Year: 2014

Howard and Elle

“You got me in my gardening hour”, smiles Howard, as we sit down in the bright kitchen of their Clunes bungalow. His vowels still reveal a touch of the classic New York twang even after 27 years in Australia. “I forced him to change!” says Elle, who is originally from Amsterdam where she and Howard met 42 years ago. Together the couple have three children and five grandchildren, and have helped pioneer the local organic herb industry from where we are now sitting. Howard Rubin and Elle Fikke came to Australia during the open-door immigration policies of the 1970s and 80s, hoping to start a herbal tea business. Having sold everything in the UK, they went on holiday to Bali, met some friendly Aussies there, and turned up in 1987 to a house in Tuntable Falls which had been arranged for them by some herb growers in Nimbin. “They made you feel welcome”, says Elle, “it was really nice, and so easy for us to come and stay here”. While still on tourist visas, the …

Tailgating a Toddler Is Hard Work, So I Stopped For A Little While

Wooka, wooka, wooka, wooka. That’s the sound my helicopter made as it rose into the air above the playground, pitched left towards the grassy embankment and landed gingerly under the covering of camphor laurels. A small boy had been left behind in the centre of the concrete clearing, blissful and oblivious to my departure. My eldest child is 3-and-a-bit. He can talk well enough to hold conversations with big kids now. He’s inquisitive enough and carefree enough to approach other kids in the playground, even if they are bigger than him and clearly don’t wish to be interrupted by a pipsqueak chiming in on their game. Being 3, my son loves chasing. Yesterday at the park, he started chasing two boys as they rode their bikes around on the basketball court. Round and round the little wooden skate ramp they went, the two bigger boys peddling their hearts out and little bugalugs running as fast as his little legs would go, his ankles flopping and feet slapping on the ground in the way that toddlers …

Why It’s Hard To Surf After a Feed

I have forgotten how to surf. I used to be quite good at it. I could do it for hours on end, as time seemingly stood still until at last I came up for air realising that I was suddenly hungry or cold. These days I can barely manage ten minutes at a time. We’re talking internet surfing here. If you ask me, it’s not entirely my fault. The decline in my agility is largely the result of the feeds delivered by a mob of little round-edged squares. Using a secret password, these guys have infiltrated the mini computer in my handbag, which, in medieval times, was once used for calling people. The bosses, Frankie “fb” Baloney and Enzo “Insti” Gramma, have convinced me that I’m no good at it anymore, that I can’t choose my own adventure in cyberspace. Their power is so influential and far-reaching that I now seem to spend 90% of my time online looking at content they’ve arranged for me instead. And I, like a poor sucker paying protection money, …