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Showing posts from January, 2012

The pier.

He broke out of the water and pushed towards the piling. His brother was already there. They rode up and down on the swell, must have been three or four feet, and wore wetsuits against the crusted mussels and other shells on the piling. They pulled themselves up the ladder and went off the edge of the pier again. Tom surfaced and called out he’d been to the bottom. We were four hundred metres from the shore. The pier was a swarm of people, loose boards rattling under hundreds of feet. Flags were everywhere. People were wearing them. There was even one in the sky, trailing a biplane. The plane flew east and disappeared over Arthur’s Seat. The boys jumped into the water from the lower landing, swam under the pier boards, out again, up the ladder, into the water. A muffled rhythmic whump echoed from the shore. It was three in the afternoon. They pulled off their flippers and we walked down the pier. Away from the water it was hot. The whump from the shore formed itself into a noise fr

Vegetables that squeak.

Favourite vegetable? Depends on the season. Right now, as summer sails serenely into the bloom of early middle age, I’m enjoying: • eggplant brushed with garlic-infused olive oil on the outdoor grill at sunset; • zucchini done the same way; • warm salad of sweet potato, toasted macadamias and snipped coriander; • silverbeet cooked with aromatic fenugreek (dried) with a touch of yogurt and chilli flakes swirled through; • potato salad with spring onion and crisped prosciutto tossed over the top; • asparagus not much more than merely blanched then rolled in cracked pepper and dipped in orange-flavoured mayonnaise - snap! crack! zing!; and • Brussels sprouts tossed with butter, pine nuts and chopped chili peppers. Not all at once, of course. Another favourite vegetable is the one that looks like a cross between a duckling and a flying saucer: the yellow button squash. Pasta with vine-ripened tomatoes and button squash Trim and quarter six button squash. (Choose squa

Barbecue roasted rack of lamb with mint, garlic and yogurt sauce.

The advertising industry knows how to milk an idea and run with it until it is as dead as Burke and Wills’ last camel, as anyone who has switched on a television, radio computer recently might know. Sam Kekovich isn’t dead by a long shot, but for the eighth year in succession he barks his way in an obnoxious monotone through a sea of bad puns in the Australia Day lamb campaign. It’s done to death, like a barbecue chop that has fallen into the coals. Throw it to the dog. But don’t let the campaign put you off. Buy a lamb rack and light the barbecue. These long warm nights won't last forever. Go outside and enjoy the aroma of barbecued lamb with a hint of mint and garlic drifting across the garden. The mint is reaching for the sky in its captive cell in the back garden, so let’s use some. Pick a dozen sprigs of mint and use these to line a large square of foil. Place the lamb rack on the mint. Give it a generous squirt of vinegar, and a good shake of salt. Toss in a few unpeeled

Eighties singer dangles from clothesline.

Now this is complicated, so let’s go back a step. I drive old cars, because old cars are better than new cars, and because driving a car manufactured twenty years ago is better for the environment than buying a new car - even a Prius - every other year, or every ten years for that matter. Those batteries are murder on the environment, and the electricity just shifts your emissions into someone else's air. Plus, electric cars kill people because they are silent. Last year I was nearly run over by a Prius driven by an inattentive vegetarian backing out of the organic fruit store car park at the top of Lygon Street where the old Liberty cinema used to be. Old cars mean vintage technology: each of mine has something called “stereo with Dolby”, which is prehistoric sound reproduction equipment installed in the dash, where in today's cars you would find video screens, coffee cup holders, geographic positioning systems, internet interfaces, iPod docks, phone chargers, and maps that
Thursday, 16 December 1971 There comes a stage in every journey when you just want to get there and to hell with the scenery. The salt shower was the turning point. I had slept the night in the top bunk feeling grimy in the intense heat, and all I wanted was to plunge into the Indian Ocean at the end of the road. OK, that’s salt water too. But different. My cousin and I had been patient. We’d crawled a thousand miles in a westerly direction and it was progress. But then, at Norseman, we ran smack into the world’s biggest detour. Perth is directly west, but to get there you have to drive 150 miles north to Kalgoorlie or 200 miles south to Esperance. How do you decide? Toss a coin? It’s desert whatever way you choose. I wondered how many motorists had felt inclined to just crash the road barrier and plough straight through the dust. At 8 a.m. the car sat at the intersection with its right indicator ticking patiently while several northbound road trains thundered past. Then we turned

Why people don't write letters.

I needed a stamp to post a letter. I fought my way to the post office through the pigeons that plague Victoria Mall, and managed to enter without hitting one or one hitting me. They are everywhere. They sit on the wires and the shopfronts like fat brown and grey sentinels and scrabble about on the ground and swoop onto the tables and chairs outside the cafes and get under your feet. All the shops in the mall have signs reading 'Do Not Feed the Pigeons' but people feed them anyway. The queue in the post office was long and full of people not buying stamps, and it snaked its way around merchandise including boxes marked 'large telescope', alarm clocks in football team colours, childrens DVDs, a table of Christmas decorations marked '50% off', and a display of flatpacked birdbaths.

Oenglish: the language of labels.

The label on the wine bottle said the wine inside was 'affable'. It was a Victorian shiraz, 2008. I have forgotten the maker, who might be an affable chap. But I suspect he meant either quaffable or approachable, or a meaning in between those words. Happy new year.