Saturday, 30 April 2011

Gilded spaghetti peacocks

Yeah, OK, The Wedding was all the 2+ billion viewers hoped for, except any who wished ill to the success of the day. It was a media event, a smoothly run circus, a piece of history (whatever your personal  views on the Royal Firm) and the bride was super-dooper (her rigout "understated"as one clever observer put it), whereas the males were in military peacock mode, more gold spaghetti than you could poke a stick at.

And Wills and Kate rode in the open carriage, so that makes it official; they're married.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Parrot, Dog, Royal Wedding looming

Right, today's concert, all singing all dancing (yeah, right) went OK except that the resident bird in its cage was more than usually disruptive. Something Will Have to Be Done. Watch out, bird: I don't know its species, some kind of parroty thing. There are screech owls, are there not? Could this be a screech parrot?

Our cast member, Sam the Dog, on the other hand, or paw, was beautifully behaved and didn't forget a single line. He wore the team and fan colours of the Australian Rules football club, the Adelaide Crows, as did Sam's human, Wendy. The hosting venue, The Elanora Home, laid on a generous and tasty afternoon tea following the concert performance.

I just heard on one news channel tonight that there are around TEN THOUSAND journalists in London to cover the coming Royal Wedding. That's a lot of wordsmiths or scribes. Are the couple in question allowed to change their minds. Umm... I guess not.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Tell me Tok Pisin isn't anything rude.

Oops, another week evaporated. I try to post twice weekly, and leave others to be diligent with more and even daily records of their interesting lives. Well, I did not keep to that frequency this week and the sole excuse worth trying out on you is that I have been bogged down in a hair-tearingly frustrating book edit for a client in that fascinating land to Australia's north. Actually, that narrows it down to "the rest of the world"- but I was meaning PNG, or Papua New Guinea, or better still Papua Niugini, nation of 800-plus languages, which I last visited in 1940. Ha! The ONLY time I visited; but I nearly went to a job there in 1971 so that counts as a half. Somewhere there's a family snap of me, knee-high to a grasshopper, in a native dugout canoe (1940, not 1971). It is not the ideal qualification for editing a book by an author whose first language is Wiru, second language is Kewabi, and third language is Tok Pisin (Pidgin).However, we are, slowly, getting there. Getting where exactly, mipela noken savvy tumas tru... dunno, mate.

Sanity returned with a spirited rehearsal today for tomorrow's afternoon concert in Stansbury which I hope to immortalize on, or in, the camcorder thingey. We shall see. The performance space is strange at times, since we sing and do other silly things - usually involving costumes - in amongst the daily activity of the staff and residents of the care-facility or nursing home, which provides both hosting and audience. You should try it some time: a challenge to aspiring thespians and vaudevilleans - indeed, good job experience for any such.

Catch you later.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Dog, Mouse, Duke, and Bean

Interesting singing rehearsal today. Sam the dog was the star. Again. We may just retire, and leave him to it as a one-dog show. He sings along, and today was clearly reading the music as well. Next week's concert in Stansbury will be video recorded, barring accidents such as tripping over tea trolleys or getting lost on the way there. Don left early today, so me and Denis practised our planned trio as a duet; the Song of the Volga  Boatpeople - wait, that can't be right - Boatmen. And did you know? -  there were women too, hauling those barges on the River Volga in 19th Century Tsarist Russia.

Gwenda said she caught another mouse. At the hardware store I asked  for a mousetrap, the newer plastic-bodied kind, and the lady said they only had them in packs of two. But, I said, I've only one mouse.

Saw The King's Speech, the movie, again when it came to our Town Hall. Great performances from the two principals (Geoffrey Rush and Colin Firth) but Helena Bonham Carter plays a worthy Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, becoming George VI's Queen, whom we knew as the late Queen Mum, and who made it to the ton-up in age. Australian Guy Pearce was a stand-out as the Prince of Wales who is then the abdicating Edward VIII and thereafter Duke of Windsor with his femme fatale the twice divorced Wallis Simpson. Not that the role was so huge, but it was amusing to recall the same actor as one of the drag queens in Priscilla Queen of the Desert. I think it's a mark of all top actors (both sexes) to perform widely varied roles.

Talking of actors, Maureen - no mean performer herself - had a harsh word for Rowan Atkinson and I can sympathize with non-lovers of the awful Mr Bean (who is modeled on French mime Jacques Tati's character Monsieur Hulot). However, Bean is not Atkinson - great collaborator with the brilliant Richard Curtis, and I invite everyone to take a look at Atkinson's beautifully disciplined and restrained role in 'Love Actually': he's the jewellery counter salesman to Alan Rickman's purchaser, with Emma Thomson as the cheated-on wife. Or the amazingly good final episode of the Blackadder series, set in the trenches of WWI. At least I know how to annoy Maureen ... just give her a Mr Bean doll, or perhaps a DVD.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

From Switzerland to the PNG Highlands

Not literally. This week I've had my head down with several small edit jobs including a quirky one from Geneva by a lady with an ?Iranian name. Her journalistic piece on yoga is for a women's magazine. Good luck to her.
The real interest for me, anyway, is a commission to edit the autobiography of a truly remarkable chap in Papua Niugini who grew up in a traditional village in the Southern Highlands. 'Mazing stuff. His tribe (he is happy to use that word) are the Wiru and their language is what's known as a linguistic isolate (like Basque in Europe) unrelated to anything else. PNG has a guesstimated 800-850 languages, world's biggest number for one country.

Monday, 11 April 2011

When is a spider not?

Best read of the day was this, thanks again BB, from the Australian Museum website. I wasn't  even aware of the Tasmanian Cave Spider... and of the fact that it is a very ancient relative of today's arachnids. It was, in effect, a spider before there were spiders. This account of the mating preparations is an eye-opener, or should that be a jaw-opener:

"Courtship and mating in the Tasmanian Cave Spider takes place from late winter to spring. The male plucks at the web and on contacting the female beats his long front legs against her, alternating with pauses or retreats - this ritualised communicating and pacifying activity may be repeated for over 5 hours. The aim is to grip the female's head in the specialised kink on the metatarsal segment of the second legs and pin her fangs apart so that mating can occur safely. The egg sacs are large (about 40 mm by 25 mm) and pear-shaped. Their structure is unusual. Within the thick, white outer silk walls, the eggs lie enclosed in a rigid, thimble-like structure, which is suspended so that it doesn't touch the outer wall. This 'thermos-like' structure may buffer the eggs against climatic changes and contaminants - the silk also seems very resistant to attack by fungi and bacteria. The female guards her egg sacs, and females living outside caves usually disguise their sacs with fragments of wet, rotting wood. Spiderlings emerge from the sacs after eight to ten months, an unusually long time, and disperse within a month. The life-span of these spiders is also long, and may prove to last several decades."
For what it's worth, these guys, even at 18cm across, are said not to be dangerous to humans, much, unless you annoy them, or are unlucky enough to shrink to their bite-size like we've seen in those movies.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Body Mind and Spirit Fair at Yorketown

Nice event in the Town Hall today, the BoMiSp Fair - is it pronounceable? - and it's on all tomorrow too (Sunday 10th, 10am - 5pm). Cost us $5 to get in, which was fair enough. Aha! A pun. Fair. Get it?

After the obligatory sticky-beaking, we chatted with various stall holders and practitioners, bought bits and pieces, and had a demo of a musical crystal bowl. Later, a snack in lieu of lunch but we got to admire the newly furbished kitchen.

Jan Haugen the main organizer had to be absent after knee surgery, but she's making good recovery. Had a good yarn with her other Leif and we talked about his homeland Norway, whither they are headed in four weeks' time. We checked out practitioners Katie (psychometry) and Nigel (psychic reading) and decided they were fair dinkum. Other folk were offering Reiki and Seichim and Tarot and... stuff.

A good time was had by all, but the event was a little light on numbers. They hope for more through the doors tomorrow. I give it a thumbs up, even if it's not your usual cup of tea. Grab a polished stone of moss agate or black obsidian, or jewellery made from "metal clay" from its designer Vickie Simons. Hey, I can't list everyone! They came from far-off places such as Ardrossan, and Laura and even Modbury. Wow.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Port Rickaby launching. Fish, run for your life.

As I finished my beach walk at Port Rickaby yesterday, these fishhunting optimists were launching their runabout just north of the jetty - tractor and trailer, that's the way it's done.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Lumpers and lighters and a codger

Superb weather hereabouts, and an Indian summer warm burst of 30C is forecast for coming days, just when we thought autumn was turning to winter - despite the fact that the calendar announced autumn's official arrival only a week ago. The clocks went  back an hour at the weekend and as a result I am waking "too early" - actually at the same time but the clock says it is 5.30am not 6.30. Tricked by this cunning illusion today, I set off to Port Rickaby, a 35 minute drive, and walked on the beach north of the jetty - until rocks and seaweed blocked the walk in that direction. Back near the action, that is, the caravan park and the shop, I climbed the timber steps to the municipal lookout among the dunes. It is called Codger's Lookout, named for the late Darcy Russell, nicknamed Codger or "the mayor" of Rickaby, said to have been "the last of the lumpers". Lumpers were the manual loaders and unloaders of the wheat bags as cargo for the ketches which plied Peninsula coasts, notably from the 1920s to the '40s, but also through the 'fifties at some jetties, and a very few visits were occurring even into the early 'sixties, for example at Edithburgh.

In their heyday the ketches, 2-masted sailing vessels, either took general cargo from port to port in these waters, or else they "lightered" the grain bags for re-loading to the great windjammers anchored off Port Victoria. Those vessels, some over 4000 tons like the Copenhagen (KĂžbenhavn), sailed at speed to the other side of the planet loaded with grain cargo. The Copenhagen (so Wikipedia tells us) was built in Leith near Edinburgh, Scotland, launched in 1921, and made nine successful global circumnavigations, but was lost with all hands in January 1929 en route from Buenos Aires to Australia. She functioned moreover as a sail training vessel for Denmark. The "hands lost" included 45 young sea cadets. The ship even had radio, but no distress signal was received and the Copenhagen's vanishing remains one of the sea's many mysteries. More is known today about the frequency of "freak waves" which can (and seemingly do) overwhelm even large craft in mid-ocean.

My beach walk was a sunny start to the day, and soon afterwards we rehearsed a concert program at Parson's Beach (thanks Maureen) and in the afternoon performed it to a "full house" at a Minlaton nursing home. OK, so it's not the Sydney Opera House!

Monday, 4 April 2011

The End of Summer

Yesterday the clocks went back an hour. Goodbye Australian Central Summer Time. This morning I can start to crawl back to a normal blur,  time-wise, after yesterday's abnormal yet pleasant blur, when I trimmed the second of the two jade bushes flanking the steps to the front verandah. It had looked very bizarre for 24 hours with just the one clipped.

Then I made an expedition to the garden nursery and bought three packets of daffodil bulbs and three bags of compost from Wayne, and I helped him by carrying the daffodil bulbs to the car.

I walked for three quarters of an hour at Flaherty's Beach, conscious of being exerciseless for most of the week.

Undoubtedly the day's highlight was Denis's birthday afternoon tea party which somehow extended until  8pm. He has yet to demonstrate mastery of the truck back flip as shown (to make it easy for him) in the YouTube clip on the last blog here. What's the problem, eh? My wife Daphne did it in a Ford Anglia on a snowy road in Norway. This was before we met, but her account of the event suggested it was quite possibly the original flip which gave the idea to the truck guy.

The day continued - also celebrating Isobel and Denis's anniversary - with inside information revealing the formula for their conspicuously successful marriage: "She gives the orders, and I obey," explains Denis. "But I always get the last word. I say 'Yes, dear.'" Fair enough.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, Lois and Gwenda shared secret girl business: let the guys think it was their idea... provided it's what you planned in the first place. Other stuff like that, 'way over my head.

Believe it or not, we sang also (good, I won't need to go to tomorrow's weekly rehearsal) and even listened to tapes of performances from the early '90s. Before my time. Who are these Gilbert and Sullivan characters??  Have I met them? Do they do Justin Bieber numbers?

The drive home across the Peesey was noteworthy for the number of mice crossing the road in the dark... without looking both ways.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Back flip truck

Hi, and happy birthday Denis. Here's one for you. Try it at home.