Sunday, January 27, 2019

A small army reunion

Once a year I like to host a dinner for people I remember from my army days. There were only three of us this year, plus significant others, but it was a jolly dinner anyway.

I am not much of a cook so, rather than have something at home, I took us all to a restaurant and let them do the clever bits. We went to the Dapur Dahlia, a Malay restaurant in Buranda.  I really enjoyed my dinner and I think we all did.  I started out with a couple of Samosas followed by Nasi Goreng Pattaya -- which was fried rice with chicken topped by an omelette.

The ladies -- Anne, Linda and Michelle -- spent most of the dinner talking to one-another while we men mostly talked to one another: very Australian but also very normal.  I tried to break that up initially but I was not in the race

Peter M. brought along some old original Army documents he had saved from when we did our basic training together.  The notation against my name was "Seems slow to learn military skills".  I am naturally a bit clumsy so that was spot-on.

I talked to Peter about David South, with whom I had got on well in my Army days.  I remember that he was very keen on Gustav Mahler (the composer).  Peter had kept in touch with him for a while but had eventually lost touch.  Peter said he would see what he could do to restore contact.

As it was a Sunday dinner I made it an early one so we sat down at 6pm and finished up about 8pm.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

An Australia Day BBQ

Jenny put on a late afternoon BBQ in her very pleasant back yard for a few of us.  She had found some excellent beef sausages which went down well.  There were also some good dips and Pavlova for dessert.  I brought along a bottle of Australian champagne.

We noted the Leftist attempts to destroy the day because some Aborigines don't like it. But I gave short shrift to that. Why should I do otherwise?  In Matthew 8:22 Jesus said, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead”, meaning that there are more important things to do than worrying about those who cannot be helped and who are therefore as good as dead.

I did raise a champagne toast to what we were celebrating however -- the First Fleet -- as two of my ancestors came out to Australia as convicts on such ships.  Why should my culture and history be dishonoured in order to promote Aboriginal beliefs?  It is my ancestors and their ilk who made Australia the advanced and peaceful civilization that it is today

Something that rather annoyed me today is that I saw no cars driving about with Australian flags on them.  There were probably some but I saw none. In past years there has been a lot of that but the media barrage attacking the day appears to have led people to keep their thoughts to themselves -- as people are often pressured into doing these days in the name of political correctness

I think it is precisely because Australia day had become such a popular patriotic celebration that it has now come under such heavy Leftist attack. Leftists want everybody to be as unhappy as they are.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

A procedure and a play

I went in on afternoon of 23rd to the Wesley with a 3:30 appointment for a colonoscopy.  There was a fear that I might have bowel cancer. My father died of that at age 65.

The preliminary literature that the hospital sent out  was mostly of little interest but I liked one piece of advice they gave.  It said "There may be delays so take a book".  And I did.  I had for years been meaning to read "The cocktail party" by T.S. Eliot and I did own a copy so took it along.  It was good that I did as it was in fact 3 hours late -- 6:30 -- that I was wheeled into theatre.  I had in fact just finished reading the play shortly before that so it fitted in well.

It is a good play.  It is about people coming to terms with the ordinariness of their lives.  It is an English drawing room play much like Agatha Christie's novels and there is in fact a substantial "who dun it" element in it.  But the over-riding theme is the actors talking about their feelings.  So it is a sort of psychological "who dun it".  There is a famous quote in it that I have known for some time:

"Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm -- but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."

Eliot wrote that as a comment on interpersonal relations, highlighting how that thinking distorts and destroys relationships.  I also see it as a comment on Leftism.  The Leftist too is always trying tp puff himself up as better than he is. "Virtue signalling" is the modern term for it.  "I am better than you" is the basic message.  Toxic!

It's possible that Eliot did mean it politically too, as he was a conservative

Eliot's famous poem "Prufrock" also portrays  the ordinariness of English life and reflects on what to do about it. As such it is rather dismal piece of work but is 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. The epigraph in the poem is from Dante so Prufrock is apparently speaking from Hell, metaphorically

Anyway, the colonoscopy was a great success.  There was no cancer and only two polyps were found and zapped.  Only two polyps in a man of 75 is very much at the upper end of desirability. So I was allowed to go immediately back on to a normal diet, which I did.

So I have actually got a rather heroic bowel, considering that I drink like a fish and eat lots of "wrong" foods -- such as bacon and eggs -- and eat very little "right" foods such as cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.  I do like cabbage, however, so maybe that helps

Sunday, January 20, 2019

A delightful photo from Scotland

Matthew and Elise looking very brotherly and sisterly

I note that they are wearing the same school tie

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Moscow nights

Moscow nights is a simple romantic song in which the singer relives the magic summer days of his youth when the world seemed fresh and love was in the air.  I think most people are able to identify with it.  I can.  It reminds me of summer nights in 1968 when I was doing my M.A. at the University of Sydney and eating chicken Maryland at the Forest Lodge hotel -- in company with Michael Crowley, the wonderful Lesley Johnson and various "Sydney Push" types like David Ivison.  And not to mention taking out the daughter of the West German consul, Isabella Schmidt-Harms. For some reason, Shostakovich's "Second Waltz" also reminds me of those times.

Lesley Johnson was from a Communist family, though she was more into philosophy than politics. When I was dating Lesley, she had a beauteous sister who was being dated by Mark Aarons, son of Laurie Aarons, boss of the Communist Party of Australia.  So I have had Moscow nights in more ways than one

Moscow nights has been much sung and recorded in the West so I think I am right about its popular appeal.  It is a great favourite of mine so I think I will not be controverted if I say that the best performance of it was the famous performance in Red Square with Netrebko and Hvorostovsky singing.  Anna Netrebko is a supreme soprano and Dmitry Hvorostovsky is a famous Russian baritone from (of all places) the industrial city of Krasnoyarsk in Siberia.

Hvorostovsky (sadly now prematurely deceased) was a very handsome and manly man so presented his songs in a very strong, confident and dignified way while Netrebko is a rather shy person who is easily embarrassed -- which leads to her being able to throw herself into her parts. She does not have to present her own personality so can be wholly devoted to expressing in every way what she is singing.  And she does that very well.

I have come across a version of the Red Square performance that has both English subtitles and fairly good sound.

The beginning of the performance is very Russian, with Hvorostovsky dragging a submissive Netrebko onto the stage but then pledging undying love to her. In her reactions you will see how easily embarrassed she is but will also see how much she enjoys Hvorostovsky and his declarations. Most Russian ladies would envy her as Hvorostovsky is a very attractive man. Feminists will hate the whole thing.

There is a version with better resolution and better sound here:
but it is wholly in Russian

And look at the audience.  They are our people.  They are just like us.  They could be an American audience. We MUST not have a war with Russia -- despite what Congress would seem to want.  I have friends of Russian origin.  If there were a war between Russia and the West I think I would kill myself to get out of a crazy world.

And here's an interesting footnote.  Even the brilliant young Alma Deutscher has got into the act:  In June 2018, the English teenage composer Alma Deutscher adapted the song for piano to entertain Russian President Vladimir Putin during a State Visit to Austria, at the request of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Given three days to arrange it, Deutscher started with a sad lament that transformed itself into a Viennese waltz. Kurz explained that the melding of the two musical styles illustrated well the bond of friendship between Austria and Russia.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Another early morning trip to the hospital on monday 7th

But I was out again the next day.  Various tests and consultations have led to a diagnosis of a problem that needs fixing.  But I am booked for a procedure next week that may fix it.  I am feeling quite well and I think things are under control