Strike up the mandolins and commence wild gesticulations.

I’m taking off the dust covers and flinging open the curtains… Light is about to flood into this ol’ blog again (or at least one very similar). Plans are a far advanced for a foray into southern Italy. That’s right, surprisingly not foraying into Venice, the home of our hearts. For our first trip in ages sans children, we’ve decided it’s the heel of the boot for us. Those who’ve followed our journeying over the years will surely not be surprised that we intend to base ourselves in one spot for a couple of weeks and explore the region through the medium of day trips.

Now this isn’t happening tomorrow. We depart on Boxing Day, which is 100 and something days away, but we’ve already booked flights and accommodation, mostly. The bulk of our time in Puglia will be spent in Conversano, near Bari. We will fly into Roma for a couple a’days, then we’ve AirBnB’d a trullo in an olive and cherry grove to act as our base for 19 days. We’ve still got to find a car to hire; book our Roma accommodation for arrival and departure; brush up our Italian to at least basic coffee ordering level; and, save money while watching the euro’s daily fall against the dollar.

Still, there will be a blog, copious Instagrams, much Facebook gloating and many Tweets. We hope to see and eat the delights of cucina povera, drink the vini di Puglia and soak up as much of the culture as we can in our short stay.

This early post is a request for tips from those of you who might know the area or some of its charms. Now is also probably a good time to pop over to the new blog…

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We’re on the eve of departure.

So… we’re at the stage where it’s late at night. We leave at 4:30am tomorrow. I’ve got two half packed bags and I’ve decided that it’s just the right time to write something. Pro-crasti-blogging.

Modern travel is perplexing – no satisfying little booklets of tickets with their multiple carbon copies. It never feels right just printing off a nondescript piece of paper with a ticket number on it – not even a barcode. There’s also the lingering fear of US Customs and the social media horror stories one reads in which hapless travellers are, seemingly, randomly subjected to appalling treatment and then denied entry to the country. I think I’m rambling and I know that if I go to sleep, as I almost certainly will in a few minutes, that I will have one of those running late and missing everything dreams, that always seem so real.

The big bit
The big bit

So long for a while…

1-3/8/1985 Martini – Horsey

August 1985 began as many prior Augusts had – with the horses birthday and my personal favourite, Swiss National Day. Personal favourite because of my heritage. As it happened that a group of my forebears left Switzerland and watchmaking behind in the 1800’s and were drawn, as if by alpen horn to Ma Ma Creek and the stupidly tough life of a selector in black snake country.

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Ma Ma Creek – So like Switzerland

Mistakes of history aside, my diary reports August 1 as also being the opening of a show called, Oflission at Belltower (now the Judith Wright Centre). There had been an Oflate earier in the year at the IMA, so I suspect Oflission was just a cunningly titled sequel. Cunning or not, it was really good according to me. I also seem to have enjoyed the opening night party. Pip and I headed to  Highgate Hill after the opening and spent the rest of the evening with John Caskey on the chat.

Friday was the 2nd of August and brought with it an Order by Numbers and UPU Theatre, La Bamba. Pip and I left the theatre just after interval and headed home – Mr Caskey, I noted, headed to Raymond Terrace for a bike race – he being of the cycling persuasion.

Saturday the 3rd has me riding my bike to work via the New Farm Hot Bread Shop and it’s heavenly attendants. After work, I rode to Triple Zed and produced two spots for our soul-sister station, 2SER-FM’s radiothon.

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Biked it back over the river after the production and up Highgate Hill to Dorchester St to wait for Pip, who soon returned with Liz Willis

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Liz Willis (from a photo by Sue Broadbent)

and we set off to my place, where 17 members of the Cane Toad Times 2nd Collective were gathering, not to discouse on the political situation or the state of the nation, but drink martinis in dainty martini glasses. Helen Hambling and John Stanwell were among the attendant literati and martinis led us to walk to Pasta Joke in Commercial Rd for a fine dinner before Pip and I returned to the relative quiet of Dorchester St.

30-31/7/1985 Today I will learn Italian

You may recall that the root cause of my extraordinary mobility over the these last few weeks in 1985 was due to my mother’s absence in Western Australia and my ability to ‘do’ puppy dog eyes which convinced her to loan me her vehicle while she was away. Well, it was Tuesday 30th July today and time for her return to town and my return to reliance upon my wits, friends and guile to get me places. Oh yes, and my bike!

Having had access to the british racing green Datsun 180B wagon for the last few weeks made me a sure bet to be the meeter-at-the-airport, and so after work I raced to Mt Gravatt to collect my brother, Adrian – then headed to the Ansett terminal at Brisbane airport to meet mother’s 7:10pm fight from Perth.

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No Gateway bridge in those days (though it was under construction), I took the opportunity (using my wits, right) to get dropped at home on their drive back to Morningside.

There’s an obtuse note in my diary today which says, “I started learning Italian today – Sam will help me”. Sam , I assume, was Sam Cutuli, the angelic, 60-something, kitchen-hand at work, who moved at a slow pace but with incredible finesse and efficiency. He once cured a particularly long case of hiccups with, what he claimed was an old Sicilian cure – a teaspoon of sugar with a drop of vinegar on it – and it worked, and still does work, a treat. I didn’t think I ever tried to learn Italian till after I went there. Perhaps it really was the urban gent forming!

Wednesday 31 July is most unusual in this diary’s terms, as I wrote 6 of the 8 lines entered about work and it’s lack of appeal. Apparently my assistants hadn’t come in, which made the day quite difficult and me quite difficult as well by the sound of things…

Here’s a spot I made for Triple Zed on 6 July 1985…

 

28-29/7/1985 Anne Jones and the juicy brain

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The 28th of July was my house-buddy, Anne Jones’ birthday (even in 1985) and celebration was the focus of the day. It may well have been a birthday, but it was also a Sunday and late-rising has always been a Sunday tradition.

The friendship between late rising and Sunday mornings might well have been stretched on this day though – a 10:30am rise is not a good match with a 100 person lunch at 1:30pm. I can only assume it was a busy morning and a booze-filled afternoon. Pip and I snuck off from Merthyr Rd at about 6pm and charted a course for Dorchester St and a quiet evening of recovery.

Monday saw the usual La Bamba meeting at La Boite and I was moved to enter in my diary that Amanda Falconer was “uncharacteristically tame” and allowed the discussion to steam ahead. Sadly, I gave no hints as to the nature of the discussion that were so successfully steaming, but I did record that Anne Jones, Pip and Andrew (now, I’m not sure which Andrew this was – could have been Andrew Raymond) headed back to Merthyr Rd after the meeting and devised a shit-hot show in less than an hour. Oh for those juicy, creative brains to re-emerge!

26-27/7/1985 Sounder than Romeo

Apart from the astonishing revelation that Friday July 26th 1985 was the Darwin Show Day (I guess this was way before we had Darwin Awards), this particular Friday was originally marked in my diary as a La Bamba entirely devoted to a performance orchestrated by the Qld Writers Collective.

However, that was crossed out and replaced with a much more appealling sounding production entitled, Son of Romeo, performed by the entirely more appealling Chris Willems. Another cross out removed me from the role of Stage Manager to that of patron and then another scribble had me in the Box Office with Pip. The show sold out quickly, leaving me in the foyer and unable to see it.

Willems

Monsieur Diary informs me that I was able to see a former girlfriend, from whom I had parted on less than good terms, for a civil chat. (That’s comforting!). With the Box Office came the thankless task of hanging around till the bitter end to clean and lock up.

As night followed day – Saturday followed Friday and I endured another of those Saturday morning shifts in the cellar. I shouldn’t complain, they paid well and it was really very quiet as a rule. After work, Pip and I did a leetle second-hand shopping, on a mission to find a gift for Anne Jones for her birthday. That mission was accomplished with the acquisition of an old lantern slide featuring a hand-painted, HECLA on’t. That slide and a small frame featuring the visage of QEII.

Headed back to Pasta Joke for dinner with Pip and had a pleasant time which apparently featured a confession to the waiter that our meals were only marked as ‘ordinary’. We were rewarded for our honest appraisal with a voucher for complementary meals and I do not recall whether they too were ordinary. Saturday was topped with a movie at home, recorded as having been well enjoyed but which I am entirely unable to recall. I shall enGoogle-ise Sounder at once.

24-25 July Borbotham

So much for me seeking my origins in the mouldy pages of this old diary. July 24th and 25th 1985 are days of incredible lack lustre.

I even told my diary that Wednesday was the most boring of boring days at work and that boringness on that scale was followed by washing my clothes and later the dishes that evening. Excitement machine? I think not. Something however moved me to write a letter to the arts editior of the Courier-Mail – something called ‘David Rowbotham’. Herr Rowbotham is no longer with us having been called to the great editor in 2010, but his legacy of poetry, literary and theatrical critique still stains the era. It seemed that nothing local could ever please him. 0

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David Rowbotham – POET! 

Thursday was not much more exciting than Wednesday. The three Merthyr Rd Amigos hit the heady heights of the Lutwyche late night shopping scene and invested well over $100 on comestables for the week ahead before heading home to a quiet evening.

Well how freakin’ tragic. These are two days in my life that are gone. Disappeared with no visible effect – my Rowbotham rant wasn’t even published.