Posted by: jkirkby8712 | January 27, 2012

Sunday 15th to Sunday 22nd, 2012 – a week in January as the days roll along!!

It has been both a rather busy week, and at the same time, a tiring one, where a lot of basic activities [such as these writings] were neglected, and put aside, hence another one of my consolidated entries appears here alas, pushing a number of days into one entry. I normally try and avoid such a situation, but now and then, we become a bit ‘lazy’ in our writing program and these things happen.

On Sunday, 15th January, the emphasise was on an afternoon in a ‘pub’, and a late night TV movie.  It was preceded by a  quiet Saturday night at home, during which, amongst other things, I exchanged some text messages with Heather in Ballarat  – She seemed keen to meet, and we  arranged a meeting for coffee halfway between here and  her place [at Bacchus Marsh] providing her Mum, now in her 90s, and a permanent resident of Nazareth House in Ballarat,  was okay that morning, Wednesday. I think I have only met up with Heather on one occasion, at a church reunion, since the early 1960s, when the family moved from the Neil Street house, to Humffray Street North [near Brown Hill], on the eastern side of Ballarat, and we both moved to different secondary schools from the primary school we had attended [Macarthur Street, where way back in the War years of the early 1940s, my own grandfather was the Headmaster].

Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ this morning, which was in fact the featured selection of this morning’s radio show, which got my Sunday off to it’s usual early start. A couple of hours later, and I was on the late morning train into the city, and a warmish walk up to a pub in West Melbourne, not far from the Victoria Market  – Ron Bourke’s 70th birthday. With one other exception, I think I was the only non-family person there, of about 40 – pub bar especially opened up today for the function.  I left around 3pm –  tram into city, visited J B Hi Fi’s, and purchased three classical cds –  to cover the next 3 weeks on Sunday morning with Classic FM Top 100. I was on a train back in Sunbury before 5pm.  Expected Susan home anytime – however, by 11pm,, no sign or sound of her return- sent message to the girls  –  back tomorrow!! At least I could relax for the rest of tonight. I also got home to find that the Third Test cricket match was already over after just two and a half days of the scheduled five days, again.  It ended up and easy win for Australia by an innings and 37 runs, as the Aussies took a 3-0 lead in the four test series.

An evening in front of the  TV tonight  –  the movie Balibo on the ABC. I have seen it a couple of years ago at the theatre – taped it, while I watched SBS this evening  –  interesting historical and archaeological program on the history of the British Isles  [A History of Ancient Britain – Age of Ancestors] – missed it last week. Then watched part two of the documentary called ‘Once Upon A Time in Cabramatta, where the inside story of Cabramatta’s Vietnamese community continues [most of them refugees from the Vietnam War] with the assassination of MP John Newman, and the growth of the heroin trade. Interesting, disturbing, a bit slow and repetitive at times, but worth watching. 

That was followed by another movie which I quite enjoyed watching –  from 2006, the drama movie called ‘Venus’ and starring Peter O’Toole, Vanessa Redgrave and Jodie Whittaker. While some reviewers described it as a comedy, that’s not exactly the way I saw it – probably wouldn’t have even started to watch had I seen it classified as such.  Maurice (Peter O’Toole) and Ian (Leslie Phillips) are old friends, veteran English actors who never hit the big time. Now in their seventies, they continue to work (Maurice, for example, is playing a corpse in a television drama) but their comfortable routines and banter over breakfast in a favourite café are disrupted by the arrival from the provinces of Ian’s grand-niece, Jessie (Jodie Whittaker). She quickly tries her great-uncle’s patience. But Maurice is taken with the girl, and proceeds to show her the cultural sights of the capital. Maurice tries to teach Jessie something about life, but in the process he is surprised to discover how very little he actually knows now that his own life is drawing to a close.  I like the following synopsis of the film, which I found in Wikipedia.

The plot concerns Maurice (Peter O’Toole] an elderly actor who finds himself increasingly attracted to his friend Ian’s great-niece Jessie (Jodie Whittaker) while simultaneously finding himself in deteriorating health due to prostate cancer. Maurice’s friend describes the great-niece as a trouble maker and a nuisance, but Maurice discovers that Jessie warms up to him when he starts interacting with her. He takes her to the National Gallery in London, England to view his favourite painting, the Rokeby Venus, by the Spanish artist Diego Velázquez.

Jessie had expressed interest in modelling (Maurice initially mis-hears this as “yodelling”) and Maurice arranges for Jessie to model nude for an art class. As a result of Jessie posing for the art class, and inspired by his favourite painting, Maurice decides to give Jessie the nickname “Venus”. Maurice and Jessie develop a passive/aggressive relationship over the course of the film. Maurice is forward in terms of his attraction towards Jessie while Jessie occasionally indulges his whims to a limited extent, such as touching her hand and smelling her neck, but also retracts the indulgences when she feels that he has gone too far. The plot of the film revolves around the evolving friendship or relationship between the two characters. For Maurice, this appears to be the last attempt at something approaching a love life, as his prostate operation has left him impotent. For Jessie, it is less clear what she sees in Maurice. During the course of the film we see her do everything from exploiting him (trying to get him to buy her presents, trying to use his flat to have sex with a boy), taking care of him, flirting with him, and rejecting him sexually to engaging with him as a friend. During the course of the film we learn that she has been rejected by her mother and great-uncle for her promiscuous life style; it is implied that she is drawn to Maurice because he does not judge her as harshly as her family members have.

The plot comes to a head when Jessie becomes involved with a boy. The two young lovers convince Maurice to take a walk so that they can have sex. Maurice initially obliges the request, but returns to kick them out of his flat. A scuffle ensues and Jessie knocks down Maurice, injuring him. Jessie leaves with the boy and apparently spends the night out partying with him at clubs, later returning to check on Maurice. When the paramedics arrive, Maurice claims he cannot remember who attacked him, much to Jessie’s surprise. Then Maurice calls for “Venus” to take care of him. Jessie, remorseful, agrees to look after Maurice. Some time later, after Maurice has at least partly recovered, he takes Jessie to the seaside at Whitstable in Kent. As they sit down by the water Maurice says to Jessie “Now, we can really talk”, and dies, leaning on her.

Tour Down Under cycling race began today, over in South Australia – today’s opening stage around the streets of Adelaide.  With one of the commercial channels taking over the coverage of this year’s race, it was rather disappointing, because that so-called coverage consisted of about 40 minutes of highlights, at 11.30 at night for an Australian daytime event. Another pathetic effort by Channel 9, and a disgrace that money and power so easily allows that network to take control of the rights of a major event, when the coverage elsewhere would have been far superior and much more relevant!!  And this is the channel that is going to be responsible for my viewing of next year’s Olympic Games!!!

Monday 16 January and the tennis begins, and my first session at the local gym!!    The first session this morning of my ‘Lift for Life’ gymnasium program, conducted in the gym at the local swimming pool Apart from the treadmill and bike exercises, most of the weight related and other activities were things I’d not attempted for some considerable years, and as an expected consequence there would be one or two ‘sore’ muscles over the next 24 hours or so. But I did enjoy the experience, although probably would have liked to have been a part of the group I was expecting to be joining me [or vice versa] – today’s appointment was actually an hour ahead of the scheduled normal session time for this program.  I won’t say the rest of the day was in recovery mode, but apart from some late morning shopping, I was not over active for the rest of the day, though did have to devote some preparation time for tonight’s radio show.

 Meanwhile, the Australian Open Tennis Championships commenced today. It had been my intention upon retiring, to spend some time at this year’s event, but time and the days have caught up with me, and I decided it was far easier to watch the occasional game [usually involving the Australians] on the TV – cheaper, less crowd hazzle, travelling, heat, etc –  maybe next year, added to which, minor problems been caused by a variation of medication have been a dampening factor, and a few other commitments this week.  In this year’s tournament, we have apparently seven Australian men and twelve Australian women competing in the ‘Singles’ competitions. I wonder if any will be left by the end of this first week!!!  The big hope, for many, is US Open winner, Samantha Stosur, but her form has been rather patchy since that event, and personally, I will surprised to see her progress right through the tournament, similarly with former stars like Lleyton Hewitt, and up and coming youngster, Bernard Tomic [who actually won his first major tournament on Saturday I think].    As for tonight’s radio program, made even moire enjoyable than usual, due to the inclusion of a 15 minute phone interview with a young singer from Brisbane, Ainslinn Sharp  – she rang me last week, hoping to organise an on-air chat, and asking if I would play her music. Well of course, that is something I do on this particular show – promote and play Australian artists, musicians, etc, who don’t get much [if any] airplay on commercial radio, and community radio such as ours has to be their avenue of publicity and promotion. Mixed results with Bernard Tomic [our teenage up and coming sensation] moving into the next round after coming from 2 sets down against Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, while for the girls, wins to Casey Dellacqua and Olivia Rogowska saw them proceed to Round Two. Aussies losses were Greg Jones, Ashleigh Barty [just 16 years old and very promising], and Anastasia  Rodionova.  As usual, a collection of non-Australian names against our competitors, a reflection of the multi-cultural flavour of this country, and the number of tennis players who have adopted this country as their new homeland.

Meanwhile, here is today’s ‘Kids are Quick’ quotation::           TEACHER: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?     DONALD: H I J K L M N O.    TEACHER: What are you talking about?    DONALD: Yesterday you said it’s H to O. 

Tuesday, 17 January – dinner with family ‘second/third’ cousins–  a bit of time spent up at the local radio station this morning, on administrative matters this time!!  We were in the middle of a rather wearying hot spell again, hence my decision [perhaps to be regretted later on] to travel by train and tram over to my ‘dinner’ appointment tonight. I was simply not keen on driving across the city in peak hour traffic and in top 30 degree temperatures. I knew the train to the city would be comfortable, though had overlooked the following ‘tram’ journey out of the city to the eastern suburb of Kew. It was 5.30pm by then, and yes, the tram was crowded, it was one of the ‘older style’ models [meaning air conditioning functioned rather poorly], and it turned out to be a hot and uncomfortable trip. My own fault!! Didn’t really enjoy that part of the journey, while at the Kew end, a bit of a walk around the main shopping precinct, looking for a suitable bottle of white wine for my hosts. I had put a bottle aside at home this morning, but later decided that by the time I got over to Kew, it would have been almost as warm as I was feeling.

A short walk from there to Ross & Marion’s home in Kew – a lovely large old style home with beautiful old established garden, both of the sort I would be comfortable with. Their main concern was apparently that since they had moved into the place, development in the surrounding properties had over shadowed and spoilt part of the views of surrounding areas they had previously enjoyed. Meanwhile, Marion is a granddaughter of one of my great grandfather’s brothers [hence the family connection]. I had previously visited them back in 1978, when their two children were there at home, and young teens I think, and then we did not meet again until last September up at the William Kirk dedication centenary in Charlton. My visit tonight was at their invitation.

And if I may say so, a very pleasant if not short visit [of about 3 hours] it was. An easy couple to talk to, and plenty of conversation relating to family connections, sharing of photos, and on more general topics, such as the recent disasters involving the hot air balloon in New Zealand, and the sinking of the cruise ship over in the Mediterranean [interesting news report on that which was claiming that the captain of the Costa  Concordia, refused the coast guards order to ‘return’ to his sinking ship and oversee the evacuations from his ship – his response was reportedly along the lines that he was ‘coordinating  things’ from where he was!!].

  Marion was particularly proud of the framed copies she possessed of the various invitations that our original ancestor, William Kirk, has received during the many proceedings that took place with the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia, here in Melbourne in 1901. Somehow, she and  Ross had received an invitation to the centenary of that event, held in 2001, and I had the opportunity to look at, and compare, the respective booklets for both events, that occurred at those times.  As a fellow family historian, a couple of magnificent possessions, and a privilege that the original William’s prominence in the life of early Victoria had justified his invitations and participations in the various activities associated with the original events.

Meanwhile, Ross and Marion were bike riders [as was my brother] and that enabled some interesting discussion of the various escapades [per bicycle] that both parties had participated in over the years. One little misconception was cleared up here – they were confusing Sunbury, and the Melbourne western suburb of Sunshine. They had done some bike rides out to what Marion was referring to as Sunbury, but in fact confusing that with Sunshine, where they thought I had come from today –  a little surprised that in fact I’d travelled on what Marion referred to as a ‘country’ train this afternoon [which in fact it was, having come through from Bendigo].

I left Kew around 9pm [needed to ensure that I got back to the city in time to catch the last train, 10.15, to Sunbury]. Marion & Ross, with their little dog, joined me on the walk to the tram stop, where we said our farewells. The tram ride, back into the city, was much more pleasant – large open air conditioned modern tram, and not too crowded, although more people on board than I would have expected at this time of night, going into the city. But then it was a hot night still, and the holiday season was still around for many people. In my usual manner of wanting to be on time for things, I had plenty of time to spare at the Southern Cross station end, though [despite the lovely meal with the Harris couple] would have liked something healthy to eat, as my stomach was ‘misbehaving’ again due to that medication problem, but most of the outlets around the station area were closed for the night. Had to suffice with a bottle of  water!

Meanwhile, to the Aussie performances at Melbourne Park today, and this evening, in the tennis?  The big disappointment was of course Sam Stosur going out in the first round – her form from when she won the US Open last year, has been a little sub-standard. This is part of  what Ron Reed in the Herald-Sun had to say.  “Sam Stosur’s proudest possession – the US Open Tennis championship – has proven a burden too heavy to carry. Weighed down by it, Australia’s highest ranked player, male or female, crashed to a shock first round defeat in straight sets to little known Romanian Sorana Cirstea [7/6,6/3] at the Open . A national hero after beating the legendary Serena Williams in New York in September, making her the first Australian woman to win a grand slam event for 30 years, Stosur was under pressure to validate the performance in front of her own fans. That expectation rocketed up notch with 19 year old Bernard Tomic’s epic comeback against Spain’s Fernando Verdasco on Monday, raising hopes of a big first week for Australia. But where Tomic seemed to draw inspiration from the crowd on Rod Laver Arena, Stosur seemed to shrink from the almost full house, with the official enclosure packed with VIPs keen to celebrate her new status…..”

 Our other two ‘drama Queens’  –  had totally different outcomes. Jelena Dokic cruised past her Russian opponent to move into the 2nd round, while fellow adopted Australian, Jarmila Dajdosova crashed in equally emphatic circumstances, then apparently blamed her critics. I feel sorry for the girl, because over the past 12 months or so, she has endured a messy divorce,  suffered a hate campaign on Twitter, and seen a rise in her levels of errors, etc on the tennis court, which fact is constantly being pointed out to her. No wonder she was close to tears after exiting her  7th consecutive first round  of the Australian Open. Still she remains at World No. 39 [before this event], and I feel she is a good enough player to come back again, although her confidence is obviously fairly low at present.  Three of our men had wins today however –  I returned home in time to see Lleyton Hewitt manage a win over Germany’s Cedric-Marcel Stebe, a good result in view of Hewiitt’s now low world ranking, recent long term injuries, and lack of matches during 2011. Unlike Samantha Stoser, he was not expected to be around for long in this Australian Open.  Lleyton of course, would have different ideas, as he would soon show us!!  A couple of our younger male players also had 1st round wins today – James Duckworth and Matthew Ebden, and they would feature in Round two games in a couple of days for the TV coverage.

Wednesday, 18 January – and a pleasant lunch with a schoolgirl friend of half a century ago.  But that wouldn’t happen before yet another early morning visit to the radio!!  As always, I enjoyed the 3 hours on air this morning, and in particular the variety of the program that I was able to present. Another pleasing text message from listener Jayne, but I had to admit, that this morning was a bit a struggle, was feeling quite weary, and rather glad that Ron, the normal presenter at this time, would be back next week.  While he would still be looking for my sport report at 6.45 am each morning, I would at least avoid the 5am wakeup calls that were preceding these days.

Late morning saw me driving across to the township of Bacchus Marsh [halfway between here and Ballarat] to meet up for lunch, with former ‘primary’ school fellow student, Heather  – she probably recognised me, before I did her, as in the absence of any photos, I’d actually been struggling to remember what she looked like [as a 10-12 year old] when I assumed was the last time we had met.  I’d met and spoken to her brother, Ross, at the Neil Street 150th celebrations last August, and it was through that, we had got into contact with each other. Heather had not attended the reunion that day, as I think she was with her mother, who was a terminally ill cancer patient in Ballarat’s Nazareth House.

Anyway, that was a very pleasant three hours at the ‘Baby Block Expresso Bar’ [what an old name]  –  located in a rambling old house and garden, opposite the Bacchus Marsh McDonalds store [my reference point to find the place]  –  quite a noisy, crowded, and obviously popular place, and also quite uncomfortably hot in the main part of the restaurant. Heather, who had arrived before I did, after driving down from Ballarat, had chosen a separate room, which as it turned out, we basically had to ourselves for the duration of our visit. I can’t say I was terribly impressed with the limited range of light lunches available at the place, but that was not really why I was here – enjoyed a couple of coffees and lots of nice interesting conversation with the girl who I will admit was the first girl I was ever ‘sweet on’, at the grand old age of 10 years old!!!  Once we left primary school, and my family eventually moved home a couple of years later, we never came into contact again, although there may have been a meeting of some sort about 30 years ago, simply cannot remember!  Of course, at the time, I assumed she ‘didn’t even know I existed’, although I learnt today that wasn’t true. I nice revelation 50+ years too late!!!  At school, Heather used to sit next to the son of  the Ballarat brick making firm people [Selkirks Brickworks] and she admitted that he was her ‘boyfriend’ at that time [we are still at primary school remember] but they too drifted apart eventually. He can still be seen around Ballarat, driving the latest sports model, etc. I imagine the business, which is still going strong, would have had plenty of ‘advantages’ for the family.

Heather and I parted at around 3pm with the usual promises of meeting up again. I think this one will happen. It seems that since her mother has been in hospital, she has visited her every day, obviously a personal desire and a promise to her late father, Charlie, who died a few years ago. I gather they are as much friends, as mother & daughter, and it is obviously going  to be a major loss in her life when the cancer finally claims her mother, who is in her 90s.  Although, as sometimes happens,  it seems that in tragedy, such an event will also allow this lady [who is a voluntary palliative care worker herself] ‘get a life’, which has been on hold for some years!

The afternoon was still very hot, although the hints of a change were on the way. I had a session at the gymnasium scheduled for this evening – probably initially didn’t feel over enthusiastic about going, but, after preparing a meal for Susan and myself, both of which were planned to be eaten later tonight [she and Jodie were playing volley ball], I headed off to the gym and had a useful enough hour – well, I felt better for it afterwards, although when I mentioned that I would be back in the morning, it was suggested better to wait a couple of days – when meant the next session would be Saturday!!

The girls returned from volleyball around 9pm – Jodie stayed and chatted briefly, but strangely, soon after she left, Susan went off to bed, not feeling well, without eating the meal I’d prepared!  It would not be until Friday that I would discover what the cause of the ‘not feeling well’ referred to.

Meanwhile, at the Australian Open Tennis today and tonight, a few Australians attempted to make their way through the 2nd round.  In the two Centre Court night matches, Bernard Tomic had another great win in 4 sets over the American, Sam Querrey to advance to the 3rd round.  Not so successful was Casey Dellacqua who had a tough call against one of the top seeds, Victoria Azarenka [one of those female players who constantly screeches while she plays] – she only managed one game in the two sets.  Earlier, China’s Li Na had a similar easy win over our Olivia Rogowska. Over in South Autralia, with the cycling ‘Tour Down Under’ event, they completed Stage Two today – I imagine the conditions all week over there would be extremely hot and unpleasant for riders, officials and spectators, yet it was still getting great support. Cadel Evans is not competing in this event, but the new ‘Australian team’ named ‘GreenEDGE’ seem to be doing quite well in the early stages of the race, which I think in time and distance, is about a third of that covered by the Tour de France. In view of their ‘off season’ participation, interesting to note that the two leaders after Stage 2 come from Switzerland and Germany, two countries currently in the midst of their winter season – tough going in the hot coastal desert conditions of South Australia in the middle of January.

Thursday, 19 January 2012-  proposals on Indigenous referendum   – This Thursday could be described as a lazy day for this correspondent –  it was indeed, I don’t recall even driving the car anywhere. I was admittedly, feeling a little muscle sore from last night’s session at the gymnasium, and was continuing to be worried by stomach problems from the ‘forced’ change of aspirin medication. The latter left this correspondent feeling a little despondent at times, and annoyed!

An interesting report in today’s media suggesting that hopes are high for an indigenous referendum in the near future, and in so doing, remove ‘so-called’ [my words] racially discriminatory provisions in the Australian constitution. Both sides of politics yesterday endorsed the thrust of a report prepared by an expert panel of politicians, indigenous leaders and lawyers. PM Julia Gillard declared, on receiving the report that it was time ‘to say yes to an understanding of our past, to say yes to constitutional change, and to say yes to a future more united and more reconciled than we have ever been before’.  Tony Abbott, Opposition leader said that his aim was to achieve unity –‘We accept that millions of Australians hopes and dreams are resting on constitutional recognition of indigenous people and the last thing I want to do anything other than welcome the report today’. Great words, from sides – but we need reality to be a fact, afterall, the big points of reconciliation were the ‘marches for reconciliation in 2000, and then the ‘Sorry speech’ in February 2008, and yet, we are still talking about achieving reconciliation through yet another [very important admittedly] means!!  Anyway, in a nutshell,  the recommendation is for Indigenous Australians to be recognised in the body of the Australian Constitution [currently not mentioned].  To go out of the Constitution is the wording of Section 25 which says a voter could be excluded from voting on the basis of race [note, this was drawn up at the beginning of the 1900s]. To come in, three new sections, viz, Section 51A: Recognising that Australia was first occupied by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders;  acknowledging the continuing relationship of them with their traditional lands and waters; respecting their continuing cultures, languages and heritage; acknowledging the need to secure their advancement.  Section 116A – prohibiting racial discrimination.  Section 127A – recognising languages.  Certainly, one would hope that the basic tenet of these proposals would be accepted by the electorate in a referendum, despite the fact that historically, referendums so often fail in this country, change is so difficult on whatever the subject for many to accept.

As  for the Tennis Open – our Aussie representatives are disappearing at an increasing rate, with hopes such as Jelena Dokic bowing out, and young hopefuls of the likes of James Duckworth and Matthew Ebden eventually falling to more experienced opponents.  From memory, Jelena’s mild attempt tonight in her two set loss to French girl Marion Bartoli preceded the highlight of the evening for us Lleyton Hewitt fans  – another match he was probably not expected to win against Andy Roddick of the USA.  Hewitt eventually won that match, after Roddick withdraw at the end of the 3rd set due to an injury that had been worrying for a set or so. At that point, Lleyton was leading 3/6, 6/3, 6/4.  So we still have two Aussies to look forward to watching over the next couple of nights!!

Friday, 20 January 2012- slow end to a warm week –  another day, lacking a bit of energy, and content to watch a bit of tennis at different stages.  Late morning saw some family duties  –  with Shirley and Jodie and James all working, or away, I was asked if I would pick up and drive to two ‘elderly’ ladies to the doctor, Win [ex mother in law]and her sister Val, who was visiting down from Queensland. Certainly a much cooler day, so Val was probably feeling it more so than the rest of us. I’m not sure who the actual appointment was for – they had both had recent minor falls. Anyway, my role was to drop them off at the Evans Street Clinic, and return later – in fact, I had a few jobs to attend to, and at one stage whilst at the surgery, made an appointment for myself [for tomorrow] – decided that I’d had enough of this medication problem!

It was during this little exercise today that I learnt accidentally through Val the nature of ‘Susie’s’ period of un-wellness a couple of days ago –  the former, naturally enough assumed I knew all about it, sharing a home with Susie, but as I indicated, I often seemed to be the last person to learn of some things. Last April, Susie’s boyfriend of 8 years broke off the relationship. They seemed to get back together again in December, at his initiation I believe, and Jimmy had joined us for Christmas at Goonawarra. They’d had reservations about the renewal of relations, worried that he would not stick at it.  He didn’t, and this week apparently, called things off again. Hence Susie’s response this week!  I guess we all hoped, that twice bitten would be the end of it. She deserved better! Certainly, I was rather annoyed an angered to hear that bit of news, but as already intimated, not surprised at the action on ‘his’ part!!  It also explained where she disappeared to – well, not where [I learnt that later] but why, on Monday night, after she and Jodie had returned from their little trip [or was it Tuesday night, mmmmm, the memory is deserting me!!].

Anyway, putting that aside for now, I had another night of watching an Australian play tennis on centre court at the Australian Open  –  19 year old Bernard Tomic up against the 13th seed, Alexandr Dolgopplov of the Ukraine.  Another great performance by the confident Tomic in a long five setter, which saw him manage to outlast the northern European player  4/6, 7/6, 7/6, 2/6, 6/3.  While ‘Tomic mania’ of the Lleyton Hewitt sort hasn’t quite peaked yet, it will in a couple of nights one suspects, when Bernard Tomic has to play against his childhood idol, Roger Federer.  They have played each other once before – last year, in a Davis Cup tie, when Federer won in 4 sets. Somehow this time, despite his good form, it will be a bit of a tennis lesson for young Tomic! Meanwhile, after Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under, we have two Australians in the Top 5 overall placings – Michael Matthews [2nd] and Simon Gerrans [5th]. As already mentioned, very little TV coverage of this by the so-called ‘official’ broadcaster  –  brother Robert’s comment after the weekend on that point –  ‘Agree on TV coverage; why do Channel 9 bother only to show highlights at 11.30 pm; an ounce of sense would tell them that all interested bike riders who mostly do early morning rides/gym [as Robert does] would be in bed by then. Saw the last couple of hours yesterday[Sunday 22nd]; even more amazing that after a several minute ad break, they return to the coverage only to interview a couple of footballers!! No idea.”
Saturday, 21 January 2012- doctors, tablets, and yet more great tennis

A middle of the day visit to the doctor was the ‘highlight’ of my Saturday  – prescribed something to supposedly counter the affects of the aspirin on the stomach regions, but I’m not confident of it helping much.  Oh well, not to worry!! Later, called in at the local cricket ground, to have a look at part of Day 1 of Adam’s latest cricket match, but eventually realised he wasn’t at this oval – discovered later that he was today playing in the Club’s senior team, over at Bacchus Marsh!!  I certainly was at the wrong ground!

Lleyton Hewitt played again tonight – another night match featuring one of our own!  I like it!   He was up against Seed No. 23, a big young guy from Canada, named Milos Raonic. Former Wimbledon and US Open winner, Lleyton Hewitt [turning 32 years old in February], is now ranked well down in the listings – prior to this tournament, he is No. 181. His opponent, aged 21, is ranked at No. 25.  As anticipated, another tough, fighting game by Hewitt – lost the first set, but in his typical never give up attitude, he would go on and win the next three sets, to move into the 4th round in two days time against Novak Djokovic. Final scores with Hewitt winning were 4/6, 6/3, 7/6, 6/3. Meanwhile, in the Tour Down Under, after Stage 5 with one day to go, Australia’s Simon Gerrans of the GreenEDGE team, shares the overall lead with Spaniard Alejandro Velverde, 8 seconds ahead of their nearest rival.

Sunday, 22 January 2012 – a ‘Lark Ascending’

Played a beautiful piece of music on the radio this morning – well, more than one as usual – but my feature selection for listeners was a work by the English composer, Vaughan Williams, called ‘The Lark Ascending’. This was the ABC Classic FM’s listeners choice No. 4 in their selected Top 100 most favoured 20th century compositions. The performers this morning were the Academy of St Martin in the Fields conducted of course by Sir Neville Mariner.   Williams wrote Lark Ascending as a ‘short romance for violin and orchestra in 1914 – it was inspired by a poem written by George Meredith, whose lark

  • rises and begins to round,
  • he drops the silver chain of sound
  • Of many links without a break,
  • In chirrup, whistle, slur and shake.

The solo violin part of this work unmistakably describes the lark’s flight and his song. Hopefully my listeners were able to gain that impression from what really was a lovely piece of music. It was first performed by the violinist Marie Hall in 1920.

In the Tour Down Under Final Stage today, Victorian rider Simon Gerrans sealed a fairytale debut entry for the new Australian team, GreenEDGE, by claiming overall victory in the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under. He joined team mate and local hero, Stuart O’Grady, and German Andre Greipel in having won the 14 year old event, three times. Today’s final stage was raced over 20 laps [total distance of 90 kilometres] on a street circuit on the banks of the Torrens River, north of the Adelaide CBD. The air temperature for riding was 37 degrees Celsius, although the heat from the road surface would have made riding conditions much hotter and more uncomfortable. In an email received from my brother today, he noted that he was mot missing being in South Australia this year for the Tour Down Under, as in previous years, it was always good fun and good riding, but with a lot of pressures and work on with his employment at present, and plans to do a ride in the USA later this year, he decided best to give 2012 TDU a miss. Although he did miss being there from the point of view that the seats they usually have are always right on the finishing line of today’s street circuit. Of course, Robert doesn’t just talk about what these athletes are doing, he gets into it all himself and certainly leaves this brother, 2 ¼ years his senior, feeling a little inadequate. As he wrote ‘Tough ride myself this morning; 125 km mostly pushing into a strong breeze, hard work but good training’ –  for a 63 year old, it sure is!!

Another Aussie on centre court tonight  – the master and the apprentice – Bernard Tomic [19 year old Australia] versus Roger Federer!!  No one expected our guy to win, but most were fairly confident he would put up a reasonable fight under the circumstances.  The headline in tomorrow’s Age newspaper put it very well  –  ‘Here endeth the lesson, and tournament, for Tomic the true believer’.  This is what Greg Baum had to say:

‘The least consolation for Bernard Tomic as his Australian Open adventure came to an abrupt end…was that it was at the silky hands of his idol and everyone else’s, the immortal Roger Federer. Even in the straight-sets defeat Tomic lost no believers, and Federer is his own church anyway which gave the night the air of a charismatic rite, with plenty of hallelujah-ing for both players at the beginning and even more at the end. But in-between there were long periods of what might have been prayerful silence, but actually was dumbstruck awe. Even the Fanatics were reduced to mere mumbling. Federer does that. Not the least admiring was Tomic. He said he had never hit the ball so hard, only to see it repeatedly fly back past him into Rod Laver Arena’s corners. ‘It was good to watch, even for me’ said Tomic. ‘Playing, I enjoyed watching. I don’t think I’ll ever be as good a player as him. But you can only learn. The top four guys are different. They’re  something special. The rest are beatable for me’. In truth, this was mission impossible. In majors, Federer has not lost this early or to a player as young or lowly ranked as Tomic, since a series of mishaps midway through last decade at the French Open, his least favourite tournament’…………………….all this leaves one Australian in the Singles competition, Lleyton Hewitt who plays Novak Djokovic tomorrow night!  Another big ask!

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