Friday, November 27, 2009

The dead eye opens...

This just in from the Melbourne Desk. Your correspondent is B Hawe, keen observer of the human form, Harley Davidson mechanic, stockbroker and purveyor of fine 'erb... mon.

It was a hot and muggy day in Melbourne yesterday and storms were forecast for the afternoon - on these days I leave the bike at home and take the tram - very civilised, tram commuting.

As it turned out, 2.30pm brought the biggest downpour we have seen in 6 years or something. It was like Brisbane weather in December - hot and steamy.

There I am on the tram at the end of what I wished was going to be a busy day, but was an absolute dud. I sat down opposite a bloke who looked very very unusual. When you're sitting 2 feet away from someone opposite, it's hard to really examine their face in detail, you sort catch glimpses when you can. This poor bastard had had some kind of surgery and it was a pretty good job. But it wasn't perfect. If it were perfect, I wouldn't have noticed anything unusual, but there it was, a scar that circumnavigated his eye socket. It was hard to look at but, like the train wreck, it was hard not to look at.

Unfortunately, to add to his disfigurement, he was not what you would call the most attractive old bugger that you can imagine. He was a bit like Homer Simpson's father, but an uglier version. I tried to draw a sketch of him (attached), but even with my excellent portrait skills, it doesn't do him justice. Have a look anyway. This chap had a face like a smashed crab, he sat with his knees straight out in front of him - how annoying is it when you're on a tram and the person opposite makes no attempt to give you any room. As a result, his knees kept knocking into mine. I moved mine out to the side. It was like they were magnets...attracting each other...knock knock bump touch. Instantly I thought this is just my luck that he'll be on the tram until my stop or a couple before...that drives me nuts. An annoying fellow traveller, you can't wait to get off and they stay on until about your stop. That's NOT civilised. Whenever he wanted to look at something outside the tram, he almost had to turn his whole body. Unusual, but not uncommon.

Did I mention it was hot and sticky? Well it was. Many people fall asleep on public transport here - I'm sure it's the same everywhere. The curious thing is that this chap was no different from us all, even trapped in that disfigured face of his...God I wish I could stop glancing at his mug. He was falling asleep too. It must've been a hard day at the ugly stick factory - I assume he was a tester. I should give thanks that he had no BO as many chaps and chapettes do on days like yesterday. Anyway, he began his impersonation of the nodding dog we have on the back bench of our Valiant and duly started to nod off to sleep.

This is where it gets really unusual. You see he half nodded off. Can you do that? I hear you ask. Yes you can. When you have had what appeared to be a fairly major operation on your looking-gear, chances are that the old eye was no longer of any use. He had a glass replacement. The glass one did NOT fall asleep. That's right, he was asleep with one eye open, it was sort of funny, sort of disgusting, sort of cool. He could, in theory, keep an eye on his wallet and catch up on some shut-eye (not shut-eyes) at the same time. The only thing missing from the whole picture was some drool out of the side of his mouth.

The old saying about talking a glass eye to sleep now hold true and relevant meaning for me.

He then got off.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Media140 comes to Perth

Media 140: Perth 25th Feb 2010

Social Media in the Corporate World: The Impact of the Real Time Web on 'Brand, Marketing & Communications'

Buy your earlybird tickets now here.

From just $187 for the full day conference and networking events.

Originating in London Media140, an international conference phenomenon is travelling around the world in 140 days and hits Sydney in November 2009 and Perth in February 2010.

This innovative conference will bring together a host of prominent and influential speakers to discuss, explore and examine the effects and implications of the real-time web.

For more information click here.

Partners include The West, PPR, CCIWA, AWIA, Networking WA and more.

For sponsorship/speaker/partnership information please contact or @perth140

This conference is for you if you are in the following fields:

-Online Marketing

or if you simply have an interest in Social Media and the implications for Corporate business and beyond!

Follow the team on twitter
@perth140 @media140

As a sponsor, PPR will be right in the thick of things, so be sure to follow us on twitter as well for live updates:

@Freocookster @PPRwa

Friday, November 13, 2009

An open letter of thanks

One of the most rewarding aspects of my role in providing public relations services for McDonald's, is the opportunity to promote the work of Ronald McDonald House.

Over the past decade I've worked with some amazing people across Victoria, Tasmania and now Western Australia and have come across some of the bravest families you could ever hope to meet.

I think the letter we received this week (see below) really puts into perspective just how critical the role of Ronald McDonald House is in providing a home away from home for families who are facing what is potentially the most challenging period of their lives.

Please take the time to read this through and then think about what you can do tomorrow on McHappy Day, Saturday 14 November, to make a difference.

Dear Mr Creasey,

On Saturday night myself and my partner Clayton had the wonderful pleasure of attending the Ronald McDonald House Charity Ball.

Clayton, myself and another family "The Rossi's" Jason and Laura were invited as guests of the Cerebos Group who provided us with tickets. This was arranged through the Ronald McDonald House as ourselves and the Rossi's have for a while called The House "home" over the last year or two.

This time last year Clayton and I were two very tired and scared parents dealing with having a new born son who was battling a cancer called Nueroblastoma. We had already been in Perth for a month before Eddie's birth in August 08 as doctors were suspicious of a lump that was previously believed to be cyst.

We were down from Port Hedland having our last holiday before becoming parents when life changed suddenly and completely unexpectedly.

As the lump was growing we were advised not to leave the metro area and we had to make do with our suitcase of clothes until Clayton could return to Hedland to get all the things we had up there for the birth of our baby. Eddie was born on the seventh of August and was taken to Princess Margaret the following day by infant ambulance and placed in Neo Natal intensive care. We were totally unprepared for this turn of events as doctors were positive that once born, the "lump" would not be a problem.

Unfortunately the lump was so large it had pushed Eddie's stomach shut and he was unable to ingest anything at all. After a few days of endless talks with doctors and surgeons an oncologist visited us with the news that she had heard about Eddie and would like to review him as she was certain that he might have a cancer called Neuroblastoma.

Her suspicions were correct and after many tests and meetings Eddie was scheduled for surgery with the hope that the tumour could be removed. Removal was successful but following surgery the cancer spread to Eddie's liver causing many complications and the only alternative was chemotherapy, a path both us and our oncologist had hope to avoid.

So at seven weeks of age, Eddie began treatment and we moved into the Ronald McDonald House.

I cannot stress enough the role The House played in us dealing with such an emotional time. There are many words you can use to explain how you feel when you watch your child fight the battle of his life. Tired, lonely, scared and dealing with the feeling of our lack of control over his health, we were overcome with gratitude and emotion at being welcomed into the house with open arms by the staff and other parents.

We were already exhausted from the ordeal of the last two and a half months, a fact noticed by our social worker who told us to accept some help and get ourselves to the House as we had been living out of suitcases at the hospital for weeks.

The friendships formed and the tears shared at the House all help with the healing you need as a parent. There is nothing like the joy of celebrating with other parents when they receive good news and nothing like sharing a hug when it is bad.

Fortunately at five months of age, Eddie was deemed fit and well to finally go home. There were tears of joy and tears of sadness at leaving the House and the friends we had made, many of whom are now at home with their healthy children.

We still use the house a lot as Eddie will have a follow up program until he is 18 and it is a joy to know that when we fly down to Perth and you are coiled up inside with the fear of a bad test result that at least you have the sanctuary of the house for your time down there.

It is on that note that I would like to thank everyone involved with the ball from the bottom of my heart for the wonderful job done on Saturday night. I was truly overwhelmed sitting at our table watching people bid way over the value on the auction items. Both Laura and I got a little teary knowing that the huge part the House plays in our lives was made possible by the generosity of these people.

One of the most amazing experiences of our cancer journey with Eddie was coming face to face with some of the most giving, amazing, compassionate people we have ever had the pleasure of being involved with, and Saturday night reminded us that Perth and Western Australia is filled with the most amazing giving people.

You guys should be proud of yourselves for showcasing that(and that huge $700,000 raised).

So now we are back in Hedland boasting to our friends about our glamorous night on the Silk Road with the divine food and of course that fantastic band. And I would like to say on behalf of any family who has ever had the experience of the sanctuary provided by the Ronald McDonald House a big thank you and all the best for next year's ball.

Yours Sincerely
Dannielle Aggiss

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Rottnest Island experience

Rottnest Island isn't the most scenic holiday location on earth. The accommodation is a bit rough around the edges, food prices are steep, there are poisonous snakes in the sand dunes and quokka shit sprinkled liberally across all walking surfaces.

Have I put you off? Good, cause to be honest it's my favourite place on the planet and I'd rather keep it to myself. You can have your lush rainforest resorts, or drink cocktails out of two litre buckets in Bali and I'll have my Rotto.

So it was with great pleasure that I spent the last two weeks on the great southern island with Mrs Cookster and the young Cookster clan aged 2, 3 and 10. Having spent much of my childhood on Rotto, marking such memorable occasions as learning to ride my bike and getting drunk for the first time, it was a visit filled with much misty-eyed nostalgia.

In a case of life turning the full circle, I was able to watch my own son come to grips with a bike in almost the exact spot that I had some 35 years earlier. Back then the road on the Bathurst end of Thompson Bay was shaded by Bungalow 5 where our family would spend two weeks every January.

My Nanna Flora was the ruler of that rickety bungalow and in charge of duties including the shooing of rogue quokkas with the broom, boiling the water for the nightly 'bucket baths', preparing the freshly caught herring and procuring the fabled bakery cream buns.

My Grandad Len would work with Dad to set up our illegal 'hose and shower head' set-up in the back courtyard so the adults could take an illicit shower without having to line up and pay for a wash at the shower blocks.

This recent visit gave me time to reflect on those happy days and bring my Nanna back to the island for one last time. Our family gathered on the rocks beneath the Bathurst Lighthouse and scattered her ashes into the waters at Pinkies Beach where she would swim every morning in her powder blue bathing suit and matching swimming cap. Enjoy the stay Nanna, we'll be keeping the tradition alive.

That night I dreamt I was nine years old, lying on my cot on the verandah of bungalow 5, smelling the scent of Rottnest Pines and salt lake foam, reading war comics and rubbing my sandy feet on the RIB army blankets at the foot of the bed.

The next day we learned that a young boy had been killed by a collapsed pillar in a unit not far from where the now demolished bungalow 5 once stood. It was an awful feeling that such a tragedy should take place on an island that's supposed to be about creating treasured family memories.

With sentimentality running high, I texted some rather flowery prose in praise of the great island to fellow Rottnest lover, POST Newspaper journalist, union heavyweight and purveyor of smoked herring David 'Fucking Outrage' Cohen.

Of course, he bought me back down to earth by calling me a "wanker" on his cult blogsite Rotto Bloggo.

So in closing, I shall return the favour DC - wanker - and start dreaming of next October when I'll once again tread the sandy shores of Little Parakeet Bay and wallow in its crystal clear waters.