From one of my more ancient archives!
So what happened near this day?
While looking for evidence on my old diaries about scintillating scotoma (see previous entry) I decided to review what was happening in my life around this day since 1999! That’s a lot of diary, not all of it online. Below you can read what I found, the last two years being linked as they are still archived online.
22 November 1999: Went to city today for first time since the agoraphobia started. Unfortunately also smoked. Object of exercise Year 11/12 Study Day at Sydney Hilton– Robert Gray, et al. Two light beers at Flinders with Colin on way home. Survived the ordeal of city, but walking, not bus or train. Next challenge Erskineville next week. Noticed on Saturday Chinatown now pretty much OK. Reflect on fact M now been away six months. Nothing heard since letter to A dated one month ago from Kathmandu.
Monday, November 20 2000: in which Ninglun does not solve the world’s problems 😉 If we take a theme that has been emerging here in recent days, prompted by the end of the HSC and the conversations I’ve been having with eighteen-year-olds about being eighteen.
It is an interesting world that eighteen-year-olds have inherited, but a glance at history shows the world I inhabited (but largely ignored thanks to fundamentalist religion) was just as fraught: a month after my 18th birthday Britain applied to join the EEC; the Berlin Wall went up — there was a hit song at the time called “West of the Wall” the USSR tested a 30 megaton bomb; Eichmann was sentenced to death five months after my birthday; US troops entered Laos; and the day after I turned 19 the first satellite TV link between Europe and the US was made — another hit song was called Telstar
So now I think of globalisation and its impact, of the seeming triumph of a particularly rampant form of capitalism. I am still convinced that the marriage of morality and politics/economics leads straight to some form of democratic socialism; it is greed alone that prevents the rich and powerful from conceding that — and sadly the fact that socialism was brought into bad odour by its bastard child Marxism-Leninism.
How’s that for simplistic nostrums, boys and girls? But I’m a poor old thing who hasn’t been eighteen for a very long time 😉
November 21 2001: Havens…from the cold I have been working a little less lately — one day less in theory, since an HSC student I was shepherding has now successfully negotiated the year. So today I taught just one lesson, then went to the Library, then on to a particular coffee shop that has become a favourite in recent times.
Places acquire associations. It is not just that this is an extremely pleasant shop with a charming if dotty owner, but that going there makes me particularly happy, as I associate the place with being happy. I gather I am not alone, as I hear other customers go there perhaps for similar reasons; it can be a haven on cold wet days like today or yesterday, a place to read quietly, or to settle the nerves before some stress.
I should mention that last Sunday I called in there and saw the proprietor’s youngest son, who is red-headed as well as cute, though that is for me an aesthetic and academic judgment I hasten to add.
I am reading two books, as it happens, and will tell you about each in more detail later on. The first is very rich indeed; it won the Booker Prize last year: Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin. The second is angry in places, but also very honest and in places just right: Paul Monette, Becoming a Man (1992), a gay autobiography. Lined up are a number of others, including in my leisure reading field of crime fiction/thriller The Bannerman Affair (1997) by Australian writer Gareth Harvey. Another reason for choosing that last one is that (my God!) thirty years ago I taught Gareth Harvey in Wollongong!
Well, tomorrow is a total work-free day, so I look forward to the coffee shop again 🙂
Wednesday, November 20, 2002: Yes, a Shakespeare play I had never read before — King John — which we, The Rabbit and I, finished reading today, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Perhaps this line appeals more:
There is so hot a summer in my bosom,
That all my bowels crumble up to dust:
I am a scribbled form, drawn with a pen
Upon a parchment, and against this fire
Do I shrink up.
Which is what you say when a monk has just poisoned you. I was disappointed though that Robin Hood did not appear in the play once, but there was a Bastard, and (at least as I understood him) a rather camp assassin named Hubert.
Sunday, November 23, 2003: Diary-X Ninglun pulls it off, avec Agneau du Printemps de Nouvelle-Zeland!
I refer, of course, to my amazingly accurate prediction yesterday, though I had no money riding on it. Yes, the Rugby World Cup, won deservedly by England in a last-minute field goal. Sirdan, Malcolm, Kevin and I watched it at Sirdan’s place and found ourselves thoroughly enjoying it; the Empress was also there but tended to fall asleep a bit.
I’ll tell you what, Sirdan knows a thing or two about lamb. All those years in New Zealand, I suppose. The New Zealand lamb leg he baked last night was, we all agreed, probably the best lamb we have ever had, real melt-in-the-mouth stuff. The 1999 McLaren Vale Shiraz didn’t go too badly either.
20 November 2004: Diary-X Another hot one in Sydney yesterday, chilling afterwards at The Shakespeare again but this time with Sirdan who has, wait for it, been invited to THE Sydney Christmas Party – Saatchi and Saatchi. He’s going too. Last year it was reported thus in the Sydney Morning Herald: “…access to last night’s invitation-only Saatchi & Saatchi end-of-year party – a highlight of the social calendar – was strictly limited so that select staff and guests could ‘relax and enjoy’ themselves…” A somewhat different aspect is reported on Interview with the Cleaner:
“I will never forget the Xmas party at Saatchi & Saatchi, Sydney (us media chicks used to get Snatchi & Snatchi) when some pissed idiot took a steaming dump in the lift thinking it would be funny. It was.”
Will Thorpie be there???
Still, despite this elevation to the ranks of The Invited, Sirdan is still available to give advice on pickling and brewing, among other things… Such as growing pumpkins on an inner-city balcony…
So there you go! What a geek I have become!
English Teacher moments
The link above takes you back to August, when I mentioned Scott Poynting, an ex-student from Wollongong who is now at the University of Western Sydney. Imagine how pleased I was to receive this email the other day.
I had heard from a 1972 classmate about your blog site, but only came across it googling to see whether anyone was mentioning our books (the sort of thing one does when there’s marking to be done). Thank you for the nice things you said about them.
Teaching is far too thankless a pursuit (in comparison to its value). With your extensive networks now, however, you must hear from more ex-students than most. This one wants to thank you for reading aloud to us from ‘The Sound and the Fury’ in 1972, and the love of literature to which that contributed. I went on (after a false start – a floating life, if you like) to study English at UNSW, and studied this novel in first year. I later read all the Faulkner I could get my hands on. Later still, I studied American Literature at Macquarie. Another false start, but a floating I don’t regret.
Thank you, also, for reading to us in 1972 from ‘The Outcasts of Foolgarah’. I later went on to read all the Frank Hardy novels I could get my hands on (and most were better than ‘Outcasts’, though the politics attracted me). By that time I was teaching mathematics – another false start. I read a bit of ‘Outcasts’ to my students last year, in a subject on ‘Social Inequalities’, during a week in which we contrast Woollahra and Bankstown.
Yes, you taught me English. Thank you.
Then after coaching today Ben returned a few books and gave me enough free yum chas to sustain an army; I will be sharing with M, but there is enough in the pot to cover one of the Sunday lunches with Sirdan and Lord Malcolm as well! I also had an email from another coachee, Erwin, who is reading “Paradise Lost”. Indeed, indeed….