Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A pause

Last night, P. and I went to Frank's for dinner of pie and pud. (peach melba) which was very nice and are returning the compliment tonight with roast chook and passionfruit icecream (not together). Meanwhile, I'm finishing off stuff pending surgery like end-of-month accounts and work. There will be a pause in communications on social media until I return to my desk in a week or two.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Gay walk

On Sunday, we had a quiet day at home preparing for the new week and surgery. In the afternoon, we headed to South Yarra for the Midsumma Gay History Walk. The inestimable Graham Willett led the team with Gary Jaynes and Helen Pausacker to take us on a short walk around Toorak Road and Chapel Street to sites significant in Melbourne's Camp (Gay) History. As always, the attention to detail and the regard to working class (and criminal) history was evident and welcome. Thanks to all. We had a quick meal at Yoyogi then headed home to the teev.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

There's no business like...

Yesterday (Saturday), P. and I picked up Delila (we were unfaithful with her boyfriend Samson the Corolla in Canberra) and did the shopping, then got my power of attorney forms signed in Smith Street (pre-surgery). In the evening, after a quick garlic prawns at home, we went to 45downstairs for two of its Midsumma offerings. First was Michael Griffiths doing Cole Porter songs and narrative (co-authored by Anna Goldsworthy). It was a great show, even if the interpretations of the songs were not the best ever. Then he played the piano for Carlotta whose acerbic and witty show was very funny. The house was packed for both shows. Carlotta at 72 probably wins the prize for the oldest performing drag act, or transexual act or whatever. I'm getting confused with alphabet soup, especially since an Irish newsreader described himself recently as 'gender fluid', another one to add to the list. (And how much is gender fluid by the bottle?)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The national capital

We're back after four days in Canberra as it turned out as a pre-surgery special. We had already bought a package to go to Canberra to see the Tom Roberts' exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia, the Chinese exhibition about the Qing dynasty at the National Library and the British Museum/National Museum Encounters at the Museum. As well, we caught up with the Nolans at the Canberra Museum and Art Gallery which also had a travelling exhibition from the NGA on Federation art, a Wendy Saddington tribute (!) and a display on Canberra housing. We also caught up with Lilitu B. at her shop, and Kit and Neville came down from Sydney for a couple of days. We stayed at Hotel Hotel which was very comfy, friendly and trendy (we wondered whether we were cool enough) and had good food for breakfast and our one dinner. We also ate at an Asian fusion place in Civic and Black Fire (a Spanish joint).I was very impressed by the Roberts show, especially, as P. said, the pastel portraits. Having read the new Reed biography, I at last separated Nolan, the shitty person, from Nolan, the not-bad but uneven artist. We returned three times to the NGA, once for the Australian section, the second time for the International (now upstairs) and the third for the separate Contemporary with 'The Last Supper' made all from Murray-Darling salt by Ken and Julia Yonetani with two other works, including a nuclear chandelier set indicating how much the nuclear power countries use nuclear for power. In the International, the standout was the slightly controversial Grand Canyon by David Hockney which in retrospect was a very good buy. It stands out as a beacon in the gallery and the kids love it. A bit arted out, we returned to Melbourne through stormy skies with minimum worries.

Monday, January 18, 2016


Today I had a lengthy (12.30-4.30) pre-operative session at the Royal Melbourne (The Club). It was gruelling because at these fun-fests they have to tell you all the things that can go wrong and the worst-case scenarios. However, the likely outcome of next Wednesday's surgery is one to two weeks in hospital with all manner of tubings and attachments including a catheter (for peeing), several tubes for leaking muck, an attachment direct to the vein for injecting whatever (which obviates the need for changing a cannula every three days), a tracheotomy (for breathing) and a nose tube for feeding. I think that's all. These gradually disappear as I hopefully recover. Oh, I forgot the skin grafts on my leg or arm if I need a graft on my tongue. It all sounds a lot of fun. Of course, it could be easier if they don't need to take as much tongue to get all the cancer, but personally I'd rather they get all the cancer in one go. Meanwhile, we're going to Canberra for some fun and food before the dread day.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Noel's for dinner

I've spent a bit of time this weekend working on the autobiography and issues of chronology which I think are all sorted now, at least they seem so. Last night, P., Frank and I went to Noel T.'s for a delicious curry dinner and today I've done more on the autobiography. Frank is coming here for dinner tonight cooked by P., beef casserole with mushrooms and potato.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Shopping and surgery

This morning, we picked up Delila and went to Victoria Gardens for a quick shop, then joined Frank (who had been to the dentist) for lunch at Addict which was very good as usual, with friendly and appealing service and good munga. My surgery has eventually been sorted out by the indomitable Bekkie and I am now having my pre-op session on Monday followed by, hopefully, the full surgery on the 27th of January. I'll find out at the pre-op how long I'll be in hospital but so far they've said about five days. I hope it isn't much more as I dislike hospitals intensely. All these arrangements mean we can go to Canberra now (we were going anyway) and catch up with all the great exhibitions there as well as meet up with Kit and Neville, who are coming down from Sydney and Bryony and her mum, Freda. Whacko! That will all be some compensation for not being able to eat and talk soon after.

George and Commoner

Yesterday, P. and I picked up Delila and headed Heidelberg-wards to see George P. Fortunately today was moderate compared with the scorching day before. George was good in spite of having some difficulties with his computer. P. will enquire to see whether someone can help with this. It certainly is not us. In the evening, we joined Frank at The Commoner for a pre-op. nice dinner while I can still eat one. Jo and Matt (who is now cooking pro tem) did us proud. P. and Frank had the 'feed me' dinner while I ordered a la carte (the feed me is a bit much for little me). We had a great meal with terrific service and the place was busy but not too noisy. The Commoner strikes again! The hospital is still mucking around with the pre-op date so I'll just have to go to Canberra anyway, especially now that Kit and Neville can meet us and we can lunch with Bryony and Freda.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


This morning, Peter and I went to see the movie. It's a bit paint by numbers (now we're going to have scene where...) but it is moving nonetheless. It is interesting that in spite of what it is about, the credits are given more than half to men. Plus ca change. The film reinforced my belief that you never get anything by being polite but I hope that you don't have to throw yourself under thundering horses to initiate change.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


I went today to see the author of the autobiography and we resolved quickly some of the inconsistencies and problems with the chronology and spelling of people's names. It was done with great expedition and grace and I came home for a rest and then my favourite soto ayam for dinner. It will do at least a couple more meals. It's a treasure of a recipe, thanks Rita Erlich. Peter made some very pertinent comments on my memoir of Brian Johns. Thanks for that too.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Autobiography, memoir and hospital

I spent today finishing my notes on the autobiography for the author and part drafting a memoir of Brian Johns' time at Penguin with help from Peg T. and Julie W. In the arvo, I went off to see the plastic surgeons at the Royal Melbourne (I wish I were being 'improved', but it was only for the lump on my lip). After a fair wait, I was told the lump was only an enlarged vein and of no consequence. Then a nurse painlessly removed my stitches from the biopsy. Unfortunately, my file did not yet include the procedure of a week ago, so I had to tell the doctor and nurse what to do. Good job I knew.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Ah Weiwei and Warhol

Today, P. and I trotted into town to see the above exhibition. Whoever originally had the idea is brilliant (the catalogue makes it sound like a collective idea but I'll bet it wasn't). The exhibition gives a good account of both artists, though Warhol emerges a bit like a one-hit wonder and Ah as much more creative (and intelligent). However, seeing them together is illuminating. Between parts one and two of the exhibition we lunched at the Tea Room which had my favourite crotchless sandwiches plus cake. P. had duck confit and what looked like lavish salad. Very nice all round except for the bus trip home where an entire bus disappeared. I complained on the phone thus reinforcing my image as a serial pest.

A little bit of work

Yesterday, I did a bit of work on the autobiography as I would like to get it substantially finished before my operation, though I can clean up typos etc. afterwards, I hope. I cooked a version of John Sligo's aglio, olio e peperoncini (garlic, oil and chillies) including anchovies last night. I was pleased I got the balance right between the heat and the citrus this time, though P. was not so impressed with this dish. It was good to do something in memory of the old bastard, rest his troubled soul.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Tests, more tests and family good time

On Thursday, I went off to the Melbourne Hospital again for a quick xray of my mouth area. It was very quick, two passes around my head and I was out before my appointment time. In the evening, we went over to Lesley and Louise's house, where Nick and his family are staying, for a barbecue. We took two salads and we had sausages and steak plus icecream. Sally S. dropped in to see them all, and we had a very pleasant night. It was much nicer catching up in a house than in a restaurant/eatery. This morning, Frank and P. had to do the shopping while I went off for an echocardiogram to check my ticker before the op. It took about three-quarters of an hour and was trouble-free. Afterwards, I met P. and Frank for a very good brunch at Dr Morse. We are spoiled for choice. A fairly quiet weekend is ahead with leftovers for dinner.

Thursday, January 07, 2016


A very quiet day working on the autobiography (nearly there for this time around). P. went off for lunch with Robin S. in the city plus a visit to the Health Centre. I went up to Brunswick Street Coles to get stuff to make the salads for Thursday night, then in the afternoon I was lucky enough to get an appointment with Jenny Blackett-Smith at the Health Centre who had some very good advice on my coming surgery as well as renewing my prescriptions. Thanks Jenny. Today off for the next round of pre-op things: an X-ray.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

A quick nick

Yesterday, Nick came round in the morning to take me to the hospital for a quick procedure to remove a small 'thing' on my lip, just in case, and to do a biopsy of it. Because this was organised 'on the run' by plastic surgery they hadn't briefed me properly. I thought it would just be a local so I didn't need to fast. However, they planned to give me 'sedation' as well as the local, so I did. Instead they let me wait till 1.30 (so it was six hours since I'd eaten) then I waited outside the operating theatre while the nurse prepared all the stuff for the sedation. Then the surgeon emerged from the theatre and said I couldn't have the sedation because I'd had water to drink more recently. He said I'd be better off with just the local which would hurt but only for three seconds. It did hurt a lot but only briefly and as compensation I didn't have to have the cannula which is probably more painful. Also I recovered in no time flat. The procedure took less than five minutes as he removed the 'thing' and put in one stitch, lickety-split. I rejoined Nick and we went home. Thanks Nick for the lift and the companionship. All of these things are stressful, even if they are as simple as this was. I have to go back in a week for the results of the biopsy plus get the stitch removed.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

The Nick mob

Nick, Kirrilly and their four children arrived in Melbourne on New Year's Day. We caught up for lunch at the Great Northern Hotel in Rathdowne Street with my sister, Julie and her husband, Ian, and Frank, making a party of eleven. The pub has hit on quite a good formula, inexpensive but okay pub meals, friendly service and a big beer garden. They are in Melbourne for David's ballet workshop with the Australian ballet. In June this year, he is going to Italy for another workshop which was highly competitive. Kirrilly and Nick are accompanying him. We had a good mag and will catch up with them again before they leave Melbourne. Home again after a big lunch for French onion soup for dinner.

Friday, January 01, 2016

New Year's Eve

Yesterday, P. and I picked up Delila and Frank then went to the mall for New Year shopping. We brunched at the Town Hall Hotel, then retired for an arvo nap in the heat. In the evening, Frank came round for pre-fireworks dinner: rabbit terrine, lemon and olive chicken, then icecream and raspberries followed by baby cheeses. Frank went home while P. and I enjoyed Inspector Montalbano (thank God for SBS) enjoying the very slight cool change. Hello to 2016 and Vale to Brian Johns who died this morning, a generous, intelligent and discerning man (and that's not just because he gave me a job).