Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rock concert for oldies

This week has been spent mainly on the memoir, as I'm waiting on comments from the publisher on the thriller. It has been a bit desultory, distracted by kidney problems, though I did manage a visit to the State Library to pick up a Margaret Scott quote to start the whole shebang off.

On Saturday, after normal shopping we left Frank who went to a birthday party and brunched in Brunswick Street. It was the weekly chance to look at the Hun newspaper, and I was shocked to see that the Liberal party fracas, which has been entertaining us for days, was relegated to PAGE NINE of The Hun, and restricted to a half page 'form guide' to the three contenders. We must be living in a parallel universe.

In the evening, we joined Lorraine for a quick meal at Cicciolino's, in St Kilda, which was pleasant, if a bit rushed. Thence to the Palais for the Nick Lowe/Ry Cooder concert. Who? I hear you ask if you are under 50. The audience was a bit grey, but it was an excellent and polished concert, nearly two hours (without the support act) by two old pros who know their stuff. However, an unforeseen consequence of the kidney problem is needing a toilet very frequently. Fortunately, we had good seats (in the sixth row) on the end of a row, so I could nick out when necessary. This would definitely be a big problem in Wagner, and perhaps even in Mozart. We'll see later this week at OzOpera's Cosi Fan Tutte.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dinner and tests

On Sunday, P. and I joined Bryony and Philip for a superb dinner chez Lorraine. Good wine, good talk and excellent food, including a delicious pea soup and a mouthwatering dessert. Thanks to Philip for the lift.

On Monday, I embarked on an excursion to the hospital to book my renal tests. The X-ray and nuclear medicine heart tests were booked and I was surprised to get the ECG on the spot in cardiology. At reception in cardiology I ran into Professor Becker from Nephrology. 'We can't keep meeting like this,' I said. He replied, 'People will start talking.' As I walked around the hospital and visited the JP to get some forms witnessed, I noted what a huge enterprise it is and how hard it must be to manage. The JP lives in a relic nineteenth-century boardroom in the bowels of the hospital which is a fossilised record of the past with honour boards and antique bookshelves.

After an exhausting morning trudging around the Royal Melbourne, I had no energy left for the projected visit to the State Library, so that will have to be another day. So back to the memoir.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Much lunching

On Friday, Barry D. dropped in so we went down to the farm for lunch. Barry is recovering from a heart problem, so even the short walk down to the farm was a bit difficult, but we had a good chat about life in general.

Frank returned on Friday night from the lap of luxury of business class, and on Saturday morning, we picked him up with Roz the Yaris and did the usual shopping. It was as if he'd hardly missed a beat (which being a good muso., he wouldn't). We had a yummy lunch in the courtyard at The Commoner. P. had the baked eggs with beans and smoked ham, and Frank and I both had the poached eggs with spinach. I also had one of their searing tomato juices with horseradish. He's coming around tonight for tea, so we'll hear more of his travels in England and Ireland.

Friday, November 20, 2009

More Marriner

Last night, P. and I had another excellent dinner at Chocolate Buddha, then trammed down to the Recital Centre for the second Neville Marriner concert, this time all English. Pieces by Ralph Vaughan Williams and William Walton were well played, and there was a world premiere of a clarinet concerto by Douglas Weiland. This impressive piece was supposed to be inspired by the Twin Towers terrorist attack, though it would be hard to tell without the program notes.

On Wednesday, a renal visit told me what I already knew, that my kidney function was deteriorating. I was given a battery of tests to find out whether I'm fit for a transplant, and P. was given an equally impressive set of forms to 'vet' him. He has to see a separate nephrologist, presumably to avoid conflict of interest. Meanwhile, we'll attend a couple of information sessions on dialysis, which is the other option.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Marriner music

On Friday, there was a bit of toing and froing with my father to the hospital up the hill in Kew where he had minor surgery on a tooth. This involved an anaesthetic so I took him and picked him up, but he seemed fine after a small rest and successfully drove home. The farmers' market and normal shopping on Saturday was followed by an excellent brunch at Madame Zsou Zsou's in Brunswick Street. The 'French' omelette with herbs and goats cheese was especially good.

On Sunday, P. and I went to Script in the new MTC building for lunch. The food was good, though, partly as they had a rush before the next-door concert, the service was a bit slack. We'll try again next time. The concert was conducted by Neville Marriner, consisting of Elgar's Introduction and Allegro, Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in A (with the conducter's son as soloist) and Jacqueline Porter singing Calvin Bowman's song cycle 'I would sing a little while'. The whole concert was spellbinding. Porter was especially good in the Bowman songs. There is another Marriner-fest on Thursday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rally after the event

Having spent a week on the history, the thriller and the essays (the history and the essays have gone back now), it was good to get out to a rally against removing the parallel importation ban on books. When I got there, I found that the government has decided to keep the status quo, so it turned into a victory rally at which various union luminaries spoke, the local member for Bendigo spoke (he is probably a lot safer now), plus author Shane Maloney and publisher Michael Heyward. It was good to be on the winning side for once. Also met up with Jason Steger of The Age and various folk from Penguin.

I rewarded myself for virtue by having brunch at the Treasury cafe.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Narrm Oration

Yesterday had an enjoyable coffee with Margaret G. at the Convent, long overdue. Then in the afternoon, went off to the launch of Murrup Barak [the spirit of Barak], the Melbourne Institute for Indigenous Development at Melbourne Uni. There was a good blues singer, Liz Cavanagh, in the foyer, though some of the worst biscuits I've ever seen with the tea, coffee and juice. Inside, a Wamba didge player was followed by the Welcome to Country and Maori Karanga, then the oration. There was a full academic procession with the chancellor and vice-chancellor in loads of bling. The oration was sensible but humdrum, rather than inspirational, and I left when the vice-chancellor started talking about 'the Melbourne model'.

Meanwhile, back at the office, I'm powering away on the essays, which are very entertaining, and have read the thriller which is inspiring.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Healesville Hotel

Deep and meaningful conversation over lunch at the Healesville hotel. Pic: Keren L.
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Kitchen Garden, Heide in the rain

Pic: Keren L.
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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Dom Dom Saddle

Pic: Peter
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The highlight of the visit to Heide on Friday was the Ern Malley exhibition, which showed the large impact of the hoax and the many ways it has been picked up, mainly in art. A big surprise was that there was a copy of the letter from Ethel Malley, Ern's fictitious sister, and she 'comes' from the same street which my daughter Kit lives in now, though not the same address.

On Saturday, we headed via Chateau Yering and Yarra Glen to Tarrawarra Art Museum, with an exhibition of Ben Quilty's work, which was (mostly) very impressive, plus some paintings from the permanent collection. We then went via the Black Spur to Narbethong, where we had a pleasant dinner and night at the Black Spur Inn, once the Narbethong Hotel. Though there were many signs proclaiming a foundation of 1863, not much from that date was in evidence, apart from the squeaky floors. The service and food, though, was a tout confort. Today, after a big breakfast, we went to the Healesville Sanctuary, which always manages to surprise, this time with a splendid frilled dragon, who ran up a tree and performed. We dropped Keren at the airport and headed home.