Old folk at lunch

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Carpet inspection


Despite initial reservations from some friends and relatives about laying an Axminster, when people actually see Anne's new carpet,  the  reaction has always been quite favourable.  So I thought that Paul and Susan might like to see it too.

So I arranged for Anne to give them lunch today.

But what a shock when they arrived!  Matthew had just has his first barber-haircut!  And he looked almost unrecognizable.  From a kid who was a bit wild and woolly, we had a perfect little gentleman, dressed in a crisp blue-checked shirt, albeit a gentleman not quite 3 yet.  Apparently Matthew liked his old hair better so they have decided to grow it back.

Anne did us proud for lunch with an excellent meatloaf clad in prosciutto.  Plus vegies and strawberries after. Paul and I reminisced about a certain meatloaf we used to get in the past but which is no longer available.

And Susan in particular was enthusiastic about the carpet.  I think an Axminster does convey that it is quality.

Paul and I mostly talked about business matters.

I was pleased to see that Elise crawls well now.  She made a beeline for my big toe at one point.  Matthew used to do that too. Elise gave us some very good smiles at times too

Matthew played by himself quite well for a while and I was amused to hear that when he plays cars he doesn't stop for petrol.  He  charges up when his car gets home.  His father has an electric car so that is what he knows.

I asked Susan at one stage what sort of food she had grown up on and was rather sad to hear that it was extremely simple.  We old timers grew up on plain food but Susan's was even plainer by the sound of it.  We all used to get fried meat plus 3 boiled veg for dinner nearly every day but sometimes it seems, Susan wouldn't even get the veg!  Anyway, she is 6' tall and as healthy and good looking as you can ask so it obviously did her no harm.

She would have initially been amazed by Paul's diet.  His mother fed him food from all over the world so he was as well fed as you can imagine.  Susan said that Jenny had been a great help to her in developing cooking skills.  I can believe that as Jenny is a  very keen cook.  I can imagine Paul asking for some food that was normal to him but quite exotic and Susan ringing up Jenny to find out what it was all about.  She is a most accomplished cook nowadays, though.

Mr Shorthair

Friday, June 27, 2014

Watches


I stopped wearing a watch as soon as I got my first mobile phone.  Why wear a watch when I could just look at my phone to get the time?  A few years ago, however, I got a phone that made you press two buttons to get the time.  That was a little bit pesky but I put up with it.

About a month or two ago I saw a story in the papers about a Swiss guy who had set up in Australia making "Australian" watches.  They looked like the fancy Swiss ones that cost you thousands. So I looked into it and found that they cost $800.  I thought that sounded like fun and was about to buy one when Ann pointed out to me that they had the "12" on the dial where "2" should normally be.  Something to do with yachting, I gather.  So I scrapped that idea and looked at what else was on the web.

I found, rather to my surprise, that there were tens of thousands of watches that you could buy.  I did actually find a couple that I liked but both were out of stock.  So trash that idea.  Anne was a bit disappointed as she wanted to buy me a watch as a thank-you for buying the Axminster in her sitting room.

So a couple of weeks ago, were were ambling past the Indian jewellers in the Buranda shopping centre when we noticed a large display of watches.  I saw one I liked so Ann bought it for me.  It cost $35.  It had a good expandable band on it, was very plain looking and seemed to keep good time so I was rather pleased with it.  I was told it had a Japanese movement in it.  Since Switzerland and Japan are the two big makers of watches that sounded good.

But after a week it stopped!  So I took it back and the proprietor -- a tall dignified Indian man -- put a new battery in it. That only lasted a couple of days when it stopped again.  So I took  it back for a refund.  The lady behind the counter would not give me one.  She said her policy was to send it for repair. That suited me not at all as the thing was obviously junk.  So I persisted but she would not budge.  I even tried my stentorian voice on her but she still would not budge -- though it made her cringe.  I have a very loud voice when I want to... not up to Michael Darby's standard but getting there.

Anyway, when I got home I sat down and emailed the shopping centre management about her -- pointing out that the jeweller was breaking the Trade Practices Act by not giving me a refund for defective goods.  And I suspect that broke the logjam.  They would have advised her that her lease agreement with them obliged her to stay within the law.

So a couple of days later I went in again at a time when the bloke was due to be there.  He was a lamb and agreed to give me the money back.  So I took Ann and her credit card back a few days ago and the debit was reversed with no fuss.

But I had got a bit energized about watches by this stage so got out an old watch that Joe had given me years ago when I asked if he had any spare watches.  It is rather fancy looking but all it does is tell the time. So I got a battery put in it and it works fine so far.  It is an "Eternity" brand, which I had never heard of.

I had become rather interested in watch brands by that time, however, so I looked up "Eternity" watches on the net.  I was surprised that there was no web page for that brand.  The only place that seemed to have a big range of them was a NZ supermarket called "The Warehouse".  They were selling them for around $NZ12.00 each!  So I eventually looked at the back of the watch and it tells me that it is from China with a Japanese movement in it.

So I am rather amused and pleased after all that.  My watch accords with my usual policy of getting value for money.  It's also one of a number of occasions over the years when I have walked into a shop with money to spend in my pocket but have walked out again with my money still in my pocket because the retailer was not on the ball.  This time there were LOTS of retailers who were not on the ball.  Anne will have to find something else to buy me.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

June's birthday party


Anne's sister June has had a birthday recently so Anne put on a "3 sisters" Wednesday lunch in honour of that.  The third sister, Merle, was also present, as were the associated male persons.

Anne started us with a type of French onion soup that actually had lots of onions in it!  Plus pre-postioned garlic bread in it. All very tasty.  For the main course she made a type of Moussaka.  Both courses were Jamie Oliver recipes, I gather.  And we had a cream-filled sponge cake with passionfruit icing for dessert.  Definitely a lady's cake.

The main topic of conversation was Anne's new carpet and the tyranny of fashion.  The only way I could get Anne a pretty carpet was to go to an Axminster so I was vocal in condemning the pressure of a fashion that dictated that only brown carpet could be on general sale.  The Axminster (below) did however seem to meet with general approval.



Other than that, I cannot think what we talked about as it was neither religion nor politics.  We do sometimes talk about church matters but not this time.  Ralph was clearly feeling poorly when we arrived but he soon livened up with company and even told some jokes.

I brought along to the party a mini-play that I had written -- as I sometimes do these days.  People seemed keen to do it -- June particularly -- and it worked well.  It was my "Unselling" play.  June took the part of the customer and Colin was the shopkeeper.

Anne had gone to some trouble with her hair so I pointed out to all and sundry that she had done it in a currently fashionable way.  Brownie points gained there I think.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Dosas again


I thought that Paul was probably getting pretty frazzled with all the reorganization of his life that he is doing lately so I offered to shout the family a Sunday lunch just to give him a break.  And I know of NO lunch that is more attractive than dosas.

So it was agreed and we turned up at our usual venue.  The adults all had Masala dosas but Matthew now has his own dosa  -- an egg dosa.  Elise also got some of the egg dosa and chewed away in her usual serious manner for most of the lunch.

Paul and I talked about our usual things  -- politics and investment -- while Anne mostly talked to Susan about lady things.

After lunch we adjourned to my place where Paul got his usual dessert -- a box of choc-chip cookies.  On this occasion, we spent a little time talking about the mini-play that I wrote for Jenny's birthday party.  Paul, Susan and Anne gave high praise to its free-flowing and colloquial wording and Paul assured me that I had wasted my talent by not being a playwright.  They even seemed to think I could make money out of writing plays.  That was of course pleasing and I decided to write another mini-play for Nanna's birthday party.

My new childproof front gates were appreciated as Matthew ran around like a mad thing -- in his usual way.  My old Queenslander house is well adapted to kids and it was pleasing to hear the thunder of little feet in it. It was also pleasing to see that Elise can now crawl  -- albeit only commando-style so far.  She escaped most of the way down my long hallway at one stage.

Paul seemed very devoted to little Elise so she is a lucky girl.  Daughters with a father who adores them get from that a psychological strength and balance that lasts for the rest of their lives.

In total we spent over 3 hours together so that must have been a bit of a slice out of Paul's busy life but he seemed totally relaxed so it seems he did not miss his chores.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

No names


I was for much of my life a great reader of fiction.  And the very English  Somerset Maugham was one of the authors concerned.  And I think it is in his stories that I encountered the phenomenon of the old lady who had a good friend in a young "bachelor" of unstated sexuality.  The old lady was culturally inclined so liked to go to plays, operas etc.  But either the lady was an old maid or old muggins the husband had shuffled off some years back.  So the lady was alone.

And the lady could not happily go to all her cultural occasions alone.  So this bachelor (maybe a friend of her son, a nephew etc.)  could be called on for  such occasions.  The friend was also culturally inclined and was usually ready to accompany the old lady to something and discuss it with her afterwards with proper interest and enthusiasm.  And that arrangement continued for years.  So it was an excellent arrangement that the old lady had with the young "bachelor".

But as Oscar Wilde often said, nature imitates art.  And I know of two real-life people who have a very similar arrangement to what I remember from Somerset Maugham.  Good luck to them!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

BBQ and carpets


Jenny put on a BBQ lunch for close family on Sunday.  I had recently bought her a new space-age gas BBQ for her birthday so this was a first social use of it.  The days when a BBQ was just a piece of metal are long past.  It is now up there with dishwashers and fridges and stoves and such things.

We sat in Jenny's back yard while the kids ran around there -- and run they did.  Dusty, Sahara and Matthew were all more or less perpetual motion.  Elise was her usual inscrutable self.

Jenny tried once again to make her own cevapi.  We are all rather keen on cevapi but the only place you can get them in Brisbane at the moment  is out at woop woop so the idea of making your own is attractive.  But although they are simple peasant food, getting them just right is difficult.  And, as on previous occasions, Jenny failed again.  Her attempt at them made perfectly nice rissoles but cevapi they were not.  Since Jenny had gone to considerable trouble over them, it was a real disappointment to her.  I am convinced that there is a secret ingredient in real cevapi that none of us knows about.  Trip to woop woop coming up.

Towards the end of the festivities, I got the assembled company to take part in a small play I had written.  Creating your own entertainments at parties seems to have largely died out these days but I like to revive it.  The play I put on was "The King's trip"  -- about Edward VII -- and it seemed to be much enjoyed.  Russell got to play the part of the King and he really loved it.  People were a bit dubious when I proposed that we do a play and I am sure they only agreed to it as a favour to me but in the end they certainly saw the point of it.  The play is online here.  Susan was very good minding the kids while the rest of us got into the play.

And yesterday, Anne got her sitting room re-carpeted.  Her old carpet was getting difficult to maintain so I offered to shout her a new one.

But buying a new carpet turned out to be easier said than done.  In its inscrutable way, fashion seems to have decreed that the only new carpet you can buy is in various shades of poop.  Different patterns and shades other than brown are just not for sale.  So the only way we could find of getting something attractive was to buy an Axminster -- which is not cheap.  But the one we got was very pretty indeed so it was worth it.  There it is below.  "Summer Bouquet" is the name of the pattern.  Anne's son said:  "But that's an old lady's carpet".  But then he twigged:  "But I suppose you are an old lady".



I think I see in the matter a business opportunity for Ken or Paul.  There must be other people who want an affordable  carpet in something other than poo colours so a shop devoted to that should do a good trade.  Getting the stock would be a problem but a friendly carpet miller could perhaps be persuaded to re-run some of his old patterns.

Matthew and Dusty doing what boys do

Jenny's birthday cake -- a Tiramisu pavlova