Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Well, it's the last day of a most uninspiring year -- working today as I'm singing at CJ's wedding on Friday. Was easier to swap the day off instead of fussing about rushing back to work. Working Saturday means I can't go to Newstead though.

Let's hope that next year turns out to be a more positive time -- at least I've got the Ring to look forward to.

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

I miss my regular visits to and from P&B -- P will be back on Thursday, with B following on January 6. Not long now.

Last night, after racing home to feed the Spencinator, I went to see GH in Footscray. He's been madly spackling and painting his nice new walls and windows. The place is looking good. He's well and keeping himself busy; when he's not working, he's sitting in front of his computer editing video.

This morning got up early and took myself off to see the Community Health Centre's resident vampire -- yes it's time for the blood tests again. Also made appointment next week to see Dr C to get the results. Then set off to feed Mr Spencer - he was very friendly, rolling around on his back for me to rub his (rather matted) tummy fur. After filling his bowls I set off to Johnston Street where I promptly missed a bus. Had to wait about fifteen minutes in the sun; today was a scorcher.

Took myself into town and saw the new Looney Tunes film; the animated characters were more amusing than most of the live actors. Particularly nauseating was Steve Martin's humourless overacting. For all its faults (and I wasn't expecting Citizen Kane) I got a few laughs out of it; I particularly enjoyed the (sometimes almost subliminal) cultural/film references, eg the double line of girls in Paris (Madeline) and the red balloon. And the Daleks. The chase through the Louvre pictures was clever too. But the best part was that I was inside in a cool cinema on cheap day (only $9) while it was forty degrees outside.

Tried to call Tat tonight to arrange Friday (CJ's wedding) but she's engaged, or on the net. So I sent her an email instead.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Back at work again today -- it's still quiet.

Yesterday evening DG came round to help me plough through the pile of left-overs; chicken, ham and potato salad stocks are slowly diminshing. And there's still summer pudding left -- considering how much it cost, I'm glad it's lasting a while. We watched Sunset Boulevard, which P&B gave me; I hadn't seen it all the way through for around twenty-five years. It was great fun to see again.

This morning did the usual trip to Smith Street to shop -- took the jeep which I had liberated from P&B's when feeding the Spence last night -- didn't need much as I'm still living on the aforementioned left-overs. Then I sat down and watched another episode of Homicide: Life on the street; I have no second thoughts about buying the third series on DVD, it's good stuff.

A quick trip to Abbotsford Street to feed Mr S, then to work.

Friday, December 26, 2003

Well it's all over for another year, thank goodness.

Yesterday was delightfully quiet -- I got up around 8.30 and proceeded to clean the house a bit, mainly sweeping and the odd bit of vacuuming. Ironed a table-cloth (no easy feat considering the size of my laundry and ironing table) and made sure the table was ready. Then made the mayonnaise for the potato salad and washed the lettuce -- a bit close to meal-time I carved the chicken and sliced up some of the ham. It was all pretty much painless. Oh, and turned out the summer pudding, pouring over the remaining juice so that the top (which had been the bottom) was well soaked.

Mum arrived by cab around 11.45, and Tat not much later. We spent a quiet time eating and drinking and chatting until, around 4pm, we drove Mum home. Very little traffic on the roads made for quite a painless journey.

The weather was perfect: not too hot, with a gentle breeze. Would that all summer could be like that.

Later I managed to force down some leftovers (including summer pud) and spent the evening watching DVDs as the TV offerings were woeful.

Work as normal today; well, not quite normal as there is hardly anyone around.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

After work on Monday I went to see BN in Footscray -- gave her the Waltraud Meier DVD which I think she will really enjoy. Then yesterday, on my day off (working on Sat) I had lunch with MG and then shopped at Reading's for last-minute gifts for DG and Mum. Ended up buying myself a copy of Quicksilver, by Neal Stephenson -- will keep me out of mischief for a while: it's a biggie.

This morning was spent roasting the chook for tomorrow as well as making summer pudding and potato salad. Then into town to buy cake for LJ's birthday. On the way I thought I'd give myself a treat by updating my mobile so dropped into the Telstra shop in Elizabeth.

I explained to the man that I wanted to update my phone, so he called to get details of my account. I had to speak to the guy who asked me my password, which after so many years I had forgotten; then he asked for my date of birth, my address, my home phone number and my middle name. He then informed me that Telstra's records had my birthdate wrong by one month; to correct their records they have to sight proof of it, ie a driver's licence, passport or birth certificate. Not having a licence I was unable to do this. I did, however have to show the salesman my work ID card.

I thought that it would be plain sailing from there, but when he hung up on the accounts person, the salesman then told me that for an upgrade he would have to insist on seeing proof of my birthdate...

At this stage I calmly (yes, calmly) said to him that it was all obviously too difficult, and left.

I cannot see why I should provide Telstra with licence/passport/birth certificate -- all I want to do is upgrade my phone. I have an existing account, which must date back at least twenty years; the mistake in their records is theirs, as I would never give anyone a birthdate which made me any older than I am. And I was able to prove I was me, so what's their problem?

At work I discovered that LJ, who recently got a new phone, was rung up by Optus offering her a new phone as she had been a long-time customer. When she accepted, they sent it to her by mail.

Working tonight, but probably only until 10pm (or even earlier) as tomorrow's paper will be v small.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Friday night B&P came for Sri Lanka takeaway -- the people in the shop are so lovely; they were telling us all about a mitadel built on top of a small hill (or large rock) which looks spectacular. Must go there (the takeaway) more often.

Saturday morning was shopping, then in the afternoon did a bit of cleaning up (horrors) and had a quiet night in front of the TV.

Sunday went to Mum's as normal; then AC called and said he'd come and pick me up around 2pm, as he needed some time away from the children. He came in and said hello to Mum, then we headed off to the ABC for Sunday Live (The Palestrina Project). D was with him -- he's lovely; plays the flute and teaches, and is looking for a position in an orchestra somewhere. The concert was mostly good and afterwards we all went to Fed Square for drinks. I knew about half the members of the choir.

Later we headed to Trinity for AC to say hello to the people at Canterbury Fellowship; but we were running late, so we headed home instead where I cooked a bottom-of-the-fridge risotto. AF turned up briefly to touch base with AC.

It was wonderful seeing AC again; he's put on a little weight round his neck, and he's started going grey(!). His new job at the Wigmore sounds really interesting, and I'm sure he'll be fabulous in it.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Dinner at Bhoj last night with Dean, André and Hauke was delicious -- good time was had by all.

Had email from BJAT to say that she will sing at CJ's wedding (with EG) and will also join Mum and me for Xmas lunch as she hasn't made any alternative arrangements.

Have not heard so far from AC who arrived last Saturday, or so I'm told.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Weather has been hot for the past few days and shows little sign of easing until the weekend.

Forgot to mention yesterday that I caught up with L, L and M (from Canberra) at P and B's. It was lovely to see them all -- M has grown since I saw him last.

Working midday to 8pm today which has kept me out of the hottest part of the day (in the 30s). The AC is one really compelling reason not to take holidays in the hottest part of the year - it's bliss coming to work. After work I'm eating with Dean, André and Hauke who are in Melbourne for DC-4 installation and discussions; we're off to Bhoj.

Have been playing with the new scanner; the attachment for slides works fine, but I still have to try out the neg thingie. I think it allows for strips of six negs, whereas I suspect most of mine are four per strip. Must find that box with all my pictures from the trip in 1976 -- I haven't looked at those slides for a very long time.

The poor garden is looking bedraggled: dry and dishevelled (can it look hevelled?). I must get in and pull out some of the things that have gone to seed along with all the weeds that shot up after the rain.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

This system is playing funny beggars -- I wrote an entry about Friday night's nursing home gig (followed by lovely Vietnamese meal in North Melbourne) and Saturday's gig playing for Amanda's teachers' students (all done without a run-through with any of the singers), but it seems not to be here. Unfortunately (for you) I can't be bothered recreating it.

Have been having trouble getting Peters mp3 player to work; Bruce's computer only has Windows98 and the player needs a minimum of 98SE. When we tried it on my machine, it could not be seen. Very peculiar. Then, when I tried to set up my new scanner I initially had similar problems, so it could be my computer. We'll try again with the mp3 player when we can synchronise ourselves.

Friday, December 12, 2003

I don't know what came over me, but I got Berlioz's dates wrong. He wasn't born on December 3, but December 11, which means that yesterday was his bicentenary birthday -- I was actually aware of this error last week (after I'd posted) but forgot, and was reminded last night while standing on platform 1 at Flinders Street listening to the radio (Franc juges overture) when the announcer put me right once and for all.

Not much to report, mostly work. Went to the VCA after work last night and played for AC. She's singing on Saturday night so we ran through a few possibilities. Then home to eat dinner in front of the TV -- the other night I bought the extended DVD of The two towers and have been watching the extra "making of" material. The whole sequence on Gollum is fascinating.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Weekends are never long enough -- after shopping with P in the morning we went into town to look for a mp3/voice recorder for him. Looked at some at On Audio then moved on to Myer's where we found something similar but $20 cheaper than at OA. It turns out, however, that it requires a minimu of Windows 98SE, whereas B has only 98. Will talk to JW about upgrading the operating system.

I left P in town and headed down to the Arts Centre where I met up with Mum and Deb -- we saw "Blithe Spirit" with a great cast: William McInnes, Pamela Rabe and Miriam Margolyes as Madam Arcati (sp?). The set was extraordinarly (and unnecessarily) garish, but the performance was fun -- I had forgotten completely about the maid. It helps to have a bad memory; you can read/see books/plays repeatedly without knowing the end.

Sunday marked my return to the bike; I rode to Mum's for lunch. It was warm, but not too bad. It was good to be back doing some form of exercise. In the evening D, P and B came for dinner to discuss arrangements for next year's Ring Cycle in Adelaide. It was resolved that B would check up on accommodation -- we decided that Flinders Ranges is not on, but if we are in Adelaide for a week we can do several side trips in our days off.

Yesterday, spoke to B who said that the place he tried for accommodation was keeping its rooms free for people who went to the previous cycle -- D successfully tried the Adelphi (?) where we stayed for Parsifal and it will turn out quite cheap (around $300 each for the week). B also found $85 flights on Virgin Blue -- if we book both ways it's still cheaper than the train.

Last night had rehearsal for Friday's nursing home gig -- the guy we're doing it for worked as an arranger and we're doing two of his pieces. It turns out that my tenor partner is to be Grantley, who, of course, was not there for rehearsal. It'll be fine, once we battle the Friday traffic to get to Donvale (gosh, where's that?). When I got home, rang P about arrangements for seeing "Master and Commander" tonight; he told me that B had got results about his nose (see his blog, link at left) and that he'd prefer to put things on hold for a while. I'm sure the film will be on for some time.

Last night was the second hottest December night ever, but I managed to get a good night's sleep. Leaving the fan on for an hour or so before I go to bed helps to cool the room down. Can't sleep with it on, though.

Yesterday was work Xmas lunch -- $40/head buffet at the Savoy. Food was good (for a buffet) but the whole thing was a bit overpriced. Despite this we all had a great time -- the hardest part was not eating too much of one thing, so as to leave room for all the other things you wanted.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Heard from a few people I haven't been in contact with for a while: Greg R in Sydney, who is soon to move to London; Simon B in London who sent his new email address and is writing and publishing music when he's not singing; and Tat who has finally reactivated her email account and is still enjoying herself with Kristina M in London.

Have also been exploring the world of library-related blogs (not as boring as many would think) and adding many of these to my FeedDemon news aggregator, which saves my having to go to these pages every day - just brings it all to me.

Went to see DG last night after work. Took my camera as he wanted me to take some pix of the power cables into their factory. Their bills have sky-rocketed recently and he's a bit concerned that someone is piggy-backing their supply. After going back to his we went to Prahran (Greville St; much too trendy for me) where we were intending to eat at Blake's Cafeteria. However D noticed a bar he'd been to before, so we went there.

Well, we should have stuck to our original plan as the menu was unexciting (I had char-grilled breast of chicken on polenta with grape sauce, which was OK -- just OK), the service indifferent, and they allowed people to smoke at the tables. Oh, and the water tasted as if it had been in the jug for a century. Not what you'd call cheap, either.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

I can't let today pass without marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Hector Berlioz, an amazing and still under-appreciated composer. His memoirs, which are totally unreliable, are nevertheless very entertaining as are the "Evenings in the orchestra". I'm not aware of any major celebrations in Australia, although the Châtelet in Paris have just mounted a new production conducted by John Eliot Gardiner which sounds terrific. Let's all hope that it is eventually released on DVD.

Happy Birthday Hector!
Sunday's Gloriana concert went off well, though we were all a bit pooped at the end of it. The Josquin had a few shaky moments, but the consensus from out front was that it sounded good. Afterwards we reassembled and Ken Irwin (from The Age) took pictures for next year's publicity. It was good to see P & B there; it was B's first outing for some time.

Was sick yesterday with a tummy bug so spent most of the day lying about catching up with taped TV shows and being generally somnolent. Last night there was the most tremendous storm - it started lightning and thundering (lightning-ing?) through the evening and then, before I went to bed, it started to rain fairly gently. However not long after I got to bed it started to pelt down, while continuing with the son-et-lumière show. If anything, it seemed to get harder over time until it turned into hail. I fell asleep in the middle of this somehow comforting racket.

When I got up this morning and looked out the back I was surprised that the decking was dry. Not until later did I turn on the radio and find out that much of Melbourne had suffered badly from this storm; Station Street in Fairfield (which is not too far away) was badly flooded, with many shops experiencing bad water damage. People were also rescued from cars on the Eastern Freeway.

It all reminds me of February 1972 and the floods in Elizabeth Street: I was working at the GBRE Bookshop in the PB Shoes building in Bourke Street at the time, and in my lunch-hour went over to Myer's. Standing on the bridge between the Bourke and Lonsdale Street stores I looked westward and saw a Mini floating down towards Flinders Street... astonishing!

Let's hope that some of last night's rain ended up in the right places, such as catchment areas, reservoirs, etc.

About lunchtime I had a call from BM who's out here for a fortnight before heading back to London. Won't be able to catch up in person but had a nice little chat and he expressed the hope that he and K might see me there in the new year. We'll see...