Monday, 19 January 2009

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink...

Going to try something different with the blog for a while. More frequent, but shorter pieces. Am responding to the need to spend more time writing (Number Two specifically, novel and short story projects generally), without giving up the blog network, which is an enjoyable addiction.

Have been in Melbourne for a few days, which always provides an excuse to savour a couple more restaurants from this capital of restaurants (no kidding), and had an excellent Vietnamese banquet at Binh Minh on Victoria Street, Richmond. It's energetic, noisy and always seems a tad chaotic (so crowded three of us were standing at the tables they'd rustled up for our party of six) while one of the waiters went hunting for extra chairs. (Wild chairs can be seen roaming down the back lanes and alleys of Richmond, but it takes a trained Chair Whisperer to catch them.)

Was staying in North Melbourne, a suburb of cobbled lanes and wide streets I hadn't spent time in before, but am smitten with the architecture: lots of terraced workers' cottages with wrought iron filligree; small front yards with deep verandahs. Some of the double storey houses are more Italianate in style. And only a short walk from Queen Vic market, where I stocked up on tea from the wonderful McIver's: Ceylon BOP, Assam, Orange Pekoe, Queen Mary, Darjeeling and... being something of a doughnut and unable to juggle so much tea at one time, I picked up two packs of Queen Mary instead of including my favourite Irish Breakfast. Hmm.

I always try and get to one of the galleries when in Melbourne, and so called in at the NGV's (National Gallery of Victoria) Ian Potter Centre in Fed Square to have a squiz at an exhibition of photographs by Rennie Ellis (No Standing Only Dancing). It depicted an Australia of the 70s and 80s, which I didn't know, so was interested to compare many of the images with my memories of the UK and France during this period. I liked that Rennie Ellis adopted a similar philosophy to Alfred Stieglitz who said of his own photography:
"Art or not art, that is immaterial - I continue on my own way, seeking my own truth, ever affirming today." (Interesting exhibition, but one of my favourite contemporary - and local - photographers remains Richard Crawley.)

Inspiration comes in many forms and I picked up an idea for Number Four when I was looking in a shop in Royal Parade. Have been chewing through it ever since, and I think it might just work. Am saying no more than that for the moment. Oooh, the mystery!

Back at the PC today (obviously) and it was my intention to get stuck into Number Two at nine o'clock. However, with the post came a letter from the Water Board. Thought it must be a bill, but it wasn't even that good. They were letting me know that they'd taken a meter reading recently and that it was unusually high. Very politely they advised me that either:
  • we'd had more guests staying with us than usual and that not only had they all been showering at least ten times a day, but that their elephants had been showering at this rate too;
  • our garden watering had increased to such an extent that we'd possibly be eligible for rice growing subsidies;
  • we had an underground leak that might make Niagra Falls look like a trickle.
After some spectacularly successful Plumber Whispering, a plumber is in the garden digging lots of holes and looking increasingly in need of rehydration (it is high summer here, after all). I've considered taking a bottle of ice cold rain water out for him, but am convinced that he'll sniff out the source of the leak much quicker if he's very, very thirsty... and, besides, I now have to think of 10 ways to pay the forthcoming water bill, the plumber and all my credit card bills from the weekend.

Oh, he seems to have fainted into one of his holes. Maybe I should take that water out after all. "Hey, you can't lie there; that's not a garden bed." I'll just go and rustle up a chair...


Mike French said...

And there is your idea for book 5:

The Strange Case of the Stolen Water
by Paul Burman

I can see it now, surely be a classic!

Paul said...

I'd need a dry sense of humour to write that, Mike.

Jane Turley said...

Gosh, I always imagined Melbourne to be quite modern but it sounds really rather quaint and fetching.

So you have Pay As You Go water? Yep, we have too. The UK has been gradually changing over to meters. Maybe everyone has them now? - I'm not sure...It's a good idea though as people do think about the quantity of water they use but when things happen like burst pipes on your land you can really come a cropper.

High summer? I've got my thermals on! Thought I'd flaunt them on my Hot Horny Housewife blog. What d'you reckon - am I on to a winner?!

Paul said...

It's a beautiful city, Jane. One of the best. I'll have to do a photo blog some time. As long as you do a photo blog of your thermals on Hot Horny Housewife! (Are these served as an anaphrodisiac?)