Monday, June 26, 2017


The Old Brisbane Stadium
Brisbane Festival Hall

Mikis Theodorakis
Mikis and Anthony Quinn (Zorba...the wonderful Zorba)!

A word said in passing, or a snippet read, can set off the trigger to a host of memories. Soon you (meaning me in this instance) become lost in reverie.   

The trigger to my present myriad musical memories was the mention of Brisbane’s now no-longer-in-existence, Festival Hall. The building once upon a time proudly sat on the corner of Albert and Charlotte Streets, its open doors welcoming all-comers. 

The iconic hall, after years of putting up with the beat, the screams, the sighs, the music closed its doors and packed up its seating on 28th August, 2003.   

Progress took over and the building was demolished to be replaced by an apartment development, aptly named “Festival Towers”.  Apparently, the seats were sold off in sets of three as souvenirs to those not keen to let go of the memories of fun times had.

The original Brisbane Stadium, a rather unimpressive, unadorned building, was built in 1910.  It was erected to host boxing and wrestling events. The pugilists and their fans cared not about the appearance of the construction. As long as the boxing ring was square and the canvas taut, they were happy. They didn’t wrestle with further emotions.

However, once Bill Haley and the Comets shot onto the music scene, the teenagers of the 50s were more than eager to “Rock Around the Clock”.   

Everyone was ready to shake, rattle and roll...the alligators hang around for later, and the crocodiles were prepared to wait a while...

Others of like mind, nimble fingers, swivelling hips who could carry a tune or two with gusto quickly followed Haley’s trail, wanting to be in his orbit. 

Rock ‘n Roll had arrived with a big bang, not in theory, but practice...and in it’s sights was Festival Hall. 

With the twang of guitars, and rolling pianos played by the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, fevered fans couldn’t get enough of the new kids on the block.

It was during his 1957 tour Down Under Little Richard announced to a stunned public he’d seen the light. He shocked the world when he denounced his flamboyant unpredictability by being unpredictable.   Everywhere lovers of rock ‘n roll were left gasping, open-mouthed.  Little Dick tossed away the trappings of being a rock ‘n roll star to follow a life in the ministry. He handed the “Tutti Frutti” to “Long Tall Sally”, and then yelled out, “I’m Ready, Teddy!”  With no further ado, off he went to spread the word.

The old Brisbane Stadium was demolished in 1958, and before you could chuck a berry, it was replaced by the new, you-beaut Festival Hall.  The new arena accommodated an indoor crowd of 4,000 - a large number in those days (and nights) of the late Fifties.  

Conway Twitty, who was famous long before Twitter tweeted, appeared in a line-up, which included “Mr. Personality” himself, the one and only, Lloyd Price.  They were joined by Aussie favourites, Johnny O’Keefe, Col Joye & the Joy Boys, The Delltones, Johnny Reb and the Rebels, among others.  Teen favourite, Fabian also appeared, causing the girls to swoon – some requiring mouth-to-mouth, no doubt.

In 1960, Crash Craddock and Tommy Sands crashed the scene.  

My brother was in the audience of the above two concerts.  He and a mate headed off to Brisbane to be part of the crowd, and returned home a-brim with stories that made my heart sing.

Festival Hall still hosted boxing and wrestling matches, including the 1982 Commonwealth Games boxing events; to the won the bout. Nothing could match its appeal. It’s drawing power could not be ignored.

Music bounced off the walls; audiences rocked in the aisles. 

After I left Gympie to live and work in Brisbane, many times I was part of the excited audiences. 

One balmy Saturday afternoon in 1972 I witnessed a very special concert. 

Running a couple of minutes late, (which is unlike me, normally, because I’m a stickler for punctuality) as I entered the auditorium the familiar strains of “Moonlight Serenade”, being played by The Glenn Miller Orchestra, led by Buddy DeFranco, greeted me.  Tears filled my eyes upon hearing the melody.  Happy memories flooded my being.  During my childhood years, along with other favourite Miller tunes, of which there were many, "Moonlight Serenade", was regularly played on our piano by my mother.  Her nimble fingers flew up and down the keys, and the music brought joy to our lives.

Mum introduced my brother and me to so an endless amount of wonderful music...covering all genres from classical to rock to pop and all in between.

On a hot, humid February night in 1973, I was in the presence of “The King of Swing”, Benny Goodman, decked out in a tuxedo and bow tie.  How cool he was! 

An evening in the early 70s, not the “Twelfth of Never”, I became misty over Johnny Mathis. Once the acoustics were fixed, he was wonderful, wonderful.

There was no “Let’s Stick Together” with Brian Ferry, though. Not impressed, we left his lack-lustre performance after two songs. 

Mikis Theodorakis, the great (outstanding/extraordinary) Greek composer (Hint!   “Zorba, the Greek” and the soundtrack to an equally-marvellous movie, “Z” starring Yves Montand) took my breath away; a powerful concert, indeed.    

Theodorakis commanded one’s attention by his stance alone; his presence was all-consuming...and once he began conducting his troupe of musicians and singers...there was no escaping his magnetic force.  Mesmerised, I was a willing prisoner.  His was one concert, in particular, I didn't want come to an end.  He was a force, indeed.

While at Paul McCartney’s “Wings Over the World” concert on 10th November, 1975, my ear drums felt like Gene Krupa had given them a solid work-out.  The speakers were massive, I kid you not.  

Neil Diamond had my undivided attention in 1976. 

Enthralled by the arrogant beauty and brilliance of Rudolf Nureyev as he leapt (read “flew”) across the stage in “Giselle” is a memory that will remain with me forever.   Nureyev was a shining star....and, to make an evening even better than I thought it could ever be...when he was taking his applause, he turned to me, and smiled!   Again, I kid you not...this is the truth.

And in the words of 1935 song written by Ed Farley and Mike Riley, lyrics by Red Hodgson, made a hit in 1936 when recorded by Tommy Dorsey – also performed by the one and only Ella Fitzgerald, and by the American  jazz cornettist, composer, and jazz bandleader, Red Nichols*** ...

”The Music Goes Round and Round”.....

***  If you’ve never seen the 1959 movie “The Five Pennies”, which starred Danny Kaye as “Red Nichols” yourself a favour by watching it when it turns up one Saturday afternoon some time or other, on your television won’t be sorry.  But, be warned...have a box of tissues handy...

Greek Bean Soup: Soak 1/2kg haricot beans overnight. The next day rinse beans; then put into a deep pan with enough water to cover. Boil them, but before they come to the boil remove the froth that comes up to the surface. After they come to the boil simmer for 15mins. Remove beans; drain in colander. Put beans back in pan; add enough quality chicken stock to cover them up to about 2 fingers above the surface of the beans. Add 1 large onion, grated, 2 diced carrots, 1tbs roughly chopped celery leaves, 1 hot chilli, chopped, 1/2tbs tomato paste, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 150ml slightly concentrated tomato juice, 150ml tomato passata and seasonings. Simmer an hour or more until beans are tender.

Maestro Risotto: Boil 1-1/2c risotto rice until half cooked; then rinse under cold water. Bland 10 asparagus spears; then slice into 3-4 pieces. Heat 1tbs butter and 1tbs olive oil in large pan; sauté 1tsp chopped garlic and 1tbs chopped onion, about 3mins.  Add 30g sliced sun-dried tomato, asparagus and 4 chicken breasts, partly grilled, sliced into strips; cook 4mins. Add rice and 400ml chicken stock; stir regularly until stock is absorbed; taste rice for doneness; if needed, add more stock; keep cooking until done; season with salt, pepper and pinch of Italian herbs; fold in 2tbs grated Parmesan at the last moment; serve. 

Sweet Dreams – Cole Porters: Make first layer; beat 6 egg yolks with 140g sugar until light and fluffy; add 70g melted chocolate and 140g ground walnuts; mix well; spoon into well-greased 23cm spring-form pan; level surface. Stiffly beat the egg whites; then gradually add 140g sugar; beat until stiff peaks form. Add juice of 1 lemon; gently fold in 140g ground almonds; spoon over first layer; level surface. Bake in 150C oven, 2hrs, or until mixture leaves side of pan. When cool, cut into bite-sized pieces.  Melt 120g chocolate with 25g copha; drizzle a little over each piece.  Chill until ready to serve.

Friday, June 16, 2017


To clear up any misunderstanding, - please note I said, in black and white - “just when I THOUGHT I’d heard it all”...not “just when I knew I knew it all”. 

Every day it becomes even more clearly obvious to me I’ve not heard it all.  I certainly don’t know it all – if, in fact, I know anything at all. 

My education is sadly lacking, this much I do know because all the well-educated researchers eagerly tell me so every day.   And, seeing they’re so “well-educated”, I have to believe what they say....they keep telling me they know best...and everything.

I wonder if I should become a mature-age student.  I suppose I’d have to be mature first before I’d be allowed to set my toes, let alone feet, into the hallowed halls and rooms of higher education.  If that’s the case, I don’t stand a chance. I’d not be allowed near the front gates, let alone the hallways or rooms.  I doubt there is a university in this country that would accept me.  I’ve far too much to learn. They just don’t have the spare time to accommodate me. 

Perhaps home-schooling is my best, and only, bet. 

I spat the dummy the other day when I read these headlines:-

Quote:-  Study:  Describing Breastfeeding as ‘Natural’ Is Unethical Because It Reinforces Gender Roles...”  And then the content continues – “It’s ‘ethically inappropriate’ for government and medical organizations to describe breastfeeding as ‘natural’ because the term enforces rigid notions about gender roles, claims a new study. Coupling nature with motherhood… can inadvertently support biologically deterministic arguments about the roles of men and women in the family (for example, that women should be the primary caretaker,” the study says.    End Quote

You’ve got to be kidding me!  It probably took five years of university study for someone to come up with this little beauty!

Okay! You men out there – take heed!  

You’d better start getting your act and D-cups together.  I also read somewhere there are tablets on the market called “Natural Curves”, as well as “”Natural Treasures”.   

And I’ve read herbs such as fenugreek, wild yam, fennel, red clover and pueraria mirifica (it’s nature’s answer, apparently) do the trick, too.   So, it’s time for you blokes to get stuck into the herbs and the above supplements!  You may be called upon to step up and do your duty!

On the same day I read the above nonsense re breast-feeding, I also read that reading bedtime stories to your children should cease and desist – pronto! 

The article written by some brainy researcher informed us uneducated mere mortals that reading stories to your kids gives them an unfair advantage over the kids next door, or those down the road, or across the way, who probably aren’t being read bedtime stories! 

The dimwits who come up with these outrageous deductions are the ones spinning bedtime stories, in my opinion.  After reading all that driveling hokum I was totally exhausted. I was the one who needed a dose of vitamins!  (I don’t take vitamin supplements of any kind...relying on foods/vitamins of the natural kind)!

Worse still, in the same week the above bombshells were dropped, a NSW government town crier heralded a decree loudly and clearly, proclaiming a war had been declared on butter and Vegemite, among other things, being served in school canteens. 

Poor old Vegemite sure gets a kicking from pillar to post and back again.  It’s a pretty sore and unhappy little Vegemite these days after learning it’s being slammed by those spreading the venomous denunciations around the place.  

And it’s a pie-in-the-face moment that the reputation of the good old Aussie favourite, the hearty meat pie, is being denigrated, as well. 

Why, oh, why do “they” defame Vegemite and the pie?

I refuse to give up either, any time soon...or later!  So there!  Stick that in your pipes and smoke it, researchers!   

"Experts”....drips under pressure!

I guess the only chance I have is to mature; only then will I become a mature-age student able to study the reasons behind all this gibberish. 

However, even at the end of my many years of study I won’t have heard it all - no matter what I think I think or think I know!

Vegemite Muffins: Combine 1-1/3c plain flour, 1c wholemeal flour, 1tsp bicarb soda, 1tsp mustard powder, pinch of salt and 1/2c grated tasty cheese. Whisk together 3/4c milk and 1/3c sour cream; stir into flour to form dough. Knead gently on floured surface before lightly rolling out to a 20x25cm rectangle; spread with 1tbs Vegemite; roll up from long side. Cut into pinwheels; place, cut side up into12x1/3c capacity greased muffin pan. Sprinkle with extra cheese; bake in 200C oven, 15-20mins. 

Mighty Meat Pie: Combine 1kg chuck steak, cut into 3cm cubes, 660ml dark ale or 500ml Guinness, ½ bunch thyme, 6 garlic cloves, halved, 1tsp black peppercorns and 1 large onion, chopped. Marinate overnight, if possible.  Drain beef; reserve liquid. Pat beef dry; dredge in 1c seasoned flour; the fry in small batches until brown; set aside. Stir 1tbs Vegemite through reserved marinade; add this to casserole dish with seared beef. Cook gently over low heat or in 150C oven, approx 3hrs. Season to taste; cool. Grease pie dish with butter. Roll out 500g puff pastry; cut into 2 discs; one large enough to line dish; other for lid. Fill with the beef mixture; brush edges with beaten egg yolk. Crumble 100g Stilton or blue cheese (or cheddar) over filling; put lid over top; seal with firm crimps. Brush lid with the egg; cook in 180C oven, 45-60mins. Served with steamed greens and mashed spuds.

Chocolate Fudge with Vegemite Caramel: Line 13x22cm loaf tin with baking paper. Melt 180g condensed milk with 200g dark choc chips. Spread evenly into loaf tin; put in freezer for about 30mins. Make caramel – place 100g condensed milk, 1tbs golden syrup, 2tbs caster sugar, 1tbs butter and ¼ to 1/2tsp Vegemite into small saucepan; bring to boil over med-heat; stir often. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5mins, stirring regularly. Check balance between too soft and too chewy by putting a small drop on cool plate. Scrape caramel into a bowl; cool about 5mins; then spread onto choc mixture. Return to freezer for about 10mins. Then melt 120g condensed milk and 100g dark choc chips; spread over caramel. Put in freezer for 45mins; the cut into small squares.  Store in fridge.  

Sunday, June 11, 2017


In these times of constant sorrow it’s difficult to keep one’s head above the mire. Valiantly, we must try to keep our spirits high no matter how challenging a feat that may be; no matter how overwhelmed we feel at times.  We must never be defeated by negativity, hate, violence and ignorance.  Too often, it’s easier said than done...

To be honest, there are times I really do feel like going on the lam; in an effort to escape the harsh realities of life.  I become quite weary of it all.  Frequently I feel drained because of all the stupidity with which we are surrounded.  

My desire is to soar aloft with Harry Styles, ex “One Direction”, as he floats like Jonathan Livingston Seagull high above the mess below on earth.  With not a care in the world I want to blissfully waft like a feather at the fancy of a carefree summer breeze.  

I wonder if Harry will let me hum along as he sings his stirring new song, “Sign of the Times”.   I say “hum”, because then, and only then, he might allow me to join him in song.  Perhaps I could just mouth the words.  I’d have no chance of being allowed sing aloud with him. 

An emphatic “No!” would be his reply. My car even turns up its tyres when I sing while driving along Main Western Road en route to my local supermarket, and back home again. 

If I was a few decades younger and Harry asked me to go on the lam with him, I’d not hesitate.  Dammit! Nowadays I’m even too old to become a cougar! 

So there you have it...if you don’t see me hanging around the IGA car park or lurking in the aisles harassing both the staff and customers, I’ve given up, and finally gone on the lam.

 No!  Not “on a lamb”...on the lam!  I’m not trying to pull the wool over your eyes. They are two completely different things, silly!   

If no one wants to be “Thelma” to my “Louise”, it’ll just have to be me and my two furry, four-legged best mates... that is, of course, if I can entice them to get off “our” bed!  They (they’re cats, not lambs) have it in their head they are the guardians of the bed. I’ve as much chance of getting these two, who believe they rule my world, to take notice of me as I have of grabbing young Harry’s attention. 

It’s a sign of the times.  Maybe I should take up knitting...on second thoughts...maybe I shouldn't take up knitting....

Seeing there is no possibility of Harry letting me glide adrift with him in the great blue yonder the only solution is for me to stay home.  Therefore, if, perchance, you see someone riding along the road atop of a lamb, it won’t be me...different lam; different rider.  

One bright sunny day, in late 1986, when I was manager of the resort on Hinchinbrook Island, I was visiting New Zealand for business reasons.  While driving from Christchurch to Mt. Hutt I did come across a lamb on the road. 

I leapt out of the car...having pulled to a halt first, of course...and scooped up the little fellow in my arms.  The lamb’s concerned mother, knowing not what to do to get her baby back, stood at the paddock fence, staring. You would be, too, if you were a ewe. 
Once I’d deposited the little woolly fellow over the fence, back to the safety of its mother, I felt at peace with the world.  I knew I’d done a good thing.  Mumma Ewe knew I had done a good thing, too.  It was the look in her eye that gave away her know the one...

Braised Lamb Shanks: Add enough-virgin olive oil to coat a large Dutch oven; heat over med-high heat. Season 4x300g lamb shanks on both sides; sear until browned on all sides. Place shanks on plate and set aside. Puree 1 large red onion, 3 carrots, 4 garlic cloves and 3 celery stalks in a food processor until a coarse paste. Add 1/2tsp x-virgin olive oil to Dutch oven; add the puree; season; sauté 20mins until browned and aromatic; add 375g tomato paste; stir in 1c hearty red wine, 1c beef stock, 2tbs chopped rosemary leaves, 12 thyme branches tied in a bundle; cook until reduced by half. Add shanks and more stock and 2c water to immerse shanks. Add 4 bay leaves; cover pot; cook in 175C oven, 2-1/2hrs.  Turn shanks halfway though; add 250g whole button mushrooms about 45mins towards end of cooking time. Serve garnished with gremolata (Gremolata (combine zest from 1 orange and 1 lemon, 1 garlic clove, 1/4c  chopped parsley, and 2 tbsp freshly grated horseradish), and with cheesy polenta, if desired .

Lamb Shanks with Chick Peas: Place 2 lamb shanks and 1 quartered onion in pot; add 1/2tsp turmeric and 4c beef stock; bring to boil; reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, skimming if needed, 1-1/2 to 2hr. Add 1 drained can chick peas, 1 can drained cannellini beans, 4 crushed garlic cloves, 1-1/2tbs tomato paste, 1/2c undrained chopped canned tomatoes and 2 potatoes cut into large cubes. Season to taste; cover; simmer 40mins. Serve on creamy mashed potatoes or rice. 

Lemon Lamb Shanks: Season 4 lamb shanks; dust with flour. Heat olive oil in pan; cook shanks over med-high heat until browned. Transfer to oven pot; add 2/3c chicken stock, 4 dill sprigs, 2 sliced garlic cloves, 1 thinly sliced onion and 1 small, seeded, thinly sliced lemon; cover; cook in 175C oven, 2-1/2 to 3hrs. Transfer shanks to small bowls; keep warm. Skim fat from cooking juices; stir in 1tbs chopped dill, 1tbs lemon juice; season; spoon over shanks. Sprinkle with crumbled feta.
Mt. Hutt, South Island, New Zealand