March 2007

Listening to: Be My Rambling Woman – Rory McLeod

Sometimes I feel disappointed by the most ridiculous things.

On my last trip to Europe, I was so lonely. I spent the whole time feeling simultaneously elated and miserable.

Now my parents are planning their first trip to Europe in 18 years or so, and I’ve been so excited. I’ve wanted them to go back there forever (partly because – when I was younger, at least – I hoped they’d take me with them and we’d never leave, but mostly because I just want to share it with them again in some way). Except that they’re not going to my Europe at all. They’re going to France and Portugal and Italy and Greece, which I’m sure are lovely and which I hope to visit one day, but I want them to follow in my footsteps, so that, even though no one was with me at the time, I’ll be able to share stories with someone about the surreality of Czech Tesco or how unexpectedly moving Haus am Checkpoint Charlie was, or how parts of Amsterdam are just as we left them. Amsterdam is monumental for me, and I was only seven when we left; I can’t understand how, even though they really liked it and lived there for huge chunks of their young adulthoods, they can be so thoroughly disinterested in returning. (How did my parents raise such a sentimental person? Honestly.)

Anyway, I find myself genuinely annoyed with them. It’s really silly, and I hope it doesn’t show. But there it is.

Meanwhile, Adelaide has just been exploding with culture for the last month or so. Film festival, Womad, French film festival, Fringe… The Fringe Festival is on now, and, to be honest, I haven’t been paying that much attention to it (although everyone I know seems to know someone who’s putting on a show), but on Monday night I saw Rory McLeod. He was on at about eleven o’clock, and most people had already gone home for the night (it being a Monday), so there were only about thirty of us squeezed onto the wooden benches of the Bosco Theater (yes, note the spelling – surely it hasn’t travelled all that way, this little wooden circus tent thing?) in the Garden of Unearthly Delights at the end of Rundle Street, and he was phenomenal. Harmonica and guitar and spoons and voice and tap shoes, and he told stories (the man must have lived everywhere at some point) and he played songs (some of which made me cry – I don’t know what is wrong with me lately), and then we all shuffled off home through the deserted streets at around half past midnight. If he ever comes round your way (and he probably will eventually), it’s so worth checking him out. I’ve been a fan of his albums for years, but live was something else altogether. Just really, really good, you know?

It’s slowly getting colder here, and it’s so nice (jumpers! rain!). I have an assignment to do this weekend, but I’m trying to break the cycle and not freak out too much. I wrote a report for Acquiring & Using Information Resources on Monday, and I felt so calm about it that that started to worry me…

ETA: Rory McLeod’s Singing Copper and Live Bits and Interviews (if your’e not a harmonica fan, don’t let the first ten seconds or so put you off) on YouTube.


Listening to: North Sea Bubble (Live Bootleg version)– Billy Bragg

Firstly, I now have a Flickr account (all of the usernames I have ever used anywhere on the internet were taken, so I just followed through with the My Finest Hour theme). It’s pretty much all Womad at the moment, plus there’s a photo of my new Ikea bed. I finally got fed up with tripping over things and dead-legging myself on my old bed because there was no room to swerve and avoid it, and took a trip to Ikea last weekend and bought myself a Tromsö (that picture shows the single; mine’s actually a double bed). It’s completely transformed my shoebox of a room, and it forced me to clear all the crap off my desk so I actually have somewhere to study now! We’ll see how long this lasts. I have already twice hit my head on that weird low bit of ceiling next to the ladder, but I can live with it. I don’t expect to sleep in this bed for the rest of my life or anything (although the loft bed as a concept has awakened all these childhood fantasies, plus it reminds me of the bed in the yurt), but it suits my current needs wonderfully.

Secondly, I watched A Fat Rant by Joy Nash this morning, and it’s pretty terrific:

Listening to: Nancy Drew – Tuscadero

Okay, this one’s mainly for ‘Stine – did you know about this? The mum from The Wonder Years is going to be on The Bold and the Beautiful! (I hope I’m not really behind the times on this; it’s been a while since I’ve watched – we’re still a couple of years behind America, right?)

Anyway, I was excited. The convergence of those two great pillars of our childhoods…

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Ari Up is on Spicks & Specks!

How unexpectedly brilliant.

Listening to: It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) – Bob Dylan

While I am photo-ing, here are some recent things:

Quote from Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright (1957)

This is what I’m working on whilst listening to people at Womad. It’s a quote from Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright, one of my favourite books when I was a kid. I’m hoping to finish it while I still have tooth-braces of my own (it’s going to be the lid of a bag).

Lime cheesecake with chocolate swirl

Cheesecake! It’s just Soy King creamcheese mixed with Aeroplane Quick Set jelly (which is absolutely disgusting – I had to tinker with it quite a bit to get a decent flavour, and won’t be using it again even if it is vegan – it tastes like washing up liquid. I recommend the seaweed stuff from your local Asian supermarket instead), marbled with chocolate (melted and mixed with a bit of soymilk) on a digestive biscuit base. It’s not quite as good as, say, a real lemon cheesecake (i.e. sans jelly), which will be my next trick (except that I am swearing off cane sugar for a while after this weekend), but it was quick, easy, and satisfied the cheesecake craving I’ve had since I was in Manchester a couple of years ago. (I only recently discovered that Soy King is, in fact, vegan, and have been a little bit obsessed with it ever since.)

I hope there's nothing embarrassing on that section of my bookcase.

Gathered skirts! Actually, this one’s stalled a bit because I am putting off the arduous task of hemming it. My dressmaker’s dummy’s been standing guard there in the corner for a couple of weeks now, taking up my last remaining bit of floorspace. The skirt’s inside out; its outer layer is navy blue. I’ve been sticking to plain colours, but have been inspired by all the patterns at Womad this weekend and I think I’ll bust out the vintage sheets again for my next creation.

Listening to: From Little Things Big Things Grow – Kev Carmody

The book is Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston; listening to Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier.

(Oh, god. Now there’s a photo of me on the internet. Do I dare…?)


Day 2 of Womadelaide was terrific. I saw Deborah Conway and Willy Zygier (really good), Etran Finatawa (also really good – reminded me of Tinariwen, whom we saw a couple of years ago), Kev Carmody (fantastic – entertaining between-songs banter, too), the Waifs (from a distance – listened to them while wandering around getting dinner – much better than I thought they’d be), Yasmin Levy (amazing voice – like Spanish yodelling) and Mariza (another amazing voice).

Stage 2, Womadelaide 2007

The only downside is that Botanic Park is packed. There must be double the number of people in previous years. I know that tickets have sold out, and it’s actually been difficult to move around at times. I don’t know what they’ve done differently – have they advertised interstate this year? – but it’s insane. There’s more litter around as a result, which is annoying – Womad’s supposed to be a rubbish-free event (there are only two types of bins – recyclable and biodegradable – which are everywhere, and everything sold at the event fits into one of them). That said, the atmosphere is still basically the same as always, and I feel so at ease this weekend. People, get yourselves to a folk festival. The Canberra one’s on at Easter.

Lampshade tree

I’m working tomorrow afternoon, but after that am hoping to see Asha Bhosle and the Kronos Quartet, and Salif Keita!

Listening to: Dum Maro Dum – Asha Bhosle and the Kronos Quartet

First night of Womadelaide!

So far: Lila Downs (Mexico/USA) was okay, Lunasa (Ireland) were pretty good but were dwarfed by the main stage and the enormous crowd (might try and see them again on a smaller stage), and Rebetiki (Greek band from Melbourne) were wonderful. They played after dark on the Moreton Bay stage (in a grove of Moreton Bay fig trees), and the atmosphere was relaxed and happy, and some people danced and some people dozed, and the music was teriffic. They’re playing in Melbourne on the 31st – see them if you can.

My mum’s come with us this year (usually it’s just me and Dad), and it’s really nice to spend time with her like this (at home, she’s usually pretty stressed).

I have taken photos, and will upload them soon. The art installations are kind of underwhelming this year, but to be fair I haven’t fully explored the park yet and may not have seen the main one. There were stacks of people out tonight – usually things don’t pick up until the Saturday. Hmm.

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