Just voted the web’s sexiest blog. Or was it the one most likely to send you to sleep? Anyway, happy 100 posts.

February 28, 2012

That sound you hear is the uncorking of cheap champers. The cracking of party poppers.

Here in the Executive Offices of the Hold All Tickets corporation, there’s a celebration underway. Our highly paid researchers and writers are letting their sometimes unwashed hair down.

This week, the little blog that usually makes little sense chalked up 100 posts. If you still need the kids to turn the computer on for you, that means I’ve churned out 100 often nonsensical stories

Yep, we’ve hit three figures. And apparently, in the high-powered blogging world, this is something of a big deal.

To mark the occasion, I thought it would be a grand idea to look back at some of our ground-breaking bits.

It all started on March 23 last year. Me, stuck on the lounge, with a dislocated ankle pointing north. Bored to within an inch of my being.

It was suggested that writing a blog would be a good idea. Who for, I’m still not quite sure. So, under the influence of a belly full of powerful yet legal pain relief, the scribbling began.

In that first piece, I promised there would be no home renovation advice, or pasta recipes. I’m happy to say I’ve been true to my word.

What started as weekly ramblings about the racing game, soon expanded to include the chaos that is my life. From one post a week, to two.

We’ve covered all the big issues since day one. From my favourite daytime television shows (Prisoner re-runs), to starting Saturdays with Hannah Montana. (If you don’t know her by now, it’s too late).

A few of you giggled at my hard-luck motoring stories (the only man to start his car with a screwdriver), while others got a kick out of the weird and wonderful friends I found on early morning walks.

Sport has featured prominently. Racing, of course. My initial piece on Black Caviar went out in that very first week. We’ve been celebrating her greatness ever since.

There was State of Origin fun. And lots of debate, on how many years it takes for a bloke to call himself a true Blue Maroon. That will be on again in a few months.

Some of my favourite pieces have involved digging back in time, to recount precious memories with Mum and Dad. It never ceases to amaze me how many of you enjoy such flashbacks. There’ll be more reminiscing, as long as my fading brain cells continue to co-operate.

It must be said, however, that the most popular segments have involved my girls. The Teenager and Daughter Two have become the stars of these pages. By doing nothing more than growing up.

You seem to enjoy my pain, trying to negotiate the rocky yet delicate path that is fatherhood. Especially as I stumble, time and again.

Who would have thought that the bumbling efforts to hide my two junior beauties from young, dangerous males, would give you all such guilty pleasure?

The girls themselves have put up with the madness with good grace. Yes, I know that might change anytime soon. In the meantime, I’ll continue to carefully outline our fun and games.

The wonderful thing about this blogging caper, is your feedback. Everyone has an opinion. Some positive, some negative. All welcome.

I find myself reading other blogs. Some by incredibly talented colleagues sitting a few desks away. Others by people I’ve never heard of, on topics I’ve previously had little interest in.

It seems we all have stories. I’m enjoying telling mine. Sometimes you might doze off halfway through. That’s ok. You might like the next one.

Hopefully you’ve been tickled by something along the way. Even inspired. And if it was just a nod over your Corn Flakes, that’s fine too.

Here’s to the next 100. There’ll be change around us, of course. Sadly, nothing stays the same. We’ll do our best to battle on. And keep writing.

From the entire team, thanks for your support. And tell your friends. Possibly the ones you don’t like. Who knows, if you play your cards right, there might even be a pasta recipe on the way.

My brilliant plan to get Black Caviar back to Brisbane. Just don’t tell The Chief..

February 25, 2012

Sports fans, the time has come. The challenge has been issued. Greatness is within our grasp.

We need a cunning plan. Something that will be so sweet, so enticing, that Peter Moody will have no choice but to again tie up his famous horse to the Doomben rail.

The master trainer is tossing up what to do next with Black Caviar. Will it be Brisbane or Adelaide, for win number 20?

Really, I’m hearing there’s a chance the mighty mare could be heading to the City of Churches. Stop laughing. All I can think is that the team wants a good night’s sleep, given lights will go out there at 10pm.

Normally, I’d be relaxed about our chances. But there’s so much at stake here. I want every Queenslander to have the chance to experience what 20,000 of my mates did last year. So we must get to work.

Keep it between us, but the powers-that-be in our great state have made some quiet approaches to the marketing arm of Hold All Tickets. Smart move.

They realise that there isn’t another blog in the land with access to such a qualified reader base. A bunch dripping with oodles of common sense and bright ideas. Yes, those still in pyjamas, I’m talking about you.

To help, I’ve come up with a preliminary plan, that I think will take some beating. For a modest deposit into my TAB account, I’ll get her back, and have the House Full sign up at Doomben.

It’s all about making Black Caviar’s return to Brisbane a major event. More than just the race. Like the Cup, and the Slipper, and the Stradbroke, it must last for days.

The mare, Moody and Luke Nolen will be required to attend all of my events. Three chairs at the front each and every time. One very big one. For the horse, not the trainer.

There’ll be a lunch, of course. Friday will see us fill the Convention Centre. Bart Sinclair and Wayne Wilson can co-host. And a special guest. I’m going outside the square here. Forget Cummings or Freedman or Glen Boss. This champion will blow Adelaide back into the Great Australian Bight.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome… Chief de Beers! Yes, THE champion of Doomben, back on stage.

Imagine the interview. With the Mighty Mare looking on, eyes menacing, Bart would nervously ask the question everyone in the room wanted to hear.

“So Chief, you won all 20 of your races at Doomben. Black Caviar will be chasing her second. How does she compare to you?”

“Simple”, the old boy would say with a cheeky grin. “Tell her to come and see me after another 18.”

The room would explode. The mare and the police horse would be trading blows centre stage. Wayne would be doing his best to keep Sinclair and Moody apart. The parched jockey would sneak a beer amid the chaos. What theatre. It would lead every news bulletin across the land.

Saturday, we’ll need something different. This is no normal day. And it all starts before we get to the course.

I propose a street parade. Down the length of Racecourse Rd. From the pub to the track. They’ll fly flags, and wear salmon and black hats, and cheer until they’re hoarse for the horse.

We’ll put the mare, Moody and Nolen in their own special vehicles. An open top BMW for the boys. An open top float with extra hay for Her Majesty. 4TAB and Sky Channel could do crosses along the route.

No need to explain the race itself. She’ll look after that side of things. Which takes us to Saturday night.

I would propose a free beer for every Queenslander at the Hamilton Hotel. Clive Palmer, are you listening? Ditch that soccer club, and spend your cash where it will be appreciated. For an hour at least.

From there, the entire race day crowd will head to the Brekky Creek pub. One famous steak per person. Compulsory. Two for the trainer. A snag for the jockey. And some A-grade hay for the horse. Thanks Clive.

So there we have it. When you see Queensland Events outline the above at a special media conference in a few months, remember where you read it first.

Reserve your spot for the street parade now. Get your Thank You card ready for Clive. And if you’re planning to visit from South Australia, take your time. We’ll be open all night here.

A night with the brothers-in-snore – our midnight roar from the hospital ward.

February 21, 2012

Nurse Jane steered me into the short-stay area. Unlike the bustling Emergency Ward where I’d spent ten hours being poked and prodded, it was empty.

“You’ll like it in here”, she assured me. “It’s nice and quiet”.

The adventure of the Exploding Gut began two days earlier. ‘Unwell’ on Thursday evening, became ‘Crook’ on Thursday night.

We advanced to ‘Worst Bug Ever’ on Friday, and officially made ‘John Cash Songs At My Funeral Please’ in the early hours of the weekend.

I know what you’re saying. Bloody man flu again. Well, you’re wrong. I have it on official medical paper that this was something only the brave or foolhardy could face. I’ll find it for you later.

The local doctor made me go hospital. As well as the swirling virus that had me setting up camp in the toilet, there was another concern. He thought I had appendicitis.

So it was that I became an Emergency Department patient.

As disgusting as I felt, there were others with far more serious symptoms that needed attending.

While I waited, I saw amazing, hard-working nurses. Doctors looking for answers, wearing constant frowns. And all types of patients.

Like the large, intimidating woman who came in just after midday. She made it her mission to fight staff trying to help. Took four beefy security blokes to restrain her.

Then there was the hairy bloke who spent an entire examination talking on his mobile. Not sure even he knew what their finding was.

And Jill. Poor Jill. A woman who it seemed had been dealt some rough hands in the game of life. She arrived just before I did. No-one seemed to be coming for her. After her fifth seizure, she was moved. Not sure where. I hope she’s ok.

After tests that went all day and into the evening, my much-accused appendix was given the all-clear. The gloved finger of blame was pointed at the adjacent colon, found to be inflamed like one of my famous mango snags on the BBQ.

It meant I was in for the night. Around the corner from my Emergency friends.

My time alone in this new ward didn’t last long. I was joined by a bloke with a heart scare from an extended walk. A young guy, who I think was battling his way through drug rehab. And a short, round gent, who had something wrong with his tongue.

Four brave men, fighting their own demons, in one room. Three of whom had something in common. The ability to snore. A gown-clad orchestra of the night

Of course, all three would have been praising me when I was away, for being the only one not belting out a sleeping note. I think. They’ll need to provide recorded audio for me to believe anything different.

To be fair, the young bloke wasn’t too bad. Like me, he wasn’t sleeping much. When he did, it was a short, sharp snore.

The walker was more measured in his breathing. Not that loud, but noisy enough. Especially through the thin blue curtain dividing us.

There was a gold medal winner among them, however. Directly opposite me, with a bung tongue, was a man who could snore for Australia.

This was the sustained, thumping growl of a Blackhawk, propped up on two pillows. Chainsaw constant. Cheap picture frames around the room were trembling.

The nurse had to wake him every two hours. When she did, he jumped. And then spoke in a quiet, measured tone. The noises just didn’t match up.

Daylight saw my roomies gradually move on. I’m home now too. Not great, but better. Fewer trips to the toilet. And a room that’s nice and quiet. Unless someone can play me the tape.

Music to my ears. Even if you don’t know the words. The importance of sharing the song in your heart.

February 14, 2012

The cleaner with the fluoro jacket and the mop was enjoying his work. I knew this, because he was singing.

“Sadie, the cleaning lady. La la la la you’ll always be a cleaning lady.”

The lyric-challenged rendition was taking place at the entrance to the shopping centre toilet block. John Farnham was under no great threat. But the mop-swinger was belting out the ultimate cleaning ditty with a grin.

It made the rest of us smile, as we stepped around him to go about our own business. Singing does that to you. Even ordinary singing.

There was a time, before i-tunes, when just about everyone sang in public. Pub patrons, and butchers, and barbers, and bus drivers. All sharing their favourite tunes. I don’t recall anyone complaining.

I grew up with blokes who didn’t think twice about tossing up a song. One would start, and the rest of us would join in. Loudly.

This would sometimes occur as we walked home, after an evening filled with cool drinks. We may or may not have been arm in arm.

Show me the way to go home. I’m tired and I want to go to bed. I had a little drink about an hour ago and it’s gone right to my head.”

It could be said that for our age, we had unique tastes in music. As well as the Aussie pub rock bands of the time, we extended our listening to the albums played by our parents.

It meant we gained an appreciation of some amazing story tellers. John Cash, Dean Martin, Elvis, Neil Diamond, Kenny Rogers, Tom Jones and the Eagles to name but a few.

Yes, there will be those of you who think I’ve just described the welcoming choir to the gates of Hell, but it matters not. We liked them.

We could burst into song at any moment. To the dismay of those around us with more sober listening habits.

Some of us still do, even in these advanced years. A great chum of mine will dust off his Seekers album after a long day. Patsy Cline if it’s a long night. And The Beach Boys are never far away.

My dear friend Greg Cary will play a little Jim Croce, or John Fogerty or Jimmy Buffett on his radio show, and I’ll be crooning along. Can’t help it. To the great amusement of my younger, rap-loving colleagues.

“Well the south side of Chicago, is the baddest part of town. And if you go down there you better just beware of a man named Leroy Brown.”

Maybe it’s the style of music today. Without sounding completely ancient, the tunes I hear the girls playing at home seem harder to harmonise. More complicated.

That said, the females in my house love to sing. All of them wander from room to room, warbling whatever takes their fancy.

Daughter Two takes the prize for most impressive vocal display each day. Shower time now features the radio blaring, on a hip FM station. Our neighbours would be well aware of this.

She does her own version of every song that comes on. Through soap, shampoo and conditioner. Maybe there’s hope yet.

It won’t take much to have us all making beautiful music again. Do your bit today. Belt out a tune at your desk, and ignore any strange looks.

Think of your favourite childhood melody, and sing it on your way home. Maybe give the kids a rendition when you put them to bed. Nothing like a laugh before sleep.

Better still, next time you get some old mates together, sing something you all know. You’ll be amazed at the memories that will flow. Especially if you’re struggling to find your way to bed.

“Everywhere I roam. Be it land or sea or foam. You can always hear me singing this song. Show me the way to go home.”

The pests who want to pot Black Caviar. Here’s a tip – we don’t want to hear it.

February 11, 2012

Someone, somewhere is bagging Black Caviar.

Can you believe that? The best horse we’ll see in our lifetime, and the Village Idiot wants to have a crack at her.

It would seem that the rest of us have been fooled all along. Those 17 consecutive wins weren’t the real deal.

According to the lunatic fringe, the mighty mare isn’t beating anything. The competition is ordinary. Therefore, Moody’s flying machine isn’t the awesome animal we’ve declared.

Proof once again, that one doesn’t need a long neck to be a goose.

It irks me no end when people go out of their way to find fault with a champion.

Un-Australian, that’s what it is. These same fools would declare Alfie Langer too small, and Dipper too big.

The clowns without wigs, who announce to their mates that Doug Walters wasn’t fit enough, and Harry Kewell only cares about the cash.

Spend long enough with them, and they’d probably tell you Mother Teresa needed to work on her wardrobe.

I don’t get it. Why not just sit back and enjoy the freakish talents of the great ones?

True sports fans don’t need to bring champions down. They simply marvel at the performance.

Today, Black Caviar tries something different. An extra 200 metres. Her first attempt at 1400 metres.

She will win again. No doubt about that. In my humble opinion, she’ll be even better over this distance. An extra furlong to break their hearts.

Peter Moody thinks so. He’s always believed she’d be stronger as the trip increased. Luke Nolen too.

That enormous, soul-destroying stride. She’ll swallow them up again, soon after they straighten. Their lungs will be screaming for air. She’ll be cruising.

These dimwits who subscribe to the argument that she’s beating second-raters, weren’t at Doomben when she won the BTC Cup last year. The day she crushed Hay List, again.

At his best, he’s a world-class sprinter. If she wasn’t around, he’d have a mantlepiece full of trophies.

That afternoon at Doomben, for the briefest of seconds, Glen Boss thought he might have pinched it. Hay List was flying in front. Maybe this would be the day.

It wasn’t. In the space of a few strides, the Mighty Mare caught up, drew level, went past, and exploded away. Seriously, just a few strides.

There were 20,000 race fans jammed into the course that day. Screaming her name. I’m here to tell you that not one of them thought Black Caviar was beating nothing.

We were all just happy to be there. In the presence of something so special. The rank and file of the racing game get a buzz from such events. They have no time to look for negatives that don’t exist.

I didn’t see Phar Lap or Tulloch. Wish I had. To be in the stand at Flemington watching Big Red winning the Cup must surely have been the greatest thrill the sport has produced.

I have no need to compare them with our current superstar. Good fun in the pub and on talkback radio, but I don’t need the answer.

Peter Moody’s Superhorse has already given me my greatest experience in racing. The day she created history in Brisbane.

She provides that joy for so many people, wherever she runs. They don’t care about winnings. It’s about golden memories. And smiles.

You and I, we’ll see other great ones before we head to the Great Spelling paddock in the sky. But nothing like her.

Enjoy what she does this afternoon. Turn your back on anyone who dares to doubt her. And take it all in. This journey we’re on won’t last forever.

Specials and girlfriends in aisle 4. Surviving the supermarket without going off my trolley.

February 7, 2012

Friday afternoon shopping was a chance to impress Jane.

All of our mums went to the same supermarket. Some dads got dragged along too. Mostly at the end of the week.

My favourite girl of the time and her mother were always there. She was a vision. Long blonde hair. Everything a ten-year old could ask for.

My wardrobe was lacking in variety and substance back then. Those wanting to be harsh could say nothing has changed. Anyway, I would always ask Mum to have my best shirt ready for our shopping adventure.

Once we arrived, I would begin scanning the aisles for my girl-to-be. My usual approach was to linger around fruit and veg, knowing that Jane’s mother would stock up on the healthy stuff.

My goal was to get a smile. If she sent a ‘Hello’ my way, I was over the moon. An actual conversation was, of course, out of the question.

My courting of Jane in Aisle 4 could be the reason I’ve been comfortable in supermarkets ever since. Unlike other males I know, I quite enjoy doing the weekly shop.

My shopping routine became finely tuned during our stint in the Far North. The Treasurer worked most Saturdays, so it was only fair that I should fill the pantry.

I didn’t mind. It was one of the few household duties I could actually complete with any degree of success. Giving something back. Oh, and the local pub happened to be part of the same complex. All under one roof.

That cosy arrangement meant I could snaffle the specials at Woolies, and have my full trolley parked at a table by Race 3.

Of course, I would never stay long. Any shopper worth his salt knows those dairy products had to hit the fridge ASAP. There were only a few times when the milk had to be thrown out.

Those golden days couldn’t last forever. Now, I’m a Sunday arvo shopper. Not so busy. We’re a much more relaxed bunch, we late weekend shoppers.

I usually fly solo. And it’s funny who you spot scanning the shelves. My favourite supermarket counts an Olympian, a former NRL coach and a former Queensland Government Minister as regulars.

Both The Teenager and Daughter Two fight with all their might to avoid coming with me. Boring, they shriek.

I do trap them every now and then. If we’ve been to a Sunday movie, I’ll drive them home via the Fresh Food people. They never catch on until we’re in the carpark. Dads are amused by such things.

Once they become part of the spending team, things change. After conducting trolley races, annoying anyone over 40, they start spruiking their wish list.

Must have items. Usually from the confectionary and stationary sections. New chocolate brands. That groovy pack of highlighters. And we need those glow-in-the-dark water bottles for our lunch boxes. Didn’t Mum tell you?

I knock each request back. But they always manage to slip something in when I’m not looking. Just for chuckles at the checkout.

One thing I am wary of, is young blokes lurking in Aisle 4. Especially if they happen to be wearing a fancy shirt. Maybe I’ll leave the girls at home next time.

Voices I’ve shared my Saturdays with. London to a Brick, we all have a favourite racecaller.

February 4, 2012

I spent more Saturdays with John Tapp than any girlfriend. We had a date, once a week, without fail. Him at the track. Me having a cool drink somewhere.

He was the voice I grew up with. Sure, there were others. Ian Craig, Ray ‘Rabbits’ Warren, Bill Collins and Greg Miles. But they were just good friends. Tappy was my man.

My first memory of a racecaller goes back to the great Ken Howard. But only just. I was very young. Sitting around our mustard coloured kitchen table with Mum and Dad.

They would be listening to the daily double. Mum loved him. Dad would get annoyed. Especially when the famous phrase ‘London to a Brick’ came out. Even more so if he was losing.

The memories of Tappy are much stronger. Every Saturday, in the licensed establishment of our choice. We never doubted him. If he called the photo, we’d accept his decision. Can’t recall him getting too many wrong.

He made our rare wins so much more enjoyable. The bloke had a passion for every race he called. Genuine excitement when a good thing saluted. And he seemed to love Mick Dittman as much as we did.

Punters need a bond with their callers. Our job is tough enough as it is. No room for someone who leaves a horse out, or fails to share our optimism.

When I moved north all those years ago, the game changed. Tappy and I began a long distance relationship. He was still number one. But I found others.

Over time, the Queenslanders entered my heart. Especially sweating it out in Cairns.

No Sky Channel at home back then. So it was Wayne Wilson who painted the pictures for me at Eagle Farm and Doomben.

Again, that passion. It would jump out of my radio speaker. Every winner was special. Not that I was on many of them. Wayne made them all sound like champions.

It’s an art, the ability to make people far away feel like they’re trackside. Allow them to share in the joy of victory. I always had the feeling that Wayne was very aware of that in his calls.

I’m now honoured to call him a friend. Funny how this game works. That passion is still there, even though he’s retired. He loves the game, and all those in it.

With so much racing these days, getting such great coverage far and wide, we get to hear more callers than ever. Some reporting in from places that are dots on the map.

Most love what they do. But every now and then, I catch one less than enthusiastic with the task at hand. The class of horse they’re calling. Or the merit in the performance of the winner.

That irks me. Tappy and Wayne never did that. They knew that every race, no matter what it was, was important to someone. Maybe an owner. Maybe a bloke sweating on the trifecta numbers. Somewhere, there would be excitement at what was unfolding.

As long as the new breed of caller remembers that, we’ll get along just fine. Maybe even grow old together. Just like me and Tappy and Wayne.