On the floor of our car. A blurrier image below. Presumably there are some moisture issues there.
Archive for the ‘personal’ Category
A week ago, I received a 90-day notice to quit under the Residential Tenancies Act.
This was a bolt from the blue. It is inconvenient.
We are but sojourners on this earth. All of a sudden, the place I have grown quite comfortable thinking of as my home, my habitus, is the place I am about to be evicted from.
A lot of junk must be disposed of. I’ve been going through my books. I’ve been taking pictures of them in a last desperate hoarding gesture before letting them go.
This is one.
It is one of about 100 volumes of verse that I almost never read, but I’m still not sure if I’m parting with it just yet.
I knew just the poem in there for the moment:
It’s rather a mawkish piece, but just right now it tugs a chord.
And after ten years here, there are boxes, not of preserving jars, that are still unopened.
They must be the first candidates to go, but it will be hard.
On the occasion of the new year, a short tally of live performances I attended in 2011.
My records (kept primarily to manage bookings and avoid clashes but yes, Narcissism is an issue) show that I went to :
- 2 ballet or dance events (both blogged here);
34 plays ( none blogged here);
- 12 chamber music concerts – not all, I think, blogged here.
- 18 performances of opera (but to 13 operas owing to some repeat attendances) – all productions if not all attendances blogged here, as far as I can recall (I haven’t checked); and
- 23 orchestral concerts – maybe two-thirds of which have been mentioned here.
That’s about the same attendances in total as 2010 and 2009, about 20 fewer than in 2008 when I embarked on what I suspect was in part a blog-induced frenzy of playgoing and when the Sydney Piano Competition bumped up the figure, a few more than in 2007 and 2006 and slightly fewer than 2005, when the Philharmonia’s Bach Cantata series provided a boost. That is as far as consistently maintained records (ie, preserved on this computer; in a sortable Word table for each year) go back.
The thing that puzzles me is my relative neglect of theatre, because in my youth I was quite an enthusiast. It shows in both my attendances and the extent to which they are blogged. Ballet really gets me in for the music. My higher blog rate for opera over concerts can probably be put down to the occasion of the production – concerts seem more generic and I have said most of the meta-musical things I have to say about them.
I anticipate a degree of retrenchment this year, and that’s even before adjusting for the to-me relatively unalluring Opera Australia program – however “democratic” and “Australian” Mr Terracini may claim it to be.
This morning, I accidentally poured water into the coffee grinder instead of into the water reservoir of my coffee machine.
I blame my caffeine-addicted matitudinally withdrawn state.
This must be close to a textbook example of catch-22.
As a friend commented to me recently, I am a retracer – he means of my own paths.
Recently, with a series of overcast weekends, I have been retracing my path to Petersham Pool, these days known as the Fanny Durack Aquatic Centre. The reason has been practical and sentimental.
As to practical – it’s closer than the beach and on an overcast afternoon, nobody goes there. You can get a lane or sometimes even the whole pool to yourself.
As to sentimental – for about ten years, from aetat 30 to 40, I lived opposite Petersham Park and swam at this pool regularly. Now the pool is to close for (they say) a year and a half, to be rebuilt.
Certainly, the pool needs work, though I put a lot of that down to anticipatory neglect – the plan to rebuild has been in place since about 2004. Many of the tiles have lost their vitreous surface. It’s not clear that the filtration system is really up to the task – perhaps because in recent years the pool has also been heated.
The pool is one of three pools built in Marrickville municipality in the early 60s. My half-remembered folk history is that agreement couldn’t be reached on where to put an Olympic pool, and as a result the area ended up with three 33 metre pools (more recently, I’ve learnt the Petersham Pool is in fact 35 yards). One, at Steel Park, closed some time in the 1990s. At that stage, the council was keen to close Petersham Pool as well and I got involved in one of the few grass-roots campaigns I have ever participated in – and even fewer which have been successful – to “save” it.
The proposed renovation of the pool will see it replaced by a 25m pool. This strikes me as absolute idiocy. I’ve heard it suggested that this was to enable races to be held in the pool. Talk about the tail wagging the dog and the warped power of competitive sport! There would be very very few races ever held, whereas the shortening will have a real impact on the utility of the pool for its predominant use (apart from hot days) of lap swimming. 33 metres, or even 35 yards, is much better for getting a sustained rhythm up.
The changing sheds have already been renovated. When heating was introduced (actually, I have very mixed feelings about this), we got hot showers. The last round of renovation saw two signs of the times, at least in the Gents.’ One is a nappy-changing table (and associated disposable-nappy bin). The other was that one bank of showers was enclosed into little changing sheds with doors. That is to me an unwelcome sign of the new prudery – call it modesty, if you will – which also seems to lie behind disparagement of the “budgie smuggler.” What exactly are we scared of? Gay men and pedophiles, I suppose, without much distinction between the categories. Both overblown fears in my opinion. To me, such changing rooms are a bit like gated communities. Doubtless they are in response to a desire expressed by some, but what do they say about us all? In due course, if you don’t go behind the door to shower you will be the weirdo, just as you will be if you wear Speedos.
On Sunday, I went for the last day. Earlier in the day there had been an “open day” with free admission for a couple of hours and the ubiquitous jumping castle for the kids. (Why? Why? There’s a pool there, for heaven’s sake!)
If that drew a crowd, the crowd had dispersed by the time I arrived. Any valedictory mood seemed quite restrained.
After my swim, I took a few farewell shots of the pool – furtively, because of the new fearfulness, which is the reason for the wonky horizontal and the excess of foreground in the first picture. My nervousness in this regard was probably exaggerated because one thing Petersham Pool has never been is officious.
The pool had maybe an hour’s opening time left, but I didn’t have the heart to wait for the dying moments. I took a final glimpse – the hardly grandiloquent front range seems likely to be demolished and replaced, including the toilets which serve the park.
I left through Petersham Park.
I walked up the (now somewhat neglected) pollarded avenue leading to the house where I lived for 10 years. Is it too groan-inducing to say it was a trip down (or rather, up) memory lane?
The house I used to live in is up for auction. If you look very closely you can see the real estate agent’s billboard – it’s the brightish oblongoid to the right of the right gatepost.
I couldn’t take any more pictures. The camera said:
MEMORY CARD FULL.
I have been getting a shop to digitalise some of my father’s slides. It seems an unnecessarily expensive process, and I will probably shop around before I get any more done. These are some of the first fruits of this project.
Once when I was aged 10 or 11 (I guess) my father and I walked to a spot on an old water-board sewerage mains road behind West Pymble where we camped overnight before walking out the next morning.
We slept, I think, on a ground sheet just under a tent-fly. Here is another picture – I myself am oddly out of focus, I suspect because my father’s botanical photographic interests technically prevailed in the choice of objects for determing final sharpness of focus.
Here we are, posing rather self-consciously on our return:
The expedition may have been devised as a way of “road-testing” carry-camping. If so, the idea must have failed the test, as I don’t recall our ever again carrying our kit to go camping. I now wonder if it was also hoped that by means of appropriate patri-filial bonding the pictured tendency to stand with my hands on my hip be at least moderated. If so, the specific tendency has been suppressed, but not the deeper underlying tendencies of which it might have been feared to be an outward and visible sign.
I found myself murmuring this line recently. For a moment I thought it was a fragment of my own poetic juvenilia. On further consideration, I realised that though a little mawkish and decidedly purple it was far too good for that. Of course [Ah! Of course!], it comes from Kenneth Slessor’s Sleep – a poem I studied for the HSC, so the juvenile association is not entirely amiss.
I’m conscious my memory is getting worse. As the water-table of my pianistic competency recedes, I find I can read through Beethoven sonatas, including ones I really learnt quite thoroughly at one time or another (OK, OK: it’s volume 1 on the piano, not the wilder reaches of volume 2), and enjoy them virtually anew, albeit with some fudging of the more demanding technical passages. And what a wonderful body of work they are! When I read recently of a dementia crisis projected for the future in Australia, it reminded me of the old jokes about the benefits of the condition, though I couldn’t actually remember any of the actual jokes.
Earlier this year, visiting my father, I was affronted on his behalf that my stepmother, who had gone away, had stuck up a number of prominent signs about the house reminding him to turn the hotplate off and shut the fridge door, or somesuch. Not that my father was affronted: he accepted these tokens of care. I told D about this. Recently, D left the country for a few weeks. His flight left in the afternoon and I was unable to see him off. On my return, I found the following stuck up inside the front door (another copy, sans the handwritten “car” was put up in the kitchen):
The plea is justified: a couple of months ago my mobile phone and camera were both stolen from my car in the small hours of the morning when I neglected to lock it: it’s probably as much a question of carelessness as forgetfulness. To decode and explain the remainder, “over” probably means “oven” and quite often I leave the key for the back screen door in the (inside) lock.
Recently, it took me about 24 hours to summon to recollection (eventually, it came all of a sudden, quite unbidden) the word “shibboleth.” I knew the bones of the story: if (when challenged as a sort of password) somebody pronounced the initial consonant the wrong way, they were of the wrong ethnic group, and were slain. I tried googling “old testament” and “slew” but, for fairly obvious reasons, that wasn’t sufficiently discriminating and as it turns out I probably needed to search for other forms of the verb. To save you clicking on the link, here is the relevant passage from Judges 12 (in this case, apparently the New Jerusalem Bible translation):
Gilead then cut Ephraim off from the fords of the Jordan, and whenever Ephraimite fugitives said, ‘Let me cross,’ the men of Gilead would ask, ‘Are you an Ephraimite?’ If he said, ‘No,’ they then said, ‘Very well, say “Shibboleth” (שיבולת).’ If anyone said, “Sibboleth” (סיבולת), because he could not pronounce it, then they would seize him and kill him by the fords of the Jordan. Forty-two thousand Ephraimites fell on this occasion.
All of this is a meander (the real title should probably be just “life”) brought on by dinner with an old friend and former pupil, back in Australia for the European summer. He has had a brilliant career but by now it is not as brilliant as once he hoped. Most of us have been there and almost all will eventually get to that point, because though hopes may be dupes, the possibility that fears are likewise likely to be liars is no proof against disappointment, even if life is really still going quite well, or well enough, all things considered.
And in the long rung run, we are all dead (as has famously been observed).
Time to go to sleep, I guess: I shall counterfeit beneath my counterpane.
I did think of heading this post “Happy Bikeday.” It is just coming up to two years since I purchased my present bike (1) (2). It continues to give me pleasure. If I just counted train fares saved, it probably hasn’t quite paid for itself, but if I include the times when I would probably have taken a taxi home late in the evening or early in the morning, it almost certainly has. The major expenses incurred have been a thicker rear tyre and, a couple of months ago, a new and sturdier back wheel after the original broke two spokes in quick succession. The latter was probably an unnecessary expense as, after the second breakage and while I waited almost 2 months for the new wheel to arrive, no more spokes gave way. Perhaps I just needed to ride with greater care and less curb-hopping.
When I picked up the bike with its new wheel, I splashed out and bought a rear vision mirror, pictured above (not very realistically, and by necessity on a very quiet street). About 20 years ago I bought a similar mirror for a different design of handlebar, but somehow I never managed to get around to installing it. Finally, after over 30 years of fairly regular cycling, I have done the deed.
How could I have ever ridden without one? It’s not as if I would be happy driving a car without a rear vision mirror. The parameters are different – you can look around on a bike in a way that you can’t in a car, and you don’t change lanes so often, but I am certainly finding that to know what is coming up behind me is a great contributor to peace of mind when I consider the prospect of moving further out into the traffic to avoid a hazard on the road service or the risk of doors opening from parked cars. If I’m riding up a hill in a bus lane, I know whether I can relax at the top or need to push on to let a bus get to a bus stop just ahead. On the rare occasions when I have to move across lanes, life is now much easier.
In this first flush of enchantment, I have found I spend more time looking behind me and less time looking in front and around. That’s a loss in some ways, and there must be a metaphor for life in that. On the other hand, when you are on a bike what comes up from behind almost always ends up overtaking you, so hindsight is, oddly enough, a forewarinng of the future. That is often helpful, and reduces the discomforting surprise when somebody passes unpleasantly close or fast.
The main downsides are an increase in my side clearance when weaving through confined spaces and some ungainliness if the right side of the bike needs to be leant up against anything. I guess someone might pinch the mirror. This is a general argument against any improvements to a bike, over and above the general risk of bike theft, but at $25, the loss would be annoying rather than devastating.
And just for the record (taken near Canberra over Easter), to my [did I say I love it?] bike, Happy Bikeday!
Sorting through my socks today, I managed to muster 26 reasonably plausible pairs. And there are about as many (or do I mean twice as many?) odd socks again after that relegated to the “odd socks drawer”, as well as a few in the wash.
In my 20s, I used to darn my socks. It was one of those Sunday-afternoon pastimes, like writing letters, that seems to have gone the way of the dodo.
Note to self: don’t buy any more socks.
At least, not for a while.