Tuesday, January 31, 2006

An aboriginal Sunday

This post will encourage Leftists to shriek "racist" and "Nazi" at me but they regularly shriek that at GWB and heaps of other conservatives so I am going to disregard such shrieks as devalued currency.

I grew up with Aborigines (Australian native blacks) in my class at school and I have seen plenty of them since -- particularly as a landlord (Yes. I HAVE let rooms and houses to them. Racists do that, you know) -- so I think I know a bit about them. And if you are looking for "cultural" differences, Aborigines must be as different from people of Northern European ancestry as you can get. And the reason why is that they were isolated in Australia from other populations for up to 60,000 years (on some estimates). So they evolved separately. And they evolved to suit Australia as it originally was. And the abilities they evolved -- particularly a remarkable capacity for observing and remembering minute details of the landscape -- do in some ways leave the rest of us for dead. In other ways, however, they are badly lacking in what is needed to fit into modern Western society -- a strikingly poor ability to plan ahead being their most obvious handicap. They very much "live for the day".

One thing I have always envied them is their ability to relax. They can sit around under a tree all day happily doing exactly nothing. I, however, am one of those instinctively hard-driving people who is genetically from the far North of the world. And the fact that, in my retirement, I post daily to seven blogs of my own and contribute frequently to four group blogs is, I think, some testimony to that. It is as hard for me to sit back and do nothing as it is easy for Aborigines. But yesterday I managed it. Just as Aborigines often do, I spent the whole day sitting around and doing practically nothing other than some intermittent chatting. Anne accompanied me in this experience, of course. She is probably more full of beans than I am these days, however, so she caved in first and shot off to do something at about 7pm. She spent many years as a remote-area nurse working with (and getting on with) Aborigines so knows them even better than I do. So she knew all about the model I had in mind when I said we were having an Aborigine day. She enjoyed it but she couldn't keep it up! Genetics will out.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Australia day today

Australia day is a national holiday. It commemorates the arrival in Australia of the first white settlers on 26 Jan., 1788. So I guess it is terribly politically incorrect these days. There is minimal criticism of it, however. My many relatives on my mother's side have for many years been celebrating it with a get-together over a BBQ. It is normally the one time of the year that we see one-another so it is nice to have that opportunity to keep in touch. There are usually about 20 of us. The children who were brought along by their parents many years ago still come -- now bringing their own children with them. And that of course is a great delight to us all.

My Burns Night last night was a great (if low-key) success. The cockaleekie soup, haggis, tatties, neeps and clootie dumpling were all first class. Pipe music was played, the haggis was properly addressed and favourite Burns poems were read. We were all a bit too old to hit the Scotch whisky too heavily, though.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Burns night

Monday was Anne's birthday and preparations also had to be made for Burns night on Wednesday (TODAY!) so I was busier than usual. At 9am I set out to track down and capture a haggis for Wednesday dinner. And it was in fact more of an expedition than I had expected. Being a lazy sod, I don't make my own haggis but get it off a very talented man who is both a master butcher and a brilliant pastrycook. Visiting his shop is always a great pleasure. His website is here.

I usually get to his shop by taking an exit off the freeway that leads straight to the shop but on Monday I discovered that the bureaucrats who know better what is good for us than we do ourselves had closed that exit off. So I spent half a nerve-frazzling hour trying to find an alternative route to the shop. I eventually succeeded more from luck than good management. And, Yes, I DID stop and ask for directions at a nearby service station but the young girl on duty there did not have a clue, not too surprisingly.

Anyway, I did finally get my haggis plus some clootie dumpling for dessert. I am marking the birthday of the poet in a very low-key way this year. No speeches etc. There will be just four of us at my place to share some haggis and probably read some of the poems. For those unfortunate souls who have never been to a proper Burns night, you can at least read about it here. My own previous post on it is here.

Anyway, on Monday night I took Anne to the Hilton for the smorgasbord. The Hilton smorgasbord is probably the dearest in town but the food is probably also the best -- including a big bucket of the incomparable Sydney rock-oysters in prime condition. I had bought Anne some white slacks (of a very un-slack kind) plus an embroidered white top for the occasion and she got into high heels for what she said was the first time in 40 years so she looked pretty good to me. For some inscrutable reason she seemed to think that I looked good in a blue shirt and grey slacks but there is no accounting for taste. Anyway, we people in our 60s can still have a lot of fun, surprising though that news might be to much younger people.

Monday, January 2, 2006

A new year begins

I am writing this in the wee small hours of 2006, my New Year's Eve celebrations having just concluded. Ann and I went to a social occasion earlier in the evening but we spent the last couple of hours of the old year in one-another's company only. As midnight approached we put on a tape of "Andy Stewart's Hogmanay". Even an ersatz Scottish New Year is better than no Scottish New Year! We greatly enjoyed it anyway. I have always loved the great old Scottish sentimental songs and Andy gave us a great selection of them. The Scots know who they are and what they are.