Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reading the Russians

The five big boys of Russian literature.

I consider myself pretty well read. But I've never read the Russians.

I tried to read Brothers Karamazov quite a few years ago, and no doubt I picked up my mother's copy of War and Peace a few times after one of her rants on how much she loved it, and oh Pierre, Pierre, sort of thing.

As you know I've just finished Lolita, and while Nabokov doesn't really count as one of the Russians when you talk about reading the classics (ok, he doesn't at all) I feel I've started on the Russians, and I am determined to read them.

I've read some of the English, and some of the Americans. I haven't read the French and don't really feel compelled to. But I am feeling compelled to read the Russians.

This is my list (after asking for advice elsewhere):

Dead Souls - Nikolai Gogol

Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Anna Karenin - Leo Tolstoy. (NOT KareninA. D'oh.)

Fathers and Sons - Ivan Turgenev

War and Peace - Tolstoy.

And Anton Chekhov's short stories.

I just went down to the second-hand book store of Fitzroy Street where I never get anything off a list, and managed to get Anna K and Crime and Punishment. I also picked up a copy of Edward Said's Orientalism. I read Said when I was doing my lit. review for my thesis.

Recently, I just finished (after Lolita) a quick Helen Garner (The Children's Bach, and with it completed my reading and purchase of all her books - I think) and have started Murray Bail's The Pages, a slender book which I fear will accompany me only so far on my Russian journey. I might need to dip into other bits and pieces, or I might be able to read them solidly. We shall see. Wish me luck.

PS Managed to farm out the kids and spent the weekend at Werribee Mansion at the hotel there. Joseph's restaurant has a new chef and the food at dinner last night was amazing. We tootled around the place for 2 nights and a day; saw the animals, played pool, had a swim in the pool, wandered the mansion, watched Bruno on the in-house movie service, drank champagne that we took in, and on the Friday night, had a picnic on the floor of our room - it should be a new trend and I'm starting it now. Picnics on the floor of classy hotel rooms. Believe me, too much fun. Cheaper than room service.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Hilarity, in two parts

Part One - A Man's Intentions Might Seem Dodgy

Woman sends husband to video store to try to get the original Lolita (1960s version with James Mason) and also not-so-great 1997 version with master-creep Jeremy Irons.

Early-teen daughter one says: "Oh, and can you please get Little Mermaid and Cinderella while you're there?" (she is on a Disney nostalgia kick.)

Early-teen daughter two asks for Step Up and Step Up Two. Teen gymnast movies.

Husband comes back embarrassed at standing at the counter and asking for these movies. To try to counter suspicions store clerk might be developing, he also borrows Ruff Tuff and Real which sounds like porn but is in fact a nod to his own retro-nostalgic desires: legends of Australian wrestling dvd featuring Ron Miller, Mario Milano, King Curtis and Larry O'Dea.

He came back, we laughed uproariously, then I said: "Where's the first Lolita? Didn't they have it? It was out??"

Stage Two - The Reclamation of a Husband's Reputation

I called the video store, told them that my husband had just been down there asking for Lolita and could I put my name down for that when it comes in, also for the Little Mermaid.


Everything is again all right in the world.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday Special

I very rarely write about music. It's mostly because I don't really have it in my life much. I have to remember to listen to music, or to turn the radio on. In the car, now I am commuting 45 mins each way to work three days a week, that's an hour and a half a day I could be listening to music. But I don't. It crowds me, my space shrinks, and I feel I have little enough space as it is. For my thoughts, you see. I like it to be just me and my thoughts. I spend this driving time thinking about stuff, mostly my writing at the moment, and at the lights, I grab bits of paper - old shopping lists, petrol receipts - to scribble an idea or a note. I've always done this. I possibly have more bits of paper in my possession than I do hairs on my head. And that's saying something.

But recently there's been a couple of musical items in my world that have spurred me to present here.

The first is the couple of articles I've read in the paper about Ry Cooder. I didn't read the articles, oh no no no. Boring. But just seeing his name, and the connection for me with the soundtrack to Paris, Texas, was evocative enough to stir me into action.

I remember the impact Paris, Texas had on my when I first saw it. It's a lovely movie. Lovely. And a big facet of that enjoyment was the haunting soundtrack by Ry Cooder.

A sample:

The link between this movie and another of my favourite movies (not for musical reasons, for story reasons) is Natassja Kinski, who was Polanski's Tess.

Another beautiful movie, and a good book too.

Finally, the second musical snippet for this weekend. Last night, I was moaning about having to go and see the Painters and Dockers at their first-gig-in-20-years gig. Just like the old days of seeing bands in pubs, I found a spot at the back where I could watch, my friend D bopped up the front. I wonder if she got knocked and sprayed when the old rockers did crowd surfing and stubby shake-ups. I left before the end, but I enjoyed. To see Colin on drums (he was someone we knew, he dated a friend/s) and to see Paul Stewart with the same energy and charisma I remember from the old days, was a treat. He was still rocking the Hitler 'tache too, which was strangely appealing and sexy. He flashed a brown eye, opened his shirt and let his ample gut come out to play. And, yes, the crowd was mostly old bags and dudes like me. A few flashback familiar faces from the '80s, and in that way, a weird intersection with the '80s diaries I'm publishing here.

The songs were good and loud but while I had earplugs in my bag, I didn't need them because I am pretty deaf already. The volume was just right for me. I'm sure there's a reason for that. The stage was in a different place - it's years since I was there last.

The big trumpets were good, Die Yuppie Die was a favourite with the crowd, Basia, All Men Are Bastards is something D and I used to sing to each other back then, and Nude School. It was fun and nostalgic and then I walked up the street and was in bed by 1am. Nicely done.

Live on a Daddo tv show. Worth watching.

Soul Child - fantastic live video. This was me out at night in the '80s. This is what it was like, all you young thangs. So nostalgic. Love it!

And while on the subject of music nostalgia, I am particularly pleased to have found this on youtube. I've looked before and never found it.

I'm in it. Look carefully, and you will see me.

You just won't know it's me. Mwahahaha.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hello Again Friday

How quickly you roll around.

Some thoughts for today:

1. I am reading Lolita for the first time. Believe it or nutt! I am more than half-way through. The language is sumptuous, he wrote it beautifully and I do love the inner monologue of Humbert Humbert. Did you know that he's only about 38 or 39 in the novel? And we all thought he was a dirty old lech. No, he's a young, good-looking lechy bastard. For those people who think that he shows his morals and guilt and many qualms about defiling Lolita in his internal talk, and that he is torn and bedevilled with doubts and often on the cusp of stopping, oh you fools, you are wrong. You cannot in this way possibly find some excuse for his behaviour - also, this troublesome argument some have that she seduced him, etc - you people too are wrong.

Yes, he does make several nods to his worries about having besmirched her (he does make the point that she wasn't virgin when he started on her, without using that word), but these are a handful of times, and could be argued to be just an occasional spasm of conscience, which breaks through what is his usual state of continual, priapic arousal and determination to fuck her every day. And to creepily watch other young "nymphets." HH is coarse when he talks about older women (btw, an older woman can include college co-eds, who to his particular brand of aesthetic are simply former nymphets buried within ugly layers of extra flesh.) He is clearly not physically attracted to any female above the age of about 16? He is revolted by them (us, me) and also makes references several times to periods spent in sanitoria, exchanges with psychiatrists and doctors.

I also don't think anyone can make the argument that he is merely trying to complete some sort of romantic/sexual fixation that was unfinished when he was 13. That he himself is trapped in his own childhood and needs to make a psychological closure. He talks about that suggestion not really being true.

It's clear that in the first instance Lolita did seduce him, and from her innocent viewpoint, initiate him into the ways of intercourse (something she had "learnt" at summer camp - "haven't you ever done this before?" she asks him, as she holds his "life" in her sweet, young hands.) But a little while later, her mood becomes savage; she is cranky, upset, angry. She pushes his hand away, but he persists. He is relentless. He talks of having fucked her (and he never uses such language, oh, it's all prettied up) three times "vigorously" one morning. He talks of her buttocks being bitten by bugs as they do it in nature. He talks of travelling all over the country with her, pretending they are father and daughter, and in the bit where I'm up to, he talks of her passing through her nymphettage, and that one day maybe he can "make her" have their baby, a Lolita Two, who he can then abuse. And even, incredibly, he says that if there is a Lolita Three he can initiate her into the ways of a loving grandfather. This is the proof to me, of how perverse this character is; he is talking full-on incest here. If one could argue that stepfather-stepdaughter is not biological incest, he is moving towards the next stage with these fanciful thoughts; ideas that give him glee.

Now get me here. I'm not especially repulsed by the idea of HH and Lolita. It's fiction, and fiction doesn't repulse me. Not at all. And if he were her biological father, my reaction would be more visceral, but still I'd be able to read it fairly dispassionately, like I do most of my fiction. (Yes, I can cry and sob, but it's usually because something has resonated in me about my life or my inner child or my inner world, not because I am so enthralled with the characters that I am empathising with them. No it's all about me. As it usually is.) But I am disturbed by the viewpoint of Humbert; by his rationalising, his justifications. We know from early on, around the first page, that he becomes incarcerated at some stage, that he has become a murderer (whether literally or metaphorically is unclear at the outset.)

It's interesting the way Nabokov has written this character. He is so vivid and real. We know there are these creeps out there in the world, or maybe not so far away, maybe next door? in our own homes and families? grooming children, watching them, seeing them as prey, seeing their own perverse predilections as natural, normal, love. This is patently so wrong. So creepy and sick. All Humbert is about is his own lust and emotions. But I think he swings without it being made obvious, I think there is a little bit of conscience. Even so, he is unable to resist. He just can't stop. Like an alcoholic, a gambler, an overeater, a liar. All these compulsions cannot be denied. It's a sickness, a disease.

I know the ending but I am interested to see how we get there.

Is Humbert a sympathetic character? I don't know. Nabokov has certainly done well to present him how he is. There is some sympathy for him, trapped in his own self, you could say. And the way Lolita is characterised - she is not a lovely, innocent naif who you immediately feel protective of. But when he writes of her sobbing in Humbert's arms after a coupling, you feel her distress and want to march into the scene and pull her from him. Belittle him, call him a fucking creep and how dare he, and take Lolita away, clean her up, put her into school, psychologise her back to normality. Because no matter how this book has been written, some will see it as material to justify their own sicknesses. Others who aren't that sick will be titillated, still others will see the beauty - but really, what beauty is there in this? Just the words. The deeds are ugly, all of them.

I'm thinking this is going to be one of my favourite books, only because it is so different to everything I've read before, it's so well written, and the characters, ah the fiction of it. Simply marvellous.

Wow, there's nothing like a book review to clear the pipes in the morning.

I really don't know that there can be a worthwhile number 2 after that, but just briefly.

2. The Freddo case. Glad it's been dropped. How ridiculous.

3. Catherine Deveny said something I actually agreed with this week. Not the bit about Melbourne Grammar's principal using his connections to help the egg-ear boy. But the bit where she followed up about the approach by a school for mentors for their students. Good on her for exposing it, and not cowering. She is gusty and you have to like that. I do.

4. Fucking Painters and Dockers don't go on until 11.30 tonight and this old chook is not happy. I don't want to go at all, but I'm meeting friends and blah de blah. Annoying.

5. Not working today. Yay.

6. Hot again today. Boo.

7. WONDERFUL article on Wednesday about the lift drivers in the Nicholas Building in Swanston Street. WONDERFUL.

8. We haven't bought a house yet. Seems impossible. Without going to Lilydale or somewhere like that. Grrr.

9. Have a fab idea for next story. Excitingestnessness. It's a very old idea with a new dimension.

10. The next Twilight movie - New Moon - is out. One daughter saw it yesterday, the other tonight, and the first daughter will see it again tomorrow. She is all aquiver and squealing and I swear I saw the shadow of Beatlemania on her face last night.

"Can a child have a heart attack?" is what she said to me safely back home from Forks, sitting on the couch.

11. So I've got my period and I'm crampy but not so crabby which is good. I always associate the word "crabby" with Lucy out of Peanuts. Funny that.

12. I really don't want to go out tonight. Bloody hell.

13. Samson and Delilah is on ABC1 on Sunday night. I am looking forward to it. Want to tape it, watch it, and offer it to the older girls. Princess is into stuff like that, but it might be a bit heavy.

14. Limoncello is going well I guess. I am stirring every week or so. It's now only Day 15 though. Far out. Long way to go. I have it in the cool, in the shade, and with a chop stick to stir occasionally.

15. That's it. Back to bed and book. Happy Friday everyone.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How gratifying

"Research has confirmed that English is 'the worst' language to learn to read - of those that learn the Roman alphabet." (from the Age, today.)

I wish I'd finished reading that sentence before I rushed to write my opinion of it.

But of course it's difficult. It's so a-phonetic.

As someone who can read the phonetic code, and has learned other languages both phonetic (Turkish, Japanese) and not-really-that phonetic (French), it kind of chuffs me that English is the hardest one. I like it that the hardest, worst one is MY ONE.

It doesn't surprise me. Over the years I've had many a student who was learning English as a second language who has bemoaned the lack of reason, the lack of consistency, the lack of rule.

I once heard it said that there is no more poetic language than written Arabic. Note the word "written" there for it is most relevant. But apparently you haven't known the beauty of the Koran if you haven't heard it or read it in Arabic. I believe that.

I once had a French person say to me "I lurve ze Anglish ak-sont. Eet ees so egg-zotique fer us Franch peeples" for me to then go, "Oh, but we love the French accent" and for her to screw her nose up in distaste.

How can you not love that? There's a whole story there. Are you sure you want me to stop the diaries at Dec 31 1989 Mr PQ?

My first husband was a Turk whose family speaks Arabic as many-generation-before immigrants in Turkey. It was a long time before I realised the Turkish I was learning (mostly the cuss words, I fuck your God, Allahana sikerim, son of a donkey, eŞol eŞek, I fuck your pussy, amanakoyum) was being reproduced by me in an approximated Arabic accent. His thick accent, which he always was self-conscious about, I couldn't even hear. Because it was an accent in another language which was foreign to me. Do you get how many layers of difficulty there are in that? What sorts of linguistic somersaults do new Australians have to deal with?

I love language. Let me make that clear.


I picked Cate Blanchett's sub-par Soviet accent in the recent Indiana Jones movie - the skull one. She rounded her vowel sounds where they should have been flattened. So English, such a giveaway inflection. So wrong.

I don't want to learn another language. I have had my fill. Not interested in Spanish, or Italian or any of the Slavic langues. Russian interests me, but only academically. I don't think I can be bothered investing when there is the Internet to translate what I need. Such as freak =

In 1986 (?) (coming up in diaries) in Bali, I sat in a hut on stilts near the beach on one of the three islands off the west coast of Lombok. For about seven days, I had a guy come and teach me Bahasa-Indonesia in the afternoons. I learnt a bit, which I have since forgotten.

But that rudimentary attempt at language is so far removed from, say, Nabaokov writing Lolita in English first, and then translating it himself into Russian.

That blows my mind. Big time.

When I was at uni, at teacher's college, years ago, I remember a class to do with cross-cultural communication or similar. The teacher was passionate, and oh so knowledgeable. It was maybe a semester course, and I FUCKING LOVED IT. She talked one day about bread. The significance of bread across many cultures. The words for it in different languages, the idiom, expressions like "bread = money" and "to have a bun in the oven." Bread is so highly valued by many cultures around the world. For example in Turkey, you cannot throw out bread, no matter how old, how rock hard it is. I used to get shit from my ex for throwing bread away. So I'd keep it, let it turn to granite, let him try to eat it. It's ok to feed it to birds, mind you. They are Allah's creatures as well.

And there are expressions not just to do with bread, but food.

Apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Apple of her father's eye.
She'll be apples.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Bring home the bacon.

Sugar and spice and all things nice.

What else have we got?

Ah words. You have to love them. I do.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hello Friday

Recently, I was wondering about a blogger friend Pepsi. I wondered where she had got to, and she has since made contact (glad you're ok!)

While I was checking her profile, to see if somehow magically she had started a blog, or linked to anything at all, there was a link to another blog. I went and looked at that blog and saw a wonderful list.

I do like a list.

So I have shamelessly stolen it, but will of course credit the person it came from.

I couldn't be bothered tailoring it to my own specific world, so just went through his list and commented. Interesting, we have some similar desires, and some very different ones (mainly to do with sport, and that would probably be because he is a male.)

My version of the list:


1. See the Pyramids and climb inside one
Been to, haven’t been inside. Rode horses around.

2. Climb to Macchu Pichu
Haven’t done, would like to.

3. Go to Istanbul and have tea & haggle with a carpet seller
Have done, but I married the carpet seller.

4. Walk from Coast to Coast - St Bee’s to Robin Hood Bay (190 miles)
If that’s in England, and I think it is, I would very much like to do a walking tour of England.

5. Walk part of the Camino de Santiago
Not sure where this is. Brazil?

6. Write a story & have it published
Yes, this is a serious dream.

7. Have a photo I took published in a book or magazine
Nup, don’t care about this one.

8. Learn to paint/draw
I can draw, and I am a fierce doodler. Would like to paint, don’t need to “learn.” I’m a natural.

9. Learn to play an instrument – piano/guitar/bass/violin (haven’t picked one yet)
Nup, don’t really care about this.

10. Spend a year working for a charity in a third world country

11. Run a small pub that has live bands
No way, would hate it. Am already deaf, drink too much and now I don't smoke, I don't want to stink of other people's smoke. On a regular basis.

12. Cruise along the Nile
Wanted to, got there, didn’t do. Disappointed? Not much.

13. Take a trip on the Orient Express
Kind of did this, but it was in economy class where there were Africans under the seats. I mean it! Coming up in diaries in 1990. If I weren’t planning to stop on Dec 31 1989.

14. Go for a balloon ride over Cappadocia
Will never ever go on a balloon ride. Not for a million bucks. But been to Cappadocia about three times.

15. Attend a dawn service at Gallipoli (I've been to Gallipoli and stood on the pebbly beach of Anzac Cove in the pouring rain, but I'd like to go back for a dawn service)
Was there in 1990 at the 75th anniversary dawn service. Shook Bob Hawke and Hazel’s hands and cried copiously over the old soldiers.

16. Go to the South Pole
Let me think. Nup, not interested.

17. Learn to pull a pint – properly
Not interested. That’s a bit of a boy thing I think.

18. Walk the streets of London
Done that.

19. Take the Trans-Siberian railway
Ooooh, I would like to do this. There’s no writer better than Paul Theroux to whet your appetite for rail travel. Riding the Iron rooster – one of the best books I’ve read. My brother’s stories of doing the Trans-Siberian are excellent as well.

20. Brew a batch of Scotch that tastes good
No would rather buy it. But making limoncello isn’t that hard.

21. Elope
Kind of done that. It’s not fun at all.

22. Get lost in the British Museum
Been there. Didn’t get lost.

23. Go on a dig
I’d like to go on a dig but only if it’s in Egypt and Hercules Poirot is there in a white safari suit.

24. Learn Spanish
Not interested in Spanish. Don’t want to learn any other languages. I’ve done my dash.

25. Go to Stonehenge
Used to think I wanted to do this, but there are other things higher on the travel list than this one.

26. Keep a close friendship for 20 years or longer
Done this one.

27. Learn to belly dance
Done this one too.

28. Have my portrait painted
That would be nice, but I really don’t think it would ever happen, and if it did, it would have to be a commission. Somehow, it aint gonna happen. Even if I had the bucks, it would reek of huge ego and I would find that déclassé.

29. Be the most important person in someone’s life, even if it’s for a short time
Easy, hands down, that has happened.

30. Kiss the Blarney Stone
Not interested in that.

31. Walk across the Giants Causeway
Don’t know where that is.

32. See the sun rise from Mount Sinai
Done that, slept up there and saw the old sun rise.

33. Spend a winter in the Highlands of Scotland or on one of the Orkney Islands
Ooooh, I’d like that.

34. Go to Jerusalem
Done. It was everything I imagined it would be. Simply wonderful.

35. Take singing lessons
Not interested.

36. Learn to recite Yeats
I can recite a bit of Keats.

37. Visit the Andes
Not interested.

38. See the Himalayas
Not interested. Not a mountainy person.

39. Go to Easter Island and see the statues (I've seen one in Chile but havent been to Eater Island yet.)
Not really interested in this.

40. Fly over the Nasca Lines in a small plane pretending to be aliens
Don’t even know where this is.

41. Go on Safari
Oh yes please! And have Clokes wash my hair over a basin.

42. Watched a meteor shower
That would be cool but not necessary. I saw Halley’s Comet though. I think.

43. Learn to make my own earrings
Not interested.

44. Venture into the jungle to see Mayan and Aztec ruins in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize

45. Go to Rome
Done, and yes it was good.

46. Spend some time in a concentration camp
I would like to visit a concentration camp but not a for real one, as an inmate.

47. Milk a cow

48. Ride a camel into a desert
Ridden a camel on the edge of a desert (Jerusalem.)

49. Make someones wedding cake

50. See the Pope (JP II)
Too late now.

51. Take a gondola ride in Venice
Done. It was the best.

52. Go to China & see the Statue Army and Great Wall
Been to China but just Guangzhou. It was ok. In 1982 there wasn’t a lot you could do.

53. Say ‘I love you’ and really mean it - unconditionally, with all my being
Done. Many many times. To my daughter.

54. Get a tattoo
Not my thing, but I do like them on men.

55. Followed my favorite band on tour
Not my thing.

56. Live on a canal boat for a month
That I could do. Couldn’t do a big boat on a big water, or a small boat on a big water. I think I could do a small or big boat on a small water (a canal is about as big as I’d want to get. I could do a lake probably, and a river.)

57. Fly over an active volcano
Nope, but I’ve climbed up an active volcano. Two actually. It was good. One in Bali. The other in Java.

58. Attend an Olympics
Absolutely no interest. I don’t even want to watch them on the tv.

59. Take a trip down the Amazon
Don’t think I’d really go for this one.

60. Make a short film (been the subject of one, but haven’t made one yet)
No interest.

61. Take a pilgrimage to Lourdes
No interest.

62. Get a masters degree before I’m thirty
I’ve got one but it was well after 30.

63. Visit the big galleries of the world – Musee du Lourve in Paris, The Prado in Madrid, Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Museum of Modern Art in New York, Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Egyptian Museum in Cairo, The Rijks Museum in Amsterdam, Musee d’Orsay in Paris, Tate Modern/Britain in London, The Kunsthistoisches Museum in Vienna, The Vatican Museums in Rome
Done 4 of these. I really do want to go to Spain.

64. See an Ashes Test at Lords (been there, seen the urn, stood on the balcony, supped in the long room but not seen an Ashes test there yet)?
So not interested.

65. Pick up and move to another city knowing no one, just to start over
Done that. Japan. But it wasn't to start over, not really. As an economic refugee during the early '90s.

66. Walk through the ruins of Pompeii
Done it. Fantastic.

67. Visited all 7 continents in the world (Australia, Africa, Europe, Asia, North America, South American, Antarctica)
I don’t need to go to each continent. The only one I haven’t seen properly is Africa (Egypt doesn’t count in my mind.)

68. Swim in all 5 oceans of the world (Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Southern, Arctic)
Don’t care.

69. See the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
Don’t care.

70. Float in the Dead Sea
Done. It was ok.

71. Be invited to join a Board of Directors of a company
Couldn’t think of anything worse.

72. Spend more than a week in Paris
Done this. It was ok.

73. Visit Buckingham Palace & stand on the garden party lawn and have tea
I would like to do this. Not sure how one goes about it.

74. Make paper
Not interested in this one. Not at all.

75. Walk on a beach watching the sun rise, having not been to bed yet.
Done this I think. Can’t remember.

76. Catch a fish, cook it straight away and eat it
Done this. With help.

77. Live in a quaint little village
I would really like to do this. Like a Milly-Molly-Mandy village. Or somewhere in Italia.

78. Own a bookstore and run it the way I imagined

79. Own a house with an attic, a long kitchen, a library room and a magic walled garden

80. Learn how to build my own webpage
Done that a while ago. It was hard and not fun and not useful.

81. See a ghost
I really would like to see a ghost. Not sure why, but I would love it.

82. Make a difference in someone’s life
I have.

83. Be content within myself
I'm doing alright on this one.

84. Walked in the rain
Easy, done it heaps. One of the memorable times was strolling up to the Acropolis in Athens in the rain. I cried. On my own. And I didn't care.

85. Study at Oxford or Cambridge
Yes I would like to do this, a writing course with an esteemed teacher.

86. Visit Shakespeare’s birthplace
Done this.

87. Make someone cry of happiness
Not sure about this one. Not sure I want to. Too much emotion.

88. See a play at The Globe (been there a few times but not seen a play yet)

89. Raise a child
Yep, tick.

90. See Petra
Yep would like to.

91. Go to Glastonbury Music Festival
Nope, not interested.

92. Drive across America
I would like to do this.

93. Have hair down to my bottom – once
I think that’s a bit too long and wouldn’t be as nice as you think.

94. Do my family tree
Too hard and time consuming.

95. Own a new car
Done that, but it wouldn't be on my Top 100 list. Who cares?

96. Read the books of Charles Dickens from start to finish
Yeah, that would be good. Easy to achieve.

97. Travel around the Lakes District
Would love to do that.

98. Watch my nephew play guitar on one of the big stages of the world
I guess so but it won’t cut me up if it doesn’t happen. Unlikely I have to say.

99. Go to a Rugby Union World Cup final with the Wallabies
Oh my god. Care factor zero.

100. Live with no regrets
Impossible or not?

Stolen from via Pepsi. Blame her.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

how lovely

It's 8.30am on Sunday and I am reading yesterday's papers. I have already clipped some articles: one about two sisters born to an aboriginal father and Dutch mother; one about the tradition of literary salons; one about the fear of mental illness and one about the suicide issues the Yolngu people are facing in their community.
Then I came to an article by Peter Craven, presumably about Australian theatre according to the headline. It's not an article I will read or clip. Lots of stories I just flick over. I'm not interested in clipping anything about wars, current or past. I am interested in Holocaust stories. I am interested in mass murders and things like that, but I don't clip them. I do clip stories about children dying at the hands of their mothers. I clip interesting articles about animals and especially if there is an unusual intersection with humans; recently there was an article about a family living in Melbourne with an autistic boy who was displaying very extreme behaviour. They read about and got a dog (from America I think it was, because none are trained here) who now lives with them and is companion and "helper" to their son. Their son's behaviour has modified, or become more moderate; he doesn't have as many tantrums, doesn't wander as much (and if he does, the dog follows him and stays with him.) It appealed to all my latent Lassie fantasies and I cried as I read out bits to the family. My daughter thinks I'm weird, I'm sure. The mother who is close to tears.
This photo above appealed to me. It made me think about men and how they generally aren't physically affectionate with each other. Possible Rush and Armfield are in a lineup to take a bow? This was my first thought. But no, the caption to the picture says they were photographed as they were preparing for Exit the King. Also Armfield's other hand is in his pocket. What strikes me is the way Geoffrey Rush is looking at Neil Armfield and how completely comfortable he looks, in holding another man's hand. Armfield is displaying some body language of discomfort, but he might just be laughing at something completely unconnected to the fact that he is gripping the hand of a man.
It's a lovely photo and it makes me wish we saw more men holding hands, with arms across shoulders, kissing each other on the cheeks. When I first went to Turkey, I was surprised to see men walking arm in arm along the street. Young men, old men. It was a very real cultural difference to me. I'm not sure it still happens; in later years I don't remember seeing it, but in 1990, it was very apparent.
The only time I see men kissing each other hello, and goodbye, is when I'm with two of my gay friends. Maybe it's up to gay men to start the revolution. They need to start bringing the kiss hello to their heterosexual male friends.
If we could all touch each other a little more, maybe we'd all be happier.