Anzackered

For those of you who have been completely zipped up in a sleeping bag for the last week or so, last Saturday was ANZAC Day, the day that academics and bobble-headed breakfast TV broadcasters knit together in a breathless tussle for self-legitimisation.

Of course, we all know that the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli was folly – thousands were mindlessly slaughtered, buried in shallow graves or left to peel and rot in the chilly sunshine. It was a failure so tremendous that its repercussions are still felt to this day, provoking annual soul-searching about Australia’s grisly fascination with dogged failure.

In the spirit of ANZAC then, here’s my recipe for the eponymous biscuits.

– Start off with not quite enough butter. Put it in a bowl and feebly chop at it with a bread-knife. Then, add the dog ends of two other blocks. You’ll find these in the flip-up compartment of the fridge door.

– Explode a new bag of coconut. Put some of it into a bowl. Squirt some molasses that is clearly not golden syrup into the bowl with the butter and coconut. Add the remains of a bag of rolled oats, taking care to include the slightly dusty grit at the bottom of the bag. Each biscuit should leave you feeling a bit like you’ve french-kissed a vacuum cleaner.

– Substitute a bit too much baking soda for a bit too much baking powder. As all us wholesome mummies know, baking soda is just great for everything from stubborn bathroom tiles to yeast infections. And it’d be great in the fucking biscuits too. Next time.

– Add some brown sugar. A lot of brown sugar. Test for taste. You should be able to feel your pancreas giving you the finger. Add more sugar.

– Now, spoon mixture onto baking tray, placing blobs of dough just far enough apart that they will join up perfectly on baking. This will ensure that when you remove the biscuits (exactly one Octonaut operation after they should have come out of the oven) you will maximise the seamless ‘tar-seal’ effect.

– While still molten and pliable, distribute mixture down inside of left forearm.

– Serve on iPhone5 (serving suggestion).

Apple Thingos.

apple tartWhen it comes to life lessons, my Mum is a rich vein. I know for instance, that it’s important to shave your legs before a trip to hospital, just in case there’s nice doctor on duty. And, when I was younger, I often amazed my classmates and teachers alike with off-pat responses to hypothetical questions that might just crop up in the Miss Universe finals – (the key? Don’t be too specific, judges really like ‘open-ended thinking’).

But by far her most important contribution to my life* was the ability to make excellent pastry (goodbye, swimwear section).

Good pastry involves maximising the carrying capacity of flour with butter. According to Mum, it requires ‘cold hands and a warm heart’.

A devastatingly cold kitchen bearing straight into the teeth of the prevailing southerly doesn’t hurt either. Basically you want to rub as much butter into flour as you possibly can and then let the resulting dough sit in a cryogenic freezer for an half an hour, or on Mum’s bench until a penguin licks it.

Then roll out and fill it with your hopes and dreams (as long as they’re not a smaller pair of pants). Bake until golden. Then make a cup of tea and put your feet up (thanks, penguins!) and devour.

*This is not true, her contributions were many, varied and ongoing. Thanks Mum!

Self-publishing and Other Feeble Forms of Self-Abuse

There comes a day when you have to throw off your felted merkin and tell it like it is. Today is that day. Ladies and gentlemen, I have self-published a book. Oh, what’s that? You couldn’t give a fuck? Well I can’t blame you, I kind of feel that way myself. After all, the internet is a morass of poorly written, self- published drivel. I mean, ask yourself this; Was self-publishing invented by:

  1. A)  A marketing genius who recognised that the internet was simultaneously creating an entirely new sense of individualism and democratising the human desire to express it,

or,

  1. B) A marketing genius who identified a troubling dearth of erotic sci-fi penned by thick-thighed IT administrators, meatily sweating their way through consecutive paragraphs of clunky sex while sucking on cartons of Moove?

I think we can all agree it’s the latter. But, that’s not why I’m writing this post. I’m writing this post because I think we’ve forgotten what self-publishing SHOULD be about. For starters, self-publishing should be more than the sole means of emotional rejection for an entire cohort of entitled baby-boomers. And it should be more than just a platform for hairy-chinned shut-ins who’re keeping the tartan cat-hutch market on its feet. Self publishing is stuck in this rut because we’ve lost sight of its purpose. We keep clinging to the delusional belief that it is a short-cut to traditional publishing, a kind of egalitarian; ‘Become a famous author without leaving the comfort of your onesie’ scheme.

Because you won’t. Or, more rightly, you shouldn’t.

And that’s OK. Because for most people writing is just a hobby, a craft no different to any other. It’s an art-form, like painting or patchwork, where some participants are professionals, but most are amateurs. Many people of a certain age happily spend their days sewing poorly thought-out patchwork handbags or laboriously felting knee-length merkins that look as though they’ve been eaten once already. These are pieces of art created by amateurs. They are personal and individual and best appreciated by loved ones, preferably in-utero. At its widest their audience usually comprises local arts and crafts fairs and anyone with a backyard incinerator.

Importantly, through, these artists don’t look at their finished work and think; “Yes! This is the piece that will finally catapult me into the mainstream tie-dyed tea-cosy industry!” So why should writing be any different?

Last year I self-published short collection of essays simply for friends and family, and of course, anyone with a backyard incinerator. I wanted something they could read at the beach, rather than on a screen. And I wanted a project that was ‘finished’. Self-publishing ticked all these boxes. It was simply another part of my hobby.

So here’s my advice. Stop thinking of your mighty epistle 67 Shades of Puce as the next bestseller. Try instead to imagine it as a unique and personal work of art, perhaps with a hand-felted dust-jacket. And slip back into that onesie.

Morning Autumn

I don’t usually take my phone with me on my morning run – insert vaguely new-age sentiment about living a life that is not completely connected to technology here – but when I do, it looks a bit like this. Generally I aim to stumble to a semi-conscious halt around the time that the sun first breaks the horizon, which, at the moment is around 7am. At the moment the sand is often cooler than the water which means I feel little breaths of warm air as I run along the shoreline. Autumn. Beautiful.