Saturday, June 30, 2018

June 30. Day 181. Go directly to jail

I am a most particular about audience members adhering to "appropriate"clothing standards when it comes to attending the theatre. Generally appropriateness is assessed against a standard I set myself and police by no-one except my judging looks. Today was something else all together with a very different set of clothing police. Today we went to jail for a spot of Shakespeare, as you do. And the right to see Two Gentlemen of Verona in Borallon Prison meant foregoing some of the right to choice normally afforded the theatre-going public.
We had to wear closed in shoes or sandals with an ankle strap and clothes that were clean and in good condition. We could not wear 

  • clothing with obscene or discriminatory language,
  •   shirts without sleeves, tank tops or singlets
  • short skirts or shorts
  • Tight clothing
  • See-through clothing
  • Revealing clothing 
  • Jewellery other than a wedding or engagement ring
It was an eye opener just to see what visitors to prison go through. The performance was excellent. the chance to see inside a jail and talk to the prisoners was what made the experience really special. And to cap off an excellent afternoon we drove home via Wivenhoe dam.
You can listen to us discuss the experience here.

Friday, June 29, 2018

June 29. Day 180. Water, water everywhere

 I may have told my mother a bit of a lie about my plans for today*. I said there were council works in my area which may mean no power and no water. Actually the works were taking place in my kitchen but I wanted this to be a surprise. I'm sure that must mean three Hail Mary's or something. Anyway, with no running water at home I had no choice but to go out and find running and water. The dogs and I found ourselves at Wellington Point meeting up with my friend Alison her boys, her parents and her brother. It is inconceivable that we consider a day like today as winter. The water was cold but try telling that to Elliott and Owen. They were making the most of their final days in Australia before heading home to Singapore on Monday for what will be an actual summer holiday. I don't need any excuse to go to the beach but if I did this would as good as any. Seeing kids romping in the water is good for the soul. Having a new kitchen to go home to is pretty bloody good too

*okay. It wasn't "true" but I'd prefer not to think of it as a lie

Thursday, June 28, 2018

June 28. Day 179. Nice night for a walk

There's always a lot of talk, especially after an attack, about how women should be aware of their surroundings and take adequate precautions.
On the surface that makes sense and is good advice. But a life led in fear is a life half lived as they say in the classics (where the classics are defined as Baz Luhrmann's Strictly Ballroom). Anyway, I I don't want to live in fear so while I probably shouldn't walk across New Farm Park at night but I do. I walk across Musgrave Park at night too. Tonight it was in the company of my son. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it isn't.
I actually like to walk at night. It's different from the day. And tonight showed part of the strange vagaries of night walking. In New Farm Park it was foggy and haunting. I expected the same would be true when I walked the short distance to the river. But it wasn't it was crisp and clear. It was, as they say in the classics a nice night for a walk... where the classics are now defined as The Terminator.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

June 27. Day 178. Children and animals

 According to Dogtime.Com, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is a five star choice for being "an incredibly kid friendly breed". The Shih Tzu gains four out of five stars on the same ranking. In short, my fur babies are lovers of small people and today they were willing and able to share the love. My little mate Elliott has been asking after Rumple and Winkle since he arrived in the country. Baby brother Owen was yet to meet the fur friends so today it was time to make a house call. With a large grassy back yard, a bag of snacks, two balls and two devoted playmates the dogs were in heaven. The boys had boundless energy for throwing balls matched only by the dogs' energy for chasing and fetching. The joy on the faces of all was unmistakable. It is true that putting children and animals together is not always a desirable combination. But like so many things in life it depends on the individuals and my dogs will love anyone with a ball, a desire to play and a few Schmackos.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

June 26. Day 177. Be very quiet. We're hunting ibis

 Ibis. If there were Most Wanted posters for avian criminals the Ibis would be right up there for its thieving prowess (apart from during Spring when the swooping magpie's attacking tendencies would push that species forward). They are pretty much despised around the CBD and South Bank. And yet I find them strangely attractive, provided I'm not eating.  There's an awkward beauty about them, and big personalities. Also, probably on account of their size and the ability to fly, they really take it right up to us humans. That couldn't give a toss attitude is rather appealing.  Today my little friends Elliott and Owen were chasing Ibis.  It was an extra fun game because the ibis knew they could let the boys get very, very close before taking off. I mean, you want to make it feel like a fair fight even if it totally isn't. Perception is everything. Just ask the Australian cricketers.

Monday, June 25, 2018

June 25. Day 176. The face of my ABC

Kelly Higgins-Devine in the studio tonight

The people who you meet - former QUT journalism student Lily Nothling leaves the ABC building after a shift
Ten cents a day or $36 a year. That's what the ABC costs you, me and every Australian. That's almost exactly what I pay every time I get my toe nails polished. I know which is the better investment. (Hint, as much as I enjoy having the dead skin scraped from the soles of my feet, the pedicure loses). Yet there seems to be a growing movement  of people who consider publicly funding the national broadcaster to be on the nose.
Actually, I don't buy it. The Liberal Party Federal Council may have passed a motion to that effect but no side of government will act on it. The figures don't lie. According to to Media Watch tonight 12 million Australians will watch ABC TV this week, five million will listen to ABC Radio and this month 13 million podcasts will be downloaded. While no-one can never say never, I believe we need the ABC now more than ever. With so much media being thrown at us from all directions, a reliable credible national broadcaster is an investment in an informed public. But of course I would say that, wouldn't I? I'm a journalist and an academic - that puts me in the looney left basket not once but twice, according to popular perception. And, of course, I've been visiting the ABC Brisbane studios every week for 17 years including tonight. Yeah, I've consumed a great big dose of ABC Kool-Aid. But I've also consumed thousands of hours of ABC TV, radio and online content. I've been doing so since the days of Play School and I'm proud of that - I'd even give up pedicures for the privilege.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

June 24. Day 175. Fifty and Fabulous

To borrow from Skyhooks "All my friends are turning 50". Actually, if I'm honest, for most of us it's been there, done that. My friend Megan is the spring chicken but today we gathered at the Albert River Winery to mark an occasion 50 years in the making. And what a wonderful afternoon it was. In glorious winter sunshine we sat on the deck,  looked out over the vineyard and mountains beyond and ate, drank and were merry. Personally I find it hard to believe that 1) Megan is 50. That can not be a thing and 2) It is a decade since I made a Devo hat to wear to her 80s-inspired 40th birthday. How time flies. Oh how much has changed since then. But what hasn't changed is that Megan is a great human being and one of my best buddies. The inscription on the cake had it right "fifty and fabulous".

Saturday, June 23, 2018

June 23. Day 174. Food for thought

It was something like a scene from the 1990s Kan Tong commercials. The word had got around. Margaret was home. The fly-by mince distribution window was open for business. The birds were lining up for a feed. I'm not sure where the saying "bird brained"came from but these are smart little cookies. It took almost zero time from when Margaret arrived home for the first birds to fly in. I know kookaburras are carnivorous but I'm pretty sure the native diet of kookaburras is not Coles mince. Try telling Margaret that. She has never been swayed by that in the past and I doubt she's about to start now. Anyway, I reckon mince as about as similar to the "normal" kookaburra diet as Kan Tong is to authentic Asian cuisine.....

Friday, June 22, 2018

June 22. Day 173. It's a dog's life

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. I'm sure Charles Dickens was having a premonition about my day today when he wrote A Tale of Two Cities in 1859. The case for the negative. A wake up phone call some time after 5am from my mother in Rome. She had been robbed probably on a crowded bus. I spoke to her about cancelling credit cards and went back to finding another lung to cough up. I finished my antibiotics today. I'm still coughing, the sort of cough that Charles Dickens wrote about in such works as Dombey and Son. But then the day improved. Three weeks after being sent to hospital, I brought my neighbour Margaret home today. She was delighted. So were my dogs. And then because it was international Take Your Dogs to Work Day, Rumple and Winkle accompanied me into the city to meet Charles at his office. They took their place at the boardroom table overlooking the Story Bridge. Happy Days.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

June 21. Day 172. Barking mad

 The English language is barking mad. Seriously I'd hate to be an alien or a person learning English as second language. I was at the playground today with my little friend Elliott. He was selling me volcanoes and lava at the shop (cost three sticks and a leaf) and after that he started playing in the park. No matter how good the playground equipment park, dirt, sticks and leaves always hold a particular attraction. As he was making it rain bark, a dog just over the fence started to bark. So we started talking about bark and how the word can mean both the noise a dog makes and the stuff on a tree or processed to make ground cover. We laughed that the dog might actually be spitting out ground cover. Weird things words, especially when you get to the business of homophones. And then Elliott's mum and little brother Owen arrived. Owen doesn't have much in the way of actual words yet but is most proficient at getting his meaning across and today that was he wanted to do pretty much everything his big brother was up to, especially the bits involving bark and sticks.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

June 20. Day 171. Orange is the new black

 Yesterday was something of a dark day where dark was the colour of the room.
Today started much of the same but around lunch time I felt as though I had, perhaps, turned a corner.
I made a decision. The dogs deserved a walk and a walk they would get - as soon as I'd had a nap just to make sure.
I decided that we would take it easy which around my place means driving to the walk. The downside of living in a suburb with the words high and hill in the name is that there are high hills. The dogs would totally have been up for it but my lungs perhaps not.
So we drove to South Bank and walked across the Goodwill Bridge to the Botanic Gardens. After the dogs gave their warm regards to the birds we walked back again. The timing was perfect in terms of catching the orange setting sky over South Bank. The weather gods really laid on the colour this afternoon. It was a pleasant change after too much self-imposed time in an isolation ward.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

June 19. Day 170. When you lie down with dogs

I started the day in bed and by 7.30pm had moved about 100 metres to the couch.My mother started the day in Venice and was in Florence by lunch.
I received an email from both locations, the second one saying "Mum says slow down". Message received. Even from the other side of the world mother knows best.
Yesterday I followed the health advice of a television commercial and soldiered on with the help of drugs. Today I took the advice of an actual medical professional and stayed in bed. Also, I didn't have the energy to move plus is was cold and I like to hibernate when it's cold.
I have bronchitis. Again. Should anyone need the sound of a cough for a movie or play about someone dying of a chest infection come on round. Bring ear plugs.
My family went out. I don't blame them. I would have closed the door and painted a big red cross on it as it slammed shut. That was the tradition in London during the times of the Black Death.
So it was just the dogs and I. They stayed close - Winkle, being Winkle, had a tendency to be a bit too close. She also stole my tissues regularly. I didn't have the energy to stop her.
I didn't find any literature that being licked by a dog would help bronchitis - but nor was there anything saying it would hurt either of us so Nurses Winkle and Rumple got to do what they do best - provide unconditional love in the most trying of circumstances.

Monday, June 18, 2018

June 18. Day 169. Oh what a night

 I refuse to listen to any criticism about the quality of live performance in Brisbane.  I agree that the variety might some times be lacking but the quality is right up there and well worth celebrating.
If I'm honest, it is annoying that out southern neighbours seem to reap all the glory when the annual theatre awards The Helpmann Awards are announced. Still there is hope. Tonight I was at a Brisbane-based event where the nominees for this year's Helpmanns were announced live.
Again the bulk of the nominees were from Sydney and Melbourne. But there were some highlights for Queensland. The biggest one was Laser Beak Man, an original production by the wonderful Dead Puppet Society which was staged at La Boite as part of the Brisbane Festival last year.  And the collaboration between QPAC and the Royal Ballet on Woolf
Works and A Winter's Tale also received a lot of love.
You'd hope there would be some accolades for some of our biggest and best companies. More surprising, perhaps, was the Gold Coast Bleach festival which was names several times and the Caboolture-based CMC Rocks. It's nice to see a recognition that artistic brilliance exists outside the cities too.
But if I'm really honest the highlight of the night for me was not the list of names coming out of Sydney. No, I was most excited to see the performance of Paige McKay. Paige was one of two Queensland Conservatorium Musical Theatre  final year students to perform at the event. She's also a Fame Theatre Company alumni in the same cohort as Oliver. I feel like I've known her forever.
As I said, those who think that all the talent lies south of the border are sadly mistaken.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

June 17. Day 168. The people that you meet

When we left last night's "Christmas" celebrations we signed off with a "see you soon". Little did we know how soon. This afternoon I went to South Bank to pick up Oliver. There was music playing on The Green. Like a Pied Piper it beckoned me and I followed. Oliver sat on the River Quays lawn while I took pics of performer Sharon Brooks. The next thing I knew he was being attacked - in a good way. The look on Oliver's face was priceless. There were old friends Megan, Bernie and Jacquie and new friend Tom enjoying the Sunday Session on the Green. They were dressed for the first proper winter's day of the season. We weren't so didn't stay long but this time I'm pretty sure I know when I'll see them next. It will be in a week's time for lunch celebrating Megan's 50th. I can't wait. Hopefully she won't take me by surprise.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

June 16. Day 167. Christmas is coming

 We inducted a new member into our exclusive club tonight. Welcome Tom. Three families gather each Christmas and again for Christmas in July ... well sort of.  Busy lives being busy lives means that not everyone is around all the time. So since Christmas in July is an invented thing we moved it to June. Tom, the new significant other of Jacquie accepted this without question. He didn't even seem that puzzled when even though each family owns a very decent house, the gathering was held at my mother's place. We were attracted by the fire place. He accepted the Santa outfits I dressed the dogs in. Only once did I see a small question mark in his eyes. That was when someone mentioned that our last Christmas gathering was in February.
Okay, "normally" we do the real Christmas according to the traditional calendar. Last year some people were out of the country. We were not going to let that defeat us. We postponed. It really is better late than never. So well done Tom. We'll welcome you next Christmas - whenever that is.

Friday, June 15, 2018

June 15. Day 166. How much is that doggy in the window

 There's this episode of the Brady Bunch (series one, episode 5 to be exact) where Jan apparently has an allergy to Tiger, the dog that belonged to Mike and the boys. The dog has to go. WHAT?! That is not a thing. Surely any self respecting man would have introduced the dog to the potential new wife and kids long before it came to this. The puppy seal of approval would be required before this group could form a family. The actual story is far sadder (and even more improbable). The dog playing Tiger escaped on set during the filming of this episode and was run over and killed.  A Tiger double was brought in but the dog had no training and its lead had to be nailed to the floor.
Fortunately I don't think you would get away with that today. Dogs are people and have rights, right? Stories of animal cruelty make me so sad and so mad. I just don't get how people can abandon a family pet. Circumstances change but the love of and for a dog does not. But it happens.
Today during my rounds, I passed an RSPCA pop up adoption centre at Bulimba. I looked at the dogs and my heart broke. Those dogs deserve a home. Those dogs deserve a life something like that enjoyed by Rumple and Winkle (not quite the same. Not every home needs to be quite as neurotic). Hopefully the pop up worked and right now those pooches are curled up on a bed or a lap somewhere. It's only right.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

June 14. Day 165. The colour purple

Apparently Brisbane mourned when The Riverwalk washed away. News reports after the 2011 floods say 3000 plus people a day walk the Riverwalk from the CBD to New Farm. I was never one of them. Indeed, I hadn't actually walked the 870 metres since the $100 million project reopened. But last week, I changed that and I was hooked. So this week, I decided to do it again. It's pretty awesome. It's flat, well lit, and has places where you can wash and scale fish (if you are into that sort of thing). But for me the thing that is awesome is the uninterrupted views it offers of the Story Bridge. How did I not know this? I'm sure the designers hadn't planned it but the fence makes for an awesome tripod for those of use who always forget such things ...

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

June 13. Day 164. Talk of the Town

I love a good story. I love a good story teller. Also, I love a bit of theatrics. Who would have thought? So my interest was captivated when a little while back a friend told me about Talk of the Town. It's history (or as they put it Her-story), meets guided tour, meets drama. It's the vision of  Natalie Cowling who channels novelist Rosa Caroline Praed to lead tours through the city and inform about the life of the women who walked the streets before today. My friend and I vowed we must take a tour - she may have done so. I never put the plan into action. Today I was reminded of my failure to actually follow through when I saw a woman in distinctive period costume leading a group through the Brisbane Botanic Gardens. The group seemed to be hanging on Natalie or Rosa's every word. It was unmistakably the Talk of the Town. I asked, just to make sure. Mental note to self. Just do it

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

June 12. Day 163. Brotherly love

Babies change almost overnight. So in a year a little bundle of joy is almost unrecognisable. So technically I have met Owen before but he sure as hell doesn't remember it.
I do, I wouldn't have picked him out in a line up. He's such a little man now. But his big brother Elliott, he I know. He's bigger than he was but the smile is as cute and the insatiable curiosity is even more so. And he clearly loves his little brother. And little Owen wants to do everything his big brother does and be everything his big brother does. Such simple joy.

Monday, June 11, 2018

June 11. Day 162. Head above water ... just

Control C. Control V. This is a post I could have, would have, written at this stage every semester. It's marking season. The nostrils are just about water, or just about most of the time. Then in the late afternoon, I get sick of the imploring puppy dog eyes but mostly I'm just sick of marking so off we go for a walk. Rumple is in charge and he leads. He says University of Queensland Lakes, by which I mean he charges off in that direction with a great deal of determination. We follow. Same sh*t, different semester.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

June 10. Day 161. That's incredible

This story begins in the UK in 2004. That was when we saw The Incredibles with Oliver, then aged 6. It was such a joyous experience.  It's taken 14 years but now The Incredibles is back and today we got to see what the 2018 version looks like.
It looks and feels like the level of awesome one would expect from a Pixar movie 14 years in the making.
But more than that, it took me back. It took all of us back. It was really special to see how many teenagers and twenty somethings were lining up to see it. These are the kids whose now days whose superheroes are super-charged, super violent and the stars of big action blockbusters. But their inner child still has a soft soft for the Incredibles. It was all very sweet. 
And then I went to the Powerhouse via New Farm Park to meet friends. There were people with their own brands of superpower. These are human freaks if only because of the trust they put in others. It was incredible.