Thursday, July 31, 2014

Scion at Huxtable

Tonight, P., Frank and I went to Huxtable in Smith Street for the tenth anniversary celebration (one of them) for Scion Wines in Rutherglen. A superb menu of two fish courses, followed by venison then a glorious dessert were accompanied by both old and new Scion wines including a 2004 Durif and a magnificent Melba Grand Muscat using as a base old Morris material. It was a splendid night to be remembered for a long time. Thanks Frank for organising it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


This morning I went off to the vampires at the Royal Melbourne Hospital as I have a nephrologist appointment next week. They were their usual efficient and relatively painless selves. However, it did take up two hours getting there, having the blood test and coming home which put a dent in what I could do. Also, our new, 'improved' bus service has deleted the special buses to Melbourne Uni. so the students all had to join the normal bus. The one I was on was packed full. There was no room at all, with lots standing, and at one stop the driver could not take on any more people. Thanks, Transport Minister Mulder. Tonight, off to Frank's place for beef pie (I think).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Continuo collective

I've been having a bit of computer trouble, but have now subscribed to Iyogi (close in name to my favourite cheap eat Yoyogi) which has fixed things online very efficiently and easily. It is cheaper and easier than getting a technician to visit though the Inglish of Suresh, Kuldeep and Vishab is less than perfect but quite comprehensible. Kuldeep has the surname 'Kumar'. I didn't ask whether he is related to those famous ones on TV. Last night, P. and I went to the Recital Centre to one of their small concerts (one hour) from the Local Heroes series. This one was the Collective Continuo joined by early music soprano Vivien Hamilton. It was of the work of Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger, a 17th century composer, and his probable alter ego, Ferdinando Valdambrini. It was a magical concert. The diminuendo at the end of one piece for theorbo (Samantha Cohen) and Baroque guitar (Geoffrey Morris) was breathtaking. Thanks to them and the Recital Centre. It was quite a good and appreciative audience in the Salon. Afterwards, P. produced quite a speedy roast lamb to catch a use-by date. Now back to the biography.

Monday, July 28, 2014

More open house and music

Yesterday morning, after starting the crossword, P. and I joined Frank to go to two more local Open House Melbourne venues. The first was an interesting historical one, the Collingwood United Masonic Temple, actually in Abbotsford. The overly welcoming Masons took us on a tour of the 'secret' meeting room. We didn't actually learn anything secret but it was interesting to see the inside of a building nearly a century old. Then we went to 25 Rokeby Street, Collingwood, the home of John Wardle Architects in a refurbished building. Their design studios contained models, videos and pictures of their excellent work including a beautiful Fairhaven house (very expensive no doubt) with views that would make you seasick. Then downstairs to the eatery Lemon, Middle and Orange (whatever that means) for an excellent brunch. P. and I then went to town to the Recital Centre to hear the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra perform Haydn's Farewell Symphony, plus works by Brescianello, Telemann, Corelli and a breathtaking Mozart Concerto for Bassoon, with Jack Schiller from the MSO. Home for fish and chips (yummy whiting from the market with beer batter and a try for oven-baked crisp potato chips).

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Circus and memorial

This morning, P., Frank and I went down to the Convent market and bought fish, cheese and milk, then P. and I went to the first of our Open House Melbourne visits to the new Circus Oz building in the old Collingwood Tech. complex. It is a purpose built building behind an old facade (not the one that faces onto Johnston Street, but off the carpark). The facilities for rehearsal and training look excellent as do the storage rooms and workrooms (for making costumes and props). Then Sally picked us up to take us (and Ann de Hugard from Castlemaine) off to Polly Pollock's where we joined Rennis for the annual Liz Kelly Memorial Lunch. It was a very pleasant arvo with far too much food (we each brought a 'plate') with lots of raucous chat and bemoaning of the state of the world, and especially Australian politics. Thanks Sal for the lift.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Into the Woods

Last night, P., Frank and I went to Fatto for a very good pre-theatre meal. These folk have got the formula very right for the almost-quick meal. I had seared tuna, then carpaccio of beef. Frank and P.'s pasta dishes were reckoned very tasty. Then off to the Playhouse for Sondheim's 'Into the Woods'. It was in almost every way an excellent production by Stuart Maunder. The only (very) slight flaw was some deficiencies in the vocal department (a bit strange in an opera company production but partly the result of casting musical-trained actrines). But this is a minor quibble in a wonderful overall experience. The set was in one way simple, but very effective.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dickins at Mario's

Last night, P. and I went to the launch of a very good Barry Dickins exhibition at Mario's in Brunswick Street. Kim Gyngel made a funny and moving launch speech and Barry responded. We caught up with some old acquaintances, Kevin Pearson, Bob Sessions, Louis Dickins and Alison Caddick. Then home for the leftover Beef Burgundy with couscous. Unconventional, but effective. There's more left for lunch.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Prints, choristers and good food

Yesterday, P. and I went to Melbourne University ('Dream On') for a talk on the exhibition by the Baillieu Library prints collection, 'Radicals, Slayers and Villains'. It includes works by the likes of Durer, Goya and Rembrandt. The talk was by Colin Holden, an eccentric enthusiast, who pointed out interesting artistic points in the works. He referred us to YouTube for the techniques shown in action. We lunched in the old Union Caf., now much more like a mall food hall. In the evening, we joined Frank for a meal at Blondie at the Recital Centre. I had the kangaroo tataki with their excellent chips. The others' food looked good too. Then, the Choir of Kings College Cambridge with songs across the centuries, including three 'new' Australian carols by Sculthorpe, Vine and Dean (Brett). The ecstatic review in today's 'Australian' says it all, perhaps a bit more enthusiastically than I would. The brilliant acoustic in the Recital Centre allowed a lot of distinction in the voices which would be fudged in a more forgiving church acoustic. The occasional lapse is forgivable in the middle of such brilliance.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Today, I went to the Club (RMH) and picked up some of the pills which I can only get there. The pharmacy at the Royal Melbourne moves at a glacial pace on the grounds that they have to check some 24 things before they can fill your prescription. In spite of this thoroughness, when the pharmacy delivered my pills an hour and twenty minutes later (this was relatively quick compared to some days), the woman who had told me earlier that since it was five months since I last filled the prescription it was okay to fill it again, gave me the repeat which expires within five months! Never mind, at least I don't have to bother for another five months. I then joined P. at the Nova for 'Calvary', a film by John Michael McDonagh. His family theatre background shows in this very good film which is not very cinematic, more like a filmed play with some gratuitous scenery thrown in. I won't spoil things by telling who is going to do it. We then went to D.O.C. for a very good lunch. No wonder it is crowded. My cheese and prosciutto platter was very tasty indeed and P.'s lasagne looked good. Frank came for dinner and we had P.'s very flavoursome beef burgundy (Stephanie version) followed by homemade icecream as well as Frank's very nice Scion durif/viogner mix.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Guys and Dolls and Dickins

Yesterday, we had a quiet day at home then went into Southbank and had a good meal at Blue Train. I had a non-PC craving for Balmain Bugs which I satisfied. They had good chickpea croquettes with a chilli bite and good desserts. Then we went to 'Guys and Dolls' put on by Jeannie Pratt's Production Company. It was most enjoyable with a decent-sized band from Orchestra Victoria and good performances all round. Good direction by Gale Edwards. Today, after the crossword, I made baked eggs for lunch which we shared with Barry Dickins who came to pick up his cartoons. He gave Peter and I one each which will find an honoured place on our walls.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Shopping and brunch

We did the usual shopping today at the Mall (no markets tomorrow) then brunched at Addict, a new place in Johnston Street, just west of Smith Street. Everything we had was very tasty indeed, Frank's shredded pork burger with chips, my mushroom, potato rosti, egg and onion and P.'s salmon, crumpet, eggs and spinach. Also, good friendly service. We'll be back for more.

At last, a meeting

After a false start in Woodend, I finally met the author of the biography at Backstreet Eating. We had a good yarn including about what to do now in terms of finding a suitable publisher. I'd better get to work on notes about the rest of the manuscript (I've done the first half). Off to do the shopping.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

More music from Syzygy

Last night, P. and I went to hear Syzygy at the Salon, Recital Centre. They performed a superb program with the work of Lerdahl (Time after Time), Ives (Sonata no 4 for violin and piano) and Brett Dean (Sextet: Old Kings in Exile). They were three impressive and very enjoyable works in a program devised with some intellectual substance. I've already booked tickets to their next concert in September. Afterwards, we dined at Optic, Peter Rowland's surprisingly good value eatery in the ACMI building, Federation Square. Then home for the Tour-de-France which we watched to the end hoping for a Simon Gerrans' stage win which didn't happen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Charlie's Country

Last night, P. and I went to an Oxfam screening of Rolf de Heer's film, 'Charlie's Country' featuring David Gulpilil. It is an excellent film which encapsulates many Indigenous dilemmas in this country. In order to do this, it inevitably becomes a little bit 'paint by numbers'. It is also a touch too slow. It is an hour and three-quarters and probably could easily lose a quarter of an hour, not much, but it would probably make all the difference. Afterwards, we went home for more fish pie, and there's still some left. Next time, I might make half quantities.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A bit fishy

Over the last few days, we have had a very 'fishy' time. First we lost the scallops (for garlic scallops) and white fish (for the fish pie). P. then found the packet lodged in a shopping bag on a chair under the table, but too late. By the time they were found they'd been out of the fridge for about four days. They weren't walking around the living room yet but they soon would have been. Instead of the garlic scallops on Saturday, we had the superb anchovies from Pope Joan's foodstore (we need more of them). On Sunday night, we had Noel's superb oysters and garlic prawns. On Monday, I got replacement white fish and made the somewhat labour-intensive fish pie. However, it turned out to be delicious and Frank joined us to help eat up the huge serve. It was a Gabriel Gateaux Tour-de-France recipe, but not French. It was from the north-of-England part of the Tour. We followed with another English Tour recipe, rhubarb and strawberry fool, another labour-intensive one but well worth it. Now, back to work on the Chinese short stories, then the biography (the stories are quite short short stories).

Monday, July 14, 2014

Final instalment of Varda and seafood at Noel's

On Sunday, after the crossword, P. and I went to town to our last Agnes Varda instalment: 'The Gleaners and I' and 'The Gleaners: two years after'. It was great revisiting the first movie and seeing the second which had some material about the reaction to the first and revisited some of the people. It reinforced the idea that the surface of Varda's films is not necessarily what they are about. We then trammed to Noel's for a delicious dinner of prawns and oysters, followed by chocolate mousse.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ella Channelled

Last night, P. and I went to the Recital Centre which had the red curtains up again for another in the American Songbook series. This one was US singer Freda Payne channelling Ella Fitzgerald with a three-piece combo. She is a very talented singer but I suspect the gimmick of 'doing' Ella's story was just that, a marketing ploy, and she would have been better just being her very talented self and singing what she wanted instead. Before going, I found that the fish that I'd bought at Victoria Gardens had mysteriously disappeared, so no garlic scallops and the fish for the fish pie had gone. Fortunately, I could rustle up a scratch meal before we went out. It's a complete mystery where it has gone to. If it is around the house somewhere, we'll know in a few days but I doubt it.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

New Town Hall

Yesterday, we did the normal mall shopping at Victoria Gardens then, because we had Carmelita for an extended period, we went to Pope Joan in East Brunswick (Nicholson Street) for brunch. It was excellent food, then we did some food shopping at their next-door shop. In the evening, P., Frank and I went to the Town Hall for the official opening of their two-year renovations. It's very swish and they had swish canapes (yorkshire pudding and beef canapes, the dirty bastards). We retired before most of the speeches to Frank's place for beef casserole and quince crumble. Yum! This morning P. and I did the Farmers' Market for a few goodies (lemon olive oil, rhubarb, cheese, milk etc.).

Friday, July 11, 2014

Arty Farty Day

Yesterday, we picked up Lorraine E. then headed for Mornington and the gallery there. They had two exhibitions. The first was a collection of the much painted and photographed Paul Kelly. It was fascinating seeing portraits by a number of different artists of a subject at different ages. The other show was the shortlisted artworks from the gallery's works on paper competition. Again, there were many very interesting works given some explication by the gallery's curator, who, mercifully, avoided artspeak. We then went to the McLelland Gallery for an exhibition of works from the Rockhampton Gallery, from 1940 to 1980, mainly modernist. It was good to see some unfamiliar paintings by some familiar and not-so-familiar artists. There was also a show of photographs of Australian surfing and beach scenes. We also had a good lunch at the gallery. In the evening, after a cheap and cheerful at Yoyogi, P. and I went to 'Henry V' by Bell Shakespeare at the Fairfax Theatre in the Arts Centre. It was an ingenious production where the play was performed in a WWII air-raid shelter. It highlighted the play's concern about the disjunction between rulers' aims and the lives of their soldiers. I think in the effort to make Henry not quite such a hero, he perhaps lost a bit of dramatic force, but the play was quite absorbing, particularly for its stagecraft. The play is touring the country.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Quiet day

Today was a fairly quiet day. I did a small amount of work on a translation of a Chinese story, and P. and I went to see Morris L. and Helen T. Morris has not been well but, though he wasn't in the bloom of health, is getting better. He gave us a copy of his new book, 'Hergesheimer in the Present Tense', which was a coincidence as I got an old secondhand copy of 'Rappaport' in Woodend recently, which I'm avidly reading.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Varda part four

Tonight P. and I went off to ACMI to see 'La Pointe Courte', our fourth in our series of Agnes Varda movies. It was her first and seemed to be almost two films: one, the story of a couple visiting from Paris where the man aims to show the woman his roots in the seaside village, the second almost a documentary on the village life. Whether they truly mesh is a matter for judgment, but it is an absorbing first film with the village life the most compelling element. The couple seemed to me to be a bit boring. Afterwards, we went to Chocolate Buddha for a late and light dinner.


Today, we picked up Lorraine E. and Frank and headed for Healesville. We went to the Sanctuary where Lorraine wanted to photograph some murals and we all peered at some animals. A female bower bird took a great liking to P. and sat on his backpack trying to extract one of its carry straps for its nest. It wasn't successful but took a lot of shaking off. There were lots of other birds which were the highlight of the visit, along with some sleepy wombats and Tasmanian devils. We had a fine lunch at Innocent Bystander. I had some marinated yummy raw fish and cod croquettes. Their homecut chips were pretty good too. We then went to Tarrawarra Art Museum which had a large retrospective of work by Danie Mellor. At first, it looked as though it was a bit of a one-card trick, but it gradually deepened in meaning. The theme is crosscultural conflict since white settlement using some traditional English pottery designs and natural features from the Australian landscape. Ironically, I had commented on the incongruity of presenting Indigenous thematic displays in a zoo at Healesville. In the nineteenth century, Melbourne Zoo presented Aboriginal spearthrowing and demonstrations in an enclosure with stuffed animals! Mellor's work presented the same reservations in a different and more complex way.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Varda number three: Jane Birkin

Last night, P. and I went to our third in the Agnes Varda festival at ACMI: 'Jane B. par Agnes V.' It is meant to be a film about Jane Birkin, English/French (mainly) film actor. However, unless I am wrong, it isn't really about her at all, but rather a peg for Ms Varda to pin her observations/musings about life and especially women. Birkin is a kind of clotheshorse or coathanger as she plays various roles in costumes and scripts defined (I think) by Varda, such as a servant from an old master painting who dresses in her mistress's clothes and pearls and gets reprimanded for it. Or a woman with various boyfriends (usually not very nice). It is an intriguing film, even if I'm wrong. Home afterwards for more leftovers, now nearly consumed.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Birthday and Brecht

Yesterday, we had a lunch for my father's birthday (actually next Tuesday). His friend, Helen, my sister and her husband, and Frank P. and Sally S. came. We had a good buffet spread of seared beef, smoked salmon, fritatta, summer chicken, Thai fish cakes, rice-paper rolls and baguettes, bread and mayonnaise of various kinds. In fact, the spread was so large we forgot to heat the party pies, a popular favourite, so they stayed in the fridge f'rafter. There were also two good birthday cakes, one of which Dad took home f'rafter. In the evening, we went off to the Malthouse Theatre, after leftovers, to see 'The Good Person of Szechuan'. It was an excellent, if challenging production, by Chinese director Meng Jinghui. Particularly good was Moira Finucane in the title role, but the whole cast were exhilaratingly and athletically good. Home again, for more leftovers and the beginning of the Tour de France, over the dales of Yorkshire, England, the finish of which was abruptly terminated by SBS in favour of the World Cup Soccer. Grrh!

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Heavy shopping and good dinner

P. and I did the shopping alone as Frank was away for the day. We did lots of shopping for my father's birthday lunch today (Saturday), then got into a storm of cooking and assembling. We were interrupted by a wonderful dinner with Michael P. (over for uni. holidays from Tasmania), Louise L. and Lesley P. at Bayte in Johnston Street. It was the first dinner we've had there (previously we've had brunch and lunch) and it lived up to previous experiences. The food was all delicious and met with everyone's approval. Then home for more cooking. Now just the baguettes to buy and a whole lot of laying out of tables and food.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Janis Siegel

Last night, P. and I went to the Recital Centre to part of their American Songbook series. The main artist was Janis Siegel, U.S. jazz solo singer, who also sings with Manhattan Transfer. She sang a wide range of songs with John di Martino on piano and Boris Kozlov on bass who both played impressive solos as well. We enjoyed the Centre's cheese plate and a bottle of shiraz in the cabaret setting (though probably a nightclub would have been better). Afterwards, we stopped into Blondie for a couple of dishes (Thai fishcakes, prawn dumplings and chips with aoli). They were delicious.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Busy but back to work

After three days without very much productive work (shopping, coffee concert, Dickins and computer troubles), I'm now back to the biography and getting closer to how it might be organised. I hope this not-very-innovative solution will work, apart from the severe cutting which it needs. I hope to get back to the autobiography in a few days. Meanwhile, plans for the Canberra and Tasmania trips proceed apace and also take time away from work. Trouble is, I enjoy making up itineraries and organising travel.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Computer fix, Dickins and Lamb

This morning we had two visits: Shane, the computer man, fixed my disabled computer Office and Internet faults, and Barry D. to show us his new cartoons, which were very good. He dropped in for a welcome chat and coffee, while the computer man has my machine running more smoothly. Tonight, I'm cooking lamb chops with caponata (google that) accompanied with the rest of the croquettes with cavolo nero and prosciutto.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Coffee concert superb programming

This morning, Frank and I went to the Musica Viva Coffee Concert with Nikki Chooi (Canadian violinist) and Amir Farid (local pianist). It was a superb concert with works by Mozart, Ravel, Body (a NZ composer) and de Falla. It was modern without being threatening and too challenging to a (by definition) fairly elderly audience. Very good musicianship in the duo in spite of having only met for the first time twelve hours earlier. In the evening, Frank came round for P.'s superb vera bolognese (a lot of hard work chopping and chopping) and my rhubarb with honey, cream and icecream.