58) 2012-2013. Barkly Street, Carlton VIC 3053

I left Brunswick after 17 months to do two things I’d never done before: 1) live in Carlton 2) with a boyfriend. Tom. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT. I know. It had only taken nearly ten years.


Cute as a button, right? A cold, brown, weirdly squished button.

The little house in Carlton was perfect for Tom and me. It had a private courtyard, high ceilings, a huge bay window at the front, and an archway at the entrance FILLED with dicks.

wang manor

I meeeeeeean…

We did not notice this when we inspected the property. It was not weighing on our minds when we filled out the application. Nobody mentioned it to us when we signed the lease and picked up the keys. But on the day we moved in, after we’d already moved our third truckload of furniture into the house, our friend Matt, who was helping us move, looked up and immediately exclaimed “HAHA, COCKS.”

And lo, Wang Manor (name #1) was born.

Here’s the thing: the idea for Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore came to life while I was living at Pottery Court, and there were still only 57 addresses. Back at that early stage I had no idea how I was going to finish it. But then I moved to Buckingham Phallus (name #2), and I realised I had the perfect, traditional happy ending: I’d stopped the sharehousing merry-go-round, and I lived in a little home with my partner. Everything was aces, and that’s how I was going to end it: I was chuffed as fuck and twice as smug.

So why would this blog be advertising sixty houses when clearly this is the happy ending and I’ve lived here in fairytale bliss ever since? Let me answer that question with a question: Is this your FIRST time reading this blog? Of course I moved again. Of course everything went sadly, heartbreakingly tits-up. Of course it did.

Ah, breaking up in the digital age: when even your saddest day gets a filtered Instagram photo at the intersection of “brittle” and “twee”. Millennials, am I right?

All the other sad stories in this blog have had, with the benefit of time, an emotional moat built around them. I can tell them in gloriously morbid detail without so much as a twinge. Not so this story: it hinges on something I still find quite sad. However, I am determined not to fall down a sinkhole of blues-heavy navel-gazing, nor do I want to focus on what led, once again, to me moving house because ughhhhhhh I’m not Nicholas Sparks. So I’m going to tell a happy story from my time at the Bitz-Carlton (name #3).

LUCKILY, my clearest memory is also the best. It’s about an activity we invented called “Rubenising”, borne of a habit we got into during the colder months (which, in the Taj Mahard-on [name #4] was all of them).

The bathroom at 10-inch Downing St (name #5) was small and oddly shaped. As a pair of gentlemen who were medium and oddly shaped, this made drying ourselves upon getting out of the shower a challenge. Perhaps the first solution would have been to shower separately, but shut up: it felt romantic. (Also our hot water system was the size of a Thermos, but mostly the romantic thing.)

Eventually we got into the habit of one person dashing to the bedroom, which required running past the gas heater installed in the the converted fireplace. Eventually one of us had the stroke of genius to just stop at the heater and turn it on. And so began a new ritual.

After we showered, we would race to the heater, and dry ourselves there, letting the heat assist the process. Over time, “vigorously drying ourselves in front of the heater” became “half-heartedly drying ourselves in front of the heater”. This in turn became “standing in front of the heater hardly moving at all” and eventually we gave up the pretence of even attempting to dry ourselves: we would simply lay out our towels on the carpet and lie on top of them, butt naked, and let the heater do our drying and warming for us. We became so reliant on this process we started factoring it into our “getting ready” time when we had to leave the house.

On one occasion Tom used the adjective “Rubenesque” to describe our nude, wet resplendence, which led to the verb “Rubenising”. This, in turn, led to the rule that you weren’t allowed to Rubenise unless you sang “Rubeniser, Rubeniser, Rubeniser” while you did it. Was there a melody to this song? OF COURSE THERE WAS.

I will always be a little bit sad that I had to leave The Hanging Gardens of Grab-a-schlong (name #6); not least of all for the reason I had to leave. But the time I spent there was pure joy from start to (just before the) finish, and I’m choosing to focus on that.

And while I was, for a long time, disappointed that I didn’t have the neat ending for this series of stories that I wanted—so much so that I did, for longer than I’m willing to admit, give up the idea of writing them altogether—I did learn a valuable lesson. Simply: you’re never at the end.

57) 2010-2012. Pottery Court, Brunswick VIC 3056

After six months of living with milk crate furniture and a park bench couch, I decided it was time to live like a grown up again, and I moved in with my friend Steve into an apartment in a reconditioned factory in Brunswick called The Brickworks.


One assumes “Brick And Also Corrugated Iron Works” wasn’t nearly as catchy.

None of the furniture in our apartment had at any time been used to freight goods, so it was a definite improvement. And between the two of us we had an improbably high number of games consoles, so I called the apartment as The Arcade. This name didn’t catch on with quite the same ferocity that The Ponderosa did, but it’s still how I remember the place.


Yes that is a 45 degree angle balcony. The apartment was made up of many of these non-perpendicular corners. It made for a quirky space, but it was a pain in the dick for trying to find a decent patch of wall to place a bookshelf.

It was while living in this apartment that a 19 year saga finally came to an end; a saga that started in 1993 when I face-planted into a catamaran on a six-lane road. But before things got better, they had to get worse.

It started one October morning in 2011, when I woke up and could immediately taste blood. My first thought was that I’d done something horrible in my sleep: As a child I had sleepwalked, sleep-talked, sleep-fed-the-cat and sleep-peed-in-the-linen-cupboard, so it wasn’t entirely outside the realm of possibility to consider I’d taken up sleep…vampiring. However, a quick scan of my bedroom showed no signs of murder, so it was looking more like the blood I could taste was probably my own. This was hardly comforting.

By mid-morning, after brushing my teeth ninety-seven times, nothing had changed and it was time for an emergency dash to the first dentist that would take me. One quick X-ray later, and the dentist had discovered the root (pun intended) of my problems. Want to see? Well you can’t, as their email was on the blink, so I couldn’t get a copy myself. But I did fire up MS Paint to draw a facsimile based on the description the dentist gave me:

mouth scan

I don’t know which is more terrifying: the dental trauma I was enduring, or the fact that a man in his 30s still uses MS Paint to make pictures.

That was the state of my mouth.

So, why the blood? Well, the two wisdom teeth that were head-butting couldn’t move, but they wanted to, so there was a lot of undetectable jiggling. The disturbance was keeping all the gum above it nice and soft and susceptible to infection. Which, I’m told, I’d had non-stop for who knows how long. It seems my healthy immune system had kept actual infection symptoms at bay, but the bleeding and mild swelling were signs that stuff was going on down there that I had been unaware of for years.

The dentist went on to explain that the two buried wisdom teeth needed to come out, but were far too deep for him to do in his clinic: I had to go in for surgery. He strongly recommended—in a terrifyingly serious, dour, dentisty manner—that if I was going to have the trauma of going under general anaesthetic and having my head yanked apart like a victim in a Saw film ANYWAY, I may as well get all those rogue wisdom teeth (and the shy adult canine) removed at the same time. Having 6+ teeth removed might seem extreme, but he reasoned that there was no need to have my mouth prised open with a car jack more than once.

He also reasoned that the expense of the surgery would be pointless if I didn’t fix up the whole business with the hit-by-a-boat-on-dry-land induced gap in my teeth while I was at it. By this stage the dental plate I’d been using was 17 years old (which even grosses me out to think about and I was the one wearing it). The dentist recommended a bridge, which would cost me in the vicinity of $15,000.

So, let my mouth destroy itself or plummet into considerable debt? One option would most likely prevent me from being able to eat food, the other would prevent me from being able to buy it. But I was still super jumpy from the time I lost the plate in my sleep, so despite never knowing in a million years how I would afford it, I spent the subsequent few months preparing and applying for loans.


Fast forward to January 10, 2012, the day of the surgery. My mother had flown down from Queensland to look after me during the surgery recovery. The last of the pre-surgery fillings (and there had been maaaaany) had been completed. Every last divot in my teeth had been filled in, up to and including the divots made by the wires of my old false-teeth plate, which now no longer fit in my mouth. The solution to this was to simply cut the wires off, meaning I spent one very unsettled week with no way of holding the plate in my mouth besides the awesome adhesive power of my own spit. “I hope you already cover your mouth when you sneeze, and if you don’t you’d better start” was my dentist’s advice.

At 12:15pm we drove to the hospital where my surgery would be taking place. Not dissimilar to a Big Brother housemate, I had to sign a thousand forms, give up my electronic devices and put on an outfit that revealed far too much skin. A big patch was stuck to the back of my hand to relax me (pretty sure I was more relaxed before a giant, squidgy bandaid I wasn’t allowed to touch was affixed to me), and then my blood pressure was taken (causing my blood pressure to IMMEDIATELY skyrocket because I hate not acing every test I take). We then waited for just long enough for me to feel incredibly self-conscious in my hospital-issued ensemble of dressing gown, shower cap (head) and shower caps (feet): so about six minutes.

Nothing calms the nerve before surgery quite like being patched, tagged, stripped and then paper-bootied.

Upon having my name called, I was swept into a room that felt just a bit too big, helped up onto a bed that felt just a bit too high, and set upon by three or four nurses who seemed to be moving just a little bit too quickly.

“Okay, almost ready to start,” said my extraordinarily carefree surgeon, who was so fancy his official title had gone way past “doctor” and all the way back around to “mister” again, “Time to get those wizzies out.” I tried not to think about the fact that I was having surgery performed on me by a man who said “wizzies” instead of “wisdom teeth” and wasn’t called “doctor”. He stuck a syringe into the drip to which I was already attached. “This is going to make you feel like you’ve had three or four bourbon & Cokes. Then we’ll see how we go from there.”

I didn’t even have a chance to ask whether he could make it three or four Malibu & Cokes before I was out.


Several hours, or maybe three seconds, or possibly three thousand years later, I woke up. I woke up with no real recollection of what I was waking up from. Unlike waking from sleep, where the brain kicks into action and eventually tells the eyes to open, my eyes opened themselves while my brain struggled to catch up. And it didn’t catch up well. I felt like the whale in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, just suddenly being an entity and trying to figure out how that works:

“I…what? Wait. Good morning, I guess? It is daytime. What is daytime? Who am I? Pass. Where am I? I am in bed. Mum is here. What is ‘Mum’? Oh, Mum is that person who is your mum. I have a mum. Why is Mum here? She lives in Toowoomba. Am I in Toowoomba? What is Toowoomba? What time is it? What is time? Am I late for work? Do I work in Toowoomba now? Fuck, I hope not. Wow, that’s a strong feeling to have about a place I can’t remember. Wait, this doesn’t feel like my bed. Am I in someone else’s bed? And if I was in someone else’s bed that brings me back to one of my earlier questions: why is Mum here?” 

This continued for some time.

A nurse walked into view and, seeing me awake, asked if I wanted to drink something. The second she said it, it was all I had ever wanted in my life. Every moment of my thirty-one years on Earth so far had been leading to this point, where I would get to drink something. I was suddenly very aware of the space between my eyeballs and my neck: what were once cheeks, a mouth and a chin was now a lumpy, dry, misshapen slab of concrete. And I was the thirstiest thing to have ever had a thirst in the history of things that get thirsty.

I get handed what seems like a paper thimble with about seven drops of water in it, and a straw. I put the straw in my mouth, and nothing happens. I realise the straw is actually four inches to the right of my mouth. I get the straw into my mouth, and still nothing happens. I’ve forgotten how to work a straw. I fling the straw aside and drink out of the paper thimble. No part of my head moves in response to my brain’s “drink this water” command, and half a cup of water splashes over my closed mouth and down my front. Mum retrieves the straw and I try again. With agonising slowness, like a farm tractor being started after fifteen years rusting in a paddock, my facial muscles grind and pull and shriek and contort themselves in such a way that a tiny tiny tiny tiny tiny tiny tiny sip of water makes its way into my mouth, and it is the happiest I have ever been in my life.

After re-learning how to activate the parts of my face generally required for survival, I was upgraded from a paper cup filled with water to a metal cup filled with jelly.


I was BARELY ready for that jelly. Cute headband though, y/n?

After what felt like not nearly enough time, we were allowed to go home, but not before we stopped off to pick up a) the variety of painkillers I had been prescribed, and b) every custard, jelly, and ice cream I could find, in the hope of sliding them all down my almost entirely unresponsive gullet.

This, it turned out, was a mistake. Why? Because I entirely forgot about actual food. Nutrients. Soups, mashed vegetables, pureed things. Six days of Yogo, ice cream and jelly added to a body that was already suffering from some pretty harsh transgressions (stress, anaesthesia, painkillers, half a dozen people violently plucking teeth from one end of it) causes some pretty disastrous results. Well, one pretty disastrous result: barfing.

And barfing.

And barfing.

And more barfing.

This is followed by a one-two punch of sobbing and whimpering, which is in turn followed by a bit more barfing.

Do you know how hard it is to barf through a swollen head full of stitches? Imagine one of those ready-to-bake roast lambs you buy from Coles, already trussed up in a tight little ball. Now imagine jamming a hose into one end and turning it on until water comes out the other end. It’s like that, only it hurts. And then there’s the aforementioned sobbing and whimpering.

FUN FACT: I had been dating someone for barely two months when this happened, and he graciously came to look after me. We are no longer together, and when I stop to wonder what went wrong between us, I am reminded that he met my mother AND watched me cry AND watched me barf AND watched me do both at once in only our seventh week of dating. That probably didn’t help.

I’m going to do us all a favour now and skip ahead to the part after the stitches dissolved, the swelling went down and I was able to chew again.


It is May of 2012. Four and a half months have passed since the surgery, and I have had many trips to the dentist to get fitted for my brand new porcelain (yes, like what toilets are made from) bridge. No more plastic, no more wires, no more ill-fitting denture that is able to be sneezed out of my mouth.


I swear it wasn’t actually that discoloured: this photo predates Instagram. It was taken with an app that added its own filters willy-nilly, and it clearly settled on “Dental Dystopia” for this one. But it’s the only photo I was ever willing to take of the stupid fucking thing, so it’s what you’re stuck with.

I finally had, for the first time, adult, human-shaped teeth.


I realise this photo isn’t as mindblowing to everyone else as it is to me, because I spent so long masking my teeth in photos, or smiling in a way that didn’t show the full extent of the damage, that evidence I ever had a problem at all is hard to find these days. But this is one of my favourite photos in the world.

For nineteen years I had that horrible old plate, and it completely defined my self-esteem for that whole time. So much of my identity was wrapped up in that little piece of plastic that acted as a mask for all of my formative years: covering the secret, disgusting hole in my face that I kept hidden from everyone. To be rid of it is to experience a freedom I wasn’t aware was even possible. To not be constantly reminded of a secret shame that sat in plain sight is worth every cent of the $15,000 I had to borrow to pay for it, and I don’t begrudge a single repayment because of how much lighter my soul feels.

JK I totally begrudge it, paying for things sucks.

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.