October 2007

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Dramatiques

You may have noticed (all two of you) that I have been missing for a while from these pages, after the rather dramatic declaration that I was collapsing for no reason and had spent the night in hospital.

Well, look, I'm a dramatist. It's what I do.

It is true that I've spent the past week or so falling over, stumbling sideways into walls, breaking glasses, dropping things almost constantly, and swooning like a drunk, legally blind, seasick toddler. But that's just how I roll. The doctors think I have a "mystery virus", which should come as no surprise to anybody who knows me, since if I get sick, I really do make the most of it (see "dramatist", above). It is also apparently what doctors say when they don't know what the hell's wrong with you. When lawyers don't know what to do, they delay the case. Which is why...

In case I do not have a virus, the doctors have recommended that I wear a heart monitor for the day. As a result, I currently look like a rather relaxed individual with a bomb strapped to my chest. The heart monitor traces my heartbeats, so I have been instructed to do all the ordinary things I would do in a day. I am therefore wondering whether the heartbeats increase when I watch "cockatoo dancing to Justin Timberlake" on youtube, or when I receive alarming emails from Rita about how much work I have to do by Friday. I have to keep a journal of any unusual activities which might raise my heart beat, so I'm wondering if "going for a walk" is more important than "swearing at commercial radio". It strikes me, from listening to radio for an hour this arvo while I was walking around trying to make myself faint so that the heart monitor could record my heart beats as I did so, that commercial radio is (as my grandfather would say) chewing gum for the mind. Every now and then (amongst the commercials) there is a news break, which starts off with a featured commercial land then launches into thunderous music followed by a chirpy pre-pubescent lady on crack singing, "News Britney might be getting access to her kids and a soldier returns to Australia a hero. A little heavy on the ring-road, Monash chokas city-bound and it's eighteen degrees in Cheltenham".

Why have news breaks?

Honestly.

Anyway, as you can see, I've had a bit of time to think about these things and it seems to me that one should wear a heart monitor all the time, in order to know what to avoid. There are several people I am very glad I didn't run across in the street, for instance. And I'm really quite glad I didn't go and see Saw III.

Hoping this finds you well, and thanks for your concern. For those of you who didn't express concern, get yourselves a heart monitor and SEE IF YOURS IS WORKING AT ALL etc.

PS I just got "trick or treated". In Australia. By Australian children dressed in Disney costumes no doubt made in China.

I'm officially old and grumpy. That's probably what the heart monitor print-out will say. "You're old and grumpy. Get over it".

Swooning

Lately, I have been swooning. In the real sense of the word. I fainted. Twice in as many days.

Never having fainted in my life before, and in the absence of having just met Johnny Depp or being told by Mister Darcy that he ardently admires me, I decided this was a habit in need of further investigation.

So I went to a Victorian public hospital. Wow.

Turns out, there's a nursing dispute. Turns out, Victorian nurses are paid less than any other nurses in the country. Significantly. Which is no wonder. They barely do anything to help the community. Check it out, here are some edited highlights of what went down during the thirteen hours I was in emergency at the hospital:

1. Two hallucinating, violent, screaming, presumably ice-affected patients had to be subdued. Their abusive, terrifying screams could be heard throughout the corridors. The staff looked exhausted.

2. An elderly man with renal failure and a tumour sat alone waiting until his tummy was empty enough for further tests. He was looked after by a nurse who had to excuse himself several times because nobody else was available to resuscitate other patients. Despite this, he and the old man had a few in-jokes by the end of the night and I felt less bad for him being there alone.

3. A woman who had chased her attacker down a dark alleyway was being followed everywhere by two policewomen who asked questions about what kind of needle her attacker used to stab her with. The woman was worried, shaking, and also possibly a little bit stoned. When describing chasing the man down the street, she got the giggles. My boyfriend is going to think I'm such an idiot, she said.

4. A student whose mother had flown over from China to support her during her exams was desperate for something for her tonsilitis. She was already on antibiotics. It needs to go away, she explained, because of my exams. She had waited for nine hours to see a doctor. She was so stressed she couldn't sit down.

5. A guy had fallen up the stairs with a broken leg in a cast. He described it as excruciatingly painful. The male nurse had to shave him in order to access the leg. It was embarrassing, so the nurse offered to shave a smiley face and the patient said he'd probably prefer Batman. The nurse had to rush off to find a heart monitor, but he agreed that the patient was definitely a batman kind of guy.

6. A woman, disembarking a tram, had broken her foot. Her friend, who there to support her and who was studying law, read about the Nuremberg trials in the waiting room. A woman with kidney problems groaned. Nuremberg "puts things in perspective", said the law girl, unconvincingly.

7. At almost six in the morning, a girl who has been moaning in pain has to face up to a needle. The nurse gets her to relax. Genuinely terrified, she begs him not to inject her. He talks her down. She relaxes. She feels better. He changes shifts, informing the next nurse of every single detail of the patients in their care.

8. Back in the waiting room, when I was looking worse, the triage nurse brought me a glass of milk and a pain killer and tucked my hair behind my ear. She apologised for the wait and told me how far up the queue I was. She was verbally abused by several people. She was wearing a badge saying Fund Nursing Properly.

Today, after sleeping off the night I had without sleep the night before, I wrote a letter to my local member, the health minister, and the Premier. Victorian nurses are the lowest paid in the country. The nurse I mention here has a three year postgrad degree and is paid less than a first year nurse in NSW who has never been in a hospital. Without proper ratios and incentives for nurses, hospitals will have to run like the one I was at the other night - in total lock-down, no ambulances allowed in, with people being treated in chairs, in areas not designated for treatment.

People who are sick are desperate, sometimes angry, sometimes terrified, sometimes weeping, sometimes violent. Nurses are doing real work with real consequences and from my brief window into the system today, they're doing it bloody well.

Of course, if I had the money or the inclination, I could have paid a whole lot of money and gone to a private hospital, where I would have been out in mere hours, rather than an entire night. Because that makes sense.

If you care, go here.

If you work at St Vincent's, thank you.

Fake deadlines

I know I've said it before, but there's nothing like a deadline.

Fake deadlines, real deadlines, as long as there's someone you're letting down if you don't make it, or as long as there's a definite end point beyond which you can't continue, it will work.

Par example, each day I know I have to get out of the library at a certain time. When the announcement comes over the loudspeaker saying that we need to get out because they're closing, I know there's half an hour left. I reckon my best work is thanks to that guy. If that guy could make threatening announcements all day, I'd be as prolific as Bryce Courtney. And possibly as unrelaxed.

Another very real deadline: the AC power on my laptop isn't working for some reason. I have forty minutes left before it goes to sleep.

So, you'll have to excuse me while I write a novel. A short one.

Fridays

Here's a tip from years of nerdy library attendance: if you want to have a really productive day in the library, go in on a Friday. For some reason, which I'm sure someone somewhere has figured out, libraries are almost completely deserted on Fridays. You could fire a cannon through the main room and you wouldn't so much as graze anyone on the elbow.

Other days, it's stacks on, everyone fighting for a seat, hundreds of people rushing about with their mobile phones, talking to their friends, dropping things, crossly standing in the "15 minute" internet queue (it's never fifteen minutes) and the old favourite: a hilarious ringtone chimes ostentatiously, followed by a fountain of guffaws.

I suppose it's the students. When I was a student, Friday was like the weekend. You spent most of it intending to get your essay done and ended up going to the movies or bumping into someone from your politics tute sitting in the sun with a beer. Several times I went to the wrong party in a street in Carlton and ended up having a lovely time with an entirely different group of people, some of whom I even recognised from uni. I always yearned, back in those days, for weekends without the essay guilt. I yearned for a five day a week, nine to five, ordinary, normal job. Possibly because I knew I would never have one.

Of course, now, I have The Guilt just as much as I used to, only without the satisfaction of being graded for the work I hand in, and without the student elections and the cheap Indian food after six in the evening.

So here I am on a Friday again, in a library, with a deadline hanging over my head and a cafe/bar outside where I bump into people I did politics tutes with. Honestly. Yesterday, I bumped into the friend from school with whom I first started a theatre company at Melbourne University. I remember the two of us filling out the forms, writing the dates of the play in our diary and thinking, "Well, we did it - what next?"

She's a writer now. She's been doing her PhD. The deadline's hanging over her and she really should be getting it finished, she said, as a friend sidled up to her and ordered them both a coffee.

I'd already had mine, so I had to go back inside and fight for a seat in the library.

I have always thought there is a word missing in the English language. I don't know if there's a word for it in other languages or not, but I feel there should be a word that describes the sudden sensation or recognition that a lot of time has passed and many things have happened but CONVERSELY AND SIMULTANEOUSLY that not a lot has changed and time feels compacted - as if we were just here and we left for a moment because one of us needed a drink and then when we came back, eight years had passed.

Perhaps I haven't expressed that properly, but the feeling of time having passed both slowly and quickly is a sensation I have quite often as I get older, particularly as I go through all my old routines, such as sitting in a library after a coffee with a friend and trying to refocus on what "really" matters.

The Best Laid Plans etc

The problem with having a regime (which I currently do) that attempts in some way to emulate those infuriatingly prolific writers who get up early in the morning, run a couple of hundred ks, go to the market where they know everyone's first name, do the gardening, visit the infirm and then return to their desks by seven with a fresh page and clear mind... is that SOME THINGS CAN'T HAPPEN.

You can't:

- expect not to forget your keys when you are busy packing a pre-made lunch into your bag, putting the washing on, and saying thanks and farewell to the German man in your shower (fixing the tiles). (Fixing the tiles is not a euphemism).

- expect to be able to read or watch films or see your friends. Ever. Several of mine are not speaking to me, which is a shame but does cut down on the list of people I need to get back to about things.

- avoid far ranging and un-premediated fits of white hot fury in relation to very small things such as where something is and why it isn't where you thought it might be, drivers who don't indicate, or indeed anything at all for instance air. Today, I stopped riding my bicycle in the middle of the street in order to shout at a small particle of a leaf which had blown into my eye.

This had better be a good script I'm writing, I tell you what.

PS. And I bought Alan Bennett's new book and everything. And it looks lovely. And it feels lovely in your hands. And then you fall asleep and wake up at 7am with a German man in your loungeroom asking if he can take his tools upstairs. Take them anywhere you like, you say through your explosion of slept-on hair. You're not Alan Bennett, so why should I mind?

Day Eight of Operation Get Up In The Morning Like A Normal Person

It's not going well.

Getting up in the morning like a normal person is not going well.

Yesterday, I arose at seven in the morning, had a coffee down the road, rode my bicycle into the city, lay in the sun while reading in preparation and waiting for the library to open, went into the library, and promptly failed to have an idea.

For an entire day.

Not one, solitary idea.

Or, not a good one, at least.

I worked hard, don't get me wrong, but to ABSOLUTELY NO AVAIL.

If I was my boss, I'd fire myself.

Hang on...

Dem Boids

Today I am writing in the library again after another early morning start (in other words I arose at seven because there was a bloke coming to fix our shower). The early morning starts have been excellent for maximising the usefulness of my mornings, but have completely shattered my ability to function as a human being beyond lunch time.

I plod on, however, with weary eyes and a growing irritation at the world around me. I actually reprimanded a bloke in the library today (to be fair to me he was a total chump - speaking on the phone in the library at the top of your voice after receiving a call on a stupidly ring-toned phone is NOT okay just because you are hovering several metres away from the silent reading area. This is not how sound works. I am not a sound engineer but I have ascertained this fact through years of first hand research - and I happen to know that attempting to deny this fact makes you a giant chump).

On days like today, in order to wake myself up, I go outside to enjoy the sun on the lawn outside the library while I have a coffee or lunch. Outside this library, there is a proud bronze statue. For some time now, I have wondered about the spikes they put on the tops of statues these days in order to ward off the birds - have you seen them? - thin, mean little skewers designed to prevent birds from resting and covering the bronze head and shoulders of the anointed persona in the lurid white birdpoo-wigs all statues used to wear when I was a kid. Today, at lunch time, this suddenly appeared to me to be richly bizarre. To want a statue commemorating a long-gone hero, to desire to elevate him (or, if the statute is mythical, her) to a grand scale... even this desire seems pathetic. But do human beings then want to strip their favourite idol of all dignity by sticking spikes in his head, lest nature overpower us once again by crapping on what we consider to be life's significant leaders?

And how do the birds know not to go there? Have some of them been skewered and others of them heard about it? Or do they just see the spike and avoid the area? In some countries, statues secretly electrocute offending birds. Cleanest statues in the world, most fuzzy looking natural aviators. At least spikes give them a bit of a heads-up.

All in all, a lonely day spent with chumps and seagulls, but an educational one nonetheless. I've emerged with an anti-statue stance and I've come out (yet again) as being extremely anti-chump.

Next Generation

Now that Standing There Productions is in the business of developing children's television scripts and trying to turn them into children's television SHOWS, I have been studiously watching:

Degrassi Junior High
Round The Twist
Press Gang
and whatever else I can find on the telly when I'm pottering around doing something else.

Hence I was idly wondering today about the Degrassi legacy. How long did they milk that show for? How many different Degrassi schools were there? How many actors found their careers revived after the first Degrassi in order to launch the next generation?

The answer to most of those questions is: heaps.

Joey Jeremiah, the pipsqueak bully with the skateboard from Degrassi Junior High, comes back as AN ADULT in Degrassi The Next Generation. Check him out here and at his very Joey-friendly website (Joey would surely approve of "patmeup.com") here. Apparently, Adult Joey has an on-again, off-again relationship with Adult Caitlin. Also starring in Degrassi Next Generation are Snake and Spike, who are (I do believe) married. Degrassi: Next Generation is definitely my next DVD purchase, and it's even work related!

What seems disappointing, from looking at the photographs of Degrassi: Next Generation, is that it LOOKS like other TV shows. Everyone's a hottie. Nobody's dowdy or fat or squinty or pimply. Nobody hunches. Nobody even has outrageous hair, worn with aplomb in the original series by Spike, the likes of whom I had never seen roaming my school, but I certainly wouldn't have minded if she did. It's a shame everybody looks the same in Next Generation, since the utopia of Degrassi really was a lovely place to imagine. Where everyone was normal, with the possible exception of the "hot" girl, Stephanie, who was (we all knew deep down) a bit of a tool.

Now, she's a jazz musician. Check it.

Anyway, look, obviously today is a day for thinking about important things like Degrassi, because the news itself is too ludicrous for words. Hence I am interested only in Degrassi, and the following: Motorola has apparently invented battery chargers for mobile phones that are run by... guess what... riding a bicycle. Yes here it is. You ride your bike around and your phone is charged. Designed for African farmers apparently, although it doesn't explicitly rule out idiots who forget to take their mobile chargers with them to work.

Flower Power

Want to flummox your local library?

Simple solution: send them some flowers.

I came into the library this morning, right on opening hour because I AM OFFICIALLY A MORNING PERSON after surviving almost a week of getting up well before 9am, which previously for me was not an actual time of day.

Usually, as the library opens, a sea of people streams in, jostling to make it past the security checkpoint, where somebody in a security uniform says, "Excuse me Sir, bags in the lockers, excuse me Miss, can I see your laptop? Excuse me, sorry, the skateboard has to go in a locker, my friend". This is usually a simple, streamlined process.

Not so this morning.

This morning, there was a bottleneck at the entrance as one security guy sifted through the stream of people, while a separate group of staff members engaged in a loud, wide-ranging, open discussion regarding the possible whereabouts of the lucky recipient of a lovely bunch of flowers, held like a dirty sock by someone wearing a nametag. The discussion was animated, involved several vastly differing points of view, and continued for some time.

It is now almost three in the afternoon. I am not at all convinced the flowers have made it to their rightful recipient. It is very possible they have been sent through several departments, and may soon appear in the New Release section, in case they belong to one of us.

Nice gesture, flowers.

If you're going to deliver them though, make sure you get a bit specific with the address.

Script Editors

I have worked as a script editor before on a few things unofficially and a few things officially (including the upcoming ABC TV show The Librarians, which is running some very exciting looking promos at the moment by the way, and you should all watch it).

Being a script editor is so much fun because you can work objectively and then leave. You can see the problems, suggest possible new directions, scrap things you don't like, and then walk away from the rubble you have created while someone else does the work.

At least, that's how it felt from the perspective of BEING a script editor.

Now, for our children's TV script we're writing, we are working with our own script editor and I have realised something. A script editors is, quite simply, the best thing since sliced bread. Or indeed bread of any kind. The best thing since yeast.

You know that game where you have to say which permanent member of staff you would employ if you could - you know, most people say masseur or chef or butler or whatever?

Script editor. For sure. Not even a contest. Not even if the chef was Jamie Oliver and the masseur was Johnny Depp.

I'm sorry Johnny, that was a lovely audition, it really was, but you see I can only employ one staff member so I'm afraid you'll have to go. Do take one of Jamie's crab bisques on your way out won't you.

Poor Johnny. He never had a chance.

Ye Gads

So. It begins.

I am officially working for Standing There Productions starting tomorrow. I went into work today, "real work" as I have been calling it for years, and told them I'd see them in December.

Yikes.

This had better be worth it.

You're missing the best part of the day

As a writer, and as a human being, I am not a morning person.

Mornings for me have always been eerie, sickly, befuddling continents, shifting at about 10am into a new geography involving the tender preparation and cautious, careful consumption of earl grey tea.

People who get up in the morning are often people I admire, people I aspire to be more like. My grandfather, ex army, several hundred years old, gets up at the crack of dawn and marches through fields and villages, cities and towns, other dimensional realms etc returning in time for two pieces of charcoal covered in honey, and tea. My routine inherited only the tea. It seems to me that if only I could manage the getting up early part of the routine, I might also live to be a hundred, marching through fields and villages and getting my photograph in the local newspaper for riding a Harley Davidson motorbike at the age of ninety-one (seriously, check this out).

Among my peers, too, I am surrounded. Rita Walsh, Standing There producer (also my boss) gets up half an hour after she goes to bed, runs the Melbourne marathon because she "might as well give it a go”, and never forgets anything, with the notable exception of how long she has paid for parking. When we worked together in an office, years ago, I would turn up to work, stumble through the day and marvel at Rita’s machine-like efficiency. She was like Industrial Era Europe - all shiny pistons and fast-moving conveyor belts. At about three in the afternoon, however, Rits would drop like a marionette and I would emerge, hero-like, from a thick fog, finally ready to conquer all the things Rita hadn’t already done. This usually meant it was my job to get Rita a coffee, put the phones on voicemail, and go home.

The problem is though, Rita has adapted. Like a sea creature growing legs and striding up the shore towards a future splitting the atom and having opposable thumbs and so forth, Rita now works until quite late at night. I, on the other hand, remain back in the dark ages.

So this morning, we began Operation Make Lorin More Productive on Monday Mornings. It’s not a name we’ve run past our marketing and communications manager yet, but you get the idea. I need to write to schedule now. That means not at midnight.

I was outside, vertical, walking to a meeting with Rita, at seven thirty this morning. Things actually happen at that time. The sun hits a different part of your face. Old ladies - the same ones who would put doilies out when a guest was coming - stand outside in their front gardens frowning as they hose the geraniums, squinting at you in their puffy high-fire-danger dressing gowns, hair already in curlers. When I got to the meeting, I had to excuse myself and squeeze past a seagull who was scooping the top off a puddle of morning water with its orange beak.

It’s only taken a day, but I’m already a morning person.

When I got to the State Library, I was proud to be among the library nerds I usually curse who stand out the front like people queuing for grand final tickets, waiting for the library to open so they can go in and achieve more by midday than the rest of us would achieve in a week.

Yeah, I’m one of those guys now. You just watch.

Da Poisonal Is Political

Now, I know this is supposed to be the "Standing There Productions Diary", about writing and filming and artists residencies (see below) and producing theatre shows and applying for funding and wishing there was more money for the arts and so on. I realise I'm not supposed to be writing here about anything that might be perceived as political, because politics is boring and the free MX newspapers have it right when they put massacres and droughts and so on in a tiny column on the right hand side of page five, called Boring But Important.

But it's only in privileged countries like Australia that the link between writing and politics isn't tragically obvious. You probably saw that in the past month in Burma, a Japanese journalist was shot dead in broad daylight, on camera. In Russia, probably the two most high profile anti-government journalists have been mysteriously murdered, one of them drinking a cup of poisoned tea in London, one of them shot in the lift to her apartment a year ago on Sunday (eerily also President Vladamir Putin's birthday).

Also, if you think it's only boring political writers who get in trouble, and that people like me who write shows for the comedy festival are taking ourselves a bit too seriously by aligning ourselves with the likes of those above, consider this guy, a comedian in Burma who has been arrested - which means there are grave concerns for his safety - for supporting a peaceful protest held by monks. He wasn't performing his work because he is not allowed to.

If you want to find out more about these writers and many more, go here.

Here's what I think. I'll keep it short. Boring But Important.

The Australian Immigration Minister, Kevin Andrews, he's the guy with the ears and the persecuted and simultaneously self-righteous face, has said that he has information on how "Africans" (it's a pretty big place) aren't fitting into Australian communities. He isn't going to show us that information or tell us exactly where he got it. He just has it. Trust him.

So, if he can't show us the information he has been given, can he tell us about it in a vague and frightening way? NO WORRIES!

Concerns exist, according to Kevin, in these areas: gangs are forming, altercations are occurring at nightclubs, conflicts are happening within families, young men are drinking in parks, and organisations are arguing about who receives favoured treatment. You know what that sounds like to me? Sounds like Australian sport.

Gangs are forming (much like they did - whatever version of the facts you believe - in this NRL incident we all remember). Altercations are happening at nightclubs (let's see, try here, here, here, and here), conflicts within families (erm, here we go), young men drinking beer in parks (hmmm, lemme see - oh and there's this of course).

So, yes, those Africans really are behaving badly, aren't they. All of this was raised after an Sudanese boy was beaten to death by a couple of (apparently not African) boys.

The problem is, with a country like ours where you're allowed to say what you like, that people in power can say (or refuse to say) what they like, too. It's a shame the only thing we have to go on here is insinuation and rumour.

What I can say is that it's just SUCH a good thing the opposition is doing such a great job OPPOSING the government's stance on things like:

- Health (Rudd was questioned about the similar opposition/government health plans. His retort? Great minds think alike).

- The pulp mill (opposition supports it)

- Immigration (opposition agrees with government)

- The citizenship test (opposition agrees with government)

It's a shame that having a robust democracy where you can say what you think doesn't mean that anyone in a position of power anywhere has any vision whatsoever.

Boring but important, guys. Boring but important.

Trust Us

I have always thought it would be nice to be an "artist in residence", if only because it might make me feel slightly more legitimate in applying for my Melbourne Festival Artist Pass, but also because it sounds romantic.

Which is why it is particularly delightful that Standing There Productions has been granted a residency at Australian artists Arthur and Yvonne Boyd's property, Bundanon (which you can see here) in New South Wales, for a month yet to be determined in 2008.

We're pretty excited about having, as Virginia Woolf would say, a room of our own. Bundanon has provided inspiration for many Australian artists since the Boyds, who believed that "nobody should own a landscape" and therefore donated their property to Australian artists for the rest of time.

How cool is that? Pretty cool cats, dem Boyds, as it turns out.

Although... living for a month in a peaceful and inspiring landscape will be a challenge. Suddenly I'll be having nobody to blame but myself, and possibly Rita and Stew.

Which is fine. They totally had it coming.

PS. Proof that one woman's heaven is another's hell: I told my housemate about the residency and she said, patiently, wanting to understand, "So, it's kind of like... jail?"

Hm. Kind of. In a good way. A jail with a view.

Antibiotic

I am on antibiotics. I don't really understand antibiotics. That is to say, when someone explains it to me, I kind of follow what they're saying, but it's like when people explain aeroplanes and underwater tunnels - it just leaves me thinking, "Well I suppose that makes sense, since clearly there are aeroplanes in the sky and tunnels underwater, but..."

Let's just say I wouldn't be surprised if (like the Y2K bug) it all turned out to be rubbish.

Not that I'm dissing it. Not really. I just think of these things as 'magic'. Hopefully, magic that will be complete by Thursday. Deadlines wait for nobody.

Five Most Boring Topics On Earth

Today, I am feeling poorly.

I have, karma-style, brought this on myself by pointing and laughing at my beloved, who contracted an illness called "croup", usually only contracted by babies. Although it is true that he is a lot younger than I am, he is not THAT much younger than I am, so I was finding it amusing that he had a sickness reserved, appropriately, for infants. Was he also suffering nappy rash? Did he want his dummy? etc. Hilarious.

Then, I started sneezing and coughing, wanting to tear out my burning tonsils, attempting to throw off a rampant fever, and desiring simply to lie down until the winds of time swept me into another dimension. Not so hilarious, as it turns out. More hideous, really, than hilarious, when you think about it. Still, there is some conjecture over whether or not I have the same illness as my manfriend (let's call him Babyface) which thus renders croup hilarious again, since hilarity is, as we all know from Australia's Funniest Home Videos, in the eye of the beholder.

If anyone out there has ever tried to write while suffering from a fever, you will know that it is quite a bizarre state to create anything in (apart from, frankly, mucus). I often try to write or plan creative projects when I'm lying in bed with a fever because, not being a drug taker, I rarely get the opportunity to read over my own writing later and think, "What the hell was I thinking? Who wrote this? I don't remember writing this. I don't remember anything! You guys! Are you having me on?" etc. It really is quite loopy what goes through your fevered mind.

Now I want to read this book, but the problem with being sick is that as soon as you're not sick any more, it's the most boring topic on earth.

In fact, clinical tests prove that the five most boring things on earth to discuss are:

Illness (unless it's fantastic like the girl whose spider bite turned out to be a nest of baby spiders on her face)

Other people's dreams (fascinating to you, boring to everyone else)

Stories about pets (I refer here to stories that do not have plots - the mere fact that an animal is in the story somehow meaning that the story can be about how an animal exists, wags its tail, has fussy eating habits, sleeps, has a name etc. Animal stories are only interesting if your animal has saved somebody's life, played an instrument, been involved in a crime of some sort, or (like the lizard in the newspaper recently) eaten a toy version of itself and then excreted it, causing its child owner to exclaim that it is having a baby out of its bottom).

Office procedures (Apparently, discussions relating to the most appropriate method of filing or archiving are always long, no matter who you work for, and they usually involve two very opinionated polar opposite positions, about neither of which anybody else cares).

and

Traffic (As much as it might pain you at the time, someone overtaking you from the inside lane will bore the pants off someone at the barbecue you arrive late at. Unless you actually have an accident, become involved in fisticuffs, or accidentally flick the bird at mother theresa, it's boring. It just is.)

Do you know how I know this? Because I worked on the phones at a radio station. Do you know the top two topics people want to talk about on talkback radio? Traffic, and pets. Dreams comes in at number three, closely followed by children, sob stories (illness comes in here, so does debt) and weather. The only one of these that doesn't make it onto talkback radio is office procedures.

Maybe I should start my own show.