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Showing posts from August, 2010

The new office.

It was an office in a tall anonymous building at the end of town in which people walk about with name tags hanging around their necks, just so they don't forget. They even wear them on the train. To and from. I wonder where they hang them when they get home. Maybe they leave them on. Percy Grainger, Level 65, Collins Street, Melbourne. Over red striped flannelette pyjamas and brown checked Grosby slippers. I love the adventure of working in a new office. Not new, but new to me. Sometimes I get called in just for a day, sometimes a week, sometimes two or more, depending on what they want done. The adventure of a new office is whether the computers work, if the people are nice, and what's in the kitchen. The people were nice. It's a funny thing. The first thing they tell you when you arrive is the way to the kitchen. 'Grab yourself a coffee,' they say. 'Kitchen's that way.' And they wave an arm about wildly. I'd fortified myself with tea before

Ode to a Daughter.

Recorded 40 years before the event, and would have been useful 30 years ago when Alexandra's (and W.'s and T.'s) much older sister was born. But no internet then, of course. Nice strings and harmonies. Not sure about about the 'bought her' and 'daughter' rhyming, however. A little clunky. Glen Shorrock went on to form Little River Band; Brian Cadd previously mentioned here .


I dusted some flathead tails in flour and a little salt and pepper and threw them into the pan. I had to hurry. The boys were hungry. It was early evening, about six o'clock, still patchy light in the western sky now, but overcast with the threat of heavy rain. The pan was hot and lightly greased with a mixture of peanut oil and ghee. I shook it once or twice as the fish sizzled and the flame caught the oil and the ghee and flared up over the stove. The boys screamed with excitement, thinking I was about to burn the house down, and the fish finished with a nice barbecued flavour. Rounds of potato were frying in the other pan and turning golden brown. Just how they like them. * I had taken them to the pool earlier, the indoor heated one. Tom has almost learned to swim and William at last can place his head under water. It's a start. Tom flies off the edge into the water with a running jump and surfaces in the middle of the pool. No fear. You have to watch him. William wades

Salad, in this weather?

The weather’s been bleak. I took the boys up to see the waterfall at Coburg lake. This is a regular trip in very rainy weather, but the view of the waterfall had been spoiled by the installation of one of those exercise stations, a kind of grown-up playground in which people climb on to machines that look like medieval torture racks and make their arms go around in circles while their legs pump up and down, or look like a chicken while their legs do fast scissors. Don’t people go for a walk any more? The waterfall crashed and the boys watched the water flooding over the Merri Creek bike path, and superimposed in front of the scene two exercisers were swinging around madly. Then they tired of it and walked away, slowly, as if exhausted. The waterfall continued to crash and roar and we got to see it properly for a while, and then more fast-scissors and chicken people came along and spoiled the scene again. That night it rained and the wind blew and it seemed like winter was only jus

Cold gold.

Last Sunday morning, ten minutes to seven.

I boiled half a medium sweet potato and a carrot ...

Yes, a recipe. It's about time. This one goes back a few weeks when I was ill enough to be eating soup, but not too ill to want a little heat and taste and colour in my food. Sweet potato and carrot soup. While the sweet potato (orange type) and the carrot were cooking in one pot, I sweated a large chopped onion in some peanut oil in a frying pan, adding a scored clove of garlic after a few minutes. When they were done, I reserved a little cooked onion and processed the rest with the sweet potato and carrot, adding a cup of the cooking liquid (or use stock) along with a chopped raw medium-hot chilli pepper* and two cardomom pods. Adjust stock as required. I tipped the puree into a pot and reheated the soup, adding half a cup of full-cream milk and salt and pepper. To serve, I added a spoonful of the fried onions and some thick (e.g., Greek-style) yogurt. I took it in bed with a book and the early afternoon sun streaming in the window. I could get used to this. *The long red

Why is this baby smiling?

My mother-in-law says they cannot smile yet. It looks like a smile. She is a week old in the picture. Retrospective: William , in his second day; and Thomas at three days.

Scene Two.

FATHER is now standing over the crib. MOTHER is reading; the elephants have retired for the night. Silence reigns. FATHER gazes at the infant. He turns momentarily back to MOTHER. FATHER: Sure is a big one. You must have a champion hammer-thrower in your family tree. MOTHER: Not that I know of. Maybe a caber-tosser. But I thought it was you. FATHER: Not us. We were distance athletes. Thin as rakes. Except for my grandfather. He used to laugh at us when we'd be madly lacing up our shoes to go out for a run, and tell us he'd never jogged a step in his life. He died a week short of 99. MOTHER: That was the breathing he saved along the way. Actually, my grandmother's responsible. She was tiny, the size of a sparrow. One of my aunts was 10 pounds at birth. That was in Scotland in the 1930s. And born at home. Turned out to be an average sized adult, but she just got off to a good start. FATHER: All that porridge and clootie dumpling during pregnancy I suppose. MOTHER:

The curtain rises.

And the stage is in darkness for a second or two, until a soft spotlight falls on a small item of furniture at stage left. It is a crib. In the crib is a newborn infant. The infant is a girl. She is asleep. A soft click is heard. The light over the crib fades low and another spotlight falls stage right on two easy chairs on either side of a round table on which rests a lamp. MOTHER, reading a $9.95 Penguin reissued copy of Brideshead Revisited , and FATHER, reading a newspaper, sit in the chairs. The remains of afternoon tea rest on the table alongside the lamp. The scene remains thus for several seconds until broken by noises off. The noises sound like the approach of stampeding elephants. A door crashes, unseen. A boy, pursued by a smaller boy, gallops onto the stage. The latter boy follows. His arm is outstretched, and his finger and thumb are cocked, as if to shoot. They slide to a stop, glance at MOTHER and FATHER, and remain in position for several seconds. FATHER's ne