GORDON URQUHART – A Voluptuous Story About a Voluptuous Woman in Search of a Voluptuous Title

When my mate Max suggested I write a short story I thought he had gone mad: eccentric mad, not thinks he’s Napoleon mad.

He has controversial views on some social issues, and he’s always been old-fashioned – if old-fashioned means only employing secretaries who are under 25, female, and blonde – but these things were never a problem. His wife never complained, to my knowledge, but then I don’t think he ever told her – or his three previous wives – about his requirements in administrative support staff.

Until recently Max had been a very respectable barrister, well-connected (we know many of the same people), solid, a proud burgher of his city and citizen of the world. He abided by the law, or course, and I would say he paid his taxes, but certain matters are sub judice at this time, so you will understand if I don’t express a definite opinion on that subject here. I will say his art collection is more than impressive and the comically bad performances of his racehorse Twiggy’s Dancer provided an excuse for a number of amusing days at the track with plentiful champagne.

In his professional life he represented premiers and jockeys and adult entertainment impresarios. At the Opera he sat near a former governor-general and clinked glasses at interval with a man whose mining company owns forty per cent of Western Australia. He still does.

Then came the change.

None of us knew it, but there was a secret in his armoire, only revealed when we received invitations to his first book launch. The tome was called Bonfire Of The Bar, and it became the start of a very successful series of Walter Prendergast’s barresterial adventures. Walter is a lawyer who does things his own way: he’s a rebel, a black sheep, charmer of judges, breaker of rules, and enjoyer of three-hour lunches matched with superior wines. He frequently ends up in bed with his charming assistant or some other willing accomplice of the female persuasion. Walter the ladies man reminds me of a ladies man I know, but this is no coincidence: writing from experience is the advice they give to budding scribblers.

“All lawyers want to be writers, Gordy,” Max said. I suppose he’s right.

There have been four Prendergast adventures so far, and loyal readers want more. So successful has Max become that he has given away lawyering. Well, you never really give it away, but he’s strictly part-time now, spending most of his time in chambers indulging in something creative, with Miss Palmer his clerk in close attendance. (Max writes long hand, and Tiffany types up his pages. He never learned to use a machine of any kind, after mastering the tricky clutch on his 1967 Aston Martin.)

Which brings the story to me.

At his publisher’s suggestion, Max decided to edit a collection of short stories by lawyers, shamelessly designed to appeal to the lawyer-turned-writer market. In my case, it should more accurately be described as lawyer-turned-mining-magnate-turned-political-consultant-turned-turned-real-estate-investor market.

My distance from the profession didn’t bother him though. Just write a story, he said.

So I did, and it’s rather good. When inspiration wouldn’t come I decided to base my tale on a lurid case from the early 1980s. It is about the time I met and represented Conchita Diaz Furioso, a noted flamenco dancer who worked late nights in a restaurant with her partner Ramon. The proprietor thought this added colour to his establishment.

Unpaid wages led to an accusation of fraud and events took a decidedly criminal turn after that. Vandalism, mysterious assaults, and a suspicious death were all involved. I found that Conchita and Ramon were partners in a professional sense only, despite being technically married. It emerged that Ramon had a collection of passports with different names on all of them. As I got closer to Conchita I learned the the full meaning of “fiery Latin”.

“There are no male friends. Only lovers,” Conchita told me. She convinced me of her sincerity on this point, several times.

She could crack a walnut between her thighs, and she had … well, other skills too.

It was a torrid few weeks, and it makes a rollicking story. The temptation was to use phrases like “throbbing member”, “pleasure cave” and “love truncheon” in certain intimate scenes, but I cut most of those phrases, and only twice used “moist”, which I believe is a technical term in scenes of this kind – as technical as sine die is a courtroom scene.

One crucial element it missing: an appropriately romantic, legal, adventurous, dangerous title will not come to me, and I don’t know what to do. At this stage I’m leaning towards “Criminal Passions From The Courtroom To The Bedroom”, but I’m not sure if that works.

Published in: on October 8, 2019 at 6:18 pm  Leave a Comment  


“Treat inquiries of all sorts as if they were a minor vexation,” my mate Cameron used to say. I’ve known Cam for years. I went to school with his brother Dougal, who distributed my wine label for a while, and who allowed me to accompany him to Hobart one year when his maxi Panama Papers came in fourth.

Cameron has been before the Bar Association and has needed to argue himself into and out of bankruptcy at various times in his career as one of the titans of the Sydney business community. There were also a few interviews with the constabulary, who treated him very respectfully, which may have been something to do with his mention of an uncle who had been a Supreme Court judge, and it may have had nothing to do with that at all.

We studied law together at uni, Cameron and I, and invested in a few ventures after we had both decided that law lacked the challenges we could find in buying and selling companies.

He was always a great guy, very hospitable and really splendid company. I miss him but understand that sometimes people’s circumstances change and it’s often best to just accept the new reality. Besides, when Nancy and I are travelling we usually stop off in the Cayman’s and stay with him for a few days.

We were there in January. His golf swing is still immaculate.

Published in: on February 7, 2019 at 7:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

GORDON URQUHART – A Retired Australian Businessman Comments Irrelevantly On The News

Gordon Urquhart – A Retired Australian Businessman Comments Irrelevantly On The News[1]

The good people of Scotland have decided against independence then. It’s hard to know whether this is a bad thing or a good thing. Certainly the British Prime Minister seems a thoroughly affable man and I can see why you would want to keep him in charge. Whenever I hear David Cameron’s voice it reminds me of a chap called Snellgrove – “Smelly” Snellgrove, we called him (his name was Charles) – who went to my school Frencham as an exchange student in the early 1960s. We won so many debates with Smelly as our third speaker, primarily because he charmed people with his beautifully modulated Home Counties tones, but if you got up close to him, well, he proved that the joke about English people never washing had some foundation. We used to say it was because he hadn’t brought a servant with him and he didn’t know how to lather his own soap, which may or may not have been true.

Lovely chap he was. Went to work for BP and appeared on the news a few years ago, fielding questions about that oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He gave non-answers, but they sounded commanding.

Whenever I think about Scotland I always recall the time Nancy and I spent there in 1978, as guests of the Laird of Invergowrie and his wife, at Clouston Manor on one of the lochs up in the Highlands. Hugh Masters, the laird’s real name, was a mate of mine from Cambridge. He was studying there when my rugby team arrived on tour and flooded the entire ground floor of his college when a plumbing prank we called “make your own geyser” went wrong. He was very good about the damage done to his room, accepting a keg of beer in compensation, and we became firm friends, culminating in a week of lavish hospitality and shooting at his family home some fifteen years later.

We became business associates, the best kind of associates.

It was a beautiful estate. A shade of green unlike the grass at home, so deep and dark, with misty evocative drizzle most of the time, especially in the morning when we saw a majestic stag standing proudly on a ridge about a hundred metres away, surveying his own realm. We missed him, unfortunately, but managed to bag dozens of grouse, a badger and four grey squirrels, which are really hard to see when there’s mizzle around. I had a pair of shotguns made for me, by a firm in London which doubled as a tweed outfitter, and wrote off the bill as a business expense, as you were able to do in 1970s.

Hugh kept apologising for our meagre haul, although it seemed pretty impressive to me. Perhaps the Garrick we sipped, for tasting purposes, at breakfast and at every subsequent meal, had something to do with the inaccuracy of our aim. It all seems so hazy now, and it was probably a bit hazy then too, if I remember rightly the number of whisky bottles taken away every day by the butler, but it was a happy time for us all to sit there in front of the huge fireplace, in the baronial hall with faces of the many species who lived on the manor looking down on us from the wall where they had been mounted. My wife and I wore the Urquhart tartan, and the kilt can be a fetching garment on the right set of legs, but the Laird and Lady said they only wore “fancy dress” when Japanese tourists were around.

Scotland has a dear place in my heart with very fond memories. I became a confirmed Garrick drinker after my time at Clouston and became a passionate advocate for the cause of single malt, which is something I would always vote for.

[1] That could very well have been the title of a series of these little stories, which I offered to do by way of a submission to a competition in which a journal which was offering readers the chance to win their own column. It’s not a good name for a column, but I was attempting to be silly and funny and not take myself too seriously (which I don’t) and to show the judges that I don’t take myself too seriously either. It didn’t work, perhaps because it’s not very good. They didn’t like what I wrote in this sample column or my ideas for future columns, such as Gordon commenting on global warming or reminiscing about the Oscars, or at least they didn’t like them enough to offer me one of the cash prizes and the opportunity to be read by many people on a semi-frequent basis. But that’s OK. This is a kind of publishing, I suppose. (And yes, this is a serious footnote, not a jokey one, which is unusual for a Gordon story. Apologies for that.)

Published in: on October 13, 2014 at 7:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

GORDON URQUHART POSTCARD – The Basket of a Hot Air Balloon

From 3,000 feet up, high over the Hunter Valley, the view is gorgeous. Nancy said it was gorgeous. The pilot Marcel called things gorgeous too. He was French and his English wasn’t spot on, so when I suggested “magnifique” as an alternative he shook me by the hand and said, “Oui. C’est magnifique!” He kept using the phrase for the rest of our romantic dawn flight. I preferred stunning, I have to say. You can see wineries and horse studs and pretend that the suburbs on the outskirts of Newcastle at the very edge of the view really aren’t there at all. Rows of grape vines look like unusually dense clumps of dark green bush as you get higher and the fences on the horse paddocks seem to look neater as you get farther away.

We opened a bottle of Krug – that’s all they had in the Singleton Cellars, where we stopped off quickly for ballooning supplies, and found a deli where we could purchase baba ghanoush and tzatziki and roasted eggplant and sun dried tomatoes and beetroot chips and fresh, piping hot sourdough (Nancy was hurried, so there wasn’t time to overcater, as she usually does). The Krug tasted fresh and clean and the flavours matched the dips and bread beautifully. I took credit for the match, but it wasn’t planned. It was good fortune of a kind; the sort of good fortune you get when two people with a certain refinement find some food and drink options, however limited, and select the best of what is on offer. There’s no such thing as chance when you have taste.

They usually don’t allow drinking or eating in the balloon, but Marcel was content to turn a blind eye after some encouragement. He responded to my most convincing arguments about romance, and he also seemed rather persuaded when I explained the exchange rate of the Australian Dollar when compared with the Euro. He joined us in a glass of bubbly, too, and I think that helped to sway him.

It was our Wedding Anniversary, and it was a big one: our thirty-seventh anniversary to be precise. They’re all big ones, as far as we’re concerned. Some years we find ourselves in Paris or New York or Tokyo on our special day. We went on safari one year, and it was quite exciting when we were briefly under attack. An adolescent Mona monkey, one of the large family which hung around the resort hotel, thought Nancy was trying to steal his banana. She sought refuge in the bathroom of our suite. I saved Nancy by hitting the fellow with a rolled up copy of the Accra Daily Mail. Out in the jeep with Keith the guide we were perfectly safe though, and thoroughly enjoyed all our tours with him. Although we saw all the obvious sleek hunting animals, what we most enjoyed was watching elephants standing around, not doing much.

It was peaceful to be floating above the world. We wore scarves and jackets and thought of the weather as bracing rather than cold. We hugged and decided that it was the most romantic thing we’d done in ages.

It was also possible to have a good look at the Alfred Lyttleton Estate from up there. It’s a winery that a mate of mine is trying to sell, and I just might be interested.

Published in: on April 17, 2013 at 8:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

GORDON SANITAIRE by Gordon Urquhart (XLII)


The phone calls came in a flurry. Actually they weren’t all phone calls: Jeremy called us on Skype, which is a phone call with pictures, video, on the computer – he was calling from his suite in the Hôtel Meurice, where he stays in Paris each year for the microsurgery conference, and he said he would be home in early December, and could fit us in if we wanted to do something seasonal. Nancy discovered that Marcus had issued a statement on his personal website, which said he was looking forward to returning to Australia for the first time in two years, but was sad that the Wiener Symphoniker[1] would be taking a break from touring, and he hoped to take up further conducting opportunities in the new year. Dymphna, on the other hand, made a traditional phone call, informing us that she would be leaving for a three month sojourn with an Amazonian tribe which has an unpronounceable name and has a matriarchal social structure, but would like to see us before she left. She said something about the experience being empowering to her “as a woman”, which seemed redundant to me, and added that it might even help with her ambition to launch a hostile takeover of rival agency Dick’s Ideas Lab  when she returned. I liked her using the word ambition – very much indeed – and offered advice about how to destroy her rival, but Dizz informed me that things are not done that way in advertising these days.

It seemed a perfect opportunity to hold an Urquhart Christmas function, as all branches of the family would be in town for a brief window of time. A team of party planners were engaged to help with the arrangements, and finalise the timetabling of the thing, but by the time Jeremy was in Washington for Thanksgiving (and to give evidence before a Congressional committee investigating corruption in the pharmaceutical industry) the arrangements were settled, and he confirmed that he would be attending. Of course Nancy and I see the grandkids quite frequently and we do our fair share of babysitting, but to have all the parents and all the kids together, with their grandparents, is a rare treat.

Francesca was the boss of the planners and she did a fine job in the room we booked on the top floor of Vino Conto Salato. The room has a very fine view of Sydney Harbour, which is almost as good as the views from my house, and inside there were huge bowls of eggnog and rum punch, there were flashing fairy lights, and tinsel, and three Christmas trees (Nancy and I have always been partial to the idea of more than one Christmas tree). Carols played on the sound system, and so did Bing Crosby, and novelty Christmas songs played too, including the one everyone loved, which was dogs barking to the tune of yet more Christmas songs. The technical team had done Francesca proud, producing a room with air conditioning so chilly that scarves and playfully festive jumpers had to be worn, lest you acquired hypothermia, and the windows appeared to have a build-up of snowy deposits in their lower corners. We ate roasted meats of several kinds and gravy and pudding and warmed ourselves by a large open fire at one end of the room.

I popped out at one point, for a quick trip to the gents, and while I was gone Santa made a flying visit, distributing gifts to everybody who had had done well in their exams[2]. The grand kids were all pleased with their Apple products. Their parents enjoyed the day too. Most pleased of all, though, was Titus, who sat near me during lunch, and said, at the end of the day, as the parents started gathering their children and belongings, “God bless us every one!” He added shortly after: “I was being ironic” and we all laughed.

That’s the end for 2012. It’s been fun.

[1] Vienna Symphony, to you and me.

[2] Which means all the grandkids. Urquharts don’t do badly in exams.

Published in: on November 26, 2012 at 7:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

GORDON SANITAIRE by Gordon Urquhart (XLI)


When you’ve been flying solo in your public life as long as I have you learn to be self-reliant. You not only look after number one but expect number one to look after you too: you expect the public persona as a man of business, an achiever in a competitive world, a well-connected man, to come to the rescue when the private man is subjected to second thoughts and even blacker moods. Negative feelings never keep me down for long, but that time when I felt depressed – for a day or so when it looked as though we might not be able to purchase the mine in PNG after the Australian Greens called for a Senate inquiry into the behaviour of the firm I represented[1] – I came through armed with a thought that always makes me feel better: losing is for losers.

I have my own way of doing things, and when I do things my way they usually come out right. The song “My Way” could have been written about me[2], or by me (if I’d ever written songs), and I still have a very similar attitude when it comes to events of the past. If you can’t change it, let it go, and go on to the next deal. Make sure your hair looks great and your suit is sitting right and keep walking. Always focus on winning. Or as Paul Anka wrote, and Frank Sinatra sang:

Regrets, I’ve had a few,

But then again too few to mention

There are a few subjects I had intended to cover during this year but simply never got around to it. A pang of sadness is felt as I recall some of these columns which never made it: there was to be something about what it’s like to get older and lose one’s sense of direction; advice about how to behave at a real estate agent’s property viewing, with some ideas about renting and how to get on with your landlord; reflections on my own health after a bit of a scare, mid-year, and some time in hospital; advice to the young about how to live well in order to be a content senior citizen; advice for the lovelorn and hopelessly unsuccessful romantics; thoughts on the nature of addiction following my participation in Dry July; more thoughts about causes where people give something up or do something unusual, which take place over a day or longer period; and a list of all the things which have been really annoying me lately.

But regrets? No, not really. Non, je ne regrette rien as another song goes. The list above is bogus. My sense of direction is fine and I drive just fine (too fast, to be honest); I have very little interest in the rental market, except for making money out of it; I have had no health scare; I have always been successful romantically so it frankly doesn’t concern me whether others have trouble in this area or not; the thought of missing out on a glass (or three) of Penfold’s Yattarna Chardonnay at the end of the day fills me with horror, so I’m unlikely to stop imbibing any time soon; and I think that days and months with hilarious puns in the title are as alienating to me as those reprobates who harass you on the street because they are collecting for a charity of some sort, and they’re always English, and backpackers, and they won’t leave you alone because they operate on a commission or they are thinking of picking your pocket later.

Actually the list of things which annoy me is appealing – it’s a shame I didn’t do that. Next year perhaps.

[1] I was identified only as a lawyer from Sydney in the report of this inquiry, which was irksome, as some sort of public credit for “the most breathtakingly devious land deal ever put together by an Australian enterprise in PNG” was earned, I felt.

[2] My wife says that the song “You’re So Vain” was written about me. She’s joking, of course. It doesn’t do me justice.

Published in: on November 19, 2012 at 7:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

GORDON SANITAIRE by Gordon Urquhart (XL)

Animal Companions

When I was six Mumsy and the Senator brought me with them on their annual cruise. We visited a number of places in the South Seas, as people referred to the Oceania region then, and my abiding memory is of the adults sitting on deck in wicker chairs at sunset, playing bridge and drinking gin and tonic from tall glasses with plenty of ice in them. I learned all I know about trouncing slightly inebriated adults at the card table then. When we returned the junior gardener was no longer on our staff and of course his dog Millie was gone too. I had thought of Millie as being my dog, in a way, and had given her pats and the occasional treat from the kitchen when Nanny said it was OK. She wasn’t really my dog though. I used to play with her while the junior gardener was showing Tess, the new scullery maid, around in his shed. The junior gardener had shown me around his shed, and I was mightily impressed, so it seemed logical that Tess might want to be shown around in there on multiple occasions.

Millie was about as close to I ever came to having a pet.

There have been other animals in my life, I suppose. I learned to ride early in life, and there always seemed to be a horse available if you were visiting someone and everyone decided to go riding. One of the great pleasures is to groom a horse but sadly opportunities to do this were few and Mumsy flat out refused to allow me to indulge in this practice when she detected an interest. She said that horses were filthy, which isn’t true, and it was only later that I learned what her true motive was. It was the desire to keep me from bonding with such an animal and activating the horse mad gene she carried from her grandfather Godfrey Bartrim, who trained horses, and won the 1883 Melbourne Cup, and then lost his fortune, and was forced to work for a new mining company called BHP until he got back on his feet again. I appreciate that Mumsy meant well and perhaps I was able to focus better on my future life in the law without cats and dogs walking through the house and curling up in my lap by the fire. They would have been a distraction to my studies, and later to my romantic escapades, but I do wonder sometimes whether their absence left a gap in my emotional life.

Perhaps some of the affection a child shares with a pet was stifled in me somehow, although that’s doubtful. Pretty soon I was boarding at Frencham, punching the chubby boys as hard as I could, and learning how to kick people and get away with it in a series of unbelievably brutal rugby games. That was how healthy boys channelled their energies and sorted out their confusing emotions in my day.

Now as Nancy and I drink our coffee in the morning and gaze out over the dark grey water of Sydney Harbour we look forward to visits from the family of lorikeets which has adopted us. There’s Wayne, Shane and Daryl, and their mum Breeanna. They may not be a real family, but we treat them as one. We left fruit out for them as an Easter present earlier this year and they seemed to appreciate the gesture.

Published in: on November 12, 2012 at 7:29 pm  Leave a Comment  



Well last week’s searing exposé about Cairns certainly provoked a torrent of response from readers. From my readers, I’ve been told to say. I was told to write about the torrent and the exposé too, but the whole thing is just a tad silly really. There was nothing searing and there wasn’t an especially enthusiastic response – just the usual trickle of correspondence from people who like what I am doing here and want me to keep going, and the odd one, often with appalling spelling, which wants to tell me to nick off.

I’m not going to nick off, dear reader. Not just yet anyway. I’m not going to do anything because someone who can’t distinguish between ‘their’, ‘there’, and ‘they’re’ thinks it is a good idea – and I won’t start on the use and abuse of apostrophes, as it will only make me cross – but it is the time of year when I ought to write a column about correspondence from readers.

As the year winds down it is customary to cobble together some highlights from the letters, notes, emails, and other missives one has received, both physical and digital, in an effort to prove to the rest of you that I do indeed have readers who are committed enough to write to me, and in order that I might say how flattered I am that those of you who did send me something have taken the time and how sorry I am that I don’t have the time to answer you all personally. I’m flattered, thank you, I’m sorry – there you go: that’s done! But seriously, I enjoy your comments very much indeed, and Cindy my secretary enjoys reading them to me when we get a pile sufficiently high to warrant the exercise.

This year I have been called various names by a number of people who can’t seem to communicate without using the sort of language teenage school girls use when they are going home on the bus. Much of it has been quite amusing. Special mention must go to the gentleman who instructed me: “f__k off you inbuseel c__t” after my first column about little kiddies going back to school and the promise in the fertile minds of young people. That kicked off the year beautifully. A woman from the western suburbs regularly contacts me with news about her grand kids and updates about how her nephew is going in the correctional facility. These are lovely little notes to receive, and it’s sweet that she includes me in her life in this way. However she also writes a different kind of letter – same name, address, postmark, handwriting – in which she lambasts me for being a know-all. It gets worse than that though. She has called me a “know-all rich c__t” on numerous occasions and referred to my “faggy poofter mates” too. She clearly wasn’t at school the day her English master taught the class about tautology.

I have been given career advice by a lot of people – or, more accurately, by a few people quite a few times. Retire, is the main message with these. “Retire, you hopeless old hack,” wrote one in crayon just the other day. “Your old. You make me want to sh_t my pants when I read your sh_t!” Exclamation marks are used frequently by these enthusiastic correspondents, and good luck to them for their adventurous approach to punctuation. It’s fun to read.

To finish I’ll print an excerpt from a different kind of letter:

“Dear Gordon,

I laughed out loud when reading your latest column. Don’t ever stop. You brighten my week immensely.

P.S. You have the legs of a Greek god.”

Alright, I’ll admit Nancy wrote that one. She slipped it into my correspondence folder when I wasn’t looking. It’s a nice letter though, and I do get nice ones from time to time.

Published in: on November 6, 2012 at 7:35 pm  Leave a Comment  


Memory And Change

The mind can play funny tricks on you when you least expect it and I find that my memory can be a tad faulty on occasion. I’m not usually wrong about much, and I admit to being wrong about even less – an attitude which has served me well in boardrooms for the past forty years – but sometimes recall is tainted by emotion.

You remember being happy on a holiday somewhere and that means you make yourself also ‘remember’ that the location of the holiday was better than it really was. Of course it wasn’t that good – what was good were the fun times and bottles of Grange, before it was called just Grange, when it was called Grange Hermitage, and a humble lawyer could still afford a bottle. Well, perhaps not an especially humble lawyer, in my case – I have to be honest about that – and perhaps we’re not talking about a struggling lawyer’s wage either, even back then. How’s this? Back when an occasionally arrogant District Court judge could afford a bottle. (I’ve always had a section of the cellar devoted to Grange, but that’s another story.)

In any case, we’re talking about a long time ago. A long time ago when Nancy and I were courting and we went for a brief trip to Cairns. It was unspoilt and rough, but in a good way. We imagined we were pioneers and were on the frontier. Pubs had dirt floors and roads weren’t sealed. The beer was cold and the shade was cool and it was stinking hot everywhere else.

Nancy and I hired a small boat and I sailed it along the coast, navigating the inlets and showing off my seamanship, which must have been quite impressive, and Nancy sat in the stern and admired the view. The view included my youthful, vigorous legs, which had been praised by a swimsuit photographer we met in The Exchange Hotel, and my powerful yet lean torso, tanned in the tropical sun. It was necessary to sail shirtless for long periods. We were young and I was cocky and Nancy was a youthful Ingrid Bergman, glowing, radiant, and all mine as I took her exploring to the farthest limits of the primitive world we were in. We stopped at a romantic spot and ate our picnic and drank our crisp white wine. The weather turned stormy and I put my sailing sweater around Nancy’s shoulders and things became even more romantic. When it got dark we got back in the boat and I took her back to the marina, guiding the last part of our journey by the stars.

It was unsophisticated but that’s what we wanted. We were unsophisticated too – although not as much as the locals were, it has to be said. They were charming people though and we made friends and promised to be back soon and say hello again. But we never did. Work and children and other commitments got in the way. Until last month, that is, when we stayed for a weekend at Marlin Cove Resort, a five star development at the approximate location where we stayed all those years ago. The sheets were fresh and the room was clean and the complimentary bottle of wine was serviceable, but there was something missing. It was shiny and seemed too new and the place was full of people, all of which meant that the stillness, the end of the world quality, was gone. We looked around and couldn’t find our younger selves and we decided that we didn’t like the change.

If it had remained the same we wouldn’t have liked it either. Romantic very quickly becomes slumming it when you’re not twenty any more.

Published in: on October 29, 2012 at 7:54 pm  Leave a Comment  


The Big Weekend

This weekend was not one of the best weekends. It was the kind of weekend which makes you want a rest after it. At least I can say it’s over – and just repeating that brief phrase to myself brings a sense of calm I couldn’t adequately describe, even if I tried.

Friday was the start: a cocktail party on the roof of the GPO Building in the centre of Sydney. White tie, tails (naturally), opera pumps of marvellous sheen; my wedding cake outfit needed an emergency dry clean, and it was only because Serge owed me a favour that he was able to give my getup a once over out of hours. (Serge is Abraham the Ugandan coffee importer’s brother.) I was stuck talking to a bishop for an interminable period. Bishops are always so grateful for any sort of company, and they tend to eat with such undisguised relish that it makes you wonder about the quality of their diet at home, and it’s all a bit dull and vaguely embarrassing. The champagne was poor, canapés lacked a theme, and I was tricked into successfully bidding for something I didn’t want at the auction. We now have an Arthur Boyd hanging in the main hallway, but Nancy isn’t sure whether it clashes with the colour of the walls or not, so the new painting might be finding its way to one of the guest bedrooms.

There was a breakfast on Saturday. The kind where there is banter about work at the table and a speech about work at the podium and nobody does anything more daring than drink coffee while they listen, so you end up leaving hungry. Afterwards I had to get in the car and race across the Bridge to pick up Nancy at home and then race again, north, to the offices of a real estate agent in Newcastle in order to arrive before they shut at midday. We had had our eye on an investment property in the Hunter Valley for some time and the agent told us if we couldn’t sign before Monday it would be gone. The Dell is only a small farm, a handful of acres, but it should prove a profitable rental for wine enthusiasts attracted to the area by the tasting opportunities.

In the evening Nancy and I dined with the other members of the Lawyers Care Foundation. Talk was of initiatives and money-raising ventures and causes both worthy and less-worthy. It can be exhausting to be so virtuous. The champagne was sedate and the brandy was impertinent, and that’s as it should be.

Early on Sunday morning our architect Ernest arrived at the house for a planning session, with his four assistants in tow. Our vision is to have a series of large rooms below ground, leading down to the edge of the Harbour, and Ernest is working hard to bring this vision to life. There has been another cost blowout, but these are expected now, and we’re happy with the progress he’s making.

At lunchtime on Sunday was the opening of Max’s new exhibition at The Gallery. Max went to school with the twins and so we’ve known him since he was a little boy. We never miss it when he’s got something new to show. The latest exhibition features works made from barbed wire and it’s all about asylum seekers. We bought a sculpture called Barbed Wire Canoe. It’s sitting on a table in the hallway under the Arthur Boyd.

Published in: on October 22, 2012 at 7:44 pm  Leave a Comment