual torture chamber of 'mind over matter' where one hint of weakness will see the pack chew up and spit you to the side of the road without the slightest hesitation. That's why winning one of these is so special and why seven-time trophy holder Lance Armstrong is considered a legend within the cycling world.

But everyone has their limit, it appears. In a move that has surprised many - including me - Lance Armstrong has given up the fight to clear his name regarding allegations of rampant drug use during his career. He released a statement on his website yesterday (you can read it here) saying 'There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say "enough is enough".' He goes on to say that 'the toll this has taken on my family, the work I have done for our Foundation, and on me leads me to where I am today - finished with this nonsense.'

In response, the US Anti Doping Agency have stripped him of his seven Tour titles and banned Lance from the sport for life. Whether or not they have the authority to do so remains to be seen, but it's a huge blow never the less. What will become of his legacy? Because he has chosen to draw a metaphorical line in the sand and walk away, it will forever be tainted by questions over his innocence. While the decision to walk isn't an admission of guilt, there will be plenty who feel that it is.

I don't have the answers to this. But I do have an opinion. We need to see complete public disclosure by the US Anti Doping Agency of all evidence regarding Armstrong's alleged guilt. As a fan, I need to see it, I don't want to hear any more speculating or posturing. Especially now that Lance himself has refused to front up and refute any and all allegations. Without disclosure from the USADA, all that remains is conjecture and rumour and I reckon we've had enough of that over the past decade.

Lance's actions of the last 24 hours might suggest that he's had enough of it too.

So what do YOU think? Is Lance a cheat? Should he have walked away or kept on fighting to clear his name? 

All images from

August 22, 2012

"Remember, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Except herpes. That shit'll come back with you."

Ah, yes, that old chestnut. 'What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas'.

Except... when it doesn't (because you're too damn famous for people to keep quiet about you!)

Who, me??
Source: Getty Images

Oh, boy. That fun-loving party animal of the Royal family, Prince Harry, has been caught with his pants down and then some. Apparently Hazza picked up a group of nubile young women last weekend while in Vegas and invited them up to his private VIP suite for a game of strip billiards (or as we would say here in Australia, Strip Pool). Photos have since been leaked showing Hazza flashing the royal birthday suit, including a particularly revealing full frontal view of him cupping the crown jewels with both hands while an equally naked young woman cuddles his princely body from behind. As you would. Ahem.

*insert funny throwaway one-liner here.* (Mental note:  Come back later if I think of one.)

Let's get this party started!
Source: Getty Images

The Palace has said nothing other than confirming that the photos ARE in fact, genuine. *chuckles* Oh to be a fly on the wall of the PR department at Buckingham Palace. Can you imagine the conversations? And the reaction of the Queen? *snorts* One might imagine she'd be a little perturbed by such behaviour. Bet you anything though that Prince Philip is secretly proud. He'll be the one to joke about it at the Christmas family gathering.

Because he's a bit of a rebel, that Harry. And someone who obviously enjoys life. Possibly because he's the spare, not the heir - not as much pressure about duty and all that falling on his regal shoulders. And he's also got a rather endearing cheekiness about him too. In short, he looks like he'd be brilliant to hang out with. And I think that's why so many people (me included) can't help but like him. He's that bloke who can spin a yarn and keep everyone hanging on to the very last word, that guy with a well-tuned sense of humour who's not afraid to use it, and the man you could depend on to banish the word 'boring' from your vocabulary.

Last drinks?
Source: Getty Images

So what do I think about this latest adventure? I'm okay with it. Harry's a single man, he's not breaking any law and everything looks pretty consensual in those pictures, so good luck to him. He's probably a little red-faced about letting photos of this particular night get out  - that wasn't so smart, I'm sure his security team won't be that happy - but he's got testosterone in buckets and should be allowed to have an actual life, other than the royal one. To his credit, he does his bit for charities and the monarchy plus he's still a serving member of the British Defence Forces, so I reckon he deserves to let his hair down on holidays. Don't we all?

What do you think? Has Harry gone too far and embarrassed the royal family or is he just doing what any hot-blooded male would do if he got the chance?

August 20, 2012

Music for Monday (night)...

Just when I thought I was over a bad dose of the flu, gale force winds arrived to whip everyone senseless around these parts, bringing with it enough pollen and god knows what else to send my nasal cavities straight into MEGA hay fever mode. Ugh. Just what I needed.

I've spent the majority of the last two days within two metres reach of the nearest tissue box. Any further and I risk an unattended dripping nose. I am flabbergasted at the amount of mucous my body can actually generate. It feels like litres! My poor nose is totally over it - even after using those soft aloe vera tissues - so I'm popping the hay fever meds like nobodies business and hoping like hell it clears up soon.

However, in other far more exciting news, Son #2 was at the dentist this morning to get his braces off! 18 months has passed and his teeth are finally in alignment. I had braces too, back when I was 12 and I distinctly remember the day I got them off. I couldn't get over how big my teeth looked; it was like I'd become a member of the Osmond's overnight with a set of choppers to match (if you've never heard of the Osmond's, then you're obviously much younger than me. The Donny & Marie Show was must-watch viewing when I was a pre-teen!)

M's teeth look fantastic - the dentist did a great job - beautifully straight and definitely worth every cent of those monthly payments! He now has retainers for the next year or so but he doesn't mind as they are clear and hardly visible when he's got them on. Just check out that cheeky grin, would ya?

Isn't he gorgeous?

So with that joyful image in mind, I thought I'd pick a song for today's Music for Monday that makes me smile every time I hear it - hopefully it will have the same effect on you too! It's an oldie but a goodie - The Beatles with "Good Day Sunshine".

What songs make YOU smile when you hear them? Share the love, why don't you?

August 19, 2012

Two games... two wins? Check and CHECK!

Huge rugby day yesterday. Massive. It's the pointy end of the rugby season and Mr 14's rugby team had made the semi-finals. The boys were well and truly pumped and raring to go. If I heard it once, I heard it several times on the field: 'fire up, boys' and fire up they most certainly did. The game was very physical but they ran out deserved winners, beating their opposition 29-19 and earning a place in the final in two weeks time. YEAH, BABY!

It set the scene for the rest of the day.

We raced home straight after because we had that other rugby fixture to attend... the much-awaited first game of 2012 between the All Blacks and the Wallabies. I was fit to burst with excitement - colour me pumped, people! I hadn't been to see the All Blacks play live for far too long and this time I was sharing it with my equally rugby-mad son.

How cool does the stadium look at night?

One of the best decisions we made was catching the special event bus to the stadium. A direct benefit from hosting the Olympics in Sydney 2000, the buses run every time there's a major sporting event at ANZ Stadium. It's brilliant - no stress over driving or parking plus I had a lovely chat about all things rugby with the old bloke sitting beside me. I love that. Rugby people are so friendly.

Here we are singing the national anthems. Our section had a large and very vocal representation of All Black support, including a dude up behind us providing some great heckling moments (telling the rather pedantic Irish referee Alain Rolland 'Mate, they didn't come to see YOU!') We couldn't help but agree with him, there. Adding to the fun were multiple Mexican waves around the crowd, a few blow-up beach balls bouncing over thousands of hands (until security put an end to that by slashing them, boo!) and an atmosphere that was electric as well as good natured. Mr 14 couldn't wipe the grin off his face. "This is AWESOME, Mum."

Image - Getty Images

Cory Jane scores!   {Source}

Sonny Bill Williams in flight  -  Getty Images

Richie McCaw - Capt Fantastic - Photosport Images

The All Blacks, while not at their absolute best, were still far too classy for the mistake-ridden Wallabies, winning 27-19. I don't think Kurtley Beale will look back on this game with much fondness - after several fumbles, the Aussies in the crowd were giving him stick every time he even touched the ball.

There were some brilliant performances from individual All Blacks - Israel Dagg looked dangerous every time he had the ball (a clear stand out for Man of the Match), Dan Carter was on target most of the night with his goal kicking as well as orchestrating several breaks in the field of play, Richie McCaw definitely made his mark with strong running and his usual skill around the ruck and Cory Jane again showed why he is such a natural on the wing, scoring the All Blacks' second try.

We had a great night - as an avid rugby supporter, there really is nothing better than being in the crowd when your team is playing well. I'm going to call it now - look for even further improvement in the Men in Black when they meet the Wallabies again next week in New Zealand. That match, not surprisingly, is already a sellout.

Mr 14 and I will be watching the television with much interest. Go Black!!

Are you or your family sports fans? Have you taken your kids to see a game? What was the best part about it?

August 16, 2012

A Bledisloe Cup to remember...

You know those rare moments in life when events conspire to put you in the right place at the right time? YEAH. I had one such moment yesterday.

I was watching M play rugby for his school at the same moment that the Bledisloe Cup Road Show arrived at the ground. It was there for barely an hour but that was plenty long enough for me to get up close and personal with this legendary giant of rugby union trophies.

For the uninitiated, the Bledisloe Cup has been contested between Australia and New Zealand rugby union sides since 1932 and is only second to the World Cup in terms of importance. The winner from this match series earn themselves trans-Tasman bragging rights for the next 12 months, something rugby union fans on both sides of the ditch hold most dear! 

I'd never seen the cup in person before. I know it's 'just' a trophy but let me tell you, the Bledisloe has an air about it that is nothing short of awe-inspiring. You can't help but be impressed. The aura of battles past is unmistakeable, in the rows of shields with the name of the winning country engraved neatly on it, to the rich, traditional lustre of the polished silver handles. You can truly appreciate its magnificence up close, just as past winning captains would have done before hoisting it aloft in victory. The caretaker accompanying the trophy told me that including the timber base, the Bledisloe weighs something like 9 kilos. It seemed suitably weighty and entirely appropriate for a trophy held in such high esteem by the rugby fraternity.  

Standing next to a rugby legend...

This Saturday the All Blacks and the Wallabies will again do battle for the Bledisloe in Sydney. Even more exciting, my family and I have tickets to go! To say that I am excited about the prospect of seeing my beloved All Blacks in action would be understating it mildly. I can barely sit still; Saturday can't get here soon enough. Plus there will be the magnificence of the All Blacks performing the haka live - the atmosphere it creates is something very special and I'll be sharing this with my rugby-mad 14 year old son for the very first time. I've been to All Black games before but he has no idea how much this experience will stay with him for years to come. I can't wait to see his face as he soaks it all in. As a parent, these are the moments you live for.


The All Blacks are due to fly into Sydney today ahead of Saturday's big game. Welcome to Australia, fellas. Can't wait to see you in action come the weekend. I'll be a part of the expected large contingent of All Black supporters, wearing my supporters gear and screaming encouragement from the stands. May the best team win!! Bring. It. On!

August 14, 2012

Open Letter for driving parents...

... but more specifically, those parents who use the 'Kiss & Drop' lane at my local school. I have seen some questionable and incredibly unsafe driving practices there lately. Despite being a patient and even-tempered driver, I have found myself tested to the limits of late!


Just a few observations:

1.   The actual name of this practice - Kiss & Drop - should be the first clue for all users. You kiss your child goodbye and drop them safely at the kerb in a safe and timely manner. It does NOT mean 'Get out of the car, smooth down child's hair, straighten their uniform and then stroll slowly to the school gate with said child before kissing them goodbye.'

2.   Kids are of school age now so that means that they are perfectly capable of exiting the car BY THEMSELVES. This is not asking too much of them. Kids can use computers better than many adults so surely they can manage to exit a stationary vehicle on their own. Then it's simply a matter for them to reach in and grab their bag, say goodbye and close the door. See? Done and dusted.

3.   Queue in an orderly fashion, one car behind the other. Believe it or not, there is a system trying to work here. Don't be tempted to push in two cars ahead when you 'think' you see a space. This is the equivalent of changing lanes several times on the freeway. Gets you nowhere. The only time you'll save will be negligible and you'll end up with the arse-end of your car sticking out into traffic (creating more issues for the rest of us) because that space you thought you saw? Wasn't actually a space.

4.   Kiss & Drop is NOT the place for an extended chat with other parents. I love a chat just as much as the next person, but believe me, there are far better venues available to do this i.e the nearest quality cafe. Plus these have the benefit of serving actual coffee to drink and comfy chairs to recline in while you're chatting so why wouldn't you rather go there? Just sayin'.

5.   Please, for the love of God, do NOT attempt to chuck a U-turn from the Kiss & Drop Bay. Seriously, this is like playing russian roulette with real bullets. I saw one woman try this manoeuvre the other day and whilst in the midst of her 5 point turn, she nearly took out three people crossing the road. Scary stuff.

6.   Once you've dropped your kids at the kerb, whack that indicator on and drive! Don't be a Slow Coach! There will be at least five other cars waiting for your space, so to keep things running smoothly move away from the kerb promptly. That moment is not the time to send that text or check your Facebook account. Slow Coaches create chaos because other drivers will retaliate by jumping the queue - in protest - which defeats the whole purpose of using it in the first place, right? See Point 3, above.

And these are just the ones I thought of. I bet there are a whole stack of others out there. So tell me... what are YOUR experiences of using Kiss & Drop? Share your stories here!

August 13, 2012

Music for Monday

What a weekend. I need another two days to catch up on sleep. There was the usual rugby on Saturday and this week we were playing at a ground an hour's drive away in the eastern suburbs. The weather wasn't kind to us at all - winds were gale force and extremely icy, making life on the sidelines only for the hardcore. Fortunately there was a mobile coffee van at this ground and also - much to my amusement - a mobile barber van so spectators could kill two birds with one stone and get a hot drink and a short back and sides. LOL.

Both vans were flat out with customers!

From there, I drove up to the Blue Mountains for the night with my good friend, Lilith Bloom. We hadn't planned on doing much, just dinner that night and breakfast and a bit of shopping the next morning. But still plenty of time to have a chat and enjoy a short break from motherhood, albeit for a bare 20 hours or so.

The Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains - aren't they stunning?

This morning though, it is back to reality. My entire day so far has consisted of cleaning up the house. Putting load after load of washing on, hanging it out, unstacking and re-stacking the dishwasher, hand washing the stuff you can't put in there, vacuuming, putting stuff away.... you get the idea. Incredible when you consider that the place was clean when I left!

So I definitely needed some musical inspiration to help me along. Fortunately there was heaps to be had as the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games in London was showing on the telly this morning. Stacks of great music: David Bowie, John Lennon/The Beatles, The Who, Pink Floyd, Spice Girls, Annie Lennox, Russell Brand, Muse.... and that's just what I saw! And not least in that long list of British talent, George Michael. He provides the song for today's Music For Monday post so turn it up and have a listen to "Freedom".

Enjoy your Monday, everyone!

August 9, 2012

Don't soldier on... STAY HOME!


Wellness has been uppermost in my mind this week. It teases like a sweet yet distant memory. Mainly because my own health (normally excellent) has been less than stellar since the weekend after catching a virulent dose of the flu my youngest son brought home from school. It's been four days now and I think - at least I hope - I'm almost over the worst of it. Half a forest's worth of tissues have been used and I've coughed and sneezed more times than I care to think about. Add to my malaise an aching body, a throbbing head and a distinct lack of energy and you can imagine how crappy I've felt; my physical condition self-diagnosed as type Rattus Shittus.

All in all, not fun.

Winter is the time for coughs and colds, that's true. It's the same every year. But am I the only one who finds it incredibly frustrating seeing some parents continuing to send their children to school when they are still unwell? I've witnessed children with green, streaming noses and a barking cough that would do a German Shepherd proud. And no-one seems to carry tissues in their pockets anymore so all those little germy bastards are free to float around the classroom and attach themselves to unsuspecting, currently healthy kids. Who then bring them home to share with the WHOLE family. Joy.

But it's not just happening at school. It's in the work place too.

How many people at your place of business should really be at home because they're sick? Coughs and sniffles are around everywhere. Go to a room filled with people and stop and listen for a few minutes. You'll soon hear them. Those people who catch a bus or train to work will know what I'm talking about; public transport being the perfect incubator for all those germs to get to work, literally.

There are a multitude of reasons why people keep going to work despite being ill. Employees don't take sick days because they're expected to 'keep calm and carry on' or simply 'grin and bear it'. Too many deadlines, work would be short-staffed if they stayed home, it'd look bad if they had more than one day off, etc. I'm generalising VERY broadly, I know, but you get my point.

Then there's those commercials that support this way of thinking, imploring us all to 'soldier on' through colds and flu. Pfft. Like that's actually possible. Honestly? The closest I got to 'soldiering on' this week has been reaching for the tissue box with military precision every five minutes.

So I'd like to make a public service announcement. If your little darling is exhibiting symptoms of a serious cold or bout of the flu, please - do us ALL a favour and keep them home. And if you're an employee? Use those sick days, baby. Cheaper for your employer in the long run and much better for your health. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find another tissue...

Have you been sick and still gone to work? Or how do you decide when to keep your kids home from school? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

August 7, 2012

Music for Monday...

(Yes, I know it's Tuesday but I was as sick as a dog yesterday. Could not even type, let alone focus on the screen. Felt bloody awful actually.)

But what a difference 24 hours makes. Today I can actually stand up for more than two minutes without my legs becoming weak underneath me. I spent most of yesterday on the couch, feeling like death and alternately sneezing or blowing my nose. It took me about an hour to get showered and dressed and by then, I was exhausted. Sleep was about all I was good for. 

Luckily The Blokes Wot Live Here stepped up and organised dinner for themselves (i.e raided the freezer for pizza) and saved a couple of slices for me - not that I felt like eating anything. If there was ever any doubt that I wasn't looking at my best, this was  immediately addressed by Son#2 who very  astutely observed, 'God, Mum, you really look like crap.' Why thank you, Captain Obvious. And pass me the box of tissues, would ya?

But now to the music - today's little number is inspired by the events of the weekend, celebrating the joys of friendship and all its wonderful benefits - here's a great little song by those clever boys from Flight of the Conchords - "Friends".

Friends, la la la la... ping. LOL.

August 5, 2012


Winners are grinners... and friends no matter what.

Last night I went to a friend's engagement party. The venue was awesome, a cool little hotel in The Rocks in Sydney, with the Harbour Bridge visible from the upstairs balcony. It's been a while since I've gone out so I was really looking forward to getting dressed up and having a few laughs. I knew a couple of gals I hadn't seen for ages were going too, including one who I always refer to as My Partner in Crime. I've known her for almost 15 years and we have gone on many chick weekends away (although not lately, darling - we need to remedy that!) When we're together, there is no limit to the amount of fun we can have. A particular restaurant in the Hunter Valley will attest to the validity of that fact. Ahem.

But it was fantastic to touch base with my mates and catch up on what's been happening in their lives. The newly engaged couple certainly put on a great bash - the champagne was flowing, the music was from my era (i.e anything circa 80's & 90's) and the room was pumping! I may have even sung back up vocals with the band for a few songs, too. Heh.

It reminded me of how lucky I am - and how true friends are worth their weight in GOLD. Far better than any Olympic medal and quite frankly, way more important. They are the gifts in life that keep on giving. The ones who don't care how long it's been since you last spoke, the ones who pick you up when you're feeling like shit, the ones you can call on any time and they'll be there, no question. I found this little quote on Facebook the other day and it summed up everlasting friendship perfectly for me:

It's been said that everlasting friends go long periods of time without speaking and never question their friendship. These friends pick up phones like they just spoke yesterday, regardless of how long it has been or how far away they live and they don't hold grudges. They understand life is busy and that you will always love them.

I have a few friends who are exactly like this and I would be absolutely lost without them. My eternal thanks and love goes to those special people - they know who they are.

How have YOUR friends coloured your world? What's the most memorable thing anyone has ever done for you in the name of friendship? 

August 3, 2012

Playing to win...


How do you define success at this Olympics?

Is it primarily by the colour of the medal? Is it by the journey made to make the Olympics in the first place? Is it by the way athletes conduct themselves with the media, post-event? Or is it all of those things?

In this country, we live and breathe sport on a daily basis even when the Olympics aren't on. Every weekend sees local TV channels absolutely chock full of sport to choose from, from rugby union to horse racing to golf to V8 Supercars. We are known for embracing the challenge of competition and if there's a bit of sporting rivalry involved, well, so much the better! Bring it on!

But are we, as Australians, guilty of unrealistic expectations of our athletes? Is there too much pressure from the public to accept nothing less than a win? These Games have been notable in Australia for the distinct lack of gold medals hanging in the cabinet. Our swim team, especially, haven't performed anywhere near as prophesied. And as such, we've seen silver medalists breaking down because they hadn't won their events, feeling like they'd let down their country, their parents and/or themselves.

So what's the problem? I listened to a bloke on the radio this morning talking about this very thing. Our swimmers, he said, were not performing as well because they'd been allowed by swimming officials to talk themselves up on social media and in the press, creating this huge public perception that we'd pull in a swag of gold in the pool. He went on further to say that the public had lapped it up and as a consequence, the swimmers got caught up in all the hype and made the mistake of believing all their own publicity. And today I read that former Australian Olympic champion Susie O'Neill has waded (sorry!) into the discussion by suggesting that the work ethic in Australian swimming isn't the same as it was ten years ago. 'Talent gets you this far in an Olympics, work ethic gets you over the line.' 

She may have a point, to a degree. Ten years ago athletes didn't have Twitter and Facebook and all those sorts of distractions. You'd think there was enough pressure from the public to deal with, without putting more on yourself by constant social media interaction.

But is that really the reason? And do we need one? Perhaps it's because someone else was better on the night. And instead of looking for excuses why we didn't come first, maybe we should be more focussed on where we HAVE come. And saying congratulations, that's freaking awesome, well done, mate.

I want to see more of that - a celebration of an athlete's achievements in just MAKING the Games (and Channel 9, for the love of God - tell your presenters less talk is MORE and a wider range of nations in the coverage would be nice too, thanks) Just being good enough in your field to qualify makes you pretty awesome in my world. How many people do you know that are former or current Olympic athletes? I personally don't know any. The closest I've ever come to Olympic greatness was seeing the Olympic torch for all of three seconds as it was carried past me before the start of the Sydney 2000 Games.

What do YOU think? How is your country going at these Olympics? And are your commentators as banal and annoying as the ones in Australia are? OMG. It's sheer torture listening to them. Seriously, I've wanted to throw things at the telly. 

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