Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Wowsers at Manly

(Click all photos to enlarge)

Mt and I took the ferry to Manly today. The crowds travelling were immense and the crowd control, intrinsically Australian in nature with some frank and direct language, must have come as a shock to the many overseas tourists. I snapped the above pic of a sailing boat steering to the Heads and the Pacific Ocean through a dirty window of the ferry; hence the splotches visible in the enlarged photo.


This is the Freshwater, identical to the Collaroy on which we travelled, docking at Manly Wharf. I snapped this photo as we ate our lunches.


Disembarking from our ferry at Manly along with the holiday crowds. We walked along the Corso to the oceanside where we picked up lunch; sushi for Mt and chicken kebab for myself which we took bacl to the harbourside of Manly to eat on the foreshore.


After lunch we looked in at the Manly Art Gallery. They had an interesting Robert McFarlane retrospective. There was also an exhibition on holiday homes across the years in the area which included the following photograph of 'The Wowsers'.


I'm not sure in what way this group saw itself as wowsers but they look a likely group to me.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Monday, 28 December 2009

Rain


(Click to enlarge)

Looking out from my kitchen window a few minutes ago. It is pouring with rain. And showers are forecast for the next five days through to New Years Day. This could ruin Sydney's NYE fireworks display.

This is the worst Christmas weather I can remember in Sydney for years. Pity all those overseas backpackers expecting to regale their relatives back home in the freezing Northern Hemisphere about their hot Christmas spent on Sydney beaches only to find the weather cool, grey, gloomy and wet.

Mt is flying in from Ballina this evening to stay until Saturday and when she gets here will probably wish she had stayed at home. I've warned her to pack her umbrella.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The French Kissers (Les Beaux Gosses)


I can be slow sometimes. Although this film has been advertised for weeks it was only queueing for tickets today that the double entendre of the title occurred to me.

A group of fourteen year olds is discovering relationships, love and (imagined) sex in and out of school. Viewing this film it seems that teenage schooling is little different in France from what we see portrayed in American movies. It wasn't what I remember from my mid-teenage days, around forty five years ago, no less, but then I went to an all boys school and at that age was already well and truly a gay boy.

Notwithstanding scenes of shared - but not mutual - masturbation, the characters in this film remain steadfastly hetero.


Saturday, 26 December 2009

Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race


(Click to enlarge)

The annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race gets underway today on Sydney Harbour. The starting gun is fired at 1pm on Boxing Day.

Photograph taken from my balcony several minutes after the gun with the fleet sailing up the harbour (away from the camera) towards Sydney Heads (to the right of the photo) where the yachts enter the Pacific Ocean for the trip down the east coast of mainland Australia, across Bass Strait, down the east coast of Tasmania, into the Derwent River and on to Hobart (Capital city, State of Tasmania).

Yes, it is gloomy and rainy this Boxing Day in Sydney.

G#$gle!


I tried out Google Chrome for several weeks and was happy with it initially. Sure there were some irritations; mainly layout differences from 'standard' Google which seemed cosmetic differences to me rather than user improvements but I quickly became used to them. After a while though I tired of the extra steps needed to scroll through long lists of favourite sites.

So, on Christmas Eve I uninstalled Chrome. Now it might be a coincidence but since that 'uninstallation' - is there such a word? - I have new problems.

For one thing I am having formatting difficulties creating new Blogger posts. Line alignment, font style and size have all gone awry at different stages.




Secondly, I can't get to my Hotmail email from the Windows Live Messenger box. Currently I have to Google my mail box.

Life was so simple before computers.

Friday, 25 December 2009

And on Christmas Eve, Santa revealed himself


Tiny squares in rectangles




Tiny squares in rectangles. That's mostly what I find now when I try to retrieve the videos I have downloaded from my new Sony Handycam.


Not very handy, I must say.


It is most disappointing. When the videos are first downloaded I can play them and despite my poor camera skills the quality of the High Definition images is fantastic. But try to retrieve the videos after they have been saved (in something called m2ts format) and all I get most of the time is a %#@*%^& tiny square inside a rectangle. I tried to copy one for this post but the only thing that survived the paste was the rectangle.


I'll try the handbook again but if any reader can explain what needs to be done in simple language I will be very grateful.


Bah humbug and a Merry Christmas for those who are celebrants.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Christmas Eve at the beach





I tried out my new video camera whilst waiting at Bondi Beach for the Icebergs Club to open. I was there to my renew my membership for next year.

It was just after 10am and the temperature was already at 30c (86f). Hordes of British backpackers were arriving for their ritual down under beach Christmas activities and I imagine many would have been as red as beetroots by the afternoon.

I'm very much a novice with the video and need more work steadying the camera and on the zoom facility. Unfortunately the high definition quality of the video was lost in transferring the video to You Tube but this is the only way I could find to download the video to my blog.

The building that I zoom in on at the end of the video is the Icebergs Club. The name of the club is clearly visible in the HD quality video but not so here.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Chocolate overdose


One of the nice things about volunteering is the generosity of employers, workmates and others who show appreciation for our efforts with end of year gifts.

This year at both the hospital and the nursing home I have received an embarrassing amount of gifts. I've even received a gift from an inpatient simply because she felt I put her at ease on her admission; that is, just for doing my job. The gifts include several hampers of goodies and far too many chocolates, the latter testing my sweet tooth addiction to the limit.

I'm sharing the chocolates around and trying not to get too big a head in awareness (to paraphrase Sally Field) that 'they appreciate me, the really appreciate me'.

Monday, 21 December 2009

The Damned United



(Derby County v West Ham United 12 April 1975)

When I lived in London in 1974/75 I took to following the Derby County Football Club. It was a fortuitous selection as they won the English Championship whilst I lived there, yet Chelsea, whose home ground was around the corner from my flat, were relegated. I can't recall the reasons why I chose to support Derby County although my interest in a sporting team often arose from how good its players looked so that was probably a big influence on me at the time. I tend to be very loyal in my sporting allegiance and still take an interest in Derby County to this day.

At the time one of the most famous football managers and media personalities was Brian Clough, an opinionated and egocentric individual whose glittering playing career had been cut short by injury and who had managed my now favourite club from the doldrums of lower divisions to a Championship a few years earlier.

In 1974, Brian Clough was appointed manager of Leeds United, then the powerhouse of English football much as Manchester United is today. It proved to be a disastrous appointment. Clough was sacked after just forty-four days in the position. It is this story and the lead up that are depicted in The Damned United.



Michael Sheen portrays Clough in an interesting study of genius, ambition, envy and revenge. The film does not require any knowledge of soccer; in fact the game itself only features occasionally. Sheen certainly is a versatile actor having recently played Tony Blair in The Queen and a vampire (I believe) in New Moon.

The film is also a fascinating reminder of the extent to which big time sport has changed in the intervening years.

Ironically, nowadays Derby County has dropped back into the second tier of English football whilst Leeds United is competing in an even lower division, albeit currently it's leader.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Now boarding at Gate Z279


(The New Yorker)
I'm glad that for the first time in three years I'm not travelling this Christmas.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Please sir, I want no more...


This is a bad time of year for moderate eating and my last three days have been particularly over the top.

The Day Care Centre held its seasonal lunch on Wednesday; a buffet groaning under the weight of mainly seafood dishes. It was only the need for we able bodied volunteers to help serve the respite care guests that prevented a full scale assault on the table. It is extraordinary how some older people can turn into raiding marauders when offered a buffet of goodies.

The next day it was the Hospital's turn to provide a seasonal lunch for the volunteers. Once again a mainly seafood offering except this time the food was delivered to the table groups on platters, thus avoiding a Normandy landing type assault on the food. The service was loving if a bit haphazard. The Caesar Salad dressing arrived after the dessert whilst Ham and Turkey appeared well after the main course offerings. It would be churlish, though, to criticise such a generous offering and we had a fun time with our fellow volunteers.

Then last night I completed the week at dinner with a group of former work colleagues who selected a modest looking Thai restaurant at Newtown, Maggie's On Enmore, which served a delicious series of dishes. Thankfully, in light of the previous days, there was little seafood in the selection this time. By coincidence another, even larger, group of former colleagues was dining at the adjoining table so the reunion proved to be a much bigger night than expected.

I need to show some moderation this weekend.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Avatar 3D


In the year 2154, Earth has nearly been destroyed and some remnants of the population are attempting to displace the natives of the planet Pandora so as to get access to a valuable resource. This is the premise of the two hours and forty-five minutes long extravaganza Avatar which I saw today in Imax and 3D formats.

Actually, the plot details, it's consistency and logic, are of little importance. This is a large screen computer game where effects and imagination are the driving forces. On that score this is a very impressive film. It is the first time I have seen a feature film in 3D and it is certainly an involving experience. I felt myself dodging flying debris and other elements that appeared to shoot out from the screen and as no doubt countless others know you feel you can almost touch things that appear in the foreground of the action. The special effects truly are 'special'; not a single clunky one to be seen. The High Definition quality of the screening is excellent.

Australia's Sam Worthington is the hero, an injured Marine, who with others provides his 'genomes' and brain power to drive 'Avatars' to replicate and mix amongst Pandora's natives. The storyline of powerful forces attempting to take possession of the resources of others, as fanciful as this one seems on the surface, is an eerie coincidence given the film's release at the very time of the international climate discussions taking place in Copenhagen.

As wonderful as the movie is to view, it gave me a headache; a product of an at times noisy soundtrack, the 3D glasses that felt heavier on my face as the minutes passed and some slight motion sickness from the 3D effects.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

An unbearable loss


An acquaintance of mine has lost her only child, a son aged 22. He was holidaying in England and in circumstances not fully known to me he walked across a railway line not aware of the electrified third rail system operating there. He was electrocuted.

I feel for the grieving parents but am unable to conjure any words of comfort for them in those circumstances.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Hark! the carols ring out loud...


(Stock image)

I had imagined that at 3.30pm two Tuesdays out from Christmas I would not find the monster mall up the road from me at Bondi Junction too crowded with seasonal shoppers. I was wrong.

The warning signs were there with the queue of cars into the car park; itself renowned as one of the most frustrating mazes in Sydney. As it was a parking space magically fell vacant for me only ten minutes into my search for one. Then followed an interminable wait for the lift to the shopping levels. Thankfully the one that eventually arrived was not packed with mothers and their triplet size prams nor with families steering shopping trollies overloaded with a month's supply of food that would feed the entire US army in Afghanistan.

My own modest purchase of Belgian chocolates - a rather mundane seasonal present for a friend - was accomplished comparatively quickly followed by the completely unnecessary impromptu purchase of chocolate creams to assuage my sweet tooth.

I should have made a hasty retreat to my car at that point but I am easily seduced by those familiar Christmas Carols broadcast across the mall and they were sounding especially joyous this afternoon. So I hung around a while just listening to a few, humming along until the realisation that I was in danger of further impulse purchases not to mention losing complete track of where I had parked.

I then made as speedy a departure as queues, lifts, car park boom gates and exit traffic lights would allow.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

I'm ready for my close up...


This is my latest spur of the moment purchase; a Sony video camera. Just call it a Christmas present to myself.

The salesman, with the New Zealand accent, assured me that it is an ideal, simple camera for a video novice. The fact that he was cute to look at and (unknown to him) gave me a tempting glimpse of skin and his underwear as he leaned over to retrieve something from under the counter, of course, played no part in my purchase.

As is customary with technology that I am assured is ideal, I struggled with the ostensibly plain language instructions but eventually got the camera and computer downloads to work. My test videos, which I intended to post in triumph on this blog, proved too jerky for me to publish although the quality of the picture - unsteadiness aside - is excellent. I will need to work on my steady hand.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Away We Go


John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph are a couple expecting their first child in Away We Go who embark on a journey visiting friends and relatives in search of their preferred environment for life as a family. Along the way they find kooks and oddballs and others whose lives seem attractive on the surface but who have their own demons to battle.

Entering for my session, two older women departing after having seen the prior session gave me their unsolicited opinion that this is 'a terrible film - quite dysfunctional'. This wasn't exactly the feedback I was happy to hear, especially when I hadn't invited one. The movie opens with a cunnilingus scene; albeit discreetly shielded by the bed covers followed immediately by Krasinski discussing how Rudolph was tasting different. Those two women were probably in shock at that point and some of the strange characters who followed no doubt added to their disorientation afterwards.

I found several of the scenes quite amusing, particularly Maggie Gyllenhaal and Josh Hamilton with their decidely alternative life style and a loud mouthed Allison Janney. Other scenes were more low key and serious.

Krasinski is an interesting performer. In this film he maintains an image of cheerful innocence which I found endearing but I imagine would easily irritate others.

An uneven casserole of a movie.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Mysteries: Genesis


Eve (Sophie Ross) and Adam (Cameron Goodall)

The current Sydney Theatre Company production is The Mysteries: Genesis.

The program notes informed us that The Mystery Plays were religious dramas, consisting of a cycle of plays, that developed in Medieval Europe. They were performed on pageant wagons that travelled around the town to various stations, the audience travelling from station to station to view an entire cycle of plays.

This production contains three 'plays'; 'Adam, Eve'; 'Cain, Abel' and 'Noah's Ark' - spread over three hours. For the first and third plays the audience is seated on chairs or the floor or standing around the performance space according to its preference. For the middle play, the audience joins the actors on the performance space and mingles with them as they perform that play.

In 'Adam, Eve' God creates the Universe, Adam and Eve and we see them in the Garden of Eden. All the characters (God, Adam, Eve, Male Lucifer and Female Lucifer) are completely naked throughout this first play. Once expelled from the Garden of Eden, the characters, now dressed, perform the subsequent plays.

I'm not into religious works as a rule but this work, with it's sparse staging is told in an interesting way. Within minutes you scarcely notice the nudity of the first play which given the subject matter comes across as perfectly natural and relevant. The acting of the young cast is excellent.

The Company warned patrons that this is 'theatre for the adventurous' but to my observation last night's audience of all ages accepted the adventure with ease.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Cabaret


The New Theatre is a small company of professional and eager amateur performers and theatrical artisans who struggle along on modest box office income and donations. Amazingly it has operated for 75 years.

They produce small scale productions of a range of works and for them to attempt a work such as the Broadway musical Cabaret is very ambitious indeed. Any production of this work inevitably risks comparison with the brilliant filmed version which left an indelible memory in the minds of all who have seen it.

Mk, Rs and I attended a performance yesterday with minimal expectations and were pleasantly impressed by the quality of the production and performances. Sure, it cannot match the gloss and detail of what would be expected from a fully professional staging but the reasonably sized audience in the intimate surrounds of the New Theatre clearly enjoyed what was on offer.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The Informant!


An executive, Matt Damon, is drawn into a FBI investigation after he reports an apparent attempt at corporate blackmail. As the investigation develops, the executive's role in the affair becomes increasingly uncertain. The film is an adapation of true events.

The trailers for The Informant! are humorous and suggest the film is a comedy or satire. The use of 1970s style whimsical screen captions and background music - odd, given that the story is mostly set in the 1990s - added to my impression that we are meant to find this film funny but all the humorous bits were in the trailers. The film itself is...well...unfunny.

It is all played out in a sort of monotone and only piqued my interest in the final twenty minutes. Some members of the audience walked out, presumably bored, before the film was half way through and yet I heard one couple comment at the end how clever it was. For mine, this film is a disappointment.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Road signs in Africa




OK, that one is one pretty clear but what about this one? Only those in wheel chairs face danger?


Friday, 4 December 2009

Communicating service


I am an idiot. I use Telstra as my service provider for my landline phone, mobile phone, internet services and Foxtel. I should have my head examined.

I dread any occasion that I have to contact them about one of these services. Every call goes through automated 'gateways' to an operator who can be anywhere around the country. Bad luck if that operator cannot resolve my query because all follow up falls back to the customer. Telstra doesn't appoint a case officer to sort out the problem, nor does it initiate any calls to the customer or provide the customer with a direct number to pursue the follow up. Every follow up starts the enquiry anew.

My latest enquiry is why changes to my Foxtel service which should have occurred automatically last month have not proceeded. It has taken three calls this week (each one handled from the start as a new enquiry) to establish that the impediment is that Telstra, which has my address registered separately for each of those services, has my apartment number missing from one of those registrations.

Can you believe that this requires internal Telstra referral to its IT Department and an unspecified number of days for the missing apartment number to be added to that one registration? What's more I have to ring them in a few days time to check that the address has been re-registered and when it has to then request the automatic Foxtel change.

Only days ago, Telstra announced the appointment of one Robert Nason to head a new "Customer Satisfaction, Simplification and Productivity Unit" and improve Telstra's customer service. I've written to him today with my complaint and I suggest any readers with their own Telstra problems do the same.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

King of the road


Two nights back in the evening peak, a taxi broke down on New South Head Road in the eastern direction right alongside Rushcutters Bay Park. As we drove past in the western direction we noted that the taxi was in the middle lane of three and less than 20 metres from a side intersection that it could conceivably have been pushed or towed into and out of the way of a massive traffic build up behind it. A police van was stationed immediately behind the broken down taxi and police were directing the blocked traffic around it.

The traffic reports on the radio were reporting the break down and reporting that the traffic build up stretched right back to Hyde Park in the city, about three kilometres back. The reports pointedly noted that the taxi driver was refusing to allow his taxi to be towed away.

I was quite astonished by this. I would have assumed that police had the right to move a vehicle away that was obstructing traffic. These reports suggest otherwise.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Foot in mouth


So there I was explaining to Ja that I had a periodontist (oral health) appointment. 'Oh yes', Ja reassured me, 'it's so important to keep fit and healthy and to pursue preventative treatment'.

As we continued to discuss it everything seemed so clear until I mentioned that a periodontist visit wasn't too different from the regular dental check up. Ja's face seemed to cloud over in doubt but she brightened and added that we all need 'happy feet'.

Now I was a bit confused. Turns out that Ja thought I was going to the podiatrist (foot health).

Mmmmm, a case of foot and mouth.

Monday, 30 November 2009

A Serious Man


The Coen Brothers often provide an apparently unrelated short film as a lead in to their main feature, a signature element that they repeat in A Serious Man.

In this case the short starter, a sort of Jewish fable, is entirely in the Yiddish language, with English subtitles and runs just long enough for half the audience to start to worry that they are in the wrong auditorium.

The main film that follows is set in 1967 in a Jewish community in a small Minnesota town where a Physics Professor is about to have his world unravel. His wife informs him that she is leaving him for another man, his free loading brother is engaging in increasingly bizzare activity, his foreign student appears to be bribing him for an improved test score and his employer repeatedly and unconvincingly tells him not to worry that anonymous allegations about his moral turpitude will affect his application for tenure.

All of this, and more, is played out in total deadpan style with the driest of dry humour. I imagine this film will make more sense if you are Jewish or at least are familiar with Jewish culture and practice but even then I suspect most viewers will scratch their heads and wonder how they might better have spent the two hours.

I rather liked the attention to period detail and also - as a lover of dry humour - had a few laughs but I would have been in the minority.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Fairy tales do come true...it can happen to you...

One of the advantages of my mother's dementia is that she is long passed wondering why her son (and only child) hasn't married and provided her with longed for grandchildren. When she remembers who I am, as she did when I visited her this morning, I receive a happy and non-judgemental welcome.

The same cannot be said for my rediscovered aunt who also has dementia but surprisingly good short term memory. Having rediscovered each other after decades of separation my aunt now knows and remembers my single, childless status and has started to badger me about the joys of marriage and parenthood. She doesn't appear to notice the irony of what she is saying to me given that she was thrown out of her own home by her now deceased husband and has been completely cut off by her two children and four grandchildren, apparently for years, not one of whom maintains any contact with her.

Today my aunt told me that each week now she expects that this will be the week when I inform her of my impending marriage and parenthood. When I suggested that I was not likely to be making that lifestyle change now at the age of sixty, my aunt was undeterred informing me that it is never too late.

She must be influenced by Geoffrey Edelsten and Brynne Gordon who in a piece of 'celebrity' gossip disguised as news on television last night breathlessly regaled viewers about their wedding and parenthood plans.


(Geoffrey Edelsten and Brynne Gordon)
God forbid that I should end up like these two.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Disorder...and dishonour...in the house.


(Italian Parliament)

With Australian politics undergoing historic fracturing I thought I would tune into this afternoon's broadcast of Senate debate on climate change legislation.

I sort of hoped, but in truth didn't really expect, to hear rational and reasoned debate from both sides of the political divide. The sort of debate that would assist listeners understand the issues and enable us to reach informed opinions.

Unfortunately, my worst fears were realised. The so called debate was an unbroken stream of abuse and disparagement - by both sides. Not a single speaker actually spoke to the legislation. It was non stop belittlement and mud slinging with the President of the Senate half heartedly attempting to control an endless run of interjections.

We, the tax payers, fund this kindergarten level of behaviour and we are not getting much value from our representatives.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

White Ribbon Day


Today is White Ribbon Day, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

I've been hit.


Sometime on Tuesday night, Sydney time, someone made the 100,000th hit on my blog. I never imagined something like that would happen when I tentatively started this blog just under two years ago.

Of course many of those hits would be by people who opened my site randomly or unintentionally who then, being not interested in what they found, moved on in seconds. Fair enough.

For those who deliberately chose to read my site, and more amazingly to me return to read it again, thanks for your patronage.

Monday, 23 November 2009

He's a tool


Thomas Jane

The SMH's television guide this week previews the television series Hung which premieres in Australia this week and informs us that it 'is not just about a guy with a big penis who decides to become a gigolo'.

In an interview the lead actor, Thomas Jane, speaking about his character states

"He's looking around for a winning tool and he doesn't realise it's literally in front of him."

How subtle!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

It's too darn hot


'It's too darn hot' from Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate.

It is 40.4c (104.7f) in Sydney.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

2012


I love disaster movies. I get a kick out of seeing images of world famous landmarks crumbling, collapsing, being swamped or whatever by the 'disaster de jour'. No doubt psychiatrists have a syndrome for this character trait of mine.

2012 is an update of the biblical tale of Noah's Ark with all sorts of modern nuances relating to good and evil. The planet is about to disintegrate because of a once in 640,000 years alignment of the sun and planets and this demise was foretold by the Mayan civilisation.

All of this is good stuff as far as disaster movies go although the test as always with this genre is how effective are the special effects. The answer in this case is that they are pretty good. Of course these movies are beset with implausibilities and inconsistencies and in that regard 2012 is a bit of a shocker. The viewer is best advised to switch off all logical thought for the nearly three hours it takes for the tale to reach its predictable conclusion.

There is a surprising amount of humour in the film; I assume intended, with Woody Harrelson, in particular, revelling in his kooky role. There is also plenty of irony; again I assume intended. One of the characters is named Noah and one of the escape vessels is named Genesis and on and on it goes. George Segal is wheeled out from his nursing home to take one of many minor cameo roles; another characteristic of disaster movies.

There is disappointing news for our esteemed Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, who is deemed by many to be seeking a prominent role for himself and Australia on the international stage. Regrettably for our Kevin, neither rates a single reference in this film.

On the other hand there is reassurance that in the planet's final moments, the world's mobile phone networks continue to operate very effectively in the remotest of locations, thank you very much.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Fresh air needed


I have a wide tolerance for what I find attractive in a man but Robert Pattinson who attracts a lot of media attention for his appearances in a certain vampire series of movies has never done it for me.

From the outset his photographs have suggested to me a scruffiness and less than appealing standards of hygeine and now, if magazine reports are to be believed, he has admitted his personal hygeine 'is disgusting'.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

A Room with a View



'Water views' is the mantra for desirable living in property obsessed Sydney and my friend Me's home meets that criterion in Sydney's ocean side suburb of Manly; or more precisely North Steyne.

I had lunch at her home today together with My, the three of us being workmates in the 1980s and later.

This is the view from her front terrace on which we ate our lunch. As you can tell from the sound, it was a breezy day.

Not a bad view to wake to every day, is it?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Class of 55

(Click to enlarge)

Here is a photo of potential 20th Century movers and shakers. Well maybe not; I don't really know. It is the Double Bay Public School Transition class of 1955 (that is, the class between Kindergarten and First Class in Primary School).

The 'cherub' second from the right in the top row would not have known what a computer was in 1955 but now in his retirement he maintains a blog. Yes that is me, aged six.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Picnic in the park

We had a picnic at tiny McKell Park in Darling Point this afternoon to mark several birthdays including Sy's and Hn's. We had set ourselves up in the space above with other picnic groups around us only to have a woman inform us half an hour in that she was setting up for a wedding to commence two hours later.

We moved to another spot about twenty metres away and continued our picnic there as preparations for the wedding continued. It turned out to be a Jewish wedding with a canopy and violinist playing Jewish tunes and melodies from Fiddler on the Roof. The violinist had to compete with the thump, thump, thump music drifting off the harbour from nearby leisure craft but he provided a pleasant background to our picnic.

The fairly formal dress of the wedding guests looked a bit strange in the park environs but gave us plenty of opportunities for gratuitous bystander assessments.

Turned out to be a good afternoon.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Here they go...here they go...here they go...

I watched the New Zealand versus Bahrain qualifying match for the World Cup finals on television tonight. New Zealand won the match 1-0 to win the tie by the same score on aggregate and qualify for next years finals in South Africa.

It is the first time they have qualified for the finals series in twenty-eight years and the capacity crowd in the stadium erupted in joyous scenes at full time.



New Zealand players celebrate winning goal 2009

The scenes reminded me of the night four years ago when Australia beat Uruguay in Sydney to qualify for the finals for the first time in thirty-two years.

Australian players celebrate winning penalty 2005

Congratulations to New Zealand and best wishes to them and also to Australia who qualified again this time a few weeks ago. It would be ironic if the two countries end up in the same group at the finals.

Friday, 13 November 2009

My proxy grandmother

(Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple)


I am lucky that I didn't lose the first of my parents until I was fifty-four and my mother is still alive; albeit with little memory or recognition due to dementia.

On the other hand I only ever knew one of my four grandparents; my maternal grandmother being the only one still alive when I was born and she passed on when I was seventeen. So I had only limited experience of grandparent attention.

I find it a bit odd that at sixty years of age I have acquired, uninvited, a proxy grandmother in the form of one of the other hospital volunteers who has taken a shine to me and off her own bat decided to guide me.

This woman is ancient. I'm not sure what her age is but to give you some idea of what she might be just consider that she completed more than fifty years as a nurse at the hospital and now has passed twenty-five years as a volunteer! I'm sure some of this must have been concurrent otherwise she would be close to a hundred or more now.

She wears rows of badges on her volunteer's blouse to mark the many milestones she achieved in each role such that she has the appearance of a Russian General bedecked in his service medals.

After my recent bout of vertigo following ear damage, proxy grandmother took to giving me advice on healthy eating. She started bringing in empty packages of food items she purchases for her own dining and runs through the cooking instructions for me (as if I am unable to read the instructions for myself) whilst patients queue up behind her waiting to receive attention from me.

Of course she is well intentioned but her total lack of awareness of the impact of these impromptu mentoring sessions is a bit embarrassing. I don't have the heart to cut her short and so bear with it until she feels she has provided me with the guidance she so clearly thinks that I need.