Gigs – as in getting paid to perform musically.

Sometime in the 1950s? We lived three doors from the Peninsula Hotel, Maylands. Dad got us engaged for one night in the Saloon Bar (the other one was the Public Bar). I played piano, reading from Dad’s large collection of printed music, with Dad on bass. No idea how much I got paid. My only recollection, which is so good I could have invented it, is some drunk leaning on my shoulder (that might be an exaggeration) and asking if I could play ‘Please release me’. Dad looked through our collection.  We didn’t have it.

1962, the Busselton … Festival? and a few of us were the ‘University Folk Club’, which didn’t exist: Bill Greble, some Kiwi chick, some guy called Saïd.
We sang on one side of a river, with the audience – if there was one – on the other. After our first set, we wandered off, got chastised from an organiser for not being there, and sang again, tho I think there was almost no-one still there across the river. We may have sung ‘Go away from my window’ and some song in Maori. Stayed in something like a motel. Vague memory.

Early 1960s. Joan Pope (I think) directed a production of the Alice in Wonderland as a Xmas production (I think) at the Playhouse (I’m sure about that) in Pier Street. (It’s been demolished since.) John Beaton and I were the orchestra, playing two pianos. I can still remember the tune for ‘Beautiful soup’, which I suppose had to do with the mock turtle soup in the story.

I think that might have been all three times I got paid for musical performances. There were of course many other occasions when I did it for fun.


One of the outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic will be the increase in surveillance of people generally. Agencies are using access to ppl’s phones and facial recognition via CCTV cameras in public for beneficent reasons – to alert ppl to danger. … But when the ‘crisis’ is over, the technology will remain in place.


I wrote that before the launch of the CovidSafe app.

The West Wing cast

It’s fascinating to trawl through the full cast list of The West Wing—a list of hundreds of actors who had at least one line – or at least a recognisable gesture.

Inter alia: Milo O’Shea, b. 1926.  His last screen role was in this, as Chief Justice Roy Ashland. He nearly dies, fictionally, aged in his 80s, in his second ep., in 2004 (when actually 78). And then really did die (in his actual 80s) in 2013.

He was Leopold Bloom in the 1967 Joseph Strick film of Ulysses – which means he will live ‘forever’ – as long as does human culture.

Closer to (my) home, he was also Inspector Bott in Theatre of Blood – the film on which my cousin Coral Browne met her second husband, Vincent Price, of whom you may have heard.

Also in the list: James Brolin, who played Governor Robert Ritchie in 2002. He has apparently been married to Barbra Streisand since 1998. I just watched his performance in Westworld (1973) – all blowwaved hair. Michael Crichton wrote and directed this – which means the ideas are intriguing – but not that it’s a good film.

Another is Armin Mueller-Stahl, who plays the Israeli ambassador – with an unmistakeable German accent. He was David Helfgott’s martinet father in Shine – the film that won an Oscar for the currently ‘disgraced’ Geoffrey Rush.

Cinema 1962

My cinematic epiphany occurred in 1962. In that year, I saw The Virgin Spring as part of the Perth Film Festival at the Windsor Theatre Nedlands 15-20 January 1962. It changed my life – or at least that part of it concerned with the appreciation of art.

Other films screened that year included The World of Apu, Hiroshima mon amour, L’avventura, and Shadows.

The World of Apu (1959) is the third part of Satyajit Ray’s Apu trilogy. It was probably quite a while before I saw Pather Panchali (Satyajit Ray, 1955) and Aparajito (Satyajit Ray, 1956). Hiroshima mon amour is Alain Resnais’s take on Marguerite Duras’s novel. I didn’t, and still don’t, like either. I was much more impressed with his next film, L’année dernière à Marienbad (1961). Whereas in 1962 we saw the third of Ray’s trilogy, it was the first of Antonioni’s we saw, in L’avventura, which I saw again recently, and still found (somewhat) impressive. Shadows may be John Cassavetes’ best film; it wouldn’t have to be very good – but it certainly made an impression.

Life or Livelihood

The pandemic engenders two kinds of responses, which are usually separate, tho it is possible to bring them together: the response to the health crisis, and the reaction to the economic disaster. In a convenient phrase: life or livelihood.

The PM’s speech today, 30 March, attempted to be presidential (in a good sense – showing leadership with inspiration) as well as indicating good economic management, but it wasn’t well written, the tone was uneven, and there were mistakes of various kinds. It soon descended into hair-splitting financial details.

Tho I think the country generally is doing pretty well on the ‘life’ front, it’s clear – as it always has been – that the PM is still more of a Treasurer than a President. More a manager than a leader.


Derek Rielly, Gulpilil, Macmillan, 2019.

This is like a long obituary (tho a short book) as the subject is so close to death, and much of the book is set in the present (rather than the past as is normal for a biography)  as the author is concerned to make clear how intimate he is with his material.
It’s not a great book, but it does cover the actor’s career, and gives a sense of what he is like, and also of what it means to belong to neither of the two worlds: black and white.

Not ‘so’

Questioners (such as interviewers on the ABC) should routinely end each question with the injunction: “… and don’t begin your answer with the word ‘so’.”

Benjamin Gilmour

The entirely remarkable Ben Gilmour was interviewed for a whole hour on the ABC the other day. The topic was well worth the time. He’s just published a book about his experiences as an ambo – a paramedic – stationed in Sinny at Bondi. This meant that he and his partner were usually the nearest to be called to a suicide attempt (or success) at The Gap – the most popular spot in the country for offing yourself. I bought the book (which is called The Gap) and read it in a day. It’s one of the most gripping books I’ve ever read.

But that’s only half of my point here. The other half was not mentioned by the interviewer at all (unless I missed the very beginning of the interview) – namely, that Ben Gilmour has directed and had released two feature films! Son of a Lion (shot in Pakistan) was released in 2007, and Jirga was shot in arguably the most dangerous place in the world, Kandahar Province in Afghanistan, and released in 2018.

The Shepherd’s Hut

I think what most preoccupied Tim Winton in working on this  novel was getting the voice of the narrator, Jaxie, right. As it’s almost all we hear for the duration, it’s just as well he succeeded. It’s not understood to be written by him, of course—he’s probably barely literate—but it is narrated by him, and the language on the page represents what he ‘would of’ written if he ‘could of’—thus giving examples of the principal solecism which occurs consistently throughout—together with ‘et’ for ‘ate’, which is complicated, but works.

The other main character, Fintan, only appears halfway through, and is represented only by what he says to Jaxie—who does not understand half of it, but records it accurately (of course). Jaxie is the character who is in search of … ‘peace’ is the preferred term, and Fintan is the spiritually advanced character who has perhaps found it.

Then there’s a plot, which is a bit stuck-on-at-the-end, providing closure for the story in a way that is convincing enough. One is usually glad to escape from the world of a Winton novel—he’s often said not to do his endings well—and this one provides a neat half-page summary (almost like a PowerPoint slide) which tidies everything up, and lets us go.

But this novel does not let us go when we have put it down. Its evocation of Jaxie’s universe is so precise and convincing that it will stay in the reader’s mind for some time – well, this one, at least.

Which of the Two Popes

I was at first bemused, and then amused at the idea that Jonathan Pryce was being nominated for Best Actor while Anthony Hopkins was only getting the Best Supporting nomination. Makes sense in terms of the proportion of the story occupied with Francis as opposed to Benedict, but not at all in terms of who owns the film in terms of acting. I was totally absorbed in every syllable uttered and every gesture made by Hopkins’s Ratzinger, whereas I was noting where Pryce fell short in charisma, accents, in being generally wishy-washy.