Checkout this ratbag’s rules for life

Day 13: In our 31 days of book extracts this one stands out from the rest. Nat’s What I Reckon dishes up his very personal brand of self-help in Uncook Yourself, A Ratbag’s Rules for Life. During lockdown Nat got people cooking with his hilarious recipe videos that went viral. Known as a content creator, comedian, rock musician, iso cooking champion and mental health ambassador Nat has a lot to say and people like what they hear with his videas clocking up more than 100 million views.

A Ratbag’s Rules for Life by Nat’s What I Reckon

Seek and Destroy Normalcy

‘Normal is a cycle on a washing machine’ is something my dad always told me. It’s an important life lesson I soaked up when I was a young fella. I agree with him: being normal sounds bloody boring.

It’s a funny thing, trying to be normal, as if it protects you from looking too strange. It’s a safe place to leave your hat. But toeing the company line and ‘doing what you’re supposed to’ isn’t for everyone. Who even makes those rules, anyway?

I’ve never been normal. Normal is a strange thing. I find things that fit into a ‘normal’ bracket kinda weird. It seems like a space where creativity goes to die, some strange precious pocket of mundane. I’ve been surrounded by everything except ‘normal’ my whole life. Even when things have tried to be normal, they’ve ended up just being weird.

I guess ‘normalcy’ for me represents society’s unspoken rules about what’s ‘expected’ of you. I don’t subscribe to most of that shit. Not everyone wants the same things – if they did life would be boring as f***. All sorts of pressures and timelines are pushed on people by society, and that in itself is weird to me. I think the idea of everyone’s lives running parallel to each other – of everyone having kids and getting married and buying houses around the same time in their lives – is a bit f***** scary. Let’s get it straight: those things are awesome, but doing it just ‘because you’re supposed to’ doesn’t sit right with me. If you want all that stuff, bloody go for it – you’ll nail it. But do it your way. F*** it, do what you want. If you’re at all like me and wired a little differently, that shit doesn’t really work for you.

And you need to know that sometimes being normal is super weird, and sometimes being super weird is totally normal and that’s actually pretty great.

Embrace your inner Greenfrog

There’s nothing regular or rational about life, as far as I’ve experienced it. I’ve been surrounded by anything but. Especially with relatives. I’ve got some f***** weird relatives. I mean, I know we all have, but I bet mine are weirder than yours. My late grandfather, my mum’s father, is a champagne example. He was a bit of a lunatic, and I can relate to that in a lot of ways. I definitely inherited some of his crazy energy. He was probably the first real comedian I ever met, though I don’t know if he knew he was a comedian . . . an offstage kind, at least.

Everyone called him ‘Grandad Greenfrog’ or ‘Custard Frog’. I’m sure he earned that name because at some stage he’d answered ‘custard frog’ to something someone asked him. He used to pretend that he couldn’t understand what you were saying and would rattle off a random bunch of words, pretending that’s what he’d heard instead. He had this kind of self-diagnosed industrial deafness from being a fitter machinist in the coalmines as a younger man. Look, I’m sure he did have some level of hearing damage, but he really loved to turn it up in the name of a laugh. You could say, ‘Pa, you wanna cup of tea?’ And he would reply, ‘What? Orange juice?’ Or you’d ask him, ‘Hey, what are you watching?’ and you could bet he’d come back with something like, ‘Milk mower? What’s a milk mower?’ So Green/Custard Frog it was, and I think he even went by Custard Head sometimes, and that’s what we all called him growing up. His real name was actually Lawrence.

Greenfrog was wildly eccentric, but that was one of the best things about him. Everyone in the family has some Greenfrog stories. He was staying with my parents for a while before I was born and all the stories they’ve told me about him have me rolling on the floor laughing. I have my own memories of him too and all of them are pretty fucken funny and ridiculous.

One of the stories is about how he used to have a sleep disorder of some sort, so he’d kind of come in and out of conversations at the kitchen table, falling asleep intermittently while telling a yarn. He’d have a little nap and then wake up an hour and a half later and kick straight back off where he’d left things, not worried at all that by then everyone else was miles away from that part of the conversation. He didn’t really have a great concept of time, Dad tells me. It wouldn’t be surprising to hear him angle-grinding at 3.30 am in the garage. Dad would have to go out and tell him to shut up, and Custard Frog would be completely confused as to what the big problem was, while angle-grinding something with an angle grinder he’d made out of four other angle grinders.

Un-cook Yourself: A Ratbag’s Rules for Life by Nat’s What I Reckon, published by Penguin Random House was released on December 1, 2020, RRP $32.99


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