Old folk at lunch

Wednesday, December 1, 1999

MERRY XMAS 1999



This time last year, my son Joseph was 5'3" tall. By the time he turned 12 this year (in July) he was already 5'6". Perhaps I am easily pleased but I rather liked having a 5'6" tall 11-year old! He now towers over his 5'1" Nanna and is also much taller than Suzy -- one of his adult half-sisters. He is something of a premature teenager -- his voice has cracked already and he spends hours talking to his friends on the phone -- but he is still quite jocular and cheerful so I suspect that he will end up the gentle giant type.

He has been learning piano since he was 4 but is no virtuoso. He still seems to enjoy it, however, and claims he does "heaps" of practice. I am also pleased that I now have a son with his own email address: Josephray@hotmail.com. Perhaps that is the modern day coming of age rite.

He has now finished up at Greenslopes Primary School after three years there. He was Dux of his school in the English language attainment test again but was only in the top 30% Statewide so it is obviously a pretty undistinguished school. For next year we have had him accepted to do High School (year 8) at Clairvaux McKillop College -- a large Catholic school at Upper Mt. Gravatt. I don't know that St. Bernard of Clairvaux is a role model I much admire but Roman Catholic organizations these days seem to be more bureaucratic than theocratic so St Bernard will probably not rate much of a mention despite having the school named after him!

As private school fees go, the fees for Clairvaux are pretty reasonable -- at around $2000 all up per year. The school does however appear to have a good name and it suits Joey's religious convictions. I rather hope that he does not end up wearing a long black dress and putting the letters "S.J." after his name but you never know. I do at least like the intellectualism of the Society of Jesus and clerical celibacy will probably become optional with the next Pope. I was very religious in my teens and still ended up a thoroughgoing sinner so it is all very early days yet. I am betting on the attractions of sin, myself.

Joey was however -- at his own request -- confirmed into the Roman Catholic faith on 4th June. He was baptised only late last year. He greatly enjoyed his preparatory studies in the faith and is now probably more of a Catholic than many of those born to it. He tries to say grace before dinner etc but sometimes forgets -- He then describes himself as a "forgetful Catholic". We have assured him that there are many of those.

Even though we are both unbelievers, Jenny and I were delighted to arrange his confirmation for him as faith seems to have a valuable disciplinary and protective role in the difficult teenage years. If we said he could not be a Catholic and he turned to drugs instead we would never have forgiven ourselves, would we? His confirmation ceremony was something of a family occasion at St. Bernard's Church, Mt. Gravatt with those present being: Jenny, myself, his sister Suzy, his Nanna Lena, his Godmother Jill, his Godfather Prof. John Henningham, John Henningham's wife Helen and my then girlfriend Cheryl Jorgensen.

Judy and I had another one of our breakups early in the year and I met Cheryl in March. She is a flautist, a schoolteacher and a Communist, among other things. A genuine Red in the bed! She is multi-orgasmic and wears a D-cup bra, however, so that tended to make up for ideological eccentricities. We got very much involved for a few months but the relationship did not last. I of course tend towards the Tory persuasion, so that was a slight problem. We were both very keen on classical music, history and literature and Cheryl has in fact had some success as a writer of fiction.

After Cheryl, I restarted my affair with another old girlfriend -- Dorothy. Dorothy has a higher degree in psychology and actually is in private practice as a psychologist. She is also very tall, very slim and very busty -- an unusual but entirely desirable combination from my point of view. Dorothy is however always complaining about something. She is a neurotic. I tell her how destructive that is but she cannot seem to help it. Perhaps her being a Pom has something to do with it ("whingeing Poms"). I have certainly had happier ladies in my life but we have finally got to the stage where she is just a friend now, not a girlfriend.

In October I took a short trip to South Africa. I had got to know an Afrikaner lady called Hester -- a Classical pianist -- on the Internet and seemed to get on especially well with her. She lives in Bloemfontein so I went there to meet her in person. It was interesting and expensive but not a success from a romantic point of view -- which was a considerable disappointment to both of us. I guess that going half-way across the world to meet a lady was pretty romantic, though. For "romantic" read "foolhardy"? I was in South Africa in 1979 under Apartheid and it is notable how much it has now gone downhill under black rule. I sure know how to be politically incorrect, don't I?

Recently, however, Judy and I have started an affair again. We first met over two years ago and it seems to have taken that long for us to sort out our differences! Perhaps we are both a bit pig-headed. After all the girlfriends I have had in the last two years, it is nice to be back with someone familiar and the fact that Judy has a higher degree in the social sciences and a great figure does not hurt either! I am resolved this time to do all I can to make her a happy lady. She too was a Communist in her youth but now dislikes both Aborigines and the welfare state! She was once a nurse working among Aborigines so her views about them are at least well-informed.

Judy had fairly short hair when I first met her but she has since let it grow to well below shoulder length and all that long soft blonde hair is most attractive, in my view. Too bad if it's not fashionable! Why so many women crop their hair these days I do not know. Both the Bible (1 Corinthians 11:13,14) and the human race's oldest known literary work (the Epic of Gilgamesh) say that women should have long hair and men all seem to agree with that. I suspect that cropped hair is often in fact a sort of anti-man statement.

Two things that I go to regularly are the Westside Music Circle and the Friends of Antiquity. The Westside group arranges classical music concerts in private homes with live performers and the Friends are associated with the Department of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Queensland. They give an interesting talk each month on some topic in Roman or Greek history. The archeology of Pompeii and Latin Romantic poetry are two topics I particularly remember. I do not go to a lot of plays but Sheridan's "The Rivals" and Aristophanes' "Lysistrata" were fairly memorable this year. During Cathedrals week I also went to St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Cathedral to see a play based on the life of Hildegard von Bingen. It was actually a monologue but was very effective nonetheless. The best (most amusing) film I saw was without a doubt "Analyse This". It was about a psychologist who got tangled up with the New York "mob".

My favourite classical music concert venue is the Long Room at Brisbane's old Customs House. It is a magnificently restored and gracious old Victorian building and I seem to go there at least once a month. The building is now owned by the University of Queensland and it is their Music Department that puts on most of the concerts there. The Sunday morning ones are free.

I had only one bout of 'flu for a few days in midwinter but have been otherwise remarkably healthy during the year considering my idle lifestyle. I take no drugs or pills for my health at all. Even my blood-pressure is fine so I am unlikely to die of a heart attack. I did however do the right thing and had a scan during the year to see if I had any prostate problems. I was told that only 20% of men in my age-group have no prostatic enlargement but I am one of that happy 20%! The fact that I do not smoke, drink alcohol or use any psychoactive drugs (not even caffeine) may have helped there. It seems fair to me that wowsers should have better health!

I do however keep having to have skin cancers removed -- growing up in the Tropics was not a terribly good thing to do for someone with skin as fair as mine. So I may be pretty healthy but all that sun-damage has made me look even older than I am. When I was 55 people were telling me that I could easily pass for 60!

Business has been bad for me recently. My boarding house at Ipswich is not going at all well and is mostly more than half empty. All the defectives who live at Ipswich do not make a good customer base. They move in, steal from one-another, have drunken parties, fight with one-another and then move out again to get away from one another, leaving a mess behind. They are mostly on the dole and the first thing their dole money goes on is beer and cigarettes. From my experience at Ipswich, I would say that the poor are usually poor for good reasons. I have been trying to sell the boarding house for a while now but nobody seems to want to buy it. Funny that!

My ex-wife Jenny recently moved into a new house at Upper Mt Gravatt. She sold her old house for a lot more than the new one cost her so it was a good move financially and she likes the new house better anyway. It is also only a short walk from Joey's new school. It was cheap because its walls are made of fibro and anything with asbestos in it is mega politically incorrect these days, even though nobody even claims that fibro has ever hurt anyone. The new house has a big granny flat downstairs so Jenny's mother (Lena) has moved in -- which suits everybody. It gives Lena company and it helps to have someone keeping an eye on Joey after school while Jenny is at work. Jenny and I still normally dine together once a week.

Joey's speech has always been a bit unclear so we are going to have him "elocuted" next year. Elocution too is now politically incorrect and elocution teachers no longer appear in the Yellow Pages. They are now called "Speech and Drama" teachers. What a crazy world we live in! Thank goodness for friends and family.

Tuesday, July 20, 1999

56th birthday



Jill did of course help me to celebrate my 56th birthday. Jill, Lewis, Cheryl Jorgensen and I went to the Clansmen for dinner on the Thursday. Cheryl was not as ebullient as usual because we had just had a breakup but was still very sociable so it was a pleasant occasion. I wore full Highland dress (including my black Glengarry to walk in and out) and ordered the orange duckling, which was perfect. Lewis and I split the cost of the evening.

The next evening I dined with Dorothy Hallam at the University of Queensland Staff Club and on Saturday Jill shouted me a lunch at K&Ks -- an Austrian restaurant where I slightly overindulged on their delicious and very Germanic cakes.

On Sunday Jenny gave me a very nice lunch --with Nanna, Joe and Suzy also present. So my 56th birthday was good too.