Thursday, 30 August 2018

Negombo Fish Market

Local guide explaining the drying process
Back breaking work of turning the fish over
Blue Marlin and the ever present wild dogs

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Crab, glorious crab

Actually I'm not an expert on Crab and wasn't looking forward to having to dismantle one for its meat but Mb had been told of a Colombo restaurant, Ministry of Crab, which is highly ranked in a survey Asian restaurants and which is booked out daily. Mb made our reservations two months ago and when we arrived there last night we encountered a more casual venue than I was expecting but one with loads of atmosphere.

I enjoyed the quality of the dishes we ordered if not the work needed to get at the meat in the main courses. I suppose I'm averse to getting my fingers sticky and messy.

The open kitchen
Crab and avocado salad
Crab pate, the glass jar contains treacle which you pour over the pate
Chilli Crab
Crab Curry

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Unexpected rest day

We arrived in Colombo on schedule just before midnight last night and were safely at our hotel around 1am. We arranged to arrive 24 hours ahead of the others on our tour partly to get over the travel but also to meet a prearranged dinner reservation at the highly recommended (by friends) Ministry of Crab Restaurant.

Our plan was to use the extra daytime for personal investigation of Colombo but in the event we discover that our hotel is about 35kms from the centre of Colombo and our naive visions of doing the universal 'Red Bus' city tour dissipated. Never mind, our hotel is a mini resort of sorts and a pleasant way to spend a lazy day.

Glimpses of the inviting pool from my room.

The net covering the balconies apparently is to prevent crows and other wildlife entering guest rooms

The hotel is located on the beach front. I guess the body of water is the Indian Ocean.

My room is on the top floor just to the right of the staircase.

Mb and I will dine tonight at the aforementioned restaurant. Our tour begins in earnest tomorrow.

Monday, 27 August 2018

I'm on holidays

Flying out today with Mb on a holiday. From Sydney to Singapore and on to Colombo tonight.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Airport peak hour

I collected Cz and Cw from the airport this morning on their return from Canada. Their flight landed ten minutes later than the predicted time on the Flight Radar 24 App principally because the flight was made to do a circuit south of the airport ahead of landing.

Once landed the plane was made to wait nearly twenty minutes on the tarmac before pulling into its gate. I thought the App had frozen when monitoring this but it turns out the plane was blocked from the gate by a late departing flight.

This delay cost me an additional $19 in car parking fees.

Never mind. I had a bit of fun. I displayed my friends' names on my iPad in the manner of Hire Car drivers waiting for their customers, much to my friends' amusement.

Saturday, 25 August 2018


(Opera Australia)

This version of Verdi's 'Aida' has received much publicity because Opera Australia has eschewed traditional sets and scenery and replaced them with huge digital panels.

So, does it work? The panels slide and twist and turn and display impressive images. They don't so much replace sets rather they emphasise the mood of the plot at each stage. All this movement is distracting at times even if the images are often stunning. The panels seemed to work best in the final Act when together with superb lighting they came closest to representing a traditional set. The triumphal march scene on the other hand was not a march and not especially triumphant either.

One negative of these panels is that the singers tended to a static performance as though staging a concert; not acting out a story. To my untrained ear the singing was of a high quality. I wish I could say the same for the choreography in the numerous dance sequences. They struck me as very peculiar and I had to suppress an urge to giggle on a number of occasions.

Choreography aside I enjoyed the spectacle.


Friday, 24 August 2018

The passing parade of PMs

We have a new Prime Minister. There was a time when this was an era changing event. In 1949 when I was only six months old Robert Menzies became Australia's Prime minister for the second time. He resigned the position in February 1966 when I was sixteen years old.

Robert Menzies speaking to striking miners

Imagine that. I was sixteen years old and for all but six months of my life I had known only one Prime Minister.

In the past eleven years of my life there have been six changes of Prime Minister. Six! John Howard lost at election replaced by Kevin Rudd. Rudd usurped by his own party replaced by Julia Gillard. Gillard usurped by her own party replaced by the returning Rudd. Rudd lost at election replaced by Tony Abbott. Abbott usurped by his own party replaced by Malcolm Turnbull. Turnbull usurped by his own party replaced by Scott Morrison.

In my lifetime I have twice been a constituent in the Prime Minister's own electorate. First I was a constituent of Prime Minister William McMahon in the electorate of Lowe.

William McMahon talking to Corporal Colin King
McMahon was 'a confirmed bachelor' until he married at the age of 57. No conclusions drawn from this photograph.

Lately, indeed until today, I have been a constituent of Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull in the electorate of Wentworth.

Malcolm Turnbull
By coincidence McMahon, Turnbull and I all attended the same school; Sydney Grammar School.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

'The Widow Unplugged'

(Ensemble Theatre)

Legendary Australian theatrical performer Reg Livermore is the creator of, and one person performer in, 'The Widow Unplugged'.

An ageing performer, now resident in a home for the aged recalls earlier days of his career when he appeared in pantomimes and vaudeville entertainments. I sense a degree of autobiography in the work and a reflection of some of the characters, real and imagined, that Livermore encountered.

There is considerable energy in Livermore's performance and he handles the dialogue, dense with malapropisms, with aplomb but I found the play, itself, rather uneven. Act 1 lacked cohesion and didn't engage me. Sadly many audience members didn't return for Act 2 which I considered to be a noticeable improvement.


Tuesday, 21 August 2018

'Book Club'

Four women, lifelong friends, who have engaged in a personal 'Book Club' for years are inspired by their latest book choice, 'Fifty Shades of Grey', to engage in self reflection of their lives and loves.

This is a pretty stock, standard, American comedy with obvious gags and situations and little subtlety. I got a few chuckles however the overwhelmingly middle and elder aged female audience around me laughed out loud a lot in apparent signs of recognition.


Monday, 20 August 2018

'The Boy from Oz'

(The Production Company)

'The Boy from Oz' is the story of Peter Allen who grew up in a small Australian country town with an ambition to sing and entertain and ended up an international favourite and Academy Award winner.

The musical unabashedly targets Australian audiences recalling with affection the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

This limited season production is tireless and showy. Rohan Browne is energetic in the title role and whilst he doesn't always hit the pitch in his singing he conveys the aura of his character. The supporting performers are outstanding especially Caroline O'Connor (as Judy Garland) and at the performance I attended Hudson Sharp (as young Peter).


Sunday, 19 August 2018

Anything can be art

A wander through the MoMA exhibition currently at the National Gallery of Victoria gives an indication how anything can be viewed as art.

If only I had the wit to think of something like that.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

'Mission: Impossible - Fallout'

'Mission: Impossible - Fallout' is the same old, same as, when Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) accepts another impossible mission, this time to retrieve stolen Plutonium cores from a group of anonymous gangsters referred to as the Twelve Apostles.

The usual spectacular chases through the streets of Paris and London and stunning mountain locales in Norway doubling in this instance for Indian Kashmir are a feature.

If you have seen the earlier episodes, you know what to expect.


Friday, 17 August 2018

'The Long Forgotten Dream'

(Sydney Theatre Company)

Jeremiah Tucker's daughter returns for a lengthy overseas trip with the news that she has discovered the location of his grandfather's remains and has organised for their return home to Australia for an appropriate burial and memorial service.

The news and the preparations for the welcome to home stir up memories and questions of the past.

'The Long Forgotten Dream' is a wonderful new play by H Lawrence Sumner. The mostly indigenous cast and performers bring the story to life in an inventive staging.

Highly recommended.


Thursday, 16 August 2018


'Skyscraper' is a 21st Century updating of 1974s box office hit 'The Towering Inferno' although its plot does depart from the earlier disaster epic. The setting has moved from San Francisco to Hong Kong and this skyscraper is a cover for all manner of gangster hijinks.

The opening scenes reveal a hi-tech building with features that just for one brief moment gave me hope that this was going to be an unexpectedly superior disaster feature. That hope was quickly scuttled as the film descended into ludicrous activity.

Dwayne Johnson maintains a surprising level of dignity despite his character's ever more cartoonish acts of heroism.


Wednesday, 15 August 2018

'A Taste of Honey'

A single mother and her teenage daughter lead a love/hate struggling life finding solace and disappointment in each other and in the men in their lives.

'A Taste of Honey' was a first play hit from Shelagh Delaney in 1958 and again in the subsequent film version but has rarely been performed since.

Now staged by Belvoir St Theatre this production has been transplanted to an Australian setting whilst seemingly retaining much of its original regional British character.


Tuesday, 14 August 2018


Young 'wannabes' in a Manhattan magazine office chat, gossip and compete. As diverse as they may be one thing they are in agreement is that their colleague 'Gloria' is an oddball. Someone who no-one seems to like very much.

Their ethics are stretched following a tragic event.

Apparently this play, regarded as a satire and drama, was a finalist in the Pulitzer Prize. I don't see that merit myself. The cast worked hard to squeeze humour from dialogue that was fairly predictable at the outset. Several twists lifted the plot briefly but still left the play limping to its abrupt end.


Monday, 13 August 2018

'On Chesil Beach'

Florence (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward (Billy Howle) have arrived at their beachside hotel to commence their honeymoon. Both are nervous and inexperienced making their first steps into marriage a painful affair. Flashbacks show their courtship conducted despite the constraints of differing social backgrounds.

I think that the intention is to present 'On Chesil Beach' as a great romance albeit one tinged with sadness. However as portrayed in this film the best I can feel is sorry for this couple rather than sadness.

Some nice scenery.


Sunday, 12 August 2018

'The Wife'

Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) learns that he has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. His wife Joan (Glenn Close) accompanies him to Stockholm for the award ceremony and related celebrations during which, and through flashbacks and action, her true role in her husband's success is revealed.

'The Wife' is a slow burn with the prime drama surfacing at the end.


Saturday, 11 August 2018


I've been missing in (blogger) action for the past couple of weeks; indeed on and off for months.

Over the past ten days or so I have been diverted with three house guests visiting from warmer climes in Australia.

This was not an imposition. On the contrary. So pleasant was their presence and so relaxed did I become by the time of their departure on Thursday that I lost complete track of the days. As a consequence I kept thinking it was a Monday (not Friday) back at work making me look and sound like a goose to patients several times yesterday.

Well I better get back to normality because I have cinema and theatre visits to record and overseas trips to make.

Yes, there are four - count them, one...two...three...four - booked for the next twelve months or so.

First up in just two weeks time are first time visits to Sri Lanka and the Maldives travelling with Mb. Later, at Christmas, a solo, R&R stay in Honolulu. In mid-2019 another solo trip, albeit with an escorted group; a tour from Montreal to New York City. Followed a couple months later with visits to Spain, Portugal and Morocco with Mb and Cz.