Oct 31, 2015

Hallowe apostraphe en

Hallowe'en's always good for a laugh, isn't it?

Around the corner from us they literally foam at the mouth for it, with legions of kids swarming the streets, ram-raiding everything in sight in the hope of collecting armfuls of sugary treats, marching around in post-apocalyptic peripatetic posses of potential paranoia, escorted by parents exhibiting varying to degrees of bemusement.

Houses are bedecked with cobwebs, jack-o-lanterns and various accoutrements from Bargain Shitty and the locals really throw themselves into it.

Just before sunset.

So at sunset we set out with our gory group of grotesque girls, to find that the fun was over really, and the sullen teenagers were hauling themselves from their tomb-like boudoirs to shuffle around being surly to all and sundry.

And once again, Nicole and I were in toddler-control mode as Eloise made off with Marion and the others, and we were left behind to tour the streets before we had had enough and headed home.

I suppose I should pay lip-service to the preparation part, which afforded us a well-intentioned but ultimately painful retail experience followed by a time-consuming, fraught and counterproductive dressing and make-up session.


Oct 29, 2015

Choral Fanfare

You may remember that previously Eloise's school choir won their competition to decide on the best choir in Brisbane and their surrounds with a rabble-rousing performance of closely-harmonied ditties that were impressive and catchy.

The time came around for the Choral Fanfare Grand Finale at the end of October. The Wilston Warblers were not just disappointed but dare I say mildly disgusted to learn that the Grand Finale would not in fact be a Grand Finale in the sense of a winner-takes-all slugfest of singing skill, choral cohones or indeed musical mastery, but a Showcase instead where the choirs would perform for the sheer enjoyment of singing itself, with no prizes and no endless compromises to shatter the illusions of integrity.

It was a post-school evening affair and so for us poor parents took on the pallor of a toddler-control event. Eloise travelled down on a chartered bus while we poor plebs were forced to transport ourselves and join the queue outside the Old Museum, uncertain even as to the sufficiency of the auditorium to accommodate all the parents and family members who had travelled from far and wide (and in Queensland, far and wide means Far and Wide).

Nevertheless, after the assembled choirs had had some time to practise some sort of massed ensemble thingy, we did indeed file in and we did get seats, and before long the choirs began.

The first half of the evening was devoted to the primary schools, and quite impressive they were, as would befit a performance of the winners of the local Fanfare competitions.

Then a short break before the high schools came on.

If only!

"A short break," the bloke said "during which everybody can get to know each other" or words to that effect.

Forty minutes later everyone knew each other intimately, and we were all looking at each other askance and wondering when the bloody singing would start again so we could get ourselves home. We all have homes to go to, you know!

Lyra was by this stage running around like a fly with a teal tush and we knew that whatever writing there was was in fact on the wall. We waited agog with anticipation while the interval went on and on and on and on.

And then, finally, perhaps even funereally, the wait was over and without a hint of explanation, as though a forty-minute interval is a totally normal thing, the proceedings proceeded once more to proceed.

I have skipped over a detailed deconstruction of the performance of the primary schools because the high school performers just blew them away, completely out of the park. There were six-part harmonic reconstructions of Gotye, street-acapella renditions of Rachel Platten, performances ranging in complexity from the sublime to the ridiculous. It was very good indeed.

Of course much as we were enjoying it the toddler was playing up and after Mum and Lyra retired to the sidelines to give her some space to express her tiredness and restlessness through the medium of dance, bringing her until full view and altogether over-closeness with the supposedly sitting-down massed primary choirs who were supposedly spectating the choirs but actually spectating the terrifying toddler, things went south.

When Eloise decided to jump up and intervene I decided to jump up and intervene as things threatened to get out of hand and escorted young Lyra from the scene of potential crime, leaving a sonic trail of wailing behind that I hoped would be less disruptive than whatever unpleasantness might result if the trajectory of events were to take its natural course.

Oct 24, 2015

Saturday Afternoon at the Playground

I'm not quite sure why we would do such a thing, but Eloise on this Saturday afternoon steered us in the direction of Frew Park, which we have sampled as part of the Playground Census but Eloise had only briefly sampled while Nicole was having her allergies assessed.

The Slide of Doom was once again in operation and we scaled its dizzy heights before ejaculating ourselves from its curly tube. The Silly Stick game was banged away at, and the swings were swung.

Oct 22, 2015

Storming Up Nicely

This one missed us by a mile, as they seem to, but in the distance, lots of lightning.

Oct 21, 2015

Pat to the Rafters

The ongoing search for the perfect playground continues, taking us this time Southside again to the Pat Rafter Tennis Emporium, opposite which is a modern well-appointed playground built on the site of an old power station and so themed, like that makes any difference to toddlers whatsoever, on power, electricity, and even more thrillingly, the architecture of the local electricity supply infrastructure.

Parking is abominable (in terms of its availability rather than practitioner skills, I hasten to clarify) and a walk is required through a modern precinct of well-defined design lines and clearly delineated activity zones - cars go here, people go here - with features such as an apparently pointless and yet strangely pleasing step-based amphitheatre dedicated to an old tennis player whose name currently escapes me but which offered plenty of opportunity for innuendo.

The playground is pretty good as it happens, offering plenty of shade on this sun-soaked day and we spend some happy hours with Lyra and Georgia actually playing together companionably which makes a nice change. There are all the things you would expect of a playground, with the addition of a large cubist climbing frame and a strange thing which defies easy description but involves a freely-moving plastic ramp which, when a toddler is attempting to climb, can be violently agitated from beneath by an irresponsibly adult with predictably hilarious if mildly dangerous results.

There are plenty of different things to do until Georgia urinates voluminably and ostentatiously in a sand-related piece of playground equipment. I am the Good Samaritan who uses a discarded coffee cup to bail the puddle to a less offensive elsewhere before it becomes necessary, in view of the mysteriously besocked onlookers, to call it an armpit and hoof it once more for the safety of the Northside.

Oct 13, 2015

First Bushwalk for Bloody Yonks

I went to Mount Coot-tha for the first time in ages and did the walk that goes down a bit then up, over and around before it comes down again and then around and along a bit then back.

Someone has been stone-balancing.

Oct 10, 2015

String Them Up

I would be the first to congratulate Eloise on her violin skills, if she practiced consistently and managed to move gracefully on from the Strangled Cat phase of bowing skill, but try as I might in my inimitably irascible way to encourage stroke discourage her to stroke from fingering properly, intoning correctly, and correcting the jittering bow, she is taking her sweet goddamn time in making the transition to being a sweet fiddler.

Thinking back, it probably took me many years, and I suppose I must thank my parents for their patience and indulgence, unable as I am to recall their exhibition of these qualities.

Eloise does play in an "Orchestra" by which we have previously been awestruck in their rendition of varying little-known ditties of dubious provenance. Frankly they were pretty dire, but time and plenty of early-morning practice have improved them immeasurable to the point where they have entered a competition.

And on this day, a Sunday no less, Eloise did don her music shirt, and she did pack her musical instrument, and we did journey South into the Badlands of the Southside to Calamvale, that most distant of distant suburbs, where on the way we did become lost and wander in the wilderness before finding said school which was to all intents a wilderness in its own right, titanic and sprawling with schools within schools. And we did eventually find ourselves, near a sausage sizzle, where more Wilston Parents did appear, and thence did the assembled students depart for to practice and we did stand around chatting while the time of our proud discomfortable viewing did approach.

And we filed into the Auditorium and the children did ascend onto the stage and we did watch mistily as they played their music. And it did please us.

They did all right in the end, though they were gutted to get only a silver award, but I thought it reasonable as the Judge delivered his fair assessment that they needed to work on their intonation (i.e. they couldn't really play in tune).

The Plastic Trophy was held aloft and we did hoof it away, a tout vitesse, back to the Sunny Northside, where the living is easy, the traffic light, and the women so much more comely.

Oct 6, 2015


Beauty in this case is apparently on the face of the beholder.

Oct 5, 2015

An End to Swimming for Eloise

I'm a bit of a sucker for a free lunch and, against all objective research evidence, adopt a utilitarian approach to after-school activities to the extent that I feel that they should be useful.

Having said that, Eloise has been whining for apparent aeons that she doesn't like swimming, that it's boring, that it's hard work, on and on and on.

I keep telling her how proud I am of her swimming, how she swims like a fish (in the sense that she swims well, rather than that she spends protracted periods of time underwater playfully and yet aimlessly adjusted her bouyancy through fine-tuned bladder control while opening and closing her mouth gormlessly), and how I get a free swim when she does her thing and it's pretty much my only avenue to fitness other than riding bikes, and taking long walks in the countryside and going to the pub with my friends.

I have finally relented however and allowed her to drop swimming, partially just to relieve my chronic earache, and partly to free up some time for her to do some homework as her other outside-school-activities, those being dancing in its many and varied forms, and so given it up she has.

Oct 4, 2015

Rescue Us From the Animals

One of Eloise's dancing chums invited her to her birthday party. It was located out at Brookfield, a distant Western semi-bush suburb at an Animal Rescue Farm type thing, so we all went along.

Another one of those damned sunny Queensland days; while Eloise attended her party and did her thing the rest of us wandered around shade-seeking, cavorting with the goats and the sheep and the horses.

Some pretty sad cases; it's a charity that takes in and looks after unwanted pets and animals that people could't cope with, but there must have been more to it than that because there was a poor horse, nervous as anything, a hole in its forehead from a gunshot wound, but happy to be stroked. Various farmyard beasts; goats. alpacas, sheep, a pig or two.

Even a camel who came out at the end for photos and ended up raiding the party table for crisps and cupcakes.

Lyra got into the goat enclosure by hook or by crook. Some social faux pas or other got her on the receiving end of a butt or two, which was a bit of a twist at the end of the day. But she was OK and shook it off, because, you know, she's a trooper.

Oct 2, 2015

Medieval Misanthropy

Let's be honest, the main attraction of the Abbey Museum's holiday funtimes is shooting arrows at Damien.

Nicole came this time - what, another day off?! - and was perhaps underwhelmed by the scale of things after the size and gravitas of the monumental festival some months ago. But I think she was won over by the homely unpretentious intimacy of the holiday stuff which is just good fun really. And the kids get to shoot arrows at Damien.

Eloise was chuffed to win a prize for being archer of the day. Cloud-shooting is her thing. That's artillery-style indirect fire for you ingénues.

Lyra had fun mixing paint where it wasn't supposed to be mixed. Nicole had fun dealing with the grown-up tosser who had a go at her about it.

I shot arrows too and hit the target a couple of times. I had a string burn on my forearm for a few days afterwards.

Oct 1, 2015

Lah-Lah's Land of Misadventure

Claire, our Cultural Convener, organised for us to go to see local Australian Kids' TV Starlet Lah-Lah in concert with her Big Live Band, an event to which I was looking forward to at best obliquely, but with toddler's enjoyment at stake I thought perhaps the sacrifice was worth making.

We pitched up early and grabbed a coffee and snack and a romp in the Otherwise Unremarkable Staircase of Enjoyment (pictured above) before heading down to the theatre.

As it turned out, rather than the lip-syncing horror that I was expecting, the band was indeed live, and very good, playing a kind of Jewish-folk pastiche style of music which was at once entertaining and engaging.

The best bit was afterwards when they all met the audience outside and let us touch their equipment.