Thursday, 29 April 2010

"A thousand sail of the line"

video
Sights and some sounds at the entrance to Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) with the Pacific Ocean to the East and the Central Business District of Sydney in the far distance as seen from North Head.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Beneath Hill 60

The Australian film 'Beneath Hill 60' relates real events in World War 1 when Australian, German and other nationality miners dug tunnels beneath the Western Front in France and Belgium each side seeking to make knock out blows against the other.

Ironically filmed entirely in Queensland where the motto is 'beautiful one day, perfect the next' the film does a great job of depicting the cold, wet and gloom of life in the trenches as well as the claustrophobic environment in the tunnels. Flashbacks, set in Queensland, provide contrasting relief through expansive, sunny vistas.

Whilst there is a degree of stereotyping in the characters the performances are strong.

We thought this was a pretty good film.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Anzac Day at 'Palmo'

The morning of Anzac Day in Sydney was cool, cloudy and drizzly. At Palm Beach on the northern peninsula locals (and we interlopers) gathered outside the Palm Beach RSL (Returned Services League) for their traditional march and ceremony.
The march of returned servicemen and women approached just ahead of 11am accompanied by a band from the Avalon Primary School.
The parade terminated in front of the of the RSL Club and it's memorial.
A few hours later, the clouds have cleared and the beautiful young things have packed the club's Beer Garden for an afternoon of drinking and who knows what later. The crowds around the bar trying to place their drinks orders are eight deep.
A space has been cleared adjacent to the Beer Garden where the menfolk are engaged in a traditional game of Two Up. Had I bothered to read this Wikipedia entry beforehand I might have saved the $2 I lost on my one game. Others were betting real amounts of money (ie banknotes).
We five old farts returned to Hn's place nearby for a relaxing afternoon of scrabble, gossip, leisurely drinking and eating. Hours later into the night we could hear the raucous sounds of those 'beautiful young things' as they departed (were thrown out?) from the Club.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

All quiet on the blogging front

My life has been fairly quiet for the past few weeks.

In part this is a consequence of my mother's recent death. There is probably a degree of grieving involved as my spirits are a little down - but I'm not out. I suspect, though, that my slow recovery from the two melanoma excisions - and the subsequent infection - are impacting on me. I'm weary of being bandaged up for so long and the discovery this week that part of my excision has opened up and needs a longer period of healing was not welcome.

I have to go back to the Skin and Cancer Foundation and am keeping my fingers crossed that they don't need to insert new stitches.

In the meantime I'm going up to Palm Beach for a quiet and hopefully relaxing day with Ae, Je, Hn and Cn although with Hn's exuberant young Golden Retriever around a quiet day may be too much to expect.

However with this morning's rain and grey skies it is most doubtful that Palm Beach will look like this stock photograph today.

Lest We Forget

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Storm damage

Enough said.

When In Rome

Man and woman meet
Man and woman part
Man and woman?...
Well if you can't guess that, then you've never seen a movie nor read a book.

Despite the title, 90% of When In Rome is set in New York but there are the usual attractive images of both cities. Very few cliches are missed.

An inoffensive, if dopey, film.

Only hopeless romantics or gay men who find Josh Duhamel attractive need bother.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A foggy day in Sydney town...

Fog descending on Sydney this morning...

(Harbour Bridge peeking out from the fog)
(North Sydney peeking out from the fog)
(Fog moving up the Harbour)

It should be a fine Autumn day later.

Monday, 19 April 2010

I could have wept...

...in fact I did!
There I was lunching at Wild Sage in Cammeray with friends last Saturday when I felt what seemed like some drops of sweat on my chest. It wasn't hot and I didn't feel as though I was sweating but I wiped the damp from my chest and thought nothing more about it.

Half an hour later, one of our group pointed at new marks on my shirt and asked was I bleeding? Curious I thought, as I looked again at my chest and then noticed some discharge from beneath the bandage protecting my recent wide excision. It didn't look like blood but it seemed the wound was now weeping.

I took myself off to an after hours Medical Centre where the Doctor confirmed my wound had become infected. He prescribed antibiotics for the next week and the nurse rebandaged me so tightly that I look like the invisible man.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

All old men (and sportsmen) must be straight.

(From the Sydney Morning Herald)

The news that Daniel Kowalski, former Olympic swimmer for Australia, is gay and Evol's post reminded me of an assumption last week by the Doctor who dealt with my Melanoma. Giving me her instructions for the future the Doctor, making her own assumptions about senior citizen sexuality, suggested that I get my wife to check my back periodically for changes to any markings. 'She will know your back well enough and recognise any changes that occur', was the Doctor's professional opinion.

I was tempted to respond that I would spare my wife the task of making these examinations and get my boyfriend to do it instead on those nights that he sleeps over but I resisted the temptation.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

'I'm tired of castles in the air'*

(*'Castles in the Air' by Don McLean)
Well no, I'm not tired of them really.

Arriving in town early for my appointment with the solicitor I sat for a while on the Mezzanine Level of the Queen Victoria Building and enjoyed the sights of the lunching patrons, shoppers, tourists and those striding purposefully through the shopping arcade.

If you click on the photo to enlarge it the dome of the QVB is visible through the skylight to the right and to the left you can see the skyscraper of The Galleries Victoria across the road.

The QVB, opened in 1858, was actually built during the reign of Queen Victoria whereas the TGV, it's near namesake across the road, is very much a late 20th Century construction. Perhaps the latter should have been named The Galleries Elizabeth?

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

My chest

Um, well of course that's not me. That is the American actor, Chris Evans. My chest has never looked like that and will never do so in the future but my chest is looking better and recovering from the wide excision. The surface stitches...about fifteen of them...were removed this morning and the dissolvable ones below the surface will disappear in the next four to six weeks. I still have considerable tenderness but that is improving.

The good news is that the second biopsy showed no signs of residual melanoma. For the time being I am clear.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Vile Dandyman

This man is renowned - if that is the appropriate adjective - in Australian broadcasting especially for a number of spectacularly ill considered comments and antics. I won't dignify his reputation by printing his name.

This broadcaster was suspended for a while but is now back on both radio and television.

An article about him in one of Sydney's leading newspapers today reports

"(He) reveals in the Media Week podcast that (a colleague) complained he felt bullied to human resources last year. It doesn't seem to have had much effect because (he) goes on to say: “(the colleague) was running off down to HR . . . bitching and carrying on . . . I told him you can argue back . . . but you are never going to win . . . (the colleague's) an older gay man, easily offended.”
What a jerk!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

A cut less than zero

(My head, after yesterday's zero cut)

All my life I have worn my hair cut short and now in my senior years when there is less of it on my head I tend to go for the zero cut.

It is not so much that I think I look good as a Yul Brynner clone; actually I don't think that I do but I do like the buzz feel of the two/three days old growth. What hair I have left grows quickly so it's back to the barber every few weeks for another shearing.

I frequent an el-cheapo 'barbering' establishment located in the CBD at the edge of Chinatown. After all, the zero cut requires no styling to speak of and is over in minutes so why spend a fortune at an upmarket stylist.

It is a curious establishment. The back half has women barbers all of whom are of Asian origin. Most of the Asian and women customers are directed to these barbers. The front half has men barbers most of whom are of Middle Eastern origin; Lebanese, I believe. They deal with most of the male customers. So the front half is a cachophony of Arabic noise whilst Cantonese resonates from the rear.

A lot of backpacking type tourists frequent the barber shop, no doubt because of its proximity to tourist accommodation and sites. A family group, father mother and young daughter, evidently tourists from Europe and of non-English speaking background, tentatively entered the shop whilst I was being shorn there yesterday. As is their habit one of the female barbers attempted to briskly seat the family taking no notice of the woman's protestations that she wanted to discuss matters first.

The woman prevailed and asked a few questions about costs before pointing to the 'style' photographs adorning the walls when she asked whether she had to choose a style from that selection for her daughter. It seemed an odd question to me but then I don't know what is the practice in their home country. Anyway, the barber produced a style book which the mother perused with her increasingly reluctant daughter. By the time the mother had chosen a style the daughter was in tears and had to be almost dragged to the chair for her cut.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Business as usual

Normal life is resuming.

So far this week I've been to the bank to retrieve documents needed for my mother's estate, seen the accountant to finally sign off on last year's tax returns, set up an appointment with the solicitor next week for estate matters, cleared my mother's room at the nursing home, had lunch with my teacher friends (with me the sole non teacher amongst a group of eight), set up morning coffee with an old friend of my parents for this morning and last but not least arranged a relaxing, gossipy lunch today with my best, non sex buddy, gay mate who has been a terrific support over the past two weeks. That reminds me, still on the agenda, have some sex soon.

And it is back to my volunteer jobs next week when I also will have my excision stitches removed.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Welcome

An Iraqi Kurdish youth, illegally in France, having failed in his attempt to enter the United Kingdom smuggled in a truck, learns to swim so that he can cross the English Channel to join his girlfriend.

This rather moving French film is instructive about the plight of illegal immigrants in France and that country's tough laws which discourage citizens from providing these unfortunates with assistance even on a voluntary basis.

A beautifully acted film - the actor portraying the youth is an amateur - presents the situation simply and without frills.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Pitter, patter

I sensed something different, something wrong, when I stepped under the shower this morning. Something wasn't quite right as I lathered up.

Then I realised.

I was still wearing my glasses.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

'After the dancers' leaving...after the stars are gone'*

(*After The Ball by Charles K Harris)
Well...that was a wedding and a half.

Despite my careful planning the journey into Sydney's mysterious Sutherland Shire - mysterious for those of us who live outside it - was not without incident. We reached the boundaries of the Shire without difficulty but once within the region a foreboding overcame me as I began to notice that the street names did not accord with my planning notes. It took me several minutes before I realised that my planning was based on a misreading of the street directory. I had read the directory as though I was entering the Shire via Tom Ugly's Bridge when in fact I had crossed over on the Captain Cook Bridge. Ooops!

How to get from the western half to the eastern half where we needed to be in less than half an hour was the problem. Somehow we managed the feat through a combination of Ae's hair raising navigation and my sense of intuition which was basically to turn left whenever she said 'right' and right when she said 'left'. That we managed to arrive at the church with five minutes to spare was a testament to the light Easter Saturday traffic and my cautious allocation of travel time.

I need not have panicked however as the bride was twenty-five minutes late and we ended up with half an hour to spare before the ceremony's commencement.

The church was a modest looking building - almost like a scout hut - set back from a quiet residential street. For one moment I thought we had arrived at a youth camp. Young casually dressed people mingled around an assortment of vehicles that would have gladdened 'Fonzie's' heart.

Inside the Church I noticed what I imagined was the Groom's supporters adjusting their Boutonnieres. The youngest looking of the 'groomsmen' in fact turned out to be the presiding Minister, a good looking young man who giggled a lot and called the Groom by the most casual of nicknames throughout the ceremony. Needless to say, the ceremony picked up on the casual atmosphere and was embellished by a rock band and a quartet of singers who sounded like they were first round eliminated refugees from the Hillsong mega-church.

I (and my group of friends) felt ancient and embarrassingly overdressed amongst this young lot. The congregant sitting to my right wearing blue jeans and an open necked white shirt which appeared snatched that morning straight from the laundry basket was typical of the majority dress code.

Despite the (to us) very modern service - where was the Altar? - there a was a considerable amount of old fashioned submission too. I lost count of the number of times the Bride promised 'to submit' to her husband. At one point I was alarmed to ponder whether the Bride would be expected to demonstrate her 'submission' there and then. Thankfully that was not required.

The tail end of the ceremony was nearly drowned out by the sound of Fonzie's vehicles outside the Church warming up in anticipation of whisking the bridal party away. At ceremony's end, the Church kindly laid out tables of potato crisps, jelly babies and canned soft drinks in the surrounding grounds where we chatted in disappearing sunshine followed by spitting rain as sunset drew close. By the start of the reception, at a beachside restaurant some kilometres away, spitting rain had given way to heavy showers and the guests, casually and formally dressed alike, arrived bedraggled and drenched.

The casual and friendly tone of the service continued into the reception. The table allocations had been well thought through and we found ourselves seated with like minded, and like dressed guests. We gossiped like old friends, which is what we are and reminisced about our forty years' long friendships. From where we sat all the speeches were inuadible but evidently hilarious to judge by the gales of laughter from those seated within hearing of what was said.

Ae enjoyed the reception and especially the wine - too much so I'd say - as she engaged in a forty-five minutes long one person debate about the existence of heaven whilst I drove us silently home through the pouring rain. Clearly the giggling, youthful Evangelical Minister had won Ae over completely.

Oh, and in case you are in doubt, I had a wonderful time.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Get me to the church on time

I'm going to a wedding this afternoon. Not my own...the third daughter of good friends is doing the deed.

I wasn't sure how I would feel about going to the wedding following my mother's death last week and the melanoma excision this week but I believe I am dealing well with the former and my discomfort from the latter is easing if not yet past.

The wedding itself is at a church in a suburb about forty-five minutes or so drive south of where I live but I am totally unfamiliar with the area and not certain that I have the timings correct. Then there is the problem of the three hours or so break between the ceremony and the evening reception which is being held at a suburb about a further fifteen minutes away. The break is not long enough to make it worthwhile returning home so we will have to link up with other guests and find somewhere to sit, chat and presumably drink.

Friends tell me that attending the wedding will be a good distraction for me and I am sure that will prove correct but at the moment the last thing I feel like doing is getting all dressed up in suit and tie when I have been lazing about in casual wear the past three days following the doctor's instructions to take it completely easy.

On the other hand, the reception is being held at a beachside location and with today's sunny holiday weather the best tonic and distraction may well be the eye candy passing by outside.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Sweet tooth

I discovered yesterday that my local chemist now has a small selection of chocolates including a brand of soft centres to which I am particularly partial.

This is a very dangerous discovery as I have little discipline when it comes to ease of access to goodies that attract my sweet tooth.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Sleepless in Sydney

I did not sleep for a single second last night. I just lay there minute after minute until the sun rose.

The doctor told me I would experience pain following yesterday's wide excision and instructed me to take medication in anticipation. The medication must have worked because there was little pain.

What kept me sleepless though were the restrictions imposed by the stitches and dressings. My stitched up chest feels very tight and unnatural. The doctor warned me against any sudden or extreme movements in case the stitches are dislodged. The tightness will ease in time as the skin stretches but meanwhile I feel very uncomfortable.

The tightness and my worry about undoing the stitches meant that I could only lay in one position in bed whereas I usually toss and turn all through the night. I kept hoping I would fall asleep but the discomfort prevented that happening.

To add to my misery the dressing is quite bulky. I will be able to strip off the the top dressing tomorrow and based on what happened with the previous excision I expect (hope) to feel a lot freer and comfortable afterwards.