Sunday, November 30, 2014

A bit of gender bending

On Friday, P. and I (Frank couldn't join us) picked up Marion this time and did the shopping, then headed to Montmorency, as planned, to catch up with Dad. We had lunch at his place. The auction board is up for the sale of the house on 14 December. In the evening, we went to the Wheeler Centre for a session, hosted very well by Anton Enus, about 'multicultural' identity and gender. An impressive panel of speakers, including Noel Tovey and three women, a lesbian muslim, an Asian Australian and an 'AIDS' helper, canvassed some of the issues around gender, sexuality and ethnicity. It was an all-too-short absorbing panel. Next evening, P. and I went to the Malthouse, where we dined, then saw 'Calpurnia Descending', an enjoyable confection of a play, which I think didn't mean very much, but which was theatrically absorbing with Paul Capsis and Ash Flanders playing an old leading lady and an ingenue. The star turn was Sandy Gore playing two male roles with panache and skill. Everyone performed with zest and punch.

Grampians and the Royal Mail

It's been such a busy time since we got back from the Grampians, I haven't had time to post about it all. Last Monday, P. and I picked up Constantine the Corolla and headed off in pouring rain to Dunkeld. We lunched at Skipton (a good toasted sandwich) and settled in to our 'mountain-view' room at the Royal Mail. Last time, we stayed we were in a non-view room, so this was very superior and luxurious with our own balcony overlooking some New Holland Honeyeaters and their nest and numerous other birds (wattle birds, kookas etc.) In the evening, we dined in the bar and had some truly delicious whitebait (from WA, not local galaxia as we had hoped). Next day, we went to Hamilton to the excellent art gallery and the not-so-good, but quaint, Ansett Museum. That contained the gem that Reg Ansett, prevented from running his bus routes because of government regulation protecting the railways, sold oranges, not tickets, then gave the rides for free. In the evening, we had the five-course tasting menu which was truly delicious especially the dishes picked fresh from the garden that day (so they said; it certainly tasted like it). Next day, we headed to Halls Gap via a short walk at the base of Mt Sturgeon and had a very pleasant time at the Indian eatery in Halls Gap and the Pinnacle Lodge where we have stayed before. To finish off, the next day, we visited Bron N. in Stawell, then Carmel B. in Ballarat. It was good to catch up with both of them, albeit briefly. We arrived home, a bit weary but Frank provided a luscious Indian dinner.

Monday, November 24, 2014


Yesterday, P. and I went to South Melbourne for our last ANAM concert of the year (probably) to see a rare performance of Messiaen's 'Des Canyons aux Etoiles'. Conductor Fabian Russell is a busy budgie. We saw him do a superb job with the Australian Youth Orchestra on Thursday night and he did the same with the young ANAM orchestra. Soloist on piano, Jacob Abela, was brilliant backed up by three other soloists. Ben Jacks, the faculty horn teacher was one of them. It is a long piece (135 minutes) and worth every minute with some seriously unusual instruments. Home again to clean out the fridge for dinner and 'do ourselves a favour' with the Countdown retrospective.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Music again

Last night, P. and I joined Robin Shaw for a good dinner at Blondie at the Recital Centre before seeing Ray Chen, violin, and Timothy Young, piano, for Musica Viva. They performed works by Mozart, Prokofiev, Bach and Sarasate with huge aplomb and skill. At interval, I caught up with an author I've been working with for a while. It was good to see her again after a lot of contact by phone and email. Now for the Sunday crossword.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Noel's for dinner

After a fairly quiet day at home for us, Frank, P. and I went off to Noel's last night for his usual (but not to be taken for granted) dinner. He is fairly well, though might soon have another stint in hospital. It was very good to catch up with him. This morning, P. and I went to the Convent Market to pick up the 'Christmas' ham which P. says he will glaze with the orange marmalade he also serendipitously got at the Market.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Australian Youth Orchestra

In an orgy of events this week, last night P. and I went to the Australian Youth Orchestra at the Recital Centre. Under the baton of Fabian Russell, they played works by Part, Edwards, Sculthorpe and Bartok with great elan. P. had been for instalment two of dental work beforehand. The orchestra and the programmed works were a pleasure, especially the screeching bird calls in Sculthorpe's 'Nourlangie'.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Last night, P. and I went to the noodle market at Birrarung Marr. We had very good food from two stalls but it was very hot and crowded. We wrangled a seat at least but I have had more pleasant experiences. Crowd watching was fun though. Pauline Hanson (who has resurfaced from her algae pond) eat your heart out at the amount of multiculturalism. We then went up the hill to 45Downstairs where we got a 'frequent flyer' free drink and watched Daniel Keene's 'The Dreamers'. It was a compelling play about an 'elderly' woman and a young man from the sub-continent. The cast were uniformly excellent as was the play, though it perhaps attempted too much at once: the age, racism and public opinion issues. The mechanisms of the very strange main relationship were not treated in as much depth as it might have been even though the actors were brilliant. 45Downstairs strikes again with brilliantly directed theatre.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Goldner Quartet

Yesterday, P., Frank and I went to the Musica Viva coffee concert, the last for the year and P.'s first since retirement. The coffee was awful as usual, but the cakes were good. The Goldner Quartet were better than good with a Haydn string quartet and Janacek's Kreuzer sonata, plus the premiere of Kat McGuffie's quartet, Nostalgia, a very romantic work commissioned by Julian Burnside. We had a sandwich lunch at the Arts Centre then P. went off to the dentist: verdict abscess. He now has pills for that.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Streeton Trio plus

After a quiet day (just a trip by me to Smurf Street to get aspirin for both of us), P. and I went to the Recital Centre (avoiding the Spanish Fester). The Streeton Trio did an interestingly programmed concert with two very different modern works plus Schumann's piano trio no. 1. The two modern works were by Canadian, Kelly-Marie Murphy based on the idea of the phoenix, and Australian Jack Symonds based on four scenes from 'Macbeth'. In spite of the spirited playing, it was unfortunate that the audience was so small, perhaps because there was a repeat concert that same afternoon or perhaps because the majority of the works were modern. Because it was raining, we couldn't go to the Noodle Market so headed home on the train. At Victoria Park, we couldn't get in to Dr Morse to try it out as it was booked out, so we crossed the road to Rita's, where we just got in. Who would have thought our neighbourhood would have such busy eateries? The meal, at the bar, was excellent. I had raw tuna with granita then carpaccio. P. had the bug spaghetti (Balmain, not flying). We then enjoyed their tiramisu and volcanic coffee.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Boring but good

Yesterday, after a bit of argy-bargy picking up the car (Constantine was missing in action, so we switched to Harley), Frank, P. and I went to the Mall, Victoria Gardens, for normal shopping plus Frank getting some shelves from Ikea (he found his way out okay). Then, after pharmacy pickup and banking, we had a very nice lunch at Backstreet Eating, then home again. All very normal and boring, but nice.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Potter gallery

I forgot to mention: on Wednesday arvo., P. and I went to the Potter Gallery. They had an 'open' early evening. It was very pleasant wandering around the gallery with a glass of plonk in hand. I was surprised how much I liked many of the entries to the Basil Sellers Prize for sporting art which were quite political. We gave their 'great debate' a miss though. They also had nice nibblies. All for free. Their exhibition from their own collection of Victorian Victorian (sic) views was excellent, as was their archaeological collection, based on written texts (Iliad, Gilgamesh) and connected objects. The same couldn't be said of their Outsiders artists special exhibition. There seemed very good reasons why the Outsiders couldn't get galleries to show them: they were not very good. P. has been to a couple of Melbourne Symphony concerts this week with Sally S. I passed on them.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mea Culpa

As my head hurts every time I open 'Plain and Simple Excel' (it's not plain and simple at all), I have been diverted into organising our upcoming trip to Dunkeld and the Grampians and next year's Vietnam, Paris, the Low Countries and Ireland trip. It's much more fun than doing accounts and learning Excel, and miles more fun than tidying up. However, I must be disciplined, so as soon as I've finished my Parisian wishlist, I'll go back to the accounts.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Clear the decks

As I have an almost pause in work (the biography might need the occasional piece of attention and the 'government' job is an ongoing pain in the arse), I'm attempting both to learn how to use Excel so I can handle my accounts better and to tidy up my office room preparatory to having it replastered. Both are fairly monumental jobs, so wish me well.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Teresa Pitt's 70th

This morning, P. and I did the crossword which had its obligatory mistake (last week's didn't have one). We then had Dutch-style white asparagus for lunch (with ham and boiled egg), then toddled off to the North Fitzroy Star for Teresa Pitt's 70th birthday arvo tea. We had a good time catching up with T. Pitt and Michael Baker and Adele Hulse. Organised by Teresa's children, it was a lovely occasion with lots of yummy food. Now home for roast lamb dinner plus Frank on his way to his last Sunday night late gig.

The Collingwood Slope

Yesterday, P. and I had a fresh batch of French onion soup for lunch then joined Frank near Smith Street for the annual Collingwood Historical Society walk. This one covered residential and industrial buildings between Smith Street and Rokeby Street (on the Flat rather than the Slope). This included some well-done and some questionable refurbishments and renovations as well as some shocking ones including a VCAT approved seventeen-storey unit tower next to the old brewery tower (and towering over it). As usual the CHS committee was well-prepared and well-informed. The memories of some of them are amazing. Home for pasta marinara made by P.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

ANAM and Rivas

Yesterday, we did normal shopping at the mall, picked up Frank's mended amplifier then had a splendid lunch at Bayte, then later snacks from the bar at Blondie before the ANAM concert at the Recital Centre with Ilyich Rivas, the young conductor. Only five people in the huge orchestra from ANAM were younger than him. They played Tchaikovsky's 'Romeo and Juliet overture', Prokofiev's 'Classical Symphony' and Shostakovich's Symphony no. 6, lucidly and sensitively and most importantly with clarity and accuracy. It's not often that the percussion section stand out, but in this performance they did. It was a fine end-of-year concert for ANAM, with a very promising collection of young musicians.

Friday, November 07, 2014


Last night, P., Frank and I had a quick meal at Yoyogi, then went to the Playhouse at the Arts Centre for the Life Like Company production of Stephen Sondheim's 'Passion'. It is a peculiar work, to say the least, about a soldier who is entangled with Fosca, a sickly, damaged woman, a very unlikely heroine, whom one UK newspaper described as 'the princess of wails'. Our hero eventually says he loves her, and she, in the words of one reviewer 'has the good grace to die promptly'. She does come back from the grave for a reprise. A good score with some mushy bits and an amazingly well-written text by James Lapine, making the totally implausible almost believable, the experience was absorbing, although two hours without a break is a big ask. Good performances by all, plus good band and conducting made it worthwhile though a bit perplexing. Why would you do it?

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Cobbler elves

Today, I went off to the cobbler/elves, in the form of Greg P., to have my nose reattached to my reading glasses. While I was there, Greg took a new impression of my nose to create a new, better fitting one before Christmas. I am so grateful to the prosthetics department at the Royal Melbourne for treating me so well and carefully. Back home for lunch and dinner with the leftover moussaka. Thanks P.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Cup Day and Fascist Theatre

This morning, P. and I picked up Constantine the Corolla and went to see George P. Also, there were Justin, Lauren and Oona by coincidence. We had a good little Cup Morning party. In the evening, after a rerun of soto ayam, P. and I went to the Northcote Town Hall for 'The Trouble with Harry', a much-praised play. The play is good but unfortunately the production doesn't do it many services. For a start, there was a demand to turn up a quarter of an hour early. Why? We weren't let in until about five minutes before start time. 'To make sure everyone gets here in time,' said the man on the door. But don't all other plays have the same problem? Then, you are not let in late or let out during the mandatory ninety-minutes no interval which seems to be all there is these days. Then, you are issued with headphones which you must use to listen to the play for some reason. I think this is to increase the directorial control. In the background, you can vaguely hear audience response, but get no sense of the collective experience which normally is theatre. See below for comments on 'Meta' seen a week ago. There seems to be an erosion of the idea of audiences having a reaction on their own account and having some influence on the production through emotion, laughter or even, God help us, intervention. Let's see how this trend develops. 'The Trouble with Harry' is about a woman passing as a man trying to live a 'normal' life in a suburban street. The script is powerful and all of the cast of six give splendid performances, especially the inestimable Caroline Lee (seen recently at 45Downstairs). A more intimate production might have worked better.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Lunch at Fatto

Dad turned up fairly early this morning to go with Peter and I into town to do battle with the Cup Day parade and have lunch with the Browns. We met at Fatto, next to Hamer Hall, and had a very good lunch. I had the scallops then tuna with horseradish, followed by meringue and lemon tart with icecream. We had a good chat as the place wasn't very busy, but in spite of that, the service was a bit slow. I don't understand why as there seemed to be plenty of staff. Perhaps not in the kitchen. Back home on the train for a bit of a rest.

Commoner dinner

After a quiet day at home, though P. did cook up a storm making potato and eggplant moussaka, just doing the crossword, P. and I went to dinner at The Commoner with Neville, Ben and Kit who are visiting Melbourne for PAX AUS 2014 (?). We had dinner in the courtyard even though it was a little chilly as it was easier to talk. Everyone except me had the feed-me option and had a series of courses chosen by the chef, including two desserts. I had an onion croquette, crab and beans, and the chicken roast special, followed by mandarin and meringue. I think everyone enjoyed it, in spite of it being a small amount of difficulty getting the wheelie into the back door of the courtyard.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Quiet day

Had a quiet day at home today after a failed attempt to pick up Harley the Corolla to go and see George P. GoGet found that another member had committed the cardinal sin: picked up the car without booking. So where Harley should have been was just a parking spot. It's the first time this has happened in years of using carshare. Usually, members are responsible and leave the car with plenty of petrol, and clean etc. I suppose there have to be some bad eggs in every collection of people. I've recheduled for Tuesday, Cup Day. We made up for it by having French Onion Soup (homemade) for lunch and I'm about to make a spicy Soto Ayam for dinner.