RIP Aunt Augusta


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Set of 72 stackable white ceramic Steelite coffee cups & saucers

Augustus Snodbury rose to his feet in the Recreation Room of

Snodland Nursing Home for the Debased Gentry.  He was about

to deliver the meconium, nay encomium to his ‘Aunt’ Augusta.

Her commital was over and everyone had gathered for the

‘bun fight’, or, to clarify the matter, the sausage rolls and cups

of builders’ tea, stewing in institutional Steelite crockery.


Murgatroyd Syylk had donated the sausage-meat from his best

two porkers, but it had not seemed appropriate for him to slay

The Emperor, since, before the re-sexing of the animal had

taken place, it had been named after the venerable lady herself.

There hadn’t been sufficient time for Gus to read his eulogy-cum-

end of life report at the crematorium, as the coffins had been

stacking up like planes at Heathrow.

It had been agreed that he would present the paeon back at

the nursing home.

Thankfully he and Dru were still on half term.  The old girl had

been remarkably considerate in her timing of clog popping.  The

mourners really only amounted to two: Drusilla and his good


Berenice, Augusta’s younger sister had pre-deceased her and

was buried in Venezuela, leaving a son, Hugo de Sousa, who

unfortunately was not in a position to leave the country.

That meant that it was only themselves and the staff and

residents of the home who had to be counted for catering


Gus had rehearsed and re-composed his tribute over and over

as Dru drove down to Kent.  He thought he would write an

introduction, followed by the development of a thesis and

antithetical redress, in the manner of a discursive essay.

Perhaps he could throw in a couple of anecdotes- the episode

of her involvement in the missing Bonnie Prince Charlie chalice;

some wartime Land Girl reminiscences; some of her pithier

comments and so on?  Then he should sum everything up and

make an evaluation of her life.  Simples, as that annoying

furry animal says.

No, that sounded pompous.  Who did he think he was?- the

Recording Angel?  Title of speech?  ‘Augusta Snodbury- kindly

maiden aunt versus Alpha female?’  Ambivalence was surely

of the essence.  Quintessence, even.

He thought about the woman behind the mask of nonagenarian

vulnerability.  They had been asked to instal a surveillance

camera in her room, after she had made accusations about

a male resident whom she alleged had tried to climb into her


She should be so lucky! was the only comment from a lady in

the adjoining room, when she had been interviewed for


The the cameras had shown evidence of shocking abuse, albeit

only of a verbal nature.  They could never have believed that Aunt

Augusta was capable of such bullying behaviour to a young carer,

whose only crime was to have reduced the amount of gin in her

charge’s tonic.

Western Black Widow (Latrodectus hesperus).JPG

His ‘aunt’ reminded him of a Black Widow Spider; a Venus Flytrap…

something female and venomous.  That was the antithesis.

The thesis was that she had supervised his education and been

in loco parentis, when his supposed mother, her sister Berenice,

had vamooshed to Venezuela, renaging on her paid agreement

with Lady Wivern: to wit that she, Berenice, should state that

the child was hers, the product of a liaison with Anthony Revelly.

This was a credible version of events, as Berenice had had a fling

with the tutor at Wyvern Mote, from 1945-7.  However, Anthony and

Aurelia, Lady W, had commenced their affair thereafter.  Although Lady

W was a widow, she did not want to complicate things for her two

legitimate sons, Lionel and Peregrine.  And so, a deal had been

struck. A monetary one.

And so it was that Augustus had been enrolled at St Birinus’ Prep

School, at a very tender and impressionable age, by his ‘Aunt’


Had she latterly discerned that he had discovered the truth?

Maybe he should expatiate and wax philosophical about alternative

narratives?  Why shouldn’t he present varying outlines?  After all,

John Fowles had done so at the end of his novel, The French

Lieutenant’s Woman. (Gus blushed as he recalled how he had really

fancied Meryl Streep.  He used to go down to Lyme Regis and hang

about The Cobb, until one blustery day, he had nearly been swept

out to sea.  That had taught him the valuable distinction between

Art and life)

French lieutenants woman.jpeg

Yes, he could construct an Existentialist Sliding Doors type of

scenario.  Like that boy, Pi, from the eponymous Life of, he could

persuade the inmates to choose whatever biographical version they

preferred.  How very Post-Modern!  He hadn’t seen himself in that

light before.

I mean, he mused,  am I Augustus Snodbury, the bona fide nephew

of the deceased? Or am I -say-a ‘Richard Parker’-type of clerical error?

Certainly, I am not using my real name.

As Yann Martel said: I live in a society of ‘unpalatable realities, but

realities In prefer to face.  So, maybe I should face them down now.

After he had uttered the bombshell that Augusta was not actually

his aunt, but that Revelly was his father, Matron’s jaw dropped at

the revelation.  She had only recently taken delivery of Revelly’s

urn which was taking up an inordinate amount of space on the

mantelpiece in her office, along with other unclaimed remains of

yesterday and yester-year.

Gus concluded: I make no apologies for quoting Martel a final

time- ‘Life is a story…You can choose your story.’

It could be argued that I became the man I am today as a result

of a synthesis.  (He was pleased at this Hegelian transition.)

Unfortunately no one else noticed the logic of his coda, as

they were mostly asleep, except for one old chap who was

hoovering up the remaindered sausage rolls that Gus had

been hoping he could ask to be reserved in a doggy bag for

his return journey.)

C’est la vie, was all that Dru could comment.  He thought that

was a trifle unsympathetic.  But ‘trifle’: yes, Matron did put some

of the leftover pudding into a Tupperware bowl for him.

It would be strange not to be coming back to Kent.

They went out to the car park, carrying two clinking bags

containing bottles of Dewlap Gin for the Discerning Grandmother.

Both were filled with empties.  They would have to find a bottle

bank en route to the motorway.

Did I do her justice? Snod asked as Dru pulled out of the

grounds.  He wiped a greasy palm on his best suit

trousers. I missed out all the stuff about when she

was Hamish Diecast’s Muse on that island in The Inner

Hebrides.  Did I dwell overly on her failings?

Let the enigma be.  Perhaps all our lives are illusory. 

We could all have been otherwise. All that remains of

us is love, Dru replied.  I think you conveyed that

sentiment.  Let them choose the better story and…

For Pete’s sake, don’t eat trifle in my car!  She braked

suddenly, on seeing a re- cycling bank, and the custard

landed in his lap.

He could hear Aunt Augusta cackling: Serves you right! 



Reductio ad Absurdam


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Lordi en Barcelona9.jpg

Candia Dixon-Stuart was about to encounter Sydney Kingsford Smith.

Sounds romantic, eh?

Actually, all it meant was that I was about to touch down at the New

South Wales airport.

I’d just finished reading the Weekend supplement of an Aussie

newspaper, with its very interesting article on blobfish, when the

seat belt sign was turned off and I thought I saw one of those

psychrolutes micropons thingies trying to retrieve its amorphous

cabin luggage from the overhead locker, having a guttural exchange

with the stewardess.

At first it seemed to morph into a member of that Finnish group,

LORDI, who won The Eurovision Song Contest in 2006, but then

I listened intently and discovered that it probably spoke Swedish

and had momentarily broken out of its Transformer costume.

The faces of two robots stand atop a pyramid. A helicopter flies over an industrial facility on the right side of the image, and a young couple is seen in front of the pyramid. The film title and credits are on the bottom of the poster.

Maybe Security wasn’t having any of it and Passport Control had

asked it to remove its latex mask, or accept consignment to the hold.

(By the way, why do all those intent on ‘shocking’ their fellows have to

resort to blasphemy and childish usurpation of religious names and

terms?  I mean, one such band member is called Amen. Get your

own language, losers.)

Anyway, I was given a death-stare and didn’t see him again until Baggage

Claim, when I tried to discern his group’s name from his promotional t-

shirt.  Marduk.

Sounds like a kid’s cartoon character.  Love-a-duck!  Donald Duck?!

Later I Googled their current tour. So, they are a Satanic band with ‘Evil

be thou my good’ no doubt their watchword.  Yawn!

Image result for yawn cumberbatch

His promotional photo showed something streaming down his head as

if a seagull had perched on a municipal statue.  Or was it a merde-duck?

The thing about these ageing rockers is that they seem to be frozen

in some kind of time warp.  Ozzie Osborne and Mick Jagger are

Establishment now.  Why keep flogging a dead horse?

Alice Cooper was aeons ago.  Meat Loaf is probably past his

sell-by date. Sounds like a recipe by Fanny Craddock. Things

move on.

Even James May has had a tidy up.

James May.jpg

And it really is poor taste to be claiming affiliation with evil when the

real stuff is being enacted all round the globe, or had been enacted in

the Lindt cafe, not so far away from the airport.  It’s not about

banging your head like a toddler having a tantrum in its cot.

Of course, it could all be an act.  Probably my subject is capable of being

as polite as the Harry Enfield character Kevin’s chum, played by Kathy

Burke, when speaking to someone else’s mother.  Life is a stage and we

all play different parts, don’t we?

Maybe the scowling rockster went on to buy his aged granny, Inge Soda-

Stream, a nice souvenir pair of Ugg slippers- often reduced, I noticed in

Sydney shops. The devil allegedly likes a bargain, so his spawn would

hardly be averse to one.  He probably made plenty Mammon at the

Melbourne gig beforehand.


I expect he did probably send his  mormor/ farmor a nice postcard of the

harbour so she could put it up on the mantelpiece of her Nykoping

nursing home and tell the carers that he is such a nice boy and that he

used to relish her meatballs.  Really?  It seems so.

Evil always looks a bit sheepish to me.  Satan had to disguise himself

as a cherub to ask directions from Uriel, in Paradise Lost.  A she-devil

wouldn’t have been so reticent.

So, Marduk refers to Baal, god of Babylon.  There’s been a lot of music

created about that deity.  Think Belshazzar’s Feast and, if you listen

to it, I am sure you’ll find it a lot more sophisticated than anything this

Scandinavian -collective term for a gang of demons??- will produce.

Bryn Terfel in Stockholm 2013-22.jpg

Bryn Terfel was on the award-winning Walton CD  in which Yours Truly sang

the L’Inviti part.  I am sure he could have personally taken on all minor

demons of that particular region with a Welsh rugby tackle and could

have shown Marduk how one blast from his lungs would blow them all

off the concert stage into the pit- not necessarily The Inferno.

But, you take my point: the writing on the wall must surely come for these

guys, in spite of their Brutal Assault Tour, 2015.

The Devil steals all the best tunes and they are advertising their steel-

armored (sic) death choir, which they are going to ‘unleash‘.

Puh-lease!  Have they ever attended a cathedral choir rehearsal when

the solo snippets are being assigned?  They don’t know what malice is!

In that context, it is serious internecine warfare, which would reveal

any spite that Marduk would exhibit as kittenish.

They’re even going to perform a selection of what they call hymns

from their current album.  They could ask Alan Titchmarsh to present


They’re going to have a Hatefest in Leipzig.  Surely, it’s not that bad a

venue?  Mind you, it is probably preferable to that out-dated love-in!

Sorry, guys, but I can’t take you seriously.  Good is the new sexy, in

case you hadn’t heard.  Everyone loves Cumberbatch et al.

Benedict Cumberbatch at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2014.jpg

As C S Lewis showed, Satan is a mere parody of God.  I think he

pinched that from St Augustine- and he was a reformed


When confronted with ranting devils in Pandemonium, God actually

laughed.  A cosmic laugh. And it did not reflect amusement, so much

as true power.

Laughter puts an end to debate.  So, I bite my thumb at you.

Blobfish etc


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Psychrolutes marcidus.jpg

(Drawing by Alan Riverstone McCulloch)


They come from the Tasman Sea and ichthyologists

say they are the ugliest fish in the seas.

Well, my granny used to tell me there were plenty

more of them in that particular element. But I do

wonder how they manage to attract the opposite sex and

propagate, when they look like Mr Blobby in the act of


They have been likened to Donatella Versace, Jabba the

Hutt, John Prescott and a beardless Col. Sanders.

Donatella Versace Time Shankbone 2010.jpg

The male becomes a big bag of testes and that’s his sole use

in life.

Which reminds me of a joke delivered by The Reduced

Shakespeare Company, in Edinburgh, at The Festival, some

years ago.  They were producing The Bible on stage, in a rapid

series of sketches, as was their wont.


One of the actors, wearing an animal skin, rushed towards the

audience and boasted:

I took the foreskins of the Philistines!

His sidekick queried this utterance by asking:

What’s a foreskin?

It’s that useless bit of flesh that hangs on the end of a penis,

said Samson.

Oh! rejoined the stooge.  I thought that was a man!

Cue for hysterical feminist guffaws.

Anyway, why does the blobfish expand in such a manner?

Apparently it is a strategy to ensure that sex happens in a

big environment.  It is one way of being noticed.

Maybe they could sign up to Facebook, or a fishy dating agency?

Yes, blobfish are arguably uglier than the naked mole rat, which

is the mascot of the International Ugly Animal Preservation



However, they are not so desperate as the male leftvent angler

fish, which may fuse himself, along with other males, onto the

female, and, in the manner of Hamlet’s aspirations, thaw and resolve

themselves into a dew, melting the skin of their mouths and the

female flesh until they absorb blood vessels and the two, or twenty

two, become one.

Cue for further feminist reaction.

I mean, sometimes a girl just wants to go shopping without a male

being joined to her hip, monitoring her spending.

I only saw one example of an even uglier specimen on my travels

Down Under.  It was on a Rolling Stones comeback poster and I’m

not saying to which member of the band I am referring.

But think Trout Pout.

Stones members montage2.jpg



Where there’s Muck, there’s Brass


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Well, I have to admit those Tassies are nothing short of enterprising.

One has heard of carrying coals to Newcastle, but some of these guys

are trying to sell loads of sheep poo in plastic bags for five dollars-

and largely failing, from what I could discern from the car window.

I didn’t unwind it to check.

We passed a somnolent vendor who had parked his pick-up filled

to the gunnels with the stuff at the roadside and had hung out a

handwritten sign advertising his wares, in the open sun.  Not too

many takers, but full marks for bright, or something that rhymes

with that adjective, optimism.

For something a little more fragrant-and I don’t mean Jeffrey Archer’s

wife, Mary, do visit the Old Municipal Building in Evandale.  At least it

was open to customers, unlike nearly every other establishment on

the tourist trail, at the height of the season.  The garden outside the

cafe is resplendent with, and perfumed by, cascading Pierre de

Ronsard roses, whose beauty I last witnessed in the original Abbey

Gardens near Tours, where the poet once composed, and perhaps

composted this Eden variety.  Mind you, it was probably before

David Austin perfected the floral breed.

Rosa 'Eden Rose' J1.JPG

When I saw the pick-up was just as laden on our return journey,

I thought its owner could do worse than making a donation of his

unsold goods to the aforementioned garden.  I’m sure the

Romanticae would be appreciative and would bloom even more


In the heat I was tempted to partake of a Golden Gay ice lolly,

but I was unsure of making a politically incorrect request.  Not

that the descendants of Abel Tasman have particular scruples in

respect of language use.  Even the term Tassie apparently refers

to female genitalia.

David Walsh, the evil -??- genius behind MONA, in Hobart (Museum

of Old and New Art) does not mince his words.  He is quite capable

of challenging the untouchables in the art world, such as Damien


The first fact about Damien Hirst is that he is the richest artist who

ever lived.

The second fact is that he doesn’t deserve to be.

The Future of Art - Damien Hirst.jpg

Walsh is not backward about coming forward and has

broken all sorts of taboos, even decorating the walls of

his amazing temple to Art with a line of plaster- well-


Described as presiding over a subversive adult Disneyland,

Walsh exhibits a keen interest in all things excremental,

so, maybe the vendor chappie could pitch up and station

his pick-up in the parking space  irreverently marked: God.

He might be able to shift a few tons, justifying it as a multi-

sensory installation.  After all, the medium has been popular

with Gilbert & George, Chris Ofili and the like.  It might sit –

oops, nearly made a typo- well with the Cloaca Professional

by Wim Delvoye, which literally turns food to faeces before

your twitching nostrils.  I don’t think the fact that the artist

is Belgian has any bearing down on it.

I think most people prefer the other similarly-hued national

export: Leonidas.

Michael Connor of Quadrant commented:

MONA is the art of the exhausted, of a decaying civilisation.

However, I found the building aesthetically stimulating and

Walsh’s statements self-ironic.  Or were they?

He has made remarks such as:

I suspect that our marketing is probably better than our



Now I am the bloody institution.  Now I’m the arbiter of good

taste.  The thing I abhor.

For someone who grew up in the allegedly working class

suburb of Glenorchy, and who beat the casinos at their own

game, Walsh has dug something back into his Tasman soil,

producing a tourist magnet, so I say, Good on you, mate!

If one doesn’t like anything in the museum, there is an

opportunity to vote on the exhibits by expressing approval

or dislike, via an Ipod.

What will Walsh do with the feedback?

W: Take the popular stuff out.

The main exhibition which The Husband and I took in was

Matthew Barney’s River of Fundament, which had connections

to a Norman Mailer novel.

Norman Mailer, 1988.jpg

Apparently zombie actors had roamed around Barney’s studio

in New York, which was fitted out like Mailer’s former Brooklyn

home.  The undead spoke dialogue from Mailer, Hemingway,

Whitman, Emerson and WS Burroughs.  There were speeches

on rot, decay, defecation, putrefaction and fermentisation.

No wonder Bjork, his erstwhile partner, has voted with her elfin


Barney referred to descriptions from Ancient Evenings, on waste,

city sewage systems, sanitation and re-cycling plants.

If this is art, then his name would be better represented as

Blarney, some would say.

I wish I had Lady Luck on my side and patronage by the bucket-load

and then I could produce River of Tenements, representing the Clyde

in a frozen stream, with pop-up talking heads rising out of its silted

depths, mouthing philosophical patter by holograms of Billy Connolly,

Keir Hardie, Jimmy Reid and James Kelman, amid abandoned shopping

trolleys.  Mangled cranes would form the entrance arch

I would gild the gates of the old John Brown’s Shipyard, re-named with

a consonantal substitution and would have a video on a loop, recalling

the epic moment in the Seventies, when an encouraging bouquet of

roses arrived at the usurping workers’ entrance, bearing a card from

one of the Beatles and his Japanese companion-in-politics.


They’re from Lenin?! cried an incredulous wee would-be Communist.

Ah thought he wis deid!


Spin the wheel one more time, David, cast the die and pull the

pokie lever one more time, baby, and find me the dosh and I’ll

be right over deluging you with my creative juices.  But first I

have to find a supplier for formaldehyde.  Maybe Damien has

some left over?

Jist Imagine!

And finally a dedication to the successful gambler

who is King of the Tasmanian art world:

Baa baa black sheep

have you any poo?

Yes, sir; yes, sir,

I have a bag or two.

Two for the gardener,

who’ll mix it with leaf mould

and one for that mad alchemist

who’ll turn it to gold.


Woy Woy?


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Woy Woy- not an exophoric reference to a Chinese conceptual artist, but

a heartfelt expression of anguish as to the reason you not been reading my

posts, possums.  A girl just has to swan off to Pretty Beach etc and suddenly

all her readers droine away.

Well, I have been amassing verbal deloights for your delectation. I am now

attuned to the twangs of the Aussie lingo. A two year old approached me in

a play park in Orange, in a perfectly innocent, trusting way, not noted in

British kids since the Sixties, and proffered his Thomas the Tank Engine

toi, before revoking his intention and pronouncing very definitely, That’s


Thomas Tank Engine 1.JPG

I was then privy to an eavesdropping from a sheila who was

discussing her boyfriend as she walked down the street in Mornington, Victoria:

It’s not that koind of relationship.

Everyone is moaning about the unusually bad summer here, with all the roine.

They should read the weather reported for the UK in The Doily Moil. Even the

commentary from Melbourne Park was punctuated with strangulated

phonological approval when players hit it on a doime.

As well as the accentual points, the idiomatic phrases are ripper too. Goodness

knows what That was right in the honey hole for him! means literally, though

the sentiment is not lost in translation. It would sit well in Kim Sears’ ‘potty’


Even Mcdonalds has an advertising slogan here which doesn’t sound remotely

American: More bang for your buck. It sounds like something Banjo Paterson’s

terpsichorean swagman could have uttered by a billabong, or an ejaculation

by Paul Hogan, who might brandish a roo in a bap and pronounce emphatically:

Now that’s a burger!


Crocodile dundee poster.jpg









No, Candia didn’t enter the hallowed grounds in Melbourne, but watched

Andy’s defeat on television, like the rest of you poms, whingeing or otherwise.

And, by the sound of the current meteorological reports, you have plenty to

whinge about.

He and Djokovic went at it like rutting stags, but the control of language by

the Serb reflected his greater mental restraint and focus.

Red deer stag 2009 denmark.jpg

(Now who does this remind me of?)

On this occasion, Sergius conquered Bluntschli.

How interesting was it for Candia today to stand on ground which reputedly

was once the tennis courts on which the first non-Briton to win Wimbledon

practised.  Norman Brookes even won The Davis Cup in the USA, with Tony

Wilding and yet he warmed up on what was once a cattle station on this

Victorian peninsula.

Norman Brookes 1919.jpg








Today the sacred spot is struggling lawn in front of The Briars Homestead,

whose grounds are now a Nature Conservancy Centre. I expect the expletive

was unheard of in this gracious residence, once upon a colonial toime. I doubt

Sir Norman was a cashed up bogan in pocket, or personal behaviour. Some of

the latter day sporting, or unsporting, hoons need to cease vocalising in the

parlance of those who indulge in activities such as quokka soccer. Return to

the days of Rod Laver and his self-disciplined behaviour and all will be foine.

Far From the Maddening Crowd


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You would think that The Nobbies would be an excellent place to get

away from Joe Public, but even with a howling gale blasting in from

The Bass Strait, there is the eternal shrill whine of children whose decibel

level outperforms the crashing waves and predatory shearwaters. Once

placated by a cuddly toy penguin, however, the juveniles are generally

benign, unlike their adult counterparts who simply will not obey rangers’

instructions and whose attention span seems limited to one advance

by a single cohort of fairy bands of brothers before they have to stand up,

blocking others’ views and flashing away at the shy bird-life which is

trying to avoid the unwanted attention of a sea eagle, or a fox, but which

ends up mating under spotlights, beneath the boardwalks, to a perpetual

infantile commentary:

What are they doing?  Oh, look!  A threesome!

Eudyptula minor Bruny 1.jpg

Eudyptula minor is a cutie and its nightly parade reminded me of a

Mediterranean passeggiata, except that those on the fringes do not

usually get picked off – or do they?

The whole ambience recalls accounts of the fulmar-dependent,

indigeneous people of St Kilda.  No doubt the mutton-bird eating

Bunurong would have had heaps in common with the original

inhabitants of the Scottish archipelago, although the Bunurong

had not been planted on their terrain, but were the supplanted.

Mind you, the Koolin people sounds rather like the Cuillins, don’t

you think?

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t savour a short-arsed shearwater,

or whatever the mutton-bird is.  I preferred the duck confit at Port

Phillip Winery, the previous day.

Those of you who have been questioning whether I have morphed

into a fully-formed Sheila yet, might be better employed rating my

surf babe status.  Forget The Husband.  The only thing he surfs is

the internet.  As for Rip Curl experiences, he is more into those of the

Rip van Winkle variety.  Or Lip Curl, when he comes across snippets of

his fame being promoted over this site.  (He can be as desultory as

that lone wallaby that hopped across the dusky beach last night,

silhouetted against a giant red full moon.)  Just trying to divert

attention, I’d say.

We stayed over at Surf Beach in a house on stilts, all weather

boarding and corrugation.  The walls were decorated with a Howard

Hughes, Airey’s Inlet finned surfboard, bearing the endorsement:


Loyd Grossman opens Pulse FM student radio station, 1999.jpg

I felt like Loyd Grosman- remember the guy who used to traipse

through people’s houses trying to guess what kind of a person lived

therein?  He actually only got the job because someone mistakenly

thought he was a journalist.  I felt a bit of a fraud myself.  But now

that I’ve heard of, I feel that I have some beach cred.

I might even get The Husband some Board Shorts.  Apparently, Life

is better in them.  The guys in the adverts seem to prove the point.

Maybe I could tether one of these Adonises to my side with the

World’s Strongest Leash, a one piece leash technology.  Might just

keep The Husband from wandering off towards the wine aisle in

any supermarket.

Even the reading matter was connected to the ocean and Night

Surfing was the only novel on view.  The blurb confided that it was

about a wave that arcs so high it drops down the sun, stars and

moon from the sky and turns day to pitch.  Hannah is a drop-out

who wants to learn to walk on water and Jake has been a dustman,

or re-cycling engineer, from Liverpool, but he dreams of surfing the

night.  Presumably he has had a shower first.  He has demons of his

own.  Let’s hope that Hannah exorcises them.

Right, enough of those barbed comments, as prickly as the fins on the


I did enjoy leafing through Tracks: the Surfers’ Bible- the next best

thing to a Teahupo’o pizza delivery, apparently.

You see, I had never heard of grippin’ the lip; surfing in Namibia- I

thought it was all desert dunes.  I thought Roll out the Barrel was a

1940s song by Lew Brown and nothing to do with tides and waves.

Painting zebras on a wall sounded artistic to me, something like

decorative murals on a kindergarten reception hall.

Hoovering through the slob sounded like clearing up after the

kindergarten kids had gone home.  And I had never heard of

films such as Sojourn, a surf film about Sumatra, with David

Rastovich.  I really must have been up a gum tree!

Oh, wait a minute!  It’s hovering through the slob It’s all this

being on the road.  I’m turning into an ultimate gypsy like Creed

McTaggart.  That’s a different creed from the one I know back

home and which I can recite by heart on Sunday mornings.

Okay, so he’s known for his sunglasses and criticised for faux

surf celebrity; I’m known for my hats and…

I’m morphing into something.  It’s Travel.  It broadens the mind,

as well as the behind.



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Schopenhauer said of genius:

It’s like an archery contest: the talented hit the mark every time and

everyone can see that true genius gets the mark that no one else can


Wish I could hit the bulls-eye every time in my posts.  Impossible,

but one tries!  I concur with the great man who was among the first

to contend that the world is not a logical place.

Tangential shift to D H Lawrence… I warned you logic is not always

the guiding principle in this site!

A snake came to my water trough…

..and I in pyjamas for the heat…

That good old primary school teacher knew how to engrave

words on your heart as indelibly as ‘Calais’ was inked onto

Queen Mary’s.

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Actually, it wasn’t a snake, but an Eastern Blue-Tongued Lizard

and it came to the swimming pool area.  No matter- I

experienced similar emotions of honour, fear, liking, gladness,

but nothing remotely Freudian.  Though one can never be


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And, in case you think I was cowardly for ejecting from my sun-

lounger, the above photo shows an ‘immature‘ version.

Apparently, they are harmless, though they have teeth.


They might hang on if they bite you, or shed their tail, but are

not venomous.  Well, that’s a relief!

Someone is selling one, granted with a tank, for $220 on

Gumtree.  But you’d be up the aforementioned arboreal variety

if you think I would even consider throwing a towel over this

little fella, even given the Scottish entrepreneurial gene that

encourages me to make a bawbee or two out of any


Apparently, Tiliqua scincoides (sounds like a friend of Simon

Cowell’s) is a skink.  No, it’s Tulisa, isn’t it?

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Maybe she shouldn’t have had the work done.

Back in good old Scotia, they make soup out of them:

Cullen Skink.  That’s another bluff like the haggis scam.

The original convicts down here probably did and the name

travelled back home.

The good thing about these reptiles is that, though they have up

to thirty young, within a day, their offspring are entirely

independent.  No university fees and endless loans.

I did share that feeling of respect- that he/she had been

around before me, and that I was the intruder.

As Lawrence said:

a serpent is a thing created.  It has its own raison d’etre, its own

being; it has beauty and reality.

A pity then that those two whopping great kookaburras that

sit on the fence are probably waiting for it.  But then, as that

very different poet,Tennyson reminded us, nature is red in tooth

and claw.

So, though I won’t be a frequent visitor to backyardbuddies. lizard, I will always treasure

the memory of our strange meeting.

The way you flick your tail; the way you show your tongue…

No, no, they can’t take that away from me.

I’ll conclude with  N J Warburton’s 1947 witty observation:

Some creep came to my water trough

And stood there, hopping from foot to foot,

In his pyjamas…

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Far From The Madding Crowd


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Thank goodness for the hat -see gravatar.  That Aussie sun is fierce.

Two weeks into this holiday and I have lost my fashionable byojaku

face, though I wouldn’t say that I was a fully-formed Sheila just


I see that there is an outcry regarding development in Lower

Bockhampton (Hardy’s Melstock).  Professor Rosemarie Morgan

of Yale has joined forces with Julian Fellowes (not Thomas Hardy)

and others opposed to the building of seventy homes under the

greenwood trees by an agricultural college.  That blasted madding

crowd encroaches everywhere.

Anyway, in case urbanisation obliterates an even greater area,

here’s an old tribute to Higher Bockhampton:


Where bright goldcrests dip over Rushy Pond,

speckled fawns lie, peaceful, in swallet holes,

cushioned on russet-needled floor.  Beyond

lies Puddletown Heath, but here thick beech boles,

sweet chestnut, laurel and hazel copses

shelter grass snakes, which coil in leafy shade,

where Hardy coppiced verse; plot synopses.

Witches’ broom fungus found on some decayed

branches illustrated family trees:

supernatural blight in Paradise,

which brought his fruitless marriage to its knees.

Through opened casements he would watch fireflies,

straining to see some glimmer in the pitch

dark of the cottage garden.  Then he wrote

of class difference between poor and rich;

his real words of complaint choking his throat.



Happy New Year!

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Yes, a healthy 2015 to all my loyal readers!

Candia Down Under xx


No Worries!


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Dear Posse, or should that be ‘possums’?

You have probably all wondered why Candia has gone off radar,

but I haven’t got time to correspond with you individually. So,

maybe you can make do with reading the communal postcard I

sent to my dear girlfriends in Suttonford, who are probably even

now sharing its contents in Costamuchamoulah‘s must-seen

cafe, as they sip their Chai Lattes- an inferior blend to the original

which I have just imbibed in Flinders Lane, Melbourne.

You see, the price of an air mail stamp to Pomland- not to be

confused with Poundland- is almost as much as an additional glass

of Yabby Lake fizz for moi and, on this once- in-a-lifetime walkabout,

I am not about to downgrade to the Red Claw drinkable’ variety.

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So, G’day, mates! I’ve already been down The Great Ocean Road;

seen my first koala in the wild- thankfully unaccompanied by Putin,

One Direction, or Obama- gawped at a joey peeping out of a row of

vines and consumed my first Blue-Eye and Barramundi.  The latter

sounds like Barry Manilow, but is infinitely more subtle.  As far as I

know, it doesn’t attempt to sing.  I do seem to remember Big

Mouth Billy, the singing sea bass, so maybe one could form a


It’s so good to relax and the upgrade to Business Class from

Singapore was a down-payment of future bliss.  It took a few

moments before I realised that I was watching ‘Brave‘ in Castilian

Spanish on the back of the seat in front, but my personally

appointed steward soon tuned me in to the appropriate lingo.

Better than a remote in the control of The Husband and a tad

more obliging.  It’s good to be treated better than Dame Edna


I see Billy Connolly is coming to Melbourne shortly. The Scots’

community should comprehend his repartee, but no doubt his

Antipodean spouse has taught him a little linguistic convergence,

so the audience should probably work out that he is not speaking

some kind of Pidgin, or Creole.  Anyway, hybridisation and cross-

fertilisation seem to be the name of the game over here.  One minute

you are in Sorrento and the next you are driving through Blairgowrie.

Talk about fusion!

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The Husband grew some roots in Federation Square as he

downed a Mountain Goat Steam Ale, while riveting his gaze

on the big screen’s events at the MCG and demolishing some

Kanga Bangas.

While Gus, Virginia, Diana, Murgatroyd, Dru and Nigel are

snowed in at the pele tower in The Borders, The Husband

and I are experiencing four seasons in one day down in The

Mornington Peninsula.  The chattering classes of Suttonford

have been silenced by the maniacal laughter of a kookaburra,

who stereotypically does sit in an old gum tree, as well as

crapping all over the garden fence every morning.  But, sans

soucis!  Even the mynahs’ cackles are shriller than some South

of England socialites.

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I know I said that I only sent one postcard, but that isn’t

strictly true.

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I did send Juniper a card of Jean Paul Gaultier’s teddy bear,

which he has cherished since the age of three and which sports

his prototype cone bra.

She would have loved the holographic talking heads on his models

in The NGV.  So would Alan Bennet!  Maybe I should have sent him a

postcard too, but he’s probably a friend of the designer and gets a

personalised one.

Even church-going is a lot more exciting here.  I don’t think Philip

Larkin would have been as lugubrious if he had removed his cycle

clips and gone into the Red Hill Greek Orthodox Monastery of Panagia


The priest told me that his Christian name- ‘Eleftherios‘ means ‘Liberty’

and he certainly takes a few.  I mean, back in Suttonford, the staid

congregation are startled out of their professed sobriety by the

ringing of a ship’s bell; the crashing of the organ and a cacophany of

bells in the Easter Saturday service in Wintoncester Cathedral.  But

Father Tatsis is much more melodramatic.  Look up http://www.chrispattas.

com and you can see a Youtube clip of the sacerdotal gesture of

celebration to the pronouncement: He is Risen!  Brings a whole new

angle to the phrase ‘shotgun wedding‘!It is a pity that the latter day

Melchisedek didn’t wield his weapon at the teenage thugs who raided

the icon’s golden votive jewellery collection and who made off with a

heist worth $100,000.  Failing that, he could have maybe stowed the

stuff in a safe.  Unfortunately there is Ice in Paradise and I don’t mean

anything as innocent as the latest Frozen movie.

The liberating thing about Oz seems to be that you can act like a big

kid and you are actually encouraged to do so.  Case in point:  The

Husband climbing into the art installation The Island Bird by Ernesto

Neto at The NGV International.

He got tangled up in what appeared to be an unravelled string shopping

bag, or a coloured version of Rab C Nesbitt’s vest.  I was more attracted

by Carsten Holler’s golden, mirrored carousel and managed to restrain myself

from breaking into You’ll Never Walk Alone, though, if I had, it would have been

regarded as a valid interactional response. Like Oz itself, even the artwork

invites us to stand on our heads and re-imagine the world, reconsidering our

place within it.

So, whether it is wallpapering a gallery with anarchic David Shrigley

observations, or sculpting a Sneezing Snub Nosed Monkey -Rhinopithecus

strykerl (McClelland Sculpture Park), the infectious Aussie irreverent take

on life affects even its Un-Orthodox priests and makes one feel that,

indeed, there are No Worries!


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