Friday, October 31, 2014

Shopping plus

P. and I picked up Marion the Librarian, then Frank, then went to Victoria Gardens for normal shopping. Laden with goodies, we dropped them in our homes then had a very good lunch at Addict which keeps turning on good specials as well as the old reliables. Their mushroom duxelles is very good indeed (with poached egg and giant hash brown). Home again for fish dinner.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Meta at Malthouse

Tonight, P. and I went to the Malthouse for one of their Helium experimental series. It was a show called 'Meta' based on Kafka with superb performances by the entire cast including veterans Liz Jones and John Flaus. Compelling, moving and funny, again it showed what theatre can do. Don't miss it, although it might be booked out as tonight's performance nearly was. Although I am well aware of the benefits of workshopping scripts (for plays, films etc.), this one showed signs of being a bit 'overworked'. There have been two previous outings for this play. Perhaps one might have been enough. Unfortunately, no one told the caterers who were woefully unprepared for the number of people descending on the place wanting dinner before the show. 'Sorry, the kitchen is closed tonight.'


In the brief pause before Kit, Neville and Ben turn up in Melbourne tomorrow, I've spent some time tidying up my computer, emails and other administrative trivia. The government job is, I hope, entering its final phases but that might be a fond hope and the biography is also in its final phases apart from a bit of finessing. If I have any spare time, I might spend it doing my Excel for Dummies so I can computerise my accounts for things like BAS.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sydney and Moss Vale

A good and efficient trip to Sydney via the airport bus, Virgin, then airport train which dumped me close to my cheap and cheerful hotel, the Great Southern. A very trendy dinner that night with Kit, Neville and Ben at Ester, the latest place. It didn't quite live up to its trendiness. The cauliflower dish was just that: a big dish with a cauli on it. My raw fish and steak tartare were good though and shared with Neville. Next day, I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art which took four hours to see, including their terrace cafe for lunch. There was a superb Martu exhibition of vibrant western desert art and a good show of French artist, Annette Messager. I then had a coffee or two and a good mag with Kit after her work. Next day, the AGNSW was a bit disappointing as they were installing their big summer Pop art exhibition and rehanging their Asian exhibition. However, the Australian offerings including the Aboriginal art were good as were the Lucien Freuds and Francis Bacons. In the evening, I had a drink with Tony Maniaty (long overdue) and we were joined by Jo Upham (equally overdue) and we went on to dinner (Jo and I). Next morning, train, very convenient, to Moss Vale. All four kids are fine, planning their ambitions. In the arvo, we went to Bowral so Mark (now nine) could buy a book or too, then to Maggie's very accomplished horseriding. In the evening, Kirrilly, Nick and I went to K.'s science teachers' barbecue which were a very nice and committed group of people (eat your heart out Pyne). Next day, Allie drove us around the Southern Highlands (she is notching up hours for her licence) to various views, waterfalls and swimming holes. In the evening, we all had fish kebabs for dinner. Nick dropped me at the station next morning to catch the Very Slow Train to Melbourne. The state of the track is so bad in NSW that we had to wait 35 minutes before Wagga waiting for the train from Melbourne to come north as it's only a SINGLE track. The railways then dumped us at Broadmeadows to get a bus to Southern Cross so I got a cab home as I was going to get one from Southern Cross anyway. Unexpected track work indeed. At home, P. had yummy vera bolognese waiting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Go, go, go

Miracolo! The biography has gone from over 300 000 words to just over 200 000 which is about right. The painters have been painting up, well, a storm and are nearly finished, and yesterday P. bought a new washing machine which arrived today midst much grumbling by the deliverer. 'I don't know why people want to live in these old houses. There's no space.' It is a struggle to get the machine into our diminutive bathroom, but that's life. Tomorrow, off to Sydney.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cut, cut, cut and then enjoy

I've spent nearly the last week cutting the autobiography and reached the end. When I hear from the author which cuts she has approved and how many words are left, I'll be amazed, whichever it is. The cutting makes my head hurt because I'm always thinking of the overall shape and meaning as well as the technical flow of the prose. I do hope it's all right. Tonight, P. and I went to the launch of Julian Davies/Phil Day's 'Crow Mellow'. a follow up to Aldous Huxley's 'Crome Yellow' nearly 95 years ago. It is a book with Day's illustrations on every page (including the author as an icecream) in a 'remake' of the original which is very funny and 'significant' as well. Sometimes I winced, sometimes I laughed. The author/illustrator obviously had fun. It is a unique book: don't miss it. The painters go on apace outside the house.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


At last, a day when I could get some work done. I got to the end of the biography then started on the first ten chapters, still to be cut. It will be interesting to see the word count when I have finished. My feeling is that it will be okay, but we'll see. P. made a superb Vietnamese chicken salad for lunch which we will also have today, I hope. In the evening, we went to the Arts Centre. To try something new for a quick meal beforehand which doesn't involve balancing food and drink on your knees on a couch, we went to the Curve Bar, where we've never ventured. It turns out to be a flop as it was very quiet on a Saturday night, but the food was good even though the architecture is execrable and the chairs include no options but those high stools. Does anyone think they are comfy or useful? Are they to show off the ladies' six-inch teeterers more effectively? Anyway, the food was tasty, reasonable and the place was peaceful, a rare thing on a Saturday night. However, someone made a big booboo with this bar. At the other end of the Arts Centre, Bar Fatto is booming, busy all the time. This Curve Bar was more like a graveyard, though we enjoyed the view across the back of the Art Gallery where Asians were gathering for a flash wedding reception. We then went to the Playhouse for 'Hipbone Sticking Out', developed by bighART in Roebourne. It was a big and lavish production giving the story of John Pat, the archetypal death-in-custody in the context of the history of Roebourne since white invasion. Moving, funny and deadly accurate, it included the Dutch as well as the English in the firing line. Having an Aboriginal woman play a selfish little Dutch girl was a treasure.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bendigo or bust

On Wednesday, we picked up Harley the Corolla and, with Frank, headed for Castlemaine, where we had a beaut lunch with Ann De Hugard (in honour of her 70th birthday) and a brief visit to the Castlemaine Gallery which had a cheery retrospective of the work of Latvian immigrant, Ludmilla Meilerts, a fine artist sadly neglected both because of her gender and ethnicity. She arrived in Australia in my birth year 1948. Then on to Bendigo where we stayed at the gracious Shamrock Hotel. Its renovations were opened by Dick Hamer and were done by the now defunct Public Works Department. Them were the days. We had a good dinner down a local laneway at the Enoteca Pharmacy, a miniscule restaurant that was very good. In the morning we went to the gallery for their underwear exhibition and the Body Beautiful of Graeco-Roman Art. The underwear was a litany of torture for women, but the Body Beautiful was fascinating with statues of stern, implacable goddesses, Socrates, fishermen: you name it. Back to Melbourne in the rain. Next day we did normal shopping and a good lunch at Backstreet Eating and said goodbye to Harley after staunch service. My father dropped by in the afternoon to tell us his plans for the future. In the evening, after a good Wasabi meal, we went to ANAM for a percussion, brass and woodwind concert directed by Carl Rosman. Works by Varese, Finnissy, Ferneyhough and Saunders made up a fascinating concert finishing with the bravura Messiaen piece 'Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum' with percussion plus.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pills and chamber music

Yesterday, I made a quick trip in the morning to pick up some pills from the hospital. There are a couple of antirejection pills which I can only get from the hospital. That journey which takes two hours took a lot of cutting time, so I only got one chapter done. In the evening, P. and I joined Robin S. at Blondie for a good quick meal before the Borodin Quartet regaled us with a very understated performance of quartets by Beethoven, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky. Our journey home was less than delightful. It took nearly an hour and a half to get from Southbank to Abbotsford because of a delayed tram. I hate Terry Mudler.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Morris Lurie

Yesterday, P. and I picked up Constantine the Corolla (a new car living next to Marion) and went to Le Pines (our becoming old friends) in Box Hill for Morris' funeral service. Very fine tributes were given by John Bryson, Norm Lurie and Bryony Cosgrove. Not a word about God. Bryony joined us to go to the gravesite at a beautiful bush-surrounded cemetery in Warrandyte where Morris was buried with his daughter, Rachel. Then, back to Helen Taylor's place for delicious food and drink (I couldn't drink as the designated driver). I kept seeing Morris in the crowd of his friends. Home again, where Ron the Painter came and quoted on the outside painting. They should start by the end of the week. P. made Stephanie's delicious roast chook for dinner.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Out and about

Yesterday, P. and I picked up Marion again while a man from GoGet was just finishing cleaning her (another benefit of share cars). We went out to Dad's to drop off some papers and he gave us lunch: steak and veg. He is doing very well on most fronts. In the evening, Frank joined us to take the journey to Noel T.'s for a dinner of delicious curries. He needs some medical attention and a new leg but these are coming. On Tuesday, he is going to parliament house (Victoria) where, with any luck, they will pass legislation removing criminal records for being gay when it was illegal. Yay! Today I am hoping to be at home all day and do lots of cutting, as there are lots of interruptions for the next few days: a funeral and a trip to Bendigo.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Vale Morris Lurie

Morris died early this week after a lengthy illness. I'll really miss Morris' regular visits for a coffee and his cantankerous and witty tales of his goings-on and writing career. One of the very few writers to make a living from his writing for so many years. He'll be much missed... Today Peter, Frank and I did the shopping at the Mall, then Frank left for an appointment and P. and I did some more businessy things (pills, bank, coffee) then had a reasonable fishy lunch at the 'new' Japanese larder in Smith Street. Most of this week, I have been spending time on cutting the biography. The author has a publisher who, understandably and generously only wants 200 000 of the almost 300 000 words.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Funeral journey

Yesterday, P. and I picked up Harley the Corolla, went to Carlton to pick up some food from Parisienne Pate, went to Officeworks for some scans, then drove to Montmorency to have lunch with Dad. The fridge was fixed post haste on Monday by Dad getting a local fixer (who charged like a wounded bull). We all then went to Croydon via a scenic route through Warrandyte (again), to Le Pines Croydon for Valda Davis' funeral. It was good to catch up with some rellos even though it was a sad event. Le Pines does a very good sangos, cakes and coffee afterwards with some of Valda Davis' chocolate cake made by one of her grandchildren. It was a good celebration of a wonderful woman. We arrived home a bit tired and wrung out so had Chinese takeaway for tea.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Something completely different

On Sunday, P. and I went in Madeleine the Yaris Librarian out to Warrandyte to the home of Yarra Riverkeeper, Ian Penrose, to go on a walk along the Yarra, sponsored by the Riverkeepers and Nillimbuk Council. There were about thirty of us and it was a very pleasant, if strenuous (for us), walk along the river with cockatoos interrupting Ian's excellent commentaries and seeing birds, a koala and a possum on the way plus many flowers and plants. We then returned to Warrandyte 'village' where there was wall-to-wall continuous traffic in both directions. So much for peace and quiet. In the evening, I cooked little silver whiting for dinner which were delicious in spite of having lots of little bones. When Jo B. visited my Dad on Sunday, she found that his fridge was bung and cleared out a lot of dead food, but he got it fixed this morning. Bravo!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

THREE operas in one week

Who would believe it? Three operas in one week and two of them Australian: the first was 'The Riders' (see the last post) which will possibly endure, though it's a bit dour without a lot of laughs, but then there are a lot of operas like that. On Friday morning, P., Frank and I did the shopping then had a good lunch at the Johnston Street Foodstore. In the evening, P. and I went to see 'Rodelinda' by Handel. It was a concert performance conducted by Richard Bonynge. The principals were all good, some really wonderful. The women's lineup was exceptional with superb singing from Fiona Janes. The Melbourne Chamber Orchestra, led by Rachael Beesley, played with precision and fervour (as much as you can with Handel). All the usual suspects were in the audience on a sellout night. The next day, P., Frank and I went to Newman College Chapel of the Holy Spirit (which must have taken a night off; I missed it). They were doing a version of the 'Play of Herod', surprisingly in Latin, as it used a pastiche of modern music. The music was written, or maybe devised, by the incredibly hardworking Richard Mills of Opera Victoria, but the performance was by their 'young opera' who performed and played with skill and gusto. Phoebe Briggs conducted and wrangled well. The just-over-an-hour show was gripping and enjoyable, and did what it was intended to do, give the young opera participants a good operatic work-out. We went home for the leftover soto ayam which was delicious even if I say so myself.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Too busy to blog

It has been a frantic and exhausting few days (for me at least). It started quietly with a Sunday morning crossword followed by a Gloriana Concert at the rather austere (except for the plaster statues) Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Carlton. They did a fascinating and varied program of works varying from fourteenth century to quite recent (i.e. late last century). Particularly fine were Eric Whitacre's piece called 'Sainte-Chapelle' and Gavin Bryars 'Glorious Hill', but I even liked the Tavener 'Funeral Canticle' in spite of some people finding it a bit longwinded. After his exhausting concert, Frank came for roast lamb dinner followed by berry icecreams. On Monday, P. and I picked up Eugene the Van to get a new ladder (the old one's safety chain had broken), then as we were out in Heidelberg, went to my Dad's for lunch in Montmorency. The next day (Tuesday), we went to Carlton to pay the deposit on our next overseas trip, then had lunch at the Farm Cafe with Sally S. In the evening, Frank, P. and I had dinner at the Malthouse with Janelle and Neil from near Geelong whom we have been seeing at concerts for years (I knew Neil in theatre at Melbourne Uni.). We then all saw 'The Riders' by Victorian Opera. It is based on the Tim Winton novel, which is not a good start, as the plot is a bit thin and the main characters not very attractive. However, the music is splendid (Genevieve Lacey worked very hard on a huge range of recorders and bells) and the libretto does well to repair the deficiencies in the novel. The cast of six were all excellent, so it was a very good theatrical evening with a staging that you could whistle on the way home. Now after days of delay, back to work.