What I did in the Holidays, or Estivation 2

My sister, YY, came (from afar) to stay with me about a week before Christmas. I stopped work in honour of this.

We spent the week about Xmas in Canberra with the older generation, then some time back in Sydney together including a trip up the Putty Road to spend two nights and the new year with a not-so-often seen cousin with whom we nevertheless get along very well. We spent a memorable day floating down the Colo on lilos and other inflatable objects. On other days YY and I went together to Wylie’s Baths (Coogee) – depending on the weather – or she visited very old friends. YY then spent a bit more time in Canberra (river swims a feature both times) after which we spent another week together in Sydney in like fashion whilst she gradually got caught up in the professional commitments which had paid for the ticket which brought her home, culminating in a flurry of travel and finishing on Australia day.

Inspired by the Schumann bicentenary, I assayed a little Schumann on the pianoforte. Thomasina has invoked two things which, in music, lead to madness. The original last movement of Schumann’s Piano Sonata Op 22 is arguably another and must at least be a straw in the wind. The 16-year-old Clara told him it was too hard and he wrote another.

In a momentary lull in hertravel frenzy, YY came with me to see Opera Australia’s Manon.

Absence truly can make the heart grow fonder (I would not go so far as to account this an absolute rule). Rather as [or as I fondly imagine] my cat’s displays of affection are refreshed whenever I return from a time away, I feel my being purring with delight at the return of the opera after an absence. It’s always a pleasant surprise.

The usually mild-in-reproof Peter McCallum in the SMH doesn’t appear to have been of the same view , concluding (after an opening reference to “a proficient although not stellar cast”) that
“one was left at the end wondering if it shouldn’t be quietly allowed to fall off the repertoire to make space for more works of our time.”

Whew! And that’s not all.

I found the music utterly beguiling and I am a bit alarmed at the realisation that this might easily be thought of as a dismissive evaluation.

The last opera YY saw was Hansel & Gretel with me in 1992 so it’s been a while. Before that, “some Wagner” (she can’t remember which) when she was a teenager put her right off the form. She said she enjoyed the Massenet but she’s still not prepared to risk another Wagner.

YY and I did exchange drop-jawed gulps of mock horror/astonishment at a couple of the more melodramatic diminished-chord moments.

Australia Day is a traditional marker for the end of summer in the work sense. I had gone into work to gnaw at one particularly intractable problem before that, and managed to keep my resolve of a return to work for one day after Australia Day before YY and I travelled together for another short visit to Canberra, then to stay at another old friend’s new place down the South Coast. YY lives so far away that I must count my remaining time with her as significantly finite. This is called life work balance. I hope I will be able to afford it.

Another factor in the plan was that I was invited to a birthday party in Berry. I left YY with the old friend and set off. It’s very scenic down there.

There was no such address in Berry: the party was actually at Bexley.

YY’ s time with her old friend was cut short a little. We got to the party very late but not too late. Everybody was very amused.

Now YY is on the plane home. It will be cold where she is going.

Summer ends now. [This is a facile allusion rather than an endorsement of any theological sentiments.]


4 Responses to “What I did in the Holidays, or Estivation 2

  1. Victor Says:

    Oh dear. Somewhat of a difference between Berry and Bexley!

  2. marcellous Says:

    Good to see someone is reading the fine print, V.

  3. wanderer Says:

    Happy days. I think I remember a photo of the two of you somewhere like Naples. YY is too unusual to avoid name games and I’ve settled on YumYum.

    • marcellous Says:

      What a good memory you have, W, and welcome back!

      The picture of us you recall was at Pompeii, which is (literally) pretty close, visited on the way to Twickenham.

      I do like your Gilbertian conjecture, so I shall try to leave its artistry unsullied by anything so bald as the prosaic truth.

      Your Patagonian (and beyond) pics are giving me much pleasure. Looking forward to more and of course of Iguazu, which whenever mentioned brings to mind Wong Kar-Wai’s (and, to be sure, Christopher Doyle’s) use of the lamp and, by extension, the sad end of the beautiful Leslie.

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