Speaking of dreams

Once, I had a dream. It was many years ago, some time after my conversion, or reversion. Many of the details of time, place and event are now hazy; even the details of the dream have blurred. I was still young enough in my newly-recovered faith to be susceptible to such a dream, and to go searching eagerly for its references. Continue reading “Speaking of dreams”


If I am not woken suddenly—by an alarm clock, for example—I often find myself in a state on the cusp between sleep and wakefulness; in reverie. And often in that oftenness some questions that have been in the back of my mind will find their way to the front. The other morning—the one that triggered this post—I “woke”, and started thinking about the West Antarctic ice shelf, as one does. Continue reading “Emergence”

Down on Fairfield Road

About a month ago, Jen and I went for a bike ride on a Saturday afternoon. On the way home, we came up the back streets from Hyde Park. We got to Yeronga Street, and were about to cross into the commercial block when we saw them. A duck was crossing Yeronga, followed by seven ducklings, their legs flailing away to keep up. We rolled over into the car park, watching them progress up the other side of the street. Some bloke joined us, beaming at them. They crossed Fairfield Road at the lights. A couple of other were standing there watching them as well. The traffic was at its calmest at that time on Saturday afternoon, but the road was by no means empty. As we watched, a van came followed our route down Shottery Street and stopped to let them across the intersection, still following Yeronga. Seeing the van, Mum picked up the pace. Somehow the chicks kept up. Continue reading “Down on Fairfield Road”

A Tale of Two Parties

The election-night convention is that the losing leader first concedes defeat, and when these formalities are out of the way the victor claims the spoils. In each case, these speeches, replete with the necessary acknowledgments and thank-yous, are delivered to a gathering of the hard-core faithful.

I recall some vivid scenes from what my memory tells me are past examples of the genre: Malcolm Fraser in victory deflecting Tammy’s adoring embrace; Fraser in defeat, at the precipice of tears, with Tammy attentive at his side; Keating alone on stage, announcing, This is one for the true believers, to a rapturous rock-concert response. Continue reading “A Tale of Two Parties”


Jen and I went to dinner in West End Saturday night before last. From Highgate Hill, we went down Dornoch Terrace to Hardgrave, and the first clump of the West End eateries. We went on down towards the next group, centered on what was the Rialto picture show. We have long been threatening to go to the Tongue and Groove, a name of intricate connotation, on a live music night, but there was no visible means of support for the car, so we turned back towards Dornoch, and found a park not far from the food. We hadn’t thought about booking, of course, but we got a table at Lefkas. We arrived without a bottle of wine, and I set off, thinking I would have to go down to the Rialto, but there was next door a bottle shop we hadn’t noticed. The Oyster Bay sav blanc is mighty popular in these parts, and they had sold out, so we ended up with another Kiwi called The Ned, which was tasty. Waiting for the food, we got to talking about Jen’s leaving Intensive Care. Continue reading “Protocol”

Raindrops keep fallin’….

It rained briefly but heavily in the city at lunch time yesterday. The sun came out almost immediately and the sky was predominantly blue again. I was sitting under cover of what used to be the Bank of Queensland building. As I walked out towards Elizabeth Street, a light rain was still falling. On the footpath, I looked around for the source. Only blue, and a few flimsy scraps of cloud. On the open space at the end of the Mall, as I headed down Edward, a light sparse shower was still falling. I looked up into it, and saw tiny balls of water falling towards me, drifting sideways in the breeze. Then it occurred to me that this must have been the runoff from the hi-rise. Up above, from pools on the top and from window seals and edgings, from concrete awnings and the various nooks and crannies on the face of these towers, residual rivulets were making their way to some precipice. Falling, they were being flailed by gravity and the wind into a spray of droplets, to make their their individual and scattered way to the street, like an afterthought of the shower.

Drifting off

I was in the Blessed Sacrament chapel at St Stephen’s a couple of days ago, listening distractedly to the sermon echoing in the body of the cathedral behind me, as I drifted off sleepily. The almost indecipherable words commanding attention from some unseen source reminded me of another sensation. I suddenly realised that one of the defining characteristics of the state of drifting into sleep is a similar loss of precision in things heard.

As you slip over the edge, some sounds retain a grip on the attention longer than the rest; familiar voices, for example. It’s not that these foreground sounds echo—indeed they seem to become sharper—but that the auditory background becomes blurred, so that the voice that arrests your melting attention becomes detached, and drifts off above the blurring and echoing sounds below. It was a sensation frequently noticed and immediately forgotten, brought back by this auditory accident before the tabernacle.

Night Vision

I don’t enjoy aspirin the way I used to. Aspirin used to be a taste sensation for me. I would always chew the tablets, for that shrapnel burst of salicylate, almost as mouth-curdling in its own way as lemon, and it seemed to me that the analgesic effect was kick-started with the absorption of that distinctive taste. I don’t think that the generic aspirin I buy tastes any different, but it has lost most of its interest; a consequence—another consequence—of the breakdown of discipline and morale in the body’s engineering corps that comes with advancing years. Continue reading “Night Vision”

A divorce you don’t want

Jen’s been doing it hard. In order to let me get another 7 months’ work at the Labs in Bristol, she resigned from her beloved Intensive Care Unit back in the middle of 2006. She could only take 12 months leave without pay, and time was up. By the time we came back, a little less than a year later, that rule had changed to allow 3 years leave, but it was too late for Jen. Continue reading “A divorce you don’t want”


We had a day for it, all right. It was, I think, the 3rd of August, a Friday, in what we would always have considered the depths of winter. It’s a Brisbane winter we’re talking about, and it can be cold and windy on Moreton Bay, but that Friday was, as you can see, balmy—blue sky, green-blue water, and a light wind. The water-taxi took us from Redland Bay out between Macleay and Coochiemudlo Islands, then up to Peel Island. Once we rounded Peel, we were looking across the broad expanse of the bay, with the port just visible to the west, Moreton Island to the north-east, and northern-most part of North Stradbroke to the east. Continue reading “Ashes”