Enter the Vogon

Last Friday I celebrated my first week at a new job. For the past few years I’ve worked as a physio in acute public hospitals in Melbourne’s East, but this week I moved to a Community Rehab facility.

It’s a simple truth that with every significant life change there is “different good”, and “different bad”. The different good has been wonderfully refreshing. I actually have time to deliver effective therapy to people, instead of rushing around like a headless chook.
I get to invent fun ways to build people’s strength and co-ordination, eg.
“Stand on this piece of foam, on one leg. Good, now I’m going to throw balls at your head.”
Three afternoons a week I get to drive around in the sunshine to visit people in their homes. Fun!

Unfortunately, to balance the different good, there is also different bad, different confusing, and different stressful. Never in my life have I filled out so many forms! Yahgrhgarhgrhg!

Say I wanted to scratch my knee. First I would need to fill out three separate application forms to do so, and send each to a different manager, along with an email to each to inform them of its arrival. Once approval came back, I would fill in 4 different assessment forms to make sure scratching was appropriate, and identify the goals for scratching. Then I would book in the appointment times for scratching on the timetable, and also add it to the spreadsheet. Then I’d phone my knee to make sure the appointment was still ok. Once I’d scratched, I’d reassess the goals and complete the original forms, enter the casenotes in my knee’s client file, check that my knee’s home exercise program was clear (for independent scratching), refer on to any long-term scratching programs in the community (more forms), write a summary letter to my knee’s GP, then discharge my knee from the client registration system. Once that was done, I’d make sure the assessment forms were in the right folder for discussion at the next interdisciplinary team meeting.


Have you read (or watched the film version) of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?
Do you remember the Vogons?


Many times in the past week I have felt like a Vogon. Especially when taking three times as long as everyone else to get all the administrative tasks done, mostly because of needing to ask 17,000 questions, and even then getting it a bit wrong.

Mmmm, job satisfaction!

After a Vogonizing day of grappling with the complex and tedious, it’s wonderful to focus on tasks or experiences that are simple and good.


Receiving enthusiastic displays of affection that pay no heed to convenience or space limitations.

Watering my garden, and gloating over how many tomatoes are growing on my single, gargantuan tomato plant (19 and counting! Ripen up you babies!)


Eating a super juicy plum, and resisting the urge to flick off the drips, until they have run all the way down to my elbow and jumped off themselves.

Going for an evening stroll.

Enjoying an after work drink in a little beer garden I know.
(This venue is particularly popular with the honeys.)

In considering how to conclude this post, I thought it might be nice to finish with some inspiring quote or something…. But I couldn’t seem to find anything that wasn’t painfully cheesy. So in that spirit, I’m embracing the cheese, and will leave you with this exquisite advertisement for Kellogg’s Cornflakes from 1989.

Yeah boy, this week I’m fighting Vogons with Bogans.


Vietnam: stories from the street

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about holidays; reflecting on past adventures and fantasizing about future ones.  On our last holiday in November 2011 we explored beautiful Vietnam. 
I took a lot of photos and ate a lot of noodles – bliss! 

Different people have different travelling styles. Some collect extreme experiences, like heli-skiing in Canada or bungee jumping off Victoria Falls. Some collect photos of themselves looking glamorous in front of classic landmarks, like the Trevi Fountain or Angkor Wat. One couple I met in Ho Chi Minh had recently graduated from the Cordon Bleu, and were travelling the world collecting culinary skills.  When Lachy and I travel, we tend to collect friends, snippets of new languages, and experiences of how the locals do life.  

One of my favourite things about travelling is the way it challenges your concept of “normal”. In Australia, we tend to keep our home lives quite private – we close our curtains, and are uncomfortable if our neighbours can easily see into our backyards.

By contrast, the Vietnamese live far more communally. Homes and shop fronts are one and the same, and daily life sprawls out onto the streets; whether that be eating,

Lunch time in HaNoi


Afternoon snooze in Hue


The Bong-and-Ladders-Shop. For all your smoking and climbing needs.

or playing.

Teaching Little Sister how to ride a bike.

Pavements become an extension of people’s homes, and also double as parking for the family vehicles. Not much, if any footpath is left for walking on, leaving many an awkward tourist dithering about how to get from A to B.

I didn’t mind though, not when moments like this can be stumbled upon on your way home from lunch.

cuddles with Bà Nội

But back to the dithering. I don’t pretend to be a Vietnamese traffic guru – we certainly did our fair share of hesitating and double-backing, particularly in HaNoi’s Old Quarter where the streets are narrow and the motorbikes are many. Negotiating Old Quarter traffic is quite an art form, like a finely choreographed dance involving pedestrians, bicycles, cars, scooters and motorbikes.

Step 2, 3, back 2, 3, pause, twist and change partners…

Once you know the steps, you’re fine, but it does takes a fair bit of practice before you can get your groove on with confidence. 

When crossing the road in Melbourne, we look left and right, wait for a break and go when it’s all clear. In HaNoi’s Old Quarter there is no break. Ever.

What about now? Hmm, no.                                                Or now? Hmm, no…

Generally the best technique is to muster your courage, step out with confidence and maintain a steady pace. Don’t stop in the middle, whatever you do! You want your movements to be predictable to the oncoming traffic, so that they can pre-empt you and drive around accordingly. And they will, don’t worry!  Hesitation is bad though because it makes the traffic hesitate, and that’s when the dance falls out of time with the music. Bang!

When all else fails, close your eyes and just keep walking.

Like many other forms of dancing, the Old Quarter Shuffle is made easier by the consumption of alcohol. 

Feeling flustered? Duck in for a cold one, and a chat with the locals.
The walk home from Bia Corner is always far less stressful.

Mot.. Hai .. Ba …YO!