First we take Manhattan.(More of the Same, Thank you).


It’s odd that, even though the choices are supposed to be endless, we usually end up doing the same. What is the compulsion to be driven by the security of routine? I sleep, wake up, and make coffee. The choice could well be to not get up and wait for H to make my coffee. I could also just stay in bed and read or stare at the window, listen to the radio. ( I haven’t listened properly to a radio for years!)

I sometimes switch on the radio which is cemented solid on the ABC’s channel of classical music but within minutes switch it off again. The noise in the morning even of classical music is too much. Peace and quiet, especially in the mornings needs to be observed and maintained. Talk about maintaining the status quo and lauding ‘choice’? Even Chopin’s tingling on the piano before 10am is an intrusion on the sounds of birds and lovely stillness.

We sometimes break the rule, and especially after a couple of reds at night might put on the revolutionary Leonard Cohen’s ” First we take Manhattan,” or the schmaltzy Rod’s “I am sailing.” We play this loudly. Never mind the neighbours. They are in bed at 9pm. Can you believe it?

Why do people go to bed so early in Australia? I remember my teen years in the suburbs, never a light on after 9pm. What do people do so early in bed. Perhaps I have been mistaken. The place might well have been a cess-pit of unbridled lust, riddled and rocked with passion and sexual fever. Who knows? I doubt it though. It always puzzled me how people could spend so much time tending to a lawn. Hours, days, weeks on knees pulling out unwanted and different specimens of grasses! Oh, the pains of getting the perfect lawn.

But going back to routine. I could also have the choice of having a cup-o-tea with a cloud of milk with a coconut biscuit or a hot chocolate. Alas, I don’t, and I must therefore be firmly in the grip of routine. Yet, I have always prided and preached the sermon to others that we have freedom to change and really do what we like. Life is too short to not try out all sorts of things. Just jig about and do a quick step on the dance-floor of the available years ahead, I would advice. These are still my exhortations to others. There just seems to be a whiff of my usual hypocritism about it all.

As I was pondering about all this prior to getting out of bed, I felt a surge and need to do things differently this morning. “Let’s go for breakfast”, I stated bravely to my dear H. There is a shop around the corner and they have installed a lovely nook for those in need of early coffee and breakfasts.

It all looks very Italian and not at all the usual Aussie-Anglo stuff with muffins and doilies, drinking tea with little finger pointed forwards, toast and honey, stirring the sugar clockwise without tinkling the spoon, elbow raised perpendicular to the body. All this consumed by long married couples in utter silence.

No, this place has early morning laughter and shouting. “let’s go and make noise, have a focaccia Genovese, or maritozzo with whipped cream with Sardinia fried crepes with pecorino cheese and honey with Campanian sfogliatelle afterwards”, I said loudly. (I was hoping to impress my H, just having googled Italian Breakfasts.) “Let’s peruse the news, talk to people and do it differently this morning.”

A change of routine is like a visit to the doctor…

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15 Responses to “First we take Manhattan.(More of the Same, Thank you).”

  1. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Well did you and Mrs H. go to the Italian place for breadfast? You just left it all in the air. Well truthfully, I do about the same thing. Routines are about getting things done. But at my age, I’m not getting much done. Of late I’ve had to return to bed after not having slept the night before. If I deviate from routine too much everything seems more difficult. I’m not an organized person anyhow so how in the world did I jump onto the track about rountine? :–)

    Thoughtfull post Gerard. Very nice!


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, we did and it was a success. Lovely breakfast and with a coffee. Sorry to hear you have trouble sleeping. Join the club. I usually get up and make a glass of hot milk with a spoonful of honey. Most times I get back to sleep quickly.
      Doesn’t sound very exciting does it?


      • auntyuta Says:

        I am happy for you and H that you did go out for breakfast and enjoyed it. Well, why not pamper yourselves for a bit from time to time?
        I am an early riser, Peter isn’t. He likes to go to sleep late, usually not before 11 o’clock. I often struggle to keep myself awake for that long! 🙂


      • gerard oosterman Says:

        I do both; go to bed late, mostly at midnight or later and get up by 6.30. First strong coffee at with H at 7.30-8.30 depending on when she stirs.
        We do not watch much TV but either talk or just ‘muck around’ checking our internet or write bits and pieces. We started watching ‘Poirot’ last night but when the plot became complicated and too demanding we gave up and H gave it the flick.
        We can’t really get bothered with complicated plots where something gets built up only to discover it was not the real ‘baddy’ and we are led to the next suspect and so on.

        As for commercial TV, we would not even know where the channels are. Snobbish if you like, but the advertisements…? How can anyone watch it?


      • petspeopleandlife Says:

        Well yes. Honey in milk works for me too plus an extra B complex vitamin tab.


  2. auntyuta Says:

    I looked this up I think it should be ” hypercriticism”.
    I think your criticism is very constructive. It is good to reflect a bit on the way we spend our days here on this earth.
    “A change of routine is like a visit to the doctor…”
    Or even better than a visit to the doctor! 🙂


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you Uta,
      I looked it up as well, and it means; saying something contrary to own convictions or;Hypocritism is defined as a person who goes against what they themselves say-
      I am as much subject to routine as I assume we all are, even though I often fight against it. Life would be pretty difficult if it wasn’t ruled by routine. However, it does give us a great shot in the arm if we sometimes do something a bit different.
      Some people can’t cope with change of routine and get insecure even if their routine changes just a little bit.


  3. Lottie Nevin Says:

    Oh dear, you are going to think me fearfully dull (maybe you do already) but I’m often in bed by 9pm or even earlier. In my defence, I don’t have a television to watch but then that’s because i’m not a fan of tv, i’m a reader and here in lies the problem, for the past 3 years or more, i’ve not had a satisfactory reading light in any of our sitting rooms ( i say ‘any’ because i’ve moved house quite a few times) anyhow the only way to get comfortable is to go to bed and read. Put it this way, an early night for me does not necessarily equate to unbridled lust and passion, it’s simply a way of being able to get enough light to read by – reading that back, whatever you think, I’ve decided that I am very boring!

    Your spontaneous decision, rush of blood to the head, call it what you will, idea to go out for breakfast sounds wonderful and I gather from previous comments that it was a success. Maybe you could start making that part of your routine? 😀


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Oh, an early to bed to read is the opposite of being boring. I never saw much evidence of reading after 9pm ( or before) in the suburbs of my youth. More like a terrible habit of having to get up early to go to work which was likely to be miles away.
      The car meant people could buy cheap blocks of land far away and still able to work by driving a long distance quickly. When thousands did the same, traffic jams and longer drives resulted.
      I think you are a fascinating woman and am most curious what you are reading right now.
      The adventures in Indonesia and now in España, which you write so well about, keeps me going from instalment to instalment.


      • Lottie Nevin Says:

        Right now I’m reading Somerset Maugham’s ‘Of Human Bondage’ which I can highly recommend. The week before it was a re-read of Joyce’s Dubliners which I’m very fond of. I’ve already lined up my next book as I’m almost finished Of Human Bondage. Flaubert’s Sentimental Education.
        The good news is that just this morning I found a very cheap little lamp for the sitting room – having light in there is going to revolutionise my life! I can read by the fire whilst listening to Colin Snout snoring beside me. Perfect 😀


      • gerard oosterman Says:

        Of Human Bondage was one of my greatest reads. I think I read all of his books including an auto-biography. Was it called ‘The summing up?’
        Geez, I must get some black pudding after your last piece on Andalusia and the festival of the porkers.


  4. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    We are off to Sicily in a few weeks – can’t wait for breakfast now!


  5. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    The Italian breakfast beats a “healthy bowl of oatmeal” any time! I need to re-read Of Human Bondage one of these days. So many books, so little time! I find I go to sleep at 10:00, wake up again at 12:00 get up and write for a couple of hours, then back to bed and sleep. Routine is hard to break.


  6. Yvonne Says:

    My reward for reading some of your older posts, Mr Leonard Cohen. I love that man to death!


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