Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Rebecca: The one that’s really getting me lately is…when my partner goes to bed he hangs the iPad above the bed head and puts on The Drum or Tony Jones or Lateline or Q&A, lies down, puts his ear plugs in, and then goes to sleep. He puts it on at such a level that he can hear it through his earplugs and I’m lying next to him trying to read a book with the iPad blasting at me.
Rebecca: If I go to turn it down he notices. So, I have to wait until he fully starts snoring until I can start even contemplating going to sleep.
JV: Oh that’s annoying isn’t it.
Rebecca: It’s… And often if I do fall asleep I start dreaming of Tony Jones or Steve Kinnane or Julia Baird. It’s too much!
JV: That’s a delightful team to have wandering about your dreams I would have thought.
Rebecca: Yeah, but through the earplugs? It’s like, don’t wear earplugs if you want to hear it, but he’s like ‘if I fall asleep I like to have earplugs in.’
JV: Oh, so you’d almost rather it was present in the room. Just the speaker, not the ear phones?
Rebecca: Well no, when I say earplugs I mean earplugs to block out noise not headphones. So he listens to it really loudly coming out of the speaker.
JV: Oh! He’s got earplugs in?
JV: Oh, I thought you just meant headphones.
Rebecca: No, no. Earplugs.
JV: He’s got earplugs to block noise out…
Rebecca: But puts noise on really loudly to get through it!
Rebecca: It’s driving me insane.
JV: Oh that’s just wrong.
Rebecca: In so many ways.
JV: Look, I haven’t made this judgement about many Rebecca but with this one I’ll just say that’s not put-up-with-able at all.
Rebecca: I…I….Look, you don’t want to cause conflict. I’m not having conflict in bed.
JV: No, but I mean…so, they’re those foam earplugs?
Rebecca: Foam earplugs. We’re both addicted to them. I can understand that. Since living in renovations, that’s what happens.
JV: Yes, yes.
Rebecca: And he snores so obviously that’s okay for me, but I don’t have to listen to current affairs.
(Phone rings in background)
JV: That’s your husband ringing now.
Rebecca: It is. It is.
JV: ‘How dare you. Get off the radio.’
Rebecca: He’s at work I don’t think he’s listening to the radio.
JV: So, earplugs are in, he’s got the iPad blasting.
JV: That would be so annoying.
Rebecca: It is.
JV: Can’t he put…if he’s got earplugs in…he could get headphones that got over the earplugs.
Rebecca: I’ve tried that and he says they’re uncomfortable.
JV: Oh, I’m sorry.
Rebecca: I even said ‘look you can get speakers that go in your pillow,’ but he said he wouldn’t be able to hear it through his earplugs.
JV: Wow. How long has he been doing this?
Rebecca: Oh, look…since the iPad came into the bedroom. He didn’t do it with the radio because there wasn’t as much on the radio but he’ll save up Tony Jones. Every night for a week, will try and watch Q&A, or listen to Q&A and he’ll fall asleep within seven minutes.
JV: I see, so he’s got a bit more the next night.
JV: And the next day you’re walking around saying ‘I’ll take that as a comment.’ ‘Come on we’ve got a bit to get through here so I’ll have to move on.’ Gee that is an intriguing one isn’t it? I’m just so intrigued by listening to stuff through earplugs. It’s just so contrary.
Rebecca: Yes, but that’s the man I live with.
JV: Yeah. Live with and love Rebecca?
Rebecca: Of course.
JV: Mm. I know, if you didn’t love them…
Rebecca: I wouldn’t put up with it.
JV: You would have brained him with that iPad by now right?
Rebecca: Yes. Definitely.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
JV: What do you live with Simone?
Simone: My husband likes drinking wine out of red wine glasses. But he leaves the glasses hanging around and doesn’t wash them. We don’t have a dishwasher, so I keep telling him to wash his glass when he’s finished but he doesn’t. So I’ve taken to every glass he doesn’t wash up, I smash it. So we now have plastic wine glasses.
JV: You smash them?
Simone: I don’t mind drinking my drink out of plastic. I’ll drink out of a tea cup.
JV: So if he doesn’t wash it up, you smash it?
JV: So you have none?
JV: So you were getting tired of this?
Simone: Quite. Because they’re very easy to knock over. When they’re round the kitchen sink.
JV: Are you saying he should do the dishes more often, or just when he’s drunk red wine he should go over and wash his glass.
Simone: Just wash the glass.
JV: A rinse out, ready for washing?
Simone: Wash it out, dry it off, put it away.
JV: And should he do that if he has a cup of tea?
Simone: No. Because that’s not a long stemmed glass.
JV: Why is it that you need them washed straight away?
Simone: Because, it’s very easy to knock them over. Our kitchen is not very big. It’s a tight galley. So we now use plastic wine glasses.
JV: So it’s only the long stemmed wine glasses that you insist on being washed up.
Simone: And put away.
JV: Is your husband there?
Simone: No. He’s walked away. He said he should be ringing to complain about me smashing them.
JV: Well, I do think smashing them is a fairly extreme response. Has he gone out to buy a half dozen more.
Simone: No he doesn’t dare. The fact is, someone gave us some. But there in a box and we’re only using the plastic.
JV: You are sounding fairly extreme to me Simone.
Simone: When I married him fourteen years ago, I didn’t know he couldn’t cook. And he looked at me one night and said, “What are you cooking for dinner?” and I said, “David, I don’t do a cooked dinner at night and I’m not about to start now.”
JV: And this didn’t happen until after you were married?
JV: Can I get back to the wine glasses? I just want to get this straight in my own mind. You want him to wash up the glasses because if he leaves them hanging around the kitchen, they might get broken?
JV: But when he leaves them around unwashed, you smash them.
JV: Doesn’t seem odd to you? You smash them so they won’t get broken?
Simone: Only way to stop him.
JV: Wow. You two have an interesting relationship.
Simone: He never leaves the toilet seat up. That’s how I knew he was the man for me.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
JV: What do you live with Helen?
Helen: I live with a man we call the Silverback Gruntler.
JV: The Silverback Gruntler...
Helen: Yes because, well, he’s silver and middle aged.
Helen: And he gruntles all the time. It’s this low level grumbling that goes on as he appears and disappears throughout the house during the day. *makes gruntling sound*
JV: And that’s more of a gruntle?
Helen: Yeah well we think it’s a gruntle. It’s like he’s disgruntled with life and so he’s gruntling about it.
JV: And is he articulating something? ‘Oh I couldn’t park the car properly and I don’t know where the keys are...’ Are there things that he’s actually gruntling about?
Helen: Little ordinary things like, he’ll go to the shop for me and ring me on the mobile and say ‘they don’t sell butter. I’ve been down here and there’s not butter. They don’t sell it.’ And I’ll say ‘it’s Woolworths, of course they sell butter.’ He’ll go ‘Nup. Nup. I’ve looked and I’m telling you Helen, I can’t find it.’ So I’ll say ‘look where are you now?’ and he describes the shop to me. I have to tell him which aisle to go down and while he’s walking along I can hear this *makes gruntling sound*
Helen: The only time he doesn’t grumble is during council clean up. The night before council clean up he almost changes the oil in the car. Then he’s out first thing in the morning and he brings home machines. And he is a genius at fixing machines, I must admit.
Helen: But he brings home all sorts of things. Computers... Big plasma television sets are his favourite. We have seven of those in the garage.
JV: You’ve got seven big plasma TVs?
Helen: Yes, including a 60 inch one he got when he was working at the Opera House and they threw it out.
Helen: And he colonises every available space in the house with his machines. So I take the machines and, the next time there’s a council clean up, I throw them out again after his collecting thing. Then he grumbles about not being able to find his machines. He walks around the house going ‘I’m sure I had one of those. I’m sure I had one. I wanted it for the spare parts. Oh they’ve gone, they’ve gone.’
Helen: He’s just absolutely amazing. I fear sometimes that the shed doors will roll up and a music machine...a large machine with lights will roll out with my husband at the helm of it because he just...well I don’t know what he does with these machines.
JV: Oh, I see. You suspect he’s making something kind of...he’s a Caractacus Potts. He’s making some sort of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in the garage.
Helen: He must be doing something with them because, y’know, apart from grumbling and being up in the shed with his collection of machines there’s really not a lot else he does.
JV: Right, and has he always been a grumbler?
Helen: Oh yes.
JV: Right. So, when you married him did he go ‘Oh, the priest is late...’
JV: ‘Those cars were ridiculously expensive!’
Helen: (laughs) You’re obviously related to him.
JV: Helen, otherwise a delightful man?
Helen: ...yes...No, no, yes he is a delightful man. Other than the fact that...I think he’s a very negative person so he always sees the worst in everything. Except when it comes to a loose machine that’s flying around on the road, then it’ll be perfectly useable but everything else in life will be *grumbling noise*
Helen: So I think, yes he is a delightful man and he’s got a lovely sense of humour when he’s not grumbling or fixing machines.
JV: Well Helen it does sound like you live with a lot there really. Thank you for reporting it this afternoon.
Helen: You’re more than welcome and if you’re ever in need of a giant TV just let me know please.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Fairlie: Oh James look it’s probably a bit soon to be calling back...
JV: No, no it’s lovely to hear from you again. For those of you who haven’t been listening to This Is What I Live With in the last few weeks, Fairlie is married to umbrella man. This is the man who scours the streets. He loves a broken umbrella. He loves the long bits of wire from street sweepers because they’re very good for fixing umbrellas. He fixes umbrellas, puts a name on them and then guards them carefully forever more. This apparently Fairlie is not his only odd thing.
Fairlie: No, well look I heard you talking about the scarcity of hankies not long ago and how they’re an endangered species.
Fairlie: And I think, if they’re not tucked into people’s hanky drawers, a lot of them might be at our house.
Fairlie: This is another hideous specialisation of my husband’s scavenging disease. Winter’s far more of a strain because it’s the cold and flu season. He goes out on his morning walk and he has a gift for finding them. You’ll never guess what he picks them up with.
Fairlie: The point of an umbrella. Ahhh!
JV: So you mean he find discarded hankies, as in the cloth things people blow their noses in...
Fairlie: That’s the one.
JV: Not paper tissues?
Fairlie: No hankies. He brings them home and he sterilises them in nappy cleaner.
Fairlie: And then he launders them very carefully and he puts them in this little camphor box that his mother gave him.
JV: Isn’t that lovely.
Fairlie: And I swear that he’s collecting an alphabet of monogrammed handkerchiefs. Don’t ask me how many are in there. It’s like the Bluebeard of hankies to me, that box.
JV: Wow. So does he specialised in the monogrammed hanky?
Fairlie: Well when we can get his hands on them. He comes home and he shouts ‘the Lord provideth’ which is pretty rich because he’s not at all religious.
JV: And ‘the Lord provideth’ is an indication that he found a hanky that morning?
Fairlie: That’s it.
JV: And how often might he find a hanky?
Fairlie: Well in winter it’s more prolific. I tell you what, I’m the first person in autumn to be having a flu vaccination.
JV: Right. Yeah.
Fairlie: Just one more thing is soft fabrics. Ah, towel rags that he finds that people have discarded that they’ve used to wipe their dipsticks with...
JV: Oh yeah?
Fairlie: He washes and bleaches them, and he’s a dainty sew-er. So he hems them and then they become dishrags.
JV: Well isn’t that handy. That is good. Look at the savings there.
JV: Now the hanky...I’m not looking for them, but I didn’t know you could find discarded hankies.
Fairlie: Well somehow, it’s like socks, they have a way of coming out of people’s pockets. You’d be surprised.
JV: But do they make it out onto the street? I mean, as you’ve observed, the hanky is an endangered species.
Fairlie: No, this is on his morning walk at Ferry Wharf and at bus stops and...
JV: Right. So people play drop the hanky.
Fairlie: And he picks them up with the point of the umbrella.
JV: Wow...and you would estimate there’s, what, one hundred in this camphor box?
Fairlie: I’m not looking in there. It’s the Bluebeard’s chamber that camphor box.
JV: So he’s got a glory boy kind of thing?
Fairlie: He does but no, there’s many of them there.
JV: I mean you’ve said before that he’s a delightful fellow.
Fairlie: No, he is. He’s a gorgeous person.
JV: Just a couple of those sorts of things. It doesn’t sound like you’re suffering here.
Fairlie: No, but don’t be thinking we’ll be sleeping in on New Year’s day like everybody else. There’s rich pickings to be had out there.
JV: What? Umbrellas and hankies?
Fairlie: Oh, all sorts of things from the revellers...the unsuspecting revellers.
JV: Oh so he’s up early?
Fairlie: We’re up early.
JV: ‘Come on Fairlie, let’s be going.’
Fairlie: Let’s be going.
JV: And where do you head to? Where are your favourite gathering spots?
Fairlie: Oh well Bondi beach is rick pickings.
JV: Yep. You could pick up whole people there.
Fairlie: He’s very good about handbags and wallets though.
JV: Do they go back?
Fairlie: They go back.
JV: Is he a metal detector person?
Fairlie: No, no he doesn’t want any fancy....no he’s not into gimmicks like that.
JV: Right. Just what the Lord provideth.
Fairlie: Yes...And, by the way, all those friends in adverted commas that are bringing broken umbrellas to us, it’s not funny.
JV: Yeah. Could they stop now.
JV: Well Fairlie you’ve booked a regular spot here really. I’m starting to see it perhaps as therapy. Would he like to come on and talk to us?
Fairlie: Oh I wouldn’t say he’d do that.
JV: Right okay.
Fairlie: I might be sailing very close to the wind with this phone call.
JV: Yes, okay. Well if you catch a cold while you’re sailing close to the wind...
Fairlie: Yes imagine when the swine flu epidemic was coming, how nervous I was then.
JV: But if you do catch a cold you’ve got some hankies so that’s good.
Fairlie: I’m not allowed to touch them. I’ve told you, they’re in that camphor box.
JV: Wow Fairlie, thank you so much and please call any time. Thank you for those participating in This Is What I Live With I think we all feel a little bit better about ourselves.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
JV: What do you live with Gabrielle?
Gabrielle: Well I live with a husband who gets scared if you sneeze near him.
Gabrielle: I happen to be…both me and my sisters happen to be the loudest sneezers in the entire universe so he really lucked out with that one.
JV: Yep, Yep. So you’re very loud sneezers but is he scared of anyone sneezing?
Gabrielle: Oh yes, anyone at all so all his friends know now that they have to warn him. A tap on the shoulder or a wave or something like that.
JV: ‘I’m about to sneeze. I’m going to sneeze!’ And once he’s warned he’s okay?
Gabrielle: Yeah he’ll block his ears. Yep.
JV: So he’s actually frightened? He’s got sneeze-o-phobia?
Gabrielle: He absolutely does. Sneeze-o-phobia and I think his sisters all had incredibly loud sneezes as well so maybe that set the scene for him later in life…for his phobia.
JV: How did he get on with his sisters?
Gabrielle: He gets on with them all extremely well considering they all live in Ireland and he lives in Australia.
JV: Ah, see I think something happened there.
JV: I think they would sneeze on their way in to tease him.
Gabrielle: Or sneak up behind him and sneeze.
JV: Yeah so he hears a sneeze and something bad’s about to happen.
Gabrielle: I don’t know. I really don’t quite understand it.
JV: Well he doesn’t live there. He’s moved.
Gabrielle: Yes, he’s moved, but he’s moved in with someone who has a really loud sneeze so…
JV: Hmm. How does he manifest this fear? What happens? Does he cry?
Gabrielle: (laughs) No he hasn’t cried but he’s just really disturbed. He gets really quite upset without crying.
JV: How long does that last, that moment of fear?
Gabrielle: Oh just an instant but for him it probably feels like a year.
JV: Right, and when you go and meet new people for example do you ever say ‘look, by the way, if you’re going to sneeze could you let us know?’
Gabrielle: Yeah we do. We absolutely do.
Gabrielle: If we’re in a café or a restaurant or something like that and somebody on another table or even around the corner sneezes, he looks at them as though ‘you should know better. I am within cooee of your presence and how dare you sneeze when I’m anywhere vaguely near you.’
JV: What about his own sneeze?
Gabrielle: It’s enormous as well. (laughs) So…
JV: Is he scared of his own sneeze though?
Gabrielle: No, he’s not. I did ask him that and no he’s not scared of his own sneeze. I don’t know, maybe he’s able to brace himself before he does it.
JV: But he’s able to work and go out into social circumstance?
Gabrielle: As long as somebody doesn’t sneeze near him, yeah.
JV: You’ll be pleased to know that Jo has written on the text service: ‘The sneeze-phobia is not unique. I have to warn my partner as well.’
Gabrielle: Well there you go.
JV: You’re not alone!
Gabrielle: He’s not alone. I’ll let him know.
JV: How long have you been together Gabrielle?
Gabrielle: Just over 10 years.
JV: 10 years and is the sneezing issue getting worse or..?
Gabrielle: Only if the house is dusty.
JV: No, I mean is his fear getting worse or staying the same?
Gabrielle: No, it’s the same. It’s been the same over the last 10 years.
JV: Well Gabrielle thank you so much for calling. It’s fascinating to meet you and your husband. I didn’t know there was a sneeze-phobia community in Sydney but we’ve met at least two of them this afternoon.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
JV: Hello Dan. You are a multiple alarmist of extreme proportions. Describe your morning process.
Dan: Well I have a mobile phone on vibrate under the pillow and then I have a dual alarm next to the bed. I have a wind up alarm clock on the other side of the room and I have the TV set at a certain time. Then I’ve also got an alarm set in the kitchen so that I have to get up.
JV: Now what time’s the vibrating mobile set for?
JV: Oh 2:30 so…did you ring last week?
JV: So are you a baker or something?
Dan: No, no, no. I work in the military but I have to be up by 4 and 2:30 is when I start the alarm process and slowly wake up. I sort of feel ripped off if I haven’t had multiple alarms.
JV: Don’t you just need a single call from a bugle?
Dan: (laughs) No, it takes me ages to get up.
JV: Aren’t you meant to be military ready? Y’know Dan , at the moment the enemy is coming, you’re meant to just snap awake?
Dan: The alarm’s louder.
JV: So you have eight alarms?
Dan: Eight alarms yeah and I’ve gone down to one once or twice. The better half’s tried to convert me and it hasn’t worked.
JV: How could the better half even stay there if every day you’re doing this between 2:30 and 3?
Dan: Um…she’s amazingly patient. (laughs) I wouldn’t like to live with it.
JV: Amazingly patient. See you know and recognise the problem. You’ve got one on the other side of the room so do you get up, cross to the other side of the room, and then get back into bed?
JV: Oh man, I’d smother you with a pillow at that point.
Dan: I just feel like I’m getting more sleep that way. I don’t know why.
JV: Why don’t you set for 3 o’clock and just get up?
Dan: No, I’ve got to ease into the process mate.
JV: So your sense is that you’ve got to move slowly, you can’t just get straight out?
Dan: Yep. That’s it. That’s me to a T.
JV: Wow. Gee that’s an interesting foible isn’t it? Are you thinking of getting a job that perhaps starts at 8 in the morning?
Dan: No, I like the current job thanks.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Fairlie: Well James, I have an umbrella problem. My husband is incapable of going past an abandoned umbrella. No case is too hopeless.
Fairlie: He brings them home, and he takes them down into his shed, and he performs transplants on them.
JV: Oh, okay. Wow.
Fairlie: He’ll put different handles onto different bodies.
JV: Oh, yeah so he grafts them?
Fairlie: He grafts them and I think it’s unnatural. I think it’s playing around with nature.
JV: He’s a Frankenstein.
Fairlie: He’s like the Dr Frankenstein of umbrellas. And the scary thing is, when they’re fixed, he scratches his name and phone number on them and if you take one out and leave it behind somewhere you may as well change your name and go into a witness protection program.
JV: Wow. Woe betide those who lose one of his rescued umbrellas.
JV: Gee that is an interesting obsession isn’t it.
Fairlie: It is interesting. We’ve almost had accidents backing up on the road. He sees one and reverses.
JV: (laughs) Has he always done this?
Fairlie: It’s getting worse.
JV: Oh, it’s getting worse.
Fairlie: We’ve got so many umbrellas. I can’t tell you how many umbrellas we’ve got. He still keeps stopping and fixing.
JV: Fairlie…are you okay?
JV: Do you need a moment?
Fairlie: (deep breath) I’ll be right.
JV: Wow. In all other respects a wonderful man?
Fairlie: Oh yes, yes, yes. Never a dull moment.
JV: No, it sounds like it! I’ve never heard of an umbrella hospital before. They’re reasonably cheap.
Fairlie: Yes (laughs)
JV: I like the fact that he’s possessive of them. I thought what you were going to say was that he…
Fairlie: No he’s not giving them away to charity or anything.
JV: Well I thought was that he might spread them back into the world. So that there were functioning umbrellas. Y’know ‘Oh that one works, isn’t that fantastic?’
Fairlie: Not a hope.
JV: Right. They become his.
Fairlie: They become his.
JV: Can you estimate how many umbrellas might be in the shed now?
Fairlie: Oh, well there’d be dozens of them.
JV: Dozens of them?
Fairlie: Dozens of them.
JV: What about…you’re on your way to dinner for example…
Fairlie: Oh no, of course we have to stop. Driving rain, you name it.
JV: Right, out he’ll get. You’re walking up the street and you’re going to go into a restaurant. He’s picked up a rescued umbrella?
Fairlie: That’s it. Sometimes he even puts pipes on them if he hasn’t got the right handle that’ll match a body.
JV: Well it’s good he’s got an interest Fairlie.
Fairlie: Yeah right.
JV: Does he ever turn any of these skills to anything else?
Fairlie: Leave it with me. I’ll think of something else and ring you again.