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.

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