Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Movement at the station. Hot on the heels of the Canberra Times' "Babies of 2004" liftout comes The Land's guide to rural Australia's most attractive bachelors and spinsters, or as they like to call them, "Hunks and Spunks". So of course my workmates and I now all have a mascot honey.

I am probably going to have to have a scrag fight with Sophie V because she has taken my own favourite, Chad Pink, 21, of Narromine, a harvesting contractor. Chad's favourite food and drink are McDonalds and Bundy. He likes country rock, and the best pick-up line he's ever heard is: "Can I take your photo to give to Santa Claus so he knows what I want for Christmas?" If he won $1 million, he would buy a couple of pubs.

My hunk is Russell Flanagan, 19, of Gulgong, an apprentice farrier. His favourite food and drink are steak and Tooheys New (oh, the brewing-related arguments we would have!). His biggest turn-on is a girl in a bikini, so I had better get to the gym post-haste. But his biggest turn-off is a girl being sick in the gutter. Doh! I think my relationship with Russell is doomed before it even begins.

But maybe I could two-time Russ with James Griffiths, 20, of Dubbo, a farmer. This is solely because the best pick-up line he's heard is: "How you doin'?" I assume he pronounces it the Matt LeBlanc way, but that pop-culture reference was obviously lost on The Land, which makes it sound as though all James has to do to pull the ladies is enquire how they are.

There is another kind of movement at the station at my work. Yesterday the worst-kept office secret ever was unveiled - the fact that my boss is buying Crikey. We all knew about this since last year (as did The Age), and we were practising our 'surprised' faces all afternoon, especially since we noticed Di had put several bottles of champagne to chill in the fridge. But Eric is such a master of deadpan that I couldn't work out if he was serious when he began his speech with: "I'm sure this will come as a bit of a surprise to you..."

At these celebratory drinks, I also discovered that you should never attempt to make a champagne shandy by adding lemonade - it tastes like Strongbow. I have been very enthusiastic about shandies lately - they are a great solution for when you want to drink beer but have to drive. And they taste really nice too. I am trying singlehandedly to repopularise the shandy as a sophisticated and hip drink, and I thought I could also camouflage the inevitably terrible champagne provided at work by diluting it with lemonade. But let me reiterate that you should never try this at home.

But I'm quite worried about what this new acquisition will mean for us. I don't usually like to blog about it, but for quite a few months I have been wondering whether this job of mine is actually heading anywhere. I certainly look forward to going to work, and I enjoy the company of my workmates and the interesting things we get to discover in the course of sifting through so many topics and media sources. And even after almost two years of doing it, I still find the nature of the job sufficiently stimulating.

But I am getting too old to be living off the kind of pocket money I make. And I have come to feel really dispensable, as though my initiative and judgment - the things that I personally can bring to the job - are not only unnecessary but unwelcome. If I left I really wouldn't be missed, and I'm worried that under the new workplace structure, I would only have to do more work for less appreciation and the same money.

Of course, there are much worse kinds of white-collar gimps to be: any job that calls for a headset, for one. Then there's the kind of corporate gimpdom that my school tried to box us all into and that I satirise in my show - you know, jobs with "relations" and "consultant" and "executive" and "associate" in the title, that involve meetings and memos and emails and intrays. The sort of jobs on the business cards that Little Collins Street booty hos stuff into the jar at Caffe e Torta.

Gotta go - I have an art review to write now, and a story about how Robert de Niro has jumped the shark.

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