Monday, March 30, 2009

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - finally

So, through a series of well-planned in-car discussions, I finally convinced the kid that I should read him The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. And already, at the end of chapter four, I am not sure it was such a good idea.

He has already been near-tears at Edmund's behaviour and is coming up with his own version of a twelve-step program to reduce Turkish Delight addiction. He is concerned that Edmund will do something evil before he can get out of the clutches of the witch (but he has no doubts that Edmund will go back to the side of Good before the end). He has been concerned that the Wardrobe door will close, and leave all the children stranded in Narnia forever. Before Peter and Susan have even got there at all.

I am somewhat concerned with what is going to happen with the whole stone knife thing (Edmund and Aslan moments). And for me it has always been very worrying about the little bush-land family eating their Christmas dinner who get turned to stone. Does Aslan turn them back before he leaves, or are they sitting there still, forks raised?

So I'm thinking there are more tears and anxiety ahead. And perhaps I am a bad mama. But I hope it's worth it, and that the avid excitement he also feels is the emotion he remembers when we have finished.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Explosionist

I finally got it last week. It's by Jenny Davidson, who is over there on the links list as Light Reading. She's a person I don't know at all, except she seems to be living one of my fantasy lives. What with being in New York and being a writer of young adult fiction and teaching literature at a proper university and such like things. Also, she seems to eat at some damn fine restaurants, which I wouldn't say no to as a general thing.

But back to the book. For unknown reasons it doesn't seem to be generally available in Australia. Or at least, not where I could find it. It ought to be, because it is an ace story of adventure and horrifying horrors, set mostly in Edinburgh. The main character, Sophie, seems not to get to eat in nice restaurants, but has bigger problems. One is that in her universe Napoleon won the Battle of Waterloo, and Europe is quite hostile to the northern states, which maintain shaky kind of independence by manufacturing dynamite, when obviously no one in their right minds would do anything so risky (!) Sophie also has an aunt with highly dubious opinions (and not just on weight issues and the appropriateness of wearing Mickey Mouse jumpers). And someone is blowing stuff up all over the place.

There is, however, hope for Sophie's diet in the future, and also on the plus side there are trams.

I can't wait to read the next one, and I keep wondering how Sophie is going to extract herself from the remarkably difficult situation she finds herself in. And I'm looking forward to meeting the brain in the jam jar.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hum - honesty is the best policy?

Sometimes people that you used to know come to your attention in the strangest ways.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Puppet v puppet master

So I finished reading the Guardians. Why on earth does Rob not choose to become an evil guardian puppet master? For one thing, he would have been a much more useful revolutionary if that was his thing, and he would have been able eat the nice cheese as well. Instead off he goes, under the damn fence, back to the noisy world of processed food. Oh the evils of the guardians, insisting on more than half of the population eating processed food. Have they not heard of Jamie Oliver? Oh waily waily waily*.

Heavens to murgatroyd, young people and writers for young people are so damnably uncompromising. And humourless apparently. I'd forgotten how humourless that whole post-apocalyptic genre can be. Does no one fall down on banana skins in the bleak future of England?

*Yes, last week I read of The Wintersmith. Lots of waily waily waily. It's given me something to say when the Noodle is feeling uncooperative. It annoys him very much, especially when it makes him laugh instead of sulking.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lifeline saves our sanity

Not so much the telephone counselling, but the glories of the Lifeline bookfair.

The Noodle did not wish to go. He made this abundantly clear. For a generally polite and considerate fellow he can surely pack a massive wallop of sulky bad behaviour when he feels the need. But the parents won the day (huzzah) because the child was dragged to the showgrounds with his lower lip scraping along the floor. And even better, he came home with a substantial haul of second-hand novels and one excellent John Nicholson book on Australian housing.

I myself scavenged a few of the 1970s and 1980s kids paperbacks that I don't already have. I never think of myself as much of a collector of anything, but I think I have a fine collection of (mostly) English 1970s and 1980s children's fantasy with a focus on time slip and post-apocalyptic survivor genres. Not exclusively though. Right now I am reading The Weathermonger, which I never owned myself for some reason. I have just finished Marianne Dreams which scared me utterly senseless when I was but a lassie. It's rather more domestic than I remembered, but I can certainly understand what bothered me. I am not entirely convinced that it's a happy ending. The whole going to the sea thing reminded me a bit too much of Susan Cooper's Seaward, in which reaching the sea is a none-too-light-handed metaphor for Death Death Death. Or something.

(It's actually much older than the 1970s, but it always seemed part of the same mob to me - which is probably why I always thought it had a darker ending).

Next I am going to read The Guardians by John Christopher. It has conurbs and conspiracy theories. Champion. I left the Tripods trilogy there, though. The time has not yet come.

The husband found some serious books on Marxism. Because he's smart.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Was very impressive this morning. A veritable feast of golden pink, not unlike a tutu that my Mum made me when I was but a lassie. (Although in truth that was pink and silver, but it gave me a similar sense of how marvellous and brilliant the world could be).

The golden tiles on the legislative assembly were also in fine form in the bright yellow afternoon sunshine. Some of them are extremely glimmery, while others are quite humble.

I'm not sure that the rest of the building deserves their shiny goodness, though. It looks like the kind of building that would be content with beige, black and aqua, alas. No comment on those housed within, of course. For the longest time I thought the assembly building was hidden somehow behind the carparks on the hill that sits just between Civic and the lake. I thought I was just missing some glorious edifice that would inspire me with political passion and the overwhelming joy that is Canberra. But no. Although there is a very stylish retaining wall.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Nothing to do and nothing to say

Head is filled with work and I have had pacey books to read on the bus so I don't have any idle thoughts.

The weather is perfect, and the leaves are starting to turn.

Monday, March 16, 2009

What did I do in a past life?

If it's not risk assessment it's asset maintenance. I don't think I've ever done anything horrible enough to deserve this.

Although some other individuals might have a different opinion. Which I will ask them to keep to themselves on the basis of Mum Rule number 74 (if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all).

Next thing will be contract management, and the triumvirate of evil will be complete.

Do you think it will cheer me up to learn how to say those things in latin?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pleasures of the private life

Clean bathroom. Clean kitchen. Wasabi peas. Library books. Rage in the afternoon. Tea.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pleasures of the public service

You know, a compactus can be a lot more interesting than you think. Some of them have round wheel-like handles, so that you can pretend you are in a submarine of the Captain Nemo persuasion.

Submerge! Submerge! Submerge!

Ahem. I was actually quite busy today. Honest.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Yesterday I drove to the art gallery and today I drove from the art gallery all the way home. Actually, that's not quite accurate. Yesterday I drove to the road out the front of the national library, because I was frightened of parking at the gallery, so the husband took over and did the last few hundred yards. Given the horrendous amount of traffic and random small children dashing about the place yesterday I felt I had made the right decision (even if for bad reasons).

The Noodle was most patient and sat in the back quietly, and only made one adverse comment (in which he assumed that I had crushed and killed an innocent bird, rather than asking him if he would like a bird as a pet. Well.)

We are all alive, and I have stopped shaking and I only stalled once (yesterday) and yah boo sucks to the woman behind me who beeped when I was slow taking off at the lights. It Does Not Help.

I think it won't be long until I have all my competencies ticked off (provided I practice my parking more). But my driving instructor makes me feel nervous. He puts his foot on the clutch without telling me, and then I get panicky about starting off because I think the damn clutch is stuck. I asked him, quite nicely, not to, but he can't help himself it seems.

Oh well. I suppose I'll be done with it all soon. Then I can go to the art gallery any damn time I feel like, without it taking an hour and a half to get back home.

(Oh, and we went to see the Degas exhibition. Or Ned Degus, Super Painter, as we like to call him.)

We went out and we had fun.

So huge thanks to the National Gallery and all the volunteers at the family day in the Sculpture Garden. We went out and we had fun. The Noodle was inspired by all kinds of art and made sculptures out of cardboard and paper and sticks and wool and painted a colourful painting which was laid to dry on the bushes in the manner of a 19th century laundry maid. He was so excited and impressed that he had to use his expert voice, the one he learned from BBC documentary series like Time Team. There is no higher praise.

There was sausage inna bun. And ginger beer.

And even though we had to brave the public transport system, we made it home safe and sound, with the useful additions of bread, milk, grinders coffee and instant chocolate mousse mix. And yes, it tastes like it came out of a packet and cost $3, but it somehow ended the day with the eggbeaters of perfection.

Tomorrow is the real life Canberra Day. So happy International Women's Day, and remember to celebrate the national capital tomorrow. Any of you Queensland folk could celebrate by investing in a ticket to Canberra if you like. We'll put you up in the spare bedroom, take you to the National Gallery (devoid of art workshops, alas) and share that last sachet of instant mousse mix. We are safe from cyclones too.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Canberra Day

Monday is Canberra Day. Most Canberrans celebrate by getting out of Canberra. Often to the coastal regions. Have yet to make it to the coast since we moved here. We've been as far as Braidwood, though.

We shall be celebrating this festive weekend by having friends round for lunch and visiting a national cultural institution (having been enticed with promises of a sausage sizzle).

I shall be personally celebrating on Monday since I will not need to use the words 'risk assessment matrix', or at least not without irony, for three whole days. Huzzah!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

When the feeling of being a complete and utter fraud comes a'knocking at the public service door

Sometimes the only thing worse than having your views and opinion ignored is having yours views and opinions thoroughly attended to.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I haven't been reading much poetry to the Noodle recently. We just got out of the habit of it. When he was a tiny fellow we used to read a picture book (or two) every night, and then a couple of poems. We would read from When we were very young (given to the Noodle in the days after his birth by a family who have since become rather more prominent than they were at the time. In a good way, that is) or from my old Golden Treasury of Poetry edited by Louis Untermeyer. I chose this as my prize for being good at English in year 7.

We liked the short and funny ones best. 'Bears' was always a big hit, and also the one about rice pudding. Although the Noodle is quite fond of rice pudding actually, thanks to the cooking brilliance of his Nana. My favourite bit of the Golden Treasury is the epitaphs, even if most are apocryphal.

The other favourite poetry book was A poem a day edited by Adrian Mitchell. I have just realised that he died late last year, which is a sadness since his poetry is so lively and funny and apt to all kinds of moments that might otherwise be embarrassing or difficult.

One of our favourites from that collections is 'Daddy fell into the pond' by Alfred Noyes, but there are lots of other funny ones. And also serious, lovely, tricky ones as well. It also functioned as a handy science book because all the poems are designed around the northern hemisphere seasons, so it tends to remind that the earth is round. And should earth have a capital letter? I don't know.

So recently we have had a bit of poetry again and it makes a person laugh like a drain from time to time and also ask difficult questions. Which is good.