Monday, July 18, 2022

An amazingly social weekend

I am a bit on the reclusive side so my social activities are usually very low-key. I broke out on the weekend just past however.

The weekend started with my usual Saturday morning breakfast with Anne. Such meetings normally follow a very uniform pattern. But this time we broke out. We went to a different eatery, the Spanish cafe at Stones corner and afterwards we visited a nearby bookshop instead of an OpShop. And we even bought jam donuts to accompany our late-morning cup of tea.

Then that night Jenny brought over an excellent Vindaloo. She makes them milder than usual, which I like

And next day Joe and I had our usual Sunday breakfast at the pie shop. We both had burgers. We discused politics as usual with a particular emphasis on the upheavals in the British Prime Ministership.

Then at around noon Zoe brought over a heap of food for a lunch date with two old friends of hers -- a beautiful Serbian lady and her fiance, Robert. I believe Zoe and I are going to their wedding soon so I think Zoe wanted me to get to know them before that.

They arrived around 1pm, which gave Zoe time to get everything ready. Zoe provided excellent food of the sort she usually makes, incuding a raw food salad and various cakes. We all got on very well with energetic conversation. Robert turned out to be conservative, which helped. Zoe tended to get deep into her usual idiosyncratic topics but I managed to rein her in on that before it became a conversation-stopper. And I did rather overdose on the cakes.

Zoe with her friends. I liked that blouse she was wearing

Then that night I had one of my men's dinners arranged. Graham turned up about mid-afternoon as he usually does and at that hour it coincided with Zoe's departure. So Zoe and Graham got to meet. He said he liked her. Zoe is a very forceful conversationalist and she gave Graham both barrels. The three of us went for a short walk together so she had considerable access to Graham's ear about chemtrails and such things. It was all rather jolly so Graham coped well.

At 5:30 I started to cook the food for our men's dinner. I provided the usual savoury mince but this time I added some spag bol -- with a special pasta instead of spaghetti. The spag bol turned out rather well but most of my guests settled for the savoury mince, which they always like.

Present were Graham, Henningham, my brother, Joe and myself

The conversation roared, assisted by the fact that we were all pretty well on the same page politically. As usual, we had "show and tell". My brother brought over what he claimed was a replica of a Roman Gladius. It was a very nice sword but it didn't look like a Gladius to me. But perhap my memory is faltering. I got out my British cavalry sword so there was a bit of waving swords about going on for a little while.

But the best show and tell was some war medals that Henningham brought over -- from his own forebears and from his wife's. He had the citations accompanying the medals. His own ancestor's medals included a Military Cross, a most distinguished decoration. So we discussed the folly of war a bit

There was wine on the table but nobody drank much. My brother bought with him an abomination: Non-alcoholic gin. He has been on the wagon for a while. I too have had periods of teetotalling so had some understanding of his recourse to strange beverages.

We all parted in very good spirits and Graham did most of the washing up afterwards, as he usually does. He had come up from Victoria for the dinner so he stayed overnight.

Then this morning Graham and I breakfasted together at my place -- Just tea and toast -- preparatory to his flyng back to Melbourne

Saturday, July 16, 2022

A famous hymn

I mentioned yesterday my satisfaction with the high cultural level of some of the conversations that Zoe initiates with me. She is really quite erudite, a rarity in the women I usually meet. Being a European, she is mainly interested in European literature, particularly Russian literature. Serbs and Russians traditionally think highly of one another. Via a cascade of treaties, it is thinking that once led to a world war, very sadly. I too have a considerable interest in European literature, though mainly German in my case

Zoe did not start to learn English until she was aged 45 so her knowledge of the vast heritage of literature in English is very patchy. That led to another conversation between us yesterday. She had not heard of that much-loved English hymn, "Jerusalem". And what Blake's words in that hymn are about tends to be poorly understood even by most English speakers

I mentioned the hymn in connection with a blog entry I had recently put up. I mainly blog about politics but I do sometimes venture farther afield. My blog entry was aimed at elucidating what Blake's words were all about. There was a recent article on that topic which I thought missed the point. My blog entry is here but perhaps I might reproduce my comments from it below, together with the Delphic words concerned.

I wrote:

"The author below is very learned but seems to be unaware of the British Israel conviction. That conviction was common among the congregation at my old Presbyterian church in Ann st., Brisbane back in the 1960s, though I doubt that it had any sort of official church acceptance.

There are varieties of the conviction but the basic theme is that the British are the true heirs of the Israel of old and that Jesus at some stage visited England in recognition of that. Blake was clearly of that conviction. It was a common conviction in the 19th century. Blake was simply reflecting on his religious convictions in the poem"

The words:

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?

And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark Satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold
Bring me my arrows of desire
Bring me my spear! Oh, clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire

I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Til we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land!

A good performance:

Friday, July 15, 2022

More birthday felicitations

Jenny joined me for breakfast at Stones Corner this morning, where I had what I suspect may be the world's best ham sandwich. I like it enough to think that.

After breakfast she took me to an OpShop we had not visited before -- at Coorparoo near the level crossing. It specializes in all things retro and the variety in glassware and crockery was amazing. It was like visiting an art gallery. Because I already have too much of that sort I did not buy anything but Jenny bought some sheet music, with Joe in mind.

Then at her usual eccentric hour of 4pm Zoe came over for lunch. She brought with her one of her impromptu pies featuring egg, potato and much else. It was both tasty and filling. She is a good cook

And her talents are not limited to cookery. She must be the most intellectual lady I have met. Our conversation after lunch was wide-ranging. She started out telling me something about Stefan Zweig's biography of Rilke. As it happens I had in fact read some of the poems of Rainer Maria Rilke -- in the original German -- but I doubt if I will ever meet another lady who would know of him. Zoe went on to mention William Faulkner, Rudolf Steiner, the pineal gland and Solzhenitsyn's last book. And she is always talking about history. And we have both read most of the major works of Russian literature. It was very pleasing to me to have a conversation with her at such a high cultural level. Definitely a good birthday present.

The present she bought me was a large solar-powered lamp. We are both rather into lamps

And she seems to have gone rather cold on her wish to return to her old stamping ground of Belgrade in Serbia. It was for a while going to be next September but it now seems to have been pushed back to next May. She misses her native land. We have been talking about her visiting there for just one month but there is some possibility that she may want to move back there permanently. I hope not and suspect not

We have a very affectionate relationship and the birthday card she gave me reflects that

Thursday, July 14, 2022

My 79th birthday celebrations started well today

Anne came over and at my request cooked me an excellent lunch of schnitzel with roast potatoes. She got the potatoes to perfection: fluffy inside. We ate on my verandah in the sunshine. And we shared a bottle of Tyrrells Verdelho, my favourite white wine. After lunch we listened to music as usual. And I got a good birthday kiss.

And Jenny came over to cook me a dinner of cevapi, again at my request. We had it in my dining room. She got the cevapi to perfection and she provided lots of accompaniments to go with it. For dessert we had apple pie. She came over early to put up decorations. Joe joined us for dinner and between us we polished off a bottle of Seaview Brut "champagne". Both Joe and Jenny stayed overnight, which I liked.

An unusual happening was that I got my century-old Bilhorn Telescope portative organ out of the garage and gave it to Joe. It sounded as good as ever when he played it, despite it having been in storage and unopened for over 30 years

Some pix:

My dinner. I have champagne glasses but I chose to put out crystal goblets for it on this occasion

Dinner decorations

Joe playing the Bilhorn

Monday, July 11, 2022

Falling in love

My heading above must index one of the most discussed topics there is but I have come across a commentary on it that seems original to me. So I am putting the opening part of it up below. The author is one lucky lady. She seems to be a real-life version of what Johnny Cash was talking about in his extremely romantic "Ring of fire" song. I will add a personal note at the foot of the post below

Jenny Mundy-Castle

“That was when,” Michael reflects as we sit in front of a semi-roaring campfire, his back propped against a large gray rock, “I realized there was no act of falling in love. By the time I knew I’d fallen there, I’d already been there for months.”

My head sinks deeper into his lap as I stare at the black, black sky, orange sparks like infinitesimal fireworks leaping into that depth. “So you just sort of, found yourself there? Like it was a place?”

He’s been showing me love, teaching me what it means, though I’m not yet certain if he understands the extent of this lesson, this need of mine.

“Exactly,” he continues. “People use that verb, ‘falling,’ when they talk about love, but I was so drawn to your words, your character, and didn’t know why. I kept it from myself, almost like protecting myself from this massive thing I’d never have let happen if I caught myself falling.”

I close my eyes and think back to the first time he wrote those words, I love you. I lived seven thousand miles away and we were both embroiled in messy divorces and there was no present, certainly no future, all we had was this crazy situation, this fact of where we’d clearly, irrevocably, found ourselves: in love. “I think it was like that for me, too,” I say.

Since that time in front of that campfire in the mountains of Northern Idaho, seven years have passed and millions of tiny moments that are also stories; moments that have shown me more about the nature of love as I now understand it, because this is what the man I’m about to marry has taught me.

The idea that falling in love is a gradual process is what struck me about the story above. There is loving and there is falling in love, with the latter being a more intense process. And that process usually seems to be portrayed as sudden.

I think my own recent experience followed the outline above. Zoe and I are not an obvious match but we appealed to one-another from our first meeting -- at the very beginning of this year. But it was certainly not love at first sight. We kept seeing one another frequently and our appreciation of one another grew over time.

There were a lot of issues between us that we needed to sort out but we had a lot of good and fun times too. But we eventually got the issues sorted out more or less and I knew for some time that I had come to love Zoe. Very recently, however, I realized that I was actually in love with her. I think of her all the time. And that makes me very happy. Fortunately, she reciprocates my feelings. Pretty good going for two people in their 70s!

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Three surprises -- two good, one bad

An odd aspect of life in Brisbane is that people who live on the Southside rarely visit the North side -- and vice-versa. There's no absolute rule about it, just a strong tendency. So I live on the Southside and the Northside is an almost complete mystery to me. There could be dragons there for all I know.

And that has just tripped me up. I had read good reports of an eatery called the Grub St Cafe at Gaythorne but it was on the Northside and I had never even heard of Gaythorne. It didn't sound like my sort of place. So I had put off going there for YEARS. Jenny however is a keen driver in her new Hyundai "Venue" so she readily agreed to drive me there yesterday.

It was a complete disappointment. The place appeared to be under new management and the old menu that I had so fancied was completely gone: No Reuben sandwiches, no Merguez etc. So I chose the one thing on the menu that sounded a bit unusual: A Cajun chicken burger. Sadly, the chicken was completely tasteless. It did not even taste chickeny. So Jenny and I had wasted our time, though Jenny didn't mind what she had -- Singapore noodles.

Since were so far out of our normal orbit, however, we decided to have a look at the OpShops near there. And we found a big Vinnies. And I hit a jackpot. I picked up a cute little kerosene lamp that reminded me of the one I had as a nightlight by my bed when I was a kid. It even looked to be in new condition.

Two recently bought mini lamps with a standard hurricane lamp for scale. The lamp with the ceramic base is the one I bought yesterday

So the breakfast and the lamp were two surprises

Zoe, Anne and I are all lamp enthusiasts so Zoe was inspired when she saw my new one. Zoe and I are both bargain hunters but we look in different places. Zoe mostly visits garage sales and I mostly visit OpShops. On seeing my new lamp, however, Zoe immediately decided that she would become an OpShop customer too. She will probably be giving the ones near her place a workout today

The bully beef

The third surprise was bully beef. It is probably Australia's least prestigious food but I like it. Sadly, I have never found a lady who agrees with me on that so I rarely buy it. Recently, however "Hamper" have put out a bachelor-size tin of the stuff. So I have now made a few sandwiches with it. Thickly spread with tomato slices on top between two slices of toast it is gourmet food to me

Speaking of food, there was a recurent theme a little while ago in which young people were criticized for breakfasting on smashed avocado on toast. That might have made sense when avocadoes were $3 but now that they are around $1, that would seem to lose point. I often make it for breakfast these days

Thursday, July 7, 2022

My siblings: Christopher and Roxanne

I have put up a lot of memoirs about the ladies in my life so perhaps it is timeI said a little more about my birth family. My sister Jacqueline is deceased so I say below a little about the early days of my two siblings who are still alive and kicking. I have previously made a few notes about my experiences of them as adults. I reproduce those notes also below

My mother had my brother Christopher and my sister Roxanne rather late in life (unplanned pregnancies, I am almost sure) so I remember something of their infancies.

Chris was born in 1955 and Roxanne in 1958. So Chris is 12 years younger than me and Roxanne 15 years younger. Mum must have been 25 when she had me, 37 when she had Chris and 40 when she had Roxanne.

Chris had a problem of sugar intolerance as a baby which nearly killed him (it gave him diarrhoea) but an old nurse (A Mrs Whittington) who lived over the road in Campbell St. told my mother to feed him junket tablets for it. That worked and he has had no similar problems since to my knowledge.

My mother used sometimes to call Chris "my little cookie", which my father soon transmuted into "cookbook" and my father often addressed Chris as "cookbook". I also now occasionally embarrass Chris by calling him that.

I remember that all the other kids in the street used to come and play with Chris. He was the popular one in the family. I used to sit opposite him at the tea table and would tend to look at him with interest and affection while dining. He did not like that at all and every now and again he would complain, "Mum, John's looking at me!" I would then desist.

He was a great go-kart freak as a kid and when he got a bit older this translated into a love of motorbikes. As I like motorbikes too, it was something for us to talk about at times in later life.

Because they are so much younger than I am, I remember the childhoods of both Christopher and Roxanne quite well. My most amusing memory of Roxanne is of her at about age 3 waving her little arm at our father (Frank) and telling him off over something. He of course was just listening and smiling at her. I also remember that if she was ever going anywhere and Frank was in the way he would always step aside for her. He just doted on her of course.

Another memory along similar lines is of my mother trying to get the 3 or 4 year old Roxanne to do  various things -- to which Roxanne would reply loudly: "but I don't wanna". That generally seemed to be taken as a fairly decisive objection.

Roxanne was the good-looking one in the family. There is one photo of her in the sidebar and I have other photos of her as a little mite with blonde hair and blue eyes that look very lovely indeed: Very much like her daughter Katie.

I think that she and I share the same hyped-up type of nervous system -- which may explain why in her early adult life she commonly had three jobs at once. Apart from her love of work (no doubt inherited from our father) she was quite a hippie for a while in that she liked informality and hippie style dress. When all her children were grown up, my mother used to say that she had four totally different children: An intellectual (me), a bikie (Christopher), a hippie (Roxanne) and a Lesbian (my sister Jacqueline).

Christopher and his wife Kym now have two children of their own: Maddie (Madeline) and "Cricket" (James). Roxanne and her husband Stefan have three daughters, Katie and the twins. The twins are named Emmeline and Kelly. The first is no doubt named after Ms. Pankhurst and the latter after the maiden name of my mother's mother: Both names would then appear to reflect my mother's influence.

May 22, 2008

A rare family photo

The photo below is (left to right) of my niece Katie, my brother Christopher and my sister Roxanne. My sister Jacqueline was also in the original photo but she is terminally ill with the family illness (breast cancer) and not looking good at all so I think I am being respectful in cropping her out of the photo below. Katie is the daughter of Roxanne.

Taken a few weeks ago

September 5, 2017

A reunion

I sometimes nearly forget that I have a sister. She lives quietly in Rockhampton and it is many years since I have been to Rockhampton.

She is however a very vivacious woman so I was greatly pleased that when she was briefly in Brisbane this evening, I was able to shout her a dinner at the "Sunny Doll". Her equally lively husband was with her plus her daughter Katie. Katie is rather quiet. Maybe she could never get a word in edgewise when she was growing up with two very chatty parents.

My brother Christopher was also in attendance as was Jenny. Joe had to work back so arrived rather late but everyone was pleased to see him when he did arrive.

Roxanne was in good form and many things were discussed. I was updated on why and how Rox was "bumptious" during her schooldays and we decided that she got it from her very independent mother. Her mother was also a great talker. We decided that there should be more bumptiousness.

We also mentioned my Aunt Maude. Yes. I did have an actual Aunt Maude! How oldfashioned can you get? My mother was a very critical woman -- I probably get my irreverence from her -- and I recollect that there were only two people she normally spoke well of -- her niece Shirley and her sister Maudie. Stefan said that when he met Maude, she dismissed him as "blue collar". That would have been Maudie. She was a toughie.

In her youth Rox was something of a hippie. Yet now she is a contented wife and mother. How come? In her youth she found most of the males she met to be too shallow. But then along came Stefan, who was just right for her. He is intelligent, very verbal and with a very positive outlook. And they have been together a long time now and still seem to greatly appreciate one another. The pretty little shop assistant met the tall slim telecom technician. And that was it. Roxanne is a teacher these days.

Joe had a few chats with his cousin Katie and it was an amusing contrast to see them together. Katie is rather short and slight and Joe is 6' and well-built so he rather towered over her. Her father Stefan is about 6' tall so her height is a little surprising. Roxanne is also rather slight so Katie seems to have taken after her mother entirely.

At one stage I mentioned that I am a great fan of Mr Trump! Both Rox and Stefan could see that the constant barrage of negative comment about him from the media was biased and unbalanced

The food was good as usual and we had coffee there afterwards

December 19, 2017

A big reunion

One member of my birth family is already deceased but the three remaining were together for once on Tuesday night: Roxanne, Christopher and I. Rox and Stefan came down from Rocky for a couple of days and this time brought their twins down with them: Emmeline and Kelly. Christopher arrranged the Tuesday night dinner at the Story Bridge hotel. It's a beautifully renovated old hotel but their prices reflected that. They were eventually full-up even on a Tuesday night so many people are presumably used to hotel prices (steaks around $35). The food took about an hour to arrive after being ordered but that is common in hotels and what did eventually arrive was good.

People were a bit slow to arrive but we eventually had both of Christopher's children: James and Madeline. Madeline brought along her girlfriend, dressed in an American burlesque sort of way.

Kym came too and readily took the bait when I made a few old-fashioned conservative statements, such as referring to Ceylon as Ceylon. Kym is very "Progressive" and politically correct but she has a good sense of humour too -- which she undoubtedly needs to get on with her husband, my brother, whose attitudes are similar to mine. One thing I noticed was that she tossed her hair a lot when she was trying to needle me. She has a lot of hair so why not use it?

Anne came with me but Joe could not come due to a clashing engagement.

The twins were both nice-looking young ladies but one was short and one was tall. Emmeline was the short one and Kelly was tall. Roxanne is 5'4" so that explains Emmeline and Stefan is just over 6' so that explains Kelly. With her mother's pretty face and her father's long legs, Kelly was quite striking to look at. Tall women do tend to have an advantage in that way. She is also socially pleasant and has the light of intelligence in her eyes.

I should explain that. I find I can tell highly intelligent people just by their eyes. I am not sure I can explain it but it has something to do with them taking long gazes at things. They see more so take longer to look at people and things. They have a "seeing" (reflective, searching or enquiring) gaze. Kelly's father Stefan has it too.

Stefan is a great conversationalist so helped keep everyone near him interested. He could talk to me about house renovations and talk to Christopher about old motorbikes, for instance.

Roxanne talked a lot about her experiences in Saudi Arabia and their attitude towards women. She was in Saudi for a couple of years while Stefan was there making big money as a telecom technician. Roxanne is quite critical of negative attitudes to women so you can imagine what she thought of the Saudis. Her twins were born there so it is a small oddity that two very Nordic looking young women have birth certificates in Arabic. There are not very many blonde and blue-eyed Arabs.

Christopher was in good form, buying drinks for a lot of people. Business must be good at the moment. Anne enjoyed meeting the twins and talking to a lot of the family.

October 1, 2018

The Smiths of Rockhampton

Our mother gave my splendid sister quite a pretty Christian name but about 30 years ago she married a very fine man who was a Mr Smith. And they are still together, wonder of wonders. And Smith is a very useful surname. When you give your name as Smith and people give you strange looks you can produce ID that completely authenticates you.  But you are still almost as anonymous as if you had used a real false name ("real false name"?) Who in his right mind would even try to track down a particular Mrs Smith out of all the millions of Smiths worldwide?  You might be traceable if you lived in Ulan Baator but that is about all.  And with all due respect to Ulan Baator, not many Smiths would want to live there.

So to preserve their valuable anonymity I am going to refer only to "Mr & Mrs Smith" in my ramblings below.

I kitted up for my brief stay by packing my genuine Cabrelli wheeled bag.  Cabrelli are mostly distributors of ladies' fancy handbags but they do luggage too. I was given mine but I rather like it.  I don't like the hard angles of traditional suitcases

Anne and I arrived on the Tilt Train at Rockhampton station at about 6:45pm Friday 28th and were met by Mr & Mrs Smith.  They had booked us in to a very flash motel so Anne and I just dropped our bags off there and we all went to dinner at a nearby Malaysian restaurant.  It was rather flash as such restaurants go but the menu had us all a bit bamboozled. I have been in Malaysian restaurants before so I immediately suspected that the cook might be rather "creative", which is often not good.  Anyway we ordered and found that the food was indeed "creative". But we got it down. I paid the "creative" bill.

But the company was good so the food was not an issue.  I have seen the Smiths rarely over the years so getting to know them better seemed long overdue.  We discovered fairly soon that our political views are not lightyears apart.  The Smiths even had a good word to say about Mr Trump!  You see why I am preserving their anonymity!  We are actually something of a conservative family. Myself, my son and my brother rarely disagree on much in our extensive discussions. The twin studies tell us that Left/Right orientation is highly hereditary so that should not have been a surprise.

What the Smiths approve of in Mr Trump is mainly his opposition to political correctness.  As Mr Smith said to me, "If I think a think why can't I say it?"  And they also saw Trump's shaking up of the existing political system as being a very good thing.

Mr Smith is a technician by trade so is good with his hands.  He enjoys putting mechanical things right.  So even though he is now officially retired he still does stuff like that for its own satisfaction -- though he also is well paid for it.  There are zillions of people knowledgeable in the arts but practical men are in short supply.

An interesting thing that I share with the Smiths is that we have both done rather a lot of real estate renovations and made good money doing so.

And their most recent project has been to build a really swish place for themselves to live in.  The result is immaculate.  It would even get approval in Amsterdam.  From the outside it just looks like a simple and humble suburban home but once you get inside you find lots of rooms with every conceivable facility. And it has great views from the top story.

When they bought it, it was basically sound but a big mess -- a big enough mess to deter most buyers.  So they got it for a very reasonable price. Then over a period of many months they got it right, doing a lot of the work themselves  -- but getting in the experts where appropriate.  They are justly proud of their result.

Mrs Smith has done many jobs over the years, including a spell at a meatworks where our father also worked.  She liked the orderliness of how the place was run. You didn't know that an abbatoir could be orderly, did you?  It hadn't occurred to me. Nowadays she is a senior teacher at a Primary school.  She does not teach a regular class but fills in doing all sorts of jobs that keep the place running.

She is very critical of the Department of Education.  She says that they are always issuing new instructions about things that should be taught -- thus taking time away from the regular curriculum.  But the innovations tend to drift away after a while and the school gets back to doing the same things they always did. The bureaucrats can propose and instruct but it is the workers "at the coalface" who determine what is actually done. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

The Smiths are very health conscious and avoid eating any food  that might be a bit suspect. They are big on vegetarian food but are not fanatical about it. My indulgent lifestyle rather horrified them so I did mention to them that my last blood test showed me to have the internal organs of an 18-year-old.  Even my blood sugar was dead centre. So my indulgent lifestyle hasn't hurt me yet.  And seeing that Mrs Smith and I share 50% of our genes, what is OK for me is probably OK for her too. So I wonder whether that will move them towards a more relaxed diet in some way.

But they have me totally beaten in their fitness.  They still walk miles on a daily basis and do things like cycling up hills!

On Saturday morning the Smiths took Anne and me on a tour of the region, seeing mountains and seascapes and localities etc. I was particularly impressed by the many old buildings from the Victorian and Edwardian eras that still stood in Rockhampton. Instead of tearing their beautiful old buildings down like a lot of fools elsewhere have done, the Rockhampton people have renovated most of their old buildings to look as good as new.  That was a most pleasant surprise to an old sentimentalist like me

The thing I was most interested in seeing in the region was the immensely controversial Iwasaki resort at Yeppoon  -- now known as the Capricorn resort. It is mostly dormant at the moment awaiting a refit but nothing has ever moved fast there.  The extensive buildings are still all there but the grounds are not up to an immaculate standard at the moment.  In one of the few parts of the resort that is still operating is the Japanese restaurant -- so the Smiths were kind enough to stop there even though Mrs Smith is very suspicious of Japanese food. I of course am a great fan of Japanese food.

I shouted lunch there and Mrs Smith decided on ordering the Japanese curry.  I encouraged that by noting that Japanese curry is always delicious without being "hot".  In the end she did seem to enjoy it. Anne and I had the pork Tonkatsu, which was as good as it comes.  The restaurant was pretty packed when we arrived so many of the locals must share my opinion of the food there.

After lunch we went to have a look at Yeppoon, which I had heard of as a beach to which people from inland go for their holidays.  So I expected a small village. I found however that it was a substantial town with lots of shops and facilities.

As it happened, Emu beach was nearby where Anne used at one time in the now distant past to go for holiday breaks. A friend of hers once owned a holiday house there.  So she was interested to revisit the house and take some photos of it, which she did

All in all, the Smiths went to a lot of trouble to make our stay comfortable and interesting, which was much appreciated.

The Smiths also insisted on paying for our two nights at the motel. It was a large and imposing apartment motel which was very spacious and comfortable and with good views of the huge Fitzroy river.

It was however odd in having neither a minibar nor room service.  Life is full of surprises.

On Saturday night neither Anne nor I felt like a big dinner after our Japanese lunch so we just had Angus burgers at a nearby steak house.  And they were remarkably good.

We managed to get up at 6am the following Sunday morning to get a taxi back to the railway station. And the taxi driver was a chatty Australian, which was rather a blast from the past  You mostly get Indians with limited English as drivers in Brisbane

I did not like the trip on the Tilt Train. Too slow and cramped.  but I have expanded at length on that elsewhere.

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

Monday, July 4, 2022

A disgraceful Sabbatical in London

In 1977 I had a Sabbatical year in London. It was a lively time involving some people I would not want to embarrass but as I am getting on I think the time has come for me to put up a version of the notes I made at the time.  The events concerned did after all happen 45 years ago now.

I was given an  office at the Institute of Psychiatry by Hans Eysenck (now deceased) but I did not see a great deal of him. He was a very quiet sort of a person. Not what one expects of the (then) world's most quoted living psychologist. 

My Scottish wife was with me until about July when she had to return to Australia.  When she left I was not inclined towards a monk-like existence so "let my hair down" a bit in the following months and made a lot of female friends

Susan B

One of the more remarkable of these was Susan B. I met her at an Intervarsity Club (IVC) do. She is a medical practitioner by occupation (which shows that she was a pretty bright woman), was about 38 at the time (but could pass for being in the mid-20s) and is far and away the most beautiful woman I have ever known. Her looks just bowl everyone over. People just stop talking when she enters the room. She had the looks and figure of a top model (though at 5'7" she was a bit short to be a model) plus very white skin, long blonde hair and blue eyes. She also has a political outlook similar to mine. 

Her beauty has had an unfortunate outcome, however. It means men are never honest with her. They will say and do anything to get into her pants. The result is that she has taken refuge in the bottle. She is a dipsomaniac (binge drinker). 

I of course was my usual blunt self and she liked that greatly. In fact, when I returned to Australia, she followed me out here within a month or two and wanted me to marry her. It was a tough decision for me. Being pursued by a beautiful and gifted woman certainly is some sort of pinnacle. We really saw eye to eye, I really liked her, bedtimes would have been good, she would have made me much sought-after socially and, as I was a fairly heavy drinker myself at the time, the booze would not have been a great problem. I would just have had to keep her off it during the day and all would be well. 

I think the main thing that made the decision for me was that I really liked my wife at the time (I still do). Not only was she invariably pleasant, cheerful, loving and easy-going but we had similar interests in the social and life-sciences and I also found her body more sexy: She had a great figure. I suppose I like sexiness more than beauty. The two have something in common but are far from the same. And my wife certainly made life much easier for me than Suzy would have.  

Margaret T

Another real lady I met in London was Margaret T. I still correspond with her occasionally. She is about 10 years younger than me. I met her at an I.V.C. party as well. Her mother is the daughter of an Earl so has the title "Lady". The present Earl (who sat, of course, in the House of Lords at that time) is Margaret's uncle. It is a Victorian title but via another lineage she traces back her ancestry for about 1,000 years. Only the gentry can do that

Margaret is a really kind and gentle person -- 5'10" tall, slim, with very blue eyes, brown hair and quite a nice slim figure. I spent a day or two at her family's stately home.  She wanted me to marry her too. But again at the time I preferred my good-hearted and sexy Scottish wife. It was a close-run thing, however, and I had Margaret in mind for many years afterwards. 

Margaret at one time took me to see one of her uncles. I initially got that frozen reception that the English upper class reserve for someone who is not one of them but things changed rapidly as the conversation progressed. The English upper classes tend to be to the Right of Genghis Khan and this one was no exception. When I started defending various Right-wing views in a way more plausible than he had ever heard before I was very rapidly transformed into a very "sound" chap in his mind and we ended up getting on quite well. 

At that time I think that I could have had almost any social "entree" that I wanted. England at that time was a very good place for someone with Rightist views. The upper class set the tone for the middle class and it is only in the Universities and among the working class that Left-wing views were normative. I moved in the best of circles while I was in England. I even attended a small private garden party in Kent at which Mrs Thatcher (then Leader of the Opposition) was a guest. I got to have a chat with her. There were of course some upper and middle class people in Britain who lean to the Left but they generally kept pretty quiet about it in company. 


I met a very pretty little Perth (W.A.) girl in London too. I think her name was Debbie. I chatted her up on the Bayswater station of the London underground. She had just qualified as a medical practitioner and was having her big trip before starting work. She was very bright, good-natured and cheerful and was slim with a very nice set of breasts. I've got a topless photo of her somewhere to show just how nice.   

 She had blue eyes and blonde hair. She had quite a nice dress-sense, too: simple but attractive and probably fairly fashionable. We could have got on quite well if I had made a bit of an attempt at it but I suppose my wife again suited me better. Still, taking Debbie to bed every night would have been a bit of alright, as the Cockneys put it. She was, however, very attached to Perth and her family so I would have had to move there, I suppose. She would have been about 24 at the time -- when I was 34. The fact that I knocked back a pretty, good-natured young blonde with a good figure and a medical degree to boot does seem a bit hard to believe in retrospect, though. Most men would have busted a gut not to let one like that slip through their fingers. She was real quality. Maybe she was a bit short for me, though -- about 5'4". 

We went out together only a few times, mostly to I.V.F. dos. I still remember her effect on the other (English) females at one of them. She looked so much better than they did that they were quite abashed: Like a young rose among withered gerberas. The fact that I was an academic must have helped them feel outclassed too. 

When she had to move on from London (in accord with her itinerary) I just let her go. Still, getting the pants off  TWO very attractive female medical practitioners in London in the space of a couple of months was rather incredible going. I obviously had what it takes in those days. Every dog has its day, as they say. No wonder I think London is a good place, I suppose. 

The Research Assistant

 I spent a few nights with one of the female research assistants (Diane?) from the Institute of Psychiatry too. She would have been in her early 20s with blue eyes, brown hair and not much of a figure. I was shocked by her poverty. Her clothes and shoes were really worn out and would have been thrown out by most Australians long ago. This was before Mrs Thatcher's reforms and England really was a poor country then. I gave the girl a good time anyway. 

On one occasion I woke up in bed with her in the morning (and made love to her of course), then made love to Angela (see below) around lunch time and then made love to Margaret  after tea. It was the only occasion ever that I managed such variety in such a short time. 

Go for Goa

 The other female mentioned was a Goan (i.e. from Goa), Angela D. Another I.V.C. person. She was in her mid 20s, short and a bit on the ugly side but quite bright with a very bubbly personality. She really liked sex too. She always got very lubricated very quickly. Apparently I was, however, only the second man she had ever slept with. 

Her house in Stretton was the most dirty and untidy I had ever seen. She must have thought she was still living in India. After I saw how she lived I tried to break off with her but she would have none of that. She followed me around the streets of London shouting at me about how cruel I was to leave her etc. A bit like the much later film "Fatal Attraction". 

After a few dramas she eventually gave me up as a bad job, however. One of the dramas was to get me arrested by the London Police on some wild accusation but they soon let me go. 

Saturday, July 2, 2022

My ring of fire

I first heard Johhny Cash singing "Ring of Fire" in the early'60s. It impressed me then and I still put it on occasionally.

It has however always peeved me a bit that none of my relationships over the years have seemed like a ring of fire. They all started out friendly and continued that way.

It has recently ocurred to me however that my present loving connection to Zoe is in fact quite a ring of fire -- though not quite in the sense intended by Johnny Cash

Zoe and I are each the opposite of what the other wants. It is a relationship that breaks all the rules. It even breaks my rules. Being reasonably tall myself, I have always liked tall women. I once married a lady who was 5'11". Zoe, however is only 5'1" tall!

She runs miles every day for exercise so is super fit whereas as I have never done any significant exercise and am so unfit it is a wonder I can still stand up at age 78.

Our backgrounds are very different. I am an unflappable Anglo-Saxon and pleased about that while she is a passionate and patriotic Serb. I was born into the world's most influential culture while she was born into a nation that almost everyone has trampled on. She speaks pretty good English but has such a strong accent that I fail to understand a lot of what she says.

Which could be a good thing. Our attitudes and beliefs are very different. I won't give the whole nine yards of it but, as one instance, she believes that the earth is flat whereas I am a conventional scientist with many papers in the academic journals.

We often tell one another to shut up, she nags me a lot and often hits and slaps me. I refuse to change my health and diet customs to suit her and she gets hugely jealous that I still see two of my "exes" as friends.

So how come we love one-another? A small part of it is that we both think the other is good-looking. Why she thinks that about me eludes me but I am glad of it anyhow. You can see her in many posts below or in the sidebar (Sidebar backups here or here)

I think the main influence that keeps us together is a principle I have always followed: If you find two good things in another person all the rest can be negotiated or adapted to. And the two things I particularly look for in women are a high IQ and a liking for classical music. Those are minority tastes but as an academic I am stuck with them.

And my little Serb has both of those rare qualities. Plus a good sense of humor and a liking for kisses and cuddles. She often falls asleep in my arms and I like that.

So how do I deal wih our ring of incomptibiliies?

I deal with them mainly by ignoring them. When she rattles on about her unusual beliefs -- which she often does -- I just take that as a conversation that requires no effort from me. From my mother on, most women in my life have been big talkers while their men did the listening. I am a good listener. And she will decease from a tirade if I tell her to.

But there is also a ring of compatibilities.

We are both high-functioning autistics so understand one-another's autistic behaviours. The fellowship of the autistics is an unlikely concept but something like that does seem to work for Zoe and me at times. Her hitting and slapping me is autistic but it is not done with enough force to be painful so I just smile indulgently at it.

And aging does mellow one. At my age I have nothing to prove and no need to achieve. So I can just sit back and enjoy a relationship.

It does look pretty unstable however. Her disappointment with me is considerable and we have a lot of conflict so how long the connection between us will last is hard to say for certain -- but I think we will endure. It's certainly an unusual love-affair but I am glad I have lived long enough to experience it. The conflict between us is not angry conflict, if that makes any sense

My comments on Johnny Cash are here