Can’t you see I’m reading? Seven Hills, NSW, Australia. 2010

My wife is a constant and voracious reader.

Engogirl’s parents told me that when they took her to Europe as a child of  seven years old, they had to think up a strategy to get her to engage with the travelling they were doing,  instead of reading all the time. My mother-in-law thought up the idea of getting Engogirl to keep a journal and write down what she had done each day to make sure she took notice and thought about where they were.

Even now as an adult, Engogirl would prefer to read, than do just about anything else, and a quiet Saturday morning reading the weekend paper is about as close to nirvana for her, as it gets.

X-ray Spex, The Day The World Turned Day-glo

I dedicate this video to Pat Coakley

I was discussing with Pat (via e-mail) how I like loud music, bright colours and spicy foods. In short, just about anything that couldn’t be described as moderate. We were also talking about consumerism, mental health (Pat is a retired psychologist) and cultural dissonance.

To me this song is a great adjunct to our conversation.

The singer Poly Styrene (real name, Marian Elliott) in the video below was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia and sectioned (put in a mental hospital) after having a vision of a pink light in the sky and felt objects crackling when she touched them. Turned out she was bipolar.

Turn the sound up and brace youself for one of the best songs to come out of the whole punk movement!

[youtube rSrOJ1ig6tI]

I clambered over mounds and mounds
Of polystyrene foam
And fell into a swimming pool
Filled with fairy snow
And watched the world turn day-glo
you know you know
The world turned day-glo you know

I wrenched the nylon curtains back
As far as they would go
And peered through perspex window panes
At the acrylic road

I drove my polypropolene
Car on wheels of sponge
Then pulled into a wimpy bar
To have a rubber bun

The X-rays were penetrating
Through the laytex breeze
Synthetic fibre see-thru leaves
Fell from the rayon trees

Flying pharmacologic first class. Tallong, NSW, Australia. 2010

Over the Easter long weekend, I met Shawn who is visiting Australia from the US. Shawn is an old friend and fellow anaesthetist of a friend of mine, Peter.

I always find doctors entertaining in social circumstances, and I love pumping them for information about things I probably shouldn’t know about. As a consequence, I had what I thought was a pretty interesting conversation with Shawn and Peter while we were hanging out at my in-law’s holiday home in Tallong over Easter.

Me: “So, Shawn, how was the flight over?”

Dr. “Shawn: Cattle class always sucks.”

Dr. Peter: “You should’ve flown business.”

Dr. Shawn: “I know, I know, but I just can’t justify it to myself, even though I can afford it.”

Me: “I hate economy and I dislike the fact that I can’t afford first class even more.”
“It’s so cramped and after a few hours my joints start to swell and ache.”
“Not to mention the tedium.”
“Surely as a doctor, you’d be able to prescribe something to make economy more like first class?”

Dr. Shawn: “Well, you wouldn’t be getting a script from me, and that’s for sure.”

Dr. Peter: “Or me for that matter!”

Me: “Don’t go getting all high and mighty with me you glorified meat plumbers!”

Dr. Shawn: “Look, the trouble is that probably the best drug to control the general pain from sitting in a seat for so long would be a narcotic like Endone.”

Dr. Peter: “That stuff is hillbilly heroin!”
“Although we may be friends, you won’t get me writing you any prescriptions for narcotics just so you can fly in comfort in the cheap seats.”
“Anyhow, the Endone would constipate you.”

Dr. Shawn: “Metamucil would help out there.”

Me: “So it’s only the rich and famous with their pet doctors who get to travel by air comfortably?”

Dr. Peter: “They’d have enough money to travel first class anyway.”

Dr. Shawn: “Having enough money to keep a doctor or two in your pocket can lead to death.”
“Look at Michael Jackson and Heath Ledger.”

Me: “So you wouldn’t help out about the general pain, but what about the joint aches and swelling?’

Dr. “Shawn: A Voltaren patch would work well.”

Dr. Peter: “You can’t get those here in Australia.”

Me: “So I guess you’d have to take the pills?”

Dr. Shawn: “Yes and I’d also say it would be worthwhile to take some Aspirin to counter the risk of deep vein thrombosis.”
“Trouble is that the Voltaren and Aspirin are hard on the stomach so I’d say Zantac would be worth taking too.”

Me: “Well, all that leaves is the boredom, and adjusting to the jet lag.”

Dr. Shawn: “The best way to pass the time would be to sleep and for that I’d take Stilnox although Lunesta might be better.” 
“Stilnox lasts for about 4 fours Lunesta works for about 8 hours.”

Dr. Peter: “You can’t get Lunesta in Australia but Stilnox is ok, and no, Razz, I’m not going to help you out there either!”

Me: “O.K., O.K. be that way!”
“But as a matter of interest, how much would this Pharmacological First Class upgrade cost?”

Dr. Shawn: “Under ten bucks.”

So there you have it, people. There is a way to fly long distance, comfortably and cheaply.

Unfortunately it’s illegal.

Desmond Dekker sings “Israelites” off the album “Black & Dekker”

I remember when I first heard Desmond Dekker’s, “Israelites” back in the late 1960s, I was blown away by how different it sounded. It wasn’t until the late seventies that I realised it was reggae.

I was one of those people in that late 1970s that absolutely hated disco and I was also beginning to be bored with rock at about the same time. Punk had come out as an antidote, but to me much of it was like rock that was being performed on speed. Reggae offered some relief but the music of that time that spoke me the most was ska. I couldn’t get enough of ska and it always disappointed me that the skinheads appropriated the genre as their own, which of course turned so many people off the music.

One of my favourite ska albums was Desmond Dekker’s, “Black and Dekker. What made this album so great, in my mind, was that instead of just re-releasing Desmond’s old hits played the same old way, as some kind of retrospective cash cow, Stiff Records (a punk label) teamed Dekker up with Graham Parker’s backing band “The Rumour”.  A band as tight and hard driving as The Rumour was a perfect match for Dekker to bring him up to date.

This video is a TV performance of Dekker doing his up-dated version of “Israelites”.

[youtube 1e2aRfqp1sY]