GUEST BLOG “DIY WEDDING”

This guest blob is by the brand, brand new Jess Jackson, Dee’s bestie and my fellow ginga! You may remember I blogged about her wedding way back when. So I recently asked Jess to give me some insight into how she pulled this off. (And plus all this wedding stuff looms upon Dee and me soon). And here it is…Enjoy!

On 18 August I married a pretty awesome guy.

James proposed when we were in New York in December 2010. To be honest, I was completely shocked! Sure, we’d talked about getting married, and I knew James was the guy I wanted to spend the rest of my life with…. But I guess I’d only ever thought about ‘being married’, as opposed to the act of ‘getting married’.

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I was never the type of girl who sat around planning her dream wedding, but when James presented me with the opportunity to plan a wedding, I was pretty freaking excited.

We didn’t set out to intentionally have a non-traditional wedding. We just did what felt right to us, and that’s how it turned out.

Our wedding criteria was thus: nothing lame, nothing stuffy – just a whole lot of fun in an environment conducive to maxing relaxing and some serious partying.

I’m also a total control freak, so I wanted the whole thing to be DIY… Crazy! We managed to pull it off with the help of our amazing friends and family. More on that later!

So this is the story of how we planned our vintage inspired pizza party barn wedding!

The non-bridal party

I’ll kick things off by explaining that we didn’t have a traditional bridal party. There were a few reasons for this, but it was mainly because we liked the idea of our wedding being just about the two of us… I hope that doesn’t make us sound like selfish A-holes!

In place of a bridal party, we decided to involve all of our ridiculously talented friends in ways that would exhibit their incredible creativity. It worked out amazingly. Here’s a list of our suppliers (all our dear friends!):

Save the date and invitation design – Ben Breitenstein
Celebrant – Paul Voge
Cake maker – Tegan Travers
Ceremony music – Lloyd Budd and Andy Martin
Photographers – Bayleigh Vedelago and Chris Proud
Videographer – Paul Voge (multi-tasking extraordinaire!)

It meant so much to us that we were able to pull together pretty much an entire wedding with just our network of friends. Amazing!

The venue

Kenilworth Homestead was the first and only venue that James and I looked at. We knew straight away that it was perfect.

After a few trips to the venue, our plans really started to take shape. The barn was to be the focus of the wedding. With two distinct areas, a huge fireplace, and plenty of space for dancing… It was perfect.

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We decided we would use the big tree next to the barn as the focal point for the ceremony, and pre-reception drinks would be held on the lawn in front of the barn. We figured this was the best use of the space, and would allow the whole day to flow nicely.

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Please refer to the barn floorplan below for further illustration. (This floorplan was my pride and joy in the wedding planning process… It’s to scale!)

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The greatest part about the venue was that there was accommodation on site for over 100 guests! We offered free accommodation to all of our guests, and to our delight, most of them accepted! I drew and printed maps of the venue and individually tagged them for each person staying the night… On the day of the wedding, we had a ‘self-serve’ check-in area set up, with the maps displayed in alphabetical order for collection… It worked flawlessly!

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The styling

Styling the venue was always going to be a mammoth task… It’s a huge space, and I’d seen photos on their Facebook page of weddings that had tried and failed to achieve that worn-in rustic barn feel. In order for it to work, the space needs to be filled well.

My ‘wedding vision’ ended up driving James and my parents crazy… I was so particular about what I wanted and how things should look, that it made the acquisition of decorations a nightmare. I wanted nothing swirly, nothing that screamed “love” (when trying to explain this to my dad one day, I told him it was because “love is gay”), nothing that looked remotely modern, and everything within a neutral, earthy colour palette. Lots of wood and glass. White flowers only, with lots of greenery. This = wedding vision.

I think it’s super important to decide on a wedding vision early and champion it throughout the whole process. Everyone involved needs to be on board with wedding vision!

Our friend Paul gave us a piece of advice that proved to be invaluable in the styling process – whatever you’re doing, do it big. And so we did.

After a year of collecting and crafting, our styling inventory contained:

800m of fairy lights
70m of handmade bunting
12 couches
5 coffee tables
5 floor lamps
2 sideboards
6 A-frame chalk boards
1 bolt of hessian
~50 assorted vases
100+ glass jars
100m of twine
1 custom stamp
100 mix CDs as wedding favours (branded with our custom stamp)
150 lolly bags for the candy bar (also branded with our custom stamp)
A whole lot of confetti
+ other miscellany

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Plus, we needed a few feature items. We went with three cardboard deer heads for the barn (from Cardboard Safari), and a giant red wooden love heart for the ceremony (drawn by me, cut out by my dad, and painted by James).

My amazing dad also made us the arbour that formed the entranceway to the ceremony.

The only items we hired were the trestle tables, dry bars, Americana chairs and bar stools. And the pews for the ceremony were owned by the venue.

We bought the flowers from the Rocklea Flower Markets and made the arrangements ourselves.

The Wedding Dream Team

With so much STUFF, we needed some serious help to a) transport everything to the venue, and b) set everything up!

And so, The Wedding Dream Team was born:

Jess Jackson (nee Kearney) – bride, director and visionary
James Jackson – groom, lighting expert and sound technician
Judy Kearney – mother of the bride, chief style consultant and voice of reason
Steve Kearney – father of the bride, executive producer and slideshow guy
Dee Spink – pseudo bridesmaid, style consultant, BFF
Jess Jardine – pseudo bridesmaid, style consultant, BFF
Andy Martin – MVP, all round awesome dude
Michael Job – MVP, all round awesome dude
Michael Kearney – uncle of the bride, licensed heavy vehicle driver

The Wedding Dream Team assembled at my parents’ house at 8am on Thursday 16 August. By noon, we had loaded a ten tonne truck, two 4WDs, 1 van, and 3 cars with all our wedding finery, and we were on the road to Kenilworth.

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We spent the next two days stringing fairy lights, placing furniture, arranging flowers, hammering stakes and filling jars with candy.

It was so rewarding to see everything fall into place. I loved the two days we spent setting everything up. After a year and a half of planning, collecting and crafting, we were finally ready to get married!

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CLICK ON THE PHOTO BELOW TO SEE THE ANIMATION:Image

CLICK ON THE PHOTO ABOVE TO SEE THE ANIMATION. (ps do it!)

The big day

When the big day arrived, I was surprisingly calm.

The morning seemed to drag a little, and by the time the ceremony came around, I was super anxious and excited.

The ceremony was my favourite part of the day. James and I wrote our own vows, and in place of a “reading” we had our two oldest friends (Ben and Dee) write and recite something anecdotal about us. It was super special.

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Reception format, et al

Something I’ll note about the reception is that we didn’t have a seating plan. It worked really well to create more of a relaxed party vibe. All we did was reserve a table for us and our parents to sit at during the speeches, and the rest was a free for all!

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We kicked off the reception by going straight into speeches. We wanted to get the formalities out of the way so we could all get dancing. We had five speeches, which totalled about 45 minutes, and then dinner was served.

My darling husband is nutritionally challenged. He’s seriously the most fussy person I have ever met. So what do you serve at a wedding where all the groom eats is meat and bread?… Pizza!

We hired a guy to come to the venue and make woodfired pizzas on site. We had these served to tables banquet-style, so people could help themselves.

Loaves and Fishes took care of the rest of the catering. They prepared two antipasto feasting tables for pre-reception drinks, complete with local Kenilworth cheeses and olives. They also prepared salads to accompany the pizzas, and took care of the beverage service.

Not many people stayed at their tables for dinner, which was what we had hoped would happen. We wanted people to enjoy the venue, and not be stuck at a table for the whole night.

And after dinner, the dancing started! I’m a firm believer in maximising time allocated for dancing at weddings… Very important!

The rest of the night consisted of dancing, drinking, and eating cake and candy…

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All in all, a perfect day and night!

Conclusion

DIY weddings are GREAT fun, but a lot of hard work. For any couple out there planning a DIY wedding, I’d give this advice:

1. Decide on a wedding vision early and stick with it!
2. Take any help you can get from friends and family!
And 3. Whatever you’re doing, do it BIG!

How I embarrassed myself…again.

This morning at work Alex, my boss, came up me and asked me to take some photos at a press conference he was doing. I didn’t ask any more details cause Alex is always doing these sorts of things and he looked in a hurry. Alex is now the most famous person I know. (And I do know our Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, but that was a while ago and he might have forgotten me.) He is always on the news and getting important phone calls and hob-nobbing with Clive et al.

So I grabbed the camera and then in the foyer there was this bloke in a suit who, it became apparent, was coming with us. He gave me a warm hello and introduced himself as “Adam” and we shook hands. But I still had no idea who exactly he was and what exactly we were all doing.

And soon from the conversation he was having with Alex it was apparent Adam was from the Greens. We all jumped in the car and there was talk about Canberra and so I figured he worked there and so at a break in the conversation I said, “So Adam, are you based in Canberra?” And he said, no, but it’s just a quick flight home to Melbourne on a Thursday evening after Parliament.

“Oh,” I thought. “He’s probably a political staffer for a Greens senator”.

But then as we approached the reporters gathered in Bowen Park to meet us he was getting more attention than Alex and it dawned on me he was maybe not a staffer for a senator, but possibly an actual Senator.

“Right,” I thought, entirely pleased I had figured this out all on my own.

Soon another dignitary arrived — Larissa Waters, Queensland Greens Senator. And I knew exactly who she was having met her before and getting a bit weak at the knees in her presence. After saying hello to everyone else and giving them a “kiss-hello” she turned to me and I instantly thought, “Oh Christ if you give me a kiss-hello I will die.” Luckily she just shook my hand and I mumbled how I had met her a few years ago when I filmed a video of her for the Your Rights at Work campaign. And she was like, “Oh yeah — in that tiny room”. And I made a fumbling attempt at humour by saying, “Yeah I get that comment quite a lot every time I shoot a video of someone.” — which isn’t even a joke and is really creepy and stupid. Jesus Davey — get it together!

Luckily she didn’t hear it properly — or pretended not to — and I got stuck-into my task of taking photos.

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But then I got in more trouble as I rustled around at the back of the pack taking shots. The TV camera people kept shooting ugly looks at me everytime I made a noise in the dry, crunchy grass. Ugh.

At this point, quite bizarrely, this stench of cannabis smoke drifted over us — which I swear wasn’t my fault. It seemed to be coming from some dodgy-looking people on a park bench behind.

But then in my head I started to think about Adam. And then BANG — his actual identity flew into my brain. He was Adam Bandt, the Member for Melbourne, and one of teh cross-benchers who had joined with the ALP to form our current government. The FIRST Greens member of the Lower House and yes, quite a big deal.

And then I remembered how I had just asked him if he was “based in Canberra”. What a deadshit I am.

Anyway, of course after the press conference was over I almost got myself into more trouble.

We were driving back to the office and the topic of the bushfires in the distance came up and Adam said something to the effect of, “Oh yeah, I thought I could smell some burnt particles in the air today.” So I said, “Actually, that would have been whoever was smoking a joint in the park.”

Luckily he laughed.

Later I got to apologise for my stupidity. Again, sorry Adam. I thought he was a really nice guy btw.

And here is more info about what was announced today.

TRAMPOLINE! (and photos from this weekend)

Aside

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I accidentally woke up a 5:30am on Saturday, and knowing I had a big day ahead of me without much chance of riding, I jumped out of bed and smashed out 50ish kms in and around the riverloop. And I was feeling a bit saucy and strong so I went a bit silly with the fun of overtaking other bike riders.

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It’s a massive spaceship set of Lego. I could have bought a truck or a ship, but I wanted to buy him something that was potentially inspiring. Dreamy. 

After a bit of house-cleaning I headed over to Hugo’s 4th birthday party. I haven’t been to a kid’s bday party since I was a kid. And wow: it was just as messy as the 30th I went to 10 hours later. Kids just running around nuts on over-over-stimulation. Kids saying very inappropriate stuff they would regret the next day — stuff that would put me to shame. (Like this kid attempted to refuse another younger child entry into the trampoline cause “she didn’t bounce high enough”). Lots of tears, lots of over-over-indulging and just a frenzy of activity that made my head hurt. On top of that the temperature hit the mid-30s and I was melting and feeling every bit of all that morning’s riding and the 2 hours I had spent cleaning the house, plus my Friday night hangover catching up — and the lack of fluids and food. But that didn’t stop me having a decent go at Hugo’s new trampoline.

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 Dee showing pics of Sasha

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TRAMPOLINES

When I was a kid, trampolines were like the rung down from having a pool. It was like you were royalty if you had a pool, you were like next-in-line-to-the-throne if you had a decent computer game system and after that you were maybe a “baron” or an “earl”  or something if you had a trampoline.

And trampolines back then looked like this:

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They were death-traps. I bet every single person in my generation was once a tiny bit maimed by one of these bad-boys or knows someone who broke a limb or was injured even worse. Personally, I never had a trampoline, which made anytime I got to try one even more dangerous — because I lacked any skills. So too many kids would bounce around on that tiny structure at the same time like they were imitating atomic collision theory. And so you would get smacked into the springs (if you were lucky), or you would smack into the steel bar that circled the structure (if you were unlucky), or you would fly off into the ether around (if you were tragic).

I think it was Jeremiah who was telling me last night that he and his siblings/friends would jump off the roof, onto the trampoline and then into the pool. And that worked fine the first time, but once everyone was wet (and everything else in this equation) — things got a bit dicey.

And Dee was telling me she and her brother used to put dishwashing liquid on their trampoline — just to add an extra layer of slippery-danger.

But nowadays trampolines look more like “safety machines” than anything that resembles crazy-fun. Every stick of furniture is padded, the whole structure is wrapped in netting, and they come with LITERATURE explaining how dangerous bouncing can be.

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That didn’t stop me testing the boundaries of safety. So Hugo and his best mate Kai were in the trampoline with me. And so I said, “OK, we are playing a game. You guys have to stay standing while  do a dive bomb”.  They were like, “Cool!” So I jumped up and landed on my bum and the kids instantly went from being upright to being upside down. I wasn’t expecting such a dramatic reaction, and fully expected tears and my sister to escort me out. But they got up and loved it and begged me to do it again. And of course I indulged them and they got much better at staying upright — even cheating a bit it should be said — by staying closer to the sides.

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Kate and Anna keep their herbs in birdcages to stop any animals pillaging.

LITTLE LOVERS SLEEP-OVER

So the Little Lovers came up to play at a joint cassette-tape launch with Dollar Bar at Tym’s Guitars. And I caught up with a bunch of old friends and had a big chat with Ben Salter which was nice.

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Then I tried very hard to get a cab home, but because of the Rugby, that was futile. I was carrying all this booze for the evening and my bag broke and it was generally a total fail. But I finally got home and got to talk wedding planning with Jess and Dee and then headed off to Jeremiah’s 30th over at Ithaca.

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Nice doors!

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HB JEZ!

After that we tried to get the best chips ever to cure my hangover — but it didn’t really work. Oh well.

ABOUT A RING

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Just like everything I do in life, it’s never easy, never straightforward, and never without something going a bit nuts. And yes, this story — about a quest, the awkward resolution of that quest, the (temporary) loss of said resolution, the dinner date, and a police “incident” — is no different.

SEARCHING

It hasn’t been much of a secret that Dee and I were intending on getting married, but as Dee kept saying, (while referring to some random left finger) “I don’t see a ring on it.”

And so earlier this year, I devoted a bit of effort to working out what she wanted and just learning about rings. I looked at the wikipedia page and I casually examined the rings of people at work when an opportunity arose. But still, to me, an engagement ring seemed a pretty basic thing — obviously expensive and possibly meaningful — but essentially just a bit of gold with a diamond of varying size glued to the top. Of course, I quickly realised they were a bit more complex than that. When prompted, Dee tried her best to explain what she liked; but it was a bit like trying to explain to an alien why Kim Kardashian is popular.

The only thing that registered with me was that she wanted something Art Deco. So I googled around and sent her pictures of rings asking if she liked them. Most she hated, but this one — which I thought was pretty awesome — she liked.

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Anyway, I secretly mentioned my plight to Carly at work (who Dee mentioned had a ring similar to what she was looking for) and she told me to go to Penfolds in the city, which is a tiny shop on Adelaide Street where you knock on the door and they buzz you in. So I went there and talked about getting a ring made — but later that seemed a lot of hard work and hard thinking and above my very, very basic skills in this department. Next, on separate occasions, Dee and I looked at rings at Paddington Antique Centre. All the while I was getting an understanding of what she liked and an idea about the complexity of these tiny objects.

Just last weekend, we spent a great deal of Sunday searching. At that Antique Centre in Annerley we came close. Even though it wasn’t quite perfect, it gave us hope that something just right was out there.

Fast forward to yesterday. Dee had a meeting in the city and she called me up and said ‘let’s meet after and visit Penfolds’. We got buzzed in and had a good look at all they had, but again, nothing jumped out at us. As we wandered back up the mall, the Brisbane Arcade came upon us and I suggested we have a look. And there were plenty of jewellery shops in there with very few rings in 4 digits — but despite that, nothing really struck a chord. We were about to leave when I said, “Why don’t we have a look upstairs?” And Dee was like, “I didn’t even realise there were shops up there.”

But I knew there was at least one cause my friend Anna, a jewellery maker (who incidentally made Dee an amazing brooch once) used to work at a store up there. Up the Arcade’s cold, hard — but beautiful — stone staircase, we walked down the narrow balcony feeling entirely out of place. There was only one jewellery store up there and it was called Kellies. We had a look in the window and Dee pointed at something she liked. Just glancing at it through the glass I knew it was worth a better look, so we went in.

CONSUMING

At this point I should say I am a terrible consumer. I LOVE buying stuff, but I HATE shopping unless it’s a quick and simple transaction. I HATE any complication to the process of just picking up and item and carrying it to a register and paying for it and walking out. Consequently I absolutely hate these things:

1) trying clothes on
2) having sales people talk to me
3) asking how much something costs if it doesn’t have a price tag on it
4) paying for expensive things on credit or EFTPOS just in case that fails
5) asking someone to open a locked cabinet (or take something out of the front window)
6) excessive gratification upon purchase of an item by sales people.

But I just nutted-up and swaggered inside and immediately said in as clear a voice as I could manage, “Can we have a look at one of your rings please?” And it should be said Dee is a lot like me in the awkward-shopping department. She was still a bit shy and hadn’t even entered the shop yet and as I finished my sentence there was a pregnant pause while the staff must have considered if it was actually me that wanted to try on a ring. Sensing that vibe, I turned around and almost had to drag Dee inside.

Once inside, Dee stepped up to the task. She tried it on and it looked great. There was a full-length mirror there too, which seemed indulgent, but actually helped the process of bonding. It fit almost perfectly — just a fraction too big — and once that was clear I could tell Dee was getting pretty excited.

We were told it was made in the 1940s — which possibly made it even rarer with that big war thing that happened back then. And crucially it cost only $5 short of my most maximum limit. Like the “you’re dreaming limit”. So I told the sales person we’d go get some lunch and have a think about it.

Just as we got out of earshot of the store I said, “Let’s do it.” There’s no point doing things half-arsed. I’ve learnt that lesson the hard way. I also thought it was poetic because it came from Patrick and James Mayne’s old stomping ground. Dee was like, “Really?” And then again, “REALLY?”

I said, “Totally.”

So as Dee went back to work I said, ‘you have about 10 minutes to change your mind. Send me a text if you do, but I am buying this ring’. We parted and I stopped at ToyWorld to buy a massive lego set for my nephew Hugo (which I actually want to buy for myself). I then swung back down the mall and up those stone-steps two-at-a-time and then straight into that store and gave that sales woman an “I’ll-take-it-thumbs-up”.

THE LOOK

I must have looked entirely incongruous to the normal clientele of the Brisbane Arcade (at best) and decidedly dodgy (at worst). I presume the staff agreed I looked more on the “dodgy” side of the equation. See, it was a hot day and I was a bit sweaty with all my walking and also, it should be said, a bit nervous with the magnitude of things.

And because I had no idea I would be doing this when I got dressed that morning, I was attired in shorts, a crappy t-shirt and shod in boring sneakers. Plus I was carrying a massive Mr Toy’s ToyWorld bag. So I didn’t quite look your typical buyer of an engagement ring that cost what was effectively a very, very big deal. And the sales person took a stupidly long look — the longest I have ever experienced — before deciding my signature matched the scrawl on the back of my card. It was then that I remembered that agreement with Dee to text me if she wanted to pull out. Shit. I wrenched at my pocket to look at my phone but there were no messages. Phew.

The sales-woman took another eternity to wrap the ring-box up and do the paperwork and all the while kept looking quite obviously back over at the eftpos machine — expecting it to go, “Abort Sale! Stolen card!” She spent an eternity reinforcing the decision of my purchase, which was possibly just her stalling in case my card was declined.

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AND THEN I LOST IT…

But eventually I was allowed to leave and I walked back to the office over Victoria Bridge and I was so nervous. I was holding something so tiny and so precious and so new to us. To add to the drama it was so windy I thought it might get blown out of my hand and over the edge into the river. So I held onto that little package as tight as possible. Back at the office it was like the elephant in the room. I barely let it out of my sight. Eventually its aura was so fucking acute I just had to show someone. So a few (most of the office) peeps got a sneak preview.

Meanwhile I emailed Dee and said, “Let’s go to Sono tonight for dinner.”
“Ok,” she said, pretending to be reluctant.

There was incredible romance behind my words — it just wasn’t quite obvious at the time.

At quittin’-time I rode home and dropped the bike off, then jumped into the car and drove off to pick up Dee as she walked home. We needed some groceries so we took a detour to Rosalie. At the lights on Baroona Road I opened up the box to have another look at the ring and then it fumbled out of my hand and disappeared between the seat and the middle console. ARGH! The lights then changed and Dee tried to grab it but it had completely disappeared and she couldn’t get her hand into that tiny place. “Shit, shit, shit,” I thought, but instead said, “It’s cool. I’ll find it, you go do the shopping.”

So I parked and I jumped into the back seat and lying on my back I hunted around down there for a good minute or two. At one point I was looking around for the bolts of the seat, deciding that I just might need to remove the driver’s seat to find the little bugger. But then inside a bracket I felt something that could be it. I didn’t want to push it any further into that void so I very slowly and carefully slid it towards the opening, only losing it’s grip once. “Please, please, please” I begged to the Cosmos and then it was out and I was saved. Phew.

As I got out of the back seat so amazeballs with relief, I saw my mate Jesse riding past, like my St Christopher angel, and that was another amazing omen. We did a high-five and it felt good. Of course I don’t believe in religion or superstition, but I appreciate the poetry of circumstance.

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SONO

[all pictures from here on are by iPhone — so not great, but credible!]

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Sono is our most favourite restaurant in Brisbane. But of course I managed to snap a chopstick within seconds of beginning my meal. But that didn’t spoil the sushi and gyoza and sake and wine and sapporo and it was all awesome!

Oh yeah — I did the presentation and Dee forgot to say ‘yes’, but an agreement was pretty much implied by her putting on the ring — I think. The ring looks fucking spectacular. It is so shiny and intricate and looks amazing from all angles. I didn’t think I had it in me to appreciate a ring before — but now I do.

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THE JUMPER

After dinner we went for a walk and started thinking about announcing the whole thing on the interwebs. I took a photo of Dee in front of the Story Bridge and captioned it with some lame reference to Romney and “binders full of women” and the word “engaged”. Then clicked “share”. Pretty soon notifications were going a bit crazy.

Then we headed up to the bridge and took the “Pow!” photo (as seen at top) for our Instagram buddies. Just before that I noticed a woman climbing off this maintenance platform at the side of the bridge. She was with some dude and she gave me a cheeky look like she had been naughty and they both scurried away across the bridge. Meanwhile Dee was on the phone to someone who had rung to congratulate her and suddenly we were swarmed by cops – a few on bicycles and a few on foot. A bit further down they had started closing off the left lane of the bridge. They were using torches to look up and around and so I asked the police what was happening and they said they were responding to a call of a “jumper” on the bridge. And so I told them what I had saw just before and said I thought they were just hippy tourists mucking around — definitely not acting in a suicidal manner.

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Then I brazenly said, “We just got engaged!” and we showed them the ring which they thought was pretty cool — or at least did a good job of pretending to. Maybe they just wanted to placate us silly louts and get us to move along. Probably the latter.

So then we stumbled on towards the Story Bridge Hotel for one more drink and a few calls to parentals and then it was home and one last look at the ring before sleep.

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My Adventures with Custard, PART 3

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PART 2 | PART 1

THE TAPE

In my bedroom, dreaming of an imminent rockstardom as soon as I got old and wise enough, I imagined I would just be a Jimmy Page or a Pete Townsend or a Keith Richards — in other words, I would be a non-singing lead-guitarist. But as that dream of rock just there on the horizon started to dull and get a bit blurry, I realised just being a plain-old-guitarist made forming my own band even more complex. So I forced myself to be able to play and sing at the same time. It was a skill that took some serious effort but when the first song I could play and sing along to — (it was Nirvana’s Polly btw) — just randomly arrived, it was a bliss I struggle to describe. But I will remember the joy of that exact moment forever.

Like a lot of musical-instrument-learning — a massive leap in skills can happen very quickly. One minute you absolutely have no hope of playing that difficult 4th chord in Stairway to Heaven, then the next minute you can. On drums it was a lot more acute. One minute I wasn’t a drummer, the next minute I was. In an instant I could rhythmically coordinate my two hands and my right foot at the same time. And to a random observer of that day, it would seem this process only took that instant — but to me all the hours of trying to get things in sync would still sit in my brain, but if anyone asked I would deny all that and say, “Yeah — drumming — NBD — whatever.”

So with my brand new skill I set about recording “covers” of Nirvana songs. Ostensibly just practicing, but really, just being a dickhead. Soon I had this idea to make a whole 45 minute side of a cassette tape of me mimicking Custard songs. Just me, my guitar, my amp and my shitty overdrive pedal. Somehow I managed to fill up a side of the tape, just like I was making a mix-tape for some babe I was hoping to wally-on to — and then I handed it to David after some Custard show in Ipswich as casually as I could. That night on the band’s hour-long drive home in the van, I am reliably informed, they listened to it in entirety. When I discovered this fact I was like, “COOL!” but now I look back I cannot imagine how much LOL’n ensued at my expense.

But graciously, David suggested I play a song with the band at their next show. Indeed he even mentioned me in at least two interviews in street press — one in RAVE and one in SMOKING DOG PRESS — saying I could play the songs better than they could. (NOT true by the way).

And then BANG! I was at this venue called “The Capitol” on Vulture Street directly opposite Annerley Road. The place was Brisbane-famous having been formally known as this awesome venue called “Van Gogh’s Earlobe”.  (But a year later still it became a strip joint — pretty much how Brisbane treats its icons).

STAGE

This was my very first Custard soundcheck and while I looked on with utter bladder-compromising-incredulity — I suddenly got dragged upstairs into an office room by Custard’s manager who then proceeded to rant at me as delicately as possible for divulging some “corporate secret” on my Custard website I had been told by Matt when he was in a state of too much lucidity and I was in a state of remembering each and every word they said to me. I said a thousand sorry’s and might have even conjured a few tears just to accentuate my contrition. But then I was released and I sprang back downstairs as fast as I could just catching the last bit of their rehearsal. And then I was invited up on stage.

This would be the first of my future shitty public performances. Even though it was just a soundcheck — it was still right in front of my favourite band, and there were also a shitload of other people in the room. Admittedly most of them were bar-staff looking busy, but still. Epic.

But then Glenn had to leave for some reason, so David played drums. The song was “Lucky Star” and I was told they would get me on for the encore. “The encore?” I thought. “FUCK. LIKE FUCKING FUCK!” Talk about added-pressure. UGH!

Before I could build on that fret, I was on stage and in the moment I got to prepare I did TWO THINGS:

1) I lengthen the strap on David’s guitar. So I could look more “rock” and also cause I am actually taller.

2) I turned up the distortion on David’s amp just to hide any fuckups.

I got through the soundcheck and just being so brazen and autistically-wedded-with-what-I-only-knew — I said to David, “Why don’t YOU play drums?” (I assumed I could only pull this off again if conditions were EXACTLY the same as before when I had somewhat succeeded). David thought that was cool and Glenn said, “Sure” (but was probably a bit shitty I imagine).

So then I hung around, watched the show — which I tried hard to find amusing — the fact they played it in alphabetical order. Anyway, after the last song I dived into the backstage area and while they slogged at more beers I was completely sober and alone in that clarity of sheer FEAR.

I could hear the crowd going nuts. It was a massive room, maybe twice the size of the Zoo, and it was sold-out.

Eventually it was time and I followed quite a few steps behind. David introduced us as like the cricket team has an “AUSTRALIA” and an “AUSTRALIA A“. And this was “Custard A”.

Meanwhile I cranked up the overdrive and adjusted the strap. And so then I lifted up my arm and smashed at my strings with the brand new pick I had bought (and not used until now) especially for the occasion (so I could keep it in situ forever afterwards). And then for that two bars intro I was completely alone but now with a completely busted “rock n roll cherry”.

I still managed to be a dickhead up there. I quite theatrically did the “devil-horns” directly at Matt. WTF?

Penny Bradfield has photos of that night. Maybe I should see if she still has them?

A list of my 20 most favourite Australian songs

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I love lists, and this is a LIST. After getting butt-deep in INXS and NOISEWORKS and BOOM CRASH OPERA et al — It was around 1996 that I re-discovered Australian rock n roll. And a bit later November used to be JJJ’s OZ rock month.

Anyway, here are my top tunes by Australian bands.

1) Apartment — CUSTARD

I have said an awful lot about this band already — but this song rips the shit up.

2) Purple Sneakers — YOU AM I

3)  To look at you — INXS

Very hard to pick a favourite of INXS so I let my iTunes play count tally choose. And I am so lucky this song just jumped out. So chilled. The video clip is amazing.

4) Cattle and Cane — THE GO-BETWEENS

I read this blog today and it was a bit intense and wordy, and consequently I got a bit lost in the “importance” and let’s face it — pretension — but it was a pretty cool read. And I guess the band deserve a few sentences you have to read three times to understand.

5) DSS — SMALL FANTASY

This is the third Brisbane song here. And I think your home town just slices your skin like it’s an emo-cutter. And the blood flows and you see your nature in all it’s rawness. This is a song about getting employment benefits, something I had to do a few times, and it is also a love story. Perfect.

6) Cops r Tops — THE MELNIKS

The intermets don’t have this song so you get to hear Drew Romance instead.

7) Losin it — UNDERGROUND LOVERS

How chilled is this song? It’s like drinking a cocktail in a very comfortable chair and looking at the sunset and knowing a whole bunch of more cocktails and a decent meal is awaiting you — even though you are thinking about some lover that is quite apparent, but blissfully distant at the same time.

8) That Ain’t Bad — RATCAT

This 3 chord song with chorus key-change made everything make sense. Yeah.

9) Sweet and Sour — THE TAKEAWAYS

I loved this Tv show. It planted the seed in my shitty head that I could one day be in a rock n roll band

10)  You’re The Voice — JOHN FARNHAM

This song almost got me arrested. And yes, this song is pretty cool. Embarrassing but cool. I had this party at my house and we all sang this as loud as we could and then the cops turned up and I had to face them in a “state” and attempt to defuse the situation. “It’s ‘The Voice’ — i thought we lived in AUSTRALIA. WTF?”.  TRUE STORY. The cops let me off with a warning.

11) Talking to a Stranger — HUNTERS AND COLLECTORS

Just a massively dreamy trip. Enjoy.

12) NY Coal Mine Disaster — THE BEE GEES

This song is so sad, so old-school. If it doesn’t make you cry then…I dunno.

13) Fool’s Rush In — DROP CITY

A very heavy but lush and serene song. Rich in textures — the extra guitar with it’s whammy-bar attack in the heavy bits and then violins in the verses which get all heavy again in the chorus. Amazin

14) Dwarf on Dwarf — THE FAUVES

This is a song by “the Doctor” — not the usual singer in the band. But he was my fave. And he was so sensitive and rock at the same time. Kinda my whole life philosophy. Shame I can’t find the song on the intermets.

15) Can’t Help Myself — FLOWERS

Iva Davies when he was cool and edgy and didn’t have a mullet.

16) Pace or the Patience — LOVE OF DIAGRAMS

Fucking hell — this band is all style. The best of art and rock married with crazy-super-glue.

17) Get Free — THE VINES

The BEST, THE BESTEST EVER, middle 8 ever. The whole song revolves around it.

18) Evil Eye — SIDEWINDER

This is actually only my second fave song of theirs. The epic NOT COMING HOME is so much better. All 7 minutes. But this song rocks, especially the keyboard refrain.

19 Rainbow Kraut — JOHN STEEL SINGERS

20) Little Lovers — LIttle Lovers

Cause this song doesn’t exist easily on the interwebs — you get to see Red Devil instead. Good band. I think I in this clip. Whatever

BUCK’S NIGHT

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Yesterday I went to an all day “buck’s party”.

But before I go into all those messy, messy details — which I really enjoyed it should be said — I thought tonight I would give you all a semblance of context to this adventure. And so a hint of the story of how I have a new appreciation of the company of blokes. Because historically I have gravitated to women for conversation in social situations and because there’s only so much talk about cars and computer games and Radiohead and Tarentino movies I can take. Women are so different and they have perspectives that generally I haven’t heard before — only sensed. But crucially I think they get my sense of humour better.

See as a kid, it was really tough going with my male peers. I was the little ginger runt — pale and sickly-looking — and for some bizarre reason boys weren’t really impressed by that vibe. And perhaps spending six years at a boy’s only high school exacerbated my interest in female attention. And also I’ve always kinda enjoyed flirting — and it should be said — that goes for both men and women. And I am very, very rarely trying to seduce anyone — I am just trying to make myself more endearing. I guess I am a forward person in a world which is mostly reserved.

SIDE BY SIDE

Apparently men are “side-by-side” while women are more “face-to-face”. In other words men like to DO things together, while women like to get more INTIMATE with conversational eye-to-eye stuff.

And until my bike riding adventures I hadn’t done much “side-by-side” stuff and the equation has been a revelation and pretty damn awesome. It’s not just cool, I actually think now that it is important — like important for your soul. I think I need to feel like a bloke periodically. It is like an echo of the trials our ancestors did everyday just to survive. Yet now we have to almost artificially create circumstances where we can be blokey and suffer and do something epic.

MESSINESS

So yesterday I officially got “Rugby League Drunk” (a term coined by Tegan’s mate Glenn) — just because it seemed that was what was expected. And I didn’t quite get to “Canterbury Bulldogs Drunk“, but it was touch-and-go there. The day started with a quite civilized ride up Mount Nebo with Ryan, Scott and Jesse on his brand new roadie. And for the first time ever we were all in matching kit. And of course that necessitated a timer photo:

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Once home I managed to get ready at virtual lightspeed (one aspect of blokiness I have embraced) and Dee dropped me at Canvas where the boys were already into their second beers. No one needed to encourage me to do my best to catch up.

Pete (that beautiful ginger pictured below) from JSS was our designated driver — which may seem utterly ridiculous — but he did a sterling job. Later Timothy told me quite soberly, even though he had his head wrapped up in Jon’s crotch, that Pete was a fantastic driver. “(On tour) I only feel safe when either Pete or I am driving”.

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CHIPS

After Canvas we headed to lunch at The Smoke at New Farm for some barbecue meaty, McMeatness. I ordered chips, and separately, a hotdog thing which came with chips. Chips are my most favourite food. Just this week Dee asked me what my death-row meal would be. I tried very, very hard to think of anything other than chips. But my brain hurt too much, so answered honestly: “chips.” Dee wasn’t surprised. Last year when I spent 7 weeks in Europe (and 2 weeks in NYC) I worked out that I ate chips every single day. You’d think 49 days of chips would make you sick of the sight of them — but not me. I am a bit autistic when it comes to food.

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Anyway, I think the reason these chips were so good was because they were “meat-chips” on account of the fact the oil in the fryer was full of the dead flesh of many and various hyper-cooked animals. But in saying that — it was their texture that most appealed to me. They were golden and crispy and more oil than potato. Glorious. If I was rich like Clive Palmer I would open up a restaurant that just served chips. Maybe mash potato as well.

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Free Tequila shot from the awesome Smoke peeps.

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Despite my epic drunkardness, I did spend a good moment composing this photo of Conan — much of which was basically me yelling at James (who is sitting behind) not to photo-bomb it — and it turned quite well I think.

BUS

I skipped the bus ride (feat. Gangnam Style at full volume) and walked to Bitter Suite about 600 metres up the road. I convinced myself that walk was entirely sobering. So another beer later — my 6th for the day — we went over to Newstead to the Tippler’s something. It was here that Jon, the groom, was feeling a bit partied-out. Like massively partied-out. After a few quiet voms I took him on a few blockies. The secret to sobering up is to get the heart pumping. And because there was no treadmill handy, walking was the best remedy. And patting puppies is also a true-fire spew-cure. Totally.

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Just a rat sharing the footpath. No big deal.

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Next we went to the soccer game at Suncorp and I got annoyed at these guys in front who insisted on standing up. It almost got a bit ugly, and Timmy gave them a beer as a peace offering. He is so chilled.

The game made very little sense to me, despite the fact it is a drinking-game just like Rugby League, but was also enjoyable mostly ’cause I got to eat some more chips — very, very poor quality and over-priced it should be said — and shout with some impunity at the opposition team. (I think they were from Melbourne or something).

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This is Phil who is now a bestie cause he was so impressed I stood up to the wankers who insisted on standing up in front of us and got them to sit down. 

CARTEL AND RIC’S

After that I left the buck’s-night-crew and stumbled up the road to Cartel to watch the roller-racing. I was intending on slowing down, becoming more civil. But of course I hit the beers even harder and ended up with some random bruises and a random shoulder injury. That might of happened when I did that somersault. I am not entirely sure. What I do know is that later I got denied entry to Ric’s and the only thing that made it acceptable was that Jamie got denied too. It was tragic. Thoroughly Tragic. It is actually quite IRONIC that this happened to me, being such a fan and historian of Ric’s, and it happened AGAIN! You just have to laugh don’t you?

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