Sunday, September 24, 2017

September 24. Day 267. Striking a chord

Next weekend is that one weekend in September, the big one we all wait for. Anyone who knows the slightest thing about me will know I'm not talking about the footie finals. Care factor zero. It's the grand finale of the Brisbane Festival when we send the festival off with a bang. For me, who has spent night after night out at one festival event or another this will mean a chance to see my home again. But for most people the Riverfire finale is the Brisbane Festival. It's the ultimate party AND it's free. What family doesn't need something free by the time the school holidays come to an end. Well here's another possibility for the hoards of families heading to South Bank on Saturday. How about getting your groove on at Spruke? Brisbane's Ukulele Festival is a two-day celebration of all things uke and what will be music to the ears of parents are the large number of free workshops for kids. While filling in the hours at South Bank waiting for the fireworks, why not take the kids to the Beginners Ukulele Bootcamp or or novice songs where in half an hour you can learn a two or three chord songs. These activities are being organised by perhaps Brisbane's best-named group BUMS (Brisbane Ukulele Musical Society). The BUMS believe in the societal, emotional, physical and cognitive benefits of music. Music builds relationships and community spirit. You can't argue with that. If this strikes a chord with you but the idea of the crowds at South Bank on Riverfire day freaks you out, fear not. The activities will be repeated on Sunday. There are also plenty of free and paid events for big people. Make sure you book via the festival website. You'd see me there but I will be in Sydney for a musical adventure of another type. Watch this space.

September 23. Day 266. Play time

Children's theatre is something special. As a grown up (yes I am a grown up despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary) it's not just what happens on stage that amuses me. There is as much amusement in what is happening in the seats of the auditorium. Take today. It was the final show of Fame Theatre Company's Cinderella. The Ugly Stepmother and the Ugly Stepsisters had launched into the Bananarama song Venus. A young man innocently asked "why are they singing about a penis?" The plot point was that the Ugly Family were trying to attract the attention of the Prince. If that's your plan, a penis song would do that. Funnily enough, that was my second penis encounter of the afternoon. As I walked down the street to theatre, a stretch limo pulled up and out piled a hen's party. Under one arm was a balloon with an inflatable penis inside. We had a quick chat and the girls said "we have a lot of penises on us", adding "not literally obviously". Well we all have to find out own ways of having fun.

Friday, September 22, 2017

September 22. Day 265. Life's a bitch

I talk to my dogs all the time. More worryingly they talk back. That is, I put words to what I think they are saying, or what I'd like them to say or an imaginary voice I give them. I'd love to know what they actually understand and what they are actually thinking. What I do know is that they are devoted to me, as I am to them. This is one of the reasons I was drawn Bitch, the Origin of the Female Species at the Theatre Republic as part of Brisbane Festival. In what wouldn't necessarily be considered natural partners, the show looked at dogs, dementia and sexual politics. It switched between the big picture to very intimate moments especially those between an old man and his dog. These moments made my eyes moist.  In the list of things that bring out the moisture, dementia and my dad and dogs will do it. This story ticked all those boxes. I'm pretty sure the internal dialogue of the dog at the centre of this tale isn't how my dogs think but it was an interesting portrayal just the same. I would have asked my dogs what they thought when I got home but they were too busy eating the toilet paper they managed to steal while I was out. We had a chat about that.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

September 21. Day 264. Secret ballot

I spent quite a bit of time after my lecture today just watching. I was watching noisy miners swooping on the ibis and student politicians swooping on students. It's guild election time and unlike most Australian elections, it is not compulsory to vote. So job one is to get students to actually give enough of a toss to cast a ballot. It is pretty hilarious watching our campaign teams chasing students as they go about their life. The best way to get the campaigners off your back is to vote and secure a wrist band signalling the fact to the world. If that isn't enough to get you to vote, there is an incentive. In exchange for a vote, each student receives a $5 voucher to spend at one of the shops run by the guild. You can't buy a vote but you can give incentives to vote. There would be documents outlining just what this costs but not that anyone can look at right now. During the election period they are unavailable, which kind of defeats the purpose if you ask me. But what would I know,  I'm not a student so I don't get to vote. All I got was a warning from a very polite security guard about not taking photos that identify students.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

September 20. Day 263. It takes a village

The concept of taking a village to raise a child is hardly new.  But the thing is there's a circle of life. The village that raises the child also needs to care for the child when she or he reaches old age. I talk a whole lot about my neighbour Margaret. She does rely on me a lot but she does have others in her village. The young bloke who lives in the house on the other side, pops up every morning to take her bag of rubbish out to the bin. His mum can be relied on to wash sheets. The apprentice at the hairdresser is frequently sent up the chemist to collect a prescription while Margaret's hair is setting. It's a true community effort. When Margaret was in hospital most recently there were three questions that came up every day. She wanted to know how my dogs were. She wanted to know how her birds were and she wanted to know if the flowers were blooming. A few weeks back, a neighbour had extra seedlings so planted them just outside the window where Margaret sits. When she fell they were growing well but had yet to bloom. In the last couple of days they have come alive. Margaret is delighted. It's the little things.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September 19. Day 262. Sorry seems to be the hardest word

Sorry scrolls

Director and co-creative Dan Evans
A few years back someone very close to me wanted to have "a talk". It was obvious it was about something serious. She came to say she was sorry. She was at Step 8 of the 12-Step Program "Make a list of all persons we had harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all". She said her piece. I looked blank. The fact is, I had no memory of the incident. This was not emotional baggage I'd been carrying around for decades. This was not even emotional baggage in the overhead locker, securely tucked away for the moment but always able to be pulled down. This was lost luggage. And the weird thing is I could list many, many other things that had happened between us I still hold in my carry-on emotional baggage. The whole business of forgiving, of saying sorry, of seeking forgiveness, of making amends is a complex and emotionally charged space. This was the subject of an extraordinary piece of theatre I witnessed as part of The Brisbane Festival tonight.  The Brisbane-based production company The Good Room took to the world wide web to ask people to submit something they would like forgiveness for or something where an apology or attempts to make amends might help them forgive. They wove the responses into a piece of verbatim physical theatre held together with the story of Vitaly Kaloyev and his battle to forgive the unforgivable. Kaloyev's family was killed when an air traffic controller's mistake led to the death of his family. Using dance, perhaps the longest choreographed theatrical fight ever, smoke, 70,000 pearls and bags and bags of emotional garbage, the audience was taken on an emotional journey into what it is to forgive and to be forgiven. It gave no answers but raised a lot of questions. It shook me from start to finish. Now I just want an apology from the makers of the piece for seriously disturbing me.
Hear our podcast review here

Monday, September 18, 2017

September 18. Day 261. Strung up

We hear a lot about wildlife being injured by eating things or being tangled in things left behind by careless or uncaring humans. Indeed, one of the strong arguments for the banning of plastic bags in supermarkets from next year involved just that. I've seen the pictures. I think we all have. But I've never actually seen it first hand until today. I was taking a stroll through South Bank after my ABC slot.  The beach was pretty crowded given it's day one of the school holidays and it was picture perfect weather. I strolled to the water's edge vaguely considering putting my toe in to test the water but my eyes and my camera were drawn to the seagulls flapping about. I rather like photos of seagulls splashing about in the shallows. I've taken hundreds in my time often from almost exactly where I was standing. But today one was splashing and flapping more than the others. So that's the one I took most photos of. It was really bright so I
couldn't review the pics while I was on the beach. It was only later that I really understood what was going on. There was something, possibly an elastic band, around its beak. Perhaps it was from a sushi pack. Perhaps it was something else all together. And my response was to take photos. Well done me (not). The photos on my camera suggest it freed itself, although it may be I started focusing on another bird. At the risk of sounding like a bigot, all seagulls look kind of the same. But I feel bad, probably not as bad as the seagull.