Category Archives: Comment

De-stressing in a CV World 01

Dear Friends

It’s a little, perhaps even slight story amidst the tsunami that’s breaking over us, but it’s buoyed me in recent days. My beloved Leigh and I decided, for a change, to go upstream rather than down, for a few items we needed, some of which were beginning to become difficult to attain in the city. Whether its from blind fear or not-so-blind greed, this panic buying thing is a pain. We were largely successful in our aims at New Norfolk’s Woolies, a place that seemed less frenetic than it’s cousins closer in to the CBD. That, though, is not the point of this scribing. Whilst in there, out of curiosity I sauntered over to the area where the toilet paper should be housed when I spotted her. She was a largish girl, her face very flushed, heaving huge packets of Sorbent up onto said shelves. A colleague walked over to her, presumably her overseer, as she took a breath between hefts and I was close enough to overhear their brief conversation:-

He said, ‘I’ve called in Paul. He can do your shift for you tomorrow. You’re pushing it too hard girl. You need a break. Please take it.’

She said back, in a take no prisoners manner, ‘No. No way. This is my job. It needs doing properly and I’m doing it.’ Then she bent down and laboured another couple of dozen rolls up onto its proper place.

I’ve thought about her reaction to her boss’ desire to give her some time away. I reckon working her arse off is probably more than just doing her bit. My notion is that she is probably struggling to come to terms, like the rest of us, with what is happening to our planet. Working like a navvy is her way of trying to block it all out. Trying to cope with it all till we get to the other side. Thank heavens and thank you to the shelf-stackers. We plan to go back up to NN the next time we need to replenish. Maybe I’ll spot her again to discern how she’s doing.

Trump. Trump makes me angry. Always Trump. Then there’s the ineptitude and just plain dumbness of the NSW Department of Health, or whoever it was that, in cavalier fashion, allowed the Ruby Princess to disgorge its thousands of sitting ducks for the virus out onto the streets of Sydney and beyond. Our island is paying a heavy price for that stuff-up and that has made me quietly simmer. And I cannot adequately find the words for humans who mount organised raids on regional supermarkets. But I find if I focus on that girl who was busting a gut, just doing her bit, for whatever reason, I know there is another side. I must not let the anger get on top. It helps to push it aside. What else?


There’s the stuff I love that I can bring to the fore to replace all of those routines I have already lost – but do not, thankfully, spend too much time lamenting. I can still soak cares away with my morning sudsy ablutions to get a day off to a calm commencement. Then comes my music. Katie and her Leigh organised some magic remote headphones so I’ve been losing myself in Missy Higgins, Clapton, the Boss’ ’Western Stars’ of late. As I pen this I am swooning to a glorious new album of Tom Waits’ covers, ‘Come Up to the House’ by some queens and princesses of Americana – Patty Griffin, Rosanne Cash, Shelby Lynn, her sister Allison Moorer and others. Just delectable. Katie sourced it for me on-line. She’s a marvel.

When my own Leigh emerges to start her day she is all calmness and common sense. I know, once we are through this, I’ll cherish and adore her even more, if that’s possible. Eventually, during our days, we’ll get stuck into our latest picks from the plethora of attractive series/movies on our platforms. At the moment we’re hooked by ‘The Capture’ (ABCiView). That will take your mind off anything. We’re also enjoying ‘Secret City’ (Netflix) and ‘The Last Tycoon’ (Amazon Prime). I’m finding ‘The Test’, also on Prime, taking me from Sandpapergate to retaining the Ashes, simply enthralling. And sporting-wise, with the demise of the AFL season, at least I won’t have the angst of a close match involving the Hawks.


But the best balm of all? Late last Sunday afternoon I had, in quick succession, calls from my daughter, Rich and my dear mother. She’s confined to barracks. She’s lived through the Depression, as well as a hot and cold war, so she’s no stranger to adversity. She just keeps on keeping on, surrounded and cushioned by a caring staff at Umina. It felt so good hearing from them; such a salve, those conversations. Family need to be close in these times.

We’ll find a way through all this, as that young Derwent Valley lass is doing. My best wishes to you all as you ride out the storm in your own ways. My missives will keep on coming, She up there beyond the silver lining willing. Know they, too, are soothing for me, helping me keep it in perspective; keeping the bigger, wilder thoughts away


More on ‘Come On Up To the House’ –

Trailer ‘The Capture’ –

Trailer ‘Secret City’ –

Trailer ‘The Last Tycoon’ –

Trailer ‘The Test’ –

Mailed Missives and Andrea’s Book

It aptly emerged around Valentines Day last month, the one-sided cache of letters that the Tasmanian Archives were letting the Hobart public in on to celebrate something or other, maybe just the day of Cupid’s arrow itself. A story was published in the local newspaper, an interview on ABC radio. Through those letters the tyranny of distance was writ large, even when the distance only amounted to that from Bushy Park, up in the Derwent Valley, to the inner city suburb of Newtown. Nothing today. They were his letters. No record of her replies remain. He later was to become the head of a family prominent in Tasmanian affairs, but as a young man, in the 1870s, he was working in the hop-fields and kilns of the Valley. Long hours; daylight to dusk. To visit his town girl back then would require a horse and trap down to New Norfolk, followed by a river steamer into the city. Getting together was therefore problematic, thus the missives between them. They amounted to nearly 200 from him to her, over a period of around two years. The words in these paper communications were delicately intimate, but also gave a portal of intricate detail into a working man’s life amidst the hop-bearing vines in our neck of the woods. Records show they did eventually marry and started to spend a life together. But after a couple of years she was taken from him by TB – but her memory, as well as their devotion, will now last an eternity. Letters allow that.


Fast forward, now, to a novel that I loved, set a century and a bit further on in the Melbourne of around the Bicentenary year. Here Russian woman, Galina, after a chance meeting in St Petersburg, has migrated to Yarra City to begin a new life. Once here she has the other party in that meeting, who loves her, as well as his parents, to assist her in assimilating.

Mother Sylvie collects old letters, an inclination that later turned into a passion. It commenced when she uncovered an enticing one under the floorboards of her home. She finds peering into the lives of others, by reading their mail, is a salve to the mundane everyday existence with her husband, Leopold. Later she is obliged to write a life changing letter of her own. Hubby adores her, but their lives are defined and constrained by his secret.


It’s a beautiful journey, working our way through ‘Invented Lives’, as Galina Kogen disentangles herself from her Russian Jewish past and embraces Australian life, even if she cannot completely embrace Andrew Morrow, who adores her. He’s the man who, in part, was the reason she was in this often perplexing new land, having made a perilous escape to arrive here. She found life with democratic freedom very different to being under the communist thumb. The choices in the shops: just the choices all around. And when she starts to think she has found her forever home on the other side of the world, the past comes crashing back again.

This is a tale of memories, Russian snow and Australian heat, culture clash, different forms of love and the power of letters.

Of course these days digitality has cruelled the standing of letters as a means of personal communication. Auspost has yet again informed the country, in its yearly report, of the ever-diminishing returns from their letter carrying operations, causing another postage price rise and notice of further cutbacks being a possibility for mail delivery services. The world of Galina and Sylvie was perhaps the last hurrah for the post as a force in people’s lives.

In a way she (Sylvie) couldn’t explain her letters acknowledged her – much like an absorbing novel did, although in a more personal and targeted way’. As she related to Galina, ‘I get to experience other times, places, people, emotions through letters…I feel remade.’


Sylvie is speaking of her letter collection. She has been doing some soul searching of late about the paucity of her life with the urbane Leopold and is confiding in her new friend, a friend whom she hopes will soon move to the next level in her relationship with son Andrew. ‘Then there’s handwriting. You’re reading something direct from another’s hand. You’re touching their hand – that’s how it feels to me. And I particularly like letters that are hard to decipher. You have to pour over these; it’s the intensest intimacy.’

And how much more precious does a letter become – not to me, the collector, but the original recipient – when the writer of the letter has died. Think of it: for the wife who lives on after her husband, the man whose brother has passed away, the woman who’s lost her best friend, death does not alter their letters…You’re able to sit by yourself reading your beloved’s words. Savouring them, responding to them, just as you did when they were alive. Death, which changes almost everything, leaves letters untouched.’

…all letters are communications’, Sylvie continued on page 218, ‘all letters speak to someone, all letters invite the reader into the heart and mind of the writer. There’s something deliciously clandestine about letters. I love everything about them.’

Little did Sylvie know what was just around the corner. I’m sure, as with myself, she’d be saddened by the demise of her passion in the world of the C21st. There are some throwbacks, battling against the tide; some lovely people, whom I cherish, even continuing to send off epistles to me. But back in the 90s I had my own world wide net – people from all over the globe who wrote to me and I wrote back. They were called pen-friends. Going to the letter box was a highlight of the day. These days my mail box is full of requests for money, envelopes with windows and unsolicited advertising – apart from a few treasured items. Emails, as well as platforms like Messenger etc, fill the void, of course. They are exceedingly welcome, but it’s not quite the same.

Sylvie’s world will never come back, but I still sit here many mornings scribing away anyway. Hopefully the recipients are, like her, not being put off by my increasingly indecipherable scrawl – for, you see, I just love it.


Andrea Goldsmith’s web site = =

Small Screen, Big Movie

It took a while too, Nikki, to come to terms with it. A-class movies being shown on the small screen after a limited, or non-existent, release in the movie houses. Netflix leads the way with this. I too, like you, Ms Gemmell, watched ‘Marriage Story’ and ‘The Two Popes’ in fits and starts – and I kinda liked that way of doing it. My difference was I did it on the tele, not i-pad or mobile. I can’t come at that, but I know many – and I include some at my age too – who can. I haven’t tackled ‘The Irishman’ yet – it’s mixed reviews and length making it less appealing. I’ve read that many couldn’t make it through.

That being said, the magic of the big screen is still alive for me. I come from a time when people actually dressed to the nines when going to the cinema of an evening. It was the adult thing to do. I can also remember that often a B-grade offering was shown first before intermission, with a newsreel to boot. As a kid, the Saturday matinee was the go, with often the line to get in extending around the block. There were uniformed ushers with torches flashing and jaffas raining down from on high. Those days and antics are long gone. Now my grown-up movie going is during the day, but it still excites me. Considering I’m ageing, it does require an effort as I have to drive a distance into the State, or to Eastlands. With the former parking has become problematic of late, making it less attractive. I therefore tend to be careful with my choices, going with the critics, or a favoured actor or director. I like to blog my opinions on what I’ve seen too, hopefully encouraging one or two to see a gem they may have missed otherwise.


I am prepared to view something I wish to see on my tod, but nothing gives me more pleasure than accompanying my lovely lady to a film. On the extremities our tastes diverge. She adores big screen Hollywood and action heroes, I’m more taken by art house and foreign language. Thankfully there’s much middle ground where we can merge and it’s heaven.


I thought long and hard about whether to include the Netflix innovation in my blogging, but when venerable figures like David Stratton and Oscar did so; it tipped the balance. To my mind both variations have their pluses. I just hope, as the years mount up, I can continue to make that effort. I just love it.

Nikki Gemmell on Going to the Movies =

The Non-Gambler

It was such a pleasant Sunday afternoon this one just past. The sun was out, shimmering off the Derwent; a salve after days of mist and humidity. We’d dined well and extraordinarily cheaply at the bistro and I was happily ensconced by the panoramic windows, watching the boating activity on the briny, supping on some amber heaven and perusing the weekend papers. People all across the room, in singles or groups, were doing the same or similar. I noticed they were mostly of my own demographic, seemingly all quite content and at ease with the world, by the look of it, as I was. My lovely lady had left me for one of the other attractions of the venue. She was having a flutter at the pokies – something she really enjoyed. We do this every couple of months or so, my love and I. Now I’d certainly describe her as a responsible gambler, for she knows ‘when to hold ’em…when to fold ’em’ – so to speak. Many call her Lucky Leigh as she seems to win reasonably frequently on both the machines and Keno – not huge amounts, but she’s had some very tasty ones. As well she had a goodly return from the lotto a few years back, just enough to make proceeding into retirement less financially problematic. It was fair dues, given she’d spent years making a nurse’s salary stretch beyond belief. She’s a marvel money-wise. It’s one of the many reasons I admire her as well as love her.


We’re going to the ‘No later on. Coming?’

Thanks, but no.’

In the end they gave up asking, my uni mates, at my residential college. Back then, in 1973 and after, for a while, Wrest Point was a happening place – the nation’s first casino. It gave the city of Hobart its first MONA effect. It was the place to be. International stars came to the showroom – why Jerry Lewis opened the whole shebang. The high rollers flew in and the locals came to gawk, dressed to the nines – well, most of them. Word had spread of the beauty and allure of the young ladies manning the gambling tables – one of these honeys later went on to marry a premier.

The lads from Hytten Hall would head down to Sandy Bay and the ‘No of an evening, after they’d completed their studies. They would be attired in a motley array of jackets that had seen better days. Most were bought from the local op shops for that specific purpose for a few bob. Ties were compulsory too to pass the doormen. They’d later regale me with their adventures – the glorious women that were there, or how much they’d had to drink. They couldn’t afford to gamble – but that didn’t stop one or two testing their luck. As I recall, the one-armed bandits were not a feature back then, but I could be wrong, never entering the place. Of course the mainland cities soon caught on, with each having its own equivalent these days – but I’ve never been as comfortable in those as I am at the local one in my dotage. They’re just not my scene. It is.


As you have no doubt gathered by now I am not a gambler. I’ve never had a bet on the ponies in my life. I had a bit of a go on the pokies with Leigh once, but within ten minutes I’d had enough. I’m just not interested. But that’s not the point. When, at the last state election, Labor’s Bec White tried to lead us all into a pokies free existence, she ended up falling flat on her face at the polls. I could easily see the reason why, apart from the funds the vested interests sent the way of the Libs. She had great intentions after all the horror stories we’d heard, from the Northern Suburbs, of families wrecked through gambling addiction, but I was unsure whether what Bec was attempting could be the answer. Wouldn’t they just find another way to self-destruction?

So, no. I don’t get upset that my AFL team attracts the highest percentage of its profits from poker machines of all the clubs. Sure, something needs to be done about addressing the advertising for the activity that is associated with the game. Yep, I reckon that’s where the attention needs to be focused. I might be naive, but I reckon most are like my Leigh. They play the pokies sensibly, just loving the expectation that a little windfall might be in the next press of a button. They set themselves a limit and stick to it. It is a social occasion for many – some perhaps not having much else in their lives. My Leigh just loves having a chat with like minded punters in those rooms too. So what if all that is not to my taste. Why should all those that find it convivial and derive pleasure from it be denied? I may be accused of living in a bubble but there it is. Go Hawks 2020.


James Morressey’s opinion piece =

Summer and it’s Personal

Summer isn’t meant to be like this

There should be blue skies, not red

Christmas dinners.

Not the call out to face an inferno

Carefree days

Not the dread of where nature is taking us, and

Where next it will rain its wrath down

I think of so many communities across the water


The toll on life and lifestyle

The toll on wildlife and wild places

I look around my city

The forest clad hills

With fingers of bush pushing

Right into its heart

And I wonder and I fear

Please, never another 1967


Images abound of the horror of it all

At the start of this mint new decade

But for me there’s one, from

Some time ago now

Its not a horizon of fire

Nor singed koalas and ‘roos

Or people holding loved ones close

On a beach or a jetty

As the apocalypse approaches

An injured kangaroo limps through burnt bushland in Cobargo

To me the image of this summer

Perhaps for all summers henceforth

You’ll recall it, no doubt

It’s a few years back now

A galoot of a Prime Minister to be

Entered our parliament cradling

In his palm

A single lump of coal

Said he with a smirk of glee

Lookee here and see. Right here, folks

With this black stuff you spy the future.’

Then and there he gave the middle finger to science


Where is the spine of Fraser and his

Vietnamese refugees forever thankful

Where is the nous of Hawke

Saving the Franklin

Where is the eloquence of Keating

With the Redfern Oration

Of Howard facing down the gun lobby

In a bullet proof vest.

We’ve had Rudd flip-flopping

Abbott nay-saying and denying

Turnbull – well, whatever happened

To his spine and core beliefs

At least Julia had a go

And now the galoot is our leader

His time has come

A Christian without, to date

Any Christianity, at least

In any form I know it

It’s not coal he’s holding

In his clutches now

But the futures of my

Beautiful and extraordinary grandkids

Of all our beautiful and extraordinary


Stand up.

Be a leader

Stay Christian if you must

But grow a spine, for pity’s sake


Bert Grimes is dead, finally. Should I use that word – finally. I don’t mean to be disrespectful to him. It is that, just by rights, he lived longer than he should have. Not that I begrudged him that – not one iota.

I hadn’t seen much of Bert since the copperheads and a mugger curtailed my daily ramble down the track at the end of Riverside Drive. My neighbour, the best of all possible neighbours, had kept me appraised of how he was getting on these last few years. Noel, good man that he is, would check on him a couple of times a week to ensure he was okay. Maybe I should of done so as well, but sometimes life just gets in the way. I knew various support groups kept him under observance as well – and delivered his groceries. I suspect they delivered a little more as well. Last week Noel came across for a coffee. He confirmed what I had already suspected – I’d seen a hearse go by and I’d figured who it might be. Old Bert had passed away. We both commented that, at 95, he had had a fine innings.


Bert was out in his vegie patch most days I passed by his cottage, down near where the bitumen gave way to the track back in those years I did my perambulating. He’d have his old dog with him, for company, lying nearby. He’d call out a greeting to me, or give a hearty wave. One day, the ever present rollie in the corner of his mouth, he beckoned me over. ‘I hear word the Joe Blakes are about down further. You be careful along there young fella.’ I told him that, now I was in my sixties, it’d been a long time since anybody had called me a young fellow. He emitted a chuckle, as dry as the Aussie summer bush around us, as I headed off. After that I occasionally stopped for a bit of a yarn with Bert. One day we got onto the subject of the travails of ageing. ‘How ancient do you reckon I am, then, young fella?’ he inquired with a twinkle in his rheumy old eyes, relighting his fag. ‘Bout 75 or so Bert. Close enough?’

No where near,’ he chortled, obviously very pleased with himself. ‘I’m 89 years young,’ he roared. ‘Put that in your pipe and smoke it!’ I then asked the standard, ‘What do you put your longevity down to, Bert?’

Longevity. That’s a bloody good word, ain’t it? I’ve been asked this question a few times, young fella. I know it’s not these bloody ciggies, but I reckon I can point to three things. I worked in the bush all my adult life. Not much stress in chopping down trees, son. Then there was Marie. She was a good woman. Looked after me, like. Fed me up well and made sure I kept regular appointment’s with the doc. She’s long gone now, but when I get an ache or a pain I can still hear her nagging at me, ‘You get yourself to the medical centre, Bert, or you’ll have your rations cut.’ and off I’d go.’ He paused at that point, a bit of a faraway look in his eye.


I bought him back to the matter at hand with, ‘And the third, Bert?’ He grinned and pointed across the way to where there were some brown bottles were assembled outside the back door. ‘I reckon it’s them. See them there tallies? One with me tea and one just before beddy-byes. Sleep like a baby. Yep, regular as clockwork. No more. No less.’

Bert was old school. They were all VBs. None of the new passion for craft ale for this wrinkled, rake-thin boy. The line up reminded me of the old days, as a kid, when most backyards of my experience had stacks of the same sort of bottles – Boags in my part of the world – waiting for the bottle-o to come and collect them, handing over a few bob for the family budget for the privilege. Recycling was alive and well back in the day when Bert was in his pomp. Back in the era when a hard eared thirst needed a thorough quenching after hours of hard yakka in Tassie’s forests.

It’s now ten, Stevie,’ came the call from the lounge room, from my lovely lady, as I was washing up in the kitchen. She was watching the news, but I knew what she was on about. I’d read it in the paper earlier that morning. The National Health and Medical Research Council, based on the latest information, as well as, would you believe, ‘mathematical modelling’, had arrived at the conclusion that, for health to continue to be fine and dandy, we all should restrict ourselves to ten standard drinks a week. Ten!! Previously they had generously prescribed fourteen standard drinky-poos.


I have already made mention in a couple of scribings how the gentle influence of my beloved Leigh had lessened my alcohol intake to around that mark. I have become more disciplined with my drinking – three a night, four nights a week. I suspect my idea of standard might not necessarily agree with the Council’s, but, even so, I figured, I still had a little leeway up my sleeve. With that I was tickety-boo – felt comfortable. But now it’s been ordained it’s ten. Sheeesh!

I wonder what old Bert Grimes would have thought of that? Raised his middle finger to it with glee, I’ve no doubt. And I’ll take my cue from that. For me it’s about balancing quality of life with the recommendations of the health police. I’m sticking to the fourteen. I like a drink. I look forward to my four nights a week. I rarely go over my self-imposed limit and these days I feel better in mind and body for that. But cut back again….

Who knows? Had Bert abided by recommendations in his intake he might have lived another ten years and lasted till 105. 95 with his intake or 105 without? I know what Bert would have chosen. And at this moment, I’m with him.


As with Shane, I miss those days. Although life with my beautiful lady, in these years by the river, provides me with ample fun, I do still miss the glee of those years. Shane misses it because she is a victim (of sorts) of #MeToo. I was out of it and retired before that – and I stress this necessary movement took place. There were indications of what was up ahead in my later years and that more care needed to be taken in one’s working relationships with the opposite gender.

shane watson

I am largely comfortable around women. Many of my dearest friends are women – women I have mostly met in the schools I have practised my profession in over the decades. I developed a bond with them and I take pride in saying they are still incredibly important to me. On the staffs of my experience an easy collegiality existed. On occasions I saw romantic relationships develop in others, but behaviours were perhaps tempered by the abundance of young minds about. I never experienced a toxic workplace, nor one where it seemed to me that women would feel sexually threatened on a day to day basis. I’m male though. How am I to judge? There were flirtations (I may have very mildly participated at times), as well as the sort of contact around the corridors that may raise eyebrows now.

As I aged I became increasingly wary around young female staff – and it is perhaps because of that I retain friendship with some of them to this day. Over the years I did encounter a few male types who were overly attentive to the younger women on staff, but I was more in my comfort zone with staff members of the opposite gender closer my own age. I enjoyed the cosy familiarity I shared with them, at times even comforting them when the occasion arose without it posing in any way as something out of order. I wonder if that could happen today? These women seemed as secure in their own skins as I became under the influence of my wonderful Leigh. And they enhanced my life each and every day.


Has #MeToo now rubbed off in the sort of staff rooms I worked in? I have no real way of knowing. Most workplaces, by their very nature, encourage close contact and lines can be crossed – deliberately or otherwise. Any boss who feels she or he can control affairs of the heart under their watch is deluding him/herself. It’s human nature to put the heart before the brain, or at least how the brain is ordained to behave. And, anyway, this is distinctly different to the systematic, ingrained harassment of the female gender that has raised its ugly head in the armed forces, hospitals, banks and even on the musical stage in recent times.


I do admire the women who were the whistle-blowers in this regard. Odious men of the ilk of Roger Ailes and Harvey Weinstein need to be called out. The former has been brilliantly portrayed in all his rottenness by Russell Crowe in one of the year’s best tele-series, ‘The Loudest Voice’, with the forthcoming big screen production ‘Bombshell’ soon set to further blacken his name. Hopefully Hollywood will similarly turn on Weinstein. These are repugnant guys and not at all reflective, I would hope, of most of my gender.


The fun police have had their beige way with so much in how the world operates in these early decades of the 21st Century. Is a sterile staff room, office or industrial site more productive than one where, in Ms Watson’s words, ‘…something slightly inappropriate…’ is turned a blind eye too in the name of keeping morale up? For me, close and caring encounters with the beautiful women of my orb, now completely away from the workplace, gives my life extra fizz. And, to my mind, the human condition needs all the fizz it can get these days.

Shane Watson’s opinion piece =

Bras that Tie

I’ve always loved the ritual of a man liberating me from a bra. The sexiest of them didn’t fumble; the best had confidence and that holiest of grails, tenderness. They did it with reverence, as if opening up a treasure chest;…Bras, an instrument of the male gaze and wonderment, oh, didn’t we know that.’

Oh, how hard was it trying not to fumble – but the release, when it came, was worth all the nervousness, even if there may have been a little embarrassment if the front-loading variety was encountered.

There is that reverence to it, certainly, but it’s a thing of beauty, as well as a thrill, to unencumber a woman’s breasts, especially if that unencumbering is privately for your wonderment alone. What warming memories it creates. To a lesser – much lesser – degree, if this occurs on a screen, small or large, there’s still an element of all that as well. It’s all something time can never diminish.

Of course, from a male’s perspective – this male’s perspective – there’s also something to be said for completely freeing the breast as well. I hark back to my 1970s days when I was at uni and later, in the workforce – days that coincided with the cheesecloth era. In my early teaching career there was a liberated young lass, a colleague, who did not include a bra as an item of her clothing when she fronted a classroom. It was too much for our otherwise quite tolerant principal the occasion a cheesecloth blouse was worn, leaving little to the imagination of her pupils (it was a secondary school) or her fellow teachers as she strutted around the corridors. It had to be a case of bra-up or think about another career. Those were the days.

Is there an equivalent for the male? No, not exactly – but there is one item that once featured in my wardrobe but now, for comfort’s sake, is never disported by this anything but fashionista in the here and now. I can safely say I haven’t worn one this century, nor for a few decades preceding. And unlike Ms Gemmell’s prognosis for the bra, I doubt, though, whether this strip of material will ever disappear for good. It is entrenched as de rigueur for many professions and workplaces in the public eye. I did wear them, back in the 70s, along with my paisley shirts, flares and platform shoes. Then they were wide and funky, there being a sort of competition between the male staff as to who could get away with the most outrageous and bad taste design – although I do not think that same principal had to threaten anybody to tone them down. But trends fade away and perhaps that was also the death knell for this guy wearing ties. Ties became conservative, I went for more casual. Thankfully, by the 80s, fewer and fewer of my teaching pals wore them. There were a couple throwbacks to the 50s then, but a tie in a public school today is as scarce as a hen’s tooth.

Does a tie equate with a bra? I could be wrong, but sensually removing a tie would not have the same effect for the female of the species than if the role were reversed – if she was doing the same with that undergarment, or any garment for that matter. But then, I’m not qualified to answer. Ties have little functionality, unlike the bra, given that they were initially seen as a better option than the corset. Ties, to put it bluntly, are simply just a pain in, or around, the neck. I can only but remain in agreement with NG – a bra being removed is truly ‘…exhilarating’ in contrast.


Nikki Gemmel’s column –

Cold Revisited

At last I know who to blame. During it, as well as for a long time afterwards, for the life of me I couldn’t work it out. But Ms Lester has provided me with the answer. I only had to join the dots. I can now blame men in suits – specifically, American men in suits.

Now I’ve mused before, in recent times, on coldness. I’ve insisted I am less adverse to it, it being natural chill, these days than I have been in the past. But artificial cold is another matter – and having it blown on me, against my wishes, as my lovely lady knows only too well from my incessant whingeing during the summer months, is a pet peeve.


I was looking so forward to our cruise to the tropics. In all fairness it did turn out to be a holiday that ticked all the boxes – almost. We’d cruised up the East Coast of Oz previously on P&O to the warmth without a skerrick of a problem, apart from a bit of wild water. We had a ball. Our trip to the South Pacific was almost as enjoyable. Tropical heat. That’s what I yearned for. The boat did deliver that on its island stops and out on deck. Unfortunately, as far as the inside public areas went, the temperature barely registered as cool. To be comfortable there I had to dispense with my shorts and tees and don long sleeved shirts and trousers. Chilled air was being blasted down on all and sundry. Until now I couldn’t figure out why that should be. The punters, I reckoned, could have stayed back in their cooler climates to get that. Inside, on a bright gorgeous day, it felt anything but tropical.


It wasn’t till I read Amelia L’s musing on the wonder that is air-conditioning that I twigged. Of course, the cruise company’s home port was Miami and ‘…, Americans of all stripes love freezing fake air.’ Our ship had aligned its thinking about blowing out air to the preferences ‘…of a 40-year-old (American) man in a suit’.’ My mind can rest easy now that’s cleared up.

But next is the question as to why this type of thinking applies for cinema goers at home, all around the country, in mid-summer. Here I am, say, in Melbourne; the temperatures arcing up into the high-30s and I’m in long strides carrying a jacket or jumper. That’s right. I’m off to the cinema toting extra layers as I know from experience that if I dress for the weather I’d be covered in goosebumps as I endeavoured to enjoy the attraction that was up on the big screen. The same also applies to some of the shops, but at least I can leave those if I’m getting too frosticooled. Yep, I made that last word up – but it describes how I feel when this occurs to me. I hate near-freezing air being pumped in on me. I want to enjoy the heat. I get enough cold living in beautiful Tassie. And, yes, as I said last time – I know I’m soft.


Please just let us enjoy what nature provides. Surely we’ve learnt enough about the negatives of trying to change and fiddle around with what comes to us naturally. And I also have a new hero, so thank you Amelia for introducing him to me. I’m signing up to Iolu Abil’s fan club.

Amelia Lester’s take on air-conditioning =

Mono or Bi – I’m comfortable both ways

Let me make this clear from the onset. I come from a bi-heritage, but mono suits me just fine as well.

So columnist Penny Flanagan has done a spot of house/dog sitting too. Only she, it seems, has had some startling reality checks on how some others manage, or mismanage, their households – those she has been invited access to to keep hound and home safe. And she saw fit to broadcast their shortcomings to all and sundry around the country. I did quietly wonder if she’d be welcomed back ‘…from Manly to Mossman to Coogee…’

I do the same within my orb. I love it. As much as I adore life with my beautiful lady on the fringes of Hobs, a dog/house mind gives me a change of scene and a few advantages I do not have at our little idyllic abode abutting the Derwent.

I have four regular gigs. As a plus two are situated in real ‘SeaChange’ (Will the new version be a semblance of its seminal predecessor?) locations, Bridport and Sisters Beach. It’d be a toss-up between the duo as to which I would prefer to spend the rest of my days in if, heaven forbid, I had to leave my present situation. In both there is a sense of serenity; a notion of escape. They are very special communities. Of course I also get to share time with some magnificent canines – Jasper, Sandy the Spoodle, Summer, Bronson, Memphis and Pat the Dog. It’s a pleasure, always, having their company as I do my best to follow owner’s instructions and not spoil them rotten. All four residences are close to beach or river so I can stroll to my heart’s content. I value the fact that, at all, I can walk to attain my daily needs, including the Age. At home, on the fringes of a capital city, I have to hop in the car for those requirements.


I have the joy in each of a large screen television. There is nothing I relish more than sharing a movie or tele series with my Leigh, but our tastes do not always run parallel. Away, at these places, I can view the footy and cricket. I am able to binge on Netflix and/or Stan. With two I have the sheer bliss of wood-fired heating and all larders are well stocked, with the permission to graze. I can cook meals I usually would not have at home. I don’t, Ms Flanagan, have any problems with bath mats and each has a micro-wave. I’ve existed for decades without a dishwasher so that’s never an issue. In short, all four venues are welcoming, ultra-comfortable places to spend a week or two. There are no strange household ‘anomalies’ whatsoever. But now the rub

For the history of all this refer to Amelia Lester’s column, but the lovely homes to which I am gifted visits are not at all consistent in approach in one area – and for me this is no biggie whatsoever. I must admit I was bought up bi and my lovely Leigh is of the same inclination. I did suffer some discombobulation when, well before I embarked on house-sitting, I had my first encounter with the mono version. I recall being in a quandary. Did I let my lovely host know that he/she had forgotten something? Did I sneak off in the night to sort it out for myself and find the other half of the equation? Or did I simply go with the flow? I went with the latter and coped with the initial strangeness of it all. I soon discovered that, in the wider world, there are as many, perhaps even more, devotees of mono-ism as there are to being bi-orientated.

Now, of course, I take it all in my stride. If I’m welcomed into a mono-sheeted household I am perfectly at home as, according to Ms Lester’s statistics, they are close to, if not in the majority. I’ve adapted, just as I have to fitted bottom sheets – just as long as I’m not expected to fold the plurry things. Mono or bi, I’m content both ways.


Amelia Lester’s column =

Penny Flanagan’s column =