Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

some more emails with my brother

March 2, 2015

On 3 Feb 2015 04:27, “NEWMAN, Ross” wrote:

I just felt like a bombastic opening. Once again I have finished my jobs for the week and it is only Tuesday. I have grown weary of my self-inflicted stop-gap jobs, and have begun counting the days until we jet off for New Zealand, there to re-enact the famous Etna Creek Prison Classification Committee Meeting of 1981. Period costume will be the go, simply because that’s what we are still wearing. We (that is, the Classification Committee) remain victorious; the star turn of that distant day, whose name I cannot mention, has enjoyed an almost unbroken stay in prison to this day.

I wonder did any news of our State election reach you? I had vowed that if Labor was voted in I would migrate to NZ. Well, as it happens, neither party is able to form government, so I may have to compromise and live on Stradbroke Is. They, the pollies, have got what they deserve. Prior to the election they were muttering darkly about raising the GST, selling ‘assets’, and restricting retirees’ access to superannuation, while in the same breath voting themselves a huge pay rise.  Spain (or is it Greece?) appears to have been forced down a similar path with the election of that vicar-like smiling guy, who
claims to have somehow found a way of avoiding austerity.

We exhausted ‘House’, and moved on to ‘Outlander’. Suddenly it was pulled half-way through season 1 – how dare they? – so we have switched allegiance to ‘The Tunnel’, which is an English production about a murder in the Chunnel Tannel (oops, but I think I will let it stay). Most of the fun is in the mis-communication between the English and the French policepersons. The crime part is a bit too much torture-porn for my liking. I like a good swift killing, if kill we must. The only actors I can understand are the French, but that’s only because they get English subtitles.

I swam 26.53 for 1500m.!  I stoppeth one in three.

Much love to all and the dogs,

Greybeard, the Loon


On 3 Feb 2015 10:08, “Jill Barker” <> wrote:
Now there’s a coincidence.  I emailed you yesterday. No doubt you’ll find it when you open your home email.
I even asked about the election!
Wherefore stopp’st thou me? I was on my way out – not to a wedding but to walk dogs and then to gaze upon my ship, idle in its icy surround. Was planning to boat today, but not sensible in ice. So I’ll just light the fire and run the engine and read the paper that I haven’t used to light the fire and have a bacon sandwich.  How I suffer! And (it goes without saying), a bucket of coffee.
Beginning to like this idea.


On 3 Feb 2015 10:10, “Jill Barker” <> wrote:
btw I think anyone can mention the name of someone found guilty – it’s in the public domain.  Or is that only UK?

Sent: Tuesday, 3 February 2015 8:16 PM
To: NEWMAN, Ross 
Subject: Re: Greybeard

This is amazing. I still haven’t got my boots on and have to stop and listen to someone singing ‘linden lea’. Really touching.  And thus I connect with both brothers within five minutes.
(Singer was roderick williams if u want to chase it up). (Or rhodri? Maybe)
On Wed, Feb 4, 2015 at 4:12 AM, NEWMAN, Ross wrote:
Good point, but we go to extraordinary lengths to protect the identity of those in our charge. I’ve always taken it for granted. Perhaps the difference is that they ARE in our charge?! Must look in the legislation.

On another note, I’m out of whiskey. May try one of the Irish this time – Jamieson’s has something of a rep, I believe.  Can’t get that Spotted Grouse here, or whatever it is that Andrew drinks. ‘Famous Goose’, perhaps?

As to boating in winter, I can’t think of anything more satisfying than sitting in a tethered canal boat toasting gently in front of a fire and letting the world shiver past. Surely the miracle of buoyancy is appreciated by some part of us?


On Wed, Feb 4, 2015 at 10:01 AM, Jill Barker <> wrote:
I know what you mean about whisky.  Can’t remember any of the names (except Teachers, for obvious reasons – I always knew it was meant for me.  Well not quite always – but ‘always’ since I resigned myself to the teaching profession – incarcerated, you might say, but without the benefits of anonymity).  I needed to close that parenthesis.  In Austrlia all those years ago I recall drinking Jonny Walker – or rather I recall other people drinking my Jonny Walker.  Bear a grudge?  Never!

I like the cheap blends  too, but one can go too far.  In France we found one called Sir [something ridiculous – not Eglamore] that was barely drinkable.  But I have been much enjoying the Aberlour that some kind soul gave me for Xmas – may even have to buy a top-up bottle soon.  But whiskey????  Give me strength!  It’s too sweet-ish and heavy flavoured for my taste.  Speaking of which I had a cocktail at Will’s bar the other day (actually called the Duke of Cambridge – a good name for a French whisky) .

That singer’s name is Roderick Williams – he has the voice that we all thought we had when we sang in the car – not unlike singing in the shower, I guess, for reverb. qualities.  I cam e across a security question today – the make of your first car.  Didn’t choose to use it as I couldn’t reliably predict what I would answer under stress in five years’ time.  (Holden? Beetle? all those family cars???)

Must stop – the dog walk bus leaves at ten –

I blog at:
From: Jill Barker [] 
Sent: Wednesday, 4 February 2015 8:03 PM
To: NEWMAN, Ross
Subject: Re: Greybeard

the bar is the Duke of Cambridge.  The drink was actually a ‘Mitch’.  ref. obsc.

I blog at:
On 4 Feb 2015 22:47, “NEWMAN, Ross”  wrote:
Wasn’t aware there was a distinction between whiskey and whisky, unless playing scrabble. Struggled to choose from the bewildering array in the grog-shop and eventually fled with a Haig on the probably spurious basis of family ties, in spite of alarm bells ringing (in my head, I had paid for the thing). And I was right, Haig is a bit of a harsh brew. May have to mix it with Fruity Elixir from a box. I had just finished a delicious 18 year old scotch (or scotche), but I couldn’t remember exactly what (which shows it is working). Something obvious, anyway, without being Johnnie Walker.
The Water Police breathalyse boaties in Moreton Bay – does that happen on the canals too? There’s a 22’ sailing-boat called ‘Bluebird’ that was designed in Australia in 1947, and went on to become hugely popular. I’ve been browsing the web and checking 2nd hand prices. I could be on a slippery slope … You can google it if interested, but don’t be duped by the Edwardian super-yacht of the same name. (Imagine the barnacles.)

Our government is in care-taker mode, which means I have no work. Aaaahg!





From: Jill Barker [] 
Sent: Thursday, 5 February 2015 7:57 PM
To: NEWMAN, Ross
Subject: RE: Greybeard
I think there is no canal breathalysing. Rules but no enforcement.  Drunks walking on the canal path sometimes fall in and drown – not realising that you only have to put your feet down.  So that’s self-policing in a way.
Caretaker government eh? So the floors will be clean and the doors securely locked.
Re whiskies, I understand the extra e to indicate American whisky (poss. aka bourbon?) While the short version is the scotch. But what of the Irish? I hear you cry. What, indeed. Research needed.
Im on my phone – morning- and wearing out my thumb. Dogs and teeth – avanti.
No work- I sympathise. Sooo boring.
Just make sure you don’t buy the racing car. How rusty would that be?  A fixer-upper, as the trolls in Frozen would call it.
To me 6th Feb



two signs in Adelaide

June 2, 2014
in Adelaide

in Adelaide

I begin to see signs of the Dog Nazis wherever I look.  How nice that dogs can be off lead.  How sad that it is not in the civilised time of day.   There were some even more draconian moments on the Broadwater, though.

Here’s a sign now to accompany the Trojan Hospitality in my previous post.

2014-05-05 04.24.26


What kind of training was that, again?  Would they teach me to be a bard?  to ‘sing in Welsh’ perhaps?  Maybe it involves martial arts, or marital arts, or business studies.  (I like the idea of a specifically Celtic MBA).  Celtic chemistry, botany, nuclear physics – the list is endlessly provocative.

I love this sign, seen at Kenmore, in Brisbane:

2014-05-23 03.52.30


So easily done!

eating a goose

October 23, 2013

Here in Berlin lots of restaurants are advertising special goose-oriented menus for the 11th November.

I'm starting to get the hang of Germany, and I bet they eat a lot more than just this.

I’m starting to get the hang of Germany, and I bet they eat a lot more than just this.

So I checked it out online –

Unser Martinsgans-Menü 2013

(auf Vorbestellung)


Amuse bouche

Karamelisierte Gänseleber

auf Thymian-Zwetschgen

und geröstetem Sellerie


Ofenfrische bayrische Martinsgans,

mit Akazienhonig glasiert,

auf Preiselbeer-Rotkohl, Apfel-Maronenpürée

und kleinen Kartoffelknödeln


Kreation von Mandelnougat,

Pattaya-Mango und Madagascar-Vanille


€ 46,- / Person

In the UK, needless to say, the 11th is all about remembrance and the end of World War One on that date.  People try to say that it has something to do with peace – I’m not convinced.

and lots of people wear these things -

and lots of people wear these things –

I wondered how roast goose might fit into this.  The answer is:  it doesn’t.  What a pity!  I suggest we find ways of bringing a roast goose feast back to the UK.  And quickly, too – preferably within the next fortnight or so, what with the eleventh of November rushing towards us.

It turns out that roast goose is part of a much older tradition – and the nicest saint I have ever read about.  The 11th of November is also Saint Martin’s day, and I have to tell you straight away that I’ve found out all this information from a charming wiki entry which I propose now to plagiarise shamelessly.   Saint Martin is the first saint not to have been martyred (there’s a relief) –

not normally a happy experience

not normally a happy experience – this is Saint Sebastian.  I just chose him at random for you.

– he died of natural causes in the fourth century.  The eleventh is an ecumenical date too. Martin Luther was baptised on that day, and so Protestants can celebrate the date as well.  (His parents probably didn’t realise he wouldn’t grow up to be a Catholic.)  Now all we need is a Hindu and a Buddhist connection . . . . No wait on.  I guess the Buddhists wouldn’t want a big roast-goose oriented blow-out.  (Though, bizarrely, there is an eating- goose-Buddha connection.)

a structure that celebrates not eating geese

a structure that celebrates not eating geese

St Martin turns out to have been a great guy.  He gave up being a soldier once he became Christian, which suggests some moral fibre, not to mention a fine capacity with logic.  He is also the guy who divided his cloak with the beggar – showing both generosity and fair-mindedness.

always nice to post a medieval image - the more famous paintings of St Martin show him as a knight in armour, which seems a bit anachronistic

always nice to post a medieval image – the more famous paintings of St Martin show him as a knight in armour, which seems a bit anachronistic

It gets better and better – he went to work for a guy called Hilarius, he missed his parents, and he lived in France (his full title is St Martin of Tours) as a bit of a hermit.  Tours must have been a very different place in those days.  I can relate to that ‘hermit in France’ thing – if his French was anything like mine, it’s more or less imposed on you.  Maybe Hilarius’s French was better – they made him Pope.

later Pope

later Pope

We are told that he died of an illness contracted on his travels  – not quite the same as ‘quietly at home’ but maybe that’s how he would have wanted to go.  I also like it that he isn’t festooned around with loads of improbable miracles, but he seems to have been a saint because lots of people liked him and he was just plain good.

It seems mean to leave you without an actual recipe for the roast goose – but, inspired by St Martin’s example, I cannot tell a lie: I have never roasted a goose.  And so your choice amongst the internet recipes is likely to be as good as mine.  (I like the look of the Hairy Bikers’ version though, as we have lots of apples this year.)

Lastly I am motivated to roast a goose this year because my lovely son William, who has his birthday on the 14th, will be at home – and that’s near enough for me!

the raincoat

August 14, 2013

Mentioned in despatches twice now, the raincoat feels that it deserves a moment all to itself.

a downpour in the Berry - raincoat doing well.

a downpour in the Berry – raincoat doing well.  Also note strong sandals.

Dostoyevsky purportedly said that we all came out of Gogol’s ‘Overcoat’ – he meant the short story, of course, not any literal overcoat.  It turns out that he didn’t mean ‘we all’ in the sense of the whole human race, though one can easily place that kind of interpretation on Gogol’s story.  Taken in context, his comment referred (I am told) to the cutting-edge fiction writers of his time in Russia.  Dostoyevsky’s own ‘new wave’ of writers who explored what it is to be human – and to be human in the darkly cruel social world of contemporary Russia.

There you go – it wasn’t just a post about a raincoat after all.

In fact this is my favourite of all the many raincoats that I have never bought.  Back when we had teenage children, there were lots of visitors to our house.  Sometimes they arrived in wet weather, kindly kitted out with umbrellas and/or raincoats by their fond parents.  Many times the rain had stopped by the time they left, or else they were going somewhere where sensible practical garments were just not cool.

Too cool for a raincoat - no names no pack drill!

Too cool for a raincoat – no names no pack drill!

They left their coats hanging in the hall, and their brollies dripping quietly in the lean-to conservatory out the back.

Darth Vader never wears a raincoat.

Darth Vader never wears a raincoat.

When we packed up that house and moved out we found maybe six or eight ownerless raincoats, and three useful brollies (I didn’t count the broken brollies).

A brolly would only get in the way.

A brolly would only get in the way.

I’ll admit that we had bought some of the raincoats for ourselves in France – caught out by unexpected summer rain (one daughter-in-law would deny the word ‘unexpected’).  One can buy very useful, flimsy rain jackets cheaply in SuperU.  Of all of those, though, the raincoat in question was clearly superior – lined, a perfect fit, strong, and sporting its own hood.  It is even a recognisable brand-name, that chance acquaintances and even my adult kids respect.  Perfect.  Yes – I really did try to find its owner – but it has a happy home with me now.  I am growing ever fonder of it, as it progresses through so many adventures of its own.  Maybe I, at least, have come out of this wonderful raincoat.

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