The Last Weekend

Well, with the exception of yesterday’s rant it’s been a while between entries. I put this down to two factors. Number one is the fact that Dale is back from Rottnest and making us actually work which leaves me too tired to make entries during the week. The second is that I had a very busy weekend last week, which prevented me from making an entry on Saturday or Sunday. But this weekend has been fairly relaxing (with the exception of a major clean-up which I’m still in the throes of), and so here I am.

The main reason for the business (in the old sense of the word busy-ness, don’t tell me you never learn anything reading this blog!) was Katie’s birthday. Saturday was spent finding a present for her (I’m going to quote fairly extensively from an email I wrote to Ali yesterday now, not something I usually do but why write the same thing twice? 🙂

The first order of business was to get some money to buy the present with. I usually get paid in bank cheques, which I can instantly cash at the bank down the road from work, so I do most of my buying of things with cash – my bank accounts are things I use for paying bills and buying online. But as that week Dale had been away and couldn’t sign the cheque, I’d been paid with direct deposit into my Bendigo Bank account. This was fine, except it meant that I had to go to Bayswater to get my hands on any of it (OK, I could go to an affiliated ATM or buy stuff by EFTPOS, but then I’d have to pay transaction fees and have to remember my PIN number, not things I can really be bothered with). I also had to pay my rent, another thing I usually do with cash but couldn’t that week.

So I caught the bus to Bayswater, and arrived outside the bank about 8:45, at which pointI remembered it didn’t open until 9:00. Drat.

So I sat outside and tried to figure out what I’d get Katie. Andrew (my brother for those who came in late) had mentioned she’s learning Italian and so suggested I get something along those lines. I had no idea what though. Just as the bank opened I decided that I’d have a much better chance of finding something in the City rather than the Morley Galleria (where I was initially heading), so altered my plans accordingly.

My banking business went rather smoothly (with the exception that the teller obviously thought I was insane for getting them to transfer money for rent just once) and I caught the same bus back in the opposite direction, which dumped me quite effectively in Northbridge. I walked across into the city and headed for the discount book stores in the hopes of finding something “Italian”.

However on the way down to Murray street mall I passed the new “Crazy Clarke’s” next to Myer. I probably don’t have to explain that “Crazy Clarke’s” is a discount store (discount stores are always run by insane people, reasonable people set up antique stores instead). I would have walked straight on past but sitting in the window was a framed print of M.C.Escher’s Hand met spiegelende bol. Escher is my favourite graphic artist and I’d been intending to get some prints of his work for ages, so against my better judgment I went in to see if they had a copy of Dag en Nacht.

They didn’t. Or at least they may have but there were about four hundred framed prints randomly piled on the shelves and I wasn’t prepared to search through them all. I was going to leave empty handed, but the only way out was through the checkout and I’m always paranoid that if I try to slip through a checkout without buying something I’ll be arrested as a shoplifter (hey, I don’t mock your neuroses! 😉 so I decided I might as well buy the print anyway. Which I did. Now I’ve just got to find somewhere to hang it.

Anyway then I hit the discount bookstores. The first one, in the old bank at the east end of Murray street mall didn’t contain anything in the least bit Italian, but it did contain a lot of maps and books on vexillology, and I only managed to escape with some of my money intact by a supreme effort of will (I still bought four of them though :).

Next stop was the store in the old Boanes building at the other end of the mall. Unfortunately it had completely vanished, which left me rather annoyed as I’d managed to find a lot of bargains there over the last few years. This left only one discount bookstore in the city for me to try and find something Italian in. The one in the old Angus & Robertson’s on Hay Street. So I headed up through Picadilly Arcade and hung a left.

Much to my continued annoyance, this one had shut down too. I prowled up and down the mall a few times to see if any new stores had opened up, but none had. So, admitting defeat discount-wise I changed course to the new Angus & Robertson’s back on Murray Street.

On the way however I spotted the city branch of Elisabeth’s Second Hand bookstores. So I dashed across the road (neatly dodging a large truck) and started browsing.

Nearly inevitably I didn’t find anything Italian. But I did find a copy of Thor Heyardhal’s Aku-Aku which I’d been looking for for years, and a 1923 guidebook to Torquay and South Devon, which I bought because it was cheap and would give me something to talk to Ali about *g*.

So then it was on to Angus and Robertson’s. I ended up buying a quite interesting illustrated guidebook to Italy, on the basis that Katie might visit the place when she’s learnt the language well enough, and a gift voucher on the basis that she might not and the guidebook therefore wouldn’t be a very good gift. Then I went across to Forrest Place to join in the anti-war rally which I’d heard about on the radio they were playing in Crazy Clarke’s.

OK, I’m going to break for some politics here. Our esteemed Prime Minister John Winston Howard is currently completely kow-towing to George Dubya and promising him anything he wants in regards to Iraq. He’s dispatched a whole load of our troops to the Persian Gulf, without a debate on the issue in Parliament, and despite the fact that about 60% of the population don’t want us involved in a war with Iraq without a UN mandate, and about 20% don’t want us involved at all. In common with the rest of the world there were vast protests around the country that weekend (100,000 in Melbourne for instance, the largest since Vietnam) and Saturday was Perth’s turn. In the end about 10,000 turned out here in Perth, the largest protest in over 30 years and not bad for a sprawling city of only two million.

Oh, and John Howard’s reaction to all these protests? First, in complete defiance of theevidence of his own eyes he said that he “doesn’t think the people have made up theirminds about the issue yet”, and then he followed that up by condemning the protesters foroffering “comfort” to Saddam Hussein. Yes. Well.

Anyway I attended the rally. It wasn’t too bad. The speeches went on a bit long, particularly from a member of the Kurdish association who apparently decided to give us a full history of the Middle East since world war one (his particular beef was a conspiracy theory that the ‘Imperialistic Powers’ deliberately divided the region up in such a way as to cause the current conflict and allow them to seize all the oil. Sorry but I don’t buy that. The Imperialistic powers weren’t that a) smart or b) patient. They deliberately divided the region up in such a way as to cause conflict right away so they could seize the oil then – the Arabs getting uppity, throwing them out and creating independent nations was an unplanned complication). The best speaker was easily the leader of the Socialist Alliance who summed up the issues quickly and concisely and who’s oratory was so good that he totally got the crowd on side. He managed to get the biggest cheer of the whole event by saying “we have to tell the international community that the Howard Government does not represent the wishes of the Australian people in this issue!”, which doesn’t sound like much, but it took about two minutes to quiet the crowd down.

As I said the speeches did go on a bit long, but at the Murray street end of Forrest Place they were made bearable by a bunch of musicians who started up before they were all finished. First of all a rogue trumpeter started randomly blaring out a Spanish fanfare that had the crowd starting around in concern that Zorro might be swinging down on us on a rope. Then a bunch of drummers started up and, well, ten or so hyperactive drummers with everything from bongos to bases pounding out really catchy rhythms at ear pounding levels will always catch a crowds’ interest more than some guy dissecting the Catholic doctrine of “just warfare” on a stage that 90% of them can’t even see.

Not long after this the march began. They were only marching around the city block, which seemed a bit weak really, you’d expect a march on Parliament at least. I declined to take part I’m afraid – it was a hot day, I was carrying far too many books in my backpack, and my Escher print was proving a bit of a hazard in the stationary crowd – if I’d tried to march with it I probably would have taken someone’s eye out. So I caught a train home instead.

Sunday was spent preparing for the party, washing and ironing clothes, wrapping the present and so on. Happily the event was taking place at a Café/Restaurant in Mount Lawley, only twenty minutes or so walk away, so transport wasn’t a problem. I walked up there on time and managed to be about the third person to arrive. Katie loved the book (or at least claimed to, which is the main thing 🙂 and overall things went pretty well. I had a very tolerable time, which is a quite acceptable outcome for a person who’s not really in to socialising, particularly with a bunch of people I don’t really know.

In fact things went very well because I actually managed to meet this great girl named Clare. She was bright, and witty and flamboyant and seriously into Monty Python (to the extent of knowing exactly which skits were on exactly which video tape) and just really fun and well, frankly, very very attractive. She also kept breaking into spontaneous song (with a really good voice, apparently she’s a drama student) for no reason at all, something that I think there should be a lot more of in the world (chiefly because it would mean I could do it too 🙂

(And OK, to be honest there was a reason she kept breaking spontaneously into song – she’d had a couple of vodka shooters before coming, but still 🙂

Anyway she basically had me completely enchanted for the entire evening. There was only one problem – she was there with her boyfriend (c’mon, you mean you didn’t see that coming? ;-). He was also witty and bright and flamboyant and into Monty Python and breaking into spontaneous song for no reason at all. Frankly the two of them were so obviously meant for each other that even if I was the kind of person with the skills (not to mention complete lack of scruples 🙂 to consider breaking them up, I wouldn’t do it because to do so would be going against the forces of nature. So I just enjoyed her performance and concentrated on my stuffed tiger prawns instead.

So, all in all not a bad evening.

Anyway that’s why I haven’t written anything in a while. I’ll probably write some more over the next few days responding to things other people have said in their blogs. Maybe 🙂

As the KLF say – Over and Out!

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