William McInnes and local Trivia.

Attended a literary luncheon at my local, The Grand View Hotel, this week. The Grandy is the oldest licensed hotel in Qld, and has Brisbane’s best beer garden with sweeping views across Moreton Bay to Straddie ( North Stradbroke Island). She is a fine host and I have enjoyed many celebrations under the palm trees over the years : Graduations, Birthdays, and Engagement Parties.

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William McInnes is an Australian television and stage actor, although my personal experience of his thespian talents is limited to an ABC miniseries twenty years ago when he poured himself into a wetsuit. And poured himself so very well, may I add.

McInnes is also an author and writes a weekly column in the weekend paper. He gently touches on social commentary with a dash of whimsy and nostalgia.This weekends article was about undertaking trombone lessons at high school and only ever achieving sounds reminiscent of flatulence. Stupid but we’ve all been there, haven’t we?

Born in Brisbane when she really was a country town McInnes speaks with a distinctive deep voice. When you read McInnes you can hear that voice. He tends to write about nothing in particular and includes memories of growing up by the bay, when times were totally different; when fishing off the Redcliffe Jetty with mates was a top afternoon, as was eating hot chips wrapped in newspaper. These were the days when you were thrilled to receive a watch or a pen with your name inscribed for your 18th birthday, and not a brand new car from Mum and Dad like today’s Muppets.

I read his first book over ten years ago, “A Mans Got To Have A Hobby”, which was literally, advice handed down by his father. Like how to master the handshake.Important stuff.

His latest book is based on a subject that is very close to his heart. Fatherhood is about family, about memories of his father and the memories he’s creating as a Dad himself, with his own son and daughter.

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The blurb says that this book “contains memories of hot summer days and cooling off under the sprinkler while Dad works in the garden with the radio tuned to the sports results; that time Dad tried to teach you to drive – and then got out of the car and kissed the ground; or taking your own kids on a family road trip.”

McInnes is a storyteller. He is genuine, modest, and I don’t think he is aware that his stories are so funny. Coming from salt of the earth, hardworking stock his family life has provided the basis for many of his stories. It’s the commonality that makes him so endearing.

This is a tale he shares of his dying mother, which I think sums McInnes’ upbringing in a nutshell.

I walked into the hospital one day to visit Mum and found a Sister of Mercy beside her. She leaned in to tell Mum her son was here. Mum asked, without opening her eyes, “Which one? The fat one or the stupid one?” The sister half-smiled and said, “I don’t know.” Then Mum opened one eye and looked at me and said, “The stupid one has gotten fat.”

I grew up in a household of similar ilk.

McInnes’ wife died when the kiddies were School age.

I was brought up by a Storyteller, a storyteller who flew Lancaster’s over Germany during WW2 yet suffered horrific nose bleeds every time he took me out for a driving lesson. A storyteller who listened to the races on the radio whilst gardening and who taught his daughters about equine bloodlines, how to fix a lawnmower, and who encouraged us to run under a sprinkler on those stinking hot summer days because people who had backyard pools were poseurs. I also lost a mother far too young and was shaped by my family.

I’m probably also the stupid one who has gotten fat.

Great afternoon, thanks Bill.

PS. Some trivia :

This waterway is where Angelina Jolie had the actor playing Louis Zamparini in Unbroken cast adrift in a raft until the Japs picked him up, where Johnny Depp filmed parts of Pirates of The Carribean number 2, and the second Narnia movie was filmed. But that’s another story…..

When it’s in the stars…..

The Astrology forecast for Gemini’s this week is “to take the time to read an enlightening book or listen to some uplifting music”.

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I’ve just finished reading Jasper Jones by Aussie author Craig Silvey. Fantastic coming of age book based in rural Australia in the 90’s and since adapted into a movie and a theatrical production. It covers incest, murder, domestic violence, race issues, and infidelity. In spite of all that, it is a gently positive tale full of hope, love and friendships. Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringold is another beautifully crafted book which captures all the beauty of Australian wildflowers, the various belief systems of different cultures, and the brutality of domestic violence.

Confined indoors because of much needed rain all weekend I also indulged in a card reading. Why? A girl is allowed to be frivolous, isn’t she? The cards suggested that I should read an uplifting book. I get the hint…..

Interestingly, regardless of the bleak themes of both these books they were quietly uplifting. Naturally, there was non stop music playing in the background and Harry Connick Jr definitely filled the brief.

I’m not really into horoscopes – they are not something I refer to on a regular basis despite being surrounded by chakra, crystal, and aura fanatics – though I do have a favourite astrologist who I read on my birth date each year and who always includes a quote. This years quote totally resonates:

Follow your inner moonlight, don’t hide the madness”
( Allen Ginsberg)

NOTE : Enlightening Books?

Not sure what makes one of these, although I have just filled a handbag full of personal products for women fleeing from a violent situation as part of Share The Dignity’s “It’s In The Bag” Christmas Cause. Refer http://www.sharethedignity.com.au.

Dying Shackled To A Desk Is Not An Option

I am staring down the barrel of my last twenty seven days of paid employment. Well, twenty six really because I’m throwing a sickie to be at the first day of viewing of the movie, In Like Flynn. Anyway, so relieved I simply cannot put it into words. So very over regimentation, clock watching, office politics, and lately, millennials telling me how to do things. Such as when you are chasing information. Serious information. I am so fed up with “Check out Pinterest” or “Go to Instagram”.( And I’m sooo close to spitting at the next millennial who whinges about their inability to afford housing. Get off your butts and walk to the local cafe for your lunch: don’t pay for your bespoke sandwich to be uber delivered. WT!)

Kiddies, Life is more than bullet points and pretty pictures. Life is not manufactured. It is so much more.

Most of my circle are pleased for me, aware that I have been working since I was 17 years of age, in one form or another. Good, as no further explanations are necessary. It is correct, as it has been pointed out to me, that I am some years off retirement age. I don’t give a Rats, and neither should you.

Not only did I attend a wedding last week, there was also a funeral on the other side of town. Fun wedding and I paid for the time on the dance floor for two days with a mild level of discomfort in the hips. Go you good thing!

Funeral was fun too, as only a good funeral can be. Lots of food, good company and memories. Chatted to the sons of the deceased for some time sharing stories. It’s funny how much you learn by sharing stories, isn’t it? A yarn with these lads, both of a similar vintage, has me now investigating the music of Pink Floyd, and in particular, the Final Cut album. Pink Floyd – surely the background music for every party held in the 1970’s? The soundtrack in my family home was more Mario Lanza than Roger Waters.

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Another funeral next week for a work colleague in a previous life who literally died at his desk at work.

So, I’m feeling fine and looking forward to spending more time. Just spending more time.

Have done the rounds of Financial Planners, Accountants, Banks and all the other experts in the retirement field.

Story in today’s media about a Financial Advisor and his corporate wife who are struggling to pay their bills on a combined gross income of $215k. Well, who would be going to him for advice??? And have you noticed that so many of these Financial Advisors seem to be about 12 ? Okay, so about 28 – 30ish. I’m opting to follow my gut instinct. It’s time to go. No way am I falling off the tree shackled to a desk. There are stories to tell, music to enjoy, books to read and adventures to be had.

These are the books I’ve been lent this week by friends who have concerns that I will get bored. Thankyou, girls. Didn’t your parents give you a clip around the ears if you ever used the B word?

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Major retirement goals include :
* Breaking the cycle of waking up at 4 am. A thirty year habit.
* Mop floors weekly and clean house</del
* Listen to more Pink Floyd
* Keep houseplants alive

That will do for now. And that’s okay.

Twenty seven days. I’m pulling up my big girls pants.This is in the bag.

Thanks, Willie. You put a smile on my dial this morning.

A Couple of Recently Released Aussie Books…

Between 1947 and 1971, more than 320,000 migrants passed through Bonegilla Migrant Camp on the banks of the Murray River in rural Victoria making it Australia’s largest post-war migrant centre. It’s estimated that one in twenty Australians has links to Bonegilla.

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The novel, The Last Of The Bonegilla Girls by Victoria Purman, commences with four young teenagers forming a friendship and sharing their lives within this Camp; a Greek, Hungarian, Italian and the daughter of the Australian Camp Director. It starts strongly by highlighting the difficulties experienced by each these families upon their arrival in a new country: language barriers, segregation, cramped living conditions, limited employment opportunities, and a mix of cultural beliefs. Despite these differences these lasses remain friends as their families move forward into Australian society and remain in contact for the next fifty years.

Although these families are assimilating they also retain their own cultural identities and customs – arranged marriages, working in the family business, dating from your own ethnicity.

This could have been a really good and educational book but it deteriorated midway to just another soap opera episode with flings left, right and centre.

I have fond memories of northern Italian neighbours snatching the bread rusks off my teething babies and giving them chunks of salami to suck on instead. Greasy and full of garlic but it certainly stopped the grizzling.(umm, I probably shouldn’t mention that said babes had their first taste of Lumbrusco on their first birthday. Hands up those for the Mediterranean diet!)

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Well Done, Those Men: Memoirs of a Vietnam Veteran by Barry Heard is a difficult read, made more so as it was written as part of his journey to recovery from PTSD. It’s rawness made me flinch.

This memoir covers several versions of Barry: the naive and young country boy, smart arse Barry at boot camp, Barry the soldier of Vietnam, and the Barry who returned home a different man.

This is another one that had me asking why did we not learn anything about this conflict in High School history classes. You know, I don’t even have any memories of discussions about Vietnam around the dinner table.

I would not recommend this book as a fun read, but by God I think it a wonderful reminder of the strength of the wives, sweethearts, and family members who support these old blokes.

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Lastly, Liz Byrski’s A Month of Sundays is about four women from an online book club, who meet up and holiday together for four weeks to talk books and memories (with an illness thrown in for good measure).

Byrski is a journalist and writer who gears her books to an audience of women over the age of fifty and/or retired.

I’m just letting it be known now that if the highlight of my life becomes a weekly yoga class, as in this book, I’de be popping a cyanide pill.

Calamity Jane and High Fives.

My eldest daughter works with children. Not as a childcare worker or educator, but rather as one of those courageous folk who save kiddies in harms way; those born in crack dens, who don’t get a decent meal for a month, and those who suffer all sorts of unthinkable atrocities. She is so busy rescuing that she does not have her own little ones, unless you include Bentley, my beautiful Grand Furbaby.

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Little People love my daughter and she is Godmother and “Aunty” to several. This child of mine, deemed an old soul at birth, and one who reversed our mother-daughter roles when still in her late teens, has recently validated my worth as a parent.

How, you may ask?

When asked for sage parenting advice by friends, such as a good DVD to keep the young ones interested and content, does my daughter recommend Transformers, The Wiggles, or anything slightly superhero related?

No. Josie is slowly introducing the 1953 movie, Calamity Jane, a light hearted western musical starring Doris Day and Howard Keel, to a whole new generation. One lounge room at a time.

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Way to go, girl !

From IMDB:
In the lonely Deadwood, Dakota, territory, sharpshooter Calamity Jane (Doris Day) falls for cavalry Lt. Danny Gilmartin (Philip Carey) when she is forced to rescue him from the Indians. Recognizing that the women-starved townsmen long for a “real” woman, Calamity journeys to Chicago to bring back famous singer Adelaid Adams, but mistakenly brings her maid Katie instead. Heartbroken when Danny falls for Katie, Calamity all but ignores her jovial friend Wild Bill Hickok (Howard Keel).

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Doris Day is just beautiful, whether dressed in animal skins or in flouncy petticoats, and this is a joyful little flick full of fun. It requires no intellectual dissection – hanging the brain at the door along with the hat is compulsory.

Imagine, a movie that can hold the attention of our most vulnerable and impressionable, without a Hemsworth in sight.

Now that’s a win for Mother, I would say. High Fives all around please.

UPDATE : My other daughter tells me that Calamity Jane, the stage production, is coming to theatres in the ACT.
Now that’s worth some thought.We won’t tell Jo as she is inclined to break into song with “The Black Hills Dakota”.Aq

Full Moon, Do You Think?

It’s mid winter Down Under which makes for great reading weather. These two news items grabbed my attention during the week, providing such big belly laughs that I thought I would share.

Australia does not exist.

https://theculturetrip.com/pacific/australia/articles/some-people-think-australia-doesnt-exist-heres-why/

It’s official : Sean Connery was the best Robin Hood.

https://www.nottinghampost.com/news/local-news/its-official-sean-connery-best-1635532

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Putting it down to a full moon.

The Other Wife by Michael Robotham

287687AE-F4FC-4739-8CC5-D0D96BA9E43DThere was some interest in my local, the Grand View Hotel, so I thought I would share some more photos to prove that my favourite port of call on a hot summer day is not just about the wine. Besides, it is mid winter here.

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Here are some snaps of the view across to North Stradbroke Island, affectionately known as Straddie, as well as shots of the beer garden.

I’ve also included a photo of the lunch venue for the launch of Michael Robotham’s latest crime novel, The Other Wife. Yes, I did get there, though it’s a long story.

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Interestingly, I was so miserable at the prospect of missing this function that I purchased the novel as an e-book earlier in the week for $15. Now I’m not good with e-books. I can’t feel the pages, I can’t put them on a book shelf, and there is no intimacy. It was simply an impulse buy to salve my despondency as I needed to know what happened to my favourite Clinical Psychologist, Joe O’Loughlin, right then and there. Not because I am a nut job – although that is debatable –  but because these psychological thrillers are just so damn good. $15 for an E Book – how ridiculous is this!!!!!!!( Yes, how stupid am I?)

Anyway, we scrounged some last minute tickets where the paperback, signed by the author, was available for purchase for $23.00

I read The Other Wife in one sitting. I will reread it again because there was so much I missed, being in such a hurry to find out “who dunnit”.

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I’ve become attached to Joe O’Loughlin just as I have with Cormoran Strike (by Galbraith), because they have to function on their intellect rather than their deteriorating bodies, unlike Bond, Bourne, or Reacher who depend on their brawn. An aside : I stopped reading the Jack Reacher books once Tom Cruise became involved in the movies of the same name. “Suspect” is the only way to describe this unpleasant little man…..

If you get a chance to listen to Robotham he is fascinating. Humorous, light and uplifting – not at all what you would expect from an experienced Crime writer and Ghost Writer for professional criminal analysts. He was generous with his time sharing background experiences, tips to assist the writing process, and his interest in secrets.

As for Joe O’Loughlin? He’s doing it tough in this one. His Parkinsons is worsening, the daughters are grieving for their mother, and when Joe’s 80 year old father is rushed to hospital with neurological issues after an incident, Joe comes face to face with his Dad’s other wife in the Intensive Care Unit. Talk about secrets……..

 

 

Literary Events In My Neck Of the Woods.

My local pub, and witness to some truly appalling dance moves when Irish music is combined with Chardonnay, is hosting a literary luncheon featuring Aussie crime writer, Michael Robotham.

 

Robotham’s novels have been shortlisted for numerous awards including the UK Gold Dagger and US Edgar Award. Four of Michael’s ‘Joe O’Loughlin novels’ have been turned into TV movies in Germany and an English language TV series is in development. His standalone novels Life or Death and The Secret She Keeps have also been optioned for film and TV projects in the US and UK.

As part of this event this Friday, the author will be discussing his latest release, The Other Wife, which again features Joe O’Laughlin. Never heard of Joe? He is a fascinating character: a Clinical Psychologist battling Parkinson’s disease with a plethora of his own problems. Love him to death. Isn’t strange when you really do get attached to a character in a book?

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The reviews suggest that this will be Joe’s last outing, so I can confirm there has been some angst in my household as I am unable to attend.

I am attending a book launch next week, come hell or high water. The Missing Man is the biography of Len Waters, the first aboriginal fighter pilot.

From SMSA :
Len Waters was a Kamilaroi man. Born on an Aboriginal reserve, he left school at thirteen and by twenty was piloting a RAAF Kittyhawk fighter with 78 Squadron in the lethal skies over the Pacific in World War II. It was serious and dangerous work and his achievement was extraordinary. These would be the best years of his life. Respected by his peers, he was living his dream.The war over, it should have been easy. He believed he could ‘live on both sides of the fence’ and be part of Australia’s emerging commercial airline industry. He had, after all, broken through the ‘black ceiling’ once before. Above all, he just wanted to fly. Instead, he became a missing man in Australia’s wartime flying history.

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Waters lived in the Brisbane suburb of Inala for over thirty years. It is at the park bearing his name that author Peter Rees will be sharing an insight into Len Waters.

Last year, I reviewed here Peter Rees’, Lancaster Men, which was a fascinating read, and one that wasn’t so technical that it blew us non military types off. I’m hoping for something similar with The Missing Man.

And yes, I’m still a tad belligerent over missing Robotham and enjoying a wine by the Bay. Brizzy May’s home is one for the very brave only at the moment.

Mid Year Update.

A friend is currently travelling across France and posted this beautiful photo of Poppies growing wild in the fields. Aren’t they just beautiful?

I recently planted my second lot of 2000 Poppy seeds to be in full bloom for Armistice Day. 100 per cent Fail Rate, second time in a row. The long dead Depression parents must be watching over me. I can hear “ Pet, if you can’t eat it, we don’t grow it” in my head.

 

FCE36840-0603-43FD-B500-FAE037479E4DAs of today’s date I have finished 60 books this year. Another dozen or so were started, but dismissed as trash. Life is too short for Trash.

Here is my haul from the latest book charity sale. $5 well spent, don’t you think?  Well, closer to $20 when you take into consideration raffle tickets and Girl Guide Biscuits.

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The Little Street Library is starting to get a few visitors, with locals both contributing and borrowing books.It looks like some of our littlest readers are having fun:

Only one book left to complete the 2018 Australian Author Challenge. Four years ago I could have named only a handful of successful authors from my own country. This Challenge has motivated me to read and appreciate more Aussie literature, and not just by those few making a good living out of it. It has also allowed me to track my reading habits – with not a wretched spreadsheet insight – which has in turn encouraged the reading of different genres. (Is that personal growth? And aren’t I too old to care?).

Local author, Daniel O’Malley, a friend of my youngest daughter, who I very courageously reviewed here recently, (courageously because he writes “ Sci Fi, Fantasy, with a dash of Monty Python” !!) has recently had his book, Rook, picked up by the BBC for conversion to a television series. Good job, young Dan!

Another of my projects is creating a list of authors that will encourage me to read an author from every country in 2019. I’m thinking an A – Z thing.

The Christmas in July Trivia Night is coming along ok although getting bums on seats can be a pain in the posterior. (Collective groan). It is a fundraiser for Wounded Heroes, an organisation which assists our exservice men and women when they need a hand up. The Country Women Association, those great purveyors of scones, jam and cream, are on board to cook Roast Lamb and veg and Apple Crumble for 150. Wish you all lived closer….

And a development in the She-Shack…….

Since downsizing 18 months ago I don’t have the same wall space to place my bibs and bobs.  Now I have an easel which will allow a rotating display. It’s my very own Peggy Gluggenheim Museum.

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It is winter now and I am loving it, though just like grizzley bears, I do tend to go into hibernation.
Continue reading “Mid Year Update.”