Life Down Under not so common(wealth) for resident Kiwi

By Liam Nash

With regular Word Girl columnist Sandy Lloyd away, our stand in Word Guy Liam Nash is talking footy.

Finals fever — the best time of the year. Hailing from a nation where the big dance is saved for cup competitions and isn’t at the end of a regular season, the buzz around footy finals was somewhat of an unknown entity to me.

Until recently. Covering the netball at the Kyabram District League finals a fortnight ago was an eye-opening experience not to be forgotten any time soon, with so many burning images seared into my head over the span of those eight or so hours.

The first inkling of what was to come was when I entered the gates of Mooroopna Recreation Reserve.

There were enough white dudes sporting dreadlocks to pack out a Rage Against The Machine concert, sinking tins mere hours after sparrow's fart.

Next was a memorable figure adorned in red, blue and white, slapping his posterior and exclaiming “come get some of this” (it later turned out that he was the assistant coach of a 13-and-under netball team, but that is neither here nor there).

I simply wasn’t ready for the antics about to ensue.

Manoeuvring through the swarming numbers, I headed over to the 13-and-under grand final, one of the first on the day’s menu; and boy, did it deliver.

I was met with booming cries that ruptured the silence every minute or so as each side went tit for tat at either end in the opening stanza.

Next was the raw, desperately pained tones emanating from the huddle of the trailing side at each quarter break.

The game followed that same trend for the remaining 45 minutes, until a technicolour crowd spilled onto the asphalt and offered its congratulations and commiserations to the girls at the sounding of the final hooter.

Feeling like the world’s most enormous pest, I buzzed around the officiating table trying to get a word in to the visibly irked chief umpire for a snap of the scoresheets, who shot daggers in my direction.

I got the message all right.

A quick chat to the coach and that was it. One down, seven to go.

As the games rolled on, I caught a whiff of the elusive chicken steak sandwich as members of the crowd surged past during intervals, only adding to the rumble burgeoning at the pit of my stomach.

Remembering I had failed to partake in the most important meal of the day, I soon found out I had committed the cardinal sin of podiacide — the act of shooting one’s self in the foot.

What came next was the harrowing experience of busting open the Velcro and seeing that moss and cobwebs was all my wallet had to offer; not a single pineapple, lobster or blue heeler in sight.

Forgetting that there is such a thing as cash-only events in the tap-and-go world we inhabit, I had no choice but to soldier on unfed.

Every now and then I would plod over to the football and catch a glimpse of the football where, among the action, there was a flying fist or two.

There weren’t any Liberace levels of theatrics following the blows spurred on by relentless goading from those in the opposite jersey, it was a quick dust-up and then straight back to business.

After flicking back and forth between the codes, having endured the elements for most of the afternoon, I was far from surreptitious in displaying my exasperated nature when the final hooter sounded in the last game. I was spent.

A brief pit-stop for a bite and it was time for the second leg of the journey.

Rolling into the office about 4pm, there were only eight stories standing in the way of me and the sweet confines of my bedroom and a solid few hours of shut-eye.

The first four were filed in a flash, no problems; but as fatigue began to set in, the taps on the keyboard became increasingly slower until the very last full stop had been placed.

I had done it.

The mountain had been climbed, I had punched in the 13-and-a-half-hour shift and I was still alive.

Sunday came and went in a flash, and before I had time to blink, the start of the week had rolled around and I was set to learn of the joys of ‘Mad Monday’.

An eight-hour stint at the Peppermill Inn, dressed ridiculously with the sports team at the News, was an absolutely shambolic occasion. But I’ll save that for another column.

I am listening to...

Based on a true story. Anyone who hasn’t tuned in to New Zealand ensemble Fat Freddy’s Drop, in particular the dulcet tones of vocalist Dallas Tamaira, is committing a crime.

The second album released by the self-proclaimed ‘seven headed soul monster’, BOATS hosts such a motley blend of dub/roots/reggae, that attempting to tie it down to a particular genre would be futile.

Each track seems far removed from the previous, but still manages to incorporate its customarily brazen horns and melodic keys to a degree where you can’t help tap your toes and bob your head.

I am watching...

Mindhunter. David Fincher, the same creative who gifted moviegoers such white knuckle works as Se7en and Fight Club, spearheads a thrilling fictional series based on the ideology of the first serial killer.

FBI agents from the Behavioural Science Unit attempt to breach the minds and unravel the psyches of homicidal maniacs in a bid to better understand their depraved nature, featuring characters based on real-life murderers such as Ed Kemper and the infamous BTK killer.

With one season down and one to go, I’d best start perusing the depths of Netflix for my next fix.

I am eating...

Ludicrous amounts of steak. For someone who only recently broke through the minimum wage barrier, the is some lunacy to the absurd levels of prime cuts being wolfed down on the regular by yours truly.

With an impulsive flooding of the spice cabinet the latest in a spiraling series of bushwhack culinary attempts, I can’t seem to shake the giddy excitement when a juicy fillet lies flat on the chopping board just waiting for a little TLC.

Maybe the next purchase should be a non-stick pan and a cooking lesson though, because I’ve set off the fire alarm more times than I care to admit.

I am craving...

A good New Zealand beer. Carlton Draught, VB, XXXX Gold — for me there is an unidentifiable quality to them which makes me think they’ve been freshly scooped out of the river and funneled into a vessel.

Speights, my preferred drop from the homeland, is a gritty ale which borderlines on the basic, but offers just a little more than the average whistle wetter.

Marketed as the ‘pride of the south’, the full-flavoured malt and hops dance delightfully across the palate while the crisp aftertaste hits home hard, making it the perfect after-work bevvy to finish off the week. God I miss it.