Friday, March 31, 2023

My Day

 Midnight (ACST - Darwin Time) / 1.30 a.m (AEDST - Melbourne Time):

I was drinking a Bloody Mary in the Qantas Lounge in Darwin. The Bloody Marys are better in Melbourne as they use Beerenberg Worcestershire Sauce which is the absolute bomb.  

12.30 ACST / 2 a.m. AEDST

Board the plane back to Melbourne. Thankfully I have a row to myself. 

2 a.m to 6 a.m. AEDST 

Sporadic sleep on said row on the plane. I did manage about three hours of light sleep. 

6.30 a.m. AEDST

Picked up by Andrew's Airport Parking as to collect the car. 

6.50 a.m. AEDST

Drove around the Western Ring Road towards the West Gate Bridge. 

7.10 a.m. AEDST

Dropped in at Blarney and Barney's to collect a very clingly Lucifer. He's behaved, but he's been very clingy.

8.45 a.m. AEDST

Arrive home. Take the cat upstairs. First job, feed the cat. Go down to collect bags from the car. The cat howls down the stairwell as I say hello to the downstairs neighbour. 

9.00 a.m. AEDST

Shower, dress, make a cup of tea and throw on a load of washing. 

9.30 a.m. AESDT

First Meeting - thankfully short. 

10.30 a.m. AEDST

Walk down the post office to collect two parcels. Only one is there. The other is at a Post Office the other side of Richmond. Startrack Express are arseholes. 

11 a.m. AEDST

Next meeting. Thankfully I didn't need to contribute, nor turn my camera on and there is a pack to read which explains it all. 

12 p.m. AEDST

Run down the road for a Bahn Mi as there is no food in the house. 

1.p.m . AEDST

Another meeting. Probably didn't need to be there. 

2 p.m. AEDST

Nanna Nap with clingy cat. 

3 p.m AEDST

Popped down to the other post office across Richmond to collect offending parcel - the one that I wanted in the first place. 

3.30 p.m. AEDST

Put on some make up.

4.00 p.m. AEDST

Last meeting of the day. It was a short one. Half the people there were buggered from the Red Eye flight. 

4.30 p.m. AEDST

Go into town. 

5.00 p.m. AEDST

Went and saw RONE at Flinders Street Station. I wish I wasn't so tired. It's incredible. More on this when I'm compus mentus. 

6.00 p.m. AEDST

Went to see Sammy J at the Forum for the Comedy Festival with River. Great seeing River again. Sammy J was very funny. 

7.15 p.m. AEDST

Found a quick dinner at the Southbank food court. 

7.45 p.m. AEDST

Got some ice cream - in my case, a cup of dairy free chocolate and coconut. It tasted like a lamington. 

8.30 p.m. AEDST

Went to see Ross Noble at the Playhouse. He was hysterical. Never turn up to Ross Noble late. We were there on time. 

10 p.m. AEDST

Tried to get a cab home. It's Grand Prix Weekend. The cabbie said it would cost $35 to get me home to Richmond. Told the cabbie to go fuck himself and strode up the road to get the tram. 

10.30 p.m. AEDST

Got home after a thankfully uneventful tram ride for which I only had to wait a minute. Better than a $35 cab ride off a rorting cabbie. 

11.00 p.m. AEDST

Finish this blog, have a shower and go get some much needed sleep. I think the clingy cat might join me tonight. 

I've had three hours of patchy sleep - no wonder I'm tired. 

Today's song: 

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Yetis at Lunchtime

 I went to the tackle shop at lunchtime to buy a Yeti. Actually, I went in to buy two Yetis. 

There is enough in this sentence to either send me to therapy or to take an hour to unpack with some adequacy. 

The tackle shoP is over the road from the office. They sell all things fishing and camping. They also sell guns. 

But the tackle shop sells Yetis. I wanted one for myself and one for Blarney and Barney, to thank them for looking after the cat. 

I can see the irony of me walking into a tackle shop on a Thursday afternoon. My mother would love it in there. 

Thankfully, the Yetis were just inside the door. 

Yeti's come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours.

Owning a Yeti is a rite of passage in the Northern Territory. You're supposed to put your name on your Yeti so it doesn't go walkabout. 

I found the Yetis I was after and made my way to the counter. 

It was really busy.

Everybody seems to have put on their good thongs for the occasion. 

The guy at the counter greeted me warmly and made comment about my buys. 

"Two Yetis."

"Yes, one for me, one for my friends who are looking after my cat."

"Where is your cat?"

"In Melbourne."

"Can't feed him to the crocs then?"


"But two Yetis. Wow."

"I'm going to be working up here for a bit."

"Well, you'll fit in now."

"I know."

I paid for the Yetis and bid the man farewell, before finding some lunch and wandering back to the office.

And what, you may ask, the fuck is a Yeti.

It's a brand of kitchen and drinkware. I bought two coffee buckets. I quite like them. 

I'll fit in a bit better when I come up in a few weeks. Me and my Yeti.

Strange place is the Territory. 

Oh, and if you're still confused, this is a Yeti. (An insulated coffee mug, sold all over the Territory, but especially at tackle shops.)

A good night

 We worked out the last time we saw each other was in about 1988. That's 35 years ago. 

The magic of technology meant we knew what was going on in each other's lives. We have mutual friends both of us are in contact with. 

35 years is a long time. 

She gave me a locals tour of the city. The Waterfront. Government House. The Cathedrals. The parks. She showed me more of what I could take in on food in this humidity. 

Then, later, we sat outside at the Darwin Ski Club, a glass of rose to hand and some dinner for the cafe, overlooking Fannie Bay as the last vestiges of an ordinary sunset dissolved into the sea. The best of the eighties were playing over the tannoy. This, she said, was old school Darwin. It was very awesome. 

Social media is a good thing in some ways. Bringing people closer together, reconnecting, keeping up with people's lives. It's a great thing. 

We spoke of many things. As she's a Darwin native, she's seen the place in all its facets. Working for the government, she's seen many things, gone through many iterations of her career. Haven't we all. 

We spoke of all the things old friends speak of. Old friends and acquaintances. Our lives at the university college where we met. Our aging parents (we're both very lucky on that front), the state of politics in Darwin. Our respective health issues. The Wet. The Dry. Darwin history. My contract up here. The year she's about to take off. 

And we realised how lucky both of us have been in life. 

We may not have lived the lives of others. There's no fame. We're both comfortable. We've had rich and rewarding lives. We're both grateful for the opportunities we've had extended to us. 

She dropped me of at the hotel around nine. It was a really great night.

To think that this time tomorrow night I'll be heading to the airport to go back to Melbourne.

Some of me wishes I had more time here, time outside of office hours, with which I could explore this place. It's not like anywhere else. I'll be back after Easter. 

Today's song:

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The Walk

Darwin: 10 p.m.

Actual Temperature: 27 degrees Celsius. 

Apparent Temperature: 32 degrees Celcius. 

Humidity: 87%

Sleep was elusive last night, and the day was long. I'm finding my Darwin feet, but with the weather sapping your energy, and not a great night's sleep, it was good to get to 5 p.m. and time to get home. 

Also, being inveterate introvert, some time away from people was needed. 

Arriving back at the apartment, I threw on some leggings and my runners and went for a walk. This turned out to be a very good idea. 

You get to find out about a city when you see it on foot. With my audiobook in my ears, I took the route my colleagues suggested. Down to the Waterfront, around the bay, along the beach and back home. 

The walk skewed my view of Darwin

Staying in the administrative centre of city, there is little to see. There are flustered office workers, the backpackers bars (as I discovered near the other office today) the occasional indigenous person, and the odd grey nomad. Tourists will come back soon and make the place feel busier. 

Today's walk proved that this town is a little discombobulated. On my walk I passed a lot of apartment buildings. Lots of apartment buildings. Then I arrived I at the Waterfront - an area filled with bars and restaurants, next to a wave pool and a small lagoon beach, in which a few children were playing. 

You don't swim at the beaches in Darwin, particularly in the Wet. If the box jellyfish, which can kill you if you're not careful, the crocodiles might come at you. You're good to walk along in the gardens - but don't go in the water. Not in the Wet. This beach at the waterfront is allegedly croc and stinger free, but I'm not into that. I'd rather chance myself at the beaches in South Australia. 

I walked for a good hour. I bought an ice cream as it was a good night for that. A decent breeze meant I could walk comfortably. It was great for calming the mind. I'm already mourning the book - the last of a trilogy, which I have loved. There's only two hours on it left to play. 

Once I'd left the Waterfront and walked around the base of Fort Hill Park as the sun was about to set. 

After reading some of the plaques to those lost in World War Two, where Japan bombed the port of Darwin, to looking around the parks, it was a pleasant walk. Nowhere near as busy as the Melbourne footpaths get. Not as many dogs either. This might be something that's stemmed from the pandemic - or the area in which I live. It's a bit hot for dogs anyway. 

And once I was back in the area, I walked back through the city streets and the melting backpackers, and the Irish pubs and the quiet eating joints, found myself some takeaway for dinner - and I went back home.

It's not a bad place. Just different. 

Hoping for a better sleep tonight. 

Monday, March 27, 2023

I am turning into my mother

Darwin / Larrakeyah:  9 p.m.

Actual Temperature: 28 degrees Celsius. 

Apparent Temperature: 33 degrees Celcius. 

Humidity: 79%

I woke at 6.30, looked out my window, and found this. 

I was tired and hungry. 

The next thought that ran through my head was, "I need to get to Woolies."

(Anybody who knows my Mum knows that she loves going to Woolies).

I have joined the ranks of the FIFO (Fly In, Fly Out - not Fit In or Fuck Off) worker. And I'm turning into my mother, because all I want to do is go to Woolies. 

I've been here less than 24 hours. 

The heat pickles your brain. It saps every last bit of your energy, makes you sweat and wilt in equal measure. The slight breeze you feel as you walk along the street helps a little, but you search out air conditioning like prospector searches for gold. You start to learn the back lanes and arcades which give you some respite from the unrelenting heat. I'm sure you could find a map which shows these lanes of gold. 

There is currently an hour and a half time difference between here and Melbourne. It's just enough to royally fuck you over. From this weekend, the Territory goes back to Adelaide time, which will make things a bit more palatable when it comes to annoying jetlag. Going into the office, my laptop was set to Melbourne time and this did my head in. All is well now, we changed the clock settings and life felt a bit better. 

I'm also told that wait a few weeks, when the dry starts, and it will be just delightful. 

At present, I feel like I'm in Bali. I thought I was going to fall asleep at my desk - but battled through. 

The thing that kept running through my head was I needed to get to Woolies. 

Why? I wanted to sort out my breakfast for the next few days. I needed a hairclip, some water and a few nibblies for the evening. A packet of muesli bars for snacks. Oh, and almond milk for my coffee in the morning. It was the normality I was craving. 

This is going to become normal. I'm going to be up here for a week every month for the next eight months. We come up on the Sunday night, go back on the early hours of the Friday or Saturday morning. We? There's a group of us. Everybody is lovely. As I'll be keeping a desk drawer up here, I can leave a few things. A sealed packed of muesli. Spare shoes. A water bottle. I'll get a YETI mug. I'm told I need to get a YETI mug. That's your passport to becoming a Territorian, allegedly. 

The streets are long, and slow, and sleepy. 

"Where is everybody?" I asked my colleague. 

"Hiding from the heat."

The tourists should start to return next month when The Dry starts. 

There were meetings in the afternoon. I think I'm contributing. This is the third, large utilities transformation project I've been part of. Been there, seen that, done that. Got the t-shirt. 

Relationships will be forged. The one great thing about this job is it appears I'll have a lot of license to do what I want. This is both a blessing and a curse. This is an incredible amount to do - and it is scary. I like a challenge. 

I left the office, which is next door to where I'm staying, at 5 p.m. Dumping my backpack and laptop in my room, thrilling at the cool coming from the air conditioning, fans and de-humidifier which I left running over the day. 

Then I went to Woolies.

The pace is different here. You don't move fast. There are some indigenous people wandering the streets. My colleague told me there was more than normal as some of the communities had to be cleared to recent weather events. I watched them move slowly down the streets, their long limbs graceful in the heat. This is Larrakeyah. This is their land. 

I feel like such an imposter. 

But I got to Woolies. I purchased the yoghurt and muesli and nibblies for the days ahead, as well as a big hairclip to sort my frizzy hair out, and then all was right with the world. 

On arriving home, I threw myself under the shower. You sweat differently up here. Ecrine sweat. It's pure saline - not the smelly stuff. It felt good to rinse off the day. 

Dinner was taken at the Cavanagh Hotel. A Monday night ritual for those coming to Darwin. The small piece of eye fillet was some of the best steak I've ever eaten. The gin and tonic, not so much. I am a gin snob. Post-mix tonic is not great. Instructing the barman, who looked all of 12, that you never put citrus with Hendrick had to be done. As they had no cucumber for garnishes, I settled for a strawberry. Yes, I am a snob. 

Now that my blog post is done, it's off to bed. 

I'm tired and happy, and despite the fact I'm missing my cat, I reckon this could be one of the best things I could have done for myself. 

Even if I am turning into my mother. 

Today's song:

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Movie Review: Empire of Light

 Movie Number 17 of 2023

The Movie: Empire of Light

The Cinema: The Rivoli, Camberwell

Stars: 4

Part of the allure of cinema is its nostalgic value. Therefore, seeing Empire of Light at the Rivoli, one of Melbourne's best known art deco cinemas was a great choice. The vibe of the film matches some of the glory of Empire Cinema, in which much of the movie's action takes place. 

Set in a seaside town in Southern England, the film tells the story of Hillary (Olivia Colman), a quiet, nervous woman who works as the duty manager at the local cinema in the early 1980s. She's at the beck and call of her awful boss (Colin Firth). She gets on well with her strange workmates - and for anybody who has worked in one of these insular locations, you will understand.  Along with the band of misfit ushers, the team have a fairly quiet existence, until joined by Stephen (Michael Ward), whose Caribbean ethnicity initially sets him apart from the group. This is quickly overcome. Remember, this is Britain in the early 1980s. Margaret Thatcher, skinheads and the dark overtones of a country in crisis mean that Stephen's life outside of work is far from plain sailing.

Also making things interesting is the state of Hillary's mental health. What starts out as a feeling that something is off-kilter. This feeling is well substantiated as her behaviour becomes more erratic as the movie progresses. Olivia Colman really is the master of nuts. She's fantastic. 

There's a lot of highlights to this film. Michael Ward is achingly good as Stephen, the guy who wants more in a place where those who are different are not readily accepted. Stephen looks for the good in people where it may not be apparent.

The MA 15+ rating on this film is a little surprising, but there is one difficult, violent scene during an uprising which gives merit to the rating. What this does well for the rest of the film is show the menace within which Stephen lives his life. The everyday racism is appalling. It's eye opening to think that there are people in the community who want this sort of behaviour to return. 

The other major character in the film is the cinema itself, a rundown version of what it used to be which looks over the boardwalk. Above the two operating theatres is another world. This is all part of the charm of this film, showing what was once there, and what there is now. For somebody who remembers cinemas like this as a child, and when I lived in Britain, this all added to the film.

Sam Mendes wrote and directed this, an homage to the cinemas of the past. The director of American Beauty and Skyfall does a wonderful job with this. The film was also nominated for an Oscar in the Cinematography category. How they made a rundown theatre and an equally rundown town (sorry, Margate) look so beautiful is beyond me. The script is inciteful. It gives Olivia Colman yet another chance to show her range. And rage. 

For lovers of English cinema, and for those who want to see a bit of modern history which is rarely looked, this is definitely worth a look. 

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Sunday Stealing: The YouTube Questions

 I've got too much to do, too little time to do it, and I'm heading off to another film in hours, so I think I had better get the Sunday Questions done - maybe ironing an item between each question to ensure both jobs get done before I leave here at 8.45 pm. 

Questions, as always, have been provided by Bev at Sunday Stealing.

1. Working on anything exciting lately?

I'm not sure if this is exciting, but I started a new job two weeks ago. There is a hell of a lot to do, but I'm really pleased to have a job that will challenge me. 

And there is something in me that wants to start my novel again. Yay. It's been too long. 

2. What was the highlight of the day today?

Today I went to a sound meditation session at Tempo Rubato. My friend, Anthony runs these once a month and they are great. Even better, after being delayed by buses replacing trains (the words no Melbournian wants to hear) and then another delay, I had to drive over to Brunswick. I would rather take public transport, but I drove, considering parking a mile away from the venue as parking is awful around there. I managed to find a park just outside the venue. Result all round. The sound bath was wonderful. 

3. What is your favorite thing to do on the weekends?

Lots of things. Relax, exercise, read, write, go see films, go out with friends. I like keeping busy. 

4. What are your favorite restaurants?

Oh, this is a hard one. As in what type of restaurant. For French food, that's Noir on Swan Street. For classy Indian, Daughter in Law on Little Bourke Street. For Mexican food, Fonda. For bahn mi - I just have to wander down the road to the Nhu Lan or Lee Lee bakeries.  For stupidly expensive, yet wonderful degustation, then you can't beat Vue de Monde. I work in the same building as Vue de Monde. Melbourne has great food. I could go on forever about this. 

5. Do you follow any sports?

Not really. I do keep my eye on Australian Rules Football, mainly to see if my team (The Adelaide Crows) have won, and to work out if I can talk to my friend Jay depending on what happened with the North Melbourne Kangaroos. I don't mind rugby union, but I don't follow it. 

6. What is your biggest fear?

Huntsman Spiders. Intimacy. I'm not great with open water either. 

7. What is your biggest regret?

Probably not getting therapy in my early twenties. It might have made things a bit easier. Mind you, I wasn't ready for it, but still. 

8. When you were growing up, what was your dream job?

Doctor, Astronaut or Writer. I gone one right. 

9. Do you say ‘sherbet’ or ‘sherbert’?

Sherbert. Like the band. See the song of the day. Go Daryl Braithwaite. 

10. Have you ever had a paranormal experience?

Yes. We used to have a ghost in the house I lived in while in London. She was a friendly ghost. Lots of people saw her. You could often feel her in the basement of the place, though many people saw her. Ghosts don't scare me. 

11. What is your favorite food at a cocktail party?

I can't remember the last time I went to a cocktail party. I do like those little pancakes with a bit of smoked salmon and cream cheese. And when they do the little baskets of fish and chips, that's good - it's like a perfect serving size. 

12. Who is a book character most like you?

I have no idea. Maybe Sybil Trellawney from the Harry Potter books. If anybody could let me know who I'm like, that would be great, thanks. 

13. Do you read reviews before you go to movies??

Sometimes. I tend to hear about movies on various forums before going, but a bad review won't stop me seeing a film. Often it will just lower my expectations. 

14. How do you feel about cilantro?

I love coriander. That's what we call it. I don't get how people can't like it. Great stuff. 

15. Have you ever cried in public?

Yes, but I don't make a habit of it. 

Today's song: 

Friday, March 24, 2023

Movie Review: Dungeons and Dragons: Honour Among Thieves

 Movie number 16 of 2023

The Movie: Dungeons and Dragons: Honour Among Thieves

The Cinema: Hoyts Victorian Gardens

Stars: 3.5

Balm for the fried brain is what I go for on a Friday night when I have nothing better to do. And Dungeons and Dragons: Honour Among Thieves fit the bill tonight, especially after hearing a review of this on morning television the other day. Need something light, a little bit funny, with a great heart and fabulous effects. This is it. 

Do you need to know anything about the Dungeons and Dragons game? No. 

Do you need to engage your brain to watch this? No. 

Is this pretty to look at and a guilty pleasure for somebody who won't freely admit to liking action movies. Yes. 

Is it worth going to just for the cast? Absolutely. 

What can I tell you about this? 

It's a journey film, centered around Edgin (Chris Pine), a disillusioned Harper (D&D term I believe), a thief who has lost his wife to a Red Witch attack. In the pit of his grief, he's looked after by Holga (Michelle Rodriguez), who takes care of both him and his young daughter Kira. Edgin then arranged a group to start to live life like Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to give to the poor. They also do the odd renegade job, with fledgling wizard, Simon (Justice Smith) and an elf-like druid creature, Doric (Sophia Lillis). The last job, where they are after a magical relic, lands them in prison for a few years. One of their band, Forge (Hugh Grant) taking care of Kira in the interim. 

When Edgin and Holga escape from prison, the task is then to gain back Kira and her confidence in her father. In the mean time, Forge has been harbouring the red witch (Daisy Head) who is about to unleash all sorts of trouble on Forge's kingdom and the group at large. 

I won't say any more - it's far to convoluted to explain, but in the run of the film, it's easy to understand. 

For a time-filler, this was great. The effects are fantastic and worth the ticket price alone. 

It's also a funny film, with plenty of laughs interspersed in the action. The scene with the reanimated corpses is hilarious. The script is pacy enough for you to suspend disbelief and enjoy the film. 

My one small beef is that Hugh Grant is now playing to a type. Sure, he's funny, but it's getting a bit old. 

There's also some wonderful cameos. Rege-Jean Page plays Xenk, another Harper (like Edgin) who helps the band in their travels. There are blink and you miss them cameos from Bradley Cooper and Terry Crews. 

Sure, this is a fantasy action film, I went in with low expectations and came out happy. There's something for everybody. The fight scenes would be enough to keep your teenage boys happy, but they storylines, in the same vent as The Princess Bride, gives this a bit more dramatic and comic kudos.

I was pleasantly surprised by this. It was the perfect Friday night chill out movie. Good for a few laughs and great effects. 

Thursday, March 23, 2023

The Joys of a Trilogy

 I've always got an audiobook on the go. It's my way to read more books while doing other things, which is normally walking, sitting on public transport, or driving. I love being told a story - and the books I tend to listen to are quality literature.

Some of my favourites have been a fully casted version of George Saunder's Lincoln in the Bardo - a fabulous book on its own, made even better with the cream of American Theatre voicing the book. Taylor Jenkins Reid's Daisy Jones and the Six was the other I loved. Again, every character had their own actor voicing the role. Judy Greer as Karen Karen was inspired casting. 

Anyway, at the moment, I'm early into the third of the Daniel Pitt Trilogy by Louis de Bernieres, a family saga that takes place from the turn of the 20th Century through until after World War Two. 

The first book, The Dust that Falls From Dreams introduces us to the two families involved - the McCosh family - a Scottish Dad, a rather barking Mum and their four daughters - the pretty one, the odd one, the sensible one and the plain one. Next door is the Pitt family, where their two remaining boys (the other two were killed in the Boer War) wreak havoc around their neighbourhood in Surrey, England. 

After becoming completely in love with these families, the second book takes us from just after the First World War until the middle of the second world war. The families, but the stage have gone through some turbulent times. Some of them are married. Some are travelling. Some have gone nowhere. Some are living alternative lives. There are many trials and tribulations for both families. 

And now I'm onto the third book - not very far in. There's already been a big, but predictable death. All the characters are still there. 

What's got me even more about this book, being a lover of the works of Louis de Bernieres, is that characters, from his other books, particularly Captain Corelli's Mandolin and Birds Without Wings, keep cropping up. One of my favorite minor characters from the former book, Bunnios (it's a long story, but he's and English soldier who tries to talk to the Greek Locals in Ancient Greek - Bunnios  is hilarious.) All sorts of people have turned up within the pages of these three rarely read gems. 

I'm buying my mother these books for when she recouperates from her pending hip operation.

What's upsetting me most about finished these books is how I'm going to miss all the characters when I've finished. Daniel is a flawed hero. You want to slap Rosie for her piety. Sophie makes me laugh. I love Ottillie's stoicism and practicality. Mr and Mrs McCosh are brilliant comic relief. 

And if they're all not dead by the end of this last book, they're not going to be far from it - and I am going to miss these strange, batty, sweet, practical people. They've been part of my life for a few weeks now and have become old friends. 

Louis de Bernieres is the perfect mix of Charles Dickins and P.G. Wodehouse. He is an earthbound God in my view. 

Best not think about finishing and savour what I have left. 

Today's song: 

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Pointless Cleaning

 I have a flat inspection tomorrow so I'm madly cleaning and tidying. Papers have been put in piles. Shoes are in the cupboard in the room shoes go to die (aka the spare room). Windowsills have been dusted. The cat hair tumbleweeds have been hoovered up. I've just finished the ironing pile. The floors are mopped. The vibrator has been placed in the drawer away from prying eyes. 

It's not perfect, but it's respectable - and as I'm working from home tomorrow, I will be here when the land agent comes through. 

It's pointless cleaning. 

I'm not running a meth lab. 

I'm not hoarding, unless you want to talk about the piles of books around the place.

I don't have 25 students living in the spare room. 

The cat is on the lease along with me. "Pandora and Lucifer Behr" - we officially co-habitate according to Yarra Council. 

I'm as ready as I can be. 

And the flat will be back to its scruffy self by next weekend. I'm in Darwin next week so I don't have a chance to mess it up.

Best get back to it. 

Today's song: 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Happy Birthday, Lucifer

 It's your "Gotcha" birthday. 

Three years go I collected this aloof, skinny, silky cat from the Coldstream Animal Aid centre. You didn't make a sound as I drove you home. We stopped in at a friend's place to collect a very cool litter tray, then we were home. 

First we changed your name. You're not a Reggie. Lucifer is the name of a regal fellow like you, so Lucifer it is. I call you Darling Boy or Fluffy Butt most of the time, anyway. 

I took you on a limited adoption, not knowing if you would like me. That failed. Three years on, you're still here. 

You slept behind my knees that first night. 

I was in, it seems. 

Three years on, you're not quite as aloof. You half-like belly rubs. You tolerate me picking you up and giving you a cuddle first thing in the morning as I scoop you off my office chair. I'm waiting for it to get cooler so you'll sleep between my knees again. 

You love raw chicken. 

You love eating pot plants - and your rotation of cat grasses which sit in the kitchen window are your favourite things. 

You're a bit of an unashamed wanker. 

You like to terrorise the vet.

You're hysterically funny when you get the odd dingleberry. 

You're not that funny when you throw up on the mats. Or wipe your bum on the mats. 

But you are my darling, silky, slinky mini house panther, and I love you dearly, even if you're not that cuddly and like to stick your bum in my zoom calls. 

You're just my cat, and it's you and me against the world, and I couldn't ask for a better partner panther in crime. 

Lots of love,


Today's song:

Monday, March 20, 2023

Auditions and Actions

 It's been a day where some big things have happened. 

First up, I managed to finish Demon Copperhead, our book group book - all 550 pages of it - and it was started last Monday. The book is sublime, and I wish I could have lingered over it more. 

Secondly, I put a deposit down on my place at the Gunna's Retreat in Paris in October. To make this happen, money has to be put down and plans made. The retreat is from 5-14 October. I'm looking to go to England for a couple of days before, and catch up with some friends. There's a chance that Reindert may visit his parents around the same time - and we might be able to catch up before the retreat. Then back to London and home. I've be gone about three weeks. I need this. 

And lastly, I auditioned a new personal trainer today. Cleo is moving to Spain in early May, so thought it best to start looking for somebody now. Trainers are a good thing. They keep me in the gym and they keep me honest. 

So I met Saxon today for a meet and greet. 



"Yeah. Shit, you look like you're 12."

He did. 

We talked about a lot of things. Fitness goals, why I've got a PT in my life. What I get out of it. Working out with Jay. What was I after?

Then he put me through a light workout. Some body weight squats - hampered a little by an aching lower back and some tight butt muscles. All good. Overhead shoulder presses - he listened. Light weights. Easy. Bench presses with dumbbells. All good. 

Then he started on wanting to know what my core strength was like. 

I like when my body surprises people. 

Somebody slapped my arse on the dance floor at the retreat the other day. My butt is like concrete. I've been working out for 15 years. It should be rock hard. There's a lot of muscle in there.  

Anyway, he said to lie down on a mat and put myself into a tabletop position and reach up. 


Hmm, he said. Okay, can you straighten one leg, and then change them over. 12 of them. 

Okay, a little bit harder, but still not a stretch. 

"Hmm, do you want to try the third level?" he asked. 


Opposing arms and legs go down. Do it slowly and hold at the bottom. That was the instructions. 

I did as requested. 12 times over. 

"And how hard was that on a scale from 1-10," he asked

About a six or seven. 

"There is nothing wrong with your core strength."

"No shit, Sherlock. My best plank time was eight minutes. "

"Okay. You're doing well."

"How old do you think I am?" I asked. 

"I dunno. 42."

"I'll take that."

I told him my actual age. I warned him that I swear and talk politics during training. I told him I'm old and I don't jump or do burpees. But if I don't like something I'll ask for something else. 

Jay will have to check him out, see if she likes him. 

The fact that he listens may mean we've found a good one. 

Today's song: 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Movie Review: Shazam! Fury of the Gods

 Movie number 15 of 2023

The Movie: Shazam! Fury of the Gods

The Cinema: Hoyts Victoria Gardens

Stars: 3.5

I needed some time away from my flat and this looked like a nice, light option. It ticked the boxes for something light and easy - a superhero movie. And there were few options other than horror on at the local cinema, so Shazam! It was. And I remember enjoying the first one. 

So,  what is Shazam! About? I remember the cartoon from when I was a kid. He's a teenager imbued with superpowers, but also has the ability to turn back into a kid. The first movie dealt with all this, where we see Billy Batson, a kid in the foster system take on board his family and his new situation. At the end of the last film, Billy shared  the superpowers with the rest of his foster family. 

In Shazam! Fury of the Gods, we learn a bit more about what's going on. The group are both loved and loathed by the city of Philadephia for their actions. There's a bit of a power play going in with Billy (Zachary Levi) and his step-brother Tommy (Adam Brody). Then all bets are off when three Gods - Lucy Liu, Helen Mirren and Rachel Zeigler, turn up to wreak havoc on the city, and it's up to this group of unlikely superheroes to save the world. 

Sound familiar? Of course it is. Hasn't this all been done before? It has.

Then why go see it? 

Well, it's fun, it's light and the effects are great. 

This lacks to polish of a Marvel superheroes movie, but it's got some good things going for it. Firstly, it's got a lovely heart. This film is as much about family as anything else. When you dig down, you're seeing a group of teenagers trying to work out where they fit in the world. 

Secondly, the effects are good. The unicorns, in particular, are great. And yes, there are unicorns. 

And that's about it. I remember the first Shazam! film being a bit slicker, but this benefits from having the whole family involved. Helen Mirrin and Lucy Liu make great baddies. Djimon Hounsou as the Wizard is always fun to watch too. 

Okay, it's not the greatest film, but it's fun, it's frothy and it can keep your attention for it's two hours, ten minutes if you choose to sit back and enjoy yourself and not over think it. This would be great to take your kids along to, just for the fun of it. 

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Sunday Stealing: One to Ten

 Let's get the Sunday Questions out of the way before I try and get Demon Copperhead finished for Tuesday's book group and do other things. 

Questions, as always, come from Bev at Sunday Stealing

One song that describes my life:


Two things I wish I had more of in my life:

Take your pick: 

Money and travel.

Oysters and Sex

Time and bum glue (would help get the novel back on track.)

You decide. 

Three ways I relax:

  • Exercising
  • Reading
  • Watching television/films/theatre

Four of my best accomplishments:

  • Surviving my childhood reasonably unscathed
  • Getting some of my short stories published
  • Gaining a Masters degree with a High Distinction average
  • Not being in debt

Five things I am looking forward too:

  • Going to Darwin next Sunday for work
  • Hopefully going to Paris in October
  • Finishing Demon Copperhead - this is both an achievement and a desire. I have about 250 pages to go and it needs to be read for book group on Tuesday. 
  • Finishing tidying my flat for the inspection on Thursday. I'll be much happier when that is all done. 
  • Falling in love again. We live in hope. 

Six things I am grateful for:

  • My friends
  • My health
  • That I am employable (and now have a job that takes me interstate once a month for the next eight months. 
  • My cat - he's awesome and a character
  • That the Labor government is in power, even if they do make the odd dodgy decision (Submarines, much)
  • That I'm well over halfway finished Demon Copperhead, and I am enjoying it. 

Seven facts about me:

  • I'm polite beyond expectation or necessity
  • I love to swear, but in very select circumstances
  • I can't drink red wine - it gives me insomnia and turns my stomach, and I miss it, but there is no point. 
  • It's suspected that I have mild ADHD - have to talk to my doctor about this.
  • I have no real idea what my natural hair colour is at the moment. 
  • I drive a red Mazda CX-3 named Derek. 
  • I love baby animals more than anything else in the world. 

Eight things I can see from where I am sitting:

  • The fish factory and the gym on the street outside the window. 
  • A packet of cat treats sitting on the windowsill
  • My backpack/work bag, which is unzipped and stuff is falling out of it. 
  • My knitting projects - a cable scarf and a blue beanie for an former workmate. 
  • My ironing pile. 
  • An unlit candle from the Richmond Candle Co - double wick in their glorious Montana scent
  • My television with the movie Pretty in Pink playing. 
  • The floorboards, which badly need a hoover (vacuum)

Nine words I would use to describe myself:

  • Kind
  • Resilient
  • Daft
  • Loving
  • Weird
  • Persevering
  • Daring
  • Cuddly
  • Smart

Ten little things that make me happy:

  • The smell of dogs paws in the morning. 
  • The turn of an extraordinary sentence. 
  • Live music
  • Pretty sunrises and sunsets
  • The balloons that regularly float over my place in the morning.
  • Smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels
  • Good coffee
  • Ice cream
  • Cuddles
  • Walking barefoot along the beach

Friday, March 17, 2023

Theatre Review: Bernhardt/Hamlet

 The Play: Bernhardt/Hamlet by Therese Rebeck

The Theatre: The Sumner Theatre, Southbank

The Company: Melbourne Theatre Company

Stars: 4

Until: 15 April

It's partly a play about Hamlet. Of course,I'm going to go to this. This, however, is so much more. 

This clip explains it well. 

The blurb on the MTC website reads as follows:

"Paris, 1899: legendary French actress Sarah Bernhardt is world-famous … and broke. To turn her fortunes around, she sets her sights on the only role worthy of the greatest actress of all time, horrifying traditionalists and delighting gossips along the way."

Bernhardt/Hamlet is more than this. It's a play, within a play, which also looks at how a play is staged, while giving some great insights into the great lady herself. As a theatre stalwart, I really liked this. It also plays nicely into the today's gender politics which are forever in the media. We see Bernhardt (Kate Mulvany) struggling with not only this gargantuan role, but life around her. She's barely hanging on to her lover Rostam (Charles Wu), the artist making the posters, Alphonse (Tim Walter) is lacking inspiration, and her ragtag group of players and being somewhat unruly. Oh, and her son Maurice (William McKenna) isn't behaving as he should either. 

Publicity shot of Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet

So, what do you get from this? A thought-provoking, funny look at the theatrical process and the life of a famous actress at the top of her game, who's next performance could well be a flow. 

This is Kate Mulvany's show. She's fantastic as the plucky, fickle Sarah, who you end up rooting for at the end.

I loved the interspersions of Shakespeare that permeated the performance. Constant's (Marco Chiappi) delivery of the Ghost's scene gave me goosebumps. Stunning stuff. 

The play is great. I loved the wordplay and pathos which playwright Therese Rebeck has instilled in this is wonderful. And Anne-Marie Sarks direction doesn't miss a beat. 

The costumes and scenery are also something to behold. The everchanging set was something to behold. 

In all, Berhardt/Hamlet provides another solid performance from the MTC. For this theatre loving nerd, this was a winner. And yes, it helps if you're up on your Shakespeare, but it's not essential. That the auditorium was only half full was a bit of a bummer - but it's early in the run. This is worth a look. 

Thursday, March 16, 2023


 Roger sits and waits. There's a bit of spittle on his face, but he remains alert, waiting. 

Roger wants attention. He knows he shouldn't. He tries to ignore the people around him who appear to want his attention. He continues to stare into the middle distance, but this is just a ploy to remain aloof. 

A woman walks up to him and asks him if he's alright. Of course, he's alright. He's waiting. He has to wait. The woman asks him if he needs anything, but Roger continues to ignore her. 

I walk up to the woman, asking if all is alright. Of course, it is. Even I can see that Roger is waiting. I extend my hand to Roger, but he ignores that too.

The woman has fewer scruples than me and places a hand on Roger's shoulder. He continues to stare into the middle distance, appearing a little agitated, but tries no to show it. 

Others approach Roger, looking at him in awe. All Roger wants is to remain alone. But it's not going to happen. It's 8 pm outside of Coles. People want their dinner. People will keep passing by, looking at Roger, wondering why he's there. 

More pass by, all of whom make a comment about this lonely figure, staring into space.

And then he sees what he's after, and his face lights up. And all is right with the world. 

Oh, did I mention that Roger is an old Golden Retriever waiting for his Dad?

Roger made a lot of friends tonight. He dished out slobbery kisses and rolled over for a belly rub before his dad came out with this bachelor's hand bad (roast chicken) and a packet of rolls. 

The entourage scattered, and Roger and his dad went walking down Church Street. And there is nothing happier than the sight of a Golden Retriever, out on an evening walk with his Dad, knowing he's going to be getting some chicken scraps later. He was positively skipping down the road. 

Today's song:

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Billy Bragg at the Forum

 Quick notes from tonight's Billy Bragg gig at The Forum. 

1) Middle aged people know how to queue. 

2) What is the collective noun for middle aged men? They were out in force here, with their dad bods and bald spots and glasses, shoving on a bad t-shirt, trying to look cool. They were probably the same guys who were at The Pixies concert. 

3) Hosier Lane is a great place to queue. 

4) Billy Bragg is an awesome human being. 

5) There is something to be said being in a room 2000 other rabid lefties. You don't find many conservatives at a Billy Bragg gig. 

6) I love when an artist plays your favourite song at a gig, See Today's song. He played it. I was very happy. 

7) Billy Bragg is a chatty bloke. Line of the night," I'm sixty-five-years-old. Give me a fucking break..."

8) There was a lot of talk about a lot of social issues. This was expected. It's great to hear from somebody so informed. It was also fantastic to hear how he's been going around joining picket lines. He say this song, which he penned for the Miner's Strike 40 years ago. (And if you haven't seen the film Pride (2014) hunt it out. It's on BritBox.)

9) After a night where domestic violence was discussed, I still walked home from the tram with my keys laced between my fingers. Force of habit. 

10) I want chocolate. This going out on a school night is hard. 

It was a great night. 

Today's song: 

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

New Pastures

 I'm buggered. 

Absolutely buggered. 

And it feels good. 

The atrium at the new office. 

In my backpack is a laptop, on which there is a sticker reading, "Property of the Northern Territory Government."

Never saw that ever happening in my lifetime. 

After my first day I can tell you the following: 

  • The people at the new job are lovely. 
  • There's going to be a lot to do. 
  • Having email on which you can email out of the company is a good thing. 
  • You can only do so much reading on your first day. 
  • It's strange working back in the Rialto Building. 
  • It's good working in an office where you don't have to dress up. 
  • And can work from home three days a week. 
  • And allegedly, the Darwin trips are good fun. 
But that is all for the moment, because I'm buggered, and I need to get some sleep because I'm off to the Billy Bragg concert tomorrow night. 

Monday, March 13, 2023

Movie Review: Aftersun

 Movie Number 14 of 2023

The Movie: Aftersun

The Cinema: Village Cinemas, The Rivoli, Camberwell

Stars: 4

Continuing with the Oscar nominated film viewings, Aftersun was the last on the list to be seen before tonight's Oscar's ceremony. Paul Mescal, known best of all for the series of Normal People, stars in this independent film, ostensibly about a father and daughter on holidays in the 90s. Mescal has been nominated for Best Actor. Is the nomination deserved? Yes. Will he win? No. 

It's not like anything I've seen in a while. It's wonderful. 

Aftersun is not your typical, linear movie. It is beautifully shot. There are sequences which come out of order, taking you from the modern day to the holiday on which Calum (Mescal) and his daughter, Sophie (Frankie Corio) take in the mid-nineties at cheap looking Turkish resort. From what is portrayed, Calum and his ex have a civil relationship.  Calum appears to be a bit of a battler. You don't find out much about him, Sophie is eleven. At the stage where you still idolise your father, but things are starting to change, and this will never happen again. Calum and Sophie hang out at the resort. Sophie begins to meet new people, while Calum sticks to himself. Intermittently, there are flashes to a nightclub scene, and Sophie and her partner in the future. 

Most of the movie you're wondering what they hell is about to happen. And really, nothing much does. But as the film's credits roll, you know that you've become completely enfolded in these people's lives. 

Frankie Corio is outstanding as Sophie, the tween who's both a kid, and in part, her father's carer. Expect big things from her. She is perfect in this role. 

And Paul Mescal deserves his Oscar nod as the barely coping Calum. Nothing is said during the film about this, he portrays a man barely hanging on with a grace and truth rarely witnessed. Everything he does is so understated. This is a masterclass in portraying depression realistically. He's fantastic. 

I've mentioned the cinematography, where the Turkish resort if Fethiye in the southwest of the country, a resort frequented by British holiday makers trying to find some sun. Everything about the place is relatable. You can smell the chips, beer and sunscreen. 

The direction is also flawless. Charlotte Wells, who also wrote the script, as done amazing things with her debut film. She too will be one to watch. 

The soundtrack is also brilliant, filled with 90's bangers which had me smiling and feeling terribly nostalgic at the same time. On the soundtrack was one of my favourite 90's songs. See below. 

This is not going to be everybody's cup of tea. It's not a film everybody will enjoy. But the more I think about it, the more I loved it. As father and daughter films go, this is up there with the best.

Today's song: 

Sunday, March 12, 2023

How to Build a Website

 I probably should have said no, but I didn't. Could I go to a meeting in place of Alice. Alice had something else on. Oh, and it was for the Freemasons. 

It's an hour of my life. it's not that much of an imposition. 

And the people in the meeting were nice enough, but as with any committees, getting anything done seems a bit hard. Lots of stuff were being kicked into the long grass. This is a project term for the too hard basket. 

Then there was an agenda point about member retention. And with member retention comes actually getting members to join. And considering the Federation website is a) hard to find, 2) looks like it was built in 2005 and 3) filled with redundant information and 4) is confusing, it's not a good look. The fact that the website is stupidly hard to find is not good. If you type Freemasonry and Women into a browser you have to go through pages to find us. The Church of Satan is found before us. This is what needs tro be updated

We want new people to join. We want new people to stay. And yes, we fundamentally have to change a lot of things, modernise the order, but we need people to do it. 

So, I kicked up a bit of a ruckus, and said I'd project manage the rework - and that I'd work with the chiefs to get this done, I'll work with a web designer, the text editor... get the copy right - and signed off. And yeah, run the whole this like a project, because it's what I do for a living. I hate to say it, but I reckon I could cobble something together quite easily on SquareSpace or Wix. But we have a reasonable budget to do this, as there are some backend things which need sorting - as well as registering a new domain name... and .... and...and. The and  things I can spec out fairly easily. 

I'm also thinking I should get paid for the work on this. It probably won't happen, but it would be good to be recognised for the work - especially if they want something professional. 

I really should learn to keep my hands in my pockets. But then again, it's something I do believe in. 

Today's song:

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Sunday Stealing: Penpals Part II

 Doing the Sunday Questions on a Saturday, as it's a long weekend and there are things to do. 

Questions, as always, were provided by Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. Do you make new friends easily?

Not really. I make work buddies and acquaintances easily, but friends are another matter. That takes time. Mind you, the girls I go on retreat with are rapidly becoming friends, and that is a very good thing. 

2..Which podcasts do you like at the moment?

I'm more an audiobook person. I do like Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History podcast and My Dad Wrote A Porno was great. 

3. One thing that immediately makes your day better

My cat. 

4. What app do you use most?

Probably a mix of Facebook, Instagram and the Bureau of Meteorology app. They all get a daily bashing. 

5. The friends who would have your back no matter what

I like to think most of them would have my back. I'd have theirs. 

6. What is something you’ll never do again?

Ecstacy and speed. I've only done the harder forms of drugs on a few occasions over 20 years ago. It's not something I'd do again. 

7. Something you practice often

Writing. And I do daily French lessons. I like to think I'm getting better at both. 

8. What gives you an adrenaline rush?

Strangely, running used to give me a bit of a rush. Public speaking gives me a bit of a high too. 

9. How well do you do in social situations?

Okay. I'm not great in big groups, better in smaller ones, and if I'm not in the mood I bail. I can be sociable when I have to be. 

10. Are you a light sleeper or a deep sleeper?

I'm somewhere in the middle. Though not an overly light sleeper, I'm not out for the count either. I do sleep well when I sleep. 

11. Do you get stage fright?

Yes, doesn't everybody. But I get over it quickly. 

12. Which family members are you closest to?

This is a hard one as I don't come from a particularly close family. I get on with pretty much all of my family but I'm struggling to say who I'm closest to. That's me being diplomatic.

13. How was your February?

Not bad. I scored a new job, that counts for something.

14. What is your favorite candle scent?

In front of me is a candle from the Richmond Candle Co. It's a scent called Montana - vetiver, leather, blood plum, oak moss and rosewood. It's deep and earthy and absolutely wonderful. I hope Simon and Johan, the guys who run the business, bring the scent back. 

15. One book that you would recommend as a "must read'?

For books that have come out in the last year, that would be Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. 

For books that have come out in the last ten years, then that would be The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan. 

For more classic books, the Slaugherhouse Five and Jane Eyre would top my list. 

Today's song: 

Friday, March 10, 2023

Movie Review: Living

 Movie Number 13 of 2023

The Movie: Living

The Cinema: Village Cinemas Rivoli, Camberwell

Stars: 4

I was going to like this film. Of course, I was. It's English. The screenplay was written by Kazuo Ishiguro, one of my most favourite writers. And it's set in the years after World War II. And it stars Bill Nighy, who is up for an Oscar for this film. 

Of course, I was going to like it. 

And it's a film in which nothing blows up, there's no profanities, no nudity or violence. Who knew?

It's just beautiful. 

 Rodney Williams (Bill Nighy) is a senior clerk for the London City Council in the public works department. He rules the roost in a manner so sedate, you wonder if he isn't half dead already. His team are afraid of him as much as they find him and enigma. In some ways, he gives off the vibes of Bartleby the Scrivener. (Those in the know, know - needless to say, you half expect him to say, "I would prefer not to...').

Mr. Williams, a widow, lives at home with his adult son and his narky wife who I wanted to clobber. 

Also, early in the film, Mr. Williams is told he doesn't have long to live. So, he decides to get on with the gentle art of living. 

This is a very subtle film, beautifully so. We watch as Mr. Williams tries to find some joy in his life. He takes under his wing one of his colleagues, Miss Harris (Aimee Lou Harris, and yes, you can really drive a bus between the gap in her teeth). She starts to prod him out of his shell. It is only after his death you get to see the good he did, in a very small way, for the community and those around him. 

The film is also a stinging indictment on petty bureaucrats, and what people can do if they get out of people's way. 

This is up for two Oscars. Bill Nighy rightly deserves the nomination for Best Actor. He won't get the gong, but this is a beautiful, subtle, yet powerful performance which is very warranted. The other nomination is one for Best Adapted Screenplay, with Kazuo Ishiguro penning the work from Kurasawa's Film. 

The photography and cinematography are also wonderful, showing a depressed London in the early 1950s. There's a great mix of old graphics seamlessly mixing with the new. It captures the times perfectly. 

Oliver Hermanus's direction is also spot on. 

But this is Bill Nighy's movie. He's wonderful in this. Hunt it out if you are looking for something gentle - it's playing at the local art house cinemas. 

Oh, and if you do go see it, take tissues. 

Today's song: 

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Series Review: Daisy Jones and the Six

The Series: Daisy Jones and the Six

Viewing Platform: Prime Video

Stars: 4

I've become ambivalent about Taylor Jenkins Reid, the wunderkind writer who now has around eight books out in publican. American, light, a bit fluffy and with a historical bent, she's very good at writing up market chick lit. Of her books, Daisy Jones and the Six is my absolute favourite. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is good. The rest I can leave. 

There isn't much of a plot to this, other than it's the story of a band, formed in the 70's, who rose to the highest of highs, only to disband when they were at their biggest and best. The story is told from the perspectives of the band members and their entourage. There's the enigmatic lead singer, Billy Dunne, his wife, Camila, his brother, Graham, the keyboardist, known as Karen Karen, and of course, Daisy Jones, the ethereal singer who joins the group, The Six (even though there are five of them). 

This is the story of where they all came from, and what went on. 

I adored the audiobook of this. A full cast really brought it to light. 

And now it's been made into a limited series thanks to Reece Witherspoon's production company. 

There's lots to love about this series. The casting is perfection. Sam Claflin, who is great playing loveable arses, embodies Billy to the max. Riley Keogh, Elvis's grand daughter, is half waif, half grit as Daisy. Suki Waterhouse gives of great Judy Greer vibes as Karen. And the rest of the cast are just perfect. 

The music is also great. Channelling Fleetwood Mac (which I believe the book is loosely based on) it's great. The seventies is often overlooked when it comes to music, which is a pity. 

The series also has the seventies just right, just as I remember them as a child, complete with flower children, crappy cars, bad clothes and haircuts and a laissez-faire attitude to everything. Like Licorice Pizza and Almost Famous, it gives off just the right amount of seventies vibes. 

The other thing I am loving about this, is that as a limited series, Prime is only releasing one episode a week. We're on week three. You can't binge this.

But like fine wine, this is a series to be sipped and savoured. 

I'm loving it. 

And you don't need to read the book, but the it is great. 

Today's song: 

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Cookie Man Cookies

Cookie Man cookies, or what are now Mrs Field's Cookies, remind me of my grandfather. 

I spent a lot of time with my grandparents growing up as a young child. Mum's parents lived in a neighbouring suburb, in the ubiquitously named Sunshine Avenue, Warradale, which remains a few hundred metres from Marion Shopping Centre on land that used to be army barracks during World War II.. 

My grandparents were creatures of habit. While I was over at their place we'd go shopping, taking Hazel, my grandfather's treasured Volkswagen Bug. I would get into the back seat and sit in what is the boot over the rear engine. This, being the early seventies, Volkswagen was only starting to make a presence in the market after World War II. The vinyl and engine smells have never left me. The car was gifted to my aunt, then my cousin after Grandpa died. I had a ride in her before she was too old and decrepit to pass the Canberra registration tests. She still smelled the same. 

At the time, Marion Shopping Centre was about a third the size it is now. John Martins down one end, Myer down the other, and a large number of food shops to the side. We would pick up their groceries for the week. As I said, they were creatures of habit. 

Then we made the special stops.

The first one was Charlesworth Nuts. Anybody who has walked down Rundle Mall from King William Street will know the scent of roasting nuts as they pass what used to be the Darrell Lea chocolate shop. Charlesworth is still at Marion, the scent of roasting nuts still permeates that part of the shopping centre. 

The second delicious smell came from The Cookie Man. Grandpa would buy a small bag of biscuits - mainly Harlequins - a butter biscuit with a colourful jube in the centre. And some Californians, with and almond on top, and maybe some Jewels, that had a Chocolate Freckle in the centre. 

Cookie Man cookies seems to come out at odd times and places. They were front and centre at a beloved aunt's wake. Their presence was strangely comforting. 

And today, after spending a final full day in the office, as I walked through the shopping centre near the office, there were Cookie Man cookies, taken over by the Mrs Fields franchise. And all of a sudden I was four-years-old again, sitting in the boot of my grandfather's old V-dub beetle named Hazel, which smelled of old vinyl and dust. There were no seatbelts or car seats back then. 

I bought a couple of Harlequins for the trip home. 

They're still wonderful.

Today's song: 

Tuesday, March 7, 2023


 My inbox contains two special emails. 

There are my flight details for my business trip to Darwin in three weeks, and another with my accommodation details. I'm staying in a hotel next to the Darwin office. I've been given a one bedroom apartment which looks over the city. There are laundry facilities in the room. And a gym and pool on the premises. 

I'm spending the better part of a week in Darwin at the end of the month.

I haven't been there for 20 years. The last time I was there my friend Mariah's son was about a year old. He's now 22. Hmmm. I remember loving it up there. Everybody who's stayed longer than a few days reckons it's wonderful. 

I'm looking at this contract as a reset. A week a month in the top end until October. I'm looking forward to getting out of the Melbourne winter for a bit. I'm looking forward to new challenges and people (who, from the interview, all seem lovely). I'm looking forward to swimming daily in the warm over winter.

I'm looking forward to the change. 

In the meantime, in my current role, I'm preparing everything for hand over. And finishing my stuff off, writing a big document telling people where things are and I'll be handing back everything on Friday. 


Also, I'm madly finishing a beanie for my colleague, who I will see tomorrow. \

It's all happening. 

Back to knitting. Only a few rows to go. 

Today's song:

Monday, March 6, 2023

Why I like going to these writer's retreats

Twice a year, March and June, I take myself off down the Great Ocean Road to a writer's retreat, hosted by Catherine Deveny at the marvellous Seacroft Estate

Dev is the most honest, generous, straight-talking, fun, encouraging person I have ever had the privilege of meeting. Part mentor, part arse-kicker (spending time with her is known as Vitamin Dev - or having a Dev enema) I'm honoured to call her a friend. And she hosts a bloody good retreat. And she knows that when she hands out the chocolate bribes, at least a couple of the Turkish Delights come my way. (And yes, I am that person.) She helps people to get out from their preconceived shells. 

There is more to the retreat than just writing. This time around I managed to cobble together a reasonable first draft of an article. 3000 words. Memoir style. With a publication in mind. There's a lot of work to do on it, but I got it done. For the most part, I sat and wrote this article rather than participate in the writing block prompts, but I got a few notes down for later reference.

Getting to hang around with 30 odd people with the same interests is a great thing. We're all writing something. There's the complete novices who want to give writing a go. There are people working on their novels, there's a couple of journalists and published writers who come along. It's wonderful to talk with people who have an understanding of the process. Writing can be an insular activity - these retreats make it less so. 

Then there's the people - who are just awesome. In the five or six of these that I've been to there's barely been a bung one. There's a growing group of repeat offenders who come at certain times. There's the posse that come in March - brilliant people, who are becoming firm friends. June has a different crowd - some of the same people, and a lot of others who are just as wonderful. Most of us are professionals, in our middle aged, many have children, most lean to the political left. It's like I've found my tribe. This is a huge part of it all. 

Also, these are people who I feel comfortable singing in the shower in front of. I think I was sprung on Sunday morning. I take a room in the chapel - an old confessional, refurbished with a very comfortable single bed and nightstand. The great thing about the chapel rooms is that the bathroom is inside. All other rooms have showers and toilets in an outside block - which are freezing in winter. After The Bathing of the Lunatics on Sunday morning I finally made it to the shower just as the writing block was starting. I sing in the shower. I should apologise for my half-hearted rendition of Three Dog Night's Joy to the World. It really is a great shower song. 

Oh yes, The Bathing of the Lunatics. This happens first thing on Sunday morning. We gather, come rain or come shine at 7.15 a.m. We walk down to the beach. We get to the secluded swimming section. We strip off - most of us buck naked and throw ourselves into the Southern Ocean. In March, it's quite warm. In the middle of winter, it's freezing. It's enriching and cathartic. One of our number, a doctor, put it well. "Where else to you see a mob of naked, middle-aged women going into the ocean without a care in the world. It's beautiful. There should be more of it. "

One of the moments of the retreat happened at the beach on Sunday Morning. One of the crew quit her job on the way down to Seacroft, fed up with the conservative approach of the company. A repeat offender, she had never done the ritual bathing. She stripped off her clothes and ran screaming into the water, "FUCK THE LNP!" It was a joy to behold. She came back five minutes later, cleansed. I look forward to hearing about the next episode in her story. She'll be back next March. It's an honour to hang out with her. 

Then there is the food. Our caterer, Ash, from Taylor Made Events serves us up hearty, tasty, sometimes downright decadent food. His poke bowls are amazing. We have the best roast potatoes with grilled salmon on the Saturday night. I love that I'm saved the crunchy bits from the cauliflower cheese (the only way I eat cauliflower) We are looked after royally. The staff, mostly Dev's family members, are just wonderful to us all. I come out of this feeling spoiled. 

I mean, why would I not treat myself to this twice a year? 

It's brilliant. 

I'm blessed to be able to do this. 

Today's song: 

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Sunday Stealing: Penpals, Part 1

 Do I really have to drive back to Melbourne? I like it down here. It's fabulous. The Gunnas Retreat at the Seacroft Estate has been delightful, as always, I've had a ball.

Anyway, on with weekly questions, supplied, as always, by Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. What are your plans for March?

Well, I'm starting a new job in ten days. That's something. And my first trip to Darwin, with work, is happening on the last week of the month. There's also a theatre tickets, some movies to be seen and a couple of Comedy Festival performances. 

2. Did you ever have or go to sleepovers as a kid?

No, not that I remember. 

3. Which books would you pick for a book binge?

Oh, you can give me the back catalogue of Louis de Bernieres' novels any day. He's awesome. 

4. What features do you love most about your home?

Here are a few things I love about my flat:

  • It's close to public transport.
  • It now has wooden floor boards and they are easy to keep clean. 
  • I love that it's up two flights of stairs and the carport is below. 
  • I love that it has instant hot water. 
  • I love that it's got a locable screen door at the front.
My flat is nothing special, but it is mine. 

5. Favorite songs from tv, movies, and video games

Anything on my Harvey Spector playlist. You have to hand it to Suits. The music was fabulous. 

Have a listen to this

6. What group games do you like to play with others

I'm not one for playing games. I don't mind Cards Against Humanity and Trivial Pursuit, but I don't play them often. I'm a gun at pub quizzes. 

7. How often do you try something new?

Far too often. Mind you, at this retreat, I came home with a few new pieces of secondhand clothes. 

8. What type of sushi is your favorite?

I love most sushi. Katsu prawn sushi is great, in fact, any type of seafood that isn't cooked tuna is wonderful. I love the seafood salads the sushi shop does too. 

9. Do you prefer to relax or go on adventures during vacation?

A bit of both. I'm not an adventurous person, in that I don't ski or walk, but let me snaffle around an old city and I'm in heaven. 

10. How do you prevent burn out?

Take a lot of breaks and say no when required. I got burnout from my last job, so I'm very mindful not to let myself get too burnt out. Coming back from burnout is awful, and hard. 

11. Which colors look best on you?

Bright colours. Bold red, blue and green look great on me. 

12. Do you like brunch?

Of course - it's a bit of a tradition here in Australia weekend brunch. Some version of Eggs Benedict always goes down well. 

13. Trends you showed up late for

I'm normally an early adopter, but there are some techno bands I'm just getting into now who are great. O\I'm also a bit of a post-punk even though I'm in my fifties. Ah well. 

14. What’s your favorite drink order?

Gin and tonic. My standard coffee order is an almond decaf latte. If I'm drinking non-alcoholic beverages, I love a good ginger ale or real lemon lemonade. 

15. Which clothes or accessories make you feel most confident?

Motorcycle boots. Actually, any heavy boots. I wear bovver boots to work when I need to get shit done. 

Today's song: