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
What am I? I am the tiniest spark in the great conflagration that is life on earth
I have made a few mistakes in my life but it has nonetheless been a pretty happy life
Some people want to live as long as possible. I want to enjoy my life as much as possible.
MOTTO: As Oscar Wilde may have said: "Life is too important to be taken seriously". But the Hagakure had the idea too: "Matters of great concern should be treated lightly"
2 October, 2022
This is just a call-out to Allsports Physiotherapy and Sports Medicine Clinic at Toowong. The shockwave therapy that they gave me worked a treat. A particular thank-you to Adrian. I am not quite a new man but definitely a renovated one. So my good news continues.
Another good thing is that I have regained a bit of my old energy from years back. I have been collecting recorded music for over 60 years. I started with 78 rpm records and a wind-up gramophone when I was about 13.
A fondly remembered 78
And it went on from there: LPs, Open-reel tape recorders, audio cassettes, CDs, DVDs and now I mostly watch YouTube. And in each era of recording I accumulated many recordings in that medium.
Recently, however I decided to rehabilitate the old recordings. I got my record player, a cassette player and my CD player fully set up to play all the recordings in that medium. Getting the old machines working took quite a bit of effort but I can now access my music in obsolete formats. I have some audio rarites in the old formats so I am pleased I found the energy to revisit the old machines Some of the old machines were not working but there were enough that did
I even have one of my old VHS VCR players working. I have a lot of tapes for it. It is set up in my garage, together with setups of 3 old computers, an Amiga 500, an Atari ST and an IBM DOS machine
1 October, 2022
A geriatric lunch
Last Tuesday I put on a simple lunch on my verandah for two old friends from my army days. Those days were back in the 60s, but friendships made in the army tend to endure. And because it is all so long ago, all three of us are pretty geriatric these days, I am on the brink of 80 and Rod H is too. Peter H is already over 80.
I gave the lunch to celebrate two happy recent events in my life: A PET scan and the surprising popularity of my academic writings these days. Papers I wrote way back in the '70s are still getting frequent attention -- which is pretty surprising. Of all academics worldwide I seem to be in the top 5% for citation frequency. I am very glad I lived to see that. My writings were not popular in the day but it seems that I did not labour in vain in researching and writing them.
And the PET scan revealed something else surprising: A total absence of cancer anywhere in my body -- including my prostate. Earlier scans showed me as having metastasized prostate cancer. Prostate cancer does not usually disappear so the recent news was most remarkable. The immunotherapy that eliminated my stomach cancer seems to have had unexpectedly wide reach. So most of the conversation at lunch revolved around prostates and other medical matters. Peter H in particular has had a lot of prostate problems
The meal was savoury mince with pasta and we finished with apple pie
21 September, 2022
I really am much read by my fellow academics. ResearchGate reports that my papers had 159 reads last week, including frequent mention of two that I regard as among my more significant papers. I am glad I have lived long enough to see it.
The two articles referred to are:
An "attitude to authority" scale
Half of All Racists Are Left Wing
It should be noted that almost all my papers are research reports rather than theoretical articles. And research reports stand as facts. You can disagree about the implications of the facts reported -- theoretical articles do that -- but you cannot disagree with the facts as such. The findings stand but what a reader does with the findings will be variable.
How much influence a reading of my papers will have is unknown. Since my findings were often uncongenial to a Leftist viewpoint they will no doubt often be read and then ignored. Leftists are good at ignoring reality
20 September, 2022
I very rarely watch TV but I had a bit of idle time between 10 and 11pm last night so watched the funeral procession of HM the Queen through London. I was glad to be watching from the comfort of my living room rather than being out there standing up at the actual event. I got a better view that way anyhow.
I was a little surprised that the Orb and sceptre accompanied the Imperial State Crowm on the bier. They are symbols of rule and she could hardly be ruling while she was dead
The Orb and sceptre are visible above
The procession was of course a huge and magificent show -- principally because many units of the British armed forces have striking dress uniforms -- from the bearskin hats of the Coldstream Guards, to the plumed helmets of the Household cavalry to the Tudor splendour of the Yeoman Warders. Even the military police in their red caps looked good. There were in fact several uniforms that I had not seen before, often featuring plumes. See below for the flat green hat with plume. No idea where they are from
Detachments of any unit worth looking at must have been present.
I had expected a significant detachment from the Royal Regiment of Scotland. They would have to be the most magnificently dressed soldiers in the world. But I saw only a couple of Scottish troops. Strange. Some might have been deployed abroad but hardly all of them
I might have missed them, though. I read that the Queen's own piper played a lament during the procession.
And all the marchers were paid for out of the military budget, not paid for as part of the Royal Family. All the troops present were in fact working members of the armed forces who often see active duty in the field. They are real soldiers
It may have seemed odd that the Navy got the honour of drawing the gun carriage. Why? Simple. In Britain the navy is the senior service and is proudly referred to as that. They trace back to Alfred the Great, long before any army unit. The earliest army unit goes back only to the civil war and Cromwell's New Model Army. Traditions matter in armed formations.
I was pleased to see the King looking Kingly as he marched behind the bier
The king looking Kingly
But it was sad to see the red hair of Prince Harry. He actually has spent more time in the army than other any other member of the family so was well entitled to wear military uniform. But his downgrading was on his own head. He seems to be a bit dim -- like his mother -- and that American bitch he married has filled his head with nonsense and caused him to alienate his family beyond all reason. She has a lot to answer for
14 September, 2022
I am a lucky man
A lady in my life often tells me that I am a lucky man. She is right. For a single man in his 80th year to have three ladies calling on him regularly is indeed lucky. And I appreciate all three.
I particularly appreciate my intimate companion Zoe. As I have pointed out previously, there are some big incompatibilities between us but, countering that, there is much else:
She is just about as good-looking and as fit as a lady of her age can get, she is very bright, well educated, has a broad awareness of high culture and even is strongly moved by the music of J.S. Bach. That latter would mean nothing to most people but it is huge to me as I feel the same way about Bach. We also have lots of laughs and she fits very nicely into my cuddle
So that is pretty lucky. Just a high IQ and a liking for Bach would probably have tied me to her but there is much more besides
11 September, 2022
Yesterday (Saturday) I accompanied Zoe to a wedding. It was in the Srbian Orthodox church at Wacol. It was the first Orthodox service I had attended and many details were different from the Presbyterian services I am used to.
For a start, people stood for the whole service. In Presbyterian services we stand up only to sing hymns. There were no hymns at the Srbian church. There were some seats down the side for the frail elderly such as myself. I was glad of that. Another difference was that all the men stood on one side of the church with the women on the other. Muslims and Haredi Jews would approve
The whole congregation of the bride's church must have turned out for the wedding. There were large throngs of both men and women in attendance. One thing I noticed was that lots of the young women were amazingly thin. Srbians could maybe teach other women a few things there. There were a lot of young men in formal dresss who also looked good. I did wear my sole and only suit with a white shirt and tie but some of the young Srbs wore shirts with studs. It'a long time since I did that.
The ceremony was also different from my experience. There were long speeches from the priest in Srbian which I understood not at all but I had a fair idea of what was being said. I conjecture that it would have similar content to a Tridentine mass. There were lots of opportunities for responses from the congregation and most of the congregation responded well.
An amusing thing to me was that the bride and groom were both given small crowns to wear at one stage. I had not seen that one anywhere before
The bride looked gorgeous. Being tall and slim was a good start on that but she had a great appearance generally. Her dress was fine but rather practical: No great billowing train etc. It was white with golden trims so was in perfect taste.
Both the bride and groom had been to my place for lunch a little while ago so it was good to see them tie the knot. A wedding is a very happy thing.
It was good of Zoe to get me invited to such a special occasion
The church was ornate internally but only with paintings. No statuary or carvings.
Below are two views of the couple during the ceremony
7 September, 2022
More on my academic status
I have just received another interesting email from ResearchGate.
They report that last week I had 6 citations. That means that someone somewhere is citing one of my papers at the rate of nearly one a day. I am rather stunned by that. And half of my reads were from academics in the USA, followed by India.
Several of my papers did refer to India so the interest from India is not too surprising
What is surprising is that my most-read article is one that appeared way back in 1971. So maybe there will be someone reading my papers long after I have gone. I like that thought
ResearchGate has a comprehensive database of academic publications. They are a sort of academic Google. If a paper is cited by someone already in their database they will try to add that paper also to their database. So they would appear to have just about all the academic papers on the internet. And if a paper they see cited is not already on the net they will ask for a copy of it and put it on the net
The list of "reads" is different. They refer only to reads from the ResearchGate database. Many people will of course have read the paper in its initial appearance elsewhere. So it would probaly be safe to say that the total number of reads of any paper is at least twice what ResearchGate records. But the reads that they record could be seen as a useful estimate of total reads
4 September, 2022
Fathers' day in Australia is on a Sunday and my son Joe and I normally breakfast together on a Sunday anyway. And it was a good breakfast today -- running from about 9:30 to 11:30. So we talked a lot.
We mainly discussed our relationships but also American politics and electric cars. We noted that Mr Trump still seems to get more publicity than anyone else in American politics. Joe was more positive than I am about electric cars but we didn't disagree after we had discussed it.
The breakfast was as usual at the local pie shop where they do a very good bacon & egg burger with lashings of bacon. We also bought some delicacies to take away. They do unusually good jam donuts there so that is what I had. I like a jam donut to have lots of jam in it and the one I got certainly did. We took our delicacies home to have on my open verandah, which is always a pleasant setting. Joe shouted the breakfast
Joe told me rather a lot about his personal life that sounded very positive so I was pleased to hear that. It made a very good fathers' day for me.
Zoe arrived later in the day at her usual hour of 4pm so we then had an early dinner prepared by her. She and I will be attending a wedding next week so she brought over a big range of dresses for me to look at. She said she trusts my taste so wanted my opinion on which dress looked best on her for a wedding. After much deliberation we decided on one.
Zoe left to drive back to her place in Western parts at about 7pm. We spent most of our time together lying in bed. To look down on a pretty face smiling up at you is one of the better experiences for a man in his 80th year
Monday Update: I was pleased to get a nice newsy Fathers' day greeting by email from my stepdaughter Yvonne in New Zealand
31 August, 2022
I am a normal human omnivore with no allergies or other restrictions on what I can eat. Zoe however has very strong "alternative" ideas She believes that we are healthiest if we eat a diet consisting wholly of raw food -- uncooked fruit and vegetables. And she urges me to adopt that diet
I grew up on the same diet that generations before me of my ancestors did: Meat and three veg. And my diet is still of that general type. Lots of my relatives lived into their '90s so I think my diet is healthy enough.
But whenever Zoe comes over, I bow to her wishes. She makes me a collation of raw foods -- mostly grated -- and I eat it for my dinner. I am inclined to think that such a diet has some benefit and I note that my blood pressure has gone down over the course of this year. So that could well be a benefit of what Zoe feeds me. There is no other change to explain it
I have rather bad skin. It grows a regrettable number of cancers -- due to the fact that as a kid I was fed cough mixtures that contained arsenic. Such was the medical wisdom of the day.
Zoe has endeavoured to help with my skin problems by spraying me regularly with a solution of a chlorine compound -- similar to swimming pool water. Some skin eruptions have gone away under that regime so I appear to have got some benefit from an "alternative" medicine treatment
One rather welcome change is that my hair and beard have got blacker as a result of the spraying. I am getting a marginally more youthful look
I thank her for what she has done for the benefit of my health and welfare
25 August, 2022
According to ResearchGate, a publication which tracks such matters, my academic publications are getting a lot of attention from other academics. They say that "Your Research Interest Score is higher than 95% of ResearchGate members". The score is mainly made up of citations.
Why is that surprising? Because I last published something in the academic journals back in the '90s. The general view of adcademic publications is that if it is more than 10 years old it no longer exists. But the advent of the internet means that someone researching a topic will usually do an internet search at some point and that will turn up something relevant regardless of date. So as long as your writings are online they are readily accessible. Most of my publications were written before the internet existed but I have made sure to put them online retrospectively. ResearchGate has them all. Being really old means that I can look a long way back.
And the fact that I have had so many papers published (250+) of course increases the likelihood that I will hit on something of interest to others.
But I mustn't get a big head about it all. I have kept some track of my citations and they mostly come from places like Pakistan and Poland -- not great sources of cutting edge academic endeavour
Another reason for humility is that my papers that other people cite are rarely the ones which I think are most significant or important. Instead people cite papers that are more technical or utilitarian. Still, it is nice to be still ahead of the pack even after 30 years. I did after all devote 20 years of my life -- from 1970 to 1990 -- to doing all that research and writing.
I have also now spent 20 years blogging -- from 2002 to 2022.
In all my writing I have aimed to say things that are informative or helpful to others and I think I have achieved that to a small degree. I do get "thank you" messages occasionally, which I appreciate.
So now that I am pushing 80, have I spent my time well? I am not at all sure about that. I have had 4 marriages but also 4 divorces. Disappointing 4 fine women is not something to be proud of. So I think I should have given more attention to my personal life. Still, I have rarely gone long without a partner and my present partner and I please one-another greatly.
23 August, 2022
I have just got the results from my latest PET scan. And there was NO cancer found anywhere in my body. Even my prostate cancer is gone -- which is very rare
So the combination of immunotherapy last year and my naturally good immune system has wiped out not only my stomach cancer but all other cancers as well. And an old guy like me should have had Covid by now but I have had no trace of it. The immunotherapy was three infusions of Keytruda
It's the second PET scan to show no prostate cancer so it is a firm, if amazing result. Prostate cancer usually kills men sooner or later. And my prostate cancer had aready started to metastasize when first detected
So am only months off 80 and all my tests show no negatives. I already knew from previous tests that I have strong bones plus normal heart, liver and kidney function. And my last BP reading was a safe 130/60. So today's results really put the icing on the cake
And the latest results combined a CT scan with the PET scan so showed something else of interest -- that the recent fracture in my chest -- now completely healed -- was in my sternum (breastbone). I had thought the crack was there but the emergency doctors thought it was in my ribs. Sternum fractures are slow to heal and mine did take around 4 months to heal. Fortunately, I was not badly affected by that problem either. And my broken ankle healed in about the minimum time. And my arthritis is minimal.
So for someone of my age I am now in remarkable health. I am however extremely unfit and see no end to that. 15 minutes is about the maximum time I can walk and I take stairs slowly.
And a big thanks to Jenny, Anne and Zoe for standing by me during my difficult days. Jenny takes a keen interest in medical matters so she was with me when the specialist gave me the latest results.
UPDATE: One of my readers had a witty comment on this post. He wrote: "May your health continue to be jolly good. My health is generally splendid, but have started to have some aching joints and muscles. I hope I will not suffer from irony deficiency, that and other medical puns can be hard to stomach"
8 August, 2022
Early days with John Henningham and Denis Ryan
Most of the memoirs I put up here are of very recent events but notes about the more distant past also have a place in memoirs. I have quite recently put up a record of one of the men's dinners that I occasionally put on. In it John Henningham got an honourable mention, as he has often done in these notes over the years. He and I have been friendly for for over 50 years and have kept in sporadic touch over all that time. So I thought it might be appropriate to put up here a brief note about how we originally met.
I think it must have been in 1969 that I rented a terrace house in Wentworth Pk. Rd., Glebe, in Sydney (WPR). It had 3 bedrooms so I asked among friends to find people who might move in and share the cost with me.
I was referred to two young men with a love of cars, Henningham and Croucher by surname. I became quite good friends with both (Henningham and Croucher were already old friends -- school friends) in a bantering sort of way. We address one another by surname only. I address the other two as Croucher and Henningham and they address me as Ray, so how you define that sort of friendhip I have no idea. You just have to be part of such a friendship to understand it, I think. It is an unusually strong friendship. People who have been to school together or in the Army together often address one-another that way. It is sometimes referred to as a "muscular" friendship, associated with constant but not serious abuse of one-another. For many years, my usual greeting when I rang Henningham up was: "Christ you're a shambles, Henningham!".
Henningham when he still had hair
We greatly enjoyed our times at "WPR", in part because we shared attitudes that were at least not incompatible, including a liking for the music of Leos Janacek and "The wonderful world of Barry McKenzie" by Barry Humphries -- a comic book, no less.
In fact, when I was first introduced to Henningham and Croucher at a small party, they gave me the McKenzie book to look at as a sort of test of cultural compatibility. They regarded it then (and I think still do) as the apogee of Australian humour. After I had been chuckling over it for ten minutes or more somebody said wonderingly: "He's still on the first page". So my credentials were firmly established.
All three of us became great devotees of McKenzie. All of us still use some McKenzie slang, particularly in one-another's company -- including an unusual meaning for the word "feature". Henningham was real fun back then but has become a bit more restrained since he married.
One interest we did NOT share was an interest in sporty cars so my purchase of a humble Mazda 1300 was greatly derided. When a car-lovers' "Bible" (called "Wheels", I think) came out and named the Mazda 1300 as "car of the year", there was therefore great embarrassment. That issue was hidden from me and no mention was made of it until many years later.
An incident I remember at that house was when Henningham, Croucher and I were about to take out some insurance. The salesman, George Serhan, was of Lebanese origin and a real bull-artist. We rather liked that side of him. We thought it an art-form and quite amusing (He even had a chauffeur!)
My girlfriend Nola was there, however, and also detected the insincerity. Did she get up him! She really gave poor old George a tongue-lashing. We almost had to pull her off him. It is lucky I am so exceptionally blunt and straightforward or else I would never have got on with Nola.
What I eventually learned about insurance at that time is chronicled elsewhere
The three amigos lunching at Southbank a few years back, with two wives. Croucher is sitting beside his Chinese wife
Denis Ryan, Henningham, Croucher and I had quite a few parties at Wentworth Pk Rd. If ever we got sick of our guests, however, we would put on Janacek's Sinfonietta. We all liked classical music but not very many other people do and Janacek is a bit much for even some classical music lovers. The Sinfonietta would clear the house within minutes. They would even leave their beer behind!
It didn't work for Denis Ryan, however. I think he introduced us to Janacek in the first place. He would say "This is good" and settle in. Not that we minded. Denis was always good fun. He had that Irish roguishness and was a great raconteur. He had been a shearer for most of his life and later moved to Sydney to manufacture shearer's clothing.
For quite a while he used to drop in at our place after work for a few beers with us: The real Australian male thing (except for the classical music in the background). We enjoyed it greatly. He liked Resch's D.A. but we drank Flag. We used to buy D.A. especially for him. We called it Denis's Ale, though D.A. really means Dinner Ale.
All four of us tended libertarian, which is sometimes seen as Right-wing. Denis had been a Communist in his youth (not uncommon among shearers, I believe) and knew an awful lot about politics. He had not had much education but was quite intellectual and cultured for all that. Apparently you do sometimes find that among shearers, according to Denis. He was in his late 30's at the time. Sadly, he is now deceased
Denis at home in Abergeldie St. with his Japanese girlfriend
Nola and I drifted apart, though we still kept in touch, and I took up with the the red-headed Dawn. So after about a year at the terrace house, I left to marry Dawn, which rather broke things up
With the arrival of the internet, however, Henningham, Croucher and I were able to create a "virtual" WPR, with frequent emails exchanged: almost entirely of a jocular or even nonsensical nature. We even have a sort of strange inflated language that we use only between one-another.
Henningham was later to become Professor of Journalism at the Uni of Qld but is now retired, and Alf Croucher was to spend much of his life in China as an academic.
Henningham as he was just a few years ago, at lunch at the Sunnybank Mosburger cafe with his wife Helen and my then-girlfriend Anne
ADDENDUM: I am putting up this addendum pending advice on whether I should put it up at all. With unusual concern from my autistic self, I fear that what I am about to write might in different ways reflect badly on all three people concerned.
In the early days of our joint residency at WPR, there was a certain tall lady in our social circle. It's not an overriding consideration for me but I do rather like tall ladies. And I was myself of above average height so such women were accessible to me. I did not long ago marry a lady who was just a fraction short of 6' tall. A happy memory.
So I paid some attention to the tall lady in the WPR social environment. It was however a complication that Croucher was interested in her too. So what to do about that? I withdrew. I felt that I had a much better chance of finding another lady than he did so I ceased all approaches to her. I actually abandoned potential romance for the sake of a male friend. Whatever else that says, I think it firmly establishes my credentials as an Australian
6 August, 2022
I have long taken a great interest in high culture: Classical music, classical literature, languages and history etc. So my past relationship with JHM was a great pleasure to me. We were both greatly moved by classical music, enjoyed English poetry and often discussed medieval history -- from Belisarius to Abelard. Such interests are however arcane so I never expected to find such a relationship again. I subsequently looked simply for an intelligent woman with a kind heart. And I found some.
But I have now once again found a woman with an interest in high culture. Zoe is if anything even more broad-ranging than JHM in her awareness of high culture. She likes classical music, has a keen interest in both comparative linguistics and history and has a broad ranging awareness of European literature
I actually have formal (though minor) qualifications in three European languages: German, Italian and Latin. And I have found all three helpful on many occssions. Zoe by contrast knows particularly Serbian and Russian literature, which she reads in the original. Even in translation Russian literature is well-known and respected so her awareness there is a considerable resource. I have of course read the greats of Russian literature in translation but Zoe has had much to teach me beyond that. She has introduced me to the amusing discussions about Oblomov, for instance.
And her awareness of European literature in general is extensive. She has got me reading works by writers as diverse as Capek and Kafka. I knew of those writers but had never got around to reading them. She recently sent me a link, for instance, to Kafka's "Metamorphosis" story, which was truly nightmarish and gave me a vivid understanding of what the word "Kafkaesque" refers to. On a previous occasion she sent me a link to Karel Capek's story "The blue chrysanthemum" which was pleasingly didactic.
She has taken a keen interest in the early German psychoanalytic writers -- Freud, Jung, Fromm, Reich in particular -- and likes their insights. As I am a psychologist by trade I too know about that tradition and we do discuss it. I in fact think that Freud's 1901 book "The psychopathology of everyday life" is one that everyone should read
Her knowlege of English literature is however patchy -- though she did once use a Shakespearian allusion in a bedtime conversation. So we have each been able to expand one-another's literary horizons. I was able, for instance to explain to her the background to Blake's "Jerusalem"
And her ideas about European pre-history were new to me. I ended up writing something about it. And our bedroom music is often Bach or Mozart.
And as I wrote in connection with my recent birthday celebrations:
"Our conversation after lunch was wide-ranging. She started out telling me something about Stefan Zweig's biography of Rilke. As it happens I had in fact read some of the poems of Rainer Maria Rilke -- in the original German -- but I doubt if I will ever meet another lady who would know of him. Zoe went on to mention William Faulkner, Rudolf Steiner, the pineal gland and Solzhenitsyn's last book. And she is always talking about history. And we have both read most of the major works of Russian literature. It was very pleasing to me to have a conversation with her at such a high cultural level. Definitely a good birthday present."
I have a few more comments about my cultural interests here
It is only incidental to our relationship but I am pleased to have a really intellectual lady in my life.
Below is my most recent photo of her. It is a "candid", which gives you a much better idea of the person than a posed photo
The chair she is sitting on is a Bauhaus design, harking back to the 1930s. The Nazis would have called the chair Entartete Kunst
4 August, 2022
My time as a High School teacher
After I did my M.A. at the University of Sydney in 1968, I went to the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University to do my Ph.D. I supported myself initially by part-time tutoring in Social Psychology at Macquarie. Later I had the idea of doing High School teaching to support myself. I had no Diploma of Education so the New South Wales Department of Education gave me the heave-ho but a small regional Catholic school (at Merrylands) gave me a job teaching economics and geography. The school was Cerdon College run by the Marist sisters.
Australia was so short of teachers in those "baby boom" years that my one year of Economics at the University of N.S.W. counted as sufficient qualification for teaching the subject at High School level. I in fact taught upper level economics, which was not far short of university level.
For geography I just kept a chapter ahead in the textbook. In my own schooling I had only ever done Junior geography. But my students all did well enough at exam time
Merrylands was a working class area but all my students eventually did well in their H.S.C. economics examinations. As I recollect, all my students passed their HSC and four got on to the statewide order of merit list. The Higher School Certificate serves as the university entrance examination.
Sister Aquinas, the Head of the school, was a very smart lady. I liked her. I wonder if her vocation endured. I see that she was still in the Marist Sisters order in 1980 so perhaps it did. I believe her birth name was Joan McBride. Her choice of her religious name suggested an intellectual orientation and I believe I saw evidence of that
In the photo below, I am the guy in the back row with the black glasses. I had more hair then. The photo was taken in 1970. The photo is of all the school staff. In those days Catholic schools still had religious staff, at least in part.
Later, in my early years as a lecturer at Uni. N.S.W. I got permission to do outside work part-time and was thus able to return to Secondary School teaching.
I again taught Higher School Certificate Economics -- this time at a now defunct "progressive" ("non-directive") school at Birchgrove called "Chiron College". "Progressive" meant little or no school discipline. A.S. Neill's "Summerhill" school was very fashionable at the time so was part of the inspiration for Chiron College. The school has since ceased to exist. It was associated in some way with artist Charles Blackman, who I think supported it. A number of students came from artistic homes and most came from generally wealthy famiies
The students did not all adapt well to the low discipline. About half of them skipped many classes but greatly improved their skills at playing cards. The other half however did quite well because they came from homes where educational achievement was expected. In other words the parents had to provide the motivation that the school did not. So they turned up for my classes. So the HSC results were very mixed. Around half did well and half failed. In summary: For a certain bourgeois minority, "progressive" education can work. For mass education it would be a disaster
31 July, 2022
A remarkable day
There are three Serbian Orthodox churches in Brisbane and all 3 have a substantial following. Zoe is not a member of any of them and is not sympathetic to church doctrine. But they are a great gathering point for Brisbane Serbs and for that reason Zoe sometimes visits them. She likes to speak and hear spoken her mother tongue.
So she became aware that the Wacol church was having a BBQ lunch --to be accompanied by folk dancing and Serbian music. And two friends of hers -- the ones mentioned in my previous post -- were going to be there and asked Zoe to join them. Zoe wanted me to accompany her so she came to my place first and then I drove us out to the church under directions from her.
Zoe dressed for the occasion
I was stunned. It was an enormous gathering. No Brisbane Protestant church could muster one tenth of the people at the Serbian church. There really were people everywhere.
For food I ordered raznici and Zoe ordered some sort of soup. When I lived in Sydney years ago I used to have raznici fairly often so it was with some regret that I found no restaurant in Brisbane that sold them. So today was a rare opportiunity. And they were very good. I was pleased to re-acquaint myself with them. Serbs usually make raznici with marinated pork so I assume that is what I had. They consisted of large lumps of meat barbecued on skewers and served with bread and cut-up raw onion. I would have liked some of the traditional kaimak with them but that did not seem to be on offer
A great feature of the gathering was the many beautiful folk costumes being worn by many of the women and children. They made a very colourful display during the folk dancing. The dances were very complex but performed with great precision -- rather like square-dancing without the caller
A "kolo" dance above, a dance in a circle. In Serbian kolo means a circle
When we left the BBQ after an hour or so I drove us to Zoe's house at Redbank Plains. I had not seen it before. It was a large brick house on a slab in a large yard and with a park over the road. So it was well situated. It was very crowded with Zoe's multitudinous possessions -- mostly books, CDs and DVDs
Despite my distant past as a taxi-driver, all the driving today rather took it out of me so when we got back home to my place, I immediately headed for a lie-down -- accompanied by a cup of tea but no Bex, sadly. We endeed up having a brief nap together, which was very pleasant. Drifting to sleep with Zoe in my arms is definitely one of my pleasures
ADDENDUM: Video of one of the dances:
18 July, 2022
An amazingly social weekend
I am a bit on the reclusive side so my social activities are usually very low-key. I broke out on the weekend just past however.
The weekend started with my usual Saturday morning breakfast with Anne. Such meetings normally follow a very uniform pattern. But this time we broke out. We went to a different eatery, the Spanish cafe at Stones corner and afterwards we visited a nearby bookshop instead of an OpShop. And we even bought jam donuts to accompany our late-morning cup of tea.
Then that night Jenny brought over an excellent Vindaloo. She makes them milder than usual, which I like
And next day Joe and I had our usual Sunday breakfast at the pie shop. We both had burgers. We discused politics as usual with a particular emphasis on the upheavals in the British Prime Ministership.
Then at around noon Zoe brought over a heap of food for a lunch date with two old friends of hers -- a beautiful Serbian lady and her fiance, Robert. I believe Zoe and I are going to their wedding soon so I think Zoe wanted me to get to know them before that.
They arrived around 1pm, which gave Zoe time to get everything ready. Zoe provided excellent food of the sort she usually makes, incuding a raw food salad and various cakes. We all got on very well with energetic conversation. Robert turned out to be conservative, which helped. Zoe tended to get deep into her usual idiosyncratic topics but I managed to rein her in on that before it became a conversation-stopper. And I did rather overdose on the cakes.
Zoe with her friends. I liked that blouse she was wearing
Then that night I had one of my men's dinners arranged. Graham turned up about mid-afternoon as he usually does and at that hour it coincided with Zoe's departure. So Zoe and Graham got to meet. He said he liked her. Zoe is a very forceful conversationalist and she gave Graham both barrels. The three of us went for a short walk together so she had considerable access to Graham's ear about chemtrails and such things. It was all rather jolly so Graham coped well.
At 5:30 I started to cook the food for our men's dinner. I provided the usual savoury mince but this time I added some spag bol -- with a special pasta instead of spaghetti. The spag bol turned out rather well but most of my guests settled for the savoury mince, which they always like.
Present were Graham, Henningham, my brother, Joe and myself
The conversation roared, assisted by the fact that we were all pretty well on the same page politically. As usual, we had "show and tell". My brother brought over what he claimed was a replica of a Roman Gladius. It was a very nice sword but it didn't look like a Gladius to me. But perhap my memory is faltering. I got out my British cavalry sword so there was a bit of waving swords about going on for a little while.
But the best show and tell was some war medals that Henningham brought over -- from his own forebears and from his wife's. He had the citations accompanying the medals. His own ancestor's medals included a Military Cross, a most distinguished decoration. So we discussed the folly of war a bit
There was wine on the table but nobody drank much. My brother bought with him an abomination: Non-alcoholic gin. He has been on the wagon for a while. I too have had periods of teetotalling so had some understanding of his recourse to strange beverages.
We all parted in very good spirits and Graham did most of the washing up afterwards, as he usually does. He had come up from Victoria for the dinner so he stayed overnight.
Then this morning Graham and I breakfasted together at my place -- Just tea and toast -- preparatory to his flying back to Melbourne
Saturday, 16 July, 2022
A famous hymn
I mentioned yesterday my satisfaction with the high cultural level of some of the conversations that Zoe initiates with me. She is really quite erudite, a rarity in the women I usually meet. Being a European, she is mainly interested in European literature, particularly Russian literature. Serbs and Russians traditionally think highly of one another. Via a cascade of treaties, it is thinking that once led to a world war, very sadly. I too have a considerable interest in European literature, though mainly German in my case
Zoe did not start to learn English until she was aged 45 so her knowledge of the vast heritage of literature in English is very patchy. That led to another conversation between us yesterday. She had not heard of that much-loved English hymn, "Jerusalem". And what Blake's words in that hymn are about tends to be poorly understood even by most English speakers
I mentioned the hymn in connection with a blog entry I had recently put up. I mainly blog about politics but I do sometimes venture farther afield. My blog entry was aimed at elucidating what Blake's words were all about. There was a recent article on that topic which I thought missed the point. My blog entry is here but perhaps I might reproduce my comments from it below, together with the Delphic words concerned.
"The author below is very learned but seems to be unaware of the British Israel conviction. That conviction was common among the congregation at my old Presbyterian church in Ann st., Brisbane back in the 1960s, though I doubt that it had any sort of official church acceptance.
There are varieties of the conviction but the basic theme is that the British are the true heirs of the Israel of old and that Jesus at some stage visited England in recognition of that. Blake was clearly of that conviction. It was a common conviction in the 19th century. Blake was simply reflecting on his religious convictions in the poem"
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark Satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold
Bring me my arrows of desire
Bring me my spear! Oh, clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire
I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Til we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land!
A good performance:
Friday, 15 July, 2022
More birthday felicitations
Jenny joined me for breakfast at Stones Corner this morning, where I had what I suspect may be the world's best ham sandwich. I like it enough to think that.
After breakfast she took me to an OpShop we had not visited before -- at Coorparoo near the level crossing. It specializes in all things retro and the variety in glassware and crockery was amazing. It was like visiting an art gallery. Because I already have too much of that sort I did not buy anything but Jenny bought some sheet music, with Joe in mind.
Then at her usual eccentric hour of 4pm Zoe came over for lunch. She brought with her one of her impromptu pies featuring egg, potato and much else. It was both tasty and filling. She is a good cook
And her talents are not limited to cookery. She must be the most intellectual lady I have met. Our conversation after lunch was wide-ranging. She started out telling me something about Stefan Zweig's biography of Rilke. As it happens I had in fact read some of the poems of Rainer Maria Rilke -- in the original German -- but I doubt if I will ever meet another lady who would know of him. Zoe went on to mention William Faulkner, Rudolf Steiner, the pineal gland and Solzhenitsyn's last book. And she is always talking about history. And we have both read most of the major works of Russian literature. It was very pleasing to me to have a conversation with her at such a high cultural level. Definitely a good birthday present.
The present she bought me was a large solar-powered lamp. We are both rather into lamps
And she seems to have gone rather cold on her wish to return to her old stamping ground of Belgrade in Serbia. It was for a while going to be next September but it now seems to have been pushed back to next May. She misses her native land. We have been talking about her visiting there for just one month but there is some possibility that she may want to move back there permanently. I hope not and suspect not
We have a very affectionate relationship and the birthday card she gave me reflects that
Thursday, July 14, 2022
My 79th birthday celebrations started well today
Anne came over and at my request cooked me an excellent lunch of schnitzel with roast potatoes. She got the potatoes to perfection: fluffy inside. We ate on my verandah in the sunshine. And we shared a bottle of Tyrrells Verdelho, my favourite white wine. After lunch we listened to music as usual. And I got a good birthday kiss.
And Jenny came over to cook me a dinner of cevapi, again at my request. We had it in my dining room. She got the cevapi to perfection and she provided lots of accompaniments to go with it. For dessert we had apple pie. She came over early to put up decorations. Joe joined us for dinner and between us we polished off a bottle of Seaview Brut "champagne". Both Joe and Jenny stayed overnight, which I liked.
An unusual happening was that I got my century-old Bilhorn Telescope portative organ out of the garage and gave it to Joe. It sounded as good as ever when he played it, despite it having been in storage and unopened for over 30 years
My dinner. I have champagne glasses but I chose to put out crystal goblets for it on this occasion
Joe playing the Bilhorn
July 11, 2022
Falling in love
My heading above must index one of the most discussed topics there is but I have come across a commentary on it that seems original to me. So I am putting the opening part of it up below. The author is one lucky lady. She seems to be a real-life version of what Johnny Cash was talking about in his extremely romantic "Ring of fire" song. I will add a personal note at the foot of the post below
“That was when,” Michael reflects as we sit in front of a semi-roaring campfire, his back propped against a large gray rock, “I realized there was no act of falling in love. By the time I knew I’d fallen there, I’d already been there for months.”
My head sinks deeper into his lap as I stare at the black, black sky, orange sparks like infinitesimal fireworks leaping into that depth. “So you just sort of, found yourself there? Like it was a place?”
He’s been showing me love, teaching me what it means, though I’m not yet certain if he understands the extent of this lesson, this need of mine.
“Exactly,” he continues. “People use that verb, ‘falling,’ when they talk about love, but I was so drawn to your words, your character, and didn’t know why. I kept it from myself, almost like protecting myself from this massive thing I’d never have let happen if I caught myself falling.”
I close my eyes and think back to the first time he wrote those words, I love you. I lived seven thousand miles away and we were both embroiled in messy divorces and there was no present, certainly no future, all we had was this crazy situation, this fact of where we’d clearly, irrevocably, found ourselves: in love. “I think it was like that for me, too,” I say.
Since that time in front of that campfire in the mountains of Northern Idaho, seven years have passed and millions of tiny moments that are also stories; moments that have shown me more about the nature of love as I now understand it, because this is what the man I’m about to marry has taught me.
The idea that falling in love is a gradual process is what struck me about the story above. There is loving and there is falling in love, with the latter being a more intense process. And that process usually seems to be portrayed as sudden.
I think my own recent experience followed the outline above. Zoe and I are not an obvious match but we appealed to one-another from our first meeting -- at the very beginning of this year. But it was certainly not love at first sight. We kept seeing one another frequently and our appreciation of one another grew over time.
There were a lot of issues between us that we needed to sort out but we had a lot of good and fun times too. But we eventually got the issues sorted out more or less and I knew for some time that I had come to love Zoe. Very recently, however, I realized that I was actually in love with her. I think of her all the time. And that makes me very happy. Fortunately, she reciprocates my feelings. Pretty good going for two people in their 70s!
9 July, 2022
Three surprises -- two good, one bad
An odd aspect of life in Brisbane is that people who live on the Southside rarely visit the North side -- and vice-versa. There's no absolute rule about it, just a strong tendency. So I live on the Southside and the Northside is an almost complete mystery to me. There could be dragons there for all I know.
And that has just tripped me up. I had read good reports of an eatery called the Grub St Cafe at Gaythorne but it was on the Northside and I had never even heard of Gaythorne. It didn't sound like my sort of place. So I had put off going there for YEARS. Jenny however is a keen driver in her new Hyundai "Venue" so she readily agreed to drive me there yesterday.
It was a complete disappointment. The place appeared to be under new management and the old menu that I had so fancied was completely gone: No Reuben sandwiches, no Merguez etc. So I chose the one thing on the menu that sounded a bit unusual: A Cajun chicken burger. Sadly, the chicken was completely tasteless. It did not even taste chickeny. So Jenny and I had wasted our time, though Jenny didn't mind what she had -- Singapore noodles.
Since were so far out of our normal orbit, however, we decided to have a look at the OpShops near there. And we found a big Vinnies. And I hit a jackpot. I picked up a cute little kerosene lamp that reminded me of the one I had as a nightlight by my bed when I was a kid. It even looked to be in new condition.
Two recently bought mini lamps with a standard hurricane lamp for scale. The lamp with the ceramic base is the one I bought yesterday
So the breakfast and the lamp were two surprises
Zoe, Anne and I are all lamp enthusiasts so Zoe was inspired when she saw my new one. Zoe and I are both bargain hunters but we look in different places. Zoe mostly visits garage sales and I mostly visit OpShops. On seeing my new lamp, however, Zoe immediately decided that she would become an OpShop customer too. She will probably be giving the ones near her place a workout today
The bully beef
The third surprise was bully beef. It is probably Australia's least prestigious food but I like it. Sadly, I have never found a lady who agrees with me on that so I rarely buy it. Recently, however "Hamper" have put out a bachelor-size tin of the stuff. So I have now made a few sandwiches with it. Thickly spread with tomato slices on top between two slices of toast it is gourmet food to me
Speaking of food, there was a recurrent theme a little while ago in which young people were criticized for breakfasting on smashed avocado on toast. That might have made sense when avocadoes were $3 but now that they are around $1, that would seem to lose point. I often make it for breakfast these days
6 July, 2022
My siblings: Christopher and Roxanne
I have put up a lot of memoirs about the ladies in my life so perhaps it is timeI said a little more about my birth family. My sister Jacqueline is deceased so I say below a little about the early days of my two siblings who are still alive and kicking. I have previously made a few notes about my experiences of them as adults. I reproduce those notes also below
My mother had my brother Christopher and my sister Roxanne rather late in life (unplanned pregnancies, I am almost sure) so I remember something of their infancies.
Chris was born in 1955 and Roxanne in 1958. So Chris is 12 years younger than me and Roxanne 15 years younger. Mum must have been 25 when she had me, 37 when she had Chris and 40 when she had Roxanne.
Chris had a problem of sugar intolerance as a baby which nearly killed him (it gave him diarrhoea) but an old nurse (A Mrs Whittington) who lived over the road in Campbell St. told my mother to feed him junket tablets for it. That worked and he has had no similar problems since to my knowledge.
My mother used sometimes to call Chris "my little cookie", which my father soon transmuted into "cookbook" and my father often addressed Chris as "cookbook". I also now occasionally embarrass Chris by calling him that.
I remember that all the other kids in the street used to come and play with Chris. He was the popular one in the family. I used to sit opposite him at the tea table and would tend to look at him with interest and affection while dining. He did not like that at all and every now and again he would complain, "Mum, John's looking at me!" I would then desist.
He was a great go-kart freak as a kid and when he got a bit older this translated into a love of motorbikes. As I like motorbikes too, it was something for us to talk about at times in later life.
Because they are so much younger than I am, I remember the childhoods of both Christopher and Roxanne quite well. My most amusing memory of Roxanne is of her at about age 3 waving her little arm at our father (Frank) and telling him off over something. He of course was just listening and smiling at her. I also remember that if she was ever going anywhere and Frank was in the way he would always step aside for her. He just doted on her of course.
Another memory along similar lines is of my mother trying to get the 3 or 4 year old Roxanne to do various things -- to which Roxanne would reply loudly: "but I don't wanna". That generally seemed to be taken as a fairly decisive objection.
Roxanne was the good-looking one in the family. There is one photo of her in the sidebar and I have other photos of her as a little mite with blonde hair and blue eyes that look very lovely indeed: Very much like her daughter Katie.
I think that she and I share the same hyped-up type of nervous system -- which may explain why in her early adult life she commonly had three jobs at once. Apart from her love of work (no doubt inherited from our father) she was quite a hippie for a while in that she liked informality and hippie style dress. When all her children were grown up, my mother used to say that she had four totally different children: An intellectual (me), a bikie (Christopher), a hippie (Roxanne) and a Lesbian (my sister Jacqueline).
Christopher and his wife Kym now have two children of their own: Maddie (Madeline) and "Cricket" (James). Roxanne and her husband Stefan have three daughters, Katie and the twins. The twins are named Emmeline and Kelly. The first is no doubt named after Ms. Pankhurst and the latter after the maiden name of my mother's mother: Both names would then appear to reflect my mother's influence.
May 22, 2008
A rare family photo
The photo below is (left to right) of my niece Katie, my brother Christopher and my sister Roxanne. My sister Jacqueline was also in the original photo but she is terminally ill with the family illness (breast cancer) and not looking good at all so I think I am being respectful in cropping her out of the photo below. Katie is the daughter of Roxanne.
Taken a few weeks ago
September 5, 2017
I sometimes nearly forget that I have a sister. She lives quietly in Rockhampton and it is many years since I have been to Rockhampton.
She is however a very vivacious woman so I was greatly pleased that when she was briefly in Brisbane this evening, I was able to shout her a dinner at the "Sunny Doll". Her equally lively husband was with her plus her daughter Katie. Katie is rather quiet. Maybe she could never get a word in edgewise when she was growing up with two very chatty parents.
My brother Christopher was also in attendance as was Jenny. Joe had to work back so arrived rather late but everyone was pleased to see him when he did arrive.
Roxanne was in good form and many things were discussed. I was updated on why and how Rox was "bumptious" during her schooldays and we decided that she got it from her very independent mother. Her mother was also a great talker. We decided that there should be more bumptiousness.
We also mentioned my Aunt Maude. Yes. I did have an actual Aunt Maude! How oldfashioned can you get? My mother was a very critical woman -- I probably get my irreverence from her -- and I recollect that there were only two people she normally spoke well of -- her niece Shirley and her sister Maudie. Stefan said that when he met Maude, she dismissed him as "blue collar". That would have been Maudie. She was a toughie.
In her youth Rox was something of a hippie. Yet now she is a contented wife and mother. How come? In her youth she found most of the males she met to be too shallow. But then along came Stefan, who was just right for her. He is intelligent, very verbal and with a very positive outlook. And they have been together a long time now and still seem to greatly appreciate one another. The pretty little shop assistant met the tall slim telecom technician. And that was it. Roxanne is a teacher these days.
Joe had a few chats with his cousin Katie and it was an amusing contrast to see them together. Katie is rather short and slight and Joe is 6' and well-built so he rather towered over her. Her father Stefan is about 6' tall so her height is a little surprising. Roxanne is also rather slight so Katie seems to have taken after her mother entirely.
At one stage I mentioned that I am a great fan of Mr Trump! Both Rox and Stefan could see that the constant barrage of negative comment about him from the media was biased and unbalanced
The food was good as usual and we had coffee there afterwards
December 19, 2017
A big reunion
One member of my birth family is already deceased but the three remaining were together for once on Tuesday night: Roxanne, Christopher and I. Rox and Stefan came down from Rocky for a couple of days and this time brought their twins down with them: Emmeline and Kelly. Christopher arrranged the Tuesday night dinner at the Story Bridge hotel. It's a beautifully renovated old hotel but their prices reflected that. They were eventually full-up even on a Tuesday night so many people are presumably used to hotel prices (steaks around $35). The food took about an hour to arrive after being ordered but that is common in hotels and what did eventually arrive was good.
People were a bit slow to arrive but we eventually had both of Christopher's children: James and Madeline. Madeline brought along her girlfriend, dressed in an American burlesque sort of way.
Kym came too and readily took the bait when I made a few old-fashioned conservative statements, such as referring to Ceylon as Ceylon. Kym is very "Progressive" and politically correct but she has a good sense of humour too -- which she undoubtedly needs to get on with her husband, my brother, whose attitudes are similar to mine. One thing I noticed was that she tossed her hair a lot when she was trying to needle me. She has a lot of hair so why not use it?
Anne came with me but Joe could not come due to a clashing engagement.
The twins were both nice-looking young ladies but one was short and one was tall. Emmeline was the short one and Kelly was tall. Roxanne is 5'4" so that explains Emmeline and Stefan is just over 6' so that explains Kelly. With her mother's pretty face and her father's long legs, Kelly was quite striking to look at. Tall women do tend to have an advantage in that way. She is also socially pleasant and has the light of intelligence in her eyes.
I should explain that. I find I can tell highly intelligent people just by their eyes. I am not sure I can explain it but it has something to do with them taking long gazes at things. They see more so take longer to look at people and things. They have a "seeing" (reflective, searching or enquiring) gaze. Kelly's father Stefan has it too.
Stefan is a great conversationalist so helped keep everyone near him interested. He could talk to me about house renovations and talk to Christopher about old motorbikes, for instance.
Roxanne talked a lot about her experiences in Saudi Arabia and their attitude towards women. She was in Saudi for a couple of years while Stefan was there making big money as a telecom technician. Roxanne is quite critical of negative attitudes to women so you can imagine what she thought of the Saudis. Her twins were born there so it is a small oddity that two very Nordic looking young women have birth certificates in Arabic. There are not very many blonde and blue-eyed Arabs.
Christopher was in good form, buying drinks for a lot of people. Business must be good at the moment. Anne enjoyed meeting the twins and talking to a lot of the family.
October 1, 2018
The Smiths of Rockhampton
Our mother gave my splendid sister quite a pretty Christian name but about 30 years ago she married a very fine man who was a Mr Smith. And they are still together, wonder of wonders. And Smith is a very useful surname. When you give your name as Smith and people give you strange looks you can produce ID that completely authenticates you. But you are still almost as anonymous as if you had used a real false name ("real false name"?) Who in his right mind would even try to track down a particular Mrs Smith out of all the millions of Smiths worldwide? You might be traceable if you lived in Ulan Baator but that is about all. And with all due respect to Ulan Baator, not many Smiths would want to live there.
So to preserve their valuable anonymity I am going to refer only to "Mr & Mrs Smith" in my ramblings below.
I kitted up for my brief stay by packing my genuine Cabrelli wheeled bag. Cabrelli are mostly distributors of ladies' fancy handbags but they do luggage too. I was given mine but I rather like it. I don't like the hard angles of traditional suitcases
Anne and I arrived on the Tilt Train at Rockhampton station at about 6:45pm Friday 28th and were met by Mr & Mrs Smith. They had booked us in to a very flash motel so Anne and I just dropped our bags off there and we all went to dinner at a nearby Malaysian restaurant. It was rather flash as such restaurants go but the menu had us all a bit bamboozled. I have been in Malaysian restaurants before so I immediately suspected that the cook might be rather "creative", which is often not good. Anyway we ordered and found that the food was indeed "creative". But we got it down. I paid the "creative" bill.
But the company was good so the food was not an issue. I have seen the Smiths rarely over the years so getting to know them better seemed long overdue. We discovered fairly soon that our political views are not lightyears apart. The Smiths even had a good word to say about Mr Trump! You see why I am preserving their anonymity! We are actually something of a conservative family. Myself, my son and my brother rarely disagree on much in our extensive discussions. The twin studies tell us that Left/Right orientation is highly hereditary so that should not have been a surprise.
What the Smiths approve of in Mr Trump is mainly his opposition to political correctness. As Mr Smith said to me, "If I think a think why can't I say it?" And they also saw Trump's shaking up of the existing political system as being a very good thing.
Mr Smith is a technician by trade so is good with his hands. He enjoys putting mechanical things right. So even though he is now officially retired he still does stuff like that for its own satisfaction -- though he also is well paid for it. There are zillions of people knowledgeable in the arts but practical men are in short supply.
An interesting thing that I share with the Smiths is that we have both done rather a lot of real estate renovations and made good money doing so.
And their most recent project has been to build a really swish place for themselves to live in. The result is immaculate. It would even get approval in Amsterdam. From the outside it just looks like a simple and humble suburban home but once you get inside you find lots of rooms with every conceivable facility. And it has great views from the top story.
When they bought it, it was basically sound but a big mess -- a big enough mess to deter most buyers. So they got it for a very reasonable price. Then over a period of many months they got it right, doing a lot of the work themselves -- but getting in the experts where appropriate. They are justly proud of their result.
Mrs Smith has done many jobs over the years, including a spell at a meatworks where our father also worked. She liked the orderliness of how the place was run. You didn't know that an abbatoir could be orderly, did you? It hadn't occurred to me. Nowadays she is a senior teacher at a Primary school. She does not teach a regular class but fills in doing all sorts of jobs that keep the place running.
She is very critical of the Department of Education. She says that they are always issuing new instructions about things that should be taught -- thus taking time away from the regular curriculum. But the innovations tend to drift away after a while and the school gets back to doing the same things they always did. The bureaucrats can propose and instruct but it is the workers "at the coalface" who determine what is actually done. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose
The Smiths are very health conscious and avoid eating any food that might be a bit suspect. They are big on vegetarian food but are not fanatical about it. My indulgent lifestyle rather horrified them so I did mention to them that my last blood test showed me to have the internal organs of an 18-year-old. Even my blood sugar was dead centre. So my indulgent lifestyle hasn't hurt me yet. And seeing that Mrs Smith and I share 50% of our genes, what is OK for me is probably OK for her too. So I wonder whether that will move them towards a more relaxed diet in some way.
But they have me totally beaten in their fitness. They still walk miles on a daily basis and do things like cycling up hills!
On Saturday morning the Smiths took Anne and me on a tour of the region, seeing mountains and seascapes and localities etc. I was particularly impressed by the many old buildings from the Victorian and Edwardian eras that still stood in Rockhampton. Instead of tearing their beautiful old buildings down like a lot of fools elsewhere have done, the Rockhampton people have renovated most of their old buildings to look as good as new. That was a most pleasant surprise to an old sentimentalist like me
The thing I was most interested in seeing in the region was the immensely controversial Iwasaki resort at Yeppoon -- now known as the Capricorn resort. It is mostly dormant at the moment awaiting a refit but nothing has ever moved fast there. The extensive buildings are still all there but the grounds are not up to an immaculate standard at the moment. In one of the few parts of the resort that is still operating is the Japanese restaurant -- so the Smiths were kind enough to stop there even though Mrs Smith is very suspicious of Japanese food. I of course am a great fan of Japanese food.
I shouted lunch there and Mrs Smith decided on ordering the Japanese curry. I encouraged that by noting that Japanese curry is always delicious without being "hot". In the end she did seem to enjoy it. Anne and I had the pork Tonkatsu, which was as good as it comes. The restaurant was pretty packed when we arrived so many of the locals must share my opinion of the food there.
After lunch we went to have a look at Yeppoon, which I had heard of as a beach to which people from inland go for their holidays. So I expected a small village. I found however that it was a substantial town with lots of shops and facilities.
As it happened, Emu beach was nearby where Anne used at one time in the now distant past to go for holiday breaks. A friend of hers once owned a holiday house there. So she was interested to revisit the house and take some photos of it, which she did
All in all, the Smiths went to a lot of trouble to make our stay comfortable and interesting, which was much appreciated.
The Smiths also insisted on paying for our two nights at the motel. It was a large and imposing apartment motel which was very spacious and comfortable and with good views of the huge Fitzroy river.
It was however odd in having neither a minibar nor room service. Life is full of surprises.
On Saturday night neither Anne nor I felt like a big dinner after our Japanese lunch so we just had Angus burgers at a nearby steak house. And they were remarkably good.
We managed to get up at 6am the following Sunday morning to get a taxi back to the railway station. And the taxi driver was a chatty Australian, which was rather a blast from the past You mostly get Indians with limited English as drivers in Brisbane
I did not like the trip on the Tilt Train. Too slow and cramped. but I have expanded at length on that elsewhere.
July 29, 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
4 July, 2022
A disgraceful Sabbatical in London
In 1977 I had a Sabbatical year in London. It was a lively time involving some people I would not want to embarrass but as I am getting on I think the time has come for me to put up a version of the notes I made at the time. The events concerned did after all happen 45 years ago now.
I was given an office at the Institute of Psychiatry by Hans Eysenck (now deceased) but I did not see a great deal of him. He was a very quiet sort of a person. Not what one expects of the (then) world's most quoted living psychologist.
My Scottish wife was with me until about July when she had to return to Australia. When she left I was not inclined towards a monk-like existence so "let my hair down" a bit in the following months and made a lot of female friends
One of the more remarkable of these was Susan B. I met her at an Intervarsity Club (IVC) do. She is a medical practitioner by occupation (which shows that she was a pretty bright woman), was about 38 at the time (but could pass for being in the mid-20s) and is far and away the most beautiful woman I have ever known. Her looks just bowl everyone over. People just stop talking when she enters the room. She had the looks and figure of a top model (though at 5'7" she was a bit short to be a model) plus very white skin, long blonde hair and blue eyes. She also has a political outlook similar to mine.
Her beauty has had an unfortunate outcome, however. It means men are never honest with her. They will say and do anything to get into her pants. The result is that she has taken refuge in the bottle. She is a dipsomaniac (binge drinker).
I of course was my usual blunt self and she liked that greatly. In fact, when I returned to Australia, she followed me out here within a month or two and wanted me to marry her. It was a tough decision for me. Being pursued by a beautiful and gifted woman certainly is some sort of pinnacle. We really saw eye to eye, I really liked her, bedtimes would have been good, she would have made me much sought-after socially and, as I was a fairly heavy drinker myself at the time, the booze would not have been a great problem. I would just have had to keep her off it during the day and all would be well.
I think the main thing that made the decision for me was that I really liked my wife at the time (I still do). Not only was she invariably pleasant, cheerful, loving and easy-going but we had similar interests in the social and life-sciences and I also found her body more sexy: She had a great figure. I suppose I like sexiness more than beauty. The two have something in common but are far from the same. And my wife certainly made life much easier for me than Suzy would have.
Another real lady I met in London was Margaret T. I still correspond with her occasionally. She is about 10 years younger than me. I met her at an I.V.C. party as well. Her mother is the daughter of an Earl so has the title "Lady". The present Earl (who sat, of course, in the House of Lords at that time) is Margaret's uncle. It is a Victorian title but via another lineage she traces back her ancestry for about 1,000 years. Only the gentry can do that
Margaret is a really kind and gentle person -- 5'10" tall, slim, with very blue eyes, brown hair and quite a nice slim figure. I spent a day or two at her family's stately home. She wanted me to marry her too. But again at the time I preferred my good-hearted and sexy Scottish wife. It was a close-run thing, however, and I had Margaret in mind for many years afterwards.
Margaret at one time took me to see one of her uncles. I initially got that frozen reception that the English upper class reserve for someone who is not one of them but things changed rapidly as the conversation progressed. The English upper classes tend to be to the Right of Genghis Khan and this one was no exception. When I started defending various Right-wing views in a way more plausible than he had ever heard before I was very rapidly transformed into a very "sound" chap in his mind and we ended up getting on quite well.
At that time I think that I could have had almost any social "entree" that I wanted. England at that time was a very good place for someone with Rightist views. The upper class set the tone for the middle class and it is only in the Universities and among the working class that Left-wing views were normative. I moved in the best of circles while I was in England. I even attended a small private garden party in Kent at which Mrs Thatcher (then Leader of the Opposition) was a guest. I got to have a chat with her. There were of course some upper and middle class people in Britain who lean to the Left but they generally kept pretty quiet about it in company.
I met a very pretty little Perth (W.A.) girl in London too. I think her name was Debbie. I chatted her up on the Bayswater station of the London underground. She had just qualified as a medical practitioner and was having her big trip before starting work. She was very bright, good-natured and cheerful and was slim with a very nice set of breasts. I've got a topless photo of her somewhere to show just how nice.
She had blue eyes and blonde hair. She had quite a nice dress-sense, too: simple but attractive and probably fairly fashionable. We could have got on quite well if I had made a bit of an attempt at it but I suppose my wife again suited me better. Still, taking Debbie to bed every night would have been a bit of alright, as the Cockneys put it. She was, however, very attached to Perth and her family so I would have had to move there, I suppose. She would have been about 24 at the time -- when I was 34. The fact that I knocked back a pretty, good-natured young blonde with a good figure and a medical degree to boot does seem a bit hard to believe in retrospect, though. Most men would have busted a gut not to let one like that slip through their fingers. She was real quality. Maybe she was a bit short for me, though -- about 5'4".
We went out together only a few times, mostly to I.V.F. dos. I still remember her effect on the other (English) females at one of them. She looked so much better than they did that they were quite abashed: Like a young rose among withered gerberas. The fact that I was an academic must have helped them feel outclassed too.
When she had to move on from London (in accord with her itinerary) I just let her go. Still, getting the pants off TWO very attractive female medical practitioners in London in the space of a couple of months was rather incredible going. I obviously had what it takes in those days. Every dog has its day, as they say. No wonder I think London is a good place, I suppose.
The Research Assistant
I spent a few nights with one of the female research assistants (Diane?) from the Institute of Psychiatry too. She would have been in her early 20s with blue eyes, brown hair and not much of a figure. I was shocked by her poverty. Her clothes and shoes were really worn out and would have been thrown out by most Australians long ago. This was before Mrs Thatcher's reforms and England really was a poor country then. I gave the girl a good time anyway.
On one occasion I woke up in bed with her in the morning (and made love to her of course), then made love to Angela (see below) around lunch time and then made love to Margaret after tea. It was the only occasion ever that I managed such variety in such a short time.
Go for Goa
The other female mentioned was a Goan (i.e. from Goa), Angela D. Another I.V.C. person. She was in her mid 20s, short and a bit on the ugly side but quite bright with a very bubbly personality. She really liked sex too. She always got very lubricated very quickly. Apparently I was, however, only the second man she had ever slept with.
Her house in Stretton was the most dirty and untidy I had ever seen. She must have thought she was still living in India. After I saw how she lived I tried to break off with her but she would have none of that. She followed me around the streets of London shouting at me about how cruel I was to leave her etc. A bit like the much later film "Fatal Attraction".
After a few dramas she eventually gave me up as a bad job, however. One of the dramas was to get me arrested by the London Police on some wild accusation but they soon let me go.
My ring of fire
I first heard Johhny Cash singing "Ring of Fire" in the early'60s. It impressed me then and I still put it on occasionally.
It has however always peeved me a bit that none of my relationships over the years have seemed like a ring of fire. They all started out friendly and continued that way.
It has recently ocurred to me however that my present loving connection to Zoe is in fact quite a ring of fire -- though not quite in the sense intended by Johnny Cash
Zoe and I are each the opposite of what the other wants. It is a relationship that breaks all the rules. It even breaks my rules. Being reasonably tall myself, I have always liked tall women. I once married a lady who was 5'11". Zoe, however is only 5'1" tall!
She runs miles every day for exercise so is super fit whereas as I have never done any significant exercise and am so unfit it is a wonder I can still stand up at age 78.
Our backgrounds are very different. I am an unflappable Anglo-Saxon and pleased about that while she is a passionate and patriotic Serb. I was born into the world's most influential culture while she was born into a nation that almost everyone has trampled on. She speaks pretty good English but has such a strong accent that I fail to understand a lot of what she says.
Which could be a good thing. Our attitudes and beliefs are very different. I won't give the whole nine yards of it but, as one instance, she believes that the earth is flat whereas I am a conventional scientist with many papers in the academic journals.
We often tell one another to shut up, she nags me a lot and often hits and slaps me. I refuse to change my health and diet customs to suit her and she gets hugely jealous that I still see two of my "exes" as friends.
So how come we love one-another? A small part of it is that we both think the other is good-looking. Why she thinks that about me eludes me but I am glad of it anyhow. You can see her in many posts below or in the sidebar (Sidebar backups here or here)
I think the main influence that keeps us together is a principle I have always followed: If you find two good things in another person all the rest can be negotiated or adapted to. And the two things I particularly look for in women are a high IQ and a liking for classical music. Those are minority tastes but as an academic I am stuck with them.
And my little Serb has both of those rare qualities. Plus a good sense of humor and a liking for kisses and cuddles. She often falls asleep in my arms and I like that.
So how do I deal wih our ring of incomptibiliies?
I deal with them mainly by ignoring them. When she rattles on about her unusual beliefs -- which she often does -- I just take that as a conversation that requires no effort from me. From my mother on, most women in my life have been big talkers while their men did the listening. I am a good listener. And she will decease from a tirade if I tell her to.
But there is also a ring of compatibilities.
We are both high-functioning autistics so understand one-another's autistic behaviours. The fellowship of the autistics is an unlikely concept but something like that does seem to work for Zoe and me at times. Her hitting and slapping me is autistic but it is not done with enough force to be painful so I just smile indulgently at it.
And aging does mellow one. At my age I have nothing to prove and no need to achieve. So I can just sit back and enjoy a relationship.
It does look pretty unstable however. Her disappointment with me is considerable and we have a lot of conflict so how long the connection between us will last is hard to say for certain -- but I think we will endure. It's certainly an unusual love-affair but I am glad I have lived long enough to experience it. The conflict between us is not angry conflict, if that makes any sense
My comments on Johnny Cash are here
28 June, 2022
Getting some sun
Zoe is something of a sun worshipper so we sometimes soak up a bit of sun while she is with me. We sit on the landing outside my front door for a while of a late afternoon.
Given my frequent skin cancers I regard the sun as something of an enemy, however. So when I sit out in the sun, I cover up a bit with hat and sunnies. Zoe actually thought that made me look sexy so she took some photos of me in my protective gear. I reproduce two of them. In the close-up you can see the scars on my cheek from my recent operation. Zoe thought my scars made me look rather handsome. De gustibus non disputandum est
24 June, 2022
An unpleasant day
Recently, a lump of some kind sprang up on my cheek beside my nose on the right. I had it biopsied but the biopsy was uninformative. It was however growing so was probably a cancer of some sort and hence needed to be removed.
I put one of the best plastic surgeons in Brisbane -- someone I know well from past procedures -- onto the job and he successfully removed it yesterday -- charging $4,000 for the job. It was a very difficult job so it was worth that to me.
The tumor went down to the bone and it abutted a facial muscle. In less capable hands I could have been left with a droopy face. It is already a bit droopy due to my having lost a left facial nerve in another cancer operation some years ago. The muscle appears to have been preserved this time however
It was a Moh's procedure so we know that the tumor was all gone before I was stitched up. I didn't have a lot of pain when the local wore off but the site is rather uncomfortable. There was some swelling around the site but I am taking Roxithromycin for it and the swelling does appear to be on the way down. Roxithromycin is a "safer" form of Erythromycin, which has worked well for me in the past. I note that Roxithromycin is not yet approved for use in the USA but is approved in a number of European countries
The biopsy of the specimen yielded a diagnosis of a BCC but the cells were obviously unusual so my surgeon is consulting an oncologist colleague to understand a bit about it. He has not ruled out follow-up radiology.
20 June, 2022
A lot of men die in their 60s so one can easily lose friends that way. I have. Most of my friends are dead. I find that hard to get used to. They are still alive and vital in my memory. I still think of them as they were and miss being able to see them.
So I am rather glad that I am still alive at age 78 and appear to be in good enough shape to last a while yet. And while my friends are dead I am enjoying a relationship with a new and pretty girlfriend. My favourite picture of her is below. I feel very lucky.
14 June, 2022
Aging is a pesky thing
Having a great desire to understand the world about me, I did in my youth become familiar with the Greek alphabet, the Hebrew alphabet and the the Cyrillic alphabet (Russia). To my regret, however I never did learn Devanagari (India), which looks rather pretty.
I have minor qualifications in Italian and German so I find that I can have a fair stab at understanding something in a European language as long as I can read the alphabet. That is assisted by the fact that most languages these days have borrowed heavily from English
But in my late '70s I have lost most of that. I can still read Greek with difficulty but that's about it. And I can with patience look up a Russian dictionary because Cyrillic is based on Greek.
But now that I have a patriotic Serb in my life, I am trying to relearn Cyrillic. I recently sent her an email in Cyrillic. It is below:
?? ???? ??
And I am pleased to note that one of the characters in it is a Serbian one -- not part of standard Cyrillic
The message was warmly received
10 June, 2022
A fun day
Very low-key fun but perhaps that is the best sort.
Below is the raw-food dinner Zoe put in front of me. It was a pleasant and colourful composition -- and probably good for me as well
And below is the composer of that dinner, looking as pleased as she has every right to be
She is wearing one of her favourite necklaces plus a bangle I gave her that day. I feel more than pleased to have such a nice-looking partner in my decrepit late '70s
The bangle is a magnetically fastened one so can also be worn as a necklace. See below in a high definition pic. The Hi-def also shows what remarkably wrinkle-free skin Zoe has in her mid 70s. She ages unusually slowly
And after dinner we went shopping at Coco's and got a whole box of fruit and veg for just $12. Zoe picked out most of what we bought so that is part of the reason why we paid so little. She has a very good eye for a bargain.
We sometimes exchange messages in Serbian Cyrillic. The message for me below below is actually in English but spelt in Cyrillic
?? ???? ??
In Cyrillic, a V shows as a B
I normally greet her in Serbian or Russian when she arrives at my place. Like most Serbs, she understands Russian. They learn it at school and it is a closely related language so they tend to learn it well
3 June, 2022
A food surprise
Because I do not have a live-in partner, I often have to prepare meals for myself -- so I rely a lot on frozen dinners and canned food. They are usually quite passable these days but none reach any kind of gourmet standard.
I can be lucky, however. For my lunch yesterday I ate very well. I had a thick Laksa soup which was excellent followed by a Tasmanian pork pie that was very tasty too. Not quite a gourmet lunch but definitely a good one.
29 May, 2022
Zoe and I did particularly well together today. Her smile may tell you that
As it happens it was a good day for Joe and me today too. After our customary Sunday breakfast burger, Joe offered to play me some things on his Roland piano. He played several pieces by J.S Bach, which he knew I would like and he even played me a wonderful solfeggietto by K.P.E. Bach. It was great to hear that he was keeping his practice up to some extent.
I saw Joe in the morning and Zoe arrived about 3pm for our customary late lunch cum early dinner. She arrives as late as 4pm for it. Given my own Germanic habits of punctuality it should bother me but I just accept it as some sort of Mediterranean thing and allow for it.
23 May, 2022
Visitors from NZ
Now that Jacinda has released her people from the iron curtain that imprisoned them for so long, it is time for Kiwis to breathe free again.
We have already had Pam come over and today we welcomed Suz and her daughter Sahara. Because they could not fly directly from Invercargill, they had to get up early and spent most of the day travelling. But they arrived in time for Jenny to put on a welcome dinner for them, with Joe, Pam, Ken and myself invited as well.
Jenny made two of her excellent Lasagnas so we were well fed. We spent a couple of hours talking before breaking up for the night.
Below is a picture of Sahara, now 12.
21 May, 2022
The ‘intimacy-desire paradox’
We read here:
"That which we desire most in a relationship (read: security and comfort) rarely coexists with that which keeps us attracted to a partner (read: passion and sexual intimacy).
It’s a frustrating contradiction some sex therapists refer to as the ‘intimacy-desire paradox’. In short, this hypothesis proposes the more comfortable we are with someone, the more our sexual desire for them is likely to decline.
Which makes sense, given desire is essentially the result of wanting something we don’t already possess"
I have certainly experienced that in some of my relationships. I have got on so well with my partner that she seems like a sister to me. And there is a big taboo -- of probably biological origin -- which says you don't have sex with your sister. It is in fact the crime of incest. So my sex life rather petered out on those occasions, I am sorry to say
13 May, 2022
I have been shopping again
Below is Pam wearing a necklace I bought for her. She chose herself it so is very pleased with it. Pam is Jenny's bestie, recently released from the prison island across the Tasman
Breaking my rib on 18 April greatly restricted what I can do. So it has affected our relationship quite a bit. She has remained affectionate and understanding but I have been unable to cuddle her, which we have both greatly missed. I am slowly healing however so today was the first day after 4 weeks that we were able to cuddle. Most pleasing
I also bought Zoe a string of pearls. It is a small one as she likes small jewelery
Update: Zoe really liked the pearls. She said it was something that she had wanted. So here is another pic of her as she arrived this afternoon, looking pretty as usual. I really like the way she dresses.
I liked the matching shoes and jumper
8 May, 2022
My mother is long ago deceased so I really have no-one to celebrate on the day. I suppose I could get together with my siblings and have some sort of occasion to honour our mother but we have never done so. I didn't like my mother very much anyway. But de mortuis nihil nisi bonum forbids me to expand on that.
What I have done on some past occasions is meet with family members who are mothers and have a nice lunch. Most of the family concerned are overseas these days however so that was not on.
Zoe solved the problem for me today. She said that she acts like my mother so I should shout her a lunch in honour of that. So I did. I took her to the Burmese at Stone's corner, where I regularly have the roast duck. It was as good as ever today.
My fitness has undergone a fair bit of improvement recently as my broken bones slowly heal. My foot seems to be completely healed and my ribs don't bother me if I move carefully. One memorable thing in that department today was after we got home: I sat Zoe on my knee. It's decades since I have done that with a woman but Zoe is only 55kg so that made it possible. It was a good experience. She makes a good playmate, among other things
As the Apostle Paul said: It is more blessed to give than to receive. I have always believed that. And because of some good decisions in my earlier life, I accumulated substantial financial assets. And I have even managed to hang on to the assets so far. Making money is one thing but hanging onto it is another. A lot of people make big money but then go on to lose it.
So I am in a position to give gifts to people in my orbit. Most of my gifts have been quite small but some have been quite large. I have even given cars on some occasions.
One thing I have often done is give small items of costume jewellery to Anne. I have put up pictures on this blog of some of the items concerned. I seem to have a good handle on her taste so I often buy the items before she sees them and they mostly seem to go down well.
Since early this year I have had a girlfriend in the person of Zoe so I have started to give her things too. Below is a bracelet I recently bought her. She was with me when I bought it and it was something she herself selected. I thought it was particularly pretty so give a picture of it below
Anne has not been forgotten however. Below is a bracelet I bought her just this morning. She has not seen it yet. I think it is rather striking
Today is also a red-letter day. Today I left my surgical "moon boot" at home. My broken ankle now seems to be fully healed. I am still walking around very cautiously however -- still using a walking stick
26 April, 2022
Yesterday was ANZAC day. I have attended Dawn services and watched the marches on various occasions in the past in both Brisbane and Sydney. It is both a solemn and a happy time. I am quite disabled at the moment so I could not participate this year. I did however do something both special and mundane: Joe and I went to Macdonald's for brunch. We in fact went to a local Macdonald's that Joe has been visiting since he was 4.
It was special because I am so disabled at the moment. Joe had to help me quite a lot to get there. I had to lean on his strong arm while walking. But it was a pleasant occasion and made a very welcome outing for me. Since I cracked a rib, outings have been few and far between. I am not bedbound but I am decidedly housebound. Just the day before, Joe and I had had our usual Sunday breakfast at home to cope with my limitations
ANZAC day is a people's day. It marks the loss of thousands of ordinary men and women in the battles of WWI. I myself did lose relatives in both WWI and WWII. So it is a day on which we honour members of our own families: Men and women who fought and died for "King and country" but who were really motivated by a wish to protect their own families. It is Australia's greatest national occasion.
The "Courier Mail" has a splendid photo gallery of this year's occasion in Brisbane. I particularly liked the photo below. It was presumably a re-enactment group who had gone to the trouble of donning the army uniforms of WWI:
Note the Lewis gun. It was used a fair bit in WWI.
And if you look at the gallery as a whole you will note the large number of Australian flags being displayed. It is a day on which we are openly proud of our Australian identity. The Left have always hated it but they have never been able to ding it. A novel mocking ANZAC day was even prescribed for High School reading during my teens. I remember it well: Alan Seymour's "One day of the year".
The day could have been one for old men to celebrate their past but it is not. Old Diggers do of course lead the celebrations but young people also turn out in droves for the occasion. The Left have forced much upon us but the people at large have thwarted that attack. As an ex-digger myself, I am glad of that.
25 April, 2022
Any reader of this blog will have come across many mentions of Anne, a lady whom I have been seeing for many years. I see more of Zoe these days but I still see Anne. So maybe I should at this time put up a small note about our relationship.
I met Anne on Sept 1, 2005. In my December 2005 Christmas letter I commented as follows:
"I now have a new lady by the name of Anne. She is such a keen chorister that she is in two choirs so she and I share a lot of musical interests -- including an interest in early church music.
Anne is a nurse by trade and tells me that everything you hear about the Queensland Health bureaucracy is true".
Curiously, although Anne does not appear to believe in God in any way, she still has Presbyterian beliefs. How come? She still believes that: "it was all meant to be". The Scottish churches are of course all originally Calvinist and even the 39 "Articles of Religion" of the Church of England accept predestination in a convoluted sort of way but you never hear that belief preached from any pulpit that I know of these days".
And from the beginning of 2006 up until quite recently the occasional events recorded on this blog have almost all featured Anne in one way or another
Anne and I continued together as partners -- seeing one-another just twice a week -- up until March, 2000. At that point she introduced me to another man she had had in her life for some time. She had found a new partner. After 14 years together and with both of us in our mid-70s, I had hoped that we were together for good. But there were things that were important to Anne which I was not giving her so I did not for a moment blame her for looking elsewhere for those things. And getting them has drawn her close to George, her new bloke.
She told George from the beginning that I would remain important in her life so he has accepted that, apparently not without some reluctance. And Anne has remained true to her word. We have continued to have meals together, though less frequently than before.
Despite her seeing a lot of George, it was clear that Anne really did want as much as possible of our old relationship to continue. I give her things that she treasures that George cannot give her. So we both agreed that our relationship was permanent, which I wanted. Because of her engrossing relationship with George however, we meet just once a week over breakfast, which is as enjoyable as ever
So the story of a large part of my later life is the story of my time with Anne. Below are links which take you conveniently to that story:
23 April, 2022
I have gradually put online a few memoirs of the relationships I have had over the years. Below may however be the longest such memoir so far. I kept detailed diary notes of my experiences with Geraldine at the time and below is an extensive extract from those notes.
From my earliest days, I assumed that I would one day meet a highly compatible lady, fall in love, marry her and live happily with her for the rest of my life. It's a common dream but has remained a dream for me in my 78 years so far.
Along the way, however, I met many fine women whom I spent a lot of time with. They were very good years but none of the relationships proved permanent. I married four times in search of my ideal but after the fourth marriage broke up, I decided simply to accept what came my way. And much did.
I met Geraldine in 1999 when she was 51. She replied to an advertisement of mine earlier on in February and we got on rather well over the phone but she cancelled two arrangements for a meeting on that occasion. So she seemed a skittish woman from the outset. I did however know that she liked Bach so that was a big advantage from my musically-obsessed point of view.
We remained in some touch so we eventually got together in person in October. I arranged to meet her at a pavement cafe ("La Dolce Vita") at the foot of Brisbane's mini Eiffel tower in Park Rd., Milton.
After I made the appointment I realized, however, that I had a problem. JHM and I were booked to go to a concert that same evening and it was one of the UQ Music Department's "Twilight" concerts -- starting at 6pm. And to drive to the concert, get parked and walk to the venue all takes time. So how was I going to fit in both the 4:30pm meeting with Geraldine and the 6pm engagements?
I mentioned the problem to JHM. She suggested the only possible solution. She would meet me at the Eiffel tower after I had time for my talk with Geraldine and we could proceed from there to the concert.
So we did just that. I met Geraldine at 4.30pm at the Eiffel tower and sat talking with her there until JHM arrived at 5.15pm to collect me. So poor Geraldine had the surely bemusing experience of sitting at a table talking to a prospective boyfriend only to have the man's beautiful ex-girlfriend roll up to collect him from her!
I did explain in advance to Geraldine what my arrangements were so she did not seem put out and when I rang her after the concert (from JHM's place!) and asked her out to another concert on Sunday. She accepted! I thought she had a lot of heart in the circumstances. What I did was certainly not the ideal way to win a fair lady, I would think. But I did eventually win her.
Geraldine was a Primary School teacher when I met her -- 5'5" tall, with an education degree and a diploma. She was at the time aged 51, had steady blue eyes, a slim waist, a nice figure and short brown hair. She was rather more wrinkled than one would expect at her age -- probably because of her outdoorsy lifestyle and the fact that she was once a smoker.
She was a very keen bushwalker -- in part, no doubt, because of the endorphins she got out of it. She was even big on solo bushwalks.
She was quiet to the point of taciturnity but as I am generally reserved too, I understood that. She was also a good example for the saying that one should not judge a book by its cover: Although seeming like a quiet little mouse, she was no mouse in the bedroom. I liked that!
Her husband was an accountant with OCD tendencies who had left her for another woman when she was 35. He had however provided for her and her three children fairly well (giving her quite a lot of money every month) and given her the very pleasant matrimonial home in Brisbane's generally salubrious Western suburbs.
Anyway, I took her to the concert at the Customs House at lunchtime on 31 October 1999 and things went quite well between us. We went for a walk in the Botanical Gardens afterwards and talked a lot. We had some lunch there at the kiosk and an NCOT at her pleasant Western suburbs house afterwards. She got my strange (very weak) tea right first time! A clever woman. I told her that I took my tea at Chinese strength and that is how she made it.
She said afterwards that she would cook dinner for me on the Sunday but on Sunday morning she rang up and cancelled it. On the Tuesday after that we had a phone conversation in which she announced that she did not want to see me any more. Asked why, she said: "Because I feel a slut". I tried to tell her that there was nothing to be concerned about but I could not persuade her. There were of course other things about me that were bothering her as well but I had little idea of what they were at the time.
I wrote her a letter afterwards but that did no good either. It was a pity because she seemed to have the basics of what I wanted -- a good mind, a liking for Bach, and a good figure. She was however much quieter and more reserved than any woman I had ever met before.
Later in the year I sent her a Xmas card with a version of my usual Xmas letter in it. In the letter I mentioned that an old girlfriend and I had got back together. I mentioned that the lady had a higher degree in the social sciences and a great figure.
A naive person might think that a paragraph such as that would really hammer the nails into the coffin of any hopes I had for Geraldine. It did the opposite, of course. Why? Because: It confirmed that I was desirable, that I did not need her and that I would not be waiting around for her indefinitely. It confirmed that breakups were not final for me, it showed that problems can take a while to sort out, that I am willing to work on problems for the sake of a relationship and that I was still thinking of her even while I was with another desirable woman. It also took away any pressure from her to leap into a relationship with me straight away. I intended it to generate jealousy and it did.
So she emailed me with congratulations on my new relationship and an invitation to join her on a Sunday drive up to Montville (an arty-crafty place), which I did. She brought a picnic lunch with her and we had a nice day's outing, with lots of matters discussed. From that point on it was clear that she had mostly overcome her reservations and was prepared to develop a relationship with me.
Christmas 1999 was something of a watershed in our relationship. Geraldine had a custom of going for a week with her children every Christmas over to Stradbroke Island in Moreton Bay for a relaxed time and to commune with nature. I went over to join her the Tuesday before Xmas and also on Boxing day. We greatly enjoyed rambling about together looking at the scenery, swimming etc and also, of course, bedroom activities. We both developed a marked increase in involvement on those two days.
As I left after our Boxing Day meeting, she put two "Minties" in my pocket. What a fine Australian girl! Such a simple kind gesture so evocative of our shared ethnic Australian culture did endear her to me. It was what a loving Australian mother might have done for one of her sons going off on a trip.
The relationship between us developed rapidly after that. New Year's eve (the "Millennial" new year), on 31.12.1999 was particularly memorable. I felt that the occasion was certainly far more fun than a 56-year old deserved, despite being (unbelievably, I suppose) non-alcoholic. I did abandon my teetotalling long enough to open a 30 year old bottle of "Arealva" Portuguese red wine that was left over from my drinking days but it was (surprise, surprise) off. So I went back to lemon squash at that stage.
I was well on the way to monogamy with Geraldine at that stage but had not quite got there. I was still in transition from the previous girlfriend. It did however give me the most interesting New Year's eve I had had. Quite Millennial:
Our next day, the first day of the new millennium, was memorable too. Geraldine arrived at my place at Forest St at 12.30pm equipped with picnic things. We drove to the Moreton Bay foreshore at Wynnum and had our picnic lunch under a shady tree on the Esplanade there whilst enjoying the view out to sea. The bright blue sky, the sand and mudflats in the foreground, the green sea in the middleground and the dark blue Bay islands in the distance made a pleasant scene, withlots of birdlife, some sailboats etc. as well. We then went for a long ramble along the foreshore.
We spent the rest of the afternon at her place talking and listening to CDs of Albinoni and other classical composers played on the computer she has in her bedroom. Geraldine then made us some very good spaghetti for dinner. We then drove up to the top of Brisbane's very own Mt Coot-tha equipped with a Thermos and drank our tea whilst enjoying the always pleasing spectacle of the multitudinous and many coloured lights of the city of Brisbane spread out all around below us and into the far distance.
When we arrived back at Geraldine's place, we found that she had not taken her house keys with her. So I had the unexpected excitement of climbing up on the roof and through a bedroom window to get us in. Around 11pm, we had some chocolates to eat and I then went home in a tired state. We had two trips to scenic spots, two meals, several cups of tea, one swim and a roof excursion all in one day. Active but very enjoyable!
Shortly thereafter she had a pre-booked walking trip to NZ, during which we corresponded
A little over a week after she got back, however, we broke up! Her adult sons did not approve of her new relationship so that put pressure on her as she had devoted her life to them after her marriage breakup when she was 35 (she married at 22).
I did get her back again after only 4 days apart but a week later she broke it off again. After that breakup (the third), however, I decided that I would be foolish to attempt a full-time relationship with her again.
Thinking about it at that time, it seemed to me that the major problem between us really was that Geraldine found the relationship with me to be very intense and just did not have the emotional energy to cope with it on a full-time basis. That did not seem likely to change but it seemed possible that we could still see one another on a part-time basis as long as we had both come to accept that developing it beyond that would be too ambitious.
I certainly accepted that. Even seeing one-another once a week would however seem to be a pretty good thing and could be an arrangement that would be stable over time. That, after all, is how it was with JHM and me at the time. Not that any two relationships are ever the same. But whatever we did, I saw it as very important to have full disclosure to one-another of our thoughts about it. I think we gave one-another unnecessary grief before that because of our tendency to hope for the best rather than work together on doubts and problems.
Shortly after Geraldine and I had built up to seeing one-another four nights a week I stopped seeing other women and began a monogamous relationship with her. She was really the only one I wanted to be with by that time, despite other lubricious opportunities. It still surprises me a little, however, that I was so romantic about her. The other women around for me at the time were pretty good catches. In short, I passed over 4 remarkably attractive and intelligent women for a quiet little mouse! Rather amazing. I just liked Geraldine's mind better.
Her skittishness however did not go away. We continued to have lots of breakups and reunions and I eventually got tired of that and took up with another lady. We were together in all for about two years. We parted finally on 14th April, 2002.
18 April, 2022
A VERY mixed day
Zoe and I had arranged to go out for lunch yesterday. She arrived at my place very late, however, as she often does. It was nearly 3pm when she arrived and restaurants mostly close at 2:30 after lunch. And the ones we were thinking of were all closed.
All was not lost however as there was a small cafe open just down the road which had a good menu. So we went there
The seating, however consisted of backless stools -- so as I was settling in I leaned back and promptly fell off -- falling flat on my back on the floor. I didn't feel hurt anywhere so, after a couple of kind people helped me up, I continued with my meal. I had a burrito that I thought was very good and Zoe liked her vegetable salad
On the way, home, however, I felt a lot of stabbing pains in my chest and suspected that I had damaged a rib in my fall. Zoe and I however continued our date and had a very nice time for a few hours. It was probably the most congenial time we have spent together. So she want home in a happy state and sent me a very affectionate email when she got home.
So I was and still am feeling very happy about my relationship with her. I suspect that we have now done the hard yards and we will be happy together fairly permanently from now on. I really have begun a good new relationship at age 78.
The downside was however my injury. Jenny took me to the Wesley this morning for a scan and they confirmed that I have a small rib break on the upper left near my shoulder So it is not very serious and should heal well enough on its own. They think that I will be pain-free in a couple of weeks.
So it was good to establish a warm relationship with Zoe but bad that I broke a rib. If I move carefully, I can avoid much pain from the break.
15 April, 2022
I seem to have got my little Serb back
Which I am very glad about. I do appreciate her. She enlivens my life
Zoe and I had a bust-up recently but I persuaded her to have lunch with me today. As most restaurants close on Good Friday, we had the meal at home.
Two things made a good impression on her. I provided a lettuce for the salad instead of our usual spinach and I greeted her in good Russian when she arrived . Serbs like Russians and vice versa. Zoe learnt Russian at school.
Our time together went well and we have another date for Sunday lunch so I think we are back together. There were sighs of contentment from her at a couple of points so I liked that.
3 April, 2022
The duck is a very tasty bird but also is rather skinny. There is not much meat on a duck. I am always on the lookout for a good duck cook but mostly I find that the offering is both not very tasty and rather small.
Today however Zoe and I went to the Burmese restaurant at Stones Corner for lunch and I got quite a good meal of duck. It tasted ducky and there was plenty of it. Zoe just had salad in her usual way.
As I have a small break in my anke from a recent fall, I cannot drive -- but Zoe got me into her SUV and drove us both there. I use just a moon boot to get around at the moment. I no longer use crutches or a walking stick. Both Jenny and Anne also drive me around on occasions so my life is pretty close to normal. I don't like driving anyway. Joe drove the two of us to the pie shop as usual this morning.
March 28, 2022
I am still taking it very carefully but have gradually become more able to get about without pain. I mostly walk about the house using one crutch and with the boot on. The boot is a bit uncomfortable but appears to have had a big role in healing. I can and do walk short distances without it now with no pain. I take it off at night so I can sleep in some comfort so I do some very short walks at that time. I can now actually get into my shower cubicle with neither crutch nor boot and no pain -- so that is a blessing.
My life has not been greatly disrupted by my fall. I usually spend most of my day at my computer and I can still do that. And last Sunday I made it to my usual Sunday breakfast at the pie-shop with Joe. Joe has been enormously helpful in dealing with my temporary disability.
Zoe initially was upset by the change to our relationship caused by my fall but we have in fact continued our usual routine of Wednesday, Friday and Sunday dinners. As usual, we had the dinners at my place with both of us contributing in various ways.
Last night was a particularly pleasant night, with Zoe telling me about her past encounters with Serbian politics. She strongly supported opposition to former President Boris Tadi? (2004 to 2012) and felt unsafe in Serbia because of that. Living in Australia allays such concerns.
March 23, 2022
A pesky episode
I have been having some arthritic pain in my right knee. It comes and goes and is generally no great problem. It became a problem last Saturday morning (19th), however. As I was going down my front stairs, my knee suddenly "went" on me. So I fell over abruptly and hurt my ankle. Falling on hardwood stairs is not a good thing to do so I had at least a sprained ankle and could only walk painfully from that point on.
So next day I arrived with Joe at the emergency department of the Wesley hospital seeking an x-ray to check for any broken bones. One gets first class treatment at the Wesley with no waiting. It costs rather a lot but I always go there if I can because I like the friendly and polite way I am treated there. I saw an emergency physician who was very communicative and attentive and the x-rays were promptly ordered and carried out.
It turned out that I had broken a small bone in my foot. The doctor bandaged it up firmly and referred me to get a surgical "boot", which I did the next day. So I am hobbling along on crutches, greatly limiting what I can do. Rather disrupting things I had planned
March 18, 2022
Beside the seaside
Z asked me to take her to the beach. Such a request in Brisbane would normally elicit a trip "down the coast" to Surfers Paradise, Greenmount, Currumbin etc. And in the days of my youth, I often pointed my sky-blue VW beetle in that direction.
It is now many years since I have been there however and in my declining years I have a considerable aversion to sitting in traffic for the hour or so that such a trip entails.
So I took Z to the beach at Manly, which is only half an hour's drive from where I live. It's not much of a beach but it is a reasonable venue for a picnic lunch, which is how I approached it. Z was not too disappointed by it and we managed to have one of the raw food lunches that Z insists on.
After lunch was the big test however. Z wanted me to join her sunbaking on the beach. Given what the sun has given me in the form of skin cancer, however it is many years since I have exposed my lily-white skin to the sun.
But I am a reformed man these days. Instead of frequently saying No to outing requests from a female partner, I am these days doing what I can to oblige. So I agreed to join Z in the sun but added a warning that I doubted my ability to get up from lying on the beach.
And so it was. In my elderly State I was unable to get up even if Z lent me a hand. There was a fit young man nearby however so Z asked him for help. He obliged and I was able to stand up in a rather wobbly state.
So Z did get a bit of time sunbaking but not much. With her trim and tanned little body she looked a real surfer chick.
On the way home my driving scared the wits out of Z a few times but no harm befell us.
Thursday, March 17, 2022
A rogues gallery
Some pictures of me in the last few years: Most recent last. My blotches have receded a lot in recent years
16 March, 2022
A small but amusing episode
It was rather warm this afternoon so Zoe and I were lying together in bed with an airconditioner above us putting out a pretty good icy blast.
At one point I leant over to give Z a kiss, which was of course welcomed. When I pulled away from the kiss, Z said, "You are cold like a snake" -- which cracked me up. She was referring to my face being cold from the airconditioner blowing on it. I said, "That's a strange thing to say to a man who has just given you a kiss."
She saw the point and said. "It's my autism" -- which it was. Being autistic myself I am well used to autistic bluntness. I often sabotage myself that way. I once lost a lover because of it
Anyway, a picture of the guilty party below. Like a lot of ladies she is into clothes and, fortunately, I like her taste. I thought the blouse below was particularly pretty.
11 March, 2022
To Nandos with Zoe
I have eaten out a lot in my life but with Z we mostly eat at home. She likes uncooked food so that limits restaurant options. But Nandos do offer a couple of salads and that suits Z well enough. So we decided to go there tonight.
I was under strict orders from Z that I must have some salad. So Z had the Continental salad and I had the same plus chicken. I have had rather a lot of chicken lately so friends should not be surprised if I start going cock-a-doodle-do occasionally
Z dressed for going out and as usual got a good result. I thought she looked quite pretty in her outfit. The yellows and browns went with her tanned skin, She has a good figure so she wears clothes well.
The pic below was taken in night light so is a bit dark
I supppose it must seem a bit soppy of me to put up pix of Z so often. Truth be told, I am really pleased to have a presentable girlfriend when we are both in our '70s. It's partly due to the fact that she works on her health and fitness. She RUNS several miles most days for exercise
2 March, 2022
Living with Zoe
By the skin of her teeth Zoe managed to bypass the floods on Sunday and got over to my place via Ipswich Rd. But she could not get back. So here she stayed until around 5pm today, Wednesday. And even then it took her 2 hours to get home via various detours.
So we were suddenly living together for 4 days, something unforeseen by us both. We did have some frictions but we also had a lot of laughs so it all went reasonably well. She went home in a high mood.
While she was here, she had a field day bullying me into eating raw food (fruit and salads) for my meals. I didn't give in entirely however. I had sausage rolls from time to time to meet my need for junk food.
Being confined by the floods she didn't have much to do for a lot of the time here so she unleashed a cleaning blitz on my place. Some places got cleaned that had not been cleaned for years, given my bachelor habits. She even cleaned my assortment of power boards
This afternoon we undertook a short outing to Kangaroo Pt. to look at the flooded river. It was indeed wide but still well below where we were standing. See below
While Zoe was "housekeeping" at my place she showed a rare talent for Ikebana. Below are two lettuces in one of my vases
26 February, 2022
Life goes on
Zoe and I are still getting used to one another amid a lot of positives. Being involved with a passionate Southern European is a new experience for me but we have a lot in common and she is very bright and very feminine so it works.
It is however a great departure from the meek and orderly Australian women I am used to. Zoe arrived for lunch at 3pm yesterday, which might give you an idea of the difference. I just rolled with it however. No recriminations.
She lives out Ipswich way but drove to my place at the Gabba amid all the bad weather -- so that was impressive.
A picture below of her bringing cups of tea from the kitchen. I liked the pale blue blouse she was wearing. She dresses very well.
"And now for something completely different"
Zoe at the most recent "Pro-choice" demonstration in Brisbane. She and I both believe that taking the Covid vaccine should be a matter of personal choice, not compelled by any kind of government mandate or pressure.
24 February, 2022
A lesson about depression
I am almost always buoyant in mood: Nothing gets me down, almost. I didn't know the meaning of the word "depression" until I was in my 40s. But I have not escaped so lightly since.
Being a high-functioning autistic, I have always found it easy to interest intelligent single women. My diversity in attitudes can generate a certain fascination. But it doesn't last. I have had a lot of relationships but the ladies eventually walk away. My communication deficits emerge and generate dissatisfaction.
That has rarely bothered me. In no time at all I just waltz into a new relationship feeling totally carefree. No moping or reflecting at all. But every suit of armour has its chinks and I have twice been very upset about losing a long relationship. And that has led to serious depression, complete with the suicidal thoughts that usually accompany depression. So I now know what depression is all about.
But the thought that has always sustained me at such times is an awareness that brighter times lie ahead. If I were to commit suicide I know that I would miss out on many happy times that lie ahead for me. And so it has happened.
I had quite a bit of depression at the time of my near-fatal encounter with cancer last year. But the happy times are now back. My health is very good, my friendship with Anne is now warmer than ever, Zoe has stopped nagging me about my omnivorous diet and Jenny has come through her encounter with the dreaded virus in good shape. And my relationship with Zoe is filled with lots of laughs. I am a lucky man.
February 17, 2022
I am the elderly one. Zoe walks miles at the drop of a hat. So I rarely drop hats.
We have started to have some sedate outings together. Below is from an outing to Mowbray Park.
Note the undropped hat
Isn't she gorgeous?
February 15, 2022
I wonder what the average man thinks when he sees what attractive women rich and famous sportsmen can have in their lives. See Keely Hannah above. Envy is an understandable response.
But at 78, I actually don't feel envious. I look back and remember some very good-looking women I have had in my life over the years and see myself as having had my share of such women. I see it as mere justice that my choices now are much more limited. I accept that I cannot now aspire to having in my life such knockout women as the one above
And it helps that my girlfriend is pretty nice looking in the context of her and my present age. I suspect that Zoe is pretty close to as good as you get among women in their mid 70s
Original article here:
February 14, 2022
My valentine this year was Zoe. At her request she got her red roses and card the day before (Sun. 13). She stayed for both lunch and dinner that day. We also dined together on 14th. She contributed some good cakes. We had some good conversation so she stayed rather later than she had intended
February 12, 2022
My Lesbian sister
All the people in the note below are now deceased so I think I can safely say something about them now
My sister Jacqueline was two years younger than me -- born 14.9.1945 -- and was always from childhood on known as "Jack" -- an omen of things to come
As we were
"Jack" as a kid
She died in her '60s and had no children. She died on July 4 2009 of the family illness -- breast cancer. Her death was expected and both her female companion and her ex-husband were with her until the end.
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. 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.
She was always attracted to other females but made the effort to try a conventional marriage by marrying her good friend Gary Ward. Gary was a very masculine man, a truck driver and at one time a policeman. And Jack had a lot of masculine attitudes so it could have worked. And they did try all the possibilities in bed in an effort to make it work. But it was no good. She left Gary for another woman. They never ceased to be friends however, through all the ups and downs of their subsequent lives. Gary did after a while marry a real woman and had kids but he still remained friends with "old Jack" as he called her.
It is actually wonderful thing that they always had one another as supportive friends. It must have been a great emotional strength to them
Another support for Jack is a somewhat surprising one: Her mother. My mother was always scornful of men and was a women's liberationist before that was common. She was an admirer of the suffragettes. I think it is pretty clear that she would have been a lesbian if born 40 years later.
Anyway our mother was not at all put out by Jack becoming a lesbian. After "coming out" Jack described herself and her mother as "getting along like a house on fire".
So she didn't have a bad life. She missed out on the joy of having children but I doubt that she was much bothered by that
I saw little of Jack during our adult lives. One might have thought that as we were both interested in women we should have had a lot in common. But we were of course interested in a different sort of woman. Jack's women seemed to me to be pretty rough whereas I like traditionally feminine women.
I think I got some masculine characteristics from my mother as well as from my father. I think I got a certain degree of aggression and great self-confidence from her. So I was well equipped to get on with traditional women. Real men like real women and vice versa
February 10, 2022
La Belle Dame sans Merci
Autism can be both a blessing and a curse and I have had both. But two autistics together can work rather well. Zoe is also a high-functioning autistic. And that seems to facilitate our understanding of one-another. It was a bit amusing recently when I bought her a small gift and she simply rejected it outright and without apology. She just said she did not want it.
A normal lady would have politely accepted it out of respect for the giver if not out of respect for the gift. But tactless bluntness is a major fault of autism so I was not at all offended. I have myself too often offended in that way. I am inclined to suspect that our shared high-functioning autism is what draws Zoe and me to one-another. She slept in my arms last night so we are obviously pretty relaxed with one-another. Long may it continue.
Did you get the classical allusion in the title of this post? It is copied from a famous poem by Keats. It means "the beautiful but thankless lady". Keats had a rough time with the ladies. The poem includes an example of spondee rhythm, for anybody who takes an interest in such things
The latest picture of La belle dame. She is only 5'1" but very lively
A pain in the neck
Sore joints (arthritis) seem to be a universal companion of old age. Two ladies in their '70s that I know have had great problems with it. One has had both knees replaced and the other has had both hips replaced: Pretty gruesome but better than arthritic pain. My problem is cancer -- now all under control -- but I was probably doomed to get arthritis too.
I did. I have had an arthritic neck for over a year. I had a way of coping with it that worked well for a while but that gradually faded out and I was left with a very painful neck when I woke up in the morning. Aspirin fixed it but I had to wait a little while until the aspirin was absorbed.
So I tried something else. I took Ibuprofen, which is basically an anti-inflammatory medication. I took it as I went to bed. It was a miracle. I woke up pain free.
I have a long record of never taking any pills for my health or anything else, however, so I looked askance at taking Ibuprofen long term. So I experimented. For the last two nights I have taken NO analgesics. And for two mornings I have awoken with only trivial neck pain. My pain in the neck has just about vanished
How come? I can only guess the answer to that. My preferred explanation is that the Ibuprofen permanently reduced the inflammation in my neck. My second theory is that I have been doing a physiotherapy exercise with some frequency lately and that should have helped. And my third theory is that maybe the steroid injections into my neck that I had three weeks ago have finally cut in
But maybe the pain will return and all three of those explanations will be knocked into a cocked hat. I will continue my exercises, though.
February 9, 2022
A first dinner
I met Zoe at the very end of last year. Both of us had advertised on a dating site called Match.com. She liked the older of several pictures that I had up there so ticked me with a "like". But she thought that might be misinterpreted as a general endorsement so on Christmas day, 2021, she sent me an explanatory message as follows.
"Hi, I like your photos from earlier age. I would be in love with you. But you can still return your clock back if you go to healthy nutrition. That means go to 80,10,10 raw vegan diet, means not cooked food and no food from animals. Maybe you can go and with just fruit diet. Regards Zoe"
A rather mixed message but a nice Christmas present. Her self-summary was:
"I am an honest person, intellectual, curious, want to learn new things. I believe in nature and God"
The picture that she particularly liked. She says she liked my broad forehead. It is a picture from my 70th birthday
Below is the picture of herself that she supplied. Note: No wrinkles, not bad for a lady in her 70s.
A surprising thing I found is that she is a Serb and that her degree is in mechanical engineering from the University of Belgrade . That is quite a departure. Nearly all of the ladies in my past have very much been from my own community. Though she and I might at a stretch be said to belong to the same Volk. She certainly thinks we do. She says that my very Northern colouring -- blue eyes and fair skin -- make me a "good Serb". She herself has rather Mediterranean colouring.
We actually met over lunch at my favourite coffee lounge on New Year's Eve, which is sort of prophetic.
We went on to have various lunches at my place, with me supplying raw food, as requested. For a while we had lunches only as her weight control discipline is to have breakfast and lunch only: No dinner. But my bedroom was next door the lunch table so the time of the day did not matter much. We were soon lovers.
But last night for various reasons she for the first time came over for dinner instead of lunch and that went very well. Several happy sighs from her while we were in bed together spoke volumes to me
Two pictures of her at my place below:
February 2, 2022
The spoilt man
Zoe still seems to be strongly attached to me despite my refusal to adopt her unusual dietary and medical beliefs. So I suspect we are together for the long haul. I will certainly do nothing to hinder that. I am normally quite faithful to the lady in my life so that will be true againSo I now have three ladies that I see regularly, an ex-wife, an ex-girlfriend and Zoe. I value them all greatly as they all contribute great positivities to my life. So with three ladies helping with my various needs, I should be a happy man, should I not? Surely only an ungrateful wretch would ask for more!But I would like more, which is not the same as getting it, of course. I have a need for very intellectual discourse. Since my autism makes me freakishly intellectual, however, I have always accepted that no lady in my life could provide that. Fortunately, however, there was one occasion where my wishes of that sort were met. With JHM I did have an intellectual peer in my life. I don't ever expect to have that again but it would be very nice if I did.Mind you, Zoe did today mention both Herodotus and Oedipus so that looks like an unusual familiarity with high culture
Update of 13 Feb.: When Zoe wanted to mock me as being idle (I am) she quite appositely referred to me as being an Oblomov, which is an allusion to a classic 19th century Russian novel. So her cultural level seems quite high, though with different reference points to mine.
Serbian has a lot of similarities to Russian so Russian is an easy language for a Serb to learn. So a primary awareness of Russian literature is to be expected in a Serb. Whereas my orientation is of course to English literature, with a bit of German thrown in.
January 31, 2022
Musical compatibilityI have always been a classical music devotee. I get a lot out of it and greatly dislike most popular music. And that creates problems for me in relationships. I need the lady in my life to be able at least to tolerate classical music. And where both of us are aficionados, it is a tie that binds.So when Anne downgraded our relationship in March 2020 I went on dating sites to find another lady --with the stipulation that she should like classical music. That ruled out 99% of the available possibilities so it took me a long time to find another partner.So when Zoe contacted me I was pleased that she liked Bach. Bach does things to me. And during our afternoon together yesterday, she asked me to put on some Schumann -- which I was delighted to do. I put on my favourite Schumann: Kinderszenen. You have to be a real classical devotee to have heard of Schumann so Zoe and I are very compatible musically. She makes me a happy man
She has a very trim figure too, not bad for a lady in her 70s
January 29, 2022
A virus attack
I had a slight cold a few days ago. Sniffles and a slightly sore throat. I had to take cold medicine -- Codral -- for the sniffles but I did that for only two days. I have been back to normal for a few days now. The big easing of Covid-motivated restrictions would appear to have allowed all the usual viruses to spread again. My symptoms were nothing like Covid. No headache, no high temperature etc. And I don't think even a runny nose is a usual Covid symptom.People respond to Covid in different ways, however. Some are infected but show no symptoms at all. So, to be on the safe side, when Anne and I had our usual Saturday brekkie we did not kiss or hold hands and sat in a semi-outdoor place. We still fitted in our usual visit to Vinnies, however and Anne came away with a small trophy.
January 16, 2022
A new friend
Since early 2020 I have been in two semi-relationships -- with my ex wife Jenny and my ex-girlfriend Anne. Both are very congenial arrangements that I probably should be completely happy with but I would like a little more. And both ladies are happy about me seeking a little more. So it is hopeful that I have recently had a few lunches with "Zoe". She has declared feelings for me and later today there is a development that may be significant. She has asked to see me more than once a week so we will now be lunching on Sunday as well as WednesdayZoe is from Southern Europe and is around my age but very fit. She does however speak English with an accent that does give me trouble understanding her at times. She is however clearly intelligent, is a very independent thinker, takes an interest in history and likes Bach. Those are all big pluses from my viewpoint.She also has strong food preferences. She eats raw food only: uncooked fruit and veg. I of course am a normal human omnivore. I have however made some concessions to her wishes in regard to food. I have so far provided all the lunches and have offered only uncooked fruit and vegetables for us both to eat. She wants me to convert to a total raw food diet but I have said No. She says a raw food diet would make me young again. If only....Anyway we do appear to be advancing towards a real relationship. But only time will tell, of course
UPDATE of 29th
Zoe and I became lovers on our fourth meeting. Quite respectable, I think. She is a passsionate Serb however so storms soon ensued. I dealt with the storms with my usual Anglo-Saxon calm, however, so all is now serene. Even the dreaded M-word has been mentioned
A new computerIn June of 2020, I rejigged my living room. I bought an old but large TV unit with lots of drawers to sit a TV on and and I bought a largeish new TV and and a very comfortable new sofa. Sofa below.I rarely watch TV so I wanted one primarily to play classical music videos on YouTube. Watching a performance as well as hearing it does add something. So I needed a computer to hook up to the TV. I had an old office computer which slotted well into the TV unit so I decided to use that. Its output was VGA only and my new TV of course took HDMI only. I circumvented that problem by buying a small converter from Jaycar. It worked.But recently it stopped working. When I turned the computer on one morning the TV reported no signal. I thought at first that the old computer had finally died but then it occurred to me that the VGA to HDMI gadget might have died. I have found that Jaycar sells a lot of Chinese rubbish these days. And so it was. I took the computer downstairs to the garage and hooked it up to an old VGA monitor I had there. Everything worked perfectly! The computer was OK after all.But since I no longer could use it to drive my TV, I had to get a new computer. I chose one of the cheapest laptop computers Officeworks was selling - for $347. As I just wanted it for one thing, that should have been fine. It wasn't. After I had gone through the enormously complicated process of getting it up and running, it ran for only one day. Next day it would not recognize its own keyboard! It was a Lenovo product which I had expected better of.So I took it back to Officeworks in a very disgruntled state and swapped it for a slightly dearer one -- another Lenovo. So I had to go through the agony of setting up another computer. But I got it going and it has been fine since. It's a pretty minimal computer with a small hard drive, only two USB ports and no cable connection for the router. I could have just relied on WiFi to get the internet from the router but I had a cable to USB converter so it is now something a bit unusual for a laptop: one connected directly to the router. It should be a bit faster that way.So I used the two USB ports to connect the router and a mouse. So I was up and running. I wanted to connect a couple of extra things, however: A regular keyboard and a USB drive to facilitate file transfers. I had a hub so I plugged the hub into the mouse port which made the El-cheapo computer more versatile. It now has 5 USB ports.I was not in a great hurry to buy a new keyboard so I was a bit lucky to find a Lenovo keyboard for $5 in an OpShop. It is nice to use but is a bit non-standard in that it has some sort of proprietary keys on top of the F keys. But is does the letters and numbers as usual so that is all I want for watching videos. The laptop has similar keys on top of the F keys so I obviously have something to learn about that
The TV unit accomodates the laptop nicely -- and unobtrusively
UPDATE: Joe has explained the expanded F key identities to me as facilities for dealing with videos. Seeing that I want to use the computer to play videos, that might be useful. So my $5 keyboard is in fact completely up to date
For posts on this blog in 2021, see here
For posts on this blog in 2020, see here
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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