Saturday, 31 May 2008

Lunch at Palm Beach

Hn organised lunch for us today at Palm Beach. It was Ae's birthday last Tuesday and also our first chance to get to the Palm Beach house since Ds' death.

It was a beautiful sunny, though cool, day and the view from the back deck (below) its usual perfect backdrop for lunch. My contribution was an Apricot and Almond Cream Cake (store bought) whilst the main lunch was the usual variety of quiches, salads and chicken dishes. For once I ate modestly and resisted the temptation for seconds.

Late in the afternoon we went for a walk along the Pittwater side beachfront. It was far quieter than it would be on a Summer's evening and there were only a few signs of occupancy in the waterside houses (below).

We returned along the beachfront as the sun was setting behind the peninsula to the west (below).

The Palm Beach house (below) was a friendly and inviting sight as we returned to it in the gathering dark.

The drive home took its usual hour and as always after a day up at 'Palmie' I felt as though I was returning from a relaxing holiday.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Dead start

The day did not start well. My car battery was dead apparently from leaving my headlights on yesterday. I had to call the NRMA to give me a jump start.

I don't recall turning the headlights on yesterday and as I drove home at 4.30pm it wasn't, to my recollection, sufficiently dark to require the headlights to be on. I suppose it is possible I somehow accidentally turned on the lights as I left the car but that doesn't explain why I didn't hear the warning buzzer if the lights were left on.

Anyway the jump start worked immediately and I then drove to work via a scenic drive to Watsons Bay and back in order to fully recharge the battery. This meant I arrived at the hospital fully ninety minutes later than usual. Luckily as a volunteer this slippage in timekeeping is not the issue it can be for paid staff.

The day picked up to the point where I became the flattered subject of a tug of war between two areas each wanting me to work for them from next week. I left the hospital at 3.15pm with the issue still unresolved. The volunteer manager will need the wisdom of Solomon to meet the competing needs of the two areas and at this stage I don't know which of the areas I will be working for on Monday.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

...but I didn't really care.

I saw this movie two weekends ago and have only now got around to posting about it. The film is pretty dull and I have to admit that I dozed off several times so it is always possible but unlikely that thrilling moments occurred whilst I was asleep.

Francis McDormand is the sacked and penniless Governess who tricks her way into a position as assistant for Amy Adams' aspiring American starlet. There follows a French style farce set in English society all on her first day with the anachronistic Marilyn Monroe-like Adams.

McDormand is an odd choice for this role which apparently was intended for Emma Thompson; who would be a far more likely Pettigrew. Perhaps McDormand is the name that would sell tickets for this film in the USA.

The film looks fine and there are a number of attractive men to suit gay tastes; but no 'Muscle Marys' in sight. Lee Pace is the brooding piano player, Ciaran Hinds the debonair mature man and Tom Payne plays the pretty boy English twit. It is left to Payne to appear nude providing some interest for lovers of arse and/or armpits.

May suit desperate insomniacs.

Good stripper cop/bad stripper cop

(Taken from The New Yorker)

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Lunch by the river

Driving through Rushcutters Bay this morning (above) on my way to the Day Centre. Fairly typical traffic levels although the left hand lane in the Cross City Tunnel, which carries traffic into the Eastern CBD and the cross harbour routes, was surprisingly free of traffic.

Today was outing day for the Day Centre with lunch at the Drummoyne Sailing Club. Although the day was dull and cloudy, it was still pleasant by the Parramatta River (see below).

Most of the Day Centre visitors stuck to the seniors' burgers (chicken or beef) although some ventured to try a wrap and one was happy to pay extra for fish and chips. I settled for a chicken wrap. A few raced off to play the poker machines in the time between lunch and when we rounded them up to board the buses for the journey home.

Da (the other volunteer) and I enjoy these outings. There is far less washing up for us to do as we only have to deal with morning tea at the home before the outing commences. After that our only duty seems to be toilet escort for the frailer visitors.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I joined the throngs (well, plenty of others at least) to see Indiana-4 at Bondi Junction last evening.

Harrison Ford displays youthful energy battling Cate Blanchett to locate the mythical power skull. 'Battling' may be overstating it as Ford seems to acquiesce with every Blanchett demand. And why wouldn't he? Blanchett is all Mata Hari mystique rather than menace as the film's villain.

Abetting Ford is Shia LaBeouf who manages to successfully 'channel' Marlon Brando, Fonzie, Tarzan and Douglas Fairbanks Jr in a charming performance.

Steven Spielberg has repeated the formula of the previous three Indiana films and produced what is basically a carbon copy of them in this latest incarnation of the franchise.

The occasional dull moment does not detract from two hours of familiar entertainment.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Getting busy....and what did I miss?

As the Two Ronnies might have said, "In a packed day....".

I was quite busy after dropping Mt off at the airport this morning.

I'd noticed on the drive to the Airport that the traffic heading back into the CBD on Southern Cross Drive was chock-a-block so I took an alternative journey home via Randwick which gave me a convenient excuse to stop at the cake shop there to pick up some Apple Slices and Lamingtons. I have a sweet tooth and very basic taste in cakes and will get stuck into them later.

Then to Edgecliff for some essential shopping at Coles. Back home, I got through three loads of laundry and when done it still was not quite midday. With plenty of time ahead of me, I drove up to Bondi Junction where I tried on and purchased a pair of black walking sneakers at Rebel and then moved on to the Mall where I purchased a bagel for lunch.

Still plenty of time available so I drove to the car wash in Cleveland Street for a badly needed cleanup for my Corolla. Finished reading my current book, Survivors, just as my car was ready for collection and then returned home.

Then I spent the afternoon catching up with my regular blog list which I'd not been able to get to for the past week whilst Mt was in town. I was amazed at the number of fellow gay bloggers who had watched the Eurovision Song Contest.

I hadn't watched this event since I'd lived in London back in 1974/75. In fact I had never had the inclination to do so since then. Obviously I'm missing something that so many of my gay brothers find unmissable. I better take a peek when it returns in 2009.

It will seem strange to get back to bridge tonight. I haven't played for over a week.

Home alone

This morning I dropped Mt at the airport. If the flight left on time Mt should now be in the air and about half way home to Ballina.

It was good to have someone at home the past week sharing experiences and enjoyment but now I am back to my solo state and doing the week's laundry.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Farewell dinner

Mt took me to dinner tonight to thank me for the past week before returning to Ballina in the morning.

I chose Una's Restaurant in Darlinghurst. I haven't eaten there in a while. The meals are certainly hearty in size and the casual, kitsch atmosphere make the restaurant a pleasant place especially when it is as busy as it was tonight.

Against both our better judgements we ordered a dessert following our main meal but at least had the sense to share one between ourselves. The servings are so large it is easy to overindulge.

Breakfast at Italy

Before dropping Mt off in the city for the final day of the Writers' Festival we had breakfast at Bill and Tony's. I selected this venue as an interesting example for Mt of Sydney inner city life.

It proved to be a fortuitous choice as unbeknown to me the surrounding streets are the venue today for the Primo Italian Festival. Organisers were completing their stalls as we arrived and many were already stocked with tempting goodies. We enjoyed taking in the early atmosphere of the event.

We selected the same breakfast; egg and bacon, tomato and toast. Not the healthiest breakfast but very tasty.

Our time at the Sydney Writers' Festival

Mt has bookings for three ticketed sessions at the Festival today and is attending these without me. Unlike Mt, I didn't pre-book for any sessions for this final day of the 2008 Festival and am happy to have a quiet day at home after our hectic attendance over the preceding three days. This gives me the chance to update my blog before Mt returns later this evening.

We attended some sessions together and split up for others. This is a quick run down of the sessions I attended.

Thursday's sessions -

#58 Chris Masters: Jonestown & the Nieman Conference. For overseas readers, the Jonestown referred to here is the title of Masters' unauthorised biography of Alan Jones a high profile personality in Australia (especially in NSW and Queensland). An entertaining session focusing mainly on Jones' alleged and real political influence and of his closeted sexuality as well as the hurdles Masters faced in producing and publishing his work.

#67 Just Words: Australian Authors Writing for Justice. Bernadette Brennan discussed the relationship between writing and justice with (her brother) Frank Brennan, Anita Heiss and Gail Jones. Only Jones focused on the triggers which led her to question ethical matters through her writing. The others seemed more interested in promoting their work than in explaining their motivations. Interesting but not too revealing of the authors.

#78 Growing Old Disgracefully. As an almost official senior citizen I was attracted to the notion of this session which turned out to be of mixed quality. Professor Ross Fitzgerald and Anne Deveson spoke amusingly about their ageing lives but Margaret Fink and Robin Williams were less successful, especially Williams whose seemingly ill prepared presentation did not really relate to the topic and could have been a bawdy speech for a buck's night.

Fitzgerald's amusing anecdotes included the time when he told his wife that he wasn't feeling very well. She looked back at him before retorting "Darling, the pyramids were built by thousands of people who didn't feel very well". I rather liked that comment.

#96 Matthew Condon in Conversation with Mary Kostakidis. This was a discussion about Condon's novel The Trout Opera which quite frankly did not sound like my sort of novel. However, Condon is an amusing speaker and I find him to be a sexy looking forty-six year old so I was happy to cast my eyes at him for a lazy hour.

Friday's sessions -

#129 Australian Classics. Jane Gleeson-White discussed their views of the classic works of Australian literature with Christos Tsiolkas, Sophie Cunningham and Georgia Blain. This was a lively and entertaining session, all four participants given the opportunity to present their contrasting views. A bonus, as I had hoped when selecting this session, is that Tsiolkas is another good looking forty-something man.

#141 Behind The Scenes. Lisa Forrest and Patrick Lindsay discussed Australia's involvement at and boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games and the missing Diggers of Fromelles. In selecting this session, I wasn't sure what the link between the two episodes was but this was explained as both being occurrences beyond the control of those who participated which in both instances left a lasting trauma. I wasn't aware that Australia suffered its greatest loss of life in a single day at Fromelles. Quite an interesting session.

#155 The Simple Life. In these times of excessive consumption, Michael Pollan and Elizabeth Farrelly discussed why we find it hard to abandon habits we know to be destructive. This was an important topic but both speakers (and the moderator) were gentle, softly spoken people who turned the session into a soporific experience for me. I kept drifting off.

#171 Thrilling Tales. Two mystery thriller writers discussed their work. Michael White and Michael Robotham were well matched speakers relating how they approached their latest novels (respectively) The Medici Secret and Shatter. It was interesting to hear about the points of similarity and contrast in their styles of research and writing. An easy listening session compared with the previous one.

Saturday's sessions -

#223 Luke Davies in Conversation. The author of Candy and The God of Speed discussed his work. I found him a very likeable individual. He came across as easygoing, without airs and graces and he spoke engagingly and frankly. Davies provided insights into Heath Ledger's participation in the film version of Candy.

#238 The Lives of Others. Biographers, Hermione Lee and Simon Sebag Montefiore discussed the art of biography illustrated by their works on Edith Wharton and Joseph Stalin. Another interesting session, the two authors sharing fascinating as well as humorous examples of their experiences researching their subjects. Montefiore related his efforts to locate the remains of Prince Potemkin, lover of Catherine the Great. He was led a merry chase through various cemeteries and countries each housing parts of the deceased Prince but none contained the remains of his organ. A pity as the myth is that Catherine the Great had a plaster cast made of his organ for use(?) whilst he was absent from the country for years at a time.

#257 The Lost Art of Oratory. Former politicians Bob Carr and Margaret Reynolds together with former speech writers Graham Freudenberg and Lucinda Holdforth discussed the potential for Australian oratory. This was an excellent session. The four speakers, so different in style, provided a glimpse into the world of speech giving that had a large audience enthralled. Their insider anecdotes enlivened the presentations.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Billy Elliot The Musical

Mt and I attended Billy Elliot The Musical on Thursday night.

The woman who sold us our tickets told us we were 'in for a treat' and she was correct. The musical follows the original film storyline reasonably faithfully. The performance was full of energy. The children performers are immensely talented and Rhys Kowsakowski, the Billy who performed that night (there are four who rotate in the role) was outstanding.

The scene in which he dances Swan Lake with his adult alto ego gave me goosebumps.

There are the occasional flat moments and some stereotype humour but the overall impact of the show was highly pleasurable and memorable.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

A day in the park

Mt and I enjoyed a lovely day in the Royal National Park yesterday. We explored from Bundeena in the north to Stanwell Park in the south.

The following photo taken from Otford Lookout looks south over the Pacific Ocean with Sea Cliff Bridge barely visible in the middle distance. We walked along this bridge set out over the ocean to protect users from rock falls from the adjoining escarpment.

Wattamolla Beach (below) provided a tranquil and secluded contrast and we spent an hour walking a trail there.

There were quite a few other visitors on this sunny weekday but not so many as to spoil the tranquility of the park.

The visitors included a lot of sexy motor cyclists providing attractive eye candy. Muzbot might let me know if there is some secret that attracts so many motor cyclists to the park. (I'm not complaining!)

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Preparing for a visitor

Mt arrives tomorrow for a week's stay during which we will be attending sessions of the Sydney Writers Festival.

There is nothing like cleaning up the apartment in preparation for a guest to make you realise how much mess you put up with in your normal life. I think of myself as a neat freak with everything in it's place as the norm but tidying the apartment today turned into a major production as I realised just how much needed to be done.

I may not have much opportunity to post whilst Mt is around. In that case, this blog will be quiet until I am back to my usual solo lifestyle on Monday week.

World Youth Day

World Youth Day (WYD) is coming to Sydney. It is a religious extravaganza that like the Olympics seems to occur every four years or so. It has no relevance for me but I appreciate that it is an event of significance for others.

Our state Government keeps telling us WYD will be bigger than the Sydney Olympics and bring greater benefits. The Government, which is pouring millions of public (ie our) dollars into this event, would say that, wouldn't they? Many have suspected the event will underachieve in promised benefits and overachieve in inconvenience.

The latter suspicion is starting to materialise. New traffic signs have suddenly appeared on roadsides all around Randwick Racecourse and surrounding suburbs. Although the racecourse is kilometres away from where I live, the traffic signs extend much closer.

I have a sense of dread that I will be drawn into this hoopla whether I am interested or not. And not just for a day either; this 'day' apparently lasts for a week.


21.....blackjack.....pontoon.....or whatever.

Jim Sturgess is the student whiz kid in need of funds to pay for his education who is recruited by his teacher, Kevin Spacey, to join a team of bright students who use a memory scheme to win big at the casinos in Las Vegas.

I took a shine to Sturgess in The Beatles music movie Across The Universe and I have always enjoyed Spacey as an actor. They are the best aspects of this movie; Sturgess appealing as the shy, good boy at heart and Spacey doing his specialist turn as the devil in disguise.

The rest of the cast is less interesting in a movie where it is best not to think logically or too carefully about the massive holes in the plot. Otherwise, the movie filled in two hours late on a cold Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Passing glances....

Most gay men know about the look.

The look is that subliminal message you send to another man or if you are lucky another man sends you. It's all in the eyes and the message can be complex.

'I'm interested' or

'I'm interested in you, are you interested in me?' or

'I'm interested, have you someplace to go?' or

'I'm interested but I only have ten minutes, what about you?' or

'I'm desperate, will you take me!'

And all sorts of other messages too, all of them saying in one way or another that I'm gay and I hope/think you are too.

Having spent more than 45 years in a gay life (yes I started young) you'd think I would recognise the look instantly when it is aimed at me, particularly at my age when 'invitations' are scarcer and especially when made by a much younger man.

Yet, I missed two golden opportunities in the past two days; at least I think I did.

Yesterday a young dark haired man appraised me with his eyes at the local shopping centre. He wasn't as absolutely stunning looking as the Brazilian model in the photograph above but he was in the same neighbourhood. I was so not expecting to be given the come-on by someone like him that I was slow to react. Actually I reacted more like a stunned mullet. Opportunity lost.

Then this afternoon, I think I was given the come-on again in the car park of my apartment complex. This time it was a very pleasant looking man in his 30s with an inviting, friendly smile. Perhaps he was just being polite but it took me a crucial moment to realise (or was that 'hope') that I was being given the look. In any event, a second opportunity lost as I failed to give him the return look and he disappeared into the building. I suppose there is some chance with him if he is a new resident in which case I might bump into him in the future.

I really need to improve my reflexes.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Making a day of it

Yesterday's funeral turned into a day's event.

I picked Be up from Edgecliff Station at 9.45 and drove us to Northern Suburbs Crematorium. It took only about 15 minutes using the various tollways/tunnels and most of the other mourners were already in attendance for the service which got underway at 10.30.

Hn had arranged a beautiful service. Je, Ae, Ty and Ce all delivered delightful eulogies/recollections. The celebrant spoke well and set a nice balance between sadness and joy for Ds' life and passing.

The wake was arranged for the nearby Atlantis Restaurant, a Chinese cuisine venue. They also specialise in catering for wakes being situated only minutes between two cemeteries. There was a tasty selection of hot savouries, sandwiches and rolls.

At about 2.00, those of us still in attendance at the restaurant adjourned to Hn's for an 'after-wake' wake. Lots of reminiscences and laughs followed until we decided to break up the party at 6.15. I dropped Be of at home rather than just dumping him at the station and then got caught in the awful evening peak traffic on Cleveland Street when returning home.

Back to the hospital today where it was a relatively quiet day for admissions. I was able to finish by 3.00. Back home and I was feeling pretty frisky. Luckily a mate was online so I engaged him in a bit of a cyber chit chat 'with extras'.

Now that that's done, I've started on the week's laundry and will settle down later for some crime night viewing on ABC1.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Another farewell

When you are approaching the age for a Seniors Card like I am you start to have more doctor's appointments and there are more funerals to attend.

Ds died last Friday, five days after suffering a stroke. His passing was a relief as his quality of life at the nursing home had deteriorated although carers there had worked miracles to make his last years as comfortable as possible. Ds is now at peace.

I'm sure Ds' funeral this morning will be a joyous celebration of his life so I hope I do not seem disrespectful by posting this cartoon.

Hn rang me last night whilst she was sorting through old photos of Ds to display today. I reminded her of my ongoing memory of Ds in younger days with bare torso and his balls hanging loose from his ill fitting budgie smugglers (they're Speedo swimsuit briefs for the uninitiated). I know we took photos of Ds in his balls free glory! I wonder if Hn is game to use any of those at the funeral?

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

State of Origin

Mt is coming to Sydney next week and we will be attending sessions at the Sydney Writers' Festival.

As it happens the first State of Origin (SOO) Rugby League match for 2008 will be played at Sydney's Olympic Stadium on Wednesday and Mt wants to see it. I booked tickets which were debited against my credit card last month but haven't yet arrived. I rang the member's information line today and they said my tickets were sent on 28 April. Evidently they have gone astray, so the Stadium will reissue my tickets and send them out today.

Mt, being a Queenslander, will be barracking for the Maroons but I, a born and bred New South Welshman, will be cheering on the Blues. I haven't seen a SOO match in years since they switched to Wednesday nights which is one of my bridge nights.

They are usually testosterone fuelled nights...and that's just in the grandstand.


After visiting my mother on Mothers Day I went to see Smother the story of a wacky mother who deposits herself on her son and daughter in law at Halloween after her husband has an affair.

Diane Keaton plays the mother. I rather like Keaton, although I'm not certain about her acting skills as she always seems to present the same characteristics on screen regardless of the role she is playing.

Her first appearance in this movie is dressed as a pumpkin. It's all downhill after this. The dialogue seems to have been written with three year olds in mind and indeed is delivered by the actors in a style you'd expect of kindergarten teachers speaking to their charges.

This is a comedy but I didn't laugh until five minutes from the end during a funeral scene in which the eulogies run riot. I couldn't recommend anyone paying full cinema ticket prices to see this unless you like seeing cute dogs which perhaps were included when it was realised the film isn't funny.

There is one moment of interest early on for gay voyeurs like me when Michael White who plays the nerdy cousin Myron (what else!) appears in a tight Halloween outfit with his package clearly outlined. (If anyone is interested, he dresses to the right.) It was such an odd moment I kept expecting to see some reference to the scene later in the movie but that never occurred.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The Serpent's Teeth

Last night's subscription performance at the Sydney Theatre Company
was the double bill of Daniel Keene's one act plays Citizens and Soldiers.

Citizens portrays the lives of people overshadowed by the barrier of a confining wall. Although the program notes suggest the play's 'wall' is of a universal nature the play itself makes it quite clear that the wall in question is the one Israel built to keep Palestinians at bay. This play contains a sequence of vignettes of people trying to pursue their lives hindered by artificial and unfair obstacles.

Soldiers portrays people gathered in an aircraft hanger awaiting the return from Iraq of the bodies of loved ones. Another series of vignettes has the people questioning themselves, their loved ones and each other; in effect one long 'what does it all mean'.

Whilst both plays concerned issues worthy of dramatic interpretation neither of the works enthused Mk or myself. Citizens frankly seemed pointless as it raised nothing remarkable nor particularly thought provoking. Soldiers was tiresome, the playwright apparently aiming to make great poetic statements with each vignette only to produce a narrative of confused statements.

Mk summed it up in a word as we departed the theatre; 'pretentious'.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Rock n Roll

Mk and I saw this Tom Stoppard play on Thursday evening.

The story is set across twenty years from the Czech 'spring' of political awakening in 1968 to 1987. Scenes alternate between Cambridge in England and Prague. Act 1 focuses on political issues whilst Act 2, seemingly another play, is all about the relationships of the characters.

I am not an overly intelligent or analytical man and generally find Stoppard too complex. I can enjoy the wit in his writing and the surface elements of his storylines but I rarely decipher the deeper meaning of his work.

So it was no surprise to me that I didn't 'get' this work. I was not alone. It was noticeable that quite a few patrons did not resume their seats after the interval. However many who stayed did enjoy the play very much judging by the enthusiastic applause they accorded the performance at the end. Mk thought the play was wonderful. So did Rt and Jy from the bridge club who we ran into in the foyer during interval.

The acting was quite strong although I was baffled by Matthew Newton's on/off East European accent. As usual Mk found an explanation for this oddity but his theory just confirmed my ongoing lack of understanding of Stoppard.

I might have had a greater appreciation of this play had I known about and read this site before seeing it.

Iron Man

I saw this movie last Thursday encouraged by positive reviews and the participation of Robert Downey Jr, whose acting I admire. As an aside, how old do you have to be before you no longer are known by the 'Jr' tag?

Robert Downey Jr plays a genius armaments entrepreneur living the lavish and irresponsible lifestyle who is kidnapped whilst in Afghanistan and forced to produce missiles for the enemy. He uses his genius to escape and takes on the new double life of super hero and 'good guy'.

I'm a bit tired of these super hero films and found the Spiderman series quite dull. However I agree with the reviewers to the extent that this film is a cut above the recent offerings in this genre. This movie has a stronger screenplay and the benefit of Downey's acting skills. An almost unrecognisable Jeff Bridges also contributes strongly. Its computerised 'geewizzery' is extremely well done and I have to say the Iron Man suit looked surprisingly sexy to me.

The movie is not without some dull moments too but if you must see a super hero movie you can do a lot worse than making this the one to view.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Mothers Day

Today is Mothers Day.

My dear mother has Alzheimers and is in the care of a nursing home. I will be seeing her today and if it's one of the good days she will remember my name and know who I am.

Regardless, I will tell her what I tell her on every visit. I love her very much.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Jack Gibson 1929 - 2008

Jack Gibson who revolutionised coaching in Rugby League died yesterday aged seventy-nine.

His emergence as a coach coincided with the introduction of limited tackle rules and his methods were widely adopted. He was the master of the laconic one-liner.

He will retain a permanent place in the memory of Australian sport.

'Played good, done fine.'

Holiday weekend recap #4

Monday, the last morning. Gg purchased the morning papers again but there wasn't too much reading time. We tidied up the apartment which took quite a while and packed our things, placing the bags in the cars.

We decided that breakfast should be at Northcliff SLSC. The walk to the club was leisurely. It was the Labour Day public holiday in Queensland so the holiday mood still surrounded us.

After signing into the club we were allocated a table by the window overlooking the beach which was active with early bathers and sunseekers (see below). The morning sun was strong so we soon relocated ourselves to another table.

The club's breakfast menu was extensive and pleasingly inexpensive too boot. Mt and Ll ordered the 'healthy' breakfast but the rest of us stuck to the weekend's theme of eating heartily and 'bugger' the diet.

Ll disappeared into the poker (slot) machine room after a while and within minutes had won two jackpots and was hundreds of dollars to the better. How lucky is that?

It was time for me to get to the airport. Mt and I said our goodbyes to the others who were going to remain at the club a while longer and we walked back to the apartment to Mt's car.

Just as well we left when we did because we struck a traffic jam on the way to the airport and Mt dropped me off there just 5 minutes before checkin time for my flight was to close. Mt continued off home to Ballina.

It was at checkin that I was told about the flight cancellations that I reported earlier. Instead of returning home at about 2pm as I was expecting, it was to be 6.45pm when I finally opened the door to my apartment.

Despite the irritation of the delayed return home, the weekend was a relaxing, fun time. And we are booked to do it again this time on the Sunshine Coast in July.

Blind date

A favourite blogger of mine, Steven, has posted about a blind date he experienced this week.

This reminded me of blind dates I have had. One was with a school teacher I met on a chat line. We chatted online for several days and seemed to be getting along and so arranged to meet in the city for a coffee and....whatever might follow. There was, I thought, a clear understanding that if we also were getting along in person over coffee that our dessert would be a 'roll in the hay'.

I turned up for the date at the appointed place full of expectation and not a little bit horny too. I saw him before he saw me. I called out to him and was about to introduce myself when he said 'I have some shopping to do and can only spare 30 minutes for coffee'. Apparently in that instant of seeing me, he had summed me up and decided that he wasn't impressed with what he saw.

I should have said 'thanks, but no thanks' there and then but trying to remain polite I went ahead with a quick coffee and chat with him. He made his exit promptly on 30 minutes leaving me to pay the bill which he didn't offer to share.

Bye bye teacher.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Italian overload

From the ridiculous to the sublime. After today's 'tuck shop' lunch, it was dinner tonight at Gigi at 379 King Street Newtown. This casual and lively restaurant was the venue where we shared a delicious meal of five, count em, five pizzas, four pasta dishes, two seafood salad dishes and what by then was superfluous - three desserts.

'We' comprised Jn who selected the restaurant and the menu, Ne, Sm, a svelte Pl who has lost 12 kilos in recent months, Ec and myself. Six men with strong appetites and we made short work of this substantial meal.

I can recommend this restaurant although Jn suggests don't order their lasagne.

Holiday weekend recap #3

Sunday, once again a beautiful clear sunny day.

This time Gg was delegated to purchase the papers to avoid the oversupply of the previous morning. We had sufficient food for a breakfast of yoghurt, fresh fruit, toast and jam (rice crackers for the health conscious Mt).

By mid-morning we were ready for a walk and this time we headed north for the Sodom and Gomorrah of Surfers Paradise. The patrolled beaches (photo below) all looked inviting; the sand and water clean and glistening in the sun.

There seems no end to the excesses of building heights on this part of the coast. The Q1 building (photo below) claims to be the tallest residential building in the southern hemisphere at about 71 stories and I noticed a building site nearby advertising a 77 stories building for completion in 2010.

Whilst meandering northward, I received a call from Rt inviting us to join he and Jy at Brannigan's Pub for an afternoon of drinking and television watching barracking for the Sydney Swans who were playing a match that day. However we were all footballed out and declined the invitation.

Not everyone likes Surfers Paradise. The high rise environment (photo below) is not especially attractive with building after building blocking each others' views, casting unwelcome shadows.

Whilst on our walk we purchased fresh rolls, thin cuts of steak, barbecue sauce and eggs which he took back to the apartment where we enjoyed steak sandwiches for lunch. We passed the Northcliff SLSC on the way back. It looked more attractive than the Kurrawa club of the previous day and we made a note of it as a potential venue for breakfast the next morning. The weekend was turning into a series of meals intersperced with planning for meals.

The afternoon was spent in further lazing about before we embarked on our second walk of the day, an aimless gentle walk which turned into an excuse for the drinkers to purchase more beer, spirits and mixers for the balance of the weekend.

As evening approached talk naturally turned to thoughts of the evening meal. Consensus was reached and we picked up three family size pizzas from a nearby restaurant. We rounded off the night watching two episodes of Poirot, all of us correctly guessing 'whodunit' in the first episode before the master revealed all.

Those of us who were still awake ended the evening watching the 1957 version of A Town Like Alice. I had never seen any filmed version of this Neville Shute novel. It was very enjoyable.

School days...

A step back in time today as I toured my old school for the first time since my graduation there 43 years ago. Nine of us from my year lined up for a 'tuck shop' lunch. We were amazed at the range of food and drinks on offer, never imagined in our days at the school. The facilities available to the present day students are impressive.

We all felt the relaxed atmosphere amongst the students and teachers today which contrasted with our memories of a fiercely disciplined environment in which we were regularly caned and placed on detention and 'fatigue'.

It was nice to catch up with Dg who I lusted after at school for his gorgeous looks, blonde hair and sky blue eyes. Today he is still a nice guy, albeit he is bald and his eyes are no longer sparklingly blue.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

A day off...

Thursday is my day off for pursuing chores and also the occasional leisure activities and there has been and still is plenty to do with my day off today.

I started by calling in at my Mum's apartment to clear up some laundry and check for mail. I noticed some of her neighbours participating in water aerobics in the pool (see photo) but these ladies of a certain age spent most of the time in the corner of the pool chatting. Not the most active exercise but I'm sure they enjoyed it.

Next stop was breakfast nearby at The Zoo in Bondi Junction mall. I tend to the same breakfast each time; scrambled eggs, bacon, tomato, toast and a large orange juice. I'm a creature of habit.

By the time breakfast was done, it was business hours and I called in at Medibank Private to claim the cost of Mum's ambulance trip to hospital against her health insurance. This often involves a wait in a queue but I was lucky today and the transaction was completed in minutes.

Back to my car and off to the CBD for my regular haircut. I have my hair cut, or shorn more accurately, every three to four weeks at a cheapie barber shop near Chinatown. I currently ask for zero cuts so I come out of the barber shop looking like Yul Brynner.

Returning to my car I noticed the vehicle (see next photo) parked a few stops ahead of mine. If you look closely, or click the photo to enlarge it, you can see a so called disability parking permit attached to the windscreen. These permits, correctly called Mobility Parking Scheme cards provide parking concessions for people with mobility disabilities. Many of the parking restrictions are lifted for such card holders. There is considerable debate that the scheme is abused by drivers without mobility disabilities seeking to take advantage of the parking concessions.

I wonder though what type of mobility disability the card holder attached to this vehicle possesses? That vehicle is not the easiest to board or alight from even for able bodied people.

With that thought in my head I drove to Rookwood Cemetery. This Sunday is Mothers Day and I visit the cemetery, said to be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, at this time each year to pay my respects to my maternal grandmother and whilst there to my father's grave as well. I usually make the visit during the week preceding the day because the volume of traffic and visitors at the cemetery on the day itself tends to be overwhelming. It was peaceful at the cemetery today although there were plenty of people at the flower stalls when I stopped to purchase mine.

From the cemetery I drove to nearby Rhodes shopping centre and took in a late morning session of the film Iron Man which has received many positive reviews. I'll provide a separate posting for that film later.

After that movie I drove to an occasional visiting spot of mine for a half hour of badly needed 'monkey spanking' with an acquaintence. Once relieved of that bottle neck (so to speak) I returned home to my internet chores (including this posting) and a rest before meeting up with Mk tonight to see our latest subscription play Tom Stoppard's Rock and Roll which we were to see last Monday evening but for my late return to Sydney from Queensland. I'll do a separate posting for that play later in the week.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Holiday weekend recap #2

Day 2, Saturday dawned sunny and mild. Unbeknown to each other, Gg, Fd and I separately went out around 7.30am to find a store to purchase the papers. Each returned within minutes of the others with enough papers between us to fill a library.

Rs, Ll and Mt were up and lively shortly afterwards and between them set about preparing a hearty breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt, scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. As we ate we compared notes as to who had been able to sleep during the night, who had been up and about in the early morning and whose snoring was the loudest. I'm a bad snorer from way back and usually tie with Fd for the noisiest.

Gg is a bit of a racing fiend who likes a bet or three on Saturdays and he scoured the papers for the horses he would follow that day. I have no interest in gambling but decided I would place a bet purely for entertainment purposes. I checked the papers for a name that appealed given that I had no desire to determine the form of a horse. Within moments I saw a horse racing in the second event at Randwick Racecourse (ironically in Sydney) named Little Sai Wan. This surely was an omen as Little Sai Wan (photo below) was the name of the Royal Air Force communications base in Hong Kong when I lived there from 1977 to 1980 whose leisure facilities we Australian Government workers were allowed to use as a recreation club. I decided I would bet on that horse.

All of us, except Mt who decided to remain behind to read the papers, set off for a walk in the general direction of Broadbeach with the intention of finding a TAB to lodge our bets. It was beautiful walking along the boardwalk past various surf beaches admiring the bodies, tans and other features of the beachgoers. At Broadbeach we came across the Kurrawa Surf Life Saving Club (photo below) whose restaurant menu was on display at the entrance. We decided the menu looked sufficiently interesting to make this our dinner venue for the night and we booked a table for eight (intending to invite Rt and Jy to join us as well). I called Rt to let him know of our plans and left a message for him and Jy to join us if they wished.

Conveniently we found a TAB across the road from the SLSC and placed our bets. I bet 'each way' on Little Sai Wan; that is $5 for a win and $5 for a place. My horse was racing in the second event which was only minutes away and we watched the television as Little Sai Wan gambled around the course "racing comfortably near the rear" according to the commentator. The horses descended upon the finishing post in a whir that was quite confusing to me but the upshot was that Little Sai Wan improved enough in the straight to finish in third place. I won $7.50 for the placing meaning an overall loss of only $2.50. Not exactly high roller club gambling but I was pleased with my intuitive gambling selection.

We returned to the apartment where we lunched on leftover salads and the like from the meal we enjoyed the previous night.

During the afternoon we repeated our walk of the morning, to go window shopping at the Pacific Fair centre. Mt, who was with us this time, purchased a pair of New Balance sneakers on discount at the Rebel Sports Store.

We returned to the apartment for a further round amateur cocktails in preparation for the evening entertainment. Mt kept an eye on the football which had commenced at 3.30pm, the start of about seven hours of football screening on televisions in our line of sight at the apartment and later on at the SLSC. Rt returned my call to say that he and Jy would meet us at the club for dinner.

Following showers and further rounds of cocktails, we drove to the SLSC. The dinner and the club were a disappointment. We had hoped to be on the balcony visible in the photo above but were placed at a table inside the clubhouse surrounded by poker (slot) machines and numerous television screens displaying live broadcasts of that evening's National Rugby League, Australian Football League and English Premier League matches. The club was packed and very noisy. More significantly, the meals although impressive in quantity were at best modest in quality.

After their meals, Gg, Rs and Ll could not resist the poker machines which they attacked with zombie like intent.

Finally noise and gambling losses forced us from the club and we farewelled Rt and Jy before returning to our apartment for a nightcap, further giggles and gossip and at long last bed.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Holiday weekend recap #1

The departure from Sydney and flight to the Gold Coast went smoothly and uneventfully. A young man sitting across the aisle from me turned on his laptop and watched an episode of Entourage during the flight. He had curly blonde hair and a lean body which shape was beautifully outlined through his close fitting blue jeans and clinging white tee shirt. Whilst reading my book, I took many glimpses across the aisle hoping all the time he believed I was taking in the lap top show whereas I was soaking in his sensual beauty. It was a lovely start to the holiday.

I had arranged to see my friends Rt and Jy in Helensvale before returning to the Gold Coast to join my weekend companions. Keeping this arrangement involved a taxi trip from the Gold Coast Airport to the Robina Rail followed by a train trip to Helensvale. Rt and Jy met me at the station and we adjourned to the nearby town centre for a long lunch and chat at The Tavern. The $10 lunch specials did not amount to haute cuisine but the four hour lunch chat with two long term friends was relaxing and full of fun recollections. As the afternoon progressed quite a few building workers, still dusty from their day's exertions, assembled into the bar to partake of their favourite beverages (mostly beer) providing a bonus distraction for me.

Finally it was time for me to return to Robina to join my friends for the weekend; my friends driving in from nearby Brisbane to the north and Mt making the trip from Ballina two hours to the south. I made the return train trip and then the taxi journey to our serviced apartments reaching them just as the sun set.

Mt had stopped at the nearby Pacific Fair centre to purchase items for the dinner we had agreed we would have in the apartment that evening. Basically an assortment of enticing savoury nibbles supplemented by exotic amateur cocktails. Being a teetotaller I stuck to orange juice although I was to succumb to the lure of Champagne later in the weekend.

The apartment complex, named Mykonos, was a trifle disappointing at first being in obvious need of freshening but over the weekend we grew increasingly fond of our apartment.

The ocean glimpse from our apartment (above) was nowhere near as expansive as that we had enjoyed on our previous weekend get togethers elsewhere on the coast but like our apartment the view that we did have grew more pleasurable as the weekend progressed.

We quickly fell into our usual pattern of good natured bantering, leg pulling and giggling reminiscences. When finally our aging bodies decided it was time for bed the six of us adjourned to our three bedrooms in our usual configuration of partnerships.

The weekend was off to a friendly, relaxed and enjoyable start.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Great service (not)

Here I am in the Qantas Club at the Gold Coast Airport for my return trip delayed four hours by Jetstar from my originally confirmed booking because of cancelled flights I was not notified about. The Jetstar check-in woman did not even have the grace to apologise for any inconvenience caused by the cancellation. My departure was to be 12.00 noon but now is 4.10pm and I will not be back in time for the play for which Mk and I have tickets tonight. Mk, who is back in Sydney, is trying to rearrange our tickets for another performance during his lunch break at the school where he teaches. An annoying end to an otherwise enjoyable and relaxing weekend.

Friday, 2 May 2008

Vale John Cargher

I heard this morning that John Cargher passed away on Wednesday.

Farewell to a man who brought joy to thousands over the years.

On my way

Made it safely to the Airport through peak hour traffic with a talkative and friendly taxi driver. Just filling in time now in the Qantas Club which is undergoing reconstruction (again).

A beautifully clear and cool morning so hopefully it will be a smooth flight.


Sydney has just had it wettest and coolest summer for fifty years followed by its coldest April for fifty-seven years so I am happy to be flying to warm Queensland this morning for the weekend.

I'm meeting up with Ll, Fd, Mt, Rs and Gg for our twice annual get together. As usual we should have lots of giggles, act like kids again and eat ourselves stupid. Ll, Fd, Mt and I worked together in Beijing in the early 1980s and have remained firm friends ever since.

Will return to Sydney on Monday afternoon.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

What ever happened to... attendants?

I went into Myer at Bondi Junction this morning to pick up a gift card for Ll's birthday. Not only did there seem to be few customers about but I also could not find a store attendant to process my purchase.

I picked up a card from the display panel at a vacant service desk and waited in vain for an attendant to appear. After a while I walked the floor from one vacant service desk to another all the while imagining I was under surveillance by security cameras and that someone was waiting to arrest me for shop lifting.

Eventually I found two women chatting alongside a service desk in the women's shoe department, both casually dressed, who I assumed were customers but it turns out at least one was a staff member. She graciously interrupted her chat to process my purchase.

I wonder how many customers they miss out on by such a sparse staff presence?