Saturday, December 25, 2021

A good Christmas


My Christmas eve started out well with Anne arriving at my door at around 8:45.  We went to our usual haunt for breakfast, where I proudly showed my green tick.  I had calamari as usual and Anne dispatched some corm fritters with alacrity.  We then went back to my place and exhanged presents.  I gave Anne some confectionary plus several pieces of costume jewellery, including a good-sized opal brooch.  She was wearing a pretty white and gold necklace I had given her previously.  As usual, she left my place at noon.

Then in early afternoon a motorcycling lady I like turned up outside.  We had a congenial chat and I arranged to cook her a dinner some time in the New Year.  She likes simple food and that is all I can cook, anyway.

Then Jenny put a big effort for our Christmas Eve dinner, held on my verandah, starting about 6:30pm.  Present were Jenny, Joe, myself and Vladimir.  Jenny and I greatly missed the children and grandchildren we would have had with us except for the closed borders. We have had some great family Christmases in the past

Ham off the bone was the main course but Jenny provided a big range of accompaniments for it -- salad, cheeses, grapes, dip etc.  Jenny and Vlad did most of the talking. Joe was a bit depressed so said little and I am not a big talker at any time. Photos below.  






Christmas eve


My newly renovated forehead shows clearly in both photos.  Thanks to the radiation oncologists at PA hospital.  They provide a brilliant service.  For years I had on my forehead a rash that nothing could remove.  But radiation wiped it clean

My Christmas day started out with me giving my neighbour Christine some Darrel Lee as a present at around 10am

Christmas lunch was at Jenny's place on her deck.  She had gone to great trouble to make it a classic Christmas lunch.  The main feature was roast pork with crackling.  Crackling is a fine art but Jenny had got it just right. 

Jenny gave me a hamper of confectionery for my present and I gave her a variety of things, including two cutting boards and an iron trivet.  Joe got a set of induction cookware, which he had requested.

I came home about 3pm for a nap.




Being facetious at Christmas lunch


Jolly Joe at Christmas lunch

Thursday, December 16, 2021

A disappointment


I would like to have another  lady in my life so I am enrolled on several dating sites.  It is however rare for me to find a lady that I might be interested in.  So I was pleased to see a profile of Meg Cameron of Wynnum.





We arranged a lunch at Easts club  and seemed to get on well.  It helped that, like me, she is a lifelong conservative and a climate skeptic.. She goes to church but it is an Anglican one so that is very tolerant and seemed fine to me

So we made a date to visit Finns fish restaurant at Wynnum on Wednesday evening.  To my surprise she texted me during the day on Wednesday to say she could not make it.  She offered no explanation and appears to have blocked my phone number so I could not seek one.  Rather bad manners in my book

It was a bit upset for a while but only for a few hours. Matchmaking is difficult at any age


My lunch on Tues 7th with YB was interesting. She is about as far-Right as they come. I tried to moderate her a bit but it was no use. But we got on well anyway. We have not yet had a dinner but I still seem to be in her good books so that may happen early in the new year.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Ladies


I have had a good week with the ladies.  On Tuesday I lunched at "The Sands" at Cleveland with YB and today I lunched at Easts club with MC.  Both are conservatives and climate skeptics so that suited me well.  Dinners now planned. Both around my age.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Joe moving


Joe has started moving back into his big house at Salisbury.  His ex-wife moved out last Friday.  He will still spend most weekdays at my house

Saturday, December 4, 2021



Police search for missing campers over after remains found

This episode really grieves me. For two elderly people to have found love for one another is wonderful. And their discretion in not hurting their families with knowledge of it is also praiseworthy. But it cost them their lives at the hands of a brute. Two elderly people would have been no match for him when they were attacked



Tuesday, November 23, 2021

George P

George is an old friend of both Jenny and myself and I always made a point of including him in invites to family occasions that I was organizing. Covid however has put a stop to family reunions as Paul and the twins both now live overseas. That has strangled travel between Australia and elsewhere.

So to make some allowance for that, Jenny and I had George join us for one of our family dinners, with Joe also in attendance. It was a congenial occasion. Jenny served up egg-rolled pork for our dinner, which is always a hit

Monday, November 22, 2021



IQ and autism

There is an interesting video about IQ by Edward Dutton below. Ignore his manic introduction. I have noted his work before. His interest in IQ has, regrettably, made him something of an outcast in academe. Last I heard he was teaching at a university in sub-arctic Finland, which is a long way from his origins in Northern England.

In the video below he presents the Baron-Cohen theory of an association between autism and a very high IQ. He does not define the high IQ group precisely but he includes Mensa members in his coverage so he is apparently discussing people in the top 2% of IQ and perhaps some a bit lower than that. Since I am a former Mensa member and organizer, I am inclined to see him as talking inter alia about me.

And I do fit his major claim about high IQ: That high IQ is associated with autism. I am clearly a high-functioning autistic. I have outlined the evidence for that elsewhere. And many of the things that he says of high IQ people are indeed recognizable in me and by me. So I think there is considerable truth in his generalizations.

There are however some problems with his presentation. The largest problem is that there are a wide range of autistic behaviours, Some people are severely disabled by it and some, like myself, suffer only mild limitations. And not all autistics are highly intelligent, though they do often have some unusual "gift" in some way. My gift is to do even the hardest adademic tasks at lightning speed. I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation in 6 weeks, among other things.

Another problem is of the chicken and egg variety. Does autism cause high IQ or does high IQ cause autism? Dutton seems to think that what makes you highly intelligent also makes you autistic. Maybe -- but there are surely SOME high IQ people who are not autistic. That is obviously a testable proposition but I am not aware of anyone who has tested it

There is some obvious truth in it however. A high IQ person does see the world very differently from Joe Average and that must create social difficulties. And social difficulties are the hallmark of autism. My own social skills are certainly not the best but I have had a rather nice time with the ladies over the years so they cannot be too bad. Many good memories.

So I think Dutton is right in seeing autism as the characteristic ailment of high IQ people but I strongly doubt that all highly intelligent people are autistic. Dutton does tend to overgeneralize.

There is however a research literature in support of his ideas

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2016.00300/full

https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2002-13609-006




Thursday, November 11, 2021

A rather good Armistice day


Today, Thursday, started out well with the dressings on my face finally coming off.  The wound looks well-healed so there should be no problem when the stitches come out tomorrow morning.

On Tuesday I noticed extensive subcutaneous bleeding from the wound so I had to go in to get that attended to.  Fortunately the treatment  -- using pressure and ice -- worked well and the bleeding stopped

So last Friday's surgery had a persistently gory aftermath, which was no fun at all.

But the day did have some nice moments,  The doctor attending to me asked me if I would like to observe the traditional minute's silence at 11am in memory of the cessation of WWI. As a former military person, I was delighted to participate.

The other good thing was that I heard today from two different ladies whom I had met but who had decided that they wanted to see no more of me.  Both have changed their minds so I now have new dates with them.  Rather amazing.  I must still have something

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Some pesky surgery


I undergo a lot of surgery for my skin cancers but I rarely make mention of it here.  The surgery I had on Friday morning was particularly notable.  I had a BCC just under my left eye right beside my nose that was going to be difficult.  Excising the BCC was not the problem.  Getting the skin back together in that area was the challenge.  So I went to a very experienced plastic surgeon for the job.

He took quite a while to get the job done but he got a result. He uses diathermy reluctantly as it impedes healing.  The risk of that is post-surgical bleeding.  And I have had that a couple of times in the past.  So I was apprehesive of waking up that night with blood on my pillow and blood streaming down my face.  Unpleasant!

It didn't happen that night but it did the next night.  The bleed was very small, however so just changing the dressing fixed it.  Jenny helped do the new dressing. It was upsetting while it lasted though.

Another complication was that the wound got infected, presumably with staphylococcus aureus.  And that shows by edematous swelling around the infected site.  So as soon as I saw swelling I got some erythromycin into me which fixed the problem.

So on Sunday evening as I write this I have had no bleeding and no swelling all day. Much relief. Healing is well underway.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

A fruitful expedition


Jenny and I usually go for some sort of outing on Friday mornings.  This time we did a tour of some OpShops at Capalaba.  We did rather well.  I bought 3 things that were a bit unusual, including the  fanciest bottle opener you have ever seen. 

The set of coasters appeared to be silver (EPNS no doubt) but I think the fancy cake-lifter is some sort of shiny alloy.  There were certainly no hallmarks on it.




Thursday, October 28, 2021

I am the vaccinated man.


See below.  

I got zero side effects from the first dose so I am hoping for the same from the second.  I got the second only hours ago, however so it is too early to tell.  My very good immune system is reason for optimism, however.




UPDATE of 14 Oct 21:

It is now over 2 weeks since I had my second shot and still not the slightest sign of any side-effect. I gather that it is unusual to have NO side-effects but I have always had a very good immune system

Friday, October 22, 2021

A memorable day


My day started out with an 8am appointment at the radiation oncology Dept. at the PA hospital.  The PA is a short drive from where I live.  It is a huge public hospital but the radiation oncology Dept. there is very well equipped and staffed.  I saw Prof. Foote, the head of the Dept. It was a genial meeting as he knew me from a previous bout of therapy there.

I am getting him to irradiate an unsightly neoplastic rash on my forehead.  It has been lasered, frozen and ointmented but nothing kills it for long.  The radiotherapy will wipe it out for good however.  I will get a total of 20 exposures to the deadly beams to make sure of that

We agreed on a start to the treatment in about a month's time

Then I had lunch with a lady I contacted through a dating site. I was amazed when I met her. I am betting that she is the most good-looking 71 year-old in Brisbane.  You'd think she was in her 30s.  She was a pleasure to look at.

She was quite bright, we had a lot in common and the conversation went well.  But my decrepit looks mean that I am nowhere in her league so there are unlikely to be further developments between us.  It was a real pleasure to meet her however

And yesterday's iron infusion was already showing good effects.  I was actually walking faster today.  The extra iron would have enabled more haemoglobin which in turn boosted my leg muscles. I am walking pretty normally now.  I have had three attacks of internal cancer but my recovery of function from them has been pretty good.

So it was a rather good day and I had a candle-lit dinner with Jenny to top it off. I have two candelabra with six candles so that gave a good light to dine by.

Monday, October 18, 2021

An unusual night


Over the years, Jenny and I have always liked a glass or two of wine with our dinner.  Recently, however, we have not been able to do that.  Jenny has to drive home after dinner and in her usual cautious way refuses to drive with alcohol in her system. I would be quite happy to drive her but she refuses to travel with me driving.  Those who know my driving will understand.

So last night Jenny slept over in my guest room so we could revert to custom.  Jenny celebrated the occasion by making one of my favourite dishes -- Wiener Schnitzel.  Schnitzel is a seemingly simple dish but cooking a good one is in fact quite complex.  The major "secret" is that you must fry it in ghee.  Ghee gives it that wonderful buttery taste.

For booze we opened a bottle of good old Seaview "champagne"

Jenny upheld her Australian honour by drinking half the bottle but I felt like only one glass so the dinner was no riot.

But there was an unexpected sequel:  At about midnight I chucked the whole of my dinner up.  I think I know what caused it so will not buy that product again.  Jenny  fortunately remained well.  I felt fine the morning after so the problem was clearly nothing serious.

Overnight stays imply breakfast the next morning so for brek we went to a place at Stones Corner that Jenny knew: "Clove & Honey".  It was "innovative" so I was a bit wary and just ordered a cheeseburger. Even the burger turned out to be innovative, however, -- containing calamari!  I am quite keen on calamari so that was no problem.  Jenny talked them into doing a gluten-free eggs-Benedict, something she really likes.  We went to the nearby op-shops afterward, where I did make a small purchase

Friday, October 15, 2021

My most recent presents to Anne


I saw two rather attractive pieces yesterday so bought them:  A blue bangle and a very fancy necklace.  







I have been buying Anne costume jewellery almost weekly for years now so she must by now have just about the biggest collection in Brisbane.  The only pity is that she has neither a daughter nor a grand-daughter to leave it to.  But she wears it with enthusiasm now so that is the main thing. She particularly likes strong colours so the bangle should be a hit

But my reward is great too.  As the apostle Paul said:  "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35)

Thursday, September 30, 2021

The one night of the week


Most nights Jenny comes over and cooks dinner for herself, myself and Joe.  So we regularly have family dinners!

On Wednesday, however, Jenny stays home at her place and has a craft night with her lady friends.  On that night I cook for myself and Joe.  I am no chef but there are a few simple things that I cook which turn out fairly well.

I have a Ukrainian tenant named Vlad who lives downststairs.  He doesn't seem to have much of a life but is always cheerful, helpful and ready for a chat.  Recently, he had some medical problems that were clearly getting him down.  So I thought to cheer him up by inviting him  to share our Wednesday dinners.

That worked out well.  Some nights Joe is held up at work and misses the set dinnertime.  On those occasions I do still have company at dinner -- Vlad.  I much prefer that to eating alone, though I have done plenty of solo dining over the years

And Vlad also happens to like classical music so is also happy to sit with me  when I put on classical music after dinner.  So including Vlad works well.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Costume Jewellery


There is often a lot of thought and craftsmanship put into costume jewellery.  In some ways it is a superior form of jewellery as it does not rely for its interest on containing precious stones.  It has to please in its own right.  I regard it an underappreciated form of art.

So it is in keeping that I give Anne a lot of costume jewellery.   She and I seem to have very similar taste in what looks good. -- something striking but not ostentatious

At our meeting this morning, Anne was wearing a pair of ear-rings that I gave her quite recently.  I think they exemplify our joint taste






Thursday, September 23, 2021

Good sex

Most people who know me are aware that I have been married four times.  In getting to that point, it is obvious that I have been to bed with a lot of women over the years.  

I make no claim however about my performance in bed.  As far as I know, it is completely average, unoriginal and unadventurous.  The ladies concerned have however never complained about my performance at the time and I have always been happy with them. I can in fact take sex or leave it and I have often left it for long periods.

But there is just one episode in my career that I think is worth recording.  I will call the lady X as I obviously cannot reveal her identity.  The sex was only one part of a very good relationship that lasted for more than a year but I think it was notable in its own right.

As we entered the bedroom, the lady would close the door behind us.  She would then let down her long hair.  She normally wore it up.  In my experience women do normally let their hair down before sex.  I think it is from that that we have the expression "letting your hair down" to mean having unrestrained fun of any sort.  At any event I always liked it when my partners did that.  It seemed very symbolic.

After the usual foreplay, I would get us started by getting on top of her in the best missionary tradition.  But that did not last.  After a minute or so she would get on top of me.  I would just lie there flat out while she did all the work.  The great benefit of that is that the man takes longer to come that way. So the lady gets more time to come and the man has an extended period of pleasure.  It worked so well that X would often come with a scream.  I like a screamer. There are not a lot of them but it seems to confirm that I have done something well.

At any event I would recommend that system to anybody who is inclined to it.  It is a win-win situation.

Monday, September 20, 2021

An eventful day

Yesterday I had lunch at the Phams with an old friend from Sydney in the 70s, John H. We saw a lot of one another in the old days so we had a lot to talk about. He was very concerned with my health during my recent illness so I appreciated that. He lives in Brisbane these days so we have arranged to meet more frequently. As you can see below, he is in a lot better shape than I am



And then that night we had a blackout!

We have been having frequent blackouts in Brisbane lately. But they have been short-lived and happened after midnight, so the only bother from them has been a frequent need to reset your electric clocks.

But last night was different. The power outage was for about 2 hours starting at about 8:30pm. It didn't bother me much though. I have about 15 oil lamps and various candles so I was soon well lit up again.

My hurricane lamp was particularly useful. I could walk around with it lighting my path. I also set it up to act as a night light I generally have some source of light on at sleep-time. It was well positioned in the room to give light to the whole room. You will see it below on its elevated shelf.



In the old days one would normally lose work in progress on your computer during a blackout. But now that laptops are almost universally used as your main personal computer, that is no longer a worry. The laptop battery keeps the computer going without interruption. I in fact was able to resume exactly what I was doing before the blackout.

Fortunately, I had put all my blogs up well before the blackout so the blackout did not delay their availability

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Light on the situation


Most weeks I give Anne a small present, usually costume jewellery.  I have a pretty good idea of her taste so she is usually enthusiastic about what I give her.  She says that when she wears it, other ladies often compliment her on it.

My most recent present was a bit different, however.  I gave her a new but old-fashioned hurricane lamp!  That probably sounds bizarre but she, George and I all like oil lamps.  George has given her a very nice large table lamp. So I decided to give her an oil lamp that she can carry about during blackouts or for nights when she is caravanning.

And she definitely liked it.  Unprompted by me she has just sent the picture below of the lamp concerned lighting up a scrabble game



Monday, September 13, 2021

Surprising service


Qld Xray is the name of a private firm that seems to have tentacles in all Brisbane hospitals, public and private.  They do it all: Xrays, CT scans, PET scans, MRIs.  I have used their services  a number of times in different hospitals with no complaints but nothing worth mentioning either.

Last night it was different.  I went to their branch at the Mater Public hospital nearby to me.  My appointment was arranged only a few days beforehand and was down for 8pm.  I chose a night appointment as they bulk bill those (meaning they are "free" to me).  My specialist had asked for two scans, a CT scan and an MRI.  CT scans are routine but MRIs are a bit of a big deal.

I thought that,  with two scans to do, my time there would probably be fairly lengthy.  But, as it happened, they were super efficient and called me in with minutes of my arriving on time.  And they were also efficient in doing the two scans.  I went from one to the other in short order.  The result?  I walked out of there at 8:30.  They took only 30 minutes to put me through two scans!

Pretty amazing.  I will go to them again.  

I must be one of the most scanned people in Brisbane.  I seem always to be put through them by my doctors.  This one was to investigate a slightly cricked neck, probably arthritis.

Because it is almost always a private firm doing medical scans in Brisbane, one usually has to wait  only a few days to get any scan the doctors request.  I have had some done same-day or the next day.  I have also had some done after midnight when it seemed urgent.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Printer woes


My old printer died so I had to get a new one.  The one I chose -- a HP Deskjet 2700e -- was not expensive -- $55 -- as I don't need anything fancy.  

The setting up of a new printer has become a bigger and bigger challenge as the years have gone by so I was rather cheered by the motto on the box, which said: "Keep it simple".  I wish they had. The setup was incredibly long and difficult.  I worked at it for about 20 minutes and got so far and then Joe took over.  Joe is a computer maven.  He solves incredibly difficult computer problems for his work.

But it took another half hour of solid trying  before Joe got the thing to work.  How the ordinary citizen is supposed to make it work it I do not know,  I suspect that setting up printers will become a new trade.  You don't even try to do it yourself.  You call a printer guy

I do however have a handy hint for future printer installers:  Reboot your computer before you start.  It is only after Joe did that that things began to happen with my printer.

I guess a bonus is that printers don't get stolen these days.  My printer is specifically set up for my computer.  So it would not work on any other computer unless the thief was a setup genius.  Lesson:  Don't buy a secondhand printer


Sunday, September 5, 2021

Joe x 2


I had a meal with son Joe twice today. The first was our usual Sunday breakfast at the pie shop.  For a change I ordered savoury mince and it was quite good.  I think they used some tomato product in it.

Then  I also had dinner with Joe.  It was Father's day so he asked me what I wanted.  I made my usual request that he give me a dinner on our verandah.  I asked for Wiener Schnitzel.  He looked in 3 supermarkets for oven-ready schnitzel but found none.  So he got chicken Kievs instead -- which is a good substitution as both dishes are crumbed.

He cooked it in his oven and said that it was the first time he had used that oven.  It was a new gas oven that I had installed about a year ago.  But he must have got the settings right as the Kievs were perfectly cooked.  He provided a pasta salad with it.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Necklaces


A strange habit I have is to give Anne a piece of costume jewellery almost every week -- usually after our Saturday morning breakfast. And she does like my choices and does wear a piece of it from time to time.  Today I excelled myself and gave her TWO necklaces, both of which she liked

There is a picture of the most interesting one below.  It is a costume copy of a black opal necklace and is very well done.  They have even gone to the trouble of making the "stones" into a shape into which opals are commonly cut -- a sort of rounded triangle. Only their large size tells you that they are not genuine.  Anne wears a lot of black so they will be useful to her.



Wednesday, September 1, 2021

An anniversary


Today was the 16th anniversary of Anne and me meeting.  Our relationship has undergone various changes over time but it is still warm and we do see one-another once a week -- and sometimes more. As usual, we did a celebration of the anniversary.  Our customary meal for special occasions is lamb cutlets and so it was at my place at lunchtime today.  We had fried onions, coleslaw and a French stick to go with it.  Anne did the cooking.

For starters we usually have natural oysters but a recent article on how sick you can get from eating raw oysters put us off.  So I bought us three different types of pate as an entree instead.  Anne took most of it home to have on toast

So we enjoyed our lunch and had a lie down afterward listening to music

I did of course buy flowers for Anne -- which she appreciated -- but I did not keep a picture of them

It was actually an eventful day for me as I also went to Nandos for dinner with Joe.  We too spent some time afterwards listening to classical music



Saturday, August 28, 2021

Astra Zeneca



It is now more than 24 hours since I have had my first shot of Astra Zeneca -- and I have had ZERO side effects -- no aching bones, no high temperatures. Just my usual perfect health. My immune system once again seems to have done an exemplary job.

I was afraid that I might experience enough adverse symptoms to interfere with my usual Saturday morning with Anne. But we were in fact able to do all our usual activities. I even got some Portuguese custard tarts for our 11am cup of tea

Why Astra Zeneca? Mainly because it seems to give the longest period of immunity

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

A small drama with an unexpected ending


I seem to have a talent for losing my car keys.  Because of that I always carry a backup set with me -- in a different pocket.  So a few days ago when I again lost my keys it was no inconvenience.  I just used my backup set. So my backup set became my main set

But that meant that I was now short of a backup set.  So I went in to my local Pakistani keycutter to get a new copy of my car key.  I knew however that  he sometimes does not get his copies right so I parked my car very close to his kiosk.  My caution was vindicated.  To the surprise of neither of us, the copy he gave me in return for $66 did not work.  So he had a second try.  But that did not work either

So we were now in deep waters.  He said that my key was faulty and that is why he could not copy it.  He asked did I have another key that might copy better.  I replied that I had only the one key.  All the others I had lost.

He could see however that I needed to have a reserve key so took it on himself to get me a usable copy by hook or by crook.  He actually got into my car's electronics to see if he could read the code my car took.  I don't know how far he got with that before I remembered something.  My son Joe drives my car at times so he has a key to it.  So the keycutter's mate drove me to my place so I could borrow Joe's key

That worked better.  The copy taken off Joe's key did work the doors and the ignition but it did not open the boot.  So it was some use as a backup but not great. So I let matters ride with them at that point and decided to try a different locksmith the next day.

So I found a locksmith near me and started again.  But it was not plain sailing with him either.  He gave me a copy without the black knob on the end of it.  He said that the black knob was not needed.  He was sort of right. The knobless key opened my doors and turned the motor over  -- but the motor would not start.  It needed the electronics in the black knob to go.

He was a bit embarrassed by that and on the second try gave me a new key -- with knob -- that worked perfectly.  And here's the surprise:  He didn't charge me for it!  So I ended up with an imperfect copy for $66 and a perfect copy for free!  Beat that!

Monday, August 23, 2021

On being offended


It is a reasonable diagnosis to say that I am a high-functioning autistic.  I have discussed the evidence for that previously.  Just admitting to being autistic  is itself autistic, I think

And there is something about me which I have long been aware of but which I now realize is profoundly autistic:  I never get offended by anything.  In all my life I can recall no occasion when I was offended by anything or anyone.  I have sometimes acted offended when I thought it was expected of me but there has been no feeling behind the act.

So when people criticize me I simply see it as information. It tells me something about the critic and may tell me something about myself.  I perceive only the informational component of a criticism, nothing more .  I just don't understand why or how people get offended by things.  It is basically a mystery and a surprise to me

That does let me down at times. I rather often do or say things that offend people without my meaning to.  The thing would not offend me so I don't expect anyone else to be offended by it.

My deficit in that regard is however also a blessing.  Being offended seems to be a rather unpleasant feeling so I am glad to be free of it.  I sail through life with a great calmness and serenity of mind

Sunday, August 22, 2021

"There is nothing more that we can do for you"

If you hear those words from your doctor, it will normally be a knell of doom.  It will mean that your illness is so far gone that it is untreatable and that  you will probably die soon

So I will always remember the moment my oncologist said those words to me.  Fortunately, in my case he followed with the words: "You are in complete remission".  He meant that I was so  completely cured that there was nothing left for him to treat

People will probably congratulate me for being so lucky.  But it was nothing to do with luck.  What happened was that I was treated by an eminent professional in Australia's private health system who arranged for me to get advanced treatment as part of a clinical trial of a new medicine.  I was the beneficiary of specialized knowledge, not luck.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Rehab going well


After the defeat of my life-threatening illness comes rehab and I am making steady progress with it.  Today was a notable waypoint on my journey back to normality:  I completed the full ritual of a Saturday breakfast with Anne.  Ritual?  Yes.  Anne and I have a set of things that we have long done at Saturday breakfasts.  It is very stereotyped but it is simply the things that we enjoy doing.  I will outline it:

I drove us to the Phams where I have a booking for 9am.  Anne particularly likes the coffee there and they have a very good menu. We order something familiar from the menu and enjoy it.   I ate the whole of one of my usual breakfasts (calamari)  -- something I could not do while I was ill. 

We then went to to Woolworths to pick up a few things.  I always tell Anne to put her choices in my trolley and I pay for them as if they were my own,  It is very rare for me to let a lady put her hand in her pocket. One of the things I always like to buy if available is Portuguese custard tarts -- and today I did score  some.

Something we used to do in the happy day before Covid was to finish our visit to Woolworths by sitting for10 minutes on the seat outside and watch the passing parade.  With the advent of Covid, however, they took that seat away and it has never reappeared. There was however there today an unoccupied seat a little further away.  So we sat there for a while.  It was good to revive that custom.

We then went to the local Vinnies to look for anything unusual that we might like.  I  can  usually find a piece of costume jewellery that Anne likes and I buy it for her.  We found today an ivory-look  bangle of a sort that Anne said she had "always wanted".  She was wearing a very pretty set of earrings that I had previously given her.

We then went home and lay around listening to classical music, with a cup of tea around 11am.  We had a custard tart with it

Then Anne went home around 12noon with a big departure kiss to send her on her way

Below are some things I have bought for Anne recently.  The item on the left is a fold-up lady's mirror





Thursday, August 12, 2021

COMPLETE REMISSION


Magic words those.  The cancers in my stomach are gone.  I have always had a good immune system and over a 9 week period the immunotherapy has energized it into completely killing the cancer cells

My life expectancy is once again measurable in years

At dinner that night we had  a Black Forest torte to celebrate




Addenda:

The treatment I received  was KEYTRUDA, which has shown "sustained, long-term survival benefit and durable responses".  So the cancers should stay away

The diagnosis of remission was based on PET scans.  My most recent PET scan showed nothing where there had previously been cancer

My treatment was over 9 weeks, which is very short.  Some treatments run for 30 weeks

Sikhs and I

Jenny and I were driving along Logan Rd in Brisbane yesterday when we passed the Sikh gurdwara (temple) there.  I remarked that I had had Sikhs around my life since childhood and had always had a good impression of them.   I remember in my early teens how a tall dignified brown man in a blue turban gave me a tract about Guru Nanak (founder of Sikhism).  It was published by the Gurpurb publishing company, a name which I have never been able to forget.  I read the tract

Jenny endorsed my opinion of Sikhs and reminded me that in her travels in India in her youth she had been to Amritsar and actually slept in the GoldenTemple there -- a beneficiary of Sikh charity

When I was in London for  a year in 1977, there were a lot of small shops there run by Sikhs.  I was in one such shop once  when I saw some old fool abusing the employees there, telling them how he had won the war and Sikhs had done nothing.  In truth of course many Sikh families had lost sons in Britain's wars. I was quietly enraged by this so as I walked past the fool on my way out the door I gave him a heavy shoulder bump which sent him to the floor.  It was probably wrong of me to do that and a Briton would never have done it.  But I am not British.  I am Australian

On another occasion I was in the habit of shopping at Sikh store near where I lived at the time.  The Sikhs working there were used to getting a cold shoulder from their British customers.  But, given my view of Sikhs,  I always walked into their store with a smile on my face and was very friendly to them.  The Sikhs seemed initially to be surprised by such treatment from a "British" customer but warmed to it.  And one day when I had ordered two samoosas for snack, they popped a third samoosa into the bag at no charge.

I think Islam tends to make men into monsters.  Sikhism makes them into gentlemen.

Although Sikhs are sometimes mistaken for Muslims because they wear turbans, Sikhism in fact started out as an Indian alternative to Islam and Sikhs fought the Muslims almost from the inception of Sikhism.



Some Sikhs in the company of a well-known Christian gentleman

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

An excellent new performance



A great favourite song of mine is "Moscow nights" -- as sung in the Red square by Dmitry Hvorostovsy and Anna Netrebko. I was looking forthat version to play to Anne after our breakfast yesterday when I accidentally came across a new version -- featuring Dmitry as usual but with Aida Garifullina as his female counterpart. I was transfixed. She matched Dmitry in the brilliance of her performance. Netrebko is no slouch but Garifullina eclipsed her. It was her best performance yet to my mind. And she dressed to look Russian, which she is



Anne was much taken with her as well and asked me to find other pieces sung by her, which I enthusiastically did "O mio babbino caro", "Ave Maria ", "Time to say good bye" etc.

So her performance with Dmitry was a very pleasant discovery for both Anne and me

I also put on some Monteverdi -- "Zefiro Torna" which again was new to Anne and which she greatly liked

Monday, August 9, 2021

A RED-LETTER DAY

Today for the first time in months I was able to resume my old breakfast routine with Anne.  We went to the Phams and got regular meals off the menu.  It might seem a small thing but I have been unable to do it for months now so to return to an old and treasured routine was a great pleasure.

And we did the second part of our routine too -- a visit to Vinnies.  And it was an unusually good day there.  I found THREE things to give Anne that she liked, including a very fancy lady's pocket mirror

And Anne was wearing a pair of earrings that I had given her recently. See below:




Saturday, August 7, 2021

My time with JM


I have always sought continuity in relationships.  The fact that I married 4 times is proof enough of that  I think.  So I think very highly of a lady with whom I had a four year relationship and would like to leave some memoir of her

JM was a rather pretty nurse aged 51 and 5’6” tall. We started a relationship on 4.9.01.  I was 58.

JM is a very quiet person but I found that she liked Mozart, Pergolesi, Albinoni etc. so she passed the all-important music filter as far as I was concerned. She had an interest in some of the other things I like too (history etc) but at a fairly low level. That she worked caring for the demented elderly gives some idea of how good-hearted she is.

She was slim but with a nice bottom. She had not gone past high school but she read a lot and had studied piano to Grade 4.  She tended to wear her skirts short and her hair long

Like my other girlfriends, JM had an ethnic and cultural background very similar to mine. So I was able to speak broad Australian with her —which is a relief after all the standard English I write on blogs. I was able to say things like: “I’ll give it a burl” (translation: “I will attempt it”) and be instantly understood.

Culture is an amazing thing. And it’s particularly amazing in Australia. JM and I grew up roughly 2000 miles apart (Melbourne versus Cairns) and yet it was as if we grew up in the same town. We speak the same slang and have very similar recollections of our early years. The hymns she learnt and still loves from her Methodist church past overlap mightily with the ones I love from my Presbyterian background. We are both total unbelievers now but  it was still a great pleasure to reminisce by singing the old doxologies and hymns.

Her father was a successful Melbourne businessman who sent both his daughters to Melbourne MLC (Methodist Ladies College) so she had just about the best education money can buy. MLC ladies acquire an accent, attitude and manners that enable them to glide easily into the “best” circles of English society.

An educated Australian accent is in any case pretty close to RP (Received pronunciation: The accent taught in British “public” [meaning “private”!] schools) and at MLC and other Melbourne private schools that accent is refined even more towards an English upper class standard. And JM’s sister did make that transition — marrying a rich Englishman.

JM however is a born rebel and all middle class values were not for her. She looked with horror at the middle class life that lay before her and wanted out. So she left school as soon as she could, took a humble job waitressing and never wanted anything more.

Mind you, she was very good at accents and could slip into a very good facsimile of RP if ever she wanted to. Though she normally spoke with a fairly broad Australian accent.

Another curious thing that quite stunned me was the effect of shoes on how she presented. I have never understood the way women collect shoes but JM gave me at least a hint of it. She normally wore very flat shoes and in such shoes looked like the hippy she is. She just had to put on heels, however, and she immediately became a lady. Amazing. She is quite a pretty girl so that had something to do with it but I doubt that I will ever understand it fully.

I know this is completely mad but I thought I might note another way in which JM seemed to me to be something of a chameleon.

Optometrists make a great play of spectacles being some sort of fashion statement and it is undoubtedly true that different spectacles do somehow seem to convey different images of the person. And JM’s choice in spectacles did somehow convey the impression of a Melbourne Lady to me. She could be sitting in bed with her specs on talking on the phone and I definitely got the impression of being in the presence of a Melbourne Lady.

It was for a few moments almost like being in the company of the ultimate Melbourne Lady — the redoubtable Susan Rossiter/Peacock/Sangster/Renouf — a lady who definitely cut a swathe through her social circle in her time — but in the nicest possible way, of course. No wonder Barry Humphries found/finds his native Melbourne infinitely amusing. Perhaps JM was well out of it.

JM soon made her presence felt in my life. She was so feminine and so totally devoted to me that she eventually became the one whom I tended to think of affectionately during the day. I think she loved me as much as any woman has ever loved a man and that was of course a great experience for me. She slept overnight at my place in my second bedroom for about half the week and it was lovely to have her around. So I came to love her too.

I was hers after that. We stayed happily together for a long time after that, with our vacation in the Far North in August 2004 being a highpoint.

Following is what I said about JM in my 2004 Christmas letter: JM has now been living with me for some time. I am not sure what she sees in me but it is certainly not good looks. She is a geriatric nurse by occupation so that must make her feel at home with a moth-eaten old curmudgeon like me. She says that if I sat down to dinner with the residents at the nursing home where she works, no-one would notice anything out of place. She is a very kind-hearted soul so that when the more friendless residents of her nursing home go into hospital, she sometimes goes to visit them in hospital in her own time. It probably needs someone that kind to put up with me.

In 2005 JM went to England to visit her sister there. She spent 6 weeks there. I did not like the long separation but the strength of our relationship kept me reasonably contented with her during her absence. She seems to have misread that. She seemed to conclude that we could be in a relationship even while being physically apart for most of the time. It's a romantic notion but I did not share it. Physical closeness is a major part of a relationship for me.

At any event, while she was in England she got news that her elderly father in Melbourne was ailing and needed close support. So she announced without consulting me that she was going down there to live with him and help him. She seemed to think that I would be content with that. I was not and told her so. I told her that I understood her position but if she moved to Melbourne it would be the end of our relationship. She was upset but stood by her plans. So it ended up that she thought I had left her while I thought she had left me. It was a sad end to a good four year relationship. I saw the last of her at the end of August in 2005.

Her father died a few years after that and she now lives happily on the Gold Coast.


JM in England

Friday, August 6, 2021

Zefiro torna

I have been a great fan of Monteverdi madrigals since I first heard them some time in the '70s.  So I was most pleased to find recently a really good version of one of the best -- Zefiro torna --


Three fiddlers, two lovely ladies and a drummer produce a magical sound. They sound good even if you have no idea what they are singing about but knowing that does greatly enhance your enjoyment. So I provide one translation.  Note: Zephyr is the West wind that brings Spring

Return O Zephyr, and with gentle motion
Make pleasant the air and scatter the grasses in waves
And murmuring among the green branches
Make the flowers in the field dance to your sweet sound;
Crown with a garland the heads of Phylla and Chloris
With notes tempered by love and joy,
From mountains and valleys high and deep
And sonorous caves that echo in harmony.
The dawn rises eagerly into the heavens and the sun
Scatters rays of gold, and of the purest silver,
Like embroidery on the cerulean mantle of Thetis.
But I, in abandoned forests, am alone.
The ardour of two beautiful eyes is my torment;
As my Fate wills it, now I weep, now I sing.

That gives you the idea but, as always, the translation loses a lot of the beauty in the original.  Almost any song is better in the original language.  As it happens, I do have a minor qualification in Italian.  It was one of my high school languages.  So with a lot of preliminary work, I can usually follow songs in Italian.  So I also provide the Italian original:

Zefiro torna e di soavi accenti
l’aer fa grato e’il pié discioglie a l’onde
e, mormoranda tra le verdi fronde,
fa danzar al bel suon su’l prato i fiori.

Inghirlandato il crin Fillide e Clori
note temprando lor care e gioconde;
e da monti e da valli ime e profond
raddoppian l’armonia gli antri canori.
Sorge più vaga in ciel l’aurora, e’l sole,
sparge più luci d’or; più puro argento
fregia di Teti il bel ceruleo manto.

Sol io, per selve abbandonate e sole,
l’ardor di due begli occhi e’l mio tormento,
come vuol mia ventura, hor piango hor canto.

Hurdles I have leapt


A few months ago I found that I had a lot of cancer in my stomach that had various consequences

* I could eat only small meals 
* My stomach was often painful
* I got bouts of severe nausea  roughly every second day

Dealing with that meant that I took painkillers (Tramadol) as a palliative measure.  But the painkillers had two troublesome side-effects:

*Vertigo
*constipation

So I suddenly had five hurdles to overcome instead of one.

* Then came a further problem.  I have always tended to insomnia  and that suddenly became worse.  Some nights I would not sleep at all.  The doctors gave me the strongest sleeping pills available (e.g. Zolpidem and Alprazolam)  but they did not help.  Sleep deprivation is however destructive to both one's physical and mental health so cancer was suddenly the least of my worries.  If I was to solve my insomnia I would have to do it all by myself and I would have to do it in a matter of days.

I took a lesson from my pioneer ancestors: Grit.  Medical help was often not available to them so they simply ignored the problem until it either went away or killed them.  

I have got nothing like the grit they had but I do have some.  So I simply threw away all my pills and just lived through the insomnia.  If I was awake I was awake and if I could sleep I slept. I let events take their course and simply accepted that I could not control them.  I hoped that once free of chemicals my body would return to a healthy default state.

And it did. One cannot expect a complete cure of a life-long problem but I do now sleep at night at irregular intervals  and I get a couple of hours of naps in during the day. It's enough.

....

So what about my cancer?  I go to a private  oncologist and he got me into a clinical trial of a system designed to alert my immune system to the cancer. The immune system then attacks and destroys the cancer. It costs a bomb and sounds fanciful and it does not always work but I have always had a good immune system and it has worked for me after just two months.  I am now well on the way to slow but complete recovery. I now take no pills whatever. I have successfully leapt all six hurdles


A BONUS

My illness has had one good effect. I have lost a lot of weight. So I am no longer a fat man. I am of fairly normal weight for height. Behold below a photo that Jenny has recently taken of me



Wednesday, August 4, 2021

My second wife


I met JP at a Mensa meeting quite soon after splitting with wife D. but nothing much came of it for a while.

JP had very thick and well-coloured brown hair, blue eyes, fair skin, a big mouth, a very slim waist, high cheekbones and a perennial smile. She was obviously intelligent, was tall (5'8"), listened to classical music, had a good sense of humour, was very diplomatic and I liked her body -- slim but with plenty of breast and a nice bottom as well. You normally get one or the other but not both. 

She was a medical detailer (salesperson for a drug company) when I met her and already owned a few investment properties. She was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on 31.7.1932 and grew up there but also had some German noble blood in her (whatever that means). Her original surname (her father was killed in the war and her mother remarried) was German: A quite prominent aristocratic name in both Germany and France.

JP's family actually came from Aberdeen rather than Glasgow. Joy remembers her father as giving her "coalies" (rides on his back) while she was a child and as playing his violin. She also felt that I was like her father in many ways.

After travelling around a lot in Britain and overseas during her days as a nurse, JP emigrated with her brother  to Australia when she was in her early 30s. Her mother and stepfather followed soon after.

She is a bit eccentric and does not have much dress-sense but as I am eccentric and care little about dress too that suited me quite well. She had had various relationships before she met me but had never married or had children. That really is a bit strange as she was in my experience of her a very loving person. I remember I used to give her a lot of bear-hugs.

She has an almost obsessive interest in anything medical. No wonder she started out as a nurse. Our dinner conversations would sometimes be about the latest academic journal articles on matters of interest to her. We are still good friends. A curious thing about Jb is that she was a smoker when I met her but I never knew it. She knew my dislike of it so just did not smoke in my presence and then just gave it up altogether. She must not have been heavily addicted. It paid off, however. Some years later she did a spirometry test and was found to have early emphysema (of which her mother later died). The specialist who ran the spirometry told her that by giving up smoking when she met me she had added ten years to her life!

Married

Around 1975 I moved  in with her and married her about a year later -- on 15.5.1976. She was 43 at the time and I was 32 but that did not worry me as I had been told that I was infertile and could not have kids anyway.


JP on our  honeymoon at Peregian beach. Note that waist.

The wedding was a "Scottish" one (at the Waverley Presbyterian church!) with many of the male guests (and myself) wearing the kilt. I also made up a tape of all the best Scottish sentimental songs and played it for a large part of our wedding reception.

You should have seen the funny faces as all the Scots tried to restrain the tears! I hadn't quite foreseen that but perhaps I should have. Anyway, it certainly did a lot of Scottish hearts good to see a Scots lass wed so far from home but amid such devotion to all things Scottish. Just writing that sentence brought tears to my eyes so I must be a pretty solid sentimentalist too.

JP and I were together for about 8 years and she suited me very well. During the day I would usually be busy at University with my research and writing but I still kept good working class hours and would arrive home at about 5 p.m. -- like my father before me. Our usual routine of an evening was for us to sit around and chat between 5 and 6 p.m., go out to an ethnic restaurant at 6 and take a bottle of wine.

In 1977 I went to London on my Sabbatical year. JP came with me but stayed only 2 or 3 months. While she was there she wanted a job. As she was still an SRN from her Glasgow days, so she first looked into becoming a "temp" nurse. She found it offered one pound an hour. She thought that was a bit derisory so looked for a job as a "temp" secretary. She also had those skills. She found that she could get TWO pounds an hour as a secretary so did the obvious. But something seems wrong there. British socialism?

She also noted that some of the hospitals she knew had new buildings attached. She was excited to see the new wards. Alas, they were office buildings: British bureaucracy. Puzzle solved. All that health bureaucracy required a lot of staff. So the big demand for secretaries bid up the wages of secretaries to double the wages of nurses. No doubt all those extra clerks cured a lot of people of their illnesses!

When I got back to Sydney I resumed my interest in Real Estate. I bought a block of flats at 13 Wallis Pde., Bondi in conjunction with JB. I put in 25% and she put in 75% of the cost. They were the first places I "did up" -- prior to strata-titling them. We later bought other properties  but most of our business activities for some years afterwards consisted of managing what we had -- cleaning up after tenants, getting new tenants etc. We seemed to be doing a re-letting almost every second weekend as we had over 20 properties between us.

We lived for a couple of years in a rented unit at Randwick and then also for a time at 6 Norton St, Kingsford -- a house which JP bought. It was next to her mother's house at 4 Norton St. 6 Norton St was just outside the Uni of NSW fence so for a couple of the 12 years I was a university lecturer I used to walk to work. When we eventually let 6 Norton St out it was to a Chinese man who liked the property because he thought it looked "very crean" (sic).

After that we moved into first flat 3 and then flat 4 of our building at 13 Wallis Pde. -- with a view to doing them up for sale. Dinyar Mistry lived with us for a while in flat 3 and the smells of his delicious Parsee cooking were really distracting. We "raided" his evening meals from time to time, rather to his amusement.

Leaving Sydney

When I began to get near 40 years of age I began (as many men do) to feel that I was in a rut (the mid-life crisis) and resolved to retire to Queensland. JP and I had a great life together with everything more or less as I wanted it but I still felt that I wanted to make an entirely new start for the second half of my life -- including a new female or females in my life.

I think she was 51 when we split up so it was pretty devastating for her. It was for a long time too upsetting to her even to see me but she has now got over that and seems to love me as much as ever! I think why I left her had a little to do with her beginning to look older but the main reason was simply the mid-life crisis, the need for a new life.

When I was no longer around to protect her interests she eventually took big risks in real estate and ended up making some costly mistakes. Optimism's reward! Her constant pleasantness, good cheer, enthusiasm and intelligence did however make her a quite remarkable person and I do regard myself as lucky to have had so much time with such a fine woman.

At the time I left Sydney I already had enough equity in Real Estate to provide income to live on if need be so did not need to continue in employment. I set the date for retirement from the Uni at Feb '83 when I was 39.

A few weeks before I was due to leave I told JP that I would not take her with me into retirement. I handled it rather badly, causing her more upset than was needful. I suppose after such a long relationship it is hard to handle things coolly.

The fact that I left my wife, my job, my city of residence and most of my friends does show, I suppose, that I even went about my mid-life crisis with my usual thoroughness. I do see myself as having had a really good mid-life crisis with generally very good outcomes. Anyway, at the beginning of March 1983 I drove up to Brisbane.

Meeting Jenny, my third wife


During my years in Sydney I had kept in touch with my old friend Alex Barnes. He had married one of my ex-girlfriends (Joyce Hooper) -- both now deceased -- so there was in fact something of a double reason for that.

Knowing Joyce and Alex did however prove to be very valuable indeed. I looked them up very soon after I arrived back in Brisbane from Sydney in 1983 and Joyce shortly thereafter invited me to dinner at their place. It was there that I met Jenny. Joyce had in fact arranged the dinner for us to meet. Jenny was an old friend of Joyce's.

So I met Jenny a week or two after I arrived in Brisbane. It was the same night Bob Hawke won his first election (5th. March, 1983). Joyce saw me as something of a "catch" and had primed Jenny up to win me.

When I arrived at the Barnes residence and was introduced to Jenny, the first thing I said to her was "Stand up and let me see how tall you are". In other words, I knew the sort of setup it was and was quite frank that I was evaluating the prospects too.

I drove Jenny home from Sandgate that night and arranged to see her again when I dropped her off. We "dated" after that quite frequently but I was by the time we met also seeing the little red-headed Marie T. Marie and I went to bed the night we met, which was around a week after I arrived back in Brisbane. Anyway, I told Jenny fairly soon that I was also seeing Marie and she seemed initially to accept that as no problem. It didn't take her long to brood on it however and she then in effect told me to choose her or Marie.  I chose her and broke it off with Marie but still for a time kept some interest in other women.

I think it was while I was living at Milton that I once took Jenny out for breakfast -- after a night together, of course. Jenny had never been taken out to breakfast before so that was a great hit.

About Jenny

 The reason I chose Jenny rather than Marie was mainly twofold: Seeing Jenny in jeans and seeing her do ironing for her flatmate, Kym. I have been a flatmate and observed flatmates on many occasions and recognized immediately how unusually kind and generous Jenny was to do that ironing.

Jenny has of course all sorts of other good attributes (such as intelligence, a good knowledge of the world and some liking for classical music) but so did Marie and various other women I might have pursued. It is however relevant that Jenny was pretty aspirational in looks at age 31. Ask most men what their ideal woman would look like and they would say something like: "A busty blonde with long legs". That would be a pretty good description of Jenny's looks at that time. I also liked the fact that she was relatively tall -- 5'8".

Jenny was born in Melbourne to Lindsay Albert Dene Lucas and Lena nee Cairns. She was an only child. Her parents moved to Brisbane when Jenny was aged about 5 because Lena was having difficulties with bronchitis in the cold Melbourne climate.

A photo of Jen when she was 15. Not terribly clear but it will have to do


Jenny had married Ken in her early 20s. They met in Brisbane but also lived together in England for a year or two -- where they married. They travelled back to Australia overland -- which was a very mind-broadening experience for Jenny. The marriage had however broken up by the time I met her and she was living in a flat at Sapphire St., Holland Park, with her friend, Kym Carter.

By that time she also had a quite active social life well underway so to see much of her I had to do things like pick her up after pottery classes. Pottery classes! Not being at all arty, that rather gave me the heebie jeebies.

Jenny's Autobiography

 At one stage Jenny began writing her autobiography but did not get far with it. I give below what little she did write at that time:

"I, Jennifer Ann LUCAS was born on 27th May 1952. My parents owned a delicatessen in Melbourne when I was born. They lived upstairs and the shop was below. My father used to cook rabbits for sale. They were very popular. He first used to cook them in the pressure cooker then he deep fried them, and sold them as roasted rabbits.

My earliest recollection of my childhood is of my parents playing a game called mahjong with some friends, and me sitting on my father`s knee "helping Dad to win", with a crocheted blanket over me. I am told that I was about 2 years old.

The blanket was made by my grandmother, Helen Cairns. She used to make lots of them and give them away to nursing homes. She liked to keep busy, and always liked to be doing something. She enjoyed going shopping even if it was only window shopping. She often used to go with my Aunty Peg.

I remember my father as being a very big man. He was a heavy drinker and a big eater. He always seemed to have second helpings of everything. In later life he developed diabetes and was forced to stay on a strict diet for his health. He lost a lot of weight for a while. Dad had black wavy hair, was clean shaven and was 6 foot 1 inch tall.


Auchenflower

I still had the travel bug at the time I met Jenny so I did not settle down with her straight away . I had several trips away for a while, to Britain and to Townsville, mainly to escape winter.

 Anyway, I gradually settled down with Jenny. She and her little red port moved in with me when I got back from Townsville and rented a flat at Birdwood Rd, Auchenflower. The flat was built in underneath an old Queenslander and there was a swimming pool in the backyard.  Jenny was still working during the day for Ken at that time and, as I recollect, still kept up her flat at Sapphire St. Most nights she was with me, however.

One amusing episode there was when I decided that I would like Ton Katsu for dinner. I therefore looked up Charmaine Solomon's cookbook for the ingredients, went out and bought them and told Jenny when she got home that we were having Ton Katsu for dinner. She had never even heard of it before but rose to the occasion with her usual culinary competence.  I took a lot of photos of Jenny when I was living in that flat. The first flush of romance, I suppose you could call it.



As the Sydney summer came on in early December, I left that flat to go down to Sydney again. I have always enjoyed Sydney and I still had a lot of friends and contacts there at that stage. I would probably never have left Sydney if the climate had suited me better. So I rented a unit at Bronte.  I invited Jenny to come down and share Christmas Day with me there.

 When I again went back to Brisbane with the onset of the Sydney cold weather, I lived in a room at the "Avon" guesthouse in Gregory Tce and Jenny continued on at her flat at Sapphire St. We still saw one-another all the time, however. I think it might have been then that we also did a trip up to Cairns to introduce Jenny to the area and to my mother.  When we got back to Brisbane I took yet another room at the "Avon".


Overseas in 1984

 New York.  Anyway, my next and final overseas trip soon came up -- in 1984. I was away for five months -- partly spent in New York and partly spent in London. I remember the whole trip cost me $14,000: Rather too much in retrospect.

I first spent the first month living in an old hotel just off Broadway on the upper West side of New York city. Boy, it was really summer there at the time! The hotel had no air-conditioning so I bought a small 110v electric fan which years later I gave to Timmy. After about a month I flew up to the Political Psychology conference in Toronto. It was intellectually a very incestuous affair with pervasive Leftist and psychoanalytic assumptions. No wonder it was the last one I attended!

Back in Australia

 When I got back from England and the USA I took a flat at Greenslopes -- again the lower part of an old Queenslander. This time Jenny gave up her flat to move in with me full-time. We stayed there for a while but with the onset of the Sydney summer, Jenny gave up working for Ken and we moved together down to Sydney. In Sydney we lived in my unit at 1/31 Elizabeth Bay Rd.

It was while we were there that Jenny catered for a Burns night in a vacant house at Glebe belonging to John Henningham. We had Haggis, "Dunlop" cheese etc. It was quite a feat for Jenny to cater for about 25 with the limited cooking utensils etc we had in Sydney at that time but the evening was a great success. Plutarch Gerolymatos, Boozy Suzy and a lot of the Mensans were there.

My main activity in Sydney at that time was selling off various Sydney properties I owned plus giving a few lectures at Uni NSW. Jenny loved living in the heart of Kings Cross while we were there and spent a bit of time exploring Sydney while I was at Uni etc. She discovered a little Vietnamese restaurant in the Haymarket that did Sate Pho so she loved that and went there a few times for lunch. Jenny likes Pho and Kim Chi almost as much as a Vietnamese or a Korean would.

I have an idea that the restaurant Jenny found might in fact have been the "New Hope" Vietnamese restaurant. I was always moved to tears by the very name whenever I walked past it. It started up shortly after Vietnamese boat people had started coming to Australia and that people had been through so much to find "new hope" in Australia was just somehow very moving to me. I felt so sorry for what they had suffered and so glad that they had found new hope. Just asking for hope seemed to be such a small ask. It was a very small and humble restaurant and has since been demolished.

We also bought my Jade green Ford Laser hatchback (for $7,000!) in Sydney at that time so eventually returned to Brisbane in two cars.  I was in the Laser and Jenny drove the Gemini.

21 Queen Bess St.

 When we got back to Brisbane I lived in a rooming house in Spring Hill (since demolished) and Jenny stayed at Ken's place (23 Camlet St, Mt Gravatt) while we looked for a place to buy as a home. We both liked old Queenslanders so that was what we mainly looked at. What we found was 21 Queen Bess St., Woolloongabba. It was an absolute slum at the time we first saw it but was basically sound so I bought and did it up with the assistance of Joe Grubb and other tradesmen he recommended.

It was rather beautiful when I finished with it -- long open verandahs with white iron-lace railings etc. It had six bedrooms and an extra-large dining room that became something of a family room. I think Jenny ended up with 12 power-points in her kitchen and also had a walk-in pantry!

It was at 21 Queen Bess St that Jenny first went on the IVF programme and conceived Joey at first try. It was largely Jenny's idea as I had long given up any thought that I could have children (I had previous expert medical advice to say I couldn't) but she was determined and thus achieved the best thing she ever did, in my view.


Paul, Suzy and Vonnie

From the beginning, Jenny's chidren by her previous marriage formed an important part of our relationship.  Only a few weeks after I first met Jenny, she introduced me to them. I called at 23 Camlet St., Mt Gravatt to pick them up. When I arrived in my Gemini wagon, Jenny came out with three tiny kids bobbing along behind her -- rather like a ship towing rowboats. Paul, Suzy and Vonnie got into the back seat of the Gemini and sat there in total silence as I drove along -- quieter than they have ever been since. Paul must have been about six and the twins four.

 Shortly after Jenny and I moved into Queen Bess St., all three came to live with us. So from that time on I saw quite a lot of the kids and made some contribution to bringing them up.

One amusing episode with Suzy was up in Cairns in 1987: Suzy had come up to Cairns with Jenny so was left in my care while Jenny was in hospital having Joey. Within hours of Jenny getting out of hospital, Ken, Maureen and family arrived to stay with us and see the baby.

While Ken, Maureen and everyone were sitting there talking, Jenny asked Suzy what it had been like with John looking after her. Suzy replied "John was a bully". This was greeted with a rather stunned silence by all concerned. The stereotypical evil step-parent no doubt occurred to all minds. Jenny then asked, however, "How was John a bully?". Suzy replied: "Because he wouldn't buy me a cream bun". She looked pretty puzzled at the gales of laughter this evoked. The episode does however tend to show two things: 1). How misleading the testimony of children could be; 2). The importance of cream buns. Suzy was 9 at the time.

I put in a roofed swimming pool at Queen Bess St. with the idea that fair-skinned people such as Susan and myself could swim without getting sunburned. The roof did however tend to make the pool rather cold and even a rudimentary solar-heating system that I installed did little to alleviate that. In the hot weather, however, the twins used to spend hours in the pool and even I used to get in around once a day.

It was also at Queen Bess St that we got a dog -- a female Bull-terrier named "Pepper". She was a rather weird dog but we enjoyed her greatly anyway. She functioned reasonably well as a watchdog in that she was a pretty good barker but if anyone had come in she would probably have only licked them to death. Bull-terriers look so mean, however, that nobody was likely to risk it. She had an unusually good coat for a bull-terrier -- mostly glossy black with splashes of white.

We had one or two barbecues and parties at 21 Queen Bess St but not a lot -- Though both Jenny and I and Ken and Maureen had our wedding receptions there.

Jenny and I were married on 30th. November 1985 at Ann St Presbyterian church -- my old church. The last of the major renovations (laying the verandah boards) at Queen Bess St were finished at 4pm that day and we were married at 5pm. Close!





A small note about a small point: I recognize the glass that I was drinking whisky out of. It is one of a sort that I use to this day: A large substantial tumbler. I have 10 of them.


The twins were there

The story of Jenny and me continues to this day in the year 2020 but here I just wanted to recall the complexities of our getting together. Jenny had a lot to put up with from my peripatetic nature in those early days. She is one of those heroic women who continue to support difficult men. Below you see us having Christmas dinner together in the year 2020 -- with our son Joe




Friday, July 30, 2021

My 4th marriage


Why someone would marry 4 times is probably a mystery to most so I thought perhaps that those who know me are owed some explanation

I have to say from the outset  that my relationship with K was an intensely sexual one and hence is not fit for publication (though I have my notes).  So I am to  degree leaving out the most significant parts of our times together

I met her on Sunday 3rd Sept., 1995 at 10.30 am. I was aged 50. She had placed a "Personal" advertisement in a singles circular called "Possibilities" describing herself as a "6' Amazon lady". Liking tall women as I do, I had to reply, though I felt at the time that a 6' woman would be unlikely to find me of interest as tall women are generally fanatical about not going out with men who are shorter than themselves.

I wrote to her in May but she took until September to ring me. We met in the Mall in central Brisbane, had a cup of tea there at Jimmy's cafe and then went for a walk in the Botanical gardens. It must have been less than an hour after we had met that we had a passionate kiss (in the Botanical gardens) and then walked with our arms around one-another through Brisbane to Central Railway Station -- outside which we had another very passionate and obviously public kiss: Not bad for people at our stage in life, when new relationships generally seem hard to form! I was soon very much in love with her, in fact.

K. has a self-image as being very kind, generous and helpful to all those she comes in contact with. I initially saw some evidence of that being true and it is of course something that I greatly respect. It immediately made me feel protective towards her. She was 47 at the time and a grandmother. She had two adult sons. 

She had already been married and divorced three times when I met her. Both her children were from her first marriage. I seem to recollect that she mostly lived in Lithgow during her first marriage.

After her first marriage broke up, she had spent nine years as a member of the Army Transport Corps -- where she reached the exalted rank of Corporal! Her duties in the Army were mainly clerical -- she arranged Army travel -- but she did various courses and also became a qualified weapons instructor! She has the sort of conservative views that one normally expects from an Army background.

After leaving the Army she had been in Real Estate for about 10 years -- ending up running her own Real Estate business. About a year before I met her, however, she had had a minor traffic accident which made her very anxious and insecure and thus made it very difficult for her to drive. This crippled her activities in Real Estate and caused her to sell her agency.

In her teens and twenties she had been quite an athlete. She represented N.S.W. in TWO sports -- swimming and basketball. Her height, of course, made her a natural for basketball. In my earlier years I had always perceived that there were some pretty good-looking sporting women around but never could get near to any of them because of my own lack of ability and interest in sport. So in my 50s I was very pleased to get myself one of the best of such women.

Other things that I liked about her were: The fact that we had most attitudes in common -- including a liking for classical music; the strong animal attraction between us; that she is (in fact) 5'10 1/2" tall and strongly built; her erect military bearing, her classically female figure and her long red hair and green eyes. She is a very attractive woman in almost every way and is in fact very close in size and shape to Elle Macpherson -- one of the world's most photographed women. Most people took her for being at least ten years younger than she in fact was.

Amusingly, K. and I are not only exactly the same height but we also have the same hat, shoe and glove size, eat exactly the same amount at mealtime and weigh almost the same. She even fits perfectly into my dinner jacket and trousers! I am a lot bigger around the waist than she is but she has a bigger bum.

Amusingly, despite her size and tomboyish image, K. has typically feminine arachnophobia. I came into her room once to find her lying virtually paralysed in her bed because there was a big (but harmless) huntsman spider on the wall opposite her. It ran onto a picture frame as I walked in so I just took the frame off the wall and walked out carrying the said spider -- which I then deposited harmlessly in the garden. I do not usually kill things if I can help it -- cockroaches and mosquitoes excepted. K thought I was very brave to walk out carrying something that had a big brown spider running around on it! Horrors! K. being so full of jollity most of the time we have a lot of laughs too. 

I met both her mother and father when they came to the wedding. Her mother is very dominant and her father is very quiet. He was an engineer of some kind and they were apparently fairly well off. They were living in the Newcastle area. 

Our relationship had lots of dramas almost from the start with virtually weekly upsets between us but less than three weeks after we met she had moved into Forest St to live with me. Pretty good going for both of us! On 4th October she agreed to marry me -- one month and one day after we first met. We also set the wedding date for just about as soon as possible -- 10th November (1995).

I took her to The Clansmen to place an engagement ring on her finger on a Saturday in early October (The Clansmen is an expensive Scottish restaurant that is one of the most prestigious in Brisbane). I wore the kilt but I think she was the one who looked the most Scottish -- or Gaelic anyway as I think it is in fact mainly Irish ancestry that accounts for her looks.

I have seen the results of some IQ testing she did and she scored quite highly generally but was pulled down by an atypically low score on verbal IQ. She does tend to mix up her words a bit and I think that she is in fact mildly dyslectic. She has had little formal education 

As a woman about to embark on her 4th marriage I am sure that radical feminists would regard K. as a great failure for feminism.

When one reflects that she was in the Army for 9 years, however, I think that one should say, quite to the contrary, that she is a far better feminist than most. She was a "man" among men and lived by their standards for all that time. She was on occasions the only women in camp with over 1,000 men -- and won their respect as a fellow soldier nonetheless. K. has shown in real life that she can live up to some of the most exacting of male standards for many years. How many of even the most butch feminists can claim the same? I don't see any of that as important myself but it could be a rather thought-provoking case-study for some feminists nonetheless.

Maybe some women might be helped to hear that a woman such as K. is still so totally feminine as to be swept off her feet by a man. 

On another occasion when I booked a motorized Gondola (from Breakfast Creek) to take the two of us for a ride and dinner on the Brisbane river, she got dressed and went out in my black dinner jacket and trousers with the white torsolette underneath and NO blouse. With black high heels on she was quite a vision on that occasion too. She looked far better in my dinner outfit than I ever could! She looked particularly good in high heels not only because she had long legs but also because she was so tall already. Having someone so tall in heels made it very obvious that it was all done for fun and titillation. The heels nearly tripped her when she got into the Gondola, however.

K. loves boats so the Gondola ride with its private seafood dinner was just about the ultimate turn-on for her. I did as a result have a very loving long body in my arms in that Gondola.

My son Joey and K. got on very well. K. does have a way with kids -- mainly because she takes them seriously and tends to talk to them as if they were adults. She and Joey used to play computer games such as "Civilization" and "Genesia" together quite a lot -- which the 8 year old Joey loved! He was very pleased and keen to get K. as a stepmother.

The wedding was in St Paul's Anglican Church at Ipswich and went off very well except for the 38 degree heat. We had the original 1552 Anglican prayerbook service, which was great fun.

The reception was at home at 24 Forest St but had one rather large hitch: The caterers didn't turn up! Christopher (my brother) and I went and got lots of Kentucky Fried Chicken instead, which was very popular.

We spent our wedding night in a big two bedroomed air-conditioned apartment overlooking the river at Dockside and we both had a great time  that night. A bridegroom is supposed to feel that he is the happiest man in the world on his wedding night and I certainly did.

We had a very good breakfast the morning after in the restaurant at the Treasury casino too. The honeymoon was a week in Cairns. It was a bit stressful as she chose the first day of the honeymoon to give up smoking. We practically split up the first day as she was extremely tense and distant towards me. I put it down to nicotine deprivation, however, and we seemed to get over that hump OK. While we were up North, I took K. to see Etty Bay outside Innisfail and told her that it was my favourite place in all the world. 

Shortly after we got back to Brisbane, however, she became quite irrationally hostile towards me. She seemed to want me to shut up and just pay the bills. That is more or less how her mother treats her father and she seemed to want to recreate the same sort of relationship with me. I am no saint, however, so would not abide that at all. I knew all along that she was fairly neurotic (which means that she over-responds emotionally to almost everything) but thought that I could deal with it. I was wrong.

What she finally walked out over (just three weeks after the wedding!) was fairly trivial but that is how neurotics are. She felt that I was "putting her down" in a remark I made -- even though I had no such intention. I would hardly want to put down the woman I loved!

Her response had a lot to do with that dreaded old status-sensitivity I suppose. My status as both a millionaire and an academic is unfortunately pretty intimidating to most people -- regardless of any attitudes or intentions on my part. Those whom the economic position doesn't intimidate, the educational background does -- and vice versa.

So on Thursday 30th November she moved back to her house at Leichhardt and went back on the dole amid considerable anger towards me. The only thing she seemed to want to talk to me about after that was money and she did get a bit out of me for the sake of peace: On 29th. November 1995, I gave her a cheque for $1828 to pay the arrears on her mortgage payments to the Dept. of Housing (the old "Housing Commission") on her house at  Avon St., Leichhardt. The house was on the verge of being repossessed at the time.

Her car in fact had already been repossessed by that time so I also gave her my car (the Laser), though it was 11 years old by then so that even on a trade-in I would probably have got only about $2,000 for it. The general idea behind these gifts was to enable her to re-start life as a single person.

There certainly were many signs throughout our time together of her not loving me but at times she did seem to love me too. She even wanted to have a baby by me using donor eggs and we went and saw Dr. Hennessey (of the Qld Fertility Group) about it before the honeymoon.

K. and I did get together briefly a couple of times after we split up. One of those occasions was when she invited me to attend her graduation ceremony for a training course she had done. I went and it turned out that she had trained as a Prison Officer -- for guard work in a MEN'S prison (Borallon). She had to train in unarmed combat, riot control etc -- and passed! She was the only female in the course but still did well. Not bad for a grandmother! She always was an athlete, of course.

Anyway she was very friendly with me and went around arm in arm with me introducing me as her husband. She looked pretty good in her uniform and it was great to have my arm around that big body again. She soon got cross with me again, however, so we obviously just could not understand one-another. I always loved seeing her, however.

Most people would probably see my brief marriage to K. as something of a disaster but I think of it fondly as one of the best experiences I have had. Why? Largely, I guess, because K. was physically my ideal woman. I absolutely loved her looks. Just being with her turned me on. And having sex with your goddess is pretty hard to beat as a life-experience. Most men do NOT get to marry their physical ideal. I did!

Throughout our relationship, she always seemed to need to have a lot of money spent on her. I was however so taken with having such a Goddess in my life that I did not care one way or another about the financial side of it all.

During our time together, she did however often seem to love me and she certainly loved our sexual relationship. Even after our splitup, she once said to me: "I really loved you, you know." And I believe her. 

Part of the reason why the marriage was so short-lived was my doing. By the time K. walked out on me I had met JHM. And that was also the experience of a lifetime. JHM is the only woman I have known whom I consider to be my cultural equal. We share a similar awareness of high culture (Classical music, classical literature, history etc). An example:

She once asked me while she was reading something: "What does 'peynted' mean?". Give up? I didn't. After just a moment I replied "It is Middle English for 'painted'". Unbeknown to me JHM was at the time trying to decipher a short Middle English poem and my answer was indeed what she needed.

So I probably could have got K. back after she walked out but I did not try. I was looking forward to getting to know JHM. I prioritized culture over great sex! Some women who know me well would not be surprised by that.