Monday, December 30, 2013

Mr Careless

We are now doing our biggest ever deep-down house clean. We are just two days away from heading off to Perth for a 19-day house swap. Strangers will be living in our house, so of course the back of the TV needs to be dust free and the stray fluff removed from the 3rd drawer down in the back bedroom linen cupboard. Etcetera. Crumb tray of the toaster? Check. Springs on the trampoline? Polished.

Yesterday I was a bit over-zealous about cleaning down the sides of the snugly fitted-in gas stove. I rocked it forward, and saw a flexible hose, which I guessed was the gas line. I slid it towards me a little and ... smelt gas. I had broken or dislodged something. The flexible hose was the exhaust outlet, while the gas comes in via a rigid copper pipe. GAH! I must have been studying cloud formations when the ironclad rule NEVER MOVE A GAS STOVE was announced. I have been living with this one for 6 years, but only now had I felt the cleaning urge to the point that I was moved to move it.

So today we had a visit from a very nice gasfitter named Ben. He was polite, thorough and tidied up after. I heartily recommend him. People who know Tasmanian footy might know him as a stalwart defender for years for the Glenorchy Magpies. A safe pair of hands with the gas appliances or bringing the ball out of the back half.

His name? Careless, Ben Careless.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Kentucky governors

I am by now well-established as a world authority on US state governors. I think it’s time to mention a couple of Kentucky’s finest.

Gabriel Slaughter
Lazarus W. Powell
Ruby Laffoon
Happy Chandler who defeated Republican nominee King Swope, and won a 2nd term in 1955 with the slogan “Be like your Pappy and vote for Happy”.

I'd also like to squeeze in a special mention for another Kentucky politician, Marvel Mills Logan.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Highs and lows and a surprise trip to the sub-tropics

Thursday was one of the most emotional days I have had for a long time. It was Marcus’ last day of Primary school, and I was expecting to have a bit of a quiet blub at the end of the final assembly. Turned out the blubbing happened a bit later on.

This year there was a certificate assembly a few days before the final one, to get a lot of the long lists of names and lengthy ovations out of the way. Marcus and Michael both raked in a great deal of certification for maths, science, spelling, chess and so on, to the extent that the principal said “they won’t need wallpaper at the Rees house”. She’s not given to jokes so by her standards that was a ripper.

Now to the final assembly. The senior marimba group were divided against themselves and struggled to agree on a tempo. As ever the junior marimbas showed them up. The brass ensemble were very bad, sure, but possibly not as bad as last year. The best thing musically was during the getting-settled period right at the start, when small girls took turns to sit at the piano and play a variety of things from memory, as we all filed in. It was lovely and refreshingly competent.

Each grade had one or two Teacher’s Prize winners. After one of the grade 1 or grade 2 winners were announced a mum behind me blurted “Jesus!”

Most subject areas had a prize, and there were others for environmental awareness, social justice etc. Elf was quietly disappointed that Marcus didn’t win the PE prize, as he has been a bit of an all-round star and is famous for his fairness and encouragement of others. No good at swimming though.

Michael was called up and won the ICAS gold medal for outstanding performance in the international maths competition. While he was up he also received a book voucher from Rotary, a prize for all round academic excellence. He was very happy and fairly gracious - there were no fist pumpings or brief mime performances as we have seen in past years. He’s just a lot less self-conscious.

Then Marcus was called up to get the same gold medal as Michael - amazingly the fourth year running he has won one. The first time in 2010 we were all told how rare these medals are, but it doesn’t seem that way now. He also won the same Rotary prize as Michael (I believe they spent their $50 gift vouchers yesterday). (And while I am doing asides, I just passed through a train station named Fassifern).

Marcus was asked to stay standing, as he had also won the ICAS gold medal in Science. Then, as it is apparently outrageously rare for one kid to win two medals in one year, he was presented with a special plaque in honour of his two medals.

Next, he was given a trophy and certificate for his effort in the Maths Olympiad, where he got 24 out of 25. Then came a special framed testimonial the school had put together listing his five medals and various other academic gongs he has won over the last four or five years.

We were all completely agog by this stage. We had got the nod that there would be some awards but the sheer number of dignitaries and teachers all standing beside Marcus at this point was staggering. He was a little stunned. Each time the principal said “but stay there, Marcus...” the crowd gave a little gasp, mixed with a cheer and a good-natured mock-moan.

Finally, a vice principal from Taroona High was called up, and she presented Marcus with a bursary towards next year’s school costs. This has never been awarded before, but they are giving onset at each of the five or six feeder primary schools.

So about fifteen minutes of the final assembly was all about Marcus. Soon they moved on to the a farewell to the leavers, this year it was done as a series of short filmed statements from the kids projected on the big screen. Then they went out to ... Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. So no chance of a good cathartic cry with that. They really need to consider Bohemian Rhapsody or The Rose by Bette Midler or something by Johnny Cash or Edith Piaf.

The local paper had sent a photographer, and he arranged Marcus and all his loot then took about 200 photos. (The article was terrific). Finally he was allowed to go, and I went off with Elf and Mum and Dad to have lunch at a cafe near the school and digest everything that had just happened. 

Now, important background to this bit is that my brother-in-law in NSW has been suffering from leukaemia for a couple of years, and has been going downhill. The news had been generally poor and we didn’t expect him to live very long, maybe two or three weeks. On Wednesday we got some good news, that an operation to put a stent in his throat had gone very well, and he would be heading home from hospital. During lunch I sent a ‘hooray’ text to my sister Jacki, but then got a very sobering reply that things had suddenly changed, he now had only days to go and may not survive to Christmas.

I went out and called Jacki and got the details, had a bit of a weep and went back in to break the news to the happy and celebrating family. This is not something I have a lot of experience with. My mum has been the news source and the link between us and Jacki and Tim. 

Elf and I and the boys are going to Perth for three weeks from Jan 1, and suddenly I had to think about going to a funeral. Jacki and Tim live at Smiths Lake, two hours drive north of Newcastle. Getting there from Tasmania is a complicated business. And not knowing when you need to go, it is very hard to plan.

I am usually guided by my mum and dad as to what is the right thing to do in family dramas, but I thought this one I had to work out for myself. So I decided to go and see Tim while I could, right away. And Mum, Dad and my younger sister Sally decided to come too.

I had a meeting on Friday so we made it Saturday. Less than two days after we got the news of Tim’s downturn, we were in Sydney on our way up. I had booked a car in Newcastle but after walking to Budget from the train station in the baking heat, I found they had closed a couple of hours earlier. (Fortunately I did not buy the 2kg of prawns I was tempted by on the way).

I found a cab, went back to the station and collected everyone, and thankfully Sal found another car hire firm on the phone who were just closing but would wait for us to get there. So huge thanks to Thrifty Newcastle and also to Harry the cab driver.

When we finally got to Smiths Lake in time for dinner, the news was good. Tim had held court on the front verandah all day, was feeling better and had just gone for a rest. He got up and met us at about 9, and I think we we all relieved to see him able to walk with a stick, have a conversation, and still his old self inside. He is self-administering morphine but doesn’t need it so much that he’s away with the fairies.

So, we spent the evening and yesterday, and a brief time this morning, just enjoying each other’s company, telling stories again that we have mostly heard before, getting drinks and pillows for Tim, and mostly doing all the usual weekend-at-the-shack things people do. His drama on Thursday was the result of a bowel obstruction which seems to have sorted itself out, and he is confident of being around for Christmas. We will do a family skype and try to keep talking every day or two so we are in touch with what’s happening.

Tim is really looking forward to the Boxing Day test on TV too, just propping in front of it with his family and mates around him.

We took the car back to Newcastle this morning, and we are currently on the train back to Sydney. Tonight before the kids go to bed I should be back home. There were no tears or deathbed confessions, not too much deep analysis of what it’s all about - that would be out of character for Tim and for us too. There were a lot of shared beers, laughs and plenty of hours of just quietly sitting together on the verandah while the cicadas shrieked.


I am very thankful we got the chance to do that.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

The Jellies in town

Today we had a visit from fellow blogger and Richmond Tigers man Dugald Jellie of Tiger Tiger Burning Bright, and his lovely family Clare, Alistair (Ali) and baby Marcus. I got to know Dugald over the interwebs through the 2013 season, and enjoyed his writing very much. His passionate and thoughtful writing was always supportive, win or lose, and articulated the feelings of the regular folks in the outer. He did not have any special access to the players, and made a point of respecting their privacy, but at the same time he was able to get insights into what makes them tick, and their relationships with one another.

Dugald was actually at Presentation Night #2 but although I thought I covered the room pretty thoroughly, I didn’t track him down. He had long planned this visit to Tasmania with his family, so at last we had a chance to meet. His main purpose in visiting Hobart was catching up with VFL legend Brent Crosswell. 

“Tiger” Crosswell played in nine VFL Grand Finals, winning two each with Carlton and North Melbourne. He was a unique character in footy, quite the intellectual. And he was Dugald’s geography teacher! He suffers from Meniere’s Disease these days, and is quite reclusive. I understand that Dugald had a few ups and downs trying to get a visit organised, but it did finally happen the day before we met, and was a great success. I am sure Dugald will write about it in time.

When they arrived, Ali (who is 3) made a beeline for the boys’ corner, and was very happy there playing with our Marcus and with Michael. We have regular 3-year-old visitors in Finton and Arthur, and still have plenty of cars, trucks, blocks etc that a knee-high person usually enjoys. Marcus Jellie is a very well-adjusted baby, who seemed to spend most of the visit just beaming and chuckling.

Elf made a highly-praised flourless orange cake, and we all got on like a house on fire. Clare works as a historian at Monash Uni where she specialises in Black American history between the wars; the Cotton Club in Harlem and the like. I am very interested in American history. After the bicentennial in 1976 I was completely sick of Paul Revere and George Washington (who popped up in everything from the Brady Bunch to Archie comics) and generally felt like American history was something to avoid. Whereas I am now addicted to a podcast on the Civil War, and one of my favourite authors is Sarah Vowell who writes popular American histories such as Assassination Vacation.

Dugald and I talked about all sorts of things including but not limited to footy. We ran through the footy cards and discussed one of my favourite aspects; the mechanics of taking the photos, which I have rabbited on about enough here.

When it was time to move on to their next engagement, lunch at Snug, we all looked over and Ali was horizontal on the floor, drowsily driving a truck back and forth. When roused he said “But I haven’t played with this car, and this car. And I haven’t played outside!” So we took them out for a bit of a bounce on the trampoline before we waved them goodbye.


Dugald in his TTBB outfit. I love his typography.

South Hobart go to the Chess Nationals

Marcus and I had a couple of days in Melbourne with the school chess team, at the National Schools Chess Championships. The team was Marcus, Fergus, Joe and Tom. The Ed Dept rules say that all interstate school excursions must be accompanied by a teacher, so the principal Cathy Franz decided to come with us. She reasoned that she could do a lot of her work remotely, unlike class teachers. Cathy actually paid her own way to Melbourne as well as personally donating to help cover the families' costs. Our former principal Greg Turner also donated.

Cathy picked up Marcus and I and then Fergus at 4.30am. Joe's dad Andrew dropped Joe and Tom off at the airport shortly after we arrived. All aboard with no problems. I sat with the Grade 4s Ferg & Tom, who played iPhone games. Cathy sat behind with the Grade 6s Joe and Marcus, who had a couple of games on the magnetic chess board as we crossed Bass Strait.

Last time I was at Tullamarine I waited half an hour for a cab, but we had no trouble getting a taxi van to Queens College, our home for the next 2 days. A nice fella named Ross intercepted us on our way in and showed us the ropes. Magnetic keys etc. Rooms were small but fine, with very high ceilings. The college is quite fetching, castellated buildings in classic Oxbridge style. Our rooms were just a short walk across the quad from the dining hall which was also the competition venue.




We had a bit of settling in time, then Day 1 of the tournament kicked off. The day panned out like this;
  • Marcus: win loss win win
  • Tom; loss loss loss win
  • Joe: loss win loss loss
  • Fergus: loss win loss win
Tom’s third game was one he should have had no trouble with - but he was very tired and a bit headachey. He had a panadol and came out very well in his 4th game. After winning his first game, Marcus was sent to the Nº 1 table to play the top seed, Kris Chan. He aimed to hang on for 20 moves and just managed it. (Marcus is rated about 940 and Kris about 1550).

Joe and Fergus (both mid 600s) lost a couple of games against high 800 rated players. Considering our early start to the day, it was great to finish off strongly with three wins from the four final round games. In all we scored 7 points from a possible 16 and were placed 17th of 23 schools at the end of the day. Our boys were all hoping to get at least one win in the tournament, and they had all achieved that by the end of Day 1.

Cathy paid for a wristband to have access to the "VIP Suite", where one-on-one coaching and seminars were offered. Marcus went through his games with a coach; later Joe took the wristband and listened in to some seminars on strategy and tactics.

We had penne bolognaise for dinner, floppy penne but good chunky sauce - needed black pepper though. Boys all seem happy with the food, apparently it is superior to that dished up on the recent Canberra trip. After dinner we just took a walk around the University area, then put everyone to bed by 8.30. The boys each had their own room; we considered pairing them up with mattresses on the floor but they were all content to be on their own. Neither Cathy or I heard a peep all night.

Day 2 of competition turned out to be very tough. Tom improved on his Day 1 effort, getting a win and a draw. The other boys only mustered two draws between them, for a return of 2.5 points from a possible 12. We slipped to finish 22nd - which was disappointing after such a good Day 1, but reflected our position as equal 5th in Tasmania. The boys were not downhearted and showed excellent sportsmanship.

We walked them down to Lygon Street for ice-cream, and a visit to Readings bookshop, which was our only off-campus excursion of the two days. On the way we talked about the differences between Carlton and South Hobart – I think the preference was for South Hobart. When we got back to Queens it was time to head to the airport. Although worn out, the team were well behaved and I was proud to be out in public with them.

It was a great experience for the boys and hopefully will have good spin-off effects on the rest of the school as well. Thanks to the parents, the School Association, staff and students and especially Greg Turner, Cathy Franz and school business officer Bev Thomas for supporting our trip.

Friday, November 08, 2013

New Rees Design website

Hey there internet friends. I have a new website for my professional activities – graphic and interactive design, motion graphics, illustration and the t-shirt biz. Why not pop over and have a look, tell your friends, and if you have any feedback I’d love to hear it.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Readers

All four of us are pretty constant readers. We all read at breakfast, occasionally at lunch and once in a while someone asks "Can this be a reading dinner?" and we even read through that.

I have three history books on the go at the moment. Suspect History by Humphrey McQueen is a defence of historian Manning Clark. It’s actually a bit of a giggle because it deals with a time not that long ago when Australian academics were deeply and seriously ideological, and accusations flew around of this one or that one being in the pay of the KGB or CIA. The whole book is essentially dealing with an allegation that Clark once wore an Order of Lenin medal to a party.

The heaviest is Civilization by Niall Ferguson. A study of the big question, why did Western civilisation win out so completely after 1412? Jared Diamond puts it down to things like Eurasia’s fortune in having useful indigenous grasses and mammals. Ferg thinks northern Europeans were just better at organising, and his six ‘killer applications’ include property rights and the work ethic. Good book but I really hate his attempt at co-opting IT jargon to make his book seem funky and with-it.

The other book is Curtin’s Gift by John Edwards. Turns out that we have been lauding John Curtin (Australian wartime Prime Minister) for the wrong things all this time. Edwards says that many of his wartime achievements are over-estimated and misunderstood, whereas what he really did was set-up Australia’s postwar success. Conventional wisdom says he brought Australian troops back from the Middle East to defend the homeland against Churchill’s wishes, and moved Australia into the US orbit by inviting MacArthur to take command of all forces in the Pacific. Edwards says Churchill suggested the first and was a supporter of the second. The really big achievements are all in economic policy such as getting control of the banks, taking income taxation rights away from the states, and establishing full employment as government policy. “His enduring achievement was not saving Australia from Japan but in creating modern, postwar Australia.” 

With the nation at war, he was in a position to ring the changes with minimal interference, as all of these reforms were declared to be essential for the war effort. Even so, he was a masterful manipulator of his party and the parliament, especially considering he was leading a minority government from 1941 to 1943. He died in office just six weeks before victory over Japan.

This morning when I got up to the breakfast table, my Curtin book had an extra bookmark in it. I was astonished that Elf has been reading it (she loathes politics) but it turned out that it was Marcus! I said he had probably found it boring, but he said in fact he had read the first dozen or so pages and thought it was OK. He and Michael are addicts of the Horrible History books and TV series, so they have absorbed a lot of background knowledge that gives them a leg up when they are consuming history in a less fun-packed format.

So yeah - 11 Year Old Reads Serious History Book Shock. Oh, and Marcus thinks John Curtin looks like Kochie off Sunrise.



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tasmanian Interschool Chess Finals

We went up Launceston last Monday for the State chess finals.Our team was Marcus, Tom, Fergus, Joe and Izzy. None of the other parents could make it, so Elf came along to share the driving and supervising/encouraging duties. And that meant Michael had to come along too, and he fell into his accustomed low-key support role combined with some puppety bouncing around. The school paid for us to hire a people-mover for the day, which was really good of them.

We started brilliantly. Our captain Marcus won his first 4 games, and everyone had some points after round 4 (one point for a win, half for a draw). Our newest player Izzy had 2 wins, and some of the boys started to get nervous they might miss out on medals. Team score is based on your 4 highest scorers, and if the team places, only those 4 get the medals - always a tricky situation. The team as a whole were doing so well that medal allocation seemed like a problem we may well be dealing with by the end of the day.

Marcus was still unbeaten after 6 games and in equal 3rd. His 6th game was a superb win against a quality player rated well above Marcus. Marcus knew the other boy sometimes ran into time problems (each player has a 15 minute limit) and so he just kept setting up awkward situations where his opponent had to spend time deciding what to do. One rushed poor decision put him into an unwinnable position, and he resigned.

Meanwhile Joe who had a slow start was winning and not worrying so much about medals. Izzy plateau'd after her early success then won, and won again. Fergus had 5 points after 7 rounds and looked like a million dollars. Tom won his first 2 then lost 4 on the trot, and was starting to think about missing medals again.

At one point the team were equal-3rd. In the run home Marcus lost two in a row. He felt they were opponents he should have beaten, but he didn't make mistakes - he was just outplayed. Joe ended up winning his last five straight! Tom bounced back and won his last three. The sky had seemed the limit for Fergus but he lost his last 2 matches. The scores we finished with were Marcus and Joe 6.5, Fergus 5, Tom 5 and Izzy 4.

We were a little disappointed to have slipped in the placings - at some stage I think each of us had started to dream of getting a podium finish. As we sat and waited for the tallying to be completed, Marcus was a little emotional. Michael made us very proud by comforting him, and said quietly to Elf "I think when you are very good at something it must be hard when you don't do so well".

We finished in equal 5th, but 6th on countback. As the top 5 qualify for an invitation to the National Interschool Finals, I thought we had just missed out. Some of the kids thought it was announced that we had qualified, but when nothing came in the email during the subsequent week I told everyone that I didn't think so. And in fact I was a bit relieved because I (and I'm sure some other parents) didn't fancy finding money for flights and accommodation at short notice.

Then to my surprise, an email came yesterday, 8 days after the finals, with some details about the Nationals - which are in just 4 short weeks. I got in touch to clarify, and it turned out that if teams are equal 5th, they are all invited and countback is ignored. So we were in! I dutifully emailed the school and said I was prepared to go with the team, but we had better get fundraising pronto if we are going to get a team over there. I imagined parents thinking, like me, that it's lovely to earn an invitation but it's just money we don't have to spare.

Lo and behold the school, the school association and our sensational ex-principal have all today said they are so delighted the school chess team has achieved this, that they are going to contribute what's required to get us over there. There may have been school sports teams travel interstate before during our 8 year-long involvement, but I can't actually remember any. This is quite a big deal, and I am blown away that everyone is recognising that.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Backyard cricket season 2013-14 commences

I just vanquished a very old and stubborn blackberry plant. Finally got out the huge root ball after years of giving up and chopping the vine off somewhere above. To celebrate, Marcus and I had a quick backyard test match on the deck.

He is 11 now, quite big, and there is officially no longer any such thing as "bowling too fast" at him. In any case the stiffness in my shoulder doesn’t really let me whip my arm over the way I once would have. Michael was hopping around like a sparrow as our sole fielder - with no interest in personally batting or bowling (or catching) he was more of a dedicated fetcher and general pep-merchant.

I batted first and made a solid start, bapping the tennis ball back past the bowler (hollow plastic bat) for a couple of lovely straight driven 4s. Then I was caught at silly mid on by the wheelie bin for 11. Marcus took time to find the right line as my wily variations came at him from anywhere. Then I slipped in a slowie and he spooned it back to me, for 2.

We played 4 innings each. As I went in for my last bat I led by 16 and stated my intention to bat until sundown. I was out caught behind (by the railings) 2nd ball, wafting at one well outside the corridor of uncertainty, that I should have left alone.

Marcus came in chasing 17 to win, and carted me into (but not over) the back fence for 5. Then I gave him a half volley and he lifted it over my head into the neighbours yard for the classic 6-and-out. So a satisfying win for the Goodies Generation, as we now move to the 2nd Test.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Big questions, bad timing

I was trying to explain to someone the other day how kids will always ask a huge question just at the worst possible time. I made up a crummy example on the spot. But a true classic example came along this morning.

SCENE: I am reading while finishing my breakfast, but nagged by two things. One, a dog, who also wants breakfast. Two - which I don’t even realise until I am organising dog and cat food, is that I am busting to go to the toilet.

MY INNER MONOLOGUE: Just need to get this meat in the bowl, OK, now, the biscuits, OK, I’ll run hot water into the mucky dog food tin, OK, put the bowls down, nearly there, just put away the cat food ... 

MARCUS: Dad - what is communism?

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Gapless

I put a bunch of Ian Rankin short stories on Marcus’s iPod to listen to while I mowed the lawn. But thanks to ‘gapless playback’ it smoothly fades the start of the next story in over the end of the previous one. 

"So in fact Inspector it turns out that the murdere ... Mrs Phipps fed the cat and took out the garbage. It was a lovely day..."

Monday, September 30, 2013

Tall ships


I had a meeting up in Forest Rd, West Hobart the other day. As I was getting out of the car I noticed sails on the river - arriving for the Tall Ships Festival. Exactly one week later I was back in Forest Rd for another meeting, and there they were again - going upriver to salute the Governor at Queens Domain before doing a u-turn and heading out again, on their way to Sydney for the celebration of the navy’s centenary. Elf and I and the boys did go to have a close up look at them while they were in port, but I didn’t take the camera. So I have pinched the pic below from Leigh Winburn © The Mercury. (Probably a little better than I would have taken myself).


Hometown

A few weeks ago we spent a weekend in and around Burnie, my old home town. Since Mum and Dad left there in about 2002, I have only passed through it on rare occasions and never stayed. Marcus and his Central U/11s were invited to a new regional tournament there, so we drove up on Friday, stayed in Burnie that night and went out to the country district of F to stay with Mr and Mrs X and their lovely girls Y and Z on Saturday and Sunday nights.

I left Burnie at 17 to come to Hobart and study, and fell in love with this small city squeezed between the river and the mountain. It’s hard to appreciate the unique qualities of your home town when you are a kid. I didn’t ever feel like I was giving up very much by leaving. My friends were all headed for Hobart, Melbourne or somewhere else as soon as they could get there, and I had pretty much written everyone else off. I knew practically nothing of Hobart (my relatives were all in Launceston or Sydney), and I really thought it was beautiful and better.

It was scorching hot when I arrived, there was beer flowing everywhere and smart people saying smart things. Everyone in Hobart seemed beautiful, fit, clever and switched-on. Winter came and there was snow on the mountain, then suddenly snow on everything - right down to the waterline. Hobart was blanketed with it. It was so exciting and different from Burnie, where you would get a cold wind and up-country you might get a nasty frost, but no snow. (In fact it has never again snowed in Hobart like it did that day in 1986).

Burnie now is a post-industrial city. Last time we were there I blogged about its attempts to eke tourism gold from the grimy past. The drive in from the east used to take you past Tioxide paint factory, a huge quarry that had eaten away the base of Round Hill, the Acid Plant and the Pulp Mill. The water was often brick red from the effluent and the smell of ‘The Pulp’ was unsettlingly meaty. The Pulp is now in the last throes of dismantlement, the Acid Plant has been gone twenty years, and the site of Tioxide is gradually returning to bush.

Burnie’s setting is actually very beautiful. It sits on a broad bay, and spreads over the steep hills set a little back from the coastline. From down there looking up it has a bit of a Greek village vibe. (Although I have never seen a Greek village, to be honest). Little houses and big ones, brick and weatherboard, clinging to ridiculous steep hills. From up on the hill in Montello, where the soccer tournament was played, there is a panoramic view of the verdant farmland all around Burnie, and the coast from Table Cape around to Round Hill. And the dominating feature (for someone from Hobart) is the horizon.


View Larger Map
South East Tasmania is all fractured isthmuses, peninsulas, islands, estuaries and harbours. There are spots where you see water in front of you, then land, beyond that water, beyond that land, etc etc. But up around Burnie there is just Bass Strait. Somewhere out over the horizon is Victoria. Every five or so miles along the coast there is another river, but they just run out to sea, south to north: BAM, no fiddling around. Inglis, Cam, Emu, Blythe, Leven, Forth, Don, Mersey.

Downtown, practically everything is different from when I was little. As I have written before, the site of the hospital where I was born is now a Harvey Norman, and my old primary school was demolished for another Harvey which is now a Target. One little vestige remains, though. I took the family over to see where we used to line up for the buses - on the fence the names of the districts are still visible, written vertically down the palings. We used to go home on the Waterfall bus, which in fact went past a small but perfectly legitimate waterfall.

Unlike the middle of town, in the burbs not a thing has changed. Driving through Montello I felt like it was 1985. Look at this spot - you have to love the yellow house with the matching mini-me letterbox.



I’ll just leave you with one more. I grew up just beside Marist College and used to roam the grounds on weekends and through summer as though it was my personal territory. I had a few favourite spots to sit and muse, looking out over the empty fields and Bass Strait. Join teenage-me for a few moments and enjoy the view, with not another soul in sight, just the way I like it.


Melbourne Victory 2 d Western Sydney Wanderers 0

Yesterday we all went down to Kingston to see the biggest soccer match to come to town for a long time. I had been tempted by it, but decided not to go since it would mean having nearly the whole weekend wiped out for watching sport (since the previous day was dedicated to the AFL Grand Final).

Then Marcus came home from school with a ticket, and Elf announced she was very keen to go, so we did. Marcus’s mate EJ came too. We packed raincoats and jumpers, and I threw in my thermal top and even mittens. We were going early to see the curtain raiser (Tasmania v Melbourne Victory juniors) so I wanted to be ready for any weather that might crop up, sitting on a hill for five or so hours.

The early game was a pretty good standard. The “Tasmanian” team was 90% drawn from South Hobart soccer club, and coached by the notorious Ken Morton of the eponymous Soccer School. The well-informed crowd were un-ironically yelling “Go South Hobart”, as apart from the strip they wore it was very much the team they see from week to week playing at Darcy Street. Melbourne scored first, but Tassie responded with a beautiful goal shortly after. Then, um, Melbourne scored six more goals at regular intervals.

It was in fact very warm, which was great. We were sitting on a steep grassy bank, pretty damp, so were able to build ourselves little wedges to sit on, out of jumpers. Luckily we had a groundsheet and a rug, but like a lot others we found that "waterproof" is a relative term. I had never been to this new venue, the Twin Ovals, before. The top ground that was being used was just immaculate - I have never seen a surface like it. You could play international hockey on it, it was that smooth.

The main sponsor for the day was PFD Foodservices - I don't actually know anything about them. But seeing the words PFD plastered everywhere, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one thinking about lifejackets more than usual. I expect there’ll be a bit of a sales bump out of it.'

The teams came out for the main game, holding hands with local junior players, like you see on TV before Champions League games. A lovely idea. Except on TV the kids are 5 or 6. The Wanderers came out with a team of littlies from Kingborough Lions, all good. But Melbourne came out holding hands with what looked like an under 14 girls team. Each player holding hands with an underage girl - awkward.

Poor planning was shown up at the next stage of the ceremony, when the Wanderers left their kids and filed past the Melbourne players shaking hands or fist bumping with each one as they went past. Normally this all happens over the heads of the tiny mascots, but in this case there was a lot of awkward bobbing and weaving required by the inconveniently tall girls. Hilarious.

As soon as the game started it was clear this was a very different standard. The pace and intensity was terrific. Unfortunately we’d lost the kids by this stage - had to keep dragging their attention back to the game and away from the touchscreen. Michael was (as usual) terrific at the soccer despite his complete lack of interest in the game. Elf really enjoyed the games and the whole day.

Melbourne were the better team on the day, scoring one in each half. They have put a lot of money into soccer in Tasmania so they were the “home” team, and we were pleased they won, but we were hoping the Wanderers would get one back at the end. They had a good cohort of loudly chanting travelling supporters who we thought deserved something.

So we had a good day out and left with a good feeling about the impending A-league season. I’m delighted that its going to be on free-to-air TV on Friday nights starting in October. Not only will I and millions of non-pay-TV people get to see it, but its a sure sign that soccer has taken another step up into the mainstream of Australian sport.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Our valley


I had a meeting at a friend’s place in Forest Road yesterday, and as I was running a bit early I took the chance to take this photo of our house from the new subdivision up the top of the hill. We are very lucky to live in this green and beautiful spot.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Versus

For years now I have heard kids use the word "versus" as though it is the present tense of the imaginary verb "to verse", meaning to oppose, to play against, to match up with, to combat.

As we set off to Saturday morning soccer I am asked "Who are we versing?" When I tell Marcus that Richmond had a big win he asks "Who did they verse?" I have probably used it myself when responding to the under-11s, just to save time and explanations to a probably unreceptive crowd.

This new word has now made its debut in the newspapers. At the least The Age Online has adopted it.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Dr Rush's mercury laxatives

I just found out a fab fact on the [highly recommended] medical history podcast Sawbones. This episode is about the 18th century American doctor Benjamin Rush. He loved bloodletting, and is said to have been largely responsible for the deaths of George Washington and Ben Franklin.

He equipped the Lewis and Clark expedition with mercury laxative pills. And he gave them so many and they used them so enthusiastically that the best way for modern researchers to track the route of the expedition is the reliable trail of mercury they left behind.

So Sawbones - its free, look it up on the iTunes store.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Elimination Final: Carlton 18.8 (116) d Richmond 14.12 (96)

It’s so disappointing to go down the same track three times against Carlton this year. Pulled the first one out of the fire, but R21 and again yesterday the deja vu was … just very painful.

I get to one game a year at most – my heart goes out to the diehards who are there home and away, rain or shine. Multiply my angst by 100 and that’s how they would be feeling. The cheer squad banner was so beautiful – the G full to the brim with happy nervous Tigers. If nothing else Richmond can say we were part of a magnificent footy occasion.

11-year old Marcus (who had never seen a Tiger final) fled in tears when Judd tore us apart in the 3rd quarter. He knows in his guts that this Tiger team don’t have it in them to reverse momentum like that. Until we mature into a team that just doesn’t give up 5 and 6 goal runs, we are going to have these heartbreaking games.


Oh, so Dusty has mates in jail? Cool. Never would have guessed. I hope someone gave him an ultimatum on the spot about that disgraceful goal celebration. I was hoping Benny Gale had a direct line to the bench and would say to him “You have just taken $100,000 off what we are prepared to pay next year. You are a liability and if you are someone else’s problem next season we can live with that. You have taken the privilege of playing in a final and used it as a soapbox to show off your worst influences”.

Some guys who have been huge for us this year really came up short yesterday when the tide turned, and I count coach Dimma among them. He was squarely out-coached and I listened in vain to his post-match for an acknowledgement of that. It was all statspeak. He would have been shattered and not at his best, I’ll allow him that. But he didn’t concede what was obvious – Judd got off the chain and won 3 or 4 or 5 centre breaks on the trot. Losing Conca was a factor I guess.
It’s amazing that we had the rub of the green with the umpies, had the same number of scoring shots yet got flogged. Long before Carlton hit the front they had our measure. What was the rationale for Riewoldt AND Edwards going to defence in the 3rd quarter?

I am sorry I am feeling a bit negative at the moment. I will maybe start looking at the positives out of the season during the week. It’s been a very long wait, and although we have talented young players our club has never been good at backing up a good season (at least since the Whitlam years anyway).

RICHMOND   3.5   10.7  12.10  14.12  (96)                  
CARLTON     2.3    6.5  12.7  18.8 (116)

Saturday, September 07, 2013

South Hobart 16 d Friends School 1, Div 4 U/11 soccer


The school soccer season has come and gone. This year I split the coaching job with Mohamed, the big brother of one of the players. I paid him a visit last summer and said I would only coach them this year if he would take training, and I am very grateful that he said yes. I have had the bright and switched-on Saturday morning kids at games, while poor Mo has had the tired and cranky after-school kids at training.

For the first half of the season we were in Div 3. After an early flogging we improved rapidly, and picked up a couple of narrow wins and one big one by the end of term. Our stronger players were knitting together a little better, and our lesser lights were getting the hang of playing a position and improving their skills. After our initial bad loss our goals for/against were equal.

I was a bit dismayed that were then re-graded into Div 4. This term we haven't lost a game, handing out some thrashings culminating in today's 16-1 blowout. I would have preferred to stay in Div 3, and continue winning some and losing some, with the kids learning to fight back when they are down, and to hold on in close games.

The big benefit of being in the lower division was that it made it easier to teach the kids to use their skills, pass and work together, in a less pressured environment. Its natural in tight situations for the better players to form a clique and be reluctant to trust the others. And they had fun - it was a happy team, and winning every week must have been a big factor in that.

One of the four girls in the team scored her first goal today. I said to the group that I wanted them just to play this last game normally, but if we were way ahead with 10 minutes to go, they could start trying to tee up goals for people who hadn't scored. Jess usually plays in defence and is a wonderfully calm character. She doesn't have eye-catching skill, but she controls the ball, sizes up her options, and passes accurately (with her toe) nearly every time. Today she had a run up front in the 2nd half. She picked up a lovely square pass from Tully, controlled it, sized up her options and just passed it accurately (with her toe) into the corner of the goals. The best goal by far of the many.

We had a barbecue after and I got to hand out the trophies and say a few words. The school presentation day is next Saturday (for some reason, as this was the last game). We will be away cheering Marcus on at another regional soccer tournament in Burnie, so we did our celebration today.

I got a lot of appreciation for my coaching from kids and parents (and a hug from one of the boys), but everyone has really been lovely all through the season. I will need to wait and see where and when Marcus is playing next year before I can commit to coaching a primary school team again, but it was really nice that a few parents said they hoped I would still be around.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Tigers in a final: 3 days away

There was a bit of a trending discussion on Twitter a few weeks ago when it became clear Richmond had sewn up a top-8 finish, and an appearance in the finals. People were sharing their memories of what was happening last time the Tigers made it the finals in 2001.

As Richmond lined up to play Essendon in week one, the Twin Towers were still standing. Shrek was still in cinemas and the first Harry Potter film had still not been released. My son and fellow Tiger diehard Marcus was conceived but unborn. Richmond had beaten a very soft Essendon in the last home and away round, but the Dons turned up ready to play finals, and we were trounced. The privilege of finishing in the top 4 is getting a second chance, so the Tigers were back the following week looking for redemption against Carlton.

Of course during the week a war started, unlike anything we had seen before. I can’t actually recall anything of the game against Carlton after the minute of silence for the victims of September 11. Strangely the match is nowhere to be found on YouTube so I can’t even pretend I remember. But the stats say we led narrowly all day and won by 11 points. The following week we were steamrolled by the Brisbane Lions, on their way to the first of their three consecutive premierships. Sigh.

Zip to the present, 12 years on, and my 11-year-old and I are in a lather of expectation. In 3 days the boys will run out on the MCG in a final against Carlton. We have three key players coming back from injury and suspension. I have been over the team sheets from the last few weeks, trying to see who might be the unlucky ones to be dropped to make way. I am expecting at least one surprise.

Shane Tuck has just announced this will be his last season. Dugald has written a beautiful valedictory piece on Tucky that surpasses anything I could say. Everyone watched in vain as he went off after the last game on Saturday night, for a sign of a final farewell. He is not a demonstrative man but I feel in my guts that he's been given an assurance that he'll be in the 22 on Sunday, possibly in the green vest again as sub.

In the game the other night a man-mountain with the unfashionable 37 on his guernsey kept popping up in the play, receiving and giving off handballs. Orren Stephenson came in to the side to give star forward Jack Riewoldt a week to rest his back and other ailments. I find myself hoping the Big O keeps his spot this week. His ruckwork was excellent but his ability to be a link in the chain around the ground really impressed me. He was drafted by Geelong at the age of 29, and now as a 30 year-old he’s ours. He’s a premiership player too - he has 4 VFL flags to his name. I think he’s got what we need.

Who is going to miss out? I am tipping the brave Ricky Petterd and the proppy Matt White will miss out for Reiwoldt and veteran defender Chris Newman. If it’s dry then we may see an old fashioned Exchange of Shanes; Tuck out, Edwards in. But if its wet we'd be mad to to take an extra tall into the game, so Tuck stays, and its Orren who makes way for Shane Edwards.

Tigers to win by 35 points, with 4 goals each to Aaron Edwards, Jack Riewoldt and Ty Vickery and 33 touches for Brett Deledio.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Graney and I workshop a Neighbours script over Twitter

Back story to this: Australian music legend Dave Graney once appeared on Neighbours as himself. He punched Toadie and had a scene packed with sexual tension with Susan. I must look this up on YouTube as I think last time I watched Neighbs Bouncer the Dog was still going strong. Today Dave mentioned he had watched the show recently and menacing widescreen apocalyptic storytellers The Drones were on the soundtrack. BTW I am @4boat on the tweets.

@davegraney:  #neighbours is having a  #whoshotJR kinda storyline.Last night the music bed was by #THEDRONES . Appalled!

@4Boat:   So @davegraney its OK to languidly play yourself on Neighbours but not just lay down a menacing groove in the wings? Dubble standards fella.

@davegraney:  yes, I do broadcast in stereo.I manifested physically on neighbours, beat up Toadie and stroked Susans hand.(sex) Top that #THEDRONES

@4Boat: I am assuming the @neighbours plotline is going to go in a super bleak set-fire-to-a-hobo kinda direction.

@davegraney: They've had an illegal poker game in a  deserted building for weeks.Now ROBBO is dead.Quite an unconvincing villain...

@4Boat: #thedrones move in next door to Susan, ask her to join their barefoot bowls team. Gareth is a harsh skip, they fall out. *twang*

‏@davegraney:  a new nude mens calendar launch at LASSITERS.Kyle books #THEDRONES .They bum everybody out so they leave.The band  eat all the cakes.

@4Boat: Out on baking Erinsborough plains Toadie is tied up in shed. Exterior: Mike Noga rides up, @davegraney in sidecar. Has boltcutters. *twaang*

@davegraney:  why am I in the sidecar? No!Dan Luscombe is in there.Barely fitting in the cab due to his height.Feet sticking out comically.

@4Boat: Audience are stunned - its that bloke who clocked Toad in 2007! Richard Clapton! HE'S BACKKK. Unfinished business. *manic cello*

@davegraney: I only like a lone harmonica when I'm silhoutted against the sunset on the hills overlooking #ERINSBOROUGH like that. #shitgettinreal

@4Boat:  This town *spits* It's a fucking sewer, Mike Noga. *woo woooooo* If it wasn't for Susan I'd jus' take this ol' guitar and split.

@davegraney: Is NOGA essential for this scene?I could just peel an orange or something and suggest all that shit

@4Boat: Noga is drumming sparsely throughout. Graney crushes cig butt underfoot, rolls downhill out of shot on scooter towards #ERINBRO

@davegraney: kids watch #NEIGHBOURS can't be smoking on there like that . Also, I'd prefer a pony to a scooter. And Noga will have to walk.

@4Boat: OK you crush Fruit Box and depart on Shetland. Noga is at bus stop. Fade to black. #eventTelevision  #whoWillDie ??? #logie

@davegraney: writing my acceptance speech now

@4Boat: Don't mention me I am a very private person @TVWEEKmag  oops


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Carlton 16.10.106 d Richmond 14.12.96

Time for a proper match report. I have been to more Carlton Richmond games at the MCG than all my other AFL games put together. Out of about 8 matches I have only seen the Tigers win (and sung the beautiful club song) ONCE. Spoiler alert - this record still stands.The one win was round 22, 1999, the night the scoreboard caught fire.

I was in Melbourne primarily for Presentation Night (see below) but took the opportunity to gather together my group of originally-Tasmanian mates who all barrack for Carlton, and get along to see Richmond go into a game as favourites for once.

As a sentimentalist I insisted we meet under the clocks at Flinders Street - John and Michael were there but Alex was coming from the south so he insisted on meeting us at the G rather than sailing past it on the train. It was a beautiful day, and we got pints of proper beer on board by the Yarra before taking the new (to me) walkway over to the coliseum, where mid-strength beer is now the rule.

We gathered by the statue of Ponsford and waited for Alex. And waited. The other boys went in, I said I would wait for him but was overruled. I had his ticket, was trying to call him, getting nowhere, didn't want to miss the bounce, ran in and out through the turnstiles three times, did miss the bounce, and almost missed the first goal. Between that and second goal I finally located the man whose nickname is Tardy [Surname Suppressed] for good reason. I finally settled into my seat in 2nd tier above the right back pocket, and drank it all in. What a magnificent sight it is - like a huge banquet laid out in front of a starving man.

Back to the first goal - what was Malthouse thinking starting promising under 13s player Josh Bootsma on dual Coleman Medallist, Jack Riewoldt? That's tanking, that is. The first time the ball came their way Riewoldt just unbalanced Bootsy who slid to the ground, while the high-stepping show pony dawdled into goal and hoisted the ball over the cheer squad into the top tier. Which set the tone for the first quarter.

We were down the other end and I had not brought the binoculars, so I had only a distant view of our eight first-quarter goals. I saw Jacko nail one, and Vickery, and they just kept coming. I had decided to watch Alex Rance's work behind the play on Lachie Henderson, and actually picked a bad quarter to do it because my study kept being interrupted by goals. I did see one pretty weak effort by David Astbury when he was beaten for agility by 9-foot Blues ruckman Warnock. I was already halfway to wearing out my voice, and barracking like the hopeless once-a-year man-in-the-outer that I am. "MATTY MATTY MATTY MATTEEEEEEEEEEE" I yelled as various smaller players who were not Matt White (late withdrawal) kicked goals or executed snappy give-and-gos. "BURY IT TROY!!!!" as Tyrone Vickery lined up the big sticks. After that I just called him a different Irish county every time he got the ball. "MAYO!!" "WATERFORD!!!!" Yes, the beer was working wonders and I'm sure rows BB and AA were regretting it.

I had planned to tweet through the match and keep in touch with various Blues and Tigers around the ground and around the country by text, but had creatively left my phone in the car when Elf dropped me at the airport. I had a replacement phone but without all the numbers it was a bit useless. So I focused on the boofheads I was with. They had been gloomy about their chances, and at five goals down by 2 o'clock they were feeling pretty dire.

But the 2nd quarter was all Carlton, six goals to 2, so again all the action seemed to be miles away. McLean kicked three and the general impression around us was that this was an admirable but doomed fightback from an undermanned team who would never be able to sustain it. Our skipper Cotchin was very quiet though, and in the back of my mind I started to go over all those other losses to the Blues. Alex is late, I forget or mislay something important and Richmond lose - its usually like clockwork.

At halftime I found Joe from Launceston over in the other pocket. He had his mind made up - we were going to lose. I said that we had just let them back in it as we need to generate a finals-like atmosphere in the second half to practice for the weeks ahead. The Tigs are guaranteed finals participants for only the 3rd time since 1982.

I think in the 2nd half, that fact - guaranteed finals - eroded some of our competitive spirit. Maric was trying hard, Grigg and Conca and Ellis were pretty busy, Deledio must have had 12 or 14 running bounces for the game. But the goals wouldn't come. Had a close-up look at Eddie Betts having kittens about taking a set shot. I've never seen anything like it - if modern-day Wayne Harms had suddenly appeared behind him I think Eddie would have dished off a handball, even though he was only 20 metres out on a 30 degree angle. Grimes was not very effective in his first game for months, and subbed for Tucky.

The mood was strange. On the scoreboard we could see that the Suns were touching up the Power (ugh to expansion club nicknames, UGH) and that gave the Blues fans a bit of a whiff of finals themselves. The Richmond crowd were, like the players, cushioned from the usual misery of fluffing a winnable game by the very UNusual thought - we'll be back here in a final in 3 weeks, win, lose or draw today.

And so it went. There were signs of a late rally, and if there had been another 5 minutes the Tigs may have pulled it out of the fire, but ... siren went with Carlton 10 points up and my delirious so-called friends reminding me that they are the old dark navy blues. Actually they were very kind, and said they wished the Tigs had actually won since I had come such a long way. Again, like so many times before, I reflected that I had really enjoyed their company, the big occasion and the quality of the game, but was really disappointed with how Richmond fell away conceding 13.8 to 6.10 after quarter time. It was just complacency and a few players deciding to coast.

My plan had been to leave the old dark navy blues and have a few drinks at the Cricketers Arms with the boys from Launceston before finding a cab to Tullamarine to fly home. This was always a dangerous plan, and with the unexpected bereavement of a loss I felt at liberty to change it. I said goodbye to Alex and Michael and walked back to Flinders Street with John. On the way through the parkland we passed a few kick-to-kicks, and one bit of old fashioned man-on-man scragging with no ball in sight. A bloke in a Richmond guernsey upended his mate in a Carlton guernsey on the grass in a textbook tackle, pinning the arms. In a yelling mood and 5 or 6 mid-strengths to the good, I called "He hasn't got it umpeee! He hasn't goddddddddddddddit! He didn't bring it!!! IT'S AT HOME ON THE COFFEE TABLE UMPEEEEEEEE."

Old mates and beer are the keys to unlocking a much wider emotional range than I usually have. John and I slipped into another Yarra-side bar for a last pint together, then he got on his train and I went up to Little Bourke St to find solace in dumplings. You had to order them with an iPad.

Presentation Night with photos by Tony Proudfoot of freetoeknee PHOTOGRAPHY




with Tim Rogers, Matthew Richardson & Francis Leach @ Corner Hotel, 15 August 2013

© freetoeknee PHOTOGRAPHY (see the whole set here)

Photographed for Tone Deaf


Sport and music bounce off each other to their mutual benefit. The big crowd were right into it and got involved. Tim responds to a helpful suggestion from the back. 
Fantastic bit of set dressing, with a genuine VFL single bed sheet.

Just after the half time break Francis held up the Bones McGhie shirt I donated for the Casey Tutungi raffle. He said "this was made by Nick Rees, are you here Nick?" (In case blog readers don't know, my name is Chris).
Vincent and I were sitting right in front of him in the same shirts. Might have had the light in his eyes I guess.

Both lads brought a sports bag onto the stage with them and pulled out an old touchstone of theirs. Richo went with "The Map" from his brief Tasmania representative career.

Tim wrapped up the night with a delicate acoustic reading of "Berlin Chair" on his tiny guitar.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Presentation Night teaser

I haven’t written anything about Presentation Night yet - travel weariness and a need to get into waiting work are my main excuses.

But there is a fantastic review here by Dugald Jellie, a proper writer. He has caught the warmth of the occasion and the character of the main protagonists beautifully.

Also some great pics by Tony Proudfoot can be seen here on the ToneDeaf records site. Vincent and I can be seen looking up the stars’ noses in pics 36/37.

I do wish I had hung around afterwards to meet some of the people I have been corresponding with recently such as Dugald - but a lifetime habit of slipping away unobtrusively is hard to break.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Tigerland

I just had a great few days in Melbourne with plenty of downtime to just roam. I spent a few hours around Punt Rd and the back streets of Richmond. 

While I was taking a picture of Jack Dyer's statue, an old bloke came up and said "He really did have a massive head y'know." It was Chopper Read. I said "How are you, Chopper?" He said "Oh yeah, OK, apart from the cancer". 

Went to Richmond v Carlton yesterday - Tigers put the cue in the rack at quarter time, 36 points up and still lost. Frustrating. But great to see Alex, Michael and John and spend some blokey time yelling and drinking.







Photo: Sebastian Costanzo, The Age
Photo: Sebastian Costanzo, The Age

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Back from Canberra

We all missed Marcus when he was away for 5 days on a school trip, even Michael. I thought this was very sweet: Marcus is heavily into sport, Michael has no interest in sport but is intimately familiar with the TV schedule. At breakfast Michael had something exciting to tell Marcus but he had to wait for someone else to finish talking. Then he blurted out "Marcus - tonight is the Third Ashes Test Day 2 - DOUBLE EPISODES!!!!"

Presentation Night


I am off to the mainland for the first time this year, to attend a football/music mashup called Presentation Night. It consists of one beloved footballer (and music fanatic), one national music legend (and footy tragic), compered by a man with impeccable cred in both discplines, Francis Leach. The organiser is music A&R man Andy Kelly. The stars this time are Matthew 'Richo' Richardson and Tim 'Tim Rogers' Rogers.

Our buddy Vincent attended Presentation Night #1, and reported that he was not the only one there wearing a 70s Footy Enigmas shirt. I got in touch with Andy and said how much I wanted to attend #2, thinking it would be an annual thing. Lo and behold, he announced #2 about five minutes later.

So I am off over to Melbourne for a few days to attend this function and also see my Tigers take on the old enemy Carlton. Carlton are msifiring dreadfully at the moment, will be missing about a dozen first choice players, and have next to no chance. Richmond are in their best form in a decade and are warming up for their first finals series since 2001. It promises to be a fine old bloodbath. I am going along with three Melbourne-based pals who all go for the Blues, and they are as buoyant at the prospect as if we were going to a school recorder recital.

Andy asked me to write a spiel about the footy shirts for his Presentation Night blog, and you can read it here. Another online friend is The Holy Boot, and he also asked me to give him some wordage for his blog, which is over here.

Monsterpants

Just been to KMart. They seem to be panicking about the obesity epidemic: there were racks and racks of unsold 2XL -> 7XL underpants. I was after plain L for my robust but apparently sub-normal arse. Had to shift literally wheelbarrowloads of monsterpants to find one pair Ls.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A stirring tale in pictures by Michael Rees (9)

This has got the feel of the Bayeaux Tapestry about it, but Michael tells me that his inspiration was actually the Royal Standard of Ur.