SOME MEMOIRS -- by John Ray
Some occasional personal notes from a quiet life...

John Ray's Home Page; Email John Ray here. The Blogroll. Photo album for this blog here. A link to memoirs from previous years can be found just above the flag at the foot of this page.


A smile not as good as the famous smile of Antonia Staats but of that ilk. In my late 50s. Not so good now


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 November, 2021

Some pesky surgery

I undergo a lot of surgery for my skin cancers but I rarely make mention of it here. The surgery I had on Friday morning was particularly notable. I had a BCC just under my left eye right beside my nose that was going to be difficult. Excising the BCC was not the problem. Getting the skin back together in that area was the challenge. So I went to a very experienced plastic surgeon for the job.

He took quite a while to get the job done but he got a result. He uses diathermy reluctantly as it impedes healing. The risk of that is post-surgical bleeding. And I have had that a couple of times in the past. So I was apprehesive of waking up that night with blood on my pillow and blood streaming down my face. Unpleasant!

It didn't happen that night but it did the next night. The bleed was very small, however so just changing the dressing fixed it. Jenny helped do the new dressing. It was upsetting while it lasted though.

Another complication was that the wound got infected, presumably with staphylococcus aureus. And that shows by edematous swelling around the infected site. So as soon as I saw swelling I got some erythromycin into me which fixed the problem.

So on Sunday evening as I write this I have had no bleeding and no swelling all day. Much relief. Healing is well underway.



30 October, 2021

A fruitful expedition

Jenny and I usually go for some sort of outing on Friday mornings. This time we did a tour of some OpShops at Capalaba. We did rather well. I bought 3 things that were a bit unusual, including the fanciest bottle opener you have ever seen.

The set of coasters appeared to be silver (EPNS no doubt) but I think the fancy cake-lifter is some sort of shiny alloy. There were certainly no hallmarks on it.





28 October, 2021

I am the vaccinated man

See below.

I got zero side effects from the first dose so I am hoping for the same from the second. I got the second only hours ago, however so it is too early to tell. My very good immune system is reasom for optimism, however.



Saturday evening update: Still not a single side-effct



22 October, 2021

A memorable day

My day started out with an 8am appointment at the radiation oncology Dept. at the PA hospital. The PA is a short drive from where I live. It is a huge public hospital but the radiation oncology Dept. there is very well equipped and staffed. I saw Prof. Foote, the head of the Dept. It was a genial meeting as he knew me from a previous bout of therapy there.

I am getting him to irradiate an unsightly neoplastic rash on my forehead. It has been lasered, frozen and ointmented but nothing kills it for long. The radiotherapy will wipe it out for good however. I will get a total of 20 exposures to the deadly beams to make sure of that

We agreed on a start to the treatment in about a month's time

Then I had lunch with a lady I contacted through a dating site. I was amazed when I met her. I am betting that she is the most good-looking 71 year-old in Brisbane. You'd think she was in her 30s. She was a pleasure to look at.

She was quite bright, we had a lot in common and the conversation went well. But my decrepit looks mean that I am nowhere in her league so there are unlikely to be further developments between us. It was a real pleasure to meet her however

And yesterday's iron infusion was already showing good effects. I was actually walking faster today. The extra iron would have enabled more haemoglobin which in turn boosted my leg muscles. I am walking pretty normally now. I have had three attacks of internal cancer but my recovery of function from them has been pretty good.

So it was a rather good day and I had a candle-lit dinner with Jenny to top it off. I have two candelabra with six candles so that gave a good light to dine by.



18 October, 2021

An unusual night

Over the years, Jenny and I have always liked a glass or two of wine with our dinner. Recently, however, we have not been able to do that. Jenny has to drive home after dinner and in her usual cautious way refuses to drive with alcohol in her system. I would be quite happy to drive her but she refuses to travel with me driving. Those who know my driving will understand.

So last night Jenny slept over in my guest room so we could revert to custom. Jenny celebrated the occasion by making one of my favourite dishes -- Wiener Schnitzel. Schnitzel is a seemingly simple dish but cooking a good one is in fact quite complex. The major "secret" is that you must fry it in ghee. Ghee gives it that wonderful buttery taste.

For booze we opened a bottle of good old Seaview "champagne"

Jenny upheld her Australian honour by drinking half the bottle but I felt like only one glass so the dinner was no riot.

But there was an unexpected sequel: At about midnight I chucked the whole of my dinner up. I think I know what caused it so will not buy that product again. Jenny fortunately remained well. I felt fine the morning after so the problem was clearly nothing serious.

Overnight stays imply breakfast the next morning so for brek we went to a place at Stones Corner that Jenny knew: "Clove & Honey". It was "innovative" so I was a bit wary and just ordered a cheeseburger. Even the burger turned out to be innovative, however, -- containing calamari! I am quite keen on calamari so that was no problem. Jenny talked them into doing a gluten-free eggs-Benedict, something she really likes. We went to the nearby op-shops afterward, where I did make a small purchase



15 October, 2021

My most recent presents to Anne

I saw two rather attractive pieces yesterday so bought them: A blue bangle and a very fancy necklace.





I have been buying Anne costumejewellery almost weekly for years now so she must by now have just about the biggest collection in Brisbane. The only pity is that she has neither a daughter nor a grand-daughter to leave it to. But she wears it with enthusiasm now so that is the main thing. She particularly likes strong colours so the bangle should be a hit

But my reward is great too. As the apostle Paul said: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35)



29 September, 2021

The one night of the week

Most nights Jenny comes over and cooks dinner for herself, myself and Joe. So we regularly have family dinners!

On Wednesday, however, Jenny stays home at her place and has a craft night with her lady friends. On that night I cook for myself and Joe. I am no chef but there are a few simple things that I cook which turn out fairly well.

I have a Ukrainian tenant named Vlad who lives downststairs. He doesn't seem to have much of a life but is always cheerful, helpful and ready for a chat. Recently, he had some medical problems that were clearly getting him down. So I thought to cheer him up by inviting him to share our Wednesday dinners.

That worked out well. Some nights Joe is held up at work and misses the set dinnertime. On those occasions I do still have company at dinner -- Vlad. I much prefer that to eating alone, though I have done plenty of solo dining over the years

And Vlad also happens to like classical music so is also happy to sit with me when I put on classical music after dinner. So including Vlad works well.



25 September, 2021

Costume Jewellery

There is often a lot of thought and craftsmanship put into costume jewellery. In some ways it is a superior form of jewellery as it does not rely for its interest on containing precious stones. It has to please in its own right. I regard it an underappreciated form of art.

So it is in keeping that I give Anne a lot of costume jewellery. She and I seem to have very similar taste in what looks good. -- something striking but not ostentatious

At our meeting this morning, Anne was wearing a pair of ear-rings that I gave her quite recently. I think they exemplify our joint taste







22 September, 2021

Good sex

Most people who know me are aware that I have been married four times. In getting to that point, it is obvious that I have been to bed with a lot of women over the years.

I make no claim however about my performance in bed. As far as I know, it is completely average, unoriginal and unadventurous. The ladies concerned have however never complained about my performance at the time and I have always been happy with them. I can in fact take sex or leave it and I have often left it for long periods.

But there is just one episode in my career that I think is worth recording. I will call the lady X as I obviously cannot reveal her identity. The sex was only one part of a very good relationship that lasted for more than a year but I think it was notable in its own right.

As we entered the bedroom, the lady would close the door behind us. She would then let down her long hair. She normally wore it up. In my experience women do normally let their hair down before sex. I think it is from that that we have the expression "letting your hair down" to mean having unrestrained fun of any sort. At any event I always liked it when my partners did that. It seemed very symbolic.

After the usual foreplay, I would get us started by getting on top of her in the best missionary tradition. But that did not last. After a minute or so she would get on top of me. I would just lie there flat out while she did all the work. The great benefit of that is that the man takes longer to come that way. So the lady gets more time to come and the man has an extended period of pleasure. It worked so well that X would often come with a scream. I like a screamer. There are not a lot of them but it seems to confirm that I have done something well.

At any event I would recommend that system to anybody who is inclined to it. It is a win-win situation.



20 September, 2021

An eventful day

Yesterday I had lunch at the Phams with an old friend from Sydney in the 70s, John H. We saw a lot of one another in the old days so we had a lot to talk about. He was very concerned with my health during my recent illness so I appreciated that. He lives in Brisbane these days so we have arranged to meet more frequently. As you can see below, he is in a lot better shape than I am



And then that night we had a blackout!

We have been having frequent blackouts in Brisbane lately. But they have been short-lived and happened after midnight, so the only bother from them has been a frequent need to reset your electric clocks.

But last night was different. The power outage was for about 2 hours starting at about 8:30pm. It didn't bother me much though. I have about 15 oil lamps and various candles so I was soon well lit up again.

My hurricane lamp was particularly useful. I could walk around with it lighting my path. I also set it up to act as a night light I generally have some source of light on at sleep-time. It was well positioned in the room to give light to the whole room. You will see it below on its elevated shelf.



In the old days one would normally lose work in progress on your computer during a blackout. But now that laptops are almost universally used as your main personal computer, that is no longer a worry. The laptop battery keeps the computer going without interruption. I in fact was able to resume exactly what I was doing before the blackout.

Fortunately, I had put all my blogs up well before the blackout so the blackout did not delay their availability



18 September, 2021

Light on the situation

Most weeks I give Anne a small present, usually costume jewellery. I have a pretty good idea of her taste so she is usually enthusiastic about what I give her. She says that when she wears it, other ladies often compliment her on it.

My most recent present was a bit different, however. I gave her a new but old-fashioned hurricane lamp! That probably sounds bizarre but she, George and I all like oil lamps. George has given her a very nice large table lamp. So I decided to give her an oil lamp that she can carry about during blackouts or for nights when she is caravanning.

And she definitely liked it. Unprompted by me she has just sent the picture below of the lamp concerned lighting up a scrabble game





12 September, 2021

Surprising service

Qld Xray is the name of a private firm that seems to have tentacles in all Brisbane hospitals, public and private. They do it all: Xrays, CT scans, PET scans, MRIs. I have used their services a number of times in different hospitals with no complaints but nothing worth mentioning either.

Last night it was different. I went to their branch at the Mater Public hospital nearby to me. My appointment was arranged only a few days beforehand and was down for 8pm. I chose a night appointment as they bulk bill those (meaning they are "free" to me). My specialist had asked for two scans, a CT scan and an MRI. CT scans are routine but MRIs are a bit of a big deal.

I thought that, with two scans to do, my time there would probably be fairly lengthy. But, as it happened, they were super efficient and called me in with minutes of my arriving on time. And they were also efficient in doing the two scans. I went from one to the other in short order. The result? I walked out of there at 8:30. They took only 30 minutes to put me through two scans!

Pretty amazing. I will go to them again.

I must be one of the most scanned people in Brisbane. I seem always to be put through them by my doctors. This one was to investigate a slightly cricked neck, probably arthritis.

Because it is almost always a private firm doing medical scans in Brisbane, one usually has to wait only a few days to get any scan the doctors request. I have had some done same-day or the next day. I have also had some done after midnight when it seemed urgent.



7 September, 2021

Printer woes

My old printer died so I had to get a new one. The one I chose -- a HP Deskjet 2700e -- was not expensive -- $55 -- as I don't need anything fancy.

The setting up of a new printer has become a bigger and bigger challenge as the years have gone by so I was rather cheered by the motto on the box, which said: "Keep it simple". I wish they had. The setup was incredibly long and difficult. I worked at it for about 20 minutes and got so far and then Joe took over. Joe is a computer maven. He solves incredibly difficult computer problems for his work.

But it took another half hour of solid trying before Joe got the thing to work. How the ordinary citizen is supposed to make it work it I do not know, I suspect that setting up printers will become a new trade. You don't even try to do it yourself. You call a printer guy

I do however have a handy hint for future printer installers: Reboot yourcomputer before you start. It is only after Joe did that that things began to happen with my printer.

I guess a bonus is that printers don't get stolen these days. My printer is specifically set up for my computer. So it would not work on any other computer unless the thief was a setup genius. Lesson: Don't buy a secondhand printer



September, 2021

Joe x 2

I had a meal with son Joe twice today. The first was our usual Sunday breakfast at the pie shop. For a change I ordered savoury mince and it was quite good. I think they used some tomato product in it.

Then I also had dinner with Joe. It was Father's day so he asked me what I wanted. I made my usual request that he give me a dinner on our verandah. I asked for Wiener Schnitzel. He looked in 3 supermarkets for oven-ready schnitzel but found none. So he got chicken Kievs instead -- which is a good substitution as both dishes are crumbed.

He cooked it in his oven and said that it was the first time he had used that oven. It was a new gas oven that I had installed about a year ago. But he must have got the settings right as the Kievs were perfectly cooked. He provided a pasta salad with it.



4 September, 2021

Necklaces

A strange habit I have is to give Anne a piece of costume jewellery almost every week -- usually after our Saturday morning breakfast. And she does like my choices and does wear a piece of it from time to time. Today I excelled myself and gave her TWO necklaces, both of which she liked

There is a picture of the most interesting one below. It is a costume copy of a black opal necklace and is very well done. They have even gone to the trouble of making the "stones" into a shape into which opals are commonly cut -- a sort of rounded triangle. Only their large size tells you that they are not genuine. Anne wears a lot of black so they will be useful to her.





1 September, 2021

An anniversary

Today was the 16th anniversary of Anne and me meeting. Our relationship has undergone various changes over time but it is still warm and we do see one-another once a week -- and sometimes more. As usual, we did a celebration of the anniversary. Our customary meal for special occasions is lamb cutlets and so it was at my place at lunchtime today. We had fried onions, coleslaw and a French stick to go with it. Anne did the cooking.

For starters we usually have natural oysters but a recent article on how sick you can get from eating raw oysters put us off. So I bought us three different types of pate as an entree instead. Anne took most of it home to have on toast

So we enjoyed our lunch and had a lie down afterward listening to music

I did of course buy flowers for Anne -- which she appreciated -- but I did not keep a picture of them

It was actually an eventful day for me as I also went to Nandos for dinner with Joe. We too spent some time afterwards listening to classical music



August 28, 2021

Astra Zeneca

It is now more than 24 hours since I have had my first shot of Astra Zeneca -- and I have had ZERO side effects -- no aching bones, no high temperatures. Just my usual perfect health. My immune system once again seems to have done an exemplary job.

I was afraid that I might experience enough adverse symptoms to interfere with my usual Saturday morning with Anne. But we were in fact able to do all our usual activities. I even got some Portuguese custard tarts for our 11am cup of tea

Why Astra Zeneca? Mainly because it seems to give the longest period of immunity



August 25, 2021

A small drama with an unexpected ending

I seem to have a talent for losing my car keys. Because of that I always carry a backup set with me -- in a different pocket. So a few days ago when I again lost my keys it was no inconvenience. I just used my backup set. So my backup set became my main set

But that meant that I was now short of a backup set. So I went in to my local Pakistani keycutter to get a new copy of my car key. I knew however that he sometimes does not get his copies right so I parked my car very close to his kiosk. My caution was vindicated. To the surprise of neither of us, the copy he gave me in return for $66 did not work. So he had a second try. But that did not work either

So we were now in deep waters. He said that my key was faulty and that is why he could not copy it. He asked did I have another key that might copy better. I replied that I had only the one key. All the others I had lost.

He could see however that I needed to have a reserve key so took it on himself to get me a usable copy by hook or by crook. He actually got into my car's electronics to see if he could read the code my car took. I don't know how far he got with that before I remembered something. My son Joe drives my car at times so he has a key to it. So the keycutter's mate drove me to my place so I could borrow Joe's key

That worked better. The copy taken off Joe's key did work the doors and the ignition but it did not open the boot. So it was some use as a backup but not great. So I let matters ride with them at that point and decided to try a different locksmith the next day.

So I found a locksmith near me and started again. But it was not plain sailing with him either. He gave me a copy without the black knob on the end of it. He said that the black knob was not needed. He was sort of right. The knobless key opened my doors and turned the motor over -- but the motor would not start. It needed the electronics in the black knob to go.

He was a bit embarrassed by that and on the second try gave me a new key -- with knob -- that worked perfectly. And here's the surprise: He didn't charge me for it! So I ended up with an imperfect copy for $66 and a perfect copy for free! Beat that!



August 23, 2021

On being offended

It is a reasonable diagnosis to say that I am a high-functioning autistic. I have discussed the evidence for that previously. Just admitting to being autistic is itself autistic, I think

And there is something about me which I have long been aware of but which I now realize is profoundly autistic: I never get offended by anything. In all my life I can recall no occasion when I was offended by anything or anyone. I have sometimes acted offended when I thought it was expected of me but there has been no feeling behind the act.

So when people criticize me I simply see it as information. It tells me something about the critic and may tell me something about myself. I perceive only the informational component of a criticism, nothing more . I just don't understand why or how people get offended by things. It is basically a mystery and a surprise to me

That does let me down at times. I rather often do or say things that offend people without my meaning to. The thing would not offend me so I don't expect anyone else to be offended by it.

My deficit in that regard is however also a blessing. Being offended seems to be a rather unpleasant feeling so I am glad to be free of it. I sail through life with a great calmness and serenity of mind



August 22, 2021

"There is nothing more that we can do for you"

If you hear those words from your doctor, it will normally be a knell of doom. It will mean that your illness is so far gone that it is untreatable and that you will probably die soon

So I will always remember the moment my oncologist said those words to me. Fortunately, in my case he followed with the words: "You are in complete remission". He meant that I was so completely cured that there was nothing left for him to treat

People will probably congratulate me for being so lucky. But it was nothing to do with luck. What happened was that I was treated by an eminent professional in Australia's private health system who arranged for me to get advanced treatment as part of a clinical trial of a new medicine. I was the beneficiary of specialized knowledge, not luck.



August 20, 2021

Rehab going well

After the defeat of my life-threatening illness comes rehab and I am making steady progress with it. Today was a notable waypoint on my journey back to normality: I completed the full ritual of a Saturday breakfast with Anne. Ritual? Yes. Anne and I have a set of things that we have long done at Saturday breakfasts. It is very stereotyped but it is simply the things that we enjoy doing. I will outline it:

I drove us to the Phams where I have a booking for 9am. Anne particularly likes the coffee there and they have a very good menu. We order something familiar from the menu and enjoy it. I ate the whole of one of my usual breakfasts (calamari) -- something I could not do while I was ill.

We then went to to Woolworths to pick up a few things. I always tell Anne to put her choices in my trolley and I pay for them as if they were my own, It is very rare for me to let a lady put her hand in her pocket. One of the things I always like to buy if available is Portuguese custard tarts -- and today I did score some.

Something we used to do in the happy day before Covid was to finish our visit to Woolworths by sitting for 10 minutes on the seat outside and watch the passing parade. With the advent of Covid, however, they took that seat away and it has never reappeared. There was however there today an unoccupied seat a little further away. So we sat there for a while. It was good to revive that custom.

We then went to the local Vinnies to look for anything unusual that we might like. I can usually find a piece of costume jewellery that Anne likes and I buy it for her. We found today an ivory-look bangle of a sort that Anne said she had "always wanted". She was wearing a very pretty set of earrings that I had previously given her.

We then went home and lay around listening to classical music, with a cup of tea around 11am. We had a custard tart with it

Then Anne went home around 12noon with a big departure kiss to send her on her way

Below are some things I have bought for Anne recently. The item on the left is a fold-up lady's mirror





12 Aug, 2021

COMPLETE REMISSION

Magic words those. The cancers in my stomach are gone. I have always had a good immune system and over a 9 week period the immunotherapy has energized it into completely killing the cancer cells

My life expectancy is once again measurable in years

At dinner that night we had a Black Forest torte to celebrate



Addenda:

The treatment I received was KEYTRUDA, which has shown "sustained, long-term survival benefit and durable responses". So the cancers should stay away

The diagnosis of remission was based on PET scans. My most recent PET scan showed nothing where there had previously been cancer

My treatment was over 9 weeks, which is very short. Some treatments run for 30 weeks



11 Aug, 2021

Sikhs and I

Jenny and I were driving along Logan Rd in Brisbane yesterday when we passed the Sikh gurdwara (temple) there. I remarked that I had had Sikhs around my life since childhood and had always had a good impression of them. In my teens a Sikh gave me a tract about Sikhism published by the Gurpurb publishing company, a name which I have never been able to forget. I read the tract

Jenny endorsed my opinion of Sikhs and reminded me that in her travels in India in her youth she had been to Amritsar and actually slept in the GoldenTemple there -- a beneficiary of Sikh charity

When I was in London for a year in 1977, there were a lot of small shops there run by Sikhs. I was in one such shop once when I saw some old fool abusing the employees there, telling them how he had won the war and Sikhs had done nothing. In truth of course many Sikh families had lost sons in Britain's wars. I was quietly enraged by this so as I walked past the fool on my way out the door I gave him a heavy shoulder bump which sent him to the floor. It was probably wrong of me to do that and a Briton would never have done it. But I am not British. I am Australian

On another occasion I was in the habit of shopping at Sikh store near where I lived at the time. The Sikhs working there were used to getting a cold shoulder from their British customers. But, given my view of Sikhs, I always walked into their store with a smile on my face and was very friendly to them. The Sikhs seemed initially to be surprised by such treatment from a "British" customer but warmed to it. And one day when I had ordered two samoosas for snack, they popped a third samoosa into the bag at no charge.

I think Islam tends to make men into monsters. Sikhism makes them into gentlemen.

Although Sikhs are sometimes mistaken for Muslims because they wear turbans, Sikhism in fact started out as an Indian alternative to Islam and Sikhs fought the Muslims almost from the inception of Sikhism.


Some Sikhs in the company of a well-known Christian gentleman



10 August, 2021

An excellent new performance

A great favourite song of mine is "Moscow nights" -- as sung in the Red square by Dmitry Hvorostovsy and Anna Netrebko. I was looking forthat version to play to Anne after our breakfast yesterday when I accidentally came across a new version -- featuring Dmitry as usual but with Aida Garifullina as his female counterpart. I was transfixed. She matched Dmitry in the brilliance of her performance. Netrebko is no slouch but Garifullina eclipsed her. It was her best performance yet to my mind. And she dressed to look Russian, which she is



The performace was from Grafenegg Castle in Austria

Anne was much taken with her as well and asked me to find other pieces sung by her, which I enthusiastically did "O mio babbino caro", "Ave Maria ", "Time to say good bye" etc.

So her performance with Dmitry was a very pleasant discovery for both Anne and me

I also put on some Monteverdi -- "Zefiro Torna" which again was new to Anne and which he greatly liked



Monday, August 9, 2021

A RED-LETTER DAY

Today for the first time in months I was able to resume my old breakfast routine with Anne. We went to the Phams and got regular meals off the menu. It might seem a small thing but I have been unable to do it for months now so to return to an old and treasured routine was a great pleasure.

And we did the second part of our routine too -- a visit to Vinnies. And it was an unusually good day there. I found THREE things to give Anne that she liked, including a very fancy lady's pocket mirror

And Anne was wearing a pair of earrings that I had given her recently. See below:





Friday, August 6, 2021

My time with JM

I have always sought continuity in relationships. The fact that I married 4 times is proof enough of that I think. So I think very highly of a lady with whom I had a four year relationship and would like to leave some memoir of her

JM was a rather pretty nurse aged 51 and 5’6” tall. We started a relationship on 4.9.01. I was 58.

JM is a very quiet person but I found that she liked Mozart, Pergolesi, Albinoni etc. so she passed the all-important music filter as far as I was concerned. She had an interest in some of the other things I like too (history etc) but at a fairly low level. That she worked caring for the demented elderly gives some idea of how good-hearted she is.

She was slim but with a nice bottom. She had not gone past high school but she read a lot and had studied piano to Grade 4. She tended to wear her skirts short and her hair long

Like my other girlfriends, JM had an ethnic and cultural background very similar to mine. So I was able to speak broad Australian with her —which is a relief after all the standard English I write on blogs. I was able to say things like: “I’ll give it a burl” (translation: “I will attempt it”) and be instantly understood.

Culture is an amazing thing. And it’s particularly amazing in Australia. JM and I grew up roughly 2000 miles apart (Melbourne versus Cairns) and yet it was as if we grew up in the same town. We speak the same slang and have very similar recollections of our early years. The hymns she learnt and still loves from her Methodist church past overlap mightily with the ones I love from my Presbyterian background. We are both total unbelievers now but it was still a great pleasure to reminisce by singing the old doxologies and hymns.

Her father was a successful Melbourne businessman who sent both his daughters to Melbourne MLC (Methodist Ladies College) so she had just about the best education money can buy. MLC ladies acquire an accent, attitude and manners that enable them to glide easily into the “best” circles of English society.

An educated Australian accent is in any case pretty close to RP (Received pronunciation: The accent taught in British “public” [meaning “private”!] schools) and at MLC and other Melbourne private schools that accent is refined even more towards an English upper class standard. And JM’s sister did make that transition — marrying a rich Englishman.

JM however is a born rebel and all middle class values were not for her. She looked with horror at the middle class life that lay before her and wanted out. So she left school as soon as she could, took a humble job waitressing and never wanted anything more.

Mind you, she was very good at accents and could slip into a very good facsimile of RP if ever she wanted to. Though she normally spoke with a fairly broad Australian accent.

Another curious thing that quite stunned me was the effect of shoes on how she presented. I have never understood the way women collect shoes but JM gave me at least a hint of it. She normally wore very flat shoes and in such shoes looked like the hippy she is. She just ha to put on heels, however, and she immediately became a lady. Amazing. She is quite a pretty girl so that had something to do with it but I doubt that I will ever understand it fully.

I know this is completely mad but I thought I might note another way in which JM seemed to me to be something of a chameleon.

Optometrists make a great play of spectacles being some sort of fashion statement and it is undoubtedly true that different spectacles do somehow seem to convey different images of the person. And JM’s choice in spectacles did somehow convey the impression of a Melbourne Lady to me. She could be sitting in bed with her specs on talking on the phone and I definitely got the impression of being in the presence of a Melbourne Lady.

It was for a few moments almost like being in the company of the ultimate Melbourne Lady — the redoubtable Susan Rossiter/Peacock/Sangster/Renouf — a lady who definitely cut a swathe through her social circle in her time — but in the nicest possible way, of course. No wonder Barry Humphries found/finds his native Melbourne infinitely amusing. Perhaps JM was well out of it.

JM soon made her presence felt in my life. She was so feminine and so totally devoted to me that she eventually became the one whom I tended to think of affectionately during the day. I think she loved me as much as any woman has ever loved a man and that was of course a great experience for me. She slept overnight at my place in my second bedroom for about half the week and it was lovely to have her around. So I came to love her too.

I was hers after that. We stayed happily together for a long time after that, with our vacation in the Far North in August 2004 being a highpoint.

Following is what I said about JM in my 2004 Christmas letter: JM has now been living with me for some time. I am not sure what she sees in me but it is certainly not good looks. She is a geriatric nurse by occupation so that must make her feel at home with a moth-eaten old curmudgeon like me. She says that if I sat down to dinner with the residents at the nursing home where she works, no-one would notice anything out of place. She is a very kind-hearted soul so that when the more friendless residents of her nursing home go into hospital, she sometimes goes to visit them in hospital in her own time. It probably needs someone that kind to put up with me.

In 2005 JM went to England to visit her sister there. She spent 6 weeks there. I did not like the long separation but the strength of our relationship kept me reasonably contented with her during her absence. She seems to have misread that. She seemed to conclude that we could be in a relationship even while being physically apart for most of the time. It's a romantic notion but I did not share it. Physical closeness is a major part of a relationship for me.

At any event, while she was in England she got news that her elderly father in Melbourne was ailing and needed close support. So she announced without consulting me that she was going down there to live with him and help him. She seemed to think that I would be content with that. I was not and told her so. I told her that I understood her position but if she moved to Melbourne it would be the end of our relationship. She was upset but stood by her plans. So it ended up that she thought I had left her while I thought she had left me. It was a sad end to a good four year relationship. I saw the last of her at the end of August in 2005.

Her father died a few years after that and she now lives happily on the Gold Coast.


JM in England



Zefiro torna

I have been a great fan of Monteverdi madrigals since I first heard them some time in the '70s. So I was most pleased to find recently a really good version of one of the best -- Zefiro torna --



Three fiddlers, two lovely ladies and a drummer produce a magical sound. They sound good even if you have no idea what they are singing about but knowing that does greatly enhance your enjoyment. So I provide one translation. Note: Zephyr is the West wind that brings Spring

Return O Zephyr, and with gentle motion
Make pleasant the air and scatter the grasses in waves
And murmuring among the green branches
Make the flowers in the field dance to your sweet sound;
Crown with a garland the heads of Phylla and Chloris
With notes tempered by love and joy,
From mountains and valleys high and deep
And sonorous caves that echo in harmony.
The dawn rises eagerly into the heavens and the sun
Scatters rays of gold, and of the purest silver,
Like embroidery on the cerulean mantle of Thetis.
But I, in abandoned forests, am alone.
The ardour of two beautiful eyes is my torment;
As my Fate wills it, now I weep, now I sing.

That gives you the idea but, as always, the translation loses a lot of the beauty in the original. Almost any song is better in the original language. As it happens, I do have a minor qualification in Italian. It was one of my high school languages. So with a lot of preliminary work, I can usually follow songs in Italian. So I also provide the Italian original:

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Zefiro torna e di soavi accenti
l’aer fa grato e’il pié discioglie a l’onde
e, mormoranda tra le verdi fronde,
fa danzar al bel suon su’l prato i fiori.
Inghirlandato il crin Fillide e Clori
note temprando lor care e gioconde;
e da monti e da valli ime e profond
raddoppian l’armonia gli antri canori.
Sorge più vaga in ciel l’aurora, e’l sole,
sparge più luci d’or; più puro argento
fregia di Teti il bel ceruleo manto.
Sol io, per selve abbandonate e sole,
l’ardor di due begli occhi e’l mio tormento, come vuol mia ventura, hor piango hor canto.



5 August, 2021

Hurdles I have leapt

A few months ago I found that I had a lot of cancer in my stomach that had various consequences

* I could eat only small meals
* My stomach was often painful
* I got bouts of severe nausea roughly every second day

Dealing with that meant that I took painkillers (Tramadol) as a palliative measure. But the painkillers had two troublesome side-effects:

*Vertigo
*constipation

So I suddenly had five hurdles to overcome instead of one.

* Then came a further problem. I have always tended to insomnia and that suddenly became worse. Some nights I would not sleep at all. The doctors gave me the strongest sleeping pills available (e.g. Zolpidem and Alprazolam) but they did not help. Sleep deprivation is however destructive to both one's physical and mental health so cancer was suddenly the least of my worries. If I was to solve my insomnia I would have to do it all by myself and I would have to do it in a matter of days.

I took a lesson from my pioneer ancestors: Grit. Medical help was often not available to them so they simply ignored the problem until it either went away or killed them.

I have got nothing like the grit they had but I do have some. So I simply threw away all my pills and just lived through the insomnia. If I was awake I was awake and if I could sleep I slept. I let events take their course and simply accepted that I could not control them. I hoped that once free of chemicals my body would return to a healthy default state.

And it did. One cannot expect a complete cure of a life-long problem but I do now sleep at night at irregular intervals and I get a couple of hours of naps in during the day. It's enough.

....

So what about my cancer? I go to a private oncologist and he got me into a clinical trial of a system designed to alert my immune system to the cancer. The immune system then attacks and destroys the cancer. It costs a bomb and sounds fanciful and it does not always work but I have always had a good immune system and it has worked for me after just two months. I am now well on the way to slow but complete recovery. I now take no pills whatever. I have successfully leapt all six hurdles



4 August, 2021

My second wife

I met JP at a Mensa meeting quite soon after splitting with wife D. but nothing much came of it for a while.

JP had very thick and well-coloured brown hair, blue eyes, fair skin, a big mouth, a very slim waist, high cheekbones and a perennial smile. She was obviously intelligent, was tall (5'8"), listened to classical music, had a good sense of humour, was very diplomatic and I liked her body -- slim but with plenty of breast and a nice bottom as well. You normally get one or the other but not both.

She was a medical detailer (salesperson for a drug company) when I met her and already owned a few investment properties. She was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on 31.7.1932 and grew up there but also had some German noble blood in her (whatever that means). Her original surname (her father was killed in the war and her mother remarried) was German: A quite prominent aristocratic name in both Germany and France.

JP's family actually came from Aberdeen rather than Glasgow. Joy remembers her father as giving her "coalies" (rides on his back) while she was a child and as playing his violin. She also felt that I was like her father in many ways.

After travelling around a lot in Britain and overseas during her days as a nurse, JP emigrated with her brother to Australia when she was in her early 30s. Her mother and stepfather followed soon after.

She is a bit eccentric and does not have much dress-sense but as I am eccentric and care little about dress too that suited me quite well. She had had various relationships before she met me but had never married or had children. That really is a bit strange as she was in my experience of her a very loving person. I remember I used to give her a lot of bear-hugs.

She has an almost obsessive interest in anything medical. No wonder she started out as a nurse. Our dinner conversations would sometimes be about the latest academic journal articles on matters of interest to her. We are still good friends. A curious thing about Jb is that she was a smoker when I met her but I never knew it. She knew my dislike of it so just did not smoke in my presence and then just gave it up altogether. She must not have been heavily addicted. It paid off, however. Some years later she did a spirometry test and was found to have early emphysema (of which her mother later died). The specialist who ran the spirometry told her that by giving up smoking when she met me she had added ten years to her life!

Married

Around 1975 I moved in with her and married her about a year later -- on 15.5.1976. She was 43 at the time and I was 32 but that did not worry me as I had been told that I was infertile and could not have kids anyway.


JP on our honeymoon at Peregian beach. Note that waist

The wedding was a "Scottish" one (at the Waverley Presbyterian church!) with many of the male guests (and myself) wearing the kilt. I also made up a tape of all the best Scottish sentimental songs and played it for a large part of our wedding reception.

You should have seen the funny faces as all the Scots tried to restrain the tears! I hadn't quite foreseen that but perhaps I should have. Anyway, it certainly did a lot of Scottish hearts good to see a Scots lass wed so far from home but amid such devotion to all things Scottish. Just writing that sentence brought tears to my eyes so I must be a pretty solid sentimentalist too.

JP and I were together for about 8 years and she suited me very well. During the day I would usually be busy at University with my research and writing but I still kept good working class hours and would arrive home at about 5 p.m. -- like my father before me. Our usual routine of an evening was for us to sit around and chat between 5 and 6 p.m., go out to an ethnic restaurant at 6 and take a bottle of wine.

In 1977 I went to London on my Sabbatical year. JP came with me but stayed only 2 or 3 months. While she was there she wanted a job. As she was still an SRN from her Glasgow days, so she first looked into becoming a "temp" nurse. She found it offered one pound an hour. She thought that was a bit derisory so looked for a job as a "temp" secretary. She also had those skills. She found that she could get TWO pounds an hour as a secretary so did the obvious. But something seems wrong there. British socialism?

She also noted that some of the hospitals she knew had new buildings attached. She was excited to see the new wards. Alas, they were office buildings: British bureaucracy. Puzzle solved. All that health bureaucracy required a lot of staff. So the big demand for secretaries bid up the wages of secretaries to double the wages of nurses. No doubt all those extra clerks cured a lot of people of their illnesses!

When I got back to Sydney I resumed my interest in Real Estate. I bought a block of flats at 13 Wallis Pde., Bondi in conjunction with JB. I put in 25% and she put in 75% of the cost. They were the first places I "did up" -- prior to strata-titling them. We later bought other properties but most of our business activities for some years afterwards consisted of managing what we had -- cleaning up after tenants, getting new tenants etc. We seemed to be doing a re-letting almost every second weekend as we had over 20 properties between us.

We lived for a couple of years in a rented unit at Randwick and then also for a time at 6 Norton St, Kingsford -- a house which JP bought. It was next to her mother's house at 4 Norton St. 6 Norton St was just outside the Uni of NSW fence so for a couple of the 12 years I was a university lecturer I used to walk to work. When we eventually let 6 Norton St out it was to a Chinese man who liked the property because he thought it looked "very crean" (sic).

After that we moved into first flat 3 and then flat 4 of our building at 13 Wallis Pde. -- with a view to doing them up for sale. Dinyar Mistry lived with us for a while in flat 3 and the smells of his delicious Parsee cooking were really distracting. We "raided" his evening meals from time to time, rather to his amusement.

Leaving Sydney

When I began to get near 40 years of age I began (as many men do) to feel that I was in a rut (the mid-life crisis) and resolved to retire to Queensland. JP and I had a great life together with everything more or less as I wanted it but I still felt that I wanted to make an entirely new start for the second half of my life -- including a new female or females in my life.

I think she was 51 when we split up so it was pretty devastating for her. It was for a long time too upsetting to her even to see me but she has now got over that and seems to love me as much as ever! I think why I left her had a little to do with her beginning to look older but the main reason was simply the mid-life crisis, the need for a new life.

When I was no longer around to protect her interests she eventually took big risks in real estate and ended up making some costly mistakes. Optimism's reward! Her constant pleasantness, good cheer, enthusiasm and intelligence did however make her a quite remarkable person and I do regard myself as lucky to have had so much time with such a fine woman.

At the time I left Sydney I already had enough equity in Real Estate to provide income to live on if need be so did not need to continue in employment. I set the date for retirement from the Uni at Feb '83 when I was 39.

A few weeks before I was due to leave I told JP that I would not take her with me into retirement. I handled it rather badly, causing her more upset than was needful. I suppose after such a long relationship it is hard to handle things coolly.

The fact that I left my wife, my job, my city of residence and most of my friends does show, I suppose, that I even went about my mid-life crisis with my usual thoroughness. I do see myself as having had a really good mid-life crisis with generally very good outcomes. Anyway, at the beginning of March 1983 I drove up to Brisbane.



Meeting Jenny, my third wife

During my years in Sydney I had kept in touch with my old friend Alex Barnes. He had married one of my ex-girlfriends (Joyce Hooper) -- both now deceased -- so there was in fact something of a double reason for that.

Knowing Joyce and Alex did however prove to be very valuable indeed. I looked them up very soon after I arrived back in Brisbane from Sydney in 1983 and Joyce shortly thereafter invited me to dinner at their place. It was there that I met Jenny. Joyce had in fact arranged the dinner for us to meet. Jenny was an old friend of Joyce's.

So I met Jenny a week or two after I arrived in Brisbane. It was the same night Bob Hawke won his first election (5th. March, 1983). Joyce saw me as something of a "catch" and had primed Jenny up to win me.

When I arrived at the Barnes residence and was introduced to Jenny, the first thing I said to her was "Stand up and let me see how tall you are". In other words, I knew the sort of setup it was and was quite frank that I was evaluating the prospects too.

I drove Jenny home from Sandgate that night and arranged to see her again when I dropped her off. We "dated" after that quite frequently but I was by the time we met also seeing the little red-headed Marie T. Marie and I went to bed the night we met, which was around a week after I arrived back in Brisbane. Anyway, I told Jenny fairly soon that I was also seeing Marie and she seemed initially to accept that as no problem. It didn't take her long to brood on it however and she then in effect told me to choose her or Marie.  I chose her and broke it off with Marie but still for a time kept some interest in other women.

I think it was while I was living at Milton that I once took Jenny out for breakfast -- after a night together, of course. Jenny had never been taken out to breakfast before so that was a great hit.

About Jenny

 The reason I chose Jenny rather than Marie was mainly twofold: Seeing Jenny in jeans and seeing her do ironing for her flatmate, Kym. I have been a flatmate and observed flatmates on many occasions and recognized immediately how unusually kind and generous Jenny was to do that ironing.

Jenny has of course all sorts of other good attributes (such as intelligence, a good knowledge of the world and some liking for classical music) but so did Marie and various other women I might have pursued. It is however relevant that Jenny was pretty aspirational in looks at age 31. Ask most men what their ideal woman would look like and they would say something like: "A busty blonde with long legs". That would be a pretty good description of Jenny's looks at that time. I also liked the fact that she was relatively tall -- 5'8".

Jenny was born in Melbourne to Lindsay Albert Dene Lucas and Lena nee Cairns. She was an only child. Her parents moved to Brisbane when Jenny was aged about 5 because Lena was having difficulties with bronchitis in the cold Melbourne climate.

A photo of Jen when she was 15. Not terribly clear but it will have to do


Jenny had married Ken in her early 20s. They met in Brisbane but also lived together in England for a year or two -- where they married. They travelled back to Australia overland -- which was a very mind-broadening experience for Jenny. The marriage had however broken up by the time I met her and she was living in a flat at Sapphire St., Holland Park, with her friend, Kym Carter.

By that time she also had a quite active social life well underway so to see much of her I had to do things like pick her up after pottery classes. Pottery classes! Not being at all arty, that rather gave me the heebie jeebies.

Jenny's Autobiography

 At one stage Jenny began writing her autobiography but did not get far with it. I give below what little she did write at that time:

"I, Jennifer Ann LUCAS was born on 27th May 1952. My parents owned a delicatessen in Melbourne when I was born. They lived upstairs and the shop was below. My father used to cook rabbits for sale. They were very popular. He first used to cook them in the pressure cooker then he deep fried them, and sold them as roasted rabbits.

My earliest recollection of my childhood is of my parents playing a game called mahjong with some friends, and me sitting on my father`s knee "helping Dad to win", with a crocheted blanket over me. I am told that I was about 2 years old.

The blanket was made by my grandmother, Helen Cairns. She used to make lots of them and give them away to nursing homes. She liked to keep busy, and always liked to be doing something. She enjoyed going shopping even if it was only window shopping. She often used to go with my Aunty Peg.

I remember my father as being a very big man. He was a heavy drinker and a big eater. He always seemed to have second helpings of everything. In later life he developed diabetes and was forced to stay on a strict diet for his health. He lost a lot of weight for a while. Dad had black wavy hair, was clean shaven and was 6 foot 1 inch tall.


Auchenflower

I still had the travel bug at the time I met Jenny so I did not settle down with her straight away . I had several trips away for a while, to Britain and to Townsville, mainly to escape winter.

 Anyway, I gradually settled down with Jenny. She and her little red port moved in with me when I got back from Townsville and rented a flat at Birdwood Rd, Auchenflower. The flat was built in underneath an old Queenslander and there was a swimming pool in the backyard.  Jenny was still working during the day for Ken at that time and, as I recollect, still kept up her flat at Sapphire St. Most nights she was with me, however.

One amusing episode there was when I decided that I would like Ton Katsu for dinner. I therefore looked up Charmaine Solomon's cookbook for the ingredients, went out and bought them and told Jenny when she got home that we were having Ton Katsu for dinner. She had never even heard of it before but rose to the occasion with her usual culinary competence.  I took a lot of photos of Jenny when I was living in that flat. The first flush of romance, I suppose you could call it.



As the Sydney summer came on in early December, I left that flat to go down to Sydney again. I have always enjoyed Sydney and I still had a lot of friends and contacts there at that stage. I would probably never have left Sydney if the climate had suited me better. So I rented a unit at Bronte.  I invited Jenny to come down and share Christmas Day with me there.

 When I again went back to Brisbane with the onset of the Sydney cold weather, I lived in a room at the "Avon" guesthouse in Gregory Tce and Jenny continued on at her flat at Sapphire St. We still saw one-another all the time, however. I think it might have been then that we also did a trip up to Cairns to introduce Jenny to the area and to my mother.  When we got back to Brisbane I took yet another room at the "Avon".


Overseas in 1984

 New York.  Anyway, my next and final overseas trip soon came up -- in 1984. I was away for five months -- partly spent in New York and partly spent in London. I remember the whole trip cost me $14,000: Rather too much in retrospect.

I first spent the first month living in an old hotel just off Broadway on the upper West side of New York city. Boy, it was really summer there at the time! The hotel had no air-conditioning so I bought a small 110v electric fan which years later I gave to Timmy. After about a month I flew up to the Political Psychology conference in Toronto. It was intellectually a very incestuous affair with pervasive Leftist and psychoanalytic assumptions. No wonder it was the last one I attended!

Back in Australia

 When I got back from England and the USA I took a flat at Greenslopes -- again the lower part of an old Queenslander. This time Jenny gave up her flat to move in with me full-time. We stayed there for a while but with the onset of the Sydney summer, Jenny gave up working for Ken and we moved together down to Sydney. In Sydney we lived in my unit at 1/31 Elizabeth Bay Rd.

It was while we were there that Jenny catered for a Burns night in a vacant house at Glebe belonging to John Henningham. We had Haggis, "Dunlop" cheese etc. It was quite a feat for Jenny to cater for about 25 with the limited cooking utensils etc we had in Sydney at that time but the evening was a great success. Plutarch Gerolymatos, Boozy Suzy and a lot of the Mensans were there.

My main activity in Sydney at that time was selling off various Sydney properties I owned plus giving a few lectures at Uni NSW. Jenny loved living in the heart of Kings Cross while we were there and spent a bit of time exploring Sydney while I was at Uni etc. She discovered a little Vietnamese restaurant in the Haymarket that did Sate Pho so she loved that and went there a few times for lunch. Jenny likes Pho and Kim Chi almost as much as a Vietnamese or a Korean would.

I have an idea that the restaurant Jenny found might in fact have been the "New Hope" Vietnamese restaurant. I was always moved to tears by the very name whenever I walked past it. It started up shortly after Vietnamese boat people had started coming to Australia and that people had been through so much to find "new hope" in Australia was just somehow very moving to me. I felt so sorry for what they had suffered and so glad that they had found new hope. Just asking for hope seemed to be such a small ask. It was a very small and humble restaurant and has since been demolished.

We also bought my Jade green Ford Laser hatchback (for $7,000!) in Sydney at that time so eventually returned to Brisbane in two cars.  I was in the Laser and Jenny drove the Gemini.

21 Queen Bess St.

 When we got back to Brisbane I lived in a rooming house in Spring Hill (since demolished) and Jenny stayed at Ken's place (23 Camlet St, Mt Gravatt) while we looked for a place to buy as a home. We both liked old Queenslanders so that was what we mainly looked at. What we found was 21 Queen Bess St., Woolloongabba. It was an absolute slum at the time we first saw it but was basically sound so I bought and did it up with the assistance of Joe Grubb and other tradesmen he recommended.

It was rather beautiful when I finished with it -- long open verandahs with white iron-lace railings etc. It had six bedrooms and an extra-large dining room that became something of a family room. I think Jenny ended up with 12 power-points in her kitchen and also had a walk-in pantry!

It was at 21 Queen Bess St that Jenny first went on the IVF programme and conceived Joey at first try. It was largely Jenny's idea as I had long given up any thought that I could have children (I had previous expert medical advice to say I couldn't) but she was determined and thus achieved the best thing she ever did, in my view.


Paul, Suzy and Vonnie

From the beginning, Jenny's chidren by her previous marriage formed an important part of our relationship.  Only a few weeks after I first met Jenny, she introduced me to them. I called at 23 Camlet St., Mt Gravatt to pick them up. When I arrived in my Gemini wagon, Jenny came out with three tiny kids bobbing along behind her -- rather like a ship towing rowboats. Paul, Suzy and Vonnie got into the back seat of the Gemini and sat there in total silence as I drove along -- quieter than they have ever been since. Paul must have been about six and the twins four.

 Shortly after Jenny and I moved into Queen Bess St., all three came to live with us. So from that time on I saw quite a lot of the kids and made some contribution to bringing them up.

One amusing episode with Suzy was up in Cairns in 1987: Suzy had come up to Cairns with Jenny so was left in my care while Jenny was in hospital having Joey. Within hours of Jenny getting out of hospital, Ken, Maureen and family arrived to stay with us and see the baby.

While Ken, Maureen and everyone were sitting there talking, Jenny asked Suzy what it had been like with John looking after her. Suzy replied "John was a bully". This was greeted with a rather stunned silence by all concerned. The stereotypical evil step-parent no doubt occurred to all minds. Jenny then asked, however, "How was John a bully?". Suzy replied: "Because he wouldn't buy me a cream bun". She looked pretty puzzled at the gales of laughter this evoked. The episode does however tend to show two things: 1). How misleading the testimony of children could be; 2). The importance of cream buns. Suzy was 9 at the time.

I put in a roofed swimming pool at Queen Bess St. with the idea that fair-skinned people such as Susan and myself could swim without getting sunburned. The roof did however tend to make the pool rather cold and even a rudimentary solar-heating system that I installed did little to alleviate that. In the hot weather, however, the twins used to spend hours in the pool and even I used to get in around once a day.

It was also at Queen Bess St that we got a dog -- a female Bull-terrier named "Pepper". She was a rather weird dog but we enjoyed her greatly anyway. She functioned reasonably well as a watchdog in that she was a pretty good barker but if anyone had come in she would probably have only licked them to death. Bull-terriers look so mean, however, that nobody was likely to risk it. She had an unusually good coat for a bull-terrier -- mostly glossy black with splashes of white.

We had one or two barbecues and parties at 21 Queen Bess St but not a lot -- Though both Jenny and I and Ken and Maureen had our wedding receptions there.

Jenny and I were married on 30th. November 1985 at Ann St Presbyterian church -- my old church. The last of the major renovations (laying the verandah boards) at Queen Bess St were finished at 4pm that day and we were married at 5pm. Close!





A small note about a small point: I recognize the glass that I was drinking whisky out of. It is one of a sort that I use to this day: A large substantial tumbler. I have 10 of them.


The twins were there

The story of Jenny and me continues to this day in the year 2020 but here I just wanted to recall the complexities of our getting together. Jenny had a lot to put up with from my peripatetic nature in those early days. She is one of those heroic women who continue to support difficult men. Below you see us having Christmas dinner together in the year 2020 -- with our son Joe






29 July, 2021

A dinner visit from Roxanne

An extremely welcome visit this evening from my sister Roxanne and her husband Stefan. They had tried to get down from Rockhampton for my birthday but were put off by all the lockdown regulations.

They are both pretty voluble so the conversation flowed. He works as a part-time mechanic and she is a primary school teacher. She says the kids don't learn nearly as much these days as they once did. They live in gorgeous multi-level house with ocean views located just outside Rockhampton.

Rox and I have lived very different lives. She found her soul-mate in Stefan long ago and they have been pretty sufficient to one-another ever since. They are both very energetic and have never stopped working. So they are pretty well off. They have 3 gorgeous daughters now grown up. Rox and I get on pretty well but because of our different lives we rarely see one another.

A the time of the visit I was not feeling very well so I had to get back to my bed shortly after the dinner. Jenny made an excellent curry for us



28 July, 2021

My 4th marriage

Why someone would marry 4 times is probably a mystery to most so I thought perhaps that those who know me are owed some explanation

I have to say from the outset  that my relationship with K was an intensely sexual one and hence is not fit for publication (though I have my notes).  So I am to  degree leaving out the most significant parts of our times together

I met her on Sunday 3rd Sept., 1995 at 10.30 am. I was aged 50. She had placed a "Personal" advertisement in a singles circular called "Possibilities" describing herself as a "6' Amazon lady". Liking tall women as I do, I had to reply, though I felt at the time that a 6' woman would be unlikely to find me of interest as tall women are generally fanatical about not going out with men who are shorter than themselves.

I wrote to her in May but she took until September to ring me. We met in the Mall in central Brisbane, had a cup of tea there at Jimmy's cafe and then went for a walk in the Botanical gardens. It must have been less than an hour after we had met that we had a passionate kiss (in the Botanical gardens) and then walked with our arms around one-another through Brisbane to Central Railway Station -- outside which we had another very passionate and obviously public kiss: Not bad for people at our stage in life, when new relationships generally seem hard to form! I was soon very much in love with her, in fact.

K. has a self-image as being very kind, generous and helpful to all those she comes in contact with. I initially saw some evidence of that being true and it is of course something that I greatly respect. It immediately made me feel protective towards her. She was 47 at the time and a grandmother. She had two adult sons.

She had already been married and divorced three times when I met her. Both her children were from her first marriage. I seem to recollect that she mostly lived in Lithgow during her first marriage.

After her first marriage broke up, she had spent nine years as a member of the Army Transport Corps -- where she reached the exalted rank of Corporal! Her duties in the Army were mainly clerical -- she arranged Army travel -- but she did various courses and also became a qualified weapons instructor! She has the sort of conservative views that one normally expects from an Army background.

After leaving the Army she had been in Real Estate for about 10 years -- ending up running her own Real Estate business. About a year before I met her, however, she had had a minor traffic accident which made her very anxious and insecure and thus made it very difficult for her to drive. This crippled her activities in Real Estate and caused her to sell her agency.

In her teens and twenties she had been quite an athlete. She represented N.S.W. in TWO sports -- swimming and basketball. Her height, of course, made her a natural for basketball. In my earlier years I had always perceived that there were some pretty good-looking sporting women around but never could get near to any of them because of my own lack of ability and interest in sport. So in my 50s I was very pleased to get myself one of the best of such women.

Other things that I liked about her were: The fact that we had most attitudes in common -- including a liking for classical music; the strong animal attraction between us; that she is (in fact) 5'10 1/2" tall and strongly built; her erect military bearing, her classically female figure and her long red hair and green eyes. She is a very attractive woman in almost every way and is in fact very close in size and shape to Elle Macpherson -- one of the world's most photographed women. Most people took her for being at least ten years younger than she in fact was.

Amusingly, K. and I are not only exactly the same height but we also have the same hat, shoe and glove size, eat exactly the same amount at mealtime and weigh almost the same. She even fits perfectly into my dinner jacket and trousers! I am a lot bigger around the waist than she is but she has a bigger bum.

Amusingly, despite her size and tomboyish image, K. has typically feminine arachnophobia. I came into her room once to find her lying virtually paralysed in her bed because there was a big (but harmless) huntsman spider on the wall opposite her. It ran onto a picture frame as I walked in so I just took the frame off the wall and walked out carrying the said spider -- which I then deposited harmlessly in the garden. I do not usually kill things if I can help it -- cockroaches and mosquitoes excepted. K thought I was very brave to walk out carrying something that had a big brown spider running around on it! Horrors! K. being so full of jollity most of the time we have a lot of laughs too.

I met both her mother and father when they came to the wedding. Her mother is very dominant and her father is very quiet. He was an engineer of some kind and they were apparently fairly well off. They were living in the Newcastle area.

Our relationship had lots of dramas almost from the start with virtually weekly upsets between us but less than three weeks after we met she had moved into Forest St to live with me. Pretty good going for both of us! On 4th October she agreed to marry me -- one month and one day after we first met. We also set the wedding date for just about as soon as possible -- 10th November (1995).

I took her to The Clansmen to place an engagement ring on her finger on a Saturday in early October (The Clansmen is an expensive Scottish restaurant that is one of the most prestigious in Brisbane). I wore the kilt but I think she was the one who looked the most Scottish -- or Gaelic anyway as I think it is in fact mainly Irish ancestry that accounts for her looks.

I have seen the results of some IQ testing she did and she scored quite highly generally but was pulled down by an atypically low score on verbal IQ. She does tend to mix up her words a bit and I think that she is in fact mildly dyslectic. She has had little formal education

As a woman about to embark on her 4th marriage I am sure that radical feminists would regard K. as a great failure for feminism.

When one reflects that she was in the Army for 9 years, however, I think that one should say, quite to the contrary, that she is a far better feminist than most. She was a "man" among men and lived by their standards for all that time. She was on occasions the only women in camp with over 1,000 men -- and won their respect as a fellow soldier nonetheless. K. has shown in real life that she can live up to some of the most exacting of male standards for many years. How many of even the most butch feminists can claim the same? I don't see any of that as important myself but it could be a rather thought-provoking case-study for some feminists nonetheless.

Maybe some women might be helped to hear that a woman such as K. is still so totally feminine as to be swept off her feet by a man.

On another occasion when I booked a motorized Gondola (from Breakfast Creek) to take the two of us for a ride and dinner on the Brisbane river, she got dressed and went out in my black dinner jacket and trousers with the white torsolette underneath and NO blouse. With black high heels on she was quite a vision on that occasion too. She looked far better in my dinner outfit than I ever could! She looked particularly good in high heels not only because she had long legs but also because she was so tall already. Having someone so tall in heels made it very obvious that it was all done for fun and titillation. The heels nearly tripped her when she got into the Gondola, however.

K. loves boats so the Gondola ride with its private seafood dinner was just about the ultimate turn-on for her. I did as a result have a very loving long body in my arms in that Gondola.

My son Joey and K. got on very well. K. does have a way with kids -- mainly because she takes them seriously and tends to talk to them as if they were adults. She and Joey used to play computer games such as "Civilization" and "Genesia" together quite a lot -- which the 8 year old Joey loved! He was very pleased and keen to get K. as a stepmother.

The wedding was in St Paul's Anglican Church at Ipswich and went off very well except for the 38 degree heat. We had the original 1552 Anglican prayerbook service, which was great fun.

The reception was at home at 24 Forest St but had one rather large hitch: The caterers didn't turn up! Christopher (my brother) and I went and got lots of Kentucky Fried Chicken instead, which was very popular.

We spent our wedding night in a big two bedroomed air-conditioned apartment overlooking the river at Dockside and we both had a great time  that night. A bridegroom is supposed to feel that he is the happiest man in the world on his wedding night and I certainly did.

We had a very good breakfast the morning after in the restaurant at the Treasury casino too. The honeymoon was a week in Cairns. It was a bit stressful as she chose the first day of the honeymoon to give up smoking. We practically split up the first day as she was extremely tense and distant towards me. I put it down to nicotine deprivation, however, and we seemed to get over that hump OK. While we were up North, I took K. to see Etty Bay outside Innisfail and told her that it was my favourite place in all the world.

Shortly after we got back to Brisbane, however, she became quite irrationally hostile towards me. She seemed to want me to shut up and just pay the bills. That is more or less how her mother treats her father and she seemed to want to recreate the same sort of relationship with me. I am no saint, however, so would not abide that at all. I knew all along that she was fairly neurotic (which means that she over-responds emotionally to almost everything) but thought that I could deal with it. I was wrong.

What she finally walked out over (just three weeks after the wedding!) was fairly trivial but that is how neurotics are. She felt that I was "putting her down" in a remark I made -- even though I had no such intention. I would hardly want to put down the woman I loved!

Her response had a lot to do with that dreaded old status-sensitivity I suppose. My status as both a millionaire and an academic is unfortunately pretty intimidating to most people -- regardless of any attitudes or intentions on my part. Those whom the economic position doesn't intimidate, the educational background does -- and vice versa.

So on Thursday 30th November she moved back to her house at Leichhardt and went back on the dole amid considerable anger towards me. The only thing she seemed to want to talk to me about after that was money and she did get a bit out of me for the sake of peace: On 29th. November 1995, I gave her a cheque for $1828 to pay the arrears on her mortgage payments to the Dept. of Housing (the old "Housing Commission") on her house at Avon St., Leichhardt. The house was on the verge of being repossessed at the time.

Her car in fact had already been repossessed by that time so I also gave her my car (the Laser), though it was 11 years old by then so that even on a trade-in I would probably have got only about $2,000 for it. The general idea behind these gifts was to enable her to re-start life as a single person.

There certainly were many signs throughout our time together of her not loving me but at times she did seem to love me too. She even wanted to have a baby by me using donor eggs and we went and saw Dr. Hennessey (of the Qld Fertility Group) about it before the honeymoon.

K. and I did get together briefly a couple of times after we split up. One of those occasions was when she invited me to attend her graduation ceremony for a training course she had done. I went and it turned out that she had trained as a Prison Officer -- for guard work in a MEN'S prison (Borallon). She had to train in unarmed combat, riot control etc -- and passed! She was the only female in the course but still did well. Not bad for a grandmother! She always was an athlete, of course.

Anyway she was very friendly with me and went around arm in arm with me introducing me as her husband. She looked pretty good in her uniform and it was great to have my arm around that big body again. She soon got cross with me again, however, so we obviously just could not understand one-another. I always loved seeing her, however.

Most people would probably see my brief marriage to K. as something of a disaster but I think of it fondly as one of the best experiences I have had. Why? Largely, I guess, because K. was physically my ideal woman. I absolutely loved her looks. Just being with her turned me on. And having sex with your goddess is pretty hard to beat as a life-experience. Most men do NOT get to marry their physical ideal. I did!

Throughout our relationship, she always seemed to need to have a lot of money spent on her. I was however so taken with having such a Goddess in my life that I did not care one way or another about the financial side of it all.

During our time together, she did however often seem to love me and she certainly loved our sexual relationship. Even after our splitup, she once said to me: "I really loved you, you know." And I believe her.

Part of the reason why the marriage was so short-lived was my doing. By the time K. walked out on me I had met JHM. And that was also the experience of a lifetime. JH is the only woman I have known whom I consider to be my cultural equal. We share a similar awareness of high culture (Classical music, classical literature, history etc). An example:

She once asked me while she was reading something: "What does 'peynted' mean?". Give up? I didn't. After just a moment I replied "It is Middle English for 'painted'". Unbeknown to me JH was at the time trying to decipher a short Middle English poem and my answer was indeed what she needed.

So I probably could have got K. back after she walked out but I did not try. I was looking forward to getting to know JHM. I prioritized culture over great sex! Some women who know me well would not be surprised by that



My first marriage

It seems to me something of an anomaly that I have not put up here any memoir of my first wife. She and I remained in touch for many years so there is no reason for it.  And many of my recollections of her are rather fun

D. and I met at a Baroque Music Club meeting at Denis Ryan's place and one thing soon led to another. We lived together for a while before we got married. We first lived in a rented downstairs flat in Birriga Rd., Bellevue Hill.

D and I eventually decided to tie the knot . It was a registry office wedding on 9.2.1973.

Around the time we married, we bought together and subsequently lived in a small home unit at 1/27 Castlefield St, Bondi. We had a tabby cat there called "Purrfur".

I remember D. once asking me why it was that children always smile at me. "Do they?", was my response. I was unaware of it. I eventually figured out why, however. It was because I was smiling at them! I have always liked children.

D. also pointed out to me something else I did not know about myself -- that I changed my accent and way of speaking according to whom I am talking to. Among my University friends, I speak in an Educated Australian way but when talking to more working-class people such as petrol pump attendants (remember them?) I speak in a more Broad Australian way.

My tendencies of that kind are probably even more extensive than D. noted. In 1977 when I was living in England, the English were always saying to me what a "soft" accent I had. I spoke so much like them that they could hardly tell that I was an Australian, in other words.

D. was 18 months younger than me, so was another wartime baby. She was another of the many redheads in my life and was when I met her a science teacher at  a private girl's school in Sydney). She was about 5'7", had blue eyes, and was really lively.

She was fairly heavy and busty when I met her but she hated having any fat on at all and had quite a love-hate relationship with food. She did however eventually win the battle of the bulge and from about age 30 onwards she has been fairly skinny. She used to eat when she was upset so when she put on weight she used to claim that it was my fault for upsetting her!

Before I met her she used to ride motorbikes. So she had a tomboy element in her. I had a 200cc Yamaha two-stroke motor-bike (plus my Mazda 1300) when I met her and we later bought a light trail bike which we both rode.

Her mother was Scottish-born and D had some attachment to things Scots -- something we shared because of the Scottish traditions in my mother's family.

D. and I were in a way too alike in that we were both very dominant so the marriage broke up after a year.  I kept seeing her off and on after the breakup, however, as she is great fun to be with.

When I later married JP, she and I used to eat out all the time and D. was the one who most frequently joined us at these dinners. Pretty pally for an ex-wife! It shows that D. and JP got on very well but it also shows what fun company D. and I were for one-another. Not that we ever really saw eye to eye. She always thought I was a bit outrageous, in fact. She was however flexible enough to find that interesting and amusing.

Around that time D. had a boyfriend whom she "hid" from JP and me for about a year. She was afraid that I might look down on him. In fact I thought he was a good bloke when I eventually met him -- much to the relief of D. Funny relationships I sometimes have!

D. later took a Masters degree in psychology and became a government employee working with drug addicts. She is now very happily married to an American who finds her dominant ways just what Americans expect in women. He is a very nice bloke. 

She lives in Brisbane these days. In her later years she still had conventionally Leftist opinions -- such as a belief in global warming



Regula Muhlemann

I have just discovered a new (to me) singer whom I really like: young Swiss soprano Regula Muhlemann.  She quite young but has already made a splash.  She has a wonderful strong voice.

I first heard her singing Exultate jubilate which she made into the thing of joy that it was meant to be. She was also good in Et incarnatus est and a variety of other pieces

Her rendition of Schubert's Der Erlkoenig might not however win universal acclaim. It is a very jerky and hugely dramatic piece that you may have to know to appreciate what a superb job she did of it.  It is an old favorite of mine and I know all the words. And I can vouch that she suited her expression to every word.  It is  outstanding as acting as well as  musically









I am autistic

As a psychologist I have taken some interest  in autism.  I even took part in the big debates of a few years back about what it is and what causes it.  It had however never occurred to me that I might be one myself.  Recently, however two ladies who know me well assured me that I am "on the spectrum".  And it makes perfect sense.  I am fortunately at the better end of the spectrum.  I am a high-functioning autistic in most ways

Autism is always disabling.  Its key symptoms are communication difficulty and stimulus avoidance.  A lot of autistics don't even speak.  There is however a minority of autistics who have special "gifts" -- special abilities at a very high level -- most often in mathematics and music. Math and music are both very orderly and that can suit the autistic brain very well. The first thing that people usually notice about autistics is that they often have those freakish "gifts" 

I too have an unusual "gift" but in a different sphere:  I am eerily good at academic tasks.  I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation in 6 weeks for instance.  The average is about 3 years.  But academic gifts are not usually immediately obvious, so I think that a brief catalog of my unusual academic achievements might be in order to establish that I have been a lifelong autistic.

It all started in Grade 2.  Our "English" lessons consisted of the class repeatedly reading a story out of our school reading book until every pupil knew and understood every word in it.  And we could eventually all do that.  One kid would read one sentence and the next kid would follow with the next sentence and so on.

Then one day the teacher did a dastardly thing.  She asked us to close our reading books and tell the story as usual.  And all the kids could do that  -- except for me.  I had no idea what the next sentence was.  To the slack-jawed amazement of the other pupils, I was mightily praised for that.  The teacher realized that I was the only one who had actually been reading.  All the other pupils had simply been memorizing the story.

And I won't tell again here the story of the little boy blue. A bit too emotional for present purposes, I think.

And some time along the line my  my nickname became "the walking dictionary".  I unfailingly got 10 out of 10 in spelling tests. Another amusement from primary school days resulted from the fact that we were taught parsing. I don't think you learn parsing at all in some curricula these days. Anyway, at the end of a parsing lesson the teacher thought he would amuse himself by asking the class to parse "Please".  I thought for about two seconds and popped my hand up.  "Yes, John", the teacher rather wearily said. He knew that I would get it and spoil his puzzle.  I replied:  "Verb in the imperative mood with subject understood".  The rest of the class were slack-jawed at that but I was of course right.

Then in high school I was known as "the walking encylopedia"  --  because I always had the answer to anything the teacher might ask -- even in work we had not yet studied.

A one stage we were studying a poem by Conrad that referred to the "throbbing" of a ship's engine.  The teacher asked what would be the cause of the throbbing. I replied "Probably a triple-expansion marine steam engine".  "Yes, Yes", the teacher said and moved on hastily. Steam engine cycles were obviously not his thing.

 And something at the end of junior school was particularly striking. I arrived at the Junior German exam half way through the 3 hour period allotted to it.  I still finished it with 30 minutes to spare and got an A.

And for Senior High School I was unimpressed with the syllabus and decided to teach myself.  I did so in one year and got good marks in my Senior certificate.

In my first degree, my thesis was marked down by staff whom I knew did not like me but it eventually got published in one of the academic journals so I had the last laugh there. Published bachelor's dissertations are rare

For my Masters degree at USyd I had a full-time job but enrolled as a full-time student anyway and got through with honours in one year (normal minimum 2 years).

And my Ph.D. was no flash in the pan despite the rapidity of its writing.  One of the markers said it was the most substantial body of work he had ever seen in a Ph.D.  And it did lead to ten disparate academic journal articles so it was an exceptionally distinguished Ph.D. Just getting one journal article out of a Ph.D. is generally considered creditable.  So my autism took me right to the top of the academic tree.  My previous achievements pale into insignificance compared with it

And in later years I had nearly 300 learned papers published in the journals.  At one stage I was getting papers published at the rate of one a fortnight (normal output one  a year).  So I had an autistic "gift" at the highest level.

So what about the disabling  aspects of autism?  What were they in my case?

The first emerged while I was still a toddler.  On a few occasions I simply fell over in a heap in a blackout -- to the great alarm of my poor mother. I actually remember my last episode when I  was about 6.  I was home from school talking to my very verbose mother and was doing chin-ups at the same time. I suddenly fell on the floor blacked out.  She of course took me to the doctor early on in my episodes who quite reasonably diagnosed petit mal epilepsy. 

But was it epilepsy I had?  In my late teens I consulted a specialist physician about it.  He said:  "If you have had no episodes in the last 15 yrs, you did not have it in the first place", which is reasonable.

So I think that what I had were autistic episodes.  To explain that however, I need to make a brief foray into the neurology of autism.  It is mainly caused by an overdeveloped cerebral cortex, one amusing side-effect of which is that autistic people tend to take rather large hat sizes!

So the large cortex admits and handles a large variety of stimuli.  But sometimes the rest of the brain cannot cope with all the stimuli and registers distress.  And that is where autistic stimulus-avoidance comes in.  The autistic brain protects itself from the stimulus flood in various ways, not always very adaptively.  Mostly the autistic simply leaves the field for a less stimulating environment but if that is not possible the brain will simply protect itself by blacking out.  Blackouts are not terribly uncommon so one does not always lead to a diagnosis of autism.  There is however some folk wisdom which usually leads bystanders to move the blacked out person to a quieter place and that is exactly what is needed.

And that is what happened to my toddler brain.  Being very young, all its capabilities were limited so if there was a lot going on around it it, it would simply black out.

My limitations also  came to the fore early in my schooling. Right from early primary school I hated sport. Almost all males have some interest in sport.  But to me chasing around in circles after a ball seemed simply foolish. It seemed like needless and prolonged complexity.  It does to this day.  So I was and am clearly quite abnormal there.

Another problem area was when my parents took me to the local agricultural show.  All the barkers and raucous music were soon  too much for me and I would tell my mother "Mum, my head is going funny".  Given my record of blackouts that got me taken straight home, to my relief. What had happened was that at some point all stimuli started coming to me as if from far away. It was an autistic filter and the preliminary to a blackout

I handled the uncongenial world about me while growing up by withdrawal:  While other kids were doing active things, I was a "bookworm". I spent most of my waking hours at home reading, mostly fiction but some non-fiction. That was unoubtedly bad for my social development but I eventually caught up with that well enough for most purposes

As I grew up, however, my ability to handle chaotic stimuli improved.  I could tolerate it for relatively long periods -- about two hours to be precise. 

And that limited capacity to handle a lot of sensory stimulus is with me to this day. In going to parties over the years I was notorious for leaving early.  Two hours was and is about my limit.  And the noisier the party the sooner I leave.  I was often told that by leaving early I missed good opportunities with women.  But I had other ways around that. I don't need parties to find congenial women

And that is what high-functioning autistics do.  They find ways around their limitations and usually do so with some success -- so that the limitations are usually barely noticed and are no problem.  There are only certain situations that are diagnostic

EPILOGUE:  I sent Anne the above essay and asked how  it fitted in to her observations of me.  She made one very good point.   She said that in the early years of our relationship I would not normally look at her when I spoke to her. I do remember that and it is of course classical autistic stimulus avoidance. Fortunately in more recent years I have stopped doing that

I suppose in conclusion, I should note that although I do have a social deficit, it is not of a crippling kind.  The large number of lovely ladies I have had as girlfriends (including 4 wives!) over the years must indicate a substantial degree of social skill




A small photography exhibit

I am not a great photographer but sometimes I get the spirit

Recently, I decided that I should get some record of the big paint job I had done on my house.  It had not been painted for 30 years so it was a challenge for the painters.  And it is a big house so took some painting -- ending up costing me over $30,000.  So below are a couple of shots of the results

Note Vladimir keeping his usual eye on proceedings

 


I saw Anne a usual on Saturday morning and thought she looked particularly nice.  I have previouly taken shots of her that were pretty poor so I though I should take care to get better ones this time.  Below are three shots I like











Isn't she a lovely lady?





Next is a picture of three people at my birthday dinner, Joe, Christopher and Henningham.  And a picture of my birthday cake -- a Pavlova











15 July, 2021



A birthday celebration

My birthday dinner went well.  Present were:

* Jenny, ex-wife, carer and hostess with the mostest.  She fed us a mild Keema (curry) that I particularly like and which seemed to go down well generally.  And later she presented us with a large Pavlova for pudding.  Pavlova is a favourite of mine too

* Joe, son, who lit all my oil lamps for me

* Brother Christopher, who helped with the music in various ways

* Old friend from the 70s John Henningham, who was his usual jocular self and helped liven us all up

* Jill, an ex-girlfriend who never went away.  We split up when I was around 60 but continued a close friendship.  We are both high culture people and the affinities between us were too strong to be forgotten.  We normally still see one-another for birthdays.  It's typical of what is between us that her birthday card to me centred around a quotation from Shakespeare


Graham was trapped in Victoria by the lockdowns and Anne was too ill to attend.  Anne did however manage to come over that afternoon for an hour or so  -- which was greatly appreciated.

I had an apology from my sister Roxanne.  She was going to drive down from Rockhamption but the virus restrictions freaked her.

We listened to a lot of music, mostly the more accessible end of the classical repertoire.  No booze.  As she usually is, Amira Willighagen was a great hit singing Puccini's "O babbino caro"

I also had a very loving email from Paris, France, which was the highlight of my day -- as that was from a lady I haven't seen for 55 years.  Feelings can be very enduring and overcome many obstacles







13 July, 2021

The time I won a heart by singing a Nazi song

This happened over 50 years ago so perhaps I can risk mentioning it now

I was at the time a member of a folk-music club at which everyone was welcome to get up and sing if they wanted to.  I decided I would like to give it a go.

I was never a good singer so I had very little in the way of repertoire.  But I had been very interested in history since even my pre-teen years and the one big historical event that we were -- and still are -- constantly belaboured with was WWII and the Nazi era.  So I knew a lot about that.  I even had a record of Nazis speeches and songs with explanatory comments

Through playing that record many times, I had come to know a couple of the songs on it well.  So it was one of those songs that I decided to sing:  The Horst Wessel Lied, the song of the Nazi Brownshirts. I thought it was a good song musically. It was  bold of me to sing it as it did anger some of the audience

There was however in the audience an attractive little lady singer who had not noticed me at all up to that point.  She thought my singing was crap but was positively impressed by my self confidence in standing up in front of an audience and doing something unpopular.  No woman wants a wimp and  I was obviously in the opposite direction to that. So we were soon in communication -- leading to a rather raunchy relationship.

There is a recording of the song here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT8RPphCtiw

Incidentally, the Horst Wessel Lied does not mention Jews.  It is basically an anti-Red song. I am very philosemitic so I would never have sung any anti-Jewish song.







10 July, 2021

Cantor Julia Cadrain

On Saturday morning I took the opportunity of introducing Anne to some Jewish music, with the Kol Nidrei starting us out. The Kol Nidrei is probably the most evil religious text ever written but it is sung in Aramaic so  people can just enjoy the music without bothering about what it all means.  And it is so powerful musically that it could have been written by the Devil himself.

But the big surprise was when I went on to some other pieces of music from the Central Synagogue in New York. 

With no prior knowledge of her at all, I came across the singing of Cantor Julia Cadrain on the bimah.  I was transfixed.  She had probably the most powerful female voice I have ever heard.  And yet it was completely sweet singing as well.  And you can feel the love in her singing.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpAcLZs97dA

I was tearful and incoherent after hearing it all.  It was so wonderful.  Fortunately Anne was there to sympathize with me.

The song itself is just another mish mash from Leonard Cohen called "Who live by Fire".  It probably means something but it is not clear what.  But it sounds good. Like the Kol Nidre, it is best not to bother with what the words mean

Update: There is a good version of the Kol Nidrei from the Central Synagogue sung by Cantor Mo Glazman.  See:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyMWiGvhndY





4 July, 2021

Recent

Death from cancer is usually a slow business and so it seems to be with me.  I am however living as close to my usual life as I can -- and part of that is of course seeing Anne once a week, usually on Saturday mornings.  We have continued to enjoy doing that but I don't always report it here as what we do does not always vary a lot.

One thing  I often do is to bring along some novelty item -- usually a piece of jewellery that I think Anne would like.  

Below are two recent items -- a set of ceramic napkin rings originating from he Philippines and a filigree sterling  silver set of earrings and a pendant from England  The filigree set is a very fine piece  of work and the napkin rings should help dress up Anne's dining table next time she has a dinner party.











Last Saturday, the novelty I had on show was something I bought for myself -- a fancy bedside clock.  I now have 5 clocks in my bedroom.  I wonder if that is enough?

The battery in the clock gave us a bit of a drama. It was flat and nothing like Jenny or I had seen before.  It transpired however that it was a clock battery --  a battery especially made for small clocks. We got one from Battery World





19 June, 2021

Bad news

It now seems clear that I am dying.  It has not been as soon as I thought but it is relentless.

For over a year now what I can do physically has been diminishing.  The distance I can walk gets ever less. And now I can only just barely get up my front stairs

I had hoped that the immunotherapy might at least stop the decline but that has not happened. I will probably linger on for a little while yet but I am in good hands with Jenny and Joe as live-in carers so I should be as comfortable as possible.

It's amusing how life goes on, however.  I went to see my doctor last Thursday.  Dr Gahlot is an Indian lady who always impresses me by her wisdom. As I was leaving recently, however,  She said:"It is always a pleasure to see you, John". I am not quite sure what I did to deserve that.  She is a very pleasant lady. Jai Hind!





10 June, 2021

The recovery has begun

Or I hope it has, anyway.  I had the first shot of the immunotherapy drug this morning. It took only 30 minutes and was no drama.  Jenny and Joe both accompanied me into the treatment room. So my cancers should slowly fade away from now on

The oncologist was cautiously optimistic of a full recovery but there are no guarantees of course. There are three shots at  three weekly intervals, each costing $6,000  Neither the government nor my health fund contribute, as it is still formally in clinical trial.  Fortunately, I saved all my life for old-age expenses.

I am still in a bad way with stomach pains and general  weakness so far so I will really appreciate it if I do get better.  I am looking forward to having real dinners again instead of mush

Jenny had a birthday a little while ago.  I was too enervated to put anything up at the time but I did get Joe to run me in to where I could buy her some flowers.  See below.







27 May, 2021

A reprieve

The core biopsy I had last week showed that my cancers are of a type that is susceptible to immunotherapy. My oncologist has recommended a drug which should cure me -- no certainty of course.  The cure will be a rather long road requiring at least 4 months so no early results can be expected.  There is however now hope that I could be back to my old form until something else gets me -- JR





23 May, 2021

The Fentanyl kid

I am now a fentanyl kid.  I had a dose of it a few days go. It was originally a powerful surgical anaesthetic but is better known these days as a very risky drug of addiction.  The sainted George Floyd likely died of it.  I have never used ANY drug of addiction so my dose was legitimate

It first came to widespread notice when Kristin Rossum used it to kill her husband Greg de Villiers in the year 2000.

In my case It was used in conjunction with Midazolam to knock me out while I was having a core biopsy on the cancers in my stomach.  The biopsy was to find out if my cancer type was amenable to any further treatment. The chances were dim but you never know. I am in constant but low level pain so I just want a way out.



9 May, 2021

Mothers' day

I had breakfast with two mothers:  Jenny and Suzy. Jenny cooked it and served it on my verandah.  Also there were Kate and Joe.

Jenny made everyone scrambled eggs plus small pieces of tomato and avocado. It looked very nice. I decided to cook my own brekky in the form of savoury mince boosted up by a couple of flavour sachets. The boost really worked.  The mince was almost TOO tasty.

Anyway it was great to have Suzy there and we heard a lot about NZ generally and Invercargill in particular.  It's surprisingly expensive to live there. Russell's large new shed also got a mention.

Then that evening, Jenny, myself, Joe and Suzy had dinner together. They had a Thai chicken dish and I finished off my  mince. The mince was pretty brown by then so as I entered, I said, "My dinner looks like poo"! That cracked everyone up and lightened the mood generally





8 May, 2921

A surprisingly good day

Yesterday (Friday) was a shocker. I was a zombie for most of the day, barely able to walk and to talk. It was probably because I had gone off the Tramadol. So I took some last night and woke up after a lot of sleep feeling relatively well. Once again being able to walk and talk.  I was even able to abandon my walking stick for most of the day.

The rebound in my form came on a good day. Saturday was, as usual, my morning with Anne.  Anne had cooked some savoury mince for our brekky and brought it over. So breakfast was fine and I kept it down, unlike last time.

After that we had our usual nice time of lying down together and listening to classical concerts.  We discussed her finances at some length. She has a small amount to invest.  My suggestion was that she buy shares in the banks

Anne left at 1pm.  My present to her that day was a can of Brasso, which she wanted for her oil lamp.




4 May, 2021

An ersatz day

<i>Ersatz</i> is a German word meaning "replacement" and today (Tuesday) was a replacenent for what Anne and I would normally have done last Saturday.  Anne and her sister wanted to go to Currumbin for the weekend. So I was happy to replace that day.

It started badly. Jenny had made Anne and me some nice scrambled egg and bacon for brekky but I chucked mine up half way into it.

We shrugged that off however and went on to the next item on our normal simple agenda: Lying down and listening to music -- which went well, despite the bad start to the day

I skipped lunch and managed to keep my dinner down.





29 April, 2021

A mixed day

The day started out rather unusually.  I slept most of it. A number of other factors caused both Jenny and me to suspect that I had a urinary tract infection.  I get those occasionally. So I got a lot of cranberry juice into me. Cranberry is very good at killing UTIs.

For dinner that night Jenny gave me savoury mince - cooked my way. It worked well. I had an awful night after that, with nausea, constipation, stomach pains and vertigo making a very unpleasant combination.  I woke up in the morning feeling fairly well, however.



27 April, 2021

David Isaac

I am not much into receiving visitors these days but I received from David, a Sydney anesthesiologist, a call saying that he was a keen follower of my writings and wanted to come up to Brisbane to meet me in person while that was still possible.  In the circumstances, I told him I would see him tonight.  Jenny kindly made us both a cup of tea.

It was an unusual meeting. He spent 95% of the time telling me about himself and the political writers he had been reading recently. They were all far-Right and I am guessing that he hoped I was one of them. I do make comments about race and IQ at times so it was an understandable mistake on his part.  My interest in those topics is largely academic, however. I have in print quite a lot of academic journal articles on those topics.

It is in fact amazing that mentioning the low average IQs of African-Americans does not get me "cancelled".  But I think that the clearly academic character of my writing saves me from that fate.



24 April, 2021

An especially good Saturday

Saturday morning is my usual time to see Anne. And this Saturday, Anne drove herself over to my place. She has now served her period of penance due to her stroke.  I was not in much pain after my fall and was mainly bothered by my persistent vertigo.  Anne and I spent most of our time together lying down and listening to Bach, however, that was only a small problem. We still had a nice time.  Jenny made us  a good brekky.

But that afternoon Graham arrived unannounced and unexpectedly. He evidently wished to see me before I died and thank me for my life. With constant travel restrictions between Queensland and Victoria, that was wise.  Anyway, Joe joined us for a good chat on my verandah. The George Floyd matter was much discussed





23 April, 2021

Diary of a decline

Fri 16 April vertigo onset

Sat 17 April Morning with Anne.  George drives her here in our Prado at 7:20am, Jenny makes us breakfast. Despite vertigo, we have our usual nice time together. George collects Anne 1:30pm

Anne with Ganesha



Sun 18 April Bad fall in bathroom due to vertigo.  Hurt my Left side

Mon 19 April Saw Dr Gahlot to get Stemetil for vertigo. Abandoned dining out that night

Tue 20 April Lamplit dinner



Wed 21 April Saw Dr Gahlot about pain from fall. Now taking 200mg  Tramedol daily 

Thu 22 April Joe buys an electric goanna with my assistance

Fri 23 April Waiting for ailment progression. Mostly sleeping






16 April, 2021

The end is nigh

My stomach cancer did NOT respond to the lutetim test so that hope of recovery is gone.

I did seem to be undergoing some sort of spontaneous recovery yesterday.  I  even had enough energy to put up my political blogs

This morning, however I have woken up with a disabling case of vertigo. It has  however improved a little over the day so far so I will just have to see how that goes.  But with the fail of the lutetium test I don't have long to go anyway.

Jenny and Joe are with me 24/7 so I am well looked after.  I will in any case die amid love and that may be the best anyone can ask




5 April, 2021

A good Easter

Despite living in the shadow of death from cancer, I still enjoyed my Easter.  The highlight was of course the Saturday morning I spent with Anne but subsequent events have been good too.

On Sunday morning Jenny organized a family brunch.  Present were Jenny, myself, Joe, Katie, Timmy and his wife Rachel.  Timmy is strictly not a relative but I helped bring him up and have always thought highly of him.  He is now a very pleasant young man.  His young wife Rachel is gorgeous and she has recently presented him with a baby boy -- Liam. Photo below. 







Much of the conversation centred about Timmy's planned trip to the UK.  He is optimistic that all the COVID restrictions will have eased by the time he gets there.  If a change in the regulations "traps" him there he is not concerned.  He has a British passport so can work there.  He is looking forward to seeing Paul and his other relatives

Jenny put on a Canadian breakfast with pancakes, good bacon and real Maple syrup

Then that afternoon Jenny came over to my place and we went out for dinner. We went to the "Bollywood" which is now called "Spice Avenue". It still has first class Indian food. We had Tandoori chicken, samosas etc. We were the only customers there so got good service

Then this morning (Monday) Joe came over for breakfast and we  went to our old brekky haunt -- the Yeronga pie shop.  I had an excellent lamb and Rosemary pie. We mostly talked about American politics, as usual.  The trial of Derek Chauvin was much discussed.  That he will get a fair trial seems very doubtful.

And tonight Jenny is making me -- at my request -- savoury mince on toast for dinner.  She does good savoury mince.   On Mondays we often go to Nandos but they close early today.



3 April, 2021

A poignant occasion

This morning, Anne and I got together for our usual Saturday morning. It was the first time that we met after my cancer diagnosis so it was a very sad occasion. But I won't go into detail about that

We went to the Wynnum Coffee Club for our breakfast, with me having my usual flat grill and Anne having the vego big breakfast. We parked close by and got good seats so it worked pretty well and we did have our usual jolly breakfast together

Afterwards we went back to her place and lay about listening to music as is our custom. Despite the bad news the magic between us did still happen and it was a good morning overall.

When I gave Anne the necklace I had bought her recently, she put it on straight away and we got a photo of her with it on just as I was leaving









2 April, 2021

An interesting Easter Friday

Last Tuesday I had a CAT scan of my stomach that revealed a large number of enlarged lymph nodes around the stomach.  They were obviously cancerous and were clearly well advanced for there to be so many of them.  So my life expectancy was obviously sharply reduced, but by how much is as yet unknown.  I have been feeling very poorly and weak but my weight has come down to 94kg so that is a compensation of sorts. I was up to 120kg at one stage.  I am in only slight and intermittent  pain from it

I told everyone about the scan and partly in consequence of that Joe came over this morning to have breakfast with me.  He wanted to spend time with his father while he can.  Since most other places were closed for the Holy day, we went to Maccas. 

We had a very lengthy talk about the big interest we have in common: American politics.  Although we both know the same facts, there was a difference in our conclusions about the matter.  Joe takes a very long-term view of where American politics are going whereas my horizons are pretty well limited to the mid-terms.  It seems possible that the GOP may regain control of the House at that time, which would spike Biden pretty well. Joe thinks that the Democrat party will eventually implode and lose power as a result of that

Anyway it was a great chat that I much enjoyed so it helped lift my mood considerably.

Then at 3pm my kindly brother came over at my request bringing with him my late mother's collection of family photos.  I thought that some might seem worth putting online.  I enjoyed seeing many of them and I have picked out three that seemed of particular interest.  

The first is of my sister "Jack" (Jacqueline) when she was a kid.  It is a good photo of her and is one of the few remaining traces of her life.  She was born 14.9.1945, died of breast cancer in her '60s and had no children. She was in general a good and kind person and remained good friends with Gary Ward, her ex-husband, for the whole of her life. He was there at her deathbed.  So I am not the only one in the famiy who keeps good relationships with former partners.  My other two siblings are still with their original partners.



Next is a photo of my mother and father in their younger days sitting in a vintage car -- a Whippet maybe. It looks like it had a dicky seat so  would have been "sporty" in its day.



And the third family photo is one I find mildly hilarious.  My father was described as a "bit of a lair" in his youth -- i.e. he enjoyed dressing fashionably.  You see both him and my mother in the photo. What gets me is the hat.  It is a super formal one -- maybe a Homburg. He wore it convincingly.



And Jenny came over tonight to share dinner.  I had asked her to dig out what she could of photos taken in her younger days.  When I met her she was already a mother of three so showed some effects of that.  Since she still looked pretty good at that age, however, I guessed that she must have looked rather  gorgeous in her teens. No good photos of her teenage self have survived but the photo of her below when she as about 11 gives a very good hint of how good she would have looked a few years later.







27 March, 2021

A restoration

When you are emotionally close to someone, being apart for just a week can feel like a long time. Due to her stroke, Anne and I were recently apart for TWO weeks! We were due for our usual Saturday meeting one week ago but she was at that time feeling effects from the stroke and not up to any meeting. But today was back to normal or nearly so.

She is walking very well with only a slight limp. I drove out to her place this morning. While she was in hospital I wanted to do the usual thing and take up flowers and chocolates to her -- but COVID restrictions at that time barred all visitors. So I took roses and some Lindor chocolates to her this morning instead. I liked the bright colour of the flowers and it would seem that Anne liked them too as she has just sent me a picture of them. It is a good memoir of our meeting

We went to "Taste the Aroma", a cafe at West Wynnum for our breakfast and it was very good.



25 March, 2021

High-profile Qld eisteddfod’s sudden shut down

This is very sad. The Brisbane Eisteddfod has been fading for some time. But for many years it was an opportunity for country people to send their children to the "big smoke" where they could get their talents a wider audience

I well remember the excitement at my country school many years ago when it was announced that some kid was off to the eisteddfod. The teacher and mother concerned were always as proud as punch and the kids were full of anticipation

There is still a Gold Coast eisteddfod: https://www.goldcoasteisteddfod.com.au/




News report:



The Queensland arts world has been left shocked by the announcement that one of the state’s premier Eisteddfods was folding due to a lack of support.

The long-running Brisbane Eisteddfod has announced it will fold after 129 years of performances.

The Eisteddfod, which every year provides young performers the chance to showcase their talents in music, dance and drama, has confirmed the closure due to a “loss of relevance”.



23 March, 2021

Health update for Anne

Anne has recovered remarkably well from her stroke. She is walking on her own two feet despite her left leg now being a bit weak.

She is going to Pilates for a modified session today.

So she and I have agreed to restore our regular meetings next Saturday. I will drive out to her place and we will go to breakfast at somewhere out her way.

I am mightily pleased that even a stroke separated us for only one week



20 March, 2021

Coping with stroke

Last Monday afternoon, Anne had a stroke, fortunately a minor one

I was distraught when I heard of it but thought it through and ended up reasonably serene about it

Anne was gardening when her left leg gave way and she fell. Fortunately George was nearby so got her promptly to medical attention. That probably helped limit the damage.

It appears that only her leg is affected and she has already had substantial recovery. She got out of hospital on Friday.

That did mean that our usual Saturday morning arrangements were ruled out. We have been breakfasting together on Saturday mornings with very few exceptions for 15 years so that was sad for me.

Fortunately, Irene turned up at breakfast and we had a good chat. After breakfast Jenny took me on an OpShop tour so that was interesting. So my Saturday morning was not so bad after all

At one of the OpShops I bought Anne yet another necklace. She does wear black a bit so it should go with something



Update: Anne liked the necklace. "It will get plenty of wear", she said



16 March, 2021

A lamplit dinner

Given the cooler weather, we decided to eat at our indoor dining area. Some of my oil lamps are set up there so I decided to light them. With all the electric lights out, they were a bit inadequate by themselves so I lit the candles too. That gave us a perfectly adequate light to have our dinners by. So the photo below is not bad, considering the rather low light level that it was taken by.





15 March, 2021

Some congenial new arrangements

Jenny and I have set up a new routine for Sunday and Monday. She spends most of Sunday afternoon at my place, culminating in my taking her to dinner on Sunday evening. She stays overnight then on Monday morning we go on an outing and catch brunch at some time during the outing. It's an arrangement that seems to suit both of us well.

Last Sunday night we were going to the Burmese at Stone's Corner but they were temporarily closed so we went to the Greeks next door -- the good old Kafe Meze. In keeping with my shrunken appetite these days all I ordered for myself was a particularly good entree, Taramasalata. It is served with pita bread so was plenty filling for me. Jenny had a prawn salad which she liked. It looked a good dinner.



Then on Monday, we had a particularly varied morning. We went out to Anne's place and had a look at some oil lamps George had for sale. I bought two very nice big ones.

We then went for a drive in the Prado, which is kept at Anne's place. It was my first trip in it. Jenny drove as she is used to modern cars whereas I am not. Cars have what is for me a bewildering range of gadgets these days. For 60 years I have driven cars that have no instruments other than a speedo and a fuel gauge but the modern world is hugely more complex than that.

The Prado was smooth and comfortable as you would expect from one of Toyota's best-selling cars. It was far too chatty for me though. It seemed to be talking to us every five minutes, which was disruptive of conversation. Jenny's car talks to her too but not as much. I was a bit surprised that I could hear the Prado's motor ticking over but I eventually realized that it was because the Prado is a diesel.

We had a picnic lunch at our usual spot at North Wynnum. Jenny had bought me an egg and lettuce sandwich from the Fiveways bakery which was very good. Jenny had some gluten-free stuff.

We then visited the Wynnum disposal shop and a couple of OpShops. We both got a few things that we liked

At the disposal shop I bought another lamp to match one I already have. So on the sideboard in my bedroom I now have a matching pair of them.





I also bought a rather strange pocket knife at the disposal shop. No idea what I will do with it.



At one of the OpShops Jenny found some CDs that she had been looking for. We got home about midday.



9 March, 2021

Jewellery finds

When I see a piece of jewellery that I think would look good on Anne I buy it for her. And I seem to be tuned in enough to her taste to buy things for her that she will like.

The first below is a very fancy necklace that I bought her a couple of weeks ago and the second is a bracelet that I have just bought and which she has not yet seen









UPDATE: Anne says the bracelet "Looks very classy", so my feeling for her taste is still working



2 March, 2021

OpShopping

Jenny and I are both dedicated opshoppers. I believe OpShops are called "Thrifts" in the USA while in Britain they are simply called charity shops.

Anyway, Brisbane has lots of them and Jenny knows most of them. I know only the ones local to me. Neither Jenny nor I go there to make important purchases. We just like seeing odd and unusual things and may buy something we really like it. The beauty of such shops is that their stock is always changing so they are forever new. It's a great mistake to see something there and think you will pick it up tomorrow. By tomorrow it may well be gone.

Anyway, Jenny took me out to see some of her favourite destinations recently and I made some local forays by myself. And we did pick up a few small items.

The most surprising was a miniature pocket knife that I thought would make a good keyring. The most surprising thing about it was the price. It was one of their "free" items. I looked for trademarks etc on it but could find none. I did however find some very tiny writing on the knife blade. I had to get a 10x lens to read it but it simply said "China. stainless". I liked the fact that it included a small Philips head screwdriver.

A strangely satisfying buy was two teacups. For years I was a bit bothered that I had a set of saucers and side plates but no cups to go with them. The cups were presumably broken long ago. So I was surprised and pleased to find in one shop two cups of the same pattern. So I suddenly had a new teaset. I have lots of teasets but I do like this one

And I also had one quality buy: A set of heavy crystal wine glasses from France. I have very little crystal so I was pleased to catch up a little.





Voila!



23 February, 2021

An interesting day

Jenny drove us down to Wynnum for a picnic brunch by the sea. The tide was in and we sat in a shelter right beside the sea so it worked well. Jenny made a frittata for our picnic food, which was good

After that we made a trip to the Wynnum disposals shoup. My old hurricane lamp had corroded to the point of unusability so I wanted a new one. They did have a couple for me to choose from. The one I bought was brand new from China. It was a touch smaller than the old ones.

While I was there, I saw that they also had a kerosine table lamp. I already have three such lamps so it was a welcome addition to my collection.



Then that night I received a scam email that surprised me. The text of it was the usual guff but two of the attached pictures took my attention. One was of a black lady who struck me as rather attractive. Since I normally like Nordic looks in women that was a surprise. I went to tineye.com to find out who she was but tineye simply showed me that it was a picture that had been used in many scams



The scammer also attached a picture of a very attractive bouquet. I checked that on tineye too and got a report that it had previously been used on over 5,000 sites!





21 February, 2021

A good weekend

Saturday morning was my usual morning with Anne. As usual we breakfasted with the Phams.

After breakfast we made our usual weekly pilgrimage to Vinnies. We did unusually well there. I bought Anne a necklace featuring very fancy glass beads and I bought three things for myself: A two tier cake stand that goes with some of my other crockery, some silver rings for serving dinner napkins and two drinking glasses of a rare heavy type that I like.



Then for Sunday lunch, I invited Jill and Lewis to the Phams. It was in celebration of Jill's birthday and the Phams have lots of good things on the menu. Anne and I had omelettes and Jill and Lewis both had the calamari with chips and salad. Jill and Anne talked a lot to one-another as they usually do and Lewis piped up a lot too. It was a very relaxed and congenial dinner and I was very glad to shout.

Jill was nicely dressed in a lacy white top and white slacks while Lewis was wearing one of his colourful festive shirts.

As is often the case these days, I did not have enough appetite to finish my meal but in breach of all motherly dicta, I nonetheless decided to have a dessert, I bought a peanut and chocolate slice from the display cabinet that I took home and halved it with Anne later on. It was so rich that half of it was plenty.

Before I left Buranda, I bought Anne a big bunch of flowers from Woolworths. They were in lieu of the flowers that I would like to have given her on Valentine's day. Anne of course celebrated the day with George. Apparently he did come to the party to some extent.



As I was handing the flowers to Anne, she said: "Life is good to us, isn't it, John?" I replied. "It is, sweetheart".



Anne had recently had some pesky surgery

And to cap off the day, I weighed myself this evening and am down to 100kg. I was 105 only about 6 weeks ago. So my dietary restrictions are working



At my request, Anne gave me a picture of the Prado with George driving





18 February, 2021

A renovated nose

For a few months now I have had some nasty looking skin cancers on my nose. Which made me feel very unpresentable. But Sandy got her magic nitrogen spray gun onto them a couple of weeks ago and the resultant scabs have just come off -- leaving a perfectly respectable nose. Voila.





17 February, 2021

Computer conniptions

I have owned a laptop for some time. I bought it for the next time I go into hospital. Hospital is leadenly boring to me without computer access. And I have now got the laptop set up so that I can use it as if I were using my desktop machine.

But I find the screen a bit small for my old eyes and I greatly dislike the limited keyboard. For use at home, however, those limits are easily bypassed. You just plug in a USB keybord and a USB Monitor and use those instead of the ones inbuilt to the laptop.

Like a lot of things however, doing it is not as easy as it sounds. The keyboard was no problem. I got one from Jaycar, (who have a shop just around the corner from me), plugged it in to a port on the laptop and it worked perfectly. The monitor was the problem.

I had an old VGA monitor and wanted to plug that in. Problem: The video output from the laptop was in the modern HDMI format. No problem, I thought. I dropped into Jaycar again and bought a video converter. It didn't work. It worked using Joe's laptop but not using mine. Joe spent a lot of time messing about trying to get it going but no luck.

So we gave up the fight, put my VGA monitor back in the garage and went to JB Hi to buy a HDMI monitor. We got one for $148, which was very reasonable. It was a small one at that price but I was using it at close quarters and the HDMI was crystal clear so that was fine. I now use the laptop a lot more comfortably.



The result

I note that Officeworks no longer advertise desktop machines. It is all laptops these days. So maybe I am in fashion to get the usability of my laptop maximized.



14 February, 2021

V-day

The fears about bleeding from my Friday surgery did not eventuate but I had to stay at home on Saturday. Anne cooked me some porridge for breakfast and we followed up with croissants. I always like a dish of porridge.

But by the time Sunday came around it was clear that there was going to be no problem from the surgery so I was able to give Jenny a good St. Valentine's day.

On the morning of the day Jenny made me bacon and scrambled eggs for breakfast and I gave her a card and some nougat. I also gave her some chocolate but it turned out not to be gluten free so I was glad the nougat was OK in that department. Jenny was even pleased about the tin the nougat came in.

Jenny chose her own flowers and bought a big bunch of small ones.



The photo is Jenny's composition. She has removed the smaller flowers and has managed to include in the picture both the card I gave her plus the tin of nougat



That evening we went to the Burmese restaurant at Stone's Corner, which we both knew to be good. I had roast duck and Jenny had a sizzling seafood platter. Both came with lots of good vegies.

So we both liked our dinner. The duck was good and Jenny enjoyed her sizzle.



And we rounded off the evening at home afterward when Jenny made me a NCOT (nice cup of tea).

I asked Jenny would she like me to open a bottle of champagne for the occasion but she declined

For any slight interest it may have, I have gathered together a few of my past reports of my Valentine's day celebrations

When Jenny and I were married many years ago, I always used to give her flowers on the day. I have only twice given my heart to a woman -- to Jenny and to Anne. So I am much blessed that both ladies are still very much in my life




12 February, 2021

A frightful Friday

A rather large and nasty skin cancer sprang up on the heel of my right foot -- a difficult place for surgery. It was getting sore, however, so it had to go. Dr. Sandy had a close look at it and thought it would need a graft. I tend to lose grafts however so that was no solution.

She then told me that there was only one plastic surgeon who could probably deal with the problem without a graft: Dr. D.

Unfortunately however I already knew Dr. D. well. He is undoubtedly a skilled plastic surgeon but two of his previous surgeries on me started to bleed shortly thereafter. Some bleeding was no problem but this was uncontrolled bleeding -- which is distinctly worrisome

Not long ago, he did an excision on my left ear only for me to wake up next morning with blood all over my pillow. Fortunately, Anne was staying over that night so I had some help and after a couple of false starts I got Dr Templeman onto the job. He fixed it with Anne assisting. But we had a distressing morning first.

So I was reluctant to go under the knife with Dr D. again. But Sandy gave him a big wrap as being good with my latest problem so I arranged to go to him. But, being super-freaky about bleeding, I wanted to do all I could to prevent that. And I had a lot of help. Sandy offered to assist Dr D. on the day and Jenny came into theatre to observe and assist in any way she could. So in addition to Dr D. I had two ladies with me in theatre supporting me. I guess I am at times a rather spoilt man. The surgery was an early one, starting at 7:30am.

Dr D. was happy to share his knowledge so not only explained his procedures to Sandy but also allowed Jenny to observe closely. So my procedure was well-supervised.

When the bandage was finally on, the next crucial step had arrived: putting minimal stress on the wound to prevent bleeding. I had to keep my foot up as much as possible. With Jenny's help I managed it -- staying in bed for the rest of the morning and doing only a bare minimum of walking about thereafter.

It seems to have worked. It is early Saturday morning as I write this and there has been no bleeding and no pain. So I think I am out of the woods. Jenny stayed overnight and Anne is due here at 9am so I will have backup if a problem does emerge.



TUESDAY UPDATE (16th): I got the pathology results today: BCC fully excised. Excellent.




11 February, 2021

An eventful week

I have had a rather good week.

On Monday, Jenny and I spent half the morning looking through the African shops at Moorooka. There are a range of them with a large variety of homewares on offer. The offerings are all very colourful, with much use of gilt, and Jenny and I thought that we might be tempted to buy something. But it was all too much for us. The difference between African tastes and Nordic tastes was very evident. Things that to Africans seem attractive were to us way too garish. But i>de gustibus non disputandum est, as the Romans used to say

Then on Tuesday I saw Anne for dinner. I would normally have seen Jenny on a Tuesday but she had a ladies' meeting she wanted to go to then. So Anne kindly agreed to keep me company between 5pm and 8pm, which was ample time for a dinner. We had an entree of duck pate on my verandah initially, followed by a trip to the Greeks at Stones corner -- who served us a very large platter of Greek specialties. My appetite was very poor, as it often is these days, so the burden of polishing off the delicacies fell mostly on Anne -- which she did good work of.

On Wednesday Jenny joined me for breakfast at my usual haunt and that evening Joe and I had our usual Japanese curry at the Sunny Doll. Joe is on holiday so he was more relaxed than he usually is

Then on Thursday I had breakfast at Buranda with Jenny, followed by a funeral! The funeral was for Ralph, Anne's late brother in law. As I had always got on well with Ralph, I thought it appropriate for me to attend -- even though I don't cope well with funerals and avoid them when I can. I thought that Anne might need me for a partner on the occasion as George, Anne's new partner, had not known Ralph and knew very few people at the funeral. George however stepped up to the occasion and accompanied Anne to the event. I went with Jenny, who also knew almost nobody there. Now we know of George's willingness, that should let me off the hook for future funerals. But maybe not.



Anne had a lot of family present but did not sit with any of them during the service. She sat with me on one side and George on the other. Some of her family must have thought that Anne was quite a gal to have her two blokes sitting on either side of her. But she is definitely a man's woman, like her mother before ther.

Anne spent a lot of time talking to people she knew after the service so George got a bit neglected. Seeing that, I spent a bit of time talking to him and vaguely looking after him. Jenny stayed with me throughout.

Today was my second day off the grog, something I hope to make permanent. I drink very little these days so thought I might as well go the whole hog. As I also eat less these days I think I might even end up healthy! I am not ruling out a glass of champagne on special occasions, however.



2 February, 2021

A rescued candle-lit dinner



Ready



Anne and I had arranged to have dinner together tonight. I was going to make it a candle-lit dinner so I had got in some good things to have as part of it.

The whole reason why Anne and I were scheduled to dine together tonight was that Jenny had a ladies' meeting she wanted to go to that night instead of her usual dinner with me.

But this morning, we had a huge rain downpour which made it not very inviting to go out. So Anne was rightly dubious of coming over to my place this evening in case she got caught in a downpour. She is not the most confident driver at the best of times and driving in the rain at night would have been a stressful experience for her.

As it happened, both Jenny's ladies and Anne were put off by all the rain and cancelled out. I kept Jenny posted during the day, as I usually do, so she was aware of all the rain problems. She is however a very confident driver and can handle a bit of rain if required. So we agreed that she would come over and have the candle-lit dinner I had arranged for Anne! So we turned two canceled dinners into one revived dinner.

It went well. I opened a bottle of champagne to start. Our entree of Tasmanian salmon pate had a very rich taste and for the main course I had some chicken breast steaks with garlic and rosemary. Jenny cooked them up with her usual expertise. I provided one of my usual salads with lots of things in it. We ended up very replete

Jenny told me that I had never before given her a candle-lit dinner so that was a bit embarrassing.



1 February, 2021

Anne and I now share ownership of a very nice vehicle

Today was the day for Anne and me to take delivery at long last of a Toyota Prado.

That morning I put Anne on the phone to organize the insurance for it, which took about an hour. We got a quote of a bit over $900 from AAMI so we accepted that. I footed the bill.

My final payment from the bank to the dealer had not come through that morning but was expected at about 2pm so Anne and George went over to the dealer to get a full briefing on the features of the vehicle while we were waiting. She also at that time gave them her bank cheque

The bank finally came good just after 2pm so all 3 of us went over to the dealer in Anne's Corolla at that time to complete the paperwork etc. I am not aiming to drive the vehicle but I did get a short lesson on how to use it. I gave George the privilege of driving it off the lot and taking it to Tingalpa, where both he and Anne have units.

I got Anne to drive me home from the dealer to my place at Woolloongabba in her Corolla. We had a few chats during the drive. She did not stay but I will be seeing her tomorrow night.



28 January, 2021

A blackout!

I woke up at about 2am this morning to find no lights on in my room. I wondered for a few minutes how come I had left no lights on. I always leave something on. Then I realized that the power was out. I was surprised however that I could still see a fair bit of my room about me. Light was coming through my curtains

I surmised that the street lights must be going so went to my front door to check. They were out too. But there was a great bright searchlight right above me in the sky that enabled me to see the street and what was in it fairly clearly. It was the moon on a cloudless night. As a creature of civilization I was amazed at how bright it was.

The ambient temperature on my old fashioned glass thermometer was 27 degrees Celsius so neither heating nor cooling was needed

But since I was awake I wanted to do a few things, electricity or not. So I lit up my two kerosene lamps and my three candles.



That gave me enough light to cut out a few things from a newspaper that I had been meaning to cut out.

That was the limit of what I could do however so I went back to bed and dozed off into a light sleep. But at 3:40am the electric lights came back on. So I got up and blew out my candles and lamps

Ever since childhood I have always had a low-level light source in my room at night. It started out with a small kerosene lamp beside my bed from when I was about 6. It saves me tripping over things if I get up. So I was pleased that I could continue that during a blackout.



My bedside lamp



26 January, 2021

Australia Day

I celebrated Australia day in the traditional manner -- with a family BBQ. My brother joined us. We had lamb chops, sausages, salad, various cheeses and Tasmanian Pate. So the food was good.

We had most of the lunch under shade in the garden at Lindwall St. but adjourned to air conditioning for our Pavlova dessert

We discussed the ever-growing "Invasion Day" movement and wondered why they cannot have their day while we had ours. Each to his own, we said

But the motivation for the protests is actually clear. They smell money in it. It's an ever louder call for "reparations". They seem to think that can get yet more money from the government for people with any Aboriginal ancestry.

The fact that the government already gives them various types of support that are not available to other Australians is ignored. Gratitude? You'd be joking. The existing payments have simply made them greedy for more.

They think that more noise will produce more money. But that is unlikely to happen. Whatever they got they would want more and that should be obvious to anyone. One of the reports below asked for a million dollars for each aborigine. The whole thing is just contemptible money grubbing -- JR



25 January, 2021

A perceptive comment

Since the death of Chris Brand, my mental "other half", I have had occasional contact with Dr. Natalia Brand, Chris' widow. She is a highly qualified Taiwanese art historian and gets a huge amount out of art. A painting that I would not look at twice she gets lots out of.

She has made Chris's old apartment into an art gallery and has a male artist friend who helps her with that. I am delighted that she has good company now. I had not realized that Chris was something of an art collector. That would have drawn Chris and Natalia together. Though they were pretty good partners generally.

In a recent email from her she commented on my personal blog and its heading. She wrote:

"I have read your notes from a 'quiet' life. Instead, you have had a turbulent and emotional life. But, I am glad you enjoy your food and drinks"

She is right. The fact is that the recent revolution in my 15 year relationship with Anne has overturned my quiet life. But it shows that what exists between us is actually a great romance, improbable as that may seem. That Anne still wants to see me regularly despite now being shacked up with someone else is surprising enough but equally surprising is that I now see Jenny six nights a week but still want to see Anne. Is that not a great romance?

A very affectionate relationship that survives our circumstances is surely an exceptional one at least. It may even be more exceptional than the arrangements of Antonia Staats

So my weekly meetings with Anne do make me very happy but I would much like to see her more often. That may happen



22 January, 2021

A special dinner with Anne

Anne has a b*rthday soon so we organized a special Friday night dinner to mark the occasion. I gave Anne a pretty blue and silver bracelet as a present and also got in for the dinner a bottle of 2017 St. Henri Shiraz, a premium Penfolds product. I noticed that a wine guru said it goes well with lamb. So I was amused that that was the main course I bought it for.

Below is the bracelet against the background of a dress that Anne thinks it goes with. She definitely likes it





Anne brought with her some very tasty Tasmanian oysters for the entree and I provided some duck pate. We had a French stick for the bread.

.

We had very leisurely entrees sitting on my verandah, which is always a very pleasant location. We sat there through twilight. I opened the St. Henri as soon as we sat down.

Then for the main course we moved indoors to my dining table. It was a candle-lit dinner from that point on. I normally just have a set of three candle holders for that purpose but on this occasion we supplemented them with the fancy kerosene lamp that Anne had given me for Christmas. So we had plenty of light. I turned off all the electric lights as soon as we sat down.



I also got out my best dishes and my best goblets



For the main course I got in some French cutlets, as I usually do for special dinners with Anne. They are our favourite dinner.



They were large and juicy and Anne cooked them to perfection. I provided a good salad including avocado, Feta cheese, asparagus etc. So we ate well.

After dinner we adjourned to my room to lie down and listen to music, mostly Mozart. It made a very relaxed finale to the night. And we did have some good birthday kisses.

I was a bit down in the dumps when Anne came over at about 5:30pm but I was in good cheer by the time she left -- at about 9pm. I had hoped she would stay the night but she had family matters to attend to on Saturday morning.



18 January, 2021

Dinner with George P.

Last night, Sunday, George came to my place bearing dinner. It was a goat stew. (actually Caldereta a Philippine dish comprised of goat pieces in a stew). His wife is a Filipina but George cooked it himself. The stew had the bones left in, as that boosts the flavour, so I had to be careful when I ate it. It was very tasty.

I have known George for around 30 years and have always liked him. I used to invite him to all dinners I was putting on. Lately, however, I have had to cut back on all group dinners due to the deterioration in my hearing. I can hear others well enough in a 1 to 1 situation in a quiet place but if there is a group of us and noise in the background I miss most of what is being said. George is the same. So to keep in touch we arranged for him to bring over a dinner to have on the verandah at my place. Those who know it know what a pleasant place for a dinner my verandah makes. Best of all it is quiet there.

So George and I had lots of chats. George has been to the Philippines a couple of times so knows a bit about it. He regaled me with stories about how violent life over there is. Life is cheap there. It sounds a lot like Chicago. No wonder so many young Filipinas emigrate.

The Republic of the Philippines supplies wealthy English-speaking countries with large numbers of nurses, maids and wives to older men. In addition to their native Tagalog, most Filipinas know a fair bit of English. They learn it at school and English is widely used there. So that helps the transition to places like Australia and the USA. Pity the many who go to Saudi Arabia, though. Devout Catholics and bigoted Muslims make a very unhappy combination: "Every year, an unknown number of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia are victims of sexual abuses, maltreatment, unpaid salaries, and other labor malpractices"

In a fortnight's time George and I will have another dinner with me cooking. I cook a few things that usually turn out well



11 January, 2021

Zoladex

A busy day. I went to my local Indian doctor to finish off getting my right ear cleaned out. I had been putting drops in it to prepare the way. And this time she managed to clear the ear right out, which was a relief. It certainly helps my hearing

And then I got her to do my first injection of Zoladex. It is an anti-androgen medication to control my prostate cancer. One injection lasts 3 months. I was previously on monthly injections so I am glad to be past that

One effect of anti-androgens is that it saps your energy -- and my energies are very low. I experienced that same day. I had arranged that I would cook dinner that night for Jenny and me. I cooked spag bol, something I have cooked many times over the years. And I did manage to cook it this time. But it was a struggle. For someone who can barely stand up, cooking was a challenge. But when Jenny arrived at 6:15 both the pasta and the meat were cooked and ready. Jenny however offered to do a few finishing touches and serve the dinner up -- an offer I gladly accepted

And the dinner turned out quite well. The $2 bottle of sauce from Woolworths that I used must have been a good one.

We would normally have spent Monday evening at Nandos -- with Ken and George -- but I have cancelled those meetings on account of my poor hearing. I just could not follow the conversations at those dinners. So it has a sort of fitness that I did instead cook a dinner at home on the first day of the revised arrangements. Jenny has a loud clear voice so I can usually understand her.



7 January, 2021

Mostly good news

I got two lots of findings today -- from a PET scan and a blood test. The best finding was no more cancers in my head and neck area. That is where the big problems were previously. So the 12 exposures of radiation therapy that I had would seem to have wiped out any stray cancerous cells left over from previous treatments there.

My other cancers had not advanced but a small new cancer was detected in my chest.

So that sets me up well for the Lumina treatment, where they inject stuff into you that kills all cancers in your body. It's hugely expensive but will be great if it works.

I also got some blood test results which found that most of my functions were ok. The exception was iron levels and vitamin b12. So I will be going onto supplements to bring up levels of those.

But the best news of all is that the PET scan people at one stage weighed me. And I am down to 105 KG. At my heaviest I was 123 KG. I am not sure what I have to thank for this miracle but I have lost a lot of my appetite in recent times. Dinners that I once would have scoffed down, I now cannot finish

And my waistline has of course also reduced. So I got out some of my old shirts that I had grown out of and I can now wear them again. Fun!




1 January, 2021

A new year

I am sort of surprised to find myself in a new year. 2020 had an air of finality to it but it ended surprisingly quickly. It was an eventful year for me with lots of interesting experiences but I am hoping for a less interesting life this year.

Jenny and I ushered in the year with minimal fuss. We had some excellent takeaway Indian curries from Spice Avenue at Stones Corner for dinner -- chicken Jalfrezi plus a really excellent Lamb Korma. We finished the dinner with plum pudding and cream. So we ate well.

About 11:30 I made Jenny and myself Bloody Marys. And they really did look bloody. The tomato juice must have been a bit concentrated. We had them on my verandah, where there is always the touch of a breeze, so it was a pleasant place to welcome the new year in.

There was not much to welcome the year in, no fireworks and only a bit of distant cheering. But we toasted it anyway.

Jenny stayed overnight.



For posts on this blog in 2020, see here






Brief bio


My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 77 at the time of writing in early 2021. 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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