Sunday, January 30, 2011

Predictions update

After 14 hours and 25 minutes of listening pleasure I am finished The Bay. In my last post I made some plot predictions. Anyone who is tempted to read The Bay STOP HERE. I am about to reveal all.




Holly (town newcomer renovating a B&B) will realise she is being a selfish bitch by moving to the Bay when she should be supporting her husband Andrew (property developer who loves making money, ruining natural treasures and shagging his mistress) in Sydney.


Holly leaves Andrew and shacks up with her builder Mitchell. I am disgusted by this plot resolution. Do modern writers have no moral compass?

Holly returns to Sydney and does a leadlighting course to fulfil herself (turns out this is plenty).


Holly is emotionally and sexually fulfilled in her mutually supportive relationship with Mitchell. What kind of message does this send out?

Holly tries to be more alluring to keep her husband from straying.


See above.

Tina (spunky earnest lighthouse ranger) and Eddie (spunky earnest documentary maker) will get it on. Possibly on the lighthouse stairs.


Actually it was at a waterfall and then in the lighthouse.

Billy (possibly not gay hairdresser) and Amber (makes soap, hates her mother) will shack up. Soap and hair make for a great business opportunity.


Apparently Billy is not gay but happily married. Amber becomes even more successful at making soap and it is implied that she will become a millionaire. No man!

Kimberley (concerned mother) either doesn't need a man, or Ashok (Kimberley’s husband who went to India) will return and revert to being Tim, or whatever he was called before.


Ashok comes home. Still called Ashok though. Kimberley becomes more assertive by getting a job at the council and breeching public service values by blabbing confidential information to her friends. This is considered fine.

Bonnie (went crazy when her husband left her for his secretary. Has a daughter and a shop) will get a man who hasn't been introduced yet.


No man! Bonnie becomes less crazy and uses this new skill to help other people be less crazy too.

Bonnie will start being nicer to her shop (too late for daughter).


Daughter burnt to a crisp in a house-fire. Bonnie is sad but soon feels strong enough to start being nice to her shop on a part time basis.

That's only 3/8 but no wonder I was confused. Not everyone gets a man! Very confronting stuff.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Bay

Getting deeper into The Bay now. The story is set in an idyllic spot in in NSW where alternative lifestyles are embraced and nasty shark-like developers circle trying to build high-rise on the foreshore. Apparently it's Byron Bay.

Intially I thought that 14 CDs at an hour a disk might be too much. But to give Di Morrissey her due I am hooked and powering through it. Up to disk 5 and I can't see myself stopping.

One of the most interesting aspects is who is going to get together in the end.

These are the main characters.

Holly: A Sydney socialite mother for 20 plus years she has just moved to the Bay to try to make something of herself at last. She bought an old house and wants to rennovate it and open a B&B.

Mitchell: Older gent. Spunky, but technically unqualified builder. Has a deep sense of purpose and spirituality in renovating Holly's bed and breakfast. Meets Holly on the beach where their dogs get along famously.

Andrew: Holly's husband. Wants to ruin the Bay by building a resort on the foreshore. Having an affair. As he says to his mistress,"We know exactly what the world is all about these days. Grabbing life by both hands and having a ball. Consolidating our futures as winners in the new economic era."

Plot prediction
Holly will realise she is being a selfish bitch by moving to the Bay when she should be supporting her husband in the new economic era. Returns to Sydney and does an leadlighting course to fulfill herself (turns out this is plenty). Tries to be more alluring to keep her husband from straying.

That much is obvious. Moving away from the main protagonists though it all gets a bit murkier. Here are sub-characters.

Amber: Makes soap. Troubled past?

Billy: Hairdresser. Might not be gay. (I was putting on the washing and missed his introduction to the story.)

Eddie: Very spunky film maker going around the Bay looking for stories and scoping the chicks. Has a bitch of an ex-wife who just doesn't get what he's on about.

Tina: Lighthouse park ranger. Climbs the stairs everyday, which keeps her toned for Eddie to perve on.

Kimberley: Concerned mother. Her husband changed his name to Ashok and moved to India.

Bonnie: Crazy lady. Her husband ran off with his secretary so Bonnie decided to become a mad, drug crazed lady. She owns a daughter and a shop and doesn't look after either of them.

Plot predictions

It's all a bit tricky because there don't seem to be enough men to go around. But this is my best guess:
  • Tina and Eddie will get it on. Possibly on the lighthouse stairs.
  • Billy and Amber will shack up, (if Billy isn't gay). Soap and hair make for a great business opportunity.
  • Kimberley either doesn't need a man, or Ashok will return and revert to being Tim, or whatever he was called before.
  • Bonnie will get a man who hasn't been introduced yet. She will start being nicer to her shop (too late for daughter).
We'll see.

Sporting Glory and Rabbit Proof Fence

We headed to Inverloch this weekend for some sport. I participated in a very windy 10km beach run and my partner did an ocean swim. (We are a sports mad fitness couple like Grant Kenny and Lisa Curry ex Curry-Kenny nee Curry, except not divorced yet.)

Needing a cassette based story tape for the car (and one that wouldn't shit my partner to tears) I borrowed Rabbit Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington/Nugi Garimara read by Rachael Maza.

This was top story tape selection. Not only is the story itself gripping but I felt like I was learning something. And something important too. Listening to the tape I realised that I haven't engaged with many stories about the stolen generations in Australia. This book helped me imagine how I would feel if it happened to me.

Also, in case you're wondering just how glorious our sporting achievements were, let's just say that we both saw a bit of the podium. From the crowd during the presentations. Not to worry. We are friends with the girl who came third - reflected glory!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The joy of being annoyed

I've just started listening to The Bay by Di Morrissey read by Kate Hood.

I've listened to a couple of other books by Di Morrissey on story tape. I found them extremely irritating. I've chosen to borrow another one because I enjoy being annoyed. It is fun to shout, "No-one describes their own house as a mansion!" or, "Vexed exposition!" or, "I hate you all!"

Unfortunately, I have never been able to convince my partner to join me in this activity at home. Not only does he not enjoy being annoyed by bad story tapes, but he acts like story tapes in general are annoying. (I say "act" because this is clearly not true. Story tapes are great. Everyone loves them because they are so great.)

At the other end of the spectrum, my sister has jumped back on the story tape train and is listening to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday. She says it is very good. Her partner has been sucked into it too, so she has to wait for him to come home before she can listen to it.

At least I don't have that problem.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Two words!

I've just read What is Property by Joseph-Pierre Proudhon, which stridently argues that all property is theft.

Proudhon wrote in the mid-19th century and has a flourishing style. In particular, he loves exclamation marks, writing sentences such as, "Days of conflagration and anguish!" He really peaks in brilliance though, with his two word explosions of repulsion. For example, "Deplorable pride!"

You don't see many sentences like that now. But I think there is no better way to decry. Let's take another example. The sentence, "False calculation." sounds like the sort of thing an accountant might write in the margin of a tax return. But the sentence, "False calculation!" suggests an error of mammoth importance, which we will naturally want to get hysterical about.

I also like the economy of this technique. When Proudhon writes, "Debased creature!" in just two words we are left in no doubt that, in his opinion, the way the bourgeoisie are behaving is pretty well not on.

So I would like to see more of the 19th century two-word exclamation of disgust in modern writing. I thought I'd start by describing some of my worst ever story tape experiences using this form. I am not saying that these books are necessarily bad, just that I had a rotten time listening to them.

The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus: Infuriating inaction!

Momento Mori by Murial Spark: Existential calamity!

The Reef by Di Morrissey: Vexed exposition!

The Clicking of Cuthbert by PG Wodehouse: Interminable golf!

The Daredevil Tycoon by Barbara McMahon: Total crap!

So I recommend that you have a go yourselves. It's fun. Wretched abacus! (That one doesn't make sense, it just sounds right).

Friday, January 14, 2011


Last night I was listening to Things to Make and Mend while cooking tea. I took the bin out and forgot to take my keys. I was locked out. It was raining. Fortunately I was able to follow someone back into the apartment building. I went up to my apartment and sat on the floor near the door.

I had half an hour to wait until my partner was due home.

Things to Make and Mend was tantalisingly close through the locked door but I couldn't get at it. I had no entertainment. I sat on the carpet, did some stretches, listened to the rain and the trains and thought about the Queensland floods. I was surprised how quickly the time went sitting quietly by myself.

Also, the kitchen didn't burn down so that was good.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Twee Update

My fears that Things to Make and Mend would be twee have been proved unfounded. In fact, this story tape is delightful. Finty Williams, despite her reasonably twee name, is a great reader and Ruth Thomas has written a great book. I am very happy I still have four CDs to go.

On Sunday night I did make muffins while listening to Things to Make and Mend (after initially deciding not to because it would make me twee and hypocritically so, but you can't live your life like that). This was hard work as we didn't have many of the ingredients called for by the recipe. But I substituted like a bastard and the muffins are now delightful too. I have taken one to work every day this week.

So basically it is all lovely twee-smuggedy smugjoy in my little corner of the forest at the moment.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Making and mending and being twee

I've just started listening to Things to Make and Mend by Ruth Thomas read by Finty Williams.

It's a story about craft and friendship so I am concerned that it might be twee. I have a highly developed (and perhaps somewhat arbitrary) twee-dar.

I first started dismissing people/films/art movements with this word after interviewing a potential housemate for a sharehouse. I had a vague sense of dislike for the girl, which became a pounding hatred when she said that she enjoyed riding her bike through a local park while drinking a coffee.

Riding a bike while drinking a coffee. Seemingly a lovely activity? NO. It is not lovely. Drinking a cup of coffee can be lovely. Riding your bike through a park can be lovely. Doing both of those activities at the same time is NOT LOVELY. Your lips would be burned while going over bumps trying to take a sip. You would spill coffee on your clothes. You may not be able to brake in time to avoid small children, Frisbees or homeless people. It is a dangerous, silly activity.*

So either this girl was a liar or, my preferred theory, she did ride through the park drinking a coffee simply for effect, not for enjoyment.

So I vetoed this girl at the interview. Other housemates said, fine, but you need a reason. I said she was twee, they all agreed and we moved on.

Since then, I have always been on the lookout for people who do "lovely" things just to seem like someone who does lovely things. This is my personal definition of twee. Although, to be honest, I actually use the word twee to slag off anything nice that I don't like.

Anyway, due to the title, Things to Make and Mend, I briefly toyed with the idea of making some muffins while listening to the story tape. But that would definitely be twee.

* Slightly worried that I might be wrong. Have not actually tried to drink coffee while riding a bike. If it is, in fact, a lovely activity, I am very sorry to potential housemate. I hope you found somewhere nice to live with a window box and gingham curtains.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Keith Richards' autobiography Life was amongst the Christmas loot in our house and I've been reading it agog. Very interesting times indeed.

Following the trend for celebrity narrators for blockbuster books, the audiobook of Life is read by Johnny Depp. You can listen to a sample here.

I dunno. It's alright.

I think this introduction read by Keith himself is more exciting.

Anyway, I've realised that I was amused rather than shocked when Keith Richards revealled many intimate details about his relationships in the book. Whereas, when I listened to Cleaving I was shocked that Julie Powell wrote so openly about her marriage breakdown and affair. This looks like a double standard - I think it's okay for a man to write gleefully about fucking up relationships and being an idiot (with only token regret expressed) but I feel a ripple of moral outrage when a woman does the same thing. Something to think about.

On the other hand, Keith Richards is older and can get away with quite a bit of "It was a long time ago and I was on drugs".

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project

After listening to Julia & Julia and Cleaving I have become a bit obsessed with all things Julie Powell. My main hobby is now reading bad reviews of Cleaving but I am also enjoying following the Lawrence/Julie & Julia project. Lawrence is watching the movie of Julie & Julia every day for a year and blogging about it.

By reading his blog I am collectively encouraging him to waste his time, which he could spend more productively on almost anything, but let's say, sorting buttons. However, this blog amuses me and we've got too many people on the planet, so it doesn't really matter if a few of them waste their lives to entertain me. (Also, what is the point of anything, really? Sure buttons look great when sorted by colour in groups of 20 in mini zip-lock bags, but I'm still going to die.)

Of course Lawrence still has almost 11 months to go so the project could become extremely tedious well before November. We'll see.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Something to read on the train

I kept a diary from when I was in Grade 4 to when I was about 22. I've decided to scan my diaries because they're starting to fall apart and the pencil is fading. Also, I would be very upset if they were destroyed in a fire, flood or if our apartment was burgled by robbers with contacts in the black market for mid-90s adolescent angst.

So I've decided to use the New Years long weekend to get the scanning done. I've done Grades 4, 5 and 6, Year 7 and Year 9. Year 8 is too big to fit on the scanner (not to worry, it was a gloomy year - poetry, wandering around cemeteries, Wuthering Heights).

I've continued to listen to The Map that Changed the World as I scan. It's interesting to compare the life of William Smith (author of the first geological map of England) to my own experiences recorded in my diary.

William Smith felt under appreciated and beset by snobs and had to go to debtors prison. I hated myself and almost everyone else and had to go to school. Two peas in a pod! (Strange time travelling pod stretching 190 years.)

In the back of my Year 7 diary I made some predictions about the future lives of people at my school, including this assessment of a friend's future chances:

GM: Junkie, Drugs, Drinking - slight possibility of being a university lecturer.