Monday, 22 May 2017

Social media is becoming more like the world

A long article in the SMH this morning about Twitter co-founder Ev Williams can be profitably read and so can contain some insights into the world of social media.

The son of a Nebraska farmer, Williams was always the cerebral type and apparently coming into contact with Wired magazine in the early 90s was a seminal moment for him. He found himself in Silicon Valley where he got involved with social media in the form of Blogger, which was bought by Google in 2003. (The blog you're reading is a Blogger blog.) Twitter followed but recently the cerebral thinker and innovator has begun looking at ways to take the sting out of social media's tail.

What do I mean by that? Apparently Williams had found the jock culture of 80s Nebraska - growing up in a rural community - unsatisfying. But now, as the article makes clear, it is those types - the less-intellectually curious, the mundane, and the ordinary - who are taking over the way social media works because they outnumber the cerebral ones by a wide margin in real life. The chickens have come home to roost. We now have Twitter helping Donald Trump - the epitome of a know-nothing leader - to get into power. The car wrecks the article talks about are happening more frequently because that's what cuts through and the people publishing the stuff are willing to lie to get what they want - which is attention.

It's the boy who cried "wolf" happening every day of the week, every moment of the day. The thinkers are being drowned out by the plebs. Democracy in action, or a failed system? Was social media meant to improve the stock or is it being commandeered by the hoi polloi into merely conveying the stupid messages their lives are saturated with, because they don't know any better?

It's hard to say. Williams, for his part, is still wedded to Medium, the publishing platform he set up and is funding, but it's not breaking even. Twitter itself is struggling financially. They're great ideas, but it seems that the quality of the platform is prescribed to an overwhelming degree by the quality of the people who use it. Can things happen the other way around? Can social media help people to become better versions of themselves? With recent and promised tweaks to publishing policies the major platforms might be on the way to achieving this, but as new generations of users come through the pipeline it's going to be hard to see an end to the stupidity. There will always be another wave of fools to foul the pond.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Movie review: Alien: Covenant, dir Ridley Scott (2017)

It's the beginning of the 22nd century and a colonising expedition is travelling across galaxies carrying 2000 colonists in suspended animation, as well as the crew. Accompanying the crew is Walter (Michael Fassbender), a "synthetic" robot with special abilities. One day the crew are disturbed out of suspended animation by a solar event and the ship sustains damage. Then one of the crew members sent out to repair the damage experiences interference in his headset while floating in space. The crew bring the headset back to the ship and discover that it is a voice singing John Denver's 'Country Road'. They isolate the signal out of its surrounding noise and discover that the message came from a nearby planet. The captain decides to explore. They get to the planet to discover no signs of animal life but instead a field of enormous wheat.

The search party splits up, and one of the crew steps on some pods, which release a spore that animates and enters his ear, where it then goes into the bloodstream. He gets sick and then hell breaks loose as an alien reemerges to wreak havoc on the crew. The landing vessel is destroyed in the ensuing gunfire and the ship is brought closer to the surface. Meanwhile, the remaining crew meet David (Fassbender), a synthetic from an earlier expedition who has survived living alone on the deserted planet for all the intervening years. He had been part of an exhibition including a doctor named Elizabeth Shaw, who had repaired him when the ship had foundered. David may have been alone for all these years but he has not been idle.

The alien finds the remaining crew in the citadel where David had taken them for shelter, and kills one of the crew. The captain, who had come to the planet with the search party, kills the alien but David introduces him to his own creations - the famous "eggs" that contain the embryonic aliens we are familiar with. The captain is infected and dies giving birth to one of the classical aliens David has engineered based on the spore virus that had been brought to the planet, and that interfaces with the DNA of the victim to give rise to one of the prototypical aliens that had crippled the search expedition.

With the captain dead, it is up to his second-in-command, Daniels (Katherine Waterston) to make sure the remains of the search expedition can get back to the mother ship, and the colonising expedition can continue. From this point the larger story of the 'vanquisher of worlds' virus is abandoned by the filmmakers, who resort to a classical "alien" battle in the ship between the humans and the creature. Needless to say, the viewer's interest in the film is diminished by this transition. It was much more interesting back on the planet, with its remnant civilisation. How did they get to the planet in the first place - those dead people whose corpses are strewn around the amphitheater - and who introduced it to that planet? And why?

It's all a bit confusing and unresolved. The Ozymandias reference is half-baked and unsatisfying. You wonder what motivated whoever it was who developed the alien virus to release it and to ruin a pristine planet. Many questions remain unanswered.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Losing more weight

It is Thursday here in Australia and tomorrow's Friday. I confirmed this earlier when an American friend on Twitter said that tomorrow's not Friday and I said, "It is here." "Great," he said, "how does it all end?" "In tears," I replied, "as usual." "Dammit," he said in reply. But at least we all know what today is anyway.

I went to the dentist this morning to get my teeth cleaned. It was the second visit for the cleaning because they had to numb up one side at a time. It wasn't too horrible. i find the anaesthetic phase of the operation to be by far the worst part of it. The cleaning is just a bit noisy. But putting great big needles into your gums isn't fun.

I went to the dietitian yesterday and we weighed me on their magic scales. I came in at 1.3kg under my weight a month ago, despite the fact that I had sort of binged in Japan on great food. It's entirely my fault that I slipped with the dieting, but now I'm back I can put my nose to the grindstone and bite my lip when temptation strikes, as it always does. I restarted the diet once I got home - I got home the weekend before last - and so that must have helped.

On the thinning front things have been going quite well. I cinched my belt in another notch the other day, which was the first time I had done this with this belt. You can tell things are going well when your clothes start to fall off you. Now I feel full again because the belt is tight but at least I can try on a size 38 next time I go to the menswear department at Myer for trousers.

On Monday the framer is coming over - all things being equal - to pick up two paintings that I want him to wrap for me to send to Japan. They now have lots of wallspace and not a lot of things to hang on it, so I'm helping to fill the blank areas. I have some paintings just sitting on the floor here, so I already have more than I need in the painting department.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

A walk through Chinatown in autumn

It was a nice day for a walk and they said on the news we would get rain later in the week, so i decided as soon as i woke up that today I would go for a walk. I took my usual route down to Darling Harbour. There was a pair of young women walking and one of them had dust on her backside but I felt to sheepish to say anything about it, and just kept walking through the crowds to the overpass.

They have closed off a lot of the pedestrian access due to the redevelopment of the IMAX cinema, which is going on apace - they have pulled down the whole cinema structure and have fenced off a large area of promenade as well - so I squeezed around the corner into the walkway near the roundabout. They have put up a sign telling bicyclists to slow down for pedestrians. It's just a small sign attached to the hoarding.

In Dixon street a girl was walking with a shiny tag attached to her handbag, which was slung over her shoulder, and it was making crazy patterns on the pavement as the sun shone off it. It made me think someone was wearing a reflective watch at first, but then I realised the dramatic movements of the light spot could not have been made by a watch on someone's wrist. The traffic light at the bottom of the street was still red when I crossed - there was no traffic coming when I looked - and I scampered across. There were plenty of people up on Union Street and the traffic was crawling around the corner as per usual.

In Harris Street near Mary Ann Street the ibis droppings were making their wonted stink, highlighted by the warm air. I made it all the way down Harris Street to Pyrmont, then went in the Japanese restaurant and had sushi and a beer. I was thinking about sending the new paintings to my family in Japan and how I would have to make two trips up to Windsor to get them wrapped adequately to protect them during the journey. I will call the framers this afternoon.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Got the internet working again

A couple of weeks ago I may have written about the internet going down here and the problem never really went away even after the telecommunications company sent out a technician to fix it. They did send me a notice by text message saying that they would be sending out another technician - so I needn't have worried - but somehow I forgot about this message in the usual press of everyday things.

This morning, the internet was down again and I tried rebooting the modem but nothing worked. Then I called the ISP and the guy reminded me that someone was coming out today to fix the connection. I remembered about it then and we rang off, then I went about my business - in fact I ironed the shirts - while I waited for the call on the intercom. Then I realised that the technician this time might not be coming to the apartment itself, but instead might be doing other things in other places to fix the connection. Anyway, I waited until midday - the zero time for the appointment to end this morning - and eventually the connection came back on because I could see the little icon change on the computer screen from "no connection" to "connected".

So now I have the internet back on, although how long it lasts this time is anyone's guess. We'll just have to see. Meanwhile, I have a glass of wine and a thought now about going out to get some lunch. I have been dieting but I have a regimen that allows me certain foods at certain times of the day, and I think a chicken schnitzel roll will be just the thing for me today.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Movie review: Ghost in the Shell, dir Rupert Sanders (2017)

The main character, Major (Scarlett Johansson) is a transhuman law enforcement android capable of tremendous feats of physical violence. This is a violent movie. Early in the piece, several senior figures in the company Hanka Robotocs - a government supplier that built Major - are targeted, and Major has to find out who is doing the devilry. She narrows the field down to one - Kuze (Michael Pitt) - who turns out to be a transhuman himself.

The plot turns on issues of identity. Hanka had told Major that her brain had been recovered from a person caught up in an accident but the story turns out to be untrue. In the process of unraveling the truth, people are hurt and killed including Major's fighting sidekick Batou (Pilou Asbaek) and scientist Dr Ouelet (Juliet Binoche). The stakes are high. And behind Major operates an outfit headed by Aaramaki (Takeshi Kitano) who reports to the prime minister and who has some independence from the company. In charge of the company is the shadowy Cutter (Peter Ferdinando).

As Major narrows in on the real identity and motivation of Kuze people are hurt, as we have seen. But the story becomes more complex and interesting. The relationship between Kuze and Hanka becomes clearer as the action moves toward the final battle between Major and the spider tank. Hanka is producing many lethal weapons for the government, it turns out, and not all of them were developed following ethical guidelines. This is a story where capital has a lot of answers to give to a lot of questions, which is not an unusual trope. But the problems of the plot are handled dexterously. In the centre of the maelstrom is the relationship between Major and Hairi (Kaori Momoi), who turns out to have a special relationship to our heroine.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Back into walking

It has been several months since I went walking. The hiatus was mainly due to the excessive heat of summer, which made walking uncomfortable. Now that the summer is over I can get back into it.

I went down into Darling Harbour today and came across an extraordinary sight. There were hundreds of mothers with babies in prams at the Darling Precinct, near the CBA buildings, all milling about and eating food from McDonald's. Some of the prams were in series, some in tandem. With some of the prams the babies faced backwards, with others they faced forwards. But the sheer scale of miniature humanity was staggering. There were mothers and babies on rugs on the grass, and mothers and babies sitting on the benches provided for the comfort of visitors. There were mothers and babies everywhere.

I continued on down Dixon Street and noticed that the council has installed lights in the footpath to signal to pedestrians when the traffic lights are red. Another tightening of the terms of existence in the public sphere, I thought. Another increase in severity of the level of control exercised over us by the authorities in their incessant search for obedience from the plebs.

Further on, around Harris Street, the traffic was quite heavy, and a new building site has sprung up where an existing building is being converted into apartments. There was a truck reversing through the Harris Street traffic into the driveway as I came upon the place. Everyone had to stop while the truck maneuvered into the correct position, including pedestrians.

I made my way back to Pyrmont and stopped in the sushi train restaurant for a few plates of sushi and a beer. Then I went home and got onto social media. I'm having a glass of wine now.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Remembering Cyclone Oswald

In 2013 starting on Australia Day Cyclone Oswald started tracking south down the Queensland coast at about 30km per hour. It went all the way down the coast into New South Wales and brought torrential rain to communities up and down the coast including those in the heavily-populated areas of southeast Queensland. I was living in the area at the time and I remember the downpours for two days that it took the system to pass over the area I was living in. The rain was literally horizontal, angled with the wind that thundered through the town for that time.

Today's Cyclone Debbie reminds me of those days. They were a time of fear and anxiety, when the weather takes control of the entire community, shutting down essential services and causing people to shelter inside. I am so grateful that we don't have these types of weather systems down here in New South Wales. They are terrible and bring an inordinate amount of anxiety to thousands of people.

In Sydney over the past three weeks we have had rain, but it has been a pedestrian, docile type of rain, not the grinding, pelting rain that you get with weather systems like Cyclone Oswald or Debbie. We are lucky down here to have pacific weather, calm weather that only occasionally steps over the bounds of comfort to cause problems for people.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Internet is fixed

On Wednesday I posted about the PC crisis which saw me buy both a new PC and a new monitor. The PC crisis, however, was immediately followed by an internet crisis, where the net slowed down to a snail's pace. It reminded me of when I moved back to Sydney in February 2015 and the modem immediately conked out as soon as I moved into this place. That seemed strange by itself, but because it is added to this new event things look doubly strange. How can a new PC cause your internet connection to go slow? It can't, said the Optus technician who came to my house this morning. "It's just a coincidence," he added.

The technician was only in the apartment for about five minutes then he went down to the building's communications room in the garage - he had gotten keys from the security office beforehand - and then he came back, put some things away in his bag and said that telecommunications provider Optus would be in touch with me probably within 24 hours. He said he wasn't sure where the problem was but agreed that the rain we had had so much of recently probably hadn't helped things. "Ït's probably the rain," he said.

So here I am again able to do internet banking. Which is a luxury for some but for us here in Australia it's just a normal part of life. We are surely blessed by such things being almost universally used. It takes so much of the effort out of banking, being able just to log in from your computer at home and transfer money from one account to another, and to pay bills online. I certainly don't take it for granted. People must think there's something strange about me when I go onto Twitter to say 'thank you' for being able to do online banking. Well, there you go. I'll just have to put up with people thinking I'm a little strange. Because I am thankful for this amazing facility. I'm also thankful to finally have a computer and internet that work properly, because life without either of these things these days is quite unthinkable.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

A new computer

I had had some problems with the display of the computer because it was blinking repeatedly, and so I thought I could get it to cooperate by pressing some of the buttons on the right hand side of the screen. This was on Saturday. It worked and my call to the technicians was anyway filled and I got the guy to reset my iPad instead. Then when I booted the computer the next day, I got the same problem, so I called the technicians again. Meanwhile, I made do with the laptop, which is a less-then-optimal solution because the screen is so small and it is so slow.

Another technician came out and he tested this and that and told me that the motherboard in the computer was broken, so I would have to buy a new computer. This was on Tuesday morning, and I had a spare 90 minutes between appointments so I got in the car and went down to the electrical store at Broadway Shopping Centre and bought a new HP. The technicians sent out a new guy to install it and bring across the data files from the old one, but in the process of doing that work he found that the screen was still not working. Therefore the problem of the blinking screen turned out to be either with the video cable or with the monitor.

I got in the car and the technician got on his motorbike this morning and we went down to an electronics store near Ultimo TAFE and I bought a new monitor. We brought it back and installed it and it worked fine - I now had a new PC and a new monitor - and it was also bigger than the previous one, so I have abundant screen room now. It was also cheaper than the previous one - which, admittedly, had been bought in 2009 - so I was marginally happy. The new technician - who had done work on two days for me - called his head office and they discussed my case and decided to waive the fee for the second technician, so I will only pay for the first technician.

This is a good outcome anyway because even though the computer was not broken, most computers only last for about 4 or 5 years, it would have been time to get a new one soon anyway. I gave the second technician the old computer and monitor in case he could get the monitor to work. He took them home to his place in his car.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Went out to get some lunch

This morning I was woken up by the telephone and handled the call then got some coffee from the pot of cold coffee. Then I had some wine, and a bit later I went up the street to get some lunch. I had to go to the ATM in the convenience store first, then I ambled up the street to the kaiten sushi shop and ordered a beer. I sat down opposite two young men who obviously knew each other, and started picking the plates of sushi off the track.

It feels fine being without the girl. I do miss her and that's something real that I can contemplate when things get boring, which they might do on occasion. But I do miss her as well. I miss not being connected to her daily life, being excluded. It's something of an adventure. I won't stop loving her just because I'm away from her, it's just that the feelings are different in quality and quantity. There's no downside - I mean no irritations coming from her, that there might be if we were spending time together - it's all a uniform blank pain gap that needs filling.

I'll be busy all day tomorrow. There are appointments from 9.30am through to 4pm. I have to do lots of things and be in different places. We'll see how the 1.30pm appointment with the dietician goes. I'm frankly not looking forward to that one, as it means being open about my drinking, which is something I don't feel like doing. But I am fairly open about it here, on the blog, if anyone is interested. It's just that there'll be someone who is close to me who will be watching all these things, like what I eat, and that makes me a bit nervous.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Worried most of the day

I was on the way up to get some lunch at the Vietnamese place when the girl called me and said that she had locked herself out of her apartment. I immediately turned back but she told me not to come. She would fix the problem by herself, she said. I demurred. I continued on my way to the restaurant and ordered a chicken pho, which I ate at a table outside on the street. When I had finished I walked back to my place. I noticed that my big umbrella - the one I had bought at the Fish Market one day when me and the girl had been caught there by some heavy rain - had broken; one of the plastic supports had snapped off and it is past repair.

When I got home I had more wine and settled down to social media. I had a long chat with a friend, who concentrated the conversation on birthdays. We went through the star signs and it turns out she's a Taurus on the cusp of Gemini. An interesting combination. I told her that the girl is a Pisces. "Very sensitive," she said. Yes, that was true, I admitted. It turns out her son is a Pisces too. I didn't say that the girl had barred me from contacting her - the girl - but I did tell my friend that the girl had locked herself out of her apartment. She said she would be alright. I tried to believe it too.

We talked for about 30 minutes and then I had a nap, where I stayed for a couple of hours. When I got up I contacted the girl and she answered me eventually on Facebook Messenger, telling me that she had got back into her apartment. I still don't know how she did it, but she got back in. I cried a little bit from relief, I had been so worried all day. Anyway the day turned out to be a good one, I didn't have to worry any more about the girl, and she was safe inside again. I was very grateful.

Monday, 13 March 2017

A day at the beach

Yesterday morning the girl was over at my place and we got in the car and headed out onto the Western Distributor, taking the Cross City Tunnel to Rushcutters Bay. We turned into Ocean Avenue at the top of the hill and went down to Double Bay and parked the car. Then we went looking for an open restaurant.

We found one which has a Brazilian slant and took a seat. We ordered some entrees and a seafood curry main, as well as a coffee for me. The food was good except for the chicken wings, which were not fresh. I ordered some more rice to go with the curry, which we hadn't finished, and the girl ordered a coffee as well. She paid and we left the restaurant then headed east toward Watsons Bay.

There were a lot of cars around, making it hard to find a parking spot, but we managed to get one at the lower Vaucluse shops. We left the car and walked down Palmerston Avenue to Gibson's Beach then along Marine Parade to the baths, but the girl didn't like the look of the water; it was low tide. We kept on going and got to Camp Cove where we headed up on the bush walk to get to Lady Bay Beach. Once there we headed down the stairs - the landing at the top is an iron mesh and is completely transparent, not much fun for me who is afraid of heights - and onto the beach.

We took up a spot near the entrance, just where a waterfall splashes onto the rocks and the sand. The waterfall is not very heavy but you can definitely feel the water splashing down as you lie there on the sand, depending on where you position your towel. We only had one towel, and the girl used her jacket and shorts instead. I put some sunscreen on her back, while she did her front.

The surf beckoned, and we got in. There are a lot of rocks near the shoreline and the water gets quite deep quite quickly, so you have to be careful on both accounts. We bobbed around in the water for about 20 minutes then got out and lay down on our "towels". After lying there for about half an hour we got up and left, heading up the stairs onto the path, and back to the car located about a kilometre away. Then we drove home.

Once back in Pyrmont we went to Coles to get some makings for dinner, which the girl kindly cooked. I was starving hungry, and wolfed down the lamb chops she had given me. This morning we got up and I took her straight home as she had an appointment with her GP. I also drove her on to Broadway and then went home.

Monday, 6 March 2017

A day in the mountains

Yesterday morning the girl and I met at Central Station as we had organised to go to the Blue Mountains for the day. We met in the Main Concourse near the newsagent. Inside the gates we bought sandwiches and water for the journey. On platform 18 there was a huge crowd of people waiting to get on the train. and once we were on-board and had secured seats the rest of the people crowded in, with young people sitting on the steps up to the top level and down to the bottom level.

The journey started, with stops at Strathfield, Parramatta, Westmead and Penrith before the long, slow ride up the mountain.We had eaten our sandwiches by this time and most of the other passengers around us were asleep. Slowly, the stations in the mountains passed one by one. We eventually arrived at Katoomba and got out with the crowds. We walked down the footpath to the Paragon and went in. We ordered pumpkin soup and a vege burger but the girl couldn't eat either of them, she said they weren't fresh. I realised later that the burger wasn't fresh but I ate it anyway. When we got out of the cafe I had to use the toilet. I went back to the cafe but there were too many new people waiting, so I found a public toilet. A man went in just before me. I heard splashing and a tap running and eventually knocked on the door. The man opened the door with a toothbrush in his mouth and said he'd be finished in a minute. He was soon out and I ducked in to use the lavatory.

We walked down the hill and turned off right toward Scenic World. There was a group of young Japanese men ahead of us walking down the road. We trudged along in the mist, eventually arriving at our destination. We went inside and bought tickets, then got onto the Scenic Railway and went out to the outdoor platform to get on. We queued in a line and eventually sat down in the cockpit. The vehicle took off with the music from 'Raider's of the Lost Ark' playing on the stereo. Down into the valley the train shot, like a bullet, and we all leaned forward and went "Ohhhhh" as it descended into the green treetops. We arrived at the bottom, where the rain had started falling lightly but persistently, and got out of the cramped cars. We all walked down the path away from the railway, into the bush.

The Hammond family that runs Scenic World has built a raised pathway through the rainforest. We saw a female lyrebird go down through the bush. Apart from the brief sighting the bush was mute today, except for a fairy wren - a tiny brown bird much smaller than a sparrow - who popped out and said hello while we were sheltering from the rain. We trudged along the path for about an hour and a half and eventually emerged back at the Scenic Railway, which we caught back up to the top. There was one photo stop on the way: a small, variegated waterfall that tumbled down the hillside under the pathway and over the rocks into the Jamieson Valley. There must be hundreds of waterfalls like this in the valley, all feeding the streams that congregate at the bottom in a creek.

When we got to the top the girl bought some icecream and ate it while we sat on some seats in the shop at the top of the hill. We used the toilets, then left, and waithed for the bus. When it came we paid with the Opal cards we carried and went down to Echo Point then back up to the station. After we got off the girl said she was hungry so we stopped at a kebab joint and had half a chicken kebab each.

At the station, I bought the girl a cappuccino before we went onto the platform. We waited for the train, which when it came was almost empty. Lots of people got on. We went down the mountain, onto the plain and across the Nepean River. When we stopped at Blacktown a girl seated near us asked us if we had passed Seven hills. I told her we were at Blacktown and that out next stop was Parramatta. She asked me to tell her when we arrived at Parramatta, We sat there waiting. When we got to Parramatta, I told her where we were and she got off, presumably to catch a train back west.

We got off the train at Central and waled to the Capitol Square shopping centre to buy some Thai takeaway. Then we caught the light rail back to Pyrmont and mooched around in the evening. It was cosy and dry. We were tired and felt lazy, and just hung around watching the Mardi Gras coverage on SBS. Then we went to bed.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

A quiet day inside

Today I only went outside once: to buy lunch. The rest of the day I was inside. I got up to let in the cleaners and when they had left I went back to bed and slept for a few more hours. But the noise from the remediation works was tremendous, so my sleep was broken and shallow.

In the afternoon I wrote two poems, both about drinking. i started drinking this afternoon after about 3pm and kept on going until I went for a nap about 6.30pm. It was an afternoon of naps and writing. In the late afternoon i talked on Messenger with my daughter and ex-wife about the Japanese property purchase. They have been doing things over there for the purchase later this month. I sent some emails to the Japanese lawyer.

Otherwise, it was a quiet day. Nothing much happened. The poems I wrote are ok, but not my best work.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Sushi for lunch

This morning I woke up to a phone call from a business associate who wanted to update my details, and after I hung up I got out of bed and made some coffee. It had rained during the night so it was a little dark this morning when I came out to the living room. The air was still cool and crisp, unlike in midsummer when it streams in through the windows like a blast of pure radiation (which of course it is at those times). I sat down at the computer and turned it on and checked the emails.

There was another email from the Japanese lawyer asking for more notarised documents relating to the Japan property purchase, so I made a call to the notary public in the CBD and made an appointment to go in to pick up the document he was preparing. Then I went back to bed for a nap and set the alarm. I got up about 45 minutes later and headed out over the Pyrmont Bridge. It was hot again and I started to sweat. I arrived at the notary public's office in George Street and went up in the creaky old elevator. I signed the form he showed me and paid for the document then headed back to Pyrmont.

Back at Harris Street I went into one of the Japanese restaurants and ordered a beer, and sat down at the sushi train to have some lunch. When I had eaten five plates of sushi I paid with my debit card and left, heading home. At home I went back to bed for a nap and had a sleep. I woke up some time later and had some cold coffee with milk, then opened a bottle of wine. I turned on the TV and listened to the news while attending to social media.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Sunday dinner at the pub

I got up this morning and spoke to the girl - who had come over last night and stayed after a dinner engagement - and then went back to bed, getting up late. We had some breakfast - including onion soup for me because I had a slight cold, as well as special tasty carrots from the supermarket, and a scrambled egg with carrot and tomato - and then I washed the dishes. I also dried out some clothes the girl needed for the day.

When we were ready I drove her home and came back in the car listening to a program about homelessness in the Shoalhaven. When I got home I went straight up the street to the Vietnamese restaurant and had a bowl of pho, then came back home and started straight away on a poem about homelessness. I put on the washing and went to bed and had a nap, then got up later and opened some wine. I finished the poem with some revisions and then went up to the pub to get some food. At the pub I bought a beer and took out some money from the ATM then sat down at the table and had the pasta I had ordered. I ate it one-handed while scrolling through my Facebook feed, then got up from the table and returned home.

I wrote another poems, this one titled 'Dinner at the pub' and turned the TV on. I put half the washing into the tumble dryer and sat down to edit the poems I had written during the day. When I was happy with them, I published them again on Facebook. I put the other half of the washing into the tumble dryer. I made a tweet.

Friday, 24 February 2017

A quiet night at home

The girl stayed over last night so I got up early and drove her home in the car, so that she could get to some meetings on time. I came home in the rush-hours traffic unscathed and parked the car under the building. When I got inside I went back to bed and slept until late, then got up and put on the washing - the sheets on this occasion - and ironed the shirts.

Later I went back to bed for a nap and then the girl called me from the city and I got up and walked into town. We went to McDonald's first for a drink, then to the cheap noodle restaurant on Bathurst Street to have some food. The noodles with chicken were delicious but too long, making it hard to serve them up in the small dishes we had for the purpose. The dumplings were reliably good and I had mine with chilli and vinegar. Then I said goodbye to the girl and walked home.

At home I opened some wine and had a drink and put half of the laundry in the tumble dryer. I went to the computer and focused on social media, which was something I hadn't done for a few days. Later, I washed the dishes and put the second load of laundry on to dry. When all the laundry was dry I put the dry sheets in the bedroom and went back to social media. It didn't rain this evening, as I had somehow hoped it would, but I had a good evening nonetheless. The wine got a bit acid later but I opened a new bottle and kept drinking. It was a quiet night, a good night.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

A trip to the city

This morning I got up late and made some coffee, then checked the emails. There was one from my Japanese lawyer about the property purchase in Japan, and it described documents I had to secure to enable the purchase to go ahead. These included notarised certificates for the power of attorney for my ex-wife, as well as notarised identification documents needed to establish that I am an Australian resident.

I telephoned the public notary in the city whose details appeared in my lawyer's email and made an appointment to go to see him to get the certificates described. Then I finished off what I was doing and headed outside. I went down Harris Street to Union Square then headed out over the Pyrmont Bridge to the CBD. The notary's office is in the Dymocks building, and I headed there and got into the rather rickety lift. In the notary's office I got a phone call from my ISP, and I asked them to call me back tomorrow. I went into the notary's office and showed him the originals of the documents I had emailed in the morning. He signed the certificates and handed them to me, then I paid. He made some smalltalk. I left the office and headed back to Pyrmont.

I went to the Japanese restaurant and ordered some ramen and had some sushi and a beer. Then I paid and went to my psychiatrist's office and we talked about my weight problem. He had some suggestions. I concurred with his advice. After the appointment I went back home and had some wine and used social media for a couple of hours until I felt sleepy. Then I had a nap until the girl called me and told me she was on her way to her dance class. I got up and went back to social media - relieved to have something interesting to do; we had had a blackout the night before and I had been cut off from my usual retreats - and then the girl called me again and said she had lost her Opal card and was in Ashfield instead of Newtown - where the dance studio is. I told her she was a fuzzlebuggy and she asked me what that was and I said she wasn't very organised.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

A guest to lunch

I got up late and had a cup of coffee then went to the pharmacy to order some drugs - I always have to order these ones, which is a pest but they are necessary - then I went up to Union Square to wait for my lunch guest. I had met Taka when he was small and he had come to Australia to play soccer from Japan, so I had decided to do his mother a favour and help him by having lunch with him. He had only been in the country for two weeks. I had organised to meet him at Union Square, at the corner of Miller Street, but he ended up on another Miller Street, and I told him to get in a cab to get to the Pyrmont Miller Street.

He eventually arrived and we walked down to the Fish Market, which was full to the gills on a busy Sunday. We bought some fish and went back to my place. I had a glass of wine and gave Taka a glass of water to drink. We talked through lunch about his situation playing soccer in Australia, and why Australian players don't normally go to Japan to play. Apparently the trend for Japanese players to come to Australia is a recent one, and Taka told me he is making most of his money working in a Japanese restaurant, with that income supplemented by playing soccer in a secondary league - not the A-League.

After lunch we went for a walk around the headland and back to my place, then I said goodbye and Taka headed off - to play soccer this afternoon in a field near the Harbour Bridge, apparently - and I went to bed and had a nap. Later I got up and put on the washing, and talked to my ex-wife - who is a friend of Taka's mother - on Messenger, about Taka. We decided that he was living a dream, which is something that is beautiful and belongs to young people.

I sat down to enjoy the evening storm. It decided to rain today after dark, although I'm not sure how it affected Taka and his soccer buddies. We can only hope that they had already sought out shelter by the time the rain came on.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Buying a costume

I got up quite late this morning and saw a message from the girl - we had organised to go out this morning - and I had some coffee and left the apartment to go to her house in the car. When I got there I found a parking spot and went upstairs. She was ready to go and soon we were on our way up the Princes Highway then onto Euston Road, where we quickly parked. We walked up to an eatery named Grandma's and ordered some lunch - I had some chicken stew and a flat white and the girl had a baguette and some apple juice - which we ate soon enough and paid for before walking to the costume shop on the corner.

She looked through some genie costumes that the sales clerk pointed out. The bags of costumes in the store are all sealed and you cannot open them; you have to rely on the picture on the packet and what you can see through the plastic bag they come in. She eventually settled on a purple genie's costume - we are going to see Aladdin on Wednesday, and she wanted to wear something appropriate - and a hat in the style they wear in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang.

She wore the hat all day. After we got back to my place we hap a lie down then got up and went into town to buy some shorts for me. I haven't worn any shorts during the summer and she thought I should have some. I eventually found two pairs in suitable sizes, but sizes vary so much you cannot just rely on asking for a "size 40, thanks". You're likely to get something two sizes too small. I also bought a belt. After I had paid for the items I found that the alarm went off at the exit, so I had to take them back to get reneutered at the checkout. Then we went upstairs to level 6 where Myer has something called 'Wonderland', a shopping floor for children. It includes an interactive display that captures an image of the person taking part, where you can hit snowflakes and airships and that sort of thing.

We walked back home across the Pyrmont Bridge and went to Coles to buy some groceries. We bought some seafood, figs, tofu, coriander, carrot and snow peas. At home I went to the bedroom to have a short nap while the girl did things with her phone on the couch. When I got up I came out and she started to cook. She cooked snow peas, pasta with carrot, and a seafood soup with tofu, as well as the rest of the dumplings from a few weeks before. After dinner I drove her home because she was feeling tired, and we stopped off at Woollies to do some shopping for her, before driving to her place, where I dropped her off and headed home up Marsh Street and O'Riordan Street. Once home I did the dishes then sat down in front of social media and turned on the TV.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Heavy rain in the afternoon

This morning I got up fairly early because the intercom buzzed when the postie came to deliver my coffee, but I didn't make it to the intercom on time to let him in. I went back to bed and slept for another hour or so, then got up to make some coffee. After drinking a cup I went back to bed and then got up later to iron the shirts. While I was ironing them the girl called for a chat.

I went out to have some lunch at a Japanese restaurant and then after lunch went to the post office to pick up the coffee.

When I got home I went back to bed for a nap and slept for a couple of hours but there were too many messages coming through from the girl and other people, so I didn't sleep much. When I got up I had some wine and sat down at the computer. I bought a ticket to Aladdin for the girl and me to celebrate her birthday, and then an email came through about the property purchase in Japan, which I attended to.

In the mail in the morning there had been the letter which I had sent to my ex-wife's friend's son. He had moved to Sydney to play soccer and she was worried about him and he was living in my suburb so I said I would contact him. Unfortunately, they gave me the wrong address so the letter came back to sender. I confirmed the address with my ex-wife later, and it turned out to have been wrong. The young man contacted me on Facebook and so I can use Messenger to talk with him from now on.

It rained heavily later in the afternoon and I started to write a poem but it didn't feel right, with the alcohol and everything, so I deleted the two lines I had written and closed the file. At least we have seen the last of the worst of the summer heat for this year. It's pretty certain that we'll have nothing to equal what we had last weekend again,at least this year. Which is a blessing. I feel immensely grateful that we have seen the worst of the heat over for the immediate future. What next year will bring, is still to be seen.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Noodles in Marrickville

This morning I got up early to let in the cleaners but they sent me a message saying they would be late due to traffic on Parramatta Road. I went back to bed to wait for them and eventually their buzz arrived and I let them into the building. They started doing their thing and I lay down on the couch to wait, with the TV on. When they had finished I paid and went back to bed and had a sleep for a few hours. Then after I got up and had some more coffee, I went back to bed again.

At about 3.30pm I got up because I had an appointment at an open house in the afternoon, and I left home at around 4pm in the car. It only took me about 30 minutes to arrive at the location, and I walked down the street, nursing my sore ankle from the day before. I got some way down the street - to the station - before turning back and going into a Vietnamese restaurant and having a bowl of chicken and bamboo shoots noodles.

When I had finished I went back and waited in my car for about 15 minutes then went to the open house and looked around. It is an interesting place where the owner has done a lot of work on the place - including a koi pool, partridge aviary, ducted cooling, centralised hifi, second-level bedroom up some seriously steep stairs - and there's a garage out the back big enough to be a granny flat.

I met my friend there and we looked around then he needed to go to Woollies, so we walked down the street talking and did some shopping, then walked back to my car. I drove him home then headed back to my place down Paramatta Road and Pyrmont Bridge Road. When I got back the girl called me, she had been at a talk in Surry Hills and wanted to go to a Thai restaurant to have some dinner before going home. She called me again later, after she had got off the train, to complain about a rude woman on the train who had complained about her coughing. I went back to social media to do some more sharing online before going to bed.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Dinner at home

I got up earlyish today and made some coffee then tried to order coffee online from Campos Coffee. Their store in Newtown usually supplies my coffee needs but I wasn't sure about the weather, which in recent times has been a bit erratic, so I didn't want to count on a long walk to get coffee. The website has been upgraded and I discovered that my login details didn't work, so I called Campos's NSW office but the call was ignored. I sent a message using the online form but that didn't get any attention either. So I took the initiative in the afternoon and decided to change my password, which I hadn't wanted to do in the first instance. This step worked, and I was able to clear my shopping basket and order the coffee I need in the mornings.

The girl called me after I had called Campos and wanted to know if I wanted to go to lunch in the city, and I agreed. So I put on my shoes and headed out into Darling Harbour and up Bathurst Street to the restaurant. She hadn't arrived so I asked for a table for two and sat down, and ordered a beer. I was seated next to a elderly couple, and I watched them out of the corner of my eye while I was on Facebook on the mobile. The man was seated opposite me at an angle and he had a long-sleeve shirt on and was drinking a Sapporo out of a glass - my beer came with no glass and they didn't ask me if I wanted one, so I decided to drink out of the bottle - and he was examining the beer offerings on the touch-panel menu they have in the restaurant. It's the kind of menu where you order the food and drinks electronically, and it's remarkably easy to use.

When the girl arrived I ordered another beer, and she ordered some water. We both went for the hokke 'te shoku ryouri'; hokke is a type of fish they regularly eat in Japan and served this way it is of the common type you find normally in Japan, with the fish grilled, and with rice and miso soup. It took a while to arrive but it was worth it. I ordered another beer later on, while eating the meal. I tend to eat quite fast, and today was no different. The elderly couple had moved on by this time and a young Chinese couple were seated next to us instead by now. When we had finished the meal, I used the loo then we left the building and walked down to Dymocks. We walked around the Dymocks stationary shop for a while then headed to Eckersley's, the art shop, which is on York Street. We bought some watercolours, brushes, and watercolour paper because she wanted to do some paintings of her dreams.

We headed back to my place and I lay down and had a nap while she painted. When I came out of the bedroom she had almost finished the head page of the series, showing a woman in bed asleep, with the bedspread and window - with blinds - prominent. There is also a side table and a lamp. Later, we walked to Coles and did some shopping, buying food for dinner, which the girl had offered kindly to cook at my place. We prepared three dishes: a beef dish with chilli, ginger, and garlic; a zucchini dish; and a lettuce dish. I was famished by the time it was ready - we ate at about 8pm - and woofed it down. Halfway through I was lying on the sofa groaning with pleasure because I had been having sardines on toast for the past while for dinner.

She left after a while and I didn't walk with her to the bridge because my ankle was playing up a bit. I came back to the flat and got a drink of water, and lay down to watch the news, then got up and sat down at the computer to use social media instead.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Wrote two poems today

I got up this morning a bit early and made some coffee, then went back to bed and slept for a couple more hours. It was raining fairly hard this morning, and when I got up the second time it was still raining. I sat down at the computer and checked poems done the day before. I saw that one of them needed some more work, and I worked a bit more on another poem from last week as well.

Then I started work on a poem about the rain and it came out quite easily. I was happy with it except for the last two lines. I then went out to the sandwich shop to buy a roll - schnitzel, tomato, lettuce and onion - and came back with that and a two-litre bottle of milk, because I had been running low on milk. When I had finished eating the roll I took a look at this morning's poem again and decided to change the final couplet based on the fact that the sun had started to shine again. I had actually worked out some of the two lines - including the essential rhyme - on the way back from the shops. Walking has this effect on you, that it makes things flow.

After finishing the poem I published it on social media then started work on another poem based on some thoughts that I had had on my walk to the sandwich shop - that period of my life when I had quit smoking. Again, this time the poem came out quite quickly, and I tried putting the discarded final couplet from the poem about rain written this morning in it but then decided to do something different. I just had trouble finding a word to rhyme with "lungs" and decided that the half-rhyme "feeling" would be enough, and went with that.

Today was a very productive day, during which not only did I write two original works from scratch, but I also finished two other poems, improving them materially. I feel blessed because although it is summer the temperature is reasonable, and there was no sitting in the chair covered in sweat like there had been before, during the heatwave.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Two trips to Watsons Bay

I was woken a bit earlier than usual this morning by my remembering it was the day I had promised my brother that I would take the iPad out to the Columbarium at St Peter's Church at Watson's Bay and run a FaceTime convo at mum's final resting place. Not long after I woke up the intercom buzzed and it turned out to be the guy delivering my recently-ordered box of wine. I let him in then went back to bed then a little later got up and made some coffee.

Once the PC was booted up I was able to send my brother a message on Messenger about the preliminary date we had made to do the convo and he replied that he was driving but would be home soon, so I should go to Watson's Bay when free. I quickly drank down the coffee I had poured for myself and headed out in the car, taking the ramp up to the Western Distributor then getting into the Cross City Tunnel. At Rushcutter's Bay there was a fair bit of traffic but I made my way patiently along New South Head Road until I arrived and parked in the church grounds. I took the iPad out of the car and dialled up my brother. He answered before it rang out and then I started my brief tour of the Columbarium by going through the gate into the enclosure. I took him right down to the bottom - even though I knew mum's niche, and granny's niche, were up near the top - where there is a stagnant pond. Then I made my way back up to near the gate and took the photo that accompanies this blogpost. I took a photo of granny's plaque as well.

Once back in the car I took the route along Old South Head Road to Surry Hills, then through Chinatown and across to Harris Street, and home. After arriving home I had another cup of coffee, and while I was drinking it the girl rang and said she had been watching a sci-fi TV series yesterday on her computer, and wanted to go out to where there were trees. I asked her if she wanted to go to Watson's Bay, and she demurred, saying that I had just returned from there. I said it was ok, and got in the car and drove down to her place. She came down to the street and we set off up Marsh Street and around beside the airport terminals, then up General Holmes Drive to Kensington, where we turned right across the traffic and I headed up Anzac Parade to Paddington, then along the motorway and down Old South Head Road.

We parked the car on Old South Head Road and headed down to Gibson's Beach - where I grew up - and down the path to Doyle's, where I bought a pack of fish and other fried things, and a bottle of water. The girl had brought her own water. We sat at first near the restaurant but some foolish Chinese were feeding the seagulls, making it a bit of a disaster area, so we headed down to a bench on the esplanade where we finished the fish.

After it was all gone, we headed back to Gibson's Beach - where crowds of secondary school students from the Western Suburbs were walking down the path toward Watson's Bay - and up to Hopetoun Avenue, then into The Crescent and down the path at Parsley Bay, where we sat down at a picnic table and ate some food that she had prepared for a picnic. When that was finished she went for a bit of a walk around the park a couple of times, then we headed up through the park's hinterland to Hopetoun Avenue again. We walked back down to the car and drove off, taking the route of New South Head Road and the Cross City Tunnel, to save time.

When we got back to my apartment I lay down for a nap but then my son called with some news, and I got up to answer his call. I made the girl a pot of tea and she said she wanted to catch the train home because it meant more walking - which she does for her health - but it was still too early to go so we played a game of chess. I won, but more narrowly than on previous occasions. Then I put on my backpack for shopping and we headed out to Pyrmont Bridge, cutting down into the shopping centre to have some wonton soup, before I said goodbye to her. I headed up to Coles and did the shopping, then paid and walked home and unpacked the groceries in the kitchen.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

A very warm day

I managed to sleep last night in segments of time but it's all a bit of a blur. I know I was asleep from some of the time at least. I kept on waking up because of the extreme heat. I turned over my pillow twice. It wasn't as bad as it had been at some times up in Queensland when I lived there. At those times I would have a completely sodden pillow where the sweat from my head had accumulated in the night.

This morning I got up late and got out of bed and made some coffee. Then I got the dirty laundry and put it in the washing machine, putting out the recycling garbage as well, with the bottles, in the garbage room on my floor. I turned on the washing and closed the door to the laundry compartment in the kitchen.

After the coffee was finished I tried to drink some wine but it was too acidic - I had finished up with this bottle the previous night, and remembered it had made my stomach churn - so I threw out what was in the glass, then poured the rest of the bottle down the sink. I went back to bed, stripping off my sodden clothes, then immediately got up again as it was too hot in bed. I had tried to read a bit but it was no good, it was just too hot, and I calculated that it would be better to be up and at the computer than in bed in this heat. I got up and got a bottle of rose from the sideboard in the bedroom, and put it in the fridge.

I went out to the computer without a shirt on, just my pants, but when I decided to do a blogpost I realised I would need a shirt because it would look too unseemly to take a photo of myself with no shirt. I thought about messaging the girl but decided against it because she had told me yesterday by message that she wanted to go for three days without messaging me. I had already written a poem for her this morning - it is a poem about being alone - and I went back to reread the poem, as well as some others I have written this year.

While writing this blogpost I got up to make some cheese-on-toast. I also put away the dishes from yesterday, which included some dishes from breakfast, which she had cooked here with me in attendance. Strangely to think, but I heard at some point this morning on the TV that it would rain this afternoon, and that the temperature would be lower. It's hard to credit it, but actually when I look out the window I can see the grey clouds coming across the city, so it might in fact be true. Thank goodness, we've had three days of this heat now and it's not a novelty any more, it's just a trial.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

At the costume shop

Last night the girl really wanted to go out so I arranged to meet her at Mr Wong in Bridge Street in the city. I caught a cab there; the cab was dropping someone off outside my apartment building when I got downstairs and I got straight in and went off. We drove across the Western Distributor to King Street, then up to Elizabeth Street, and into Bridge Street. I waited outside for about 10 minutes before she arrived, and in that time I made a booking with the front staff for a table for two.

When she arrived we stood around waiting for most of an hour and when we finally got to the table she was convinced that other people had got seats before us. I wasn't convinced they hadn't either, but said nothing. She, on the other hand, told off one of the wait staff. We ordered fried rice, wonton soup, and some steamed fish fillet with a delicious sesame sauce. I ate mine rapidly because it was so delicious, which is why when she said that she wouldn't go to Mr Wong any more I was disappointed.

When the meal was finished and I had paid we went outside and proceeded to the taxi rank on Bridge Street, and got in a cab, then went home. It was quite late when we got home so we went straight to bed. We got up this morning quite late and made some breakfast, including fried eggs, tomato salad, and fried mushrooms with some fried cashew nuts. Then we got in the car and I started driving to her place but when we got to Euston Road in Alexandria she saw a sign for a shop selling costumes, and went "Ah!" It was hard to find a parking space so I didn't stop but she kept on talking about the shop so just before arriving at her place I turned around and went back to the costume shop.

It was hot inside the shop - which is situated in an old warehouse, with poor ventilation - but we made our way around inside, looking at hats - policeman's cap, soldier's berets, a Turkish fez, a ghost hat - and costumes - a British Bobbie's costumes, a sci-fi princess costume, a 19th century Dandy's costume and others - before she decided on a burgundy velvet top hat, which I bought for her. When we had almost decided on buying the green Turkish fez - and then decided against it - we left the shop and went next door to the cafe where she ordered a vanilla slushie and I ordered a flat white. We sat down at the tables in the cafe to drink our drinks.

When we had finished the drinks we went to her place and since there was no available parking space I let her out and drove back to my place. I noticed that the car lights were set on a different setting - because I had taken the car into the garage to be serviced last week - and switched them back to the normal 'Auto' setting. I came upstairs and opened a beer then opened one of the bottles of wine I had bought yesterday afternoon at the bottle shop up the street.

Friday, 10 February 2017

A sweltering day

The girl came over last night bringing a container full of dumplings for herself, and I had a couple of them, then this morning after we got up - it wasn't too late, about 9.30am by this time - she cooked some more dumplings that I still had in the freezer from an earlier occasion. It was hot in the apartment because of the outside temperature, but she also made some egg pancake with flour and eggs and seasoning - she used harissa seasoning and chilli - which we ate with some baby tomatoes, and a cup of coffee each.

Later she asked me if she could have some sugar for her coffee because without it she said it was too bitter.

Once we had finished and she had had a shower we headed out in the car. She didn't have any contact lenses or her glasses, and because she is so short-sighted, she needed me to take her home. I drove through the heavy traffic and the heat in Alexandria and down to the Princes Highway. After finding a parking spot and dropping her off at her place I got back in the car and drove back to my place, handling the heavy traffic at Fig Street deftly - I'm used to these streets around my place now - and putting the car away in the cool garage without mishap.

After I got inside I poured myself a glass of wine and drank it while attending to social media. I only put up one tweet - to mention that I was having some wine - before I got up and headed to the bedroom and lay down to have a nap. A couple of hours later she sent me two messages, which woke me up, and I decided to get out of bed and get back to the computer. I had been feeling especially optimistic about being on social media this afternoon because of the heatwave we are having in the southeast of the continent, and felt that I could add some value to Twitter especially by tweeting some messages of encouragement to people out there in the community.

I had another glass of wine then sat down at the console. Someone on Facebook was posting about the weather, saying is was a "shite" day. My heart went out to them. I commented on their post. I think I am especially fortunate because I have built up some extra resistance to the heat because of living in southeast Queensland for so long - it was five-and-a-half years up there for me looking after mum. In fact my psychiatrist told me that living in hot climes can have this effect on you, that you develop more sweat glands than usual, and are therefore able to handle higher temperatures when they arise. Today is an exceptionally hot day, to be sure, but it's not especially difficult compared to how it used to get up in Maroochydore, where I lived from June 2009 until February 2015.

So I will keep an eye out for those who are struggling and try to give them some comfort on this day of high heat. Sydney will be the hardest hit metropolitan centre this time, with very high temperatures expected here over the next three days, and with temperatures finally coming down on Monday. If you want to talk about your situation, don't hesitate to get in touch; I'm available on Facebook Messenger as well as Twitter DM. Take care and be good. See you later on.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Grateful to live in a stable society

I got up late this morning and made some coffee, as usual, of which I drank two cups before going back to bed for about 25 minutes. But it was no good. I couldn't go back to sleep, and if you can't go to sleep what's the point of being alone in bed? So I got up and dressed, then went into the bathroom to get two prescriptions that my psychiatrist had filled out. I took a walk down to the pharmacy near Coles and enjoyed seeing people on the street.

There was the young woman walking her dog just up the street, and the crowds of people at the cafe in John Street Square having their lunch break sitting around tables and laughing and talking. There was the man in the hi-vis shirt going into the building that is still - after all these long months - being renovated. There was a workman threading cable down into a manhole cut into the pavement. There were three young women walking abreast up the street next to the cafe set into the casino, one of whom made way for me as we passed. I saw them all and reflected how lucky I am to live in a society where just going to the pharmacy - to buy subsidised medications that are completely affordable - is a routine part of life.

Here there is no scuttling from doorway to doorway to evade snipers perched on rooftops. There is nowhere the sound of bombs going off just down the street, turning neighbourhoods into piles of indistinguishable rubble. There are no tanks roving through the street machine-gunning people who must run out of the way. We might see from time to time a police car cruising at low speed down the street on the watch for trouble, but that is all. We are truly blessed to live in a country as devoted to peaceful pursuits as this one.

When I got back home I poured myself a glass of wine and sat down to write a blogpost. I thought about Fernando Pessoa writing his curious entries in his journal under the name Bernardo Soares, a "heteronym" he invented to express this aspect of his personality. Pessoa loved his city of Lisbon and was a great flaneur, walking around watching the people go past and cultivating an organic sense of the city in his fecund mind. I have been reading Pessoa since finishing the Karl Ove Knausgard series of autobiographical novels - I still miss lying down in the evening before going to sleep and reading his stories - because a dear friend of mine sent me his 'The Book of Disquiet'. And I have been enjoying it immensely. Knausgard is a hard act to follow, but Pessoa is up to the challenge, and keeps me entertained for the 30 minutes or so that I spend reading each evening in bed.