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Showing posts from January, 2020

Walking map.

I was out walking in the early afternoon sunshine just like the song said (see Noel Coward, Leon Russell or Joe Cocker). It was a sultry afternoon, about 40 degrees. The streets were empty. It was just too hot. I was heading west on a wide, quiet street on the better side of the railway line, where the 1950s yellow brick houses sit behind neat gardens and lawns and stretch out in rows over the hill, undisturbed by the box apartments that are turning the suburb into a grey and black monotone closer to the railway station. As I came to a crossroad, a ute came around and pulled up and the driver leaned out and yelled something to me. He was red-faced and lost. Old but not elderly, some kind of a tradesman, and looking like he was looking for something. Pardon? I said. He named a street. I pointed. I know most of the streets around here. I stepped onto the road, went up to the car window. Have you got a Melways? I said. He had better than that. He had a phone. I pointed again, but

Coffee-coloured steeples by the score*.

The sun didn't set on Tuesday night; it disappeared behind clouds of dust. The sky was a variegated colour or shade or tone or whatever you want to call it of the kind of brown often referred to as 'beige', 'camel', 'taupe', 'fawn', or 'mushroom'. Actually no - it was coffee: a much better name than any of the other five. The coffee sky was backlit by the westering golden sun and it glowed and looked like an enormous painted set for some epic western movie. The variegated coffee was dust from north-west Victoria, probably around the Hattah-Kulkyne national park, being blown south-east towards the city. It rained during the night and next morning everything was coffee-coloured. Cars, fences, even the local church steeple had turned coffee. It was not dust; it had no real grain to it. Anything heavier had fallen on its several hundred kilometre airborne journey. It was just powder. Coffee powder. *Apologies to Roger Greenaway and Roger C

Ed River Valley.

The cabin was in a caravan park located just outside town, on the edge of the Edward River, an anabranch of the Murray River. You wouldn't miss the caravan park. It was on the main highway a few hundred metres before it curved across the bridge into town. We had left the big smoke - which was literally the big smoke - early on an intensely hot Wednesday, but it wasn't that bad. Melbourne having 'the worst air quality in the world' was hyperbole. The smoke seemed to disperse as we moved north on the Hume Highway, turning off past Seymour via Shepparton; but that night there was still a brilliant red moon, the red of the desert, not the coppery glow you would expect of a smoky atmosphere. The cabin was perched on the edge of a valley which ran alongside the caravan park, a dry watercourse which must have been some other sub-branch of the river. The land is flat all around here so the water wanders where it will. If it is there. The day wore on. I found refuge from

Steel or wood?

Timber is better than steel or concrete : French architects want the roof of the fire-ravaged Notre-Dame Cathedral to be rebuilt in wood and not in metal or concrete. One of the heads of the country's biggest architects' body said reconstructing the roof in anything other than the original wood would be a mistake. The intervention by Eric Wirth of the Guild of French Architects comes amid controversy over French President Emmanuel Macron's wish for the spire of the 13th-century monument to be given a "contemporary" touch. ... "The most modern and ecological material today is wood," Wirth said Wednesday, which, as well as being more fire-resistant than the alternatives, also traps carbon, he insisted. ... "The cathedral has been there for 800 years. Had it been built in concrete or steel it would not still be there," he added. "Even with all the (chemical) protection treatments, given the intensity of the blaze... the steel would have held

Beasts of Burdon.

I got through the book in a couple of hot afternoons in a chair in the shade, slightly cooled by a south-westerly off Bass Strait. Eric Burdon might not have been all that easy to get along with. He all but admits it in Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood . He makes band decisions on the run, is often drunk or drugged, and lands in prison or goes bust more than once in the course of three hundred pages of the misadventures of a Geordie. He gets himself into trouble on just about every page. Or other people do. There is little chronology. The chapters wriggle over the decades like the squirming, dying notes of 'House of the Rising Sun'. The book is essentially a series of anecdotes told in Geordie conversational. Burdon may be the least rock-star-like rock star in existence given the tone of the book. He doesn't even talk much about his songs, let alone rhapsodise. This is a good thing. Burdon is no bore pinioning the reader with the minutiae of recording sessions, or endl