Monday, 15 June 2009

Baby it's Cold Inside

The first true week of winter has descended upon Melbourne and despite having high hopes when I left Sydney I’m sad to report that homes here are as tragically under-equipped for cold weather as their NSW counterparts. It seems there is a collective disbelief that winter is actually real. Our place is draughty, slow to heat up, quick to cool down and our bathroom is like the inside of an esky.

It all brings back long-buried memories of frozen toilets, burst pipes and icy baths that I can still feel in my bones. I’m sure I’m not alone in shivering the night away and as a seasoned hand I feel honour-bound to help the goose-pimpled masses in their coldest hour. I therefore present the Mint Custard guide to DIY home heating…

Power Up: we live in a technological age and there isn’t a portable electronic device on earth that doesn’t come with an oversized charger that needs plugging in once a day. Handily those chargers get nice and warm after just a few minutes providing a convenient hand defroster. Plug in your mobile phones, i-pods, laptops, cameras and rechargeable batteries all at once for chillier nights.

Roastie = Toastie: everyone loves a roast dinner. It smells nice, it tastes nice and importantly it makes your kitchen warm and steamy. Chickens can take ages to do right, and even roast potatoes need an hour – long enough to use some of that excess heat for thawing your skinny asses. What’s more, after a few weeks eating fat-laden roast dinners you’ll have added a few inches to your lard jackets and we all know how good blubber is for keeping warm – just ask a whale.

Copy Cats: anyone who has worked in an office knows that freshly photocopied paper has it’s own unique heat source. No one knows why, it just is. The astute (and ute-owning) amongst you could do a lot worse than stealing a photocopier from work and setting it up in your front room to do a thousand copies an hour. For all your greenies worried about paper usage, just cuddle the paper until it goes cold and then feed it straight back into the machine. Recycling at its best. (Tip: when stealing machine from employer ensure you are wearing overalls and carrying a clipboard).

Girls’ Night In: for all you ladies (and any gents with lovely ladylike hair) why not invite your friends around for a hair-drying party? Get everyone to wash their hair before they arrive (you don’t want them using your hot water) and bring their own dryer. Once you get six or seven of those mamas going your living room will heat up nice and quick. Note – might make meaningful conversation somewhat tricky.

1930s Retro Chic. Anyone who has an elder relative or has read The Road to Wigan Pier will tell you that in the old days people only had one room – and they were lucky. They would cook and eat and relax and sleep there with 17 other siblings as well as parents, grandparents, cousins and the dog. Well, retro has never been so in so go all 1930s on your home and move everyone and everything into the front room. Make sure this includes tumble dryers (left on permanently), rice cookers (mmm, lovely steam) and hair straighteners…

Brain Training: all pain management is mind over matter. Launch a pre-emptive winter strike on your brain by having some hypnotherapy, which tells your body to ignore the usual telltale signs of the cold and just pretend it’s a balmy 26 degrees all year round. Tip: if your skin goes a waxy, red colour and then black, you are getting frostbite. This generally is not good.

I Will Survive: I have a great fondness for the antics of super-posh pretend SAS man and TV survival expert Bear Grylls. I have spent many a happy Saturday morning watching Bear eat elephant poo and larvae, telling us how to not get eaten by a lion and making cosy shelters out of palm leaves. He is often found in the tundra of the frozen north or on icy Patagonian hillsides telling us how not to freeze our collective knackers off should we find ourselves in a similar predicament. This essentially boils down to two things. Firstly Bear loves a bit of
Empire Strikes Back-style animal gutting and has been known to sleep inside the skin of a dead deer AND a camel’s stomach. If these are available in your ‘hood then go for it. Secondly, Mr Grylls is a big fan of getting his kit off. This may be a gimmick to get more viewers but it’s truly amazing the amount of times when he is at his coldest that he will take off all his clothes and then do press-ups and star jumps in the nip. So again, providing you have good curtains this is apparently a great way to beat the cold. And hey, at least if it doesn’t work you’ll have some Harvey Krumpet-style nudie fun.

Wrappers Delight: keeping your house warm is basically a war between heaters that make the air warm and walls, and windows that let that air escape. You can make like America in this war by arming one side with weapons of mass insulation. Bubble wrap not only provides great insulation when attached to walls, ceilings, windows and floors, but it’s also fun to walk on and pop when you’re bored. You’ll probably need the average supply of a suburban post office for each rooms, but it’ll be worth it and your house will be cosy and a bit space age. Tip: no candles dudes.

Fashion: In my short time here I have learnt that Melbourne is a fashion and style conscious city. However, whilst we all want to look cool, we don’t want to feel cool so you really need to rug up. Winter fashion is all about layers darlings and the more the better when it comes to blocking out breezes and keeping your extremities warm. This will make you look like the Ghostbusters
Stay Puft Marshmallow Man but it’s a small price to pay. Whilst we’re talking clothes, remember that age-old rule about colour. We all know wearing light coloured clothes is a great way to keep cool in summer. Ipso facto wearing dark clothes in winter must keep your warmer, right? That’s why so many people in Melbourne wear black. Honest.

Taking a leaf from comedy: if reality isn’t keeping you warm then why not try stealing a few ideas from television and film. Comedy in particular seems to have addressed this issue a few times, with a perennial favourite being to burn things: see the Young Ones (
Cash), Red Dwarf (Marooned). The rule here seems to be if you are going to burn things, make sure they belong to other people. A favourite of mine is from Planes, Trains and Automobiles where reluctant travelling buddies Steve Martin and John Candy double up in a motel bed… But if you can’t burn stuff or find a 35 stone bed-buddy I advocate the Withnail and I route which amounts to smoking cigarettes, drinking lighter fluid and cheap wine and covering your body in Deep Heat muscle relaxant cream. Oh yeah, and burning things...

Stay in Bed. Not much science needed here. Bears hibernate for a reason – they can’t be arsed being cold. Bed is always ace, so get in there and don’t leave. As
Wham! once poignantly noted, ‘it’s cold out there but it’s warm in bed, they can dance, we’ll stay home instead.’ And when did George Michael ever say or do anything stupid…

Let’s All Have a Disco: As Nelly is fond of saying, ‘it’s getting hot in here – so take off all your clothes’. Whilst it’s likely that he was directing his meteorological observations towards a particularly unfortunate young honey, the video to
Hot in Here points the way to a friendly and social solution to your heating needs – run a nightclub in your house. Sure there’ll be a few people sitting around the edges at first looking shy (or all night if you decide to run an indie club) but supply alcohol and get the bass pumping and soon you’ll have a room full of sweaty bodies nudging the mercury up on your thermometer. Heat-a-licious. One final tip – charge an entry exorbitant entry fee, then you’ll be able to buy an enormous fuck-off heater for next year…

1 comment:

kate said...

haha i love this list!! I especially love copy cats... it is so true... no better warmth that photocopied paper!!