Thanks to a Metafilter thread about Anil Prasad’s Innerviews site, I caught up with his interview with Mike Oldfield only ten years after he’d conducted it, and it was every bit as in-depth as I’d hoped. (Anil and I used to hang out on the same mailing list in the 1990s.) Oldfield’s career seems to have come to an anticlimactic end with the release of his Tubular Bells 4 demo six months ago, but there’s still hope…
After leaving Canberra in 1997 to live and work briefly in New Zealand, travel to North America, Europe and Singapore, and spend a few months in Tasmania looking for work, J. and I ended up… back in Canberra, where we spent the next two years.
Continuing my sweep through past photos, here are two trips to the Malay Peninsula in 1998. The first was a stop in Singapore on our way back to Australia from Europe, to visit my brother and sister-in-law, who had moved there from Hong Kong a year or so before. It was our first sight of its glittering skyscrapers and overly orderly lifestyle, and a chance to sample ais kacang (tasty) and durian (not to my taste). While we were there we took in the Jurong Bird Park, Singapore Zoo and the Botanic Gardens, most of which we would revisit in later years. We also caught some of the Thaipusam festival, in which Hindu devotees wore elaborate wire frames hoisted on their shoulders and attached to skewers pierced through their bodies.
A couple of years ago I became obsessed with making cheesecake—specifically, baked cheesecake—to the point where my family thought I liked nothing else and made me one for my birthday. Lately I’ve become similarly obsessed with Far Breton, a classic French dessert, partway between custard and cake, made with prunes or raisins soaked in Armagnac, brandy, rum, tea or water. I remembered it fondly from visits to France, and was reminded of it a few months ago at a school fair where one of the parents had made some for a cake stall, but didn’t even know its name until I searched for “French prune custard cake” and found some recipes.
On my thirtieth birthday I was up in the air, in more ways than one: between jobs, between homes, and flying between North America and Europe, on the next leg of our round-the-world trip that began in New Zealand and moved on to California, the Pacific Northwest and Alberta. J. and I landed in Stockholm in the final hours of my birthday, in the middle of the Northern winter, to stay for a few days with friends from my Ph.D. days.
For random reasons, I was reading up the other day on the glorious Aussie fast food that was and is the Chiko Roll. The Chiko is effectively a supersized spring roll, filled with a mixture of cabbage, barley, beef or mutton (not, as the name might lead you to expect, chicken), carrot, onion, green beans and celery, all partially pulped into a tasty grey mush and encased in a pastry thick enough to withstand being eaten one-handed at a footy match. They used to be everywhere in the ’70s and ’80s, but with changing tastes over the decades, and the wider availability of more appealing lunch options, the Chiko Roll has become harder to find—I’ve tried and failed on recent visits home.
The forgotten end of World War II. A forgotten horror of World War II. How ordinary Jews stood against Nazi persecution—it’s not every day your longheld assumptions about a historical period you think you know about get overturned so dramatically.
I hadn’t intended to go a month between posts, but on the personal front the past month has been about as disrupted and depressing as they come, and the knock-on effects on everything else I’m meant to be doing haven’t been good, to say the least. When the time is right, I might write about it here… or I might not. There’s too much else I need to write and do.