Saturday, December 29, 2007

Social times

On Boxing Day, P. and I went to Noel T.'s place for 'supper' with his friend Tony. Noel is looking a lot better having ditched a few pills and replacing them with 'natural' therapy. He, as usual, cooked a delicious dinner with a very wicked chocolate pudding which would have done nothing for the chlorestorol. He didn't have any, or not while we were there.

Next day, I went to the doctor. My chlorestorol was not TOO high so I avoided pills and will try diet for about six weeks. I arrived home to find Sally S. having a coffee with P., then Bryony and her mother, Freda, turned up and we trundled over to the Convent to have lunch at Lentil as Anything. Very nice.

P. has between Christmas and New Year off, so on Friday, we went to the British Art 1900-1960 at the National Gallery of Victoria. It was a very impressive exhibition, though didn't persuade that British art of the period was all that good. Some of the best pics were by ex-pats like Stella Bowen.

After Saturday shopping in the air-conditioned comfort of Victoria Gardens, we brunched in similar in Clifton Hill, then went to Jan McKemmish's funeral in Richmond, very much un-airconditioned. It was a moving secular service though, with family and friends giving tributes and with tribal musical interludes. It is very hot, though P. is bravely doing a roast pork tonight (bought before the chlorestorol regime) and Frank is coming for dinner.

Lesley and Michael are coming in the morning, with maybe Louise, I hope, for brekkie.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Yuletide (whatever that means)

Still busily reading the art biography and tidying up other bits and pieces to a successful semi-resolution by Christmas Eve. Things are not as chronically busy as I thought, yet. With any luck, the balancing act will work, with things arriving in the right order at the right time. On the other hand...

Frank came for dinner on Friday night, which was a superior kind of leftovers but delicious. I tried a new recipe for chicken and corn soup from David Herbert's cookbook and it worked a treat. After almost normal shopping on Saturday (Frank was working), we met Lorraine for lunch at The Commoner. It is now very popular, so we brunched in the courtyard. A light shower dampened proceedings but the food was great. Otherwise a very quiet weekend.

Dad picked up P. and I for Christmas lunch at my sister's place in Dandenong. We did our usual each-bring-a-course routine. We brought pepper pate and rustic mushroom pate (the first shop-bought, the second homemade). Brother-in-law Ian did his usual magic with the turkey main course, with a mountain of vegetables, and father's Christmas pud. was delicious. A snooze in the living room followed.

Home again briefly, then off to Frank's for Chrissie drinks with David and Lorraine. The festive day passed without any angst and a great deal of pleasure.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

All Over the Place

This week has been spent in a wide geographic spread, though most of it has happened in the frontroom office. Finishing touches on A Remote Possibility (set mainly in Alice Springs) are flashing to and from Sorrento to here and will be finished tomorrow, I hope. Sigh! It seems to get more and more remote. The reports on subjects in Broome and Ballarat are in progress, and I've started reading the art biography which is huge and set in Cottles Bridge (mainly). Whatever turns up next will have to be set in D...

On Tuesday, off to Camberwell, to the archive boxes and a very chatty lunch with Jessica and Louise (fellow researchers) at the coffee shop nextdoor to Penguin. Some concerted work on writing up the research will have to happen very soon. I am having difficulty getting the tone right.

Meanwhile, thunderstorms are raging outside. It is very good having such huge, almost tropical, downpours, so long as the house doesn't leak.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Culture AND communications

On Thursday, I went to the Culture and Communications Christmas party at Melbourne University. Well, it was the only Christmas party I was eligible to go to, so I thought I'd better try it. It was on the lawns near the Arts building, and was a nice spread. Only problem was, I thought I'd see Justin there, about George's novel which he's publishing, but was told he is in L.A. Some people have it tough. There were others there I knew, but I left after an hour, before the academic stoushes started. Enuf Christmas already!

Meanwhile, it has been heads down proofing the final version of A Remote Possibility, while a couple of things for report have turned up, one from Broome and another from Ballarat. They are a bit of concentrated reading before the Art Biography turns up, probably around Tuesday. all 200,000 words of it. The Broome manuscript has stirred up memories, of course, most of them pleasant, though a few not. One way or another, I'll be fairly busy over the Christmas/New Year period, though with quite pleasant things to do. It will be a bit of a juggling act.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Memorials and Meanjin

As well as working away on George P.'s novel, on Monday I went to a memorial 'to Trevor Glover's Australian life'. Trevor was the MD of Penguin Australia for much of the time I was working there and was a very decent bloke. A not-very-large crowd turned up to the Pumphouse in Fitzroy and I was very pleased to see Brian Johns who came down from Sydney for the occasion. There was the obligatory power-point of pictures and numerous speeches, all very warm.

On Tuesday, I followed up with a good session at the Penguin archives with Jessica and Louise. We had a good mag as well as getting through some archive boxes. Today, I'm off to Footiscray to see George P. about the novel.

In this morning's emails, the news came through that the Meanjin future has been announced by Vice-chancellorial press release: it is to become part of Melbourne University Publishing. The only sop to dissenters to this action was that a statement of editorial independence has to be drafted by the departing Meanjin board of directors before we are dissolved, wound up or otherwise duly executed. It is a sad end to a very good period of Ian Britain's editorship, and could have been resolved much more gracefully, with less angst all round, simply by postponing any change until his term reached a natural end.

It has been a useful lesson in what happens when you oppose the 'big end of town', even when it is very parish pump. However Pollyanna it might be, I'm a great believer in karma.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Notes and references

Uncle Frank's mega-funeral had lots of people and all the bells and whistles, including an audio-visual display, the laying of roses on the coffin and a Masonic ritual, finishing with the placing of the coffin on a firetruck (Frank was a President of the Firefighters' Union). I wondered whether it was all meant to conclude with a Brunnhilde-like immolation, but it all finished, somewhat tamely, with sangos and party pies in the church hall, fortunately commodious. My sister and I were very grateful that our Mother decided to eschew such ceremony. However, it was all a fitting tribute to Frank's very sociable and charitable life.

The rest of the weekend, apart from the market and shopping, has been spent on the footnotes and references for A Remote Possibility which have now gone back to the author, I hope in better repair. With any luck, this stage will be wrapped up by the end of the week and it can all go to the designer. Fingers crossed. While I wait for it to come back again, it's on with George Papaellinas' The Trip, a romp through Arfstralian history via a Greek migrant called Odysseus. It is very funny: some sections are reminiscent of 1066 and all that, Aussie-style. You come up with a start when, after Oddy has been in South Africa with 'Breaker' Morant, he has an affair with Daisy Bates, but then you remember...

Tonight, we're off to Frank P.'s for pizza dinner and some teev. It will be a relief after all these footnotes.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Crayfish extravaganza

It's been a week of head down in a mass of Imparja footnotes, so tonight P. and I had a real indulgence: we headed off to the Terminus Hotel in Victoria Street for their advertised crayfish special. It was well worth it: Asian-style King Island cray in its shell, with Asian entrees for starters. P.'s wasabi with his tuna and prawns was very good for the sinuses. Luscious desserts rounded off a very delicious meal. We will certainly return, though only when cashed up.

Meanwhile, Pierre had made potaje, Spanish-style with lentils and chorizos. It has lasted for three meals so far, and is very tasty with lots of spices to hold the interest.

Tomorrow is a short break from everything for Uncle Frank's funeral as they say, 'after a long battle with cancer'. It will be very sad, as he was a great man in many ways, a fine community activist and the first recipient of an Australian honour from Broadmeadows. Vale.

Then back to the footnotes, all 800 of them.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Old culture, new culture and la deluge

After the shopping on Saturday, P. and I went to a book launch in Brunswick of a graphic novel, Rooftops by Mandy Ord. It is published by 'my' publisher, Finlay Lloyd of Braidwood, and was launched in the very steamy upstairs room at Brunswick Bound bookshop in Sydney Road. They had a very nice afternoon tea spread (lamingtons, slices, scones, cake but no iced VoVos) and very enthusiastic launch speeches. The novel is good, a kind of existential romp on coincidence, a lowkey version of Hitchcock's Family Plot. It is very comforting seeing Melbourne landmarks in a graphic novel.

Post crossword on Sunday, we had a very good lunch at The Commoner in Johnston St, near Brunswick Street (as recommended in Sophie Cunningham's blog), then went round the corner to St Mark's Fitzroy for the last Gloriana concert of the year. After three 15th and 16th century works, the highlights were an Ave Maria by Holst and a Magnificat by John Tavener (fairly modern, only 20 years old). After interval, Britten's A Boy Was Born was creditably performed, though I liked the Holst and Tavener better. It was an excellent concert, on a stinker of a hot day, though it was reasonably cool in the church. I hope it's as close to Christmas as I get.

On Monday, a mammoth trek to Sorrento to see Wendy, the Imparja author, who still can't drive. It is 226km return, and Phoebe performed well, in spite of having to combat deluge weather conditions on the way back. We had a good meeting in the ti-tree ambience of Wendy's lovely, Indonesian-decorated house, though the drive was a bit exhausting. Very nice Sorrenno cakes for morning tea and a yummy lunch made it very pleasant. The local cake shop has Prue and Trude staffing but very superior pus sandwiches. They were delicious.

I've started work on George P.'s novel, which I had seen in draft, and it's looking like fun.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Social interludes

Most of the week was spent working hard on A Remote Possibility to try to meet the impossible deadline. The author and I are getting close, but will be about a week late.

In between times, we had an enjoyable dinner with Noel T., who was briefly back in Melbourne, and I had a very pleasant old Penguinis dinner at the local pub. We are now averaging about 10 at these dinners, and the pub turned out to be a good venue with a fairly squashy table, which made it possible to talk easily.

Yesterday, we had a research team meeting at the Penguin offices in Camberwell which made a deal of progress with planning for publications from the research and a mini-conference late next year. We also looked at directions for the research for next year.

Things don't look like letting up for me over the Christmas period: I've started on George P.'s novel. In mid December, the biography will turn up for reading.