Friday, April 25, 2014


My only ANZAC observance was to put up an article about it on my  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS blog.

My main activity was to attend the lunchtime birthday party of little Suz.  Her birthday was in fact earlier but she felt that having the party on a holiday would make it easier for everyone.

So Anne came over on Thursday night to be ready for the party.  We dined at one of our favourite restaurants but found it had changed hands, so was pretty empty.  With Anne's assistance I ordered something not on the menu.  I ordered spaghetti "with the works" -- all the spaghetti additives they had.  They did of course charge a bit extra but it was delicious.

When I came to pay, I found that their EFTPOS machine had not yet arrived.  I normally walk around with a pocketful of cash so that would not normally have bothered me but, just for once, I had only a few dollars in my pockets and intended to pay with a card.  So it was quite vexing. I had to go to an ATM a few doors down to get money  -- and that machine was a bit bomby.  I had to put my card in 6 times to get it accepted.

Anyway, Anne made me hot porridge for my breakfast next morning, which I always enjoy.

At Suz's party, I talked to Susan, Simon and Paul mainly.  I also had a chat with Ken about the monarchy.  I am quite surprised that he is so vehemently against it.  He seemed quite passionate in his views.  Apparently views such as his were rather common in his childhood in the Northern milieu from whence he springs.  Had he been simply indifferent to the monarchy I would have understood it better.  There is huge support in Britain for the monarchy, generally reckoned to be in the 90% range.  Simon's view of the monarchy is one I understand.  He stands for the national anthem out of courtesy but doesn't really believe in any of it.

I also talked a lot with the admirable Susan -- but mainly about kiddy things.  Little Elise was amusing.  She just sat there eating the whole time.  She definitely has Johnson genes.  She even managed to get some spaghetti down.  She's got no teeth so presumably just gums her food.  Dusty's blond curls were curlier than ever and Sahara was dressed as a princess.  Russ told me that when he said to her that she was a princess today she replied that she is a princess every say!  Lucky girl!

Suz made us spaghetti for lunch followed by a cheesecake with caramel topping.  Very nice.

Ken was at one stage saying that you need government to ensure that Australia's vastness is settled.  I had just asked why when Simon sat down near us.  So Simon too pelted Ken with whys while I just looked on.  I felt a bit sorry for Ken as he was clearly outgunned.  Simon is a military man and the main argument for more decentralized settlement in Australia is that it helps to defend the country.  That is however a very dubious argument, which Simon pointed out at length.

I am buying Jenny a new BBQ for her birthday so she has been making enquiries to find out what would suit her best.  As Russ has a BBQ that doubles as a spaceship, she talked to him about BBQs.  After that she came over to me with a clearer idea of what she wants.  She said:  "I have just been talking with the BBQ King who lives here  ..."  I am sure she got good advice.

Anne drove us to the place and also on the way back.  Suz & Russ have just moved and their new place was quite outside my ken.  Anne knows that area fairly well and also used the TomTom (SatNav) in her new Corolla.  Those things are fairly impressive.  It amused me by frequently telling Anne that she was exceeding the speed limit.

When we got back home I made up a lemon mocktail for each of us and we had them on my verandah.  Like a cocktail, they are slow-drinking but are also very tangy and refreshing.  I only give the secret recipe for them out to people I know.

Then for supper we had steak sandwiches and chips from our local hot food place washed down with Alsatian wine.  Both were excellent.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

St. George's day

I had a rather full day today, with plastic surgery at 2pm and a small party I hosted at 5:30pm.

The party was a celebration of St George's day, a celebration of Englishness, as St George is patron saint of England.  St George was a Roman soldier in the early days of Christianity and is venerated as a Christian martyr.  The legend of him slaying a dragon in Libya and thus saving the King's daughter is a medieval accretion.  Devotion to him in England goes back at least as far as the venerable Bede in Anglo-Saxon times.

Two of the party were English-born but glad to be no longer living there.  They did however have some attachment to their old English ways so brought along pork pies and ordered cod n' chips for their dinner. I shouted whatever people wanted but half of us ordered Indian on the ground that Indian food has become thoroughly English these days.  The fish shop and the Indian restaurant are side-by-side so having a choice was convenient.

Susan as usual  did us the signal honour of fetching the food  -- which we had on my verandah.  She also provided us with a magnificent bread 'n butter pudding  with icecream.  She also washed up, so when she was leaving I told her she was my hero.  She also managed two little kids amid it all.  In Longfellow's words, she is “A noble type of good. Heroic womanhood. ”

A small thing I noted:  When Susan arrived carrying Elise, Jenny immediately got up and held out her arms.  Nothing was said but Elise was immediately given to her. Grandma was of course the most trusted custodian of the precious bundle.

The men talked a lot about English food and the stockmarket.

When it was time to go, I suggested that we sing "God Save the Queen".  Our two expats jibbed at that however, saying that they came to Australia to get way from all that.  The rest of us rose and sang the anthem but they remained seated.  All very amusing.

I told them that Australia is a monarchy too but they were unmoved.  The fact that three members of the  Royal House are in Australia at the moment and getting front page coverage in the papers day after day only made the disgruntlement of our expats all the more poignant.

 It was a pleasant party anyway.  I forgive them for disrespecting the Royal anthem so I hope they will forgive me for singing it.

I think that people who don't like the monarchy have got no romance in them.

St. George's day is a big deal in England these days

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Sunday

Anne is away at the moment so I did not go to church on Good Friday as I most usually do.

But today Jenny put on an Easter lunch for a few of us.  It was first class.  The main course was roast pork with GOOD CRACKLING.  Jenny seems to be one of the few cooks who can do crackling.  I was actually suffering from a mild case of diverticulitis so should really have been eating mushy food but I was not going to miss out on roast pork!  And we had apple and rhubarb crumble for dessert.  What more could one ask?

Elise was surprisingly lively.  She vocalized quite a lot and even smiled occasionally.  Matthew played trains most of the time.  Very boyish!

We discussed our celebration next Wednesday of St George's day quite a bit and everybody was looking forward to it.  We are all appreciative of our varying degrees of Englishness.    We also discussed the varying speech patterns you encounter in England.

The future of Paul's business is still in flux but Paul has good hopes that he can rescue it.

Nanna kept us on the ball at various points.  Being nearly 90 seems to have given her extra confidence

Susan arrived wearing a rather ragged denim skirt which I commented on.  Everybody assured me however that it was just fashion.  Nanna assured us all that she still keeps her hems straight.