Miss April Advises: Name-Calling Post Gay Wedding.

Dear Miss April,

With all the shouting and hyperbole coming from magazines like Whatever, Whoever Weekly and other titular aberrations, that seem to invoke popular truncations like Bradjelina and Benjen and the like.

I was hoping you could provide some clarity on an issue that also has the whiff of currency about it.
I was penning invitation cards to a casual yet highly choreographed cocktail party and it occurred to my that I was unsure how to conjoin the names of two chaps that have tied the knot. Whats it to be a hyphenated named? Where they to keep there own surnames? It seems to me that if your going to the trouble of getting married you may as well have the trouble of having married people troubles, like messing about with your name for a start. You know like regular folk.

So as there’s no patriarchal hierarchy to insist on a name order, how does one decide? If it were based on status surely that would change so often that stationers would be run off their feet. This would be come impractical and costly very quickly. Wat about enforcing a straight [ no pun intended] swap. You’d end up with people called Jeff Singer and Garry Smith. that’s just the tip of the ice-cream cone. Perhaps it should be just done by alliterative excitement or jolly good rhythms. then the delights of Vladimir Putin John would make lovely things to write in ones impeccable penmanship.

Is there a rule for nomenclature in the new unions?

I do hope you can help

Fondley

George Michael

Dear George Michael

Why greetings, Sir. I hear on the grapevine you’re mightily more than a little fondl(e)y, love. Should I refer to you as Mr Goss? Or Mr Goss-Michael, or maybe just the Messrs Panagiotou. One must be in tune with the pressing concerns of the day, and if we decline to obsess over new social constructions without a sense of timeless brevity we might find ourselves at the sore end of a scathing cold shoulder.

It’s a real bother when a couple does not have the patriarchal tradition to fall back on in times such as these. Truly, who bought who and for how many goats? Those were simpler times indeed. But let us not be so glib. This is a matter that must be addressed, as there are numerous profiting opportunities for wedding planners and social etiquette authors at stake.

We, as a community, have evolved. We find ourselves in the very flux of evolution. Unfortunately, we can’t quite free ourselves of those contradictory traditions such as dominant identifiers. For myself, I imagine if I were to ever succumb to the betrothal tradition I would insist on a new name altogether. Scrap both surnames and go for something exotic, perhaps with the flair of the Spaniards – six names long, the fire of Flamenco, exhausting, confusing and aggressively fallacious.

Enough prevaricating around the bush, what you should do in this situation is address them by the names you know them as. It is the newly conjoined pair’s responsibility to address their social circle as to which naming custom they choose to adopt. A friendly word of advice though, don’t let cynicism get the better of you. After all, to come together as a family and desiring to identify as a family is a most lovely dream no matter the contradictory traditions which make up the path – and a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Yours most sincerely, Mrs April dos Santos Velasquez Morillo Guillermo Cabrerra y Morales de Wagga Wagga.

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Miss April Advises: Warning, not suitable for unsuitable readers: Hans A. Whey

Dear Miss April,

I have three things to say that are remotely connected but establish a pattern of inconsistency in the area of governence and moral governence on our behalf. Could you examine these articles and hopefully console me for I think that in the light of these observations my radical liberalism ( moral optimism) has been subsumed by hysterical liberal [voters]?

See three things below.

1.Artist works seized for illustrataing a sexualized Justin Beiber [ surely the beib’s publicist should have been the perp for premeditation BTW this content was shown under Mr Doyles watch with no mention of dripping cocks on Bourke street in the papers]
2.Blonde St Kilda footballer with respectable penis blackmailed by unnamed teenager[surely if your blackmailing you should be named no matter what your age or if not, your parents might need to explain how your child got to be there to take those pictures]
3.Bill Henson celebrates youth through beauty but is vilified [no one notices the beauty part except liberal Turnbull who owns one]

Liberal salutations.

Hans A. Whey

Dear Hans A. Whey

I’ve been quite oblivious to the current furore as I have other urgent matters at hand such as catching up with my cross-stitching and waiting furiously for the cinematic release of Behind the Candelabra.

However, after perusing recent newspaper articles at the local library I thought, golly, the powers that be really want to stoically protect our fragile minds from the corrupting scourge of collage. I then noted the key words – penis, child, degenerate, Justin Bieber, paedophilia –tax-payer funding – gasp! Dirty, dirty, words.

I am confident you are referring to the artwork of a young Mr Paul Yore. Unless I am mistaken and there is another hysterical bout of hypocritical self-serving Machiavellian manipulation Civic Duty afoot. He has been quite the hot ticket of late, in the city, along the hip-strip, amongst the leafy establishment, and now then down in the former-seedy-area-now-well-and-truly-gentrified St Kilda. Gosh, simply everywhere, so imagine my surprise that we all come so lately to the conclusion it is no longer suitable for the sensitive eyes of gallery hopping siblings and sensitive Councilors.

Look, to be perfectly honest with you Hans, I’m a bit of an old prude myself. I do not take kindly to nudity. I especially find male genitalia most distasteful when displayed both in flaccid and extreme performance mode even if it is plastic; combine this with the images of Justin Bieber children and you have just described to me the very things that I despise about the selfish putridity of adult humans. In my humble opinion, the only male grotesquery wont to be seen in the fine visual arts is the sacred penis of Baby Jesus, front and centre, so close to the picture plane it almost pokes one’s eye out whilst gazing in trembling holy rapture.

Correggio, Madonna of the Basket, c 1524, held in the National Gallery of London.

Correggio, Madonna of the Basket, c 1524, held in the National Gallery of London.

Needless to say, I was ready with softened nib pencil to underline the compelling arguments against Mr Yore’s work, justifying the necessity to ensure that I had no opportunity whatsoever to assess for myself the level to which I objected to the work. I was not disappointed. The complainant articulates: “The Pope is f—d, Everything is f—-d, the police are f—-d, Pigs with guns…The police would have loved that one…And when you go into the grotto, it looked like teenage boys with erections, with stickers over them…Degenerate…It’s not the right time to do any of that stuff at the moment anyway, you know what I mean with all the stuff with the Roman Catholic Church.”

Touché.

However, that being said so eloquently, I am but one among many and I have enough experience to realise that everyone has a right to tell their story, and to suffocate those who try to do so is a most heinous moral crime.

So what of it Mr Yore, are you trying to outdo the Pope with your sequined dresses and garish aesthetics? Is that it? You, a formidable man of a long 25 years, who looks around you to see the magnificent institution ruled by the Holy Seed See so vulnerable now that you choose to kick it while it’s down? What with all of the terrible truth coming out and such, and those thousands of victims who survived the stuff of nightmares persecute the sacred institution? Or perhaps you see those victims who did not survive.

All I can find from Mr Yore: “We live in a time that is very important for artists and musicians and writers to express themselves and a lot of people are confused about society and see the world as a dark place”. Ha! Well thoughts like that will get you arrested in these times sir, so is it worth it? Well, actually I suspect probably now more than ever. But I hear the City of Port Philip could just save themselves around $100,000 a year, and as long as it makes good economic sense it’s a win-win, right?

Children and artists, they make from what they see. Point in hand I move on to your second article, St Kilda Teen. You say she blackmailed someone? I do not recall, I was under the distinct impression the young lass was rather generously democratic with her photography. She too shared with us the visual outpouring of the world around her, it just happened to be a vast array of footballer penii*.

Should her name have been published? I thought St Kilda Teen was her name. Are her parents responsible? Well, responsible enough to send her to school. The visiting footballers successfully seemed to take over at that point.

Or did they? A most unusual event occurred, the girl did not go away. How utterly incredulous and confusing this is for young gods such as these – desire begets undesirable consequences?? How were they to foresee that this 17-year old girl would expect they admired her and wanted to be with her just because they graced her with their penetrative presence? They, along with other naked penises needed protection, stat; and that’s where multi-million dollar businesses can truly be rather helpful.

And so it came to be. The child was a child no more, she had transformed into the Femme Fatale. Vulnerable, abused, at risk? No, monsieur, no, you have it all askew. She is a liar, a temptress, a young lady that uses her sexuality to corrupt the heroes – and, how you say, does not shut up when men tell her to. This is the perfect French film script, non?

Quelle Horreur ! The underage Femme Fatale is, in popular media, somewhat akin to the most frightening of all underage seductresses, the man-hating, satan-worshipping, teenage lesbian murderess – terrifying to powerful heterosexual men, however completely fictional to all other social groups.

So in real life when a child has quite literally been debased what do powerful people do? Why, the send in an experienced, respected, compassionate family man. Unfortunately, it was reported he might have been accompanied by a bottle of wine, illicit substances, and alas, his penis. Heroes fall quickly when we see the world through the eyes of another. And the child eventually disappears.

Mr Bill Henson is a master of beauty, a Renaissance spirit, a painter’s photographer. There is no denying the true art of his magnificent works – you know, there’s no icky bits, nor ugly truths. Chiaroscuro. Allow me to repeat, Chiii-rrrra-scurr-o. You can’t argue with that.

And let us be quite frank with each other, once there is the sound argument of ‘but he’s famous internationally; he’s in all the national collections; it’s beautiful; important; investment’ – why, debate closed! Alas, herein lies our most despicable of lost opportunities. Debate never happened; not even a delicate vapour of conversation. What we got was:

Degenerate
Ignoramus
Paedophile
Wowser
You are
Am not

Not quite what one hopes for to invigorate important public discourse and insight. It does make one wonder the role of art in the first place, yes? But Sir, it would be grotesquely remiss of me to neglect to state indefatigably and publicly: therein lies in Mr Henson’s work a potent sexuality that one would need to have their eyes poked out with hot skewers to be unable to recognise. I would like to clarify, as I am merely a lay-person more interested in sneering at neighbours through my curtained windows , I do not believe they are in the slightest way pornographic. However, I find it incredulous that anyone could look at these images and not recognise their own selves at a time in the world where adults did not exist, where emotions ran deep and strong… and unfathomable.

Dearie-me, perhaps that is why the viewer can be so drawn in, but so uncomfortable. It is a world that we are perhaps not meant to observe, a burgeoning sexuality that needs to be protected from adults, from our gaze and interpretations. So much more difficult to do with photography – n’est pas? – we feel our presence, the subject’s, the photographer’s, it becomes so literal that we almost place ourselves in the role of intruder, destroyer, adult. What a lively conversation that would have made.

It is a rather interesting albeit shameful parody that we are at a point so vigilant to protect our children that we must whitewash, victimise, shame, objectify, and arrest them to do so. Alas, there is an ill wind my dear; a very ill wind indeed, and I suspect we won’t amble too much further along this path before we all turn to one another in a moment of horrific clarity and agree with Mr Yore. Everything is fucked.

Yours most sincerely, Miss April

* Penii – noun, plural. Anatomy, Zoology . the male organ of copulation and, in mammals, of urinary excretion. Miss April’s preferred pluralising of the singular form as the term penises can sometimes be a mouthful, although it can at times have a pleasing rhythm when strategically placed.

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Miss April Advises: Charity Case – a moral conundrum.

Dear Miss April,

I had an unusual altercation on my post prandial stroll that has left me asserting some fresh beliefs and questioning the character of my neighbours. I saw a woman with a chair on her head walking causally and chatting to her
acquaintance taking in the cool of the night. I knowingly enquired as to the provenance of her multipurpose hat. She said she “found it outside the salvation army , no one needed it and decided to take it home”.

This got my hackles up. I announced that she was stealing from charity. Probably not the best opening line. Needless to say the conversation was cut short as she scurried off with her ill gotten goods, leaving her accomplice making knowing eyes that begged forgiveness. It was not mine to give. I’m not in the business of charity.

I see this collision this way. Someone left the chair having been fortunate enough to acquire a new one to replace it. It was left as a donation. The salvation army should have been given the opportunity to brush it down and sell it. That’s the giving to charity part, no? Assuming it wasn’t broken and was to become part of the $4million the salvos pay/ year to dispose of broken stuff left for them by kind and generous citizens. If she was nicking it, i guess it was the former.

I’m also assuming that the chair made from renewable materials, designed for disassembly, no child labour was used in its manufacture , royalties where paid to the designers and it’s original packing was disposed of responsibly. We can assume by the fact it was “donated” at the salvos that it was no classic work designed for longevity and stylistic durability and that the aspirational individual offloading it had considered all of this issues prior to selecting their replacement item. If not the donor also requires some stern finger waggling.

I’m off track. Was I correct in my assertion that the chair liberator was also a perpetrator of a complicated and misunderstood crime?

Yours

Charity Case

Dear Charity Case

Yes.

When one commences the slippery slope of consciously dissecting moral responsibility it rapidly becomes a most complex matrix of sin recognition. You were wise to put an end to that finger wagging of yours, because once begun it is quite difficult to cease.

In short, I do agree with everything you have written. You are a beacon to us all. You have reinvigorated my faith in the common good, and I feel so safe I might once again partake in my midnight stroll alongside the tinkling aria of Dights Falls.

Once a donation has been deposited at the doors of the Salvation Army charity shops, office, or in (and around) their bins, it has become the property of the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army distributes usable objects (such as this very worthy chair) to families in need. If not required by said family, they would place it in their charity shop to sell in order to obtain monies to help feed, house and clothe our less fortunate of brothers and sisters. These are desparate times for some, and whilst the taking of a cathedra from a sidewalk might seem a light misdemeanour, in essence the thief has wandered into another time and space, the temporary shelter of a homeless mother and her children and she has taken that moment of seating, that gesture of charity, that feeling of neighbourly kindness.

Last year it cost the Salvation Army 1.8 million dollars to cart off refuse kindly dumped donated by the benevolent Australian public. So, I too would be most vexed, most vexed indeed, to witness the taking of an item that could actually be of good use.

Thank you Charity Case, thank you for acting upon your conscience. Thank you for observing your moral obligation, and do not lament the corruption of our neighbourhood as you have proven it is still of solid character.

With the greatest of respect, Miss April

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Miss April Advises: E. Mission – a frightening tale of laundry

Dear Miss April,

Im very messy. A bit of a slob , actually, despite my attempts at appearing graceful and effortless. Inevitably at the end of the day I disrobe and discover I’ve been wearing something thats issued from within my body as well as some daily grime. Spit, sweat, semen, blood, you name it, I’ve ended up with these diaurnal emmisions somewhere on my person.
I enjoy laundry, which is fortunate, and have conquered most of these stains. One lingers however. How do you get blood out of a white shirt without rendering it a rag?

Regards

E. Mission

Dear E. Mission

I stand before you (self) accused of procrastination. The finger of God points down upon me, “It is she. She is the one who has neglected her flock. She is the one who shuns the needy. It is she.”

Oh dear, my Christmas holiday appears to have extended a little too long and I do confess that you are the victim of my irresponsibility. So let me start by humbly offering you my apology as your letter dated the 8th December 2012 might just mean that blood stain is a permanent fixture. But spit-spot no time for dreary maudlinism, let’s see what we can still accomplish.

At first I must say I was rather at a loss for words upon reading your predicament. Alas, I immediately assumed you were a man and quite possibly a serial killing psychopath, but I understand that’s sexist. You could very well be a lady of the night. If you are the latter I would like to also recommend a preventative measure – prophylactics and a lot of them (do they make complete body ones?). Considering the state of your dress, would you consider substituting your cotton fabrics for latex? One can then quickly clean with a damp soapy cloth.

If you are the former I’m afraid I’ll have to request you turn yourself in to the authorities without cleaning your shirt as this is vital evidence, good luck and may Justice herself prevail.

Of course you may very well be neither of these and be one of those creatures that exist beyond my sheltered domestic world. However, let it not be said that I have turned by back on offering good cleaning advice. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, and it is my duty to offer you all I can in this regard because it sounds like you might be tipping in at second level demon.

Yes, it might be tempting to get violent with a washboard but you are quite right, it would quickly flay a delicate white shirt. You must be patient and use a step by step process beginning with a long soak overnight in cold water. Let the blood waft away as if a bad dream. The next day rinse, inspect, and soak further if needed. If it proves to be stubborn then you should ring it gently through a clothes ringer and allow to dry, rub lemon juice on the stain and place in the sun to dry. Rinse. Still the ghost of red? Then allow to dry again, then dab a bit of kerosene on the stain and gently rub. Obviously you will definitely have to rinse after this but I hope this solves the problem. If not a more harsher bleaching treatment might be required, in our day we used to put in (quite) a bit of urine in to the soaking water. Today of course one can just buy actual bleach in a bottle. I suspect you might be the kind of individual to try the urine method first. But for goodness sake please make sure you don’t eat asparagus beforehand. Other handy hints for spot bleaching is to use onion or even hog manure instead of lemon, but citrus perfume versus faecal stench? If you succeed in removing the stain you can freshen the whole shirt by adding a touch of blue dye to the rinsing water.

I do hope you enjoy your laundry.
Your fellow in lye soap,
Miss April

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Miss April Advises: Sports Injury – Clothes fit for the Emperor.

Dear Miss April,

I encourage exercise. Its great to see the svelte and the ample doing their bit to
become their ( or societies) ideal shape.
We have come so far but some things are lost is rush on our daily treadmills. We
have lycra to stream line our bodies as we hurtle about on our stationary bicycles.
We have coloured sports bras and vibrant layering options. These possibly a
distillation of Samantha Fox, Courtney Love and Olivia Newton John. Thanks to all.

I need to digress to provide background information that will aide in my enquiry.
Lycra while seemingly other worldly and eternal is still just a textile and like
all textiles, possibly with the exception of Kevlar or 70s polyester, is prone to
degradation. When tightly bracing and stretched around a body in motion it can be
very transparent when old and worn. Many people are unaware of this unintentional
nudity and can lead to quite the eye full in the street.
I know there are lycra fetishists, to be sure, but, all decent fetishists know that
furtiveness is no substitute for indulging your obsession fully and at length with
others who appreciate your particular proclivity. This is usually done in private
for the most satisfying results, so I’m told.

Although as I said , taking excise is to encouraged it has some side effects. If
done properly it requires effort resulting in perspiration and its bi-product,
pong. Thats why they have showers at gyms, I presume. Its what happens after that
disturbs me. I have seen people in there sports attire in cafes winding down over
large milky caffeinated beverages.

This begs the question, have they exerted themselves sufficiently, showered and
redressed in fresh gym clothes to demonstrate a love of fitness? Its more troubling
if this is not that case. Then why are they shopping for home-wares and high end
furniture in these fecund invisible undergarments?

Do you think we should lobby the garment industry to put used by dates on these
clothes? Like cream and meat for instance. Im sure this would have the same effect
of reducing retching in the street as the sanitisation of the food industry has.

I’m eager to hear your opinion and possible other solutions.

Regards

Sports Injury

Dear Sports Injury

What a colourful portrait you paint! This world of lycra fetishism astounds me, surely such things are nonsense, but when I searched the world wide web of information I came across such a disturbing array of fetishes that lycra seemed so innocent in comparison. Who knew swimming caps and goggles caused hearts (and loins) to flutter so!

What is acceptable and what is not? Wearing tight-fitting lycra while shopping or relaxing in a cafe is not in itself unacceptable, it is one of the grey areas of modern society whereby personal expression through fashion is so much more experimental than in my day. However, if we try to claim that there is no dress code, we are deluding ourselves. Abolishing expectations of dress in public is not a freedom, it is moral anarchy. One’s dress is not purely an individual expression of taste, personality and status; like Manners, it is an expression of our relationship to fellow man.

A person’s dress reflects a relationship with themselves and their community. We are a shared society, and pride in appearance, whether it be the time it takes to create a perfectly pointed Mohawk, to coordinate a desired nonchalance, or commit to the highest of fashion, we say to each other, I care enough to make the effort. It says to our neighbour “I see you, and this is how I would like you to see me”. We are connected.

It is unequivocally and entirely unacceptable to wear a sweat drenched exercise costume to eat or shop in public. The mere thought of a lady testing various sofas in her threadbare fabrics steeped in sweat and Impulse sends me a shudder, the implications of hygiene alone – eek. They should be ashamed.

Your suggestion of a use-by date is an excellent idea, are you in marketing? They would double their sales much like shampoo manufacturers did when some genius decided to put ‘repeat’ on the bottle’s instructions. However, my personal conviction is to work toward reducing our consumption, I would not like to recommend for people to discard clothes perfectly suitable for exercise, ironically their very raison d’etre. Perhaps a warning label might suffice?

WARNING: This garment may cause social disgrace if worn in public.
WARNING: People hate you shopping in these clothes.
WARNING: Research shows that you stink after exercise.
WARNING: 20 washes = Emperor’s New Clothes.

The likes of you and me though are in a quandary when it comes to pointing out these miscarriages of dress. How does one do so without seeming rude, or even unkind? It is an art form, truly, and that is why those with such good manners appear so elegant. Perhaps you could discretely follow the culprit around said furniture store? As you witness the derriere bearing down onto the unsuspecting sofa – voila – you kindly insert a water resistant padded cushion betwixt them. “For your comfort, Madam” you say with a dapper smile. After following her around a few more times, she might begin to realise the expectation of herself you are kindly alluding to.  

If you notice a lady drying off at a nearby cafe, pass her a scented wet towelette and a travel hand sanitiser – “you’re welcome” you say to her companions. Do you witness her virtue being threatened in a public street by worn threadbare fabrics? “My lady!” you say with urgency as you run to her aid, wrapping her in whatever comes to hand, towel, street sign, balloons, Thomas Dux bag. “Your honour is being threatened by those underclothes, never fear; I will escort you to your car.”

Thus, you are fortunate to display to the world your generous wallet, community spirit, good character, and one can only hope others will follow your fine example.

To avoid such direct intercourse you might prefer a more clandestine approach – print out this response and post it in pertinent neighbourhoods, on suspects automobiles, in shop windows, etc., etc. A public education campaign could be just the ticket!


Yours faithfully, Miss April

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Miss April Advises: Taken for Granted – Artists are peeved!

Dear Miss April,

I’ve been reading your column. It seems you are quite knowledgable when it comes to the arts and aesthetic issues.
We all hear that the arts industry is unregulated. Its a well publicized and expolited fact. We know that in opposition the goverment is leaden ,bureaucratic and unresponsive. Its a well publicized and expolited fact. What happens when these areas overlap, say with the Australian Council?

We have all seen the self interest, nepotism, shallow thinking and ego pyrotechnics at work, but happens when you get the arts industries heightened pitch overlaid on this gravelly platform provided by the goverment? Well, sometimes its self interest, nepotism, shallow thinking and ego pyrotechnics. It doesnt make for a sure footing.

The grant system seems to help in a direct individual way and the artists/ creaters/ creatives sometimes get some money too, but this cash injection is the most impotent of the boards traits. Perhaps if there were broader impacts than turning up at private openings and previews at the opera house for the bereaucrats. What about lobbying for a better tax position for artists? Imprisonment for lazy curators? Ensuring the funding goes to the artist not their dealers who write the applications? Why hell, even making their web site user friendly? Beneficial longterm outcomes!!

Do you think its time they put down the Chardonnay in Sydney and had a good look at what theyre offering the arts community and the tax paying public?

Best

Taken for Granted

Dear Taken for Granted

Stop, please, don’t! You’re making me blush! It is true that art woes seem to have predominated this advice column, but I believe that may be less about my own knowledge and more about the mindset of our local community. Lucky to have such woes!

Oh, wouldn’t it be a blessed thing to have arts funding policy decided by an Agony Aunt column, the power is making me swoon! It is interesting to note though, that yours is not the only frustrated voice (like him, him , him & her) regarding our nation’s major arts grant body. Why, I do believe our federal fund is currently under review‘transparency please!’ – is the cry upon the winds. I ask you though, what is it that you really want from Miss April? Much of what you say are statements, opinions, questions which demand a nodding and smiling agreement.

I’ll tell you this. Clogging up our prison system with yellow-bellied curators would probably exhaust our arts funding, not relieve it! We’ll have another grant category just to cover it – legal defence funds for dull curators. It is sad that we have a national tradition of ‘I’ll have what he’s having’ when it comes to acquisitions, grants, curatorial inclusions, publicity, etc, etc. All a rather big yawn isn’t it?

I agree, a user-friendly website would be helpful. I mean have you seen this clip? I agree, the system has led to accusations of nepotism! I agree, seeing the same commercial gallery being awarded tens of thousands of dollars year-in and year-out, despite them being the most successful and fiscally liquid business in the industry is rather eyebrow raising. I agree with many of your points. And that is all I can do for you here. Or is it?

Dear Ms/Mr Granted, may I call you Taken? I infer from your moniker you see yourself as a victim of said system? An artist yourself perhaps, a musician, actor, dancer, painter, writer? The frustration at the inequity of the system feels worse because you see yourself at the short end of the stick? Then I would like to impart some advice to you before I sign off here today. Put it behind you. If you spend your energy rallying against the system, not only will you go mad, you will be spending precious time and energy away from your craft. I can imagine it is frustrating that grants are awarded to others under perceived dubious methods, but fear not, because the artist does have the last laugh. Do you know the secret of becoming an artist, truly? The secret is: just do it. Don’t wait for grants, don’t waste your time thinking about policies, don’t waste your time stewing on the system, concentrate on your work.

Not to say that you should not submit your grant requests, continue to do so if you so wish. You’ve got to be in it to win it! Here is a case study where an artist is talking about their approach to writing grant applications. There is some good advice there. However, it also emphasises the need for the artist to be adroit at influential writing skills, not a skill all have, which puts them at an immediate disadvantage. So my advice for you here would be to draw upon your friends and family, if you know someone who can help you prepare – ask them. The video also inadvertently points out a bittersweet element of the grants system – multiple successes for the same artists & organisations, means no success for others. If you want to get involved, why don’t you register as a Peer? If you want to critique or suggest improvements – write, email, call them. Contact the board members. Also, you could contact the Department directly in Canberra. Make yourself KNOWN.

To be honest with you Taken, there could be vast improvements, they could inject some fresh blood and new ideas, and transparent assessment processes; and perhaps I could spend my years pondering such matters, perhaps you could too. But I would rather get back to my typewriter, and you should get back to work. 

Thank you most sincerely for entrusting me with your worries,
Yours, Miss April

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Miss April Advises: Knee Deep – kid’s parties get complicated

Dear Miss April,

I have been placed in charge of an extremely unfamiliar task. A children’s birthday party, under 10’s to be exact.
My memories are of sugary phantasms, sprinklers on lawns and throwing up in the car. I’m sure times have changed, what with child obesity and peanut, wheat and lactose intolerance in the under 10 set filling the newspaper.

I’m not sure how sparking mineral water, imaginary tea, crudites and felafel’s will go down with the pink outfitted ruffians I will be hosting.

Any catering tips would be appreciated?

Soon to be

Knee Deep

Dear Knee Deep

Good old blogs and Facebook pages now hold host to plenty of information about such topics. There is a Thermomix page (for those dedicated to the hot right then 1960s Italian kitchen technology now popular in Australia) where eager food obsessed mothers recently swapped some children’s party food ideas such as: fruit kebabs, rainbow cupcakes, cake pops (very ill-advised IMHO), or even the chocolate beetroot cakes and magic bean chocolate cakes (made with red kidney beans) for those who take delight into tricking children into eating a healthy ingredient cooked to death.

One time-blessed mother listed her complete menu: vegetarian sausage rolls, cinnamon scrolls, apricot and coconut balls, fruit platter with yoghurt dip, popcorn, mini-quiches & pikelets.

Another suggestion was homemade hummus served in individual plastic shot glasses, each fitted with a carrot and a celery stick. Healthy yes, but then you risk the ire of those who condemn such perverse overuse of plastic. A tricky balancing act at party time.

All of these are wonderful suggestions, but really most kids go straight to the cheezels that one’s husband/brother/uncle decided to serve up and ignore all healthy options. All of a sudden there are party pies, fairy bread, and bowls and bowls of lollies that seem to come from nowhere. Well-intentioned mother has wasted her time, and no-one seems to empathise because by golly its a party and time to kick back. One soon finds out, that behind the facade of conversations eye-ball deep in healthy matters, most parents are sick to death of thinking of gourmet options subconsciously suspected as pretentious brainwashing and fantasise about halcyon days of sugar highs, and food full of hyper-real colour.

This pickle of a situation recalls a story I once heard. A story of upright, disciplined citizens with only the best in mind for their child. No additives, no sugar, no fat; only a fully controlled diet for their little boy. But they understood that other parents were not so strict so chose to have their little one’s party at McDonalds, with a large food-colouring fantasy of a cake. Isn’t that nice of them? Their son, of course, could only watch on, nibbling at his rye wrap while his best friends devoured their starch and fat, and delighted in his birthday cake from which he did not taste a crumb. Model parents. A quiet boy.

But I would be remiss to treat lightly the seriousness of food allergies and child obesity. I can solve the latter by simply stating, a child’s birthday party is no place for you to worry about the Western world’s obesity problem. Leave that responsibility where it rightfully lies, with the parents, broader community’s attitudes to fast foods and capitalism. If you do have a guest with food allergies I am certain you would be duly informed, and it is then your responsibility to supply  suitable options for their needs. That’s where the magic bean cake comes in handy.

So take a page out of the child’s manual to parties, put on your tutu and join in the fun.

Bon appetit!
Miss April

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