Saturday, January 30, 2016


                                                             Woyzeck (pic from smh review)

Georg Büchner penned his incomplete Woyzeck in 1836. Same old same completely fucked up old. I was keen to see it. To revisit that story with its terrifyingly odd yet they're-walking-amongst us characters; they're in the paper every day, sitting next to you on the bus, mowing your lawn.

And I'm mad about going to Carriageworks - the dark tree-lined streets on the edge of the University precinct (I know that edge, six years of it, and wish I'd appreciated it then but blah blah), gentrification on the creep and tickety-booed-up student residentials, with parking meters, no blacks. Down the steps into the vast old railway spaces still holding off from politically correct lighting unlike the SOH which has completely gone no-falling-down-steps anymore, and its hideous.

Inside, there's all these wonderful things made from bottle tops, cardboard, and wonderful every-day stuff by El Anatsui and it gets to be hypnotic after a while. Lost in space.

The Woyzeck came from Hamburg's Thalia, via Copenhagen and Robert Wilson and Tom Waites and Kathleen Brennan, now directed by Jette Steckel, and played out with varying degrees of perilousness on a cantilevering huge steel framed rope net as the snakes-and-ladders game we have landed in, and the concrete below. Dialogue in German with subtitles, and Tom Waites sung in English.

I liked it especially for its relevance, for the ordinary not-so-poor people sitting there transfixed by the horror of what can happen to the ordinary especially-poor people completely flummoxed by circumstance, inadequacies, lust, fear, oppression, outcasting, and abuse. And I had yet to see The Golden Age" which we saw last week - the desparately sad story of the lost Tasmanian tribe sucked back into 'civilisation' and destroyed by its filthy backwardness (civilisation that is). Oh, and also OA's The Rabbits (white invasion) which we caught a few weeks ago is also in the spectrum.

But nothing reinforces the tragedy of this ever recurring domestic and personal upheaval more than Helen Garner's 'This House of Grief - The Story of a Murder Trial" which I am well into right now. I am reading it very slowly.

"I saw it on the TV news. Night. Low foliage. Water, misty and black. Blurred lights, a chopper. Men in hi-vis and helmets. Something very bad here. Something frightful. Oh Lord, let this be an accident."

The immediacy of her reporting brings too vividly, really too vividly, all those things you didn't want to read or didn't make it into the papers. The cold dark black water, the frothy mouthed dead boys, the process of the law, the aching sadness of picking apart the lives of those who have already lost.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


How's it go? 'Quickly now, for here begins' .. No. It's 'Be quiet now, for here begins'* ..

O mein Gott - not only has the second half of 2015 circled the memory gurgler and all but drained away, but January 2016 is just about done. Let's start with January, and see if I can get back to 2015.

Matthias Goerne swung through on his way to Hong Kong (for Walküre Wotan) and gave us what looks like his fetish piece - Wintereisse - with the William (The Nose, Lulu) Kentridge 'production', I suppose you'd call it, with each song introduced and visualised with WK's animated drawings. Effective if you like that kind of thing. We sat very close which was good in that with Goerne and the piano and pianoman, Marcus Hinterhaüser, in focus the projections were off field and blurring out, so it was a bit win-win. Look at them when you wanted, let them fade away otherwise. Goerne at close quarters is very compelling, facially very animated, with lots of mannerisms and the odd habit of sticking his head into the piano, for sotto resonance maybe, not that it sounded he needed it, or simply getting into it, as you do.

I liked him. He's intense and sings, if a bit sing-songy - although that feeling is probably more to do with the sweetness and warmth of his voice in the upper register (when he does black it's very black) - with endless colours and dynamics, everything shaded and phrased to a well rehearsed perfection. Here's Der Leiermann. Wonderful, The line is broken up, and the effect quite moving. Stained by the past, hesitant, uncertain, hopeful though not yet optimistic.

Here's a review I want to keep a record of.

Woyzeck next post and by the way there's summer rain. Rain!

* Ogden Nash Carnival of the Animals

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Birds fly into the windows all the time. Well, not all the time; nothing happens all the time. Except ageing.

Depending on the light, the glass becomes a mirror, and they fly into it full pelt imagining, I suppose, they are flying into that which is behind them, the future their past, ending in a sickening thud.

This morning I was sitting at the dining room table which runs alongside big glass sliding doors which open on the terrace and the garden. It was cool, there was light rain and I was warm and snug inside.


There's a check list - keep the dog away; is it dead, from head injury or more likely broken neck - too horrible to describe; do I need to protect it while it recovers, or while it dies, in my hand. To my surprise the victim of today's collision was a gorgeous little Kingfisher. Oh no, this was the second time this had happened and only the second time I'd seen them, and on finding the link I find that I'm repeating myself, which I do, often.

He survived. And by the time I had the camera, he was looking around. Tiny - not much bigger than gum leaf - beautifully coloured, and all beak.

The looking around went on a bit, oblivious to me (and the dog) just inside the glass.

Suddenly there was a startled flurry, a rearing up and as quickly, as if in almost fatal supplication, the body then stilled except for a ghastly open beaked silent cry of anguish. A big Wattle Bird had flown in and stood with flared tail feathers and aggressively outstretched neck and forward beak, just to the left of the picture frame. 

(click to enlarge photos)

Reflexly I knocked on the glass, to disturb the bully, anything but be witness to whatever next. The Kingfisher got away first, fast and fleet, across the lawn to the nearest tress, the Wattle Bird not far behind and to cap it all off, a second Wattle Bird swooped out of nowhere to join the pursuit.

Friday, January 1, 2016


Happy New Year folks.

Here's lookn at ya -

Monday, November 2, 2015


The morning after J was discharged now that her mitral valve leak had been repaired (the fine fibrous tendons which finesse its closure had ruptured - the strings of my heart were broken she confessed in an unguarded moment of truth about her past) and a ring inserted into the tricuspid valve which had collaterally been distorted by a struggling ventricle, we took her for breakfast at Jackies before heading off to the Blue Mountains for a swap to another car to complete the four hour drive homewards.

Jackies is where C told Debbie to stop worrying about turning fifty and for fucks sake, have a party. Which she did.

There's a fashionable women's shop next door, or overhead mostly, as Jackies sits mainly in a gorgeous golden old sandstone cellar. A side service door to the shop is from Jackies upper courtyard. There's interesting comings and goings often enough, and on this morning a fine looking young woman in sensible shoes carried in a bucket chocka with the most gorgeous roses, a soft pale apricot pink rose at once subtle but attention commanding at the same time.

A second bucket arrived as we were leaving. I for one couldn't help myself. I mostly can't. The smell was a thing increasingly rare, and transporting, literally back to childhood. My father's favorites were 'Forty-niner*' and 'Peace", about as old fashioned as old fashioned roses get, or got. I all but swooned and smelt again. "Take one" she smiled, "it's 'Josephine'." 

(* named after the 1849 Californian gold rush)


At last I find some time to log into blogger. While I can't say that I've been aching to do it, not really, there has been something knawing away inside me - the need to keep a rudimentary record of things.

This post started a month or so ago when the first signs of spring appeared and by now we seem to have catapulted into an early summer with storms and humidity already all the go. Everything is green, and there's leeches about and the dog had a tick under her mandible the other week. The ceiling fan over the bed in on most nights, and the lawn scattered with bedding during the day

Things have been a bit askew the past few months. About the only constancy, and comfort, is the diurnal-ness of the bush - kookaburras in the morning calling in the day and a lengthening twilight with wombats out, brazen as ever. These photos are weeks old now, when the summer grass was first shooting.

                                                              (drenched but undeterred)

                                                            (only cute from a distance)

Anyway, as I said, there's been some hiccoughs.

The dog tore a hamstring when she took off one evening in the hunt for whatever - most likely a wallaby or roo, or fox maybe. She came back lame and the dreaded suspicion of a cruciate tear didn't realise, but rather she had a grey-hound kind of injury which needed rest and patience and is now completely healed.

More significantly, there was a fall on a coast walk when someone beloved felt the land give way and snapped both tibia and fibula just above the ankle in a dramatic and instant upheaval, highlighted in its extravagance in that the Police Rescue needed to be involved.

Broken bones in legs are sobering. They highlight vulnerability. They destroy independence. They threaten deformity. And like all illness, they bring you together.

It makes me consider just what courage was involved in the great Dame recovering from bilateral broken femurs. You need the one to support the other and, without the either for the or, a return to weight-bearing seems impossible. But she for one did. While our episode was only the one leg, my (equally big and Scottish) dear one managed admirably.

Here's Joan, back on her timbers in the most matter of fact kind of way and, as usual, dismissive of undue adulation.

And just recently a country friend with neither family nor strong city connections has been our guest while waiting for and eventually having heart surgery. She disguises much of herself well with a visage and patter of unending and not uncommonly inappropriate optimism. Or denial. Is there a difference?

The night before her scheduled appointment with the heart-lung machine (which actually turned out to be a rehearsal of sorts: we were to sit all day waiting, her chatter became less oblique and more grounded as the hours wore on before being told mid-afternoon that it was cancelled and delayed at least a fortnight, sorry about that) she handed me an envelope, awkwardly. Inside was a cash cheque for a large amount of money which I shoved back in with an exclamation of: 'whatever are you thinking?'

'In case you need to dispose of me.' She was as white as the envelope with fear.

I hope to do some dot point memories of some recent shows shortly. Web browsing and commenting is still some way off yet. The back-list needs to be worked through some more still.