Posts Tagged ‘Master Chef’

A dangerous haircut.

July 18, 2017
IMG_0874Bowral Ducks

Bowral Ducks

It was suggested more than once to go and get my hair cut. ‘You are starting to look as if sleeping rough.’ This reference isn’t exactly an encouragement to go to the barber. I have often thought of sleeping ‘rough’. Over the last fortnight we watched two TV episodes of rich people experimenting with what seems to increasingly happen in Australia, homelessness.  A few TV people were assigned to imitate the lot of those unfortunate souls that are forced to sleep outside. What was lacking in the TV show of course was that those who did sleep outside for a few nights did this out of choice, and not out of necessity. The TV cameras followed them at all times and this made it all look a bit frivolous and silly. A kind of ‘Master-chef’ and it even copied the lining up of the participants in between the ‘sleeping rough’ episodes.

My idea of sleeping rough was awakened during our walk to the State library last year in the middle of summer. Martin Place in Sydney was full of the homeless sleeping rough but it had become a well organized ‘rough sleeping’. A kitchen had been set up and as far as I could see, the homeless made the best of a desperate situation.  There was hot food, tea and coffee, and most seemed to have reasonable shelter, either by small tents or overhanging awnings, sheltering them from rain.  It also had a book exchange for those vagrants with literary aspirations.  A most innovative idea. There existed an atmosphere of brothers/and sisters united in poverty and in spirit. Tenaciously they hung in there.

Martin Place of course is one of the most prestigious open squares in Sydney and millions of visitors walk through this lovely Town Square each year. It is surrounded by expensive shops and during lunch one can see smiling stock- brokers and Van Heusen shirt wearing criminal lawyers churning and belching their rich lunches down. It is indeed a spectacle of opposites in this Martin Place that the observant walker or tourist might well witness.

But…getting back to the impending hair-cut. I always go to the same barber. It is a franchise. You push a button and out comes a ticket telling your number in the queue and how much time will lapse before one gets the hair-cut. I was lucky and had to wait just twelve minutes giving me a chance to walk around my little local town-square, alas without homeless sleeping rough.

A solid girl was assigned to my head. I told her to try and envisage the state of my hair about eight weeks earlier and take it from there. I also told her to use comb nr 7 which gives the hair cutter some idea of preferred length of hair. Once I had taken out my hearing aids and taken off my glasses, peace and quiet reigned. I noticed she sniffled a little but otherwise she seemed a healthy woman and I felt confident my head to be in good hands.

As the girl with her cutting implements did the rounds she did suppress a few coughs and at one stage took herself off to a small backroom. I could hear her racking coughing loudly. On her return I put her at ease and told her that the winter is certainly giving people colds. A bit of a silly statement but without hearing aids I could not really risk engaging a conversation  that was destined to be difficult, especially when the poor girl was obviously having a bout of flu. I felt confident in my being risk-free with having taken the precaution of the yearly ‘flu-shot.’ At one stage and after another suppressed cough, I noticed her wiping a string of nasal expelled phlegm onto her black apron. I had quickly averted my eyes away from the mirror opposite me not wanting to further embarrass the situation.  She looked at me if I had noticed anything. I did not let on I witnessed this generous nasal expulsion.

I have now, and still am having, the worst flu episode ever. Totally Crook as Rookwood and am so full of lemon and honey, bees are buzzing around. What a bore and proof that flu shots are no guarantee against not getting a cold.


Putin for President?

June 19, 2017

untitledPutin and Oliver Stone

Last night’s TV watching is what I could do with every night. Forget about all those Master Chefs or Building UK modern houses, or even those new  incomprehensible English crime shows, which are so lost in loud music and serious and significant sideway cast glances by  main actors, that any attention the viewer had intended to give, is soon surrendered over to despair. The Putin- Oliver Stone interview was rivetingly watchable. Not a stir-fry in sight nor a double glazed window. A different kettle of fish.

Of course, Oliver Stone is not known for loving the Republican side of US politics. His keen-eyed  movies and scripts never fail to impress those who are  inclined to be cynical about much of what the US is purporting to stand for. i.e. ” US style  Democracy.” A short version of which is, ‘if you are not with us you are against us,’ and we will hunt/bomb you down mercilessly, and find ways to fill up more of our privately run prisons. I suspect that Oliver Stone might well have been put under scrutiny in the US more than once.

There is a bit of a story attached to Oliver Stone. We actually met him many years ago. Our daughter was working for RoadShow which at the time of the mid eighties promoted and featured upcoming movies. Our daughter, Susanna, was charged with people associated with a particular upcoming movie, to be looked after. This often included booking accommodation for interstate or overseas people associated with a newly released movie. It was a demanding job but she was very good at it. During the mid eighties, one of those overseas guests was Oliver Stone who had just finished making ‘El Salvador.’

We had already seen  Midnight Express of which the script was written by Oliver Stone in the late seventies. At the time that movie was already controversial and even banned in Turkey. With the arrival of El Salvador in 1986, his skill as both scriptwriting and film producer were already well established. We we were not al all familiar with many films but we did go to movies occasionally. Our daughter managed to sometimes get free tickets and so it was with the  showing of El Salvador at a theatre in Paddington, of which I have forgotten it’s name. Perhaps it was called The Dandy, or some similar silly name. Both our daughter and us decided to see that movie on a weekday. A normal day.

As we queued up for the tickets, Susanna was poked in the ribs by someone behind her. When she turned around, her gaze was met by Oliver Stone whom she apparently had me at the Roadshow office several times already.  She laughed and after a bit of a talk with him, introduced us to  him. “These are my parents, Helvi and Gerard”, she must have said. The exact details of word order might well have been a bit different.  It could just as easily have been; “This is Oliver Stone, these are my parents.” It has been so many years ago! We shook hands, he had large hands.

Anyway, we sauntered in. ( ‘sauntering in,’ is what people do, slowly entering cinemas or church services but not train carriages. We ‘enter or push into’ rail carriages. The movie was very terrifying of how things can go so badly wrong from one moment to the other. We exited the cinema in a haze of incredulity. How could that have happened?  We did not see Oliver Stone ever again, except through his movies. He must have got out earlier. He perhaps wanted to find out how his movie was received in Australia with a different audience.

The interview with Putin is what really made me ponder the pity of it all. Why not have a Putin for US president? Such erudite reasoning. Oh, those direct answers. No aggrandisement nor pursing of lips. And above all, his understanding of the US. At one stage seemingly knowing more about US trade deficits than even Oliver Stone.

On the other hand, Oliver Stone does enjoy the freedom of critical  exposing the US in his movies. We know so little about Russia, much of it mangled by US propaganda. I was in Russia for a short period and loved it.

Even so,  a Putin for US president would be a way forward compared with the present one.

Master Chef or Bullies?

July 22, 2010


The revelation that the popular TV show Master Chef would detract the majority of viewers away from the political debate held in the same time slot got me gobsmacked. There is a lot there, isn’t it?  More than enough material here for sociologists to keep busy for decades. 

How on earth can this be and how could a society get to a level whereby the importance of a country’s future is deemed to be less important than a ‘show’ that relies basically on instincts not far removed from the cheering, while knitting, ‘les peuples’ sitting around the guillotine watching cleft off heads rolling with still lolling tongues into the bucket during the French revolution ruckus.

Of course, earlier on the Romans had a taste for blood sport as well, with the Christians being eaten by lions in the Roman Coliseums or gladiators fighting to the death as per the Quo Vadis.  The analogy with those events with the present lust for Master Chef is also based on the same instincts of seeing victims humiliated and slaughtered for the pleasure of the audience.

 Master Chef has nothing to do with cooking or helping us to better dietary habits and everything to do with our love for the nail biting habit of watching the twitching faces of possible losers and perhaps but certainly, to a much lesser extent, the winners. Ah, our vicarious pleasure at watching the aspiring white coated little master chefs waiting for their fait to be decided by the big Master Chefs who are in total control over their quivering subjects. It is so good and so pleasurable that to make it last into endless weekly shows was the next logical masterstroke, the inventors and owners of the program could hardly believe their luck or their fortune.

The ‘arena’ of the kitchen is very well thought out by, no doubt, specialists in human behaviour, and how to get the best results in considering the all important physical environment. The stark, prison like brick walls, the distance between the subjects and the ‘executioners’, the Master Chef Judges. The gleaming hard reality of stainless steel benches and echoing audio. Then there is the galley above on which the Masters can prance around looking down on the subjects and their nervous attempts at cooking procedures with just the right kind of smirk for the well trained camera men to catch and blow up into the viewers TV room.  Of course, during the procedures of cooking, with every little nuance of the subjects nerves and tensions, are also expertly caught and exploited to the max by batteries of the ever vigilant camera…

There must be a flurry of Master Chef addicted viewers queuing at supermarkets on evenings prior to the show, stacking up on instant TV meals and other ready cooked delicacies such as instant mashed potatoes, frozen lasagne and crumbed chicken nuggets or calamari rings. The kids will be allowed to stay up and handy packets of Frooty Loops or crunchie bars with instant pop corn, so handily cooked in the micro wave. The irony of it all passing the viewers by while watching the latest culinary efforts.

Then, what we all wait for; the expulsions. Oh, Marquis de Sade, wake up, even you could not have conjured up this one. The quivering tensions as they line up, so full of hope and expectations. Of course the obligatory hugging takes place with brilliantly shown flash backs of earlier culinary attempts with the spatula and tongs, the sprinkling of just the right amount of all spice or turmeric with  our real  ever watchful camera poised to enlarge the twitch or quiver of the participant. It’s all manna from heaven for the TV channel moguls though, and much dollars by the millions. With the latest admittance that the Federal Election TV stoush will be taking second fiddle, the Master Chefs must be rubbing their hands. Are they now real leaders of our country?

Well, my grand kids watch the show. They love it. I don’t.  I find the show as boring as watching the petrol bowsers ticking over. As someone said before, it’s not as if you can smell the food, let alone eat it!  Surely the political debate has to be better than watching others cook?