Sunday evening, sitting in my neighbor's lounge room, sipping champagne and watching the children and dogs playing in the garden, I experienced a wistful feeling. I thought back to decades past and similar experiences in my own family. I sighed and took another sip from my glass.
The picture below is one I saw in an op shop a couple of days earlier. I stopped to look at it because it conjured up the long gone times at Julie's house. Every night when we fed the animals, the geese would come trailing down the hill from the top paddock, marching in single file like a delegation of aldermen entering a civic reception.
Apollo, the last survivor of Julie's flock of geese, is a living refutation of the old song "Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat." As he ages, he is less active and his feathers are getting thinner. At one stage in the winter we actually contemplated what you might call Goothanasia, but he seems to have staged a comeback in the summer. He is up and walking around a lot more, and I was pleasantly surprised one day when he came over to meet me at the back door as I came out with their breakfast. Will he still be here next Christmas? Who knows. But for the time being I'm happy just to still have him around.
Maybe it was because of the Summer Solstice, maybe it was because my watch had stopped, but Tuesday felt like time was out of joint. My usual routine no longer applied. It was too wet for croquet this afternoon (I got damp just checking the mailbox) and the quiz night is in recess for the Christmas break. I had no reason to leave the house so stayed home and allowed the hours to tick over quietly. The radio seemed to have gone into the "silly season" and I have not turned on the television in a couple of weeks. The phone rang once; it was a wrong number. I sat around in silence, thinking, sipping coffee and gazing into space.
Our friend Mick the goatherd called in this morning and cut a bit of feed for the goats in the garden. As he was getting ready to leave, he struck up a conversation with an elderly couple who happened to be passing. As it turned out, they were quite familiar with my household -- they said they admired my cat and asked after the geese.
After dinner tonight, I put on the TV for a change and ended up watching ABC all evening. Unexpectedly I found myself watching Nigella Lawson's Christmas special, and started feeling hungry in spite of having just eaten. I'd love some of that black bread with smoked salmon, followed by a few of those Olliebollen.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be. John X, who's doing the morning show on ABC radio in Hobart, played Eartha Kitt's song "Santa Baby" on the air. He was surprised to receive a text from one listener thanking him for playing it, because he had friends from New York staying with him and they were astounded because they had never heard of Eartha Kitt! John X was incredulous, recalling when he'd seen her in a play on Broadway in 2003 and the audience had applauded for a full minute whenever she walked on stage. It confirms my suspicions that many of the modern audience only know current entertainers -- to them, an "old movie" is one they saw ten years ago.
We spent part of the morning gathering up greenery and throwing it into the goats' enclosure. "Consider this your Christmas dinner a day early," I told them as they romped around in it. I thought of going out to the shops in case I needed anything, but decided to avoid the crowds. After lunch, I had short lie-down, then went settled down in my chair outside the back door to read for a while. Every few minutes, two of the chickens would sidle up next to me and stare at me, obviously wondering how long it was till dinner. Eventually I put down the whodunit I was halfway through, got a bucket of wheat and took them out in the yard.
Christmas movies getting you down? Tired of the same old films being repeated every couple of years, over and over? Well, here's one you may not have seen. EMMET OTTER'S JUGBAND CHRISTMAS is on 7.30pm on Christmas Day on NITV - Channel 34 in Australia I think.
Memories tend to surface at this time of the year. I remember many years ago, the late John Foyster sent me a home-made Christmas card. Nothing fancy. On the front was a drawing of the star in the sky over Bethlehem. Inside were just five words:
WISE MEN STILL SEEK HIM.
Christmas Day schedule has not changed:
2. Lunch with relatives
4. Queen's Christmas Message
Finished Helen McCloy's DANCE OF DEATH . An intriguing whodunit, with some interesting observations about high society in the Manhattan of the late 1930s, where you had to appear to have money whether you had it or not. Think Henry James but with a corpse in a snowdrift. And, surprisingly, you may learn something about psychiatry and chemistry. I hadn't known till today that McCloy was married to mystery writer Brett Halliday and they had a daughter Chloe. From a genetic point of view, it would be interesting to know if Chloe ever did any creative work?
Tuesday was cool with a few clouds. Spent some time before lunch burning folders off my laptop to CD; what can I say, I'm a traditionalist. I went over and played one game of croquet then returned home to meet the goatherds for afternoon tea. One of them moaned about boring movies he'd seen including THE ENGLISH PATIENT. "There's an episode of SEINFELD about that," I observed. He went on to tell a story about a misadventure with a suede jacket. "That's also a SEINFELD episode," I muttered, unsurprised at the connection between art and life.
30th December Wednesday
A quiet day at home. Fed the livestock before breakfast, then listened to the Eloquence CD of "Best of Brahms" while I did some backing-up from my hard drive before I had my morning coffee. (Slightly difficult because the cat seems to believe that I should be paying more attention to him to make up for the time I spent going out to Christmas functions.) Lunch outside while listening to "The World Today" on ABC radio then went out to buy some feed for the goats. Home in time for a pre-dinner nap.
In the evening, Keith Curtis phoned and we talked for 65 minutes. The cat thought this was great because I was just about to put him down when the phone rang, meaning he had another full hour snoozing in my lap before he was disturbed.