Surviving Doomsday was easy
Stockpiling cold, mushy cauliflower seemed a good idea. Photo: Cathryn Tremain
If you are reading this, I know two things. First, you survived doomsday and, second, you survived the family overeat-overreact-and/or-grit-your-teeth-and-smile Christmas get-together.
Surviving doomsday was easy, as I had already given you detailed survival tips in these very pages in 2006. That was during the bird flu doomsday scenario. Needless to say, we like to keep our readers ahead of the game here at the Canberra Times.
To cut a long story short, a chicken sneezed somewhere in Asia and the human race was, allegedly, doomed. Having faced the end of the world and survived many, many times, I wrote The Survivor's Guide to Doomsday and Other Worst-Case Scenarios, so you could act like a Scout and always be prepared in a funny hat.
Some of the doomsday scenarios I have faced include boys (they have boy germs), Presbyterians (I was told as a Catholic kid to avoid Presbyterians for some unspecified but horrific reason), cauliflower (failure to eat cold, mushy cauliflower was, apparently, going to wipe out my generation. Stockpiling cold, mushy cauliflower seemed a good idea), a chill (a child might get a chill in winter and die. The wearing of a cotton singlet or vest was mandatory in the 1950s and 1960s to avoid such a calamity), the bomb (''ban the bomb'' signs seem to have worked) and the Cold War. Daylight saving, AIDS, smoking, cholesterol, the millennium bug, global warming, SARS, swine flu and now the Mayan calendar have all been linked to doomsday scenarios. But I have said it before and I'll say it again: we have survived doomsday threats in the past. We can do it again. Just eat your cauliflower, wear a vest and try not to enjoy yourself.
It must also be noted that you are a born survivor. You've made it through the family overeat-overreact-and/or-grit-your-teeth-and-smile Christmas get-together and you're still standing or, possibly, slumped in a lounge chair moaning, but you are alive and almost conscious.
You may detect a hint of tainted-tinsel cynicism when I write about the traditional Aussie family Christmas. But if we really enjoyed the big family shebang so much, wouldn't we do it more often? Every week, perhaps. Some families in other cultures do just that. But in Australia we get weekends to ourselves. If we were asked to fit a big family get-together into every weekend, we'd be muttering ''Nah! Sorry. Can't do it this weekend. And next weekend is out. But leave it with me'' … for one whole year, as it turns out.
So once a year we put in an effort and then we're thankful when it's ho-ho-ho done and Donna-and-Blitzen dusted for another year.
Now that Boxing Day has arrived, you are entering a weird wormhole in the space-time continuum (cue creepy music) called the Lost Week. It stretches from Boxing Day to New Year's Eve. You are entering the twilight zone. Whatever happens in the Lost Week will be instantly and permanently erased from your memory banks.
You are zombified: you inhabit a living body but your brain is dead. This is fortunate though, because in the Lost Week you will feel as if you have just landed on a D-grade planet in Star Trek, where you are hammered relentlessly by kitschy moments of pop cultures past.
You will be exposed to the worst summer music. You'll be sitting, possibly on a banana lounge somewhere, minding your own business, when the dulcet tones of Cliff Richard waft your way. He's been crooning ''We're all goin' where the sun shines brightly'' for 49 years but, for as long as I can remember, just when you want the sun to shine brightly, it doesn't.
You will be tormented by the worst summer television and you will be tortured more by louder, longer and more hideous advertisements than ever before. The white-shoe brigade on The Love Boat, the pig-tailed cuties in The Brady Bunch and the clean-cut teen crew on Happy Days will return like ghosts of TV past to haunt you. They do not age. They do not weary. They just don't do much at all really.
You will be subject to the worst ''things-to-do this summer'' advice columns. Experts start telling you how to entertain the children. Take them to the movies, they say. How amazing! Why didn't you think of that? How did you avoid the $200 million ad blitz for the latest B-grade blockbuster family movie? And won't you enjoy following the popcorn trail to a theatre full of chip-packet-scrunching midgets, with one dedicated solely to kicking the back of your seat for the entire two hours? You'll start hoping the hobbit dies in the first three minutes.
Then, in those final days leading up to New Year's Eve, experts start telling you how to cure a hangover. It is the same advice as last year and totally useless. Have you ever felt better after drinking a raw egg whisked into a sports drink laced with Worcestershire sauce and fortified with a Berocca tablet? Can you even remember?
It doesn't matter. The Lost Week will be obliterated from your memory banks. Thank goodness.