Category Archives: Comment

Shame Anson – Just Shame

The hide of the man. He has been one of my favourite columnists for years, but now, after last weekend’s shocker, I’m not so sure. I was appalled, truly I was – and on behalf of all Hobartians, I’m speaking out. How dare he!

My beautiful lady and I love cruising. It’s a wonderful way to see a little of the world, where the getting there is often more enjoyable – and certainly more restful – than the various destinations en route. We would have been eagerly awaiting out third voyage, one over to our Kiwi neighbour, this coming summer, but the wretched virus put paid to that. We have postponed it till next November and who knows what the world will look like then. But to describe us and all our fellow travellers, on the high seas, as being constantly ‘…drunk on vodka slushies…’ – well, I was highly offended. Granted, a certain small percentage do drink themselves stupid from dawn to dusk, but the vast majority of our maritime companions on board, like us, tipple only in moderation. So, stick that in your cap Mr Cameron. But, if only that was the worst outrage he inflicted in his scribing! That jibe was easily surpassed by what came later in the scandalous column entitled ‘Welcome to the Wasteland’, as you will discover when you read on.

Now nothing beats sailing into Sydney’s magnificent harbour to visit, or terminate, a cruise, but doing so along that gorgeous entrance to my own city must come close. As for Melbourne, as much as I love the place myself, after steaming up the featureless Port Phillip Bay, there’s no comparison to either. I’ve done so on the Spirit (of Tasmania) and, seeing for myself what the main thrust of what Anson’s column is on about, it’s no wonder that the TT Line will soon be docking at an obviously more attractive site in Geelong’s Corio Quay. The Age writer does adequately describe Port Melbourne’s inadequacies as a destination for vessels bringing in Taswegians and other voyagers to Yarra City. It is, yep, dullsville. I had a more detailed look on a later stay when I hopped on the 109 from the city to explore the area around Station Pier. I was soon hopping back on that tram.

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Cameron is so ashamed of that bayside suburb as a disembarkation point – and I can hardly type these words – that he is actually advocating passing it off as Hobart. My city, because of its vibrancy, arts scene and its stunning location under the ramparts of kunanyi, attracts far more cruise companies these days than does poor old Melbourne. It is his contention that, as the travellers coming off the boats would be so pissed anyway, they’d be none wiser. If they had any recollection at all, then changing the sign, atop the pier, to ‘Welcome to Hobart’, would place them in no position to cast any aspersions on his only remotely fair city. They would denigrate mine instead. Yes, that’s right dear reader, he is trying to pass off Victoria’s capital’s dour first disappointments as being those caused by our beautiful burb on the Derwent.

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Now the Age, the vehicle for this contributor’s misplaced mischief, does not have the biggest readership in these parts, so I am alerting all my fellow islanders so we can rise up – yes, rise up – and nip this travesty in the bud. The audacity and repellent attitude of the man to want to place a Welcome to Hobart sign across the old tatty pier! Just as well that city, across the Strait, has a more pressing matter to think about at this time. Perhaps indeed it is his ploy to take minds off that. Well, it hasn’t worked, sir. I’m on to you.

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Anson’s reprehensible column = https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/cruising-into-a-not-so-sacred-site-leaves-much-to-be-desired-20200702-p558bt.html

Reboot 05

Even the Grass…

Sisters Beach sunshine is beaming this morning in one of my homes away from home. Whilst Hobart and surrounds received a drenching, I was having the vagaries too – but for a couple of days it was divine as if She up there was saying, ‘See what I can do. You didn’t expect such bliss at this time of year, did you?’

And at Sisters I am blessed to have some local friends – Richard and Narelda, Mary and Cheryl – to visit for company. Of course there’s a dog and beach walks. My dear mother’s close by, as are old friends and teaching colleagues.

On such a dazzling day to my new eyes, even the North West grass looks so much greener. Tomorrow I head home, but I’ll be back – over and over again I hope. Thank you Kim and Ruth.

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Nanny Naps and Blaze

During COVID days the afternoons saw me more often than not taking to my bed for a few hours. I insisted to myself it was to read, lying on top to start with back in those March days. But as the iso went on and on, gradually I succumbed to slipping under the doona as autumn morphed into winter. Instead of copious pages of my novel, I’d soon pass into slumber to the accompaniment of my man-cave music machine or, increasingly, the radio. During that period a skilled practitioner was in the process of righting my eyes for the remainder of my days – and they needed resting, especially after some screen time. Well that was as good an excuse as any for continually drifting off. Leigh had her shows to watch and pod-casts to listen to and I was more than content in the world I had fashioned for myself in the once spare bedroom. Here my photographs surround me and my books were stacked – if only I could get to the latter. As the news become worse before it became better, I was insulated.

One such afternoon I was emerging from a restorative shut-eye when the local ABC radio presenter announced, ‘And here’s a special voice for you now…’ and on came Townes Van Zandt. ‘Fancy the Auntie playing Townes,’ was the thought that crossed my still sleepy mind. But, listening more closely, I started to realise that it wasn’t the legendary Tennessee troubadour, but this voice had the same low lonesome drawl. ‘That was the wonderful Blaze Foley. And now it’s news time.’

Wide awake now, I reached for my hand held device and did some delving for this guy, to me, was an unknown. And as I read his biography I soon realised I could have been reading about Van Zandt himself. Strike me down with a feather – turns out the two were mates back in the day. Like Townes, he too met an untimely and unseemly death well before his time.

The Arkansas singer/songwriter, born 1948, was a scruff of a man who lost numerous gigs, the love of his life and ultimately his life, full stop, to an overindulgence in alcohol. His stage name was a tip of the hat to his namesake and hero, Red Foley. Former partner, screen-writer Sybil Rosen, stuck with him for perhaps longer that she should have, but eventually she had seen him drunk senseless too many times and when he moved on, she didn’t. When Foley and TVZ crossed paths, they would go on unholy binges together and any progress he had made with the demon drink was blown away. He thought he was made when Merle H recorded his signature song, ‘If Only I Could Fly’, but there was no follow up to lead him to stage or recorded success, so he drifted back to his old temptation. At various times names such as Lucinda Williams and Kimmie Rhodes tried to give him a helping hand, but eventually he was beyond assistance. He could not be swayed from his destructive ways.

In 1989, after a night on the booze, he had an altercation with the son of a friend and was shot. He hardly went out in a blaze of glory. Despite attempts by some, including his former love interest, Rosen, who made a film feature of his life, he has not reached anywhere near the cult status of Townes – and perhaps never will. It’s a tragic story I woke up to that afternoon from a nanny nap.

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Mark Seymour and the Undertow – ‘Slow Dawn’ – Music for these Times

He’s getting on now, like the rest of his demographic, but the former lead singer of Hunters and Collectors has lost nothing of his vocal chops, has Mark. His 10th studio album again excels.

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On the Couch

It is its most popular foreign language series and Netflix is milking it for all its worth with four seasons to date. ‘Money Heist’ features a well organised gang’s raid on the National Mint in Madrid. The expertly drilled drilled crew soon find themselves besieged by the city’s finest. But how will the police coordinator’s relationship with her mysterious new friend pan out? Series One was quite riveting, so I’ll soon be taking in the next. Moving north to Belgium, another group is also besieged – but this time it is by fact or lie as a jury attempts to nut out if the one culprit is responsible for two murders a decade apart. It’s a tad clunky in places, but well worth time spent in SBSonDemand for ‘The Twelve’. A viewer will see the back story of the case as well as that of some of the jurists, for they are all not squeaky clean either. And he’s madder than ever, is Tim Roth’s alcoholic Jack Devlin in the second instalment of ‘Tin Star’ (SBSonDemand) – with a third and final season approaching. There’s mayhem a plenty as the daughter joins a religious community whose leader just happens to be in cahoots with a Mexican drug cartel. Stay tuned for the final shootout as Jack’s Liverpool back history arrives to bite him on the bum big-time.

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A Tome to Re-emerge With

It’s a rude, raucous and vibrant picture of an extended indigenous family of entertainingly disparate parts, but so powerful it took out last year’s Miles Franklin. See the Blue Room’s review of Melissa Lucashenko’s ‘Too Much Lip’.

I’m Hanging Out

Mozzarella and pickle croquette, African chicken curry with eggplant and okra, Katso fish sando’ – I don’t think so Mr Durack. I’m a more ‘days of yore’ man. Why, last Saturday night, at Launceston Best Western’s Tram Bar, I partook of the ever ubiquitous parmi – and darned good it was too. A reasonable steak does me just fine too. Yep, the pubs have reopened and the aforementioned venue was my first sally forth. I waited till the iso was far enough in the background so certain watering holes were operating close to their past glory, but I still couldn’t have what I have really been hanging out for. Sadly, I am yet to enjoy a pulled pint. The Tram Bar offered only table service and bottled brew. Good, admittedly, but it’s not the full experience till on tap comes back on. And please, She up there, we are back to you, can we not follow Melbourne’s example and have to pull our heads back in? Obviously not only for this reason, but I’m craving draught beer again.

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More about Blaze Foley here – https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-country/blaze-foley-movie-biopic-songwriter-ethan-hawke-718036/

Mark Seymour’s website = https://markseymour.com.au/

Trailer for ‘Money Heist’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMANIarjT50

Trailer for ‘The Twelve’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aL9uDVYIrkY

Trailer for ‘Tin Star S2’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_dI36NYpgs

FB for the Tram Bar, Great Western Launceston = https://www.facebook.com/thetrambar/

Pemulwuy et al

They were so brave, those lads who went north to the sweat and swamps of New Guinea to hold the line. This was against a possible Australian invasion if the Japanese broke through on the Kokoda Trail. They should be venerated, along with many of our wartime leaders. So it always seemed an anomaly that our powers to be do not afford the same to the First Australians who also attempted to hold the line against a foreign invasion. If not outnumbered, back in those early days, they were certainly outgunned, from the time of the first European settlement to well into and past colonial times. Historians know their names and many are advocating for a change. Perhaps their leaders will never be in the same league as Blaimey, Monash, Pompey Elliott or Weary Dunlop. But these too were leaders of men and women who took it up to the enemy. They should be at least recognised as such, particularly in our national war memorials.

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I’ve written of the exploits of Pemuluwuy in another place. He scared the be-jesus out of the Brits and their convicts in the very early days, keeping them from venturing out in into the bush, away from the safety of numbers. Later on, along came Windradyne. In Western Australia there was Yagan and decades on, up in the Kimberlies, the redoubtable Jandawarra. On our own island, during the Black Wars, noteworthy were Musquito and the fearless Aboriginal woman, Wayler.

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All of these leaders mounted gutsy rearguard actions to try and stem the tide, but of course the odds were so massively against them. Undoubtedly there was cruelty on both sides, but that is the nature of any conflict and these were desperate times, even if one side’s cause was realistically hopeless.

There’s no suggestion here that we should engage in a rush to erect statues to these heroes of the frontier skirmishes, but nor should we put to one side that these warriors were defending their lands as much as our boys at Kokoda.

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As for Captain Cook? He was undoubtedly a great explorer of the seas, navigator and cartographer, but an argument could be mounted that his role in our history is overrated. Should he, though, be to blame for his discoveries leading to the forced foreign incursion to these shores? I don’t think so. It certainly, in my view, does not warrant the tearing down of statues honouring him, akin to what’s going on overseas with former slave owners and traders, as well as Confederate generals. Just don’t put up any more to him. Please!

Peter FitzSimon’s commentary = https://www.smh.com.au/national/a-statue-of-warrior-pemulwuy-in-hyde-park-what-do-you-say-clover-20200612-p55249.html

Bill

Grubby. That’s what I felt. Uncomfortably grubby. Voyeuristic even. It was a bit like watching sexual activity on the small screen that goes beyond what you feel to be acceptable and necessary given the context of what it is you’re viewing. But these were words, not images – intimate words about what a president did to a naive, young and obviously smitten intern.

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These were words I found so hard to listen to, even to the stage I felt like turning ‘The Clinton Affair’ (SBSonDemand) off – despite the fact I found so much of it bloody interesting. But not this aspect. These were the words the Republican right and their ‘take no prisoners’ lawyers used to try and get their quarry. There’s little doubt that, in his younger and middle years, the man was a womaniser, preying on the opposite gender and perhaps even abusing them, in a similar way to what our present odious incumbent was well known for. But, of course, the oranged one is from the far right and therefore immune. In Clinton’s instance no one now doubts it was a consenting relationship that, in the days of Roosevelt or Kennedy, all in the know would turn a blind eye to so they could get on with governing. This POTUS was already under pressure from his previous embroilment with Paula Jones, but that case was mired in legalese and going nowhere. When Lewinski’s affair with the Leader of the Free World came to light, they went in for the kill.

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The treatment, what we would now define as slut-shaming, as revealed in the programme, was vicious – both from the public officials, the media and the popular entertainment world. It was revolting, completely without consideration for the well-being of the victim. Mental health wasn’t much of a factor in those days. But what I found was reprehensible was the way they went for Monica’s mother in an attempt to further entrap her daughter. The mother knew any misspeak would have dire consequences for her much loved offspring and it broke her. They destroyed this hither to resilient woman who had been, up to then, one of Monica L’s few supports. Of course the girl herself became so notorious she had to virtually spend decades underground. She has only just re-emerged into a new public life and is now largely respected. That is a credit to her.

Then and now it is patently clear she’s no bimbo. Lewinski, in her interview for this, comes across as intelligent and articulate, although the events still pain. She used her assets to win over the man she was in the thrall of and she was his willing partner in those small rooms off the Oval Office. Of course, the argument the Reps et al used was that it wasn’t the relationship, as such, that was the issue, but the misleading. But even to the layman it’s hard to fathom the reasoning that it amounted to grounds for impeachment, as indicated by the end judgement. But to get there they were determined to use the intensely private accounts of what actually happened in those small rooms luridly to enhance their case. Why? It was so heartlessly shaming for the woman involved, if not the Pres.

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Thinking people commended the American public, at the time, for not being taken in. They realised, even if they relished reading about the scandal and listening to the shock-jocks, that here was a man who ran a competent administration and was working hard for their benefit and that of the country. That, for all his personal faults, he didn’t deserve this. He carried on with aplomb throughout, this genial, charismatic leader. His popularity actually increased in his second term while all this was going on.

Virginian-Pilot Newspaper Content

And what of his wife in all this? She went the Tammy Wynette route, as we all know. I doubt I’ll read ‘Rodham’ – see following article – but I’ll be watching the forthcoming series ‘Hilary’ when it debuts on SBS soon. In this, according to Ms Lester, Bill puts forward an excuse for his actions back then. ‘You feel like you’re staggering around – you’ve been in a 15-round prize fight that was extended to 30 rounds, and here’s something to take your mind off it for a while…’ Make of that what you will, but what many of us wouldn’t give for a Bill or a Barak in the White House with the US in free fall, instead of the creepy, pompous, divisive, disastrous arse who inhabits it now.

‘The Clinton Affair’ on SBSonDemand = https://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/program/the-clinton-affair

Amelia Lesters opinion piece = https://www.smh.com.au/culture/books/what-would-have-happened-to-hillary-if-she-had-never-married-bill-20200424-p54n0i.html

Reboot 02

Bernard

In the blancmange of days during the great lockdown, time breaks free of the reference points that hold down all we know firm and steady. In lockdown world there are no appointments, no weekends and no need to set an alarm to beat the traffic.’

I love the ‘blancmange’ reference to describe our times where many are still struggling to point our noses above our homely parapets to align ourselves with beseeching politicians and the caution of the health experts. ‘Come on. Come out. It’s safe, we think. Test the waters. You’ll see.’ The ‘blancmange of days’ aptly nails it to describe what we’ve been through. Once we get out, hopefully we’ll never have to return. But do we believe they’ve got the balance right? We don’t want to have to go scurrying back. Ours has been a period when ‘One day blurs into another. The weekend evaporates into the ether’

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The italicised quotes are from his weekly column in the Weekend Oz on the state of society. He was the man who alienated a generation against the Boomers, with a call to arms from the hipsters and assorted younger generations, with the Great Avocado Smash Brouhaha. The hide of him stating, ‘I have seen young people order smashed avocado with crumbed feta on five grain toasted bread at $22 a pop and more.’ He claimed doing that several times a week, as the inner-city latte-sippers obviously did, was the reason they couldn’t afford to place a deposit on a house. Outrage! The protestations caused a mega-storm in a flat white cup. Pull your head in Salt!

Bernard Salt has obviously still struggled with the lassitude and ennui induced with being cooped up, despite his high profile. He’s let himself go, forgetting appointments; mixing up his days. He reports his failures in ‘All at Sea’, one of his latest columns for the Weekend Oz.

Strangely, looking back, I suspect some will miss these days. For us retirees, in the main, there is little divergence from our day to day routines of pre-CV when we were largely home based in any case. The only difference is that, for us now, we cannot be anywhere else but home based. But for many, more time with family, appreciating the value of teachers with home schooling, avoiding the daily rush hour by working from home – maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.

A few days ago I made my first sojourn, for around six weeks, into an eerily quiet city centre. Today I plan to visit Mr Murphy, if the car park isn’t too full. Dining out and the cinema are still a long way off, but maybe a cafe visit in a week or so is beckoning. Soon, all being well, I may venture again up north when intra-state travel is permitted. Visits to and from the grandchildren are now within touching distance. I know we’ll keep a space between us and others till the final all clear is given, but as for going back to ‘All at Sea’, I hope not.

Unique Tasmanian

They’ve been there most mornings of late as I sit here to scribe. Many’s the time I break off, look out and watch them scrabbling around. It’s normality. To most Tasmanians they’re barely worth a glance they are so ubiquitous, but I observe them up close. They, in their matriarchal clusters, fascinate me.

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As the virus approached, however, they seemed to disappear. For weeks I couldn’t spot them anywhere near our abode by the Derwent. I was quite nonplussed. Was it the breeding season? Feral cats had been seen. Were they to blame for their absence? Snakes perhaps? I’m told the rushes, on the river bank, are lousy with copperheads. Raptors? Whatever, they were gone.

Then, as we started to emerge from our semi-iso, so did they. For the last little period they have been at it again – venturing onto our lawn, sometimes coming right up to the flowerbed beneath my window to eyeball me. The native hens are back and I softly rejoice. A sign.

A joke for these times

A guy walked into a bar….lucky bugger.’ Soon. Soon.

Shane Howard – Music for these Times

Continuing to reflect on the state of the nation, his new collection, ‘Dark Matter’, is as tuneful as it is insightful.

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A Tome to Re-emerge With

Deep Water’, Sarah Epstein, contains a feisty lead who is seeking to discern which of her flawed circle of mates is responsible for the disappearance of another of her sidekicks. Its a ripping YA read for any age. Read my review of it in the Blue Room.

Hollywood Times 3

My delightful viewing partner and I finally managed to catch up with ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ – one of the premier gong-collecting movies from the awards season earlier this year. And with Pitt, DiCaprio and Robbie in its ranks, amidst a cast of fine repute, this re-creation of Tinsel Town in the sixties took its time to burst into life. You’re thinking this is okay, but what’s all the fuss about? Then, just when you thought you had what was about to happen down pat, Tarantino turns it all upside down and unleashes. And the dog! That dog! Leigh and I let out a collective ‘Wow!’ when we emerged from the carnage.

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With the Netflix attraction ‘Hollywood’, be prepared for actors to carry on with gay abandon as we delve into the machinations of a movie house struggling to stay afloat in the late forties. It’s attempting to take a more balanced view of discrimination of all hues with its product. It flagrantly plays with the cinematic history of the time and its ending defies credibility – but then, perhaps it meant to, being more tongue in cheeky cheek than anything else. But it was fun and my lovely lady and I gave it a tick of approval.

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City of Angels’ (Stan) claims to be a ‘Penny Dreadful’ – but that’s a dreadful misnomer. Transferring the action from London’s smoggy gloom and settling it down in the Los Angeles glare, several decades later, is so wrong on many counts. It does pall, too, in comparison, but that said, Natalie Dormer is always watchable in anything. It has a strong Latino influence with some ‘Day of the Dead’ antics to the fore. There’s Nazis, as well, as it’s set in the lead up to WW2. City Hall corruption is played out with strong violence and it’s an okay effort, but if you’re expecting a ‘reboot’, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

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Axe and Chuck

How could she (see Kate Simmons’ take on ‘Billions’ following) be rooting for Axelrod. It’s difficult to find anything positive about this Gordon Gecko for a new century. He’s an unfettered money-grabber who destroys, legally or otherwise, anybody who stands between him and his garnering of shit-loads of moolah. Could it be a gender thing for Kate S with her and Bobby A. Damien Lewis, he of the thin lips and piercing blue eyes, plays him to the hilt. Perhaps he is one sexy unit with all that monetary power.

Me, I’m a Chuck man. He’s far from perfect, mind you, with his taste for the fetish side. There’s also a hunger for power too, his of the political kind. Chuck Rhoades is also not adverse to cosying up with the Axe when it suits him, but generally they are at each other’s throats. Notionally he is on the side of right, but he’s a devious cur and Paul Giamatti plays him with relish. Its this relish I relate to.

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Around these two are a biomass of mostly grubby suited slime-bags, with just one or two rising above the morass on occasions. This is the ‘Mad Men’ for the first decades of the 21st Century and although, at times, it’s a little difficult to follow all the machinations that go on, it still makes for great television.

As for my wonderful partner in all this – she thinks they’re both despicable with no redeeming features what so ever, but nonetheless is still glued to all their devious plan hatching as Stan drip-feeds us Season Five.

Bernard Sal’s article for the Weekend Oz = https://www.theaustralian.com.au/weekend-australian-magazine/coronavirus-lockdown-befuddlement-syndrome-is-real-and-insidious/news-story/42783d24fab99be21160fd04e59fa0a4

Shane Howard’s website = https://shanehoward.com.au/

The Blue Room’s review of Sarah Epstein’s ‘Deep Water’ = stevelovell.id.au/2020/05/22/deep-water-sarah-epstein/

Trailer for ‘Once Upon a Tine in Hollywood = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELeMaP8EPAA

Trailer for Hollywood = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybN5pVJw-_A

Trailer for ‘City of Angels’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7BOjN3_M2A

Trailer for ‘Billions’ Season 5 = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aILMB1h8x7I

Reboot 01

Tomfoolery’s ‘The Great Realisation – 2020 Hindsight’, I suspect, has gone viral. Does over half a million hits on YouTube count as going viral? If it hasn’t come into your orbit, do view it on that platform. In it a father is reading to his kiddies a ‘before and after’ picture book – the world pre- and post-CV. The latter is, in anybody’s language, far better. It’s a wonderfully optimistic vision; beautifully and poignantly presented.

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And I sense a little bit of optimism has crept onto our planet out of alignment, sensing that it all can be better afterwards. A reboot? Well, that may be a tad presumptuous at this early stage, but, by the time you read this, dear friends, we’ll perhaps have an inkling if it was only wishful thinking or the real deal. I wouldn’t want to jump the gun.

Ms Squires, though, is on board in her accompanying thoughtful piece, accentuating the possible positive outcomes that the dire period we have all been through presents. You feel our globe has taken a deep, deep breath and is currently inhaling gulpfuls of the air we’re so used to in Tassie. Will it be allowed to continue to do so out the other side, or will humankind go back to choking it to death? For all this to happen, first we need to rid ourselves of the abomination that is Trump – what an excellent start that would be.

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But, like Ms Squires, my overwhelming feeling this morning is one of pride in my country. It’s a while since I’ve been able to say that in totality – without reservations. Sure, it hasn’t been perfect – the Ruby Princess, Morrison poking at the Chinese, Dan Tehan’s clumsy attempts to bludgeon kids and their teachers back into the classrooms in a still scary world. But the Feds get a tick for at least positioning us to be one step ahead of the bastard virus. The real winners, politically, are the Premiers and Chief Ministers who have reflected the heartbeat of their states and territories. To date they have been restrained, stoic and have inspired the bulk of their constituents to stay the course; to put lives ahead of a crashing economy – unlike someone else I could mention. They have shown clearly that we are not the shit-storm that is Trump’s USA – there I’ve mentioned the great blowhard again. We know, though, who are the real heroes of our country – the real people to be stunningly proud of. They don’t need listing here. We all know who they are. I’m about to venture out and meet some wonderful examples of them at my local supermarket.

Of course, if we learn nothing from them, their valour has been for zilch. If we regress back to the old pre-CV world it’s been for nought. The planet, it is patently clear, has given us a last chance, once we escape Covid-19, to set up for future generations. If this is not a game-changer, then what’s coming will make CV seem like a sneaky fart in the wilderness.

And what I would dearly love right now is to hug my daughter, son, grandchildren and mother. It’s getting closer.

And now I’m back from getting supplies. The toilet roll shelves were full for the first time in months. It’s a sign.

Wendy Squires column = https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/was-this-lockdown-the-reboot-into-a-life-really-worth-living-20200430-p54oqn.html

YouTube – ‘The Great Realisation’ = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nw5KQMXDiM4

De-stressing in the Time of CV 05

Dear friends

Trevor – This morning I woke up to –

We’re going on a bear hunt! We’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day. I’m not scared

Trevor was a tad perplexed. Of course the ditty has taken on a whole new meaning as spirits are uplifted for young – particularly the young – and old alike as they exercise around their neighbourhoods. But a bonus is being able to spot teddy bears in windows as they do so – furry beacons of hope in dark times. It’s an American president’s everlasting legacy – although the bears he hunted were of an entirely different nature. I wonder what the ultimate legacy of the inane and downright dangerous galoot that currently inhabits the Oval Office will be? Loved hearing Billy Connolly call him ‘The Great Tangerine’ on a recent show, but I digress.

Yes, Trevor was confused. He knew he should know, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Just what were the origins of the chant the little ones would chirp around the streets of the towns and cities of our country as they’re on the lookout? Of course, his listeners were soon onto it, putting him straight. We know it’s from Michael Rosen/Helen Oxenbury’s timeless classic picture book that still sells by the ton thirty years after it was first published. And it also contains the perfect lines for the CV world –

Can’t go over it. Can’t go under it. Can’t go around it. Got to go through it!

And we do.

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Trevor was taking calls from all over Oz as I stirred from my slumber. He has one of the biggest extended families there is on his nights. It consists of a motley array of insomniacs, shift workers, truckies and especially old dears who experience restless, wakeful wee small hours. For all of these Trevor is the voice in the darkness – a friend helping them make it through the night. He’s a mate to countless thousands. The topic under discussion, sometime after four that morning, was the fad for bear hunts sweeping the country. Considerate people were placing the family teddy in a street facing window to give such delight in these constricted times.

One old darling reported to him how she had placed two teddies, as well as the dog from Footrot Flats for good measure, in her portal to the world. Trevor posed the question as to how long it had been since she’d seen her own grandchildren. ‘Three months.’ she replied. ‘I only have one and he gives the best hugs in the world. Oh how I miss those hugs of his!’ We are all missing hugs at the moment.

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Trevor Chappell – no, not that Trevor Chappell of cricket infamy! – is the overnight man, operating out of Melbourne for ABC radio in the 2am till 5.30 slot, Mondays to Thursdays. His show is one of the most networked in the country and he’s my nightly companion. I first got into the habit of leaving the radio on all night in the years of separation, eight in all, I had from my lovely lady last decade. Me in Burnie, she in Hobs – they were long nights. That’s all in the past now, but the habit has been hard to shake. In the end I gave into it. I’m a passive member of his club – I never ring in, but I listen during my interrupted sleeping. He takes my mind off what could become much darker thoughts, during these testing months, as the outside world grapples with the virus. His voice – warm and laconically Australian – is balm-like. He cares. You can tell he has empathy in spades for his nocturnal audience. He’s no shock-jock – that execrable crew.

He once did a summer for Macca and I thought he out-Macca-ed Macca. It was mooted he should take over the Sunday morning slot when the legend calls it a day – but there’s no sign of that. The former West Australian Weagles supporter has been doing this gig since the early noughties and long may he continue. And right at the moment we need all the Trevors we can get.

Did worry me, though, on another topic du jour – that of lock-down fashion. He said he wouldn’t be seen dead in trackies. They, according to the word of Chappell, are a sure sign that you’ve let yourself go. Dear me – I haven’t been out of them for months. I wonder what he makes of crocs?

Freya – Music for these Times – In between playing my old John Prine (didn’t realise I had so many), the album I have been picking up constantly is the self-titled ‘Freya Ridings’. This flame-haired British songstress’ voice soothes and caresses. Check her out on YouTube or Spotify if the name is new to you.

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Trent – His ‘Tales from the Bunker’ is four weeks in now. The Weekend Australian’s regular feature, put together by Mr Dalton, again caught my perusing eye with several vignettes. There’s eleven year old Emily of Holland Park, South Brissy, who has started up a neighbourhood newspaper, which she hand delivers to the residents of her vicinity. Headed ‘The Corona Times’, it contains all the news of the doings in her street, as well as jokes and a ‘Neighbour of the Week’. Also from the same city is seventy years young Susan of Paddington who gives thanks for all the wonderful people in her life, but ponders why she’s wracked with guilt. Eventually she concludes it’s because ‘…the whole country is being held to ransom to safeguard those of my generation.’ Yep, it’s wonderful of the generations that follows us, isn’t it? After all, those in our age group haven’t exactly been kind to the planet we’ll be leaving behind to them.

Kate, from Port Melbourne, has been struggling, living in such close quarters for an extended period with a sullen, morose and non-communicative spouse. She feels that the period will most likely finally break her marriage as she ‘…hugs the kids and tries to give them something solid to build a life on.’ But, then, she succeeds in finding relief ‘…in the beauty of the autumn sun slanting into the kitchen of a morning…We have the winter coming, and this forced seclusion is beautiful,…’ but finishes with, ‘… but God, you cannot escape the fissures in your relationship.’ I count my lucky stars each and every day I have Leigh.

Noel – I was awake, probably because, in the back of my mind, I wanted to do it. So at 5.45 I reached for my clothes and dressed, rummaged around in various drawers for a torch and walked out to the end of our driveway. It was so still. The lights of Granton-side were shimmering off the Derwent, just across the road. Our wonderful neighbours, Noel and Jane, appeared on their front deck, Noel extracting a trombone from its case. On the dot of six he placed it to his lips and pierced the silence with an evocative ‘Last Post’. Between that and the more up-tempo ‘Reveille’, I thought of a father, a brother-in-law and a nephew who either went to war, or were in uniform, prepared to do so. To the best of my recall it was my very first dawn service – and I couldn’t have been in better company.

Fergus – I’d never heard of him – and that’s not surprising given my only slightly tongue-in-cheek disdain for the sport some of us now call football, but I’ll always refer to as soccer. Of course, compared to Aussie Rules, it’s a game for wusses, but it seems, unfathomably, to be quite popular.

So who was Fergus Suter? Well, it seems this Glaswegian stonemason was the first to give up his trade and accept money to play a sport which had previously been the preserve of young, entitled upper-crust toffs. These guys hated the smelly, unrefined riff-raff and regarded anyone like Suter as toxic. You played for the joy.

The English Game’ (Netflix) tells his story and it’s an intriguing upstairs/downstairs affair with the fledgling soccer tale being only one of the threads. Julian Fellowes had a hand in this so, like his behemoth, ‘Downton Abbey’, this is also concerned with the class system, as well as the role of women in late Victorian society. So if you’re a fan of that incredibly popular English series or, heaven forbid, soccer, then this is one for you. I thought there was much to recommend it.

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Missing those charismatic bloodsuckers Sookie and Bill Compton from ‘True Blood’? Then the same platform as above offers up ‘Vampires’, a French take on the genre. I doubt it’ll have the legs of the US game-changer, but it’s just the same sort of mindlessness that’s so de-stressing for this fraught period of our collective lives. It’s just transferred from the Deep South to the underbelly of Paris. There’s blood a-plenty and a bit of the other as well, taking our minds off a less visual horror. And a second series of this offering was planned before that other horror hit.

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A book to while away the hours as we wait for the curve to flatten out some more – Michael Robotham’s ‘Life or Death’ is a departure from his usual UK settings, but is still a page turning one – and prestigious prize winner to boot. See my review of it on my blog ‘The Blue Room’.

Peter – During the finishing off of this scribbling I listened to our state’s Premier, Peter Gutwein, give his daily press conference. I am impressed with him There’s even some great to see bi-partisanship here with both Bec from Labor and Cassie from the Greens stating he’s doing a sterling job. That’s along with his wingwoman, Health Minister Sarah Courtney, as well. Yep, we’re all in this together in Tassie. I’ve never voted Liberal in my life and probably never will. But, if he was in my electorate, next time around, I’d be sorely tempted. He’s made it possible to think we’re in the third quarter with a bit of lead on the opposition. I hope we hang on and win.

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Profile of Trevor Chappell = https://www.abc.net.au/radio/people/trevor-chappell/7347210

Freya Ridings website = https://freyaridings.com/

‘The English Game’ trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBOlhdSYhv8

Vampires Trailer = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUNXFhyZnzY

Blue Room’s review of Michael Robotham’s ‘Life or Death’ = stevelovell.id.au/2020/05/01/life-or-death-michael-robotham/

De-stressing in the Time of CV 04

Dear Friends

Hugs – I wondered how it would go, the arrangement between Trent Dalton, best known for mega-seller ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ (a tome I seem to be in the minority with as I have never perused it) and the Weekend Australian’s magazine. The notion was that he’d receive emails from the reading public with their own stories of surviving and waiting out the virus in their own abodes.

The first of his ‘Tales from the Bunker’ appeared in the Oz this weekend, at time of scribing, just past. Lovely and reaffirming it was too. Hopefully it will be on-going in future weeks. If so, it will be worth buying the Murdoch Press masthead for it alone. Truth be told I only buy the Saturday broadsheet for that magazine insert and its Review section. Dalton relayed many quite poignant tales in the issue. One that struck the heart was the story of Kate, an 8 year old, the same age (almost) as my beloved Tess, who understands that her grandparents are especially susceptible to the bastard virus. Her reaction was to design a sign her Nan and Pop could display at their front door. ‘Stop,’ she wrote, ‘VIG! Very Important Grandparents.’ Under those words she repeated the dose with ‘First class grandparents. Please wash hands.’ Dalton goes on, ‘The whole suburb now knows that Kate is a VIG as well – Very Inspiring Granddaughter.’ As is Tessa. My very own VIG makes sure that she has a wonderful drawing or something else she’s written or crafted for her own Poppy, each time I call, to take home to treasure.

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Another correspondent sent in a homage to a tireless friend, a nurse, who works in the oncology ward of one of Brisbane’s hospitals. Sadly she relayed her disgust that even that place had been targeted by the gutter slime who thought their needs were greater than those struggling against another demanding disease. All the sanitiser had been removed from her place of work by them.

But that was an aberration – mostly the article contained a wholly positive vibe. He had an emailer telling of her still very active mid-80s dad who was having trouble, as do many of us, curbing his out-and-abouting, even with his usual haunts shut down. He took to any excuse to get to Bunnings, the chemist and anything else that he could think of that was still available to him. Three weeks ago this guy met his first great grandchild – through a window of course. The old fella reckoned it was the best day of his life. The emailer’s prayer was that one day the dear guy would actually get to hold this brand new life in his arms.

Trent D started this weekend’s collection by asking, ‘Remember hugs?’ We’re all so deprived of them at the moment. He related another person who took the trouble of contacting him. Toni, who has tested positive, hasn’t had one cuddle from her own brood for three weeks as she waits for her symptoms to disappear.

Of course I’m blessed with hugs from my lovely lady to keep me going, but how I miss them from my Tess, Katie and even Rich. I’d give anything to hold my little grandson again. And to see his Shirley Temple-like sister who’s way away, for now, tucked safe in Bridport. The situation is hard for grandparents; hard for grandchildren. But then, there’s no real isolating, is there? It’s just the physical contact we can’t do at present. I give thanks that the digital age has something, these days, to recommend it.

Dalton’s project does not take us away from it, but after reading of all that goodness I felt buoyant; hope renewed and feeling de-stressed.

Odile – Being a fan of almost anything to do with her home country, way back I was chuffed to have a French penfriend. It was the pre-digital age and writing letters to people overseas was, well, I guess you’d call it a hobby – and I thrived on it. We know any form of letter writing these days is a dying art. AusPost and social media seem to be working hand in hand to kill it off. I’m hoping our present straightened circumstances will bring it back a little, if only on a national scale. The links to the outside world are diminished, except via the ether. We communicated quite regularly back in the 90s and into the new millennium. She lived in a town on the outskirts of Paris and I thought she was quite chic.

Then most of my overseas correspondents drifted away. From most of them, including Odile, I only heard sporadically, usually around Christmas. But out of the blue, a few nights ago, I she came back into my orbit.

Now, during the years of writing to each other, she found she had another connection to my island. A long lost cousin turned up as the mayor of a Tassie locality – the colourful Bertrand Cadart. His domain was the East Coast municipality of Spring Bay. With his Portillo-ian fashion sense, French brogue and larger than life personality, he was known to some as the Crowbar Man after a small role he attained in one of the Mad Max movies. Odile was contacting me to let me know of his passing.

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We had a conversation via Messenger, comparing notes on our respective CV situation. She thought she may have had the dreaded virus a while back, but her symptoms were not severe enough to warrant testing or hospitalisation – so, around a month into the French lock down, she is none the wiser but feeling better now. Although it took some sad news to bring her back into communication with me, I hope it will become more regular now as we are both in a similar situation at opposite ends of the Earth.

Scores and Numbers – Last Saturday eve I was waiting for the numbers to arrive. I recalled that at the same time last year they were of a different ilk as I’d be following, on my hand held device, the latest from the AFL. I’d have one eye on whatever it was that my lovely lady and I were watching, one eye on that other smaller screen, especially if the matches were close. And of course, if a tight contest involved my Hawks, my stress levels would be rising. I suppose millions would be waiting on all Saturdays for the lotto numbers to arrive on screen, but that’s not me.

Now I find it de-stressing before bedtime to have another set of numbers come in– from the Tasmanian Department of Hearth’s coronavirus website, telling me of the amount of positive cases on my island for the previous twenty-four hours . Once they’re up, usually around 9.30 to 10.00, I find it, if not too dire, somewhat comforting to go to bed with that knowledge; to know we’re not being swamped, so to speak. Sadly the numbers of late for those contacting the disease in my old homeland around Burnie have been quite alarming. I sincerely hope, by the time you’re reading this, that those, too, have abated.

Millions of Indians can look north and see the majesty of the Himalayas for the first time in their lives. Without the cruise liners and the tourists the lagoon and canals of Venice are clearing of pollution. What are the chances of that remaining the case after we come out the other side?

A book to while away the hours as we wait for the curve to peak and flatten – the wonderful ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens. See my review on my blog – The Blue Room.

Threesomes to Relish – One of my regular routine treats, pre-CV, was my weekly jaunts into the city to connect with my two dealers. They give me great service, do the savvy people at AusPost stamp-central in Bathurst Street, as also do David and Kim at ‘The Coin and Stamp Place’ in the Trafalgar Arcade. I know this habit and their servicing of my philatelic tastes will resume when we all come out the other side, but I miss it.

Australia Post goes on releasing new issues and March saw their annual ‘Austraian Legends’ come outwith their 2020 recipients of the honour. This year it is dedicated to those who make us laugh – and one of the set that has delighted me in particular. I don’t dismiss the talent Noeline Brown, Magda Szubanski or Garry McDonald, but this guy, at a jam-packed Wrest Point showroom, held a vast audience in the palm of his hand a few years back, including my lovely lady and myself. He had all the punters there that night in his thrall, telling yarns both fantastical and with a kernel of truth, keeping us in fits for several hours. He has found immense success in the UK, taking over from Clive James as television’s Australian pricker of pomposity, with his show ‘The Last Leg’. At the same time he has become a leading spokesperson for the disabled.

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For most of us, though, Adam Hills’ lasting legacy will remain his role as the genial host of a show that just keeps on giving with its regular repeats on ABC Comedy. We all know it – Spicks&Specks’. And last night Leigh and I tuned into its ‘00s Special’ to help us de-stress our way through these challenging days. Here we reacquainted ourselves with regular panelists Alan Brough and another Aussie living treasure in Myf Warhurst. It bought hilarity into our lounge room. It’s part of a yearly clutch of hour long episodes to keep the flame burning and long may they be presented. It was interesting watching it as, music wise, I realised the noughties must have completely passed me by, yet Leigh was singing along to all the ditties on the show. They reminded us all of what we lost when the series was finally canned back in 2011. You can catch these special editions on ABCiView.

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Sometimes the chemistry is magically just right for a panel show and with Adam, Myf and Alan Auntie hit the jackpot. The regard they have for each other is palpable; the musical knowledge Alan and Myf possess immeasurable. With a range of well known guests participating, everyday and now these abnormal woes, disappear.

And this too is decidedly the case with another tele-treat that sees David Mitchell and Lee Mack verbally go at each other under the watchful eye of Rob Brydon, making sure things do not completely descend into comedic anarchy. With a diverse range of media celebrity appearing alongside, but never outshining them, this pair engage in ‘take no prisoners’ repartee and we all have to decide, in ‘Would I Lie To You’, if they are telling the truth or outrageous porkies. Mitchell has remarkable wit delivered in droll style whilst Mack is dynamite with his quick comebacks. This extremely entertaining product first appeared on the Beeb back in 2006 and you can delight in its thirteenth season now on iView.

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Currently Leigh and I are devouring the third series of ‘Ozark’ on Netflix and family Byrde descend even further into dysfunctionality with their crooked enterprises. It’s one of that platform’s best.

The signs are positive as we enter the second quarter. We’re all holding our breath to see if the flattening of the curve continues. But it remains a sinister foe, does the virus, as Burnie is currently showing. Fingers crossed.

Steve

Trent Dalton at the Australian = https://www.theaustralian.com.au/author/Trent%20Dalton

Bertrand Cadart’s Incredible Life = https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-29/why-bertrand-cadart-keeps-a-ferrari-red-coffin-in-the-loungeroom/11587310

Tasmanian Department of Health’s coronavirus website = https://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/publichealth/communicable_diseases_prevention_unit/infectious_diseases/coronavirus

Spicks and Specks website – https://iview.abc.net.au/show/spicks-and-specks-specials’

‘Would I Lie to You’ website – https://iview.abc.net.au/show/would-i-lie-to-you

De-stressing in the Time of CV 03

Dear Friends

The 7K Man – He appeared in the local paper and on FB spruiking his wares so we decided to pay Tyler Clark a visit. His spread is halfway between our spot by the river and Brighton. The sign is small, discreet – speedsters would miss it. The turn-off leads onto a dirt track and up to a hillside home. Tyler’s passion is a little further elevated behind. It overlooks a stunning view of our part of the world with the Derwent shimmering in the distance. The landscape was verdantly greening up after some recent rain.

Initially this former tradie was an avid collector of Australian whiskey – so he started harbouring dreams of his own distillery – and I assure you this is not going the way you may think, knowing my love of the juice of the peat (although someone is being aided in de-stressing as a result!)

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Purchasing a couple of shipping containers, he was soon on his way to achieve his dream. But at some stage during his story he took off on a different tangent, perhaps because of the flood of new Tasmanian enterprises in the art of making the glorious brown liquid. He turned his attention to a clearer one.

Now, neither Leigh nor I were partial to the stuff beforehand. His major offering was the last thing on our minds. That wasn’t the lure that attracted us out that fine morning. Because of the publicity, approaching our destination, we expected a car park full of other desperate punters as what he was offering couldn’t be found on any shelves around Hobs. As it was, parking facilities were minimal and we were the only customers. We were after his byproduct and we had the place to ourselves. He was offering hand sanitiser.

In any case, he was starting to struggle – he had plenty of the liquid, but as his containers came from China – well, you know the story there. But he still had a few jars worth we could decant, so we snapped them up. And Leigh decided to buy a small bottle of his main game – gin. ‘And it’s beautiful,’ says my lovely lady. ‘I always thought gin tasted of paint-stripper,’ but the berry infused concoction sure found a fan in her.

And Tyler is a lovely, thoughtful chap. When Leigh rang for a second helping – sanitiser as well as the tipple – she was told to keep an eye on Facebook. But the very next day he was on the blower to her. He had made some more. We went back poste haste and now Leigh is itching to try her latest blend based around citrus.

Tyler is planning to set up a proper shop in Moonah when the dust settles on all this. In that we wish him well. In the meantime, if gin’s your tonic to de-stress your way through these CV times, you could do worse, according to my lady, than to go to the 7K web-site and order some of his nectar – and the by-product, too, if it’s difficult to attain in your neck of the woods.

French Fluff – Much of what we watch, although some of the best offerings of the Golden Age of Television, are not particularly uplifting or designed to give us light entertainment. Scandi-noir, bleak British police procedurals and recently, the depressing, so depressing ‘Stateless’. The latter will not leave one smiling as it cuts pretty close to the bone. So what better antidote would there be to de-stress than a pretty mindless rom-com. Of course, these abound on our television platforms, but for something a tad different, in recent days I’ve opted for French escapism in ‘The Hook-up Plan’. This is the Paris of not so long ago and tells of indeed a plan, but one that goes so horribly wrong. Thirty-something Elsa (Zita Hanrot) is in the doldrums over her love life – or lack thereof. A beau has left her for another woman and she’s pining over that loss and worries that she’ll be left on the shelf. One of her besties decides that a very fine thing to do would be to hire a male escort (Marc Ruchmann) to pretend to fall in love with her over a couple of dates. That will fix her woes, surely. Of course Elsa predictably falls head over heels. Why not? The guy is a sweetie in the game for all the right reasons – and, guess what? He becomes smitten too. That wasn’t meant to happen. And when our heroine finds out, well, it’s not pretty or forgiving.

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It’s low maintenance viewing with a handsome cast. Season one finished with everything up in the air, so I’m looking forward, sometime soon, to settling into the next series to see how it all pans out.

As Tears Go By – The bastard virus has gotten hold of Marianne Faithful.

What a ‘Whoa!’ moment it was when I first heard ‘The Ballad of Lucy Jordan’ sometime in 1979. That voice – all rasp, a thousand cigarettes and a life badly lived. Could this really be the same person who trilled ‘As Tears Go By’, fifteen years prior, in a voice as pure as virgin snow? I quickly got hold of ‘Broken English’, which included, as well, her iconic version of ‘Working Class Hero’ and that shocking rant, ‘Why Ya Do It?’. Gawd, talk about a virgin no longer! I went on to add, to my collection, more albums of hers over the years, but nothing matched the impact of that incendiary release as the 70s came to an end.

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Sadly that other afflicted hero of mine didn’t make it through to the other side. John Prine succumbed to the virus on 7 April 2020. RIP.

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Weird English – Taking our minds off Marianne, JP and CV, Leigh and I have been de-stressing to ‘Hidden’, season two of which is showing on Stan. It’s a police whodunnit, quite gripping, where the cast flit between English and sub-titled Welsh at the drop of a leek. For me, Series 3 (with 4 recently approved) of ‘Babylon Berlin’ is underway on Netflix, as the Weimar Repblic is on its last legs with the spectre of Nazism well and truly on the horizon. Can hero Police Commissioner Gereon Rath solve the crime as the world spirals out of control in the vice and sin-ridden German capital, with his own personal demons still lingering? So far not as sexy as the first two seasons, but still an excellent way to shut our own spiralling world out.

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Let’s hope the demon of a virus doesn’t linger though. We’re a way to go, I’m sure, but keeping it all in perspective and keeping one’s head down we’ll soon be surging into time on of the first quarter – thanks Mr Gutwein – with hopefully our noses in front.

And we have toilet paper thanks to my daughter’s on-line capabilities and us hitting the sweet spot at the supermarket. Yay!

Steve

7K Distillery web-site = https://www.7kdistillery.com.au/welcome

Marianne Faithful’s website = http://www.mariannefaithfull.org.uk/

‘The Hook-up Plan’ trailer = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1kdkjIjCb8

‘Hidden’ Season Two trailer = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xx-CEo6Fl7M

‘Babylon Berlin’ Season Three trailer = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCbs4634t4E

Dog-prived

Cinema Going. Gone. Pub meals. Gone. Cafe coffee breaks. Gone. Weekly city jaunt. Gone. Connecting with my dealer The Stamp Man. Gone. Connecting with friends and family face to face. Gone. Treks to the homelands. Gone. Hugs from the grandchildren. Gone. So much is gone, gone, gone. And they’ll be missed. Course they will.

But we can find replacements. As we proceed into time-on in the first quarter (good analogy Mr Gutwein), we are discovering adequate replacements with social media, television platforms and a greater appreciation of home fires and the beautiful, irreplaceable person you’re sharing your fortress abode with.

But Mr Wright, in the weekend’s Age, bought home to me something I cannot replace. The bastard virus has taken away my own Lulus, Bolts and Kokomos.

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I had a string of house/dog sits lined up for 2020 that would have given me the canine company I will now sorely miss. I so relish my times with Jasper down in Howrah, Sandy up at Sisters Beach and Summer, along with buddy Bronson, in Devonport. I was particularly looking forward to spending more time with Memphis, my son’s big, beautiful and gentle malamute at Bridport, as well as getting acquainted with his not so new, now best buddy, Pat the Dog. I love the place and it’s been a while.

The solution, you well may think, is obvious. But it’s not so simple with the lifestyle Leigh and I hope to return to when all this shit disappears, as it will. These wonderful animals have been part of the fabric of my life for the past few years and I’ll miss them.

Budgies? Not so much budgies. But feeding the birds at Stefan and Denise’s, the birdsong and the variety at Sisters and Briddy are special too. I’ll just have to content myself with the occasional avian raptor and all the water fowl here by the river, as well as the blue wrens flitting around the garden. And contented I’ll be.

Now, over to Tony W.

Tony Wright’s column = https://www.smh.com.au/national/of-old-dogs-babies-and-birds-companions-in-a-time-of-isolation-20200402-p54gg6.html