Wednesday, March 18, 2020

An erudite dinner


I have just had lunch at "The Sunny Doll" (Japanese) with old friends Henningham and Croucher. For nearly two hours the very lively conversation ranged widely over the Western intellectual tradition -- from Aristotle, though Aquinas to Wittgenstein.  All three of us take an interest in such arcana. 

The depth of our knowledge on each varies but we all knew enough about them to find them interesting and discussable  I did a major in philosophy in my student days so I was at something of an advantage.

There were even discursions into theology, with one of my favorite doctrines -- the Trinity -- coming under critical scrutiny.  I guess it would all be impossibly obscure to many but we enjoyed it

Thursday, March 5, 2020

In the hostable


I have just got out of Brisbane Private hospital after some cancer surgery on my neck.  The surgery at no point put me into pain and the hospital staff were at all times obliging so I should not be too grumpy.  They even gave me some good porridge for breakfast, which I always enjoy

But I still hated it. It was the boredom that got to me.  I was able to get up and walk around but that was the best of the available entertainment.  Otherwise I had to lie in bed and watch TV -- something I almost never do.  Some programs were mildly interesting but the news was the only program I took any real interest in.  I was pleased to hear that Netanyahu had got back in as Prime Minister of Israel

So why was I so bored? I know it sounds pompous but my life is a life of the mind. My life could be taken as extremely uneventful but to me all sorts of things are happening all the time -- in my head. So while in hospital I missed being actively involved with the debate about all the big questions

I did take along a famous book to read -- "Dr Zhivago" by Boris Pasternak. I had read in when it first come out in 1957 but had forgotten the story totally so it should have been new to me. It was but I somehow could not get interested in it for long.  It was a good yarn but I just could not concentrate on it.

The book is about pre-revolutionary Russia (c. 1905) so the political scenes were of interest to me.  I did gather that they were realistic. One passage which told me that revolutionary politics  had not changed much was a description of the conversation of two Leftists of the day. Their remarks were described (on p. 49 of the first edition) as: "So imbued with contempt for everything in the world that they could quite safely have been replaced by a growling noise".  The politics of hate again. Quite reminiscent of current Leftist remarks about Mr Trump.  CNN on Trump is mostly a just a growling noise

I did make one useful discovery in hospital.  The staff always elevate the head of the bed.  That is useful for sitting up in bed and watching TV but I found it no good for sleeping. I didn't get a good sleep until I had the bed completely flat -- as at home

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Another great Russian lady


I have just come across Aida Emilevna Garifullina (born 30 September 1987). She is a Russian (Tatar) operatic lyric soprano with a powerful voice.  She has sung at the Wiener Staatsoper so it is slack of me that I have only just heard of her.  She sings an utterly charming duet with Andrea Bocelli here:



Not only her singing but her visual presentation is gorgeous: A most attractive lady.  Note the hair for a start.  With a given name of Aida she was obviously meant to sing.  Her mother was a musical lady

Friday, February 21, 2020

Ghastly events to be followed by more ghast


When I had my big operation to remove a tumor under my jaw last August, I was told to have 6 monthly PET scans as a follow-up.  The tumor was a metastasis from one of my skin cancers (SCCs) so further metastases had to be allowed for.

A PET scan is a form of nuclear medicine.  They inject you with a radioactive dye that clings to cancers.  So it is a first line of defence to detect cancers before they get out of hand.

I had the scan on 12th but was in any case aware of a new lump in my neck so was prepared for bad news.  The bad news led to more scans.  On 13th I saw the ENT specialist, and was booked in for the extra scans.

On 17th I went to Qld. Xray at Greenslopes hospital.  The chief event was an MRI scan, which is much more detailed than a PET scan.  MRI scans are a horror which I tolerate badly.  I have refused them in times past but Greenslopes had a new and larger  machine which was slightly more civilized. Even so, I had to arrive in a pretty bombed-out state in order to go through with it.  I arrived with 20mg of benzodiazepines in me, which is a lot.

As I could not drive in that state, Jenny very kindly drove me in and saw me to the front desk of the clinic.  She then waited through my various ordeals to drive me home.  She wisely brought a book. I was there for the whole morning, 9 to 12. She also helped a lot with all the paperwork before and after.

Thanks to the benzos, I survived the MRI without distress and then went on to a dental Xray, which seemed pointless but was mandated by someone. I then had a fine-needle biopsy to check what cells were actually in the tumor -- SCCs again it turned out.

On Tues 18th I went to the regular ENT conference at PA hospital and got the news that the tumor was malignant.

On 19th I saw my ENT man again and was booked in for the next round of ghast, a visit to hospital to get the tumor excised.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

That saint again


Anne had a surgical procedure booked for 14th so we could not celebrate Valentine's day on the due date.  So we celebrated it a day early.

I normally observe correct ritual for the day, which consists of giving flowers, chocolate, a card and a dinner.  I varied it a bit this time, however.  I gave a card, chocolate and a dinner plus a hand-held Kambrook vacuum cleaner.  I use my own hand-held rather a lot. A bit eccentric as a Valentine present but Anne was very appreciative of it.  She had been having problems with dust on her venetian blinds (Surely an iconic First World problem!) and she thought that the Kambrook would be just the thing to clean them

We dined at an old favorite, the Bollywood.  We both had medium Vindaloo, which was excellent.  They are no longer a Sikh restaurant.  They have been taken over by a Muslim.  But his menu is still as good as ever -- perhaps even better.  They didn't jib when Anne asked for an ice bucket for our Henkel Trocken champagne. So they are not strict Muslims.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Mice: You win some, you lose some


My computer mouse was playing up so I stopped in at Officeworks to buy a new one.  As expected, they had a large display of them, of many different types and at a large range of prices

BUT they were all cordless mice. Cordless mice are an old idea and I had one way back.  But you have to keep putting batteries in them so I always use wired mice these days.  So I was losing on that score.

I did however find a solitary wired mouse half hidden away among the cordless mice so grabbed it and took it to the counter.  It cost me?  Just $4. So it was virtually being given away.  Suits me!  It works very well. So I won in the end.

Wired mice became unpopular because the cord sometimes ran out.  But there's an easy solution to that.  Use a longer cord!  The cord on my new mouse is plenty long enough and you can get extra usable length by plugging it into one of the USB ports on the front of your computer.  Most computers seem to have those these days

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Flickr censorship


As I am a conservative writer it was sort of inevitable that I would be censored on social media.  And I am.  Facebook bans all mention of my Greenie Watch blog and Imgur has erased quite a few of my pictures that have conservative relevance,

But now Flickr.com have joined the party.  I put the picture below up on my Flickr site (  https://www.flickr.com/photos/67016676@N04/ ) recently.  They have removed it.  I wonder why?



Hmmm ... I see it is back up

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Another Army dinner


Once again a few of us got together to remember our time in the CMF unit 21 Psych.  Present were Rod, two Peters, myself and significant others with the two Peters.

There were two minor glitches.  The restaurant we were going to was closed!  They are now not open at night until Wednesdays.  That took me by surprise as I have been there on Sundays in the past.

The odd thing is that one of our previous dinners had suffered a similar fate.  On that occasion, however, I had a bit of advance warning so was able to redirect people to the nearby Zambreros.  In Brisbane, Zambreros is mostly a takeaway joint but they do have plenty of tables.  So we were able to get some of their good Mexican food and take it to a table to eat.  So we did exactly the same again tonight.

A wrinkle this time however is that Zambreros no longer has any drinking glasses -- not even for water. As a few of us had brought along wine, that was a bit embarrassing.  As Von Clausewitz tells us, however, army men are supposed to be good at improvising and Rod, our former Sergeant Major, rose to the task.  He went out into the kitchen and found some small but deep dessert bowls that we could at a pinch use in lieu of wine glasses. So we had refreshment after all.

Church affiliations are common among us so quite a lot of the conversation was about church matters past and present.

So the food was good and so was the evening generally

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Denis Ryan




In the early 70s, I shared a Glebe terrace house in Wentworth Pk Rd with JPH and AWC, both clever young men a little younger than me

We had quite a few parties at Wentworth Pk Rd. If ever we got sick of our guests, however, we would put on Janacek's Sinfonietta. We all liked classical music but not very many other people do and Janacek is a bit much for even some classical music lovers. The Sinfonietta would clear the house within minutes. They would even leave their beer behind!

It didn't work for Denis Ryan, however. I think he introduced us to Janacek in the first place. He would say "This is good" and settle in. Not that we minded. Denis was always good fun. He had that Irish roguishness and was a great raconteur. He had been a shearer for most of his life and later moved to Sydney to manufacture shearer's clothing.

For quite a while he used to drop in at our place after work for a few beers with us: The real Australian male thing (except for the classical music in the background). We enjoyed it greatly. He liked Resch's D.A. but we drank Flag. We used to buy D.A. especially for him. We called it Denis's Ale, though D.A. really means Dinner Ale.

All four of us were quite Right-wing. Denis had been a Communist in his youth (not uncommon among shearers, I believe) and knew an awful lot about politics. He had not had much education but was quite intellectual and cultured for all that. Apparently you do sometimes find that among shearers, according to Denis.

He was in his late 30's at the time.

Another venue where I saw Denis was at the Baroque Music Club. I founded the club shortly after I moved to Sydney. It was a very informal thing that consisted of Sunday afternoon meetings at somebody's place where we would drink cheap flagon wine and listen to recorded Baroque (pre 1750) music.

Denis was our most frequent host and his wife, Fay, used to put on a whopper afternoon tea to aid the deliberations. It was a good way to meet musically-inclined single women and I did meet a few there.

Denis is now deceased.  He lived in Abergeldie St, Dulwich Hill.


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Janet


It has occurred to me that I have never put up here any mention of my first real girlfriend.  So here is a bowdlerized version



I was about 20 when I first really began to take out girls. The puritanical influence of my religious teenage years made me a bit of a late starter in that respect but I soon caught up.

My first real girlfriend was Janet, 5'2", quite bright, with red hair (flaming red) and a talented classical pianist. We both liked Bach. Her eyes were blue-green. She was a clerk with National Mutual Insurance at the time. I met her at the Folk Centre in Ann St., where she sang occasionally. She had just turned 16 when we became lovers

We used to see one-another often even though she continued living at home. We had a lot of fun of all sorts together and I still think of her as a first class person. She and I had similar personalities and similar attitudes to a quite unusual degree. I remember that she liked Ayn Rand.

The thing that split us up may seem a bit silly but what I had reservations about was her being too short. I didn't want to have runty sons. I was also unpopular with her father.

At one stage she and I used to meet at my place at Birley St during lunch hour. Both of us worked only about five to ten minutes walk away. That way we could make love as part of our lunch together. An excellent menu!

Janet's father was an accountant who had done well enough to retire at age 40. He seemed to own most of Brisbane's jukeboxes. Apparently they give a good return. He did not like me because I had a beard. Part of the reason why Janet did like me however was because I had a beard!

Her mother was very nice to me, however. The thing that Janet liked best about me appeared to be my very confident personality. No woman likes a wimp. Janet and I became very close in the year or so we were together so it was in fact many years before we got to the point of no longer seeing one-another at all. Even after we had split up we would still sneak in the occasional meeting.

I was rather lucky in having her as my first girlfriend as we got on well in all sorts of ways. I guess we really were "soul-mates". A year or two after we split up I remember sending her a telegram to mark either her or my birthday. It was in Italian and read: "Ogn' anno divengono piu chiaro le fiamme inestinguibile di amore per te". Something that romantic needs to be said in Italian.

I remember sending the telegram from Glebe Post Office in Sydney. The postal clerk who took it looked very dubious about the whole thing.


Monday, January 13, 2020

A busy weekend -- not always in a good way


As I do most Fridays, I attended my usual skin clinic to get one of my skin cancers zapped.  This time there was one on my forehead that was feeling pesky so I requested a shave biopsy.  Because it looked ungood my obliging surgeon went a bit deep with the cut, which gave a greater bleeding problem.  She sizzled the wound well with diathermy, however so I went home just with a big dressing on my forehead

That night the wound bled. Fortunately the dressing contained most of the blood but I did get enough leakage to give me a gory forehead.  I looked a fright.  So I had to find a doctor to at least refresh the dressings and clean up dried blood.

Finding a doctor who works on Saturday morning is not easy but luckily the nearest practice from me did have a doctor working. I got an appointment for 8:45am. She had a very Greek surname so I expected someone who looked Greek.  She did not.  She was actually a dream walking: A trim figure including bosom, looked good in jeans and had a nice dusting of freckles on her fair skin. She assured me however that she is in fact Greek. I have come across fair Greeks before but it is unusual.

Anyway, she cleaned me up a bit and put a big new dressing on so I felt able to carry on. I was down to host a men's dinner the next evening so that was important.

So next morning Joe and I had our usual Sunday breakfast with me still looking rather bad.  Later that day, however, the dressing fell off, leaving just a little patch right over the wound. So later that morning I went to my usual medical practice -- which actually had two doctors working on a Sunday.  I was seen by a very brown Indian who was friendly and very obliging.  He allowed me to wash my face in a sink and stood by for the last of the dressings to come off.  He then put on a new and rather small dressing.  From that point on  I had a clean face and a civilized looking dressing on so I was confident of carrying out my hostly duties.

I cooked up one of my standbys, a chili con carne, using a whole kilo of mince plus a couple of tins of beans.  It worked well as usual -- assisted by certain sachets. We had it in my verandah, which always gets  breezes. We had tinned fruit and icecream for dessert.  JPH was rather amazed at our custom of cutting icecream.

There were five of us at the dinner -- our usual four plus JPH, a learned man but one with a lively sense of humor.  We all had good things to say about Mr Trump and deplored the antics of his critics.  We all know that Mr Trump has some rough edges but he probably needs that, considering the vast reforms he is tackling. He has virtually the whole of the Washington establishment criticizing and abusing him so you have to be very certain of yourself to remain undaunted by that.



Graham always brings something up from Victoria to add to the dinner and one of the things he brought this time was a box of of Coles assorted cracker biscuits.  It was a really good selection. Recommendable.  He also brought some "Timboon" craft whisky from near where he lives.  And that was really good too. It is actually a single malt



For show and tell, Graham brought a long a nightlatch cylinder which he had partially disassembled to show us how it works.  He is a qualified locksmith amid a myriad of other accomplishments so was also able to use it to show us how to pick a lock.  Joe took a considerable interest in that.  I have been doing amateur locksmithing since I was a kid so it's probably another example of like father, like son.

The conversation was wide ranging and vigorous. Graham and Chris had a lot to say and JPH had plenty of humorous interjections.  Joe and I were the quiet ones, relatively speaking.  I retired from the fray at about 9pm but Chris, Graham and JPH kicked on for about another hour.


Saturday, January 11, 2020

Some recent pix



A sweet little soul patiently waiting


First day at a new school


Happiness with new presents


A good looking gal with a fat guy


The cook

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The great sock chuckout


I am not quite sure how it happened but over the years I had accumulated 4 drawers full of sox.  People used to give me sox for birthdays and Christmases so that is part of the explanation but I guess I must have bought the rest of them myself for various now-forgotten reasons. I don't wear sox at all these days

Anyway, there were about 100 of them cluttering up my drawers so I resolved to get them down to one drawer,  So I spread them out on a table and picked out about a dozen to keep.  So what to do with the rest?

I tried to interest Joe in them but he walked right past them.  But Aristides came to the rescue, as he often does.  He is a regular sock wearer so picked out about half of them for HIS sock drawer.  The remainder are on the coffee table downstairs for any passer-by to take

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Soapbox Orator


An old friend reminded me recently that I had never put anything up about my time as a soapbox orator.  It was only ever an amusing pastime but here goes anyway:

In both Brisbane and Sydney I was during my student days a "soapbox orator". Soap is rather heavy stuff so boxes in which soap was once sold must have been sturdy wooden ones -- solid enough for people to stand on.

The term "soapbox orator" means a public speaker on eccentric subjects holding forth at a place set aside for that purpose to whatever audience he can attract -- generally on a Sunday afternoon. Centennial park used to be such a place in Brisbane and the Domain in Sydney has long been such a place. cf. Hyde Park Corner in London.

I started to go to Centennial Park on Sunday afternoons in Brisbane to listen, heckle and argue as there was so little else to do in Brisbane at that time in those days.


Doing some heckling on my way home from Army parade

As I had a loud voice and was verbally fluent I decided eventually to do a bit of speaking myself from time to time and I generally had a lot of fun with it for a couple of years. I spoke on a variety of subjects -- not usually seriously.


Speaking at Centennial prk

Webster was the soapbox star in those days but older Brisbane people might remember soapbox orator Ted Wixted (1927-2001) and his arguments against  the Virgin Birth. Ted had a good day job as a museum curator -- mainly concerned with Early aviators -- but did admit that angels appeared to him. He used to call me "Jeremy".


Wixted

When I moved to Sydney I also spoke a few times at the Domain but that was only in my first year in Sydney and was mostly in the company of Martyn Harper


Thursday, January 2, 2020

Just online: Ingeborg Hallstein goes to the dentist


With assistance of that natural born comic Ivan Rebroff



An hilarious operatic pastiche with quite a medley of favorite operatic arias.  Hallstein is as usual the ultimate female.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

New year's day


After all the excitement of the Christmas season, today reverted to routine

Anne and I went to the Gold Leaf for brekky about 8:30.  Anne had the vegan  brekky and I had my usual cheese burger

There was however a little drama when I went to the Buranda chemist to pick up some Firmagon.  I use it to control my prostate cancer.  The shop assistant was a pleasant little Chinese girl named Grace.  She spent about 20 minutes looking high and low for the product.  Eventually it was found exactly where it should have been -- among the dispensed prescriptions waiting to be collected.  Much embarrassment! I was in no hurry so I was merely amused

Anne went home about 10am bearing lots of leftovers from our various meals

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

New Year's eve


The day started out well with a trip to the Gold Leaf.  I had  and one of their excellent chunky steak pies plus an egg and lettuce sandwich.

Next stop was at Annerley Vinnies for a look-around.  I found in their costume jewellery cabinet a necklace of the sort that Anne likes so I bought it for her.  It was mostly red and very crafty-looking.  I seem to be able to pick what she likes and she was rather taken with that one.  I used to buy costume jewellery for Jill around 30 years ago too and she would wear it so I think I got her taste as well.

Paul and family flew out for Scotland that evening but I had said my goodbyes the night before so did not go out to see him off.

Anne and I had canapes at around 6pm -- consisting of Liptauer on Sesame wheat biscuits.

Most people do something special for the night and our version of that arond 7pm was a roast dinner featuring meatloaf.  I am something of a meatloaf tragic so always stock up when Woolworths or Aldi release one. There is usually one or two in my freezer.  I cooked the meatloaf and Anne did the vegies.  It went down well. We had Rosemount Traminer Riesling to wash it all down, a slightly sweet wine.

Later that night we had a Christmas pudding which I had got from Aldi. It was pre-cooked so took only one minute in the microwave to prepare it!  Modern times! It claimed to be a prize-winning Australian pudding and it was excellent, very rich.  We washed it down with brandied custard.  A perfect dessert. Odd that the pudding didn't have a brand name.  It was made in the Hunter Valley if that helps.

Anne flaked out and went to bed at 10pm.  I intended to stay up for midnight but I too flaked out early, at about 11pm.  The fireworks woke me up at midnight but not for long.  It was another rainy day but cleared in time for the fireworks.  No worries about bushfires in Brisbane.


Monday, December 30, 2019

A good Nando's


Our trips to Nando's usually have only 3 people,  Jenny, myself  and Joe.  Kate comes along sometimes.

But last night we had some welcome extras: Paul, Jess and Anne.  Paul likes our Nando meetings so tries to get along when he is in town. He came along this time despite flying out tomorrow.

Jess is Kate's sister but I had not previously seen much of her.  So tonight was something of a first.  So I was pleased to find that she is cheerful and good-humored:  Great assets.  She is also quite slim, which is another asset.  She teaches High School English.

Anne does not usually come to Nandos as it is our custom to dine together the day after. She didn't come to dine today either but just dropped in to grab the last chance of seeing Paul before he departed.  He greeted her warmly so that worked well

Earlier in the evening Anne had dined with one of her sons but she left early enough to drop in on our Nando's meeting.  Anne had a bad cold for the first half of December so had to postpone a lot of her socializing at that time and then Christmas got into gear so she was pretty frazzled by her many social activities by Sunday yesterday so was too zonked out do anything much.  So she missed the bon voyage dinner that Jenny put on for Paul and Susan yesterday. So she had not seen Paul at all this time around.

Paul did most of the talking as he usually does. We discussed the bushfires, Shakespeare, Brexit, John Ruskin and much else. Paul also did a remarkable job of eating up all the leftover chips so nothing was wasted.  He is regularly our human vacuum cleaner..

A photo of the gathering taken by Paul below. Note Joe's customary way of sitting.  I used to sit like that too. Too old and stiff now. Joe has also got himself a rather military haircut recently, though he has no military inclinations.



For a bigger pic, click here

Sunday, December 29, 2019

A last supper


This evening Jenny put on a dinner mainly aimed at giving Joe and me a last chance to talk to Paul and Susan before they depart for Scotland.  It was held in the BBQ area of her back yard but was not a BBQ.  Jenny and Susan had cooked up a delicious dinner in the kitchen.  It was a Mexican curry of their own devising with guacamole and rice.  It also included some of the leftover ham from Christmas day.

We always buy a large first class ham for Christmas. I have been shouting it as my contribution to the dinner for around 30 years now.  It is always the best ham of the year and we always have plenty of leftovers so it features in everybody's dinners for some days afterward.

We talked about many things but Ken's activities with the waterfall punchbowl on Christmas day were noted. We also noted the possibility that Timmy's wife Rachel is related to Nanna.  There is the unusual surname Cairns in both ancestries and a similar place of origin in Britain in both ancestries

Joe was an exemplar of good manners in not starting to eat his dinner until Susan had sat down.  The rest of us were more slack about that.  I think it is modern manners for someone to start if the hostess is taking a long time to sit down.  As soon as one person starts, others follow suit.

The kids were all present and Bambam had to be roared at a couple  of times, as was to be expected.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Liptauer spread


Anne stayed over for another night, so early on 28th we again braved the crowds at the Gold Leaf.  Anne had the Canadian breakfast. She went home about 10 am

As is often the case, we had got in more food for Christmas than we actually used so it was not only the ham that was left over.  Almost untouched was  a dish of Liptauer that Anne had made and brought over. Liptauer is ubiquitous in central Europe so in her travels there Anne had got a good idea of what Liptauer is all about and now makes a good version of it. It's readily available at delis in Sydney but as far as I know, Anne is the only source of it in Bribane.  So if you want to sample Liptauer here, you have to get to  know Anne.

So when it came to around 6pm, it was time for my dinner and the availability of Liptauer made itself felt.  I spread a thick coat of Liptauer plus some fresh tomato slices onto toast and had a mega-Yum dinner

There is a recipe for Liptauer here but Anne didn't get it quite right until she had been to Austria and Hungary and got the original idea of it.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Yummy leftovers


Anne stayed over so we went to the Gold Leaf again for breakfast. It was very busy so we had to wait a bit for our food.  Anne had Dim Sims.

After brekky we made a stop an the Annerley Vinnies and both came away with some new treasures.  The Annerley Vinnies seems to be particularly good for nice things

For lunch we had mainly leftover ham from Christmas day.  It was very good.

For dinner we polished off the leftover ham from Christmas day plus we had leftover cutlets from Boxing day. Anne made a good salad to go with it so we ate well