Monday, June 25, 2012

Jenny's 60th

I had promised Jenny a slap-up dinner or lunch to help her cope with turning 60 but was unfortunately hospitalized when the big day came around. Though George did the honours for her. Thanks, George!

So we had the lunch today instead. We went to the smorgasbord lunch at the Sofitel -- which included unlimited champagne.

That was Paul's undoing. He always on principle eats everything in sight at a smorgasbord but he was unwise enough to extend that to the champagne. He ended up a rather ill lad when he got home later on. Knowing Paul, however, I think we all had a bit of a laugh about that. He might learn that free wine and free food have to be handled differently.

Susan didn't drink at all and acted as our chauffeur so we had not only a glamorous driver to take us all home in the Tarago but a sober one! Thanks, Susan!

Present were Jenny, Nanna, Paul, Susan, Anne, myself and Matthew. Matthew was very good -- he just sat there in his high chair for the full 2 hours. I had envisaged chasing him all around the Sofitel but it didn't happen.

The Sofitel clearly has the best smorgasbord in Brisbane so we were all happy with the food. I had a lot of smoked salmon and Paul had an enormous plate of natural oysters. So many oysters plus lots of champagne were a definite warning of doom but Paul heeded no warnings, as usual.

We talked a bit about getting Matthew into Eton and I had some advice about handling the interview -- which amounted to letting Susan do the talking. Knowing Paul's verbosity, we all found that amusing but even Paul agreed that that would be the best policy.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Another dosa lunch

Paul, Susan and their little caveman came over for lunch today. We managed to get dosas as takeaways this time so we could have them in a more peaceful environment at home -- though Matthew kept us all on the hop.

Susan did the honours of fetching our takeaways as she usually does and we were quite pleased that we could get dosas as takeaways as we are all very fond of them at the moment.

While Susan was away I talked to Paul a bit about self-presentation -- how it is fine to be ambitious and have high standards but admit that only to the closest people in your life. It's rather mad but people think much more highly of you if you talk about your failures rather than your successes. So we went over all that sort of thing in some detail and Paul seemed to get something out of it.

And when Susan arived back with the dosas we mainly talked about the latest developments with my will. The laws keep changing so I have had to make various changes to keep up with that. But there are lots of details to consider so the more I discuss it with the people involved the better understanding everyone should have of what is intended.

So we had some interesting chats to go with our dosas.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A blast from the past

I was going through some old papers when I found the photo below -- showing me in rather unusual company. I am the guy in the back row with the black glasses. I had more hair then. As you can see, the photo was taken in 1970.

Despite appearances, it is not a religious occasion. I was teaching economics at a Catholic regional High School for girls in Merrylands (Sydney) -- called Cerdon college. The photo is of all the school staff. In those days Catholic schools still had religious staff, at least in part.

Sister Aquinas, the Head, was a very smart lady. I liked her. I wonder if her vocation endured. I see that she was still in the Marist Sisters order in 1980 so perhaps it did. I believe her birth name was Joan McBride.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

"Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest" -- Exodus 34:21

(I put the following note up on my other blogs so I thought it might be of some interest here too. I do not update this blog regularly but I have been updating my other blogs every day)

My recent very unpleasant medical problems have made me ask what is the best way forward in my life. To answer that question I turned to the wisest book I know: The Bible. And I found the quotation above. Following Bible advice has always worked wonderfully for me so I now intend to follow that piece of advice too. I intend from now on the keep the Sabbath and will blog only six days of the week instead of seven.

But it will be the real Sabbath I will keep, not the pagan abomination of the Sun's day. It was precisely because the pagans had set aside the first say of the week as a day to worship the sun that the ancient Hebrews defiantly made the seventh day of the week their holy say and I will follow their example. I will no longer blog on Saturday but will do other things.

But I will not be surrounding what I do with rules. As Jesus said, the Sabbath is made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The Bible simply says to do no work and that does not exclude doing all sorts of other things.

One of the things I would like to do today is to learn the words of the Stabat Mater in full. It is the most famous Medieval Latin poem and has been set by many composers -- with the glorious rendition by Pergolesi being best known. I already sort of know the poem but would like to be able to recite the whole thing right through without interruption. To be able to do that will be pleasure, not work. Latin poetry is wonderful even in a work of Marian devotion.

Stabat mater dolorosa
Juxta crucem lacrimosa
Dum pendebat filius

Cuius animam gementem
contristatam et dolentem
Pertransivit gladius ... etc

The is a video from Italy here which offers a respectful version of the first part of the Pergolesi masterpiece. If it's a techno beat you like, you will hate it. This is a work of profound contemplation about the central event of the Christian faith. Even I as an atheist can feel the power of it.


Anne and I had a leisurely trip to Wynnum in the Humber for morning tea and I spent most of the afternoon studying the Stabat Mater. My old brain was not up to memorizing everything I wanted but I made some progress. I have had the devil of a job remembering:

O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa bendicta
Mater unigeniti

But I think I have now got it. I only want to learn the first 8 verses anyway. The Marian devotion in the later verses is a bit much for me

I also spent some time studying "Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot in the afternoon and read it to Anne after dinner. I think she could see why such a dismal piece of work was nonetheless important and famous. It does have some good lines in it (e.g. "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons") and it seems clear to me what it is all about -- though there are various versions of that. A stream of consciousness poem does lend itself to various interpretations.