All the world’s a stage… unless you’re a sheep

Sydney Theatre Company – the opening night of Water. Funnily enough, not a play about the effects of Sydney’s desalination plant on super-ripped Shire bogans, nor Cubbie Station’s prospective status as a sovereign state; not even about the ubiquity of San Pellegrino in every restaurant in Australia.

Although it might have been. I’m not actually sure what it was about. It didn’t matter – the style far outweighed the substance, but not in a bad way. I’ll always happily watch English actors who are good at accents doing stuff with computers.

So, a night at the theatah with some lady friends – all young with kids (except me, of course, who is, as I’ve noted previously, a middle-aged Labrador owner of poor sleeping habits – me, that is, not the Labrador; she sleeps just fine, though curiously, we are exactly the same age in corresponding dog/human years). So, in fact, despite my vastly advanced years, we all have a fair bit in common.

We were all pitifully pleased to be out on a week night – crazeeee! And it was the first time I’d been to any sort of theatre since the silvery one and I saw Fleet Foxes at Sydney Opera House (from a very, very long way away, mind, so even my glasses didn’t work; but it sounded like them).

To bolster our critical facilities and ease our post-work sugar/sick-child-at-home-in-front-of-the-telly depletion, our most pressing concern pre-theatre was a nice bottle of something winey and delicious, mopped up by those hackneyed but irresistible major food groups, hot chips, chorizo and arancini at ‘The Bar at the End of the Wharf’.

There’s a reason that these bar-menu stalwarts – and not quinoa (my recently embraced Best Food Friend), nor any other of the grains we’re currently pilfering from indigenous communities around the world – are so happily and readily consumed in public places. They do not form little dry-stone walls between your teeth. You can laugh and talk and drink without hours of tooth-sucking anxiety. Quinoa – best to eat it in the privacy of your own home, my friends, or better still, let South America keep it and go back to the social safety net of wagyu sliders.

Anywaze… despite the milling madding crowd, a shared table was commandeered, empty beer bottles rearranged in a considerate fashion, used napkins nudged gingerly aside with elbows, bags slung over seat backs. Twinkly harbour views duly noted. Ordering tactics decided: friend one, a food orderer of some repute (and food divider, an admirable and useful trait that I’ve already devoted a line or two in a previous post) to the counter. Another – me, actually – to the bar, to stare like a rabbit in headlights at a sparky barman wearing a cowboy shirt as he brandished a bottle and four glasses. Nice wine, actually. A pinot gris from Orange as far as I remember. Thanks cowboy.

So this bar then. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that a bar (at the end of a mile-long, ankle-endangering wharf or otherwise), which proclaims itself designed to appeal not merely to the theatrically inclined or early-bird tourist diner, but to those seeking a more leisurely soirée, might look at keeping the kitchen cranking beyond 7.15pm. Praise be that our world-best-practice food wrangler got our order in by 7.14.

And apologies for even bothering to write about this – as I look up from my laptop to a TV image of 20,000 proudly-Australian-live-exported sheep crammed on a ship awaiting certain, ghastly death in Pakistan or Qatar, or wherever else we send those wretched creatures.

Talk about a fucking First World problem.

So, here, have a picture of the poppies I bought myself last week instead. Sorry sheep, cows, pigs, ducks and chickens, and all hail Lyn White of Animals Australia.

Art, paella and havoc

Friends, stalkers, I’d like to extend an apology for the tiny glitch in proceedings recently. I note that only one louche fellow – who shall remain anonymous, Andy – commented on the event, apart, of course, from my mother, who has taken to Facebook like a Labrador to Petbarn’s snack aisle. What was posted for a nanosecond and/or got dropped in your inbox was not, while it’s tempting to pretend otherwise, an installation destined for Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. Neither was the dummy copy an obscure foreign language that Mr Facebook could translate by the click of a button somewhere on your home page, Mum.

A young person did it. She pressed ‘publish’ instead of ‘preview’ on the Holy WordPress Dashboard. Allegedly, she’s helping me solve the mysteries of the WordPress universe. And I have to admit to feeling a brief surge of triumph at having known better than her about that particular little minefield. My, how my fingers still tremble when they’re hovering over those two ‘p’ words.

That art installation idea is still bouncing gently around the vacuum of my mind… It’s Ben Quilty’s fault. I was watching him on Australian Story. What a guy. What a painter. What a shame he’s happily married.

Despite that, my first posting glitch (consigned, hopefully forever, to the dank WordPress dungeon), I battle on with just one goal in my sights: to add an image to my next post. I will not rest, nor publish another word, until I am able to illustrate it with a thoughtfully chosen image.

So if you’re reading this, I will have triumphed, and you have already been distracted momentarily by my perfectly placed visual mille-feuille of meaning. And I promise the post will be in English, Mum, more or less. I also promise that the image will have been tampered with so as not to be recognisable as a photograph – such is the seductive power of Adobe’s ‘artistic’ drop-down palette, another new acquaintance, and the fact that I’m a crap photographer.

My mother’s been given the all-clear for the time being. When her oncologist told us, after we’d sat for a millennium in the waiting room at HOAC in St Vincents (or HAVOC as my mother not-so-affectionately calls it), we decided to celebrate with a smoked salmon sandwich in my courtyard in the sunshine. Hell, we know how to live…

She says she’s not sure what she’s going to do with herself – the past 18 weeks have been such a social whirl of blood tests, chemo sessions and visits to the chemist. I don’t think she’s joking.

Apropos of nothing apart from a trip to my local fish shop, last night I made paella, something of a culinary breakthrough. Unfortunately, my other half (or two-thirds, I suppose, considering his awesome height and power of newspaper dissemination) was not awake to appreciate it. So I picked out all the best bits in front of the telly, with a nice glass of red, watching our Nicole, Jude Law and Ray Winstone strangling the deep-south American accent among a lot of snow in Cold Mountain.

The image that may have diverted you at the top of this post, dear reader, is, of course, said dish, rendered all the more palatable by my cunning digital manipulation. The recipe is credited to one of the freakishly food-mad children who appeared in Junior MasterChef last year. They really should be out climbing trees or something. But it tasted quite good, so I’ll let the precocious little bugger off for now. The slumbering silver fox, maybe not.