Monday, May 3, 2010

"Farewell and adieu to you, dear Spanish ladies"

Hi. My new "diary blog" -  well, that's what a blog IS, isn't it?  - is over at

In all probability these blog pages will disappear before long. I might raid some of the article material to post to the new better-illustrated pages. Then, who knows, I could transfer to a website on a domain of my own, hosted by Hostgator.

And the Spanish ladies?  It's a song lyric, guys. Reminds me, this Wednesday will be our music group's concert in Minlaton; third performance so far this year ... a dozen still to come.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

So ... home from the smoke. I am not yet a wireless enabled laptop user who emails or blogs while travelling.

The fourth and last of my successful series of SLT eye operations (truly, five to ten minutes each, no more) happened last Wednesday and I was OK to enjoy that evening at an amateur drama production. Used to know quite a few of the cast plus their perennial director -  but alas, time has worked its cruel deed: most of the team have moved on and, I am ungracious in saying this, half of the fourteen performers had somehow missed out on a  hypothetical Acting 101 class, the bit that says "Say your lines AT THE AUDIENCE". Of course, a good chunk of this audience member's experience is down to overall grumpiness plus diminished but undiagnosed hearing acuity. What? - ME, deaf?  Why do people mumble these days? And WHY do they print stuff so SMALL? Hey?

Mmm. Right.

Lovely spell of autumnal weather - almost back to summer in patches. There was a family group SWIMMING in the sea when I stopped off at scenic Port Vincent on the way home on Thursday. Mind you, must have been a bit nippy, and I was happier to sit in the car munching a lunch of hot chips from the kiosk.

Because I'd had an earlier than necessary start for the three hour drive, I also took a small detour to the BHP tourist lookout  above Ardrossan, which is a clever use of the giant heap of quarry tailings; accessed  via a steep and twisty gravel road worthy of some outback rally.

Our Tuesday song rehearsal this week will be ... Monday!  Can I still call it Tuesday practice?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

New Speaker in the House but no garden sprinklers

South Australia's parliament has a new Speaker, Whyalla MP Lyn Breuer, and the Deputy Speaker is the Member for Bright, Chloe Fox. Certainly a first, females in the "two top roles" as Greg Kelton put  it in today's Advertiser. It is unfortunate that Breuer's first words in interview with media were stridently sexist, as she declared that she would keep order in the house - the Speaker's proper job - "because they can be naughty boys." Headline: Women Rule the House.

Still, I liked the paper's second front page heading: Garden Sprinklers Facing Extinction. The context was serious enough, Water Minister Paul Caica reflecting that despite good rain for the start of autumn, we will be urged to give up forever the old ways of garden watering.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dirty business

The dirty business is not only the ALP hanging on to power in S.A., holding 26 seats to the Libs 18 despite achieving only 37 percent of the vote.

But rather, I am referring again to the sad business of the secret judicial system in China - and the ten year sentence given to Australian citizen Stern Hu of Rio Tinto, with Australian consular officials denied access to the courtroom for the trial. There are aspects of comic opera, although for the persons convicted it is no comedy.

Local and personal, of course, outweighs the national and international for most of us.

Yesterday our little group of friendly singers and instrumentalists gave its quarterly concert at the Elanora Home in the town of Stansbury. I used the digital camcorder to record the proceedings but due to human error (guess whose??) the camera ran out of battery juice and so missed Angie's solo and the group finale. My name will be mud. Report card: Can Do Better.

At least the Aussie cricketers completed their clean sweep over the New Zealand Black Caps in Hamilton, winning both Tests of the short series.  Now the top guns from both teams are headed to India where they are signed up to play for various teams and for serious money.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Back from Adelaide. Two State Elections: any winners?

OK. In the U.S. Obama got his health care reform through Congress and into law. Then he talked to Israeli PM Netanyahu who said, "These are not settlements. This is Jerusalem. This is our capital."  The Brits expel a top Israeli diplomat because of the forged passports debacle. Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith waits to see if we should do likewise, since Australian "identities" were also stolen (also Irish, French and German - in the assassination carried out on a Hamas top guy).  In Beijing the RioTinto (Australian) negotiators Stern Hu et al are on trial for "taking bribes" (I thought this was standard Chinese business dealing). They are the fall guys, the scapegoats.

So much for the world. Me, I am just back from Adelaide and the first two of my minor eye operations: this morning and on Monday two days ago. Next round, three weeks away and not next week as at first planned. It went well.

In Tasmania, post-election, there is a "hung parliament" where the two major parties look to have ten seats each and the Greens hold five, a great showing, which surely means they will have a strong role in a likely coalition. But with whom?

Here in S.A., Rann is gloating at the prospect of his Third Reich, sorry, third term as premier after Labor fell over the line to hang on to 24 seats, possibly even 25. No-one knows until all the postal  votes come in. There were strangely uneven swings away from Labor candidates in ALP-held constituencies, 7% to 10% being typical, but the previous margins were mostly enough to see these people returned. Jane Lomax-Smith lost her Adelaide seat and with it her Education portfolio. Michael Atkinson chose to retire as Attorney General. Today Lib leader Isobel Redmond graciously conceded that Rann's lot had won but promised to fight hard to form government four years from now. I for one will hope that the Premier does not last that long. The Greens did poorly in the state. Are we more apathetic than Tasmanians?

Friday, March 19, 2010


Well. tomorrow's the day. State elections in Tasmania and here in South Australia. Will Rann the Man survive? Will Libs in Opposition leader Isobel Redmond become the new State Premier? 24 hours from now the votes will be being cast, and by tea-time the counting will be under way. Will they care in Afghanistan? Nope. But for a few of us it will make some difference. Not that I support either of the main parties!

And of course, my own electorate Goyder is just about the safest Liberal seat in the whole state; farming country, deeply hostile to a perceived threat by the present administration to downgrade regional hospital facilities, and there are always city versus country issues. Sitting member Steven Griffiths is very popular, a capable and good bloke.

Who knows?

On Monday I have to be away to the city for the first of those four (SLT) eye operations.

Today I am treating myself to FoxSport coverage of the First Test between Australia and New Zealand in Wellington. The month's subscription for the sports channels is $16, but I intend it to be for one month only, remembering - or having the discipline - to cancel.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Note on Leadfoot Tommy Kouts: pre-electioneer

Go there to read some more about the latest grab for cheap low-shot votes on the looming S.A. state election. By none other than West Torrens member Koutsantonis, who, as our Road Traffic minister, accumulated many unpaid speeding fines (reports I've seen varied from claiming 30 to 100 of these). Beyond the serially illegal and dangerous behaviour is the deeper question of how he was able to (1) evade timely dealing with the matters, and (2) keep his licence. One supposes that ordinary citizens in such a position might find themselves doing jail time. TK is now - can you believe it? - Premier Rann's Correctional Services minister.

The new issue is his pamphlet campaign to stir up vigilante action - he claims it isn't - to curb unseemly sex activity in a park in his electorate. However, the substantial online responses, for and agin, include sour remarks from a number of local residents who say that this and other things of concern have been ignored by their political representatives (guess who?) for years, until now. Couple of weeks out from election day. Hmm. Gotta be coincidence. Thanks, BB, for the link.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hardly bearable

The week has flown. Last Saturday's fireworks opening of the Adelaide Festival has long since faded to black and I was amused to read in friend Bill's blog that he, at the same event, noted that SA Premier Rann was booed when he started his bombastic speech (before, that is, he even opened his mouth).

Yesterday our singer group gave a first for 2010 performance at Melaleuca Court Nursing Home. Next week we do another special 'gig' for the Senior Citizens Club in a different town, and meanwhile the creative souls are planning a program for the annual August Concert. Angie injured a knee a week ago but bravely showed up and even performed a duet with Denis as both singing partner and prop, as in propper-upper. Various teddy bears were in this performance as props for the famous TBs' picnic song which found its way into the final bracket for a lighthearted touch. A blend of the not-too-serious and downright ultralight is our trademark.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Film and Fireworks

Back again from a couple of nights in Adelaide where I spent one evening with friends, one of whom, Rosemary, spoke about her fascinating life (so far) which has involved many things from architecture admin work (with her father's firm) in the early days, librarianship qualifications and professional work, a wee spell of six years in England and various studies in archaeology, and significant research assistant posts at a university well-known to most of our little group. This year we expect to get together only half a dozen times with an agenda whereby individuals will share edited highlights of their careers, and some of the telling may even be factual. Who knows. In April it will be Anton's turn.
I saw two movies: James Cameron's Avatar (3D at the Piccadilly) and the well-told tale A Single Man (at Palace Cinema) for his performance in which Colin Firth has won a Best Actor Oscar. I took in one live performance as part of the Fringe Festival, in the Spiegel Tent (The Garden of Unearthly Delights) which was the one-hour two-hander  by soprano "Lilli La Scala" and her accompanist Daniel Brewster. The show was called War Notes, songs of the two World Wars interspersed with recorded reading of extracts from letters home by soldiers in more recent conflicts, notably from Iraq and Afghanistan. The performance space resembled, very effectively, a  fin de siecle music hall.

Bill and Robert, over from Tassie, invited me to join them for the Festival Opening fireworks display in Victoria Park. We walked across the parklands from Unley to get there. Big crowd. The display was showy if fairly meaningless, and spoiled at the start by Premier Rann's bombastic intro speech of self-promo. Maybe I was just feeling grumpy. Nothing new there.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Eyes Have It

Expedition yesterday there and back to Adelaide, round trip 472 km because I came back by the longer route via Arthurton and Maitland for the sake of the more winding scenic road in the evening light. Dark by the time I got  home, in time to see something of the winter Olympics - women's moguls, scary.

The visit to the state capital was my six monthly check up with the eye specialist at the Wakefield Clinic. Darn. He wants to do four laser surgery procedures next month, hopefully to better manage my glaucoma: the pressures within both eyes are double what they were at the last check, and I have not defaulted at all on the daily eye drops. So now I have a stronger medication, starting in about ten minutes from now, then morning and evening. But the laser - five minutes each time: OK to drive again from about one hour afterwards - is intended to do some judicial damage which prompts the body to go into repair mode and create new cells in the eye which (we hope) improves the interior fluid drainage. Therefore reduced pressure. Therefore reduced risk of later damage to the optic nerve.

Not exactly what I had planned for March.

While in town I saw the Guy Ritchie (dir.) movie Sherlock Holmes. Robert Downey Jr was a very different Holmes from the classic Basil Rathbone portrayals. I was the only person in the audience (Eastend Palace screen 6) and truth to tell I have not decided if I quite like the film, stylish though it is. I should disqualify myself from any critical opinion of the film because I dropped off for a short but stimulating nap after my early rise, and as good prep for another longish drive home. I only missed the trailers and opening credits!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wordniks and Silver Surfers

We discovered which is useful and fun. Not a dictionary only but a resource for finding and displaying words and phrases in actual use - especially culled from online sites - even if they do not appear already in published dictionaries.  It's free, always a great recommendation.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...

I did a smallish editing job (1,150 words) for a French client. It was accepted and rated 100% satisfactory, but there were glitches with delivery on line, so it was late being delivered. The client was understanding, and had received the text more or less on time by another means (a docx attachment) while the problem was sorted; something to do with an incompatibility  and my Firefox 3.6 version browser  not being recognized.

The last couple of days we're back to over 30 degree temperatures, not such a bad thing, but I like the cooler wearther. Soon enough it will be cool enough to call COLD and I will grizzle about THAT. However, we are blooming lucky not to be experiencing the nasty stuff in the northern hemisphere winter - snowstorms and killer chill conditions.

Our local Telecentre runs Wednesday arvo "Silver Surfer" sessions for us oldies, sharing and comparing computer needs and skills (zero to hero). I'd never gone along before, but the word is that the social synergy is worth a lot, quite apart from the learning (and/or teaching). Great concept.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A party and more music

Yep, another month already. We can stop saying Happy New Year when encountering someone for the first time since Christmas. Happy Mid-Year?  Too soon.

I have had my head down for some online editing work. It keeps me off the streets and out of mischief.

Wednesday this week we're back to our monthly schedule of concerts in nursing homes in this part of the planet; OK, a circle of 60km diameter will contain all of our audiences. This time I get to sing a duet in Spanish with A.E., the mysterious Spanish lady, known only to, umm, everybody in the group.

The combined Burns' Day and Australia Day Poetry Reading Party was reckoned a success, and we squashed 21 people into my front room. So it turned out a party ... I'd been pretending it was a sedate afternoon tea. Somebody listened to a few Johnny Cash & June Carter songs - and Jacqui has since donated a box of 50+ (different) song sheets with music scores. They were collected by her late husband Mel who was a keen musician. Now these gems will likely be added to the inventory curated by the indefatigable Elsie, and, of course, put to good use.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Australia Day Tomorrow

26 January is Australia's National Day. At my place there have been the usual pathetic attempts to make rooms look tidy for possible guests. The technique (I bet you  know it yourself) is to chuck stuff into one or maybe two sacrificial rooms which will be the no-go areas to visitors - or if they do, it's their own  fault - and  keep a straight face while trying to convey that this is all normal. There will be some grog and cool drinks unless the fridge goes on the blink. The odd nibble. In the grand country tradition our group of die-hard party-goers will in all likelihood come armed with quantities of tucker, known as "bring a plate". If not, no-one will go hungry. Besides it's an afternoon tea-with-poetry readings, not a blooming meal. Gwenda has emailed a program of nine readings as offered by participants. I see iconic Aussie names; C.J. Dennis, Henry Lawson, Dorothea McKellar and Banjo Paterson. The other end of the twin themes (Burns' Day 25 Jan. + Australia Day 26 Jan.) has Robert Burns's  To a Mouse (Tae a Moose).

The early forecast was for high 30s temperature, and currently this has ameliorated to 26 degrees expected.

The weather around the  various state capitals must have suited our cricketers well enough. They have gone 2-0 up in the five match series of ODIs versus the touring Pakistan team.

How lucky we are to be able to think of sport and afternoon teas: it is less than a fortnight since the disastrous  earthquakes which devastated Haiti - but seem to have left unharmed the Dominican Republic which shares the same island - caused  massive loss of life.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

vikings and cricket

Nope, the vikings didn't play cricket.

My title for this post to the blog is of the two separate things. Vikings (partly). Cricket - see below.

First, I have made headway with "pre-editing" - checking citations mostly - as online work for the publisher of an academic compilation to be published later this year in Europe: the book is about the period of history in northern Europe, especially Scandinavia, from the end of the viking era until about 1200. The dozen contributors are a mixed lot of nationalities. Simultaneously, another book with the same number of authors (each contributing a chapter), is receiving my attention, and this one's about Renaissance drama. That book's two academic editors with whom I mostly deal are based in Canada and Australia. The first book's two editors are, as it happens, in England and Norway although neither belongs to the country of current residence. It's complicated!

Time out today to catch up on the cricket between Australia and Pakistan coming from Bellerive Oval in Hobart. It is the third of the three Test Matches between the sides, and it has to be said that the home team appear well on top after their huge first innings total (8/519 declared) dismissing the others who did not reach a score enough to avoid a follow-on. However, Aus. Captain Ponting has chosen to bat and with two full days of play to go, Ricky Ponting should have the awkward luxury of deciding just when to declare, and still leave time to bowl the Pakistan side out, to register a three-nil win in the series. My guess: a declaration around lunchtime Sunday giving the opposition a run chase of (maybe a tick over) 400 runs. We'll see.

Gwenda kindly agrees to act as MC on Tuesday week for the curious event planned at my place on Australia day: poetry readings interspersed among chat and afternoon tea. Gwenda's brief is to break up fights, and generally say who's up next, banned, or told to shut up and sit.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hot and cold. Wellington Boots. Finding Neverland.

Adelaide just had another 40 degree day and today is expected to be as much as 43.  My place, across the St Vincent Gulf from the state capital, is more temperate - summer and winter - usually about 3 degrees better-off either way. Thus yesterday, a mere 37 Celsius. Of meteorological interest, the town of Maitland further north on the Yorke Peninsula seems always to have exactly the Adelaide temp.

Well, I did my before-brekkie stint at 6.45am outdoors before the heat realized I was there, and mortared a few more concrete blocks in my Great Wall of Will retaining wall:  my physical therapy for the day, good idea until I do summat dumb such as dropping a block on a toe. No, it hasn't happened. I do own a good pair of steel capped work boots - axe and chainsaw jobs for sure - but for these early morning jaunts it is old slip-on shoes or the true favourite, wellie boots.

They drive me mad, because every time I kneel in the dirt to use the trowel at low-level mortaring, the leading edges of the wellington boots scoop up what feels like a mugful of dry earth and gravel. And each time I empty a boot out, it is amazing that the amount is only, say, half an eggcupful.

As a bear of little brain, I might eventually work out the solution: DO NOT WEAR THE RUBBER BOOTS. I think this love of the boot must be a leftover from the pair I bought long ago in northern Sweden which were so comfortable that I wore them for many years for things you don't expect to do in rubber boots:  trotting up Scottish hills, even (a failed experiment) for cross-country ski-ing. Why so comfy? They had perfectly fitting smooth WOODEN insoles. Blooming marvellous. I tried them as fireside slippers, but the smell of burning rubber was a distraction. OK, no, that one's a fib.

The local deli is sold and the premises will become a vet clinic in February. Small towns are amazing. Ours has 650 denizens according to a guide book, so it is no surprise that the deli-seller is uncle of my former tenant up in the afore-mentioned town of Maitland, and the vet is pals with some of our recreational singing group. Everybody knows everybody else (you know the saying). Is this a Good Thing? Probably not!

Where was I?  Oh yes, the deli has a closing down sale on its DVD hire stock: I acquired my own copy of the hauntingly stylish film Finding Neverland whose leads include the extraordinary Johnny Depp as J.M.Barrie, the classic beauty Julie Christie as the formidable grandmother of the Llewelyn-Davies brothers, and brilliant young actor Freddie Highmore as Peter the brother on whom, supposedly, the Peter Pan character was based in Barrie's stage play just over a hundred years ago. The screenplay  gives Highmore the punchline. On the play's successful opening night, a society lady gushes, on meeting the real Peter after the show, "Ah, so THIS is Peter Pan!"  "I'm not Peter Pan," says Highmore's character forcefully. "HE is," gesturing to Depp's too-handsome J.M.Barrie, that complex little Scot from Dundee.

Great thing about so many DVDs are the special features. For Finding Neverland we have interviews with more than one of Barrie's biographers, including Andrew Birkin whose writings on the playwright's association with the Llewelyn-Davies family make compelling reading.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

German logic, Japanese From the Top Down

Bill blogs from Tasmania that he has finished another paper model. He has constructed some beauties, mostly of German design, he tells us. This new one, however, used a Japanese design. The table-top models are usually of famous buildings such as certain castles or cathedrals, or in this case the Palace of Westminster in the U.K.  That's right.  Well, the curiosity mentioned by Bill the Builder is that while the German designs always expect you to put it together from the base up ("more logical") the Japanese instructions require a top-down procedure. Models can take days or even weeks to assemble carefully. Think of a super-large jigsaw puzzle.

I have not the slightest idea what special insight to draw from this nugget of information.