The countdown to Vanuatu is well and truly on … four more sleeps until I climb aboard the big silver, airless tube, eat some very good airline food (no, fair dinkum, the tucker they served last time I flew Air Vanuatu was the best mile-high grub I’ve ever had), the endless bottle of red (ya gotta love that) and finally catch up with “picaninny blong me”. That’s Bislama for my son, Liam.
There are more than 100 Ni-Vanuatu tribes, each with their own culture and language. Estimates of the local languages spoken in Vanuatu vary between 105 and 115.
Any wonder that’s it’s rated as the happiest place on Earth. Just hearing Bislama or reading the various signs around Port Vila makes me smile a lot.
For instance, did you know that Bislama for “bra” is “basket blong titi”? Now you do.
For 15 days and nights, it’s going to be a hard slog given Liam’s message of last week: “We’ve got nothing planned other than to eat (this is definitely going to be a seafood summer as we’ve got a deal with some of the boys that we slip them a 50 every week and they go out and catch us crabs, lobster, squid, fish, etc) sleep, beach, fire, outdoors, sleep, eat and maybe more sleep… Hence the no need to steer, just cruise …” Talking of cruising, the plan for New Year’s Eve is to take a yacht to an island not too far away (it’s uninhabited) and cook some seafood on the beach, wash it down with something good and see in the New Year before sleeping on the beach.
Sounds tough. Eh?
The really tough thing will be not seeing my other son, Joel, for his birthday, which falls on New Year’s Eve. While I’m having dinner with him on Tuesday night, it’s not quite the same as being there with him on his special day. No doubt we’ll toast him on the night.
My good mate, Ben Logan, has snaffled the gig of a lifetime.
He’s a tenor who has done work with Opera Australia … he has a fantastic voice … and he sent me a message earlier in the week to tell me that he’s got the nod to sing Advance Australia Fair (solo) for the start of the Boxing Day Test.
Maybe 90-odd thousand people is a pretty fair audience. I’m sure he’ll nail it for them.
Ben’s company, Logan Musical Events, is producing a series of opera and music theatre concerts in China late in the new year.
On the agenda is the famous Bizet Opera, Carmen , and another concert of classics, such as My Fair Lady, Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables.
The Australian Concert Orchestra will make its international debut and be joined by some of Australia’s best singers from Opera Australia, Victorian Opera and the Ten Tenors.
Ben, who did concerts in China late last year, is also negotiating with David Helfgott to be part of the concert series.
Have a look at Ben’s website at http://3-au.com/loganmusicalevents.com.au/
… he’s got a pretty good thing happening … he can organise almost anything musical.
China looms large and I’m looking forward to it.
Oh, did I mention that I’m going too?
Yeah, I’m gonna be the security element, which basically means that I get to wear a black T-shirt to the opera … I have to look the part. Me, an opera bouncer … who’d have thought it?
A BIG, BUT VERY GOOD WEEK
Given that it’s the silly season, it hasn’t disappointed.
It started a week ago, while I was vacuuming of all things … I had what I best can describe as a life-changing epiphany. It was a very personal thing but it has put me in a wonderful place from which I haven’t detoured (and won’t).
Monday was a hoot at The Weekly Review contributors party at The Carlisle Bar in St Kilda. It was great to catch up with the troops who make working there such a good thing.
I spent to good deal of time having some great exchanges with Rachel Berger, who is funny in the extreme and a bloody nice person to boot (and no, that’s not rhyming slang for anything).
Tuesday was a catch-up for drinks with friends.
Wednesday was lunch with some former and current buddies from The Age … a great afternoon at the Saint & Rogue in the city.
It was good to catch up with some people I haven’t seen for a long time, including Chris (he has a gig at the ABC these days). He sent me an email the next day and it’s one that needs to be shared.
“Sign in my mother's fav coffee shop (wheelchair accessible): ‘Men are like tiles. Lay them right first time and you can walk over them for ever’."
What are the odds that the author was a woman?
Thursday night was the Crikey Christmas party at the Olsen Hotel in South Yarra. The Crikes and Crikettes always put on a good show, which kicked off with a bus to get us all to the venue.
It was a warm night made all the better by being on an open-air terrace (yeah, we could smoke) by the pool.
Everyone got a present (yep, Private Media knows how to look after its staff), there was plenty of good wine (the chardy was excellent), finger food doing its thing and bloody good company.
And I reckon I may have been first onto the dance floor … will wonders never cease?
Friday was the Crikey contributors lunch … but I pulled the pin, given that my liver was trying to punch its way out of my body. Truth was though, that I just had/have shitloads to do to get organised for the trip away.
And the liver didn’t get a complete break. Dinner on Friday was smoked ocean trout, goat’s fetta, greens and good sourdough and a bottle of Dona Pateuno Alvarinho, a cracker wine from Portugal.
Alvarinho is an aromatic crisp, dry, young wine with excellent balance. There’s a bit of citrus happening and maybe some honeysuckle. There’s no oak used in production. And while it’s not exactly a snip at 30-odd bucks, it’s a bloody good drink.
I also had a sniff around some Domaine Marcel Deiss Alsace 2010, which is a super drink, and also some Ceretto Zonchera Barolo 2007, which is a super-duper drink. The Barolo is a special-occasion drink at about $75 a bottle that’s gonna be on the table for the first special occasion I have in the new year, whatever it may be.
HERE’S ONE FOR JASON
I follow Jane Barnes (Jimmy’s missus) on Twitter and the other day she tweeted a site that’s made up of helpful hints.
There are a lot of things on it that don’t make the grade for me, but there’s a couple at least that do, not the least being how to fold fitted sheets.
Crikey deputy editor Jason (aka the town crier on Twitter) apparently cannot fold fitted sheets. Who can? Well on http://www.thedailybuzz.com.au/2011/11/25-clever-ideas_household-tips_storage-ideas/#.TurBR6cyk4O.twitter , there’s a step-by-step guide. Get to it, Whits.
WHAT A WASH
And just to prove a point, yesterday I washed my car for the first time in about two years. It was looking like a Guinness Book of Records entry for the world's biggest collection of cobwebs. I also managed to (sort of) wash my jeans in the process.
Now the car looks a picture. So there.
ME IN A NUTSHELL
- G’day, I’m Michael and I have two fantastic grown-up kids. I’m a jeans and singlet/T-shirt, cowboy boot, tattoos sort of fella, who knows a bit about this and sometimes a lot about that. I'll have a crack at most things, although having a relationship? ... well that ship has sailed. I'm past my use-by date anyway, so I'm gonna make it all about me and surviving life as I know it ... or make it.