Antipodean reflections

It has been ten years since I set up this WordPress blog.

With the exception of the photo of QEII at the end, the below pictures are from an area at the rear of buildings facing Grey Street, South Brisbane. Overhead railway lines travel between South Brisbane and Roma Street stations. The previously unused space has been transformed into Fish Lane, Town Square.

Brisbane, Brissy, Brisvegas has the reputation of being a big country town.

You need a body in Sydney and labels (darling) in Melbourne.

People who have moved to the city, between states and countries or have travelled extensively overseas are open to new friends.

During Silver Jubilee celebrations in 1977, Queen Elizabeth II visited Birmingham UK. I took my younger brother to see her. This is an image from local newspaper, the Birmingham Mail, Birminghammail.co.uk. Taken near the Council House and Chamberlain Memorial, on the day we saw her majesty.

Being from England, a proportion of Australians assume I am from and have lived in London. It is as though London is England.

Talk of Australia becoming a republic are renewed among lobbyists and pollies.

On the mend

On Thursday, Stan had back teeth removed and is on the mend. He was a bit wobbly and disoriented after the general anaesthetic.

He has no objection to a temporary diet of poached chicken breast and vegetables. It warmed my heart when he joined us to watch television; a rare occurrence. He promptly fell asleep on my lap.

We can’t thank Brisbane Pet Surgery enough for their care and thoughtfulness; pre and post surgery.

Ekka Day

Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to learn Ekka Day was not next Wednesday but today. The news spurred me into finishing things up at work on hump day eve.

What is Ekka Day? I hear you say. It is a public holiday for Brisbane folks to be able to attend the Royal Queensland Show, organised by The Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland.

In true Aussie style the word for show or ‘Exhibition’ was changed to ‘Ekka’. I don’t see this word replacing expo any time soon, keeping it as an Australianism.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen the above photo taken at Cloudland, Italian restaurant, bar and event venue. Another word anchored in the hearts and memories of Brisbanians or Brisbanites. A taste of a post to come.

Welcoming pets

Stan has been an important member of our family since 2010. We prefer for Stan to accompany us when going out for long lunches rather than leaving him alone at home.

In Australia, rules about pets attending eating establishments are created and monitored by local councils.

Being creatures of habit we have favoured venues that welcome us with Stan including, Capriccio Osteria, Leichhardt, New South Wales; Marinara Ristorante Cafe, Hawthorne, Queensland; Julius Pizzeria, South Brisbane, Queensland; Patina at Customs House, Brisbane, Queensland.

Occasionally we try out a new place. Mostly we check online or call ahead to find out if our party will be welcomed.

There is a shared excitement about going for lunch. An anticipation about the potential delightful delicacies we may well devour.

Nothing pours cold water on our enthusiasm more than comments about ‘the dog’, especially when we have previously been to the eatery.

‘You will have to sit to the right of the opening (into the restaurant) in case the dog’s hairs fly in’. Mamma’s Redcliffe, Queensland.

Or a new place

‘You have to sit at a table on the footpath. The dog has to be on the ground. Please take the dog off your lap, it has to be on the ground. The council come around and check. I will get into trouble’. La Dolce Vita, Milton, Queensland.

‘You can have the table at the end. You cannot sit under the canopy’. Cafe Gioia, Norton Street, Leichhardt, New South Wales.

The pedestrianised part of Queen Street in Brisbane, a.k.a Queens Street Mall does not allow dogs even on a lead.

Similarly if we were to take Stan on public transport (buses, trains) in Brisbane he has to be in a carry case.

Fortunately, we can now sit outside on the river ferries providing Stan wears a muzzle.

And thank goodness for Uber Pets.

Frolicking with friends

After state border closures and COVID lockdowns, a couple of weeks ago we enjoyed a weekend reunion with three longtime friends from Sydney.

My husband relished the process of planning logistics and implementing the three day itinerary. Food, drinks, laughter, reminiscing, and fun buoyed up the Winter weekend.

On Sunday night we all joined Brisbane based friends for dinner in a restaurant and bar converted from a American World War II aircraft hangar.

Following dinner most of us headed southwest on Ann Street from Newstead to Fortitude Valley, stopping off for roof top cocktails at Maya Mexican.

After this, we continued along Ann Street to Fluffy at Cloudland for drag shows and dancing. As can be seen in the picture above the staircase is a perfect feature for performers to access and exit the ground floor stage.

Apart from a minor hiccup with not being able to pay for ferry travel with a credit card, the sojourn in Brisbane was heralded a resounding success.

Splits

On my birthday in October 2018, I received a young monstera deliciosa plant from our family in Swindon, UK.

The scale of the beautifully shaped leaves has steadily increased. Only one of the perfectly formed leaves has been shed.

As if practicing it’s instinctive development we have been teased with a leaf with one left split, the next with a right split, followed by a leaf with three left splits.

This week we were delighted to welcome our newly unfurled leaf with three left and four right splits.

In the spring of 1801, Ludwig van Beethoven completed the ballet, the Creatures of Prometheus based on Salvatore Viganò’s storyline.

The ballet premiered on 28 March 1801 at the Burgtheater in Vienna with 28 performances. It was premiered in New York at the Park Theatre on 14 June 1808, one of the first full length works by Beethoven to be performed in the United States. It is the only full length ballet by Beethoven.

The Australian premier of Beethoven’s 220 years old music and ballet was a matinee performance on 20 November 2022 at the Twelfth Night Theatre, Brisbane. The ballet was historically reconstructed from the 1801 performance with new choreography by Queenslander, Jayden Grogan.

Lucas D. Lynch, conductor and producer informed the audience he was inspired to share Beethoven’s ballet with Australia after hearing the music for the first time, 14 years earlier.

The plot follows Prometheus stealing fire from Zeus to spark life into two clay figures, thereby creating humankind.

Mostly set on Mount Parnassus, the man and woman encounter a multitude of characters from Greek mythology during their journey from birth through education to their wedding:

  • Apollo (god of music, dance, the Sun, light, and poetry)
  • Amphion (built Thebes with the power of music) playing harp
  • Euterpe (delight) playing flute
  • Orpheus (legendary musician) playing cello
  • Mars (god of war)
  • Melpomene (muse of tragedy)
  • Thalia (one of the three graces)
  • Dionysus (god of the grape-harvest, winemaking, wine, fruit, and theatre)
  • Silenus (drunken god of wine)
  • Pan (god of the wild, rustic music and companion of nymphs)

We were fortunate to be able to enjoy this spectacular production firsthand. The balance of comedy and tragedy against Beethoven’s powerfully sublime music was awe inspiring!

Day three of the birthday festival

I had a joyful birthday lunch last year at Patina, Customs House. Unfortunately, my mood beforehand was decidedly maudlin, resulting in the following self reflective poem.

Expectations, unheard, unwritten, not agreed, lead to disappointment. Frustration from despondency could result in an outpouring or inner turmoil. Assumptions can conflict create or do secrets forge, limiting authenticity. Living as a liar may rebellion incite or self-loathing and self-destruction result.

This year, I decided to take control of myself; to celebrate the end and beginning of a new birth year with close my husband and close friends.

We turned up at GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art) to see the European Masters exhibition on loan from the Met, New York on Thursday. The thought of queuing for one hour did not rock my boat so we headed for a great lunch at Julius Pizzeria followed by sundowner drinks at the Terrace Rooftop Bar.

The photograph above shows the view of the city looking northeast from the Terrace towards the city, across the Brisbane River.

On Friday our tastebuds were treated to an exquisite six course degustation lunch including, seven amuse bouches and matching wines. Next we went to Maya Mexican rooftop restaurant and bar for cocktails, gorgeous nibbles, socialising and dancing.

The picture above taken from Maya shows the city on the right and a neon looking outline of the Storey Bridge left of centre.

Today we rest. Plans will form or not, as the day progresses.

Tomorrow I will enter my 58th year.

Sunburnt goth

I live in a country with an overhead continent sized hole in the ozone layer and one of the highest incidents of skin cancer in the World. Moving to the Sunshine State of Queensland three years ago has increased the chance of skin damage.

As I inherited moles from my parents, it is recommended, I should get my skin checked annually. Thankfully at a recent going over, I was given the all clear.

An early DNA test revealed my paternal heritage hails from Northern Europe while my maternal Romani ancestors migrated from the northern Mediterranean region to the UK.

Up until around age 12, growing up in England, meant happily playing in the sun sans sunscreen. Turning red was an accepted step to a ‘healthy’ colour. It appears my Caucasian flesh pigmentation is influenced more from the northern rather than the southern realms.

During the heatwave of 1976, while caravanning in Barmouth, Wales, I learned a painful lesson. Running around topless resulted in the most excruciatingly painful sunburn imaginable. It was too sore to even have fabric next to my skin. I slept on my front, lathered in calamine lotion.

Once home, I enjoyed an unhealthy fascination with peeling great sheets of dead skin from my body.

Freckles across my upper back and shoulders are a constant reminder of that day.

With age, I have found liberally applied factor 50+ protection allows my porcelain hued complexion to gradually morph to a honey glow.

The bizarre thing is, from early on, I sought to seek out darkness rather than the light. Maybe it was rebellion against a Christian upbringing. I hungrily devoured texts laden with the macarbre, vampires, devils, witches, fortune telling, the Tarot, dreams, ghosts, and Victorian gothic romanticism. If I had been more worldly wise and less concerned with what I assumed people thought of me, I would have embraced the goth culture of the 1980s. This may even have led to finding ways to link with the eastern Germanic tribes of the same name.

A career path into hospitality reaffirmed the need to hide my identity and fit into the expected ‘norm’. Perhaps, pursuing art studies should have provided a safe space for discovering my inner self and self-expression.

In some ways my stifled authenticity has stunted my development. Labelling myself a neo pagan in my forties, I indulged my interest in the occult. I read as much as I could, learned to invoke natural energies to enhance spell work and tried to understand the hidden meaning of symbolism. The launch of this blog coincided with the conclusion of my mystical journeying.

It is now, in my late fifties, I feel comfortable and safe enough to explore my inner goth. A Brisbane Pride March and Fair Day, scheduled for yesterday has been postponed due the risk of COVID community transmission. I was gearing up to launch my goth in facial expression at these events. This would have come as a surprise to my companions.

The photograph above captures a shaky handed and hasty first attempt at the makeup. I didn’t wait long enough for the primer and foundation to dry and managed to poke myself in the eye with the mascara brush.

I haven’t worked out what to do with my beard. Maybe purple-black glitter; glam goth.