Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Observe / Observing / Observation

The last forty eight hours have been an exercise in observation. Me observing life, observing me, observing reactions - and sometimes quelling the urge to run fast in another direction. Or hit something hard. Very hard.

On the good side of things, I've been cleared to run again - however running will have to be undertaken slowly, cautiously and with reverence to the fact that I was a bee's fart away from snapping my right lateral gastrocnemius (calf muscle). The myotherapist is thrilled with my progress, but has warned me that I'm only half way through my recovery. The muscle may have bonded and the pain has gone, but now it's a matter of strenghtening the muscle again. I'm very pleased, but hear her warning. Great, just in time for Reindert to return to whip my butt, three weeks away from the Run Melbourne Half Marathon. I'm unsure what to do about that. I'll either have to ditch the race, do the ten kilometre trail or run/walk and take the longer distance carefully. At least this injury has won't impact too badly on the goal of doing the Marathon in October. It just means going a bit slower.

The Grounded Dutchman has returned too. I like having him back. However, the way some friends have reacted to his return is comparable to finding out your office has had an outbreak of the Ebola virus. Admittedly, I chose to not go to a birthday event for one of the dream group crew on Sunday in favour of firstly spending some time with Blarney and her boys before meeting up with him for coffee.

He's doing well. Nervous about the slur the accident has left him with, looking forward to starting work, wanting to start Pilates to strengthen bits that the months of Dutch therapy have neglected. He looks a little frail - somewhat reduced from when he left last year. Glen Waverley reckons he's aged five years. I just see that I have my friend back. Nothing more, nothing less.

So it was interesting when Gloria texted today asking how I was doing.

G: You okay P? Viv was surprised you seeing Dutchman. She might mention it.
P: Thanks for telling me. Nobody's business really.
G: True, but why so sensitive if nothing in it.
P: Don't like people assuming things that don't concern them
G: Calm down
P: Not heated, just stating a point.

Viv, our dream group co-ordinator has some pretty firm views on the Dutchman. (as has Gloria come to think of it)  And after the events and non-events from a few years ago I know why they're concerned, but I've grown up, moved on and the air is clear. Now I just need my friends to do the same. I love them dearly but sometimes I'd like to hit them. Hard.

The thing with the Dutchman is he needs a friend now - nothing more, nothing less. That's all that's going on. He's my friend, happy to be there. We still enjoy each other's company. He's like an old, favourite jumper - good to have around, even if the fit isn't perfect. Just like old friends are supposed to be like.

There was one more bit of news that had me watching myself. Dougall skyped me to tell me of the passing of Alice's father. He'd just taken her and Jasper to the airport for their flight back to England to be with her Mum.

Alice was close to her Dad and the last few months, watching his decline from the other side of the world has taken a toll on her. She's been fortunate to spend some time with him over Christmas and Easter, coming to terms with the fact that he was dying, being there for her mother, coming to terms with the fact that the outcome was inevitable. Unfortunately for Alice, there's been a bit of death around her in the last year with her Grandfather passing early last year.

I take a step back when things like this happen. I can feel Alice's pain and grief. I know the confusion she must be feeling as well as the sense of relief, knowing that her father is no longer suffering, her mother, no longer waiting. I know that certain sadness you feel when this happens.

What I can't relate to is what it's like to lose somebody you're close to - with whom you have a loving bond. I get the confusion and hurt, but does she feel the rage and questioning of the departure of somebody with whom you had a strained relationship? The anger you feel for not being able to resolve all of these feelings you had for the departed?

I'm glad I can run again. It will give me a chance to work my head out in a healthy way.

The flowers were ordered online this afternoon and sent to her mother's house in Essex. It took me half an hour to come up with the words, 'To Alice and family, With love at this sad time, Pand.' There really isn't anything you can say. I've sent instructions with Dougall to call if they need anything. As they're all over in England, I can't do the practical things like take around food or vodka.

And I'm left to watch myself. I try not to think back fourteen years to when my own father passed, the isolation and abject loneliness I felt at the time, nor of the wholesale grief I was feeling. I try to focus on the wonderful help that I got from grief counselling. It was a blessing from this time - that was about it.

I also focus the knowledge that if the same thing was to happen today, there would be people there for me.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Just who is Ernst Wanke?

Reading cards takes me to some of the more salubrious suburbs of this fair city. Armed with the Grounded Dutchman's faithful GPS (crumbs, will have to give that back soon) my passport in case I have to go over the Westgate Bridge, my purple, velvet bag full of tarot cards and Andrew, my trusty Toyota Echo, I get to go out to such wonderful places as Deer Park, Carrum Downs, Ferntree Gully... places where lots of young couples live and subsequently, hold lots of hen's parties. 

I really do need a GPS to get to such places as the Melbourne outer suburbs offend my Adelaide sensibility of not going places out of a twenty minute radius.

Tonight I was out to a Hen's Party in Narre Warren South. Narre Warren South is another name for the back end of nowhere. It's where the little boxes made of ticky tacky all looking just the same reside. It's just out the other side of Fountain Gate, where television's Kath and Kim live. It's somewhere I no aspirations to go to or live - but as they're paying me to read cards there I cannot complain. Hen's Parties are my bread and butter.

To get to Narre Warren South you have to go under Ernst Wanke Bridge and past Ernst Wanke Road. Was the council stoned  when there were voting on the road names? The town planners were having a laugh. The fact that anybody travelling the thirty kilometres down the Monash to Narre Warren will see the wonderfully named road and bridge in big letters just after the Eastern Freeway exits is beside the point. Did they think the people who live out that way wouldn't complain? My friend Mac, of the Freemasons, five children called Michael, Maryanne, Michaela, Munro and Madison fame, lives in Berwick a few miles on from this wonderful place. He pointed out to me driving him home one night that the name on the bridge was vital to the South Eastern Suburbs, "It's Ernst, Pand, not Ernest. Nothing earnest lives out here."

Other than driving a ninety kilometre round trip there was another request to the job. Could I please dress up as a gypsy for the evening.

After the Seven Girls Called Tiphannee debarcle a few months ago, where after a rather difficult evening reading for needy bogans who complained that I didn't look gypsy enough, I've been really cautious of this dressing up lark. About one in ten jobs ask me to dress like a fortune teller. Part of me would love to tell them where to go, but my professional pride has me play along. And as all of my "gypsy" clothes got given to the salvos after I lost 20 kilograms, I'm at a loss as to how to dress now.

The thing that gets me about the dressing up is that I've studied tarot for a very long time. I've been taught from some of the best tarot teachers in the world. I read cards with the utmost respect and integrity and I know I'm a good, honest, caring reader. I read just as well in a pair of jeans or in my pyjamas. I don't need chiffon, scarves and make up applied with a trowel to do the job.

Tonight, complying with the request, dressed in flowing black, hair tissed up, adorned with every peice of silver I own and a make up job to make Alice Cooper proud, I knocked at the door. It must have been dressed to her expectations, the host looked happy to see me, which was more than I can say for the cop who breathalised me on the way there. I think he was a bit scared.

With the full moon tonight, things came out. Reading cards on the full moon is like adding a strong magnifying glass to the cards. These were nice, salt of the earth people. Some really hard lives were revealed to me. It really is an honour to be let in to see these snippets of people's realities.

As I always do on these evenings, I asked the host if there was anything I needed to know - any circumstances I should know about that I should stay away from. After going to one of these events where one of the guest's husband's had been murdered a few weeks before, I do this as a matter of course. It's best to know things like that up front. No point trying to be happy about things when there is no way they are not. From the back room I could hear one of the guests berating me for this. Fishing for information she said. Other than one girl being very pregnant, there was nothing to beware of.

The night passed. The readings were accurate - too accurate. Lots of shocked faces, lots of grateful smiles, grabs for the tissues -  lot of angst and emotion was released. It was really cool.

Including the woman who was dissing me for hunting information. She was the last to be read for. She sat down in front of me. We opened the cards. "Oh. I'm sorry. Your mother..." I didn't get to finish the sentence. She was crying in the toilet by then. We had a great reading when she returned. We discussed options to help her through her grief and to move forward after her mother's recent passing.

The sceptic was convinced.

For as much as I make fun of the hen's parties at which I read, I do really feel blessed to be able to see into people's lives like this. The readings are almost like a short, pictorial blog - laying out their lives for me to see and comment upon. It's not a job for the faint hearted or weak minded. If you're not reading cards with love and integrity, there's no point doing it.

It's a strange gift I'm grateful to have received.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Return of the Grounded Dutchman

The Grounded Dutchman has boarded a plane and is on his way back to Australia. We're not sure what's coming back, just as he isn't certain to his future over here. Tin Can, String and Whistle is a bit like that at the moment - with another round of job cuts announced nobody is certain what is going on.

It must be worse for him - he left on a four month vacation around Australia his ugly, modified landcruiser mid March last year only to end up in hospital, unconscious with his pelvis in pieces three weeks later.

What is it they say - if you first you don't succeed, so much for paragliding...

He spent ten days unconscious in the John Hunter in Newcastle, attached to a respirator and various other tubes before waking. It was only then, on waking, the real healing started. It's taken a year for him to get back to near where he was. The bones healed eventually. The consequences from being oxygen deprived have taken longer, the impact to his speech noticeable, though it still amazes me that he's always been able to prattle on in three languages as appropriate.

It's been a long, fraught recovery. Once he was up and about he went back to Holland to recouperate. He's been living with his mother for the last year, slowly getting his life together.

The journey has been long on this side too, for the Grounded Dutchman was a very close friend for a long time. I'm still not sure how or why we bonded. He's known for being arrogant, prickly and at times just a pain in the butt. But somehow, we became close. The two single forty-somethings in the office with no family around. We became each other's occasional movie date, drinking companion and sounding board. Sunday nights was cheap dinner and bad telly night - we're both fond of Fat Bastards (The Biggest Loser). He's the person who would call at eleven at night for a chat before bed time. We used to go out for sneaky cigarettes before I gave up two years ago. Friday night after beer club it was beef rendang and noodles at a favorite cheap Malaysian joint in Chinatown.

He was good to have around.

For me, most significantly, it gave me a view to what it could be like to have somebody there. Really scary stuff for somebody who's always been single.

He altered when he was recovering. It softened him. I remember phone calls from the hospital in the early days where he'd tell me things like "I've just finished my lego." I remember driving up to Newcastle to see him over the long weekend and he rang every hour on he hour to see where I was. I remember doing a lap of the John Hunter with him while I was up there. The first real time he'd spent outside since the accident.

We've talked about the frustrations that the injuries have left him with. He can no longer drink alcohol. He'll never run a marathon. He will never paraglide again - something he used to love doing. He's now got a slur to his speech which comes and goes depending on the day and how tired he is.

And now he's on the way back.

And I'm not sure what to feel.

Reindert has warned me that I must not become his mother. No fear in that. Blarney keeps asking me what's going on, asking me to bring him over the meet the boys. Glen Waverley still can't believe he's on he way back.

What shall Pandora speak. Nothing for the moment. We're meeting for coffee on Sunday. He texted to ask if I knew where his bikes were. With his van, was my reply. And where was his van? Nowhere he'd find it easily. Reindert and I have left it with an acquaintance the other side of the You Yangs. We'll get it back for him soon.

Oh, did I mention that he's the most exquisite creature I've ever clapped eyes on? Nah, I though not. I didn't mention that he broke my heart either.

This year without him has let me adjust and recover. For me, self-preservation kicked in after the accident. For such a dreadful event, it was the greatest cosmic "get out of jail free" card I've ever received.

I may care about him, but I care about myself more. And maybe this was the lesson that I needed to learn.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Citizenship Ceremony

On Saturday, my dear friends Alice and Dougall and their son Jasper became Australian citizens.

It's been a long road for them to get to this point. Alice lived in Australia for a year in the nineties, and  she loved it, vowing to return in years to come. Five years ago she was sponsored by the company for which she was working  to come out and work here. As she was packing to emigrate, she found out that she was pregnant with Jasper and the whole thing nearly fell through.

Australian citizenship has been Alice's dream for as long as I've known her. An Essex girl, she's bright, snappy and fun. We bonded at work over a love of the Pixies, cups of tea and an unfailing need to out nerd each other.

Permanant residency came about two years ago, and that was a great thing - they could stay, but Alice would be bonded to the company she was working for. "Didn't Ned Kelly say "Such is Life"." She would respond when asking her what she though of being tethered to a downwardly mobile company and a job that wasn't really taxing her. "You have to do what you have to do."

So Saturday, five long years later, we met up with her friend Amelia and went to the MCG to witness the ceremony.

I've mentioned before that I'm not the best advertisement for patriotism - decidedly un-Australian in many ways I'm not one of those "out there" Australians, with a tempered British accent and no hint of a Southern Cross tattoo on my skin, no inclination to drink Fosters or XXXX and I don't like meat pies.

However, this ceremony got to the pit of me.

Firstly, the ceremony was held at the MCG. I pass the place daily but I've only been in the structure once when I ran the Melbourne Half Marathon last year - finishing the 21 kms with a lap of the central oval. It was interesting being in such a large structure with such a different group of people. Normally you go to the "G" and everybody is wearing football scarves, duffel coats and smelling of footy chips.

On this occassion, there were people from every imaginable nationality, some dressed in suits and formal garb, others in national costumes, others with their football scarves firmly in place. The latter I believe was a knee jerk reaction to the fact that Collingwood Football Club were hosting the event that would see 3000 new Australians made and I think they were on a bit of a recruitment drive. I very nearly took my Crows scarf along for good measure. (Collingwood, phah! Can't barrack for Collingwood - I have all my teeth, thank you)

They took the soon to be citizens off in one direction and the visitors in another. In my naivety I thought that these people were about to go through a last round of citizenship proving - you know, turn a chop on a barbeque, go three times round a Hills Hoist, get run through a sheep dip, drive the ute around the oval once and clap a pair of thongs. Something like that. It appears that this was just a formality as Amelia and I spotted the three of them three rows from the pitch near the front, sitting happily waiting for the ceremony to begin.

The ceremony started on time. The speakers talked of the bravery and courage of the people sitting in front of us. They had chosen to be Australian. They all had their stories to tell - from those like Alice who wanted to make this sunny warm land her home to others who had escaped unseen atrocities. They talked of the pride these people had, and the hope they all felt in coming to start over here. They talked of Australians having the ability to give anything a go, to overcome adversity and to see the positives in everything.

Amelia and I were nearly in tears. We were both choked up. Maybe it's because both of us have seen the world, travelled extensively, lived in other countries and we know exactly how good we have it over here. Maybe it's because we are fortunate enough to have been born here and to not have to had made the choice. Regardless, as the 3000 odd people sat there affirming their allegience ot this country, a huge feeling of pride came over the crowd. It was something I've never felt before.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Amelia and I missed what would have been the sight of the day. Alice and Jasper sneaked onto the ground - a gate had been left open. Jasper, aged five, is as Aussie Rules mad as every other Melbourne five-year-old. He had brought his Sherrin along. Alice and Jasper made a break for the goalposts and Jasper, triumphant, kicked the ball straight through the posts.

I wish I had seen that. What a perfect ending to what was a great day.

Walking back home from the ceremony I made my way down Bridge Road. A family followed me - apparently from somewhere in the Middle East, dark skinned, dark haired children ran around with a football, mother in a salaar kameez, kohl eyes, dark hair under a scarf, father, late thirties, in a suit. They spoke in Arabic. Each had the sappling and a showbag of a new citizen (Everybody who became a citizen was presented with these on the day) I smiled and nodded at them. I bid them congratulations. The father gave me a wide smile back. "Thank you. It's not every day you get your dream come true."

At the after party later that evening we dined on the coat of arms (kangaroo and emu sausages), cheese on sticks, pavlova, iced vovos, lemon polenta cake and washed it all down with cold beer.

Saturday will go down as one of my favorite days on record.

To witness somebody's ultimate dream become reality is a truly wonderful thing.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Configuration Management 101

Sometimes I love my job here at Tin Can, String and Whistle Ltd. I'm pretty used to being the one they call the "word nerd". I know they love me because I run the beer club. Because I'm not an engineer I get the "touchy feelly" jobs like editing large, complex, pointless documents that nobody reads. I also get to do the in house training packages for our group.

This last one they've given me to do is a doozy.

Popeye: Your next task, if you choose to accept it....
Pandora: Yessssss

It's never good when Popeye starts his sentences like this.

Popeye: We need something on Configuration Management.
Pandora: Does it involve petrol, arsenic or hemlock?
Popeye: No. I want you to make Configuration Management look sexy.
Pandora: Right. So we're going to dope the audience up on LSD and play Pink Floyd at them for an hour.
Popeye: I know it sounds a bit hard.
Pandora: I think it would be easier to get John Howard to wax his eyebrows.
Popeye: I want you to present something snappy and sexy to the Config team next Thursday.

Anybody know where I can contract diptheria from?

Seriously. Configuration Management and sexy. In the same sentence. That's like juxtaposing Kim Jong Il and sanity.

Mention Configuration Managment to most people and they will run screaming loudly in the other direction. In a nutshell, it's the practice of monitoring your project, system, documentation etc so you know at what stage everything is at, at all times, across the whole of the project. Telecommunications companies are notoriously bad at doing config. It's not at all interesting. It really is a part of the project most people would prefer to actively not think about. Most people would rather watch a wall of paint dry than attend a course on Configuration Management.

We're having a bit of a Config crisis her at Tin Can, String and Whistle. The head of configuration is heading off to other pastures and the company is in a bit of a state. Morton, who currently runs the section is a lovely man. It's a pity he has the look and disposition of an undertaker on downers. I like him. We make each other laugh. it's just he's got the hardest job in the company and I have to train people up on it.

He's handed me all of his notes, telling me that there should be sufficient to leverage a decent course out of it.

I nodded off after page two.

In Morton's words, "If you're not hated as a Configuration Manager, you're not doing your job properly."

So here I am, wracking my brain, wondering how to present this. And keep my street cred. And my friends.

Other than using the lyrics to Talking Heads seminal classic , "Road to Nowhere", I had to turn to my old favorite nerd sites for help. Xkcd.com and Dilbert.

I'm thinking of using some of this sort of stuff to demonstrate my points:

Life without Configuration Management:

And why you really need Configuration Management:

And of course, the final slide of the pack...

Wish me luck....

Or find me some LSD and a copy of the Dark Side of the Moon.

I think this is a job for a fool.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Silence and Dreams

Just back from dream group. I know that something will be said to me about my silence in the group tonight. There are times when I can talk. There are times when I keep my tongue. Tonight, I kept quiet and listened.

I can't say much about what goes on at dream group. It's not mine to tell. Being in a Kabbalistic Dream Circle means tha the confidentiality of the group must be kept. It's a bit like Fight Club. You can't talk about it. And when it's your turn to give a dream, you know you're in for it. It's called blooding. you're like the fox in an English hunt being dragged through the hedgerows, pursued relentlessly until you give up. The strange thing is that dream group has been the best thing I've ever done for myself. It's made me strong. It's brought me out of myself. It's allowed me to face issues I never thought I would ever do.

Tonight, as the dream was being disected, I kept quiet. After the emotion released last week where a maelstrom of emotion was released, tonight I had to keep schtum.

I know the pressure cooker has it's lid on. It's going to be a little while before the valve releases.


Well, let me see, what's going on a the moment.

The Grounded Dutchman is coming back to Australia.
Tin Can, String and Whistle isn't the greatest.
I'm unable to run as I'm injured (though that's coming good)
Lachlan has gone quiet - but that happens.
I've got a huge trip to plan.
I'm wondering what to do with my career in the next year or so.

And these things, and the thoughts around them, have to brew.

Sometimes it's just best to sit and keep silent.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Betty

Although can't say I don't like public holidays, I can't say I see the point in them either. When I look at the Australian National Public Holiday Calendar I begin to ask why.

Let me see, first off the ranks is New Year's Day - 1 January.

This one makes sense - a lot of people have a too bad a hangover to do much. This one is administratively useful as it allows a lot of companies to avoid sick day claims.

Next off the ranks is Australia Day. 26 January. This one is rather political. To some people it is the day that celebrates the landing of the First Fleet into Botany Bay. To others it commemorates the white invasion and the catastropic events of that landing. Most countries have a national day - we have to wear it.

Now comes some of the more interesting ones. Labour Day in Victoria is the second Monday in March. This could also be seen as a "Welcome to Autumn" holiday. Also, as we have a festival called Moomba here, where people waterski on the Yarra and hope to not get sick, we could name it "Stupid Fools on Waterskis Day." Labour Day is different in every state. I mean, we all have to work, you'd think they'd make it on the same day. The red shirt part of me likes that this is a union sponsored day off and that must drive the conservative factions spare... he he.

Easter is next. A movable feast of a few days off, great for taking extended breaks as you can normally manage sixteen full days off on eight days of annual leave. I could play devil's advocate and say that in an increasing multi-cultural and secular society that Easter has lost it's purpose and should be removed from the calendar. But the extended leave is too good. It's not my fault there are a lot of people out there who think Jesus is a Mexican gardener. I won't make much noise about this one - next year with the combination of Anzac Day we get five days off. Cool.

Anzac Day is special to me. I call it the one day of the year where I'm allowed to be patriotic. Commemorating the day Australia first went to war on foreign soil as a country in its own right, I like it - Lest We Forget. We can't forget the sacrifice of generations of men. We can't forget that we mustn't let it happen again.

This weekend is the Queen's Birthday weekend. Hmph. The fact that the Queen's actual birthday is in late April besides, why do we celebrate the birthday of our head of state? She's the head of state in England and they don't get a day off for the Queen's birthday. In this near republic of a nation I think this day is a bit redundant - and should be replaced with Sorry Day. Like Yom Yippur, a day we can say sorry for all the things we did wrong in the past - like not telling Bern that her nemesis was coming to the pictures with us. Seriously, I do think there is some merit in taking a day to reflect on the atrocities served out to the local indigenous people. But that won't happen, especially if the Mad Monk and his cronies get their way at the next election.

Second to last off the ranks is Melbourne Cup day. First Tuesday in November. Are we the only place in the world that gets a day off for a horse race. Another day of frocking up, getting pissed and being found walking bare foot with your high heels in your handbag at five 'o' clock. Might have to review this one too.

Lastly we have Christmas. I can use the same excuse as Easter here. As a functioning spiritualist I can't quite see the point of celebrating the birth of this Jewish reprobate, spending time with family who aren't that enamoured to see you and spending money you don't have on things you don't need at the sales.

Boxing Day tails of from this. Coming from South Australia - the only place in Christendom that doesn't have this as a day off I just see it  as an extension of Christmas. In South Australia I would dutifully turn up to work on the morning of 26 December, glum in the knowledge that I had to wait until 28 December to have a sleep in.

Okay, I have to face it. I'm just in a snot as this Queen's Birthday weekend I'm studying and not doing anything fun. I rarely do fun stuff on public holidays. I can't even run at the moment as my left leg is still giving me a bit of grief.

Ho hum.

Maybe my next resolution is to start enjoying myself on these sanctioned days off.


Monday, June 7, 2010

That's Entertainment

It seems I have a bit of a strained Achilles Tendon or some minor tendonitis in my left leg. I have no idea how I did it, but it's prevented me running since Friday - which is sort of good - Melbourne's had a patch of traditional Melbourne weather - cold, rainy, wet and not particulary pleasant for runners - especially those who wear glasses and long hair. It's also not good as I am trying to train for this wretched marathon. Anyway, I've sequestered myself to the cross trainer, the bike and the rower until it heals. No point making it worse. It's boring, but it will fix given rest and lots of ibuprufen.

So the take the sting out of the injury, I've thrown myself into two of my life long passions - movies and the theatre. Shakespeare to be precise.

In the last few days I've been indulging in some real guilty pleasures.

"Up" has to be one of the best kid's films I've ever seen. Got it out on DVD. It was remarkable how it hooked me in from the start. Loved it from the opening scenes.

One of the lower lights was Sex and the City II. Admittedly I didn't pay for the ticket. Blarney gave me some vouchers that were expiring, so to use them up I coralled a few friends and went on Thursday. It was as I had expected: pretty to look at, crass, the storyline was AWOL and so far from reality that it was a joke. I'm glad I've seen it - I'm also glad I didn't pay for it.

What was more surprising is the friends I took along. I have known Bernadette for over twenty years. We were in a first year English tute together and have been in contact ever since. I lived with Bernadette and her now husband Gerry when I got back to Melbourne. Bern's a bit of a strange fish though I love her to bits - we seem only see each other on these odd trips to the theatre.

I also took along Karen, my constant movie buddy. Karen's also a bit odd - she works as a nanny, is somewhat of a perfectionist and very, very hard to get her to change anything in her life. Accepting these limitations, she's a good person, kind and solid.

Now, thing is, Bernadette and Karen had something of a large falling out some years ago. They used to be friends years ago. Refusing to take sides, I've remained mates with both of them. I'd sent the invitation out to a few friends people, they were the first to come back. But should I have told them the other was coming? As we had the last three tickets in the cinema, a pair and single some rows back, the issue of sitting next to each other wasn't there. I said nothing to them, and just got on with meeting them at the Rivoli ten minutes before the show started.

The politics of friendship suck sometimes. In the end we all had a pleasant night at an okay film that we didn't have to pay for the ticket. I thought nothing more of it.

Until Saturday night, when Bern, Gerry and I went to see King Lear. On arrival to collect the tickets Bern's first question, "So, are you going to ambush me again?"
'What?' I ask.
"Ambush me. Where is she?'
I still didn't get it.
"How could you invite Karen and I along to the same thing? Is she coming tonight?"

I know of Bern's grudges. She has a longer memory than mine. She holds a grudge like a pit bull holds a postman's leg. Looking on her facebook page she has noted as her favorite quotation, "You may not remember what someone says or does, but you will always remember how they made you feel" (Maya Angelou) . Hmm. Maybe I should have said something.

Okay, maybe it's me being insensitive, but what is the bother of sitting in a dark room with somebody five rows away who you're not overly fond of? I remember the feud. Both were in the wrong. Both were in the right too. Neither have had the guts to actually talk it out in these last few years. Seems a waste of a friendship to me.

I let Bern's snipe go after a hurried apology and got on with the joys of the Bell Shakespeare Company and my favourite Shakespearean play. Life's too short to feel bad about slights for which youhave done with no malice and have muttered apologies.

The production was solid and enjoyable. We don't get enough Shakespeare here. I was spoiled in England.

The true joy occured the following afternoon. I managed to snaffle a ticket to the Melbourne Theatre Company's Richard III. I went alone to the Sunday matinee.

Heaven. Some of the best theatre I've seen in Australia in the last ten years. Easily makes the top ten performances I've ever seen. Wow. Brillant cast, brilliant staging. Pefectly nuanced. Had me on the edge of my seat even though I know the play backwards and have seen it about five times in the past. It was just perfect.

A thrilling end to an entertaining week.


Oh - my list of top ten performances - in no order.

Iain Glen in the RSC's Henry V
Derek Jakobi in Uncle Vanya somewhere in Soho
Altered State's Jane Eyre (amazing ensemble cast)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Frances O'Connor, Ned Beatty and Brendon Fraser (London 2001 - phenomenal)
The Blue Room - MTC a few years ago
Closer (where the most perfect Clive Owen stole the show as Larry)
Stephen Dinnane's Hamlet (London - mid nineties)
Amanda Muggleton in Callas - superb. (MTC - a few years ago)
Ewan Leslie as Richard III - Melbourne Theatre Company, 2010
The Servant of Two Masters - Bell Shakespeare 2002. Funniest thing I've ever seen - could barely walk out of the theatre for laughing.