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.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

A dinner visit from Roxanne

An extremely welcome visit this evening from my sister Roxanne and her husband Stefan.  They had tried to get down from Rockhampton for my birthday but were put off by all the lockdown regulations.

They are both pretty voluble so the conversation flowed.  He works as a part-time mechanic and she is a primary school teacher.  She says the kids don't learn nearly as much these days as they once did. They live in  gorgeous multi-level house with ocean views located just outside Rockhampton.

Rox and I have lived very different lives.  She found her soul-mate in Stefan long ago and they have been pretty sufficient to one-another ever since.  They are both very energetic and have never stopped working.  So they are pretty well off.  They have 3 gorgeous daughters now grown up.  Rox and I get on pretty well but because of our different lives we rarely see one another.  

A the time of the visit I was not feeling very well so I had to get back to my bed shortly after the dinner.  Jenny made an excellent curry for us

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

My first marriage

It seems to me something of an anomaly that I have not put up here any memoir of my first wife. She and I remained in touch for many years so there is no reason for it.  And many of my recollections of her are rather fun

D. and I met at a Baroque Music Club meeting at Denis Ryan's place and one thing soon led to another. We lived together for a while before we got married. We first lived in a rented downstairs flat in Birriga Rd., Bellevue Hill.

D and I eventually decided to tie the knot . It was a registry office wedding on 9.2.1973.

Around the time we married, we bought together and subsequently lived in a small home unit at 1/27 Castlefield St, Bondi. We had a tabby cat there called "Purrfur".

I remember D. once asking me why it was that children always smile at me. "Do they?", was my response. I was unaware of it. I eventually figured out why, however. It was because I was smiling at them! I have always liked children.

D. also pointed out to me something else I did not know about myself -- that I changed my accent and way of speaking according to whom I am talking to. Among my University friends, I speak in an Educated Australian way but when talking to more working-class people such as petrol pump attendants (remember them?) I speak in a more Broad Australian way.

My tendencies of that kind are probably even more extensive than D. noted. In 1977 when I was living in England, the English were always saying to me what a "soft" accent I had. I spoke so much like them that they could hardly tell that I was an Australian, in other words.

D. was 18 months younger than me, so was another wartime baby. She was another of the many redheads in my life and was when I met her a science teacher at  a private girl's school in Sydney). She was about 5'7", had blue eyes, and was really lively.

She was fairly heavy and busty when I met her but she hated having any fat on at all and had quite a love-hate relationship with food. She did however eventually win the battle of the bulge and from about age 30 onwards she has been fairly skinny. She used to eat when she was upset so when she put on weight she used to claim that it was my fault for upsetting her!

Before I met her she used to ride motorbikes. So she had a tomboy element in her. I had a 200cc Yamaha two-stroke motor-bike (plus my Mazda 1300) when I met her and we later bought a light trail bike which we both rode.

Her mother was Scottish-born and D had some attachment to things Scots -- something we shared because of the Scottish traditions in my mother's family.

D. and I were in a way too alike in that we were both very dominant so the marriage broke up after a year.  I kept seeing her off and on after the breakup, however, as she is great fun to be with.

When I later married JP, she and I used to eat out all the time and D. was the one who most frequently joined us at these dinners. Pretty pally for an ex-wife! It shows that D. and JP got on very well but it also shows what fun company D. and I were for one-another. Not that we ever really saw eye to eye. She always thought I was a bit outrageous, in fact. She was however flexible enough to find that interesting and amusing.

Around that time D. had a boyfriend whom she "hid" from JP and me for about a year. She was afraid that I might look down on him. In fact I thought he was a good bloke when I eventually met him -- much to the relief of D. Funny relationships I sometimes have!

D. later took a Masters degree in psychology and became a government employee working with drug addicts. She is now very happily married to an American who finds her dominant ways just what Americans expect in women. He is a very nice bloke. 

She lives in Brisbane these days. In her later years she still had conventionally Leftist opinions -- such as a belief in global warming

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Regula Mühlemann

I have just discovered a new (to me) singer whom I really like: young Swiss soprano Regula Mühlemann.  She quite young but has already made a splash.  She has a wonderful strong voice.

I first heard her singing Exultate jubilate; which she made into the thing of joy that it was meant to be. She was also good in Et incarnatus est and a variety of other pieces

Her rendition of Schubert's Der Erlkoenig might not however win universal acclaim. It is a very jerky and hugely dramatic piece that you may have to know to appreciate what a superb job she did of it.  It is an old favorite of mine and I know all the words. And I can vouch that she suited her expression to every word.  It is  outstanding as acting as well as  musically

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

I am autistic

As a psychologist I have taken some interest  in autism.  I even took part in the big debates of a few years back about what it is and what causes it.  It had however never occurred to me that I might be one myself.  Recently, however two ladies who know me well assured me that I am "on the spectrum".  And it makes perfect sense.  I am fortunately at the better end of the spectrum.  I am a high-functioning autistic in most ways

Autism is always disabling.  Its key symptoms are communication difficulty and stimulus avoidance.  A lot of autistics don't even speak.  There is however a minority of autistics who have special "gifts" -- special abilities at a very high level -- most often in mathematics and music. Math and music are both very orderly and that can suit the autistic brain very well. The first thing that people usually notice about autistics is that they often have those freakish "gifts" 

I too have an unusual "gift" but in a different sphere:  I am eerily good at academic tasks.  I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation in 6 weeks for instance.  The average is about 3 years.  But academic gifts are not usually immediately obvious, so I think that a brief catalog of my unusual academic achievements might be in order to establish that I have been a lifelong autistic.

It all started in Grade 2.  Our "English" lessons consisted of the class repeatedly reading a story out of our school reading book until every pupil knew and understood every word in it.  And we could eventually all do that.  One kid would read one sentence and the next kid would follow with the next sentence and so on.

Then one day the teacher did a dastardly thing.  She asked us to close our reading books and tell the story as usual.  And all the kids could do that  -- except for me.  I had no idea what the next sentence was.  To the slack-jawed amazement of the other pupils, I was mightily praised for that.  The teacher realized that I was the only one who had actually been reading.  All the other pupils had simply been memorizing the story.

And I won't tell again here the story of the little boy blue. A bit too emotional for present purposes, I think.

And some time along the line my  my nickname became "the walking dictionary".  I unfailingly got 10 out of 10 in spelling tests.
Another amusement from primary school days resulted from the fact that we were taught parsing. I don't think you learn parsing at all in some curricula these days. Anyway, at the end of a parsing lesson the teacher thought he would amuse himself by asking the class to parse "Please".  I thought for about two seconds and popped my hand up.  "Yes, John", the teacher rather wearily said. He knew that I would get it and spoil his puzzle.  I replied:  "Verb in the imperative mood with subject understood".  The rest of the class were slack-jawed at that but I was of course right.

Then in high school I was known as "the walking encylopedia"  --  because I always had the answer to anything the teacher might ask -- even in work we had not yet studied.

A one stage we were studying a poem by Conrad that referred to the "throbbing" of a ship's engine.  The teacher asked what would be the cause of the throbbing. I replied "Probably a triple-expansion marine steam engine".  "Yes, Yes", the teacher said and moved on hastily. Steam engine cycles were obviously not his thing.

 And something at the end of junior school was particularly striking. I arrived at the Junior German exam half way through the 3 hour period allotted to it.  I still finished it with 30 minutes to spare and got an A.

And for Senior High School I was unimpressed with the syllabus and decided to teach myself.  I did so in one year and got good marks in my Senior certificate.

In my first degree, my thesis was marked down by staff whom I knew did not like me but it eventually got published in one of the academic journals so I had the last laugh there. Published bachelor's dissertations are rare

For my Masters degree at USyd I had a full-time job but enrolled as a full-time student anyway and got through with honours in one year (normal minimum 2 years).

And my Ph.D. was no flash in the pan despite the rapidity of its writing.  One of the markers said it was the most substantial body of work he had ever seen in a Ph.D.  And it did lead to ten disparate academic journal articles so it was an exceptionally distinguished Ph.D. Just getting one journal article out of a Ph.D. is generally considered creditable.  So my autism took me right to the top of the academic tree.  My previous achievements pale into insignificance compared with it

And in later years I had nearly 300 learned papers published in the journals.  At one stage I was getting papers published at the rate of one a fortnight (normal output one  a year).  So I had an autistic "gift" at the highest level.

So what about the disabling  aspects of autism?  What were they in my case?

The first emerged while I was still a toddler.  On a few occasions I simply fell over in a heap in a blackout -- to the great alarm of my poor mother. I actually remember my last episode when I  was about 6.  I was home from school talking to my very verbose mother and was doing chin-ups at the same time. I suddenly fell on the floor blacked out.  She of course took me to the doctor early on in my episodes who quite reasonably diagnosed petit mal epilepsy. 

But was it epilepsy I had?  In my late teens I consulted a specialist physician about it.  He said:  "If you have had no episodes in the last 15 yrs, you did not have it in the first place", which is reasonable.

So I think that what I had were autistic episodes.  To explain that however, I need to make a brief foray into the neurology of autism.  It is mainly caused by an overdeveloped cerebral cortex, one amusing side-effect of which is that autistic people tend to take rather large hat sizes!

So the large cortex admits and handles a large variety of stimuli.  But sometimes the rest of the brain cannot cope with all the stimuli and registers distress.  And that is where autistic stimulus-avoidance comes in.  The autistic brain protects itself from the stimulus flood in various ways, not always very adaptively.  Mostly the autistic simply leaves the field for a less stimulating environment but if that is not possible the brain will simply protect itself by blacking out.  Blackouts are not terribly uncommon so one does not always lead to a diagnosis of autism.  There is however some folk wisdom which usually leads bystanders to move the blacked out person to a quieter place and that is exactly what is needed.

And that is what happened to my toddler brain.  Being very young, all its capabilities were limited so if there was a lot going on around it it, it would simply black out.

My limitations also  came to the fore early in my schooling. Right from early primary school I hated sport. Almost all males have some interest in sport.  But to me chasing around in circles after a ball seemed simply foolish. It seemed like needless and prolonged complexity.  It does to this day.  So I was and am clearly quite abnormal there.

Another problem area was when my parents took me to the local agricultural show.  All the barkers and raucous music were soon  too much for me and I would tell my mother "Mum, my head is going funny".  Given my record of blackouts that got me taken straight home, to my relief. What had happened was that at some point all stimuli started coming to me as if from far away. It was an autistic filter and the preliminary to a blackout

I handled the uncongenial world about me while growing up by withdrawal:  While other kids were doing active things, I was a "bookworm". I spent most of my waking hours at home reading, mostly fiction but some non-fiction. That was unoubtedly bad for my social development but I eventually caught up with that well enough for most purposes

As I grew up, however, my ability to handle chaotic stimuli improved.  I could tolerate it for relatively long periods -- about two hours to be precise. 

And that limited capacity to handle a lot of sensory stimulus is with me to this day. In going to parties over the years I was notorious for leaving early.  Two hours was and is about my limit.  And the noisier the party the sooner I leave.  I was often told that by leaving early I missed good opportunities with women.  But I had other ways around that. I don't need parties to find congenial women

And that is what high-functioning autistics do.  They find ways around their limitations and usually do so with some success -- so that the limitations are usually barely noticed and are no problem.  There are only certain situations that are diagnostic

EPILOGUE:  I sent Anne the above essay and asked how  it fitted in to her observations of me.  She made one very good point.   She said that in the early years of our relationship I would not normally look at her when I spoke to her. I do remember that and it is of course classical autistic stimulus avoidance. Fortunately in more recent years I have stopped doing that

I suppose in conclusion, I should note that although I do have a social deficit, it is not of a crippling kind.  The large number of lovely ladies I have had as girlfriends (including 4 wives!) over the years must indicate a substantial degree of social skill

Does the picture of me when I was aged 4 show a rather larger head than usual? Because of their overdeveloped cortices, autistics do tend to have larger heads

Saturday, July 17, 2021

a small photography exhibit

A am not a great photographer but sometimes I get the spirit

Recently, I decided that I should get some record of the big paint job I had done on my house.  It had not been painted for 30 years so it was a challenge for the painters.  And it is a big house so took some painting -- ending up costing me over $30,000.  So below are a couple of shots of the results

Note Vladimir keeping his usual eye on proceedings

My renovated verandah railings -- as of 21 August, 2021

I saw Anne a usual on Saturday morning and thought she looked particularly nice.  I have previouly taken shots of her that were pretty poor so I though I should take care to get better ones this time.  Below are three shots I like

Isn't she a lovely lady?

Next is a picture of three people at my birthday dinner, Joe, Christopher and Henningham.  And a picture of my birthday cake -- a Pavlova

Thursday, July 15, 2021

A birthday celebration

My birthday dinner went well.  Present were:

* Jenny, ex-wife, carer and hostess with the mostest.  She fed us a mild Keema (curry) that I particularly like and which seemed to go down well generally.  And later she presented us with a large Pavlova for pudding.  Pavlova is a favourite of mine too

* Joe, son, who lit all my oil lamps for me

* Brother Christopher, who helped with the music in various ways

* Old friend from the 70s John Henningham, who was his usual jocular self and helped liven us all up

* Jill, an ex-girlfriend  who never went away.  We split up when I was around 60 but continued a close friendship.  We are both high culture people and the affinities between us were too strong to be forgotten.  We normally still see one-another for birthdays.  It's typical of what is between us that her birthday card to me centred around a quotation from Shakespeare

Graham was trapped in Victoria by the lockdowns and Anne was too ill to attend.  Anne did however manage to come over that afternoon for an hour or so  -- which was greatly appreciated.

I had an apology from my sister Roxanne.  She was going to drive down from Rockhamption but the virus restrictions freaked her.

We listened to a lot of music, mostly the more accessible end of the classical repertoire.  No booze.  As she usually is, Amira Willighagen was a great hit singing Puccini's "O babbino caro"

I also had a very loving email from Paris, France, which was the highlight of my day -- as that was from a lady I haven't seen for 55 years.  Feelings can be very enduring and overcome many obstacles

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The time I won a heart by singing a Nazi song

This happened over 50 years ago so perhaps I can risk mentioning it now

I was at the time a member of a folk-music club at which everyone was welcome to get up and sing if they wanted to.  I decided I would like to give it a go.

I was never a good singer so I had very little in the way of repertoire.  But I had been very interested in history since even my pre-teen years and the one big historical event that we were -- and still are -- constantly belaboured with was WWII and the Nazi era.  So I knew a lot about that.  I even had a record of Nazis speeches and songs with explanatory comments

Through playing that record many times, I had come to know a couple of the songs on it by heart.  So it was one of those songs that I decided to sing:  The Horst Wessel Lied, the song of the Nazi Brownshirts. I thought it was a good song musically. It was  bold of me to sing it as it did anger some of the audience

There was however in the audience an attractive little lady singer who had not noticed me at all up to that point.  She thought my singing was crap but was positively impressed by my self confidence in standing up in front of an audience and doing something unpopular.  No woman wants a wimp and  I was obviously in the opposite direction to that. So we were soon in communication -- leading to a rather raunchy relationship.

There is a recording of the song here:

Incidentally, the Horst Wessel Lied does not mention Jews.  It is basically an anti-Red song. I am very philosemitic so I would never have sung any anti-Jewish song.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Cantor Julia Cadrain

On Saturday morning I took the opportunity of introducing Anne to some Jewish music, with the Kol Nidrei starting us out. The Kol Nidrei is probably the most evil religious text ever written but it is sung in Aramaic so  people can just enjoy the music without bothering about what it all means.  And it is so powerful musically that it could have been written by the Devil himself.

But the big surprise was when I went on to some other pieces of music from the Central Synagogue in New York. 

With no prior knowledge of her at all, I came across the singing of Cantor Julia Cadrain on the bimah.  I was transfixed.  She had probably the most powerful female voice I have ever heard.  And yet it was completely sweet singing as well.  And you can feel the love in her singing.


I was tearful and incoherent after hearing it all.  It was so wonderful.  Fortunately Anne was there to sympathize with me.

The song itself is just another mish mash from Leonard Cohen called "Who live by Fire".  It probably means something but it is not clear what.  But it sounds good. Like the Kol Nidre, it is best not to bother with what the words mean

Update: There is a good version of the Kol Nidrei from the Central Synagogue sung by Cantor Mo Glazman.  See:

Sunday, July 4, 2021


Death from cancer is usually a slow business and so it seems to be with me.  I am however living as close to my usual life as I can -- and part of that is of course seeing Anne once a week, usually on Saturday mornings.  We have continued to enjoy doing that but I don't always report it here as what we do does not always vary a lot.

One thing  I often do is to bring along some novelty item -- usually a piece of jewellery that I think Anne would like.  

Below are two recent items -- a set of ceramic napkin rings originating from he Philippines and a filigree sterling  silver set of earrings and a pendant from England  The filigree set is a very fine piece  of work and the napkin rings should help dress up Anne's dining table next time she has a dinner party.

Last Saturday, the novelty I had on show was something I bought for myself -- a fancy bedside clock.  I now have 5 clocks in my bedroom.  I wonder if that is enough?

The battery in the clock gave us a bit of a drama. It was flat and nothing like Jenny or I had seen before.  It transpired however that it was a clock battery --  a battery especially made for small clocks. We got one from Battery World