Liam and I recently had breakfast with the mother of my children and her husband at a café around the corner from home. It was a beautiful clear sunny day (singlet weather for me although most around me were rugged up) and the coffee was doing its thing before the bacon and eggs made their appearance.
We were just shooting the breeze, having a quiet cigarette (yeah, all four of us smoke) when I watched a bloke set up a camera on a tripod, point it at us and start to snap away. No, no, I thought, at least come and ask permission.
Up I got and marched over to him, standing as tall and puffed up as I could muster, and said: “What’s the story, mate? I don’t like the fact that you’re taking pictures of us.” He said: “It’s OK, I work for the council. I’ve been told to blur all the faces anyway.”
“No, it’s not OK. I don’t give a fat rat’s arse that you work for the council or are gonna blur the faces. Just stop pointing that thing at us.” “I’m almost finished,” he said. “No,” I said, feeling my joie de vivre draining rapidly, “you are finished.”
Our waitress, Pru, suggested that I should let him do his thing. “Settle down, Michael,” she said. But I fired back: “No. Don’t people understand that it’s manners to ask? Don’t people understand that they may appear in some council initiative, linking them to something that they’re opposed to? Don’t people understand that there may be people who don’t want their whereabouts out there, blurred face notwithstanding? It’s not that hard.”
The bacon and eggs were good.
A GREAT COMEBACK
It was a comeback of sorts this week when I headed to my favourite bar, Lina’s, for a bite to drink with some friends I haven’t seen for a couple of years. It’s also probably three weeks since I’ve been to Lina’s, which has gotta be a record.
My friends Jules and Diane and their teenage kids Flynn, Ollie and Gina (I haven’t seen them since they were little tackers … there’s still a picture of the family on my fridge) were in Melbourne for a family wedding. Another friend, Libby, and my son, Liam, rounded out the numbers.We set out to diminish Lina’s supply with a couple of bottles of Bowen Estate shiraz, along with some Stefano Lubiana Tasmanian pinot and M. Chapoutier Côtes-du-Rhône grenache syrah. Yeah, it was good to be back.
The food did its thing as well. Piadinas and bowls of fries with garlicky aioli kept the kids quiet for a short time (young Flynn, 16, has a huge appetite … reckon he’d join the Taliban if it made its own smallgoods) before we put Raf, the chef, to the test. Eye fillet steaks (I had mine served rare, when it almost still had a pulse), beef daube, penne with broccoli and chilli were the mains, with sautéed silverbeet with fetta and pine nuts, more fries and cauliflower segments crumbed and flash fried, were on the side. Chef Raf, he’s a good mate, was on song.
And what better way to finish a meal than with a cheese platter that included, among others, Le Delice triple French brie.
It was a great catch-up with Jules (he owns a nickel mine in South America), who let drop a couple of revelations. “Early days, when I was a geology student I used to hang with a few musos, Stevie Wright [of the Easybeats] in particular. I even went water skiing with the boys from AC/DC.” My flabber was gasted. “I even spent an afternoon with Tiny Tim, who very proudly showed me a picture of Miss Vicky, who later became his wife.”
Just when you think you know someone, he drops something like that into the conversation.
As the visitors headed for the burbs to prepare for the wedding, Liam, a friend Danielle, and I had one more M. Chapoutier Côtes-du-Rhône grenache syrah for the road, before I grabbed a bottle of same to take home as company for a few hours of watching the cricket from England.
Like Australia, I collapsed not too long after.
CRUNCHY GRANOLA … SWEET
My friend, Jane, made good her word last week, and delivered to me a container of her homemade granola, complete with a lovely ribbon around the container.
It was just brilliant. I’ll see during the week and get her recipe and post it here somewhere. It’s to die for with some natural yoghurt.
And on the subject of gifts, my friend Dave from Swords Wines, gave me a bottle of really tasty onion jam. A woman with a shop near his home makes it. Every time cheese gets front and centre at my place (and that’s regularly), so does the onion jam.
FREEZER A JOLLY GOOD …
Given that my son, Liam, has such a voracious appetite, keeping the freezer stocked is becoming increasingly difficult.
I spent a whole afternoon, making litres of vegetable soup (with a bit of slow-cooked beef as company in it) and a huge pot of spag bol sauce. I gave the container supply a good workout and finally ended with 20 meals in the freezer, not that I expect it to last any length of time. It’s off to the market again (when I finish this post) to restock.
I saw my tattooed homeless mate again the other day near my office. He was sitting on a bench in the sunshine having a takeaway coffee.
I had a rummage through my pocket and got a few bucks in change to give him. His face lit up and he said: “Thanks Paul.” OK, so now I’m either Roy, Ray or Paul. Then he said: “When I get my social service money next week, I’ll by a couple of scratch lottery tickets. If I win something, I’ll give you some.” Then my face lit up.
He’s got a warm side … perhaps if the locals, who ignore him because of his facial tattoos, got to know him, they’d take better care of him.
Me? I’m just waiting for my next name installment.
IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT
After a shitty day at the office (and there aren’t too many. It’s a great place to work), I usually head home – it’s about seven minutes from the office – and ease a cork out of a bottle of red. A sort of stress buster, if you will.
Last Wednesday (it had been a rare shitty day), instead of the vino, I grabbed a mate, Kris, and headed to the local driving range, bought a bucket of 100 balls and, armed with a one wood, a five iron and a pitching wedge, I distressed in the best possible way. Along the way I hit quite a few shockers (it’s been a few months since I picked up a club), but especially with the wood, I creamed a few right up the guts.
Exercise, a bottle of water and some fresh air (OK, it was bloody well freezing), and I could get used to it on a weekly basis.