Thursday, December 29, 2011

Annus Horribilis

My staff, Badger and I were watching the Queen's Christmas message on Christmas Day when I was reminded of one of her most famous and often repeated phrases. No not "Oh for heavens sake Philip. Put it away, you'll frighten the corgis." Rather "Annus Horribilis." Why was I reminded of this? Well, firstly my male staff was bending over to pick up one a Badger's pieces of bush chocolate and secondly 2011 has indeed been a horrible year in my household - at least for my staff.

My female staff's dad broke his hip and had to spend seven weeks in hospital, where her also broke his arm while going to the toilet. Dementia then invaded his brain and he had to be placed in a care facility, which he alternately loathes and loves depending on what his poor old brain is doing on any given day. Then in May my male staff's mum was diagnosed with a inoperable brain tumour and given between six and nine months to live. My male staff and I have since been flying between Australia and London at regular intervals to help care for her. On the latest of these trips my male staff developed a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and had to be put down. I'm kidding - he had to spend a week in hospital and is now on so much blood thinning medication that if he nicks himself shaving he's likely to bleed to death in under thirty seconds.

This DVT thingy also means that he can't fly long haul for three months. Even a guinea pig with four digits on each paw can do that sort of arithmetic and come up with the fact that my male staff is not likely to see his mum again. Finally my male staff's mad sister went even madder and has had to take stress leave from her job. I say "finally" because I'm crossing my paws that nothing else happens between now and 2012. It's only two days, but as a precaution my staff have decided not to go outside just in case. They have a good supply of chardonnay and cheese and have asked not to be disturbed until one minute past twelve on the morning of the first of January. In my opinion they are already very disturbed.

Meanwhile I've been preparing a list of New Years resolutions that I can break within the first week of 2012 like everyone else. For instance I vow to get in behind the telly a lot more because it annoys my staff and takes them ages to entice me out with all sorts of treats. I also vow not to mount Badger any more - or any less. Badger says he'll try not to get things stuck to his testostricles. I really have no idea how he manages to do it. They do drag on the floor and are not as hairy as mine so there's less protection. My female staff went to the pet shop the other day and asked if they sold jock-straps for guinea pigs. The pet shop lady thought that one of the inmates from the local psychiatric hospital had escaped and called the police, but that's another story.

 My male staff was going to play over thirty-fives soccer again next year, but his blood thinning medication has ruled that out. He's very disappointed, though the rest of his team aren't. His coach once described him as being "deceptively slow". "He's not as fast as he looks." He said. So he's going to have to take up lawn bowls or something less risky. My female staff says that 2012 will be the year that her shoe collection overtakes that of Imelda Marcos and my female staff's dad has vowed to escape from the care home by digging a tunnel and with the aid of forged papers will make it across the border to Switzerland.

Happy New Year Everyone.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Christmas Pelican

Boxing Day has arrived. It's incredible how often it comes straight after Christmas Day. What are the chances of that happening almost every year. There are three hundred and sixty four other days in could fall on, three hundred and sixty five days some years - just amazing! Anyway, many of you will know that Boxing Day is so called because it is the day that most fights break out - often due to the excess consumption of alcohol the day before. My male staff says that he prefers Boxing Day to Christmas Day because all the hoo-hah is finally over with and he can get on with being miserable.

Yesterday we all went out to a restaurant for our Christmas dinner. There was myself, Badger, my staff, my female staff's mum and dad and my female staff's sister and her partner. Quite a tight squeeze in my female staff's Hyundai Getz, especially has her dad had to fit his wheelchair in too. We were actually a bit worried about her dad as he suffers from dementia and just a couple of days ago had escaped from his aged care home on his walking frame and was heading up the road towards home with several nurses in hot pursuit. It was like the closing scene to any Benny Hill show you care to mention. However, on this occasion he behaved himself admirably. It was a lovely restaurant right on the Noosa River. Santa was there and everyone wore those stupid paper hats and read aloud the painful jokes from the Christmas crackers. A good time was had by all - even my male staff didn't say "Bah Humbug!" as often as he usually does.

The only fly in the ointment on this occasion was Badger. Being right next to the river the restaurant attracts quite a few pelicans, to whom the patrons like to feed their scraps. Badger was sitting on the table next to my female staff (He'd been eating her greens and was now eyeing her plum pudding.) when a large pelican (Actually they're all large to a guinea pig.) waddled in and snatched him up. It was all a bit surreal. There was Badger, his eyes standing out like a dog's dangly bits being paraded around between the tables of festive families by an opened billed pelican hotly pursued by my staff, who were knocking people's wine over and bumping food out of waiter's hands while apologising profusely and chasing the bird. I sat back on on my female staff's dad's lap to watch the fun. Luckily pelicans need a long runway for take off, otherwise things would have been even more interesting.

Finally the bird ducked between two waitresses and waddled into the gents washrooms followed by my female staff with a triumphant shout of "Hah! Got you cornered now you bastard." This somewhat surprised Santa who was standing at one of the urinals minding his own business and was not expecting to be called a bastard by some mad woman accompanied by a pelican with a fat black and white guinea pig in it's bill. Santa was even more alarmed when the pelican hid behind him in a bid to escape the clutches of my female staff who kept grabbing at the bird's bill between Santa and the urinal. It's amazing how fast a jolly, fat man can move when he wants to protect his candy cane and his sack of goodies from grasping hands and a pelican's snapping bill.

After a couple of entertaining minutes of this, the pelican finally spat Badger onto the floor, glared at my female staff, waddled back through the restaurant to the river and swam gracefully away as if it was the kind of thing that happens every day. Meanwhile my female staff scooped up a somewhat fishy smelling Badger, wished Santa a merry Christmas and returned to the table to finish her glass of sauvignon blanc. So all in all it was an excellent day. We all received the presents we wanted - even male staff's mad sister's dog Bella. One of my best Twitter friends Dalton the dog from Wagg Foods sent her a sample of their doggie chews. Apparently Bella told mad sister that she thought they were delicious, but she'd like a few more just to be sure.      

Lastly I'd just like to mention the Christmas turkey in his SUV who ran into my eighty three year old female staff's mum's parked car yesterday. She was just about to get into it as it happened. The turkey then blamed her - in a bullying tone for parking badly. However, I don't think the insurance company will see it that way and the turkey will end up coughing up the insurance excess at the very least. He needs to learn that if you drive into something stationary it can only be ever be your fault. May his Christmas pudding be filled with bush chocolate.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas Miracle

That peculiar time in the human calendar has arrived once again. Christmas. Thankfully for us guinea pigs it only comes once every twelve years. That's working on my calculation that each human year is twelve guinea pig years. This calculation also means that I spent two months in hospital with my male staff last week, but I don't really want to think about that. I've been trying to work out what Christmas is all about. This will be my second Christmas and I'm still no closer to understanding it. My male staff has been trying to explain it to me but I don't think it's helping.

He says that just over two thousand years ago this bloke Joe and his wife Mary were on their Christmas holidays in Bethlehem. Mary was about to drop a kid, and that was a bone of contention between her and Joe for a start because the kid wasn't his. He reckoned that despite being married for a while, he and Mary had never done the business. Mary said that an angel had visited her and told her that she would give birth, but Joe thinks it was probably the plumber. Anyway, my male staff says he doesn't know how they got to Bethlehem in the first place because if Mary was nine months pregnant there isn't an airline in the world that would let her fly - not even Garuda. Still, it was a while ago so maybe the regulations were a bit more relaxed then.

In any case, they must have booked online because their airport transfers never turned up and they had to walk all the way into town. Well, actually that's not quite true. Joseph managed to find a tout with a donkey which he hired and let Mary ride on it. Then when they finally got into town they found that their hotel had not been built yet and that the pictures on the website were "artists impressions". So now poor, naive Joe is stuck with a donkey and a wife who's nine months pregnant to a plumber with wings, a harp and a glowing white robe and has nowhere to sleep. He needs a drink really badly, so he finds a pub, ties the donkey up outside, goes in and gets a take-away six pack. When he comes back Mary is chatting to another plumber who tells her he has a shed at the back of his house that they can sleep in for the night. Joe knew he was a plumber because he had six inches of butt crack showing.

So an hour later they're ensconced the in the plumber's shed surrounded by bidets, taps, pipes and toilets. There's a lot of straw and a manger too. (Whatever that is.) There's also some cattle, sheep and a few chickens - the kind of thing you find in any plumber's shed. They'd hardly been there five minutes when Mary gives birth to a healthy baby boy. The cattle were lowing, which really annoyed Joe, but the kid didn't yell or anything, and that was the very first Christmas miracle. They were still stuck in the shed a couple of days later when some rich dudes turned up on camels bearing gifts. That is the dudes were bearing gifts - not the camels. Anyway, if they were that rich you'd think they'd have a car, or at least a bike. They handed over the goodies - gold, frankincense and myrrh. Again Joe was a little disappointed 'cos he'd really been hoping for a thirty eight inch plasma telly and one of those weasel toys that runs around the floor chasing a ball.

That, according to my male staff, is how it all started. Mary's kid grew up to be the Son of God and turned out to be a nice man but a rather unsuccessful politician who was rather badly done by one Easter thirty three years later, but that's another story. Ever since that that night in the plumber's shed mankind has celebrated the birth of this failed politician by bringing trees inside, getting totally rat-faced and eating so much that their trouser buttons fly off across the room, almost taking out Auntie Ethel's eye as she tucks into her seventeenth mince pie of the day. Of course these days Christmas begins in the middle of August which is when Joe and Mary first booked their holiday and paid their deposit.  Apparently for a couple of days in December some people are quite nice to each other when they've finished fighting over parking spaces at the local shopping mall.

Merry Christmas One and All.    

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bayonet Drills

Oddly enough, hospitals are not the natural habitat of the Cavius Hirsuitinii Giganticus (Large Furry Guinea Pigs). On the whole we as a species have yet to colonise this particular habitat. This may be due to the lack of food at ground level and the fact that the nurses tend to chase us while waving large hypodermic needles in our direction. Generally we prefer to graze around the floor of McDonald's restaurants where there is always plenty of discarded lettuce and tomato laying around. You do have to be careful not to step in the vomit of those foolish humans who have consumed one of the burgers though. It's almost as good a hunting ground as a long haul flight on an Airbus A380 - and without the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis - as my male staff knows all too well.

Nevertheless we are quick to adapt to new environments, which is just as well since I've had to spend the last six days roaming the wards of our local hospital where my male staff is ensconced, waiting for patients to get distracted so that I can snatch their sprig of parsley garnish from their plates. Sometimes they refuse to get distracted, so intent are they upon guzzling their food. On these occasions I'm forced to burrow down under their bedclothes and bite the inside of their thigh. Then while they're busy calling the nurse, (Sister, Sister! I think I'm having a groin attack!") I snaffle their parsley and anything else remotely green from their plate and scuttle back to the safety of my male staff's bed, under which I have constructed a very comfortable little nest of cotton swabs and incontinence pads.

The worst thing about being in hospital is that I have to listen to my male staff squealing every time a nurse jabs him with a needle, which is currently three times a day. The first jab of the day comes at about six in the morning, which is a great way to wake up, far more effective than any alarm clock. The nurse comes along to the bedside of my dozing male staff, plunges a nice thick needle into his arm and sucks up about a litre of his blood, which she says they will use to test his Warfarin levels. Of course the real reason is that all the hospital staff are having satanic rituals in the staff room after their coffee break and they need my male staff's blood to paint pentagons on the floor or something. At least that's what I like to think. Then he's barely finished squealing like a girl from that first jab when the second one comes an hour later. This time it's a hefty dose of clexane - a blood thinning agent. This is stabbed straight into his stomach, but it still doesn't stop him squealing, so they go away and come later with another dose of the same stuff. Wallop! Right in the guts it goes. It doesn't help that the nurse likes to charge across the room, needle in hand yelling "Yaaaaaaarrrghhh!" I think she might have been a bayonet drill instructor in the army before she became a nurse.  I don't think this second clexane jab is really necessary because he just starts squealing again and it lasts pretty much until he goes to sleep.

With all the light hearted hilarity and comedic value of my male staff's near death experience it is easy to forget one rather sad and somewhat poignant possibility. There's a fair chance that he will never see his mum again. She is now seven and a half months into a six to nine months life prognosis since she was diagnosed with a brain tumour back in May. It makes me a sad little guinea pig to think that I may never see her again either. She was always very kind to me and made sure I had a steady supply of greens. Even now, my eyes are leaking onto my fur. My male staff's doctor has told him that he must not fly for at least six weeks after he gets out of hospital. There's a reasonable chance that if he does it would kill him.  He can talk to her on the phone of course, but it's not really the same is it. He says glad that when he left her about three weeks ago he kissed her and told her the he loved her, but it looks like he's going to break his promise to return soon and that must hurt.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Boring Week

I really don't know what to talk about today. All in all it's been a pretty dull week. My female staff has been reluctantly going to work as usual, Badger's been his usual neat and tidy self. Always colour coding his vegetables before he eats them and always making a beautifully artistic pile of bush chocolate in the same corner of his cage. I like to spread mine about to give my cage that "lived in" feel. Mary the half tame magpie has been turning up on time everyday for her meat, as have Bubble and Barnabus the butcherbirds. Leroy and Lucy the lorikeets have been arriving as always at six AM for their seed.  So as you can see it's been a pretty average week. Oh yes. I nearly forgot..........My male staff almost died and has spent the last three nights in the intensive care ward at our local hospital. Apart from that it's all been very boring.

It started a couple of weeks ago while he and I were in England visiting his poorly mum.We'd done a fair bit of flying recently, what with two other trips to England and a couple to Africa. (You can read about these adventures in my earlier blog posts.) All in comedy class of course because my male staff is far too tight to pay for a business class seat. He started whinging and complaining about having a tight chest, feeling breathless and coughing up blood. That last little detail is never a good sign. Even his mad sister said that he should go to the doctor. He refused though, saying "They'd put me in hospital and then what would happen to Billy?" Touching eh? I always choose my staff for their loyalty.

So anyway, we get home and male staff tries to go for one of his regular runs. He gets about a hundred yards and has to stop and walk slowly home because he's puffing like a steam train and his chest feels as though Badger has been sitting on it all night. So the next day off we go to the human vet thingy. She pokes him and puts something icy cold on his chest seemingly just for a laugh. Then she tells him he has to go and have all sorts of tests and X-rays. See

None of these tests reveal anything other than the fact that Canadian radiologist have no sense of humour. So, back we go the next day to the human vet thingy who orders something called a QV scan, which my male staff assures me stands for Queer Vein but I'm not sure I believe him. So he and I get in the car and drive to Buderim - a town about forty-five minutes drive away. Here my male staff has this new scan which involves blowing into a metal box for ten minutes and then being shoved into a revolving metal tube for half an hour. It was terrible, there was no salad anywhere.

Once the scan was over we were told to sit in the waiting room where my male staff looked at semi naked skeletons in a 1997 copy of Vogue Australia while I chewed a copy of Woman's Day. Very nice it was too, especially the Thai salad recipe page. Five minutes later a doctor appears waving a piece of paper. He had a rather wild eyed, panicked look about him - rather like my female staff when she finds there's no wine left in the fridge. "You can't drive home like this!" He cried. "You could kill yourself, or someone else." That's interesting, I thought. He's obviously seen my male staff's driving before. He continued. "Your lungs are full of blood clots. If one of them shifts you could have a fatal heart attack or a stoke....or worse!" What could be worse than a fatal heart attack or stroke? I wondered. I didn't get chance to voice this question though, (Not that he'd have understood a small wheeking rodent.) because he said to my male staff,  "I've ordered you an ambulance and booked you a bed at Noosa Hospital. You're going to the intensive care unit immediately." Well, immediately wasn't exactly the right word because it took forty-five minutes for the ambulance to arrive.

So when the thing finally turned up my male staff was strapped to a stretcher while I sat on his tummy. Two paramedics watched him like a hawk as though he was about to croak any time at all, which would have meant lots of irritating paperwork for them and a late finish to their shift. Hospitals are fun. There are lots of cables and things to chew, but I'm not allowed to chew the ones that are stuck to my male staff's chest. These apparently tell the nursing staff whether or not he's still alive. Now they're pumping him full of anti-coagulant chemicals, so that if he nicks himself shaving he'll probably bleed to death. The boss human vet came to his bed and told him that he was very lucky. He said that twenty five percent of people with his sort of pulmonary embolism don't even make it to the hospital. Frankly I'm not surprised, the way they drive those ambulances.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Investment Advice

These are uncertain financial times we live in. How does a simple guinea pig know that? Well, for one thing, my male staff's language becomes X rated when he watches the stock market report on the telly. Apart from that, cavies are known throughout the animal kingdom as financial experts. Whoever heard of a guinea pig losing a fortune on the stock market? I rest my case.

Now, I understand that humans get a little bit confused with fiscal matters, so today I have listed a glossary of terms to help you get to grips with the jargon that you're likely to hear from politicians and economists on the television.

Chief Embezzlement Officer

Corporate Fraud Officer

Bull Market         
A random, short term stock market movement which causes the investor to wildly overestimate both his financial wisdom and his wealth.

Bear Market       
A six to eighteen month period during which the investor comes to terms with the fact that he's not so damned smart as he thought he was.

Value Investing  
The art of buying low and selling lower.

P/E Ratio          
The percentage of investors wetting their pants as the market keeps crashing.

What your Financial Planner has made you.

Standard & Poor
What your life is thanks to your financial planner.

Financial Planner 
A person whose phone has been disconnected and who's mail is redirected to Brazil.

Market Correction 
What happens the day after you buy stocks.

Stock split         
When your ex-wife and her lawyer split your assets equally between themselves.

People who's opinions are ignored by the CEO when granting himself a salary increase.

The fog that drifts across the investor's eyes when he hears financial jargon.

Fiscal Conservative
Anyone who spends other people's money.

Finance Minister
A government portfolio commonly given to the least numerate member of parliament.

The member of parliament who takes economic advise from the Finance Minister.

Hedge Fund
When your financial adviser has stolen your money and hidden it in a hedge.

Cash Flow
The movement your funds makes as they disappear down the toilet.

Greatly Depleted Purse

One who makes a fortune by exploiting poor people and then gives a tiny fraction of it back to them.

Merchant Banker
Cockney rhyming slang.

So there you have it. Hope it helped to clarify a few things. Now, here's some free investment advice.
Withdraw all your cash and line the bottom of your guinea pig's cage with it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Exploding Heart

Home at last, and what do I find? Badger has eaten all the parsley, that's what. I had the last laugh though because when he learned that I was due to return he guzzled all the parsley so quickly that some got stuck up his nose and he had to go to the vet to have it removed. I thought that sort of thing only happened to my male staff. Talking of whom; he brought something really nasty home with him, and I'm not talking about his dirty underwear - although that was pretty nasty. He returned home, not only with a large, hairy rodent on his shoulder, but with some sort of strange human malady in his chest. His GP (That's General Practitioner, not Guinea Pig.) told him that he's probably picked up some sort of virus. This, of course, is medical speak for "I haven't got a clue what's wrong with you, now go away and stop bothering me."

He whinges all the time that his chest hurts and that he's constantly short of breath, and it's true, he puffs and pants and wheezes as if he's about to have an orgasm any time at all. It's most unbecoming and quite alarming for the general public. He's worried because a few years ago he was hospitalised with newmoan....noomown....pnoomoan....a really bad chest infection and he is very anxious not to have to repeat that experience because at first they mis-diagnosed a DVT and pumped him so full of warfarin that his eyes leaked blood. But worst of all he had to sleep in a ward full of people even older than him and they used to hold farting contests in the middle of the night while he was trying to sleep.

Anyway his GP made him go and have an echo cardiogram today - mainly to cover her arse, so that if his heart suddenly explodes he can't sue her for negligence. Naturally he took me with him, I mean, who doesn't take their guinea pig along when having an echo cardiogram. So we sat in the waiting room thumbing through tattered copies of Woman's Day and New Idea magazines looking for pictures of scantily clad female celebrities, at least my male staff did. I always go straight to the cooking pages to see if there are any good salad photos.

Shortly my male staff was called, so he picked me up, put me on his shoulder and followed a Mike Tyson lookalike nurse into a dark room where he was told to sit on the bed and take his shirt off. "Someone would be along shortly." She/he/it said. There were all sorts of machines and monitors and humming things in the room, so while my male staff undressed I busied myself chewing a few cables. They weren't as nice as the ones you find on aeroplanes though. After half an hour's wait during which my male staff had turned an interesting shade of blue in the air-conditioning and his nipples had begun to stick out like that model of Wyoming's Devil's Tower that Richard Dreyfuss was making in Close Encounters, a very attractive Canadian lady in a short skirt entered the room and without further ado smeared my male staff's chest with what appeared to be jelly. This had an interesting effect on both his heart rate and his panting, puffing and wheezing. However the lady pretended not to notice and proceeded to stick little labels attached to wires all over him. (I wasn't allowed to chew these.) Then she rubbed a metal thing all over him while watching a monitor that made sloshing noises like a washing machine. The lady told my male staff not to worry about the noises, it was just his heart. Well lady, I tell you what. If my heart was making noises like a washing machine I'd be bloody worried.

Finally the lady stood up, turned the lights on and with some distaste wiped the jelly from my male staff's chest. Then with an evil grin on her face ripped the little sticky labels off, leaving him with more bald patches on his chest than a guinea pig with a bad case of mites. So, he dressed himself, picked me up, much to the lady's surprise (She hadn't seen me in the dark.) and asked her which was the way "oat". Sadly the lady had about as much of a sense of humour as a........well, as a Canadian, so she just glared at us and pointed to the door. I made sure I left her a neat little pile of bush chocolate in the corner of the room. Tomorrow we have to go back and get the results of the echo cardiogram and take them to the GP who will then tell my male staff whether or not his heart is about to explode.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Do Buy

And so with a heavy heart my male staff kissed his mum goodbye and told her that he loved her. Can you imagine how frightening it must be to be seven months into a nine month life prognosis? I for one would be running around in circles wheeking and expending a lot of bush chocolate. We'd spent a month living with my male staff's mum and dad in their house in the English midlands. When we first arrived, his mum was in hospital after a fall and a couple of seizures. The poor old thing looked dreadful, thin and weak and hardly eating at all - barely able to feed herself. By the time we left, she was back at home, strong, getting about with a walking frame and eating like a horse. Of course I put most of this improvement down to my presence. Who would not feel better for having a small, cute, furry thing running around their lounge pooping and chewing cables.

Both my male staff and I had arrived in England from Australia with expectations of attending a funeral and having to console each other and his dad. But no, the steroids are keeping the brain tumour at bay for the time being and his mum is so well that we are able to return Down Under to attend to business and be re-united with our loved ones - my female staff, Badger and Paolo and Biggles the budgies. Not to mention Mary the half tame magpie, Bubble and Barnabas the butcher birds, Thomas the kookaburra and Leroy and Lucy the rainbow lorikeets. We'll return to England in a few weeks, all being well, to see how my male staff's mum is going. The good news is that it looks as though she will see another Christmas.

Right now, as I am dictating this to my male staff we are one third of the way home, sitting in our hotel room in Dubai - or Do Buy as it should be called since it has more land mass covered with shopping mauls than the entire area of Belgium. From our window, across one of the ubiquitous building sites and Dubai Creek is the city skyline - a collection of tall futuristic needles poking up into the pale blue sky. The tallest of them, the Burj Khalifa is the nearly three thousand feet tall and looks like something out of the movie Blade Runner.
This afternoon my male staff took me for a long walk to wear down my claws a bit. (He says smuggling me into places down the front of his trousers is getting a little painful.) I toddled along with him for a while but it was hard keeping up, so I wheeked and looked pathetic until he picked me up and put me on his shoulder.

We ended up at the biggest shopping maul of all - The Dubai Maul which cowers at the feet of the mighty and extremely pointy Burj Khalifa. As far as I could see it contained a thousand shops all selling expensive tat, though I must admit my male staff did buy me a very nice salad. We thought we'd better avoid tabbouleh having had a bad experience with it when I was here with Badger a while ago.

A strange and interesting place is Do Buy. No matter how long a foreign national stays and works there he will never be granted citizenship. Even if his mother and father lived their all their lives and he or she was born there. Until yesterday the child of a union between an Emerati woman and a foreign man had no right of citizenship either as citizenship is passed down through male lineage. This is all very well, but the foreign partner will still never be an Emerati national even if his or her kids will. Do Buy has the tallest building in the world, more Ferraris than Australia has Hyundais (or so it seems to me anyway), and it has the world's longest driverless metro rail system - and still they manage to close the automatic doors in my male staff's face just as he's about to get on board, having just dashed up four flights of stairs with a large furry guinea pig on his shoulder.

Emirates - the national airline was looking at copying the rail system and having pilotless planes. (Qantas have already briefly experimented with engineless planes.) since computers already take off, fly and land the thing anyway. However, research showed that passengers would prefer to have a dumb human at the pointy end. (Though that isn't exactly how it was expressed.) Emirates have therefore compomised and from May 2012 all their planes will be piloted by a crew of one human and an American pit bull terrier. The human is there to reassure the passengers and the pit bull terrier is there to bite the human if he touches any of the controls. 


Monday, November 28, 2011

Britain's Wonderful Care Workers

Here in Britain recently there has been a great outcry over the standard of home care for the elderly and infirm. There has been much gnashing of teeth and big banner headlines splashed across the toxic tabloids and television shouting that Britains' elderly are are being systematically abused by their uncaring care workers. As a fair minded cavy I would like to redress the balance a little. My male staff's poorly mum has care workers three times a day, morning, noon and night, and as far as I can see they are all wonderful. They do an amazing job under what are often very difficult and unpleasant circumstances. What's more they do it cheerfully and they treat people with as much dignity as possible.

My male staff's mum's morning carer comes at seven fifty every day and after feeding me and cleaning my cage she gets male staff's mum out of bed, makes sure she goes to the toilet, then washes her all over, She dries her off, applies moisturiser to wherever it needs to be applied. My male staff's mum is then dressed and led safely to the breakfast table where she is presented with a plate of burnt toast. The carer then gives me a treat of parsley, brushes my fur, kisses me on the nose, combs my male staff's hair and leaves. The carer has forty-five minutes to do all this.

A different carer comes at lunchtime. Usually she arrives on a push bike, no matter what the weather. After feeding me a bowl of dry food and cos lettuce her job is to make sure that my male staff's mum is comfortable and clean. She washes her if necessary and makes she she uses to toilet if she needs to. Before she leaves she gives me a cuddle, kisses me on the nose and straightens my male staff's tie. She has only fifteen minutes to complete these tasks.

Then in the evening another carer comes. Once again she washes my male staff's mum, undresses her and helps her put on her pyjamas and dressing gown ready for bed. She kisses me on the nose, changes my water, gives me coriander for supper and tucks my male staff into bed with his teddy bear. She has half an hour to do this and she does it with a smile on her face and some cheery banter on her lips.

Now I'm sure that the vast majority of carers are like this rather than the abusive type and I think it would be nice if they received  the credit they deserve. My male staff's mum is one of their easier jobs too. They wipe bums, clean poo off the floor, mop up vomit, administer medication and often simply give the elderly someone to talk to for a few minutes each. You'd think they'd get well paid for this, but actually my male staff is better paid - and I pay him with bush chocolate. They are paid about seven pounds an hour, which is bad enough, but get this. They are not paid to travel between jobs. They might have to drive for half an hour or more to get from one job to another, but they have to do this on their own time. They get a pittance of a petrol allowance but that's all. They may work twelve hours a day, but only get paid to eight. It's outrageous.

These poor carers are employed by private companies who are contracted by county councils who believe that it is cheaper to put the care of the elderly and disabled in the care of the private sector. It probably is, but that doesn't mean that that the care provided is better. All it means is that the private companies contracted will cut their costs to the bone in order to make a greater profit. Even a guinea pig knows that.
Care workers are exploited and those being cared for inevitably receive a lower standard of care because carers are so rushed. There is no way the private sector should be allowed anywhere near the elderly and infirm.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Walking Frames and Wheelchairs

On the third Wednesday of each November in Britain it is traditional to take your oldest and wrinkliest relative to the nearest garden centre. Had my male staff known about this quaint custom he wouldn't have suggested another day for a trip to his mum's favourite garden centre to buy some winter pansies. As it was, we were all crammed into his car. Me, my male staff, my male staff's mad sister, their mum and mad sister's long suffering hubby. It's amazing how many people you can squeeze into a FIAT 500. I must admit that getting my male staff's mum's wheelchair and walking frame in as well was pretty tough. Mad sister's long suffering hubby was driving and all things considered he did very well to get us there with a walking frame leg in one of his ears, while peering through the spokes of the wheelchair. Still, it was only twenty miles and we didn't run over anyone important.

We arrived at garden centre at the same time as seven other wrinkly containing vehicles and it was a race to get the handicap sticker out and make it into one of only six handicap parking spaces. It wasn't pretty but at least the local panel beaters will have enough work to keep them going for a few months. Then it was a mad scramble to get my male staff's mum into her wheelchair before the others because we knew there would be a race to get to the tearoom where there was only room for six wheelchairs. As it happens we were quickest off the mark. This was due to us having our own wheelchair, so we had a head start while the other wrinklies fenced viciously with their walking frames, desperately competing for the free loan wheelchairs that the garden centre provide. One poor old soul had his colostomy bag punctured while standing next to his son's work vehicle, then the shit really hit the van. So, while they were cleaning that up we made our way to the teashop and tucked into our lunch. I rode on my male staff's mum's lap while my male staff pushed her wheel chair. Fortunately I had a carrot to distract me and calm my nerves as my male staff doesn't have a great track record with wheelchairs.

Amazingly the rest of the visit passed without major incident. I had fun chomping on passing leaves, though some were snatched away from me. I assume these were either poisonous or that my male staff wanted them for himself. We purchased the required winter pansies and piled everyone and everything back into the car to begin the journey home, this time with mad sister at the wheel. Not surprisingly we hadn't got very far when the poor old FIAT 500 coughed, farted and burped. Come to think of it, that may have been either my male staff or his mad sister. In any case we ground to a halt with a resounding "Bollocks!" from mad sister. Post profanity she leapt into action, dialling the good old AA on her cell phone. That's the Automobile Club by the way, not Alcoholics Anonymous, though she is equally familiar with both. My male staff says he remembers when AA repair men wore a smart uniform with a peaked cap and they saluted motorist members of the AA in military style. Two hours after mad sister's phone call a spotty teenager in greasy overalls turned up. With him came a kilo of metal face furniture and an attitude that said "I hope you bastards realise you've disturbed my cocaine break." At last he stuck his head under the bonnet/hood, fiddled about and finally emerged looking even greasier than before.
  "Well?" Mad sister asked.
  "Shit in the fuel pump." Replied the youth.
  "Jesus Christ!" Said mad sister. "How often am I supposed to do that?"  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Piddles The Cat

My male staff is always telling how wonderful British television used to be thirty years ago. There were numerous cerebral quiz shows like "Mastermind" and "University Challenge". The Mastermind questions were so hard that my male staff only managed to answer two correctly over the entire time that the show was being aired. And who do you think was the most successful winner of Mastermind? A university professor, a physicist, an airline pilot, a brain surgeon, a rocket scientist? Nope. It was a taxi driver called Fred Housego.

According to my male staff there were people like Fred all over Britain, doing everyday, menial jobs; sometimes through choice but often because Margaret Thatcher' anti-intellectual stance and policy of making everyone jobless made it hard for really clever people to find good jobs. Now, having been forced to watch twenty first century British television for three weeks I can officially reveal that British television has been dumbed down to a level that has barely twice the intellectual content of Australian television and only four times that of the United States.

Mastermind and University Challenge have been replaced by "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here." and "Deal Or No Deal". We have Deal Or No Deal in Australia too, but there it's only a half hour programme; twenty two minutes actually if you don't count the commercial breaks. In Britain it's an interminable hour. For those of you fortunate enough not to have seen it, it involves contestants choosing numbered boxes each containing a sum of money. In the Australian version the contestant picks a number and that's it. In Britain however, each choice is analysed minutely.

Host:  "Why did you choose box number four.

Contestant:  "Because it was the number of legs my cat had"

Host: (Absently as though bored stiff.) "Ooo! Four legs. That's unusual. What was his name? Was he a special cat?"

Contestant:: His name was Piddles.

Host: Piddles?

Contestant: Yes, he kept pissing on the carpet. He was very special indeed.

Host: "Why was that?"

Contestant. "Because he was so tasty."

Host: "Splutter!" (Spits coffee over contestant.)

My Male Staff: "GET ON WITH IT!"

Then there's "I'm a Celebrity Ger Me Out Of Here." This is a so called reality TV show and involves about a dozen F List minor celebrities who are so past it and desperate that they are willing to take part in a show that sees them eat mushed up cockroaches, mice tails and other such delights while camping out in what is supposed to be a remote Australia jungle, but is actually the grounds of a four star resort close to the Gold Coast. Another ordeal makes them grope around in boxes of creepy crawlies in search of various items. When they've had enough torture they are encouraged to shout "I'm a celebrity get me out of here." University Challenge it ain't.

So, my male staff and I were sitting in his mum and dad's lounge watching this sort of stuff and he turned to me as I was munching on a pile of lettuce and capsicum on the sofa and said. "Crap on the telly tonight Billy."
Being an obliging sort of a cavy I did just that. On the telly, beside the telly and all around the telly. Then my male staff complained when he trod in it and squashed it into the carpet. Honestly, sometimes you just can't win.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Come The Revolution

I don't want to worry you unnecessarily but sooner or later you humans will relax your guard and then we animals will take over the world, and quite naturally as creatures of superior intelligence (Apart from Badger of course.) cavies, and in particular guinea pigs will inherit the earth. So, come the revolution comrades there will be quite a few changes made. You humans have had your chance to make the world work and quite frankly you've totally stuffed things up. Even the dinosaurs did a better job when they were in charge and they were forty ton creatures with brains the size of a pea. Anyway, you'll all be extinct soon because you've poisoned the air you breath, eaten all the fish in the sea and chopped down all the rain forests to grow stupid palm oil that even rabbits won't eat and they're not fussy. All your politicians are corrupt, even though they all pretend that they're not. All, that is, except for Signor Berlusconi who doesn't pretend anything. He's absolutely blatent about it. I suppose a man who owns most of his nation's media can afford to be. When you look at it like that you might say that he is the planet's most honest politician.
What follows are a few of the laws that will apply as soon as we guinea pigs have deposed the current crappy batch of so called world leaders.

Neighbours" and "Home and Away" will, with immediate effect be removed from the airways & replaced with some sort of entertainment.

Guns will be confiscated from humans. Their brains are too primitive to be able to handle them safely.

Anyone caught drink driving will be sentenced to drink a gallon of cheap tequila and eat six slightly off donner kebabs within an hour.

Anyone abandoning an animal will be summarily sentenced to death by elephant trampling.

Humans found talking or texting on a mobile phone while driving will be sentenced to having their phone rammed up their bottom passage sideways...............on vibrate mode.

Any human caught throwing a cigarette butt from his or her car will be force-fed the contents of a Malaysian bar's ashtray.

Racial abuse and racial discrimination will be punished by having the perpetrator indellibly spray painted the same colour as their victim.

Airports rostering only two immigration officials to handle fourteen arriving Airbus A380s will be closed and turned into crappy down market shopping malls. Many airports are already halfway there anyway.

Shops and shopping malls displaying Christmas decorations prior to the tenth of December will have the offending decorations torn down, confiscated and made into those nice silver, heat retaining blankets which will be distributed among the world's homeless.

Managers of shops and shopping malls broadcasting Christmas music before the tenth of December will be locked into a sound proof cell and forced to listen to "There's No One Quite Like Grandma" on a loop for twenty four hours.

People writing to newspapers to complain about speeding fines will have to swap their car for a unicycle.

These simple laws will form the basis of the new regime. Anyone who has read "Animal Farm" will know the score, except for all that bollocks about all animals being equal. Humans will be second class citizens - obviously. They will be forced to live in crowded, disease ridden ghettos like Sydney, San Diego and Harrogate. Animals will not be required to work, except for horses of course. Their job will be to fertilize my parsley and coriander. Viva le Revolution Comrades. By the way you can all call me Che in future.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Far Canal

What fun! My male staff and I took his mum to Foxton Locks in Leicestershire. It's only a ten minute drive from his mum and dad's house in Market Harborough, so we figured it should be reasonably safe to let my male staff operate the car. So we loaded the car up with my male staff's mum's wheelchair and walking frame and headed for Foxton Locks. We'd got about halfway there and were having a nice time listening to the radio (I was dancing to a typically cheerful ditty by Leonard Cohen.) when we realised that we had forgotten to load up my male staff's mum.

Never mind. A quick handbrake turn in the High Street and we were heading back home. This manoeuvre somewhat surprised a policeman on a push-bike who lost his balance and fell in a puddle. Fortunately we ran over his fingers before he could write down our registration number. Back at the house my male staff's mum was still standing by the side of the road looking somewhat puzzled. We bundled her into the car and set off again. Ten minutes later we reached Foxton Locks. It's an historic and scenic series of canal locks that clamber up a hill, it's quite a spectacular site. Not sure which canal it is. It may be the Far Canal that my male staff is always going on about.

Once we arrived at the Locks my male staff prised his mum from the car and deposited her in her wheelchair which immediately took off down the hill because he'd neglected to apply the handbrake thingy. With a cry of "Far Canal!" my male staff leapt into action. He's really quite agile for a one hundred kilogram gorilla and he caught up with wheelchair just before it tipped into the canal much to the disappointment of the many onlookers. At this point, as he was asking his mum if she was alright and whether or not she needed to go to the toilet, a movement caught his eye. The Far Canal once more got a loud mention as my male staff noticed that he also forgotten to apply the handbrake on the car and it was slowly rolling towards the water.
He shoved his mum in the wheelchair at the nearest bystander with a cry of "Quick! Grab this." and raced off to save the car. He leapt head first through the open door and jammed on the handbrake as the car teetered on the brink. This was turning into a very good day. While all this happening I was happily munching on some grass but I had to pause to applaud this rather marvelous display of incompetence.

After all this excitement we needed a cup of coffee, well I didn't - the humans did. I would have preferred to have stayed where I was, surrounded by juicy green grass. However, there were ducks about and we all know how vicious they can be. So I toddled along behind my male staff who was pushing his mum along in her wheelchair. After what seemed to be an eternity we found a coffee shop. Sadly the door was too narrow for the wheelchair. My male staff has never been a great judge of distance (For example, he always underestimates the space between his ears.) and the wheelchair jammed in the doorway, almost catapulting his mum out of the chair. With his mum jammed fast in the door, my male staff had to climb over her and the wheelchair to order her a cup of coffee, which she then had to drink while wedged between the door posts. She didn't mind, but the queue of people behind her were a bit put out at having to clamber over her in order to get to their morning coffee. In the end, my male staff had to borrow another customer's ham sandwich to lubricate the door posts with butter in order to free the wheelchair. It was a great morning's entertainment which left me so exhausted that my male staff's mum had to walk back to the car while I took my life in my paws and rode back in the wheelchair pushed by my male staff.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What's a Grecian Urn?

Busy day today. My male staff's mum came home from hospital and he and I spent the afternoon sorting out her medication. She has to take nine tablets every morning and seven every night. She has steroids to shrink the swelling around her tumour, she has tablets to prevent seizures and one to prevent cramp. There are painkillers, things for her tummy and a calcium tablet the size of a Frisbee. While my male staff sorted them into morning and evening doses I tried each one to make sure they were safe. They were, but now I rattle like a tin drum full of dried peas. I'm looking forward to passing them to see what sort of effect they have on my bush chocolate. Many of the tablets are bush chocolate shaped, so I'm interested to see whether or not passing through my digestive system alters their appearance at all.

Other things less important than the shape of my bush chocolate have been happening in the world today too.
Insignificant things like the Eurozone's third largest economy teetering on the brink of a large toilet, threatening to flush the rest of the world's economy into the financial sewer with it. It seems Signor B has been spending rather too much on young prostitutes and pizzas, and who can blame him, we all like a good pizza now and again. However if it means bringing the world's economy to it's knees most of us would probably resist the temptation.  At the same time Greece's moussaka mines and ouzo wells are all about to close down.
To paraphrase the old joke -
Q. "What's a Grecian urn?"
A. "Too bloody much to sustain a national economy based on the export of feta cheese." 

Of course Britain is somewhat insulated from all the chaos on the continent because shortly after the Falklands War ended Mrs Thatcher employed the Royal Navy to tow the entire island westward because she couldn't stand the smell of garlic wafting across the English Channel from France. This had the added benefit of bring her closer to her two friends across the Atlantic - the somewhat senile Ronald Reagan and the somewhat brutal Augusto Pinochet.

Meanwhile here in jolly old Blighty the Conservative/Liberal Democrat government is up to it's receding chin in bush chocolate, for several reasons actually, but for the moment at least mostly because they've forced Brodie Clark - a senior civil servant with the UK Border Force to resign because he authorised a relaxation of passport checks during the peak summer months. This meant that all sorts of undesirables may have entered Britain undetected. Terrorists, criminals, Australian tourists. The problem is that he says he had the authority to do it from the Home Secretary, Theresa May. Consequently the bush chocolate has hit the fan and the Prime Minister is saying that he backs the Home Secretary all the way. In other words she's as doomed as clump of coriander at a cavy convention. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Granny's Frog Impersonation

I've just returned home from visiting my male staff's mum in hospital with my male staff and his dad. She was quite well, despite living entirely on hospital food for more than a week. My male staff took her some grapes, but I ate those. Very nice they were too. The hospital ward is a depressing place. My male staff's mum - who has an inoperable brain tumour looked to be about the healthiest person there, including many of the nurses. My male staff's mad sister says it is the ATC ward (About To Croak.)

Still, my male staff's mum is doing rather well and expects to be discharged later this week if she doesn't escape first. She'll stay at home with my male staff's dad with the help of carers, but in the end her tumour will expand and worm it's way into vital parts of her brain, and when that happens the steroids that have improved her wellbeing so much over the past week will no longer be effective and she will begin to die. I really can't begin to imagine how my male staff's dad must be feeling as the end of his life's partner's life relentlessly approaches. Meanwhile, my male staff and his mad sister and trying to cope with the sadness of losing their mother by trying to ensure that her remaining days are spent in comfort and dignity.

Spending time with my male staff and his mad sister is like attending an inappropriate joke convention. Maybe it's some sort of defence mechanism, but normal people eavesdropping on them and their sense of humour would probably think them utterly callous bastards. I was with them in a shop on the eve of Halloween when they found some Grim Reaper outfits and were discussing the possibility of wearing them into the ATC ward and saying "Right then you lot. Everyone get on the bus please."

I think they must get their macabre sense of humour from their mother. This is one of her favourite jokes.
A little girl - six year old Jennifer, was playing with her granny while her mummy was out shopping.
  "Granny?" She said.
  "Yes Sweetie."
  "Granny, will you do your frog impersonation?"
  "What do you mean Jennifer? Said Granny, a liitle puzzled. "I can't do a frog impersonation."
  "Yes you can Granny." Insisted Jennifer. "Mummy said you could."
  "Mummy did?"
  "Yes. I heard her say "I hope Granny croaks soon, then we'll all be rich." 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mike Tyson Lookalikes

My male staff and I were at Brisbane airport. He was playing with his computer and I was scuttling about the floor scaring the living daylights out of little old ladies by running between their legs squealing like a girl. Such fun. I like to see how often I can get the paramedics called out per hour. So far my personal best is seven. I'm aiming for double figures next time I visit an airport.

A few minutes before we were due to board the flight my male staff decided that his bladder needed to be relieved of some of it's contents. Must have been the bottle of chardonnay he'd guzzled before we checked in. So he tottered off to the gents with me balanced precariously on his shoulder. As he stood there at the urinal sighing with relief his trouser button suddenly gave way to the immense pressure from his belly and plopped into the pretty yellow liquid in the bowl in front of him where is bobbed jauntily like a little life raft. For a moment I could see that he was tempted to roll op his sleeves and fish it out. This was an unnerving moment because I really didn't want him to bend over and tip me in with his button. Luckily with a soft but heartfelt "Bollocks!" he hoiked up his zip, which was now the only thing keeping his trousers up, washed his hands, dried them on my fur (There were no paper towels.) and boarded the plane. It was hard for him to walk properly because he had a hold his trousers up with one hand, carry his hand luggage with the other and balance a furry mammal on his shoulder.

The result of all this was that when he let go of his trousers to put his hand luggage in the overhead locker they slipped down and settled around his ankles. Actually he did very well not to trip over them and I could tell that the other passengers were very impressed with his blue and white striped underwear. Thankfully they were clean on less than a week ago. This happened several times during the twenty three hour journey and provided a great source of entertainment for both passengers and crew alike. I could see them nudging each other and whispering to their neighbours. "Pssst. Look, he's going to get up again. Better cover little Emily's eyes."

Trouser incident aside it was an uneventful trip and having spent a night a male staff's mad sister's house we went to see male staff's mum in hospital. Once again I was smuggled into the ward by being stuffed down the front of my male staff's newly mended trousers and ordered not to make any sudden moves. I was sneaked past the Mike Tyson lookalike nurses and then my male staff sat down by his mum's bed and opened his fly so that I could poke my head out and eat his mum's grapes. So there we sat - the five of us, my male staff, his mad sister, his dad, his mum and yours truly all looking at each other and making stilted conversation. At least the other four did, I stuffed myself with grapes until I felt sick. Now and again a Mike Tyson lookalike would come in to check on my male staff's mum and I would have to be hurriedly tucked back into my male staff's trousers without getting my fur caught in his zip. Heaven knows what the Mike Tyson lookalike thought was going on when she came into the room to find my male staff frantically stuffing something hairy back into his fly.

Anyway, the good news is that we've been back to see my male staff's mum a couple of times now, and each time she's looked better. The poor old thing has an inoperable brain tumour and it had been growing and putting pressure on her brain, causing seizures and other symptoms. They've got her on steroids now which shrink the swelling around the tumour but don't affect the tumour itself unfortunately. They also give her biceps like Sylvester Stallone but that's a small price to pay.    

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jenny The Hamster

I am constantly astounded at the stupidity and arrogance of humans. They really are the most obnoxious living things on the planet. You're not of course. You've proved that you have excellent taste and intelligence simply by choosing to read my blog. But as for the rest of you - what a bunch of arse-holes!  Let me give you an example. A human dives into the ocean where there are known to be great white sharks. He swims around doing a more than passable impression of a seal and then surprise surprise he gets eaten. Then the rest of the human race wants to kill the shark for doing what nature intended him to do - eat things that look like seals. It's like my male staff going out and spending all day in the sun unprotected, then being shocked and horrified when he gets sunburned and insists that the sun be turned off.

To make matters worse you humans are the cause of these sharks coming closer to the shore in the first place, because you've eaten all the damned fish so that the sharks have to swim closer to the shore to get a feed. Look, if you don't want to be eaten by something large and wet stay out of the ocean. You're not likely to be attacked by a great white shark in a shopping mall are you? True you might be trampled by a one hundred and fifty kilogram teenager coming out of McDonalds - but that's the just the risk you take, you're in their environment, now and again you're going to get trampled. Just don't be surprised when it happens. Okay, rant over for now, just until you humans do something else stupid though.

Last night my male staff received a phone call from his mad sister in England. Mad sister said that their mother is very ill again. The brain tumour that there mother was diagnosed with back in May this year (See ) has started to do it's evil work and she's had to go into hospital again. She's been having seizures and is more confused than my male staff when he's confronted with one of those new fangled "computer thingys". So once again we're packing to travel around the world. This time my female staff and Badger are staying behind, my female staff to work on her shoe collection and Badger to work on his ever expanding butt. I'm looking forward to visiting my male staff's mum in hospital again. I had so much fun last time. (See ) I'm also looking forward to see my male staff's mum. She's a lovely lady who adores little fluffy things like yours truly. I love hearing about the time she revived my male staff's pet Hamster when my male staff was little (About twenty nine I think.) Jenny the hamster was seemingly an ex-hamster until my male staff's mum took her into the warmth of her own bed, massaged her little heart and dosed her with brandy through a dropper. Lo and behold, she came back to life, resurrected like Jesus himself - only with bigger cheek pouches. Jenny lived for several months after that. I think she died of an alcoholism related illness eventually.

Ah well. Back to the packing. See you in England.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Festival Victims

The Chinese call them Festival Victims. They are people who feel obliged to buy all their friends and relatives cards and presents for every festival - and the Chinese have a lot of festivals. They've not helped themselves by adding Christian festivals to their list, like Easter and Christmas. Festival Victims are constantly short of both time and money. They spend all their money on gifts and cards and all their time shopping for them. Here in Australia we don't have as many festivals, we just make the ones we do have last longer.

Christmas now lasts from mid-September to Boxing Day and Easter lasts from mid-January till whenever Easter Monday is. Usually a Monday funnily enough. In between there are birthdays, Valentines Day, Fathers' Day, Mothers' Day, even Halloween. Have I missed anything? Probably. All these offer endless opportunities to send you broke, or at the very least put you in debt for the rest of your life. My male staff took me through our local shopping mall the other day. He'd normally avoid going to the mall as though it was a morgue full of bloated corpses. (Actually many of the occupants are indeed bloated and on a hot day a lot of them smell like corpses.) But on this occasion it proved to be the quickest route to the bank. He had some money to deposit and he couldn't fit it into his wallet because it was so full of moths. So we strode through the mall with me sitting on my male staff's shoulder, taking lengthy detours around the huge butts of porky people pushing shopping trollies full of junk food and toilet rolls and protecting our ears from the high pitched squalling of snotty-nosed brats throwing tantrums because mummy dared to refuse to buy them a seventh doughnut. (Mummy will probably end up in court for abusing the little shit's human rights.) Then my male staff looked up and I heard him gasp and breath something that sounded like "Plucking Gel!" I looked around expecting to see a shop selling some sort of aid to de-feathering chickens, but no. He had seen Christmas decorations hanging from the ceiling.

Remember, this is mid-October. We hadn't even got to Halloween yet. That's another so called festival that gets up my male staff's goat. He says that when he was a kid they'd occasionally have a small party with apple bobbing and fancy dress. In good years they'd use real apples for apple bobbing. When things weren't so good they had to use stones, which of course didn't float so drownings were common. But he said the kids didn't let the odd death spoil the party. It was all part of the fun. Now kids between two and twenty-five years old feel entitled to wander around their neighbourhood begging from door to door, dropping dog poo through the letter boxes of anyone who refuses to give in to their demands. Apparently it's called "Trick or Treat." My male staff calls it extortion with menaces.

Anyway, finally we reached the bank amid a flurry of dark mutterings from my male staff about it only being October and that if he were Prime Minister he would ban Christmas decorations from being displayed until the tenth of December at the earliest and that any Easter eggs that appear on shop shelves prior to the first of March will be confiscated and distributed among the poor and homeless.................and him. He says all this legislation would be passed within a month of his being voted into office, unless the Christmas recess gets in the way of course. In which case it would probably have to wait until after Easter.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Home Sweet Home

The best thing about returning home to Australia from a long trip overseas is that you no longer feel obliged to tip anyone. At least that's what my male staff says, but then he's notoriously tight fisted. The best tip he ever gave anyone was "Be good to your mother." That went down very well with the porter at Nairobi airport who was so impressed with this wise advice that he dropped my female staff's thirty kilogramme suitcase on my male staff's foot. Personally I just enjoy getting home to find that all our friends have survived in my absence. Paolo and Biggles the budgies came back from the Pet Resort in one piece. We were all a bit worried about them because the resort owner was keeping her pet python in the same room. Despite this they survived, either that or they got eaten on the first day and the resort owner bought two identical budgies before my staff returned.

Mary the half tame Magpie is fine, though she's hatched a couple of chicks since we left and they follow her around all day squeaking at the top of their voices and the only way to shut them up is to cram their beaks full of worms. Once she's done this the little buggers go off quite happily and find their own worms for five minutes until they get bored and start squeaking at Mary again. Poor thing. She's looking a bit harassed at the moment. She says she's looking forward to chasing the little bastards away when their old enough. Her husband - Manfred, is nowhere to be seen. Mary says that this is typical and that he's probably over at his friend's nest swilling beer and watching porn.

Bubble and Barnabas the two butcher birds are okay too. They look so alike that my staff find it difficult to tell them apart. They play on this fact at feeding time and often come separately in order to confuse my staff, which let's face it is not that hard. They'll feed one who'll then fly away. Five minutes later there'll be another butcher bird on the deck and my staff won't know whether or not it's the one they've just fed, so they dish out more food. This goes on for a while until one or other of the birds says something. That gives the game away because they have different voices. Barnabas always sounds hoarse, as though he's been yelling for an hour or two, and Bubble sounds like a butcher bird should.
Then there are the two guinea fowl - Patch and Peanut. They don't really belong to my staff at all. Our neighbours had a flock of fourteen who used to spend more time in our garden than in their own. They were quite useful in keeping the tick and leech numbers down to mere plague proportions, but then the neighbours moved away and couldn't be bothered rounding up the guinea fowl. They were left to fend for themselves, which they did quite admirably until a fox discovered them and thought all his Christmases had come at once. Now there are only two left - Patch and Peanut. They are obviously the wariest and wisest of the flock. Mind you, wise is only a relative term when it comes to guinea fowl. They make Badger look smart. Still, it was nice to see them when we got home, even if they did swear at us when we got out of car because their memories are so feeble that they didn't recognise us.

It's odd that nothing truly calamitous happened while we were away. Something major nearly alway occurs when my male staff leaves the country. He was en-route to London when 9/11 happened. He was in Botswana at the time of the 2004 tsunami. He was in Tokyo when they had an earthquake and didn't even know until he got home and he was in Borneo when Julia Gillard stabbed Kevin Rudd in the back and pinched his job. So all in all it was a relief to get home to find that nothing much had changed. Julia Gillard is still Prime Minister and her government is still incompetent. Tony Abbott is still leader of the opposition and is still certifiably insane. Even Colonel Gaddafi had the good manners to wait until we returned to Australia before getting himself killed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pink Lard

One of the most entertaining things about visiting Kenya is listening to the American tourists speaking Swahili.
The Kenyans tried their best to teach them to say Jambo (Hello), but it never sounded quite right with an American accent, especially those from the "Deeyup sayuth". It always came out as "Jayumboh."
 "Almost." The patient Kenyan would say. "But it's supposed to rhyme with Rambo."
 "Thayats what ahh sayud - Jayumboh."
 "Mmmm. Try to rhyme it with mambo then."
 "Okay." Says the slightly less patient Kenyan. "Let's try something else. Habari za asabuhi. (Good morning.)
 "Habairy zah ayasabbooeye."
 Impatient Kenyan. "Whatever!"

Still, at least they tried the local language bless 'em. And at least they are quiet when on safari so as not to scare the animals. It was easy to tell when a group of Spanish tourists were approaching the lodge in which we were staying. Their arrival was preceded by a stampede of all types of animals running to get away from their constant yabbering. I thought my staff could talk, but they are rank amateurs compared to our Spanish friends. It would be an absolute miracle if they ever saw an animal at all - apart from Badger and I. They yakked non-stop from morning till night. Obviously they thought it more important to discuss the price of paella, who the latest matador to get a horn up his bottom passage was, why anybody ever thought Picasso could paint, why Kenyans can't make a decent cafe con leche, how on earth "Barthelona" manged to lose to Real Madrid - at home. In short anything except why it is a good idea just to shut up for five minutes so that you can see the animals that you've just paid thousands of euros and travelled thousands of miles for.

Anyway, my staff didn't really care because they had their own safari vehicle. This meant that we could ride along with them as long as we promised not to tease the elephants. Frankly I was surprised that we were allowed out of our room following the debacle in Prague. See We were in a part of Kenya called Samburu, which is Swahili for "Second home of the talkative Spaniards." It was very hot and dry, which meant that lettuce was in short supply. There were plenty of thorn trees though, and I'm taking serious thorns here. Elephants use them as toothpicks. There were dik diks everywhere you looked. The dik dik is a tiny antelope, not much bigger than a guinea pig. They live in pairs and mate for life. If one dies the other simply pines to death. It's horrible. My female staff wanted to pick them all up and squeeze them - as if they haven't got enough to worry about with leopards, cheetahs, lions and eagles the size of small commercial aircraft. My male staff told us that if you see one dik dik on it's own it's just a dik, but I think the only dik in Samburu was him.

So we spent a bizarre few days in Kenya. My staff went out in their safari vehicle twice a day to look at animals when they could have stayed in our room and looked at Badger and I for nothing. At mealtimes we listened to the Kenyans' despairing attempts to teach the Americans Swahili and the Spaniards drone on about whatever Spaniards drone on about. Never mind. We're home now thank heavens. At last Badger and I can sleep in our own beds and don't have to share one with my staff. As the trip went on my staff's girths expanded expanentially' leaving us with less and less room and more and more chance of being squished when one or the other rolled over in their sleep. Let me tell you, the ever present danger of being crushed under mountains of pink lard does not make for a peaceful night's slumber. In fact I think I overheard our Kenyan guide saying that Samburu had no hippos until my staff showed up.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Cavy up my Cassock

My staff recently took Badger and I to Prague for a few days. Prague is the capital city of the Czech Republic and the first thing that struck me was that they need to change their national flag to something more appropriate. The flag they have is too dull. Badger and I came up with something much better. What they should have is a large sausage and two dumplings on a beer coloured background. The beer coloured background represents the fact that the Czechs are the world’s largest consumers of beer per capita. The two dumplings and the sausage should be arranged to form a representation of the male genitalia and serves to represent both the national food and the Czech Republic’s largest export – internet pornography.

Prague’s a lovely old city, though it’s cobbled streets are a bit rough on the claws, but at least we shouldn’t have to pay a visit to the vet for nail trimming for a while. There were lots of old buildings to interest my staff, but the market was all sausages and no lettuce, so we found that a bit boring. Eventually my staff tired of wandering around gazing at old things. Don’t know why we had to go all the way to Prague for them to do that. They could have done that at home simply by looking in the mirror or at each other. Mind you, it has to be said that many of the old buildings in Prague are better preserved than my staff. So, eventually my staff sat down at an outdoor cafĂ© and ordered a beer each. Seeing the size of the glass of beer – easily enough to drown a large hairy guinea pig in – Badger and I decided to do a little exploring on our own. So while my staff were busy swilling their amber nectar and collecting white froth on the end of their noses we scuttled away across the market square in the direction of a large church which had two pointy spires.

Once inside we found a whole lot of men in frocks carrying candles and before you could say “Cavy up my Cassock” they had cavies up their cassocks. What fun that was. They man who’s cassock I invaded was so shocked that he set fire to the cassock of the man in front of him with his candle. At that point we thought we’d better make ourselves scarce, so we scarpered up the steps leading up to the twin spires. It was a long way up those steps but we were fired by adrenalin due to the half dozen or so men in frocks threatening us with unspeakable acts with their candles. I’ve always maintained that religion causes nothing but trouble. We had no problem eluding our pursuers who had no answer to our athlissisim………athleticcissm………athlettis…………fitness, and we soon found ourselves at the top of the spires from where we had a splendid view of the square below and of my staff who had finished their beer and appeared to be locked in animated conversation with members of the local constabulary – and the police too. 

It turned out that my staff had reported us missing – once they’d finished guzzling beer.
Unfortunately, probably due to the language barrier, (My staff only speak Gibberish.) the police got the wrong end of the stick and assumed that we were their children (Heaven forbid.) and mobilised most of the force and a couple of helicopters in a bid to find us before we fell into the hands of people even more perverted than my staff. The cops were not amused when it turned out they were looking for a couple of furry fugitives and arrested my staff for wasting police time. They were going to charge them for the cost of two hours helicopter time, but my male staff burst into tears, so they released them both to get a bit of peace and quiet, plus my male staff borrowed the chief constables handkerchief and the police station had entirely run out of paper tissues. I rather liked Prague.    

Friday, September 30, 2011

My Male Staff's Mum

I think my male staff's mum is probably the bravest human I know. For one thing she had to put up with having my male staff in her tummy for ten months because he didn't want to be born so close to Christmas and thus be deprived of two lots of presents. He made the poor woman wait until the first of February before gracing the world with his somewhat tardy presence. He weighed almost eleven pounds by that stage. It must have been like giving birth to a watermelon. Rumour has it that the instead of slapping his bottom, the nurse had to give him his first shave.

Five months ago she was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour. The surgeons removed as much of it as was safe, but the evil thing had spread it's tentacles deep into her brain. I was sitting on my male staff's lap at her hospital bedside when the specialist oncologist nurse told her the prognosis. Without radio therapy she had three to four months, with radio therapy - six to nine months. She absorbed this news with great stoicism, it was a display of the Great British stiff upper lip at it's very best. There were no histrionics, wailing or gnashing of teeth that would have accompanied the delivery of such news to my male staff. She quietly chose to have the treatment that would keep the tumour at bay for just a few extra precious months.

She's at home now and getting on with life as best she can. My male staff's dad looks after her to the best of his ability, but his health is failing too and now his hair which was always as thick and healthy as mine has started to fall out in great clumps every time he combs it. My male staff's mum is now bald, the radio therapy saw to that. It's also left her thin, weak and tired, and she looks so small and vulnerable. My male staff says that she was always such a robust woman. He is able to walk tirelessly for mile after mile after mile, and he puts this down to pre-school training with his mum. As a toddler she'd take him and their boxer dog Jonathon for long walks in the English countryside in all weathers. My male staff would start off in a pushchair and Jonathon would trot along behind. Invariably Jonathon would tire first, and when he did, he'd just sit down and refuse to go any further. At this point my male staff would be turfed out of the pushchair and Jonathon would jump in to be pushed home in comfort while my male staff walked along behind on his chubby, but very sturdy legs.

Now she takes pleasure in small outings to garden centres and the like. She's always loved her garden and is proud of it even now. It's always full of colour and interest at any time of year. She potters about the garden centre with her stick and enjoys a sit down and a cup of coffee and a cake when she gets tired, which is all too soon these days. All this makes my male staff feel sad and helpless and even cuddles from Badger and I don't really help. He says it like having a photo of his mum - like the ones that Michael J Fox had in the movie "Back to the Future". The characters in the picture fades slowly away as his attempts to change history fail. My male staff says that feeling must be all the more intense for his dad after nearly sixty years of marriage. What must that feel like, to watch your life partner slowly fade away until one day there is nothing left at all?   

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Writhing Blouse

Once again, on the plane from Dubai to London Badger and I were kept firmly under control. We were placed into our staff's seat-back pockets and ordered not to leave them. It wasn't too bad. If we wheeked loud enough we were hand fed limp airline lettuce to shut us up before the cabin crew found us. Getting us through security was a bit of an ordeal. My female staff decided that the best way was for us to be shoved up her blouse so that she looked like a typical fifty four year old pregnant lady and as such would not attract unwanted attention. We were advised not to wriggle about too much, but we hadn't been inside my female staff's blouse before so we were keen to explore. There were all sorts of lumps and bumps up there and a little hole with lots of fluff in. Anyway, our exploring must have attracted the attention of one of the nice security ladies because we heard someone say "Excuse me madam, Your stomach appears to be moving." My female staff said, " Oh. it's just my baby. I've had a curry and that always makes him kick a bit." The woman wasn't convinced and asked my female staff to lift her arms above her head so that she could take a closer look. My staff thought the game was up then and were convinced that we would all be sent back to Australia. However, just as the security woman was taking a closer look at my female staff's writhing blouse I poked my head out between two of the buttons. The poor woman had obviously recently watched the movie "Alien". Anyway, for whatever reason, at the sight of my furry face peering at her the woman passed out, and in the ensuing confusion my staff were able to step over her prone body and onto the plane.

Less than ten hours later we were at my male staff's sister's house and munching on some lovely fresh capsicum. The only downside of staying with my male staff's sister is that she has a large hairy thing with big teeth and a very smelly bottom passage. No, not her husband. She has a dog. Funny things dogs, they'll eat anything - including guinea pigs if they get the chance. Naturally I had to bite her tail at the first opportunity just to show her who was in charge. Once she understood the basic fact that guinea pigs are at the top of the food chain we got along famously and by the end of the day Badger and I were riding about the house on the dog's back. It was fun until she decided to roll over.

A couple of days later My staff, my male staff's poorly mum and his Auntie took us to lunch at a nice pub. We all ate heaps but the servings were enormous and there were plenty of leftovers which the daft humans decided to take home for my male staff's sister's dog. There were great chunks of chicken, a large piece of fish and about a kilo of chips. All this they wrapped up neatly in a couple of paper napkins. My male staff then asked for the bill, which was produced with alarming promptness. My male staff obviously looks the type to do a runner, not that anyone could possibly run after stashing away the amount of food that he just had. With a great show of reluctance he paid the bill and everyone waddled out of the pub. We were driving home when my male staff's Mum mentioned that we had forgotten to leave a tip. This alone wouldn't have mattered too much as tipping is not really customary in Britain, but the fact that we'd left the napkins filled with leftovers on the table made all the humans cringe a little. They all hoped that the poor waitress didn't think that it was her tip. In any case, the humans decided that they probably wouldn't go back there for a while just in case.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Just Desserts

Will someone out there please called the RSPCA or some other animal welfare organisation please. My staff are being horribly cruel to Badger and I. They promised us a dessert safari, so we were all geared up for a feast of berries and apples and stuff. Badger even cleaned his teeth in readiness for the banana he thought he was going to get. In the end all we got was sand - in each and every one of our piggy orifices
We'd been warned to expect a bumpy ride in a four wheel drive thingy up and down some sand dunes on the way to the dessert place. Unfortunately Badger threw up in the hotel lift on the way down to the lobby. I'd warned him not to eat the entire bowl of tabbouleh at lunch time, but he wouldn't listen. He was resting in the crook of my female staff's arm. It was a crowded lift and there was a tall, elegant man wearing a beautiful, dazzling white robe standing in front of my female staff. Luckily he had his back to her because suddenly Badger's head started to swivel three hundred and sixty degrees a la Linda Blair. Then whoops-a-daisy, up came about a litre of bright green tabbouleh all over the man's back in a perfect green stripe from top to bottom of his robe. Amazingly he didn't notice and strode out of the lift, through the lobby and climbed into a nice Rolls Royce with beautiful white leather seats, into which he settled comfortably, totally unaware of the colourful surprise that awaited him at his destination.

So, after all that Badger was feeling much better as we sat in the vehicle swishing up and down the sand dunes along with a great convoy of other cars. Eventually we came to a big enclosure, outside of which were a dozen large snorting things with humpy backs. My female staff immediately squealed like a girl and ran over to them. Still clutching Badger she climbed onto the hump of one of these creatures and another man in a nice white robe led her around in a wide circle. Naturally I was concerned for the well being of the man's robe given Badger's proximity, but all was well and soon we were all ensconced within the enclosure. My staff were cross legged, seated on plush cushions at a low table piled high with barbecued meat of all kinds. It was disgusting. Meat and sand everywhere and but no dessert to seen. Then a rude lady came out and started waggling her belly around in time to music. I hate music and was forced to run up my male staff's shirt to protect my ears. Unfortunately it had been a hot sweaty afternoon and I soon ran back down again holding my nose. I don't think my male staff has heard of deodorant. He seemed to enjoy the rude lady, but my female staff didn't seem to enjoy the fact that he was enjoying the rude lady. I think she's been taking death stare lessons from Badger.

So, the upshot of this experience is that we've all learned valuable lessons. Badger now knows that it's not really a good idea to eat an entire bowl of tabbouleh in one sitting. My female staff now knows that my male staff shouldn't be exposed to rude ladies. My male staff has learned to pretend not to look at rude ladies if he is fortunate enough to be exposed to them, and I have learned to let the difference between a dessert and a desert.  


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Furry Gattling Guns

Badger and I had to spend the entire flight from Singapore to Dubai in our staff's seat back pockets because they didn't want a repeat of us chewing cables that made the plane go round and round in circles. We were comfortable enough but neither of us could see the movie screen. Instead we had to watch our staff sculling down litres of wine and goodness know much how much airline food. At least they fed us the odd bit of carrot and lettuce now and again.

Let me tell you. Dubai is a bad place for a hairy guinea pig, and not great for a little black, heat absorbing guinea pig like Badger either. This place is seriously hot and seriously humid. It's like being in an oven in which someone has left a bucket of water. (Probably my female staff - knowing her cooking.) My fur is as limp as a six week old lettuce and Badger is sweating like a.........well, like a pig actually. Anyway, we were all very tired by the time we arrived at our hotel. Our room is long way up with a big window that looks out across some roof tops towards the Burj Al Arab Hotel and the Gulf of Arabia beyond that. You might remember the Burj Al Arab Hotel. It has a helicopter pad on the roof from which Tiger Wood once hit a golf ball into the Gulf. Of course that was before his testostricles exploded and he went utterly insane and started cheating on his Scandinavian bikini model wife. I'm glad they didn't pick my male staff to hit the ball into the Gulf - he'd have missed for sure. Mind you, having said that, he would lose half a dozen balls in the water every round he played, so perhaps he wouldn't have been such a bad choice after all.

We'd barely settled into our hotel room when my female staff dragged the rest of us into the humungus shopping mall next door. Shopping malls have the effect of making my male staff's wallet shrivel up in the same way that my testostricles do when my staff mention the vet. Nevertheless despite much whining from him, Badger and myself we quickly found ourself surrounded by designer label shops like Tommy Hilfiger, Breitling and Calvin Klein - where you can buy a pair of  undies for the price of a small car. There was Christian Dior and Armani too. Try as they might my staff couldn't find a K-Mart. Walmart or Target store. What they did find however was a four hundred metre ski slope with real snow. This came as something of a surprise since it was forty-two degrees centigrade outside and a ski slope is not really what you expect to find in a shopping mall anyway.

It was facinating. The place had a proper ski lift and everything. There was even a cafe called San Moritz which had a synthetic log fire and served fondu. In a way, it summed up what Dubai is all about - artificiality. Never mind. Badger and I had a lot of fun. My male staff hired a snow board for us, took us to the top of the slope and gave us a shove. Badger closed his eyes and prayed, while I wheeked at the top of my piggy voice. Close to the bottom of the slope we ran into a lady in a burqa which sent us flying into a snowdrift - pigs really do fly. We were stuck fast, buried up to our hind legs which we wiggled frantically in a bid to get free and shot out bush chocolate like a couple of furry gattling guns. After what seemed like hours my female staff pulled us out and brushed the snow out of our fur. Boy did my male staff get a death stare from Badger. I wouldn't like to have been on the receiving end of that. We really have something to look forward to tomorrow. My male staffs says we're all going out to see the dessert. I can almost taste the strawberries, grapes, bananas, blueberries and watermelon already.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Next Stop Dubai

So, after an hour or two frantic last minute packing we finally set off to England to see my male staff's poorly Mum. I've refused to travel in the checked in luggage so Badger will be in my female staff's hand baggage and I'll me in my male staff's.  You may remember my last trip to England. I was in the checked in luggage then, which wasn't too bad on the way out. But coming back was rather unpleasant as I had to share a case with a big pile of dirty underwear and socks. I still can't get the smell out of my fur. Badger was jet lagged before we reached the airport, at least he had all the symptoms - puckered mouth, staring eyes, swollen backside. Mind you he always looks like that so who knows.

The flight stself was fairly uneventful. My staff let us out of their hand luggage so that we could scuttle around on the floor between people's feet. It was fun because many of the ladies had removed their shoes and squealed surprisingly loudly when they found small hairy rodents nibbling at their feet. I guess airline passengers don't often get that - not even on Qantas let alone a reputable airline like Emirates. We also whiled away the hours and assuaged our hunger by gnawing at some cables that Badger found. I think one of them might have been connected to the rudder because we went round in circles for ages before we finally landed in Singapore.  I've been there before, remember?

We had a short layover at Singapore Airport. Well, it was supposed to be a short layover, but my stupid staff didn't tell me we were only supposed to be there for an hour, so Badger and I decided to explore. Mostly because we were hungry. There was not a single vegetable to be seen on the plane (Apart from my male staff.) All Badger and I had to eat on the seven hour fllight from Brisbane was a handful of our own bush chocolate and some dead skin from people's feet. Anyway the airport was no more fruitful, but we had a nice time running up and down the vast expanses of carpet. We lost track of time though unfortunately. Well, how were we to know that our staff had most of Singapore Airport's security team out looking for us. They went through every passenger's bags, hoping to find us hidden within. They x-rayed each and every suitcase, but we were nowhere to be seen. My staff pleaded with the cabin crew not to let the captain take off without us. In the end they found us behind the counter at the Subway restaurant vacuuming up bits of lettuce that had fallen out of people's foot long thingies.

Jeez! What a fuss everyone made. The captain glared at us and tutted while tapping his watch, and the look that the other passengers gave us as we boarded the plane would have soured a cucumber. We were only four hours late for heavens sake. How were we to know that the silly airline has something it calls a schedule.
It didn't faze Badger in any case. He made sure he gave every single passenger an extra cold death stare before settling in the the seat back pocket in front of my male staff.  Whoo Hoo! Next stop Dubai.