Daily prompt: Don’t poke the koala


Trademark law is a minefield and a nightmare, as Australian manufacturers of ugg boots discovered in the late ‘90s.


Ugg boots (thought to be short for ‘ugly boots’) have been around in Australia and New Zealand since at least the early 1900s and everyone was happy. I bought my first pair in the late ‘60s, I remember. They weren’t as fancy as they are now, but oh, the blissful warmth!

But in the 1970s, a couple of Australian surfers took their boots to the US, where they won the hearts of Californian surfers. All good so far. But in 1996, the American company Deckers Outdoor Corporation bought the Australians out, registered the trademarks for ‘UGG’ in the US and 25 foreign countries and began sending cease and desist letter to Australian manufactures using the name ‘ugg’ for their boots.

Now Australians might be a bit dozy in the big wide world of cut-throat commerce, but we do like a fair go, and this wasn’t it. Uggs had been ours forever and we weren’t giving them up without a fight. So Australian ugg boot manufacturers joined forces as The Australian Sheepskin Association to fight the mighty giant that is Deckers, and in 2006 they won, on the basis that in Aus and NZ, ‘ugg’ is a generic term and therefore not subject to trademark restrictions.

It did take Deckers four years to pay the costs awarded against them, and in other countries, the battle to use the word ‘ugg’ is still ongoing, but it’s good to know that even in this world where big and rich rules, David can still defeat Goliath occasionally.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Daily prompt: I think therefore I am – or possibly not


The Age of Enlightenment (or Age of Reason) flourished in Europe between about 1620 and 1781 (or 1685 and 1815 depending on your point of view), when intellectuals advocated ‘reason’ as a means of freeing humanity from superstition and religious authoritarianism and opening the way to an appreciation of an objective truth about the whole of reality.

A big ask, you might say, but nevertheless, we owe them a lot.

But then, of course, we muddied the waters by diverging into warring interpretations, vigorous backlashes and a deep-seated reluctance to give up our best-loved superstitions. And here we are, up to our eyeballs in what might be called The Age of Muck.

Not that I’m a red-hot advocate for reason above all else. A world without creativity and imagination would be fairly boring in my view. And I’ve never been too sure about the possibility of objective truth except in matters like did you clean your teeth this morning and is the earth flat. But these guys (and yes, they were all men: women weren’t capable of logical thought back then) did at least start people thinking instead of simply following along.

But perhaps the problem is that we like being sheep. Like the sense of belonging. Feel reassured by numbers.

Even if sheep do get eaten.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Daily prompt: Take your pick


What you expect is what you get, so they say.

But then they also say Expect the unexpected.

 I’ve never been sure whether these things are said by two different sets of They, or whether you’re supposed to reconcile the two and come up with a one-size-fits-all philosophy of expectation suitable for all occasions.

Then there’s You’ll see it when you believe it, which is pretty much the same as getting what you expect and rocketed Wayne Dyer to fame and fortune, no doubt thus proving the absolute validity of the hypothesis.

I’ve tried, I really have. I read Mr Dyer’s book with huge enthusiasm, hanging on his every word. And it helped. At a time when things looked fairly bleak all round and the holes into which I could fall pitted the landscape like a subterranean obstacle course, I hung on like grim death to the belief that I could manifest a positive outcome by sheer bloody-minded determination.

And hard work. In Mr Dyer’s version, belief had to backed up by hard work, which is possibly why I was more open to it. Nothing will convince me that a red Porsche with your name on it will fall from the sky while you sit on a tropical island eating mangoes. Unless you’re North West, perhaps.

But on the other hand, I have worked hard at things that didn’t achieve what I wanted. Was this because deep down, I didn’t really expect they would? Or did I not work hard enough? Or was it a silly idea in the first place?

And here’s a conundrum. I am about to trundle out to Laggers Point in the expectation of seeing a few whales go by. What if they don’t? Have I not expected fervently enough? Have the whales’ expectations of being further south by now trumped my expectation of seeing them here today?

Or is this the whole thing a load of hooey thought up by someone with too much time on their hands and a nasty sense of humour?


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 11 Comments

Daily prompt: All things in moderation?


This whole notion of ‘expressing yourself’ is relatively new, at least for those of us raised in an age and a country when a certain amount of British stiff upper lip was considered mannerly. You didn’t waltz around letting it all hang out, physically or emotionally. We oldies have had more adapting to do than the young can begin to get their heads around.

And has it all been A Good Thing?


My reaction to the physical hanging out is threefold. First and foremost, it’s all a bit ho hum. You’ve got one of those or two of those? So what? So’s everyone else. And as for ads about laxatives, tampons and erectile dysfunction – oh for goodness sake, get on with the program.

Secondly, it’s set up a whole new area of competition: if it/they are not up to the standard of the day, your all-important image is blighted. Unless you hurry off and get an expensive and painful ‘fix’ that will allow to flaunt your enlarged/reduced/reshaped goodies without fear of humiliation. I can only imagine how stressful this culture must be.

And thirdly, while nothing will ever, ever excuse the Harvey Weinsteins and the orange hands of this world, and while victims in those situations are never to blame, it would be hopelessly naïve to imagine that if you let it all hang out, no one is going to look. And if they’re honest – deeply and atavistically honest – I’m pretty sure (though I can’t swear to it, I’ve never done it) that those who do let it hang out would be disappointed if nobody did look. All a bit messy, really.

As for letting it all hang out emotionally…

If you don’t ever express your emotions, one of these days you’ll explode. Or implode, or melt down, or fall apart. It’s not good for you.

But there’s a difference between expressing how you feel, and examining each minuscule fleeting emotion as if you’re noodling through the potch for quality opals. And there’s a difference between expressing how you feel and jumping in with both feet to wallow in it for an inordinate length of time and saying You don’t understand to every offer of help.

Now I’m not suggesting a return to neck-to-knee swimsuits and obligatory stoicism, but I do sometimes wonder if we haven’t got a bit carried away with ourselves and our ‘freedoms’ and our ‘rights’.

A bit of thought for other people’s rights and freedoms wouldn’t go astray from time to time.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 7 Comments

Daily prompt: Deep as a puddle


‘Risky’ is one of those words that lends itself to deep philosophical rumination. You know the sort of thing: nothing ventured, nothing gained said in a million different ways by a million different people, in relation to everything from love, money and climbing mountains to eating peanuts (which is risky for a whole lot more people than it used to be, probably because their immune systems are chewing their own ankles out of sheer boredom, all those nice tasty bugs in household grime having been whisked from under their noses by antibacterial sprays).

But I’m not in the mood for deep and meaningful today. Or most other days, if I’m honest. Deep and meaningful is the province of the young, and I am not young. I no longer get a buzz from agonising over the meaning of life, having decided a long time ago that – assuming there is one – it won’t be revealed until The Last Day, rather like exam questions on the day of the exams when you discover you should have been studying ham radio instead of Hamlet.

Meanwhile there are whales cavorting out in the bay, stopping off for a play with their calves on their way south for the summer. Not much risk in that, you might have thought. But one of the locals just happened to be passing in his boat yesterday when two humpback whales and a calf flashed past, pursued by a pod of orcas. (Video on you tube, if you want it.)

See? Not even whales are safe, these days, and all because… I don’t know, but I’m sure I’ll think of something. Daylight saving? Putin? The moon in the twenty-third house?


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Daily prompt: Family


The day after I posted this, my eldest daughter turned up at my door with this from her garden.


She is the baby for whom my husband brought me gardenias.

Meanwhile, today is my eldest grandson’s 18th birthday.

This is big deal in Australia – it means he’s now officially an adult, can vote etc. I rang my second daughter (his mother, single mother of 3) to mark the occasion and congratulate her on the wonderful job she has done: he is caring, responsible, articulate – and a lot of fun.

She thanked me, and said ‘But it takes a village to raise a child, the family has been his village and I’m incredibly grateful to you all.’

These are the things for which I give thanks every day.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Daily prompt: It’s all very tiring…


Not too much ascending going on at the moment, far as I can see. Except for those ascending their high horses to give the rest of us the what-for. Which doesn’t always turn out too well if Next Door’s high horse is equally lofty and their what-for is the opposite of yours. Quite likely to get messy, then, with us poor sods stuck on lowly hobby horses watching tomorrow’s pastures green churned up by high-horsey feet.

My hobby horse is called Toc – short for ‘Think occasionally’. I’m a big fan of thinking, particularly if you do it before you run off at the mouth. It can set up a useful internal dialogue.

Me: Next Door is stupid.
Voice of Reason: Why?
M: He disagrees with me.
VoR: He has reasons he thinks are valid
M: They can’t be
VoR: Why?
M: Because he disagrees with me
VoR: Now that is circular thinking, which automatically invalidates it
M: Yeah but…
VoR: So why don’t you ask what his reasons are? You might learn something.
M: Yeah well I s’pose…

But that assumes the Riders of High Horses are rational – a big assumption for which I have, as yet no supporting evidence. So maybe the inner dialogue goes like this.

RoHH: Next Door is stupid
VoR: Why?
RoHH: He disagrees with me
VoR: He has reasons he thinks are valid
ToHH: They can’t be
VoR: Why?
RoHH: Because I am always right, so shut up and go away.
VoR: Oh. OK.

Ah well. Maybe I’m just too old to get the subtle nuances.




Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 8 Comments