TONI LODGE is a comedian, author and podcaster. Her latest book, I Don’t Need Therapy is a hilarious memoir which exposes the lies Toni has told herself about who she is and what she is capable of. Read on for an extract.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Most of us tell little white lies all the time. Whether it’s ‘I’m five minutes away’ or ‘It must have gone to my spam folder’, most of these fibs are harmless. But what if you realised that you weren’t just lying about the little things, but the big ‘life’ stuff too?
When Toni Lodge sat down to write this memoir, she discovered that the lies she was telling herself were hiding some pretty important home truths-about her work, her identity and her mental health. Her dogged pursuit of these truths sent her on a brazen exploration of everything from gastro, fame and Twilight to funerals, the Dalai Lama and Brazilian waxes.
In this hilarious warm hug of a book, Toni exposes the lies she has told herself about who she is and what she is capable of, inviting you on a riotous romp that will make you laugh, cringe, cry and utterly rethink the truth behind the stories we tell ourselves.
I love change and thrive on the unexpected, part one
I’m a pretty well-adjusted person. When it comes to change, I’m not too bad. After years of therapy and lots of effort and brain-retraining, I have become pretty good at taking on new circumstances. But there were many years when I was not like that, and now, I know why.
My family were big fans of doing the same thing every year. We found a way that worked and then were like, ‘Why fix what’s not broken?’ and just kept on going with the same thing. And if we were thrust into a different place or experience and it went well, that was added to the list. My mum once won a radio competition on Mix94.5, where you had to call up and answer a question to win a holiday. I don’t remember the question, but the answer was Crocodile Dundee.
The prize was two nights away at a hotel called Caves House in Margaret River, the wine region of southern Western Australia. So Mum and Dad went down and enjoyed the weekend so much that they went to the same hotel on two more occasions.
While they were there, they went to the Happs Winery and really enjoyed a rosé called Fuchsia, so they bought heaps of bottles that gathered dust in the house, but still more were acquired in bulk on each trip.
They also went to the Margaret River Chocolate Factory and bought all four of us kids a bag of fancy chocolate each, which was SO exciting. I got a bag of cookies and cream chocolate, which is absolutely to die for. And each time they returned from Margaret River, I’d get my bag of cookies and cream chocolate. Because of this, every time I’ve had the opportunity to get myself some Margaret River Chocolate Factory chocolate, it’s always that exact same type. I’m sure the other chocolate they have is fab, but I couldn’t tell you! Except for their white, milk and dark chocolate chips, which I can tell you all about. When you walked through the front door, there were three MASSIVE hessian sacks filled with tiny chocolate chips, and you could ‘try’ as much as you wanted. I assume this is where Belinda
Carlisle was singing about in ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’.
After each visit, my dad said, ‘The surf was MASSIVE, Tone, you would have loved it!’, until, finally, Mum and Dad took us all down and we stayed at the Prevelly Caravan Park and surfed for a long weekend. And, of course, made a stop by the Happs Winery and the Margaret River Chocolate Factory.
We went to Broome every year. Every single July school holidays, we would drive 2068.2 kilometres, or 1285.1 miles, or 23 hours and eight minutes, to get to Broome.
Mum and Dad started this tradition with my siblings before I was around, and it didn’t stop until I was eighteen. So they drove all that way with three young kids, and then with three young kids and a BABY. There would always be a hanger-on too, like someone’s best friend or boyfriend or girlfriend. Sorry, but that’s not a fucking holiday for the adults involved, if you ask me.
But it was absolute magic.
Money was pretty tight the first year they went, but Mum and Dad were determined to create some memories, so they begged, borrowed and stole sleeping bags, camping chairs, hand reels for fishing, buckets and spades and fuel for the drive, and the family stayed in a caravan park chalet. They went to the beach and walked along the jetty and did other free things that families enjoy when on holiday, and the kids were allowed to get a Paddle Pop as a treat.
At the time, as I mentioned, things were pretty tight, but Mum and Dad’s taste was a bit boujie. On the way to the jetty each day for a walk and a try at fishing, they’d drive past this sign that said Fresh Prawns. Knowing they couldn’t afford it, they’d pass it by. Then, on the very last day of the holiday, they said, ‘Fuck it!’ and Dad drove in there and they ate a kilo of prawns for dinner.
I’ve been told this story thousands of times, and it always makes me smile.
When I came along, Mum and Dad were a bit comfier and the holidays to Broome had a major overhaul. They had bought their own camper trailer, so we didn’t have to stay in a chalet and we didn’t have to borrow camping chairs or sleeping bags. Dad would spend the weeks before the trip in the shed, getting everything organised. He’d be soldering new lights or new power points so we could charge iPods and phones and whatever else we had to have. When I wasn’t helping Dad, I’d be helping Mum go through the kitchen in the camper trailer, seeing what needed replacing and buying snacks and tinned food in case we got stuck somewhere.
There would always be this crazy buzz of excitement between all of us. I haven’t experienced a feeling like that since.
For the long drive up, we would get to eat junk food and play Game Boy, read trashy magazines and sing along to Dire Straits for two days straight. The person who was in the very back of the car would be on fridge duty for whenever Dad got hungry, and it was never allowed to be Hayley, because she’d sleep the whole way.
On those travelling days, we were allowed to drink cartons of chocolate milk, and Mum would cut up cubes of cheese and kabana for us to snack on, and these crackers called Cheds that are my dad’s favourite. She’d also always cook up a few kilos of honey soy chicken nibbles from the butcher and we’d snack on them cold.
Every road trip I’ve done since then has included cheese and kabana and Cheds – but I think it’s fair enough to skip the cold honey soy chicken nibbles (no offence, Mum).
On the second day of the drive, we’d run out of the pre-packed food. We would stop in at the BP in Port Hedland for fuel, and we were allowed to get those pre-prepared service station sandwiches in the plastic triangle containers. I would get so excited about those triangle sandwiches, as if I’d never eaten before in my life and this was fine dining. I have no idea why. You know the song ‘The Teddy Bears Picnic’? I’d sing ‘Today’s the day the Lodges get their saaaaandwiches!’ which is incredibly cute and adorable.
On that second afternoon of the road trip, we’d stop at a service station called Sandfire Roadhouse in Eighty Mile Beach (which is actually 85 miles long), where Dad would fuel up again and we were allowed to get an ice-cream. The main inhabitants of Sandfire Roadhouse, aside from the people, are peacocks. I don’t know where they come from or why they’re there. Maybe they love beaches that are named the wrong thing? But there are just HEAPS of peacocks.
They’d stalk us around corners and they’d even be in the toilet. It was so creepy, but I guess that’s the good thing about doing the EXACT SAME THING every year – you’re never surprised by a peacock trying to spook you while you’re having a wee.
We’d get to Broome that afternoon, find a spot in the caravan park and set up our site. We had the coolest set-up, and it was so fun creating our little home for the next two weeks. Then, Mum would take us all up to the toilet and shower block so we knew how to get there in the event of a late-night wee in the dark, and Dad would set up the barbecue.
Every year, we’d do the same activities, like visit the Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park, watch a film at the Sun Pictures outdoor cinema, visit the Courthouse Markets and eat hot cinnamon donuts, have lunch at The Roey, play minigolf at the course outside the caravan park convenience store, get an ice-cream from the ice-creamery, play cards and Balderdash, visit the Broome Gaol and surf every day. Why fix what’s not broken? (A lot of very niche Broome-based references in there. Shout out to anyone reading this who knows what I’m talking about, i.e. my siblings and any friends or boyfriends who got dragged along on a Lodge Broome Adventure.)
As I got older, other kids from school would go to the Gold Coast or Bali for their family holidays and I was jealous we weren’t going on a plane too – or even going to new places – but I was torn because I absolutely adored our two weeks in Broome every year. Some of my favourite memories are of us up there.
My dad isn’t a big fan of flying. I remember asking Mum and Dad if we could go on a family holiday on a plane, like the other kids, and Dad said, ‘Toni, if we could drive there, we’d have been everywhere already!’
You could argue that technically, you could drive from Perth to the Gold Coast, but it would be awful. You could also argue that there are more places within driving distance from Perth than Broome, but let’s not get caught up in the finer details.
The point is that the Lodge family believes in Tradition. The same birthday traditions, same Christmas traditions and same holidays every year. Every. Single. Year.
Not that we were boring. My mum was a massive fan of travel- ling and exploring! She loved to get out of the house and she’d take the chance whenever she got it. So much so that another popular family holiday destination was Myuma.
Never heard of it? That’s because it was our fucking backyard. One long weekend, Mum and Dad decided we’d go on a little getaway so, assuming we wouldn’t be able to get a booking at Prevelly Caravan Park, we dragged our camper trailer into the backyard and camped out. We weren’t allowed into the house except to use the toilet or the shower.
Forgot your Game Boy? Too bad. Didn’t remember to grab your book? See ya, book! It was a cutthroat system and it was so great.
This probably sounds quite tragic, but where does the family who hates change go on holiday? Their literal house.
My mum really did want to travel and see the world, though. But, like I said, my dad doesn’t like to fly. Then one day when I was fourteen, Mum said, ‘Fuck it’ and booked a trip to Europe for her and me.
I’d wanted to go to Paris since I was a little girl, growing up obsessed with the TV show, books and movies about Madeline, the gorgeous and brave, tiny-but-mighty orphan from Paris. I’d watch the show whenever it was on ABC Kids and daydream about the old house in Paris that was covered in vines, and imagine being rescued from the Seine by Genevieve the dog. I have gone to Book Week parades dressed in homemade Madeline costumes both as a youngster and an adult.
Fun fact: the sewing machine I have now was purchased the night before a last-minute Book Week parade we’d had when I worked at Jase & PJ. I’d handmade a Madeline costume, with darts in the dress and everything. My mum had taught me to sew and when I finished making that costume, I bawled my eyes out at the memories of Mum, and learning to thread a sewing machine, and watching Madeline together on the couch, finishing cross stitch and embroidery kits from Spotlight.
We flew from Perth to Singapore, then on to Heathrow. We spent five days in London, five days in Paris, then five days in Euro Disney, and wrapped up with three days in Singapore.
Mum and I saved up and bought ourselves the fanciest, Frenchest and most chic wool overcoats for our holiday to Europe, even though it wouldn’t actually be that cold when we were there. We went in July (don’t worry, we went to Broome beforehand!), in perfect time for a pretty gorgeous European summer.
In London, we stayed in this gorgeous hotel in South Kensington and got to walk in the sunshine to the Tube to go and do fun touristy things. The best thing was seeing my favourite musical of all time, The Phantom of the Opera, in the West End.
We went for coffee and ice-cream afterwards in a little corner café. It was like something out of a movie. I can still see us sitting there, laughing and talking about how amazing the show was and discussing my dreams of playing Christine Daaé because I would be able to sing AND dance the part – then the camera pans outwards and the credits roll on this amazing movie where a mother and daughter live happily ever after as best friends and nothing can come between them.
With broken hearts, we left London and travelled on the Eurostar to Paris. You know, that underwater train?! Heartbreak quickly turned to excitement about getting to Paris. Finally, after dreaming of baguettes and fromage, we were on our way.
I’m a pretty smart person, but from time to time, we all suffer a doofus moment. Mine was being upset that I couldn’t see the fish from the train. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to realise it was a concrete tunnel and wasn’t like when you go on the little conveyor belt through an aquarium.
But I took it in my stride and hopped off the train with my suitcase in one hand, my mum’s hand in the other and a massive smile on my face. Like weary travellers do, we arrived on the doorstep of the hotel, only to realise it didn’t quite look like it did on the website. The pictures might have been accurate at one point, but that was probably some years before.
‘Muuum, are we sure this is it?’ I asked, being the worry wart I am.
Mum reassured me that it would be fine. ‘Let’s just go in and check it out! I bet our room is great!’
We walked into the reception area, and this older woman simply said, ‘Nom?’ (‘Nom’ is French for ‘name’. I just googled that for dramatic effect.)
She explained what floor we were staying on and pointed to two coffee tables in a dingy corner of the room to show us that’s where our continental breakfast buffet would be each morning. Mum and I shot each other a raised eyebrow, and continued to the lift.
We got stuck in the lift, which was not a great start, and then walked over to a brown door with peeling paint. Mum opened the door, hoping it would be like the Ritz Carlton on the other side.
It was kind of like what you’d see on an American TV show, when they show the hideout motel of a drug dealer or murderer who’s on the run. Two mangy single beds and an old TV with a big back on it, one pillow on one bed and one towel on the other. Immediately, I started to panic and said we weren’t safe, before Mum stepped in to remind me this was an adventure, and said, ‘Let’s see if we can get some more pillows, hey?’
We pushed the two single beds together, snuggled through the night and lived to tell the tale.
Despite our shock at the reality of the hotel, it actually turned out to be in a great location, and the stress over the continental breakfast was completely unnecessary. With the freshest fruit, flakiest pastries, silkiest butter and creamiest cheese known to man in our tummies, we took on gay Paree!
We spent a few days pretending to be locals in our fancy French coats and eating at McDonald’s after visiting the Louvre because the restaurants nearby were all far too expensive. The chic coats made us feel so fancy, even though underneath we were wearing jeans and T-shirts that were probably Billabong or Roxy. But like I said, it was July in Paris – so it was sunny and gorgeous – and we ended up carrying these massive coats for more time than we actually spent wearing them.
On our third morning, we woke up, filled ourselves with pastries and cheese and got ready to see the Eiffel Tower. Of course, we’d seen it from far away, but this day we were going to climb the stairs and go all the way to the tippy-top!
As we were getting ready to go, Mum grabbed her coat. ‘Mum I don’t think we’ll need coats, hey?’ I said. ‘We’ve ended up carrying them every day and they’re so heavy!’
Mum looked at me, and always being afraid of being unprepared said, ‘Tone I don’t mind carrying them, I think we should wear them just in case!’
‘Nah, fuck that. It’s gonna be lovely and sunny, it’s fine, we don’t need them.’
Cut to the worst weather Paris has seen in 752 years. The Eiffel Tower was shut due to bad weather for the first time in 9000 years – while we were already halfway up!
I’ve never been so cold in my life. The wind felt like it was actually ripping through our skin, and I wanted to cry.
‘Mum I’m so sorry, we should have brought our coats! You were right!’ That’s just CATNIP to mums, isn’t it? You were right. She just laughed and laughed, and we hugged to try and share body heat as we hobbled all the way back down the steps. This one is one of the most special memories I have. Not only was I lucky enough to go to Europe with Mum when I was fourteen, I was also so proud to watch her take charge, wanting to travel and just doing it.
And until the day she died, no matter where we were going, she’d look at me with a smirk and say, ‘Do you reckon we need a coat?’