Old folk at lunch

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Dosas and an old letter


I put on a small dosa lunch mainly just for Von & Co. but I also invited Anne, Jenny and Joe.  Since Von is not always here in Brisbane, I like to see a lot of her and Hannah when they are here.

We had a good dosa lunch as usual and we all admired Hannah.  She speaks in intelligible sentences now and always looks beautiful, of course.  Young though she is, Hannah is an old hand at eating dosas, and having a Johnson appetite, she gets through them well.  At one point the proprietor was obviously a bit concrned about her eating a dosa and came over and asked her if she liked it.  She turned to him with a mouth stuffed full of dosa so that was an eloquent reply.

Joe joined in the conversation very well, which he does not always do. Like me, I think he prefers small gatherings. 

We talked a fair bit about old times but Von trumped all that by producing a letter I had sent her when she was a little girl.  Von is a great sentimentalist and likes to hang on to her past so she has a little treasure chest of mementoes of things in her past life, including two letters from me.  We have already seen one of those but she has now found another one.  I reproduce it below.  As you'll see, I used the pet names we had for one-another.

After lunch we repaired to my place for tea.  Except that most of us did not have tea.  I persuaded Von to see what she could do with my packet of Orzo -- an Italian coffee substitute.  Von was the only one who liked it so I gave her the rest of the packet.  I tipped my cupfull out.  Again we mostly talked about old times, including Sarah Ferrett.  I liked bold little Sarah but the twins have lost touch with her.

Another thing we discussed was the problems Von & Simon are having with renovating their Brisbane property.  The tenants left it in a mess and they are now trying to repair the damage and bring it up to a saleable standard.  Before I could say much, Jenny piped up with some very good advice:  Get it up to respectability but don't spend too much on that as the new owners may want to re-do the kitchen etc anyway.  I would have said much the same and Jenny has lived through a number of my renovation projects so she has obviously drawn her own conclusions.

Von also presented me with a selection of NZ groceries, mostly things she knew that I liked already.  I am greatly looking forward to eating them in due course

Simon was our source of wisdom on culinary matters.  As well as being a computer whiz he also does most of the cooking at their place.  He is thinking of making his own dosas.  I wish him luck with that!

Sociology, University of NSW P.O. Box 1, Kensington, 2033, NSW

29 March '90 

Dear Lady Von, 

Thank you for your nice letter. By the way, there is no such word as "dubble". It is "double". 

I was pleased to hear that you have been having fun with Nanna on the weekends. Nanna knows lots of good things for girls. 

Are you looking forward to going up to Cairns at Easter? I seem to remember that neither you nor Suzy like very long car rides. If you do not want to go to Cairns, I am sure that Nanna would let you stay with her instead at our pink house if you wanted to. 

Jenny and I have a very pretty house in Sydney. It has big rooms like our Faversham St house used to have and there are lots of trees in the street outside. I even have a very pretty fireplace in my room so I will be able to light a fire and keep warm in winter. 

I now go to work every day. Do you know what I do at work? I write things. I spend nearly all the time writing. But I still have time to write to a special girl like you. 

I hope to be back in Brisbane for a little while around the time of the July school holidays. 

Joey can repeat almost anything that people say now and he seems to understand almost everything. He still pronounces a lot of words in funny ways, however. Jenny used to call him "honey bun" and he thought she was saying "honey bum". 

Love, 

JOHNNIE

The other letter Von found among her treasures is here

Monday, October 20, 2014

A dinner for our visitors


Von & Co. arrived from NZ last Friday so I put on a Bollywood dinner for them on Sunday (19th).

There were 10 people present  -- a bit down owing to some people being overseas etc.  I took host's privilege and sat next to Von so I could listen to her lively commentary about all sorts of things.

Ken mostly talked to George and Anne mostly talked to Jenny, Maureen and Davey.  Hannah stuck pretty close to her mother for most of the evening but Joe got a cuddle as we left.

Joe is popular with the kids as he plays fairly boisterously with them  -- just as I did with the previous generation.  Kids love something a bit daring or risky but that does put a responsibility on the adult to make sure that they don't get hurt.  I always managed that and Joe does as well.

The food was good as usual and at Joe's suggestion I had Tandoori chicken.  That kept me within the guidelines for my diet, making it a fairly yummy diet.  The diet is based on Joe's theories with an emphasis on low carbs and low fats and it does work for me.  I've lost .3 of a kilo in just the last few days.

It was a pleasant evening with lots of lively conversation.  As usual it was not a bibulous night.  I always supply toasting champagne but only two bottles of it were drunk among the 10 of us.  We need neither booze nor music to enjoy a social occasion. We talk.

Friday, October 3, 2014

A final sendoff


Paul and Susan have been going around saying farewell to various people individually and they came to see me late this afternoon.

I got three "Supreme" pizzas home delivered from Pizza Hut and also had a packet of New Zealand ginger nut biscuits on hand. Everything got eaten, with even little Elise tucking into pizza. I don't think she has got any teeth yet but she gummed it pretty well! I don't like Australian ginger nuts much but the NZ ones were definitely better.

We talked a lot about politics, as we usually do.  Someone had been poisoning Paul's mind about Sir Johannes Bjelke Petersen  KCMG, who ran Queensland  from 1968 to 1987.  "Joh" was always controversial and all these years later he still is.  Much that was and is said about him is distortion, however.  As a member of Joh's party at the time, however, I am in a good position to balance the account, which I did.  The half-truth about Joh holding power only because of a gerrymander is particularly pernicious.  Yet in In 1974, his government gained a remarkable 59% of the popular vote  --  a majority so large as to be almost unheard of in a Western democracy. Only Ronald Reagan has done as well, as far as I know. Interesting that both Ronnie and Joh were known for crushing arrogant unionists

So how come?  The fact of the matter is that some rural seats in Queensland were much less populous than most urban seats.  They did however cover large geographical areas so the difficulty of getting around them was put forward as the reason for their being less populous. But that gerrymander did not originate with Joh.  It went back at least to the premiership of Vince Gair and may have even gone back as far as Ned Hanlon. Gair and Hanlon were Labor Party premiers.

So why did the Labor Party favour country seats?  Because they used to win most of those seats.  With the Country party revival first under "Honest Frank" Nicklin and then Joh, however, almost all those seats swung to the conservatives.  And since the Country party and the urban-based Liberal party always governed in coalition, the end result is that Joh's government always got a majority of the popular vote.  Joh himself put it well when he was addressing a meeting of students at Sydney university.  He asked them:  "Do you think a party that gained only 45% of the vote at the last election should rule Queensland?"  Resounding "Noes" were heard in reply.  Joh then said:  "Well, that's what the Labor party got last time". Embarrassment!  The gerrymander disadvantaged the Liberal party, not the Labor party.

Much more could and has been said about Joh -- his "inarticulateness", for instance.  But I have written on that before

Paul and I talked about other things as well -- deficiencies in the school curricula, why Ken and Paul disagree, the nature of Leftism -- but nothing that we haven't gone over many times before.


Cuddling little Elise -- tummy to tummy!


UPDATE: "Joh" made me proud to be a Queenslander. And even subsequent Labor Party governments have done little to erase his legacy (though the mismanagement of his big Wivenhoe flood-control dam is a disgrace). So maybe I should say more about something else that he is known for: He crushed the electricity workers union. They really thought that they ruled the roost until Joh showed them otherwise. They were a plague on Brisbane people with their cutting off of the electricity supply in support of their egregious demands.

But it could be argued that Joh's response was neither Left nor Right but Queensland. In the 40s there was a Labor party Premier of Qld called Ned Hanlon. In his youth he was a real red-ragger. But as he got older he went "so far right that he was almost out of sight" -- as they used to say of Syngman Rhee (you don't know who Rhee was? Look him up). So Ned used his police to break up strikes. Joh was milder. He just used threats. But the unionists were just blustering cowards so the threats worked.

Queensland electricity supply is very good these days. No more do people have to throw out the contents of their fridges and freezers.