“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





25 December 2019

Nurse Betty makes healing move

Nurse Betty Clare Valley Grenache Rosé 2018 
$22; 12% ethanol; screw cap 

Rosebud jelly with the crunchy dust of summer in stony old Clare and a whiff of freshly-ironed, starched uniform from the days of Gossamer hairspray, before the death of hospital-grade stocking welts ... this is a lovely adult blush of a thing. Having spent so many years making the wines for the Jesuits at Sevenhill, Liz Heidenreich, of that rare Barossa Anglican family, knows the secret of the amount of Grenache that goes into Sevenhill's revered fortified altar wine to give it that rosey tint. The saviour's blood. That's a responsibility. Now she's out on the loose, making her own typically fine Heidenreich wine from her family's old vineyards and other purchased fruit. She's a master at finding the flavours; how best to entrap their complexity and delicacy. This baby, from her less spendy Nurse Betty range, is as dry and resilient as her hospital sense of humour, healthy and well from two successful careers back. But it leaves a little lozenge shaped bud of a secular fleshy flavour and feeling I should only describe as the work of a deeply caring soul. That's Grenache, and that's Liz! I coulda used a big infusion of this delightful haemoglobin in the chemo ward ... 

With Liz and David O'Leary, who visited at the height of the weekend  bushfires.

20 February 2019


Where have I been? What's the time? 

Sometime in November I felt crook and with the deft diagnosis and advice from a brilliant local GP, ended up in the incredible cancer ward at Flinders. It looked like this.

The excellent people there at the Cancer Research Centre (thankyou Lance Armstrong!) quite simply saved my life.

After a few days in intensive, recuperating from a huge pelvis quarrying and the fitment of half a new hip and leg, I went to stay with Berls (Annika Berlingieri) and Adrian Glass, who have a spare bedroom with an en suite fitted for handicapped people. 

I re-learned walking on Adrian's dad's  spare Zimmer. On a crutch or stick now.

Adrian, a winemaker, and Annika, a professional cook with a serious tomato fetish, spend most of their time talking about food. Or actually growing it. Making it. Eating it.

Bonnie, Adrian's ancient Staffie, looked at, rather than after me. But she cares. In spite of everything, we had a great time. No better recuperation possible ... my photos

Then I stayed awhile at Milton Wordley  and Anne-Marie Shin's place a block further down Aldinga Beach. Milt and A-M's baby Staffie, Myrtle, looks after them.

My uncle Philip, really the first professional creative person I met in my childhood, came to visit. He is the last surviving sibling of my Mum's lot. He was a designer and interior decorator. He made me a tiny card. "See," he said, "I'm pushing eighty but I can still do it!"

photos Milton Wordley

When I was well enough to come home to the wee cottage in the vineyards at Yangarra, my brother Stephen (Stemmo, Stavros, Whitey) came from the West ... he took this one

Determined to give the cancer wards a bit of a fashion jolt ... photo by Leon Bignell:

Amongst many other dear old friends, Dennis Atkins called by with Terry Plane - brash hack colleagues in the '70s; a tad more deeply weathered now ... Leon Bignell photo ... Biggles, also a journalist in those grainy days, is the MP for the state seat of Mawson, which includes McLaren Vale, the Southern Fleurieu, and Kangaroo Island. 

He's been part of my Beloved Transport Corps, a squad of volunteers who've been driving me to and from the hospital each day. Here he is with George Grainger Aldridge:

These are Philip's daughters, my loving cousins Kathy and Jan, with us Philips and Bruce Buchan ... it's a deep treasure discovered, re-establishing contact with my far-flung family

photo Milton Wordley

Freshly aware that I'm not alone, apart from being extremely sick, I am very well for an old bloke half-way through a long period of hormone-radio-chemo therapy and some pretty radical surgery ... I feel like a building project manager, just keeping control of all the genius subbies, but still can't line up the right blocks for a proper column.

My sensories have gone nuts ... they rejected me. Evacuated. So far, most of my creative energy has gone into that building project, staying alive and posting the odd tweet.

I have a grand troupe of helpers, friends and supporters from all over the ball, and have little idea of how to thankyou for your care, feelings, time and generous gifts.

You may see the nature of DRINKSTER change as I return.

I'll have to be lot more careful, though. Deep grovelling fulsome apologies to the bunch of folks who recently posted comments which I just now accidentally erased. Damn!