It’s official. 2012 was crap. Ten ways to make sure 2013 rocks.

January 1, 2013

It’s all Pluto’s fault. The planet, not the much-loved Disney dog.

So a bloke on radio told me. He called himself Australia’s leading astrologist. I’m not up on how big that field is, but the title sounded pretty impressive.

Apparently, 2012 was a rubbish year, because of where Pluto sat with Uranus. He said this, without the hint of a giggle. Astrologists must be very serious types.

The guru of the stars went on to tell us that 2013 wouldn’t be much better, because their paths are still bumping into each other. Something like a New South Wales State of Origin backline play, millions of kilometres into space.

His expertise took a hit a little later, when he said our political landscape would be the worst since John HEWSTON tried to become PM. I think he was the guy before John Soward. Or was he in that bumbling backline? Anyway, someone had a problem.

But not us, dear readers. Because we’re taking aim at Pluto and all those around her, and declaring 2013 to be our year.

It’s true, 2012 had hair on it. So many people tell me. Just about everyone I know has been counting the seconds to open up the new calendar.

I never want another year like it. Nor do those I love and care about. So I’m doing my bit, to learn from mistakes, and make sure those twelve months are disposed of, to the deepest bin with smelly New Year prawns.

Those who have already erased 2012 from the memory banks, also believe change is in the air. There’s confidence among us. We demand better days ahead.

Family is everything. We will keep learning from each other. And having fun. Daughter Two gave me the most beautiful Christmas card last week. Made me cry. One of her messages was that 2013 would be a Refresh year. The same as we do with computers. Such a smart girl.

There are things I’ll be doing more of. Near the top of the list, is to be around people who make me laugh.

I’ve seen so many people say the same thing of late on social media. It seems we are all in the mood for a giggle. No more gloom and doom. If you can’t offer a smile, feel free to catch the next bus.

I want to spend more time speaking with old friends. The people who know me best. Those who are there, in the darkest hours. And yes, they all make me laugh.

More catch ups. Better use of time. Connecting with the people who really matter.

An old football mate had a crack at me this year, saying I don’t pick the phone up enough, when times are tough. The male mentality, of suffering in silence. He’s right. I’m working on it.

More lunches, with fun people. Those who enjoy all that life has to offer. With tall stories and the ability to take the piss. And the odd cool drink.

I want to read more. The stuff that teaches, and inspires. I want to play more of my old music. Neighbours be warned: J Cash, K Rogers, J Fogerty, D Martin, the Beatles and Eagles will be on high rotation this year.

There’ll be more time allocated to racing people. Salt of the earth types. I’ve never had an unhappy day anywhere near a racetrack. Expensive days, yes. But never unhappy.

There’s the prostate cancer battle. I’ll tell you more about that another day. Don’t worry. I’m happy to say that everything so far is positive. As my consulting surgeon Dr Billy Joel advises, Only The Good Die Young.

Happy New Year everyone. Join with me tonight, in the yard or from your balcony, in giving Pluto the raised middle digit. Do it proudly, and prepare for a ripping 2013.  Just don’t get it mixed up with Uranus.

Struggling for Facebook pals? Twitter making you twitchy? Make friends with a book.

June 14, 2011

I love a good book. Such a simple pleasure in a complicated time. Learning from the words of others.

Our house wasn’t filled with the classics. I can’t remember if we even had a bookcase. But Mum always seemed to be reading something.

I might be slandering the old boy, but I don’t recall Dad finishing too many books. Newspapers were his go.

He’d pour over the morning paper during smoko at work. Especially the sport pages. Then after a hard day on the tools, he’d check the afternoon editions on our kitchen table.

It was there that he’d tell me whether the journos had got it right. Especially the league writers. What would they know?

I caught his love of the printed word. It wasn’t long before it was my job to buy The Sun and the Daily Mirror.

There were no deliveries in those days. Didn’t need to be. We had the trusty paperboy.

Every afternoon, he’d ride his bike down our street. A teenager with a large cardboard box attached to the handlebars. His whistle would be my cue to dash outside.

All the neighbours would be out too. From memory I was the only kid. He’d weave back and forth across the road, picking us off one by one.

I’d be shattered if that box was empty when he arrived at our house. But always careful not to say anything. Our newsagent on wheels happened to be an amateur boxing champ. He was never robbed.

Books came later. Over the years I’ve collected my own little library. It’s moved with us from place to place.

I’m not big on fiction. Biographies are my go. I love reading about the lives of others. Especially those who have a go. Or inspire. Even those we might despise.

It’s quite a mix in my bookcase. The Reverend Ted Noffs sits beside gangster Neddy Smith. Singo could be next to Dame Edna and Kerry O’Keefe.

This may surprise you, but the likes of John Cash and Dean Martin are on hand. Tom Jones too. Just up from Jack Gibson and Wayne Bennett. Even cricket kook Henry Blofeld. What a dinner party that would be.

Sporting stars, and the people who work with them, fascinate me. Especially those from humble beginnings. So many lessons for the rest of us.

Read the life stories of Lance Armstrong or Andre Agassi, and tell me you’re not motivated. Take a journey with Alfie Langer or Shane Webcke, and try not to cheer. No chance.

I’ve tried to pass my passion on to the kids. We did Fairy Tales at bedtime from an early age. Daughter One loved them. She would order repeats. Sometimes Dad would fall asleep first.

Daughter Two, however, was more for the impromptu. She liked her stories made up, not from a page. Tell me about the moon, Dad. Quite a task, especially after Friday night drinks.

Every year now, we head to the Lifeline Bookfest. For those who haven’t been before, picture the MCG covered with tables of every kind of cheap reading matter.

I head to the Biography table, and snap up a few bargains. The girls find the section for children, and battle with dozens of grandmothers looking for early Christmas presents.

Each finds favourites for a few dollars a pop. Enough to last till next time. And keep them off the i-pod, for an hour or two.

They’re a varied bunch, our fellow book fair visitors. This is an event that attracts all sorts.

Some try to get to the final page while still at the table, in the hope of saving around three dollars. Others are reading so much at home, they’re neglecting personal hygiene. Badly. They tend to get the books they want. Think of the Comic Book guy from The Simpsons.

But at least they ARE reading. Others, it would seem, don’t have time for paperbacks or hard covers. No need to, when your head is buried in Facebook or Twitter.

And that’s a shame. For all the advantages of being plugged into social media, there’s nothing like taking time out, to tackle an old favourite, or find a new friend.

To play my part, I’m taking a stand. Less Facebook, more reading.

Forget Twitter before bed. I’ll be turning pages. With a book that I can smell. No i-pad, thanks. Batteries not required. Besides, I need somewhere to put my Grade Three ‘World’s Greatest Dad’ bookmark.

You can join my campaign. Get the kids involved too. Hopefully we’ll see you at the next Bookfest. Just remember the deodorant.