Friday, March 18, 2005

Struggling on

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I hate reading people's blogs that do nothing but moan about how awful their lives are. Having said that, I didn't feel too well early this week. I wasn't sleeping well and I just felt so tired all the time. By Wednesday I felt as though I could just sit down and weep if anybody gave me an unkind look.

Later in the week I started to improve. Maybe it's just that my birthday is approaching - it's a good time for stirring up memories.

And aside from that, there's always the passage of time. When I signed up for my superannuation fund they told me I couldn't access any of the money till I turned 55. That seemed a long time away - not this year it doesn't [sigh!].

The first touch of Autumn is in the air, but the wildlife might make you think it was Spring. The green parrots swooped in on the fruit trees in the backyard, chirping their heads off while they sampled what was on offer; they're impossible to get rid of, paying absolutely no attention to me. Yesterday we heard a kookaburra next door.

Over at Julie's place the rodent population are very active. Unfortunately she did such a good job training her mastiff not to bother the poultry that he even ignores the rats as they run past him.

What he doesn't ignore is the possums in the trees. Sometimes he gets so excited it looks like he's going to try and climb up the tree after them. One night the possums were making so much noise in a tree that two of the dogs became over-excited and got into a fight at the base of the tree ("Anything that falls out of the tree is mine!" "No, it's mine!").

Meanwhile we have yet more patients at the makeshift poultry hospital at my place. Julie brought one hen and its two offspring over so she could watch over them; something about them being the last survivors of a particular bloodline.

Then this week one of the really tiny chicks suffered a leg injury and she brought it over to my place with two of its siblings to keep it company; you wouldn't believe how much noise can be made by something that small.

On a less happy note, we lost my sister's cockatiel parrot Dutch. He'd been looking very frail lately - he was almost 25 years old - and one morning we just found him on the floor of his cage.

I remember when Julie brought him home while we were still in the hotel business. For a while we had him in a corner of the front bar and he seemed to be happy enough but we had to move him -- his occasional loud squawks were a bit too piercing for the comfort of some of our customers who may have been feeling a bit fragile.

Later on, when Julie had him at her house there was a fire while she was overseas and the firemen moved her birds outside after they extinguished the fire. The police woke me in the middle of the night and my mother and I drove over to pick them up.

Some time later we heard an expert on the radio stresssing how important it was not to disrupt caged birds' routine - even moving them from one room to another might upset them. We laughed and rolled our eyes in disbelief, remembering how Julie's birds had been black with smoke, sitting out on the verandah in the middle of winter when we arrived -- but they recovered with no difficulty at all.

Dutch lived for about 15 years after that, spending his afternoons keeping my mother company while I was at work. Even now, a couple of weeks later, when I walk into the room my eyes automatically go to the corner where his cage was.

Losing pets is never easy but it's hard to imagine being without them.

I have been a bit slow in updating this page this week. It seems to be connected with our laptops being in the shop. I know we still have the big desktop PC but I miss the convenience of the laptop -- Julie compares it to having to go back to using an old-fashioned telephone fixed to the wall after being used to a cordless phone.

It's unfortunate too that I'm not able to record any of the BBC radio programmes that I've become accustomed to following. The desktop PC has some sort of problem that means it crashes whenever I try to put any audio programmes on it -- some sort of software conflict probably.

I hope I get the laptop back before I miss the sixth and final part of Proust's In Search of Lost Time on the Classic Serial slot.

Speaking of radio, I was near the phone during the midnight quiz The Challenge last week and I managed to get on during the last part of the quiz. I had something of a dream run for several questions. "I'll take the Alfred Hitchcock questions, thanks Tony." "Yes, I thought you might." Bing. Bing. Bing. Bing.

Then we came to the only two questions left, from the Sports category. This is my weakest area, since to me most sporting broadcasts are a sort of moving wallpaper.

"Question 24, what is the colour of the top of the highest-scoring hoop in a game of croquet?"

I was speechless for a second, then said "Tony, I think that is the most obscure question I've heard on The Challenge this year!"

"Hmmm, and what is your answer?"

I thought back to something I'd read that if you asked people to name their favourite colour, six out of ten would say red. "Red," I said.

"Correct! And for all the prizes, question 25: in fencing, which is heavier, a foil or an epee?"

I thought carefully. I summoned up all the resources of a lifetime of reading and watching movies. After a moment of intense concentration, I gave my carefully considered answer.



I spent an evening sorting through those boxes of Argosy that I got from Keith last week. The results were a bit puzzling.

There were 148 copies, but to my surprise there were a lot of duplicate issues. This didn't make sense if they came from a collector trying to put together a complete run - there were four copies of some issues.

It almost looked as though someone had been accumulating as many copies as possible, though some were in fairly poor condition and wouldn't have been worth re-selling.

My next step should be to drag out my own collection from the attic and check them against this lot. "You don't have a list?" said Julie.

"I always meant to make one," I said, "but I never got round to it." Maybe I should do it this time while I've got them all out.

Well, it was certainly a good week for fans of the television series Stargate SG-1. For some reason we had two double-episodes in 48 hours.

Thursday night we had the two episodes that wound up season 7. Then Friday night we got the first two episodes of season 8.

When Richard Dean Anderson was put into suspended animation at the end of the seventh season, I thought this would be the last we saw of him for a while (cf Han Solo in Star Wars). Instead he not only thawed out in the next episode, he was promoted to head of Stargate Command.

What this (possibly unwise) move portends, we shall have to wait and see.

And congratulations to those good folk at The New Yorker who this month published their 80th anniversary issue.

Happy birthday to the magazine that gave us James Thurber, E.B. White and so many many other great writers.

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