Category Archives: friends

Something to watch

Richard Allen twenty-five years ago — he was only in his early twenties then — worked with me on a literary magazine called Neos. He has since, with his wife Karen Pearlman, gone onto other ventures. See

Tomorrow ABC1 is screening their work Thursday’s Fictions at 23.15. There is a trailer for you to see.

A dance-drama by the Australian group The Physical TV Company (Artistic Directors Richard James Allen and Karen Pearlman). This adult fairytale is a story about the transformative power of beauty, set in a magic realist world where each character is named for a day of the week. The ATOM Award-winning film was recently described as “the Pan’s Labyrinth of dance…no less than a work of genius…Quite simply…the best piece of cinema I’ve seen this year” (Chris Docker, Eyeforfilm).

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Posted by on November 7, 2009 in friends


Instead of the planned post

Being at M’s waiting for his new water heater, I haven’t had time to write the deep and meaningful post I planned. 😉

Instead, reflect on what this tells you about cultural adaptation in our wonderfully cultural plural country Australia:

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M grew up in Shanghai. See also Memorabilia 20: M and William Yang.


Indian students, racism, theatre news

Given recent concern over attacks on Indian students in Melbourne and Sydney it is fitting that Sydney’s newest theatre company, The Alex Buzo Company, is mounting two plays in August at The Seymour Centre: Buzo’s Norm and Ahmed (1968) and Alana Valentine’s Shafana and Aunt Sarrinah. The first Sydney production of Norm and Ahmed made history. Not long before his untimely death in 2006 Alex Buzo told ABC what happened.

ALEX BUZO: Those words, I mean sorry, the first word, had been used in a lot of overseas plays and so I just assumed it was OK, it was legal.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: It had been said on stage?
ALEX BUZO: Yeah, it had been said on stage. But because it happened in an Australian play, there was a double standard and they thought it was shocking and the actor was arrested and eventually exonerated.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Yes indeed, the whole matter was actually quashed by the Attorney-General. But there was some… there was a bit of a drama to go through until that happened, when the charges were laid and Graeme Blundell and Lindsay Smith were charged with obscenity. There was a great deal of discussion about it in the press.
[VT] Did it dishearten you?
ALEX BUZO: Well, I had actually been boasting in private that my aim as a writer was to put Australian drama on the front page. I didn’t anticipate this sort of front page treatment but, I thought it did have a good result in the sense that people knew that Australian drama was alive and well, whereas up until that point it had no publicity whatsoever, so it did have positive things. On the other hand it was very draining for the actors to go to the Magistrates Court and then the Supreme Court and then it went eventually to the High Court in Canberra. So, it certainly was a wearing process but it did have its upside.
VIRGINIA TRIOLI: In a sense looking back on it, it’s a little disheartening, I guess, that the fight all the way through the courts had to be about two words, had to be about a swear word, rather than something a heck of a lot more important than that. I mean, you can imagine going to the courts in defence of art, but something much more important than just those words.
ALEX BUZO: Yes, I mean, I’d be disappointed if people didn’t think the play had something to say about racism and generational envy. But it is a literary play, it is an art play, it’s meant to be humorous and imaginative, it’s meant to have other things going for it other than the final two words.

I was fortunate enough to meet Alex Buzo on several occasions, most memorably when I played a Rugby League commentator in his The Roy Murphy Show for the Balmain Theatre Group in 1978.

I also see Alana Valentine quite frequently as we have some common interests. I shall go to this double bill if I can possibly do so.

Meanwhile around 4 am on Sunday a couple of Indian students were bashed on Bathurst Street near George Street Sydney. This isn’t surprising, unfortunately, as parts of George Street are notorious for this kind of thing especially in the small hours of Saturday nights and Sunday mornings. I would hesitate to wander there myself. The assailants were respectively 16 and 17.

It is pleasing to note The Times of India reporting on 28 June Indians in Australia are safe.

Australian scientist Jose (Jimmy) Botella, who is attending a three-day international conference hosted by Vinoba Bhave University in Hazaribag, on Sunday said that Indian students in Australia are safe and that reports about repeated attacks on them in Melbourne and Sydney have been blown out of proportion by the Indian media. Botella said that Melbourne and Sydney are cities like Delhi and Mumbai in India where criminal activities are no exception. "This does not mean that Australians are indulging in a hatred war against Indians. In fact, Indian students are very bright and intelligent and Australians like them for this quality."…

True enough. See also Delegation tries to allay ‘racist’ attack fears.

There is, however, another basis for complaint. Some of the “private colleges” students might be lured to are store-front operations of dubious pedigree. Students should conduct careful checks preferably with recognised education sites and the Australian Government before enrolling.

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Posted by on June 29, 2009 in Australia, Australia and Australian, current affairs, education, events, friends, OzLit, racism, South Asian



Shakespeare Hotel: Rabbit and Sirdan

That is the company at Sunday Lunch; the menu you may divine from the plates. As generous a $10 worth as you could hope for…


Ran into Richard Allen and Karen Pearlman later at the new Surry Hills Library. And their two children! Richard was one of the editors of Neos.

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Posted by on June 21, 2009 in Australia, friends, local, personal, poets and poetry, reminiscences, reminiscing, Sirdan, Sunday lunch, Surry Hills


End-game in Sri Lanka

It appears the military phase of the dreadful civil war in Sri Lanka is virtually over. The origins of that war do seem to have been in a series of genuine grievances. I saw this at a micro level at SBHS in the late 90s and early 2000s. Tamils, mostly of Sri Lankan origin, were in the top five language groups – way behind Chinese though. I taught a class that had a small group of Tamil Tiger supporters – that is, they were at about age 14; by age 17, as one of them told me, they had been turned off by the suicide bombing tactics and general terrorism of the Tigers, though still supporting the Tamil cause. He drew parallels with the IRA.

It isn’t my purpose today to go into this awful post-colonial conflict, except to note the civilian cost has been horrendous and continues to be so.

600_SRL_200511_WFP-Nick_Keyes_0004 Rather I remind you that fellow blogger Peter Voegtli (Worldman) is now in the thick of it. Having come out of retirement after returning from Darfur, Peter, now 66, has gone to Sri Lanka as part of the UN World Food Programme effort (pic on right).

In his latest Twitter Peter reports: “WE WILL HAVE 20’000 REFUGEES TODAY TO FEED. A BIG THING! — 11:31 AM May 16th.”

I also find it interesting that in the midst of all this Peter still posts, when he can, his wry and often very interesting memories and observations, and reads the posts of those of us he follows. His latest entry (17 May) is about trolley buses: Hello Old Fart, Hello Thom. I can’t help thinking that some who favour deadly serious blogs that “change the world” and pooh-pooh the personal and trivial as an abuse of the blogosphere should note Worldman’s blog and think about his context. I commend Peter’s sense of balance, and rather envy it, I have to say. His optimism is a tonic and an example to us all. I am very happy to have made his acquaintance via the Net.

Spare a thought for Peter and the organisation he works with, and spare more than a thought for the people of Sri Lanka.


Sunday Floating Life photo 15: Sirdan surveying scene

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Posted by on April 26, 2009 in friends, photography, Sirdan, Sunday photo


Breakfast in Glebe

I used to live in Glebe, but it is a very long time since I have breakfasted there. That I did so today is thanks to Matt da Silva, who made the arrangement through Facebook – where my grand-nephew has just added me as a friend. :)  A generation ago Matt used to work with me on Neos – and we haven’t seen one another since!

I left my camera at home. What a shame!

Joining us was writer Tony Macris, a friend of Matt. Tony now works at UTS, and some of the talk was about this news.

Later we dropped into Gleebooks. I didn’t buy anything; I am after all a pensioner. But I was tempted. I did have a chat with David Gaunt, one of the proprietors, and was very sorry to hear of the tragic death last year of the wife of Roger Mackell, the other founder of Gleebooks. I have known David and Roger for around thirty years.

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Posted by on February 21, 2009 in Australia, Australia and Australian, friends, local, OzLit, personal


Very rare and special: pics from M’s Chinese New Year Party 3

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Posted by on January 25, 2009 in Australia and Australian, Chinese and China, events, friends, M, multicultural Australia, personal, Surry Hills



Very rare and special: pics from M’s Chinese New Year Party 2

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Posted by on January 25, 2009 in Australia and Australian, Chinese and China, events, friends, local, M, multicultural Australia, personal, Sirdan, Surry Hills



Very rare and special: pics from M’s Chinese New Year Party 1

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Posted by on January 25, 2009 in Australia and Australian, Chinese and China, events, friends, local, M, multicultural Australia, personal, Sirdan, Surry Hills



Christmas Day in Surry Hills and East Redfern

I refrained from taking photos of the little gathering at M’s place – just G, M, Sirdan, A (a Japanese friend of M) and I. It was however a very pleasant day. Sirdan stayed on longer and had, he tells me, a lovely time, while I left a little earlier to accompany G to Central Station.

I did take some pics of M’s garden balcony.

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And on the way back home from Central took one of Elizabeth Street Surry Hills, which you could call “the Christmas Day effect”.

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Only on Christmas Day are the streets of Surry Hills so free of traffic!

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Posted by on December 26, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, events, friends, local, M, multicultural Australia, personal, Sirdan, Surry Hills


To Sirdan’s new flat…

Sirdan recently moved, thanks to his great good fortune a year ago, into his own brand new apartment in deepest Rosebery. So today I went there for the first time, taking the 343:

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The redevelopment of this area, once purely industrial, is quite amazing. So many people are moving there. One can only be dumbstruck by the short-sightedness of past governments, however, as here we have a derelict hospital. I suppose they hope/hoped for megabucks from developers…

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Sirdan’s place is pretty ultra…

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Sirdan and his mum at Chinese Whisper

Bit of a special Sunday lunch, as Sirdan’s mother is over from South Africa.

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She enjoyed our Surry Hills food.

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Posted by on November 2, 2008 in Africa, Australia, friends, local, peace, Sunday lunch, Surry Hills


Passing on a bit of culture for tonight

Got this from Richard Allen.

If you can, get along to ACER Arena this Sunday Oct 19th for the ARIA Awards.  Or tune in at 7.30pm on Channel 10.

Richard James Allen, Co-Artistic Director of The Physical TV Company, has choreographed the backup singers/dancers for the live performance of “This Heart Attack”, nominated for Best Single of the year, from the album Be the Twilight, nominated for Best Rock Album of the year, from Faker, nominated for Best Group of the year!  The backup singers/dancers are: Cecilie Farrar, Kathleen Hoyos, Katerina Rajch, Grace Stewart, Elanor Jane Webber and David Whatson.

Richard also choreographed Luke Eve’s music video for Faker’s latest single, “Sleepwalking”.  Click here to view on YouTube.

Click here to visit the Physical TV website and click here to view other PTV dance films and music videos on YouTube.

Richard many years ago worked with me on the young writers’ magazine Neos.

I will be watching The First Australians on SBS from 8.30…

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Posted by on October 19, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, creativity, friends, music, poets and poetry, TV