Saturday, June 20, 2009


I believe I may have mentioned that my beloved has a habit of 'organising' things into existence, and then discovering at the crucial juncture that she has commitments elsewhere. Case in point: string orchestra for the boys. Elder Son is studying - and enjoying - cello, while Younger Son is doing pretty well with a violin. And so, Natalie felt they should be given the opportunity to play in a group.

Okay, yep. Except the only group for their age and skill level is in Launceston.

That's okay, says Natalie. It's her idea. She'll take 'em to practice. Yep.

So far, there have been two practices and two full rehearsals for the upcoming concert with the youth choir. Oddly, Natalie had to work on the afternoon of the first practice, so it fell to me to locate (largely by instinct and blessed good fortune) the practice site, in the middle of the worst of Launceston's (admittedly not too bad) peak hour traffic.

I did that, yep. Collected the kids from school. Drove like hell for nearly an hour to Launceston. Drove around for twenty minutes following the worst, vaguest, most fucked-up instructions ever (didn't even have the name of the practice hall right. It turned out to be a fucking church.) until I found the place. Dragged the Mau-Mau away for an hour to keep her from creating pandemonium. Collected the boys afterwards. Took them to the food courts for dinner for an hour or so. Drove another hour home, etc.

But that was okay, because Natalie was going to get the next one.

Except the next one was a dress rehearsal on a Saturday, and she was on call. Whoops! Ah well. I wasn't using that Saturday.

The second practice was last night, and to be fair, Natalie did indeed handle it. But of course, she was off to Hobart for the weekend in the morning at 0630... so I had to find us all a room where we could overnight in Launceston because yes, they had another dress rehearsal today. That Natalie couldn't attend.


It was a nice night, sure. We had dinner out, and had some wine, and watched a DVD back in the hotel, and it was fine. Yep. But of course, at 0630, Natalie cut and run.

So I ran up a minor breakfast for all three kids while packing to leave. (Cold cereal, toast and vegemite or marmalade, depending on the kid.) Found all stuffed toys and books, reloaded the car. Checked out on time, took the kids across to Kmart for some shoes for Elder Son, because he's outgrown everything except his cheap Croc knockoffs (don't blame me; it's his mum what does stuff like that!) and his blue vinyl wellies. Tracked down a rather nicer and more substantive breakfast at a little Greek cafe. Then I took the kids afoot to a little T-shirt printery I've used before -- on a mission.

No T-shirt printery. Now it's a Real Estate Agent. Damn.

Checked my watch. Still the better part of five hours to the rehearsal. Now what? No way I'm driving home (nearly an hour) to spend a couple hours there, then driving back for the rehearsal, then home again.

Check the cinema guides. Ohhhhh fuck. There's only one movie that falls into the Venn Diagram intersection of "Kid Friendly" and "Approriate Time Slot." And so it was that I wound up watching "Night In The Museum 2".

Meh. It was marginally funnier than the first, yep. Oh, and that Amelia Earhart actress... she was nice to look at. But not enough to make me actually interested in the film.

At least the kids liked it. Which was useful, because the thing I thought was a minor sore throat was blowing up into something weird and ugly -- some kind of hideously painful inflammation at the back of the base of my tongue. Is this some kind of salivary gland thing? It hurts like five kinds of ugly fuck. Talking hurts. Swallowing hurts. Thinking about it hurts.


Movie finishes, time for another attempt on T-shirts. Having acquired an address via the helpful yellow pages, the kids and I cruise up and down Wellington St trying to spot street numbers. Yeah, I know: exercise in futility. What the fuck are street numbers actually for? I don't know a single city in Australia that actually uses them except maybe once per block, just to taunt you and fuck with your head.

We finally tracked the address of the T-shirt place down. Except it wasn't a T-shirt place. It was a security firm. Evidently printing T-shirts is really not a lucrative field in Launceston.

Okay, so we're getting close to rehearsal time. Park the car near-ish. Take the kids out, walk around until we find some more food. (Kids need a lot of feeding. It's irritating, but unavoidable.) Finish the food, back to the car. Unload musical instruments. Kids into uniforms. Walk to the rehearsal hall. Funny... nobody's there. We're only ten minutes early.

Fine. I'll give the bastards eleven minutes, and no more. I'm tired. The kids are tired...

Nine minutes: someone shows up with keys.

Load boys into practice hall. Back to car for Younger Son's chin-rest, which he has dropped. Back to practice hall. Discuss uniforms with conductor: I've been all the fuck over Launceston looking for button-down white shirts in kiddy sizes six and nine, and I've found jack shit.

Have you tried Target's School Wear?

Yes, helpful conductor. I have tried Target's School Wear. And K-mart. And every rinkidink fucking clothing store within cooee of Launceston.

No -- Targett's School Wear!


Turns out there's an obscure schoolwear specialist a few blocks away. And they may well have the Elusive White Button-down Long-Sleeved Shirts.

Okay, fine. I grab the Mau-Mau, and we go for yet another lengthy walk around the CBD. And indeed, we locate the furshlugginer place but guess what? We've missed its opening hours by exactly one hour and three minutes.

Happy happy joy joy happy happy joy joy...

The Mau-Mau and I execute a $100 raid on a secondhand bookstore to fill in time. We refuel the Mighty Earth King. We put air in the tyres. We trundle around the CBD some more... poor little Mau-Mau has now been walked around the goddam city more times than either of us can comfortably recollect, and she's showing signs of wear...

And at last, the boys finish. We pack the instruments into the Mighty Earth King and fark off home, where in a flurry of action I build the fire, put away the luggage, set up the bath and prepare a nutritious dinner for all...

... they're watching an X-men cartoon now. We tried what was supposed to be a Thai chop-socky epic, but it turned out to be all sorts of political with an annoying amount of villager-shooting, which didn't interest any of us. So when this X-men cartoon finishes, it's bed for the munchkins.

And I can finally get to work. Or pass out. Either one works for me.

PS: here's a review of a rather excellent novella I recently read. It was a shitload of fun. Read the review, judge for yourself whether it's your cuppa tea.