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Rain and a swim

Day 9 at Howard Springs. The Prime Minister talked about the place the day before, it seems returning Australians from overseas might be mass-quarantined here in the 2,000 rooms left of the 3,000. For the first time it rained overnight and our “street” momentarily lost its internment camp look. And in the afternoon, fifteen from our block were permitted to walk, single file, to the large swimming…

Quarantine sunset

Sunset in Darwin is nothing like sunset in Melbourne. Sunset here blooms bolder, higher, starker. Somehow more elemental. I’m still not rising as early as I’d like but today, after a sapping jog (88% humidity) and grandchildren interactions, I’ve sat at desk conscientiously enough. But for some reason the world is serving up slabs of existentially upsetting news and I’m compelled to read and…

11 days inside a 600-meter perimeter

Melbourne remains locked down and there’s little chance of us escaping our five-kilometer radius before the end of October, so we’ve decamped to Darwin. The Northern Territory must be a state/province unrivalled globally in terms of shuttering and escaping the pandemic, and it has a simple, smart system for welcoming (or not, depending on your viewpoint) visitors. From the airport, you’re bussed…

7 in 7 weeks: The catch-up challenge

Our Melbourne pandemic lockdown will continue through September, and then in a relaxed form through October, so I’m looking for a few hardy souls to help me tackle my cultural catch-up from 2019. Four books and three films that I should have read or watched, but for various reasons didn’t. We’re talking about award winners, we’re talking accolade-heavy, we’re…

Spread my wings

The last five weeks, essentially lockdown August, averaged 53 hours of work per week, close to my 2020 target of 54 hours. That’s the positive news, and positive it is, because we all know that the ennui of a pandemic can grip the spirit. But the negative news is that mostly I focused on writing stuff that isn’t my albatross book. In 2020 I should be spending about three quarters of…

Wrestling

The last day of winter. Dreary. Will lockdown ease after a further fortnight? I’ve been busy and absorbed, but not always focused on the book, and today I resumed editing a chapter on Soviet reactors. I’d done a major rewrite back in 2017 and a quality edit in 2018. It’s late morning and I can’t summon back the mood of the old work. So I pluck out the 2017 rewrite, on…

Eagleman re thinking harder

Neurologist/author extraordinaire David Eagleman, discussing his brand new book Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain at one of yesterday’s Edinburgh International Book Festival sessions, makes a point many of my acquaintances are well aware of, at least in the superficial way of having read about it in a newspaper: “People who cognitively challenge themselves their…

How to live a life according to Challis

I recently reread Kittyhawk Down, the second in Garry Disher’s brilliant police procedural series set on the Mornington Peninsula. Listen: Challis glanced around at them one by one. ‘But I’m saying keep an open mind. That should be the first rule of police work. We gather the evidence, analyse it and follow where it leads us.’ This is very close to the mantra oft repeated…

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