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Showing posts from June, 2021

Breyer channels Voltaire.

‘ ... sometimes it is necessary to protect the superfluous in order to preserve the necessary.' Given the level of cancellation currently swirling around the Western world, the US Supreme Court’s admonition last week was timely.

Leftover Feelings: an ode to the second-hand car.

One of our two cars was stolen out of the driveway a week ago. It was an old Camry, but Toyotas never stop.  To replace it, I'd been to Ringwood on Friday and nearly bought an Avalon, and Williamstown the day before and nearly bought a Holden Viva, and prior to that I'd spent a day's due diligence on Carsales. I made a shortlist. On Saturday morning I took the freeway south. It was a nice morning, pale sun breaking through. It was the second day out of that fourth C19 shutdown thing, and Melbourne was catching up with itself on yet another groundhog freedom day. Off the Record's tunes were floating around inside the car, gold and shimmering notes bouncing off the windows in the winter freeway sun streaming through the glass as the car slipped past Toorak, Malvern East, and Chadstone. In between the music the RRR-FM announcer was interviewing Jerry Douglas, who was saying the studio - RCA's famous Studio B - in which the album was recorded could be heard in the music

Cornish pasties: the search for 'authenticity'.

Google: there it is, waiting silently and patiently in your device, like an English butler, to tell you everything you want to know. In the old days, you would ask your wise grandmother. Now, she probably gets her information from the internet as well. Example: feeling unwell? Look up your symptoms, then go to the doctor and tell him what's wrong with you. Saves time. Then there's cooking. Everyone googles their dinner. The other night I made Cornish pasties. I had a bit of a look around online. Everyone was saying theirs was 'authentic', as if they had an aunt who had been married to a Cornish miner who liked carrying unwrapped food in his pocket to eat three hours later when he was two hundred feet underground digging up tin. The multitude of online recipes for Cornish pasties insisted variously on skirt, chuck or rib-eye steak; swede or turnip (apparently the same thing in some places); carrot; black or white pepper; potato diced or sliced; frozen peas; thyme; rosema

Crowded house.

Yes, of course, the ex-farm girl had killed, plucked and gutted the chickens, boning the meat and setting the giblets aside for soup, without batting an eye. The chickens had been purchased for that very purpose, but they’d been around long enough (for fattening up; not that a bantam gets very fat) to have earned names. There was more to the story. I've omitted some characters. There was another child at the small kitchen table. My grandfather's sister Mary had died, leaving a ten-year-old son to an unreliable father who turned him over to his mother-in-law. My grandfather took them both into his household, formally adopting the child. So his mother (my great-grandmother) is at the table as well, or more likely in the easy chair near the stove. Rearrangement of the single-fronted Edwardian terrace occurred. My grandfather flew around with a hammer and timber and cement sheeting, and Len and his cousin/adoptive brother Robert migrated to the new sleepout (translation: bungalow)

The Short Happy Lives of Winny and Dynon.

She was sitting in the sun, and her mind rolled back down the decades to the days, when war had ended, of repair and gladness and sadness and regrowth. The sun warmed her, and she told the story. Winny was named after Winston Churchill, and Dynon after the great North Melbourne captain and centreman. Winny and Dynon were small bantam hens. It was 1947. Postwar optimism was co-mingled with severe shortages in materials, building supplies, clothing and food. It was called austerity. Australians were packing food parcels and sending them off to Britain - great and wonderful Britain - source of our laws and our stoicism and our culture and our ... recipes. Len was twelve. He was my mother's younger brother. The bantam hens were his, and they lived in the back yard of the single-fronted terrace in Ascot Street, Ascot Vale, directly across from the racecourse, which had recently been turned over to public housing. Bantams can fly. It would have been easy for them to escape. Len restraine