Just went back 5 years, now how about 1?

Not that (perhaps apart from Victoria) we in Australia have too much to moan about, but COVID does seem to me to have changed our perception of time itself, so there is now since 2020 and before 2020 almost as different ages! One bonus of course is that it also ended the weirdest rule in US history in my life time, the aberration — one desperately hopes — which was that clearly not a genius, and clearly not stable, charlatan Donald J Trump.

But enough of him.

In the latter stage of our COVID lockdown City Diggers here in Wollongong, thanks to the lovely Sharyn who was made redundant when the Golf Club took over the club later in 2020, had been running puzzles and games via Facebook. And in June I did rather well:

I’ve won, I’ve won! So that means a music post…

Posted on  by Neil

Books and gumbo did well for this blog yesterday! However, back to music because, you see, I won! At City Diggers that is. And a picture puzzle about Beatles songs during the lockdown. Thus:

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That means free meals! So I reckon I should honour the Beatles without whose songs this could not have happened.

And it looks as if that was also my first gumbo, mentioned in that post. Things were opening up. Of course I had another just two weeks ago.

Yesterday: books and gumbo in that order

Posted on  by Neil

Back at City Diggers after lunch with Chris T at Soco Kitchen (please book; COVID-safe capacity 14) I posted this on FB labelled “having a post-gumbo red wine.”

I do indeed look suitably replete. And no wonder! Here is SoCo Kitchen’s gumbo:


Before that I had been to Wollongong Library returning the crop of books I had had for months (except for two they posted to me when my reservations became available). The entire operation of visiting the library nowadays under COVID is rather like visiting a speakeasy in the Roaring 20s. Find the side door. Knock and wait….

And here are the books I returned. Quite a bunch, all but one really interesting and some outstanding.

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Now the ones I borrowed yesterday. Look how long the due-by dates are! Not expecting COVID to go anywhere soon, are they? It’s usually three weeks.

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I am going to frustrate you by not saying anything about the books yet. Perhaps you can try Goodreads out on them — they are probably all there.

I have quickly checked the books borrowed yesterday myself and it seems I am in for some good reads. My random choices quite often turn out well.

Of course there were many other things I blogged this time last year, but I will conclude with something musical as #3.

I discover Mongolian rock!

Posted on  by Neil

Well not really. It already existed before I came around, and its cultural roots long before that. But first: there are two Mongolias. The country Mongolia has a population of just 3.5 million.  Inner Mongolia (内蒙古) is an Autonomous Region of China, with a population of 25 million. Mongolia once dominated China.


That’s a Persian painting of  Genghis Khan in 1213-14. We’ve all heard of him, but most of  us know very little about him, despite his creating one of the most extensive world empires ever.  The Mongolian rock group The Hu certainly remember him. 5,156,745 views — premiered Aug 23, 2019! (The band is from non-Chinese Mongolia. Look again at the population! They tour a lot, in fact were stuck in Sydney because of the pandemic.)

… Another artist of Chinese Mongolian origin is Tengger. This video is part of a competition,  Singer 2018, which an English woman ended up winning. And this brings me to how I ended up watching all this.

Yesterday I posted on Facebook:

When you see comments like these — “One of the greatest artists alive and to have ever lived!” and “Appreciation and respect from USA. What a great singer!” — you sit up and take notice. Immediately I see the horse-head fiddle and know this is Mongolian, but in this case Inner Mongolia — that is in China. He [Tengger] really is AMAZING!

(The video below is the song that attracted those comments.)

And this is how I encountered Mongolian music just over a week ago, thanks to Michael Xu who posted some items from the modern Chinese music shows that appear on CCTV-3. (Trump never watches them. Xu Jinping probably does….) Then it just took YouTube’s algorithms to steer me to such as The Hu (Mongolian) and Hanggai (Chinese Mongolian), after which I told Chris Turner who was hooked, and yesterday Colin and Adam at Diggers. Overnight an ex-SBHS student said very nice things about one of my postings: “I doubt I would have ever come across that in any other way, as I have no connection to that culture or history and live in the philistine island oasis that is Australia.”

I have cut a couple of videos there, one because it has since disappeared from YouTube though I have now replaced it, and the other as less necessary.

Do go back and look at June 2020. There is a lot there!