56) 2010. Brunswick Road, Brunswick East VIC 3057

While I enjoyed living in Canberra, and I loved living at the Ponderosa, I’d had my eye on Melbourne since the first time I visited in 2005. So convinced was I that the move to Melbourne was an inevitability, in January 2010 I pre-emptively started dating someone who lived there. My confidence in that particular relationship may have been misplaced, but my confidence in getting to Melbourne was not: in March 2010, I accepted a job in Melbourne and relocated for real.

For the first time in a long time, I was genuinely terrified of moving. Having rubberbanded back to Canberra once after failing so badly at being a Sydneysider, I was worried about history repeating. On several occasions I considered cancelling the move altogether, having almost convinced myself that I wasn’t capable of moving away from Canberra ever again.

Luckily, some stuff happened that helped give me the boost I needed to start my new adventure.

First of all, I got fired. Specifically, I got fired after I’d already tendered my resignation. That’s how badly they didn’t want me around: they already knew I was leaving within weeks, but decided they just couldn’t wait that long.

See, I’d become kind of a pill. And by “pill” I mean “jerk” and by “jerk” I mean “cunt”. I’d been employed at the radio station in four separate positions by this point: They’d kept me on staff in 2007 when my breakfast show ended (even though it would have been easier to let me go), they’d rehired me in 2008 after the Sydney disaster (even though it would have been easier to say “yeah, nah”), and they kept promoting me internally, allowing me to to hop from department to department. So by 2010 I thought I was King Shit. Untouchable. I stomped about the place like Sookie Stackhouse: shouting and bossing and making demands with zero regard for my own safety, and never once considering even the remotest possibility that people might be sick of me.


And, just like Sookie, my blood smells inexplicably delicious and also I am part fairy.

This is why, the day after I’d handed in my resignation, I had no qualms about starting a shouting, stand-up fight with a coworker in the middle of the open plan sales floor. A week later, I spent an entire day in a terribly foul mood, writing and sending venomous emails to several different coworkers about Ways They Were Making My Job More Difficult. (That little boy who corrected everyone else’s first grade writing assignments was rearing his snotty, precocious head once more.)

The morning after that, I got into a spat with, of all people, the general manager. It was over something ridiculously trivial, but it ended with me hissing at him “Well you must think I’m a reeeeeeal arsehole, huh?”, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t find myself in the boardroom twenty minutes later being told I had an hour to quietly remove myself from the premises.


This is the photo I petulantly posted to Facebook the day I was fired: the box containing the sum total of my office/desk belongings. Looking at it now, I can’t believe they didn’t take me more seriously.

“That’s okay,” you might think. “That just means more time at home to pack and organise for the move?” Well, yes, that was true for the first four days. But on the fifth day I woke up to find we’d been burgled. Half our worldly possessions, including a set of house keys and Zak’s car, had been stolen.

“That’s okay,” you might think. “That just means less stuff for you to pack?” and sure, okay, let’s go with that, you weirdo. But what kind of silver fucking lining do you have for  three days later when one of my fillings just fell out of my mouth? I mean sure, I hadn’t had the best track record with teeth so far; I shouldn’t have been surprised. But COME ON.

Those last six weeks in Canberra were a tremendously painful and upsetting six weeks. But, weirdly, they were such a gift. Because they made me want to leave so badly. The fear of what was to come was nothing compared to the agony of what I was leaving behind. And I’d burnt my bridges at the radio station so tremendously that I knew I couldn’t come back even if I wanted to. My safety net was gone; I had no choice but to stay on the tightrope.

And so, in March 2010, I left for Melbourne. It’s one of the best changes I’ve ever made. I love Melbourne, and as long as I live in Australia I don’t want to be anywhere else.

That’s not to say I got off to the best start. My first Melbourne home was a sharehouse with two 20 year olds who still thought milk crates were furniture. That was quite a rapid descent from the four bedroom, two lounge room, solar-heated pool glory of The Ponderosa.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 4.58.53 pm

And it was a three storey joint so that’s, like, a LOT of milk crates.

Also, my bedroom had a tiled floor, and because my bed was on castors, every time I rolled over in my sleep, had sex or even sneezed in it, I’d roll around the floor like a very specific pinball machine. But my bedroom needed to be tiled because in one corner of the bedroom there was a shower. No, not an en suite, just a shower. It was exactly like a built-in wardrobe, only instead of shelves and drawers there were taps and a plughole and the niggling suspicion that this room had been designed by a serial killer. I’m not saying it wasn’t super convenient, but it was exceptionally odd.

Which segues perfectly into my first Melbourne job.

You know when you call a company, and that company puts you on hold, and in between the vague, generic music there’s some manner of recorded message from the company offering a product or advising you of some arm of the company you hadn’t previously heard of? Yeah. I wrote those for a living for eleven months.

new office

I put that box of shit to good use: decorating the new office exactly like the old one (though I had eaten the Pop Tarts by that point). I can’t believe they didn’t take me more seriously.

The company that provided these messages was run by some pretty dedicated oddballs. They were the only small business owners I know of that did the kind of “Christmas bonus” thing you see on TV. On the last day of work for the year, you were handed a generic Christmas card; inside the card was a pile of cash that reflected how they felt about your performance over the previous twelve months. Through office gossip I found out the most anyone had ever received was $1000. I found $700 in mine, and was speechless with emotion. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d done to cause $300 worth of disappointment. Was it one big $300 clanger that I’d done one time? Had I cost them a client? Or was it a tiny one dollar infraction that I did every day, like using too much milk when I made my coffee in the office kitchen?

I make fun, but they were a team very dedicated to their work. In fact, they were so dedicated, they could never find enough free time to schedule new photography sessions for the website’s staff headshots. Instead, they got into the slightly disturbing habit of simply taking a snap of any new staff members, and photoshopping their head onto the body of a departed staff member. On one occasion, someone had their head put on the body of a person who had actually departed. Like, departed the mortal plane.

I am so glad I arrived in time for the first fresh batch of headshots in ten years, and I do not want to know who they put on my body after I quit.


55) 2008-2010. Onkaparinga Crescent [REDUX], Kaleen ACT 2617

After returning to the Ponderosa, I lived there for another 21 months. It’s why, on the whole, I refer to having lived at the Ponderosa for a continuous period. In total, I was only away for nine nights: I’d stayed away longer on holidays.

The house welcomed me back under the warm, bosomy embrace of its scalloped white arches. That was a super weird sentence to type.

It was shaky and difficult at first, returning to Canberra and being terrified of life in general. It felt like I had to build everything back from the ground up: home, work, health, the works.

The home part was actually pretty easy: life at the Ponderosa became even better after my return. The first step was getting rid of that pesky fourth housemate. Tammy, Zak and I had always lived with a fourth housemate, because it was a four bedroom house and that was just the done thing. However, every person we got into that room turned out to be a complete oddball.

The first one went on an unstoppable drug bender on his first weekend in the house and decided he was definitely gay. We found him a deshevelled, bug-eyed mess on Saturday afternoon, sitting on the front steps with an open bottle of wine in one hand and his phone in the other, alternating between taking long swigs of wine and screaming into the phone. At one point he got confused and bellowed “WELL THAT’S JUST WHO I AM, DADinto the wine bottle. This guy would also slather himself in coconut oil every day before gingerly lowering himself into the pool with a high-pitched breathy squeal like he was having the world’s most delicate orgasm. This caused no end of frustration to Zak, who cleaned the pool, because all the coconut oil would immediately wash off, making the pool look like cold chicken soup.

The second one would not ever shut up about how great ALDI is. Like, ever. Every trip to the supermarket came with another breathless recital of the latest catalogue and how cheap everything was. He also had a girlfriend who only ever occupied two rooms of the house: his bedroom and the kitchen. She never ventured anywhere else, would never say hello, and occasionally he would spend hours out the lounge room with us while she stayed huddled up inside his room, hiding, like she was being smuggled across the Narrow Sea. Also, every time they cooked themselves dinner she would put the leftovers in a bowl, wrap it in Glad Wrap and then take that bowl to work the next day. We would never see it again. By the time the second one moved out we had gone from eight bowls down to two.

The third one never stayed in the house, choosing instead to house-sit for her cousin. And her room had nothing in it but a mattress on the floor and an Israeli flag that almost covered an entire wall.

In hindsight, perhaps our vetting process could have used some work.

When the the last oddball-du-jour moved out towards the end of 2008, Tammy, Zak and I decided to make life easier for ourselves by just absorbing the fourth person’s rent and living “on our own”. So then the Ponderosa was just the three of us, and our dynamic was never unbalanced again.



So with my home life back on track, it was time to work on the other pillars.

When I was taken off breakfast in 2007, I was put on the evening shift. It was lonely and unfulfilling; sitting alone in the studio hours after everyone else had gone home, aimlessly pressing buttons to make sure the national shows beamed in from interstate went to air. I’d only just worked my way up to a real job before I left for Sydney. Now, having come back, I was straight back in the only position they had free: the evening button shift.

Partly to fill the long days (I didn’t start work until 3:30pm), and partly to raise extra money for an overseas holiday, for the last half of 2008 I started looking for a second job. I found one in the most unlikely place: Magnet Mart, a Bunnings-style hardware megastore.


Because you think of hardware, of DIY, of outdoors, of building and gardening and household repairs, you think ME, right?

For five months, Monday to Friday, 10am-3pm, I operated a cash register at Magnet Mart. How did someone who knew as little about hardware as I do manage to operate a cash register at a DIY megastore? EASY: my area of expertise was only the cash register. They had experts for every department, that was their job. It was literally store policy that I not deal with anything beyond the bench on which my cash register sat. It was perfect.

I gave away the Magnet Mart job at the beginning of 2009 when it looked like another spot might be opening up at the radio station’s Creative department, meaning I was back in the office working regular human hours. Things were picking up!

Later in 2009, I caught another break: I was invited to submit a writing audition to the head writer at weekly variety TV show Rove. Somehow, one of the jokes from my submission made it through to the final cut (I assume all the regular writers ate lunch at the same place and all got food poisoning and died?), and I ended up getting one of my jokes on air in the “news” segment.


I took a photo of my TV at the exact moment Kristy Warner delivered my very first TV punchline. LOOK HOW IMPRESSED SHE LOOKS WITH MY JOKE

With my audition clearly proving successful, I was invited to continue submitting jokes for the rest of the season. In my third week of submissions, George Negus was the guest newsreader. It’s because of me that one of Australia’s most respected media figures—a member of Australian television royalty—told a joke about environmentally friendly German sex workers.

I knew it was only a matter of time until I would be asked to join the team full time, and be able to move to Melbourne. So imagine my surprise in my fourth week of submissions when, at the end of the show, the host himself, Rove McManus, stood up in front of a nationwide audience and called out my name.

KIDDING. I’M KIDDING. He announced his retirement. Rove ended a week later. My career as a TV comedy writer was over in less than a month.

So it wasn’t all upward for my career, but hey: I still had my daytime office job back, and I still had my Magnet Mart staff discount card.

During the time we lived in Kaleen, Zak had become something of a regular at the local Kaleen Sports Club; the kind of semi-naff local bar/bistro/pokies venue that peppers Canberra suburbs. The Kaleen Club had meat tray raffles three times a week, and on at least one of these nights the three of us go down for dinner and to enter the meat raffles. Ten dollars bought ten tickets, and each ticket had five numbers on it, any one of which could win a tray.

Through either astounding luck, or the sheer number of meat trays the Kaleen Club gave away every night, we would win at least one meat tray between us every time we went. Our record was six meat trays, but we usually netted around two. The amount of meat we took home from the raffles meant that despite the number of social events we hosted (weekly, if not more frequently: we never went anywhere, because everyone always came to our house), we did not buy any meat in 2009*. Not at all. Not even once. At one stage the freezer of our second fridge was so chock full of frozen chicken wings (none of us particularly enjoyed chicken wings) that we had to start offering them to friends to give to their pets just so we could get the space back.

Okay so this isn’t a great depiction of “health”, but by gum I was never short of a rissole.


I moved out of the Ponderosa in March, 2010 when I moved to Melbourne. (I moved out reluctantly, but the siren-song of Melbourne was too strong to resist.) Tammy moved out in October 2010 when she moved to London. Zak stayed in the Ponderosa, and was still there in 2013 when Tammy came back to Australia moved back in. Tammy, Zak and I were under the same Ponderosa roof as recently as 2014 when I went up to visit: we had dinner at the Kaleen Sports Club, and I won a meat tray.

Only in May of 2015 did the Time of Ponderosa finally come to a close, when the house was sold and Tammy and Zak moved out. I’d been out of the house for five years by this point, but I still shed a sneaky tear when I heard the news.

54) July 1, 2008-July 11, 2008. Yuroka Close, Gosford NSW 2250

So how did I live at The Ponderosa from 2006-2010 and move to Sydney in 2008? Let’s explain the second part first.

On June 30, 2008 I packed everything I could fit into my Corolla, choked out a tearful goodbye to Tammy and Zak and drove to Sydney to start my new life as the Website Content Editor for a weekly magazine. It was like a dream. There had been some roughness in 2007, what with having my career trajectory vanish overnight, but I was back on track. And how! I was heading off to the big city of Sydney, with a fancy, shiny new job. It was prestigious. It had the word “editor” in the title. It involved writing and pop culture and it was everything I’d ever wanted. And it was SYDNEY. For someone who’d spent the majority of his life in rural Queensland, the very notion of Sydney was that of a mystical wonderland, seen only on the telly. And here I was moving to the very place: I may as well have been moving to Sesame Street or Sunnydale or Stars Hollow.

Once I got to Sydney, I continued to drive for another hour: to Gosford, to stay with my friend John. Okay, it wasn’t the most convenient place to be for a new Sydney life, but he was the only friend I had in the immediate vicinity that had space for me to crash, and besides: I loved Gosford, and was considering living there permanently. Having visited John many times in the past, Gosford (and, more specifically, Terrigal) had taught me to not be such a smug bastard about Queensland’s beaches. This eliminated the one thing I thought Queensland definitely had over the other states, and the subsequent shock and humiliation had given me a slight case of Stockholm Syndrome as far as Gosford was concerned.


So I guess “Gosford Syndrome” is more accurate.

On July 1, 2008 I woke up at 6am to start my new life. It was a 90 minute commute on the train from Gosford, so an early start was necessary. I still ended up late, however: the train was delayed for a not insignificant amount of time due to someone in the next carriage dying. Barely 12 hours in and Sydney was turning out to be more Sunnydale than Stars Hollow.

Turns out that death-induced delay was the highlight of the day (though probably not for the dead person). I’ve mentioned the second-worst job I’ve ever had? This magazine was the worst. job. I’ve ever. had.

Have you ever seen a sitcom or a comedy sketch set inside a weekly gossip magazine? It was exactly like that. I worked with a dozen or so people so full of angst and bitterness, they were like caricatures. And the one connection I had with the magazine, the contact I knew (and adored), actually worked out of Melbourne. This office was made up entirely of strangers. Mean, horrible strangers.

The office had no internal communications system at all. No team meeting. No group discussions. I had to explain to every staff member I met who I was and why I was there (so also, maybe, their security was a bit shit?). One woman thought I was there for work experience. “Where have you come from again?” Canberra. “Oh? I didn’t realise you could go so far away. And how long are you here for?” Um, forever? I work here now. “Lovely!”

Turns out this was a job that didn’t really exist before me: all the online content was handled in a rudimentary manner by the company that ran the website. The staff at the magazine had no real idea how the website worked, and the staff at the website company had no real idea how the magazine worked. So, rather than try to learn each other’s language, they just hired someone to be the translator. I had no idea how either business worked, so perhaps I could have been perfect in the role? But I just felt panic. I spent the morning of my first day at the office of the magazine, being warned I’d learn all the online stuff from the “web dorks” off-site. I spent the afternoon of my first day at the website office, listening to a litany of complaints about the “magazine idiots”.

On July 2, 2008—my second day—one of the senior editors spent the entire day stomping about the office, shouting and screeching. No matter what she said, she said it aggressively and angrily. She bit my head off when I asked her a question, then refused to answer the question. This went on for an entire day.

The following day she made it worse by visiting each and every person she’d screamed at the day before to offer a range of bizarre non-apologies:

*stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp*
*stomp stomp stomp stomp*
*stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp*

And so on. She had the remorseful sincerity of a drive-by shooting. And she never did answer my question.

On July 3, 2008—my third day—the magazine editor came up to me for a chat. After a little while, she said “Oh my god, I have noooo idea how your job works, you’ll have to talk me through it one day?”, which is a perfectly innocuous sentence from a coworker, but not so much from the person responsible for hiring people for the jobs. This is the person who, five weeks prior, had called me up and said “we think you’d be perfect for this position. You’ve got just the skill set we need. Move to Sydney!” I packed up my entire life, bid farewell to two of the greatest friends, coworkers and housemates that I had ever known, and shipped myself interstate on the recommendation of someone who was kind of making it up on the fly? That lunch hour, I broke down and cried. I cried at least once a day every day for the rest of that week.

That same day, I took around three hours worth of extra work with to complete once I got back to Gosford. I was going to be working all night anyway: I had been put on Jolie-watch. Angelina Jolie was due to give birth to her twins at any second, but the magazine went to print on Wednesday night. So it was my job, that night, to refresh Google every few minutes, looking for some sign, ANY sign, that the birth was going ahead so they could do a late-night emergency rearrangement of the cover story. Well into the night, up until the very last minute they could put off printing the magazine, I scoured news pages and trawled message boards and tapped various searches into Google, like a montage in a spy film.

Okay, full disclosure, Jolie-watch was kind of fun.

But the rest of my work? The work I did all day, every evening, and also during the Jolie-watch spy montage? Awful. It was just various types of data entry, and there was so much of it. The same day I was doing Jolie-watch, I was told twice “Oh I can’t wait until you’re settled so I can give you the rest of your workload!”. I was terrified. What was my full workload? I was approaching 11 hour workdays, with 3 hours of homework, and a 90 minute commute to and from home: meanwhile, I hadn’t written a single word. I was hired to provide sassy online content, but all I’d done was upload photo galleries, format competition pages and generate web traffic reports. Things I did not really know how to do.

On July 4, 2008—my fourth day—I finally got to write something. That is to say, I defiantly put off the rest of my work and just did it anyway. It was a blog post for the website, about Angelina Jolie—after Jolie-watch I felt so close to her, you know? After I wrote it, I asked PMS McStomperson who had final authority on what gets posted to the website. Turns out it was me. So…I posted it. Nobody asked to check it. Nobody proofread it. Nobody even read it out of interest. It was twenty-four hours before I finally cracked and asked a senior editor to read it, because I wanted to make sure my writing was up to scratch. She said “Oh, don’t worry, you couldn’t be as bad as Tania.” Apparently Tania was a reporter—meaning she was hired full time to write in the print medium—who couldn’t write. “Don’t get me wrong, she was good at her job,” said the senior editor, “Except for her writing. My god, she was a shit writer. Couldn’t form a sentence to save her life. All her work had to be re-done!”

To recap: I had been recommended for a job by someone who knew nothing about the job, selected for my writing skills for a role that didn’t actually require writing in an office where writing ability is not a priority. On top of this I was commuting three hours a day, my coworkers were all mean, and my lunches were inedible because they were almost always soaked with tears.

On July 5, 2008, at 5pm—my fifth day—I drove straight from the office back to Canberra for the weekend to try to figure out what horrible, horrible mistake I’d made with my life.

On July 6, 2008, I spent most of the day on the phone with bosses from the radio station, trying to find any way I could get any kind of job back.

On July 8, 2008—what should have been my sixth day—I called in sick at the magazine.

On July 9, 2008—my actual sixth day—I resigned.

On July 11, 2008, I packed everything I could fit into my Corolla, choked out a tearful goodbye to John, and drove back to Canberra. I salvaged a job at the radio station—the same night-time panelling role I was given when I was fired from breakfast—and I salvaged my old room back at the Ponderosa. Well, almost: our fourth housemate had measured his bedroom and my bedroom after I moved out and discovered that my room was 4.5 centimetres wider, and in the eleven days I was gone, switched rooms.

So everything was back to normal, except that everything was a tiny bit worse than when I’d left. I was so grateful to have made a clean escape, and to have had everyone in Canberra—friends, housemates, employers—all rally to get me back in one pice, but at the same time I felt utterly broken, with no idea what to do with my life. I’d never gotten it so wrong before. How would I ever know what to do next?

53) 2006-2010 (I KNOW, RIGHT?). Onkaparinga Crescent, Kaleen ACT 2617

Between the majesty of the Parthenon and the joy of cohabiting with my coworkers/family, it felt like we could have stayed in that house forever. But if we’d stayed there forever, I wouldn’t be where I am now. Plus I would never have invented my own sport, Rage Ball. So I suppose what happened next Happened For A Reason: after only eleven months, we got the dreaded letter informing us the house was going on the market. We were out.

Around the same time, Tammy got the opportunity to move to Melbourne and took it, while Joel decided he would finally move into the house he owned and had been renting out for years. Zak and I ended up moving in with our friend Gaff, who lived literally around the corner, in a huge house he shared with his friend Amy.

The Parthenon was disbanded. But out of The Parthenon’s ashes rose something greater: The Ponderosa.


I could not be more excited about this photo, because something has happened that I had really hoped would happen at least one in this series. See the rear of that car in the driveway? The dark blue Corolla? THAT IS THE REAR OF *MY* DARK BLUE COROLLA. GOOGLE STREET VIEW HAS CAPTURED PROOF MY EXISTENCE IN AT LEAST ONE OF THE 60 ADDRESSES AT WHICH I’VE RESIDED.

With a total of four bedrooms, the house was similar in size to the Parthenon, but differed in some ways. It was only one storey instead of two, didn’t have a tiered backyard or blushingly heavy lemon tree, and the front yard was sadly without a little-boy-peeing water fountain. However, it did have two lounge rooms instead of one, ducted climate control, and a solar heated swimming pool. So, you know. Swings and roundabouts.

Who the fuck needs a roundabout WHEN YOU’VE GOT A POOL?! PS: in this photo, the pool has a cover on it: I swear the water was NOT, as a rule, lumpy.

The other major difference was that it had no Greek styling to it, so we couldn’t just call it Parthenon II. However, the kitchen was a weird colour of yellow, and the exterior of the house had this stucco scalloping all over, and the whole thing had, to the ignorant eye, a vaguely Mexican feel to it. And that’s how it became “The Ponderosa”.

Because our compulsion to give everything a name was matched only by our tone-deaf cultural stereotyping.

The reason I describe this house in so much detail is because The Ponderosa holds the record for being the place I have lived the longest, which I feel requires some attention. I lived there for three and a half years. The closest contender to that record is the one year and eight months I spent in Tin Can Bay; less than half the length of time spent in The Ponderosa. This is a big deal.

After the first six months or so, Amy moved out. By some wondrous, perfectly timed, only-happens-in-season-finales-of-TV-sitcoms miracle, Tammy returned to Canberra and moved back in with us. 75% of my Canberra family were reunited.


By 2007, Sarah and I were into our third year doing breakfast radio for 104.7. As always happens when a radio show starts to lose its new car smell, we had to start upping the ante in terms of “big events”. To that end, February 2007 became “Face Your Fears” month: a month of Sarah and I doing stunts that involved phobias. I faced my arachnophobia by holding a scorpion (NEVER AGAIN), my fear of falling by being forced off a 10m diving board…


…and my fear of pain by what else? Getting a tattoo, in the studio, live on air.

NEVER AG—actually this is negotiable. But I won’t be AT work, STILL WORKING during the next one.

After I got this tattoo I would loudly and obnoxiously tell anyone who would listen the same dumb joke over and over about how now Canberra FM could never fire me because I’d just shown such commitment and loyalty to my workplace. I had permanently marked myself for them. Technically they owed me for life. I was safe as houses! Untouchable! A platinum-level employee! And so on.

Do you see, perhaps, where this is going?

In April of 2007, the Sarah half of “Chris & Sarah for Breakfast” resigned. Commercial radio and commercial branding being what it is, without “Sarah” there was no “Chris & Sarah”, and so the entire show was iced.

Can you believe these two obvious consummate professionals didn’t go the distance? Astonishing.

In the space of one morning meeting, my six year friendship/working partnership with Sarah imploded, my career evaporated, and my sense of self worth plummeted. For six years I had been working at being an on-air comedian: first idly dreaming about it, then actively striving for it, then shaping my entire life around it. It had come to define my adulthood, and between 9:15am and 10:30am one April morning, it was all taken away.

I reacted to this change in my life the only way I could think of: I got super mad. I became a 24 hour sulk dispenser. Maybe all the teenage temper tantrums I’d neglected to have during my actual teens had came bubbling to the surface. Whatever it was, I spent the rest of 2007 careening down the slopes of a double black diamond hissy fit.

Despite the whole upending-my-career thing, the management at the radio station were exceedingly good to me. They found me another role on air, even though the usual course of action would have been to fire me. My new job was at the lowest rung of the on-air ladder; a battering for the old ego, having occupied the very top rung only days earlier, but it was better than unemployment.

Not only did the bosses at the radio station find a way to keep me on, but they said nothing during the extended period I spent a touchy, directionless, vibrating tumour of mournful anger. They waited patiently for six months. Only in the seventh month did they gently inquire if perhaps I wouldn’t mind acting like an actual human being in the workplace, please, as my endless stomping about was starting to dislodge the light fixtures.

I tried to channel my anger away from work, but the only other place I was ever at that wasn’t work was home. I channelled my anger home. And that’s how I invented Rage Ball.

Rage Ball involves two people standing in the pool at opposite ends, throwing a ball back and forth, aggressively complaining about life. As the game progresses, both the complaining and the throwing intensify, until eventually the players are simply pegging the ball at each other’s heads while screaming personal insults. Bonus points are available if, rather than hitting your opponent in the head, you hit the water in front of their face with enough force to splash chlorinated water into their eyes. The first person to rage-quit Rage Ball loses the game.


Note that the rules of the game only dictate how a player loses: nobody ever wins.


By early 2008, having run out of things to be angry about, and having broken all the available balls in the house, I’d started to pull myself together. And I’d started thinking about my career again, using contacts I’d made while I was still working in breakfast radio. Every TV station, radio affiliate and gossip magazine we’d ever done business with as a breakfast show, I was hitting up for a job.

Somehow, this worked: in June of 2008, I was offered a job at a weekly gossip magazine in the role of Website Content Editor. It involved a huge payrise and a move to Sydney. It was perfect. Life was back on track.

So, on June 30, 2008, I said goodbye to The Ponderosa, to Zak and Tammy, and to my Canberra life. I climbed into my dark blue Corolla, and I drove away. I might have cried all the way to Goulburn, but I was still excited. And I was ready. Ready to start my new, high-paying, fancy-as-shit life of success in Sydney.

So why, then, if I moved to Sydney in June of 2008, does the heading of this story imply that I was still at The Ponderosa until 2010?

Life wasn’t quite as on track as I’d thought.

52) 2005-2006. Barwon Street, Kaleen ACT 2617

In October 2005, nine months after moving to Canberra, I finally got the hang of the city. I still felt entirely overwhelmed and fraudulent at my job, but I got the hang of being a person who lived in Canberra. This was helped, largely, by leaving behind my Dickson apartment and its revolving door of bizarre housemates.

Not an actual depiction. I did not live with Lionel Richie. I’m sure he’s a very considerate housemate who always hangs up his towel.

See, after Dual-WoW-Playing-Hai’s much talked about promotion finally came, it came with a relocation to Sydney. To replace D.WoW.P. Hai, Wannabe-Wife-Wendy moved in, and immediately started trying to nest with me. She kept asking me what “we” were doing on the weekend, and then suggesting couples stuff, like buying a blender. Okay, so I had not yet been part of a couple at that stage so I had no idea what couples did, but co-buying a blender seemed like a pretty big step. Perturbed by my refusal to raise her blender as my own, W.W. Wendy moved out and was replaced by Either-Frugal-Genius-Or-Shady-Fucking-Thief Tess. E.F.G.O.S.F.T. Tess kept trying to renegotiate the amount of rent she should pay weeks after signing the lease, was continually scamming rebates and discounts out of every company she dealt with, and definitely tried to screw W.W. Wendy out of her bond. (I bet a thousand dollars that today E.F.G.O.S.F.T. Tess is in jail for bank fraud. Don’t tell her about the bet; she’ll try to cheat me out of my winnings).

With the peaceful quiet of Dickson suddenly drowned out by the screaming of housemate alarm bells, I started spending as much free time as possible hanging out at the house of my workmates Zak, Joel and Tammy.

Zak, Joel, Tammy. Full-time idiots.

Zak, Joel and Tammy shared a smallish townhouse in Evatt that was already cramped with the three of them. With me cluttering up the joint even more every second day and most weekends, we started to make broad, grand plans for the four of us renting a mansion together: it was the solution to all our problems. They were always dumb, imaginary plans; like when you decide what you’re going to do with your lottery winnings.

At least they were imaginary, until one Thursday when Joel invited us to lunch at a “new place”. He gave us an address and told us to meet him there. The address was for a house that was for lease, and Joel had the keys for an inspection. He’d seen the “for lease” sign as he drove past that morning and decided, on a whim, to go for it.  It was the biggest house I’d seen in quite some time. One hour later we were filling out application forms. One day later I was using my clout as a local celebrity to give our application preference (this literally happened and it literally worked: they’d put our application in the bin because we weren’t a family, and only fished it out again when I called to be clumsily coquettish at them). One week later we were inappropriately using the radio station’s Black Thunder vehicle to move all our stuff in.

Tammy, who still lives in Canberra, took this photo for me on the weekend. The Google Street View shot was blurry and rubbish and featured a mangy stray dog in the middle of the driveway looking quizzically at the camera and RUINING MY SHOT.

Built by a Greek family in the early 1970s, the inside of the house was all columns and archways and elaborate chandeliers, so we affectionately called it The Parthenon. The Parthenon was fucking enormous. Four bedrooms upstairs, with a rumpus room and a fifth bedroom downstairs. The backyard was tiered, with huge patches of garden and a lemon tree that strained under the weight of its lemonly bounty. But the crowning glory of the Parthenon was the pond in the front yard,  featuring self-sufficient goldfish and a little-boy-peeing fountain statue. I’ve never lived anywhere so majestic. (The day we moved in, my inner six-year-old horse owner vanished forever. Now, in his place, there lives an inner 24-year-old frontyard water fountain owner. He has been disappointed in me ever since.)

Because I was the one with the 4am starts, I was given the master bedroom with en suite, because it meant I was free to shower or poop or scream with fatigue in the wee smalls without having to stomp through the rest of the house. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise considering the peeing statue fountain out front, but my en suite also had a bidet. It didn’t actually work, so it was really just a large porcelain bowl that jutted out of the floor. But still. I had a bidet. I used it as a chair.

Between the four of us, we had a sales manager, a promotions and marketing director, a traffic manager, and an on-air announcer. We could have started our own radio station at home, but we started a family instead (I mean the four of us were family: nobody got Tammy pregnant or anything). Tammy, Zak and Joel were, and remain, beloved members of my family. After Mum, Robby and Sarah, they get to claim a hefty chunk of credit for me being the person I am today. They were way better housemates to me than I was to them; hopefully I learnt from them how to be better. They remain among my dearest friends—Tammy and I have even travelled together. (Sort of. Well we met in a country that wasn’t either of our own for Christmas. We arrived separately and left separately but we were together for two weeks: does that still count as travelling together?)

It was at The Parthenon that the tradition of Fake Christmas was introduced. It started in 2005 as a way for us to exchange presents and get bollocking drunk in a Christmas Day manner without it actually being Christmas Day (because we all had our own actual families to go to for real Christmas – Tammy’s and Zak’s in New Zealand, Joel’s in Albury, mine in Queensland).

The residents of The Parthenon at 7:30am on the first ever Fake Christmas.

The same residents 18 hours later. Not a single person in this photo was still awake thirty minutes after this picture was taken.

It’s a tradition that’s held on: Fake Christmas has become an annual event, held every year since. I’ve only missed one in ten years.


It’s early 2006, which means it’s thirteen years since I had the car accident, and twelve and a half years since I got the (supposedly temporary) partial denture that replaced the teeth I left wedged in the side of that dude’s catamaran. I would have thought, after twelve and a half years, that I would be familiar with all the ins and outs of the dental plate by now, but apparently I was not, because one morning I woke up at my usual time of 3:45am to get ready for work, and it was gone.


I don’t know how else to explain it. The plate wasn’t in my mouth. At first I thought maybe I’d bitten it in half in my sleep, somehow chewed through hardened plastic and metal wire, and swallowed it. But it would have ripped holes in my oesophagus all the way down, and I was neither in pain nor gushing blood, so that wasn’t it. I thought maybe I had taken it out overnight: when I first got it in 1994, I was told to put it in a glass of water before going to bed. I completely ignored this instruction because I was thirteen, not fucking ninety, but once a year or so I would try it for fun. Well, partially for fun and partially to really amplify my sense of self-loathing. At any rate, there was no glassware in my bedroom at all so that wasn’t the answer either. The plate was simply gone.

I ruffled through my bedclothes, I searched under my bed, I tore my entire bedroom upside down looking for the plate, and it was nowhere to be found. By this point it is 4:10am, and I have become hysterical because I have a giant gaping hole in my face. I was, and had always been, very sensitive about the whole false-teeth thing: very few people knew about it, and nobody had ever seen me without it. Nobody until Tammy, thirty seconds later, because my frantic ransacking had devolved into broken, hysterical sobbing, which had woken her up, and she’d burst in to ask what was wrong.

I scream my predicament at her, barely coherent above the rising panic. Well, rising panic and the fact that, without three of my front teeth, consonants are thirty per cent harder to say. Tammy helps me to search the room again. Still, the plate is nowhere to be found. It is now 4:30am, and I was expected at work half an hour ago. I call my co-host Sarah, still sobbing, and tell her that my teeth have gone missing and I can’t come into work, partly because I can’t talk properly and partly because if anyone were to see me in my grotesque state I’d surely chased out of the city and beaten with sticks by an angry, torch-wielding mob. Tammy, unable to help any further, leaves me to my wailing, and I hang up the phone and do what I have always done when faced with insurmountable distress: I curl into a ball and immediately go to sleep.

I wake up again at 8:20am, utterly disoriented. It’s the wrong time of morning to be asleep, why am I not at work, why does it feel so breezy behind my top lip…

I remember why I’m still at home, and begin sobbing again. Lying there, crying, I try to plan my day. I have to find a dentist, I have to pay however much money it will cost to fast-track a new plate, I have to figure out if a dentist can even make one from scratch, or if they’ll need my dental history from the shitty rural Murgon dentist who made the first one. I can’t go into work until it’s replaced. In fact I can’t go anywhere until it’s replaced: I’m a breakfast radio announcer in a relatively small city: I’m recognised everywhere I go. So I’m stuck. I can’t do my job or leave my house or bite an apple or say “Susan Sarandon”. I feel like I’m going to throw up. Stress and panic and sadness wash over me. I could definitely throw up. I’m so stricken with grief and panic I can’t even think about what the next step is.

Oh, wait, yes I can: I absolutely have to throw up.

I fling back the covers and leap out of the bed to race to the bathroom. As I do, something scratches my upper arm. Almost simultaneously, I see a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye and hear the soft, padded thud of something small landing on carpet. I look down and there, on the floor, is my plate. Just sitting there, like it had been there the whole time. Which it most definitely hadn’t. The nick in my arm had been from the wire of the plate as it fell to the floor. But fell from where? Then I saw the hole in my singlet. The hole that the plate wire had clearly been hooked through.

So, not only had my plate come out of my mouth while I slept, fallen down to my singlet and gotten itself hooked, it also managed to STAY hooked while I searched my room, twice, hysterical and crying and generally making a scene, and then still stayed in place when I went back to sleep for four more hours.

That day I learnt that an alarming amount of my self worth was tied up in that small arrangement of plastic and wire. And while it seems so simple now, at the time I honestly could not conceive how I would go about changing the situation. So I continued to live with the risk that at any moment a giant chunk of my humanity might flee from my gob and lose itself in my pyjamas. I lived with that risk for eight more years.

51) 2005. Challis Street, Dickson ACT 2602

Having worked solidly on building our experience on-air since the beginning of 2003—slowly creeping into better time slots, filling in for the regular breakfast show—after two years Sarah Robinson and I had made it to a place where we were able to take a huge next step: our own permanent full time positions. At the end of 2004, we signed contracts with 104.7 in Canberra to be their new breakfast show, with plans to start in early 2005.

On December 31, 2004, Sarah and I said goodbye to our friends and families, crammed everything we could fit into my 1981 Commodore, and made the 13 hour trip to Canberra. We nearly didn’t make the whole trip, because a 1981 Commodore doesn’t like doing that kind of thing on a whim. There was a real touch-and-go moment featuring a struggling radiator, a roadworks-induced traffic jam, and a heartbreakingly close but inaccessible BP: it nearly killed our careers, our friendship and the car. BUT: eventually we made it to the nation’s capital, ready to start our new lives.

Old Group Shot

104.7’s on-air line up for 2005. When we started, the station was mid-transition from a full on ROCK station to a pop-based “hit music” station. Sarah & I inadvertently became the face of this new brand, and a lot of people resented us for it. And not just listeners! The guy second from the left? He was so mad about the station’s new direction and on-air changes, for the first three months he flat out refused to speak to us directly. (But he became one of my closest friends, so clearly his convictions are paper thin.)

The whole experience was bizarre and intimidating. Even though we were still idiot kids from Brisbane who had no idea what we were doing (we tried to keep that quiet as long as we could, but eventually we had to actually go on the air), we were being treated like minor celebrities. High-spending clients of the radio station gave us the oddest free things, like gym memberships and meat trays (MESSAGE RECEIVED, CANBERRA #bodyshame). We had cocktail events held in our honour, did local TV commercials and “appeared” at events as if our being there was a big deal. On one occasion we were the “celebrity judges” for Fashions on the Field at a Race Day: that event currently holds the record for The Least Qualified I Have Ever Been To Do Anything, Ever.

The pièce de résistance, though? WE GOT OUR NAMES ON A FUCKING COFFEE MUG.

FullSizeRender (3)

THIS IS WHEN YOU KNOW YOU’VE MADE IT. (Yes, I took this photo just now, in June 2015. No, I didn’t even have to leave my room to get it. This mug and my tattoo (spoiler) are the only remaining links to my short time as a celebrity: I keep it with me always.)

The whole time this was happening; while we were being celebrated and paraded around like something worth seeing, we were completely befuddled. We didn’t feel like important people, we didn’t look like important people. It all felt so out of place. Not to mention that we were dead on our feet. With no budget for a producer, we were doing all the background work ourselves, and with no real clue what we were doing, all the background work took twice as long as it should have. Between interviews, planning meetings, pre-records, audio editing, writing, client call-outs and other show prep work, for the first several months we would start at 4:00am and not finish until around 4:00pm. Tired and confused: that sums up most of 2005.

Finding living arrangements befitting of this new life was at once very difficult and exceptionally easy. The difficult part was learning that Canberra was more expensive than I had realised. I had grown to love living alone since my time in Kelvin Grove, and was determined to do it again, but discovered I couldn’t afford to do it in Canberra. (Sidenote: This is not even a little bit true: I absolutely could have lived on my own in any number of places if I’d put more than five seconds thought into it. But remember: I was very tired.)

But once I’d come to terms with having to share, finding somewhere to live was the easy part. I wanted to be in the Ascot of Canberra. And I decided that the Ascot of Canberra was Dickson. Dickson is quaint and adorable and its main street looks like a movie set. It was pretty and central to my needs and I decided I was going to live there no matter what. (Sidenote: Dickson, while definitely lovely, is not the Ascot of Canberra. Kingston is the Ascot of Canberra, and is on the other side of the lake. I was way off. But remember: I was very tired.)

I’d even picked the building I wanted to live in: it was called Coventry.

From “The Tuscan Quarter” to “Coventry”. If you want to tour the world without a passport, I can highly recommend pretentious apartment building names.

Sitting above a startlingly dense collection of restaurants, “The Coventry” is part townhouse complex, part apartment complex, part secret hidden rooftop garden. The townhouses/apartments themselves form a border around the edge of the complex, while the middle is made up of an oasis of palm trees, water features and boardwalks.

dickson roof

This is on the ROOF. And yes, I did borrow this photo from a recent real estate listing. What? IT’S FREE ADVERTISING FOR MR BLACKSHAW.

I had to live there. I was going to live there. And I searched every corner of the internet looking for any sharehouse listing for 12 Challis Street.

I finally found one, which is how I ended up living with Hai. Hai mostly kept to himself playing World of Warcraft on two computers at once: His main character on his PC, and his secondary character “mostly for healing” which ran from a laptop on his knee. Hai was very friendly, though he was also a world class mansplainer. And he did do a lot of complaining (manmplaining?) about his impending promotion and how the move to six figures would push him up a tax bracket. Like, a lot of complaining. It dominated most conversations. But I would have happily listened to any number of complaints or unnecessary explanations of simple things if it meant getting to live in that building, which I was so in love with despite not once looking at any other place in any other suburb even for a single minute.

The apartment itself was glorious: two storeys, with each bedroom featuring its own full-sized bathroom. The shower took up one third of the entire room, so I could comfortably lie flat out on the shower floor without touching any surface (which, can I say: it cannot be overstated how handy that was for a hangover). Meanwhile, one entire wall of the bedroom—floor to ceiling—was glass. This was alarming at first; not just for me, but for the birds who flew headfirst into it on a semi-weekly basis.

dickson bedroom

That’s a LOT of window, right? And note the mirrored wardrobe doors. On no level was getting dressed in this room comfortable.

One time a magpie slammed straight into the glass right in front of my face as I was idly staring out the window. I didn’t know the true meaning of “high pitched squeal” until that day. And those stupid winding windows that only open a fraction meant I was never able to reach far enough to get all the feathers off the splat-mark.

Avian suicide attempts notwithstanding, the apartment was wonderful and the location was great. And I don’t just mean the location of the suburb within Canberra, I mean the location of the apartment: twelve feet above seven different restaurants. And it wasn’t even twelve feet of stairs: there was an elevator. As it was, the new hours I was working did not lend themselves to good choices, meal-wise:

4:30am: Ughhhh. Breakfast.
9:00am: Show’s over! Phew, I’m starving, it’s technically still breakfast time, yeah?
12:00pm: Oh my god I haven’t eaten since breakfast at 4:30am! Let’s have lunch!
3:00pm: I work so hard, I deserve a little treat.
5:30pm: No, see, because of how early I start, everything is earlier, so technically this is my dinner time.
8:00pm: Why yes, I’d love to meet you for dinner!

And so on. Combine that with living 27 seconds away from Chinese, Szechuan Chinese, Japanese, Ethiopian, a dessert place that only served frozen custard, the best Indian restaurant I’ve ever been to, and Dominos (and this isn’t counting the dozen or so other restaurants and fast food joints directly across the street) and it wasn’t long until things went south.

Well, not south. More like simultaneously east and west.


Learn from my mistakes, young players: get your promo shots taken BEFORE you start eating like a hobbit.


Okay this isn’t part of the main story. This is a bonus. Consider it a thank you gift for staying with me for nearly one whole year. Like any fresh new radio show, we were thirsty for ratings. We were always looking for big stunts to do. Long story short: I lost a bet on air and my punishment was learning a cheer routine with the Canberra Raiders cheerleaders, and then performing said cheer routine at a game alongside the Raiderettes. Which is how, on April 10, 2005, I ended up at Canberra Stadium in front of 19,000 people looking like this:

Embed from Getty Images

You read that correctly; this image is embedded from Getty Images (which, incidentally, is why it is so inelegantly placed: thanks, rudimentary embedding code!). Getty Images’ one and only image of me is in drag and mid-cheer routine. Worse still? This photo has now been on the internet for TEN YEARS.

50) 2004. Guildford Road, Kelvin Grove (Brisbane) QLD 4059

It had been over a year since I’d moved out of home for the third time. This time it appeared to have stuck. It had also been nearly four years since the first, disastrous attempt at living alone in my own place, so I figured it was time to give it another try. I’d gone from living in a suburban family home to house-sitting a mansion to very slowly collapsing down the side of a mountain to a fancy Ascot apartment: going solo was the next frontier. My friend John, who also worked at the radio station, had just been offered a job in New South Wales, so I took over his lease and moved into a lovely little apartment in Kelvin Grove.


“The Tuscan Quarter”. This name is a complete misnomer. There is precisely one Tuscan thing about this entire building: the word “Tuscan” written on it.

Kelvin Grove is a nice suburb—walking distance from the city—but I was in an odd pocket of the neighbourhood: I lived directly behind a funeral home, and diagonally behind a KFC. The atmosphere was…odd.


“What is that DELICIOUS smell?” *flings open curtains* “Ohhhh now I’m sad”

The building was two storeys high; each consisting of three apartments in a row. Underneath the two storeys was a row of six garages. I was fortunate enough to have the garage at the end of the row. No, not fortunate. The other one. Fucked. I was fucked. You see, to get a car into any of the garages, you had to drive parallel to the building down the narrow driveway and pull a magnificently tight 90 degree turn at the last second to ease into your designated garage. On top of this, the garage doors were manual and opened outwards, so in fact before your magnificently tight 90 degree turn, you had to stop the car, get out, open the garage door, get back in the car, magnificently tight 90 degree turn, park, get out, and close the garage door. This seemed like all too much work for the other five residents, so they usually would just park against the wall on the other side of the driveway, right in space I needed to get my car in and out. My car was a great hulking 1981 Holden Commodore station wagon: roughly the size of a Texan hearse, magnificently tight 90 degree turns did not come easy to it. I needed every inch of space available to steer that cow, so all it took was one car parked along the driveway where it didn’t belong and I would find myself blocked in.

Being quite timid and deathly afraid of confrontation or conflict of any kind, I would normally do nothing about it. If, upon readying myself to leave for work, I noticed that I was stuck, I would simply set off on foot, calling ahead to let work know I would be late. Sometimes I would catch the nearby bus. For months this went on, and I realise this was a mistake, because it taught the other five tenants that parking in the driveway was NBD, because the guy whose door they were blocking never seemed upset by it.

Meanwhile, over the past 18 months, Sarah and I had slowly been working our way into an increasingly prominent on-air role at the radio station. “The Hot Tin Roof” had gone from a two hour show at midnight on a Friday night, to a two hour show at 10pm on a Tuesday, to a three hour show on a Saturday morning. We’d also become the regular fill-ins for the breakfast show, meaning we had a regular weekday breakfast spot three or four times a year.


The Hot Tin Roof with Chris, Sarah & JP*. Yes, Sarah is in her pyjamas: we had to get up VERY early.

The first time one of these breakfast spots came up while living at The Tuscan Quarter, I panicked a little. Four weeks of 4am starts. This meant no buses, and no extra time to walk. I just had to hope that nobody would park in the driveway during those four weeks.

Helpfully, I stuck a sign to my garage door. “Hi! Please don’t park in front of this door: my car is a giant station wagon with no power steering and I can’t get it out if your car is parked there, and I’m about to start early morning shift work. Thank you!” It was polite and inoffensive. If anything, it was a bit naff, but I hoped it would do the trick.

On my VERY FIRST MORNING FILLING IN ON A CAPITAL CITY’S NUMBER ONE RATING RADIO STATION BREAKFAST SHOW, I found myself blocked in, and I didn’t know whose car it was. I was so upset that I was at risk of screwing up one of the greatest career opportunities I had ever been given, I did the only thing I could think of: I honked my horn.

Well, “honk” isn’t really the right word. To describe it more accurately: I hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooonked it. It was about forty-five seconds of long, continuous honk, at 4:15am. And 1981 Commodores do not have pretty sounding horns.

My entire life, I have endeavoured to be good. To not be mean, or demanding, or troublesome. But for those forty-five seconds, I was a total fuckbag.

If you accept that previous sentence is true, then what followed was a complete cock-up on the universe’s part: the only person awoken by my fuckbag honking was the very person whose car it was. He opened their apartment door, saw the situation, and immediately without a word, moved their car. Not a single person in the building ever once admonished me for the honking. It wasn’t even acknowledged. But for as long as I lived at The Tuscan Quarter, no one ever parked me in again. So, essentially, being a fuckbag got me exactly what I wanted.

I wish I’d been smart enough to take that lesson to heart. I could be a magnificently wealthy, successful, feared and respected fuckbag by now.


*While Sarah and I were a duo, “The Hot Tin Roof” was always a trio, because neither of us ever learnt how to actually panel the studio desk. We needed an anchor. The upshot of this is every other announcer on B105’s payroll was lumped with us at least once, tasked with doing all the stuff we had no idea how to do, like pressing buttons and telling the time. Over two years, we were “The Hot Tin Roof with Chris, Sarah and…” Matt, Buggy, Jordo, Deano, JP, Kez, Whippy and Lowie. (Yes, I had a favourite. No, I won’t tell you who.) Of these TEN people, only three still work in radio, and none of those three work in regular on air roles, which I think makes The Hot Tin Roof the Ted McGinley of radio shows.

49) 2004. Upper Lancaster Road, Ascot (Brisbane) QLD 4007

The Black Thunder team at B105 in the early 2000s was a dream team. When your job is to drive around in a promotional vehicle all day, stopping only to give out free stuff, you can’t help but have fun and bond with your coworkers. Even though some shifts started at 2am, and some shifts ended with every stitch of clothing and hair follicle reeking of sausages (from the mass-scale barbecue we put on), and some shifts had both those elements, it was still a blast. Okay, it didn’t feel like a blast at 11 in the morning when you had already worked nine hours and smelled like a butcher’s bin, but still. We were a tight-knit group, and pockets of that group remain friends to this day.

The Black Thunder Pilots (yeah, that’s what we were called) were identifiable by their code names. All names were bestowed upon us by the station’s drive announcer, Deano. They were usually a pun on a popular artist of the time, or sometimes a pun on the person’s name. Sarah (my Bardon housemate) was “Miss Demeanour”. Sarah (my radio co-host) was “Goo Goo Doll”. Jonnie was “Buff Daddy”, on account of his spectacular muscles. Gemma was “Atomic Kitten”, but when the actual Atomic Kitten stopped being a thing (look, it took us all by surprise how short-lived they were) she successfully campaigned to be renamed “Gems & Gravy”. Pete was “Scooter”, Zoe was “Sugababe”, Jayce was “Basement Jayce”, Andy was “The Apprentice”, Mark was “Marky Mark” and Dave was “Just Plain Dave”. Okay so there’s a chance Deano had run out of ideas by the end, there.

Me? I was “Ludachris”, and laugh if you want, but I loved the shit out of my code name.


same, tbh

With Sarah—sorry, Miss Demeanour—having moved out, there was not much reason for me to stay at the Bardon Spider Terrarium/Snake-Specific Possum Buffet. So when one of the other Black Thunder pilots mentioned he had a spare room, I was in like a flash. Not only did it give me the opportunity to move back to *hairflip* Ascot, where the fabulous people lived, but it also meant living with another teammate, which was just tremendous.

Ah, Lancaster Towers. Our apartment was the one on top. And yes, Upper Lancaster Road is the same road I lived on last time I lived in Ascot. This block of apartments was twenty metres away from the old Mansion of Lavender Doom.

To protect the identity of my housemate, as I have done with other names in this blog, I won’t use his actual Thunder name. I’ll make up a new one that’s in keeping with the theme of the others. To do this, I have consulted the ARIA charts for 2004, and the best option for my housemate’s name is…Milkshake.


*unevenly timed “ting!” noise*

Milkshake kept a meticulously clean apartment. Which was surprising considering how much time he spent drunk. Milkshake was gregarious; it was his best quality (his dancing was his second-best quality). Milkshake literally believed that a stranger was just a friend he hadn’t met yet. The upshot of this is if he spent a night out on the town, which he did a lot, he would return home with at least half a dozen people he’d met, and invited home to hang out. To know Milkshake was to be continually meeting new people. Now, as someone who finds the idea of meeting new people terrifying, this was nerve-wracking and frustrating. But: I can safely say that I was never, not for one second, ever bored in his presence.

One morning I came out of my bedroom to find our lounge room floor covered in South American tourists, all sleeping off the previous night on the floor. How long had they been there? Who knows. How long did they end up staying there for? Don’t know that either: I left, because it’s surprisingly hard to watch TV with ten strangers strewn about the place like drunk, snoring confetti.

Milkshake’s wild nights out were kind of an adventure through which I could live vicariously, and I enjoyed that. However, sometimes he and I were rostered on to do the same shifts at work, and then it wasn’t quite as adventurous. Well, no, it was still adventurous, I just reacted more bitchily to it.

The worst was the day Milkshake and I had to do an early shift: it was a 5:30am start. At 4:30am I woke up and showered. On my way back from the bathroom, I noted that there had not yet been any movement from Milkshake’s room. He had been out the night before, and I’d gone to bed before he’d come home, but he wouldn’t have been out all night, right? Surely not. He knew we had work in what was now forty-five minutes.

By the time I’d dressed and put my shoes on, it was 5 o’clock. I was going to have to abandon Milkshake and go to work alone. I headed out into the lounge room, and noticed that the front door was wide open. I’d tried to keep my cool when I realised I’d be going to work alone, but this immediately turned me into a prissy, self-righteous tantrum machine. It’s bad enough that he went out all night and forgot to come home, but he couldn’t even shut. the fucking. door. when he left? Not only that, but our door had a hydraulic spring. It shut automatically. So for it to be wide open, he must have…broken it?

Having already gained quite a lot of momentum in my double-black diamond hissy fit, I decided to lean into it. Throwing my hands in the air dramatically (for whose benefit? Nobody’s. Live life like you’re always being filmed before a live studio audience, I say), I stomped over to the front door to a) check the damage, b) slam it shut, and c) flounce off to work to work in a huff, alone, like a martyr. And that’s when I realised: the door wasn’t broken. The door was open because it was being held open…by Milkshake’s feet. Milkshake was passed out across the corridor of our apartment building: his feet propping our door open, his head resting against the neighbour’s door like a pillow, and his pants down around his ankles.

Me and Milkshake: artist’s impression. Full disclosure: when I’m being petulant and tantrumy, I am INDISTINGUISHABLE from Saffron Monsoon.

After checking to make sure he wasn’t straight-up dead, I petulantly kicked him awake (I’d been denied my door slam and my martyrdom: I was spectacularly fractious). With surprising chirpiness, he said “Oh, hey! Good morning!”, pulled up his pants, and disappeared into his room. He emerged exactly seven minutes later: fresh, showered, in uniform, so handsome, and 100% ready to go. We both made it to work on time as if nothing had happened.

Milkshake never explained how he ended up pantsless and asleep in our corridor, and I never asked. Our gentlemen’s agreement on this matter has never been broken.

I only got three months with Milkshake before we received the dreaded “the owner is putting this property on the market, BYEEEEEE” letter from our real estate agent. I don’t feel like I got nearly long enough with Milkshake, or with Ascot, but I did move out very quickly after receiving that letter, lest Milkshake enlist me in helping him get his piano out of a third-floor apartment.

48) 2003-2004. Simpsons Road, Bardon (Brisbane) QLD 4065

One can’t house-sit forever. Especially once the house’s residents return. Doubly especially once more than a month has passed since the house’s residents have returned, and you’re still bouncing about the place like…well, like an unwelcome house guest. So I fired up Flatmates.com.au and did some searching, seeking out the perfect ramshackle oddbox to experience proper, permanent sharehousing.

Simpsons Road, Bardon paid dividends in this regard. During the seven months I lived here, I got the full complement of  He Died With a Felafel in His Hand-esque experiences. I mean, some people take decades to experience the gamut of housemate craziness. I got it all in one go.

simpsons road

I had to cheat with Google Street View and go back to the earliest photo they had, because in the last six years the owners have renovated the ever-loving SHIT out of this place and now it’s all fancy?

For a start, the house was a Dr Seussian nightmare. Nestled about a third of the way up Brisbane’s Mt Coot-tha (you know how you refer to the “foot” of a mountain? Well by anatomical geography we were in the mountain’s crotch), the house perched on the steep ground in such a way that the front of the house was ground level, but the rear was held up by stilts. And not good stilts, either: the building was literally at risk of, at any moment, collapsing and rolling down the side of the valley from which it precariously jutted. A mattress on the floor in one corner of the lounge room marked out where it was unsafe to walk, partly because you could feel the lean of the floor in that spot, and partly for fear of cracking the building in half. To the left of the mattress there was a very fine vertical crack running down the one side of the lounge room wall; by the time I moved out it had become such a thick crack that sunlight shone through it.

The house was also continually under siege from possums and spiders. One spider was so big, as it climbed up a housemate’s lava lamp its legs went all the way around the lamp and met on the other side. One was so heavy, when we finally killed it (it took four people; that is a whole other story), and dropped it in the toilet, it made an audible donk as it hit the bottom of the bowl. I found one above the front door once, killed it with a broom (after all the screaming, obviously), swept the corpse away and by the time I’d turned around, another one the exact same size was in the exact same spot.

The spiders would have been the stuff of nightmares, except it wasn’t possible to have nightmares because nightmares only happen when you’re asleep, and it’s impossible to sleep with the constant CLOMPYCLOMPCLOMPCLOMPING of the possums both on the roof and under the floorboards. The only reprieve we got from the possums was when a massive python decided to move into the roof and eat all the possums. But then we were living in a house with a massive python, so sleep still eluded us.

It was living in Bardon that I got my first (and thankfully, only) taste of housemate thievery, too: six weeks after I moved in, Greg moved out: apparently taking with him one half of season two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD and a pair of my shoes. I assume he needed the shoes to go to JB Hi Fi to buy the other half of that season of Buffy?

Greg moving out ushered in another first: living with a friend!

Proof that Sarah has always been radiant and beautiful, and that I have always been END OF SENTENCE

I met Sarah Collins in 2001 when we both worked as volunteers at B105. Today, she is my very best friend slash unofficial twin sister.

I’m sorry. I have to stop. That photo of Sarah and I that I posted is terrible. Let me try again.

OH FOR THE LOVE OF- look forget it.

Sarah and I realised we were unofficial twins when we kept finding weird similarities about ourselves: we both had family in Toowoomba (Sarah, in fact, was raised there). We wore the male/female equivalent of the same fragrance. We had even, long before we knew each other, both worked at the same glamour photography-selling telemarketing company. At the time of our meeting, in 2001, I was studying at The Actors Conservatory and still in the closet, while Sarah was in the closet about wanting to be an actor. We were two sides of the same coin.


The cast/crew of a 2003 stage adaptation of Nick Earls’ “48 Shades of Brown”. Sarah still wasn’t able to bring herself to admit she wanted to be an actor by this stage, so she joined the team as the make-up artist for the show instead. For a cast of four; and two of us didn’t even wear make up.

With our lives so unwittingly entwined it was destined to happen at some point: in 2003, we both shared an address. The Bardon Spider Terrarium/Snake-Specific Possum Buffet.

I was so glad Sarah moved in. We hung out all the time anyway; this just made it easier. Sarah was the best person to watch bad TV with, and the best person with whom to orchestrate the perfect timing for doing laundry at the laundromat while simultaneously eating dinner at the Kookaburra Cafe next door*. Also, she gave free hair cuts. They weren’t good, but they were free.


This is what happens when you do a hair cut outside, at night, when the light on the back landing only lights one side of your head, and neither of you think to turn around and face the other way. ALSO PICTURED: an asshole of a t-shirt, and a glass bowl filled with water, floating candles and glass pebbles. CLASSY. AS. FUCK.

But living with Sarah wasn’t just about good times and asymmetrical fringes. I needed Sarah at the Bardon Spider Terrarium/Snake-Specific Possum Buffet because I needed someone else to experience the wonder that was my other housemate, Ian.

What a conundrum Ian was. Ian, who coloured his hair with intense (and amazing) black and white stripes, but then sulked for weeks afterwards because “people won’t stop STARING at me!?” Ian, who regularly got not-insignificant chest infections, and would try to cure them by jogging up the mountain, because he believed the vitamin D helped him to fight infection. Ian, who so desperately wanted to “damn the man”, but was easily cowed by a single phone call from his mother (to be fair, she was terrifying). Ian, who valued privacy more than anything, and saw himself as quite mysterious, but within hours of me moving in had told me his entire life story in meticulous detail. Ian, who spouted the kind of tiresome, generic anti-American sentiment that was the launchpad for 70% of all our fights—he claimed Lantana was an excellent film because “there’s only one American in it, and she dies, ha ha ha!”—but who couldn’t tear his eyes away from the season one finale of American Idol that Sarah and I were watching one night. He even watched it in hiding, only poking his head out of his bedroom door to peek with one eye.

In Sarah’s first week, Ian insisted on the three of us having a “family dinner” together. He cooked, set the table, turned off all the lights in favour of scattered candles, and even draped a teatowel over his arm as he served dinner, like the Bardon Spider Terrarium’s fanciest waiter. As we began eating, Ian asked Sarah about herself. For twenty minutes, he grilled her about her life: her childhood, her siblings, her parents, her job, her goals, her dreams, her interests, her friends. He wanted to know everything about her. It was intense and weird, and it seemed like the beginning of some kind of Single White Female scenario.

But that’s not what it was.

After Ian’s last question, there was a long pause. Perhaps up to an entire minute of deeply, deeply uncomfortable silence. Then suddenly, Ian turns brightly to Sarah and says “Shall I…reciprocate?” 

Before Sarah could answer—though not before she involuntarily shuddered—he launched into his own extraordinarily detailed life story. The exact same one I’d received when I moved in. Almost word for word. Start to finish. For forty minutes. He did not leave a single thing out.

I usually conclude stories involving other people with a thing I learnt from them. I learnt several things from Ian. The first, and most important, is to own your ego. If you want to talk about yourself, go ahead and have at it. Don’t try to disguise it as something else: you’ll only terrify people. Just go for it. This is a lesson I have clearly taken to heart, as this very blog is, so far, 48,000+ words of me talking about myself AND I HAVEN’T ASKED YOU ANYTHING.

The other things I learnt from Ian were about being a better housemate. Because this is my blog, I have the privilege of talking about everything from my perspective, and I’ve made Ian look like a crazy person and terrible housemate. And look, he was, but he was also very kind and generous. He was, in a way, loveable. Sure, he hugged weird and spent far too long in his room and was quite certain that “dark spirits” were following him around, but he was a sweet guy. He was certainly more tolerant of me than I was of him, or his spirits. was a terrible housemate. (In my defence, my only other experiences with sharing a house included fleeing in terror after seven weeks and sharehousing by default because I refused to leave my housesitting gig once the owners came back. But still.)

At the end of 2003, Sarah fled moved out, and our delicately choreographed laundromat/pizza dates* ended. In January of 2004, another coworker, who lived in Ascot (Ascot!), started asking around for a new housemate; I took him up on the offer and so I moved out too.

As far as I’m aware, Ian also got out of the Bardon Spider Terrarium/Snake-Specific Possum Buffet, before the lounge room snapped off the house entirely.


*FOOTNOTE: In case you live, or plan to live, in the Bardon/Paddington area, let us pass on our wisdom:

Christopher and Sarah’s Nine-Step, No-Wait Laundry/Pizza Plan


1. Go to laundromat, put clothes in washing machine.
2. Go next door to Kookaburra Café, take seat, order drink, chat until drink arrives.
3. Drink arrives, order food, sip drink.
4. Return to laundromat: clothes have just finished washing cycle. Put clothes in dryer.
5. Return to Kookaburra: food has just arrived. Eat food.
6. Finish food, order dessert to go.
7. Return to laundromat: clothes have just finished drying. Collect clothes.
8. Return to Kookaburra: dessert is ready. Collect dessert and pay.
9. Go back to BST/SSPB, eat dessert, fold clothes.

47) 2003. Ironwood Street, Aspley (Brisbane) QLD 4034

Having worked my way from Community Switch volunteer, to receptionist, to Community Switch coordinator, to “Black Thunder pilot”, in 2003 I made another huge advance at the radio station.

I went on the air.

B105’s program director Rex, showing an extraordinarily rare lapse in good judgment, put my coworker Sarah Robinson and I at the helm of a late-night show that we called “The Hot Tin Roof”. I have zero—ZERO—idea why we called it that: we just thought it was catchy. (We were idiots who had no idea what we were doing.)

Our first time-slot was midnight on a Friday night until 2am Saturday morning. Every week we’d utilise our combined total experience in radio (none) to create a two hour show. I wrote and recited long-winded diatribes (yes, I have technically been doing the very style of thing you’re reading right now for over a decade), Sarah told embarrassing dating stories, we would play recordings of us stopping people in the street to ask nonsense questions, and we would mock each other for being dickheads. To recap: we were idiots who had no idea what we were doing. Somehow, it worked.

Chris & Sarah: the perfect distillation of our on-air personality types. (This photo was taken at Brisbane’s “The X Factor” auditions, where I did, in fact, meet Daniel MacPherson. No I did NOT wrap myself around him like a compression bandage, because I am a professional)

Eventually, unbelievably, we became a solid enough show to start getting some interviews. We started slowly: our first ever interview was a reserve-grade rugby union player who had yet to take the field. Our second ever interview was Eddie Izzard: apparently the bell-curve of interview quality is quite steep. 

After a few months we got an upgrade to the 10pm-midnight slot on a Tuesday. The jump from an unpaid, post-midnight show on the weekend to a casually paid, pre-midnight show on a weeknight felt huge for us. So imagine the universe-tilting shock when, a few months after that, we were upgraded again: to holiday replacements for the breakfast show. Before we even knew what was happening, Sarah and I were filling in for the on-air-for-13-years-and-number-one-rating-the-entire-time Jamie Dunn and the B105 Morning Crew.



It was intense and insane and we thought were both going to die from fatigue on only our second morning, but we did it. I even remember the first freebies we scored as big-shot breakfast announcers: an alarm clock and a pubic hair trimmer. Both were invaluable to me.

There we were, ass-deep in the world of commercial radio. And at least two people thought we were not horrible. Without even really paying attention, I’d found a career. A career as a professional idiot who had no idea what he was doing.

Perhaps mum saw this sudden upswing in employment quality as an opportunity to finally offload a dependent who was by this point in low orbit over his mid-twenties, or perhaps it was coincidence. Either way, during this period of explosive job accomplishments, mum sat me down for some news.

“We’re going to be moving. We’re moving to be closer to Mike’s work. Somewhere around Slacks Creek.”

If you’ve been following this blog up to this point, from my owning of horses to refusal to eat peanut butter sandwiches to living in a house with faux-crystal doorknobs, you can probably tell how I am going to react to the notion of moving to a place that sounds like a euphemism for shitting your pants.

“Oh. Mum. Uh. Look, don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t think I want to move to…Slacks Creek. [shudder] So maybe I’ll move out instead, and you don’t need to look for a four bedroom place?”
“Oh. Christopher. Don’t take this the wrong way, but we already assumed you wouldn’t come with us. We’ve only been looking at smaller places anyway.”
“Well, good. Then. So we’re all on the same page? Great. That’s…great.”

Pre-empted by my own elitism.

And so I moved out of home, for the third and final time. It’s been twelve years so far, so I’m almost certain this one’s permanent.

But, to be honest: even on this, my third attempt at living out of home, I cheated a bit. For the first two months I lived in the home of one of my former teachers from The Actors Conservatory: Maria. Maria was easily one of the best teachers I’d ever had: nurturing and inspiring, but she took precisely zero shit, like if Professor McGonagall taught acting. Maria lived with her mother and two small dogs in an enormous house in Aspley, and they were doing a long holiday around Europe, so I moved in to look after the place: rattling around their monstrous house by myself like a five-cent piece in a tumble-dryer.


Just me and two dachshunds. The biggest challenge in looking after the dogs was trying to FIND them in this giant building.

My only company was the housekeeper, who came by three times a week and managed to find (and wash, dry and iron) my dirty clothes no matter how sneakily I hid them out of guilt: in an empty drawer, under the bed, in the bed, in my suitcase, and in the dryer (to look as if I’d already done them). She knew. She always knew.

The icing on the cake of this two-month housesitting stint was the food. The week before embarking on their European trip, Maria had “catered” for the christening of a family member’s daughter: making six or seven giant lasagnes, and dozens upon dozens upon dozens of savoury pinwheels. But then the christening was moved interstate, and suddenly Maria’s giant freezer was packed to the gills with frozen lasagne and pinwheels for no reason. The only condition of my housesitting was that all the food (which, after a week of cooking, she was sick of even looking at) be gone by her return. Maria asked if I could promise this. I asked Maria if she had ever met me.

To recap: I had home-cooked Italian meals to eat for eight weeks while I lived rent-free in a mansion with a housekeeper.

This is probably why I stayed in the house for another four weeks after they returned from their European holiday, and eventually had to be asked to leave. I can’t blame them for evicting me any more than they can blame me for staying.