I’m on the Annual Family Holiday – the one that you think is going to be all lovely and relaxing and thank goodness for holidays what a long winter. The one that is all exciting until you remember that you are travelling with 3 children who start their grizzling from the moment they realise the plane isn’t an incredible bit of romantic flying gear but a crampy, slightly smelly space with restraints and no i-pads (never mention the i-pads until you have them in your hot hand).

But grizzling doesn’t really matter on holiday because there’s only that to deal with – no beds to make, no loos to clean, no cow poos to soak out of trousers and no second rate meals to cook. And there are buffets. Call me bogan but I do love a buffet. Not to mention a Malibu and orange.

Plus there’s time to slow down and take things in without the usual hurry ups and come ons. I’ve discovered that I enjoy tuning into little snippets of passing conversation, which is done very effectively when meandering along esplanades in wafty tropical heat with a couple of mojitos on board and children not yet used to thongs.

At first it was incidental, accidental eavesdropping* (as distinct from the shock of bat droppings you come across under trees over here, a sign to scurry away and not look up), but it was so fascinating and thought provoking that it soon became out and out stickybeaking. Here are a few worthy examples:

  •  “Quinella, get your lunchbox”     –   said father to daughter.

Quinella? WTF? Unless she’s a Waterhouse or a Cummings a name like that should be illegalised. Along with Zealand, Donathon, Rysk, Kadence, Cinsere, Cora Vette, Boeing and Thnathan. Ok I made that last one up but seriously, I wouldn’t be surprised.

  •  “It’s all bloody Greek, no bloody cows in Greece”    – said older bloke to his wife in the yoghurt section of the supermarket.

There are actually some dairy cows in Greece but old mate is semi justified in being a grumpy old man about it. ‘Greek’ yoghurt is specially strained to create a higher protein, thicker consistency yoghurt that has lately become hugely popular. But the process wasn’t created in Greece, it’s just that a Greek yoghurt company called it Greek as a marketing thing and it stuck. So there’s no god-like Greek blokes hand straining yoghurt on some Agean Island somewhere, just more commercial fallacy. The more you say ‘Greek’ the funnier it sounds.

  • “How’s weirdo after Satdy night? Damaged?”   – said Old Salt to his mate on Cairns Esplanade

Ha! Weirdo! Ausies are great at nicknames, I get much amusement from them. I picture poor damaged Weirdo as a stringy haired, skinny, middle aged dude with a lumpy nose and Bundy breath.

Here are some other nicknames I’ve come across over the years:

BLOOP – because as a pudgy child a ball hit him in the stomach and it made a ‘bloop’ sound.

SECURITY – because he was never the life of the party but preferred to hang quietly on the outer.

SAUCY – because of his red hair.

SPLITTER – because of his large penis (I know, inappropriate and ewww all in one).

BALLSHINER – because he evidently wipes his bottom from back to front. How this has become widely known I hate to think.

BRISTLE – because he once had his lower abdomen shaved for an appendectomy and it grew back all bristley (this origin has been disputed).

  •  “I’m not playing fucking eye spy again”   – said mother to child

I might say it without swearing but I relate to the sentiment. This is how eye-spy plays out in our car:

Ed: eye spy with my little eye –

Lucie (screeching): It’s MY TURN.

Me: Have a quick go Lu.

Lucie: Eye pie with my little eye, something beginning with Horsey.

Bess: Horsey. My turn.

Lucie: No.

Ed: No I was going.

Lucie: It wasn’t horsey.

Bess: You said horsey.

Ed: It’s MY go.

Lucie (screaming): It wasn’t horsey, it was clouds.

Bess: Eye spy with my little eye..

Ed and Lucie: NOOOOO, my turn!

Me: STOP, I’m trying to drive, no more eye spy.


Ed: Clouds doesn’t start with horsey dumbo Lucie, it starts with K.

Lucie: He called me dumbo.

Me: Who wants Macdonalds?

  • “These migrating birds are red footed boobies”  – says the deadpan narrator of a wild life doco.

For some reason I found this unnaturally hysterical. Who’s the joker who named those poor birds? The rest of the sensibly named avian world is having a good laugh. Except maybe the blue tit.

Red footed boobies, for the record, look like seagulls with fetching blue eyeshadow, matching lipstick and Laboutins.

  •  “This is where Barry Smith (named changed) got flattened isn’t it?” – said woman to her friend as we all waited to cross a busy Cairns road.

Frankly I’m surprised that more people don’t get flattened on roads around these parts. Cairns people drive fast – even buses fly along inner city roads – and they rarely give way to pedestrians. I am proud to say that Tasmanians are far more thoughtful and patient. Whenever we cross a road here I turn into a hypervigilant hand holding weirdo, but at least we’re safe. God knows Cairns doesn’t need another damaged weirdo.

  •  “Do mojitos count as greens?” – said some bogan woman by the pool to her husband.

Ok it was me. I’m rating the mojito’s across North Queesland. So far Bernie’s Jazz Bar in Cairns is winning. Points off for no jazz though.

  •  “The coral doesn’t stand a chance with all those Asians flapping around it.” – said Green Island bar person to my husband when he asked her why there was so much dead coral on this part of the reef.

I found this interesting given that our family of 5 were about to do our share of flapping near coral, and that the Asians just by us on the beach were big boned, blond and speaking German, and that the number of fatso Aussies floating about with flappage damage far outweighed that of the petite Asian people who frankly looked a bit tentative about the whole snorkelling thing and not very flappy at all.

Racsism is just inherent in much of Ausralian culture and it shits me. On the same island, a young Asian woman sat beside a little Aussie boy and tried to engage him with smiles and waves. He ignored her. From her banana lounge, his mother gave an evil laugh. The young woman’s face fell and she walked away. My heart sank for her. Come on Aussies come on, we’re better than that.

For the record (and for god measure) I did a small and deliberate wee above a bit of the reef. So there you go – if a bit of coral is suffering from mojito-wee taint (or Nemo is drunk and behaving like a clown) it’s no Asian person’s fault. It’s all mine.

  •  “I’m so glad I have a life” – said my daughter, when viewing the hotel buffet dinner.

She’s certainly a chip off this old block. I’m so glad you have a life too darling.

  • “Forget Days of Our Lives, the 34th America’s Cup is a complete soap opera” – said America’s Cup commentator.

As I write, team America has just equalled the “Geewis” (New Zealand) at 8 to 8 after NZ were situated 8 to 2 and looking like a surefire winner. Given that’s it’s first to 9, it’s possibly the biggest choke in sporting history, as well as the biggest comeback. Sailing peeps are reeling world over, awaiting the final deciding race tomorrow morning at 6 am. I’m slightly over the creaky-farty sail rope noises coming from the telly each evening, but have to admit it’s kind of compelling. Jimmy Spitwell is the name of the US skipper (even though he’s Australian). So glad his first name isn’t Chuck.

  • “Those Jelly Babies are creepy or something” – me.
See, pervy.

See, pervy.

This is not an eavesdrop because I said it, but I just wanted to include it anyway. You see just along the road from our hotel is an arts centre and outside it are some giant jelly baby sculptures. The children think they are great (Lucie liked them enough to lick one – more points for her immune system) so I agreed to take a photo of the twins with one of them. When I viewed the photo afterwards I realised what it was that bothered me. All the jelly babies have a self-satisfied smile on their face and appear to be grasping a giant erection. And the yellow one is now immortalised in one of our family pictures – leering over my precious children. I’m so curious to know whether anyone else has come to the same conclusion re pervy jelly babies or whether it’s just me.

And on that note, that’s it for eavesdropping. People are going to start getting suspicious if I continue to sit unnaturally close to strangers. And the last conversation I tuned in on was about the Labor party’s contest for leader. Yawn. Give me boobies any day.

*by the way, the word eavesdropping is derived from old Anglo Saxon law which punished those who skulked under the ‘eavesdrip’ (the bit of ground that collected rainwater from the eaves) of another person’s house, close enough to hear what was going on inside. I sense a nightmare coming on – one featuring jelly babies wanking in my eavesdrip. Eeeek, get me a mojito.

Mojito cocktai

Categories: Navelgazery

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18 replies

  1. ah, but my friend it all ends up in morocco with interesting people who amazingly turned out well and crazy good company, despite being burdened by being your children xxx

  2. I love this! You are marvellous!

  3. Meg, I agree, those jelly babies ARE creepy! I can’t understand how any paedophile could have obtained permission to put such offensive looking sculptures in a public place for children to have their photos taken with. EEK! There are some much nicer and more child-friendly ones here. But then, they would probably not be as famous (infamous?) and as we know, all publicity is good publicity in the arts world.

  4. Nicknames are great from Aussies, arent’ they? My husband got nuts in the Army because Cashion obviously sounds like Cashew and that’s a nut, right? But my absolute fave is a guy I was dating called Snow, met his brother and found they called him Sleet. Why? Because Sleet is not as thick as Snow….

  5. Love your work Meg! My husband nicknamed a colleague “suitcase” because you had to carry the bastard! After a time this colleague was renamed “lantern” because he wasn’t too bright and you still had to carry the bastard!

  6. Cracking post. I’m disappointed to hear about the true origins of Greek yoghurt. I often say to my husband that the yoghurt is the best thing to come out of Greece because democracy and botty sex are overrated. He usually comes back with so are sovereign debt crises. And I usually compare the latter to botty sex. You’ve ruined this whole routine 😉

  7. Hello Meg, I lived in Cairns for 8 years -your holiday eavesdropping is bringing back so many memories. I was at Rustys market one friday morning at a ‘hippy’ stall and the young, smelly hippy next to me was telling the stall holder that he lived in a cave in the mountains. Then his mobile phone rang. I might have laughed out loud.
    my ex husband was a birdo (weird mob) and he would point out the ‘double breasted cock gobblers’. Sorry, that was probably uncalled for 🙂

  8. Hubby got in trouble for nicknaming a collegue Meatloaf because he could never finish a job but used to say “two out of three ain’t bad”….

  9. What a great post! Jelly babies are a mascot for a type 1 diabetes research organization – puts a whole new spin on Jelly Baby week! Have a fab holiday. 🙂

  10. Meg -this had me laughing out loud, could so relate to the eye-spy having just driven back from Melb to Qld on my own with 3 kids in the back – you have our eye-spy conversation pretty much down to a tee – hilarious, including your final comment – thank god for maccas is all i can say! Glad you’ve enjoyed your time in the tropics – tropical weather does tend to send us all a bit batty up here!! x

  11. Great observations. Lots of unexpected, sudden laughs from this post. Thank you for the fine read.

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