Kafkaworld's Blog

April 29, 2012

On Simon and Garfunkel

Filed under: music,Uncategorized — kafkaworld @ 5:08 am
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Yesterday afternoon, I watched a wonderful documentary on SBS about Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.  It mainly concerned the making of their final album, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’, and it led me to spend too much time today playing all my old S & G LPs.

What a difference forty odd years makes to the lyrics of these songs.  When I first listened to them in the late sixties, I was an adolescent and, like most adolescents, I knew everything.  How I wish I could go back to those days.  My husband agrees, remarking that the main thing we had in common when we first met was that both of us were omniscient!  But life has a way of beating that out of you, and we no longer share that particular character trait.  Far from it.  Neither of us knows much at all about anything really, apart from how best to run each other’s lives.

So back to Bridge Over Troubled Waters.  “When you’re weary, feeling small, 

                                                                               When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;

I’m on your side.  When times get rough

     And friends just can’t be found …..”         and later

“If you need a friend I’m sailing right behind ….”

When I was 19, I had no idea what that was all about, thought I did but found out the hard way that I knew nothing.  I listened to that song again, remembering the sacrifices important people in my life have made for me over the years, tears pouring down my face.

“Time, time, time, see what’s become of me

While I looked around for my possibilities.

I was so hard to please …”

Yes I’m an overly sentimental old woman, but that’s likely to get worse with time so get used to it.  One more before I go and risk boring everybody to teeth-grinding oblivion.

“The words of the prophets are

written on the subway walls,

and tenement halls

And whisper in the sound of silence”

That song never gets old for me.  Must be off now, one more LP to listen too before something mundane happens and reality butts in to spoil my day.


January 16, 2012

On Guilty Pleasures

Now I know what you’re all thinking.  She’s going to put up a list of beautiful gormless young men and shouldn’t she know better at her advanced age and I don’t even want to THINK about elderly women having sex and can we get back to a safe subject like literature … or cupcakes.  Well no, we can’t.  But fear not people.  The adorable Bradley James  is just there due to his role as Arthur in the most delightful television series, Merlin.  I really love this series.  I like the writing, the characters, the cast, the dragons, and of course, the magic.  I like the idealism of people who try to create a kingdom based on justice and chivalry but I also like the human failings which continually threaten to thwart these noble ideals.  And the dragons …  did I mention the dragons?

Many years ago I read “The Once and Future King’ by T.H.White which was itself based on ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’ by Sir Thomas Mallory.  Camelot has lived, aglow in my imagination, ever since.  In ‘The Once and Future King’, Arthur is depicted in boyhood being instructed by Merlin who is, somewhat confusingly, living his life backwards from old age to childhood.  Merlin magically transforms the young prince into all sorts of birds and animals to instruct him in the arts of life and kingship. I have been captivated by the Arthurian legend ever since and ‘Merlin’ happily, has not failed me.

One small quibble; there is much swashbuckling swordplay in ‘Merlin’ and it’s good to see the women, Guinevere (Gwen), Morgana and Isolde fighting right along side the boys and slaying more than their share of baddies.  But is it altogether fair that the knights are protected by heavy chain mail while the women fight in long dresses with very low cut necklines and have no armour at all?  Of course I’m aware that we are the stronger gender in many ways but I just don’t think it’s fighting fair.  Poor Isolde stood no chance although maybe she was hoping that enemy would be transfixed by the sight of her comely breasts almost falling out of her top.  Sadly, this strategy, gamely pursued to the bitter end, ultimately failed.

Anyway, give ‘Merlin’ a look if you’re not doing anything next Sunday night and get hold ‘The Once & Future King’.  This is a good read for children too.  As always, my library is open should anybody wish to venture in.

Does anybody else share Guilty Pleasure Number 2 which is the english radio comedies broadcast on Radio National at 5.30am on weekday mornings?  If so, be aware they are moving to 5am from next Monday.   They include ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’, ‘My Word’ and “the Goons’.  Great for insomniacs.

Number 3.  All that talk about poetry last week reminded me of this one, by the Irish Poet, W.B. Yeats.  It is so astonishingly beautiful, almost beyond belief.

                                                                                       He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven

                                                                                               Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,

                                                                                               Enwrought with golden and silver light,

                                                                                               The blue and the dim and the dark cloths

                                                                                               Of night and light and the half-light,

                                                                                               I would spread the cloths under your feet:

                                                                                               But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

                                                                                               I have spread my dreams under your feet;

                                                                                               Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

January 13, 2012

On Books For Girls in the Fifties

Born in 1949, I began my voyage into the world of books, predictably enough for those days, with A. A. Milne’s books about Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh, Piglet and all the rest of the menagerie.  My mother, who never lacked dramatic talent in anything she did,  read the stories to us and we all sang the songs.  Despite growing up in Townsville where we had no chance of ever experiencing snow, “The more it snows tiddly pom” was a big favorite as was the poem about Christopher’s mother going down to the end of the town alone, and coming to a bad end.  Those poems and stories were whimsical, perhaps even twee by today’s gritty standards, but we laughed uproariously.  

It was after that toddler age, about 7 to 12, that suitable books became harder to find.  Queensland schools at that time published a reading book for each year.  Being a voracious reader, I would usually have finished that after the first week back at school.  Looking back on the contents of those books, I’m quite appalled.  The poetry was good old classic stuff and none the worse for that.  Everyone’s life is improved by a passing acquaintance with the Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan, Wordsworth’s hosts of daffodils and a myriad of other treasures but it was the stories that were so bizarre.  I think they were meant to be improving but there was certainly a lot of violence and unspeakable cruelty.  Perhaps the Queensland Eduction Department was trying to frighten us into placid conformity.

Books for girls suffered from the same problem.  They all had a barely concealed agenda aimed directly at turning us all into good wives and mothers.  If you were looking for a role model for being an independent and strong minded woman, you would be unlikely to find one within their pages.  Girls would often start out  as spirited or rebellious, but this was all sorted out by the end of the book.  Katy, from Susan Coolidge’s Katy books, was intelligent, lively and ‘difficult’.  Then she fell off a swing, hurt her back, became an invalid and soon progressed to a vision of womanly saintliness.  Even the irrepressible Anne Shirley, who lived at Green Gables, eventually becomes a stereotypical wife and mother.  I was so in love with Anne and mourned her tragic transformation to Stepford Wife conformity over many years.  

The only other books I was given were animal stories.  These never ended happily either.  Black Beauty, Big Red, Lassie and various other innocent animals suffered through the most awful traumas and many of them died.  I hated those books and eventually refused to read any more of them.  Why anybody would consider giving this sadistic rubbish to children is quite beyond me.

Meanwhile, back in the world of books for girls, I observed  sadly as all my intelligent and rebellious heroines grew up to be responsible and selfless ciphers.  They rarely had sex or careers and they never became lesbians.  This was problematic for me as I used to etch the initials of the women and girls I adored into the top of my wooden school desk and by the time I was 17, my final school year, it was a very long list.  I had no interest in boys apart from their libraries, and was certainly not prepared to entertain the idea of kissing one.  My reading had let me down badly in this area.  I was unsure what a lesbian was except that it was A Very Bad Thing so I couldn’t talk to anybody about it.

The third category of literature which helped me survive adolescence was comics – I read all I could beg borrow or steal.  Boys were quite useful for Superman, Batman and all the other superheroes.  While we lived in England for a few years, I became addicted to Beano where Dennis the Menace created joyous havoc every week and the Disney comics were good for approved holiday reading.  By the time I was 14, I was best friends with one of the local newsagents who made sure I received my Beatles Monthly magazines and anything vaguely associated with ballet.  He was a great friend to me, despite receiving endless improving lectures about whether or not he should be selling porn; not that Queensland porn was up to much in those days.

By the time I became a mother,  both the variety and quality of children’s books was vastly improved.  It was enormous fun to read them Dr Seuss, Captain Pugwash and all the rest and I’m sure that girls’ books now have real girls and women in them.  Not only that but books by and about lesbians are all over the place and they don’t always have to die of some terrible disease or kill themselves.  Who would have thought that lesbians too are allowed to live happily ever after.  Three cheers for that.  One day, lesbians might even be permitted to be married – like ‘normal’ people. I can’t wait to go to the wedding!

I’d be really interested to hear about what everyone else read in their childhood.

Colonoscopy Update:  Unfortunately, I was only ableto give this DVD 2 stars (out of 5).  One star was for the absence of any sinister lumps and the other for the excellent party drugs they gave me.  But apart from that, the lighting was appalling, the direction amateurish and the main character was boring as bat shit with no attempt made at character development.  Don’t bother.

January 10, 2012

On Colonoscopies: how funny are they?

Filed under: life — kafkaworld @ 1:24 am
Tags: , ,

Aging, with its concurrent confronting health issues, continues to be a very steep learning curve for me, but one hard won truth is that you really can’t afford to take yourself, or anything to do with undignified medical procedures, too seriously.  Hence this post.

Upon being told that I am having a colonoscopy, the general response from nearest and dearest has been merry laughter and gaiety.  Time to roll out all the terribly amusing jokes about cameras up bums, orange jelly for dinner and popping in to my local beautician for an anal bleach.  Very droll.  On the other hand, it cheers everyone else up no end because they don’t have to have one … yet.  My day will come.  How I will laugh.

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to comparing this with my other favorite procedure, mammograms.  Perhaps I will then compose a learned article for Nature –  ‘Mammogram or Colonoscopy:Which is Funnier?’Or what about ‘Is Women’s Health Funnier Than Men’s Health and Why?’.  There may yet be a book in this.

Meanwhile, today we are celebrating Has Anyone Seen My Keys Tuesday.  What fun.  In fact, I think I’ll be off to do that right now.  Anything to distract me from the enormous joke happening tomorrow!


January 4, 2012

On Inappropriate Highways

Filed under: On the Road,random paranoia,The beach — kafkaworld @ 9:22 am
Tags: , ,

There is a sign at the entrance to our local highway, making it clear that dogs and nude bathing are not allowed there.  Odd?  Perhaps I should explain that the highway in question is actually a beach.  That’s right, a beach where small children like to splash about in the shallows, build huge gothic castles and bury their Dads in the sand.  You’d like to think that they could play here safely without being run over by huge 4WDs driven by petrol heads who are physically unable to leave their cars for any reason.   Or have any taste in music.  Or turn the music down so that those of us who came to the beach to listen to seagulls and not AC/DC could have some peace.  Seriously, if you are sitting on the beach, wondering which end of Moreton Island is North, would you rather be approached by a dog or a Toyota Land Cruiser?  Although Land Cruisers don’t really approach, they just run you down, so let’s keep them on the M1 where they belong.

Today is Libertarian Apricot Freedom Day*

*This year, I have a First Dog on the Moon Calendar.  First Dog likes to celebrate esoteric days which are mostly ignored elsewhere in the media.  I will try to keep you informed in case you wish to celebrate some of these obscure occasions.


January 2, 2012

On Shattered Dreams

Filed under: domestic bliss,life — kafkaworld @ 7:14 am
Tags: , , , ,

Well not really dreams, and not really shattered.  More first world minor irritations which have assumed alarmingly disproportionate importance in my weird little world.

Last year, I read so much good advice about living a happier, better and more satisfying life, but I seemed to be so snowed under by day-to-day trivial domestic drudgery and dwindling energy that I never even began.   2011 was more of a ‘not waving but drowning’  year for me so this year, I resolved to do better.  Apparently, the trick is to work out what you are passionate about, what you enjoy doing most, and then prioritising your life so that  you do that first, then all the other crap in descending order of importance.

So, Step 1.  A To Do List, duly prioritised which I made on 31/12/11.  I love to write, so ‘blog daily’ was number 1 on the list.  You can see what happened.  It’s already the arse end of 2/1/12 and I’m only just writing my first blog for 2012.  What happened?

Well here’s the thing nobody warned me about.  My To Do List, which I expected would be completed every day, is growing exponentially, like weeds in my garden,  and I have no idea how to keep it under control.  Obviously, I can’t start Priority 1 Task on any given day unless everything from the day before has been done.  It’s day 2 of the new regime and I’m eight and a half jobs behind.  Where will it all end? I’m only blogging now because I’m so mad that my new plan is a desperate failure and I wanted to have a whinge.

So yes, I did have a small dream for 2012, and yes, it is shattered at this moment, but I’m not giving up so easily this time.  Let’s see what a tad more perseverence and a smidgen less domestic perfectionism will achieve.  Carry on and keep calm, as it says on many, many coffee mugs and teatowels.

December 24, 2011

On Christmas

Filed under: family,life — kafkaworld @ 3:27 am
Tags: , , ,

A confession – I unashamedly love Christmas.  I love it so much, it deserves a red font.

Yes I know it’s driven by consumer frenzy, cheap sentiment and meaningless, rambling hogwash everywhere you look BUT:

1.  I love that my family drive through the stinking Christmas traffic to visit and we are all together, even for just for a short time.  

2.  I love that most of them uncomplainingly endure at least two Christmas meals on one day.  They must be so stuffed by the time they reach us, but I’ve never heard a word about it.

3.  I love that it’s a day I can remember, with great joy, some of my special childhood Christmases and my Mum & Dad who went to so much trouble to make them so.  Although there was the time when they gave me a huge suitcase and waited for me to start packing.  I can’t blame them though; teenage girls would try the patience of a saint.

4.  I love that it’s about Jesus.  I am not a Christian but Jesus is surely one of my role models.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is all you really need as a guide to how to live your life.  Jesus also understood (from what little I know about him) that it’s okay to try, fail and try again (repeat ad infinitum) to live up to those words.

5.  I love the music.  Everything from Messiah,  the carols and Bach’s Christmas Cantata to Tim Minchin’s ‘White Wine in the Sun’.

6.  I love Christmas shopping.  Maybe I’m a little too intense and occasionally inappropriate parcels appear under the tree but what a joy when you get it right.

7.  I love that my own small family has made up its own traditions over the years and trust they will continue to do so long after I’m gone.  There’s such comfort in the knowledge that certain songs will be played, poems will be recited and the poodle will be sick in the centre of the carpet three minutes before the first guest turns up.

Happy Christmas.


November 25, 2011

On The First Swim of Summer

Filed under: flora and fauna,life,The beach — kafkaworld @ 10:04 am
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Anyone who believes that late November is a little tardy for the first dip into the Pacific Ocean should bear this in mind.  After the sea comes back from its winter holidays in the Antarctic, where it whiles away the icy nights by stroking the furry bottoms of seals and walruses,  it’s pretty damn cold I can tell you.  It needs time to warm up to the point where I can still feel my legs after I dive  tiptoe into the gentle waves.  So today was the big day.  Because I haven’t been to the beach for so long, there were several unrelated but joyfully wondrous firsts to savour.

Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo

Extensive research (see Dr Google)  revealed that there are six varieties of black cockatoo in Australia, and the yellow-tailed is the largest.  Flocks comprising about half a dozen birds visit us here in early summer and lay waste to the coastal banksias.  They are the natural enemy of the Big Bad Banksia Men, so kiddies can sleep soundly in their beds during the summer holidays, secure in the knowledge that these glorious birds are looking out for them.  As well as the startling yellow tail feathers, they have a rather endearing yellow ear patch just above the huge beaks which they use to get at the banksia seeds.  Usually they sit up in the trees, but this afternoon I came upon two of them on the ground having a picnic among the fallen cones.

The First Abandoned/Lost FlipFlop of Summer

 By the end of March, there are boxes of these, in all sizes, shapes and colours, floating around the Woorim community.  Perhaps they are not abandoned, but just cannot stand the thought of co-existing with their mate during a long hot summer and have run away to sea.  Who knows.  Either way, we could make a fortune on ebay if there was a market for single thongs.  Unfortunately, no such market exists …. yet.

The Arrival of the Migratory Sandbags

Nobody (except the Moreton Bay Shire Council and they won’t tell) knows where these mysterious sandbags spend the winter months.  I suspect Hawaii or Tahiti or Bali, judging by the drunken swaggering involved as they traipse back over the dunes to Woorim Beach.  I have never seen a sober sandbag and neither have any of my neighbours.  Anyway, they arrive here every November, clutter up the beach and disturb the peace with their drunken orgies, and then, thank heavens, depart in early autumn.  And I (and this really gets up my nose) pay my exorbitant rates to fund their endless partying!!  It’s an absolute disgrace.

Anyway, apart from all that, I had a lovely swim and another first for this summer – sunburn.  Anyone who’s thinking of visiting, now is a great time to do it.  We can all go and throw rotting fruit at the sandbags.  What fun!

November 24, 2011

On a Coldplay Moment

Filed under: family,life,love,music — kafkaworld @ 4:56 am

“Nobody said it was easy

No one ever said it would be so hard 

I’m going back to the start”

You said a mouthful there boys.  If only it was possible to go back to the start.  Those highly evolved people who say they have no regrets – do they really believe it?

I have so, so many regrets.  On a bad day they weigh me down so I’m barely able to function.  On a good day, I forget some of them for a while.

Today is a good day.



September 10, 2011

On ‘Hell Is Other People’.

I always thought Oscar Wilde said this.  It seems like the sort of thing he would say.  Then a man on the wireless informed me that Jean-Paul Sartre said it.  It seems the sort of thing he would say too, even more so as he was, I believe , an existentialist.  So nobody existed except him.  Which you would think to be rather lonely.  Unless he believed that remark about hell and other people.  I have now officially diverged from my theme too many times and am therefore inhabiting a paradigm in another dimension.  It’s quite nice here, nobody around except me.

Never mind, I’ll begin again.  I spent last weekend in Melbourne, a city which I consider to be my spiritual home – assuming I was rich and could afford to live in one of the ‘nice’ inner-city suburbs, handy to the tram line.  I’m such a pretentious yuppy.  Homeless in Melbourne in winter doesn’t appeal to me at all. (Damn.  Off topic again).  So there I was on the plane, in my precious cubic metre of personal space, when a young woman, shortly to prove even more pretentious and selfish than I, sat in the seat in front of me.  As soon as the seatbelt sign went off, she pushed her seat back to maximum recline, causing the book I was reading to hit me in the nose.  I wasn’t amused, but thought maybe she was unwell or tired, but no.  She ate and drank heartily, talked loudly, told jokes and sang along to her stupid iPod.  I retaliated as best I could by kicking the back of the seat, and I did attempt to borrow a crying baby from the lady over the aisle but she threatened to call security.  Obviously, Ms ‘I Am The Most Important Person In The World’  had no idea of the discomfort she was causing in the row behind her.

At the end of the flight, she gathered up her designer hand luggage and swanned off.  Fontmaster and I chose to wait as the elderly woman in the aisle seat required a wheelchair and she seemed so frail, we didn’t like to crawl over her.  I’m sure Ms IATMIPITW would have trampled her underfoot in a heartbeat as she raced back into her very important life.

Next, walking down Collins Street, keeping to the left, I was confronted by a line of four friends who loved each other so much that they couldn’t bear to leave each other’s sides, so they just swept down the footpath like a human bulldozer, forcing we lesser mortals onto the street where we had to explain ourselves to the oncoming traffic.  Not that this behaviour is not restricted to Melbourne.  You can enjoy it anywhere you go.  I felt like screaming into their stupid smug faces, “Hellooooo.  Is there anybody else on this footpath except you or are we figments of our own imaginations you fucking idiots“.  But I didn’t.  I’m so well brought up – apart from the constant swearing.

Deep breaths everyone, only two more to go, and they are my favorites.

The first one occurred in Little Collins Street where I was attempting to enter Kikki.K, a stationery shop where I like to browse.  Unfortunately for me, Mrs Very Well Dressed But Brainless had arrived before me and, fearing for the safety of her three children (also very trendily dressed and with much more expensive hair-cuts than mine), instructed them to sit in a an unbroken line across the doorway!  Nobody else could enter or leave until Mrs VWDBB had purchased her pencil and left the shop.  To be fair, the kiddies responded quite well to being kicked in the head (very gently of course), and shuffled up a bit to let me through.  Gosh we all laughed.

That night, we went to the State Theatre at the Arts Centre to see the divine Australian ballet.  Our seats are in the second front row, where I hope to breathe my last during a performance of any Graeme Murphy/Kenneth MacMillan ballet.  On one side of us were two women, on the other side, two girls aged about 9 and 11.  As we settled in, it became obvious that they were together as they kept leaning across and shouting to each other.  We offered to swap seats so they could sit together but they were happy to keep shouting.  It was then I noticed that the girls both had large backpacks, jackets and several supermarket bags full food.  Obviously there was a danger of them starving to death while watching the show. These were carefully placed in front of them so that people going to seats further in had to step over the mess.  The demographic of ballet audiences is quite old so that frail elderly people, some with walking sticks, had great difficulty getting past.  The girls were completely oblivious to anybody else’s comfort.  If I had come equipped with a walking stick, I might have walloped both them and there stupid mother, accidentally of course.  These things happen in small crowded spaces don’t they.

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