Thursday, December 31, 2015


It's been a quiet week with just a smidgeon of work to keep the autobiography on the boil. Yesterday, P. and I escaped the heat at the Nova with an excellent film about Peggy Guggenheim with an enormous amount of archival material which amounted to a history of modern art through the prism of Peggy, an extraordinary character. I recommend it strongly. We had a good brunch afterwards at Trotters, then leftovers for dinner. P. had got a good collection of baby cheeses at Parisienne Pate for after.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Very quiet

The weekend has been very quiet. We haven't done much. I did a little (very) of work and made a slow-roasted roast lamb with tomatoes and garlic which Frank shared with us last night. The most energetic thing we did today was the Sunday crossword and P. did some shopping to make some guacamole to have with tonight's dinner (the remains of the chilli con carne). It's looking like equally quiet on the holiday tomorrow.

Saturday, December 26, 2015


Yesterday, I picked up Delila then P. and the prawns and we freewayed out to Dandenong to my sister's place. P.'s prawn salad, Asian style, was nearly all hoovered up then we had Ian's roasts with the lot in which the assembled six made barely a dint. Lots of leftovers there. Then Julie made Christmas puds with icecream and custard. Full and happy we retreated down the freeway to Abbotsford (the journey both ways was fairly easy) and had the leftover prawns for dinner. Our very easy Christmas had the cloud of cousin Robyn's house being in danger and perhaps destroyed at Wye River. Good luck to them if possible. The weekend should be very quiet with little to do but cook and eat.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Back to normal

After visiting the Hospital yesterday, P. and I had lunch with Elaine and Robin S. at Brunetti's which was fine as we were early enough to avoid the eve of Christmas Eve rush. We all had a good mag. I had a very nice breakfast dish of poached eggs, fetta and avocado with too much greens. We joined Frank for the Convent Christmas twilight market and stocked up on a few goodies for the Christmas period then settled in at home. The Hospital thoroughness persists (I am grateful for it really through gritted teeth) requiring a biopsy on a small (very) growth on my lip on Monday 4 January. It will probably be with a local and as always the worst of it is the anaesthetic injection. After that it's plain sailing. Off now for more shopping at the Mall.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Here we go again

Yesterday, I went to the Hospital for the results of my tongue biopsy. Sadly, the 'ulcer' turned out to be cancerous so I went back today for consultations with a range of surgeons, plastic surgeons, etc. so they could decide what to do with me. After all that, they were still uncertain about exactly what to do but they are fairly certain that they can 'fix' it by removing a section of my tongue (they've already taken a fair bit for the biopsy). Uncertain is whether they will take a chunk of my leg to put in my tongue and whether they will take out the right and left lymph nodes or just the right one. Whatever they decide, they will probably do it in January sometime after the 18th. I will probably have trouble talking for a while so I'd better talk a lot in the meantime.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Serial pest

I'm having fun being a serial pest, though it isn't getting me far. Today, I got a call from Christine at Social Security about my email to the Minister (Christian Porter) protesting against Social Security's demand for repayment of an overpayment which was their fault (they failed to respond to my letter saying that they needed to adjust my pension). Nearly everything she said contradicted what her phone people had said to me. However, she went away to find out more. Meanwhile, I got a letter saying that my appeal had failed as I knew that I would need an adjustment to the pension so should have complained sooner that there wasn't one. Catch 22. I've appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal but I'm not holding my breath. My contretemps with AVG virus security is continuing (they haven't been able to reinstall my subscription coverage in three weeks). I'll report back on both issues.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


After a couple of days sweltering at home and doing a bit of desultory work on the autobiography, P. and I went to 'The Dressmaker' at the Nova after a quick brunch at Trotters. The film is quite good with a bravura performance by Judy Davis channelling Thea Astley. I didn't see that some of the criticisms of it hold water, but then it isn't all that meaningful either. And there were no trains from Hay through Ouyen to Birchip even in 1952. The cool change seems to be arriving.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Still healing

This morning, P., Frank and I picked up Delila, now free of gas renovations in her street, and went shopping. We started to get organised for Christmas, then had a light lunch in Smurf Street which was dripping with people. I've done a bit (not much) work on the autobiography but I will get stage one organised before Christmas, I hope. Also, today, I had a call about my Centrelink appeal which I had been told would take months. Oddly, it happened after I had fed Radio National Breakfast some questions for Christian Porter, the Social Security minister. A coincidence, I am sure. I got an amazingly competent officer and it will be interesting to see whether my appeal succeeds. If it doesn't, I can always take it further to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. What is truly amazing is that I found out why I was getting my pension supplements after informing Centrelink about my latest inheritance. It is because I am getting an adjusted pension of 25 cents a fortnight. Alice in Wonderland here I come.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Recovering well, I think

After coming home from surgery, I was able to finish off the soto ayam last night (the fried potato and boiled eggs part) and eat it. It wasn't too spicy but a bit hot and was okay. No trouble eating so far today with only the top-up of a single panadol every four hours and really no pain at all. We'll see when the stitches dissolve in a day or so. I've started work on a new autobiography which should carry me through the festive season and into January. Not that I'm planning on too much jollification. That can wait till the trip to Canberra in January.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Efficiency plus

Last night, P. and I went to Frank's for beef cheeks followed by icecream and raspberries. Yum! This morning, I was up early to go to the hospital for surgery. It was very efficient. I arrived at 8am and was out by 1pm. The anaesthetist did the best canulla I've ever had and the surgery was brisk with little waiting time at the end. The surgeon has put in a few stitches which will dissolve in a few days. There are no eating or drinking restrictions. Yay! I'll get the biopsy results in about ten days (probably Tuesday next week). Congratulations to the Royal Melbourne for a job well done.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

At home for December

All of our musical and dramatic events taper off for the Christmas period, so we've had a fairly quiet time at home with our only diversions being the fairly humdrum shopping on Friday with Frank and Delila followed by an excellent brunch at Addict (quiet for Friday lunch). Delila didn't get any brunch, not even petrol. I made a quick visit to the Health Centre for more pills today and that was about it, apart from a bit of organising on Noel T.'s second book which seems to be on track. In the evening, Frank came for dinner. P. cooked roast pork, a Karen Martini recipe with mostardo (how hip is that?), potato and lots of salt which resulted in very good crackling. Raspberries and icecream for dessert.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dickins on Ryan

Last night, P. and I went to the Courthouse (La Mama) for the premiere of Barry Dickins' new play, 'Ryan'. While waiting for it to open we ran in to Joe and Anne which was a nice surprise. The play, starring one-man band Syd Brisbane was excellent, both chilling and funny at the same time. Afterwards, we all had a meal together at a local Italian eatery which was good, but noisy. Better luck next time. We also found that we coincide in time (some of it) with Joe and Anne on a tour of western US national parks next year. What a coincidence!

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Bio. plus hospital prep.

On Monday, I had a long chat with the author of the biography who seemed pleased and in accord with my suggestions for vamping it up a bit. Fortunately, she is quite a good writer and I think, from talking to her, that she will be able to fix what needs fixing. She'll get back with any other queries along the way. Today, I got up early and went off to pre-operative at the hospital. I saw four people (surgeon, anaesthetist and two nurses) who were very thorough and checked everything in preparation for next Monday's short op. Before I left, I finally got onto AVG about installation of two programs but they didn't work AGAIN so I've been escalated AGAIN to a higher power. I'll try again tomorrow. This seems never ending, though the floods in Chennai haven't helped. I love the way the Indian IT geeks keep apologising for the inconvenience when they're up to their gills in water and blackouts.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

On the go

Saturday was quiet, but Sunday was not. We got up early to pick up Hugh the Yaris (Delila was being unfaithful with someone else) then headed for the hills, almost literally. We did about half of the Boyd Foundation's tour 'Boyd at the Edges' of houses in Blackburn, Vermont and Glen Waverley. They were all (and the ones we missed) houses built as 'project' houses by good architects to provide post-war housing at a reasonable price and using available materials in a non-wasteful fashion. In many ways, these houses were more interesting than the plusher, more lavish houses on previous tours. Two of them are likely to be demolished soon: one because it has seen better days and the other to make way for a freeway! So we were just in time. The earliest one still had an Early Kooka stove. We hotfooted it back to town, dumped Hugh and went to a lunch at the Irish pub in Southbank with some of P.'s old friends from the ATO. We had a pleasant afternoon, though the pub was a bit noisy and dark for a sunny day. Back home for a scratch dinner of French onion soup and baby cheeses.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Hospital and music

On Wednesday, I was busy reading the biography when I got a call to go to the Hospital for an MRI scan. I hotfooted it in and they were waiting for me. I don't think I've had one before, so after a bit of argy-bargy about whether I could have 'contrast' (some sort of revealing muck in my veins), I settled in for the bump and bash of the MRI which was startling like some modern music I've heard and not liked. In the evening, we were joined by Frank for a Syzygy concert, the last for the year, which consisted of four works, all interesting and modern music which I liked. There were premieres of pieces by local boys, Andrew Aronowicz and Brenton Broadstock as well as from outlanders Isang Yun and Jonathan Harvey (a bit long winded). We then had a quick and good bite at Blondie. On Thursday, P. had his medical turn with a visit to the dentist which required nothing more than a clean and in the evening, I went to an old-Penguinis dinner where we heard all about the grisly series of sackings and reorderings of staff in the Random-Penguin camp (there'll be no changes after the takeover: one of the world's greatest lies). Next morning (Friday), I went to the Hospital (AGAIN) but this time for the far more pleasant job of getting new noses for Christmas from the cobbler/elves (plus some bonus raspberries, God they give good service). Then in the evening, we went to South Melbourne for Indonesian dinner with Frank then to ANAM for our last concert for the year which was Anthony Marwood directing Britten's 'Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge' and Beethoven's Seventh, done with gusto by the ANAM orchestra. As well, retiring artistic director Paul Dean conducted the world premiere of his own 'One Child, One Teacher, One Book, One Pen' for orchestra and violin (Marwood again), in honour of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot for demanding education for women. It was a knockout concert as we've come to expect at ANAM. I've now got appointments for a preoperative screening next Tuesday for a biopsy under anaesthetic on Monday week so fortunately after all this activity, Saturday should be very quiet.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015


Yesterday, while the cleaners were doing their magic, I went off for a long overdue haircut and beard trim. I also started looking at a new biography. Today, I went to update my will at the solicitors, paid (grudgingly) my repayment of Centrelink's overpayment (subject to longwinded appeal), then in the afternoon went off to ENT about my tongue ulcer. I scored, after a long wait, an English ex-pat surgeon here for twelve months training before going home to collect bigtime in the Old Dart. He was quite nice, reassuring me that the ulcer didn't look like cancer from the CT scan or from feeling it. He tried to get a biopsy but failed after torturing me with an anaesthetic to the tongue. My tongue, however, was refusing to cooperate with its splendid gag reflex well-trained by infant polio, so he's had to defer for another scan and possibly a knock-out biopsy next Monday. We'll see. If he does the biopsy under a general anaesthetic he should be able to remove the ulcer then decide what it is.