Friday, June 30, 2023

Theatre Review: Is God Is

 The Production: Is God Is by Aleshea Harris

The Company: Melbourne Theatre Company

The Theatre: The Southbank Theatre

Stars: 4

Until 15 July. 

And now for something completely different. 

We went into Is God Is, a play by Aleshea Harris completely blind, which sometimes is a good way to go. There were trigger warnings all over the walls. The play contains references to domestic violence, suicide, violence and medical procedures. Fun. 

As we'd had a delightful meal at Miss Pearl, the restaurant in the foyer, beforehand, so anything on top of this was just a bit extra. You feed me duck fat roast potatoes, you can put any play in front of me and I'll be happy. 

Is God Is. Extra it was. 

I love walking into a theatre where you're presented with a box on the stage. Something's going to happen with that box. You just know it. 

And walking out of the theatre and hour and a half later, a part of me was wondering what the hell I had just seen, the other half was completely enthralled by the production. 

It's dark. It's funny. And it's pretty brutal. All elements which mean I'll generally love a play. 

So what's this about? 

The tagline on the MTC website reads, "How far would you go for revenge?"

In this play, the protagonists go a LONG way.

Racine (Masego Pitso) and Anaia (Henrietta Enyonam Amevor) are twins. They have been badly scarred in a fire when they were young and brought up in the foster system. A letter from their birth mother sends them to find her, where they are then sent on a mission to exact revenge for the act which left all three women badly damaged. 

For the plot, I won't say much more. It's all you need to know. 

I was enthralled from the first minute to the last. This production pulls no punches. It's hard hitting, and visceral in places. 

For me, the stagecraft, the set and the costumes were the as good as the acting. The cast of Australian/African/American actors are fantastic, the American accents were on point and everything worked together seamlessly. This play is very physical in it's action and the actors were more than up to the task. 

Zindzi Okenyo and Shari Sebbens' direction is also on point. There are no gaps in the drama and the dark humour flows with the serious nature of the play.

I loved the costumes which portrayed the girls physical scars to an advantage. It was genius in many ways. 

The set is great. Simple, but extremely effective. The big square box had a number of jobs to do, and it did those tasks with aplomb. 

That we got to see a Melbourne Theatre Company performance without the same lot of actors used for the last twenty years - even better. 

I'm recommending this. It won't be everybody's cup of tea, yet a couple of hours after the performance, I'm still thinking about it. 

It's on point and it's something different. Definitely worth a look. 

(Find The Guardian's review of the play here - they go into a lot more detail about the the whole deal -it says what I want to say in a better way.). 

Today's song: 

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Booking Hotels

 My dilemma. 

Where to stay in London on my first night in London? On a budget. That suits my needs. A hotel that is safe and hopefully won't give me bed bugs. 

For the few days after than I'm probably going to be staying with friends just out of London, and I leave for Paris four days later. 

I look at when and where I'm getting into this city which I used to know like the back of my hand. 

I get in on a Friday night, landing at Stanstead around 7 pm. I'm hoping to meet a friend on the Saturday for brunch/lunch which means I need to stay in town. 

Also, I'll be getting the train in from Stanstead to Liverpool Street. I need to get to my hotel pretty quickly. 

So, here I am looking at these hotels which are within my budget. I'm looking at the locations. I'm looking at the tube lines on which these are on - which stations connect directly to Liverpool Street Station - which hotels are nearest the line which don't go too far underground (so avoid the Central, Northern and Piccadilly Lines)

Then do I go cheap, cheap, or spend a hundred dollars more and get something half reasonable?

Do I look for a room in a group of chain hotels or go for something a little more intimate.

And it's only for one night. 

And I'm not sharing a bathroom.

But I may as well be comfortable. 

I'm pretty good at sourcing hotels. With the travel I do for work, I'm managed to get some points up on one of the rewards schemes. 

But the big thing for me is getting there quicky and easily from Liverpool Street Station, with limited stairs and escalators, after a 21-hour journey. 

The thing that is getting to me the most is that I still have an intimate knowledge of the London Underground after more than 20 years away. I know where you get the District/Circle Lines at Liverpool Street - I spend nearly five years getting off there. I wonder if the pubs are still around. 

I wonder it that strange and wonderful city will still feel like home. 

Today's song:

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

The All Clear

The last two weeks haven’t been comfortable on an existential level, and it’s all thanks to my boobs. I got the call from the Breast Clinic to come in for further screening and a little bit of my world dropped away. And yes, the odds were that everything was fine, and the medical profession were only being hyper-vigilant, but then again, that won’t stop the angst of not knowing roaming around your head. 

A woman’s relationship with her breasts is an intricate, often difficult one. 

Mine sprang out of my chest when I was about thirteen. It felt like they came from nowhere. I’ve been wearing underwired bras from not long after that. I like to bind them in with minimiser bras, keeping the bounce and the overspill at bay. They’re a bit of a nuisance at times, getting in the way when you’re running, or wanting to slide into narrow spaces. They’re where food gets caught and where kittens like to sit. Spare change and train tickets are often slipped into my bra – aptly named my ‘special pocket’. I have a favourite memory of babysitting a friend’s six-month-old son. He was sitting on my stomach, when he looked over, reached down and fondled my breasts. “Nope, mate – no food there.” He then proceeded to swan dive into my cleavage and make some satisfied noises. 

Men - all alike from birth. 

Various partners have commented that you could get lost in there for a week if you wanted. I’ve always tended to hide mine away. Owning a double-D cup set means you’re open to stares and comments, often unwanted, and unnecessary. Men are silly creatures.  After all, they’re just boobs.  

They’re a part of my physical identity. I describe myself as broad shouldered and long legged, with big tits. If I was slimmer, I might have Jessica Rabbit’s figure, if Jessica Rabbit was built a bit more like a fridge. 

So, telling me to come back for some more screening sent me into a bit of a panic. Of course, I knew the numbers were in my favour. About one in ten women will be called back for more screening. Well over 90% of women called back are clear of cancer. Or if there was something there, it can be quickly investigated and dealt with. The Breast Clinic err on the side of caution. 

Regardless, the irrational side of my head was going to all sorts of places. If I needed a mastectomy, they should take both – I couldn’t handle being lop-sided. Or I might lose my hair. And who would pick me up from the hospital?  I’ve spent the last two weeks quelling these thoughts, buoyed by the knowledge that I was probably fine. But still, in these two weeks, I stopped planning my holiday abroad – wanting to wait for a decisive answer before setting any more plans in motion. Why shell out money if I’m not going to be able to go abroad?

Friends who’ve received call-backs were supportive. Of those who’ve faced breast cancer, they also repeated that the numbers were definitely on my side. Get it early and all is well.

I had the call-back appointment this morning. 

St Vincent’s Hospital Breast Clinic is as utilitarian as it gets, all beige and plastic prefabricated chairs encased within a Victorian Era bulding. The woman behind the desk was friendly and kind. There was no wait to see the nurse, another friendly, kind, middled-aged woman. 

They told me what to expect. They’d found a small spot on my right breast on the initial mammogram. Today, they’d be doing another mammogram with a higher resolution machine. After that, I’d see the specialist radiographer and more than likely have an ultrasound. Depending on the results of these tests, a needle biopsy may be required, and that would be done today too if required. 

The normal questions were asked. Could I feel any lumps? No. Any changes in my breasts? No. Any strange feelings in my breasts? No. Any changes to medication? No. Was I on HRT? Yes, and don’t even think about taking that away from me. 

I signed the consents and was taken to a change room, where I was supplied with a bathrobe and a basket in which I could put my things. 

“Do you have a big bathrobe?” I asked.

“Sorry, they’re all the same size. We’ve been asking for bigger ones for years. If it doesn’t fit, put your top back on.”

Needless to say, the bathrobe didn’t fit over my shoulders. My bra went into the basket with the bathrobe and my calico shopper. I put my top back on. 

A few minutes later, I was called in for the mammogram. The radiographer was again, professional and kind. After warning her that I’m really ticklish and that I’m better if you tell me where you’re going to touch before you touch me, she explained everything in detail. It was a much better experience than the last mammogram which left me discombobulated and out for blood. 

These images would be checked the Radiography doctor. 

A bit more waiting and I was called into another room. The radiographer and a surgeon this time. 

Turns out the surgeon was in training and there to observe. Nearly shit myself over that one initially. 

Thankfully, on looking at the second set of films, there was nothing to investigate. The white spot was more than likely a fold in the breast tissue due to the way the last mammogram was done. They did an ultrasound to be doubly sure and nothing was found. 

I got the all clear within minutes. And instantly felt about 20 kilograms lighter. 

I was in and out in an hour. I put my bra back on, along with my top and hoodie. I said goodbye to the lady at the desk, giving her a big grin. She told me that she’d keep fighting to get some larger bath robes. If I’m honest, I was just as happy in my own top which hadn’t been through the hospital laundry on a daily basis for many years. I walked out into the bleak Melbourne morning, intent on finding a coffee. 

I’m grateful to live in a country where they actively breast screen on the public purse. I’m grateful for the care and attention this service provides. And I’m thankful that I don’t have to go and see them again for two years. 

Best of all, I'm glad I'm clear of breast cancer. 

We really live in a lucky country. 

And now I’ll resume planning my trip to the U.K. and France in October. 

Today's song:

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Movie Review: No Hard Feelings

 Movie Number 24 of 2023

The Movie: No Hard Feelings

The Cinema: Hoyts Victoria Gardens

Stars: 3

File under "Meh" and "Not as Bad as I thought it was going to be. "

This film has come out just before all the really good blockbusters. Indiana Jones, Mission Impossible Part who cares, the new Wes Anderson are all due out soon. 

And then we have this 'comedy', No Hard Feelings, a vehicle for a post-maternity Jennifer Lawrence, with a light on story and that's about it. 

What's it about? Cassie (Jennifer Lawrence) is a bit hard up. A Montauk native, she's lived in the same house all her life, but is currently struggling to pay her land tax thanks to the car she uses to Uber drive being repossessed. Her way to getting her house, and her life back, is to do a bit of moonlighting. She's employed by The Beckers (Matthew Broderick and Laura Bernardi), the ultimate rich, priviledged helicopter parents, to help "socialise" their 19-year-old son, Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman) and treat him to the ways of the world. 

Percy is an introverted nerd. His folks basically don't want him to turn up to college a virgin.

Cassie is offered a car to get this job done. 

So basically, she's been hired out to deflower the poor kid. 

But thankfully, Cassie is somebody with a brain and a heart. The two become friends in a gentle younger kid, older woman sort of way. 

So yes, it's silly and a bit raunchy, but it's very safe. It could have gone so much further. Also, Lawrence's likeability goes a long way to saving this, as done Matthew Broderick's dorkiness - I quite liked this. 

This is a movie you don't have to engage your brain to enjoy. The bogans sitting behind us thought it was hysterical. 

One of the things I liked was how it shows the struggles of the townies who live in these costal tourist towns and how they manage through the off-seasons. This rang really true. There are also some really good physical comedy during the movie - some of it surprising.

The rest was just meh. 

There's a bit of full-frontal nudity, which is probably what gave this the rating of MA15+.

Other than this, there's not much to say. I didn't hate it. I didn't love it. It was good not to have to fully engage to enjoy it as it was. 

This isn't my normal sort of film and it's good to know I didn't walk out hating it. 

Today's song:

Monday, June 26, 2023

Theatre Review: The Crucible

 The Play: Arthur Miller's The Crucible

The Company: The Australian Shakespeare Company

The Theatre: Upstairs at the Athenaeum

Stars: 2

Closed: 25 June

I like The Crucible as a play. It's a standard, like Macbeth. You go along what they are going to do with it. Wonder what the staging is going to be like, enjoy the tension that starts to build as John and Lizzie Proctor try to get out of their witchy pickle in Salem in the 1690s. 

My friend Kit suggested going along to the Australian Shakespeare Company's rendition of this classic play, upstairs at the Athenaeum. 

For those not in Melbourne, The Athenaeum is an old theatre on Collins Street. Along with the Comedy Theatre on Exhibition Street, it's not really been renovated. It's a beloved space. I didn't know there was a theatre space upstairs. Discovering this space was the only saving grace for this performance. 

The evening didn't start out that well. The theatre is also home to The Rocky Horror Picture Show which was starting a bit later. The foyer was full, the ticketing system archaic, there were people everywhere. It didn't bode well. 

We found our seats. 

And yeah. What can I say?

Maybe it was a last night thing, as this was the closing night. 

It was appalling. 

Looking back, I'm not surprised there were no reviews online. 

I'm all for stripped back performances, but yeah... nah. This was akin to a bad high school performance. I'd say that you're probably going to see a better performance from the Year 12s at Frankston High. 

And this is a professional company. The Australian Shakespeare Company are the crew who does Shakespeare in the Park each year. They're great in the park. Mind you, you forgive a lot when you're seeing Shakespeare under the stars, sitting on the ground with a picnic and a glass of wine. 

In a theatre, you're trapped. You can't quietly run out and find your car located on the Tan track if you don't like what you're seeing. 

And yes, this is not the Melbourne Theatre Company, but still. We paid $45 each for the tickets. 

My two main beefs - every actor had an appropriation of some English accent. There were a couple of Irish accents, one part Scot, a Yorkshireman and a Geordie on recollection. There were probably more accents. Not a good start. This jarred on me no end. If the actors had kept their own native Australian accents, it might have worked a little better. 

The costumes were all over the place. They looked like most of the characters had raided the dress up box. Yes, this is a small company, but this was beyond the pale. Why some characters were dressed out of the 1800s, while others looked like they were out of the 1920s made no sense. 

And the acting was patchy. The guy playing John Proctor was passable - but that was about it. Being on a small stage, with a number of people on the stage, when there were group scenes, those not speaking took up too much energy, taking away from the action (and the bad accents). A lot of them seemed to break character regularly as they were standing around. I spent more time watched those who were supposed to be doing nothing, missing out on the action. 

"Is it me, or is this bad?" I asked Kit, during a scene change. 

"It's bad."

It was so bad that we left at the interval, not bothering with the last two acts. 

This was disappointing - but being closing night, at least you don't have the opportunity to see it. 

Today's song: 

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Sunday Stealing: The Usual Questions

 It's Sunday. I'm off to a performance of The Crucible in a bit. There's a pot of pumpkin soup cooking on the stove. The cat is sitting next to me wanting treats. Let's get these questions out of the way. 

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

1. Would you rather ride a bike, ride a horse, or drive a car?

I'd rather drive a car. You can't fall off of a car, and as much as I love horses to talk to, they're a bit unpredctable. Besides, I love to drive. 

2. Who is your favorite author?

Oh, that's a toss up between Louis de Bernieres and Maggie O'Farrell. Both are incredible, detailed and draw great characters. 

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

Probably Alaska. Fewer tourists, not as hot. 

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

I'm really interested in Britain from about 1915 through to 1945. There's something about the zeitgeist of this time. Drop me in there, but keep me away from the bombs. 

5.  What's your favorite zoo animal?

I love all animals, but when I go to Melbourne Zoo, I always spend a lot of time in the seal house. They've very entertaining. 

6.  What's the tallest building you've been to the top of? 

I made it to the top of the Empire State Building in 1999. I never made it to the top of the Twin Towers on that trip unfortunately. I've also been up the Eureka Tower in Melbourne, which at 88 storey's high was the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere at the time. It's since been eclipsed by a similarly sized tower that's a bit taller. There's also one slightly taller in the Gold Coast now, but we don't talk about Queensland...

7. How often do you buy clothes?

Every couple of months. I get a lot of clothes secondhand off of Facebook Marketplace. I've got a brand I like and there are some really good groups there that onsell clothes. 

8. What was the last thing you recorded on TV?

I have no idea. I watch most of my television via streaming. I can't remember the last time I used my DVD recorder - though I still have one plugged in. 

9.  What was the last book you read?

I finished Kate Atkinson's Shrines of Gaiety in the car on the way to Blarney's today. Great book. Last week I finished Maggie O'Farrell's The Marriage Portrait. Also fabulous. 

10. What's your favorite type of foreign food?

I will try almost anything, but Spanish, Vietnamese and French foods are firm favourites. 

11. What kitchen appliance do you use every day?

That would be my little Italian stove top coffee maker. Cheaper than a big coffee machine and far more reliable. 

12. How old were you when you learned Santa wasn't real? How did you find out?

I was five-years-old. The neighbours down the road, who were Jehovah's Witnesses told me. They didn't celebrate Christmas and couldn't see why we should have all the fun. 

13.  What was your favorite subject in school?

English and French. But I also liked Maths and Chemistry. I was a bit weird like that. 

14. What's the most unusual thing you've ever eaten?

Choose one of the following: 

  • Pickled herring (Swedish flatmates in London)
  • Swedish "sweets" (They're salty - also courtesy of the Swedish flatmates)
  • Durian (In Malaysia)
  • Various things in a Malaysian Hawkers Market - tasted good but no idea what it was.
  • I'm partial to a kangaroo steak - but this is not unusual in Australia
  • Turtle chips - but these aren't made of turtles. 
  • I'm very fond of Steak Tartare (Raw steak). 
  • Philly Cheesesteak. It's odd stuff that. 
  • And I really like Australian botanicals which you can only get here. Things like finger limes, lemon myrtle and Davison plums. 

15. What's your favorite family recipe?

My grandmother's yoyo biscuit recipe. It makes the best yoyos/melting moment biscuits. 

Today's song: 

Saturday, June 24, 2023

The Gig

This is going down in the "File Under: Too Old For This, But Shit It Was Good."

What can I say.

I love live music. 

I love small venues.

I enjoy Irish music, particularly in intimate settings. 

I know that standing in one spot in heeled shoes that don't have arch support will cause some issues the next day. 

Aine Tyrrell's Irish as Fuck gig at the Wesley Anne last night was phenomenal.

"Aine Tyrrell?", you ask. I'd never heard of her either. A friend from the writing retreats suggested going along saying that she really rated her, having found her on a podcast a few years ago. I value this friend's opinions, saw that the tickets were only $35 - and thought, why not? I'm trying to do some new things, because new is good. 

What do you need to know about Aine Tyrrell? 

Well, she's Irish, born in County Clare, but now lives on the North Coast of New South Wales with her three kids. She's loud and proud. She's got very strong opinions on all sorts of things, particularly Colonialism and a woman's role in the world. Some would describe her as woke. I found her refreshingly awesome. She's a Pirate in the best way possible. 

Musically, she's phenomenal. 

The last time I went on spec to a gig in a pub like this and enjoyed myself this much was when Alice and I went to see Jason Mraz. I put these two on a par. 

Her music is a mix of what I'd call Traditional Irish, mixed with some hip hop. She, and her guitars, banjo and tin whistle enveloped the stage for the hour and a half she was on. She broke the gig into three sections. The first part was dedicated to a more mainstream set. The second part was for "the healing", where she played more melodic, lyrical music, and the third set was when she set fire to the place. 

She leaves nothing behind. It's all out there. 

At the start of the second set she related the story of the song's inception. She lost her house to the NSW floods. As the waters were approaching, she sang a song to her eight-year-old son to try to calm him down. As they were evacuated to a rescue centre, they were waiting for the waters to abate. Her son asked if they could sing their song. Her response, in her head, "Shit, I have to write the fucker now." It was an incredible song. Brought tears to your eyes. 

The third set, she went off like a frog in a sock, finishing off with an Irish language version of Kris Kross' Jump, Jump. (Or Léim, Léim for the purists). 

Coming out of the gig, we were told to have a cup of tea on her. Blarney tells me this often - there is only one type of tea if you're Irish, and that's Barry's Tea. Australian tea is shite. She gave out teabags on the way out. 

The one downside. I'm in my fifties. We got into the auditorium a bit late, so we stood at the back. Standing in one spot on shoes without arch support means my body is really feeling it today. Thankfully, I've to a massage booked in an hour. My body is screaming that I'm too old for this stuff (unless I can get a chair). My mind says otherwise. 

Hunt out Aine Tyrrell. She's playing at Splendour in the Grass. She's back gigging around the place after the clusterfuck of COVID and natural disasters. 

Quite simply, she's phenomenal. 

Walking out of Wesley Anne, teabags in hand, we all had something to say. 

Her knowledge of Colonialism the similarities between the Irish and the Australian Aboriginals. The fact that she put everything out there on stage. 

For me, it was the knowledge that there is a woman out there who writes songs for her eight-year-old son as they are sitting in a rescue centre, everything taken from them, just to put the little fellow at ease, puts her in line for mother of the century. 

Hunt her out when she's next in town. It was a brilliant gig. 

Today's song:

Friday, June 23, 2023

Aine Tyrrell

Off to a gig tonight at a little place in Northcote. 

It's not something I do every often. 

And I'm doing on this on spec - one of the women at the retreat suggested it a while ago. 

All I know is that she's Irish, she's socially aware and she comes recommended. Oh, and she doesn't drink, which always makes me scratch my head when you hear about a dry Irishperson. 

Also, I love traditional Irish music. 

We'll how we go. 

It feels strange putting on something other than my gym clothes, applying a bit of lippy and heading out for the evening. 

It feels a bit strange. Normally, my going out on a Friday is catching a movie with a friend. 

It's something different. 

I'll let you know how it goes. 

Today's Song: 

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Listening to the rain

 I'm listening to the rain on the roof. 

That is all.

Yep, that's all I'm going to write tonight. 

I'm just happy listening to the rain on the roof. Well listening to the rain on the roof and playing the song of the day in my head. I was singing it in the shower earlier. Love Talking Heads. 

Happy Solstice. 

I'll go do my ironing now. 

Today's song: 

Wednesday, June 21, 2023


We tried. 

We failed. 

We'll try again in a fortnight. 

The Blood Bank. 

I went into the office today for the soul purpose of donating plasma. The blood bank had called to see if I had time to come in - I asked if they had a time Wednesday - they did. Sorted. 

The preparation was done. Loads of water was drunk over the prior 24 hours. I ate to the schedule required (They ask you to eat something reasonably substantial and savoury in the three hours before the donation). 

I got to the blood bank on time. The registration went well. The time with the nurse who checked my haemoglobin and blood pressure went well. 

They got me in the plasma chair. The position was assumed - arm out, legs crossed. 

The phlebotomist searched for a vein. She was warned that I have shy veins, but once the needle is in, there normally aren't any problems.

They put the needle in my left arm. 

I looked down.

Nothing was coming out. 


She called over a colleague. They had a look. 

As I was giving plasma, they recommended trying the other arm. If you're going to have a needle in your arm for around 45 minutes with fluids going in and out over that time, you don't want leaks. 

So, the needle was taken out, apologies were given, and I was moved to another chair where the plasma machine was set up for the other arm. 

Another phlebotomist came and had a poke around the crook of my arm. He called over another colleague. They had a go happy with what they found. 

They needle went in. 

Nothing came out. 

They apologised. It was a miss. And as they have a two strikes you're out policy, I was told to book again in another week (Well, two for me as I'm getting my flu shot next week) 

At the blood bank. Boots by Harley Davidson. 

So, I went back to the office. No sausage rolls. No milkshake. Both arms were wrapped up in the funky green bandages they have on the go at the moment. 

And I'll go again in a few weeks. 

On a more serious note, if you can donate blood, please make arrangements to do so. Currently, the blood bank is short of blood and blood products. Winter is kicking the butt of the storages. It's a great community service. It doesn't hurt. It doesn't take long. And you're doing something good for the community. 

As it was explained to me as a child, when my Mum used to take us along when she donated blood - there may be a time when you need blood.  If you donate blood, it's good karma for you if you ever need it. 

My father had numerous heart operations. My niece had leukaemia. My family has depleted the blood bank over the years. 

It's nice to pay it back and pay it forward. 

Today's song: 

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Lunchtime Yoga

 "You're not Frank!"

My first word to the bendy, excessively vibrant, blonde-haired yoga pixie on the stage at the front of the studio. 

I've grown used to Frank. I like Frank. Frank doesn't mind that I'm about as bendy as a stobey pole or that I spend a bit of the class in Child's Pose because I find yoga a bit overwhelming, Frank is also good at providing easy options for the unyielding, like me. 

"I'm Jess. I'm filling in for Frank."

Jess half looks like your normal yoga instructor. A broad smile, a wispy voice, tie-dyed leggings. For a yoga instructor she's a bit bustier that normal - but we all come in different shapes and sizes, the same applies to yoga teachers. 

"Cool," I tell her. "I'm Panda and I'm not very bendy. In fact, I'm really crap at this. "

"But the main thing is that you're here."

I've been trying to get to a yoga class once or twice a week. The ones they run at the gym are pretty good. I do like Frank the instructor. He gets what it's like to be a fifty-something with flexibility issues. 

But yoga is a practice, and the more you do it, the better you get. 

And so I embarked on an hour of stretching, sitting, lying and shaking my head at some of the ridiculous things Jess was asking me to do. 

And that is one of the things about yoga - knowing your limits. 

And yes, I hate Downward Dog with an absolute passion, and no, I can't go from Warrior III back into Downward Dog without kneeling first (Much rather stay in Cat/Cow and be done with it). 

Jess offered gentle words of encouragement. There are some things I do, and do quite well - like the Warrior Poses. I like the feel of Warrior Two, looking down your middle finger to the front of the room. I love how strong I feel in these in these poses. I love the way the stretches feel in the body after the class. I like that getting away for an hour at lunch makes things better. 

And while we were lying in Dead Man's Pose (savasana) we all received a quick head massage. 

Who said yoga teachers were good for nothing.

I'm hoping to go back again on Friday. This is good for the body, mind and soul. 

Today's song: 

Monday, June 19, 2023


 My big takeaway from is retreat, after struggling, scratch that, not wanting to write over the weekend, was this:

Work on your project for 100 hours. 

Then see where you're at. 

There's no time limit on the 100 hours. It could be three standard working weeks - or done over a year. 

Work 100 hours on you project. 

Time to get a tracker (or just another bloody spreadsheet).

It's an interesting concept. What can you do in time frames of 100?

It's about 100 days until I go to England and France. 

Watch this space. 

(Not much of a blog tonight. It's hellishly cold and I still have to finish my book group book for tomorrow night...)

Today's song:

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Sunday Stealing: SwapBot Part Something

 One more day of the retreat, before I head back to Melbourne, collect the cat from his self-imposed cupboard and get back to being a worker bee. It's cold and windy down here - perfect writing weather. So, in this first writing block, I'll get my blog out of the way.

Questions, as always, come Bev at Sunday Stealing. 

1) What is your favorite way to spend a lazy day?

I do all sorts of things on a lazy day, but there will be some reading, writing, watching telly and talking to the cat. 

2) What do you look forward to every week?

The weekend. When new episodes of Ted Lasso were coming out, it used to be Wednesday night. 

3) Name three pet peeves you currently have

  • Rude people
  • The way our current Federal Parliament are acting over sexual harassment in the workplace. It's shite. Don't get me started. 
  • The cost of living in general.

4) If you were to win an all expense paid vacation for two weeks to anywhere in the world, where would you choose to go? What are some of the things you would like to experience while you were there?

The two places I would most love to go at the moment are Japan and India. 

Japan has always fascinated me, but I've never got there. It also appears to be a fairly safe and organised place to go. It just looks nuts.

On the other hand, I'd like to go back to India and go down the Southern parts, as well as Rajasthan. I was surprised at how much I loved India when I went there is 2019. India is fascinating. Mad, but fascinating. 

5) What was one of your favorite toys as a kid? Did you save any special things from your childhood that you still have today?

I used to love Lego - I still do, not that I have any any more. As for toys from my childhood, I still have a teddy bear my grandfather gave me at my birth sitting in the cupboard. It started out as pink. It's now grey. I still love it. 

6) What is your favorite holiday? What is your least favorite holiday?

I love holidays where you relax and where you get to explore. 

My idea of holiday hell is going on a cruise. I can never see myself going on a cruise. A great way to get gastro or COVID among the aging bogans. 

7) Have you ever met anyone famous? What concerts have you attended?

I haven't met anybody very famous, particularly as I live in Australia. I bummed a cigarette off Jeremy Clarkson many years ago. I met Clementine Ford at a book event a few months ago. That's about it.

8) Are there any expressions that people use that really annoy you? If so, what are they?

People who say "For all intensive purposes..."

9) Do you like your name? Are you named after anyone? Is there a story how you got your name? Would you change it if you could? If so, what name would you give yourself?

I'm a bit ambivalent about my name. There are plenty of diminutives for my name and I go by Panda most of the time now - which sort of suits me. I came to get the name Panda when I was living in London in the 90s. I was living in a share house with another woman who has my legal name - and she was sweetly pretty and everything a good Amanda should be. I am not slight and pretty and socially acceptable - and Panda stuck. I'm good with that.

 I love the name Freya - though I doubt I would make a good one of those. 

10) It is said that it's the little things that make life worth living. Name five of those little things in your life. 

  • My cat
  • My friends
  • Ice cream
  • Art house cinema
  • Independent book stores
There are many other things which make life worth living, but these are the first ones that came to mind. 

Today's Song:

Saturday, June 17, 2023

The Song in my Head

 Retreats are great, even when they are not great. 

I'm tired. I was in bed at 10.30 p.m. I got to sleep about 2 a.m. I was up at 6.30 a.m. I woke at 5.45 a.m., and being me, I had my job to do. 

The job was to get the fire lit in the dining room. 

I'm sure I was a scullery maid in a former life. I love getting the fires going - and on retreat, this is my job. The night before I did some digging around and got the kindling organised. Nobody has newspapers anymore, but there were firelighters and box of matches. It feels a bit like cheating. 

But the fire was going well by 6.45 a.m.

The sunrise was spectacular. 

There was Morning Glory at 7.30 a.m. where we all congregate and dance in the chapel. The rules are you turn up as you are - don't brush your hair, don't clean your teeth, come in your jim-jams - and dance. 

I wasn't feeling it. 

After having a bit of a boogie, I left them to it, had a shower, grabbed a coffee and took myself into Apollo Bay to check the tyre pressure on the car. I've got this tyre pressure warning light. I only checked this a month ago, but I had the light screaming at me from Little River. Using the ignorance is bliss defence, I ignored it, only finding out what it was in the early hours when trying to go to sleep, looked it up. (Amazing what you can find out at this time of the morning when you google "Warning dashboard lights on an Mazda CX-3").

Anyway, a quick trip to Apollo Bay, a stop at the servo, the discovery that all of the tyres were sitting at an optimal 32 PSI - a quick trip to the IGA for chocolate and stroopwaffels, and I went back to the monastery. 

I've skipped on of the writing sessions. "Pand, write a letter of gratitude to somebody or something," Dev told me. 

"Sod that." Was the reply under my breath. I disappeared into my nun hole, the affectionate name for my little bedroom off the chapel. Maggie O'Farrell's The Marriage Portrait had more of a draw, 

I've been caffeinated. I've been fed. I've read some cards. I bought a few secondhand clothes. 

But I'm tired. I'll be popping a melatonin tonight in the hour before I go to bed. Hopefully that will help. There are some other substances on offer, but I'll go the natural route for the moment. Won't be able to take Stilnox. I'll be drinking tonight. 

Anyway, I can't get this song out of my head. 

I wonder what the chorus is trying to tell me. 

You pull back the curtains

And the sun burns into your eyes

You watch a plane flying

Across a clear blue sky

This is the day, your life will surely change

This is the day, when things fall into place

Today's Song:

Friday, June 16, 2023

The Things I take on Retreat

 I’m sitting in a chapel in what used to be a monastery on the Great Ocean Road, just out of Apollo Bay. I’m wearing my street clothes and a pair of pink, sparkly rubber boots. There is a nip of Mr Black’s Coffee liqueur in a glass in from of me. I had to drive the last hour of the windy road in the dark, having to remember that the car did have high beam and I was allowed to use it. Something about city driving has got me out of ever using high beam unless there is a wanker in front of you or you need to remind somebody to put their lights on who’s driving in the opposite direction.  

The car was surreptitiously packed over the workday. A suitcase here, my alcohol supplies there, the bag which contains my writing implements, tarot cards and other stuff were sneaked down to the car. A quick trip to the supermarket for a packet of Barbeque Shapes and a bar of Turkish Delight for the road was made. 

The last thing into the car was my recalcitrant cat, Lucifer, who, knowing that I was going away, decided to hide for half an hour before I finally got to scruff him and get him into his carry cage. He’s now sitting at Aunty Blarney’s in the cupboard. He’s a good boy. As long as he’s eating, drinking, weeing and pooing in his litter box and not destroying anything all will be well. It’s only two days. I already miss him. Who is going to sleep between my legs tonight? I am surrounded by women. I don’t run that way. 

With all the travel back and forth to Darwin, I'm a lot better at getting myself packed. There are a couple of things that need to come with me down to this meeting of like-minded souls that occurs three times a year.

These are my special items. 

My pillow. 

I’m not normally a bring your pillow person, but for the retreat, it’s needed. I’m sleeping in what’s known as a “Nun Hole”. The room used to be a confessional – it now contains a very comfortable single bed, a small bedside table and a lamp. It’s all I need. The pillow helps me get of to sleep a bit more quickly. A tab of melatonin will also come in handy. 

My Pink Sparkly Gumboots

These were acquired at the last winter Writer’s Retreat, where I bought them off the trading table, having not bought any reasonable footwear down with me. I think at the time I was just coming out of an awful job where I’d been working too hard and too long. And there these boots were, sitting there saying, “Pick me!” They are my size. They are comfortable. And they are sensible for wearing in the country. 

The thing is, I hate pink. I don’t wear pink. I go out of my way not to wear pink. But there is something about pink sparkly gumboots which scream, “You can only have fun wearing me – run with it.”

I’ll wear the pink, sparkly gumboots for the duration of the retreat, No point getting my ugg boots wet. 

Various charging cords

First world issue – but travelling back and forth from Darwin, these now live in my backpack. 

Tarot Cards

You never know when you will be called on to do a reading. I also bought down my Literary Tarot deck to get a bit more accustomed to them. They’re great, but I want to sit with them for a bit longer. 

My Book

It’s my book for book group on Tuesday. It’s Maggie O’Farrell’s The Marriage Portrait. I’m about 100 pages into it – and need to have this read by Tuesday night. I should find some time to do this. 

A Sarong

It’s the middle of freaking winter and you’re facing the Southern Ocean. What in the name of sweet baby Jesus do you need a bloody sarong for? Well, on Sunday Morning there is The Bathing of the Lunatics. A Gunna’s Retreat event. At 7.15 a.m. on the Sunday Morning, we brave idiots gather, go down to the beach, strip off and get into the water. You just have to get wet, then get out. The sarong makes a great towel. You want the towel in your room to be dry when you get back for a shower. I’ve learned this from previous retreats. 

My Knitting

Walking into the kitchen on arrival here, Ash, our cook, his second question after, “How are you?” was, “Do you have my beanie?” I have his beanie, but it’s still on the needles, just started. I have bought my knitting with me for when I am not reading, writing, dancing, skinny dipping, chatting, sleeping, meditating or any of the other strange and amazing things I’ll get up to over the weekend.

Regardless of this laundry list of odd items, I am away from Melbourne, my cat is being well looked after, even if he doesn’t agree, and I am with my tribe, and for this I am truly grateful. 

Our writing block is over. I am now going to sit out under the Milky Way and go put the world to rights. 

I always forget, living in the city, how much I love the stars. 

Today’s Song: 

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Twelve is getting bossy

 Children! What are they good for? 

Twelve put me though my paces again tonight after a pretty solid session with Cleo online last night. 

Cleo is now living in Barcelona. She can still cause merry hell from 10,000 miles away. 

Twelve is different. 

He trains us differently. Slower weights. Heavier weights. Yeah. 

We got to the gym tonight and warmed up on the skier. He likes when Jay and I have done the warm up before we start. 

The skier. Yes, it's this machine which simulates cross country skiing. Who knew?

We started with slow squats - with 18 kg one handed farmers walks in between. Yes, you pick up an eighteen kilogram kettlebell, walk in to the end of the gym. Put it down, pick it up with the other hand and walk back. Good for your obliques. 

Then it was around the back. Leg extensions and seated rows. 

Then over to the bench for bench presses. Four rounds. A warm up with the 15 kilogram bar (x 10), a round of 12 x 25 kgs, a round of 10 x 35 kgs and a round of 10 x 40 kgs. \

Your average young adolescent weighs around 40 kilograms. I can push that off my chest repeatly. Big smiles. 

Then to finish off, the sled. A sled, on carpet for resistence, weighted. Fast as you can. Excellent full body training. 

He kept increasing the weights. First, it was unweighted, second round it had a 20 kilogram plate on it, the next round 40 kilograms, then the last round, which I was encouraged to do the lap in under 15 seconds. 

I did it. Just. 

Not bad for an old bird. 

I believe, next week, we're upping the chest weights to 43 kgs. 

Onwards, I say. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

The Callback

 It's not the way I wanted to start the day in the office. 

I got there on time. I'd nearly finished my audiobook on the tram into work. I remembered the trick to get my laptop attached to the internet in the office - one of the joys of shared work spaces. I said hello to those in the office - a lovely bunch of people. 

Then I checked my home email. One read as follows:

"Dear Pandora, 

Following your visit to our breast screening center we would like to invite you back for further tests to clarify changes seen on you screening mammogram. 

In most cases women who are called back are found not to have breast cancer. "

Blah. Shit. Fuck. Okay, calm down. 

I'm not used to feeling about a hundred emotions in the space of five minutes. 

The email went on to give an appointment time at St Vincents in a fortnight. Could I please call to accept or reject the appointment. 

I called to accept it immediately. 

The woman on the end of the phone was lovely. She told me, first of all, not to panic. About one in ten women will get a recall after an initial mammogram, normally because they want a few more images or to check something out. I might have breathed at the wrong time or moved blurring the image. I was left a bit frazzled after - It's not a painful experience, but it is uncomfortable, and I freaked a bit when the radiographer was maneuvering me in into place. I'm not used to being touched. I wanted to punch her. All because I felt like I was grabbed. (I know to mention this before next time - I won't need the chocolate after_)

Secondly, I've been told to clear half a day. With any luck I'll be in and out in an hour - but you never know - there could be a biopsy... but that is putting the cart before the horse. 

The next hour or so was spent controlling the anxiety. 

On the good side of things: 

  • Most women called back don't have breast cancer
  • I can't feel any lumps. My boobs feel normal. 
  • There isn't breast cancer in the family. 
  • I live in a country that takes breast screening seriously on public health. 
  • And if there is anything there, it can be dealt with early
Still, it plays on your mind. 

After a quick meeting, I went for a walk with a colleague - I'd on conveniently left my external mouse behind - we went on an adventure to find one - and to get a coffee and to clear my head. It was welcome break, and it got the anxiety under control.

Still, I should not worry about something I have no control over until I have all of the fact. 

Things will be well.


Today's song: 

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Dry Shampoo

 They say it freshens up your hair between washes. It comes in a can. You leave it in for a bit then brush it out. And yes, it does help the greasy roots, that dry shampoo. 

Another thing it can do is prematurely age you.

When you spray it on, it goes on white. 

And if you spray it on and catch yourself in a mirror, you look like you have grey hair. 

I sacred myself, this evening. 

Yes, I have a few greys. I've also got a really good hairdresser who I see for colour every six weeks (Well, three months for a full dye job, then there's a quick top up for the roots every six months. 

Maybe I'd be okay with grey hair. Long grey hair. 

Then again...

Today's song:

Monday, June 12, 2023

The New Deck

 I've been waiting a few years for this deck. A friend floated the idea during the pandemic. Would I like a tarot deck that used literary references. 

Tarot. Literature. Two of my favourite things. Of course, I said yes. 

My wait for The Literary Tarot began. 

What I wasn't prepared for was the price tag. Most tarot decks can be procured for around $30. It depends on the deck, its availability and how it's produced. And this one came with a book and a box. It was also in development at the time of purchase. People were going out and finding the texts, making the art and selecting the way in which the deck was going to be presented.

I parted with the hundred and fifty dollars with a bit of trepidation. And this was two years ago. On the good side of things, the people at gave regular updates on how the cards were coming along. My friend, who organised the cards sent on these missives. 

But part of the contribution was going to a literary charity, And they also got in a load of authors to pair the cards with works of literature. Some heavyweights have put in their two cents. Margaret Atwood, Celeste Ng, Terry Brooks, Roxane Gay... You name it, they've chosen a book to go with the cards. 

My friend brought the cards over yesterday. 

I can't leave them, or the wonderful instruction book, alone. 

Flicking through the Major Arcana, there are some great choices. Bram Stoker's Dracula is Death. Cervantes Don Quixote is The Fool... and on it goes. I was a little bit in love when I saw that for The Hanged Man they'd chosen The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock (Probably my most favourite poem ever.)

They've also made some changes to the spot cards. 

The Cups (Emotions) are now the suit of Light. 

Wands (Drive, will and creativity) have become the suit of Ink. 

Swords (Thoughts, truth, cut and dried thought) are now the suit of Quills. 

And Pentacles (Earthly possessions, money, anything grounded) are now the suit of Parchment. 

I'm a little bit in love with them, though I'm not sure I'll be using them for reading. 

For those in the know, I normally read off the Rider Waite deck, with a set of Major Arcana that have come from an old Morgan Greer set. I also like using the Inner Child Tarot, the Osho cards and occasionally, the Voyager Tarot because it's a bit trippy. 

The Vogayer Tarot sample cards. 

It's giving me something to think about and play with. 

I also ponder do I take a deck with me on my writer's retreat next weekend. They might come in use. 

Today's song:

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Movie Review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

 Movie Number 23 of 2023

The Movie: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

The Cinema: Village Cinemas The Rivoli, Camberwell

Stars: 4

Of course I was going to love this movie. It's English. It's based on a beloved novel. I don't need much more than that. 

If you've read Rachel Joyce's beloved book, you're definitely in for a treat. Joyce wrote the screenplay, so it is very much in line with the book. 

Those who've read the book won't need much reminding, as it's a book that sticks with you. 

Harold Fry (Jim Broadbent), a retiree from the South of England, Cornwall even, who receives news that an old friend, Queenie Hennessy is dying in a hospice at the other end of the country. Queenie, it seems, has done something for Harold in the past which stirs up some emotions in him. He tries to write a letter to Queenie, with his wife, Maureen (Penelope Wilton) looking over his shoulder. He writes down something trite, puts it in an envelope, sticks on a pair of boat shoes and a jacket, and he goes to post a letter. 

And that is the start of Harold's unlikely pilgrimage. After a chat with a blue haired girl at the service station, he gets it into his head that he will walk the 500 miles up to Berwick-on-Tweed. For those who aren't the Anglophile like me, here's a map. 

Over the walk, Harold has to rely on the kindness of strangers, and live by his wits. Being and amiable sort, he's happy to have a chat with all and sundry which leads him to get some media attention while he works out just why he is doing something as daft as walk the length of the country in a pair of boat shoes. 

Maureen, in the meantime, is seething at home. Their marriage is one of those comfortable ones which have survived a lot, but we don't quite know what - and we soon find out. 

This is pilgrimage for both of these characters and it gives them an opportunity to right past wrongs, and to grieve. 

I'll leave it there. Read the book to know more. 

I loved some of the characters who joined him on the journey, particularly Wilf (Daniel Frogson), the young lad hell bent on joining Harold on his journey, which brings up a few demons in the latter. The movie also has a great dog in it - faithful to the book. 

Hettie Macdonald's direction is assured, and Rachel Joyce's screenplay is punchy, sweet, bittersweet and funny in equal measures - just like the book. 

I love this book. I really enjoyed the movie.

It's another on to which you probably should take a small pack of tissues to. It's also a great film which you can take your Mum. 

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Sunday Stealing: Swap Bot

 It's been a lovely day here. We've got a long weekend ahead. It's the holiday for the King's Birthday - for the last seventy years it's been known as the Queen's Birthday Public Holiday, never mind that the last queen had a birthday in April (And King Chuck's birthday is in November) The monarch with the birthday closest to the second weekend in June was Queen Victoria. Go figure. Ridiculously, even England doesn't get a public holiday for the Monarch's birthday. (They did get rid of Boris Johnson from parliament the same day that Trump was indicted on felony charges - universal symmetry some would call it.)

However, we, in Australia, have a day off for our contentious Head of State's birthday. Oh well. 

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

*Have you tried anything new this year?

I've started seeing a new psychologist. New enough for you?

*What would you do if you don’t have wifi for a week?

I like to think I'd be okay. There is some okay terrestrial telly over here, and I love exercising, reading and going out. I'd be okay. But it would be hard. 

*Do you like summer, why or why not?

I'm not fond of summer as I don't like the heat - and it gets hot here. I think I'm going to hate the summer in Darwin even more - 35 degrees celcius and 90% humidity - no thank you. The long days can be nice. 

*What’s one restaurant that you like in your city? what food do they sell?

Melbourne is full of amazing restaurants. The two that I've wanted to go to near the city are Cutler and Co and Maha. Cutler and Co is French/Australian, and Maha is Middle Eastern. I also want to go back to Noir in Richmond - that's a glorious French restaurant. 

*Do you prefer digital book or real paper book?

I'm split down the middle on this one. I do love my kindle, but I also like the feel of paper. And I listen to audiobooks. As long as literature is being read, I don't really care, as long as I'm not reading on a phone or computer screen. 

*What’s one thing that you are interested to buy, but it’s a bit expensive, so you haven’t bought yet?

Apple earpods. I've got plenty of ear buds that work well - both wired and wireless - I can't justify the cost of them. 

*What tea brands do you like?

I drink black tea and chai most of the time. I love T2 teas - they are incredible. Expensive, but incredible. Their Sticky Honey Chai is a favourite, but I have run out here at home

*What’s one food that you can binge eating a lot?

Ice cream. I wish I didn't love to binge on it. 

*Write one random thing that happened to you this month.

Something cute that happened today. I went to a sound meditation, as I often do. A friend runs these sessions, and they are fabulous. I went with a friend - and thanks to traffic, we got there a bit late. We ran in, I threw my yoga mat on the ground, settled my friend (as the session had just started) lay down, put my head on a yoga block, shoved a rug over my head and enjoyed the session - which was incredible - made more incredible because I was sitting at the feet of the string section. 

An hour later, the session finished. I sat on my yoga mat to get my bearings. My friend came over to me and gave me a kiss on the forehead.

It made my day. 

Little things. 

*How many long-term penpals do you have right now? (people who pen pal with you for more than 3 years)

None, if you don't count Reindert, who lives in Colorado - but he's not a true pen friend as he's more a friend who lives in another country. We're hoping to catch up in Paris in October. 

*If you own a small food trailer, what food do you want to sell?

Something easy. Like ice cream. I could never run a food trailer. Not my thing. 

*What’s one handmade gift that you received and really liked ?

There are two things that come to mind. Reindert sent me this decorative cat from Oaxaca in Mexico. It's gorgeous. The type of handicraft is called alebrijes.

Jonella gave me a small, hand painted oil diffuser which sits in my car. I love that too. 

*What’s your ideal Saturday like?

Something like today. Get up, go to meditation, have breakfast at my favourite cafe in Caulfield, then a movie, or something fun like a gallery viewing. Dinner somewhere nice. That sounds like a good day. 

*What things do you like to buy on Etsy?

What is Etsy? I think that says that I don't buy stuff on Etsy. 

*What kind asian food do you like?

I'm a big fan of Vietnamese food - which is good as there are about 25 Vietnamese restaurants within spitting distance of the front door. I love Chinese, Sichuan, Japanese, Korean, Cambodian, Thai, Malaysian, Singaporean...

Yeah, I like Asian food. But I especially love the freshness and vibrancy of Vietnamese cooking. 

Friday, June 9, 2023

Theatre Review: Jacky

The Play: Jacky

The Company: Melbourne Theatre Company

The Theatre: The Fairfax Studio, The Arts Centre

Stars: 4.5

Until 24 June, 

The Melbourne Theatre Company was supposed to show the production of Jacky in 2020, but the lockdowns prevented this from happening. It was supposed to show again in 2021 - and once again, lockdowns prevented this from happening. 

So the Jacky, a play about family, culture, capital and the things we find ourselves doing to get ahead. 

It's been worth the wait. This is fabulous. 

Jacky (Guy Simons) is a street-smart aboriginal man who is juggling cultural performances with his other gig as a sex worker. He's keeping his nose clean, working, and building bridges with a community group run by Lynda (Alison Whyte). The world appears to be in Jacky's hands. The promise of a job from Lynda means he could get himself on the property ladder and get some stability away from sex work. 

But with all good plays, his brother Keith (Ngali Shaw) comes to tip things on his ear. In true younger brother form Keith is a bit of a wastrel. Mission born and bred; he's trying - really trying. Jacky tries to get him decent paying work, but he's not really cut out of it. Keith also gives Jacky a good grilling as to why he hasn't gone home in over a year. 

The third strand to this play is Jacky's interactions within one of his clients, the hapless, thoughtless Glenn (Greg Stone). The less said about this the better..

Declan Furber Gillick's script is fantastic, navigating the realms of what it is to be indigenous in our society. Jacky fits in to a point, but he acknowledges the fact his family are far away and would never be able to relate to his life. Gillick, an Arrernte man, has written this with a mixed audience in mind, traversing such issues and white privilege, the absolute lack of any knowledge in some people and a number of First Nations Issues which, as a non-indigenous person, you gain some more knowledge.

Mark Wilson's direction is spot on too, keeping the action rolling, making us laugh, but also think.

In all, this is a triumph of a play. 

The only thing that got up my nose was the country music which played before the play commenced. In the play this was described as crying music. To me, Country and Western Music is there to make your ears bleed or to make you slit your wrists in double quick time. 

Interesting, sexy, sassy and thought-provoking. What more do you want in a play? This comes highly recommended. 

Today's song: 

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Achievement and Pleasure

 Last night's shrink session has been deliberated, cogitated and digested, as in the words of Loyd Grossman and I'm ready to put some words on the page. 

On the good side of things, I didn't come out of the session as an emotional wreck. Sure, I was a little bit stirred up, but nothing like the last session. 

We covered a lot of ground, mostly looking at the anxiety I've been feeling. 

She's given me a couple of tasks. The first one being look at how I view my day-to-day achievements and how I gather pleasure. 

As work is a bit on the dull side at the moment, there is next to no achievement to speak of there. This is a part of the work that I do - swings and roundabouts.

She said I should be deliberately thinking about what gives me a sense of accomplishment and what gives me pleasure. 

And this is hard, as I'm a over-achiever who thinks nothing is ever good enough, and that I'm pretty useless and I don't deserve pleasure. 

Which is crap. 

We're not talking about my dislike of myself for not doing a PhD - and other than I don't have the question to be asked, nor do I want to be poor, or even more of a wanker.

She said focus on the little things. 

So today, my achievements were:

  • Eating healthy all day
  • Not losing my rag at the cat when he insisted on using my thigh as a scratching post
  • Going to the gym, upping most of my weights
  • And my bench press challenge - it's just my challenge - I ended up doing one set of ten x 37.5 kg bench presses, and one set of ten x 40 kg bench presses. Remember 40 kgs is like a solid labrador.

And my little pleasures were getting 50 pages of my book read and doing a few rows of knitting. I love knitting. It makes me feel good. 

I now have to keep this up. 

We had a chat about anger. 

I'm reasonably mild mannered. Like everybody, I get pissed off, grumpy and irritable - but angry - really angry - that only happens every couple of years, and that is a sight to behold. 

I explained that when I do get angry, it's normally done with pretty quickly and I'll either walk, scream or throw inanimate objects about.  Or go for a drive and play The Pogues really loudly. That's all fine. 

But the real headspace kicker was when we talked about my alleged novel, which I've not touched in months. I went over the premise of the book. I had a chat about how I related to the characters. 


I've always known that I was a bit like Faith, my protagonist - a bit lippy, a bit street smart, rather sarcastic. But the rest of the gang - Mo and Larry and Laz. 

That exercise did my head in a bit...

But it's put my head back in my novel. 

I think this exercise needs a bit more time to process. 

In all, not a bad session.

I'll go back again in three weeks. 

Today's song: 

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Dentist vs Shrink

 This evening I had a dentist appointment followed by a session with the shrink. 

I think I prefer the dentist. 

It's over in ten minutes. You go away feeling all clean. I've been seeing my dentist for well over 15 years - so we know each other. It's a functional, transactional relationship.

I walk into the dentists office at 5.30, I say hello to the nurse, have my teeth checked, pay up and leave. The waiting room is a utilitarian space with prefabricated chairs and signs in Greek (I go to a Greek Dentist in a Greek medical practice. It was near the place I was living at years ago.)

And I only see him every six months. 

I see the shrink every three weeks. 

The shrink and the dentist charge about the same.

The shrinks office is in an old building on a major road. It has the pokiest set of stairs I've ever had the misfortune to climb. The music, coming from the tinny radio was not so subtle. D-Ream's Things Can Only Get Better... It's a song that takes me back to dodgy pub nights in London in the nineties, a pint in one hand, cigarette in the other, dancing away the evenings and ending up with inappropriate men - what you're supposed to do in your mid-twenties. 

And the dentist doesn't stir up all sorts of emotional shite, stuff which I've been with thinking about over the next few weeks - like what gives me a sense of achievement, and what do I do for pleasure.

She found the fact that I think I'm a bit of a failure at life a little harsh - but I will try. Even if achieving something means making my bed every morning, or hoovering once a week. 

She's trying to reframe my thoughts. Hmph.

More on this when I've processed things more, but for the moment, I'm going to err on the side of the dentist for being the more pleasurable appointment. You know what you're going to get. He hurts less - and its over quicker. 

Today's song: 

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Little Things from Today

 I find there are two kinds of anniversary day.

There are those that you dwell on. And those you try not to dwell on. 

My father would have turned 82 today. He died 27 years ago - so there is a lot of water under the bridge, but I still remember that today is my father's birthday. Its good in one respect because I then remember a couple of friends who have a birthday today - and I've wished them happy birthday accordingly. 

But other than the nod to Dad's birthday, it was an ordinary day. 

I'm still thinking about the trip to Paris, translating everything in my head in my schoolgirl/Duolingo French. My old French teacher would be very proud. I've got the past perfect, past imperfect and conditional down - the future tense not so much. But the daily 20 minutes of French lessons are bearing fruit. I just have to work on the vocabulary, which is getting better by the day. 

Other things from today. 

I've discovered Turtle Chips. I don't know where they come from. They don't contain any turtles. The churros flavour are amazing - all light cinnamon and chocolate. A bit too yummy. Don't say I didn't warn you. 

Lucifer is still being a sook. He's jumping up onto my shoulders a lot - ever since I last left him with Blarney. He's also got this great habit of coming into my online meetings, walking onto the laptop and shutting down the machine. It's most annoying. Today, as I was trying to talk to a colleague, upset about the decision to euthanise her own pet, he jumped up on  me, showed them his bum, made me contort my neck in all sorts of ways that aren't chiropractor endorsed. Thankfully, it put a smile on my colleague's face. Putting down a beloved pet is never easy. 

And that's about as exciting as it got today. 

Right, to bed. I've got a tradie coming over first thing. 

Monday, June 5, 2023


France is not too far away. 

I look at the list. 

  • Airline ticked booked and paid for
  • Writer's retreat booked and half-paid for. 
  • Travel insurance bought
  • Itinerary before and after the Writer's retreat is underway. 
  • The two nights before the retreat are booked in Paris
Decisions have been made. 

We get back to Paris on the 15th of October, after five days in Provence. (Yeah, hard life) I'll need to book a room in Paris for that night. 

The next job here is to get into contact with Reindert. He lives in Colorado, but is originally from the Netherlands, where his aging parents still live. We're looking to meet up in Paris after the retreat.  The plan is to meet up, grab a hire car and have a bit of a drive around Normandy and Brittany for a few days before I make my way home - a 31-hour journey from Charles de Gaulle, to Helsinki, to Hong Kong, to Sydney then on to Melbourne - that last leg was not what I ordered...

Then there's the London bit to get organised. I've got it in my head I want to spend the first night in a hotel - bomb myself out on a sleeping tablet and hopefully meet a friend for lunch the following day in the centre of the city. There's another friend who's already offered me a bed for a couple of nights just out of the M25. And there's another mate who I'd love to catch up with in deepest, darkest Essex.

On the 4th of October, I'll make my way to Paris, taking the Eurostar - something I've always wanted to do. I've booked a room at the hotel in which we're staying for the retreat - but this is a single room, on the retreat I'll be sharing with a mate. 

Things are falling into place. 

It's the organising which is exciting. 

My feelings about going back to London are a little more difficult to un pack. But that's a topic for another post on another day. 

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Sunday Stealing Questions

I started writing this from a friend's kitchen table in Adelaide. We're here working on a website for our masonic lodge. It's fun. 

We're also being overseen by a one-eyed black cat named Wink. 

Life is pretty good, but I also need to get this one before hopping on a plane back to Melbourne where I have my own stroppy black cat to make sure I'm doing the write thing. 

Questions have come, as always, from Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. What are your plans for June?

I've got a couple of theatre performances to go to. I'm also wanting to 

2. Your mid-year resolutions or goals?

Not really. I just want to get through winter.

3. Are you good at taking care of plants

Not really. I can keep the cat grass alive, but that’s about the only plant that I have in my flat. That and the in the mold in the bathroom.

4. What makes you feel nourished?

Music, Reading, theatre, friends, good sex. 

5. Which animals do you see most in your area?

There are a lot of small yappy dogs that inhabit the street of Richmond. As well as a lot of greyhounds that have been re-housed.

6. Books on your summer reading list?

The next book on my list is The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell. I have to get this ready to book read by the 21st for book group. It's my book. 

7. Projects you want to tackle this summer?

Summer is a long way away. It’ currently winter. My project is to up my weights with my trainer.

8. Do you have weddings, graduations, summer celebrations?


9. Which summer snacks are you excited to enjoy again?

It’s winter here, so I’m looking forward to eating lots of pumpkin soup and stews. I love winter food.

10. How much time do you like to take for vacations?

Not that much. However, I am going to France and England in October for three weeks.

11. How much has changed since last summer?

Summer only feels like it ended about a month ago. I haven’t really thought about this.

12. Something that would be out of character for you?

Voting for a Conservative political party (In Australia, that's the Liberal/National Party - in America, that would be like voting Republican). It wouldn’t happen.

13. What do you miss about winter?

I am currently standing here at Melbourne Airport, waiting for a bus to take me to where my car is parked. It is about 11°. This is winter. I don’t use it at all. Mind you. I was in Adelaide where it was about 10° warmer.

14. Your favorite free / cost effective ways to have fun?

Go to the park and talk to the dogs running around. That or just go for a walk. 

15. Who do you trust most to house & pet sit?

I am very lucky. I have a lot of friends who I trust with my house in my cat. Jay looked after Lucifer this weekend.

Today's song: