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.

Telling old blokes where to go this weekend. Please, tell us. We need to know.

June 5, 2012

It’s our big weekend.

My great mate and I are counting the days to our annual celebration of all things Blokey.

If you were reading my ramblings at this time last year, you know what’s ahead. And to both of you, thanks for sticking around.

For everyone else, here’s a brief rundown of what we do.

He’ll fly in on Friday morning, with a thirst you could photograph. We’ll gather with some wonderful lads later in the day, and head to Brisbane’s annual Bernborough Club lunch.

It’s the traditional warm up for Saturday’s Stradbroke Day. One of the great racing gatherings. Cool drinks will settle the dust.

When the tables are cleared, we’ll bid farewell to some of the industry’s finest, and make our way to one of the nation’s most famous pubs.

He loves the Caxton. He gets it. The history of the place, just a decent drop kick from the wonderful stadium up the road.

We’ll watch Friday night footy there. Remind each other how good we were all those years ago. And tell anyone within earshot that the game’s just not the same.

Nothing too late, mind you. We have to preserve our ageing bodies. Because the highlight of the weekend is still ahead.

Eagle Farm on Stradbroke Day is something to behold. The highlight of the Winter Carnival. A few bets. More cool drinks. We’ll celebrate by telling stories we’ve heard a thousand times before. And there’ll be laughter yet again. True mates.

When the races are done, we’ll do what we’ve always done. A Saturday night feast of Chinese.

Same place, year after year. You may laugh, and call us predictable and boring. The staff probably do too. We’ll change when you can find me a better Crispy Beef dish.

I know what you’re thinking. This is all too perfect. There must be an obstacle ahead. Well, you guessed right. Help is needed. We have no idea what to do next.

When blokes are just a trifecta away from turning 50, where do they go to listen to ‘our’ music? You’re laughing at us again.

It’s a legitimate concern. Who is catering for the old blokes out there? Doof Doof and DJs who go by just a single name are useless.

Pubs where the techno beat drones on until sunrise will never host us. Clubs where rap artists spit venom across the dance floor are another world away.

We want a place where we can rest our beer on the table, and listen to some good ol’ boys belting out The Eagles, Credence Clearwater Revival, Fleetwood Mac, the Steve Miller Band and Joe Cocker.

Later on they can throw in a bit of Powderfinger, and The Doors. Maybe Dragon, The Angels and Mental as Anything. And of course, the hits of the great J.R. Cash are welcome at any time.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask. Old farts need to be entertained too. We won’t cause any trouble. Just some foot-tapping, and off-key warbling.

Your suggestions are welcome. Unless you’re a DJ rapper who wears gold chains, and goes by the name of Slide. For everyone else, take pleasure in telling us where to go.

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.”

Sorry, Miley Cyrus, but I’m taking a stand. And you can’t talk me out of it..

June 21, 2011

The girls were puzzled. How could I turn them down? Who would knock back the chance to see the one and only Miley Cyrus in concert?

They were crowded around the laptop, buying tickets to her first Brisbane show. Four tickets. One for each of us. Quick thinking was needed.

I’ve mentioned the young American songstress on these pages before. She’s very popular in our house. To be able to scream at her from close range was a dream come true, apparently.

The tickets are not cheap. Think of being front row to see Elvis in action. In a comeback spectacular. With Frank Sinatra as his backing singer. The girl’s nickname might be Ned Kelly.

As much as I want to party with my wonderful daughters, I’ve had to take a stand. I’m on a self-imposed ban from tween and teen concerts.

I told them they’d have more fun without me. An all-girl affair. Yell as loud as you want, without Dad shaking his head. Dance crazy. Just don’t tell me later. And it would save us some money. The Treasurer agreed.

The Daughters have form for dragging me to these type of concerts. They enjoy seeing me out of my very limited comfort zone. The last one was Miley’s Nashville buddy, Taylor Swift.

It must be said, I don’t mind her music. She has a catchy, country sound. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The first thing I noticed was that the crowd was pretty much all female. Maximum age 16. With no intention of sitting down.

I knew the first couple of songs, and tried to join in the fun. Difficult, when you’re not screaming, or crying, or dancing. Or all of the above at the one time.

What troubled me most was the talking. From the stage. The star of the show wanted to chat. Between every song. Long winded, heart-felt yapping. Is that what they do these days?

It was too much. I left early. When I walked outside, I found Dads everywhere. Sitting on lounges. Lying on the floor. Reading books.

No one spoke, but they nodded in appreciation. I’d gone through those doors. They hadn’t. But I couldn’t last the distance. How times had changed.

In the early days, we’d sneak into pubs, to watch some of the legends of Australian rock. Angels. INXS. Australian Crawl. Midnight Oil. Chisel.

They were just kicking off, all of them. And so were we. In grimy places full of smoke and grog and agro.

Truth be told, we shouldn’t have been there. Luckily, ID checks were not the done thing.  We’d get in through an open toilet window. Sometimes a friendly bouncer would turn a blind eye. No one seemed to care.

I don’t remember the greats talking between songs. Although Barnsey might have sometimes. We just couldn’t understand what he was saying.

The focus was on the music. Great, rocking tunes. One after the other. Until the bar closed.

Granted, my memory may be a little hampered. And as a card-carrying member of the Our Old Fart Music Was Better Than Yours society, I might be a little biased. But examples remain.

I’ve never heard a sound like The Eagles produced, when they played in Brisbane a few years back, on their (second) farewell tour. Magic. The concert DVD gets a belt here every few months. I never get sick of those good ‘ol boys.

Anyway, none of that will matter to the girls tonight. Miley will talk. They’ll scream. Better that I’m not in the way. They’ve even given me permission to go for a steak and a beer while they’re out. That’s called a win-win.

Don’t worry, I get dragged along to everything else. Wouldn’t have it any other way. A man has to have something to whinge about.

Daughter One turns 13 this weekend. Very special. And I’ll be playing my part. I’ll tell you how it goes next week. We’re staying in a hotel, with some of her friends. She’ll go through the front door, not the toilet window. And they’ll be way better behaved than we ever were.

I haven’t told her yet, but I’ll be looking after the music. I’m sure her friends won’t mind. No talking allowed. Some of my old cassette tapes should work just fine.