In which our intrepid hero voyages to the Land of the Long Red Neck.

For those of you who have never done spent time on the real Gold Coast, here are the facts.

The local dish is deep-fried lard… in batter… with cream and dripping sauce. As you fly overhead on the way to Brisbane, you can hear the soft chorus of Gold Coast residents screaming and clutching at their chests.

The local radio station plays all the crap you never wanted to hear again from the 60s, 70s and 80s, along with—just to prove how hip they really are—Anastacia songs so bad that her record company released them under the Creative Commons Licence.

The locals despise tourists. This, despite the fact that 80% of them only moved here two weeks ago, in order to find somewhere where they could go to the beach without the possible inconvenience of living next door to a Lebanese family. Or a Greek family. Or a Chinese family. Or, for that matter, anyone outside their own gene pool.

And the weather? Fucking hot. The Gold Coast is one of Australia’s fastest growing cities. And, as soon as anyone moves here, they buy air-conditioning and spend all their time indoors if they can help it. Go figure.

The average age, as far as I can tell, is in the mid-hundred-and-forties. They come here because, at their age, cholesterol-induced heart attacks are run of the mill; their brains can’t dissolve any more due to the banal music that infects the airwaves; they’ve never seen anything remotely non-Anglo-Celtic, and they aren’t about to start now; and because no one will notice that the sun shrivels them up like prunes.

Ahem. Spleen vented.

I should also remark that it’s also the only place I’ve ever heard radio ads for cosmetic surgery finance. Man, would I love doing repo work for those guys:

Sorry, ma’am, I’m going to have to repossess your breasts.

Mate, if you didn’t default on your loan, then we wouldn’t need to take your penis augmentation back.

Woooooo! Got your nose! Heh, heh.

And the reason for all this bile is, of course, because I’m currently on the Gold Coast, visiting family for Christmas. Which is kind of like visiting Mogadishu, but without the black people.

Despite this incessant civil unrest, somebody needs to carry on the proud and ancient family tradition of making Christmas puddings, and half of that somebody is yours truly. Sounds quaint, huh?

Fine, lemme give you quaint, then:

  • You are not permitted to know the recipe unless you are a blood relative. So stop asking. I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. And then kill me for telling you in the first place.
  • It takes a minimum of two days to make these things—one to prepare the ingredients and one to cook them—and we managed to pump out a batch of fourteen in one go.
  • It takes approximately three man-hours to make each one—based on the batch of fourteen we made. If you made just one, it’d probably work out to be at least eight man-hours.
  • Blanched almonds you buy in the shops are apparently too dry. Do you have any idea how tedious it is, blanching almonds yourself, then cutting them into quarters? How about seeding dried fruit and pulling stalks out of two kilos of currants because the manufacturers couldn’t be stuffed doing it properly?
  • And then, once it’s finally over, someone whom you love enough to slave over two kilos of currants for turns around and says, “I don’t like puddings. But my cat will eat it.”

If you love your cat, don’t feed it Christmas pudding. Kill it now. It doesn’t deserve a stupid, ungrateful freak like you.

Speaking of cats, the main reason I come up here is to spend time with them, truth be told. Maxi, Rand, Missy… and the other one. Needless to say, I don’t like the fourth one very much. He whines, for a start. He’s also so large that he has his own gravity well. NASA performed a slingshot manoeuvre around his arse on the Cassini mission.

His name is Sammy, which is short for Strategic Asset Management Group. Don’t blame me—my sister named him. And she’s not even particularly a fan of The Young Ones, either. Draw what conclusions you will.

Sammy is also a coward. The vets tell us that this is the result of a bad ketamine trip when he was neutered. He probably also smoked a couple of dozen cones whilst he was there — which might explain why he eats everything in sight. Persistent munchies, or something. What he lacks in leptin receptors, he makes up for in girth.

Maxi, on the other hand, is a lot like myself. If I was a cat. If I’d been desexed. If I was gay. His defining quote would have to be: “If I weren’t so old, I’d rip your fucking eyes out.”

He’s known chiefly for four things: his ability to defeat simple mechanical impediments to his curiosity; the large disparity between said curiosity and his morbid fear of heights; his tendency to stalk people in their sleep and forcibly wash them; and his remarkable ferocity when confronted with worming paste.

The latter is particularly noteworthy. My sister and her husband are no longer foolish enough to attempt it themselves. To this day, vets respond to requests to worm Maxi with brief puzzlement, quickly followed by, “Oh. It’s that cat.”

He actually has a reputation; vets talk about him to each other in hushed tones. We should probably start painting eyeball “kill markers” on his ice-white fur, just to keep a tally.

Rand is, as far as we can tell, not a plant. But it’s a tough call sometimes. She sits in the sun a lot and isn’t really capable of what you, I or any other multicellular, mobile organism could consider cognition. I’ve sneezed things smarter than Rand. But she’s a princess, dainty in her own way, except that she has almost no control over her tail.

Missy is the friendliest, sweetest cat that I’ve ever met; she helped an ex-girlfriend of mine overcome her phobia of cats. Her one failing is that she loves Sammy to death, whereas I can’t stand the whining ball of lard. But she loves everyone, so I guess that’s cool.

Anyway, I’m tired, and my sister has stopped bugging me every forty-five seconds (so she hasn’t seen me in six months? I’ve phoned her regularly, and I told her I had a lot I needed to do whilst I was up here) so I think I’m going to get some rest. Finally.

Good night, all.

*Not that I’m dumping on the CCL; it’s just, when was the last time you heard of a record company willing to forego a chance to make money?