Monthly Archives: September 2016

To Be Or Not To Be

Recently, in Melbourne, I was at that city’s eponymous university visiting the Ballieu Library for its mini-exhibition, as it turned out, on the ground floor – ‘TeeVee in the Sixties’. Some great stuff, but too little in scope. Upstairs, though, I noticed they were advertising another showing – to commemorate four hundred years since the birth of Shakespeare. Duly I mounted those steps and entered the several rooms devoted to it. Now this was more like it – something to get one’s teeth into. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I didn’t really do it justice. It was a rushed, cursory appraisal but I was impressed. I was particularly taken by some of the old editions of his works dated way, way back. And the Bard featured prominently in ‘The Carer’, a movie viewed since my return. It had some faults, but overall I enjoyed it immensely.


Now I’ve never been a great fan of the Elizabethan playwright’s works, but, of course, his legacy to the language I scribble in is immense. And his words form a fair amount of the script for this offering.

You see, the great Shakespearean actor Sir Michael Gifford is dying – but he’s not going easily into the night. His Parkinson’s is really starting to take hold and he is in need of constant monitoring. However, he is a bugger to care for, thus the quick turnover rate for the girls hired to do so. Gifford is in no mood to consider that, indeed, he is, in a word, finished. Enter the latest in a long line, a would be acting student in the form of Dorottya. Of Magyar background, she is a dab hand at mangling the language. But she does love her Shakespeare, with the added advantage possessing detailed knowledge of her new patient’s interpretations of the great man’s classic plays. Austrian born actress Coco König shines as the carer, gradually wooing the old fellow with charm and her recall of ancient movies. The rest of the supporting cast – Emilia Fox as his frosty daughter; the always sumptuous Anna Chancellor as his secretary/one-time lover and Karl Johnson as the chauffeur/former dresser – are an attractive ensemble and more than adequate.

But this is Brian Cox’s show. The Scottish actor, sprouting Shakespeare at the drop of a hat, is, in turn, pompous, curmudgeonly, horrid and defeated by aspects of the disease – particularly when he loses control of his bowels. There is no gloss presented here about the downside of ageing in the hands of an affliction that isn’t going to let go.


It is, admittedly, a fairly predictable pathway that Hungarian director János Edelényi takes us on and the final stanza does grate somewhat. The movie perhaps takes its cues from the French sensation of a few years back,’The Intouchables’, but is less life affirming.

Paul Byrnes, writing for The Age, had a great line to sum-up his review perfectly, so I present it as my final word on ‘The Carer’ as well. He says that, between Dorottya and Sir Michael, ‘A kind of love develops, and the movie is never so unsubtle as to state it. Cox’s timing throughout is superb – a comic masterclass that gives way to a temper worthy of Lear. It’s easy to enjoy his playing to the back of the theatre, as she (König) works the front row.’

Trailer for the movie =

Old Dog

Julian has a problem – what to do with Truman, his canine companion for many a long year. He has to find exactly the right home for his ageing pooch – not the most Hollywood of dogs by any stretch of the imagination. It won’t be easy.

A huge hit at the Spanish Oscars and applauded at film festivals the world over, ‘Truman’ has now been released in Oz to generally critical acclaim. Taking a leaf from our own ‘Last Cab to Darwin’ and the glorious French-Canadian affair ‘The Barbarian Invasions’, this movie is a celebration of life when there isn’t much of it left.


Tomás (Javier Cámara) has travelled from Montreal, somewhat reluctantly, to Madrid to say final farewells to his terminal mate Julián, played by the wonderful Ricardo Darín. These two reconnect as Julián’s world as journeyman actor is shutting down. First task is the dog – maybe the lesbian couple will be suitable, or perhaps the predatory widow. A home just has to be found. There’s a journey to be made to Amsterdam for his son, studying there, has yet to be informed of the full extent of the cancer rampant in Julián’s body. There’s the conversation to be had with Truman’s long suffering vet over canine psychology and he has to come to terms with being fired from his job for all the right reasons. There’s also those friends to be dealt with who choose to ignore, rather than attempt to come up with all the right words. It’s all so touchingly done, but in the end this is a tale of two men trying to find common ground and the fullness of friendship in difficult circumstances. Both Cámara and Darin are superb in their roles – a glance between them says a hundred words and only the flintiest of hearts could fail to be moved by this gem, even if it’s not deliberately played for tears. The ailing one faces his demise with a stoic and matter-of-fact mien as he makes a final decision regarding his last weeks.

The only jarring note came with the sex scene that seemed, to this viewer, to be out of kilter and totally unnecessary. The deep distress felt, by his two main mates, towards the end, could have been communicated in a better way than getting their kit off and going for it. But to counterpoint that, the ending is simply perfect as Truman’s future is finally sorted.

As our nation deals with the thorny nettle of assisted death, ‘Truman’ should be in the mix, together with the aforementioned movies and that other recent release ‘Me Before You’, to assist in focusing our views. ‘Truman’ is a film that will linger.


Movie trailer =

Mary, Joan and the Elusive Girl

I wondered and wondered and am still not exactly sure I pinned her correctly.
To feel you all around me and to take your hand
Along the sand
Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind
Perhaps catch the girl more like, but which girl?

Down through the years and decades Donovan’s ‘Catch the Wind’, through its several versions and umpteen covers, has always been a favourite ditty for me. So when it re-entered my world recently, via a mint new take, listening to it drew my thoughts back to a faraway place when it encapsulated my yearnings for her. But I couldn’t place exactly who that ‘her’ was, but it must have been someone pretty special to get me so worked up that I pined for her in tune with the Donovan classic. Maybe checking out the song’s provenance would assist me in identifying her – for mysteries like it tend to play on my mind. I was sure it would hark back to a time in my life when there was a hiatus – a time when the cupboard was bare, so to speak. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but you see, for a few years I’d lost the art. And it was/is an art and I have always been pretty artless in what appeals to the opposite gender – but since then I have been luckier in my life

Now those of you with memories that stretch back as far as mine may recall the song – or it may have been in a parent’s collection, even if you cannot place its composer/performer. ‘Catch the Wind’ came into being in 1965, put together by one Donovan Leitch who, perhaps understandably, chose to be known around the traps simply by his first name. It reached No.4 in the UK and 23 in the US. Born in 1946, Donovan’s still around, but his glory years were long ago, ’65 till ’69. He was mates with Brian Jones and taught John Lennon how to finger-pick. For a time he had a close friendship with Joan Baez – instrumental in causing my pondering on yesteryear. His string of hits included ‘Colours’ and ‘Universal Soldier’ early on, but then he really hit his straps with ‘Sunshine Superman’, ‘Hurdy-Gurdy Man’, with the biggie being ‘Mellow Yellow’.


Was I aware of it way back in 1965? I may have been, but at a callow 14 I was just developing my interest in music. The opposite sex, though, wasn’t really on my radar then, so I doubt there would have been much cause for angst over a girl in my Grade 8 year.

Because of label issues, the song was revamped and re-released for a ‘Greatest Hits’ package in ’68. Now this is more like it. The new version was produced by Mickie Most and became a more complex entity. It was probably this adaptation that so caught my ear back then – that so impacted.

Personally, in the opposite sex department, 1968 was a good year for me, having a relationship with two lovely young ladies over the course of that year into ’69 – then came the fallow times. I’d have ‘crushes’, I’d give and occasionally receive ‘looks’ from across a classroom or lecture theatre that would seem promising; conversations that I felt could have led to something. But nothing developed – zilch. Yep. In that period I may have as well ‘tried to catch the wind‘ as had anything remotely meaningful with any of those lasses I had my eye on.

There were several that aroused my passions in my final year of education in Burnie, followed by more whilst at a Hobart university hall of residence – sadly not co-ed. But which one caused me to curl up on my bed in the foetal position with unrequited love on my mind, having ‘Catch the Wind’ on repeat playings. Back then this required frequent lifting and dropping of the stylus, or constant cassette rewindings – quite labour intensive. She was so elusive, whoever she was – just giving me enough to keep me interested, but back then I had become obtuse in reading the signs. My confidence was shot.

After listening to the tune anew recently, I spent several sessions in my morning bath, trying to figure out which one from that faraway period was her? Who was that girl in the late sixties/early seventies who had me wallowing? She no doubt was someone who I truly wanted to cause me to ‘leave all my blues behind‘ because it so seemed ‘everywhere I’d look…(her) eyes I’d find‘. But it, obviously, was never to be. And eventually, in amongst the suds, I think I figured it out.

In fact, I have previously scribbled about her before in one of my Burnie Tales, ‘Honey’. She was Ellen – not her real name I hasten to add. In fact, Ellen was an amalgam of several girls I knew during that barren period. It was a ‘what if’ tale – what if I had succeeded in attracting her, or even one of those girls, then? In reality Ellen and I never made it to anywhere near the stage of ‘taking her hand along the sand’, for she was drawn to more sporty types – ace footballers and surfer-dudes; the in-crowd. I was no match. But she was one of a number back then – but I seem to recall I was partially attracted to her because she, like me, was a olive-hued sun-worshipper, a habitué of the beaches around Burnie.

The direct reason for this visitation to a song and a girl of long ago was listening to a brand new cover of the former, sung by two glorious troubadours who have been around for a considerable time – in fact one was celebrating her seventy-fifth birthday in concert. In it Joan was perhaps recalling her days when the writer of the tune was her mate, Mary perhaps thinking how fortunate she was to be on stage singing along with a legend.


Joan Baez has just released a double album of songs, mostly in tandem with a guested notable, from her pomp. I reckon most know of her, if not for her music, perhaps because of her relationship with Bob Dylan. She was an early champion as well as lover. Her biggest hits – surely you will recall her now – ‘We Shall Overcome’, ‘The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down’. I was reclining in the man-cave, listening to the anniversary suite of songs for the first time when ‘Catch the Wind’ lilted into my aural appendages.


On this she was accompanied by Mary Chapin Carpenter – perhaps not such a familiar name. This artist’s most successful years were from ’89 till ’96. Her triumph was the 1992 collection ‘Come On, Come On’ yielding seven hits on the US country charts. She has won five Grammys over the years, but during this new millennium has largely sunk from view as her albums became deemed not radio-friendly enough, whatever that means. But early this year I purchased her latest, ‘Things that We Are Made Of ‘. I reckon it’s up there with her best.


And yours truly started trying to figure out who that elusive girl was as the duo trilled to the beat of ‘Catch the Wind’; the one who caused so much early adult longing. On that early spring afternoon, with the sun coming in on me, I was immediately transported anew to those times when I fretted about being left out as, unlike most of my mates, I could not find myself a girlfriend. That’s what came back to me, caused by an old song sung by two consummate performers. Of course, eventually it all changed for me – but in the deep recess of my mind she still flutters – that elusive girl.

Donovan sings the song =

There's Nothing Like AFL Footy

Heartfelt Moments in Australian Rules Football – edited by Ross Fitzgerald
From the Outer – Edited by Alicia Sometimes and Nicole Hayes

My Dad liked Wally Clark. Ostensibly my father supported Cooee in my region’s local footy comp – a club, that, like so many others, did not survive into the new millennium. But, of course, he admired any good footballer playing for our coastal teams. This was particularly the case when they donned the maroon and gold of the North West Football Union to take on the NTFL, from up Launceston way or, more specifically, those high and mighty Cascade swilling southerners from the TFL. If our men managed to beat them – a rarity, but it did happen, celebrations were long, my father was ecstatic and much Boags was quaffed.

outer02Wally Clark and Kevin Murray 1963

Wally Clark was a rover. It’s a term no longer in use, submerged by the generic one – midfielder. Gone are the days of the rover, along with ruck-rover, wingman, flanker, centreman or pivot, drop kick, stab pass, flick pass and so many others. With the saturation coverage of the AFL, today regional football in the south, north and north-west is a mere shadow of its former self. I remember, as a callow teenager, watching Wally Clark when his team, Latrobe (later to boast the magnificent Darrel Baldock as its captain-coach), travelled to Burnie’s West Park to take on my mob, the Tigers. I recall him as a short, close to the ground, beer-barrel shaped player; the captain coach of the coastal Demons from ’64 till ’67. He won the local equivalent of the Brownlow, the Wander medal, in ’65 and no doubt would have donned the maroon and gold – maybe even being selected for ‘the map’; selected in the state side to take on interstate rivals. Occasionally our little island could even match it with the Big V.

In those days our teams would welcome back locals who had made a name for themselves over in Melbourne, such as the Doc. With robust finances, as healthy numbers supported the local clubs, big names could also be attracted to play out their twilight competitive years here. Wally Clark was one such.

Reading ‘Heartfelt Moments in Australian Rules Football’ and ‘From the Outer’, I found Wally Clark mentioned in both. Here’s Barry Dickins writing on his beloved Royboys in the former – ‘My hero, Butch Gale, rots (sic) (Yes, ‘Heartfelt Moments…’ could have done with more thorough editing) on with a big barrel chest out and lots of people reaching over the concrete race to pat him on the back, he is glossy with Deep Heat Muscle Ointment which I forever associate with courage and determination and agonizing ligaments; his rover trots on next who is wearing the very first example of the famous Flat Top Hair Cut and he is Wally Clark; and Fitzroy fans all yell out excitedly on viewing him, ‘Good on yer Wal!’

Tony Birch, recounting in ‘From the Outer’, had a similar addiction to Dickins for the Roys. Here he is on Wally, ‘As a kid my maroon and navy football jumper warmed me with the number 7 in honour of Wally Clark,…Wally was built like a butcher’s apprentice and played 105 games for the club.’ Later Birch was to forsake Clark for the great Kevin Murray in his affections. I knew Wally Clark had come to Tassie’s northern shores from the VFL back then, but until I read these two tomes recently had no idea that he was the ‘real deal’ amongst the big guns in his day. I checked him out on a VFL/AFL website in the ether and discovered he was a star, playing eight seasons with Fitzroy, giving ‘gutsy and commendable service.’ He debuted in 1955 and saved his best for his team’s unsuccessful finals campaigns in ’58 and ’60. He was their top goal scorer in ’62 with the slim total of 21. But the following year he was back in the reserves, therefore his decision to seek greener pastures elsewhere across the Strait as his powers waned. Yep, my Dad was correct in regarding Wal so highly. He stayed on the coast after retirement and could often be found in footy club-rooms, entertaining with his fine voice. Like the Cooee Football Club, sadly he didn’t see in the new millennium either.


There is some dross in these two publications, particularly in ‘Heartfelt Moments…’, but there’s also some great wordsmithery as many a notable writes on the effect the native game has had on their lives. ‘From the Outer’ is the better, more attractive publication, with a cover illustrated by the wonderful Oslo Davis. The fairer gender dominate the contributions here, but I loved Jason Tuazon-McCheyne’s item on the formation of the Purple Bombers, a very personal account of the growth in support for the LGBTI community by football bodies across the nation. Sam Pang tells of the day he sat by the Flying Doormat (Bruce Doull) at Carlton’s last game on the Princess Park grass. There was one fine effort that wasn’t all that complimentary of our game. Catherine Deveny would have to rank up there with Keith Dunstan as a footy-hater par-excellence, far preferring her kids to be on computer games than having anything to do with the AFL – to the shock of her Melburnian mates. You see, for someone with no family tradition in the game, growing up in the city was basically a trial. Sophie Cunningham writes glowingly about the Geelong Cats and their frustrating climb, over the decades, to the powerhouse they are today. There’s Alan Duffy’s account of how he coped with, on meeting his new girlfriend’s parents, hearing the words ‘This is a Hawks family, Alan.’ The implied threat involved was obvious – they didn’t seem to care as much about his intentions for their daughter. Also included are reminiscences from role model-umpire Chelsea Roffey, Stan Grant, Christos Tsiolkas, Angela Pippos and Bev O’Connor.


Alongside Barry Dickins in ‘Heartfelt Moments in Australian Rules Football’ is that great D’ Brian Dixon, as well as Jeff Kennett, Susan Alberti, Chris Bowen and even George Pell. Ken Spillman’s account of the day Lethal Leigh felled Barry Cable is a ripper and we have Richard Allsop recount his favourite Hawthorn moments. He plays tribute to the sublime skills of the indigenous genius of our native sport who is universally simply known as Cyril. Another great, also with a shortened moniker, Roo (Mark Riccuito), is adoringly portrayed by Chris Kenny. Humanising Liberal politicians everywhere is Josh Frydenberg’s paean to his beloved, once mighty Blues. ‘Now a father myself, I have responsibility to pass on that love of the Navy Blues to my little daughter.’

As for my own daughter, I am so proud that Katie is as fervent a fan of the brown and gold as I am. Together we have followed their fortunes in yet another finals campaign, unfortunately an unsuccessful one this time. But what of my granddaughter, Tess? Well now, there is another force at work here. You see her paternal grandmother is a passionate follower of the Hawk’s nemeses from down Corio Bay way and the Tiges, when asked who she barracks for, smiles sweetly and replies, ‘The Cats, Poppy’. And, to my surprise, I don’t care a jot. If she develops the same love of the game as Laurel, her great grandfather and her mother, it is enough for me.

Our Amazons

Very little of the recent Olympics was viewed in our house by the river so not much of it that was positive caught my eye. Drug cheats and athletes, after giving their all, feeling necessary to apologise to a nation for not attaining gold left a sour taste – as did the extremely rarefied expectations of our sports officials and pundits. To me those aspects of the Games were a turn off. But even so, from the little I did espy, one could not fail to be impressed by a beautiful, ever-smiling young lady, Chloe Esposito, who came from nowhere to win the prized gong in a sport few had heard of in Oz. They have now. Modern pentathlon, I would imagine, would be an extremely hard sport to master, with all its various disciplines, so she was superb. And what about our rugby sevens girls? Their helter skelter courage was, well, amazing.


But there is another team sport, newly emerged, that is turning heads and leaving many, including myself, open-mouthed in awe. Here the girls have had the audacity to take on another arena that was formerly the preserve of the fellas and start to make it their own. No, not the cricket. Forget about that – although they are quite gobsmackingly proficient with bat and ball too. No, it’s our own native born game, Aussie rules!

Now the new AFL national women’s league is about to take off in ’17, but, on a night during the pre-finals bye, we had a foretaste. And it was wonderful to behold. The D’s took on the Doggies – and for four quarters they went at it, full throttle. For me their display was a joy for these ladies possess the same gut running, kicking to position and pack-marking prowess as the opposite gender. Their hands are as quick and their brand is open, with speedy transition. And from their marquee players names are emerging to rival Bontempelli, Dangerfield and Fyfe. Here are two:-


Daisy Pearce. Do read Martin Flanagan’s paean to her. When she’s not sizzling around the ‘G or Etihad she’s nursing – being a mid-wife in fact. Evidently she brings as much passion to that as she does chasing leather. Already she has a Hodgean ability to read the play, direct traffic and enter the fray to make a critical difference. She magnetises the eye on the footy field.


Moana Hope – If you haven’t already done so, i-view Australian Story ‘A League of their Own’ from Monday, August 29. It deals with this power forward’s relationship with Susan Alberti, the Doggies’ vice-president. One would expect that the Melbourne socialite would have little in common with the heavily tattooed battler from the other side of the tracks, but she sees in Moana something special – as we all should do after watching her on their episode of this Auntie staple. But there’s nothing frivolous about Alberti – she’s all substance. As well as being a strong advocate for the women’s league, we know she is not afraid to put her money where her mouth is as she took on the odious Sam Newman after his appalling attempt at humour with Caroline Wilson his target. Alberti has developed an affection for Ms Hope who has come out of retirement with the formation of the national league. Moana is a whiz goal-kicker with her hard leading and accuracy. This electrifying young lady is the prime carer for her disabled sister and is working hard to set up a business to ensure her family’s financial future. She is simply inspirational, as are all these incredible girls who love our game and play it with such mesmerising fervour.

Martin Flanagan’s article =

‘League of their Own’ Australian Story =

Tassie Wild

In truth I preferred the old Wilderness Shop. It was more down market and therefore a more comfortable fit with me, I guess. I’ve scribed before on the putoffedness of some of the galleries around town for the likes of me. Wild Island doesn’t quite have that effect – I will still enter and peruse. It, though, has far less stock than its antecedent and the prices are beyond my budget, apart from the occasional card. But then I am not their preferred demographic and topping it off, unfortunately my walls are full. Still, there’s no question they are offering an outstanding product from some of our island in the southern seas’ leading camerasmiths, craftspeople and daubers. So don’t let me put you off. If you haven’t already done so, go in for a squiz, particularly if you do have some of that wall space going. Support local talent please.

So I made one of my rare visits last month. I didn’t purchase anything, but there was, as always, much to admire. On leaving, my eye was drawn to a brochure because of the work of art it featured. It was advertising the store’s latest exhibition, so I cast my eye around the shop in case I had missed the painting during my initial once over. It wasn’t there, but when I examined the card, I realised I was one day too early. Too me the painting portrayed seemed to perfectly capture Tasmania’s winter experience, particularly enhanced by the fact that it was of a snowy wilderness right on our doorstep.


So, duly, a week or so later I went back to see Michael Weitnauer’s ‘Snow Series – Mount Wellington’ in its glory. I was not disappointed – it is a terrific piece, even when measured up against some some great stuff from camera snappers who also took my attention, such as Loic le Guilly and Rob Blakers. Going out to art exhibitions reasonably regularly, I was already quite familiar with Weitnauer’s oeuvre, but this was the one item that projected his abilities for me more so than what I had previously espied.

In an on-line bio the artist states he is strongly influenced by Fred Williams and with ‘Mt Wellington’, even an untrained eye like mine can discern that in a thrice. I remember going to a showing of Williams’ works in Melbourne, if my memory serves me well, but being underwhelmed by much of his product. But then I turned a corner to a room of his desert landscapes and was immediately transfixed by their power and beauty. Had anybody captured the landscape of the Aussie heartland as well? And Weitnauer’s take on kunanyi had the same impact. Added to its entrancing allure is that we, as Hobartians, look at the mountain’s magnificent ramparts everyday.


The artist’s surname indicates he is of German heritage and he has spent much time there and in other European locations. He states he is influenced, as well, by some of his homeland’s leading contemporary painters. He has won some serious gongs, including the Wrest Point 2002 Art Award – one of my favourite yearly exhibitions. Weitnauer has been, several times, a finalist for the Glover. His solo shows often sell out – and no wonder. The Hobart born, UTAS educated, practitioner must now rate amongst the island’s most prominent painters and I would definitely include ‘Mount Wellington’ in the art gallery of my mind – the only place I can hang it, given my circumstances. I’d love to look at it daily, but will have to make do with the small facsimile blu-tacked to the wall in my man cave.


Artist’s website =