Alright, so I was skiting about being a homeowner before, and that probably is unforgivable, even though my point really was not that I was lucky enough to be able to buy a home, which in any case was only made possible by the generosity of parents and a thirty-year loan of money which, if it plays out in full, will mean paying back that sum about twenty times over, but that I have often grinned and borne jokes about our area and that it has come good as an investment nonetheless – nothing more than that. If I’d been defending Jacana ardently just as a pastime with no vested interest for the last five years, I’d have wanted to make the same point. In fact (as I think I have mentioned here before, or at least by implication) until I first came to Jacana and looked at houses here in 2004, I was actually under the impression that Jacana was the east side of Jacana railway station, when in fact, it’s the west and not even west of the station, kind of north-west. You have to admit the fact that neither the Jacana station nor Jacana Street, which is near it, are in Jacana is a little misleading.
I mean I wouldn’t say we have suffered a lot of gags at the expense of Jacana and who really cares anyway but you probably know what I mean. There is a bit of – er – not schadenfreude but the other thing.
However speaking of schadenfreude Clement Freud died the week before my birthday and I never got to say anything about him bloggingly because Millie had her accident and I didn’t want to think about death. Well, I was very saddened by the death of Clement Freud, whose work I had enjoyed for decades.
When I was a child I had a book by him, actually two short novels in one (but still a book), Grimble and Grimble at Christmas. I enjoyed those. And he was of course the last of the originals on Just a Minute (except for Nicholas Parsons). Up to the end he was extremely amusing, whether he was terribly quick witted (I like to think he was) or relied a little on schtick in his last days is neither here nor there. He also had a marvellous timbre to his voice. The Just a Minutes they repeat on the ABC on Monday mornings are very Clement Freud. I suspect they are from the year after Kenneth Williams’ death, I think they were trying to replace him with Wendy Richard (who of course also recently died) and who keeps complaining when CF does his lists, ''e's listin' again'. I suppose they are all jamming with Jimi Hendrix in heaven now. If Jimi Hendrix has any other reason to wish he hadn’t died it is surely that everyone who gets to heaven gets to jam with him. Clement Freud had a good innings and for some reason, mysteriously (see the link to the JAM blog at right) he said Nicholas Parsons wasn’t allowed to come to his funeral, but he did anyway because Freud's widow thought Parsons had suffered enough.
I just read Stephen Cummings’ book. Stephen probably has written a book’s worth of commentary on this very blog and in fact at least once he tried out a chapter here I think but I have to say, the book is very very good and I enjoyed it greatly, laughing in some places – I would like to say crying in others but I didn’t. But put it this way, I read about four chapters last night which was all I could do because I had work deadlines but this evening, with the pressure off a little, I read the whole rest of it in one sitting. Chronologically it is all over the place (I mean, it doesn’t claim to be chronological; the achronologicality of it is actually a plus) and the sexy bits feel weird but generally speaking – and as much as I liked Don Walker’s very veiled and bleak Shots – it is probably the best memoir by a musician I have read, and I’m counting Dylan’s glib one and even Mick Fleetwood’s, which had long been my favourite. Certainly it is a lot better than Mark E Smith’s Renegade, which I finished reading recently and was frankly quite disappointed by. Well it’s not a competition, as I am always saying, only because I know full well it really is one.
Then when that was finished I watched Pure Shit, which came out on DVD on the weekend and which is everything I had hoped. The one thing I never realised – why not? – is that it’s in colour! The descriptions of this film, which I have wanted to see for so long but never been able to, don’t do it justice, and are also in many other ways deceptive. For instance, I never realised Helen Garner’s involvement was just one scene; but it really is very funny and indeed believable. I will write about this film properly sometime when I’ve absorbed it completely. The package of the DVD is incredibly good – three discs and an explanatory booklet in a fold-out sleeve which is immaculately and lovingly designed – you have to see it to believe it, it’s perfect in every way – one disc is the film (plus commentaries which I haven’t got to yet) another is extras of interviews and a third is the soundtrack music, an audio CD. I am a monster Bert Deling fan, and would love to see Dalmas given the same treatment. Another thing I didn’t realise about Pure Shit was that it was shot by Tom Cowan, whose The Office Picnic is one of my favourite films ever. Oddly, both Pure Shit and the Office Picnic have one feature in common – there is a point at which the action turns to something else happening on a screen, in the firstnamed it is a chat show featuring a drug dependency doctor (played by a goggle-eyed and brilliant as always Max Gillies, god he looks like Murray from Flight of the Conchords here) and in the second it is, if memory serves, a kind of training film.
Funny to get the Stephen Cummings book (which is called Will it be funny tomorrow, Billy?) and Pure Shit on the same day as the book talks about Helen Garner, Martin Armiger of course (who did the PS soundtrack) and in fact even briefly mentions PS itself. Zeitgeist with a 35 year time delay.
You probably read this far hoping for a Millie update. Well, she’s still not walking on the foot, but it’s obviously getting better, at least, it’s looking better every day. She still has to wear the bucket on her head as she will chew it (the foot, not the head or the bucket) assiduously if she gets a chance. But I have every expectation that, when she visits Darren the vet today, he will say it’s still looking very good, etc etc. And I think on balance it is. I wish I could take her for a walk though as I think she is going a bit stir crazy.
Charlie is still bonkers about the whole thing and acting like a freak. A couple of days ago I invited her out for a walk just the two of us, which as you have seen previously she enjoys, yet she steadfastly refused to come to me; she slunk off instead with her tail between her legs as if she was in terrible trouble. It was really quite funny, mainly because at no other time would she give a loose root if she was in trouble or not. Except the time when I’m actually trying to get her to do something she’d really enjoy.
People ask me if Millie’s learnt her lesson. This question reminds me of when we had Millie and Silver, mother and daughter, together. People would say, ‘do you think they know?’ which is actually an interesting question, in one sense, but in another, it’s kind of like, even if they know, why would they care? But in truth, Silver did take a very domineering position over Millie and would occasionally make her toe the line. As far as whether Millie has learnt her lesson – I feel fairly confident in saying she is unlikely to link whatever happened on Johnson Street (we still don’t really know) with her escape from the grim bounds of the backyard where she has everything but the freedom to roam under car wheels and bust her foot. As non-sensible as beagles generally are, Millie has usually been fairly sensible when it comes to cars (whereas Charlie, who has little experience of them, is shit-scared of them). Oh anyway I guess when it comes down to it, no I doubt she’s learnt her lesson. She’d so much do anything for food that she’d even randomly roam around putting herself in mortal danger on the offchance that she might find some accidental food somewhere.
It is interesting, in an unsurprising way, how much I appreciate her more now she’s had a new lease of life. Of course, I have long been a pathetic, lame-arse sook about these dogs and I don’t deny it, but what can I say? To me she is an unusual and important character with all kinds of quirks and depths, and we have a good time together a lot of the time.