An important online security warning. Why bumbling dads need to be protected too.

August 20, 2013

There are those out there willing to take advantage of the innocent. Tech-savvy types, ready to make fun of the unaware. They’re called daughters.

Yes, these delightful young ladies, with perfect manners and sweet smiles, have a secret agenda to humiliate poor old Dad. I hear some of you muttering that’s not a particularly difficult task. You’re not helping.

Like most of their age, The Teenager and Daughter Two are immersed in the world of social media. But not the ones you and I know.

Forget Facebook and Twitter. They barely rate a mention. It’s all about Snapchat and Instagram. And a few others I can’t fathom.

For those who remember black and white television, let me explain. As best I can. Instagram is all about photos, with smart comments. Snapchat is the delivery of photos and videos with smart comments, that disappear after ten seconds. Are you still awake out there?

I don’t understand the attraction. But then again, I still take Daily Doubles. For teenagers, Snapchat is the perfect way to communicate. Minimal effort required. Just a few words. Let the technology do all the work. And then it’s gone.

Armed with their new i-phones, my daughters are ready to capture anything, at any given moment. A squadron of friends is doing the same thing, waiting to swap whatever comes their way. The more ridiculous the better. And when it comes to ridiculous, Dads are hard to beat.

When we’re in the car, music is played at a decent level. The perfect place to trap an unsuspecting driver. And it’s taken me weeks to realise.

Their cunning system is as follows. One will take the front seat, and find a song that they know I like. As I launch into a version that may or may not be pitch perfect, they begin recording. Secretly, with the phone casually pointed in my direction.

Sometimes, I may be doing daggy dance moves while driving. They find this amusing. Apparently, so do their friends.

It came to a head on the weekend. My sneaky offspring slipped a favourite Christmas carol into play. I’m battling city traffic and red lights, and suddenly Mariah Carey springs into action. ‘All I Want for Christmas is You.’ What was a man to do?

I launched into it with great gusto. The judges are still deliberating on whether I hit the high notes. All in all, I was happy with my performance.

That was, until the giggling began. They couldn’t help themselves. Nor could hundreds of others. Thousands maybe. I was being shared around the globe. Well, South Brisbane anyway.

There’s every chance I have my own YouTube channel, and don’t even know. Someone could be getting rich from my unique sound.

Where are the i-phone police when you need them? Dads have rights too. I’m sure I read that somewhere.

Let this be a warning to all fathers. You are now a target. Do something remotely silly, and you will be a star. Sons and daughters will see to that.

I’ll be toning down my car singing in future. And my crazy arm waving. You can’t trust anyone. Especially family. And Mariah Carey.

The art of singing to babies. How much damage could a Kenny Rogers song do?

April 2, 2013

The thing with babies is that they’re so small.

You forget, when you haven’t held one for a while. A decade qualifies.

The girls and I paid a visit to a great mate’s bub last weekend. A 5 week old bundle of cuteness.

They were impressed with how easily he went into my arms. It’s something a Dad never forgets.

All these years on, and the little bloke slipped straight into position. Cradled into my forearm. Tiny head safely tucked away.

He looked up at me, with blue eyes that looked years older. What was he thinking?

I suggested to the assembled gathering it may have been something about the large, rough melon above him. I noted there was no serious disagreement.

At 5 weeks, there’s not a great deal to think about. Sleep, milk and poop pretty much does it.

The girls were amused to hear his mum describe an emerging wind habit. My mate tells me he is approaching Olympic class for flatulence. The bub, not him.

It’s always fun to see new parents in action. Absolute love and devotion. There is no concern about a lack of sleep at present, because it’s still fun. We’ll check back in 4 years. My money will be on a different answer.

It took me back to when the girls were tiny fart machines. I could have said that differently, but this one line will be enough to embarrass them for days.

Daughter Two was a sound sleeper as a baby. Still is. It was rare that we needed to attend to her during the night.

The Teenager was a different proposition. She would wake, constantly. There were tummy issues, and she found it difficult to sleep for more than a few hours.

I frequently volunteered to bring peace back into the household. My answer was to sing to her.

I would bundle her into my arms, and head downstairs. Gentle rocking and soothing tunes.

I would start with a bit of Eagles. Those smooth sounds were often enough to get her back to slumberland. ‘Take It Easy.’ ‘New Kid In Town.’ Then ‘Hotel California.’

Hushed tones, of course. Just enough to relax both of us. Doing laps of the rumpus room.

From there, I’d move into a little Creedence. ‘Proud Mary’ or ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain?’ Joe Cocker would play a role with ‘You Are So Beautiful.’ The most fitting of songs for her.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone could be having a whinge after exposure to such a collection. But if the mini version of The Teenager was still grumbling, I’d bring out the big guns.

Kenny Rogers has been putting people to sleep for years. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

He starred in all our late night singalongs. Meaning he was perfect to get a baby snoozing again.

First up would by ‘Coward Of The County’. Then, one of the all time greats. ‘Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town.’

You painted up your lips and rolled and curled your tinted hair. Ruby are you contemplating going out somewhere? The shadow on the wall tells me the sun is going down. Oh Ruby, don’t take your love to town.”

She would be drowsy by now. You probably are too. Perfect timing for the highlight of my midnight whispering performance. ‘The Gambler’.  And by the end of the great man’s anthem, she would be asleep.

You might laugh at such antics, but Dads are nothing if not inventive. You won’t find my methods in any reputable baby book. That might be why they worked.

My mate has cool modern technology to fix such problems, so he probably won’t need my song sheet. That’s ok.

The Teenager still won’t go to sleep. But now it’s because of friends and phones, not farts and food. Not even the great Kenny has an answer to that.

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.”

It’s party time in the garage. Just make sure you’re allowed to move the junk.

November 8, 2011

I’ve noticed that people are doing strange things in their garages.

Not that I’m spying. Or perving. Just observing from a respectful distance.

It seems there’s been a shift in where we do things. Maybe homes have become too small. Cars are being left outside to make better use of space.

A bunch of lads down the road seem to be having fun whenever I drive past. Sometimes singing. Usually with a guitar. They laugh lots. Such is the Islander way.

Head up a few streets, and you’ll find a double garage that’s become a makeshift dance studio. Lots of girls dressed in national uniform. A mini Bollywood in suburbia.

Smiling parents line the walls. It’s never too noisy. Just enough for the dancers to hear the beat.

There’s another gang not far away. This gathering is a boys-only affair. They drive souped-up cars, which usually sit on surrounding front lawns.

Inside, there’s lots of fun stuff. A giant pool table, and a dart board, and other Big Boys Toys.

I noticed their collection one evening, heading home after some generous hospitality from my local publican. Admittedly, I was a little confused, but I swear there was a decent card game going on.

It was duly noted, that I didn’t receive an invitation.

Sadly, there is no such frivolity going on in my garage. No happy tunes, or toe-tapping, or sporting contests. Because the Garage Full sign is up.

Yes, it’s a double garage, but there’s only room for one vehicle. Just. Officially, I’m advised that it has become an Additional Storage Area.

I’m sure there’s a conveyor belt somewhere in the house, silently shifting mountains of stuff that, like a father’s favourite song, can be out of style within minutes.

Think I’m exaggerating? How’s this for a list of useless crap, that remains on a Protected Items list..

Doll house. Hula hoop. Santa poles. Unfashionable CD stacker. Faulty cat carrier. Broken table. Rug with small but definite dog wee stain. Hose with holes. Suitcase with no handle. Oh, and about 100 plastic bags of unwanted and unnecessary paperwork.

Fancy having all that rubbish, sharing the same space as my priceless bag of surf club medals from the Seventies, and those very important coaching notes I’ve kept since our premiership days.

As you can see, there’s a definite mix of highly significant memorabilia, and utter garbage. All on the one floor.

There’s been talk of a garage sale. I’ll believe it when I see it. The women of the house just hate to let anything go.

If you’re heading out our way, with a song in your heart or a dance that won’t wait, don’t come to our garage. There’s simply no room. You’ll be looked after up the road.

Keep an eye out for cool garage parties in your own neighborhood. You might be surprised what the locals are getting up to. And if you happen to find a card game, see if you can get me an invite.

Memories of getting it wrong at the school fete. If only mum had picked a different song for me..

October 25, 2011

There was a nasty incident at the Tea Cup.

One hell of a mess. That’s what happens when you go on rides with a mix of fairy floss and pineapple slushie.

It was this year’s school fete. Where kids have licence to run even wilder than usual. And parents secretly wish the committee had approved one of those terrible beer stalls. Or was that just me?

Daughter Two was breathless as she relayed the gory tale to us. Her friend had lost her lunch over a young man she’d been trying to impress. Mid-ride. The poor bloke couldn’t escape. He just sat there in the spinning yellow Cup, covered in a fair portion of the day’s meal deal.

That’s the fun of fetes. Reputations can be made with an impressive display on the scariest ride. And lost just as quickly with an ill-timed puke.

I can’t recall us having fancy rides at our school fetes. It was more about stalls, and games, and chasing girls.

There was one particular young lass who was a favourite of mine. We were great mates. In the old world, she may have been described as a Tomboy. And she could run like the wind.

Back then I had a fair turn of foot myself. Difficult to imagine now, I know. But I could gallop. Just not fast enough to catch her.

I would set off in pursuit across the school oval, and she would evade me with ease. Not too different to how my football career would pan out.

Our parents would laugh at their kids having such harmless fun. Her mum and dad thought I was a safe bet. They were right. There was no plan for what I’d actually do if I caught her.

Performances are also a major part of fete day. High-energy routines on the big stage. This year, the girls had to do dance routines. In front of boys. How embarrassing.

Even worse, it was all caught on cameras. About a thousand of them. No-one actually watches anything anymore. They just point their fancy phones, and watch later. So much easier than enjoying it on the day.

Thank God there were none around forty years ago. I endured several troubling school shows. But one stands out, for anyone unfortunate enough to experience it.

It was a concert, that all the kids were invited to participate in. Of course, very few did. But Mum, God bless her, thought it was a marvellous idea.

To make things worse, my dear mother selected the song for me. Rolling Stones? Beatles? Daddy Cool? Nope. It was a dreary track from her favourite act of the time. The Carpenters.

With any luck you’re too young to remember the brother and sister duo. The rest of you, enough of the thigh slapping.

The song was called “Close to You”. One of the sappiest tunes of the century. With the greatest respect to the late Karen Carpenter. Feel free to check it out on this YouTube link, that I may or may not have included. If it does work, I defy anyone to last more than 30 seconds.

With me at the microphone, it was way worse. Pure pain. Three minutes of vocal torture. Luckily the laughs drowned out most of my off-key screeching.

I’m not sure how I survived that episode. Maybe the audience thought they were watching the show’s comedy section.

I’ll check our video camera later, but I’m pretty sure there were no comparable efforts over the weekend.

Except for the girl who threw up. Nasty business that. She has two choices for next year. Either run fast or sing. My tip? Pick your own song.