Friday, February 26, 2010

Music, music, music

Last night, Frank and I went down to South Melbourne for a quick meal at Wasabi, then joined by P. Off to the Australian National Academy of Music for their opening concert of the year, mainly Schumann and Kurtag. It was packed out and we barely got a seat. The whole concert, a mix of old and new (the Improvisation by Anthony Pateras was very fresh), was very satisfying.

Today, I'm starting work immediately on the autobiography, my third gay show business autobiography, and the second in what is becoming a sub-genre, Aboriginal gay show biz. tales. Who would have thought it? This one is fast-tracking so will have to be all over in a month. I've yet to speak with the author, but probably will on Monday after I've got a bit more under my belt.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Yesterday's visit to the renal surgeon was fruitful. They are certainly 'full-steam-ahead'. They've booked me in next Monday to peri-operative for assessment for a procedure to install a catheter for peritoneal dialysis. However, my nuclear medicine assessment for heart showed some faults, but an angiagram to assess the faults could damage my kidneys, requiring earlier dialysis. Catch-22. We'll see what happens. The truthful surgeon, when told I'd had an arterial insertion before my op. last year on my sinuses, said, 'That can be difficult and painful.' Don't I know it. She also said that while it is possible to do a peritoneal catheter under local, she doesn't recommend it. We'll see on Monday.

Last night, had a very pleasant dinner chez Frank (lasagne, and berries, not together). A new manuscript arrived, an autobiography, and I'll start reading that today.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lazy lunch

On Sunday, P. and I went to lunch chez Sally M. and Robert H. Other guests were Dick and Di F. and Jim D. It was a very pleasant and relaxing lunch with antipasto starters, smoked trout and cold roast beef with Robert's salads then meringue, berries and rockmelon for dessert. Dick and Di are just back from a time in Hong Kong, and their views on China and HK were interesting.

Back at the ranch, P. made a Stefano di Pieri fish dish for dinner: the fish with a kind of vinegar sauce. Today, I'm off to the Hospital to see the vampires before next week's renal appointment and to make my first foray with the renal surgeons.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wall of Sound

Last night, P., Frank and I went to The Damnation of Faust by Berlioz, a concert performance, the first offering for the year from Victorian Opera. A huge orchestra with four harps for the second half, many tympani and foundries of brass plus a large chorus made a lot of noise, all pleasant. Richard Gill as conductor obviously had a great time with the large forces. The whole piece is hugely silly: how come Faust burns in hell for rooting Marguerite, while she makes it to heaven after murdering her mother? It seems hardly fair. However, it is musically gloriously unfair. The soloists made a reasonable fist of it and the whole absurdity was easy to follow with surtitles.

We preceded it with a quick meal at Southbank and this morning did the Mall shopping plus brunch at Clifton Hill which was undistinguished but filling.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Okay, I know I write about little else. On Wednesday night, P., Lorraine and I went off to Noel T.'s for dinner: his famous watermelon salad, lasagne and poached fruit and icecream. Good company too. Then today I had lunch with Renata S. at Caballero in Smith Street. My baked eggs were excellent (with spinach, cheese and tomato). It was good to catch up on Renata's peripatetic life, spent between Melbourne and New York.

I've said goodbye to the couple of manuscripts for report, one interesting and excellent (the biography) and one a bit disappointing (the novel). Things are very quiet, leavened by the good news that Glenys Osborne's novel, Come Inside, has been shortlisted for the first book section of the Asia-Pacific division of the Commonwealth Writers Prize. That means there's still a long way to go to the finals, but it is welcome recognition of a very good book.

As part of our culture vulture program, I've added tickets to some of this years Opera Australia performances to the Victorian Opera ones. And the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra tickets have arrived. So that the nosh doesn't miss out, we've got tickets, with Frank, for the Hawkers' Market at the Victoria Market, part of the Victorian Food and Wine Festival. I hope we can get near the promised suckling pig.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Noel at Heide

Noel T. in the kitchen garden at Heide. Pic: Lorraine E.

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In the Heide kitchen garden

Bruce and Peter in the Heide garden. Note P.'s colour coordination. Pic: Lorraine E.
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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cafe Vue and Cubed

To continue a relentlessly arty weekend, this morning P. and I picked up Aggie the Wagon, plus Lorraine E. and Noel T. and went off to lunch at Cafe Vue at Heide. They have got their act together a bit better than our last visit, though still had trouble delivering the change from the bill in a reasonable time. The food was good but not exceptional and, apart from the bill, the service was good. It was reasonable value for money but not a culinary must. The tuna entry was delicious, the pork belly tasty but a bit on the dry side. Lorraine and Noel had the fish'n'chips which came with newspaper wrapped chips. P. had the prawns in foil entree, plus the crispy fish, which looked good, but again not really special.

Heide was good as usual, with the vegie garden looking a bit overgrown for the onset of winter. The cubism exhibition is a bit overwhelming: cubism seems defined as almost anything non-figurative, but there was an array of interesting pictures, videos and sculptures which after a while tended to blur into one. A case of too much, too little focused.


After a quiet Saturday morning at the market, the mall and yummy brunch at The Commoner, we went to the Wheeler Centre sponsored storytelling session at the Town Hall with Sally S. There were twelve well-known writers who each went for five minutes (more or less). The stories were mostly triumphs of the common place, but nonetheless effective for that. Dr Hugh of the RSPCA would have been flinching as Cate Kennedy shocked some of the audience with her tales of her grandpa killing cats, while Chris Tsiolkas was very moving in his account of the wringing of avian's necks. What could have been a disaster worked very well in a packed Town Hall and turned into a triumph of the spoken word.

Afterwards, we went to a tasty dinner at that Melbourne institution, Yamato, off Little Bourke Street. As we ate our Japanese delicacies, Chinese New Year exploded with firecrackers outside.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Museum menageries

Yesterday was P.'s rostered day off, so after I did a bit of work in the morning, we went off to the Victorian Museum. The main purpose was to see an exhibition called Menagerie, a touring exhibition from the Australian Museum of Indigenous sculptures of animals. They varied from the traditional dyed-reed depictions of stingrays to found objects from the tip reworked as kangaroos, ants and so on. The show was accompanied by a video of some of the artists making their sculptures. It finishes on 28 February and is well worth seeing. It was very well presented but continued a trend which is becoming tedious of underlighting, perhaps to create a mysterious air. Gloom is merely irritating.

Also irritating is a tendency in catalogues (the Swallow one at the NGV and the one for this exhibition) to reduce captions to a tiny type in an illegible colour. Designers please note that captions are there for a purpose: to be read. They might be an irritation for designers, but they are essential.

The museum has exhumed its taxidermied animal collection in a kind of round-up of animals from different regions of the world. This exhibition has an ingenious touch-screen captioning system (some of the animals or birds are too far away for printed captions). It is paradoxical that a collection of dead animals should be so lively, but it is fascinating and absorbing.

By way of compensation for all this dead wildlife, we went to the rainforest display and enjoyed the live wrens and bowerbirds frolicking in the trees and some frogs and lizards being less lively but still alive.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Quiet time at the desk

It's been very quiet in Abbotsford this week. I've got two manuscripts for assessment, one quite large (a biography) but interesting. The other is also a quasi-autobiography (Aboriginal subject plus co-writer) which is shorter but quite gripping. However, this has involved a lot of reading, so I'm holed up a bit like a wombat. I'm also waiting on a novel for assessment so the regime won't be letting up for another week at least. The author of the novel was told that I was a 'legend' by someone I don't think I've ever met. The opinion was certainly not based on direct experience, but it's probably easier to be a legend without any supporting evidence. That's probably the way that legends work.

Monday, February 08, 2010


After a fairly quiet weekend (mall shopping, brunch at Suede in Smith Street), today I went to the home dialysis centre in Parkville for my first 'briefing'. The demonstration was clear and accompanied by questions about my health and ability to cope with the peritoneal dialysis regime. I think I passed.

The whole procedure is fairly straightforward. Its major drawback is the time taken: about an hour per dialysis which must be done four times a day, on getting up, before going to bed and two other times, spread through the day. It is semi-portable, so you could take all that is necessary for a weekend away in the boot, but you'd have to allow time for the four dialyses.

It is possible after a month or two to be trained for the overnight dialysis (using a machine) but you still need to do one manual dialysis during the day. The major difficulty seems to be an awful lot of handwashing to keep everything sterile and avoid peritonitis (very nasty).

The major part of the training after insertion (surgical) of the necessary catheter is done at home, and the major disruption is finding somewhere in the house to store three months' worth of bags of fluid. I feel fairly confident about the support offered by the home dialysis unit, who were friendly and efficient. The thing which boggles me a bit is finding the time to do the four procedures each day.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

More medical

Off to the hospital again, this time to renal where I scored the associate professor, Eugenia. My kidney function continues to deteriorate, and my Caltrate pills have been upped to two per meal to keep my phosphates down. Also, I have to go next Monday to see a demo. of peritoneal dialysis, then in three weeks to the renal surgery to begin the process to make that happen. As well, my blood levels are down, so I have to have fortnightly injections of Aranesp (!!) to help with that. Then I had a session with the dietician. It seems that pre-dialysis I have to keep my protein levels DOWN (not too much dairy, chocolate), but that once I start dialysis I have to keep them UP (maybe with extra milkshakes). It took a wait of an hour and a half for the injections (they may only be obtained at the hospital) and they have to be kept in the fridge. Plus back to the normal renal clinic in four weeks. Do I sound over-medicalised?

In passing, the tests I had before Christmas showed that my blood is O-positive and my heart is not too good. I need an angiogram, but can't have that till I start dialysis as 'the dye could affect my kidneys'. Poor Eugenia said she was not having a good day (her mobile phone was going off gang-busters). Neither was I.

Now for the much more peaceful and soothing putting-on-of-the-roast for dinner. Sal and Father are coming. Happy Birthday to me, and thanks to all the good wishes from folk on Facebook and otherwise.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Attica in Ripponlea

Last night, Frank, Lorraine and I headed off in the train to the city to get a train to Ripponlea to meet P. from work for dinner at Attica, which on Tuesday night has the chef's table tasting menu. Unfortunately, when we tried to change at Flinders Street station, there was a long delay in a stifling, crowded train. After ten minutes, it was announced that the Traralgon train (which passed earlier) had been sent BY MISTAKE down the Sandringham line and had to be brought back. Hence the delay. We headed for the Carnegie tram outside the station, which deposited us in Glen Eira Road in short order.

The dinner was excellent. An almond, fig, pear and rosemary soup started, folowed by mouth-watering waygu with soy, garlic and clams. The prize for the evening in my book was the blue eye, horseradish, cucumber and octopus that followed. It was a subtle, taste sensation. Almost as good was the lamb with smoked goats milk, pea and mint . We finished with a modern version of apricot crumble with creme fraiche sorbet. As all the portions were small, it was a manageable and memorable meal. A very good early start to my birthday in two day's time.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Medical morning

After a quiet and relaxing Sunday, this morning I went to the Hospital to give blood to the kindly vampires before a renal visit later this week. I also popped into the Health Centre to replenish my pill supplies. I've said it before, but it's hard work being sick. By way of compensation for all this necessary but tedious activity, I got a couple of quiches (goat's cheese and onion) from Parisienne Pate in Lygon Street, and some blackberries to add to the raspberry icecream (in preparation).

Katrine at the Health Centre pharmacy commented on the blackberries and asked about icecream. When I mentioned cream, I realised that one of the pills I was getting was Lipitor for chlorestorol! Ho, hum.

I've just passed 8,000 words worth of memoir and think that that might be enough.