Miss April Advises: #1 Fan, Christmas Present .

Dear Miss April,

few months back i got a new friend. one of my clients at work. A smart engineer, in his fourties. He gives you a serious first impression but as you get to know him, you soon realise he is a fun, social seeetheart. He’s preety cool and i am crazy about his friend !

so recently we met after holidays and he gives me a gift, “just a christmas gift” (he describes) actually a misunderstanding because my colleague/best friend at work got him a present and he thought it was me when i cleared things… was too late, he had given me the gift already… A beautiful enormous red heart, some sort of pillow he bought back home and nicely packed.

heartwarming, i hardly get gifts 😦

Now afcourse i have to give something in return… no surprise here, i dont know what to give.

thinking i have this really cool electronic cigar with nice flavours to go along.(no tobacco)

and i went to ask him. our convo…

Do you smoke? he replied no.
me: Because you can’t or you dont want to? He says: just never been curious, i smoke yes but not tobacco,why?He asks. I said: Because i have something really nice i want you to try. That def made him curious. he kept asking about it all day long 😀 but i never gave him in time because he travelled.

He is coming back soon and now i have to choose, i either give him the electronic cigar or a pen (that might be expensive)

my friends say an electronic cigar is not an appropriate gift for a non smoker but i keep on insisting with this because it will save me less i dont have to buy it 🙂 and I dont think the electronic cigar will hook him up but i also dont want to look like someone who offers things that can be addictive. electronic cigar is safe for me atleast. Oh and I also want to make an awesome impression in his friend with the gift.

Ok my dear miss salvation, help me decide please ? whats your opinion with the electronic cigar ? if its a no then any other ideas …

regards,

your #1 fan xoxo

images

Dear Dearest of Dears,

I do declare, I am beginning to know you. Yet, I do not know thine age. What year are you in, my dear? I hear many readers now cry out – what oft this? How does age matter? Well, I’m of the belief that usually the people who claim “age is no matter” are much older men justifying undeclared dalliances. I bring this up because your attention falls upon a man in his forties. Of such a mature age, is he not married? Committed? I say to you, if he is, why on earth is he handing out heart shaped pillows? (I mean apart from learning seduction techniques from the Sweet Valley High series with a babysitter fetish).

If he is not betrothed, in his forties and a sophisticated, connected man of the world, how on earth does he think such a gift would win someone over?

Enough of your coquettishness. Do not prevaricate around the bush. If you are desirous of presenting a gift of an electronic cigar (what on earth is this?) or a pen, why not go all out and just get a penis shaped bottle opener? Does phallic symbolism mean nothing anymore? Forgive me for my maternal extinct, but my suggestion is gift him with a fire extinguisher and expunge this ill-fated dalliance before it has time to engulf everyone around it.

You are bored. You need to get a better hobby then dull old men. With best wishes for your happiness,
Yours,
Miss April

PS. True friends don’t fuck around with ridiculous gifts.

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Miss April Advises: Rhet Oracle – Heidegger Artistential Crisis.

Hello Miss April,

Ive been reading Heidegger again. Some say a waste of time. I say [ via Heidegger] Time is not a thing, thus nothing which is, and yet it remains constant in its passing away without being something temporal like the beings in time. So there.
But then I disovered this statement .

“The most thought-provoking thing in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking.”, which is vexing is its new relevance especially when you consider the people who chose to be in government. I think Gertrude Stein might have had a hand in this one except for their polar politics and temporal disconnect.

Do you think philosphy is a dead art, or do we need to recallibate for twitter, like a micro hiaku?
Is it better to concrete or esoteric?

Regards

Rhet Oracle

Dear Rhet Oracle

“Three dangers threaten thinking.
the good and thus wholesome
danger is the nighness of the singing poet.
The evil and thus keenest danger is
thinking itself. It must think against
itself, which it can only seldom do.
The bad and thus muddled danger
is philosophising.” –

The most profound promise I can make to you in this day is – Follow me – I follow back!

And it works. So we wander about in rather small patterns of circles. Looking busy and going nowhere.

When I was a young lass we used to spend our evenings in a candlelit parlour, knitting, writing, reading; a rather brash young suitor of mine used to read the most extraordinary verses from lands afar. My father greatly disapproved, but considering that figure of authority was a figment of my imagination I guess I shouldn’t have been too shackled by his remonstrations. Alas, strangely, I was. We philosophised, but it was called scripture and blasphemy. The combination of both made each more important and powerful. You know, the funny thing is, the devil can not exist unless our god does first.

As the Lord of Thespians the world over wrote “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.” Are we looking at the end of time? Considering time is what we created for ourselves, perhaps we are. When we keep handing our power to the fools we create shorter and shorter futures for ourselves.

Yours faithfully, Miss April

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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: Help Didit, Help Me!

Dear Miss April,

A childish prank has got slightly out of hand and left me in a bit of a pickle. Quite an embarrassing pickle as it happens. Due to a serious miscarriage of justice, I find myself residing permanently in the local lunatic asylum. Do not upset yourself over this. It is not such a bad life. The problem arose when I decided to bring some excitement and laughter into the very dull lives of my fellow inmates who do little more than rock back and forwards in their chairs all day long or scream at the invisible people in the asylum. I felt certain that having entered the asylum kitchen and laced the staff luncheon with a mixture of strychnine and strong laxatives, a good deal of amusement would be provided for the inmates. Strychnine as you may know causes severe convulsions and of course laxatives have a single purpose for which they are most effective. The two combined are guaranteed to cause a good deal of hilarity (except of course for the person who has ingested the mix). The problem arose when I decided to add something special to the event by setting fire to the mattress in my cell. The mattresses we use are quite old and tend to be stuffed with horse hair and goodness knows what else and create a thick black cloud of toxic fumes when burnt. I have accidentally pulled the door of my cell behind me and it has locked. I cannot attract the attention of the staff who are otherwise engaged after having enjoyed their luncheon. I cannot extinguish the mattress and a cloud of toxic fumes is spreading slowly toward me. Dear Miss April, what should I do? I would appreciate your wise advice at your earliest convenience. Yours hopefully, Alfred Didit.

Dear Mr Didit

Oh, alas, wellaway, Mr Didit, wellaway….

I am overcome with self-loathing as I must assume that sir, you have passed. It has been a good week gone now, and unlike those who have been born in a modern age, I do not visit the lights of my computer regularly. I am often sitting in the garden for days on end, waiting for a lover to run over the hilltop – poetry, flowers, sunshine, my life is an imagination taking place outdoors. It is my utter disgrace to have left you locked indoors amidst your fiery hellish doom.

Alas, you have passed. My dear sir, may you find peace.

However, for those who are reading and find some similarity in your circumstance let me help you thusly. For God’s sake, use the fire extinguisher. None about? Use the woolen blanket. Throw it over the flames to smother the oxygen, hence suffocating the red dancing demon. He is gloating you know.

Now let me address some more serious pathologies of lovely Mr Didit. Death is not entertainment except to the psychopaths. Psychopaths do not need advice, they do not accept advice, they do not deserve advice. Those of others who are in bedlam but are not psychopaths are not by default dull. Oh no, they are most likely very ill and just trying to survive.

From your enjoyment of the combination of poo and eccentricity you reveal yourself as an anglophile, or merely a British Royal. Bravo, sir. You have made it to the history books. If you did not run and jump, escaping through the closest window into the murky moat, or as suggested used that lovely woolen blanket as a saviour, then I bid you farewell Sir. Life has come, and life has passed, and perhaps we are all the safer for it.

Remember Didit, fire and sexual repression go hand in hand, so hands off,
yours, Miss April

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Miss April Advises: Hair Affair – snow-fro sex.

Dear Miss April,

I’m going out on a limb here, but I am thinking of dating a man with an sno-fro.

However, my issue lies not with the ‘fro’ itself but rather the silhouette of the afroe mentioned man when post-coitally wet. In polite and sometimes impolite company his often buoyant locks and joi de coiffure fill the room.

Should we unite as one of backs and cracks, and spend a dream loosened from the stream of lucidity, then shaken in the fur light of the morning as tulips wilt or weep, one can be taken to flee at the sight of a freshly showered poodle. What was once a throng of bubbling follicle froth is suddenly a limp moist tonsure tossed from the tub in lost hope.

Of course I hypothesise as the scene of my distress is still a play to be run but the problem lies in that the cast are ready to mount the stage and I can only see one act. What should I do?

Cordially yours

Hair Affair

Dear Hair Affair

Bravo to your cocksure wordsmithing! Continue to wax lyrical like Lord Byron and I might be out on a limb myself if I were so endowed.

There is such familiar comfort for me in your combination of confidence and pessimism in the face of good fortune, it reminds one of….oh yes, you must be Jewish, Neurotic, Catholic, an over-analytical stuck-up aesthete.

You are contemplating dating a snow-fro gent; let us assume that he is willing to accept said scenario and we have two protagonists in this play of life. Surely your admiration of him runs deeper than the personification of his natural bouffant? But already you fear a limp, flaccid snow-fro will have the equivalent effect on your desire…for an encore.

The most important piece of advice I have for you here is that if post-coital meeting of the secret gardens you aren’t both sodden messes you clearly aren’t doing it right. To be sure, I would not underestimate the resilience of a genetically formed snow-fro, nonetheless if it does metamorphose it is your duty as a lover to allow uninhibited vulnerability. It is your duty to yourself to allow the same for you. Or else, where’s the fun?

My second piece of advice may have more lasting significance. I say this to you – enter stage one with the true intentions of a thoughtful Thespian. Introduce these characters to each other; get to know them, allow the inhibitions to dissipate along the journey, and leave the consummation for the finale, by which time even if the snow-fro turns into a bathmat it may do so without fear of repulsion, merely the sense of satisfaction for a job well done.

Break a leg Hair Affair, may pleasure be your applause,
Most affectionately, Miss April

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Miss April Advises: Cheer Leader – blind happy gesamtkunstwerk

Dear Miss April,

I think of myself as a positive person. I like to greet the world with objective optimism. Over the the holiday season I have begun to doubt the effect of my ebullience. Even on tiresome Xmas lunches I’ve chattered nattily. I tried engaging teenagers and techno toddlers. I even chucked the cheeks of grumpy uncles. Now the pudding is gone, I am getting feedback that I am “too blindly happy”. It seems my cheer is causing some chagrin and I am being viewed as witless for my mere wish to spread some joy and cheer up some pitiful stained lives.
Ever the optimist, I changed tack and decided to try empathy. I hit a hard crowd as my first target was that hot bed of apathy, teenagers. Ignored, I moved onto Gen Y’ers. It was plainly illustrated that was too ironic in my desire to elevate in a set of protracted text messages. It appears hopefulness can seep out my crevices to be detected by the entitled schadenfreud[ians] of the Y type.
Every where I turn my effusiveness is spurned. I feel backed into a grey rabbit felt corner. Can Beuys help? Or Gin perhaps?
Should I go for gold and join the scientologists or not worry and be happy?

Yours enthusiastically

Cheer leader

Dear Cheer Leader

In short – yes to Beuys, gin and happiness; no to Scientology and worry. However, if you have a spot of spare time come take my hand and let us inspect this further under the microscope…

I would like to begin by stating that I completely understand. The scenarios you mention are not uncommon to my personal observations, but they are rare. There are unique personalities who show ‘ebullience’ in social situations to people they are acquainted with or have just been introduced, about subjects they initiate, the music playing or not playing, participating wholeheartedly with motives pure but mistaken by others. Often it is an expression of enthusiasm that is unfamiliar to almost everyone there because it lies beyond the boundary of that which is socially expected and experienced. Unwittingly, your cheer unnerves them. What could be going through the minds of these average Joes and Jills? Goodness only knows, but I suspect they could possibly be thinking – is this odd character genuine? Is this bundle of joy ironically casting aspersions upon me? Is this spoken word actually English? Who is Beuys?

It is possible you are threatening them, Cheer. Most likely they would not even be able to articulate fully why this is so, hence accusations of being ‘witless’. Let us not blame them totally, as recent research shows it does take a certain amount of stupidity to be happy these days; deep thinking tends toward sadness. Gosh, we are within an era of anxious pessimism deeply entrenched in politically correctness and hip social engagement, so your enthused glee might not be de rigueur right at the moment.

I know it is very seductive to demonise those who reject us, but although you do succumb to this somewhat I find that you also display an admirable quality. You are self-aware enough to try again. Ys, grey bandits, babes, teens, all in the season of Christmas cheer must be family, friends, or a degree separated. You have a reason to try again, you want to connect with them so you try different approaches. Well done. Not many people can lay claim to this type of reflection, resilience and persistence. This displays a commitment to a most notable aspect of humanity, the need to be understood, and here you are attempting both – to be understood and to understand. Or are you? I have a niggle, Cheer, and only you can answer this. Is your ebullience a guard, a shield, a deflection to vulnerability? Perhaps your level of cheer creates an instinctive distrust in others because they have sense of a facade, and therefore they do not know the mystery underneath, is it innocent or malevolent?

My advice to you is this: reflect on my suggestion, reject or accept as truthfully as you can and see where that leads you. Regardless, you obviously have a natural predilection for Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk which spills over into your everyday conversation techniques. What you might find is that your approach will eventually pay off. Persistence is key. Much like the joy a familiar musical score can bestow upon a crowd, the crux is familiarity. A few Christmases down the track you will find those who once disdained you look forward to your entertaining if somewhat perplexing interchange and you become a favourite of said soirees.

If, after time and effort, you find that still there is no success then yes, perhaps they are a bunch of simpletons, bastards and dullards, and by all means allow yourself the fecundity to not worry and be happy – Viva Gesamtkunstwerk! 

Keep cheering,
Yours, Miss April

Postscript: At no point, under no circumstance, in no world imaginary or real, could I possibly advise you to join an (alleged) expensive cult as a cure for woe or path to joy. I would happily discuss this further but really, that’s another most extensive post.

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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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