Old folk at lunch

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

More free books



Joe has just recently taken a big carton of fiction to Vinnies for me so I am now starting the process of culling my non-fiction.  I am listing my throwouts here in case anybody reading this might be interested in taking some of them off my hands.  More than half of my offerings last time did walk out the door that way. Maybe not this time, though.  They are mostly historic books.

Aeschuylus:  Prometheus; suppliants; persians
A dictionary of Biblical traditions in English literature
Aristophanes: Lysisstrata; Clouds; Acharnians
Aristotle: Politics
Bagehot: English constitution
Boswell: The life of Johnson
Caesar: Conquest of Gaul
Cicero: Selected works
Clausewitz: On war
Early Christian writers
Friedman:  Free to choose
Great books: Montesquieu ; Rousseau
Great books: American State Papers; The Federalist; J.S. Mill
Great books: Machiavelli; Hobbes
Greek rudiments (Attic)
Harvard Classics: Homer (Odyssey)
Harvard Classics: Plato; Epictetus; Marcus Aurelius
Harvard Classics: Dante
Harvard Classics: Edmund Burke
Hebrew grammar
Homer: Odyssey
Homer: Iliad
Hume: Treatise of human nature
Machiavelli: Prince
Merriam Webster dictionary of American English (3 large volumes)
New Testament Greek
Plato - Republic
Plato: Socratic discourses
Plutarch: Makers of Rome
Plutarch: Lives of the noble Romans
Roman Readings
Sophocles: Electra
Sophocvles: Theban plays
Virgil: Aeneid
Xenophon: Persian expedition

Saturday, August 12, 2017

I am a poor thing


During the week, on Wednesday, I underwent plastic surgery to excise a couple of cancerous bits on my neck.  And despite my being in expert hands, surgery is never any fun.

Then I lost a filling from my remaining front tooth for having bitten down too hard on some black chocolate out of the fridge.  So I had to go in next day and get that fixed.  And dentistry is NEVER fun.  I remember a little rhyme from my childhod:

"Some pains are physical and some are mental, but the one that is both is definitely dental"

But a nice Han man put me back right the next day so I have no complaints. Long live the Han!

And then on Friday, Anne somehow dropped a large kitchen knife on my foot!  Which left me bleeding all over the kitchen floor until I could get to the bathroom and run the tap over it.  That did fix it but it did look bad at first.

Anyway, Anne got as much aggravation out of it as I did -- as she had to clean up the blood.  We had a good dinner of chicken Kiev anyway. Washed down with a bottle of (NZ) Oyster Bay Sauvignon blanc.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A busy Sunday


The basic reason why I make these personal notes is that I forget most of my life with great rapidity.  I seem to have forgotten at least 99% of my life.  So much so that I can have an enjoyable dinner with friends and relatives and not be able afterwards to remember one thing that we discussed.  If I make my note of the occasion within about an hour afterwards I can remember a bit but after that I am pretty sunk.

And that arose the morning after the dinner that I put on for Nanna's 93rd.  By the time I wrote the memoir of it I could remember little of the occasion.  So when Joe and I met for our usual Sunday brunch I asked him what he could remember.  He was pretty vague too but remembered that I talked to Kate about feminism being misleading to women and causing them to make unrealistic relationship decisions.  As Kate does have some feminist sympathies I was a little embarrassed as I probably seemed a bit of a bully.

Anyway, that led into Joe and I making feminism the main subject of our morning deliberations.  Although Joe and I have very similar views on most things political, I tend to be a bit more extreme than he is.  And on feminism, my views are well out of the mainstream: I think feminism is a low-grade mental illness.  That flows from the fact that the defining mark of mental illness is loss of reality contact. And a rather clear example of such loss is the central feminist claim that men and women are not really genetically different -- though, rather confusingly,  men are still the "enemy", the "patriarchy" or some such.

Joe argued for a more moderate view -- that feminism is just another example of Leftist devotion to the Marxist view that all men are equal. The American revolutionaries  thought that in a sort of a way too -- but they attributed the equality to exist only in God's poor vision. God apparently needs optometrical assistance.

And Joe is of course right to see feminism as just a branch of Leftism  -- but I think that belief in human equality is pretty deranged too.  But Joe has the probably correct view that the Left can see reality but just don't want to.  And various Freudian mechanisms such as denial, compartmentalization and projection enable them to serve that need.

Another thing I mentioned to Joe was that I had kept the receipts from the night before and that I was a little surprised to see that the bottle of Mawson Sauvignon blanc that I had bought on recommendation had cost me $26, where the shop price is $14.  That is of course routine for a restaurant but I had some vague recollection that clubs don't usually mark up so heavily.  The wine was however perfectly nice and I would buy it again.

And after most of the morning discussing heavy subjects, Anne and I had an afternoon outing. It was to celebrate a great Saxon occasion:  The first  successful break with Rome by Christians -- at the hands of Martin Luther and his King, Frederick, "the wise" of Saxony -- 500 years ago.

So together with Anne's sister June we went to a "Praise Fest" at St Paul's Presbyterian church in Spring Hill.  It is Brisbane's grandest Kirk. It is a large church but it was full of geriatrics for the occasion.  So Anne and I fitted in there.



The point of the occasion was to sing Protestant hymns, which must seem rather mad for Anne and me, seeing that neither of us  I are believers these days.  But we both enjoyed our time as Protestant Christians greatly, particularly the hymns. And we still sing them together at times. We even sing them in the bedroom, which is probably bizarre but neither of us care much about what others think.

I am obviously completely incapable of judging hymns as music objectively but I do enjoy them as much as I enjoy Bach and Mozart so maybe that means something.  Bach often based his chorales on hymns, of course.

Anyway, the occasion was rather disappointing to me.  It was put on by some teacher lady who could not resist the urge to teach.  So for about half the afternoon we got lectures about the history behind the hymns rather than just singing the hymns.  I would have preferred more hymns and a lot less talk. I wished to myself that she had followed the Biblical instruction:

"Let the women keep silent in the congregations. For it is not permitted for them to speak". -- 1 Corinthians 14:34, NW.  See also 1 Timothy 2:12 .

It is an amazement to me how alleged Christians pick and choose what to believe in the Bible.  They say the Bible is God's word but seem to think that they are capable of editing God. The same goes for homosexuality, despite 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1: 8-10, Romans 1:27 etc.

And the woman conducted the gathering as a service, with prayers etc.  But as far as I can gather she is not an ordained Presbyterian minister so that seemed impertinent to me. I suspect she is an attention-seeker.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

The birthday celebrations continue


On Monday, Jenny put on a dinner for Joe and myself at her place.  Joe's birthday and mine are only 5 days apart s celebrating both together makes sense.

Jenny made that great family favourite for dinner:  egg-rolled pork. It is a regional Korean dish and by far the best rissoles you have ever tasted.

Jenny also gave me a bottle of my favourite jam: Cumquat. It is not usually commercially available so is a great "craft" product.  I actually have a thriving cumquat tree in my front yard but its crop so far is too small to do much with.  Leaving the brilliant yellow fruit on the tree does however make the tree very attractive-looking.

Then today was my birthday offering for Joe.  Seeing this birthday is his 30th, I thought he should have a big family dinner at our favourite Indian restaurant.  Wisely, however, Joe is a pretty private person, so that did not appeal to him at all.  Instead he asked for just the two of us to go down to Wynnum for a sandwich lunch -- which we did.

I made four good sandwiches of 4 different types and guess what we had for drinks? A thermos of tea? coffee? beer? mineral water? -- or Joe's addiction -- flavoured milk?  No.  I took two cans of Coke. Joe drinks heaps of Coke and I also drink it at times so that's what we had.  Unpicnicy?  Probably.

Anyway, the tide was in, the day was fine and we found a fairly secluded seat overlooking the water. It was very pleasant.  And as usual we talked almost entirely about politics.

We even got into political history, with me updating Joe on some of the less-known facts about Abraham Lincoln, the Horace Greeley letter, for instance.  I also updated Joe on the economic reasons behind the uncivil war.  We got onto that topic because Joe asked about it. He recited a sarcastic parody of the Gettysburg address at one point.

I don't like upsetting Americans as they are mostly good people but they sure have been taught an incredible load of bull about their past.

Then tonight I put on a dinner for Nanna to celebrate her 93rd. Rather amazingly, she is still going pretty well at that age.  I took us to the Yeronga RSL, which has a very nice family atmosphere.  It was buffet night, which Nanna particularly likes. I think it is the best smorgasbord in Brisbane, as a matter of fact.  Joe and I just pigged out, as you would expect, and even Anne went back for seconds.  But I didn't overeat.  I still felt comfortable afterwards.

I discussed with Kate her Catholic background but very little of it seems to have remained in her head.  She comes from Canberra, where the real religion is Leftism. She was dressed nicely in a midnight blue outfit.

Joe didn't say much, as is his wont. He talks plenty one-to-one but doesn't like group conversations.  I don't either.

Jenny talked mainly about shopping.  She is an expert at that. I still get her to buy presents for me to give to others.  She does it far better than I would.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Griffo's "Pik a hot Pak"



About 55 years ago when I was about 20, I had a job selling transmission machinery from a shop in George St., Brisbane. It rather strangely had 3 names: Gearco, Irvine's and Munro Machinery. That is such a strange job for a literary type like me that I think I should say a few words about how I got that job.

There were not many jobs advertised in the local paper for experts in Middle-English poetry -- which is what I knew most about -- so with supreme optimism I applied for job as an engineering equipment salesman.

I was interviewed by Harry Beanham, who owned a chain of similar shops in other capital cities. I turned up for the interview in a green suit wearing a green fuzzy felt hat. That was not a good move. But Harry was a cautious man so he just asked me two questions which should have sent me on my way. He asked: What is a tap and what is a reamer? Being a country kid I answered both questions correctly. And if you think a tap is something you get water out of you don't know engineering machinery. Harry was so delighted to meet a kid who actually knew something that he gave me the job straight away.

And I vindicated his faith in me.  At one stage I made a big sale of diehead chasers  -- which are sort of complicated things.  Apparently none of Harry's other people were selling diehead chasers so Harry gathered together his whole stock of them and sent them up to Brisbane for me to sell.  In his mind I became the diehead chaser man.  Which actually served me well on a later occasion.  But that's another story.

Anyway, while I was working there in the shop, most people in the area seemed to know of a Greek cafe nearby called "Griffo's".  And people flocked there to buy a lunch called "Pik a hot pak".  It was yummy.  It was basically a toasted bacon & egg sandwich but with other stuff in it as well. At that time in my life I was busy saving money so my lunch was usually a cheese and pickle sandwich that I brought from home.  But the Griffo's product was so attractive that I did splash out on one at times.

Sadly, however, Griffo's eventually vanished, as so much does over the years. As one gets older, however, one does tend to reminisce about "the good ol' days" a lot and the memory of Griffo's came to me recently.  So I decided that I would try to recreate a "Pik a hot pak".  I am of course not sure how close I got to the original but the taste is at least pretty similar -- and super-yummy.

So what's in it?  The first constraint was that it had to contain pretty familiar ingredients.  Any "foreign muck" would not have been well received in Brisbane of that era.  So I used absolutely routine breakfast and lunch ingredients as I knew them at that time.  So it is something that any cafe would be able to put together for you to this day.

It is simply bacon, fried egg, cheese, sliced tomato and fried onion topped by a small dab of tomato sauce all piled together into an ordinary toasted white-bread sandwich and cut into four. My local cafe puts it together well for me and it's the best toasted sandwich I have ever had!  So some long overdue thanks to Griffo's.

Warning:  If you try it you could become addicted!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A week that was



Both Joe and I have birthdays in July so various activities were entered into by way of celebration.

Last Tuesday Anne made me a dinner at her place of corned beef fritters, which were absolutely perfect.  She makes such good fritters that I am making them my equal favourite dinner alongside French (lamb) cutlets.

Then on Friday Jill & Lewis accompanied Anne and myself to the Sunny Doll Japanese restaurant, where everybody agreed the food  was outstanding.  I had the curry, Anne had the Wagyu beef and Jill and Lewis both had the Teriyaki chicken Don. Japanese curry sounds an odd idea but Japanese curry is in fact as good as any.

After dinner we adjourned to my verandah to cut my birthday cake, a rich fruit cake with white icing. Joe and Kate came in for the cutting as well but had to go out after that so didn't stay for the coffee.

Then on the Saturday evening Anne came over and cooked me French Cutlets, which has long been our favourite dinner.  Anne also brought over Sydney rock oysters to start. Anne even got my candleabrum going for the occasion so we dined by candle-light. I opened one of my last three bottles of Barossa Pearl. I think it's a brilliant wine  -- slightly sweet, with a slight sparkle and quite fruity -- so it seems crazy that they have discontinued it.

Then on Sunday morning Joe and I had our  usual 9:30am  brunch together at the pie shop We talked (of course) about Mr Trump and politics generally.  Joe was a bit ill but was nonetheless in a good mood for conversation.  We didn't get home until about 11:45.

Then on Sunday night I arranged a secret men's business dinner on my verandah.  Ladies have lots of ladies' lunches so we men need to catch up.  I got my friend Graham up from down Melbourne way and both Joe and my brother also attended.  As well as being a most insightful psychologist, Graham is also an absolute guru in martial arts, Western and Eastern. So he very kindly brought up with him a big armoury of swords to show us.  They were blunted practice swords to avoid mishaps but were otherwise authentic.

He said the sabre is the best all-round sword. And he didn't think much of the katana (Japanese samurai sword).  He said that most Western swordsmen could defeat a Samurai.  I mentioned the Klewang to him, which has a record of outclassing a katana but he had not heard of it and said he would look into it.  I asked him about the Gladius but he said it was only useful in the Roman style of fighting behind big shields.

My brother is also a martial arts enthusiast so he and Graham had an interesting time discussing and practicing unarmed combat moves.  From some moves that he showed us it is clear that Graham could break someone's neck in a matter of seconds.  Luckily he is a peaceful and ethical soul so he is no danger to anyone but the baddest of baddies.  I certainly learnt a lot about both swords and unarmed combat.

Then on Monday night Joe and I were ready for our usual expedition to Nandos but went to the Sushi train instead as Joe needed to be in time to pick Kate up afterwards.  Sushi is the ultimate fast food

Monday, July 17, 2017

My expensive new watch


This is it:



It is a Braithwait slimline classic, selling for just over $200.

I actually bought mine from Target for $15 but it is exactly the same as the one above.  It is made in China and keeps perfect time.  My previous Chinese watch lasted for years until someone stole it.  And it kept perfect time too.

You might guess that I don't understand the expensive watch scene

I mentioned the matter to Anne's son Warren, who is an expert in expensive trinkets.  He sells them.  And he said that he personally preferred the very simple style such as is featured in my watch. Maybe he was just being polite but I also like the minimalist style in lots of things so I believe him.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The chuckout continues



I noted on 14th that I was throwing out my collection of (mostly) classical novels.  And I listed half of them as a first step.  At that time I held back all the books with nice bindings (hard covers, mostly gold lettering on spine) and a few others.  I found them a bit hard to let go. But I have discovered new strength from somewhere and am about to throw out my pretty books too.  I list them below for anyone interested.  My last list got 50% mopped up by readers of this blog and Joe has just boxed up and taken away the remainder.  So now on to step 2:


Asimov, I. Collection
Austen, J. Collected works
Australian writers collection: M. Franklin; H. Richardson; A. Gunn, R. Park
Boccaccio, G, Decameron
Boldrewood, R. Robbery under arms
Bronte, C. Jane Eyre
Cervantes, M. Don Quixote
Chesterton, G. Complete Father Brown
Conrad, J. Collection
Dickens, C. Tale of two cities
Dickens, C. Oliver Twist
Dickens, C. Great expectations
Dickens, C. The old curiosity shop
Doyle, A. Sherlock Holmes collection
Durrell, L. Alexandria quartet
Eliot, T. Cocktail party
Goldsmith, O. Vicar of Wakefield
Guareschi, G. Don Camillo omnibus
Guareschi, G. Comrade Don Camillo
Hawthorne, N. House of the seven gables
Hemingway, Islands in the stream
Herbert, F. Dune
Hughes, T. Tom brown's schooldays
Humphries, B. More please
Kipling, R. Kim
Kingsley, C.  Hereward the wake
Kingsley, C.  Westward ho
Lewis, S. The god seekers
Pepys. S. Diary selections
Priestley, J. Bright day
Richardson, H. The fortunes of Richard Mahony
Scott, W. The fair maid of Perth
Shaw, G. Complete plays
Simenon, G. Maigret and the madwoman
Simenon, G. Maigret hesitates
Simenon, G. Maigret's boyhood friend
Simenon, G. Maigret and the lazy burglar
Simenon, G. Maigret and the headless corpse
Sterne, L. Sentimental journey
Sterne, L. Tristram Shandy
Stevenson, R. Dr Jekyl & Mr Hyde
Stevenson, R. New Arabian nights
Stevenson, R. The Amateur emigrant
Stevenson, R. The wrong box
Stevenson, R. Kidnapped
Tolstoy, L.  War & peace (3 vols.)
Trollope, A. Collected novels
Wilde, O. Collected works


Next to go will be my "serious" books

Monday, June 19, 2017

My experience buying boots is the perfect example of why retail is declining



I originally wrote this for one of my political blogs but I think it has a place here too.  I sympathize with the woman's story below.  I have had experiences like this more or less forever.  It's worst of all in Britain but it crops up a lot in Australia too.  Computer shops are the worst -- I have written about them before --  but clothing shops can be bad too.  My most recent experience was from 28 August 2015, when I was trying to buy bespoke shoes.  My feet are a bit swollen due to a medical condition so regular shoes that fit me are hard to find.

So I went in to BFS Pedorthics in 128 Logan Rd, Woolloongabba  -- a specialist in bespoke shoes. Nobody was serving but I found a pair of shoes that suited me on the display and got out my $200+ to pay for them.  But nobody would acknowledge me.  The blonde receptionist was glued to her phone and when I went out the back nobody there wanted to help either.  So I went elsewhere and bought a suitable pair of shoes for $60.00.

So the blonde bitch saved me money but I felt sorry for the owner, a Mr Tye. So I wrote him the following letter:

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

This morning I made a special trip into your Logan Rd shop in order to buy a special type of shoe I need.  There was no-one to assist me but I did find a pair that seemed right.  They appeared to be over $200 but that was OK.

I could not however find anyone to take my money.  There was a young blonde there but she was glued to her phone and I could not unglue her.  I went out the back but no-one there was willing to help either

May I suggest that you train your workshop staff to handle customers if need be?

I also think that a customer who walks in should have priority over someone who just picks up a phone but that is for you to decide.  As it is you missed out on my $200+

I was offended by the lack of service that I received

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Was Mr Tye bothered by the fact that his receptionist took $200 out of his pocket?  Who knows?  He never replied.  The blonde probably intercepted the letter before he saw it. But I did what I could for the man anyway.


SOMEWHERE in the corporate headquarters of retailers, meetings are taking place.

Entire executive teams are seated around the boardroom table, laptops open, spreadsheets and sales charts as far as the eyes can see. No doubt the scent of caffeine permeates the air because everyone knows these meetings can be quite tiring.

The first slide comes up on to the wall and shows sales on a steady decline. Some of the stores this retailer operates have had days without making a single sale.

“It makes no sense,” opens the property development manager, “the shop is in an ideal location and the centre is really busy at the moment. There’s loads of passing traffic.”

“We have ample stock and the product range is up to the minute,” adds the planner.

“So why aren’t we selling any shoes?” wonders the sales manager.

It must be highly frustrating for this bunch of suits. They must be wondering why their businesses are not making money, and I know the answer.

Recently I went shopping with the express purpose of buying a pair of boots. I knew what I wanted; colour, style, price point — I had the whole thing sorted.

I was so confident in my pursuit I even wrangled my husband into joining me, there was going to be no endless dilly dallying, no hours spent browsing — just me and my credit card going into a shop and exiting with a pair of short-heeled, brown ankle boots.

The first store we went to didn’t have them. No drama, there is a shop across the way from them that seems to have an extensive collection of winter boots.

The fact that the stores are this close together doesn’t surprise me, I know the head honchos at headquarters like to position their stores in proximity for this very reason — if I don’t like what the first shop offers I am primed and ready for the next shop selling brown boots.

I enter the store and immediately see the boot I like. I also see the sales woman standing at the counter peering at her laptop. I take the shoe off the shelf and look to see what size it is. The saleswoman takes out a highlighter and starts to highlight things that are much more important than customers.

I walk over to her and ask her if she has the boots in my size. My husband asks her if she has a pair of socks that I can try them on with. She says no. It’s the only word she has said to us and we’re not sure if she’s saying no to the socks or the boots.

But then she reluctantly leaves her computer to retrieve the correctly sized boots which she thrusts at me before returning to her desk. I assume the no was for the socks. Clearly she is very busy and far too important to be selling shoes.

In fact she’s far too busy to serve customers. This I know because while I am trying on the boots two more customers enter the shop and she ignores them as well.

I’m not suggesting that the woman employed by the company to sell their products should fawn over me or tell me my feet look perfect in the boots. It’s just that the sale of product under her watch goes some way to paying her salary. Is it too much to expect her to assist the sale in some way?

Maybe she had really important documents to read and highlight, documents that couldn’t wait a single minute. But she lost my sale and the other two customers also walked out empty-handed.

Sadly she’s not alone in her refusal to sell the products she’s employed to shift, in fact she’s just one of the many people I encountered sitting behind their counters that day.

And before you blame Millennials or Generation X or any other group who you’d like to point at, let me assure you that the people refusing to help customers by actively avoiding contact with them, do not belong to one demographic or age group.

This is a retail issue. And with Amazon literally primed to enter the Australian marketplace and completely change the retail landscape surely it’s time for bricks and mortar businesses to step up the service a notch.

Somewhere in the race to be competing online it seems likes these businesses have forgotten to train their staff, or at least to incentivise them to do their jobs.

I eventually went online myself where I didn’t except any service other than an easy-to-load shopping cart. But I can’t help thinking about those people in head office who are wondering why their shoes aren’t being sold in their physical outlets.

It’s simply because no one is selling them.

SOURCE

Friday, June 16, 2017

Russian ladies and Slavic ladies generally



For many years I admired female persons from behind the Iron Curtain.  The curtain is now gone but Russian ladies still make waves in the West. Most billionaires seem to have one.  Czech ladies are pretty good too.  Mind you, I have always been particularly impressed by the gorgeous ladies of Poland

A friend of mine from Poland -- Janusz -- related to me that when he would be walking along a street in Poland, you would often see a lady so attractive that you would just stop watch her go by.  That had never happened to him in Australia.   Despite being loyal to my own ethnic group, I did have some idea of what he meant.  I have met some gorgeous Polish ladies in Australia.

I have however arrived at old age without experiencing an Eastern European lady in my life but I am content

However, it so happens that there are TWO Russian ladies I see occasionally. They are just friends but very bright and lively ones of my own vintage.  And, like ALL Russians abroad that I know of, they have praise for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.  And I do too.  He attends his Russian Orthodox church,  slaughters Jihadis and tries to point out that Russia should be respected as the world's biggest country -- stretching from Vladivostok in the Pacific right across the Eurasian continent to Petersburg in the Baltic.  Even aside from their beautiful ladies, Russians have much to be proud of.





Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Curry, books and a birthday



My week started out well. Joe is in Sydney so on Monday I cooked up an Achar Gosht Keema for Kate and Jenny. That's curried mince in plain English.  I got a packet of Achar Gosht masala (curry powder) from an Indian shop and tipped the whole of it into 500g of semi-fatty mince plus a can of tomatoes and some celery.  And the result was quite tasty.  We had it with rice, raita and chutney.  You need a bit of fat in a curry to carry the flavour.

My post about books I was giving away had by that time attracted some interest.  Jenny saw some she wanted and even Kate picked up some she felt she should have read but had not yet done so. I think "1984" was one of them.

Ken is a great bibliophile so he came over after dinner at about 8pm with a long list of the books he wanted.  I made him wait until the ladies had taken their pick however.  But both ladies were very gracious and offered to give Ken one or two from their selection if Ken was really after it.  Ken did take up that offer for an anthology of an author he liked. Having nice ladies in your life is a great boon

And Jenny had just acquired a second-hand cat so she showed Kate pictures of it and they had a very lively discussion about cats.  Kate is a cat lady.

So it was quite a jolly evening

Then on Tuesday it was a dinner at Anne's place in honour of sister June's birthday.  So as well as Anne and me, June and Ralph were along.  June and Ralph both live in the same oldie establishment and Ralph is the 84-year-old widower of Merle, the deceased sister of Anne and June.  I like Ralph.

Anne did well with the dinner.  She served up pieces of prawn on Jatz for canapes, followed by a very tasty casserole with mashed sweet potato plus greens.  June brought along some very good apple crumble that she had made and I contributed a bottle of Henkel Trocken, a German "champagne" that Anne particularly likes.

June is a rather cheerful person and I stir things up so the conversation flowed.

Then today I saw Dr. Cockburn about my latest excision.  And we agreed that it had gone well.  So for the first time since March 1st I now have no surgical dressings on me


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Books, books, books



Like all academics I know, I have always collected books.  I even read most of them.  When I was a kid I used to read two or three kids' books a week until I had read everything from that collection in the local library.  At that point they reluctantly gave me access to the main collection, from which I read a lot of history, mainly.

And when I got my first job I spent part of my earnings on BUYING books.  I remember the first such I bought:  A collection of Plato's Socratic dialogues:  Unusual reading matter for a teenager in a small Australian country town but it probably tells you what I am.  And most of my reading from then on was in history and philosophy, plus most of the classical Greek canon.

I moved around a fair bit in my early life and books are a huge anchor when you do that so every time I moved I would give away half of my books.  So my book collection got steadily whittled down to the books I most particularly liked -- mostly classic novels and various reference books.

And now I have arrived at a new time in life -- where books are mostly obsolete.  Whatever people read these days, they mostly read it off a screen --  online or on Kindle.  Even I do that.  Even when I have a relevant reference book, I don't use it.  I just Google it and read online the bit I want.

So I have come to the sad conclusion that it is time to give half of my novels away.  I don't want to dissociate myself from them completely, however. So I have decided to list below the books I am abandoning:


Andrews, J.  Shamela
Asimov, I. Banquets of the black widowers
Braine, J.  Room at the top
Brickhill, P.  Reach for the sky
Bronte, C.  Wuthering Heights
Burroughs, E. Tarzan, Lord of the jungle
Butler, S. Erewhon
Caldwell, A. God's little acre
Capote, T. Breakfast at Tiffany's
Chesterton, G. The club of queer trades
Clarke, A. Cradle
Collins, T. Such is life
Conrad, J. Heart of darkness
Cooper, J. The last of the Mohicans
Defoe, D. Journal of the plague year
Dickens, C. Pickwick papers
Dickens, C.  David Copperfield
Dostoyevsky, F. Crime and punishment
Doyle, A. A study in scarlet and The sign of four
Doyle, A. Great stories
Dumas, A. The three musketeers
Dumas, A.  The black tulip
Eco, U. The name of the rose
Eliot, G. The mill on the floss
Eliot, G. Silas Marner
Faulkner, W.  Absalom, Absalom
Faulkner, W.  The sound and the fury
Fielding, H.  Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. The last tycoon
Forster, E. Room with a view
Forster, E. A passage to India
Gray, Z. The call of the canyon
Haggard, H. King Solomon's mines
Hardy, T.  The return of the native
Hawthorne, N. The scarlet letter
Heller, J. Catch 22
Hugo, V. Les Miserables
Hugo, V.  The hunchback of Notre Dame
James, H. The ambassadors
James, H. Short stories
Lawrence, D. Sons and lovers
Lawrence, D. Lady Chatterley' lover
Lawrence, D. The Prussian officer
Lawrence, D.  Three novellas
Lawrence, D.  Women in love
Lawrence, D.  The rainbow
Lawson, H. Joe Wilson's mates
Lewis, S. The God-seeker
Mackenzie, C.  Rockets galore
Mann, T. Death in Venice
Marlowe, C.  The tragedy of Dr. Faustus
Maugham, W. Of human bondage
Maugham, W. Points of view
Maugham, W. Painted veil
Meyer, N.  The seven percent solution
Moravia, A. Roman tales
Orczy, B. The scarlet Pimpernel
Orwell, G. Animal farm
Orwell, G. Coming up for air
Orwell, G. A clergyman's daughter
Powell, A. Hearing secret harmonies
Powell, A. Valley of bones
Rand, A.  The early Ayn Rand
Rand, A. Fountainhead
Reade, C. The cloister and the hearth
Richardson, H.  Maurice Guest
Richardson, S. Pamela
Roth, P.  Portnoy's complaint
Scott, W. Waverley
Scott, W. Quentin Durward
Shelley, M. Frankenstein
Simenon, G. Maigret stonewalled
Simenon, G. Third omnibus
Smollet, T. The expedition of Humphry Clinker
Steinbeck, J. Grapes of wrath
Stevenson, R. The master of Ballantrae
Swift, J. Gulliver's travels
Thackeray, W.  Henry Esmond
Thackeray, W.  Vanity Fair
Thackeray, W.  Barry Lyndon
Thoreau, H. Walden
Tolstoy, L. Anna Karenin
Warren, R.  All the king's men
Waugh, A. Path of dalliance
Waugh, A. Who are the violets now?
Waugh, A. Consider the lilies
Waugh, E. Scoop
Waugh, E. A handful of dust
Wells, H. Short stories
Wells, H. Tono Bungay
Wells, H. The war of the worlds
West, M. The shoes of the fisherman
Woolf, V.  Moments of being
Yates, D. Blood Royal
Young, F. Dr. Bramley remembers

I am pretty sure that people can access copies of all those books online.  I have kept the more recent ones that may not be online. If anybody would like a book above and can collect it, be my guest.  I won't be taking any of them to the charity shop for maybe a week.



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Travel



As I see it, there are three groups of travellers: Young people who are seeing the world before they settle down,  People on higher incomes who can afford to go overseas at least once a year and people on average incomes who can't afford to travel much but who save up for the BIG TRIP when they retire.  And with the price of cruising way down, people in the latter category are finding that they can afford several trips instead of just one big one.

In my 30's I was getting good money as a university lecturer so I went overseas a lot and saw just about all I wanted to see.  So these days I prefer the comforts of home to the hassle of travel.

But now that she has retired Anne is making up for lost time.  She travels quite a lot both in Australia and overseas.  She is at present on a guided tour through the Top End.  She likes art galleries in particular so there is a picture of a happy Anne at Darwin Art Gallery below.


She looks like she has found an "Aboriginal" car door there. We both like Aboriginal art but there is no telling how much of it is actually done by Aborigines these days.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

IN MEMORIAM: CHRIS BRAND


The last 12 hours have been very tearful for me. After a long battle, Chris Brand has just passed away.  Chris and I were born on opposite parts of the world but we could well have been twins. We were the same age, we both had a classical education (though Chris acquired his in  circumstances much more distinguished than mine) and both of us were very self-confident and independent and thought very similarly.  To defy all the nonsense that is taught in our society we had to be very self-confident and independent.  Both Chris and I waged an unrelenting war on political correctness.

Sadly, I never met Chris in person but I am pleased I had a proxy with him up to the end. My stepson Paul and I had always got on exceptionally well.  Paul too is very independent and there was a time in his teens and early 20s when I was the only person Paul would listen to if any kind of advice was being offered.  So when Paul moved to Edinburgh for business reasons I was greatly pleased that I could send him a friend very much like myself.  And Paul did indeed develop a great friendship with Chris.

Something that upsets me about Chris's death is that I could have prevented it if I had known earlier what I know now.  He died in an NHS (government) hospital of hospital-borne infections. He got one after another, progressively weakening him until he had nothing left to fight with.  NHS hospitals are riddled with hospital borne infections and Scottish NHS hospitals are said to be worse even than English ones.  Private British hospitals are however usually free of such infections.  With the benefit of hindsight I would have asked Paul to put Chris in a private hospital very early on.  I could have funded it and he would be with us today.

Curse and goddam the NHS!

It is however a comfort that Chris's wife, Dr. Shiou-Yun Fang [nataliasyfang1974@gmail.com] sat with him to the end.  Perhaps in deference to a Chinese custom she even sat with him for some time after he died.  She is from Taiwan and is a distinguished art historian. Those who enjoyed Chris's thoughts in life may wish to comfort her in her great loss by sending her your condolences and prayers and recollections of Chris's wisdom. I will leave his blog in place for as long as Google permits it. It is IQ & PC.

UPDATE:  Joe and I had a small "wake" after dinner for Chris. It consisted of Scotch and Coke plus a cake that Joe chose from Woolworths:  A "White mud" cake. White mud sounds pretty strange but it was a nice cake. Joe met Chris a couple of times when he was in Scotland and was favourably impressed by him.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A non-Mother's day weekend


My mother is deceased so I was uninvolved with the festivities.  But things happened anyway.

Anne came over on Friday with a firm request for Japanese food so we repaired to the Sunny Doll.  I had omurice as I often do and Anne had three courses: Tempura vegetables, Gyoza and Yakitori lamb.  I did "help" with all 3 of her courses.  The restaurant is next door to Woolworths so we afterwards went looking for things we "needed" there. Anne put a packet of white tea -- whatever that might be --  into my shopping basket and we also got some Pancetta.

Then on Saturday morning we filled up my $8 Aldi thermos and went in the Toyota to Muzza's to get pies.  I got steak, tomato and onion as I usually do and Anne ordered steak & mushroom.  We then took pies and thermos to Orleigh Park for a breakfast beside the river.  It was raining a bit but we found a shelter.  Rather surprisingly, the thermos worked well enough.  I once had a thermos that was actually made by Thermos!  Can't remember what happened to it

On Saturday night the Pancetta came into its own.  I used it as a base for some yummy sandwiches. I make a good sandwich so Anne chose that for supper.

Sunday morning was a bit different.  Joe could not join me for breakfast as he was shouting his mother a breakfast.  I suppose I could have come along but I thought they deserved some interrupted mother-son chats on mother's day. So I went into Stones Corner for breakfast instead.  I had a Tandoori chicken bagel, which was good but surprisingly large. That night, however, Joe and I together dined at Guzman y Gomez -- on Burritos.

Then on Monday night I shouted another Nando's visit, with Jenny and Joe coming along but without Kate as she had to work late.  Jenny and Joe had a lot of discussion about Joe's present search for a new job.  She warned him about various pitfalls in job advertisements.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Wine talk


Wine talk is a lot of fun.  It describes things that mostly reside in the talker's imagination.  Dan Murphy's have an advertisement that describes a wine originating in the Adelaide hills as follows:

Picked at night to preserve the nose of tropical fruit flavours of passionfruit, guava and pineapple with classic gooseberry for good measure. The grapefruit and citrus palate is fresh and lively with a clean finish. The hint is in the name as this is a perfect wine for a light lunch or al fresco dining.

Tropical fruit in Adelaide?  Pineapples and Guavas?  I ate a lot of guavas in my tropical childhood but I have  never seen them anywhere South of the tropics.  I am slightly surprised that the writer has even heard of Guavas.  I can still taste them when I think about it.  It is certainly a very pleasant  taste but unlike any other. Unlike the wine writer, I won't presume to describe it


Monday, May 8, 2017

Secret men's business and a last supper



Anne came over on Friday and we had one of Muzza's excellent family steak pies for dinner, with salad.

Then on Saturday morning we set off for a picnic breakfast.  I made chicken & mayonnaise sandwiches, filled up the thermos and we Humbered out to Wynnum.  Win with Wynnum!  Before we left I said there was no need to take picnic things as I keep a picnic basket permanently in the car.  And I do.  In the Toyota.  But we arrived at Wynnum in the Humber.  Embarrassment! But the sandwiches went down well. I make a good sandwich! And it was nice sitting beside the seaside in one of the shelters at Wynnum North.  To make up for the missing tea, I took Anne to the Phams for coffee and cakes -- where we had some excellent apple and apricot crumble.

Then Sunday night was secret men's business again.  I had Jason over for dinner. And Joe came too. I cooked us up one of my versions of chili con carne which turned out quite well.  I used my secret ingredient:  A Masterfoods flavour sachet!  I probably put a bit too much water in with the meat and beans so there was quite a lot of juice left in the pan when dinner was over.  So I poured that off into a bowl and put it in the fridge.  So it became a very tasty Gazpacho (cold soup).

Then after dinner on the verandah we cleared the dishes away and out came the computers instead. We brought out my old XP machine and an Amiga 500. Joe had bought a card for the XP which enabled file transfers between an IBM and an Amiga hard drive. There are not many Amiga hard drives around but I got a 50 meg one years ago and filled it up with games and other Amiga software.

So the task of the day was to get the new card working.  It took some doing but Jason was a tower of strength in the matter, as he always is in computer matters.  So he and Joe did get the new system working.  Files were transferred! Some other problems did arise however so another night of secret men's business is on the cards.  Neither Anne nor Kate came to the dinner part of the evening, though they were invited. Being shooed away after the dinner in favour of computers would not have been good for female self-esteem.  Kate and I are agreed that computers are Joe's first love so she is a Trojan to cope with that.

Then on Monday night was a sort of last supper for Suz and Russell.  They have packed up their house ready for their emigration to the shaky isles so are spending  the time between now and when they fly out staying for a few days with various friends.  On Monday they were staying at Jenny's place.  So for dinner that night, Jenny and I decided to make it a champagne and pizza occasion for the emigrants plus Joe, myself and Kate.

We had quite a jolly time with lively talk about all sorts of things plus some fun photo taking.  Dusty and Sahara were pretty wound up so I had a bit of fun  playing with them.  Kate very patiently let Sahara play with her hair. So it was a good farewell dinner.



Monday, May 1, 2017

A busy weekend


I had some big bits of chicken schnitzel that I had got off Woolworths which had been done with some sort of savoury crumbs -- so I was interested to try them.  So when Anne came over on Friday night (28th), I got her to fry them up.  I supplied a basic salad and bread rolls.  And the "enhanced" crumbs were in fact quite good.  We had a bottle of "Dopf" Alsatian wine to go with them.

Anne stayed over but because we were going to a lunch later in the day we had a light breakfast at home the next day -- croissants plus leftover salad from the night before.  I am rather eccentric in what I put on croissants so this time I opened a bottle of old-time Peck's Anchovette.  It still tasted good.  Anne had some French blackberry jam on hers.

Then at 11am Joe drove us all over to Suzs's place for a farewell lunch.  Suz and Russ emigrate to NZ soon.  There were plenty of dips on the table and I contributed a small but very fruity fruit cake.  I sampled the dips extensively.  I talked to Russ about how cold he would find it in Invercargill but he was resigned to it.  They both have good job prospects there, apparently.  For lunch Russ cooked us up some excellent sausages on his big Italian BBQ, as he usually does.

George and Jenny were late arrivals and I had quite of lot of chats with George.  He always has something interesting to say. George is a civil engineer, in both senses of the term "civil" and he told us things about his work that were surprising -- like the problem of an undotted line on a road. I was also impressed to hear that one of his daughters has just completed her Ph.D. studies -- in taxonomy, of all things.  I would have imagined that 99% of taxonomy was old history now.  No.  Taxonomy has nothing to do with either taxis or tax.

After a big lunch, Anne and I felt like something a bit light for supper so we got out some more Moroccan vegie burger patties from my freezer and I cut up an onion to have with them. Anne fried both up and with a slice of bread they made quite a good simple meal.

Then on Sunday morning, Joe and I had our usual Sunday brunch at the pie shop together, and for around 2 hours we talked solid politics -- with particular enjoyment of Mr Trump, of course. Wotta guy!  He is the ultimate norm violator.

And on Monday night I shouted Joe and Kate a dinner at Nando's, a place Joe likes.  They had the paella and I had half a chicken and chips. We discussed jobs a bit as Kate has just got a good one and Joe has handed in his resignation from his present job. Joe gets a lot of attention from recruiters because of his high  IT skills and it looks like his next job might be at a much increased salary.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

An interesting Sunday


First order of the day was a lunch for Suz's birthday held at Suz and Russell's place and catered by Jenny.  I was uncomfortable with Jenny bearing the full cost of the catering so I gave her some money in advance to help with that.

Joe was on his way back from a job in China at the time of the lunch so could not attend.  He arrived at the airport at 2pm. So Jenny picked up Kate and me from our place and drove us and Nanna out to Mt. Cotton.

Jenny had catered very well and included some South African sosaties in the lunch, which was much appreciated by me.  She also did a cheese board afterwards.  Russell of course cooked up all the kebabs and sausages on his big BBQ.  He does that well.

I spent most of the time talking to Ken. We of course talked about Mr Trump and I predicted that Mr Trump will mount an all-out conventional attack on all North Korean military facilities.  I also mentioned to Ken that I was intending to do a bit of cruising to please Anne, who is very keen on travel.  So I asked Ken for all his cruise ship hints.  He has done heaps of cruising so gave me a lot of useful hints and really put me in the picture.

Jenny delivered us back to my place at 5 to 3, which was just in time for the arrival of a guest: Graham R. He arrived 5 minutes later.

I had arranged to cook a Sunday dinner that night for Joe and my brother Christopher partly because I felt a bit bad that I rarely see my brother even though he lives only ten minutes drive away.  He is the perfect brother and shares most of my political views.  We both enjoy Mr Trump greatly. And having arranged that, I also saw it as a good opportunity for Joe and Christopher to get to see more of one another.  So a Sunday date that suited both Joe and Christopher was arranged.

Noting that it would be a meeting of three very conservative people, it occurred to me that the other person I know who is in a similar ideological space should join us.  So I emailed Graham down in Victoria that I would shout him the airfare if he could make it to our dinner.  Fortunately he could make it. He flew from Melbourne to Brisbane for a dinner!  So it was he who arrived at 3pm. Joe was still a bit jet-lagged so joined us at 6pm for the dinner but retired early. I cooked savoury mince and noodles for us all.

I made the dinner for men only as women often get together over ladies' lunches etc so I thought a men-only dinner might balance that.  The conversations in mixed sex gatherings tend to be different from those in single sex gatherings so I thought there should be provision for both.  So I proclaimed the dinner to be about "secret men's business", in a nod to Aboriginal customs.

It turned out that Graham actually had more in common with Christopher than he did with me.  Both have been very keen martial arts exponents in their day so had a lot to say about that.  We  agreed that martial arts people are probably mostly conservative.  So the conversation stretched well beyond Mr Trump, though his possible moves in North Korea were of course discussed. Another thing we discussed a lot was the old days. Old people do a lot of that and even though he is a mere youth in his '50s Graham had some interesting things to say about that.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wotta day Tuesday was



At breakfast time around 9:30 I popped into the local medical practice to see if the patholgy report on my ankle that I had asked for last week had arrived.  It had so I arranged for it to be copied to my specialist.

Joe had arrived from Canberra late the night before looking bleary but he must have got a good night's sleep because he didn't pop out until around 10:30am.

I had my appointment with the specialist at 11:30 and he gave me the joyous news that I had defeated the pseudomonas in the wound on my ankle. So gradual healing will now take place.  Pseudomonas does however sometimes come back so I will be watching for that.

My good immune system would have contributed to the eradication of the bacterium.  Some people cannot defeat it and have to have their limbs cut off to stop it spreading.  I was not looking forward to that possibility.  I am rather attached to my left leg, even if it is a bit swollen at the moment.

To celebrate the good news I went to Muzza's pies in Coorparoo and bought myself a tomato & onion pie and a lemon slice -- at around 12 noon.  Both were most enjoyed.

Then at around 12:30 Joe popped in looking very chipper.  He asked if I wanted to join him for lunch at Hungry Jack's.  They must have a bargain going at Hungry Jack's.  But I had already lunched so declined with regret.

His flight to China took off at 4pm.  A work visit only.

Then that night to celebrate a memorable day I went and got Anne and myself fish n chips from her local Greeks.   It is beautifully done there and is one of our favourite meals.  We had it with one of my remaining bottles of Barossa Pearl.  I think I qualify as a real Ocker if I celebrate with meat pies, fish n chips and Barossa Pearl.  Humble food but it is my ethnic food.

Kate and her mother arrived from Canberra about 11:00pm and I told Kate that the cats had been asking after their mother. She took me seriously and said they are probably just hungry -- which was a very motherly response. I shouldn't joke so much.

I eventually conked out after only one and a half gins and even missed my late night snack. Being wound up during the day must have tired me out.  If I had kept awake long enough, I would of course have concluded my celebrations with a late night feast of Vegemite on toast.



Monday, April 17, 2017

A self-indulgent Easter


My Easter did have a touch of holiness but mostly it did not.  I will say something about that anon.

Anne came over on the Thursday afternoon and for dinner we cooked up some skinless sausages I got from Woolworths.  They have little wooden handles on them but that is just a gimmick.  I made a Waldorf salad to go with them and I really enjoyed them.

On Friday morning Anne made me a bowl of porridge, which I always like, and she had some red pawpaw she had brought over.  After that we had hot cross buns.  After breakfast I took us first for a sit by the river at Orleigh Park and then drove us up to Mt Gravatt to take in the view there.  The council have built a nice kiosk there but it was not open.  It rarely is.  It is run by a charity, The Hope Foundation and appears to have unmotivated beneficiaries staffing it.

Coming down Shire Rd from the mountain, there is a Red Rooster shop on the corner of Logan Rd so we stopped there for an early lunch.  I had a quarter chicken and chips, which was very succulent, and Anne had fish n chips, which was quite passable.  Anne is not a Catholic but she was married to one for many years so she has acquired the habit of not eating meat on Friday.  So that night I produced some Moroccan vegieburgers for her. With leftover salad they went down well enough.

That night was our holy observance, though it was not really a church service.  We went to St John's cathedral for a concert performance of Bach's Matthew Passion. There was a big choir and the orchestra included four celli.  Add that to the brilliance of sound given by the soaring stone arches of St John's and we got repeatedly excellent choral music.  The many chorales of the Matthew Passion are its great strength.  There was one disappointment, however.  The young baritone messed up my favourite aria from the work: Mache dich mein Herze rein.  His diction and phrasing were terrible.  He clearly had no idea of the rules of German pronunciation, which is slack if you are into classical music.

Anne's sister June drove us there so we had coffee and Anzac biscuits on my veranda after the show.  The concert took about 3 hours so there was a rush to the toilets when we got home. Elderly bladders.

On Saturday morning Anne and I took ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches up to the rotunda on Highgate Hill.  I made them fairly thick so one sandwich each was enough for us.  From there we visited the Buranda shopping centre to see what was open and found the Phams closed.  So we went over the road to the Cafe Essence for coffee and cakes.  I had a small lemon tart and Anne had a caramel slice.  That night we just had leftovers, with salad, which were pretty good.

On Sunday morning we had Vegemite toast, which I greatly enjoyed.  Vegemite is gourmet food to me. Followed by Easter eggs.  Anne then went off on family visiting.  For dinner I cooked myself up a big lot of bacon n eggs.

I intended to have toast with it but found I was out of butter.  But I had cooked the bacon in a mix of olive oil and peanut oil and the bacon gave off grease too.  So I tipped the juices out of the pan onto my toast.  And that made a very good alternative to butter.  I had read that in the Mediterranean countries they tip oil on their bread so I learned from that.

Then on Monday night I had bought some big pork mid-loin chops.  So Jenny cooked them up for us.  Jenny recommended red cabbage pickles to go with them which did work well.

So that was a very pleasant Easter.