With that 80th year looming I look back 20 to find I was blogging!

This post is for the evening of the 29th and the morning of the 30th of June.

Look at the evidence from 20 years ago, thanks to the Wayback Machine!

Oh my!

30 June 2002

Instead of going to Forresters in Surry Hills, we went to the Yum Kee in Chinatown and shared a meal of (somewhat modified?) Northern Chinese cuisine, the fish dish being particularly splendid. There was a new visitor from Taiwan via NZ, plus Sirdan, the Empress, Lord Malcolm, and Lord Bruce. The Crown Prince had logistical difficulties.

The Empress has lent me two books, one of which I have begun. It is Tariq Ali’sThe Clash of Fundamentalisms dealing with the current “War on Terror” and the Middle East. His perspective is clearly left, but none the worse for that; while lingering respect for the old communist regimes is a worry, what has come into play lately, the New World Disorder and the assorted insanities that drive so many, are as much a worry surely; also Ali is right: the USA is not the unmitigated “good guy” in all this. The book deserves reading.

Deserving watching (especially by those who wonder what trades unions might be for, and what exploitation actually means) is a documentary recently on SBS here in Sydney on the sweatshops of US Saipan. Read about it here. And get very angry.

1 July 2002

Yesterday after our Chinese lunch we adjourned to our favourite Irish pub, where the conversation eventually turned to the relationship between gay sons and their fathers, a relationship that often proves very problematic. A number of stories were told, some inspiring hope, others revealing sadness or tension.

The Porterhouse on Riley Street — our favourite Irish pub

In my own case, the issue was postponed as at nineteen or so I was closeted (without even knowing there was such a thing) and impeccably respectable. The major issue for my father, looking back on it, at that time was probably that his business and career had come crashing down around him and he was in fact economically dependent on me, at least for a while. I sense now how humiliating that must have been. I am now the age he was then, older in fact. Some years later he broke down mentally, so our subsequent conversations ranged from the bizarre to the mundane, and we never discussed my emerging realisation that I was gay, but I know he knew–don’t ask me how, but I just know.

My mother certainly did, and when at the ridiculously (but not uncommonly) late age of forty or so I came out to her, she was “accepting”, though she admitted not to understand. I have to say that my attempting to educate her by getting her to read Loving Someone Gay, a very fine book in its way, did backfire a little.

It was a case of my new-found zeal to be open was just a little misplaced. Nonetheless, in the few years left to us after that, my mother often delighted in regaling me with the latest gay gossip she, quite oddly, was well-placed to hear in the particular “sunset home” she was in at the time. (Her personal carer was at the centre of one of the most publicised gay “scandals” in Sydney during those years.)

That I was able just before he died to tell my father that I loved him and for him to tell me “I love you too, son” brings tears to my eyes even as I type this, but I am very glad it happened.

I had a call from my older brother when I arrived home. He lives in Tasmania, and his partner (female) of very many years died early this year. It turns out yesterday was her birthday, so he wished to talk to me, as I am all the immediate family he has left (aside from his own children, none of whom live close to him.) A few months back he and I met face-to-face for the first time in twenty years. I have never discussed my sexuality with him, but he knows; he certainly knew when he saw my living arrangements, but he knew before that. The hugs we shared that day matter so much to me; he is a laconic person, not a verbal junkie like me, so the hugs mean even more.

I have checked Google for resources on straight parent/gay son issues. There is a good column in Mogenic called Educate the parents, which has among other things this lovely one-liner: There is a big taboo about converting straight people to homosexuality. (Personally I think the chances of that actually happening are as good as your chances of getting kicked to death by a duck.)

3 July 2002

Our friend Sirdan was admitted to St Vincents Hospital on Monday afternoon. That it is serious is borne out by his admission despite the current crisis affecting St Vincents and other major hospitals: Overcrowding in city hospitals worsened yesterday, with almost every major emergency department forced to turn away ambulances carrying patients who were not critically ill. He is suffering from an antibiotic-resistant infection that was causing him much discomfort even on Sunday, when the Empress advised him to go to the doctor next day, which he did with the result just described. He is apparently in good spirits, but I propose to confirm that for myself very soon.

Meantime the last diary has really set me thinking about my father, who passed away in 1989. I think I shall write something about him here soon.

4 July 2002

First off, Sirdan was quite chirpy yesterday afternoon, and only a part of him is afflicted–but it is a part he would rather keep. We wish him well. He has been in a lot of pain, but as of yesterday that had improved. His problem is certainly not to be taken lightly though.

Yesterday too I had an email requesting some good Australian sites for young gay people. The request came from a very remarkable young man in Texas, Garith, whose email acquaintance I made via a comment I left on his guest book at the currently beleaguered Talk City domain. His site had simply blown me away!

Our correspondence since has been sporadic, but enough to know he has not always had it easy, but what a man he is proving to be, in less than promising circumstances in some ways. Judge for yourself, for here are … some great quotes, as sent in the email yesterday:

“Because families are defined by love not gender. Because hatred is not a family value. Because equal rights are not special rights.”
Anonymous

“The fact is that more people have been slaughtered in the name of religion than for any other single reason. That… THAT my friends, is true perversion.”
Harvey Milk

“When religion sanctifies hatred, it lends to that hatred a special ferocity. Normal moral inhibitors are erased.”
Johannes Cardinal Wildebrands

“You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image, when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
Anne Lamott

“In man’s world, gold, diamonds and money are greatest in value…. in actual reality, dirt, water and air are of greater importance.”
Garith

5 July 2002

I haven’t been able to see Sirdan again since Wednesday, but plan to at the weekend. If I go to Yum Cha (and I am not sure I will this time–the vibes may not be quite right) I will see him after, or maybe on Saturday.

Term has ended. I am taking on the Year 12 Extension English class for the HSC, following the sudden departure of Ms X amidst some drama. The topic: Post-Modernism! The text left to study is Australian David Williamson’s satire on the subject, Dead White Males (1995), and the class have already done the movie of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (a copy of which I have brought home from school) and John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman, which I must reread.

[2022: See Workshop 06 — Year 12 Extension 1: pomo 2002.]

Speaking of Post-Modernism, one difference (totally subjective) that strikes me about the two books I mentioned last time is this: while PowerBook and The Monkey’s Mask both are Lesbian/Queer Literature and while both contain quite a lot of sex, in PowerBook this seems less foregrounded, less strident. PowerBook is just as ideologically committed as The Monkey’s Mask but somehow seems more–how can we say?–relaxed? I am really not sure of my ground here–just impressions. I should add that the verse in The Monkey’s Mask really is quite impressive in the range of voices it can capture–it is a verse novel, remember–and it works well. The story in The Monkey’s Mask is entirely more conventional; PowerBook is a palimpsest, a display of intertextuality, yet absolutely clear in its way. Psychologically and philosophically it is the deeper novel, yet wears this lightly.

I will return to Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady for healing drafts 🙂 Like the reasons for my reading it in the first place, it is a pure pleasure in itself, made more pleasurable by having been shared; there’s no need in my life for more than that level of pleasure and I am lucky to have known it.

A significant note: M cooked up some nice food tonight. You have to know me to know what that means… His life is looking good, and is his–and that is his gain over the past time, some of which has been hard. But I rarely talk about him, as regulars here know.

Got a note–quite a long one–from Garith in Texas (see July 4) who is not unhappy about being featured. His site has an unselfishness about it as well as a quite amazing maturity for a person his age. There is a lot there that could help those he seeks to help.

14 July 2002

This rather magnificent photo of the Paris Gay Pride was sent this month by Timur, an OUT friend in England. Amazing how much these guys resemble me! 😉

30 July 2002

Went to the dentist and got a temporary filling and a threat of root canal therapy; so far so good, and I am hoping the antibiotics fix the problem.

M. moved today and the big rearrangement is well under way. He’ll be around though.

2022

So it is 20 years since Michael moved to East Redfern! Unbelievable. We had been together in Elizabeth Street Surry Hills since 1992.

East Redfern: South Dowling Street from M’s balcony

Explorations from my 2007 archive — 4

Just a couple of the matters that arose in that blog-wise very busy March 2007! One assumed relevance again yesterday — a big day in the life of FaceBook friend Ming-ming Feng, an event occurring in the Chinese Garden in Sydney.

City oasis

17 March 2007

With reference to Daniel’s latest post, here is a place I like to go sometimes. It is within walking distance of Surry Hills and Chinatown.

Later
Yes, that is the Chinese Garden of Friendship in Darling Harbour. I decided to go down there after coaching in Chinatown today to have some dim sum and green tea in the teahouse, especially now I can get my Seniors Card discount. Of course I had Shou Mei (old man’s eyebrows). I am glad I visited the garden, as I called in on Sam, who has the “dress up as a Chinese princess” concession in the garden, something he has been doing for fifteen years now. I first met Sam, who was once in the Beijing Opera, in 1990. I remember it well. I was in a coffee shop and Sam was serving. I was reading an illustrated book about the Tiananmen incidents of 1989. “I can tell you all about that,” said Sam. “I was there.” And indeed he was. It turns out Sam is giving up the “dress as a princess” business in April, and going into something new. He’s over fifty years old now too. How time flies!

Some time in 1990 or 1991 I took Sam (and M and a guy from Tianjin, a scientist, called Rui) to SBHS to talk in a history class that was studying China. Sam rather stole the show when he told the students how his father, also in the Beijing Opera, had been beaten to death by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. Kind of brought Chinese History to life, that did.

Later I did a series in my photo blog

The second item is a welcome contact from my time teaching at The Illawarra Grammar School in the 1970s.

Welcome email

19 March 2007

This morning there arrived a long email from Ross, whom I taught at Illawarra Grammar School over thirty years ago. He has had a varied and interesting career since then in various police and emergency services capacities both metropolitan and regional.

Well hello there! Perhaps I should endeavor remind who on earth is sending you this email… Ross …, ex Illawarra Grammar … Ring any bells? If not, well, hope a bothersome ex student hasn’t caused you any alarm and good luck for the future. If so, how the hell are ya’!…

Recreationally, I cycle a bit (not as fast as I used to!) and do a little running. I’ve spent an awful lot of time rock climbing and a spot of mountaineering in New Zealand, mixed in with some climb guiding here in Oz. [My wife, son and] I are off to England, Scotland and Norway the week after next for a bit of a look around…

Well Neil, it would be good to hear from you and maybe catching up for a coffee / beer / wine…I fondly recall your teaching and you have crossed my mind over the years. From some of the information on your sites, you certainly sound satisfied and content, dealing with the challenges that life hurls at us sometimes. If you have the inclination, get in touch. If not, good luck.

The coffee etc. sounds good, but only if Ross comes to Sydney. And I am not so sure about how well I have met life’s challenges. I know I could have done much better, but no point repining.

My late sister’s birthday today. She would have been 67.

One of the lads is Ross — in the TIGS staff room at night around 1974! We were all “guarding” an art exhibition…

On a more personal note

30 March 2007

Yesterday morning I spent time with Lord Malcolm, going with him to physiotherapy at the hospice and witnessing how he has virtually no muscles on his legs, and seeing both the determination and the pain as he did some gentle exercises. We then had coffee in the hospice coffee shop, wheeled out to look at Green Park for a while, and then back so he could be sent for another x-ray — some problem with the feeding tube.

Before tuition in Chinatown I had a call from ex-student Ross (class of 1976). We met and had a really good if shortish chat. Here is what one of Ross’s classmates has been up to, having diverged somewhat from Law.

Where Ross and I had a beer together

Explorations from my 2007 archive — 2

Time and friendships 2 — the class of ’59

23 March 2007

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled…

Fifty years ago at SHS my closest mates were Ashok Hegde (who went to London in 1958), Eric Sowey (who went on to an academic career in Econometrics), Roger Dye (champion high jumper who married very young), Brian Hennell (who became an inner western suburbs GP and is still, so far as I know, involved in his local community and Rotary), and Philip Selden. We spent many a weekend at each other’s homes.

So I was taken by a story in today’s Sydney Morning HeraldAnglican warning on Green support for gays. I decided to check the source: Greens’ Position in NSW State Election.

Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney

Dr Philip Selden
Diocesan Registrar and Archbishop’s Executive Officer

March 16, 2007

All Parish Clergy & Heads of Anglican Schools

Dear Friends

re NSW State Election

The NSW State Election is imminent. It is right that each person entitled to vote should assess the policies of political parties and individual candidates in deciding how to vote. It is not appropriate for the church to direct how its members vote.

However, when a political party publicizes a policy which has implications for the church and its members, it is important for that to be known.

Environmental issues are important to a great many people, as they are to the Greens and indeed to other political parties. Those are not the only issues on which the Greens have a position. Lee Rhiannon MLC of the Greens NSW, published a media release statement dated 12 March 2007. That release reads in part:

“When Parliament resumes Greens MPs will move a private members bill on civil union to ensure legal recognition of same sex and trans-gendered relationships.

Greens MPs will also continue to push our private members bill to remove loopholes in the Anti-Discrimination Act that allow private schools and religious organisations to discriminate against gays and lesbians.”

The Greens have previously attempted to change the Anti-Discrimination Act in such a way that Anglican Schools would be forced to make changes in their employment policy, and to employ people whom they may not wish to. Clearly this restated policy has implications for our churches, schools and organizations, and it is important that our members should be aware of it.

I trust that all Christians will be continuing to pray that men and women of integrity will be elected to our State Parliament, “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”

Yours sincerely

Philip Selden
Diocesan Registrar &
Archbishop’s Executive Officer

Perhaps Philip and I should exchange a few thoughts… I take that letter to imply that on the one hand there are Greens, and anyone else who favours legal recognition of same-sex unions and/or tightening anti-discrimination laws etc, and on the other hand there are “men and women of integrity.” Hmmm.

Two shameless plugs…

23 March 2007

Not that they are needed.

Last night’s ABC News devoted a substantial arts segment to the play Parramatta Girls by Alana Valentine, currently at the Belvoir Theatre. I have met Alana on occasions. The play is directed by Indigenous Australian Wesley Enoch (whom I have never met) who was mentioned here earlier this month. There is a substantial feature article, Home truths, in the Sydney Morning Herald.

You may recall my mentioning that William Yang photographed me at M’s Chinese New Year party last month. (He has gone totally digital, by the way, something I discussed with him having once had an interest — not nearly like William of course — in what he now calls “analogue photography”.) From 20 March 2007 to 24 March 2007 at CarriageWorks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh (Chippendale), just down the road from where M and I once lived, William has a new show called China.

At one level or another, most of William Yang’s shows have been about identity, belonging and the search for acceptance – and so it is in his gently evocative new work, China.

Yang, a third-generation Chinese Australian who grew up in north Queensland and has long made Sydney his home, looks to find connections in his motherland while remaining something of an outsider.

The photographer and social essayist’s China is a polished, wryly observed and typically low-key monologue with digital projection and a spare score by Nicholas Ng, who plays the erhu (Chinese violin). As was the case in The North and his most recent work, Objects for Meditation, Yang presents images of stark man-made monuments, long winding paths, dinner rituals, friends and their families, and the sheer beauty and intrigue of nature…

Voted, melted, and saw wildlife in Surry Hills

24 March 2007

So here I am back from tutoring in Chinatown and voting in Riley Street. And is it ever hot! Daylight saving ends tonight, yet at 2pm it was near enough to 35C here in Surry Hills. (That’s 90+ for those who use F still.) On the way to tutoring I saw the biggest flock of cockatoos — right near Central Station — that I can ever recall seeing in Sydney. There must have been a hundred of them. They seemed to fill the space between Central and the buildings on the corner of Elizabeth and Foveaux. Strayed in from points west because of drought?

I took that from Charlie Moores’ Bird Blog, on a page well worth looking at showing Sydney’s Botanical Gardens.

That was quite an Aboriginal moment too, as somewhere in Central someone was playing the didgeridoo giving the whole scene a rather magic quality — well giving that to me at least.

And then I voted. Yes, not Labor. Yes, not Liberal…. In neither House.

Watched The Joy Luck Club again last night

25 March 2007

I like Amy Tan’s work. Two of her books were listed in my Best Reads 2005! I first saw the movie of The Joy Luck Club (1993) with M and others back in 1993 and we both cried… Last night I cried again; it’s that sort of movie. When I wrote From Yellow Earth to Eucalypt (published by Longman 1994-5) I quoted one Lim Toom Wei from Sydney University:

Contrary to the unreserved praise gushing forth from many teary ‘politically correct’ intellectuals, this film is full of stereotypes and straightforward hogwash, What else can you make of the opening voice over that claims that in China, a woman’s worth was measured by the loudness of her husband’s belch? Though only most, but not all, of the female leads in this film conform to the soft-spoken, submissive Oriental-woman stereotype, all the significant male characters are truly despicable… On the other hand, the only significant, meaningful, loving, and ultimately successful, relationships in the film were between two of the daughters and their respective handsome white husbands. Not only are stereotypes retold, new ones are also created in this film.

Like most of the literature and films about China that have gained great popularity with Westerners, The Joy Luck Club runs like a catalogue of the same worst excesses of Chinese feudalism… The Joy Luck Club, like the average Hollywood production, is one that panders to the tastes and prejudices of the average white American audience…

Racism is bad. When it is made to look respectable, it is dangerous.

I invited students to “write a reply, not to the writer personally, but as a contribution to the argument.” Well, having seen the movie again I have to say that, while Lim Toon Wei was making some interesting observations, what he says really is piffle, or at least hyper-reactive.

And from ten years later:

Twenty years ago — some January-February remains from my early blogs (or diaries!)

Yes, much lives on in the Internet Archive, the amazing Wayback Machine! This set in 2002 tell a tale I won’t fully repeat, partly on the grounds I was well and truly sucked in by a running joke… Concerning someone who is currently a Facebook friend too!

December-January featured one of the great jokes of 2001-2, introduced thus on his web pages: It’s been an amazing three weeks. Just after writing the last entry I met a lovely girl at a post-election party at the Hughes campaign office. She is Danish and very buxom. I finally have *known* a girl… We have decided to become engaged. It’s all very sudden, I know; but this is all I’ve ever wanted in life: money, intelligent political conversation, and a very handsome elder brother. Invitations will be sent soon. I expect your messages of goodwill forthwith. All our love, X and Inge.

I did for a while believe it, I blush to admit! Now to other less embarrassing memories.

5 February 2002 Wet day crushes cutlets

It has been very wet the past few days.

Just this afternoon in Devonshire Street, Surry Hills, a very large plane tree pulled away from the waterlogged soil and fell straight onto the dining area of the hotel where just last Thursday I had dined on cutlets and mash, while my dining companion had a pasta dish. Now it really is mashed. Quite a sight and probably for the TV news tonight.

Glad it wasn’t last Thursday, which does raise the question of whether there were any diners. I did not see any ambulances.

Belvoir Street Surry Hills from my balcony, 2010.

I have updated some of the website, following downloading a good photo program from a magazine cd-rom.

In the big world George W has been counselling certain nations (admittedly not among the most charming, though Iran has relaxed somewhat in recent years) to “get their house in order.” One does wonder what he has said to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the lovely Robert Mugabe, just to name a few. As M. said, “What about China? That’s a dictatorship isn’t it?”

I wonder if bigotry and sheer bloody-minded anti-intellectualism will become less popular and less influential in the USA itself, or if there will be a remarkable fall in that country’s incarceration rate. I wonder if they will abolish the many barbaric varieties of capital punishment of which they are so fond. I wonder if the KKK still burn their crosses in the Carolinas and elsewhere. I wonder if those crazy militias are still parading, those backwoods “Christian” units with much in common with the likes of Bin Ladin’s zealots. They still did very recently. I wonder if there is still a state where there are sodomy laws. I wonder how easy it is to be a gay man in the US military. I wonder how many people are sleeping out on the streets in American cities right now. I wonder if there will be more equity in their education and health systems. I wonder how systemic the Enron affair has been. I wonder how much jingoism and hypocrisy (and worse) we have to look forward to.

Don’t get me wrong: the USA is a great country and has many fine people and institutions. I am sure there are quite a few of them worry a bit about the direction current rhetoric may take them (and all the rest of us).

10 February 2002 Bag snatch, little girls, death of a Princess

I had just shut down the computer last night after talking on ICQ about Princess Margaret (among other things) when I heard a noise on my front balcony. Foolishly I had left the screen door unlocked when I had gone out onto the balcony a little earlier. Looking up I saw a shadowy figure jump over the balcony rail. (I am on the ground floor.)

I rushed out onto the balcony but of course saw no-one. Then I saw that my backpack was missing.

I then went outside, passing on the way to the stairs that lead to Elizabeth Street a boy and girl of darkish complexion sitting on the stairs that lead to the block of units fronting Elizabeth Street. This is at about midnight. The girl was just getting up, but I took little notice as sometimes one does see people waiting, say, for a flatmate to get home to let them in.

I checked up and down the street, hypothesising that as soon as the thieves saw all they had was a bag of English textbooks (and rubbish) they would simply throw it away. Unfortunately my organiser/diary was in the bag too, but contained no cards of value. Those I always keep on me. There was one potential loss however–the floppy disk with the most up-to-date version of my school NESB database.

I found nothing, but on returning saw the young couple had gone. I looked where they had been–and there was my bag, all the stuff emptied out, but nothing missing.

CIMG3517
From the balcony looking towards Elizabeth Street.

***

This morning Surry Hills has been invaded by –I do not exaggerate– over 1000 little girls. The nearby Opera Australia building is hosting auditions for an upcoming production of Oliver and it would appear that every little girl (up to about 14) in Sydney is auditioning. There was a queue extending all the way down Elizabeth Street, and had it not gone up a side street it would have extended almost back to Central Station! Unbelievable. And of course lots of mums and dads.

The Coffee Roaster was a no-go zone! Even Cafe Max had its share of little girls.

***

I do find the life and death of Princess Margaret very sad. I am sure I need not elaborate.

***

The Gallery has been updated, not that I really have new pics yet (though there are some there) but I have been playing with a graphics program I downloaded free from a magazine CD-ROM. This has also led to a revision of the Gateway Page.

Later

Lunch at the Forresters was very pleasant: the chicken was excellent. Sirdan and I were first to arrive, followed by the Empress and his renovating Cuteness, Bruce, Malcolm, and eventually George from OUT and a charming friend. I explored the Tardis-like structure of the Forresters and eventually discovered the other toilets.

The Empress expects your attendance at the New Year Yum Cha at the Emperor’s Garden (corner of Dixon and Hay Streets) at 10.30 am next Sunday.

17 Feb 2002 Yum cha–and further thoughts on my reading

The New Year Yum Cha at the Emperor’s Garden was a select affair: the Empress, Sirdan, Malcolm Thane of All that Flies, Lord Bruce of the Turntable and myself: Ninglun Earl of Dung. (For those who have forgotten, Dung may have been my ancestral seat in County Cavan in Ireland.) The mango desserts were wonderful.

The others have headed off for the Mardi Gras Fair Day, but I feel a bit off-colour today–aches and pains and all that–so I am headed home. It is very hot and humid and sometimes this weather brings on these symptoms of old age… Mind you, when it happened when I was younger they were thought of as growing pains.

The consensus about the Great Mugabe Assassination Plot is that it was a very elaborate Inge Event after all. But perhaps less successful…

Having finished The Night Listener by Armistead Maupin, I have to report that I did enjoy it, though I felt a touch cheated… But there are good reasons to read it. One does gain a lot of insight into the life and heart of gay relationships, as the unlikely-named Todd Camp said in a Sydney Morning Herald review some time back:

A strong sense of family plays a big part in The Night Listener and it’s a feeling Maupin still shares with his former partner. “We’re family in every sense of the word. One of the things the novel tries to do is reflect the way that people actually do make that transition from a romantic partnership to some broader familial definition of love,” he says. “Gay people, men and women, are notorious for dragging around their ex-lovers and their ex-lovers’ ex-lovers.”

But the transition from lovers to something even more valuable and lasting is a process Maupin finds fascinating and manages to expound upon quite eloquently throughout thenovel.

“There’s a point in which passion is not the predominant factor in a relationship,” Maupin says. “You arrive at some peaceful place where you simply feel bonded with that person, and I think that that place is no different than the love between a mother and child or a brother and sister. It’s a sort of pure reality that doesn’t need any expression in order to resist.”

The last thing the novel is about is pedophilia, despite the fact that the core telephonic relationship involves a man in his 50s and a boy in his early teens. But you have to read it to see what I mean. Finally, here is another review, this time from Book Magazine.

20 Feb 2002 New Internet Cafe, and very old scholar

This is my first go on a computer using Windows XP, on a superfast internet connection–and it is amazing–in a brand-new Internet Cafe right opposite my home. I suspect I will be seeing a little less of Global Gossip, though I like them.

The story of this Cafe is pretty amazing. At the moment I am sitting where the Chinese teas were stocked. What has happened is that the little Chinese grocery in Elizabeth Street has split in two, with half the shop becoming an Internet Cafe with the latest and best equipment. OK, that is not too amazing: canny, these Chinese.

The couple that run the place come from Hangzhou and Shanghai respectively, and have a son aged about 18; he did the HSC last year (but not at a selective school.) The Internet Cafe is the son’s doing! He has set it up and runs it. Now that I find quite amazing. Imagine where he might be at 28!

Running Diary-X or OUT perhaps! Well, maybe not OUT 😉

I have begun reading Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life (Perennial pb ed. 2001). It really is absorbing, as this reviewer in The New Criterion says:

From Dawn to Decadence, Mr. Barzun’s overview of the last five-hundred years of Western cultural history, is a magnificent summa of his concerns as a thinker and historian. It synthesizes as well as summarizes a long lifetime’s reflection about the fate of those distinctive energies that define Western culture: “the great achievements and the sorry failures of our half millennium.” The first thing to be said about From Dawn to Decadence is that reading it is an exhilarating experience.

And written by a man in his 90s! The writing is amazingly fresh. There is an interesting interview with Barzun in The Women’s Quarterly:

At the age of ninety-two, Jacques Barzun has hit the best-seller list again with From Dawn to Decadence, a magisterial interpretation of the last five hundred years of history. Born in Creteil, France, Professor Barzun came to the U.S. as a young man and immediately joined the faculty of New York’s Columbia University, where he served as provost and spent his entire career. Barzun lives in San Antonio, Texas.

TWQ editor Charlotte Hays talked with him about the state of civilization, why artists try to be immoral, and whether women have been oppressed throughout Western history. The answers may surprise you.

Jacques Barzun

Such books are extremely important in this present age and I commend this one to all, especially young scholars who need to know what there is to defend in western civilisation, for the sake of all in this world I suspect. I say that as a confirmed multiculturalist with a deep interest in and respect for Eastern thought.