Skulking Through the Gallery

As I shiftily made my way through the Art Gallery of New South Wales, disguised as a mild-mannered reporter from a great daily weblog column, I employed the arts of deception to steal valuable paintings.

Well, not steal, as such, but appropriate their essence. In other words, I took pictures with my digital camera of the stuff on the walls.

I like to think of it as an innocent act, but there are those who would accuse me of theft – of images, of intellectual copyright, of visual blood, sweat, and tears. Or turpentine, as the case might have been. Both views of the thing are correct in some sense. I am left ot defend myself as best I might.

Firstly, I don’t seek any recompense for taking the pictures, writing about them, or showing them to you. If you wish to slip money or pizza under my door that is another thing, but it doesn’t depend on my art gallery images. Indeed, whatever money was to be made or traded has already happened between the AGNSW and whoever supplied the canvases. Sometimes I suspect that there is swizzling going on but then I am suspicious about a tram ticket…

Secondly, I don’t treat the artworks with disrespect. I don’t touch, interfere, or deface them in the gallery. I don’t decry them here in the column – save when they are patent rubbish that anyone might see. For the most part I take pictures of things I admire, not hate. Here’s a picture that looks well, of a person who looks wonderful.

I’m not above sentiment. Here’s another delightful and peaceful image. Those who would decry the status of the woman and children pictured may do so – they are long gone and cannot be injured by current bad manners.

And I don’t even sniff with disdain at what seem to be flights of fantasy or self-indulgence – as long as there is a particle of entertainment or beauty in the image.

So don’t condemn me too harshly, nor be too protective of what you consider someone’s intellectual right to some arrangement of shapes and colours. If you wish to keep your artwork as a safe as dragon keeps its’ gold hoard, do not sell it to a public gallery and do not let me in the door.

 

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About This Time Of Year…

I get antsy.

It’s not the calendar and it’s not the temperature. It’s the approach of an interstate holiday trip. I’m going to Melbourne and Sydney in a few weeks. And the mental engine is starting to rev up.

It is not like a trip to either of those cities is great wampum amongst other people – there are no end of Facebook posts from my 223 contacts that list trips to Europe, North America, or Asia and glory in the tourist sights that will be seen. Melb. and Syd. do not have that bragging pressure.

Yet…they have a real place in my psyche. I am comfortable in each city, having visited them annually for years. I know the shops, galleries, and restaurants. I know the transport system. And yet…I do not know them…there is still adventure enow.

There are always shops that wink out of existence – sadly. And others that appear. I adopt the wise Western Australian practice of never assuming anything I desire in shops will ever be there again – and I make sure that I have enough money saved to swoop while the swooping is good. Oh sure, I make some duff choices, but I also make some brilliant ones.

The same goes for the amusements and the nourishments of the towns. Not every plate is a winner, but there is a memorable event and taste somewhere each day. All you can ask is one per day – and in Syd. and Melb. you can find them.

Parochial? Dull? Staid? Why thank, you, don’t mind if I do. Please let me have a glass of water that is not a swimming pool for guardia and a sandwich that does not wriggle. I have the money to pay for it. And the hotel room? The one with the clean bed and bathroom…? Fine, and I shall be down at the bar in an hour.

Thank You, Tourist Driver

And I am not being sarcastic when I  write this – thank you indeed for being who you are, doing what you do, on our freeways.

You are slower than the rest of the entitled aristocrats in their Audis and angry tradies in their tray top Toyotas. You are in the left-hand lane, and about 10 KPH below the speed limit. You are doing the sort of speed I want to drive at, and you are a convenient haven.

I can tuck in behind you and look as if I am caught by your slow speed. In reality, I am slipstreaming you and would not pull out to overtake for quids. You are doing what I want to do. If you are driving a Bayswater Hire Car, so much the better. Your inexpertise advertises itself and takes the blame off me.

Please continue. I shall not flash my lights or toot my horn.

Sentimental Journey

We all know the song ” Sentimental Journey “. It’s very good – music and lyrics are spot-on. But they raise a question for the listener; what do you do if there is no such thing as a sentimental journey that you can go on?

Migrants and refugees who moved from dreadful places or people know this feeling. They ran like buggery to get away from whatever it was back there and going back there is generally not an option – it’d be the poorhouse or the jail house at best. The only sentiments that they could reasonably expect to experience would be fear and regret.

People who have come from easier circumstances might be able to return to a former location and feel a bit better. If they came from a place that is conservative, well-off, and untroubled by war or invasion, they might be able to enjoy a vestige of their former culture. If time has erased this and substituted something else, the sentiment would be loss and sadness. It’s a risky business – the wise traveller makes a study of Google Earth to see what the old neighbourhood has become. Smoking holes or multiple McDonald’s are a warning sign.

The same caution that you exercise toward the place should also be extended to the people. You don’t need Google Earth to prepare. Go to a mirror and look at yourself. If what you see is grey and saggy or red and swollen, expect to find that the rest of your high school graduating class will look the same. You may have to see yourself, but decide whether you have to see them as well.

One sentiment that you can encourage in a journey is  longing for adventure and new experiences. To do this all you have to do is avoid the old haunts – the new ones may be awful, but they will be a novel pain. If you survive it you can file it under the ” Goode Olde Dayes ” and stay home next time.

Note: it is perfectly alright to not feel any sentiment toward any place at all. It is far better so to do than to generate a false attachment to some imagined location.

 

Visiting The Old Country From The New Country

How many migrants to and from Europe, Canada, the USA, Australia, and New Zealand have had this experience:

They’ve migrated and worked and saved and succeeded in the new country but always hold a dear memory of the old land. This homesickness has been acute in the first couple of years but worn off somewhat after that – what with new careers, families, and homes. But it starts again at about 15 years and they decide to go back and see the old place.

They plan to make a big trip and see everywhere they used to live – and possibly everyone they used to know. The get on the plane or ship and float on water or air to the old home country. And are horrified to find that it is not there.

Oh, the dirt is still there, and in the case of a lot of places it has crawled halfway up the buildings…but the society and people and nation has so changed from what it was that they are strangers in a wasteland. Worse – if there has been a war go through the place – or a spate of developers – even the buildings they knew do not exist.

Their old friends are dead, or older, and do not have the last 15 years of shared memories to talk over. Only the past – and that can be as dead as the dust. They run out of conversation in 5 minutes. Even if the old language is the same, the speakers are not talking to them.

This is the thought that I took back to the UK when I visited in 1995 – from having once lived in the place in 1973. It was just that way, though there were plenty of tourist activities in which to immerse myself. Would I get any benefit from another visit? Yes, if my current interests could be pursued – the UK is a nice place.

Canada or the USA for me? After 52 years? There’s a big question. An expensive one to answer, too – especially with the fear that seeing my youth gone would age me more. I can do that right now at local prices and wearing comfortable clothes.

Bradney Soss

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Court of Christmas Justice would like to welcome you to this afternoon’s execution. We have prepared a criminal for you and will be dispatching him shortly in a spectacular manner.. But let us give you some of he details of his crime before the headsman takes over.

As you know, today is Christmas  Day – a festival day dedicated to kindness and good will towards all. It is also a time when good things are eaten and drunk, often to excess. Boxing day sees many a floor being vigorously scrubbed. There are traditional foods and drinks that bring happiness to all – and one of them is plum pudding with brandy sauce.

Now no-one would accuse the well-known hotel of being stingy with their celebration – they put on a  magnificent buffet within their main ballroom and made sure that there was enough wine, beer, soft drink, and other goodies to fill all. There was music, Santa, attentive staff, and an atmosphere of jollity. Indeed, their dessert line was as long and as replete as anyone could ask for. And they essayed plum pudding with sauce.

I suppose we should have taken warning from the sign that referred to the beige liquid next to the pudding as ” Sauce Anaglise “… It may well have been. I have never visited Anaglise but they may slurp this stuff from tureens. The awkward part is that someone may have thought it to be brandy sauce as the English like it.

The English are a sturdy race. I admire them for this. They can stand a great deal of fire. And they like brandy sauce for their plum pudding that needs to be served with care. They are wise people.

The beige liquid, on the other hand, resembled something that you would normally consult a colour chart for. Come to think of it, a good semi-matte indoor emulsion would probably have tasted better. One would have been prepared to put on two coats.

As it is, we have determined which chef made the sauce and he is waiting in the tumbril for his march up the stairs. Those of you in the front rows may wish to cover your plates when the time comes in case he splashes. It is not so much the fear of blood as the horror of beige liquid.

The True Christmas Of Spirit

No, it’s not dyslexia kicking in. It’s what I meant to write.

Christmas, we are told, is a season of renewal and promise and rebirth and blessed peace. Sounds good, but the rebirthing you can keep. I’ve seen what the house looked like for the next three years after a regular birth and I don’t really want to see that again. And the smell…

But renewal is fine, as long as you do not ask me to renew marriage vows or coronary arteries again. I’ll stick with the way things are at present. They would both be occasions for a party, but guess who would end up paying for it…

Promises – well we can have them in the pallet-load out of Parliament House. Fresh , new, implausible ones or old, tired, cynical ones. Or an allsorts mixture of the two. They actually keep very well on a shelf.

And blessed peace. Well, I have no grandchildren, so there is not quite the intensity of celebration that others suffer…but I do really appreciate it when the kids go off to the other rellies for family affairs and the wife and I are left to our own, quiet, devices here at home. We do not do much, but we do it in contentment.

Well, if we are to have any of these ingredients they must act upon our spirit. Here’s hoping they will raise it, rather than lower it. So far the several-weeks-before-New Year’s resolution has been adhered to, and in the face of temptation. I am lucky – I am allowed to eat and drink, unlike a friend who has recently been put on a food and drink diet…just before Christmas. All I have to do is be financially responsible.

I’ll be fine as long as the pocket money holds out…Then I will have to go out and pick more pockets.

Have a Merry Christmas anyway, diet, budget, or otherwise.