Champ

EVERYONE CAN MAKE MASHED potatoes, but what do you do when you want to make the kind of mashed potatoes that deserve a blog post? You make champ, Ireland's answer to the question 'carbohydrates and fats, how can we make these even more delicious'.

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Working from home

IF THE TRANSITION TO mature industrial society entailed a severe restructuring of working habits—new disciplines, new incentives, and a new human nature upon which these incentives could bite effectively—how far is this related to changes in the inward notation of time?

Asked E.P. Thompson in the extremely famous journal article Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism, and his answer (to spoil a half-century old social history argument) was 'quite a bit, and also Methodism'.

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Carry the love from town to town

IT’S A UNIVERSAL HABIT in every era in every culture to express communal desire, keep solidarity, and drive individual courage, in music. Few of the songs I am used to humming and singing to myself are appropriate today: every one seems to call people to gather or come together. It isn’t physical courage we’re required in these times to show anyway, but social distancing demands moral, psychological, and even spiritual courage. We are each of us for the near future in our own prison of the self, but freedom is coming.

Keep Your Eyes On The Prize was one of the key songs of the United States’ civil rights movement in the post-WWII. Like us, they knew things would get worse before they got better. Like us, they knew that patience is impossibly hard. Like us, they could see a different, better world at the end of the journey.

Paul and Silas thought they was lost
Dungeon shook and the chains come off
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

Freedom’s name is mighty sweet
And soon we’re gonna meet
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

…The only chain that a man can stand
Is that chain of hand on hand
Keep your eyes on the prize, hold on

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Much Time And Little To Do

WHEN I STARTED THIS blog in 2011 I had recently been made redundant, and was retraining completely to enter a new field. Little did I know then that the stretch of unemployment and underemployment I was about to go through would be a lot longer than I expected. Even less did I consider the mental health implications of being so far from the world of regular routine work. The time has come again, though perversely, for the moment I’m still in a full-time job; social distancing (which is experienced by every jobseeker) has a way of turning into social isolation, and from isolation to exclusion.

Thankfully we have some literary practices left from the old world to guide us into the new. Get a blog.

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Interior, Cocktail Lounge, Menzies Hotel

ONE OF MY FAVOURITE Australian photographers is Wolfgang Sievers, who fled Nazi Germany to make a commercial career photographing Australian factories, mines, refineries, office buildings, and construction sites. He was a modernist, who liked to remove all the people from his photographs and capture the places as the gigantic machines for abstract production that they, in a sense, were. If like me you like extremely geometric pictures of other people’s workplaces, you’ll like Sievers.

Sometimes though there’s a photograph that goes against the grain of the rest of the otherwise spare and formal collection, in a glorious way, and even though formally posed, just captures a moment. The interior of the Cocktail Lounge, Menzies Hotel, 509 Bourke Street Melbourne is just such a picture.

Waiter, two whiskey sours and a pink gin! Thanks mate!

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