This past weekend was a relatively quiet one where I took the time to fully relax without the spectre of marking looming over me.
When I got out of bed I watched the remainder of a program I’d started watching the night before on the ABC, Frances Tuesday. I always love a good British drama; I haven’t really elaborated on this aspect of my viewing habits in the Cathode Ray list. I’m not sure why. Perhaps because I’ll even watch a not-so-good British drama; there’s something comforting about watching a program like Rosemary and Thyme, where the plots may stretch the boundaries of everyday believability but are perfectly acceptable in an Agatha Christie-esque Whodunnit. I’d be disappointed if Rosemary and Laura didn’t find a body amongst every patch of Hydrangeas they encountered. It’s the mashed potato of television and sometimes I feel I should only admit to viewing the equivalent of Gratin Dauphinois. Anyway, I made a point of watching Frances Tuesday because it had Tamzin Outhwaite in it from Red Cap, a series that also screened on the ABC, about British Military Police at a base in Germany. Outhwaite is always a strong female presence and she didn’t disappoint in the role of the lover of a people smuggler-turned witness against him. The physical changes her character took after she went into witness protection were remarkable; one of the best make-up transformations ever, in either film or television. In a coincidence which I found strangely appropriate, the villain in Frances Tuesday bore a striking resemblance to a certain Brisbane-based academic.
Halfway through watching Frances Tuesday, my oldest sister rang to arrange a wedding-browsing expedition. She’s getting married in May next year, so we’ve been participating in the (hopefully) once-in-a-life-time pilgrimage to the Mecca of lace and voluminous skirts, where brides-to-be model dress after dress, while their entourage pass judgement. Since I have been the sum total of V’s posse on these occasions it will be my fault if oyster pink really isn’t her colour. We decided that V would pick me up the next day and we’d go and have breakfast at our current favourite breakfast place before hitting the Wedding Warehouse Mega-Plex Centre (or whatever it’s called).
At midday, I had a shower and chose to wear my jeans because I planned to walk up the street to the newsagent’s and I haven’t used any depilatory products for three weeks. It was hot but I didn’t want to put any of the sidewalk diners off their lunch as I walked by. On the way to the newsagent’s there’s a section of the pathway that pedestrians have to share with some native bees entering their hive. I tend to move as smoothly as possible through the swarm while holding my breath. I haven’t been stung yet, but they don’t seem that way inclined. I bought the newspaper and the latest of the wooden puzzles (Pandora’s Box). On this regular Saturday morning/early afternoon jaunt, I also make a point of stopping in at the organic food store to see if they have any decent specimens of herbs. Often they have enormous bunches of ‘pesto basil’ which just can’t be passed over. They didn’t have any herbs that made me want to break out the mortar and pestle this week, but I got some more olive and thyme bread, which is just about the best bread I have ever tasted; it’s so fruity, in that olive oil kind of way, and is perfect char-grilled and topped with avocado mashed with lemon, sea-salt and cumin. Mmm mmm mmm! I wandered back down the hill and had a look in the convenience store. I noticed that my favourite nudie juices are now sold in the form of ice-blocks. It was only a matter of time before they started turning that juice into other tasty products. Once, I was going away for a few days and I didn’t want to waste my fire-fighter’s (raspberry and cranberry) nudie so I put it in the freezer. After I returned home, I had myself a fire-fighter slushy and a new, personal nudie ritual was born. The ice-block isn’t quite the same thing, but it’s still a good thing.
In the spirit of embracing relaxation, I bought the Who magazine for a gossip update. I really wanted to find out about Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban who were on the cover of another magazine (along with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes), but I didn’t want to buy an old magazine. I thought Who would also contain information on Nicole and Keith, but it didn’t—but, alas, plenty on that weirdo misogynist Tom. I guess I also thought that Who was slightly less salacious, but I don’t know why that would make a difference to me; I can’t bear the holier-than-thou attitude they adopt towards other magazines in their ‘Fact or Fiction’ section. The quotes they get from the stars’ publicists are moronic. Do they know what business they’re in? I guess even for the most ardent fan of popular culture those old binaries hold sway; I wonder if there’s anything I can take to get over that impulse? Anyway, it looks like the kids from the Mousketeers are all grown up. Christina Aguillera got married. Britney’s brought a new person into the world and, thankfully, has chosen a name that won’t require a cryptologist to spell or decipher: Sean. How refreshingly level-headed of Brits and Kev.
There were some gratuitous shots of Simon Baker in his Speedos, which I might have to save for Dr H. Apparently Baker and his wife have moved back to Australia. Will our industry give him a decently written role such as the character he played in The Guardian? Not likely, especially when Channel Ten ripped that program from our screens without a word of explanation, even ignoring mine and Dr H’s specific phone enquiries. In my opinion Baker’s character, Nick Fallin, was one of the most finely wrought characters of our time. He wasn’t completely likeable—his day job was as a corporate lawyer—but not in a Tony Soprano kind of way. I mean, Tony Soprano is a psychopath and therefore completely irredeemable, while Nick Fallin was the product of a neglectful childhood and self-absorbed parenting techniques. He was a functioning human being with the ability for compassion, and he had a lingering drug problem. But the facet of his character which I found most compelling was his anger. He didn’t kill people. He threw the occasional mobile phone, and once got into a scuffle with a man who stole his car park. Well actually, his father initiated that assault, but when Nick joined in, after first trying to protect his father, his involvement was not an expression of hatred towards the man he was assaulting, but a release of so much pent up anger and frustration at a whole range of the things. I suppose what I think made the character so much an expression of the zeitgeist was that he was an angry man in a suit. We’re so used to seeing young men in baggy clothes and baseball hats worn backwards—or mobsters—perpetrating violent crimes in film and television, which we can interpret as an expression of anger at social disparity or an abusive mother, but the not so uncommon rage of the apparently respectable citizen has never been so finely explored. One of the best series of scenes ever in The Guardian was when, after the phone throwing incident, Nick was court ordered to see a psychiatrist for three appointments. He attended each appointment but sat across from the psychiatrist and couldn’t have uttered more than five sentences in all three sessions. Tell me that’s not writing (and performance) genius.
On Sunday, I went, as planned, to breakfast and browsing for wedding ideas. At breakfast I began by perusing the double-side menu devoted entirely to coffee—you have to love such dedication to a beverage—before ordering my usual, a flat white; very adventurous. I had something called ‘patate di ...?’. I’m not quite sure of the name, but it was basically chips cooked with scrambled eggs, which was described as a classic Italian breakfast. I added sides of tomato and mushrooms. V had a crepe with bacon, caramelised bananas and maple syrup. Then we hit the wedding hyper-plaza. I may have made it sound bad, but it was far less painful than either of us anticipated. Did you know you can get little miniature models done of the bride and groom sitting in a fancy car? There were some examples of little people wearing spectacles driving away in matrimonial bliss. Heh. I came to the conclusion that the wedding warehouse could easily be renamed ‘2001 Ways with Vellum’. The wedding stationery business is huge.
After collecting a library of pamphlets, we headed off to one of the shopping centres on the south-side of Brisbane where V lives. I asked to drop into JB Hi Fi to take advantage of the ridiculously discounted DVD box-set of The Sopranos Season Five. I spent a lot of time touching other box-sets of television series that I love and gasping out loud. I had to rein myself in and remember that Christmas shopping is my budget priority. Even so, I did get to combine the two when I bought the first series of Creature Comforts for my brother-in-law’s Christmas and birthday presents at the ABC Shop. Ahh, the ABC, so satisfying on so many levels. At the shopping centre we dropped into a patisserie where V is considering ordering her wedding cake from. In the interests of research we ate cakes and drank more coffee.
Then it started to storm (I mean, STORM).
We had to go back to V’s to rescue her dog who was outside. Poor little thing. We found him hiding in the garden as far under the eaves as he could squash. Hale had fallen on the way back from the shopping centre and by the time we entered V’s house, the electricity was out thwarting our cravings for a nice cup of tea. We lazed around in semi-darkness and read magazines while 7000 strikes of lighting hit Brisbane and the wind blew the rain until it was flowing horizontally. V asked me if I ate much oily fish since it is apparently useful in preventing every medical condition know to humanity at the moment. I said I ate salmon sushi with salmon roe at least once a week. I recalled that I had left my overhead windows slightly open and hoped the rain was falling in the direction away from my skylight. Taffy the dog took a liking to me and kept licking my hands and chin. I kept saying ‘you’re cute’ to him.
The storm eventually stopped and V dropped me home. A strip of my carpet was slightly wet where the rain had come in, but I don’t think my suburb got quite the lashing that V’s did.
At home, I settled in to eat last night’s left over tuna pasta for dinner—I’d forgotten to mention that in my answer to V’s oily fish enquiry—and watched Da Kath and Kim Code. Noice.