Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Coffee concert and dinner

Yesterday (Tuesday), P. and I went off to the Recital Centre for another Musica Viva coffee concert. We got there in time to have some cake this time (please stop talking about that cake!). The Arcadia Wind quintet gave a youthful and enthusiastic concert with works by Zemlinsky, Ligeti, Younan and Francaix, all works from the last century. I detected a hint of resentment from some members of the audience at not having any Mozart, Beethoven, Bach or Schubert. Next year's program is even more adventurous than today's appealing works, so we'll see. Or perhaps the thinness of the audience was because of winter ills and escapes to the Gold Coast. We meet Sally and Jannie on the tram and then went off, just us, to Trotter's for a very good brunch. Home for a rest, and then we were joined by Frank for an excellent dinner chez Noel. Now back to try to get some work done today which I did, but, of course, not enough. I still haven't got on to autobiog. no. 3 yet, apart from my first reading but I'm getting close on no.2 and close to a report on the novel. Maybe by Friday.

Monday, August 28, 2017

A very solid day

Yesterday (Sunday), I was very boring. I was up early to get the Sunday Age for the crossword and P. and I had completed it by 10am, a record I think. I did lots of work on autobiography no. 2, sent off another Chinese short story and read a good chunk of novel no. 2, which I'm really enjoying. We had steamed Chinese dumplings for lunch (okay but not brilliant) and P. made his magnificent roast chook for dinner. We then dozed off over the so-called last of Midsomer Murders. I'll bet it isn't. I had a similar day today (Monday), with work on autobiography no. 2 and novel no. 2. P. went off to staff the U3A office this afternoon and we had leftover fish curry for dinner.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Still working through it and enjoying it

Today I worked on autobiography number two which I really love. Last night, I stayed up too late watching the Suspect 1973, or whatever it's called, on i-vue. It was the 'final' episode, but I'll bet it isn't and stars the woman who played Alice in Luther. That's its main virtue as it's a bit lame. But you know me; I have to find out what happens. Then I finished Kim Scott's new novel, Taboo, so I went to bed far too late. More on Taboo later but the huge amount of praise which has been lavished on it seems a bit excessive. It has some very clunky bits. I strongly suspect that Scott is suffering from the too-many-Miles-Franklins syndrome where either editors aren't strong enough to tell them when they are being clunky, or they reject advice from more honest editors. Whichever. I'll read it again more carefully before we travel to the area later in the year. I also did some work on another Chinese short story which I hope to finish tomorrow and started reading novel number two, set in China. I'd hardly say I'm an expert on things Chinese or Aboriginal but I'm beginning to know more about them than your average bear (not in the gay sense). By the way, someone commented that Bob Katter's worries about appropriation of the word 'gay' are small beer compared to gay appropriation of the word 'bear'. After a scratch lunch (soup and toast with herrings), I have made fish curry with peas for dinner.

Music feast

Yesterday (Friday), Peter and I took Delila the Corolla to Victoria Gardens for normal shopping and cleared out the fridge for lunch with a smorgasbord of leftovers. In the early evening, we joined Frank at the Recital Centre for a Syzygy concert. It was the usual mix of fairly challenging pieces by Skipworth, Cheung, Mantovani (the French one) and Sarriaho. The Bruno Mantovani piece for flute and piano was described as 'athletic'. It sure was, but Laila Engle on flute and Leigh Harrold on piano were excellent. We finished with a quite good meal at Barre after the crowds had left for the ballet. I finally got my meringue dessert which I've been hanging out for, but it was a bit of a disappointment. Not a patch on my sister Julie's fabulous pavs.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Soldiering on

Today, I had fewer distractions but still didn't get quite enough done. I finished and sent off another Chinese story and compiled a list of illustrations for biography 2, which took a lot longer than I thought it would. A lot remains. P. went off for lunch with Robin S., and then made roast lamb for dinner with delicious roast cauliflower. We are watching the beautiful Spanish countryside in the Vuelta d'Espagna though not staying up too late.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Powering on

Today, I started with committing us to the Adelaide Festival (with Frank) by getting tickets to Brett Dean's opera 'Hamlet' which is coming in a Glyndebourne production. It is Glyndebourne without the black tie which suits me fine. Then I did our subscriptions to the Oz Opera: with three shows only. It was almost worth a new mortgage to get them but I was a bit pissed off that they were running Tosca, La Traviata and La Boheme yet again, though I ignored them. Not that they are bad operas but really, again, and again, and again, just dressed in different frocks. I then set down to work and still didn't do enough but got on well. I now have two very ill authors and one the same age as me, so speed is of the essence. P. made Filipino omelettes for lunch (very tasty but simple) and I'm making anchovy pasta for dinner.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Lots of work but not enough

Yesterday (Monday), I managed to finish reading autobiography no. 3, and today I sent a short report off to the publisher about it. However, this morning, I got up early to do lots of work then remembered I had to go off to see Genie the nephrologist which I did with great despatch. It turned out I was okay, so I went home to finish off the report. But I am well behind. Last night, P. embellished his chicken curry with green pepper, beans and cauliflower, and it was delicious. We watched Bill Shorten on Q&A and were unimpressed even though he was quite effective. I still suspect that all it is, is that Bill is not smooth enough. We are still class-ridden as far as our politics is concerned. Tonight, P. and I went into the city and, for a change, had a meal at Noodle King, a Chengdu place in Swanston St. Sadly, though the meal was probably very authentic with lots of chilli, the chicken was tough and bony (probably authentic too). Not again. We then went to Musica Viva at the Recital Centre for the Takacs Quartet who performed works by Haydn, Vine and Dvorak. It was a very accomplished concert. We have also started arranging our subscriptions for next year, as the companies vie for our dollars. We might try to be a bit more restrained next year.

Sunday, August 20, 2017


This morning, I got up early and got the paper for the crossword, now done. There was a hitch with an error which the crossword makers made (quelle surprise). Now a couple of hours for some work then off to lunch which was chez Bryony and Philip's. Not only was the 'lunch' delicious but the company was superb and the meal lasted until well after 5pm. Reluctantly, we went home for soup (all we could manage) and the teev.

Saturday, August 19, 2017


This morning, the papers were delivered across the road outside Maria's shop, so got wet, even though covered in plastic. This has been happening for weeks now. I've complained again. If it happens again next week I'll visit the distribution centre in Collingwood. As I keep saying to them, 'It's hardly rocket science to get the correct papers to the right house,' especially as that is their job. Then P. and I went into town to hear the curator of furniture and frames at the NGV give a talk on their reframing program. I know it sounds dull, but it was fascinating. Now they have labels on things that they have reframed (see Dutch 17th century paintings). The process is fascinating and very technical, but the layperson's version was quite rivetting (to coin a phrase not inappropriate for some frames). We then had lunch at the tearoom (both of us had crotchless sandwiches) then went to view the works in question in the gallery. Home again for a nap. P. made a delicious chicken curry for dinner, then we watched cop shows endlessly (or so it seemed). I enjoyed all of them except the fatuous Father Brown.

Friday, August 18, 2017

A very varied day

Today, I had to go off to the Club (the Royal Melbourne Hospital) to get some anti-rejection drugs which I can only get there and to have a blood test before my renal appointment next week with Genie. It was a very efficient visit for once with Natalie the Vampire giving good, painless service and the pharmacy doing a relatively fast turnaround for once (possibly because I got there so early). Home again before P. went off to his film course at U3A and I settled down to work. In the arvo, we went of to South Melbourne, but a glitch in the trams near the casino meant we had to catch a cab for the last bit to Clarendon Street. Then, we had a good meal (again) at Salon de Sushi before going to the Town Hall for an ANAM concert. The centrepiece was Greta Bradman doing Strauss' Four Last Songs but there were also works by Schoenberg and Weill which were very impressive as well as excerpts from operas by Korngold and Strauss. It was a wonderful concert.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Fab film

Yesterday, (Wednesday) I ploughed on with lots more work on autobiographies 2 & 3. In the early evening, we met my sister and her daughter at Yoyogi for a quick meal then went up to the Nova. We ran across numerous rellos in the bar where we were having a drink. My cousin Robyn had organised a special screening of 'Defiant Lives', a doco about disabled peoples' struggles for recognition and power. It was both inspiring and depressing at once. The filmmaker. Sarah Barton, took eight years to make the film, set across Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. with many outstanding speakers. We then went home for more baby cheeses. This morning, there was no time for work as we picked up Franz the Corolla and did the shopping. Home for leftover fritatta for lunch. Tonight, it will be oysters and fish soup from the shopping.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

More work

Yesterday (Tuesday), I got the translated story off to the translator, the 'report' on the family memoir and got on with autobiography number 2. I'll plough on with that today. Meanwhile, I've started to look at a report on autobiography number 3, which is also very good. I am really blessed to have such good would-be books on my desk at present. I just wish there weren't quite so many of them at once. However, in a few days the air should be relatively clear. Last night, I made rosemary and onion fritatta which we ate half of, followed by baby cheeses. P. had bought two nice ones, on his journey to Noel's, from the Richmond Larder.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Hard at work

After a few days of mainly frivolity (Wagner aside), I got back to work this morning and worked on another story translated from the Chinese, plus the autobiography. Plans for South America are hotting up as well, and another manuscript is coming for report. Busy, busy, busy. P. went off to help out Noel so all was quiet at home to get my head down. In the evening, we had frozen vera bolognese for dinner, followed by baby cheeses.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Bikes, shopping and modern music

Yesterday, Saturday, David and Nick went cycling and shopping (for Nick's suit and David's trakkie daks). P. and I stayed and home and when D. & N. came home we had beef burgundy on toast (horreur say the French). In the evening, we went to Salon de Sushi in South Melbourne where we caught up with Lesley P. and had a good meal. We then went to ANAM for what would have been a good concert (with dinner boxes in the interval) except it was too much of a good thing. A bit of pruning would have disproved nothing succeeds like excess. A bit of John Cage is okay; too much is just boring. The Frank Zappa, on the other hand, was very good with the percussion (including piano and piano-like instruments), but we could have had fewer of the Michael Kieran-Harvey tributes to Zappa. Home again for a rest and sleep, and now the boys are off cycling again. They came back for breakfast and a shower and we went off to Brunswick Street for yum cha at a very economical place called Rize ($18.80 for all you can eat but they penalise you if you waste anything, i.e. leave it). It was quite good, though not exceptional. What could you expect for the price? We bought Portuguese custard tarts across the road as the yum cha didn't include them then went home. David and Nick have departed northwards after a very enjoyable visit. It was lovely to catch up with David before he returns to Bordeaux. In the evening, we had leftover soto ayam for dinner (there's still some left) followed by baby cheeses and chocolates.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Healesville and so on

Yesterday, after David and Nick had gone for bike ride along the Boulevard, we piled into Nick's car and David drove us to Healesville, very well, on his P-plates. We had a good lunch at Giant Steps which never fails to please, then on to the Sanctuary where we spent a very pleasant few hours including close-ups of a helmeted honeyeater and a Leadbeater's possum, two of Victoria's emblems and highly endangered species. Home again, for a G&T then soto ayam for dinner followed by baby cheeses and a good mag. I got a great insight into how the world has changed with David explaining the 'ethics' of social media which are far more complicated than old-fashioned table manners.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Another crazy day

I started the day with a bit of tidying up, preparatory to Nick and David S. turning up this arvo. Then I did a smidgeon of work (not enough) and then Barry D. came for lunch. P.'s vera bolognese on toast went down a treat and Barry was full of news. After a bit more changing of sheets etc., Nick and David arrived, then left to visit Sally S. P. and I went into town and met up with Nick, David and Frank at Yoyogi where we had a good quick meal before going to a marathon Lohengrin. Four and a half hours. I was wondering whether I'd last the distance but I did and was enthralled by a splendid production, except for a few Wagnerian longeurs in act two. Home again, where Nick and David were now fast asleep.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Busy at the desk

This morning, I've been juggling the three things on my desk at present: a translation of a short story to check (the easiest one), an extract of a memoir for report and the big one, autobiography number two. We had bacon and eggs for lunch, then P. made a super vera bolognese for dinner. I managed a bit more work in the meantime and I think I'm getting on top of it.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Lots of art, music and flares

This morning, I managed to finish off the beef burgundy, plus do a bit of work, before it was time to pick up Delila. I did a quick foray to Smurf Street to go to the bank and buy nose wash, then P. and I went and picked up Noel T. and went to Tarrawarra Gallery. We first had a very nice lunch at their restaurant, a bit gimmicky but tasty then viewed their Dobell exhibition and the Dobell and Friends adjunct. Home again then a quick bite and off to the Recital Centre for the Australian String Quartet perform works by Britten, Stanhope and Dvorak, all magnificently. On the way home, I picked up two books I wanted from Readings: new works by Kim Scott and Tony Birch. A very satisfying but busy day. Oh! and on the tram on the way to town I saw a man in white flares. I wrote him off as a neo-hippie but when we arrived at the Recital Centre, one of the young ushers was wearing black flares! Then the two women in the quartet were wearing flares too, one of them in a sort of op-art pattern. What is happening? Is this a time warp or just a new way of making money, getting people to discard their skinny jeans and go flared.

Monday, August 07, 2017

A fair bit of work

This morning, I did a fair bit of work on autobiography 2 with some exchanges with the co-author which were very productive. P. went to the NGV (to avoid the cleaners). They came through the house in their usual whirlwind. The soto ayam for dinner was nice but not exceptional (a bit bland) but there is lots left over. I also started tonight on the first phase of the beef burgundy (a la M. Oliver). I hope it turns out well.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

A piece of history

Up early this morning to get the Sunday Age for the crossword. It was quite a hard one this week on a few counts. Then P. and I got Franz and went over to help out Noel Tovey and have a coffee. Then, after polishing off the pea-and-ham soup we went to the memorial for Graham Carbery at the community hall next to the old Fitzroy oval. It was appropriate that the umpire's whistle sounded from behind the tributes. Graham had an amazing life and it was very sad that after 45 years Gary J. is bereft. It was very moving with everyone agreeing that Graham was a good bloke. It is also sad that some nearly forty years after Graham's outing as a gay umpire not a single AFL footballer has come out. However, the Gay and Lesbian Archives are a permanent memorial to Graham. Tonight, it's salmon cakes and oysters for dinner.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Plenty of plenty

On Friday, I did quite a lot of work while P. went off to his American Lit. U3A course. We had leftover chook for dinner followed by Friday-night cop shows. This morning, we went with Franz but not Frank to do the shopping, then had more pea and-ham-soup for lunch. We're now off to meet Frank at Blondie for dinner then the Brandenburg Orchestra. It's been a week of baroque, well nearly. We had a really good meal at Blondie which seems to have finally got its act together. I had fish tataki and delicious scallops to follow with a honeycomb and icecream dessert. What Peter and Frank had also looked delicious. The concert was excellent. Russian violinist Dmitry Sinkovsky led the Brandenburg Orchestra in pieces by Telemann, Leclair, Locatelli and Vivaldi. There was also a splendid Vivaldi Horn Concerto with two valiant soloists on baroque horns, Doree Dixon and Darryl Poulsen. It was a pity that Dmitry found it necessary to do his performing seal act by singing as an encore in his okay but not splendid counter-tenor voice. Stick to the violin. There is no need for the novelty act.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Parade of tradies

Today, I have done a deal of work on autobio. no 2, but not enough. Jon the Blind Man (window coverings not sightless) came and measured up for my study, upstairs and the back door. We'll have a quote in 22 hours. P. went off for lunch with Robin S. and for the rest it's a quiet day with leftovers for lunch and dinner.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

New tap and a lot of work

This morning, Guy the Plumber came and put a new yard tap on (it has been leaking and increasing the water bill which is already ginormous). Then I settled in to autobiography number two again. I'm about halfway through this pass and it's going well although there are still a few puzzles to solve. Arvo nap followed by P.'s superb roast chook.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Bits and pieces and another triumph

I spent most of this morning doing minor administrative chores (end of month accounts for July, arranging things like tradespeople etc.) then a bit of work, then leftovers for lunch. In the early evening, we joined Frank for a Monteverdi concert with Ludovico's Band. It was booked out, deservedly, but mostly with old folk like us. Where are the young folk for a brilliant concert like this. It was excerpts from Monty's operas sung by the band plus soloists plus performers from the VCA secondary school. They did bits from Orfeo, The Return of Ulysses and The Coronation of Poppea. All were brilliant but the real thrill was hearing Liane Keegan in the Salon. What a voice! Home for pea and ham soup plus baby cheeses f'rafter.