Thursday, 30 April 2015

At intermission.....

Anzac images on the pylons of the Harbour Bridge

Sydney Opera House

Tuesday, 28 April 2015


(Sydney Theatre Company)

I am the last person in the world one should turn to for an explanation of a Samuel Beckett play. In 'Endgame' a master and his servant are engaged in conversation whilst (the ghosts of?) the master's parents exist in dustbins nearby.

I suppose plays like this have what ever meaning you see in them or if you are like me who can see no specific meaning you just go along for the ride.

Hugo Weaving and Tom Budge are excellent as master and servant respectively in this Sydney Theatre Company production.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Fun and games at the football

An unusual event at the Anzac Day Roosters v Dragons National Rugby League match yesterday. Play was suspended for thirty minutes when a severe storm hit the ground. It wasn't just the torrential rain which made play difficult enough and flooded parts of the field within minutes but the lightning and heavy hail which forced the players from the field.

The temperature dropped from 25.9º to 14.4º.

Anzac Day commemoration pre-game

The storm hits and the crowd scatters for shelter
Rain in the lights
Players return after the storm interruption
For the record: Full time Roosters 12 Dragons 14.

Friday, 24 April 2015

The Longest Ride

Nicholas Sparks as writer and film producer has created the formula for a goldmine. Eleven of his seventeen romance novels have been adapted into feature films. The tenth of these, 'The Longest Ride', has recently been released in Australia. The ten films released so far have grossed over $834,000,000 worldwide.

The five films I have seen all have storylines constructed to the same template.

A romantic locale. ✔️
An idyllic locale. ✔️
Two grand romances. ✔️
Set them years, decades even, apart. ✔️
Participants have flawless and/or striking appearances. ✔️
Heroes are strong silent types. ✔️
Inject a personal tragedy or two. ✔️
Reveal a twist connection between the romances near the end. ✔️
Season with a couple of deaths.✔️

Voila. You have the McDonalds of storytelling.

'The Longest Ride' comes off the template processing line, formed to the standard.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

It takes fortitude... see out the television series 'Fortitude'.

Is anyone else watching it?

Supposedly set in Norway but actually filmed in Iceland I was taken in by the snowbound locale and the stark, modern architecture.

This thriller/horror series about some undiagnosed force taking over its host bodies seemed regular enough in the early episodes but now has descended into the most gruesome images of attacks and murder. I can't bare to view some scenes yet can't seem to break off viewing the series either.

Is it nearly over? I hope so.

Storm impact

This video of a house being washed away in the town of Dungog during this week's storm has received wide coverage locally but may not have been seen elsewhere.

Note the ever laconic Australian nature at around the 9 second mark. The beer can is still in hand even at a time of stress.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Weather to the rescue

The awful weather on which I commented yesterday appears to be abating a little this morning but is still unpleasant enough to be a major problem.

However I have reason to be thankful for it today. The Nursing Home where I volunteer on Wednesdays has deemed conditions to be too dangerous to load and unload the participants for Day Care who are transported from/to their homes by bus.

So, I have been given the day off.

A day off my feet. Some relief for my Fasciitis.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The elements trump spirit

Sydney is the grip of heavy showers and powerful winds. The second day of this weather today sees winds the equivalent of a Category 2 cyclone. There has been considerable damage across the state and tens of thousands of households have lost power. Last night we had to abort our attempt to get to the Bridge club after becoming stalled in traffic gridlock which later I learnt was a consequence of collapsed scaffolding near my home.

Extraordinary to my mind, the tourist ship Carnival Spirit is stuck out to sea, unable to enter Sydney Harbour, so turbulent are the waters. I don't recall hearing of a large vessel being prevented by weather conditions from entering the harbour previously although I imagine that may have happened previously.

Carnival Spirit on a previous calmer visit to Sydney

Carnival Spirit is by no means a small vessel. It is 85,900 gross tonnage and can carry 2,124 passengers and 961 crew.

Monday, 20 April 2015

I don't want to know

Getting older is an education. I'm learning new health conditions every time I visit the doctor.

My latest lesson is Fasciitis.

That's the condition which has suddenly and painfully affected my right heel. I limped around the hospital today.

Some education is less than welcome.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

While We're Young

Mid forties childless couple Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts meet a mid twenties couple and find themselves enamoured, even envious, of the younger pair's carefree spirit and adventure. But do they stay that way?

'While We're Young' starts with a satirical examination of the generation gap but soon takes a darker turn when all manner of reality sets in.

The evidence is that this film is as polarising as the gap it portrays. My elder companion loathed the characters and became resentful at the sound of my chortling throughout the early scenes. 'What does Victor find amusing in these repulsive characters?', Cs wondered. I, on the other hand, found the early scenes quite amusing - awful at times, yes - but amusing.

So, you'll like this if you do but you won't if you don't. (The worst form of analytical criticism but one which was effectively the summation of every film review by a nameless Australian critic who once adorned our television screens.)

I like this one because I did.

Saturday, 18 April 2015


A young boy is diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. He has a love for mathematics and in his teenage years he tests for a place in the Mathematics Olympiad in the course of which he learns much more about relationships and love. Indeed everyone in x+y (named elsewhere rather mundanely as 'A Brilliant Young Mind') seems to learn about love in this charming British film.

The film opens with a surprise but from thereon it follows a fairly predictable track. It is nicely acted with a gentle, low key humour.

Friday, 17 April 2015

A difference of two

How annoying is a difference of two? Two tablets in a packet, that is.

I am prescribed four medications a day by my GP, to control or prevent certain conditions.

All four medications come in the form of tablets. Three of these medications come in packets of thirty tablets but the other medication comes in a packet of twenty-eight. Each month that 'other' medication runs out first and because I top up all four medications at the same time over a period of a few months my supply of medications gets all out of kilter.

Of course I could manage my supply differently by purchasing only that 'other' medication every few months or so but why isn't there a standard multiple of tablets per packet? What difference does two make?

Thursday, 16 April 2015


I am an only child. At times of great happiness or distress I wonder how it would feel to share that experience with a sibling. Once when sitting alone in an Emergency Ward, doctors asked me do I want my mother resuscitated should the condition for which she had just been admitted deteriorate I keenly wished I had a sibling with whom to discuss the issue. But I don't have a sibling and never will so it is idle thought.

I have always assumed that if there had been a sibling that we would remain on good terms for life. I don't know why I am so certain about this given the example of my mother who became estranged from her only sibling for the last twenty or so years of her life.

I know three sisters with whom I have been close friends for over forty years. We have socialised together, travelled together, cried together and laughed together. Following the deaths of their parents they started to see me as a brother, the older brother they never had. Sadly after decades of close association two of the three sisters (middle and youngest) have fallen out with each other rather badly. Group socialising involving these two has become impossible. I continue to be on good terms with all three sisters but middle and youngest sister remain resolutely estranged.

Today at her invitation I met middle sister for lunch to see photos of her recent overseas trip. I mentioned my forthcoming overseas trip and she asked with whom I would be travelling. This I knew would be sensitive. Truthfully I told middle sister my travelling companion will be her estranged youngest sibling. Clearly neither oldest nor youngest sister had told middle sister of the travel plans.

Middle sister went very quiet, then whispered. 'I wish you hadn't told me this.' 'I'm having difficulty with this.' 'I wanted to do that trip.' And then she left. No further conversation, no lunch. Is our friendship over? I hope not.

I rang youngest sister and left a message informing her of what had happened.

I was left with a sick feeling in my stomach; quite upset. Is this the reality of what it is to have a sibling?

Postscript: within an hour of this exchange there has been a serious development possibly of a mental health nature which I won't go into at this time.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Blue skies

Our periodic outing for respite care folk, this time to Sydney's McMahons Point on a gloriously sunny day.

Blue's Point Reserve

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Watch that time

Speaking writing about watches and Ballarat as Andrew has done today I am reminded of the Dr Blake Mysteries, a fine ABC television period series about that regional town and the local Doctor who solves murder mysteries for the Police.

Dr Blake and his devoted side kick Mrs Beazley
The series is set in the 1950s and its creators go to great lengths to recreate the look and style of those times. I imagine they occasionally get it wrong but I don't usually notice.

This week I watched the series just ended. The first episode depicts a school boat race. The banners on the course clearly indicate the year is 1959. At one point the Police Constable looks at his watch which is shown in close up.

Wisely perhaps for pedantic viewers like me the watch does not display a brand but it is does have the word Quartz on it. 'Hold on' I thought 'were Quartz watches invented in 1959?' The answer according to Dr Google is 'no'. Quartz watches were invented in 1969.

Dr Google trumps Dr Blake.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

You just don't know...

...the interesting past of your co-workers. This is not always the case, of course, as some people waste no time letting you into their world ad nauseum whether you want them to or not.

But what about that humble, always polite, quietly spoken and courteous gentleman who makes no fuss, stirs no agitation and whose presence in the office goes largely unnoticed? The fellow who plays bowls on the weekend and likes the occasional punt and who is so meek and mild. Such was the early 80s aged Ron who passed away quietly in his sleep last week; as quietly as he lived his life. Or so it seemed to us fellow volunteers with Ron at the hospital.

Arriving at the church for his funeral this morning I was gob smacked at the sight of a full police honour guard, bagpipers and literally dozens of uniformed top brass police officers each be-medalled as though they were Russian Generals.

The church was literally overflowing with mourners. A sizeable portion of the top echelon of the Queensland Police Force was present including that State's Police Commissioner who delivered one of three eulogies. There was an almost commensurate presence of the NSW Police Force top brass with our State's Commissioner unable to attend but present in spirit with a message delivered on his behalf.

From those eulogies I learnt that Ron, who quietly pushed the library trolley around to patients once a week, had been a career police officer in Queensland rising to the highest rank, the 15th Commissioner of his State's force, upon the sacking of his predecessor as a consequence of the Fitzgerald Inquiry into police corruption.

You just don't know.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Dry and wet

Thankfully the forecast of four days continuous rain for the Easter long weekend proved to be off the mark with sunny weather returning yesterday (Easter Sunday).

The sun is out again today following some early fog which affected airport operations so Cs and I make our way to North Bondi RSL Club for lunch.

Walking along Bondi Beach to the club

First into the Club and we obtain a table on the balcony looking out over the Beach. Bathers and sun bakers have flocked to the beach but notice the ominous clouds rolling in from the west ahead of a storm as forecast by the weather bureau.

Bondi Beach
Cs orders a chicken parmigiana and I order chicken schnitzel. Basic dishes but very nicely done and generous portions. Back home three hours later and the rain returns.

Ten minutes after the above photo and the sky is brighter, the rain has stopped and the sun is breaking through again.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Mind the curtains

Daylight saving ended last night bringing the four Eastern states and territories and Tasmania back into time zone alignment.

My recalcitrant Queensland friends can be assured that my curtains will not fade for the next six months.

Wonder of wonders though, awaking to standard Eastern time for the first time in six months Sydney has a sunny sky confounding the predictions of four days of continuous rain. Our Easter weekend may yet be rescued.

Take that, smug Andrew.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

In my Easter bonnet...

...or rather in my Easter raincoat.

As I wrote to Andrew enjoying moonlit Melbourne, Sydney does what Sydney does and we are experiencing a four days weekend of continuous rain. Overall Sydney enjoys a fine climate of many sunny days but it is the wet Easters that stick in my mind. Add the 2015 version to the list.

Rain running down my dining room window this morning

Friday, 3 April 2015

Take a seat

My periodic visit to the financial advisor. Yes, I have one of those.

The routine is same each time. Take a seat. Would I like a coffee, tea or water? A glass of water each time. Wait five minutes.

Browse around the small foyer. Occasionally another client passes by but very rarely. This time an elderly couple with, I assume, their adult son depart from the conference rooms. 'G'day' says the elderly man to me. 'Hope your news is better than mine' he adds.

I look at the magazines neatly piled on the side table.

A motoring magazine and a golfing magazine (for sir?) and Marie Claire and a travel magazine (for madam?).

Oh, and my news was fine (I think).

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Dior and I

Anyone who has met me will attest that I am no 'fashionista'. A pair of shorts and a plain black t-shirt are 'de rigueur' for me. My own fashion sense, or the lack of as others would claim with justification, does not explain my interest in movies about fashion.

'Dior and I' is at least the third documentary feature length film I have seen and I have enjoyed them all. In this film the past and present intertwine with images of and quotations from Christian Dior in the 1950s mingling with the arrival from Belgium of the latest(?) head designer Raf Simons and his 'right hand' Pieter. Raf and Pieter have just six weeks to assemble their first haute couture

By the way, I felt vindicated in my dress sense by the appearance of Raf who mostly is only marginally less casual than I.

A highlight is the generous time given to acknowledging the significant work of the various seamstresses (and one male seamster(?)).