Archive for November, 2009

30 November, 2009

Who woulda thunk it?

I logged into WordPress on Friday morning, thinking the name of my last post was a little clichéd and wanting to tweak it before it was read.  I was stunned to find that this little blog, which was getting a modest 3-4 hits a day (mostly from friends and family and searchers after ‘liberty’ and ‘ponyo’) had been hit 228 times overnight (and this number continued to climb over the next few days), all on account of the WordPress powers-that-be deciding that a two sentence post, and a few pictures of raucous Australian native birds with attitude was worthy of the WordPress front page.

Needless to say, I was chuffed.

Thank you to everyone who stopped by and left lovely comments.

27 November, 2009

Girl Friday

Un- and/or semi-employment certainly takes one down paths previously untrod.  Having fallen into a role where I am not, lamentably, capturing Cary Grant’s heart as a feisty, independent, sharp-nosed, story-busting journalist with a cache of quick ripostes (Hollywood shure don’t make dames like Hildy Johnson anymore!) but rather acting as an assistant to a retired businessman (but no less feisty, sharp-nosed and quick-witted as Hildy, I would like to think!), I have:

  • sat in the driver’s seat of a Jaguar (but, unfortunately, did not take it anywhere);
  • been called a ‘whore’ as I walked to work, by a young schoolboy who was, I suspect, attempting to impress his pimply friends with his knowledge about such grown-up matters;
  • drunk my fill and more of a stunning previously unseen panorama of Melbourne city (which I hope to capture soon);
  • looked high and low around the city’s public transport system for a missing bag of the businessman’s friend;
  • been privy to a wonderful cache of old photos taken by a gwai lo (trans. westerner) travelling through China during the 1960s; and
  • realised I will never best a sturdy Romanian woman in a contest of strength.

And re-familiarised myself with Melbourne, of course.

25 November, 2009

Polly Wanna Cracker

Australian natives birds have been bedeviling my early morning slumber with their raucous feeding chirps, squawks, twitters and in the case of the kookaburra, maniacal cackles. But when you’re up and about and you stumble upon them as you’re going about your daily business, boy, are they something to look at.

A kookaburra sunning itself at Como House.

A sulphur-crested cockatoo gorging itself in a fruit tree.

19 November, 2009

Road Trip

Raphael of Limoges (by way of London) was in town for the weekend. And what better way to show him Australia than by roadtrip? We drove around this beautiful coastline (and had to change a flat tyre), stopped by this café in Woodend, got lost here and descended via the steep way mountain-goat style, leaping and sidling from ledge to ledge, admired the genteel mansions here.  And finally, as Sunday afternoon shadows lengthened, stumbled across this gorgeous little winery owned by the friendly Hudspeth Stevenson family and indulged in the good life.

And, in the balmy, golden sunlight under the shade of a tree, we toasted London friends who are no doubt battening down the hatches for the oncoming winter, with a little sparkling,

Idyllic, really.

13 November, 2009

Patina Overload

Whimsy. Antique. Nostalgia. Vintage. These things are everywhere. Blame it on modern times, when houses are prefab and goods are made to break. Blame it on a shaky, unstable economy, on a shaky, unstable world view and a yearning for the ‘good, old days’ when you knew what was what and where things were going. Whatever the reasons, there has been an explosion of demand for all things old. Which has led – predictably – in this age when anything you want can be bought, to a supply of all things old. Some of these are truly old. But any number are fabricated to give this effect.

I’m not immune from this trend. I love old things, old clothes, old places. And I love them also when they have been ‘antiqued’ well. But the proliferation of things, clothes, places which profess to be old, but aren’t is becoming quite overwhelming. Sometimes, you just want a thing, a place which does what it says on the can.

Perhaps a vain hope in this post-modern (or is it post-post now?) society. But I was passing through Oakleigh, a Melbourne suburb, a few weeks ago and stumbled across a shop selling lawnmowers. It was a room, with a counter at the back, and about 10 to 15 lawnmowers laid out on the floor. Perhaps the prices were attached or nearby. But that was it. There was no artifice, no decoration, no frivolity. It simply did what it said on the can. And it was as if my overloaded eyes had drunk a cool, refreshing glass of clear, spring water.

These images from Queensland artist Natalie have caught something of my mood.


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6 November, 2009

On yer bike, son!

Dale’s new bike (a ‘Solo’ by Kiwi brand Avanti) is a retro-style beauty.  I’m no bike expert but I do love the slim frame, the black and white detailing, the straight handlebars, the ‘Solo’ ribbon insignia, the bright white seat (which Dale’s new jeans were staining navy!). I was told that functionally, a large part of the bike’s appeal was the fixed wheel and brake gears options.  But I was too busy cooing over the white detail of the tyres.

If this bike were a shoe, it would be definitely be a 1930’s black and white men’s wingtip shoe. And it would be tapdancing à la Fred Astaire. Or cutting a fine rug through town à la Gene Kelly.

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4 November, 2009


Music has taken a bit of a backseat in my life of late.  I’m still always keen to hear from music-obsessed mates about the latest, greatest band and the gigs they’re going to.  But it seems to be something which I have, for the moment, literally relegated to the background.

That said, a track shared by a friend months ago (thanks, Hoppo!) recently wormed its way into my consciousness with its recitation of over seventy great writers and tongue-in-cheek comments about each.  A perfect marriage of literature, music and wit.

Take it away, Mr Neil Hannon…

“this book deals with epiphenomenalism, which has to do with consciousness as a mere accessory of physiological processes whose presence or absence… makes no difference… whatever are you doing? “

Aphra Benn: Hello
Cervantes: Donkey
Daniel Defoe: To christen the day!
Samuel Richardson: Hello
Henry Fielding: Tittle-tattle tittle-tattle…
Lawrence Sterne: Hello
Mary Wollstonecraft: Vindicated!
Jane Austen: Here I am!
Sir Walter Scott: We’re all doomed!
Leo Tolstoy: Yes!
Honoré de Balzac: Oui
Edgar Allen Poe: Aaaarrrggghhhh!
Charlotte Brontë: Hello
Emily Brontë: Hello
Anne Brontë: Hellooo…?
Nikolai Gogol: Vas chi
Gustav Flaubert: Oui
William Makepeace Thackeray: call me ’William Makepeace Thackeray’
Nathaniel Hawthorne: The letter ’A’
Herman Melville: Ahoy there!
Charles Dickens: London is so beautiful at this time of year…
Anthony Trollope: Good-good-good-good evening!
Fyodor Dostoevsky: Here come the sleepers…
Mark Twain: But I can’t even spell ’Mississippi’!
George Eliot: George reads German
Emile Zola: J’accuse!
Henry James: Howdy Miss Wharton!
Thomas Hardy: Ooo-arrr!
Joseph Conrad: I’m a bloody boring writer…
Katherine Mansfield: [cough cough]
Edith Wharton: Well hello, Mr James!
DH Lawrence: Never heard of it
EM Forster: Never heard of it!

(Chorus) Happy the man, and happy he alone who in all honesty can call today his own;
He who has life and strength enough to say ’yesterday’s dead & gone – I
want to live today’

James Joyce: Hello there!
Virginia Woolf: I’m losing my mind!
Marcel Proust: Je m’en souviens plus
F Scott Fitzgerald: Baa bababa baa
Ernest Hemingway: I forgot the….
Hermann Hesse: Oh es ist alle so häßlich
Evelyn Waugh: Whoooaarr!
William Faulkner: Tu connait William Faulkner?
Anaïs Nin: The strand of pearls
Ford Maddox Ford: Any colour, as long as it’s black!
Jean-Paul Sartre: Let’s go to the dome, Simone!
Simone de Beauvoir: C’est exact present
Albert Camus: The beach… the beach
Franz Kafka: What do you want from me?!
Thomas Mann: M’am
Graham Greene: Call me ’pinky’, lovely
Jack Kerouac: Me car’s broken down…
William S Burroughs: Wowwww!


Kingsley Amis: [cough]
Doris Lessing: I hate men!
Vladimir Nabokov: Hello, little girl…
William Golding: Achtung Busby!
JG Ballard: Instrument binnacle
Richard Brautigan: How are you doing?
Milan Kundera: I don’t do interviews
Ivy Compton Burnett: Hello
Paul Theroux: Have a nice day!
Gunter Grass: I’ve found snails!
Gore Vidal: Oh, it makes me mad!
John Updike: Run rabbit, run rabbit, run, run, run…
Kazuro Ishiguro: Ah so, old chap!
Malcolm Bradbury: Stroke John Steinbeck, stroke JD Salinger
Iain Banks: Too orangey for crows!
AS Byatt: Nine tenths of the law, you know…
Martin Amis: [burp]
Brett Easton Ellis: Aaaaarrrggghhh!
Umberto Eco: I don’t understand this either…
Gabriel García Márquez: Mi casa es su casa
Roddy Doyle: Ha ha ha!
Salman Rushdie: Names will live forever…

– The Booklovers from Promenade by The Divine Comedy

For reference, the chorus is apparently taken from Horace’s Ode to Man (thanks, Wiki!).


Some of my 'to read' pile

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