Skip to main content


Zoro, not Zorro.

They had told me over the phone in July that our next foster dog’s name was Zorro, but when his papers arrived it was spelt Zoro. I didn’t know whether the name was a misspelling of pulp writer Johnston McCulley’s fictional character, or an obscure reference to Zoroastrianism. I liked the latter as Zoro (the dog) was a cool, calm, peaceful creature; although when he arrived here in July there had been a scar on the crown of his head which, with a little imaginative typographical realignment, could conceivably have been a ‘Z’. Zoro/Zorro stayed for the regulation four weeks, and was the initiator (via his presence; he didn't contribute) of a philosophical discussion about greyhounds and their role in modern society. These random debaters are confused about many things but completely uninformed on most; least of all the animal relationship theories of Kant et al, so that any discussion becomes bogged down in cliché and parroted second-hand opinion. Zoro/Zorro returned to Tullamarine
Recent posts

Taste invaders: pasta with semi-dried tomatoes, anchovies and chillies.

I posted something like this years ago; way back in the early years of this weblog, pre-pandemic, before children, ante-GFC. A long time ago. I could use the search button, but where’s the romance? There are more complicated and crowded recipes along these lines about the web; but some contain too many ingredients. To illustrate the point, one of the most rustic pasta dishes adds only garlic, oil, parsley and a dusting of grated cheese; but when you’re hungry, there is nothing better. And note: only one ingredient actually gets cooked in this recipe. Standard spaghetti works well, or you could use angel hair, or any other long pasta. Without wanting to be coarse, the slurpiness of long pasta assists in the uptake of the flavour when the sauce is minimal. I don't know why; ask a food technician or a chef. I’m neither. Chop a small handful of semi-dried tomatoes into slivers; likewise with half the volume of anchovies, and half again of birdseye chillies. The idea is to fascinate the

The waiting room.

At ninety-five and physically fading fast, but with full mental capacities intact, the frenzied mental interruptions of middle-age have long gone, leaving memories that spill out at random: limpid freeze-framed images, like specimens under a microscope coverslip. My mother and I sat in grey vinyl-padded chairs on a sea of cloud-grey carpet that lapped up to depressing storm-dark walls, which were interrupted by large photographs of bucolic green meadows in which happy animals grazed. The interior designer of the medical centre catering to the rapidly aging local population evidently couldn't decide whether to induce hope or to encourage patients to go gently into that good night. Sitting next to me, my mother was painting one of those random memory pictures, obviously prompted by being in a medical establishment. She was talking about something that happened when she was very young, and the scene was set like fallen trees letting the sun into a forest after decades of darkness. 

Cash economy under threat.

'... excessive dependence upon the banks ... largely accounts for the ups and downs of colonial life. In times when money is easy the banks almost force it upon their customers. When it is tight, ... panic ensues ...; Overdrafts are given for the most part on purely personal security. It is quite a common thing for ordinary working-men to keep banking accounts; and all farmers, even the smallest, are obliged to keep them; for in the country specie (coin cash) payments are almost unknown, and the smallest sums are paid by cheque. ... You need never keep more than a few shillings in your pocket ...' Within a few years, with no federal deposit guarantees;and extravagant lending for land, the land boom crashed, the banks fell and Australia was thrown into crisis amidst a 1893 world economic depression. The Victorian government compulsorily shut the banks for a week to allay a run. * Town Life in Australia , Richard Twpopeny, Elliot Stock, 1883. Kitchen Hand three-word review: Plus

Name dropping: Bob Dylan tangled up in Kew.

Putting a famous name in your title is a cynical move.  I knew that, so I was aware.  Melbourne on Dylan : a short documentary film is supposedly about the relationship of the very large city of Melbourne (population 2 million in 1965; 5 million in 2023) with the legendary American singer. I imagined the documentary would meander through the influence of Bob Dylan on the wider musical culture of Melbourne’s incredible diaspora. Instead, it was a series of interviews with a short - very short - number of the ageing hipster class from suburbs like (but not limited to) Kew, shot in retro bars, inner-city shabby chic lounge rooms, empty theatres and of course in front of the inevitably clichéd recording studio mixing desks.  The documentary's fatal flaw saw these pet interviewees' answers to unheard questions cut together, so that as an aggregate, the answers were all the same; while, towards the end of the insufferably repetitive interviews, seemingly dazed interviewees told incre

Come Monday, it’ll be alright …

  … and now you’re off on vacation … something I’ve tried to explain … Well maybe she wasn’t coming back. One of two songs I remembered and confused in the cold dark days of 1974, that lonely year of sickness and hospital tests and siblings moving away and year twelve hell, with the radio charts moving away from prog and power pop into disco; and which now, fifty years later, appears like some kind of retro musical paradise, it hits me again; and this time I remind myself that 1974 wasn’t so bad because Come Monday, by Jimmy Buffett, was optimistic even though the Loggins song was not. Didn’t mean a lot but at that time a centimetre of comfort would have helped. Please Come To Boston , by Dave Loggins Come Monday, by Jimmy Buffett. RIP Jimmy Buffett.

Carbonara reconstructed for casserole, with parsley.

There was this musician in the 1960s, I told them. He was huge, everywhere - when commercial radio played intelligent music. Sergio Mendes, I said. His band, which was more of a combo or even an orchestra, I went on, was called Brasil ‘66. Nothing they recorded then sounds dated today by even a second. I was chopping parsley at the time. Heavy in the garden right now, on the poised starting gun of spring, is that herb along with its three song compatriots; hence the conversation, driven by random semi-conscious thoughts rather than by any ordered progression of script-like dialogue. It’s a lesson I’ve been teaching ad nauseam to my screenwriter-aspiring older (at least from this marriage) child: write dialogue like it’s not a script. I bluetoothed Scarborough Fair and kept chopping. The searing strings chased the ethereal voices around the kitchen, bouncing off the walls. The 1960s were so long ago that when someone asked if Sergio Mendes was still alive I said he’d have to be about