It can get so hot out in the Australian bush, especially when you’re a fox. That’s why I like to make friends that can keep me cool. My latest friend is an old air conditioner that sticks out of a building. We chat a bit about the things that go on in his house, and as thanks for keeping him company, he gives me some of his cool air.
Just the other day, I came over while he was getting air conditioning repairs. Sydney weather can be brutal, but the breeze was so refreshing afterwards. It was definitely worth the three-hour journey, even if I did get burnt by the hot road along the way.
The other foxes tell me that I should just find a bush somewhere and sit in the shade. “It’s unnatural, using the technology of humans,” my dad says. “Son, there’s plenty of space in my burrow. You can come to my place if it’s too hot.” But the truth is, I really like hanging out with my air conditioning buddy. It’s like winter but the sun is out.
If only they would listen. My aircon friend was saying the other day that he wants to give the best cooling possible. He’s considering getting an air conditioning service from Sydney even though he just had repairs. He is very considerate. Who wouldn’t want a friend like that?
The rest of my kind, apparently. They’re just so stubborn. They have no idea that the way I’m living is so much better. I feel like that rat from Rat of Two-E that just wanted to cook. The other rats thought that there was nothing wrong with garbage, but he proved them all wrong, didn’t he? I’m going to be like that with foxes and air conditioning. They’ll come around. I just might have to make air conditioners portable and bring the cold air to them. They’ll love it.
Man, our last album was a total flop. It only hit platinum once, which is super disappointing. This is the lowest we’ve ever been as a band. After Buying and Selling, I thought we were on track to become the greatest band of all time. But only one million people bought There Are Lots of Blocked Drains in Melbourne. I suppose a plumbing concept album wasn’t such a great idea in hindsight.
This time, I turned back to my recent experiences for inspiration. The problem with Blocked Drains was that I made the whole thing up. I have no experience working as a plumber, whereas I had plenty of experience buying a new house. So when the band sat down to brainstorm this time around, the first thing I wrote on the board was “car repairs”, because my car was at the Mornington automotive repair shop. The rest of the band thought it was such a good idea that we ended our brainstorming session there. Well, Terry didn’t think it was as brilliant as the rest of us, so we kicked him out of the group. Let’s be honest, he was the real reason Blocked Drains sucked. So we’re on the lookout for a new drummer before we start recording Fixing Cars.
The protagonist of this concept album will be seeking the best auto repairs in Mornington, but his story will be told in reverse. So it will begin with a track titled The Drive Home, about how the repairs went smoothly. Walking Through Mornington and I’m Going to See a Movie While I Wait for the Mechanic are going to be solid tracks, and I can already predict they’ll be the popular singles.
Another reason Blocked Drains failed so badly was because of the length. It ended up being a few tracks shorter than Buying and Selling, which people didn’t like. Hence, we’re returning to our long concept album structure. Look out, because Fixing Cars is going to be bigger than anything before it, with fifty tracks. This time, I’m predicting it to go diamond.
I’ll tell you what I’d like…
I’d like a buyers advocate to do my shopping, not just bid on buildings. I can see a real need in the market for it. Unfortunately I don’t have the skills to fill that need, but I’m putting it out there so that someone else can. I’m petitioning for a subsection of specialist buyers advocates around Melbourne. Imagine, instead of having to go to the store with the list of everything you want, you can hire a buyers advocate to do it for you! This service would free up so much time, alleviate so many stresses and just genuinely work.
I guess this is almost exactly what buyers agents throughout Melbourne already do, albeit not for free. I could give my advocate a list of requirements for the home I aim to acquire, and then they could guide me through the entire process. I’ve always been wary of buying a home, just because it is such a big commitment. The fact that I even struggle with general shopping proves how difficult buying a home would be for me.
Unlike what I imagine a buyers advocate to be like, I am very unconfident and insecure in my decisions. I assume by employing an agent to act on my behalf, they will have unlimited access to every available home in Melbourne. That is perfect for me because they would do the work whilst I kick back and relax. As long as they have a sound understanding of my taste and can manage to push the boundaries, I will feel as if I’m in good hands.
Before I get ahead of myself though, I’m not actually looking to buy a house as of yet. I was just daydreaming about having a personal shopper. My idea is foolproof and I insist that someone reads this and makes it a reality. In the meantime, buyers advocates can do what they do best… dominating the property market. I’ll use their services one day.
Coming up with mascot ideas has never been my forte. How does one arrive at that conclusion, you ask? That’s a fair question, given the general dearth of invitations come up with mascot ideas that life seems to offer. Well, I work for a business that makes mascot costumes, with my job being to figure out how to construct the darned things. I’m not an ideas man; I’m an construction man.
It’s usually Sabrina who comes up with the concepts, and I just translate them into walking, talking, blank-eyed glory, but she’s on leave at the moment and we haven’t been able to find anyone to replace her. As it turns out, devising mascots is not a very common skill set. This has left us in a position where all of us costume makers have to chip in on the branding front.
Today we had to meet with a licensed re-seller of portable hyperbaric chambers. Melbourne folk know there’s not too much competition for this type of business, nor much in the way of ‘drop in’ traffic, so I don’t really get why they need a mascot. What’s it going to do? Stand on the roadside and promote the sales office to passers by, waving them in to check out second-hand medical equipment with highly specific applications?
The best I could come up with was Hyper Barry. He’s a cockatoo who can’t hide his excitement about hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Er… yeah. Don’t act like I didn’t tell you I was bad at this, not that I had a lot to work with. Sabrina would have crafted something appropriate and sophisticated, somehow weaving together the essence of the business and its niche market via a character that magically connects the dots. That’s not a skill you can just cultivate overnight.
Still, it looks Hyper Barry might be a go. The client barely batted an eyelid at it when I talked him through my proposal, so I guess he’s seen worse.
Our last album was an international success! As predicted, we hit triple platinum in no time. A concept album about conveyancing was just what the music industry was craving. Critics are calling it the album of the century.
We can’t rest on our success, though. In this business, you’ve got to keep moving, which means we’re already behind schedule. I’ve consulted the tea-leaves, looked into the crystal ball and read the tarot cards. Sewers are the next big thing. We’re already getting to work on it.
The name of the album will be There Are Lots of Blocked Drains in the Melbourne area, and it will feature the story of a brave plumber travelling through the many sewers of the city, restoring peace and proper drainage to its people. I’m planning 34 tracks on this one, so it will be a bit shorter than Buying and Selling. This one, unlike our first album, isn’t based on a true story. I was inspired by the hidden stories in the video game Super Maria Sisters, since the characters are always entering pipes and fighting monsters. That’s why I wrote a thirteen-minute track titled, Plumber vs the Melbourne Drain Repair Monster.
I feel really confident about this one. It will be hard to beat our previous success, but what could go wrong with hit songs like, I Think My Pipes Are Broken and Oh Plumber, Where Art Thou? The latter track switches point of view, to a lonely widow who has been waiting for the plumber to unclog her sink, but he’s too busy fighting monsters under the city. I know a lot of people who are sick of problems with their plumbing, and they just want a release through music. This is what they’ve been waiting for.
My ultimate dream is to have a book series written, movies produced, and a video game all based on this album. We were close to that with Buying and Selling, but unfortunately the deals just fell through. I guess you can’t have everything, even if your first album did hit triple platinum in a week.
– Robbie R
I tire of all of this guff. Such guff, I must endure. Oh, the guff of it all! I made the terrible mistake of sharing my dream at work, prior to which I made the mistake of hyping up my dream. I waited until everyone was back from their holidays, and in the meantime, I sent email spam to the whole office, telling them that my dream was going to be epic, a real crowd pleaser, suitable for all ages and with something for everyone. I drew up posters, I made crude trailers in Windows Movie Maker, I bought caramel corn and bottle of soft drink for everyone.
Then one lunchtime, I turned down the lights, everyone gathered round, and I told them my tale…of a local suburb. The time that the car mechanics in Bentleigh had a very unusual day.
I could already see a few frowns, just from the title, but I don’t know why. The trailers and posters made it very clear that auto electrical and automotive repairs were going to play a large role in the plot. I also got the gist that people thought the intro-slash-first act went on a little bit too long, and true, it’s a lengthy opening scene. I thought the imagery of me getting a car service on my large vermilion octopus with six wheels would be enough to keep interest while I chatted to the mechanic about Dutch foreign policy for half an hour. That’s half an hour of dream time, people.
Anyway, I did see interest pick up when we left the mechanic’s workshop and went on a tomb raiding adventure with the Queen and a Buckingham Palace Guard who had snakes for arms. Snake-armed guard used his snakes to swing across ravines and The Queen used her shiny scepter to reflect a shaft of light onto an ancient crest, opening a secret door that led to…the car servicing garage near Bentleigh! What a twist! The real treasure was brake repairs!
So anyway, I was pelted with bottles and caramel corn, and now there’s a blanket ban on sharing dreams. Some people just don’t understand art.
Why, in the name of all that’s good and nice, did I agree to wear this outfit? I guess it was to see the children’s faces light up, or something to that effect. Little did I realise that a style of suit designed to be worn in Lapland in winter, recreated in cheap synthetic, should never be worn on a baking hot summer’s day in Australia. It sounds obvious in retrospect, but someone could’ve given me a heads up.
Anyway, here I am, sitting in the ute and waiting for the carols to finish so I can jump out, do the thing, and get out of this get-up. I’ve had a bit of time to suss out the effect in the rear-view mirror, and I’ve got to say, it’s not a very convincing look. The beard is too white, for starters – it needs a bit of grey in it – and it looks like it’s just been unpacked from a plastic satchel that’s been squashed under a pile of boxes at a costume shop for months.
Oh well. I’m watching a guy over the road yelling down his phone – something to do with a failed roadworthy certificate inspection. Northcote sure has its share of angry city slickers, doesn’t it? Mate, just because your car’s a BMW doesn’t mean it’s automatically considered roadworthy, and you’re dreaming if you think otherwise. I feel a bit bad for this bloke, though – clearly, he just wants to get home to a cup of tea and sit down.
If I was really Santa, I could help him out with a magic car service that brings everything up to scratch. That’s how it works, right? Santa’s magic, so he can make anything, even if it’s unrealistic… or am I overestimating his supposed capabilities? Actually, no – I’m playing the role of Santa, so I get to decide if he can magically fix your lemon of a car for you. I also get to decide that my beard looks totally real and that I’m not experiencing heatstroke, because I’m magic. That’s what it’s all about.
I just popped around to my elderly neighbour’s house, as her power bill had been delivered to my mailbox. After a lengthy chat about the rising price of gift wrap and how they (the powers that be, one assumes) have gone and changed the texture of curling ribbon, I was sent forth on a mission to pick up some supplies from the garden centre.
While I’m happy to do this, I’m a bit apprehensive about it. Bessie can be quite fiery when she wants to be, and I wouldn’t know a bay tree from a bale of hay if it tap danced across the garden fence. I guess I’m concerned that I’ll mess up her order, and then she’ll….what? Tell me off, perhaps while brandishing her walking stick at me?
Or maybe it’s that I don’t want her to know that I don’t know squat about plants. You see, Bessie has somehow formed the idea that I have a green thumb, and my ego wants her to retain that notion. I suppose she thinks that because I have a beautiful garden, but in actual fact I rely on a professional gardener for things like plant selection, design and planting, as well as maintenance. I’ll occasionally crack out some secateurs and have a bit of a snip, but I don’t really have any idea what I’m doing.
Anyway, Bessie must have seen me at it a few times, and failed to notice the regular comings and goings of gardeners to my property. Now she thinks I’m an expert horticulturist, and has entrusted me with picking up some rare begonia tubers. She said she wants me to do it because I know my stuff (according to her), and last year her daughter got her the worst batch she’d ever seen.
Of course, I could have just told her that I don’t know begonias, or plants for that matter. But alas, I went along with it, and now I’m knee-deep in deceit.
New year, new shoes: that’s always been my motto. I guess it was drummed into me in early childhood via the ritual of shopping for new school shoes, and it seems to have stuck. I simply can’t go into February without a new pair of toe-tappers. What, you don’t call your shoes toe-tappers? Get with the program.
School shoe shopping, for me, always coincided with getting a new pair of heel supports to help correct my mildly askew tootsies. It may surprise you to hear that it’s actually quite exciting to go for a children’s orthotics fitting. Cheltenham used to have a podiatry clinic that specialised in kids’ foot conditions, and I’d always get a jelly bean after my feet had been measured up. That was enough of an incentive for me to consider the whole exercise a fun outing. It’s possible that it made me feel special, having slightly weird feet.
Anyway, making the most of these interventions meant having well-fitting shoes, and when you’re a kid that essentially means getting new shoes every year. According to that Cheltenham podiatrist, this was the most important thing that could be done to correct my foot posture, more so than the orthotics themselves.
It makes sense, then, that I absorbed the idea that annual shoe shopping is of the essence. As my feet tend to stay the same size from year to year and I no longer have a foot issue to correct, it’s not quite so applicable these days, yet I continue to behave as though my foot health depends on it.
What can I say? Maybe I just like having new shoes – the factory-fresh smell as you open the box, the point-of-no-return moment when you take them outside for the first time, the slight awkwardness of the fit for the first few days of wear. Of course, there’s also the excitement of ‘new year shoe shopping’. That in itself is worth the price of admission.
Even though I’m immortal, I never thought I’d be operating a band of raiders in the Australian outback. Yet here we are, driving a fleet of cars around Queensland. From town to town we travel, just like we did in the old days when we used boats. It’s just as exciting, just as dangerous. Police cars have replaced navy ships, but the chases are still the best part of the job. We’ve just bought two new vehicles, and had a handful of people join the crew. Finally, we’ve got some four-wheel drives, letting us get to the harder spots and put our treasure there. It’s nice being on the land as well, because we’ve got maps on our phones, and can find buried treasure ourselves through the Geographical Caching Service. It’s a lot more convenient.
At the moment we’re taking stock, getting our fleet fixed up at a 4×4 mechanic. The break is a much-needed one because we ran out of sunscreen a few days ago, and the crew is starting to get a bit burnt. That’s right, although we found the secret to immortality hundreds of years ago, we can still get sunburnt. While everyone is resting up, I’m getting to know the area. Toowoomba is a nice place, about an hour and a half out of Brisbane, where our usual hideout is. We’re planning on heading back into the middle of the country, though. I’m not sure when we’ll go back to our base. We’re all having a lot of fun out here.
The best mechanic in Toowoomba thinks we should never go back. He says it’s better out this way, more liberating away from the busy roads of the big city. I’m starting to agree with him. Regional cities are simple, but they have everything you need. I think we could find a good hideout here, and get the rest of the crew out this way. We’ll have to have a team meeting about it.
– Cap’n Large