Wednesday, June 30, 2021

June Check In - July Goals

It's goal day again. 

I like doing the monthly goals - keeps me on track. 

Anyway, here's how I did in June. 

Read four books. 

Nearly did this. I finished the following:

  • Craig Silvey's Honeybee
  • Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day
  • Clare Bowditch's Your Own Kind of Girl
I'm about halfway through the audio book of The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel - at 37 hours of audiobook, this is good progress. I'm also about halfway through Less by Andrew Sean Greer. 

Exercise an hour a day

The lockdown put a bit of a scupper on this, but I've managed this for about 20 out of the 30 days. 

Eliminate as much sugar from my diet

I've been trying and been quite successful. I've been a lot better than last month. 

Have the Masons books 90% done by the end of the month.

They're on the way. Not 90% done, but not far off. 

Have two vegetarian days a week. 

This didn't get done, but I do want to do this - I've been trying to get more vegetables into my life. 

Limit discretionary spending.

I've done well with this too. Managed to get the finances back on track. 

And my goals for July:

Read four books. 

This is always a doable goal. I like keeping my reading up. 

Have the masons' books to the Auditor by the end of the month.

Last year they weren't finished until November - that can't happen again. 

Have somebody over for dinner or something

I cannot remember the last time somebody set foot in the flat that was not me or the cat. This would give me a chance to tidy the place up. We will see about this. 

Enter the Richell Prize and the Varuna Fellowship competitions

The Richell Prize closes next Friday, the Varuna Fellowship at the end of the month. There's a bit of work to do on this - move forward the novel. 

Use the gym three times a week

Now that I see Cleo at another gym twice a week, it's time to make sure I get value for money out of my Fitness First. It's a good goal. 

Limit discretionary spending

Again, another big bill month coming with my car registration fees. Besides, where do we get to go when we are restricted in our movements?

Today's song: 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The things you see

 Coming  out of the gym last night, Jay pointed out the tattoo parlour in the basement. 

There's a perspex banniser and the shop windows between my trusty iPhone camera and the shot. I had Cleo on one side of me, Jay on the other. 

And I took this sneaky shot.

Okay, it's been insta-pimped.

But there is two ways of looking at this. You can focus on the what is happening - a guy, wearing dirty socks, is getting his leg tattoos touched up. 

Or, and it might be just me, focus on the strangely arty composition of this shot. There's something vaguely Michelangelo about the whole set up. Maybe it's the positioning of the limbs, the intricacies of the drawings. 

It's something so commonplace, but something so secretive. Tattoos are everywhere, but you rarely see them being done (unless you're like me and love the show Inkmaster.)

And it wouldn't have been caught if I hadn't looked down as I came out of the gym the other night. 

Today's song:

Monday, June 28, 2021

And now for something completely different

 From the pages of The Guardian today

"New South Wales police have fined two men for breaching coronavirus restrictions after they were startled by a deer while sunbaking naked on a beach south of Sydney and ran into the bush, becoming lost and needing to be rescued.

Police sent a helicopter to search for the pair, who were fined $1,000 for breaching public health orders amid a coronavirus outbreak that has seen residents in greater Sydney locked down and banned from travelling outside their local area.

It is unclear how the deer startled the men, and what made them dash into the bush to escape it."

What made me laugh is the picture following this article:

I love the Auslan signers. They always brighten my day. They give you something interesting to watch during the pressers each day. (Poor Darwin had to rely on an Auslan translator from the ABC - they don't have a government signer)

But you have to ask:

  1. Why were they sunbathing nude in the middle of winter?
  2. Why was there a deer near them?
  3. If they were naked, how did they raise the alarm?
  4.  Just why would you be doing that in the middle of a pandemic?
Regardless, it makes a change from the normal gloom and doom of the daily news. 

Today's song: 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Getting to know you

 It is Sunday. I've been to pump. Jay is happy because the Roos won yesterday and Sydney is in lockdown, which makes a change, especially as they had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the fold, but not after sending cases to Melbourne, Queensland and the Northern Territory.

And yes, I can spell schadenfreude. 

Questions, as always come from Bev at Sunday Stealing

   1. Do you like or dislike surprises? Why or why not?

I'm not overly fond of surprises. I'm a bit of a control freak. Nice surprises, like when people turn up with cake - they're good surprises. I like them. That an airline steward flew five domestic routes with COVID without being contacted by the New South Wales contact tracers. Bad surprise. Who knew?

   2. In the evening, would you rather play a game, visit a relative, watch a movie, or read?

Reading and watching movies are my big things for an eving of entertainment. I don't mind the odd trivia night, but I don't play many games. All my relatives live interstate, so that's a bit of a moot point. 

   3. Would you rather vacation in Hawaii or Alaska, and why?

As I like the cold and the Wilderness, I think I'd prefer to go to Alaska - though Hawaii looks rather fun - and it's only 10 hours flight away from Melbourne. 

   4. Would you rather win the lottery or work at the perfect job? And why?

As wonderful as it would be to win the lottery, the perfect job that pays well and gives you some satisfaction would be better. it also plays into my work ethic. 

   5. If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?

1993. Not that I want to go back there, but it was a bit of a 'Sliding Doors' moment and I'd like to see what would have happened if I took the other door, so to speak. 

   6. Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without?

Coffee. And yes, I drink decaf, bit it is all about the ritual. Besides, I life in Melbourne, coffee capital of the world. We pride ourselves on our coffee - even my ubiquitous almond decaf lattes. 

   7. How many pairs of shoes do you own?

Far too many. How many do I wear regularly - four or five pairs. And yes some are summer sandals, and some are boots which I really need to put on ebay. 

   8. What would you do if you won the lottery?

Buy a house - and travel - if they ever let us out of the country. (We basically can't leave Australia without a very good reason, and a lot of quarantine at both ends - fun, eh?)

   9. What form of public transportation do you prefer? (air, boat, train, bus, car, etc.)

I quite like public transport, particularly for long haul trips. I love being on boats - always have done. Train trips are great for getting your reading done. I've done enough flying to enjoy that too. Melbourne has its trams, which are a great way to get around. I think the one aspect of public transport I don't like is buses. Too at the mercy of traffic - and you meet strange people on buses. 

   10. What's your favorite zoo animal?

I'm very, very fond of the seals. Could watch them all day. 

   11. If you could go back in time to change one thing, what would it be?

I was offered some counselling back at uni - I wish I'd gone through with it. I wasn't ready to hear that at the time, but I still think it would have been good to get a handle on my depression earlier. 

   12. How many pillows do you sleep with?

Four, but only two are under my head as they are pretty flat and need replacing. One is for cuddling, the other one is for the cat. 

   13. What's the longest you've gone without sleep (and why)?

About 48 hours. I get the odd bout of insomnia, which I hate. Thankfully it doesn't happen too often. 

   14. What's the tallest building you've been to the top in?

It's a bit of a toss up between the Eureka Tower here in Melbourne (297 metres) and the Rockerfeller Tower in New York (266 metres) Thing is, you go outside when you go up the Rockerfeller tower - at the Eureka, you're one floor down and behind glass. 

   15.  What are your hobbies?

Writing, baking, going to the gym, walking and reading. 

Today's song: 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Steve Carell

I stumbled across a much loved film last night on one of the streaming services. Few people have seen The Way, Way Back, but I love this treasure of a sleeper film, where Duncan  (Liam James) goes on his summer holidays with his mother (Toni Collette) and her new, wanker boyfriend Trent, played with just the right mix of vulnerability and psychopathy, by Steve Carell. It also has the inimitable Sam Rockwell playing Owen, an employee at the local water park who takes Duncan under his wing. Allison Janney, Maya Rudolph and AnnaSophia Robb round out a great cast. 

But my eye always goes back to Steve Carell, who is brilliant in this. Horrible, bitter, flawed and generally tragic, and Carell brings all of this out. 

I love Steve Carell - but I love him most when when he's not in pure comedic roles.

Look at him in Crazy Stupid Love, where he was the everyman divorcing dad. Okay, it's a comedy, but he does such a great job at trying to be a good man while trying to get on with his life. 

He was just evil in Foxcatcher, complete with the prosethetics. 

He made a convincing Donald Rumsfeld in Vice

And just stunning in Beautiful Boy, as a father trying to help his son through drug addiction. 

And of course, he was the depressed, gay uncle in Little Miss Sunshine.

And let's not forget him as the new widower negotiating his family in Dan in Real Life.

And of course, though it is technically a comedy, he's so damned loveable in The 40-Year-Old Virgin

I just like that he always gives a fantastic performance, no matter what he's in. 

And that he always surprises you. He's not just a one trick pony - and people forget this. 

Today's Song: 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Theatre Review: The Lifespan of a Fact

Show: The Lifespan of a Fact

Where: Fairfax Studio, the Arts Centre

Until: 10 July

Stars: 4.5

I'm not sure what I was more excited about - going to the theatre or putting on grown up clothes, some make up and perfume. And to be honest, I wasn't expecting to get to this play with the current restrictions, of which one is there are no more than 75 people in the auditorium for a performance. 

Yes, 75 people. The Fairfax holds around 300. The Sumner Theatre, around double that. The Princess Theatre, where Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is playing holds over 1000. 

So how do you choose those 75 people to come along. Well, as Jay and I are subscribers, and it seems, going by that demographic in the theatre, that we were lucky enough to be on the list to see this gem of a play by Jeremy Kareken, David Murrell and Gordon Farrell. 

The MTC website describes the story as such:

"While interning at an eminent literary magazine, recent graduate Jim Fingal is thrilled when his editor offers him a career-making opportunity: fact check venerated essayist John D’Agata’s exploration of a disturbing Las Vegas reality, which is going to press in five days. It sounds simple enough, but when Fingal is still unravelling the inconsistencies and literary liberties of the first sentence three days later, he realises he has a problem. So he does what any thorough young up-and-comer with something to prove would do: he goes straight to the source. It could be the biggest mistake, or the best decision, of his life."

The most wonderful thing about this play is it is based on the true story of John D'Agata, who had his story fact checked by John Fingal. The two wrote a book about this.

I loved this. The cast, consisting of Nadine Garner as Emily (the editor), Steve Mouzakis as John (the author) and Karl Richmond was wonderfully gormless as Jim. All were excellent. Petra Kalive's direction is fast paced and funny, allowing the nuances of the situation to come out in the best ways. 

What got me about this play was it really looked at what is the truth, and where can the truth be bent. There were times when you wanted to strangle Joe for his pedantic nature, but by the end of the play, you could see some of his points. 

And it had me laughing, shaking my head and very thankful that I write fiction. 

The most disconcerting thing of the production was being one of 75 lucky people to see this. Used to being in full theatres, having a braying laugh is bad enough - you feel exposed when you laugh out loud. Wanting the cast to hear thunderous applause, but knowing that 75 people don't make that much noise at a curtain call was a bit disappointing, more for them, than us. 

But they were on and the play was great. This comes highly recommended. 

Today's Song:

Thursday, June 24, 2021

How to make me smile

The message came through early. 

It read "Here ya go", and had the following clip attached. 

The so called friend who sent this to me knows of my love for this wonderful little ditty. 

I mean, have you watched the clip lately?The song came out the year I was born and the clip above is from around 1977 and it's been done again and again and it's still funny. 

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia. 

It wasn't the first time this was done by the Muppets. It's got two little girls singing he chorus and an early version of Animal, who is nowhere near as good (I love Animal, he's one of my favourites). 

And yes, the tune gets stuck in your head, whether you like the Doo Doo pink muppets, or Animal and his scatting Lullaby on Birdland. 

Of course, the best bit when Kermit comes on late in the piece, looking very confused. 

There are webpages dedicated to the song.

It's been done again and again.

And for anybody who's worked with me, they will have this happen to them. I'm Gareth in this situation. 

And it never fails to make me smile. 

Today's song:

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Early Mornings

Why is it, you have to wake early, so that you can dress, scrape your hair into a ponytail, roll on some deodorant and leave the house (after feeding the cat, of course - can't leave home without doing that) to make it to the new gym to meet your trainer at 6.45 in the morning.

There's been a change of location for training. Cleo has left the gym and is now working out of a small studio in the next suburb. There are good and bad things to this. 

Bad things first - the studio is located on a very busy road - but as we train out of hours, this isn't too bad. There's client parking out the back. But it does take another ten minutes to get there from home. It's also in the school zone, so between 8 am and 4 pm the roads are overun with Large SUVs and women with expensive blonde hair. The gym I normally go to is five minutes away, attached to a shopping centre and there's ample parking. 

It's also up two steep flights of stairs, but I can live with that. 

This morning, we trained early - and it was really good. Thankfully it wasn't too cold outside - mind you, only the rowing machine is outside, on the balcony. 

It's quite fun watching the sun come up when you're outside. This is the view.

It was a one on one session as Jay doesn't train in the morning - I don't mind so much. Set up the day well. 

Except we have to listen to Cleo's music. She's more R&B, I'm more rock. I like working out to The Pixies and Blondie. She's more a Rhianna and Florence in the Machine type. Ah well. 

And another trainer and his victim client at the same time. There was enough room for us to work out without getting in each others way. 

And after 3 x sets of squats, seated rows, twisty walking lunges, chest presses, leg raises, one minute rowing sprints, single leg dead lifts, wood chops, leg presses and mountain climbers, I was allowed to go home. Stopping at the shopping centre for a coffee and a bit of grocery shopping, I was home by 8.30. After a quick shower, I was at the work desk by 9 am. 

Being up early reminded me of how much I like seeing the day in with exercise. Now Cleo is at this new place, maybe this is my opportunity to start doing classes early in the day and get some value from my gym membership. 

Well, we can think about it. 

Today's Song: 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Maintain the Rage

     We are the hollow men

    We are the stuffed men

    Leaning together

    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

T.S.Eliot is ringing through my head. The quotes you see come from his most wonderful poem, The Hollow Men. It was written nearly 100 years ago. It's still pertinent. 

The Hollow Men rings in my brain when the Federal political shitfuckery is dialed up to eleven, and with the return of Barnaby Joyce to the leader of the National Party, you could say that the clusterfuck of this alleged "Good Government" you have to wonder what else will happen. (Sorry, using all my good words today)

It was surreal enough to see him sworn in at Government House with Morrison looking over on a large television. Allegedly Barnaby 2.0 is a better man - though when you shoo away your three-year-old from a photo opportunity, you sort of have to wonder (Couldn't he do a Malcolm Turnbull and sweep the kid up in his arms? Of course not. Photo courtesy of The Age)

    Here we go round the prickly pear

    Prickly pear prickly pear

    Here we go round the prickly pear

    At five o'clock in the morning.

So Barnyard the Beetrooter is back as our Deputy Prime Minister. Joy. 

What does it take to get these people to go away permanently? Flame thrower? Baseball bat?  Friends in the Painters and Dockers Union? A sense of integrity. 

Ah, these joyous National Party members. Great people they are. 

Let me have a think about this. 

Barnaby left three years ago under the cloud of sexual harassment

Oh, and the deputy leader of the Nationals, Bridget McKenzie, she was responsible for the Sports Rorts scandal that had her removed from cabinet. 

Then there's David Littleproud, the Agriculture Minister who seems to be selling off all the water, basically killing the land from the Queensland border down. Remember those series of events where fish were ending up dead in the rivers. Yeah, he was the water minister at the time. Natural event, nothing to see here.  Oh, yeah, he was one of four MPs who voted against Same Sex Marriage. That he stood up and voted this way says something. It beats the pricks who abstained from the vote - Mr Joyce, Mr Morrison... I'm looking at you. )

Poor Michael McCormack. For an MP he made a great Elvis impersonator. Though not a bad thing, he must be known for more than making banal statements and looking good as a later Elvis. Other than opening his mouth to change feet, he wasn't that effective as Nationals Leader. 

Oh, there's Senator Matt Canavan, who tries to come across as everyman on breakfast telly. Very occasionally I will bend to his opinion. But it's like when you end up agreeing with Bob Katter. You want to go check yourself into a psych ward. 

And don't get me started on the Member for Manila, George Christiansen. At least he's not contesting his seat at the next election. Good riddance I say. 

Here's a full list of the LNPs shitfuckery. It's long. Grab a drink. 

   Between the idea

    And the reality

    Between the motion

    And the act

    Falls the Shadow

What galls me is the fact that these people are supposed to be representing us. 

What the actual fuck!

Surely we are better than this. Surely. Surely there are some people out there who can come to serve on government with a sense of integrity, pride and forethought. People who aren't just there to line their own pockets and the pockets of their mate. The people who have a plan for five, ten, twenty-five and a hundred years in the future. 

    This is the way the world ends

    This is the way the world ends

    This is the way the world ends

    Not with a bang but a whimper.

Today's song:

Monday, June 21, 2021

Shortest Day in the Year

 Ah. It's this day again.

The problem with having a significant anniversary on a significant day is that you can't really escape it. And the shortest day of the year (Longest day if you're in the Northern Hemisphere) comes around and you know the date and it is the day that stops you in your tracks, knocks the wind out of your sails and makes you reflect. 

In the early days, the day nearly left me a sobbing mess in my bed. Other years, it's been like the heavy weight of depression laying itself over me. In recent years, it's more subtle. A nod to the day. A lingering light sadness. Today, though I feel nothing, part of me thinks I should. I tell that part of me to go away. It's okay. 

I used to anticipate the coming of the day - work myself up into a lather. Thankfully that doesn't happen any more. 

Now, it's a more gentle acknowledgement of the day. There's no overthinking it. There's no lingering sadness. But the day is thought about, compartmentalised and put back in the memory drawer with the odd socks, foreign coins and photos of people who's names I can barely remember. 

And I thank which ever deity is responsible that I've grown and changed and morphed into the person I am now and I've been allowed to forgive myself for the actions of 24 years ago. I've given myself permission to be scared, angry, sad, relieved, hopeful, content and accepting of the decision. 

Thing is, I've never regretted the decision to terminate the pregnancy. There were too many things going against everybody in the equation at the time. Besides, it 's a decision from which there is no going back - it's not something you get to regret.

And I've never dwelled on the fact I could have a child that would now be a young adult. I don't like to think about the life I may have had if I didn't have the abortion. That is scarier than thank the thought of having an adult child. 

But these are the thoughts I have on the shortest day of the year. Every year. 

And now that I've thought them, I can get on with my day. 

Because I know everything is okay. 

Today's song: 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Love me some surveys

 Another weekend, another quiz. Thankfully the washing is done, the book group book has been read again and all the necessary things have been completed. Thank goodness. 

Questions, as always, have been supplied by Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. Ignoring nutrition, could you live off veggies for the rest of your life?

Oh, here we go - there are a few.  Potatoes, sweet potatoes. pumpkin, mushrooms, asparagus, rocket, lettuce, capsicum (bell peppers), celery, eggplant (aubergine) rocket (arugula), cabbage... Strangely, I like my veggies. Easier to ask what I could live without - and that would be cauliflower and broad beans (all other beans are fine). 

2. Elaborate on a way you have volunteered?

I used to volunteer at all of the Melbourne Writer's festivals a while ago. That was great - I used to drive the writers around from the hotel to the Festival venue. It was fantastic. I met some great people. 

3. Can you walk in heels, or do you feel awkward in them?

I'm fine in low heels and medium block heels. Anything highter than a two inch heel and I look like I'm walking like a bad drag queen. 

4. Any TV shows you sit down weekly to watch?

One or two. I've watched a show called Doctor Doctor from the first episode and I like sitting down and watching it on a Wednesday night. With this new binge culture you miss the feeling you get waiting for the next episode. Thankfully The Bold Type and Younger they're feeding us a weekly episode. 

5. Will you tell someone if there’s something in their teeth?

Yes. I like to know when there's something on my teeth - happily return the favour. Better you know. 

6. Do you ever actually make your bed?

Yes, every day. It's the first thing I do after having a shower. I don't leave home without making the bed. As my mother used to say, what would the burgulars think?

7. Do you make an effort to eat healthy?

All the time. Sure, I slip, but I do make a good effort to eat sensibly. 

8. What kind of booze did you last take shots of?

I haven't done shots in years. The last neat alcohol I had was some very nice single malt whisky which I sipped on about a week ago. No point doing shots. I prefer doing nice, quiet European style drinking. 

9. What’s something you want to purchase next time you’re at the mall?

I have to do my food shopping later tonight. I saw some nice bowls at one of the homewear shops as well, thinking about getting those. 

10. What were you doing at 10:00 this morning?

I was at the gym packing up after pump class. 

11. What do you miss the most about your past?

I miss living in London. I really miss living in London. I loved that part of my life. 

12. Last time you were really happy?

I was strangely happy last year when I was doing the Faber Novel Writing course. I loved that. It really gave me a sense of purpose. 

13. Did you get a full 8 hours of sleep last night?

I have no idea - I live on 6 hours sleep a night - that is my normal sleeping arrangement. I think I got eight hours a few weeks ago after a couple of days of insomnia. I really needed that sleep. 

14. Have you spoken to your mother or father today?

I spoke to my mum after the gym today - we normally call each other on Sunday. 

15. Are you good at filling awkward silences? 

Yeah. I can talk to anybody. 

Today's Song: 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Gym

We're out of lockdown, but we're not restriction free. That's the deal. It was great to go for a walk outside and not wear a mask. We can visit people in their homes - as long as it's only two of you. Wedding and funeral guest numbers are still capped, but it's not at the minimum. Offices are back to 50% capacity, but you have to wear a mask indoors, so it's easier and more comfortable to work from home. 

And gyms are back. Thank goodness. 

I went in today to see what the deal was. I'm also looking to see what the deal was. After the last lockdowns the gym got all draconian. We had to book in. You could only go at certain times when the place was staffed (it's a 24 hour gym normally). Classes were  set at 45 miuntes. They had people cleaning the equipment all over the place. Then the restrictions went away, you could go when you wanted and the classes became uncapped. 

This time round, instead of the rigmarole of having to book, they have a rubber band system. They are trying to make them sound posh by calling them tokens, but really, they're purple rubber bands. You come in. You tap in. They're insistant that you also scan in on the State run QR code system and you take a 'token'. They're allowing 50 people in at any time. 

As for the classes, they're capped at 20 people, and these people are part of the 50 allowed in the gym. 

So tomorrow morning's going to be interesting. 

And I'm trying to organise my day - and week. 

With the cap, it means getting to the gym early so I can snag a place in the 9.15 Pump class. 

I also need to go to Camberwell to get some moisturiser as I'm nearly out and I can't get it anywhere else. 

There's also the normal trip out to see Blarney and Barney. 

Before a week of after work things - training sessions, a massage (much needed), a mason's rehearsal (allegedly), a play (thank goodness, the MTC are operational, but I don't know how - they play is at the Fairfax)

But it is nice to be back in the gym. I feel like I have a bit of control back in my life. 

Today's song:

Friday, June 18, 2021

The Queue

It's what you do now. The winter snuffles - the tingling in your throat, the slightly stuffy nose, the off colour feeling. The minor headache which has lingered that bit too long. You're not sick, but you might be getting that way. 

You know. What was around the day before, the minor symptoms that made you throw an extra blanket on the bed and made you put yourself a little earlier. Yes, that feeling that you hope won't be there in the morning and the promise you make yourself that you'll go get COVID tested if you're still feeling that the next day.

That was me yesterday and today.

That's what sent me out to the testing centre this morning. Part of me feels like it's a waste of time. The other part of me knows it's a civic duty to get yourself tested even if you're slightly under the weather.

First call was made to my one up to say I was stepping out to get tested - no drama there. 

Next step, to get rugged up. A thick woolly cardigan, cordouroy trousers, thick socks, Doc Martens. It's a bit cold out there and if you're going to be queuing for a bit. Also, you take the necessities. The phone, Medicare Card, earbuds. Easy. And rather than go to a drive-through clinic, the nearest one being in South Melbourne where there are numerous cases and exposure sites, there's likely to be a long wait, instead, I made my way to the Collingwood testing site - a walk-in centre. It opened at 9.15. I left home ten minutes before. When I got there I found a queue about 20 people long. 

Things have vastly improved since my first test. Onboarding is easy. There's an efficent lady reminding everybody to social distance. She also hands out clean surgical masks to put on while you're in the queue. 

Now there are QR codes where you can answer all the questions they need to know about you. Name, address, DOB, Medicare Card number, have you been to the exposure sites? Travelled anywhere? - that sort of stuff.

Then they make you check into the state QR system. Double handling, yes, but fine. It's what you do. I'm just glad we have the QR system, even if it is allegedly badly made. As long as it works, then all is well. 

Arriving at the gate where they check you in, ask a few more questions, ask for the number the online system gave you, then give you a the swabs and a few other bits for testing.

A bit more queuing, then you get tested. The nice person who's testing you sticks the swabs down your throat and up your nose. Thankfully they're a lot less brutal than they used to be. The first time the woman appeared to be auditioning me for Deep Throat and I thought she was trying to pick out my brains when she stuck the swab up my nose. This was much gentler. It was over in a minute. 

Then you done. Go home. Go straight home. Do not get out and get groceries. Isolate until you get your results. 

In and out in just over 30 minutes. On a cold, wet morning, I see this as a great thing. 

I'll admit to being a bit cheeky. I stopped at the Maccas drive through for a coffee on the way home. Had my mask on. Didn't leave the car. Paid by card. I didn't come into direct contact with anybody. Then home. 

Another good thing about the testing regime today. The first time I got tested I waited four days for the result. The next time, it was about 24 hours. Today, I left the testing centre at five to ten. I got my results at ten to seven. Nine hours later.

Thankfully I failed my COVID test. I'm free to go to the gym tomorrow. 

I'm also thankful for our Health service. Medicare needs to kept, supported and cherished. 

We are so very lucky. 

Today's Song:

Thursday, June 17, 2021

How to make my day

How do you make my day?

Very easily. 

Give me a puppy to cuddle. 

This is Pumpkin. I got chatting to Pumpkin's mum, Mattie as we waited for the tram. It was Pumpkin's first tram ride. 

And Mattie handed him over and I got a cuddle. 

And this absolutely made my day. I'm not overly fond of Pomeranians, but any puppy that's 12 weeks old is a winner in my books, even if they do chew your ear bud cables.

Mattie and I chatted on the way into town - which was nice. She's from the country too, so she's not afraid to talk to people on trams. 

And we had a lovely chat about all sorts of things before she got off at Swanston Street. 

Then I got off at the next stop, went and got my mail, found myself a lychee slushie at the bubble tea shop and got back on the tram to go home. 

But puppy cuddles are the best things ever. 

Mind you, Lucifer is not overly happy about me coming home smelling like dog. But what can you do? 

Today's song: 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Notes from the Day

 I'm counting my blessings today. 

First up, from Friday, the gym is open again and we don't have to wear masks outside. These are big yeses from me. 

Mind you, I don't think there's a chance in hell that the theatre ticket I have for next Thursday will be used - which is a  bummer. Theatres can only have 75 people in them - there's no point opening a 700 seat theatre for that. Which is a pity as I was looking forward to seeing that play. 

I met a friend for coffee this morning. Started work at 8 am, went down the road for a coffee, in a coffee shop, at 8.45, back home by 9.30. Brilliant. Just being able to sit down in a coffee shop with a friend is wonderful. 

Work saw me presenting an aspect of my job to the wider project team. I didn't think it went that well, but people were kind. The head honcho liked that I got a Star Trek reference in there ("We are the Borg. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile."

) So the morning was spent preparing the slides of the presentation. 

The cat behaved himself for the most part today. As I've been working from home exclusively for the last few weeks, we're back into our routine. He normally torments me from 8.30 am to about 10 am, sitting on the keyboard, walking in front of the screen, sitting in the windowsill talking the the birds and making a general nuisance of himself - then he goes onto 'HIS' bed and sleeps for most of the day. He starts demanding dinner at around 4 pm. He gets fed at six. 

The only thing missing from the day is exercise. Other than walking  to the coffee shop and going up and down the stairs a few times that was the extent of it all. Tomorrow will be better. 

And that was the day. It wasn't a special day. It just was. 

Now, I'll have a glass of Baileys and watch some bad television - because what else is there to do?

Today's song:

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Film Review: Cruella

 Film: Cruella

Stars: 4 (just)

Cinema: Hoyts Victoria Gardens

I've been hanging out for this film for a while. Yes, a Disney film that gives the back story of one of it's most delicious and most reviled villains, Cruella De Vil. I nearly made it just before lockdown, but thought the better of it with COVID ramping up at the time. 

I also recommended this to a colleague who was looking for something to take his daughters, aged four and six to. I received a text over the weekend to say he loved it, the girls loved it and he was in line for 'Best Dad Ever". So there.

Anyway, this does not disappoint. gives brief as such:

"Academy Award winner Emma Stone stars in Disney's "Cruella," an all-new live-action feature film about the rebellious early days of one of cinemas most notorious - and notoriously fashionable - villains, the legendary Cruella de Vil. Cruella is set in 1970s London amidst the punk rock revolution, follows a young grifter named Estella, a clever and creative girl determined to make a name for herself with her designs. She befriends a pair of young thieves who appreciate her appetite for mischief, and together they are able to build a life for themselves on the London streets. One day, Estella's flair for fashion catches the eye of the Baroness von Hellman, a fashion legend who is devastatingly chic and terrifyingly haute, played by Emma Thompson. But their relationship sets in motion a course of events and revelations that will cause Estella to embrace her wicked side and become the raucous, fashionable and revenge-bent Cruella."

The great things about this film: 

  • It is gorgeous to look at. 
  • It's very amusing. 
  • Emma Stone is fantastic as Estella and her "evil twin" Cruella. 
  • The clothes are amazing
  • Cruella's friend Jasper and Horace (Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser) are her wonderful friends who stick with her through thick and thin. 
  • Cruella really isn't that bad, just a bit misunderstood.
  • And no animals were harmed in the making of this film
  • Wink the one-eyed chiahuahua  steals every scene he's in
Craig Gillespie's direction is sound. He's responsible for some other great films including I, Tonya and Lars and the Real Girl. This one is just as quirky in a Disney sort of way. 

I know, as a child, that the original 101 Dalmations really freaked me out. Thankfully, this didn't. It's just big, campy fun. 

I reckon there's half a chance Emma Stone may get an Oscar nod for this. She and Emma Thompson carry the film. Mark Strong is Mark Strong, the overprotective bodyguard - the role he's been playing for 20 years. I also loved Artie, (John McCrea) the opportunity shop owner who befriends Estella and helps her out in the end. 

A lot of the gags will go over the heads of the little ones. Some of the jokes take longer than they need to, and by the end of the film, you pretty much knew where everything was going to end up. 

I think my only criticism of the film is that it could be 15 minutes shorter with ease. 

But it's a great diversion - everything you expect from a Disney film and more.

Kids, especially young girls, will love it. 

Today's song: 

Monday, June 14, 2021

Movie Review: In the Heights

 Movie: In the Heights

Stars: 4

Cinema: Hoyts Victoria Gardens

I'm probably one of the few people who haven't see Hamilton. Every time I've gone to see it at a friend's place we've been shoved into lockdown. So, though I know who Lin Manuel Miranda is, I'm not that familiar with his work. Anyway, Jay said come along to see this, and I'm very glad I did. Though I'm not a big fan of musicals, after a few weeks of lockdown, any movie sounded good. 

Well, I went in with no expectations and came out smiling.

I loved this film. 

The story, which takes place around the time of a long, city wide black out during a heatwave and   centres around Usnavi (Anthony Ramos), a common man who runs the local corner store and is the centre of neighbourhood in Washington Heights, a suburb on Manhattan Island North of the Bronx, which is mainly a Latino neighbhourhood. As with any good musical, you get to meet the people of the district. The cab company owner (Jimmy Smits) and his daughter, Nina, who comes home from a top college (Leslie Grace) and her hometown beau, Benny (Corey Hawkins). The local beauty parlour owner and her tribe (great to see Stephanie Beatriz from Brooklyn 99 smile - and Dascha Polanco from Orange is the New Black). Usnavi is also proxy father to Sonny, a DREMA kid and has a large crush on Vanessa, a wannabe fashion designer. Holding the community together is Abuela Claudia (Olga Merediz), acting grandmother to the neighbourhood. And Lin Manuel Miranda makes a cameo as the snow cone or piraguero man. 

Everybody in the neighbourhood has a dream, which is what the movie is all about. Usnavi wants a quieter life back in the Dominican Republic. Sonny wants to get a green card. Vanessa wants to be a fashion designer. Nina wants to find her place in the world. 

The singing and dancing in this is fantastic, mixing hip hop with salsa and merengue beats. 

John L. Chu, who directed Crazy Rich Asians, gives the film a similar, fresh, fun and colourful feel.

Lin Manuel Miranda's music and lyrics are just wonderful.    

The stories of this group of dreamers suck you right in. I spent a lot of the back end of the film staving off tears as you bear witness to the struggles many Latino people have just living in America. But the film also highlights to joys of the community and it's close knit draw. 

Going into this blind, I came out with a huge smile on my face.

For anybody who loves a good musical, a story with heart and is in for a few tears and giggles, this is your film. 

It comes highly recommended. 

Today's Song: 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Sunday Questions

Another Sunday, another set of questions, thanks to Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. Describe your phone lock screen

Probably easier to show you. My cat is quite enigmatic. 

2. How often do you journal?

If you call this blog a journal, then I journal daily. 

3. What’s your favorite thing to teach others?

 I teach a few things. I'm good at teaching kids to bake - that's great fun. I'm also good at helping people improve their writing and strangely I'm good at teaching people how to run. It's the little things. 

4. How do you like to spend Sundays?

Normally Sunday has me at the gym, but the gyms are closed for another week or so. So today it's go for a walk, do some writing. Normally I go to Blarney and Barney's place in the afternoon, but again, bloody restrictions have put a stop to that. Joys of coming out of Stage Four lockdown. Sometimes I'll catch a movie (doing that later - something we can do) sometimes I go see other friends. 

5. What would you describe as your kryptonite?

 Oh, that would be one particular person - but we don't talk about him here. 

6. A TV show or movie you thought was really bad

 Oh, there a lot of terrible films out there. One that I really didn't like was Sin City. I walked out of that. Sia's Music wasn't that great either - or more to the point it was problematic. I try to see quality films and  prefer to look for the good in films. 

7. Do you know your mail carrier?

Do I know the postie? Not the one at home as very little is mailed to me at my residential addre. Besides - Australia Post is very, very average indeed these days. But I do know the crew at the post office where my mailbox resides in the city. I make sure I say hello to them when I go in once a week. 

8. Which regional foods are your favorite?

Hailing from Adelaide, I have lots of regional favourites that you either can't get here, or aren't the same here in Victoria. These include: 

  • Pasties
  • Fruchocs
  • Beinenstich
  • Streudel buns

Yes, most of these foods come out of bakeries, but South Australia has the best bakery culture in Australia. 

9. What was your life like 20 years ago?

 20 yeas ago I was living in East Melbourne in a one bedroom flat, working for a merchant bank and I was miserable. I'm glad things have changed. 

10. Crafting hobbies that you’d like to learn or improve

I would love to learn how to crochet from a pattern. I only know how do make blanket squares. I knit really well from a pattern, so it shouldn't be hard to learn. I'd also love to be able to make bread that doesn't turn out like breeze blocks. 

11. What is your favorite type of YouTube videos?

Other than Brad Mondo, who is good fun, I normally go for music clips. 

12. Describe your surroundings

I'm currently sitting at home in my lounge room. It's messy. I'm next to the window which looks out over a semi-industrialised part of my suburb. The television is on and a movie is running. The cat is asleep on the bed

13. You're making a Time Capsule to be opened in 50 years.  What 3 things would you put in it?

  • My grandmother's collander - it's been going for nearly a century, may we well keep it going.
  • The books that I've written (give it a year or so)
  • A potted history of Myponga

14. Something you learned recently that resonated with you

I think I've finally learned that if I don't want to do something, I really don't have to give a reason to day why I don't want to do it. There's no need to justify myself. 

15. Songs that get stuck in your head often…  

I'm a walking, talking ear worm, and all sorts of songs get stuck in my head, from old sixties songs to eighties tracks to modern things. 

Lately I've had this in my head: 

Today's song: 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Going Out

 Going out is strange now. 

Not that I'm doing anything overly special. Just dinner with friends down at Mordialloc. 

But it's strange going through the rituals and rigmarole of going somewhere other than your kitchen or the local takeaway. To drive 40 minutes to go out for dinner has been unheard of for weeks. 

But I'm going out for dinner. 

I've put on perfume (Juliette's got a Gun's Not a Perfume - I smell lovely)

There are earrings in my ears - actually hoopy ones, not just sleepers or plain studs. 

I'm wearing tights - I can't remember the last time I was wearing anything other than jeans, leggings or active wear. 

I've got a little black dress on - and Doc Martens. 

My eyeliner is winged. A double shot of mascara finishes the eyes - I don't wear anything more than that. No foundation. I don't need to wear a mask. 

And bright red lipstick, which is a bit silly, because I'll have to put on a mask at some stage in the evening and it will smudge. 

My hair is had been tamed a little. 

The cat will be fed before I hop in the car. 

And I know it's just dumplings down at Mordialloc, but after three weeks of being locked up - and even through we still have to wear masks outside for the next week, it feels good to be let out a little. 

Today's song: 

Friday, June 11, 2021


 I went out tonight. 

To my bubble. 

Because I could. 

This is what I found:

  • Blarney and Barney's cats are cuddlier than mine. I knew this already. 
  • Chicken Vindaloo goes exceptionally well with Peshwari/Kashmiri naan. I knew this but it was good to be reminded. 
  • Ben and Jerry's Choc Chip Cookie Dough ice cream is most wonderful in a fresh, crispy kiddie cone. 
  • John Travolta makes a fabulous woman (we watched a bit of Hairspray after dinner)
  • Michelle Pfieffer singing about being Miss Baltimore Crabs is just divine.

  • Other people's whisky is always better than your own. 
  • Even better when the gorgeously smooth bottle of peated Hellyers Road single malt is far too peaty for Barney's taste. 
  • And the bottle now has my name on it (yay!). 
  • But you only need a small nip - and it will live at Blarney and Barneys.
  • And I might have to swap it out with my bottle of Glenmorangie, which Barney would like as it is an East Coast Whisky and not a West Coast peaty whisky - which I love. 
  • And who knew and Australian/Irish movie could be so good - Animals was very cool. 

Lasty, I should remember in future, if I want attention from my cat, I should come home smelling of curry, whisky and other cats more often. He's not left me alone. Or maybe that's because I've barely left the house for the last two weeks. 

Today’s song:

Thursday, June 10, 2021

The Email

Lockdown: Day 14

Mood: Fine - Some restrictions are easing tomorrow

I woke up, and as per usual, one of the first thing I did was check my email. Normally my morning inbox has things like news feeds and some advertising with the occasional offer from a Russian Bride or two. Normally, I delete most of these emails, then maybe have a read of one of the newspapers.

Today, there was an email I wasn't expecting or wanting. The name sent shudders down my spine and immediately I felt a mixture of anxiety and anger. 

The last time I was in contact with this person I made it very clear that I wanted absolutely no further communication with him.

The email wasn't unpleasant. He was after the details of Mac, a friend of mine, for a specific reason. He also made reference to the fact we parted on bad terms and that he was sorry he treated me badly and that he hurt me. He also gave a few details of where we was with this life. None of this I wanted or needed to know. It was all benign enough - regardless, I was in a bad mood for a while after. 

Being a decent sort, I took a copy of the email and forwarded it Mac, with this person's email address and said that if he wanted to respond to his request it was up to him. 

I replied to him with a "I have passed this on to Mac." No salutations, no aknowledgement of anything else in the mail. Just that I'd forwarded the mail on so his query might be answered. 

If memory serves, the last time he contacted me, some six or seven years ago, where he was doing the atonement step for an addiction course, not unlike AA, he wrote me a long email apologising for his behaviour, that he was on this 12 Step program, yada yada yada. I seem to remember writing something along the lines of, "Email received. Please never contact me again."

So, yes, I have a visceral reaction to this bloke. 

And yes, I want him nowhere near me, because he's very toxic. 

But my reaction has surprised me. I've spent the day unpacking why this is so. 

As most readers of this blog will know, I have dreadful taste in men. About 15 or so years ago, I was going through an internet dating phase, as you do, which is where we met. And yeah, a few weeks of seeing him, working out that he was even more screwed up than me and probably doing some damage to all around him at the same time. He really really shouldn't have been internet dating - getting some very pointed help from counsellors and psychologists would have been a better, less destructive use of his time. 

Regardless, at the time, and having a saviour complex, of course I tried to take him under my wing. All I remember is that after a few weeks, and knowing that this person really could not be in my life, we parted company and I was hoping that was it. I just remember being grateful that he was no longer around. The few friends who met him picked up there was something off about him. To be honest, he was working through some horrible stuff - but this doesn't give you the right to inflict all of your pain on other people. 

So, I look to me now and as to why I'm so pissed off about this email. I've boiled it down to a few things:

  • He didn't respect my request to not get in contact (not that this was initiating any sort of reconciliation, but still)
  • I'm horrified that I was attracting such toxic people at the time.
  • That I used to have no control over my healer complex
  • And that he didn't respect my boundaries.
  • And as somebody who doesn't give up on people, this one had to be banished and should have been banished weeks before this happened 
  • And that I really don't ever want to go internet dating again - even though part of me thinks this could be a good way to meet some new people. 
I'm pretty sure that Mac will be able to answer his question. I'm pretty sure he won't get in contact again (His number has been blocked on my phene. There's no reason for him to all)

I'm also certain that I've grown a lot in the last fifteen years and I'd never let anybody like this back into  my life again, so I won't have to feel like this ever again. 


Today's song: 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

I want to go away next weekend

Lockdown: Day 13

Mood: Grumpy

Dear Powers-that-be,

I'm supposed to be going away next weekend. 

I don't go away very often.

My cat is supposed to be going to stay with Auntie Blarney and Uncle Barney's place. 

I'm supposed to be going to see my Uncle's daughter on the anniversary of his passing at a regional town before going down to Apollo Bay for this writer's retreat. 

And then, for the weekend, I'm supposed to be hanging out with a heap of very groovy and wonderful, like-minded people, talking writing, feminism and other stuff. I know I'm not allowed to take part in the 80's quiz (because I'm a bit good at 80's music trivia) and then there's the required skinny dip on Sunday morning - which strangely, is the very best thing about these weekends away - and who knew running naked into the Southern Ocean in the middle of Winter could feel so good? 

But at the moment, we're not allowed out of the metropolitan area - just required to go no more than 25 kilometres from home. And yeah, I get it. At least from Friday we don't have to wear masks outside. And at least more shops will be open. And I can get my legs waxed.

But the gym will still be closed. 

And I'm thankful that I can still go to Blarney's place as she is my bubble buddy. 

But I still want to know if I can go away next weekend. 

Okay, it does look like I might be able to go have lunch with my Uncle's daughter - but it is a very long way to drive for lunch. 

I know it will all work out in the end - even if the writer's retreat is postponed for a few weeks. 

And maybe soon we won't have to look out for the daily pressers. You guys are doing a great job under horrid conditions. And Brett Sutton is still thinking woman's crumpet. I could take a flame thrower to the right wing journos who think themselves epidemiologist, however... I turn off when they start dribbling their bile. 


Fuck COVID. 

Thank you for keeping us as safe as you can - even if I'm a bit pissed off. 

Lots of love,


Today's Song:

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Differing perspectives

My friends and I have a common theme in our conversations at the moment. 

Aging parents. 

Being well into our middle age, my friends are all having similar issues, similar dramas and to be honest, a lot of it isn't pretty. 

I'm one of the fortunate ones. My Mum turned 80 last year, and she's doing well. She's in great health, mentally firing on all cylinders. Yes, she's slower than she was a decade ago, but here two knee replacements have made her far more mobile - and this is a great thing. My stepdad is 75 and he's doing well too. Making things even better, my folks are socially active, are forever with friends and actively look after their health. As I said, we're blessed. They've also arranged living wills. My sisters and I know their wishes. We also have enduring power of attorney arranged in case anything happens and they can't make their own decisions. This was arranged years ago. 

This last point is something I'm truly grateful for after watching friends struggle with the wishes of their parents dying intestate, or having to make decisions for their parents who are no longer able to do what's best for themselves. 

It struck me that my father would have turned 80 over the weekend. He passed away over 20 years ago, when he was 55. Not that I have ever wanted my father gone, but looking back, he went quickly, when he did go. He was never in great health when I was growing up, and a heart complaint, which he'd had most of his life got him in the end. Thankfully, when he did die, the end was fairly quick - the decline steep. And yes, he was very young, but I'm still grateful that he didn't suffer too much near the end.

Now I look to my friends parents. Some, like me, have parents who are fit and well, living busy, active lives. 

For others, things are not great. Decisions are being made. Respite care. Nursing homes. Cancer. Dementia. Folks just going a bit potty. Folks who are lonely. Hospital visits. Mountains of stress and worry. 

Then there are the friends whose parents are dying. Some have some warning. After long illnesses, the end can come as a blessed relief. For others, their folks are there one day, gone the next. 

I'm not sure what I'm saying here, just that I'm in the position where I have a lot to be grateful for. If you're not in the position and your parents are aging, maybe it's time to start gently broaching the subject of what they want when it comes to end of life care. These can be hard conversations, bit it's easier to discuss this when your folks are healthy and firing on all cylinders. 

From my experience, this does not need to be as fraught as you think. It's far better to know what your folks want if they become incapacitated. It's a lot of worry you don't have to take account in stressful times when you have a lot of othe better things to think about. 

Today's song: 

Monday, June 7, 2021

Lemon butter

Lockdown: Day Eleven

Mood: Over it. 

Making Lemon Butter, or Lemon Curd - depends where you come from, is easy. 

Simple. You need: 

  • Two eggs
  • Two egg yolks
  • 160 grams of sugar
  • 80 grams of butter
  • The juice and grated rind of two lemons

You put the sugar, eggs, egg yolks in a small saucepan and whisk them together. Then you add the butter, lemon juice and lemon rind in with the egg and sugar. Placing the saucepan over low heat, continue whisking the mix until it thickens - don't leave it, just keep gently whisking the mix - takes about 5 minutes. Once thinkened, strain the mixture into sterilised jars. It keeps in the fridge for about a fortnight. 

Lemon curd lasting a fortnight in my fridge?

Never. Three days if I'm really lucky. 

They say it's good for cakes and pie fillings. Sure... I remember my grandmother making very good lemon meringue pie when I was a kid. It was the best. Lemon meringue pie is my favourite of favourite desserts. Actually anything lemon and sweet goes down well with me. 

I offered Blarney and Jay a jar if they wanted some. Blarney had never heard of it (Poor, poor Blarney). Jay said yes to a jar, but she had to get COVID tested, so she was going nowhere and I wasn't going to interrupt her quaranitining while the test results came in. Besides, it doesn't yield that much after you strain it... why share it?

So I'm stuck with two one jar of lemon butter. 

This morning, I found that lemon butter is wonderful on toasted crumpets (or grumpets as a friend of mine calls them - I can't have them without thinking about this and smiling)

And this will be breakfast for the next couple of days. Grumpets and lemon butter.

My life is just so hard and horrid. (Not)

Lemon butter really is the perfect salve for the weary soul during this lockdown. 

Today's song: 

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Let's Go to Dinner

 Lockdown: Day Ten

Mood: Fair - a little bit exasperated. 

Lockdown is easier to bear when it's cold and damp outside. Okay, I don't like wearing a mask while walking, but it's okay, a minor inconvenience. As long as I get a chat with somebody, once a day, preferably face to face, I'm fine. Hopefully the restrictions will ease on Thursday. We're hoping they will anyway.

Questions, as always, come from Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. When is the last time you went out to a meal with someone special? Tell us about it.

Ergh, I've had some lovely meals out over the last while, but the last time I went out to dinner with "somebody special" was probably with him in Sydney and that was at least two years ago. I remember one time going to a high-end Mexican place in Sydney, Mejico. (Oh, good to see there is one in Melbourne now). I love Mexican food. He hated anything with spice (i.e. chilli, coriander (cilantro) and pretty much anything hotter than cinnamon). He sat all night eating the guacamole they make at the table, complaining about how the spices leeched into the food from the pans. From my opinion, nothing was remotely hot. Their patatas bravas were incredible. 

We were never meant to last. I can't go out with somebody who can't do at least a little spice again. Life is boring without spice. 

2. Show us a picture of your favorite cuisine.

French food is the bomb. Find about, tarte tatin. Love it. Love anything French. They use lots of butter. Butter is good. 

If it can't be French, the Spanish or Vietnamese food. Love them both for very different reasons and flavours. 

3. What is the funniest thing a man/woman has said to you lately?

There isn't much to laugh about in Melbourne at the moment as we are in lockdown. I think somebody said to me that they thought the Prime Minister was doing a good job. I could have spat my beer over him. I had to laugh. The Prime Minister is a lying, shady, incompetent baboon. 

4. What makes a gentleman a gentleman in today’s dating world? Are there any left?

Oh, don't talk to me abuot dating. I'm not ready to do that again yet. Middle-aged Australian men are really not that inspiring. But I think if you can a man who listens to you, then you're on your way. They are around. They're rare, but you have to weed them out. If they're considerate of your needs, then you're on your way. I'm not sure what we thought a gentleman was in the days of yore - the man who opens doors for you, pulls your chair out etc - not sure if they still exist. Somebody who is kind and considerate - that works for me. 

5. Is there anything you won’t tolerate when out to dinner with your significant other?

If they're rude to the waiting stuff, they're done. I can't abide that. 

6. What type of ambiance do you enjoy in an eating establishment?

I don't have a preferred ambiance - but critical is to be able to hear my dinner companions' conversation. Stylish and fairly minimal with comfortable chairs is always a bonus too.  

7. Tell us about the worst public dining experience you ever had, whether it be a date or with your family.

I think we had a book group once where the food was terrible and the staff were overly chatty, trying to butt in and interupting our session. The restaurant used to be good, but the food just kept on getting worse and worse over a couple of months until it was just greasy and inedible. The restaurant is no longer there - we go somewhere else now. 

8. What is the lamest or rudest thing a man/woman has said to you lately?

The lamest thing? Anybody waiting for vaccinations who are entitled to them, but are thinking of holding off - sorry, that's just lame. I'm sick of being in lockdown. Vaccinations are our way out of having these happen again and again. 

9. Are you a good tipper?

No. But there is a reason for this. In Australia, our waiting staff are paid a living wage - so unless we're going high end and/or the service is really, really good, I tend to pay menu price. But for really good service, a tip will be left. It's the big difference between Australia and America. People's livelihoods do not depend on them.  

10. Do you ask for doggie bags when you leave food on your plate at a restaurant?

Depends on what it is, but sometimes. If there is a lot left over, then yes. 

11. What is your pet peeve about restaurants and dining out in general?

 A big one in Melbourne is not being able to book a table at the more popular restaurants in the city. There are a lot of great restaurants which you have to queue to get a meal at - places like Chin Chin, Supernormal and my favourite, Cumulus Inc. You have to get there early, or stand on the footpath for hours to get fed. I don't queue for restaurant food. Unless it's a place you can book or walk straight into, I won't go there. 

12. Do you prefer to order yourself or do you ever let your significant other order for you?

I order for myself unless it's a group, sharing arrangement when I'll let the table work out what we're having. Very occassionally I'll say that I don't want to choose and let somebody else pick for me, but that's pretty rare. 

13. Describe your most intimate romantic dinner ever. (fantasy or real)

I'd be happy with a tasting platter in front of an open fire. But you could also take me our for a really great degustation meal - one where you get dressed up and just bliss out on the amazing food and wine - something to aspire to after this lockdown. As I've never experienced this, it's hard to envisage it. 

14. Do you enjoy piano bars?

Generally, yes, but it's been years since I've been to one - in fact, the last time I think I went to a piano bar was on Mykonos in Greece in 2003. 

15. If you could go anywhere in the world for dinner, where would it be and who would you be with?

I'm not sure if it's still open, but I'd love to go to Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck restaurant in England. I'd go with anybody who could to afford to go with me. 

Today's song:

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Today's Walk

Lockdown: Day Nine

Mood: Middling

Jay and I went for a walk along the river today. We timed it well as the morning was wonderful, but the afternoon revolting - cold and windy. It was a good morning to walk along the towpath, avoiding cyclists, joggers and other walkers - most wearing masks, some not. 

The directive to wear masks while outside is annoying, but understandable. When walking, they do get a bit constrictive and the odd stop was needed to get our breath back. To be honest, I'm just happy to go for a walk and get out of the flat for a bit - bugger the mask. 

We did our normal route - round the river to Bridge Road, then back through the side streets to Victoria Gardens, where Jay stopped to pick up a few groceries and me, a coffee.

And we run into Yanni from the gym. 

Yanni is wonderful - he sets up our pump gear most Sunday mornings. But we had a chat about some stuff while waiting for Jay to come out of the greengrocers. 

"Have you had your COVID vaccination yet?" he asked. 

"The first one, yes." I answered. 

"I think I'll wait," he said.

"What the fuck to you want to do that for?"

"Oh, you know.." I'm not sure he was expecting my vehmence.

"No, I don't know. How old are you? 53? 54?"


"Are you waiting to get the Pfizer shot?" I asked.

"Well you know, it's supposed to be better."

"Bullshit. Besides, they're not goiog to give it to you. You're over 50. It's the Astra Zeneca or nothing, unless you have some fairly specific medical conditions, that's it. There's a lot of it around. The sooner you get it, the sooner you build up some immunity. "

"And what did you have?" he asked. 

"The Astra Zenaca. Because I'm over 50, have no specific medical conditions and I got it as soon as I could. You might feel crappy the day after - I did, but it's nothing a day on the couch with some panadol won't fix. "

"But why did you get it so soon?"

"Why? That's a stupid question. Well, other than I want to travel in the future, and I take public transport, and I work in an office, this is a public health priority. I don't want to be fucking locked down again. Sooner this is done, the better. Besides, waiting to get this done is dumb. Sooner it's done, sooner this goes away. I see vaccination as a community service activy. We don't have polio, smallpox and the like because of vaccinations. This should join them. "

"But the Pfizer is better..."

"Bullshit - all the vaccinations will stop you dying and getting really sick from this horrible disease. It's like a flu jab - won't stop you getting the flu - will stop you getting really sick and dying drowning in your own chest fluids. It will also cut down the chance of passing this on. "

"Oh, yeah, you're probably right."

"Don't tell Jay that. I'm not right very often. But we agree on this."

"Well, I'm getting some blood tests back on Monday - I'll talk to my doctor."

"Good man, but he'll probably tell you to get your Astra Zeneca shot as soon as possible."

"Hmm. I'll ask Jay - see what she says." 

Yanni is a glutton for punishment. Jay is G.P. Jay is also a Scorpio who doesn't suffer fools.  Jay has had this conversation 20 times. It's all Jay whines about while we're  training. I think most doctors are having this talk multiple times on most days. 

Jay came out of the supermarket. 

"Hey, Jay. Should I get the Astra Zeneca shot?"

"How old are you?" she asked. I could see a vein in her temple throbbing. 


Jay exploded. "Should you get your COVID vaccination? Of course, you idiot. Just do it. You're not going to die. You might feel a bit crap the next day. Nothing that panadol and ibuprufen won't fix. The sooner you get it, the better."

"That's what Pand said."

"Pand is not an idiot."

We walked home, shaking our heads. Jay at Yanni's attitude. Me at the thought of having to have that same conversation hundreds of times a week. I could never be a G.P. I can't deal with the general public. 

Still, it was a nice walk.

I'll check in on Yanni next week. 

And if you can, get vaccinated. It's not about you. This might be your once community service activity for the year. 

This is not just about you. 

Today's song: 

Friday, June 4, 2021

Six Feet Under

Lockdown: Day Eight

I remember the night well. I was home in my flat in East Melbourne, it was late, like in past ten. It was 2001 - before September. They'd been spruiking this show for a while. Six Feet Under. A show about a family of morticians in Los Angeles. 

The show came on. 

I was standing up. And I remained transfixed to the television, standing, for the next half an hour, absolutely entranced by this quirky, edgy, completely wonderful show. 

For the next five years, I was hooked. 

From Nate (Peter Krauss) the prodigal slacker son who returned from running an organic food shop, the David, the closeted second son who ran the family company, but really wanted to be a laywer, the Claire, the lost soul, arty, hippy sister who drove around in an old hearse, to Ruth, the mother who was wound up like a two bob watch, to Brenda, the woman Nate picked up at the airport who hung around, to Rico, the happy-go-lucky mortician's assistance...

Six Feet Under provided the early naughties with some of the best writing and acting that's ever graced our televions. 

I used to love seeing the deaths at the start of each episode, where you were graced with the knowedge of how that week's body had died. Some were sad, some were blackly funny, some scary. 

Yes, Alan Ball, producer, writer and director of the series is amazing. He was responsible for American Beauty and True Blood - is also responsible for this. Stunning stuff. 

There was so much good in this show (okay, with the exception of the episode in Season Four entitled "That's my dog?", which is horribly violent and it gave me nightmares. I loaned my DVD set to a colleague. He was hooked - but I warned him about that episode. He thanked me. I'm not sure I could watch it again.

Still, it was 20 years ago since Six Feet Under came out. It feels like yesterday. It's a pity it's not played for reruns (Though it's currently available on the Binge streaming service in Australia).

Today's Song: 

Thursday, June 3, 2021


Lockdown: Day Seven

Mood: It will be better after a walk

I found this scene in the city yesterday as I went to collect my mail.

What is normally an hour round trip to collect the mail, with a third of that time trying to find a park, took just over half an hour. 

The streets are empty. And rightly so. We're in lockdown. People are heeding the warning. Allegedly this D-Variant COVID is far more virulent than other strains.  But collecting your mail once a week is a necessary evil, and being one of the invisible, mask-wearing, middle-aged women, who nobody gives a toss about, a quick trip in is going to harm nobody (It's also in my five kilometre, soon to be ten kilometre radius, so ner....)

The police were practicing their traffic hand signals on the corner of Queen and Bourke Streets. Not much traffic there to run them over. Good for the newbies. 

I found a park just around the corner near the post office. For a change I didn't have to beg the Parking Fairy for help. 

I was in and out in five minutes, stopping for a quick chat with Tom the postie and grabbing an egg and bacon roll from a nearby cafe on the way back to the car (Which was magnificent, toasted up in my new Kmart issue, $19 sandwich press.)

But unlike the last big lockdown, the city doesn't feel dead. 

It's not a strange sight anymore, this empty city. 

I prefer to think the city is hibernating. Everything is shut down for a reason. Life goes on around the place, but it's at a quieter, necessary pace. 

The trains and trams are still running. 

The coffee shop guys is ready with a quick smile and a chat. 

There is a wonder in driving through an empty city - once described by Catherine Deveny as being like of Good Friday at 5 am. 

But some things remain the same. 

Cyclists remain annoying. 

They're doing road and building works all around. 

There are a few people, inhabitants, city dwellers, out on their walks, with or without dogs. 

It just feels different this time. 

We know we can come back from this. 

Today's Song: