Saturday 16 August 2008


“Nostalgia is a seductive liar.” - George Wildman Ball

For Song Saturday today, a Greek song by singer/songwriter Dionyssis Savvopoulos, called “I Saw Anna Sometime Ago”.

I Saw Anna Sometime Ago

Quite unexpectedly,
I saw my childhood friend
Standing and looking at me.
In her eyes, there were
Broken statues, lost cities,
Sunken ships in the deep.

Noon was hot,
The blind was lowered,
And the staircase in the light-well.
The footsteps on the staircase
Fade away and then nobody’s there.
We’ll wander alone,
Through seas, cities,
Through deserted train stations.

All changes here, with a rush,
How can we poor humans
Understand it all?

Tell me, do you know who I’m talking about?
Anna is her name.
I see her descending,
Hesitating at the last step,
And then is forever lost
In the madding crowd.
Lai, la, la, la…

Είδα την Άννα Κάποτε

Την παιδική μου φίλη
Την είδα ξαφνικά
Να στέκει και να με κοιτά.
Αγάλματα κομμάτια
Στα μάτια της τα δυο,
Λησμονημένες πόλεις
Ναυάγια στο βυθό.

Ζεστό το μεσημέρι
Το στόρι χαμηλό
Κι η σκάλα στο φωταγωγό.
Σβήνουν τα βήματα στη σκάλα – κανείς.
Θα πλανηθούμε μοναχοί,
Θάλασσες, πόλεις, έρημοι σταθμοί.
Αλλάζουν όλα εδώ κάτω με ορμή
Τι να καταλάβουμε οι φτωχοί,
Τι να καταλάβουμε οι φτωχοί…

Για πες μου μήπως ξέρεις,
Γι αυτήν που σου μιλώ,
Άννα τ’ όνομα της το μικρό.
Την βλέπω κατεβαίνει
Στέκεται στο σκαλί,
Και χάνεται για πάντα
Στου κόσμου τη βουή.
Λα λα λα λα λα…

Thursday 14 August 2008


“Don't brood on what's past, but never forget it either.” - Thomas H. Raddall

This day was no less busy than yesterday, but a pleasant interlude was lunch in one of Melbourne’s oldest and greatest institutions, the Athenaeum Club. The “club” is an essentially English institution, based on an exclusive and rather protective coterie, whose membership was originally reserved for gentlemen. Clubs were created with ideas of common law, private property, independence of the subject and the social position of gentlemen, in mind. Being a social club and its values decidedly conservative, these institutes cultivate among its members a mutual understanding of what it means to be a gentleman - code of honour, dress, conduct, speech and good taste. In order to preserve the exclusive nature of the club, membership admission is contingent on an invitation from an already established member.

The first gentlemen’s clubs were established in the 18th century London, where friends gathered to read newspapers, gossip, discuss politics and play board games. Amidst rich comfort, these clubs offered their members an intimate venue where friendships could be formed and maintained in comfortable café like surroundings. From officers to politicians to merchants, the next generation of clubs attracted members from a wide spectrum of social standing. This progress reflected a broader social change; a widening of the middle classes in England. In Australia, clubs were established in all states, with Sydney (1838) and Melbourne (1839) leading the way.

Clubs are still alive and well in Britain and its once upon a time colonies and remain to this day a stalwart tradition, a conservative and rather nostalgic dinosaurian preserved under glass, but nevertheless an oasis of quietude and stability to all generations; almost like a second home to their members.

The Athenaeum Club of Collins Street was established in 1868, and remains one of Australia’s oldest and finest clubs. The Club is housed in a magnificent Victorian building, beautifully renovated and decorated, a perfect showpiece for its heritage and traditions. There are reading rooms, games rooms with billiards and snooker, a gym and luxurious accommodation. One of the worthiest offerings of the establishment is the feature of several distinctive bars and restaurants where one may enjoy a leisurely drink or fine food. The Club has a diverse programme of social, sporting and cultural functions for the entertainment and edification of its Members. The Athenaeum’s location, service, facilities and first-class dining support its well-deserved international reputation.

We entered the club (and of course there is a strict dress code with gentlemen needing to be attired in jackets and ties) and we were directed upstairs by the reception staff. The surroundings were elegant and restrained, the paintings beautifully displayed, the furniture and decoration opulent yet tasteful. Open fireplaces with cheery fires burning were most welcoming on this Melbourne winter’s day. We had a drink at the bar and then went down to lunch.

The dining room was resplendent in it s elegant simplicity and the staff courteous and discreet. We were pleased with the menu that offered a beautiful selection of food classic in its aspirations and yet not pretentious in its extent or its scope. At our table we chose King George whiting fillets battered and fried served with salad, blue eye fillet grilled and served with a salad, roast chicken on a bed of roast vegetables, black pudding with vegetables. It was accompanied by two bottles of excellent wine. The purpose of the lunch was of course a business discussion, convivial enough but also quite purposeful and which achieved much. All gentlemen present comported themselves with great aplomb and enjoyed a most civilised way to conduct what could otherwise have been a rather ordinary and rushed discussion.

Clubs may be a vestige of a vanishing species. One may accuse them of snobbery and an old-wordliness quite out of place in the fast moving and technologically challenging 21st century (did I mention that mobile phone use is barred from the public spaces of the Club?). One may view these institutions in Australia as a peculiarly outmoded remnant of British colonialism, however, I think that they represent a wonderfully rich heritage and tradition, and they are a rich, living, historical establishment.


“For the apparel oft proclaims the man.” – William Shakespeare (Hamlet)

Today was a very busy day at work with several important meetings and some interstate visitors. On days like today, time passes very quickly and although I get to do much, there are so many routine tasks left undone as there are so many other things out of the ordinary that take their place. As I was invited to a formal early dinner this evening I had to wear a dinner suit, so here for word Thursday, are some interesting words (especially etymologically speaking!) relating to men’s attire:

cummerbund |ˈkəmərˌbənd|noun
a sash worn around the waist, esp. as part of a man's evening clothes.
ORIGIN early 17th cent: from Urdu and Persian kamar-band, from kamar ‘waist, loins’ and -bandi ‘band.’ The sash was formerly worn in the Indian subcontinent by domestic workers and low-status office workers.

tuxedo |təkˈsēdō| noun ( pl. -dos or -does)
a man's dinner jacket.
• a suit of formal evening clothes including such a jacket.
tuxedoed adjective
ORIGIN late 19th cent: from Tuxedo Park, the site of a country club in New York, where it was first worn.

cravat |krəˈvat| noun
a short, wide strip of fabric worn by men around the neck and tucked inside an open-necked shirt.
• a necktie.
cravatted |krəˈvødəd| adjective
ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from French cravate, from Cravate ‘Croat’ (from German Krabat, from Serbo-Croat Hrvat), because of the scarf worn by Croatian mercenaries in France.

piqué |pēˈkā| noun
stiff fabric, typically cotton, woven in a strongly ribbed or raised pattern.
ORIGIN mid 19th cent: from French, literally ‘backstitched,’ past participle of piquer.

Pique front
A pique front shirt is a man's formal shirt normally worn with a white tie. It usually has a wing collar and a strip down the front of the shirt that is topped with a section of pique weaved cotton: a tight weave with small, interlocking strips of cotton. Normally, the strip of pique weaved cotton is wide enough to cover the chest and stomach, so that when the shirt is worn with a vest, only the pique section appears.

Wednesday 13 August 2008


“If Being Left Handed Is Wrong,
I Don't Want To Be Right!” – Anonymous

August 13th is International Left-Handers’ Day. This was an initiative of the Left-Handers’ Club which was formed in 1990 aiming to keep its members in touch with the left-handers’ world, make their views known to manufacturers and others, provide a help and advice line, to promote research into left-handedness and development of new left-handed items. Since its formation the Club has gone from strength to strength with members all over the world and is highly regarded as the foremost pressure group and advice centre on all aspects of left-handedness. On 13th August 1992 the Club launched International Left-Handers Day, an annual event when left-handers everywhere can celebrate their sinistrality and increase public awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed.

This event is now celebrated worldwide, and many events are organised to mark the day including left-v-right sports matches, a left-handed tea party, pubs using left-handed corkscrews where patrons drank and played pub games with the left hand only, and nationwide "Lefty Zones" where left-handers’ creativity, adaptability and sporting prowess were celebrated, whilst right-handers were encouraged to try out everyday left-handed objects to see just how awkward it can feel using the wrong equipment! These events have contributed more than anything else to the general awareness of the difficulties and frustrations left-handers experience in everyday life, and have successfully led to improved product design and greater consideration of our needs by the right-handed majority - although there is still a long way to go!

If you are left-handed then you are in very good company. Throughout history left-handers have excelled as leaders, sportsmen, artists, musicians and in many other fields. For example, here are a few famous lefties: Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rubens, Dufy, Escher, Fred Astaire, Pierce Brosnan, Robert De Niro, Rock Hudson, Faye Dunaway, Demi Moore, Oprah Winfrey, Lewis Carroll, James Michener, Mark Twain, Franz Kafka, HG Wells, Drew Carey, Harpo Marx, Jean-Paul Gaultier, CPE Bach, Enrico Caruso, David Bowie, Celine Dion, Bob Dylan, Natalie Cole, Annie Lennox, Cole Porter, Paul Simon, Tiny Tim, Uri Geller, Goethe, Tim Allen, Jeremy Beadle, Winton Marsalis, George Michael, Niccolo Paganini, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Sting, Schumann, Ravel, Beethoven, Glenn Gould, etc, etc…

The left hemisphere of the brain where the RIGHT hand receives its instructions controls Speech, Language, Writing, Logic, Mathematics, Science - this is the linear thinking mode. The right hemisphere giving instructions to the LEFT hand, controls Music, Art, Creativity, Perception, Emotions, Genius, this is the holistic thinking mode. So I guess you can say left-handed people are in their right mind!

No-one has come up with a definitive reason for WHY some people are left-handed, but about 13% of the population around the world are, and it is thought to be genetic - it definitely runs in families. Researchers have recently located a gene they believe "makes it possible to have a left-handed child " so if you have that gene, one or more of your children may be left-handed, whereas without it, you will only have right-handers. Stuttering and dyslexia occur more often in left-handers (particularly if they are forced to change their writing hand as a child, like King of England George VI).

So in honour of the oft forgotten and maligned brethren of the left handed persuasion, I have composed this little ditty especially for today!

Ode to the Left Handed

Oh, much maligned appendage,
Dubbed of unkind aspect, sinister.
Amongst all of the limbs assemblage,
The one that’s said to be the evil minister.

Oh, you dejected and despiséd member,
You are in so many of our species dominant!
But always we should all remember,
In such people there is talent prominent.

Left handers are in their mind so right,
And even if they are sinistrally inclined,
Sinister not, and much is their might;
(Even if non-dexterity is so maligned).

Rejoice you band of molly-dookers,
Today is your day of celebration;
Fire up your nifty left-hand cookers
And concoct a cake of sinistral elation.

Enjoy your own peculiar modality,
Display without fear your laterality.
Left handedness is to be lauded, fêted,
Your gift from providence no longer hated.

However, it’s not all art and creativity, fun and games being left-handed - right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people…

Tuesday 12 August 2008


“Age does not protect you from love, but love to some extent protects you from age.” - Jeanne Moreau

Today is the United Nations International Youth Day. The General Assembly on 17 December 1999 in its resolution 54/120, endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12th August be declared International Youth Day. The Assembly recommended that public information activities be organised to support the Day as a way to promote better awareness of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, adopted by the General Assembly in 1995 (resolution 50/81). International Youth Day gives the world an opportunity to recognise the potential of youth, to celebrate their achievements, and plan for ways to better engage young people to successfully take action in the development of their societies. It presents a unique opportunity for all stakeholders to rally together to ensure that young people are included in decision-making at all levels.

This year, Youth Day is devoted to the theme: “Youth and Climate Change – Time for Action”. A major focus of the Day is practical action to further encourage the empowerment and participation of youth in the processes and decisions that affect their lives. The media have especially important role to play in support of the observance of the Day to promote public awareness of youth issues.

The deterioration of the natural environment is one of the principal concerns of young people worldwide as it has direct implications for their well-being for both now and in the future. The natural environment must be maintained and preserved for both present and future generations. The causes of environmental degradation must be addressed. The environmentally friendly use of natural resources and environmentally sustainable economic growth will improve human life. Sustainable development has become a key element in the programmes of youth organisations throughout the world. While every segment of society is responsible for maintaining the environmental integrity of the community, young people have a special interest in maintaining a healthy environment because they will be the ones to inherit it.

Youth symbolises vitality and good health. It comes with energy and vigour and transcends all nationalities and borders while uniting young members of the world’s society in a single bond. International Youth Day is the perfect tribute to the contributions youth make to improve health in the developing world and health of the environment. Healthy people living in a healthy environment is something we all must aim towards.

Sunday 10 August 2008


“A star on a movie set is like a time bomb. That bomb has got to be defused so people can approach it without fear.” - 
Jack Nicholson

At the weekend we watched Agnès Jaoui’s 2004 film “Comme une Image” (“Like a Picture”, or to give it its English title: “Look at Me”). The film was co-written by the talented Ms Jaoui, who also has one of the lead roles in this interesting French film. One of the other leads Jean-Pierre Bacri is her co-writer and the tension in the film is maintained admirably by these two actors, even though it is very much an ensemble piece and a complex character study. The film received a prize for its script in the Cannes film festival.

Bacri plays the villain in this film, an utterly detestable and egotistical man, Monsieur Cassard, who is a famous and successful novelist and publisher. Cassard has a daughter from a previous marriage, the 20-year-old Lolita (Marilou Berry), who is a plump woman with a good voice. Lolita has tried to become an actress (unsuccessfully) and is now taking singing lessons, wishing to become a classical singer. To this end she is helped by Sylvia, a singing teacher (played by Jaoui), who is married to an up-and-coming but insecure writer, Pierre. The other player in the drama is Cassard’s young new wife, the slim and attractive Karine, who loves him and has given him a young daughter.

The film is essentially the story about the seriously flawed father-daughter relationship between Cassard and Lolita, with various sub-themes, all relating to Cassard’s interaction with others in his circle, and his poisonous, malign influence on everyone he interacts with. Pierre, who approaches him through the efforts of Sylvia (via Lolita), becomes rotten too. As the world seems to be falling around Lolita (who thinks she is being used by all as a means to get to her father – including her boyfriend), she meets a young man, Sébastien, who seems to be the only innocent and pure person in the film, someone not motivated by selfishness, and without a secret agenda.

The film has gentle humour, drama, much witty conversation, and situations that make the viewer feel uncomfortable, moved, irritated, sympathetic, tense, perplexed all in quick succession. The themes explored include family relationships, body image, trust, egotism, discrimination, assertiveness and of course, love. An enjoyable movie, although a little on the cerebral side…


“All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

A single painting for Art Sunday, today. It is by Australian artist, Doug Sealy. He was born in 1937 in the Australian outback town of West Wyalong in central New South Wales. He recounts how he always wanted to become an artist, something he realised from a very early age. As he was growing up he didn’t know how to make his dream come true. While his father was away at war, he discussed it with his mother but art was not on the curriculum for boys in New South Wales at that time. There were no art classes available and even artists’ paints were not for sale in his town. He used to walk an extra mile on top of the six he had to walk to school in order to admire some paintings in hotel verandahs, but he felt that it was worth it.

Over the next 12 years, he picked up bits and pieces of information from correspondence courses and tried to produce pictures himself. He then had the good luck to meet established artist Reg Campbell who was exhibiting some of his paintings in a Department Store in the nearby regional centre of Forbes. The exhibition was a dream come true of young Sealy and he began an acquaintance with Campbell, which was to become that of Master and Student and finally that of a 33-year friendship.

Sealy has held many successful exhibitions and has been teacher, judge and art critic. He has won many awards, many of his paintings hang in renowned museums, as well as in private and corporate collections.

This is a very Australian painting in the tradition of the 19th century impressionists of the Australian Heidelberg School. It is called “High Country Gums, Razorback, Sofala” and is 66 by 91 cm.