Archive for January, 2003


Ian: I was thinking about Salome wanting humanely killed meat, and I had a brainwave.

Rachel: Here we go.

Ian: Abattoirs combined with petting zoos!

Rachel: We’ll see how that works out for you.

Ian: No, it’ll be brilliant. Imagine, seven-year-old boys wielding the air bolt.

Kat: And people wonder why I’m with this man.

Ian: Wave of the future, baby.

hepster love

One of my belated Christmas presents was season three of The Sopranos on DVD. That’s probably why I picked up this exchange between the hepsters at the next table.

Gleeful Hepster: Fuck, man! You’re dating Meadow.

Gloomy Hepster: I know.

Gleeful Hepster: What are you gonna do when her Dad says “Fuck you, Jewboy?”

Gloomy Hepster: She says she told him about me, and he said: “Oh.”

Gleeful Hepster: That does not sound good…

orstriya day

So we upheld our Australia Day tradition of a picnic in the Botanical Gardens. It’s usually Sydney, but this year we made do with Strybing Arboretum. We served Iced Vo Vos, and everyone was polite enough not to spit theirs out.

The other day our lesbian doppelgangers came into Atlas. They were sitting at the table behind us. The crypto-Rach was pissy because the bagels were all gone.

Crypto-Jeremy: How about a baguette?

C-R: You don’t even like baguettes.

C-J: It’s for you, dummy. You need to eat.

Leering heterosexual guy sitting at the next table: Masses of bagels at my place. My place is packed with bagels.


C-J: Let’s get you a baguette.

C-R (pissily): You mean I’ll have to stand in line all over again?

C-J (patiently): I’ll go with you.

Later a pretentious woman took the table next to us.

PW: My producer and I were using minimalist in its true sense, but my friend said I can’t use the term minimalist because there’s an actual musical genre called minimalism which my work sounds nothing like… though I have been compared to John Cage… Why do you say David Byrne? No, it’s interesting, because I am often compared to David Byrne… What I don’t understand about the music industry is why it rewards people who put themselves forward, at the expense of people who create art


Atlas is such a bountiful source of material that I sometimes suspect people of just winding me up. It’s a puzzler. Are these real pseuds, or are they only pretending?

bottle blonde

Claire is one-twelfth of one year old today. We celebrated with haircuts. Jeremy’s patriarch beard is now looking more kind of Boromir, and I’ve turned all Rutger-Hauer-in-Bladerunner!

yet another persona

Queen Victoria.

Claire’s paternal grandmother has taken over blind-adoration duties, and is performing admirably.

“I was up all night just thinking about her,” she said.

Well of course.

more personae

Mao Zedong, Fat Elvis (in her white jumpsuit) and The Squeaker Of The House. I keep telling her she shouldn’t squeak until squoken to, but kids today, what can you do?

Nice things keep happening. The guy who makes sculptures out of twist ties dropped by our table at Atlas yesterday to give us a little twist tie guy he’d made especially for Claire. Today I was chatting to a woman in the line at Cala, and she said “Is she always like this? Most babies cry! How did you get to be so blessed?” Beats me.

Claire was her usual pacific self at the march. We caught up with our fellow Concerned Parents, Jonathan, Tina, Paul and Lisa, but we didn’t see Jack, Salome, Dana, Shannon or Spencer, who were also there, along with uncounted tens of thousands of other right-minded folk. Joan Baez sang beautifully, Tom Ammiano was entertaining and a woman from the Arab Defense League annoyed both Jeremy and me by threatening a second Saladin for this new crusade. Also, it was all the white people’s fault, including the white people in Israel. More intifada! And here’s some atrocious poetry for good measure.

How I gnashed my teeth. I think she was unclear on the whole “peace” concept. Over to the man of the day, MLK: “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it… Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate…. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”

And: “If we are to have peace in the world, we must see that peace is not merely the absence of negative force; it is the presence of a positive force. True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”


The baby books list six states in which in infant might be: quiet alert, active sleep and so forth. To these I’ve added three more: Reclining Buddha, Mister Creosote and the Baron Harkonnen. As these probably suggest, Claire is still eating like it’s going out of style.

Today she’s wearing the rainbow tie-dyed onesie my mother sent over from Australia, because we’re taking her to her first anti-war march.

uncle arthur

My Uncle Arthur was buried today in Thetford, Norfolk, England. He died three days after Claire was born. I didn’t call and tell him about her, which I regret.

He grew up in The Buildings, a block of council flats off Tottenham Court Road in London. He told my mother he remembered a game he and his friends used to play as boys: climbing inside truck tyres and rolling through the alley and out into Tottenham Court Road, to the alarm of traffic and the delight of the players.

I first met him at Christmas 1993. I was a graduate student in Ireland, and I spent the holiday in Thetford. Uncle Arthur showed me the sights. Thetford has two of these: a statue of local boy Thomas Paine, and the location for the outdoor shots for Dad’s Army. We had a ball.

He was a kind, loving, gentle, decent man, an excellent husband to my difficult Auntie Ruth and a good father to my cousins James and Helene.

qui custodiet ipsos custodes?

Miss Claire has been At Home To Visitors for the last few days. It’s been great. Karen, Robert, Gayu, Tina, Steve, Parker and Salome have all stopped by to pay their respects. We never had this much entertainment when it was just us.

Quote of the week goes to Gayu. We were discussing booking Claire into pre-school, and how we really should have done it before she was born.

G: It’s the same in India. To get me into school, they had to send our watchman to stand in line overnight.

We all smile.

G: What?

Robert: Child of privilege.

G: Why?

Robert: Some of us didn’t have watchmen to stand in line for us.

G (wounded): It was a company watchman.

In homage to this and to the Jane Austen miniserieses that I have been devouring of late, J & I have renamed the rooms of our microscopic apartment. Up here’s the Library and the Master Chamber. Then you head through the Picture Gallery to the South Wing, with its Drawing Room and Banqueting Hall. (This is much funnier if you’ve actually tried to squeeze yourself into our house.)


Damn, I thought I was doing a reasonable job of keeping Yatima up to date, but the days just fly past. Claire has put on another pound and now weighs in at 8lb 3oz, putting her out of the featherweight class and well into the middleweight baby divisions. The more she packs on, the less like Gollum she looks and the more striking her resemblence to Churchill becomes. “We will fight them on the beaches.”

Party tricks: having mastered pooing-while-eating and stretching-while-yawning, she attempted an advanced manoeuver for Robert and Gayatri this evening: projectile-pooing-while-sneezing-during-a-nappy-change. My jeans were despoiled! The crowd roared!

Our very amiable pediatrician thinks Claire is very smart. I have two hypotheses here: either this means that Claire is very smart, or that our pediatrician can judge his audience to a nicety. Actually I just came up with a third hypothesis. You should always praise a smart girl for her looks and a pretty girl for her brains, so maybe he thinks Claire is beautiful.

How I dote. What a sap! What happened to me?

further adventures of an innocent abroad

Mum’s learning.

M: Ooh – there’s another thrift store – Out Of The Closet.

R: Heh. Yeah. It’s an AIDS charity.

M: I don’t care what it’s a charity for.

R: I just think it’s a funny name. You know, for an AIDS charity.

M (sagely): It’s probably intentional.

I too am learning how to communicate with my daughter.

R: Do you want me to feed you, change you or burp you?

C: Aah!

J: You might want to stay away from multiple choice questions for now.

very bad dream

I wake up with a start, and shake Jeremy. “What’s the date?”

He blinks.

“What month is it? What month is it?”

“It’s January,” he says.

“Oh, God,” I say, dissolving into tears. “Oh God oh God oh God.”

I’d dreamed that I’d lost my short-term memory. It was November, and I’d missed the first year of Claire’s life. Worse, I realized as Jeremy wearily explained things in my dream, the condition was incurable. I was going to forget again, and he was going to have to explain again, and again and again and again.

sin city

R: My stitches itch like buggery.

J: Buggery doesn’t itch.

R: It would if we tried it now.

I made it outside! Dolores Park has never been so beautiful. Fresh air! Trees! Wow! I also saw a Jack Russell humping a terrier, from the wrong end. I was on the phone to Tina at the time.

R: He’s humping its head! Oh, I suppose they’re having oral sex.

T: What can you expect in San Francisco?

R: Even the dogs are perverts.

Later Mum was reading one of the gay papers.

M: Look at this woman! What an extraordinary dress she’s wearing!


M: Oh, she’s a drag queen.

R: Yes, Mum.

M: I’m just an innocent English girl abroad.

R: You’re in San Francisco.

meme convergence

Two jokes we’ve had running. The first, from Ayun Halliday’s book The Big Rumpus, was an obstetrician describing the best possible patient – a woman with very little English, who just labored and gave birth – and the worst – “a white girl, with a birth plan and a CD of Pachelbel’s Canon.” The second was me watching the sun rise after Claire was born, feeling like the white wizard in The Two Towers: “Gandalf. Yes. That’s what they used to call me.”

Today memes converged.

R: I was Rachel the Grey. Now I’m Rachel the White.

J: Rachel the White Girl With Birth Plan and Pachelbel’s Canon.