Tess Armstrong. Radio girl, talker, do-er.


ellekirsten asked
You visited Brautigan's home! Could you share the address with me? I sadly live all the way in Australia but one day I will visit San Francisco and see it myself. So jealous!

Hello! We’re from Aus too. Trying to remember the address and will let you know when I can :)

Camberwell- Top grade premiers 2013. After extra time and two penalty shoot out rounds the score was 8-7. 

Camberwell- Top grade premiers 2013. After extra time and two penalty shoot out rounds the score was 8-7. 

Melbourne heaven. At the Corner Hotel with Tim Rogers and Tex Perkins for Presentation night- an evening chat about all things AFL and music.

Melbourne heaven. At the Corner Hotel with Tim Rogers and Tex Perkins for Presentation night- an evening chat about all things AFL and music.

Compliment or Compli-not?

Can you take a compliment? I can’t. To be fair, my compli-radar has been a bit off ever since a girl at school teased me for ‘loving my family too much’ and in older years I still find it hard to detect if I’m being insulted or praised.

Here’s how my recent experience went for the lovely person who threw me a compliment:


Them- “Oh Tess you’re SUCH an old soul”

Tess- “Oh…wow, Ta.”

*** IN MY HEAD ***

Them- “Oh Tess, you’re SUCH an old soul”

 Oh that’s grea…. Hang on. Is that a good thing? Does she mean I’m adorbs like an old lady or that I’m BORING… and SMELLY?! Oh no… Does she know about the war book in my handbag? Do I have to say a vicious sounding swear to sound tough now?!? Did I just use the term “SAY A SWEAR”? Oh gosh I really am an old lady…. Do I need to go to more clubs? I just don’t know what to do with my hands when I’m dancing. Do I need more make up?!?!! BUT WHAT ABOUT MY SENSITIVE SKIN??! Do I need to raise the hem of this skirt from ankle to bum? FIDDLESTICKS.

Tess- “Oh, wow, Ta.”

Was it a compliment or a compli-NOT?! Usually we have ‘no offense, but…’ to alert us that a backhander is coming our way but not all compli-nots are easily identifiable.

I get called an old soul on a semi-regular basis. I’m starting to realise it’s probably an alright thing and I have sixty years to get REALLY good at. It could mean I have good morals and a classic style. It could also mean I get confused between Katsup and Ketchup and should be re-tested for a driver’s license.

I often wonder what gives it away. Is it the bingo guide on my wall from a lovely weekend playing lawn bowls and bingo being fed tea and cake to ‘fatten up” in Mallacoota? It is my tea sets? It is the crossword books? My patchwork quilts? Faux-fur sweaters? Not wanting to show too much skin in case my milky tones burn the retinas of strangers and cause inconvenience?

I began to realise I just can’t hack a compliment. If someone says I have beautiful eyes, I’ll wonder what’s wrong with my eyebrows. In desperation, I took the idea of compli-nots to the brains trust aka social media.

Soon I was warm with comfort and had made two miraculous discoveries

1)      Lots of people can’t hack compliments

2)      There are people in this world seriously deficient at giving them

Compli-nots ranged from being told you look ‘smart’, grown men being told they’re ‘cute’, girls being praised for their rare appetites, someone telling you they would NEVER wear what you wear, being told you’ve got a “small jaw that at least wouldn’t get in the way”, “you remind me of a crazy person”, being pretty for a single girl, being praised for the life lines aka visible wrinkles when you’re only 23 or being told you look/are JUST like that TV/Movie star you don’t find attractive or endearing in any way.

One lass at 17 was told by a teacher she would make the perfect Aryan woman. It was then followed up with a smile and the compli-not, “You have flat feet, child bearing hips and you don’t wear much jewellery.” So she’s a flat-footed, no-fuss, Nazi breeder. Awesome.

In the interest of living a happy life I’ve decided a new approach. STARTING RIGHT NOW.  Coming out of Melbourne Central Station the other week, I did what all paid-up users do and touched off my MYKI. Seems normal enough however according to a MYKI official who rushed to my side, I did it BETTER than everyone else.

He said my technique was perfect. I did it perfectly, guys. It was 10/10. I’m the ultimate myki toucher off-erer. I am flawless. I finally could make an Olympic team once MYKI-Touch-Offs become an official thing. Maybe I’ll get a star in LA. Will hard working Aussies get a public holiday in my honour?! Will they ask me to co-host a morning show?! Perhaps my people (that’s you) will encourage me to run for parliament and then I’ll be the PM and I can give benefits to other people who excel in everyday activities. Oh this life is going to be sweet.

*** IN MY HEAD***

 No offense, but… that’s not even good and yesterday you couldn’t get the thing to work and you had to ask for help and the people would have thought you were a bit special and then you talked heaps to try and make up for the inconvenience of asking for their help so if you even MADE the team you’d make it to the Olympics and the whole world would be watching and then you’d totally stuff it up and come home and be shamed and then your management would tell you to go on Dancing With The Stars and you would but then you’d lose because you can’t dance so you wouldn’t even make it and then you’d have to write a book about it and then the book wouldn’t sell because you’re not even a writer and everyone will just hate you… just go back to crosswords oldie.

Your very own Agony Auntie.

In March, I became an auntie to baby Louis for the first time. I had no idea of gender and still no idea who this little gorgeous gem will grow up to be but I do have plenty of time to be his person to go to.

So with that out of the way, we were hit with the news that in January my brother and his wife will have their first baby. No idea of gender but once again I cannot WAIT to be this little person’s person.

I wrote for Bon Vivant about my advice to my future nieces and nephews. I think it’s time to share again.

What to expect when you’re becoming an auntie.

It’s happening again. Pitter patters of tiny, soft feet. Stocking up on novelty baby gifts and a roller coaster of emotions. I’m gonna be an auntie- again! 

Now don’t scoff, being an auntie has a great deal of responsibilities. There are costumes for the babies I haven’t found yet, I have to practice walking around with watermelons so I’m allowed to hold them and most of all I have to start thinking about what to say when these grown-up babies come to me for advice. Should I suggest they learn about the world the way I did- by watching The Simpsons?

You see, I’ve never been great with kids. They’re erratic, unpredictable, they cry, they’re SO affected by hunger and once you get them talking you can’t ever shut them up. So they’re essentially… me.

Yet since this new baby will be one of us – “Armstrongs RULE” – I’m quite taken with it already, and before I know who this person will be I’ve decided to write some tips to surviving this crazy world in which we live in. That’s right, new little person; I am your very own Agony Aunt.

  • Fads – hard to keep up with and never cool for long. I don’t know what will be around for you but let me save you the trouble; You can NEVER untaste Coconut Water, leggings aren’t pants, Say No To Kardashians, don’t harm yourself to send a message to a boy band and most of all A MILLION LIKES ON FACEBOOK MEANS NOTHING.
  • In saying this, please do like some fads because they bring you endless laughter as a grown up. I once got corn rows in primary school, I signed my books Tess Hanson (assumed I’d marry Zac because we looked so much alike) and my Year 7 ID photo has me wearing board shorts, a Hawaiian shirt and a bucket hat. Priceless. 

  •  Brings me to my next point- learn to laugh at yourself. It’s the only way to get through awkward situations and painful memories (see: corn rows). In saying that, if Grandpa Paul ever tries to convince you he’ll pay you money to crack eggs on your head… don’t listen to him. Regardless of what everyone else in the family tells you, it wasn’t funny.

  • You’ll probably encounter bullies. At school, in sports teams, groups and work. They’re everywhere, these dickheads! Don’t spend any energy on them except a little feeling sorry for them. Rise above it and be clever – these battles can be won with the power of your mind. Alternatively, tell me if someone’s hassling you and I’ll finish my DeLorean, go back in time, change some key points in history and destroy their future. Easy!

  • Don’t stress about finding love interests. Some people just flow from one to the other. Nothing wrong with it as long as you’re content to be alone. Whoever you are – you’re awesome! Never forget it, and there are always other awesome people to meet and spend time with. Plus, as we know well if you’re single for a long time you can always turn to comedy.

  •  Avoid getting too caught up with famous people. Idolizing people you
    don’t know can be lame and bitterly disappointing. In wrestling terms this is when a Face (good guy) becomes a Heel (they suuuuuuuuck). It happens all the time. You’ll probably be disappointed down the track by someone but at least I’ve warned you. For a history lesson, Google these names – Lance Armstrong, Marion Jones, Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, Ben Cousins and uh, Sir Jimmy Savile.

  • Please, please don’t drive a Hummer. It’ll mean we can’t be friends, and I don’t want that.
  • Think about what you ENJOY doing and do it for a living. You live in a really good time where you have more options than ever before. Don’t be overwhelmed, NEVER settle and as Lisa Lionheart once said, “Believe in yourself and you can achieve anything!”

  • Read books, watch shows and movies, listen to music. It’s so nice to watch a scene that’s familiar, read words that sum up how you feel or listen to a song as though it was written for you. Art and music are about being open and honest and it helps you feel less alone. Embrace that. On the other hand, there’s Fifty Shades of Grey, Jersey Shore and Ke$ha… we’ll talk about those later.

  •  If someone on the internet sounds too good to be true, their ASL is probably 54, Male, from downtown Pervert-ville. Escape.

  •  Speaking of “The Internet”, here’s a few tips – no duck face, for serious LOLs go to answers.yahoo.com, remember who your Facebook friends are (aunties etc) before you upload, don’t passive aggressive people through statuses – just talk to them IRL (that’s cool internet speak for in real life) and of course… avoid cool internet speak.

There’ll be plenty more where that comes from, little one. I’m apologizing in advance for all the costumes and funny positions I put you in but you are coming into an awesome, funny family who will be absolutely in love with you and always there for you. At the same time, this gives us the right to dress you up as a lobster, a bear, a penguin, a taco…. your cousin Louis and the rest of us will see you in January. 

Tess Armstrong joins Dom to talk about the Boston bombings and the media’s responsibility to get their facts right, amidst a transitioning landscape. Also in this episode, gun control in America. Why Obama’s background check bill didn’t pass through the senate, and what it’s going to take to wake the US up.