The Deal Breaker.

I locked the car and looked at my reflection in the window.

“Oh well this is as good as I get.” I thought. Not too bad for an old chook.

Joe had said that personality was more important than looks. I hope he had meant it. I could feel my heart pumping in my chest and wondered if you could see the pulse in my neck beating. I hated that. It made me want to vomit when I saw it in others.

Joe, on paper (well on screen) was perfect. Witty, quick to come up with a jovial retort. A good writer. Liked to keep fit. Liked travelling. The photo of him sitting at a table, not unpleasant. After a few days of chatting back and forth, I agreed to meet him, my first attempt at online dating.

As I walked towards the cafe, I was regretting my decision to make my online avatar’s name Ruby Red Shoes which necessitated the the wearing of red CFM shoes. At 11:30PM on a Friday night with a few wines under the belt, it had seemed like a splendid name. Now, in the cold hard light of day, it was just a tad undignified. As I scanned the cafe from the distance I couldn’t see an Adonis. No choirs of angels singing. No nicely matured George Clooney clone drinking Nespresso.

From 200 metres away, I saw a man dressed in black jeans and a black T-shirt with a camera. (The agreed identifying sign). It was clear he was taking photos of me. At 100 metres I could see he was slim and that his black hair and beard was peppered with grey. Not bad – I could get used to that. At 50 metres, it became apparent that he had no bum. Worse – he had a hyena bum. Sloping forward and disappearing into the skinny black jeans.

Could I turn around and walk away now?

We stood there awkward for a moment.

“You must be Joe?” I blurted, holding out my hand in a pre-emptive strike to avoid the kiss. No way was I going to offer my cheek for the perfunctory peck!

Not for a hyena bum!

It turns out he had done this many times. He was very candid. His polished responses to my online introductions a cut and paste from his many other attempts, not especially crafted for me.

He had been married, that was OK. So had I

He had adult children, That was OK so did I.

He had a hyena bum and that was the deal breaker .

We had coffee, talked about his camera and photography. We had a few laughs but as soon as we stood up to go for a stroll along the waterfront I was reminded of the hyena bum. As an older woman, I no longer cut the dashing figure I once did, so perhaps my shallowness was self-defeating and vain. He was probably thinking “Ewww! Look at her chicken neck!” I didn’t care. Alone – yes, desperate – no!

I had not prearranged a rescue call so needed to extract myself independently. He beat me to it.

“I have to get going – I am working nights.” he said at a lull in the conversation and after an exaggerated look at his watch.

“Thank god!” I thought. “I gotta go too” I said and again I rued the wearing of the red shoes which slowed my departure.

Back in my car tapping my forehead on the steering wheel, I realised I had not asked him to delete the photos. I grabbed my phone and logged into the dating site and pushed the “Close my account” button. Once was enough, my first attempt at online dating would be my last. I’d hang up the red shoes for a while longer. I wasn’t ready for the dating jungle if it was infested with hyena bums!

Food photography is a crock of shit!


I work full time. I have a good job and can pay my bills even though I am in debt. I am divorced and have a big mortgage.  I don’t want to work forever.

Woe is me: First World Problem Number 1: I could choose not to work. I have a roof over my head and I have a cupboard and refrigerator (over) full with nutritious food.

Over the last year, I have been planning my life more deliberately. Looking for side hustles so I can quit my job sooner rather than later. At the same time, I am looking to reduce my impact on the planet and use less stuff.

Woe is me: First World Problem Number 2: I have some agency over my own life. I can make choices about how I will spend my time. I can choose whether I consume or not.

This one’s a bit blurry I know but the concept is good!

Over the last few years I have developed some photography skills and I think this could be one of the ways I can achieve my goals.  One of my other interests is cooking and nutrition. I can see myself writing some freelance articles for magazines about healthy eating, maintaining good mental health through a diverse gut biome and uploading sumptuous shots of various lentil dishes to Instagram. So, to this end, I bought an online food photography course to get the professional lowdown.

Woe is me: Third World Problem Number 3: I have skills, I am educated. I can read and write. I have access to fast internet and (un)social media.


Right now, I am feeling angry with myself and the developed world. Why? As I was watching the video lessons on food photography and saw the well-fed, well-dressed photographer with her huge Canon camera and  even bigger lens fuss about the styling of a wooden board loaded up with citrus fruit, my hackles began to rise.

‘I think the white pith on the pomegranate is too much.’ she said

Stylist removes white pith and balances the corners of the board as the photographer pulls faces.

‘I am looking for more tension in the plate.’

Tension? WTF! Oranges are not tense!

She flips over some peel to show the coloured side rather than the pith. Oh! Yes!  That’s so much more tense!

‘Have you got a crustier plate – I want it to look gnarly and poor…

Props boy scurries for a gnarlier board.

There were at least 8 people on set. Camera crew, food stylists, go-fers plus the “audience” which is supposed to give it a live classroom feel.


I had to hit the stop. I was sitting there swearing at the computer.

‘Of for fuck’s sake you wanker. Just show me how to light the shot!’ I shouted.

I paused a little longer and felt overwhelmed by my luck.  I had been kicked in the head with a huge dose of reality. I can afford to photograph food when around 20% of the global population is undernourished.

What a futile enterprise. As I sit here and write this post for my blog, the irony is not lost.


What to do?


I can’t solve the world’s problems. One little me?  I could hide back in my cocoon of privilege and drink my wine as I get angrier and angrier. Or… I could do something… What?


I will think on that a while…hang on while I pour myself another wine and check my Facebook feed.  I need to do some research.

Woe is me: First World Problem Number 4: Feeling like I have no part to play. Where is my power now?