Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Quick Update

In case you still wander over to this blog, and notice it is woefully out of date, that is cause we have a new one ... here.

Drop in if you want to know what we've been up to!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I'm Spinning Around

I was so sad to hear yesterday that Kylie has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Its not like she is the only person to have ever heard her doctor utter those terrible words but it is still a shock for many reasons.

Firstly, Kylie is only slightly younger than me, she has not had children and for all appearances seems fit and healthy. Secondly, since living her in the UK I have developed a fondness for the diminutive one. Up until I left Australia in early 2000, Kylie was not so well regarded over there and I was quite surprised when I got here to find she was pretty much help up as a national treasure. Ian helped me see that she was actually quite talented and from what I've seen of her in interviews and the like, she is rather a nice person. She is not sleazy or cheap but she manages to be sexy at the same time. I admire that about her - for all her sultryness, she still seems to be a private and reserved celebrity. I read this in The Guardian today and it pretty much sums up what I'm trying to say...

For all the visual stimuli her perfect proportions have offered, there is something curiously sexless about Minogue. She is sexualised, rather than erotic. Even those notorious gold hotpants had a cabaret feel about them, a cheeky wink rather than a full-frontal come-on. This may explain why, in the current era of Global Minogue, the whole world has taken to her. Everyone loves Minogue, from the lad mag readers to the pre-teen shriekers to the crowd at GAY.
Libby Brooks, The Guardian "The Girl Who Fell to Earth", May 18, 2005

I like Kylie a lot. I like her music and I like her style. I really hope she pulls through this terrible time in her life.

Reading: Graham Greene & The Princess Bride, William Goldman
Listening to: Assortment of Barry Manilow, Van Halen, Captain & Tenile toons on my wonderful birthday CD given me by my friend Sarah. Her name was Lola ....

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Last Post

Not really the last post. Just something taken out of this story I read in The Age yesterday which, for those who did not know, was ANZAC Day.

Fifteen Australian World War I soldiers killed in battle in Belgium finally came home this year - in an unexpected form - under the watch of the newest generation of defence forces.

Victorian air force cadet Robert Schneider and navy cadet Loretta Coste, both 19, were last year named among 12 RSL cadets of the year in Australia.

Their prize was a two-week European trip in February, including a tour of the Western Front. It was an eye-opening and emotional journey for the pair, who were also chosen to take part in today's dawn service at the Shrine Of Remembrance.

As Ms Coste yesterday put the finishing touches to a speech about the trip to deliver this morning, she remembered her time at Belgium's Menin Gate Memorial, where the Last Post is played every night at 8pm.

After laying a wreath, the young group was approached by an elderly Belgian man. The mysterious figure in a wheelchair carefully placed figurines made from shrapnel in their palms. His gesture reduced many to tears.

"He was making these little figurines for all the thousands of Australian soldiers who never made it home," Ms Coste said. "Every time an Australian would make it to the Last Post ceremony he would give them a figurine, and so he's slowly but surely sending home our Australians that never made it home.

The story of the ANZAC's has always made me that little bit proud to be an Australian. As a kid I remember going to the Dawn Service at the Shrine of Rememberance on St Kilda Road in Melbourne. And one cold winter night a few years ago, I stood by the Rememberance Flame in the fore court of the Shrine and, savoring its warmth thought about all it stood for.

I have just finished reading Bryce Courtney's Solomon's Song and the latter half of the book is a rather graphic telling of the Galipolli landings and the subsequent 8 month battle that consumed thousands of lives needlessly. I am of the generation that watched Peter Weir's Galipolli starring Mel Gibson and Mark Lee in my teens. I think the depiction of the English compared to the raw, fresh-faced, eager Australian & New Zealanders set forever in our minds the what those brave men ultimately fought for. They went out fighting for King and country and for mother England - they came back having experienced horrors only each other understood. They saw the futility of the campaign but rather than come home empty handed and beaten, they forged a legend of mateship that endures to this day.

Australians have never held much regard for authority. I suspect this stems from the nature of her settlement by the English who used the far flung island as a dumping ground for her lower classes and unsavory types. Funny how now, 200 years later that the number of English 'overstayers' i.e. visa expires but they don't leave, is higher than any other group of 'illegal immigrants' in Australia.

I digress. The Aussies disdain of authority - I wonder if the blokes who fought in those campaigns in WWI under the direction of old, weathered English Generals realised then that to hold a loyalty to distant monarch was not the way to go. Did they see then that they were being used as canon fodder for the English? Did they understand how lightly their plight was taken by those in authority, those calling the shots?

Nearly all the old diggers are dead now, they do not march in Melbourne on ANZAC Day anymore. However yesterday, 10,000 more people than last year attended the Dawn Service. This made me glad. I want to go next year and I want to take Ian with me. I feel it is important to remember those who fought well for their country - in a malestrom not of their making (I think I just quoted John Howard but he does not write his own speeches so I feel only slightly less dirty) for their sunburnt country and land of sweeping planes.

Listening to: Various Cold Chisel tracks.
Reading: Running in the Family, Michael Ondaatje

Friday, April 15, 2005

Who to Vote for ... ?

This is only really relevant if you live in the UK - where I might add, voting is not compulsory. Which I have to say annoys me beyond belief as everyone I meet feels quite qualified to bitch and moan about the state of the country yet as you quiz them as to their voting habits it more often than not trainspires that they do not!

Anyone, Ian sent me a quick quiz to ascertain which way one should vote. If you immediately rule out the Tories, goes without saying really - there is a rather grey area that is hard to navigate. Anyway, this is where you go to find out.

Your expected outcome:

Your actual outcome:

Labour -46
Conservative -45
Liberal Democrat 81
UK Independence Party 5
Green 64

You should vote: Liberal Democrat
The LibDems take a strong stand against tax cuts and a strong one in favour of public services: they would make long-term residential care for the elderly free across the UK, and scrap university tuition fees. They are in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, but would relax laws on cannabis. They propose to change vehicle taxation to be based on usage rather than ownership.

Take the test at Who Should You Vote For

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Fee Fi Fo Fum I am not an Englishwoman!

The title sounds a little hostile I know but its not meant to be. I guess it is just a slow lumbering revelation I have had since I got back from Melbourne at the end of Janary.

I am feeling quite like an outsider all over again but this time I am harborouring a slightly delicious feeling of rebellion to all things English. I have buried myself in a few Antipodean things like books, films and music. Pete Murray and My Friend the Chocolate Cake have been staples on Tim the iPod of late - sadly Ian can not bear the sound of Pete Murray's voice beyond the first 2 turns of the album so I listen to him in my head as his sound evokes hot tarmac roads under a burning, bleaching sun somewhere in Australia. God I miss that sun.

I woke up on a rare sunny, Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago and before I allowed myself to remember where I was I lay in bed and planned my long, lazy Saturday. I would go for an early morning walk along the beach from Port Melbourne to St Kilda - something my sister and I did 4 or 5 days a week the year before I left Melbourne. I would then going to go for lunch somewhere in Acland Street or if I was feeling a little flush, The Stokehouse would do nicely. I would then catch the 96 tram into the city and wander around all those juicy little Melbourne laneways that I love and savour the diversity and uniqueness of the shops and cafes burrowed therein.

I would then catch up with my sister or a girlfriend I have not seen in years and find yet another cafe and spend hours over pots of tea, delicious cake and earthy conversation. We would talk about everything from food to God to the journey called life and back to what on earth they put in those muffins to make them so good. By early evening I would be thinking about where to go for dinner so I would call Ian, find out what he felt like eating and pick a restaurant to suit. I know I would fancy tapas and so I would drag Ian over to Pelican in St Kilda and we would wile away a few hours over a bottle or 2 of rioja and some delish tapas tid bits followed by a walk along the beach to end a perfect Saturday watching the sun set behind the West Gate Bridge.

Some would say I am homesick. I would disagree. This goes beyond homesickness. Being homesick is a condition that travellers find themselves suffering from when they and their backpacks are tired of each other and just want to go home to their own bed and bath. A homesick person is tired of being on the go, a different bed every few days and food that is hard to pronounce let alone eat. Homesickness can be cured by curtailing a trip and returning to warmer (or more familiar) climes. I get homesick when I come to the end of a holiday in Spain or Greece or even Ireland. I yearn for my own bed and my own routine and essentially my own kitchen.

No, yearning for a way of life you left behind many years ago knowing you can not simply or quickly go back to it - that is my description of homesick. Listening to Paul Kelly or Crowded House does not fix this, in fact it only makes it worse. Music evokes places and times past and when you are far away from those places the ache is only exacerbated upon listening. But I listen anyway. I realised late last year that I have lived with this underlying homesickness for years but managed to deaden it with the newness and excitement that living in a new country brings. However with the advent of our return to Australia fast approaching all the things I have hung around my life to distract me are fast losing their glitter.

I run the risk here of becoming bitter and resentful, even angry at all the things that keep me from living in my homeland. I was angry last night coming home from work. Angry at overheated buses that make me sweat in winter, angry at the fact that my knowledge of a past life in Australia gives me that terrible ability to know better yet not be able to change anything, angry that even the simplest tasks are made impossible by an ancient beuacracy that never changes, angry and frustrated that sunny days and clear skies are a novelty rather than the norm. I could go on.

As I walked home from the bus stop in the half light Pete Murry filled my head with summer days and big skies and I cried for the yearning that nothing can mend. I looked up at the sky and looked for Orion - the same Orion I was surprised to see in the southern hemisphere in January while standing in my brother's front yard. See I thought Orion was a northern anomoly. I looked vainly too for the southern cross - my sign that I am home, centrered and in another place. I cried for a moment and I waited by the front gate, taking in the cool night air into my lungs and composed myself. I opened the front door and heard Ian in the kitchen and as I stepped into his arms I remembered what it was that makes this life I lead worthwhile and bearable and full to the brim despite all the things that niggle and pain. As Pete Murray sings ... "I am nothing without you"

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

My Gloves are off...

I left my black, leather gloves on the bus last week.

I loved those gloves. They were one of the leaving presents my English colleagues who I worked with in Melbourne gave me right before I left.

I have managed to not lose them for five consecutive English winters. Quite an achievement for me really as I am most definitely one for losing things.

So there you go. They are gone. I did call the bus company’s lost and found department but no body returned my call. I can not imagine I will see them again. In some ways that makes me sad as they did mean something. They were a gift from friends who knew how bitter an English winter can be and wanted to make sure my hands were never out in that kind of cold.

Although I would be lying if I did not say at this point that I am a little relieved. Why? I hear you ask. Well, I have come to really despise the greyness that signifies so much of winter in England. And after walking through five of them the prospect of a sixth is not one that warms my heart. Yes there are great things about winter and I have written of them here in detail. The weeks leading up to Christmas, the lights, the markets and the anticipation of snow. Crisp, cold, bright winter mornings where everything is covered is a fine frost. There is nothing like it and these are the memories I hope to recapture when I am old and grey sitting on a sunny porch back in Australia.

So if I believed in signs I guess I would want to believe that losing my black, leather gloves last week was the universe saying to me, in its secret language, that I will not be needing them again.

Listening to: Feeler, Pete Murray (over and over and over again)
Reading: Voyager, Diana Gabaldon

Monday, February 28, 2005

Snowflakes that fall on my nose and eyelashes...

Its been snowing across the UK for the last week or so and I have to confess I've loved it. I love the crispness of the landscape after it snows and the seeming stillness that pervades the air in the wake of a proper covering.

Last Friday I took my rather huge golf umbrella with me (suitably corporatised by my company's logo for I work in marketing now so this is one of the perks...). However, given the nature of this particular snow fall it was of absolutely no fecking use. The snow just seemed to swirl wildly around my lower limbs, clung to my coat with some of it even making up into my face. So I ditched the brolly pronto and tried to avoid inhaling rogue snowflakes.

This morning as I was leaving the house (late again as I stayed to watch what is fast becoming our favorite TV sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond because Channel 4 are airing it at the positively absurd time of 8.00 am!) I was faced with a veritable snow storm! OK, it was not as bad as that but as I pondered out loud whether to take my brolly with me, Ian gave me one of those looks that implied I would be rather soft* to do so. So given it had only just started snowing and it looked fairly innocuous, I left without said brolly.

Needless to say that by the time I got to the bus stop the snow was falling faster and fatter and by the time the bus got to town I was too scared to get off it. It was like walking into one of those The Price is Right games where squealing housewives scrabble for the money that is fluttering around with copious amounts of polystyrene filler. I was covered in the stuff and although it looked amazing, as soon as I entered our overheated building it melted, as snow is want to do. I was not a happy bunny.

And now I have to now trek out into what looks like sleet to meet Ian and my mother in law for lunch right across town.

What was Julie Andrews thinking?!

Listening to: My Dancing Bollocks playlist courtesy of Tim the iPod.
Reading: Dragonfly in Amber, Diana Gabaldon (yes, again!)

*Soft being a Northern term for anyone who can not endure a winter without heating, or who someone who can not walk in Manchester's infamous mizzle sans umbrella or down 10 pints of bitter, 2 kebabs and a curry and get themselves home without getting arrested.