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Fraser’s Blography

Welcome to Fraser Beath McEwing’s blography, a place where you’ll find lively music reviews, tales of travel, works of fiction, satirical cartoons and the frequent ramblings of a confused mind.

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from Fraser’s Blog

TOUNGETHAID 4

Take it away Frankie . . . ‘And now, the end is near And so I face the final curtain’  In other words, this is the last Toungethaid, because today we do everything backwards, except, hopefully, being marched off the Emirates flight. As far as that matter is concerned,...

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TOUNGETHAID 3

Welcome to sunny Hua Hin where you can laze by the pool or swim in the gentle sea or walk along the beach. Unfortunately, none of these currently applies. Lying by the pool in the rain while your book turns into papier mache has little appeal nor does walking along a...

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TOUNGETHAID 2

Hotel toaster review (see picture below) The Intercontinental Hotel is a great place to stay in Hua Hin. Apart from more light switches than a piano accordion has buttons, the rooms are excellent, along with the food and extra friendly staff. The only flat spot is the...

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TOUNGETHAID 1

Since Michelle and I had taken only an eight-day drop-and-flop holiday in Hua Hin (gulf of Thailand) I had decided not to inflict my travelogues on innocent readers. But the start of it went so off the rails I had to get it down in print. We’d booked a business class...

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YERP 16

Last gasps in Rome Saturday 23 June 2018 I was wrong about our hotel room being the work of the Smart Car designer. I found the real designer (Dr Confineo Shrinkiarie) and the car he designed after he’d finished our room. As you can see, the Smart is quite large...

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YERP 15

YERP 15 Eating disorders We’re busy preparing explanations as to why we’ll be waddling off the plane in Sydney on June 26. There is an irresistible attraction in Italy to putting on weight. This is because the staple food is pasta and even when you’re sick to death of...

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YERP 14

YERP 14 Friday 15 June My career as a fare evader continued yesterday when we took the funicular railway up the side of the mountain to get the aviator’s view of Lake Como. We bought tickets at the base camp office and, as Michelle and I stood waiting in the boarding...

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YERP 13

11 JUNE 2018 It doesn’t get much more luxurious that this at a Mediterranean. After pondering how we should spend our last day in Lerici before going to Lake Como, we decided to have a splurge and go to a beach club. Eco del Mare was rated ‘the best’ by our hotel and...

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YERP 12

  Idyllic Lerici - but a long hike down from the hotel to the action. This was going to be the beach resort part of our trip. We took a car from Modena for a two-hour country drive to Lerici, supposedly a charming, quiet part of the Italian Riviera. Our hotel was...

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YERP 11

Modena Monday 4 June 2018 Modena is how I imagined a gracious European city should be after pausing in this form for hundreds of years. The streets are wide and treelined, with elegantly solid, high ceilinged buildings and mysteriously gardened mansions lining them....

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YERP 10

Friday 1 June 2018 Something not to be missed in Bologna is this statue of a famous magician of the 18thcentury. Deceptivo Conjuroli’s best known illusion was to produce a head balancing pigeon from his apparently empty top hat. Not more food Believe it or not, we...

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YERP 9

YERP 9 29 May 2018 With Venice to return to normal after we leave tomorrow, we had a vaporetto day, in which we rocked and rolled our way around the Grand Canal and other waterways on the pubic water busses. These are long skinny craft with growling diesel engines...

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YERP 8

Venice 27 May 2017 I’m having some personal issues with my beard. First, I’ve had a terse email from George Clooney asking why I’m trying to impersonate him in Venice. I noticed in the royal wedding coverage that he had a beard development similar to my own, (maybe...

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YERP 7

VENICE Thursday 25 May 2018 The FAB glided up the Grand Canal and ejected us, with practised, theatrical regret, in glorious Venice. Our Hotel Savoia & Jolanda sent a man-in-Merc to meet us. He carefully placed our cases in the trunk, drove about twenty metres and...

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YERP 6

Corfu Monday 21 My 2018 Korfooo! as our American sailing friends pronounce it, was a bit of a fizzer. Michelle and I had been coughing for a few days and it reached a point today where Michelle decided to stay state-room bound while I went and ‘did’ Corfu. Trouble...

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YERP 5

Crete May 17 2018 Since it is mandatory to swim in Greek island waters, we took a low-stress day and went by official bus to a quiet little beach not far from the port. There it lay: whiteish sand, still, clear water, a civilised line of sun lounges and umbrellas and...

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Yerp 4

15 May 2018 One of the highlights of this cruise is to sail into Santorini, really a huge, busted up volcano that filled with water when one of its sides blew out a few thousand years ago. The area is still actively volcanic, the most dangerous one being underwater....

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Yerp 3

There is some good news for my Internet connection. Because we’ve got iPhone roaming, we can get a phone signal in some ports and then use the hotspot facility to hook into the Internet. The FAB won’t like it because we’ll dodge the charge. And another personal...

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YERP 2

YERP 2 12 May 2018 Fear not. I won’t deluge you with blography, but we leave Rome tomorrow to board the Floating Apartment Block (hereinafter referred to as the FAB) and whilst at sea will be cut off from the internet. I’ll keep writing, though, so there may be a book...

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YERP 1

This is the beginning of a long journey, because it will last seven weeks - provided I don’t expire from over-eating spaghetti in a tiny restaurant run by a rotund, aproned wife and failed tenor husband. This trip is to Yerp - Greece and Italy to be more exact -...

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Aprilmayhem 21

    Breathe a sigh of relief! I’m about to celebrate my 21st and Aprilmayhem will come to an end. But not quite yet, because Hong Kong is now outside our Langham Hotel window. Down there is food like no other place, Sam, tailor to the rich and royal, Marks and Spencer...

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Aprilmayhem 20

Harvard is America’s most famous university and, in many ways, the most prestigious in the world. It was established by the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1636 under the name ‘New College’ until John Harvard, a not-so -poor clergyman tipped...

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Aprilmayhem 19

Boston couldn’t have been more of a contrast to Havana. Cool, ordered and scholarly, it has a feeling close to home. After the first Uber driver didn’t want to stuff our baggage mountain into his nice car and went away muttering, the second one had an SUV and...

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Aprilmayhem 18

The four-hour road trip to Trinidad, Cuba (as distinct from Trinidad & Tobago) was as bone-shaking as I’d feared. Although we were on the great four-lanes each way, central, national highway for much of the time, our driver had to dodge potholes and broken...

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Aprilmayhem 17

  One of the highlights of visiting Havana is to witness the firing of the nightly canon. Originally it was used as a nine o’clock signal that the town gates would close in one hour – in case you were getting lucky in an out-of-town haystack with a milkmaid and didn’t...

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Aprilmayhem 16

The Internet and Wi-Fi service in Cuba is about where Australia was 25 years ago. Consequently, you don’t see people, especially young people, staring down at their mobile phones most of the time. In a way, that’s refreshing, reminding me of a simpler world and a more...

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Aprilmayhem 15

Going on an enthusiastic recommendation from my friend Peter Stern, we devoted a day to Epcot, a Disney theme park supposedly for adults interested in science, technology and the environment. In reality it is for adults interested in eating, buying Mickey Mouse...

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Aprilmayhem 14

After our near-signup experience with the holiday club we took our hard-won admission tickets to Universal Studios twin theme parks and began another trek through buffeting crowds in 34-degree humid sunshine. Universal is a mammoth money vacuum. Not only does it...

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Aprilmayhem 13

  Orlando is well known for its shopping, especially direct factory outlet stores. We were keen to unload money to this worthy cause, but first we had to check into the Hyatt Place. Our Filipina Uber lady driver had trouble in actually being able to get to the hotel...

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Aprilmayhem 12

While we escaped New York without being mugged, intimidated, or seriously ripped off, the parting at La Guardia was not so pleasing. The place is being rebuilt and is therefore more a massive building site than an airport. We spent our money on a first class fare to...

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Aprilmayhem 11

It’s goodbye Columbus tomorrow – the New York part, anyway. We fly to Orlando where I will attempt to crank up the internet again. Today we went downtown to make two last assaults on our digestive systems and a took a settling tour in between. Russ & Daughters...

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Aprilmayhem 10

  Here I am into double figures already and we’ve only been travelling for less than two weeks. But New York speeds everything up. People walk fast, talk at chipmunk speed and pass money around as though it’s too hot to hold. When we stop in Orlando I hope things will...

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Aprilmayhem 9

  Another have-to-or-you’ll-be-punished place to visit in Appledom is the Empire State Building. But if you go up to its viewing platform you can’t see the building itself because you’re in it. Much better, my friend David Cocks advised, to go up to floor 65 in the...

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Aprilmayhem 8

Our friends Betty and Pete having departed for home in California we were left to fend for ourselves in the Big Apple. A Central Park walking tour seemed like a good idea. For no reason that I could see, it started in the city where a small international gathering of...

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Aprilmayhem 7

  Famous Fat Dave turned out to be not that famous, not that fat, but definitely Dave. With tight rings of brown hair counter-balancing a plush beard, Dave is loud, funny, knows New York like a cabbie (probably because he used to be one) and a tour guide (he used to...

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Aprilmayhem 6

While the Russian Tea Room might sound light weight, it isn’t. The story goes that the original owner of this exotic Russian style restaurant found that his eating house needed renovations but lost control of the budget, especially when it came to covering the walls...

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Aprilmayhem 5

  We returned to the wharf on Saturday morning waving our triumphant tickets for a two-and-a-half-hour cruise around Manhattan Island, joined by 650 other voyagers. Sitting outside so as not to miss anything, we sweltered in unexpected sunshine while the crowd...

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Aprilmayhem 4

Walking and looking Easter brings plenty of people into New York City, even though Good Friday is not a public holiday and Easter Monday is begrudgingly given as a non-religious day off. We hadn’t bargained for the crowds wanting to go to everything we wanted to go. A...

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Aprilmayhem 3

[ Into the maelstrom I felt like the last carriage of a train lumbering along behind our two striding American friends as we began our first money-shedding journey into the bowels of New York. Michelle had pre-purchased New York Passes and all we had to do was go to...

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Aprilmayhem 2

Back in the cave The Langham hotel in Hong Kong, where we spent a night to recover from the first legette, is one of our favourite places. As soon as you walk in it smells familiar and right. There is a reason for that. The entire worldwide Langham group has a subtle...

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April mayhem 1

Getting there is half the hassle This is the first of what may be a big or a small number of travelogues relating to our trip to Hong Kong, New York, Orlando, Boston, Cuba and back to Hong Kong again to get rid of the last of our money if we haven’t done so...

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A shocking admission

    I was at my tennis club a few weeks ago, having a late afternoon drink with other exhausted players when the subject of travel came up. I have observed that when you clearly have one foot in the grave you are expected to tourist-travel until you run out of money,...

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Fraser’s Octemberfest 13

I offered my services as pub pianist at the Shang. The management agreed to pay me a generous performance fee as long as flowers didn’t burst out of the top of the piano and the ‘Peacock of Wrong Notes’ didn’t come and perch on the fence. 30 October 2016  Since...

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Fraser’s Octemberfest 12

October 27 2016 Because the number one attraction in Myanmar is looking at pagodas, temples and monasteries, the visitor quickly becomes overwhelmed by them.  Even as we glide down the Irrawaddy river, stupas arrive and fade along the banks, or sit like random gold...

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Fraser’s Octemberfest 11

Fraser’s Octemberfest 11 One of the blights of exploring developing countries is the endless teams of vendors thrusting clothing and handicrafts under your nose when that’s not what you’ve come to see. But every now and again someone stands out from the vendor crowd –...

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Fraser’s Octemberfest 10

Sunday 23 October Don’s back! He and his wife reboarded up-river from Mandalay where he had been the week’s most exciting case in not just one, but two hospitals. The second hospital called in its leading professor of cardiology and assembled a team of students to see...

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Fraser’s Octemberfest 9

  Thar she blows, the HMS Artist’s Impression, hereinafter known as AIM. Still virtually unmarked and unchipped, this was only her fourth voyage along the Irrawaddy River. The plan is to do 17 cruises a year. You can see Michelle reclining in our balcony on the top...

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Fraser’s Octemberfest 8

To Michelle, one of the highlights of the tour was always going to be a visit to a place called Inle Heritage House, a not-for-profit organisation trying to re-establish the pure breed of Burmese cats. The Kommendant allowed us to take a private day while the rest of...

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Fraser’s Octemberfest 7

The travel company has stuffed us in spades. Our cruise kit with all our documentation and travel advice was delivered to our Sydney home address about a week after we’d left. We’ve had to convince the Myanmar end of the tour that we’re genuine, and not ring-ins...

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Fraser’s Octemberfest 6

Time to forsake the Merriment Hotel, Khao Lak. Tomorrow we take to the skies (hopefully) with Silk Air to go to Yangon, Myanmar, via Singapore. We’ll breakfast at Phuket airport, being careful to avoid Burger King and its dreaded powdered milk. Our last day here was...

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Fraser’s Octemberfest 5

Last night we ate at the Waterfront restaurant. It offered a nice range of conventional dishes. Feeling especially mellow, I ordered a beer to go with my penne pasta. While the beer was standard Singha, the glass it came in had an exceptionally graceful design. We...

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Fraser’s Octemberfest 4

  A tropical holiday in the sun? No, a tropical holiday in the bloody rain and lots of it at the JW Merriment, in spite of this not being the wet season. Owing to the confinement indoors we are preparing for a child revolt. Rain is not what they want. Today’s children...

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Fraser’s Octoberfest 3

  Some of my readers have been asking for my hotel toaster reports. This, then, is the first. I should point out that there was no toaster at the Ambassador airport transit hotel in Singapore. There was no dining room to put one in and no toast captain to maintain it....

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Fraser’s Octemberfest 2

The JW Marriott Hotel could be renamed the JW Merriment Hotel, such is the variety of ways for guests to spend time as they emerge from the 300 rooms jacked up over three levels. The design of this hotel was clearly inspired by water. First, a river system with lakes...

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Fraser’s Octemberfest 1

  I don’t know what day it is. What I do know is that this is the first of my travel tales from Thailand and Myanmar, but the last 30 hours have become a blur, thanks to Singapore Airlines. Our travel plan was: Sydney, Singapore, Phuket, Khao Lak where we would be...

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What an orchestra!

Reflecting the unique nature of the Australian World Orchestra (AWO), its fifth birthday concert on 28  September  in the Sydney Opera House could be reviewed from two different perspectives. Both are worthy of resounding praise.But first, a summary of what this...

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A little too gentle?

After his sensitive and powerful rendition of the Schumann piano concerto with the SSO last week I was looking forward to a sparkling solo recital form Nelson Freire last night – but I didn’t get it. Freire has been, and probably still is, in the top drawer of...

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Boys from Brazil

Not athletes or para-athletes in Rio this time, but a Brazilian conductor and a pianist who, with considerable help from the SSO, produced an outstanding concert in the APT Master Series last night. The conductor was Marcelo Lehninger who, at 37, is in baton world...

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Beware the high-tech shopping trolley

Shopping trolleys have not escaped the march of technology. Once, there was only one model that every retailer used until the Ancient Order of Trolley Shopping Designers produced the one whose wheels clamp themselves on to the moving footway and seem to defy gravity....

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Piano man goes back to school

While I can play the piano, my childhood piano teacher, Miss Bayley, didn’t teach me much music theory – largely because she didn’t know much herself. About sixty years later I decided to correct this by going back to learn theory. But not to Miss Bayley, who would be...

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Oh shit

Somebody recently sent me an email in which a video showed several kilometres of Dubai roadway taken up with identical tanker-trucks all heading out of town. I learned from another friend who had worked there that these trucks were all on their way to sewage treatment...

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An Oresome mistake

It is an accepted fact that fear and greed drive the share market. Other emotions are often mentioned too, but I’ve never heard anybody get a belly laugh out of it. That was until this week where there was an announcement about I share I own called Beacon Minerals.I...

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New moves with medals

Olympic organisers have long known that medal presentations create perplexing problems for the recipients as the media descends on them to create images for a waiting world. There is only so much you can do with a medal on a ribbon without it looking like a set...

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Story of the two bears

My father, especially later in his life, took to collecting stuffed animals that did things. He had a pig that sang, a monkey that alternatively clapped cymbals and screeched, and a Dachshund that sequentially walked, yapped and wagged its tail. As the dog's battery...

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Away in Malaysia

Fraser’s Malaysian Log 2015 Why Malaysia? First, we hadn’t been there - and we like most things Asian. But more to the point, we were looking for The Land of Thin, that magical place where one goes to gain health and lose weight. We were all steamed up for a health...

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The unexpected – and it all worked

SSO Opera House concert 29 June 2016 Staying in familiar territory, but with more ear-challenges than the last APT Master Series concert, the SSO loaded up its heavy artillery for a resoundingly satisfying performance last night. Although orchestral concerts do not...

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Meet my twin brother

  Not many people know that I have a twin brother, Angus. When I came to Australia, Angus stayed behind in Aberdeen. He was a professional gardener,...

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A shocking admission

  I was at my tennis club a few weeks ago, having a late afternoon drink with other exhausted players when the subject of travel came up. I have observed that when you clearly have one foot in the grave you are expected to tourist-travel until you run out of money, or...

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An afternoon with Noah

SSO Opera House concert 22 May 2016 It doesn’t take much imagination to look over the aging sea of regular Sydney Opera House orchestral audiences to know that in 20 years from now the tide could have gone out – never to come back in.That’s why any attempt to...

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The Eiffel Tower puzzle

Here's the solution to the Eiffel Tower puzzle from Adam Exx Leviticus. You might remember that the question was: The Eiffel Tower is 300 metres high. Let’s pretend that you could place it in a totally flat, featureless landscape and that you are standing five hundred...

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The Lang Lang phenomenon

SSO Opera House concert 10 June 2016 After testing recent audiences’ resilience with the lunges and shocks of Messiaen, and then their staying power to see off Haydn’s Creation, last night’s concert opened a chocolate box full of favourite flavours. Billed as ‘Lang...

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The kitchen clock

Since I bought my battery powered kitchen clock more than 25 years ago, I forgave it for eventually running slow and losing time. I concluded that I needed a new one. The outgoing clock was about the size of a dinner plate with a chrome, tubular round frame and...

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The hard men of hardware

I mourned Bunnings’ closure of its hardware store in my suburb because it meant that if I needed (I was tempted to say a screw in a hurry) items for menswork I’d have to go further afield.

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Knitted tops

A department store customer is trying to buy some knitted tops but there is nobody to serve her. She gets some strange advice from a departing shop assistant.

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Black is back

Mrs Broadbeam’s boutique has been wiped out in a fire and now she’s restocking using the insurance payout. But she’s confused about which colour black to buy.

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Have your say or have my say

Here is my email address if you want to say something. If you'd like to receive my Daily Grind observations as they are published give my your email address. It will save you the time of having to come to this website.

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A testing night for some, bliss for others

  Sydney Opera House concert 9 March 2016 The SSO went out on a limb presenting a single work by a contemporary composer for the usually predictable ATP Master Series concert last night.  After a mini-season of Beethoven, Olivier Messiaen’s From the Canyons to the...

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Adam Exx Genesis

Adam Exx: Genesis (Book 1) - the trilogy begins Adam is a successful young Sydney lawyer with a pretty wife and two daughters. His orderly world begins to fall apart one morning when his commuter train stops in a tunnel and everything else stops, too. There is no...

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A night at the pictures

Sydney Recital Hall 15 February 2016 Pictures are what American pianist Ohlsson had in mind for his recital last night, the first of the International pianists in Recital concerts for 2016 in the Sydney City Recital Hall. His program comprised two long works about...

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Adam Exx Exodus

Adam Exx: Exodus (Book 2) continues the epic account of the first man on earth. Adam is trying to lead a fulfilling life as a lawyer, but God-like Nigel Chandler coerces him into joining The Study Corporation, constructing human memory. Adam goes to work in a vast...

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Adam Exx Leviticus

Adam Exx Leviticus (Book 3) joins the dots. The true story of creation is realised. Towering challenges confront Adam as he returns to The Cone where he must decide whether to join the rest of mankind in brainlife or live alone as Sydney decays around him. Adam is...

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The world as its was in 1992

At Lane Cove February 1992 If I had to name a moment when I decided to chuck in my career and start another, it came on a day in June 1989 when one of my favourite advertisers stamped into my Sydney office and cancelled her contract. Bad days were common in the...

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The ultimate pharmacy

My local pharmacy, which used to be piled high with stock, dimly lit and intriguingly multi-scented, closed for renovations brought on, I suspect, by the deluge of cut-price chemists It is now unrecognisable. It has grown to twice it’s old size with the stock in...

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In search of a gym

  The fees for little local gym that I frequent will go up when my so-called ‘membership’ expires in December. The fee direction is in inverse proportion to the standard of equipment. I got on the solitary horizontal bike yesterday to find that it is basically...

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Champagne tasting

A friend invited us to a Champagne tasting recently - not at her house (that would have been really classy) but at a small local wine shop, one of those in danger of strangulation by Dan Murphy but bravely soldiering on in the belief that personality beats price....

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Thus spake Edo de Waart

SSO Opera House concert 25 November 2015 Edo de Waart, who was chief conductor and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra between 1992 and 2003, returned to the Opera House to conduct the final concert in the APT Master Series last night. I found it...

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China and Thailand in 2013

        We'd often hung over the fence in Hong Kong looking at China. Now it was time to visit the giant. After that we planned to carry out some health renovation in Thailand at the famous Chiva Som retreat. Beijing Saturday February 4th 2013 Michelle wangled a...

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