Thursday, February 28, 2008

Focus on art

The art biography continues to occupy most of my time, apart from the odd visit to the vampires at the Hospital to give blood and a consequent visit to the Renal Clinic where I got a koala stamp for everything except chlorestorol.

Frank came round for dinner on Tuesday, and P. worked his usual magic on the roast chook, and last night I joined Lorraine in a visit to Noel T.'s place for a good dinner and lots of chat about all sorts of things, including that dodo of a topic, marriage. We all recalled how in our late adolescence, marriage was just 'what you did'.

Tonight is the Melbourne launch for the Successful Aboriginal Organisations project. Let's hope that it does some good.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Culinary report

That newly-arrived denizen of the internet, who goes by the moniker 'Open-faced Tart' has pointed out the lack of food-related postings this week. There have been those who have commented on my obsession with food, to which I reply, 'What's wrong with that?'

The truth of the matter is that two meals this week consisted of leftovers, though of a superior quality, one venison ragout, the second coq au vin. Hardly slim pickings, one might say. The other highlight was a pork chop braise with apple, which P. took from David Herbert's More Perfect Recipes. It contains bacon, shallots, leeks, garlic, cider, chicken stock and, of course, grated apple, thyme and a bay leaf. It is delicious.

Meanwhile, Open-faced Tart was doing all right for herself at The Commoner and a new Spanish-themed eatery in Gertrude Street. Obviously, Bruce's blog will have to lift its act.

Today was Convent slow food day, so, as well as the usual bath milk, we've acquired some delicious pastrami (from Galloway beefs), trendy Tuscan cabbage and a tiny little Rack Off Lamb. Oh, and my favourite licorice icecream. So there!

Friday, February 22, 2008

A Little Archiving

Though most of this week was spent on the art biography, I wasn't completely satisfied with my findings in the Melbourne University Press archives, so I had another look, this time at the minutes of the board over a few years. It took two trips because the new restricted hours of the service mean slower deliveries. In other words, what I wanted hadn't arrived. When they did arrive, the old minutes were a testament to a past age; pasted into a minute book were typed minutes and roneoed financial statements, but, alas, not what I wanted. The board spent endless time discussing pilfering in the University Bookroom, but none at all on sales and printruns.

The publications sub-committee was interesting though. Very snooty attitude to authors like Michael Cannon, whose work received reports saying that it was solid history, but the committee preferred it to go to a commercial publisher, as it was 'not suitable for the Press'. How they justified publishing poetry but not fiction was never explained.

As well, two night in a row, I attended launches of books I had edited. Ouyang Yu's On the Smell of an Oily Rag, subtitled Speaking English, thinking Chinese and living Australian, was very well launched by Rodney Hall at Collected Works, the Hemensley eccentric and valuable bookshop in Swanston Street. The next night, Barry Hill did the honours for George Papaellinas' novel, The Trip, at the Brunswick Street Bookstore. George was very emotional. Unfortunately, the world will probably not take much notice of either book, in spite of their excellence, because they do not have a major publicity machine behind them. Fingers crossed.

A quite productive meeting today with the art biography author. We are making quite good progress and just might make our deadline.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Draft dodging

Not what you think. This morning I sent out a draft of the first research paper to my colleagues. Eight hours later there is no response. Perhaps they're busy. I just wanted to get it off my desk (actually my computer) and get some feedback before working on it again.

Yesterday, P. and I went off to Reading's in Carlton to cash in my birthday book vouchers. I splurged on The Comprehensive Times Atlas, a huge tome which should mean I never need another atlas. Useful as a reference, as well as helpful for the Sunday crossword. It is also good exercise as it is very large to pick up. We might need to purchase a magnifying glass for the very fine print.

Fine food continued last night. Frank and Sal came for dinner and P. had spent hours making a coq au vin from one of our new recipe books. It was superb, followed by canteloupe and icecream. Now, back to the art biography.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Good eating

Dinner at The Commoner turned out to be superb. The lamb potato cake recommended by Lorraine was delicious, as were the other main courses and entrees. This time we had room for the desserts and shared three which were sweet and tasty. We are having a return match there for the eatery's first birthday, which is a feast of smoked foods (cooked over their openair barbecue).

After the shopping on Saturday, we tried again to get into Birdman Eating for brunch in Gertrude Street, but it was packed out again. Some other time. We went across the road to the Builders' Arms, which was nearly empty. This was strange, as the food was excellent. My fish cakes were made of real fish (rather than mostly potato as they usually are). We sat in the sunny beer garden and enjoyed lunch. In the evening, we repaired to Frank's place for a Greek beef stew, followed by nectarines and icecream.

In other good news, Steven Conte's novel, The Zookeeper's War, which I worked on last year, has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize regional first book prize. The winners of the regions go into the grand final which is held in South Africa in May.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Immersed in Art

Most of this week has been spent on the art biography, including a very productive meeting with the author. It is a mammoth work. I'm not sure of the total word count, and won't be till we get to the end. But it is also very entertaining. We are making good progress and are in sight of making the deadline. It would be very nice to get the first stage of it (edited manuscript) finished before heading off to Queensland in mid-March.

A little side adventure involved checking the sales figures for Manning Clark's History of Australia (six volumes) for a friend in another state. After a few false steps, the Melbourne University Archives came up with the goods, and it was fascinating poring over the (irrelevant to the question) editorial files from MUP of old. Nothing much changes in publishing. Same old problems, same old stuffups. I'll have a final look at them next week, but I've got most of the information needed already. There's a great story of how Andrew Fabinyi saw a finished copy of one volume somehow before the great author did, and let him (perhaps maliciously) know. Explosions of outrage! Expressions of regret and mollification! Never happen again! Have a bound leather copy!

Tonight, Frank, P. and I are off to The Commoner for a return match for dinner. Lorraine went there last night and recommends the lamb potato cake. Hmm.

Monday, February 11, 2008


As I said to all participants yesterday (publisher, designer, author) at sign-off yesterday, 'Thank you umpires, thank you ballboys'. The last version of the laid-out text arrived at 3.28pm, just before I had to head off to drinks at the pub. It was very good timing. Now I just have to cross my fingers that it is more or less all right. Doing the index, even of names, from a standing start on Friday morning was no mean feat. Jill the publisher put in a prodigious amount of work as did the author and designer to get it there. Without the internet, we wouldn't have had a hope.

Drinks at the pub were very pleasant. Sally and P. had organised a small group of old friends, some of whom got lost in the wilds of Fitzroy, and we had a good mag, drink and delicious dips.

Now it's back full bore to the art biography which has suffered a bit from the distraction of A Remote Possibility.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mainly Indexing

We got a reprieve on A Remote Possibility. The deadline from the printer was extended to Sunday night, which was just as well as the index couldn't have been done in the time, even though it's only a name index. So most of the time in between shopping, eating and sleeping has been spent at the computer.

On Thursday night, the old Penguinis had a very pleasant dinner at The Commoner. They have reopened after a break with a new menu. My duck confit was splendid and the entrees were tasty, so no room was left for dessert. Next time. Peter was off on Friday but I had no time for playing. He made a delicious chicken and noodle soup for dinner to sustain me.

Today we're in the final stages of the book with PDFs of the text and corrections going back and forth. This arvo I've got birthday drinks organised by Sally and P. which will be a relief after all this work.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Frantic emailing

Dinner at Lorraine's was excellent as always and Noel T. continued his ability at oneormoreupmanship by saying that he has had gout for years. We had a very pleasant evening on the eve of the big 60.

Which was very quiet. P. had thoughtfully taken it off, but I spent most of it working as the emails flew between Alice Springs (where the publisher is), Sorrento (where the author is), Carlton (the designer) and Abbotsford (little me). We had a very enjoyable low key evening with just Frank and Vera Bolognese.

I squeezed in a visit on Tuesday to the Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic, where incredibly young Chinese surgeons peered at me, and pronounced everything fine. Back in six months. On Wednesday, I was very busy but managed a trip to the Melbourne Uni. archives to find that the box they had retrieved for me didn't contain what I wanted. They are investigating.

In the evening, P., Frank and I had a quick, cheap but delicious Thai dinner in Lygon Street, then went to the Welcome Stranger playlets at the Trades Hall. It was quite a good evening of theatre, though the Caryl Churchill play was a bit opaque at points. The second piece was hilarious: three female voices underlining ways in which to keep your child safe. 'Test for allergies every three days.'

The Imparja book, A Remote Possibility, is meant to go to the printer tomorrow, and we still haven't final pages on which to do the name index. Late night tonight, methinks.

Sunday, February 03, 2008


Again a busy week with toings and froings on the Imparja book which is due at the printers this Friday. We might just make it: all parties have been working away most of the weekend to make it possible.

As well, I had meetings with the author of the art biography and fellow researcher, Louise P., about the research project. And on Friday, Carmel B. dropped by with luncheon snacks for a natter.

By Thursday, my foot was feeling a bit sore, so I hoped it would go away. By Saturday, it was swollen and painful, so I headed for the Health Centre: 'gout', Dr Karen pronounced fairly quickly, and produced pills to fix it within a few days (she and I both hope). She says she can tell gout quickly as the sufferers always come either in slippers or thongs. She said that it is not the result of high living. One of the possible side effects of the pills is diarrhoea, so she airily suggested not booking onto any bus trips while taking them. The pills seem to be operating slowly but having some effect. We'll see in the next day or so, my right foot and I.

I managed in spite of limited mobility to pick up Phoebe for normal shopping (and the trip to the Health Centre) and on Sunday went with P., my father, sister and brother-in-law for a pleasant lunch at the Elephant and Wheelbarrow in St Kilda.

Tonight we're off to Lorraine's for dinner with Noel T.