Thursday, November 30, 2006

The domestic and the G

On Wednesday, I toddled round to George P.'s place for a natter. As always, it is invigorating talking to George about various things, including the Helen Daniel research and literary/political topics in general. Helen and baby Tallulah were out and George seems in good spirits, especially having been to Borat the movie the day before. There's something about Cohen's naughtiness and George's which coincide.

This morning it was up early for the National Day of Action: whether it was a success depends on whether you're a glass half full or empty kind of person. There's little point in debating the finer points, but probably the small (if you can call 40 000 people small) attendance was partly due to the inherent intimidation of the IR legislation.

Afterwards, I came home while Pierre headed into town. A bit more work, which is falling a bit behind, and sitting there in piles, then off with my father to see my niece, Nyssa, who is recovering from a sex-change operation down in a private hospital in Balaclava. She is making a remarkable recovery in under a week: off drips and tomorrow, with any luck, off catheter. She will then be without any encumbrances of a medical kind. She was very cheerful, playing computer games and full of life. Everything seems very positive. She says that the worst pain was from the adhesive plasters being removed from the drip. I hope so.

Some more work came in on the email late this afternoon, so the next week or so will be very busy, nay frantic.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tina C.

I forgot (in the flurry of going away for the weekend) to post about Tina C., the show we saw on Friday night at the Fabulous Spiegeltent, outside the Arts Centre. Tina C. (from Tennessee) is a Country and Western celebrity singer with a subversive political bent. Some great one-liners include: "If you can't live without me, how come you weren't dead when we met?" or "Of course I want you for your body. My own mind is big enough for me." Her alternatives for Iraq were "Go big! Go hard! or Go Home! You choose, this is a democracy." Some great songs later (including "I became schizophrenic, so I could love you twice as much"), we emerged very amused. We had gone with some gals from P.'s work, who recommended it, and right they were.

(Tina C. is really UK actor, Christopher Green in a great performance)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Weekend away

After casting our votes in Collingwood for the State elections, we headed off in Richard the Wagon to Newstead, with brief stops at the Castlemaine market and supermarket for supplies. We arrived in time for lunch (Frank and David had been there for Friday night) and gobbled up David's superb bacon, cheese and egg tart. P. had purchased some cassoulet from Parisienne Pates in Lygon Street, so we had that for dinner with salad, followed by David's stewed apricots and cream.

The country was very dry, but the weather perfect, so we had a lazy weekend reading and sitting in the sun. On the way home, we stopped to see Ann de H. in Castlemaine, who seems to have spent a lot of time hobnobbing with bishops. A few work problems stewed around in my mind: we'll see if there can be a successful resolution to any of them this week.

Newstead cottage

 Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Researching all over the place

On Thursday, I met Ivor Indyk for a coffee in Carlton to discuss next year's research project. After about an hour's talking, we were picked up by Mark Davis who whisked us off to Penguin in Camberwell, where we had a fruitful meeting with Bob Sessions, followed by Indian lunch across the road (possibly as a precursor to all such research being contracted out to the sub-continent in the future). It was a very useful discussion, both about practical matters to do with data collection and more theoretical aspects of the study.

Then on Friday, I went off the Archives for a few hours with Helen Daniel's papers. As it turns out, the two things are not unrelated, we established in Thursday's discussion. Helen's role as literary networker, reviewer and columnist is of great relevance to literary activity in the late 80s and 90s at least. I've been amazed by the range of her correspondence with far more than the usual suspects in going through her papers. There are still about 9 boxes to go out of 36, but I expect I'll finish them before Christmas.

Off to Newstead this weekend for R&R before what is shaping up as a very busy week next week.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Week flashes by

On Monday morning, the Berlin novel turned up, right on schedule, with pristine revisions. I've promised to get that finished before Christmas, which shouldn't be a problem. Getting a title is still elusive for all parties: author, me and publisher.

Rochelle came round for lunch at the Convent Bakery on Monday. She's busily working on her new book, plus on a TV doco. about the ABC's 50 years in Victoria, to be screened in the Stateline slot on 8 December, so don't miss it. They are editing in the middle of the night which must be very wearing but she seems full of panache and energy.

Still finishing off the outline for the AIATSIS handbook and have a meeting today about the research project for next year. I did a rummage through my old boxes (some of them) and found some relevant material (old schedules, publishing programs, figures) and have been thinking about the best way to proceed. It will be interesting to get some discussion with colleagues today.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Party, party, party

After our usual shop, then long-overdue brunch at the Gypsy Bar, we joined Lorraine in the evening to head off to Bryony's 50th birthday party. A huge gathering of the Cosgrove clan, various friends (from as far as Washington) and professional colleagues enjoyed a very balmy evening, enlivened by performances by the Cosgrove Chorale in a G&S sendup, and the Hot Rock Trio (Philip, Em and Adam) in songs of 'praise' for Bryony. Lots of old friends were there: Morris and Helen, George and Lou, Kevin and Maureen and many others. Sister Hope made a late appearance, fresh from her triumph at Miss Lou-Lou's annual tap concert.

Great food, drink and convivial company made for a great evening.

Today, it's off to Montmorency for lunch en famille.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Memory lane

A visit on Thursday morning from John Rickard, historian, who is writing a history of St Mary's Anglican Church in North Melbourne. I was interviewed about my time at the church in the late 60s, early 70s, though many of my memories were dim and unreliable. I wish him luck with his task.

More memories at one of our regular old Penguins dinners, this time at the Himalayan Sherpa in Bridge Road. Good food and good company, at last a venue where you can hear each other properly.

A very disturbed day today with a Meanjin meeting and a visit to the archives to view some more Helen Daniel material. Not much to report on either except that Meanjin is in an excellent financial position and going from strength to strength. The present issue, which I am having trouble getting my hands on because P. has snaffled it, is on rock'n'roll and has sold out.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Horror! The Horror!

On Sunday night, we went round to Frank's place for a nice stirfry dinner with David G. and watched a UK TV series on DVD set in a hospital. A madcap romp with crazy characters (the woman from Black Books among others). It was amusing but not earthshatteringly good.

After a couple of days work, and a visit to Ear, Nose and Throat, who gave me another koala stamp and said 'Come back in four months', P. and I attended the Collingwood and Abbotsford Residents Association meeting at the Carringbush Hotel. After a good dinner, the meeting was mainly about a proposed development by INVESTA in Johnston Street. We went to find out about it, and it's a monster. Right on the street and HUGE, dwarfing everything around it, and blocking off the flat development behind it in Trenerry Crescent with offices. It spells greed, greed, greed and would create a very unhealthy precedent in Johnston Street for overshadowing and everything else bad.

The developers have already referred it to VCAT, but a Council report is still to come. Some effective agitation is called for or Johnston Street will become an annexe of the city with soulless office space (who wants it?) on a soulless street.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Town Hall tour

It was Farmers Market day yesterday, so Frank came round and we went down with the red jeep to get lots of greens, cheese and a venison roast. We now have to distinguish markets, because on the fourth Saturday, the Convent is trying a Slow Food market. I hope the smoked folk from Mt Beauty appear with their herbed scallops (scooped from the streams of the Victorian alps, no doubt).

Then off to pick up Phoebe and the usual shopping at Victoria Gardens. Frank provided Czech-style garlic soup for lunch, then P. and I went to the Town Hall tour by the Collingwood Historical Society. Round the house, and round the house and up the tower we went with excellent commentary from former mayors and the author of a biography of the architect who designed town halls in Maryborough, Daylesford, North Melbourne, Northcote and Fitzroy. He obviously had a good line in civic architecture. We even viewed the golden trowel used for the foundation stone, and a descendant of Langridge spoke of his forebear's contribution to civic life.

There were reminders of the good old days when Labor had all the seats on the Council, but still had a caucus meeting beforehand to decide how to vote. It now seems as absurd as it was then. Ex-mayor Jenny Backholer recalled the air thick with smoke at all meetings and the Council fridge being plundered for after-meeting drinks. No ghosts appeared, which is not surprising considering the very heavy attendance. The November annual CHS walk is unmissable and congratulations to all the organisers for the hard work in preparation. It is a pity that some of the grander rooms in the Town Hall have been subdivided into cubbyhole offices for the present staff.

Then off to David G.'s in Elwood for a scrumptious dinner including French olive and anchovy entree, braised neck chops with various additives (pine nuts, apple, beans) and finally a to-die-for lemon tart (Browns eat your heart out). Suitably replete, we bussed home to Abbotsford.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Head down...

It's been a fairly quiet week: Cup Day was mainly cleaning and cooking. As well, I've been working away on the handbook from the AIATSIS research project and a bit of work on a novel by A.Nauthor, which is nearly finished.

The roofing work was finished while I was in Alice Springs with a minimum of fuss, and now the backyard is back to normal with the herbs flourishing for the moment, until the insects and grubs get to them. The bank account on the other hand...

Last night, Frank came for roast pork dinner and showed us some of his and Tat's pics from their European trip, and I'm off to Montmorency this morning to visit the Olds. Temporarily at least, all's right with the world.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Dinner chez Noel

I was intending to have a quiet weekend, settling back into home, but of course there was the normal Saturday morning shopping with Phoebe the Yaris and Frank. Then P. revealed an invitation to dinner at Noel T.'s place with Lorraine as well, so off we went for a very pleasant evening. As Lorraine said this morning, you feel as though you lead a very dull life after an evening with Noel.

Then, just as I completed the Sunday crossword, Sally S. rang up inviting us to a picnic by the river, so she could have a break from study. We went off, just around the corner, to a spot infested with birds, for an enjoyable chat with ham, bread, cheese and pesto and a glass of wine. Just the kind of thing to prepare you for an arvo. sleep.

At least I've now tidied up the backlog of correspondence from my absence and am ready to get on with more serious industry.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Back from Mparntwe

After a very pleasurable little 'break', Qantas whizzed me back to Melbourne, where my Dad very kindly ferried me back from the airport.

It is nice to be home but I retain an affection for mad Old Alice Springs ("In Alice Springs, they only talk about AS": well, Berlin it is not, but it's full of interest). In the end, I didn't make it to Yuendumu as it would have involved driving up and back in two days, on my own, having to get back to catch a flight on the second day. Given the possible state of the roads, with some storms, it was not a sure proposition. Next time.

So as well as spending some time with IAD Press and the very friendly staff there, I spent a bit of time as a tourist: the Araluen Art Centre didn't disappoint with a superb collection of early Papunya Tula artists and a good video on the early days with Geoffrey Bardon and some of the first painters. It was a good contrast to the upmarket Papunya Tula gallery in the main drag of Alice Springs: all glass and white walls and highly finished artworks.

Also delightful as always were the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens: not your usual green oasis, but an arid garden with sections on different plant types and little shady shelters to rest in and contemplate the landscape. I spent three hours there wandering about and climbing the Annie Meyers Hill for the super panoramas of surrounding country. Peter Walsh also took me on a drive to see the Namatjira gums, now a little worse for wear, and I paid my respects at the cemetery to Albert and Olive.

Now back to work.