SOME MEMOIRS -- by John Ray
Some occasional personal notes from a quiet life...
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A smile not as good as the famous smile of Antonia Staats but of that ilk. In my late 50s. Not so good now
What am I? I am the tiniest spark in the great conflagration that is life on earth
I have made a few mistakes in my life but it has nonetheless been a pretty happy life
Some people want to live as long as possible. I want to enjoy my life as much as possible.
MOTTO: As Oscar Wilde may have said: "Life is too important to be taken seriously". But the Hagakure had the idea too: "Matters of great concern should be treated lightly"
7 September, 2023
Zoe is in Ephesus
The apostle Paul once write a lettter to the Christians of Ephesus. It is mostly ruins these days
I had my last PET scan today to see exactly where and what the cancers in me are. I will learn tomorrow afternoon if the results indicate a future for me
I celebrated completion of my scans with an apple Danish and a fresh orange juice. Both were delish
3 September, 2023
A lady in a hat
I have never seen her in a hat before as she has very tanned skin that resists sunburn but she is obviously spending a lot of time at the beach in Turkey so it is a wise precaution
2 September, 2023
Zoe in enjoying her holiday to Turkey's Antalya coast in Southern Turkey. It is a resort are and the beaches are very crowded
31 August, 2023
A shortened horizon
Because my health indicators are all good, I had seen myself as having maybe 10 more years of life. Cancer can however get anyone at any age and it has me firmly in its grip at the moment. I am in no great pain and discomfort so far but my future is now looking short. Modern medicine might save me yet but I have to be prepared for an end fairly soon otherwise.
There is little I can do to deal with a shortened future but I have made some preparations. In particular I have discussed with Joe the future of my large collection of old games computers. They have sentimental value to me and it turns out that they are of a similar value to Joe. So we have agreed that we will gradually transfer them to his place, where he expects to have a room devoted to them. 4 of my old computers are Amiga 500s so I sometimes think we should start an Amiga appreciation society.
Now that my innings is coming to an end, I do think a little about how well I have used the 80 years I have had. And I think I have used those years pretty well. I am satisfied with the life I have lived. One particular source of satisfaction is that I have achieved well in two quite different fields: Business and academe. Those two normally never meet. The people involved tend to despise one another in fact.
But I did very well in academe -- having over 200 papers published in the academic journals over a 20 year period. And a bonus is that even papers I wrote back in the 70s are still widely read. See http://jonjayray.com/citedjr.html
And I did well enough in business to finance both a comfortable later life and allow myself to give extensively to charitable causes. I retired when I was 39 so I have had over 40 years living on my business proceeds.
But I judge my life neither by my academic nor by my business activities. I think that I have had a good life because of the relationships I have had with women. I have had many pleasing relationships with many women and despite that have no angry women in my past. I regard the 4 marriages I have had as good marriages and the divorces have all been with no acrimony. So that is why I see my 80 years as well-used. I will shuffle off into the night with no major regrets.
One of my girlfriends once said to me: "John, there will be a lot of weeping women at your funeral". I will make sure she gets an invitation
24 August, 2023
I had a CT scan on Tuesday. Yesterday I got the result. I am riddled with cancer. So that explains my very low energy levels in recent weeks. I was of course pretty depressed to get that news but Joe was very helpful that night. He cancelled an appointment and came over to have dinner with me -- at Hungry Jacks, which I like. That did lift my spirits a bit.
And today I have heard from my oncologist. He thinks my main problem is a recurrence of my prostate cancer, which means that immunotherapy is not available for it. But he thinks that radiation could fix me. So now I go for a battery of further tests to see exactly what is going on.
I nearly died from stomach cancer a couple of years ago but recovered after a course of immunontherapy so I am in a sense already in extra time. And in that "extra" time I have got to know both Zoe and Anna, which I am pleased about. Making new friendships in old age is rare. So I hope I will survive my present crisis to enjoy all my friendships more
21 August, 2023
My mother was a rather strange woman unhappy in her marriage. I probably get some strangeness from her. The wonderful woman in my longest-lasting marriage often called me "Mr Difficult".
I would have said that my mother was autistic except that she was a chatterbox, two things that are normally opposite
But I have always said that she gave ne a very permissive and indulgent childhood, which I of course greatly liked. And something comes to mind that shows how indulgent to me she was. Whatever faults she had, I certainly had a loving mother
So what has inspired this reflection? WeetBix. Yes. Weetbix. WeetBix are a very common breakfast cereal in Australia but they are very dry out of the packet. You normally eat them with milk. I still like and eat them on occasions.
But their dryness means that you have to let them stand in the milk for a minute or two before you can eat them. You have to sit in front of your bowl for a minute or two waiting for the milk to soak in. It's only a very small call on your patience.
But my mother spared me even that call on my patience. As soon as she put the bix down in front of me, she would pour hot water on them to soften them immediately so I could eat them immediately. No patience required. As kid, I thought that was normal. But as an adult, I manage to wait a minute or two and just have them with milk, no hot water. She also used always to spinkle sugar on them for me, but these days I just enjoy the taste of the bik by itself.
So I see all that as a vivid sign of how much I was loved. I am very lucky to have had such a start in life. Not all do. And with only a few breaks, my life since has been a cruise. Though my health does sometimes get to me now that I am 80.
19 August, 2023
The Bhagavad Gita
I have always respected India and Indians so I thought that is was time to read something of their great holy book, written around 200BC.
I have just read the first two chapters and am very impressed. Its thoughts resonate with me. Chapter 1 sets out very vividly the folly of war. Even though I am a former member of the Australian army, war has always seemed a horror to me: So many deaths of so many good men for so little gain. I am at the moment distressed by the war in Ukraine. I have Russian and Ukrainian friends so Russian and Ukrainian deaths are horrible thoughts to me. Why can we not put that ongoing disaster to a stop? And the Hindu prince (Arjuna) in the Gita expresses grief at war very vividly. He sets out the folly of war better than I could do. He sounds very modern to me.
I am no pacifist. I accept that if we are attacked, we have to fight back. But the Bhagavad Gita questions the very essence of that. It asks what is the benefit of any attack? Nothing is worth it. The Hindu prince asks should we simply refuse to fight. Is pacifism better?
I have some sympathy for that view. Would rule by Hitler be so bad? Germans loved him. Was it worth all the bloodshed to defeat him? Hitler did after all initially just want to banish all the Jews to Palestine (The Haavara Agreement) but the British and others blocked that. Those are the sorts of doubt that the Hindu prince had in chapter 1 of the Gita. And a couple of hundred years later Jesus said much the same: "Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matthew 5:38). That scripture has worried me since I was 14 and is why I was a pacifist in my teens
But the Gita said it first and said it much more vividly.
And in chapter 2 the Gita goes on to answer the pacifist doubts. It says your soul is indestructible so what you do in war can cause no serious harm. I don't believe in God or souls so that is no help to me. We atheists are stuck with reality.
I will read on
Both Zoe and Anna are doggie ladies. They both think their best friends are dogs
Anna is at present doing dog minding. After her shifts at the hospital she goes to an address where the owners are on holiday and looks after their dogs.
Below is a picture of her with her current charges
Last time we had dinner together I asked her what she was most looking forward to in her future. Her reply: The dogs
Zoe also sent a picture of her current companion -- below
1 August, 2023
Cowley beach, a small memoir
Now that I am very old, I am inclined to note changes I have seen
At one stage, I am not sure when, but it was before I was of school age, the family moved and lived in a cane-cutter's barracks at Cowley Beach, not far from Innisfail
Barracks were provided by farmers to house the itinerant cane-cutters who came North for the crushing season. I gather that in the "off" season they were usually let out free to locals whom the farmer knew. It helped keep them maintained. (I myself later lived for a time in barracks free of charge -- when I was about 17).
So there my mother had a wood (burning) stove and no electricity. I remember the carbide lamps and hurricane lamps we used for lighting at night. Carbide (acetylene ) lamps gave a quite bright light.
The walls of the barracks were of corrugated iron and I seem to recollect drinking brackish water there so maybe we relied on a well for water.
I am pretty sure we had a kerosene fridge there that didn't work very well and I remember my mother using a Coolgardie safe and water bag.
Since then I have always liked the design of cane barracks -- a big kitchen/dining room at one end and a straight line of bedrooms running off it and accessed from a verandah. Most post-cyclone houses in Darwin have a similar design -- though they are high-set (elevated).
Some good advice
I was having breakfast with "Anna" this morning when I mentioned that I had been having a fair bit of stomach upset lately. She asked me if I was still taking vitamin D supplements and I told her I was. She said that the vitamin D was probably the cause of my stomach upsets. She had herself had some experience of it apparently. I had already suspected a correlation between taking the supplements and my troubled stomach so I am convinced that she was right. As it happens, I took none last night and was able to enjoy my breakfast with a quiet stomach
Most old ladies seem to be on mega-doses of Vitamin D without any problems so why I had problems is a bit of a mystery. It turns out that stomach upset is a known side-effect of vitamin D supplementation but normally in response to high doses only. I must be unusually sensitive to it -- maybe because I am not an old lady
Breakfast with "Anna"
28 July, 2023
On a Srbian farm
26 July, 2023
Having coffee at the grand Hotel Moskva in Belgrade
That iced cofee is a weakness
24 July, 2023
It's flower time in Srbia
Another pic from a Srbian summer
Zoe with friend Verica
22 July, 2023
Anne sent me abunch of native flowers for my 80th. Thanks to a bungling florist, they arrived just today
17 July, 2023
Zoe has departed for her holiday in her native Srbia
Where she lives in Redbank Plains is a long way from the airport, which would make a taxi trip to the airport prohibitive. So I offered to pick her up from home early in the day so she could go from my place for her late night flight with Qatar airways. My place is fairly central. I don't like driving at night so she did take a taxi from my place to the airport
A slight complication was that I had a mid-afternoon medical appointment today. So I arranged to pick Zoe up at 1pm so I could easily meet my appointment. Zoa is very disorganized, however so it was 1:30 before we got away. As it happened, however, I had a number of holdups getting to my appointment but I arrived at exactly the appointed time. So it was fortunate that we got away when we did
Zoe accompanied me to my appointment and amused both me and the urologist by telling the uroogist that my prostate problems would all be over if I would only switch to a raw-food diet. She is incorrigible.
Qatar have a fairly generous weight allowance for luggage and Zoe made full use of it. To supplement that however she also put on three pairs of trousers and at least four jumpers -- all on top of one another. Lucky it is winter or she would have roasted. She is an experienced traveller, however so she knew what she was doing
I was aware of her exact departure time so I could imagine exactly where Zoe was when I heard a large aircraft passing overhead at that time
I will be keeping an eye on reports of plane crashes and hoping none involve Qatar. It seems to be a cut-price carrier so one hopes that maintenance is not compromised
16 July, 2023
I am 80, you know
I have recently had a b*rthday, my 80th
So I suppose it is time for me to look back a little. It has been a very happy life. Starting with my mother, many women have treated me remarkably indulgently over the years.
Life highlights? I will mention just an academic one: I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation in just 6 weeks. 3 years is normal for a Ph.D. and some candidates take longer than that. And it was an exceptional dissertation. A number of academic journal articles came out of it. Most dissertation writers are happy with one derivative article. There is a full list of my academic articles here. I did much better than most because I am a high functioning autistic. Autistics often have eerily great abilties in some field. My field has been academic writing. This is probably a very autistic biographical note
My best year? Most of my years have been good but 1968 does stand out a bit. I have written about it at length previously. Joining the regular army and gaining a Masters degree in the same year certainly makes it different. Conservatives will understand that I wore my country's uniform with pride
Children: To me, children are the meaning of life so I am very glad that I have had three stepchildren and one natural son, all of whom I adore. I am particularly pleased that all of them have prospered and none have become "black sheep". I must particularly mention my stepson Paul. He and I have had great rapport ever since I first met him when he was aged 7. We have the sort of father/son relationship that most fathers can only dream of. He not only asks my advice but sometimes he even takes it! We are both very fortunate to have found such soul-mates in one-another. I put up some thoughts about both my boys over a decade ago whch still mostly hold true
Gratitude? Thankfulness? I am partcularly grateful to all the women who have treated me kindly and tolerantly over the years -- but I am also pleased these days to have in my life the little sweetiepie whose picture I keep putting up on this blog. She is a keeper. I shouldn't call her a sweetiepie because she never stops scolding me about my my mainly old-fashioned diet -- but she means well. She is leaving tomorrow for a holiday in her native Srbia. I will miss her.
As well as that, I am grateful for the way my British ancestors and their compatriots turned wilderness into one of the most civil societies on earth. I am a 5th generation Australian who still lives in Australia and I am acutely aware of what a great privilege that is. Leftists instruct people to "check your privilege". I have checked mine and am very pleased by it
Thanks to the good society my forebears created, I have not had to work hard to create a good life for myself but their sterling example tells me that I could do so if I needed to. I have in fact spent a large part of my life being a highly paid academic. And after that I spent many years making significant money in various real estate ventures. Now I just blog.
On the day: Jenny put on a very special dinner for my b*rthday: An esoteric Indian meal called a Parsee Dhansak. I like that meal but it takes hours to prepare if you do it properly -- so I usually get it on my birthday only. I am fortunate to have had Parsee friends who introduced me to it.
The table set with a Dhansak, green chutney etc
The conversation around the dinner table mostly was about guns. Christopher is a gun collector and the legal officer of a gun club so had some unusual information to give. He noted that the police have become slow at issuing gun licences, with some applicants waiting as long as 12 months, an apparent deliberate go-slow. There are still a lot of legal gun owners in Queensland so that could become a political issue
I got a number of thoughtful presents and cards, all of which I appreciated, but the one I liked best was the message little Suzy wrote on her card to me. See below
And life is still good in my old age. I still have three fine women in my life. I have no money worries. I give half of my income to a charitable cause. I live in a big house in a good suburb that I like. My car is virtually worthless but I am still completely happy with it. What else is there?
My ambition for the future? It is to live until I am 90. That way I will live to see my social grandchildren into their teens and later life. I would love to see what becomes of them. Three of them are already displaying unusual potential in different ways
Late Sunday update: Zora has been very busy getting her house and yard ready for her holiday overseas so I saw her only briefly today between 6pm and 7pm. She brought me a birthday present in the form of two flannelette shirts. Her card included the handwritten words "You are very special to me", which I very much liked
6 July, 2023
A visit to Khalistan
Not quite. Khalistan is the Sikh dream of an independent homeland but I am very pro-Sikh so I like to acknowledge their aspirations. Libertarians are generally in favour of independence movements
Zoe had decided yesterday that she wanted a curry for lunch -- vegetarian of course. So we went to "Dudes Dhaba" at 86 Annerley Road, Woolloongabba, an Indian cafe associated with the Annerley fruit shop. It is run by a big and good-humoured Sikh. Lunch for Zoe usually starts at 4pm and it just happened that the cafe opens at 4pm so we were in luck
I walked in and asked the proprietor did he have any vegetarian curries? "Yes" he said and handed me a menu listing about 10 different vegetarian curries. It would be a rare Indian restaurant that did not offer a vegetarian curry.
Anyway I chose two curries at random. I think the Sikh guy just gave us what he thought best anyway. I normally let Zoe do the ordering in restaurants but I did not think she knew what she was doing on this occasion so over-ruled every thing she said, much to the amusement of the Sikh. Zoe took it in good part
What we got was a feast for $44.95. We had two excellent curries to share, rice and a big basket of very light Indian bread. I thought it was too much food for a lunch but we eventually got all but some of the bread down. Zoe kept saying "This is terrible" as she shovelled it down. She meant that it was terrible that she enjoyed it so much -- as it was in violation of her normal dietary restrictions.
Long live Khalistan!
1 July, 2023
A significant proposal
I made a significant proposal (NOT a marriage proposal) to my little sweetiepie recently so I thought I would put up a picture of her that we both like
27 June, 2023
A very mixed weekend
It started badly with the special lunch with Anne on Thursday ending up being not so special. It was good to see her anyway
Then on Friday morning I came down with a heavy cold so missed my appointment with Sandy, the doctor who helps with my skin problems. She is very busy so I had been waiting for that visit for about a month. Fortunately my various skin bad bits are not in urgent need of attention at the moment. I was sorry to miss my day with Zora, though. Jenny tested me on Friday to see if I had Covid but I did not. It was just a seasonal virus. There is a lot of it around at the moment
Then on Saturday morning I was due to have a farewell breakfast with Anne before she goes back on the road for her caravan trip. But I could not risk giving her my virus so had to cancel our meeting. She will not be back until October so that is a sad loss
I still had the wog on Sunday but by nightfall I was well enough to host the men's dinner I had pre-arranged. Graham came all the way from country Victoria for it so I was very glad that I could play host despite a remnant of my flu-like symptoms. In the end it all worked well.
Then on Monday I was further recovered but still coughing a lot so I had to cancel a medical specialist appointment I had been waiting for. They did not want me anywhere near them with the symptoms I had
Today, Tuesday, I am pretty well over it all and was able to have a normal day. So being knocked out for four days by a virus was bad but was actually a fast recovery for an old guy like me.
26 June, 2023
Another very successful men's dinner last night
It was particularly successful because Graham decided to battle his health limitations and join us. He had to fly up from Melbourne. I originally put on the dinners to allow us to hear from him. JPH, Chris and Joe also joined us
The conversation was as usual something of a riot. We all enjoyed comparing notes about mostly political topics. Graham as usual had some good insights to offer. Something that I found very topical was his experience of families with transgender chidren. He said that in all cases the mother was a strong and dominant personality who was either a single mother or married to a unassertive husband. There should probably be a proper study of that
Another of his insights was so original that I have written it up on one of my political blogs:
under the heading: "The rise of autism"
JPH told us a little about his recent travels in Italy and I was surprised to hear that Michaelangelo's David was roughly twice life-size.
Christopher was very knowledgeable about both history and current events and saw the present Leftist obsessions with both transgenderism and critical race theory as deliberate attempts to break down our civilization. Transgenderism is certainly an endpoint in Leftist attempts to undermine normal human relationships. Karl Marx hated the family and that lives on in today's Left.
I pointed out that critical race theory was a last ditch Leftist attempt to blame anyone but blacks for black failure. The theory demonizes whites but most whites seem unfazed by that and blacks like it so it probably nets the Left a few extra votes.
For the dinner I prepared my usual humble offerings -- savoury mince plus a mild curry. Graham provided cheese, cracker niscuits, grapes and some fruit wine. He stayed overnight and we had a simple breakfast of tea and toast before he left
June 19, 2023
A dining disaster
Anne will not be here when I have my 80th birthday so she arranged to shout me a dinner for it in advance. We arranged to go to the "Saffron" Persian restaurant at Stones corner as I particularly like the food there. So I booked a table and had the booking confirmed. We both dressed up a bit for the occasion. See below. I really liked the red blazer that Anne wore.
But when we got to the restaurant it was closed. We were well within its opening hours so it should have been open even if our booking was awry. But it was very definitely closed so we had to go elsewhere. Seeing we were at Stones corner we went to another restaurant there, the "Vietnamese Street Food" restaurant. I had been there before so knew the food was good. We had grilled pork and grilled chicken and both were good. So we ended up ok but a bit disappointed at our frustrated plans
June 19, 2023
A grapefruit tree opposite my house -- in fruit at the moment
Attractive fruit but challenging taste
17 June, 2023
A memoir of 1968
When I had completed my B.A. degree with honours in psychology from the University of Qld. at the end of 1967, I decided I needed a change of scene from Brisbane so I moved South to Sydney. Being Mr Frugality, I had a comfortable level of savings, no debts and a sky blue VW beetle -- so the transition was an unproblematic one.
I did however want a job. So I went along to the Army recruiting office. From my time in the CMF in Brisbane I was a fully qualified Sergeant in the Psychology corps so thought I might get work there. They grabbed me. An extra qualified hand was very welcome. So within days of arriving I was back in the Army!
I did not stay there for long however. I applied and was accepted into the NSW public service
I was assigned to the Dept. of Technical Education as a graduate clerk. Their graduate clerk program was however a typical bureaucratic bungle. The only work they had for me was filing, something I had done years ago as a junior clerk in the Queensland Dept. of Public Works. I was quite miffed at being given such dumb work so I refused to do it. And it was all downhill from there.
Eventually I was transferred to Head office where they gave me some slightly more interesting work. I did what was asked but there was not much of it so I had a lot of spare time on my hands. I was at the time enrolled with the M.A. program at the University of Sydney so I mostly used the spare time on academic work. The managers apparently felt unable to do anything about that.
But one morning, just after I had handed in my Master's thesis at U Syd towards the end of the year, I unintentionally slept in and arrived at work late. That was it! They had me. Lateness was something they could act on. So I was promptly fired that day. There would have been access to an appeal but I didn't bother. I knew I was going on to other things next year.
Instead I turned to someone I had worked for in Brisbane: The eccentric Harry Beanham. I sold light machinery for him in Brisbane -- new lathe gears and other new machinery. Harry also had a big stock of secondhand machinery which he had bought at auctions. Auctions were his second favourite hobby, I gather.
So when I was fired, I went and saw Harry at his Sydney business -- in case he might want me to work for him again. He did. Harry remembered how I sold lots of diehead chasers for him in Brisbane so had a high opinion of my usefulness. So he promptly put me to work preparing his secondhand stock for sale. So I got a job that did not exist until I asked for it!
So in the space of less than a year I had got 3 jobs, none of which were advertised! Lessons: Don't be late in a bureaucracy and finding a job is easy if you have usable skills and qualifications.
The Baroque Music Club
I founded The Baroque Music Club club shortly after I moved to Sydney in 1968. It was a very informal thing that consisted of Sunday afternoon meetings at somebody's place where we would drink cheap flagon wine and listen to recorded Baroque (pre 1750) music.
Denis Ryan was our most frequent host and his wife, Fay, used to put on a whopper afternoon tea to aid the deliberations.
It was a good way to meet musically-inclined single women and I did meet a few there, including one wife (Dawn) and some other sexy ladies, such as Leslie Johnson and Nola Holland. I still remember Leslie Johnson arriving there and noting at the time what an admirable bottom she had. Joy used to come to some of the meetings but I did not meet her there.
Terry French was another frequent participant at the meetings but I never got into her knickers. Like Joy, I met Terry at Mensa. She was quite attractive and I made several attempts to take her out but was always knocked back. I asked her about that some years later and she said, "You just didn't try hard enough" (!)
All that aside, however, my chief memories of the Baroque Music Club still are musical. I still feel the lonely eminence of Bach, the circular-saw-like power of the Vivaldi oboe and bassoon concerti and the elegance of Albinoni, Pescetti and Gabrielli. As far as I can remember I kept the club going until I left Sydney in 1983
At the University of Sydney
As soon as I arrived in Sydney I went along to the University of Sydney and was told that part-time students needed to take 2 or preferably 3 years to do a Masters Degree. That suited me not at all so, even though I in fact had a full-time job, I enrolled as a day student and did the M.A. in the bare minimum of one year. I just took time off my work in the Dept. of Technical Education to attend whatever lectures I had to. There weren't many lectures and tutorials and the Public Service encouraged time off for education anyway. "Further study" was greatly facilitated as a matter of general policy.
I actually got the highest marks awarded in the M.A. exams but the Psychology Department would not give me the degree with first-class honours because (I imagine) they suspected I was really part-time and didn't want to look fools. So the cowards sent me a special letter saying that I only got second class honours but would probably have done better had I taken the "normal" two years. I still have the letter somewhere.
While I was doing the M.A. I also enrolled at the University of N.S.W. as an evening student and studied economics. Economics was a major intellectual discovery for me and Economics I was probably the most valuable course I ever did (in my opinion). I did a bit of accounting too just to find out what it was like but didn't persevere with it. So that was a busy year for me: A full-time job plus a complete higher degree plus a new undergraduate subject. I enjoyed meeting the demands that placed on me. For once I had to use my time fairly efficiently.
Work and study were not my only activities, however. I also had a good time socially. I had joined Mensa not long before I left Brisbane so started going to their meetings as soon as I arrived in Sydney also. Mensa formed an important part of my social life during my entire sojourn in Sydney. As well as being highly intelligent, Mensans tend to be eccentric. This suited me as such people are more interesting and they certainly don't threaten me in any way. Social skills, however, tended to be in short supply so I ended up running Sydney Mensa for quite a few years. Organizing meetings seemed to be beyond most of them.
I particularly remember summer nights in 1968 when I was doing my M.A. and eating chicken Maryland at the Forest Lodge hotel -- in company with Michael Crowley, the wonderful Lesley Johnson and various "Sydney Push" types like David Ivison. For some reason, Shostakovich's "Second Waltz" also reminds me of those times.
Michael Crowley was a fellow psychology student at Uni Syd in 1968. Michael is a very caring man but later got into trouble over an affair with a lady aged just 15. A year later he would have been in the clear. So I hold nothing against him. He and I both had affairs with the redoubtable Mavis K. And he married an ex-girlfriend of mine, the delightful Elizabeth T.!
One lady from that time whom I remember was Isabella Schmidt-Harms. I met her at a Goethe Society function at the University of Sydney. She had the bloom of youth upon her and fitted the Scots description: "a bonny lass". She was the daughter of the West German Consul in Sydney. I took her to a musical -- Man of La Mancha, I think -- but basically did not know what to do with her. I get on easily with English and Australian women but I don't really understand German women at all. I think that German women expect German men to order them about whereas I am more used to good old Anglo-Saxon "signals" to guide behaviour. So I never asked her out again.
I felt rather foolish about that at the time. It would not really have been hard to progress matters further and if romance had developed I might well have followed her back to Germany. My German wasn't too bad at that stage and I would have been fluent within 6 months. And there is a lot of German in my personality -- Prussian punctuality etc. I am even a devotee of sausages! And a diplomat's daughter would have socially elevated contacts so I might have ended up among the movers and shakers in Germany. And Germany is a much more important place than Australia.
I saw all that at the time but deliberately opted out. I could have been a very good German -- the high culture would have suited me greatly -- but it was a lot easier to be a relaxed Australian. I was lazy and unambitious. Still am. So that was a turning point -- a road not taken.
But I did contemplate becoming a German -- a Prussian even. The great marker of the Prussian is precise punctuality. And I have that. And I would certainly have been happy to wear a Pickelhaube, long gone though that now is. And I am in fact a former army man anyway. Prussians are particularly known as soldiers -- not that I was a good one.
And Germany's rich cultural life would have suited me down to the ground.
Shortly after I arrived in Sydney I ran into Joyce Hooper -- while walking down George St -- whom I had briefly taken out in Brisbane (I met her at the Folk Centre).
We soon started living together (in Rozelle). As Joyce looked great (big firm breasts, slim waist, creamy skin, freckled face, brown eyes, about 5'6" tall and a mop of dark red hair) and shared my musical interests, I was pretty pleased with things.
We lived together in a flat at Rozelle for a while. Joyce is an enormously critical woman, both of herself and everyone else so we ended up arguing enough to split up. I was disappointed at the breakup but I don't know that I was really upset. It was just very hard to stay on the right side of Joyce and I felt confident that I could do better than such a difficult relationship. I was still working for Harry Beanham when we split up
A definite lady that I met whilst I was at Uni Syd was Leslie Johnson. Lesley was from a Communist family, though she was more into philosophy than politics. When I was dating Lesley, she had a beauteous sister who was being dated by Mark Aarons, son of Laurie Aarons, boss of the Communist Party of Australia. Mark had the blonde and I had the brainy sister
Lesley was 5'10" and a very nice person indeed. She was very slim, elegant, well-spoken and poised and had a very sexy big bottom. She had very long auburn hair which she would only ever let down when getting into bed.
She was a gentle, thoughtful person but with a good sense of humour. She had done very well in Philosophy III (topped the year, I think) at the University of Sydney, which is a major intellectual achievement. We got on very well intellectually but we also did very well in bed together.
Her high level of education caused her to appreciate my high cultural level -- e.g. my desire and ability to make apposite quotations from Goethe, Chaucer etc. She was so thrilled to find a man who was both up to the highest intellectual standards and yet not a nerd that our eventual breakup was particularly hard for her.
I remember sitting on a bench with her overlooking the Lane Cove river on a calm moonlit night. An appropriate poem by Goethe came into mind -- Meeresstille -- so I recited it (in German) right down to "reget keine Welle sich". I suspect that I did it rather theatrically but it elicited great approval anyway.
A curious thing about her was that she was urged to take Philosophy honours but felt that she should not because it would alienate her from men. (At that time she just wanted to start a family). She was probably right. She therefore much appreciated it that I also had also done a fair bit of Philos. (Philos. I at Uni Qld and "General Psychology" as part of my M.A. at the University of Sydney). So we had a lot in commen and should have stayed together. We did not. Mainly because I had a wandering eye at that time. If you cannot have a wandering eye in your mid-20s, when can you? It would have been a lovely calm life if I had stayed with her, though.
I was living by myself in a flat at Balmain at the time I was seeing Leslie. Her family were very permissive. Her younger sister used to have her boyfriend (Mark Aarons, son of the Australian Communist party boss and later party boss himself) sleep with her overnight at the parental home. I think the parents were fairly academic. I dined with them once or twice and I remember that they used to have wine with dinner -- still fairly unusual at that time.
Despite the permissiveness both girls were far from promiscuous. Leslie had slept with only a few blokes before me. She was quite choosy, actually. Most of my woman-friends have been. It is probably the main reason I have never got any V.D. other than the ubiquitous wart virus and thrush.
She did eventually became an academic and I still see the occasional article by her in the journals. I think that she eventually made her career as an Educationist but she also seems to have managed to become a Pro Vice Chancellor at the University of Technology, Sydney! She really was an extraordinarily fine woman.
Nola Holland is someone I kept in touch with for a long time. I met her through the Baroque music group. She originally came from Dubbo and her maiden name was Boyle but she greatly disliked the bog-Irish image that her family name gave her so she used the surname of her first husband (John Holland) for the rest of her life, even though they were together for about a year only. They married while she was a teenager. I seem to recollect.
Nola is about 5'3" tall, has blue eyes and brown-to-red hair. She also has a very plausible tongue but I can usually see through her machinations despite that.
Nola is a very sophisticated person in general and has had a very large number of sexual partners -- most of whom have been very well-off. So she was "slumming it" to be with me.
Nola and I were together in the early stages of my stay with John Henninhgham and Alf Croucher in a terrace house at Wentworth Rd., Glebe. An incident I remember from that time was when Henningham, Croucher and I were about to take out some insurance. The salesman, George Serhan, was of Lebanese origin and a real bull-artist. We rather liked that side of him. We thought it an art-form and quite amusing (He even had a chauffeur!) Nola was there, however, and also detected the insincerity. Did she get up him! She really gave poor old George a tongue-lashing. We almost had to pull her off him. It is lucky I am so exceptionally blunt and straight-forward or else I would never have got on with Nola.
I remember Nola and I spending one Xmas day together during that time. We got on my motorbike (a little Suzuki. I think I had both a motorbike and a car at that time) and rode up to Galston Gorge. Nola loves motorbikes. We had a picnic lunch and we made love in the bush. I remember noticing at that time that her pubic hair had a reddish tinge to it.
On the way back we fell off the motorbike, which Nola scolded me about for a long time. We both had some fairly painful but really minor injuries from it.
Nola is your original wild Irishwoman (though Australian-born) whom most men cannot handle at all. She just manipulates them. We had a pretty intense relationship for a brief period soon after we met but soon realized that we were both too headstrong to live together.
Nola is a great traveller. She seems to have at least 4 holidays a year: A sensation-seeker. She is about the same age as I.
She told me that once she was at a fancy dinner party with her Greek barrister boyfriend (John Gleeson) when people started discussing who their best friend was. When they asked Nola who was her best friend she said: "My vibrator". Typical. She finds it hard to be tactful for five minutes.
I think Nola and I got on well because we both have very down-to-earth attitudes and because neither of us is much restrained by convention. Her blunt utterances would offend a lot of people but I just find them fun -- as they are intended to be. She is full of fun generally.
11 June, 2023
A recollection from childhood
Some time in my childhood, maybe when I was about ten (i.e. 1953) I was given the book "The magic of Matt" to read. I think it was a gift. It really amused me and I re-read it from time to time. I think it was a new book that had just become available
It was set in Jamaica (where the author had lived) and consisted of stories about a young Jamaican boy ("Matt") who had a habit of outsmarting the adults in his environment.
It would all be politically incorrect these days as the black adults in the stories were very stereotyped. And the book does now seem to have been forgotten: Which is sad considering the entertainment it can give. The only mention of it that I can find on the net is:
"Between 1934 and 1950, [Alan] Hyder published around 130 short stories in the London newspaper The Evening News. Many of these stories are about a ten-year old Jamaican boy named Matthias Nehemiah Martingue but called Matt, and twenty-six stories were collected in Matt (London: Quality Press, 1944). A further fifty stories were collected in The Magic of Matt (London: P.R. Gawthorn, 1950), which includes seventeen rather crude illustrations by the author. The dust-wrapper blurb notes the ingredients of the stories are "humour and pathos, thrills and adventures, fantasy and romance, with a slight salting of horror." Jack Adrian characterized Matt as "lively, mischievous, and irrepressible" and his stories as "knockabout tales in which Matt either gets the better of fat constable Mermian, or gets whupped by his (equally fat) Mammy."
Some wicked person should acquire a copy and put it online. I no longer have it. My mother (now deceased) threw out all my books after I left home -- to my great irritation.
30 May, 2023
Another b*rthday celebration
I did get to see Jenny on her actual b*rthday. We had breakfast together at Buranda. I celebrated by having Calamari. I had already given her some presents but I kept a couple for the actual day -- both gluten-free.
27 May, 2023
Serbia's groovy grannies
My Serbian companion is very good looking for her age -- in the granny age cohort. So I thought I might mention another Serbian lady in that cohort. Behold Vesna Pesic -- the book editor, not the politician. How does she stay so youthful looking? I guess gym and care with diet would be involved but good genes are probably the main thing
See more of her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pesic.sinovi
UPDATE: Another picture of her with one of the authors for her nationalist publishing house. How can she look so good when she is not all that younger than I am?
26 May, 2023
A b*rthday dinner
In honour of Jenny's forthcoming b*rthday, I took her and Joe to our local Persian restaurant last night, the Saffron. Their food is as exceptional as their prices so it is worth it. Nobody grills meat as well as Persians do. It's all in the marinade, I suspect
They seem to be Zoroastrian Persians as I saw there women with no head coverings and men drinking wine. Definitely not Muslim. And they had reproductions from the old Persian empire on their walls -- which was Zoroastrian. I have Zoroastrian friends and think that Zoroastrianism makes rather more sense than Christianity
They have had the same young receptionist at that restaurant for some years and she has always amused me. She has a large bosom that was always very much in evidence. But last night the bosom seemed to be missing. I think it was still there but modestly covered. Maybe she has now found a bloke.
I ordered the mixed plate for Joe and me and Jenny found some gluten-free things to order. Mainly kebabs. It was a great night for food
Jenny will be having her actual b*rthday dinner with Jeff, her oldest friend, who has always been very good to her and who is coming down from Northern parts just for the occasion
It's a while since I put up a picture of myself so I got Jenny to take one of me this morning. It came out better than I expected, all things considered
25 May, 2023
A wonderful tree
Cumquat trees are normally encountered as shrubs. But the cumquat tree in front of my place has never heard of that. I am guessing that it is about 20' high -- and is in fruit at the moment. The brilliant yellow fruit make a good picture. And the fruit makes the best marmalade ever
There is a close-up of it here Wait for it
8 May, 2023
Brisbane City Council does a cleanup in my suburb once a year. This year it was in late April. It consists of an invitation from the council for people to put outside their houses anything they do not want. The council will then collect and dispose of it. I enjoy those occasions. Like many others, I drive around looking at what everyone has put out in case someone has thrown something out that still seems usable to me. And I usually do find something.
This year I was particularly on the lookout for wooden chairs where the seat is a single deal of wood. Only very big trees can give rise to deals big enough for that so they are now something of a rarity. And about a week ago, the inhabitant of an old house near me had thrown out SIX such chairs. They needed a cleanup but nothing more. I am now using four of them
And yesterday Zoe got into the act. A neighbouring suburb was having a cleanup so she drove us around it looking for treasures. And one thing she found was remarkably good: A pushbike in near new condition. It even had derailleur gears. She found a few other things as well. So she was pretty pleased with her expedition. At one point we got caught in a hailstorm but it was short-lived
A dinner at Zambreros also enlivened the day
3 May, 2023
A pleasant moment in time
It is very rare for any of our moments to inspire a record of them. Wordsworth went for a walk one day and saw some daffodils that he liked. He put that small happening into a poem and people have been reading about it ever since. So a moment in time can be worth recording.
I am no poet and have no thought that any of my moments will be of significance to others. But I do like to record some moments that will form happy recollections. There was such a moment this afternoon
I was expecting Zoe for her usual Wednesday visit. I was missing her and wishing she would arrive soon. And waiting for her was rather distracting. I could not concentrate on anything very serious. I expected her at her usual time between 3 and 4pm so at 2pm I distracted myself by going down into my garage to reorganize a big set of chairs I had acquired just days before. I was engrossed in that when I got a surprise. A voice came from the open garage doorway behind me. It asked, "what are you doing"?
It was not an utterance of any profundity but to me it was a very sweet voice I heard. Zoe had arrived early: A very pleasant surprise. That shock of hearing an unexpected sweet voice is one I would like to remember. I make no claim that it was a sweet voice in any objective sense but it was a sweet voice to me. I was very happy to hear it
We went on to have a late lunch at Nando's followed by a shopping trip to Coco's. We spent the rest of the afternoon together until about 6pm
25 April, 2023
Spring time in Cairns North Queensland 1961. I lived there at that time but left soon afterward. I was 18
21 April, 2023
I moved from London to Sydney for a man I had spent six days with – of course it was a mistake
A British woman has written a rather long article under the above heading. I reproduce below just two paragraphs from it that speak to me.
What struck me about the first paragraph was her assertion that highly incompatible people can have a good relationship. That is my situation too so I was pleased to see that I am not alone.
I have remarked on several occasions about the large incompatibilities between Zoe and myself but we nonetheless get a lot out of our times together. We are well into our second year together and are still firmly attached despite some ups and downs. About an hour ago she went home from my place in a very jolly and cheerful mood.
Regarding the second paragraph below, I too had a great time during my 15 years in Sydney -- with many unforgettable memories. And I too made some wrong turnings at that time that I learned from and do not regret -- including two marriages
And I once had in my life a lady who did as the lady below did -- a rather aspirational lady whom I met during my Sabbatical in England who followed me back to Australia at the end of my Sabbatical with hopes of forming a lasting relationship with me. And that lady was eventually as disappointed as the lady writing below. She ended up with a very supportive partner anyway
A lot has happened over the course of the seven and a half years I’ve lived in Australia. More heartaches and more ill-fated relationships, though I’ve now been with my boyfriend for just over a year, and he is caring, honest, kind and funny in ways that others weren’t. My opposite in every way imaginable, but a man who feels like home nonetheless. He moved in two months after we met on the street in Bondi – proving, I suppose, that when it comes to romance and spontaneity, old habits die hard.
Sydney has shown me some of the best times of my life, and some of the most brutal. Now, looking back – with the benefit of distance and hindsight – I’m grateful for each heartbreak, each time I turned left instead of right; each crooked line and how they shaped me. I would not have missed this experience for anything.
19 April, 2023
We drove to Scarborough so that Zoe could have a swim from the beach there. But it was cold and windy when we arrived and Zoe does not like the cold so she did not go in. So all we did there was have a meal of fish, chips and salad at a local fish shop.
She has been in a rather low mood lately so I originally suggested the outing in the belief that it would cheer her up. That did seem to happen so the trip was not wasted
16 April, 2023
Hauser has had a haircut
Croatian cellist Stjepan Hauser has brought new attention to the cello as a solo or nearly solo instrument. He is undoubtedly the world's best known cellist today. He has performed innumerable times in innumerable places, playing just about anything that can be played on the cello.
I have always found his more popular performances amusing, partly because of his wild hair. So it is rather amazing that he has had a haircut recently that makes him almost unrecognizable. I reproduce below two pieces, a "hairy" one with the very glamourous Caroline Campbell and a more recent one.
I also add a performance that is probably the most amusing one of all -- a duet with Lola Astanova, a very sexy Russian lady pianist
I have some more extensive comments on the performances here. The gorgeous Caroline Campbell is a married lady these days: Married to a sportsman, not a musician!
15 April, 2023
Paul & family fly out and back to Scotland tomorrow so Jenny organized a big lunchtime sendoff today for them
All the rellies were there so the kids had all 4 grandparents present. Jenny had ordered in pizza to cope with the crowd. She got me my lunch like the good wife she is. I talked mainly with Jenny and Paul.
Star of the occasion was young Liam -- of about 18 months old. He is the son of Timmy and Rachel.
Earlier that morning I had Matthew at my place for a wrapup of the poems I have been trying to teach him. He has got his Latin poem down pat and is pretty good with Middle English. I also put on some bits of good music for him, including "Jerusalem". I explained the British Israel beliefs that lie behind that poem
UPDATE: I did not go to the airport for the actual departure. It was a Sunday so I had my normal morning meeting with Joe and my normal Sunday afternoon meeting with Zoe
12 April, 2023
Another trip to Redcliffe and Scarborough
Zoe and I first went to Redcliffe, which was hugely busy, mostly with families. We ordered mugs of coffee from a coffee bar and Zoe provided food for lunch -- chocolate muffins and Serbian corn bread. I had just a muffin, which contributed to my small weight loss that day
Then we went to Scarborough where Zoe had a good swim and did some suntanning. I just sat in the shade and read my book
We both arrived home in a good mood
9 April, 2023
A busy Easter weekend
Zoe came over on Good Friday between 3pm and 8pm. There was a big storm at one time, which it was good to experience home dry and snuggled up
On Saturday morning I spent some time with Matthew getting him to learn some poems in German (die Lorelei) and Middle English (Chaucer). I also put on some good arias from Italian Opera for him
That evening was a big family dinner downstairs at Jenny's place. Jenny had an attack of Covid so stayed upstairs. Susan catered admirably, including a 3-part dessert. The kids were very amusing, particularly a certain little extravert
Now on Easter Sunday, I have just got back from a trip to Redcliffe and Scarborough with Zoe driving. We left my place at about 9:30am and got back at about 4:30pm. In a rare exhibition of tact, I wore the very colourful shirt that Zoe bought me in Laos.
Just about everything was closed up at Redcliffe but we got a couple of reasonable lunches at the Redcliffe Tavern: Calamari for me and fish n chips for Zoe. She also ordered some pumpkin soup to share, which was surprisingly good. I always leave ordering to her, as she is very particular about what she orders. I just hand her my card and sit down.
At Redcliffe Tavern in my colourful shirt
Afterwards Zoe drove around a fair bit looking at various places in the general area. I had not realized that Deception Bay actually is a bay with a beach of sorts. I knew it only as a reputedly low income suburb.
Eventually, we got to Scarborough, which was absolutely thronged with Easter visitors, but, with her usual amazing luck, Zoe got a parking spot just a short walk from the beach. She got in a good swim, her aim for the trip. I managed a small paddle but mostly sat in the shade and read my book of didactic short stories
One of the stories I read was How Much Land Does a Man Need? by Leo Tolstoy. It is a brilliant and very moral example of a short story
The day wore me out a bit so I lay down for a rest as soon as we got home. A little warm body clamped on to me not long after I lay down so I enjoyed my rest.
And tomorrow morning (Mon.) I see Joe for brekky, in lieu of our usual Sunday
Easter Monday update: I had quite a long talk with Joe this morning -- talking mainly about Trump, China and Zoe. I probably told him more about my little sweetheart than he really wished to hear.
And Jenny was recovered enough from her bout of Covid to join me tonight for dinner, together with Paul. We went to the Burmese. It was one of the few places open but we often go there anyway. So my Monday was pretty good too
3 April, 2023
Some pix from Zoe's recent trip to Laos via Kuala Kumpur and Bangkok
At the foot of the Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur
With a backdrop of the mountains in Laos
In Bangkok on the way home
2 April, 2023
I had my surgery on Friday. After an hours-long wait in Greenslopes hospital, I was ushered into theatre at about 7:30pm. The surgeon took out the skin lesion on my leg under a local as I requested. It was sore that night and the next day but was pretty right by Sunday morning.
Which is a good thing as I had a lot scheduled for today (Sunday). I breakfasted with Joe at the pie shop as usual and from about 2pm to 4pm spent time with Zora. We went to Nando's for lunch but that was all of note. We have had some stresses lately but were back on good terms today
Then tonight I put on one of my men's dinners for Joe, Chris, Paul and Matthew. Matthew is only 11 but did did participate in the conversations to some extent. We mainly discussed Scottish matters
30 March, 2023
On Monday 27th I had a farewell breakfast with Von and Jenny in preparation for Von flying home to NZ early the next morning.
I wasn't feeling too bright during the breakfast. I felt very washed out and fuzzy-headed. So I went to bed shortly after I got home. I ended up sleeping most of the day. But at 10pm I woke up feeling back to normal. There was flu about so I think I had it. But I tend to get over flu after just a good sleep so I think that is what happened. I am very lucky that way.
And today I was given an appointment with a surgeon to get a rather nasty looking skin cancer cut out of my leg. The appointment is for tomorrow (Friday) afternoon so I will probably stay in bed for the rest of the day to give the excision time to heal. It will be a rather large one
22 March, 2023
A family reunion
Jenny's daughter Yvonne and son Paul are back in Brisbane on holiday for a short while. Paul's wife Susan, son Matthew and daughters Elise and Primrose are also here. Jenny and I have been missing them all badly so it is wonderful to see them all again.
They arrived on Saturday morning so Jenny put on a breakfast for everyone, including Susan's famiy. It amused me a little to see both Susan's mother and stepmother together on the occasion. Both are lively ladies. Paul sat with me for most of the time as we have always enjoyed discussions about what constitutes wise behaviour. After a while, Ken also joined in, with Paul immediately disagreeing with him, as is their custom. Religion and morality was the main topic
Some pix from the occasion.
Paul's gorgeous wife Susan
My decrepit self flanked by two lovely ladies
Elise is very cuddly
Primrose is very feminine too
Then that night Jenny put on a smaller gathering for closer relatives, featuring a spaghetti dinner. I managed to get most of the spaghetti down but my clumsiness saw some of it end up elsewhere, to my embarrassment. I really tried to keep it all on track but it was not to be. Joe told us all a lot about his work and how his elevation to management level has given him the unpleasant task of firing one of the employees.
On Sunday morning, Joe, Jenny, Von and I went tothe "Chatterbox" at Mt Gravatt for breakfast. I had my usual there, a club sandwich
Then on Monday night Jenny, Yvonne, Joe and I went to the Burmese restaurant. I had the roast duck as usual and Jenny had the sizzling seafood, as did Von. Joe was not feeling very talkative but I managed to draw him into the conversation a couple of times.
Yesterday (Tuesday) was present day. Jenny again put on a great dinner featuring that family favourite, egg rolled pork. Susan brought out presents for Joe and me, featuring British foods that we don't see in Australia. Among many other things, I got some German rum, raisin and hazelnut chocolate by "Brenner" that went down particularly well
I didn't see them today as Wednesday is a day I always share with Zoe. She was a bit down in the dumps when she arrived but was in reasonably good cheer by the time she left. She is still thinking of buying a house on Lamb Island but seems to have decided against it on account of the midges there.
Update of 23rd., Paul's birthday: Jenny put on a party in her backyard with both sides of Paul's family present. Tim and Rachel were also there for a while with Liam, a classic little blondie boy. Jenny provided some very tasty kebabs plus a type of risotto. There were also two good Pavlovas.
Primrose took a fancy to Joe and wrapped herself around him in a display of classic femininity. I had undergone a urological procedure at the Wesley hospital that morning so was not very lively. So watching Primrose was a fun distraction. She is a very confident little girl
Update of 25th: We all went over to Joe's place on Saturday morning to look at his musical instrument collection and hear him play. He has reached the top grade in piano playing. Jenny brought over food for lunch for us all. Joe is definitely a collector. He has for instance two old pedal organs. Jenny and I both collect things so we did wonder for a while if he too would be a collector but what he in fact started to collect was a a surprise.
Joe did play for us for a short while but for most of the morning the piano was taken over by another very competent pianist: Matthew, aged 11. He even played us some Philip Glass, which we all were pleased to hear.
A few days before, I had for some reason recited half a dozen of the opening stanzas of the Latin poem "Stabat Mater" -- Stabat mater dolorosa juxta crucem lacrimosa -- and Paul immediately wanted me to teach it to Matthew -- as Matthew is learning Latin at school and likes it. So when we could get Matthew off the goanna I did go through the poem with him line by line and taught him the church pronunciation of it. It will be quite a party piece for him. It is one of mine. I guess it is a bit odd for an atheist like me to be teaching a work of Marian devotion but it is simply a good poem. And Pergolesi's setting of it is sublime. My favourite performance of the Pergolesi setting is below:
My comments on the performance here
I had a good chat with Susan at one stage, telling her of some good things I saw in both her girls -- including that I saw a bright future for Primrose. Susan is bright, beautiful and kind but is despite that not terribly self-confident so it is pleasing to both of us to see that Primrose has self-confidence by the bucketful -- a legacy from Paul
16 March, 2023
Zoe goes on another trip
Zoe's trip to Malaysia and Laos has whetted her appetite for holidays. She is this evening (Thurs) on Lamb Island in Moreton bay on another holiday. She is seeing Ken C. there, a businessman I happen to know. He will be hosting her at his weekender there for a couple of days. She is looking forward to swimming in the sea there.
Initially, on Wednesday, Zoe told me only that she was going to spend a couple of days on an island with someone she had recently met. As she had met him only once before, I thought that sounded a bit risky so suggested that she give me his particulars before she left. I said. "I am your family". She agreed, saying "You are my ONLY family". So she gave me what details she had
Anyway it turned out that I knew Ken from a music group we both used to attend so I had a bit of a chat with him on the phone yesterday about old times
She sent me some pictures of the house she is visiting. It looks pretty decrepit and almost abandoned
She included a picture of Ken. He looked pretty decrepit too.
I got a text from her at about 9pm saying that she was thinking of coming home a day early (Friday)
Saturday morning update: I have just heard from her. She appears to be enjoying her holiday somewhat after all and will stay on tonight.
Sunday update (19th): She's back! She enjoyed some things about her holiday, mainly swimming in the nude in the sea and the fresh sea air. But she did not relate well to Ken. She was very critical of his poor state of health, his decrepit house and his failure to give any respect to her food and health ideas. The clash over the latter was so bad, apparently, that he at one time told her that she was fat and wrinkly! For a man who has been married 4 times he seems to know surprisingly little about women. No wonder his last wife was a patient Asian
He sounds rather narcissistic in fact. It is a trait of narcissists to put others down in the foolish belief that it makes themselves look good
Below is a picture of the bed that Ken gave her to sleep on. It is very narrow (50cm; 20"). He said the alternative was to sleep with him. She chose the narrow bed. She says that she nonetheless slept well because of the sea air coming through the open windows
When Zoe arrived back at my place around 1pm, we went to Nando's for lunch, followed by eating cold watermelon on my verandah, which was very pleasant on a hot day. We had a lot of laughs about one thing or another, as we usually do. We were both happy to be back in one-another's company
Not too wrinkly -- but a big suntan from all the swimming
14 March, 2023
Jenny went to a church sale and saw a PAIR of mini oil lamps. It is the mini ones I like best. She paid $2 ea and gave them to me this evening
6 March, 2023
I was still half asleep at 7am in my bed yesterday when I heard some noises from nearby. I opened my bedroom door and there she was -- all clad in yellow. She had taken a taxi from the airport and I had left my front door open in case she arrived before I was up.
She had a lot to tell so we spent an hour talking before she went to bed in my guestroom at about 8am. She had not been able to sleep on the plane so was very tired. My previous night had been a bit disturbed too, probably out of excitement at her anticipated arrival. So I went back to bed for about an hour and a half as well.
She emerged at 11am and we went to Nando's for a brunch. We of course continued a discussion of her trip there, with quite a lot of mention of Sam, her travel companion who had dumped her in Laos. She has a very good sense of humour -- as I do -- so we are always laughing while we are together but Sam is much more sombre. She referred to him as "Stoneface". So I emerged in a very favourable light in comparison with Sam and Zoe told me there that I was "fantastic". A good homecoming! I eventually drove her home in mid-afternoon. We had some affectionate times together throughout. She was very warm to me as I was leaving
As I expected, it emerged that Sam was not wholly at fault in dumping her. He tended to walk ahead of her, ignoring her. So she eventually got impatient with him and kicked him lightly in the leg to get his attention. But he is 78 and not too good on his feet so that alarmed him greatly and he immediately went back to their hotel and moved out, leaving her to fend for herself. She has Serbian "inat" however so was not much fazed. Being very smart and very fit, she could look after herself pretty well
She greatly enjoyed Laos and took some trips around it while she was there. the Lao People's Democratic Republic is an unreformed Communist country so differs markedly from its neighbors and Zoe rather enjoyed the differences. She liked the absence of traffic jams and found the people to be very relaxed, which she admired. She also found tourist accommodation and other costs to be very cheap despite being of reasonable quality. The souvenirs she brought back were local craft products. The cellphone holder is made of bamboo and the purse features elephants, which Laotians are rather proud of
That Communist rule can have its attractions if you keep your head down is something I have previously noted about the former East Germany and the current Belarus. People tend to be more brotherly and friendly there, which Zoe admired
As is common after travel abroad she has come down today (Monday) with a cold but has found time to send me many messages
Update of Tuesday 7th.: She came over today between 2pm and 4pm for lunch and was still mentally processing her time with Sam. When she was explaining her dissatisfaction with him, she made a comment that rather amused me. She noted that she had travelled a long way across the world to be with him but despite that: "He didn't say one nice thing to me and I can't stand that!". I say lots of nice things to her.
She also says that at no time has he tried to touch her in any way, despite plenty of opportunity to so. He sounds rather schizoid in fact.
24 February, 2023
Bulletin from Asia
Pics received this morning from Zoe -- showing her with travel companion S. The message with the pic was "still surviving", which I take to mean that she and S have not so far fallen out.
Zoe below at the foot of the Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur
UPDATE OF 1 March: S has "dumped" Zoe so she is at the moment exploring Laos by herself. Her most recent description of Sam is acerbic but I would probably be committing a libel if I published it
UPDATE of 4 March: She's on her way back! On a plane at the moment, via Bali. ETA early Sunday morning. She seems to have enjoyed her trip despite doing part of it on her own. I will of course be glad to have her back safe and sound. We corresponded a lot while she was away.
She's sent a pic of herself against a background of the mountains ofLaos
A pic from Bangkok on her way back home
21 February, 2023
Zoe goes to Asia
Zoe flew out of Brisbane last Sunday (19th) via Malaysian Airlines on her way to Kuala Lumpur. When she heard that her friend Sam ("the good Bond") was headed that way she asked to join him when he got to KL.
She went with some romantic hopes but what mainly moved her was the love of travel that is normal among women in their '70s plus the fact that she had never been to Asia and badly wanted to make up that deficit.
I have not so far got any texts or emails from her but I have already got a couple of Facebook messages. So that is good
14 February, 2023
My V-day was busy and a bit unusual. During the day I consulted with a surgeon about some skin cancers and made an appointment to get them excised.
I then saw an audiologist to collect a replacement hearing-aid for the one I had lost. And the new one is better
Then I let my vacant room downstairs to a new tenant for a slightly increased rent.
But what about St Valentine? Jenny cooked me a favourite dinner to mark the day and Zoe emailed me to say that I am her "First and ONLY LOVE". So that is pretty good.
I did not see Anne but I had seen her the Saturday preceding, with much discussed.
31 January, 2023
Crepe Myrtle time
They come out at different times, depending on how much rain and sun they get. Mine mostly have my house between them and the sun so are rather late bloomers. But today they are fully out
28 January, 2023
Anne and I go to church (again)
We rather liked our previous visit to the O'Keefe St SDA church so decided to go again. I encouraged Anne to wear her hat in church in accordance with 1 Corinthians 11 but she just wore it to and from the church. Hat wearing seems to have died out even in SDA churches, as none of the ladies in the church were wearing one. I thought Anne looked fetching in her hat anyway so see her below.
The service was a write off: Not a divine service at all. We had a long business meeting to start, followed by a couple of hymns and then a long retrospective on what church members had done during 2022. It might as well have been a CWA meeting. It was so boring that we walked out at 12:15. Both Anne and I vowed forthwith never to go to that church again
26 January, 2023
A good day
Yesterday, Wednesday, was an unusually good day for me. It started out with a 9:30am brunch at the Cannon Hill Coffee Club with Anne. We don't usually meet on a Wednesday but the confluence of Anne's recent birthday and Australia day meant that Anne had a lot of social obligations and Wednesday was the best day for us to celebrate her birthday together. I gave her a card and transferred a money gift into her account as my contribution.
I had one of their flat grills and Anne had the big vegetarian breakfast. It is one of their most lavish offerings. My flat grill was overdone but I did not send it back, as is my custom. I don't like sending back good food. I just eat it.
After the meal we sat in the car and chatted for a while and then visited the nearby Vinny -- but did not find anything to buy.
Then at around 2pm Zoe arrived at my place. First up we visited the OpShop in Cavendish Rd, Coorparoo where they have many pretty things. But again we did not buy anything. We both have too much stuff already.
We then went to the Buranda Sushi train where we had a couple of plates each. We then went to the Kangaroo Pt Maccas for iced coffee and then home. Once we got back, Zoe prepared us a raw food meal as she usually does. After that we spent the rest of our time lying down. Between about 6pm and 6:30 Zoe went to sleep in my arms, which I liked.
Before she left however it was photo time. She is a real clothes-horse but has very good taste in my opinion so I often like to take a photo of her latest outfit.
So I saw a girlfriend and an ex-girlfriend all in the one day. I liked it! A good Wednesday.
And today is Australia day so I have our distinguished flag flying proudly from the tall flagpole out the front of my house
During the day, one of my tenants spoke to me and said: "Long live the Empire". He was referring to the British Empire and noting that Australia Day marks the successful completion of a great Imperial project. His own heritage is Greek but he is a great student of history
Then, around 2pm, Zoe arrived. And she too is neither British nor Australian. She is a proud Serb. But she wanted to celebrate the day by eating out for lunch. Hence her earlier than usual arrival.
So I took her to Nandos where there is a meal -- Mediterranean salad -- that suits her diet. We spent most of the rest of the day under the airconditioning in bed and we again ended up in a close cuddle that led to her falling asleep in my arms for about half an hour. So that helped make a very good day from my viewpoint.
Then that evening I went over to Jenny's place for dinner where we had spring rolls and sweet & sour chicken. So I had two great days in a row.
17 January, 2023
A bit of fun
As readers here will be well aware, I take lots of pics of Zoe in her great range of chic attire. At the same time, I always discourage her from taking pictures of me. I have a theory that a picture of me will one day break a camera. I looked passable once but those days are long gone. Recently, she got a photo of me when I had just collapsed onto a park bench after a walk. She sent me the pic with the comment that it reminded her of the Dying Gaul, a famous classical sculpture. See me below:
Definitely not a posed photo
I mentioned the matter to Jenny, who looked up the sculpture to see what it looked like. She made the point that the dying Gaul actually looks very attractive. So that was an unexpected twist. It was vaguely pleasing that I reminded Zoe of someone known to be good looking. See the guy below
But perhaps she just thought I looked to be dying
10 January, 2023
2022 in review
2022 had lots of big political news but for me it also had big personal news. I actually fell in love! How's that for a man in his 80th year?
Zoe and I met at the very beginning of 2022 and are still going strong into 2023. But if and when the romance ends, 2022 will still be a memorable year for me. It is of course particuarly rare and difficult for really old people to form new relationships. Large numbers of elderly people die alone. Zoe was referring to that difficulty recently when she put her arm around me and said: "John, we have one big thing in common: Nobody else wants us". She had a point.
It was not love at first sight but we did like one-another from the beginning and that soon deepened. The biggest surprise is that she and I are about as incompatible as it gets. I fail to understand her strong European accent a lot of the time and I am as unfit as she is super-fit. She jogs for miles every day and I walk only short distances. She is still pretty good-looking for her age while my looks break cameras these days. And that's just the start of our differences.
So compatibility is not all it's cracked up to be!
So what works between us? Hard to say definitively but I think it begins with us liking one-another. And we are both around top of the IQ range. She once said: "I used to go for handsome men but they are all stupid!"
I think the main influence that keeps us together is a principle I have always followed: If you find two good things in another person all the rest can be negotiated or adapted to. And the two things I particularly look for in women are a high IQ and a liking for classical music.
And my little Serb has both of those two rare qualities. She is even strongly moved by the music of J.S. Bach. That latter would mean nothing to most people but it is huge to me as I feel the same way about Bach. Mine are minority tastes but as an academic I am stuck with them.
We are also both high-functioning autistics so understand one-another's autistic behaviours when they emerge. The fellowship of the autistics is an unlikely concept but something like that does seem to work for Zoe and me at times. And aging does mellow one. At my age I have nothing to prove and no need to achieve. So I can just sit back and just enjoy a relationship for what it is.
Zoe also has a good sense of humor and a liking for kisses and cuddles. She often falls asleep in my arms and I like that.
A bonus picture of her
I thought she looked very chic in the recent photo below:
9 January, 2023
A very small outing
Yesterday was the end of a period in which Zoe and I saw one another on three successive days -- something we rarely do. Last time was during the floods. On that occasion we drove down to Kangaroo Point to see the river in flood. Yesterday we also went there to see the river and sit by it.
We were sitting in a shelter when a kind lady from a nearby shelter came over and gave us some chocolate cake, which was very good. Kindness to the elderly perhaps.
I usually take pictures of Zoe on our outings. People in love do that. Below are two pictures from yesterday, taken with her mobile. She says that her camera likes her better than mine does.
Below is another picture from the same outing
7 January, 2023
An Orthodox Christmas eve
Yesterday was December 24 in the Orthodox calendar. And Zoe was brought up as a communicant of the Serbian Orthodox church.
Having a Serbian girlfriend must seem rather exotic to people of British traditions and it certainly is different. Zoe and I went to one (Holy Annunciation) of the two Russian Orthodox churches in my neighbourhood last night. And an Orthodox service is MOST unlike anything familiar to an old Protestant like me
The thing I cannot get over is how everyone STANDS during the service. Only decrepit oldies like me are allowed to sit down -- on the sidelines. A Protestant service is mostly absorbed with everyone sitting down for most of the time. Standing must promoke good stamina among adherents of Orthodox churches. And they did a lot of bowing so that must have helped their stamina too.
And again there was no singing. A recent Seventh Day Adventist service Zoe and I attended featured about six hymns. I enjoyed that
So the service consisted of over an hour of chanting of devotional texts. The service was in fact in English but the chanted delivery combined with my poor hearing meant that it might as well have been in Russian for all I knew.
One thing I liked was that almost all the women wore head coverings -- as the apostle Paul commanded in 1 Corinthians 11. I remember the time when women in Western churches did the same but that seems to have completely fallen by the wayside over the years.
And the Orthodox service was accompanied by extensive use of "bells and smells". The censer was vigorously and often deployed. Catholics and High Anglicans do that too but it seemed pointless to an old Presbyterian like me, rather pagan in fact.
And there was a rude screen which was opened and closed at various times during the service. The Priest and his assistants were behind it most of the time and came out of there only during the communion part of the service. The actual consumption of the tokens presumably happened there. The congregation got only a view of the bread and wine, not an invitation to share it. At least they probably had real wine. Our Puritan Presbyterian practice of using unfermented grape juice is a bit of a disgrace
Anyway it was an experience. Let everyone find their own way to their God. I am merely an onlooker these days.
The service was attended by old friends of Zoe, Ana and Robert. Both are very nice people. So Zoe asked them back to my place after the service -- where she had party food ready for them. We mostly discussed religious differences between Western and Orthodox Christianity but it was a pretty jolly party anyway. Zoe kept referring to me as "him", but in a jolly way. Robert is of Catholic background but is making an heroic attempt to adapt to the Orthodox faith of his gorgeous Serbian wife. I was at their wedding a few months back.
Below is a picture of the happy couple from that time
We arrived at the church around 6pm and Zoe left my place for home at about 10pm
Today was pretty good too. I had my usual morning with Anne wherein we varied our routine a little. I took her to the Gold Leaf cafe for brekky instead of our more usual haunts -- receiving an enthusiastic welcome from our little Vietnamese hostess. Anne had a Canadian breakfast and I had one of their very substantial cheeseburgers.
After breakfast we watched on YouTube a good Italian performance of Mozart's Zauberflöte opera sung in German with both Italian and English subtitles. I was struck by how much more elegant than the other two languages the Italian subtitles were.
Zoe had also asked to come over today so arrived at about 2pm in a very happy mood. It was her Orthodox Christmas day but I think her good mood was mostly traceable to our good Christmas eve party last night.
We went to Buranda for iced coffee and also had a Borek: Serbian food. We then did outings to Vinnies and Cashies. A Borek is totally aginst Zoe's dietary ideas so when I later challenged her about that, she quoted Oscar Wilde: "I can resist everything except temptation". As I am an Oscar Wilde fan she once again pleased me with her high cultural level
Saturday afternoon is not a routine time for Zoe and me to meet but we enjoyed it greatly anyway. She sometimes says things that I find memorable and she did that again today. As we were walking to the Buranda shops, she referred to the fact that we are both still enrolled without much effect on dating sites. She put her arm around me and cheerfully said: "John, we have one big thing in common: Nobody else wants us". Which is in a perverse way rather romantic. But we did have lots of laughs. She left for her home at about 5pm.
Then just after 6pm Jenny arrived with some good sandwiches to toast for my dinner. We had a long chat about various things over a cup of tea.
So how lucky can you get? I saw all three of my lady-friends in the one day!
2 January, 2023
New Year's Day
The season ended well for me. I had an unusually long chat with Joe over breakfast at the pie shop. We discussed matters both political and religious. He thinks that the Catholic church will have to liberalize its teachings on sexual matters if it is to continue to flourish.
I pointed out that religious conservatism is in fact doing well in many places. The very traditional Anglican diocese in Sydney and the popularity of Catholic churches that still use the Tridentine mass being cases in point The Seventh Day Adventist church is also doing well with 95,000 churches worldwide
Then after lunch I managed to find Irene in the rehab unit of the Mater private. We had some good chats about medical matters and discussed seeing more of one another after she gets over her knee replacement.
I would have liked to see Zoe that night but that relationship appears to be in hiatus. We did have a memorable year together last year
For posts on this blog in 2022, see here
For posts on this blog in 2021, see here
My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher in my 80th year in 2022. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. I am Australian born of working class origins and British ancestry. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools.
See here for more of the notes and pix occurring in the side column of the original memoirs blog
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