Saturday, September 7, 2013

Mr Know-It-All

Yes, the title to this is ironic. I know very little about politics. That being said, I feel the need to get something off my chest. As I am not an Australian Citizen, people may think that I have no right to have an opinion on Australian politics, but I have had to endure weeks of bilge inflicted upon me as a resident of the country, so here's my opinion (for what it's worth).

I simply don't understand why anyone would vote for Tony Abbott. As far as I can tell, voting for him is akin to voting for Pauline Hanson. Those who say "Well, I'm voting for him because I am sick of the Labor Government!" need to realise that this is like saying "I'm going to eat this rat-poison infused dog turd because my recent diet hasn't worked!"

The man has proven himself to be foolish, archaic, homophobic, sexist and an all-round dodgy player. What really upsets me is that I know a handful of people who are quite content to support this mad bastard and I take it too personally because a vote for him is like saying that you have no care for your fellow citizens; you don't think gay men and women are equal to you - that they are second class citizens. A vote for Tony is a vote for prejudice and bigotry. Thanks, twats.

Yeah, yeah... I know a lot of politics is also about money, but nothing I have seen proves that the Australian economy is going to improve. And why are people always swayed by their pockets rather than their hearts or brains? So many political ads this year have been saying "We'll give you $XXXX if we're in power!" - Hmm, bribery... good start. It's maddening to think that so many thick shits will be blinded by this shiny waving golden ticket. YES, economy is important, but there are so many quick-fix answers which seem to persuade the short-sighted. I have said similar about the way businesses work these days - instead of striving to be better and succeed that way, they work to grow the cheapest possible way. I can think of a few gardening and/or architectural analogies about the futility of such ventures, but I think you can see where I am going. Stop me... I am digressing...

I can see some people reading this shaking their heads and thinking 'Yeah, but...' and wanting to slap me. This is why I tend not to discuss politics.

What I would love to see is a Government that puts the rights of people and the community first; a Government that has a heart.

I should stick to writing about trivial nonsense.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Tick Tock

A rare political (but brief) rant from Ben:

Later this year, there will be another election.

Australia considers itself a very forward-thinking country.

But how can democracy truly work when residents have to choose the lesser of two evils? When both leaders of the two leading parties STILL consider certain groups to be second-class citizens AND give the old "thumbs up" to the religious community to continue to discriminate against their fellow man, there is definitely something amiss.

I would love to say to politicians four simple words:

"You could be amazing."

I rarely spout out about political stuff as I am shockingly ignorant when it comes to the finer detail, so forgive me.

Ben's next post: something about kittens.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sprechen Sie Mit Mir*

A good friend of mine wanted to make a concerted effort this year to learn German (we shall call my friend 'D' as he's a bit Internet-shy, bless him - temptation almost makes me want to refer to him as 'Cynthia', but I am simply not that cruel). As it is often better for one's scholarly devotion to be accompanied by a fellow student, I said I'd join him in his venture.

Some people have asked me why I want to learn German and, to be honest, I don't really have a perfectly good reason; but why the hell not, eh?

After all, I do like German cinema, bratwurst, stollen and Moritz Bleibtreu... and although Hitler was an absolute ****, I cannot help but develop crushes on tall, blonde blue-eyed men.

So, armed with our Hugo CDs and guides, we promised each other (D and I) that we would do some 'homework' over the weekend and meet up this week to go through the first chapter together.

Why on Earth does the man on the CD sound slightly Indian?

I thought that I should make an effort for our first night's lesson, so I decided to cook something German for dinner. Gute Idee!

Thank heaven for Google!

I initially searched for German recipes online and came across many mouth-watering delights, but I was very conscious of my own personal "battle of the bulge", so I started again and typed in the three words HEALTHY GERMAN RECIPES.

Well! You can imagine my shock when I found what no-one else on Earth has ever found before... the END of the Internet!

There were no search results, just the following message...

With deep fear of falling off the edge of the Internet, I retraced my steps and played it safe.

I ended up making a German potato salad with onions, bacon & cider vinegar which I served warm alongside some pork schnitzels with a seasoned sour cream sauce over the top. A delicious way to begin the evening, don't you think?

Note that alongside the German guides, there is also a German edition of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, a gift from my friend Chris. I hope "D" didn't think there was a hidden message in this...

The meal went down well, much to my relief, and then the learning could begin.

We sat listening to the first lesson on the CD trying to repeat the various sounds and practised saying the German alphabet over and over.

I think the evening was a great success. We both got the hang of the German alphabet really quickly (so much so, that I found myself reciting it in the old familiar 'Alphabet song' - UK version) and we both get quite a grasp on the different vowel sounds. Admittedly, my ear is not quite as sharp as others, so some sounded the same, but I will learn over time.

If I didn't have someone to do this with, I doubt I would have the discipline to do it on my own. We'll see how the course progresses.

I doubt I will be able to come up with a delicious German meal every week to accompany our endeavours, but I certainly look forward to grasping the language to a point that I can watch Das Experiment with the subtitles off.

* 'Talk To Me' in German! Clever, eh? (Well, only if you CARE about me using songs by Beverley Craven as blog titles...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fun, Fun, Fun

As I approach this latest blog entry, I am debating heavily as to the structure. I feel as if a non-linear form will make more sense. So, for the time-being, let's pretend I am David Lynch.

Friday morning was the last day I took my anti-depressants. Part of me feels the need to lie and say "I ran out and have to get a new prescription." but as I am a terrible liar (you'll notice me flush, my voice go up two octaves and my toes turn green - the latter only when I am parading barefoot) I find that the truth is easier to reveal despite the recriminations that are heaped upon me immediately afterward. Yes, I cannot deny it; I wanted to come off them.

I know everyone says that you cannot go 'Cold Turkey' with these things (what does that mean, anyway? May I have some hot mash and picked beetroot on the side?) but that's why I planned to do it just before a long weekend. If anything dramatic happened, such as me running berserk around Docklands waving two pork pies and a copy of 'Lady Chatterley's Lover', then I would have enough time to recover. What I wasn't prepared for was the nature of the symptoms. It certainly didn't involve semi-erotic literature or pastry covered snacks with jelly linings.

This weekend, I have experienced the following:

* Vertigo

* Diarrhoea

* Dermal Itchiness

* Brain Shudders

* The feeling similar to having drunk 18 tequilas and a pint of Red Bull.

Not only did I endure these physical symptoms, but I also had dreams bordering on the lunatic. There was a full moon this weekend, but I see that as a mere coincidence. My dreams were long epics attached to more epics followed by further epics; all with seemingly decent story-lines, albeit laced with surreal plot twists and the occasional Non Sequitur juxtaposed with random sexual imagery. (See why I am thinking "Lynch"?)

Anyway, with all this in mind, I have made an appointment to see my (beautiful) doctor tomorrow afternoon.

(I wish...)

Now... let's jump back a step or two and see why I wanted to come off the anti-depressants...

Firstly, there was the number one issue. I didn't actually feel that different to when I began the course way back in August.

Secondly, I was developing some horrible side-effects!

* Unreasonable Sweatiness

* Decreased Libido (not that that should be a huge issue *sulks*)

* Tremendous Weight Gain

* Extreme Tiredness BUT... with:

* Insomnia to boot.

Aren't anti-depressants supposed to make you feel better? I had to buy NEW CLOTHES for God's sake! I am not a woman. Nor am I a particularly good homosexual. I don't LIKE buying clothes. The one thing more boring and awkward than buying clothes is going shoe shopping with a woman!

"Please, please don't write in saying that's sexist... it's not." (Thank you Alan Partridge!)

The only clothes I ever like to buy are retro 1940s style suits with two-tone shoes and snazzy braces. Not exactly the formal wear for a rotund mutant walrus whose pit-stains could put out bush fires.

Before I go on, let's step back again to discover why I was on anti-depressants in the first place:

* I was living in Brooklyn, Victoria. Imagine where Satan would go to commit suicide.

* Low self-esteem

* Lack of self-worth

* Lack of decent finances

* Hatred of my physical form

Now, with those in mind, can anyone see how the side-effects of the pills would make me feel any way better?

NO! I thought not. If my body becomes more hideous and I have to spend money on clothes in order to go out in public, then I am not exactly going to be a happy little bunny!

If you have managed to hack your way through the jungle of tirades, lists and garbled analogies to this point, I congratulate you. I expect at this juncture, you would like a conclusion! Well, hold onto your perky bobble-hats, my friends, for here it comes...

I don't think medication is for me. (Why can I hear raucous laughter?)

What I need is good friends, a bit more exercise and a couple of million dollars. That's all!! Not too much to ask, right?

I shall ask my doctor about all that tomorrow.

If not, I'll settle for a hug

So, that's my story. Opening myself up and putting my heart on my sleeve. It's what I'm good at.

Some people don't like me sharing in this bloggy manner, but I find it deeply therapeutic. I guess it's the theatrical side of me acting as my defence mechanism.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Afraid of Letting Go

This morning at work we received a notification from our HR department (I beg your pardon... "The People Team". Yes, seriously...) regarding a certain health and safety issue. It read:

After conducting an audit it is concerning to note that only a third of employees are holding onto the handrail when walking up and down the stairs. This is to ensure your own safety and the safety of others in the building. Please be reminded that all employees when walking up and down the stairs must hold the handrail. If you are unable to hold the handrail please use the lift.

My first reaction was "What the Fuck?" and then a feeling of despair crept across my mind. Then, once I shook off the depression, I became a little bit angry due to the whole 'conducting an audit' bit. Seriously? Has someone been watching our every move? Friends may have heard me say it before, but I like to say "The devil makes work for idle hands... so he created HR."

(I should point out that the people within our HR team are actually quite lovely - I am criticising the world in which we live, not the individuals...)

Going through the emotions, I eventually arrived at incredulity and amusement. I spent the morning clinging on to things melodramatically, cheering when I arrived at the bottom of the stairs unharmed and then sending amusing pictures of people falling down stairs by email to my friends and colleagues.

Maybe they should supply us with grappling hooks and harnesses.

I never want to be the person who writes on the comments section for online newspapers with cries of "Political correctness gone mad!" or "Nanny state!", but I do worry... I worry that the human race has become so obsessed with pseudo-precious legalities, molly-coddling the over-sensitive and protecting the morons. It makes me think of one of Edina Monsoon's rants:

"...we're not all stupid! We don't all need nurse-maiding. I mean, why not just have a Stupidity Tax? Just tax the stupid people!"

Although Edina is an absurd comic caricature, she makes a bloody fine point.

Just this last week there was an article in the news about a man who was told to change his T-shirt on an aeroplane because it was worrying other passengers. It read the immortal line:

"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die."

IF this poor chap WAS a terrorist, I doubt he'd be advertising it on his T-shirt.

The media is incredibly guilty of creating this panic-striken society with its sensationalist headlines and fear-mongering articles - all for the purpose of ratings or sales. We've all been witness to those current affair shows which try to make us believe that everybody else is out to get us. Every man in the park is a paedophile. Every foreigner is a crook. Every teenager is a thug.

Oh, I seem to be digressing again! Sorry about that.

To summarise: Dear world, please stop patronising us. We're not uncoordinated, gullible morons. Thanks.

Footnote. To cover my OWN backside, I ought to put some sort of disclaimer saying "These are the thoughts, rants and mutterings of Ben Ripley and are not shared by this, that or the other, waffle, waffle, waffle." Oh, get a grip, people!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


So, this is what 2013 looks like? Fancy.

Yesterday, I wrote my blog summing up the previous year (as I have fallen into the habit of doing so, ever since I started this jolly little blogventure) and it is fair to say that there was a lot of grumbling and moaning. This post has more of a positive leaning. start as we mean to go on, right? "What-o!" and "Chin up!" etc.

Let's look towards a new year of possibilities, changes and experiences...

#1. I hope Fizzgig gets better soon. She did turn twelve a few months ago, so she is no spring chicken (or spring cat) but I do worry about her compulsive licking. It has been nice spending a lot of quality time with her over the past week, but I worry that when I return to work full time, she may become distressed again.

#2. I hope something good happens for me financially during the next year. Sure, a lottery win would be just perfect right now, but I wouldn't say no to a job with better pay. Not the easiest thing to obtain in these current economical climates, but I can try to keep an eye out for something.

#3. I hope I can lose this bloomin' weight. As I live so close to work, I no longer walk for an hour and a half there and back each day - unless I took the really LONG way around. The walks I used to do between balaclava and Camberwell certainly helped me to shed the kilos previously. I am useless with gyms as I am so self-conscious and paranoid that I am terrified that people are watching and judging whilst thinking "That's right, keep jogging, fatty!". I will try to eat less, drink less and walk more. I feel gross at the moment.

#4. I hope I can eventually find love. I have been single for eight years and I know I am not Quasimodo's uglier twin brother, so I don't quite know why I continually fail to attract the right gentlemen - or even the wrong ones for that matter. I am deeply flawed, but I expect there is somebody out there who is astonishingly tolerant and caring (and hopefully look like Ryan Kwanten, Joe Manganiello, Philip Olivier, Lee Pace or Danny Bhoy.)

#5. I hope I have a great time when Mum comes out to visit. (I know I will, I just thought I'd throw it in here!)

#6. I hope I can somehow manage to get back to England at the end of the year for my brother's wedding!

#7. I hope my friends have a much less stressful time than last year. It seems like 2012 was behaving like a frustrated middle child and seeking attention by kicking and screaming.

There. That's a fair bit of hope. Bring it on, 2013!

P.S. Having written a number of posts using Kirsty MacColl song titles and then Swing Out Sister song titles, I am now moving on to Beverley Craven song titles.