Saturday, December 24, 2005

The North Wind Doth Blow !

It sure doth, but I can assure you that the poor Robin need not fear snow in Sydney.

The Night Before Christmas may be upon us, but – believe me – the Morning Before barrel-rolled us.
Following a pleasant, convivial evening debating the relative benefits of chardonnay and beer (all participants concluded that, after careful examination, a strong case could be made for their co-existence, evidencing a pleasing tolerance of different creeds, so close to Christmas), an early start beckoned and was waved away.
Mrs BB, interpreting the 5.30am weather forecast as unhelpful to morning exercisers, chose 6.15am as her commencement time for her 7km walk. In retrospect, a sound decision.

On the other hand, I – sleeping the Sleep of the Just (or perhaps just asleep) – bounced out of bed for an 8.30am start.

Dante’s 5th circle of hell greeted me (believe me, I was feeling pretty wrathful). 32 degrees, hot north-westerly wind, and yes, sun. No flies, however, as their early morning conference must have made reference to Mad Dogs and Englishmen, correctly concluding that Noel Coward excluded them.

Although committing to, and completing, 10k, it would require a bow-stretch of Herculean strength to suggest it contained enjoyment during the 52 minutes trekked. The XC course being unavailable due to commercial interests (via locking the gate to the new estate), I simply extended the usual Clean Streets course to include the Baseball field park used by gogirl. Unsurprisingly, I encountered no salivating dogs, no delirious magpies, no urchins on BMXs – nothing; merely a number of cars whose drivers viewed me with what could charitably be described as a jaundiced eye. For statistics fans, the pulse rate deviated from the average by a statistically-significant amount (numbers refer to pulse at run end / pulse after 3 min) : normally 160/100, today 180/108.

Still, exertions over, the rest of the day proceeded as planned, with family pool fun, and completion of the Wishart novel. And so on to The Death Of Achilles, by Boris Akunin. The fourth in the series, it promises more adventures for our hero, Erast Fandorin. You may be unsurprised to learn he is Russian, and his adventures cover quite a few years of the late 19th century. I believe at least 8 novels have been written, but if you want to read 5-8 soon, learn Russian.
Set in 1882, Erast returns to Moscow after 6 years away, and is embroiled in a murder mystery involving General Soboles, the “Russian Achilles”.
Akunin’s earlier novels are excellent : quite literary but written in a world-weary style; apparently he is huge in Russia. I heartily recommend his earlier novels in the series :
The Winter Queen
Turkish Gambit

3. music
We will be celebrating Christmas Day in the traditional Aussie way (Santa, family BBQ, gifts, excitement and much talking). Like some other Aussies, we will also celebrate the birth of Jesus. Additionally, I'll drink a toast to Jimmy Buffett’s 59th birthday, along with Parrothead fans worldwide. I have a feeling that a few rounds of Margaritaville will be sung, alongside Bing's, Dean's and Perry’s offerings.

Wishing everyone a very happy and safe Christmas day, however you choose to spend it. I find it’s actually a great time to reflect on how lucky I am, and why that’s worth both appreciating and saying “thanks”.

AS JB sings :

“I’ve seen too much not to stay in touch with the world made of Love and Luck
I got a big suspicion ‘bout ammunition; I never forget to duck”

“Exit, stage left”


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