Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Lights, Camera, Action ...

This one needs a bit of background explanation ...

A few weeks ago, Mother came over with a DVD given to her by my cousin, S. She had found an old film projector and film taken by my Grandfather between 1938 and 1953 and had transferred it to disk. Not knowing who was actually featured in the film, she asked Ma to have a look at it.

So Mother dutifully brought the DVD to us and with the words "you might find this a bit boring" screened the most fabulous, historical footage of Adelaide in the 1930's, the Voluntary Defence Corps (our version of Dad's Army) training down at West Beach, the Davis Cup (1952), the aftermath of the great Glenelg storm (1948), ANZAC Day march (1942) and much, much more. It even contained film of a tiny Mother competing in her school sports day circa 1939.

Stunned and open-mouthed, my Betrothed and I immediately agreed - this has to be made into a documentary. What film-maker could resist?

So my Betrothed has been spending every spare minute editing the footage, adding still photographs and soundtrack to make what promises to be a fascinating look into life over that period. So fascinating that a local TV program "Stateline" were immediately interested in doing a feature story on the finding and making of the documentary with interviews with my Betrothed and Mother.

The time was set and Ma and Pa dutifully arrived for the Big Day. While we're waiting for the Stateline team to arrive, my Betrothed casually comments that he hopes Q will be good and not bark at the camera.

"What camera?" says Mother.

"What do you mean, what camera?" says I. "The camera that the Stateline team will bring to film your interview, of course!"

"Don't be ridiculous!" is the frightened response. "I can't possibly go on camera! Oh, no ... they'll have to do something else."

After a moment of stunned silence my Betrothed asked the obvious question. "Well, what did you think they were going to do?"

"Well, I thought they'd look at the footage and ask me questions about it" says Mother, in ever more panicked tone. "You never told me they were going to put me on camera!"

The assembled company then got straight into reassurance mode. "You'll be great!". "You look lovely". "It's just like having a chat with someone - pretend the camera isn't there". "Don't worry, nobody watches the ABC!"

All of which, of course, fell on deaf ears. I suppose it is a big thing to have your screen debut at age 80 - but suggesting there would be no need for a wedding as our funerals would come first was going a bit too far.

At that point the TV crew arrives and Mother, by necessity of background and breeding, goes into 'welcome' mode. Fortunately, the cameraman spent quite a lot of time shooting various photographs for the setup and Mother had a chance to chat with the Presenter for quite some time. I still don't think she was completely reconciled when the dreaded moment came and she was led to her beautifully lit spot in front of our red curtain ... and that imposing camera. The comment "now I know how Anne Boleyn felt" sort of gave it away.

Of course, she did fabulously well and looked great on the small screen I was watching. But she still needed a large brandy to recover from the ordeal and was muttering dark curses on all of us all the way to the car ... Will she ever recover?

Sunday, 19 July 2009


While I am not religious, do not believe in ghosts, UFO's and other like rubbish, I do believe there is Karma in the world.

Last night was a classic example. My Betrothed went for an excursion to the video shop to hire some entertainment for the night. Something nice. Something fun. Something suitable for a cold night at home curled up in front of the heater.

What did he come back with?

The first series of "Deadwood" and a Mel Gibson war movie. Boy choices.

Now I'm not adverse to a good drama and the word "gritty" does not send me screaming from the room. But I am not a fan of westerns and war movies leave me cold. As does Mel Gibson.

"Anything on the telly?" I enquired, with little hope (it was, after all, a Saturday night) so my Betrothed dutifully read out the offerings listed in the TV guide. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

So it was "Deadwood" that was chosen for viewing and two and a half episodes were duly watched.

Despite the quality of the production and the excellence of the acting, the storyline and genre really didn't do much for me. However, one endures ...

So we were watching away until our DVD player (a complete dud) decided to get temperamental and spit out the disk halfway through episode 3.

And guess what was just starting on TV as the DVD spat the dummy? Which Saturday night movie accidentally overlooked in the Guide?



Saturday, 23 May 2009

The Death of Theatre and other Tragedies ...

Last night I took my Betrothed off to see one of the great spectaculars of the modern stage - the Phantom of the Opera. We were fortunate that our friend, The Star, is one of the principals and managed to get us house seats at short notice. So we trooped off to join the madding crowds for a great night of entertainment ... we thought.

It was crap. Pure unadulterated crap. The extent of its awfulness almost defies description, it was just that crappy.

And why, you may ask, would one deliver such a harsh judgement on possibly the most successful musical of all time?

Well, it wasn't the cast. The Star was fabulous and the great Anthony Warlow brilliant.

It wasn't the production as staging and effects were of the highest order and costumes spectacular.

It wasn't the music which, while not to everyone's taste (certainly not my Betrothed's) was well played and effective.

No. It was the venue.


Now I have seen Phantom some 11 or 12 times over the last 15 years, in 4 countries and at least 6 cities. It has always been brilliant and I have always enjoyed it. But then, it has always been in a theatre.

The decision by the producers to stage Phantom in the Adelaide Entertainment Centre - a venue perfectly designed for rock concerts and basketball matches - was borne out of pure greed. Cram as many people as possible into the space, halve the length of the run (hence having to pay your artists for 50% less performances) and to hell with Art.

The normally spectacular stage was, from our vantage point, like a pimple on a pumpkin. About 90% of the effect of the performance was lost simply due to perspective and scale.

Obviously the producers had realised that of the 3,000 people crammed into the venue, 2,500 would be unable to see what was going on so 2 giant screens had been erected to broadcast the live action. These were incredibly distracting and made you feel like you had paid $120 to go to a really bad drive in. Unfortunately, you had to watch the screens if you wanted to have any idea what was going on as the actors were so far away from the majority of the audience that features and expressions were impossible to see, costumes were simply a colourful blur and the masterpiece of staging completely compromised.

It was a disgrace.

Arena spectaculars may be fine for shows specifically designed for that forum. But please, Mr Producers, never, never, never do this to another great show. We will certtainly stay well away.

Monday, 18 May 2009

A bad day ...

There are some days that one just shouldn't get out of bed.

Yesterday was one of those for my Betrothed who managed to blunder his way through a series of ... erm ... incidents that must have made him wish that he'd just skipped the day altogether.

Actually, it started the evening before when we dropped into a friend's birthday party. He had specifically asked if my Betrothed could do a bit of an act so, not wanting to offend, the fire clubs were loaded up and the birthday boy invited to participate in a small routine. This is a fairly passive exercise for the victim ... erm, sorry ... participant as all that is required is to lie on the ground and let fire be juggled over your head. I know. I've been there - and very spectacular it is too.

Just a shame on this occasion that the lighting was poor, the ground uneven and the dog barking. A combination of factors which caused my Betrothed to do what he never does and drop the fire clubs on the Birthday Boy's head. Whoops. No permanent damage done ... we hope.

So it was, perhaps, not surprising that he should want a little lie in the following day. We had the parental body coming over for lunch to catch up with an old friend we haven't seen in ages. He's one of the principal characters in 'Phantom of the Opera' so we had to have an early lunch to allow him to get back to the theatre in time for his matinee.

Anyway, I had been up and about for some time when the hour had progressed sufficiently to rouse my Betrothed so he could get ready for the day. However, he refused to be roused on the slim pretext of being on strike.

The strike was called in protest over my not looking sufficiently girlie. Now it is no secret that my Betrothed is fond of 'la difference' and would prefer that I not wear jeans and RM's all the time. As I do, actually, get away with this outfit often, I thought it was not unreasonable to comply and go put on a skirt. And anyway, a little more shut-eye wouldn't hurt him ...

Meanwhile the phone rang, the luncheon needed stirring etc. etc. so we were running a little behind by the time I had donned skirt and heels and was back out to the studio to try the rousing routine a second time.

While the strike was abandoned, my Betrothed was still being a little difficult and it was only my statement that the parental body would be here any minute that got him moving, striding across the short stretch of garden between studio and house on his way to the shower. Naked. And in full view of the parental body who had just that instant driven into the carport.

So my poor Betrothed was caught like a rabbit in the headlights, stark naked in front of his prospective in-laws, before gathering his wits (and who knows what else) and streaking into the laundry calling hysterically for a towel.

I don't think my Ma and Pa have laughed so much for ages - as my Betrothed, with the sounds of mirth following him, ran into what became an inordinately long shower. The parental body were, of course, very good sports about the whole thing and promised not to tell anyone. Well, almost anyone. Well, not everyone. Oh dear.

Recovering with aplomb from this most embarrassing incident, we all settled in to have a nice lunch. My friend, The Star, was in fine form and a good time was being had by all. My Betrothed enquired, as you do, about how The Star and I had become friends and I informed him that he had been long time partner to The Banker, the two of them breaking up some years ago.

This connection established, my Betrothed started his next sentence with "So, Banker, how are you enjoying Adelaide?" Whoops.

However, it didn't end there. The Star enquired, on recalling that my birthday was fast approaching, how old I would be this year. 29 and some months? I responded that I would, sadly, be turning 48.

My Betrothed (for the third time that day) turned slightly pale. "48?" he asked. "Well, yes" I responded. "You did know that I was slightly older than yourself."

The paleness continued, and I had a horrid moment thinking that he had, in fact, thought I was only 29 and some months when the truth came out.

"I thought you were turning 50" he whispered. "I think I'd better make some calls."

Now I don't know exactly what he had planned, but suspect that some lovely confection with 'Happy 50th Birthday' may have featured. And may not have been appreciated to quite the extent that such thoughtfulness would otherwise have warranted.

All in all, it was a good thing when our visitors left and we were able to return to our normal state of domestic bliss. And giggling. Well, I was anyway. I'm sure he'll see the funny side eventually ...

A good day ...

Well, dear reader, it was a busy day last Saturday with a double celebration being held at chez nous ... my Mother's 80th birthday combined with our Engagement Party! We had decided that as there was basically the same invitation list for each event we'd save everyone trouble and hold both celebrations together, and what a lovely day it was!

At first Mother was somewhat concerned about having a 'do' to mark this milestone birthday, proclaiming that her friends were of such a number that a small phone booth would be sufficient to contain her party. What rot! Given her vast popularity with her friends, her family, my friends and, now, the friends of my Betrothed we were not letting her get away with some shabby affair such as the morning tea she had (hesitantly) proposed. Not on our watch!

And how right we were. She was absolutely thrilled to have so many family and friends in attendance - some of whom we haven't seen for ages - and so uplifted by everyone's kind wishes and lovely gifts that she didn't have to wear a bra for 3 days. Or so she says ...

Anyway, everyone agrees that she's looking absolutely fabulous for 80 (there were several "are you sure?" type comments to be heard). My Betrothed made a lovely speech in proposing a toast to the octogenerian and a fine time was had by all.

There was also the small matter of our Engagement to celebrate, with friends still slightly shell-shocked and family all agog to meet 'The Man'. All were suitably impressed, of course, although my Betrothed swears all he did all day was say "Hello, lovely to meet you. Would you like a drink?"

Nothing more likely to endear him to our mob ...

So we all had a wonderful time as the BBQ ran hot, the drinks ran cold and everyone helped celebrate the moment when two confirmed Singletons, previously known for classic statements such as "Me? Get married? I'd rather take a gun and shoot myself ...", threw caution to the wind and made it all official.

Bring on November!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

The Great Easter Gutz Up

For an athiest, I'm very keen on Christian Festivals. Ignoring all religious significance with studied thoroughness, I just love a celebration! Any excuse ...

One of my favourites is Easter. Apart from the fabulous 4 day weekend, there's the excuse to eat CHOCOLATE! This must absolutely not be done in moderation. No - from Easter Sunday until the stocks runs out, one must gorge on chocolate until one makes oneself sick. It is, after all, the Great Easter Gutz Up!

This was not a tradition known to my Betrothed, but one he has embraced with unseemly enthusiasm. Strictly amateur at this stage, of course, with limited quantities required to induce queasiness. He hasn't had the years of training required to consume a really HUGE amount of chocolate before getting to the "one more bite and I'll throw up" stage. However, I have high hopes that he will quickly become a serious "Gutzer" ...

Even Q got into the act, but was very put out that she was required to pose for photos but not allowed to eat the bunny.

It does seem a little unfair, but everyone knows that little dogs can't eat chocolate. We'll make up for it with the roast at Christmas!

All good things must come to an end, and last night I snaffled the last of the Easter stocks (well there was only a little bit left) leaving my Betrothed with nothing but an old block of fruit and nut. He was not impressed.

Now there's the Easter spirit!!!!!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

We're just wild about Harry ...

At first glance, one might be excused for not understanding the significance of this photo. Let me explain ...

My dear cousin, the Swizzle-Stick, has recently made some very big changes in her life. One of these has involved selling her house to move to a stylish waterside apartment. With less room. And no pets.

Thus a quandary. What to do with her ginger cat, Harry?

A plaintive appeal came our way so my Betrothed and I felt we had no choice but to adopt-a-cat and take Harry home to our little menagerie.

So last night we went over to the Swizzle-Stick's soon to be ex-home for dinner, assistance with her garage sale preparations ... and the cat carrier.

My Betrothed was brutally efficient with the labelling of garage sale items leaving the Swizzle-Stick and I nothing to do but have another drink. Between us we also managed to stack up a pile of things that will, sadly, never reach the garage sale having been loaded into the back of our car at bargain basement prices. Along with Harry.

Every buyer gets a cat!

Poor Harry was quite happy to get into the cat carrier and settle down, but less so about the ride home on my Beloved's knee. There was a significant amount of mewling, squeaking and otherwise making his dissatisfaction known. Fortunately it was a short trip.

Once home it was straight to the butter dish and a bit of dabbing on the paws - a method enthusiastically embraced by my Beloved and the Swizzle-Stick and, with somewhat more scepticism, by me. Then the door was opened and Harry was free to explore his new home.

Which leads us back to the photo ...

Harry - on a reconnaissance mission - wandering into the bedroom.

Fang - rudely awoken from sleep on the bed.

Q - hoping against hope that someone would want to play with her.

Three forces of nature coming together under our bed. Harry confused. Fang outraged. Q - hoping against hope that someone would want to play with her.

Such a shame that this blog doesn't have sound effects as the ensuing warbling/hissing/barking was something that had to be heard to be believed.

Let us just say that by the end of the night, Q was under the covers as usual. Harry had decided that 'bed cat' was a reasonable position and Fang had decamped to sleep 'al fresco' in disgust.

We'll keep you posted ...