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Radio play.

On that cold, bleak night I was out late at the shops: it must have been about nine o'clock. It would be a late dinner. The car radio was chattering to itself. I turned it up slightly. Behind the voice were sound effects, like a radio play. Behind the soft commentating voice that sounded very much like the late Whispering Ted Lowe but wasn't, there was a clatter of metal on stone, a military screech here and there, a distant trumpet, and a faraway purr of drums: noises off (in the theatrical sense). The radio play continued as I drove down Pascoe Vale Road into Moonee Ponds and pulled into Pratt Street. In an apartment overlooking the carpark, part of a screen could be seen in an uncurtained upstairs window of an apartment. The head of a horse was visible, until it disappeared stage-right into an obscured section of the screen. The supermarket was brightly over-fluoro-d and vast and empty, except for some shelf stackers dressed in their dirty green corporate colours, like tired
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Hold the presses: permanently.

That morning I drove to the station and caught the train to the city, getting off at shadowy Melbourne Central and riding the escalator up into Swanson Street and the light of an early spring day. By eleven - the ideal time for a quiet coffee, after the breakfast stragglers and before the lunch crowd - a glass cup holding a rich brew of chocolate brown topped with a tawny golden spindrift sat on the bar in front of me at Pellegrini's at the top of Bourke Street, where nothing changes except the clientele. Later I walked through Myer and several laneways and eventually disappeared underground into one of the city's last remaining second-hand bookshops, Melbourne Basement Books, in Flinders Street. You could spend a week there and get through only half the books. By two o'clock I was on the train again, having walked under the clocks where once piles of just-pressed newspapers would fly out like those momentous edit points in old movies. But there was a very odd thing. It ha

1818.

The title of the novel Leafy Rivers is not some evocatively named bucolic setting as the first edition's (1967) green-leaved cover artwork might suggest. It is the central character's name: Mary Pratt Converse marries Reno Rivers, but retains the nickname her brother gave her as a child thanks to her indecisive habit of answering 'never "yes" or "no" but always "I'd just as lief." '. The novel covers not much more than one day in 1818 - but the bulk of it is in flashback; the building blocks of Leafy's life heaved into place by an author in complete command of language, atmospherics, and dialogue. Flashback: Leafy and Reno move to the Whitewater Valley after being gifted tenancy of a cabin by its landholder, Simon Yanders, who has abandoned it, having lost his wife to milk fever. Credit being short in 1818, he is later forced to foreclose on the couple causing Leafy to undertake a desperate, nightmarish and ultimately fateful two-

Long reign falls.

1952 : 'The North Suburban Club annual picnic remained a popular event. 1952 was to be no different, with the date set for 17 February and all the usual preparations put in place; buses chartered, ten nines (nine-gallon beer barrels) ordered and admittance prices agreed upon. Eleven days before the picnic, King George VI died. A special committee meeting on Monday 11 February postponed the picnic 'owing to 17 February being declared the National Day of Mourning'. The picnic was held the following month, and the new monarch would eventually reign for more than half the length of the Club's entire existence*.' 2022 *Extract from Dum Vivimus Vivamus: A History of the Moonee Ponds Club by  Paul G. Kennedy. Clarity in Design Publishing, Melbourne, 2021.

A shorter history of Saturday afternoon.

A long time before the ugly visual numeronym '24/7' became a commercial boast, the end of each week signalled a day and a half of rest. The period of time from midday on Saturday until Monday morning was a welcome release from the endless scheduling of daily life. But there was a frantic price to be paid for the pleasure of being unhitched from the tyranny of the clock for thirty-six hours. On Saturday mornings I stood, a nine-year-old and several years either side of nine, at the back of a throng of jostling shoppers in a blue-tiled, glass-fronted butcher shop in Moonee Ponds. Amid the smell of sawdust, blood, and raw meat, the butcher signalled the start of his weekly meat auction by waving his knife through the air, as if he were cutting through the stench. Frenzied bargain-hunting shoppers pressed forward and all but fought each other for the trays of weekend-sustaining bounty: chops, scrag-ends, roasts, flaps, oxtails, heads, innards, smallgood end-of-rolls. Moonee Ponds w

Culinary appropriation: Spanish potato and chorizo 'tortilla'.

The recipe called it a 'tortilla', but no flatbread was in it. Instead, potato. That made it Spanish. In the late 1500s, the Spanish conquered the Incas, and sailed potato-laden ships victoriously back into Europe. (There was some competition from a pirate named Drake who carried the same loot into England while Raleigh did the same for Ireland.) Spanish potato and chorizo tortilla. Sice about half a kilogram of potatoes thinly and boil them for a few minutes until not quite tender. Meanwhile, whisk six eggs with a generous splash of milk and a few cranks of pepper. In a pan, fry a chopped onion, two chopped garlic cloves and one sliced chorizo sausage. Stir this continuously for around five minutes until the onion softens and the chorizo starts crisping. Then add a teaspoon of paprika, stirring it through. Line a greased baking dish with the par-boiled potato, including around the walls of the dish. Then add the onion and chorizo mixture, pour the whisked eggs over the top and

The year I read Animal Farm.

The last thing I did that year was to read Animal Farm . There was nothing significant about it; the novel just happened to be at hand on that hot, close, steamy new year's eve. I finished it in a couple of hours, sweating on a stool propped up against a bench in the backyard art studio my father had built. The 'studio' was a neat white cube with a raked roof and windows to the north and west to catch the day and early evening sun. Inside, on a bench running the length of the room was a mess of paint tubes, brushes in old jars, palettes thick with hardened paint, bottles of thinners, oils and sealers; and paintings - finished, unfinished and barely started. The smell of a working art studio is bewitching. I sat amidst the linseedy redolence, switched on the downlight over the bench and opened the book. Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night ... . Some notes from an Emerson, Lake and Palmer track detached themselves from the radio on the shelf