Wednesday, December 13, 2017

2017 round-up for Andrew Byrne and Allan Gill ...

* Travel insurance for cancer sufferers - no luck so far. 
* Menzies Art Auctions - don't go to the auction!
* MONA in Hobart - Egypt on the Derwent. 
* Honolulu ... food, friends and Islamic art museum. 
* Reunion with Dutch friend after 44 years! 
* Piano work composed by patient from 1989 found!

Some details of our year's events might interest some readers. 

I am currently involved in a movement to force companies to cover people with cancer for travel insurance, something that has been a bug-bear of mine since having lymphoma 14 years ago and annual trips to Manhattan. 

We have decided that superannuation funds in a low-interest account is just plain stupid so we have taken to using Menzies auctions as our wall-paper of late.  We make a point of buying NOTHING at the recommended prices and take left-overs which are either passed in or sold below the low estimate if we like them.  In November we chanced upon a Rupert Bunny (could never have dreamed that I would ever own such a work).  It is a lovely rural/agri scene near a French Catalan town in 1926 with mountains in the background, presumably the Pyrenees or foothills thereof. 

My kid sister Marguerite Elwin turned 50 in October and we four went to celebrate at MONA where we basically spent four days underground.  I am not a fan of much of modern art yet their Egyptian collection and overall architecture and vineyard setting on the Derwent estuary are splendid, along with The Source (by John Olsen, a Highlands neighbour) restaurant on site.  The vineyard was originally planted by Claudio Alcorso who also started Sheridan Sheets and was an early patron of the Australian Opera.  See:

We retraced our steps in Honolulu (third time!), including this time a visit to the wonderful home of heiress Doris Duke and its collection of Islamic art … located on the Diamond Head volcano, looking out onto Waikiki Beach it is a many splendid tour (and always booked out on previous visits – now we know why!). 

At the Doris Duke mansion.

My most 'unlikely' event was catching up with a girl I had not seen since holidaying in 1973 and 1975 in Europe as teenagers.  Annemieke Verdoorn had since become a popular TV actress in Holland and her face was known from Antwerp to Capetown.  She later married an Aussie (as you do!) and as I only learned recently, they moved to Sydney where they have a 16 year old son at my old school, Cranbrook!!!   What a small world from Rotterdam to Bellevue Hill!!  We had a lovely reunion luncheon at Potts Point in December. 

While cleaning up before our dreaded accreditation cycle I found some old music written for me by an elderly and grateful patient, composer Lesley Adams.  The manuscript was far too difficult for me so I had filed it away and not thought another thing until this year.  Acclaimed maestro Glenn Amer agreed to play the piece and he recorded it on the spot on his digitally modified Steinway grand player piano.  A charming piece, supposedly about my own 'Alter Ego' (see manuscript excerpts here of this 2 minute keyboard piece - download on request). 

Allan and I have now settled into a nice rhythm living in Burradoo near Bowral and I spend 3 days each week in Sydney while Allan comes up most weeks for a couple of days, his main responsibility being the garden and house in the Highlands (see us in the snow on: )  We mostly catch the Canberra “express” as the freeway is packed and we both dislike driving. 

In December 2016 after ten years, I ceased attending Central Synagogue and I now spend more time in the local mosque (see:

Cheers to all for the season and New Year … Andrew Byrne ..