BEDA #7: Andrew McDonald the Shoemaker">BEDA #7: Andrew McDonald the Shoemaker

One week into BEDA and I’m find­ing blog­ging every day to be eas­ier than I thought it would be. It cer­tainly helps when I’m sent arti­cles like this one about my name­sake Andrew McDon­ald the Shoe­maker from Sydney.


That’s a photo of Andrew above, taken from the inter­view in today’s small busi­ness sec­tion of the Age. I already have to com­pete with Andrew McDon­ald the Vic­to­rian crick­eter now I have to com­pete with Andrew McDon­ald the Shoe­maker get­ting all this media atten­tion too.

To try to coun­ter­act all the atten­tion Shoe-Andrew is get­ting I have taken the Q&A he did with the Age, removed his answers and inserted my own answers:

The Age: How is bespoke retail­ing far­ing right at the moment? Are you find­ing cus­tomers are being more economical?

Me: I would say that bespoke retail­ing is most likely doing less busi­ness than usual at the moment. I say this because I have cer­tainly not pur­chased any bespoke or custom-made items in the past year or so. Exclud­ing that suit I got in Vietnam.

What changes have you had to make to the way you run your busi­ness to accom­mo­date the cur­rent eco­nomic climate?

I wouldn’t exactly call being a writer a busi­ness. But if I did run a busi­ness I would prob­a­bly cut back on all mar­ket­ing, fire most of my staff and spend my week­ends just gen­er­ally panicking.

How has the down­turn impacted on your busi­ness plans for the next 12 months?

It means that I can no longer afford to pay my busi­ness plan­ner Joseph to plan my busi­ness. Although I think he was work­ing on a five-year plan not a 12-month plan.

What things would you never com­pro­mise on and what things are ok to scale back on?

Writ­ers should try scal­ing back on com­pound verbs — they take up too much space and as money gets tighter, books are going to have fewer pages.

Is lux­ury retail­ing fac­ing the need to re-invent itself? Oro­ton mar­kets itself as ‘afford­able lux­ury’. Can this work for others?

Afford­able lux­ury is when you break into a rich person’s back­yard and swim in their pool. Or when you attend a wed­ding with the inside of your jacket lined with plas­tic bags to put caviar into. I’m not sure that Oro­ton counts.

If you had a crys­tal ball, what would you pic­ture for the next 12 months?

I don’t think this ques­tion makes gram­mat­i­cal sense. I mean, are you ask­ing what do I pic­ture hap­pen­ing in the forth­com­ing 12 months or what would I see if I stared at a crys­tal ball for 12 months in a row? The answer to that last ques­tion is…crystal ball. I would prob­a­bly just see a whole lot of crys­tal ball.

BEDA #6: Shoes in the Sky">BEDA #6: Shoes in the Sky

When I was out rid­ing my bike yes­ter­day I came across this sight:


Not that I believe the old myth that says a pair of shoes flung over pow­er­lines indi­cates the res­i­dence of drug deal­ers but there sure are a lot of shoes up there. Should some­one call the Feds?

BEDA #5: Underwear Shopping">BEDA #5: Underwear Shopping

I’m fairly sure I’m not in denial about under­wear shopping.

I walk casu­ally past the K-Mart and stall when I see the 25% Off Under­wear sign. I stop and rub my chin so as to give the impres­sion that this is the first I have known of this sale. I check the time on my phone and shrug my shoul­ders as if to say ‘I sup­pose I have time for an impulse K-Mart visit’. I walk in.

I search through the isles of the Out­door Fur­ni­ture and am sur­prised to sud­denly find myself on the edge of the Mens Under­wear sec­tion. ‘While I’m here I might as well have a look,’ I say in the body lan­guage of my swag­ger towards the underwears.

As I pass the sale under­wears I run my eyes over them all with­out actu­ally stop­ping. There is not much time to peruse since I am impulse shop­ping. The only thing I am check­ing for is the top rim of elas­tic of the under­wears — the part that the gen­eral pub­lic might see should I bend over one day or wear my pants slightly too low. I reach out and grab two under­wears with waist elas­tics that I deem to be ade­quate in appear­ance and I hus­tle back to the Out­door Furniture.

In the line for the check­out I check my shop­ping list which has ‘Gro­ceries’ writ­ten at the top of it. Clearly, my K-Mart trip has been a slight detour to buy my brother some new under­wears. I grab a small tin of mints from the candy stand and strate­gi­cally place them on top of my pile of goods, con­ceal­ing the under­wears from the naked eye. The check­out girl processes my items and I give her a smile that says ‘My wife asked me to buy these to clean the shower with.’ She looks at my bare ring fin­ger as I sign the receipt but to her credit she says noth­ing but ‘Have a nice day’. I shove my goods into my back­pack and walk out like I am very dis­ap­pointed that I didn’t find any­thing to buy at K-Mart.

I’m fairly sure I’m not in denial about under­wear shopping.

BEDA #4: Freaks and Geeks and me">BEDA #4: Freaks and Geeks and me

I think the time has come for me to gush about Freaks and Geeks. Freaks and Geeks was a TV show made for NBC in 1999–2000 about the ‘freaks’ and ‘geeks’ at an Amer­i­can high school in 1980. The show was pro­duced by Paul Feig and Judd Apa­tow (Knocked Up, Super­bad and The 40 Year-Old Vir­gin) and much of it was based on Paul Feig’s own humil­i­at­ing high school expe­ri­ences. But Freaks and Geeks (despite it’s off-putting name) is a killer show. At a Freaks and Geeks reunion panel last year Pat­ton Oswalt called it ‘the best 18-hour indie film ever made’. The con­cept isn’t new or even close to orig­i­nal but the writ­ing and act­ing make it com­pul­sory viewing.


The freaks – an older group of kids who would be regarded as ‘alter­na­tive’ these days – are headed up by a cool kid called Daniel (James Franco), but it’s mostly through the eyes of Lind­say (Linda Cardellini) that we view the world of freaks. Linda Cardellini plays Lind­say as the independent-minded girl bal­anc­ing her recently-new world of boys, drugs and ‘freaks’ with her old world of school, home life and Math­lete friends. How­ever I think it’s the ‘geeks’ that give the show its sparkle. Sam (John Fran­cis Daley), Neal (Samm Levine) and Bill (Mar­tin Starr) are the geeks in ques­tion and they were all so close to the ages they play when the show was made that you get the result that the British drama Skins har­nesses so effec­tively: tal­ented young actors play­ing young peo­ple, which leads to an amaz­ingly acted, pro­duced and believ­able tele­vi­sion production.

Whilst the show is often very cute and funny (like when the geeks switch the freaks’ keg of beer with a non-alcoholic keg at a party and every­one still gets drunk on the placebo effect) there’s a lot more going on that. One episode fea­tures a plot that sees Bill hos­pi­talised when some kids put peanuts in his sand­wich to see if he really is aller­gic like he says. As he lies uncon­scious in hos­pi­tal we get a short scene between Bill’s and Sam’s moth­ers where Bill’s mother won­ders if her heavy drink­ing whilst preg­nant with Bill is the rea­son that he is the way he is. Pretty intel­li­gent stuff for a show that, on the sur­face, appears to be just another high school dramedy.

There is no DVD release of Freaks and Geeks in Aus­tralia but you know how to get it. And I highly rec­om­mend putting a cou­ple of days aside to watch this stun­ning show. OK. Gush over.

BEDA #3: My Skillz Part One">BEDA #3: My Skillz Part One

When I went to see an unor­gan­ised Janeane Garo­falo at the Mel­bourne Com­edy Fes­ti­val tonight — and sat in a crowded room full of peo­ple — I realised one of my great­est skills in life is fold­ing my legs away to let peo­ple walk to/from their seat. It doesn’t mat­ter if I’m sit­ting in the Mel­bourne Town Hall, a uni­ver­sity lec­ture the­atre or the tightly-rowed Dock­lands Sta­dium (or Eti­had Sta­dium as my lawyer tells me to call it) I am a plea­sure to pass on your way to the toilets.

The fact that my legs make up the same amount of my body that water does (a lot) means that to fold them away under­neath my chair is no mean feat. Whilst peo­ple around me per­form mean feats and don’t even strive to fold their legs away (can I use ‘strive’ as a metaphor if we’re talk­ing about legs?) I want noth­ing more than the person-in-transit to pass me with absolute ease.

In fact, watch­ing me fold away my legs would be like see­ing a large piece of butcher’s paper being made into a beau­ti­ful, tiny origami swan. Which actu­ally sounds much more impres­sive than bend­ing your legs back. Maybe I should try to learn that skill and get a job in a fish ‘n’ chip shop. Just imag­ine the look on your Dad’s face when he comes into the shop on a Fri­day night and I serve him his seafood pack on the back of a paper crane.

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